The Tapestry Blog

  • The Winds of Adversity

    "Do not fear the winds of adversity. Remember: a kite rises against the wind rather than with it."

    B.J. Marshall

     Adversity knows no boundaries.  It is no respecter of persons.  The rain falls on the just and the unjust alike.  When adversity comes, your response is the single best indicator of how you will come through it. 

     My hard drive crashed.  I lost a lot of data.  I spent the better part of two days getting my system operational again.  Business backed up and I felt the stress.  I remarked to my wife at the end of the day that there are many people in the world dealing with significant adversity – far greater than losing a hard drive – and I can’t imagine the level of stress and heartache they are experiencing.  I wondered out-loud how they do it.  They have health problems, death of loved ones, relationship challenges, political strife, war, famine, and the list goes on.  A friend of my wife’s recently suffered a miscarriage.  We did not see or hear from her for months – even though we made a multitude of attempts to contact her. My problems pale in comparison to the loss of life.  And yet, I can cop a bad attitude right quick.  And a bad attitude can drive your little kite straight into the ground – and depression can take root if you allow it to.

    I’m not suggesting that you live in denial with regard to circumstances.  Emotions are real and cannot often be denied.  In fact, it is not healthy to not experience a true emotional response to pain.  These tough emotions have to be experienced and processed in order to make sense of life.  But in the midst of the harsh realities of life, we have choices to make.  When the winds of adversity blow, there must be a foundation of belief that keeps your kite afloat and guides your choices.

    Application

    1. How do you typically respond to everyday adversities?  Like losing your car keys, losing a sale, your hard drive crashing, or a crash while driving?

    2. How have you responded to significant adversity in your life?  Do you have a tendency to deny or minimize the problems?  Do you tend to allow them to drive you in to a deep depression?  How can you maintain a balanced response to adversity?

    3. What does your belief system tell you about adversity?

    4.  How do you help those around you keep their kites flying high?

    5.  If you need to talk to someone about the trials in your life and your responses to them, please contact a counselor, a pastor, or a dear friend today.

    - Jeff Faulkner

  • Difficult Choices

    "Excellence is an art won by training and habitation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but rather we have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an act but a habit."- Aristotle

    It has been said that a good habit takes at least 28 days to establish. In contrast, bad habits seem to be natural and are established by default. As an example, if I desire to exercise daily and I don’t get up one morning in time to exercise I have made a choice to reinforce a bad habit. Excellence then, as the quote suggests, is the product of a lifestyle characterized by difficult choices. Unfortunately, the choices necessary to reinforce a good habit are never the easy ones to make.

    A significant factor in the arena of habits is that habits lend themselves to addictions. Most people think of addiction in terms of substance abuse or workaholism. But addictions take many forms – watching television, wasting time surfing the web, Facebooking, checking email, yelling at your children, being critical. You name it, we can become addicted to it. Many of our seemingly harmless addictions are performance and development killers. I remember when I realized the power of addictions one night when a championship football game was on television – I had been trying to establish a habit of getting to bed earlier, so that I could get out of bed earlier and exercise in the morning. But I simply did not want to miss the game. It was as if there would be a part of me missing if I didn’t stay up to watch it. The pull against the difficult decision to give up the game and go to bed was like an electromagnetic one. And it’s these kinds of habits or addictions that will kill your performance in every area of your life – growing in your career, being a loving and engaged father, being a great wife, getting involved in your friends lives, spending quality time with your Heavenly Father, etc., etc. So decide now to be one who will make the difficult choices. If you need help in addressing some issue, seek out help from a professional counselor, a trusted friend, your pastor. Maybe answering the following questions will help.

