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.

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 . . . "


This is not so much an introduction to myself as it is an introduction to the work that I do. Well, it's more than work, it is more of a calling. A calling to facilitate the goal of the one who loves us like no other ever could. So much so, that he lay his life aside for a love that, all things considered, sounds too good to be true. Love that unites us to our heavenly father, creator of all things, who placed us on the earth because he wanted someone to love so he made you and I. This one who opened this wondrous door is Jesus who said, "I am come that they (we) might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). The Greek word, perissos, translated here "more abundantly" means superior in quality, superabundant in quantity, excessive, violently beyond measure (Strongs). I believe this abundant life is meant to permeate every facet of our lives, including our relationships, marriages, parenting, friendships, joy, peace, sense of purpose, contentment and emotional, as well as spiritual, health and wholeness.
I have seen through one on one interaction, counseling, teaching and preaching; that awareness, coupled with effective tools for living, can open the doors for the abundant life Jesus came to give. That action can literally change our lives, even if our circumstances stay relatively the same. I have seen that we can live powerfully, see our choices more clearly, be free from fear, doubt, anxiety and insecurity. I have seen that forgiveness can be real, both forgiveness received and forgiveness extended to others, and that this is a key to real freedom. I have seen that trauma, abuse and brokenness need not hold us captive and that the wounded can become like mighty oak trees for the display of the splendor of God's transforming power (paraphrase of Isaiah 61).
Far too often we put up with far too much, because the life Jesus came to give is stolen away. Too many times we feel helpless to do anything about it, yet the promise is true. If only we could believe what he said. If only we knew what to do. If only we had tools that worked.
All this is why I do what I do. My confidence is far less about me and more about the years of seeing God work through me, by his Spirit, through his word, through his wisdom and insight. Like the apostle Paul, if it sounds as if I boast, my boast is not in myself but in him and in his power that works in us.
If we bring to the table our complete honesty. If we give up trying to change others and desire change in ourselves. If we learn to manage feelings rather than try to make them go away. If we mix faith with action. If we believe the giver of life is the expert in how to live that life. If we do these things, then life as we have known it can change. Joy, peace, contentment and purpose can be a reality.
I hope to use this blog to share thoughts that can be a source of help, encouragement, thoughts, challenges and tools that can help in the journey toward that goal of increasing life. I would also like to believe that those who read it can submit questions or topics you are interested in and hopefully I can respond in ways that can be helpful.
To contact me for an appointment or to arrange for speaking, seminar or retreat - call 570-713-9550 or email by following instructions under "Submit a Topic" (right hand column).