Saturday, July 20, 2013

Friday's Faith - When Believing Becomes Seeing...

we cannot see...

and in time 
we believed.

Friday's Faith 

When Believing Becomes Seeing...

Now faith is the assurance 
that what we hope for 
will come about 
the certainty that 
what we cannot see 


~Hebrews 11:1

Graphic, thanks to ~Dee Flores of Christian Pictures in Pinterest
Scripture, thanks to biblehub dot com

Thursday's Therapy - 3 Tips to Shrink Anxiety

Thursday's Therapy

3 Tips to Shrink Anxiety

Tommy and I will never forget when at a Grief and Trauma seminar by Therese Rando, that Therese asked, 

"What is the premier emotion that a Child-Loss Griever experiences?"  
Answer: "Anxiety"! 

We are finding that observation to be oh-so-true, somewhat because we are still unsure of what our grieving bodies and hearts can and cannot do!!!

So, we hope the following article from PsychCentral will be of help to many of us Child-Loss grievers as we learn to cope with that anxiety more effectively:

By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.
Associate Editor

We know that exercise is a boon for our mental, physical and emotional health. And it’s particularly helpful for easing anxiety.  “[M]oderate exercise has been shown to have a significant effect on anxiety and mood,” said Marla Deibler, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and director of The Center for Emotional Health of Greater Philadelphia, LLC.

For instance, exercise reduces the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. And it stimulates the production of feel-good endorphins.

It also leads to an increase in activity levels in the serotonergic system, which may help to decrease anxiety and improve mood, Deibler said.

Plus, “moderate to intense exercise raises core body temperature, which is accompanied by a simultaneous reduction in muscle tension, thereby affecting the experience of anxiety.”

So if all this can help, how can you motivate yourself to do more of it?

Recently, researchers have been exploring another hypothesis behind the benefits of exercise in easing anxiety: Inflammation and oxidative and nitrogen stress (O&NS) may play a role in contributing to anxiety, while exercise may act as “anti-inflammatory and anti-O&NS agent,” according to the authors.

So, whether you struggle with occasional anxiety or a diagnosable disorder, exercise can help. It’s a powerful part of your self-care routine and an effective adjunct to anxiety treatment. Below, experts shared how to make the most of movement in minimizing your anxiety.

1. Find Activities You Enjoy

According to the experts, the best physical activities are the ones you actually enjoy doing and will continue doing. “With the exception of yoga, which has specifically been shown to be helpful, research does not specify what activities are better than others [for anxiety],” said Deibler, who also pens the Psych Central blog "Therapy That Works."

So what are your favorite ways to move? What activities did you love to do as a child? What just sounds like fun to you? What activities have you always wanted to try?

Ideally, you can participate in physical activities “at least five times per week for a minimum of 30 minutes,” said Maura Mulligan, LICSW, the director of the Center for Wellness at Wentworth Institute of Technology. 

But you can start by figuring out what activities you’d like to do at least three times a week.

You might not notice significant improvement in your anxiety right away. It might take regular exercise — three to five times a week — for several weeks, she said. 

To observe your improvement, Mulligan suggested journaling your symptoms for four to six weeks.

2. Sample a Variety of Activities

Mulligan encouraged readers “to try many different activities and to not give up if one or two are not well received.” Think of this as an experiment that’ll help you explore your exercise likes and dislikes and boost your well-being.

For instance, yoga is “very helpful in having individuals focus on breathing techniques and quieting their mind, which are useful skills in anxiety reduction.”

Other activities you might try, she said, are: swimming, running, dancing, taking long walks, hiking and participating in classes at the gym. 

And, again, remember to focus on activities that feel good for you. “What works for one person may not be useful or enjoyable for another.”

3. Practice Meditation

Carla Naumburg, Ph.D, a clinical social worker and author of the Psych Central blog, "Mindful Parenting," suggested cultivating a daily meditation practice.

This study showed the brain mechanisms involved in bringing anxiety relief while meditating. 
Positive changes have even been observed when meditators aren’t meditating.

“You can meditate inside or outside, any time of day or night, as long as you won’t be disturbed.”
Meditation isn’t about eliminating your thoughts. It’s about learning “to observe them and let them go.” The easiest place to start is probably your breath.

Start by simply noticing your breath “coming and going.” Another option is to count your breaths to 10, and then begin at 1. Whenever your mind naturally wanders, just start counting again, she said.

