Reality: From Tooth Fairy to Transparency

As a little girl, I was eager to look under my pillow after having lost a tooth and seeing the coins the tooth fairy left for me. I loved the experience of fantasy and imagination as a child. The feelings of excitement tapped into deep longings as I eagerly waited for Santa on Christmas eve; as I anticipated my Easter basket filled with goodies on Easter morning. I was satisfied with my mom’s explanation of Mr. Sandman as he carried his bag of sand all the way up to my bed and carefully placed one or two granules in the corners of my eyes.

As I grew out of the fantasies of early childhood, I faced the reality of where babies came from. Ugh, I couldn’t believe it at first! I began looking at all the married couples I knew from church and had to rearrange my thinking. I can’t believe they had to do that to get a baby! It changed my childish reasoning. I later realized this act of sex was a pleasurable experience. My thinking emerged toward reality; from the tooth fairy to transparency.

Now, as an adult, I have a tendency to have an overly optimistic bias. I tend to live life in such a way that I believe the best in humanity. I believe human beings have the power to transform and grow and live life fully. Christ died to give us abundant life. He must have thought us worthy of His love to make such a sacrifice.

Yes, I know that evil exists in the world. We have an enemy that comes to kill, steal, and destroy.  We all have tendencies to manipulate, power over and control others. Some choose to live in the illusion that the world revolves around them. By doing so, others are harmed. Relationships are no longer emotionally safe. Still, the fantasy world is chosen over reality.

Having heard countless stories of others at various stages in their lives, I tend to see individuals as wounded, not evil. Some hang onto their tooth fairy fantasies through risky behaviors such as drugs, sex, and alcohol. Others do it by ignorance, isolation, distrust, or toxic secrecy.

I long to be transparent in my relationships although reality can be initially shocking, just like it was as a child learning there is no tooth fairy. Being transparent and responding accordingly is necessary for growth. Many of us resist that process. It’s comfortable to believe in the tooth fairy.

We, as human beings are designed to grow, change, learn, and develop. Living life fully means stepping out of fantasy and into reality. May each of us respect the reality of another, and choose to let go of illusions of control. May we gain the skills to step out of fairy-tale thinking. May we be open for transparency, yet hold onto the reality of life-giving fullness we are meant to live!


Precious in His Sight

I hear the the Vacation Bible School song in my head, Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight! Jesus loves the little children of the world.

Dads, be aware!! Children deserve respect!!

I’m very thankful to be a counselor to moms and dads realizing any emotional, relational, or mental healing in their lives will impact the parenting they do. When I help a couple dialogue to intentionally make the space between them emotionally safe, it’s not unusual for me to hear a comment like this. “Judy, learning this communication with my spouse has helped me connect with my teenager! It’s changed my parenting!”

Every adult I encounter has a childhood past. I’m exposed to stories of unintentional wounds inflicted by unaware parents. It’s my belief that an adult’s poor coping skills, anxiety, depression and other difficulties are exacerbated by the lack of attunement received as a child by his or her caregivers.

I’m all for enjoying and having fun with one’s children. On the other hand, playing with them without being in tune with their emotions, facial expressions, body language and verbal cues becomes exploitative.

A small child can’t say, “Dad, I’m about to have a panic attack when you throw me up in the air like that. Be careful because I don’t want to have a diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder when I’m older.”

A pre-adolescent girl can’t say, “Dad, please stop tickling me when I say, ‘NO’. I want my ’NO’ to mean something when my boyfriend touches me in ways I’m uncomfortable with.” 

Children DESERVE utmost respect from their parents, caregivers, and all of humanity. My heart breaks over the physical abuse of children. It breaks even more over the “normal” emotional/mental/verbal abuse that goes on as parents rationalize, “it’s no big deal.”

Children DESERVE to be treated with dignity, honor and value. They DESERVE to be listened to and validated. They DESERVE to be protected and nurtured. They DESERVE a peaceful home environment. They DESERVE to live in this world free from fear and emotional torment.

Dad’s, listen to your children’s mothers. Don’t disregard their concerns. Be open to their perspective. Trust their intuition if you are scolded for being too rough. It may be play for you, but it may be torment for your child. Be sensitive to their non-verbal cues. Be the emotional protector of their hearts.

Always remember, they are precious in His sight!


Attention Deficit Disorder- Attuning to God’s Invitations

I had no malice in my heart as a second grader when my teacher told the class to be quiet. The rest of the class obeyed. My short attention span contributed to my cluelessness.

The next thing I heard was a harsh, “JUDY!”

My heart began beating out of control. I felt my body temperature rising. Suddenly on center stage, I didn’t know my part. The slow motion milliseconds seemed like eternity.

I remember my teacher being a nice pleasant-faced woman, but at that moment I saw a statue-faced mannequin piercing my seven-year old soul. I heard another stern “QUIET” directed only at me.

Since then decades have passed along with subconscious memories and over-compensation on many levels.

I managed to live a majority of my life undiagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).  Yes, I’ve home-schooled my four children and continually struggled with managing my home and relationships before an official diagnosis and treatment was ever considered.

I admit my skepticism after being thoroughly tested by a psychologist who told me, “Judy, imagine trying to run a marathon with a broken leg.” That was his version of my functionality without treatment.

I said, “Really, Doc? Aren’t you being a bit dramatic? Haven’t I done just fine all these years?” That was my version of my functionality without treatment.

