Exercising To Relax

Taken from Harvard Health Publications which is located    HERE.

Rest and relaxation. It’s such a common expression that it has become a cliché. And although rest really can be relaxing, the pat phrase causes many men to overlook the fact that exercise can also be relaxing. It’s true for most forms of physical activity as well as for specific relaxation exercises.

Exercise is a form of physical stress. Can physical stress relieve mental stress? Alexander Pope thought so: “Strength of mind is exercise, not rest.” Plato agreed: “Exercise would cure a guilty conscience.” You’ll think so, too — if you learn to apply the physical stress of exercise in a controlled, graded fashion.


Aerobic and endurance exercise

Aerobic exercise is key for your head, just as it is for your heart. You may not agree at first; indeed, the first steps are the hardest, and in the beginning, exercise will be more work than fun. But as you get into shape, you’ll begin to tolerate exercise, then enjoy it, and finally depend on it.

Regular aerobic exercise will bring remarkable changes to your body, your metabolism, your heart, and your spirits. It has a unique capacity to exhilarate and relax, to provide stimulation and calm, to counter depression and dissipate stress. It’s a common experience among endurance athletes and has been verified in clinical trials that have successfully used exercise to treat anxiety disorders and clinical depression. If athletes and patients can derive psychological benefits from exercise, so can you.

How can exercise contend with problems as difficult as anxiety and depression? There are several explanations, some chemical, others behavioral.

The mental benefits of aerobic exercise have a neurochemical basis. Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. Endorphins are responsible for the “runner’s high” and for the feelings of relaxation and optimism that accompany many hard workouts — or, at least, the hot shower after your exercise is over.

Behavioral factors also contribute to the emotional benefits of exercise. As your waistline shrinks and your strength and stamina increase, your self-image will improve. You’ll earn a sense of mastery and control, of pride and self-confidence. Your renewed vigor and energy will help you succeed in many tasks, and the discipline of regular exercise will help you achieve other important lifestyle goals.

Exercise and sports also provide opportunities to get away from it all and to either enjoy some solitude or to make friends and build networks. “All men,” wrote St. Thomas Aquinas, “need leisure.” Exercise is play and recreation; when your body is busy, your mind will be distracted from the worries of daily life and will be free to think creatively.

Almost any type of exercise will help. Many people find that using large muscle groups in a rhythmic, repetitive fashion works best; call it “muscular meditation,” and you’ll begin to understand how it works. Walking and jogging are prime examples. Even a simple 20-minute stroll can clear the mind and reduce stress. But some people prefer vigorous workouts that burn stress along with calories. That’s one reason ellipticals are so popular. And the same stretching exercises that help relax your muscles after a hard workout will help relax your mind as well.


Autoregulation exercises

Regular physical activity keeps you healthy as it reduces stress. But another special sort of exercise known as autoregulation exercises can also reduce stress.

Stress comes in many forms and produces many symptoms. Mental symptoms range from worry and irritability to restlessness and insomnia, anger and hostility, or sensations of dread, foreboding, and even panic.

Mental stress can also produce physical symptoms. Muscles are tense, resulting in fidgetiness, taut facial expressions, headaches, or neck and back pain. The mouth is dry, producing unquenchable thirst or perhaps the sensation of a lump in the throat that makes swallowing difficult. Clenched jaw muscles can produce jaw pain and headaches. The skin can be pale, sweaty, and clammy. Intestinal symptoms range from “butterflies” to heartburn, cramps, or diarrhea. Frequent urination may be a bother. A pounding pulse is common, as is chest tightness. Rapid breathing is also typical, and may be accompanied by sighing or repetitive coughing. In extreme cases, hyperventilation can lead to tingling of the face and fingers, muscle cramps, lightheadedness, and even fainting.

The physical symptoms of stress are themselves distressing. In fact, the body’s response to stress can feel so bad that it produces additional mental stress. During the stress response, then, mind and body can amplify each other’s distress signals, creating a vicious cycle of tension and anxiety.

Because the root cause of stress is emotional, it is best controlled by gaining insight, reducing life problems that trigger stress, and modifying behavior. But stress control can — and should — also involve the body. Aerobic exercise is one approach; physical fitness will help promote mental fitness. But there is another approach: you can learn to use your mind to relax your body. The relaxed body will, in turn, send signals of calm and control that help reduce mental tension.

Autoregulation exercises are a group of techniques designed to replace the spiral of stress with a cycle of repose. Several approaches are available.


