Preventing Summertime Burnout

By: Martha Catherine Dagenhart, Ph.D.

The beginning of summer brings smiles to the faces of children and adults alike. The days are longer; the weather is warmer; children are excited to be out of school; and much-needed breaks are taken from work. Unfortunately, summertime can also be a very stressful time for many. Parents and caregivers must find ways to entertain children during these longer days. Vacations, as wonderful as they seem while planning for them, are often stressful to organize and execute. Warmer days soon turn to hot, humid days, which can deplete us of energy and leave us irritable. We often overschedule activities which leave us feeling drained, physically and emotionally.

A Few Marriage Ideas

By: Dale Berry, Ph.D.

When we marry, we commit to making the journey of life together. As you have probably already learned, life has challenges, highs, lows, surprises, earthquakes, and blessings. While dating, your spouse was assessing you and came to the conclusion that you were the person with whom he or she would want to navigate life. He or she obviously did not know everything about you nor were either of you fully mature at the time. Thus, it was a risky assessment and decision. Nevertheless, your spouse voluntarily entered into this sacred covenant as did you.

Connect First

By: Dale Berry, Ph.D.

How do you approach your spouse when you first see them after a day away from one another? Do you seek out your spouse greeting him or her with enthusiasm? Or are you one who “does your own thing” and your spouse discovers you at home? In my experience personally and as a therapist who has seen hundreds of troubled marriages, my advice to you is to connect first. Connecting first means purposefully finding your spouse when you first arrive home rather than reading the mail, playing with children, getting on the computer, watching TV, or taking a rest. Find your spouse, greet with affection, ask him or her about their day, and be interested. You can rest, play, watch, and read later.

Guarding Our Soul Freedom

By: Dale Berry, Ph.D.

Freedom. We normally think about freedom in the context of national issues; fighting wars for our freedom; or fears of losing our constitutional freedoms. We do not often think about the freedom of our souls, but personal soul freedom has to be guarded, defended, and cherished.

Meditations of the Heart

By: Dale Berry, Ph.D.

What were you thinking before you started reading this article? We all think almost all the time. Have you ever considered what you are thinking about? At any given moment, you can stop and think about what you were thinking. My wife likes to ask me what I am thinking sometimes when we are driving long distances. One day she was hoping to hear sweet loving thoughts I was having about our time spent together. Unfortunately, my thoughts were about the quality of the road surface, the width of the road shoulders, and how well the Tennessee grass mowers do their jobs on the interstate. We had a laugh about that, but my thoughts did not impress her that day.

Miserable People

By: Dale Berry, Ph.D.

Have you spent time around a miserable person lately? It’s not too much fun for me. I suppose that if I were a miserable person myself, I might enjoy the company of another miserable person. I am not talking about the normal misery, suffering, or disillusionment that all of us feel and face periodically in life. I am talking about people who seem bent on being chronically miserable no matter the circumstances. I remember being amazed as I worked in a warehouse with co-workers who searched for the black linings in their silver clouds. There was no pleasing them because they seemed addicted to doom, complaints, and negativity.

More Than Meals: Caring for Those That Struggle

By: Lisa Duke, M.S., LPC

Southern comfort is often offered in a casserole. Food is a warm, reliable, connecting gesture of love; so when someone is hurting, it’s almost an instinct to provide meals. If you’re in the inner circle of someone who is suffering, however, meals alone won’t sustain healing. Genuine acts of presence and love can be life giving when emotional pain becomes a continual companion. Our family has walked through traumatic and traditional loss, and we’ve learned some valuable truths as we’ve sat at the foot of the cross.


By: Lori Hearn

Have you ever examined the details of a piece of tapestry or cross-stitch? It is amazing that so many tiny threads can be intricately woven to create such a beautiful work of art that so clearly displays the image the artist intended it to be. On the other hand, if you examine the back side of these masterpieces, you will notice that the threads appear to be a haphazard, tangled mess with no evidence of the artist’s creative design. One day, as I examined a beautiful tapestry, I became aware of how symbolic it was to our lives. For many, life seems like a tangled mess of haphazard circumstances. They view life as if it were the back side of the tapestry, unable to see how each circumstance of their life has meaning and purpose. For others, their life is a masterpiece of circumstances woven together by the hands of a loving and caring Creator. Each circumstance, good or bad, represents a thread that has been woven into the tapestry that represents their life. What differentiates these two groups of individuals? PERSPECTIVE!

