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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Debriefing Retreat

Tuesday, January 18, 2022 @ 2:48 PM

Have you ever planned a trip for business or ministry and then said, “While I’m there, I may as well take a few extra days and visit some sites in the area?” Combining vacation time with business travel is common. But what about combining vacation time with reflection time and personal growth?
One solution might be a vacation for self care. Engaging in down-time activity to give your body rest is one thing, but evaluating and discovering new ways of improving your mental, emotional, and spiritual status can take vacation to a higher level. Especially if your job or ministry is in people helping business, the everyday wear and tear and built up stressors can be weighing much more heavily than you, or even people in closest relationship to you, can recognize.
A number of years ago I discovered a model of personal debriefing for Christian missionaries that has helped thousands find new vitality and meaning for their work. The Le Rucher model of debriefing is a guided 5 day rest, for personal reflection, sharing your story, and finding new perspectives from God. Not only for missionaries, this is a proven method for all leaders to assess events of life and ministry in a safe, confidential, and supportive environment. It is a structured progression through stressors, associated losses, adjustments, and recovery of hopes and dreams. The result is fresh vision and energy for re-engagement.
My wife and I benefited as participants in this model ourselves. I also trained and became a certified debriefer in the model. I now offer the debriefing as a package with a stay at our Blue Rock Bed and Breakfast. More is described at http://bluerockbnb.com/healing/debriefing.htm . I encourage all Christian pastors, missionaries, ministry or business leaders to consider this for making the most of your next vacation or rest time. These five days of debriefing is a perfect way to begin a several month sabbatical or scheduled down time.
Call us or email to schedule a time for debriefing in Lancaster County Pennsylvania.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Level Up Parenting - new session starting soon

Thursday, January 13, 2022 @ 4:28 PM

Level Up Life LLC

Level Up Parenting is a group designed to help you connect and better understand your children. The group consists of week 1 - Video lesson on a parenting skill; week 2 - video lesson showing you an activity you can do with your child to help them learn more about topics from emotional intelligence to social relationships; week 3 - live online Zoom parent meeting (which will be recorded) where questions are answered and parents can share and find support; week 4 - blind bag family adventure activity (a surprise activity to do as a family).

The idea behind this group is that it can be done on your own time, at your own pace since schedules are tight as parents. It is hard to find time for yourself or catching up with other parents. But as parents, we are always doing the best we can and it is nice to have a place to voice our wins, concerns or bounce ideas off one another.

Join our waitlist by visiting www.level-up-life.org and click on contact us or join waitlist.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Habits and Anxiety

Tuesday, December 28, 2021 @ 12:03 PM

Can the simple act of thinking about a new project coming up or preparing for a holiday dinner lead to shortness of breath, heart palpitations, or panic attacks? Habits, whether good or bad play a huge role in our mental and physical health, success, and quality of our relationships. Our habits affect every area of our lives. Acts of anxiety can be embedded in your habits. Avoiding or pretending that you aren’t having these experiences doesn’t help. In fact, it only makes things worse. Physical signs of anxiety in everyday life can look like you are sweating, shaking, experiencing nausea, having to use the restroom more frequently, exhaustion, muscle weakness, dizziness, or irregular body temperature. Is this you?

In our society, we have learned how to cope with adversity and uncertainty. We take on risks in an overly apprehensive manner instead of processing what is happening and dealing with the anxiety of what has come before us. After a while, these apprehensive feelings begin to feel natural and normal. Therefore, unhealthy coping mechanisms become a habit resulting in unconscious behaviors. These behaviors can be embedded in our personalities. These habits can look like nail-biting, skin picking, hair pulling, cleaning too much or too little, hand washing, or substance addiction. This shows insecurity within the anxiety you are experiencing. Is this you?

This can be overcome by learning to cope with risk, uncertainty, and adversity in healthy ways. Recovering involves identifying and exchanging coping behaviors with healthy coping behaviors. Anxiety exists inside your habits that make up your everyday life. Habits are sticky. They don’t just go away. Depression and anxiety can show in our habits within our interactions. Anxiety habits can be prevalent in smoking, eating disorders, financial mismanagement, and much more. Many find as they overcome these bad habits and replace them with good habits, their lives change. How can you make healthy changes?

BECOME SELF AWARE
Pay attention to how you are responding to different scenarios and recognize potential triggers. While also paying attention to different scenarios, also pay attention to how your body is responding to the situations where you are feeling anxiety. The following are some potential examples:

· Perhaps you are unmotivated to do a task, you review your social media, you feel more anxious

· Perhaps you have an upcoming assignment or deadline coming up at work, you grab a snack to eat to distract the anxiety you feel.

· When you experience anxiety, you become more worried about it, then you feel more anxious

Proverbs 14:8 says, “The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way, but the folly of fools is deceiving. Keeping an account of triggers helps to recognize potential triggers and will help to enable you to live a more peaceful life.

PLAN
Learn about and create new coping mechanisms so that you have a catalog of additional coping behaviors to replace the unhealthy ones. Exercising mindfulness can be a healthy way to overcome the worry and anxiety you are feeling. Have patience with yourself and repeat the healthy behaviors until it becomes normal. Healthy habits can look like cooking, learning to cook healthy meals, spending time outside, reading, prayer, devotions, meditating, cleaning, and journaling. It may feel different but it will feel more normal over time.

REMOVE NEGATIVE SELF-TALK
Proverbs 23:7 says, “So as a man thinketh, so is he.” Life and death are in the power of the tongue. Therefore, while being organic about your situation, it is also important to speak life into what you desire to change. Affirmations are a powerful tool in assisting with changing the narrative.

REWARD MILESTONES
Don’t look at the end goal but reward the milestones that you make along the way. Reward yourself as you become more self-aware

COUNSELING SUPPORT CAN HELP
If you or someone you know needs a safe place to develop healthy habits and form strategies to remove bad anxiety-filled habits in your life and live a healthier lifestyle, counseling support is available. Call 443-860-6870 to schedule an appointment today.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Tips and Reminders for Coping with Brain Injury

Monday, December 27, 2021 @ 12:11 PM

MedCentre PLLC

Surviving and Living with Brain Injury can be a challenging life experience. There are typically a host of treatments and therapies that are usually prescribed on the road back to some essence of recovery...

Here are some Quick Medication Tips and Reminders while Coping with Traumatic Brain Injury.

Has coping been rough, do you need to talk about it - Please reach out to us!

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Grateful For the Silver Lining by Caroline McMillan The New Life Group

Tuesday, November 23, 2021 @ 9:01 PM

Thankfulness is in season right now. The leaves turn color, the air is crisp, and everyone begins to think of family and home as the holidays approach. Thanksgiving, in particular, highlights those wonderful things in our lives we are grateful for. But sometimes we forget to be thankful for more than just the easy basics: food, shelter, and love.

Being grateful for all the good things we have can be easy. We fill up our lists with warmth, joy, a good bed, health, our favorite celebrity, and our paycheck (even if we’re not so hot about our job). But what about that friend who takes advantage of your hospitality, or the boss who’s never happy no matter what you do? What about the cold weather ramping up your energy bill? Can we be grateful for these things too?

The answer is, unequivocally, “Yes!” Perhaps your impinging friend helps you cultivate patience and set limits or your boss’s unreasonably high expectations do, maddeningly enough, make your work better. Or maybe the cold weather encourages you to spend more time with your family--whether that’s inside playing board games or outside shooting hoops to keep warm. The trick is to find the silver lining to your obstacles and be thankful for the whole package.

A life without difficulties isn’t very interesting. Think of all the classic stories that capitalize on problems to create things a character is thankful for. Without the betrayal of his friend in The Count of Monte Cristo, Edmond Dantes would never have found the old priest’s treasure and become an educated, wealthy man of good standing in the community. Without Kitty’s embarrassing elopement in Pride and Prejudice, Lizzie would never have seen just how much Mr. Darcy loved her. Without a family in The Blind Side, Michael Oher would never have met Leigh Ann Tuoy and been inspired to become a star football player by capitalizing on his God-given gifts. The struggles in these stories make the endings sweet.

Perhaps that is why the struggles of a young woman in ancient times named Mary, who becomes pregnant out of wedlock, is so poignant even today. Luckily, her husband-to-be, Joseph, (who we all know is definitely not the father) takes her as his wife anyway but life still isn’t easy for them. With a census called, the young couple must travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem when Mary is nearing her pregnancy term.