Breathing exercises

Even without formal meditation and controlled breathing, the gentle muscle stretching of yoga can reduce stress. “Full service” yoga is even better. But if that’s not your thing, simple breathing exercises can help by themselves. Rapid, shallow, erratic breathing is a common response to stress. Slow, deep, regular breathing is a sign of relaxation. You can learn to control your respirations so they mimic relaxation; the effect, in fact, will be relaxing.

Here’s how deep breathing exercises work:

  1. Breathe in slowly and deeply, pushing your stomach out so that your diaphragm is put to maximal use.
  2. Hold your breath briefly.
  3. Exhale slowly, thinking “relax.”
  4. Repeat the entire sequence five to 10 times, concentrating on breathing deeply and slowly.

Deep breathing is easy to learn. You can do it at any time, in any place. You can use deep breathing to help dissipate stress as it occurs. Practice the routine in advance; then use it when you need it most. If you find it helpful, consider repeating the exercise four to six times a day — even on good days.

Mental exercises, too

Bodily exercise can help relax the mind, and mental maneuvers can, too. Most often, that means talking out problems with a supportive listener, who can be a friend, a chaplain, or a trained counselor or psychotherapist. But you can also do it yourself, harnessing the power of your own mind to reduce stress. Simply writing down your thoughts and feelings can be very beneficial, and formal meditation exercises have helped many people reduce stress and gain perspective.

Meditation is a prime example of the unity of mind and body. Mental stress can speed the heart and raise the blood pressure; meditation can actually reverse the physiological signs of stress. Scientific studies of Indian yoga masters demonstrate that meditation can, in fact, slow the heart rate, lower the blood pressure, reduce the breathing rate, diminish the body’s oxygen consumption, reduce blood adrenaline levels, and change skin temperature.

Although meditation is an ancient Eastern religious technique, you don’t have to become a pilgrim or convert to put it to work for you. In fact, your best guide to meditation is not an Indian spiritualist but a Harvard physician, Dr. Herbert Benson. Here’s an outline of what Dr. Benson has termed as the relaxation response:

1. Select a time and place that will be free of distractions and interruption. A semi-darkened room is often best; it should be quiet and private. If possible, wait two hours after you eat before you meditate and empty your bladder before you get started.

2. Get comfortable. Find a body position that will allow your body to relax so that physical signals of discomfort will not intrude on your mental processes. Breathe slowly and deeply, allowing your mind to become aware of your rhythmic respirations.

3. Achieve a relaxed, passive mental attitude. Close your eyes to block out visual stimuli. Try to let your mind go blank, blocking out thoughts and worries.

4. Concentrate on a mental device. Most people use a mantra, a simple word or syllable that is repeated over and over again in a rhythmic, chant-like fashion. You can repeat your mantra silently or say it aloud. It’s the act of repetition that counts, not the content of the phrase; even the word “one” will do nicely. Some meditators prefer to stare at a fixed object instead of repeating a mantra. In either case, the goal is to focus your attention on a neutral object, thus blocking out ordinary thoughts and sensations.

Meditation is the most demanding of the autoregulation techniques, but it’s also the most beneficial and rewarding. Once you’ve mastered meditation, you’ll probably look forward to devoting 20 minutes to it once or twice a day.


Progressive muscular relaxation

Stressed muscles are tight, tense muscles. By learning to relax your muscles, you will be able to use your body to dissipate stress.

Muscle relaxation takes a bit longer to learn than deep breathing. It also takes more time. But even if this form of relaxation takes a little effort, it can be a useful part of your stress control program. Here’s how it works:

Progressive muscle relaxation is best performed in a quiet, secluded place. You should be comfortably seated or stretched out on a firm mattress or mat. Until you learn the routine, have a friend recite the directions or listen to them on a tape, which you can prerecord yourself.

Progressive muscle relaxation focuses sequentially on the major muscle groups. Tighten each muscle and maintain the contraction 20 seconds before slowly releasing it. As the muscle relaxes, concentrate on the release of tension and the sensation of relaxation. Start with your facial muscles, then work down the body.


Wrinkle your forehead and arch your eyebrows. Hold; then relax.


Close your eyes tightly. Hold; then relax.


Wrinkle your nose and flare your nostrils. Hold; then relax.


Push your tongue firmly against the roof of your mouth. Hold; then relax.


Grimace. Hold; then relax.


