Are you sad, depressed, overwhelmed, or grieving? Does depression have a grip on your life? invites you to come to our website and read, download, or share or newly released 72-page e-book and study guide: The Many Faces of Depression.

Your e-mail will not be stored or sold or used. We are offering free, unconditional support to our brothers and sisters suffering with depression. Hard to believe, we understand, but our mission is that the ideas and suggestions in The Many Faces of Depression find their way into the hands and hearts of people who need them. It’s that simple.


This is a no-strings attached, sincere love offering to you and yours from

October 3, 2016 at 7:15 AM Leave a comment

News about the blog

Hello dear friends and readers. I am sure you have noticed that after a year and a half of weekly posts, nothing has been posted since February 14, 2016. There is a reason for this, and it is not a happy reason. Susan writes the blog, and then Tony turns her writing into a lovely blog post with “special effects,” pictures, and his technological expertise.

Tony is experiencing some very significant health problems and is temporarily unable to participate in getting the blog off the ground. Tony and I feel sure that this is not a permanent thing. We welcome your prayers for Tony and his devoted wife, Sylvia, as they circle the wagons and work toward Tony’s restored health. Tony’s faith is strong and true and he does not ask that these health burdens be lifted from him but only that he be given the grace to withstand them and the stamina to work his way back to full participation in life.

Tony and I consider it a blessing and a pleasure to create and present this blog, and it is our sincere hope that we will have more offerings for you in the very near future. Thank you for being our dear friends and readers — Blessings and peace to each of you, Susan



March 7, 2016 at 6:53 PM 2 comments

Attributes of Sage II

Blog for February 14

We are in trouble if we are striving for wisdom! A wise woman or man – what the ancient Chinese called a sage – is instructed to avoid extremes. And what world do we live in? We definitely live in a world of extremes.

Our food gets supersized and our technology gets smaller and lighter. Our cars no longer go fast enough to get us from point A to point B. Instead, they go more than a hundred miles an hour. Who needs to go a hundred miles an hour? People who are extremely busy and extremely bored might think they need to go a hundred miles an hour.


Horseshoes and croquet are laughable sports. Triathlons and snowboarding are common and respected sports. We do not just boat and sail; we go white water rafting. We do not just fly airplanes; we jump out of them. I remember Judith Viorst writing that boys, three of whom she raised, often think, “Why do it plain when I could do it fancy.” She was observing, thirty years ago, that boys seem to like to take chances and try new ways of climbing trees and riding bicycles. Well, that was then. Now boys and girls seem to believe if it is worth doing, it is worth doing dangerously and with foolhardy abandon.


People no longer have affairs. They have threesomes and “swing” as a way of life. People do not take drugs because they need them for pain relief – they take drugs because they want them for the thrill of the high or the trip.


Every politician wants to lower taxes drastically while increasing the standard of living. Donald Trump says climate change is a “hoax.” I wonder who he thinks is perpetrating the hoax? And what exactly are they trying to accomplish? It is someone with a strong dislike for polar bears, trying to melt glaciers so the polar bears have nowhere to live? Very curious. Another rather “extreme” belief Donald Trump has is that half of all undocumented residents in America are criminals. How would he know that? Are they criminals because they are in jail?  I do not think the math would support that theory. And, if they are criminals who are not in jail, exactly how do we know they are criminals? Donald Trump has formed extreme opinions extremely unsubstantiated by verifiable data. I think we could call this extreme illogic.


Extreme religious sects are another startling example of the extreme times in which we live. We have all heard about the Unification Church, the Ku Klux Klan, the Branch Davidians and other apocalyptic doomsday cults, culminating in the People’s Temple where 900 people drank poison-laced Kool Aid. We could conclude that religions which preach doomsday fear mongering, exclude entire segments of the population based on skin color or “their” beliefs, or demand suicide from their followers are “extreme” and extremely dangerous. Deadly, even.


