2019 Stories

This page features stories and blogs written from November 2018 -December 2019. They are presented in the order in which they are written and the dates of each article are provided at the top of the article. Older articles and blogs can be found under the "Inspiring Stories" and "More Stories" pages.

desperate woman finds peace

A woman called who was desperate for help. She was very emotional over the phone and stated that this was an emergency for her. She had been helping her daughter raise her two children for six years and had been babysitting them every day. Then her daughter met a man online and three weeks later he moved in with her daughter, along with his two children. He was harsh with the children and spanked them frequently and the children became emotional and resistant, so this woman told her daughter that he was not safe for her children. This made her daughter and the boyfriend upset and they cut her off from the grandchildren and got married. Then the new husband told her to quit her job so they could live on his disability check.


This man had been diagnosed with military PTSD and was living on his disability. The grandmother was rightfully concerned about his stability and when he convinced his wife to quit her well-paying position it made her totally dependent upon this man. The grandmother stated that she and her husband tried to apologize to her son-in-law but he refused to talk with them. He allowed them to see the grandchildren one more time but the woman was so upset when her son-in-law would not allow them to take the children the following day she began crying and this upset the children. I asked her what emotions she felt regarding her grandchildren and son-in-law. She admitted that she had feelings of grief, anger, and rejection, but her strongest emotion was anger.


I had an important trip that I had to make at the end our our appointment so I only had an hour to spend with this woman to try to help her resolve her feelings. I suggested that we make up a list of the reasons for her anger toward her son-in-law.  She was upset because he would not talk to her or get to know her, he was very controlling and cut her off from her daughter and grandchildren, he treated the children harshly and frightened them, and he spanked them often with a belt.  Each reason for anger caused her to cry profusely but we made a list of 17 reasons for her anger toward her son-in-law. She cried continually throughout this process and I began to worry that I would be late to my next appointment. I offered to lead her in a prayer to give all her anger to the Lord and she agreed.


After telling the Lord each reason for her anger and giving it all to Him, she said, "I am tired of carrying this anger so right now I choose to give it all to you and I ask you to please take it from me and carry it."  Then I prayed, "Lord, Is there anything that you want this woman to know?" I instructed her to be quiet and let me know if any thoughts came to her mind.  She said, "I can do this. I don't have to carry this. He wants me to feel comfort."  I asked her how she felt about her son-in-law now and she said, "I wish he could get some help." She said that she felt hope and calmness. She suddenly quit crying completely and began smiling. She was in control of her emotions and was able to be much more calm with her daughter and son-in-law.  She left my office feeling hopeful and peaceful, and smiling.


She agreed to pray about her anger toward her daughter on her own and then we set an appointment to meet again the following week so that we can pray about her feelings of grief and sadness over the loss of contact with her grandchildren. Now that she has resolved her intense emotions she will be much more capable of having a good relationship with her daughter, son-in-law, and be able to continue to have a supportive relationship with her grandchildren.




"I can't forgive her"

April 11, 2019

A man came for help with anger, depression, drinking, and marital problems. He stated that it began two years earlier when he learned that his wife was having an affair with a neighbor man. He said that he was so angry at his wife and the neighbor that he could not forgive them and he had been tearing his wife down for the last six months to make her feel his pain, but it was only destroying his marriage. He was desperate to save his marriage.


I asked him if he would like to get rid of this anger.  He said that he would so I shared with this man that the only effective way I have found for people to do this is to make a list of all the reasons for their anger and then pray and ask God to take the anger from him.  He was willing to try this so we made a list of the reasons for his anger. He was angry because his wife had an affair with the other man and she left her family for a weekend which she spent with the neighbor. When they ended the affair she never apologized but just minimized the abandonment and became cold toward him for six months. She continued to go out without telling him where she was going and who she was going out with. We made a list of 8 reasons for her anger and I led him in a prayer, asking God to take his anger from him. Then I asked the Lord if any thoughts came to his mind. He said, "I want to forgive" and he said he loved his wife and felt no more anger toward her. 


