Tuesday, December 27, 2011


This time of year is usually reserved for reflections or goal setting and you may wonder how this topic fits in with either of them. Well, I have been thinking about this for 16 or more years, so that makes it a reflection, and I will get to the goal setting at the end of the blog.

In May of 1994, when I was 6 months pregnant with my youngest child, my 68-year-old mother had a debilitating stroke. I spent the next 3 months juggling my time between my family, which included my husband and 3 sons, and my parents, while at the same time dealing with the latter stages of my pregnancy. My mother was hospitalized for almost 2 months, and when she came home she was a mere shell of the woman that we had known before. Our daughter, Megan, was born in August and she was a much-needed blessing for all of us. As we dealt with the reality that a full recovery was not going to happen for my mother, the sweetness, cuteness and innocence of an infant was a breath of fresh air in an often otherwise gloomy atmosphere.

It was at this time, that I began to hear a lot about the Sandwich Generation and I realized that I was indeed one of them. The Sandwich Generation is described as "those caring for their children as well as their own aging parents." Fortunately my dad was fairly healthy so was able to help my mother, but I spent a lot of time with them, supporting them however I could, both emotionally and physically. I remember vividly going shopping and on one side of me holding my hand was my mother, and on the other side of me holding my hand was Megan. I was truly the middle of the sandwich.

I am not complaining about being the middle of the sandwich. Truthfully, I think I am a better person because of it. It taught me love and compassion and opened my eyes to the many people who are suffering around me, especially the elderly. Even though it was extremely hard to watch my mother struggle to do the simplest things, I realized that I had the opportunity to make her life more enjoyable by spending time with her, encouraging her and loving her. A side benefit was the relationship that developed between Megan and my mother as they also spent time together. I grieved because I felt like Megan never got a chance to know her "real" grandma but eventually I realized it didn't matter. Megan loved her for who she was and my mother benefited as well because Megan did not expect her to do things that she couldn't but just accepted her the way she was.

My mother died in 2006, my children grew up, and I no longer have daily child and elder care responsibilities. However, often my life is still one big juggling act. I am a wife, grandmother, mother, mother-in-law, daughter, daughter-in-law, secretary, Sunday School teacher, Bible quiz coach, and the list could go on. Sometimes, it feels like I am being squeezed in the middle of a sandwich again.

As I have thought about this over the years, I realized that Jesus lived in the Sandwich Generation. Was he sometimes pulled between his heavenly home and his earthly home? Because he came as a "middleman" I am saved from spending eternity in hopeless damnation. I suggest that we no longer look at being "sandwiched" as a negative thing, but view it as a positive thing. We are the "meat" in the middle of a sandwich and this gives us so many opportunities to be a blessing to those who surround us.

So, as I bid farewell to 2011 and greet 2012, I do indeed have a goal for the New Year. I resolve to find ways to encourage and enrich the lives of those who are the "bread" of my sandwich.

~Mary Lehman

Monday, December 19, 2011

Two Main Tools from God's Toolbox

Walking through life in this world can sometimes be very difficult, especially if we either choose to "go it alone" or we feel cut off or far away from our heavenly Father. This distance can be from unhealed hurts we carry within, or from our own waywardness and independence which hasn't yet been fully surrendered to Jesus. God wants to heal us from all our hurts, and He wants to guide us back to a strong and positive loving relationship with Him.

We know this is true because the Scriptures tell us that Jesus died for our sins, by actually becoming sin in the Father's sight, while He endured the agony of separation for all of us on His cross at Calvary. The Bible also says that Jesus bore our "griefs and sorrows" - the damage done to us by the sinfulness of people in our lives, that has caused hurt and destruction in our attitudes and behaviors toward ourselves and others, even effecting our relationship with God.

God will bring us close to Him by covering all of those sins, turning us to His ways, and healing those hurts. He also gives us many tools or ways to reach out to Him and for Him to reach back into our lives and hearts. We are called to grow and learn of these ways and use these tools to help us come closer to Him as well.

Fasting and Prayer are two incredible ways our Lord Jesus has modeled for us in His life as a human person here on the earth. He has given them to us as tools to enter more fully into the Presence of God through His Holy Spirit.

He has given us these particular tools for many reasons. When we are fasting and praying, we are surrendering ourselves to the Lord. We are laying down:
  1. the many distractions of our minds, which are filled with futile thinking;
  2. strongholds that raise themselves up against the knowledge of God;
  3. the deceitfulness of our hearts, which harbor unfaithfulness and faithlessness;
  4. our wayward wills, which are constantly seeking self-fulfillment in all the wrong places.
God's love covers the multitude of our transgressions. It also provides for us His way of escape out of these traps that ensnare us and hold us back from Jesus and from the full freedom of His Spirit!

As we learn and grow to be more like Jesus through this consistant surrender, it actually causes real changes in who we are and the way we operate. It enables us to receive greater grace in the fullness of the Holy Spirit and to see more of His will and His ways. We begin to see the true nature of who we are becoming in our thoughts, feelings, and actions, and we more fully recognize His workings in the world around us and in the people He has sent us to live among and serve. Through loving Jesus, we will in time, love those around us  more than ourselves.

Death to self is then engulfed by the greater life Jesus offers to us, as we are compelled by increasing faith to become more like Him. We become less connected and less tempted or controlled by our sinful natures or by others that are still part of the world system and under the darkness of ignorance or outright rebellion. This entrance into eternal and resurrection life is not something waiting for us after our physical deaths, but is happening right now within us and around us. Fasting and Praying opens our eyes, minds, and hearts to the spiritual reality of what God is actually doing!

Fasting and Prayer are only two of the many ways that the Lord has given us to remain on the right path and to find Him daily. It allows us to be with Him and in Him constantly as we set ourselves to draw near to Him.

~Neil Uniacke, MC
Executive Director

Monday, December 12, 2011

It's the Most Wonderful, er...Stressful Time of the Year!

It's that time of year for family get-togethers with lots of food, gift-exchanges and other festivities. We're busy decorating and baking and shopping. There are special church services and school plays and community programs to attend. In other words, it's the most not-so-wonderful-but-actually-quite-stressful time of the year.

In addition to the general stress, the Christmas season is often a difficult time for many folks. Some of my clients struggle with heightened depression and anxiety. Loneliness is exacerbated for those who've lost loved ones or experienced a divorce or geographically moved during the year. Financial stress creates conflict in marriages. And there's pressure...pressure to be happy and wish strangers a "Merry Christmas" when a person actually feels like snapping in irritation or crying in despair.

