You Can Hope Again Counselling

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Community is You and I

Posted on 31 July, 2017 at 15:45 Comments comments (0)


These children know what community is; it’s one person helping another; it’s everyone offering their piece of the puzzle to address an issue affecting their community. 

“Community is not an ideal; it is people. It is you and I. In community we are called to love people just as they are with their wounds and their gifts, not as we want them to be.” -Jean Vanier

It’s all of us pulling together to make our communities a better place to live. How do we do that? We recognize that the solutions to society’s problems lie in the collective ideas of others. Each of us has a piece of the puzzle of how to make our community much more than it already is. We work together to see how each idea offered is part of solving that puzzle.

Through our wounds, we share something of ourselves with those who need to hear a message of hope. Our struggles and how we have overcome need to be a part of the conversation of dealing with issues such as poverty. There are all kinds of answers on how to more successfully deal with poverty in our society. We need to sit down together and really listen to one another. We need to value that one person’s thoughts on how to reduce poverty are just as valid as another’s. It’s all part of a larger and much more important goal of all of us doing the hard work together to support one another in our communities.

Community to a starving person is someone offering meals to that individual. It seems such a simple thing, and yet it doesn’t happen as much as it should. There is often a silent judgment of those who for whatever reason are poor. I have learned from a young African man that community to him is someone who is willing to offer him a university scholarship, so he can get a good job to support his family. In affluent countries little is thought of the blessing of three meals every day to those who aren’t impacted by poverty. But to this young African man having even one meal in the day to feed him and his family would be a blessing beyond value.

What community is to each person is different. The essential message though is the same. It’s one person reaching out to help another person.

Community to Jean Vanier is finding the message of unconditional love in the residents with developmental challenges he works with. He would say that their number one question is this: Will you love me? Having looked into the eyes of these adults with beautiful child-like minds when I was on retreat at L’Arche, I have learned what community means to them. It is love with two open hands of acceptance.

We can learn a lot about what community should mean by spending time with these wise adults.

Love in action is the message of their community. Let’s do all we can working together to make it the reason for ours.

Kevin and Karen Osborne are psychotherapists and pastoral counselors. Kevin is going to be a chaplain. He also feels called to be a professor of Psychology specializing in Pastoral Theology. Karen is the Director of a women’s abuse shelter. She enjoys doing cross-stitch while I like writing and singing songs. Karen makes me laugh when she sings the kitty bed-time song saying, “It’s that time. It’s the bestest kitty time of the day!” Kevin enjoys teasing the kitties and making them do kitty dances with music. Their kitty, Catherine, loves it when kitty daddeh sings All Things Bright and Beautiful. Kevin likes doing impressions. He tells children’s stories and helps others with their problems using his hand puppets, Dr. Teddy, who is a therapy teddy bear, and Mike the Moose from Matheson. This is a small town in northern Ontario, Canada, an hour’s drive south of the city of Timmins. Dr. Teddy and Mike the Moose from Matheson are consultants with us in our counselling practice.We are available to assist with worship and preaching to give busy ministers a much-needed break. We offer in-office, and phone counselling to anyone in the world.

 

Co-author on Mind’s Seat, a Christian inspirational blog

It must never happen again

Posted on 10 April, 2017 at 15:35 Comments comments (0)



Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and French President, Francois Hollande, walk past the graves of soldiers killed in World War I.


World War I was supposed to be the war to end all wars. In the words of one of the participants at the Vimy Memorial ceremony yesterday in northern France, “it was far from that.” Many have not learned the lessons that came from those and subsequent wars such as World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Afghanistan, and now the war in Syria. When will we finally put down the weapons of war, and fight no more? When will we all learn to live in peace with one another? When will all terrorists and the barbaric murderers in ISIS be brought to justice? How many more soldiers will have to die, become disabled or have to suffer the devastating effects of PTSD, before people en masse say enough is enough? 


We need to defend people’s right to live in peace. We need to come to the aid of those precious babies, children, men and women, who have been attacked by chemical warfare in Syria. Hurting anyone to promote a doctrine of hate is unconscionable. ISIS has claimed responsibility for killing over 40 people in two Christian churches in Egypt. We must both individually and collectively condemn such vicious actions.


As I look at the snow falling in our town of Matheson, northern Ontario, Canada, I think of the thousands of soldiers like my grandfather, Private First Class Sandford Dobson, who at age 17 braved snow, rain, muddy, damp fox holes infested with vermin, and artillery fire any time of the day or night. Why? It’s because he and people like him did what they felt should be done.