He still felt some "hurt" because she betrayed him, lied to him, and broke her vows.  We prayed again and he asked the Lord to take this anger from him ("Hurt" is often another word for anger). He stated that he felt no anger or hurt but he felt guilt and shame about his mistreatment of his wife. I shared with him 1 John 1:9 and encouraged him to confess all his wrong behaviors to the Lord and ask for forgiveness. He bowed his head and wept as he asked for forgiveness for the way he had treated his wife. After confessing his sins to the Lord and asking forgiveness he said that he still felt shameful and bad, so I prayed and asked the Lord what the truth was about his belief that he was still shameful and bad.  He began crying and said that Jesus said to him "Any time you ask I will forgive." He believed that God had already forgiven him but he still felt shameful and bad until we prayed for the truth and the Lord gave him some truth; then felt forgiven.


Because of the intensity of this man's anger toward his wife I suspected that he had some earlier source of anger. I asked him if he had ever previously felt this kind of anger. He said that he felt the same anger when he was six years old and his mother had an affair and abandoned her family. It made angry that she got hooked on drugs, the drugs were more important to her than her children, she took the kids with her to places where they should never have been, and she continued abusing drugs and living with men who abused her. We made a list of six reasons for his anger at his mother and then we prayed and he asked the Lord to take his anger from him. After this prayer I asked him how he felt and he said, "I feel the anger going away." A few seconds later I asked him again how he felt and he said, "I love her; she's my mom. I feel great!"


I spoke to his man a week later and he said that his anger was completely gone and he and his wife were getting along well. They had one small argument but he prayed about his anger and was able to resolve it quickly. This man was about to lose his marriage which would seriously damage their children but he was able to forgive his wife and repair his marriage by learning how to pray about his anger toward his wife and his mother. He was unable to forgive his wife on his own but by listing the reasons for his anger and asking God to take his anger he was able to forgive her and save his marriage.


Set free from Depression and Shame

January 19, 2019

A young Christian mother of two children came for help with her depression which she said she had had for ten  years. She had received counseling which did not help and she was taking three psychiatric medications that were not helping either. She and her husband were both Christians but she felt overwhelmed, guilt-ridden, and hopeless. She shared that her family of origin was dysfunctional, her parents fought all the time, and her sister hated her to the point that she wanted to die. She made good grades in school, behaved well, and had plenty of friends but was full of anxiety, anger, and self-hatred.


I asked this young woman if she would like to get rid of her anger, grief, and shame and she said that she would but she was very skeptical that this could happen because she had been trying unsuccessfully to do this for ten years. I shared with her the simple prayer principles of this ministry and she was eager to try anything that might work. She assured me that she believed in prayer and she was a Christian. We began with her anger toward her mother who was very moody and screamed at her and her siblings as well as their father. Her mother dealt with her emotional issues by spending money which created many marital problems and eventually led her parents to divorce. This young woman could not talk with her mother about her feelings and her mother shared personal problems with her when she was very young, which made her feel guilty and inadequate. As we talked, she identified 19 reasons for her anger, then we prayed about these issues and she asked the Lord to take her anger from her. The Lord brought to her mind the truths that He was always with her and He wanted to take her burdens from her. Afterwards, she said she felt calm and peaceful and had no more anger toward her mother. She also prayed about some anger she had toward God and after releasing it she said that the Lord spoke to her heart and said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."


The following week she said that she prayed on her own about her anger toward her father, sister, and others. She received relief from her anger and felt hopeful, but she still had mood swings and depression. I explained that 87% of all depression is caused by grief and loss and I suggested that we pray about her loss of her father when her parents separated. She shared that she watched out the window of her home as her father drove away and she felt a deep sadness because her father was her only source of sanity and protection from her mother. She also lost hope of her parents working out their problems. She missed her father being available to listen to her, seeing him every day, talking with him 1-on-1, and showing her affection. She said that she also missed his happiness, his goofiness, and his playfulness. We made a list of 11 reasons for her grief and she gave all of these losses to the Lord and asked Him to carry them for her. These memories surfaced some more anger toward her parents so she gave all her anger to the Lord. After praying she felt "neutral and calm."


