Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bitter-Sweet Endings

Endings are often difficult. We want to hang on to life as it has been. We don’t want to let go of the past. We don’t want things to change. But endings are inevitable. The end of the year is upon us and all of us face a new year ahead. We must say good-bye to the year 2010 and welcome 2011 very soon.

We are personally facing a bitter-sweet ending on 12-31-10. The John Engle Christian Counseling Center (JECCC) in Hamilton, Ohio is closing. The funds to continue this ministry are just not there. My husband and I, along with many other people, helped birth JECCC and nurture it through its infancy. We saw it grow and blossom and most importantly, we saw it help many, many people. We also witnessed a number of Hamilton churches working together to support JECCC; displaying marvelous unity in the body of Christ.

For almost fifteen years JECCC provided professional individual, couple, and family counseling regardless of background or ability to pay. The counseling “heart” of JECCC is closing. This is the bitter part. JECCC also offered educational/support groups which will continue under different auspices. This is the sweet part.

The Third Option educational group for couples started in this area in 1996 under the sponsorship of JECCC. The Third Option is a national program helping couples revive and renew their marriages. The sweet part is this program continues in two locations, at Princeton Pike Church of God, Hamilton, OH and at Montgomery Community Church, Cincinnati, OH.

Mending Hearts group for children continues under the auspices of Companions on a Journey. Mending Hearts, for children 4-18, offers a safe, nurturing environment to explore and address issues related to the loss of a parent, sibling or caregiver.

Pearls, a women’s support group, continues at Serve City in Hamilton, Ohio. This group provides a warm, caring place where women can help each other learn and grow.

When JECCC started in 1996 we “hoped” it would continue at least five years. It has provided life-changing help to many desperate people and has lasted three times as long as we originally hoped. This is sweet. God is good. And the ripples of these life-changing groups continue with mostly volunteer staff. Amazing!

“Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.” Ecclesiastes 11:1

Blessings, Dottie

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas 2010

Below is a poem by a friend. He said it “came to him” this past Sunday and I could share it – I could be his publisher, so here it is!

The chill had come, The ground was white     
with snow which fell throughout the night.
The twinkling stars in rhythm blend
With whispers from the winter wind

To hint at that which would come soon
To give great joy from virgin womb;
The Gift from God to mortal man,
The lowly birth of Great I AM.

The sheep and cattle onward look
As tale unfolds from Holy Book
And precious maid is used of God
As was foretold inside His word.

The earth knows not that they behold
A greater worth than much fine gold;
A gift to man of grandest worth,
Behold, today is given birth.

A child is born, a Son He gave;
Amazing Grace, He came to save.
The gift of life He bought through death;
Our hope was gone, He gave new breath.

So, in this time of stress and care
As we run here and scramble there,
Remember friend, to bend the knee
And thank Him, for He set us free!

By William F Powers

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11

Have a blessed and merry Christmas, Dottie    

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Manageable and Blessed Christmas

Christmas is a difficult time of year for families on a tight budget. Our society encourages buying on credit and spending lavishly at Christmas and our children beg for the latest and “best” dolls, games or toys. It takes self-control and sensible thinking to not go into debt at Christmas.

Many of us spend more than planned because we want to fulfill our children's most wonderful Christmas dreams. Giving our children too much can spoil them as well as threaten the family budget. Let reality determine how much you spend. Children are realists and can understand more than we think. Don't promise them something you can't afford.

Look for gifts at yard sales or second hand stores. Many bargains are available. Buy a number of inexpensive small gifts. For young children the enjoyment of Christmas often has to do with the number of gifts rather than their monetary value. You can also buy small items the child will need anyway. For example, wrap up as a gift art supplies, sports equipment, crayons, scotch tape, a glue stick, or new hair barrettes.

The gifts on Christmas day are only one part of Christmas. Learn to make the preparations and the anticipation as much fun as opening gifts. A happy, excited attitude as you shop, wrap, trim and bake will be contagious. Include the children in the preparations. This will help them enjoy it as well as teaching them to give. Children love to bake cookies and they can help with gift wrapping and tree trimming. Encourage your children to give small gifts to others. They learn the joy of giving as they plan to surprise parents, grandparents, brothers or sisters with small gifts they make or they pick out.

Enjoy Christmas entertainment. During the Christmas season there are many programs for children at churches, schools and civic organizations. Television also offers many Christmas specials. Sit and watch these with your children. Your time and attention is what they will remember, more than any gift.

Create family rituals or traditions around Christmas that you repeat every year. For example, read a favorite Christmas story and sing Christmas carols when the children hang their stockings on Christmas Eve.

Most important of all, teach your children the reason for Christmas. Christ the Lord came to earth as a baby to reveal God’s love for us. This is the best gift of all and has eternal significance.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders, and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. “ Isaiah 9:6

Have a blessed Christmas,


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas Depression

Many people are depressed during the holidays. Some are depressed due to losses through death or divorce. The holidays carry memories of former happy times and this highlights loss. Some are depressed due to financial pressure or job loss. This is increased by the desire to spend on gifts for loved ones. A variety of family tensions - marital problems, alcoholism, step family issues, adolescent rebellion - also can cause holiday depression.

These are difficult issues any time of the year but are even more difficult at Christmas because we expect the holidays to be joyful and happy. Unfortunately our life problems continue even during the holidays.

Five solutions to Christmas depression come to mind:

1. Acknowledge your feelings of loss and grief; allow yourself to cry and grieve or feel anger. Talk out feelings with a trusted friend or write about them.

2. Don’t dwell on the negative. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Don’t grieve endlessly. Get out and do something to take your mind off your self and your problems.

3. Count your blessings. Focus on the positive. Make a list every day during the holidays of five things you’re grateful for. See the holiday time as half full, not half empty. Remind yourself that no one has a perfect life.

4. Return to your faith. Take a step or two back to God through prayer, reading Scripture, and returning to church. There are many inspiring and fun Christmas activities in most churches during the Christmas season.

5. Counseling can help with depression. If you’re having suicidal thoughts counseling is a must. If your appetite or sleep patterns are affected, medication can help. I hope these ideas will help you have a meaningful and joyful Christmas.

"Cast all your cares on him because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Child-like Christmas

Are children stressed by Christmas preparations? No, they’re not, but often adults are. We need to learn from our children. The holiday season is one of the most beautiful times of the year. Many of us have forgotten how to view the festivities with child-like enjoyment. Here are some child-like traits to cultivate during this Christmas season. These will give you a wonder-filled Christmas.
1. Stay in the present. When we worry we borrow trouble. Most of the things we worry about don’t happen. Children live in the present. Children know how to enjoy each moment as it comes.

2. Be playful. Instead of dreading gift wrapping, for example, make it an enjoyable experience. Create original ways to wrap the gifts. Pick paper or ribbons that will surprise or please the recipients of your gifts. Make it play rather than work.

3. Have fun! Laugh! Don’t be so serious about holiday plans. Instead, make a game out of all that you do. The average four year old laughs every four minutes. Look at life through the eyes of a child and you will feel joy and will a laugh a lot.

