The B word

It’s that time of year when the B word starts rearing its head,
The kids know that the B word is not allowed, nothing will make their parents breathe fire and go insane like the B word.

If you are fighting boredom
Clean your room.
If you’ve done that, clean the house.
If you’ve done that, clean somebody else’s house.

Find work
If you can’t find work, volunteer.
Find something new to learn.
Or a good book to read.

Find your purpose, mission, passion.
If you’ve found that, do what you do better and do it with others.
If you haven’t, find a mentor or try something new.
(If you can’t find something new to try, clean your room again)
If you can’t find a mentor, find someone to mentor.
If you can’t find someone to mentor, find someone to serve.

Find God.
If you’ve done that, pursue Him, go deeper.
If you’ve done that, tell someone else how they can too.
Create something.
If you’ve done that, share it, give it away.
If it’s not awesome, find a way to make it better.

If you’ve done that and are still bored, listen better. 
Ask God, what does He want you to do. 
I don’t know what that is, but I am pretty sure He doesn’t want you to be bored. 

(If you can do one or two of those things and still say you’re bored come over to my house and I will throat punch you. Just kidding. Kind of.)

If you can honestly say you’ve done all that and you are still bored, then help someone else do those things.
If you can do all that and still are bored, maybe you aren’t bored, maybe you’re burnt out. 

I hope if you’ve read this that you realize life with God and others is too awesome to be bored.

Don’t be bored.
Be awesome.
Be responsible.
Be generous.
Have a great summer.

A few links for Mental Health Awareness Month

It’s Mental Health Awareness Month and I missed posting a few mental health links yesterday for Mental Health Blogging Day. 

Here’s a few things I’ve been wanting to share. I’ll be posting more resources, blogs, articles that I’ve found helpful and interesting. 

1) I’m looking forward to attending this event May 30th on Mental Illness & the Church: Shattering Stigma coming to New Hope Community Church

You can learn more about the event and Tara Rolstad’s heart to shatter the stigma of mental health in the church in her interview on Rose City Forum last month with Andee Zomerman Tara wrote a great blog this week on things we need to stop saying in church to those struggling with mental illness and their family and friends who are supporting them. 

2) One of the things I am passionate about is helping seminary students, pastors and ministry leaders is emotionally healthy spirituality, self-care and burnout.

Liz von Ehrenkrook wrote about her burnout and I loved this part especially

 “I don’t know when it happened exactly, but I began to lose sight of myself and let myself go. Inordinate amounts of learning lessons coupled with personal reflection and analyzing behavior led to my burnout.” 

It stood out because it is essentially what counseling and ministry students are intentionally put through.

It is also one of the challenges the introverts and creatives I work with have from being so darn introspective and thoughtful.

It’s great and at the same time it can be so exhausting. 

I just started reading Liz’s blog and am really enjoying her perspectives on ministry and life and appreciate how transparent she is about what she’s learned so far. Plus, the pictures that accompany her blogs look amazing!

3) This is a great website for veterans and anyone dealing with PTSD.

I have had a change to explore it yet but the smartphone PTSD coach looks like a very help tool.

 4) this infographic is from Mental Health America which is doing a lot to raise awareness of mental health issues.


First post on porn and social media

The first time I heard about this thing called “MySpace” was about 12 years ago.
It was when I first learned about social media.
(I also learned about twitter and podcasts from patients)

A client told me about MySpace being this site where bands write info about themselves, post music and interact with fans.
He was also constantly fighting his girlfriend about being on it. He was jealous of the time and jealous of the relationships she was building. She kept telling him he was being insecure, unreasonable and jealous; it was not a big deal.  But it was, to him. And therefore, them.

So, from the first time I heard about social media it’s been associated with the damage it can do on relationships.

These days social media comes up in most sessions counseling and coaching sessions.
We were even introduced to an online tool for promoting and supporting healthy lifestyles (nutrition, physical activity, stress management) that emphasizes social media at Kaiser today.