On a donkey and traveling slowly, they reach Bethlehem after an arduous week of travel. As they near the little town, Mary goes into labor. Unfortunately, many people have come to Bethlehem for the census and every inn is full. Joseph knocks on door after door looking for a place to stay but no one can spare them room. Finally, an innkeeper takes pity and offers them a place in his stable. While it’s no five star hotel, they can’t wait any longer and Mary gives birth surrounded by cattle, goats, and sheep.

For the birth of a healthy baby boy, Mary and Joseph, as normal parents would be thankful but they know there is much more to be grateful for. They know that their child is the son of God and they are the earthly parents of their Savior whom Mary names Jesus. But the true payoff comes some thirty years later as Mary agonizes over her beloved son's crucifixion. Her pain is short-lived, though, when he is raised from the dead three days later. While she doesn't understand the full implications of what has happened, her son has just saved every believing person from the grips of Satan.

This isn't just any story--it's the story of redemption for the world. While it isn't Christmas yet, we can still be thankful for the sacrifices Mary and Joseph made as the bewildered parents of our Savior. Without a Parenting the Savior of the World for Dummies guidebook, I imagine there were many times they were truly flummoxed. And we can be truly grateful for the life Jesus lived and surrendered to save us.

Being thankful isn't always easy. I'm sure there were times when Mary and Joseph were at their wits end and not feeling especially grateful for the task God gave them of raising Jesus. But the silver lining never goes away. Our job is to find it and make sure we're always thankful for that. Without struggles, the end result just wouldn't be the same. So, while thankfulness is in season, remember to be thankful for the things driving you nuts because they're just as important as the good things in life.

The New Life Group ~ Pleasant Hill

140 Gregory Lane, Ste. 250

Pleasant Hill, CA 94523

(925) 351 7240

kithill@thenewlifegroup.org


Resources

New Life Ministries:

Cloud, Townsend, Stoop, Arterburn, Hubbard, Yerkovich and the whole gang. Rich material for growth at home, church and work!

John C. Maxwell Team

A leaership legacy continuing to make a powerful impact in lives and leadership circles - Call or email for seminars and or coaching. Ask about our MasterMind Groups!


Academic Consulting & Editing Team:

Got Dissertation? Got RFP? We do research papers! Research design, proposals and editing. Argosy University certified.


the New Life group

140 Gregory Lane, Suite 250

Pleasant Hill, Ca 94523

Office - 925 798 4551

Cell - 925 351 7240


kithill@aol.com

New Life Network member’s office, Pleasant Hill

John C. Maxwell Team – Founding Partner & Consultant


Our Staff

Mark S. Collins, M.S., LMFT

Kit Hill, Ed. D., LMFT - Director

kithill@aol.com


https://newlifenetworkpleasanthill.wordpress.com


https://kithillcounselingandconsulting.wordpress.com


The New Life Group

thenewlifegroup.org

925 351 7240

The New Life Group | thenewlifegroup.org


The New Life Group | 140 Gregory Ln, Suite 250, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
kithilleddlmft@live.com

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Anger Management (Online)

Sunday, October 24, 2021 @ 6:11 PM

Our anger management, online group therapy is designed to improve coping and problem solving skills.

-Learn how to identify and resolve thoughts that trigger anger before it becomes a problem.
-Recognize warning signs and red flags that can lead to anger.
-Discover the relationship between your thoughts and actions and how you can improve your mindset for more favorable actions.
-Learn more effective ways of communicating to improve your interactions and relationships with others.

New Season Counseling provides online counseling for individuals, couples, families and groups. If you or someone you know is in need of counseling don't hesitate to contact us.

Premarital Counseling (Online)

Sunday, October 24, 2021 @ 6:07 PM

Our Life-Together-Forever, online session is designed to serve couples seeking pre-marital education or to revive an already healthy relationship. As part of the "Twogether in Texas" program, it provides voluntary marriage and relationship education skills. Courses are available as individual or group sessions and will help you develop skills in:

-Communication
-Effective listening
-Problem solving
-Conflict resolution
-Goal setting
-Building healthy relationships

Completing the course will reduce your marriage license fee by $60 and waive the 72-hour waiting period. More importantly, discussing communication styles and expectations before marriage, you and your loved one can better understand and support each other in marriage.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Moving Forward After Covid-19 - Part 1 - Grief and Stages of Grief

Monday, October 11, 2021 @ 6:28 PM

As we transition out of lockdown and into a new normal, many of us may feel bittersweet. We are grateful for the opportunity to gather once again together and do the things we have been restricted from doing for so long, but we also may carry with us deep grief over what has happened this past year and a half. Whether we personally know people who have died or gotten very sick from Covid or just felt the trauma of a year of loneliness, isolation, and anxiety, it seems wrong to move forward without acknowledging the different losses we have all experienced. But to acknowledge our grief, we first have to understand what it is.

Many may want to choose to skip the mourning and run from the pain or numb their feelings of this past year with work, substances, alcohol, food, shopping, or engage in risky or destructive behaviors. Grieving is necessary because it helps you validate, understand, and acknowledge what or who you lost, but you don’t need to do it alone. Seek the support of safe friends and family members now that is possible. Also, seek professional support if you notice you are struggling on addressing it. We’ve all experienced loss to some degree this past year, so we all need the tools to understand our grief so we can move forward.

What is Grief?

Grief is defined in the dictionary as “deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone's death.” There are different stages of grief, which we will discuss next, but it is essentially that heavy feeling of sadness due to a loss that doesn’t seem to lift over time unless you process through it. People typically think it only has to do with someone they love dying, but you can be grieved over many different types of losses.

Types of Losses

While many people are grieving the loss of loved ones due to Covid, some are grieving the loss of friendships due to a lack of in-person connection, a marriage due to stress, missing celebrating special occasions like weddings, a new baby, graduations that were not possible to celebrate with family and friends, the loss of the sense of safety, loss of jobs, financial stability, the loss of time and not be able to work on goals, the impact of online school on students and parents, the loss of their mental stability trying to cope with everything going on in the country and world.


Stages of Grief

There are five generally understood stages of grief. They are:
· Denial
· Anger
· Bargaining
· Depression
· Acceptance

Not everyone goes through the stages in the same order, or even all the stages, but this is the generally recognized pattern of grief. There is also no common pace at which people move through the stages–it is different for everyone.

Denial
It is our mind’s natural reaction to feeling so overwhelmed by a loss that it feels it has no choice but to deny it. It is a self-protective mechanism–if we were to feel the pain of a great loss right away we might be completely crushed by it, or so our minds think. It’s easier at first to pretend it didn’t happen than to acknowledge something so precious to us has been lost. At the beginning of the pandemic, many of us (myself included) denied the seriousness of it. We thought it would be over within weeks. None of us could have foreseen just how destructive and all-consuming it would become. It was easier to see it as a small threat or inconvenience than to anticipate the incredible havoc it would wreak on our world. Only as it became apparent that the rates were going up and things were looking more and more grim were we forced to move from denial to anger.

Anger
On this stage we realize we can no longer deny the problem or loss and have to confront its existence. Naturally, that makes us angry. It is the second line of defense, the only way our fragile psyches know how to take some kind of action against the pain. Wherever we direct that anger (to God, to our spouse, toward ourselves), it has to be directed somewhere. And unfortunately, that usually causes more harm than good. Nevertheless, it is a step most of us must work through before we can move to the next stage. We’ve seen so much anger and outrage this past year over various political and social issues that have seemed to come to a head during the pandemic, amplified due to the already grieved state of our country. Anger is a natural response to a deep loss, but we must not stay stuck in it or there can be dangerous consequences.

Bargaining
The third stage of grief, bargaining, is when we get desperate. It’s when we’ve moved out of anger and simply are begging for some kind of relief from the pain. It can take on many forms, perhaps most commonly as trying to make a deal with God to relieve the pain. We are searching for any kind of reprieve we can get for our heavy souls, no matter what it takes. It may also look like regret, chastising ourselves for what we could have done differently to avoid the loss. While anger often turns outward, bargaining can become more inward-focused.

Depression
The fourth and sometimes longest-lasting stage is depression. This is what many people equate to grief itself, but it is in fact only a stage of grief. Most people are familiar with depression in general, but this kind of depression is specifically related to your loss, which in some ways can make it easier to heal from than general depression that has no seeming “cause.” Please take into consideration that children and youth signs of depression may be demonstrated with anger.

