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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Sexual Violence Awareness Month Workshop

Tuesday, April 16, 2019 @ 6:20 PM

Alpha Counseling

April is Sexual Violence Awareness Month

You are invited to join Alpha Counseling for a discussion regarding taking your first steps to healing from sexual violence. If you or anyone you know has experienced sexual violence, or if you want to take a stand against sexual violence, please attend.

Speakers to include representatives from North Idaho Crisis Center, Post Falls Police Department Victim's Advocate, as well as Dr. Debbie Nunez and John Huffer, LMHC from Alpha Counseling. Participants will be able to write words of inspiration on the healing wall.

There is no charge for the event and it is open to the public.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Freedom In Forgiveness

Saturday, March 30, 2019 @ 7:18 PM

As we near Palm Sunday and Resurrection Sunday, many of us begin to focus more on forgiveness; forgiveness for self and for others. This can oftentimes be a difficult and confusing action to take.

Many people think that when we forgive we are saying that what someone did to us is OK. We believe that forgiveness is a way of letting someone off the hook for a wrongful act. However, let us not confuse forgiveness with permission. When Christ said in John 8:11, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more,” He did not give permission for sin, but forgiveness. He was differentiating between forgiveness and permission.

You see, forgiveness is not for the person who wronged us, it's for ourselves. When we hold on to resentment, bitterness brews within us. Bitterness is a root that grows in our hearts and can negatively affect other areas of our lives. Bitterness takes us down and steals our joy, which can lead to depression and anxiety. Unforgiveness is like carrying around a backpack filled with rotten potatoes, which weighs us down and prevents us from moving on.

Forgiveness does NOT:
...excuse the one who hurt you or did you wrong.
...mean you re-engage in a relationship with the one who hurt you.
...equal trust. Forgiveness is given. Trust is earned.

Forgiveness IS:
...saying goodbye to bitterness and resentment.
...gaining freedom from pain.
...releasing the beauty of peace and happiness.
...letting go in order to move on.

Forgiveness Is Freedom!

Forgiveness is hard, but is it also possible. If you need help forgiving someone, including yourself, I’m here to help. Living with bitterness and shame is not God’s plan for you. Working with a professional therapist can help you process the wrong that was done to you, help you discover the strength to forgive, let go of shame and guilt, and recapture your joy.

Why should you forgive? Because YOU deserve it!

Gretchen is currently accepting new clients and may be contacted by email at or by phone at 619-272-6858 x713

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Powerful Play Parenting Group

Wednesday, February 13, 2019 @ 12:06 PM

Powerful Play Parenting Group will start on Monday, March 18th at 7:00 PM. This group will meet every Monday from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM. For more information on group, please feel free to go to my website where you will find a flyer for the group. Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Broken Fences

Thursday, December 27, 2018 @ 9:06 PM

The Pastor's Place

This scene always reminds me of broken fences and the brokenness of life. We often put up fences to keep people out but in that attempt, we often keep ourselves in. We don't express ourselves in an appropriate moment but let it build up and then take it out on someone who really doesn't deserve it, although they may just trigger it.

Broken fences, broken pieces, broken lives. Jesus fed 5,000 people and it is told that they always had broken pieces left over and they picked them all up. I often wonder what they did with them. But it tells me that even though brokenness is a part of life, Jesus will pick up those broken pieces and do something with them. And you can be sure He does all things well.

The Loneliness of Sin

Thursday, December 27, 2018 @ 8:53 PM

The Pastor's Place

Genesis 4: 3-15

Cain and Abel were the first brothers. Both went to the altar to offer a sacrifice to the Lord. God accepted Abel’s offering, a firstling of his flock. The Bible says God respected Abel and his offering. But Cain did what he shouldn't have done; mainly, he offered something from the ground. God didn't accept the offering or respect Cain. Have you ever wondered why? I believe it was because in just a few short chapters prior to this encounter, God had cursed the ground. Able recognized the significance of giving the first and best. Cain became very angry. Notice that even after The Fall, God still talked with man. He asked Cain why he was so upset. Now, that’s a caring God if you ask me!
God told Cain that sin was waiting at the door and desired to take over in him. Wow! God was trying to teach Cain a lesson but he wasn't listening. He wanted to be resentful, bitter and angry to the point that it led to murder.

Verse 7 shows us that sin will pursue us and run us down if we allow it. We are to conquer the sin in our lives by mastering it. That tells me that sin will keep coming at me until I either give in to it or overcome it.

I often wondered why God asked Cain where his brother, Abel was. Doesn’t God know everything? It reveals that Cain felt no remorse, no guilt for what he’d done by killing Abel. By telling God his punishment was more than he could bear, he shows he wasn’t really convicted about his sin, but only concerned about the consequences of getting caught. It would have told a different story if he had said, “I have sinned against you, God. Please forgive me of this terrible thing I’ve done. Things could have possibly gone much better for Cain.

This passage shows that God still talked with man even after they had sinned and fallen in the Garden. Cain had no sense of guilt because the Law had not yet been given. He had no fear of God. (Romans 5: 12, 13) God still desired to commune with man. It wasn’t until after the Law (the 10 Commandments) was given that sin became evident. God talked with man up until Exodus 20: 18-21 and it was not God’s choice. God NEVER left man. Man chose to leave God.

As a result, Cain was destined to be a vagrant and a wanderer. A vagrant is defined as one who wanders from place to place without a permanent home or livelihood; a person who constitutes a public nuisance. No root, no plans, no future. A fugitive looking for some destination, some quiet haven, a place of safety and satisfaction.

Gen 5: 16 As a result of his conversation with God--and notice, God was trying to help Cain with his anger and sadness, but Cain walked away. He left God’s presence. The loneliest people do not know God’s presence. Those who choose to walk away from God’s help are truly lonely. Separated from God with no hope of their own.

Here are some reasons for Cain’s actions:
1. Unbelief/Disrespect
God had taught Adam and Eve the meaning of a blood sacrifice. They taught it to their children. Cain and Abel both knew the truth. Cain chose to not believe and offer whatever he wanted to offer instead of what God required. In his indifference, he gave an offering of the ground, the ground God had cursed.
2. Hatred
Cain closed the door of communication and killed Abel out of his hatred. He chose not to master his anger and by killing his brother, he let sin master him. It can be so easy to be like Cain.
3. Jealousy
Many of us look at our siblings and feel cheated, rejected, the less favored. This has an effect of children that can last a lifetime. We grow up feeling like everyone else has it better.

The Stages of Sin:

1. Anger. Cain became angry at the rejection of his sacrifice. This led him to start thinking. His countenance fell. He probably felt sorry for himself, too, which fed his anger. Not mastering his anger, he let it lead to murderous proportions and it overcame him. Sin crouched at the door and Cain let it in. Sin will usually crouch or try to hide until you are taken by it. Satan roams the earth looking for someone to devoir.
2. He lied to God
Cain went to talk to his brother, but his true intent was different. Not only did he have unbelief and hatred, but when God asked him “Where’s your brother?” Cain was dishonest and said he didn’t know; he wasn’t his babysitter. Like satan, Cain became a liar and a murderer.
3. He despaired and was lonely. He reacted to feelings. He closed the door on the
Life God wanted for him. (Genesis 4: 13) I believe the anger and the rejection he felt caused Cain to leave the sin unconfessed. Surely he knew God’s grace. Why didn’t he trust God to forgive him? Instead, he blamed God, accusing Him of giving him a sentence greater than the sin.
4. Cain proclaimed his destiny: “I am a wanderer and a fugitive.” Cain became a
farmer. Now he built a city to be rid of loneliness. He introduced manufacturing of tools and weapons of bronze and iron. He introduced human culture and civilization based on human effort. His civilization had broken-down standards. In verses 18 and 19, Cain’s descendant Lamech had two wives. God’s standard is one.
Sin starts with a thought and turns into an action if the thought is entertained.

He settled in a place called Nod, which means wandering. The generational curse of murder began with Cain. In verse 23 Lamech killed two people. Cain built a city, a civilization and a culture without God. He had things and activities but no salvation. Cain was ultimately lonely looking for satisfaction. Sin was at the root of his loneliness. Not all loneliness is from sin. That’s why examining yourself is so important.

Cain built a civilization where people had opportunity and culture, science, even a certain amount of technology, but Cain was still a fugitive and a wanderer because he was unrepentant and without God. Life without God is no life at all here or in eternity. John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life and have it more abundantly.

Job also faced loneliness, but this was a different kind of loneliness. (Job 19: 13-15) God will sometimes isolate you to get you to call out to Him. He will remove every distraction in order to become your best friend and it’s only through this separation that people will see change.

Loneliness is a malnourished soul that results from living on substitutes.

Monday, December 10, 2018

4 Reasons Your Child Misbehaves

Monday, December 10, 2018 @ 2:53 PM

Your child misbehaves severely at their childcare-something is terribly wrong!

