“Can You Say It Again?”

Have you ever met someone who you thought was incredibly confident and had it all together and wondered, what is their secret? How can they be so sure of themselves?

I recently met a person who was just that. So when I heard her reply to a compliment with great appreciation saying, “did you just compliment me? Oh, thank you! Can you say it again?” I was surprised to hear she rarely received compliments. At the same time, her reply made me admire her even more.

I am not sure if every woman feels the same way as me. However, I know many women who I thought had it all together and then I feel found out that the inner critic gets to the best of them too.

In Joyce Landorf Heatherley’s book Balcony People, she describes people who lift others up as Balcony People and those who take others down as basement people.  She talks about how we even start taking the people closest to us for granted and forget to share all the things we appreciate about them.  We tend to look more at what we don’t have than do.  She also shares how those who give compliments or encourage others are typically healthier happier people themselves.  The best way to help ourselves is to help someone else.

Joyce’s book was a reminder to me of how much I have appreciated all the balcony people in my life.  People who believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.  Or the times that compliment balanced out a critic I received that I was struggling to overcome. She reminded me that I was not alone.  That we all need balcony people.

The next time you meet a person, particularly a woman who you think has it all together, remember we are all human. Rather than trying to tear them apart to make your own self feel better, compliment them. Admit how they shine and inspire you!  When you choose to lift others up, their response of appreciation may lift you up too!


If you live in the Dayton, Ohio area, schedule free counseling by email: counseling@southbrook.org

To share inspiring stories or be referred to a Professional Counselor email: everythingforthesoul@gmail.com

The Growth Institute Courses

Women Overcome Anger of Childhood Sexual Abuse

A young woman who I will call Jessie came into pastoral counseling to talk about her anger. She felt so much of it, it was hurting many areas of her life.

Being trained to dig for the hurt when anger issues are apparent, together we unveiled where she would need healing.

She had been molested as a young girl by a family member and had not been able to trust those closest to her to help protect her. She shared how when she shared what was happening to her with a family member she was beaten and told not to speak of it. She was deeply hurt and therefore carried deep hatred for her perpetrators.

She had not spoken of it again since telling me. By keeping this torment inside without understanding how to address it, it became dangerously explosive.

She needed to share her pain with someone compassionate who could help her work through her feelings and try to forgive. The forgiveness would not help her perpetrators. Its sole purpose was to set herself free from letting that horrible childhood experience ruin the joy life could bring her in adulthood.

She was asked to write out a letter to all those to blame for her anger. Then tear the letters up and search for possibilities of those people having their own issues that caused them to act in such unimaginable ways. We talked about how if she could look at their acts as their unresolved issues from their own childhood or merely feel bad for them for living in such a dark place that maybe it would help her move on.  While trying to forgive them seemed impossible, just talking with someone who showed compassion, gave her some relief.  With continued visits, hope through her awareness of her cause for her anger began to surface.

She was then guided to a professional therapist to help with her ongoing counseling so she would have the ability to live a more joy-filled life.

While I do not know Jesse’s end story, I know many other women like her who suffered from childhood sexual abuse and/rape. After professional counseling, they are in many cases helping other people who’ve had similar experiences.  By doing so, they’ve been able to find their own joy.

If you are someone who suffers due to similar issues, please seek help. There is hope.

For other inspiring stories of how everyday people overcome their struggles, please click: Inspiring Stories of Everyday People

Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Crisis text: 741741

If you live in the Dayton, Ohio area, schedule free counseling by email: counseling@southbrook.org

To share inspiring stories or be referred to a Professional Counselor email: everythingforthesoul@gmail.com

Photo taken at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Franciso, CA

A Way Out of the Cave

Sadness is like a dark cloud fogging over your brain with despair making you want to curl up in a ball and lie in your bed forever. If no change to the mind happened, people would stay in their dark cave forever.

Depression keeps away hope. In its darkness, light is hard to grasp. Negative thoughts stand in the way from the truth preventing the steps to a better frame of mind to be seen.

Anxiety begins with depression’s lies. Then thinking spirals into a panic not allowing for reasoning.

Who is to stop such madness but the trained mind of the person who practices climbing out of the cave knowing all too well the habitual ways of the one who prevents himself from taking the first action. Yet for that person in the cave, they sometimes have a hard time seeing the first step.

Once I sat in a dark cave.  The tour guide then lit one match.  It was amazing to everyone how much one little match lit up the whole cave.

If you find yourself or know someone in a dark cave of depression,  focus on the first action of lighting a match. The magic is in learning how to see the light. For the quicker you can ignite a flame, the more you can see all you need to see which is the first step out of the despair.

Once you see the first step, your brain begins to see a path for hope. The momentum of taking the first step motivates you to keep climbing.  If you know someone suffering from depression, or do so yourself, learn to question the current thinking.  What is it that is causing the depression?  What lies are being told?  Are those lies really true?  What can they be thankful for?