Beauty from Broken Glass

By: Mary Beth Berry

Often we have heard that God makes beauty from ashes - that He uses the hard times in our lives to mold us and purify us just like a goldsmith might heat up the gold to burn the impurities out. Those hard times may or may not have resulted from direct choices that we made. However we usually want to ask the question, “Why?” We ask, “What should I have done differently to prevent this pain? I thought I was following God’s leading but I must have been mistaken. Now how do I trust myself to be listening and hearing God’s leading in my life?” We seem to think that if things are going well for us, we must be in tune with God’s will, but if disaster strikes in any form, it must be our mistake. We are very interested in avoiding pain and discomfort.

Be Still

By: Summers McMurray

I am a self-proclaimed master at multi-tasking. Seriously, in the evenings, you can find me cooking dinner for my family of five, while helping my son with his homework, while potty training both our new puppy and our two-year-old, while researching the cheapest price on toys for Christmas, while breaking up a fight between my two youngest kids, while returning a phone call, while clipping coupons, while... I could go on.

Lessons from a Peach Tree

By: Summers McMurray

This past weekend, I took my three kids to a local farm in order for us walk around the apple and peach orchards. Or more accurately, run crazily and scare all the nearby livestock. It was a gorgeous fall afternoon to get outside and enjoy the warm sunshine. While we tromped through the rows of peach trees, a sweet conversation between my two older children struck me with its truth and simplicity. My five-year-old daughter exclaimed, looking up into the green peach trees, “Oh no! There aren’t any peaches anymore. These trees must be dying.” To which my sometimes-wise-beyond-his-seven-years son replied, “No, silly, it’s just not their time to grow peaches. It’s not their season.” Hmm. Not their time. Not their season. It hit me like a bolt -- could it be that we, like the trees in an orchard, experience seasons, too? Could it be that we have periods of time in our lives when we produce fruit and times when we don’t? Could we have times of blooming growth and times of dropping our leaves?

Communicating With Your Teenager

By: Anneke Moody, LMSW

Telling people that I love working with teenagers and adolescents earns me a wide variety of responses:

“I couldn’t do what you do.”
“Ugh, I hated being a teenager. I’m so glad that’s over.” “Really?! Me too!”
“Just wait til your kids are that age. You won’t love it then.”

From these responses, it is clear that teenagers and the idea of adolescence can elicit strong feelings from many people. The task of parenting and communicating with a teen can bring about frustration, hopelessness, and fear. I have found in my work with teenagers and adolescents that one of the most challenging aspects is helping them communicate with their parents, and their parents with them. I often tell parents and their teenager that it is much easier for me as a therapist to listen well to teenagers because I don’t have the added responsibility of parenting them. However, I think it is vital for the health of any parent-child relationship that a parent learns to listen well, even if it means resisting the urge to give input or correction in the moment.

The Power of Intimacy in Relationships

By: Ed Moore, M.A.

When you hear the word intimacy, what do you think of? Go ahead and let your thoughts go and form a mental picture of intimacy. In case you need a little help creating a picture of what intimacy looks like, I'd like to suggest a few questions that might help:

  • What things do you picture yourself doing or talking about?

  • What emotions are you feeling?

  • What is the person you are sharing intimacy with like? What are his or her traits?

    If possible, write down what you are seeing and experiencing. Those things will be invaluable on our tour of taking a deeper look at intimacy in relationships.


By: Gretchen Norris, M.S., N.C.C

A poor night’s sleep, we’ve all experienced it at different times in our lives. It’s no fun. If you’ve spent a good part of a night tossing and turning, it inevitably impacts you the next day. We’re grumpy, short-tempered, and have a lower tolerance for anything that might irritate us. We compensate by downing large doses of Starbucks and count the hours until we can sleep again.