4. Anticipate the coming festivities with excitement. Remember how you looked forward to Christmas as a child. Children are eager and they anticipate the joy ahead.

5. Be a little silly as Children often are. You can be responsible, do the things that need to be done but still, on occasion, be a little silly. Let loose and be unpredictable. Get rid of your schedule and flow with what’s enjoyable.

6. Develop child-like faith. The Christmas season is a special time of awe and wonder. Tune in to the miracle of life and the love of God. Enjoy Christmas events, specials on TV and inspiring worship. Be amazed by the greatest miracle of all, the incarnation - God as a new born babe.

“For unto us a child is born…”  Isaiah 9:6

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Healing Power of Gratitude
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. We have much to be thankful for, but most of us take our freedom and abundance for granted. We grumble and complain about minor issues. We know thinking positively is healthier for us, but we still grumble. We must learn to give thanks in every circumstance. We must learn to practice gratitude.

David, the author of the Psalms in the Bible, did this. In the midst of intense difficulties he burst forth with gratitude for every blessing. At times he wonders where God is, yet he continues to practice gratitude.

Thomas Edison, the genius inventor, lost his laboratory in a blazing fire in December 1914. The next morning, walking in the smoldering rubble, he said, “There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God, we can start anew.”

There is a legend about a day when the sun didn’t appear. It was dark at eight in the morning, still dark at nine, ten, noon. By four p.m. people had gone to their churches to pray for the sun to return. The next morning crowds gathered to watch the eastern sky. When the first rays of sunlight streaked the sky the people burst into cheers and applause. They felt so grateful for something they had always taken for granted.

Minor annoyances of daily life are often more difficult to look on with gratitude than are major trials. We rise to meet a tough challenge yet let petty annoyances drag us down. Gratitude is still the key. If we count our blessings every day we will be better able to recognize the smallness of the annoyances.

Learning a grateful attitude takes practice. This Thanksgiving Day let’s all practice gratitude and keep it up in the days and months ahead.

Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  1 Thessalonians 5:18

Blessings, Dottie Parish

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Healing Power of Imagination

Our imagination has healing power. Although we can’t know the future, we often imagine disaster ahead. A loved one is late returning from a trip so in our mind we picture an accident and we worry and fret. In our imagination we anticipate the worst possible outcome. Our mental images are like a dress rehearsal for how we then feel and act.

“Fantasies” often come unbidden. We have to learn to notice them and stop them. When we realize we’re fanaticizing we can replace the negative image with a positive one. Cancer survivors use this method to imagine the chemotherapy eating up cancer cells.

Many athletes today use mental imagery or mental pictures to improve their performance. A stunning experiment was done which showed the effects of mental practice. One group practiced throwing basketball free throws every day for 20 days and improved in scoring 24 percent. A control group did no practice at all for 20 days and did not improve. A third group spent 20 minutes a day imagining they were throwing the ball in the basket and their scoring improved 23 percent!

Monitor your mind for negative images and change these to positive ones. For example, if you picture someone who is sick getting worse. Stop this image and replace it with a picture of the person as healthy. Take time to pray and meditate every day so you can fill your mind with positive thoughts and images.
Blessings, Dottie

“Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue or if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.”   Philippians 4:8 NKJ

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Healing Power of Giving

Giving to others, serving others, even sacrificing for others – has healing power. In today’s world these ideas are rarely taught or encouraged. Most of us focus on our selves, trying to find ways to be happy. We think we’ll be happy when family, friends or co-workers give us love, attention or appreciation. We think we’ll be happy when circumstances change, when we get a better job or when we achieve some goal. But will we?

Giving, serving, even sacrificing for others helps heal our inner longing; makes us truly contented in spite of circumstances. When we give to others it changes us, we like ourselves better. It really is more blessed to give than to receive. Some one has suggested we commit “random acts of kindness” in our daily life. How different would the world be if everyone did this every day? Let’s commit to a small random act of kindness every day. Make it a challenge to find someone to help in some small way every day. See what a difference it makes – to others and to you.

Today is November 11th, Veteran’s Day. All veterans and servicemen have made sacrifices in order to secure our life and liberty. Some have given their lives for us. Remember to thank a veteran today and pray for all of our servicemen.

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 32:35

Blessings, Dottie

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Healing Power of Silence

Our culture over stimulates us. Television, cell phones, radio, and computers keep our minds active and distracted almost constantly. We watch news, weather, sports, commercials, movies, sit-coms, games shows, talk shows and more. TV is like radon to our souls. The continuous noisy, blare of voices and images poisons our spirits, diseases our minds and dulls our senses. When this happens, silence seems unnatural to us. There are people who can’t go to sleep without the TV on.

We have forgotten how to enjoy silence. We have forgotten how to empty our minds and be still. This negatively affects our physical, mental and spiritual well being. Silence brings us in touch with our inner longings and needs. Silence brings us in touch with our deepest feelings. Often we would rather run away from these than face them.

Silence also brings us in touch with God. Many have become alienated from spiritual realities. Throughout history, in every culture, man has sensed the presence of the divine. We must be silent to sense His presence. There are spiritual realities that aren’t available on TV or on the computer. There are spiritual broadcasts that are timeless and eternal but we must tune into these through silence. These broadcasts can easily be jammed. They are heard only in the silence.

We need to be in touch with the events and tragedies of the world. We need to see the pictures of the earth quakes, tsunamis, forest fires and wars in order to keep up with all that is going on in the world. And we need to have time to relax and be entertained. But we do not need to stare endlessly at the images on TV or be hooked up to an electronic device every minute of the day.

To find serenity, spend ten minutes or more in silence every day. Commit to taking the time for this period of silence and stillness. The longer you do this the more meaningful and valuable this time will become to you. To quiet your mind you can read from Psalms in the Bible.

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

Blessings, Dottie

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Healing Power of Forgiveness

Forgiveness has healing power. Forgiving those who have hurt or wronged us frees us from the past. It changes us. But it’s not easy nor is it a quick fix. It takes time and deliberate intention. Forgiveness is a process and it’s an act of the will.

Unforgiveness is like radioactive waste seeping into our souls. It pollutes every area of life, perhaps even lowering our immune system and contributing to a variety of physical illnesses. It also harms us spiritually. No one is content while bitter and resentful. We must forgive in order to free ourselves. We can easily forgive an unkind remark made unintentionally by someone who really cares for us. We can’t quickly or easily forgive physical, sexual or emotional abuse received in childhood. The deeper the wound the more difficult it is to work through the painful emotions connected to it.

Forgiveness does not condone hurtful, abusive behavior. Rather, when we forgive we give up our right to be angry and resentful; our feelings are justified but we let go of them. How can we forgive deep hurts? It helps to tell a trusted friend or counselor all the gory details. Another way to do this is to write about what was done to you; write about the thing you can’t forgive. This will help you let go of it.

Forgiveness is not an emotion; it’s an act of the will. We choose to forgive. We think we must “forgive and forget,” but this is not true. It’s normal to forgive but still remember what happened. The Bible commands us to forgive. And we need to remember God has forgiven us. When we close our heart to others we also close it to God. Ask God to help you forgive.