If you're stressed or discouraged, may I make a few suggestions for how to navigate the holiday?

1. Take time to sit, rest and breathe. I find the loveliest and calming things to do after a crazy day is to sit in our living room with just the lights of the tree, sipping a cup of tea and cuddling under a blanket with my husband while the dogs lay at our feet. Sometimes we play Christmas music, sometimes we just talk, but it's soothing to take a break and remember to not just get ready for Christmas, but actually "take it in."

2. Say "no" to non-essentials. If you're invited to attend or do more than you can possibly do in the time you have available, than cut out those things that aren't necessary. I'll let you in on a secret...I decided several years ago that Christmas cards don't need to be sent every year...I send mine out every other year. And believe it or not, some people don't send them at all. Not every party or program or service needs to be attended.

3. Choose your own priorites. Several years ago, there was a bad snow storm on Christmas day and my husband and I stayed home for the first time in our marriage. It was a restful and lovely time for us. We read, watched movies, made homemade soup and celebrated quietly just the two of us. Ever since then, we're not afraid to decide how we want to enjoy our day. Sometimes going to a family or church event is our priority, but we have also chosen to stay home and replicate our "snow storm Christmas." Take time to choose your own priorities and boundaries.

4. Look for ways to get "centered." When we prioritize well, a person feels less chaotic and more stable. What we choose to do with our time around the holidays (or any time) creates balance or imbalance. I encourage my clients to structure routines that "center" them. A weekly worship service to praise our Lord, a morning quiet time, an evening stroll around the block...all these activities build stability. At Christmas, centering may come through family traditions or by developing one that incorporates the true reason for the season. Look to put something sacred into the holiday. Read the Christmas story, attend a candlelight vigil, take the kids Christmas caroling to your elderly neighbors and as you do so take time to ponder the blessing of Christ come to Earth.

My hope is that your Christmas is full of His light and life. Merry Christmas!

~Shannon Shertzer, MS, NCC

Monday, December 5, 2011

JESUS: Ultimately Our Only Hope

If anyone has ever felt truly hopeless, they know what a horrible feeling it is, and an awful place to be. I have found myself in that place at various points in my own personal journey. Each time, my heart and mind was overwhelmed by a gnawing hopelessness within me.

It was not that everything in my life suddenly got worse, but that I had allowed the burdens of worry and weariness to overtake my thoughts and feelings to the point that I did not care whether I lived or died. I would never purposely do harm to myself, but I had a sense that it just didn't make any difference if I existed or not.

To move below the basic human instinct to survive and give up on life is the saddest place to go, and one of the worst to stay in for any length of time. It usually happens through negative circumstances and/or negative perceptions seeming to pile on top of us, with our hopes being crushed as we realize that there seems to be nothing to hold onto or worth living for.

We find ourselves attempting to place our trust in various people or things that just don't live up to our expectations, and when they fail us we are thrown more deeply into despair. We begin to negatively identify ourselves as the problem, or to shift blame onto everyone and everything else.

Some of this is actually the result of forces way beyond our control, but some is because of decisions we have made for ourselves personally or in the way we have connected with others in dysfunctional patterns, and finally, some of this is just because we live in a fallen world that is not able to sustain our needs and desires in the ways we had hoped it would.

The last point is actually the steppingstone toward moving from hopelessness to true hopefulness. We must realize that every time we place our trust in someone or something in this world, we risk losing hope! It would be a very amazing thing for anyone to trust the things of this world and never be disappointed. For most of us, this has proved impossible.

When we have hit our heads enough against the brick wall of trusting, failure, and hopelessness, we finally come into the realization or revelation that there ultimately is only one Hope in this world: Jesus, our Hope of Glory, who desires to meet us wherever we find ourselves when we have no hope left, and then to become the Hope we can learn to know, and receive to grow within us.

When all else has failed, we are ready to really trust in a way that we do not naturally allow ourselves as long as there is just one more other thing to hold onto, whether a relationship, a job, some money in the bank, or whatever we choose to fill in that great big empty blank space within every one of us. Jesus is always here with us and for us, but we have to clear out the other distractions and really focus on Him as our only Hope able to carry us through the tough times in this life.

The toughest time of all is as we approach the end of our time here on the earth. This is when we are forced to see the stark reality that everything else around us is not able to sustain us, but feels as if it is shutting down and we are fading away. We see in this time that as the Bible tells us, "naked came I into this world and naked will I go." It is this time especially that we are freely invited with every difficulty within us and around us to put our hearts fully on eternity where our endless, boundless, infinite Hope, Jesus, awaits us in all His Glory!

Neil Uniacke, MC
Executive Director

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving Season

The Thanksgiving  season was especially meaningful in our home this year. My husband was in a serious accident in September and has been recovering since that time from a head injury. While I have always been thankful for my family, this year I was again reminded of how special my family is to me. My husband and I were also thankful for the support and love that we were shown during this time in our life. Most of all, we are thankful that we know that God is walking through this season with us and He knows all that has happened and all that will happen.
A head injury can often result in both physical and emotional injuries. As a result of his accident, my husband is now going to counseling to help overcome some of these difficulties. We researched the best place for him to go for counseling, and found a group that comes from a Christian perspective and deals with neurological trauma. The process is often slow but I believe that the final outcome will be so worthwhile.
God's love has truly amazed me during this season of our lives. As difficult as this had been to go through, I knew that I could rest in the loving arms of God and He would carry me through when it became too difficult for me. I am giving Him the glory for this season of our lives and I am so thankful to God for walking with me.

~Deb Riddell
Thrift Store Manager

Monday, November 21, 2011


As we look forward to Thanksgiving with all of the trimmings, let us be mindful of ALL of the things God has given us to be thankful for. We often get caught up in a mindset of what we don't have or what we could have or what we want that we forget to give thanks for the things we do have. So often we "wish" our life away wanting things that in retrospect have no real meaning nor do they make us truly happy. Jesus reminds us of this in Matthew 6:25-34.

Do not be worried about the food and drink you need to stay alive, or about clothes for your body. After all, isn't life worth more than food ? And isn't the body worth more than clothes?...So do not worry about tomorrow; it will have enough worries of its own. There is no need to add to the troubles each day brings. ~ Good News for Modern Man

Perhaps instead of dwelling on our own wants, we should look at how we can be an encouragement to others. Look at your neighbor. Perhaps what has happened to you in your life this year doesn't sound as bad when you hear what has happened to your neighbor. Or, do you even know anything about your neighbor? I remember as a child our house was where all the neighborhood kids hung out...it is so sad that I don't see that happening as much any more.

