Monday, December 19, 2011

Tears at Christmas

Many people experience depression at Christmas. Feeling depressed during the holidays is common for those who have lost a loved one during the year. Such a loss is keenly felt the first Christmas and for several years afterward. The fact that a loved one is not there cannot be ignored. Nor should it be. Allow sadness and tears to come. Each time you do so, you’re working through your grief further. Don’t dwell only on your loss, however. It’s OK to have happy, fun times during the holidays even though your loved one isn’t there.

Christmas depression is also common in dysfunctional families. Those who grew up in a home in which the holidays were chaotic may have a difficult time at Christmas until they resolve their childhood issues. It’s as though Christmas triggers an “anniversary reaction” to all the painful memories. To overcome this type of Christmas depression it’s important to face the inner pain. The root of the problem in dysfunctional families is often spiritual, so a renewal of faith and connection with a loving church group will help us grow beyond these issues.

Depression at Christmas is also common in seemingly ideal families. When this is true depression may be due to unrealistic expectations. Women often feel enormous responsibility to plan a PERFECT holiday for everyone else. We need to lower our expectations and accept the fact that no occasion is perfect.  We need to involve the whole family in the plans and chores. We need to do less so we can enjoy the holidays more. Remembering the “reason for the season” with participation in church celebrations will also help us let go of our worry and fretting.
Anyone with serious signs of depression such as difficulty sleeping, suicidal thoughts, and little energy, should seek professional counseling.  Brief counseling and medication can ease painful symptoms enabling you to enjoy this joyful season.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 NAB



Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Through the Eyes of a Child

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

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving—A time to count our blessings!

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
praise Him, all creatures here below;
praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

My husband and I have been singing the Doxology before every meal for several months, in addition to saying grace. This lifts our spirits out of the mundane tasks or issues of the day and reminds us to count our blessings.

Thanksgiving is traditionally a time to thank God for our blessings. Many of us take for granted our good fortune, our good health and our freedom. Paul urges us go give thanks in all circumstances. Give thanks even when we’re unhappy? What a revolutionary idea. Paul lives this out and so do other remarkable Christians.

Benjamin Weir, a missionary, was imprisoned for 16 months in Lebanon under terrible conditions in 1984-85. In an interview immediately after his release, reporters asked how he spent his time; how did he cope with boredom and despair? His answer stunned the reporters. He said simply, “Counting my blessings.” He went on to say: “Some days I got to take a shower. Sometimes there were some vegetables in my food.  And I could always be thankful for the love of my family.”
We can understand the astonishment of the reporters. Most of us fail to count our blessings in the midst of abundance. We relax in our comfortable homes. We feast daily on plenty of food. We enjoy freedom. Friends and family surround us. We take our blessings for granted much of the time.

Most of us spend part of each day, week or month complaining, feeling depressed, forlorn, or angry about some circumstance we’re facing that isn’t to our liking. Usually minor annoyances are the cause our angst.

We need to thank God for our blessings daily. We need to cultivate an attitude of gratitude even when we’re down. When we consistently count our blessings we notice God’s abundant provision for us. Counting our blessings brings us closer to him. It helps us remember God’s in charge. It helps us put our trust completely in Him.

This doesn’t mean we never suffer or feel depressed. When we face a major crisis or tragedy, we will grieve. We may go through more tears and sorrow than we’ve ever known before. But in the midst of this we can also count our blessings. We can be thankful for tears that help us express our pain. We can look for and be thankful for a lesson in what we’re going through. 

Singing the doxology at every meal can help us establish an attitude of gratitude. This Thanksgiving Day let’s count our blessings.

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

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What is the secret to closeness? 
Love involves knowing someone. We must allow the other person to know us and vice versa. The problem is most of us spend a great deal of time and energy avoiding being known. We share little about our deepest longings and beliefs. Self disclosure is difficult because we want so much to be loved. So we present ourselves in ways we think will be acceptable to the other person. We hide what we consider to be our flaws.
We also hide our inner self because we were never taught how to reveal it. Our parents didn't model this for us. Instead, we saw them in fixed roles that they had adopted in their distant past. We learned to adopt roles to conceal our inner selves.
We also hide to avoid change. Opening up to others requires changing our usual behavior. It changes our image of ourselves. It is much easier to continue to behave in routine ways and to never take risks in our relationships. 
To create a vital marriage it’s essential to reveal yourself. If you reveal yourself it will encourage your partner to do so. This means telling him or her your innermost feelings. It does not mean blasting him or her with anger. In order to get a rose bud to open up you do not pry open the petals. Human beings need gentle treatment. Start by commenting on things that please you or by telling him or her about happy events, or dreams or wishes.

