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Ellis, Tyler & Tracy

Mornings with Ellis, Tyler and Tracy…A positive way to start your day!


Today’s Positive Thoughts

Give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men.
Psalm 107:31 NIV

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18 NIV

Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
Hebrews10:24 NIV

Baked Cheese Grits by 4 Rivers Smokehouse

Tip: Add the salt and pepper before boiling to allow the grit to absorb the flavor. For creamer grits, substitute ¼ of the boiling liquid with cream or half and half.

Serves 10 to 12

  • 4 cups Chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon Coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon Black pepper
  • 1 cup Yellow stone ground grits (suggestion: Anson Mills)
  • ½ cup Cheddar cheese
  • 4 ounces (6 slices) Velveeta cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • ½ teaspoon Garlic powder
  • 2 Large eggs
  • ¼ cup Milk

 

1.      Preheat oven to 325˚F.

2.      Bring chicken broth, salt and pepper to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.

3.      Stir in grits, reduce heat to simmer, cover pan and cook 15 minutes, or until broth is absorbed, whisking occasionally. Remove from heat.

4.      Add Cheddar, Velveeta®, butter, and garlic powder, stirring until cheeses are melted. Set aside.

5.      Beat eggs lightly in a small bowl. Whisk a small amount of eggs into hot grits, mixing well. Gradually whisk remaining eggs into grits whisking continuously. Whisk in milk.

6.      Pour into greased 8-inch-square baking dish. Bake 30 minutes. Let stand at least 20 minutes before serving.

 

To serve in a specific shape, cover and refrigerate until cooled. Cut in desired shape in pan and warm in oven on low heat before serving.

 

If You Feel Lonely Without a Card or Candy Does It Mean You Aren’t Loved?

By Dwight Bain

It’s the worst day of the year for millions. No, I’m not talking about April 15thwhen Income Taxes are due–I’m referring to Valentine’s Day. Turns out this ‘romantic’ holiday has become one of the loneliest and least popular holidays according to the National Retail Federation. Here’s how American’s listed out their preferences for special days–

93% -              Christmas/Hanukkah

87.8% -           July 4th

83% -              Mother’s Day

82% -              Easter

77% -              Father’s Day

60% -              Valentine’s Day

54.2% -           St. Patrick’s Day

With all the promotions on TV you might think Valentines is more about money than it is about love since the aaverage guy will spend $169 on jewelry, clothes, perfume, flowers or dining out… (twice as much as women will spend according to the National Retail Federation). The Greeting Card Association reports that people will send about 150 million cards to show their love, in all American’s will spend $17.6 billion dollars this year. So with the average person spending $4.52 on Valentine’s gifts for their pets, or the people who skip the love to go ahead and buy themselves the gift they want, is this day even about romance at all?

Valentines Day has some interesting expectations associated with it since there is a cultural tendency to believe a person who doesn’t get cards and candy aren’t really loved, just lonely… and nothing could be further from the truth.  In case you are feeling that way today, let me give you a little perspective.

Saint Valentine’s Day began as a liturgical celebration to honor an early Christian leader named Valentinus who was a martyred for his faith in Christ. Before he was killed he wrote notes to encourage others to stay strong in their faith. Quite a stretch from a heart shaped Hallmark card with a cute puppy on the cover. The wonderful tradition of writing a “Valentine” note to honor his sacrifice has turned into just another commercial holiday.

I believe the cultural expectation of getting romantic stuff, (like a gift card to Outback), from the person you want to receive it from will do nothing but set you up for crushing disappointment since there are 365 days a year to show love, and when someone ignores their partner for 364 days, 1 day won’t make up for it. It can’t. Yet too many people feel lost, lonely, rejected and hurt because of shattered expectations about how they weren’t loved and appreciated by that special someone they wanted to love them, the way they wanted to be loved…. see how confusing and convoluted that is?

 

However, when you move from the cultural model of getting; over to the Christian model of giving to others, expecting nothing in return for your kindness; then you are moving forward in the path of one who would rather die than to give up his faith. That kind of self-less love is a real reason to celebrate. So turns out it’s not about the chocolate after all.

 

 

About the author- Dwight Bain is dedicated to helping people achieve greater results. He is a Nationally Certified Counselor and Certified Life Coach in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change.
Reprint Permission- If this article helped you, you are invited to share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint. “Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2013), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeworksGroup.org

 

John Rivers’ Red Velvet Cake Recipe

Red Velvet Cake

3.75c all purpose flour
3c sugar
4.5T cocoa powder
1.5t baking soda
1.5t salt
3 large eggs
2.25c margarine, melted
1.5c buttermilk
1.5t vanilla extract
.25c + 2T red food coloring

  • Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
  • In a separate bowl mix eggs, margarine, buttermilk, vanilla and red coloring.
  • In a mixer using the whisk attachment slowly pour the wet mixture into the flour mixture. Once incorporated mix on high for 30 seconds.
  • Divide into 3 greased 9″ pans and bake on 350 for 26 minutes.

 

 

Cream Cheese Frosting

16oz cream cheese, softened
2lbs Confectioner Sugar

 

• Beat cream cheese until smooth and completely softened, no lumps.

• With the mixer on low slowly add the sugar until completely incorporated.

• Mix on high 2 minutes, stopping once to scrape the bowl.

 

2013 is Your Year of Change

By Dwight Bain

 

Major change is almost impossible to manage alone, that’s why it is wise to seek guidance during times of massive change. Taking the right action quickly can prevent a stressful situation from getting worse and in fact may turn into unexpected success.  I’ve had the chance to come alongside thousands of people over the last 30 years to coach them through major life transitions in their personal and professional life and have learned something new about change every day. Remember, since resolutions don’t work this is about changing your mind set on priorities. If you try to change everything, you will end up changing nothing. Are you ready to really experience positive change? Then read on!

While every difficult situation was complex in different ways, I discovered some common elements of a remarkable, although often, hidden source of energy that only became available during times of massive change. When used, this secret power gave these leaders the ability to achieve results instead of experiencing regrets while facing unbelievable levels of stress and pressure. My greatest joy was to coach them from pressure and problems to move forward with boldness by facing the changes necessary to gain personal strength and confidence.

Start by identifying the areas of life that need to change. Use this scale from my book “Destination Success” as a guide to get you started toward identifying the areas of life that need to improve.

 

Bain’s LIFE SUCCESS SCALE

Now let’s get honest!  Take an intense look at your life, and score yourself using the following scale from 1-10 to evaluate how successful you believe you are in the major areas of life.

