Find tips and resources for self-care, material to assist you in providing pastoral care, and general information to help you in your practice of ministry. Information will be updated every two weeks concurrent with the East Ohio E-news.
November 23, 2015 Edition
Make a Gratitude Adjustment
by Lauren Aaronson
Feeling thankful is one key to happiness, so count your blessings for a boost.
A psychology professor at the University of Michigan, Chris Peterson regularly gave his students an unusual homework assignment. He asked them to write a "gratitude letter," a kind of belated thank-you note to someone in their lives. Studies show such letters provide long-lasting mood boosts to the writers. Indeed, after the exercise, Peterson says his students feel happier "100 percent of the time."
Finding Peace Within the Holy Texts
by David Brooks
It’s easy to think that ISIS is some sort of evil, medieval cancer that somehow has resurfaced in the modern world. The rest of us are pursuing happiness, and here comes this fundamentalist anachronism, spreading death.
But in his book “Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence,” the brilliant Rabbi Jonathan Sacks argues that ISIS is in fact typical of what we will see in the decades ahead.
The 21st century will not be a century of secularism, he writes. It will be an age of desecularization and religious conflicts.
The great religions are based on love, and they satisfy the human need for community. But love is problematic. Love is preferential and particular. Love excludes and can create rivalries. Love of one scripture can make it hard to enter sympathetically into the minds of those who embrace another.
The Bible is filled with sibling rivalries: Ishmael and Isaac, Esau and Jacob, Joseph and his brothers. The Bible crystallizes the truth that people sometimes find themselves competing for parental love and even competing for God’s love.
Alongside the ethic of love there is a command to embrace an ethic of justice. Love is particular, but justice is universal. Love is passionate, justice is dispassionate.
Justice demands respect of the other. It plays on the collective memory of people who are in covenantal communities: Your people, too, were once vulnerable strangers in a strange land.
The command is not just to be empathetic toward strangers, which is fragile. The command is to pursue sanctification, which involves struggle and sometimes conquering your selfish instincts. Moreover, God frequently appears where he is least expected — in the voice of the stranger — reminding us that God transcends the particulars of our attachments.
The reconciliation between love and justice is not simple, but for believers the texts, read properly, point the way. Sacks’s great contribution is to point out that the answer to religious violence is probably going to be found within religion itself, among those who understand that religion gains influence when it renounces power.
It may seem strange that in this century of technology, peace will be found within these ancient texts. But as Sacks points out, Abraham had no empire, no miracles and no army — just a different example of how to believe, think and live.
The Four Types of Depression and How to Help Clients Overcome Them
by Margaret Wehrenberg
Psychotherapists probably see more cases of depression than anything else in their practices, but it remains one of the most challenging conditions to accurately assess and treat. Part of the problem, no doubt, is that “depression” is a broad, poorly defined diagnostic category, which embraces a daunting range of symptoms, including cognitive and physical lethargy, mental rumination, loss of concentration, chronic negativity and pessimism, feelings of worthlessness, and unremitting sadness. Furthermore, the symptoms themselves can block response to treatment. Lethargy, hopelessness, negative thought patterns, and refractory negative mood all interfere with useful interventions. To get beyond or around the powerful drag of inertia in depression, therapy needs to quickly nudge clients into action, help them take charge of their cognitive habits, instill hope, and reduce negative mood.
Rather than seeing depression as some kind of monolith, I’ve found it useful to see depressive symptoms as falling into four basic clusters, each reflecting a different underlying cause—neurobiological, traumatic, situational, and attachment related. By immediately addressing the attitudes and distinctive vulnerabilities that lie at the core of each cluster, treatment can begin to bring about a shift in brain function that makes longer term work easier. In what follows, you’ll find a brief description of how to begin treatment with each cluster, with a particular emphasis on how to enhance the likelihood of initial engagement.
What I’ve described isn’t a therapy of dramatic moves, but of small steps—a kind of microtherapy—that focuses on subtle shifts in behavior patterns and daily attitudes. With time, it can create profound change in clients who staunchly resist interventions that seem too bold and threatening. This carefully calibrated type of therapy is, of course, always grounded in the clinician’s attunement with clients’ worldviews and an appreciation of the degree to which their actions can be influenced initially. But those who recognize the crucial differences among the many varieties of depression, and who have the patience to work carefully, will discover that being slow and steady is an underrated therapeutic virtue.
