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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.

Friday, May 5, 2023

More Than We can Imagine

Friday, May 5, 2023 @ 3:39 PM

Years ago, I worked as a medical social worker and bereavement counselor in hospice. It was a role that was meaningful, profound, humbling, terrifying, and beautiful, often all at the same moment. There were so many times over the years when I wondered what difference I could make amid the deep pain of the loss being experienced around me. The reality of death was raw, biting, and indiscriminating. Death came to the young and old; the rich and poor; the solitary individuals and to those surrounded by family and friends.

Looking back on that time, I see a woman who began her work in hospice bearing a shield. I was often very frightened, and I felt very small. So I strode into a patient’s home like a knight grasping my armor, ready to fend off arrow and spear, terror and fear. Now, I feel such remorse as I remember that clinician. I must have come across as removed and protected and perhaps as if I was hiding behind a flimsy, false wall of knowledge and efficacy.

God was working on me, though, as death and pain and sorrow taught me time and again that all the protective mechanisms I conjured up were bound to fail. No matter how high my castle walls, death would still come to me and those I love. It seems miraculous, but the Holy Spirit was hard at work in me and on me, melting away my falseness, shattering my pride, stripping away the defenses I’d kept in place. I believe it was then, when by grace I learned to embrace my own naked vulnerability, that I began to develop into a person who could be a healing, loving presence for those who were grieving.

I have a favorite scripture passage that guides me now, from Ephesians 3:20: “Now all praise to God, who through the power at work within us is able to do far more than we could ask or imagine….” What I learned all those years ago was that in walking in the truth of my own vulnerable, fragile humanity, in reaching out and meeting a grieving person from this humbled place, God’s spirit can do healing, wondrous, sacred, profound work. When my vulnerable heart meets your broken one and we invite God’s presence, the Holy Spirit shows up with works beyond any I can do alone and with a power and mystery and love that teach me about life, death, and the resurrected Christ over and over again.

“Now all praise to God, who through the power at work within us can do far more than we could ask or imagine!”

By Annie Dalby

Monday, April 10, 2023

Finding Strength in Weakness

Monday, April 10, 2023 @ 12:23 PM

If the story of Samson is any indication, men can have all the God-given strength in the world and still be thwarted by our own temptations. No matter how strong we are physically or mentally it means nothing if we are not spiritually strong.

The only protection against sin is our reliance upon the Word and Power of God. If we turn to God in times of weakness, asking for guidance and protection, He will give us the wisdom and fortitude to overcome anything Satan throws at us.

That's why I love the story of Samson. Despite everything he's lost, despite everything he's been through, even in his last dying moment he finds strength in his weakness and relies on the Power of God to help him vanquish his enemies. Like Samson, we cannot fight the enemy alone. For us to heal, grow, and thrive we need the Power of God every step of the way.

Friday, April 7, 2023

Loss, Burial and Resurrection as a Life and Leadership Concept

Friday, April 7, 2023 @ 7:55 PM

What is gone in your life? What have you lost? What has gone away? What seems irretrievable?

Have your kids gone away to college?, Have one of your staff left? Has your status changed?, Are you grieving the way things used to be in life and at work?

All these questions are, in a sense, rhetorical in that they deal with losses that we have in life. It is important for us to grieve the stuff to understand the loss and the feelings around them.

Next step: Have you buried your loss? Given it away? Given it up? Given it over to God? Let it go?, Put it out of reach?, Let go of control?, Given responsibility away?, Let go of your freedom and privilege?, Let go of your entitlement? This important step allows for a clean break from your loss, at least for a season.

Last step. This is where we allow for resurrection. Perhaps the Phoenix bird arises from the ashes as it did after the Oakland fire. If you have any doubts go back and look at the beautiful houses in that neighborhood. Perhaps it's redemption or vindication for you or some you know. Perhaps you reinvent your career and reinvent yourself. Maybe you take on a new role at work. I know of a guy who was involved in a scandal at church. Today he helps ministers avoid finding themselves in that hot water. What resurrection are you waiting for? God is God of resurrection so don't forget to ask. Joseph, in Genisis, let's his old life die and be buried and then it's resurrected in his life in Egypt as VP of the country and reunification with his family.

Find help in identifying what may need to be grieved, buried and resurrected in some new form or another. A good friend, counselor or coach can help you do that.

Thursday, April 6, 2023

10 Benefits of Summer Horse Camp

Thursday, April 6, 2023 @ 2:21 PM

Hope Reins

Our Camp is a social skills camp and a summer camp.

Social Skills Camp
A social skills camp offers many benefits for children. Research shows that those who have better social skills and a higher EQ (emotional IQ) tend to do better at school, in friendships, and even in future jobs. Our social skills camp offers an experience that focuses on learning and practicing the social and emotional skills of Respect, Relationship Skills, Responsibility, Boundaries, Choices, and Consequences. We also teach and practice how to manage feelings using mindfulness and self-regulation skills. We do this all while working with horses!

Horse Camp
We are a horse camp too. Your child or teen will learn all about horses and how one’s intention and ability to manage emotions affect the ability to connect and lead horses. We partner the students up with the horses to practice problem-solving, social skills and self-regulation, and more. All the social skills that we teach are needed to be effective with horses so your child will not just be learning them but practicing these skills! We keep camps at a max capacity of 8 children so every child has a chance to learn and practice with a horse.

Horse Camp Dates:
June 12th-16th for 7-12 years old

July 17th-22nd for Teens

Go here to sign up:

Now let’s get to the overall benefits of summer camp. We’ve got 10 of ‘em and they’re all good ones. Grab a cup of coffee or a snack because this is about to get very educational!

Top Ten Benefits of Summer Camp
1. Your child will get outdoors!

I don’t know about you but my mom would always kick me out of the house to play most days, but especially when the weather was nice. It was fun to play outside and explore. Nowadays this is harder to accomplish with fears about safety and competition with screens. Our camp is located on a beautiful 20-acre property 45 miles from Chicago. We have beautiful oak trees, hills, ponds, and of course horses. Your kid will be immersed in nature! Research has seemingly caught up with what moms seemed to know. There are numerous studies that show being outdoors just 2 hours a week (only 18 minutes a day) leads to improvement in both cognitive and emotional health in children and adults*. In a large study of children ages 0 to 10 years old, for those who spent more time outdoors, there was less risk for depression, mood disorders, eating disorders, and substance abuse*. Those who had the least time outdoors had a 55% greater chance of being diagnosed with a mental illness later in life*. Scientists theorize that the more humans are out in nature, they develop a “sense of awe” and feel connected to something bigger than themselves*. And really it is just old fashioned fun!

2. Your child will get off screens:

While being outdoors has great benefits for the health and well-being of children, studies show the opposite for the effects of screen time. Children are more sedentary, experience less time outside, and have trouble interacting socially (i.e eye contact). A recent study showed an increase in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in preteens with more screen time. The study showed that for every hour of screen time, there was a 15% chance of developing OCD*. Another study showed children who are given screens to calm down have less ability to self-soothe or regulate emotions. I think children and teens who are on screens a lot can forget that being outside can be fun. Camp can be a great way to break this pattern.

3. Your child will practice independence:

Children have the chance to experiment with learning new things in a new way. Instead of being in the structured school experience with their usual friend groups; your child or teen will be given the opportunity to be independent, branch out, and explore new skills without judgment or preconceived notions. In our camp, children will have the opportunity to learn, brainstorm and practice the key concepts of emotional intelligence. They will have to master what empathy and connection are as they work with a horse. Horses won’t just automatically ‘connect’ but will assess each child’s ability to connect with them by how well they use the skills.

4. Your child will have fun:

Our camps also make sure that there is fun while learning new skills. Time at school is filled with tests, and performance pressure but our camps are filled with creative, fun, and unique experiences. So even while they are learning new concepts, we incorporate silly costumes and laughter in everything we do. It keeps the challenges fun and playful instead of overwhelming. And they get to see how horses also enjoy the fun!

5. Your child will practice teamwork:

Camps are typically organized in teams and encourage problem-solving and working together in creative and fun ways. Children get to see what they can do in a team vs individually. So while independence and individual activity are important, they will also practice how to be effective in a group. Since horses live in a herd, they are amazingly skilled at making sure everyone is working together as a team.

6. Your child will learn unique skills:

Camps are designed to introduce a skill, teach the skill, and then practice for a whole week. At our summer social skills camp, we focus on the skills of respect, empathy, emotional regulation, making healthy choices, fostering relationships, and setting healthy boundaries. Our facilitators are all counselors with master’s degrees and certified horse specialists with many years of experience. The horses provide honest and unbiased feedback right away. Your child will immediately know if they are practicing the skills of emotional intelligence. And since horses don’t hold grudges they will adjust as your child adjusts. All of this leads to empowerment as your child sees what works and what doesn’t. One of our favorite comments of all time is when a camper said, ‘It’s like the horses know exactly what we are learning for the day!”

7. Your child will get moving:

Most summer camps get kids moving in lots of fun ways, like hiking or canoeing. At our camp, we integrate movement and breathwork whether the students are walking in the pasture with a horse or stretching to relax their bodies. Since horses require a calm and congruent presence, your child will begin to develop body awareness and skills that help with managing their emotions. Movement can be key to self-regulation. And of course, we all know just like our moms did that physical activity is always healthy!

