New Year Resolution: An Emotional Hoarder No More

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Confession: I Used to Be an Emotional Hoarder

By David Martin

I was 16 years old and found myself in my room packing the final boxes for a move I didn’t want to make. My parents were divorcing. My dad decided he wanted a new life, one that didn’t include my siblings, my mom, or me.

As we moved into a much smaller house, we unpacked most of those boxes, but there was one I refused to unpack.

In this box, there was an assortment of anger, hurt, rage and unforgiveness. This box, while small, was heavy. And for the next 20 years, this box came with me to every new house or town I moved to.

You didn’t have to see what was in my box to tell what was in the box. My choices, how I related to others, my addictions and actions were a reflection of its contents.

I somehow had allowed myself to turn into an emotional hoarder. In my mind, getting rid of this box filled with anger and unforgiveness seemed to suggest that I’d also have to dismiss or excuse the wrongs that caused them.

I was the person Marianne Williamson describes: “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison yourself and waiting for the other person to die.” As time went on, I discovered that there are some wounds that time doesn’t heal. To ignore or wish our wounds away is to simply create an environment for them to fester and become infected. Untreated wounds make us sick.


To ignore or wish our wounds away is to simply create an environment for them to fester and become infected. Untreated wounds make us sick.


On September 10 ,2011, I had a life-changing epiphany. It was my birthday. I was driving home, and a thought struck me. It was as if God whispered and said, in so many words, “You weren’t meant to carry this box, it’s time to let it go.”

I realized, in that moment, that this box wasn’t going to unpack itself. If I wanted to heal and move on, the box had to go.

So, I picked up the phone, it began to ring, and then I heard the sound of my dad’s familiar voice on the other end say, “Hello?”

My mouth was dry and my hand was shaking as I struggled to find the words to say. “Dad? Hey it’s me, Dave.” Then I just got to it.

“Dad, I want you to know something…” He stayed silent. “I don’t know what you think I’m holding against you, and I’m not justifying how things went down, but here’s what I want you to know: I forgive you.”

I didn’t know if he was going to hang up on me or respond.

“Thank you,” he said.

In that conversation, I never heard the words “I’m sorry.” But that was OK. I didn’t need an apology to validate my decision to get rid of the box.

That day, I moved to a new place. Not to a new house, but to a new way of living life without the box.

“[Forgiveness] isn’t something we do for those who wronged us; it’s something we do for ourselves,” Dr. Andrea Brandt says in Psychology Today.

I’ve learned that finding forgiveness towards someone doesn’t justify the injustice done against us; it simply frees us from the weight of it.

As you look at 2016, what boxes need to go? What areas of unforgiveness have weighed you down that you’re ready to leave in 2015?

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If you would like to break free from emotional hoarding, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to set up an appointment with one of our counselors or coaches.

 

5 Ways to Refocus Your Marriage for the New Year

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5 Ways to Refocus Your Marriage for the New Year

By Les & Leslie Parrott

Here we are at the end of another calendar year. For some of you, this year has been a high. Your marriage and family are in order, finances are good, loved ones are healthy. For others, maybe you have faced some significant challenges this year. Most likely, you fall somewhere in between.

There is something about a new year and a fresh new start that triggers new hopes and dreams in all areas of our lives. For the purpose of this post, let’s focus on marriage. In this coming year, let’s resolve to refocus, rekindle, and maybe even revive our marriages.

Great marriages don’t happen by accident. Regardless of how healthy your marriage is today, the new year is the perfect time to refocus. Here are practical ways you can do that.

 1. READ SCRIPTURE AND PRAY TOGETHER.

If you’re a Christian, the pursuit of spiritual intimacy should be a priority in your marriage. Sharing scripture and prayer his is the most impactful and lasting way to breathe new life into your relationship. The Bible is the ultimate source of faith, hope, love, truth, and wisdom. It will be your strongest support system for a lasting and thriving marriage.