I realize everyone has blind spots and limited self awareness. I just needed to make the connection that MY blind spot here could be one of my symptoms. Aha! I followed up with research, meds, and battery of post tests. Yes, I needed treatment for something I’ve been living with all my life!

I embrace the imperfections of my brain.

I usually have a pencil or highlighter in my hand while reading. My Bible looks like a coloring book with certain words and passages in orange, yellow, or blue.  I’ve written my prayers to help me focus. I’ve learned to be aware of my family’s experiences of me.  I’ve become mindful of my own scattered thoughts and no longer automatically expect others to follow my rabbit trails. I sometimes unintentionally over-medicate by drinking more caffeine than I should. I’m typically hyper-focused with clients in my office. I welcome treatment medically and cognitively for my ADD! It does make a difference.


I’m learning to pay attention to what I’m paying attention to.

Read that sentence again slowly.


I ask the Lord almost every morning as I sit by the flaming gas fireplace in our living room,

“where is my heart being stirred?” . . .

“what has energized me over the last 24 hours?” . . .

“what am I excited about?” . . . .

”what person, event or interaction has occupied my energy?” . . .

“what has lingered on from my dreams?” . . .

“what emotions am I feeling?” . . .

“Lord, where have you shown up?” . . .

“How have I responded to You when I’ve noticed your Presence?” . . .

“what blocks in my life are keeping me from noticing?” . . .


What I normally do is write in a quality bound journal.  The date and time goes at the top of the page. My observations are written in list form. Some days the list is long. Other days, it’s short with only one or two items. I may include a reference or phrase from Scripture to ponder further.

For me, this morning space in my day is intentional awareness of God’s touch on my own soul. His gentle invitations to me is totally opposite from my teacher’s stern face. He understands my distractibility like no other. He knows my heart and calls me His beloved.

May you pay attention to what you’re paying attention to.

Goodwill Toward Men – Christmas Present


“And on earth peace, goodwill toward men”

Memories of Christmas pasts and expectations of friends and family can be overwhelming at times. As a child it’s easy to believe Santa comes down the chimney and brings presents. As an adult beliefs turn to distrust, negativity, and avoidance where there’s perceived danger. The wonder of life becomes no longer wonderful as we move through relationships.

I’m reminded of the phrase “goodwill toward men” on this special day we set aside to celebrate the coming of Christ. What does that mean?

If I could see the childlike soul of the person who holds discomfort in me, I may see a vulnerable and hurt little boy or girl. If I could see the substance of their being and look beyond their manipulation or rejection of me, I may be able to see their goodwill. If I could see the emotional scars out of their own unhealed wounds, I could relate with compassion.

May we seek to make loving eye contact and believe in the goodwill of our otherwise tension-filled relationships. May we hold onto our childlike faith and choose to grow beyond our own woundedness as children. May we allow the love of Christ and His healing touch on our own souls be the life-giving meaning of “goodwill to men.”

This prayer brought tears to my eyes more than once in my reflections of Christmas. May it touch your heart as you celebrate this sacred time!

Peace Prayer

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love.

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is discord, union;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is error, truth;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

Where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console:

To be understood, as to understand;

To be loved, as to love:

For it is in giving that we receive,

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

And it is in dying that we are born to

eternal life.

– attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi

Relationship Conflict – 4th of 10 ways to be real

I’m excited to share number 4 of our “10 ways to be real in spite of conflict.” This next step is not only necessary, but will take practice to master! Before I explain, let’s review the first three ways.

  1. Realize that resolving conflict is healthy and necessary for growth.
  2. Be curious about differences rather than demand, judge, or criticize differences.
  3. Ask permission of the other to respectfully address the conflict.

Review these first three points often. For most of us this way of thinking doesn’t come naturally. Write these first three points down on a 3 x 5 card and post them on your mirror or refrigerator to read and absorb in your mind. Change in thoughts, attitudes or behaviors usually don’t happen by osmosis.

Here is number four in our quest to be real in spite of conflict. It’s important to be aware of your body. Do you know when your face gets red before someone says to you, “you look embarrased?” Some of us may get red splotches on the neck. Or our hands may get sweaty. Did you know that these are spontaneous reactions coming from a designated part of your brain?

The brain stem controls automatic responses in your body such as heart rate, blood pressure, adrenaline flow, and many other chemicals flowing through your blood stream. We would be totally unable to function if we had to consciously think of all those involuntary bodily functions.

When you begin to feel reactions of anger or defensiveness, take 4 deep breaths and wait 90 seconds before responding. Breathe in deeply from the diaphragm (counting to 4) and slowly breathe out (counting to 6 or 8) like you’re breathing through a straw.

Why four deep breathes? If you do at least four of these and take 90 seconds, you will slow down the reptilian, part of your brain.  God wired our brains in such a way to perceive the difference between real or imaginary danger. We need to honor our own brain physiology. It takes 90 seconds for the neurotransmitters to travel between the brian stem (automatic) and the frontal cortex (reasoning) parts to respond like a human rather than a reptile!

Deep, slow breathing when triggered doesn’t come natural to us as humans. We certainly have the ability.

I encourage you to practice, practice, practice while in your calm state of being. If you do this first thing in the morning before your day starts, you’ll be amazed how effective it can be when you use it during a conflicting time with your loved one.

In the next blog, I’ll address #5 in “Ways to be Real in Spite of Conflict.

In the meantime, let me know how this works for you. I’m glad to keep your comments private or post publically as you prefer.