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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:

Saturday, January 14, 2023

5 Steps to Goal Setting Success

Saturday, January 14, 2023 @ 11:45 AM

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. ~Chinese proverb

Before we set out to accomplish anything at all, we must begin with a clear picture in our minds of already having achieved our goal.

We wouldn’t even imagine trying to glue broken pieces of pottery back together without any idea of what it’s supposed to look like.

So, why should we go through life without a clear purpose? Once we begin to visualize something, we can begin to figure out how to make it happen.

Following are steps to consider in setting goals:

A Clear Purpose

The first step is to have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish.

Consider the lifestyle you want to live, your motives, and your priorities.

Recall what others have confirmed as your gifts and talents.

Think about what you are passionate about.

Create a clear picture in your mind and see yourself having reached your goal.

Imagine what you would be doing and what life would be like for you.

Think about what it means to you to fulfill your goals.

A Course of Action

Once you have a clear purpose, it is time to take action in setting goals and in achieving them.

The best way to begin is to make your goals measurable, and organize your objectives by writing them down. Before any building is ever built, a blueprint is drawn. Without it there would be no plan or direction in what do, how to do it, or what materials to use. In the same way, life goals need a clear course of action.

Think of the first steps you must take to achieve your goals.

Now write down at least 3 short-term goals and 3 long-term goals.

Some short-term goals can be daily or weekly. Record deadlines for each goal, and be sure to check them off when they are reached. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and help you stay motivated.

Each new goal you set will give you hope and anticipation for its fulfillment. And with each step you take, you will grow and accomplish new things.

Creating S.M.A.R.T. Goals

S = Specific [answer the questions - Who? What? Where? When? How?]
General goal = Lose Weight
Specific goal = My goal is to join Jake's Fitness Center next week on Monday, February 18th and begin working out 3 days a week [Mon, Tues, Sat].

M = Measurable [How much? How many?]
Example- My goal is to lose 10 lbs (2 lbs a week).

A = Achievable [you can attain most any goal you set if you plan wisely, persist and stay motivated]

R = Realistic [answer the questions - Can I accomplish this? Do I have the ability and skills needed?]

T = Timely [set time frames for each goal]
Example- My goal is to lose a total of 10 lbs starting March 1st for 5 weeks ending April 5th.

To Your Success,

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. ~Mark Twain

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

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

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Developing a Deeper Connection with God Shannan Crawford, Psy.D.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022 @ 9:29 PM

Crawford Clinics


Development happens in relationship. Different parts of self emerge in response to experiences with different people, and those people teach us how to treat ourselves, as well as how to view God and expect to be treated by Him. When the way we feel toward God (God image) doesn’t line up with our theology (God concept), we may be projecting a relational dynamic from the past onto Him. The Restoring Self-Cohesion (RSC) model offers a framework for raising awareness of these projections, modifying the cognitions associated with them, and repairing relationship with oneself and with God as the counselor’s empathic attunement with the client creates a corrective experience.


Although faith is generally a protective factor and a beneficial support system promoting psychological health (Pargament, 2013), many individuals are discouraged in their faith—desiring an intimate relationship with God, yet feeling alone, ashamed, condemned, and unlovable. Even people who say they believe God to be loving, forgiving, and kind may experience Him as angry, distant, and disapproving. When there is a discrepancy between our God concept (theological understanding of God) and God image (subjective experience of God), there is a mismatch between what we think and what we feel about God (Rizzuto,1979; Lawrence, 1997; Moriarty & Hoffman, 2007; Ulanov, 1989; Spero, 1992).
An individual’s God image is a compilation of life experiences and interactions with authority figures of the past, which produce unconscious projections of God. The seminal work on God image, Moriarty and Hoffman’s God Image Handbook for Spiritual Counseling and Psychotherapy (2007), provides a thorough review of theoretical articles as well as quantitative and qualitative studies distinguishing between God image and God concept. This handbook also provides strategies to help counselors repair a client’s God image using different theoretical models.


God is one being (Deut. 6:4, Mark 12:29) with three parts (2 Cor. 13:14) and many roles (e.g., provider, healer, redeemer, shepherd, protector). Being made in His image (Gen. 1:26), humans also have separate parts, each designed to offer unique dimension to the personality. Like an orchestra playing a symphony, self-cohesion exists when all parts of self are playing in harmony—mirroring the unity of the Trinity.
Another illustration is to think of parts of self like members of a committee, equally valued while serving different functions and sharing mutual respect. With no dictator present and no parts hiding, each member is able to bravely fulfill its role. It is important to note that multiple parts form a single personality, rather than multiple distinct personalities, as in Dissociative Identity Disorder.


The parts of self within a person develop and learn how to interact with one another based on interactions with caregivers and others, such that intrapersonal relationships will mirror interpersonal ones. Emotionally responsive parenting is critical to the development of a cohesive self. Winnicott (1966) describes “good-enough” parenting as emotionally tuning in to the child and repairing the relationship when the parent-child connection is broken. However, many people grow up in families in which parents are unable to respond to the child’s emotions and/or they don’t discuss relational breaches, essentially sweeping them under the rug and going on as if nothing happened. In this family dynamic, children, dependent upon parents for security and attachment, learn to suppress their sadness and/or anger, expressing only positivity to their caregivers and dealing with unaccepted negative emotions alone. Since there is no internal rug to sweep our pain under, the soul is bearing the brunt of every hurtful thing we go through. To preserve relationship, the soul configures itself in such a way that pain is cordoned off and absorbed by a part of self that carries the sadness, anger, shame, etc. into the unconscious. The problem is that the part of self holding the relational breach remains stuck or “regressed” in the pain, frozen at the age at which it went into hiding.
These regressed parts of self, through breached relationships with loved ones, often develop inaccurate God images from those experiences. For instance, a child who experiences a painful event involving an authority figure may develop a belief that authority figures are unsafe. Thus, when relating to God as an authority figure, that belief will automatically be triggered, causing the person to unconsciously perceive God as unsafe and pull away accordingly.


From conception, neural networks begin forming. According to Hebb (1949), “Neurons that fired together wired together,” developing automatic processes of perception, thought, memory, emotion, and behavior. Early in life, the unconscious mind develops concepts of caregivers and templates of relationship dynamics which are created based on the major influencers in our lives. We then learn to automatically respond in similar ways to new situations and people, including God (Garzon, 2007).
For some people, the thought of calling God “Father” evokes warm, affectionate feelings. For others who had an abusive father figure, calling God “Father” could trigger intense feelings of fear, guilt, shame, or dread, causing them to subconsciously pull away from God, as they did with their father figure. It could produce feelings of emptiness and unworthiness for those who have been abandoned and/or neglected or disgust for those who have been inappropriately touched or looked at by a father figure. A multitude of visceral reactions can be instantaneously elicited based on the individual’s life experiences. The quandary is that this is an automatic process the person is not consciously aware of, leading them to respond to God as they did their caregiver without knowing why. This is precisely the disconnect people describe when they say they know God is loving, and yet they can’t shake the feeling that He is angry or disappointed in them.


Ideally, there should be such unity and fluidity among the parts of self that, as the person shifts between parts, their God image remains stable and congruent with their God concept. For such people, they are able to experience God as emotionally loving and responsive even amidst life’s challenges, rather than projecting that bad things are happening because He is punishing them.
However, many of us generally experience God as loving and then suddenly feel like God is distant and unresponsive—and then feel shame for the “dryness” in our relationship with God. Since we know God does not change (James 1:17), the variability is actually within us. When we shift from one part of self to another, the God image associated with that part is activated.
Without understanding the dynamics of God image, many Christians succumb to every projection their internal world constructs of God. For one woman, she diligently worked hard in her relationship with God, treating it like homework that she had to “cram for” to earn a good grade. In interview, the woman divulged that she never realized, until asked questions prompting her to reflect, how “demanding” she experienced God. When brought to her awareness, she was able to identify the similarity to the dynamic with her military father, who was “always hard on me,” transferring his high expectations onto God. As she had with her father, she was working to earn God’s love by trying to please Him.
How many Christians are unconsciously reenacting dynamics with their parents in their relationship with The Lord?


In review, the difference between an individual’s God concept (their conscious theologically-based beliefs about God) and their God image (their unconscious projections of God based on their human experiences) has been well established (Moriarty & Hoffman, 2007). While God concept remains relatively stable, God image may shift depending on which part of self is activated because each part carries its own corresponding God image. Rather than conceptualizing God image as a static construct, it is beneficial to raise clients’ awareness of which part of them is activated and how their subjective experience of God may change accordingly. When there is a conflict between what they know to be true about God based on scripture and the way they feel about Him in the moment, the model described below to can help re-align their God image with their God concept.


The Restoring Self-Cohesion (RSC) model, developed through clinical practice, provides a framework for inviting regressed parts of self to come out of hiding and become mature members of the internal committee. As such, RSC also offers tools for repairing God image. By raising awareness of each part of self, we can examine the individual’s corresponding God images and facilitate authentic connection with God rather than re-enacting painful dynamics from their past. The counselor serves as a bridge, standing in the role of the offending party and providing a corrective experience by empathizing, validating and mirroring the client’s emotions (Kohut, 1977; Kohut, 1984; Siegel, 1996), and serving as a conduit of God’s love and compassion.
RSC is designed to be relationship-oriented rather than task-oriented. The genuine connection between client and counselor serves as a template for healing the relationships between parts of self and ultimately with God. Restoring self-cohesion is a multifaceted process that unfolds organically such that phases may overlap and/or occur in a different order than presented below. It may be necessary to return to a previous phase to process at a deeper level and/or repeat the process with another part of self.