8. Your child will develop confidence:

Being away from home or their usual environment gives children and teens the opportunity to see what they are capable of. Many children don’t feel confident because they haven’t had the chance to try something new or different. Or perhaps they worry about being judged in school and feel stuck in the“box” of what others think of them. Camp allows participants to broaden their horizons. Since horses are animals of prey, they require a confident and calm presence to feel safe. If someone is pretending to be ok –smiling on the outside– but is really afraid or negative on the inside, the horse will know and will not feel safe. So in order to be effective in working with a horse, your child must practice what it takes to be determined inside and out. This leads to huge bursts of confidence when they see how they can lead a 1000-pound animal!

9. Your child will have new friend opportunities

All summer camps give children the opportunity to meet new people. Often they will get a chance to meet people from different racial or economic backgrounds. And some can become lifelong friends as camp friends often share unique and unforgettable experiences. In our camp, we are zeroing in on the skills it takes to start and maintain healthy friendships. For a child who struggles with developing friends, this camp focuses on developing social skills and managing anxiety that can stop them from trying. We also discuss how to have healthy boundaries so that they don’t sacrifice their values to just “have friends”.

10. Your child will be challenged to grow in a safe environment:

Our camps are led by a Master's-level counselor and at least one Certified Equine Specialist. This provides a high level of emotional and physical safety while challenging your child in a way that leads to growth. We have a curriculum that is designed to help children develop emotional intelligence. Your child will reap the benefits of individualized and group coaching from those who are specially trained in these areas. And research shows that as your child’s EQ improves, they tend to do better academically, socially, and in future jobs. We purposely keep groups small so each child has the chance to practice these skills individually and in the group with the horses. Instead of just hearing about these skills, campers get to practice using them with the horse. That leads to better learning and remembering!


Monday, April 3, 2023

Therapy cards, Counseling cards, Tarjetas de terapia, Tarjetas de consejería, Cartes de thérapie, Cartes de conseil, Counseling material, therapist helper, therapy resource

Monday, April 3, 2023 @ 5:01 PM

Caja de 64 tarjetas de terapia (5” x 3”) hermosas, motivadoras, inspiradoras, empoderadoras y edificantes del Dr. Remy Nelson, un psicoterapeuta líder que sirve a Florida y Nueva York. El Dr. Nelson ha estado ayudando a clientes durante muchos años, y sus tarjetas de terapia en inglés, cartes de thérapie (francés) y tarjetas de terapia (español) están diseñadas para ayudarlo a manejar sus sentimientos y mejorar la calidad de su día. Las tarjetas están recomendadas para jóvenes y adultos de todas las edades.
Pueden ayudarlo a enfrentar una variedad de desafíos de la vida, incluida la autoestima, la autoestima, no sentirse lo suficientemente bien, la ansiedad, la depresión, solo por nombrar algunos de los problemas que las tarjetas pueden ayudarlo a abordar. Puede usar las tarjetas cuando esté en terapia, contemplando ir a terapia o no planeando asistir a terapia en absoluto.
Cómo puedes usar las tarjetas: Hay 64 cartas en cada paquete de cartas (disponibles en inglés, español y francés). Use las tarjetas para establecer el tono de su día, para meditar, para  orar o simplemente leer. Puede sacar uno al día y leerlo por la mañana, por la tarde y por la noche antes de acostarse.

English Cards Link:

French Cards Link:

Spanish Card Link:

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Mental health thought of the day.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023 @ 7:46 PM

Mental health thought of the day.

Today I want to take a moment to discuss a major mental health issue I find myself dealing with various clients. And that issue is Narcissistic abuse. Primarily the Insidious Hypocritical Covert Narcissist.
A lot of you who are on my Face Book page, my old Face Book Page, Second Chance Ministries and Wellness Centers new Face Book Page and the old Face Book page, know I am a Nationally Board Certified Clinical Christian Psychologist as well as the Senior and Head Pastor of SCMWC Those of you who know me personally know I am a Veteran from a dual service Navy/Army. You also know that I have three post graduate degrees, Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (PsyD), Doctorates in Religious Theological Studies with a dual minor in Biblical Studies/Ministries, and a Doctorates in Christian Psychology/ Christian Counseling with a dull emphasis in marriage and family dynamics and human behavior and trauma. I have always said you don’t wake up one day and say “ You know what? I think I am going to become a pastor and start my own Ministries and then I am going to add a Mental Health Center to it and practice Christian Counseling” You don’t just wake up and decided that. God calls you into Ministries, He tells you to start a Ministry and to add the Mental Health Clinic/ Wellness Center to it. He tell you in Scripture, That God new you before you were in the whom, He named You , He knows His plan for you and wants to bless you and see you prosper. In Isaiah 54:17 “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn.”. Meaning is you are like me and thousands of others who have become victims of some sort of Domestic Violence from being in a Narcissistic relationship, and they have in some way continue to directly or indirectly control you , ( indirectly meaning through so call friends or family members , stalk social media or even have some kind of legal matter against you or on you ) Know this is you truly believe In Christ is your savior and you live your life in accordance to God purpose for you and the Kingdom. Rest assure this Scripture will apply to you and it will take place soon if it hasn’t already. Another scripture that goes right along with Isaiah 54:17 is Proverbs 16:7 “When people's lives please the LORD, even their enemies are at peace with them.” Once again in accordance with God purpose for you and the Kingdom if it hasn’t all ready happened , one day when God says the time is right those who did you wrong or abused you will come to you and beg for forgiveness and will sincerely apologize to you for what they did to you and how they treated you. God is a gentleman He can not and will never lie to you , leave you or forsake you. His word is absolute truth and you can trust and believe what God says and tells you will come to past. God timing is perfect and always , always right on time.
What makes the Insidious Hypocritical Covert Narcissist so different then all other types of Narcissist is they play, act, and appear to be the “ nice guy/woman”. But are masters at deception and always playing the victim. I will go way more in depth about Insidious Hypocritical Covert Narcissist, here in a little bit below. But first I want to say this, The number one thing all Narcissist absolutely hate and can not stand what so ever is when their victims i.e. you and those of you who can relate to this post , Over come the devastating hurt and pain the caused us. They hate and cant stand we have moved on with our lives, become genuine happy, we have rebuilt and better newer stronger life than before. We are more successful and we did it because they help us become who we are now simply by trying to destroy us. A couple other things about Insidious Hypocritical Covert Narcissist most of the time but not all the time these type of Narcissist have undiagnosed BPD all so known as Boarder Line Personality Disorder. And some experts say the Insidious Hypocritical Covert Narcissist are not born this way but are made this way by childhood trauma or early adulthood trauma, sometimes both. Experts also say that a Insidious Hypocritical Covert Narcissist also more than likely do develop some form of BPD. They may have some if not all the markers of BPD. Now being a follower and having been Chosen by God Himself a few things will happen is not all ready happing to our ex the Insidious Hypocritical Covert Narcissist. Their world since they discarded us has and is falling apart and will continue to do so until God brings them back into your life so they can apologize and ask for forgiveness. Don’t believe me! If you by chance or for whatever reason have some kind of contact either direct or indirect. Say social media or know someone who knows them. You will see a pattern by things going on in their life. And when you put two and two together you start to see, they genially regretting how they treated you and what they did to you. Especially if they where the type of person who actually for once turned to God and prayed for a person like you or I . Here the thing about prayers being answered. When you pray for someone and God sends them to you and you treat them like we where treated and discarded We are latterly telling God we know better then He does and what He gave us in answering our Prayers wasn’t good enough. . With that being said how do you think or imagine God is and will deal with them just off the account how they disregard and tossed a Blessing away like it was not good enough for them. Then lets factor in on how they Treated us knowing we were the ones God sent to them to answer their prayers. One can say in accordance to scripture God will never answer the same prayer twice or ever again. Two God will allow all kinds of bad things to happen in their lives to simply teach them a lesson. He not punishing them He is teaching them a lesson and not take blessings and answered Prayers for granted.
Genuine kind good hearted people like ourselves are rare. There isn’t a whole lot of us around. God purposely made very few of us for a reason. And don’t think for a moment or full yourself that you are not on their mind since the discard you are. On the surface they make it look life is going good and great for them but on the inside they are hurting really bad, they cant forget about you, they certainly can not forgive themselves and the have or are starting to realize that you were actually the one they Asked God to send them, there for if it hasn’t set in all ready regret will start to come< Remember they cant help who and what they are they suffer from some kind of trauma (I go into this when I go more in depth about the Insidious Hypocritical Covert Narcissist. Pray for them, Pray that God heals them, works on them, and changes them, Like he did for us. Don’t blame them for anything they have do to you. Instead look at it as what they did for you. They helped you become a better version of you. Herman Hese said it the best “if you hate a person, you hate something in them that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us” . In my years of being a Mental Health Professional and working with people who have BPD, or some sort of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I have come to see a pattern and that pattern is. The Insidious Hypocritical Covert Narcissist is a “good person” abuser they are more concerned with looking like a good person rather than actually being a good person. And the fact that we are genuine good hearted people by nature as God made us they hate us for it because they don’t truly know how to be one, do to trauma. They only know who to pretend to be a good person.

The Insidious Hypocritical Covert Narcissist and why its so difficult to heal and recover from them after the discard.

