Detours are not Dead Ends
For I know the plans I have made for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
Do you sometimes feel like your path in life as a dead-end, or perhaps your goals are inside but you’re on a detour? We need to keep in mind that God has a unique plan for each and every one of us. We were created with a purpose, purpose far greater than we can ever comprehend. In fact, we tend to set our sights much lower, and settle for far less, then what God has planned for us.

When bad things happen we tend to lose sight of God’s plan. The crisis we are in becomes our plan. We then spend our time and energy, and focus working on the crisis plan. Being in the crisis becomes our life. It becomes who we are. We look at the crisis as our life’s final destination, instead of a detour from something far greater.

Thankfully God never stops calling us back to his plan often times we ignore this, and as a result, life becomes much more difficult than it has to be. If you find that you lack a sense of peace, that life has become a never ending struggle, and you seem to be going in circles not getting anywhere. This is the time we need to step back, more than likely, you are working your plan, instead of Gods. The struggle and the heart ache are indicators that you were working against God, not with him.

Daily prayer, routine confession, quiet time and adoration, are great ways to tune in to the Holy Spirit and allow him to get you back on track. We all need a “spiritual realignment” from time-to-time as life, our fears, and our free will, have a way of pulling us off track.

Remember, God has a great plan for you, a plan filled with promise, peace, and joy. Living that plan may not always be easy, but not living it is sure to lead you to a dead end.
Jeff Bates

Turn around your going the wrong way!!!
Have you ever found yourself going the wrong way on a one-way street? I have and although I realized my mistake almost immediately, I was committed to the path I was on. Most times there is no way to turn around. You wait at the red light hoping it will turn quickly to green and you can navigate in the right direction before too many people see what you have done. Needless to say you will get honked horns, yelling and angry gestures from people who think you must be unintelligent. As you try to remain calm and not make eye contact, you want to yell back to them…
“I know I am going the wrong way! It was a mistake! I’m trying to change my path!”
Even if you could have talked to them I don’t think it would have mattered. I had inconvenienced them and their plans. I was in their way. I was doing what they would NEVER do. I was going the wrong way on a one-way street.
Then I came across this bible verse. “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you,” Ephesians 4:31-32
How often have I been critical of someone who has gotten on the wrong path? Do I draw attention to their mistake by blasting my self-righteous horn at them? Do I take into account their circumstances before I give them a holier-than-thou talking to? Do I give them anything but the mercy they might need? Just like I needed grace to get out of the one-way street, people who have gotten off track need the kindness of those around them to straighten their path.
How much better not to draw attention to their offense, but rather pray privately for them, looking for an opportunity to come alongside. Not looking for an opportunity to spread gossip, but looking for an opportunity to tell them you understand, and that we all need grace from time to time, if not daily.
So we must remember that God has shown us more grace than we deserve.
Jeff Bates