Raising Awareness

Explore relationships with God and attachment figures using questions to bring underlying dynamics to conscious awareness:
• What roles are God and I in? (e.g., parent/child, teacher/student, judge/defendant)?
• What does my relationship with God feel like? (e.g., being sent to the principal’s office)
• How do dynamics of my relationship with God parallel those of past relationships?

When exploring the influence of past relationships on God image, keep in mind that even the absence of a relationship is a dynamic in itself. Also, be aware that an individual may have positive and negative experiences about the same person. Therefore, one attachment figure can produce more than one God image projection.

Renewing Cognitions

In order for regressed parts of self to have permission to sit at the table with the rest of the internal committee, dominant parts must agree to allow it. This occurs by bringing distorted cognitions and projections into conscious awareness, acknowledging that they do not accurately reflect reality, and embracing new truth. This process actually modifies the neural network (Leaf, 2007). In short, we can renew the mind through an act of the will.

• “I acknowledge and reject the false projection that God is like… [person from the past]” (i.e., 3rd grade teacher)
• “I reject that God will… [dynamic of the past relationship]” (i.e., criticize me)
• “I accept the truth that… [how God actually is, using Biblically-based truth to refute the lie]” (i.e., God is not condemning me but loves me unconditionally - Romans 8:1)

Repairing Relationship With Self

Regressed parts of self have usually been hidden and suppressed from conscious awareness, often rejected by other parts. Restoring cohesion requires repairing relationship between parts of self, a process that may include acknowledgement of regressed parts, forgiveness and releasing judgments, and reconciliation. For the believer, the process of learning to love the regressed part of self includes introducing that part to the One who is love Himself, thus continuing the process of progressive sanctification.

• “I acknowledge the part of me that [name regressed part]” (i.e. has held all my anger toward my sister)
• “I release judgment against [name judged part] and ask forgiveness for [offense done to or by that part]” (i.e., release judgment against angry part and ask that part of me to forgive me for suppressing it)
• “I choose to unconditionally love this part of me.”
• “God, I trust you to unconditionally love this part of me.”

Repairing Relationship With Others

As mental health professionals and pastors, we have the rare privilege of stepping into the sacred space of people’s deepest wounds and serving as a bridge between those who hurt them and the God who loves them. Healing happens as the client is able to experience and express emotions that were previously unsafe, in the presence of one who attunes and responds appropriately to their pain.
• Acknowledge defense mechanisms—making it safe to lower them. Intellectualization, denial, or other defenses may have been engaged and even successful at protecting the client to this point. Honoring those defenses and perhaps even thanking the protector part of self is often a first step for gaining access to the regressed parts of self they have been shielding from pain.
• Instill confidence that you can handle the full intensity of the client’s emotions, reiterating they do not need to stay in control or temper themselves for your sake or to earn your approval. Your role is not to judge but to love them unconditionally. Your facial expressions reveal the empathy, delight, and genuine care you feel for them when they are in the part of self they thought was too angry, ugly, rebellious, or hateful to be loved. As they experience you loving the “unlovable” parts of them, they come to believe that God can and will as well.
• When they are ready, guide the client as they use their imagination to re-enter the painful experience. Encourage them to step back in time, visualizing being in the moment and actually confronting the person who hurt them as if you are that person.
• Remain fully present with the client, maintaining empathic attunement and validating feelings without swooping in to try to fix or calm them. Jumping in prematurely can abort the grieving process, pulling them out of their heart and back into their intellect. If you inadvertently invalidate their pain, you risk activating and further entrenching defenses, which will be counterproductive. Allowing the client to process raw “ugly” emotions provides a corrective experience that challenges dynamics that distorted their God image in the first place (e.g., “Quit your crying, or I’ll give you something to cry about!”), giving them hope that like you are demonstrating, God, too, can handle the full intensity of their toughest emotions.
• When the client’s words and emotion begin to taper, respond by stepping into the role of the one who hurt them. Validate the legitimacy of their pain, anger, and sadness. Acknowledge the injustice of wrongs done to them. Speaking in first person and without making excuses, apologize for the damage that you, as the abuser/parent/teacher, have caused them. By proxy, you are offering what, many times, the actual person was not emotionally healthy enough or capable of offering.
• While still in the role of the offender, ask the client for forgiveness. It is appropriate to acknowledge that you are not asking them to forget or say that what happened was okay, nor are you asking for your own benefit. Rather, present it as an opportunity, if they are ready, to release what they have held against you (the offender by proxy) so that they no longer have to carry around the pain of that wound in their soul. Typically, by this point in the process, most clients are able to forgive.
• Once the tension with the offender is resolved, it is appropriate to step out of that role and back into the role of the counselor. Again serving as their guide, you can walk the client through visualizing some form of reconciliation (e.g., hugging the person they just forgave) or at least release (e.g., escorting them out of the internal world).
• Continue to remain present and tuned into the client, giving them time to assimilate their experience of what has just happened. They may need a few moments to simply be still and take a breath before being ready to debrief and discuss what the process was like for them.

Once the regressed part of self has been brought into conscious awareness and relationships with self and others have been repaired, that part should no longer remain stuck at the age at which it was frozen. As counseling continues, emphasis will shift toward helping that part mature into full healthy and adaptive functioning.


Just as painful experiences with others can damage parts of self and our relationship with God, positive experiences can restore parts of self, bringing them back into harmony with one another and with God. The RSC model provides a framework for doing this in the context of the counseling relationship, offering healing to one part after another. The greater the degree of self-cohesion, the more personality functioning in daily life resembles a symphony—all parts playing in concert with one another. Because each part of self carries its own God image, increased self-cohesion also results in a more stable God image—and one that is more congruent with the individual’s God concept, resolving dissonance between what one theologically believes about God and their emotional experience of Him. Relating to God as He is rather than based on projections from past relationships ultimately allows us to experience more vibrant connection with Him.


Hebb, D. (1949). The organization of behavior: A neuropsychological theory. New York: Wiley.

Kohut, H. (1984). How does analysis cure? Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Kohut, H. (1977). The restoration of self. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Lawrence, R.T. (1997). Measuring the image of God: The God Image Inventory and the God Image Scales. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 25(2), 214-226

Leaf, C. (2009). Who switched off my brain. Thomas Nelson Inc.
Moriarty, Glen L., & Hoffman. L. (Eds.) (2008). The God image handbook for spiritual counseling and psychotherapy: research, theory and practice. Routledge: New York.
Pargament, K. (2013). Psychology, Religion and spirituality. American Psychological Association (APA).

Parker, S. (2008). "Winnicott’s object relations theory and the work of the Holy Spirit." Journal of Psychology and Theology, 36, 285-293.

Rizzuto, A.M., (1979) The birth of the living God. Chicago: University Press.

Siegel, A. (1996) Heinz Kohut and the psychology of the self (Makers of Modern Psychotherapy) Routledge: Taylor & Francis Ltd.
Spero M. H. (1992). Religious objects as psychological structures. a critical integration of object relations theory, psychotherapy, and Judaism. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Ulanov, A.(2001). Finding space: Winnicott, God, and psychic reality. Philadelphia: Westminister/John Knox.

Winnicott, D. W. (1971) Playing and reality. New York: Basic Books. C. Winnicott, R. Shepherd, & M. Davis (Eds.). Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publications.

Winnicott, D.W. (1966) The maturational process and the facilitating environment. New York: International University Press.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

4 Ways to Cope With Relationship Anxiety

Wednesday, December 21, 2022 @ 9:41 PM

What is Relationship Anxiety?

Relationship anxiety is when you have anxiety or worry within your relationships. It is normal to have uneasiness within the relationship as it develops and grows. However, this becomes concerning once it hinders growth within the healthy development of the relationship. Feeling insecure within the relationship can impact your perception of what is happening within the relationship as well as impact stress for both parties.

You may ask if things will last or if you are with the right person. You may wonder if they are seeing someone else or have a secret that could harm the relationship. Experiencing relationship anxiety doesn’t mean that you are in a bad relationship. It’s the fear and worry of not wanting the relationship to take a bad turn that is often a trigger for the anxiety.

Examples of this could be that you won’t bring up a potential problem because you don’t want to upset the vibe within the relationship. Ignoring things that your partner does to upset you for fear that it may cause a fight and cause a potential break up. It can make you wonder if you and your partner are meant to be for the long term. It can cause you to look at the small differences and make them bigger than they are.

What Causes Relationship Anxiety?

There can be many different causes for relationship anxiety. The most common ones are emotional neglect, lack of motivation, attachment difficulties, and general anxiety. Emotional neglect can stem from having low self-esteem or experiencing trauma from the past. Attachment difficulties can occur if there was difficulty bonding with a parent or caregiver at a young age. General anxiety can stem from being worried about the direction of where the relationship is going.

Relationship anxiety can also stem from poor relationship experiences that you have had in the past. Perhaps your trust was broken when the person broke up with you unexpectedly, wasn’t authentic when he or she shared their feelings for you, or lied about their feelings for you. It is not uncommon to have difficulty trusting your current person even if there are no signs of dishonesty or manipulation.

Low self-esteem can contribute to insecurity and anxiety. Research has shown that people with low self-esteem are more likely to question their partner’s feelings than those with high self-esteem. People with high self-esteem are more likely to be in relationships that affirm them.

