November 28, 2011

Eight Months

Anna is growing up so fast. I can't take it. She's really begun to enter into the older infant stage this month. She's constantly on the go, trying to climb and pull herself up and scoping out anything new. She loves to run her hands over new textures- I think it's her favorite thing to do these days. She is also making all sorts of indiscriminate sounds (da-da-da) and still loves to smile. I'm guessing she weighs around 15 pounds now.

She helped open her first gift this month. So fun.

We've had lots of opportunities to dress Anna up this month! As you can tell, I'm old fashioned and generally like to dress babies like babies rather than in mini adult clothing (though I do have some really cute "adult" baby clothes that she sometimes wears). The above white outfit was handed down from my mother-in-law and worn by my sisters-in-law. How cute is that?

We have thoroughly enjoyed Anna this month. She has such a happy nature about her. From the moment I pick her up in the morning to the moment I put her down, she gives me this big toothy grin. *Sigh.* I fall in love more and more each month.

November 20, 2011

The Newbie Pictures

I realized I never posted our family/Anna's newborn pictures. Ok, so they aren't really newborn newborn pictures. We were a little late in getting them taken. But she was less than three months old, which is still considered newborn in baby lingo!

We were surprised that we had a hard time getting Anna to smile for these pictures because she is typically very smiley. We realized that when she is in a completely new environment she gets real serious while taking everything in! Hence, no smiles. Next time we'll do it at our place  :)

November 15, 2011

Athlete considers himself fortunate

Athlete considers himself fortunate - The Boerne Star: News: At first, Thomas Bourgeois might appear to be just another guy jogging around Boerne’s residential streets.

November 13, 2011

November 11, 2011

Counseling and Christianity

I thought I would write a post about counseling and Christianity. The reason for this is that I often get questions from friends like, "how does a Christian go about receiving appropriate counseling?" or "can Christianity and counseling really go hand in hand?"

I've also recently encountered some material that says psychotherapy is at odds with Christianity- all the time. Specifically, I listened to this mindset in a series by a Christian world speaker who Ben and I generally enjoy. The problem is he had no background in counseling and didn't understand it properly, therefore he sent out some incorrect messages in his teaching. It saddens me, because counseling can be a valuable tool in the lives of many who are not able to "pick themselves up by their bootstraps" and need extra help to come through a hard season victoriously.

Though there is a lot I could say, my attempt is to make this post brief.

There are lots of ways people use the word "counseling." I'm not referring to pastoral counseling, mentoring, or support giving. I'm using the term "counseling" in the terms of psychotherapy: going to see a counselor or psychotherapist with a degree (a Masters or Doctorate) in counseling psychology, community counseling, or professional counseling. The word "psychotherapy" does not imply some weird, Freudian psycho analysis stuff. It's simply a term implying that the type of "therapy" a person is receiving is "psycho"- has to do with the inner individual's thoughts, emotions, and behavior.

The common misconception I hear is that counseling is at odds with Christianity because it blames one's problems on the person's environment and encourages them to not take responsibility for their own actions. Also, that all psychotherapy is humanistic and not supported scripturally. This is not the case. I believe most of these misconceptions stem from what people know about the founding father of psychology, Sigmund Freud, and what they learn in introductory psychology classes. It is rare that a counselor uses Freudian technique nowadays.

The misconception also comes from lack of knowledge about the counseling technique called "insight." In some therapies (not all), value is placed on the process of discovering where one's wounds stem from. Contrary to popular belief however, the purpose of insight is not to claim someone to blame. The purpose is so a person can acknowledge the how and why, then choose to forgive, and finally shift the responsibility for their actions to themselves. It is actually more likely that a person will assume responsibility for their own beliefs/actions once they move through this process than if they remained in a state where they subconsciously blame the "wounder" but have no idea they are doing so. Essentially, how can you choose to forgive when you don't even know you are holding an offense? Knowledge can be power. Of course, this is just one tiny part of some types of psychotherapies. Many place no emphasis on insight and skip it entirely.

Rabbit trail aside, there are many types of psychotherapy. A few common types are Behavioral, Cognitive-behavioral, Person-centered, Existential, Gestalt, Narrative, Motivational Interviewing, Psychoanalytic, Rational-emotive, and Cognitive Processing Therapy (specifically for those who have experienced trauma).