Don’t expect this to help overnight. Your partner may not respond to this as you hope. In fact, you may get a response that upsets you. For example, your partner may laugh at your expression of feeling. If your partner laughs or reacts negatively this may simply mean the change in you scares or surprises him or her.

Handle any negative reaction you have to your partner’s response by revealing it without blaming. For example, you might say, "I was laughed at as a child and felt shamed and so your laughter bothered me." If possible give a specific example from your childhood. 
Another important reason to self disclose is that we don't know ourselves unless we open up.  When we hide things from others we end up also hiding them from ourselves. Hiding things takes a great deal of energy and puts our minds and bodies under stress. Although you would like your partner to open up to you, you can only work on your side of things and begin to open up to him/her. 

God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love - like Christ in everything.”  Ephesians 4:15 The Message

Blessings, Dottie

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What is love?

This is the best description I know: “Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong.  It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out. If you love someone you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him always expect the best of him and always stand your ground in defending him.” I Corinthians 13:4-7 Living Bible
Now answer these questions to find out how loving you are toward your partner. How do I show love to my partner? Do I say “I love you?” Am I romantic toward my partner? Am I affectionate with him or her? Do I tell my partner the things I appreciate about him or her? Do I give compliments often?

What does my partner want me to do that I’m not doing? Do I respect my partner’s viewpoint when we talk? Do I listen without giving advice or becoming defensive? Am I willing to go to the places my partner wants to go; to have fun or recreation on his or her terms? Do I put my partner first?

Do I expect my partner to mind read; to know when I’m upset, to know when I want affection?  (Hint: No one can do this.) Do I ask for hugs when I need them?  Do I accept the love he or she does offer me?
Have I forgiven my partner for the ways he or she has hurt me? Have I asked for forgiveness for the ways I’ve hurt my partner? Am I holding any grudges against my partner?
These are difficult and important issues. We want love and affection; we want acceptance and understanding from our mates. Most of us don’t realize that this takes time, effort and a giving of oneself.

A new command I give to you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”  John 13:34 NIV

Blessings, Dottie

Monday, October 10, 2011

Does Romance Have to End?

Romantic love is amazing, exciting and thrilling. It also is not “true love.” Romance novels, movies, and television feed our unrealistic expectations of marriage. Our culture programs women to expect a prince on a white horse. A prince will overwhelm her with love. Can any man live up to this image? Men also have expectations that are impossible to meet.
Experts who have studied marriage say that "romantic love" lasts about two years. The problem is we are brought up to expect it to last forever—and with no effort. During courtship the relationship is fresh and new, and both partners put effort into pleasing and romancing each other. Emotions are high and intense.

After marriage it’s natural to drop the courtship behaviors and to fall into a routine. In addition, as time goes on we learn about each other's flaws and idiosyncrasies and we find out how we differ. These are often things we overlook in the heat and passion of romance.
We also are faced with the day-to-day realities of paying the rent, pursuing careers, washing the dishes, doing the laundry and so forth. Some couples are also faced with crises - illness, job problems, financial troubles—which add to their stresses. With all these pressures there is no way marriage can be as carefree and as intensely passionate as a romance.
However, there are advantages to being married. The comfort and security of a committed relationship is something most of us deeply crave. Although a couple may have less to say to each other than they did before marriage, there can be a quiet companionship between them as they carry on their lives together.
There are some things you can do to rekindle the romance in your marriage. Talk over with your partner the concerns you have. Talk about ways to make the marriage more romantic. Perhaps you need to set aside a special time each evening to talk personally, not about bills or work, but about your feelings, thoughts and dreams. A close relationship takes work. If you make the effort to be romantic, to be more involved the relationship will change. Praying together is one way to connect deeply and personally.

Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” Romans 12:10 NLT

Blessings, Dottie

Thursday, September 29, 2011


What are the secrets of marital success? Here are five tips to successful marriage. Couples can make their marriage work; they can maximize marital success by practicing the following. 
1. "Accentuate the positive." Couples in trouble focus their attention on the negative. Long term successful marriages are "mutual admiration societies." Learn to give praise or compliments to each other on a daily basis. Say thank you for little things as well as big things. “Thank you for taking out the trash.” “Thank you for supporting me when your mother questioned me.” Be specific about this. Let your partner know what you appreciate about him/her. 
2. Learn how to "fight" with each other. Find a way to settle differences without destructive anger and without anyone giving in. Learn to negotiate with each other. Most of us think in black/white terms. We see only two solutions - my way or your way. In reality, there are many solutions to every situation. Be creative, think outside the box, and develop solutions that meet the needs of both of you. Don't expect every "fight" to end with a solution. Some times differences just need to be aired. The solution may evolve at a later time when you are both calmer. End every "fight" with a confirmation of your love.
3. Spend time together. Ten or fifteen minutes every day spent talking with the TV turned off can do wonders for the sense of connection in a marriage. Touch each other often, both affectionately and sexually. Touch is a powerful connection. Touch erases the hurts and cares of the day. Guard your couple-ness from the intrusions of children. Go out alone together several times a month.  Keep children’s bed times regular and early so the marriage has room of its own.
4. Notice repetitive patterns. Over time couples may develop disturbing, repetitive patterns. Conflict about the same issues, in the same sequence, erupts over and over.  Repetitive patterns may have roots in childhood issues which both of you are trying to work out in the marriage. If you’re stuck in repetitive patterns and can't resolve the issues, it’s time to go for counseling. This is especially true if you are unable to forgive and forget.

5. Pray together. Worship together. Be united in your faith in God.  

Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it.  Love makes up for practically anything.” 1 Peter 4:8 The Message

Blessings, Dottie

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Six Stupid Things People Say About Religion

I ran into  this this morning on a link from another blog. It was written by Daniel Jepson who remains anonymous on his blog. 
This is worth reading. It speaks to many things unbelievers say and how to reply to them with reason and common sense yet exposing the flaws in their thinking and hopefully intriguing them into opening their minds to consider the claims of Christ. 
Blessings, Dottie

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

"Value" License Plates

Some time ago I wrote about a vanity license plate that I called a “value” plate. It had a thought provoking message: U NO WHY.  Everyone following this car must have wondered about its meaning. I speculated that the owner wanted others to think and wonder. Do you know why we’re here on this earth? Is there purpose to our existence? Do you know why God created us? Do you know why every fingerprint and every snow flake is different? Is this by design or by chance?

Two more “value” plates appeared recently. One said LOVE AHA. My online dictionary defines “aha” as an expression used when discovering something, especially expressing satisfaction or excitement. AHA in capitol letters is a chemistry term for alpha-hydroxy acid. AHAs are chemical compounds used in cosmetics. Wikipedia says “They are often found in products claiming to reduce wrinkles or the signs of aging, and improve the overall look and feel of the skin.”

I think love reduces wrinkles from our souls. Love touches us in ways we don’t understand. Touching does also. The two are synonymous. Infants require touch in order to thrive. I think we all do. So this driver is letting the world know that he’s in love and it’s a marvelous, amazing thing.

I discovered another “value” license plate a few months ago. It said UNCOOL. I pondered on this. What is this driver saying? Who would choose to be uncool in today’s world?  Most of us try to fit in, to be cool. Then I wondered what kind of license plate Jesus would choose and decided this would be just right for Him. He was uncool. He went against all expectations. He hung out with needy, rejected and uneducated people.

A friend of mine has another value plate. It says PRAY in Spanish.  We could use more “value” plates in our world. We could use more promotion of LOVE and PRAY and UNCOOL. We could use more questioning and seeking to know why, seeking to know God.

Delight yourself in the LORD.” Psalm 37:4

Blessings, Dottie

Thursday, September 1, 2011

a few minutes with Michelle: What cup are you drinking from?

a few minutes with Michelle: What cup are you drinking from?: If you read my devotion titled “But there’s a lesson in this”, you would know that I find a lesson or nugget of truth for every happenstan...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hope for Grieving

The Dawn of Hope: Encouragement for those who grieve is a small book with a brilliant hope-filled message for all who grieve. The author, Eldyn Simons, recounts the loss of his sixteen year old son who died in a plane crash while on a summer student exchange trip to Peru. There is no loss more difficult than the loss of a child. There is no loss more difficult than the sudden loss of a child.