Attachment styles can also be a factor in relationship anxiety. If you had the experience of a parent or caregiver consistently meeting your needs while providing you with love and support, then you probably have a secure attachment style. Insecure attachment styles can be causes for relationship anxiety if you tend to avoid issues or are constantly worried about your partner abandoning you, either physically or emotionally.

How to Cope

The beginning of seeing change is in the recognition that it exists. Here are some coping strategies:

1. Recognize what is the cause of the anxiety.

2. Communicate. Potential problems and concerns can’t be addressed if there isn’t a discussion.

3. Pay attention to how your body is responding. Deep breathing techniques can slow down rapid heart rates and calm chest tightness. Prayer can bring you greater peace. Stretching can release areas of the body where there is tension due to fight or flight syndrome.

4. Having counseling sessions to uncover the deeper issues around the anxiety as well as practicing stress management techniques can be effective tools to use and see results within those relationships where there are feelings of anxiety.

You can get help today. Call 443-860-6870 or use the calendar to schedule an appointment.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

10 Foods That Can Contribute to Depression

Tuesday, December 13, 2022 @ 7:21 PM

When speaking with clients, we also speak and discuss diet as part of their healing journey. Part of self-care is paying attention to our diet and implementing balance within our meals. A 2017 study found that the symptoms of people with moderate to severe depression improved when they changed their diet. The new diet consisted of fresh and whole foods that were high in nutrients. It also consisted of eating less processed foods, sugary, and fried foods While changing diet does not alleviate depression completely, positive results can be seen when it is combined with therapy.

What Should I Avoid?

1.Fruit Juice

The fiber from eating whole fruits can fill you up and slow down how you take in energy. However, without fiber, you’re drinking nutritious sugar and water. It will give you a moment of energy and a quick crash.

2. White bread

The processed flour from white bread can quickly turn to sugar.

3. Prepackaged dressing

Most prepackaged dressings are loaded with sugar. When looking at the ingredients at the grocery store, it is often listed as “high -fructose corn syrup.” Dressings that are listed as “light” or “sugar-free” may be sweetened by aspartame. This is an artificial sweetener which has a negative link to anxiety or depression.

4. Fast food

Studies show that there is a link between fast food, depression, and levels of inflammation within the body. Those who select the higher fat choices have a 40% higher risk of developing depression.

5. Alcohol

The consumption of alcohol encourages a release of serotonin within the body. However, for those who are depressed, it can have a negative effect on the body. The affect of alcohol can stimulate different pathways in the brain which could alter mood. In addition, if you are taking antidepression medication, the combination of alcohol could make the medication less effective.


High salt consumption can increase inflammation within the body. It can also affect how food is digested within the gut and the travel of blood flow in the brain. These factors can be contributors to depression and impair cognitive function.

7. Refined sugar

Studies show a potential association between sugar consumption and depression. Sugar increases inflammation and encourages hormone imbalance. Inflammation and hormone imbalance are linked to mood. Sugar can also have a potential impact on the growth and development of brain cells and proteins. This can have an influence on neurotransmitters within the brain.

8.Artificial sweeteners

Many artificial sweeteners have an ingredient of aspartame. This ingredient, when there is high consumption, can affect depression and irritable mood. Research suggests that aspartame impacts the balance of chemicals within the brain (such as serotonin and dopamine) and increases levels to cortisol, the “stress hormone.”

9.Energy drinks

Many energy drinks have a combination of caffeine and sugar, which can affect depression and anxiety.

10.Processed meat

Studies show a significant tie to the consumption of processed meat and depressive symptoms. This is due to trans and saturated fat content which encourages higher inflammation within the body. Inflammation is a tie to depressive mood.

What Foods Are Healthy?

Increasing fruits and vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, lean proteins, some seafood, organ meats such as liver, and yogurt are foods that can be added to the diet and offset the symptoms of depression and anxiety. When adding an improved diet consistently to your everyday life, you can see a decrease in depressive symptoms.

You Can Get Help Today

Having a balanced diet can assist in depression treatment. To learn more, call 443-860-6870 or make an appointment today.

Sunday, December 4, 2022

How Nature Can Help Heal Trauma

Sunday, December 4, 2022 @ 9:24 PM

Those who get counseling support and are in the process of dealing with trauma realize that it is a process. It is quite often a marathon, not a sprint. Traumatic events can affect emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.

What Is Trauma?

Trauma can affect every area of your life including your spirit, soul, and body. Trauma is your response to a terrible event. A car accident, surviving a hurricane, sexual assault, domestic violence, or surviving abuse are examples of trauma. Shock and denial are common for those who have experienced trauma. When you feel mentally hurt by something, that is trauma. Trauma responses can be an unexpected outburst of emotion, withdrawal from others, estranged relationships, flashbacks, repressed memories, migraines, stomach aches, or nausea. Trauma response recovery can vary from days to years. It depends on the severity of the trauma.

Many who experience trauma feel unsafe, are in a state of consistent fear and feel a sense of helplessness. With counseling support, survivors of trauma can feel safe again and have a more transformed experience as they go through their healing journey.

How Does Nature Help?

Connection with nature can help with bringing a greater sense of peace and regaining focus when recovering from a traumatic event. Nature is not a stand-alone treatment for those in the process of overcoming trauma. However, studies show that there are benefits within nature that can assist those who have experienced trauma.

Studies also show that nature can alleviate ailments within the body that people who have suffered from trauma have endured. Trauma makes one have a heightened fight or flight response. Cortisol, which is known to be a stress chemical, is known to be an agent of increased weight or a reason for people who have cardiovascular issues which are common for survivors of trauma. Being outdoors can lower stress and decrease the stress chemical cortisol.

Grounding is a technique that can help survivors of trauma. The act of grounding is having a physical connection with the earth. Research shows that the electronically conductive conduct of the human body with a direct connection to the earth produces positive effects on a person’s health. Grounding can reduce inflammation, can improve autoimmune diseases, reduce sleep, improve sleeping patterns, and regulate cortisol levels. The practice of grounding can be as simple as walking barefoot outside or taking a swim.

Horticulture therapy is the simple act of planting. It is the intentional act of planting vegetation for the purpose of healing and restoration. Anyone can do this as plants respond to anyone who treats them well.

Animal-assisted therapy is also a way to experience healing when surviving a trauma. Animals can bring nurturing emotions in people to help them break down walls that have been put up as a trauma response. Trained animals can also sense when a person is having a difficult time and can get close to the survivor to help him or her process their emotions in a nurturing way.

Exercising outdoors is another way to connect with nature. It can improve movement and concentration as well as lower stress. Living through trauma affects the whole body. Our bodies hold on to trauma as if to prepare in case it happens again. Exercise can be an outlet to release the trauma that your body has experienced.

You Can Get Help Today

You don’t have to go through and experience your pain without help or support. Speaking with a counselor can help you with combining and implement nature within your trauma-focused counseling sessions. Call 443-860-6870 or make an appointment today.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

How Stay At Home Moms Can Cope With Depression

Wednesday, November 30, 2022 @ 2:40 PM

Stay At Home Mom (SAHM) depression is taboo to talk about, but common. This depression shows up in moms who are doing continual parenting and household duties, experiencing isolation, and feeling as if they are closed in when it comes to having space to themselves. These moms also tend to feel as if things will fall apart if they are not “everything” to “everyone” in the family. Sticking to a schedule doesn’t help because anything unexpected can happen when you have little ones. It is exhausting. These moms often feel misunderstood and unseen. The false perception that they are playing with the kids all day or that life is easier because they aren’t working a 9-5 job feeds the desire to withdraw and not share the frustrations of the day. Experiencing mom guilt adds to these feelings of hopelessness as it feeds the lie that you are selfish if you are taking care of yourself.

These moms are more likely to report anger and sadness. They are more likely to be diagnosed with depression than mothers who are employed. Age is not a factor, it is the factors surrounding what the mother is experiencing that feed the depression. While being a mother is rewarding, it can also be the most difficult and life-changing role you have ever encountered. There is hope for you today.

Symptoms of Stay-at-Home Mom Depression

· Loss of energy and motivation can bring the lethargy of everything feeling hard. Do you feel like you are dragging to get through the day? Are you experiencing burnout?

· Change in appetite can look like an increase in emotional eating, particularly, the indulgence of sweet or salty snacks.

· Difficulty sleeping or needing more sleep is often hard to detect because moms are typically up with young children at night. This can refer to those moments where there are opportunities to rest but worry, sadness, or feeling overwhelmed intrude on your mind when trying to sleep.

· Feeling overwhelmed. Do you feel like it is difficult to cope? Are you feeling like anything you do is too much?

· Mom guilt creates a cycle where she feels guilty for taking care of herself even as her children are well taken care of. This can be further from the truth as studies show that moms who take care of themselves are more present and have more joy in caring for their children.

· Loss of identity. Before your children, you had a regular schedule and were pursuing dreams and goals. Now, you may be questioning how you will pursue those goals when you have young children.

These symptoms are not just about feeling sad for a moment. This is a sadness that lingers.

How Can a Mom Experiencing Depression Cope?

· Process what you are feeling. It is possible to love everything about being a mother while at the same time acknowledging the difficulties at the same time. Having these feelings don’t make you a bad mother. It makes you human.

· Have a regular morning routine. Your morning routine can be a flexible one, but still have one that requires brushing your teeth, getting dressed, and washing your face. Starting your day fresh can help you in having reset from the prior day.

· Build your tribe and discover other mom friends. Find mom friend groups in your community with similar interests as you. This will help to break down some of the isolation you may be feeling.

· Ask for help. Speaking with a counselor can help you to process what you are experiencing and better adjust to your new life of being a mom.