Naumburg also suggested starting with just two minutes of meditating a day. “If you can do that for a few days in a row, bump it up to three or four minutes.” Also, learn the language of mindfulness, she said. Check out and Susan Salzberg’s book Real Happiness, which includes audio of guided meditations.

Physical activities are a healthy way to minimize anxiety. Remember that the key is to find activities you genuinely enjoy, and practice them regularly. 


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Wednesday's Woe - "A Missing": Living with the Permanent Gap ~Tommy and Angie Prince

"You think that their 
dying is the worst 
thing that could happen.

Then they stay dead.

~Donald Hall, poet, from "Distressed Haiku"

Wednesday's Woe

"A Missing": Living with the Permanent Gap

~Tommy and Angie Prince

We have mentioned before the impact on parents of losing a child is so strong and so wrong that it would be like a law of physics being altered, and then trying to continue to live with that law of physics no longer being true. For example, what would happen if the gravitational pull on earth were to change, how would we then live? What if the availability of oxygen in the atmosphere were suddenly to change, would we be so shocked that everybody's lives would be turned upside down? Welcome to the world of a parent losing a child.

There is an ever-present sense of a gap in my life. There is this whole sense of wrongness that I carry around with my sadness. Now, continue to live, and I feel like I am up against something as strong as a violation of a natural law. How do you live when a natural law has been violated?

What drives Angie to look at artwork during any available free time? For now, she says that is one of the few things that soothes her. She also wonders if it is another way to "find" her baby girl for she finds herself looking for artwork that captures Merry Katherine, or for pictures that could at least pass for Merry Katherine at any and all ages, from baby to young child, and so on up to age nineteen. Or at least pictures that represent the vibrant lifestyle that was unique to her while she was here on this earth.

There is "A Missing" that is ever present and that demands to be soothed. It is an active, living thing that seeks to be fed, if not on a daily basis, at least on an every-other day basis. 

There is something that is so wrong that has happened. How do we right that wrong? 

It's like everybody else gets to live on earth and flourish in the current laws of nature and physics, but a bereaved parent has been moved onto the moon where all the oxygen has been sucked out of the atmosphere. The gravitational pull is non-existent; it alters everything about how you live. You cannot go out unless you are in a self-contained spacesuit. The liveable temperature, the oxygen, the gravitational pull are all missing. 

Such an environment demands change, and no one would fault the person who makes those changes. They wouldn't accuse such a person of "not moving on." 

It is not that there's a "new normal" for a grieving parent; it is a "new reality"! It is as though the laws of physics and nature no longer apply. We are upside down in an uprighted world, and we find we cannot breathe. Our hearts are not at rest without a soothing and gentle atmosphere that allows time for our grief. What is important to everyone else is not important to us. Our hearts now take first-place, no matter what else is going on. Our hearts have been devastated, and they must be soothed, nurtured, and protected.

There is a total reconstruction of reality with which we must contend. And we are still trying to find out:

What are the laws of  this Child-Loss land? 

What should they be so that we can survive in this now-ravaged land?

"My grief lies all within,
And these external manners of lament 
Are merely shadows to the unseen grief
That swells with silence in the tortured soul."

~William Shakespeare

Picture of Donald Hall's excerpt from "Distressed Haiku" and Excerpt from William Shakespeare: thanks to ~M for the Survivors on Pinterest 

Tuesday's Trust - Gone... But Still Alive... - Part Three

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it. 

~Hebrews 4:16 (New Living Translation)

Tuesday's Trust

Gone... But Still Alive...

Part Three

What is life like for our children who have gone before us to Heaven?

Two weeks ago:

 as I mentioned, in his book, Heaven, written in 2004, Randy Alcorn describes a "temporary" place into which we go before we are called into the New Heaven and the New Earth which is the final culmination of God's victory over Satan. This "temporary" Heaven into which we believe our (deceased) children have entered, Alcorn calls "the intermediate Heaven." In his book, he describes his rationale for this interpretation of Scripture:

"I've made these observations on the intermediate Heaven based on only three verses (Revelation 6:9-11). Unless there is some reason to believe that the realities of this passage apply only to one group of martyrs and to no one else in Heaven --- and I see no such indication --- then we should assume that what is true of them is also true of our loved ones already there, and will be true of us when we die."