Thanksgiving: Amazing Grace
by Wintley Phipps
At Carnegie Hall, gospel singer Wintley Phipps delivers perhaps the most powerful rendition of Amazing Grace ever recorded.
He says, "A lot of people don't realize that just about all Negro spirituals are written on just the black notes of the piano.
Slaves were not permitted to use the white keys. Probably the most famous on this slave scale was written by John Newton, who used to be the captain of a slave ship, and many believe he heard this melody that sounds very much like a West African sorrow chant. And it has a haunting, haunting plaintive quality to it that reaches past your arrogance, past your pride, and it speaks to that part of you that's in bondage. And we feel it. We feel it. It's just one of the most amazing melodies in all of human history.
"After sharing the noteworthy history of the song, Mr. Phipps delivers a stirring performance that brings the audience to its feet!
Twelve-Step Spirituality: Week 1
by Fr. Richard Rohr
A New Mind--The Twelve Step program gave meaning and effectiveness to transformation. "Salvation" is not just something you believe, but something you begin to experience. Both Jesus and Paul were change agents. They were hated by their own groups precisely because they were constantly talking about change. The first thing Jesus said when he started preaching was, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4:17). The word usually translated as "repent" is the Greek word metanoia; this might be best translated as "turn around your mind" or change. But most of us won't move toward any new way of thinking or actual change until we're forced to, which usually means some form of suffering or some disturbance that upsets our habitual path.
Meet: monthly 1 ½ hours
Where and when:
Alliance: Christ UMC, 470 E. Broadway – Second Tuesdays, 2:00 PM
Ashland: Christ UMC, 1140 Claremont Ave. – Second Wednesdays, 1:00 PM
Medina: Granger UMC, 1235 Granger Rd. – Third Wednesdays, 1:00 PM
Painesville: Painesville UMC, 71 North Park Pl. – Third Thursdays, 12:30 PM
Sandusky: Trinity UMC, 214 E. Jefferson St. – Second Thursdays, 2:30 PM
If you are interested in being part of one of these groups, it would be helpful if you let us know for planning purposes. For questions and to receive information about a particular group, please call our office 330-456-0486 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Program in Pastoral Care and Counseling encourages the spiritual formation of our pastors believing a strong spiritual base is the greatest resource a church leader can possess. It helps us weather the many storms of ministry and deepens the incredible joys ministry provides. Following is a list of Spiritual Directors in our area. We encourage you to take advantage of this rich resource. This listing will appear in each edition of our bi-monthly webpage updates and new names and contact information will be provided as we learn of them and have permission to include them. If you are a director or know of a director that is not included here please let us know.
Debbie Baker - email@example.com
Bruce Batchler-Glader – firstname.lastname@example.org
Harry Finkbone - Finkbone1@gmail.com
Liz Nau – email@example.com
Jennifer Olin-Hitt – firstname.lastname@example.org
Sue Palmer - email@example.com
Sharon Seyfarth Garner – firstname.lastname@example.org
Valerie Stultz - email@example.com
Carol Topping - firstname.lastname@example.org
Video: How Stress Changes the Brain and Body
by Sharon Horesh Bergquist
We all experience stress—it’s a hard-wired response that can be advantageous in the short term when we’re working to deadline or having a particularly busy day. In the long term, stress has negative effects on both the mind and body. In this video from Ted Ed, written by Emory University professor Sharon Horesh Bergquist, we can take a look at what happens in the body during episodes of chronic stress.
A little too much to digest? Bergquist suggests the best way to curb stress is to find a different way to respond to it—not as a threat, but as “challenges you can control and master.” And what better way to do that than through meditation? If you don’t have five or ten minutes right now to meditate, you might want to check out “Stress is Optional“—psychologists Stefanie and Elisha Goldstein suggest 11 ways you can interrupt the cycle of stress using mindfulness.
8 Evening Snacks that Foster Better Sleep
by Rosie Osmun
Most sleep advice suggests not eating dinner too close to bedtime, but what to do you if find your stomach growling when you hit the sheets? While a full meal can keep you up due to indigestion, an energy spike, and even by raising your core body temperature, a light snack may actually be a good thing.
We now know that certain nutrients support dozing off, and often, going to bed hungry can make it hard to get comfortable and fall asleep. If you do forage for late-night nibbles, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure your snacking doesn’t cut into sleep.