Acceptance
Finally, if you are able to move through the previous four stages, you will eventually come to acceptance. Acceptance is not forgetting or being completely okay with what has happened, but rather acknowledging that the loss impacted you but you are able to move forward with hope. In this stage, emotions have been recognized, accepted, and expressed. In this stage, one can realize the magnitude of the experience and understand that he/she will be fine. As the pandemic seems to come to a close, I pray that we can collectively reach the stage of acceptance and allow the losses that we have experienced to shape us into more compassionate and loving people who don’t take health and community for granted.

Going through the five stages of grief is a painful but necessary process for true growth and healing. Wherever you find yourself in this cycle, know that you are not alone and so many people are in the same stage as you. Reach out for support from your community, family and friends. If you notice that this is not enough, seek the help of a professional counselor to help you work through the stages. There is no loss too small or too great to heal from!


https://www.healthline.com/health/stages-of-grief#order

Friday, September 24, 2021

Betrayal

Friday, September 24, 2021 @ 10:49 AM

How does a person heal from the betrayal of a friend, loved one, or a close relationship? I hear this question often in my office. I also have had to struggle with this in my personal life. I have had individuals and even churches talk about me to others instead of coming to me and finding out the truth. I can tell you it hurts. Even as I write this, it is in the middle of the night; I cannot sleep because of the betrayal of someone close to me. The first step of moving on from betrayal is searching yourself to see if the betrayal is because of something you did to the other person and if you need to apologize for something and seek forgiveness. Having a trusted advisor, your spouse, or a pastor work you through this process can be helpful. It is a good idea to have someone look at the situation from their point of view and see if you did anything that could have resulted in the other person betraying you. If you identify something you did, this is not betrayal, it could be retribution, but that is for another blog! If the answer is no, nothing you did was malicious or ill intent; then it is time to start your inside healing from betrayal.
First, we need to know that giving to others, providing our time, money, emotional support, wisdom will in itself open us up for betrayal. Psalms 41:1 King David says, "Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor! The LORD rescues them when they are in trouble." This entire chapter of Psalms talks about the person who gives to the poor. That person is rescued from the LORD when they are in trouble. The next verse states that God will provide them with prosperity and rescue them from their enemies. David understood that giving to those who are poorer than himself is a good thing, but he also knew that God would rescue him when it goes sideways (notice I said when it goes sideways, not if). Amid a betrayal, we must remember that the joy of giving to others does not come from the giving; it is directly from God. We gain supernatural joy from God, so we can still find joy and know that God will rescue us in times of trouble and betrayal!
Secondly, in verse 9 of chapter 41, David says, "Even my best friend, the one I trusted completely, the one who shared my food, has turned against me." You need to understand that it is those closest to us that can hurt us the most. They know the right words to say to cut us to the bone! This is so hard because we believe that those closest to us will never let us down, I am sorry to tell you this, but that is just downright false! Yes, you heard me correctly; those closest can hurt us the most, so what do we do? Do we stop letting others close to us? I would say NO! I have far more friends that have not betrayed me than those who do. So, what do we do? We accept it. We will be let down, but we also will be cared for by our true friends.
Third, remember your position. Verse 11-12, "I know you are pleased with me, for you have not let my enemies triumph over me." Being a follower of Jesus, we can know absolutely that God is pleased with us. We can go into his presence, and in God's eyes, we are innocent, even from the most significant betrayal our enemy can try to throw at us. They will not triumph over you, remember this, pray this and live your life knowing that whatever others say about you, God, the creator of everything, is pleased with you! “You have preserved my life because I am innocent; you have brought me into your presence forever."
If you are struggling with the pain of betrayal, pray this prayer, "God help me to see the joy that you give to me and to stop focusing on the pain this person has caused me. Father, open my eyes to the love I receive from you and my friends who genuinely care for me. Bless my enemies Father, and may they find joy and happiness in their life! Would you please help me to focus on you and not the betrayal? I know you are pleased in me, and you will make me prosper. I love you, God, Amen.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Paracletos Counseling Certification training -- October 14-16, 2021

Monday, September 6, 2021 @ 8:50 PM

Dr. Lehome' Bliss

Join us for a dynamic 3-day training leading to certification as a Paracletos Counseling Specialist. Help your clients achieve whole person wellness using our techniques to uncover root causes and identify hidden stressors.

Paracletos Counseling Mind Care can be customized to meet the needs of each client. Care for the mind God's way by combining Biblical prescriptions with evidence-based therapeutic techniques.

Find out more today. Visit our website: paracletosinstitute.org or call Dr. Bliss at 678-522-5361.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Finding Peace in Christ: A Mindfulness Experience

Monday, August 30, 2021 @ 3:46 PM

Generations Church

This past year has been a challenge. Have you felt overwhelmed by stress or fear? Have you wondered where God has been in your life? This 2 hour seminar is designed to help you create moments of stillness through mindfulness meditation. We will discuss what God has to say about mindfulness, how to cultivate it, and how it applies to our faith as Christians. To sign up or to request more information, please email therapywithdavid21@gmail.com. The class is $20. The class will take place at Generations Church: 18422 Bloomfield Ave, Cerritos, CA 90703.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Let's peer into the beginning of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy & CBT

Monday, August 23, 2021 @ 6:13 PM

Let's take. journey into the realm of The Lord's insight, wisdom, revelation and knowledge. I mean, after all, He is Alpha and Omega, beginning and The End, Author and Finisher of our Faith, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Omniscient...well, you get the point.

Genesis 4:3-10, we see Cain and Abel. We can read through this and see the pattern of THOUGHT, EMOTIONS, DECISION, BEHAVIOR. Abel brought his best, Cain did not, and The Lord respected it. See verse 5, Cain was VERY angry AND his countenance fell. The Lord in His mercy gave Cain time, alternative thoughts and a way out in verses 6-7 (DECISION), and Cain let the emotions ride....BEHAVIOR in verse 8.

A thought came, emotions from the thought(s) arose, decision(s) were then made and was at the crossroads of the decision, which gave birth to a maladaptive behavior.

What a privilege it is to administer the love of god, The Word of God and walk in the wisdom of God, with and through, the mind of Christ, to assist people in their journey to health and wholeness!

Walk a Mile With Me Virtual Support Group

Monday, August 23, 2021 @ 2:10 PM

The focus of our group is to create a safe place of healing for those wanting to engage in conversation and self-expression related to the complexities as well as triumphs related to depression and anxiety. Topics include but are not limited to:

Various physical and mental symptoms of depression and anxiety
Fear and how it affects those dealing with depression and anxiety
Stress Management
Deep breathing techniques
Muscle relaxation
Identifying fearful self-talk with realistic thinking
Spirituality
Community Connection

Where: https://doxy.me/elishasleectc

Time: Each Tuesday starting September 14, 9:00-11:00 am Through October 26

Space is limited and pre-registration is required to save your spot. Please complete the registration form to schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation.

3 Ways College Students Can Manage and Cope With Anxiety

Monday, August 23, 2021 @ 1:42 PM

Is the pressure of everyday life keeping you up at night?

Are you having emotional outbursts as it feels like the walls are closing in dealing with everyday tasks?

Do your muscles tighten or tense up at the thought of an upcoming paper or project?

What you are experiencing are signs of you feeling overwhelmed. Here are three tips to assist in managing anxiety.

1.MAINTAIN A REGULAR ROUTINE OF PRAYER AND BIBLE READING

Maintaining a routine of spending time in God’s Word and prayer can center you and allow your perspective in a particular situation to be shifted. Establishing and strengthening your personal relationship with Christ can provide you with courage in times that you need to be brave. You can find support in times where you may feel like the situation is helpless. Hope when you may feel like the situation is hopeless. Increase your faith when situations appear to be impossible to overcome.

Studying God’s love can change how you see yourself and redefine how you view God’s love in your personal life and how you can show God’s love towards others. As you conduct these studies, you can create a vision board reflecting how God sees you. Having a visual picture reflecting images of how God sees you can be a daily encouragement that you can overcome the daily stressors of everyday life.

Meditating on the promises of God and speaking to them over yourself can help to remind you that where you start out at is not where you stay. This can be an encouragement when dealing with difficult challenges and facing stressors head-on.