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Healing Power of the Truth

There is healing power in facing the truth and in telling the truth. Many of us hide our true thoughts, our true feelings or even our true self. We learn as children to pretend we’re happy when we we’re not. We avoid certain subjects in order to keep peace in the family and not upset Mom, Dad or Grandma. Over time we develop a false self. We bury painful feelings and smile on the outside.

As adults we continue this charade. We ignore our own needs to keep peace in our marriage. We avoid having opinions because we don’t want anyone to be upset if we have a different opinion. Pretending takes enormous energy. And we pay a price for it. We may overeat, drink too much or work too much to avoid facing the truth. We may develop physical symptoms in response to the disconnection from our core self. Our relationships also suffer.

Being open, real, transparent is not easy. For most of us it takes work and it feels risky. I heard a missionary from Indonesia this week, Paul Richardson, who modeled openness. I highly recommend his book, A Certain Risk. He spoke of the difficulty of living a secret life. Even though it’s dangerous to live in Indonesia as a Christian, he has always been open about his faith and his reason for being there. He believes keeping secrets affects our souls, and I agree. When we do this we live a divided life. Being open and truthful may seem risky. I believe it’s worth taking “a certain risk” in order to live with inner freedom.

How can we break out of a pattern of hiding, of wearing masks? Pray about it and ask God to guide you. Admit the truth to yourself. Journal the truth or share the truth with a trusted friend, pastor or counselor. Come out of hiding and the truth will set you free.

“You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Healing Power of Loving Words

Loving words heal. Critical and angry words hurt. We need to hear loving words from friends and loved ones. Loving words from others help us know we are valued and deepen our relationships. Usually we are quick to share criticisms; to say words that hurt. Silence can also hurt. For example: “She knows how I feel without my having to say it.” Does she? We don’t know another person’s thoughts unless they are expressed verbally. Most of us crave more love and acceptance than we receive.

A study was done years ago to discover how tone of voice affected men in the Navy being given orders. The results showed that the way a sailor was addressed largely determined the kind of response he gave. When a sailor was given an order in a soft voice he responded in a soft voice. When he was shouted at his answer was also sharp. What we say and the way we say it affects the response we get and leads to either conflict or peace. The words that we say can give a mixed message due to our tone of voice. Sarcasm may seem funny but it isn’t loving.

Why do we withhold our thoughts of love from each other when these can heal past hurts and deepen a relationship? The reason lies in our own past. No one said these words to us so we feel strange, awkward and vulnerable when we say them. But the risk is worth it and will bring many rewards. Comment on positive traits such as kindness, generosity or thoughtfulness in addition to commenting on things loved ones accomplish or on their appearance. Affirmations heal our mind, body and soul.

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1

Blessings, Dottie

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Healing Power of Faith

There is scientific evidence that faith heals. A 1995 issue of The Mind/Body Medicine Newsletter cited a study by Thomas Oxman of Dartmouth Medical School. Oxman investigated the role faith plays in health. The study of 232 patients who had open heart surgery found that patients who gained strength and comfort from their religious beliefs were three times more likely to survive than those who had no comfort from religious faith. In addition, those who participated in social and community groups had three times the survival rate of those who didn’t take part in any organized activity. Those who had both protective factors - religious and social support - had a ten fold increase in survival.

The researchers don’t understand how faith extends life. They speculate that faith is physiologically calming and prevents problems during recovery. Also, faith gives meaning to life which is medically helpful. In contrast, the person without faith leads a more stressful life due to the lack of purpose he attributes to life.

Larry Dossey, M.D., in his book Healing Words presents evidence that prayer heals. Dossey cites a double-blind controlled study of 393 patients assigned to two groups. 192 patients were prayed for and 201 patients were not prayed for. The results were dramatic. The group that was prayed for were five times less likely to require antibiotics and three times less likely to develop pulmonary edema. He says “It is simply a fact that patients sometimes improve dramatically following prayer.”

A Columbia University study reported in the New York Times Magazine, December 9, 2001, found that women in a fertility clinic were almost twice as likely to get pregnant when, without their knowledge, strangers were praying for them to conceive. Women in the prayed-for group had a pregnancy rate of 50 percent versus 26 percent for women in the control group.

Those of us who have experienced the healing power of prayer are not surprised by these findings.

“Is anyone of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is anyone of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.” James 4:13-15

Blessings, Dottie

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Healing Power of the Mind

Worried and fearful thoughts fill our minds when we’re in a crisis of any kind. Worry is natural but not helpful. We need to stop thinking the worst. We need to harness the power of our minds to stop worried or anxious thoughts. We can learn to refocus our attention. Instead of fighting the thought, switch channels in your mind and focus on something else.

One key is to replace worry thoughts with positive thoughts. We can contradict worry thoughts by counting our blessings. We can overcome worry thoughts by imagining a peaceful scene. We can distract our minds with an activity - read a book, run an errand, or talk with a friend. Turn off news accounts and violent TV if it adds to worry; watch shows that relax you and make you laugh.

Meditation is one key to refocusing your attention. Many think of meditation as a mindless exercise in letting thoughts come as they will. Actually meditation is a form of focused thinking. Synonyms for meditation include: contemplation, reflection, deliberation, examination and visualization. Rick Warren in his book, The Purpose Driven Life says that “if you know how to worry, you already know how to meditate.” Worry is focused thinking on something negative. Meditation is focused thinking on something positive. Use scripture, meditation and prayer to stop worry thoughts.

To learn more read Self Talk, Soul Talk by Jennifer Rothschild. Memorize the Serenity Prayer and the scripture below. Both will help you use the healing power of your thoughts.

The Serenity Prayer
God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Healing Power of Small Groups

In difficult times a small group can be healing, offering a place where it is safe to talk on a deeper level than usually happens in social settings. Many churches offer small groups as a way to connect closely and learn together. There are “share groups” available to anyone who has been on the spiritual retreat called the Emmaus Walk. Similarly, there are many Promise Keeper men’s groups.

There also are many support groups available to help with personal issues. These groups include Overeaters Anonymous, 12 step groups, (AA, AlAnon, and Celebrate Recovery), cancer support groups and The Third Option (for hurting couples), Grief Share, Divorce Care, Job Search and others. Groups united around specific interests are also helpful such as writing groups and hobby groups. Groups are helpful because “No man is an island” – we need relationships that are authentic, safe and affirming.

Groups become bonded emotionally. The members care about each other. The group rejoices over the success of the members and offers emotional support when difficulties occur. Over time, openness and trust grow.

Look for a small group that is healthy. Scott Peck, psychiatrist, makes a distinction between a healthy group and a cult. A healthy group draws people in by its connectedness, applies no pressure for people to stay and glories in the extraordinary differences of its members while a cult exerts tremendous pressure to join and is characterized by a certain sameness of the people in them.

Though a support group involves personal sharing this should happen gradually and only as you feel trust in the group. You should be allowed to listen and observe at first and only expected to participate as you are ready. I highly recommend support groups.