We have extreme economic polarity in this world, too, and it exists in the United States. Did you know 1.5 million Americans live on less than $2.00 a day? That means they have about $730.00 a year to spend. If all they did was eat, and they had no living expenses, they could spend about $60.00 a month on food. As we know from the yearly lists of billionaires, seven of the ten richest people in the world are Americans. Even below the billionaire standard of living, we have a portion of the population who enjoy an extremely lucrative lifestyle. Extremes.

As a therapist, the extremes that I see every day are the extremes of entitlement, emotional pain and mistreatment by others.

Entitlement is a word that did not even exist when I was growing up. Now, it is rampant. I suspect that without even thinking about it, you can name ten entitled people you know. If not, go on Facebook and read a few posts.


Emotional pain also seems to be coming in more extreme cases than ever before. I do not want to freak you out by telling you some of the things people do to themselves when they are in pain. Most of us have heard about “cutting” but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Too many friends and neighbors are immobilized with pain. People live silent lives of extreme desperation.

And the extreme mistreatment of human by human is appalling. I know this is a radical and extreme idea on my part, but if we disagree with someone, we can always simply walk away. Fighting, whether verbal or physical or emotional is entirely unnecessary. If someone cuts us off in traffic, we can slow down and pull back. Why has confrontation become the norm? What is wrong with using compassion instead of control?

Well, I am sure I have more than made my point. We live in extreme times that make it difficult to respond with moderation and mercy. Moreover, perhaps the more important concept here is to understand why a sage or a wise person would avoid extremes.

Extremes always indicate competition. Extremes always indicate dissatisfaction with the status quo. Extremes always reveal a desire to be better than someone else, stronger, smarter, faster, sleeker, sexier, better dressed (as determined by the people who will get rich from the money spent on following fashion trends), drinking finer vodka (which happens to be more expensive), driving finer automobiles (which happen to cost more and make someone rich). Side note: do you suppose the Ford factory worker who puts the bolts in the Focus gets the same pay as the Ford factory worker who puts the bolts in the Mustang GX? Yeah. I doubt the assembly line worker is the one getting rich.


Money, greed, competition, control, power, influence, radicalism, fear-mongering, bullying, rigidity, severity, drastic measures all lead to extremes in socio-economic terms, behavior and attitudes.


The opposite of an extreme is moderation. People who do not engage in extreme behavior are contended with the middle of the road, the modest, the average, the good. Perfection is the enemy of good. Extreme is the enemy of good enough.

The sage avoids extremes. People with anxiety often take fear to the extreme. People with depression have taken sadness to the extreme. People with PTSD  often take control to the extreme. When we take things to the extreme, we lose control instead of using self-discipline and discernment. Extremes are a way to prove our specialness. The sage is contented being ordinary, and it is in her very contentment that she becomes extraordinary.

“Know that enough is enough, and you’ll always have enough.”


Tony and Susan are wishing for each of us the wisdom of the sage who knows that enough is enough.


Coming soon: The Many Faces of Depression – an interactive workbook and study guide for our brothers and sisters suffering from depression.

Prayer Page:

Please leave your prayers and concerns at link below:

Supporting Scripture:

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)

“For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul, and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the Lord.” Psalm 10:3 (ESV)

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:15-17 (ESV)

“or although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” 1 Corinthians 8:5-6 (ESV)

“When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.” Deuteronomy 24:19 (ESV)

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February 12, 2016 at 6:56 PM Leave a comment

Attributes of Sage

Attributes of Sage

“If you try to grab hold of the world

And do what you want with it,

You won’t succeed.

The world is a vessel for spirit, and

It wasn’t meant to be manipulated.

Tamper with it, and you’ll spoil it.

Hold it, and you’ll lose it.

With Tao, sometimes you move ahead,

And sometimes you stay back.

Sometimes you work hard,

And sometimes you rest.

Sometimes you’re strong,

And sometimes you’re weak.

Sometimes you’re up,

Sometimes you’re down.

The sage remains sensitive.

