Friday, September 28, 2012

Making Whole: Re-imagine Happiness

 by Diane Steinbach

Making Whole is a bi-monthly art therapy column focused on art to heal. 

Milkweed Study: Steinbach

 We often take the little things for granted, and when we are feeling depressed, lonely, and worn –out; we find it even more difficult to find the “happy” in our world.

There is a saying about smiling when you don’t feel like it… “Fake it till you make it,” force your smile and eventually it will become real.  It’s the same way about recognizing beauty again in our world.  If we force ourselves to go out and search for beauty, even in the oddest, littlest thing just outside our door, we may begin to recognize and seek out beauty more and more.

That is part of lifting ourselves out of our own loneliness, sadness and depression. No matter what has brought it on, illness, tragedy, loss or heartache, when we force ourselves to move, even the slightest bit, to recognize the beauty around us, we remember what we are really meant to do in this world. We are meant to find joy, to be happy, to celebrate in spite of everything… to love. 

Take a digital camera or drawing pad and pen if you prefer and move outside or to a place out of your normal space.  Look around you at the familiar and unfamiliar. Look closely at the lines and shadows of everyday objects, the colors and variations of leaves and insects, the bumps and imperfections in the sidewalk, brickwork or tree bark.  Find beauty in the rusty car across the street or in the broken window in the house next door.  Take photos or draw the things you see that you find beauty in or that make you happy in a way. “Capture” the things that you find interesting. 
Milkweed Study: Steinbach

When you return home, play around with your digital images on your computer, or print the images and hang them on your bathroom mirror, on the fridge or near your bed stand.  Use them to make cards to send to friends and tell them about your experience.

If you made drawings, bring them home and use colored pencils to color in specific areas to draw more attention to them. Hang them on the wall, again, near the bed, on the fridge, near the phone or TV.  Allow them to motivate you to do more, see more and find more beauty in the world around you.
Milkweed Study: Steinbach

Make this an everyday challenge to find two, or ten new things to inspire you. Bring them home and do something creative with them. Post them online to show your friends and inspire them. Let the ball roll and see where it takes you.  Put all the pictures together and see if they tell a story. 

What have you discovered? Share here….

Diane Steinbach is an art therapist and the author of: Art As Therapy: Innovations, Inspiration and Ideas:, Art Activities for Groups: Providing Therapy, Fun and Function and A Practical Guide to Art Therapy Groups

Images: Copyrighted: Steinbach 2012

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Behind the Bookcovers: Insider Tips for Christian Writers #2

Treasuring Grace is a Christian themed book that was published by Healthy Life Press. Being a first time author makes it hard to break into the writing business and the Christian market, although growing, makes it even harder. We know there are a lot of you in the same boat, with great ideas, inspired story lines, but not really sure where to go with your manuscript or how to take the next step.  
We asked our publisher at Healthy Life Press some questions about breaking into the Christian Publishing business (referred to a CP in the future) and wanted to share his valuable information with you here. We are sure you'll find it fascinating and helpful.

Q: Do you think that a writer with a blog following helps when presenting a book idea to a publisher?
Absolutely! And the best new resource about this is the book "Platform," by Michael Hyatt. Every author or aspiring author should get that book and absorb it. His main point is that in the new world of publishing, it isn't worth advertising anywhere because social networking (word of mouth) is what sells things. Many an author has written a great book that no one ever knows about! Nowadays, the Internet can help overcome that problem. On the other hand, you need a "brand," and you need a "tribe."

Q:  Does a book have to be complete before presenting it to a publisher?
In the case of Healthy Life Press, of which I am the publisher, yes, and I'm glad to explain why to anyone who asks. But even with other mainline publishers, I would predict that the old query letter, outline, and three chapters is not going to get you through the door to the first decision makers, though the acquisitions editor may read it. However, see the next point, if you are a previously unpublished author, with no track record, you are not likely to make it even as far as the acquisitions editor.