 

1= Panic                                            6= High Moderate

2= Extremely Weak                          7= Low Strength

3= Weak                                            8= Strength

4= Low Moderate                             9= High Strength

5= Moderate                                      10= Peak

 

 Physical Health-

 Emotional Health-

 Spiritual Health-

 Financial Stability-

 Career & Professional-

 Social Support-

 Closest Relationships-

 Time & Schedule-

 Learning & Personal Growth-

 Recreation & Fun-

 

 

SUCCESS IN LIFE SCALE SCORE =                                                           

10-25   =  CRISIS LIVING LEVEL                 25-50   =  UNHEALTHY LIVING LEVEL

50-75   =  HEALTHY LIVING LEVEL             75-100 =  OPTIMAL LIVING LEVEL

 

Every change brings a chance to self-improve and develop in countless ways, that’s why I’m sharing these insights with you now.  I want you to benefit from the hidden power of change in your life every single day.  As you read these insights, think about your own situation and the changes you are facing right now, as well as the changes you need to make over the next few months in order to achieve greater success.

Plan on using a highlighter to underline or circle the insights that reveal a part of you that is sick of feeling stuck in the same old pattern and is ready for a new perspective on change.  Then take those highlighted concepts and begin to reshape them into action steps that you can use for guidance and motivation in your own journey of harnessing the hidden power of change.

  • Change is common.  Taking positive action about it is rare.
  • Change is the most common element in life, just like the atom, which is the most common element in the universe.  It’s everywhere and in everything but only a few studied it to understand how to harness the power of splitting an atom to develop massive amounts of energy- the energy of the universe itself!  This common element had within it the power to develop – or – destroy the world.  It’s the same for you and me, since the way that we deal with change will make our world a better place or lead to destroying it.
  • Every little change makes big change possible.  That’s why you have to do little things differently every day to see big things change over time.
  • Everyone is moving forward but not everyone is on the same track. That’s why some people always look busy but never seem to accomplish much.
  • Since change is the most common factor in life why do so many people fear it? They realize that they can’t completely control it so they completely give up. When you learn to manage change instead of avoid it, you regain control of yourself and then have the power to change the situation.
  • Change is the most basic element of life however; it is so common that it is often overlooked.  That’s why most people dismiss change as another misery in life to manage around.  Leaders who learn to boldly confront change and take steps to master it find amazing focus and meaning.
  • Change creates energy. It can either “psych you up” with heightened motivation to take action, or “psych you out” with fear and anxiety. Leaders maximize this hidden power of change to gain strength in difficult times.
  • When a leader awakens to see how fast change actually moves, they gain the ability to zoom past others like they were asleep.  At first this is exciting and fun to have the ability to move so fast; then it becomes increasingly frustrating. Because the goal of a leader is to use the power of change to wake others up instead of just selfishly using that power to manipulate others.
  • Crisis reveals who you are- what you do about the crisis reveals who you will be.
  • Comfort doesn’t bring change, comfort brings complacency.  Only two things bring about radical and dynamic change- crisis and choice.  One requires courage to boldly face issues and the other requires confidence to take bold action.
  • Life is changing at lightning speed. Change with it at lightning speed and you will find amazing success; wait for it and you’ll be left in the dust of those who took a chance and moved to a new level of success.
  • Leaders who say, “let’s wait and see” are really saying, “I’m too weak to express my opinion,” since “wait and see” usually means “wait and sink.”
  • Systems are the key to success or failure in life; change the system- and you change your life!
  • Big change creates a chance to build big confidence from taking bold action; instead of just building more complacency by choosing avoidance.
  • Change is the only method you can use to cash a reality check.
  • Understanding change is the key to building a good life- mastering change is the key to building a great legacy.
  • How well you respond to change is the best indicator of how successfully you will live.
  • If everything is changing, then you have a tremendous advantage if you are changing with it, since the gap between the changers and non-changers is growing every minute.
  • People who master change will always be in demand as leaders, because as they grow stronger, people around them who haven’t changed will need their guidance more than ever. This gap between the ‘have’s’ and the ‘have not’s will grow dramatically in the future.
  • Since everything is changing faster than ever, how come everyone isn’t changing faster than ever to keep up?
  • Change forces you to make quick choices; so figure out now what you believe is right in order to make the right choice when it happens. You can’t wait on this, so do it now.
  • Fast and furious, slow and steady or ignorance and bliss are all ways to manage change. Since the way you manage change is the way you manage your life, if you want to figure out how successful someone will be in the future, just watch how they deal with change today.
  • Excuses are ways to avoid taking responsibility-which leads to criticism of others; reasons are ways to accept responsibility and lead to changing yourself instead of trying to change others.
  • We build our future one day at a time by how wisely we manage the change happening around us today.
  • Fame doesn’t equal fortune, which is why so many celebrities end up broke.  They banked their futures on the myth that popularity brings profits instead of reinventing themselves through the process of continual self-improvement and change.
  • Some people would rather keep the people in their life under control by never risking a change, than to push forward and hear those same people boldly cheer for them as they take the risk to move forward toward achieving a positive difference.
  • You control change by the way you control your choices.  You have the power to break the patterns that have held you back, and that power is wrapped up in one word, “choice.”
  • Everything in life is changing quickly so everyone in life has to be changing fast to keep up, or risk being run over and left behind. Few will change fast, and those few will be the leaders.
  • Change can lead to a crisis, which is stressful; or to a choice, which is also stressful; and staying the same creates the highest levels of stress! When you risk taking control of the changes around you, stress goes down as your strength and confidence goes up. Good trade.
  • Most people run from change, leaders run toward it.  They know that the courage required to run toward change is the down payment for the success they will experience on the other side of it.
  • The difference between a challenge or crisis is based on your perspective of the problem, the resources available to you and most importantly how well you respond to change.
  • The old saying “only the strong survive” is true- and real strength comes from facing the crisis instead of figuring out who to blame.
  • Change reveals your weak spots that needed attention anyway; you just weren’t aware of it.  This is the greatest secret of change- pressure points the way to personal growth.
  • The size of the change shows the size of the problem that you have to deal with and the size of the team needed to manage it.  Big change can’t be mastered by one person; and was never designed to be handled alone.  That’s why you have to ask for help when things are changing rapidly instead of slipping into silence.