“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Healing Power of Touch

Touching is very important to all human beings. This is especially true in a crisis or difficulty. Touch is healing, comforting and good for us. We avoid touch when we need it the most because we want to appear strong or don’t want to cry. Instead, we need to step out of our comfort zone and offer and receive hugs. Touching is good for our health and boosts our immune system.

Infants deprived of touch fail to thrive and may even die. In contrast, babies who are held and cuddled develop better cognitive abilities. A study showed premature infants who were massaged for 15 minutes three times a day gained weight 47 percent faster than others who were left alone. The nervous system of the massaged infants matured more rapidly. The massaged babies were more active and more responsive than those who were not massaged.

Adults deprived of touch often suffer from low self-esteem, ill health and a weakening of the immune system, as well as depression and loneliness. Similarly, adults who have plenty of physical contact have fewer emotional problems, less depression and report less stress. Hugging and touching increases oxygen levels in the blood and reduces blood pressure. Hugging is obviously very good for us. Yet we often live in low touch environments.

Many of us have grown up in homes where little affectionate touch was offered. It may not seem natural to ask for or give a hug. We need to do it anyway! This can have a positive effect on the immune functioning of our family and friends. A pat on the back, a touch on the arm or better yet an affectionate hug will help both the giver and the receiver’s immune system. We should be hugging each other many times a day. God gave us skin and the pleasures of touch so we would connect lovingly with each other.

“All who touched him were healed." Matthew 14:36

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Healing Power of Tears

In difficult times it helps to let go and cry. Tears are therapeutic. Crying relieves stress and gets us in touch with inner feelings. Usually we feel better after we cry. Interest in tears goes way back. Ovid, in 42 B.C. said, “It is a relief to weep.” Mr. Bumble, in Charles Dickens Oliver Twist said: “Crying opens the lungs, washes the countenance, exercises the eyes and softens down the temper. So cry away.”

The tears we shed when we are sad have a different chemical composition than those shed when we peel an onion or when we tear up from irritants such as wind or dust. Tears are our body’s way of removing harmful chemicals that build up due to stress. Research at the University of Pittsburgh compared a group of healthy people to a group who had stress related illnesses. The responses showed that the healthy men and women cry more often and accept their tears, while those with illnesses viewed tears negatively.

Crying isn’t easy. Even those who seem to cry easily may avoid their deeper feelings, only allowing a few tears to escape at emotional moments. Our frozen feelings are submerged out of sight, like an ice berg. They’re too painful to face, we think, so we deny them. We avoid inner pain from childhood, from failed relationships, from the loss of loved ones and from life’s disappointments. And we experience daily frustrations in which we feel like crying but don’t.

Ann Kaiser Stearns in her book, Living Through Personal Crisis, says that “healing involves being willing to hurt more in order to hurt less.” Tears are very effective in helping us mourn losses in life, in helping us grieve and let go of the past and in helping us release tension from the daily frustrations of life. When we block out painful feelings we also block all feelings to some extent. Crying is good for the soul.

“Jesus wept.” John 11:35

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Healing Power of Laughter

Another key in times of crisis is the healing power of laughter. Life is serious but it needn't be solemn. Humans are the only creatures who can laugh at themselves. We have the ability to stand outside of our selves and see humor in the midst of pain. Laughter helps us bear our pain and our problems. We don't laugh because we're happy. We're happy because we laugh. Laughter eases stress and enables us to keep things in perspective. When we laugh we release emotions just as we do when we cry. Laughter is cathartic. Laughter heals.

Laughing benefits our cardiovascular system by increasing the oxygen in our blood stream. Laughter exercises our lungs and the muscles used in breathing. It stimulates our organs. Studies at Stanford University show that laughter causes an increase in dopamine, an important brain chemical. Dr. Paul Pearsall in his book Super Immunity cites evidence that laughter enhances our immune system.

When we laugh and play we have more energy, are more creative and more flexible. Our problems seem less overwhelming. In our culture play has been thought of as frivolous or a waste of time. But play renews us, preparing us for work. Years ago, Norman Cousins, former editor of the Saturday Review of Literature, used laughter to overcome pain. When he was ill with a disease of the connective tissues he discovered that watching old Marx Brothers movies and reruns of Candid Camera TV shows allowed him to be pain free for several hours afterwards.

Notice what makes you laugh. Perhaps you have a favorite comic strip. Clip it out and post it to prolong your laughter. Also look for books, TV programs or movies that make you laugh. You can even try YouTube - waterbed prank, and watch a hilarious video.

Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Healing Power of Music

Another key that helps in times of crisis is the healing power of music. Evidence shows that singing is good for our health and boosts our energy levels. Music affects our health positively in many ways. Soothing sounds are credited with preventing colds, easing labor pains, lowering blood pressure, increasing endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers), calming anxiety and boosting our immune system. One study found that surgery patients exposed to soothing music had less pain and shorter recovery time than those who were not. Dr. Mitchell L. Gaynor, author of Sounds of Healing, uses harmonious sounds in helping cancer patients recover.

The sounds of soothing music are low. Sounds above 90 decibels cause ear damage. Disharmony and noise jar our nerves and cause depressed or pessimistic thoughts or feelings. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine studied choir members who sang a Beethoven choral number. They found that a protein used by the immune system to fight disease increased 150 percent during rehearsals and 240 percent during a performance. The boost seemed related to the singers’ happy or euphoric state of mind. The more passionate they felt while singing, the greater the increase.

This research suggests we should all rush out and join a choir. Or at least we could find a place of worship with uplifting singing and music. We certainly could sing in the shower and listen to comforting or uplifting music on a daily basis. It also indicates we try to avoid disharmony. Many stress producing sounds bombard our ears every day. We can’t avoid the noise of jackhammers or the sounds of traffic. But we can mute the jarring TV commercials, choose to turn off the violent or pessimistic fare offered on TV and keep our voices pleasant at home. And we can sing!

“Sing praises to God, sing praises, sing praises to our King, sing praises.” Psalm 47:6

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Healing Power of Relaxation

Another key that helps in times of crisis is the healing power of relaxation. Research shows relaxation can lessen the effects of many physical symptoms and it can reduce many of our negative emotions - anger, anxiety, fear and depression. One study of men who took an afternoon nap showed that they had 30% to 50% less risk of heart attack.  

In another study individuals who were taught relaxation techniques were able to fall asleep four times faster than they were previously. Relaxation can lessen pain during medical and dental procedures and during surgery. Relaxation can lessen nausea and vomiting connected with chemotherapy, and can reduce the length and pain of childbirth. Relaxation can even boost the functioning of our immune system.

Relaxation is almost discouraged by the culture. Our life styles are rushed and our commitments are many. When we have “free” time we look for a chore to do or we flip on the TV, the computer or reach for the telephone. Many of us don’t know how to relax. We can learn to relax by doing it.

