Lessons from Bees


At the beginning of the year, Pastor Toure’ Roberts shared his vision for 2018 –

Thinking Big:

  • We are a big church

  • Focused on the big picture

  • Building big people

  • Making a big impact

Pastor Toure’, of course, was specifically referring to the Potter’s House, but we’re all here to make a difference in the kingdom of God, and there have been and will be many opportunities to do just that. 

I will always remember the woman who said, “I attended class on Tuesday, and I read your daily reflection. Last Sunday I wanted to end it all but I went to church instead.”   A life saved!  Now that’s a big impact!  And no matter where you are or what you’re doing, you influence those around you. 

That’s why we do what we do - and how we impact people’s lives in a big way. And maybe we’ll hear about some of those impactful things we do; others we may never hear about but we serve, and we plant, and we sow. In the end, we’ll be building those big people and making a big impact in our families, our city and our world.

  • Something I read the other day says it well, and I call it “learning from bees.” Every creature in a beehive, every single honey bee, has a purpose — a role it follows its entire life. Guard bees protect the hives, nurse bees take care of the babies, and architect bees build the hive’s hexagon structure, making it mathematically perfect in every way. There are even undertaker bees who remove the dead from the hive and fly 100 yards to dispose of the bodies.

  • Certainly, humans have purpose in their lives. But why are bees so single-minded and committed to that purpose? It isn’t just for the good of the queen. It’s for the good of each other, for their whole community. That’s us — we’re here for the good of each other, for the whole community.

You’re here to make a difference!

3 Things To Stop; 3 Things To Start To Be A Highly Effective Woman

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3 Things To Stop; 3 Things To Start To Be A Highly Effective Woman


2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has gone; the new has come.

3 Things To Stop

 1.    Stop letting others dictate how YOU feel about YOU

2.   Stop looking for what’s wrong – even though we’re wired that way

3.   Stop being afraid – to face the past, to have a dream, to ask for what you want. 


3 Things to Start

1.    Start training others (yes, training – not teaching) how to treat you

2.   Start celebrating when you make a change – it affects the brain

3.   Start focusing on the 90% - The power of positive thinking



Boundaries, Depression and Building Confidence

Boundaries, Depression, Building Confidence  



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Do you want to know more about setting boundaries, dealing with depression or building confidence?  I’ll be speaking on these topics in June and July and I’d love to connect with you.    

  June 20 Uplift Her  - This live video conference sponsored by Kirk Samuels, author of “For Your Eyes Only” will be offered live at 6 a.m. and recorded for subscribers to hear later as well.  I will be talking about building confidence and how you care for others without carrying them.  Kirk offers these live video conferences twice monthly and you can subscribe for only $17 a month with no contract required.  Check out uplifther36.com and uplifthim36.com for more details.

  June 23 – I will be speaking at the “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made Empowerment and Self-Defense Workshop” held at the Denver Red Shield Community Center.  This unique workshop will cover self-esteem, self-worth and self-confidence.  I’ll be talking about speaking up for yourself and how to be successful by investing in your body, your mind and your spirit.   Contact Vanessa Frazier at 720-460-5012.  Cost  - Only $5

  •  July 13-14 Woman Evolve Conference – Sarah Jakes Roberts is hosting this amazing two-day conference, to equip women through spiritual and practical development, in an environment of sisterhood and community, with the tools necessary to evolve into the highest version of themselves.

v I am honored to be sharing the stage with Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child.  She will be talking about her own personal struggle with depression and I will address what happens in our brains when we’re depressed, what to look for in the way of symptoms and what clinical, physical, spiritual and emotional steps to take to maintain a positive outlook on life.  Cost for entire conference - $99-$179.  Womanevolve.com


Silent Lessons

Silent Lessons

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             There are 7.6 billion people on the planet and yet each one of us is unique and special.  How do we come to realize that? 
Because God sent us moms. 

 Moms show us love and tell us we’re special.  But, just as importantly, they teach us silent lessons. 

            Here are some of the silent lessons I learned because my mom lived them:      

1.    It’s never too late, and you’re never too old.  Late in life my mother returned to a small community school in Broken Bow Oklahoma to get her GED. My sister and I were adults and she and dad were retired when she was awarded that diploma.  she silently taught me.  “It’s never too late, and you’re never too old,”

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2.    You can go through hell and not be bitter or broken. My mother endured years of abuse from her father. She also went through The Great Depression and her family survived by selling bootleg liquor from a still in the backwoods. Those two experiences alone would be enough to make someone resentful and mean.  But the only effect I saw was that mom kept plastic containers to re-use and recycle before recycling was the thing to do.

Instead of bitterness or brokenness, I saw grace and thankfulness birthed out of poverty and rejection.  She silently taught me: “You can go through hell and not be bitter or broken.”

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 3.  You can give 100% to God, your husband, your children and yourself and still have love to give. My mother was a strong Christian, pastor’s wife, mother of two children and  took care of herself by dealing with the effects of abuse at age 68.

In the middle of showing me how to balance different roles without sacrificing one for the other, she taught me, “the more you love, the more love grows.”

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What did your mother silently teach you and how did that impact your life?

Here’s how those silent lessons made a difference in my life:

1.     I went back to school late in life. I continue to learn and can say with my mom, “it’s never too late and you’re never too old.“

2.     When the doctor kept saying “We’ll be lucky if all she loses is her leg; it’s cancer,” I knew not to give up.  And even after 10 surgeries and going through my own personal hell of surgery, recovery, and riding in a wheelchair, my mother’s silent lesson taught me: “Never become bitter or let life break you.”