Buzz, buzz. You check your phone and realize its happening again. ‘They just called yesterday! Can’t they take care of one 3 year old?’ you think to yourself. But you know, he misbehaves a lot, even for you. Mama Bear is about to take over, but you are still unsure if that is the right tact. You know something isn’t right, and you are ready for it to be fixed-you just don’t know what to do. Swallowing tears of frustration, shame, sorrow, guilt, you wonder if he will be going back tomorrow. Wondering what you are going to do, you square your shoulders, prepare yourself and walk into the building.
What do you do when your child misbehaves?

What could be happening?

1. HALT — Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired

This is an acronym that helps to remind me that we all get cranky when our bodies aren’t working right. Talk to those around your child and find out if there is a pattern. Do they have difficulty right before nap? Mid-morning? Right before pick up? Look at their eating habits. It is important to not jump to the next idea until you have really looked at your child’s pattern. Knowing when and how predictably your child misbehaves will let you explore how changes to the environment could help them behave better.
2. Physical Issues

There is good evidence that some behavior issues can be related to how a child experiences the world. Vision and hearing problems, certain allergies, illness, and sensory processing issues can all cause misbehavior. To learn more about sensory processing issues, check out the checklist on This is a great site to help you understand these issues. If you prefer a book, find the Out of Sync Child by Carol Stock Kranowitz.
3. Conflict Or Change At Home

Your child’s emotional, physical, and psychological world is based on the foundation of your home. If there is a lot of conflict, chaos, and inconsistency, your child will react to that. Can they count on spending connecting time with a parent? Has there been a big change recently? Involved grandparents become ill, parents separate, siblings are born, dogs die. Even good things can disrupt a child’s world such as a new home, new bedroom, and even a new pet.
4. Abuse/Neglect

As parents, we jump to this often and want to switch childcare or school the minute our child begins to act up. Not all childcare/schools are equal and there is clear evidence that predators target young children. However, most of the time the difficulties with your child do not arise from abuse or neglect. Most of the time, your child simply needs different skills than the teacher already knows or the difference between home and childcare confuses your child. Hurt feelings on the part of a child are difficult to handle. Think about workplaces that were not comfortable but didn’t actually break any rules. Be sensitive to your child’s make-up and carefully evaluate how you feel your childcare or school is handling daily activities. A change in teachers or schedules may be difficult for your child.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

What it Takes to Have a Good Relationship

Saturday, September 15, 2018 @ 10:01 AM

In this fast pace digital mindset, many are deluded as to relationships. The need for satisfaction and excitement now as the "I wants" and the run-away impulses seek a quick fix for loneliness and the distorted thought of, "I am worthless if I do not have a babe, partner, date, or mate" prevails. Today one can click on a chat for singles-or click to hook up site; and be in a whirlwind-intimate-experience with a stranger. If cute, or funny, or the right words were said; or the person agreed with some dramatic problem we are stressed over (showing them to me of like-minds) within that chat-then suddenly they are not alone and that rush of adrenalin that is accustomed to via the screens, internet, gaming, and apps; has reinforced the behavior. In these "RELATIONSHIPS" one or both reveal extreme inappropriate and sensitive information to the other; are exposing and allowing themselves to be photographed or touched; may engage in multiple like connections with others with additional quick fixes with all; or suddenly relate to each other as the most wonderful lover and/or mate-with the possessiveness and need to control that a sexual union often provokes as the dynamics of the relationship drastically changes when the vulnerability and intimacy is experienced. One day all is great and the next one or both is smearing the other on social media, blowing up their phones, violating boundaries that were at risk; and threatening violence or suicidal behaviors; with many who are not allowing time and tests to truly know each other, to trust each other, and to be sure the emotions and a healthy dose of discernment are in unity.

Real Relationships Require the Below Levels of friendship with each level taking at least 2-6 months minimum.

1. Acquaintance: Conversations and conduct are appropriate; and no risk to either party. Engaged in public forums (sports, shopping, pool, social media) learning name and general themes, safe information     only. No vulnerability exposed.
2. Familiarity: Conversations and conduct are appropriate; no to low risk; general themes (hobbies, likes/dislikes, music, sports); public meeting. Little vulnerability allowed. May ask for phone number.
3. Friends: People of like interests, trustworthiness of word and deed, kind and compassionate, enjoyment of company, more personal sharing of safe information (family members, pets) and more sensitive information that one would feel safe if exposed-as a test for confidentiality and trust. People are visiting with each other in more private forums and also public-yet are not intimate. They are beginning to see how each reacts to conflicts, sadness, anger, disappointments, the handling of money, if dependable, if responsible for their behaviors and decisions.
4. Best friends: People have shown that they are with higher character of integrity, honesty, dependability, trustworthiness, responsible, are of a good work ethic, are able to discern and advise seeking the wellbeing of each other with the flexibility of allowing the other to be alone to choose their paths. These are mindful of emotional and physical boundaries with empathy. These are not controlling or dependent; and stable emotionally. When with these-one feels safe, secure, and validated-looking forward to each meeting. Conversations are of higher vulnerability and risk to both who are sharing due to the tested trust that is earned. Both see the strengths and weakness of the other yet accepts these. Both seeks growth for each other and gives freely; not seeking their own needs.
5. Only now would two people know each other enough to make a decision as to if they would like to accept the responsibilities that come with an intimate relationship where each is fully vulnerable with the agreement of marriage.

Through this process, a relationship has a foundation on which to stand strongly, and could weather the storms that befall all relationships. Without-the people are two strangers who have no foundation-yet are trying to weather the storms. Time and tests saves one's heart from many hurts.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Trusting Him with Your Children

Friday, August 31, 2018 @ 6:48 PM

For those who have persevered in reading the many articles that I have submitted; it did not take long before you most likely saw how vested that I am in teaching parents how to cultivate life skills, character, and to grow self image. In addition, I pointed out several factors that strongly play against the family (our nucleus which has been eroding at alarming rates). For some, you may be tiring of ongoing exhortation, education, and admonishment as I reach out. Family is a major focus of mine. Children's best gift that any parent can provide is a healthy marriage foremost. With both working as one to nurture and to grow each other and their children; then the family thrives-and times of turmoil are better navigated through. Without that strong relationship and support system then a single parent is less supported and often feels overwhelmed as all of the parenting seems to be on their single pair of shoulders as they juggle providing a livelihood.

I wanted to take a moment to share with you my story of single parenting; and even when attempting to provide my children a step parent- who later seemed to not be on the same page as I was; which basically resulted in me returning more to a single parent role. Complicating this with conflicts between the other biological parent that I had to keep to myself while supporting my children's relationship with their dad-also added more stress. As an overachiever who was most concerned about being the best possible mom and realizing that I had only one chance to do this (since parenting is not a dress rehearsal) then this responsibility was embraced with constant prayers on my lips and the will to sacrifice whatever it took to ensure that these blessings (my children) would know their Lord and would dedicate themselves to Him. Further, these children would grow into wise, loving, mindful young women of success in every possible sense.

When they were helpless, the sleepless nights continued without complaint as I held them and rocked them-singing lullabies...although I was exhausted. That was my job and I loved it. Each developmental stage was an exciting I worked diligently to help them through it. Their success was my desire and the slightest efforts were praised and cheered. I am sure if someone had been watching me with them; they would have chuckled and the delight that it gave me just to see them smile or overcome...It was absolutely the most humbling and wonderful experience a human being could ever experience!! No job had ever been as difficult as it taxed every aspect of my being-yet at the same time-as rewarding. I did not feel as if I was missing out on anything as I remained home for years and often did without yet made sure that my girls received my attention and care. I wish that my job was done when they were approximately 9 or 10 (and that everything that I had taught them and prayed for them or hoped for was realized from there forward) ; and that I could say that they and I had a beautiful, fulfilling, relationship throughout those pre-teens and teen years. Because, I was a great mom until then-but despite my efforts or good will or intentions; I feared letting go and therefore smothered them and over protected them.

For this reason I have spent many articles regarding the need to allow children their choices and be willing to apply the consequences. I wish that I had my degrees and knowledge that I now have when I was rearing them. I wish that I had the faith that God would be with them when I could not be-and that they needed natural consequences that would grow their strength and help them with their discernment. If only I could have known and trusted that my strong willed child needed to learn the hard way and that my more compliant child may had been stuffing her true feelings. I feared if I let go-if I backed off a little, then they would fall and get hurt. The more they pushed the more I pushed back trying to save them and to keep them safe...while making them resentful and dependent.

I was so afraid of losing them that I held them too tightly and did lose them for a while, which tore my very heart from my breast. How could they leave me? Why did they choose what they chose? Look at the sacrifices I made and it appears they were totally ungrateful....I was confused, angry, yet also in much pain as I also struggled with replaying every thought, the intent, the desires, the work to find out where I messed up my girls...finally-I accepted their choices and I backed off while giving both to my Lord. I prayed that He bring my babies to Him, His way. I chose to trust them with Him and praised Him for teaching me that I had to trust Him with them.

Since, I now see how children grow into mature adults. Parents have to let them go so that they can grow. They must allow choices-following with consequences-but they cannot shield their children the same as they did when their children were helpless. As I have let go of control and trusted in God and them to make the right choices; to walk through the fire of their wrong choices, and as I observe-I am watching my children become stronger and wiser which warms my soul. They are deserving of respect and have overcome hardships. God has been able to work in their hearts and He continues His way.