The thousands of young people who came from all parts of Canada through raising the funds needed for the trip, came to honour the memory of the fallen. This was the 100th anniversary commemorating the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The young people were there to have impressed upon them that war is hell. There is no glory in war. There are no winners in war. Each side experiences the agony of death, and its haunting memories. Those who deliver death notices to the families of soldiers know what this living hell means. You never forget. The hurtful memories are still there. You go on, but life is never the same. How can it be when brothers, sisters, cousins, sons, daughters, colleagues and friends you loved so much are dead?


I’m relieved I don’t have that awful responsibility of deciding how many soldiers will be deployed to areas of conflict and terrorism. We need to pray for those who make those gut-wrenching decisions. Please pray they are given wisdom and use their God-given intelligence in making those difficult choices.


The 3,598 Canadian soldiers who died in the battle of Vimy Ridge must cause us to rethink the damage of war, the destructive power of hate. These people who gave the highest sacrifice for their country need not to have their deaths be in vain. We must defend the cause of freedom, but must also consider soberly and prayerfully its terrible cost. 


The hundreds of pairs of boots from active soldiers lining the Vimy Memorial caused me to think that boots like them were once filled with young lives. These young men would write letters home discussing every day things like Canadians do.


This is an excerpt from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s speech at the Vimy Memorial: 


“The sun has been shining a couple times this last week,” reads a letter from William Henry Bell, dated April 7th, 1917. “The sun is a kind of stranger here. Say, that cake you sent was sure fine.” 


William Bell died at Vimy, April 10th, 1917. He was twenty.


The burden, they bore. 


And, the country they made.


Because this, too, is why we’re here. Why we remember.


For in their ultimate sacrifice, these ordinary, yet extraordinary, men of the British dominion fought for the first time as the people of one country. Francophone, Anglophone. New Canadians. Indigenous Peoples. Side by side, united here at Vimy in the four divisions of the Canadian Corps.


It is by their sacrifice that Canada became an independent signatory to the Treaty of Versailles.


In that sense, Canada was born here.”


This was the Canada people like William Bell and my grandfather fought for. I recall as if it was yesterday as a five year-old, visiting my grandfather. He coughed every day I was there for over half an hour, but it felt more like an eternity. I knew how much time had gone by looking at the clock in the kitchen. Every second I heard that clock tick I had a growing sadness, felt some of the breathlessness my grandfather experienced. It was one of the effects of his exposure to mustard gas. He died just a few years into his retirement as a stationary boiler engineer from his third heart attack. He also struggled with having emphysema, which I believe in large part was caused by mustard gas. 


As I write this editorial the tears come; they linger like a cloud over happier times when my grandpa would make me laugh. But my grandfather and William Bell would want me to remember more joyful times, to feel a child-like joy at how beautiful a gift life is, that each breath we breathe is a gift from God.


My grandfather put in thousands of hours of study to become an engineer.Then, he would drive several hours to Toronto to write his exams. He helped another friend of his who was failing his engineer exams pass them by spending many hours tutoring him. My grandfather did this while threshing hay for 50 cents a day in the Great Depression. He would take any job to feed his family. That was my grandfather.


If we don’t look after veterans and active soldiers we fail to honour their bravery, their sacrifice.


I will never forget a conversation I had with my grandfather when I was five. He said to me, “Kevin, be a man of your word.” I had wondered then why he would give me such advice when I was only a child. I think part of him knew he was going to die soon. He wanted to impart to me teaching that he hoped would stay with me, and become an integral part of my character. 


I pray I will continue to honour his memory by being a man of integrity.


When we think about those who died far too young in the battle of Vimy Ridge, we need to make certain a world war never happens again. We need to do the hard work to minimize escalating conflict as much as possible.


A battle like World War I must never happen again. William Bell, it must never happen again. Grandpa, it must never happen again.



Kevin and Karen Osborne are psychotherapists and pastoral counsellors. Kevin is studying to become a chaplain and professor of Psychology specializing in Pastoral Theology. Karen enjoys doing cross-stitch while I like writing and singing songs. Karen makes me laugh when she sings the kitty bed-time song saying, “It’s that time. It’s the bestest kitty time of the day!” Kevin enjoys teasing the kitties and making them do kitty dances with music. Their kitty, Catherine, loves it when kitty daddeh sings All Things Bright and Beautiful. Kevin likes doing impressions. He tells children’s stories and helps others with their problems using his hand puppet, Dr. Teddy, who is a therapy bear. He is a partner with us in our counselling practice.We are available to assist with worship and preaching to give busy pastors and ministers a much-needed break. We offer in-office, and phone counselling to anyone in the world.


