Dealing with Emotional Distress During the Holidays

Dealing with Emotional Distress During the Holidays

Healthy Living

Although a holiday can be a time of joy, many people experience emotional distress during the holiday season. Reasons for this can include:

  • the responsibilities of hosting parties and family gatherings;
  • the challenges of traveling;
  • the pressure to buy gifts;
  • financial strain due to atypical expenditures;
  • interactions with family members with whom you have chronic conflict;
  • the absence of loved ones who have passed away, divorced, relocated, or are serving in the military;
  • the shorter daylight time;
  • cold and gloomy weather; and
  • the year’s end, which prompts people to take stock of their accomplishments or lack thereof.

What can you do to help yourself cope during the holiday season? 

  • Avoid relying on alcohol, using other recreational drugs, or misusing prescription medicine, as these consumptive behaviors can worsen your mood, your thoughts, or your behavior
  • Minimize your contact with relatives with whom you expect to have unpleasant interactions
  • Simplify your celebrations
  • Focus on the spiritual meaning of each holiday
  • Plan and perform acts of kindness to friends, neighbors, or strangers (which could include volunteering within a social service agency)
  • Serve your church congregation in a new way
  • Connect with the people in your life who have been sources of support for you in the present or past
  • Seek the services of a mental health professional.

My company, Crosswalk Psychological Services, provides faith-based psychotherapy services online to clients throughout Alabama. To learn more, call 334-744-3694, visit www.crosswalknow.com, or email us at office@crosswalknow.com.

-Dr. Thomas Maple is an Alabama-licensed psychologist and the founder of Crosswalk Psychological Services, LLC. His clinical background includes work in private practice and in university clinics. Born and raised in the Birmingham area, he resides in Auburn with his wife and his two daughters.

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Start a Family Tradition at Christmas at the Falls

Start a Family Tradition at Christmas at the Falls

Are We There Yet?

See the spectacular “Christmas at the Falls” at Noccalula Falls Park in Gadsden through December 30 (closed Dec.24-25), www.noccalulafallspark.com.

Just a short drive over to Gadsden, Ala. will take you to a place sure to get you and your family in the Christmas spirit: Christmas at the Falls. Each year Noccalula Falls Park welcomes visitors to experience the lights and sounds of the season from Thanksgiving night November 23 through Saturday December 30 (Closed Dec. 24-25).  Enjoy riding the train or strolling through the park to view more than a million lights. Stop by the petting zoo, visit with Santa and take pictures, decorate cookies, and sip hot chocolate. For children too shy to speak their wishes to Santa or who just want to be sure he has their list right, the Park’s Old Post Office in the Pioneer Village has a special mailbox for dropping off letters to Santa. Purchase tickets to Christmas at the Falls on-line at www.noccalulafallspark.com or at the Entry Pavilion as early as 4pm each afternoon. The park is open from 5 until 9p.m. each evening. Admission is $6 for ages 4 and up and children three and under are admitted free. For more details call the park at 256-549-4663. †

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Small Town America at its Best: 18th Annual Chelsea Christmas Parade

Small Town America at its Best: 18th Annual Chelsea Christmas Parade

Are We There Yet?

The Annual Chelsea Christmas Parade on Saturday December 16, 2017 offers young and old a great way to celebrate the season and experience Chelsea’s “All About Family” atmosphere.

Nothing will get you more into the Christmas spirit than the 18th Annual Chelsea Christmas Parade on Saturday December 16. “It is a tremendous family event,” explains Chelsea Mayor Tony Picklesimer. “It’s a symbol of small town America that is unfortunately going away in many parts of the country but remains an integral part of our town.” The festivities start at 9 a.m. with local entertainment at the parade grandstand positioned at the Winn Dixie/150 Chelsea Corners Way. The parade begins at 10 a.m. at Chelsea Middle School and will include music from the Chelsea High School Band, Mr. and Mrs. Claus, a showcase of students from local dance studios, area boy scouts and girl scouts, and of course professional and homemade floats with riders throwing candy to bystanders all along the route. Over 70 groups, businesses and civic organizations will participate in the parade which will conclude at the Winn Dixie where a Christmas Village will offer refreshments and other items for purchase. The parade will be followed by an open house from Noon-3pm at the Chelsea Community Center, 11101 Hwy 47, where children will have the opportunity to have their picture made with Santa and Mrs. Clause as well as the famous characters from Frozen, Anna, Elsa and Olaf. The open house will also offer face painting, bouncy houses and games.