Begin by setting aside 20 minutes each day. Use your imagination to keep your mind off your pain and to help you relax. Visualize a peaceful scene. See yourself in this scene and use all your senses to notice specific details such as a soft breeze, a butterfly, puffy white clouds. Concentrate on deep breathing and letting go. Let this special time be a gift to you. There is no right or wrong way to relax. Experiment and notice what helps your body and mind let go. Be patient with yourself and with the process of learning to relax. To learn more about relaxation read: The Relaxation Response by Herbert Benson, M.D

Be still and know that I am God.” Psalms 46:10

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Healing Power of Our Thoughts

Last week I talked about people who recently received very bad news and some keys to help in tough times. Today I’ll explore the healing power of our thoughts. We need to guard our thoughts. They can either heal us or make us sicker. Our thoughts have a profound effect on our moods and on our pain.

Notice what you say to yourself about your trauma. Thoughts such as “I can’t stand this” or “I’m never going to feel any better” can cause you to tense up, causing more pain or even more illness. Distract yourself from the pain or difficulty. Focus on something other than your symptoms. Focus on what you can still do, rather than on what you’re unable to do. Our attitude and our thoughts have a powerful effect on our health.

Herbert Benson, M.D. in his book Timeless Healing cites the placebo effect as evidence of the power of our thoughts. Patients believe sugar pills will alleviate their symptom and their belief makes this happen. A 1988 research study at Brown University showed that patients with chronic pain were more likely to be impaired, no matter the severity of their pain, if they believed pain indicated impairment. In other words, those who believed pain and disability were always linked became more impaired. When patients focused their minds on thoughts of being active and well, even though in pain, their health improved.

Focusing on positive thoughts in the midst of pain, fatigue and invasive or immune lowering treatments is not easy. The key is to monitor your thoughts and don’t dwell on how bad you feel. Acknowledge your illness or pain but think about other things most of the time. We can’t control what happens to us but we can learn to control our thoughts.

You’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst. The beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Philippians 4: 8 The Message

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Shocking News

Several of my friends or relatives have recently experienced traumatic events in their lives. One friend lost two family members suddenly. A friend’s daughter was in a serious accident in another country. And two people I know received the diagnosis of breast cancer. All of these events are distressing, painful, and shocking to those involved. These are not minor events, but major and life changing events. They affect every member of the family.

Emotional reactions to crisis events are common but often misunderstood or even overlooked. Initially there is a period of shock and disbelief. Those affected may appear to be coping with the crisis while actually they are numb, acting strong or “putting on a smiley face.” Underneath they may be suppressing many feelings.

Later, when the reality of what has happened hits home, feelings spill out. The cancer patient and the spouse, for example, can then be overwhelmed with a variety of feelings - anger, fear, anxiety, and depression. Those affected may be facing, for the first time, their own and each other’s mortality. It’s essential for couples and families in crisis to give comfort and support to each other, talk about it, share the pain, even cry together. All of this is therapeutic. Journaling and exercising are also helpful in dealing with the many emotions that can almost overwhelm us in a crisis.

David Haynie, my nephew, and Kathy Haynie, his sister, are combining exercise and writing in a unique way that will help many. They have decided to walk in the Susan G. Komen sixty mile, 3 Day Walk for the Cure in Philadelphia, in support of Liz, Dave’s wife, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Kathy writes about her experiences preparing for the sixty mile walk and Dave writes about the ups and downs of Liz having cancer. Their blogs are worth reading. To see Kathy’s blog click here.

Dave’s blog can be accessed from Kathy’s. I’ll write more next week about other keys that will help when in the midst of a crisis and beyond.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Magic Keys to Good Relationships

I’ve thought of two virtually magic keys to good relationships. The first is validation. It rests on the idea that everything we do in a relationship is either building it up or tearing it down. Isn’t that a scary thought? When we build up a relationship we confirm our bond with the other person and we affirm the other person. How do we do this? Here is a list of things that build up a relationship:

•Let your eyes light up when you see each other.
•Look into your partner’s eyes.
•Listen, really listen.
•Acknowledge feelings. “That must really hurt.”
•Hold hands.
•Give hugs and say “I love you.”
•Give compliments. “You look nice today.”
•Give appreciation. “Thanks for taking out the trash.”
•Smile and enjoy each other.

Love one another deeply from the heart.” 1Peter 1:22

The second magic key is prayer. Prayer unites us in an eternal purpose beyond our mundane daily life. Praying together bonds us with each other and with God. We cannot hide from God and so a prayerful connection opens our hearts to Him and to each other in a new and almost magical way. If you’ve never prayed together begin with sentence prayers and progress to a time of prayer together when both of you pray. Some couples start their day with prayer and some end their day this way. Do what works for you but take risks and gain the rewards of knowing God and each other better.

Come near to God and he will come near to you.” James 4:8

For more on validation see youtube below. It’s worth the time.

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

More Risk Taking

For two weeks now I’ve explored thoughts about couples and families who live life on the surface, never really connecting with each other. Last week I suggested asking each other about childhood memories and having fun learning more about the past experiences of loved ones. Today I’ll offer some more topics to deepen relationships.

Some couples find it difficult to communicate about their relationship. When this seems risky, go slowly and keep it positive. Speak about your own thoughts and feelings with sentences that begin with “I think or I feel…” rather than “You think, or you…anything.” When a question or sentence starts with “you” it’s apt to sound blaming or critical to the other person.

Here are some positive ways to begin. Describe the happiest day of your marriage. Tell which vacation was the best one and why. If there’s mutual agreement about having discussions of this kind you can both answer questions such as these: What surprised each of you the most about marriage? About being a parent? About each other? What do you like best about each other? Give positive answers. This is not a time to criticize.

Bring up topics about your future also. What are your hopes, dreams and ambitions? What are your career goals? What do you each hope to be doing five years from now? Ten years from how? What kind of retirement do you hope to have? During all of these discussions be a good listener and be positive in responding to each other. This will encourage further communication.

Next week I’ll continue with an almost magic key to deepening relationships.

A wise man’s heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction. Proverbs 16:23

Blessings, Dottie

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Taking a Risk

Last week I talked about couples and families who live life on the surface, never really opening up to each other. There are many reasons for this pattern in relationships. At some point in life everyone is hurt by a relationship and we play it safe as a result. Others may have grown up in families with little or no close connection. They get accustomed to the interactions they experienced as children. But no one needs to be stuck in this pattern.

It will feel risky to change things. To start, introduce non-threatening but personal topics. For example, most of us have stories we can tell about our childhood experiences. Take turns telling each other childhood memories. What were you like as a little child? What was the worst thing that happened to you? What was the best? What was the funniest? When were you happiest? Find out all you can about each phase of each other’s life.

An easy way to do this is to get out old photo albums and look through these together, describing your childhoods as revealed in the photos. There’s no need to do this all at once. In fact, if you spend a half hour at a time and keep coming back to it, you may enjoy it more and learn more. Parents can tell children about their childhood in this way also.

Try this and I’ll offer more ideas next week.

Pleasant words are like honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24

Blessings, Dottie

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Play It Safe

It’s easy for a marriage to become routine and distant. We say the same things to each other over and over. "How was your day?" "What's new?" Our questions and our answers are routine. We avoid all topics except those having to do with the children or our work or necessary chores. Or we talk about the news and the weather. We stick to safe topics.

