Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Q. I’m twenty-two years old and I feel like a failure. Others know how to say just the right thing. I stutter, put my foot in my mouth and say the wrong thing. Others work hard and get promoted. I work hard and lose my job. Others get married and live happily ever after. I can’t even keep a girl friend. Is there any hope for me? 

A. You have failed at some things. This doesn’t mean your life is a total failure. Failure is painful and difficult but we all fail. Most of us fail every day. We’re lazy, selfish, tired, uncaring. We do or say something impulsively that hurts those we love. We do dumb things. We make mistakes. We don’t keep our promises. Our judgment is poor. We see only the trees and miss the forest. We’re all pros at failing. You’re not the only one!

The good news is that failure is one of life’s best teachers. We learn lessons from failure we would never learn if we succeeded at everything we did. Toddlers learn to walk only by falling down repeatedly. Older children learn to ride a two wheeled bike only after a few mishaps. Inventors learn to create new products only after their ideas fail over and over again.
Some blame God when they fail. Why did God let me mess up? Why did God allow me to lose my job? God allows us to fail so we will learn just as parents allow children to make their own mistakes in life. 

Some, like you, blame yourself. “I always mess up.” “I’m a failure.” “I can’t handle life.” Such total blame of self may lead to a depressive spiral downward. It’s more productive is to ask, “What part did I play in this failure?” “Where did I go wrong?” “What can I do differently?” Facing our faults isn’t easy but it can teach you how to succeed the next time.

Some blame others when they fail. “My boss has had it in for me on everything I’ve done from the very beginning.” “No one in the entire company would help me with that project, no wonder it failed.” When we use global blaming statements we escalate our anger and despair. Also global statements are not true. We need to recognize that we share the responsibility for what happens. Others did let us down but we played a part in it. 
Some dwell on their failures hiding from life, avoiding contact with others, nursing pain. There is a fine line between wallowing in self-pity or self hatred and facing our feelings honestly. Many will need to recognize and let go of anger, fear, and hurt feelings before accepting their own part in what has happened. But we must finally learn from past failures and then let go of them. Forgive yourself for your mistakes.
We also need to ask others for forgiveness. When we fail we often hurt others in the process. Asking forgiveness of those we have hurt involves admission of fault and determination to not repeat that hurt. We also need to repair the damage in any way we can.
What lessons can we learn from failure? We learn we are human, not perfect. We learn to accept the things we can’t control. We learn to put more thought and effort into what we do. We learn that when we fall down we need to get up and try again. We learn to ask for forgiveness. We learn to be kind to others who also fail. 

I hope you will see a pastor or a Christian counselor to help you understand and accept your failures and grow beyond them; to help you learn failure’s lessons. There is hope for you.

“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” Psalm 31:24

Blessings, Dottie

Monday, April 20, 2015


 Q.  My husband hurt me deeply over something he considers minor. After we talked about it I felt better and I told him I was willing to forgive him. He was offended by this saying I was making him out as the bad guy and myself as a “goody two shoes” with my talk of forgiveness. 

I told him he was the bad guy in this case as he hurt me. We ended up in a fight, all because I offered forgiveness! What’s our problem and what can we do to solve it?

A.  Marriage is not easy! In the context of our closest relationships an argument can erupt over most anything. We can create a conflict even when we’re trying to resolve a problem or when we’re trying to reach out in forgiveness! We can make things better by learning from our conflicts. The frustrations of marriage are our growing points, the areas we need to examine, talk about and change.  In other words it will help to study the communication patterns between you. Ask yourself the following:

1.  Are you and your husband in a cycle of hurt and blame? Is there a pattern of arguing or distance, of sarcasm or teasing, of subtle or not so subtle put-downs?  If any of these patterns fit you, you will both need to own up to your own part in this pattern and begin to change it. Respect is essential to a comfortable and happy relationship. Begin treating your partner the way you treat your friends.

