overcoming difficulties

HOW DO YOU HANDLE "ONE OF THOSE DAYS?"

How Do You handle “One of those days?”

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A three hour traffic jam

A mechanical problem on the plane

An obnoxious drunk

            What do these three have in common?  A common thought -- “oh no, it’s going to be one of those days!”

That’s the day I experienced and the thought I had a couple of days ago.  And the thought was becoming a fast-rushing train hurtling toward my peace of mind.  My day would be derailed if I didn’t gain control of that out-of-control thought. 

I’ll tell you what I did to get back on track, but first let me fill you in on the ingredients of that mess.

             It was one of those days…… Actually, it seemed like a few days.

The first problem – A three-hour traffic jam.  Jerry and I had been on a combination business/pleasure mini-vacation and were headed back to Phoenix when we saw cars lined up ahead of us.  There were no nearby exits; we were stuck.  We sat there, parking-lot style, for three hours. 

The next day we prepared to go home, ready to leave our problems behind.  But no.  We boarded the plane, taxied out to the runway when the pilot announced these dreaded words:  “Ladies and gentlemen, there’s a mechanical problem which requires us to return to the terminal for the mechanics to fix it.”

 We were stuck in the airplane for an additional hour which seemed like three.  It was already late at night, almost midnight, and I thought I’d try to rest a while.  But no.  An obnoxiously and obviously drunk lady behind us very loudly kept proclaiming we were all going to die! Even after we finally took off, she kept loudly cursing and laughing until I wanted to turn around and slap her! (In Christian love, of course)

I can assure you, I got no rest and exhausted, fell into bed after 1 AM 

The next morning at work it was tempting to wonder, “OK, what’s going to go wrong now?“

Well, I decided to change the direction of those thoughts because I know the enemy would love nothing more than for me to live in negativity, worry and defeat.  I think he’d love for all of us to live that way!

But I decided to stop that train and take charge of me.  I took a few minutes to read what God says about renewing our minds.  I took a few minutes to pray.  I took a few minutes to do my “shake and bake exercises and stretches” to change my thoughts, my energy, and my body. 

In just those few minutes. I began to feel calm and was able to focus on all the things I was grateful for in spite of those aggravating incidents.  We did not die.  We got home safely.  I changed my thoughts to joy and anticipation for the next adventure.  Because it is true that while we cannot always prevent what happens to us., we can change how we respond to it.  And sometimes, as in this case, we have to see how quickly we can rebound. 

Life isn’t about how fast you can run or how high you can climb….

It’s all about how well you can bounce! 

How do you handle life’s obstacles and irritants?  How fast and well can you bounce?  You probably have a different “formula” you follow to renew your mind, but contact me by commenting below if you would like more details about the steps I took. 


 

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Cancer Saved My Life

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Cancer Saved My Life

With a sense of wonder and awe, our son said, “I just realized that cancer saved my life.”

“That’s a strange statement, “I thought, but upon reflection, I had to admit it was true.  We had been reminiscing during the Thanksgiving season about the major physical challenges Dane has endured.

It all began when he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.  As you can imagine, our family immediately experienced the fear, doubt and questions about why God let this happen.  Why did this healthy young man who had served God all his life be struck with cancer?  In spite of our prayers, the cancer didn’t miraculously disappear.   Unable, of course, to answer those unanswerable questions, Dane followed the doctor’s recommendation to have immediate surgery to remove the malignant organ.

Then, as if that bombshell wasn’t enough to deal with, the anesthesiologist found a problem with his heart. And that problem required open-heart surgery.

 Open heart surgery? Really, God? What’s up with this? Hasn’t he gone through enough?

Probably others facing such life-threatening news or continuing problems can fully understand the wide range of emotions we all rode like a wild carnival ride roller coaster. 

Once again, we prayed for a miracle.  We hoped for a miracle.  We believed for a miracle.  But nothing seemed to change.      

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  Dane still had to undergo two major surgeries and all the rehabilitation required afterward.   

We didn’t fully realize that a miracle had happened until years later.

 I believe that can happen to anyone. When you are going through struggles, especially ones that stick around, it’s hard to see that anything good is happening.  How many people despair after years of seemingly unanswered prayers?

  •        Are you still struggling with a health issue?

  •         Do you have a dream that God has not yet granted?

  •         Do you have other prayers that have not been answered?

You, like Dane, may not realize that God is working a miracle on your behalf. And this Thanksgiving that’s what Dane realized.  First, it was a miracle his thyroid cancer was even discovered. The doctor said usually this condition is not discovered until it’s too late.  Secondly, because he had to have surgery, the problem with his heart valve was discovered. Either one of those conditions was a silent killer, waiting to pounce suddenly, without warning.

            But a miracle did happen and, as Dane declared, “ cancer saved my life.”

            Don’t get discouraged when you think God has forgotten you; it may be years later that you look back and realize a miracle happened. It might even show up as cancer.

 Barbra Russell, MA, LPC                                                    

                                   

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!

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.” 

In other words, IT’S OK FOR THINGS TO GO FANTASTIC! 

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.