I’ll be writing a lot about porn and sexual addiction here on the blog but I’ll also be writing about social media and it’s impact on relationships, childhood development and our emotional and spiritual health.
The way porn and social media are used are just symptoms, symptoms of the way we live, the things we are living and longing for, individually and as a society.

One of the most destructive things that porn teaches is to comfort yourself
in isolation.
To cope stress and escape from reality instead of being connected, to hide.
I think one of the most dangerous things about FB, social media and our phones/tablets that maybe make it even more destructive individually and to us as families is it allows us to hide in plain sight.
And while we may feel some level of shame to want to hide our addictions to things that are more “unacceptable…” from our kids, it’s becoming increasingly common and acceptable to neglect our children, friends and present company to escape to our screens.
And I don’t think it’s fair for us as parents to bemoan our kids spending too much time on video games or online when whenever they happen to put down their controller or phone and look over at us we are not available or present for them.
We are teaching them what life is about and how to live it by our examples.
And toddlers are smart enough to see what we are giving our lives to.

Sometimes when I’m driving home from counseling I write things in response to what I’ve heard.
Things I wish I could say to my clients.
Here’s a spoken word I wrote one night awhile ago on the loneliness and disconnection social media is creating and reinforcing in marriages:

There was a time when
you couldn’t keep your eyes
or your hands off of me
Now your eyes are reserved for that screen
your hands are devoted to that iPad
These days the only time I hear you laugh or see you smile
is to stupid videos on youTube
You give your best to strangers on your screen
These days the only thing I hear from you is your irritation and annoyance.
You give me, contempt
Where did we go wrong?

I stopped reaching out to you.
You didn’t notice.
I can’t handle your silent rejection
I swear I get so angry I just want to take a hammer
to that damn tablet

But I don’t
Because deep down inside
I’m afraid
I’m afraid that you’d be even more angry
Even more angry at
losing it
than the fact that you are losing me
What did I do to deserve this disdain?
I want to say all this to you
but you can’t be bothered
so I retreat to my iPhone
And wonder

Do you feel the same?

I love shame lifters

One thing that draws me to people who have wrestled with God besides the humility that comes from their wounding is that they often have also had their masks ripped off in the process and know who they truly are.

Wm Paul Young is one of those people.
A shame lifter.
I went to an event called Where is God When…? this weekend here in Portland.
It was an evening of story and music exploring loss, brokenness and surrender.
He talked about his losses.
His abuse from an early age.
The façade he constructed to cover his shame.
The ways he betrayed and hurt his wife, family and friends.

It reminded me of the excruciating irony that the thing we are so scared of – our shame being uncovered and revealed – is actually the thing that we need to begin to be unburdened and heal from it.
To speak the unspeakable, to finally tell the truth, frees us from the lies and façades that have trapped us.

One of the most devastating moments was the picture of himself as a little boy. One of the saddest things I have ever seen.
Another reason I love shame lifters is that they not only rescue the lost and hurting child inside of themselves by telling the truth and seeking help but they rescue those hurting children in others. They break cycles of pain and trauma and abuse that have occurred for generations. In homes and in churches.

Paul Young lifts shame by holding back none of his secrets.
By standing on a stage and sharing what has happened to him and what he did and showing he survived through many things like the love and wrath of God through his wife, the help of his friends and therapist.

To paraphrase him (and Francis Chan)
Our failures and brokenness are unwanted gifts that can prevent us from succeeding at the wrong things, the things that ultimately don’t matter.

A very powerful evening, I was grateful to be a part of.
During the time the audience was allowed to respond I prayed for several people I wish could have heard what he and the other authors had shared.
I hope the video of the night will be available in the future.

One way to handle a quarterlife crisis

Take your quarterlife or midlife crisis,
cut it up into bite size pieces,
schedule it weekly and
it’s no longer a crisis,
it’s counseling. 

Everyone has to face questions of purpose and meaning eventually, counseling lets you chose when and with who you process it with.

The best time to have a midlife crisis is 15 years ago.

And when you let God get ahold of your fears, and more importantly,
get hold of you,
You can say with growing confidence
“We got this”

Writers are healers.

