Archive for July, 2013

pararescue impFamous author and inspirational leader John Eldredge takes a minute to talk to the nature of a man’s heart. John often writes demonstrating the overlooked masculine side of Christ that men so fondly resonate with. While Eldredge is famous for his book Wild at Heart, this excerpt is taken from another one of his books “Waking the Dead.” John asks a very important question and the expectation of where someone might think of where they should be in life. Where is yours, do you quest to fulfill unmet expectations or are you sleepwalking through life?-BM

From Waking the Dead

John Spillane is a para-rescue jumper sent into the North Atlantic, into the worst storm of the twentieth century, the perfect storm, as the book and film called it, to rescue a fisherman lost at sea. When his helicopter goes down, he is forced to jump into pitch blackness from an unknown height, and when he hits the water, he’s going so fast it’s like hitting the pavement from eighty feet above. He is dazed and confused—just as we are when it comes to the story of our lives. It’s the perfect analogy. We have no idea who we really are, why we’re here, what’s happened to us, or why. Honestly, most days we are alert and oriented times zero. Dazed. Sleepwalking through life.

Has God abandoned us? Did we not pray enough? Is this just something we accept as “part of life,” suck it up, even though it breaks our hearts? After a while, the accumulation of event after event that we do not like and do not understand erodes our confidence that we are part of something grand and good, and reduces us to a survivalist mind-set. I know, I know—we’ve been told that we matter to God. And part of us partly believes it. But life has a way of chipping away at that conviction, undermining our settled belief that he means us well. I mean, if that’s true, then why didn’t he _______? Fill in the blank. Heal your mom. Save your marriage. Get you married. Help you out more.

Either (a) we’re blowing it, or (b) God is holding out on us. Or some combination of both, which is where most people land. Think about it. Isn’t this where you land, with all the things that haven’t gone the way you’d hoped and wanted?

An excerpt from

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decisional balance

“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.” ― Steve Maraboli

Deciding to take that first step to call a mental health professional to discuss personal problems can be an intimidating experience. It is normal to feel anxious or afraid when a person begins the process of opening up to discuss their issues especially if the pain has been stuffed or packed away for years. So, if going to therapy is about healing then what makes it so difficult? What causes people to avoid it? Why is it so hard to sort out problems and getting to the bottom of depression, relieving anxiety, or finally grieving the loss of something or someone held dearly? Or, perhaps what is going to take to finally kick that addiction habit that has become a routine part of life?

Often the answer to these questions are multifaceted for many reasons. A famous quote attributed to many famous people goes something like this, “people will only seek changing their situation in life when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than going through the pain of changing it.” Like this quote suggests, when does enough become enough? Emotions are strong and powerful motivators and often people seek counseling when they can no longer tolerate the pain. Emotions are there for a good reason, they say something about what a person is experiencing. Too often people become familiar with their pain, they don’t want to deal with it and results in a dysfunctional comfort zone or a type of distorted truth .

There is only so much emotional stuffing and distorting thinking the mind can hold. It has limitations. Like our dear old psychology friend Sigmund Freud once said “our bodies betray our minds.” In other words, the psychological suffering manifests itself somewhere else in the body. The worry wears holes in the stomach, leads to loss of sleep, stress creates body aches, anxiety can increase heart rate, blood pressure and sweating and in severe cases it can manifest into a panic attack.

A metaphoric way of looking at this is like that drawer at home that has been stuffed so full of junk it comes off the tracks because it won’t open. The drawer is opened and another miscellaneous object is tossed in there never to be seen or thought about again. Out of sight out of mind, right? But it is still there. Over time the junk drawer gets to be too much, it’s overwhelming, it needs to get cleaned out, organized and put back together. Following this is a sense of accomplishment , feeling better about the situation and it becomes more easily managed and maintained.

Where to Begin?

Recognizing that there is unwanted or unmerited pain in life is the first step. While this is good awareness, how does it lead to healing? Therapy now becomes a question of motivation and it might begin to get a little personal. A common reason for the uneasiness has to do with not wanting to roll out of the dysfunctional comfort zone and start breaking it all down. In assessing motivation this is referred to as being either ambivalent or contemplative. It is not action yet. The language of being ambivalent or contemplative says, “I don’t have/or want a problem, I’m okay right where I am” and all the while the person knows deep down inside the problem is there and unsure whether to take action.

