Friday, March 26, 2010

Family Friday

Hello everyone, again I am working on concocting some themes for the days of the week that might be of interest to those of you who are avid readers of the blog. Today's that I am trying out is "Family Friday." I will use this to give you ideas how to have a closer family, exercises to do with your family, and even addressing problems within families. If you have any other ideas, feel free to share them.

Today I am going to give you some ways to get closer as a family according to Steven R. Covey who wrote

Here are his thoughts:

1. Make Family Your Top Priority: Close families get that way because they have chosen to make family life their number one priority. "If you decide your kids come before your sales quota or bridge game, you will find that all the other pieces [of parenting] fall into place. When you put your kids first, you're getting the most value for every hour on earth," concludes writer Benjamin J. Stein

2. Spend Time With Your Kids: There is no substitute for spending time with your children. Just as friendships need time to nurture and bond, the same is true for family relationships. "Children cherish special time alone with a parent," says Nancy Samalin, director of Parent Guidance Workshops in New York City. "These memories are happy ones because they recall times when a parent was totally in the moment and solely focused on being with the child, one on one."

3. Never Neglect These Three Important Words: Close families know the healing power of forgiveness. They often say these three words: Please forgive me! or I forgive you! They know that forgiveness has the power to warm the heart while cooling the sting.

Within a family, forgiveness serves as a cleansing agent. It purges the family of anger, bitterness, hostility, animosity, grudge bearing, and lingering resentment. Thus, it is vital that parents set the family tone by extending and asking for forgiveness. Close families heed this command from the apostle Paul: "You must make allowance for each other's faults and forgive the person who offends you" (Colossians 3:13).*

In their book Teaching Your Children Values authors Linda and Richard Eyre state: "Set the example. Show that justice and mercy are your values and that you, too, are trying to learn to repent and forgive. When you make a mistake, lose your temper, fail to meet one of your responsibilities that involve a child, and so forth, make an obvious point of apologizing to the child and asking his/her forgiveness."

4. Establish and Maintain Family Rituals: Rituals are the glue of family life. Today they play an ever-increasing role as family time together becomes more difficult in our complex and hectic society. Along with the traditional major family rituals such as Christmas and Thanksgiving, establish and maintain equally important smaller rituals such as a common family meal together, birthday celebrations, Mother's Day, Father's Day, a Sunday afternoon hike, visits to the grandparents. William J. Doherty, Ph.D., professor for the marriage and family therapy program at the University of Minnesota, tells of a family ritual they started shortly after moving to Minnesota 12 years earlier.

"We fell into the habit of going out on Fridays for pizza with our two teenage children. It was a way to end the busy week by having a meal everyone liked--nothing more significant than that. But over the years these pizza outings became part of our sense of being a family, giving us time for conversation and connection," he says. It became a comfortable and highly prized family ritual.

"We went to the same restaurant, had the same kind of pizza, and performed the same roles in ordering and setting the table. When the pizza was finished and we were talked out, we went home." Dr. Doherty's children became great keepers of that new family ritual. "Our children resisted our efforts to switch restaurants or type of food, and they set the table in the same area of the restaurant each week. Now that our children are in their 20s and living away from home but in the area, they sometimes call me or their mother at work during the day and say, `Let's do pizza tonight.' We know what they are asking for, and it's much more than pizza."

5. Be Available: No matter how busy you are with your job and other responsibilities, let your children know you are always available to them. Close families operate on the understanding that members can call on each other or interrupt schedules when necessary. John E. Obedzinski, M.D., a behavioral pediatrician in Corte Madera, California, tells of being summoned from a university conference by a call from his older daughter, then about four. "We had just moved to a home in the country with a stream on the property," he explains. "Alarmed, I hurried to the phone. `The salmon are running!' Mariska told me. She wanted someone to share her excitement. Such special moments simply can't be scheduled," Dr. Obedzinski says.

