The description below is taken from the video. I hope you are encouraged by what you hear. Merry Christmas!!  Allan

A 10-year-old girl who attends a special needs school in Co Down is being tipped for musical stardom after her Christmas performance of Hallelujah reduced adults to tears.

Kaylee Rogers, a pupil at Killard House School in Donaghadee, was chosen to sing a special biblical version of the Leonard Cohen classic for the school’s festive end-of-year shows. The primary seven pupil, who has moderate learning difficulties, gave an emotional performance of the song at three Christmas concerts, supported by Killard’s middle school choir.


A video of Kaylee’s rendition was also shown at a carol service at First Newtownards Presbyterian church, leaving many of the congregation in tears. It has since been uploaded on Facebook and has been shared up to 1,000 times so far.

Colin Millar, principal of Killard special school, which provides education for children with learning difficulties, speech and language difficulties and autism, said everyone who heard Kaylee sing was blown away by the power and the tone of her voice. And he said he believed she had a special gift which needed to be shared.

Speaking to Belfast Live, Mr Millar said: “Kaylee came to us in primary four and our music teacher, Lloyd Scates, who is a musician and has his own band, spotted her talent straight away.

“He got her to sing a few solos and she performed at the Easter and Harvest concerts, which helped her confidence to grow. Kaylee is a lovely child; she’s very quiet and shy, but when she opens her mouth to sing, something wonderful happens.

“She may only be a child but she has an amazing tone to her voice and when I heard her sing Hallelujah, I can honestly say the hairs stood up on the back of my neck and I had tears in my eyes.

“Kaylee was supposed to perform at a carol service at First Newtownards Presbyterian church at the weekend but was unfortunately ill. We showed the video of her singing instead and it’s fair to say there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

“I believe she has a very special gift which needs to be heard. Her voice is a complete joy.”

Killard school caters for around 200 children in total, aged between three and 16. Each year the school stages three different Christmas shows, according to age and this year, Kaylee was given the star role of singing Hallelujah at each of the three concerts.

Mr Millar said he hoped the Donaghadee girl went on to receive the right training to help her fulfil her potential as a performer.

“I’ve spoken to Kaylee’s mum and she’s keen to organise vocal coaching for her,” he said. “Kaylee has a special talent that needs to be harnessed and nurtured.

“She has the voice of an angel and I believe she could go very far.”

And he said he was proud of all the children involved.

“The whole production of Hallelujah is really beautiful and it’s just brilliant that these children, many of whom have learning difficulties and other issues, are bringing joy to other people with their singing.”

Bullying Changes Genes in Children’s DNA, Scientists Say


Taken from  ABC News  which is located   HERE.  Originally posted in December, 2012.

New research shows that the chemical structure surrounding part of the genetic blueprint of a young child is physically changed by bullying, leaving the victim less able to respond properly to the stress and possibly paving the way for mental problems later in life.

The findings challenge the popular assumption that DNA is largely immutable, remaining basically unchanged throughout a person’s life.  But what does change, according to the research, is how one critical gene known to be involved in regulating mood is crippled, leaving the victim unable to deal with the stress.

“Bullying is a serious matter, not only on the short term consequences, but it also leaves kind of a physiological change that could affect (the victim’s) mental health later on,” Isabelle Ouellet-Morin of the University of Montreal, lead author of a study in the current issue of the journal Psychological Medicine, said in a telephone interview.

Overreacting to stress can be harmful, of course, but failing to react in a reasonable manner isn’t healthy either, she added.  Her previous research shows that “children who were bullied or maltreated showed less reactivity to stress and had more problems in social interaction and had more externalized problems, such as aggression.”

It’s normal to be angry when bullied, and failure to deal with that stress may be just as harmful as overreacting.

Ouellet-Morin and her colleagues found that the level of cortisol, the so-called stress hormone, was suppressed in children who had been bullied.  That reduction, she said, resulted in a change in the structure surrounding a gene that regulates serotonin, a neurotransmitter involved in mood regulation and depression.

The work is part of a growing body of research on epigenetics, a relatively new field that has challenged many beliefs on genetics.  That work shows that while genes themselves may remain largely unchanged, the way they are expressed — or what genes do for a living — can be profoundly influenced by the environments in which we live.