Clench your jaws tightly. Hold; then relax.


Tense your neck by pulling your chin down to your chest. Hold; then relax.


Arch your back. Hold; then relax.


Breathe in as deeply as you can. Hold; then relax.


Tense your stomach muscles. Hold; then relax.

Buttocks and thighs

Tense your buttocks and thigh muscles. Hold; then relax.


Tense your biceps. Hold; then relax.

Forearms and hands

Tense your arms and clench your fists. Hold; then relax.


Press your feet down. Hold; then relax.

Ankles and feet

Pull your toes up. Hold; then relax.

The entire routine should take 12 to 15 minutes. Practice it twice daily, expecting to master the technique and experience some relief of stress in about two weeks.


Exercise, health, and stress

Few things are more stressful than illness. Many forms of exercise reduce stress directly, and by preventing bodily illness, exercise has extra benefits for the mind. Regular physical activity will lower your blood pressure, improve your cholesterol, and reduce your blood sugar. Exercise cuts the risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, colon and breast cancers, osteoporosis and fractures, obesity, depression, and even dementia (memory loss). Exercise slows the aging process, increases energy, and prolongs life.

Except during illness, you should exercise nearly every day. That doesn’t necessarily mean hitting the gym or training for a marathon. But it does mean 30 to 40 minutes of moderate exercise such as walking or 15 to 20 minutes of vigorous exercise. More is even better, but the first steps provide the most benefit. Aim to walk at least two miles a day, or do the equivalent amount of another activity. You can do it all at once or in 10- to 15-minute chunks if that fits your schedule better. Add a little strength training and stretching two to three times a week, and you’ll have an excellent, balanced program for health and stress reduction. And if you need more help with stress, consider autoregulation exercises involving deep breathing or muscular relaxation. Remember, too, that mental exercises are the time-honored ways to cut stress (see box).

Popular beliefs notwithstanding, exercise is relaxing.

Father, Son Help Each Other After Brain Injuries, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Taken from the Washington Post which is located   HERE.

The crisply ironed uniforms of the father and son hang side by side in what they have dubbed the “Marine Corps closet,” a dark space filled with vestiges of their tours of duty.

Two Purple Hearts. A backpack full of medical records.

The father is David R. Franco; the son is David W. Aside from the name, they share so much: proud service in Iraq, and a haunting, painful aftermath.

Both survived blasts by improvised explosive devices, and both have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder. They fight pain daily. They are jittery in crowds at the mall. They have memory lapses. The father has struggled to spell “the” or “to,” while his son searches for words in a conversation.

Their injuries came three years apart. The elder Franco was still struggling to come to grips with his own suffering when he learned that his son had been injured in the same way.

“My heart dropped,” said the father. “As a parent you want your kids to be safe. You don’t want them to go through the same things you’ve been through.”

The military was in the elder Franco’s blood – his father, uncles and other relatives joined different branches – and he was a career man in the Marine Corps. He thrived as a leatherneck.

Franco went to Iraq at age 43, hand-picked by Gen. James Amos, now the top leader of the Marine Corps.

Franco was the only enlisted man on the Amos-selected team, a so-called Red Cell group that studied enemy tactics and made threat assessments to U.S. bases. The concept was so successful, Amos is considering using Red Cell groups in Afghanistan and the Marine Corps plans to start teaching the strategy at its professional military schools this year.

The general’s spokesman called Franco’s leadership and perspective “invaluable.”

He was on his team’s second deployment to Iraq when he felt a premonition the morning of Nov. 4, 2005 that something was going to go wrong. He prayed and then called his wife, Adriana. Like always, he refrained from saying goodbye. Instead he told her, “I’ll talk to you when I talk to you.”

Franco turned on “Los Lonely Boys,” a Tex-Mex rock band, to calm his mind and then he and the other Marines headed out in a Humvee from Fallujah. As they drove underneath a bridge, Franco saw a tire covered with a burlap sack along the road and instantaneously thought it was a bomb.

Then he was unconscious. When he came to, blood was streaming from his ears. Nearby, his colonel was slumped over; Franco grabbed him and checked his pulse. The colonel slowly opened his eyes and gestured that he was OK. Franco couldn’t hear and was dazed, but he refused help for nine hours while he aided the other wounded Marines. All survived.

When he returned home a month later, Franco says he knew something was wrong. He had lower back, neck and leg pains. His left eye kept fluttering. He had headaches, felt nauseous and would sometimes forget where he was going while driving.