· Make yourself a priority. Finding and discovering balance is vital in your healing journey. Talking with someone can help with discovering how to get you back on your healing journey.

Taking the step to speak with a counselor can be life-changing. Call 443-860-6870 to schedule an appointment or use the calendar to set up a time to move forward in your healing journey today.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

3 concentric circles

Thursday, November 24, 2022 @ 11:33 PM

Michael Henson

You and I are a 3 in 1. Discover how each of these 3 parts are not fully conscientiously explained and evaluated to realize how we behave in REACTING VS. RESPONDING. CALL to schedule your sessions and I will show you how all of this makes sense in honoring the Lord’s pray and becoming a transformed Christian to walk in victory while living a hard life. God never promised it would be easy.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Questions to Ask a Counselor

Wednesday, November 23, 2022 @ 2:18 PM

You need to get help as soon as possible. Thanksgiving is tomorrow and you’re dreading it; thinking there’s going to be a lot to process after getting together with your family. The way they talk to each other and all the drinking triggers all those crazy relationship patterns and addictions you’ve been stuck in. Your partner is in recovery and you are going into control and fear mode. You’ve put off getting a therapist because things have felt peaceful and you didn’t want to rock the boat. But now you realize that you both need help to make it through the holidays.

Denver is such a happening place, especially now, and there will be more triggers with all the parties coming back after Covid. So this morning you googled Christian Counselors in Denver and you’ve found a couple of individual therapists and a group practice that sounds good for dealing with addictions and relationships. They all offer free consultations but where do you start, what questions do you ask?

I get it, it’s taken a lot of falls in your journey to finally make the call. I am here to help you individually and as a couple. Let me give you some tips that may get you the counselor you need:

What do you mean by Christian Counseling?

What can I expect to get out of counseling?

Do I have to dredge up the past?

How will you keep me accountable so that I make the changes I need to make?

Where are you located?

How much will it cost?

Do you take insurance?

I hope this helps you in finding a good fit. If not, how can I help? Book a free 15-minute consultation or call 720-577-5985 and get some answers on what questions to ask when finding a Christian Counselor in Denver.

Finding a Christian Counselor

Wednesday, November 23, 2022 @ 1:17 PM

It’s the week before Thanksgiving and maybe you’re thinking, “I can’t do the holidays again with some of these get togethers I’ve already committed to.” You are feeling dread in your heart and stomach; the heartburn and stomach troubles you know so well. The people closest to you say, “it’s time to get some help with this, things can be different.”

You start googling for Christian counselors near me. Let’s talk about several things to consider when looking at each website.

· Does the content on the website resonate with your pain, story and struggles?

· Do you feel hope based on being understood, and realistic promises regarding positive changes?

· Are you able to chat with the counselor before the first meeting to see if this is the right therapist for you?

· For building trust, you may look at the About or Meet page and see what the person’s credentials are, where they were trained, the professional organizations they identify with.

· On the same page look for some personal information regarding their faith and life. Read a blog or two. Do your beliefs align?

· You may see if they are listed on a counseling directory.

· Do they have openings that work for you on a weekly basis?

I realize that is a lot of things to consider, in addition to “what exactly do I want out of therapy?” Please call 720-577-5985 if you have questions or simply want to schedule a free 15 minute consultation. I look forward to connecting with you.

Monday, November 21, 2022

TherapyCards, Tarjetas de Terrapin, and Cartes de Thérapie

Monday, November 21, 2022 @ 11:45 AM

Beautiful, colorful, and inspiring therapy cards have been put together to help you on your journey to growth. They are in English, French, and Spanish; you can buy them on Amazon using the links listed below.

Des cartes de thérapie belles, colorées et inspirantes ont été rassemblées pour vous aider dans votre voyage vers la croissance. Ils sont en anglais, en français et en espagnol; vous pouvez les acheter sur Amazon en utilisant les liens répertoriés ci-dessous.

Se han reunido tarjetas de terapia hermosas, coloridas e inspiradoras para ayudarlo en su viaje hacia el crecimiento. Están en inglés, francés y español; puede comprarlos en Amazon utilizando los enlaces que se enumeran a continuación.

English Cards Link:

French Cards Link:

Spanish Card Link:

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Live From Elisha's Space: A Parent's Adoption Story

Wednesday, November 16, 2022 @ 11:09 PM

Robin Bartko is joining Elisha’s Space to discuss her story of how her family dynamics changed when her son was adopted. Hear her as she tells the joys as well as the challenges of international adoption. #RobinBartko #WellnessGirlfriendLLC

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

7 Ways Older Populations Can Manage Anxiety

Tuesday, November 15, 2022 @ 9:02 AM

Everyone has feelings of anxiousness or nervousness. However, when these feelings become overwhelming and affect your everyday life, it could be classified as an anxiety disorder. People of all ages may experience signs of anxiety, however, older adults may experience symptoms that look different from the general population. Studies show that anxiety disorders affect 10-20% of older adults. As you age, more anxiety increases. With that said, many of these anxiety disorders go undiagnosed.

With older adults, anxiety is found more often than cognitive disorders and depression. When diagnosed, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is more commonly associated with this population. Following this diagnosis are phobias, panic disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Anxiety for older adults can look like

· Racing thoughts

· Constant worrying

· Feelings of hopelessness

· Sleep apnea

· Difficulty concentrating

· Nausea

· Hot flashes

· Shortness of breath

· Greater frequency in using the restroom

· Eye and vision problems

· Dizziness

· Chest pain

· Heart palpitations

· Forgetfulness

· Withdrawal

· Change in weight, appetite, or eating habits

How Can Older Adults Manage Their Anxiety?

1. Recognize triggers. Anxiety can come regardless of triggers. It can come because of environmental and situational factors. Since older adults typically deal with frequent change, it can cause more anxiety in their everyday life. Some triggers can include:

· Financial insecurity

· Health problems

· Dementia

· Loss of independence

· Feelings of isolation

· End of life planning

· Grief and loss

Recognition of triggers can help in processing how to move forward when helping your loved ones.

2. Educate yourself. Having an understanding of not only what the triggers are as well as how to cope with them helps to recognize when you feel out of control. Therapy is an avenue you can take to learn how to cope with your anxiety. Through therapy, you can also learn relaxation methods that you can utilize when handling other stressors. You can also learn to recognize how to respond to anxiety when you recognize that the symptoms are beginning.

3. Build your tribe. Family, friends, and connections geographically near you that you trust are helpful resources to turn to when you feel like you are losing control. These connections can also help identify stressful situations and note when you are going in the wrong direction. Your tribe can bring you from a place of feeling helpless to feeling hopeful.

4. Integrate including a healthy balanced lifestyle. Paying attention to how well you sleep as well as the length of time you are rested, eating a balanced meal, and exercising help manage stress levels. In addition, taking active steps to have social interactions and doing activities that you love can also reduce stress in your life. Finding ways to volunteer and giving back can also bring balance and help to lower the stress and anxiety that you may be experiencing. A walk in the neighborhood or in the park should suffice when integrating exercise into your life.

5. Rule out that the problem isn’t biological. If the anxiety issue becomes diagnosed, it can be effectively managed with the combination of counseling, medication, and relaxation techniques.

6. Develop a plan. Developing a plan and sticking to it can alter the feeling of being out of control to being in control. These skills are learned through therapy.

7. Spend time in prayer and other spiritual practices. Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Studying Scripture and having a consistent prayer life can help to alleviate stress and anxiety.

Get Help Today

Getting the proper help and counseling support needed can help you have a better quality of life. Call 443-860-6870 today to make an appointment.

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Hello, My Name is Phillip

Sunday, November 6, 2022 @ 12:44 AM

My wife, Karen and I, grew up in difficult home environments. Both of us had parents who remained married. And both of us were also abused by others. I’ll write of those experiences in other books. But this book emerged from those experiences because of a deep conviction that every kid deserves safe adults.

The abuse Karen experienced, fragmented her soul. Each soul fragment, a hidden aspect of her personality, had a name. As she walked through 20 plus years of recovery, I began to meet the “kids on the inside,” one after another. One of the first I met was Phillip, a 6-year-old little guy, on the spectrum, who rocked and said colors to calm himself.

I loved Phillip, this part of Karen. He was artistic, humorous, intelligent, and the holder of so much faith and joy.

He became for me a picture of a kid who had endured too much for his young years and who at last had found healing.

While in a class I was teaching a couple years ago, when I completed one of the assignments, I made a discovery I never expected. The assignment was to identify something I needed to proclaim, tell what it was and how I would share it. My deep desire to protect and rescue kids from tough environments emerged as a desire to tell a story and help kids in the process. I said to my group that I would write a story.

In that preparation, I saw this picture of a little boy in a dark closet. He sat there with his service animal. He was rocking, and rocking and saying his colors. And I heard the start of his story, as he said, “Hello, my name is Phillip.” I began to write.

Over the next year, I wrote about 15,000 words. A friend then encouraged me with the writing, so with lockdown, I began to get up at 5 am to write daily.

The thirty-chapter story flowed forth over the next nearly three months as this child described his world.
As I wrote, I realized the story went deep. It accessed deep healing in my own heart as character after character emerged in the story.

Sometimes, as I wrote, I wept. Other times, I laughed out loud, almost forgetting I had written what made me laugh. Still others, knowing what was yet to happen, I didn't want to write for I feared "writing about that!"

