“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, September 27, 2010

New Service: Behavior Consultation

I'm excited about this!  Really. Hope and a Future Ministries has added a new service.  We are going to start offering behavior consultation to early childhood programs.  What is that, you may ask? Well, when a child care provider has a child (or children) in his or her program that have troubling behaviors they can contract with us for help. We will observe the child in the environment, interview teachers and parents then offer consultation, technical assistance and training geared to addressing and changing the behavior. In addition, we will help the teaching staff to learn new strategies for working with the children, and offer assistance to help with classroom management techniques.

If you are interested in this new service or know of a program that might need our help- contact us! 

Contact us for more information or to request an application packet:
Phone: 1-888-316-0523

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Fresh Grounded Faith Conference

Well, I attended the Fresh Grounded Faith Conference yesterday and this morning. It was an encouraging time with other women. The speaker, Jennifer Rothchild is a sweet, sensitive and down-to-earth speaker. An added treat was getting to hear Kathy Triccoli. If you were listening to contemporary Christian music in the 80's you definitely remember her. Fortunately, she isn't stuck in the 80's but shares her story with wit and spunk that only an Italian American woman from Long Island can get a way with at a Christian conference. I'm telling you, if you have not heard her sing and speak...you are missing out. I wanted to go and have coffee with her and get to know her more. The last woman in the trio was Abby Rike. You may know her from The Biggest Loser. I don't watch The Biggest Loser, but found her testimony encouraging. All three women were intelligent and seemed real. Jennifer states that "The ultimate goal of Fresh Grounded Faith is to bring a unifying event to your area that will empower women to live a tenacious faith in Christ." If the conference comes to a city in your area, I encourage you to invite some girlfriends and go. You can find the dates and locations by clicking here.

Here's a video about the Fresh Grounded Faith Conferences:

In addition, Jennifer has written some interesting looking books (I haven't read them yet).  One study that looks particularly interesting is Me, Myself and Lies. I am looking forward to picking up this book and possibly doing the study with a group of ladies. Check out the video promo for the book:

Monday, September 20, 2010

Week 3 Questions for Radical by David Platt

If you are reading the book Radical with us, here are the questions for week 3, chapters 4 and 5:

Week 3 Questions Chapters 4-5 
How did the deacon respond to David’s excitement over the opportunities to reach people for Christ?

Why did God create us in the first place?

What is David’s response to “I’m not called”?
What might Radically abandoning to Christ look like in your life?
What is the “megastrategy of Jesus”?

What is the difference between receivers and reproducers of God’s Word?

What happens when we ask ourselves the question, “How can I listen to his Word so that I am equipped to teach this Word to others”?

What is the difference between discipling and disinfecting?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Welcome Georgann!

I'm excited to welcome Georgann Cranfield to Hope and a Future Ministries.  She will be serving as our virtual assistant.  Whenever you call our toll free number she will be answering the phone and making appointments as well as other duties assigned.  She won't begin until mid October but we are so happy to have her on board!  You may have enjoyed her blog, An Evening Hope and a Morning Prayer. If you haven't check it out.

Have problems sleeping?

Falling asleep or staying asleep is a problem for many people.  Stress and depression can sabotage a good night sleep.  In the RealAge newsletter this morning there was an article about getting better sleep.  According to RealAge (2009), "Research indicates that 70% to 80% of people with sleep disorders achieve some benefits when practicing good sleep hygiene."  Here are their recommendations: (click here to read the original article)

Behaviors to avoid:
  • Having caffeine after lunch
  • Having alcohol within 6 hours of bedtime
  • Watching television right before going to bed
  • Having a cigarette before bedtime
  • Going to bed hungry or when you've had a big meal
  • Going to bed before you are sleepy
  • Exercising too close to bedtime
Behaviors to adopt:
  • Using your bedroom only for sleep and sex
  • Exercising regularly, preferably in the morning or early afternoon
  • Keeping a regular bedtime and waking time, even on the weekends
  • Creating a relaxing bedtime routine, such as taking a leisurely stroll, soaking in a tub, listening to soothing music, or massaging your legs or feet before bed
  • Practicing relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and deep-breathing exercises
  • Creating a comfortable environment that is conducive to sleep by eliminating uncomfortable bedding, wearing loose clothing, keeping the bedroom temperature slightly cool, and eliminating any bothersome noise or light

To read more articles about getting a good night's sleep try these:
18 Ways to Manage Stress by PsycCentral.com
How to Get a Good Night's Sleep by Livescience.com

RealAge. 2009. Sleep Hygiene. Retrieved September 17, 2010 from http://www.realage.com/soothe-stress/mind-and-mood/sleep-hygiene?click=p6link1

Monday, September 13, 2010

Shut the Door!