It is true that not all of these types of psychotherapies are completely in line with scripture. But if you are looking for counseling that fits with your Christian beliefs, and you can find a counselor who IS a Christian (there are lots out there) there are at least three types of counseling that are in line with scriptural concepts and, contrary to mainstream belief, are not about blaming others and shirking responsibilities.

They are:
Person-centered (depending on how the counselor approaches it)

To avoid turning this into a lengthy post, I will mention how the first two are supported by scripture. Interestingly, Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one of today's most common forms of counseling and is a best practice, meaning it has been proven to be the one of the most effective therapies in dealing with problems like depression, anxiety, some phobias, etc. Cognitive-behavioral is a therapy that focuses on changing the way you think.

In essence it resembles 2 Corinthians 10:5. This scripture tells you to take captive your thoughts and make them obedient to Christ.  Take captive your thoughts to what you know is true.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is when a trained therapist first teaches you how to identify when your thoughts are not truth. Then you work on changing them actively through various exercises until they become natural. As your thoughts shift, so do your emotions. As your emotions change, so do your actions. Thus, it is the opposite of "blaming others" and "not taking responsibility for change." It is the very essence of diving in and working towards believing truth and letting it transform you. It is practicing filtering what you let into your mind. If you are Christian, then your truths may look a little different from someone else's. The nice thing about counseling is that it's tailored to your values.

Along these lines, Rational-emotive therapy helps you identify which of 12 commonly held core irrational beliefs about the world (similar to the Christian concept of "strongholds") are negatively affecting how you feel and what you do. By "tearing down these strongholds" (2 Cor. 10:4) you learn to stop living out of fear, anxiety, and depression.

An example of a core irrational belief that many people act out of: Events in my past are the cause of my problems – and they continue to influence my feelings and behaviors now.

The goal is to replace this, through counseling work, with the belief:  The past can’t influence me now. My current beliefs cause my reactions. I may have learned these beliefs in the past, but can choose to change them in the present.

Another of the 12 irrational beliefs: I need approval from others at all times and I must avoid disapproval from any source.

With time, this gets replaced with the belief:  Approval feels good to have, but is not a necessity – I can survive (even though uncomfortably) without it.

As you can see, this is far from blaming others for your state of mind and shifting responsibility.

Rational-emotive therapy is my favorite and I used it a lot in the hospital setting. I feel good about the 12 irrational beliefs and never had to compromise my Christian values when using them, yet I could help someone who did not want anything to do with Christianity. In essence, I could teach truth in a secular setting. If I had a Christian client, I could teach truth more directly and use scripture as support and encouragement. Since the world is full of both Christians and non-Christians who need help, it is encouraging that you can counsel truth regardless.

While it's true that not every aspect of every type of psychotherapy is in line with scripture, most counseling these days is integrative. Therefore, if you can find a christian counselor with a strong background and training, good discernment, and the ability to leave the aspects of psychotherapies that are not in line with scripture, he or she can be quite effective. Many people cannot overcome mental illnesses or similar difficulties without help, and often Christians feel that there is something wrong with them if they can't "pray it away" and are afraid to go to counseling because it's taboo for Christians. Unfortunately, there is a lot of information out there to support this mindset. Well-meaning, but often from those who have never experienced a problem like chronic depression or anxiety and don't understand the process of therapies.

I hope this is an encouragement to those who could benefit from psychotherapy. As in many professions, there are both good and bad counselors. Similar to the way a bad teacher or a good teacher can color your view of a subject, a good or bad counselor can do the same for counseling. It is difficult to progress with a poor counselor, so it's always good to get personal recommendations.

Favorite Websites

A collection of my favorite online resources and websites. I've found many of these through blog recommendations so I'm sharing the love. There are a few obvious ones and hopefully some new-to-you ones.

Picnik- Free online photo editing. This is how I made my blog header. You can crop, touch up, add text and borders to pictures and save them as files on your computer. Did I mention it's free?

Local Harvest- A site to find Community Supported Agriculture in your area. CSAs are local farmers who will deliver their fresh and safe meat and produce for a reasonable price. You usually pay a monthly set amount and receive various seasonal produce and free-range meat, sans chemicals of course. We don't use this yet, but I can't wait for the time when we will!

