Archive for the ‘emotional health’ Category

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The voice on the telephone line was obviously stressed.

“I’m sorry but we are going to have to cancel our reservation this weekend at David’s Refuge.”

After a painful few moments of silence the tears began to flow.  Rory just listened as the woman poured out the brokenness of their marriage.  She then said,

“I wished we would have come six months ago.”

It sounded as if it were over.  No hope.  Too late.  “If only we would have…..”

gaugeTheir gas tank was dry.  After caring for their children, after holding down jobs, after running from one doctor to the next, after one more fight, after wrestling with the fear of the future and the unknown, their relationship sputtered and stalled.  Intimacy was a fading memory.  Laughter a rare intruder.  Communication dissolved into short staccato burst of who will pick up the dry cleaning or buy bread at the store.

Sadly many couples simply give up when they get to this point.  Many divorce.  Some live as roommates.   Others rip each other apart, only deepening the open wounds they already have from living in a broken world.  Hope is lost.

Yet is hope really lost?  I don’t think it is or has to be.  Let me ask you a question.  If a friend told you they ran out of gas on the highway and decided to abandon their car for good what would you say to them?   You would tell them they are crazy.  Yes, it may have to be towed, yes they may have to do a little maintenance to get it started, but all it really needed was a gallon of gas.  I wonder how many marriages have ended when all they needed was a gallon of gas?

The woman who had to cancel knew six months ago their marriage needed help.  The gauge on their relational dashboard was dangerously low.  But like many of us she ignored the warning signs, thinking they could keep going without checking the oil and filling their gas tank.  Excuses were made, time not made, and lies believed.

As you look at the gauges on your relational dashboard what are they telling you?  Is it time for a tune up?  Are you running on fumes and simply need to pause long enough to fill your tank?  Don’t ignore the signs or that clunking sound.  Be proactive!  Don’t wait until you have to say, “I wished we would have come six months ago.”  Care for yourselves and for each other.  Ask for help.  All you may need is a gallon of gas.

PS:  The woman who called went to get some counseling with her husband, took some time to refill their gas tanks, and have signed up again to come to David’s Refuge.  🙂


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should have

My good friend and pastor Doug Bullock once said, “You gotta kick the “shouldof” out of should have!”  Living under the burden of “should have” sucks the life from you.  I should have shopped earlier.  I should have invited my neighbors over for a Christmas party.  I should have baked cookies.  I should have sent Christmas cards.  I should have started wrapping presents earlier.   The “shouldof” list grabs a hold of your heart and it squeezes until it it hard to breath.

Have you discovered that the should have list grows exponentially every day it gets closer to Christmas.  Sadly the longer your “shouldof” list is the more you feel depressed, overwhelmed, and robbed of joy.  The only solution I know to resolve this horrible burden is to Kick the “shouldof” out of Should Have!  Who says you have to bake cookies?  Buy them!  Who says you need to wrap your presents?  Put them in a bag and stuff tissue paper on top of them!  Who says you have to send Christmas cards?  They are only going to be thrown into a basket and then then tossed into the recycle bin!   To often we create or build these unrealistic goals and expectations that are impossible to accomplish.  No wonder you go to bed exhausted and overwhelmed.  As a parent of a special needs child you plate is already overflowing.

Maybe this year you can evaluate the traditions that are creating stress in your life.  This may be the year to let go of the unrealistic goal of perfection and to make plans for traditions that are both realistic and enjoyable. Follow the KISS princile: “Keep it Simple Silly”.

What’s on your “shouldof” list?  Be bold and share it.  Maybe we can help you find some creative ways to kick the “shouldof” out of your should have list and allow you to de-stress this holiday season!

Merry Christmas


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David’s Smile

The healing benefits and power of laughter is not a new idea.  Almost 3,000 years ago Solomon, the King of Israel, wrote the following words in the book of Proverbs:

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.  Proverbs 17:22

A good laugh, a joke, a little humor is like medicine.  It heals, refreshes, and restores us.  Without it we dry up.  Our spirits are crushed.  We lose hope.

I like this quote from an unknown author, found in an editorial in the New York Tribune:

A good, real, unrestrained, hearty laugh is a sort of glorified internal massage performed rapidly and automatically.  It manipulates and revitalizes corners and unexplored crannies of the system that are unresponsive to most other exercise methods.

I don’t know about you but I could use a little massaging of those unexplored, tired crannies of my soul.  The question is, how do you find joy or laughter when the corners of your life are bone dry and about to crumble?  What do you do do when there doesn’t seem anything to laugh at?

In my last blog I encouraged you to learn how to laugh at yourself.  Today I want to make two more suggestions.