Setting aside time, preferably daily, to pray together may just be the missing piece you need to create more intimacy with your spouse. It is a consistent reminder that your marriage is the greatest representation of the love of Christ on this earth. Praying together aligns and softens your hearts towards one another and can unlock conversation that you may not otherwise have.

 2. SCHEDULE DATE DAYS/NIGHTS AND GETAWAYS.

It is impossible for your marriage to grow if you don’t set aside consistent, dedicated time alone with your spouse. That amount of time you have will ebb and flow as you go through life, but this will be a lifeline for your marriage. If at all possible, these should be phone-free zones and a time to connect–whether through serious conversation or just lighthearted fun. It doesn’t have to break the bank; it just needs to be time alone. God first, marriage second, kids third, and everything else comes after that. A solid marriage foundation creates a strong life foundation. Schedule time together in the new year. Put dates on the calendar and keep them. Marriage is getting to do life with your best friend, and that is something to be celebrated!

3. FIND A COMMON INTEREST OR ACTIVITY.

Sharing a common interest is a great way to bond and make space for fun in your marriage. You may already have something you enjoy doing together, but if you don’t, find something. Try different things until you both find something you enjoy. Fold this into your date nights, or make it a separate, set-apart activity. You can hold it precious as an exclusive time for the two of you, or maybe involve your children.

It can be so easy to get sucked into humdrum routine and just “get by” in this life. We check off the “have to’s” and forget to make time for the “get to’s”. Finding a common interest or activity disrupts the mundane. It sets aside time to enjoy the one life we have been given. Focus on having some fun with your spouse in the new year!

 4. COMMIT TO HEALTH GOALS TOGETHER.

One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and your family is your health. I’m not talking about storming the gym and cutting out carbs for a month only to return to your normal habits come February first. I’m talking to committing to a lifestyle that is healthy. Eat less, move more, repeat. Commit to doing this together with your spouse and as a family. There is power and beauty in doing things as a team, and remember, if you have children, you are setting a tone for their lives as a fantastic byproduct. Set goals, and not just weight loss goals. Aim to FEEL great. Look to consume food, not have food consume you. Get out and move. That alone will lower your stress and even decrease the size of your waist. Commit to health goals together. Work as a team. You won’t regret it!

5. HAVE MORE SEX.

The one privilege that separates marriage from other relationships is intimacy through sex. It is vital to the health of a marriage, yet a topic that is too often avoided. Sex between one man and one woman, in the context of marriage, is a gift. It should be enjoyed, celebrated, and let’s be honest, it should be happening a lot! But why does it often fall by the wayside? Life gets busy, you’re tired, and perhaps prior baggage has put up boundaries. Lack of sexual intimacy is often a result of you drifting apart in other areas of life.

If your sex life is leaving something to be desired, make revitalization a focus of your new year. More sex inevitably builds intimacy and strengthens your relationship. Schedule time for it if you have to. Remember that sex is a gift and a major lifeline for your marriage.

Which of these areas have you been lacking in? Where can you put your focus to grow your marriage? Now is the perfect time to start. It’s time to redeem marriage in our society. It’s time to take some practical steps to build the most important human relationship in your life. Don’t let another year go by without taking intentional steps to build your marriage. 2016 is your year!

 

Refocusing in Marriage

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Couples unleashed

Many people find their marriage struggling because they have focused on the wrong things in their relationship.  Rather than focusing on what would build their marriage, their spouse, and their unity, the individual or individual becomes self-centered in the marriage.

If you would like help in your marriage, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to set up an appointment with one of our counselors or coaches.

Who is Your Anchor?

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Wrestling with God and denying God are two different things. Suffering reveals who is anchoring you at all times. Are your circumstances in life your anchor, or is the God of Ages?…We must not let suffering choke out of us the truth about who God is…[Both] good and evil will cross our paths. And during both, the Lord remains the same. 
(Eric Mason, Unleashed, p 95)

When suffering hits, and it will, what we hold onto as the waves hit reveals to what our heart is anchored. If our inner security is based upon external circumstances, our emotions, or other people, we will find ourselves feeling easily swamped and on the verge of be swept away.

