Friday, April 30, 2010

Statistics on Childhood PTSD

O My Soul:

This video contains some statistics on Childhood Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The hopeful stats and good advice are at the end of the video so keep watching if you start. And remember:

Hope in Christ &
God bless you always


My Childhood Introduction to PTSD: Part 2

O My Soul:

When it was time to go, I swore I wouldn't forget this day. Boy is that an understatement. Plus, I was high from all the sugar in that free Root Beer.

What I didn't know was that dad was pretty high from all that free beer.

I said good-bye to the cute girl and dad took my brother and me to grandpa's restaurant. I loved that restaurant. Not only was it a great place to eat, it was also a great place for hide and seek. Lots of place to hide.

I remember I was sitting at a table with grandma. Only a few customers that evening. I was helping grandma fold napkins. I was waiting for mom to finish her shift. She was in the kitchen with her black and white waitress uniform. Then I heard it...

A crash of dishes in the kitchen and a blood curdling scream.

What in the world?!?!?!

I raced into the kitchen. First I saw all the broken dishes on the floor.

Then I saw the worst sight I had ever seen.

Dad took mom by the hair and started dragging her down the long aisle-way of the kitchen to the back door. Dad was screaming at her to get out. Mom was just screaming.

Mom was on her knees, hands on dad's hands, and being dragged by her hair.

I somehow managed to get myself between them and started punching dad in the stomach screaming at him to let go. We continued that way until we reached the other end of the kitchen.

Then dad looked me in the eyes. With a moment of fright in the midst of rage - he let go of mom.

The restaurant had great hiding places. One of them was the long hallway on the other side of the kitchen. It was usually dark and full of stuff. Extra tables, kitchen equipment, racks, and table cloths. When the lights were on you couldn't see much. When the lights were off you couldn't see anything.

I ran to the end of that dark hallway - and froze. No lights.

I was so scared. I wanted to runaway but didn't know where to go. I wanted to check on mom but didn't want to look for her. I just froze - alone - at the end of that dark hallway.

I don't know how long I stood there before grandpa quietly came around the corner. He stood at the light end of the hallway. He gently called my name and asked "Are you there." I came forward and he took me by the hand.

Then dad swooped around the corner, grabbed my other hand, and told his dad we were leaving. No! said grandpa and he held on to me.

There I stood during their brief shouting match. Arms extended while crucified on the hands of two people I loved dearly. Dad let go. Head down he walked away down the long dark hallway. Grandpa continued to hold my hand and walked me back through the kitchen to grandma, my little brother, and mom.

Chunks of hair had been pulled out. Bruises? I don't remember much but Jackie-O sunglasses for awhile and scraped knees. I don't know how much of a beating she took before I entered the kitchen that night. I only saw the end of it.

I now know I was traumatized from that event. My parents divorced. I thought it was my fault. I shouldn't have internalized that but I did. The topic, to this day, has never been discussed.

The cute girl at the picnic continued to go to my school until we graduated together. However, I never thought she was that cute again. Not her fault. It's just that whenever I saw her and thought about that great day at the picnic with the root beer and games, I could only remember that that was the day dad beat the crap out of mom and my life was never quite the same after that.

If you are interested in learning a little more about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Children(PTSD) you might want to check out this video.

Hope in Christ &
God bless you,


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Counselor Inklings

O My Soul:

Rolling out the red carpet for another great blog you may want to follow.

Counselor Inklings.

Hope in Christ &
God bless you


Original Sin: Comfort in Depression

Orignal Sin painted by Raphael

O My Soul:

What a blessing a clear teaching on original sin is for the depressed.

Lutherans, who still hold to the Holy Scripture and the Book of Concord, state it this way:

Article II: Of Original Sin.

1] Also they teach that since the fall of Adam all men begotten in the natural way are born with sin, that is, without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with 2] concupiscence; and that this disease, or vice of origin, is truly sin, even now condemning and bringing eternal death upon those not born again through Baptism and the Holy Ghost.

3] They condemn the Pelagians and others who deny that original depravity is sin, and who, to obscure the glory of Christ's merit and benefits, argue that man can be justified before God by his own strength and reason.

I know, that is a mouthful. (For an even bigger mouthful go to the defense of this statement here.)

But it is comforting that sin is a like a fatal disease of the soul and One who can do something about my sin has and continues to do something about it. I need a Savior. I need the Savior, Jesus Christ.

