The one most powerful thing you can do for someone

Whether it's in a counseling setting, in your marriage, or if you're visiting with a friend, here's the one most powerful thing you can do for that person.  Check out this short video to find out:

https://www.facebook.com/barbra.e.russell/posts/10210790934112265

 

CT (Compliment Time) +CNB (Checks and Balances) = TI (True Intimacy)

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Our differences attract us to each other but they also have the potential to break us apart.  "Why don't they drive correctly?"  "I am the only one who handles the finances correctly."  "They're not....disciplining the kids right, loading the dishwasher correctly or respecting me...etc etc"

We must stop pointing out their wrongs because they're not like us and focus on their "rights" and why we were attracted to them in the first place.

One young couple I worked with came up with an evening routine:

  • CT and CNB
  • CT = Compliment time.  Each shared something positive they had noticed that day or a character trait they appreciated about the other.
  • CNB = Checks and balances.  Is there something they should discuss?  A concern, an opinion or misunderstanding?   
  • Prayer - They ended their time together by praying together and for each other.

Previous to coming in to see me, they had grown apart and infidelity invaded the bedroom.  After this was discovered and threatened to break up their marriage, they began to recognize the pattern of differences changing from attraction to attack mode.  Fortunately, in counseling, they learned communication skills and came up with CT and CNB.

Take this Marriage Challenge:  - how many things can you comment on today and every day that you like about your partner?  Then, take a page from what worked for this couple - every day try this formula:  CT+CNB = TI (True Intimacy) 

I Wait, I Plan and Prepare, and I Keep Dreaming

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon in southern Utah contains miles of spectacular beauty created by the forces of nature.  And just as the wind here creates fascinating sights, so the Spirit changes us into new creations for the world to see and once seeing, be impacted by our lives.

The problem for us, of course, is that we hunger to change into those beautiful creations overnight.  We set goals, write down our dreams and visualize the changes we wish to see in the world.  But then it doesn't happen in 5 minutes, 5 months or even sometimes 5 years.  What happens to the dreams?

I remember writing my first book and declaring it would be a New York Times best-seller!  That hasn't happened yet and my challenge is to keep the faith, without getting discouraged.  Seeing Bryce Canyon reminds me those changes that so moved me took time.  I hope I don't have to wait for eons for the Spirit to change me sufficiently to see dreams come true and people impacted by my life.  In the meantime, I wait, I plan and prepare, and I keep dreaming.  

Brain Power!

For our brain, there's no difference between reality and imagination. Our brain reacts to every thought and cannot tell a fact from a fantasy. This is why people looking at the world through rose colored glasses feel happier, and this is why our body accepts a placebo as a real pharmaceutical product. 

The tree trunk speaks!

Just Say No! 

Just Say No! 

When it's even carved into tree trunks, you have to pay attention! Say no to the wrong things - the time grabbers, the people who leave you feeling sad and bad, or keep you dependent on them.

You'll then have the energy, passion and self confidence to say yes to risk, growth and things you love

Five Tips for Summer Fun

Five Tips For Summer Fun

    The Potter's House of Denver's staff and leadership team recently filmed a promotion for the upcoming all-church Summer Blast, an event with food, games, and ministry opportunities.  Our pastor emphasized this was to be a time of joy and laughter, and the video needed to demonstrate that.  

    Under the TV Ministry’s direction, we released balloons, squirted each other – and the pastor - with water pistols and super-soakers as well as water balloons.  We acted like kids at a water park and sure enough, we had great fun!  We also experienced joy, laughter and a true spirit of camaraderie as we worked together to show people having fun together.    

    You might not undertake something so elaborate, but you can easily and inexpensively find ways for your own family to spend time together laughing, learning and creating warm memories.

    Here are some ideas:

  • Have your own water fight – you can buy a few water pistols, splash in the pool or spray each other with the garden hose.  Kids especially love to drench mom and dad, and laughter is guaranteed.

  • Become a tourist in your own state.  My husband grew up in Arizona but never visited the Grand Canyon until he moved away.  We live in Colorado, but it was our friends from Texas who introduced us to some fantastic mountain scenery.

Hanging Lake by Glenwood Springs CO

Hanging Lake by Glenwood Springs CO

       

  • Create memorable moments.  I’ll always remember the Sunday morning we were traveling with a group of church friends and stopped by the side of the road overlooking Ouray, “The Little Switzerland of Colorado.”  We shared a loaf of bread and bottle of grape juice as we participated in communion.  Memorable?  You bet!  It just took a little planning and stopping by the grocery store.  