2. Do you feel or act superior to your husband? Most anything we do, even offering forgiveness, can be used as a form of control or as a way to judge or look down on the other person. Apparently this is how your husband took your comments even though you were sincere in offering forgiveness. When we are condescending in any way we may continue the battle. We have the upper hand. We can sling guilt, lording over our partner the terrible wrong he or she has committed. 
3. Are you aware that you can be very hurt by your husband’s behavior even though he did not intend to hurt you? His motive for doing what he did may be totally unrelated to its effect on you. 

4. Are you both aware that you cannot expect another person to be responsible for your feelings? Our feelings are a guide for us as to our own inner self. Our feelings are our individualized reactions and depend on many things including our past experiences, our beliefs, and our thoughts. Often deep emotions are triggered by an unconscious hurt from the past. Our current upsetting situation reminds us in some way of this past event.
5. If your husband has wronged you, betraying an agreement you had between you or not keeping a promise, then in this specific instance he is the wrong doer and you are the person who has been hurt. In this case he would need to accept responsibility for what he has done and do all he can to repair the damage. In the actual complex interaction between a couple often both have contributed to the pain in the relationship.
Counseling can help you learn and grow in your relationship. Counseling can help you create a happier marriage. See a Christian counselor together so your communication pattern (the interaction between you) will be the focus of most of the help given.

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

Blessings, Dottie

Monday, April 13, 2015

Book Reviews on Time, Aging, Death, Grieving and Heaven #2

Here are two books that will give you new perspectives about what living and dying is all about. These books will grow your faith, help you live with purpose and guide you through grief.

When the Game is over
By John Ortberg

It All Goes Back in the Box by John Ortberg, pastor and best selling author, is a clever and wise book about the fact that life is short and often our priorities are flawed and driven by plans for worldly success. Playing Monopoly with his grandmother taught Ortberg that when the game is over it all goes back in the box. This game metaphor for life continues throughout the book pointing out that the object in life is not to win houses, hotels, fame or fortune. The object for a Christian is to “be rich toward God.”

Ortberg gives a detailed game plan for living life intentionally and with significance. Chapter titles include Three Ways to Keep Score, Master the Inner Game, Resign as Master of The Board, and more. In the chapter titled No One Else Can Take Your Turn, Ortberg describes his experience playing doubles tennis with his father in a match they wanted to win. With a tied score, his first shot went outside the lines. It was all up to his second shot. There was no bench player who could take his place. There are no passes in life. Comparing life to a calendar he suggests we fill each day (square) with what matters most. Beware of Your Shadow Mission is also a significant chapter. We can think we’re in the will of God and be deceived. This is an excellent book that should inspire many Christians to live more intentionally. 

The full title points out that after a game is over (such as Monopoly) it all goes back in the box.

THE DAWN OF HOPE: Encouragement for those who grieve
By Eldyn Simons

The Dawn of Hope 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. This was published in 2000 so you may need to buy a used book.

“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 your staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

Blessings, Dottie

Book Reviews on Time, Aging, Death, Grieving & Heaven #1 is here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Parent Advice: Teenager Changing Name

Q. My teen-age daughter has recently changed the way she spells her name - from Mary to Merry. I'm very upset about this as she was named for her grandmother. About two years ago she wanted to be called "M. J." (short for Mary Jane) and I talked her out of that. We have had several arguments about the recent change and she won't listen to reason. My husband thinks we should let her do as she wants. I wonder why changing names is so important to her. What do you think?

A. Our identities are linked to our names. In fact, we each have a distinct and separate name in order to identify us as individuals. In addition we often are given or we adopt nicknames which are less formal than a full name. Nicknames are used by family and friends and carry an even more intimate and personal meaning for us.

Children are often teased about their names. This cannot be totally avoided but careful thought as we pick a baby's name can minimize this. Children who carry an unusual name or one that can easily be ridiculed are apt to suffer teasing. When we choose our child's name we have a responsibility to choose carefully. We need to choose names that show we are contented with our child's sex and names that fit well with our last name.