My depression is a symptom of a darker and deadlier problem. Eternal death.

Thanks be to God I have a Savior,

Hope in Christ &
God bless you


Anxiety and My Coffee Disorder

O My Soul:

I drink coffee.


1,000mg daily if not more.

This makes me an official caffeine addict.

The worse thing about it is that it interferes with my anti-depression medication. My doctor told me if I could get off anti-depressants and the coffee at the same time - I would probably feel the same.

Hmmmm. Coffee = pleasure, but anxiety = pain. Hmmmmm.

How about you? Take the quiz here.

Hope in Christ &
God bless you


No Thanks - Nine ways to stop saying "Yes" to everything

O My Soul:

I thought you might like this post from

Divine on

Nine Way to Stop saying "Yes" to everything.

It's helpful advice.

Hope in Christ &
God bless you,


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pastoral Care by St. Gregory the Great

O My Soul:

If the Rule of St. Benedict was written to guide monks in their spiritual disciplines, this book (originally entitled the Rule of St. Gregory) was written to guide pastors in the care for the souls of a secular parish community.

What do I like about this wonderful four part addition to my library:

1. An entire section, Part 3 of 4, addresses how to teach and admonish about forty different personality types. This is the heart of the book and the reason it is a useful manual in the care of souls. Here is an pertinent excerpt for the readers of this blog:

How to admonish the happy and the sad. The happy are to be admonished one way, the sad in another. Thus to the happy are to be displayed the sad things that accompany punishment, but to the sad, the glad promises of the Kingdom. The happy should learn by severe warnings what to fear, the sad should be told of the rewards to which they may look forward. It is to the former that it is said: Woe to you that now laugh, for you shall weep; but the sad should be told the same Master's teaching: I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man shall take from you.

Some men, however, become happy or sad, not owing to circumstances but to temperament. These are to be told that certain defects are connected with certain temperaments, that the happy are not far from lechery and the sad not far from anger. Hence each one must consider not only what he supports as part of his temperament, but also what worse things tend to press on him close at hand; otherwise, by not fighting against what he has to put up with, he may yield to the evil from which he thinks he is immune.

2. This text is Gregory's explanation as to why he should not be ordained.

The office of pastor is extremely difficult and should not be entered by just anyone.Part 1 addresses the difference in those who seek the office and those who should be in the office but refuse for various reasons. Part 2 addresses the life of the pastor. Part 4 of 4 addresses how the pastor, when he has done everything required, should return to himself, to prevent his life or preaching from making him proud.

3. I also learned that this text was commonly placed in the hands of newly ordained pastors in the Western church from the 6th to 19th centuries.

This is a lost treasure. But...

4. You can get this book for free!

It is public domain at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library and available in several formats. Pick the one that fits you best.

If you want the physical text you have two options: Possibly buy the entire set of The Early Church Father (but remember they are all available online as public domain at CCEL) or get the single text of Pastoral Care by St. Gregory the Great

Hope in Christ,
God Bless You &


Friday, April 23, 2010

Mental Health Patients Turn To Each Other

O My Soul:

Nice article in the Chicago Tribune on Mental Health Advocacy.

Hope in Christ &
God bless you


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day - in Christ!

O My Soul:

What reasurrance to know that I am a creation of God.

God created me. There is nothing about me that has not been created. He even gives me His breath of life to make me a living soul.

"God has made me and all creatures; He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them (Small Catechism - First Article).

Hope in Christ &
God bless you


Emotional Quotient and the Anxious Pastor

O My Soul:

Drama in the church can escalate over (in my opinion) relatively minor issues. But that does not make them minor issues. The sorrow and anger are all quite real.

This past week we have been working through such an issue. We had a Bible Study so the people could hear how I was thinking about it from the Holy Bible and the Lutheran Confessions - but my main goal was to project positive emotions and that I care about them more than myself or some other sub-group of the congregation. A few people were upset but the anger (surprisingly) was not directed at me. I set up some home visits with a few of these families and I kept my focus on projecting warm, positive, and caring emotions. I wanted them to know in words and actions that I cared about them even a little more than the issue while at the same time clarifying the teaching concerned. I also asked how we can proceed together concerning others in the congregation.

We have a really nice action plan on the table. The upset people have a valid concern. The concern only emerged after several hours of conversation.

