Archive for July, 2007

Dealing with Anxiety (Part 1)

It has been some time since I have done a mental health related blog so I felt it was time to revisit this area. I am beginning a two part series that will discuss anxiety disorders and the treatment of them.

Every human feels anxiety on occasion; it is a part of life. All of us know what it is like to feel worry, nervousness, fear, and concern. We feel nervous when we have to give a speech, go for a job interview, or walk into our boss’s office for the annual performance appraisal. We know it’s normal to feel a surge of fear when we unexpectedly see a photo of a snake or look down from the top of a tall building. Most of us manage these kinds of anxious feelings fairly well and are able to carry on with our lives without much difficulty. These feelings don’t disrupt our lives.
But millions of people (an estimated 15% of the population) suffer from devastating and constant anxiety that severely affects their lives, sometimes resulting in living in highly restricted ways. These people experience panic attacks, phobias, extreme shyness, obsessive thoughts, and compulsive behaviors. The feeling of anxiety is a constant and dominating force that disrupts their lives. Some become prisoners in their own homes, unable to leave to work, drive, or visit the grocery store. For these people, anxiety is much more than just an occasional wave of apprehension.

Types of Anxiety Disorders

An anxiety disorder affects a person’s behavior, thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. The most common anxiety disorders include the following:
Social anxiety or social phobia is a fear of being around other people. People who suffer from this disorder always feel self-conscious around others. They have the feeling that everyone is watching them and staring at them, being critical in some way. Because the anxiety is so painful, they learn to stay away from social situations and avoid other people. Some eventually need to be alone at all times, in a room with the door closed. The feeling is pervasive and constant and even happens with people they know.

People who have social anxiety know that their thoughts and fears are not rational. They are aware that others are not actually judging or evaluating them at every moment. But this knowledge does not make the feelings disappear.

Panic disorder is a condition where a person has panic attacks without warning. According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, about 5% of the adult American population suffers from panic attacks. Some experts say that this number is actually higher, since many people experience panic attacks but never receive treatment.
Common symptoms of panic include:

• Racing or pounding heart
• Trembling
• Sweaty palms
• Feelings of terror
• Chest pains or heaviness in the chest
• Dizziness and lightheadedness
• Fear of dying
• Fear of going crazy
• Fear of losing control
• Feeling unable to catch one’s breath
• Tingling in the hands, feet, legs, or arms

A panic attack typically lasts several minutes and is extremely upsetting and frightening. In some cases, panic attacks last longer than a few minutes or strike several times in a short time period.

A panic attack is often followed by feelings of depression and helplessness. Most people who have experienced panic say that the greatest fear is that the panic attack will happen again.
Many times, the person who has a panic attack doesn’t know what caused it. It seems to have come “out of the blue.” At other times, people report that they were feeling extreme stress or had encountered difficult times and weren’t surprised that they had a panic attack.

Generalized anxiety disorder is quite common, affecting an estimated 3 to 4% of the population. This disorder fills a person’s life with worry, anxiety, and fear. People who have this disorder are always thinking and dwelling on the “what ifs” of every situation. It feels like there is no way out of the vicious cycle of anxiety and worry. The person often becomes depressed about life and their inability to stop worrying.

People who have generalized anxiety usually do not avoid situations, and they don’t generally have panic attacks. They can become incapacitated by an inability to shut the mind off, and are overcome with feelings of worry, dread, fatigue, and a loss of interest in life. The person usually realizes these feelings are irrational, but the feelings are also very real. The person’s mood can change from day to day, or even hour to hour. Feelings of anxiety and mood swings become a pattern that severely disrupts the quality of life.

People with generalized anxiety disorder often have physical symptoms including headaches, irritability, frustration, trembling, inability to concentrate, and sleep disturbances. They may also have symptoms of social phobia and panic disorder.

Other types of anxiety disorders include:

Phobia, fearing a specific object or situation.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a system of ritualized behaviors or obsessions that are driven by anxious thoughts.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), severe anxiety that is triggered by memories of a past traumatic experience.
Agoraphobia, disabling fear that prevents one from leaving home or another safe place.

In the next post I will discuss treatment options for anxiety disorders.