The Great 15 second kiss experiment…
I read a lot of blogs… A lot of blogs and once in a while I find things I like to share. This week it’s the 15 second kiss from the blog fierce marriage, the challenge is pretty much what it sounds like… Kiss your spouse for 15 seconds every day for a week.
15 seconds is long enough that you can’t fake it, it forces you to connect with each other.
I find that most couples do kiss, however, usually it’s no more than a few seconds. We burn 15 seconds all the time without even thinking about it. We play games on our phones, watch silly commercials, work around the house, you name it – 15 seconds is a short amount of time for most of us. However, when you’re kissing and consciously thinking about it, 15 seconds seems to be a lot longer. And that’s a good thing!
Some of the things you will learn are that it’s nearly impossible to kiss for an extended period of time and not feel closer to your spouse. It refreshes and energizes people, and it’s a gateway to more intimacy for couples. Don’t ever neglect whatever builds intimacy between you and your spouse, maybe it isn’t kissing for everyone and if you and your spouse both enjoy something else, then do that!
I encourage people to take the challenge try it for yourself, whether you and your spouse are constant kissers or if you’ve just forgotten what it’s like to kiss, I highly recommend giving this exercise a shot. Feel free to go longer than 15 seconds… It certainly couldn’t hurt
Pucker up!
Jeff Bates
Don’t Be Luke Warm
Not too long ago and I was sitting in my car flipping through the radio stations and I came across catholic radio which was relatively new at that time and I thought this is what I need to hear so I gave it a listen. A Bishop was speaking and he was talking about being lukewarm in your faith. He went on to describe what a lukewarm Christian is, Lukewarm Christian are those who attend church out of habit and generally do not pray unless something life threatening happens. This seemed to hit me right between the ears. I thought I was a “good” Christian I went to mass every Sunday, I went to confession, I gave to the church, I was on committees, I even got up at 3 am to do adoration. So what’s the problem I mean that sounds like a “Good Christian doesn’t it but something wasn’t right I felt like I felt hollow inside I was just going about the motions doing what I thought a good Christian would do. I knew I needed step it up. I was Lukewarm.
What is God’s opinion about those who are lukewarm? He tells us you know in Rev 3:15 “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.” Wow that had an effect on me. What is Jesus’ reaction to the lukewarm Christian? Not very polite or tactful. It makes him sick. Luke warmness is a grave sickness of soul which can strike at any stage of one’s interior life. We say that a tepid soul has “fallen away.” It has grown weary of the interior struggle… St. Thomas Aquinas defines Luke warmness as “a kind of sadness which makes a person sluggish in the performance of spiritual exercises on account of the effort they require”… Luke warmness means “softness, laziness bent on the easiest, most pleasurable way, any apparent shortcut. And there are no shortcuts to heaven.
When it comes to serving God you can’t straddle the fence, the devil owns the fence! It’s time to get serious about your relationship with Him. It’s time to stop living one way Saturday night and a different way Sunday morning. Commit to God, give Him your life, it’ll be the best decision you’ll ever make. Your worst day with God is still better than your best day without God, trust me! Stop flirting with the devil, it results in loneliness, depression, anger, tears, sorrow, and eventually death. You deserve so much better than that! Accept what Jesus did on the cross for you, and begin your journey today!
Jeff Bates
Help for Anxiety
When it comes to anxiety there are many methods that are used to help reduce symptoms and deter an anxiety attack.
Some common therapeutic strategies are: cognitive behavior therapy techniques, distractions and diversions.
All of which are tools to change your thoughts and behaviors which affect your feelings. Specifically in the case of anxiety these tools distract you from fearful thoughts. It does not matter if the fear is real or perceived, because the body responds the same. It takes your whole self; mind, body, and soul to truly redirect and pull out of an anxious spiral.
Our body and soul are closely linked. After a while of using the same coping technique or method of distraction we might find that the effectiveness lessens.

In addition, we want our coping tools to tend to our body and our soul.
Accept that you are anxious and God is in charge, not you. You are anxious and God can handle whatever you are anxious about. Here are some effective techniques to deal with anxiety that incorporates your Christian faith and may provide new tools for your anti-anxiety tool box:

Jesus Prayer: Take a deep breath inviting Jesus Christ into your whole body.
As you breathe in and hold that breath for a moment imagine Jesus Christ entering every cell of your body.
Visualize life-giving oxygen entering each cell of your body with your deep inhale.
As you exhale, pray that all that is false leave with your exhale.
Breathe in the truth of Jesus Christ and breathe out the lies of your anxiety, the lies of Satan.

Pray the Rosary daily. Hold the Rosary and say the prayers out loud. The physical tangibility of the rosary and the audible voice are grounding.
Anxiety is often the result of not being in the present. Regrets of the past and fear of the future begin an anxious spiral.
Holding the Rosary and saying the prayers out loud uses your body’s senses to bring you into the present.

When at church place your whole life; body, soul and mind on the altar. You are baptized as a priest, prophet and king.
As priest, you make a sacrifice of yourself just as Christ did and the ordained Priest does in the place of Christ.
You as a part of the lay priesthood, imagine whatever you are anxious about, visualize your seemingly uncontrollable symptoms being placed on the altar.
Your obsessive and intrusive thoughts; put them on the altar too. Pray that God take the ordinary events and circumstances of your life and miraculously transform them into something life-giving.

As you pray to prepare yourself to receive the Eucharist; pray that God prepares you to receive back what you have placed on the altar after He transforms it into something life-giving.
Just as you trust and believe that the bread and wine are turned into the body and blood though they still look the same; trust and believe that God has and continues to transform whatever you placed on the altar into something life-giving.

Display religious pictures in your house, so that you are reminded visually about the holiness of your home and life.
Use the wisdom of our sacramental faith and engage your senses to bring you to the present and to bring your thoughts to that which is holy.

Find your “go to” saints. When you are anxious or overwhelmed by obsessive and intrusive thoughts you are encouraged to think of someone whom you trust; who exhibits the qualities you want; who you trust to guide you right. Think about what they would tell you in your anxiousness. Learn about the life of a saint or two who you can admire and trust to guide you toward holiness.
Such Saints who would help you return to being calm, peaceful and trusting in God no matter what circumstances you are experiencing.
Purchase a saint prayer card or a saint medal with the particular saint you are venerating. Carry these items in your pocket, your purse or around your neck.
Keep your saintly prayer reminder as close as an asthmatic would their inhaler.
Mentally pull yourself away from the anxious thoughts by repeating to yourself in contemplation:
“Come Lord Jesus,” “Come Holy Spirit,” “Come Lord Jesus Give us Your Spirit, Renew the face of the Earth,” and “Jesus, you gave your life for me.”