Opposing views still exist but the anger has dissipated. They are not angry with each other or with me. The are close to a resolution on this issue without denying the doctrine to which they hold as a congregation.

And through all the drama, I've been sleeping well each night. I am able to talk to my wife as her husband rather than the pastor overwhelmed in congregational conflict. I have had time to interact with my kids as their dad. And I've been able to strengthen my relationships with several people in the congregation. The whole thing has been positive.

I have General Anxiety Disorder but my anxiety has been low through all this.

I have been working on improving my Emotional Quotient over the last year. There are four skills that are addressed in EQ. They are:

1. Self Awareness

2. Self Management

3. Social Awareness

4. Relationship Management

My success is a fruit Relationship Management. It begins with an awareness of how I'm feeling at any given time and how to take care of myself in the midst of my personal thoughts and emotions. It then moves to an increased awareness of how others are reacting to me and others around me. Finally, come the skills to build strong relationships - even in the midst of drama.

If you want, take this Emotional Quotient survey? And if you want to improve your EQ (which you can) you might want to check out these EQ resources by Daniel Goldman.

The take-away lesson for me is that Congregational Conflict can be positively addressed even with an Anxious Pastor.

Hope in Christ &
God bless you


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Prayer and the Family

O My Soul:

Nice post on Prayer and the Family at Lutheran Logomaniac.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Book Review: The Lutheran Pastor by G. H. Gerberding

O My Soul:

I read The Lutheran Pastor for the first time about 15 years ago. It introduced me to the topic of the care and cure of souls. I do no recommend the book highly, but since Google Books has a full view digital version you may want to skim the book there.

Published in 1902, the author claims the purpose of the book is to provide an American Pastoral Theology to fill a void created since The Evangelical Pastor by the Rev. E. T. Horn had gone out of print. The only English language resources for American Lutheran pastors would otherwise remain a plethora of Reformed resources (page 6).

The purpose of this post is draw out a few positives for the care and cure of souls.

The chapter entitled The Pastor's Private Work stresses the care and cure of souls in all aspects of the pastor's work but is demonstrated most clearly during pastoral visits to individuals. "The pastor is not only the shepherd of the flock as a whole, but also of every individual sheep and lamb in it, and to some extent of everyone that ought to be in it" (p.372-373).

Rev. Gerberding argues that visits are neglected in the Lutheran church for several reasons. Influential theologians, such as "Johann Gerhard and Wilhelm Loehe, did not favor private soul-care unless it were at private confession...There are several reasons for this position among Lutherans. Large parishes in Scaninavia and Germany made it impossible for regular and systematic pastoral work. Another hindering cause is the State Church which tends to make the whole church life official and perfunctory" (377-378).

Rev. Gerberding offers these suggestions for successful visits:

1. You can not learn how to visit from books.

2. Always carry a hopeful heart and avoid a professional smile.

3. Pay close attention to the children.

4. Never allow yourself to be in the way, withdraw at once if you are.

5. Discourage malicious gossiping.

6. Be blunt if you have a special purpose for the visit.

7. Never speak of someone's faults before others.

8. Never give the impression you like something for nothing.

9. Frequent short calls are best.

10. Keep a record of your visits and look over it frequently as a monitor (pages 399-401).

11. Special visits are also important. The list ranges from those in prison and those who are sick, both at home and in the hospital, to new members.

Although written as a corrective to a lack of Lutheran resources in a land dominated by a Reformed pastoral theology, Gerberding is highly influenced by Philipp Jakob Spener's Pia Desideria and therefore pietism is characteristic of his work.

The strength of The Lutheran Pastor is bringing the pastor out of a professional pulpit and developing Scriptural principles that can guide a pastor in the many decisions he needs to make. However, its weakness is the strong pietistic foundation upon which this pastoral theology rests.

Good books are life teachers but this is one book to simply skim.

Hope in Christ &
God bless you.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Luther: Flung to the Heedless Winds

O My Soul:

From Luther: Hymns, Ballads, Chants, Truth page 8-13:

“On July 1, 1523, the infant Reformation saw executed in the Brussels market place Heinrich Voes and Johann Esch, two Belgian Augustinian monks and followers of Luther. Since wandering minstrels and their ballads served as the mass media of the day, Luther wrote this first hymn of the Reformation as a ballad recounting the martyrdom of these witnesses. First appearing in 1523 in broadsheet for, it, along with Luther’s tune, was published in Johann Walter’s 1524 Wittenberg hymnal.

