Common Attitudes

The outcome of the election shows how people are not as accepting as I hoped. It is a common attitude to get people to conform our else be excluded. Sadly, too many American Christians are acting just like the world in their lack of compassion, lack of kindness, and lack of tenderness particularly towards those who are oppressed and downtrodden.

Jesus said that blessed are the peacemakers. Taking a stand for the less fortunate, minorities, the mentally ill and the outcast and promoting peace tends to run counter to the Evangelical movement. Taking a stand for justice is not a priority for the American church like I hoped. It seems as though the gospel and peacemaking are at odds with each other.

As someone with mental illness, I have come a long way, playing by the rules as best as I can. Many will think that mentally ill people who sincerely follow their passions need to adjust better to society. I agree that healthy people who are less needy are more able to function well in society, but that is no reason for healthy people to look down on others who are struggling. We are all mentally ill to one degree or another. Mentally ill people are challenged to adapt to the ways of the world, including excluding others who don’t measure up or conform. I believe adaptation goes both ways. The mentally ill in America still deserve more respect and support than they are receiving.

There are still people being judged despite doing the best they can, who are rejected and discriminated against needlessly. We need to take a stand for justice and for civil rights as well as be more compassionate to those who have trouble adjusting instead of looking down on them.

Posted in Acceptance, Accuse, Achievement mentality, Advocacy, Agape Love, Aloneness, American Christianity, American Culture, Anti-Bullying, Approval, Behavioral Health, Being fit enough, Being Liked, Belonging, Bi-polar Disorder, Broken Hearted, Bullying, Change the World, Childlikeness, Civil Rights, cliques, Compassion, Condemnation, Conflict, Conformity, Cooperatrion, Degraded, Demoralization, Demoralized, Deny, Depression, Desires, Destiny, Determination, Devalued, Difficulty, Disapproval, Discord, Discredited, Disdain, Division, Double Standards, Dreams, Embrace, empathy, Encouragement, Exclusion, Fear, Fundamentalism, Gentleness, Good enough, Homeless, Hurt, Identity, Included, Inclusion, Injustice, Intolerance, Judging, Love, Low Income, Making a difference, Making an Impact, Matters of the Heart, Measuring up, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Mercy, Ministry of Reconciliation, Mission, Need, needy, Outcast, Outcasts, Overcoming, Passion, Passionate, Peace, Peacemaking, Penalization, Performance Mentality, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Priorities, Reconciliation, Rejection, Relationships, Respect, Self- Rigteousness, Shame, Social Faux Passes, Social Norms, social skills, Society, Special needs kids, Support, sweetness, sympathy, Tenderness, Trust, Uncategorized, Unconditional Love, Understanding, Unity, Valued, Values, Well-Being, Wellness, Worth | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Comfort in the midst of conflict

I was taking Mercy for a typical walk as the sun was setting. We went through the playground like we have so many times before. There is a group of kids that often come out to pet Mercy. She had her typical interactions with the kids, a few girls and a small boy. The small boy tries to climb on Mercy and so I gently correct him so as for him not to climb on her. Mercy was smart enough to walk away this time.

Suddenly, I heard a woman raise her voice, using profanity as a boy ran off of the playground. Apparently, she was infuriated as to how he was treating the other kids. “He’s just a boy.” said one of the other adults. I am not sure if the person defending the child was his father. The woman continued to yell using profanity as she walked our way. She quietly slipped past Mercy while the other kids were stroking her, obviously in need of her comforting prescense. One of the girls petting Mercy was the woman’s daughter actually. The argument between the woman and the other adults then escalated. One by one the kids bid Mercy farewell.

As I left I could her her yelling and asking her daughter to get her father.

My heart breaks over kids having to witness loud exchanges, or arguments, which can sometimes escalate into domestic disputes. I wish to minister to children and adults who have been victims of domestic violence.

Disputes and conflict, unfortunately, are all too common. It is possible that the lad the woman was yelling after had been bullying other kids. Kids needs to learn responsible behavior and to be taught not to mistreat others, however, it is also not okay for adults to verbally abuse children, regardless of what they have done. I am determined to do something to promote peace, unity and harmony and decrease strife among peoples after I get my counseling degree. I am passionate about peace and I wish to make my contribution to the world by helping others resolve conflict with or without a dog at my side.