Memorize prayers. When you memorize something it is on standby and ready to be brought up for use at any moment.
If you have traditional prayers memorized you can easily bring them to the forefront in times of anxiousness.
Father Robert Barron, in his Catholicism series on the session on prayer states, “Prayers are a great way to move us into Prayer”.
Being able to easily say memorized prayers aloud brings your mind slowly to a state of calm, hope, and the present.
Jeff Bates


Praying together as a couple

Most of the Christian couples that I know do not pray together. I know one Christian man who flat out refuses to pray together with his wife. He says he prays by himself, and he won’t ever pray together with his wife. Praying with another person makes him feel too uncomfortable, so he won’t pray with her or anybody. I hate to say it, but his views are not uncommon. Very few Christian couples actually take the time to pray together.
FamilyLife® has surveyed of thousands of Christian couples and found that less than 8% pray together on a regular basis. That is a amazingly low percentage. However, according to the Southern Baptist Convention poll in 2001, of Christian couples who actively pray together, the divorce rate is less than one percent. Less than one percent! This begs the question: How often do you pray with your spouse? Don’t include the mealtime blessing, that doesn’t count. The response to the question is enlightening because most couples very rarely pray together, with the exception of the mealtime blessing. So why don’t we pray with our spouses? I think it is because we just don’t realize the importance of prayer to our marital relationship. Most people acknowledge that prayer is very important to them but they simply fail to do it on any regular basis. The fact of the matter is that if we don’t pray very much, then prayer is really not very important to us. Do you believe that prayer has any real effect on the depth of companionship within your marriage? In reality, whatever you actually do at present in your home is the clearest revelation of what you truly believe regarding prayer. You may say that prayer is important to your relationship with your spouse, but if you are not doing it, then it is not important to you. When I talk about praying with your spouse, I’m talking about the two of you sitting down together, holding hands, and seriously praying. You need to pray together daily if possible, in a place and time when you won’t have distractions. If you have never prayed together as a couple before, you need to learn how to pray together. At first it may seem awkward and uncomfortable, but it will pass. One thing that greatly encourages effective prayer together is acknowledgment of your personal needs in the presence of your spouse before God. Praying for your own personal needs also lets your spouse know how to pray for you during his/her individual personal prayer time. Whatever you don’t pray about in your life you leave up to chance.

Don’t leave your life up to chance…..PRAY.

Jeff Bates

Want to pray more, think Nike!

Let’s get basic, very, very basic about prayer. The single most important piece of advice I know about prayer is also the simplest and also the pitch line for Nike: Just do it! How to do it is less important than just doing it. Less-than-perfect prayer is infinitely better than no prayer; more perfect prayer is only finitely better than less perfect prayer. No program, method, book, teacher, or technique will ever succeed in getting us to start doing anything unless there is first of all that simple, absolute choice to do it.
The major obstacle for most of us is just saying yes to prayer, the most popular and powerful excuse we give for not praying, or not praying more, is that we have no time. Deciding to do it is the first thing making prayer your number one priority, having made a definite decision to do it, we must next rearrange our lives around it. Rearranging your time, preparing time to pray, is like preparing your house to paint. As everyone knows who has done any painting, preparation is three-quarters the work, three-quarters the hassle, and three-quarters the time. The actual painting is a breeze compared with the preparation. The same is true of prayer: the hardest step is preparing a place, and a time. The first and most important piece is scheduling. You absolutely must schedule a regular time for prayer, whether you are a “scheduler” with other things in your life or not. One quick minute in the morning to offer your day to God is better than nothing at all. You simply must decide each day to free up your schedule so you can pray.
How long a time? That varies with individuals and situations, of course; but the very barest minimum should certainly be at least fifteen minutes. You can’t really count on getting much deep stuff going on in less time than that. If fifteen minutes seems too much to you, that fact is powerful proof that you need to pray much more to get your head on straight. After it becomes more habitual and easy, expand it, double it. And later, double it again.

What time of day is best? The most popular time is bedtime, and this is usually the worst possible time, for two reasons. First, it tends not to be prime time but garbage time, when you’re the least alert and awake. Do you really want to give God your worst?