Forgiveness: Feelings or Choice?

By: Richard Petsch

We all have experienced hurt from comments or actions of others. There are some who have suffered the horrible trauma of violent action. Our inability or failure in those situations to move toward forgiveness is often responsible for the development of emotional difficulties, and at times, physical conditions.

Anger in the Life of the Christian

By: Dan Sartor, Ph.D., N.C.C.

Anger is a common human emotion associated with intense displeasure. For most of us, anger is accompanied by strong bodily sensations, such as going flush, feeling hot, and muscles tension. It has both psychological and physiological aspects, affecting the whole person, mind and body. For this reason, some people are greatly intimated by their own anger, fearful of losing control of their feelings or behaviors. Some are greatly intimidated by the anger of others, avoiding it at almost all costs. Others enjoy the power they feel when they are angry or when they display their anger and rage. Undoubtedly, we all have been deeply wounded by another’s wrath, or we have regretted the pain we’ve caused by words or actions expressed in our own anger. For these reasons, anger is often associated with broken relationships and sin.

Communicating Through Conflict: Aiming for Intimacy

By: Dan Sartor, Ph.D., N.C.C.

The Dance: Every couple creates a dance of words, actions, and feelings that shape the habits of our daily interactions. A couple’s dance may be characterized by creative and spontaneous connection or painful and predictable conflict. In an unhealthy dance, we step on each other’s toes, falling into power struggles, alienation, and resentment. Repetition of these painful behaviors can tap the pain of past relational difficulties and feed our worst expectations for failure. Instead of opening paths to intimacy and connection, conflict becomes the point of hurt, anger, and loneliness. At these times we need fresh effort to change the steps of our communication and to renew our trust in one another.

Overcoming Winter Depression

By: Daniel C. Sartor, Ph.D., N.C.C.

Have the shorter, colder days of winter decreased your productivity, energy level, and overall mood? Although most people feel some negative impact from the arrival of winter—to mention little of the common hangover fatigue from the financial and family stresses of the holidays—some individuals are affected enough to have a psychological condition commonly referred to as winter depression. According to a 2005 report from the National Mental Health Association, an estimated ten million Americans suffer from winter-onset depression, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a form of clinical depression that occurs cyclically and predictably each winter, with fairly consistent times of onset and remission based on the changing of seasons. The National Mental Health Association also reports that three out of four individuals diagnosed with Sad are women; however, men tend to have more severe symptoms. This condition usually onsets between the ages of 18- and 30-years of age. Also, as one might expect, winter depression is more common in the northern regions where the season is longer and harsher than it is in the southern regions.

Cobwebs of Life

By: Sharon Sitler

As I write this, Halloween will be upon us in about 2 weeks. Even though I’m not a real fan of Halloween and won’t purport to discuss the spiritual implications of the holiday. The holiday and some spiders got me thinking about cobwebs. Over the last several months, I’ve had spiders in my bedroom, in the bathroom, in my office (a totally different building) and last but not least in my car. In Florida I was used to roaches, so I’d certainly trade spiders over roaches any day. Believe it or not, I actually had a spider spin a web off the ceiling and come and sit down beside as I was watching Spiderman 2 on TV! A lot of this has been pretty humorous, but the last straw for me was coming out of a two hour hair appointment and finding that a spider had woven a web from my car steering wheel to my car seat!

Trauma and Pain

By: Sharon Sitler

Recently I was diagnosed with a problem with my Sciatic nerve area and can be very painful at times. I have struggled with different phases of this problem for the last 15-20 years. Basically, the problem includes symptoms that don’t allow you to sit for more than 10-20 min at a time or stand more than 30 min without hurting. It also hurts if you exercise too much and hurts if you don’t exercise enough or at all. Over the last 15 yrs or so, I’ve been to two different Orthopedic surgeons, had injections, been to Physical Therapists, was given exercises to do, have seen Licensed Massage Therapists and finally saw two different Chiropractors. But, nothing made the problem go away and generally my quality of life has become more and more restricted. Although the pain would come and go, I’ve not been able to do everyday activities such as cooking meals for my family without being in pain over the last year and half.