Posted in Accuse, Advocacy, Agreement, Anti-Bullying, Arguments, Boys, Bullying, Calling, Change the World, Children, Comfort, Conflict, Cooperation, Counseling, Disapproval, Discord, Displeasure, Division, Dogs, Domestic disputes, Fear, Golden Retriever, Harmony, Healing, Human Animal Bond, In Agreement, Judging, Ministry of Reconciliation, Mission, Paradise Lost, Peace, Peacemaking, Pet therapy, Purpose, Reconciliation, Strife, sweetness, Therapuetic, Therapy, Therapy Dogs, Uncategorized, Unity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Striving to be enough?

Often times I struggle to be fit enough for some things. I often feel degraded then rejected and excluded from what is important to me for messing up even with those things I am passionate about. I have been dealing with a lot lately, but I will spare the details for now. We should not feel like have to measure up in order to be included in what is worthwhile to us. I have felt that way however, and consequently, I feel as though I have to strive for achievement in order to live a satisfying life. I often feel degraded and devalued and therefore don’t feel capable of pursuing my endeavors. It need not to be that way. I recently visited a beautiful church, and God told me inside the church that I am not supposed to be able to make my life better. That’s up to Him. I will also believe in myself in Jesus Christ

We are often taught social norms that are contrary to God’s teachings, and me end up with a works mentality or achievement mindset, which combines legalism with materialism. As a result, we strive for control out of fear of losing what is valuable to us. We end up chasing happiness, seeking it in the wrong places. So please, if your children make an honest mistake, please don’t accuse them of doing something serious, lest they feel shamed. It certainly doesn’t empower them. They don’t need to be feeling stressed about being good enough for what matters by the time they are grown up. Unfortunately, it has happened to me, even into my adulthood. I am still seeking God for His grace and other answers and not giving up.

In light of all of this, I also encourage people to spend time with one another eating at one another’s tables instead of being about work and performance. This is the attitude Mary chose while Martha concerned herself with making everything perfect. Obligation driveness  and people pleasing out of fear of being disqualified is what society has wrongly taught us. It is far better to love someone from the heart. Don’t allow anyone to doubt your ability and willingness to serve (at least “correctly”) when you have a servant’s heart who wants to give to people what is best for them. There are no persons succeeding at the expense of the other or rejection or disqualification when we work together in cooperation, unity, and harmony since together, everyone achieves more.

Posted in Acceptance, Accomplishments, Accuse, Accused, Achievement mentality, Achievements, Advocacy, Agreement, American Culture, Animal Assisted Therapy, Approval, Authenticity, Autism Awareness, Being fit enough, Believe, Belonging, Bi-polar Disorder, Burnout, Calling, Challenges, Christianity, cliques, Closed Doors, Cohesion, Common Purpose, Compassion, Competence, Competition, Cooperation, Degraded, Demoralization, Demoralized, Depending on God, Destiny, Devalued, Difficulty, Disappointment, Disapproval, Discord, Discouragement, Discredited, Division, Dog Training, Dreams, Driven, Empowerment, Encouragement, Enrichment, Exclusion, Faith, Fulfillment, Fundamentalism, Giving, Giving up on someone, Goals, God's Glory, God's Love, God's Presence, God's Will, Good enough, Grace, Growth, Guidance, Happiness, Harmony, Healing, Health, Health Care, Heart, Hope, Human Animal Bond, Identity, Important Endeavors, Included, Inclusion, Inova Fairfax Hospital, Jesus Christ, Judging, Leadership, Light, Luke 10:38-42, Making a difference, Making an Impact, Matters of the Heart, Meaningful, Meaningful Life, Meaningful Purpose, Measuring up, Mental Health, Messing up, Ministry of Reconciliation, Mission, Mixed Messages, Opportunities, Overcoming, Passion, Peacemaking, Persistence, Pet therapy, Prayer, Purpose, Qualified, Quality of life, Reconciliation, Rejection, Relationships, Relaxation, Respect, Second chances, Seeking God, Serve, Serving, Setbacks, Shame, Social Norms, Stress, Strive, Struggling, Success, Teamwork, Thriving, Togetherness, Trust, Trusting God, Understanding, Unity, Values, Vocation | Leave a comment