Q: Overall, is it better to have an agent or not?
You will not get your proposal or manuscript read on the big dance floor without an agent. Agents typically take 15% of the royalty for the life of the book, and many do not require any payment from authors in order to represent them. Our preference at Healthy Life Press is to work directly with an author, but if an agent is involved we make it the author's responsibility to pay the agent their agreed-upon percentage.
David Biebel, Min
Publisher, Healthy Life Press
AttributionNoncommercial Some rights reserved by kartikay.sahay

Friday, September 21, 2012

God Speaks: Real Stories of God's Guiding Hands in Real People's LIves

--> The book "Treasuring Grace" was inspired by a dream in which co -author Tracy Roberts feels that God spoke to her and directed her hand in the writing of the story. Many people feel God's special influence in their lives in direct or indirect ways.  This column seeks to bring you some of their inspirational stories.

The Weekend that Saved My Life   

by  Dani Roberge

“Who am I?” What kind of question was that, I thought to myself. Who am I? I am the girl never talks in front of people, the girl who never raises her hand in class, the girl who doesn’t make friends easily, the girl who never stands up for what she believes in.  All of these answers flew through my brain at the proposed question, however I guessed these were not the answers they were looking for.
A couple hours earlier my best friend and I were heading over to a church I had never gone to and were getting on a van with kids we had never met before and going to a place we had never been before. We nervously sat in quiet as the van drove off from the church. I looked over at my friend, Adria, she was silent as she stared out the window. We were both scared. The rusty van drove down roads where there were just trees and what seemed like no civilization for hours. Our destination? Mary grove Christian Retreat Center.

I didn’t even want to go, but I knew I had to. Something told me it was the right thing to go. My friend had to go to this thing called Youth Encounter through her church. When she asked if I wanted to go, I was super uneasy about it. First of all I had never been away from home for a whole weekend and second I just didn’t know what to expect. I tried to think of an excuse, but couldn’t. Maybe it would be a good experience? I thought. Maybe just maybe it would help me be happier with life.

Senior year is a stressful time for everyone, especially a person who has no idea what they want to do or where they want to go.  That was me. Middle of senior year, still no idea what school I was going to and what I wanted to do with my life. I didn’t know how I would survive college without my best friend, knowing we would not be at the same school the following year. I was all around nervous and scared for the next chapter in my life. I also wasn’t completely happy, like something was missing in my life. I constantly tried to shrug it off like nothing was wrong, until I couldn’t fight off the anxious thoughts and sadness anymore. One day I came home one night and just bawled what seemed like every tear and cried into my mom’s arms. I told her all my problems and she told me everything was going to be okay. At that point I didn’t believe her, I wanted to believe her, I really did, but I didn’t. All I kept thinking was I wanted things to get better, I wanted to be happy again, but I just didn’t know how to achieve the happiness I wanted.

After that lonely night in March I officially signed myself up for Youth Encounter. I thought maybe just maybe it would be good for me. Everyone else I talked to loved it, they said it was the best thing they ever did. Of course, I had my doubts still, but figured there was nothing to lose to try it.

“Ready?” I looked over at Adria, she had on a huge smile as the van pulled up in front of the church retreat center. The outside of the building looked like jail from the side door we went into. I started freaking out as I felt uncomfortable. I thought about getting out then and pretending to be sick so I could go home. Then I shook my head and grabbed my bags, held my head high and headed for the door.  As we walked inside my mood was instantly uplifted. Twenty teens greeted us at the door with happy smiles and joyful voices. “Welcome to Marygrove!” They chimed. They were so happy and I noticed something in their eyes sparkled, little did I know in just a couple days my eyes would be sparkling too.

