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Ellis and Tyler

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

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.


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
  • Jamie Grace

4 Rivers Smokehouse Turkey with Bourbon Glaze

Turkey Brine

  • 1 1/2 cups kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 6 fresh sprigs thyme (or 3 tsp. dried)
  • 6 fresh sprigs of sage (or 3 tsp. dried)
  • 6 fresh sprigs of rosemary (or 3 tsp. dried)
  • 2 apples, quartered
  • 2 oranges, quartered
  • 3 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 gallons (6 quarts) apple juice or apple cider (non-alcoholic)

Combine all ingredients except fruit and herbs in a non-reactive pot and stir until mixed completely. Add fruit and herbs and keep cold. Can be prepared up to 24 hours in advance.


Smoked Turkey

  • 1 18-22 lb. turkey, thawed and cleaned (smaller turkeys will also work)
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup kosher salt
  • ¼ cup black pepper
  • tsp. ground sage
  • tsp. ground thyme
  • 3 cups apple juice in a squirt bottle
  • Charcoal, lump recommended
  • Hickory chips or chunks- soaked in water for 1 hour

Submerge turkey completely in brine and allow it to soak overnight in a refrigerator, as to not let the temperature of water to rise above 41 degrees.

Light charcoal in smoker, cover and allow temperature to reach and rest at 225 degrees.

Remove turkey from brine and pat dry with paper towel. Reserve vegetables and herbs from brine. Coat outside of turkey with oil and rub it entirely with salt, pepper, ground sage and a pinch of ground thyme. Note to also coat and season the inside cavity. Once rubbed, stuff cavity with vegetables and herbs from brine.

Add wood directly on top of hot coals to create a heavy smoke. Place turkey in smoker, cover tightly and allow it to smoke until the internal temperature of turkey thigh reaches 155 (roughly 4-6 hours).  After first hour then every hour following, spray turkey with apple juice. Note to not allow the smoker to remain open for any extended duration.

Cook the 4R Bourbon Glaze while turkey is smoking.

Monitor temperature of smoker to maintain a constant 225 degrees, more coal might be needed. Continue to monitor and add wood when initial chunks are burnt so a constant stream of smoke is maintained.

Remove turkey from smoker place in a shallow roasting pan and cover with foil or saran wrap. Allow meat to rest for 30 minutes or up to an hour. Slice, serve with 4R Bourbon Glaze and enjoy!


4R Bourbon Glaze

  • Bones from 3 smoked chicken or one large smoked turkey picked free of meat
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 2 pieces of celery, halved
  • 1 gallon of water
  • ½ cup bourbon
  • ½ cup 4 Rivers Smokehouse BBQ sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Add poultry bones, vegetables and spices to water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer uncovered for 3 hours. Pour broth through a strainer to remove all ingredients using care to capture all the liquid.  Pour broth back into pot, bring to boil and reduce by another 1/3 (approximately 4 cups).

In a separate pan, add bourbon and bring to a fast boil. Lower heat to medium and allow bourbon to reduce to a ¼ cup (about 5 minutes). Add 4R Smokehouse BBQ sauce and 1½ cups of the both and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium-low heat and continue cooking for 45 minutes until glaze is thick enough to stick to the back of your spoon. Serve warm on top Smoked Turkey.

Makes approximately 1½ cups.




Pumpkin Crisp Recipe


1 [15 ounce] can of pumpkin
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 [18 ¼ ounce] package butter-flavored yellow cake mix
1 cup butter [melted]

1. Stir together first six ingredients.  Pour into baking dish.  Sprinkle non-prepared cake mix evenly over pumpkin mixture; drizzle butter evenly over the cake mix.

2. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until golden brown.  Remove from oven, and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.  Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream.

Helping Kids Deal with Stress After Storms

By Dwight Bain, Nationally Certified Counselor & Certified Life Coach


Monster storms like Hurricanes, Tsunamis, Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Floods, Blizzards, Forest Fires and Mud Slides destroy more than communities- they destroy emotional security and stability in the lives of everyone impacted by these critical incidents, especially children. Equipping counselors with response techniques is essential so they can make a positive difference during the rebuilding process. Here are some key elements to know in serving children who have been emotionally traumatized by natural disasters.