1) Prime the laughter well

When I was growing up our well would sometimes go dry.  In order to get the water flowing again my dad would have to prime the pump.  Laughter is the same way.  One great way to do that is to play games together.  Turn your phones off, shut the TV off, close your computer down, stop sending tweets, don’t check your Facebook or count how many people have read your blog, and pull out a game and play it.

Laughter and play are closely related.  Play brings you together.  It develops community and a shared experience.  When we play together we create the possibility of a mini vacation where we can escape the to do list and just be silly for a few minutes. Here are two great games that are great well primers.

quelfQuelf: One of the most stupid games I have ever played but absolutely hilarious


Apples to Apples: A great game any age can play togetherapplestoapples


2) Share something funny with someone else.

May father used to say that cutting and chopping wood warms you twice.  Once when you are cutting and splitting it, and again when you burn it.  Laughter is the same way.  When you are willing to share a silly story about yourself or something that happened to you, you laugh twice.  Once when it happens, and then when you share it.  In fact I find the more I share my stories the more I laugh.  There are stories my kids ask me to share over and over again.  And no matter how many times I share them we laugh as if it were the first time.

One of our favorites is about David finding himself in the house of someone he didn’t know.  David was at a Young Life event and the leaders called to tell us they would bring David home.  After pulling into the driveway they helped David out of the car and into the house.  Once they got him in the door they said goodbye and started driving down the road.  About ten houses down the passenger in the car said, “Oh crap, that’s David’s house!”  I’m not so sure if I spelled crap right.  They went back to the house and found David still standing in the doorway, not moving.  I’m not sure if it was the pit bull growling at him or simply the fact he knew he wasn’t in the right house.  We didn’t hear this story until David’s’ funeral.

So what is something funny you could share with all of us?  Help us to massage and revitalize the corners and unexplored crannies of our souls, and in so doing get a massage yourself.

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Pholf29One night I returned home from a late meeting to discover that something or someone was in my basement.  Brenda wanted to call 911 but I thought the baseball bat under my bed was sufficient to deal with the situation.  As I got to the bottom of the stairs we heard a loud banging sound followed by a scream.  Brenda immediately called 911 and I put on my pants just in case something happened to me.  I wouldn’t want my body to be traced with white chalk in my boxers!  Funny the things you think of when you think you have a crazy person in your basement.

The police were at our home within minutes.  As the officer entered our home we heard the pounding sound and the scream again.  As he reached for his gun he asked, “What was that?”  I said, “I don’t know but that is why you are here.”  After a few minutes of orienting him to the layout of our home he said, we need to go check it out!”  I said, “WE?”  I pointed him to the stairs that led to the basement and we opened the door.

The moment we opened the door, the pounding sound and scream happened again and I knew immediately what it was.  It was a screen saver of Barney poking his head up as a chicken throws an egg at him making a pounding sound followed by Barney screaming!  The kids had been playing on the computer in the basement, had turned the volume all the way up, and then gone to bed.  I walked into the house the moment the screen saver turned on.  I tried to tell the officer he didn’t have to go downstairs but he had to see what it was.  After he left I peeked out our window only to find him on the ground laughing with another officer.  Every time I tell the story I laugh.  Every time I tell the story people laugh at me.

I have discovered that every time I laugh I feel better.  There is something cleansing about a belly laugh or even just a chuckle.  Studies actually show that laughter is a healing activity.  It strengthens your immune system, it increases a sense of happiness, it lessens depression, it actually lessens pain, and it boosts your energy.  Every time you laugh your body releases endorphins which create a feeling of well being.  And best of all it doesn’t cost you a thing.   It is a free legal high.  Laughter is just plain good for you.   Sometimes when I am feeling a little down I go to YouTube and type in “Just for Laughs.”  I will watch one or two episodes and I will feel physically and emotionally better.  Try it!

Just being around someone who is laughing makes you feel better.  Do me a favor and click on the following link of a child laughing.  Watch the clip and see if you can stop yourself from laughing.  When you’re done watching the clip stop and think about how you are feeling.  Do you feel different than before you watched the clip?  What is different?  Do you think you need to find more ways to add laughter back to your life?

Did you know that on average, children laugh 400 times a day, while adults laugh about 15 times?  What can we do to lessen the gap?  Today I will share one idea and then share a couple more then next time I write.

Be willing to laugh at yourself!  Lighten up, don’t be so serious.  Even in the more challenging parts of our journey there is something we can laugh at, and normally it’s ourselves!

One day we were visiting my brother and sister in law and David had to go to the bathroom.  David was blind so he didn’t notice that someone was in the bathroom and barged in.  He immediately turned around but came back and said, “Well that was embarrassing, but I guess there are advantages to being blind” and left.  As he did he chuckled to himself and we still chuckle about it today.
If I were a doctor and could prescribe you some medicine it would be: Find something to laugh about yourself and laugh out loud!  Please do this three times a day or as often as is needed to start feeling better.  That’s a doctors order!

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