These topics are fine and some of them are necessary in order for a marriage and a family to function. The problem is they don’t help us get close to one another. Nor do they give us much personal information. Some times entire families operate this way. It’s as though each person is in a self contained bubble. We bump up against each other’s bubble with surface talk, without connecting or comprehending or caring and without listening or loving. We see things from our own perspective and may long to connect but don’t know how.

Couples and families can change the way they communicate. One person can change things. One person can vary the routine by making one "different" statement each day. The best way to do this is to start small and positive. Take a risk and tell your loved one some thing positive you’ve never shared before; tell what you appreciate about him/her. This will feel scary and may get no reaction or may not get the reaction you hope for. Over time it can make a difference. We can burst each others bubbles in a gentle and good way. We can stop playing it safe. I’ll say more about this next week.

Let your conversation be always full of grace. Colossians 4:6

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

U No Why

I recently followed a car with “U No Why” on the license plate. It puzzled me. It didn't seem like a vanity plate. I wanted to stop the car and ask what the message on the license plate meant. Why would someone choose something like this? I speculated about the reason and what the driver would say.

He/she might say “Do you know why we’re here on this earth? Is there purpose to our existence or is it random chance?” They might ask “Do you know why God created us? Do you know why the sun shines and the sky is blue? Do you know why every finger print and every snow flake is different? Is this by design or by chance?"

I think this plate belongs to a Christian who wants to get people thinking and asking questions. How empty life would be if there is no reason for our existence – nothing but chance. How meaningful life is when we know God. Both of these can’t be true. It has to be one or the other. When we realize there is a marvelous purpose to life and a magnificent God guiding and directing us, we find meaning and purpose in all we do.

I think this license plate is not a vanity plate at all. It’s a “value” plate. It sends an important message. It reminds me of this: “No God. No Peace. Know God. Know peace.”

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” Psalms 111:10

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Drifting in Marriage

Last week I touched on the problem of couples drifting apart in marriage. Drifting apart is a common problem though couples who “just drift apart” often are surprised when problems surface. Both are blind to any difficulties. There are three possible reasons for drift.

Some of us grew up in homes where relationships were distant, where there was little connection. As a result we avoid closeness without realizing it. You may want more closeness but also be uncomfortable when you are close to someone. To overcome this type of drift you will need to take small risks in allowing yourself to be closer to your partner. Push your limit little by little.

If the drifting has gone on for a while resentment may build up about the distance. Or the distancing may be caused by resentment about other issues between you. Find a way to bridge the resentment and distance. In addition to talking about it - romance, fun, affection and sex can bridge the gap.

Another cause of drift is our belief that once we find “the right person” we will live happily ever after without any effort. This is not how love works. Every marriage, every relationship, requires effort in order for it to thrive and grow. Consciously work on making your marriage a close, fun, special relationship. At the beginning of a relationship we spend time thinking about the person and looking forward to time together. We enjoy being with the person; we admire and value the person. We’re affectionate and we express our positive feelings to the person. Do these things now and you will stop the drift.

If these ideas don’t help check out the marriage resources listed here. Click on Smart Marriages and The Third Option for information on help for marriages.

"Let love and faithfulness never leave you." Proverbs 3:3

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Drifting apart in a marriage usually happens very slowly. Drift begins when we stop spending time together or don’t talk as much as usual. It may begin due to a disagreement that leaves us with hurt and anger. We don’t know how to resolve our issues so we keep our conversation safe. We avoid controversy. We avoid our feelings. We never get beyond small talk.

This is exactly what happens when we “drift” away from God. We’re too busy for prayer or bible study. We say a brief prayer on the run, telling God we’ll get back to him later. We don’t open our deep hurts and troubles to God. We keep our prayers safe. We may even be angry at God and avoid talking with him.

Do we really want to know God? Drifting is serious business. I know, because I drifted far away from God and didn’t come back for many years. God waits, wanting to hear from us every day. And he always takes us back.

We miss out on so much when we drift away from God. When we stay close and seek him we feel his presence, receive his guidance and live by his Spirit more and more. We may even say, “Did not our heart burn within us.” Luke 24:32 NKJV

Have you spent time with God today?

Blessings, Dottie

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Good News for Introverts

She grew up shy and quiet, and thinking something was wrong with her. She enjoys silence and being alone. She’s not articulate in groups, but thoughts and words come easily when she writes. When she talks she doesn’t sound as knowledgeable as she is. Her thoughts come out slowly, jumbled, or not at all. Her brain is slow to process what others say. She’ll think of what she wished she’d said, but it’s too late to say it. Social events wear her out. After being out in the world she’s wound up and has trouble sleeping. She’s an introvert.

Donald Miller, in Blue Like Jazz, compares himself to an electric drill needing to be charged for twenty hours in order to run for ten minutes. He needs a lot of down time, yet recognizes the need we all have for people, and the danger of being alone too much. Introverts are quiet and reclusive. Extroverts are outgoing and social. Extroverts gain energy in a group and introverts lose energy in a group.

I have good news for all introverts out there. There’s nothing wrong with being quiet and reserved. God designed you the way you are. If there were no introverts there would be no writers! There’s now scientific and psychological evidence that being an introvert has advantages. Marti Olsen Laney in, The Introvert Advantage, gives valuable tips to help introverts not just get by, but actually flourish in our extroverted world.

Enjoy the book. Introverts love to read. I know because I’m an introvert.

You created my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:13-14

Blessings, Dottie

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Resurrection

Do you remember what the world looked like in February? Here’s a picture of my rose bushes – there were no roses under the snow. Nothing was there but dead branches.

I attended four funerals in May – all were funerals of faithful Christians. While funerals are not my favorite pastime they aren’t the worst activity either. I went to each funeral to show love and support for the family members, but each funeral also blessed me because of the faith of each family.

Losses are difficult and painful. Yet each of the four families spoke with hope and faith about the loved one now being with God. The fact that these were Christian funerals made them a time of celebration, hope and rejoicing as well as a time of sadness at the loss of each person.

I’ve been to funerals where the families were without faith. These are really sad affairs. You live and you die and that’s it. There’s no eternal purpose to life. And certainly, there’s no eternal life afterward. The song, “If You Could See Me Now,” was played two of the funerals. The chorus of this song says

If you could see me now…
You wouldn't want me to ever leave this place,
If you could only see me now.

Nature reveals the truth of the resurrection, I believe. Remember how my roses looked in February? Here’s how they look now. How can we see these evidences in nature and not believe? This takes more faith than believing does.

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” John 11:25

Blessings, Dottie

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Journaling for Healing

Keeping a journal is one of the most effective things you can do to gain insight into current problems, and to grow emotionally and spiritually. Writing down thoughts and feelings is therapeutic. You don’t need to share your writing with anyone. You will gain new perspectives through writing, as though you had shared your thoughts with an actual person.