2.BREATHING EXERCISES

The way that you breathe inhale and exhale can reflect the level of tension that your body is taking in. Breathing exercises are a form of deep relaxation technique that assists in managing anxiety. Breathing exercises can help to decrease

· Your heart rate

· Your respiration rates

· Your blood pressure

· Your skeletal muscle tensions

· Your metabolic rate

· Your oxygen consumption

· Insomnia and fatigue

· Migraines and headaches

· Asthma

· Headaches

· Self-blame

Studies show that breathing exercises can improve

· Skin resistance

· Increase wave activity in the brain

· Energy level and productivity

· Concentration

· Memory

· Stress builds up over time

· Self-confidence

Tension can show in shallow breathing and rapidly high in the chest. When you are relaxed, you breathe more fully and deeply. Abdominal breathing allows you to breathe more fully, deeply, and become more relaxed. This type of breathing:

· Increases oxygen supply to the brain and muscle

· Stimulates the nervous system

· Encourages greater feelings of connectedness between mind and body.

· Releases the body’s toxic substances in a holistic manner

Here is an exercise you can try:

· Put your hand on your abdomen and beneath your rib cage

· Inhale through your nose. Your hand should rise as you do this.

· Do a full breath. Pause. Exhale slowly through your nose or mouth

Studies show that regular practice of deep relaxation for 20-30 minutes a day can produce a more relaxed response.

3.RECOGNIZING AND MANAGING TRIGGERS OF ANXIETY

A trigger of anxiety is a fear of the unknown and feeling as if you are out of control. You may be constantly asking yourself what-if questions and playing different scenarios in your mind reflecting failure. This can lead to depression and muscle tension in your back, shoulders, chest, or stomach.

Creating a schedule where you include leisure activities can help you feel like you have control. The feeling of control and reduce stress and help you to have a more positive outlook in how you approach everyday activities. Having someone to talk to and develop a plan on how to manage your stress can help.

You’ll have a safe place to explore your feeling and discover an anxiety treatment plan that will meet your unique needs. Counseling can provide a place where you will know that you are understood and validated. Call 443-860-6870 and make an appointment for your no-cost initial consultation.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

What is the Relationship Between Imposter Syndrome and Depression?

Wednesday, August 18, 2021 @ 5:43 PM

You’ve worked hard to be in your current position. Finally, you made it. But perhaps:

• You feel like a fraud.
• You feel like you are underserving of everything you have worked for.
• You may feel like you aren’t smart enough
• You may feel like you aren’t good enough
• You think success is difficult to achieve
• You think you are incompetent despite showing otherwise in your performance
• You are afraid of not meeting other people’s expectations and letting them down
• You feel like you are your past successes and hard work was due to luck
• You feel uncomfortable receiving praise or congratulations
• You are disappointed over your current accomplishments. You feel like you could have done
better despite your accomplishment and doubt your success.
• You put yourself in constant pressure to achieve better than you did before.

You may feel this way at your place of employment, but it can also affect other areas of life. It can affect anyone from athletes, scientists, or office workers. Those who are high achievers are more commonly known to experience Imposter Syndrome. These feelings of inadequacy can bring you to a place of feeling stressed, anxious, and depressed.

How Does Someone Experience Depression When Dealing with Imposter Syndrome?

Psychologists coined this term in the 1970s as there appeared to be more professional women struggling with self-doubt, feeling incompetent, and expressed fears of not performing well. No matter how hard you try, you are never good enough nor worthy of the good that you are receiving from others. As a result, you may feel:

• Helplessness
• Worried all the time
• Racing thoughts
• Having the strong desire to isolate yourself from others because you don’t want them to see
the real you

Depression comes as you recognize that you can never reach the level of competence that you think you should have. Therefore, nothing you do is ever good enough. As a result, you may decide to give up as the situation appears to be something you can never resolve.

How Does Someone Who Struggles with Imposter Syndrome Display This Type of Behavior?

You can display yourself as someone who is dealing with Imposter Syndrome in different types of ways:

• Perfectionist – You are perfect and show yourself to be perfect, despite your physical and mental health. You are constantly wearing a mask, and no one sees the real you.
• Superwoman/ Superman – You are constantly saving the day. You are a work addict and constantly pushing yourself. You work all the time and have no balance nor time for a social life nor self-care.
• Natural Genius – You have big dreams and lofty goals. Instead of scaling, you will set up a goal to do the big things on the first try.
• Expert – You never feel like you are good enough, despite the time you’ve spent in learning your craft, gaining your degrees, and certifications.

As you can see, it is easy to feel frustrated, stressed, and anxious because no one can meet the expectations that you set for yourself. There are no set causes for someone who deals with imposter syndrome as it can be a variety of factors such as upbringing, personality, temperament, and genetic make-up.

What Can You Do to Overcome Depression and Imposter Syndrome?

There are five things you can do to overcome Imposter Syndrome:

1. Prayer and Spending time in God’s Word – Take time out of your day to pray and read the Bible. Focus on Scriptures that reference how God sees you and how much He loves you.
2. Acknowledge – Before overcoming any challenge is to admit the challenge exists. From there, you can develop a strategy to begin to change your mindset.
3. Take Steps to Have a Balanced Lifestyle – Rediscover what you like about yourself and what makes you happy. Have fun with it and do those activities. Get out of your comfort zone and try doing new things.
4. Pay Attention to Your Health – Make your health a priority. Pay attention to your diet and exercise routine. Studies have shown that having a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy exercise routine can alter our perspective in a positive way.
5. Talk to someone - Talking to a good friend or counselor regarding how you are feeling can help you in your healing journey.

Get Help Today

You don’t have to continue feeling like you are struggling with Imposter Syndrome and Depression. You will not be alone in your healing journey. It is a journey that I will walk along with you. As you receive counseling and support, you will find joy again.

Call 443-860-6870 for your no-cost initial consultation today.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Ladies Mental Health Peer Groups: "Beh Best"

Monday, August 16, 2021 @ 10:10 PM

MedCentre PLLC

Calling on ladies to get together, support one another via virtual Zoom groups - Let's "kiki" or chat!

Women's Mental Health

Monday, August 16, 2021 @ 10:04 PM

MedCentre PLLC

Life issues for support

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Are You A Highly Sensitive Person

Thursday, July 29, 2021 @ 4:19 PM

If you are a highly sensitive person (HSP), you may often hear people say things to you that sound like these:

Just STOP being sooooo sensitive!
The world does not revolve around YOU!
You need a break!
You are over-reacting!

Many of my clients are HSPs. They seem to feel things more deeply than others. They seem to be more sensitive to – well, to everything. They are often more sensitive to textures, sounds, lights, people, smells, the moods of others, and their own thoughts and emotions. They are also more spiritually sensitive. In many ways these people are gifted. These special people are the artists, musicians and worshippers that draw us to them because of the depth of their understanding and insight. If you are or someone you know is an HSP, this article may help to understand the challenges you face and how to develop strategies for coping better with the challenges faced by an HSP.

To read the full article please go to: https://www.experiencematterscounseling.com/post/highly-sensitive-people

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

10 Ways to Manage Social Anxiety as Restrictions Lift

Wednesday, July 21, 2021 @ 9:12 PM

How have you been navigating through post-pandemic social gatherings? I was in a meeting the other day where we discussed this very topic. While restrictions are being lifted, many people are not comfortable with going out and resuming the life they had before the pandemic. From the conversations I have had with several colleagues, you are not alone if you are currently feeling this way. It may even feel particularly worse for you if suffer from social anxiety.

Levels of anxiety can increase when you feel like something is beyond your realm of control, and this may be one reason why you are feeling reluctant to resume your former life post-pandemic. One remedy for this is to plan. Having a plan or strategy will help you feel more comfortable you head back out into the world.

HAVE A PLAN
What you include in your plan or strategy for gathering in groups may vary to the outing or the group of people that you are going to be around. It is okay for your plan to look different and not be the same every time.

1. Bring a Friend. One thing to consider when going to social gatherings is bringing a friend. It always helps to have someone with you. Having a good friend to lean on can help you build your confidence when going into uncomfortable spaces.

2. Limit Time. There is not a rule book that states that you must stay the entire time at an engagement. If attending an event is overwhelming, then limit the time you spend there. Having control of your time can help to lessen the anxiety you may be feeling when attending the event.

3. Exercise. Taking time to exercise and work out increases endorphins that help relieve stress. Regular exercise helps to make you feel more comfortable in stressful situations. You are setting yourself up for success by exercising regularly.

4. Do a Practice Run. Taking a drive a few days before the event and visualizing what the experience may be like or what it could be a way to make you feel calmer about attending the event.

5. Socialize in Other Ways. Many events have become hybrid with an option to choose whether to meet at a location or virtually. You can continue to meet others online and socialize if you are uncomfortable meeting people in person.

6. Visualization. Visualize yourself at the event. Seeing yourself at the event and imagining different scenarios can help calm any fears of what may or may not occur at the event.