On the other hand, if we are anchored on Someone greater than us and greater than the events of life, we will discover a way to weather life’s storms when they occur without finding ourselves wrecked upon the reefs of life.

If you or someone you know is going through a stormy season in life and would like help, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to set up an appointment with one of our coaches or counselors.

Merry Christmas

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Merry Christmas

If you would like to talk with someone about the struggles you may be having over this Christmas and holiday season, please give CornerStone Family Services a call at 614-459-3003 to set up an appointment with one of our counselors or coaches.

Funday Thursday: Christmas Eve Humor

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Here’s a little Christmas Eve humor for you.

Claustrophobia

If you would like to add some more cheer to your days, and not just around the holidays, give CornerStone Family Services at call at 614-459-3003 to talk with one of our coaches or counselors.

A Marriage on Fire

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Marriage on fire
Photo taken by @rejoicinrebecca (rejoicingrebecca.com)

“[Marriage] is designed to pull dysfunction to the surface of our lives, set it on fire, and help us grow.” (Tyler Wardis)

If you are struggling with conflict in your marriage and are afraid the at the fire is consuming you and your spouse rather than purifying and helping you grow, please give CornerStone Family Services a call at 614-459-3003 to set up an appointment with one of our counselors or coaches.

Good mental health during the holidays means slower pace, lower expectations and forgiveness

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Good mental health during the holidays means slower pace, lower expectations and forgiveness

By Leha Byrd

On the surface, the holidays appear festive, fun and full of wholesome fellowship with family and friends. Beneath the surface, however, the holidays can be a different story.

Statistics from an American Psychological Association study show that 26 percent of people feel lonely and sad during the holidays, while 38 percent of people say the holidays increase their stress levels. Additionally, during the winter months when days are characterized by less sunshine, is a factor in. An estimated 10 to 20 percent of people are affected by this condition, which hampers mood and causes depression and lack of energy during the holiday season.

Still, there are ways to minimize the pressure the season puts on those who may struggle with anxiety and depression. Virginia Commonwealth University Health experts say that although the holiday season may come with added pressure, there doesn’t have to be additional angst.

“Generally, people have unrealistic expectations and they feel pressured to produce the perfect holiday,” said Janet Abraham, clinical social worker in VCU Women’s Health at VCU Health. “Fatigue can be an issue because you’re going 24 hours trying to get done the last things on your ‘to do’ list. Or, some people equate abundance with having a good holiday, which brings on financial concerns or worries. Thus, we are overcommitted and try to meet expectations others have set. Find pleasure in the small things and stop evaluating.”

A lack of family or the loss of a loved one, or being around family members who may be emotionally challenging or combative, can also trigger depression during the holidays. To combat this, Abraham suggests being mindful of who you spend time with and purposeful about what you enjoy.

“Spend time with your family of choice. Reach out, volunteer to those in need. Generosity is a natural way to feel really good about ourselves,” she said. “Take whatever out of what you’re doing that brings you joy.”

Everett Worthington, Ph.D., Commonwealth Professor of psychology in the College of Humanities and Sciences, agrees that focusing on others helps, too.

“Reducing stress during the holidays involves practicing forgiveness, gratitude, generosity and love,” he said. “The key to all of these is to cultivate a humble, other-oriented heart.”

Societally, the frantic and commercial qualities of the holidays are also cause for concern. Recent national tragedies such as the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, can cause additional distress and wariness about safety—especially because so many travel during the holidays.

Children are particularly vulnerable to feelings of loss and tragedy during the , but affirmation is key, said Bela Sood, M.D., psychiatry and pediatrics professor and senior professor of child mental health policy in the VCU School of Medicine.

She suggests adults take the time to work through their feelings before addressing issues with children.