When I study scripture I notice that He has done this throughout, from the beginning. He allowed choice. He applied consequences. People then learned lessons and changed....I am sure he as our parent is disappointed with our choices, and when he has to deliver the consequences due to our choices. Yet His love never failed us even when we hurled angry words and cried bitter tears. It took these lessons to grow us and to return us to where God wants us to be. He allows us to fall into desperation due to our choices and he also gives us situations that will simply grow us so that we can be strong and fruitful. When I think of how God fathers us-I see the wisdom and the need of allowing our children to also be able to make choices. With God, He has provided us warning and consequence should we not comply, and as He-parents must provide a warning and the consequence when our beloved children stray.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Three Steps to Help Develop Your Private Practice

Thursday, August 30, 2018 @ 3:18 PM

Step One

Decide what type of business you want. Writing a mission statement is a good place to start. It defines who you serve [client population], where [county or city], and how [what services you provide]. The mission statement becomes a rubric to determine the scope of your business and its boundaries. Does it fit the mission? It’s important to investigate and meet the needs of your community, but also to look into yourself and consider what you feel called to do. What drives you to have to have your own place? In the example above, you are motivated by the need to provide high quality care to children and families with appropriate facilities. You see the value in being branded as specializing in families, knowing that most families receiving support have multiple needs throughout their life.

Step Two

Implement your mission with the assistance of professionals. Seek CEUs, but mostly, seek relationships and implementable advice. There are multiple professionals who provide free or inexpensive advice on HIPAA compliance, marketing, networking, etc. But do NOT skimp on really important things like your website, your insurance, and your legal structure. Sure, you can copy other people’s contracts. They will work, but they won’t reflect your business and your needs. Hire a lawyer and get it done right. Laying a good foundation at the beginning will save you a lot of headaches in the future.

We easily suggest mentoring to our clients, but do we seek it out when we need it? When I decided to set up as a business owner and not simply a clinician with an office, I found a lawyer, a marketer, and an expert in ethics. We quickly set up some goals: incorporate the business, create a marketing plan, and write a procedure manual. These extra resources cost money, but doing things the right way always does.

Step 3

Reevaluate often. Business is exciting and creating your own can be quite a lot like a roller coaster. Be ready to re-evaluate and make changes on the fly – at least to minor things. As long as it fits with your mission, do it! Throw the spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks. But always come back to your central calling and mission statement so that you don’t water down your business or get lost in the weeds.

Friday, August 24, 2018


Friday, August 24, 2018 @ 1:58 PM

The Pastor's Place

I read a book once entitled “Renewal of the Mind” by John Sanford. In it he discusses the transformation of being a lost sinner to a saved sinner or a Christian. We are taught to believe that once we become a Christian, all is well and we are saved from hell. Being saved is much more than just getting out of hell. It’s about transformation. Jesus said He makes all things new. Wow! Think of it. All our negative thoughts, emotions and actions will be made new. We think that when we become Christian that all that goes away and we live happily ever after. Not! God never intended for us to be evil in nature, but He didn’t stop it from happening. And all that evil nature is just what He wants to make new or get rid of. We can’t change one iota of ourselves without God. Everything about us needs to be surrendered to His will, not ours. Our will takes us where we really don’t want to be, makes us who we don’t really want to be and God will put people into our lives or arrange circumstances that irritate or anger us—on purpose. His purpose in doing this is to gently (although it doesn’t feel gentle at the time) bring us to him in complete repentance and surrender. Psalm 37:5 says to “commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him.” You can read over that and shrug it off, but think about it: your way of doing things, right or wrong; your way of handling anger, resentment and other such negative emotions. God wants these things in order to change them in us. He knows we sin and struggle with these things, but He waits for us to acknowledge that we are lost and hopeless without Him. How we deal with our ways will determine our future.
Letting go is one of the hardest things to do in life. From the day we’re born we start to form the idea of who we are. This is influenced mostly by what we see and hear every day, seven days a week, mainly from family, to start, other family members, teachers, etc. We form beliefs about ourselves based on all this information. A lot of times it’s negative stuff we tend to hold on to and feel “this is me”. We become what our childhood tells us and we carry that throughout our lives and some are never aware that most of it is a lie. We aren’t who are parents say we are when they accuse us, belittle us, humiliate us and abuse us verbally or otherwise. This identity causes us to shut up or shut out the real “me” of me. If we continue to believe who we think we are, we live a lie. This is what we have to be willing to let go of and allow God to remove those things in us that don’t belong. This is the “old self” that is really dead to sin if we are truly a Christian. This is a struggle and if we keep believing this, we will never see change at all. We get set in a behavioral pattern that we stay in because it is familiar, comforting.
Jesus came to give us life. He wants to give us His new life, but that’s what we struggle with the most. Habits are easy to form and hold on to, but letting go seems impossible some times. What you believe is what you will live. This is what He wants to change; to get rid of the old and bring the new life. The patterns of behavior we create will follow us unless we learn to think differently, get out of the rut we feel we are in or have created for ourselves. Our past has been the factor that formed our “now” and will become our future if we continue that same behavioral pattern. Change the pattern, change your life.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Blessing Champion

Thursday, August 23, 2018 @ 10:50 AM

I am passionate with an understanding of what it means to both give and receive a blessing.

People of every age long for the gift of "the blessing"--the unconditional love and approval that comes from a healthy relationship with their parent and significant relationships. This life-changing gift, essential for instilling a deep sense of self-worth and unshakable emotional well being contains five essential elements: meaningful touch, a spoken message, attaching high value, picturing a special future, and an active commitment.

I am to be a full description of creating a foundation of "the blessing" or give "the blessing" to those I love. The five elements of the blessing will be fully explained and illustrated in my seminars and workshops. An understanding of some of the barriers that can prevent us from blessing others as well as understanding our own style of self-protection will also be covered.

"Create your experience of your best life to better living!

Contact me for the next upcoming workshop near you.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Engulfed in a Storm of Domestic Violence

Saturday, August 18, 2018 @ 2:06 PM

Those who have never been in a domestic violence situation are often perplexed as to how intelligent people become trapped and why they remain with someone who is abusive. In an effort to help provide clarity let us consider the dynamics of the following story:

Imagine as if you are one who is a fairly good in sailing and of at least average intelligence decides to purchase a boat due to a love for water sports and activities. He or she locates a vessel that appears to meet their every need. This vessel is absolutely awesome. It has every perk that a person would want in a boat, good to look at, power and appears in complete control when it is taken out on the water. Others see it and are envious as it appears to be perfect. Perhaps it has built by influential builders with a good reputation and has been in multiple events where it was successful with several trophies due to its performance in the public's eye, contests, and views. Why-who wouldn't want this prize?

As new buyer takes this boat onto the water to become more accustomed to its handling, one begins seeing aspects of the boat in a slow procession that warns that there may be a serious issue that needs to be addressed, beginning with a small infraction or imperfection perhaps as a scratch or a dent..then possibly the radio to transmit directions or SOS goes on the blink and stops...then when others climb aboard, the boat seems to be in stress and does not operate well-maybe the seating is unwelcoming-or maybe the motor seems to labor and therefore the others are no longer invited to ride with the buyer. Without the others the motor purrs along as long as the new owner takes it only to its familiar waters, and the captain of the boat feels safe again that his or her boat is fine as they ignore the oddities and the isolation that the boat brings to the owner...

Time passes and a succession of more and more issues arise, costly issues; issues that cause concerns-but how could this be? The owner takes the vessel to get it fixes as he or she complains of the issue (if the owner can get it to go) but when at the mechanic's the boat purrs and looks wonderful. The owner is billed but told that they have a wonderful vessel, as the complaints are ignored and unconfirmed due to the boat's performance when in the public's eye.... and the owner feels embarrassed and possibly to doubt their own senses or intelligence. After all others confirm the boat is as it should be or that maybe the owner did something wrong...

Time and time again-when alone with the boat; the boat seems resistant to any needs of the owner and now is a danger to be within; so the owner seeks to sell or to give up years of investment of this vessel. Due to the isolation of the owner and the boat-this means that the owner will need to travel to where he/she can dock the boat and to proceed with trying to keep from losing anymore money or heartache. By this time-the boat has regressed from being a nuisance and minor irritation to major issues that caused pain and costly repairs. Some of the damages were unbearable. He or she cannot go anywhere without major issues yet others refuse to believe any issues are present except that the owner is crazy. The former mechanics and builder blames the owner and subjects the owner to unethical and harmful treatment but they appear untouchable, after all-he or she took the boat as is, and have no recourse. The expense of this vessel is beyond reason and drains all resources. By now the owner is exhausted, confused and knows of all of the dangers all too well.