If they can name even one thing that they can be grateful for, the mind reframes.  It becomes the match giving them a different perspective of their life and their abilities. It makes them see all the times where they demonstrated strength and where those lies were not true.

Help those who cannot see the light.  Guide them to the first step.  A glimpse of hope and optimism goes a long way.  It will guide you out of a cave.

Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Crisis text: 741741

If you live in the Dayton, Ohio area, schedule free counseling by email: counseling@southbrook.org

To share inspiring stories or be referred to a Professional Counselor email: everythingforthesoul@gmail.com

The photograph was taken in Ireland.

Find Your Wings and Fly Little Bird

Find your wings and fly little bird. See what for most is impossible.

Be intentional about your life.

Feel the wind in your wings.

Hear the lullabies of the crickets at night.

See what most don’t see in the details of nature right in front of you like the mysterious needles on an evergreen that keep their color all year long.

SING! Touch hundreds of other lives with your song.

Explore the heavenly earth.

Admire who you become through your adventures and recognize your strengths.  Yet work to understand other creations knowing their instincts may be different than yours.

Be wary of the lurking hawks. When your wings need rest or your vision doesn’t allow you to see the light, return to your nest. Yet don’t let fear keep you from soaring to new heights. There are new days ahead.  You are important to others in your flock.

Look at how far you’ve come from being just a little egg. See the miracles of your life so far. Keep following your instincts and the best of what your devoted parents taught you when they sacrificed their life for your care.

When you are mended, stretch your wings once more and keep flying little bird.  Find your wings and keep flying.

For podcast:


What is Your Story?

Are you primarily a listener or a talker? How often do you tell your story?

As number nine of ten kids, I have done lots of listening. My favorite part of the day when I was little was sitting around the dinner table and hearing all my families stories. My parents say I would be quiet most of the time. They would think I wasn’t really aware of what was being said and then I would say something profound showing I was paying attention to everything.

Many times in my life I have found myself doing much more listening than talking. It was something my family grew to expect of me. As I got older at times it would be harder to chime in and actually get my voice heard. There would be times in such a big family some of us would feel invisible. Sometimes it can get frustrating to get a chance to talk in a big group of people who like to talk.

However, I have come to realize I enjoy hearing other people’s stories even more than my own. I also have realized what I miss about every job I’ve had is hearing colleagues stories. Getting to laugh together, vent together, and cry together.

Since most people move on to new careers we can’t go back in time. What we can do is appreciate the stories of today and the stories of all the future people we are yet to meet.

In a section of this website, I ask people who have inspiring stories to share theirs with me. For those people who have been able to move from a victim mentality to a position of hope and strength, I have asked them if I could share their story in order to inspire others.

What is your story?  If you were recently thrown a curveball in life and are fighting battles now you did not expect, may the idea of knowing other people want to be there for you and inspire hope within you help you find your inner strength. Keep taking baby steps while walking through your pain. Don’t stay stuck. Find counseling.

If for some reason counseling is not an option for you, write to me at everythingforthesoul@gmail.com.  In your story, write all of the goals of how you want to feel. What do you want out of life? What don’t you want? Share which of the below daily activities you have done (each underlined pink link below is clickable):

I may not have all your answers. However, it is the writing alone and sharing your story with someone interested that may be the very therapy you need.

Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Crisis text: 741741

If you live in the Dayton, Ohio area, schedule free counseling by email: counseling@southbrook.org

To share inspiring stories or be referred to a Professional Counselor email: everythingforthesoul@gmail.com

Make it Safe to Discover Real Issues

“One of the best ways to persuade others is with our ears-by listening to them.” -Dean Rusk

How many times have you been running a meeting at work or talking with your child and have asked for feedback and only received silence in return? When someone does speak up and you don’t want to hear what is shared, how have you reacted? How safe do you make it for your people or kids to respond?  When you have asked for feedback have you shut them down?

As a parent, when your child trusts that you will hear them and shares what is really going on in their life, isn’t it easier to guide them and coach them to make the best decisions for them?

When starting on a new team in my past I was given the advice, “you will do fine with this manager as long as you don’t challenge her/him.”  If that is the motto, how is the organization to grow if new ideas and alternative views and ways of doing things aren’t being shared?  How will there ever be innovation?  It benefits a leader to understand the real issues on the front line so it can prepare the company for the future battlefield.

If you are like most people, when we believe in something with passion, it is hard to keep an open mind.  In the book New York Times Best Seller “Crucial Conversations Tools for talking when stakes are high”, the Authors say, “when you have a tough message to share or when you are convinced of your own rightness that you may push too hard.”  They teach to STATE your path:

• Share your facts. Start with the least controversial, most persuasive elements from the Path to Action.