How are children affected?   
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 parent is “shell-shocked” or psychologically “numb” and not able to manage their own emotions or responsibilities; the child feels even more pressure and becomes more confused and stressed.  Remember, it’s normal to be overwhelmed by a major natural disaster, which is why it’s so important for caregivers to take care of themselves in order to effectively take care of children through the months of recovery and rebuilding after the storm. 
Focus on the needs of Younger children by noticing what they are saying, drawing or doing to determine if they are feeling stressed from the storm. (Very small children may display developmentally inappropriate or delayed behavior which may require medical or psychiatric intervention).  School age kidsneed to talk, draw or take positive action, (like kids who didn’t lose their homes hosting a lemonade stand to raise money for kids just like them who lost everything during the disaster). 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”, yet are often more scared about the changes and losses than any other group.  They may need to experience a bit more “reality” at times to open up their ability to talk about what is happening around them.  If the situation is stable enough, older teens can help in neighborhood clean up, which connects them to others in the important task of rebuilding after the storm.  Another approach is to see if they are willing to talk with peers, siblings or family members, to build confidence in expressing their stressful emotions to others. 
Be alert for dramatic changes in behavior, such as a ‘happy-go-lucky’ child before the storm who now continually watches world disasters on the news. Focus on any dramatic shifts in personality.  Watch for major changes in sleep, dietary or appetite patterns, school performance, peer relations and so on.  If you see major changes, seek professional assessment with a pediatrician, child behavioral specialist or psychologist.  (See a full list of warning signs at www.StormStress.com).


What are some ways to help kids talk about storm stress?
Reach out to children on whichever level is most likely to connect. Talking, writing, drawing, even making up a song or puppet show about the impact of the disaster will lighten someone’s emotional pain by watching or talking about their experience. Some families use newspapers as a discussion starter, since talking about any crisis event can help kids gain confidence to move from the panic of survival to move toward building strength after the storm.


Are there “hidden media dangers” that make storm stress worse?
Media overexposure is dangerous to kids, so avoid this by limiting TV news updates.  Children or adults have experienced media overexposure when they show a depressed mood; or by going “numb” to normal emotions associated with stressful events, (e.g. no compassion or inappropriate laughter).  Carefully sort through media outlets-like TV, Internet, radio or newspapers, to screen out stressful or inappropriate content that would be depressing to a child.  Set boundaries during the rebuilding process to protect them from additional stress in media, since it is important to protect the safety of their home and minds by managing media exposure.


Watching catastrophic problems in other parts of the world causes more stress in an already stressful situation because you don’t have the power to control the very sad stories caused by these disasters. That’s why it is wise to move from negatives to positives images during highly publicized disasters like Hurricane Katrina. Parents should sit down and discuss the impact of media and create limits on any stressful images that might further stress their children.  Some families without electricity discovered that not having the distractions of Internet, cable television or loud music playing in their homes allowed them to reconnect as a family on many levels.  Openly discuss these issues so that home becomes a more positive place with more energy to mange the stress from this disaster without making things harder from the hidden stress of media overexposure.


Is it okay to talk about what happened to our family with others?
Silence is not golden in a critical incident, it’s dangerous.  One of the best things to help yourself as well as others is to tell your story.  Talk about where you were when the storm hit.  Use this same technique to help kids talk about how they made it through the natural disaster, then add the powerful element of sensory recall by asking about what the storm sounded like, smelled like, looked like, felt like or even tasted like!  Listening to the stories of others who survived brings emotional recovery faster.


This is important for everyone involved, kids, grandparents, Mom, dads, employees, employers, firefighters, police officers, nurses, teachers, students and on and on.  Everyone has a story about how they survived the killer storm and telling it helps them heal while giving others a chance to connect to family, neighbors and coworkers in a powerful way. Also, ask others, including pastors, or people helpers like counselors and nurses since many times these professionals are so busy reaching out to meet the needs of others, they neglect to take time to deal with the storm stress in their own life.