7. Deep Breathing. Deep breathing helps to regulate digestive issues, heartbeat, rapid breathing, and blood flow. It also helps to avoid the response of fight or flight when facing scary situations.

8. Gratitude. Living a life in a place of gratefulness helps to lessen anxiety. Focusing on the good things and the positive people in your life instead of what is missing or what you don’t have can help change the perspective of upcoming stressful events.

9. Compassion. Show yourself and others compassion. People are at different places when it comes to deciding how to navigate through life as restrictions start to lift. Proverbs 12:25 says, “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” Do what makes you feel comfortable while respecting others’ choices in the process.

10. Prayer and Meditation. Prayer and meditation of Scriptures can also help with getting relief from anxiety.


GET HELP TODAY
Do you need help figuring out what plan will work for you? Getting the support of counseling can help you with the anxiety you may be feeling. Call 443-860-6870 to schedule a no-charge initial counseling session today.

3 Ways Depression Affects the Brain

Wednesday, July 21, 2021 @ 9:07 PM

Have you had a bad mood that you cannot shake?

Are you constantly feeling sad and hopeless?

Are you having difficulty sleeping or are you sleeping too much?

Are you always tired?

Have you experienced weight gain or loss?

Are you experiencing restlessness?

Is your sadness stemming from feelings of shame or guilt?

Are you having difficulty concentrating?

Do you have the desire to escape and run away from your problems?

You are not alone. Depression is a common mental illness affecting many people. It can be debilitating and cause serious complications. Sadness can impact the body by increasing fatigue, cause digestive issues, and produce chronic pain. Untreated depression has the capacity of altering the brain, making the episodes worse.

1. DEPRESSION CAN AFFECT CORTISOL AND MEMORY IN THE BRAIN

The hippocampus releases the hormone cortisol. When there are stressors, it floods the hippocampus thereby stunting the growth of neurons. When the hippocampus shrinks in size, there can be memory loss. The problems of memory can show through forgetfulness or bouts of confusion that you may have when in conversation with someone. As a result, studies have shown that there is a tie between short-term memory loss and depression.

2. DEPRESSION CAN AFFECT YOUR EMOTIONAL RESPONSES – THE AMYGDALA

When you are depressed, the amygdala in your brain can be enlarged. When the amygdala is enlarged, it becomes more active. This can lead to deep disturbances, changes in how you handle anxiety, as well as other hormones. It is not uncommon for people who have depression to also experience anxiety. Side effects include:

· Memory problems

· Difficulty thinking clearly

· Guilty feelings or feelings of hopelessness

· No motivation

· Sleep or appetite problems

· Anxiety

As a result of the amygdala being enlarged, you may experience more intensity within the emotions you have. For instance, if you’re remembering a painful memory, then the pain of that experience will be more intense than it would be for someone who isn’t depressed.

3. DEPRESSION CAN AFFECT INFLAMMATION IN YOUR BODY – MEMORY AND MOOD

Studies have shown that there is a link between inflammation and the brain. The more depressed you may be, the more problems you may have with depression. Reduced oxygen is linked to depression in the body. An inadequate amount of oxygen can lead to inflammation within the brain. The death of brain cells has an impact on memory and mood. It can also speed up aging within the brain.

THE TIE
The correlation between depression and how it affects the brain is yin and yang. This connection between depression and how it affects the brain can be deep and widespread. Unfortunately, it can worsen over time. But there is hope. Studies show that brain circuitry is affected by joy, healthy pleasures, and positive emotions. What do you enjoy doing? Doing things we like focusing on things we can control, helping someone, enjoying a good meal, or taking a walk are ways to activate brain circuitry and reverse depression. Depression, when treated, can be life-changing and you can experience better health in your physical body.

Perhaps you have been sad for so long you do not remember what brings your joy. You want to get better but do not know-how. Working with a counselor can help you rediscover what makes you happy and what brings you joy. While you may no remember what made you happy, through counseling, you can discover yourself again.

You will not be alone in your healing journey. It is a journey that I will walk along with you. With counseling and support, you will find joy again.

Call 443-860-6870 for your no-cost initial consultation today.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Managing Work Stress

Monday, July 19, 2021 @ 6:59 PM

WHAT IS STRESS?

Most experts define stress as a response to life situations
like the following:


• Having too many responsibilities
• Having vague or confusing expectations
• Having to do unpleasant tasks
• Facing too many distractions
• Doing work one is not trained for
• Working with difficult people
• Being bored
• Being sick
• Experiencing too many changes
• Being in physical danger
• Living or working in a crowded space
• Getting insufficient exercise
• Getting poor nutrition
• Getting insufficient sleep
• Getting insufficient time to relax
• Being dissatisfied with one’s physical appearance
• Abusing drugs or alcohol


WHAT CAUSES STRESS?

Stress has become a factor in our culture in the last 20 years because of things that were originally designed to make life less stressful. Conveniences such as ATM machines, microwave ovens, and fax machines have made life easier in many ways, but they also have woven an expectation of instant gratification into our culture. And this causes stress. Here are a few other examples of products and services that were invented to make life more efficient and productive, but which sometimes seem instead to add to stress:


• 24-hour stores and restaurants
• 1-hour photo developing
• Drive-thru fast food
• 10-minute oil changes
• The Internet
• Catalog and online shopping
• Personal computers
• E-mail
• Headline news
• 30-minute pizza delivery



WHAT CAUSES STRESS AT WORK?

King Solomon indicates in Ecclesiastes that dissatisfaction causes stress at work. Almost everyone complains of stress at work these days. It often results from one of the following:


• Having too much or too little work to do
• Having to do work that is very complicated and
demanding
• Having to do work that is boring and repetitive
• Having unclear goals and expectations
• Having to follow changing or confusing procedures
• Being at a career dead end
• Working in a company with an impersonal management philosophy


WHOM DOES WORK STRESS AFFECT THE MOST?

Stress affects people in every type of work setting. People at the top of organizations suffer from stress because of excessive workloads, unrealistic expectations, and isolation. The phrase “it’s lonely at the top” has some truth to it.

Middle managers often experience stress because they have responsibility for the people who report to them but lack the control to execute what is expected. With the recent epidemic of corporate downsizing, middle managers have also been given greater and greater workloads. Managers who manage to keep their jobs often feel as if they are living in the shadow of termination. Professionals suffer from their own brand of stress, caused by monotony. Doctors, lawyers, and other professionals often perform the same kind of work for many years, resulting in boredom and desperation. Workers at the lower levels of today’s organizations often feel stress caused by boredom and the frustration of dealing with the public. They also may feel less successful than their coworkers in higher-level jobs and may feel stressed by their lack of status.


WHY HAS WORKPLACE STRESS GOTTEN WORSE?

The nature of work has changed. The fight-or-flight response to stress is ineffective in response to the stresses of life today.

The workplace has become decentralized. In many places, people no longer work together in one place, but may be scattered around the world or be working from home, connected by technology.

People change with each generation. Baby Boomers differ from Generation Xers in terms of their values, their work ethic, and their definitions of success. These generational differences contribute
to stress at work.


DOES STRESS AFFECT WOMEN DIFFERENTLY?

Both genders experience stress. It affects women in some
unique ways, however. Here are a few of them:


• Overall, women are still paid less than men for the
same work.
• Women still face a “glass ceiling” as they climb the
corporate ladder. A recent report stated that only 2 percent of the members of top management of North American corporations are women.
• Women who choose to have children are usually
responsible for the logistics of childcare.
• Women with children often do more housework
when they get home than their husbands do.
• Compared to men, women with children also tend to
experience more guilt feelings about leaving their
children to go to work.


HOW CAN BUILDING HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS HELP YOU MANAGE STRESS?

The subject of how to build strong relationships fills many books. In the limited space of this handout, let’s look at the key components of this stress-reducing strategy.

Identify the sources of stress in your relationships. Write about them in a journal. Make a list of people who cause you stress and explore what the issues are.

Resolve the underlying issues. For each of the situations identified in the preceding step, assess what needs to happen to resolve it. Make a list and design a plan to improve the situation.

Learn skills to improve relationships. Relationship skills are learned. We are not born knowing how to get along well with others, and most of us learned only limited skills from our parents. Identify the skills you need to develop and make a plan for yourself. You can learn these skills by reading books, taking classes, or working with a therapist.

Avoid toxic people and situations. ( See Boundaries In Leadership by Henry Cloud) Some people have a toxic effect on you. If you can, limit the amount of time you spend in these situations. Look for opportunities to decline their invitations. When these people are family members, remind yourself that you don’t have to feel guilty about avoiding anyone who makes you feel bad about yourself. In work situations, look for ways to rearrange your schedule or your workspace to avoid interacting with such people.