Persistence pays off

After a few setbacks, Mercy and I are back in the saddle. God was dealing with me for a while, purifying my heart and humbling me. Back last November, I decided that I would let my Therapy Dogs Inc., (now Alliance Therapy Dogs) expire. I attended a Pet Partners workshop, then took the Pet Partners evaluation a month later. We passed. I saw a saying on the wall motivating me to give my life to serving God, for the evaluation actually took place in a church. I filed my paperwork, and received my credentials. I found out about the Animal Assisted care program at Inova  Fairfax Hospital through the Pet Partners workshop I attended. It took a while, a few months to go through the volunteer requirements and in the meantime, no other prospects appeared to be opening up like two TB tests and a flu shot. I remember how depressed I felt as I dragged myself into the pharmacy to get the required flu shot. I was wondering, “Is this even going to work out or be worth it?” since it seems that for the last couple of years, my efforts went unrewarded. I have had so many trials and errors both in pursuing activities with Mercy and other areas of my life with roadblocks and such. I also took my fifth class in pursuing my Masters in the behavioral sciences department at Liberty University, Multicultural Competence in Counseling this past winter.12994543_960744733980580_1911693422186824092_n It is only by God’s grace that I made it as far as I did. Even now, my computer seems to be resisting me typing up this blog. It is not how much one appears to be accomplishing on the outside, but what they have had to overcome that counts. I finally made it into the program. My first visit with Mercy to Inova Fairfax was on April 1st. We went this past Friday as well. It was so worth it. Mercy got to visit pediatric patients and get on the bed with them, wagging her tail the whole way, while the patients were overjoyed with smiles and giggles! Stacey Harris has been so helpful in initiating me into the program. Unlike some other therapy dog groups, where there seems to unspoken rules, the requirements of the Animal Assisted Care program are more explicit. I had also been invited to perform a shift at the Accessibility Conference, which took place a McLean Bible Church this past Saturday.

I am learning self-acceptance as I focus on believing that I am lovable, capable  and valuable as I focus on God’s love. I depend on God’s goodness and righteousness. I shall continue to share His love with others and glorify Him as I do His bidding and pursue the highest cause in the universe, His kingdom.

Posted in Access Ministry, Accomplishments, Agape Love, Animal Assisted Therapy, Assessibility Summit, Autism, Autism Awareness, Behavioral Health, Believe, Belonging, Calling, Career, Challenges, Change the World, Children, cliques, Closed Doors, Comfort, Compassion, Competence, Confidence, Counseling, Dealing with Reality, Depending on God, Depression, Destiny, Determination, Difficulty, Divine, Dog Training, Dream, Dreams, Embrace, Empowerment, Encouragement, Enrichment, Faith, Faithfulness, Fulfillment, Future, Goals, God, God's Glory, God's Goodness, God's Grace, God's Kingdom, God's Love, God's Presence, Golden Retriever, Goodness, Grace, Growth, Hard Work, Health, Heart, Hope, Human Animal Bond, Humility, Identity, Important, Important Endeavors, Included, Inclusion, Inova Fairfax Hospital, Inspiration, Jesus Christ, Joy, Kindness, Leadership, Liberty University, Life, Life Change, Life Transformation, Light, Love, Lovelyness, Making a difference, Making an Impact, Meaning, Meaningful Purpose, Mental Health, Mercy, Ministry, Mission, Obedience, Open Doors, Overcoming, Patience, Pay it Forward, Peace, Persistence, Prayer, Priorities, Purpose, Pursuing, Reassurance, Righteousness, Seeking God, Service, Serving, Setbacks, soothe, soothing, Special needs kids, Struggling, Success, sympathy, Tenderness, Therapuetic, Therapy, Therapy Dogs, Trust, Trusting God, Uncategorized, Unspoken Rules, Valuable, Worth, Worthwhile, Worthwhile Endeavors | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God is directing me on a new path

I know I have not written in a long time. I have suffered some setbacks with Mercy since my last post. Mercy has needed more training to renew her skills and manners lately. Needless to say, life has been very stressful lately.

I need people who believe in me who will help build me up and set me up for success, instead of other dog people giving up on me, excluding me or ratting me out when Mercy and I are having difficulties. I know that Mercy has great potential. I am made to feel like Mercy and I must stand on the porch because we are facing a few hiccups. The lack of grace in the dog world is more than I can stand sometimes. It makes me feel as though I do not matter. Some people involved with therapy dogs will devalue rather than compassionately help someone to overcome who is slipping up. What I really need is more understanding and support, not penalization. For one, I struggle with social skills because I have a form of high functioning autism as I mentioned before on my blog. I am also working on dealing with fear drivenness, shame and arrested emotional development from my past.

