Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Psych Info: WHAT IS THE UNCONSCIOUS?

Q. You mentioned the unconscious in one of your articles. What is the unconscious mind and how can we know about it if it is unconscious? You seemed to suggest that we can communicate with our unconscious and vice versa.

A. The unconscious is a division of our psyche or mind. Psychic material not in our immediate awareness is in our unconscious mind. When it is somewhat easily accessible it is said to be in the “pre-conscious” mind. We can perceive, think, feel, remember, decide and act, all unconsciously. Every experience of our life is stored within our unconscious mind. All we have learned, thought, felt and experienced is recorded, yet not available consciously. This enables us to remember how to drive a car without thinking about it. 

Throughout history, the complexity of human nature has been noted along with a variety of theories to explain or make sense of our nature. Freud was the first to theorize about a vast unconscious mind with warring factions creating a variety of problems for us. He discovered that slips of the tongue were often breakthrough thoughts from the unconscious mind. Similarly, being accident prone and managing to fail when on the brink of success were noted as due to unconscious feelings or desires. Our unconscious mind is some times more in charge of our behavior than our conscious mind is!
         
Someone has compared our mental functions and the contents of our minds to a landscape at night. A search light plays over the landscape. Whatever appears in the searchlight is conscious, the rest that is hidden in the darkness is unconscious. Until recently, little was known about how the brain stores our experiences or about how a memory from the past is evoked to influence our current life.

In 1951 Dr. Wilder Penfield, a neurosurgeon, made some new and exciting discoveries. During brain surgery Penfield conducted experiments on patients who were fully conscious. He used a probe and touched the temporal cortex of the brain. He found that this forced recollections from the patient’s memory. His most significant discovery was that not only were past events recorded in detail but the feelings associated with the events were recorded as well. The event and the feelings were recorded together and one could not be recalled without the other. 

Does this matter? Yes, it does. We all carry with us wounds from our past, buried in our unconscious minds. These wounds affect our daily living. They affect our marriages, the way we treat our children and they affect our self-esteem.
         
We can learn about and heal our unconscious mind by training ourselves to remember our dreams. Daily meditation and prayer can also open the door to our unconscious mind and help us face and heal our wounds. The more we become acquainted with our unconscious minds the more integrated our personalities become. 
         
Our unconscious minds are a vast resource of wisdom that can be tapped into and used. Often inventors will dream about a solution to a problem they had struggled with unsuccessfully during the day. Our unconscious minds can be used to help solve daily problems as we face them. 
         
Similarly, athletes often visualize a perfect performance while in an altered state of consciousness. We can reprogram our minds using positive images as we meditate or pray. I hope these ideas will help you learn to use the power of your unconscious mind and also the power of prayer.

“I will bless the Lord who has counseled me; indeed, my mind instructs me in the night. I have set the Lord continually before me; because he is at my right hand I will not be shaken.” Psalm 16:7-8

Blessings, Dottie



Tuesday, July 18, 2017

DIVORCE BUSTING

Q. My wife and I are having many problems in our marriage. Our home is full of tension.  We argue and then we avoid each other. Counseling a year ago helped make things very happy and romantic for a while. Now we’re back at war with each other and on the brink of divorce. Why didn’t the change last? What do you suggest?

A. The fact that counseling helped and you were happy for a while afterwards is a positive sign. It shows that it’s possible for you and your wife to have a happier relationship. If we can do something for a brief time, we can learn to do it consistently.

What do you want your marriage to be like? What kinds of things do you want your partner to do that will show you that she cares? What kinds of things does she want you to do that will show her you care? What did each of you do when things were going well that you are no longer doing?

If we want romance in our marriage we must purposely act in romantic ways toward our partner. Give spontaneous hugs and kisses. Give compliments. Send cards and flowers. Spend fun time together and go out together. We must fan the flame of our love. Our feelings toward others don’t just happen. Our own actions and involvement with our partner shape our feelings. Therefore, if we “act romantic” we will feel more loving. If we give of ourselves to the other person we will feel more commitment.