I want you to know, part of the little boy you'll meet in this book is me emerging from the dark closets of my own past finally finding his voice. And part of the little boy is the other “Phillip,” I first met in Karen. Both of these internal kids, alongside of the story which seemed to write itself about a child who is not either of us, but rather, himself.

Jesus figured into this story, for both my wife and I have experienced His immense mercy, power and grace in our own healings and so, it made sense when suddenly, He quietly, powerfully entered Phillip’s story. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah surprised me as He ushered in powerful forgiveness.

I know there are children out there growing up in tough environments who need to know there is hope. To them I say. “The scary adults around you are not the only adults out there. There are people, real people, who will see you for the wonderful human beings you are and will love you. May Phillip’s story bring you hope, for in Jesus there is always hope.”

And Phillip—I’m grateful to have known and loved you, and to know you still. You have changed my life for the better.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

9 Tips for How to Find Motivation

Tuesday, November 1, 2022 @ 1:06 PM

While it can be difficult to get moving and start making tangible changes when you have no motivation, there’s a lot you can do to get going again.

Here are nine tips for how to be motivated:

1. Create a Routine
By breaking down your day and creating expectations for each day, you are training your body and mind to naturally fall into these behaviors—even if they are incremental.

2. Take Care of Yourself Physically
Good self-care includes proper hygiene, sleep, and nutrition. If it’s been awhile, you might want to schedule a visit with your doctor and get their personalized advice on the best ways to take care of your body.

3. Work Out
When you engage in exercise and other things that make you proud of yourself, your brain produces dopamine. This can make you feel happy, rewarded, and motivated.9

4. Break Large Goals Down Into Smaller Tasks
You may not feel as overwhelmed about completing each small task, and that will help you to change your perspective regarding the goal itself—while before it may have seemed insurmountable, you now have a game plan that you can follow.

5. Reward Yourself for Completing Tasks
Rewarding yourself works because you’re promoting dopamine output as well as motivating yourself to keep going. This could be anything from a nice coffee to a bubble bath to a kind word to yourself, or even a vacation after completing a larger goal.

6. Do Things You Used to Enjoy
For example, reading a fictional book, playing a game, sitting outside, and drawing are all great places to start. Even if you aren’t sure you still enjoy the activity, give it a try and see how you feel afterward.

7. Reach Out to Your Support System
Sometimes, a coffee date, phone call, or FaceTime interaction can help to increase motivation by getting a reminder from people who love you that you’re doing a good job.

8. Practice Gratitude & Mindfulness Skills
Both gratitude and mindfulness have been proven to deepen your appreciation for life and the simple things. They also help to increase your attention to the present and the control you do have.

9. Consider Going to Therapy
If you’ve tried several strategies to dispel your lack of motivation but you’re still struggling, it may be time to consider therapy. Even if you’re not sure what you would talk about in therapy, the therapist could ask the right questions to help you pinpoint the potential reasons for your lack of motivation and help you brainstorm solutions.

What is domestic violence and what can you do about it?

Tuesday, November 1, 2022 @ 1:02 PM

Domestic violence, also referred to as domestic abuse or intimate partner violence, is a global problem that affects both women and men.

Are you concerned that someone dear to you is living in an abusive home or is in an abusive relationship?

Consult for individual growth and development, marriage strengthening and family unity.

What Is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence involves intimidation, threats, and using force to control a family member or partner.

Abusive behaviour includes all physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual actions that a person does or threatens to do against another. Perpetrators can attack another person by surprise or even while the other is sleeping.

A person does not need to be a blood relative to be considered a victim of domestic violence. Even violence among people who are dating or in a relationship is considered domestic abuse.

How to Help People Experiencing Domestic Abuse
If you are wondering if someone you know is in an abusive relationship or is experiencing domestic violence, do the following:

Check the following warning signs:
They make excuses for their physical injuries. They may wear long-sleeved clothes even during warm weather to hide bruises.
They are overly fearful about not pleasing their partner or family member.
They excuse themselves from school, work, or social gatherings without reason.
Their personalities suddenly shift. For instance, a confident person suddenly loses self-esteem.
They usually do not have money on hand.
Gather as much information as possible about domestic abuse.
Research about domestic violence and the available programs and services in your area, where you can refer your loved one for support and protection.

Listen without judgment.
If you suspect your friend or loved one is in an abusive relationship, do not force them to open up about the issue. Instead, wait for them to come and confide with you.

Avoid criticising these individuals for what they are experiencing, or do not downplay their fear of potential danger.

Their abuser may have repeatedly told their friends or loved ones that they are dumb, worthless, or defective. Remind your relative or friend of their strengths and skills.

Encourage your friend to get assistance.
Privately share the details you have gathered from support institutions and local community programs when your loved one or friend finally asks you for advice.

Develop a safety plan with your friend.
Help your relative or friend face the reality that they may endanger themselves and their children by choosing to stay with their abuser.

Talk to domestic violence program staff or legal professionals when thinking of a plan to suggest to your loved ones to help protect them and their children ahead of the abuser’s next “attack.”

Advise your loved one to contact the local domestic violence hotline or domestic violence shelter when they decide to leave their home. It is best to place the call when the abuser is not at home or from a safe location.

Suggest that your relative or friend list down names and contact numbers of people they can contact in an emergency. Your loved one should know exactly where to go and how to get there when they need to escape.

Also, recommend that your loved ones pack an emergency bag with their clothing, personal documents, personal items, and money.

Signs That a Family Member Is Abusive
In an abusive relationship, you are likely to fear the perpetrator or abuser due to the following tactics:

Psychological abuse:

Abusers embarrass you in front of other people.
They belittle or put down your accomplishments.
They make you feel incapable of making decisions.
They use threats or intimidation to gain compliance.
Abusers blame you for how they act or feel.
After a fight, they bar you from leaving the house or leaving you somewhere to “teach you a lesson.”
They accuse you of having an affair.
Physical and sexual abuse:

Abusers pressure you into sexual activity.
They physically mistreat you through hitting, pinching, and other physically hurtful actions, including throwing things at you.
They may check on you (through calls or physical appearance) to ensure your location is where you said you would be.
Financial abuse:

They steal your money or keep your cash and credit cards away from you.
They do not give money for your basic needs. If they put you on an allowance, you need to account for every cent you spend.
Social abuse:

Abusers stop you from spending time with family members or friends.
They threaten to hurt or kill you or someone close to you.
Abusive people usually go through a cycle of threatening violence, committing the action, apologising with a promise to change, and making violent threats again.

Factors Behind Abusive Behaviour
Individuals learn abusive behaviour. People who grew up in families where someone was abusive can exhibit the same behaviour in their adulthood.

Perpetrators of abuse also act the way they do due to the following beliefs:

They believe in their right to behave in whatever way they like while at home.
They believe that anger and violence are necessary to keep things in order within the family.
They believe that “real men” should be tough and in control of decision-making, such as household spending.
They blame you, alcohol, or stress for provoking them to anger or violence.
They believe in their entitlement to sex from their partner.
Effects of Domestic Violence in the Home
Children are most affected when they live in a home where domestic violence happens. Some of these emotional and social effects include:

A higher risk of depression, severe anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder in which children are prone to experience nightmares, sleeping, difficulties, and self-enactment of abuse incidents
Learning difficulties (including poor concentration)
Limited social skills
Displays of aggressive, risky, or delinquent behaviour
Moreover, children witnessing abuse can affect their physical health as the stress can cause headaches and stomach pains. Parenting plays an important role in both the mental and physical wellbeing of a child. It’s a must to know the fundamentals to provide safe space for children. Visit Motherhood Community for parenting advice.

Violent homes also make children vulnerable to peer pressure, unsafe sexual behaviour, and drug misuse as they seek an outlet to escape their stressful environments.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

What are some benefits of seeing a counselor?

Tuesday, September 20, 2022 @ 12:38 PM

What happens during an Assessment Session.

An empathetic ear…
Reaching out to a counselor can be a very scary thing for most of us. I mean, “I’m going to unload all of my troubles and fears to this complete stranger?!!” It can feel very overwhelming.

The reality is, we don’t know, what we don’t know. Removing some of that mystery may make things easier for the client. (I, personally use the term client, because the image of a patient is not very empowering.) Therefore, I want to walk you through an Intake Session.

Remember that every counselor is going to have their own methods, this is simply what I do.

After you first reach out to me expressing an interest in having a first session, I reply with the following 2 assignments for you to do:

Before we meet, I would like you to do these two assignments and send them to me. You can keep them very simple if you like:

First; I would like you to draw up a baseball diamond and name the most pressing presenting problem(s) in your life at home plate (at the bottom of the page). As you move to the pitcher’s mound (Center), name other problems that are also serious, but not as urgent. As you move along the bases (Counter-clockwise at 3, 12 and 9), name other issues in your life that you want to work on. Finally, in the outfield (at the very top), name other issues that are not as pressing~ more like they’re on the “back-burner” that you would like to address someday in the future. If baseball is a foreign concept, then just make a list and that’ll be fine.

Second; Write down 10 goals~ what you want to achieve in your life between now and when you turn 75. Begin each one of them with: I want to … Do your best, but don’t worry if you don’t have 10 at this time. Send the assignments to me before the session. Thank you.

The first exercise examines the past and the second one examines the future. We will also look at issues of “self-care” during the first session. Change is painful~ but it is necessary to go through the pain of change.

So we begin our first session. I tend to prefer meeting via Skype video. I explain that everything discussed is covered by Canadian Confidentiality Laws. We also discuss fees and how we deal with sudden cancelations, etc.

