The Tapestry Blog

  • The Fog

     

    Last night, my phone lit up with a weather alert for this morning.  Dense fog alert - visibility limited to 1 mile or less.

    How often we come into a similar season in our life where the future is hidden and we feel swamped and stuck in a fog.  We can barely see more than the next step, if that.  Our future is fogged by the heaviness of what-ifs.  What if the diagnosis is or isn’t true?  What if reconciliation or counseling don’t repair the relationship?  What if the prodigal never makes a turn toward home?  What if the never-ending-ness of the daily slogging ahead never lifts to joy in the journey?

    God has an app for that.

    “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).  We may not have a runway clearly-lit for take-offs and landings but trusting His word and Him as our instrumental guide, we can do both with peace and joy.


  • Rest

    So after running the Thanksgiving Half and experiencing a few lingering reminders of the day, I think I am hanging up my half-marathon hat.

    Today on a run I met up with a lovely couple who have a ministry for retiring greyhounds who have also run their last race.  The grace and mercy and warm welcome this couple gives to these brave doggie souls reminds me of the welcome we have available every day and then ultimately at the end of this earth’s race.

    “Well done, good and faithful servant,” God says to us then; not on the basis of our runs but on the basis of Jesus’ gift of his sacrificial life and death and resurrection.

    So from one retiring greyhound to another, let me say to you: “Go sit at the table where grace is not only said but served . . .”

    Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal.

    -Beverly Elliott


  • When Disaster Looms

     

    As a Disaster Relief Mental Health Volunteer with the American Red Cross, and a Certified Community Emergency Response Team Member for Cobb County, my training has informed me that a mass disaster has far reaching effects into the broader community, city and even the nation. The effects are devastating and echo their violent rippling effects for decades and longer.

    While the tragedies in Paris and San Bernandino have captured the attention of our nation, the recent tragedies of family violence and murder within our own community have rocked our neighborhoods and our families. And many are left asking, could something like this happen in my own family? Is there anything that I could do to better prevent or prepare for such a disaster?

    Mental illness, unforeseen and untreated, can create a mass disaster within one’s own home where safety and security are assumed. Tragedies in our own community occur when family members threaten to harm themselves or another and are frightfully too many to number. When unchecked, mental illness and substance can increase the risk for violence as it would appear has recently occurred within our own community. Whether before, during or after such a disaster, homes can become an isolated fear-driven battleground where families are torn apart rather than strengthened. Too often, fear, grief, guilt, unrelenting anxiety and depression run unchecked in families desperately needing immediate psychological first aid, support and rallying of other family members to bring back hope and start the process of healing.

    How can you know if a family member is undergoing an internal disaster?
    First, let me say that if you believe that someone within your family is in trouble, you must be careful to care for your self first. Don’t go it alone. Then, education yourself on the early signs that trouble is brewing. Educate your family about the realities of mental illness and how it, like any other illness, needs treatment for recovery and healing. Then, remove the shame, fear, and stigma from your concerns. 1 in 4 people have undergone a mental illness (Mentalhealth.gov) andit is likely you know someone who is struggling even now.

    Below are 14 early signs that a loved one may be undergoing a mental health struggle that requires intervention:(Mentalhealth.gov )
    • Eating or sleeping too much or too little
    • Pulling away from people and usual activities
    • Having low or no energy
    • Feeling numb or like nothing matters
    • Having unexplained aches and pains
    • Feeling helpless or hopeless
    • Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual
    • Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
    • Yelling or fighting with family and friends
    • Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
    • Having persistent thoughts and memories you can’t get out of your head
    • Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
    • Thinking of harming yourself or others
    • Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school

    Remember these 5 Tips to take care of yourself:

    1. Assure your own emotional, physical and spiritual safety and security. Know your safe shelter.

    2. Know your immediate life-sustaining needs and emotional resources and how to obtain them. Get your own treatment, guidance and spiritual support.

    3. God designed us to live in “community”, not isolation. Be assured it is important to know how to ask for HELP

    4. Have a psychological/emotional first aid kit on hand. This includes having caring and concerned others around who will listen with love and compassion. And who can refer you to the help you need to have your basic needs of support and safety being met. (Log on to www.redcross.org for more information.)

    5. Be educated, prepared, and pull in your church and community for support.

    Again, no one family or person can manage a global, national, local or family disaster alone. Recovery, rebuilding and restoration are often completely possible with the proper support and treatment. If you are concerned for someone’s immediate safety, be proactive, call 911, and/or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and have a safe shelter of your own.

    For information about Tapestry’s services for individuals, couples and families, log on to www.tapestryassociates.com.

    Dr. Russo conducts Families Recover Wellness Sessions to assist whole families dealing with the onset or aftermath of loved ones’ mental illness struggles. For more information, contact her at Deborah.Russo@tapestryassociates.com.


  • 10 Ideas for Dating Your Spouse

     

    How often do you break out of your normal routine and enjoy activities that are new and out of the ordinary with your spouse? Do it more often and it could be good for your marriage! Research conducted by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia has found that couples who enjoy regular date nights have stronger and happier marriages. This makes it less likely that couples will take each other – and their time together – for granted.  While there’s nothing wrong with the standard dinner and a movie, novelty and creativity are important components of memorable dates.  To help you plan your own, here are some ideas of things you might do on your next date night.

     

    1.  Head out on the water.  Rent a couple tubes (or rafts, canoes, or kayaks) and bring along a picnic basket for a romantic river float down the Chattahoochee.  Set aside a few hours to float and then enjoy a sunset picnic out on the water.  