Couples often blame each other for the problems in their relationship. Actually, the problems are often the result of a circular interaction. Each person’s behavior is the result of an action that preceded it and is also a trigger for the partner’s action that follows it. For example, a husband may work late. The wife may interpret his coming home late as lack of love for her so she withdraws emotionally and won’t allow touching.  He then stays late at work again because of her withdrawal.

Couples also develop balance in the roles they assume. If one person is very responsible about keeping the house clean, the other one may be more casual or even sloppy.  Michele Weiner-Davis in her book Divorce Busting compares this type of balancing to what happens when riding a tandem bicycle. If one person stops pedaling, the other one must do all the work. 

Notice the behavior between you and your wife and what you want to have happen more frequently. Often couples stop doing fun things together or stop being affectionate with each other because of a negative cycle. What they don’t realize is that the lack of these fun or affectionate behaviors increases and compounds the problems between them. The reverse is also true. Enjoyment in a relationship does much to help us forget the hurt or the differences. Couples don’t realize that changes in behavior lead to changes in their positive feelings toward each other. Feelings don’t change first, in other words.

Faith in God, praying together and worshipping together also helps unite a couple in a deeper way than anything else.

I recommend that you and your wife go back into marital counseling together. Tell your counselor you want to focuses on the solutions rather than dwelling on all the past problems, anger and hurt.  Solution focused therapy helps couples stop blaming each other and helps couples work out a better balance on their “tandem bike.” In addition join a couples marriage enrichment group. The Third Option or A Weekend to Remember offer excellent help for marriages. See also www.smartmarriages.com for a wealth of information on help for marriages.

“Be of one mind, full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds.” 1 Peter: 3:8 NLT

Blessings, Dottie






Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Psalm 119 Meditations and Prayers Relating to the Law of God

This is the fifth section of Psalm 119 – the longest chapter and the longest Psalm in the Bible. There are 8 different terms referring to Scripture used through out. These are: law, testimonies, precepts, statutes, commandments, judgments, word and ordinances.
A pastor suggested reading this verse by verse, meditating on it and journaling on each verse. So that’s what I’m doing.   

He. 

33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall observe it to the end.

Father, Teach me the path of your commandments and precepts,
And help me stay on your road to the end, forever. Your way brings peace and life.

34 Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law
And keep it with all my heart.

Father, Give me clear insight so I will truly obey your rules
And I will keep your commandments with all my heart.

35 Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,
For I delight in it.

Father, I do want to walk in the road you have planned, the road your laws direct,
For I delight in your ways.

36 Incline my heart to Your testimonies
And not to dishonest gain.

Father, shape my heart and mold it to your pure witness,
And not to a crooked, ungodly, or selfish way.

37 Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity,
And revive me in Your ways.

Father, Keep my eyes and heart from worry about appearances or selfish concern,
And revive my heart to follow your path. My heart overflows with your presence. Thank you, Lord.

38 Establish Your word to Your servant,
As that which produces reverence for You.

Dear Father, Convince me your word is true for me,
Knowing your complete faithfulness increases my devotion for you.

39 Turn away my reproach which I dread,
For Your ordinances are good.

Dear Father, Turn away from my failures, my sins which I abhor,
Your laws are good for me.

40 Behold, I long for Your precepts;
Revive me through Your righteousness.

Father, Wow! I long to obey your Word, your laws;
Bring me to life, spiritually, delete all deadness from me,
Your pure goodness renews me.

Blessings, Dottie



Monday, July 3, 2017

2. REASONS TO BELIEVE AND BE A TRUE BELIEVER

This is the second of a series of blog posts with my sister Betty Haynie about what we believe. Our thoughts may be helpful to those who don’t believe in God. Betty wrote down her beliefs in detail several years ago. I’ll post her thoughts monthly and add my thoughts and beliefs to each one. Our thoughts are intentionally brief on subjects that could fill volumes. We have some differing views but agree on the basics. She writes with wit and joy.