The following are the next seven (7) of Alcorn's observations for what he thinks are true of this "intermediate Heaven":

  • 8) The believers martyred for His name, ask God to intervene on Earth and to act on their behalf: "How long . . . until You judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?" (v. 10)

  • 9) Those in Heaven are free to ask God questions, which means they have an audience with God. It also means they need to learn. In (the intermediate) Heaven, people desire understanding and pursue it.

  • 10) People in the intermediate Heaven know what's happening on Earth (v. 10). The martyrs know enough to realize that those who killed them have not yet been judged.

  • 11) Heaven dwellers have a deep concern for justice and retribution (v. 10). When we go to Heaven, we won't adopt a passive disinterest in what happens on the earth. On the contrary, our concerns will be more passionate and our thirst for justice greater. Neither God nor we will be satisfied until his enemies are judged, our bodies raised, sin and Satan defeated, Earth restored, and Christ exalted over all.

  • 12) The martyrs clearly remember their lives on Earth (v. 10). They even remember that they were murdered

  • 13) The martyrs in Heaven pray for judgment on their persecutors who are still at work hurting others. They are acting in solidarity with, and in effect interceding for, the suffering saints on Earth. This suggests that saints in Heaven are both seeing and praying for saints on Earth.

  • 14) Those in Heaven see God's attributes ("Sovereign . . . holy and true") in a way that makes His judgment of sin more understandable.

To be continued.

Picture, thanks to ~Dee Flores of ~Christian Pictures, found in Pinterest 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Saturday's Sayings - To Grieve is To Endure...

Saturday's Sayings

To Grieve is To Endure...













All graphics, thanks to ~M for the Survivors on ~pinterest

Friday's Faith - When there's a Mess…

Friday's Faith

When there's a Mess…










All graphics, thanks to ~M For the Survivors on ~pinterest

Friday, July 12, 2013

Thursday's Therapy - 7 Tips to Boost Your Brain ~Women's Health Magazine

Thursday's Therapy

7 Tips to Boost Your Brain

~Women's Health Magazine

Brainpower: Sharpen Your Mind

7 mind-boosting tips to boost your brainpower and memory and sharpen your mind

~Cristina Goyanes

Of all the things you've got on your mind — work, bills, that weird, new stain on the kitchen floor — your mind probably isn't one of them. But now that you've started blanking on your own cell phone number and freezing when the ATM asks for your PIN, maybe it's time to start thinking about it. See, your brain tissue is steadily being chipped away — some of it by the natural aging process and some of it by such brain shrinkers as stress and cigarettes. Luckily, there are ways to strengthen your brainpower the way you build your abs. All it takes is a quick seven-step diet and exercise plan designed to boost your memory, attention span, and all the other things that will restore your skull-covered hard drive to its maximum power.

Brain Booster 1: Your Heart

The reason you misplace keys or can't remember what you ate 9 minutes ago? Normal aging shrinks neurons (brain cells) and drains neurotransmitters (the messengers that communicate between and among cells). But getting your heart rate up can reverse this process by increasing blood flow to the brain to improve memory and overall brain function, says Arthur Kramer, Ph.D., a professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Illinois.

"We examined brain structure before and after fitness training and we found increases of brain volume in a number of areas," 

says Dr. Kramer, whose patients improved 10 to 15 percent on a variety of memory and attention tasks after exercise. The minimum:

You can reap benefits from as little as walking 30 minutes three times a week.

Brain Booster 2: Your Back

Hauling your everyday (80-pound) shoulder bag can leave you tired. Carrying whiny kids can leave you frazzled. And both may injure your back — and your brain — in the process. A recent Northwestern University study found that people who suffered from chronic back pain lost up to 1.5 cubic centimeters (equivalent to 1 teaspoon) of gray matter per year. That's because the area of the brain that copes with the stress of the pain (the lateral prefrontal cortex, for those scoring at home) becomes depleted and dysfunctional enough to affect emotional decision-making, says A. Vania Apkarian, Ph.D., whose previous work found that patients with chronic back pain were slower decision-makers.

Best way to beat back pain: build muscle in your lower back and abdominals to support the spine. Try the reverse trunk curl. Lie flat on your stomach and fold your hands under your chin. Lift your chin and chest off the floor about 3 to 6 inches. Aim for three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions three times a week.