That night after we piled our bags into our rooms we met in the lecture hall. We were put into groups and separated from our friends. Throughout the whole weekend there were speakers, but not like a normal church would have a pastor talking at you, these speakers were different. They were teens, just like us, they were people from our school, teens from different schools, teens with amazing stories and amazing knowledge, and they were not talking at us, they were talking with us. I immediately felt at home as I became engrossed into their speeches. They were beautifully written and inspirational. The first speaker of the night was a girl, a girl who I had never met, but a girl I had seen before. She was genuine as she started her speech.

“There is a reason God chose you to be here, during this weekend, at this time. If you didn’t want to be here, well God wanted you to be here. God knows what he’s doing and it is no mistake you are here. God wanted you to be here.” She continued by explaining to us the main point of this weekend is being able to answer the question;‘Who am I?’, she continued by saying to remember the question for later. Which made me sigh with relief, so I could think of a legitimate answer to the question. As she finished up her speech I clapped and felt more comfortable. After the first speech we broke and went for snacks and socializing.

As I said before, I am the type of person who keeps to herself and isn’t good at branching out to talk to people. When I got into the cafeteria area I was surrounded by people I didn’t know.  Something in me was different already, though, I started talking to people I would never have the confidence to talk to on a daily basis.  Everyone was nice and everyone was here to change their lives and because they loved God.

I was surrounded by Christians who loved God and were positive. I loved it, I loved every aspect of it. I talked and laughed with my new friends I started forming relationships with after only a few hours of being at Marygrove.

The next day was filled with more speakers, fun, and bonding. One speech that day that changed everything was one given by a girl who had graduated a year earlier, I looked up to her and actually hung out with her a little the year before she left for college. She began talking and as she talked she broke down and cried.  She went through and explained how this year at school was hard, she felt lonely and felt like all her friends had abandoned her. Half-way through the year, however, she realized these things she was feeling and thoughts she was having were not real. They were the lies the devil was telling her and the lies she began believing. She explained how she got herself out of her rut and nothing is impossible with God.  She continued and explained we need to put all our trust in God because he is our best friend and is here for us always.

She said we need to have contact with other Christians and the friendships we make through Christ will be our lifelong friendships. As soon as she said this a light bulb went on in my head and everything started clicking. Everything in her speech that she said was everything I had been feeling the past year; anxiety, loneliness, and now the friend situation. She explained with friends, the closer we grow with God the closer we will grow to each other. I looked over at Adria and smiled, she smiled back.

At that moment, everything changed. I gave my life to God, He was the missing factor in my life, I accepted him as my savior and knew he put me at this weekend for a reason and the most important was to hear the speakers and to accept him into my life.

Saturday night flew by in a blur, I was uncontrollably happy as I beamed from ear to ear. My life was different, I was different. I could just feel it all around me. That night Adria and I sat up for two hours after everyone had gone to sleep and talked about everything. The day. The weekend. Our faith. We started right then growing closer to God, which meant we were growing closer to each other. I knew our bond when we went our separate ways the following year would never break. Nothing would ever break our experiences we had that weekend.

Sunday morning we went into the lecture hall for one last speaker before it was time to go home. The speaker finished off the weekend by explaining, “Remember that question we asked you to remember at the beginning? Who am I? What is the answer you might ask?  The answer is “I am a beloved child of God.” That is what each and every one of you are; beloved children of God.” My smile spread across my face and I looked around and everyone had the crazy sparkle in their eyes. We were all so happy. I was uplifted when I got home I was a completely different person.

I changed, God changed me through that weekend and helped me remember he is always with us. The lonely, sad, anxious girl had changed. I was happy, excited, and ready for what God wanted me to do. I was ready to do his will. Of course I still get scared and sad sometimes, but the difference is now I know God is right beside me ready to pick me up when I fall down. He is always with me. Youth encounter weekend helped me learn that.

AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by David Wulff

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Is Abortion a Result of an Abusive Relationship?

According to a recent study done by the Guttmacher Institute, which is a non profit organization with concerns about abortion rights and reproductive health, many cultural and economic conditions are prevalent amongst women who have abortions.