Writers are healers.

I went to a writer’s conference recently.

I went there as someone who isn’t a writer, not wanting the “writing life” or to “go pro”.

I’m a counselor who writes.

I write because it helps me be a better counselor, husband, dad and Christ follower.

I actually write every day because I think every day; writing helps me think better thoughts.

It also helps me ask better questions which, as a counselor, is paramount.

I discovered one surprising thing though.

Writers are my people.

I knew they love words, love books and love reading, that they are thoughtful and creative – that wasn’t a surprise.

Writers are my people because writers are healers.

They are healers because in the same what that hurt people hurt people, healed people heal people.

They are healers because they are truth tellers and the truth heals and sets us free.

They show the way and give us hope that we can go through the healing process of facing and telling our stories.

Emily Freeman encouraged us to pay attention to what our tears are trying to tell us, I think writers have found that words are like tears, the words they write are messages from our hearts that are longing to be brought to light.

A graced people also grace people.

They can’t help but share the grace they’ve been given.

They know that the unshared parts of ourselves, the unknown, the undisclosed secrets and memories are the unloved and unhealed parts of ourselves.

The parts that blindside us at really inconvenient times in our relationships and work.

The parts that drive behavior that disconnects us from others and God.

Writers are people that know that telling our stories both help us express and discover our best selves; they know that vulnerability is both terrifying and liberating at the same time.

Are you a writer? If you are, what’s something you’ve learned or been surprised by lately?

If you aren’t a writer, I encourage you to give it a try. Even 15-20 minutes, a few times a week, just like exercise can make a big difference in your emotional and spiritual health.

It’s a great way to grow and heal, get clarity on decisions and manage stress.

First post on being and becoming a parent

Parenting: growing into the world’s biggest feet

awkward at first

it gets easier if you don’t wreck yourselves

in the falling down parts

Amazing really, in the other parts of life we learn, work and serve, demonstrate things like dependability, loyalty, integrity and character and then we are given more responsibility.

With parenting, you’re given this huge responsibility from the start!

It’s not earned.

It’s this amazing gift, to be responsible for another living breathing human being.

We start with the gift and we grow into the role.

And depending on how we’ve grown up how ready and confident we are to fill that role varies, greatly.

As big a job as it is, I think understanding it just is – that it’s not something to be earned or something that can be taken away – can take away a lot of the pressure and stress, especially for young parents.

You don’t have to be perfect to become Mom.

You don’t have to fight your way to become Dad.

You just are.

You’ll have to fight to stay connected and be awesome for sure.

But there’s always time for stress later.

For starters, and on some later days in the adventures and journey, it’s enough to just know that it’s both

who you are becoming

and who you are.

The same gift, the same grace, at the start is still available and true for every day thereafter.



Marriage Counseling for those who need it but won’t go

One of the main things I’d like to blog about is marriage counseling.
If you read or follow this blog you’ll learn about what marriage counseling is like in general and counseling with me specifically.
Not everyone would want or be able to do counseling or coaching with me in person but I want to share the things that I’ve seen that is helpful to the clints I’ve worked with.
If I write enough perhaps there will be enough for a book someday:
Marriage Counseling for those who won’t go but need it.
Even if that doesn’t ever happen, I hope these posts will encourage you in the meantime.

One thing about coming to marriage counseling is you don’t really go for answers as much as the questions.
You can get a ton of helpful info on the Internet and in books about marriage, communication, resolving conflict, parenting; I’ll be sharing my favorite resources here in fact.
What counseling does beyond passing along information and advice is help you process the info in a helpful, relevant way by making it personal to you.
One way is by bringing up questions like,
“What’s one thing that you wish your spouse understood about your right now?”
“What’s one thing your spouse could do or say that would help you trust them better?”

The insight you get from the questions isn’t what really produces change either,
it’s the choices you make.