  • Give the gift of an experience.  I was pleasantly surprised to hear that my young niece preferred going with her mom for a manicure and pedicure than to receive the normal “birthday present.”  When you offer an older child the choice of a gift or an experience, you might be amazed yourself when they choose a new adventure.    

  • Learn  and play -  A day with mom or dad learning how to prepare dinner or ride a bike is a wonderful treat for both the adults and the kids.  Little girls love to play “grown-up,” go to the grocery store, get all the ingredients for a meal and then fix it, messes and all.  And my grown son still remembers as a boy how his dad spent one summer teaching him how to throw a football, practicing again and again until he got it right.  

  What can you do this summer to ensure you have lots of laughter, fun and memorable moments?  You don’t have to take a world cruise or go to Disneyland; have a water fight in your own backyard!

 

                                    


 

Do you hang on to known misery rather than reach out for unknown happiness?

Do You Hang On To Known Misery Rather Than Reach Out For Unknown Happiness? 

                During July, I watched “The Sons of Liberty,” historical stories about a group of men fighting in the American Colonies for freedom.  It brought to life figures like John Adams, John Hancock, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, those US founding fathers we usually see depicted as older, bewigged and solemn as they’re signing the Declaration of Independence.  

  This series, however, shows young, courageous and seemingly fearless men determined to break away from a far-away king’s rule, British corruption and “taxation without representation.”  They were called “The Sons of Liberty.”  

In the TV depiction Samuel Adams, cousin to the more well-known John Adams, is a hero who found his calling as colonial activist, motivating and inspiring others to rebel against the British.  While admiring his dashing acts of bravery, I was struck by this thought:  today, we might not be physically fighting for our freedom, but we often wage war in our minds.  We need freedom; we metaphorically cry: “give me liberty or give me death!”  We can relate to Samuel Adams and The Sons Of Liberty.

  •          Like us, I imagine Samuel Adams often thought, “I can’t,” “why me?” or “this isn’t fair!” 
  •         Samuel was unsuccessful as a businessman in colonial Boston.  Who among us hasn’t faced defeat in a business opportunity or lost a job?  At those times, we might mumble as perhaps Samuel did, “I tried it and it didn’t work.” 
  •         Samuel experienced dissatisfaction with his life in general.  Perhaps, like us, he woke up one morning to discover he had turned into the wrong person. 
  •         Samuel was driven by desperation – he was broke – when he took on the unpopular task of tax collector for the British.  Although it’s been almost 250 years since the Sons of Liberty spearheaded the cause for liberty, I think at one time or another we all find ourselves feeling desperate.  I know I have.  I remember times filled with hopelessness, anxiety and despair when I was ill and jobless or when I was facing a life without one of my legs.

However, something interesting happened as Samuel Adams reluctantly collected taxes; he began to see a clear pattern of British corruption that did not sit well with him!  That immense dissatisfaction and sense of outrage ultimately led to his playing a significant role in “The Boston Tea Party,” and “The American Revolution.” 

Almost 150 years later, Oswald Chambers penned words that Samuel Adams would undoubtedly have embraced and that we identify with today: “We lose interest and give up when we have no vision, no encouragement, and no improvement, but only experience our every-day life with its trivial tasks.”  Sometimes, like Samuel Adams, we just need a purpose.

In the war of our minds, we also experience times of overwhelming situations and wonder, “what on earth are you doing, God?”  We ask, “what possible good could come from such a horrible break-up, loss of a job, or devastating illness?”  If we’re honest, we get mad at God, upset with the world and are disappointed with ourselves for getting into such a mess. 

With the advantage of hindsight, we’ll later say things like, “Oh! That’s why I got so discouraged!”  Or, “Now I see what God had in mind; it was better for me to go through that situation.”   But usually, the first insight comes as we, like Samuel, start to dislike the way things are.  From that uncomfortable place, when we’ve had enough, we’re ready to do something different. 

That’s the beginning of the battle in our minds.  We long to step out of our comfort zone and react differently or try new things. But the part of our brain which seeks familiarity; which hangs on to known misery rather than seek unknown happiness, demands comfort, not challenge. 

      The first skirmish is the decisive one.  We struggle with how it’s always been, what we’ve always done and who we’ve always thought we were.  But when the pain of remaining the same becomes greater than the fear of change, we are ready to brawl. There may be more battles to face, more obstacles to conquer, but we’re on the way. 

And just as Samuel Adams and “The Sons of Liberty” brought freedom to our land, we can bring freedom to our minds. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

               

 

True Love, Marriage Advice and Wisdom of the Years

My nephew and niece's daughter (does that make her my grand niece?) is getting married this month and I was asked to provide some marriage advice for the newlyweds.