Avoiding extremes,

Avoiding extravagance,

Avoiding excess.

–Lao Tzu — @ 600 B.C.

During February, we are going to look at this deceptively simple Chinese prescription for being a sage, who is a wise woman or man, one who inspires others by living in authenticity and truth: remain sensitive, avoid extremes, avoid extravagance, and avoid excess.

Why are we doing this strange thing, you might ask. Because when I read these words, the thought came to me: “Well, there’s the blog for February.” And, so, here’s the blog for February.

We begin with the word “sensitive,” a word which I bet has been used to describe each of us: YOU ARE SO SENSITIVE. This accusation is usually flung at those of us who are labeled TOO sensitive by someone who, in our opinion, is not being sensitive enough or perhaps not being sensitive at all.


Iwager almost every one of us reading this blog has been told we are too sensitive. What that means, usually, is that someone has just hurt our feelings and instead of apologizing for it, blames us for being TOO sensitive. “You shouldn’t have your feelings hurt because I said you were fat or lazy or stupid. It’s just The Truth.” You see, people can get away with saying rude and cruel things if they can simply blame the innocent party instead of taking responsibility.


Who is, actually, too sensitive? If you upset me who is to say I’m too sensitive rather than you being too insensitive? Here’s the difference. People who are sensitive are too kind and caring to blame insensitive people for being insensitive. People who are insensitive, are more than willing to blame sensitive people for being too sensitive. The nice guy takes the fall.


Being sensitive means to be emotionally aware, to read the feelings of others, to sense the tone of a room, to respond empathically, to perceive nuances, and to react creatively, which is to say beyond the black and white of a situation.

Sensitive people are rarely black and white thinkers or feelers. Sensitive people do not make you wrong to make themselves right. Sensitive people are able to listen to opposing or different or previously unknown viewpoints and try to incorporate aspects of those viewpoints into their reality.


Iam a Christian, for example, but I am a sensitive person. If you are a Buddhist or a Muslim or a Taoist, I will listen to you and find what we have in common, instead of what we are saying differently. If you use the word “spirit” or “creator” instead of the word “God,” which is probably the word I would use, we may still be saying the same thing but using different language. Instead of describing a “sage,” as Lao Tzu does in our poem, a Christian might describe a saint or a prophet or a good person. A good person will remain sensitive.


Agood person will “do onto others as he or she would have others do onto him or her.” A good person will feed the hungry, clothe the naked and tend to the poor. A good person will be “The Good Samaritan.” A good person will remain sensitive when the world is trying to harden and divide us one from another.

We must remain sensitive whether we say we believe in God or not. We must remain sensitive to our carbon footprint and the endangered species and the impoverished children and the lonely elderly who are sitting forgotten in their  rooms eating cat food.

Asensitive person is never untouched by the misery or pain of another. If I can watch you go hungry or slowly die of loneliness or a broken heart and do nothing to help you, I am a fool. Remember the song, “What kind of fool am I?”


What kind of fool am I who never fell in love, it seems that I’m the only one that I have been thinking of. What kind of man is this, an               empty shell, a lonely cell in which an empty heart must dwell.

"There but for the Grace of God go I.” As John Dunne so eloquently said: “Ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.”    What happens to the least of these, happens to me, also.

We must remain sensitive, or we humans will not remain. It is that simple and that profound. “The world is a vessel for spirit.” The world offers us a way to proclaim our humanity and our place in the family of man.


Peace and blessings to each of us as we nurture our sensitive selves in the service of all life on this beautiful planet – Susan and Tony


Prayer Page:

Please leave your prayers and concerns at link below:

Supporting Scripture:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” Romans 8:5 (ESV)

“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? ” Matthew 16:24-26 (ESV)

“And from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.” Acts 20:30 (ESV)

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” Matthew 7:1-4 (ESV)


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February 5, 2016 at 9:49 PM Leave a comment

Culture of Fear V

Overstimulation is a fifth way we Americans play into the hands of the terrorists. We love stimulation. We are addicted to stimulation. It is through the stimulation of social media that the terrorists recruit. In addition, what do they promise in their recruitment propaganda? Stimulation.