Make it a priority this Thanksgiving to talk with a neighbor or friend who is struggling. God will show you how to be an encouragement to them and in turn you will find that you have many, many things in your life to be thankful for.

Have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

Elaine Campbell, MA

Monday, November 14, 2011

Give Thanks

This morning I was preparing a group activity for children that I work with in school. As Thanksgiving is fast approaching, I decided to focus the lesson on gratitude. I think we all can benefit from a reminder to be thankful and grateful.

So many times, there is so  much complaining going on. Complaining is the opposite of being thankful and Numbers 11:1 tells us "Now when the people complained, it displeased the Lord; for the Lord heard it, and His anger was aroused. So the fire of the Lord burned among them, and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp."

Instead the Word instructs us to be thankful. When should we be thankful? According to Hebrews 13:15, we should "...continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name." Why should we give thanks? Several scriptures point to the answer to this quesetion:

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. ~ Psalm 107:1

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. ~ I Corinthians 15:57

Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. ~2 Corinthians 2:14

Having a thankful heart helps to bring down strongholds in our lives, like depression, bitterness, and hatred. As I mentioned in the activity that I prepared for the children, gratitude makes a great attitude!

In closing, Let us mediate on 1 Thessalonians 5:18 which says: "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

~Ann Gantt, Ph.D., LCSW (New Hope Counselor)

Monday, November 7, 2011


I've been thinking lately about the power of words. You may remember that little rhyme we used to say as kids: "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." We'd say that to someone who had just said something mean or hurtful to us to let them know that, say what they will, their words will have no effect on us. Really? Is that true? As I have reflected over that childhood verse, I realize actually the opposite is true. The sticks and stones that hit us did hurt us, maybe even broke a bone. However, those wounds have healed and we've moved on. But the hurtful words that were spoken to us, even in jest, often leave wounds that still bleed.

One client told me of his experience growing up at home with his father. My client was the second of two sons, and apparently his father wanted a girl when my client was born, rather than another boy.  This father told his son one day when he was very angry: "I wish you were dead. I always wanted a daughter anyway." That wound still bleeds for my client; he struggles with depression, low self-esteem, abandonment, and anger.

On the other hand, that father could have said to his son: "Son, I am so thankful for you. You are such a blessing from God. I remember the day you were born, and when they told me I have another son, I was thrilled!" What power would those words have in my client's life?

If you're a parent, bless your children through your words. I recall, in the Bible, the story of Jacob and Esau. They were in competition for their father Isaac's blessing, and one day, after his brother, Jacob, had tricked his father into blessing him instead of Esau, Esau cried out: "Bless me too, my father!" That is the cry of every child as they grow up in our homes. They long to be blessed by us as their parents. And we can also bless our marriage partners by affirming them through our words: "I'm so thankful God brought you into my life," or, "Thanks for all the little things you do to make my life great!"

Can you imagine how Christ's disciples felt when he called them his "friends"? That must have been a great blessing to them. I challenge us to bless our children and our spouses with words that strengthen and encourage!

Tom Horst, MA
Marriage and Family Therapist

Monday, October 31, 2011

Thanks for Having Me!

My thoughts and feelings as I have entered into the New Hope Community Life Ministry family are completely infused with gratefulness, first to the Lord for His faithfulness and then to each one of you, the churches, the board, the counselors, staff, volunteers, and supporters. My thanks is for the warmth and obvious love that you have welcomed me with. This can be chalked up to the shared character of Christ that has been worked into each one of you, and to God's favor in opening this door of service for me to join you in the adventure of putting legs to our faith, by loving others in real and lasting ways!

Though I am a "newbie" around here, it has been a long time coming: almost 40 years! From my first ride into this area down May Post Office Road seeking the elusive Robert Fulton birthplace, I loved the bucolic nature of our farms, fields, and forests, enjoying the ride while not finding the house at all. My wife, Katy, had an amazing journey to this area, from New York City and an encounter with David Wilkerson's mother, who told her to find a Bible believing church, and so spent a summer on a farm on Noble Road with a local pastor's family. By the time we had found each other, the concept of moving to the southern end was already percolating in our minds. Encounters with Conowingo, Muddy Run, Black Rock, and the Birth Care Center reinforced this desire - I have a vivid memory of standing in front of Maplehofe and looking up at Solanco High School on the hill, saying to myself that my children would be going there someday (Katy was pregnant with our oldest daughter, Sarah, who is 31 now!).

From that time it took until 1993 for us to move into our cabin in the woods on Robert Fulton Highway in Wakefield, just down from his birthplace, and from there to watch our children, Sarah, Adam, Jesse, and Leah grow and graduate and go into all the world, following their own life adventures. A big part of that process, while I was still pastoring in Chester County and Katy was working with Birthcare, and both of us with Sight and Sound for various productions, has been our involvement in Wakefield Ambulance Association, as an officer and supervisor. From this springboard into the EMS and volunteer organization world, Katy has developed into a primary EMT instructor and coordinator for Harrisburg Area Community College, with an annual class right here in the southern end. I have become part of the Lancaster County Critical Incident Stress Management Team helping throughout the county with traumatized first responders. The other big part of our journey has been to fall in love with folks we meet on our daily ambulance trips throughout our district from the river hills to the farms to the towns to the newer neighborhoods. Our heart for them has grown as we have settled into Living Stones Fellowship church in Wakefield, while partnering with other churches to bless our community!

Now the Lord has opened this door at New Hope for further service to those in the churches and those not yet! My greatest blessing is to know that I can only do this one day at a time yoked together with Jesus and with each of you. By His Word and through His Holy Spirit, we can go forward in faith and love, building on the incredible foundation He and the master architects who He has used to found and to foster New Hope Community Life Ministry have laid with Jesus as the Chief Cornerstone. May we build together with the gold, silver, and precious gems of our spirits, hearts, minds, and all our strengths in loving God and our neighbors!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Meet in the Middle

We all relate to people in one way or another. It could be husband and wife, parent and child, boss and employee, friend and friend, or any numerous types of relationships. One thing is certain; any time you have extended interaction with other people, there WILL be times when you do not agree. How you handle this, can make or break the relationship.

I am not a big fan of country music, but since I have a 17-year-old daughter who listens to it a lot, I hear more of it than I would sometimes like to. The other day, I heard the song "Meet in the Middle" by Diamond Rio. Obviously, like most country music songs, this was a guy-meet-girl love song, but I think the message can extend to any type of relationship. I know there are issues (moral, religious, etc.) where there should not be give and take; however, in instances where it is just a matter of preference or opinion, maybe we could give a little like the lyrics of this song suggest. We may be pleasantly surprised how this improves a relationship.