Brain Booster 3: Your Waist

A body mass index below 25 not only means you'll look great in a bikini but that you'll be more likely to remember that you do. A recent Swedish study found that women who had a BMI of 27 (25-30 is considered overweight) were more likely to experience loss of brain tissue in the temporal lobe (that's your brain's main hub for memory function and one of the first areas affected by Alzheimer's). That's because extra fat generates more chemicals that can be toxic to your brain, says Deborah Gustafson, Ph.D., the lead study author and assistant professor at the Institute of Clinical Neuroscience in Sweden.

One class of these chemicals — called free radicals — latches on to cells, disrupts the way they function, and can kill them. Aging naturally chews away at your memory, but excess fat may speed up the process. For each point your BMI increases, your risk increases 12 to 16 percent. "If you decrease your body weight, you're going to slow potential atrophy," says Dr. Gustafson, who recommends a BMI below 25.

Brain Booster 4: Apples

Eat one a day and keep your neurologist away. Researchers from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, recently discovered that animal brain cells treated with the antioxidant quercetin were able to resist damage from those brain-frying free radical cells (above).

"We know that quercetin, commonly found in apples, has a great potential to protect against chronic diseases, including Alzheimer's," 

says Chang Lee, Ph.D., the principal study author and chair of the department of food science and technology at Cornell. Since fresh apples contain high levels of quercetin, Dr. Lee suggests that one a day may help combat neurodegenerative diseases. Other foods high in quercetin include onions, plums, and berries.

A Kandinsky painting 

Brain Booster 5: Your Desktop Wallpaper

Set up a Kandinsky painting as your desktop wallpaper, and it's like 10 pushups for your brain every time you look at it. Researchers from the University of California at Davis found that the brain first detects recognizable patterns, such as shapes and lines, and then starts to break down new and different elements.

Taking in an eyeful of complex images may ultimately help slow natural brain deterioration, 

says study author Scott Murray, Ph.D., a researcher at the University of Minnesota. Looking at a painting that actively engages your thoughts is far more challenging — and better — for your brain than staring out a window, which likely offers familiar views and much easier interpretation, Dr. Murray says.

Or, as another famous artist Pablo Picasso said,

"Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."

~Pablo Picasso 

Brain Booster 6: Español

Knowing how to say "Yo quiero Taco Bell" versus knowing how to order your whole meal in Spanish may mean the difference of a few brain cells. A recent study from the University College London found that bilinguals have more gray matter than monolinguals.

"It appears that gray matter, which is critical for performing simple as well as complex tasks, is shaped by what we learn and by our experiences in general," 

says Andrea Mechelli, Ph.D., the lead study author. Even people who picked up a second language at age 35 saw an increase in gray-matter density, says Dr. Mechelli.

Where to start? The easiest second language to learn is the one you're most likely to encounter; for most, that's Spanish. "Find a way to immerse yourself in situations where people are actually using that language," says Dennis Baron, a professor of English and linguistics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. For other ways, try community college classes, or go online to look at foreign newspapers that have illustrations to help you understand.

Brain Booster 7: The Mall

In a recent study of 1,000 participants, researchers set out to find why 75-year-old women tend to maintain better brain function than 75-year-old men. The result: they shop. That's because shopping requires more physical and mental activity than sitting around and watching golf, says Guy McKhan, M.D., study author and professor at the Mind/Brain Institute at Johns Hopkins University.

"They're being physically active, mentally active, and tend to see themselves as having a role to play in life," 

says Dr. McKhan. Deciding what to buy, for whom, and how much to spend is one way to keep your brain — and your eye for a bargain — active on weekends.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wednesday's Woe - Emotional Dodgeball ~Tommy Prince

Wednesday's Woe

Emotional Dodgeball

~Tommy Prince


Nothing can get in the way of a joyful reunion in running into an old acquaintance as hearing the question, 

"So, how many children do y'all have?" 

"Three," I said.

"I guess they're all grown?"

(Short Answer) "Yes."

(Inside, I'm dying, pleading, Please Don't Ask Anything Else About Our Children!)

I immediately default to, "We have a wonderful grand baby," which then leads her and her husband  into telling how proud they are of their grandchildren. 

Then five, ten minutes later, by not encouraging her to keep talking about her grandchildren, the empty space was again filled with the dreaded question of,

"So how old are your children… they're grown?" 

Angie clued in to my sudden speechlessness and quickly said, "Yes, they're grown now."

