The purpose of this blog is to give helpful insights into issues, themes and situations that hinder living in fullness of life. Posted from newest to oldest, they cover a variety of subjects. Browse by scrolling through the articles or using the Archive. The 1st post "Greetings" is an introduction to this blog. More about Abundant Life Services can be found via the link to the website. Please feel free to comment if you would like or submit ideas for future posts.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Who is Right?

    Imagine sitting in a room with another person; you on one side; them on the opposite side. In front to you both is a large heavy metal box which you both know contains a special surprise. On your side you see a door with massive hinges and a large combination safe lock. On the other side is a thin wooden panel held in place by 4 simple phillips head screws. The discussion begins as to what to do. Your partner starts out excited at the easy prospects of getting to the surprise. You however are shocked at their seemingly foolish optimism and quickly bring things back to reality with the seeming impossibility of the task at hand. They confront you with your quick desire to give up on something so obviously easy and you, on the other hand, berate them for being so naive and not living in reality. You begin to argue over what it would take to open the box; them talking about simple hand tools you talking about a blow torch and dynamite. Next thing you know you are yelling at them for being so simple minded and stupid. They yell back with how you never value their opinions and how self righteous and stubborn you are. Voices are raised, feelings are hurt, the past is being brought up and you both conclude; who needs this. You exit the room behind you to get away from this mean, foolish person, wanting nothing more than to put this all behind you. They too, exit the room behind them asking why something so simple ends up like this and conclude the prize probably wasn’t worth it anyway. You both are CONVINCED you are right and they are wrong and so confused as to why they won’t admit it.
    So the question is, who was right? They stumbled over what so many couples stumble over all the time - it is “their individual perspective.” You see, a perspective is not necessarily right or wrong. It is shaped by what we see from our vantage point and by our experiences, our past, our personality and even our gender. It shapes our expectations and our apprehensions and often seems to create insurmountable obstacles, especially if our perspectives are very different. In our illustration the discussion quickly devolved into who was right or wrong, accusations and defensiveness. They could not see that the combination of perspectives, expectations and apprehensions would have led them to a prize rather than another unsolved conflict that just further entrenched them in past hurt.
    One of the secrets to healthy marital communication that leads two people into becoming teammates, who are working successfully to  find the surprises of life and of marriage, is to recognize the value of different (not right or wrong) perspectives and expectations. This process of hearing and being heard creates understanding. It is the misguided view that one perspective has to be right and the other wrong that creates the feelings of accusation and defensiveness which leads to emotions like anger and hurt, which shuts down communication and keeps the prize locked in the box.
    Counseling or, the use of a more objective third party who has experience at helping you learn these tools, works very well to create new patterns of communication. So ask yourself, “what amazing surprises are we missing by not working to understand our different and sometimes unique perspectives.”
    May God bless your desire for healthy relationships.

To know more about Abundant Life Services counseling click on the link to the right. To submit a question or topic email

Thursday, August 21, 2014


   Another week, another story in the news cycle. A journalist beheaded on video in Iraq. Unthinkable! His only crime was being an American. A reality, that is to some, an evil thing. So for the unthinkable evil of being an American journalist who wanted to get the story of the plight of Syrians out to the world, comes the unthinkable evil of his execution - recorded, distributed, watched and, for some, celebrated. Unthinkable!

   We want to believe the unthinkable only happens in Countries like Syria and Iraq, but for an estimated quarter of our population unthinkable is not so far away. It’s the little blue-eyed girl next door who is sexually abused by her father. Or the troublesome boy on your soccer team who is chained to the kitchen table for misbehaving. It’s the child rape victim in the town next to yours. It’s the toddler, with the sad eyes, in your Sunday School class who was molested. Unthinkable - we wish; yet only too common. So what is it that is unthinkable? Is it unthinkable that evil exists? Are the acts themselves unthinkable? Or is it that we don’t want to think about it; about them? Is it that we don’t want to think about those, all around us, who suffer from childhood trauma, suffer guilt and shame as if the sexual/physical abuse that happened to them was somehow their fault.

   So, we try not to think about those unthinkable acts; but to do so we must try not the think about “them” - the victims.   Consequently we make “them” unthinkable and send them a message that they too, are not to think about it. If a victim of the unthinkable is not to think about it, what does that do to their view of self? Because something unthinkable happened to them does not make them unthinkable; does not mean they are left to suffer their pain, their memories in silence.