I'd start walking your way
You'd start walking mine
We'd meet in the middle
'Neath that old Georgia pine
We'd gain a lot of ground
'Cause we'd both give a little
And there ain't no road too long
When you meet in the middle

~Mary Lehman

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Friendship Counseling

Many of us have friends and family members who confide in us when they are struggling with personal or relational issues. A lot of us intuitively know what to say in those situations. But some of us feel unsure how to help our loved ones through their suffering.

Suffering itself is a topic that leaves many of us scratching our heads. We wonder why certain people experience overwhelming crisis and loss. You may have heard the stories of people who lost children or spouses, then lost their jobs or developed cancer. Why do some people get bombarded with trial after trial?

I remember hearing Billy Graham asking the "Why" question. You can probably hear his distinctive voice asking, "Why do people suffer? Why does God allow pain?" And I remember his answer...I remember because I really wanted to know the answer...it was sort of an edge-of-your-seat moment for me. I personally needed to know why I was suffering. But our nation's pastor (as he's sometimes called) disappointed me; instead of saying something insightful, he said, "I don't know. I don't know why you are suffering right now..." However, he went on to say something very profound, "...but I do know God is here for you. And He understands your suffering."

About forty of us have been meeting on Monday evenings at our six-week Friendship Counseling Seminar to learn about how to help others with their particular struggles and sufferings. And though we may not know why our loved ones suffer, we're learning how to offer them hope. We're learning "suffering without hope leads to despair. But suffering with hope leads to redemption. Only  God can take a mess and make it a message."

And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope. Hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom He has given us. ~ Romans 5:2b-5

Shannon Shertzer, MS, NCC

Monday, October 10, 2011


As the foliage around us changes color and the farmers are harvesting their crops I am reminded of how the ant gets her food ready in the summer and stores it up for the winter. The ant has no authority over it to tell it what to do yet it goes about its business to make provisions for later on.

Go to the ant...Observe her ways and be wise, which, having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer And gathers her provision in the harvest. Proverbs 6:6-8 NASB

Are we putting up provisions for our winter as the ant does or do we need someone with authority to remind us to do so? How often do we put things off until tomorrow and when tomorrow comes it still does not get done? If we deal this way with our own life how do we help others learn to "put up provisions" for their winter?

As we sow our seeds in the spring we expect to harvest a crop in the fall and so it should be in every aspect of our life. We never know who we are witnesses to by our words or actions. We may never know in this lifetime whose lives we have touched by sowing our seeds of love and kindness but one day perhaps our loved ones will learn of how we made a difference in someone's life.

Have you sown seeds today or are you waiting for someone to remind you?

Elaine Campbell, MA

Monday, October 3, 2011

"Mind Games"

When I think of the "mind game" that has wreaked the most havoc on  my own life, I think of worry. Worry can lead to all sorts of health problems such as migraines, back pain and gastro-intestinal issues. On top of that, it can affect our relationships. For example, I would get pretty angry with my husband when he would get home late from work. I worried that he was in an accident. And when I blew things out of proportion, we ended up in a not-so-healthy disagreement. Worry can become irrational. We can imagine catastrophes that will rarely, if ever, occur.

There's good reasons why Jesus said, "Do not worry about your life" (Matthew 6:25). Worry hurts us. If we worry about all the details of life (money, success, our body image, etc.), we will be concentrating on things He never said to focus on in the first place. Instead, we are to "seek first His righteousness, and all these things will be given unto (us)." (Matthew 6:33).

I've been trying to focus on the "right things," not those things that hurt, discourage or worry me. Below is a brief Bible Study that may help you in your particular mind game whether it be worry or some other unhealthy thinking pattern.

To Win the Battle for Your Mind
  1. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind--Romans 12:2. In other words, change your thought patterns by filling your mind with God's Word (Read Colossians 3:15-16).
  2. Prepare your mind for action--I Peter 1:13. In other words, rather than imagining untrue things that do not occur (worry or fantasy), actively direct your thoughts externally to reality (Read Philippians 4:8).
  3. Take every thought captive, making it obedient to Christ--2 Corinthians 10:5. In other words, choose the truth over and over until it becomes your normal pattern of thinking (Read Ephesians 4:22-24).
  4. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything...pray!--Philippians 4:6. In other words, take everything to God. Worry and fear accomplish nothing (Read 1 Peter 5:7).
  5. Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy...think on these things--Philippians 4:8,9. In other words, assume your responsibility to choose the truth (Read Colossians 3:1-2).
  6. Set your minds on what the Spirit desires--Romans 8:5-6. In other words, recognize your God talking to you and obey Him (Read Hebrews 4:12-13 & Galations 5:25).
Shannon Shertzer, MS, NCC

Monday, September 26, 2011

Give Thanks

I Thessalonians 5:18 says: "In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning  you." I was reminded of this scripture this past weekend. I was planning to attend an outdoor event with family members on Saturday. Friday was a rainy, dreary day. It was uncertain whether Saturday's plans would work out. When I woke up on Saturday, it was clear outside. We went on to the event and had a great time. It was sunny and warm. I was sure to give thanks to the Lord many, many times throughout the day. It really made my day when I was told that the children "had a blast." Thank you Lord!

Ann Gantt, PhD, MSW. LCSW

Monday, September 19, 2011

Feeling Needed

One of the things that older people often state about their lives is that they no longer feel useful to anyone. My 84-year-old father struggles with this. He lives next door to me and if I am home I will visit him in the evening and watch Jeopardy with him. We will usually talk about the day and the activities that we did. My day is normally very busy and his is quite the opposite. Some days he will have done nothing except stay at home and watch TV and listen to music and read. The days get long and he has no one to talk to and no where to go. There is no one who really needs him. I know that my 1/2 hour visits with him are often the highlight of his day and I try to encourage him, however, words just can't compensate for the real deal sometimes.

On Saturday, I was mowing my yard for the first time since Tropical Storm Lee. We have a creek that runs through our property and it was still quite wet and muddy. I intended to stay away from it, but I misjudged and before I knew it I was stuck in mud halfway up my tires. There was no way I was going to get out of this mess myself. I was in despair because no one was home to help me and I had barely gotten started mowing my huge yard.

