Wednesday, October 31, 2018


Q. I have high blood pressure and a nervous stomach. My doctor says it will help both conditions if I learn to relax. This amazes me. I thought both of these conditions were due to physical causes. How can I learn to relax when I’ve always been a tense person?

A. Our minds and bodies work together. Many physical symptoms and nervous symptoms are related to emotional stress. Someone has said, “We call it serenity when the mind is free of tension; we call it relaxation when the body is. They are really one and the same.” Relaxation is a powerful healing tool. There is research evidence that relaxation can lessen the effects of many physical symptoms as well as alleviating many psychological conditions. Persons with stress-related high blood pressure may find that regular relaxation will lower their blood pressure enough to decrease or even to eliminate the need for medication.
Relaxation has been shown to reduce many of our negative emotions - anger, anxiety, fear and depression. Many of these negative emotions are connected with heart disease. 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 even boost the functioning of our immune system. 
Relaxation will not cure everything but it is an amazingly effective way to enhance our quality of life.  Relaxation is almost discouraged by our culture. Our life styles are rushed and our schedules are crammed. Many of us don’t know how to relax. Relaxation can help all of us. Living without a daily time to relax is similar to driving your car with the brakes on all the time.  
When we are under stress our bodies and minds are geared for action. Our blood pressure and heart rate increases, our respiration increases, our muscles tense, the adrenaline flows. When we relax our heart rate and blood pressure decrease, our respiration decreases, our muscles relax, we feel calm.      
To learn how to relax your body and mind, set aside ten to twenty minutes twice a day for relaxation, meditation or prayer. Taking just these brief periods out of your busy day will improve your physical, emotional and spiritual health.
There are two basic steps to relaxation. 
1.  Repeat a word, prayer, or phrase.  Say this over and over.
2.  Passively ignore thoughts that come to your mind and return to repeating the word, prayer or phrase. 

Herbert Benson, M.D., who defined bodily calm as “the relaxation response” and discovered the steps which elicit it, has more recently discovered that faith is a helpful factor in learning to relax. Dr. Benson teaches his patients to pick a focus word or short phrase to say repetitively as described above. He was surprised that most of his patients chose prayer to focus their thoughts. He also found that when people chose a word or phrase that sprang from their deep beliefs and convictions they were more likely to continue the relaxation. In other words, if you use a prayer or phrase with deep meaning to you you will be more consistent in setting aside the time for doing this.
A faith focus also enabled Dr. Benson’s patients to elicit positive memories which aided their health.  Because of their faith they visualized wellness which facilitated their recovery. Their belief also helped them disconnect from unhealthy worries or negative thinking. Dr. Benson reluctantly began to explore the “faith factor” and he came to believe that we are biologically wired for faith. To learn more about this read Timeless Healing, The Power and Biology of Belief  by Herbert Benson, M.D.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Blessings, Dottie

Saturday, October 27, 2018


Q. My life never seems to go the way I want it to go. I move from one underpaid job to another and from one crisis to another. Six months ago I had a car accident and I was down sized from my job. Now I work for a company which may go out of business soon. My apartment was also flooded in the recent torrential rain fall. I know everyone’s dealing with the threat of terrorism but I was in crisis even before that. Why does all this disaster follow me around? 

A. Life is sending you many “wake up calls” rather than “disasters.” Wake up calls happen to all of us. Accidents, flooded apartments, job problems or changes upset us.  However, we don’t have to let these shape our lives. Someone has said, it’s not what happens to us but how we react to it that matters. Scott Peck, well known psychiatrist and author, says that life on earth is a celestial boot camp. Troubles can help us grow. 
In order to have the life you want you need a clear idea of what you want. You also must take risks to make this happen. Most of us avoid change. We muddle along in a job that isn’t satisfying and give little thought to where we want to go in life. It’s almost as though we’re sleep walking through life.
Crisis points in our life can force us out of our ruts. The Chinese character for crisis also means opportunity. When a job change is inevitable or an auto accident shakes our world we might look on these as wake up calls. Rather than seeing only the negative side to difficulties we can see them as an opportunity to grow, an opportunity to change the direction of our lives.To use problems as opportunities do the following:
1. Don’t get mad and don’t get even. Don’t blame others for the things that happen to you. Instead, take an honest look at yourself and the part you play in the way your life has gone. You may have come from a dysfunctional family but now you’re responsible for your life and you don’t have to let what’s happened in the past contaminate the future. Blaming others prevents us from growing. Anger, resentment and self pity keep us stuck. Get counseling if these are big issues for you.
2. Listen to each wake-up call “Life” sends you. Wake up calls are events that shake us up, that force us to change our lives in some way. A wake up call may even challenge our beliefs and values. When major changes are complicating or disrupting our lives we’re more open to growth because we’re forced out of our ruts. 
3. Take a risk as you plan your future life. Apply for jobs that pay you well. Take courses to up grade your skills. Do something new that feels risky. We may have difficulty sleeping and have physical symptoms. Change is scary. But this is how we grow. Your fear and other distressful feelings will not last. Too often we settle for a mediocre life instead of pursuing our dreams. 
                                                                                                                                               4. Discover meaning and purpose in your life.  What gives your life meaning? What is your purpose in life?  Faith in God will help you through a difficult transition and will give your life meaning.  Focusing on your purpose in life will clarify your direction and goals. 
5. Seek counseling when faced with a major loss that is overwhelming or when making a very difficult transition. It’s a sign of strength not weakness to acknowledge the need for help.