Seek out positive people and situations. This step is the reverse of the previous step. Look for opportunities to spend more time with people and in situations that make you feel good. Think about people who make you feel good about yourself and look for ways to increase time with them.

Watch what you eat. Some foods amplify the stress response. These include:

• Caffeine stimulates the release of stress hormones. This increases heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen
flow to the heart. Ongoing exposure to caffeine can
harm the tissue of the heart.

• Refined sugar and processed flour are depleted of
needed vitamins. In times of stress, certain vitamins
help the body maintain the nervous and endocrine
systems.

• Too much salt can lead to excessive fluid retention.
This can lead to nervous tension and higher blood
pressure. Stress often adds to the problem by causing
increased blood pressure.
• Smoking not only causes disease and shortens life, it
leads to increased heart rate, blood pressure, and
respiration.

• Alcohol robs the body of nutrients that it might
otherwise use for cell growth and repair. Alcohol also
harms the liver and adds empty calories to the body.

• Eat more complex carbohydrates. (Examples
include fruits, vegetables, whole breads, cereals, and
beans.) This is especially important during times of
high stress.

• Get moving. The human body was designed to be
physically active. However, in most jobs today, people
sit most of the time. They hardly move at all, except
when it is time for coffee breaks or lunch. When faced
with stressors, we respond with our minds, not our
bodies. It is no wonder that many of us have a difficult
time responding to stressful events.
Exercise is one of the simplest and most effective
ways to respond to stress. Activity provides a natural
release for the body during its fight-or-flight state of
arousal. After exercising, the body returns to its normal
state of equilibrium, and one feels relaxed and
refreshed.

• Look for ways to let go of tension and anxiety.
Meditation and progressive relaxation are two valuable
ways to regenerate and refresh yourself. You can purchase meditation and relaxation audiotapes or record your own. This is especially important because your health and long life depend on minimizing stress
and achieving a sense of balance and well-being.


WHERE CAN I GO FOR MORE INFORMATION?

Cunningham, J. Barton. The Stress Management Sourcebook. Los Angeles, CA: Lowell House, 1997.

Hanson, Peter G. The Joy of Stress. Kansas City, MO:
Andrews & McMeel, 1985.

Hanson, Peter G. Stress for Success. New York: Doubleday, 1989.

Cloud. Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality – How Six Essential Qualities Determine Your Success in Business. New York: Harper Collins, 2006

Johnson, Spencer, Blanchard, Ken. One Minute Manager. New York: William Morrow, 2000.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

We're Overcoming Depression Group

Tuesday, June 8, 2021 @ 9:09 AM

Are you having a hard time doing everyday, routine tasks? Are you operating on low energy and it's a struggle to function? Are you finding that you are spending your days wearing a mask to operate throughout your day when you are really wanting to retreat to a dark place in seclusion?

Join others who are having similar experiences and wanting a safe space to share what they are feeling.

Where: We will be meeting via secure Telehealth.

When: June 10 at 7 pm. This support group will be running for eight weeks. Space will be limited to a group of seven.

Cost: $25 Registration Fee
$15 Weekly Group Meeting Fee

Our Group Meetings Will Focus On:

Recognizing signs and symptoms of depression
Identifying triggers and how to manage them
Distinguishing healthy and unhealthy relationships
Exploring temperament and how being sad can affect people differently
Mind/ body connection
Improving communication
Developing strategies to overcome depression
To enroll in the We're Overcoming Depression Group, call 443-860-6870.

Could There Be a Relationship Between the Inflammation In My Body And the Depression That I Am Experiencing?

Tuesday, June 8, 2021 @ 9:04 AM

Does it hurt to move and are you feeling sad at the same time?

· Are you experiencing fatigue, depression, and swelling while wondering if there is a connection between the three ailments?

The Bible gives examples of people who experienced extreme challenges of sadness and how they handled it. Job experienced excruciating pain and suffered great loss. He was a godly man who suffered great loss. He was a man of great stature that God bragged about in heaven. Even yet, in the story of Job, we learn that extreme sadness can affect the state of our physical body.

The short answer to these questions is yes, there could be a connection. Depression has become one of the most highly diagnosed disorders and disabilities in our country today. With that said, depression is not an inflammatory disorder. Instead, it can be a potential tie that can affect inflammation within the body. This tie is just beginning to be understood.

HOW IT WORKS
In addition, the problem of people experiencing depression is on the rise. There are many different variances and fluctuations of feeling sad, disappointed, or frustrated. Depression expressly affects the quality of life for those who are affected by chronic illnesses.

Inflammation pathways that interact with the brain interact with the multiple systems within the body. Depression can also trigger responses to stressors within the body which can lead to a prolonged inflammatory response.

Like many mental health disorders, depression was once thought to only affect what occurs in the mind. We know that this is no longer true as studies have shown that there is a relationship between depression and inflammation within the body. In addition, depression can also affect normal body functions. Sadly, most people do not get help for depression as they think that it is not something that can be treated.

HOW IT TIES TOGETHER

There can be several variables as to how a person can experience inflammation in their body while navigating through the dark cloud of depression. Childhood trauma, someone who is experiencing depression occurring historically within the family, people who have a sensitive immune system, or a person’s status in society are all factors that can affect the severity of inflammation within the body.

In addition to experiencing inflammation within your body in conjunction with depression, it is also common to experience fatigue. This further shows that there is a connection between fatigue, depression, and how it affects the immune system.

Inflammation within the body would include those suffering from Type 1 Diabetes, multiple sclerosis, lupus, or even rheumatoid arthritis. In other words, if you are experiencing arthritis or other chronic symptoms in your body and are also extremely sad, do not ignore what is happening. Infectious diseases, such as hepatitis and sepsis, have been linked to inflammatory response and has been found to increase the risk of depression. Even those who are pregnant moms, who are happening to experience inflammation from the pregnancy, also experience depression during this time.

THE REVERSE IS TRUE
Just as there is a connection between depression and inflammation, doing holistic treatments also can bring a positive result in the reverse direction as well. As take care of your physical health so you can function from day to day, taking care of your mental health can provide a lessening of physical ailments as a result of living a more holistic lifestyle.

In addition to seeking counseling, improvements in the reversal of inflammation and depression within the body are also evident with physical exercise. Having a regular exercise routine helps to improve depression and decrease inflammation.

An additional tie of experiencing a reversal of inflammation and depression is a change in diet. Reports have shown that those who have adopted a Mediterranean style diet or implementing a lifestyle of short-term fasting, have seen a reversal in depression and inflammation.

In addition to working through the challenges involved with improving physical health, navigating through those same challenges during a counseling session can bring improvement as well. Schedule an appointment for a no-cost initial counseling session today.

Friday, May 21, 2021

The New Life-Cloud & Townsend Books and Videos On Leadership And Life

Friday, May 21, 2021 @ 4:43 PM

Boundaries for Leaders
by Henry Cloud, Ph.D

“Why some people get results and others don’t”


Leadership Beyond Reason
by John Townsend, Ph.D

“How great leaders succeed by harnessing the power of their values, feelings, and intuition"


9 Things a Leader Must Do
by Henry Cloud, Ph D

“How to go to the next level – and take others with
you”


Making Small Groups Work: What Every Small Group Leader Needs To Know
by Henry Cloud, Ph.D. & John Townsend Ph.D.
“How to support growth in small groups”


Necessary Endings
by Henry Cloud Ph.D.

“Relationships that we all have to give up to move forward"


The Power Of The Other
by John Townsend Ph.D.

“The startling effect that other people have on you and what to do about it”

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Having a Marriage Perfect for You Is Easier Than You Think

Tuesday, May 4, 2021 @ 9:29 PM

It took me 33 years as a marriage counselor to discover how easy it is to help couples have a marriage perfect for them. When a couple comes for counseling, they are nervous and want to talk about the issues and their feelings. During those first two sessions I can discover what their issues are and can explain how we will overcome them. From that point my job is to get the couple talking together so that we can infuse the Eight Skills I discovered. These are skills most of us did not learn growing up. During this counseling process we will replace the less effective skills practiced all of their lives with the eight more effective ones. So far results have been phenomenal with the couples using this approach.