   Healing of unthinkable acts does not come by not thinking about them. Quite the opposite, healing comes by thinking about it, by talking about it. In doing so they begin to talk about themselves, about their pain. They may learn that things have happened to them that were not normal but that does not mean they are not normal. How would anyone find that out if the unthinkable remains unspoken.

   There is only one thing worse than thinking about the unthinkable and that is to not think about it; because the only way not think about it is to not think about the victims. To not think about them, about the millions in this country that have suffered unthinkable acts is the most unthinkable thing of all.

   As a counselor, I think about it all the time and as a result I think about them. I think about the wounded and broken, the silent and the ashamed. I also think about those who dared to think about the unthinkable and, as a result, become whole and healed, vocal and powerful. There are answers for the unthinkable. There are safe places to go to think about it and talk about it and find help through it. Do you need such a place? Do you know someone who does? Will you do something about it? All I ask is that you . . . think about it . .
May the God of healing bring wholeness to all who are wounded.

To know more about Abundant Life Services counseling click on the link to the right. To submit a question or topic email

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


    How can such a funny man be in so much pain that he takes his life? Humor is no substitute for hope. With the death of Robin Williams in the news, it raises many thoughts and questions. Why does someone who seems to have so much, take his life? How does someone get to the point where suicide seems like a valid option? Was it because of his fame or in spite of his fame? How can I know I’m ok? How can I know those around me are ok?
    I’m not going to try to address the broad subject and complexities of mental or emotional illness; nor will this be a detailed study on depression or addiction. Rather I want to address the issue of hope. Hope is what holds each of us steady through the storms of life and the unpredictable roller coaster of emotions that accompanies life. All of which is certainly impacted by things like clinical or chemical depression, bipolar disorder, or substance abuse. Such disorders need professional help and, at times, medication; and always needs monitoring; but hope, or the absence of hope, is something all of us need to assess on an ongoing basis.
    There are the temporary times where any of us can feel hopeless and at such times we can feel like we want to quit, find a way out, or even believe our hopeless state has become a burden to those around us. At times like these we can have suicidal thoughts without the intent of carrying it out. For most, this hopelessness passes and we get through the circumstances relatively intact; but when hopeless won’t let go, when we can’t seem to find something to hope in or a reason to press through, the situation becomes much different and we need to seek help quickly. The thoughts of suicide can begin to truly look like a way out; a relief to myself and a relief to those who have had to put up my hopeless battle.
    I have counseled people who lost touch with hope in such a deep way that I try to express my hope for them and ask them to hold onto my hope until they find some hope of there own. Going it alone is a recipe for disaster. Our perspective is clouded. Our thinking gets skewed. What seems obvious to others is not so clear to self in the pit of hopelessness. All of us can help direct the person to reasons to live and reasons to have hope; to talk about what brings hope and to listen compassionately to what their hopelessness feels like to them - without judgement or feeding them cliches. The thought that they “just need to pull it together” or telling them “it’s not that bad, you know things will get better” are just not helpful. To the person in despair, the world doesn’t look like it does to you or I. Being sensitive to that can open the door to hold their hand and slowly walk them back to that place of hope.
    It can be frustrating and can require patience, but it can also be very rewarding to know that you have helped someone out of this dead end valley of despair. Of course, faith in the God of hope is valuable beyond words, both for the person in despair and the one trying to help them. God gives us wisdom, empathy, compassion and grace; but faith in God alone is no guarantee. It seems from biographical information that Robin Williams had faith in God. Others I have known had faith in God but also took their own life. The key is, does my faith in God translate into hope for this life, here and now?
    I urge you to not participate in conversations that judge Robin Williams because “he had it all and should have known better” or that “he was just a loser substance abuser.” Those judgements miss the mark. To focus on clinical depression, bipolar, or addiction misses the bigger issue that impacts the majority of us in some way or another. He was a hurting man who, against all logic, lost his hope and felt there was only one way out of the vortex pulling him deeper into the pit of despair; only one way to make the pain end for good. How sad and tragic; and yet that pit is closer than we think to many of us and those around us. Look for hope. Share hope. Hold onto hope. Never belittle or look beyond those who sound like hope is slipping through their fingers. Instead reach out to them, put their arm over your shoulder and walk them to sources where hope can be restored. Good, faith based Christian counseling can be one of those sources.
May the God of hope bless you.
To know more about Abundant Life Services counseling click on the link to the right. To submit a question or topic email

Monday, July 28, 2014

Where Do I Begin?