There are many types of Narcissist Classifications, never the less what ever their sub classification is a Narcissist has a mental disorder Called NPD or Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
The insidious Hypocritical and the Covert Narcissist share very similarities:
Both are very dangerous, neither one of these types of Narcissists are not obvious hypocrites like your typical Narcissist are. No both these types of Narcissists are obsessed with having an image that they are good people, honorable, kind and full of integrity. On the surface and on the out side they seem to embody these qualities. Especially to the masses. The people very close to them are usually the only ones who knows the monster behind the mask. But not always some times those closes to these types of Narcissist are fooled for a long period of time, or unless it really hits the fan and something happens to expose them. They are expert actors and Liars. These are the most insidious characters because they appear to be the exact opposite of the image they portray. This is a Covert Narcissist is often called a insidious Hypocritical Narcissist.
The covert Narcissist will always play the victim no matter what. They act like the are so empathetic, but in reality they do not nor do they have any real empathy. They have a humble demeanor and appear vulnerable and sensitive, but upon closer observation, you will come to see the intense resentment and jealousy they have towards others. They do things for others, such as build them up mentally emotionally financially even spiritually , however they always expect something in return. Be it a lot of praise or some sort of future obligation. Their reputation of bine the “Nice Guy/Girl” is everything to them. Their image means more to them then actual reality. They have a passive aggressive nature, and never deal with any form of conflict in a healthy direct manner. They can seem to be the most caring sensitive person in the world. Only to realize they are only sensitive and caring when it comes to themselves.
Typically covert Narcissist play a victim of domestic violence in some sort of since. They always call other people Narcissist to take the true image off of themselves. They even go as far as making up lies and stories about their victims(Supply) to the point they get domestic violence restraining orders on them.
The reason the Covert Narcissist is so much more damaging than a Overt narcissist is because for on the covert has a nice vulnerable persona so no one believes you. They are experts at playing the victim. They will “admit” the truth about what they did just to get fired from a job and throw co-workers under the bus, then turn around and make it seem you are the one to blame for them to get fired from their job. Or they play the victim so well that sometimes they make even make you feel guilty for things they are saying doing or how they are acting. The abuse ( typically mentally verbally and emotionally) is so insidious that it takes you a much longer time to realize you are the one in fact the one being abused. They come across to you and everyone else around them as the complete opposite of being the “Bad person” so you and others around them genuinely thing they are a good person, sometimes for long periods of time ( It literally hurts more when you realize they exact type of person they truly are because you are in utter disbelief, and shock) The cognitive dissonance is beyond through the roof. ( So much confusion nothing makes since ) Since everyone thinks they are such a great person, you get confused and sometimes doubt yourself. They are such great manipulators, liars, and play the victim and the “nice and innocent” one so well they can and will convince others you are the one doing all the wrong things and abuse to them. They are by far some of the best actors who have spent their whole lives appearing to be someone else. They even do good things for people. Typically these type of Narcissist are “Made” meaning some sort of past trauma has re-wired their brains for protection and in conjunction they may also suffer from BPD boarder line personality disorder.
Trauma changes who we are and how we relate to people. You no longer feel safe in world or in your own skin. Everyone and everything is a potential threat. You are always on high alert all the time and don’t even realize it. You are always in survival mode. And you don’t recognize it or realize it because your body has become accustomed to living this way.
This is how and why typically a covert Narcissist goes undiagnosed with BPD and are so hard to discover. Because they use the trauma they have endured either from childhood or early adulthood as a mask and cover up for their Narcissistic behavior and why they are the worse type of Narcissistic abuse to recover from. In the end at some point in your relationship you have experienced the typical narcissistic classic behavior such as love bombing, shaming, twisting and turning the narrative around making you out to be the one to blame, gaslighting, the smear campaign, the sudden discard, and finally you are the “bad person” who abused them.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Lessons Learned from Pope Benedict XVI

Friday, March 17, 2023 @ 3:57 PM

I recently came across a beautiful statement on a dear friend’s Instagram story. She wrote, “One Who Has Hope Lives Differently.” To be honest, I was procrastinating starting this blog post and decided to look for some “inspiration” on the app. Oh how the Lord provides. These six words stopped me in my tracks (or scrolling rather) and led me on a search to find out where this quote came from.

As it turns out, this line was taken from a writing by the late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Our beloved Pope Emeritus died in December 2022, so it seems fitting to honor him in this month’s message. In his work titled, "Spe Salvi" or "Saved in Hope," Pope Benedict declares, “The one who has hope lives differently; the one who hopes has been granted the gift of a new life.”

In some ways I think it’s hard to put into words what living differently actually looks like. I believe you know it when you see it though. With that being said, we can look to the example of Pope Benedict himself as a man who lived differently and chose hope in the face of great sorrow and tragedy. During his youth he witnessed the horrific presence of the Nazi regime in his hometown and the influence it had on his family and local parish. His faith and love of the Lord fueled his desire to remain hopeful and continue in his pursuit of truth and goodness.

Saint Paul is another example of a man who lived differently. While under intense persecution he wrote the following words to the Thessalonians,

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters,
about those who have fallen asleep,
so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose,
so too will God, through Jesus,
bring with him those who have fallen asleep.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, “Hope keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment; it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal beatitude” Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], 1997, para. 1818. Hope is an act of the will and it is a choice for all those who grieve. One who lives with hope believes that death does not have the final word. One who has hope lives with the expectation of eternity and the joy of seeing their loved ones again.

My friend who shared these words is certainly no stranger to grief as she mourns multiple losses in her own life. Through her example I can see that she lives life differently because of her hope. The clients that I have the honor to journey with also inspire me with the ways they choose trust over fear and faith over despair. It’s my desire that you can also call to mind someone you know who inspires you with their hope. Let’s say a prayer of thanksgiving for them now and ask for a blessing of endurance on their journey.

Information on Pope Benedict XVI’s life and the "Spe Salvi" full text can be found on the Vatican’s website,

Catechism of the Catholic Church (2nd ed.). (1997). Libreria Editrice Vaticana.


Thursday, March 16, 2023

Good Grief

Thursday, March 16, 2023 @ 2:33 PM

Good Grief

Charlie Brown famously expressed his dissatisfaction by exclaiming “good grief!” when his circumstances became unfavorable. This phrase is synonymous with feeling annoyed, bummed, or frustrated. The same feelings that can arise when trying to cope with the loss of a loved one. We are creatures that were divinely designed for connection and when that connection is lost, we experience deep pain and grief.

Experiencing grief is part of the universal human experience. As Christians, we have faith that death is not the end. We have hope in the resurrection and eternal life. However, this does not mean we are immune to the pain of grief. In fact, as we mourn the loss of a loved one, we may feel, even more intensely, the separation and loss of connection from the departed, and find little encouragement in faith and hope of eternal life. This struggle is a natural part of the healing journey. Feeling torn between two truths, feeling hopeless under the overwhelming pain of the life lost, and hopeful putting trust in life everlasting.

The Bible offers comfort and guidance in times of grief. Jesus himself understood sorrow, as he wept alongside the tomb of Lazarus (John 11:35). This shows that even with the knowledge that Lazarus would be raised from the dead, Jesus understood the pain of His followers and mourned alongside them because it is a natural and appropriate response to grieve when we lose someone that we love. There is no timeline suggesting that grief can only last for a moment. Some of us may spend a lifetime grieving a loss. Being able to identify feelings of grief and appropriately mourning is a step toward healing.

Feelings of grief can look like:


• Avoidance
• Shock
• Numbness
• Shutting Down
• Keeping Busy


• Irritability
• Impatience
• Frustration
• Resentment
• Passive-aggressive behavior


• Guilt
• Shame
• Blame
• Fixated on past or future
• Should have, could have, would have thinking


• Hopelessness
• Helplessness
• Reduced interest in activities
• Changes to sleep and appetite
• Reduced energy


• Understanding
• Compassion
• Vulnerability
• Present in the here & now
• Connecting with others

As Christians, we are invited to weep with those that weep (Romans 12:15) and to comfort one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18) as the grieving journey can feel long and lonely.
We are called to love one another (John 13:34) and support each other in times of grief. As members of the body of Christ, we can bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2) and share in each other’s sorrows. We were not designed to go through the stages of grief alone. Community after loss is necessary to heal and find comfort.

How to build connection after a loss:
• Start therapy with a grief counselor
• Attend a grief process group
• Volunteer your time at local community site
• Go on a walk or hike with a friend
• Talk to someone about difficult feelings

Finally, in the midst of grief it is important to turn to God and seek His comfort and peace. Accepting pain as a part of life can help make room for uncomfortable feelings. Faith in a Higher Power relinquishes the need to understand why the loss happened, and instead offers us peace, through acceptance, that there is something greater waiting for our loved ones. Seek a counselor that utilizes Acceptance and Commitment based techniques to help with taking the first step in practicing acceptance as you grieve.

Ways to practice acceptance:

• Allow space for unwanted and uncomfortable feelings
• Research mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing or mediation, to help you stay present in the here and now
• Practice separating yourself from your inner experience by recognizing your thoughts are just thoughts and begin to let go of the intense power they can have over you
• Ground yourself in your values, such as faith, family or community, to find the motivation to move forward in the action of acceptance
• Commit to one behavior that will help you move closer toward practicing acceptance, such as attending therapy to build community.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

“Can’t you just stop?”: Understanding Addiction

Thursday, March 9, 2023 @ 11:57 AM

Many assume that reducing alcohol or drug use is simply a matter of willpower and that all a person needs to do is just stop. This perspective can limit the motivation of the person trying to make changes in their using habits. Since often times, the sober curious person will relapse into old habits and then experience guilt or shame because they are not strong enough to stop.