The Annual Christmas Parade is the largest Chelsea community event of the year drawing between 2000 and 3000 people. “It gives us a chance to get our citizens together but it also gives people outside of Chelsea an opportunity to come and see what Chelsea is all about,” says Mayor Picklesimer adding that the family event fits perfectly with the city’s long-time slogan, “Chelsea is all about family.” For more details visit www.cityofchelsea.com/christmas-parade-info †

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Deck the Halls: Christmas Home Tour & Holiday Gift Market

Deck the Halls: Christmas Home Tour & Holiday Gift Market

City Scene

Jeanna Westmoreland and Susie Hammers welcome a guest to the Samford President’s Home during Samford Legacy League’s Christmas Home Tour.

Looking for ideas on how to best decorate your home for Christmas? The Samford Legacy League’s 7th Annual Home Tour Thursday, December 7 is guaranteed to give you great ideas and put you in the Christmas spirit. Visit five stunning area homes as a part of this year’s tour which you can enjoy either from 10am-2pm or 4pm-8pm. The tour will also include an opportunity to shop for unique gifts. The Holiday Gift Market located at the Samford President’s Home will include a fabulous selection of jewelry, art, children’s items, clothing, food, accessories, home items and more from carefully selected merchants. Also enjoy hors d’oeuvres and desserts at the Samford President’s Home as part of the tour. The tour features the homes of:

Lisa and Randy Freeman, 11 Bonita Drive, Homewood

Rhonda and Tom Powell, 4441 Caldwell Mill Road, Mountain Brook

Cheryl and Terry Spitzer, 4429 Caldwell Mill Road, Mountain Brook

Jeanna and Andy Westmoreland, Samford President’s Home, 1994 Shades Crest Road, Vestavia Hills

Lisa and Harris Wilson, 4408 Old Brook Run, Mountain Brook

Proceeds from the event will provide life-changing scholarships for deserving students with significant financial need. Tickets are $25 through December 5 at www.samford.edu/legacyleague or $30 at the door of featured homes during tour hours. Visit www.samford.edu/legacyleague or call 205-726-2807 for more details. †

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Peer Helpers

Peer Helpers

These eight graders at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School Students have been chosen as Peer Helpers for this school year. The students were selected based on grade point average, teacher recommendations, answers to questionnaires and individual interviews. They will act as ambassadors for the school by helping to host special school events and assisting fellow students with reading, writing skills, math facts, and art projects.

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Keys to Successful Marriage Therapy

Keys to Successful Marriage Therapy

Healthy Living

Why do some couples benefit from marriage therapy while other couples do not? My work has led me to the following conclusions.

The most important factor is a faith-based foundation of the marriage. I have tried to provide therapy to spouses who were not devoted to God; the results were not good. Here’s why:

  • A person with little or no faith likely will enter into a marriage with the goal of finding happiness through the relationship. This is an inherent problem. God wants each of us to find joy and peace through Christ; the spouse should be a help to that goal, not a substitute for that goal.
  • In marriages not based in faith, typically, one’s own happiness is the top priority. This seems perfectly natural, but God calls us to rise above our nature and to live a life of sacrifice. When I give to a couple the homework assignment, “Each day, find a new way to demonstrate your love for your spouse,” the faithless couple returns and reports to me that they only made a slight effort to do the homework. Why? Because, as they display in our discussions, each spouse is chiefly focused on what he or she isn’t getting from the marriage rather than what he or she isn’t giving to it.

In addition, it is important that the therapist is of the same faith as the clients. I’m reminded of an individual client who came to me for an initial session even though she was already engaged in therapy with another psychologist. She told me that when she asked the other psychologist whether she and he could incorporate spirituality into their work together, he had replied, “We can talk about religion some if you want, but I don’t want it to get in the way of our work.” In the way? If your spirituality has the importance that it should have in your life, you don’t attempt anything without it; and you certainly can’t expect to improve your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors without it.

To explore the opportunities to participate in online therapy in our practice or to explore the opportunities to attend our Marriage Bread workshop, please visit our website at www.crosswalknow.com, call our office at 334-744-3694, or email us at office@crosswalknow.com.

-Dr. Thomas Maple

Dr. Maple is an Alabama-licensed psychologist and the founder of Crosswalk Psychological Services, LLC.  His clinical background includes work in private practice and in university clinics. Born and raised in the Birmingham area, he resides in Auburn with his wife and his two daughters.