Nature vs. Nurture

It’s sort of a revival of the old nature-vs.-nurture debate. In this age of genetic advancement, nature has held the upper hand, but epigenetics adds a new twist — nurture, or our social interactions, may be an extremely important player in determining how our genes are expressed.

While the finding that bullying can influence DNA may be frightening, the research also suggests the possibility of reversing the damage.  It isn’t known yet whether the physiological changes from bullying are permanent.  It may be, she suggested, that dealing with bullying and nurturing the victims may reverse the damage.  But at this point, no one knows for sure.

Ouellet-Morin’s research is part of the Environmental Risk Longitudinal Twin Study in England, where she worked before returning to Montreal.  The researchers concentrated on 28 sets of identical twins from 2,232 British children in the overall study.  In all 28 cases, one twin had been bullied, but the other twin had not, according to the children, their mothers, and others.

DNA samples were collected at ages 5 and 10, and cortisol was measured at 5, 10 and 12.

The researchers found “blunted cortisol responses to stress in bullied twins in comparison with their non-bullied co-twins.” Thus, the victims were inhibited in having a normal reaction to the stress of being bullied.  That difference could not be attributed to genetic differences, because they were identical twins. Nor could it be blamed on different family environments, because both twins were raised in the same conditions.  The difference, the researchers concluded, came from changes in gene expression through epigenetics that left the victims less responsive to stress.

“The victims were not reacting physiologically to stress,” Ouellet-Morin said in the interview.  “The non-bullied twins showed the normal response, which is secreting the stress hormone while under stress.”  That failure to deal normally with the stress could have left them less resilient, and more prone to mental and social problems, she suggested.

The researchers conclude that the difference resulted entirely from bullying.

“This hypothesis is consistent with accumulating evidence, mainly derived from animal studies, showing that epigenetic remodeling represents a mechanism by which adverse experiences disrupt reactivity to stress and health,” the study adds.

The bottom line here is that bullying must be taken very seriously, she said, but there is reason to hope that the effect doesn’t have to be permanent.

“If we accept the idea suggested by this study,” she said, “that social environment can change DNA manipulation that is important for stress reactivity and mood regulation, then if we change that environment, if we make sure the victims are not victimized anymore, or if we give them the proper resources to cope better with the situation and get on with their lives, then we have the possibility of reversing what we are observing right now.”

Maybe there is light at the end of this very dark tunnel.

Let’s Stay In The Race Even If We Don’t Win

1Corinthians 9:24  You know that in a race all the runners run but only one wins the prize, don’t you? You must run in such a way that you may be victorious.


You might find it interesting that I quote the Apostle Paul where he speaks of a race and the picture I use is an illustration of a tortoise.  Certainly you will never read of a tortoise winning any race unless it’s against another tortoise!

I Corinthians chapter 9 opens with Paul defending his ministry from false teachers of the day.  His character was being attacked and Paul makes his defense here in chapter nine.

He then closes the chapter by using images of competition to paint a true picture of who he is.  Athletic competitions were a big part of life throughout the Roman empire and Paul uses athletic metaphors as he concludes the chapter.

Our lives all have a beginning and an end with a whole lot that goes on as we get from point A to point B.  Therefore it’s easy to see our lives as a race.

In the verse I used to begin this article Paul clearly states only one person will win a race yet he challenges his readers to run so that they might win.  Even a tortoise can do that!

I’ll confess that for too long I have looked at the race Paul speaks of and have been duped into thinking that if my life is and has been a race then I am the biggest of losers.  I suspect I’m not alone.

I grew up as a kid with my life filled with sports.  My friends and I would spend countless hours playing baseball, football, and basketball.  We played football and baseball on the streets of our neighborhood.  We spent a lot of time at a school close to home competing all of the time.  I recall walking with my friends in a group carrying our gloves and bats in a happy group.  Once we got to the school we divided into teams and one of those teams would lose.

Maybe that’s why in my life everything was so black and white.  Either I was a winner or a loser.  The final score of the games we played told me so and that mindset when applied to life doesn’t cut it.

When my life spiraled out of control some 17-18 years ago when I experienced my first major panic attack I saw myself as a loser.  No middle ground. No alternatives.  No real hope for victory.