    Application

        1. Name one good habit that you have been trying to establish.

        2. What are the hindering bad habits that get in your way?

        3. Describe how these bad habits are self-limiting behaviors that hinder your performance.

        4. What are the consequences of the choices you make that reinforce your bad habits?

        5. What are the benefits you are losing out on by not making the difficult choices?

        6. Write an affirmative reminder that will help you overcome and establish this good habit.

        7. Once you have this one “licked”, try it on another habit.

    - Jeff Faulkner


  • In God We Trust

        Watching the Dow and daily economic news along with the Presidential campaign while anticipating the upcoming momentous election, I am tempted to get anxious. While running today the following story came to mind.
        It was Fall, twenty six years ago when our youngest was four. She and I were going on an adventure together to fly and see cousins in Cincinnati, and we were both very excited. I had even bought one of the “new” wheeled suitcases in honor of the occasion. The night before I had packed our bag and left it by the back door in anticipation of loading it into the back of the car, the next morning. In the morning I fed everybody breakfast and we said our goodbyes. The bag was no longer by the door and I assumed my sweet husband had already loaded it into the car. When we arrived at the airport, I discovered the bag was not there. (It turns out that my daughter, enthralled with the concept of a suitcase on wheels, had been rolling it around and had left it at the base of the back stairs.) At that point it was too late to call and ask my husband to bring it, so I made a decision. Being before the days of cell-phones, I didn’t know whether he had noticed the missing bag. I knew if he had discovered it, he would immediately try to bring it down and catch us. Otherwise, it could just go up on the next flight to Cincinnati. Worse case scenario, I would just have to drive back down to the airport to pick it up. With that in mind, and with one eye on the curb, I got into the line for curbside check-in. “We’ll just wait here and see if Prince Charming brings our suitcase before we get to the desk,” I told my daughter. When we got to the front of the line, you guessed it, up drove my husband. He jumped out and brought us the bag in perfect timing…We laughed for years at that story and my absolute confidence that my sweet husband would come to the rescue if he had spotted that bag.
        Are you standing in the lines of uncertainty, with what-ifs scenarios and backup plans running through your head? Your “Prince Charming”, (Rev.19:11-16), is standing at the ready and will absolutely come through in His perfect timing either to deliver you out of your situation or walk/dance you through it. He is near, and will never leave you nor forsake you, (Heb.13:5). For this reason you can trust him, and leave your anxiety at the door…( Phil.4:5-6).


    - Beverly Elliott
  • The Baby Wars - Part 1

    It is early in the morning and your body has stolen from you yet again. You just knew this was going to be the month. You were finally pregnant, the battle was over. But once again, you have been denied your dream and as you reach under the sink your anger begins to boil in your soul, the tears come again and you are not sure you will have the strength to get through this day….just like last month.

    This battle with your body is taking a toll on you, it is beginning to make you hate yourself and even ashamedly other women who “can breath and get pregnant”. Can you take this anymore? Maybe you should just give up, accept that there will be no baby. You think this thought again and again, you begin to shake, cry, and scream at the reflection in the mirror. Then the overwhelming fear of truly accepting that fact riddles you with an anxiety that seems to flood your very being and you vow to beat this, you will get pregnant. You will stand on your head, only eat organic foods, do yoga, whatever it takes but no matter what there WILL be a baby. The endless research, reading, questioning of others consumes your life.

    This war between you and your body is exhausting, emotionally, physically, and socially. It is one that cannot be won without the Holy Spirit living in you and guiding you. God’s plan is bigger than yours but speaking from experience, it is hard to remember that every time you see a pregnant woman or a new baby. You must focus on the task at hand, give over your desire, needs, wants and plan of attack to God. It will in the end make your relationship with Him, your self, and others stronger, healthier, and more connected. The new found closeness will help you as you fight other battles in the Baby Wars. The battles between you and your spouse, your friends, and your God, but you must remember these are just battles in the war that will be won. You will overcome and live a full, happy life and with God’s will and grace one full of a little one’s laughter.

