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Thursday, August 24, 2023

Gentle Correction At Work, Church And Home

Thursday, August 24, 2023 @ 7:04 PM

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. 4 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5 for each one should carry their own load. Galatians 6: 1-5, Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you. Proverbs 9: 8

1. Pray first, listen second and then do it again.

a. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive everyone that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. Luke 11:4

b. It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife; but every fool will be quarreling. Proverbs 20: 3

c. Do not say, “I will repay evil”; Wait for the LORD, and He will rescue and save you.

d. Differing weights are detestable and offensive to the LORD, and fraudulent scales are not good. Proverbs 20:22

e. The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out Proverbs 20:5

With God, process your hurt and frustration as well as your fear and sense of injustice.

2. Be direct.

a. If your brother or sister[a] sins,[b] go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’[c] 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. Matthew 18:15-17

b. Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so, drop the matter before a dispute breaks out. Proverbs 17:14

Don't gossip be passive or avoid. Find a good time and deal with the issue.

3. Build up.

a. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

b. A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

c. Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise - Proverbs 20:1

Don't tear down or unload. Cover one issue at a time.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Faith Prescription for Easing Anxiety Each Day

Sunday, August 20, 2023 @ 1:50 PM

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7)

As I awaken, my mind reels with anxious thoughts stemming from unsettling dreams.
The pit in my stomach gnaws as I recall all the current struggles in my life. The inspirational phrase placed in a photo frame on my nightstand beckons. "This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalms 118:24, NLT)

Armed with this inspiration, I jump out of bed to start my day. After offering a short prayer of thanks, I nourish my body with a healthy breakfast while I nourish my soul with this faith-filled reminder. Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

The phone trumpets the first challenge of the day. Sure enough, my boss requests that I complete a taxing project by tomorrow morning. I agree to email the final report by 8 a.m.

My heart flutters as I remind myself, "I can do all this through Him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:13). Upon quieting the noise in my mind, I outline a realistic game plan to complete the crucial components of this task.

After several productive hours, it becomes evident that elements of this assignment extend beyond my reach. A rival coworker, not exactly known for cooperation, must be consulted. The bible quote, "If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31) flows through my mind as I text a request for assistance.

The Lord answered my prayer. I received the precise information I needed in a few minutes. With gratitude, I acknowledged God’s help. "Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Ephesians 5:20)

Minutes later, my hopeful mood dampened at receiving an email that a close family member was admitted to the hospital with chest pain. In a moment of panic, I recalled the first lines of the serenity prayer, "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference" (Reinhold Niebuhr) *

What's in my control? I muse. Well, I can visit my family member after I finish work this evening. Then I pray for God's healing and divine guidance to all the hospital staff involved. I also pray for the serenity to accept His will in this and all situations. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Satisfied with my efforts with my family member, I focus back on my work. After completing a draft of my project summary, the kitchen faucet starts to drip. Not again, I complain as I call the plumber. I just replaced it last week. Worried about the plumber's fees on my tight budget, I read this scripture passage. "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Matthew 6:25-26)

Miracles do happen! The plumber didn't even charge me. And I emailed my completed work project to my boss at 5 p.m. - with plenty of time to make it to the hospital during visiting hours. As I entered the hospital room, my family member shared the good news that the chest pain was not a heart attack, just a minor stomach issue that only required medication.

As I left the hospital and headed to my car, my boss called to congratulate me on my fine work on that demanding project and to inform me that I will be recommended for a promotion. “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever.” (Psalms 118:1)

Of course, I know that all days do not go so well. And I start to feel anxious about tomorrow when I recall, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:34)

* Excerpt from “The Serenity Prayer” by Reinhold Niebuhr

Article and Photo by Jessica Loftus

Friday, August 18, 2023

Hitting the Wall: Overcoming Life's Challenges!

Friday, August 18, 2023 @ 2:59 PM

You know the feeling. That moment when things seem dark, like the color has been stripped away from your world when either failure or loss tears away plans you’ve made and dreams you envisioned.

Everything that you had been building towards, all of the progress and struggle and sacrifice, everything falls apart, and you’re unsure if there’s a way to pick up the pieces. No matter where you are in your life, whether buying a house, building a career, or trying to relax, there’s the chance you’ll run into THE WALL.

THE WALL is the limit of our abilities, emotions, patience, or luck. THE WALL is the point where we find that our efforts are not good enough and where we find our greatest struggles. THE WALL is where we are beaten.