It is much more likely that women who have abortions are from a lower economic class and have suffered relationship problems or disruptive events in their lives, such as losing a job or getting a divorce.

Seven percent of the women studied also reported that the men that they became pregnant by were abusive either physically or emotionally.

See the whole article here:  "Abortion seekers 'seven times' more likely to be abused"

What does this tell us?  Social services, especially for low income single women are important in the prevention of pregnancy or abortions, not only post-pregnancy, but pre-pregnancy.  Obviously, counseling services are necessary in depressed areas to help women, who are often the matriarch of the family and responsible for the financial and emotional support of the family unit, cope with the stress and everyday challenges they face. Perhaps when given tools to use that are practical for their lifestyles and circumstances and can address some behavioral and cultural issues that can reduce numbers of unwanted or terminated pregnancies in the future. 

AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by Marina D. Sandoval

Friday, September 14, 2012

Making Whole: Negative Emotion Monsters

by Diane Steinbach

Making Whole is a bi-monthly art therapy column focused on art to heal. 

Negative feelings and emotions, if allowed to run rampant, can take on a life of their own. If you allow yourself to perseverate on self-doubt, self-destructive thoughts or self-bashing you can create a monster that can haunt you and continue harming and hurting your life.

Acknowledging your own tendency to beat yourself up for your past mistakes is the first step to stopping the behavior and forgiving yourself.

Once self-forgiveness is achieved, we can begin to heal our lives and our relationships with ourselves and others.

This art process asks you, the artist, the imagine the beast of your mistakes, regrets and "sins." What kind of ugly little monster have you created with your own self-doubts and flagellation?

Use markers, paints or colored pencils to draw out your creature and make it as frightening and crazy looking as you want. Make it big or little, colorful or black and white. Think about all the things that you have used to create it and let it represent all the things that you have used to hurt yourself with, and that you now want to let go of.

If you'd like to create a more three dimensional model or "ugly doll," use felt and craft stuffing material to create a fabric doll representation of your monster. Draw out your monster on the felt first and then cut two matching pieces to sew into a pocket that you can stuff with the filler material. Enhance the creature with additional colored felt and embroidery thread.

When you are finished drawing or sewing together your creature take a good look at it. Does it represent all of the things you have been punishing yourself with?
Sit back and think about your monster. How can you control it. Can you tame it? Love it and make it sweet? or must you destroy it?

When you are ready, use your art materials to change the monster to make it non threatening. Rip up the paper, put it in a cage or make it into a less threatening creature. This may not happen right away and may be something you do weeks later after much consideration.

 Whatever you decide to do with your monster, let it remind you not to allow your past mistakes or decisions to become whips with which you continue to punish yourself with for the rest of your life. You must face each event and learn your lessons from them and then let them go so that they do not become a monster that needs to be tamed or destroyed.

Only by confronting our monsters and releasing ourselves from our own self-punishment can we heal.

Attribution Some rights reserved by lovefromhettyanddave

Diane Steinbach is an art therapist and the author of: Art As Therapy: Innovations, Inspiration and Ideas:, Art Activities for Groups: Providing Therapy, Fun and Function and A Practical Guide to Art Therapy Groups

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Behind the Bookcover: Insider Tips for Christian Writers