  • An unexpected change feels like an explosion inside-it’s stressful, scary and stretches you in ways you didn’t anticipate.  The end result of this process is strength as you stick with it.
  • Life is about change and change is stressful.  How you deal with the stress will make you better or it will continue to build until you have to deal with it anyway.  There is no strength without overcoming significant amounts of stress.
  • Mr. Goodwrench is right-you gotta pay.  Paying now is difficult, waiting to pay later is usually disastrous because the price is always much greater. Paying now is the only way to successfully manage change.
  • Surrender is the key to solve the anxiety of change, so learn to flow with change instead of fleeing from it or trying to fight it.  Change your mind set about this process and you will just about eliminate worry and anxiety from your life.
  • Since you cannot grow without changing- learn to master the change process early in life in order to achieve early success.
  • The process of life is changing incredibly fast, and that’s stressful, but if you press through the stress, you will always gain strength and success.
  • Move from frustration to fulfillment by changing your mindset about making the right choice in a difficult situation.
  • Life is about change and change is stressful, as you press through the stress you will become strong.
  • Every change involves a risk and the greater the change, the greater the risk.  But great rewards require bold action, so take the risk to change and you will be boldly rewarded.
  • Making a positive change in your life today is going to be painful, but the long term payoff is powerful.
  • Avoiding change doesn’t make it go away, it makes it grow bigger and you still have to deal with it, so tackle it now, while it’s small enough to manage.
  • Be direct with change and you will take charge of your life.
  • Change often forces you to face the things that you probably needed to face anyway.
  • Change will test you. How you react to the change determines if you pass to go to the next level of growth, which will require more change!
  • Every change involves a choice-face it and grow-or avoid it and get stuck.  This is your chance to choke up or buck up!
  • Change is hard, but not changing is always harder.
  • If you face change you have a chance of making a difference.  If you don’t face it you never will, and will likely let life pass you by.
  • You can’t control change, but you can control your reaction to it.
  • Change involves the cycle of fighting for control, feeling like you are losing control, surrendering control and making the choice to allow God full control your life.
  • Change cycle: Life = change = stress = strength = success; so as you master stress the successes come faster and more frequently.
  • Every change tests what you believe.  If you wiggle out of facing the test today, it just comes back bigger next time so face the change, take the test and show the world what you believe.
  • When change happens you have a choice- manage it and grow stronger, or avoid it and grow weaker.
  • Reacting to change wisely improves every part of your life-reacting foolishly destroys your life. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer all based on what they do with change.
  • Change is temporary and usually comes from unexpected circumstances. Confidence is lasting and usually comes from strategically planned choices.
  • Crisis forces change which is good for everyone but never really appreciated by anyone.
  • Changing your spouse is impossible-changing your situation is possible and changing yourself gives you the strength to say “I’m-possible”. Everything is different when you make the decision to change.
  • When you stop spending your energy trying to change the people in your life who don’t want to change, you discover a hidden source of power for personal change in your own life.
  • Stop trying to change!  Decide to either do it or not do it, but quit telling yourself and others that you are trying.  When you’re trying-you’re lying.
  • Some people spend all their time trying to change others because they fear changing themselves.  However, when you overcome that fear and change yourself it forces the people around you to change as well.
  • When you make a dramatic change, it forces the people around you to make a dramatic change as well.  They have to change along with you, or they must leave- either way the relationship is never the same.
  • Unexpected change will happen- so get ready now to manage it when it comes; which will always be sooner than later.
  • You can try to escape change or you can equip and get ready to face it, either way you have to make a choice about dealing with change.
  • Changing yourself is hard work, because you have to make right choices in the face of possible rejection and failure.  Not changing yourself only brings a greater chance for even greater rejection and failure.
  • Change what you can, (like exercising to lose weight), instead of what you can’t (like trying to stretch yourself taller to hide the weight by shifting it around or buying magic ‘fat burner’ pills).  That’s why you can grow stronger with the power of personal change in spite of any obstacle or setback.  Remember- you always have options.
  • When you make a bold choice to change, it brings an immediate sense of confidence, control & energy.  The decision to change gives you a huge boost in mental power and strength to overcome obstacles.
  • If you avoid making the choice to change, you get confusion which leads to chaos. When you take bold action and choose to change you get confidence which leads to success.
  • Change yourself or change the system.  People like to discuss or criticize the system, because it feels safer than taking the courage to risk something new and in the process change themselves.
  • Control change now, or it will be controlling you later.
  • When you avoid making a relationship change in order to avoid relationship conflict, you guarantee that there will be more conflict than you ever dreamed possible.  Better to deal with the changes now on your terms and with your time frame, than let it build up into a power struggle full of conflict that always explodes when you least expect it.
  • When someone brings the “worst” out of you in a relationship, let the experience challenge your weakest points to change.  Don’t let their personality problems get in the way of your progress and growth.  Grow before you go.
  • If you want to experience dramatic change in your life it can only come from improving every day.  There are no instant plans for maturity.
  • The things you control, are the things that you can immediately change-   if you have the courage to face them and take action!
  • Most people know what needs to change in their life- they just lack the courage to boldly face it and do something about it.
  • It’s easier live in fear than to find the courage of Todd Beamer who empowered a nation to change when he faced the 9/11 terrorists with the words “Let’s Roll”.
  • Whoever said, “If present trends continue” didn’t understand change. That’s why you can’t look back at trends and accurately predict the future, it changes too fast.  Learn from the past, study where you are today and get ready for the new trends ahead.  As John Maxwell says, “Yesterday ended last night.”
  • Trust is everything & everything builds trust or it builds distrust.  That’s why every relationship is getting stronger or weaker every day based on the choices you make today.  You always control your side of relationships, both personally and professionally.  Change your side of the situation before you criticize the other side; that way your integrity and self-respect continues to grow strong, in spite of the difficulty or problems.
  • Trust takes a long time to build, a short time to lose, and then a long time to build.  So whichever way you turn, you have to be building trust.
  • Facing change has always been the fastest way to achieve greatness in life. That’s why we remember the names of Edison, Ford, Carnegie or Disney instead of equally talented people living during the same era who were afraid to take the chance to make a change.
  • This is your time to change!