At this point-(with a boat that seems to have a mind of its own when with the owner alone: to be dangerous to be within-as the radio for distress doesn't work, the cabin collects water that threatens to flood it, the motor stops and cannot be restarted, and the anchor does not hold the vessel when in the storms-that tosses violently back and forth as the winds blow, the lightening flashes, and the thunder rolls...with the darkest of skies and thick fog surrounding the vessel, and no compass to provide direction; since now the owner doubts their own mind or ability; and has not been able to keep up with the warning signs and issues-while also without any support system to verify and confirm the vessel's problems)-then the owner feels totally helpless and at the mercy of this vessel that threatens his or her very life. The darkness (secrecy) and isolation (absence of healthy support systems) keeps him/her from accessing help- especially during the thick fog (of deception and illusion). The stormy unceasing weather (violence and aggression, threats and dominion) increases helplessness of the owner as they are unable to start the engine (due to generations of domestic violent members and friends who work with the vessel-the abuser to keep the target under subjection and control) to propel the vessel to safety. The victim cowers to a fetal position, willing to do whatever he or she must to feel safe again and ride the storm on that vessel since the thought of jumping into the raging seas (leaving the abuser, supporting oneself, facing the perceived shame, starting a new life) is too frightening.

Many victims of this storm fall prey and are imprisoned due to the above, as they are programmed that they are the reason for their punishment that they deserved; as would be an unsuspecting owner of a vessel that was sold as is; and depicted as a prize. The need for control is extreme for the abuser who rationalizes that he or she is justified and this need is relentlessly demonstrated with more and more harsh lessons-to "program" and to "train" their target. These controllers confuse love with obedience and will keep their victims off balanced as they are very kind and loving on occasion-which then confuses the victim to believe that things will be wonderful again-like they were when that person fell in love with the abuser who SEEMED to be so perfect. Shame and guilt are also components that keeps the abused in line. Low self respect and low self image is driven into the victim so as to believe that they are not worthy of better and that they deserve their consequence. Most believe that no one else could love them due to the abuser's emotional abuse.

Some victims however, when in the storm-are like the soldier who is in an impossible situation and believes that life is over one way or other, and with one last attempt to break free-will shift from fear and victimization to one of courage and will to face whatever it takes to get away and to survive. That soldier jumps out of their protective site with his/her guns blazing and a shout of anguish and determination-running into the fire of the enemy; almost as if to challenge their fate and to take out as many of the enemy as possible even if it cost them their life. These people (who choose to against all odds) will abandon the vessel and choose the raging waters to at least try to swim to a shore.

The aftermath of their choice to abandon ship (the domestic violent relationship) comes with high risks. Many victims not only fear their own abuser but also the abuser's support system of family and friends. Their lives are at risk. If they are pregnant or with a small child, then they are at higher risk. In addition, many ask them why did they not just leave. Many judge them, They do not know that their families were threatened if they left. They do not know that they were threatened of losing their children forever. They do not know that the threats were very real for the victim and that their belief was due to many hard lessons that caused real fear and pain. Often these survivors face legal and medical consequences for their attempt to get free. In addition, they have been so isolated (moving from a home state, not allowed to work, without a vehicle or phone, and no money) to control them and to make it most difficult from them to leave.

Regardless of the risks and the costs, a person who seeks to break from this control-with counseling and support, can process their past and find a fulfilling future once again. It is a process of gaining trust and of destroying the distortion of thoughts; but with perseverance then that person can be not only whole-but stronger in their new self. We want to give you hope if you have endured abuse or if you are enduring abuse. Contact us today if you are ready to take back your life.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Your Past Doesn't Have to be Your Future

Sunday, June 17, 2018 @ 6:39 PM

The Pastor's Place

I sat one day thinking back over my life, wondering where did the “I” of me go? Somehow I felt I got buried alive emotionally at a very early age. I wasn’t raised in a physically violent home but the emotional neglect of bonding, the verbal abuse and the brokenness of spirit took a toll on me that caused me to believe a lie that I’ve carried—until now.
     I know my dad loved my mom. I’d see him hug and kiss her cheek and say “I just love this woman” and sweet, endearing words of that nature. I observed my mother’s response every time. I saw her react in hatred, bitterness and disgust. That look, and the body language told me, “I don’t love this man” and “This is how you treat a man; this is how you are to behave; this is you.” It sounds strange but that’s how a lot of us grow up—into the image of our parents. Year after year, we carve out an identity that was never ours to have. We reflect their image and most may not even be aware of it.
     The second Commandant from God says we are not to make a graven image, don’t bow down to it or serve it. This is a serious command, not an option. There are things we worship other than God Himself. We tend to worship statues, external objects, sports heros, etc. But my understanding of this is quite serious in my opinion. A child seeking to find their own identity is very often stripped or even raped internally of their identity under the duress of family settings. Watching the same thing repeatedly for years brands that idea or image in your psyche causing you to identify with the image you created or carved in your mind with the underlying thought, “This is how I’m supposed to be; this is how I should behave.” And there you have carved a graven image, a false image, bowing your identity to it and serving it as “me.”
How you see your life becomes cloudy in the window of your mind. How you see yourself is how you react emotionally to circumstances in the home. The many influences of childhood will determine whether you make for yourself a graven image or the real “you.”
      The Bible shows us plainly in Ephesians 4:22 that we are to “lay aside your former manner of life, the old self, which is corrupted with the lusts of deceit and be renewed in the spirit of your mind which, in the likeness of God, is created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” We don’t have to keep living with a false identity that was created with lies. Once you see the truth, it becomes easier to see what lies were told to shape your being. Things like, “Can’t you do anything right?” Or, “Why don’t you ever listen?” “You’re just a no good, do nothing.” These and other accusations deeply harm a child’ self-esteem.
     We can let God recreate us in the truth of who we really are, who He intended us to be before we were ever born, in His holiness and truth. This tells me I don’t have to keep on living with my parents’ attitudes and behaviors that I learned day after day. God wants to tear down the idol I built on a lie. What a freedom comes as we are delivered from evil. We become corrupted inside by lies of what we see daily, constantly. When we give this up to God, asking for forgiveness, He brings His righteousness into the circumstance of our heart and creates a renewed identity because He breaks the power of the lies by telling us the holy truth and we become free.
     Dagon, as pictured here, was a foreign idol that was set up next to the Ark of God. When the people awoke in the morning, Dagon was face-down. The next day they found Dagon broken into pieces, his head and hands were broken off. (1 Samuel 5: 1-7) It takes time to change the dagons of our lives. As a side note, next time you're in Starbucks, look at their icon. Idol worship still exists.

Saturday, June 02, 2018


Saturday, June 02, 2018 @ 2:17 PM

“And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.” Acts 2:2

If a sound came from heaven, would you hear it? Sometimes, I wonder if I would! I can get so caught up in distractions that I may not be listening. There is a price to pay for too many distractions, but for me, not hearing God would be the biggest cost.

So why do I allow them? In part, distractions effectively keep me disconnected from feelings of confusion, fear, and uncertainty. Not being in control feels threatening. And I can’t control the sound from heaven; the voice of God. The uncertainty of not knowing when or what He may say can be uncomfortable. The next assignment I am given may be difficult. Sometimes I doubt my ability, or fear the focus and energy it will require.

I think we have trained our minds to run from being in the present moment. It is a symptom of the Distraction Syndrome so prevalent in our culture. Yet God says “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10). Gratefully, I think He understands our fleshly resistance to His command. Perhaps that is why He told the disciples to wait in the Upper Room and pray. They were positioned to hear!

Perhaps, like me, you need to practice not acting on the urge to distract. Just stay with the feelings that arise when you are still. Times of quiet meditation will make hearing the sound from heaven easier. Sometimes God speaks softly. At other times, He sounds like a mighty rushing wind. Either way, rest assured that what He says is coming from Perfect Love. And His love is exactly what we need to meet us in our hearts, to replace the fear that has driven us to distraction.

Lord, we confess that our ceaseless activity is a manifestation of mistrust. Without the knowledge that You are working on our behalf, we do not cease from activity. Please help us to notice when our mind tries to run. We need your grace to develop an ‘Upper Room’ posture that does not give in to the distractions that are around us. Open our eyes to recognize that this is a critical season; we need to put our hearts in a position to hear what Your Spirit is saying. May the Upper Room Transformation be the result.
In Jesus Name, Amen.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Standing Upright After The Storm

Monday, April 09, 2018 @ 5:35 AM

For many people, extraordinary hardships, difficult relationships or traumatic childhood sorrows have felt as if hurricane force winds have battered and bent them into a deep weariness. Often, there are those who rudely condemn or dismiss the pain that others might be either going through or are working their way out of. NOTE: Their day of sorrow will come and perhaps they will have pause to reconsider their cruelty of words.

Storms test not only our "staying power" but also the depth of our friendships and family relationships. Oh how hard the heart can quickly become when we see others in a season of “weary bent down struggle”!
However, Pain that is hidden, is still pain! The anguish of traumatic past events can filter and twist our perceptions about life, the Love of God, and our most intimate of relationships.

God created your heart, and when it’s weary, there is inevitable devastating pain.
If that pain is not dealt with, serious consequences can occur emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Heartbreak is very real, and it’s very serious.

If you’re in a season of refining or harsh storms, “lean” in. Trust the loving shelter of your precious Savior’s hand and know that He will lead you to the other side of the raging storm. Refuse a sense of entitlement and don’t demand to be understood! ( For instance-“I have a right to be less than I can normally be! I’m WEEEEEEARY!”)