That's a pretty common question when you sit down for the first time with a counselor. Do I start by telling you that I’m here because I’m sleeping all the time and have no motivation. Maybe I should talk about how I feel an overwhelming sense of despair. Perhaps I should talk about how my thoughts race from, “what is left, I don’t think things will ever be the same” to “this is the same thing mom went through and she passed away in a pit of despair.” I could get really deep and talk about how, when I was a teen, my dad kept telling me, “you’re just like your mom and you’ll never amount to anything.” Then a year later my dad left us and never came back.

In this fictitious, but believable account, you see four things. The first is behavior and that behavior is often what gets our attention. Second is feelings and these feelings often prompt our behavior. Third is thoughts or self talk, the tape that loops over and over in our head, many times producing the feelings. Lastly is beliefs, in this case, beliefs like I’ll never amount to anything, I’m destined to be like mom, this is my fault, I deserve it.
Do we need to deal with the behavior, feelings and thoughts? Yes. Often this is how we uncover the beliefs; but are those beliefs true? If not, how do we change them? If we could change them, perhaps the thoughts would change and thus the feelings and even the behavior could change to.
I have watched this process unfold and seen many gain powerful victory from consuming thoughts and feelings and unhealthy behaviors. Is this psychology at work? Consider this: in the Bible in John 8:32 Jesus says, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Apply that to the process I just outlined and you’ll see that this is more than psychology, it is a spiritual principle at work. In addition, Paul states in Romans 12:2 . . . be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” When you couple these two spiritual principles together, you get a pattern that has the potential to transform (from the Greek word metamorphoo, meaning metamorphose like a caterpillar to a butterfly) or radically change a person’s life.
So, back to the question, where do I begin? The simple answer is begin with whatever you see, but know that beneath behaviors are feelings; beneath feelings are looping thoughts and beneath the thoughts are beliefs which could be true or untrue, healthy or unhealthy. If the beliefs can become healthy, truth based, spiritually powerful beliefs; then the truth and renewal of thinking can quite possibly transform your life.
May God bless you with Hope and Life.  
Previous posts can be viewed below or via the "Archive" to the right.
If you have a question or topic you think might be useful to address with this blog or if you would like to contact me, go to the right hand column “Submit a Topic” and follow the instruction. To learn more about Abundant Life Services go to Click the Link Below (right hand column) and click on "Introduction . . . "

I Just Don’t Understand Him/Her

Much of what I encounter when working with couples is actually very common to most couples rather than, “what is wrong with us!” For them, they think the problem is unique and thus something is wrong with him/her, or how can I change him/her. Perhaps the most common and confusing of these, what I’ll call, gender differences in the way men and women process things. Women feel things. It’s as if women process through a thick outer layer of feelings and emotions. Men, on the other hand, process things in a much more non-emotional, fact based way. In other words, for women, feelings seem much more relevant than facts, while for men, facts seem much more relevant than feelings . . . and both think their way is the best way. In fact, they cannot fully comprehend any other way of processing then their own. Of course this sets up an awkward, if not outright frustrating scenario. An event occurs and she wants to talk about it so that she can have someone to share her feelings with. For her, this is the first part of resolving the event. He wants to get down to the facts so it can be dealt with quickly and efficiently. She can’t believe he can be so insensitive to her feelings. He can’t understand why she is so emotional when the logical solution is obvious. She thinks he is being a jerk and probably doing so on purpose. He just shakes his head and is reminded how much women don’t make sense, but that’s not all. He puts it all into a little mental "box" and doesn’t “need” to re-open it unless he sees the benefit of it or is forced to. So he’s content to not even revisit, what for her has now become, a deeply emotional issue. She, on the other hand, carries it continuously along with any other recent events and the corresponding emotions connected to them. For her everything flows into her emotional river while he compartmentalizes in his factual post office boxes. Both of these methods of processing events have their advantages and disadvantages. In fact, it could be argued that the world needs both and I would argue that each marriage needs both. The key to harmony in the midst of such a major difference is to understand that these methods are unconscious responses and will not likely change. Thus the other partner is not intentionally “trying” to be difficult and change does not come without some hard work and maybe some coaching. The truth is, each is confused by the each others feelings and behavior. I have good news. If each one seeks to understand and to celebrate the differences rather than fight them; if each one seeks to learn from each other and to meet in the middle - they can benefit from the advantages and minimize the disadvantages of both methods. Remember, God made us the way we are intentionally. If men try and make women think like men and women try and make men think like women, we both lose the benefit of our God designed differences.
May God bless you with Hope and Life.  
Previous posts can be viewed below or via the "Archive" to the right.
If you have a question or topic you think might be useful to address with this blog or if you would like to contact me, go to the right hand column “Submit a Topic” and follow the instruction. To learn more about Abundant Life Services go to Click the Link Below (right hand column) and click on "Introduction . . . "

Why Counseling?

