Believe It’s Possible

Photo courtesy of Huffington Post

Photo courtesy of Huffington Post

Jack Canfield’s Success Principle #4

(1) We get what we expect.
Jack Canfield tells us today that we get whatever we think about. Consider the power behind that statement.

I meet people frequently who live under what author and inspirational speaker Joyce Meyer calls a lack mentality. You’ve met these people. They constantly repeat that they don’t have enough time, enough money, enough energy, enough intelligence, or enough resources to achieve their dreams. They drive beat-up cars, work in low-paying jobs, hang out with other under-achievers, and suffer from ill health.

As survivors of abuse and trauma, our brains have been wired to expect more of the same terrible treatment we received in the past. This can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety.

We can change our future by simply changing how we think. I wrote in a previous post about cognitive restructuring. This is a fancy word for talking yourself into a more positive outlook.

Our psychologist used this with our adopted daughter who had been severely traumatized as a child in Ethiopia. The doctor taught her to repeat, “I am safe. Everything is okay.” In time, a little girl paralyzed by fear began to breathe a little easier and look forward to life with better expectations.

(2) You gotta believe.
This is a line made famous by Tug McGraw, the Philadelphia Phillies pitcher who struck out a batter to help his team win the 1980 World Series. He had visualized his success so many times throughout his life, that he knew it would come true one day.

Having faith means that we believe so strongly in something that we refuse to think that it won’t happen. The Bible is full of examples of people exercising powerful faith. Matthew 9:20-22 reads, Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed from that moment. Do we have this much faith?

(3) Believe in yourself and go for it.
Tim Ferriss is an athlete who believed so strongly in himself that he won a national Chinese kickboxing championship after just six weeks of training. He had never before played the sport.

I decided in high school that I wanted to graduate a semester early to go to the University of Michigan. My parents had never attended college, and no one prepared me for the fact that Michigan has some of the toughest admission standards on the planet. I applied and had complete faith that I would get in.

Just five days before classes were supposed to start, I still hadn’t heard from the university admissions office. I wasn’t worried that I hadn’t been accepted; I was concerned about my choice of dorms.

I called the dean’s office and actually got the man on the phone (a small miracle in and of itself). No one had even reviewed my application yet, but the dean accepted me on the spot, with a warning that I’d better be prepared to work a lot harder than I had in high school. I’m certain that I got in, not because I had the best academic record, but because I was so confident that I would be accepted.

Jesus told his followers, “I tell you the truth, unless you become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3) Our faith in God and in ourselves must be like that of a child, who does not doubt that God can help him to do anything.

(4) It helps to have someone else believe in you first.
We all need an accountability partner to cheer us on or to chew us out when we lose sight of our dreams. We also have our own built-in partner right in our own bathroom mirrors. Standing in front of the mirror every day and stating our dreams aloud will make them more real to us.

Every morning, I sit in my sauna, look at my reflection in the window, and repeat the prayer of Jabez: Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.

God granted my request. I have been relieved of the pain of reflex sympathetic dystrophy that was caused by my auto accident. This is just one of the many miracles that God has given me, because I believe that I can do anything through him.

Today’s Challenge
Keep working on your purpose statement and your dream book. Get in front of a mirror and tell yourself exactly how you’re going to achieve your dreams.

I  decided to follow my dream of becoming a writer. I have been blessed to have three of my books published.  It is my hope you will enjoy reading them all.

Click on the image below to buy now.



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Decide What You Want

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Jack Canfield’s Principle #3

In Success Principle #3, Jack Canfield teaches us that we must figure out exactly what we want out of life. It’s the longest lesson in the book, and I wish he had divided it. I recommend working on this over the entire course, tweaking it as you go. There are 10 steps, as follows:

(1) Understand that most of our dreams are programmed out of us through childhood critics.
When we are born, God places dreams into our hearts. We know what we want, but the grown-ups, teachers, and critics in our lives tell us what they want us to do.

I dreamed of becoming a writer when I was in high school, but the adults in my world told me that I would die of starvation if I followed that course. It took me nearly 30 years to get back to what I knew I wanted.