So, what insights have you gained from this quick study of the subject of change, and more importantly, what are you going to do about it …today? Now?

I’ve studied what people say when they are facing the end of their life, and noticed that they find their greatest satisfaction from areas they took the positive action to change.  Relationships that grew strong, houses or businesses they built, financial security they achieved and then wisely invested, health and happiness from doing something different to leave a positive legacy.  Those were the things that people smiled about as they faced eighty years’ worth of life.

What about you?  Have you thought about the value of making positive changes over a lifetime?  If you begin today to move forward and face your problems with the hidden power of change, it will get you off the road of complacency and comfort and move you toward a better life.  A life that will be scary at first, but leads to counting blessings instead of problems because you had enough courage to risk moving forward to face and deal with change; instead of staying stuck and being destroyed by it.

I challenge you to begin that process today as if your life depended on it, because it does!  Real life is lost when you try to avoid dealing with change, that’s why some people have the same problems at fifty-five that they did at twenty-five.  They just got older on the outside instead of growing up on the inside.  When they say they have had a problem for ‘their whole life’ it’s a lie! Life isn’t over yet, so you can’t have a problem every day of life- unless you are dead!

This is your time to break away from the crowd, take a risk and move toward change.  Even taking one step is a change from the way you used to live, so take it! Take it and know that when you do, the right people will come along side you to help; after you make the first move toward change- never before.  You see, God is always on time with the people, ideas, capital or whatever resource you need to change, but He always waits on us to take the first step.  That may explain why Jesus would always ask the sick people he was about to heal one simple question.  “What would you have me to do for you?”  He asked before He healed.

Now it’s your turn to experience the supernatural power of change.  What do you want to change?  What prayer do you want answered so badly that you can taste it?  What area of life is about to explode with growth and potential in your life?  There is a tremendous power in change but it waits on you.

Success in your life is always waiting on you and you alone.  Are you ready?  I believe this is your time, that’s why you have read this far as you considered making a positive change in your own life.  However, there is no power in a coach telling you to change, because the power is in your movement and your action.  Change is waiting on you, because when you believe enough to take the first step, the power will grow inside of you to take the next one.  Change grows with every positive action you take, as does your personal power.

Here’s a warning for you though.  It will be a lot harder than you think when you begin to honestly face the weaknesses that are crying out for change in your life, both personally and professionally.  Not only will it be painful to do this, but you can’t do it alone so you will need to take action to involve other healthy people   .  Go find a coach, counselor, mentor, book, tape, CD, seminar, or even a fellow struggler who is motivated enough to risk making a change and ask them to come alongside you in the journey of changing instead of complaining.

Here’s another warning!  Know that some will come against you to criticize your progress, because your growth makes them feel uncomfortable and it exposes the weaknesses in their life that they need to take action on.  They may attack you, your motives, your character, and especially your dreams of a better life. The bigger the change you make, the more they may come against you!  Don’t stop my friend, Press on anyway.

Sadly, this will especially be true for those who are the closest to you.  Be ready for their attacks, since it’s not really about you, it’s about the discomfort they feel about making change in their life.  Don’t slow down- don’t stop…just keep growing and changing and pray for them to do the same, since the momentum from your positive growth might challenge them to do the same.  God wants them to change too, that’s why He sent you to lead the way.  So don’t wait on them, just keep growing every day as you draw from the hidden power of change.

As you take this positive action in your life, be prepared for one more surprising thing. Everyone around you, including total strangers, will begin to praise you in amazement because of how quickly and powerfully your life has become one of strength and significance.  Everyone will be surprised at your progress except God, who designed you for greatness a long time ago. It was inside you the whole time! Your difficult life experiences opened up your mind to the new possibilities that are only available from the hidden power of change.

 

Reprint Permission- If this article helped you, you are invited to share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

“Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2013), To receive this valuable weekly resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005

About the author- Dwight Bain is dedicated to helping people achieve greater results. He is a Nationally Certified Counselor, Certified Life Coach and Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. He partners with the media and organizations to make a positive difference in our culture. Access more counseling and coaching resources designed to save you time by solving stressful situations by visiting his counseling blog with over 500 complimentary articles and special reports atwww.LifeWorksGroup.org

The Lettermen Concert Discount

The Lettermen will be performing tonight and tomorrow night at St. Margaret Mary Church.  There is a Christmas show tonight and a Broadway show tomorrow night.  The proceeds will benefit local homeless charities.  A special promo code is available for Z listeners to get a 50% discount.  Just enter “Z88.3” at the checkout, and you’ll get half off of your tickets

A dozen gift-giving ideas from the Orlando Sentinel test kitchen

by Heather McPherson

Edible presents are not only easy to make, they are inexpensive and can extend the holiday spirit well into the new year. Here are a dozen gift-giving ideas from the Orlando Sentinel test kitchen. Best of all, none requires playing bumper cars in a mall parking lot on Dec. 24. Priceless!!

1. Homemade cranberry vinegar. Combine 12 ounces fresh cranberries with 48 ounces white distilled vinegar. If desired, add crushed fresh mint or roughly chopped rosemary. Let stand overnight. Boil vinegar mixture, uncovered, 3 minutes. Fill sterilized jars with cleaned fresh cranberries. Using a long skewer, stuff a sprig of fresh mint or rosemary into the jar. When vinegar mixture is completely cool, strain liquid into containers. Let sit for a week and the red color will intensify.
Attach a card with instructions on how to make cranberry vinegar: This ruby-colored vinegar can be used in marinades, vinaigrettes or any recipe that calls for a red-wine vinegar. Store container in a cool, dark place 2 months or refrigerated for longer storage.

2. Homemade spice mix to pair with olive oil for bread dipping. In a sterilized jar, combine 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper, 1 tablespoon black pepper, 1 tablespoon dried oregano, 1 tablespoon dried rosemary, 1 tablespoon dried basil, 1 tablespoon dried parsley, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 1 tablespoon garlic-minced and 1 teaspoon salt. Shake well to combine.
On gift tag write: Spoon 1 tablespoon of mixture on a small plate. Pour extra-virgin olive oil over spices and mix together. Serve with warm bread to dip in the mixture.

3. Honey mint chocolate sauce. In a small saucepan, combine 11/2 cups honey, 1/4 cup creme de menthe liqueur and 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally; remove from heat. Cool 10 minutes. Pour into sterilized glass jars; seal tightly.
On gift tag write: Reheat sauce before serving and spoon over ice cream, fresh fruit or angel food cake. Store up to 1 month in refrigerator.

4. Chocolate dipped apricots. Melt commercial chocolate dipping disks as directed on package. Dunk dried apricots halfway into liquid chocolate. Let cool on parchment paper until chocolate hardens. Package in an airtight container.

5. Festive fruit jam. Sterilize 12 (8-ounce) jars and lids in boiling water for 10 minutes. Let simmer while making jam. In a saucepan, combine 21/2 quarts fresh or thawed frozen strawberries (roughly chopped), 12 ounces cranberries (chopped), 2 (2-ounce) packages powdered fruit pectin and 1 teaspoon margarine. Bring to a boil. Stir in 5 pounds white sugar. Return to a boil. Cook 1 minute; remove from heat. Quickly fill jars to within 1/2 inch from top. Wipe rims clean. Put on lids. Invert jars for 15 minutes to help them seal. Adapted from allrecipes.com.

6. Rum-soaked kumquats or apricots. Marinate chopped fruit in rum. Package in sterilized jars.
On gift tag write: Spoon kumquats over frozen vanilla yogurt or angel food cake. Store up to 2 months in refrigerator.

7. Scented hot pads. Between the batting layers in a homemade hot pad, stuff 1/2 cup whole cloves, whole allspice, broken cinnamon sticks, star anise or rosemary (or a prepared potpourri mixture).