In my years as a counselor, teacher and married woman myself, I thought this would be good to pass on:

To The Groom: Remember to step up and speak up; it's important to say what's on your mind, whether that's how much you love her or how much something is bothering you. Both pay off in the long run! It's also important to keep doing the things which made her fall in love with you, so if you need to set a reminder on your calendar for 6 months or 6 years from now, you'll still be planning special occasions, or sending flowers or whatever it is you do!

To The Bride: For most women, we have to remember to shut up! Because of the way we're wired, we tend to look for what's wrong and what needs to be fixed and point that out -- and keep pointing it out! But men will begin to shut down and not talk about real things if they feel whatever they say will be criticized or whatever they do is never enough.

Here's wishing you will both experience many years of love, happiness, respect and honor.

#truelove #marriageadvice #wisdomofmanyyears

Compliments Guys Are Secretly Dying To Hear

Hello!
 

I got married in June many years ago and will be celebrating my anniversary later this month. So June becomes a Love Month - for me anyway!  In honor of that occasion, here's some wisdom I've learned over the years.
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Earlier this year I was featured in an article in "The List" talking about "Compliments Guys Are Secretly Dying To Hear" and thought you would enjoy this reminder of what guys really want to hear!
To read this, simply click on the link below.

For the married folks, a reminder to you wives; for the single folks, you can use this to catch a guy! :)  More secrets about the gals later!

Enjoy and please share with others, post on your facebook pages and send any comments my way. 

Thanks!  Barbra

: http://www.thelist.com/46326/compliments-guys-secretly-dying-hear/?utm_campaign=clip

Victim to victory - a safe place to heaL

Victim to victory - a safe place to heaL

 "Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm.  Nothing is too hard for you ......."   Jeremiah 32:17

            “I am stronger, I am more confident, and I am beginning to get my voice back.” 

Those triumphant words are declared today by Andrea, a sexual-abuse survivor and graduate of PHD’s Life Group, “Victim to Victory.”

Victim to Victory is a support group for women ages 13 and up, survivors of childhood sexual abuse, incest and rape.  In a time where sexual abuse is still often a shameful topic to address, The Potter’s House Church of Denver has stepped up to provide women a safe place to heal emotionally and spiritually.

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After completing this 13-week group, Andrea went on to say, “I have grown so much in such a short amount of time.  After taking this class, I can finally see how my abuse impacted other areas of my life.  I have a new mindset and my life has been changed forever!”

Those are indeed powerful words.  Even more exciting is that Andrea’s triumph is not just a singular incidence.  Other members of this dynamic group report similar victories:

  • ·         “I never realized how sexual abuse affected me, and I felt I was to blame, like I deserved it.  This class has helped me know that is not true.  I can receive healing and comfort, God is guiding me and I am growing in my faith.”                                                                                                                      
  • ·         “This is the first time I’ve ever attended a group like this.  I’ve been amazed at the ability to deeply identify truths from past occurrences I didn’t fully understand.  All the growth I experienced is because of the substance and tools I received in this class.” 

Such testimonies speak to this certainty:  people within the church body experience the same hurt and trauma as the population at large.  When we have spirit-filled trained believers willing to walk alongside such hurting individuals, the Church is truly an outreach to the unsaved, a hospital for the wounded, and a resource to the community.,  

Barbra Russell, MA, LPC - Director, Counseling Ministries

Transition and Stress

      Everyone will experience change, a transition, at one time or another.  

There is nothing so consistent as change

                During a time of transition, people normally experience stress because our brains and entire beings seek homeostasis, a survival mechanism.  We want things to stay the same.  here are some helpful tips to deal with transitions and the accompanying stress. 

                 We can help others – and us – by doing three things:

1.  Normalize This Time – People are not crazy; it’s normal to feel a whole range of emotions during this time.  From depression, anger, sadness, & disappointment to confusion and triggers which remind us of previous trauma and loss; it’s all normal

2.  Grieving The Loss – We all go through the stages of grief because in transition, we always lose something.  As in the death of a loved one, the stages apply here as well:  Shock and denial, anger and depression come and go as we grieve.  Just when we think we’ve successfully navigated one stage, we find ourselves back in the same feelings.  Again, that’s normal.  Grieving is crazy-making!  We eventuallymove to acceptance with sadness for the loss.