Stimulation is the response an individual has to external stimuli. An emergency room is very overstimulating to most people, as would be riding a fire engine to a fire call or sitting in the back seat of a police call zooming down the road with its lights flashing and sirens blaring. When we are engaged or overwhelmed by too many different sensations at the same time, we are over-stimulated.


I do not know how many of you play video games. My grandson does and likes me to watch him as he shoots things out of the sky or jumps over pits or averts disaster after disaster. Because he plays video games, he can react quickly enough to be successful at the games and has the endurance of a rhinoceros. I can watch for less than a minute and my eyes are crossing and my head spinning. We build up our stimulation muscle, just as we build our abs – exercise.


We live in a well-muscled society, and our stimulation muscles are no exception. The more stimulation we get, the more stimulation we want. Soldiers often have trouble leaving the intense stimulation of war. Firemen and policemen have difficulty retiring because everything seems boring and blasé without the sirens and lights and daily near-death experiences.


These fast-paced professions used to be the exception in life. Technology has changed all that. Now, thanks to cell phones that bring us calls and messages instantly, husbands and wives can contact each other every minute of the day. As a therapist, I cannot tell you how much anger I have heard over someone not being available at his or her spouse’s beck and call 24/7/365. Phones ding all over the world when someone on Facebook posts a new selfie. A separate ding announces our Friends have finished a new Word. Some other identifiable sound proclaims the person with whom we are engaged in a battle of worlds or wits has made a move. We know everything instantaneously.


Perhaps you have had the absolute pleasure of being the designated driver at some point in your life. You watch in amazement as people lose their inhibitions and get testy, flirty, and generally inappropriate. I was only the designated driver once but I learned more dirt on that group of friends than I ever have in a few hours. (That is saying something for a therapist.) Well, I have similar experiences when I am in a group of people now, almost any group of people, because I am not (yet) addicted to my phone. Even in McDonald’s or the doctor’s office or this morning in yoga class – people feel the need to answer every vibration and beep. I am sure every American would say they would never be a slave, but technology has transformed many of us into slaves. We are slaves to technology. The result is that we are all over-stimulated.


Stimulation is what comes at us from outside. There is a test in psychology, which identifies “victims.” There is actually a “victim” personality. This personality operates from an external locus of control. Victims are those people who allow themselves to be controlled from the outside. Healthy people use an internal locus of control. They control themselves instead of allowing outside forces to control them. Is it clear why I say overstimulation is the fifth factor that sets us up to be the victims of terrorists?


We as a culture are losing so much. We are losing touch with nature, each other and ourselves. When was the last time you had a conversation with someone who did not have a cell phone in his or her hand, at his or her elbow, or somewhere close so they could see who sent every vibration and beep? Moreover, speaking of being out of touch with nature, I read that when there is a full moon these days people rush to their computers to see pictures of the moon. Um . . . the moon is outside, up in the sky. If we go outside, we also get to take sips of the night air and check on the Big Dipper. Nevertheless, no. We look at the moon on the computer.


Losing touch with ourselves is a terrible loss, as well. I love to meditate, thanks to Christine McCorkle who introduced me to meditation a number of years ago. Meditation is a well-known and deeply respected non-medication prescription for anxiety. Meditation is a tried and true path to spiritual awareness and self-knowledge. When I work with clients who are anxious or confused about their emotions or what decisions to make, I often suggest meditation.


First, I have to explain it. Then I hear how impossible it is. Sometimes I can make someone laugh aloud if he or she asks me how long I sit in silence, and I tell him or her I like to sit for an hour at a time. That answer often causes bellowing. Now my one daughter-in-law has described me as “odd” for so long that I am coming to embrace it. Let me tell you how odd I am.

