Tag Archives: family

Marriage and Family Therapy

In April 2014 we closed the Trenton office in the southeast part of Michigan to move to Saint Joseph on the southwestern part of the state.  Since July 2014 I have been working as the Lead Minister of the Church of Christ of Saint Joseph, settling in to become better acquainted with God’s people here and the community around us.  My goal has been to discern God’s leading and how my private practice will fit into my ministerial responsibilities.

This year I began seeing clients at the church building and I have found it to be well suited to my needs as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.  Therefore, I am now taking appointments with individuals, couples and families, dedicated to “Helping people overcome obstacles, manage transitions and reach their potential” according to the principles of brief, solution-focused marriage and family therapy.


New Year’s Resolutions and Marriage and Family Therapy

January1I don’t make new year’s resolutions.

I’m doing pretty good to make–and follow through with–one-day resolutions.

“One day at a time” is a great phrase for a recovery program, a project with a hard deadline, a new year’s resolution and, according to Jesus, a life.  For example, in Matthew 6:34 He encourages His listeners not to worry about tomorrow because today has enough trouble of its own.

“You know how to eat an elephant?” the man asked.  The answer: “One bite at a time!”

In my own life I have found that a year is too long precisely because it is too long.  Nonetheless, after building up 365 one-day-at-a-time events a year does not seem so long and is more easily achieved.

Sometimes people want to schedule appointments for counseling in rapid-fire succession.  They want this because of the urgency with which they desire change to be implemented.  The problem is that solutions to problems may take more than a few days or weeks to achieve.  Sometimes it is important to encourage people to take their time to implement change so that it is both achievable and lasting.  So it is not uncommon to schedule appointments two to three weeks apart.

Coming off the holidays, paying the credit cards off after all of those Christmas presents and getting back to work usually kicks off the new year.  We managed to hold it all together to encourage quality family time over the holidays but then, at the beginning of the year…. Bam!  Everything is back up in the air and the elephant walks back into the living room to have a seat on the floor.

So it is with Marriage and Family Therapy…one day at a time to get you where you need to go.

Family Setbacks

One of the real family tragedies of our culture today is the loss of community.  Alvin Toffler in his book Future Shock, among other futurists, had predicted that as our world became more connected electronically we would become more isolated; burrowing was a term often used.  Content with television, the internet and our electronic entertainment combined with a fear of the world ‘out there’ families would become increasingly isolated from each other..

With the loss of community comes a loss of connectedness that was commonplace only a generation or two ago.

I was reminded of this dynamic recently when we noticed that a family’s home in our neighborhood had a large white sticker on the front picture window.

We also noticed that a professional company was mowing the grass; they had always done it themselves.

A carpet cleaning company pulled up to the house one day and a roofing company delivered shingles a few days later.  The lights are out at night.  Nobody home.


It happens every day in neighborhoods all over southeastern Michigan as a microcosm of a national tragedy.  For any number of reasons from unemployment to divorce or debilitating illnesses, families find themselves in houses that they can no longer afford to maintain.

Families uprooted, displaced, transitioning, struggling, suffering.  How many times have we seen the sudden transitions in our own neighborhoods over the last several years without warning.  One day a family is there; the next day they are gone.  They just packed up and left for who-knows-where.

These things don’t happen overnight.  Usually they are preceded by months of discussions with lawyers, bank representatives, real estate agents, families and friends.  Done quietly in late night discussions, morning coffee and afternoon consultations.

Then, with all options exhausted, the deadline finally arrives and they’re gone.  The tragedy is that, as neighbors, no one knows what happened.

One of the really encouraging trends in churches today is the emphasis upon small groups and people becoming salt and light in their own neighborhoods.  One innovative approach worth noting was identified by Randy Frazee, the pulpit minister of the Oak Hill Church in San Antonio, Texas.  In his book Making Room for Life, he advocates a simpler, more organic type of family lifestyle that seeks to help people connect with the people who live next door, down the street in the neighborhood.

The reality is that to connect with each other requires determined effort and a conscious decision to leaven our immediate communities with neighborly care and concern.  In churches we call this a moving away from attracting people to our church buildings and focusing more upon helping our people think more like missionaries to their neighbors and fellow workers; i.e., being missional.

The effect of this realignment in lifestyle is that we know when families are struggling and, as good neighbors, we can rally other neighbors to care for one another, to celebrate the victories together and to mourn losses together.

Key word: together.


A Morning Person

I used to think I would never become a morning person.  Actually, I used to be one back in Junior High school.  College changed all of that for me.  Late nights cramming or playing hands of ‘Rook’ would keep me going until the wee hours of the morning.

Late nights seemed productive for me over the years and, certainly, a great deal of work was done while everyone else in my house was sleeping.  As in all good things, however, there came a time when I needed to change and so, I decided to become a morning person.

The transition was not as difficult as I had convinced myself that it would be over the years.  It began with a trip to Finland and the jet lag challenge that comes with returning home.  Instead of fighting it, however, I chose to go with it and I crashed in bed, first thing.  Waking up at 4 am I got up, dressed for the gym and started the routine that has continued to today, more than 3 years later.

Now Pam is the night owl and I’m ready for bed by 9:30 in the evening.   She gets to greet the kids when they come home at night…come to think of it, being a morning person does have its advantages.