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5 Ways to Equip Your Kids for Faithful Living

5 Ways to Equip Your Kids for Faithful Living

Education Extra

Learn more from Dr. Mueller, February 3, at his “No Parent Left Behind” seminar at the Birmingham Parenting Collective Conference, Oak Mountain High School auditorium. For details and tickets go to www.bhamparentingcollective.com

Since we as parents are called to equip our kids for a lifetime of living under the Lordship of Jesus, it is essential for us to prepare them for a lifetime of weaving together the inseparable bond that must exist between belief and behavior. What we must instill in our kids is both a knowledge of the Gospel message (belief), along with how that message must inform, shape, and transform, every square inch of life (behavior).  As I look around at today’s youth culture, there are numerous aspects of childhood and adolescent life where Christian parents must begin challenging and equipping their kids to see how Christian beliefs speak to their behaviors. Here are five key areas to consider:

1.Playing. Many of our kids are involved in athletics. Are we teaching them what it means to play to God’s glory as opposed to the glory of self? And, are we equipping them to prioritize rather than overprioritize or idolize sport and play? Are we helping them put their lives in order by teaching them to see opportunities for spiritual nurture and gathering with the Body of Christ as a higher priority than practices and games?

2.Studying. Do we expect them to work to the best of their ability, producing the best work they can if they have a bent toward academic laziness? Are we pushing back on the anxiety-producing obsession and academic competitiveness some kids have, where they are never satisfied with the results of their best efforts? Are we teaching them to study first and foremost to increase their knowledge of God and His world, as opposed to achieving the idol of good grades? Are we helping them see that academic achievements are not an end in and of themselves, but that they are a path to contributing to God’s work in the world?

3.Posting. Our kids will be engaging with social media and technology for the rest of their lives. Are you teaching them to live out their faith on social media by setting up clear borders and boundaries, along with endeavoring to bring glory to God rather than trying to solicit glory and attention for self? Are you leading them to find their identity in Christ alone, rather than in the frequency of “likes” and positive comments to their curated/fabricated posts and photos that typically don’t even come close to representing their true selves.

4.Relating. Are you teaching your kids to honor, love, and respect authority? Are you equipping them to glorify God through their friendships? Are you teaching them to put others first?

5.Driving. There’s a reason why states and insurance companies place restrictions on new teenage drivers. They’re new to this, without experience, and developmentally impulsive. Are you teaching your kids to see driving as an act of worship where they can bring glory to God through safe driving habits. . . beginning with putting their smartphone aside while behind the wheel?

The life of the Christian is one that is to be lived counter-culturally and around the clock. Equip your kids for faithful living and for effective mission by nurturing them into playing, studying, posting, relating, and driving to the glory of God.

– Dr. Walt Mueller

Founder & President, Center for Parent/Youth Understanding

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Great Gift Finds at the Briarwood Christmas Shop

Great Gift Finds at the Briarwood Christmas Shop

Cool Stuff

Find stocking stuffers and more at the Briarwood Christmas Gift Shop November 16-17 at the church, 2200 Briarwood Way, 35243. Door prizes given away each day, no purchase necessary!

Find wonderful gifts for friends and family while supporting Christian education at the annual Briarwood Christmas Shop. The free admission event features more than 60 different artists and vendors and is hosted by the Briarwood High School Parent Teacher Fellowship (PTF). “All of the money raised is used to support our teachers in the classroom, the school’s faculty and administration and of course the students they teach and minister to,” explains PTF Pres. Amy Pylant. “It also gives our school family the opportunity to meet and minister to people in our community!”

Shop the event Thursday, November 16 from Noon-6pm and Friday, November 17 from 9am-4pm in the Briarwood Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall. A few of the featured vendors include t-shirts and gift items from Tagged and Happy, useful and beautiful pieces of pottery from Mike Davis Pottery, artwork from Crown Creations, hip jewelry from Sha’s Creations and Grandma Betty’s Pepper Jelly. Also, The Neighborhood Brew Truck will be onsite Friday morning so you can enjoy coffee or a smoothie and a delicious breakfast treat before coming inside to shop with friends. †

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Adoption as a Calling: Duck Dynasty

Adoption as a Calling: Duck Dynasty

Adoption as a Calling: Duck Dynasty

In the new content in her re-release of Strong and Kind: And Other Important Character Traits Your Child Needs to Succeed (Thomas Nelson, 2017), Korie Robertson shares how a missed flight to Birmingham and the adoption of son, Rowdy, reminded her that “God’s plans for us are greater than we could ever imagine.”

According to Duck Dynasty stars Korie and Willie Robertson, 100,000 children currently in the foster care system in the United States are adoptable because their parents’ rights have been terminated. Statistically, 30,000 of those children will never get a “forever family.” The couple has been passionate about adoption since high school and has welcomed three different youth into their home since 2001—an infant, a foreign exchange student and an older child from foster care. In honor of National Adoption Awareness Month, Korie reflects on the beauty of an intentionally large family, the need for adoptive families in the United States, and the re-release of her book Strong and Kind, with added material in honor of newest family member Rowdy, officially adopted last year at 12 years old.