My dad has trouble walking but he still mows yard and he often uses his lawnmower as a means of transportation to get from his house to mine. I wondered if he could possibly help me out of my predicament. "I'll be right there," he said when I called him. I waited, doubtfully, yet hopefully. He soon arrived on his lawnmower with a chain in tow that he kept stored in his garage. Keeping his lawnmower clear of the mud we hooked one end of the chain to his mower and the other end to mine. He began to pull forward and miraculously my lawnmower followed and was soon safe on solid ground. I was so happy and grateful. As I thanked him profusely he said, "You have no idea how good it feels to be useful. This just made my day and possibly my week."

Everyone needs to feel useful, and it is especially important for older people as they struggle with difficulties that come with aging. Now, I don't recommend that you go get a lawnmower stuck so they can help you out, but I encourage you to watch for things that an elderly person could do for you. You will be blessed and so will they.

~ Mary Lehman

Monday, September 12, 2011


I've been thinking about a distorted view of sexuality which we call pornography. Pornography refers to the portrayal of explicit or graphic material for the purpose of sexual arousal or erotic stimulation. In days gone by the usual way to access pornography was to go to a store where pornographic magazines and videos were sold. One ran the risk of being seen going into the adult store which for some acted as a deterrent. However, with the advent of the internet, the accessability and affordability of pornography has increased the ease with which one can acquire all types of porn, not to mention the anonymity of access. Wireless internet and cellular phones allow a person to view porn in the privacy of his or her own home or  car.

One recent study found that 20% of Christian women and 50% of Christian men struggle with using pornographic materials. In most of these cases, the use of porn leads to sexual addiction. Experts say that addiction to pornography increases the supply of serotonin, the "feel-good" chemical in the brain, which is why sexual addiction is so captivating and hard to break. Sexual addiction is also like other addictions in that there is usually escalation in the use of pornography and other graphic sexual materials in order to achieve the desired "high" one receives. This is why sexual addicts often cross over from the virtual reality of porn to actual physical sexual contact which can lead sex addicts to become involved in criminal activity to satisfy their addiction.

Addiction to pornography is a dangerous trap which can imperil one's marriage. Partners feel betrayed when they discover their spouse has been viewing images of anonymous persons in various sexual poses. If you are trapped in pornography or any type of sexual addiction, there is hope. However, you will not conquer this addiction on your own; you will need counseling and a small group of friends (same gender) to help you with accountability so that you can overcome your addiction.

There is emotional and spiritual healing available in Christ, who said, "The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. I have come that people may have life and have it to the fullest extent."

Tom Horst, Marriage and Family Therapist

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Community Closet

The ministry of New Hope is helped financially by the proceeds of The Community Closet Thrift Store. One of the reasons the store is able to give so generously to the ministry is because the store is mainly staffed by volunteers. The 40 plus volunteers work hard the days that they volunteer. However, they also laugh, have fun and make friends while they are at the Community Closet.

I was touched recently by the love that the volunteers showed to one of their own. A volunteer had some health problems and missed several weeks of donating her time. When she returned to the store, everyone knew she was still not feeling completely well. However, she wanted to help out and be around other people, instead of just being at home. I saw the other volunteers took care of her and protected her in small ways. Among other things, they helped her get her lunch and gently encouraged her to go home when they saw that she was physically too tired to work any longer.

The volunteer needed to be at the store. Being around friends helped her lonliness and made her feel like she was of value. I see this over and over with our volunteers. They are giving, but also receiving at the same time. What a wonderful cycle.

We are always in need of more volunteers. We would love to have you on our team. Stop in at the store or give us a call to see how you can become part of the wonderful team at The Community Closet Thrift Store.

Deb Riddell - Community Closet Manager

Monday, August 29, 2011


As I sat down to write this blog today, my mind went blank. I didn't know what I should write about. I felt so limited in the amount of wisdom or insight I could give to whoever happened to read this latest entry. Some days are like that. We feel word-less. We don't know what to say. As a counselor, I feel powerless and incompetent when that happens.

I'm supposed to be wise and capable. Able to ask the right question in the right timing and with great perception. Most days I'm pretty good at this, but not every day. Some days, I am advice-less. It's not that I'm temporarily stupid, just...not sharp. And when that happens, I have a choice to make. Do I allow myself to sit in my lack of astuteness and wallow in a "woe-is-me" mindset of uselessness or do I choose a better path?

The better path of being available. Whether I have the right words to write or say is not the only thing that helps others. Important, yes, but not all. I have found some of the most meaningful and healing sessions have been when there was little said. But I was present and with my clients in the middle of their pain. Those quiet moments are sacred and rich.

I am reminded of Psalm 85:10-13: "Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest. Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps."

I'm thankful that God can use anyone (even those of us with limited vocabularies) to minister His love, righteousness and peace.

Isaiah 31:17 says, "The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever."

~Shannon Shertzer, MS, NCC

Monday, August 22, 2011


While working in my garden the other day I started to think about the seasons. When we were younger time seemed to stand still and we couldn't wait until we were older. I remember my mother telling me to stop wishing my life away because the years would start to go by faster as I got older. Guess what...my mom was RIGHT! The seasons just seem to fly by the older I get.

In the winter time we start thinking about what we will plant in our gardens for the coming year. Spring time comes and we start to plant as the trees are budding and the flowers are starting to blossom. Summer comes and as we weed our gardens we see our crops growing and start to harvest some of our bounty throughout the summer, while some of our crops wait until autumn to harvest.

You know working in my garden shouldn't be any different than any other day in my life! I should always be pulling out the weeds and sowing seed of God's love to others and maybe just maybe I might get to see those seedlings blossom!

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 KJV

Elaine Campbell, MA

Monday, August 15, 2011

Our Thoughts

Our thoughts play a key role in our behavior toward ourselves and others. Proverbs 23:7 says "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he." So we can see that the fiber of our being is made up in large part by our thoughts.

Faulty and negative thinking sows seeds that result in unhealthy attitudes and ultimately unhealthy behaviors. This faulty thinking is commonly referred to as "stinkin' thinkin'" in twelve-step programs. By replacing these faulty and negative thoughts, we are following the Word's instructions to "...be[not] conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:2).

How can we change our thoughts? The answer lies in the instructions that are given to us in Phillipians 4:8:

"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things."

Ann L. Gantt, Ph.D., LCSW (counselor)

Monday, August 8, 2011


I've been counseling a young lady who lives in a foster situation. She's experienced a lot of pain and suffering during her short life. She didn't have a carefree and protected childhood. She's had to grow up too soon. Fortunately, she's one of those resilient individuals who are able to find hope and light in difficult and dark circumstances. She's also a deep thinker and creative. She shared with me this poem, which she wrote in darker days:

What Happened?