It’s normal to be tired, worn out and stressed after a natural disaster however it’s not okay to ignore caring for your own needs as a counselor. Anyone impacted by natural disasters may need to change their schedules for a while in order to take care of their own mental health.  Helping kids is important, however if your caregiver tank is empty, let someone else help until your strength comes back.  That’s best for you and those you care about since it prevents the psychological burnout caused by Storm Stress.


Reprint Permission- If this article was helpful you are invited to share it electronically or in print 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. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint and thanks for helping us to help others by spreading the word. “Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group, www.LifeWorksGroup.org eNews (Copyright, 2004-2008, by the LifeWorks Group)”

About the author- Dwight Bain is dedicated to helping people achieve greater results. He is a Nationally Certified Counselor, Certified Life Coach and Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. He is a member of the National Speakers Association and partners with media, major corporations and non-profit 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 almost 200 complimentary articles and special reports at www.LifeWorksGroup.org

School Closures

Brevard County Public Schools: BPS will be closed Friday, October 26, including extracurricular activities. Afterschool events scheduled for Thursday, October 25 are still in effect unless otherwise notified by individual school principals.

Flagler County Public Schools: Flagler county schools were already scheduled to be closed for a teacher work day on Friday, October 26.

Lake County Public Schools: Lake county schools were already scheduled to be closed for a teacher work day on Friday, October 26.

Marion County Public Schools: Marion county schools were already scheduled to be closed for a teacher work day on Friday, October 26.

Orange County Public Schools: Orange county schools were already scheduled to be closed on Friday, October 26.

Osceola County Public SchoolsAt this time, we have no expectations that we will need to close schools. If any cancellations of after-school activities or athletics are required, parents will be notified on this site and through an automated telephone call.

Seminole County Public Schools: At this time, there are no plans to close schools, cancel activities, or suspend games and/or evening events.

Sumter County Public Schools: At this time, Sumter county has not announced any plans to close schools.

Volusia County Public Schools: Schools will be OPEN Friday; however, all field trips for Friday, October 26, have been cancelled, as well as events and athletic activities scheduled after school and in the evening. Field trips, events/activities are also cancelled for Saturday, October 27. This includes indoor as well as outdoor activities. Dismissal time and extended day on Friday will not be affected. The Explorations Fair tonight (Thursday) at Mainland is open 6 – 8 pm.

Tired of Trying to Make your Marriage Work Alone?

By Dwight Bain, Nationally Certified Counselor & Certified Life Coach

Right now you know someone, probably a woman working two jobs, (not counting parenting children and running a household), who is trying to make their marriage work and they are in it alone. It may be a co-worker, a sister, a neighbor or friend at church, but you know this person, and since it’s most likely a woman let’s consider it from her point of view because she is in a tough place. So while you may see her smiling on the outside talking about her love for her man, here’s what may be going on inside that house when you aren’t there to see it.

She’s hurting more now than she ever has before. Why? Because Marriage was never meant to be done alone. So why do these women keep working without help to make their marriage work? A couple of reasons. Obviously they really love the guy on the couch who just can’t or won’t keep a job or step up to lead his family. This causes another major problem, because she doesn’t want her children to suffer or do without the basics, like new shoes, school supplies or playing little league. And so she does the only thing she can think of doing – she works, and works and then she works some more. Work is all she can think of doing because an average family needs 60-80 hours of income to take care of their home budget, which means that both parents are working 30-40 hours per week, or one person is working two jobs just trying to keep their family afloat… and that one person is exhausted.

Obviously not every man is a sitting on the couch watching sports while his wife is cooking, cleaning and trying to pay the bills, but tragically there are a lot who do and leave their wife to be the responsible one. In fact, many men are highly motivated and disciplined and go out to find something to do to support his family during tough times so his wife isn’t trying to make it work alone. He realizes that a woman draws emotional strength from knowing her husband will provide for her and the kids. She has the confidence that he will be there for her. This article isn’t about guys who dig in during tough times to live out the words of their wedding vows to be there, ‘in sickness and in health, for richer- for poorer’, no this article is about a very different kind of marriage, and one that gets much worse as time goes by. Let’s start by looking at the major problems this exhausted woman faces, and tragically, she faces these challenges alone.

Lazy men or just Losers?