Then we prayed about the loss of a close friend who died from a drug overdose five years ago. This friend was like a big sister to her and she missed going to her house and talking with her. This young woman missed hanging out with her friend, being around her, and seeing her beautiful face. She also missed her compassion, her sense of humor, her love and acceptance, and her friendship. She identified 14 things she missed about her friend and then she prayed and gave all her grief and sadness to the Lord. When we were finished praying she said that she felt calm and peaceful and had no more anger or grief. She said, "My heart is whirling and happy!"


The following week, the young woman said that she had gone over two weeks without any depression. She was frustrated, however, and felt overwhelmed and shameful about her mothering skills. Her parents did not model good parenting skills so she did not know how to discipline her children and she felt shameful about her parenting. We discussed the reasons for her frustration and gave these to God, then when I asked the Lord if there was anything that He wanted her to know, the following thoughts came to her mind: "One bad day is not a lifetime. I'm still with you; I'm here. You're getting better." These thought encouraged her and then we talked about some basic child disciplinary principles that she could try to help her control her children better without having to yell at them. 


The following week she stated that her depression was still gone, and she had been praying about her emotions on her own. She gleefully said that she was feeling good and doing good and was able to discipline her children with much more peace and calm. She told her doctor that she was doing well and wanted to be weaned off her antidepressant because she was no longer depressed. 





family set free from grief

Family Set Free from Grief and Anger

Dec. 15, 2018

I met with a family to help them deal with some grief they were experiencing. This was a large family and the parents and grandparents were included along with the children. They accepted a foster child into their home who had been abused by her biological mother and her boyfriend. The young girl was handicapped and placed with this family at age 2 after she had been abused by her mother’s boyfriend. She came to them with two broken legs and both eyes blackened and she was not expected to walk again. They loved her dearly and cared for her for three years and then she was adopted by a relative and died from a seizure. 


I asked the family what emotions they felt as they talked about the little girl. They each indicated that they missed her and felt sad about her. I asked if they would like to get rid of their grief and sadness and they all said that they would, so I explained that there were two steps to releasing these feelings: First, they need to identify the things they missed about her and secondly, they needed to pray and give their grief to the Lord. I asked them what they missed about her. One person said he missed her rocking, another person said she missed her laughter and squealing. Another person said she missed seeing her crossed eyes, her smile, and her curly, messy, brown hair. Each family member identified things they missed about her including her joyful personality, her love for life, her love and affection, her happiness to see them when they came home, and her attempts to make them happy when they felt sad. They also said they missed seeing her sitting in their dad’s lap and seeing how she loved and trusted them after losing her trust with her mother.  


As the family members identified these losses their 3-year-old boy noticed their tears and grabbed a Kleenex and went to each of them and wiped their tears away. The family identified 29 things they missed about the little girl and they all said that they wanted to release their grief so I led them in a prayer and told them to repeat it quietly to the Lord. I read through the list in a prayer and then ended with, “Lord, I miss all these things but I am tired of carrying these feelings, so right now I choose to give them to you. I ask you to take them from me and replace them with your peace. In Jesus’ name I pray.” I then prayed and asked the Lord what He wanted them to know. One person said, “She’s with God.” Another said, “She’s safe and happy.” Others said, “I can see her smile and happiness,” “She has no glasses or braces,” and “She is whole and complete.” I then asked how they felt and they said they felt peace and gratefulness. 


One of the daughters admitted she still felt some sadness so we made a list of things she still missed. She missed the child’s ability to forgive her abusers, how she spread joy to others, how she woke up happy, how she recognized each of them, and being with her and seeing her. She gave these losses to the Lord and when I prayed and asked the Lord what He wanted her to know she said, “God cares and understands my feelings; He is willing to bear this burden for me; He is caring for her now; she’s not in pain anymore.” I asked her how she felt and she said that the child was a blessing and she felt comforted.  


I asked the family how they felt now. They all stated that they felt some anger toward the child’s abuser, so I began to make a list of the reasons for their anger. They were angry at the mother’s boyfriend who so badly abused the child, and they were angry at the mother who failed to protect her child. They were angry that the boyfriend suffered no consequences, and one person was angry that God allowed the abuse. Then I led them in a prayer and gave this anger to the Lord. I asked the Lord what He wanted them to know and the following thoughts came to them. “There will be consequences; God is their judge. God will protect her now and an angel protected her from more abuse. She was able to trust again and we should be able to forgive like she did.”  