I suppose every author likes to write about a subject that he or she has some knowledge or experience about, so I think it is fair that I do the same with my first post of my blog. The situation I happen to be writing, I have both first and third hand experience. I hope its relevance aids you with what is going on in your own life.

There has been a situation that has been going on for a good while in my life I wish to talk about, which is more or less a mentality I’ve noticed among Christians that worries me. That is the mentality (or thought process if you will) that every door of supposed opportunity that presents itself is from God. Then they follow this supposed opportunity to emotional and spiritual ruin.

Usually when a situation that deceives you comes along, it presents itself as the opportunity that you’ve been waiting for and will come right when you are not expecting it. However, God will always send you a sign or a warning that this is not his will for you but because of our human nature, we choose not to listen to it. We instead idealize it and ignore the warning signs along with the red flags to see what we wish to see.

When this happens, we make excuses and ignore the advice of both ourselves and those around us who try to warn us when we are going into a bad situation. We walk right through the supposed “door of opportunity” that has come along only to be mugged when reality answers. But do we have to learn the hard way or can we stop this from happening?

The first course of action when this situation arises is to “Shut the Door” and to completely shut it. Listen to those cues and red flags that you and those around you are telling you because in the end you will avoid a lot of needless pain and wasted effort. Furthermore, you will save yourself from perpetuating a horrible cycle.

In my next blog, I will delve into the question of “Why?” Why do we even open those doors to begin with and what is our underlying motivation for ignoring our internal red flags as well as our friends? Furthermore, how can we understand and potentially heal those feelings.

-Ryan Marler

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Simple! Fall Dinner Get Together

After writing about SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and recommending getting together with friends, I thought I would share some recipes and entertaining ideas. One of the simplest dinner ideas is soup: inexpensive and easy but always a winner. You can make one or make several for your guests to choose. Serve with good bread and end with dessert. An assortment of cheese and fruit would be an easy appetizer. What could be simpler?

I subscribe to House Beautiful magazine; in this month's issue, Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) shared a recipe for Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Frosting. I haven't made them yet, but I plan on it. I think I'm going to have some friends over for soup and make these cupcakes. 
Here is the menu idea:
·      Tomato Basil Bisque
·      Chicken and Gnocchi Soup
·      Roasted Garlic Bread

Here are the recipes:

Tomato Basil Bisque

1 Tbls. Olive Oil
1 medium onion (or half a large)
3-4 cloves of garlic chopped
6 ounces basil- no stems
½ Tbls. Dried Oregano
1-cup heavy cream
28-ounce can of tomatoes
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a soup pot, cook onion in olive oil over medium heat until onions are soft (not brown). Stir in garlic and cook about 30 seconds. Stir in basil and cook about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes. Simmer 10- 15 minutes.

Puree contents of the pot in a blender or food processor. Stir in cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste. TIP: add a pinch or two of sugar if it is too sour/acidic. Serve with good bread; my favorite is roasted garlic. Serves 4

Chicken and Gnocchi soup
3 tablespoons butter
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 lb. chicken chopped in 1-2” cubes
4 tablespoons flour
2 carrots, cut in ¼” coins
2 cups fresh chopped spinach
4 cups chicken broth
1-cup heavy cream
Cracked pepper to taste
1 package gnocchi

Over medium heat, melt butter in a soup pot; add in the garlic and sauté for a few seconds. Add the chicken and cook until almost done. Next, add the carrots and sauté for another few minutes until the chicken is no longer pink. Add the flour; cook for a minute or two. Next, add the chicken broth- bring to a boil (stirring continuously) and then turn down. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the carrots are no longer crunchy. Add the gnocchi and cook 3-4 min. Then add the spinach. Simmer for another minute or two until the spinach is wilted. Lastly, stir in the cream. Serve with shaved Parmesan and crusty/rustic bread. Serves 4. 