The author has walked this road of grief and knows the tremendous pain and suffering it entails. He teaches the importance of facing the pain as well as how to hang onto God and the hope that He offers.

In short chapters beginning with a scripture and ending with a poem and a prayer, Simons tells about the loss of his son and recounts other losses—the loss of a spouse, the loss of the older generation, even the loss of a child by miscarriage.

God led Simons on a “journey of wonder and discovery” after the darkest night of his soul. He says God “will take you to many unexpected places, places of which you may never even have dreamed…. He will teach us how to bear the pain, how to laugh again, how to once more taste life’s sweetness. He will never leave us.”

He also says, “Our responsibility is to hold fast to God, to snuggle close so nothing can come between us. His part is to cover us with his love, to encourage and nourish us with His life that we may be fruitful in our service to him, no matter what conditions surround us.” This is a marvelous little book for those who are grieving. Buy a few and give them to friends who are hurting.

“When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs, where pools of blessing collect after the rains!” Psalm 84:6 TLB

Blessings, Dottie

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Writing Changing Churches

Writing a book is a daredevil sport – I liken it to being out on a limb or jumping off a cliff.  Changing Churches: A View from the Pew is the name of my book. The outline dropped into my mind in my quiet time in August 2008. I prayed about it and began to write early in 2009.

I have new respect for writers and I’ve learned many ways to improve my writing. I’ve learned to avoid “to be verbs” and use active verbs. I’ve learned to eliminate most adverbs. I’ve learned to be creative, avoid clich├ęs, use word pictures and illustrations. I’ve learned to show rather than tell.

Writing a book has repeatedly taken me out of my comfort zone. This is both scary and exciting. It has brought me to tears and to my knees. It has compelled me to share my work and seek feedback from many friends, pastors, elders, and writers. Every step of the way, each morsel of feedback I received showed me another viewpoint and led to more revision and also spurred me on. Many times I was ready to quit. I sought God’s will repeatedly, daily, as he’s the one who got me into this! I gave the book to him over and over again. I never heard him say “You can stop now.” So I kept going.

The manuscript is now with the publisher and will go through more editing. Now I must focus on marketing – a whole new area to both scare and excite me. I’ve had a blog for over a year and I joined Facebook months ago. At the time these also were scary and new, but they connected me mostly with friends and acquaintances. Recently I joined Twitter and Linkedin – open to everyone and anyone! Will I do it right? How do I learn to do all this? Many questions fill my mind and keep me awake at night.

My respect for writers increased with the realization that virtually all writers must market their books. So now I must tell everyone about my book. I’m an introvert by nature and I do things slowly and methodically. All of this is challenging my comfort zones. God loves to stretch us.

Readers, please pray for me. Pray that the marketing and the book will be to God's glory. Pray the book will reach those who need to receive its message. Pray the book will help Christians navigate church changes while remaining true to Christ. Pray the book will help build up the church.

What’s the book about? Changing Churches describes through the eyes of one couple the difficult journey “church switchers” travel; a journey often precipitated by disruptive church changes. Changing Churches encourages Christ-like transformative change in churches rather than man-devised makeovers.

Changing Churches will be published in 2012.

Blessings, Dottie

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Abundant Life

Abundant Life

A visit to the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove, featured Cliff Barrows leading the singing and Dr. Mel Blackaby, well known pastor and author, speaking on Abundant Life. Blackaby, over the course of four marvelous messages, connected abundant living with going the second mile in the power of the spirit and rejoicing in any and all circumstances! This is a marvelous way to live and can only be done through Christ.

Abundant life comes through Jesus who said, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35) He gives us bread! And he says "Whoever drinks of the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up 
into eternal life." (John 4:14) He gives us water! Overflowing water!

If we’re not satisfied, have we really met Him? He promised abundant life while on earth! We may have religion but not relationship.  Is there joy? Peace? Love with intimacy in your life?  If all else was taken away would you be satisfied? What does is mean to follow Jesus? These are not easy questions to answer but the promises are thrilling.

