Thursday
Jan232014

CUP OF SORROW, CUP OF JOY

Cup of Sorrow,
Cup of Joy


I'm a mess
A mixed cocktail
I want to be straight up, one form, served in a solid, heavy Baccarat high ball
The bottom-heavy, no-spill, feels-good-in-your-hand kind of glass

I'm overwhelmed with financial stress

AND

I am thankful for ramen noodles, frozen peas, my son's baseball game, Jay Leno & TV

My cup runneth over
Some days that's good, some days not
It depends on the contents of the cup

I can downsize
I can reduce my expenses
I can get a 2nd and 3rd job
I can divorce my mortgage and marry the notion of being a renter
Just how much humility do I possess?

As I lose my possessions, or what I thought I possessed on paper
I am finding out how much humility I truly possess

I'm a mess
I feel good about myself
I feel terrible about myself
AND
I'm sick and tired of thinking about myself and money

Lord, Abba, Jesus, Yahweh, Great Spirit, Higher Power, the Universe...
Will you please deliver me from myself?

Please teach me, wise Source of my Worship
To balance carrying a cup of sorrow and a cup of joy
I think if I can master that balance of emotion, those two tipping cups
I can be FREE from this mess I feel that I am

Surely, when carrying a cup of sorrow and a cup of joy
A trickle of liquid spills out
The contents of the cups are good, honest, and valuable

God, please help me carry this shaking tray with a more steady hand


p. 64-65 from Moving Past Money Pain: The Gracious Path to Overcoming Financial Distress and Loss by Dr. Jane N. Geiger

Saturday
Nov092013

THANKSGIVING LIVING - from Blush Managazine-November

ENJOY this GREAT article by Dr. Jane Geiger featured in the November GRATITUDE ISSUE:

THANKSGIVING LIVING

Thanksgiving Living . . . Living Thanksgiving:

Expressing Appreciation 365 Days a Year

During the holiday season, the invitation to express thanks and give gifts is clearly on the calendar.  Birthdays and anniversaries keep the mind on granting gratitude.  It’s not a bad plan, but we can do better; A daily dose?

Words and gifts expressed from the heart can make someone’s day.  Or, it could be a monumental misfire.  Giving TO the heart of your special person could make all the difference.  Giving thanks with some awareness may put you on target.  Learn love languages, including your own.  Become fluent. Keep talking.

While researching and conducting interviews for this concept, Thanksgiving Living, I listened to dozens of languages of love and hundreds of shades and tones to match. It’s a long list.  To shorten our trek to becoming gracious and grateful all year long, let’s begin with an inventory of past mishaps and misfires followed by a Top Ten List of winning ways:

Mishaps and Misfires

  1.  Have you ever given a gift that you actually wanted for yourself?   While this can be hilarious (my practical dad gave my hospitable mother a chainsaw for Christmas one year), it can also hurt or just fall flat.  She gave him a silver chafing dish set.  Thankfully, both parties were in on the gig.  To the four children watching, it was tense at first, then hilarious.
  2. Have you ever attempted to express gratitude for something that didn’t quite hit the mark with your friend, co-worker, beloved or family member?   You thought you nailed it.  They didn’t feel the love.  Misfire.
  3. Did you ever clean the house, clean out the car, perform an act of service and kindness for someone only to annoy or irritate them?  Did they even notice?

 Moving from Missing the Mark to Hitting the Target

  1.  What is your friend or colleague’s favorite way to receive thanks?
  2. Does your mom love gifts while your dad appreciates words?
  3. What is your favorite way to be thanked?
  4. What really makes you feel appreciated?
  5. What has worked before?
  6. What has failed?
  7. If you don’t know, or it’s unclear, ASK. :-)  (One of the most powerful things I learned when conducting the interviews for this concept is that people often avoid asking personal or intimate questions, needing courage to overcome fear).

Top 10 List of Living Thanksgiving:

  1.  Simply say, “Thank you” while expressing gratitude not only for the action but also the person.  This can be done on a Monday . . . possibly, preventing “A Monday.”
  2. Clearly communicate gratitude for the person by tapping into their love language.  If Tuesday is open, you may tap in on a Tuesday.
  3. Express “Atta girls” and “Atta boys” in front of others, encouraging the recipient of your praise by elevating them in front of their peers – noticing, then promoting. This could be “Thankful Thursday” on your calendar.
  4. Give meaningful touches to the ones closest to you, and those who don’t mind a pat on the back or a hug once in a while.  If this expression is permissible, you may want to celebrate National Hug Day on Tuesday, January 21, 2014.
  5. Commit to noticing and expressing in a timely manner.  Everyone appreciates this. Swift thanks rocks.
  6. If gifts are meaningful to those around you, consider the “fit” – great pens and sticky notes for a writer; kitchen and gourmet items for the chef or cook; a gift certificate for a dinner out for moms and dads who need a break.
  7. When quality time means the most, schedule some.  She or he will thank you for it.  Everyone’s time is valuable, and giving time is a great gift.  Be concrete – calendars, day, time, venue, menu.
  8. If the written word means the most to the object of your appreciation, take the time to write a note, a card, a novella, or draw a cartoon series.  Good luck with that.
  9. When help is what they need or want, offer to help out, pitch in, and share the load.  Single people, especially, appreciate this.
  10. If dining with others hits the mark, you may want to express thanks to your special person/people by inviting him/her/them out to dinner . . . or, in for dinner, simply setting extra plates around your table.