(2) Don’t live someone else’s dream.
When I was in college, I couldn’t seem to settle on any one particular subject. I no longer had a clue what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I tried taking classes in nearly every department. As graduation loomed, my classmates urged me to become a teacher or a nurse. Since I was planning to get married, they felt either career would be good for a wife and mother. I listened to them and decided to become an elementary teacher, since I knew a little bit about a lot of things. I wish I had listened to my own heart.

(3) Stop settling for less.
We are taught from an early age that we are not supposed to get what we want. We learn to resist our desires so that we don’t grow up to be selfish brats. Unfortunately, this puts us into the habit of allowing others to get what they want, while our desires are ignored.

During my first marriage, my husband dictated the type of bedtime attire that I wore. He shopped at Frederick’s of Hollywood, so you can imagine how I looked. I hated feeling like a floozie, tottering around in stilettos and various see-through garments.

After a lot of counseling, I proclaimed my independence by setting fire to everything I wore to bed. I marched into a department store, determined to buy something that I wanted. As I stood there, surrounded by thousands of choices, I realized that I had no clue what I wanted to wear to bed. I burst into tears and went home with nothing. If you’re letting everyone else choose what you want, it’s time to break this nasty habit today.

(4) Jack asks readers to make three 30-item “I want” lists.
This is a device to help us brainstorm what we want out of life. Don’t be surprised if it takes a while, especially if you’re used to letting others tell you what you want. The lists include:

-30 things you want to do before you die;
-30 things you want to have; and
-30 things you want to be.

(5) Next, Jack asks us to make a list of 20 things we love to do; and then think of ways to make a living at it.
This task can be a little more difficult, because many of us can’t think outside the box when it comes to making a living at what we love.

At one point, I decided that I loved to sew. I thought about ways to make a living at it, and by working in a sewing store part-time, I fell into the career of making custom window treatments. I think when we just start doing what we love, the job often follows.

(6) Clarify your vision to include the seven areas of your life, as follows:

-work and career
-recreation and free time
-health and fitness
-personal goals
-community contributions

Many of us know that our lives are out of balance, but we can’t figure out why. When we write down what we want, most of us come to see that there are one or two areas where we’re weak.

For me, recreation and free time are usually blank when I work on this. I was programmed from early on that I must work, work, work. Sitting still meant I was lazy. My parents taught me a good work ethic, but they failed to teach me that it was okay to play, too. I meet a lot of others with this same problem, but we can reverse it through this lesson.

(7) Jack takes the reader through a long process, called the Vision Exercise, on pages 32 and 33 of his book. I highly recommend following it.

My vision exercise took me several days to finish. I decided to create what I call my Dream Book. It’s a three-ring notebook with sheet protectors in it. The pages in it contain personal affirmations, magazine pictures, and photographs of the things I want out of life. I look through it every single day, and it really keeps me on track with my purpose.

(8) Dream big!
Jack points out that people who win big in life are people who dream big. It takes just as long to dream something small as it does to dream something big. And if we envision a big dream, our subconscious will help us to achieve it.

I dreamed of owning a house at a lake. I put that idea into my dream book, and one year later, I was moving in. Without the dream, the house would never have materialized. We attract what we think about.

(9) Don’t let anyone discourage you.
Along the way, someone is going to tell you that your dreams are unrealistic, selfish, un-Christian, or ridiculous. Don’t listen to them. If God put a dream in your heart, he can bring it to reality. All things are possible with God! (Mark 10:27)

(10) Share your vision with a trusted friend.
Throughout this process, we all need an accountability partner. Choose someone you trust (not your critic!) and share your dreams with them. Show them your dream book, and ask them to pray for you. Work together to make sure you stick with this to the end.

My dream book keeps me going, particularly when life throws me a curve ball. After my car accident this summer, I lost the use of my right hand. Every day, I looked at my magazine cut-outs of women doing yoga, and I read the sentence that states, I practice 20 minutes of yoga daily. I never gave up believing that I would once again perform poses that placed high demands on my right wrist and hand. This week, for the first time since the accident, I made it into those demanding yoga poses!