Second, it won’t work. If you wait until every other obligation is taken care of first before you pray, you simply won’t pray. For life today is so cruelly complicated for most of us that “every other obligation” is never taken care of.
The most obvious and usually best time is early in the morning. If you can’t delay the other things you do, you simply must get up that much earlier. Should it be the very first thing? That depends. Some people are alert as soon as they get up; others need to shower and dress to wake up. The important thing is to give God the best time, and “just do it.”
Place is almost as important as time. You should make one special place where you can be undisturbed. What place? Some people are not very sensitive to environment and can even use a bathroom (but I wouldn’t). Others naturally seek beauty: a porch, yard, garden, or walk. (I find praying while you take a walk a good combination of spiritual and physical exercise.)
You probably noticed I haven’t said a word about techniques yet. That’s because three-quarters is preparation, remember? But what about methods? I can only speak from my own experience as a continuing beginner. The two most effective that I have found are very simple. One is praying Scripture, reading and praying at the same time (Lectio Divina), reading in God’s presence, receiving the words from God’s mouth. The second is spontaneous verbal prayer. I am not good at all at silent prayer, mental prayer, contemplative prayer; my thoughts hop around like fleas (squirrel).

Let’s “just do it” even if “it” is only crawling towards God, we need to learn to crawl before we walk and walk before we run. “Just Do it” start praying.

Jeff Bates
Change is scary

Every phase of life requires a new set of muscles and the ability to adapt to the demands of our changing world. It is vital to stay flexible so that the changes in life don’t rip us apart, but instead reveal our faith in God. Scripture doesn’t promise us that nothing bad will happen, but that our God will be with us and will ever provide a way out of the control sin can attempt to enforce on our lives. It also promises us that through obedience to Him we find a peace and joy to which nothing in this life can compare.
Looking ahead to what the future may hold gives us wisdom and perspective. It also holds us accountable to a humble and willing heart. It’s hard to be prideful as we imagine ourselves at 85 years of age. It is extremely valuable to ask ourselves what we want our life to look like, should we live that long. Hanging on to a dependency on a job, looks, money, muscles, or material possessions for our sense of self worth and meaning will lead to a long, distracted, and potentially painful ride through the turns of life. These dependencies are addictive, meaning you are never quite satisfied that you have enough, and you panic at the thought of losing them. Hanging on to our relationship with God, meaningful relationships, and a sense of gratitude for all that we have will ensure that the ride has many beautiful stops along the way.
Ask yourself if what you are investing your time, attention, and energy to will provide you peace, joy, and love through the years. If you find that the benefit of your endeavors is short-lived, superficial, or addictive try something new. Try a path of thankfulness and service to God and others. Your reward will be eternal and beyond earthly measure.

Jeff Bates


Tips to Beat the Holiday Blues
Usually the holidays conjure visions of happiness and joy with family, friends. However, the holiday seasons are not always that way for many people. Some are without friends or family nearby, some have suffered a loss, others are going through a financial or health dilemmas, or having marital or other family problems. For many reasons such as these it can be a time of overwhelming sadness, loneliness and stress – triggering depression. More than 35 million Americans are affected by depression in their lifetime, and it becomes even more prevalent during the holidays.
To keep yourself ‘mentally healthy’ during holiday seasons, keep in mind these…
• Maintain a fairly normal schedule

Undue stress is experienced with the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping. Wherever possible, use pre-emptive planning and follow-through to reduce last minute pressures.

• Surround yourself with supportive people

Spend quality time with those who you view as your support system.

• Eat healthy, minimize alcohol intake, get adequate sleep, and maintain your exercise program

Sleeping less; eating more; and too much sugar, caffeine or alcohol can contribute to emotional stress and make depressive symptoms worse.

• Create your own traditions and minimize holiday expectations of others

Expectations of how holiday celebrations ‘should be’ can add stress and bring up feelings of loneliness, frustration and disappointment. Creating your own traditions means making new happy memories with special people that are meaningful to you.