3.     I’ve been a Christian most of my life, I have a long lasting marriage and  my son is a man to be proud of (which I’m taking partial credit for J)  Thank you, mom because I too have learned , “the more you love, the more love grows.”

Out of 7.6 billion people, I am unique and special.  Out of 7.6 billion people, you are unique and special.  And we have our moms to thank for teaching us silent lessons.


Mission To Mars

A Mission To Mars

[By Barbra Russell, MA, LPC, Director, PHD Counseling Ministry]

I remember when I saw the movie, “Hidden Figures,” about three African-American mathematicians who played an integral part in NASA’s space-race success.  It was amazing to learn about these phenomenally intelligent women making a difference at a time when women as a whole, much less, African American women, were not recognized for brilliance, much less for helping out in the space race!

            No, during the decades of the 1950’s and 1960’s, it was often said that “women’s brains aren’t made for mathematics and science.”   And I never heard the story of those “Hidden Figures” until the movie came out in this decade.  How many other women (and men) have remained unknown, unseen and unheard, yet have made a significant contribution, a difference, to society and to our lives?           

            Just think, you might be sitting next to someone at church who has such a story to tell.   Someone like Jessica from The Potter’s House Church of Denver:     

Jessica took part in PHD’s Life Groups lay counseling classes, completed leadership training and the emotionally healthy relationship groups where I had the chance to get acquainted with her.   She is also an ordained elder and obviously has a heart for God and for ministry and not only at church; Jessica is recognized as a leader in the community.  She recently participated in something special through her work and sent me the following note:

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            “I just spent the week working with women engineers on the Mars 2020 mission at NASA in Pasadena.

            It was amazing; leadership development for people who are already extremely cool.  God is amazing.  I shared some of my story with them, which included my core, core value of being a child of God, which drives my essential purpose and personality.

            Some of them came up to me after, thankful that I did, because talking about God is usually taboo.  Once I opened the door, they felt safe to set aside the norm and share their same beliefs with each other.  (secretly, of course, don’t tell the astronauts, ha ha!)  I love this gig!”  (signed) Jessica

             In 2020, I’ll think of those women engineers and how The Potter’s House of Denver is now connected to them because of Jessica and the impact she made on a mission to Mars.

            Has there been someone who’s made an impact on your life?  I’d love to hear from you and learn their story as well.  Contact me at:  barb@barbrarussell.com




Healthy Boundaries Class

Yes, I Said No!
Setting Healthy Boundaries

Why We Need: Yes, I said No! Setting Healthy Boundaries:

In this class, participants will discover the answer to such questions as:

●       Have you experienced burnout or find it difficult to have time for both work and family?

●       Do you find it difficult to speak up for yourself?

●       Do you ever feel you have too much to do and not enough time to do it?

●       Is your life controlling you, instead of your being in charge of your own life?

All these concerns, and more, can be solved with proper boundaries to protect work/life balance and the challenges of an overloaded schedule or demands from family and friends. 

     “Setting Healthy Boundaries” is an eight-week class starting March 1 offered at the Potter’s House Church of Denver, 9495 E. Florida Avenue.  There is no charge for this class which will be held on Thursday evenings from 6:30-8:00 p.m. 

      Presented by Barbra Russell, Licensed Professional Counselor and author of the book, Yes! I Said No! – How To Set Healthy Boundaries and Increase Your Self Esteem, these classes will help you regain your passion, excitement and life balance. 

      Class participants will learn how to:

 ·        Say no without blowing up, wimping out or running away

·        Learn how to care for people without carrying them

·        Balance work and life in a healthy manner

     To more information, contact the counseling department at The Potter’s House at 303-369-8514


It's Ok For Things To Go Fantastic!


            You know it’s not good news when the doctor says he needs to talk to you, and you might want to have your family with you.  Michelle Rackley, our niece, called to give a tearful report of what had just transpired in her hospital room.   

  Special moment with niece Zion

Special moment with niece Zion

“You need to say your good-byes to your family and friends.  We’ve done all we can do.”

            “How long do I have, doctor?”

            “No more than two months.  I’m very sorry.”

            It was Easter, and this season which represents resurrection and new beginnings, instead looked like death and despair. 

            Unfortunately, it was all too understandable.  Michelle had struggled with medical issues for many years.  She had survived over 60 surgeries, lethal infections like the deadly MRSA virus, her body was crisscrossed with scar tissue like a patchwork quilt, and now there were blood clots scattered throughout her upper torso, inhibiting normal blood flow to her heart and preventing any corrective surgery.

It seemed even her strong will and unrelenting faith could go no further. 

Fortunately, when people like Michelle have gone as far as they can go, there are others who pick up the baton and continue running the race.  Prayer warriors, some who knew only her name and her critical condition, began to intercede in prayer on her behalf.  And, miraculous things began to happen.  Her body started healing.

I am pleased to tell you that nine months later, we celebrated Christmas with “Miracle Michelle,” enjoying the gourmet meals she prepared.  She’s an unashamed foodie and accomplished cook with a bucket list of places not yet seen and food not yet tried.

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We watched as she put her foot in the Pacific Ocean for the first time and gleefully accompanied her to yummy foodie stops in California.  What a celebration! 

First time at the ocean - getting ready to jump in

From Easter’s message, “Prepare to die” to a New Year’s promise of “It’s ok for things to go fantastic,” Michelle has a new theme for her life. 

If you find yourself in a hopeless situation, hear what she has to say about her experience, “I believe every prayer was an investment into me being whole!  I want people to know that God is still healing today.” 


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:



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


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!

 J ust 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


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.
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