Showing posts from 2011

Give the Gift of Prayer This Year

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

I don’t know about you, but every year I struggle with finding the perfect gift for my family and friends. It is almost a mission to seek out the right gift balancing between the person’s needs, wants, and talents. When the right gift is discovered it is pure joy to watch them open it and it is in moments like that when it is truly better to give then to receive.

This year as finances have become tighter, I find myself less interested in all of the bargains, deals, extra shopping hours and countless searches on the internet. Rather it has become a time of self reflection onto the meaning of Christmas rather than the gift giving of Christmas. When I recall the best gifts I have received during the year, it is the rare moment when a friend tells me they have been praying for me without my prompting and without any knowledge of my present circumstances. Those moments are precious to me and I can remember every one of them with great clarity far better than …


When I meditated on the word guidance, I kept seeing "dance" at the end of the word. I remember reading that doing God's will is a lot like dancing.

When two people try to lead, nothing feels right.

The movement doesn't flow with the music, and everything is quite uncomfortable and jerky.

When one person realizes and lets the other lead, both bodies begin to flow with the music.

One gives gentle cues, perhaps with a nudge to the back or by pressing lightly in one direction or another.

It's as if two become one body, moving beautifully.

The dance takes surrender, willingness, and attentiveness from one person and gentle guidance and skill from the other.

My eyes drew back to the word guidance.

When I saw "G," I thought of God, followed by "u" and "i."

"God, "u" and "i" dance."! God, you, and I dance.

This statement is what guidance means to me.

As I lowered my head, I became willing to tr…

We Wish You a “Mary” Christmas

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

It’s that time of the year again when the list of things to be done grows by the minute, plans are changed again and again until the last minute, and stress over finances, family, and friends is at an all time high. There is too much to do, too much to see, too many places to be, and far too many expectations to be met. The demands of work, family, friends, and even church push us to a panic frenzy to meet and exceed those demands but at what expense?

When did this season, the season of joy, the season of celebration, the season of giving and the season of bonding become the season of anxiety over unmet expectations and financial pressure, the season of depression over the loss of loved ones, and the season of trampling over others to make a purchase? “Merry Christmas” is not so merry anymore. Rather than trying to put the “Merry” back into Christmas, I would propose a different type of “Mary”. Jesus refers to Mary in Luke 10:38-42 when he informs Martha…

Strategies to Break “Holiday Stress Syndrome”

By Dwight Bain

A recent USA Today poll asked this question,
“Which best fits your holiday emotional state?”

• Relaxed - 18%
• Joyful - 31%
• Stressed - 27%
• Depressed -24%

Why do people feel so overloaded with additional problems during the holidays? I believe the majority of the pressure they feel is from trying to live up to unrealistic expectations of creating a ‘perfect’ Christmas.

Remember Clark W. Griswald from the movie ‘Christmas Vacation?’ He is the laughable, but best illustration of a guy who tries to do everything right, only to have literally everything go wrong. Dysfunctional relatives, one blown bulb derailing all of the decorations, the Christmas tree goes up in flames, the turkey is dry, the check for the swimming pool is going to bounce, add in a crazy cousin kidnapping the hateful boss, while the dog destroys the house chasing a rabid squirrel and a senile senior citizen sings the national anthem and you have the whole 9 yard…

Teens and Pornography: Let’s Talk

By Aaron Welch, LMHC, NCC, CSOTS

Seriously, let’s talk. That wasn’t just meant to be a catchy title. It is time that we, as parents, start talking to our teenagers about their struggles with pornography. This problem is not going away; if anything, it will become more and more prevalent as the avenues for teenagers to view porn continue to expand. Teens are able to view porn through so many mediums that it is almost impossible to monitor everything. If a teenager wants to look at porn, they will likely find a way. The days where parents could lock down their teenager and completely block access to porn are slowly going away. Computer blocks? Many teens know how to bypass. Taking the computer away? What about all the phones and other devices with access to internet? You know…the ones that their friends have at school. What about all the kids out there who are willing to send your teenager pornographic texts? What about separate hard drives that you know nothing about? Par…

Ready or Not… Here Come the Holidays!

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

Do the holidays catch you by surprise every year as if they came in the middle of the night sneaking up on you while you slept? Do you feel tired and overwhelmed at just the thought of the next “fun” family gathering? Do the Christmas colors of red and green remind you more of anger and money instead of holly and wreaths? Too often expectations of anticipated holiday traditions tend to get in the way of truly enjoying the events as you desperately try to be or to do things inconsistent with your normal life. Here is a look at three expectations that may need to be examined before this holiday season hits.