After the Lord brought these thoughts to the family members, everyone was smiling and remembering the child with love. One daughter felt so comforted that she sat in her mother’s lap and cuddled like a small child. The entire family was happy and said they missed her still but just felt peace and comfort. The Lord set the entire family free from their sadness and grief over the loss of this foster child whom they loved immensely. God, the Comforter brought them all comfort as they told Him the reasons for their grief and anger and gave it all to Him. 



synagogue shooting and mail Bombs

November 9, 2018

The violence and mass killings continue to occur in our country and the same underlying emotions of anger and grief are seen in each new case. The week of October 23, 2018 was headlined by reports of mail bombs being mailed to more than a dozen prominent Democrats and liberals, including former President Barak Obama, Hillary Clinton, and billionaire George Soros. The FBI and local law enforcement officials worked together to identify fingerprints found on the packages as belonging to 54-year-old Cesar Sayoc, Jr., and he was arrested on Friday of that week.  Mr. Sayoc was a loner and a body builder who was living in his van and delivering pizzas. He had a long history of encounters with law enforcement, including a threat to bomb an electric company over a disputed bill. 


New York Times reported that Sayoc's father abandoned the family when Mr. Sayoc was a child, he hated his mother and clashed with her over his behavior, and his sisters and mother had urged him to seek mental health treatment but he was resistant to their suggestion. He also spent some time at a boarding school. A family lawyer who knew the family well stated that "He had tremendous anger slowly building up, and resentment." In addition to his long history of anger he had a number of significant losses including the loss his father at an early age when the father abandoned the family, a brief marriage in 2004 which ended in divorce after several months, loss of his home to foreclosure, and loss of finances to the point that he declared bankruptcy and began living out of his van and delivering pizzas for income. There may be other losses and sources of anger but these are sufficient to lead to his violent threats.


Mr. Sayoc was arrested on Friday, October 27 and charged with an array of serious charges including attempted bombings, illegal mailing of explosives, and making threats against a former president. He could be sentenced to nearly 50 years in prison if convicted of these charges.


Another mass shooting occurred on Saturday, October 28, 2018, when 46-year-old Robert Bowers entered the Tree of Life Synagogue in PIttsburgh, Pennsylvania with an AR-15 rifle and three handguns and began shooting worshipers. He killed 11 Jewish congregants and wounded 4 others during his rampage while shouting that all Jews needed to die. He expressed virulent anti-Jewish feelings and hatred toward Jews and immigrants on the social media network Gab, prior to this shooting.


In my book Stopping America's Violence Epidemic, I wrote that there are two underlying emotional factors that lead to violence such as this: anger and grief. Although we know very little about Bower's family, marital, and medication history, reporters have provided some clues to the underlying factors in his life that probably led to this outburst of anger. New York Times reporters in an October 28, 2018 article entitled "Pittsburgh Synagogue Massacre Suspect Was "Pretty Much a Ghost" indicated that Mr. Bowers was a truck driver who lived alone and had few or no friends. His neighbors stated that he was rarely at home and was never seen with guests or friends at his home. He lived in a "shabby one-bedroom" apartment and his neighbors did not even know his name. He was very quiet and his neighbors were shocked when they learned that he was the synagogue shooter.


Few details have been uncovered by reporters to identify the underlying reasons for his anger and violence, but it is clear from the hatred he expressed online that he was full of hatred toward Jews. A childhood friend who grew up with Mr. Bower said that he never met Bower's family but he believed that he had a "difficult home life." As teenagers they built pipe bombs and blew up watermelons and trees as pranks but he was never reported to have had behavioral or emotional problems in high school. No clues have been given for the reasons for his strong feelings of anger and hatred toward Jews, but it is likely that his anger was rooted in his "difficult home life."  It was also reported by the Times reporters that Mr. Bowers had lived with his maternal grandfather until the grandfather died in 2014. This suggests that he did not have a good relationship with his parents and family and the loss of his grandfather was likely a significant loss that contributed to his emotional despair. We have no knowledge of other relationship losses, marriages, or divorces.