Categories: counseling, mental health

The Sounds of Parenthood

People who don’t have children do not get to experience the darkside of parenthood. I am providing you an 11 second glimpse of bedtime every night. Sorry for the quality but I was using my cell phone. Be sure to turn your speakers on full blast to get a “realistic” feel.

Categories: Family

Another Year Gone

I turned 31 years old yesterday and I realized how fast this last year has gone by. This past year has been a huge growing and adjustment period for my family and I. I find myself in Lebanon, PA with my beautiful wife and two awesome daughters. I still have no idea why God blessed me with each one, but I will not continue to question His wisdom and grace.

I found out the hard way yesterday that I am not 19 anymore. I came to church to take our kids to go play mini-golf. I approached the building and saw a few guys tossing around a football. In all of my wisdom I planned to run in and intercept the ball. This plan was well thought out in my mind, but my body was not ready. I dropped my bags, ran through the grass, dived through the air and intercepted the pass. I wish at this point I could say that it ended beautifully. As I was coming down out of the air my left foot was not ready for impact and I twisted my ankle pretty bad. The kids thought it was hilarious so I tried to pretend that I was not hurt. This attempt lasted for about the two minutes that it took me to get myself inside the church building. My ankle instantly swelled up like a balloon. I ended up playing mini-golf anyway, but immeadiately went home to ice it down. I walked around all evening with a cold pack duct taped to my ankle. I was definitely cute. My present to myself for my birthday is an ankle the size of a grapefruit. Way to go me!

Overall I enjoyed my birthday. Dana fixed me an excellent dinner of BBQ pork, cole slaw, sweet corn, sweet tea, and a pumpkin pie. For a few minutes I thought I was back in Memphis.

I continue to feel the blessings of God and am looking forward to all that He has planned for me in the future. I hope that you too can appreciate what God is doing in your life and respond to Him accordingly.

Categories: Family

Church Plant 2

July 17, 2007 1 comment

I feel a little embarrassed about my last post. I was just kidding around about the whole “Liberal Church” situation. I have had several people tell me they are praying for the new work but I was just being funny due to the name Liberal, Kansas. I appreciate everyone’s concern and it neat to realize that people are actually reading what I put on here. Sorry again about the confusion.

Categories: communication

Church Plant

July 16, 2007 1 comment

I have been considering for awhile now that I want to plant a church. I feel that I am being called to Liberal, Kansas. I am excited about this vision, but am having trouble coming up with the name for the church. I have narrowed it down to: “The Liberal Church” and “The Liberal Church of Christ”. I am still confused about which name will best suit the congregation. I think I will pray about this one for a little while longer.

Categories: church

Summer Celebration 2007

July 2, 2007 3 comments

My family and I are headed to TN for our yearly trek to Lipscomb University’s Summer Celebration. This is by far the best lectureship that I have ever attended. This will be the fourth time my family has attended. If you have never been then you are really missing out on some great spiritual food. I will try to post a couple of days while we are on our trip. Enjoy your 4th.

Categories: Summer Celebration

Minister and Elder Relations

I was recently asked how I viewed the relationship between the elders and ministers. I thought about it a bit and offered this answer.

Psalm 23 paints a picture of God as the great Shepherd. This picture is repeated throughout the N.T. when referring to Jesus and also the elders of the local congregation. I once heard the role of a minister described as that of a sheepdog. I feel this is a fitting description of the relationship between the elders and the minister.

The sheepdog has a special role as a tool that is under the submission of the shepherd. The sheepdog does not have an agenda of its own. The sheepdog watches the shepherd carefully and is ready at all times to be used in any way to help protect the sheep of the flock. There are times that the sheepdog will herd the sheep. There are times when the sheepdog will step in to help the shepherd carry out his mission. There are times when the sheepdog may need to growl to get the sheep’s attention. The sheepdog knows that he must depend on the right action of the shepherd in order to do his job correctly.

The shepherd’s role is to realize the investment he has in his sheepdog. He cannot abuse or neglect the sheepdog because that will not benefit anyone. The shepherd must make sure that the sheepdog stays healthy because a sick dog cannot function in its highly specialized role.

I feel this is how the minister and elders should relate to each other. We both have shared but unique roles in caring for the sheep.

So what do you think? How should elders and minister relate to each other?

Categories: church, elders