“Deck the halls with boughs of holly”. For many, the holidays are all about the decorations and not just a few candles or one tree but numerous trees (one main pretty tree, one with the kid’s school made ornaments, small ones for each of kid’s rooms, and sometimes a couple small ones for outside accompanying the full manger scene), wreaths on the windows…

Teamwork at its Finest: Lessons Learned from Teens

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

Every now and then you get a chance to witness teamwork operating at its finest. Usually this is found in sophisticated work environments or in places where adults have known one another for a long period of time. I however have found it at a high school with a group of seniors who have come from a variety of backgrounds with enormous variations in economic and social status.

As a group, there is nothing special that stands out among them as evident in their number of 29 with the majority of them being males. With the exception of a few, they are not the most intelligent, athletic or popular class. Their personal interests are varied from medical school to marines, from marine biology to hunting, from football to dance, and from art to engineering. Yet they get along with surprising contentment for their differences. How? There are three observations as to how they have accomplished this task.

Servant leadership. One of the most striking features of …

“Someone Please Help Me: Empowering Our Kids to Cope With Bullies”

By Aaron Welch, LMHC, NCC, CSOTS

I know what it’s like to be bullied. Before I grew into my body I remember what it was like to be shamed and humiliated; to feel alone and powerless; to feel afraid to go to school every day, knowing I might be pushed down or punched or verbally berated. It’s not a good feeling. In fact, it was awful. I felt lonely, depressed and powerless to stop it.

Until I was 14.

I remember that day vividly in my mind. It was winter so I was wearing a toboggan hat, heavy blue coat and extremely thick blue gloves. I don’t know why, really, but something clicked. One of the guys who regularly pushed me around threw me into my school locker for no good reason. That’s when it happened. Something in my brain suddenly told me that it would be better to get beat up that day than to be shamed; to know that I cowered before him and was humiliated in front of everyone in the hall. I pushed him back. At first he was shocked and then he raised his fist to raise…

Forgive, Forgive, and when you don’t know what else to do, Forgive again

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

I would be out of a job if husbands forgave wives, wives forgave husbands, children forgave their parents, siblings forgave one another, friends forgave each other, workers forgave their bosses and nations forgave nations. Imagine for a moment a child forgiving a parent who verbally belittled them instead of harboring that resentment well into adulthood and either repeating that pattern with their own children or worse internalizing the thoughtless comment. Imagine a worker forgiving their boss for taking undeserved credit for a job well done instead of finding ways to even the score. “Impossible” you say?

Signs of unforgiveness are everywhere in our culture. Just turn on a talk show any day of the week and you will hear story after story of one person who believes they are justified in their anger. And sadly, sometimes they are justified but there is a better way. If we can identify the early warning signs of unforgiveness in our own lives and learn to…

Managing ADD/ADHD: Where are my keys?

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

Quite possibly my favorite trait of an ADD/ADHD person is their ability to misplace so many important things in a variety of places. One would surmise that as time goes on, the number of places that their sun glasses, cell phone, wallet, homework or keys would land would be limited or at the very least consistent with previous locations but this is not the case. Rather, those with an advantage of ADD/ADHD seem to have an unlimited number of new and creative locations for their most basic and most frequently used items.

Not only is the location of the keys creative, but at the moment of initial placement, it is also logical and systematic. The difficulty lies in remembering the logic of the location instead of the actual location because the logic of the location is the right key needed to solve the end mystery. This key concept can then be transferred to other traits of difficulty for those blessed with ADD/ADHD.

Bigger than life dreams. Spend a little time…

How to Fight Fair and Win an Argument

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

Have you ever had a fight with your computer? Everything is going fine one minute and the next thing you know the computer begins to act up. It starts with one program and then leads to another. You fight back by shutting down the dysfunctional program and trying to control or anticipate the next problem. It retaliates back by doing something new and unexpected and before you realize what is happening you are doing battle with an inanimate object and sadly it is winning.

If fighting with an inanimate object is frustrating, try fighting with a human. You begin on one topic and before you know it you are on another topic that has nothing to do with the original topic and you can’t even remember why you were fighting in the first place. Talk about unpredictable and frustrating. However, it does not have to be this way. There is a better way to fight if you think of it in terms of how you handle your computer properly.

Pay attention to the problem at hand.

In the Shadow of the Mouse: Relocation Stress in Orlando, Florida

By: Aaron Welch, LMHC, NCC, CSOTS

Ah yes…Orlando, Florida, the land of dreams. A place where the magic of Disney permeates the community; where residents sing instead of talk, where children laugh and play without fear, where bluebirds regularly land on our shoulders. This is the city of hope and joy; where each person cares about the other; where hugs are frequent and neighbors are prized. Yes, Orlando is the happiest place on earth…or so I thought before I moved here.