8. Peanut butter truffles.Blend 1 1/2 cups peanut butter with 1/2 cup soft butter and 16 ounces powdered sugar. Roll into 1-inch balls. Refrigerate until chilled. Melt white chocolate dipping disks as directed on package. Using a skewer to hold the peanut butter ball, dunk the spheres into the liquid mixture. Immediately sprinkle with colored sugars or edible glitter (sold in craft stores). Let dry on parchment paper.

9. Peanut brittle. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. In a heavy-bottomed pan, over medium heat, bring to a boil, 1 cup white sugar, 1/2 cup light corn syrup, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 cup water. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in 1 cup peanuts. Set candy thermometer in pan. Stir frequently until temperature reaches 300 F. Remove from heat; stir in 2 tablespoons soft butter and 1 teaspoon baking soda. Pour onto prepared cookie sheet. With 2 forks, lift and pull mixture into rectangle about 13-by-14 inches. Cool to harden. Snap into pieces.

10. Butterscotch cookies in a jar. In a quart canning jar, layer ingredients in the following order: 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 3/4 cup packed brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 cup white sugar and 2 cups old-fashioned oats. Fill container to top with butterscotch baking chips.
On a gift tag, write: Heat oven to 350 F. Empty cookie mix into a mixing bowl; thoroughly blend. Add 3/4 cup butter, 1 egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Mix well. Shape into 1-inch balls. Place on a cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Bake for 11-13 minutes until edges are lightly browned. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet.

11. Bean soup mix: Layer different colored dried beans in quart canning jar.
Attach a gift card that says: Soak contents of jar overnight in water. The next day combine soaked beans, 2 (15-ounce) cans chopped tomatoes, vegetable or beef broth as desired and seasonings to taste.

12. Cranberry white chocolate clusters. Line a cookie sheet with foil. Place contents of a 12-ounce package of white chocolate morsels in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium-high for 1 minute, stopping to stir. Microwave an additional 10 to 20 seconds if needed. Remove and stir until chocolate is completely melted. Add contents of a 6-ounce package sweetened dried cranberries and 1/2 cup chopped pecans. Stir until thoroughly combined. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet. Let harden at room temperature or chill in refrigerator 15 minutes. Store in sealed container and refrigerate. Can be stored up to two weeks. Makes about 16 clusters. Recipe from Ocean Spray.

Breaking the Cycle of “Holiday Blues”

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 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; then 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; basically the whole nine yards of Christmas chaos.

The movie makes us laugh because there are elements that hold true in many holiday customs that many people follow. Holiday traditions may not have much to do with faith in Christ, or even common sense, but still become a passionate pursuit for millions of people desperately seeking the perfect holiday. Holiday stress doesn’t create perfection or peace, but it does take the focus off the simple message of the Christ child to put it onto a thousand other things that don’t have much to do with Christmas at all.

The time between Thanksgiving and New Years cause people to feel really good or really bad without much room in the middle. The focus of this special report is for those in-between to not slide into the holiday blues and lose the true joy that Christmas was meant to bring.

 

A Blueprint for Making the Holiday’s more Miserable

The holidays can make depressed people feel sadder, people with addictions to have more cravings, worried people turn into a bundle of nerves and sadly it’s the time of year that many give up on their mental and physical health because they are just too “busy” to take care of themselves. The solution is not to ignore Thanksgiving or Christmas but rather to realize it is imperative to set holiday boundaries.

People may not understand the words “holiday boundary” but it is basically a line during the holiday’s that marks a limit. Many counselors point out that depression, cravings for substances and anxiety symptoms all worsen between Thanksgiving and New Years Day because people are unable to say “no” to all of the extra demands on their time, money, and energy. Bottom line- the holidays don’t bring gifts to many people, it just brings them more problems.

Some families are so uncomfortable about hurting the feelings of their family and friends so they keep silent and tolerate situations or endure guilt-ridden obligations that occur during the holidays. Sometimes that silent tolerance makes a complex situation much worse, while all of the dysfunction steals the real joy the holidays were meant to bring.

 

It is essential to take care of yourself by having the courage to set boundaries in key areas

You can set limits on spending because it’s not necessary to try to stimulate the entire economy by buying gifts for every relative, neighbor and postman in your neighborhood. It is okay to say “No” and remember that giving your “presence” is often a much more thoughtful gift than just sending “presents.”

Did you know the average American will gain 6 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years Day? That’s a pound per week! You are allowed to say “No” to overeating or over drinking at holiday parties and you are allowed to keep a healthy lifestyle pattern with exercise and especially sleep. Many people starve themselves of sleep by trying to decorate, wrap or travel 20 hours per day. It is dangerous to be sleep deprived and can be life threatening when drinking and driving. Holiday boundaries can keep you and your family safe when you enforce them.

 

How to break the pattern of Holiday Blues

Have you ever watched someone have a “melt down” during the holidays? If you aren’t familiar with this expression, (which I learned from our teenagers), it means to be so totally stressed you can’t think or function normally. So, back to understanding why people ‘melt down during the holidays’ since this self-destructive process steals motivation and makes life miserable. It makes no sense.

Why would people make impulsive choices during Christmas vacation that makes their life worse? Even more important is how to spot the cycle that steals energy and creativity to do something about it?

Here is a blueprint to show how ignoring basic boundaries can lead to a bad case of the holiday blues. Good news, once you figure out the formula you can learn to do the opposite, which will allow you to enjoy every day of the holiday season, instead of feeling miserable while enduring it.

 

Ignoring these Boundaries is a Blueprint to create big-time ‘Holiday blues’

First understand there really is a process to create a “Holiday Meltdown” experience where life goes from bad to worse. It follows a series of predictable steps. People suffering from the Holiday blues have conditioned themselves to follow a pattern of behavior that makes every day of the Christmas season chaotic and potentially every holiday tradition a catastrophe.

They never allow themselves to relax and count blessings during the holidays because their total focus is on pleasing others. They don’t actually have good days, just less miserable ones where nothing goes right because they usually are looking for the worst possible scenario. It’s like the old saying, “Cheer up- things could get worse. So I cheered up and sure enough, things got worse.”

If the only things you are searching for are more problems this time of year then you can be sure that you will find more than enough to stay stressed out and afraid. Here are the basics of the ‘holiday blues’ which are mapped out in a reverse blueprint process and remember the more elements of this blueprint you have in place between Thanksgiving and New Years Day, the worse you will feel and the worse your decisions will be- guaranteed.

 

Spiritual Strategies to create Significant Emptiness and build the Blues-

1) Ignore God and anything that would inspire you to see beyond yourself. No Bible reading, no prayer, no journaling or meditation about the blessings of your life, which would stimulate gratitude. Avoid any type of function that takes you out of your own world or that might make you aware of the greater needs in the rest of the world. Even though you are doing many religious things, mostly focus on yourself while ignoring everyone else.