Common misconceptions about addiction are:

• Stopping is a matter of willpower
• People choose to stay addicted and relapse
• Weak people struggle with addiction
• Addiction only affects certain groups and populations of people
• Functioning and stable people cannot develop harmful using patterns
• Rehab fixes everything
• You have to hit rock-bottom, end up in jail or be hospitalized to decide to change habits
• Only bad people drink or use drugs

These myths can prevent someone from seeking help because the misconception is that the addicted person is seen as weak, powerless and unfit to participate as a member in society. Instead of believing that there is hope, sober curious individuals will stay stuck in harmful patterns.

Thankfully, there has been an increase in the awareness of the truth behind addiction. Professionals are being taught harm-reduction techniques to help individuals achieve recovery goals.

Facts about addiction:

• Using habits can affect the reward system part of the brain, which alters the ability to practice discipline and willpower
• Addiction is not a choice, many factors contribute to developing a habit, such as; environmental, psychological and physical factors, family history, and early childhood experiences
• A struggle with addiction is not a sign of weakness but a consequence of various factors
• Addiction does not discriminate
• Anyone can function and still struggle
• Treatment can help with learning new ways to cope but sometimes it takes time to discover what will be the most helpful
• Anytime is the right time to make changes to harmful habits
• Using is not a reflection of poor character, it is a disease, bad people don’t get sick

Seeking support for yourself or a loved one is the first step toward making meaningful change. Regardless of wanting to stop completely or explore how habits affect life, therapy is a great place to start that journey. There are many faith-based 12-Step Recovery Groups available in-person and online. Individuals and their families no longer have to enter the battle of addiction alone. A licensed therapist can help process all the factors that influence using patterns and help create a plan for success.

Sunday, March 5, 2023

The Intersection of Anxiety and Faith

Sunday, March 5, 2023 @ 7:32 AM

Anxiety is a common mental health challenge that affects millions of people around the world. It can be characterized by feelings of worry, fear, and apprehension, often accompanied by physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, sweating, and difficulty breathing. While anxiety can be a normal response to stressful situations, it can also be a debilitating condition that interferes with daily life. Many people who struggle with anxiety find comfort and support in their faith. In this blog post, we will explore the relationship between anxiety and faith, and how faith can provide a source of comfort and healing for those who suffer from anxiety.

Anxiety and Faith: Understanding the Connection

Anxiety can be a complex and multifaceted condition, with many different causes and contributing factors. From a faith perspective, anxiety can be linked to feelings of fear and uncertainty, as well as a lack of trust in God. Many people who struggle with anxiety may feel that they are alone in their struggles, or that they are somehow inadequate or unworthy. These feelings can be compounded by cultural or societal pressures to appear strong and capable, even in the face of adversity.

Faith can play an important role in helping individuals to cope with anxiety by providing a sense of comfort and support. By placing trust in God, individuals can find strength and hope in the midst of their struggles. Faith can also provide a sense of community and connection, as individuals come together to support one another and share their experiences.

Practical Strategies for Coping with Anxiety through Faith

For those who struggle with anxiety, faith can provide a powerful source of comfort and healing. Below are some practical strategies for coping with anxiety through faith:

Pray and Meditate: Prayer and meditation can be powerful tools for managing anxiety. By taking time to connect with God, individuals can find peace and comfort in the midst of their struggles. Prayer and meditation can also help to quiet the mind and reduce feelings of worry and fear.

Seek Support: Building a community of support can be an important part of managing anxiety through faith. This can include attending religious services or support groups, connecting with a spiritual mentor or counselor, or simply reaching out to friends and family for support.

Practice Self-Care: Taking care of oneself is essential for managing anxiety through faith. This can include practicing mindfulness, getting enough rest and exercise, and eating a healthy diet. It can also include engaging in activities that bring joy and meaning, such as spending time in nature, listening to music, or volunteering.

Reframe Negative Thoughts: One of the keys to managing anxiety through faith is to reframe negative thoughts and beliefs. Rather than focusing on fear and worry, individuals can choose to focus on faith, hope, and love. By replacing negative thoughts with positive ones, individuals can begin to shift their mindset and find new sources of strength and resilience.

Practice Gratitude: Practicing gratitude is a powerful way to manage anxiety through faith. By focusing on the blessings and abundance in one's life, individuals can shift their focus away from worry and fear. This can include keeping a gratitude journal, saying prayers of thanksgiving, or simply taking time each day to reflect on the good things in life.


Anxiety can be a challenging and debilitating condition, but it is also a condition that can be managed and overcome. For those who struggle with anxiety, faith can provide a powerful source of comfort and healing. By placing trust in God, individuals can find strength and hope in the midst of their struggles. By practicing prayer, seeking support, engaging in self-care, reframing negative thoughts, and practicing gratitude, individuals can manage their anxiety and find peace and fulfillment in their lives.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

3-steps to improving and sustaining your mental health

Sunday, February 26, 2023 @ 10:03 PM

As human beings, we all face challenges and hardships in life that can affect our mental health and emotional well-being.

It's easy to find ourselves in situations where our mental health, or our emotional wellness is in a place of chaos. You may be struggling with strong feelings of anxiety, stress or depression, leaving you feeling paralyzed or debilitated.

Life doesn’t need to be this way. With self-reflection, support and some hard work, you can pursue a life full of joy, wellness and hope.

It is the topic of this article that we discuss how to develop a roadmap towards improving and sustaining your mental health.

Table of Contents
Getting to your destination: a mental health analogy 1
Step 1: It’s OK to not be ok’: Recognition of the problem 3
Step 2: Seeking help and setting a new trajectory towards positive mental health 4
Step 3: Setting ourselves on a journey of continuously pursuing mental health wellness. 4

Getting to your destination: a mental health analogy
Like many road trips, we set off with a destination in mind! “Today we are headed, from Calgary to the mountains!”. This is our first time driving this journey and it’s completely new! We pack up our stuff, get everyone into the car and start driving.

We think we know the way so we don’t have our GPS on and our phone is packed away to remove distraction.

As we continue to drive and get further from our starting location, we are surprised we cannot see the mountains in the distance; we also notice the ground is flat for as far as we can see; additionally, we are surprised that the sun in on the right side of the vehicle.

We begin to have a stronger and stronger feeling that ‘something is not ok’. As we evaluate these signs around us, we pull over, utilize our GPS and realize our fears are true: We have been driving east the whole time, away from the mountains. We are going in the wrong direction.

We install our GPS on our dashboard, plug in the destination, it plots a path, and we now start the back-tracking but on the right trajectory this time.

We turn the vehicle around, we navigate through the city and start going on the right path. Because we’ve now learned our lesson, we continue to check in with the GPS to make sure that we are still on track.

Finally, after the 30 minutes of back-tracking and the additional 60 minutes of driving, we reach our destination, Banff! We can now enjoy our day out and the beauty of the mountains and the town of Banff.

How this relates to our mental health.
This is a great analogy for our mental health (or the state of our emotional wellness). Many of us set off, as children, teenagers or adults with the ambition of being healthy, happy, successful people unencumbered by negativity, depression or anxiety (to name a few negative mental health signs).

After a few years, we start to notice the signs that ‘something is not ok’. We may be struggling with loneliness, addictions or not feeling like we’ve achieved what we had expected by this point in our life.

It’s at this point, like in the analogy, we need to review the ‘signs’ to determine if something is not okay. What is causing these negative feelings or outcomes? This article goes into more detail on this topic, later on, in Step 1: Recognition. If we continue to ignore the signs that something is wrong, we are going to continue down a road that leads to further mental health illness and stronger associated symptoms.

Leveraging resources and getting help
So in the analogy, once we detect something is wrong, we look for support from the GPS to determine if we are going in the wrong direction. Regarding our mental or emotional state, we need to do the same thing. We need to reach out for support and leverage available resources around us to determine if we need to ‘course-correct’ and set ourselves on a sustainable and life-giving trajectory. This is covered in this article in Step 2: Getting help.

Continuously developing ourselves and pursuing continuous emotional health improvement
So in the analogy, even though a course correction was made, there was additional driving time to back-track and then further driving toward the final destination. Similarly, in our own personal mental health journey, we may need to do some ‘back-tracking’. This may look like working through disappointments or missed expectations, forgiving people, and resolving past hurts, or processing life’s traumas (to name just a few).

Additionally, in the anology, we continuously go back to our GPS to ensure that we are still following the path laid out. In life, this is the powerfully important principle of self-reflection: am I continuing in a trajectory towards wholeness and health or am I starting to experience past or new negative mental health symptoms.

Step 3 of this article discusses ways that we can continuously develop ourselves and set ourselves on a journey of continuously pursuing mental health improvement.

There is no end destination when it comes to our mental health
It’s at this point where the analogy breaks down: In life, there really isn’t a ‘destination’ where we achieve perfect or complete mental health; it’s a continuous journey. It’s for this reason that what we discuss in Step 3 of this article is so vital: applying these Lifelong principles and practices will continuously support our growth and maturity as emotional beings.