“Consider it all joy, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” James 1: 2-3

Blessings, Dottie

Monday, October 15, 2018


Q. My wife and I saw two different marriage counselors and neither one was helpful to our marriage.  One counselor wondered why my wife stayed with me since she was so unhappy. Another counselor saw us separately and told me that maybe we should separate. We don’t want to separate or divorce.  We just want to learn how to solve our marital conflicts. Marriage counseling almost tore us apart. Does marriage counseling ever help? What will help us?

A. I was a marriage counselor for over thirty years and I’ve heard many similar stories. Unfortunately not all marriage counselors are trained to help couples change the way they interact with each other. Also, not all marriage counselors view marriage as a life-long commitment which most of us make before God, family and friends.  
Some therapists as well as our society, think that marriage should “make us happy” not understanding that all marriages have some low points and all marriages take work. Most couples can identify some positives in their relationship and don’t want to break up their marriage. They just don’t know how to fix it. 

William J. Doherty, Ph.D. gave a presentation called “How Therapy Can Be Hazardous To Your Marital Health.” He is appalled, as I am, at what some counselors tell couples. He describes one couple who saw a therapist together. The wife was clinically depressed and medication was begun. In a later individual session with the wife the therapist told her she wouldn’t recover from her depression until she “trusted her feelings” about the marriage. Then the therapist suggested a separation. The wife protested saying she loved her husband and was committed to him. The wife was stunned and didn’t return to the counselor.

Next she talked to her priest. He urged her to wait and see whether the depression was causing the marital problems or the martial problems were causing her depression. If things improved with the medication then all was well. Then he told her if it didn’t work out he would help her get an annulment!  Again, she was stunned. 

They finally saw a competent marital therapist who helped the couple. Dr. Doherty says that this couple “survived two efforts at “therapist-induced marital suicide.” 

Other examples of things incompetent therapists may say:
  •  “Your marriage isn’t working any more.” This is like saying my car isn’t working anymore and it’s not worth repairing.
  •  “Maybe it’s time to move on.” That’s what we say about a job. 
  •  “You deserve better.” Friends, not just therapists will say this about a marriage. 
  • One therapist refers to “starter marriage.” Starter marriage? We refer to a starter home? It’s a little home you plan to leave!                     
Dr. Doherty suggests that “this kind of language represents the invasion of a consumer ethic into marriage in addition to focus on individual fulfillment and satisfaction.” He encourages couples to take marital education classes and I would agree with him. I have seen more change happening in couples marriages through marriage education than through counseling though some couples need both.  Locally, I’ve been involved with The Third Option group for married couples.  I recommend you and your wife find a Third Option group or go to Weekend to Remember. 

“Let love and faithfulness never leave you.” Proverbs 3:3

Blessings, Dottie


Monday, October 8, 2018

Two Books about Powerful Praying

I’m including two books in which the authors “hear” God speak to them. I previously reviewed Hearing God in Conversation. Then last year I read the second book which I had some questions about, but it inspired me to pray more so seemed worthwhile for others to read. I reread both of these books this year and they have sparked a deepening in my own prayer life.

Seven Secrets to Powerful Praying: How to Access God’s Wisdom & Miracles Every Day
By Jane Glenchur
A blurb by the author on the back of the book says: “Learning to partner with God is the heart of this book. In so doing, you, too, will develop an intimate relationship with the Lord and experience miraculous answers.” Jane Glenchur writes with wit and wisdom about her practice of praying about every decision no matter how mundane. 