But it doesn’t have to be. It turns out we climb THE WALL every single day. That’s right. We climb the wall hundreds of times a day. It’s in our head, and we CAN conquer it.

We will talk about some ways to refocus, dust ourselves off, and get over that beast. There isn’t any single, unified approach. There’s no “one-size-fits-all” road to success, even though many self-help books insist there is. But we can use skills, tactics, and mindsets to keep ourselves in the fight, no matter what that fight may be.

THE WALL is where we fail, but it must not be where we give up!

Remember the story of Moses (Exodus 17) when the Israelites were battling the Amalekites? As long as Moses' arms are raised, God's people will be victorious against their enemies. But should Moses' arms fall, the enemy will win. Even though he bravely tried to hold up his arms so the Israelites would win the battle, Moses became fatigued. He couldn't do it alone. His brother, Aaron, and his general, Hur, knew Moses couldn't do it alone. They had him sit on a rock and stood on either side of him, holding up his arms until the day ended and the battle was won.

All of us will hit the wall, as Moses did, no matter how strong our faith is, how dedicated we are, and how strong we are physically.

That's why we need each other. But we can also look at different ways to climb those walls (obstacles) we face daily.

The first and most crucial step in overcoming an obstacle is to identify what prevents us from achieving our goals and define the obstacle itself. To do that, we also must have a firm grasp on what our goal is and the conditions in which we will find satisfaction.

We do this kind of evaluation subconsciously all the time; “I am hungry; I do not have a burger,” for example. The solution to the obstacle is simple and straightforward in this case. We can hit a drive-thru or get the pan out and cook a hamburger ourselves.

However, when the Obstacle becomes more complex, we may have to take more time and effort to examine what hinders our progress.

This may seem basic to some readers, but the fundamentals are important. We absolutely must be capable of expanding our awareness of the situation before we can dissect and dismantle the obstacle. We have to be able to slow things down, to stop and pay attention, focus, and see where we can improve. This step comes with an important task, which cannot or MUST NOT be skipped.

We have to figure out if we can win the fight at all or if we need to.

Ultimately, we cannot overcome everything. We cannot overcome every obstacle.

Failure is as much a part of the human experience as success, and while it often feels like defeat is a precursor to death, it’s rarely so serious.

As we analyze our situation, we may find that encountering the wall has made us realize our priorities are skewed and need to be adjusted, or the obstacles have challenged us to grow or obtain success we would not have otherwise obtained.

Often, our emotions distort our perception, and we place a heightened level of importance on the immediate challenge that might not be necessary or appropriate. By taking a step back, examining our emotional response, and reframing the problem through a lens of rationality, we might find that the thing that currently confounds us may be out of our control or something that can be side-stepped entirely.

Save yourself the frustration of climbing THE WALL if you don’t need to or want to climb it! If you take the time to determine that you care about the problem you are facing, the next steps become easier, and you can adjust how much you care later down the line.

It’s vital to note that other people's actions and feelings are NOT under our control. If your rational examination of THE WALL reveals someone else is controlling your progress, you’ll have to adjust your strategy. More on that later, but for now, focus on what YOU can accomplish.

Once we’ve figured out what the obstacle is and that there is something we can do to overcome it, we have to enact the plan.

Whether it’s physical improvement, relationship goals, or learning a new skill, having a course of action that includes intent and commitment is necessary. An added bonus is to simply write it down. In short, you must maintain the idea that YOU CAN DO THIS in your mind at all times and learn to manage emotions and expectations until that idea becomes a reality, whether it takes a short time or a long time.

Specificity can be extraordinarily helpful in this stage; it’s better to set a plan that includes performance milestones. It’s HARD to lose 20 pounds or play the guitar like Hendrix, but if our plan is “eat more vegetables and less pie” or “learn how to play a chord this week,” we can break THE WALL into manageable “sections.” The smaller the sections, the easier they are to get over.

OK, we have our plan, our goal, and the all-important realistic and rational appraisal of our own ability. We’re almost there! Now, all we have to do is build our skills and find our flow, and this part can take YEARS! Ideally, in fact, it will take the rest of your life. Ultimately, if we can conquer THE WALL, we will do so by improving ourselves, our communication, our focus, and our habits.

If possible, you’ll want to do something easy to say and hard to accomplish; Detach your sense of self-worth from success or failure.