What’s up with the guy on the couch who isn’t providing enough income to meet the needs of his family or who demands that his wife cook, clean, care for the cars and lawn while they play video games- what makes guys like this act like irresponsible teenagers? Well, face it – some guys are just lazy- they grew up without any self-discipline, or self-respect and they just won’t keep gainful employment or if they do work, they aren’t disciplined to budget their money to benefit the family. They need to take a Dave Ramsey financial management course, but probably won’t since they believe their money belongs to them, not their family. Remember the phrase, “Selfish is – as Selfish does.”

Their mother’s didn’t do them any favors since some guys never grow up, and just decide to marry someone to take over where their mother left off… they expect hot meals, clean clothes, healthy children, the bills to be paid and someone to function as an attractive personal assistant- but they refuse to give back to the relationship. This type of marriage isn’t a partnership at all, it’s sort of like the medieval system of a master and peasant, and the woman is basically expected to be a slave to meet his every need. It’s 100% about him- and 0% for her. That is not God’s plan, but sadly it is common in culture.

Then there is another group of unmotivated men, simply put, they have given up on life, and most see them as ‘losers’. They may have failed in their education, or failed in their career aspirations, and have just given up on finding a good job to meet the needs of their family. Some guys in this group will go out to work at a job well below their potential just to avoid feeling like a failure again, which is better than nothing, yet eventually the bills will overshadow the gap in their income, leading to another major financial failure if they don’t change. Crushed self image can lead to just walking away from responsibility in life. While it helps to see the psychological root factors, it doesn’t change that it leaves a woman exhausted and empty from trying to make her marriage work alone.

Often women want to make excuses for their husbands continual failures, or blame it on his low self-esteem, but there comes a time in life where a man has to step up to the plate to become a responsible man, which often means him going out to seek some help from others so he doesn’t have to not fail again. However, many times he just keeps repeating the same mistakes, which just dumps more problems onto his wife to fix while he escapes by watching sports on TV or online gambling. He may escape with a beer, or with a newspaper, but the story is always the same. It’s someone else’s fault, blame, criticize, cuss or attack… the theme is always about how someone else is the reason they can’t get ahead. You won’t hear them talking about their lack of partnership and you won’t see them calling the counselor or pastor for help. Dump it on the wife to fix… and be moody or temperamental so she will be afraid to speak the truth that his behavior is wrong. Remember, bully behavior won’t pay the bills, and it just scares the people that he says he loves the most.

Watch behavior… if there is a marital partnership it will show up. However, if there is one person doing all the work to make the marriage appear ‘normal’, then that will show up too.

It should be noted that sometimes a man is unmotivated because of substance abuse issues. Potheads, alcoholics and porn addicts don’t think about providing for their family, they think about themselves. Sometimes what may look like a motivation problem is actually due to bigger psychological or substance issues, which would take professional intervention, diagnosis and treatment. The problem is that addicts don’t usually seek help until they crash, and if they are enabled by others, they can stay addicted for years while creating terrible pain and hardship for those around them. Kids suffer, women get exhausted and often homes are foreclosed on while everyone ignores the hard reality that addiction doesn’t get better without intervention, in fact, it often gets worse.


Lost boys become Passive Leaders

The next group of unmotivated men aren’t lazy or losers they just never learned which career path to take so they take the first job available. Think of them as “Lost” because they work hard for years, but struggle to get ahead because they don’t have any direction. Basically they haven’t found career coaches, leaders or mentors to guide them in moving up the career ladder. They could step up to become more of a partner if they had some coaching and accountability to change. There are a lot of guys who grew up in crazy dysfunction without any leadership and it’s a bigger group than you would think. Thankfully when these men see a better path they experience rapid results because they step to be the leaders their wives want them to be and it’s fun to watch. They build strong homes and experience peace out of marital partnership. However, if they don’t get some direction these guys may stay stuck and unmotivated for years because they fear seeking out help to discover their career strengths, so they slowly sink financially, while watching other more motivated guys get ahead and have better lives.

An interesting problem is that some guys might actually sabotage any efforts to try and help him because they feels so hyper-sensitive about even discussing how trapped he feels in a dead end job. He may fight against those who reach out with good advice on making some positive career changes to experience the financial freedom to provide for his family in a more stable way. Oddly enough, even though it’s their greatest fear, they can often be so prideful they don’t let anyone come alongside to help them face it with courage; so they stay stuck in a downward career spiral, leaving the growing financial burden and exhaustion on their wife. Their fear of making a career change hurts the people they say they love the most.