So we begin with either questions they may have, or the two assignments, or their own story beginning in childhood, growing up. That is up to the client to decide. In the beginning, I’m mostly listening, posing the odd question for clarification. I explain that I am here to assess, and not to judge. My focus as an inter-faith pastoral counselor is on both mystery and grace. The pastoral side looks at the power of stories in religious or secular literature that touch us, that we resonate with.

After 30 minutes, I inform them that their free block of time has run out. They may elect to continue, and we turn on the “meter” or they may elect to end the session. If they end it, I try and ascertain if they might want to set up an appointment another time, or not. If not, that is fine. I only ask that if they found the session helpful, that they might refer me to others. If they do wish to have a session in the near future, then let me know when would be best. (It does not need to be written down in stone at this time.)

Finally, how I and a few other fellow counselors are different than more traditional therapists.

First, I am very eclectic in my approach and methodology.

Second, When possible, I let the client decide how long the session will be. Typically it will end at a half-hour mark, but they decide when they are finished. It’s not always ideal, but we do what we can. (I have had very long sessions with certain clients…they have found it to be beneficial.)

Third, like many therapists, I offer a “sliding scale”. If a person cannot afford to pay the full fee, we will come to an agreement on a lower fee. I do not do “free therapy”, I think that is most unhelpful. A client needs to feel that s/he is giving and receiving something from the work they are doing.

Counseling is hard work. There is much pain. Journeying together is a healing art. I hope that you have found this to be helpful in taking the first step in getting in touch. Remember, there is hope!


by Yvon Malenfant | Medium

Monday, September 19, 2022

“I” Versus “We” In A Healthy Relationship

Monday, September 19, 2022 @ 6:31 PM

Most people have a pretty well-developed sense of self before they enter a romantic relationship. Christians in particular have a strong sense of identity based upon the foundation of their faith. This is valuable in entering a relationship because a strong sense of identity and a balanced ego are fundamental to personal mental health and well-being. Bu then, after you enter a relationship, another process begins: your sense of self evolves, whether you often stop to reflect on the change or not.

After a divorce or the death of a partner, people are often struck by the effect of the loss on their personal identity. This often happens because people had not realized just how much their sense of self had evolved. For example, therapists illustrate the point by asking someone to imagine their identity before entering a romantic relationship as a circle — and their partner’s identity as a similar, separate circle. As their relationship develops, the circles begin to overlap one another. This is the development of a sense of identity as a couple. After a divorce or death of a partner, the now lone partner is often struck by another loss: the loss of their identity as a couple.

How much the circles should overlap, so to speak, is a matter that deserves reflection. If you think of the extremes, it’s fair to say that two people in a healthy relationship should not retain two completely separate individual identities without creating a shared identity as a couple. Likewise, it’s fair to say that people should not completely lose their identities as individuals.

Which brings up a vital, related question: What’s a healthy balance between independence and interdependence in a relationship? Completely retaining your independence has its drawbacks. That’s especially true if the partners are out of sync — if one person is overly dependent while the other is overly independent. On the flip side, interdependence is sometimes negatively but unfairly described as “co-dependence,” which as a concept is almost intuitively negative.

To understand the balance, it might help to start by considering what a healthy balance of dependency and independence might look like. Healthy dependency in a relation means sharing with your partner your most private sorrows, doubts and fears — and depending on them to respect your feelings. And that just might require more courage than many people might imagine. Obviously, it’s a tough balancing act. But if you reflect long on hard on your own sense of self in a relationship, and invite your partner in on your reflections, you may be delighted with the reward.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

The Brain and the Bible: Requirements for Recovery

Thursday, August 25, 2022 @ 1:58 PM

Dr. Dave Stephens

All of us know our brain controls our body and itself, but we don't often think about what that really means. In short, if our brain is not functioning as it should our bodies, our emotions, our thinking, our behaviors, and even our relationships with God and others will be challenged or compromised.

In much the same way, we all know that the Bible is the guide for our lives but we don't always know what that means or how it looks in everyday living. It was much simpler in the Old Testament. Jews knew that the law as given to Moses provided detailed instructions about much of everyday life. As time went on rabbis and Jewish leaders kept expanding the law and soon microscopic details like how many steps you could take on the Sabbath were prescribed for you. Jesus came to fulfill the law, but he did not provide detailed instructions on how to live your life.

The best treatment for life problems and training on how to love God and others well does not come from either psychological theories or Biblical platitudes. Contrary to popular belief, psychology does not address brain functioning in any meaningful way, and brain functioning must be addressed if life problems are to be resolved. If we were to put it in computer terms, brain functioning is the hardware and psychological theories are one type of software. The hardware must be functional if any of the software is going to run effectively and be helpful.

A recovered, fully functioning brain results in emotional stability, reduction or elimination of problem behaviors of all kinds, and the ability to know you are loved fully and to fully love others. The hardware problems of compromised brain functioning come from a variety of life events, including the head injuries or trauma many have experienced. Despite developing hardware problems in the form of a less than fully functioning brain, full brain functionioning can be restored. Once this occurs and the hardware problems have been eliminated the software can run as it should.

To continue the computer analogy, the Bible is the hardware and how we apply it to any given situation is the software. Learning to manage life problems, being able to demonstrate and express God's love and image to others, and living in the security of being fully loved come from counseling conversations that are guided by the Biblical hardware. We don't have to specifically reference the hardware in every conversation, but we do need to do make sure our software conversations and actions are incorporating the principles of the hardware.

By combining restored brain hardware and accurate Bible hardware, and creating software applications that come from each of these hardware sources, you can achieve the fulfilling life God created for you.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Enjoying the Journey

Tuesday, August 16, 2022 @ 1:25 PM

Enjoying the Journey
Is life living you or are you living life?
So often we get caught up in the daily grind and forget to slow down…look around and realize all that we have in this life…
Take a minute today and enjoy the beauty of the sunrise or the glorious stars that blanket our night sky…
Hug your family…laugh with them…call your sister, mother, brother…
Tell your friend how much you appreciate them…
Seek those things that feed your soul…
Especially your relationship with the Creator of all...
Just do something…
If you feel like you’ve lost your way…seek out a good counselor to help you get back to the life you desire…
And remember…I’m here to help if you’re nearby…
Wishing you a glorious life…
Tamra 💜💙💛💚

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Are You Trapped in Your Own Story?

Saturday, August 13, 2022 @ 10:19 AM

The stories you tell yourself abut what needs to change and why, can make all the difference. Because HOW you think about your life, shapes your life. So, to get familiar with HOW you think, here's two questions to ask yourself:

1. Can I switch from having an issue with my circumstance to having an issue with what I believe about my circumstance? Thoughts like, "This will never change." "I can't do this." "He/she should be better than this." limit your ability to move forward. To get unstuck, you need to start recognizing the thoughts that are keeping you here.

2. What if I were interpreting this from a perspective of strength, instead of weakness; how might that feel different? If you believed your life is unfolding from God’s desire to bless you, what would you make this circumstance mean? Anxiety produces tunnel vision and you miss other (better) options that are available.

You can change your story! But first, you need to change yourself. Sound impossible? Nothing is impossible with God!

Wednesday, July 27, 2022


Wednesday, July 27, 2022 @ 8:34 PM

“Everything you say and do, AND everything you don’t say or do, is communication.”
(Clifton Fuller)

Today, let’s talk about Learning to Communicate in the language your partner speaks.

But first, let's look at the wrong kind of candy...

When I was in grad school, my wife and I worked long hours to make ends meet financially. During that time, we decided that, for our family, which included two young sons, my wife would be a stay-at-home-mom rather than work outside the home (she is an educator). This would allow her to be with and teach our two children while they were young. Any income she brought would come from the home, as I was working full-time and attending grad school full-time. It was a busy time for all of us.

Because we only had one car, I did the weekly grocery shopping on my way home from work, based on a list we would compile during the week. This was decades before mobile phones, so I’d clutch my paper shopping list, rapidly work my way through the grocery store, then come home to enlist the kids’ help carrying in the shopping bags.

I grew up poor in the 1950s. For me, candy was a fairly rare luxury, even the crummy stuff. Time and money were tight in grad school, but my wife has always been happy with simple expressions of love. A flower was picked for her along a walk, discovering a heart-shaped rock and special hand-made notes from the boys. She also loves chocolate. So, I would pick up a candy bar for her every once in a while. It wasn’t one of those cheap kinds, no way! I’d buy her one of the GOOD ones. The big name, high-roller confections, a King-Sized bar, caramel, nougat, topped with peanuts, chocolate, THE WORKS. I’d go all out; I knew that she knew how proud I was to be able to do that; childhood poverty has a way of making even small gestures carry fairly major emotional rewards. I also knew she’d love the thought that I had been thinking about her while in that store.

One evening, while the kids attempted to load each other with grocery bags like competitive sherpas, I started putting the groceries away with my wife, and that big king-sized candy bar was in my grocery bag. I proudly showed it to her, she smiled, and I asked her where to hide the candy bar from our young, rowdy sons. She quickly told me there was a little box on our kitchen's top shelf of an antique built-in wall-hutch. That out-of-the-way hutch was where she stashed sweets away from our freakishly tall kids. I opened the top cabinet door, and a bunch of candy bars tumbled out, much to my surprise.

I asked, “What are all these candy bars doing here? Why are you stockpiling the candy bars?”

My wife responded, “I just didn’t want the kids to have candy too often.”

“Honey,” I replied, “I haven’t been buying these for the kids; I’m buying them for YOU.”

“But I don’t like peanuts in my candy.”