Billy Graham and his ministry exemplify abundant living. They have denied themselves and surrendered all to Christ—and God has used them in a mighty way. Billy Graham’s oldest daughter, Gigi, his youngest son, Ned and a grandson Will each spoke briefly during the conference. All are following the family path of faith.

A surprise visit from Billy Graham and George Beverly Shea, joining the others on the platform electrified the attendees. This reunion of the three major players in the Billy Graham Crusades, who worked together for forty years, awed and humbled us all. (See picture above of Cliff, Ned, Gigi, Billy Graham and George Beverly Shea.)

George Beverly Shea, 102 years old sang Blessed Assurance - even asking the piano player to change the key. They reminisced about the Crusades. Billy liked the Australia Crusade best. Cliff recalled a meal in India of French fried hornets!!  The three of them sang This Little Light of Mine!  Billy’s part was to say “NO!” at the right times.

Cliff said “We’re all turtles on the fence post. Someone helped to put us there.” What humble, inspiring men of God these three are. To God be the glory!

It was a blessed event.

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dancing with Max

A Mother and Son who Broke Free 
by Emily Colson

Dancing with Max is the true story of Emily Colson and her son Max. Emily details her life as a single parent raising Max, an autistic child. Max, a beautiful baby, cried constantly and didn’t speak or develop normally. He shook with fear in new situations. When interrupted or thwarted in his activities, he flew into tantrums with no regard to where or when – in the mall, in church – anywhere.

Emily details her desperate and determined struggle to help Max understand life, not be fearful and learn to read and write. She describes a jumble of bureaucracy, and cold or negative medical and educational experts who were of little help. The school personnel failed to listen to Emily’s own insights about her son, held little hope for her son’s progress, and showed little warmth for Emily or Max.

Emily’s father is Chuck Colson, well known author, aide to President Nixon, and founder of Prison Fellowship. Chuck Colson writes a prologue and epilogue to the book giving his point of view on Emily and Max and telling how their relationship deepened through their trials and joys.

The relationship between grandfather, daughter and son is depicted with humor and warmth. This is a very personal, gripping true story revealing the gift that Max has given his family. Through years of trials Emily loves Max sacrificially and joyfully living one day at a time. She learns that Max is a gift from God.

Every parent should read this book. Certainly every parent of a special needs child should read it. It will give you a new appreciation for your own children and their amazing individuality, quirks and needs. It will teach you to love them sacrificially and hold them close to your heart. It will teach you that every child is a gift from God.

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13



Sunday, July 3, 2011

“America, America….God shed his grace on thee.”

Thoughts from this Sunday’s message
This Fourth of July we are thankful for our freedom. We must guard it well or it could be lost.

How could it be lost? We may be on the brink of losing it due to our moral slide as a nation. Individual morality is a separate issue. The moral slide of our country occurs in relationships, in the way we do business with each other. When we are dishonest in the way we govern or in the way we run a business the entire country is affected.

 Our founding fathers understood the relationship between liberty, morality and faith. Many of our early leaders stated, in one way or another, the fact that liberty couldn’t thrive without morality and morality couldn’t flourish without faith. When we manipulate or con others in the market place or when we attempt to cut corners in business, or make under the table deals to gain power – our country suffers.

Our founding fathers understood from Scripture that “all men are created equal” that all should be free to pursue happiness but that these relied on a moral culture based in a strong faith in God. They understood that the standard of righteousness was not tied to time or culture but was universal. It applied to all nations at all times, based on the character and nature of God. No nation will flourish with this.

What is God’s character? He is righteous. His kingdom is righteous. Deuteronomy 10:17-21 says “For the Lord your God is . . . . mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. Our righteous God shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.”

We are human – we need help to be moral in all spheres of life. We need faith in God in Christ Jesus. Pray for our country to recognize its need before it’s too late.

Proverbs 14:34 “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.”

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Two Book Reviews

I recently read two amazing books from my church library. Both were written by Don Richardson, a missionary and writer. Though the books are old, he has updated them and they are still available on his website and on Amazon —or from your church library, perhaps.