I have become the exception in life. I live in quiet. I don’t watch television, I don’t have music blaring all day, I don’t listen to the radio when I drive,  and I miss more cell phone calls than I answer because my cell phone and I often get separated. I have never played a video game, I only went on a rollercoaster to stop people from calling me chicken, and if I never have another surge of adrenalin in my whole life, I will be contented.


The opposite of overstimulation is peace. Peace is a state of mind and heart as well as an awareness of the perils of stimulation. I feel sorry for terrorists because of the misfits and trauma victims they all are and the misinformation and lack of knowledge they have absorbed. Who in their right mind can think that you do God any favors by killing one of God’s children? Who could believe in a God like that? “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son.” John, the writer of the Gospel, does not say God so loved some parts of the world. God so loved THE WORLD. God did not love Iraq or purple people or short people or Americans. God so loved the world.


We, the inhabitants of the world, share a very small planet for a very short period of time. Until we realize that we are all in this together . . . we are all doomed. Staying overstimulated to avoid the truth is not going to help. Living in fear, isolation and smugness and being irresponsible and overstimulated is not going to promote peace. These are some of the most dangerous ingredients of war, evil and destruction.

Peace is possible, but we must “Let It Begin With Me,” as the song says.


Peace to each of you, our friends, from Susan and Tony.


I bet you cannot guess what we are going to talk about in February. Also, I have not said it for a long time, but if you would like to suggest a topic, please do. Email or respond to the blog post with ideas.

Neither have I mentioned for a long time that I offer phone consults if you have private matters you would like to discuss. $50. an hour. Email and we will find a mutually convenient time. (Susan is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Clinical Member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists.)

Prayer Page:

Please leave your prayers and concerns at link below:

Supporting Scripture:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God..” John 3:16-18 (ESV)

“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16 (ESV)

“Moses said to the people, “Do not fear.” Exodus 20:20 (ESV)

“But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 1:20 (ESV)

“But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” Matthew 17:7 (ESV)

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January 30, 2016 at 5:41 AM Leave a comment

Culture of Fear IV

When my three boys were small, say before the ages of eight or ten, I often heard the following phrases:


“I didn’t do it.”

“Don’t blame me.”

“It’s not my fault.”

And my personal favorite, “MmmmmOooooMmmm!!!” which meant, “You are being so unfair.”


They were responsible for nothing bad that happened. Broken windows? Bleeding brothers? Incredible messes? Empty bags of chips and cookies? Never was one of them the culprit.


But they quickly outgrew their irresponsibility. By teenage years, they were confessing if they broke something, hurt someone, or made a mistake. Most of us learn that we must be responsible for our misdeeds if we want to be able to claim credit for our good deeds.


As adults, we have much more subtle ways of being irresponsible.

We do not have to vote. One vote will not make any difference.

We do not have to pay taxes. The rich can afford what we middle class or poor people cannot.



We do not have to return our library books, pay our library fines, stop when we hit a cat or dog in the road, admit if we scrape a car in the parking lot, or go back into the store when we realize we have gotten too much change.

Integrity is a slippery slope. Honesty is one of the only things in life that is black and white. There are no degrees of honesty and responsibility. We are honest and responsible, or we are not. We have integrity, or we do not. We can face  ourselves in the mirror, or we cannot.


What does this have to do with aiding and abetting the terrorists?

Our theme for the month of January has centered around the culture of fear in which we live and the ways in which fear, isolation, smugness, irresponsibility and overstimulation work against us and play into the hands of bullies, terrorists and other devious and devilish forces at work in the world.


Many people understand the danger. When threats were made recently about bombs and weapons in Los Angeles and New York City public schools, Los Angeles closed 900 schools. New York City chose to keep schools open. Said the police chief of New York City, “These threats are made to promote fear. We cannot allow (them) to raise the levels of fear.”