Growing up in a family that made hospitality a priority gave Korie a clear model of the kind of mother she wanted to be when she had a home of her own. During her childhood, her parents hosted more than 80 people who needed a temporary place to live. “We had an extra bedroom that was always full,” she remembers. “They took in families, teenagers that were struggling at home, or single mothers with kids. That really impacted me—to say what’s mine is yours, and if I have an extra room, then someone can have it.” Korie’s first exposure to the adoption process came from her high school Bible teacher, who adopted a little boy her senior year and spent much of instruction time talking about how important it is that Christian families care for orphans. She married Willie in 1992, and after John Luke and Sadie were born, becoming pregnant a third time proved difficult. They took it as a sign that it was time to adopt. Five-week-old Will was living with a foster family in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, when they brought him home in December 2001. In January, Willie surprised Korie with a 10-year wedding anniversary trip to Cancun. She came back pregnant with Bella. “I had two babies on my hip for a while, and it was a lot of fun,” Korie remembers. “It was a little crazy because of Destructo 1 and Destructo 2. They got into everything.”

The next invitation the Robertsons extended to a youth in need of a home was to a foreign exchange student. Sixteen-year-old Rebecca came from Taiwan for one year of high school in 2005. Korie and Willie invited her back the following year, and she never left. Now 28 years old, she had Willie walk her down the aisle at her wedding last year. “Her dad passed away when she was 11, but she still has a mom in Taiwan,” Korie explains. “Her mom was at the wedding, and we sat beside each other as mothers of the bride. So, we are her American family. We never officially adopted her, but she’s ours just like the rest.”

In 2015, Korie had just published the book Strong and Kind and was speaking at an adoption fundraiser when presented with the opportunity to provide a permanent home for an older child from Texas foster care. Familiar with the struggles older children often have finding a home, a woman approached her at the event and asked if she knew of anyone who would take a 12-year-old boy. “We hadn’t really planned on adopting again, but we’ve always remained open to God’s tugging on our heart. It was one of those moments that I thought, ‘Alright, God. This is probably us. I called Willie and he said, ‘Why not? We can do this. Why not us?’ We got Rowdy a few weeks later, and he became ours last September officially. He makes six.” Korie explains that bringing an older child into the home and adjusting him to sibling relationships had its challenges but also its rewards. “It’s been incredible to see how our other children have responded to him and accepted him and loved him. At one point Will looked at me and said, ‘Mom, have you noticed that me and Bella don’t fight anymore?’ It was like we all had a greater purpose and everyone just stepped up to the plate.” Rowdy had been raised an only child, and Korie admits that looking back she realizes the transition he had to make—into a family of brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents—was monumental. “There was a point where I asked him, was it harder or easier than you thought it was going to be? I said you can be honest. He said it was harder.”

In 2016, the Robertsons celebrated the addition of their sixth child, 12-year-old Rowdy. “It’s been a crazy transition but God has been so good and faithful throughout it,” says Korie Robertson.

After 11 seasons on A&E, the final episode of Duck Dynasty aired in April 2017. Today Korie continues to work in the Duck Commander® business overseeing licensing for the family’s brands and does philanthropic work as a board member for The Congressional Coalition for Adoption Institute and Help One Now, an organization dedicated to ending extreme poverty and providing care for orphans worldwide. Korie and Willie also founded the Drive Adoption fund at last year’s Duck Commander 500 NASCAR race at Texas Motor Speedway. DriveAdoption.org gives fans the opportunity to learn about domestic and international adoption, connect with adoptive organizations, and donate financially to the cause.

Korie regularly speaks on behalf of older children waiting to be adopted and says youth who turn 18 and age out of foster care are at a much higher risk for homelessness, early pregnancy or drug addiction than those who gain the support of a family. She stresses that for all the wealth in the United States, finding a home for the 100,000 foster youth currently available for adoption should be simple. “We should be able to have homes for those children. They are going to bed each night thinking, ‘Am I going to get a mom and dad? Is this going to happen for me?’ There’s a lot of problems in the world that I know I cannot fix. This is one of the problems that is really solvable,” she says. “A lot of people are scared of what it looks like bringing in an older child and how the rest of the children will reac. God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear but one of power that He will take care of our needs. Not that it’s going to be perfect or simple, but raising children biologically isn’t perfect or simple [either].”

Adopting Rowdy inspired Korie to rerelease a paperback edition of Strong and Kind this year, with additional content reflecting on the legacy she wants to pass down to the next generation. The Afterward is a nod to Rowdy’s assimilation into the Robertson family and how adoption is symbolic to the Christian faith. “I have always loved everything about adoption,” she writes. “How it makes families whole; how it is full of hope and promises to love a child forever and always… how it redeems something broken and makes it whole; how it reminds us that we all are adopted as sons and daughters into God’s family through His Son, Jesus Christ…how it has made our family complete.”

  • Camille Smith Platt

 

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