In the clinical sense, counseling is connected with the concept of a "shrink," or stigmatized with psychoanalysis, probing the brain while lying on a couch with someone speaking to you in a foreign accent. While there can be deep psychological issues that need to be dealt with in some people, most just need some help. Depression can occur following a series of disappointing life events. Marital issues are common to all but most don't seek help until well into the problems, if they seek help at all. Mid life crisis, parenting, being laid off, substance misuse or abuse, relationship problems and a host of other issues are common to us all. In these situations, many times, we lose the ability to gain a true perspective on what is happening to us, both on the inside and circumstantially. The truth in the statement, "can't see the forest for the trees" applies here. We can be so close to the everyday battle that no matter how hard we try to step back and get objective, we can't. Counseling, in this case is like coaching or being an objective set of eyes to help us get a healthier perspective on what is happening and what can be done about it; and even though you may not see it, there is almost always something that can be done about it. It is sad that so many resist the thought of counseling because of it's stigmas or because it seems scary or it is an admission of weakness. I find that most of those I see are amazed at how safe and comfortable they feel and how much it helps them find that "new" set of eyes. The comment, "I wish I'd have done this sooner" is a common one. Consider this, the prophet Isaiah says in chapter 55 verses 8 & 9 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." In addition, the Apostle Paul says in 2nd Corinthians 4:18 "we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."
Both these passages hint to us that our perspective may not see the whole picture and thus, to base life on that perspective alone will leave us with a skewed view of our life situation. Once that view can broaden then choices, before unseen, can emerge. This is not unlike climbing to a hilltop to discover a network of trails below, unseen from the valley forest.
So when is the best time to seek that objective set of eyes, that coach's perspective, that sounding board and voice that may open the door on some unseen wisdom? Sooner, rather than later. Why keep doing the same thing and getting the same results? Maybe it's time for a new perspective.
May God bless you with Hope and Life.  
Previous posts can be viewed below or via the "Archive" to the right. If you have a question or topic you think might be useful to address with this blog or if you would like to contact me, go to the right hand column “Submit a Topic” and follow the instruction. To learn more about Abundant Life Services go to Click the Link Below (right hand column) and click on "Introduction . . . "

Feelings, "make them stop"

Hi, and welcome to my first post on topics meant to inform, strengthen or encourage.
A common question is something like this; "How do I make feelings I don't like, go away?" The truth is, there is little we can do to "make" feelings go away. They come to us via thoughts, events, circumstances and even beliefs we have (even if those beliefs are not true). While we might not be able to make the feelings go away, we can manage our feelings. If fact, if we don't learn to manage our feelings, our feelings will manage us. For example, the Bible says, "be angry, and sin not" (Ephesians 4:26). In other words, we might not be able to stop feeling anger but we have choices as to what we do with it. While it might initially make us "feel" good by verbally blasting the person we are angry at, in the long run the guilt we feel, the wounds we inflict or the break in relationship that occurs, may be worse than the temporary good feeling of blasting out our anger.
I find that, often people are unable to see the choices that can be made to manage the feeling. Instead we operate on auto-pilot based on what we have always done, even if what we have always done is not emotionally or spiritually healthy. Counseling often consists of gaining awareness of what the issues are and then learning healthy tools that can be used in those new areas of awareness. It's not an instant or quick fix, but in time and with some work - we can learn manage our feelings in healthy ways. One of the joys of counseling is seeing people become empowered by seeing new tools and new choices that can be applied to those pesky feelings that so often seem to run our lives. When those tools are implemented, real change is possible.
So next time you find yourself wondering, "how can I make this feeling go away;" instead, ask yourself, "if I wanted to manage this feeling in a healthy way, what choices could I make."
Feel free to submit topics or questions you would find useful to be addressed on this blog.
May God bless you with Hope and Life.  
Previous posts can be viewed below or via the "Archive" to the right.
If you have a question or topic you think might be useful to address with this blog or if you would like to contact me, go to the right hand column “Submit a Topic” and follow the instruction. To learn more about Abundant Life Services go to Click the Link Below (right hand column) and click on "Introduction . . . "