• Tell your story. Explain what you’re beginning to conclude.

• Ask for others’ paths. Encourage others to share both their facts and their stories.

• Talk tentatively. State your story as a story – don’t disguise it as a fact.

• Encourage testing. Make it safe for others to express differing or even opposing views.”

The authors advise to catch yourself when you get emotionally charged in order to get others to share their own beliefs, buy into yours and prevent others from becoming defensive.  “Back off your harsh and conclusive language, not your belief.  Hold to your belief; merely soften your approach.” Authors: Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler

If you struggle in this area, I highly recommend putting “Crucial Conversations” on your reading list!

Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Crisis text: 741741

If you live in the Dayton, Ohio area, schedule free counseling by email: counseling@southbrook.org

To share inspiring stories or be referred to a Professional Counselor email: everythingforthesoul@gmail.com

Fighting Fear

Kenyan Proverb: “He who fears the sun will not become chief.”

“If you want to win in life you must be willing to combat the fear; overcome the obstacle, and go on to become the chief you’re destined to be! What you’re after is waiting for you on the other side of fear!

The fear can get you. It can make you frozen and want to hide. Many of you may have spent many years as a child terrified. You may have had rituals where you looked under your bed before being able to sleep. You may have used your blankets to cover up your head over your ears at night to feel you were hidden from what could get you in the night.

Kids today go through mass shooter drills monthly that instill fear of the unimaginable. My generation grew up with fears of aliens and the Cold War. Stories of the Russians possibly bombing us and all the fears put in my head, made me lie frozen many nights as a child feeling terrified.

Sadly, some of you have experienced real nightmares of abuse or fear in your own home as a child. When talking about fear with a friend recently she had shared she had similar fears as a kid. She had not felt that intensity of fear for a long time until one night recently alone in a hotel room. She woke up after having a nightmare trembling.

She said she was reminded that the last time she felt that same fear was as a child and when she was a victim.  She even blocked out the perpetrator’s name from her memory. Yet she had survived and overcome her fear then. She had found power in something outside of herself to make it through and caused her to fight through it.

As an adult, she wanted to avoid the overwhelming feeling of fear so much she couldn’t watch scary movies and she couldn’t let her mind go to anything of worry. All she did was worry as a child, terrified of everything. She didn’t want to feel that way ever again she told me.

She went on to say normally she was able to grab a hold of her husband to reclaim her security. However, that night she was alone and had to find her own power to overcome that fear. She shared with me how she worked to gain control of her mind through writing. Getting it on paper made it real. It made her deal with the reality of all of it and make sense of all the voices in her head.

She shared how she regained control of the fear by asking for help outside of herself. The only thing that made her feel safe was praying to God. Praying to not let the fear take over her mind. Praying to heal from those childhood fears, her past and her nightmares.

She told herself and pleaded to God. “I am safe. Please, God, help me stay secure. Don’t let myself revert to being so scared again.” 

She then let herself go into the cause of the fear and fight back. She became angry at all those who caused her fear as a kid and as an adult. She wanted to scream at her perpetrators, “I hate the demons inside you!” ” I hate what you did!” Yet, she knew her perpetrators prayed to God for his savior and wanted to be healed too. So the anger did not last.

As a parent, after living in fear for so many years, she had tried to protect her children from evil and suffering. Yet she realized it was out of her control and recognized how she also needed to grow in her faith with God, she told me. She knew she had to let go of her worries. She began to reflect on all the times she had been scared and how she overcame her fears. It out made her realize how much she had been through as a kid and that maybe she shouldn’t be so hard on herself. Maybe she was strong after all. Others facing worse realities were able to keep their peace by giving their worries to God and they had inspired her. She used their wisdom and took a deep breath after writing the words of her story. Then she went into meditation and prayer to find her power to heal and have peace.

She continued praying, “God, I know you are there. I know you are there because you have shown me a path before. Help stop the suffering in the world. Help the world experience the joy of life and love each other so the world becomes a safer place.” That prayer helped her find her strength. She said she was able to overcome her fear and find peace to go back to sleep.

If you have fears stemmed from past experiences, or negative news, share the stories of your fears with someone who will listen and help make sense of your anxieties. Saying them out loud or writing your fears down takes the power away from them. Then ask for God’s help. Many people have found healing through this practice. May it help you overcome your fears too.

“It is our stories that will recreate us, when we are torn, hurt, even destroyed. It is the storyteller, the dream-maker, the myth-maker, that is our phoenix, that represents us at our best, and at our most creative.”
~ Doris Lessing

Tell yourself good stories to keep your mind from taking you down the negative downward spiral of fear.  Look for spiritual power. Remind yourself you are strong. Go fight your fear!