Co-author on Mind’s Seat, a Christian inspirational blog

Join #BellLetsTalk to Increase Mental Health Awareness

Posted on 25 January, 2017 at 8:40 Comments comments (0)



Dear reader: 

This piece is dedicated to Dr. Heyward Bruce Ewart (religious name Patriarch Paul). He is the President of St. James the Elder Seminary-University http://www.stjamestheelder.org/. Dr. Ewart is also the Head of Holy Catholic Church International. I’m a graduate student there majoring in counselling and theology. He has been instrumental in bringing me much further along in my inner healing journey from my abuse. Mentoring by phone and email is offered before and after graduation.This accredited highly affordable school features: a certificate in trauma recovery, a postgraduate diploma in Sacred Jazz, as well as bachelor to doctoral studies in theology, counselling and holistic medicine.


I encourage everyone to get involved in increasing mental health awareness by using  #BellLetsTalk on January 25th. Your voice counts. For every text, call, tweet, Instagram post, Facebook video view and Snapchat message Bell will donate 5 cents more to mental health initiatives. From 2010 when this program was started, Bell has given $79,919,178.55 to these programs, and hopes to donate at least $100 million through 2020.

 

Quoting from their web site link http://letstalk.bell.ca/en/community-fund:

 

"Since 2011, Bell Let’s Talk has supported 344 organizations with $6 million through the Community Fund. The 2017 Fund will provide grants in the range of $5,000 to $25,000 to projects that improve access to mental health care, supports and services for people in Canada living with mental illness.

The 2017 Bell Let's Talk Community Fund is now open for applications. (Deadline to apply is March 31).”


It’s the elephant in the room. For all our advancements as a society, the stigma associated with having mental illness is pervasive. I have heard people refer to those with mental illness as having a weak character. Nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is many who are mentally ill have been strong for far too long.


I know. I have PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). For the benefit of those who haven’t read any of my blogs, my PTSD is the result of the physical and emotional abuse by my schizophrenic father and others. It was too painful to look at for 46 years and still is painful, but thankfully not as much. The simple ringing of a phone can trigger terror in me when I’m deeply involved in an absorbing task such as doing research. A song, conversation or writing about my experiences bring those gut-wrenching memories back as if I was experiencing them for the first time. I still have nightmares about my child abuse. I have been in counselling for it for over six years with counsellors to whom I feel safer about expressing myself without fear of being emotionally shut down. All this talk therapy has helped me heal inner agony I buried for too many decades. It doesn’t go away if you bury it. It just gets worse.


My first counsellor did a lot of the tough work in helping me understand my father could no longer harm me. In one of our sessions, he said, “Kevin, your father is dead. He can’t hurt you anymore.” It took a long time before that message began to sink in.


As a child, I was afraid to go to sleep. I was terrified my father would come into my bedroom and smother me with a pillow. When I’m ill, the messages from my abusive past are particularly bothersome. “You’re not as sick as you think you are. If you tried harder, everything in your life would be just fine. You’re stupid. Do you work at being stupid? Your brother is smarter than you’ll ever be. You’ll always be a failure.”


There are many fine psychiatrists. You need to find one by asking them questions about their views on your situation. You need to interview them to find the one that is right for you. After all, the psychiatrist will be working for you.


I was struck by one of the twitter messages from a previous Bell Lets talk day. One in five children with a mental health issue in Canada doesn’t get access to care. That’s a shocking statistic when you think about it. That means 20% of children in Canada are not getting the mental health care they desperately need. We can do better than that.


In northern Ontario, according to people I have spoken with in the mental health field, people are waiting two years or longer to see a psychiatrist. That’s not acceptable. These people are suffering. They need help now.


The crisis of many young people in the small northern Ontario community of Attawapaskat making suicide attempts through drug overdoses has brought this situation to national attention. Since September 2015, there has been 100 suicide attempts and almost 30 in March alone. 1


The situation of those who have served in the Canadian Armed Forces and experienced PTSD has put a long overdue national spot light on the problem. How many more Canadian soldiers with PTSD will have to commit suicide before they get proper access to mental health care? Former Canadian Armed Forces soldier, Lionel Desmond, is the story of a tragedy that will linger in our minds and hearts for some time to come. He experienced PTSD as a result of serving in Afghanistan. On January 3rd, 2017 he killed himself, 31-year-old Shanna, their 10-year-old daughter and his mother Brenda Desmond, 52. It remains to be seen how adequate the mental health care he was receiving was. Sadly, no investigation will bring back the lives of Desmond and his family.