Emotionally, I felt I was in the middle of a dodge-ball game, and I kept getting knocked in the stomach with a ball.

So I defaulted again to stories about our grandchild, which opened the door for her and her husband to tell stories about their grandchildren...

The context was that of being in the middle of a waiting room of a doctor's office, and running into this family whom we had not seen for over fifteen years, so it became obvious very quickly from their questions that they had no idea we had lost Merry Katherine. 

Her husband was in bad shape medically so we knew he did not need to hear any bad news, and I was about to find out what kind of shape I was in medically, so I knew I didn't need to get into anything painful either… 

I've experienced that conundrum many times where in sharing about Merry Katherine, it opens me wide up emotionally and I am then extremely vulnerable. 

I knew this was not the time nor the place for that conversation. But it surprised me, almost seven years into having lived with Merry Katherine's death, I felt so blind-sided that I essentially stumbled through that whole interaction as if I were totally unprepared for it. 

So much for "Time Helps"… We were taken back to square one in no time at all.

Graphics, thanks to Google Images

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Monday's Mourning Ministry / Tuesday's Trust - Eternal Love... / Victory ~Yolanda Adams

Thanks to ~Hers To Treasure and ~Fine Art America 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.

~Proverbs 3:5-6 (New International Version, 2011)


Jesus said to her, 

"I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if s/he dies, will live."

~John 11:25 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

(some capitalizations and gender corrections, mine)

~thanks to Molly Severns - "Colors" on pinterest 

I miss my lively, free-spirited baby girl. I am so thankful she is still "with" me in spirit, and that she is alive and watches over me from Heaven. Jesus Himself said, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if (s/he) dies, will live." (John 11:25 ~Holman Christian Standard Bible, 2009) Thank You Lord, for Your great love for us that You made provision for our love for one another to be eternal!


Monday's Mourning Ministry / Tuesday's Trust

Eternal Love...


~Yolanda Adams


~Yolanda Adams

I've got, got the victory
I've got the sweet, sweet victory in Jesus, yes I do
He is a mighty conqueror
In Him I will trust,
all my battles He'll fight

I've got, got the victory
I've got the sweet, sweet victory in Jesus
For me He died but He rose on the third day
That's why I have true victory everyday

Truly, I've been through the storm and rain
I know everything about heartache and pain
But God carried me through it all
Without His protection, I would surely fall

I've been broke without a dime to my name
But all my bills got paid 'cause I called on Jesus name
You can't tell me that God isn't real
'Cause I've got the victory and that's why I'm still here

I've got, got the victory
I've got the sweet, sweet victory in Jesus, yes I do
He is a mighty conqueror
In Him I will trust, all my battles He'll fight

I've got, got the victory
I've got the sweet, sweet victory in Jesus
For me He died but He rose on the third day
That's why I have true victory everyday

I'm not worried about material things I don't have
[Incomprehensible] my Saviors care
'Cause I know that my blessing is on the way
I can't see it right now, but I stand by faith

I've fought many, many battles in His name
I've held up the blood-stained banner and proclaimed
That Jesus is the truth and the light
Believe me when I say He will make it right

I've got, got the victory
I've got the sweet, sweet victory in Jesus, yes I do
He is a mighty conqueror
In Him I will trust, all my battles He'll fight

I've got, got the victory
I've got the sweet, sweet victory in Jesus
For me He died but He rose on the third day
That's why I have true victory everyday

Yeah, I got the victory, yeah
I got the victory yeah, yeah, yeah
And if you have the victory sing along with me
Yeah, I got the victory, yeah
I got the victory yeah, yeah, yeah
Sing it with me, I've got the victory

I've got, got the victory
I've got the sweet, sweet victory in Jesus, yes I do
He is a mighty conqueror
In Him I will trust, all my battles He'll fight

I've got, got the victory
I've got the sweet, sweet victory in Jesus
For me He died but He rose on the third day
That's why I have true victory everyday

Oh yeah, I got the victory, yeah
I got the victory yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, oh yeah
I got the victory, yeah
I got the victory yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yes
Sing along with me

I've got, got the victory
I've got the sweet, sweet victory in Jesus, yes I do
He is a mighty conqueror
In Him I will trust, all my battles He'll fight

I've got, got the victory
I've got the sweet, sweet victory in Jesus
For me He died but He rose on the third day

That's why I have true victory everyday