Photograph courtesy of Olivia Simon

Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Crisis text: 741741

If you live in the Dayton, Ohio area, schedule free counseling by email: counseling@southbrook.org

To share inspiring stories or be referred to a Professional Counselor email: everythingforthesoul@gmail.com


Are You Considering A Life Change?

Every five to ten years most people go through a life examination. Through the lessons of counseling others, as well as seeing friends and family go through life, there comes a time where many people ask, is this all that life has to offer?

Maybe you think it is the job, your house, your lack of material things or your spouse that is the source of your disappointment. You think back at all your hopes and dreams and don’t see them happening for you.  You realize you are bored and find yourself desiring new excitement. As new experiences, things or people are introduced you experience FEELINGS similar to a drug’s high. Those are all fine unless you begin to rely on those external factors for joy and become reliant to a point of unhealthy addiction.

With anything, we can sometimes idealize other people’s lives and forget we aren’t seeing their whole picture. We aren’t seeing their challenges or sacrifices.  If it is a desire for a different spouse, we forget that everyone wakes up with bad breath, likes to get in comfortable clothes after work, has their bad days and the newness always wears off.   No job is perfect and all homes require work.

The changes you are considering also require sacrifices. New jobs require you to feel vulnerable again as you go through the learning curve. New houses require a TON of work for you to organize and it takes a while for it to feel like home.

The most severe and costliest change that can also have ripple effects is divorce.  Second marriages where children are involved can be even more work than first marriages.  You will find things that you don’t like about someone you live with no matter how perfect they may seem.  The good things you now take for granted in your current spouse may end up being the very things you miss in the new one.

Whether it is a house, job or person, everything NEW does lose its luster and excitement. Constantly jumping from job to job, house to house or spouse to a spouse is a possible sign of needed self-healing. If the reason for the change is caused by expecting the next thing to lead to greater happiness, it can lead to endless disappointment. It may be too hard to face the fact that the problem is really within yourself and that search externally can lead to continued spirals of emptiness.

The fact is, peace and joy are controlled internally by a reframing of the mind. I have met people who have very little and yet are full of joy. I have talked with someone whose spouse has battled life-threatening cancer for five years yet their faith keeps them holding onto peace. I have met people and heard stories of parents who have lost their children and were still able to forgive their child’s murderer.  On the other end of the perspective, I have met people who have all kinds of money and still feel the desire for more in order to be happy.

Alternatively, there are times you can outgrow a job, house or friends. There are also times where you may finally realize the need to leave an abusive spouse or boss. You may have gotten stuck into not changing.  You could be in a situation where you have let others take advantage of all of your adjusting on their behalf. You may be in a situation that is truly unhealthy for you.  Staying unhappy is also not the answer.

So how do you know whether a change in life is going to lead to a better life for you or not?

Start with self-discovery.  Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Why are you making this move?
  • When you go back to the reason’s why you chose that job, home, friend or spouse what was the reason’ for you making that choice originally?
  • How has that situation changed?
  • Are you chasing something or running away from the old?
  • Have you created a list of all the things you currently have to be grateful for?
  • If that choice you are contemplating does not make you happy, what will you do next?
  • What are all the pros and cons of the changes you are considering?
  • If you make this change, could you end up being in the same place you are in now?
  • If it is a spouse you are considering leaving and have children, what do you want as your legacy or what kind of life do you want for them?  Don’t they at least deserve your effort to first get marriage counseling?
  • How do you want to affect the lives of others around you that are forced to do all the adjusting if you do not heal in a healthy way?

Only you can truly answer these questions. If you are willing to hear your answers but are having a hard time finding them, you may need someone to help you self discover.

Find a counselor who will help you with that self-discovery process and that will not judge you.  Be sure you are NOT just looking for advice from people who will give you the answers you WANT to hear just so you don’t have guilt. What you NEED to hear is how YOU will feel about yourself after making the decision you choose.

Don’t expect anyone else to give you the answers. If are expecting to be given the advice for an easy way out, don’t.  You need to expect to be held accountable for whatever choices you make.  If you don’t make a healthy choice for yourself based on your values, it will lead to shame and guilt and more unhappiness for you to face.

Others have been through struggles and learned from mistakes. Those lessons have led to healthier more fulfilled lives.  Through counseling and spiritual practice, there is hope for you too!

Southbrook Christian Church has free counseling. There is help out there and within this website. If you are in an abusive relationship or need professional help search for sources near you. Also for further questions, you can email me at everythingforthesoul@gmail.com for a professional reference.

Create a Lasting Marriage

Favorite Sources on Marriage

Overcome Common Struggles

When to Make a Job Change

Cover photograph courtesy of Olivia Simon

Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Crisis text: 741741

If you live in the Dayton, Ohio area, schedule free counseling by email: counseling@southbrook.org

To share inspiring stories or be referred to a Professional Counselor email: everythingforthesoul@gmail.com