Step 1: It’s OK to not be ok’: Recognition of the problem
Many of us have grown up in households, families, and cultures where our emotional state was either ignored, not appreciated or completely dismissed. Many of us may feel that it’s “not okay to be not okay”. Some of us may feel that, to admit that we aren’t ok, is a negative reflection on us, our families or our culture. This just isn’t the case. Here are 3 points that may help us understand why “It’s okay to not be okay”:

1. Mental health is a journey, not a destination: No one has a roadmap for life, understanding how every little interaction may impact you and your mental health. No-one is perfect, and everyone experiences ups and downs. It's important to understand that our mental health and emotional state is like a journey: There will be easy times, there will be difficult times, and there may be times where course corrections are required. This is normal and the reality for everyone.
2. Emotions are valid: Emotions are a natural response to life events, and they are valid no matter what they are. Whether it's anger, sadness, or anxiety, it's important to acknowledge and understand your emotions. What can be very detrimental is when we try to suppress or dismiss our emotions. In our analogy, that is like us ignoring all the signs that we are going east and we continue to drive in the wrong direction.
3. Mental health is just as important as physical health: In our society, many of us understand how to take care of ourselves physically: we need to eat well, exercise well, and get sufficient sleep. Well, mental health is just as important as physical health, and it's okay to prioritize it. It's important to take care of your mental health in the same way that you take care of your physical health. Additionally, your mental health can impact your physical health. Some great reading material on this topic is:
a. ‘The Body Keeps Score’ by Bessel A. Van Der Kolk and
b. ‘When the Body Says No’ by Gabor Mate

Now that we’ve understood the importance of our mental health and emotions, we can start to recognize signs that something may not be right and what resources can we call upon (like the GPS in our analogy) to get support and direction:

Step 2: Seeking help and setting a new trajectory towards positive mental health

So what are some ways that we can seek help and make necessary ‘course corrections’:
1. Seeking help from a mental health professional can help us understand what the root-cause issue may be that is impacting our mental health.
2. Find mentors that have a proven track record of having health in the area where you are struggling. Be intentional about asking for wisdom and guidance
3. Talk to people about how we are feeling. Openness and vulnerability can help us determine if what we are experiencing is simply just a stage of life or is the result of poor mental health or unsustainable situations we may find ourselves in.
4. Find good reading material. There are so many great books that can help us get a better understanding of our emotional state and educate us on ways of developing our Emotional Intelligence (referred to as EQ)

Step 3: Setting ourselves on a journey of continuously pursuing mental health wellness.

So, by this point, we have discussed how to recognize the signs of emotional or mental health concerns. Additionally, we’ve discussed how we can seek out help and get support.

Now how do we set ourselves up for success and wellness long term? Here are 10 tips for supporting and maintaining positive mental health:
1. Practice Self-care: Taking care of ourselves is important in maintaining good mental health. This can include activities like exercise, mindfulness, and hobbies that bring you joy.
2. Find community to connect and growth with: Mental health struggles are common and we are not alone. There are many resources available, including online support groups, hotlines, and local mental health clinics such as Master’s.
3. Talk about mental health: Talking about mental health is important in breaking the stigma and normalizing the conversation. Sharing our experiences with others can also provide support and help us feel less isolated.
4. Healing takes time: Healing from mental health struggles takes time and patience. Just like if you broke a bone, healing doesn’t come overnight, it takes time, rest and patience! It's important for us to be kind to ourselves and to understand that progress can be slow.
5. Recognize you are strong: Mental health struggles can be difficult, but you are strong for facing them. You have the courage and resilience to overcome them, and with the right support, you can find healing and peace. Make sure to find supportive people around you who encourage and build you up, not discourage and tear you down.
6. Find Healthy coping mechanisms: Finding healthy coping mechanisms is important in managing mental health struggles. This can include things like mindfulness, deep breathing, journaling, or talking to a trusted friend.
7. Medication and therapy can be helpful: For some people, medication can support the therapy process and can be helpful in managing mental health struggles. It's important to have an open and honest conversation with a mental health professional to determine what options might be best for you.
8. Set realistic goals: Setting realistic goals can help us feel more in control and give us a sense of purpose. Hoping to ‘not be depressed by next month’ after a lifetime struggle with depression is probably unrealistic. It's important to take things one step at a time and to be patient with ourselves. Have you ever taken a walk and turned around and been surprised how far you’ve walked? Approach your mental health journey that way: it’s a marathon, not a sprint!
9. Create a support system: Having a support system of friends and family can be incredibly helpful in managing mental health struggles. It's important to reach out to those we trust for support and seek help from mental health professionals when needed.
10. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to mental health: Everyone's mental health journey is different and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to getting better. It's important to find what works for you and to be open to trying new things.

In conclusion, many of us may be struggling with low or poor mental health. If that’s you, you are not alone and it’s okay not to be okay. Our encouragement to you today is to a) recognize the state of your mental health, b) seek out support and help and c) set yourself on a journey of pursuing mental health improvement, recognizing that this can take time and effort but in the end it will be worth it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Seeing it Through

Wednesday, February 15, 2023 @ 10:51 AM

“Darkness deserves gratitude. It is the alleluia point at which we learn to understand that all growth does not take place in the sunlight.” - Joan Chittister, Benedictine Sister of Erie

If grief were a month, it would be February.

Though the calendar assures us that the days are getting longer, we turn our faces towards a sky that often denies us the warmth and light of the sun for which we are longing. The days drag on ever so slowly, and the promise of spring feels impossibly far away. Hibernation — the pull to stay in, to shut down — is tempting.

But we know that what we are experiencing right now is not all that there is. Underneath the barren ground, root systems are growing, and seeds are being prepped for spring, actually needing the harsh winter conditions to soften their tough coat to enable germination when temperatures warm in the spring.

So, too, with grief.

These bleak days of February are not simply cold, gray days. They are not punishment for the delights of summer or the majesty of fall. They are simply what is, a natural cycle. And as part of this cycle, February has purpose and meaning beyond what we can see. February is essential for the growth that is to come, and these brutal days create the necessary conditions for the earth to bloom in a few short months.

Grief is much the same. The suffering of grief is not punishment for something we did, but rather love transformed by loss. Grief is the way our human experience works, as natural and cyclical (and inevitable) as the seasons. And much like February, grief has a purpose and meaning beyond what we can access in the present, even providing the essential conditions for growth.

As we move through February, let us hold fast to the faithful confidence that amidst the darkness, there is growth. Let us hold our grief with reverence for the love it represents. Let us offer ourselves and each other tenderness and care to sustain us through these bleak days. And let us move through this month together, faces turned toward the sun, ready to feel the warmth and light of her promised and certain return.

Note: This essay was inspired by Mary Oliver’s poem, “Heavy” which can be found in Thirst, a collection of poems written while she was grieving the loss of her partner of over 40 years. It is an excellent companion for a grieving soul. The poem can be found here:

Another companion poem for enduring the long days of winter, Oliver’s “The Winter Wood Arrives,” can also be found in Thirst as well as here:

Friday, February 10, 2023

Grief & Loss Support Group

Friday, February 10, 2023 @ 10:04 AM

The stages of grief can be hard to process. Let us help you grieve in a healthy environment by joining our online grief & loss support group on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at 7pm.

Please call the office at 513-268-7153 to register.

Christian Recovery Group

Friday, February 10, 2023 @ 9:57 AM

You are not defined by substance abuse issues. We're here to walk with you in your journey of sobriety.

Please join our online support group on the 1st Friday of the month.

Please call the office at 513-268-7153 to register.

Domestic Violence Support Group

Friday, February 10, 2023 @ 9:49 AM

Domestic Violence is not an option for you! We are here to listen.

Please join our online support group on the 2nd and 4th Friday of the month (February, March, and April).

Please call the office at 513-268-7153 to register.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Communication Workshop

Thursday, February 2, 2023 @ 11:35 AM

FREE Communication workshop based on compassionately connecting to others. If you would like to revamp your relationships and connect with those around you on a deeper level, come check out our workshop! Available in-person and on zoom.

WHEN? Jan 23-Feb 13 every Monday night at 6pm PST

WHERE? 230 Vernon Street Arroyo Grande CA 93420

WHO? Dr. Vicki Nelson and Kristin Martinez

WHAT? Improving communication for all ages


To sign up: text “workshop” to (805) 709-0885

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

I can do all things

Tuesday, January 31, 2023 @ 8:13 PM

How many times have you heard someone who is struggling say, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me? This is often said without understanding what Paul, who wrote these words actually meant. Paul had just written of blessings he received as well as the adversity he had faced in the work he did in the proclamation of the gospel of his Lord Jesus Christ. One commentator states, "(Paul) makes it perfectly clear that this contentment did not arise from his own inherent or innate resources. Quite the reverse. His self-sufficiency was entirely due to the sufficiency of Another, and so it was very different from that of the Stoic. The preposition ἐν has been taken in an instrumental sense to denote personal agency (= ‘through [him who strengthens me]’), but, while this is possible, it is probably better to understand the phrase in an incorporative sense, that is, ‘in vital union with the one who strengthens me’, with the implication that the One who so strengthens Paul is Christ. Later scribes inserted the word Χριστῷ and so made explicit the apostle’s intention. ἐνδυναμόω (‘to strengthen’) is employed elsewhere in the Pauline corpus to describe the mighty work of the exalted Christ in the lives of individual believers. 1

Most cherry-pick this verse while missing the meat of the chapter. In verse 14 Paul says, while the above is true, "I thank you for standing with me in my trouble. Here the commentator states, "Paul turns from his discussion of learning to be content (4:11–13) and returns to the important theme of partnership.2

You see this is the meat of the chapter. We are not in the work of sharing the gospel on our own. We belong to a congregation of brothers and sisters who share in this work. Earlier in Philippians Paul tells us, "Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others. (2:4) We are called to be shoulders to lean on for those who are suffering, and struggling with the tribulation of this world. It is also important for those who are struggling to reach out for aid and not try in pride to be a lone ranger proclaiming "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!" in an attempt to be stoic.