HOW & WHY I BECAME A TRUE BELIEVER
By Betty Haynie

As a child, I read through the Bible twice. I didn’t think I remembered much, but the scriptures came back every once in a while to assist my daily living. I recall one time in the early days of owning a kennel, I was out in the back on a Sunday, using the pooper scooper and hose, crying at what I perceived then as a ruined life, missing my family, feeling like a jerk and a fool for a number of reasons, and I cried out to God. The response I heard in my head was “Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all thesethings shall be given unto you.”  (Matthew 6:33 KJV) I couldn’t have told you then where it is in the Bible, but I knew the message was from God.  

Every time from 1980 to 1990 that I got discouraged, this scripture would pop into my head. Finally I decided I should do more than think about it. After not setting foot in any church for two years, I walked into Calvary Hill Church on May 20, 1990 and the Holy Spirit filled me to overflowing. I have not been the same since. I TRULY became a NEW person in Christ. “Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV

I had gone to church for most of my 58 years because it was “the thing to do”, I now couldn’t wait for Sundays. I found myself eager for more knowledge of God, the Bible, Jesus, prayer, etc. My appetite for God was insatiable. I couldn’t stand listening to any music but Christian or any secular radio. I turned off TV that used profanity or that was too violent - even finding The Golden Girls too sexy at times, though I loved the show. This was not a sudden, conscious change but a gradual happening in my life. It was not done as an act of “holiness” but rather I was made acutely aware of how awful some of the stuff out there is, and was given an automatic desire to fill my time and my mind with happiness and joy. It was a “God-thing”.

My prayer for music to be a part of my life again was answered with over 50 original songs. ”Seek Ye First” was the title of the first song I wrote. I had tried to compose songs before but just could not do it. Now they were coming so quickly I could hardly write them down fast enough. I wondered if these changes would last or were they just an emotional reaction to a different kind of church. Well, it’s been over two decades and I still feel the same. I LOVE to learn about God. I LOVE to LOVE God and worship God. The more I get to know Him the more I LOVE Him. He is awesome!

Blessings, Betty

HOW & WHY I BECAME A TRUE BELIEVER
By Dottie Parish

My life-changing journey was similar to Betty’s. At the end of February 1990 Mike, my husband said, “Let’s make March church month and visit a different church each week.” Mike, always relaxed and easy-going, rarely took the lead in planning. I gulped at giving up my Sunday mornings for four weeks, but thought, Mike will never say this again—so I agreed. The third Sunday in March we found our church home.

We walked into Main Street United Methodist Church after decades away from God and church. We walked in thinking of God as a vague force and were surprised we sensed God’s presence. I choked up singing “Fairest Lord Jesus” and couldn’t explain why. Mike and I wanted more people in our life. We thought we would be “casual” Christians. God had other plans.

We attended church and the adult Bible class weekly—in a joyful daze. We learned about the faith, met new people as we’d hoped, and so much more. A letter to Pastor Wesley describes my transformation.

December 16, 1990
Dear Wesley,                                                                                                     
One year ago I thought I was happy. But what a difference now! I’ve rediscovered the Bible, prayer and worship. You helped me rediscover my soul. You put me in touch with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I woke up one morning singing “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.” I hadn’t thought of this song in years!

I’m feeling, thinking and acting differently. I’m reading the Bible and devotional literature and praying on a daily basis. I’m more giving to others and more content with myself. I know I’m part of something big and I have a new family. Life has meaning and purpose. Every holiday has meaning now—especially Christmas and Easter. We’d been celebrating Xmas (with an X) for years and ignoring Easter. We’re celebrating Christmas this year.