• Relax and take the holidays one day at a time

Keep in mind the holidays only last for a short time; your mental health lasts a lifetime.
If the holidays are becoming too stressful and you are experiencing two or more of the symptoms (listed below) for two weeks or more, it could be a sign of a physical health problem that needs the attention of a healthcare provider or a sign of a deeper depression whereby you may need counseling by a qualified psychotherapist.
• Prolonged sadness or unexplained crying
• Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
• Significant changes in appetite or sleep patterns
• Exhaustion, persistent tiredness
• Irritability, anger, worry, anxiety
• Pessimism, indifference
• Impaired concentration or indecisiveness
• Restlessness or agitation
• Inability to take pleasure from former interests
• Unexplained aches and pains

Enjoy your holidays by savoring every moment and not worrying about the past or future.
“When you accept Gods will in every aspect of your life you will find God providing you with strength, and courage, and a dignity that resounds to the heavens.” Mother Angelica
Jeff Bates

Great therapy song Unpack your heart by Philip Phiilips
Meet me where the sunlight ends
Meet me where the truth never bends
Bring all that you’re scared to defend
And lay it down when you walk through my door
Throw all of it out on the floor
Your sorrow, your beauty, your war
I want it all, I want it all
Bring your secrets, bring your scars
Bring your glory, all you are
Bring your daylight, bring your dark
Share your silence
And unpack your heart
Show me something the rest never seen
Give me all that you hope to receive
Your deepest regret dies with me
The days when you stumble and fall
The days when you grind to a crawl
The treasure that hides behind your walls
I want it all, yeah I want it all
Bring your secrets, bring your scars
Bring your glory, all you are
Bring your daylight, bring your dark
Share your silence
And unpack your heart
Then unpack your heart
Oh, I’m on your side
So shed your shadow
And watch it rise
Oh, I’m on your side
So shed your shadow
And watch it rise
Into your darkness
I’ll shine a light
Bring your secrets, bring your scars
Bring your glory, all you are
Bring your daylight, bring your dark
Share your silence
Bring your honor, bring your shame
All your madness, I will tame
Won’t you lay down, down your guard
Share your silence
And unpack your heart


Tips on fighting Depression
A couple of quick thoughts on fighting depression.
Move. A depressed body at rest tends to stay at rest—and get more depressed. Force yourself, while you are not in the mood, to get out of that bed or off that couch. Wash a dish. Do some laundry. Go for a walk. Motion tends to elevate mood.
Help someone. Divert your mind to the needs of another. Give a compliment to someone. Do someone a favor without being asked, even if you’re not in the mood. Thinking about someone else and tending to his needs can put your own problems in perspective.
Smile. Exhibit a pleasant demeanor, while you are not in the mood. Stand tall. Put a smile on your face. Greet people. There is a connection between the muscles used in smiling and elevation of mood.
Don’t change an earlier good resolution.
Intensify your religious activities — that is, spend more time in prayer, meditation, and good deeds.
Persevere in patience, for the Devil’s authority and ability to assault you is strictly limited by God, meaning that you’ll be relieved of your spiritual sufferings if only you hold out long enough.
As Ignatius discovered, depression can be a great spiritual challenge — and also a great opportunity for growth. Let us keep this in mind whenever we suffer from depression and turn to the saints for their intercession.
Of course, none of this will work for people who are determined to do only what they feel like doing.
Jeff Bates

Thy will be done or My will be done
With so many professionals out there, how do you pick the right person to work with? The single most important factor is to find someone who understands and shares your core value base. For us Catholics, that would mean someone who is a practicing Catholic, living a life true to the Magisterium of the Church. You want someone who not only knows, but cherishes, his/her Catholic faith.
Catholic counseling vs. secular counseling. What are the differences and similarities? As a general rule, both Catholic counseling and secular counseling share the same desire to help people overcome their problems, find meaning and joy in life, and become healthy and well-adjusted individuals, both mentally and emotionally. The word “counseling” can have multiple meanings, including offering advice and encouragement, sharing wisdom and skills, setting goals, resolving conflict, etc. A major part of counseling is resolving and restoring conflicts between people.
Catholic counseling is distinct from secular counseling in that it specifically incorporates the spiritual dimension, Biblical truths, and a seeking of God’s will in an individual’s life. Catholic counselors understand that the Bible has a lot of practical wisdom about human nature, marriage and family, human suffering, and so much more.
One of the main problems with secular counseling is that psychology puts the self at the center of things. It is all about discovering the self and actualizing the self. The problem is that everything is directed by what the self wants. It comes down to “my will be done.”
Catholics, on the other hand, respect the life and unique personhood of each individual. And we see our lives in a much larger context. We have an eternal perspective. We see ourselves as sons and daughters of a loving God. We are creatures created by a divine Creator. We believe that we are created by Love, out of Love, for Love. This is worlds away from the secular outlook! We consider God’s will, as in “Thy will be done.”
Secular therapists say that they are “value neutral.” As a society, we have been drowning in this nonspiritual garbage for years. We know the truth: God is the source of all goodness; so therefore, no good exists outside of God! Since healing is good, another certainty follows: All healing comes from God! Thus, God is the source of all healing; there is no healing outside of Him!
Jeff Bates

Leave a Comment