“Examine your own feelings first. Then you will be able to reassure children and respond in a useful fashion,” she said. “Children don’t need to be exposed to all of the violent images, depending on how old they are. If they are going to get the information, let it be from someone who is the closest to them.”

Establishing good communication is also important with children, Sood said.

“If there have been parental losses of some kind, those affect how children are viewing the holidays, too,” she said. “Guardians should create an environment where validation and expression of feelings are allowed. It can be very cathartic to remember family who may not be here physically. Every has their way of dealing, but the environment should be such that it allows for that expression.”

Family can help those who struggle with mental health during the by offering their time, inviting a loved one to get out of the house or sending a holiday card or note, experts said. In all, preparation for the bumps in the road and making choices that support your mental health are the best ways to minimize holiday drama and manage it when it comes.

“Stop expecting perfection and the fantasy that everything is going to be perfect,” Abraham said, “so you’re not crushed if outcomes aren’t how you plan them.”

What Every Couple Can Learn from Mary & Joseph

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What Every Couple Can Learn from Mary & Joseph

By Les & Leslie Parrott

While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God’s angel spoke in the dream: “Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus—‘God saves’—because he will save his people from their sins.”
Matthew 1:20-21

couple mary and josephCan you imagine for a moment how the Christmas story might have been written if Mary and Joseph had not had the capacity to adjust to things beyond their control?

To begin with, Joseph had to adjust to the fact that Mary, his fiancée, was pregnant. According to Old Testament law, he could have had her stoned or sent her into some large distant city like Rome, Carthage, or Ephesus.

But God sent an angel to tell Joseph that Mary was with child by the Holy Spirit and would give birth to a son whose name would be Jesus. So instead of sending Mary away, Joseph married her.

While the first year of marriage is always difficult, Mary and Joseph faced a unique set of challenges. Nine months of pregnancy require enormous adjustments from a couple, regardless of how long they’ve been married — and this was no run-of-the-mill pregnancy. On top of dealing with the implications of the impending birth, Mary and Joseph were trying to establish their home, run a business, and learn how to live with each other. Further, they were forced to close down their business and travel to Bethlehem as the first step of a Roman plan to raise taxes. Just what they needed!

Early one morning, Mary and Joseph left their honeymoon abode to reach Bethlehem. She was riding on the back of a little burro. Joseph had a short tether wrapped around his arm and anchored securely in his big fist to keep the little burro from dislodging Mary, who was more than eight months pregnant. At night they had no motel. They stopped along the road, cooked with makeshift arrangements, slept on the hard ground, and made the best of a difficult situation.

Finally, when they arrived within sight of the city, Mary stopped. We can imagine her looking up at her husband and saying something like, “Joe, I cannot take another step. I am going to sit down here under this olive tree, and I want you to go into the city of Bethlehem and get us a room in the Bethlehem Hilton. I’ll get room service and wait out the time for the baby to come.”

Mary was a long way from home, worn-out, tired, emotionally drained, and at the end of her rope. Furthermore, she must have wondered what she would do if her labor pains began and Joseph was not near.

Finally Joseph returned, his characteristic smile gone, his shoulders drooping. She listened as he told her his story: “Mary, I went to the hotel, but there was no room. Finally, I persuaded an old man to let us stay in the barn with his animals. He’s charging an exorbitant price, Mary, but he promised he’d cover the floor with fresh straw. And most of all, Mary, he said we could be alone, and he would not make us share the stall with anyone else.”

That night the Son of God was born.

Can you imagine how the Christmas story might have been written if Mary and Joseph had not had the capacity to adjust to things beyond their control?

Every couple on earth must learn to develop this capacity if they are to enjoy a happy marriage. Life is filled with too many unexpected turns and unforeseen problems.

Without the capacity to rise above your circumstances, you will never cultivate a happy marriage.

Funday Friday: Grammar Punctuation Humor

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Here are some Funday Friday grammar punctuation jokes to add some humor to your day:

grammar jokes

For some more help adding joy into your daily life, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to set up an appointment with a coach or counselor.