    -Stace Huff

  • Hope

     On a warm summer night, after prayers and Bible story, four-year old Abby Jane and her parents tip-toed out of the sleepy-eyed two- year- old twins darkened room. Suddenly, Abby Jane spun around and exclaimed, “Santa’s coming tomorrow!” The news propelled Joy to her feet in delight while Blythe dissolved into tears and crumpled into a heap….It took five more visits to the room that night to disappoint Joy who had a 1000 excited questions, and reassure Blythe who kept crying out ”No Santa! No Santa!”

    How many times are our hopes without form or substance? Built upon “positive thinking”, “name it and claim it” prayers (as if God was some vender in the sky), or what ever the current philosophy or spiritual formula is, rationalizing our entitlement to our expectations of how we think our life should be. How many times does this road lead us to frustration, disappointment, anger or maybe even depression?

    In this uncertain world we do have one certain thing. “I know the plans I have for you “, says the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”(Jer. 29:11) Reality is that “Our hope is based on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” If you are looking for hope that is built on solid rock, not shifting sand (Matt.7:24), hope that doesn’t disappoint (Rom. 5:4) promises that are true, One that will never leave you nor forsake you (Jos.1:5), look no further. Jesus stands at the door to your life and knocks. He is truth. On that solid rock we stand, join his story for us, and dream dreams he has planted in our souls.

    He may or may not be coming tomorrow, :) but he promises to “never leave us nor forsake us”, and that “I am with you always even to the end of the world…


    -Beverly Elliott
  • The George Costanza Rule

    My father is a funny guy. He likes to be goofy and tease. I called him the other day and he answered the phone, “Hello Tonto. This is the Lone Ranger.” “Dad” I replied, “You know that you are the cause of my weirdness.” Because I enjoyed my Dad’s humor as a child and connected with him through it, it became a part of my life as well. And by the time I married my wife, I had mastered the Funny Arts and received an advanced degree in Sarcasm. While my wife has a good sense of humor and enjoys most of my humor, she is a literal-minded thinker and she has never really appreciated my sarcasm. She doesn’t get and she doesn’t like it. And, if I’m honest, I have to admit that it has always been a little disappointing that one of my favorite persons in the world couldn’t appreciate one of my most developed talents. Even my daughter, by eight years of age, had learned to recognize and laugh at my sarcasm (as a little girl, she called it “my lying voice”). As a young woman, she has come to recognize sarcasm as the sixth love language and I’m confident that she has included it as a trait that she hopes to find in a mate. Unfortunately for me, even the added social pressure of being “the odd man out” wasn’t enough to shift my wife’s feelings about this facet of my humor. So, last week when she asked me how she looked in a new dress and I sarcastically said, “I like the color, but it makes your butt look big”, I should not have been surprised when she became upset. In an effort to defend myself I asked, “Why, after 28 years together, do you still not realize that I would never literally say such a thing to you?” To which she effectively countered, “Why after 27 years of marriage (oops - did I say 28?) do you still not recognize that I don’t like it when you’re sarcastic!” Yikes! That’s honestly a very good question. Why would I keep doing the same thing expecting a different response? Isn’t that the definition of insanity? I’ve known this for over two decades and, yet, when presented with an opportunity to be sarcastic and get a laugh from her, I almost always take it. Even more embarrassing is the recognition that, in spite of directly witnessing several thousand failed attempts at sarcasm each year, on some level I still expect that she’s going to get it this time and laugh! I am a moron. I am George Costanza.

    If you are a Seinfeld fan, then you know George Costanza. George plays the role of the consummate loser. He consistently does the wrong thing and repeats the same mistakes. In one show, (www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKUvKE3bQlY) George has a flash of insight and decides that every decision that he has ever made has been wrong, and that his life is the exact opposite of what it should be. George tells this to Jerry who convinces him that, “If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right”. George then resolves to start doing the complete opposite of what he would do normally. The change is dramatic and he quickly goes from being the loser to being well-liked. He gains the affection of a gorgeous woman and gets a new job working for the Yankees. Eventually, he confesses to Jerry that the change is exhausting and goes back to being to his normal self.