This isn't easy. It’s INCREDIBLY counter-intuitive to reaffirm that failure does not make you a bad person.

Naturally, there is a sense of scale to be considered; failure to meet a deadline is less of an indication of your character than, say, failure to remain faithful in a relationship, so this step needs to be performed carefully. If THE WALL you face will affect other people, you need to communicate with them honestly and openly before you begin attempting a course of action.

This is essentially your chance to call in a secret weapon. If you can, get help. If THE WALL is too tough to break down alone, find someone with a jackhammer. If you don’t naturally have the skill set necessary to achieve your goal, getting assistance from someone that does will help you develop new skills more efficiently.

In most cases, the people who can help you have had to do the same thing themselves. This might be a personal trainer or a gym buddy for obstacles like physical fitness. For relationship hurdles, we (of course) highly recommend therapy, or at the very least, an honest and open discussion with the people involved in the relationship. If you’re trying to develop new skills or a new career, get insight from those who have walked that road before or have expertise in those areas. They may show you holes in THE WALL that you didn’t see before and help you overcome the wall more quickly or successfully.

Finally, you’re going to want to find a community. NO MATTER WHAT YOUR STRUGGLE IS, YOU NEED COMMUNITY, even if it’s a problem you can solve yourself.

We are human. We will fail, possibly several times, until we succeed and ALL hit THE WALL. We need other people who understand the struggle and can provide support, especially those who share our values.

Sometimes, we will need encouragement through the more complicated parts of our personal growth, even if it comes from someone uninvolved in our personal WALL. We need people to celebrate when we finally get over the top, and we need to share what we have learned as well. It is incredibly important that we share the lessons that we have learned with others to lessen the burden of the struggle.

Humans have the most amazing capacity for change and achievement. It may take a ton of time. It might take assistance, organization, or tools. But that’s life. Getting over THE WALL makes our lives and communities better, stronger, and more capable of supporting each other. In the end, that’s the greatest goal.

We can start building bridges once we hit the top of THE WALL. And that’s when we can become advocates to help others overcome their walls and find joy in our and their journeys.

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Healthy Cell Phone Habits for Your Kids

Thursday, August 17, 2023 @ 12:45 PM

Based on extensive research studies, it is evident that children on social media checking on their number of likes and followers have led to increased number of suicides (pre-COVID). Many children suffer from anxiety due to their activity on social media and feeling not good enough or unloved. Research says that the amount of time spent on social media negatively effects children’s well-being and mental health. However, there is good news…we have tips that may be benefit your children and family unit.

 Tip #1: Connection before Correction
o It is imperative that you establish a healthy relationship with your children before jumping right into rules. Rules without relationship leads to rebellious children. Talk with your children about the research studies mentioned above and engage in a dialogue to answer their questions.
 Tip #2: Delay social media until High School
o Although this is very difficult and you may get lots of push back from your children, it is beneficial to resist giving in. According to the Federal Trade Commission’s Children’s Online Privary Protection Act (COPPA) children are not legally permitted to be on social media until they are 13 years of age. There are lots of content that your children under the age of 13 should be restricted from viewing.
 Tip #3: Keep electronic devices out of the bedroom at night
o There have many horror stories of children getting into troubling situations after they turn in for the night having their phones with them in their beds. To help parents avoid unfortunate events from occurring, it is best practice to collect your children’s phones every night about an hour before bedtime. Watch out for your children making excuses of why they need their phones with them at night such as “But Mom, I need it for my alarm”. Be strong and keep their phones and buy them an alarm clock.

Provide your children with evidence-based research of why you are setting these ground rules surrounding their possession of a smart phone. You will be saving them from negative thoughts about themselves and prevent them from experiencing severe levels of anxiety and depression.

Healthy vs. Toxic Relationships

Thursday, August 17, 2023 @ 12:44 PM

Is your relationship considered a healthy or toxic one? It may be difficult to decipher between the two, dependent upon the dynamics of your family of origin and what you consider to be normal. For instance, one may believe that their relationship is healthy based on what was modeled to them during their childhood upbringing. The important question here is how you define a healthy relationship versus an unhealthy relationship. If it was a simple and/or obvious question to answer, then I believe that no one would allow themselves to remain in an unhealthy relationship. It is a complex distinction for others, especially for those who grew up witnessing domestic violence between their parents.