We used to love each other
We used to be so close
I used to call you mother
But something changed

Your heart so loving
Changed one day
All your love for me
Suddenly went away

We used to laugh and play
We never used to fight
All our sunny days turned
Into a dark stormy night

I don't know what happened
We used to love each other
I hope this storm passes
I really need my mother

When my client read this poem to me, I was deeply impacted. I wondered why this lovely young woman suffered.

I question God often as I sit and listen to the hurting folks who come through our doors. Questions like: "Why did Grace get raped?" "Why did Emily's husband leave her?" "Why would Beth's parents treat her so abominably?" And, "Why did you allow that, God?" Sometimes God answers me. His Spirit gently whispers, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways."

Laura Story is a singer/songwriter who wrote the song below. When my "whys" become too weighty for me, I find this song and remember God's grace.


We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering.

All the while You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things.

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You're near?

What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel you near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough.

And all the while You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe.

When friends betray us, when darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It's not our home.

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst
This world can't satisfy?

And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise?

songwriters: story, laura mixon
Copywright: new spring publishing

You can find the audio at: http://www.youtube.com/

Shannon Shertzer, MS, NCC

Monday, August 1, 2011


Summer usually means vacation. Not only do children get a break from school but also adults often take a one or two week vacation from their jobs during the summer months. I guess I am no different than most people, as the 3rd week of July, my husband and I enjoyed a few days in the beautiful hills of Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. We played a lot of golf, did some sightseeing, walking, talking, and reading. We ate when we felt like it, and basically did what we wanted and didn't do anything that we didn't feel like doing. This is called refreshment, right? And we all deserve it, right?

One of the things that I noticed during our sightseeing was how dry everything was. The grass was brown and hard, but it was the corn that struck me the most. It was small and spindly and its leaves were pointed straight up. It was as though they had their arms outstretched to God and were pleading for water. I couldn't help but parallel this with my thirst for God. Do I have my arms outstretched and open for him to pour down his love on me? All of us feel like we deserve a vacation from our jobs and maybe we do. However, I want to realize that God is always there for me and all I need to do is reach up my arms to Him and He will pour down refreshment on me.

The day we came home it rained. I couldn't help but think that God saw the corn's distress and answered its pleading. If this is how God refreshes the corn, which is here today and harvested in the fall, will he not refresh me more?

Mary Lehman

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I've been doing some thinking about communication. Someone may say, "I don't like to communicate." Ebenezer Scrooge was heard to say in A Christmas Carol: "I wish to be left alone." Maybe you feel that way too. The fact is, however, one cannot not communicate. We are communicating all the time: by words, by body language, by silence (ever hear of the "silent treatment"?), and we also communicate by touch.

As I counsel couples, individuals and families, I hear a lot about communication: "We don't communicate," or "We never learned to communicate about our feelings," or "I shut down rather than talk about my thoughts, dreams, fears." A lot of our communication patterns are learned in our family of origin. Maybe the only way your parents communicated with each other was by yelling, or perhaps when there was anger expressed, it was followed by hours, maybe even days, of silence. Or maybe the only time your father or mother talked to you directly was to criticize, rather than affirm you, so you never learned to give compliments or affirmations to your spouse and children. These patterns are picked up in childhood years and carried into our adult lives.

Here's a few principles of healthy communication:
  • Healthy communication is the freedom to express your wants and needs without demanding.
  • Healthy communication focuses on understanding others before attempting to "fix" them.
  • Healthy communication is not reactive but responsive.
  • Healthy communication involves developing reflective listening skills.
  • Healthy communication in the midst of conflict involves talking it out rather than "taking it out" through verbal or physical violence or passive aggressive behavior.
  • Healthy communication seeks to initiate talking when hurt instead of emotional distancing.
Finally, a verse from the Bible about commuication: "Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will become more and more in every way like Jesus Christ..." (Ephesians 4:15)

Tom Horst, Marriage and Family Therapist

Friday, July 15, 2011


Recently, a client and I were talking about how God redeems the years the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25). She had struggled in deep depression for several years. Sadness and pain consumed her life. She was the mother of four children and found herself incapable of caring for them. She was dependent on her extended family to do the most basic chores. She felt ashamed that she couldn't function normally. Doctors prescribed drug after drug. Nothing seemed to work and she lived in a medicated stupor for too long.

Those sad years were formative for her family. Her children struggled through adolescence without the nurturing hand of their mother to guide them. She watched with no ability to help as they tried to navigate value and life decisions. With no energy and a foggy mind, she wallowed in shame and discouragement. Now, even though she lives from a hope-filled place, my client still struggles with guilt that she wasn't capable of mothering her boys. She feels a heavy burden that she is responsible for the past depression and the resulting struggles of her sons. Their relationships have been strained.

Yet, there is hope. My client's husband was a rock for her as they all suffered through her illness. Last winter, as she began to experience hope, she and her husband had what she described as a "healing conversation." As she poured out her shame and sorrow for not being there for him and the children, she exclaimed, "I'm so sorry." To which he quickly and matter-of-factly replied, "You're forgiven." No questions. No hesitation. He had no problem forgiving his wife. His love had been strong throughout her illness and that love is strong as she heals.

A beautiful benefit of this experience of forgiveness was that my client saw displayed in a human relationship what God has done for her spiritually. "I have no problems now believing God's forgiveness," she explained. And after years of feeling ashamed and guilt-filled, that is something to celebrate.

Shannon Shertzer, MS, NCC

Monday, July 11, 2011


Have you ever asked yourself where your hope resides? Do we fall into the many pitfalls of putting our hope into another human being, an object, or do we put our hope and trust in God? During a difficult time in our lives where do we find hope? During a recent devotion, I was reminded that through our tribulations we become determined to persevere, to build our character, and ultimately to find hope.

Romans 5:1-5 speaks of hope and the steps to get to hope: "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." (NASB)

So many times we simply forget who is carrying us through our trials and tribulations and cry out to God wondering where He is. Once we have gotten through the trial and are able to reflect, we see that God didn't forget us or leave us but had simply carried us through; for without Him we have no hope for our future.

So where is your hope?

Elaine Campbell, MA

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Plant Your Garden

In this season when many of us are involved in gardening, I am sharing this poem. It is a reminder about our spiritual gardening as well.

Plant Your Garden Today ~ Author Unknown

First, plant three rows of peas.