Good guys – or unmotivated men in disguise? Some guys may appear to be clean-cut, all-American, likable husbands and fathers who volunteer at church, mow the grass, don’t act mean, hateful or abusive, but they are still married to an exhausted woman because they won’t step up to lead their family. They look like a great guy to the public, or people at church, but they just don’t partner with their wife, which makes everything tougher because God never designed marriage to be a “one person does all the work” kind of relationship. In fact, if a woman is overworking to make up for the areas where her husband is unmotivated to change she will often resent him and the relationship will suffer, or fail.

View a health marriage as a two person bicycle. It works great when both people are pedaling together, but it is EXHAUSTING when one person is trying to pedal twice as fast because the other one won’t do their share of the work.

When should an exhausted woman who feels alone in her marriage speak up?

There is tremendous pressure placed on women to ‘do the right thing’ for her kids, which often is interpreted as being forced to provide the latest and greatest cell phone, elaborate birthday parties and expensive forms of entertainment for their kids. It is not a sign of bad parenting to say ‘no’ to things you cannot afford it’s actually a sign of strength and will help a child learn that you can’t have everything you want. Part of being a responsible adult is learning how to control and manage financial impulses. This takes financial pressure off of both the husband and wife in a marriage, but sadly many couples don’t sit down to work on budgets together, since one person frequently does all the earning while the other does the spending. The lack of partnership in dealing with budgets often bankrupt families. If a woman sees this happening and doesn’t speak up, she will be evicted along with her kids. Better to speak up now, rock the boat a little instead of calling U-Haul and friends to help make a hasty move after the house is foreclosed on.

Silence about the lack of partnership in a marriage can create a downward spiral of bad behavior, especially with spending when moms try to over-compensate for the lack of parenting from their passive husbands, or to cover the guilt she feels from being gone so much of the time trying to make more money to pay the bills. Overspending to make up for the lack of marital partnership often ends up with spoiled children, strained marriages and a pending financial disaster. Silence is the worst approach to take when there is a lack of marital partnership.

Saying “NO” is a lot better than collecting massive debt to create an artificial lifestyle to keep everyone feeling happy for a while. Some women live in continual fear that the credit card lifestyle they secretly use to fill the gap of living with a passive man will one day come crashing down, so they keep their credit spending hidden like an addiction inside, hoping every day that she will make it to the mailbox before her husband discovers her secret… when speaking up would have been a stronger course of action.

Partners talk about issues, good, bad, ugly, they talk about it and often can solve the problem. If you are married to a passive partner at least bring up the problems. But don’t nag, no one listens to critical whining… it’s a waste of breath.

Lack of Partnership? It’s your job to speak now

Mark Twain said, “If the truth hurts- it should.” Women married to passive husbands often don’t want to hear the truth about the love of their life. They would rather live in the illusion of their feelings that he is a “great guy” and that their marriage is “normal” than to look into the mirror and see the truth. They might fiercely defend his lack of employment, his bad luck with bosses, point out how he loves the kids but just doesn’t have time for them because he needs to exercise and be on the church softball team; because once they openly acknowledge that their husband is an unmotivated man, it makes it real, and once it’s real, it means that something has to change.

It’s hard to face this reality, and it’s hard to confront a man they care about, so to avoid the risk of hurting his feelings they just carry the burdens inside and work harder. Another common way women avoid making their husband uncomfortable is by secretly asking their parents for money to make it another month, and grandparents are suckers when it comes to providing for the needs of their daughter and grandkids… so it goes on month after month until someone runs out of cash. No more cash means things eventually will crash and everyone will have to face the truth that was there all along. Marriages can’t work with one person doing all the work.

