There is a common belief that the proof of God’s non-existence is the presence of evil in the world. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard people say, “I can’t possibly believe in a God that would allow such and such an evil (insert their particular struggle).” For me it’s just the opposite. I can’t possibly not believe in God, because He’s been so gracious in delivering me from evil and helping others rise above the evil in their lives. How you embrace or fight evil defines you. When I don’t let Him deliver me from evil, that’s all on me. The evil grows like a cancer and the darkness looms. When I let Him deliver me from evil, the sun starts to rise. God gives us the choice: embrace the evil and let it consume you or fight it with God’s help and see the sun peek through the clouds.
The last time I saw my oldest son, Marty (he lives in San Francisco and owns a sign company – Martin Sign Company), he signed me up for Instagram, because he and my youngest son, Jeffrey, a chef and restaurateur in Santa Cruz, California (Alderwood) have Instagram accounts and use it to promote their businesses. It’s been fun to follow their posts and to see their talents on display. I marvel at their creativity.
Then I started thinking about how I could use Instagram in my own company, but that’s more difficult because therapy is not very visual. Over the years I would have had some pretty amazing before and after pictures if I could have taken a picture of my clients when they first walked in the door versus when they were done with therapy. That would have been pretty convincing advertising, but you’ll have to take my word on that!
So I’m wondering, how do I reduce our business to a little visual you can see on an smartphone screen?
And then we ended up re-inventing our counseling company, Heart to Heart Communication. It was a great name for over twenty years, but was conceived prior to the monolithic presence of the Internet and Internet advertising. At the first of the year (2019) Andy Bradley joined our staff in Ames and he has experience working with teenagers. We are excited to have Andy as part of our staff with his rich background and engaging spirit. Andy expands the services we offer, so a name change was in order. As a result we changed our company name in Ames and Des Moines, to Ames Counseling Center and Des Moines Counseling Center to help our online presence and to match our Cedar Rapids Counseling Center office (our other son, Brandon, runs that office). Hopefully, this helps our Google searches, unifies our brand and conveys we do more than only see adult individuals and couples.
That part’s great, but in the process of switching our online presence from thrivingcouples.com to amescounselingcenter.com and desmoinescounselingcenter.com we had a few month lull there as we were waiting (and are still waiting!) for our Internet websites to rise among the ranks. Ultimately, we hope this will make our company grow, but meanwhile my client load was down and I’m sort of (kind of, definitely was) freaking about out how we are going to keep paying the bills!
Another element came into play: The backstory on this also starts with my oldest, Marty. He gave me a Kindle about ten years ago and showed me how to download books from Amazon and I’ve barely bought a paper book since. My wife is probably thrilled about that! We used to have books all over the place. One of the features of a Kindle is being able to highlight great quotes and I’ve highlighted countless wonderful quotes. Here I am, sitting on a gold mine.
Then I purchased an iPad for a portable calendar backup for my office in case my MacBook Air died at just the wrong time, and low and behold, the iPad has a Kindle app and there’s all my books just waiting to be read. I dive into my Kindle G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936. He’s another story and my favorite author) library and come across a quote of his I just love. And then another and another. And I start to think how can I convey his wisdom beyond my little world, because he’s too good to just lie still. He’s stood the test of time and a generation is rising that knows not Chesterton.
All these elements were coming together. What is visual about counseling is an idea, a phrase, a little gem a person hears and it changes his or her life. The essence of therapy is ideas. Time and again many of my clients will tell me it was one thought I shared with them that took their life into a new trajectory. The curious thing for me is I never know what that one thought will be. I plant seeds for a living. I can’t make them grow. That some seeds find fertile soil keeps me going.
This certainly happened in my life when I went to counseling! At the time I was a pastor and going through a rough patch of depression, mostly because the pastorate hadn’t worked out for me as I’d hoped. I was struggling with what to do with my life, because, while I was a good pastor in some ways, it wasn’t a fit in others and it was becoming apparent I needed to shift gears. How do you do that at forty years old with a wife and four kids and live in a parsonage and don’t own a home and and and … But then I really liked my counselor and one of my recurrent thoughts while I went to counseling was pondering the career of a counselor and thinking “I could do this.” And indeed, I could.
The therapist was more helpful than I can really say. It’s been long enough I can’t even remember his name. Isn’t that horrible? He happened to be a former minister! Well, duh! He asks me, “So if you didn’t have to worry about bills or your kids or supporting your wife, what would you do?” “That’s easy,” I replied. “I’d go get my Ph.D. But I could never do that.” He said, “So you think it would be better for you to show your kids that when they reach a difficulty in their lives, that they need to just lay around and be depressed like dad or do you want to teach them to rise to the challenge?” I’m not sure I’m getting the quote right, but the word picture of my children following my lead and my lead at the time wasn’t a pretty picture, was enough to help me stand up again.
Which brings me back to the quote from G. K. Chesterton above. Out of the darkness in my life at that time, the sun peeked through. I could never be a good counselor or a good pastor for that matter, without having gone through a difficult period and found a path through the wilderness. At the time it would have been hard for me to see any good out of what I was going through. Now I see it as a gift.