2) Skip going to any peaceful church or concert where you might find quiet inspiration to focus on hectic shopping malls. Make sure to skip any activity that places you around positive or prayerful people. This includes helping the homeless or reaching out to other families who may be facing tough times this Christmas. As long as you stay focused on yourself and your problems you can feel empty, afraid and alone which will worsen the Holiday Blues.

 

Media Noise to block the real Message of the Season

1) Focus on the evening news and current events, especially big tragedies or global events you can’t do anything about. This approach is guaranteed to discourage you with negative media messages which often are full of depressing images that discourage you with a continual flood of bad news. That way you are focused on everything except the birth of Jesus. This focus on bad news can speed feeling a big case of Holiday Blues.

2) Make Hollywood celebrities your main focus, especially if they have multi-million dollar lifestyles you could never hope to obtain. Keep up with the drama of every tiny detail of their lives; in fact spend more time studying what is happening in the lives of famous strangers this Christmas than you do in understanding what is happening in your own family life.

 

Physical Steps to Fuel the Holiday Blues

1) Ignore your own health. You can do this faster by neglecting to get enough sleep. Push your body to the limits and never sit still to take quiet times to just sit and rest. Follow the rule that ‘burning out is better than rusting out.’ (Forgetting that either way- you are just out)

2) Stay idle. Sit still and watch TV or the Internet; but never exercise or move around. In fact, stay inside most of the time and never allow yourself to see sunshine or feel the wind on your face over the holiday break. Nature is to be considered evil because being outside often reminds people of the beauty of creation. Use amusing entertainment to replace all forms of physical fitness.

3) Eat anything you want, especially large portions of comfort food like cakes, pies, candy and cookies followed by soda with lots of sugar and caffeine. Remember the rule – the worse the food is for you, the worse you will feel; and remember, drinking lots of alcohol is guaranteed to make things worse. Avoid anything healthy or nutritious if you want to suffer with the Holiday Blues for months.

 

Emotional and Financial Methods to make Holiday Stress worse

1) Keep all your fears inside and never take time to release pressure in healthy ways. No journaling, no mapping out insecurities on paper to prevent feeling panic. And make sure to never set goals that would give you a positive point of view in facing the future. Stuff your stress to ruin your day and make you a mess by trying to use money to manage mood in you and your family.

2) Don’t ever set a holiday budget or create a realistic financial spending plan for gifts– in fact, just let your financial obligations pile up until you feel like you are drowning in debt and financial fears come January. Not having any idea where you stand financially is sure to make you feel worse and prolong the Holiday Blues well into the springtime.

3) Never tell anyone what keeps you up at night, in fact, avoid any coach, counselor, pastor, family member co-worker or friend who might be a safe person who could help you process your fears to find greater strength. Go it alone to improve your chances of feeling miserable as a martyr this Christmas.

 

How do successful people ‘snap out of it’ to find new energy in the New Year?

Can you relate to feeling overwhelmed, undervalued, empty, lonely, unloved, stressed, depressed or afraid during the holidays? Then you have likely followed the ‘Blueprint Holiday Blues; (BHB), but don’t feel bad because most people have some degree of trying to please others which drives them toward tolerating irresponsible behavior instead of confronting it and holding the other people accountable. This is why so many people can relate to the Blueprint for Holiday Blues.

Some of my worst holidays were spent with a dark cloud of moodiness overhead that I made worse by following the blueprint for holiday blues. I was too focused on me, myself and I instead of honestly looking at the challenges directly and seeking outside help to cope.

Successful people have learned to identify the ‘blueprint for holiday blues’ so they can make rapid adjustments to feel better fast. The real problem is when you feel so exhausted and beat up by unrealistic schedules that tomorrow look’s worse than yesterday and forget about New Year Resolutions! So what about you -do you wake up refreshed this time of year with positive energy to face a new day or do you live exhausted and ‘stressed out’ day after day?

 

Moving from being ‘Freaked Out’ during the holidays to Feeling Good Again

Successful people take positive action to break the pattern that creates ‘holiday blues’. Everyone faces challenges and tough days but some face them with strength by doing the opposite of the formula listed above. I’ve seen people try it both ways, and ruin some day of their life because of being so moody. Thankfully if you have healthy people around you they can confront you with verbal boundaries so you can change. People who say, ‘snap out of it’, ‘get on track’, ‘you were meant for more than this and Christmas is bigger than your pity-party right now.’

Do you have someone who comes alongside to challenge you with positive steps to break the ‘holiday blues’ process? On your worst days do you go it alone, or allow safe people to come close and help? If you don’t have those people know that my purpose in life is to add value to others, so until you believe in you, I’ll believe in you. God placed you on this planet for greater things than you could ever imagine!

Please let today be the day you break the blueprint for the ‘holiday blues’ to really embrace feeling good. No matter what you are facing today, you will face it better by doing the opposite of the blueprint listed above so you can develop spiritual, emotional, financial and physical strength. You really do have the power to change and make today better. Choose to set some boundaries and break the cycle and when you do, tell others what you learned so they can break out of the ‘holiday blues’ too. That would be the best Christmas present of all.

 

 

About the author- Dwight Bain is dedicated to helping people achieve greater results. He is a Nationally Certified Counselor and Certified Life Coach in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. Access over 500 helpful Christian Counseling and Life Coaching resources at his website, www.LifeworksGroup.org

Reprint Permission- If this article helped you, you are invited to share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. 

A Christmas Prayer

by Max Lucado • December 14

Dear Jesus,

It’s a good thing you were born at night. This world sure seems dark. I have a good eye for silver linings. But they seem dimmer lately.

These killings, Lord.  These children, Lord.  Innocence violated.  Raw evil demonstrated.

The whole world seems on edge. Trigger-happy. Ticked off. We hear threats of chemical weapons and nuclear bombs. Are we one button-push away from annihilation?

Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas.  But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were nightshift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod’s jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty.  Dark with violence.

Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt. You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene.

Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won’t you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger.

This Christmas, we ask you, heal us, help us, be born anew in us.

Hopefully,

Your Children

Community Crisis Recovery Guide: Strategies to rebuild you and your kids after a tragedy

By Dwight Bain

A community crisis can destroy entire communities in just a few minutes, while the recovery process to rebuild from a major critical incident may take weeks or months to sort through. The more you know about how to survive and rebuild after the crisis, the faster you can take positive action to get your personal and professional life back on track. Since community crisis events like extreme acts of violence or terrorism are unpredictable it requires a different course of action from natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, fires and floods. What can you do right now to cope with the psychological impact of a major community crisis?