6. Teach Children to Love and Feel Loved: Loving smiles, loving words, loving actions, loving thoughts, loving gestures within a family create an emotionally healthy home where all the members express and experience closeness because of that love. "Nothing is as important to a child's feelings of self-worth as the knowledge that he is unequivocally loved by the people who are important in his life," says James M. Harris, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Psychology at Brigham Young University. "Many mistakes that we might make as parents can be overcome if our children have this knowledge. Love to a child is like sunshine to a flower, like water to a thirsty plant, like honey to a bee. Your children need to know beyond any doubt that they are lovable, and that you love them."

7. Use Words Wisely: "Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing," declares the writer of Proverbs 12:18. Always try to speak in ways that affirm and assure, not attack and abuse, your children. How we speak to each other within families will either pull people together or push them apart. When you speak, choose and use your words wisely, because they have a lingering power. Consider this partial list of the "Worst Things an Adult Ever Said to a Child"--phrases compiled from an informal survey of adults in the recently published The Parent's Little Book of Lists, by Jane Bluestein:

* "You'll never amount to anything."

* "I wish I'd never had you."

* "You'll never be college material."

* "Why can't you be more like your [brother or sister]?"

* "Your mother and I wouldn't be getting divorced if it weren't for you."

8. Praise Your Kids Privately and Publicly: A word of praise is verbal sunshine to the spirit. Just as we are drawn to people who shower us with compliments and praise, children are drawn closer to parents who are generous in praising them. Along with complimenting your children privately in the home, be sure to sing their praises publicly as well. Consider the love and affirmation the children of film director Ron Howard must have felt when reading this response to a reporter who asked him to describe his ideal vacation: "I find car trips to be the greatest. Just driving down the road, talking to the kids, listening to the radio, explaining things, hearing what they have to say, talking to my wife, hitting the motel, jumping in the pool, watching a little television. I get a week of that and I come away stimulated, ready to work, full of ideas."

Surely Howard's children, upon reading his answer, would feel highly affirmed and loved to learn his "ideal vacation" is a week spent with family, talking and listening, swimming, and watching television together; that his renewal and stimulation come directly from time with family.

Ultimately, by working to cultivate closeness within your family, you effectively create a peaceful, harmonious home life where members experience love and support, as well as find refuge from the storms of life. Close families know the truth and wisdom of these words from German philosopher Johann Goethe: "He is happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home."

I hope that you gained something from reading and again, these are not my thoughts and words but those taken from Steven R. Covey! Check his books out, they are absolutely fantastic.

We have a winner!

We offically have a winner of the "Boundaries Giveaway." The winner is.....


Thanks for entering and reading and if you could send me your mailing address in a private message that would be great!

Again, you will get the Boundaries workbook that is a tool to use with Boundaries by Cloud & Townsend and you will also receive a mystery giveaway just for kicks!

Thanks again for entering and keep up on the blog for more chances to win awesome prizes and get great mental health information!

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Ok everyone, the time has come. We have talked about boundaries with family, friends, and spouses so now it is time to have a giveaway to thank you all for being such faithful readers. The giveaway is going to be....

Yes! The Boundaries workbook by Cloud & Townsend as well as a little mystery giveaway as well. I will only have one winner so you need to hurry up and get your entries in. Here is what you need to do to get the most entries possible.

1. Answer this question in the comments section: "Where have you had the most trouble having boundaries?" (with spouse, self, friends, family, etc...?)

2. Become a follower of the blog and let me know that you did or if you are already a follower just comment saying "I am already following"

3. For a third & fourth entry into the drawing, refer "Living a Full, Happy, and Healthy Life" to a friend and let me know who you referred. If they become a get two extra entries!

You have until March 25th to get your entries in so hurry on up and do it! I want you all to have a good shot of getting the workbook and a mystery giveaway! Have a lovely day everyone and keep those boundaries strong! Winner will be announced on the blog on March 26th and you will most likely get an email from me as well. At that time, if you win, I will ask you to send me your mailing address in a private email.