Finances quickly force things out into the open that might have gone unnoticed when there is more disposable income. Exhausted women feel desperate when they reach the end of their financial rope… without access to lines of equity, retirement accounts or the inability to get a family loan from parents who may already be financially stretched from the tough economy. When she runs out of options a woman has to face a painful reality. Get honest about the problems caused by the lack of partnership in her marriage and then confront him boldly. Sadly some women are so afraid to say something to hurt feelings that they silently find negative ways to cope, (overeating is the most common). She will slowly and silently drown in her sadness if someone close to the situation doesn’t step in to ask some direct questions and offer real help. Marriages require partnership.

Speaking the truth isn’t about attacking a man’s character as a human being, it’s about the basic reality of a shared partnership to run a family together. Emotionally, Financially, Parenting, Household chores… it takes two responsible adults to make it work. Partnership is about sharing marital responsibility instead of dumping everything onto an exhausted women who is essentially going through life alone like a single parent, (except she just happens to be legally married to an unmotivated man who keeps dumping problems on her lap to solve).

Sadly, it may take an exhausted women feeling completely overwhelmed to finally take action and say, ‘listen Mister- I desperately need help running this household and it’s time for you to grow up and help me!’ A husband-wife partnership requires both people yet some women are so used to the dysfunction of living with an unmotivated man that she is almost numb to the idea that things could ever change. If she doesn’t speak up with boldness the bitterness of time will cause her to explode in rage… and no one listens to a screaming woman. So the cycle often repeats.

Change requires Confrontation

No one likes conflict, but this type of relationship problem can’t improve without direct communication and confrontation. Most women won’t be able to do this alone, because most women have tried many ways to get their unmotivated husband to change and it didn’t work. So if talking to him doesn’t work, a woman has to have some back-up to confront in a way the unmotivated man can begin to hear. This may come from a parent, a trusted friend, pastor, counselor or career coach.

Be sensitive to this exhausted woman, she needs someone to help her turn her husband around, but she doesn’t need to be judged or criticized- she does enough against herself every single day. If you want to really help her, don’t blame, just point out the truth of her situation and ask how you can help. There is a biblical principle that says, “in the multitude of counselors there is wisdom and safety.”(Proverbs 15:11) And this woman needs both… wisdom and safety, so be kind as you move forward to gently, but firmly offer help.

Sometimes it may involve the passive man having someone come alongside to create a step by step approach of accountability that includes building confidence through attending men’s groups, leadership events, personal development seminars, career coaching or church retreats on learning new skills as a healthy husband and father. The information for unmotivated men to change into loving leaders is available- it’s out there. Still, he has to take responsibility to go out and seek it. The formula works like this: R=R simply put, RESPONSIBILITY = RESULTS. When a man takes positive action to change his family, the results are an improved relationship and stronger partnership.

Often he won’t begin to change until facing some very hard realities. The most severe that he may lose everything of value to him if he doesn’t take bold action to turn things around for his family before it’s too late. These aren’t threats, because no one takes a threat seriously. It’s the reality that trying to petal for two eventually leads to the bicycle crashing and everyone getting hurt.

Leading families in partnership together

A man has to move from being an unmotivated man to becoming more self-disciplined as a leader for his family, and if you say that word very slowly, you will discover the real answer to solve many of the problems of an exhausted wife… she needs someone to ‘lead -her’. Not a boss lording over her- she needs a partner. She needs a motivated man who wants to build a great family by her side, no longer like a married ‘single parent’ no- now as partners building memories, instead of being in misery.

When a man learns how to be a responsible and motivated leader things can turn around rapidly, and no matter how deep the financial pressures they are in, when a husband and wife are working together they will not just survive it, they will thrive from the blessings of being partners pulling together through the toughest of times, instead of slowly drifting apart. It makes their partnership stronger and their marriage gets rock solid as God intended; remember, marriage was never meant to be done alone.

Someone you know is an exhausted woman trying to make her marriage work alone. May these words challenge you to reach out with God’s love and a gentle heart to let her know she is not alone and that she can count on you for support as she takes action to finally end the exhaustion and aloneness from trying to make her marriage work alone. Do her a favor, give her this article, and more importantly, give her your prayers that starting today she can experience a marital partnership with the man she loves. 


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About the author- Dwight Bain is a Nationally Certified Counselor, Certified Life Coach and Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 years with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. He is an author who partners with media, major corporations and non-profit organizations to make a positive difference in our culture for Christ. 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 www.LifeWorksGroup.org