SET FREE FROM DIVORCE

Nov. 22, 2018

I spoke with a Christian woman whose husband divorced her six years ago after seventeen years of marriage. They had five children together and he left her with the children for another woman. She was devastated and became depressed and began taking antidepressants and seeing a Christian counselor. But after six years she was still very depressed and overwhelmed, and periodically had suicidal thoughts.


I asked this woman what feelings she had when she thought about her ex-husband and she said that she felt anger, grief and shame. She said that she had tried to forgive him but that he continues to do and say hurtful things that make her upset again. I asked her to be real honest so I could help her make a list of the reasons for her anger. She stated that she was very hurt and angry at him because he had multiple affairs, he lied to her about the affairs, and he just told her that he didn't love and and did not want to be married anymore. Then after the divorce he remarried and used his new wife to hurt her some more, and he compared this woman to his new wife. It also made her angry that he was so emotionally abusive, treated her like trash, and was very selfish and self-centered. We made a list of 28 reasons for her anger then I asked her if she would like to get rid of her anger. She said that she would so I led her in a prayer and she told the Lord why she was angry and asked the Lord to take her anger from her.


After praying I asked the Lord what He wanted her to know, and I told her to just be quiet. The thoughts that came into her mind were, "I am with you; I will take your anger and carry it for you. It's going to be Okay. Rely upon Me and let Me comfort you." I asked her how she felt now while thinking about her Ex. She said, "I don't feel angry. I can actually breathe. The pain is gone!" She began laughing because of her newfound freedom and peace. 


Then I asked this woman why she felt shameful. She said that she let down her husband and children, she failed in her marriage, she should have done better, the divorce was her fault, and she is bad and shameful to be divorced.  I prayed for her and asked the Lord what He wanted her to know about those thoughts. She said that they felt true. So I asked her if she had confessed her failures to the Lord and she had not but she was willing to do so. I led her in a prayer of confession and she confessed her failures as a wife and mother and asked the Lord to forgive her. Then I prayed again and asked the Lord what He wanted her to know about her guilt. The thoughts she had afterwards were "He forgives me, that's in the past, move on."


We talked about her feelings of shame that were rooted in her beliefs that her husband's affairs were her fault, and that she was bad and shameful to be divorced. I prayed and asked the Lord what He wanted her to know about these beliefs. She said that the following thoughts came into her mind: "It was my husband's heart that was bad; God loves me regardless of my husband's actions; we all sin, and I am not shameful." She said that she still felt shameful because other people think she is bad and shameful to be divorced. She believed that she was dirty and shameful because she was divorced. I prayed and asked the Lord if that was true. The thoughts that came to her mind were, "That's not true. It was just a relationship." I asked her how she felt now and she said she felt no more shame. She exclaimed "It was just lifted from me! I can take a deep breath now. He loves me. I am precious to Him. I was worth Him sacrificing His Son for me.I feel really loved! I feel so much better!"


I explained to this woman that it was normal to feel anger, grief, and shame after a divorce but that the Lord does not want us to get stuck in these negative feelings. He wants us to experience His peace and we must learn to give Him our anger every day so that it does not "give the devil an opportunity and prevent us from hearing His comforting words of truth.  This woman was elated and laughing when we ended our conversation. She was overwhelmed with gratefulness to the Lord for His goodness. 


Although she still has a difficult time ahead of her trying to raise her children on her own, she will be able to go forward with the Lord's strength and with His peace in her heart. I also encouraged her to make a list of the things that she misses about her ex-husband, and then to give her grief to the Lord so that He can take that from her as well. She agreed to do this and she thanked me for spending time with her. Her years of counseling and her psychiatric medications did not accomplish what this one prayer session did for her. I explained to her that this was not due to my skill as a counselor but due to Jesus being her "Wonderful Counselor" and "Prince of Peace." 


Divorce can be devastating but it does not have to emotionally disable you or destroy you. If you identify the underlying emotions you have and give them one-by-one to the Lord He can set you completely free so that you can move on to be a good parent to your children and serve the Lord.