Good Grief?! By Nick Pridemore

I had just gotten back from Iraq. I met my son who was born while I was deployed. My wife and I were amazed at how great it felt to hold each other after months apart and were more in love than ever. Everything was perfect…mostly. All these things were truly great and I relished these moments. Life really was good. But there were some parts that didn’t seem right. There were times when I felt depressed. Sometimes I would close my eyes and all I could think of were my brothers who didn’t make it home. I felt guilty.

Then there were new issues I didn’t expect. I constantly felt nervous. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t drive down to Wal-Mart without thinking something was going to explode beside the road. One night I woke up unaware of where I was with my wife in an arm-lock because I thought she was trying to kill me. Needless to say, after that I slept even less. I was grieving and I felt so ashamed about it.

Why in the world am I sharing these very intimate details of my life? What does this have to do with a blog about grieving and spirituality? Everything. You see, as a Pastor (yes, I’m a Pastor who joined the Marine Corps infantry, that’s a whole other blog topic) I felt like something was very wrong with me. After all Christians are happy. Christians have the joy of the Lord. Being a Christian, and especially a Pastor, means you have everything together. I started thinking things like, “I’m not spiritual enough. If I were close enough to God I could just pray about this and be better. I must not have enough faith.” I was so embarrassed that I was dealing with these things that I didn’t tell anyone. Obviously my wife saw it, but that was it. I didn’t want to get counseling or talk to another Pastor. I didn’t want to talk to anyone about it because then they would know I was grieving on the inside and that would be a bad witness. I couldn’t have that.

Over time, though, I started to realize that this idea that Christians have everything together and are happy all time is a big steamy pile. The crucial question I was wrestling with was this, “Is it ok for a Christian to go through a grieving process, or should they just pray and be instantly be better?” I wanted God’s help. I wanted to be better. So I started studying what the Bible had to say about grief and suffering. I couldn’t find any passages where God was angry with the brokenhearted or the downcast. I couldn’t find any scriptures that shamed the grieving. What I did find was amazing, and beautiful, and encouraging. What I found is that the Bible is full of real people, who lived messy screwed up lives and grieved and struggled and cried. That’s not the beautiful part. The beautiful part is how concerned God is with our suffering. Instead of being offended or annoyed by it, as I had assumed, the Bible reveals an amazingly merciful God who grieves when we grieve. So, with all of that said, I would like to share some of what the Bible teaches about God’s people and grieving.

Suffering is part of being human. It’s part of living in this world that’s broken and tainted by sin. It’s unavoidable. Because it’s so common to the human condition the Bible talks about grieving quite a bit. There are some well known verses I found that were comforting. Verses like Psalm 34:18 which says God is close to the brokenhearted. And Ecclesiastes 3:1 and 3:4 says there is a proper time for everything. A time to weep and a time to laugh. However, where I found the most healing and comfort was in Jesus. I don’t mean that in a generic bumper sticker “Jesus is my co-pilot” way. I mean when I read the gospels and look at the actual life of Jesus, His words, His actions, how He interacted with people, how He showed compassion to the hurting and how even He was moved to tears at times, it gave me hope. A light bulb came on and I realized that grieving is not sin. Being sad does not mean I’m not spiritual. Suffering does not mean I have no faith. My savior, the God-man, the perfect and spotless Lamb of God had bad days. As Isaiah said, He was familiar with suffering and had many sorrows.

There are two accounts from the life of Jesus that have shed a great deal of light on this subject for me. The first one is found in John chapter 11. This is the account of Lazarus. If you’re not familiar with the story let me give you the quick version. Lazarus was a good friend of Jesus. He got sick and died. The interesting thing is that when he found out Lazarus was sick Jesus was in a town nearby and could have made it to Lazarus in time to heal him. Instead Jesus stayed in that town a few more days before going to Lazarus’ hometown. By the time He got there it was too late. As Jesus got close to His friend’s house He was met on the road by one of Lazarus’ sisters. They had a really neat conversation then she went to get her sister. Jesus stood there on the road just outside the town and watched the devastation death brings to those left behind. The next few verses are truly powerful and comforting. It says that as Jesus saw these sister mourning “He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.” Then is says “Jesus wept.”