Can you imagine my shock? And honestly,…a little hurt, as well. I had made this incredibly sweet gesture, had built a habit of a performative, concrete action that showed that I cared about the woman, this soulmate I had found by the grace of God, the love of my life and mother to my children. As I gathered up the candy bars, it suddenly hit me that I’d never thought to ask HER what kind of candy SHE liked! I had bought the kind of candy bar I thought she’d like…the kind of candy bar I liked.

All my effort into months of affectionate action wasn’t wasted; my wife thought it was still very caring and loving. She understood me and knew how important it was for me to perform the gesture. She thought it was directed at the children (who, disclaimer, I also love) instead of her. I was being a sweet and caring father when I was trying to be a sweet and caring husband. Fortunately, it was an easy fix; the kids quickly volunteered to help us get rid of the stuff topped with peanuts. From that time on, I started buying the kind of candy she loved. And we never told the kids where the candy bars were hidden:)

I’m a big believer in learning from my mistakes, and there was certainly a lesson here.

We do not naturally communicate what we want, what makes us feel cared about, and what we need; we’re often caught up in the fear that our partner will see us as too needy, too weak, or too picky. That’s a LIE.

We also don’t ask! Sometimes we don’t know things because we don’t think to ask.

When we commit to a relationship, we need to commit. Something as simple as making a list, and being honest, without fearing ridicule, is one of the simplest things we can do.

My youngest son, who helps type these articles for me and is objectively the better-looking of my children (editor’s note; Don’t push it, Jonathan:) said that on his first date with the woman who would become his wife, she approached dinner like a contract situation; as soon as the sushi arrived, she asked him, straight-faced, “Where do you see this date going? What is it that you’re hoping to achieve?” It caught him off-guard but also intrigued him that this woman was so forthright and open to genuine discussion of who they were and their expectations without any facades. They’ve been married for over a decade now. They’re still nuts about each other and know each other well. They are committed to the person they knew before marriage, as there were no artifices from day one. Whether they agree or disagree with each other’s views, they try to work things out as they care more about their partner than personal or others' views. They know each other well.

Give it a try! No matter how goofy you feel, get together, sit down, and make a list for each other. Start with “I FEEL CARED ABOUT WHEN…” and

Write down the things that make your heart flutter.

This part is essential: make sure that the things you write down are positive (no room for ‘dirty positives’ here…as those are like paper slices that wound). Be specific and list small things. We want actions and gestures that are simple enough to be performed daily, not financially burdensome or intensely time-consuming, and can be built into positive habits.

Make sure that the action is NOT the subject of a recent conflict; if there was a spat about something in the past couple of weeks, don’t include it on the list, no matter how good it would feel to push that button.

Good examples are actions such as “kiss me goodnight,” or “keep a can of soda in the fridge for me,” instead of dead-in-the-water entries like “buy me a new car,” “solve the conflict in the Middle East,” or “convince our more aesthetically pleasing son not to get a degree in theatre.” (another Jon comment:) The first two hit all our criteria; the last three are functionally impossible.

Now… list a bunch of items! Like… fifteen. Twenty, if you feel like you want to wow your partner.

The goal is to give your partner a list with many options, enough that they can do multiple actions a day, not necessarily every one of them. You can also choose different daily items to create variety to show caring acts of love toward your partner.

Do the same for your partner, as this is a two-way street. Make sure you both make lists. If you both followed the criteria, you’ll be AMAZED at how easy it is to do and how much it means to your partner... and you! And to top it off, if it’s positive and focused on making your partner happy, it can also be a lot of fun for both of you!

Add to the list as your relationship deepens and you realize that the #1 person in the world is your partner. It’s renewing to a relationship if you both seek simple ways to show and reinforce your love for each other in the ways the other understands is totally for them.

Carry the list with you. Do the little things as part of your life… not as big grand gestures, but as simple acts of love toward them.

Make sure you’re giving your loved ones the right kind of candy.

P.S. This also works with others, including children. Listen to what they are trying to tell you about themselves.


Wednesday, July 27, 2022 @ 7:57 PM

Even though it may be a rough time for many folks, we all need to experience humor. Not just laughter, either… we need laughter for physical and mental health.

I want to share how important it is to learn how to laugh… at ourselves.

That’s a LOT harder than it sounds. It requires a tremendous amount of confidence, a huge brain, and a powerful sense of belief in our sense of self. It takes bravery, honesty, and, most critically, patience. For some, it may be a lot of work, but it is worth every second of it. Pulling it off allows us to find a sense of joy even in our darkest times. It will enable us to hang on and even pull ourselves back up… because it’s FUN.

It’s really easy these days to forget how to laugh at ourselves or things. Political strife, war, the pandemic… it is a time of chaos and conflict, and if we are ever going to regain and rebuild a sense of peace, we will need to learn how to take ourselves much less seriously. We need to remember that not every single thing is always a matter of life-and-death, of absolutely critical importance, or seriousness. We must give ourselves permission to enjoy our lives. We admire people who are in difficult times yet can always seem to find something positive or funny they can laugh or comment about.

We’ve got first to change how we see ourselves.

Start here… what is it that you find funny? When was the last time you laughed, full and loud, and felt joy rising within you without restraint or inhibition? Seriously, try and remember, write it down. We may have to become introspective for a while because everybody’s sense of humor is different, so different approaches may be necessary. Humor changes and evolves with time, which is why we get confused by what “the kids” are into these days. It’s also why we tolerate and repeatedly laugh each time a 4-year-old tells us another joke (or the same joke) about why the chicken crossed the road. That’s ok… we need to know what we find funny to determine the style.

There are generally four “styles” of humor that we’ll get into in a bit, based not on what we find funny but on how we use the feeling of “funny” to change our emotions. Our brains are complicated, and we unconsciously seek humor to help ourselves process the emotions that come from stress. It’s why, when we’ve come through a particularly rough patch, we eventually hear something that cracks us up. We laugh, not because we want to, but because psychologically, we NEED to.

Humor works because there is an expectation, and then something that subverts that expectation. For instance, a knock-knock joke is often funny because I have absolutely no intention of opening the door. There are bears outside. One of my favorite comedians, Steve Martin, said that he would sometimes set up a joke that had no punch line; he would continually increase the tension of the story with tangents and irrelevant details, delaying the set-up and the expectation of an expectation for so long, that eventually someone would laugh because of the innate absurdity of the “joke.”

Once you know what you find funny, could you look at it? Strip it down to the barest parts, and examine it intellectually. Compare it to the ‘Four Styles of Humor’; Affiliative, Aggressive, Self-Defeating, and Self-Enhancing. When we do that, we can figure out what motivates our humor and then use THAT knowledge to find it intentionally. We can teach ourselves to get the joke!

Let’s break down the Four Styles. Keep in mind that our personal senses of humor are often a mix of two or three of the styles:

Affiliative Humor is the kind of fun that we use to fit ourselves in with a group of other people. Inside jokes are the kind that develops organically within the family, friend group, or workplace, for instance. I have a partner in my therapy practice that I have been messing with for decades, constantly attempting to get him to laugh. He’s a tough nut to crack, very stone-faced, sooooo professional, but he gives as good as he gets. We’ve pranked each other through the mail, through gifts left in each other’s offices, we traded a whale sculpted from lard back and forth for a few years… Affiliative humor can get REALLY weird on a long enough timeline. Another example from my family is the ritual of giving a can of soup as a gift for Christmas. It’s heart-warming and affirming because it relies on a previously set expectation; it cements acceptance as a part of that social unit and tends to build a sense of camaraderie and unity.

Aggressive Humor is the spiciest of humor. Aggressive humor points out subversion of expectation through mockery, either of an event or a person involved. Think about most late-night shows and an AWFUL lot of stand-up sets. Usually, someone else is the butt of the joke. This type of humor is tricky, and we need to be careful how we use it; there is a psychological rush in landing a good quip at someone’s expense because it alters the power dynamics of that situation, and not always in a positive way. Terry Pratchett, an excellent author, said, “Satire is meant to ridicule power. If you’re laughing at people who are hurting, it’s not satire, it’s bullying.” (Read about bullying here). We must make sure that our use of the aggressive style doesn’t get away from us… use it to equalize power, not affirm it.

Self-Defeating Humor is a bit harshly named, but I didn’t name ‘em, so here we are. This kind of humor is the self-deprecating joking that takes one’s own position in the power dynamic and subverts it. My kids are both voracious readers, and for many years, they have joked with each other by giving book recommendations for the weirdest stuff, trying to “out read” the other, not to prove that they’re the wiser brother, but to prove that they’re not. This is another style that can be tricky; it requires the person to use humor to know that it’s not true and not dig too deep into their insecurities to get the laugh. Some things are joking matters, and some are not; it takes a good deal of nuance for someone using Self-defeating humor to know the difference and weigh the value of self- mockery. Groucho Marx was the KING of this style, and his line “I don’t want to belong to any club that would accept me as one of its members” is a beautiful example.

Self-Enhancing Humor is the Holy Grail, the brass ring we’re reaching for. It’s humor that bolsters our sense of self and reassures us that we can handle the stress we experience. We reach pure Self-enhancing style mastery when we can appreciate and find amusement in the subversion of expectations in our lives and laugh at how absurd and silly everything really is. When we don’t take ourselves so seriously, we can let stress and negativity roll off of us because it’s just ridiculous! Every one of us is a complicated and intricate miracle, molded by experiences and perspectives that nobody else can fully comprehend, full of ideas about heritage, culture, faith, and everything that makes us human. Are we worried about a traffic jam? That’s ludicrous. That’s silly. We’re incredible, and if we ease up on ourselves (and others), we can remember that. We can find humor, even in dark times, and find the will and drive to go on, to experience more, and mold ourselves into more peaceful people.