There’s a popular belief that we all go through five major heart-aches in life, like it’s a universal law. I don’t know how the number was settled on five. I was recently reading about the Scottish pastor and writer, George MacDonald’s life (1824-1905) and he had eleven children, 6 of whom died in their first year, 5 of their first 6! I can’t even imagine that kind of heartache, on top of which he struggled with breathing problems, likely asthma and tuberculosis, his entire life. We will have some quotes from MacDonald. He was the writer that greatly influenced both C. S. Lewis and G. K. Chesterton. Thankfully, MacDonald didn’t crawl in a hole and give up because he had to face problems. And here he is, blessing us over a century later. Amazing, really.
Even now, I think of the Proverb I often remember when I get discouraged that helps me rise to a challenge, including this one I’m going through now where we have a great new office and new staff and new furniture and not enough clients to pay for it:
“If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!”
Twelve words that can get you off your duff. Twelve words that can change a career. Change a life trajectory. Change a tendency. Change a weakness. LIttle words to remake the batter. Back to my Kindle: I’m reading my Kindle on my iPad and savouring little nuggets of delight from G. K. Chesterton and a quote of his tantalizes my soul and I think this little piece of gold needs to see the light of day, needs a larger audience. And I check my other quotes I’ve highlighted from Chesterton and other authors and I have quote after quotable quote that could certainly be a blessing to others as they have been to me. So I’m sharing a few of them with you.
So what Chesterton quote did I see that inspired this little journey?
“He who has never seen darkness has never seen the sun.”
This little quote summarizes my career, my faith journey, my life. Out of the darkness, the sun can shine. Out the mire, jewels are found. Out of the dust of the earth, man is formed. Out of the darkness heaven and earth are created. And now I share darkness and light with people who wonder if the sun will ever come up again. Eleven words from Chesterton that put everything in perspective.
I doubt every quote we will share here will be so full of meaning. Some will be funny. Some will be arresting. Some thoughtful. Some provoking. Some that may get your thoughts to meander. That would be good. Meandering thoughts. Just so the thoughts come home again.
I use this Model in marital therapy and in working with supervision of marital therapy cases and have decided to share it with our readers and podcast listeners. The purpose of the Model is to help couples assess how they are doing and to see where they need to put their emphases to improve the relationship. It also helps marital therapists and their clients assess where the couples’ strengths are and where to begin work in counseling.
You can access information about the Model in five different forms:
As A Podcast:
The Model is explained in an one hour introductory podcast available below.
As a Brief Narrative Online:
I’ve provided a brief explanation of the Model in today’s blog available here.
As a PDF Graphic:
The Graphic helps visualize the relationship between the concepts. The Graphic is available for download on our Thriving Couples Model page. Our thanks to my son, Marty Wall, for his development of the Graphic. See his other work at Fritzcartoons.com.
As a PDF Chart Contrasting Living As Roommates vs. Husbands and Wives:
The Chart lists the 6 levels of the Model from the point of view of Living as a Roommate and contrasts that with Living as Husbands and Wives. The difference is startling. Many couples divorce before ever even living as husbands and wives! How sad to divorce your roommate never even knowing what living as a husband or wife is! YIKES! Take a look at this chart! It is available on our Thriving Couples Model page.
As a PDF Narrative Explanation:
The PDF Narrative Explanation is the same text as is available in today’s blog. With the PDF, you can download it and have ready access to it on our Thriving Couples Model page.
If you are wanting to explore the Model in your marriage in more detail, give us a call. We’d be happy to help you work it through.
The style of this podcast is a bit different. I record the podcast on a walk in the early morning. You can hear the birds in the background and I’m talking like you and I are just chatting. It’s a lot more informal than the other podcasts to date.
One of the authors that had a huge impact upon me was Dr. Francis Schaeffer. I refer to him in this podcast. I read most of his books in the early 70’s. The ones that impacted me the most with their links are the following:
The God Who Is There
Genesis in Space and Time
And True Spirituality.
I refer also to the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible and Solomon’s statement that there is a time and a place for everything under the sun. Knowing when to talk about things and knowing when NOT to is wisdom. You can read the original passage here.
A book that helped me through my midlife “crisis” was The Season’s of a Man’s Life by Daniel Levinson. It was recommended to me by my counselor at the time. I ended up reading it twice. After reading it I realized I wasn’t crazy after all and I needed to be proactive about the rest of my life and how I used my time. I ended up preparing for a whole new career. This podcast tells a little of that journey.
Dave Ramsey is a financial guru and he encourages people to get out and stay out of debt, to live within their means and to save for an uncertain future. If I were to list my personal shortcomings, money management would be at the top of the list. He’s very upbeat and encouraging and I’ve learned a ton and been able to stay motivated to get our butts out of debt. My wife, Mary Sue and I would listen together on weekends sometimes and often on out-of-town trips. Dave Ramsey’s been a godsend to us and we’ve been able to absolutely turn our finances around and are on a positive track.