Instead, intentionally humble yourself and look, discern, so you can understand what the Lord is doing around and in you.

He will faithfully lead you and... will be strengthened as you go.
On the other side of this refining time is a fresh perspective and new mercies.

You WILL stand upright again, and you’ll be all the wiser about life and how to navigate storms...
Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God and at the EXACT right time, you will be lifted up, stood upright again, and will be honored (and vindicated) before a watching world.

Here’s my question for you:
Do you have a sense of how God is using your current circumstances to prepare you for a great calling? 

Jesus himself, spoke these words to us addressing the core issue.
"Everything I’ve taught you is so that the peace which is in me, will be in you and will give you great confidence as you rest in me.
For in this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous,
for I have conquered the world!”
John 16:33

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Three Little Known Ways to Make Resolutions Stick

Sunday, December 31, 2017 @ 12:00 AM

Do people really expect New Years Resolutions to stick anymore?  Most of us probably have given up on the whole idea because it has fizzled so many times in the past.  Do you think that real change is just too difficult to attempt?

Maybe the reason most resolutions fail is because we have been given wrong information on how change happens.

Coaching people for 15 years, I have seen these tips actually helped my clients keep their resolutions.

These are surprising, because they are counter intuitive.  They can also be applied to any changes you would like to make.


Most advice tells you to be very specific and detailed writing your resolutions. The reason for a direction is that unless you are clairvoyant, you don’t actually have any idea whats going to happen in the future.

Try this experiment:

Think of a time you expected your future to look exactly like ______________? Go ahead and fill in the blank. So I ask you, “Did it turn out like you pictured it?”

So with a direction you allow for the creative wisdom of the universe to bring you amazing, wonderful events, people and situations that you could not even imagine in your wildest dreams.



 Create your emotional state before you do anything. I am a firm believer in the principles of NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming). One of the main concepts of NLP is that “Everything comes from state” (feeling  states). What that means is that whatever state you are in determines how you are going to do whatever you do.

This means that if you get yourself in a state of abundance and gratitude for your abundance(whatever that is at the moment) you will pull situations to you that contain all kinds of abundance, when you least expect it.

We all have so many blessings and focusing on them will bring more of the same.

More recent research in the field of science, especially epigenetics has validated further how important our emotional states are on our health and behavior.

We now know from the  new field of epigenetics  that our feeling states actually influence how our cells behave.  Dr Bruce Lipton, a cellular biologist who taught at  the University of Michigan Medical School  and conducted pioneering studies with stem cells  at Stanford University wrote  The Biology of Belief.   In this book and in his videos in he explains the science of Epigenetics.  Epigenetics  explains how our thoughts, feelings and beliefs  and our very environment control our biology. This  affects  both our emotional and physical well being.

Dr Lipton explains epigenetics in this 4 minute video.

Because your state is so vitally important to your level of manifestation and success and happiness I suggest to my coaching clients that they spend the first 6 minutes that they are awake doing specific things to get themselves in a resourceful state. ( This is the most powerful time of the day because the veil between the conscious and unconscious mind is very thin at this time).

And you may be wondering how anything significant can happen that fast. Believe me if you know how to do it, it does happen that fast.

And don’t take my word for it- try it yourself. I promise you that if you commit to doing this for 2 weeks, with the understanding that you will evaluate it in 2 weeks to see whether you want to keep it or not, you will be pleasantly surprised at the new things that come into your life.

The best part of doing this is that it brings surprising things into your life. This gives you a new sense of vitality! Try it and you’ll see…


As you have probably surmised by now, I believe in the law of attraction. So my last tip is to tap every time you are overcome with the harmful emotions of fear, shame, humiliation, anger, worry and resentment.

These feelings will just bring you more of the same unwanted emotions so lets get rid of them as soon aw we are aware of them.

There’s a process to tap which releases emotions that are unwanted . The process is called EFT tapping or Emotional Freedom Techniques.

I teach this to all my clients because it is so helpful. And I use it myself every day.

In the EFT community we call it creating good feelings for no reason, because there are always good feelings lying just underneath these painful ones. Most people don’t realize that or they would tap more often!

If you would like to know more about this, contact me on this page of my website:

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Does Your Relationship Needs Urgent Repair?

Wednesday, July 26, 2017 @ 10:25 AM

Relationships can be messy. Many couples get in a negative spiral that has taken them so deeply down that they have lost hope. If you are one of these people, keep reading. This post is especially for you.

I've surveyed hundreds of couples and their most common causes for crisis include difficulties with communication, lack of time, fighting, and loss of connection and affectionate in their relationship. On top of these, many couples are afraid of their partner having an affair or have already been impacted by infidelity. In order to move forward you need to be able to get out of crisis mode, heal from pain and, learn better ways of relating.

One of the things that happen when you are full of negativity and in crisis mode is that your brain gets flooded with chemicals that make it impossible to think clearly and to problem solve. It becomes a defeating circle that gets you into depression, anger, and despair.

The first thing you need to learn is how to take responsibility for your own feelings and be able to calm yourself enough for recovering clarity of mind. That's why you need the guidance of someone that know how to guide you out of crisis so that you can plan your next steps.

Over more than 30 years helping couples, I have helped many relationships get out of crisis and back into a happy heart-connected relationship. Because I get many calls from couples in crisis I decided to create a very special intensive half day program I have called: Urgent Relationship Repair Challenge. You can learn all about my program by clicking the button asking for more information.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Five Steps to Heal and Recover from Sexual Abuse

Tuesday, June 06, 2017 @ 3:52 PM

Healing from Childhood Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse can profoundly damage a child’s sense of value, mainly by the perpetrator of the abuse, and secondarily by the non-abusive parent who either doesn’t believe the child, or somehow is oblivious to the abuse happening right in their own household. . So often child sexual abuse occurs in families, and in social contexts in which the family knows and trusts the perpetrators. Sometimes children are sexually abused within families in which the non-abusive parent resides mentally in a world of make-believe where no problem exists.

If you have been victimized by emotional incest, physical touch, rape, voyeurism, frotteurism, fondling, inappropriate conversations or non-verbal communication of a sexual nature or in any other way used by a person of more power than you as an object, then these steps will help you overcome the impact of your objectification and emotional hurt. There is no greater injury than being a small child who is used for the sexual gratification of an adult.

Following is a list of healthy steps to take in order to heal and recover from sexual abuse:

  1. Break your silence. The saying, “you’re as sick as your secrets” definitely applies to childhood sexual abuse. Children and adults who have been subjected to the dishonorable experience of having an adult use them for their sexual gratification, have no desire, ever, to tell anyone of their secret, because of their deep seated feelings of shame and humiliation. However, the only way to heal from this horrendous crime is for the victim to “find her voice.”
  2. Journal often about how you have been personally affected by the abuse. List how you were betrayed by those who were supposed to protect you and nurture you. List and describe the different ways you suffered and what you lost because of the abuse. It is important to assess and face the damage in order to heal. 
  3. Face the Shame. There is great healing to be found in facing the shame your perpetrator put on you; talk about it, and place it off yourself and back on the shoulders of the person responsible for abusing you. Facing your shame and giving it back to your abuser (figuratively) helps you embrace your vulnerability and see yourself in a new light.
  4. Grieve your losses. In order to recover from abuse, it is necessary to fully discover and complete the pain caused by your losses. You may feel many losses from being abused, such as, a loss of safety, comfort, innocence, trust, a childhood; a loss of being seen, known, and valued, etc. Think specifically about how your life has been impacted by abuse and write each loss, fully allowing yourself to grieve. Write about how you’ve been betrayed. Share your experience with a safe listening partner.
  5. Be Compassionate with yourself. Do not abuse or neglect your value and needs as others have. Learn to talk to yourself with kindness and acceptance. Do not condemn yourself for the past or in the present. Recovery is a lifelong process and developing a constant “inner compassionate companion” will help the rest of your life be a satisfying experience. No longer do you have to be victim to others and to the negative dialogue within your own head. Remind yourself that being abused is not the fault of the victim, for any reason, ever.

Remember that sexual abuse is a form of trauma, and that those who have been affected, suffer with post-traumatic stress. Healing requires patience, understanding, safety, and validation. Therapists helping victims of abuse should offer clients a safe space and presence for facing difficult emotions, and should allow clients to work at their own pace. If a child was abused prior to age six, his memories may be repressed. Never imply that abuse occurred by putting ideas into your client’s mind, just listen to him as he remembers feelings, sensations, hurts, and allow him to talk about events when he’s ready.

When individuals are in therapy, learning to talk about their experiences and feelings, they will most likely have dreams, which are in effect, the mind’s effort at working through the deep feelings. Encourage your client to discuss his dreams, noting that dreams are metaphors. Have him personalize what each object in the dream signifies metaphorically.