2. Hansen, G. W. (2009). The Letter to the Philippians (p. 315). William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

1. O’Brien, P. T. (1991). The Epistle to the Philippians: a commentary on the Greek text (pp. 526–527). Eerdmans.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Many Voices, One Truth

Thursday, January 26, 2023 @ 6:12 PM

Tracy Taris’ Many Voices, One Truth teaches the reader to discern the voices that vie for our attention: Self, Satan, Society, & the Savior.

Many Voices, One Truth is filled with practicals to teach the reader how to enter a space of quiet so that one can hear that “still small voice” of our Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

I Ate the Cake: A Journey for Justice

Tuesday, January 24, 2023 @ 7:29 PM

I Ate the Cake: A Journey for Justice is a nonfiction narrative crafted memoir. The journey of the author's decisions to surrender her fears, desires to retaliate, and personal career aspirations become the opportunity to bring change. Change in the leadership who orchestrated neglect of children and employees trusted in their care. A change that is much needed.

In her debut writing, I Ate the Cake: A Journey for Justice, Darline Amos-McElroy poignantly describes her faith walk with a balance of encouragement for the reader. The author shares her internal struggles to apply spiritual lessons in two hostile workplace environments within the same school district. Finally, Darline realizes that she must take a stand amid her influences. Most importantly, she must have the faith to trust God despite the obstacles.

Darline Amos-McElroy currently resides with her husband, Pastor Robert B. McElroy, and their four children in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas.

Lifelines Recovery Program

Tuesday, January 24, 2023 @ 1:31 PM

Every Friday evening at 7PM PST I have the honor of leading Lifelines Recovery Program. Lifelines is an award winning, nationally recognized faith based recovery meeting for anyone affected by addiction issues (and their family members).

Lifelines meets at The Crossing Church located at 2115 Newport Blvd. Costa Mesa, CA. It is also live-streamed on the official Lifelines Facebook page located here:

Every Friday we have amazing speakers including therapists, pastors, authors, psychologists, etc. Past speakers include Dr. Daniel Amen, Dr. John Townsend and many other highly respected mental health and addiction professionals who are faith based.

Email for more info.

Friday, January 20, 2023

Homeschool Mother Anxiety

Friday, January 20, 2023 @ 2:45 PM

“I can’t believe you are thinking about homeschooling! Don’t you know that your kids are going to grow up to hate you, rebel against, and worst of all…….THEY WON’T HAVE SOCIAL SKILLS!!!!”

If you are a homeschool mom or dad chances are you have heard comments similar to these. These comments might sting coming from a random person on Facebook. However, they hurt more when it comes from your friends and family. These type of comments may make you think twice about whether you are doing the right thing. If you are considering homeschooling then you may not want to do it in order to avoid the wrath of the social skills mob. In this post I want to address how to handle anxiety when you are a homeschool mom.

Let me start with the question of why? Why are you homeschooling? If you’re reading this and haven’t started out why should you? If you’re reading this and hate homeschooling why are you reading this article? To begin to address these “why” questions let’s start with the purpose of education. While the crowd reading this may be different, most of us went to public schools. For the sake of clarity, I went to public school growing up. I cannot tell you how many times when I was in school the topic of making it into a good college was discussed. “You have to get a good score on your ACT in order to get into a good school and receive scholarships.” “You have to graduate in order to get a good job.” And “you have to have a good job in order to have a productive life.”

To oversimplify: the public school reasons for education are:

1. Graduate

2. Go to college

3. Get a good job.

Is this an oversimplification? Absolutely. But I believe this is a fair representation of the public school approach. To be fair, none of these reasons are bad. I think graduating, going to college and getting a good job are fine things. However, this is not the reason for education. Education is the process of learning more about God’s creation and how to steward his creation.

Simply put, this is God’s world. We are just living in it. Homeschooling allows the ability to teach your children from this worldview. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to make your homeschooling a glorified Sunday School where the answer is always “Jesus!” Education can be playing in the dirt to learn about the ants God created. Learning more about God’s world and how to appropriately interact in it is education at its core.

Homeschooling has been around for some time. When I was a kid in the 90’s the stereotype was only weird kids in long skirts homeschooled. If you’re a weird kid in a long skirt reading this then I mean no harm! However, homeschooling is growing rapidly in popularity. This is true across the country but is certainly happening in Oklahoma and Texas. I believe in this post COVID world this trend will continue. When the lockdowns hit in March 2020 public schools started doing virtual learning. Many parents started to realize the benefit of being present with their kids during their schooling. Some moms realized the joy in helping their kids with their education and figured they could keep doing this even after the restrictions were lifted. Others were horrified to see the scary worldviews their children’s teachers were imposing on them. Still others yet didn’t send their kids back due to all the restrictions. Regardless of whatever your reason is for homeschooling I want you to take time to answer “why?” Why were you initially drawn to homeschooling? Why are you continuing to do it? Why are you constantly going back and forth about whether you should homeschool or not? I will not and cannot answer this question for you. However, figuring out your why is the basis of where we go. If your answer to this question is rock solid then we need to figure out ways to make your homeschooling experience the best it can be. If your answer is shaky or you don’t have it yet then don’t fret! Take your time and figure out your “why.” There is no time period on how long this should take. What is important is that you answer it.

Once you know the why then move toward protecting your answer. For instance, if your why is “I want my children to have a biblical worldview in their education” then let’s find ways to make that happen. Many times homeschool moms get stuck in their head. They may start feeling anxious related to how others view them. It is important to have an active mindset. Anxiety is very passive in nature. You are stuck inside of your head just living in doubt. This is why I wanted you to start with your “why” question. When your answer is rock solid then doubting just stops you from accomplishing your goal.

However, be careful with well meaning advice such as “Be kind to yourself” and “You’re a great mom. Keep believing that.” Now, at face value these are fine statements. I’m certainly not getting on to you if you say that or share things like that on social media. My concern is what it can lead into. It can start getting into a type of self reliance and almost a New Age type of spirituality. Allie Beth Stucky has a wonderful book called You're Not Enough (And That's Okay): Escaping the Toxic Culture of Self-Love

This book helps show some of these concerns of what these type of sayings can lead into. The fact of the matter is you aren’t enough. I’m not enough. No one is enough! But guess who is? Jesus! So, instead of looking into your inner power, look towards Christ! Here is a wonderful verse to help address anxiety and what to do when you experience it.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6 ESV)

I love the ESV version and use it for most all of my Bible reading. However, there are some words that you need to wrestle with a bit more due to the translations more literal nature. When you read the word supplication in the above verse it means to ask or beg for something earnestly or humbly. When you ask things it has to come from that spirit of humility. Sometimes when I ask for things I do it from a place of entitlement. Like I deserve to have whatever I am praying for. But this is from the wrong place. We need to be like a beggar. Someone pleading for help from an extremely humble position. Again, you are not enough. But Christ is! Keep that in mind when you have another bout of anxiety.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

New Book Called PACE to Peace: Finding Inner Rest in a World of Unrest

Wednesday, January 18, 2023 @ 8:45 AM

This article consists of excerpts from the Introduction to the book entitled PACE to Peace: Finding Inner Rest in a World of Unrest.This book is a tool to facilitate transformation of the inner person. Why is inner peace only possible through constant change? The an swer will become apparent as you read, study, and apply the truth found here. We will explore themes discussed in the Bible, especially the book of Hebrews that directly connects our relationship with God and the quality of the inner rest of our souls (see Hebrews 12:14-15, 3:1-12). Increasing the quality of our relationship with God requires constant realignment of our thoughts, actions, and patterns of behavior (Romans 12:1-2). Transformation and sanctification are processes of consistently reordering our old attitudes, beliefs, and standards of living to align with God’s. 

“Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be
defiled” (Hebrews 12:14-15 NASB). Looking at these verses in context of the book of Hebrews from the beginning of the chapter to the point where they appear, the sanctification of our soul emerges as a very dominant theme. Faith is defined in the previous chapter, Chapter 11, in the passage best known for introducing the “heroes of faith.” Chapter 12 offers specifics of how faith is lived out.

First, Jesus is the “founder” AND “perfecter” of our faith (see Hebrews 12:2, ESV). The Passion Translation (TPT) expresses it as, “Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection”—that is, completion. There is a beginning and a completion to faith in Christ. Believing in Jesus at a conversion experience begins a process of completing faith’s work the remainder of our lives.
Secondly, verses 4-11 speak of growing, as children grow in their Father’s (parents’) care. Growth involves change and stretching of what is, into what it needs to become. The growth process requires discipline. A commitment to this kind of change brings about joy and peace.

Now to verses 14-15, quoted above. Sanctification is explicitly mentioned “without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). Without completion of faith in Jesus through the sanctification pro
cess (change and growth through discipline toward holiness), we have no faith at all. This ongoing change is to be pursued, intentionally sought, and not merely expected to happen on its own. Moreover, this process is intrinsically linked back to our conversion to faith in Christ, and forward to establishing the conditions for our inner peace.