    2.  Fine dining.  There are a lot of great restaurants right near the square.  Favorites of Tapestry counselors include, Taqueria Tsunami, La Famiglia, and The Butcher The Baker.  For dessert, you may want to stop in Sugar Cakes or Sara Jean’s for ice cream or head over to Cool Beans for a cup of in-house roasted coffee.

    3.  Check out the local music scene.  If you’re music lovers, you’ll enjoy the concerts in Glover Park (there’s still one more concert left this season!) or the bluegrass jam outside the Australian Bakery.  Also, several of the restaurants and pubs around the square feature live music on the weekends.  You may want to check out The Strand’s rooftop terrace, a popular spot to hear good music and enjoy the downtown view.

    4.  Go for a hike.  Lace up your boots and hit the trails up and around Kennesaw Mountain.  With miles of trails to choose from, you can hike a different section each time you visit.  Consider having a picnic here, too, and keep your eyes open for deer!  For a more leisurely option, take a romantic and relaxing stroll through the beautiful Smith Gilbert Gardens in Kennesaw.

    5.  Take in a show.  Whether you’re there for a play, musical, concert, or a classic movie, you’ll really enjoy the historic Strand Theatre. 

    6.  Visit a museum.  Take in the exhibitions at the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art.  You may even decide to take one of the art classes they offer.  Instead of art, you may be interested in spending some time at the Marietta Museum of History or the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History.

    7.  Play games.  Go out for a round of miniature golf (and kiss each hole-in-one).  You could also visit a driving range and split a bucket of balls.  Shoot hoops, toss a Frisbee, have a catch, go bowling, go climbing, whatever! Just have fun together.

    8.  Hop on your bikes and take off on the Cochran Shoals trail that runs along the Chattahoochee River or, for a longer ride, head out on the Silver Comet Trail.

     9.  Visit the Marietta Square Farmer's Market, open year round on Saturday mornings. Pick a recipe for lunch ahead of time, and shop for the ingredients together while taking in the sights and sounds. Go ahead and try something new, you never know what you might discover together!

    10. Wander through the antique shops around the Square. If you and your spouse are competitive, turn it into a scavenger hunt! Google "antique store scavenger hunt" and you'll see lots of options, free to print out and fill out together, or make it a race. Pick something small out as gift for each other as a keepsake from your day. 

    Whatever you choose to do, keep thinking outside the box and your marriage will reap the benefits for years to come. 

  • The Good Samaritan and the Better Samaritan (Who's Actually a Jew)

     

    When I think back to my early days of Sunday School, what I remember most vividly are the stories.  Each week biblical scenes came to life through flannel graph depictions and dramatic readings.  My favorites were always the ones with animals: Noah’s Ark, Daniel in the Lion’s Den, Jonah and the Whale.  But for some reason, Jesus’ story about the Good Samaritan has always impressed me.  Even as a young boy, there was something about it that was compelling.  It made sense to me; I knew it wasn’t right to ignore somebody who needed help and I wanted to be like the Good Samaritan—the hero!  Indeed, that was the lesson I heard as a boy: Be like the Good Samaritan.  Years later, I still want to be like the Good Samaritan.  And yet, when I read this story now as an adult and try to find myself within it, the Good Samaritan is not the character with whom I most identify.

    The entire account is found in Luke 10:25-37.  It begins with a conversation between Jesus and a lawyer, who asked what he must do to gain eternal life.  Jesus responded by quoting Scripture: Love God totally and love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.  But trying to be clever and “desiring to justify himself” (v. 29), the lawyer then asked Jesus to clarify who exactly his neighbors were.  Thus, Jesus responded with the following story:

    There was a Jewish man who was attacked by robbers and left for dead by the side of the Jericho road.  A priestwent by, saw the man, but crossed to the other side of the road just to avoid him.  Later, a Levite passed by andblatantly ignored the man as well.  But then, a Samaritan in the middle of long journey, saw the man and had compassion on him.  Unlike the priest and the Levite, the Samaritan went straight to the man.  He tended to the man’s wounds, binding them up and dressing them.  Then he lifted the man up and placed him on his own animal, for he was too injured to walk.  He took the man to an inn where he continued to care for him and then settled his bill with the innkeeper, promising to cover all of the man’s expenses.

    At this point, Jesus put a question to the lawyer, asking him which man was a neighbor to the one who was attacked and left for dead.  “The one who showed him mercy,” (v. 37a) the lawyer concluded.  To which Jesus simply replied, “You go, and do likewise” (v. 37b).

    As much as I wish I could say that I faithfully “Go and do likewise,” the truth is, I don’t.  I fail at this.  My love for God and neighbor is imperfect, inconsistent, and all too often swallowed up by my love of self.  Most days, I can identify more with the priest, Levite, or even the man beaten up and left for dead than the Good Samaritan.  I don’t feel like a hero.  And that, I think, is actually the point of this parable.  Neither the lawyer nor I can justify ourselves.  The only one who can justify us is the one who’s telling the story.  But I don’t think Jesus is just telling a story, I think he’s also inserted himself into it.  Remember that Jesus is sharing this parable just after he set off toward Jerusalem.  He’s on his way to the cross.  Veiled in this parable seems to be a picture of his entire redemptive work.

    Like the Good Samaritan, though he was different from us, Jesus came near to us.  Out of compassion for us, he saved our lives.  He bound up our wounds and raised us up.  At great cost to himself, he paid our debts and rescued us from enslavement.  Everything the Good Samaritan did, Jesus did better.  Jesus is the Better Samaritan (who’s actually a Jew).  And when I see that, I want to “Go, and do likewise,” not to be the hero, but to express gratitude to Jesus, the real hero of this story.

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