Five months after the accident, he was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury. He scoured the Internet to learn everything he could.

All the while, he worried about his son in Iraq.

The path of “Junior” to the Marines was far different. For a long time, he resisted his family’s military tradition.

As a teenager, Junior ripped up Marine Corps posters in his bedroom when he became angry; and Franco said he never pushed him to join. But then came the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and the younger Franco signed up immediately; joining the Marines, he felt, was the best way to set the world aright.

When Junior, who resembles his father, showed him the black recruiting book of the Marine Corps, the barrel-chested man with Marine tattoos, was torn with feelings of pride and worry.

As the military plane carrying his son to Iraq took off from March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County, the decorated combat veteran stood on a nearby road and sobbed.

“I remember telling the gunnery sergeant, watch my boy, make sure he comes home,” he said.

The father got the call on the way home from a doctor’s appointment.

“Don’t tell me you got hit by an IED,” Franco said he told his son.

“Yeah, I did,” Junior responded. “They aren’t going to let me go anywhere for a full 30 days.”

It happened on April 24, 2008. Junior was en route to the village of Haditha on the last mission of his seven-month deployment. He had just asked the gunner to keep an eye out for anything suspicious.

“He tapped me on the leg. I said ‘What?’ and that’s when it blew. I came to, at the bottom of my tank. I couldn’t hear. I couldn’t move my leg,” Junior said.

Franco, 50, has retired from the military. He spends his day either getting help for himself or helping his son.

Junior moved back in about seven months ago with his father, his stepmother, Adriana, and his 17-year-old brother, Randy. Junior’s 8-year-old son Caden, from a past relationship, lives with them every other week.

Adriana said she catches glimpses of their pain: Her husband’s eyelids sometimes flutter or his body flinches. He yells in his sleep. She says both Marines have bolted from the house when there is a loud noise outside. They study people at the mall and stare them down, believing they pose a threat to the family.

Traumatic brain injury is a mysterious ailment that can cause mood swings, forgetfulness, paranoia and can strain any family. The mental wound afflicts an estimated 10 percent of troops returning from today’s wars.

In the Franco home, half the members of the household suffer with the injury, but all struggle with it.

“I cannot relate to either one of them,” Adriana concedes. “That’s the hard part, being I’m a wife and a mother.”

As she talks, her husband listens, his face turning to stone. He is sitting across from her in the corner of the living room that suddenly fills with tension. He twiddles his thumbs rapidly.

Adriana pushes on. She said she has stopped asking her husband or son questions when they seem depressed because it only irks them.

“I get frustrated with them. Maybe, if I sit here long enough, they’ll talk, but it’s easier for me. It’s difficult for them,” says Adriana, a bank teller whose frank words are softened by a warm smile. “I learned to try to limit myself … to not pick at things.”

Adriana, 40, wore dog tags to show her solidarity with her Marines when they were deployed and is deeply proud of being in a military family.

She finds solace in the fact that the two Marines have each other.

When one is brooding, the other will sit down, and say nothing. Adriana knows it is a role only they can fill for each other.

Five years after Franco was injured, the sergeant major sees doctors up to three times a week.

“You’re never the same person again. You come here and you don’t fit in. We don’t fit in here. That’s why we would rather be deployed. Nobody understands us,” said Franco, who sometimes rubs his hands as he talks, almost as if he is washing them.

He asks incredulously: “You tell me how you explain to someone that when you were driving down the freeway once you saw bodies lying there? You know what I mean? Or you see a tire on the side of the freeway that freaks you out?”

The men have talked about the bomb blasts but they rarely go into detail about other combat days.

Junior, 28, still suffers from leg, lower back and shoulder pain. He often loses his balance and has dizzy spells. When he showers, he holds on to the wall for support, because when he closes his eyes he sometimes feels like he is falling backward.

He is plagued by headaches. His friends tell him he repeats himself.

“You’ll take a shower, take your clothes off, take a shower again, five, six times. It affects your speed, the way you think, how you want to talk, lots of stuff doesn’t come out properly,” Junior says.

He feels angry and out of place. There are pressures from the job, family and mounting bills.

“I’m very short tempered,” says Junior, who left active duty in 2009 and now works at a credit card company. “Sometimes I can control it but if someone says something stupid, it may be one small thing, I get quiet and just leave.”