Help clients realize that their healing is not dependent on confronting their abusers, but that healing, really is a matter of coming to terms with the abuse internally. Many times, confronting abusers can be very invalidating and counterproductive for victims of abuse. Remind clients that all abusers (especially sexual predators) are master manipulators, and when confronted will tend to do some strategy to minimize, project, deny, or otherwise invalidate the victim’s position. It is better for the victim to just adopt a policy of “no contact” with their abuser and if a confrontation is needed, then have it done merely on paper and read to a therapist.

The more all of the feelings with the abuse are processed by the victim, the more thoroughly the trauma is worked through and felt to completion. There will come a day when the victim will no longer need to process her feelings and she will realize she has been set free. Over time, the negative feelings and thoughts of abuse will dissipate, and not due to repression, but rather due to facing them and feeling their impact in the safe presence of a good therapist or other listening partner.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

My Personal Journey with OCD

Saturday, May 06, 2017 @ 11:56 AM

My personal journey with OCD, in the form of intrusive thoughts, began when I was only 11 years old. These thoughts would get “stuck” in my head and would play over and over again. This became increasingly stressful. My temporary solution was to go through my own personal ritual which made things better for awhile. This was not a permanent solution and the thoughts always resurfaced. At this age, I had no idea how to verbalize the mental pain I was in and I didn’t want people to think I was “crazy”, so I suffered in silence. I noticed that these thoughts would occur more often during times of stress or when I was fatigued.

I was told one time by a well-meaning therapist that I should just avoid getting under stress. Really? What universe was she from? As everyone knows, that’s easier said than done if not impossible. Now I know that advice like “live a healthy lifestyle” didn’t work, as I was a committed bodybuilder who practiced very healthy eating, exercise and other healthy principles. Additionally, advice such as trying to “control” unwanted thoughts only ended up backfiring. In fact, popular “coping strategies” I was so eagerly given did little to help me. The truth is that coping skills stop working even though helpful at first. I tried many other recommended solutions, but in time, these too failed to control the unwanted thoughts adequately.

Fast-forward many years, I now have a somewhat symptom free life. And now when these unwanted thoughts raise their ugly head, I am well prepared for what to do. I feel my suffering has made me more uniquely qualified to help my own clients with this disorder. I start by helping them understand that intrusive thoughts are quite common among people. Often times they immediately begin to feel better when they learn that these “sticky thoughts” are through no fault, personality detect or mental illness of their own.

Now you know why as a therapist I have taken a personal interest in helping people find the solutions that I wish I had found at a young age. The right customized solution that really helps in changing the way the brain works can make all the difference in how one feels. The therapies that I have found work best with my clients are EMDR, exposure therapy and a customizable plan based on their particular symptom set. Finding a therapist that uses the latest evidence based treatment is paramount in getting on the road to recovery. How do I know? Because I truly get it!

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Three Reasons People Lose Their Way in Life

Tuesday, April 04, 2017 @ 4:42 PM

I often hear my clients say they feel "stuck". This, of course, can mean a number of things, some of which may include, feeling afraid, sad, angry, lonely or lost. Like being lost in the forest, with no sense of direction, no clear path to follow, and no exit signs, it can feel overwhelming and very scary. Feeling this way over a period of time is exhausting and so you freeze or get "stuck".

There are many ways we can lose our way or get stuck in life:

  1. Sometimes we lose our way because we stopped paying attention to our own inner warning signs to either "slow down", "turn around" or "walk away".
  2. Sometimes we find ourselves lost in another person's overgrown and chaotic life, and by focusing so much on how to help them find their way though their mess we never realize how far we wondered off our own path.
  3. Sometimes our focus gets blurred by the hurts from the past, the pressures of the present and worries about tomorrow. We lose our way because we are not watching where we are going. We are distracted.

I have found that offering my clients a way to see themselves from an outside perspective can be most helpful. It is like stepping out of the painting of your life and looking back at it from outside the frame. This way, together the client and I can better pinpoint where they may have left their path and then determine the best ways to slowly and carefully make their way back. As a fellow sojourner, I too have wandered and lost my way. I have come to realize that having a trusted fellow traveler as a companion can be the greatest comfort of all. This is one of the reasons I love being a professional counselor. To be able to walk alongside someone and encourage or support their transformation is a gift many have given me. What a privileged to share this sacred journey. Make the choice to call and ask for help today. Your path to new life is waiting!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

5 Tips to Enhance Your Marriage

Saturday, March 18, 2017 @ 8:27 PM
  1. Speak to each other as if your pastor is over for dinner.
  2. Avoid addressing your spouse by his/her first name, especially during heated discussions or when you are about to make a request. Use pet names whenever possible. Most husbands (and some wives) hear their proper names as the beginning of some sort of disrespectful interaction (reminds them of when mom was addressing them as kids). Pet names never inspire that feeling
  3. Make it each day’s goal to make your spouse’s life better in some way. (Dr. Laura agrees with this one).
  4. Remember how you acted with your spouse when you were courting. It’s likely very different than what you do now.
  5. When there's conflict always ask yourself: Do I want to be right or do I want to be loved?

The question is: "Why wouldn't couples utilize these very simple and practical concepts to reduce conflict and increase love in their marriages"?

The answer I'm given almost every time in counseling is that IT ISN'T FAIR. Husbands and wives feel it just isn't fair that they are expected to act in this way while they feel mistreated by their spouse. In fact, it is this relentless quest for fairness that often derails a relationship that was once very treasured.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Stay Healthy through the Holidays

Tuesday, November 22, 2016 @ 12:03 PM

For many of us staying healthy through the holidays may be challenging. There may be extra stress of many types and more temptation to eat unhealthy foods and to over-eat. What can we do?
Here's some suggestions:

  1. Get plenty of fluids, especially pure water: at least 40 oz/day. Consider keeping a thermos of healthy soup with you.
  2. Get plenty of rest. 
  3. For those with difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep: daily healthy eating, stress management including moderate exercise such as walking, and prayer will reduce problems with these. Psalms, Proverbs in the Bible may provide guidance.
  4. Some suggestions for dealing with stress: #1. make a list of all the things that feel like stressors and how you feel about each one, share your feelings with the Lord in prayer. #2. Make a list of at least 3 things you are thankful for each day. #3. Consider joining a small group at church. #4. If you have a Christian counselor reach out to them as needed.
  5. Healthiest foods: most vegetables, especially natural sweet potatoes or yams. Most fruits, especially berries, cranberries. At least 60-90 grams of protein/day. Start with a 20-30 gram breakfast smoothie.
  6. the Dr. Oz show website has suggestions including a Holiday Breakfast Smoothie and suggestions for eating before going to the holiday gathering.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

When is the best time to have the “sex” talk with my child?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016 @ 11:06 AM



When answering “When is the best time to have the sex talk with my child?”, I encourage you to first change the question. Here are some questions to ask instead:

How can I help my child understand his/her sexuality?
What is the best way to have open discussions about sex in our home?
How do I ensure my child develops a healthy, adaptive sexual identity that he/she feels confident in expressing within God’s plan?
How do I raise a child that understands and desires sexual purity?
These questions lead to different answers and also help to reframe your parenting approach regarding sex and sexuality with your children. Additionally, these questions seem invoke less fear and less pressure regarding the subject within your parenting of your children. It does not come down to one shot at getting “the talk” right with your child. Instead, it is a mindset, an approach, an ongoing relationship with your children that acknowledges sexuality as part of God’s creation and God’s plan. It acknowledges that as human beings, we have the capability of expressing ourselves physically, emotionally, spiritually, and sexually.

Donna Gresh in her article “The Secret to Raising Sexually Pure Kids” discusses the timing of the “sex talk”:

I used to think that I could wait until my children hit puberty before starting any conversation about sexuality. But experts in child development say parents should talk to their children about sexuality long before the kids reach their teen years. In fact, children tend to be most receptive to their parents’ sexual values when they are around 8 or 9.

One study evaluated an abstinence curriculum’s effect on different age groups. Students in the upper elementary grades were the most likely to make favorable attitude changes about delaying sexual activity while high school students were the least likely to change. When kids turn 13 years old, parents become cruel dictators with archaic ideas about hairstyles, clothing, and social outings. Presenting sexuality at this point just adds it to a long list of “thou shalt nots” to be challenged and questioned. Presenting the subject of sex and values a few years earlier enables you to build a foundation that kids are likely to take to heart.

Discussing sexuality begins when a child is a toddler and he/she is naming body parts. It is important to start the discussion of God’s creation regarding sexuality with anatomically correct language. As a little boy names his eyes, nose, ears, and belly button, he should also learn penis and scrotum. A little girl should understand she has fingers, toes, and a vagina with labia. It can start a confusing journey if we use anatomically correct language for all body parts but those that have to do with our sexuality. We want our children affirmed in their body and affirmed in their sexuality. Pet names or complete avoidance of naming sexual areas of the body can lead to feelings of avoidance, lack of acceptance, or associated with shame.

Discussing privacy and private parts is important to start at a young age. It is important for young boys and young girls to know who is permitted to see them naked and who is not. Who is allowed to touch their penis, vagina, and breasts, and who is not.