Rev. Elaine Walcott, a relative of the Nova Scotia family, said in a Globe and Mail interview concerning Desmond seeking help at St. Martha’s Hospital:


“What kind of courage, what kind of stamina, what kind of fortitude did it take Lionel to bang at that door, after he’d already been losing hope that the country he went to defend and the service he gave... didn’t count for anything when he needed help.” 2




More mental health services are being provided through the government of Canada. This is a start but it doesn’t solve the problem. The problem is the attitude and culture of the military. In combat and in times of peace, soldiers who have served or are on active duty are expected to be strong. When they have completed their service, they are expected to return to civilian life as if their military experiences did not happen. They often gunny sack the suffering that is destroying them and their families. The initial treatment for soldiers in battle who were too afraid to fight was to brow beat them by saying they were weak. They would be told they were spineless cowards. They were treated like children who needed to be punished. Thankfully, mental health care treatment for soldiers has come a long way since the First and Second World Wars and the Korean conflict. However, we have a long way to go in addressing the stigma that having any mental illness such as anxiety or depression has on those who suffer it. Mental illness is just as important to treat as physical illness. These soldiers with PTSD are every bit as much casualties of war as those who have lost limbs. Those who are mentally ill need effective treatment. Their families need treatment as well to help them to help their loved one.


You have an opportunity on January 25th to make a difference in the lives of those who suffer mental illness. Think of how each of us can add our nickle to promote mental health care programs. All our nickles together are like ripples in a pond. That first nickle adds to others in the water until the ripples created by all those nickles are many.


A nickle still goes a long way.


Sources:



1.https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/04/18/how-the-attawapiskat-suicide-crisis-unfolded.html



2. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/four-nova-scotia-family-members-killed-in-murder-suicide-rcmp-confirm/article33528410/


Kevin and Karen Osborne are Christian pastoral counsellors and psychotherapists. Kevin is studying to become a chaplain and professor of Psychology specializing in Pastoral Theology. We have started You Can Hope Again Counselling. Karen enjoys doing cross-stitch while I like writing and singing songs. Karen makes me laugh when she sings the kitty bed-time song saying, “It’s that time. It’s the bestest kitty time of the day!” Kevin enjoys teasing the kitties and making them do kitty dances with music. Their kitty, Catherine, loves it when kitty daddeh sings All Things Bright and Beautiful. Kevin likes doing impressions. He tells children’s stories and helps others with their problems using his hand puppet, Dr. Teddy, who is a therapy bear. He is a partner with us in our counselling practice.We are available to assist with worship and preaching to give busy pastors and ministers a much-needed break. We offer in-office, and phone counselling to anyone in the world. 

Co-author on Mind’s Seat, a Christian inspirational blog


Hate Mocks the Song of Peace on Earth

Posted on 22 December, 2016 at 13:05 Comments comments (0)


The German chancellor, Angela Merkel (second left), with other politicians lays flowers near the spot where a truck ploughed through a Christmas market on Monday. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

 

This morning I cried as I took time to reflect upon the recent ISIS terrorist attacks in Berlin as well as Turkey and the Middle East. As I did so I recalled a few of the lines of the Christmas carol I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. “And in despair I bowed my head: “There is no peace on earth,” I said, “For hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men. Then, there is the message of hope. “Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: “God is not dead, nor doth he sleep; The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, good will to men.”

 

Our kitties, William and Catherine, saw their kitty daddy was sad. They came on each side of me purring and letting me pet them. The love of our furry animals brings comfort when we need it most. They helped put a smile on my face and in my spirit.

 

Terrorists want you to be consumed with hatred. They take delight in causing maximum damage to your hope. What does Scripture say we are to do to our enemies? The apostle Paul says in the book of Romans we are to heap coals of fire in the form of acts of love upon them, leaving room for God’s wrath. “Never take vengeance into your own hands, my dear friends: stand back and let God punish if he will. For it is written: ‘Vengeance is mine. I will repay’…. these are God’s words: ‘Therefore if your enemy hungers, feed him; if he thirsts, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head’. Don’t allow yourself to be overpowered with evil. Take the offensive—overpower evil by good!” (Romans 12:19-21, J.B. Phillips New Testament.


Paul was later put under house arrest in Rome for the spreading of his faith and belief in Christ (Acts 28:17-31).  Here we see him boldly doing the thing he was arrested for as he moved the hearts of the Roman soldiers, who were his enemies. In his actions as he lived each day they saw the love of Christ shining from him. There must have been days when doing this was so tough, especially as the chains he was in caused him such agonizing pain, and the swelling of his hands, making writing extremely difficult. With all this suffering he chose God’s path of loving his persecutors.