He would prefer to be deployed and confront an external enemy rather than his internal agitation, which is intensified by the quietness of everyday life in Moorpark, an orderly suburban city of landscaped lawns and strip malls.

“It’s scary over there, but you don’t have to deal with things like here,” he said. “You’re just chillin’ with your boys, hanging out.”

The hardest part is dealing with ignorant people, he says. Some have asked him how many people he killed or how he feels about Washington’s policies.

“There’s really nothing you can say to people, unless they’ve been on tours, see what the guys go through everyday,” says Junior, whose muscular arms display the tattoo “USMC.”

He runs or works the anger off at the gym.

He misses the battlefield, where missions are cut and dried, and life has a larger meaning.

His father understands that yearning.

The day he flew home on a C-130 over the site of the World Trade Center, he got a perfect view of ground zero.

“I looked down there and I realized it was worth every minute of being in Iraq,” he said. “It just made you want to go back.”

Franco had a U.S. flag raised for nine minutes and 11 seconds in his son’s honor at Al-Asad Air Base in Iraq. He had the neatly folded flag framed along side a photo of Junior in combat fatigues and gave it to him for Christmas in 2009.

“We’re father and son but we’re more than that,” Franco says. “We’re like brothers.”

Junior, who’s now in the reserves, recently asked his father to put on his pin at his ceremony promoting him to staff sergeant. He has picked his dad for the honor every time he has risen in rank.

“He didn’t have a choice,” Junior quipped, smirking. “I had to show him that I actually am getting promoted faster than he did in the Marine Corps.”

Then he quietly admits: “I always like it. He’s a big thing, big part of it.”

On a recent night, the family made their weekly outing for “Taco Tuesday” at their favorite hangout, The Dugout. Here the Franco men are more at ease; the elder Franco slips into the kitchen to make tacos and salsa for his family. Junior says his dad makes a mean salsa, and his own specialty is guacamole.

While Franco cooked, Junior sat at the end of the table and joked with his sister Amanda, 25, who is pregnant with her first child. He recounted his own reaction when he learned that he was having a son.

“Yes!” he exclaimed.

Junior says his own son wants to become a Marine and that he will support him.

On good days like this one, the pain subsides – and the bonds of brotherhood, of shared sacrifice, resonate.

Waiting For Hope: Streams In The Desert, January 30th, 2011

“For we through the Spirit by faith wait for the hope of righteousness” Galatians 5:5

There are times when things look very dark to me–so dark that I have to wait even for hope. It is bad enough to wait in hope. A long-deferred fulfillment carries its own pain, but to wait for hope, to see no glimmer of a prospect and yet refuse to despair; to have nothing but night before the casement and yet to keep the casement open for possible stars; to have a vacant place in my heart and yet to allow that place to be filled by no inferior presence–that is the grandest patience in the universe. It is Job in the tempest; it is Abraham on the road to Moriah; it is Moses in the desert of Midian; it is the Son of man in the Garden of Gethsemane.

There is no patience so hard as that which endures, “as seeing him who is invisible”; it is the waiting for hope.

Thou hast made waiting beautiful; Thou has made patience divine. Thou hast taught us that the Father’s will may be received just because it is His will. Thou hast revealed to us that a soul may see nothing but sorrow in the cup and yet may refuse to let it go, convinced that the eye of the Father sees further than its own.

Give me this Divine power of Thine, the power of Gethsemane. Give me the power to wait for hope itself, to look out from the casement where there are no stars. Give me the power, when the very joy that was set before me is gone, to stand unconquered amid the night, and say, “To the eye of my Father it is perhaps shining still.” I shall reach the climax of strength when I have learned to wait for hope.

George Matheson: Strive to be one of those–so few–who walk the earth with ever-present consciousness–all mornings, middays, star-times–that the unknown which men call Heaven is “close behind the visible scene of things.”

Praise & Worship: January 29th, 2011

Song List

1.  In Christ Alone-  Norm Hastings  (Piano)

2.  Open Hands-  Matt Papa

3.  My Beloved-  Kari Jobe

4.  Redeeming Love-  Amy Stroup

5.  Sweet Cherry Wine-  Tommy James & The Shondells    (Sweet Cherry Wine represents the blood of Jesus)

6.  Shine Your Light-  Oslo Gospel Choir

7.  The Answer-  Shane & Shane

8.  Awakening-  Chris Tomlin & Passion Band

9.  Knees To The Earth-  Watermark

10.  You Won’t Relent-  Kim Walker & Chris Quilala

11.  Our God Saves-  Paul Baloche

Prayer Requests & Praise Reports, January 28th, 2011


“The prayer power has never been tried to its full capacity. If we want to see mighty wonders of divine power and grace wrought in the place of weakness, failure and disappointment, let us answer God’s standing challenge, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not!'” (J. Hudson Taylor)

New Prayer Requests

Lynette–  Pls free Lynette from depression

Seth L.S.–  Pray for me and my family do good stay healthy for 2011.
And I look forward God’s will special for my startup nonprofit success.