I bought the lie.  How couldn’t I when many in society and sadly, even the church were telling me I was weak, sinful, and without faith?  I needed to suck it up and rest on the promises of God.

That mindset settled deep into my soul and no matter the good that may have come from my life I saw myself ultimately as losing the race because for whatever reason I wasn’t free of my mental illness.  It was alive and well and sneering at me.

Along the way something has become clear to me and to even speak of it unsettles me.  What if I’m never totally free of my anxiety?  What does that make me?  For that matter what if you are never totally free of your bipolar disorder, your schizophrenia, your depression, your PTSD, your OCD, or anxiety?

Look at that tortoise.  He’s racing with no hope of finishing first.  Has it occurred to you that God hasn’t called you to finish first but to simply stay in the race?  We are not defined by our mental illness any more than a person is defined by their cancer or diabetes.

I know how difficult the holidays can be for those who are in the midst of real trials and real suffering.  You’re hoping January 2nd will arrive ASAP as the holidays can be so difficult.

How do we stay in the race?  We realize God is in the business of not setting us into a locked cupboard but will equip us with what we need to see his will realized in our lives.

We need to cling to the fact that…   Philippians 1:6  Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

That’s a promise from God with no strings attached.  Of course this isn’t some sort of license to go live a sinful life!  Yet so many of you who are floundering and not seeing much hope for your lives please know God loves you unconditionally and can and will use you even in the place you would rather not be.  God is our lifeline.  Nothing can separate us from His love.  He will never leave or forsake us.

There are times when we tell God we don’t have it in us and quite frankly we’re not happy with where we are at this point in our lives.  God desires honesty from us and that can begin with a prayer you may not feel is worth uttering.

God is not a respecter of individuals.  He flat out loves us and sent his only begotten son to demonstrate that and as he hung on that cross he suffered the consequences for our sins.  Jesus allowed himself to be crucified for the joy that was set before him and that joy includes you.

As we approach Christmas we celebrate the birth of the Christ child who took on flesh for you and me.  He loves us that much.

My prayer is that God would do something supernatural in the lives of all who read this.  The thing is he does the supernatural according to his perfect will and it doesn’t always happen as we might think. He loves you.

In closing I can be content being that tortoise.  They may move slowly but they won’t leave the race.  God bless and keep you this Christmas season.


Morning & Evening: December 17th, 2016

John 10:9
I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
Jesus, the great I AM, is the entrance into the true church, and the way of access to God Himself. He gives to the man who comes to God by Him four choice privileges.
1. He shall be saved. The fugitive manslayer passed the gate of the city of refuge, and was safe. Noah entered the door of the ark, and was secure. None can be lost who take Jesus as the door of faith to their souls. Entrance through Jesus into peace is the guarantee of entrance by the same door into heaven. Jesus is the only door, an open door, a wide door, a safe door; and blessed is he who rests all his hope of admission to glory upon the crucified Redeemer.
2. He shall go in. He shall be privileged to go in among the divine family, sharing the children’s bread, and participating in all their honours and enjoyments. He shall go in to the chambers of communion, to the banquets of love, to the treasures of the covenant, to the storehouses of the promises. He shall go in unto the King of kings in the power of the Holy Spirit, and the secret of the Lord shall be with him.
3. He shall go out. This blessing is much forgotten. We go out into the world to labour and suffer, but what a mercy to go in the name and power of Jesus! We are called to bear witness to the truth, to cheer the disconsolate, to warn the careless, to win souls, and to glorify God; and as the angel said to Gideon, “Go in this thy might,” even thus the Lord would have us proceed as His messengers in His name and strength.
4. He shall find pasture. He who knows Jesus shall never want. Going in and out shall be alike helpful to him: in fellowship with God he shall grow, and in watering others he shall be watered. Having made Jesus his all, he shall find all in Jesus. His soul shall be as a watered garden, and as a well of water whose waters fail not.