James W. Pennebaker, Ph.D., in his book, Opening Up, The Healing Power of Expressing Emotion, describes a study of unemployed men. The men who wrote about losing their jobs found new jobs much more quickly than the two control groups. Writing helped them vent anger, hurt and pain about their job loss. It enabled them to let go of painful experiences, and this in turn, helped them be effective in finding employment.

Writing will help with any type of crisis or problem. If you’re dealing with anger or resentment, write a letter to the person you’re angry with, but don’t send the letter. Sending an angry letter makes things worse. The point is to get your anger, hurt or pain out on paper. Include specific details when you write. This helps you understand what happened, and helps you let go of anger and hurt.

Writing about painful feelings isn’t easy. You may have to make yourself do this. When an issue troubles you, write for twenty to thirty minutes without censoring what you write. Let your feelings out without trying to be rational. Repeat this three to five days in a row. Save what you write and reread it a week later.

Journeling scripture is also life changing. Jounaling the promises and the commands in the Bible will grow your faith.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalms 147:3

Blessings, Dottie

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Journaling For Change

In my last post I told about keeping a list of family events. You can make lists about most anything. Here are a few ideas: Pet Peeves, Things I Don’t Understand, Things I Worry About, My Fears, My Goals. Lists are helpful if you lead a busy life and don’t have time to journal. When you have time, you can write more about each item listed. Journaling will heal and change you.

There are many ways to journal.
1. Write in the form of letters, to yourself, to someone you’ve hurt or to someone who has hurt you. Say whatever comes to your mind. Say all the things you want to say but never dared. Saying things in an unsent letter doesn’t hurt anyone and it can help you.

2. Write about each stage in life. Write about childhood, teen years, college, early marriage, children, teenagers, the empty nest, work, job changes, losses, and faith.

3. Write a vision of your life in the future. Write in positive terms, as though it has already happened. Keep this vision in your mind each day. Visualizing the way we want things to be helps us fulfill our dreams.

4. Keep a gratitude journal. List five things each day that you’re grateful for. This can change your perception and your life. It’s therapeutic to write about anger and hurt, but we need to also focus on the positive things in life.

5. Write prayers. Open your heart to God and put it in writing. God specializes in changing people and situations.

 I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Meet My Journal

A friend wondered about the picture on your right. Meet one of my favorite journals. It’s covered with roses with an ordinary pen laying on it. I used this picture because my blog is a written blog (as opposed to an art blog, or a photo blog). I’m conveying this in a visual way with my journal and pen picture.

I’m a writer. I have been journaling – or writing a diary – or writing things down much of my life. It pays off in many ways. For instance, the list in my last blog, Pet Tales, was jotted down when I had three very active children and little free time. I wish I’d written more back then. Little children grow so fast and our memories are fleeting. Unless we write down the surprising things they say, the significant events, and our inspired or mundane thoughts, they’re lost. Mothers of young children, take note.

There are many ways to journal and anyone can do it. It’s best to write in a notebook or journal so you can refer back to it. It’s best to write at least once a week. I do this now, but there have been years when I wrote for a few days or weeks and then no more. Don’t worry about the rules; do what works for you.

An easy way to get started with journaling is to make lists. This works well if you’re always on the run. One of the most useful lists I have is a list of all our vacations, family reunions and major events such as job changes and family funerals. All I record is the date, the event, who attended it and where it was. With a computer it’s easy to keep a running list. It can be updated at the end of the year before you throw out last year’s calendar. It’s been helpful in remembering what year things happened. I call my list "Days of Our Lives." (Is this still the name of a soap opera?) I’ll write more about journaling next time.

The front of my roses covered journal says, Do everything in love.
1 Corinthians 16:14  I wish I could. That’s a goal we can work toward.

Blessings, Dottie

Monday, May 3, 2010

Pet Tales

When writing my last post about various critters, I ran across this account on mice, gerbils and a turtle. It makes me laugh every time I read it. This happened a long time ago.

April 16  Purchased two white mice & cage for son, 9.   
Purchased gerbil cage for son, age 7. Purchased turtle and turtle bowl for daughter, age 5. One mouse loose in store.

April 20 Turtle needs bigger bowl and won't eat boxed food. Purchased bowl. Every child in the neighborhood is catching flies and bugs for the turtle.

May 3 Nine year old son builds fort for mice from blocks. They love it. He leaves them in it and both are loose in basement.

May 4 One mouse can go through bars of cage. Nine year old getting better at catching them. Put cage on TV tray.

May 5-11 Hunt for mice every morning.

May 11 Mother's Day! Bought screen for mouse cage; fastened it on the outside of the cage, half way up.

May 12 Hunt for mice. Put screen all the way up.

May 13 Hunt for mice. Put screen on top also.
May 14 Mouse out through seam at top. Hunt for mouse.

May 15 Fix screen on inside of cage.

May 16 Turtle bowl cracked. Purchased new one.

May 17 Water dispenser for mice broken. Purchased new one.

May 21 Seven year old’s baby gerbils old enough to join us. Bought food, litter, and water bottle.

May 22 Seeds all over floor of seven year old’s bedroom.

May 23 Cleaned up seeds; switched to sunflower seeds.

May 26 Litter all over floor. They scratch. Put cardboard around edges of cage.

May 27 Gerbil water bottle leaks.

May 28 Bought new plug for bottle.       

May 29 Turtle bowl leaks.

June 1 No turtle bowls available.

June 2 No turtle bowls available.

June 3 7 A.M. One gerbil missing, one mouse missing. Everyone searched. Found mouse before school.   Couldn't find gerbil. Fixed gerbil cage with screen half way up. No turtle bowls available. Bought plastic sweater box and more gravel for the turtle. 7 P.M. Kids found gerbil in basement.

June 4 Midnight. Mouse out.

June 5 Sewed screen to cage with nylon fishing line!

From my current perspective what’s the lesson? The minor trials raising children and pets are cause for laughter and delight today, remembering.

May the Lord richly bless both you and your children. Psalm 115:14 NLT
Blessings, Dottie

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Buzzards, Bees, Bats & Deer

A deer came to visit us the other day. He emptied our bird feeder but ignored our hostas. I took a great picture of him so had to find a way to write about it. (I have no pets to display on my blog as a certain other blogger does.)  So here’s the picture.

This time of year with flowers, trees and bushes blossoming and creatures abounding, we see creation at its best. “How many are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you made them all, the earth is full of your creatures.” Psalm 104:24

God’s creatures get stuck in ways similar to the chained elephant described in a previous blog posted 4-12-10. Place a buzzard in a 6 by 8 foot pen, open at the top, and it will be trapped. Without ten or twelve feet of space to run, it will not attempt to fly. The buzzard will be a prisoner for life in a small jail with no top.

The ordinary bat cannot take off from a level place. If a bat is placed on flat ground, all it can do is shuffle about helplessly until it reaches a slight elevation, then it can throw itself into the air.

A bumblebee, dropped into a tumbler, will try to find a way out through the sides near the bottom. It will seek a way where none exists, until it completely destroys itself.

We are like the buzzard, the bat, and the bumblebee. We struggle with problems and frustrations, never realizing we can escape our ruts or traps by looking up and “flying” up. When we pray and seek God’s guidance he helps us leave our comfort zones. We break free from our traps.