Did you catch that? JESUS WEPT! He didn’t get misty eyed and a little downcast. He wept. Jesus sobbed. I learned a few things from this story. By doing this Jesus gives us permission to grieve for others. Jesus was so moved by seeing Lazarus’ sisters’ brokenness that He couldn’t go on without weeping. Saying “It’s ok to sympathize and grieve for others” may seem really obvious to you, but let me assure you not all Christians are aware of this. A few years ago my grandmother died and my mom had a really hard time with it. They loved spending time together, talked on the phone every day, were very close. A few weeks after the funeral my mom was at church one day, and was still clearly broken and sad. A lady, whom my mom considered a friend, came up to her and rebuked her for still grieving the loss of her mother. She told my mom she just needed to pray and have the joy of the Lord and get over it. All that accomplished was adding guilt and judgment to suffering. Too many Christians are under this same false impression that grieving is a sign of spiritual deficiency.

Jesus didn’t tell Lazarus’ sisters to just pray and get over it. He sat in the middle of a dusty road and cried with them. Amazing. Paul reiterates this idea in Romans 12:15 saying it is good to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” My father-in-law is amazing at this. He has been through a great deal of suffering and grieving in his life. He can meet someone for the first time, find out they are going through something horrible, and just sit and cry with them. When I see him sympathize with others who are suffering I think of Jesus and it is a beautiful thing.

I think the most eye-opening part of this scripture is that Jesus knew the whole time He was going bring Lazarus back to life. Jesus didn’t weep because He had lost hope. His weeping didn’t signal a loss of faith in His Father’s plan. Jesus knew everything was going to end up alright, and He wept anyway. Jesus knew God was going to use this situation for His glory and that the day would end with laughing and dancing and rejoicing, and He wept anyway. Grieving does not automatically mean someone has lost hope. It is not a white flag signaling you’ve given up. It is possible to have great faith and trust in God and still grieve. Having real and genuine faith doesn’t mean you don’t suffer or feel the pain of living in a broken world. Real and genuine faith looks to God through puffy red crying eyes and says, “In the midst of my weeping, in the midst of my suffering, when I can’t even speak through the sobbing, You are still God and You will get me through this.”

The second passage that has taught me a lot is in Luke chapter 22. This is where Jesus prays in a garden moments before Judas brings a mob to arrest and eventually kill Him. Here we get a glimpse of Jesus being vulnerable, being scared, being human. Jesus knows what the next few days hold. He knows the agony of the cross is coming soon and Jesus grieves, this time for Himself. In fact the scriptures say He was so anguished that His sweat was like drops of blood. That’s not a poetic thing. There’s an actual medical condition where someone can be so stressed that the capillaries in the foreheads burst and blood comes out in tiny droplets like sweat. Some people think going to the cross was easy for Jesus because He’s the Son of God. They haven’t read the Bible. I like that Matthews gospel includes Jesus saying, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” If you can’t make the connection I’ll help you out. That’s ancient verbiage for “I’m scared to death!” In short Jesus grieves for Himself. Jesus is real about His own suffering. He doesn’t sluff if off with cheesy patronizing sayings like, “Well, God’s got a plan” or “I guess I just gotta have faith.” Jesus is too real and not nearly annoying enough for that. Yes, faith is of the utmost importance and God does in fact have a plan in all things. But it’s ok to look at your situation and be real about. This sucks. This isn’t fun. I hate this right now. I’m scared. I’m sad. I’m…whatever, you fill in the blank.

Let me pull all of this together really quickly. Many are under the impression that grieving is somehow unspiritual and reveals a lack of faith. However, you cannot read the Bible and conclude that is truly God’s view. Grieving is part of what it is to be human in this fallen world. Having faith doesn’t mean we no longer grieve. It means, as Paul told the Thessalonians, we don’t grieve like those who have no hope. In other words we can grieve and hurt and be honest about it and still have great faith in God.

