The Challenge of Difficult Emotions

Fear.  Shame.  Anger.  Boredom.  Sadness.  Disgust.  These are feelings we don’t enjoy, and we can often go to great lengths to avoid them.  This was documented centuries ago by Blaise Pascal, who is quoted to say “All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.”   We try to suppress these emotions, especially fear and shame.  However, as Brené Brown has noted, emotions are like the old string of Christmas lights: when we deny or turn off one light bulb (such as anger) the whole string goes out.  Essentially, we become emotionally disabled in
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Categories: Children, Faith issues, Family, Mental Health, Parenting, and Personal Growth.

“Remember Who You Are”

Who our children become is important to parents, and the level of this importance is seen in how much time, money and effort parents devote to their kids.   I put “who” instead of “what” because “what” our kids become is limited to doing – what they do for a career, for a hobby, etc.  Who our children become is much broader than this, and includes how they think, act, and what they stand for in their lives.   Parents have a huge impact on this.  Thinking about your own child(ren), aren’t you more concerned with “who” they become than
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Categories: Children, Faith issues, Family, Parenting, and Personal Growth.

Are you Willing and Able?

Happy New Year! What I’ve been thinking about lately is will and ability.  If you think about the word “responsibility” you can think of it as “response ability.”  It’s your ability to respond to life’s demands.  Its your capacity to act.   Another thing to consider besides ability is willingness.  As great American thinker William James describes it, its the “sense of the amount of effort we can put forth.”  We all have a power of will.  It is my hope and prayer that you have an immense power of will.  It is the engine with which you drive your
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Categories: Faith issues, Mental Health, and Personal Growth.

Holiday Time: A Focus Exercise

{Insert Awkward Christmas Family Photo Here} Do you remember that Folgers commercial from the 1980s; “Peter comes home for Christmas”?   Peter is the oldest son who just arrives home (because of a delayed flight or something) on Christmas morning and he wakes his family up by making coffee and everyone is so relieved to see he made it home.  It’s touching.  It gets at the longing for everyone in the family to be together on Christmas morning, and the sadness that was narrowly avoided for this close knit family.  But what about that poor sap who drove Peter home? 
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Categories: Faith issues, Family, and Holidays.

Are You __________ Enough?

Are you _(fill in the blank)_ Enough? Good, safe, perfect, beautiful, smart, athletic, successful, funny, happy, wealthy… These are just a few of the words that we fill in the blank to the question “am I _______ enough?”  Where does this question come from?  Why do we ask this question of ourselves so much?   It comes from a mindset that there is a limited supply of what we ultimately need in order to feel happy and fulfilled in life.  This is what Brené Brown, author of “The Gifts of Imperfection” and speaker in one of the most viewed TED
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Categories: Faith issues, Mental Health, Personal Growth, and Stress.

Wonder. A Poem.

My daughter who is a high school senior recently captured her life experience and put it into a poem.  Very profound.  Here it  is…   Who will I be?  Where will I go?  I wonder. I am in a pool all by myself. The pool of my thoughts.  Just floating and, Wondering. I pull myself into a fetal position and my eyes are touching my knees. And I wonder. Where will my legs take me? Will I walk in the safe and shallow of the pool? Or will I take the daring dive of faith to live an extraordinary journey?
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Categories: Faith issues, Personal Growth, and Transitions / Change.

What St. Patrick Can Teach Us

Last spring my wife and I traveled to Ireland.  One of our favorite places that we visited there was the Saint Patrick Centre in Northern Ireland.  This museum is located in the region of Ireland where Patrick first came to Ireland from Britain.  He didn’t go there by choice.  At the age of 16, he was captured along with several others by marauding bands of barbarians and taken to Ireland as a slave.  He was a slave there for 6 years and forced to watch over sheep for some farmer.  Some time during his enslavement, he called out to God
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Categories: Faith issues, Family, and Personal Growth.

Making the Most of Your Holiday Traditions

There once was a young mother we’ll call “Susan” who volunteered to cook the Christmas turkey for the big family dinner. This being her first time to cook a turkey herself, she recalled her careful observations of her mother’s cooking techniques from past Thanksgivings and Christmases. She remembered that her mother cut the turkey into parts and placed them in a large pan. Her husband “Barry” came in and asked “Why are you cutting that turkey up?” Susan replied “because this is what I always saw my mother do. I don’t know why she cut it up. Its just something
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Categories: Faith issues, Family, Holidays, and Personal Growth.

Giving Thanks

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the national holiday of thanksgiving.  Everyone knows it hearkens back to the pilgrims and Native Americans, but it wasn’t officially deemed a holiday until President Lincoln enacted it at a time when many had little to be thankful for.  Lincoln called for this public day of thanksgiving when the civil war was in full swing and wouldn’t end for another year and a half.  It was actually brought to the public by Lincoln after the exhausting and tragic victory over the south at Gettysburg.  Psychologically, it was a brilliant move on Lincoln’s part. 
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Categories: Faith issues, Holidays, and Personal Growth.

Forgiveness: A Testimonial

Remember the line from the movie “Love Story” that “Love means never having to say you’re sorry?”  What a crock!  John Lennon of the Beatles makes more sense when he explained that “Love means having to say you’re sorry every five minutes.”  Reconciliation and forgiveness are necessary ingredients for any committed couple’s success.  Dr.Terry Hargrave, an internationally recognized expert on forgiveness, says that “Any act of forgiveness should also be accompanied by a change in the victimizer towards trustworthy behavior.”  This means, essentially, that when you have wronged your mate you MUST convey that you are sorry! This is only
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Categories: Faith issues, Family, Marriage, and Personal Growth.