Makes 10 cupcakes
1-cup all-purpose flour
1-teaspoon baking powder
1/2-teaspoon baking soda
1/2-teaspoon kosher salt
1-teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2-teaspoon ground ginger
1/2-teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup canned pumpkin purée (8 ounces), not pie filling
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2-cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2-cup vegetable oil
Maple Frosting (recipe follows)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped Heath bars, for serving (2 1.4-ounce bars)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush or spray the top of 10 muffin tins with vegetable oil and line them with 10 paper liners.
2. Into a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. In a larger bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin purée, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vegetable oil. Add the flour mixture and stir until combined.
3. Divide the batter among the prepared tins (I use a level 2 1/4-inch ice cream scoop) and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool completely.
4. Spread the cupcakes with the Maple Frosting and sprinkle with the chopped toffee bits.

Maple Frosting

6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon Boyajian Natural Maple Flavor
1/2-teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese and butter on low speed until smooth. Stir in the maple flavoring and vanilla extract. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

For some people, Fall represents football games, crunching of leaves, hot cider and family get togethers.  In other people, as the days become shorter and darker, there is an increase in sadness and depression; a desire to hibernate and retreat from the world. Sometimes the feeling of hibernation becomes so unbearable that it affects every day life. In these cases, a person may have Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Here are the criteria:
  • You've experienced depression and other symptoms for at least two consecutive years, during the same season every year.
  • The periods of depression have been followed by periods without depression.
  • There are no other explanations for the changes in your mood or behavior.
If you find you are dealing with these issues and it goes beyond being down a few days in a row go to your Doctor and/or talk to a counselor. It may be more than the winter blues but Seasonal Affective Disorder. 

After doing a little reading, I learned that light therapy is effective for treating Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Some studies have also found that cognitive behavioral therapy is also helpful.  The focus of treatment is to improve coping with the winter season. The thought "restructuring" focuses on challenging the negative thoughts related to the winter season, the weather conditions, and lack of light (Rohan et al, 2004). More specifically the cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on:
  • Thinking positively
  • Increasing activity levels
  • Socializing with other people
  • Being aware of SAD symptoms
  • Exercise
  • Going outside
  • Making home brighter
  • Going South on a trip/vacation
  • Keeping a regular sleep schedule
If you find that you dread the end of the spring and summer months, try reframing your thoughts into Fall as a fresh start i.e. new school year, new clothes (think of all the sales going on) etc. In the Fall, I like to buy new hazelnut candles and listen to jazz music.  My house smells like hazelnut coffee and the sounds of jazz waft through the air. This ritual helps me to get excited for Fall instead of dread the end of the lazy days of summer. I, also, love to invite friends over for a meal and enjoy their company.  Make this winter a joyful season with lasting memories. What can you do this Fall/Winter to help you enjoy the season?

Rohan, K. J., Lindsey, K. T., Roecklein, K. A. & Lacy, T. J. (2004). Cognitive-behavioral therapy, light therapy, and their combination in treating seasonal affective disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders, 80, 273-283.

Come Join the Book Club!

We're meeting at the Regency Panera in Jacksonville, FL to discuss the book Radical by David Platt this morning from 9:30 AM to 10:30 AM. We'll be meeting for the next 5 Saturdays.  
Good conversation, you don't want to miss it!

Here's next week's questions:
Week 2 Questions Chapters 1-3 
What was David Platt so uneasy about in Chapter 1?
What were the two questions he was faced with?
What is the radical message Christ taught?
How do we respond to the Gospel (or how do you respond)?
What is the beauty of the gospel?
How does our understanding of who God is and who we are drastically affect our understanding of Christ?
What does the gift of grace involve?
In Chapter 3, what is the subtle danger of the American Dream?
What is the different picture David talks about in Chapter 3?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Our web page is finally up!

Hey all!  I finally got our webpage up and going for Hope and a Future Ministries.  Unfortunately, I found a couple typos and forgot to put a link to the blog on it.  I'll be making those updates this afternoon.  In the meantime, go check it out anyway.  Give me some feedback and let me know what you think.

Go to http://www.afutureforyou.org


Friday, September 3, 2010

Checking into your sadness...