Because couples have not learned these eight skills, Christian and non-christian couples alike spend too much time absorbed in trying to make their marriages work. They act as though the marriage relationship is the most important. No, one's relationship with Christ is the most important, our following Jesus in serving others. But until they learn these eight skills they continue to be bogged down trying to solve problems for which they have no training. My method of counseling frees the couple from conflicts to serve Jesus and others. We know as Christians that it is more blessed to give than receive. When a couple's purpose is to serve others more than self and selfish interests, they lose much of the anxiety and depression that prevents success in marriage. Why struggle so hard when having a wonderful marriage can be much easier? Contact us at CounselingServicesAtlanta.com and learn more about this new method of marriage counseling.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

12 Ways Of Helping To Reduce Anxiety In Your Staff As A Leader.

Thursday, April 8, 2021 @ 8:29 PM

1. Listen, listen, and then listen. Listen to feelings, thoughts desires, hopes, dreams, vision and expectations. A staff member that feels heard is a staff member that feels validated. And validation tends to reduce anxiety. (‘Be quick to listen…..-James 1:19)

2. Make sure your expectations are reasonable and clear as well as appropriate for the developmental level of your staff member

3. Be careful of judging a staff member or their motives or attitudes. Evaluating them is fine and important but really understanding them is a part of that. (“Judge not, lest you be judged…” - Matthew 7:1-2)

4. Share some of your organizations financial picture. Studies have shown that staff that understand the financial picture are more motivated to work.

5. Help create belonging and comradery so that staff feel like their part of something bigger than themselves.

6. Practice walking in grace and truth with your staff members. This way they have grace around mistakes and the truth of expectations and responsibility combined. (“Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.” – Proverbs 3:3)

7. Create opportunities for influence and input by all staff. This gives them a sense of ownership around the workplace and empowers them to contribute in important ways.

8. Make sure you celebrate and have fun. This was one the most important findings from research I did on leadership in my doctorate program. (“Rejoice with those rejoice…” – Romans 12:15)

9. Develop them and develop yourself. Training and coaching can go far to help staff feel better about the job, increase performance and reduce their anxiety.

10. Catch them doing something right. Before you give a critique make sure you also have a compliment to give.

11. Remember the difference between latent and manifest learning. Some staff, when learning a new task, may not perform at your level of expectation at first even though their learning but not manifesting the new behavior.

12. Work to resolve communication problems and conflict as soon as you can. Conflict left unresolved can really create a lot of anxiety in the workplace. (“Do not the sun set on your anger…” – Ephesians 4:26 )

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Trauma Therapy and the Parable of the Sower

Thursday, April 1, 2021 @ 11:30 PM

Willow Counseling

When we think of trauma, we often think of catastrophic events - rape, sexual abuse, war, natural disasters, crime, car wrecks, domestic violence. But trauma comes in all shapes and sizes. For instance, a trauma may also include a medical emergency, experiences of loss and grief, living in chaotic environments, getting fired, infidelity, divorce, bullying, neglect, childbirth, or a humiliating event, to name a few. Even vicarious traumas, such as watching natural disaster coverage on the news or listening to friends recount their own traumatic and painful experiences, can take a toll.

Did you know that trauma harms our mind, body, and spirit? It can distort our thoughts, inflame and weaken our bodies, and lead to despair in our spirits. Willow Counseling views trauma therapy as emotional recovery that is just as necessary as physical recovery from a medical emergency. In addition, as mental health therapists who value our faith, we also view trauma therapy as a God-given tool to help remove the thorns of trauma that crowd and choke the seeds of faith (Matthew 13:7) in a Christian's life. Trauma therapy has come a long way in healing the injury to our brains and nervous systems, and you don't have to keep suffering. Help is available.

Have you been through a recent trauma? Are you burdened by chronic stress? Do you have an old wound that continues to re-open? Let Willow Counseling help you discover emotional health and restoration from trauma. Learn more at our website.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Women should be Submissive to their Husbands - Ephesians 5:22-23 - REVISITED

Tuesday, March 30, 2021 @ 12:43 AM

Husbands Love Your Wives As Christ Loved the Church

Both Husbands and Wives are to be Submissive to One Another

Ephesians 5:22-33 – revisited

(v22)Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.

In some traditions, this passage is read on the Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s. It is known as elbow Sunday – some husbands like to elbow their wives jokingly to pay attention to these words.

Yet, the misinterpretation of this passage and its foundation to the history of Christian marriage theology over the centuries is nothing to joke about, nor is it something of which the Christian church should be proud. I put this on my list of one of the most egregious sins of the church which has paved the road to much depravity insofar as it has pervaded whole cultures and societies with pseudo-Christian values.


In the second of my five years of seminary, I was required to begin learning Spanish since I was studying to minister in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles which is largely Hispanic. Rather than have solely classroom instruction, I sought permission to travel to the heart of Mexico for an immersion experience in the beautiful state of Michoacán where one of my classmates’ family lived in a small village of about four thousand people. For six weeks, I had a memorable experience of reveling in the culture, cuisine, music, festivities, and infectious friendly spirit of the people. Since they didn’t speak a word of English, I was compelled to use my Spanish. I’m grateful that my ability to give intelligible sermons in Spanish when I was ordained a few years later was because of this educational opportunity.

But there was one experience in my cultural visit that made me uncomfortable. A devout Christian family invited me to their home for dinner because they had heard of a visiting seminarian. It was a family with seven daughters and one son. The head of the house, Salvador, decided to slaughter a goat, un chivo, in my honor. At that time in my life I did eat meat, and I still recall how tasty and tender it was. After dinner, I noticed the daughters were not invited to participate in the living room conversation; they were clearing the plates, sweeping the floor, cleaning the kitchen, and serving drinks and dessert to the men. I jumped up to assist them – some of the daughters were young adults older than I. I was taught it was proper for children (and guests) to at least take your own plate to the kitchen, or optimally grab one or two nearby plates as well – by doing so you show your appreciation for your meal.

Salvador boomed in a loud and intimidating voice, “Pablo, no lo hagas” – don’t do that. Apparently, that was women’s work. Even the youngest child, a boy of 15 years, was not expected to do these domestic chores. I quickly adjusted to the customs of my host family and accepted their gracious hospitality. In coming days, I spoke in the village with some of the muchachas, the young women. I listened to many stories of lost opportunities of education and business, and the struggle to advance, because they needed to imbue the culturally-expected stance of submission, giving the opportunities to the men. They were to enthusiastically accept more menial roles so that the men could flourish.

My friend Salvador, in his zeal for mandating that his daughters clean the dishes while the men conversed in the sala, was simply doing his parental duty to ensure they grow up to make good submissive wives, increasing their appeal to potential mates.


This story of cultural grooming of women to be submissive to men from an early age, could may as well be a story from a family in Eastern Europe, Africa, or the United States – from virtually anywhere.

The above scriptural passage must not be taken out of context – it must be seen together with the next ten verses, especially this one:

(v25) Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church.

There are many cases of identified domestic violence and abuse perpetrated by men that can be traced to cultural grooming which resolutely denies the latter part of this passage, and even greater numbers of marriages where women have been afraid to speak out against abuse due to deference to their husbands. Indeed, the movements of women’s suffrage, women’s liberation, feminism, support for LGBTQ rights, and the dire need for consent education, are all fighting in part against this pseudo-Christian societal conditioning.

Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church. How deeply did Christ love the church? So deeply, that he died for the church. Husbands thereby are called to live selflessly: to serve, protect, and die for their wives. Husbands and wives, therefore, are called to be submissive to each other. This mutual respect is the foundation of intimacy.

Is the husband still called to be the head of the household? Yes, but it must be done with utmost respect, and a submissive attitude. There is a natural order of some roles which become gender-based. Ultimately, however, all humans have both masculine and feminine qualities. Let’s say that two-thirds of men are masculine insofar as they are decisive, strong, confident, and take the lead. These men may also have underlying feminine qualities, like being sensitive, kind, thoughtful, nurturing, and compassionate. WAIT! Although these are stereotypically feminine qualities, a fully developed definition of masculine should include all of these qualities. A man is most evolved when he can at times be thoughtful, kind, and compassionate. Similarly, the other one-third of men can lead with their best qualities of being sensitive, kind, thoughtful, nurturing, and compassionate.

The men of ancient cultures went out and hunted, while the pregnant women and young children stayed at the hearth. This balance was upset in Jean Auel’s female character Ayla from The Clan of the Cave Bear. She clandestinely learns to hunt, defying the norm that only men hunt. She took the lead with her ability to feed the community when necessary. When found out, she was banished from her community for this offense, and suffered excruciating pain due to that isolation, and even more anguish from being forcibly separated, forever, from her toddler son. She discerned not to submit to her male-dominated clan, but rather to her inner spirit, where God dwells. God had given her the gifts of being able to hunt, to lead, to be courageous, and to provide. By listening to her inner-voice she became a steward of her God-given talents. Thus, her species survived and evolved.