    Like George (and me), we all have an intuition that informs our interactions with others. Though a part of our design, this intuition is housed in our humanity. It is informed by our past relational experience and organized around the goal of gaining security in our relationships; it alerts us to relational threats, as well as opportunities to deepen affection or closeness with others. However, because this emotional learning is anchored in specific relationships and experiences in our past, it is not always accurate and it does not always generalize to our current relationships. In fact, there are many situations where it is exactly wrong! Thus, those very funny actions that foster a father-son connection only frustrate a husband-wife connection.

    I sat with a couple recently where the husband’s primary complaint was that his wife over-reacted to little things. In defense of his conviction, he described witnessing intense conflict in his childhood home and articulated a resolve to do things differently within his own home. His conflict-riddled childhood home had sensitized him to negative emotion and taught him to intervene quickly, with a logical counterpoint and a calming tone. In subsequent conversations, his wife disclosed that she had not always been as vocal as she was in her current marriage. She was quiet as a young girl and, in her first marriage, she acquiesced to his preferences and plans. Unfortunately, in that first marriage she was mistreated and betrayed by a selfish man who exploited her quiet manner, discounted her needs and eventually betrayed her trust. Having been burned deeply in this relationship, her intuition alerted her to situations where her best interests might be overlooked and compelled her to express her “voice.” However, whenever she got emotionally charged with her current husband – energized to represent her needs, desires and opinions - her husband intuitively (and predictably) responded with reason and alternate perspectives, minimizing her emotional intensity and striving to calm her down. Unfortunately, his efforts to protect the marriage only frustrated his wife and provoked her fears. Feeling unheard and at risk for being discounted by him, her intuition predictably compelled her to escalate her intensity which, as you can imagine, further triggered her husband to calm the situation down. And round and round the mulberry bush they ran! The very intuition which might have served them well in past relationships, caused them substantial grief in their marriage.

    Enter the “The George Costanza Rule”: in certain instances, your intuition is exactly wrong and it may well be best to do the opposite of what you feel inclined to do. For this husband, it meant learning to get emotionally involved with his wife - learning to not only tolerate her emotion, but to understand her, feel with her and affirm her; to believe that she was as committed to developing a harmonious relationship as he was. For her it meant learning to express her needs in a direct, but calm manner, trusting that her husband was looking out for her and desiring to know her needs and perspectives. The responses of this couple, though grounded in their unique pasts, are not uncommon. In many marriages, men intuitively withdraw and avoid their wives in those moments where their wives most need them to engage, understand and get involved. In a complimentary manner, many women intuitively become critical or demanding at those times when their husbands need them to be patient and affirming. Where in your marriage do you tend to most consistently do the wrong thing? Where might you need to apply “The George Costanza Rule”? 

    -Jeff Pipe

  • Olympic Parenting

     In watching the Olympics I have so enjoyed seeing the parent interviews and their reactions in the stands as they watch their stellar children’s performances. Their faces reflect the whole gambit of emotions, from excitement and anticipation to agony and pain then back to joy and elation.

    It brought back to mind Derek Raymond’s performance in the 1992 Olympics where he was favored to medal in the men’s 400 meter sprint. At 150 meters into the race, he unexpectedly collapsed in a heap on the track with what was later discovered to be a torn hamstring. The race was over. Nevertheless, picking himself back up, he determined to finish it for himself and began hobbling his way down the track. Suddenly his father, having pushed aside security guards, made his way onto the track, and came alongside his son. Putting his arms around Derek and supporting him, they made it the rest of the way… together.

    What a picture of our roles as parents. We are to equip, nourish, and nurture our children, giving them dreams to dream of what possibilities God has in store. We are to share their joys and sorrows. But more than that, we are to come alongside, sharing their burdens, lifting them up and encouraging them.