Allan–  Today LeeAnn learned her cancer is stage two. During surgery 18 lymph nodes were removed with two of them having cancer which evidently isn’t all that bad. Next week she begins six months of chemotherapy followed by radiation treatments.

Please pray that these treatments will kill any remaining cancer cells and that LeeAnn will be able to tolerate the treatments. She is going to try and work during this time. Thank you so much for praying.

Cyndie- I have been having SEVERE panic attacks. Yesterday, I was out in the parking lot bent over retching. I lost my job, my mentally ill mother (who refuses to take medication or get help) lives with me along with my son who has ADHD. Between my mother and my son, something gets broken in my rented apartment often. Someone is even peeling the paint off of the walls. I’m a Christian and I pray for God to help me EVERYDAY, but now I am starting to have severe panic attacks. Also, I have a slight case of OCD and God took it away years ago, but since I lost my job, it has come back again. I just needed someone to vent to. I really don’t have a comment. Just pray for me.

Past Prayer Requests

Terika–  I am seeking prayer for me. I need a job, career, or an idea. I have two sons who’s father passed away and I am finding it extremely difficult to find work. It is one of the toughest valleys I have ever been in. I want to be able to take care of my family.

Captain Kevin–  Been going through a lot of pain and depression lately. So much want to exercise and get rid of these extra 40 pounds I’ve put on in the last 2 years, spend time studying scripture and improving my vocal and keyboard abilities, but I just can’t seem to get started. Sleep is my favorite pastime lately, but I don’t really want it to be.

Allan–  My friend’s brother will have a treatment for a tumor on his kidney in October.  Please pray it succeeds as his other kidney is non functional.

Allan–  Please pray for Rachel as she is battling bipolar disorder. Pray also for her parents who are fighting battles of their own.
Allan– Please pray for Natalie Tan as she has had a setback in her battle with her eating disorder.

Shaun Sells- Hi E – Thought I would give you a quick update. The group has slowly shrunk over the summer, last time we met there were only 5 of us. We are trying to regroup and refocus. Looking for good ideas and praying for someone else to lead it so the group can meet more than once a month.

Allan–  A woman e-mailed me tonight asking for prayer. She is struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts. She will be seeing someone tomorrow to apply for emergency Medicaid. She has been without insurance for two years. Please pray for her.

Set Free–  I appreciate that you still have our request for a building. Some opportunities have been presented to us but nothing yet. We did move out from our previous location but we are trusting and believing God for a place of our own hopefully before the year is out.

Mom–  Thank you for keeping my request on your prayer list. Our son is doing better and is now able to work and is hoping to return to school next semester.

He’s been through different combinations of medications and we are hopeful that the current combinations will work for him in the long term.

He is still discouraged and is beating himself up for disenrolling from school. We try to encourage him, but he doesn’t receive it.. We are praying that God would allow him to live a rewarding life and that he see God’s hand in all this the last 5 months. Thank you for your continued prayers.

Allan–  Dorci has had surgery to remove a cyst from her spine.  Please pray that God would allow her to heal quickly and completely.

Long Term Prayer Requests

Angela–  Keep Angela in prayer as she continues on her road of recovery from Anorexia.

Okie Preacher–  Battling unknown physical problems and depression.  “I have a physical problem that the doctors have not been able to identify. It has been characterized by severe muscle pain and weakness, joint pain, fatigue, shortage of breath, dizziness, difficulty swallowing, and coughing fits that almost cause me to pass out.”

White Horses- Prayer for anxious thoughts and worrying.

Allan–  Our nephew’s wife has M.S.