The choices you make together by going through the process of exploring what’s really going on inside, untangling all the things that are influencing your present experience and getting more clarity on who you really are or what to become.
There’s a lot of things that get in the way of doing what we could or should for our spouse, counseling explores what’s getting in the way, getting in the way of choosing to try or start again

I recently rewatched the movie Unbreakable. It had a scene I hadn’t really remembered or took note of before but demonstrates the power of choice.
Robin Wright plays Megan, wife to David played by Bruce Willis’.
They’ve been married twelve years but estranged.
His survived a recent train crash.

One night, she asks him,
“Have you been with with anyone?
Since we started having problems?
The answer won’t affect me…it won’t affect me either way.”

He shakes his head “No”
And she sobs with relief.

She tells him,
“My decision is…
I’d like to start again.
Pretend we’re at the beginning.

It’s a big deal you walked away from that train.
It’s a second chance.

If you want to ask me out sometime, that would be okay.”

I loved that. I try my best to help couples find their way back, to start again, like at the beginning.
Marriage counseling serves to create those kairos moments (described in Essentialism by Greg McKeown), those moments of opportunity in the here-and-now that inspire you to choose, to start over, to change, to grow.

The best advice or writing I can give you isn’t as important as the choice you’re willing to make for the good of your marriage and your spouse.

Is there anything that you’ve been wanting to do for your spouse that you just need to make it happen and do?

Is there anything you’d like me to write about?


Do you have what it takes?

Why is it so hard to change? To do something awesome?
One thing that the resistance throws at us is the question:

Do you have what it takes?

Really, it’s a variation of Who do you think you are?
If you want to overcome this – assume you do.
Assume you have what it takes.
That you have what you need or that is available to you.
Or that someone knows the answers.
That they’ve been where you’ve been and gone through what you have
Or something similar

Assume people believe in you
That people need you
That what you’ll do will make a difference
Assume that there’s a lot at stake
Assume that if God is calling you to it there is a way to do it
Assume that it’s worth it
Assume that it matters

Assume it will be hard
That 24 hrs a day won’t seem like enough
Assume that the people who have succeeded in what you want to change had those same 24 hrs  to work with
Assume you might fail
That you will not do it perfectly
That your first version won’t be the final or best version
Assume that what you do imperfectly will be better than doing nothing at all
And that the people that matter, will get that
And actually love you for it, the imperfections.

No, do you have what it takes really isn’t the issue.

Will you *do* what it takes?

That’s the question.

Welcome to my blog


Photo by Worlds Apart Studios


I’ve spent a lot of time with people.
Sometimes I talk but mostly I listen.
I’ve heard a lot of stories and I’ve learned a lot about life from them.
Stories that are full of pain, anxiety, evil and addiction.
Stories full of grace, love, freedom, beauty and redemption.
Stories that make me rush home to hug my kids and kiss my wife.
Stories that remind me that God is a creator and in control but often life crushes our dreams and plans.

I’ve been writing for the past few years on Facebook and had a blog that I last wrote on 6 years ago.
I’m starting this blog for my friends, family and clients to share what I’ve learned about emotional and spiritual health as a counselor and what I’ve learned as a husband and father.

I hope my words will
Help you understand who you are and know God’s love
Help you discover your strengths, purpose, mission and calling in life
encourage you in the overwhelm of life
Help you have healthy boundaries and communication with friends, family and co-workers
Help you find a balance with your time that allows you to be effective in what you want to do and who you want to be

I want to inspire you
To change and grow by taking actions and setting goals
To express your passions and create the art you have in your heart
To understand the power of grace and empathy for yourself and with others
To heal from the wounds of your past
To break free from addiction
To risk putting down your masks and be vulnerable and authentic with others so that you might be known and experience the joy of intimacy and not struggle with isolation and loneliness
To love well
If you are a husband or wife, to have a great marriage
To have a great relationship with your kids

There is a healing power in stories.
My goal is to try to write at least once or twice weekly.

I welcome your feedback and questions.
Later this year I will launch a podcast on marriage and parenting where I’ll sit down and do what I do better than writing: talk to people about their story and the lessons they’ve learned.