Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Controlled By Drinking

Q. My wife is upset by my drinking even though I control it very carefully. I usually have two or three beers every night. On weekends I drink more when out with friends. Alcohol relieves the tensions of the day and makes me feel relaxed and happy. I don’t see any harm in the drinking I do. What do you think? 

A. Many people who think they are controlling their drinking are actually controlled by drinking. A life arranged around a daily ritual of drinking is not normal and can be harmful. Alcohol is a tricky drug and it is a drug. A little of it relaxes; more is stimulating, even more anesthetizes and a heavy dose can be fatal.

Beer drinkers often convince themselves that beer is harmless. However, a can of beer equals one shot of bourbon. A twelve pack of beer equals 12 ounces of hard liquor. A twelve pack is equal to almost half of a fifth of whiskey.
Alcohol is a depressant. A daily drinker often struggles against an alcohol induced depression. If the drinker has been following this pattern since he began drinking in high school he may have learned no other way to experience pleasure. His moods have always been controlled by drinking. 
Daily drinking of even two ounces of whiskey or two beers can depress you, can affect your relationships and can dull your ability to feel pleasure. Can you feel good without drinking? What will you lose if you stop drinking?
Daily drinking also has an insidious affect on health. There are strong links between drinking and hypertension, liver disease and brain damage. A true social drinker doesn’t drink on an empty stomach, doesn’t drink alone, doesn’t drink to deal with inner pain or a bad day, or to put himself to sleep. A true social drinker drinks no more than three drinks at one time and no more than three times a week.

To no longer be controlled by drinking you must first recognize that you are “addicted” to your routine of having a daily “dose” of alcohol. Stop drinking for six months to a year before attempting to drink occasionally. If you’re not addicted then doing without alcohol should be a cinch. If you have trouble doing without it then you are a habit alcoholic. You are controlled by drinking. Alcoholics Anonymous can help you to stop drinking.

How to control your moods        
In addition to AA do the following to learn to control your moods without drinking:     
1.  Begin an aerobic exercise program. This will give you a natural high from the chemicals released in your brain by exercise. If possible, exercise at the time you would normally drink.       
2.  Listen to music that relaxes you and lifts your mood.       
3.  Watch TV programs that are fun, enjoyable and relaxing. Cut out the programs that make you anxious, depressed or angry.   
4.  Think positively about yourself. Give yourself pats on the back even for small accomplishments. Be honest about your shortcomings but stop putting your self down.  
5.  Find pleasure in your relationships. Seek counseling if there are problems there.      
6.  Deal with inner pain from your past. Counseling may be needed to do this. AA Twelve Steps can also help.
7.  Find a group that is supportive and caring. This may be an AA group, a church small group or an interest group.
8. Ask God for help you with this and with other issues in your life. He can help you a whole lot more than a few beers.

Don’t be drunk with wine because that will ruin you life. Instead let the Holy Spirit fill and control you.” Ephesians 5:18 NLT

A person without self-control is as defenseless as a city with broken walls.” Proverbs 25:28 NLT

Blessings, Dottie

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Q.  My husband and I are over our heads in debt and don't know what to do. We both work but our income doesn't go very far. We don't want to file bankruptcy. How did we get into this mess and how can we get out of it?

A. We are the wealthiest, most affluent nation in the world yet we also lead the way in spending beyond our means. Our culture encourages spending as no other has ever done. We are offered credit card, after credit card and are encouraged to go into debt. Advertisements bombard us with sleek new cars, high powered computers, convenient and expensive cell phones with new gadgets to keep us connected and having fun.

We are buying a variety of things and more of them than our grandparents did. They shared one small closet for all their clothing. We can't find room for our clothes even with large walk in closets. Our grandparents lived before many of our "necessities" had been invented, including television, DVDs, computers, microwave ovens and cell phones - to name a few.  When prior generations did buy something they paid cash. Or they did without. Our bankruptcy rate is more than four times higher than in the depression of the 1930s. Though the gadgets we have make our life more comfortable, we haven't learned to postpone purchasing these until we have the money.

The solutions aren't easy. You and your husband will need to work out a plan and agree to stick to it. Here are some practical things you can do to get your spending in line:
1. Be satisfied with what you have. Make a budget and live on the money you have. More things don't bring happiness.
2. Understand the difference between needs and wants. We need food, shelter and clothing. We don't need designer jeans.
3. Don't watch advertisements on TV or look at them in the newspaper.
4. Shop with a list and buy only what's on the list.
5. Pay off credit cards as fast as you can to reduce the interest you’re paying. Use only the card with the lowest interest rate. Pay off the monthly balance of each card to avoid interest. Plan to eventually pay off all cards monthly so you pay no interest.
6. Cut out any costs even small costs. For example go to the bank and deposit money or cash a check instead of using the handy ATM.
7.  Don't buy when you can borrow or share. Library books are free. Share tools with a neighbor or relative. Swap baby sitting with another couple.

