Reason for the Season

Christmas Eve, for me as a child, was one of the longest days ever! As an adult, I find this day to be one filled with anticipation and excitement, for spiritually I know that tomorrow we commemorate the birth of Jesus my Lord. But today the birth is not my focus, rather, my focus turns to His mother, Mary. Mary, an unwed teenager from a small town in a desert is asked the impossible; to trust so deeply in God when asked to bear God's son. I have no doubt that Mary's "yes" came with some hesitation and trepidation. And I'm sure she did not always have a pleasant time of it when dealing with her future husband, her family, and just the fact of being pregnant in general. Yet, through it all, Mary never gave up.

Jesus was born to this poor teenage girl in a stable in a small town in the far reaches of the Roman empire.  He was born to a girl who took a leap of faith and trusted in her God. She persevered, not knowing the outcome.  Onward she traveled, despite hardship and fear.

For me, Christmas is not only a…

Read more: Trust is the meaning of Christmas Eve

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"In winter we lead a more inward life. Our hearts are warm and cheery, like cottages under drifts, whose windows and doors are half concealed, but from whose chimneys the smoke cheerfully ascends."  Henry David Thoreau

My house after the first of two blizzards to hit in 2010 (credit: Blog Author)

Today, our planet is tilted in such a way that half of us will experience the shortest day of the solar year, the Winter Solstice. Personally, this is my favorite time of the year, for as Thoreau so poetically wrote, this is the time of the year most suited for leading an inward life.

I grew up in the northern part of the US where the days were short, the nights long, and snow blowing in the bitter wind. Ah, heaven! The sun would set around 4:00pm or so and a purplish haze would envelop the area just prior to the arrival of darkness; my favorite time of the day. Why? I'm not really sure, to be honest. It may be because that's where I grew up and so the memory of cold winter evenings brings a warmth to my thoughts. It may be because of my penchant for quiet…

Read more: tips for finding hope in winter

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{eds. note: This is a guest blog written by counselor Catherine McConnell. Click here for her website.}

Everyone knows that “drugs are bad, mmkay.” We’ve all heard it, “just say no,” “addiction is a disease,” and it has been glamorized for our entertainment in shows like “Intervention.” But what if it was more than that? What if I told you, that I can assist in treating addiction without EVER uttering a word about the drug?

I work with mandated Child Protective Services (CPS) cases and I see a lot of people who are forced to come to therapy.  Some of them are ready to quit and some aren’t. Do you know what they all have in common? Pain. There is no addiction without pain.  They come in expecting to be judged, to be told that drugs are bad and how they affect the body. They come in angry and looking for a fight. They want to tell me all the reasons they aren’t an awful human being (I agree with them there!). They’re often taken aback at my approach. I’m a little different. I listen… and then I ask “what are you running from?”…

Read more: A Different Perspective on Addiction

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To quote a popular song of the season: “It's the most wonderful time of the year!” While this sentiment may be true for many of us, it is not necessarily the shared sentiment of everyone. As the end of the year mark's a time for celebrations, holidays, and traditions which bring together families and spark feelings of joy, there are those whose memories and sentiments of this time of the year are quite different from customarily expected.

There are those who suffer from mental illness or whose memories of the holiday season are not of pleasant times. It is unfortunate that many of us forget that not everyone perceives this time of the year in the same way that we do. I'm not writing this to chastise anyone or to bring down the mood the season. What I am saying is that we need to be mindful of those around us who may be suffering while we celebrate.

Many of us feel the burden of unreasonable expectations for perfection this time of the year. While we still have our day-to-day tasks to do we must also decorate, buy gifts, and attend social functions. These expectations can cause stress and…

Read more: Tips For Helping Those Who Are Suffering During The Holidays

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“All we have is the present moment. Focus on it; don't miss an experience by living outside of the current moment.” - Chris Shea

This time of the year, between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, is expected to typically be a time of joy, family gatherings, and the celebration of traditions. This is a time of the year when I reflect upon my childhood memories; memories filled with awe and wonder as the world seemed to be magical. Unfortunately, this time of the year is also one of increased stress due to all the activities we feel we need to do. Our wish to make this time of the year "perfect" increases our expectations, many of them unreasonable, causing us to overwork in our planning efforts.

"Preparing Christmas" Norman Rockwell

As a child I fondly recall watching the animated Christmas specials and reading all the Christmas books I could find. All of those stories not only have a positive ending, most of them depict a time of perfection. In these stories families gather and get along with each other, the house is majestically decorated, the dining room table set to rival the fanciest restaurant. My favorite American painter, Norman…

Read more: Coping with the stress of the holidays

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