1. Mind Your Macronutrients
Carbohydrates consumed in the hours before bed reduce the time needed to fall asleep according to one study, especially with high glycemic foods like white rice. In the study, the most impactful result was with carbs eaten four hours before bed but it was also shown that if carbs were eaten one hour prior to bedtime, there was still a modest improvement in sleep quality.
Another study found that high fat diets may negatively impact rest, while other research has shown that special diets in general (low- or high-calorie, high-fat, low-carb, and others) may be associated with worse sleep.
For a good late night snack, aim for a small serving of carbohydrates, possibly with a little protein to keep you sated, but skip excess fat and greasy foods.
2. Keep It Light
Large meals take energy to digest, and some experts suggest that big meals too close to bedtime could contribute to or worsen acid reflux. Eating dinner four to five hours before bed (by 7 p.m. if you sleep at 12 a.m., for example) is generally seen as best, as is not overeating late at night.
If you are planning a before-bed snack, aim to eat about an hour before sleep and keep portion size small. If you’re watching your weight, factor the snack into your overall energy intake. As an example, one cup of cooked rice, one-half cup of cereal, a handful of crackers or one piece of toast represent a snack-size serving between 100 and 200 calories.
3. Make It Mild
Spicy foods are best left for breakfast and lunch, not late dinners or evening snacks. Anecdotally, you might recall a time when spicy foods or peppers led to a little heartburn or indigestion, and anything that affects comfort can affect rest.
One study tested the theory on young men, finding that mustard and Tabasco sauce eaten at dinner resulted in reduced slow wave sleep and longer time needed to fall asleep. One interesting thing they observed was an elevation in body temperature during the first stage of sleep.
It’s been established that a drop in temperature precedes drowsiness and that cooler temperatures result in better sleep, leading the researchers to suggest that capsaicin affects sleep via increased body temperature.
4. Choose Foods That Support Sleep
These nine snacks pair common ingredients that bring sleep-supporting nutrients without anything that might compromise your rest.
● Pretzels and Peanut Butter: Pretzels are a lower-calorie, high-glycemic carb that can satisfy hunger and most people find them easy on the stomach. Whole grain versions tend to pack a decent amount of fortified vitamins and minerals, but opt for unsalted when available. Pair with a satisfying partner like unsweetened peanut butter or even cottage cheese.
● Rice and Veggies: Microwave leftover (or frozen pre-cooked) jasmine rice with a handful of frozen mixed veggies, or pair it with a little lean protein. Skip the soy sauce (it contains tyramine, which increases alertness) and hot sauce (the spice might cause indigestion), opting for a squeeze of lime or little hummus instead if you need a flavor boost.
● Fresh Popcorn: Popcorn is a natural whole grain and a relatively healthy carbohydrate when homemade. Try an easy microwave method or use an inexpensive air popper. Avoid too much salt or butter close to bedtime, but feel free to drizzle on a little coconut oil for its sleep-supporting lauric acid.
● Small Sandwich: Use one piece of bread cut in half, or a small flat bread or wrap. Add in a serving of low-sodium turkey or tuna, baby spinach, tomato, a couple pickles, and cheese, if you like. Skip the onions and spicy condiments, though.
● Cereal and Milk: A glass of milk is an oft-suggested sleep-inducer, but there isn’t much research to back it up. A serving of low-sugar cereal provides carbs though, which are shown to help sleep. If you don’t do dairy, feel free to swap for an unsweetened nut milk of your choice.
● Banana Roll Up: This quick snack has carbs, protein, and healthy fats. Bananas are also rich in potassium, magnesium, folate, and vitamin B6. All you need is a tortilla, a banana, and some nut butter (almonds and sunflower seeds are both rich in sleep-friendly minerals and melatonin).
● Yogurt and Granola: Yogurt is typically high in protein and low in fat, providing a good snack close to bedtime. Just be mindful of the sugar count (some can exceed candy bar levels), and swap for coconut or soy-based if dairy upsets your stomach. Lighter granola or cereal sprinkled on top adds a dose of carbs to keep you sated.
● Oatmeal with Flax: Oatmeal is a pretty easy to prepare, and it brings healthy carbs and minerals. Flax seeds offer melatonin and healthy omega-3s, and fruits like blueberries or bananas can add a little sweetness without giving a strong sugar buzz. You can also try savory oatmeal as well, seasoned with a little salt and olive oil.
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