After many months Ayla eventually meets a man who accepts her masculine qualities of hunting, providing, and leadership. They marry their lives and talents, in a bonded relationship where they can both lead and both be nurturing to the extent of their innate talents.

When we are baptized into Christ Jesus, there is not a separate rite for women and men. It is the same rite for male and female – we are baptized into community with God, as children of God. Thereafter, as Christians, we are all called to develop our ability to love, depending on what we have been given.

Jesus gave us two commandments:

Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:37-38).

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you (John 13:34).

How are we to love one another? All of Jesus’ life is instruction for us, but especially his central act – submitting to his Father’s will. Recall his words in the Garden of Gethsemane on the eve of his crucifixion:

My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will (Matt 26:39b).

At the wedding at Cana in John chapter two, the mother of Jesus, Mary, takes a decisive leadership role. It is interesting there is not even a mention of Joseph in this passage, though he likely accompanied his spouse and son. It was Mary who became aware of the need for more wine. She exercised a parental leadership quality by telling her son, they have no more wine. Jesus responds, Woman, why do you involve me? My hour has not yet come. I flashback briefly to my own mother saying, “Take out the trash,” to which I would respond, “Why, it’s not even full”.

Next, we have a female, not in the context of marriage, yet nevertheless exercising leadership in a decisive manner as she says to the servants, Do whatever he tells you. These are the most poignant recorded words of Mary. These words are the core of the early Christian community’s devotion to Jesus’ mother, a devotion which has lasted for millennia. These are words addressed to every disciple of Christ, to “do whatever he tells you”. At this event Jesus submits to the will of his mother. Mary is truly nurturing, yet decisive. The lesson here is that we humans, within and outside the context of marriage or romantic relationships, are most evolved when we exercise our inherent masculine and feminine qualities.

Jesus went so far as teaching his disciples that to be a leader, you must be the servant of all (Matt 23:11). He sealed this lesson at the last supper when he washed their feet, commanding them to go forth and do the same (John 13:14-15). It was at this event, upon receiving the instruction of servant leadership, the disciples were ordained apostles.

It is scripturally and theologically inaccurate for a husband to lord his power over his wife, expecting her to submit to him. For the husband to be the head of his household, in the role of priest of his family, he needs to accept the call to be the servant of his wife.

For the married couple, or anyone in relationship – you are called to each be submissive to one another. This is the way to love, respectfully. This is the way of intimacy.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Changes That Lead: Applying the book Changes That Heal to Leadership

Wednesday, March 24, 2021 @ 1:12 AM

Everyone of us comes to work with baggage and a need to grow and develop. We symbolically bring in our family of origin to the workplace. We’re human! Few of us have our act totally together when we start a new job. While work is not therapy and it should not be, it can be a powerful catalyst to help us develop in and out of our roles at the job.

Many have read Changes That Heal by Henry Cloud, Ph.D. Here I look at the book as a leadership tool to help develop ourselves and our people and maybe give them an opportunity to make changes that heal and grow. Dr. Cloud sites many examples about healing and growth from Scripture in the original book that support many of the following ideas.

Time is what you need to wait for people to manifest the behavior of learning the job. An illustration of this is when a scientist teaches a lab animal a trick that they know it should be able to do, it is actually learning but maybe not showing its learning. The next morning they come in and run the experiment and the animal does it like it's known the behavior all its life. This is manifest learning as opposed to what was happening before which was latent learning which you can't see.

Grace is the second part of the equation where you allow people to make mistakes and give them grace as they need it to learn the new job or action. Handling this right helps them make good sense of their learning experiences.

Truth is where we begin to have a little bit more firmness in that we hold them accountable to certain standards that they need to perform the job well. We evaluate their performance (but not judge them as people) after raising expectations.

Next Henry talks about bonding and bonding is important in the workplace because it gives people a sense of belonging and connection as well as meaning. Without good bonding in a workplace people will not feel like they are part of a team or that they belong. Research indicates this bonding for staff is even more important than pay. Although good bonding needs to be established well outside the workplace, it is still important so that people learn to trust their leaders and fellow staff.

After that are boundaries which are very important to establish in leadership so that you can define roles and expectations. Henry has a whole book written about this subject called Boundaries And Leaders. Defining Vision, Mission and Goals are other parts a boundaries in leadership. While boundaries are not walls, they help our staff and ourselves define our responsibilities, what is and is not in our bailiwicks as well as keeping people challenged without overwhelming them.

The next part of the book talks about sorting out the bad and good in ourselves and others. We want to get away from black or white thinking. This is important in leadership because we want to be able discern between a bad action or attitude and the actual person. Judging a person from an all bad-all good perspective is counterproductive. The leader that sees a person as all good will be blind to their problem areas and not hold them accountable. The leader that sees a person as all bad will judge the person and not see their good parts or their talents or assets.
It is also important to be careful of the ideal other or self as well as the despised other or self. These four positions can distort our thinking and lead us to expectations and or judgements that benefit no one.

Further on the book deals with maturing into adulthood. Within the rules and structure of the workplace, both the leaders and the staff must rise to the level of maturity and beyond to be able to be effective in their tasks and relationships. This on one hand requires respect and appropriate working together with leaders. On the other hand, it also means that we must not be in a complete one down one up relationship with our authorities or our staff at work. To put it simply, it means that we are to require respect from others as well as to make sure that we respect them.
Some leaders see themselves as one up and believe they have absolute authority over all things and that they don’t have to respect anybody. It is not uncommon for these leaders to be failing in some way. For other leaders they still feel like they are one down with people, even their own staff. This is where it is important to work on our personal bonding so we can grow up to a role that we are called to.

Bonding gives us a “launching pad” with which we can form our boundaries. As part of this growth and maturity it’s important that we disagree sometimes with the first leaders that we ever met (i.e. our parents) [Also see the story of Jesus as a boy at the temple]. And likewise, it’s important that your staff and peers can appropriately disagree with you. It is also important to recognize and pursue our talents and abilities as well as our creative instincts so as to find the right role in our leadership and help others do the same. Maybe you're a creative boss or perhaps maybe you're a boss that's very good about sticking to facts and figures. So, it's important to expand these gifts while at the same time finding people who can help you with the areas you're not so strong in.

Changes That Heal For Leadership was not a book Henry necessarily intended to write but do understand that the real book originated as part of a project to stop burn out in a campus ministry. With that said it can do much to help us develop us as leaders and help us develop our staff. Reach out if you need help with these stages with yourself and or your team.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Bumpy Road or Joy Ride?

Saturday, March 13, 2021 @ 2:24 PM

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:2

Life’s journey takes you on an obstacle course of twists, turns, bumpy roads, mountains, valleys, tunnels, wastelands, bridges, lovely landscapes, and deep caverns. Each section of the journey impacts every individual differently. For example, Fred works at a high-pressure job in sales. He thrives when he is with people, and he feels alive when the pressure is on. Following the successful completion of a huge deal, Fred’s boss gave him a “bonus” to help him recover and regroup. He set him up with an all-expenses-paid, three-week vacation at a quiet out of the way cabin with a rented fishing boat. Fred’s boss said, “After a high-pressure close, I always need time to rest and regroup.” Unfortunately, to Fred, alone time felt like torture.

The bumpy roads on your journey might be exhilarating mountain top experiences to someone else, and your friend’s wastelands might be your lovely landscapes. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, unique and precious, and when you remember the following, your path becomes a fret-free flight: you journey this life hand-in-hand with the Lord.

Whatever segment of road to which your journey takes you, whether you consider it a trial or a delight, God has promised to be your refuge and your fortress. You can trust that He will rejoice with you when you are happy and He will protect you when you need sanctuary.

Try reminding yourself about it, this way. Inhale while picturing, “God is my refuge and my fortress.” Now exhale while envisioning, “He is my God in whom I trust.” Go ahead and repeat that a few times; inhale, picturing the first part of the verse. Then exhale envisioning the second half of the verse. Feel the strength, the power, the courage of the Lord filling you with each breath.

God did not promise you a trouble-free life. In this broken world, you will face troubles, but when you do, God will always be your fortress, your refuge, and your loving God.

If you’d like to learn more ways to allow the Lord to empower you toward freedom and spiritual health, visit joshua1nine.com