PK Sweet–  please pray for a bipolar son with brain damage also…that he may know and love and follow Christ, be free of all addictions and self destructive behavior, get the help he needs and be @ peace…also that God help us all in the family to be filled with the Spirit and bear luscious fruit, and be filled with joy rather than despair

Praise Reports

Okie Preacher-

I can’t begin to tell you all how wonderful Rachel is doing. In a day where people being “touched” by the Lord during church is considered suspect, Rachel has indeed felt the hand of God. She is still struggling; but now with hope. I see the love of God in her eyes; she no longer has the look of desperation; I personally believe that God is on the way to healing her, but that is just a father’s hope.

Thank you all for praying…

Rachel– wow, what a great quote from spurgeon! how i hope the Lord will make that true in my life! my deepest desire is that he would be glorified in my life.

thank you all for your prayers. i am sorry for my long absence. i can’t explain it, other than to say the sicker i am the less i want/can say. and when i do have something to say, it might not always be helpful in that state, so i try not to say it.

as my dad already told you, i have seen a huge change, and it is all so obviously the work of the Lord. i know that he wants to do more with and in me and i am praying now to find all of that and be faithful to do my part in what he has for me.

love to all of you. may God encourage you all today and may you feel his love poured out on you. and if you don’t, may the knowledge of His love comfort you, even if you can’t feel it.

Allan–  My wife Belinda had surgery for a badly damaged arthritic elbow this past Tuesday.  The results were excellent as she has gained range of motion back and the doctor is pleased with the results. She is home till after the New Year and has a lot of home physical therapy to do.

Case Of Young Man Tied To Wall Sparks National Debate In Netherlands

Brandon van Ingen, 18, spends part of his days tethered to a wall due to the danger he poses to others



Taken from CNN which is located    HERE.

A Dutch documentary about a mentally ill and potentially dangerous 18-year-old has prompted lawmakers in the Netherlands — amid national outrage — to re-examine the treatment of those in psychiatric care.

The documentary, which was produced by the Lutheran-run Evangelical Broadcasting Company and aired on public television Tuesday, followed Brandon van Ingen, a patient at a mental hospital in Ermelo. Since 2007, van Ingen has spent part of his days tethered to a wall due to the danger he poses to others, according to State Secretary for Public Health Marlies Veldhuijzen van Zanten-Hyllner.

“Brandon’s issue is so serious that he must be restricted in his freedom for the sake of his own safety and that of others,” van Zanten-Hyllner wrote in a letter to parliament. “Because of this, Brandon consistently makes use of a band that he fastens himself when he is in the presence of his attendants and other visitors. Whenever there is no one present and at night, the band is loosened.”

In response to the documentary, the country’s political parties held emergency meetings Wednesday to discuss care for the mentally ill.

Van Zanten-Hyllner addressed those meetings, explaining that van Ingen’s care was in line with rules for restraining mental health patients, but promised to examine whether a change is needed.

He feels like a dog on a line.
–Van Ingen’s mother

“The broadcast stirred me deeply,” she wrote in the letter to parliament. “It is upsetting to see that such a young person, who has his life before him, has so little perspective for a better future.”

Van Zanten-Hyllner noted that van Ingen, who apparently hears voices that tell him to do “bad and dangerous things,” has his own apartment where he can move about freely.

The hospital is working on alternatives for van Ingen’s care, van Zanten-Hyllner wrote, “and is undertaking constant efforts to improve the living situation.”

The program “Outspoken” learned about Van Ingen’s story from one of his caretakers at the hospital.

“I could no longer do these shifts,” Iris Mourits said on the program. “Back-up shifts were OK, but being together with him in a room — I think at some point he could sense that from the depths of my toes I could no longer see him on that leash.”

Van Ingen’s mother compared his care to that of a “caged animal.”

“He feels like a dog on a line,” she said.

Heerenloo hospital issued a statement Saturday assuring family members of those at the facility that van Ingen’s case is an exceptional one and doesn’t reflect the care the majority of patients receive.

Health care inspectors said Friday that they would “investigate the cases in which freedom is taken away from patients similar to Brandon’s situation.”

Van Zanten-Hyllner said there are about 40 cases similar to van Ingen’s in the Netherlands.

What Celebrity Miscarriages Teach Us

Taken from Her. menutics which is located    HERE.

If famous folk can open up to the world about their pregnancy loss, why can’t we in the church?