We have to laugh at ourselves sometimes. Just like in the Steve Martin example we mentioned above, as the tensions in our lives continue and increase, it will eventually become a necessity. So, take a look at the things that make you laugh, and, if you can, try and engage in more Self-Enhancing humor rather than poking fun at others. Look at how wonderful and hilarious and incredible you are. Rejoice and enjoy it! Revel in it! Laugh at yourself, and you’ll never miss the punch line.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

10 Tips For Prioritizing Your Mental Health

Wednesday, July 6, 2022 @ 8:50 PM

During the Covid-19 pandemic, as lockdowns were enforced globally, we saw one of the greatest mental health crises in history.

What caused this? the vast majority of society was forced to isolate, change daily habits and many people lost their jobs. With these sudden and significant changes, general society struggled to understand or appreciate the connection between these changes and how they impacted this thing called our 'mental health'.

Up until relatively recently general acceptance or recognition of one’s mental health was limited and often misunderstood. The phrase 'Mental Health', historically, was very rarely used and synonymized with extreme psychiatric cases like schizophrenia or PTSD.

So as you further learn to understand what mental health is, what are some of the ways that we can prioritize our mental health to ensure that our emotional/psychological state is healthy?

This article looks to provide practical tips that you can use to prioritize your mental health.

Tip 1: Awareness and appreciation of your mental health.

Until relatively recently, the concept of one’s mental health was not widely understood or appreciated. Many of us have exerted incredible stress and strain on ourselves psychologically (Whether we have done this knowingly or unknowingly), and when the negative affects of that strain start to appear, we don’t understand how to resolve or appreciate the connection between what is causing the negative affects.

"Recognition is half the battle"

For us to prioritize our mental health, we must first recognize that we have a “mental health” and that it is highly impacted by how we live our lives. Our mental health can be impacted by many things, below is a list of some of examples:
- how and what we think, especially what we think about ourselves.
- how we spend our time: Are you working excessively
- the amount of conflict in our life
- the stress we apply to ourselves (even physically)

Tip 2: Set and enforce boundaries

One of the number one causes of poor mental health is a lack of boundaries.

Here are some examples of where someone may lack boundaries (Potential justification in brackets):
- You work well into the evening after your official ‘work-day’ is over (“I want to be seen as a good employee”)
- You let anyone call you at anytime. (“I want people to know that they are important to me”)
- You let people take advantage of you(“I don’t want to have conflict”)

Establishing boundaries allows you to set expectations with yourself and those around you on what is OK and what is not OK for you and your mental health.

This can be incredibly difficult to do. You may worry how those around you will interpret these boundaries. Boundaries may also limit your ability to get as much done as before which in the case of work may have a monetary impact.

Does setting boundaries have consequences? Yes. Like all decisions, every decision made has positive and negative outcomes. So our recommendation is to define and understand your current boundaries and consider whether ‘stricter’ boundaries in certain areas have benefits that outweigh the negatives.

As you read the remaining tips of this article, consider how boundaries can be utilized or adjusted to prioritize your mental health.

Tip 3: Tap into things that bring you joy

As we get older and the responsibilities of life build up, it can be easy to forget to find things that bring you joy and happiness.

Joy and happiness are critical to having a a healthy and happy life.

Whether thats completing activities or simply being with close friends or family, tapping into things that bring you joy is an incredibly powerful way to prioritize your mental health.

Practically speaking when you are joy-filled, you have reduced stress and increased general happiness, anxiety affects you less and you are less likely to be depressed.

Operating out of a state of joy and happiness also has a large impact on the neurological state of your brain: Less stress reduces your cortisol levels (stress hormone) and can increases the levels of serotonin and dopamine which can have compounding benefits on the rest of your body.

Tip 4: Play

Play, as defined by Brené brown, is doing something enjoyable for no other reason than it’s enjoyable. Play is activity that is in direct contrast to what we would define as strenuous or work related activities. Some examples of play could be playing a game, sports and dancing.

Play has huge positive mental health benefits. Play can help your body and mind rest and relax from strenuous work activities that you may have recently experienced.

Similar to tip 3, playing helps to re-adjust the hormones in your brain and your general neurological/psyhcological state. This supports your body in relaxing which makes it easier to enter into a parasympathetic state. In this state our body and mind are able to heal faster from where any strain/stress damage may have occurred.

Completing ‘play’ activities with others is also a great way to connect with others and support your relational desires, increasing your sense of connectedness (which is a great segway into tip #5)

Tip 5: Connect with others

Humans are relational beings. We crave, desire and ultimately require connection with other beings.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, as lockdowns were enforced globally, we saw one of the greatest mental health crises in history. One of the major contributors to this was the sudden and extreme disconnection that was felt by many.

Studies have shown that, in children, neglect (lack of connection or attention) by parents and family can have equal levels of trauma to that of physical or sexual assault. Connection is paramount to our mental health.

“But I’m an introvert and find my alone time restorative and regenerative”.

As you will hear in tip 7, alone time is equally important for your mental health and we recognize that there are individuals who find social environments exhausting and taxing. You may be a naturally introverted person who finds alone time recharging, but ultimately it's a human need and desire to have some level of connection with other beings though maybe in less quantities than others.

Not all connection is healthy:
You may reflect on recent social interaction and recall that you left feeling anxious, depressed or insecure which are all signs of decreased mental health. The reality is, many relationships can be toxic and not supportive of you as a person. In this case, by spending time and connecting in these relationships, you are actually not prioritizing your mental health.

In these circumstances you may need to exercise boundaries (refer to tip 2) to protect your mental health. That may look like one of the following:
- Limiting the frequency you connect with an individual.
- Limiting the conversation topics discussed with that individual to ‘safe’ topics.
- all-together ending the relationship for the sake of your health and psychological state.

Healthy connection is paramount to a positive mental state. If you are struggling with this over an extended period of time, we recommend you connect with a counsellor to discuss why this may be.

Tip 6: Get outside into fresh air and nature

Getting outside can have a wonderfully positive impact on your mental health. Fresh air and being in nature can reduce levels of stress and anxiety. Getting outside can remove distractions like work and household chores that may be plaguing your mind and causing stress.

‘Fresh air naturally has higher levels of oxygen than that of our homes and offices. Higher oxygen levels support better respiration and breathing which ultimately has a huge impact on overall brain functioning.

Being outside can also be a great place to connect with other people (as discussed in tip 5) and, conversely, can be a great place to get away from people to spend time with yourself (as discussed in tip 7).

Tip 7: Spend time with yourself alone

Spending time with yourself is a powerful way to positively improve your mental health.

Space to be by ourselves allows us to prioritize what we want or need for us during that time. We may need to relax after a stressful period; We may need to recover from a busy socially filled week. Whatever the reason, time by yourself allows you to focus on your needs without having to worry about anyone else’s concerns or considerations. This ties in huge to our next tip.

Tip 8: Remove distractions, give yourself time to think and reflect

When we remove all distractions (other people, social media, tv, etc) this can be a great time to process our thoughts and emotions of the day/week/month and understand how we are doing: physically, psychologically, spritually, etc. This is a powerful way of prioritizing our mental health.

“I distract myself so that I don’t feel the pain”

For many of us, we don’t want to remove the distractions. Sometimes, we actually look for distractions. For many of us, we may have been struggling with negative mental health symptoms (anxiety, depression, insecurity) for decades but use distractions to avoid these feelings. If this is you, we recommend for the sake of your mental health, and the enjoyment of your future, that you find ways to work through any psychological pain you may be feeling. A very practical way to do this is to connect with a counsellor to discuss the pain that you feel when you remove the distractions.

Tip 9: Limit multi-tasking

For those of us who get a great sense of achievement and identity from getting lots done, multi-tasking can be an attractive way to try and achieve more! Alternatively, you may feel so overwhelmed with everything on the go that musti-tasking is a requirement.

Whatever is the justification, multi-tasking is very taxing on the brain and actually results in less effective decision making and thinking which can ultimately reduce productivity and the quality of your work.

Practically speaking, your brain cannot process multiple items at the same time. What your brain is doing is processing intermittently between the different tasks.

When you exert this type of strain on your brain for long periods of time, your brain will need time to recover. If you don’t give your brain time to recover, your mental health may suffer and you may start to exhibit signs of poor mental health: Foggy thinking, anxiety, struggling to sleep, etc.

Tip 10: Eat good food

Eating well can have a large impact on your mental health. A rounded diet provides the necessary calories, minerals and vitamins your body and brain needs to function properly. When your body and brain is healthy, it is much easier to have a healthier emotional state.

Conversely, eating poorly can have a lot of mental health implications:
high sugar intake can lead to blood sugar highs and lows which can have significant impacts on your mood.
A lack of vitamins or nutrients can limit the brain’s ability to produce necessary hormones.
Eating highly processed foods can leave you feeling bloated and fatigued.

Additionally, there can be great joy and happiness found in the process of making and eating great food. Making food can be a great way of giving yourself space and time to think about your day. Eating food with friends and family can be a wonderful time of connection.
Counselling Calgary: 10 tips for prioritizing your mental health

Summary: Do you need extra support?

Prioritizing your mental health is paramount to living a joyful, happy life. If you are struggling in your mental health journey or having difficulty applying some of the above tips, our counsellors at Master’s can support you in your journey towards positive mental health.