Take the opportunities to discuss sexuality within the context of family events. When we were pregnant with our fourth child, we discussed pregnancy and childbirth with our 4-year-old twins. We explained that it was due to the love between us as husband and wife that lead to the conception of a new baby sister. We explained that the baby was growing in mommy’s uterus. The boys participated in the week by week What to Expect When You’re Expecting app. They learned that the baby would be birthed through mommy’s birth canal. This was one of our first sexual education chapters in our family at 4 years old. This lesson builds upon their knowledge of their sexual organs and furthers their understanding of sex and its purpose in our lives.

As you see or hear things that have to do with sexuality, discuss them with your growing children. Have developmentally appropriate conversations. Create an atmosphere and an environment in your home where there are no dumb questions and curiosity is welcomed. As your child starts to express different thoughts and feelings regarding sexuality, respond warmly and openly. Do not respond with judgment or criticism, but encourage them to open discussion by saying “tell me more” or “that is interesting” or “hmm”. Only offer knowledge, insight, and information when the child has asked you to share. If he or she is sharing, encourage his or her talk by listening, not by talking. This will help to create a safe place and will develop a stronger connection with your child. You do not necessarily desire the “expert” relationship with your child, but an open dialogue regarding sexuality.

Do not separate sexuality from God, but instead, emphasize how sexuality is from God and of God. Discuss sexuality within the meta-narrative of scripture. God created male and female. He created us to be sexual and to reproduce. Sex was created to be a pleasurable and joyful union of souls between a husband and a wife. Theologically, sex between a husband and a wife is a foreshadow of the future union between Christ and the Church.

Rob Jackson encourages urgency in his article “How to Start Early”

The main thing about sex education is to get started. Let’s teach the sanctity of sexuality. Our children need to learn that God ordained sexuality to be the means in which they – and everyone else – come into existence for all eternity.

We need to understand our children and the difficult culture in which they live. As parents – and, more important, as older brothers and sisters in Christ – we have the privilege to teach them what we have learned in relationship to God and His plan for the family.

How can I get my teenager to communicate with me?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016 @ 11:04 AM


There are many parents who desire a healthy, warm relationship with their children. Often the parents we work with have good intentions, but their efforts are often counter-productive in their desire for an open conversation in their home. Instead of creating a place for conversation, they create a place for arguments and shut downs.

Dr. Kevin Leman gives wise advice in his book Have a New Kid by Friday:

“If you want a child to talk to you, don’t ask questions. Instead, get quietly involved in their world. Talk about what they’re interested in—even if it’s not what you’re interested in….’That’s interesting. Tell me more about it.’”

It is a conversation skill to be able to engage with a child without asking questions. And, if you do ask questions, to only ask open-ended questions. If the question can be answered with a yes, no, grunt, or shrug: the adolescent will most definitely take this short-answer option. The key is being selfless and willing to communicate on the child’s terms. This may also include how you converse with a child. This may include utilizing social media and texting as a form of communication in your home. This is the language that kids speak. In order to connect with them, one must be willing to speak in their native tongue, which includes technology.

Here are some common ways that parents poison their relationship with their adolescent and thus kill the conversation in their homes, according to Dr. Scott Sells of Parenting with Love and Limits.

Bringing up the past
Attacking the person rather than the misbehavior
Making compliment sandwiches (a compliment followed by the word “but”)
Intimating that the teen must be good to earn your love
Offering no opportunities to regain trust
The anecdote to these five poisonous acts are these five strategies for restoring nurturance in your relationship, also from Dr. Sells:

Special outings (one on one, outside the house, scheduled, consistent weekly)
Accept underlying feelings
Provide undivided attention
Just listen and respond with “oh” and “mmm”
Reply nonjudgmentally: help him to feel heard rather than criticized, ignored, or misunderstood
Try responding with “It seems like….” Or “Sounds as if…”
Power of hugs
Be the first to restore good feelings
Give your child opportunities to regain trust

What are appropriate disciplines for toddlers?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016 @ 11:03 AM


Here are 10 things to consider when you are contemplating toddler discipline:

1. Discipline means “to teach”
The word discipline can have a negative connotation and can be associated with “punishment”. However, when you consider it as a synonym to teach, to train, or to coach, it takes on a more inclusive meaning for a parent. When you are disciplining your toddler, you are actually teaching and training to obey as well as coaching the child to be a respectable member of our society.

2. Say “no” when you mean it
It is vital to have power behind your “NO”. As an authority figure, you must stand firm when you respond with the negative reply “No”. If you retract your “No” or permit the behavior to continue the “No” loses its significance and paves the way for disrespectful children. Ensure the importance of “No” by being firm and consistent even if your child ignores, resists, or defies you. If necessary, physically remove the child from the activity if he does not follow your direction.

3. Say “yes” as often as possible
As much as it is important to say “no”, it is also vital to say “yes” to your child. If the request is reasonable and possible, grant it. The more your child is permitted to do safe, fun, and enriching tasks that they request, the more likely they will accept the necessary limits that get set.

4. Use distraction
Being creative and re-directing your toddler’s behavior will assure that he is not always hearing “No”. Toddlers are easily distracted by the next best thing. If you do not want a toddler climbing in the dishwasher while you are trying to load it, simply remove her from the kitchen and engage her with appropriate toys in another room. Play with her for a few minutes and then return to your kitchen clean up. Looking out the window with your toddler, engaging them in another toy, switching activities, reading a book or singing songs are all ways to re-direct a toddler to appropriate behavior.

5. Show the child the behavior you desire
Saying “stop that” to inappropriate behaviors is futile. Be proactive and demonstrate to your child exactly what behavior you want instead of constantly saying “Stop that. Engage your child in a conversation of the behavior you desire. Praise your child when they accomplish the behavior you were hoping to achieve.

6. Coach coping skills and problem solving skills
It is important for a toddler to develop frustration tolerance. Coaching a child how to cope is important for their development. This can include daily tasks of getting dressing, bathroom duties, waiting in line, eating at a restaurant, or riding in the car. Do not provide your toddler a cell phone or electronic device during these times. These devices are a stimulant and will not teach coping skills. Encourage your toddler to solve problems on their own by giving valid choices during stressful times so they soon will feel comfortable. Take breaks with your toddler when you observe them getting over-tired, over-stimulated, or overly frustrated with the situation.

7. “Use your words”
When your child is in a time of emotional distress, teach them how to communicate. When they can verbally express their needs, encourage them “use their words.” A child can learn that an adult responds positively to verbal communication and not to whining, crying or yelling. Teach to utilize emotion words like “Are you sad?” or “Are you angry?” Help them utilize words to express feelings and needs clearly.

8. Affirm positive behavior
Toddlers love pleasing the adults in their life. They love performing and accomplishing new tasks. Clap, smile, praise, hug, jump, dance, and sing with your child when they demonstrate positive or new behaviors. Affirm them verbally regarding development of good character like sharing, being polite and patient, showing kindness, listening well and apologizing.

9. Utilize strategies to “start” desirable behaviors
Kids have a natural tendency to want to compete and win. Timers can work very well for toddlers. “I am setting the timer and want the toys put away before it goes off.”
Anything you can do to make an activity fun will be better received by a toddler: encourage the activity you desire her to start by using songs, rhymes, or making it a game.
Do simple charts with a toddler. Put the days across the top, and down the side list the different tasks (no more than four things) the child will be working on. If the child completes the task, it is indicated with a sticker. Rewards for completing items on the chart can be a toy, a piece of candy, or a special meals. The best ideas are relatively small things that can be dished out frequently and in small pieces. They do not have to be costly.
Avoid some problems by allowing he world to teach the child what works and what does not. This would include being hungry (she refused to eat) or being cold (she refused to wear a coat).

10. Utilize strategies to “stop” unwanted behaviors:

Use a firm voice.
Be specific about which behavior is unwanted and needs to stop.
Utilize time-out as a negative consequence. Have a specific place, utilize a timer, and set time to be one minute for every year old. Re-start the timer for yelling or noncompliance.
Give a warning for a specific consequence if a behavior does not stop and utilize a “1,2,3” count before giving the consequence.
Use “If, then” plans with the toddler. “If you stop crying, we can go on a walk.” “If you sit nicely in the cart in the grocery store, we can ride the toy pony at the front of the store.” Follow through with the reward only if it is earned.
Provide choices for compliance versus disobedience. “You can choose to stop teasing your brother and continue playing; or, you can go to timeout if I hear you call him another name.”
Praise and affirm the desired behavior.

Strategies to Handle Temper Tantrums from Your Kids

Wednesday, July 20, 2016 @ 11:01 AM


There is hope for a life without temper tantrums. It is realistic to believe that you can go out peacefully in public with your 3 ½ year-old although you may feel like you need to go to a counseling for children specialist. Here are some suggestions regarding your perspective, your relationship, your communication style, and parenting strategies to tackle the temper tantrums.

First, it is important to adopt the perspective that you are the parent and you will not be held hostage by temper tantrums. You need to decide not to allow emotional blackmail by your child. It is important to understand that it is in your child’s best interest not to give in to temper tantrums. When you surrender to the meltdowns, your child’s inappropriate emotional behavior is positively reinforced. Your child receives the message that misbehavior will get him what he wants. His mindset will become “Give me my way or endure me acting out.” On the contrary, when you stand firm, your child will have to solve the problem in a more appropriate way. This encourages better communication skills, effective emotional regulation, and better long-term problem solving skills. Your child will therefore develop the coping skills necessary to handle difficult situations and to function in a respectable way in public places.