Elise Erikson Barrett, guest blogger

Suddenly, it seems as if miscarriage is everywhere. Famous folks from Barbara Bush to Mariah Carey have recently disclosed previous pregnancy losses. Lily Allen suffered her second miscarriage in November, and Lisa Ling shared her own grief following a miscarriage on a recent episode of The View. Kelsey Grammer and his fiancée, Kayte Walsh, released a statement in October confirming the loss of their unborn child six weeks earlier. Giuliana Rancic and husband Bill opened up about their miscarriage this fall. A topic that historically has seemed taboo has somehow become hot tabloid fodder. OMG.

Lack of privacy is a given for the celebs among us, for we live in a culture that is breathlessly absorbed by the minutiae of famous lives. And whether you’re a hard-core subscriber to US Weekly and People or someone like me, slyly dawdling in the grocery checkout line so I can catch the tabloid headlines out of the corner of my eye, you can’t miss the obsession with celebrity baby-bump-watching. As gossip mag Life & Style‘s editor in chief Dan Wakeford has observed, “They’ve always been popular with readers, stories on babies . . . It used to be celebrity weddings, but not anymore. It’s all about babies.” Celebrity pregnancies are confirmed on Twitter and talk shows, and reporters try to outdo one another in cutesy cleverness, using tired witticisms about “buns in the oven” and coyly talking about “baby daddies.” Celebs are inevitably “thrilled” and “so happy” to announce that they are “preggo.” And really, what else are they going to say?

What’s been interesting is to see the ways in which these bereft celebrities and their suddenly, awkwardly serious biographers narrate their experiences of pregnancy loss. The language in which they are expected to be fluent, the perky, provocative vocabulary of fashion and premieres and love affairs, is not weighty enough to carry their grief. So they use quiet words. They release carefully worded statements using short, plain sentences. In the event that they are able to protect their loss as a secret, many of them wait, sometimes years, sometimes until they are securely pregnant again, to mention the miscarriage. They wait, as so many do, until what Ling so accurately described as the sense of “failure” can be overshadowed by news of a more recent “triumph.”

One dubious benefit of the celebrity fishbowl: You are always assured an audience. We Christians, however, have typically failed to make space in our worshiping communities for women and men to give voice to their anguish at losing wanted pregnancies. Our liturgies offer patterning for many kinds of losses funeral services (and their attendant traditions of providing food or wakes or visitations) lead us through the mystery of death; illnesses are lifted up during prayer-concern time or listed in the bulletin or passed along an informal but highly effective prayer line. But there are few well-worn paths to follow as we walk through the complicated pain of losing pregnancies. And mercy, but the words we often have to use to describe our loss are ugly. I was abruptly reminded of this while giving a short talk at our own church, describing the experience of my first miscarriage. I could feel the blush creeping up my neck as I said words like spotting, cramping, and clots to my audience of familiar and friendly church folk. I almost ran from the lectern like a miserable, terrified rabbit when I caught the eye of a gentleman in his 70s as I described going into a bathroom and seeing blood on my underwear.

How ironic. We claim to be saved by Christ’s blood, but are embarrassed to talk about our own blood, at least when connected to female reproductive parts. We claim, especially in this season, that God miraculously impregnated a teenaged girl, yet are ashamed to reflect on the terrifying, precarious, messy realities of pregnancy. We claim that our redemption entered history through the waters of a womb, but are unable to find words to talk about the mysterious losses that take place in those same waters. For a bunch of people who are perfectly happy to carol about wallowing in fountains of blood, we are remarkably squeamish.


Celebs like Ling and Rancic have said that they are choosing to publicize their experiences of pregnancy loss for a purpose: to help combat the secrecy and shame surrounding miscarriage. They are not the first to do so (think Courteney Cox or Tori Amos), but they are the most recent in a movement toward open acknowledgment of both the widespread nature (as many as one in four pregnancies miscarries) and the intensity of the loss. Ling has started her own website called the Secret Society of Women, hoping to create a community online where women can find both support and an avenue for sharing painful or difficult experiences, miscarriage among them. Perhaps the courage of these women who are living through loss in the limelight can remind us Christians that we, too, can be courageous. Perhaps it can remind us that we, of all people, should be able to share loss with one another even loss that presents as a bloody, shameful failure. Perhaps our communities of faith can remember that it is our privilege to become, not secret societies of women, but places where women and men alike become part of a Body the Body of Christ, out of whose bloody shame was born redemption for this world.

Elise Erikson Barrett, a United Methodist pastor, is the author of What Was Lost: A Christian Journey through Miscarriage, which Her.meneutics reviewed last year. Shauna Niequist wrote about her miscarriage in an excerpted Her.meneutics post last year.