Tr. F. Samuel Janzow, 1913 – 2001

Setting by Carl Schalk

Publisher – Concordia Publishing House (1982)

1. A new song now shall be begun,

Lord, help us raise the banner

Of praise for all that God has done,

For which we give Him honor.

At Brussels in the Netherlands

God proved Himself most truthful

And poured His gifts from open hands

On two lads, martyrs youthful

Through who He showed His power

2. One was named John, a name to show

He stood in God’s high favor.

His brother Henry, well we know,

Was salt of truest savor.

This world they now have left behind

And wear bright crowns of glory.

These sons of God had fixed the mind

Upon the Gospel story,

For which they died as martyrs.

3. From where the Foe in ambush lay,

He sent to have them taken

To force them God’s Word to betray

And make their faith be shaken.

Louvain sent clever men, who came

In twisting nets to break them.

Hard played they at their crooked game,

But from faith could not shake them.

God make their tricks look foolish.

4. Oh, they sang sweet, and they sang sour,

They tried all their devices.

The youths stood firmly like a tow’r

And overcame each crisis.

In filled the Foe with raging hate

To know himself defeated

By these two lads, and he so great.

His rage flared high, and heated

His plan to see them burning.

5. Their cloister-garments off they tore,

Took off their consecrations;

All this the youths were ready for,

They said Amen with patience.

They gave to God the Father thanks

That He would them deliver

From Satan’s scoffing and the pranks

That make men quake and shiver

When he comes masked and raging.

6. The God they worshipped granted them

A priesthood in Christ’s order.

They offered up themselves to Him

And crossed His kingdom’s border

By dying to the world outright,

With ev’ry falsehood breaking.

They came to heaven pure and white;

All monkery forsaking,

They turned away from evil.

7. A paper given them to sign –

And carefully they read it –

Spelled out their faith in ev’ry line

As they confessed and said it.

Their greatest fault was to be wise

And say, “We trust God solely,

For human wisdom is all lies,

We should distrust it wholly.”

This brought them to the burning.

8. Then two great fires were set alight,

While men amazed did ponder

The sight of youths who showed no fright;

Their calm filled men with wonder.

They stepped into the flames with song,

God’s grace and glory praising.

The logic choppers puzzled long

But found these new thing dazing

Which God was here displaying.

9. They now regret their deed of shame,

Would like to slough it over;

They dare not glory in their blame,

But put it under cover.

They feel their gnawing infamy,

Their friends hear them deplore it.

God’s spirit cannot silent be,

But on Cain’s guilty forehead

He marks the blood of Abel.

10. The ashes of the lads remain

And scatter to all places.

They rise from roadway, street, and lane

To mark the guilty faces.

The Foe had used a bloody had

To keep these voices quiet,

But they resist in ev’ry land

The Foe’s rage and defy it.

The ashes go on singing.

11. And yet men still keep up their lies

To justify the killing;

The Foe with falsehood ever tries

To give to guilt clean billing.

Since these young martyrs’ holy death

Men still continue trying

To say, the youths with their last breath

Renounced their faith when dying

And finally recanted.

12. Let men heap falsehoods all around,

Their sure defeat is spawning.

We thank our God the Word is found,

We stand it its bright dawning.

Our summer now is at the door,

The winter’s frost has ended,

Soft bud the flowers more and more,

By our dear Gard’ner tended

Until He reaps His harvest.”


"Flung to the Heedless Winds"

by Martin Luther, 1483-1546

1. Flung to the heedless winds
Or on the waters cast,
The martyrs' ashes, watched,
Shall gathered be at last.
And from that scattered dust,
Around us and abroad,
Shall spring a plenteous seed
Of witnesses for God.

2. The Father hath received
Their latest living breath,
And vain is Satan's boast
Of victory in their death.
Still, still, though dead, they speak,
And, trumpet-tongued, proclaim
To many a wakening land
The one availing Name.

Hymn 259
The Lutheran Hymnal
Text: Acts 7: 59
Author: Martin Luther, 1523 st. 9
Translated by: John A. Messenger, 1843
Titled: "Ein neues Lied wir heben an"
Tune: "Denby"
Composer: Charles J. Dale, 1904

Hope in Christ &
God bless you,


Saturday, April 17, 2010

My Childhood Introduction to PTSD: Part 1

O My Soul:

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is not only for war torn soldiers and civilians, but is available for all in the hidden wars of family and domestic violence.