Learn what money means to you. Think about and talk together about how you use money. Do you buy things when you are bored or hurt or sad? Does one person spend money to get back at the other? Be honest about the way each of you use money. You may use spending in much the same way the alcoholic uses alcohol - to avoid inner pain or inner emptiness.

Do some soul searching about what money means to you. Money has too much power over many of us. The Bible warns about this repeatedly. When our focus in life is on spending and getting we miss the true meaning of life.  We're focused on ourselves. We want what we want and we're going to get it. Two year olds think this way! 

We must reach a new way of thinking in which we see how blessed we are with the things that matter: health, family, friends, and opportunities to help others. When we learn to give of ourselves we aren't so hungry to buy things.

A financial counselor can help you with this. I recommend Consumer Credit Counseling, a non profit agency that will help consolidate your debts and work out a manageable budget - or recommend bankruptcy if that’s the only way out. 

“Do not wear yourselves out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.” Proverbs 23:4

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Promises in Scripture

Matthew 13:11 The knowledge of the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven has been given to you, but not to them.

Matthew 16:19 I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

Matthew 18:18 Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

Luke 17:20 The Kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say “Here it is” or “There it is” because the Kingdom of God is within you

Luke 21:31 Whenever you see these things happening (signs previously described) you know that the Kingdom of God is near.

Books have been written on these Scriptures about the Kingdom of God. I’ll give a few thoughts on these verses.
  • The first verse says that the knowledge of the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven are given to you! This means Christians can comprehend spiritual truth that unbelievers cannot grasp. Isn’t that exciting?
  • The keys to the Kingdom as I understand it refer to the power of prayer when we pray in the will of God; when our prayers conform to biblical truth. Whatever we ask will happen.
  • The verse from Luke 17 suggests that the Kingdom is hidden within us but will come in reality some day.
  • The final verse from Luke 21 describes the signs that will precede Jesus return and the coming of his Kingdom.

We read in your Word the promises about the Kingdom of God coming and we are awed. We thank you for these promises. Open our hearts and minds to more fully grasp your truths; the amazing truths of your Word about your Kingdom. Thank you for revealing to us that you are the Way, the Truth and the Life. We pray for your Kingdom to come.

We pray In the mighty name of Jesus, Amen. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Building Up Your Marriage

 Q.  My wife and I are at odds with each other. We often bicker over minor issues.  We’re short with each other and then become distant. We may have a few days of some closeness and then it’s back to arguing again. We love each other and don’t understand the problem. What can we do to change things? Do we need counseling? 

A.  Most of us need to learn what makes a marriage work. We expect marriage to be easy and take no effort. This is a false expectation. We need to learn that everything you do in your marriage is either building up the relationship or tearing it down. If you want to have a good marriage you need to pay attention to this fact and make a point of doing the things that will build up your relationship and not doing the things that tear it down. If one person does these things it will change the relationship for the better.

You can no doubt think of many ways to either build up or tear down your marriage. I will list a few to get you thinking in the right direction.

Building up: Treat your wife with respect. This includes being courteous, friendly, kind, patient.
Tearing down: Disrespectful words or actions hurt your relationship. You’re disrespectful when you’re sarcastic, gruff, mean, belittling and any time you raise your voice.

Building up: Accept your own part in the issues. Take responsibility for your own feelings and actions. Your wife is not responsible for your feelings or your happiness. You are. 
Tearing down:  Blaming is destructive and will elicit defensiveness. Blame hurts the relationship. A blaming sentence often starts with “You…..”  Instead use “I” statements and tell your wife what you want. “I would like it if you would….”
Building up: Be honest and open. Tell your partner the truth about yourself and your feelings. Let her know when something bothers you. But do this using “I“ statements.
Tearing down:  Telling a lie or hiding the truth is destructive. When you avoid the truth even when your motive is to keep the peace or not hurt the other person’s feelings - you are hurting your marriage. Your wife can’t please you if you don’t share your wishes and needs openly.

Building up:  Give time and attention to your wife. Listen carefully to understand her. This is love in action.
Tearing down:  Not being available is hurtful and so is not listening. When the TV is on your attention is divided even if you’re talking with each other.