In my experience working with couples, it has become evident that in a marital dynamic, one spouse may view an unhealthy relationship differently from their spouse. This means that one partner may normalize and minimize any issues that cause distress because of their own childhood experiences. It is likely that the other partner may become easily frustrated with their marriage and would rather dissolve their relationship. Therefore, when a couple is at odds, it is vitally important to reach out to a professional to gain a greater understanding of the difference between a healthy and unhealthy relationship.

Below are bullet points emphasizing characteristics of each type of relationship

Healthy Relationships
• Honesty and transparency
• Exchange of kind and loving words
• Respect and appreciation
• Compromise without giving up either partner’s core needs
• Expressing vulnerability without blaming the other partner
• Accepting responsibility of your own behaviors and apologizing

Unhealthy Relationships
• Criticizing
• Contemptuous comments or behaviors
• Tearing down your partner with negative comments (publicly or privately)
• Name calling
• Physical violence
• Addictions
• Always holding a “righteous” stance
• Blaming

Which characteristics do you identify that is occurring in your relationship? If you circled more than one under the Unhealthy Relationships category, it may be helpful to reach out to a professional to shift towards healthier patterns.

Prioritizing Your Marriage

Thursday, August 17, 2023 @ 12:44 PM

Your marriage will go through various stages as you grow and experience things together. At times, it may feel that your marriage is placed on the back burner while focusing on other things that may appear more important. How many times do you find yourself hyper-focused and consumed of other things such as your job, children, finances, extended family members, health, service, etc.? Don’t worry, you are not alone, this happens to probably most if not all marriages. However, as it is written in Genesis 2:24 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh”, it is clear that as you agree to marriage, you must put your spouse after your relationship with God.

There have been numerous times when couples are asked, what are your priorities in life, that their spouse is listed towards the bottom. This is the number one reason that couples experience distress and in turn loveless relationships. It is imperative that once you decide to get married, your priorities in life must be shifted. Always place your relationship and spiritual life first and your spouse comes next. Even when you transition into parenthood, be careful to shift all of your focus on your child(ren). It is easy for this to happen, therefore take time to reflect on your life and identify how much time is spent on nurturing your marriage versus your children. There is no doubt that young children need your attention, but so does your spouse. Make time to spend quality time with your spouse (without the children) at least once a week. Be creative with how you want to spend your date time without it breaking your financial bank. Take turns to schedule date days/nights and look forward to that time alone.

Here are some simple ways to show your spouse that they are important in your life:
• Be kind to your spouse
• Be a friend to your spouse
• Accept their influence as you value your own opinions
• Look for the good in your spouse and speak it
• Express appreciation daily
• Assume the best from your spouse
• Ask God to present your best self in front of your spouse
• Meet your spouse’s emotional needs while putting yours aside
• Express verbal and non-verbal affection
• Thoughtful gifts
• Special notes or texts
• Make your spouse breakfast in bed
• Cook a special meal that you both can share after children are in bed
• Whisper in your partner’s ears something that they can look forward to

Prioritizing your marital relationship will bring your days, weeks, months, and years of joy and happiness. Your marriage will not make you happy, but you can make your marriage happy with your positive intentions.

Conflict Interaction

Thursday, August 17, 2023 @ 12:43 PM

Conflict Interaction

Think about replaying your last big argument/fight with your partner. Describe what you see both partners doing and/or saying. Does this type of behavior remind you of another couple, maybe friends, parents, siblings, co-workers, etc.? The way that you converse with your partner during a highly conflictual interaction may resemble something that you are too familiar with. It is likely because that is what was modeled for you and it may have been normalized. Think back during your childhood experiences, what did you witness your parents saying or doing while they were arguing? How did they manage conflicts? Generational patterns are carried out…is this happening to you? If so, there is good news, you can break that pattern. The first step is to recognize it, then become aware of it when it happens in your relationship, finally begin to make changes in the way you are dialoguing with your partner.

St. James depicts is clearly in his passage, “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” James 1-19. To engage in a healthy dialogue, remember that you are speaking to the one you love and chose to be your life partner. Take time to think about how you want to express a negative emotion without blaming your partner, rather complain about a behavior with a positive suggestion. Listen to your partner as they express their thoughts and emotions. Validate what your partner is feeling, because feelings are real. If you feel that you are beginning to lose control of the conversation, ask for a break. Take time to self-soothe and then come back to the conversation using a soft start-up. Listen to your tone and adjust it if needed.