Peace Child is the story of Don and Carol Richardson’s experience living among the headhunting tribes of the western half of New Guinea. In sharing the gospel with them Richardson discovered they admired Judas and his betrayal rather then Jesus and his sacrificial love. They viewed deceitfulness and betrayal as qualities to be emulated. They befriended their victims before taking their heads!

Peace Child is a spellbinding account of how Don and Carol Richardson and their young children lived through a number of intense and dangerous events and succeeded in their mission. Their story is a testimony to their strong faith and to God’s provision of a way to reach the tribe with the good news. I won’t give it away. This is a must read book for Christians.

Eternity in Their Hearts, the second book by Don Richardson, is a fascinating account of the widespread belief in one God among primitive peoples. Anthropologists, attempting to prove primitive people were not monotheistic, were shocked to find they were wrong. Richardson tells one story after another of tribes in which belief in a supreme God existed for centuries.

One example (abbreviated here) describes the Gedeo people in Ethiopia who believed in a benevolent god called Magano but didn’t pray to him, focusing instead on appeasing an evil god. One man, Warrasa Wange, prayed to Magano asking him to reveal himself. Wange had visions of two white-skinned strangers erecting shelters under a sycamore tree near his town. He continued to pray and eight years later two white missionaries arrived in an old truck and did just as he had envisioned. Three decades later there were 200 churches among the Gedeo people with more than 200 members each.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11.

Blessings, Dottie

Thursday, May 19, 2011

How Can I Achieve My Dreams?

Most of us dream of achieving all sorts of goals. We want to find a better job, lose weight, keep our home clean and our possessions organized, read the Bible, spend more time in prayer, join the Y and keep fit, take piano lessons or art lessons or golf lessons. We have many plans in our head that never happen. Our dreams won’t happen unless we set clear, specific goals and then—just do it. The Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland said: "If you don't know where you're going, then any road will get you there.” Below are the steps that apply to most goals.

1. You must set a goal. Decide what road you will follow.  Write down each specific goal. Writing it down commits you to a clear decision. For example, say your goal is to get your house or apartment cleaned up and rid of clutter. 

2. Decide when you will do this. For example, you might decide to clean for four hours every Saturday. Or you might decide to spend an hour every day at 4 pm putting things away and getting organized.

 3. Tackle one thing at a time. This may be one room at a time or even one drawer at a time. Throw out junk. Put away items, arranging things so you can find them. For example all socks in one drawer or things filed alphabetically.

4. Take difficult steps by recognizing the benefits. For example, say you have trouble letting go of things. Think of the savings of not having to store, clean or take care of the items you get rid of.  In addition, someone else can use your castoffs. Most of us have stuff we rarely or never use.

5. Take charge of your childish side. If you have a history of procrastinating or not finishing projects you may be at war with yourself. One part of you wants to accomplish things but the other side is lazy or tired or rebellious. You will be more content if you take charge and complete projects. Decide to over rule the childish side of yourself. Set realistic goals about this, being kind to the kid side of you. Work for an hour – then take a break and rest, for example.

I hope these ideas help you set and accomplish your goals.

No one can serve two masters.” Matthew 6:24

Blessings, Dottie


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Changing Habits

We are captive to our habits. We want to change our ways and accomplish more—whether it’s pursuing a hobby, getting in better shape physically or finishing a to-do list.  You may be disorganized and a good procrastinator.  If you really want to change you can, but you must set clear goals and change your habits.

       Habits rule us whether they are bad or good.  We develop a variety of habits or routines throughout our life time.  Habits help us in many ways.  Good habits, firmly established take little thought.  We do them almost automatically.  We drive to work taking the same route each day.  We pay our bills at the same time each month.  We go to church every Sunday.  These are all habits or routines we’ve established.

       Habits begin with one thought.  That’s right ONE THOUGHT!  We think about doing something and we decide to do it. If we’re changing a negative habit, for example in our diet, we now have an attitude of caution and awareness about what we eat.  We also have an “I can” attitude and feel optimistic about accomplishing our goal. The attitude change leads to an action which leads to a repeated action and eventually we have a habit. The key is to keep doing the new behavior for six or eight weeks. It will take this long to establish a new habit.