My oldest son, Marty, has reminded me my blogs have served the same service to my readers. He told me I need not fear to repeat myself. He said Dave Ramsey has certain themes and steps he emphasizes and I listen to his podcasts over and over for encouragement. Marty said my readers need encouragement in their marriages, and they come back again and again for a little pick-me-up along life’s tough journey. This led to my looking into the possibility of starting a podcast, similar to the spirit of the blog, to enable folk to listen while they drove or walked or worked out. A search on iTunes didn’t reveal any other marriage therapists that are doing weekly podcasts about marriage. Hmmmm.
I’m hoping to have 3 Major Themes:
1. Answering your questions about how to make your marriage all it can be. By readers of our blog and listeners of our podcast asking questions, it will help us cover the most common areas of concern. It’ll also be a way to keep things fresh. Marriage is a pretty broad topic. If we throw in dating and engagement, struggles with cohabitation, divorce, remarriage, step-families, kids, in-laws, careers, money, trust, commitment, communication, affection and sexuality, pornography and affairs, etc., etc., we could cover a lot of ground! Send us your questions and we’ll see where it goes!
2. Dating ideas. Actually, I’m adding this as a regular feature this summer on the blog, also (See last Friday’s blog). One of the first things to go when a young couple starts having children is the weekly date. This is also one of the major struggles of couples who have given their lives to their respective careers and to their children and put each other on hold. They wake up one day and realize they don’t even like each other, let alone have things in common. If a couple isn’t hanging out with each other on a regular basis and having fun, it’s easy to feel lonely and eventually resentful. In addition, may couples struggle with coming up with ideas of things to do that would be mutually invigorating, fun AND affordable. Many of you have figured this out. Why not share your ideas? I’ll share some of mine; you share some of yours. We all could use a little creativity here. Fill out the podcast form and send them our way. What has been a blessing to you may very well be a blessing to others.
3. Your success stories. We live in a society that absolutely has NO idea what perseverance and patience mean! If you are going to be married for 50-60 years you aren’t going to go through any tough times? Many couples divorce at the first sign of obstacles. The average divorce is after 7.2 years of marriage! 7.2? That’s it? What’s going on there? Couples are trying to make ends meet, finishing college or grad school, just starting out in their careers, learning a trade, getting to know each other, buying that first house and starting a family. Plus, if you are 30 or so, you are still pretty immature! Really. Come on, People! We have NO stictuativeness AT ALL. My wife and I have been married 35 years. You think we’ve never gone through any tough times? Are you kidding? Hello.
Tell us how you got through your tough times. Be an inspiration for others. Fill out the form on our podcast page and encourage the rest of us to rise to the occasion and not to let discouragement cause us to give up. We may also use the stories in future blogs.
Cost of the Podcasts: FREE! How can we do this? Our plan is be of service to our readers and listeners. Down the road, and hopefully in the not too distant future, we hope to start making available products about encouraging couples in their marriages that can be purchased. You could help us at that time by buying those. Of course, you can always call us or fill out the form (here) for an appointment!
So help us make the podcasts fun, encouraging and interesting by submitting your dating ideas, success stories or questions for Ask Dr. Bing (here).
To see the current list of available podcasts and to start listening to Ask Dr. Bing click here.
The podcast will address topics similar to the ones on his amescounselingcenter.com blog. We invite you to submit your couple success stories, your creative dating ideas and questions for Dr. Bing to address to firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the form on our podcast page.
This is all new to us, so we’ll need your patience as we try to figure this all out. Our appreciation goes out to Rob Kibbe, founder of The Musclecar Place.com. Rob is a friend of ours at our church and has figured out a way to make a living full time in his life passion of Muscle Cars. He’s served as consultant on this project in helping us figure out the ins and outs. We’ve appreciated his friendly and knowledgeable input.
We also are thankful to my son, Marty Wall, who has designed the layout of the podcast and added it to our website. Marty is a website designer and cartoonist in San Francisco and is the one who’s designed our current website and is in already planning the next update. Stay tuned to amescounselingcenter.com because Marty has some great things planned for us in the week’s ahead. Marty was the one who initially encouraged me to start our amescounselingcenter.com blog. He keeps me on the cutting edge. I’ve appreciated his ideas. He’s a whirlwind of imagination. Check out his limitless creativity at his cartoon website at rackafracka.com. He also has a website for cartoon enthusiasts at fritzcartoons.com.
The Ask Dr. Bing podcast will answer questions submitted by listeners of the podcast and readers of the amescounselingcenter.com blog about your marriage and relationships and issues around making your marriage all you’d hoped it would be. We invite you today to think of questions you’d like addressed and to send them on our way.
We’d also like to give our readers and listeners creative dating ideas they came up with as a couple and stories of you as a couple conquering obstacles
We hope to submit our podcast to iTunes so you can subscribe and download the podcasts and listen to them in your car or while on a walk or workout. I listen to Dave Ramsey’s podcasts to help me make better decisions about money and to Dan Miller’s podcasts to encouragement me as I grow my business. Our goal is to make our Ask Dr. Bing podcasts positive and upbeat to encourage and motivated you to make your marriage all it can be. There’s so much in our media that’s depressing and downhearted, particularly about marriage. We’d like to counter that trend.