Building up:  Be cooperative with your wife; work together, realize you’re both “on the same team” and have each other’s interests at heart.
Tearing down:  Trying to “win” an argument damages the marriage. Why do you have to prove you’re right and she’s wrong? 
Building up:  Say “I love you.” Be affectionate. Remember birthdays and anniversaries. Give positive feedback: “You look nice today.” “I love your smile.” 
Tearing down:  Ignoring your wife, and being rude or condescending to her tears down the marriage.
Building up:  Learn to forgive when you’ve been hurt. Learn to say “I’m sorry” when you know you’ve hurt the other person. Do what you can to make amends and repair the damage.
Tearing down:  Refusing to admit your mistakes damages the marriage. Holding grudges does also.
Counseling can help you both stop the bickering and learn to build up your marriage. The Third Option group for hurting couples or the Weekend to Remember can also help you build up your marriage. To find Christian counselors or marriage programs contact a local church and ask for resources or see www.smartmarriages.com.

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

Blessings, Dottie

Friday, January 2, 2015

Three Book Reviews: Living Life to the Fullest

Living Life to the Fullest
As we begin a New Year you may want to read one or more of the following three books. Each book will give you new perspectives about what living and dying is all about. Put this wisdom into practice and you will grow in love and grace in the coming year.

Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper
John Piper’s book inspired and informed my mind and heart about the danger of Christians wasting our life rather than being intentional about how we spend it. Unless we lose our life – we waste our life. Risks are worth it and necessary. This is Piper’s thesis throughout the book. His detailed application of what it means to be “crucified” with Christ yet live for him gave me new understanding – both intellectually and emotionally of the profound and difficult meaning of this Scripture.

Piper cites Luke 21:16-18 in which Jesus says, “Some of you will be put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake, but not a hair on your head will perish.” The ambiguity of this statement is explored at length and Piper concludes – you may suffer, you may die, but “you will have everything you need to do his will and be eternally and supremely happy in him.”

Piper questions the daily life of Christians who live comfortably and securely. He paraphrases scripture: “Even sinners work hard, avoid gross sin, watch TV at night, and do fun stuff on the weekend. What more are you doing than others?”

He also says:
  • “Missions is not only crucial for the life of the world. It is crucial for the life of the church. We will perish with our wealth if we do not pour ourselves out in ministries of mercy at home and mission among the unreached peoples.”
  • “We exist to spread a passion for God’s supremacy in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ.”
This book is dangerous. It will challenge you to change, to take risks to live completely for Christ.

A Season of Mystery: Ten Spiritual Practices for Embracing A Happier Second Half of Life by Paula Husted

I purchased this book after reading a prior very profound book by the same author titled Forgiveness. This one is also excellent though quite different. In this book Huston reveals more of her own background prior to returning to her Catholic faith and then becoming an oblate. She struggles now with the issues of aging and tells how we can avoid becoming a crotchety old person. The disciplines she describes include practices helpful to all: listening, delighting, lightening, settling, confronting, accepting, befriending, generating and blessing. A final chapter on Departing is touching and insightful. Husted illustrates each chapter with vignettes of her experiences with friends and family. She encourages us to view aging in a positive way, to appreciate the benefits of aging and the benefits of knowing and enjoying elderly friends.

Death by Living: Life is Meant to be Spent By N. D. Wilson

Death by Living is a poetic, nonlinear description of life as we live it. Life is story. We are in the middle of our story. This is the theme of Wilson’s book. He writes about the life of his grandparents – now dead. These stories are scattered throughout the book along with tales of raising five children and philosophizing about God and the meaning of life. I read this book twice so I could understand it and remember it. I still don’t quite understand it!  I enjoyed the stories about his grandparents and God’s providence is evident in these. 

Wilson’s thoughts on God, time and life are profound. Here are several examples:
·       “Time strips us. Time keeps us from hunkering down on our piles of stuff. Time motivates us. Sure, time counts up, but it is also a game clock, counting down….Time is kindness. We need it. We need loss to appreciate gift.” 110-111
·       “Taste everyone of time’s moments. Swallow. Taste the next. Drink the water. Drink the wine. It is no use left in the glass. Sweat and struggle. Run. Fight. Receive. Give. Be grateful even for death, for the ticking clock counting down on you.” 114
·       “Be as empty as you can be when the clock runs down. Spend your life. And if time is a river you leave a wake.” 117
·       “The God who looked on you with joy when you were small and racing across His gift of green grass on His gift of feet beneath His gift of sky watched by His gift of a mother with His gift of love in His gift of her eyes, is the same God who will look on you as that race finally ends. He is the same but we have changed, between our opening lines and our final page.” 163

Life is meant to be spent. I do understand this. And God is bigger than we imagine.

New Year Blessings,