    When life’s sometimes crushing disappointments and disasters come crashing down, we also have One who is not just a distant observer or critic, maybe cheering us on from afar, but One who comes down alongside us, raises us up and carries us across the finish line.

    When we offer the same to our children… it is gold.

    -Beverly Elliott

  • My Other Wife Is A Harley

    My Other Wife is a Harley

    There was a period of several years – early in my marriage – where things were very difficult. It seemed that there was always tension in the relationship and I felt like nothing was ever enough to please my wife.  I didn’t understand why she wasn’t happy because I thought that I was a pretty good husband.  I was a nice guy who generally got along with people.  I was reasonably sensitive and a lot of fun.  I mean, c’mon, I’d written my senior thesis in college on “Family Ministry In The Church” - I knew how to be a good husband.  Nevertheless, my wife still seemed unhappy and her anger was never far away.  It seemed to me that she complained a lot and always wanted something more from me.  I could only conclude that this was her problem.  If she would just lighten up and listen to me, she’d be a lot happier and our marriage would be a lot better.  In my frustration, I started pulling away from her – distancing myself from an unpleasant situation for which I believed that I was not responsible.  Like the guy driving the old beat-up pick-up truck who wants to make sure that others know that his truck is not a reflection of his true investment, there were moments when I wanted to slap a bumper sticker on my wife’s rear end; maybe one that read:  “My Other Wife Is A Harley”.

    Feeling unappreciated at home, I directed my energy toward my job and my recreational outlets.  Life wasn’t all that I’d hoped for, but I was rocking along okay.  Then, around the sixth year of our marriage, a thought – hanging on eight painful words - popped into my head:  “You’re doing more to her than for her.”  I don’t know where those words – that thought – came from.  But once it was there, I couldn’t get it out of my mind.  It haunted me for months before I seriously tried to understand it or act on it.  During this same period of time, I was studying the book of Ephesians and when I got to chapter 5, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I was confronted with the call for a husband to love his wife as Christ loved the church.  I’d read the passage a dozen times before, but this time it penetrated my heart.  And as the picture painted in Ephesians 5 came into focus for me, I was terrified.  Could I say that I had given my life for this woman?  Dedicated each day to her growth and betterment?  Was she, as a result of my work in her life,  “radiant”, “blameless” or “without blemish”?  And what if I was, literally, asked to present my wife to Christ as he will present His bride, the church, to Himself?  I would be mortified.  A quick audit of how I used my resources - my time, my money and my passion – was damning; I’d clearly invested more of myself in my ministry and my hobbies than in my wife.  That moment of exposure felt like a nightmare coming true: the one where you suddenly realize it’s the end of the semester and somehow you never attended any classes!?  You stagger into the classroom dazed and confused, realizing that in the rush you forgot to put your pants on.  And as you become aware of what’s occurring in the classroom you see that the professor is handing out the final exam! That was the feeling; that was the nightmare - except this time there was no waking up.  It was real.

    By the grace of my God and my wife, I began moving out of the nightmare.  A little counseling and a little honest reflection made it clear that I wasn’t quite the husband that I’d thought myself to be.  Awash in my own self-serving and self-protective way of relating, I’d invested my heart and energy into those things that made me feel good about myself.  I now see that I had, in fact, done more to my wife than for her. I started investing more of myself – my time, my passion, my money - in her and in our marriage.  Although this new investment cost me something, the return quickly equaled – and then exceeded - my investment.  Twenty years later, we share a passion and sweetness in our marriage that I could never have anticipated.  As a marriage therapist, I now find myself asking men the same questions which I had to face.  Have you disinvested yourself from your wife and marriage? …pulled away? …taken on a passive stance?  …invested your time and energy into something that provides a more immediate and predictable return?  If so, I would challenge you to invest as much of yourself into understanding and bettering your wife as you have invested into your career, your hobbies… your Harley.  If you genuinely do, I can almost promise that you will be surprised by what you get back in return.