Treasuring Grace is a Christian themed book that was published by Healthy Life Press. Being a first time author makes it hard to break into the writing business and the Christian market, although growing, makes it even harder. We know there are a lot of you in the same boat, with great ideas, inspired story lines, but not really sure where to go with your manuscript or how to take the next step.  
We asked our publisher at Healthy Life Press some questions about breaking into the Christian Publishing business (referred to a CP in the future) and wanted to share his valuable information with you here. We are sure you'll find it fascinating and helpful.  
Q:  What kind of books are CPs looking to add to their catalogs? Fiction? Biographies? Opinion books on controversial or political matters?  What sells? Is there a hole in the market anywhere? Are there books that NEED to be written?
The big CPs, which now are mostly owned by secular conglomerates, have a working list of topics.BUT, for the most part, they will not entertain any proposals that are not brought to them by agents. In addition, they are telling agents that they only want titles from authors who can guarantee significant sales because of their visibility; for example, they have a radio or TV presence. Currently, the number of guaranteed sales that these publishers require are phenomenal - between 20 and 60,000, depending on who you're talking to.
Where once the purpose of these publishers was to publish works that would glorify God and help people, this is no longer the case. And the situation can only get worse.
In my opinion, the only Christian books that "need" to be written are those driven by the passion of the author about some aspect of faith. This is true whether we are referring to nonfiction or fiction. One of the reasons that I founded Healthy Life Press was to help unpublished authors with something substantial to say get their work to press.
Q: How can a new writer prove to a CP that their book has promise and would interest readers and sell?
One can solicit endorsements from celebrities or at least persons with significant credentials in the arena that the book covers. Otherwise, in today's market there is no way to prove ahead of time that a book has promise. In olden times, a book had promise if it has something significant and unique to say. Today, the entire discussion is about economics. Often the final decision regarding a book is made by the sales team. If they cannot show that the book will at least pay its own way - i.e. recoup its publication costs (most do not) then they will not put their own careers on the line for it, regardless.

Q: What kind of research do you recommend a writer do  before they start writing?
A writer should research best practices in relation to his or her topic. By this I mean that the writer should thoroughly research what is out there already, and how his or her book will be so different and superior that a publisher should consider investing a considerable amount of money to get it to market, with all that entails.
A writer should also consider whether self-publishing, either in print or in eBook format, or both, would help them establish their credibility while allowing them to at least get the book to print. This process is far more complicated than it may sound on the surface. There are some companies that specialize in what used to be called "vanity" printing - i.e. we will get your book to print as long as you pay us so much up front and then guarantee that you will buy the first "x" number of books, yourself. Of course, this is their way of covering their own costs, while hoping that one of their authors will actually break into the market in some significant way.
Our own approach with Healthy Life Press ( is collaborative (in that we work together to get the book to market) and cooperative (in that we share the expense of this process and the proceeds from it fairly).
In all these things, as an author/co-author of 19 books published commercially, plus a publisher of almost 30 more, I do not wish to discourage anyone. If you must write, you must write. If you are a writer, you will know what I mean by that. We write because we must. It is our mission, and a fulfillment of our purpose for being here. If, however, you want to write because you want to make money ... forget about it.
David B. Biebel, DMin
Publisher, Healthy Life Press

image by:
Attribution Some rights reserved by HeavenlyCabins

Friday, September 7, 2012

God Speaks: God Speaks: Real Stories of God's Guiding Hand in People's Lives

 The book "Treasuring Grace" was inspired by a dream in which co -author Tracy Roberts feels that God spoke to her and directed her hand in the writing of the story. Many people feel God's special influence in their lives in direct or indirect ways.  This column seeks to bring you some of their inspirational stories.

 During my research for this column I came across a Christian forum on the topic of God speaking to everyday people. On the forum people shared some of their true life stories, with the hopes of inspiring others.  It is my hope that by sharing some of their stories here as well, that we can spread the word and bring hope and faith to more people through their inspirational experiences. It is my sincere hope that these kind believers do not mind.

Below is indeed a touching and inspirational story that reminds us to put our faith and trust in God.  Enjoy.

I remember once, traveling home from work. It was a long drive, and I felt upset because of something someone at work said to me. I remember praying that morning, specifically asking the Holy Spirit to override my will, whenever He desires. Anyway, I get onto the freeway, and notice a hitchhiker. Ignoring her, I drive on, determined not to stop. Next moment, my foot is lifted off the accelerator, and slams on brakes. It was like my body was going into autopilot. After reversing towards the hitchhiker, and throwing the door open, I realized that the Spirit did indeed override my will, just as I prayed for that morning.