Our lives were radically changed. Mike had never been a church member or even a regular church attender. But God touched his mind and heart as well as mine. Both Mike and I learned and grew spiritually throughout the 1990s. We continued in the adult Bible class and began saying grace at meals. Our worldview gradually changed. And through 27 years since then our faith has grown deeper than ever. Isn’t God amazing! The Holy Spirit changed us both once we took a step toward Him by deciding to go to church. And Betty’s experience was similar. We too, LOVE to learn about God, and we LOVE to worship and LOVE him. The more we know about him the more we LOVE him.

“Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be given unto you.”  Matthew 6:33 KJV

Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)

Blessings, Dottie

Watch for the next Reasons to Believe post on WHY I BELIEVE IN THE BIBLE in early August by Betty and Dottie




Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Two Books: Miracles and Rumors of an Another World

I recently reread the two books featured here. Both are informative and inspiring. Great for summer reading. Enjoy!

Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen and How They Can Change Your Life

By Eric Metaxas

This is an outstanding book with a wealth of information about miracles and many beautiful miraculous stories. The book is divided into two sections: Part 1 The Question of Miracles and Part 2 The Miracle Stories.

Metaxas offers definitions of the word “miracle.” Webster defines it as “an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs.” Skeptic David Hume didn’t believe in miracles but defined them as “a transgression of the law of nature by a particular volition of the Deity, or by the interposition of some invisible agent.” Metaxas adds his definition: “When something outside time and space enters time and space, whether just to wink at us or poke at us briefly, or to come in and dwell among us for three decades.” Metaxas describes the incredible miracle of our world which could not exist without many exact parameters. The chapters on The Miracle of the Universe and on The Resurrection are outstanding.

Part 2 is titled The Miracle Stories. Metaxas offers chapters on Conversion Miracles, Healing Miracles, Inner Healing Miracles, Angelic Miracles and more. The stories he tells are all of people he knows. He limited the stories in this way so he could be certain about their veracity. These stories are all amazing and miraculous though skeptics might call some coincidental. The idea that conversions are miracles surprised and delighted me. I had not thought of it that way even though I know the Holy Spirit indwells all believers. I will reread this book – it’s that good.


Rumors of Another World: What on Earth are We Missing?

By Philip Yancey

This is a book for believers and non believers who wonder about the meaning of life. Yancey details his own struggles and questions and muses about them. He says “I wrote this book for those who live in the borderlands of belief.” Many Christians are at the borders - full of doubts. He notes his own doubts and wonders if the visible world is all there is. He wonders what are we missing. What is a human being? Why are we here?

The thesis of Rumors is that we live in two worlds: the every day world that we can touch and see and an unseen spiritual world. Yancey proceeds to show us hints of the unseen world.

He says, “If there is no Creator, what then? I would have to view the world with all its suffering as well as its beauty as a random product of a meaningless universe, the briefest flare of a match in cosmic darkness.” pg. 50

And again, “Biology is destiny declares the one who looks down….Eternity is destiny declares the one who looks up. Our genes may indeed contain predispositions toward bestial instincts, but we hear a call to rise above them.” pg 58

Chapters of note are Designer Sex, The Good Life (in which he details his respectable sins), The Gift of Guilt, and Chapter 12 about the Elephant Man. This is book is full of stories, examples and thought provoking information. I have read it twice and will read it again.

I think Yancy’s uncertain faith is due to his looking down more than he looks up; looking at this world and it’s woes and cynicism more than joining with Christians in worship and experiencing the joy of the Lord in Scripture.

I know that the rumors of an unseen world are true! I’ll read it again so I can better articulate the evidence to loved ones who don’t believe.

Blessings, Dottie




Thursday, June 22, 2017

SISTER BLOG PICTURES

Blog Readers: Just in case you missed my Facebook postings about my Sisters Blog I’m reposting pictures here of my sister and me together as children. We're writing a series on REASONS TO BELIEVE. See link at the end.