“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary education, that it may impart grace to the hearers” Ephesians 4:29. The words that are used during a conversation can either improve or damage your relationship. Once words are released out of your mouth, it is impossible to take it back. Words can be hurtful, therefore use kind words to express your thoughts. If you feel defensive when your partner is talking to you about a situation, it probably means that it’s too difficult to admit some truth to what they are saying. Research studies have shown that we are all responsible for at least 30% of what is happening or being said in a conversation. Take accountability and admit when you fell short.

Use repair attempts when you feel things have gotten out of control during a conversation. Admit when you are wrong and say “I am sorry” or “I didn’t mean it that way”. Accept influence by saying “Yes, that makes sense, I agree with you”. Understand your partner’s perspective recognizing that you do not necessarily have to agree with their viewpoint. It’s healthy to have opposite opinions so embrace each other’s differences. Always keep in mind that you chose each other for life and want to have healthy conversations. Bring things up that cause you both to laugh. Laughter is a great way to lighten the mood when things get difficult to talk through.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Free Stress Management Workshop: Unwind, Relax, and Thrive

Wednesday, August 16, 2023 @ 11:14 AM

This stress management workshop is designed to help participants understand and manage stress in a healthy and effective way. Through various techniques and strategies, participants will learn to identify stressors, develop coping mechanisms, and create a balanced lifestyle. This workshop will provide practical tools to help individuals navigate stress and enhance their overall well-being.

Registration Required * Limited Slots Available

Sept 16 * 3:00-5:00 PM EST * 1009 Frederick Rd. * Suite 1 * Catonsville, MD 21228

To register, complete the Registration Form below:

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Premarital Group

Tuesday, August 15, 2023 @ 4:54 PM

Are you thinking of getting engaged? Are you in a serious relationship? Are you already engaged?
If you answered yes to any of these join us for 8 weeks of premarital group counseling.
The group is led by one of our certified PREPARE/ENRICH Facilitators and Licensed Associate Marriage and Family Therapists.
We have 4 locations for you and your partner to choose from: Bloomfield, Randolph, Fort Lee or Midland Park. We also offer a video group for those who are further away and want to build relationships and be prepared for a long and vibrant marriage.
We have openings for just 5 couples at each location so don't wait. Groups start the week of September 11.
Contact for more information and to sign up.

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Feed Your Marriage

Sunday, August 6, 2023 @ 8:38 AM

This blog is going to focus on what steps to take to feed your marriage. However, I would like to begin with an analogy of what will likely happen to your marital relationship if you don’t spend time nourishing it. Think of your indoor/outdoor plants…if they are not watered, fed, clipped, trimmed, pruned, transplanted, etc., what is likely going to happen to them? Simply put…they will begin to wither and eventually die. That’s exactly what happens in a relationship that is not fed with healthy nourishments. I don’t mean to sound harsh when I say this, but excuses of not having enough time are just that, EXCUSES. Think of your professional career, if you begin to neglect your duties and responsibilities, it may lead to your termination.

From personal experiences, I understand that ‘Life’ can get busy and chaotic. As child-rearing parents of three, from infancy to adulthood, my husband and I found it challenging to just keep up with fulfilling our children’s basic needs, desires, schedules, and spending quality time with them. Over time, we noticed that we both became too comfortable in our marriage and shifted priority to our children. This was a very dangerous situation we found ourselves in. As our marriage was dwindling, we found that our children were suffering due to increased bickering, disagreements, and arguments causing familial distress. Hence, after becoming aware of our shortcomings, we became intentional to carve out alone time spent with each other. This took a lot of concerted effort on both of our parts as we were very busy raising our children.

As a result of my personal and professional experiences, I am providing suggestions of how to feed your marriage, surrounding chaotic and busy schedules.

• Schedule daily 20-30 minutes to engage in stimulating conversations with your spouse; no complaining about each other
• Plan and execute caring behaviors (make your spouse his/her favorite meal once a week)
• Coordinate a babysitter to have weekly date nights
• Surprise your spouse with a Because I Love You gift (monthly or bi-monthly)
• Initiate sexual intimacy when your spouse least expects it
• Show physical affection (i.e. holding hands, hugging, kisses, and cuddling) in front of your children
• Leave loving post-it notes for your spouse (weekly or monthly)

These are just some suggestions; however I am sure that you can come up with a few on your own. Stay focused on doing or saying something that will put a smile on your spouse’s face. Please do not keep score on who does what; this is called Quid Pro Quo and will NOT work. This will likely cause you both to feel discouraged and disappointed. Be intentional to feeding your marriage with positive contributions that will last a life time.