So, we start chatting. As it turns out, it was a mother, who after traveling a thousand miles with her young child, and a little baby, got robbed of everything they had. The little baby had no food or diapers left. I realized that I must have been their last chance of getting help - as it was getting dark, and few people would ever dare to pick up strangers in the dark - people get murdered regularly for doing just that in this country.

All she had was an incomplete address of people she was heading to. I realized that this poor woman was in trouble. So, I prayed, and the Holy Spirit reminded me that my local church was going to have a service in less than an hour. I decided to go to church, as there were plenty of people who could help. Right then, I realized that I had no idea where I was anymore - got lost completely. Without a map or charged mobile - I was truly stuck. So, as my heart sank into despair, the Holy Spirit said to me "My child, let me guide you". I gladly accepted. Then, He started directing me, telling me where to turn and where to carry on straight. After some time, I was wondering when I’d start recognizing my surroundings. Right then, He said, "You'll know where you are soon, my child." About a minute later, I recognized precisely where we were, and audibly thanked the Spirit for His help. The mother was a bit surprised, and I explained to her that I was completely lost, and followed the Spirit of God's verbal directions to get there. She must have been touched quite deeply - which must be what the Lord wanted. I still remember how she gasped at hearing those words.

So, as I drive to the church grounds, we get out and head for the door. The right people approached me before I could even say a word. I explained what happened, how the Spirit took control of me, and compelled me to stop and pick them up. I told them that this is obviously important kingdom business, and that she needs help. They accepted my words, and took her in. I do believe she was lead to the Lord that same night.

The events that day made me marvel at the infinite greatness of the Lord our God. How He gently laid it on my heart to ask the Spirit to override my will, and how everything came together under His guidance. Truly, our God is the greatest - and to serve Him is wonderful beyond words.

image: Flickr
AttributionNoncommercial Some rights reserved by Mesq

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Story of an Everyday Hero: Chinese Woman Rescues Babies Thrown in Trash

Mail Online recently printed a story about a Chinese woman who lived in extreme poverty and would go through the rubbish in the streets to collect recycling material for money. Over the years she found 30 babies that had been discarded in the garbage on the streets, and although she was poor and struggling, she took the babies home and cared for them. Sometimes she would raise them herself or pass them onto other families to care for.
This is an amazing story I wanted to share.

The truly inspiring story of the Chinese rubbish collector who saved and raised THIRTY babies abandoned at the roadside

By Daily Mail Reporter

Lou Xiaoying has been praised in China for saving more than 30 abandoned babies over the years

A woman has been hailed a hero after details of her astonishing work with abandoned children has emerged.
Lou Xiaoying has been praised in China for saving more than 30 abandoned babies over the yearsLou Xiaoying, now 88 and suffering from kidney failure, found and raised more than 30 abandoned Chinese babies from the streets of Jinhua, in the eastern Zhejiang province where she managed to make a living by recycling rubbish.

 She and her late husband Li Zin, who died 17 years ago, kept four of the children and passed the others onto friends and family to start new lives.

Her youngest son Zhang Qilin - now aged just seven - was found in a dustbin by Lou when she was 82.

'Even though I was already getting old I could not simply ignore the baby and leave him to die in the trash. He looked so sweet and so needy. I had to take him home with me,' she said.

'I took him back to our home, which is a very small modest house in the countryside and nursed him to health. He is now a thriving little boy, who is happy and healthy.

'My older children all help look after Zhang Qilin, he is very special to all of us. I named him after the Chinese word for rare and precious.

'The whole thing started when I found the first baby, a little girl back in 1972 when I was out collecting rubbish. She was just lying amongst the junk on the street, 
abandoned. She would have died had we not rescued her and taken her in.

'Watching her grow and become stronger gave us such happiness and I realised I had a real love of caring for children.


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