3.  Process The Feelings – It’s important that people don’t stuff all that grief and emotions but rather have opportunity to process, or talk about, the change in a healthy manner.  We can help by using the following skills:

  •  Create Safety – Provide confidentiality; knowing what they share with you won’t go any further.
  •  Listen without judgment – paraphrase the content and feeling; they will feel understood.  “i.e.,  “I hear you saying you feel pretty angry about this.” 
  • What NOT To say: 
     
    • Just trust God
    • Look on the bright side
    • I conquered it this way
    • Just read and pray more
    • Or any other “advice-giving” statements.  Unsolicited advice is like chopped liver – not appreciated. 

Adversity is Difficult but Good

I recently tweeted this:  "Adversity is difficult but good - it makes you develop muscles and resources you didn't know you had."

A reader commented:  "Yes.  My "muscles" are almost on bodybuilder level.  (smile) It's all working for my good though."

I thought that's an excellent way to look at this process -- because bodybuilders are tough, they're toned, they're usually preparing for a contest.  

We daily enter a contest we call life -- the more times we go through adversity and exclaim, "Whew!  Made it," we're usually a little wiser, a little tougher and more prepared for the next challenge in this experience we call life. 

 

We married, then started dating

We had our first real date on Valentine's Day, he proposed a month later, 3 months later got married then started dating😃😊😳💕❤. While I don't recommend that as a usual practice, it did set the stage for us to keep learning about each other and we were determined to make it! 2 helps? Learning about and respecting personalities and using gender communication humor- "that's my female brain talking" and "that's just my male brain that forgot." No sitting in rockers on the porch for us - nope, working, playing and making a difference- that's the Russell Plan. 

What are your helps to stay married?

What are you plans for your future? 

Would love to hear from you:  barb@barbrarussell.com

The Meltdown

            It was August, and an idea hit me, like lightning striking a lone tree on a hilltop.  I would put on a women’s conference!  And I’d do it in two months!   After all, as one of my favorite authors, Jim Rohn, said: “The time to act is when the idea is hot and the emotion is strong.”    

            I gathered a team around me and we set out to bring that idea to life. The “Highly Effective Women’s” conference was set for October and all worked feverishly to make sure it happened. 

            Chapter nine of my newly completed book, Yes! I Said No! clearly spelled out the steps to “Dream Big; Think Small.”  That was me, right?  If I wrote it, I’d better practice it!  This seminar would be a Joyce Myers, Christine Caine, Beth Moore event, all wrapped in one! 

It was the week before the conference when the meltdown happened. 

            Like hot lava spilling out from an erupting volcano, disturbing thoughts burned my mind, leaving tears and hopelessness in their wake.  “Who do you think you are to do this?  You are definitely not those famous women you admire; you’re just the Great Pretender.”   

            You can’t entertain such thoughts without suffering severe side effects and I spent the day wallowing in self-pity and despair.  The next day, however, the stern schoolmarm part of me stepped in, saying:  “Get a grip, Barbra!  You’re going to do this thing!”  And I set out to do it, to complete the job.  After the “Highly Effective Women’s Conference” was held in October, the participants, the team and I all declared it a success.

            Why do I tell you this story?  Because I bet I’m not the only one who has dreamed a dream that seemed too big to accomplish, not the only person who has doubted their ability to make it all the way to the goal line.  Perhaps you too have heard the echoes of doubters from your past wickedly whispering in your ear, “You never finish what you start, you quitter!”  I bet I’m not the only one who has ever felt those qualms of inadequacy; not the only one who has suffered a meltdown. 

            A few weeks after the conference, I was reflecting on what happened.  Why on earth did I experience that day of panic?  It had been a while since that happened, even though I remembered other times when such mind-attacks would put me in a depressive funk for weeks or maybe even months. 

            This truth then hit me – Even though I had had a bad day, I must be further from the volcano of self-doubt, insecurity and lack of confidence in myself.  Yes, only one day of feeling discouraged equals progress for me!

            When you encounter the inevitable setbacks, discouragement and doubts which beset purpose-driven people, instead of repeating a well-rehearsed mantra such as “well, I can’t do this,” look at the progress you’ve made.  All too often we assume an “all or nothing” attitude.  We look at things as black or white; success or failure.  We need to recognize the shades of gray which represent progress. 

            I imagine if today you carefully measured the distance from your particular volcano of obstacles, you’d see yourself further down the road than you were years ago, months ago or even weeks ago.  Because it’s a fact that if you keep getting up after you fall down, you are going to succeed.  If you keep trying, you will learn and grow.  And if in the process you have a meltdown, you will discover, as I did, that it wasn’t as bad and didn’t last as long as before.  Keep on dreaming those dreams; continue taking action when the idea is hot!   

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Barbra Russell, MA, LPC

Counselor/Writer/Speaker

www.BarbraRussell.com