It was a perfect day for a picnic. The leaves were turning colors early that fall. The sky was clear and sunny. It was the day for the County Policeman's Annual Picnic. My dad was a county patrolman, off we went.

Yahooooo! This was fun stuff. I was about 10 years old. It was time for my little brother and I to spend the day with dad since he and mom were already divorced or separated or something like that. Mom was at home in the afternoon but then would waitress the evening shift at Grandpa's restaurant. Dad would drop us off at the restaurant after the picnic and we would go home with mom.

I loved picnics. So many other kids would be there. And a little secret. Dad's policeman buddy recently remarried and his cute step daughter (who started attending my public school and was in my class!?) would be there too.

The afternoon started with the big softball game in the park. My little brother and I played center field on either side of dad. Dad even had his boyhood baseball glove which he shared with us rugrats. Between innings we were served free Root Beer. What joy. The grownups had the free beer but that stuff was awful tasting. We kids had the good stuff.

After the big game, I served for half-dollars in a haystack, won a three legged race with a friend of mine, and wondered why my hands were so shaky and warm everytime I passed by my dad's friends cute step daughter whom I was to nervous to talk to directly.

It was a great day.

When it was time to go I, swore I wouldn't forget this day. Plus, I was high from all the sugar from that free Root Beer. What I didn't know was that dad was pretty high from all that free beer. be continued.

Until then:

Hope in Christ &
God bless you.


Friday, April 16, 2010

Panic and Anxiety Disorder

O My Soul:

Here are a few questions that helped me to identity my panic disorder:

1. Do you have spontaneous anxiety attacks that come out of the blue? Yes or No.

2. Have you had at least one such attack in the last month? Yes or No.

3. If you had an anxiety attack in the last month, did you worry about having another one? Or did you worry about the implications of your attack for your physical or mental health? Yes or No.

4. In your worst experience with anxiety, did you have more than three of the following symptoms?

a. Shortness of breath or smothering sensation

b. Dizziness or unsteady feeling

c. Heart palpitations or rapid heartbeat

d. Trembling or shaking

e. Sweating

f. Choking

g. Nausea or abdominal distress

h. Feelings of being detached or out of touch with your body

i. Numbness or tingling sensations

j. Flushes or chills

k. Chest pain or discomfort

l. Fear of dying

m. Fear of going crazy or doing something out of control

If you answered yes to questions 1, 2, 3, and 4, stop. You've met the conditions for panic disorder.

I lived with full blown panic disorder while living overseas but have been prone to it for many years. Currently, with less stress in my life, I have a lesser degree of anxiety called General Anxiety Disorder which is still chronic but somewhat managable and leftovers of what is called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. But I'll save that for another post.

If you are still not sure what a Panic or Anxiety Disorder is, check out this educational video produced by several competent organizations including the National Institute of Mental Health and hosted by Willard Scott.

As a pastor, I have several congregation members who don't come to church or won't get involved in church activities because of various forms of anxiety. But I'll save that for another post as well.

In the meantime,
Hope in Christ &
God bless you.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Anxiety: Depression's Cousin

O My Soul:

I have not written much about anxiety. I often experience anxiety more easily than depression. Take away the anxiety and then I can focus on the depression.

But what is anxiety?

Here is a quote from The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook by Edmund J. Bourne:

You can can better understand the nature of anxiety by looking both at what it is and what it is not. For example, anxiety can be distinguished from fear in several ways. When you are afraid, your fear is usually directed toward some concrete external object or situation. The event that you fear is usually within the bounds of possibility. You might fear not meeting a deadline, failing an exam, be unable to pay your bills, or being rejected by someone you want to please. When you experience anxiety, on the other hand, you often cannot often specify what it is you are anxious about. The focus of anxiety is more internal than external. It seems to be a response to a vague, distant, or even unrecognized danger. You might be anxious about "losing control" of yourself or some situation. Or you might feel a vague anxiety about "something bad happening."

Anxiety affects your whole being. It is physiological, behavioral, and psychological reaction all at once. On a physiological level, anxiety may include bodily reactions such as rapid heartbeat, muscle tension, queasiness, dry mouth, or sweating. On a behavioral level, it can sabotage your ability to act, express yourself, or deal with everyday situations.