       A negative habit is overcome one day at a time, the same way it began.  A new habit is established one day at a time.  Here are a few tips to help you:

       1.  Focus on your successes and congratulate yourself for these. 

       2.  Expect to relapse and learn from them.  Not many can change a habit instantly.  When you learned to ride a bike you fell down a few times before you could balance.  The same is true for creating a new habit.  The relapses can teach you things.  What thoughts or feelings triggered your return to old habits?

       3.  You do have will power. Our will is a powerful part of us, capable of choosing to control our actions.  Say to yourself, “I will.”  And don’t say, “I won’t” or “I can’t” or “I’ll try.”  Be positive and be determined to succeed.

       4.  Align your will with God’s will; ask his help in overcoming your weaknesses. This is helpful in all circumstances but essential to breaking an addiction.

       5.  Take every thought captive. A habit starts with one thought and is maintained or broken by our thoughts.  For example, to break the worry habit stop every worry thought as soon as you notice it and replace it with a positive thought or image.

       I hope these ideas help you change your habits and accomplish your goals. I’ll write more on goal setting in a couple of weeks.

       “As a man thinks in his heart so is he.” Proverbs 23:7

       Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Retirement: What do I want to be when I grow up?

Retirement may look like the Promised Land until you get there. After a few weeks of catching up on sleep and chores, the freedom may morph into too much time alone with nothing to do. You miss the daily connections you had at work. You miss your familiar routines. You may even miss the work. You picture the days and weeks ahead with little or nothing planned and wonder “What do I want to be in retirement?”

Retirement has no structure. We’re free to choose how we use our time. At first there’s delight in having the time for projects long postponed or neglected and time to begin new ventures or hobbies. However, with no pressure or structure from outside the impetus to be disciplined or to go in new directions may evaporate. To have the kind of retirement you want will take courage and discipline.

Here are my suggestions for how to plan and enjoy retirement:

1. Think of retirement as a wonderful new beginning. It’s a time to be more relaxed and a time to pursue other interests.

2. Think of the first year as a time of transition. Be upbeat when possible but give yourself grace when you are at loose ends. Remind your self you’re adjusting to a whole new way of life.

3. Discipline your life. Make a flexible schedule of chores so you will accomplish the things you’ve always wanted to do. Let’s face it. Most of us are lazy and don’t get around to doing the things we should do. List the chores to be done. For example, you will do laundry on Monday, pay bills on Tuesday, shop on Thursday, and clean your home on Friday. Then stick with the schedule.

4. Schedule daily exercise. Take walks or join the Y for exercise classes. This is one of the best preventive medicines for aging there is. And you now have the time to really get in shape.

5. Revitalize your life! Pursue a new interest or learn more about an old one. Plan it, schedule it and follow your plan.

6. Give to others. We forget our own problems when we help those in greater need. Look for neighbors in need or offer to help your favorite charity.

7. Pay attention to your spiritual health and growth. Find a church that inspires and challenges you and be active there.

Grey hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life. Proverbs 16: 31

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Insomnia is a common problem and a distressing one. A lack of sleep can have a negative effect on how we feel, and how we function the next day. If this becomes a chronic problem it is exhausting. Sleep is necessary to rest the body and the mind. Most adults need between seven and eight hours per night. However, many get along on six hours or less and many also seem to require nine or ten hours sleep. Sleep needs change with age. An infant may sleep up to 18 hours a day. Children often require 12 hours each night. Older people find they need less sleep than they once did. The amount of sleep doesn't matter if you feel rested and well.

There are several things you can do to regulate your sleep patterns.

1. Plan your bedtime as carefully as you would a gourmet meal. Go to bed at the same time every evening to establish a pattern. Visualize, ahead of time, the comfort of being in bed sleeping. Spend the last hour before bedtime relaxing and unwinding. If you watch TV make sure you watch a calming or funny program rather than an exciting or scary show.

2. When you get in bed enjoy the comfort of lying down. Stretch your arms and legs and then let go to relax your body more. Do this several times. Take deep breaths and enjoy further relaxation of your body.

3. Think of a Bible verse or a prayer that is comforting to you and repeat it over and over in your mind. For example, say “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.” Repeat this over and over and picture a pastoral scene, resting in God. You can vary the scripture or think of the attributes of God alphabetically or the names of God. Keep going until you fall asleep.

“Stand at the crossroads and look: ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16

Blessings, Dottie