HAVE FUN cultivating your Thanksgiving Living efforts!  Get creative!  Think. Notice. Observe. Give thanks daily, year-round. You can get to the win/win by paying attention instead of paying for stuff.  Appreciate your mate. Give thanks – it’s free. And, remember, to ASK rather than assume . . . or, you could be the one giving the red polar ski jacket to your non-athletic anemic special person who hates snow skiing and never wears red -- never, not ever.

Dr. Jane N. Geiger, a counselor to those who may misfire, is available to help you take one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind . . . drink Tang, get your astronaut on, and rocket yourself from misfiring to hitting the mark, one step at a time.  Dr. Geiger and her staff may be reached at writerscupofgrace.com.  They would appreciate that.

Friday
Oct252013

Blessed Are the Pure In Sugar

 

Blessed Are the Pure in Sugar


Mom and Dad, I appreciate your care,
your watching over me
Your concern for my spiritual state
But, to me, it's candy

Grandma, no need to worry
It's a book and a lightning bolt
Adventure, kids trumping the grown-ups
Good story, a boy like me

All this talk of demons and dark states
is starting to startle me
I don't understand what you're talking about
I'm nine, not Einstein

I love, love, love my costume!
I'm taking my powers to the street tonight
My cape and gear with matching forehead jag
Will alert all the other boys of my unique strength -
I will know where the best candy is

An, no, I don't want to be Harry Potter any more than
I wanted to be a bunny, a turtle, or a Wookie
You didn't mind that when I was little

You taught me,
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."

On this day of pretend, dress-up, and quest for candy
Will you please find God and the good in my search?
Join me in this delightful holiday...holy to me
and the rest of third grade
This one night, blessed are the pure in sugar!




Gracious Thoughts About
"Blessed Are the Pure in Sugar"


  1. This is a true story. These are my clients. The names have been omitted to protect the zealous and the sweet.
  2. Little kids just want candy - sugar, in any form, period.
  3. Innocent kids think Harry Potter's look is just perfect for Halloween.
  4. Well-meaning parents with strong religious passions, seeking to protect their child, may introduce their young children to concepts that are too mature for a sugar-seeking kid.
  5. That's it. Halloween for young ones - it's about the quest for the best candy, big chocolate bars, the coolest costume, being with other buddies in the neighborhood, and just ONE HOLIDAY when kids get some attention and sugar in mass quantities.
  6. Until Kids' Day holds calendar space alongside Mother's Day and Father's Day, let's leave Halloween alone.
  7. I guarantee you, Jesus is not afraid of Harry Potter or J.K. Rowling.

p. 128-129 in Handling Difficult Holidays, the Gracious Path to Overcoming Painful Times by Dr. Jane N. Geiger

Tuesday
Jul302013

Thoughts on Combating Depression - by Tom Ward

As promised...some thoughts on combating depression and addiction arising from interviews, personal experience, and research.

 

Depression can be chronic, occasional, or a brand new problem. Regardless of the state or frequency, the important thing to understand is that the problems are cumulative.
  • And excessive preoccupation with one's own self, i.e., everything becomes about me. The experiences of others are viewed through the lense of how it affects me.
  • The preoccupation with self creates an inward focus resultingi n a false sense of helplessness, which evolves into hopelessness.

Facing life after either depression or addiction treatment bears a strong resemblance to living through a divorce.


One man described life after the divorce that arose from his depression.

"After my divorce, though I was still blessed with plenty of friends, my single friends were old college buddies living out of state. Married friends would invite me to events and their home for ball games, et al, but everything was different as a single person so I usually found reasons not to go."

So...suddenly..the need to recover permanentaly from depression came with the dual challenge of creating a brand new life.

Addiction is similar, in that one often has to avoid the people and places that are familiar in order to avoid falling into the addiction trap. The inability to socialize, enjoy a drink, and hang out with certain friends would be depressing for anyone. If you alread suffer from depression, it's even worse.

So how do we live above the fog of depression?

 

1. Exercise, exercise, and exercise. A supporter of Chattanooga Counseling & Mediation offered this advice: "One friend, a pulmonary doctor, insisted that I exercise every single day as the first priority above anything else. Another friend, who bikes every day, said that the outlook of someone who exercises is automatically much better and more consistent."

They were right.

If you have time, then exercise.

If you don't have the time, then make the time. It will change everything.

If exercising bores you, then there are ways to enetertain yourself while you exercise. You could begin the exercise with some quiet prayer time, and then enjoy some entertainment. Think about it, in one 2-hour period you could have a great quiet time with God, finish a book, burn a million calories, and refresh your mind and spirit. Talk about multitasking? This could quickly become your favorite time of the day.

Ways to make and keep your exercise interesting...

