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Do you know what makes you happy? Do you know what makes your spouse happy? My husband and I attended a couples seminar yesterday, sponsored by our church. The speaker was a man named Mark Gungor.  The title of the seminar was “Laugh Your Way” to a Better Marriage and he was hilarious. My husband and I have been intentional about attending couple’s seminars whenever we can, because it keeps our relationship fresh. It is like hitting the reset button in our marriage. It is a reminder to do the things we need to do, to make our marriage happy, and not do the things that make it unhappy. Mark reminded us that if we are living a life that gives us purpose and meaning, we will be happy.  It is also important for us to know what makes our spouse happy. If we do not, we cannot be supportive of what their dreams are.  By knowing our spouse’s dreams, it gives us insight on why they do the things they do.  It may not make sense to us, but it does to them.  I always say, “Knowledge is Power” and the more we know about our spouse, the more we understand what makes them happy. Do you know what makes your spouse happy? Mark Gungor, has a “Flag Page” on his web site, www.flagpage.com, that allows you to see what you are good at and what words you need to hear from your spouse that will make you happy. There are 56 positive traits that you can choose from, that most describe who you are. It was fun to do and it was accurate on describing me. If you would like to check out Mark Gungor’s Flag Page and discover what makes you happy in your life and also your spouse’s, go to www.flagpage.com.  It will be a lot of fun. Do it together. Vickie Parker,...

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Married with children? The secrets to keeping a merry marriage (WITI) — Are you married with children? It can be a challenge to keep the romance alive once a couple has kids. But, it isn’t impossible. Child development expert Jessica Lahner joins Real Milwaukee to talk about the keys to keeping a merry marriage....

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I just finished reading “Grace Intervention” by Bill Giovannetti.  I recommend it to anyone that is struggling with a relationship with God and believing His love for us is unconditional. He loved us so much that He went to “Calvary” to purchase us. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13 NIV. God’s grace is incredible and I still struggle believing it, but  ‘Grace Intervention ‘ made it more clear to me. I was raised in a legalistic environment, where I thought God had all these rules I had to follow and if I did not, he would reject me. I could never measure up and it sucked the life and joy out of me. My relationship with God was based on fear, not love. Now I know different.  I have been set free from the bondage of performance, because God is not interested in my performance.  He loves me because of who I am, not for what I do. I cannot earn God’s love.  It is not connected to my performance.  It is a gift of unconditional love. God desires a relationship with us. He wants us to know Him as He knows us. If you have read any of my previous blogs, you know I lost my brother from pancreatic cancer in July. He had a relationship with God and it was demonstrated by the way he died. He never questioned his suffering and dying.  He knew where he was going and that gave him peace. That is what believing and accepting God’s love and grace can do. I want to live this year with a better understanding of who God is and follow Him from gratitude for what He did for me and the price He paid on Calvary to purchase me. He desires to give me life in abundance if I will embrace his love and grace. I hope you will join me in this journey of knowing God more fully. Read “Grace Intervention” to get started. I look forward to hearing from you. Vickie Parker, LMFT vickiemft.com, Online...

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2014 will soon be gone.  This year has not been easy as my brother died of cancer in July. This Christmas was not the same without him and although I know he is enjoying his new home in heaven, we all miss his presence here. We never know from day-to-day what life is going to bring us.  How we live our life on a daily basis really determines how strong we are to handle adversity when it comes. If we think we have any control of our lives, then we are living in a delusion.  The best way to live is realizing we do not have control and learning to relax and let go of our expectations of what we want our life to be. I try to have an attitude of gratitude for all the things in my life, even the hard and painful things. Those things build character and strength and by not fearing them I can embrace them and know God is with me and His grace is sufficient. I do wonder what 2015 will bring. My parents are getting older and I could lose them at anytime. The economy is getting better, or so they say, and still it seems like there is more month left than money each month. So thankful for all that we have and we never go to bed hungry, like so many others in the world.  I am grateful that I live in America. So many have sacrificed to give us our freedoms. I am also thankful for all the rain we have been getting. I love those rainy days and never want to take them for granted. We need the water. I turn 65 this year and I will now be on Medicare and getting social security.  How did that happen! Cannot believe I am reaching that age and how quickly it has come. I do not know what this year holds for me, but I do know Who holds the future and I know that whatever comes I am not alone. There is always a certain excitement about the New Year.  It is like an opportunity to love and give more and hopefully be a blessing to others. Life is what we make it and living one day at a time and being thankful for all things is vital if we want to grow. So as the New Year approaches, my prayer for you is that you, also, will continue to grow and if you need to make changes in your life, that you will have the courage to do it. Everyday is an opportunity and there is...

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David Burns defines perfectionism as someone “whose standards are high beyond reach or reason” and “who strain compulsively and unremittingly toward impossible goals and who measure their own worth entirely in terms of productivity and accomplishment.” I listened to a seminar by Martin M. Anthony, PhD and he has treated perfectionism for years. I will share some of his knowledge with you in this blog. Perfectionism can manifest itself in these different areas: Social and performance anxiety Worry and generalized anxiety disorder Obsessive-compulsive disorder Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder Eating disorders Body image disorders Chronic fatigue Anger problems Depression Suicidal thoughts Hewitt and Flett’s define 3 different dimensions of perfectionism Self-oriented perfectionism is the unrealistic expectation we place on ourselves for performance Other-oriented perfectionism is expecting others to perform with unrealistic expectations Socially prescribed perfectionism is believing that others are expecting things from us and constantly trying to gain approval by trying to live up to what we think they want from us. Socially prescribed perfectionism is the most destructive and can lead to anxiety and depression. There is both positive and negative forms of perfectionism: Maladaptive evaluation is concern over mistakes, doubts about actions, parental expectations, parental criticism, and social prescribed perfectionism. Positive achievement strivings are personal standards, organization,, self-oriented perfectionism, other oriented perfectionism. Research suggests that maladaptive perfectionism could be caused from parents that were both perfectionistic and critical while adaptive perfectionists come from more balanced cohesive, adaptable, and nurturing families. Perfectionism stems from biased beliefs, assumptions, and predictions. Anything less than sticking to my diet perfectly is a failure.  If I eat one cookie, I may as well have eaten 10 cookies. I always need to look perfect in front of other people. If I don’t get an A+ in this course, I don’t deserve to be in this program. My reports are never good enough I seem to be the only person in this house who knows how to clean things properly. These are the thoughts manifested in perfectionistic thinking: All or nothing, or black and white thinking Shoulds and musts statements Selective attention by noticing the negative and discounting the positive Overgeneralization, like always or never statements Double standards by holding yourself to a higher standard than you do for others or visa versa Performance-Related Behaviors include: Avoiding situations that may test one’s performance, like a test Procrastination Goal achievement behaviors, like overpreparing Testing one’s performance by doing something over and over again Reassurance seeking Social comparisons If you struggle with perfectionism and it is keeping you from enjoying the life that you want, therapy may help.  We all have blind spots and we do not...

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