Bible Says Much About Peace

God’s purposes and plans for peace are far greater than our personal experiences of escaping the feelings of unrest inside. However, our inner life is very important to God. So important that he commands complete surrender of our ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving in exchange for his. The psalmist reflects, “Those who love Your law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble” (Psalm 119:165; NASB). God’s ways are superior to human ways. We are wise to accept this truth, “How blessed is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace” (Proverbs 3:13,17 NASB).

Jesus himself had some things to say about peace. Jesus didn’t come into the world to chase away conflict (see Matthew 10:24). He came to deliver us from enslavement to conflict. First, the conflict that exists within our own soul, and the conflict that puts us at war (sometimes literally) with people around us. Without Christ, conflict is inevitable within, but with and through Christ conflict is, was, and will be an nihilated. Since the first sin of mankind, conflict within and conflict without (our environment) are built into the default nature of every human being. Putting our faith and trust in Jesus means we are yielding to his power to remove the grip of unrest in lost parts of our souls.
Often at the root of conflict is bitterness. Bitterness is created by the seeds of failed expectations, disappointments, regret, hurt, or offense. Roots of bitterness are specifically mentioned in these verses in Hebrews as destructive anti-growth agents. Bitter roots are weeds that will “defile” (reduce the productivity of the garden of our hearts). Bitter roots can take the form of ill-willed thoughts, envy, jealousy, malice, slander, and the like. The critical, condemning thoughts and opinions turn into blame, resentment, hatred and even sometimes revenge.

Our tendency to want to rule our own fate causes our failure to trust God to work all circumstances for good. God’s justice demands that only he can sit on the throne as Judge. Our demands to think and act as Judge create conflict. The rebellion against God at the core of this conflict is why the “Prince of Peace,” Messiah Jesus, came to this earth (see Isaiah 9:6).

Conversion AND Convergence

This goes to the heart of the gospel message. Luke records Jesus as saying, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10 NKJV). Until recently, like most Christians, I thought of “lost” souls coming to faith in Jesus in a conversion experience as the full extent of interpreting the meaning of this statement in Luke 19.
However, God is challenging me with a deeper understanding. The inner peace stolen by the enemy of our soul with the entry of sin into the world is part of the loss that Jesus came to redeem. Through the transformation and sanctification process, the seeking and saving of the losses in our lives continues. Faith in Jesus makes us whole. All the broken parts of our soul still touched by the losses are being brought together into the wholeness God intends for us from the beginning. Is is a process of convergence.

Sanctification is God’s divine plan. Being made whole through holiness (set apart on the inside) yields the fruit of increasingly greater degrees of outwardly “holy” behavior. Becoming completely at peace with God’s plan in our innermost being begins at conversion and is fulfilled through a lifelong PACE. I call this a PACE, as each letter in the word corresponds to one of the four parts of this book; Prepare, Accept, Cooperate, and Engage (described below);

I grew up in the Christian church thinking the “salvation of souls” refers merely to the conversion of souls. However, the term salvation includes sanctification as well. It includes Jesus completing the faith he has begun. It includes the discipline of growing the faith into maturity. It includes the inner peace Hebrews calls the “peaceful fruit of righteousness” (see Hebrews 12:11).

Soul Harvest

The “harvest” of souls includes all of the above. Let’s be clear that believing in Jesus is not just a decision of the mind to repent (turn around) from one way of life to another. It is a radical surrender to a process of heart transformation as well. For a Christian, seeking the sanctification of our soul is not an option. Responding to God and allowing him to change our heart from the inside out will yield greaterdegrees of inner peace. Inner peace can be a gauge for measuring our progress. The more we surrender to God, the more peace we will have in our soul. 

Inner change is difficult, but we can be at peace with the uncertainty change brings when we are trusting God through our faith in Jesus. An inner peace and assurance of what Jesus has accomplished
for us, AND what he continues to empower us to do, is foundational for facing the challenges of life. It’s all about his power, not ours.

In summary, I offer my paraphrase of the Hebrews 12:14-15 verses quoted at the beginning. “Pursue inner peace through reconciliation with God, for yourself, and seek this condition for every person you know. Practice surrendering your heart to God for the purpose of a holy being, until the day you see Jesus face to face. Make sure you are living the fullest of God’s purposes for your life by rooting out any bitterness that remains—i.e., admitting your critical judgments, surrendering all judgments to God, and releasing all demands for justice so your relationships (with God, others, and self) can be made whole.” This book is a tool to help guide and encourage you on the journey

Four Parts to P-A-C-E
P-repare the Heart
A-ccept Our Broken Heart Condition
C-ooperate with God through Surrender
E-ngage Inner Change as a Lifestyle

Summary of the P-A-C-E

The journey through this book begins in Part One with preparing the heart. Recognizing what makes us “tick” (so to speak) is critical to making any kind of positive directional changes. Our heart is like a house. The center of all activities for a farm is the farmhouse. The farmer eats, rests, plays, plans, and finds shelter in the farmhouse. When the farmhouse functions well to meet the needs of the farmer,the foundation for the success of the mission of the farm is secure. Part Two of this book is about accepting our broken-down heart condition. Without God, our farmhouse and therefore our entire farm is in disrepair and cannot be fixed on its own. Self-honesty about the true condition of our heart is key to taking first steps toward positive change. The humility to continue taking steps toward God is essential to grow out of our brokenness. Part Three walks through cooperating with God to restore our heart so it can thrive once again. Surrender is a key. Gaining something new requires giving up the old. That’s easier said than done when it comes to old (familiar) patterns of thought and behavior. We must become “wholly” dissatisfied with our own ways to gain satisfaction with God’s “holy” ways (see Proverbs 14:11-12).Part Four deals with engaging transformational growth as a lifestyle. Changing to be a better person is great, but God’s purposes are far beyond our imaginations and expectations.

The only way to discover God’s greater purposes is to embrace inner change by drawing ever closer to God. This includes nurturing a healthy discontent with how far we’ve already come. The moment a farmer becomes too content with his farm’s productivity, conditions out of his control (e.g.,severe weather, pests, economy, thieves) will push things in a declining direction. We must remain vigilant in fighting our broken world’s declining tendencies. We must embrace our need for constant change from the inside out.

I provide some practical tools along the way, and in the appendices. Also in the back of the book are a group of questions for each chapter. The questions are designed to help the pace reader on their own journey to peace. I encourage writing out the answers for each chapter before going on to the next chapter.
Inner life change begins with a better understanding of our inner life. So why not get started now. If you don’t have a copy of the book yet, order the print or ebook version and dig in. Buy the book at:

More info at:

Monday, January 9, 2023

Worry - What It Is & How to Break Free

Monday, January 9, 2023 @ 5:38 PM

Worry is....

a mental activity. It is a repetition of negative thoughts about actual or potential problems or difficulties.

Worry does not solve problems. It creates new ones.
Worry is not a remedy for guilt. It reinforces it.
Worry does not maintain control. It loses it.
Worry is not inborn. It is learned.

There is no good reason or benefit to worry.
Worry is harmful to our lives (physically, mentally, emotionally, socially).
Worry is not unchangeable.

Worry chains can be broken because…


Habits are powerful things. Habits turn actions into attitudes, and attitudes into lifestyles.
~Charlene Armitage

We break the worry habit and lifestyle when we realize:
We can choose to stop deceiving ourselves or making excuses to justify why we worry.

We can choose to replace worry with…
Awareness (facing – not denying worry)
Acceptance of what we cannot change
Action - taking reasonable action & changing what we can
(if and when possible)

God's Perfect, Endless Love is greater than Fear, Worry, Anxiety, Panic!!!

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18, NKJV

RESOURCES to help you release fear and worry....

Overcoming Anxiety, Worry, and Fear In Christ (Scriptures taken from the book IN CHRIST I AM...)

There are so many reasons we may experience unrest (anxiety, worry and fear). We live in a world that is filled with problems, disasters, tragedies, and evil. No matter what we are experiencing, our Lord promises to be with us and give us peace.

This video - Overcoming Anxiety, Worry, and Fear in Christ - is filled with His empowering promises (Bible verses for anxiety)! May God's promises strengthen you and help you to rest in His loving care.

© 2017, 2023 All Rights Reserved.
Written by Krystal Kuehn, LPC, LLP, NCC

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Ask a Counselor

Thursday, January 5, 2023 @ 5:11 PM

Do you ever wish you could just ask a professional counselor a question about mental health? Janie Stubblefield will host an "Ask a Counselor" hour on Friday, January 13, 2023. This meeting is open to all, however questions will be answered on a first come basis due to the limited time. Attendees may email questions in advance to

This is an informational meeting open to the public, and is intended for informational purposes only - no diagnosis nor therapeutic interventions. This is NOT a HIPAA compliant meeting and attendees may be able to see each others personal information.

Cost = FREE

Lone Star Ethics for Counselors

Thursday, January 5, 2023 @ 5:10 PM

A two hour live workshop including Q&A with Janie Stubblefield, MA, LPC-S meets the requirement for Texas specific ethics training for Texas LPCs. The structure is a planned workshop and Q&A.

Cost $40

Managing Anger: When You Say The Wrong Thing

Thursday, January 5, 2023 @ 12:50 PM

One of the hardest things to do when dealing with anger is controlling our tongue.

We may be overcome with emotion and say something hurtful, damaging and/or inappropriate. When we calm down, we often feel some regret and wish we could take back our words.

Although we are not able to go back and change what we said, we can take some positive steps in dealing with anger.