Thankfully, I have found a dog trainer 30 miles away who will help me get Mercy back on track.

I have strongly considered giving up my Therapy Dogs Inc. (Now Alliance Therapy Dogs) credentials and trading them in for Pet Partners credentials. Yes, they are stricter, for good reason, but they are also more supportive. If you are sincerely working with your dog, doing your best to be a competent therapy dog handler, some local Pet Partners instructors/evaluators will work with you to ensure success. I was a Pet Partner 10-12 years ago with my previous dog, a Lab/German Shepherd mix named Coal. I retired Coal from therapy service after I got married in 2006. Coal then died in 2009 when my son was only 3 months old, so I was without a dog for 2 1/2 years before I obtained Mercy. Since it had been a long while, I need to go through the steps all over again as a new Pet Partners handler. I attended a Pet Partners class yesterday as one of the required steps to get my Pet Partners credentials. The woman who taught it was awesome. In fact she was the evaluator who passed Coal in 2003 and again in 2005. Leslie Horton is everything I have been looking for in a mentor. She has high standards for excellence, but she is also fiercely loyal to her volunteers, working with people, not giving up on them, even those who have gotten a Not Ready on their evaluations. She runs the Animal Assisted Care program at Inova Fairfax hospital and has been running it for 15 years. She is such an expert in animal behavior and is also understanding and patient with people. She is amazing. She has the life experience that has helped her to be more compassionate and accepting of people from all walks of life. She recognized me right away.

I am having my Pet Partners evaluation with Mercy on December 5th (Not with Leslie). I also have an interview with someone at a program for troubled teens on December 11th. Things are looking up. I could still use all of your prayers. Encouragement will be very helpful to me at this time. I have my work cut out for me over the next month to get Mercy in tip top shape for the Pet Partners evaluation. I still have to get another copy of her rabies certificate and a cat brush among other things to do to prepare for the evaluation. I will certainly keep you all posted as to how things turn out.

Posted in Acceptance, Animal Assisted Therapy, Approval, Arrested Emotional Development, At risk youths, Autism, Autism Awareness, Believe, Bi-polar Disorder, Calling, Career, Challenges, Cohesion, Comfort, Common Purpose, Compassion, Competence, Comrade, Confidence, Cooperation, Disappointment, Dog Training, Dogs, Dreams, Encouragement, Faith, Fear, Goals, God, Grace, Hope, Hurt, Love, Mental Health, Outcasts, Purpose, Rejection, Respect, Second chances, Setbacks, Shame, social skills, Stress, Struggling, Support, Understanding | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Social Oppression Is An Epidemic In Our Culture

I wish to combat social oppression in my ministry.

U GOT NERVE!

In a land that professes to be a place for “the free and the brave,” we have a society that is full of the “oppressed and the scared.”  We read in the Times Dispatch where several employees of Henrico County Public Schools spoke out about living and working in fear for their jobs.  They voiced how this fear drives them to silence, even when they know that they lives of children are in danger or that the welfare of a peer is compromised by those that are the “oppressors.”  

Why Henrico’s board and superintendent are sleeping at night, knowing that they are cultivating an atmosphere of fear that will not even stand up to save the life of a child is unknown to us.  They should be ashamed of themselves.  Only bullies and dictators rule through fear.

Our hearts go out to those employees in Henrico County Public Schools…

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People With Depression Are Strong, Not Weak: Here’s my case 

wehaveapples

1. You’ve had to struggle. Struggle makes people grow in strength, wisdom and compassion. When we are happy, we can relax. You’ve had to constantly work. You are a better person for that, and incredibly strong because of it.

2. You’ve had to deal with stigma, misconceptions, ignorance, and your well-meaning friend that keeps telling you her cousin Mary cured her depression with yoga. You’ve opened up to someone about your mental illness and they’ve changed the subject because they’re not able to hear it. You’ve had to deal with a lot of total crap and that takes strength.

3. You’ve had to deal with a double standard. Joe Jenkins broken his leg and he’s so brave. Everyone is bringing him flowers, signing his cast, and making him apple pie. You broke your brain and everyone is ignoring you. You are strong, dude.

4. You’ve had to keep showing up…

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