Simple Mom- I love this site (and its sister sites look great too- Mom, Kids, Organic, Homeschool). It is the only article blog that I subscribe to via email. The editor is a woman named Tsh who's values resemble ours. She is Christian (though her blog isn't spiritual heavy), world-conscious, and counter the busy/materialistic American culture. She encourages others to live simply but richly. Love it!

Meetup- a great way to find Mom groups or other common interest groups in your area. Particularly helpful if you are new to an area.

A Disciples Notebook- perhaps the most profound devotionals in the online world. I've subscribed to a lot of devotional emails in the past and this is the only one I haven't abandoned. I still regularly get their daily email in my inbox and it is always encouraging and challenging. I even have a folder in my inbox saved with my favorite ones (problem is I end up saving every other one :)

Tripadvisor-  We used this website to plan our honeymoon in St. Lucia, our visa renewal trip to Thailand, and our anniversary in Charleston. I'm definitley not a vacation planning psycho (I like relaxing vacations without a lot to do), but since we don't take vacations often we wanted to make sure we were staying somewhere we loved and going to restaurants and sites that we would enjoy. Thankfully, everything we picked through reading reviews on Tripadvisor (and checking out their well-ranked stuff) were off-the-beaten path (often skipping the common touristy hotels and sights) and PERFECT for us. Thanks to this website, we've had absolutely amazing times on all of our vacations without wasting time and money on less-than-awesome places and things to do. Time is precious when it comes to vacations, and this website ensures you use your time in a way that suits you.

Environmental Working Group (both the health database  and food section)- I have used these as references numerous times when deciding if a food or product is something I feel comfortable using- particularly when buying baby products and making baby food.

Mint- free budgeting and financial tools. Quality stuff.

Georgia Pines (or your state's online library system)- I love that Georgia's libraries are synced so you can use any one to pick up or drop off books. Library-ing is super easy these days because you can look up your books before you go. If a book is checked out, I put it on hold from home. If it's available, I write down the call number and breeze in and out when I have the time.

resolved2worship- I'm generally not into keeping up with people's lives whom I don't know but I make an exception for this encouraging open journal of a thirty-something women named Alyssa Welch. It is probably the most encouraging real-life blog out there, whether you are a mom (she has 8 kids), a wife, or a single. I have grown so much through reading about her life and thoughts. And he might kill me for saying this but Ben loves it to. He is often found reading entries and commenting, "have you read the latest post? It was so good!"

Wholesome Baby Food- great resource on everything from making your own baby food, to food allergies, to nutrition. It's the only website I use regarding child nutrition these days.

Young House Love- the best, funniest home improvement/DIY site! They have any and every project how-to: building a cabinet from scratch, painting your kitchen, refinishing furniture, etc. I don't read all their posts because they are full-time bloggers and DIYers, but a simple search comes up with anything I'm looking for. Great resource.

Pandora- for obvious reasons. A great way to freely be introduced to new music and get custom playlists without the time spent to create them yourself. I use Pandora a lot with Anna- it keeps me from having to buy a bunch of kid CDs. I made a Disney playlist and one with more mellow kiddy songs. When it plays something I really like, I "bookmark" it.

Pinterest- has become my new way of organizing projects and ideas.

Etsy- online store where people sell their art and other homemade items. Surprisingly, I've found a lot of things on Etsy for a fraction of the cost of a typical store's selection- from a nursing cover to a tote bag. Great for gifts. Bonus that your are supporting fellow artists and the stuff is unique and handmade.

November 5, 2011


Let me just say that whoever came up with this idea is brilliant. Just brilliant.
In case you are feeling too lazy to click on the link, check it out:

Yes, that would be a doll WITH A PROSTHETIC LEG!

Not sure why that have that long strap from the knee to the waist (not typical), but the rest is pretty life-like.

All I can say is, Wow.

In case you were feeling gender-typed, don't worry,
they have a limited amount of boy dolls :)

This picture was appropriately titled "boyamputee1".

And it's not like they cost an arm and a LEG (he he).
They aren't cheap, but they are barely the cost of an American Girl doll.
C'mmon now!!

Who would have thought a year ago I would be looking at amputee dolls?

All fun aside, I really think it's awesome.

Anna says, "Who needs two equal legs? I can stand all by myself."


"But I do need a little help getting up. Thanks Mommy!"