Adult irresponsibility comes in great measure from fear. I believe our lack of responsible behavior as adults also comes from a lack of hope and faith. We do not feel there is anything we can personally do to counter terrorism or positively impact the world. Therefore, we isolate, take care of Number #1, feel no responsibility toward anything beyond our small circle, and distract ourselves with constant stimulation. We give ourselves no time for contemplation, prayer, communion with nature, play in the innocent sense we enjoyed as kids when we went to a playground or climbed a tree, or any other pursuit that promotes peace and serenity in our souls.


I spoke with a man yesterday who has blood clots in his legs, migraines, high blood pressure, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. “All stress related,” I observed. He looked at me in surprise. “I guess so,” he reluctantly admitted. He had not considered that the stress of his life is killing him.


The effect of this stressful living is particularly detrimental to those who have been traumatized in addition to enduring more “normal” stressors. Add childhood abuse, traumatic accidents, war, devastating illnesses, and you are more vulnerable than ever to the present culture of fear. Many of you have heard me say that the number one legacy of PTSD is hypervigilance: always on high alert, always needing to be in control of everyone and everything, always prepared for battle.


I have told this story many times, so forgive me if you have heard it before, but it makes my point perfectly here. My point is that we cannot change the world from the outside, but we can change the world. The changes we can make are slower but more certain. The changes we can make come from us changing the way we each live and interact in this world. The only change we can effectively bring about is the change inside each of us.


I remember reading the work of David Hawkins who uses kinesiology to determine the vibrational frequency of all living things. His statistics were astonishing. One human vibrating at the level of respect, good-will, optimism, willingness, gratitude and loyalty can counterbalance 90,000 people vibrating at the low level frequency of guilt, shame, fear, apathy and blasphemy – these low level vibrations are the vibrations of snakes, pedophiles, pimps, liars, Islamic terrorists, the Jihad, racism, child porn and Adolph Hitler (to name just a few).


One person getting herself or himself in a state of love and gratitude can replace as much good energy into the world as many thousand evil, frightened, God-cursing snakes (reptilian or human) can steal from the world. Rather encouraging, if you ask me.

And to sum it up, here is the story I promised three paragraphs ago:

A dad was trying to get some work done while his child was playing in the same room. The dad decided to keep his son busy for a while and teach him a little something at the same time. He tore a picture of the world out of a  magazine and cut it into small pieces, giving the boy a roll of Scotch tape.

“Put the world back together,” the dad instructed. He breathed a sigh of relief. That was going to give him a nice block of time to work.

Five minutes later the boy handed him the re-unified world.

“How did you do that?” the dad asked incredulously.

“Easy,” said the boy. “There was a picture of a man on the other side of the page. Once I got the man put together right, the world fell into place.”


Blessings and peace from Tony and Susan. May we always strive for the vibrations of happiness and love which emanate from grateful hearts.

Prayer Page:

Please leave your prayers and concerns at link below:

Supporting Scripture:

“Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:13-18 (ESV)

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27 (ESV)

“Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7 (ESV)

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)

 More support is yours at the following websites:





January 23, 2016 at 7:55 AM Leave a comment

Culture of Fear III

"I wanna talk about me, I wanna talk about I, I wanna talk about number #1, oh me oh my.”
Did you see the selfie I posted three minutes ago? It’s different from the selfie I posted ten minutes ago.
What’s my sleep number?
It is all about me. Everything is about me.


Did you hear what President Obama said in his State of the Union Address this week? He quoted the first three words of The Preamble to The Constitution of The United States of America: “We, the People.” Who cares about “We, the People?” Does he believe people in the UNITED States (talk about a misnomer) are concerned about We or Us. (U.S.?) This is the age of “Me, the Person.”


How does the wolf kill the sheep? The wolf isolates, segregates, separates and culls the one sheep from the folk, or we could say, the family. Alone, isolated, separated, any one individual sheep becomes vulnerable. This is the recruitment ploy of terrorists throughout the ages. “Get one of them alone.” We are ripe for the picking these days because we are more concerned about our own self-interest than at any other time in history.