Thank you for letting me share some thoughts with you. I focused this blog on answering the question “Is it ok for Christians to grieve?” My prayer is that this is helpful to someone. If you are suffering and for some reason feel guilty about it, don’t. Once I started coming to grips with the fact that my grieving wasn’t a sign of spiritual weakness I was able to talk about it with trusted friends and family, and then the healing really started.

Introducing Our Resident Spirituality Expert!

Hello everyone! It is time to introduce our first guest blogger. This one was one I picked because I felt that it is sometimes difficult to incorporate our mental and spiritual health. I knew the perfect person to help me do that so with no further build of my best friends, an amazing father, husband, pastor, United States Marine and overall fantastic person, Mr. Nick Pridemore. (I know, I said no further build up but I love the guy)

Here is Nick's overall story/credentials so you can get an idea where he is coming from. I should also note that Nick led this blog owner (that's me) to the Lord when I was 15. I am honored to have him write for my humble little blog.

Nick Graduated from Central Bible College in 2002 with a BA in Bible and Theology. From there he went to Fremont, Ohio where he was the Youth and Associate Pastor from 2002-2003. During that time, he felt God drawing him back to a childhood dream of being a Marine. He had buried those hopes when he felt God calling him to be pastor. After several confirmations, he enlisted in November of 2003 and left for boot camp in February of 2004. He enlisted in the 0300 field, which translates to infantry in civilian language. He did well through boot camp and the Marine Corps School of Infantry (SOI) where he trained as a standard infantryman, 0311. Towards the end of SOI he was selected for a specialty infantry group called Light Armored Reconnaissance (LAR) 0313.

He finished the schooling for LAR as the honor graduate with the top GPA in his class and was attached to 2nd LAR Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He was deployed to Iraq twice with this Battalion. His first deployment was from March to September of 2005. During this deployment, he was the driver on a Light Armored Vehicle (LAV), but dismounted to take part in building clearing and foot patrols. Nick took part in over 300 combat missions. Also during this deployment his vehicle was directly hit in 4 different explosions; 2 IED’s and 2 landmines. (I don't know about you guys, but I feel grateful that he is here to teach us something!)

Between his first and second deployment, Nick received a meritorious promotion to Corporal and moved up to the gunner position in the LAV. He spent 2 weeks as a gunner and was moved up again to Vehicle Commander. During this time, he also finished the requisite interviews and exams and became a licensed minister with the Assemblies of God. His battery trained for about a year and deployed again to Al Anbar from September of 2006 to April of 2007. This deployment saw less IED’s, but more firefights and sniper activity. While in Iraq, Nick received a second meritorious promotion to Sergeant. Combining the numbers from both deployments Nick's platoon was involved in 12 IED attacks, 15 mortar attacks, 7 combined mortar and rocket attacks, and countless firefights and sniper attacks.

Nick also held Bible studies for Marines between patrols and was blessed to see over 30 Marines come to know Jesus in Iraq. He continued these Bible studies for Marines between deployments and during his last few months before he ended active duty. Nick still keeps in touch with several of them who are still serving Jesus and learning to live a God-pleasing life. Nick has baptized and conducted weddings for Marines as well. In the absence of the Battalion Chaplain, his Company Commander saw fit to name Nick the Company Chaplain.

After Nick's second deployment he spent his last 8 months in the Corps training his Battalion on a new sighting system for their vehicle’s main gun, and was honorably discharged from active duty on February 16, 2008. Nick returned to his "Home", Indiana where he was received on staff at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship where he currently serves as the College Pastor to Indiana University, and as the church’s Youth Pastor as well.

Nick has been married for going on 11 years this September to his gorgeous wife Merry and is the father to Calvin Michael Pridemore, age 4, Adison Elizabeth Pridemore, age 2, and mystery baby Pridemore due in October of 2010! He certainly has his hands full so I am very grateful that he is taking the time to write for me and help with some of the mental health/spirituality quandries.

Thanks to Nick and to all of you readers, enjoy his upcoming blogs!