At the beginning of the book she runs to a store to find a good stain remover for carpet in the midst of a household emergency. She kneels to see the stain removers, puts her hand on each one and prays, God, “Is this the one?” Miraculously on the fourth one she hears a voice (two women walking by) saying, “That is the best stain remover.” She bought it and it worked!
Throughout the book Glenchur spells out her prayers in virtually any and every household, family or personal situation and often “hears” God’s voice offering his wisdom. She says his “voice” is always gentle and calm. Over years of experience with this she developed a very deep and personal relationship with God and has experienced many miraculous answers.
Out of the blue one day she heard God saying “Your mother won’t die this year.” Her mother was 88 but healthy, so this puzzled her. Three months later her mother fell and broke her pelvis and her shoulder. Doctors were grim about her recovery and suggested calling a family meeting. She hung on to God’s words and said, “She’ll be OK.” And in a couple of months her mother had recovered and was able to go back to her home.
One of the seven secrets in the book is “Toss the pros and cons lists.” Instead of trying to mentally figure out the best course of action – making lists and poring over the alternatives – She now prays and waits for God’s answer. As a compulsive list maker this impressed me!
The book is divided into three parts: Part 1 Partnering with God, Part 2 Applying the Seven Secrets to Power Praying, and Part 3 Stepping Up to the Next Level
Part 3 includes excellent chapters to guide such as Unmasking Deception, Day to Day Decisions, Praying for the Impossible, Time Management and more.
Using her seven secrets will involve going all in with God, letting go of old ways and surrendering to his instructions. She gives simple steps to manage and to learn to hear God’s voice.
I have questions about some of this though it is hard to argue with her results. Also, in reading this book I was inspired and convicted about needing to spend more time with the Lord. I have been in prayer groups and conferences in which this kind of reliance on prayer lifted up God and glorified him. This is a book to be read and reread and to be put into practice.

Hearing God in Conversation: How to Recognize His Voice Everywhere

By Samuel C. Williamson

Samuel Williamson in his book Hearing God in Conversation affirms the primary importance of hearing from God via Scripture but goes on to encourage believers to cultivate an ear for hearing from God and having conversations with God in a variety of ways. His parents taught him how to hear God and he assumed everyone expected to hear from God directly.

This is an excellent book, true to the Word and also citing the fact that God wants a personal relationship with us. This means we can converse with him daily; we can dialog with God, not just share our thoughts but “hear” (in our minds) from him as well. The author’s convincing unfolding of this idea is inspiring. He weaves his own life stories thorough out as well as citing many biblical examples.

Chapter titles include: The First Time I Heard God’s Voice, Conversation is the Point, How to Recognize the Voice of God, What are Scriptures for?, Brainstorming with God, God Speaks in Our Detours, Hearing God in the Ordinary, God Shouts in His Silence and The God Who Guides and more. He also includes two excellent appendixes Answers to the Arguments and Questionable and Excessive Practices.

Williamson says that sometimes God will nudge us to make a phone call, sometimes we’ll hear a verbal message and sometimes we see a picture. He tells of his grandfather in 1915 seeing red capital letters which spelled the name of a province in China. He prayed and felt called to be a missionary. He lived in that very province for two decades and planted four China inland churches. Pg 31

Williamson notes that God guides us with his voice in conversation but he also carefully orchestrates our lives. There is much good information in this book that can teach us how to hear God in conversation and recognize and better know our mighty God.

“Happy are those who find wisdom, and those who get understanding.” Proverbs 3:13 NRSV

Blessings, Dottie

Monday, October 1, 2018

Psalm 119 Meditations and Prayers Relating to the Law of God

This is the seventeenth section of Psalm 119 – the longest chapter and the longest Psalm in the Bible. There are 8 different terms referring to Scripture used through out. These are: law, testimonies, precepts, statutes, commandments, judgments, word and ordinances.  Pe                                                                                                                    
129 Your testimonies are wonderful;                                                                                   Therefore my soul observes them.

Father, Your commands are life-giving;                                                                                And so my soul lives by them.

130 The unfolding of Your words gives light;
It gives understanding to the simple.

The opening of new layers of your word gives new light;
It brings wisdom to the humble at heart.

131 I opened my mouth wide and panted,
For I longed for Your commandments.

Father, I’m eager and breathless.
Waiting for Your guidance and wisdom.

132 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
After Your manner with those who love Your name.

Look on me, shine on me and be gracious to me,
As you do with those who adore your name.

133 Establish my footsteps in Your word,
And do not let any iniquity have dominion over me.

Establish my firm and focused path in your word,
And don’t let any sin have sway over me.

134 Redeem me from the oppression of man,
That I may keep Your precepts.

Father, Save me from the coruption of our culture,
So I will follow your laws.

135 Make Your face shine upon Your servant,
And teach me Your statutes.

Show me your glorious face, Your follower and friend,
And teach me your ways.

136 My eyes shed streams of water,
Because they do not keep Your law.

Father, I cry buckets of tears
Because the wicked do not keep your law and do not know you.

Blessings, Dottie