    -Jeff Pipe

  • About Tapestry's new look.

    Welcome to our new site. You may notice that we've updated a lot of things. We have an updated look, a new slogan, a new website, and new videos about our practice and about each of our counselors. As Tapestry has grown and matured, we've always sought to uphold our core values, including professional excellence. This means that each experience you have with us should be as clear, enjoyable, and informative as possible. And, like our office environment, we've worked hard to make our web environment enjoyable and approachable.

  • Safety

    Last Summer I was reminded why tubing behind a ski boat is for people much younger than myself. After watching my friend Phil throw a couple of young guys off of a tube tethered behind his boat, I told him that I was ready for a ride. As I climbed out of the boat and onto the tube I was overcome by what I must now assume was some form of brief psychosis; temporarily separated from any cognitive awareness of my age, strength and weight at the time, I taunted the power of Phil’s boat and questioned his ability to dismount me from the tube.

    Sixty seconds later, with whitened knuckles clenched to a pair of canvas straps and my heart struggling to circulate blood to gelatinized muscles, my insanity remitted and I became aware of my imminent death. The water that had looked so soft and inviting earlier, now felt like concrete as my feet – flailing behind the tube – skipped across it’s surface. Struggling to retain some appearance of masculine adequacy before the family and friends watching me, I forced my face into a smile as I contemplated whether my impending mutilation would require a closed casket. Each skip of the accelerating tube dislodged exhilaration and replaced it with terror. With the boat exceeding 100 mph (I was later told it was only 15mph but I know better), I decided that the most honorable thing to do would be to release the tube volitionally and, thus, relieve Phil of the guilt he would most certainly feel for killing me himself. After a brief skim across the water, my terror came to an end as the water that threatened me only seconds earlier, now enclosed me in its soft warmth. Upright, conscious and still possessing all limbs, I was successfully able to stop crying before the boat circled back around to pick me up.

    Safety in a marriage – a sense that your spouse is invested in your well-being - is fragile. When you have it, you can risk things once feared and explore terrain previously avoided. When you lose it, even simple daily interactions feel tentative, uncomfortable and frightening. Blaming, name-calling, non-verbal expressions of contempt, criticism, defensiveness and even silence can quickly compromise a sense of safety in a marriage. And if you don’t have safety in your marriage, you don’t have anything. Without safety, establishing any meaningful communication, agreement or intimacy is impossible. Research indicates that once your spouse feels unsafe – and their heart-rate rises above 90 bpm – they are no longer capable of accurately hearing or interpreting what you are saying to them. Rather - if they “hear” anything - it is not what you’re saying, but what they expect to hear you say (which is typically not good news!). You can tell when it happens… their face hardens or they shut down… and on some level you recognize that they are no longer hearing what you have to say. Unfortunately, such a reaction probably triggers your anger and – if you are like most couples – this quickly escalates into what feels like the same old fight yet again. Without safety, even simple conversations deteriorate into destructive and hurtful interactions.

    What have you done to help your spouse feel safe with you recently? In Psalm 32 David says of our God, “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” If this is true, then even during difficult times in your marriage your safety is insured – and you, in turn, can offer safety to your spouse. If you have not recently made an intentional effort to offer your spouse safety, let me encourage you to do so with the following.

    • Express a commitment to take criticism and contemptuous actions or words out of your marriage
    • Once a day – for the next three days - affirm one positive character trait you genuinely respect in your spouse
    • Once a day for the next 10 days, express appreciation for something – big or small - which your spouse does for you and/or your family
    • Remind your spouse that you are committed to them and that you will not leave them
    • The next time you get into a disagreement with your spouse, set your agenda aside and strive to understand and affirm their position on the matter; the benefit of surrendering your agenda for the sake of understanding your spouse will usually far outweigh the loss of any individual debate or decision
    • Ask your spouse to tell you about things which you do that leave them feeling more or less safe/secure in the relationship
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