Praise & Worship: December 16th, 2016

1.The Christmas Song-  Nat King Cole

2.  Do You Hear What I Hear-  Carrie Underwood

3.  Mary Did You Know-  Danny Gokey

4. The Spirit Of Christmas Past-  Enya

5.   Angels We Have Heard On High-  Sixpence None The Richer

6.  The Little Drummer Boy-  The Henry Simeone Chorale

7.  Merry Christmas darling-  The Carpenters

8.  Silent Night-  Kenny G

9.  Sometimes Alleluia-  Chuck Girard

10.  What Only You Can Do-  Misty Edwards

11.  The Lord Is My Shepherd-  Keith Green

Merry Christmas and (Un?) Happy Holidays

Taken from the NAMI blog which can be found   HERE.

Things to keep in mind during the holiday season:

Don’t get wrapped up in social media:  This is very easy to say, and quite frankly, I enjoy it, so I’m not encouraging people to give up their Facebook or Twitter accounts completely. But take what you see on the internet with a grain of salt. Particularly, this time of year, people are frequently posting about the joyous things they are doing – whether it be holiday parties, visits with family, friends and significant others, recipes, or simply statuses about their fortunate lives. Seeing all these cheerful posts and all these smiles flooding a person’s mini-feed can be a reminder to someone who is struggling that they are NOT feeling the same way that the rest of the world appears to be feeling. This is not jealousy, but social media can present a distorted image of how life really is for everyone else.

A handful of years ago, I ran into an old childhood friend at the supermarket during the holiday season. We started to briefly catch up with one another on what was going on in our lives. I distinctly remember him saying to me that he already “knew” my life had been wonderful since he had last seen me. And this was all according to Facebook. “I loved seeing you on TV all over the country cheerleading during March Madness. You have stayed in touch with many people and are always out and about doing fun things and you’re so lucky you got to go back to graduate school to pursue your passions.”  I felt a little guilty because, little did he know, I had just come straight to the supermarket after an intensive outpatient therapy session where I was going for treatment for depression.

Talk About It: My grandfather has always been a source of great comfort – from visiting me in the hospital to simply discussing mental illness in a non-taboo way. I followed in his footsteps by going to Villanova University, having a love for sports, and always saying what is on my mind! While the issues he battled were different than mine, one thing he instilled in me was the importance of open communication. He inspired me to never stop talking (but to always listen to others, too!), because as long as we are open about our issues, the more we can relate to one another and start to heal.

Sometimes, just the thought of disclosing your pain to someone can cause your anxiety to rise. But believe it or not, people want to hear about it more than it may seem. And often times, you’ll find that many people can relate on some level. The more we talk, the more we can understand each other and not feel secluded from the rest of the world. I ended up keeping in touch with my old friend from the supermarket, and eventually, disclosed what had reallybeen going on that holiday season. To my surprise, he had battled with similar issues. This was a comforting relief for both of us and encouraged me to speak up more about it.

You’re not alone: Whether you’re battling with mental illness, a disease, friends/family issues, or anything else – remember that no one is perfect and no one has a perfect life. Everyone is dealing with something this holiday season. So just because everyone else seems upbeat and happy around you, doesn’t mean that they are 100% feeling that way on the inside. A photograph captures the quickest moment in time and isn’t an accurate tool to measure one’s true feelings. So for all the smiles you may see on the internet during the holiday season, keep in mind that we are all human and we all struggle at times throughout our lives. Just because the term “Happy Holidays!” may not seem to apply to you at every moment throughout the day, that doesn’t mean there won’t be happy moments to come. The more we discuss with one another our personal battles, the more we are reminded that we are not alone – especially this holiday season.



– See more at: http://www.nami.org/Personal-Stories/Merry-Christmas-and-(Un-)-Happy-Holidays#sthash.WjOXPyJp.dpuf

A Different Kind Of Christmas

My brother brought this song to my attention and I thought I’d share it here. The song is by Mark Schultz and here is a description of how it came to be written. I hope it might bring you comfort.  Allan

“This is a special song for me and my family. I wrote it with my wife after her dad passed away 3 years ago. It was our first Christmas without him, and Kate was decorating for the holidays. She came into the garage holding a box of ornaments and had tears streaming down her face. She said to me, “It’s just a different kind of Christmas this year.”

“At some point in our life we will all lose someone that is close to us, and that first Christmas without them is a tough one to get through. I hope this song will bring comfort to those who are mourning the loss of someone this season. Please share it with someone who might need to hear it this year.”