Next, plant three rows of squash.
Squash gossip.
Squash indifference.
Squash criticism.

Then, four rows of lettuce.
Let us obey the Lord.
Let us be loyal.
Let us be true to our obligations.
Let us be unselfish.

Finish with four rows of turnips.
Turn up when needed.
Turn up with a smile.
Turn up with a vision.
Turn up with determination.

~Ann Gantt, Ph.D. MSW, LCSW (counselor)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thoughts on Our Thinking

While texting with a client recently, we "talked" about how our thoughts effect our actions. She had been struggling with negative thoughts about herself. Believing that she was stupid, ugly and without hope had led her down some unhealthy paths. She had acted on those false beliefs and thus,  negatively impacted her most important relationships.

Philippians 4:8 speaks to what we should think on. "Finally, brother, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." (NIV)

I wonder how we would be impacted if we actually put those commands into practice. How would it effect our relationships if instead of thinking false things, we thought true things? How would our talk be changed if we thought on noble things instead of crass things? How would we treat others if we thought of right things instead of wrong things? Pure things instead of impure things? Lovely things insted of ugly things? Admirable things instead of dishonorable things? Excellent and praiseworthy things instead of poor and unworthy things?

Changing your negative thoughts to "God-thoughts" is a huge first step to changing bad habits and unhealthy relationship patterns. What will you decide to think on today?

Shannon Shertzer, MS, NCC

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Sometimes it seems like I blink and another season has rolled around. Summer is here and all the heat, humidity, vacations, outdoor activities, and fun that comes with it. I love the changes of the seasons and the diversity that each one brings. Our lives change also--sometimes the changes are anticipated and looked forward to and other times we reluctantly accept them. However, no matter where we are in our lives,  God is constant and we can rejoice in the fact that though everything and everyone around us changes, God does not. As I personally am experiencing some reluctant changes in my life right now, this is a wonderful promise to me.
"Great is Thy Faithfulness"
Great is Thy faithfulness, oh God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.

~ Mary Lehman

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Rewards and Family Fun

Strengthening Families Program 10-14 gives two additional tips for effective parenting:

4. Give a reward.

When a child demonstrates good behavior, especially when it is in a new area of his life, reward him with a special privilege and one-on-one time with a parent. If he has been treating his sibling much better this week than last, take him out for a walk to the corner store for an ice cream.

5. Plan time for family fun.

Family memories are made when you do special things with the kids, whether roasting hot dogs in the back yard or hiking in a park by a stream. The good feelings they experience are part of their history, which can keep them strong during difficulties. Let your child help you with making plans for trips, picking what activities you might do.

In addition to strengthening your relationship with your child, your demonstration of love to your child helps her to knowand appreciate God's love in a fuller way.

"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" Matthew 7:11.

~ Ginger Holler

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Notice Good Behavior in Your Kids!!

A third tool for effective parenting according to Strengthening Families Program 10-14 is:
Notice good behavior.

It is SO easy to see all the ways our kids need "gentle correction," whether it is coming inside with muddy shoes, or leaving their book bag on the kitchen table, or squabbling with their sibling.

But do you notice the good things they do? Are you glad they played outside and got some exercise (instead of just sitting in front of the TV or computer)? Do you compliment them for being faithful to do their homework without your even asking?

When you praise your child, make it specific. Tell him or her, "Thanks for mowing the lawn. You did a very careful job even around the bushes and trees. I noticed you even put the mower back into the shed! Thanks so much." You may even give a special unexpected reward such as, "Here's money to ride your bike to the corner market for an ice cream." Better yet, take them there and enjoy one together!

As they say, "You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar." Lasting positive change is the result of positive reinforcement all along.

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen" (Ephesians 4:29).

Friday, May 13, 2011

Preteen and Teen Development

A second tool in the Strengthening Families Program is to understand preteen and teen development.

Life seemed quite predictable when my son and two daughters were in grade school. Sure there were squabbles, and they had to be pushed to do homework or chores. But you basically knew how they might behave in most situations.

Then came the preteen years! Each one went through many changes, physically, emotionally, socially, even spiritually. They each became more independent and even challenged authority in their own way. It is NORMAL for kids this age to want to be more independent and want to spend more time with their friends. Most want to spend more time by themselves, too, which can make a parent even feel forgotten or ignored or snubbed.

Kids may talk back to you and be "smart alecks." They need to know that THIS is not appropriate behavior; they may need consequences to help reinforce this.

BUT it is NORMAL for pre-teens and teens to act their age. Because that in fact is what they are!!

"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man (or woman), I put childish ways behind me" (1 Corinthians 13:11). This verse is at the end of the famous "love chapter." Paul says that of faith, hope, and love, LOVE is the greatest of all.

Lord, help me to LOVE my children where they are, even during the hard times, just the way you love me all the time. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Am I really listening?

We just finished a seven week session of Strengthening Families Program 10-14, in which young teens and their parents learn tools to make their relationships stronger and healthier. The first tool the parents learn in the class is:

Listen for the feelings.

When my child comes to me with a problem, do I immediately ask 20 questions? Or do I try to fix it for them? Or maybe I even get angry! Maybe all she wants is to be heard, to be loved. Maybe she wants to know that I understand.

Perhaps her best friend ignored her today, or even said something mean to her. I might say, "Sounds like you might be sad." Or maybe, "That must have made you feel very sad and lonely." She might even agree and say, "Yes, I was scared Susie won't be my friend anymore."

When we hear people's feelings, they feel accepted and cared for. After all, we really can't fix their problems. But we can be there for them. This will empower them to go on, to make their own decisions and feel secure.