Sexual Intimacy: The Creation of Sex

Sunday, August 6, 2023 @ 8:37 AM

God created sex with an amazing design in mind! Part of his design is that it only occurs in the safety and security of marriage. There are three reasons for sexual intercourse that is found in the Bible:
• Oneness before God
• Pleasure
• Procreation
God created sex to be enjoyable, pleasurable, and passionate in marriage. He created sex and called the union between man and woman "very good". The purpose of sex is a celebration of our oneness in the sight of God.

Married couples often have different expectations and desires relative to sexual intimacy. The following are identified areas that needs to be addressed in your marriage:
• How often you engage in sex
• The timing of when to have sex is chosen
• Your emotional connection
• Quality time spent together outside the bedroom
• Time spent in foreplay before having sex
• How you verbalize your affection and love
• The amount of nonsexual touch you share with your spouse
• The strength of your relationship with God
I advise you to take one of these areas to discuss with your spouse weekly until they have all been addressed. Talking about sex may be awkward or uncomfortable, especially if there have been some "rocky" times in the relationship. Here are a few ideas for communicating about sex:
1. Pray for wisdom and that God would help your heart be in the right place before you approach your spouse
2. Wait for the right moment and location when talking about sensitive subjects
3. Be clear about your sexual likes and dislikes. Your spouse cannot read your mind, so he/she needs to know about the turn-offs as well. When you feel pleased in the bedroom, it will help your spouse know that they did a great job.
4. Use good communication techniques; avoid using words like "You always..." or "You never...". Phrases like "I feel like..." and "Help me understand...". Rephrasing the way you communicate with your spouse will help your spouse not feel like you are accusing him/her.
5. Learn to flirt with each other outside of the bedroom to lighten the mood. Whisper in your spouse's ear to mention your desires which can help build the excitement and anticipation for the big moment.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

International Overdose Awareness Day: Honoring Lives, Inspiring Change

Wednesday, August 2, 2023 @ 12:47 PM

August 31st marks International Overdose Awareness Day each year. In recent years, the world has been coping with a devastating opioid epidemic that has claimed countless lives and left communities in disarray. This day serves as a poignant reminder of the lives lost and an opportunity to raise awareness about the overdose crises. This day is not only a time to remember those who have passed, but also to support those survivors affected.

After a traumatic event such as overdose, it can be extremely difficult to grieve your loved one. Some reactions that may follow your grief are guilt, anger, shame, and isolation. There are many emotions that occur when someone dies, but when the death is from an overdose, the most difficult ones rise to the surface.

Due largely to the opioid and fentanyl epidemic, Ohio has one of the highest per capita death overdose rate. On July 18th, the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner issued a public health alert due to nine overdose deaths within a 24-hour period.

We’ve learned from our Cleveland Overdose Loss Support Group participants that there are common, yet unique, challenges faced by those grieving an overdose loss. These groups offer a safe place, and sense of belonging to individuals and families who may feel isolated or stigmatized due to addiction. Being surrounded by others who have faced similar struggles can provide a comforting and non-judgmental space to share stories, emotions, and challenges.

For anyone that has lost a loved one due to overdose, knowing that others have face similar battles can provide a sense of relief and hope. Through shared stories and guidance from our facilitators, the support group participants can find peace and learn healthy ways to navigate their emotions.

Last year, Cornerstone of Hope began a Mid-Ohio Traumatic Loss Response Team program in Central Ohio. This program provides the survivors of overdose loss with emotional support, crisis intervention and links these survivors to local resources or faith communities.

Our response team volunteers are trained in crisis intervention and peer companioning. They are all reliable, gentle, and compassionate individuals that have also been through their own healing journey and are ready to provide care to others.

It is important to reach out to your friends or family that may be affected by this kind of tragic loss. Grief can be very isolating. Those that have lost their loved ones often want others to check in on them, sit with them, listen and embrace their pain. Overdose Awareness Day is a solemn yet powerful reminder of the devastating impact of addiction and the urgent need for action. By sharing personal stories and advocating for each other, we can drive meaningful change and turn our pain into purpose.

by Juliana Myers