First, we can take responsibility for our actions. It may be humbling to apologize, but simply saying "I'm sorry" or "I shouldn't have said what I did" can bring healing and restoration to the situation and relationships that may have been affected.

We also can and must forgive ourselves and accept that we are only human and imperfect.

Finally, we can learn some healthy coping skills for dealing with anger that can help us throughout our lives.

We have two choices when it comes to dealing with anger in our lives: We either learn to control it or it will control us.

Anger is not something we can avoid or ignore. Whether it is our own anger or someone else’s, much of our days are spent dealing with anger and its consequences.

Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret. ~Ambrose Bierce

Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry. Ephesians 4:26

Making Peace with Your Past

Thursday, January 5, 2023 @ 12:47 PM

The day the child realizes that all adults are imperfect he becomes an adolescent; the day he forgives them, he becomes an adult; the day he forgives himself he becomes wise. ~Alden Nowlan

Are regrets, bad memories, or losses keeping you from enjoying each new day?

Is the past keeping you from moving into the future with hope and anticipation?

I recently heard a man say that it was not until he made peace with his past that he truly began to live. It changed his life so drastically that everyone noticed there was something different about him. It was not until 20 years after losing his father that he began to grieve the loss for the first time.

He finally allowed himself to face his past with all the anger and pain. There was so much that he missed out on. There were lost opportunities and things that would never be, so many regrets, poor choices, and bad experiences that would affect the rest of his life.

This man went through a process of acceptance and forgiveness. He felt the pain. He felt the anger. He mourned what was and could have been. And then, he released it. He made peace with his past, and he was ready to move on with his life.

Suddenly, new opportunities before him became exciting. He began to fully appreciate what he had, the people in his life, and what he had become. He began to hope for a better and brighter future. He was ready to give more of himself to others. And he began to enjoy his life more and more.

For the first time since he could remember, he felt free—free of burdens from the past, free of unresolved pain, free of bitterness and self-pity. He was free indeed!

He was free to enjoy his life, his family, and all that he had like never before. The past would no longer steal his joy and hope. It could not hold him back, and it was not going to keep him down any longer.

Is your past keeping you from fully enjoying your life?

Sometimes we do not stop and think about it. Just like the man described above, we might have regrets, unresolved pain, sorrow, anger, or unforgiveness. These things keep us bound to the past.

The past does not have to negatively influence our future. We can release it as we face it, deal with the emotions, come to accept what was and now is, and forgive our past.

Making peace with our past will lead us to experience healing, wholeness, and freedom to live our life with true joy. Every day is a new day to appreciate and enjoy. We do not have to allow our past to keep us from being truly happy today.

Choose to be free and take the necessary steps to be free now. (We might want to have a professional counselor help us go through this process.)

Following are questions to reflect on and steps to take in making peace with our past:

1. Face your past. What are your regrets? What caused or still causes you pain? What are your losses? Have you grieved them?

2. Face your feelings. Does your past make you angry, sad, feel bad about yourself, bitter, damaged, cheated?

3. Forgive your past. Do you have any bitterness, hatred, or unforgiveness towards anyone (including yourself)? Why are you holding on to it? What would it take for you to release it and free yourself from its control in your life?

4. Accept your past. When we cannot change something, the healthiest thing we can do is accept it. Can you accept your past? What have you learned from it? How can it change you for the better?

5. Make peace with your past and be free. When your past no longer controls your life—your peace, your hope, attitude, relationships, ability to love others, give and share of yourself, dream, believe, and trust once again, then you are free!

It is my hope that this has helped you in making peace with your past, and in looking forward to better days ahead!

Faithfully yours,

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

© 2023

Marriage Help: Restore Your Marriage & Fall in Love Again

Thursday, January 5, 2023 @ 12:04 PM

Discover 12 Proven Relationship Building Tools to Build a Strong, Loving and Successful Marriage!

Do you have marriage problems? Are you thinking about separating? Are in need of some marriage help?

If so, there's a solution: MARRIAGE HELP: Restore Your Marriage & Fall in Love Again (Self Help to Resolve Marriage Issues with 12 Proven Relationship Building Tools)

All marriages will face problems and challenges, even times of questioning love for one another. Yet, most couples want their marriages to work. They want to restore what was lost and fall in love again.

Couples with marriage problems that seek help are more likely to stay together, learn from the difficult times, and discover renewed love for one another! If you have decided that marriage difficulties will not keep you from believing that your marriage can be restored, this book is for you.

You’ll receive 12 proven relationship building tools and empowering ways to apply them. In this highly effective and engaging approach, you will be encouraged to make positive differences in the way you relate to one another. You will work through marriage issues and discover successful solutions.

With tools, applications, insights and inspiring reflections, you will embark on a lifelong journey to better communication, unconditional love and understanding, and genuine demonstrations of affection and heartfelt gratitude.

In Marriage Help, you’ll discover:

• The greatest indicator of success in a marriage

• What increases intimacy and romance

• How to feel alive and special again

• The one thing that makes you become happier in your marriage

• The secret to drawing closer to each other

• How to be on the same team

• How to connect emotionally with your partner

• The key to understanding each other

• The most difficult thing to do but reaps great rewards

• What to say to get more understanding, forgiveness and grace

• The wise thing to do instead of giving advice

• The power of attention and why it works so well

• One of the most common forms of destruction and how to avoid it

• What you can do to leave your partner with tender memories and fondness that will last forever

• And much, much more!

Plus, you’ll receive 4 BONUS Free Downloadable Handouts and Poster included with this book.

MARRIAGE HELP: Restore Your Marriage & Fall in Love Again (Self Help to Resolve Marriage Issues with 12 Proven Relationship Building Tools) can provide the marriage self help you need to overcome problems and to bring true hope, new life, and true love back into your marriage again!

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

How to Find Peace in a World of "Why?"

Wednesday, January 4, 2023 @ 2:43 PM

Pain and suffering are a part of the human experience. No one is exempt. Tragedies occur, leaving us in shock and devastation. Diseases weaken and destroy bodies. The innocent are abused and exploited. Families are broken and hearts are shattered. Losses leave us to grieve and cry out from the depths of our souls: “Why?” This question is so often directed to the only One who knows the answer. We plead for God to help us understand. We want to know why He allows people to hurt so badly and suffer unjustly.

Not understanding why people must suffer is the reason many people question the love and sovereignty of God. They reason, “How can a loving God allow such evil? Being all-powerful, He could easily stop it if He really cared.” Yet, their questions go unanswered and some deny God or pull away from Him. Sometimes it is for a season and sometimes it is for a lifetime.

Pain and suffering do not have to keep us from seeking God and going to Him with all of our questions, confusion, pain, and anger. He knows how we feel and what we think. He understands what we are going through. When bad things happen, it does not mean that He is no longer with us or present in our situation. It does not mean He loves us any less, or that He doesn’t care. However, it can be very difficult to believe this when we are hurting so badly. But nothing can ever change who God is. He is good no matter what happens. His plans for us are good, regardless of how things might appear.

Nothing can ever keep us from His love and grace. They never cease. Only we can keep ourselves from receiving His love and grace. He wants us to know Him, and all He has for us. That is why He invites us to draw near to Him and allow Him to draw near to us. We think we need answers, but He will give us so much more. He will give us His love that endures forever. He will give us His peace and will calm our minds. He will comfort our hearts and hold us up. He will be gracious and merciful to us. He will give us beauty for ashes. He will turn our mourning into dancing.

If you have ever asked Why? in the midst of circumstances that are beyond your understanding, you are not alone. When there is no answer or reasonable explanation, the way you handle it will determine how it changes you. You can choose to trust that God is still good, that He restores and comforts, brings healing and inner peace, and helps us learn and grow amid pain and suffering. And most of all, that He is the answer to all that we seek.

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief… and unspeakable love. ~ Washington Irving

Grief is not a disorder, a disease or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve. ~Earl Grollman

Grief can’t be shared. Everyone carries it alone. His own burden in his own way  ~ Anne Morrow

Grief is the price we pay for love  ~ Queen Elizabeth II

Can I see another’s woe, and not be in sorrow too? Can I see another’s grief, and not seek for kind relief?  ~ William Blake

Though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not. ~ C.S. Lewis

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. ~ Lamentations

Mourning is one of the most profound human experiences that it is possible to have... The deep capacity to weep for the loss of a loved one and to continue to treasure the memory of that loss is one of our noblest human traits. ~ Shneidman

We find a place for what we lose. Although we know that after such a loss the acute stage of mourning will subside, we also know that we shall remain inconsolable and will never find a substitute. No matter what may fill the gap, even if it be filled completely, it nevertheless remains something else. ~Sigmund Freud

If it were not for hopes, the heart would break. ~Thomas Fuller

Grief is a normal and natural response to loss. It is originally an unlearned feeling process. Keeping grief inside increases your pain. - Ann Grant

Allowing children to show their guilt, show their grief, show their anger, takes the sting out of the situation.  ~ Martha Beck

We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope. ~Martin Luther King

My job is to take care of the possible and trust God with the impossible. ~unknown

Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, faith looks up. ~unknown

Worry is a total waste of time. It doesn’t change anything. All it does is taint your mind and steals your joy. You can’t have joy without peace, and there is no peace without God. ~unknown

How to Find Peace in a World of "Why?" written by Krystal Kuehn
Published in the Mirror Magazine, Faithfully Yours section

Copyright © 2023 All Rights Reserved