And at the right time, we can share with them that Jesus always understands and cares. "Cast all your anxiety upon him, because He always cares for you!" (1 Peter 5:7)

~Ginger Holler

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Little Things

     All of us go through times where we feel completely overwhelmed and discouraged.  Things just aren't going right. It may be relationships, finances, busyness, or any number of things that creep into your life that you feel you just can't handle.  Sometimes it feels like when one thing goes wrong then everything goes wrong.
     I have noticed that when I feel down, it is often the little things that can pick me up.  Last week was a good example of this.  I was feeling overwhelmed with things that needed done and people who needed my attention.  My aging father was complaining of chest pains, finances were tight, my housework was not getting done and the lawn needed mowed.  On top of all this the lawn mower was broken so the hope of getting it mowed in the near future was slim. 
     I decided to start with one small thing.  I swept my kitchen floor.  It made me feel SOO much better. From there I cleaned the bathroom and my mood brightened considerably.  I walked outside and  peeping out from the unkept flower beds were bright red tulips.  Suddenly I felt like weeding a little bit.  I pulled away the weeds and soon more flowers appeared.  Amazingly, my world didn't seem so bad any more.
     I think sometimes we believe something big has to happen to improve our situation and outlook on life. However, I am amazed how something small--like a flower, or a kind word--can make a huge difference in the way we perceive things.  Look for something small today that you can do or say to cheer you or a friend. After all, if God takes care of the lilies of the field and the sparrows, (Matt. 6:28) He will surely take care of you and I. ~ Mary
P.S. I am happy to say that the lawn mower is now fixed and my lawn is mowed!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


The pitcher wound up and threw another pitch.  Her shoulders slumped as the batter jumped on it and slammed it over the center fielder's head. I was watching my daughter's softball game and it had been a rough inning.  The other team suddenly seemed to be able to hit everything our pitcher threw at them. Our team and fans grew silent as we watched yet another run cross the plate. The coach called time.  He and the entire infield gathered at the pitcher's mound.  He talked to them for a little and then everyone resumed their positions. 
Suddenly, out of the stillness the catcher yelled, "You got this Katelyn! You are doing great!" The other infielders came to life and started pumping their gloves and yelling encouragement to the pitcher.  All of a sudden the outfielders picked up on it and called in words of encouragement from their positions. Katelyn wound up and whizzed a strike across the plate.  The fans cheered and Katelyn's teammates continued to tell her how great she was doing. Katelyn's shoulders straightened and she threw another strike.  On the next pitch, the batter hit a weak ground ball to first base.  After a few more pitches, we were suddenly out of the inning and the team came running off the field, patting Katelyn on the back and telling her what a good job she was doing.
I thought about this as I drove home from the game.  No, we did not win but the way the team came together and encouraged not only Katelyn but each other was heartwarming.  If only life could be that way.  How many times have we not bothered to give those words of encouragement that could have made someone's day. Do you remember when someone encouraged you and it made you hold your head higher?  Everyone needs encouragement and there is way too little of it being handed out.  I think sometimes we are just too busy and don't feel like taking time to write a note or an email of encouragment to someone who could really use it.  I am making a commitment to try to do or say something each day that will be an encouragement to someone.  How about you? ~ Mary

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Creative Therapy ~ Shannon Shertzer, MS, NCC

I love when my clients get creative with their therapy...creative in how they express their healing. I've had clients draw pictures, write poetry or stories; others have brought in a song that touched them deeply. I'm a bona fide crier myself, so when a client expresses themselves vulnerably, we've been known to get teary together. Tears are very healthy, in my opinion. I'm glad Scripture tells us to "rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep." That gives me permission to connect with my clients on an emotional level.
A few weeks ago, a client I've counseled for 3 years was both creative and vulnerable. She pulled out three photos of herself as a little girl, then she pulled out a little metal box...inside were her razors. These razors had been used to slice through her lovely skin on numerous occasions. Cutting has been one of my client's favored modes of coping. She's been caught up in its addictive cycle for too long. In recent weeks, we've had some particularly difficult sessions related to her self-mutilation.
As we looked at each of her "little girl" pictures, she told me how they reminded her of her sweet little niece and how she couldn't imagine taking a razor to that little girl. She said she was beginning to understand that when she cut she was not helping herself, but hurting the "little girl" inside of her. My client cried a little, which was a huge step for her. To her, tears are "illegal." She passionately said, "I don't know how to do it, but I know these [the razors] have to go!
After we talked things through, we prayed for the client to have the grace and strength to get rid of her "tools of destruction." Then we walked outside and chucked those razors into the dumpster. When I heard that metal ping against metal, my heart rejoiced. My client renounced those destructive tools and willingly proclaimed that she would use "tools for life" on her body.
We still have work to do. There may be days ahead of temptation and a desire to return to old habits. But we have a date and a time with which we can war against those temptations and desires. I have no doubt as she continues to creatively and vulnerably heal, God will be glorified and honored.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What, me stressed???

Sometimes I allow myself to feel like everything is just too much for me to handle--my life, job, family, and future. The problem is, the more I think about my problems, going over things again and again in my head, the more overwhelming it can seem. I have learned several ways to manage the stress in my life better:
1. Connect with others. It helps me a lot when I can talk over a cup of coffee, where I am able to share my feelings and help clear my mind of confusion so that I can see things more clearly. Things are usually not as bad as I first imagined!
2. Go outside and walk. Exercising outside in the sunshine brings me home sweaty but happy. Other exercise might work for you...
3. Eat nutritious food. This fuels my mind as well as my body, especially if I cut down on the sugar.
4. Do something for myself every day. I can read a novel, take a walk, dance or sing to music while making dinner, or call a close friend.
5. Be thankful. CHOOSE to count my blessings!!
6. Learn to live one day at a time.
These last two ways remind me of Philippians 4:4-7. "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!...Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
When I get the focus OFF of me and ONTO the Lord, my perspective is less skewed, and I no longer have to "be in control!" After all, I really am not. I just have to recognize this. Again :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Ahhhh.  At last Spring is almost here.  It is so refreshing to walk out the door and not be met with a blast of icy cold air. Spring always makes me think of new beginnings and hope.  Just the other day, I was so blessed to witness this in a new way.  A couple that had been coming for several months for counseling left our office hand in hand and then just stood out in the parking lot talking to each other.  It almost brought tears to my eyes as I remembered when they first came to New Hope they sat silently in the waiting room and I could feel the tension between them.  God is at work here at New Hope and all around us.  Let's take time today to thank Him for the changing of the seasons and for the assurance He gives us of new life in Him. ~ Mary

Friday, March 4, 2011


Thanks for coming to our brand new website! Please feel free to call or email me with any suggestions or questions--this is a work in progress. We want to know that we are communicating our mission of embracing hope, transforming lives.

We are gearing up for our second session of Strengthening Families Program 10-14, which will take place at Solanco High School Tuesday evenings March 22-May 3, 2011, from 5:00 - 8:00 pm. This is a very fun and helpful program for kids ages 10-14 and their families.

Some comments from parents:
I learned a good system for rewards and consequences...that my son is normal...How to take a differnet approach with my discipline, taking a more calm approach...that all families go through similar stresses.

Some comments from the kids:
I learned how to handle stress and peer pressure...it's important to be organized as a family...more about my parents...that having good friends is important.

If you know of anyone who might benefit from this free seven week program, please have them call us to register. ~ Ginger