Children often change their nicknames as they move toward adolescence. Boys with names that have a "Y" ending often change this. For example, Johnny becomes John and Teddy becomes Ted. In a similar way, girls experiment with new nicknames. Elizabeth may become Beth or Liz. Margaret may become Peggy or Marge.

Some children will change their names as a way of forgetting an unhappy past. Carrying the name of a father not seen for many years, can be a burden. Changing one's name is one way of coping with this.

Children often yearn to change their last names to match their mother's remarried name. This has to do with wanting to belong, wanting to be accepted. Sometimes this wish can be fulfilled by the step-father adopting the child. This should not happen when there are active ties to the natural father.

Girls often change their names in adolescence. A change in spelling such as you describe from Mary to Merry, is usually a desire to make one's name seem more interesting and, at the same time, to change one's self image a little. These girls may be struggling with dissatisfaction about themselves.

Adolescence is a time of great change. A name change is a safe way for an adolescent to experiment with being different, with changing his or her personality and with breaking the parental tie. A name change may only last for a brief period. Left alone, the adolescent may emerge into adulthood and make the decision to return to their former name or former spelling of their name.

Parents do have the right to name their baby. But as the child grows up and becomes able to choose for himself, I believe its best to allow him or her to make a name change. I hear your pain about this but often its best with teenagers to loosen control and “give in” on minor, harmless issues. I hope these ideas will help all parents realize how important names are to children. We need to respect our children's wishes about their chosen name or nickname. 

Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.” Psalm 103:13 NASB

Blessings, Dottie

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Resurrection Doubt? No, He's Alive!

Christ the Lord has risen! He's alive! Do we believe this? 
The disciples spent three years with Jesus, living and learning from Him. They saw the healings and miracles and knew He was the Messiah. But they didn't expect Him to die. They witnessed His arrest, trial, and crucifixion, though some ran away and hid. Some helped bury Him. Then they hid together and grieved.

Three days later they saw Him! Can you grasp the surprise, amazement, and yet belief in their voices?
Mary said, "I have seen the Lord! (John 20:18) She knew it was Him!     
The two men on the road to Emmaus did not recognize Him until He broke the bread and revealed Himself to them. They said, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?" (Luke 24:32) Their hearts burned within them even before they recognized Him. Does your heart burn within you in His presence?  
Thomas wouldn't believe the reports of the other disciples until he saw Jesus a week later. Then he said, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28) I imagine he said this with a hushed and humble voice. He may have bowed before him. Wouldn't you? Do you now?
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most essential doctrine of the church. Any who don't believe this truth are denying Jesus, Christianity and Scripture.     
He said He was the Son of God. (Luke 22:70) He said He would rise from the dead. (Luke 18:33) And He did. He said He would return and He will. (Matthew 24:30) What a marvelous faith we have.  

Blessings in the Risen Christ, Dottie

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Holy Week Scripture

Gethsemane, Arrest and Trial, Crucifixion and Burial
Today I’m listing the holy week Scripture from Thursday night to Friday. Ponder the meaning of these events. Jesus, the son of God died for us.

Gethsemane – In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus sweat blood and tears. Matt. 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-42, Luke 22:40-46 He prayed “Let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not my will but yours be done.”

Arrest and Trial – Matthew 26:47-27:26, Mark 14:43-15:15, Luke 22:47-23:25, John 18:2-19:16. Pilate said, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.” Luke 23:4

Crucifixion – Matt. 27:27-56, Mark 15:16-41, Luke 23:26-49, John 19:17-37.
Jesus prayed, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

Burial – Matt. 27:57-66, Mark 15:42-47, Luke 23:50-56, John 19:38-42
Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate and asked for Jesus body. “Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock.” Luke 23:53

In Christ, Dottie