Psychologically, anxiety is a subjective state of apprehension and uneasiness. In its most extreme form, it can cause you to feel detached from yourself and even fearful of dying or going crazy.

Hope in Christ &
god bless you


God's Word and Depression

O My Soul

Twenty four hour streaming of Issues Etc. going on NOW.

Currently (8am to 10am CST) on the Psalms

8-10 am Tim Saleska – Psalms

10 am-12 pm Andrew Steinmann – Proverbs

12 pm-2 pm Scott Murray – Galatians

2-4 pm Bill Cwirla – Romans

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Marriage Update

O My Soul:

For those of you concerned about my marriage after my Monday blow-up, she forgave me.

She said she learned a few Emotional Quotient things herself over the last few months.

However, thanks to all of you for your prayers.

Christ is in this with us so...

There is hope,
God bless you


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Binge Drinking and Depression

O My Soul:

I remember my sophomore year in High School health class. The teacher said that drinking increased the inability to cope with many daily and common problems that we might face in life.

I was confused. Alcohol was socially acceptable for old and young alike. And wow was it fun. I was a binge drinker. I started when I was 14. Realized I might have a problem when I threw up in my sleep at 17. Couldn't stop at 20.

Finally, I became not only bored with the drinking routine but also repulsed with hangovers. I stopped.

Why did I not remain addicted? I don't know. But I gave it my best shot. At my worst I knew that I blacked out at about 18 beers, but the evidence was that I drank a few more beyond that.

I was listening to a person talk about an alcoholic spouse the other day and realized I think like an alcoholic. The language makes sense. The patterns makes sense. Part of recovering from depression is learning new skills, learning how to handle the common problems we face in life. I think I still have poor coping skills...

...Maybe that High School health class teacher was on to something.

Here is a CDC video that says a lot of what that teacher may have tried to tell me.

As a pastor, I am still surrounded by alcohol. But the "wow" is turned into the witness of much pain, isolation, domestic violence, car accidents, marital separation & divorce, attempted suicide, and even a death - from alcohol.

Lord have mercy.

Hope in Christ &
God bless you and yours


Monday, April 12, 2010

Emotional Quotient and Depression

O My Soul:

My increased Emotional Intelligence Quotient came in handy this evening. The church council met in preparation for a Voter's Assembly. What surprised me was not the topic of dispute; not even the validity of an argument that is being proposed against one that I placed on the table with the consent of the Board of Elders. What surprised me was the pure anger of the one making the argument. Also, it appeared to me as personal antagonism against yours truly. Wow.

This issue has nothing to do with anyones intelligence. A high IQ won't help resolve the conflict. This is all about emotions. My emotions almost got the best of me. Tonight was the first time in a long time I felt pure, unadulterated anger. Call it violent rage. And then I felt all the signs of depression at the same time. Emotional overload.

The difference is that tonight I was very aware not only of my emotions but also how I was projecting myself to others. That is a skill I have been learning. It's called Emotional Intelligence. It really works. I did express a brief sigh of frustration at the end. But, I'm telling you, it had none of the emotional force I was feeling. Things remained calm...except for the one person in the room.

And a second person was upset. An elder stayed after the meeting. He hadn't spoken during the meeting but I did notice his face was red for most of it. He expressed his great frustration about the other gentleman. He was kind but not happy. I listened and we both calmed down.

Things will work out at church.

Unfortunately, I let my guard down as I came home. I wasn't that calm. I thought my wife wanted to talk, but I think she only wanted to balance the checkbook and go to bed. I started directing my anger toward her. That brief outburst conveyed the full force of my violent rage...toward her.

She balanced the checkbook and went to bed. I'm writing this post.

I hope things work out between us tomorrow.

God bless her, the council, and you


Pastoral Care Under the Cross - God in the Midst of Suffering by Richard C. Eyer

O My Soul:

Spiritual Care is not much of a topic in our postmodern culture, even in the church.

Reverend Richard Eyer introduces a spiritual care deeply rooted in Christianity. It is his relection on 20+ year hospital chaplaincy while, at that time, the director of pastoral care at Columbia Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

In the preface of Pastoral Care under the cross: God in the midst of suffering Rev. Eyer states his starting point for spiritual care this way:

The theme throughout this book is what Martin Luther called the "theology of the cross." He identifies these words as conveying the substance of God's way of caring for us, and Luther encourages pastors to follow this example. "He deserves to be called a theologian," he writes, "who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God through suffering and the cross" and stresses that "God wished to be recognized in suffering." Throughout this book, either explicitly or implicitly, I have drawn my understanding of pastoral care from these words, the theology of the cross.