However, for many who have moved to Orlando, the transition has been anything but joyful. When our expectations are high our disappointments, when those expectations are unmet, can often shake us to the core. That is what commonly happens to new residents of Orlando. In reality, many people who move here find Orlando to be disconnected, uncaring, and angry. In fact, a 2006 article by “Men’s Health” ranked Orlando as the #1 angriest city in America. That may shock those of you who live elsewhere but, to those…

How Not to Shutdown in an Argument with Your Spouse

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

Have you ever experienced this? You are in the middle of explaining a problem to your spouse and instead of listening to what you are saying, they are picking apart the most ridiculously details. Frustrated, you try to answer and return back to the problem but they are so stuck on the wrong word you used or your tone of voice that you don’t even want to continue. So instead of having another argument, you decide to shut down and keep your comments to yourself.

Now you have another problem on top of the original problem and so it builds until you just want to explode. While there is nothing wrong with deciding not to argue about semantics, not voicing your opinion can breed resentment which turns into anger and eventually bitterness. So what can you do? Instead of replaying the argument over and over from your perspective, try to replay the argument as if you were a third party looking from the outside. Then evaluate the situation with these points in min…

Creating Positive Change in Spite of Crisis

By Dwight Bain

Change... it is a part of life that we don’t like to face. Oh we may speculate on what it would be like to live some where else, move to another house, take another job in another industry, move away from mom and dad, or marry our 'dream date'. We like to talk about the big changes that we may go through one day; but let's face it. Most people hate to go through a major change. I think we tend to avoid change like the plague; even though we know in our heads that God will ultimately use change to grow us into a stronger person through the process.

Some of the changes in life are predictable. Losing our first tooth, the independence that comes from a driver’s license, graduation, moving out on our own, and other expected stages of life. Some changes are not pleasant, but equally common. A new-born baby not sleeping well and the parents struggling to find the energy to cope with their new child's continual cries for comfort, siblings fighting with ea…

The Importance of Win-Win Arguments in Your Marriage Relationship

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

You are having that same argument about money again. One person believes the money needs to be spent and the other person believes the money should be saved. Sometimes the argument is spoken out loud and sometimes the argument is done silently, nonetheless the same argument is replayed over and over. If the spender gets their way then they are happy to have won this round, if the saver gets their way then they are happy to have won. In both cases the opposing spouse often feels like the loser of the argument desperately trying to figure out how to win the next round.

Everyone falls into this trap sometime; maybe the issue is manifested differently but the pattern is the same. The problem is not the issue per say, but rather the outcome. There are three possible outcomes to any argument: win-lose, lose-lose and win-win. However, in a marriage only two of the three outcomes are really possible.

Lose-Lose. In lose-lose outcomes, both spouses walk away fee…

Help for When You Feel Discouraged or Unsatisfied

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

Have you ever begun a project knowing that it was the right thing to do but everything seems to be working against you? Without even realizing it, discouragement overtakes you and what appears to be a good idea has now been put on the back burner. Maybe the discouragement came in the form of criticism by a loved one or in the form of diminished enthusiasm from co-workers or in the form of last minute emergencies that consume excessive amounts of time. Regardless of the source of discouragement, it is there and the once great project is no longer getting any of your attention.

There is a story in the Old Testament about a group of people who tried to rebuild the Temple after it was destroyed but got discouraged (book of Haggai). Several governmental officials went out of their way to prevent the rebuilding from happening and slow the efforts of the workers. The workers in turn got distracted with building their own houses, planting crops and tending to the …

How to Overcome the Need to Please Others

By Chris Hammond, MS, IMH

Do you get enjoyment out of anticipating someone’s need which you think will make them happy and then investing time meeting that need without being asked? Do you often feel drained of your energy but keep working anyway because they need you to help? Do you spend countless moments replaying conversations and rehearsing new ones trying desperately to figure out what someone else wants? If so, you may have an unhealthy need to please others.

There is a difference between a healthy need to please others and an unhealthy need to please others. A healthy need is not dependant on a particular response. For instance, if you clean the garage because you know it will be helpful to the family but are not expecting any help or compliments in response, then you have a healthy need to please others. On the other hand, if while you are cleaning the garage you are thinking about how your teenage son should be helping you and looking forward to your wife praising your w…

Ten Years After the Terrorists

Reflections on God’s protection and provision

By Dwight Bain

“Where were you when you heard about the terrorist attacks?” Ask any American above the age of 15 and they will get a sad look in their eyes and tell you exactly what they were doing ten years ago. We remember any major crisis and the attacks on 9/11 were the deadliest in our nation’s history. What we remember about that day can make us stronger because we are filled with overwhelming gratitude or it can crush us because of unresolved grief, guilt or trauma.

Reflections only show a picture of the way things are in a given moment of time. When you look into a mirror or see your face reflected back from the still water of a pond you aren’t seeing the real thing, it’s just a mirror image of the real thing. Memories are like that and memories are a gift from God when we have worked through the grief, or memories can bring back a lot of pain.

News anchor Ted Koppel said on the day of the attacks, “Nothing will ever be the same agai…