I was reading an article this morning on the Real Age website about feeling sad but not knowing why. Real Age (2010) explain "Feel sad sometimes but don't know exactly why? Tempted to just brush past it? Well, don't. Understanding the source of your sadness can be key to moving on." The article recommended doing some journaling to help sort out the feelings.  Below is a good visual journal exercise to help process what's going on.  To read the rest of the article from Real Age click here

When life is hard, sometimes finding words is hard. This visual journal idea provides an outlet when words are hard to find.
  1. You will need a pile of old magazines.
  2. You may find it helpful to use an art notebook for its sturdy paper and for keeping your journal in order, but any blank page will serve well as your background.
  3. Choose one of the following prompts for your page: "I feel . . .," "I need . . .,"  "I desire . . .," or "I wish I could say . . ."
  4. Look through magazines for pictures (or parts of pictures), colors, and words that express your emotions or desires.
  5. Feel free to cut or tear the images, etc. as feels right for your state of being. This is about your need to express your internal state, no one will see it.
  6. You may glue images, words down as you go or collect all the pieces that feel right for this session and then start gluing.
  7. Again this is not about artistic skill, organize the pieces in a way that works for you and your journey.
  8. Place the date on the back or some place on the page.
  9. You may find it helpful to do this exercise on some kind of regular basis. If it is something you find that you can do quickly, a daily page may be very helpful. If you are someone who takes more time, processing images, words and their organization, you may find a weekly schedule helpful.
  10. Store your pages together. Someday you will want to look back over your pages. If you keep them in order or have them dated, you will notice differences in your pages as you progress through your journey.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Visual Journaling Exercise: Road Map

Pull out your art journals- here is a good exercise when you want to look back on your life then plan for the future.  
Point me down your highway God; direct me along a well lighted street; show my enemies whose side you’re on. 
Psalm 27:11
Think of your life as a road map. Some roads are straight and wide, while others are narrow and winding. Some are bumpy, and others are smooth. There are sometimes roadblocks or detours. Your life may have many of these. 

In your journal or on a separate sheet of paper, draw your life as a road map. 

·      What events were expected?
·      Which ones were unexpected? 
·      What people were associated with these events? 
·      What feelings are remembered? 
·      What’s next? 

Now, draw three paths off the main road: the high road, the expected road, and the low road. Draw the symbols that are associated with each.  
What steps do you need to stay on or take the preferred road?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

MIA! but back now..

Sorry, I've been MIA for several weeks.  I was wrapping up the end of my graduate program and transitioning into a new job.  In the mornings, I am working for Dr. Kaplan and Associates as a Behavior Therapist. In the afternoon and evening, I'll be seeing counseling and life coaching clients at 9770 Old Baymeadows Rd. Jacksonville, FL once I am registered with the State of Florida. In the meantime, I'm still counseling on Thursday afternoons at First Baptist Jacksonville.  Anthony, the VP of Hope and a Future Ministries just took a position with The Bridge of NE Florida working with high students who are suspended from school. He is a social worker/group facilitator with these students. The program is an alternative to out of school suspension. They do school work so when they get back to school they won't be behind.  In the evenings, he is counseling at Sutton Place Behavioral Health.  We will both be excited when we can focus on Hope and a Future Ministries full-time. Until then, we are gaining new skills to use for God's glory!

Goals of Misbehavior with your Kids

If you are married, have you ever said to your spouse, "You need to deal with your child" OR "Look, what your child just did." Isn't funny how we never want to take ownership of our children when they are misbehaving.  Whose ever child it is, there is usually a reason behind the misbehaving. As adults, we often think our kids are just small people. We forget that developmentally they can't reason or think things through like an adult (come to think of it, I know some adults who can't reason, either). Most of the time, your child can't even put to words how to express what is going on.  How many times have you heard your child say, "I don't know."  Believe it or not, sometimes they really "don't know"!  To explain what is going on better, let me introduce you to one of my favorite Psychologists, Rudolph Dreikurs. (Here is a book he wrote- click here).

Dreikurs was an American Psychologist who took another Psychologist's theories (Alfred Adler) and made them practical for everyday folks like us.  Dreikurs thoughts children, have an inborn desire to belong and feel like they are a part of a group.  Unfortunately, due to feeling bad about themselves and poor parenting, these children have taken on ways to fit in that don't work so well. They keep doing these behaviors to gain a sense of belonging. Problem is that these behaviors are not working, (think Dr. Phil, "How's that been working for you?") but they know no other way of acting or behaving. "Dreikurs identified four behaviors that could be manifested in dozens of ways as children attempt to gain a position of significance in the group: attention seeking (e.g., interrupting), the use of power (e.g., bullying), revenge seeking (e.g., playing nasty practical jokes), and displaying inadequacy (e.g., withdrawing)" (Neukrug, n.d.). Below is a chart explaining the four goals and some ways to respond to your child's misbehavior.

Neukrug. E. (n.d.). Stories of the great therapists.  Old Dominion University. Retrieved September 1, 2010 from http://www.odu.edu/~eneukrug/therapists/Dreikurs.html.