In part 1, The Context of Pastoral Care Today, Eyer's brings the reader to a greater understanding of the theology of the cross and why it is a needed foundation for true spiritual care for souls in the here and now. He states, The goal of pastoral care under the cross is not to try to eliminate suffering but to point the parishoner to God in the midst of suffering.

A few pertinent quotes are found in chapter 2: Pastor as Cross Bearer. First, he must accept his own weaknesses before he supports others in bearing theirs. This begins with the theology of the cross, the Good News that God works through weakness...Second, he must give attention to his own growth in faith and to his psychological growth. As he becomes more aware of his strengths and weaknesses and gains insight into his own motives, he will realize more than ever that God works through him by grace. What a relief to learn this! God calls the pastor, not to be successful in what he does but to be faithful, regardless of results....This too is the theology of the cross.

In part 2, The Cross in Action: Practical Pastoral Care in Specific Circumstances, Eyer's foucses on the following topics:

Crossing the Years: The Elderly

With the Aid of the Cross: Aids

On the Cross: Dying

At the Foot of the Cross: Mourners

Crossing the Line: Mental Illness

Feeling Crossed Out: Depression

At the Crossroads: Medical Ethics

The rest of this post will focus on chapter 10: Feeling Crossed Out: Depression.

A distinction is made between faith and feeling. The Christian faith does not prevent depression. Here is another quote:

The pastor needs to understand the distinction between feelings and faith. They are not the same thing...The presence of Christ is fulfilled - dramatically for the depressed - in physical form by Christ's body and blood in the bread and wine of Communion and also in the presence of the pastor who gathers with the depressed person in Christ's name. Psychiatry may "sweep and put the house in order" (Luke 11:24-26); but to make it a home, an empty house needs the new furniture of hope which Christ offers and a family of support where two or three gather together in His name.

Rev. Eyer warns the pastor not to play psychiatrist among parishoners but does give some insight into the kinds of depression before he says:

Severely depressed people cannot be talked or counselled out of depression....The severely depressed must be directed to get help, since they will not do so on their own. Someone must take charge, preferably a family member, who orders the depressed against all protests to see a doctor. Directed care is necessary; empathy is counter-productive. Depression should be seen as a problem within a limited time frame, with beginning and end, within which the pastor walks with the person through the emptiness to help him visualize God's presence. The pastor does well to do this while the person is also under the psychiatrist's care.

Rev. Richard Eyer's provides a solid foundation for the theory and practice of pastoral care. I recommend this book not only to pastors but also to parishoners who, in the midst of suffering of any kind and afraid God has forsaken them, need true comfort and care for their souls.

Hope in Christ &
God bless your soul


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Depression and Private Confession

O My Soul:

The Sunday after Easter in the Historic Lectionary is John 20. Jesus Christ gives men the power to forgive sins on the behalf of God. Amazing. This gift of the keys to the church on earth to open and close heaven for sinners is not viewed well today.

Most view private confession as unnecessary. Men can't forgive sins and God isn't here.

Most view private confession as something between them and God. No other people involved.

Most view private confession as a punishment rather than a gift from a loving God.

Most view private confession as only for those who really need help.

But God can forgive sins through others because Jesus Christ was dead and is now alive.

But Jesus Christ is God and He is both in heaven and on earth.

But private confession is Gospel. Christ died to forgive sins.

And we all really need was private confession gives: Christ crucified, applied to me as an individual who suffers from specific and very real sins.

I think I have found a new Father-Confessor since this move and all. I would prefer the old one but I agree that it may be better to have someone in the flesh listen and absolve.

I hope you have the blessing of a pastor to listen to you and absolve you, too.

Hope in Christ and
God bless you,


Depression and Family

O My Soul:

Today was not ordinary for our family.

The two older children had their first soccer game of the year. They enjoyed it even though one child's team lost. I watched both of them.

While the first game was going on, I watched my youngest son. We sat on the sidelines. I read on of his library books to him. We had a nice time.

I spent time with my son on his 4-H project. He enjoyed it and we have some ideas for the summer fair. (This is our first time in 4-H).

We set up the backyard fire pit (thank you Menards). We made hot dogs over the fire with smores for dessert. The kids had a great time.