 

I know. It’s far easier said than done to pray for those who inflict physical and emotional wounds upon you.

 

It is understandable to hate all terrorists. I confess there have been times when my rage at their actions consumed me. In my humanity I wanted them not to be killed. I prayed for them all be captured and put in an 8 x 7 foot prison cell, much like Nelson Mandela was imprisoned in on Robben Island for 18 of his 27 years in prison. If we look at how he acted there we see an example of the toughest calling we have – to love our enemies, and pray for those who hurt us. He won the guards over with a character that did not seek revenge. That’s not the way he was when he was first imprisoned. He had his soul eaten away bits at a time like gnats by the way his fellow people were being treated with beatings, murder and imprisonment.

 

Mandela realized if he let hate erode his love, he would always remain in prison.


 

The missionary, Corrie Ten Boom, was approached by a former guard at Ravensbruck, a Nazi prison concentration camp. He asked her forgiveness for his cruelty towards her and her sister, Betsie. They had been put in prison for hiding Jewish people. A clerical error caused Corrie Ten Boom to be released. I share her thoughts about that encounter.

 

“The solemn faces stared back at me, not quite daring to believe. And that’s when I saw him, working his way forward against the others. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue uniform and a cap with skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush—the huge room with its harsh overhead lights, the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor, the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. Betsie, how thin you were! That place was Ravensbruck, and the man who was making his way forward had been a guard—one of the most cruel guards.

 

Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: “A fine message, Fraulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!” And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course—how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women? But I remembered him. I was face-to-face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze.

 

“You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,” he was saying. “I was a guard there.” No, he did not remember me. “But since that time,” he went on, “I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fraulein,”—again the hand came out—”will you forgive me?”

 

And I stood there—I whose sins had again and again been forgiven—and could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place. Could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking? It could have been many seconds that he stood there—hand held out—but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.

 

For I had to do it—I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. “If you do not forgive men their trespasses,” Jesus says, “neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart.

 

But forgiveness is not an emotion—I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. “Jesus, help me!” I prayed silently. “I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.” And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust out my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.

 

“I forgive you, brother!” I cried. “With all my heart!” For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely, as I did then. But even then, I realized it was not my love. I had tried, and did not have the power. It was the power of the Holy Spirit.”

[Holocaust Victim Forgives Captor, Citation: Corrie Ten Boom, Tramp for the Lord (Berkley, 1978), pp. 53-55]

 

Pope John Paul II forgave his assassin, Mehmet Ali Ağca . It took time to get to that point, but he forgave him.

 


 

Terrorists want you to demand vengeance for their barbaric actions. I urge you not to give them that satisfaction. Keep heaping coals of God’s love upon them. Darkness cannot be defeated by love, though it will try to to with all the hostility it can unleash.

 

To stand for love in a world of increasing hate will gain you enemies. It may cost your life as it has with so many people.

 

The message of Christmas is to love others, which includes those who are our enemies. If those who have committed evil don’t repent their destiny is clear – hell not just here on earth, but for all eternity. I would not want to fall into the hands of a vengeful God. That is where all terrorists are now who persist in their hatred, and teaching their children to hate.

 

We defeat the terrorists by continuing to be people of love. it’s the hardest thing to do, especially when others hurt you by what they say and do. The path of Christ’s compassion for all isn’t easy. It calls us to love in those times when hate is the strongest in us.

 

Keep the message of Christmas alive every day – the love and hope of Christ in you. That is the one thing darkness cannot defeat, if we keep that love shining each day like a beacon light of hope in our hearts, now into eternity.

 

Kevin and Karen Osborne are Christian pastoral counsellors and psychotherapists. Kevin is studying to become a chaplain and professor of Psychology specializing in Pastoral Theology. We have started You Can Hope Again Counselling. Karen enjoys doing cross-stitch while I like writing and singing songs. Karen makes me laugh when she sings the kitty bed-time song saying, “It’s that time. It’s the bestest kitty time of the day!” Kevin enjoys teasing the kitties and making them do kitty dances with music. Their kitty, Catherine, loves it when kitty daddeh sings All Things Bright and Beautiful. Kevin likes doing impressions. He tells children’s stories and helps others with their problems using his hand puppet, Dr. Teddy, who is a therapy bear. He is a partner with us in our counselling practice.We are available to assist with worship and preaching to give busy pastors and ministers a much-needed break. We offer in-office, and phone counselling to anyone in the world.

 

Co-author on Mind’s Seat, a Christian inspirational blog