A useful tool to help muster up the courage to go to counseling is something called a decisional balance. This process looks at, and weighs the balance of the benefits versus costs of counseling, and the benefits and costs of not going to counseling. For example:

Counseling Benefits:

  • Increased control over life
  • Better marriage/relationships
  • Better work performance
  • Improved health

Counseling Costs:

  • Experiencing emotional pain
  • Increased anxiety
  • Financial commitment

Not Counseling Benefits:

  • Don’t have to deal with problems
  • Easier to keep stuffing emotions
  • Don’t have to think about it

Not Counseling Costs:

  • Job loss
  • Relationship/Marriage loss
  • Increased health risk

These are only examples of how to measure and weight out the decision of whether or not counseling is needed. What side is the balance tipping toward, going or not going? In the long run, seeking out therapy is often a question of motivation. If still contemplating therapy ask and evaluate the answers to these very simple questions; what would be achieved as a result of going, what is the worst that could happen, what is the best that could happen?

Hebrews 12:11 New International Version (NIV) No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

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teen drug use

A nightmare scenario for a parent can be the day they discover their teenager is using drugs. Upon this discovery the parent will often question themselves as to how this happened and may even begin to question their parenting skills. One of the best things a parent can do is to equip themselves with knowledge of what teen drug use looks like.

If a teen is caught using drugs know that there are several factors involved with them using. Teenage years are often a place of exploration, hormonal changes and what psychologist Erik Erikson in his psychosocial stages of development is identity versus role confusion. They are trying to figure out the world, who they are and their place in it. Drug use is often best resolved if it is treated like an open wound. Find out what they are medicating. What kind of life situational issues are they trying to resolve through the use of drugs? Sometimes it is simply a choice. Like any adult who suffers from addiction or dependency they often like the way it makes them feel or they may believe it gives them a favorable impression among peers.

Teens are often prone to sarcasm and negativity when being questioned or confronted on their behavior. This behavior is an attempt to protect what they are doing or to control their environment. It is usually associated with not wanting to give up what feels good to them like drugs. Sometimes it can be hard for a parent to refrain from taking discipline to an extreme. It takes a little forethought to know that as a parent it is okay to respond to the teen without giving up ground. When dealing with drug problems resistance is common. This isn’t about getting into a power struggle; this is about getting to the root of the problem.

Below are some warning signs a parent can look out for if they suspect their teen might be using drugs. This list serves as a guideline that can warrant further investigation of the teen’s behavior.

Signs of Teen Drug Use

  • Sudden change of friends. Questionable character and integrity of new friends. Contacting parents of new friends is always helpful.
  • School grades dropping off or failing.
  • Isolation or avoidance of family
  • Keeps doors locked and being very secretive
  • Lack of motivation, wants to sleep all the time, lethargy
  • Quick temper where there wasn’t one before
  • Unexplained nervousness, paranoid ideation
  • Changes hair color. Black or dark dyes are a common choice. Hair dyes throw off home drug tests that use hair samples.
  • Poor or avoidant eye contact, glassy eyes, dilated pupils, red and squinted appearance
  • Slurred or slow speech, delayed motor movements
  • Smell of substances, smoke or weird perfumes or incense smells in hair, auto or clothing
  • Unusual marks on arms, legs or other body parts referred to as needle tracks or pin sticks

Common Hiding Places

  • Electrical outlets, air vents, musical instruments & amps, hollowed out tampons
  • Buried in clothing in backs of drawers, socks etc., taped to backs of drawers
  • Under corners of carpets, mattresses, look for holes that have been cut out
  • Under the parents nose i.e. the master bedroom or other common areas such as kitchen
  • Pens or other writing instruments, lipstick/gloss, behind wall posters/pictures
  • Pet bedding, under the back of toilet tanks, game consoles, stuffed in candy/gum
  • False bottom containers that have screw bottoms that look like soda or hairspray/hairbrush
  • Anywhere in their car including under the hood. Anywhere in the garage.

This list can seem extensive and it is just the beginning. Watch the teen’s behavior where they frequent in the house and be vigilant for certain patterns such as suddenly going in and out of the house through the garage, back door etc. The bottom line is drugs can be hidden anywhere and exhausting to look for. On top of this a teenagers room can be a catastrophic mess and trying to comb through everything may seem almost impossible. However, it doesn’t take much to go into a teen’s room and start cleaning up a few things and at the same time make a few checks around the room.

Almost all teens are protective guardians of their rooms and may get defensive when the parent walks in, especially with a cleaning motive. Teen’s often feel that their room is their only safe place in the house and the only area they can claim some real estate. A protective teen doesn’t necessarily indicate drug use. Finding drugs in a stash after suspected behavior is what indicates drug use. In other words, get the evidence that the teen is using drugs before calling them out on it.

More about Brian M. Murray



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