My daughter wanted to play a board game. So we did. Lots of fun.

You may ask, "Who cares?" Everybody does that kind of stuff.

Well not this family. It has been a long time since I spent the whole day with my family. I did have a few grumpy moments but pulled through.

My point is that it's not only the depressed that suffer from depression but also the family. Emotions are contagious. Good emotions. Bad emotions. Depressed emotions bring the whole family down.

I'm glad we had a good day; not just me but the whole family. I hope we can build many more good memories, good emotions, and good days this summer.

God bless you and yours,


Depression and Theology

O My Soul:

I am again ready to look at the deeper roots of this thing called my mental illness.

I propose (without promises) the following:

1. How to address depression symptoms. (from current & past events)

2. How to address the anxiety that often accompanies my depression.

3. Book reviews on the cure and care of soul from ancient & medieval & modern theologians.

Please let me know if there is a topic you would like me to address.

Hope in Christ &
God bless you


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Upward Spiral

O My Soul:

Anyone who has had depression can acknowledge the helplessness of the downward spiral. Anyone who has had a bad day has experienced a similar event, maybe not as extreme, but similar.

But what about the upward spiral? The upward spiral is several steps that move me from a bad state of mind to a good and active state.

The upward spiral is helping my morning wakeup routine. I tend to procrastinate in the morning. If I'm tired, its easy to sleep in. If I don't have to be somewhere, it's easy to linger over coffee. And so on.

So, I have a morning upward spiral to get me started.

The night before:
1. I program the coffee pot to brew a pot of coffee a half-hour before I get up.
2, I set my cell phone alarm (get up at the same time each day).
3. I go to bed at the same time each night.

In the morning:
4. Turn off the alarm.
5. Make the sign of the cross (My hand prays for me and reminds me I'm baptized when my mind and mouth are not yet working.)
6. Drink two glass of water and then a cup of coffee (Hydration gets my body working)
7. Shave, shower, dress.
8. Pray a psalm or two (Matins at church later on)

This spiral takes me a good hour or two, so my wake up time is early. But by the end, I feel good and can help my family wake up, eat breakfast with them, and get to work feeling well prepared to think, write, and face the challenges of the day.

I am preparing a few other upward spirals. Especially during spiritual attacks, depression, anxiety, etc.

What is your upward spiral?

God bless,


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Eyes

O My Soul:

Some depression is economic. Some depression is in the eyes.

Blessed Easter time to you.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Brother's Keeper

O My Soul:

As a pastor, why should I care about other pastors?

Because they are my God-given neighbors. Because many no longer enjoy their God-given vocations (relationships with congregations and church body). Most pastors I know are taking anti-depressants.

Other pastors are not the competition...they are my brothers.

Therefore, I am overjoyed to help form a monthly study-group for pastors along with congregation members for mutual support. It is a time to feed them with God's Word and Lutheran doctrine. In our case, the Augsburg Confession and Martin Chemnitz's four volume The Examination of the Council of Trent. And plenty of food.

It is a small but important gesture to support other pastors and their congregations.

Hope in Christ alone & God bless you,


Sunday, April 4, 2010


O My Soul:

Here is a brief but nice article on lessoning the stigma of mental illness from the Mayo Clinic.

Stigma is complicated.

If I told you I broke my leg or have high cholesterol you would probably understand why I'm wearing a cast or taking Lipitor.

If I told you I have clinical depression with anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder on top of a dependent personality disorder, then you might just walk away...quickly.

The difference between the two situations is called stigma.


Blessed Easter

O My Soul:

Jesus Christ is risen!

He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

The angel gave the message to His disciples that He is not in the tomb but has gone before them into the town of Galilee.

Today, He is located where He promises to be for you.

Where is that? He promises to speak to you in the preaching of His Word by His called servants. He promises to meet you bodily in the sacrament of His Holy Supper.

May God bless you His way this Easter season.


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Your death for me my plea

O My Soul:

When depression strikes, I tend to become quiet. Less communicative. More withdrawn.

We sang O Sacred Head Now Wounded on Good Friday evening. It's a beautiful hymn. This verse stood out for me during the service.

Here will I stand beside you, Your death for me my plea;
let all the world deny You, I clasp you close to me.
My awe cannot be spoken, to see You crucified;
but in Your body broken, Redeemed, I safely hide.

God bless you all.