Here's my sister, Betty HaynieWe were opposites as kids and still are. She was an extrovert, loud, and spontaneous. I was an introvert, quiet and reflective. We did skate, ride bikes, hunt fire flies and enjoy vacations together as kids. But we were not close as kids or even as young adults. We enjoyed yearly family reunions while our children (in stair steps) were babies to teens. Since 1990, our love, enjoyment and understanding of each other has grown and blossomed as has our faith. 


Betty                         Dottie



Betty is on the left and I’m on the right in each of the pictures. We were not twins though dressed alike in the pictures and often mistaken as twins. Aren’t we cute?






We’re a bit older and I’ve lost a few teeth!



It’s winter and we have new snow outfits. Are those muffs? Or are we making snow balls?


Dottie: “This picture is unusual as I’m the quiet one. Yet it looks like I’m talking and Betty has her mouth clamped shut. No smiles here. But I do have my arm around her neck. Also Mom must have braided her hair but not mine!! And we’re dressed like twins again. (I’m the older sister, folks.)

Betty: "Where on earth did you get this one? I never saw it before. The reason your hair isn’t in braids is that your hair is so curly and beautiful. I had braids until I was 10 so I guess I’m not there but you are."

The Sister Blog with Betty and Dottie began here on Reasons I Believe in God.We will continue our story on July 4th or so.

Blessings, Betty and Dottie

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

PSYCH INFO: wHAT IS NORMAL?

 WHAT IS NORMAL

Q. I have never felt I was a normal person. Other people seem to be happier, more self-confident and better organized. I wonder about what is normal because my mother was mentally ill throughout my childhood. My Christian faith has helped me and I’ve had some counseling about this but I still wonder, am I normal? Can you give me some guidelines to tell me what is normal?

A. There are two definitions of normal. We are normal when free from a mental disorder; when not paranoid, not psychotic, not schizophrenic, not psychopathic, and not neurotic. By definition also, we are normal if we behave the way most of us behave; if we conform to what society expects of us.

There is a wide range of what is normal. Two people can be very different from each other but both can still be normal. We are all crippled or neurotic or abnormal in some way yet most of us are normal in most ways. With these ideas in mind here’s my definition of a normal person:
         
It is normal to have problems, struggles and difficulties in life. Normal people have days when they feel depressed or overwhelmed or dissatisfied. Normal people are not perfect. We fail at things. We lack confidence. We make mistakes. We forget. We procrastinate. We make excuses. We do dumb things. We have flaws. 
         
A normal person is in touch with a variety of feelings and can express these feelings in appropriate ways. A normal person has feelings of anger, sadness or fear in certain situations. A normal person is neither overly dependent nor overly independent. A normal person needs attention, connection and affection from others. A normal person also enjoys time alone. A normal person is able to adapt to changes, able to cooperate, able to be flexible. A normal person is able to be assertive when appropriate; able to set limits, doesn’t tolerate abuse.
                                                                                            
A normal person has awareness of the needs of others, cares about others and gives of themselves to others. A normal person also pays attention to their own needs. A normal person spends some time at work and some time at play. A normal person is interested in life and enjoys a variety of activities.

When life is difficult a normal person does not go to extremes. Even when very upset inwardly, a normal person keeps some perspective on their life and realizes that they will survive. A normal person does not become self-destructive or suicidal, or withdrawn. A normal person does not explode with out of control anger or become paralyzed with fear. A normal person does not turn to drugs or alcohol or some other addiction to solve their problems. A normal person maintains some emotional balance even in the midst of a crisis. A normal person also will recognize when they need to ask for help from others.

In view of your background it’s no wonder you are uncertain about what is normal. Your mother’s illness prevented her from modeling what is normal and kept her from affirming your worth. I hope these ideas will give you some reassurance and help you believe in yourself. You need to stop comparing yourself to others. We are each unique. Also, when we compare our insides to others outsides we are bound to come up short. Learn to love who you are. And remind yourself that God loves you. If your doubts continue, further Christian counseling can help.

“God is love and he who abides in love abides in God and God in him.” 1 John 4:17

Blessings, Dottie