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