What about the deer? Irish Spring soap is embedded in each hosta to ward off deer. I guess we’ll place a bit of the soap in our bird feeder.

All of these are God’s creatures. David wrote about deer, a good prayer for us to pray. “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.” Psalm 42:1

Blessings, Dottie

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Making A Difference: Dogs, Prisoners & People

I recently read a newspaper article about an amazing charity named Circle Tail, Inc. It’s amazing because it helps everyone involved. According to their web page “Circle Tail provides assistance dogs to people with mobility, hearing, neurologic or psychiatric disabilities.”

Most of the dogs are rescued from dog pounds. The founder, Marlys Staley, trains the dogs at her kennel and places them with prison inmates for further training and care before they are placed with someone in need. The inmates learn how to train dogs and they also learn to be patient and conscientious.

Her goal is to help others every step of the way. She certainly does that. The dogs are rescued, many from being euthanized; the prisoners are helped by having a valuable job to do while they “do time” and the people with needs are ultimately helped when they receive an assistance dog.

Circle Tail also offers dogs for adoption, offers obedience training, behavior management and boarding. To learn more, check out their web page at Be sure to read on the web page some of the stories about the dogs and the people involved.

I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to visit me.
                                                                      Matthew 25:35-36

Blessings, Dottie

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Blog Questions Answered

It’s been an interesting two to three weeks with many friends uncertain about this world of “blogdom.” Here are the questions I was asked and my answers.

What is a blog?
A blog is short for WEB LOG. It’s an on line journal. A blog can be set up in many ways. Many people post family pictures to share with other family members. Many use a blog to keep relatives and friends informed when someone in the family is going through a crisis. A happier reason to have one is to build a following as a writer or as an artist.

I am not sure how to respond on the Blog. Yours is the first Blog I have ever looked at. Maybe you could give some suggestions about navigating on a Blog.

I have never signed on to be a follower, so don't know exactly what to do.

1. You can read what I have posted by going to my blog address I hope to post something new weekly. The most recent post will be shown first with previous ones available below. You can look at my blog anytime you wish.

2. To be a follower, click on the area on the right side where it says Follow. You can do this publicly or privately. They will give directions for this after you click.

3. If you have a blog and become a follower of mine our blogs can be linked.

4. It will help me to have many followers. This shows agents and publishers I have “a platform,” necessary in today’s world to be published.

5. At the bottom of each post is a button for comments. Life is busy. Comment only when you have an overwhelming desire. How? Click comments, give your email address, and type in your comment.

That's all I know on this subject. Thanks for checking out my blog.

He who gets wisdom loves his own soul, he who cherishes understanding prospers. Proverbs 19:8

Blessings, Dottie

Monday, April 12, 2010

More on Choosing Change

Most of us try to change or improve ourselves. We want to exercise, meet more people, look for another job, but we don’t get around to doing anything different. Why is change so hard? Here’s an answer from one of my Family Counselor columns:

Young circus elephants are chained to a stake in the ground from a young age. Initially they struggle and pull against the chain trying to get free. After a while they give up and stay where they’re chained. When they grow bigger and stronger they have the strength to break free but they don’t even try. They don’t “believe” they can break free.

In many ways we’re conditioned like the elephants. We may have been called “stupid” as a child and “decide” we can’t get good grades, we can’t achieve much. So we don’t try. Or we’re labeled “shy” and think we can’t be outgoing or friendly. So we don’t try. We don’t try to do something new. Like the elephants we’re chained in one place.

Change is scary. It's easier to stay where we are. It’s easier to drift through life than it is to take "risks" and do something new or different. Instead of striving to be our best, we're content to get by. Most of us have a "comfort zone," a range of customary behavior. When we do something outside our comfort zone we feel anxious even when it’s something we really want to do.

To change, begin visualizing yourself succeeding. Like the young elephants, you’re now stronger and more mature than when your beliefs were formed. Don’t focus on pathology ("What's wrong with me?"), focus on growth ("How can I become a better person?"). There’s no substitute for action. Don't let butterflies in the stomach stop you. Think of anxiety as another name for excitement or challenge. Plan what you will do and do it.

There is only one way elephants chained all their life learn to break free. When they see the flames of a fire, they break loose. The same is true for us. When a crisis comes in life, we’re forced to move out of our comfort zones; we must take risks. Don't wait for a crisis. Take action now.

A risk involves faith. Pray and seek God’s will. Take action as he guides you. With his power in us we can leave our comfort zones. We can break free from our chains.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 NKJV

Blessings, Dottie

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Faith if the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 NKJV


Let me introduce myself. I’m a Christian, a wife, mother, grandmother, counselor, and writer. I’m starting this blog to share my written thoughts. I write much better than I talk. I really do. Words flow out of me when I write. It surprises even me. (Yes, I also can edit them when they’re written.)

I’ve been journaling for years and have nuggets from this source to share. I also wrote a newspaper advice column for eighteen years and will share excerpts from my column. I love to read, so I’ll review and recommend the books I like best. For the last year I’ve been writing a book about changes in churches today. You may hear about this also.

Choosing Change

Starting this blog is exciting and scary. It’s something I’ve never done before. I’m choosing change. I wrote on this topic in my weekly Family Counselor column in 1999. Here’s an excerpt:
Three things will change the direction of our lives: Crisis, Chance and Choice. When we face a crisis such as a life threatening illness, our priorities radically change. We are shaken to the core and forced to break out of our old habits, thoughts and beliefs. A crisis is a type of conversion. We see the world in a different way and we handle life differently.

We are changed by chance when something outside of us impacts our life. For example, our life changes by chance when we win the lottery or are struck by lightning. Change that occurs as a result of chance is not something we can plan or make happen. Nor can we be sure of the direction it will take us.

Changes that occur as a result of choice are the best kind. With choice we are using our free will to make decisions that will move us in a new direction in life. What greater thrill! Changes that we choose are positive ones, they are changes we’ve yearned for, prayed for and worked for.

Why is change so difficult and why do we backslide so? Doing something we’ve never done takes us out of our comfort zone. Choosing change involves risks. Doing something new or different takes more effort than our usual routines. We “relapse” because the new way is more difficult or feels scary. We also “relapse’ because that’s the way most of us change. We don’t change in a straight line always getting better. Change is more likely to be a progression, three steps forward and one step back.

When we backslide we need to accept it and learn from it. What thought or feeling made us fall down? Our relapses give us valuable information on why we go back to our old ways. We also need to accept the fact that we’re human and we will fall short at times. Just start over and work your plan. Each time we pick ourselves up and begin again we grow stronger and more consistent in our new behavior.

Learn to motivate yourself toward your goals. Keeping a journal detailing your progress and your setbacks can help. A positive attitude is essential. Focus more on your successes than on your failures. Change is necessary. Without change we don’t grow. Crisis or chance may force us to change if we don’t choose to change.

I would add, seek God’s will and he will guide and direct your change.

This wasn’t so hard. I’ve chosen change. I now have a blog!

Blessings, Dottie