 

  • Download audio books onto your iPod.
  • Buy a small DVD player and strap it onto a treadmill (just like parents do for kids in the minivans).
  • Read your Kindle or iPad while walking.
  • Download a great sermond or stand-up comedy.

 

This cannot be overstated. The exercise increases the ability to handle life's uncertainties. The energy level will increase. People will become more enjoyable.

 

2. Take the focus off of yourself.

An axiom of mental health education is that depression is anger turned inward. If that is true, then treating depression would also mean treating anger, whether the depressed person realizes it or not.

So how is this done?

Glad you asked.

The first way (after exercise) to attack self-centered thinking is to force yourself to look outward.

A lady in Alabama had her first child during the 1990's. After the baby was born, the lady often complained that no one understood what it was like to be a new mother. The humorous part was that she included the child's grandmothers and her friends with children in this statement.

On the one hand, that was silly because there are billions of women alive right now who fully understand it. On the other hand, it showed how warped one's vision can become when focused on self.

Second only to exercise, the need to focus beyond self is the most important way to combat moments or episodes of depression.

Some ideas...

 

Volunteer: Make sure that you find ways to help others. These are not abstract suggestions; they are real ways to connect and build relationships. Read to the elementary school classrooms. Serve at  food kitchen. Join a civic club or a women's professional group.

IMHO, the scriptural insistence that we be "doers" of the word as well as hearers could be as much for our emotional health as for any other result.

Fellowship:

John Milton wrote that oneiness was the first thing in creation that God's eye saw and pronounced "not good." Join a Sunday School class. Also, as mentioned above, you could join a civic club. Join your college's alumni association.

Find groups meeting often enough to empower the building of relationships.

Barge in: I found a Sunday School class with approximately 100 people, and I was one of the 10 oldest people there. Only a few people spoke to me that first Sunday. I showed up every time, signed up to volunteer for almost every event they held, showed up when people needed help moving (even when I had never met the people moving), and just kept doing it until familiarity brought openness. Now, I have friends in the class and heard from many of them even while in Virginia.

 

Planned fun: Every week I calendared the mens groups, Sunday School class events, lunches with friends, time with kids, golfing with buddies, party invitations, dating, or anything else. I always kept a calendar I could review and appreciate. One important key is to look at the entire month at a time.

That can help one celebrate, and can show the blank spots in advance so they can be addressed early.

Consider this example of planning ahead: "When my first post-divorced wedding anniversary approached, I didn't know whether it would be a deeply sad occasion...given how badly I missed (and still miss) my kids. The solution? I spent the evening as "Joseph" in a live manger scene at Christmas time."

 

3. Forgive

It sounds cliche, but forgiving people will lighten whatever load any of us carry.
I'm a big believer in the 4 promises of forgivenenss by Peacemakers International.

The 4 promises of forgiveness...

  1. "I will not dwell on thi incident."
  2. "I will not bring up this incident again and use it against you."
  3. "I will not talk to others about this incident."
  4. "I will not let this incident stand between or hinder our personal relationship."

If we all forgive people and actually keep these promises, our loads will immediately lighten. Too often, we recite words of forgiveness yet still harbor the joy of holding the past against people.

 

4. Eyes off the scoreboard

The best sports analogy for dealing with this comes from Nick Saban (of course), who emphatically tells his players to ignore the scoreboard and think about nothing but the next play.

Any of us can look at life's scoreboard and dislike one thing or another. Using the Saban principle, we should ignore what we don't like about or lives on the macro level and pour ourselves into changing it today.

For example, on a typical day, if you have exercised and planned something fun (or volunteered for something), you can rejoice in your day.

The new focus will have brought immediate change. The evidence might not be visible for days or weeks, but the change will be its own immediate reward.

Tom Ward is, among many other things, the Executive Director of Grace Ministries...and the author of The Real Friend's Guide To Depression.

 

Monday
Apr082013

Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) 2013

In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day which began in the evening of Sunday, April 7 and ends in the evening of Monday, April 8.....

 

Honoring Holy Days

Thank God I don't have to get it
To honor your celebrating it

Thank God I don't have to get you
To honor you

Our varied holy symbols, rituals, rites
A prayer mat, a cross, a Passover Feast

I can honor what is holy
To you

Will you honor what is holy
To me?

That is one colorful New Year
All mystery to me, your calendar of twelves
I bow, honoring Chinese

My friends who are Vietnamiese
Are mostly of Buddhist kindness
So I study of Tibet, foreign countries, borders
Read peace words of Nobel's Dalai Lama

Your Ramadan is coming up
Your holy year's 9th month
I do not understand it at all...but,
Bless your fasting, praying,
and good deeds

In lieu of holy war
I choose holy honor

In place of complete mental grasp
Of your history and tradition
I meet you, honoring, spirit to spirit
May good meet good
As we all fast, pray, and celebrate

And, let's not forget
Our Friends, the Quakers
They were so peaceful and quiet
I almost missed them!
Amen.

p. 96-97 from Respectful Relating: the Gracious Path to Loving the People You Don't Understand by Dr. Jane N. Geiger