Secondly, having a secure connection with your child is vital to compliance. Take an inventory of things you say to your child in a day, and it may be surprising how many would be interpreted by your child as “demands” or “correction” or “permission.” Children also need to be affirmed, heard, encouraged, and enjoyed. Sometimes when parents get busy, they may lose sight of child-directed activities. It could be considered a red flag if your child is just an accessory to getting your “to-do list” accomplished or getting your child to comply helps to “check-off” something on your list. Additionally, children don’t like feeling coerced. If going to public places seems to always be about the parent accomplishing tasks, the child may feel forced to participate in activities that were not his idea. It is necessary to increase the amount of time spent just connecting with your child without an agenda. It is also vital to have several short time segments throughout the day that is child-centered and do not include parent-enforced guidelines. Kids are more cooperative when they feel a caring relationship. Ensure a balance of times that you approach your child with demands and times that your presence simply signals a moment of loving connection.

How you communicate with your child is another key to sidelining temper tantrums. It is important to not “ask” your child to do something, if you are not going to respect his answer. As an adult when we ask a friend it may be a “yes” or “no” answer. But when we ask our child we sometimes expect compliance. Therefore it can be very frustrating when a child refuses but you insist that he comply. You should only ask questions that you will be willing to accept his answer. If you insist on compliance, then it is important to “tell” your child with a clear, concise statement what you want him to do. If he therefore resists, you can reinforce that you did not ask, but you told him to do something. The next step would be then to provide a consequence if he chooses to not comply with what you told him to do. For example, if it is bath time and bath time is not optional, do not say “Would you like to take a bath?” Instead say, “It is bathtime! We are going to get undressed and get in the bath tub now.” If the child resists, provide choices in the process of getting the bathtime accomplished: “Would you like to walk to the bathtub or mommy carry you?” or “Would you like bubbles or no bubbles” or “Are you getting undressed or is mommy taking your clothes off for you?”

Always be firm with your request and not “needy”. The poorest way to deliver a request is to begin it with, “I need you to…” It weakens you, and places too much power with your child to either fulfill your need, or deny it. Additionally, don’t end a request with, “Okay?” as in, “It’s time to brush your teeth, okay?” Speak decisively and with authority so he gets the message that you are not willing to negotiate.. Before you deliver an instruction, you can say “eyes on me” or “please look at mommy” to ensure that you have his attention. Then, keep your request minimal and brief. When your child is compliant and does follow instructions the first time praise the child and affirm his helpful, positive behavior. Ensure that your child feels appreciated for being cooperative.

It is important to have a few specific strategies for the temper tantrums if and when they do occur.

Be aware of your child’s tendencies. When does he easily get frustrated? When might he be overly stimulated? When might he be over tired? Which situations may be triggers for temper tantrums?
Prepare yourself and your child for these times. Communicate to your child ahead of time that if he gets frustrated or is having a difficult time to express that to you so that a break can be taken. Be prepared to take a break with your child and be prepared to leave early if necessary.
Set expectations regarding temper tantrums before going into public. Let your child know what the consequence will be for a temper tantrum.
If your child has been consistently acting out in public, do smaller test runs. Take your child on a shorter errand first and communicate that it is a test to see if he can handle a longer trip to a grocery store or mall. Coach your child through the smaller steps and encourage positive coping skills and appropriate problem solving skills.

Decide what the child’s limits will be in the public place and communicate those in the car before arriving. It is best to keep these limits to 3 items. Such as:

1. Respond to first request.
2. Accept “no” for an answer.
3. Don’t raise your voice or misbehave physically.
Have a reward in place for compliance while in public—which does not have to be purchasing something at the location. A reward can include choosing the song or radio station in the car, choosing what is for dinner, getting extra time on electronics at home, or a small treat like a piece of candy or gum.
If a rule is broken, have a consequence in place. Communicate ahead of time of what will occur if any or all of the rules for being out in the public place are broken. Leaving the public place immediately is an appropriate consequence, however, ensure that you are prepared to follow through with the stated consequence. It is important that the consequence is clear, consistent, and capable of completion by the parents.
If the child does throw a tantrum in public, be prepared to leave immediately. If the tantrum is still active, you may choose to not become physically involved. If the child is small, you may be able to hold his hand and walk to the car. If he resists, it is best to wait the tantrum out. Try to pay little attention to the “show”. Read a book, check your phone, sit and people watch while your child completes his meltdown activity. The less attention you provide, the less you reinforce the behavior. Then, leave the public place and enforce the pre-stated negative consequence for breaking the rules.
By adjusting your perspective, seeking loving connection with your child, modifying your communication, and implementing these strategies the situation with your child’s temper tantrums will improve.


How to Handle a Child with a Hitting Problem

Wednesday, July 20, 2016 @ 11:00 AM


Have you ever thought to yourself, “my child has a hitting problem.” It is not uncommon for children to express themselves through aggressive behavior. What is important to note is when a child is consistently responding to situations and people with aggressive and defiant behavior. As the parent, it is important to recognize the situations in which the hitting takes place, your child’s emotions in the situation, their actions (hitting and other responses), whom aggression is directed, and what might be triggering aggression.

As a parent, it is valuable to understand the limits and boundaries your child needs, to promote and encourage positive development and individual thriving.

According to Patty Wipfler stated, “Odd as it may seem, children who hit are children who are afraid…To manage the fear, the frightened child develops aggressive behavior that flares any time she feels scared when her fears are triggered, she tightens up, can’t ask for help, and lashes out.”

If a child hits, and is doing so because of feeling scared or vulnerable, it is especially important to address the behavior calmly. A child needs to feel safe and connected with you as the parent in addition to providing consistency when teaching and training a child in how to or not to engage with others. According to Dr. Joan Simeo Munson, for children between the ages of 18 – 20 months keep the instruction simple, while holding a child and telling him or her, “we don’t hit and it hurts”. Dr. Munson continues, for children 3-7 years old, they can begin to verbally communicate more of their experiences. Parents need to establish clear boundaries with their child and clear consequences, such as time at the park ends as soon as hitting happens. Children need to recognize hitting another child is severe and serious and results in loosing a privilege and consequence for behavior, especially if it places other children in a vulnerable situation.

Parents need to remember to not take personally the emotions of the child and to react emotionally and impulsively. Take time to recognize how the child is feeling and empathize with the child. Dr. Munson stated, “It’s easy to respond to your child’s aggression with yelling or anger, but remember, your child is looking to you for cues on how to control his impulses and have good behavior.” One method is to take a child’s hands, hold them, and focus on what his hands are for (helping, hugging, being gentle and kind to others, etc.) and not for harming and hitting others. It is important for the child to know they are connected with and that they are unconditionally loved.


Wipfler, P. 3 Tools to Stop the Hitting. Retrieved from

Munson, J.S. Hitting, Biting and Kicking: How to Stop Aggressive Behavior in Young Children. Retrieved from
We’d be glad to talk more! Contact us with any questions!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

How to Have a Better Relationship Using these Techniques

Wednesday, May 11, 2016 @ 2:24 PM

In sports there are techniques one needs to learn to become proficient to perform well. But even with techniques it may not give you the best edge for the "perfect shot". According to most expert golfers the course management plays a role in how well one can do. So what is course management and how does that affect outcomes for success? Knowledge of course management could take one from an amateur to a pro golfer.

To calculate the best course management and to provide golfers the best opportunity to do well consider the following five criteria represented by the acronym SPEED.

S tatus of the turf
P rincipal resources
E nvironmental conditions
E xpertise of the golfers
D esign

There are also other variables that need to be calculated to ensure accuracy in the movement of the ball. Variables such as weather conditions along with the wind velocity could alter the balls movement and produce an undesirable outcome.

Let us now look at how intentional relationship management can bring us to a successful and how we can use S.P.E.E.D. to navigate the potential sandpits and other obstacles that come with all couples.

S tatus of the Relationship: Are we in content mode or in conflict?
P rincipal Resources: Mentors, church support group, stress relievers etc.
E nvironmental Conditions: Dual parent income household, time management problems,family, career and work stressors.
E xpertise: Is our knowledge base sufficient to navigate issues? Do we need an expert in relationship dynamics?
D esign: What is the vision of our marriage? What's our plan for the future?

Utilizing SPEED can fast forward a relationship into a much more positive experience by gaining knowledge for better navigation of difficult events encountered. The knowledge provides a proactive approach and create preventative measures to offset unforeseen events creating healthier communication in the relationship. Knowledge in relationships is powerful and provides confidence in managing the course of the relationship.

In relationships, much like golfing, achieving a great relationship requires couples to be flexible, willing and committed to working with their partner. The "perfect shot" will come when the players have gained knowledge, repetitive practice and a plan to offset the variables that affect performance. The unforeseen variables such as family, job, career changes can be navigated with the right education and support.

Put your relationship on the fast pace course where the green is always greener with good relationship.