I find it fascinating that an expert in Constitutional Law (I am talking about education, not politics) bases a speech in 2016 on the concept of unified and cohesive people working together “in order to form a more perfect union” and “provide for the common defense.”
We will argue, the president said emphatically, and we will disagree, but we must work together. He made the terrorists very unhappy last night. He called them what they are: fanatics. Do you know what a fanatic is? A fanatic is a sheep that has been culled from the herd. A fanatic does not represent a country or a religion or a culture or a group. A fanatic represents his or her own self-interest.

constitutional law

You see, a group keeps its sheep “in line.” The first group we all experience is the family unit, whatever that unit may consist of. It is the family, which teaches children that their rights stop when someone else’s rights are impacted. I don’t know of a child who before the age of two didn’t hit or kick his or her mother. Successful mothers teach their children that they may not hit or kick another living thing, be it human or dog or cat. That child’s rights stop when the rights of another are impacted.


In successful families children are encouraged, respected, and rewarded for honesty and cooperation. Keep these four positives in mind: encouragement, respect, honesty (or transparency) and cooperation. Children who come into adulthood without these four character traits cannot succeed in community, in school, in a work environment or in the families they create later in life.


John Gottman writes about Seven Principles of Successful Marriage and about what he calls the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Gottman’s four horsemen are the four characteristics which after thirty years of studying thousands of married couples Gottman and his team of researchers have determined to be the four predictors of divorce:

Contempt (disdain)
Silence (as in the silent treatment)
Stone-walling (“grown up” temper tantrums)

The opposite of criticism is kindness, encouragement, curiosity (What makes you say that?), lack of judgment, and open-mindedness. The opposite of contempt is clearly respect, a capacity for accepting differentness, tolerance, a climate of welcoming diversity. The opposite of silence, as Gottman means it, is transparency, honesty, and maybe even humility. Gottman’s silence is the secretive, self-absorption of “I’m not telling you what I think or what I stand for or who I am or what I’m planning or what I will do next.” Silence is probably the most difficult of the four horsemen to understand unless you have been in relationship with someone who “gave you the silent treatment.” If so, you know in your bones and understand completely what this silence is all about and how painful, humilitating, confusing and hurtful it can be. (In fact, having just written that, I think I’ll ask every anxious client I see if there is someone in his or her life who gives them the silent treatment. I felt anxious simply remembering what the silent treatment felt like.) Lastly, the opposite of stone-walling is cooperation. I think of stone-walling as temper tantrums by babies in big bodies. Stone-walling is refusal to participate unless “I get my way.” In fact, “I’m taking my ball and going home.” We have watched in horror as the well-educated, well-fed, well-paid members of Congress have stonewalled each other to the point that the government had to shut down. Last time 800,000 people were immediately put on leave without pay because people we elected to speak for “we, the people,” chose stonewalling over participation and cooperation.

I know I have jumped from families to marriages to government, but, I believe, it is all degrees of the same thing. Successful marriages and families and governments operate on encouragement, respect, transparency and cooperation. Unsuccessful marriages, families and governments operate on criticism, contempt, silence and stone-walling. It seems to me this further boils down to a very basic mindset and belief about life: Am I in this for me, or are we all in this together?

The culture of fear in which we presently exist promotes smugness, self-centeredness, irresponsibility and over stimulation. It promotes “selfies.”



Gottman has given us a clear prescription if the selfie culture of fear seems like a bad idea. Do the opposite of what leads to divorce. Make a personal commitment to live your life in unity with the other people, animals, plants, and even rocks here on this small planet: Encouragement, Respect, Transparency and Cooperation.


Blessings and peace to you from Tony and Susan.


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Supporting Scripture:

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3 (ESV)

“But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. ” James 3:14-16 (ESV)

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (ESV)

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” 2 Corinthians 9:7 (ESV)

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:29-32 (ESV)

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January 15, 2016 at 5:40 PM Leave a comment

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