Dealing directly with your emotions will reduce the tension and stress on you, which allows you to have more energy to deal with a difficult situation. However, if you stuff your fears and frustrations in a major community crisis, your emotions can quickly blow up without warning. Exploding in rage on your children, your coworkers or your marriage partner will only make a difficult situation worse. Community crisis events are a terrible situation full of loss and difficulty for everyone. By taking action now you can move beyond feeling overwhelmed by intense stress, anger or confusion. As you follow the insight from this recovery guide, you will be taking positive steps to rebuild with the focused energy of an even stronger life for you and your family after the emergency service workers pack up and go home because your community has recovered.

To best survive a major community crisis, you need a strong combination of three key elements

- healthy coping skills

- healthy supports and a

- healthy perspective

While things will never be the same as they were before the community crisis, (like a mass shooting); the following guidelines will give you the key elements needed to get past the overwhelming stress and to find even greater strength on the other side.

What are the dangerous warning signs of stress overload?

A major community crisis affects everyone however; it becomes dangerous to our health when the stress goes on for an extended period of time. Major stress can affect adults, children, the elderly and even pets, so it is important to be alert to watch for the danger signs of the psychological condition called, ‘Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder’, (commonly referred to as PTSD), in yourself, your family members and coworkers. These symptoms include any dramatic change in emotions, behavior, thought patterns or physical symptoms over the next few days, weeks or even months. Since community crisis events are a terribly stressful time for everyone and often remain stressful for days or weeks to come, there are a number of factors to be aware of to keep yourself and those who you care about safe.

Stress Warning Signs

These signs are indicators that the intense stress from the critical incident is beginning to overwhelm the individual. The longer the stress symptoms occur-the greater the severity of the traumatic event on the individual. This does not imply craziness or personal weakness; rather, it simply indicates that the stress levels from the storm were too powerful for the person to manage and their body is reacting to the abnormal situation of having survived a major trauma.

It’s normal to feel completely overwhelmed by a community crisis like a mass shooting or natural disaster; however there are danger signs to watch for in yourself or others that may indicate psychological trauma. Adults or children who display any of the following stress symptoms may need additional help dealing with the events of this crisis. It is strongly recommended that you seek the appropriate medical or psychological assistance if you see a lot of the physical, emotional, cognitive or behavioral symptoms listed below in you, your coworkers, or someone in your family or home, especially if these symptoms weren’t present before the storm.

Physical Symptoms:
Chills, thirst, fatigue, nausea, fainting, vomiting, dizziness, weakness, chest pain, headaches, elevated blood pressure, rapid heart rate, muscle tremors, difficulty breathing, shock symptoms, and so on.

Emotional Symptoms:
Fear, guilt, grief, panic, denial, anxiety, irritability, depression, apprehension, emotional shock, and feeling overwhelmed, loss of emotional control, and so on.

Cognitive Symptoms:
Confusion, nightmares, uncertainty, hyper-vigilance, suspiciousness, intrusive images, poor problem solving, poor abstract thinking, poor attention/memory and concentration, disorientation of time, places or people, difficulty identifying objects or people, heightened or lowered alertness, and so on.

Behavioral Symptoms:
Withdrawal, antisocial acts, inability to rest, intensified pacing, erratic movements, changes in social activity, changes in speech patterns, loss of or increase of appetite, increased alcohol consumption, and so on.

If you are in doubt about these symptoms in your life, or someone you care about, it is wise to seek the care of a physician or certified mental health professional. Better to actively deal with the stressful emotions directly to help yourself and your loved ones to immediately cope with this crisis because these emotions tend to worsen and get more intense if left untreated. Remember that there are many experienced professionals who can help you and your children recover during a time of crisis. You do not have to go through this alone.

Take action now to prevent stress from continuing to overwhelm you or the people you care about. Call a trusted friend to talk through it, reach out to clergy, or call your family doctor or counselor. If you don’t know someone to call about these emotional issues, you can reach out for assistance by calling telephone hotlines which are offered at no cost to you. These numbers are often posted by local media, hospitals, the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army or FEMA. If you, or someone you care about are feeling overwhelmed by stress, anxiety, guilt or grief it’s important to make the call for assistance now to learn how to get past the pressure to begin to feel ‘okay’ again.

How does a community crisis event affect kids? 

It depends on the age of the child. The younger the child, the more they look to their parents for emotional security and strength. If a Mom or Dad are “shell-shocked” or “numb” and not able to manage their own emotions or responsibilities; the child will feel that pressure and become very confused and further stressed. Remember, it’s normal to be overwhelmed by a community crisis like a mass shooting. This is why it’s so important to take care of yourself in order to take care of your children and those your care about through the long period of recovery and rebuilding after the storm.
Think about the advice given on commercial airliners to parents traveling with small children. “Should there be an unexpected cabin de-pressurization; oxygen masks will drop from the ceiling. Place the mask over your nose and mouth like this and then place the mask over the mouth and nose of those around you needing assistance.” Take care of your own emotional needs first, and then you will be in a stronger position to help those around you. If you feel overwhelmed in giving your children or others who may depend on you for support, please ask for help. It’s okay to be tired, worn out and overly stressed. That’s normal after a community crisis. However, it’s not okay to ignore caring for the needs of those counting on you like children, the elderly or pets. Sometimes a parent may need to make adjustments at work or change their own schedules for a while by delegating some tasks in order to have time and energy to help their children avoid feeling more pressure from the difficult experience that surviving a major disaster brings. If you feel that your caregiver ‘tank’ is empty, let someone else help you for a while until you get your strength back. That’s best for you and for those that you care about.

When you can focus and dedicate attention to understanding the needs of young children, notice what they are saying, drawing or doing to determine if they are still feeling overly stressed from the traumatic event.

School age kids:

need to talk, draw pictures or take positive action, (like having a lemonade stand to raise money for kids just like them who may have lost loved ones or family members because of the traumatic event), so if you give them something to do to help, they can take positive action and sort through their emotions immediately.

High school age kids:

may try to act “cool” about everything, but often are more scared about the changes, losses and confusion than any other group. They are older and may need to experience a bit more “reality” at times to loosen up their ability to talk about what is happening around them. If they are willing to talk to their siblings, other family members, clergy or counselors it often doesn’t take very long before they can grow strong enough to deal with their emotions and get back to feeling like themselves again.

The greatest danger sign to be alert and aware of is by noticing any dramatic changes in behavior. If a child was always happy go lucky before the crisis event and now sits all day to watch video footage of the shooting, or other world disasters on the news channels- then you may want to figure out why they made such a dramatic shift in personality. Watch for other major changes in sleep patterns, school patterns, school performance, peer relations and so on. If you see major changes that concern you, it’s time to seek professional attention for the child with their pediatrician or with a child behavioral specialist

What are some ways to help our kids talk about the crisis?

You can reach out to children in many ways to help them deal with this stressful time. Talking, writing, drawing, or writing poetry about the experience with the disaster will make the time pass more quickly, and may even lighten someone else’s load of emotional pain and difficulty while helping you back through the process. Talking about any crisis event in life can help kids learn the basics of moving from the panic of basic survival to building strengths through problem solving.

Are there any “hidden dangers” in media that parents should be concerned about that might make the crisis worse?

Too much media exposure is dangerous for kids. It is better to get a media “news update” once or perhaps at the most, twice a day to avoid the danger of media over-exposure. Leaving the news on all the time will depress the mood of the person who hears it; since deep down inside we learn to go “numb” to the normal emotions of the stressful event, to press on and burn reserve energy in the process. If your child didn’t watch the morning news programs before the community crisis, be cautious about allowing them to watch TV news alone or having long blocks of unaccounted time with too much isolation. Best is to sort through media outlets-like television, Internet, radio or newspapers, which may contain content that is overly stressful or just too depressing for a child. Then set boundaries to protect them from additional stress in media stories, since it is important to protect their home and minds by managing the media around them.

It’s wise to move from negatives to positives in highly charged and difficult situations like a mass shooting or wide spread community disaster. We have all seen enough negative images to last a lifetime and yet the media will often play scenes from a disaster over again and again. Also, parents and kids can sit down and discuss why they really need to have so many media and entertainment services available in their homes. Many families found that not having the Internet, cable television and loud music playing in their homes while staying in a shelter allowed them to reconnect as a family with much greater communication. By sitting down and discussing these issues your home can be a more positive place, by creating more positive energy to mange the stress of recovering from this crisis situation.

Since watching other people’s problems in other parts of the country will cause more stress in an already stressful situation it’s better to focus on your responsibilities today, right here in your own community. When things in your life are strong again, you and your family won’t be as affected by the images of crisis from other places. But that’s another day, so for now as you recover, it’s better to focus on getting you and your kids though the day that you have been handed without making it harder because of the hidden stress of media overexposure.

Also, the same principles apply for the aged as for anyone else. Seniors often can spend a tremendous amount of time in front of negative media images which can be harmful to their wellbeing. Better to get involved in helping others, praying for those affected or donating to help as you can than to become overwhelmed with the stressors of others by becoming desensitized from media over-exposure.

How can I help my family get back to “normal” after a community disaster?

It may take weeks or months for people to feel that things are back to “normal.” The actual psychological impact of the storm will vary widely between people based on factors like- age, their previous experiences with crisis events and most significantly how much stress they already had in their life before the disaster. The more stress someone had in their life prior to the traumatic event, the longer it takes to recover.

Here are some immediate ways to bring order and calmness back into your life after the chaos and confusion that follows a natural disaster or community crisis like a mass shooting.

1) Reconnect in relationships:

You can’t get through a crisis alone. Since we all were impacted differently, it is vitally important to talk about the stress and pressures you have experienced with the people closest to you. Reach out to friends and family as soon as possible, and call people you haven’t heard from in a while. Just checking in to see if they are okay will only take a few minutes, but it will empower and help both of you. Simply talk about what each of you experienced through the crisis and how you got through it. Tremendous connection can occur through crisis, so this is an especially good time to reach out to friends or family who may have drifted away from your closest circle of relationships. Take action now to reach out to people with words of encouragement and support, but don’t wait for someone else to call you- since their phone may not work! Go find them and then reconnect the relationship while helping each other rebuild.

2) Rebuild your routines:

This is one of the most important factors to quickly get life back on track because we all draw strength and security from a structured daily routine. Bed time, dinner time, getting up to go to school, or work, or church or the gym to work out. To regain strength quickly identify what your normal routines were before the crisis-and then get back to them as soon as possible. Even if you are staying in a hotel, shelter or with family members for a while, stick with the rituals that you have typically followed that make up your daily lifestyle. This way you will feel the comfort of your stable and predictable routines, regardless of the stress of the many changes happening around you.

3) Reach out for faith:

In times of crisis everyone believes in the power of prayer and the importance of their faith. There is tremendous strength in knowing what you believe and living in harmony with those beliefs and values. Plugging back into your faith after a community crisis will allow you to release anxiety over the things that you know are too big for you, because you can trust God to handle them. Dedicate a few minutes or perhaps even an hour per day to quiet mediation and reflection on what matters most if you want to continue to grow strong in spite of the storm. This is especially important when you or your children may feel lost, alone or afraid. God cares and taking time to pray and release those burdens will help you make it through the rest of your day. Many churches and houses of faith have chaplains, recovery teams, support services and even financial assistance available to help their members cope with the crisis. Helping others in need is one of the greatest ways people of faith model what they believe, so avoid the tendency of being “too nice” to ask for help if you need it. Having a committed personal faith combined with the connection of a local house of worship will give you a tremendous sense of community to get through this storm as well as the ones to come.

4) Retell your story:

Young and old alike will benefit from hearing about how other people survived the trauma they experienced. There is tremendous power in telling your story; healing power for you and helpful power for others who will gain insight and strength by hearing how creative people can become through the crisis. As you speak up about what happened, it will make it easier for other family members or coworkers to talk about their feelings of loss as well. Things will never be the same as before, but life will go on and we can rebuild and get through it better together. Telling your story now will give you additional strength as well as connect you to the neighbors and friends as they share their story with you.

No matter what the size of crisis event, you can find strength on the other side. Following the action steps in this resource guide will allow you to begin building strength back into your personal and professional life no matter how big the crisis event was. As you grow stronger you can tell others, which will encourage them to press on as they rebuild their lives, right next to yours. Stronger people create stronger communities and that is the journey you have already begun. I encourage you to stay with it as you build an even stronger life after the crisis, and then reach out to others in rebuilding your community.

 

Reprint Permission- If this article helped you, you are invited to share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.

“Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2012), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit www.LifeWorksGroup.org or call 407-647-7005″

About the author- Dwight Bain is dedicated to helping people achieve greater results. He is a Nationally Certified Counselor and Certified Life Coach in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change.

Disney’s Night of Joy 2013 Line Up

If you didn’t catch it this morning, Ellis, Tyler, and Tracy announced the line up for Disney’s Night of Joy 2013.  Here it is!  Hope you’re as excited as we are!

September 6, 2013

  • Skillet
  • MercyMe
  • Michael W. Smith
  • Steven Curtis Chapman
  • Audio Adrenaline
  • Mandisa
  • for KING & COUNTRY
  • Moriah Peters
  • We As Human
  • City Harbor

 

September 7, 2013

  • Newsboys
  • TobyMac
  • Francesca Battistelli
  • Building 429
  • Group 1 Crew
  • Matthew West
  • PLUMB
  • Jamie Grace