Today’s Challenge:
Set aside time and go someplace quiet to think about what you want. Write it all down. You’ll be amazed by the results!

I  decided to follow my dream of becoming a writer. I have been blessed to have three of my books published.  It is my hope you will enjoy reading them all.

Click on the image below to buy now. Among the Ashes When Hope was Gone Forgiveness


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Be Clear Why You’re Here

Cheryl Denton SuccessWhy are you here?

Everywhere I go, I tell people that the most important thing they can figure out is why God sent them here to this planet at this particular time. I am amazed by how many people have no clue about their purpose.

Without purpose, we are all like ships adrift on wild waves of the ocean. The storms of life can leave us with a toppled mast, torn sails, and a broken rudder. If we’re in a close relationship with someone who has no direction, our life together can feel aimless.

Success Principle #2

I am revisiting Jack Canfield’s “Success Principles.” Principle #2 is to be clear why you’re here. He stresses that when we find joy in our work, we’re probably on the right track.
I think joy is a good place to start, but I believe we experience far more when we are in sync with God’s plan for us. The Bible puts it this way: The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. (Gal. 5:22) When we are doing the one thing that God has planned for us, all of these feelings will eventually fill our hearts.

Jack Canfield also encourages readers to carry out an activity, which I have seen in the book, “What Color is Your Parachute?” The author directs us to think about our greatest skills, the audience for those skills, and the outcome that we would achieve if we put our skills together with the people we feel most passionate about.

Let me illustrate how this works. My greatest skills are writing and encouraging. I relate best to women and children who have been traumatized or abused. When I apply my skills to this audience, amazing things happen. I hear heart-breaking stories of abuse and trauma, and then I see relief. Each time we reveal our darkest secrets, we empower ourselves to move forward. So, here’s my life’s purpose:

My purpose is to use my gifts of writing and encouragement to teach women and children new life skills so that they can learn how to thrive.

Today’s Challenge:
Of all the Success Principles we will discuss, this one is the most important. Nail down your purpose, and the rest is easy. If you’re having trouble figuring it out, just sit in a quiet place and ask God to tell you. He knows where you’re going, and I’m sure he would be happy to guide you. All you have to do is listen.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jer 29:11)

I  decided to follow my dream of becoming a writer. I have been blessed to have three of my books published.  It is my hope you will enjoy reading them all.

Click on the image below to buy now.
 Ashes Hope Forgive Covers 150


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Take Responsibility for Your Life

For the next 64 days, I am going to apply Jack Canfield’s Success Principles to my own life and share my results with you. I encourage you to join me on this journey.

Success Principle #1: Take 100% Responsibility for Your Life

Give up all of your excuses for the way your life has turned out.
I am entirely responsible for every choice I have made in response to the challenges of life. Jack Canfield uses the following equation to help us quit blaming and complaining:

E + R = O
Event + Response = Outcome

I have given up focusing on the painful circumstances of my past. It’s amazing how doing so has allows me to see that God wants me to encourage others with stories of his provision during hard times.

You have complete control of three things:

  • your thoughts
  • the images you visualize
  • the actions you take

I created a dream book to help me visualize what I want. It reminds me to take actions that will guide me closer to my goals. I reviewed it and discovered that many of my dreams, such as the publication of Among the Ashes, have actually been fulfilled before I expected them to be. Why? Because I was thanking God for them in advance.

God has provided you with the Holy Spirit to guide you throughout life.

Proverbs 3:5 (MSG) reads, “Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.”

Whenever I sense that God is telling me, “Wait,” or “No,” or “Later,” I listen. This has not always been true, and it has caused me a lot of trouble. When in doubt, I pray and then read Scripture. God never fails to give me answers to my most pressing problems.

Respond quickly and decisively to events in order to get more of what you want out of life.

I used to wring my hands over every decision I made, often missing out on opportunities. Today, I go to God for direction first. If he gives me the green light, I step out in faith and trust that he will provide.

Do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
I’ve come to understand that there are some people who don’t appreciate me or who don’t want my help. There are many others who admire me and seek out my guidance. Now, I’m spending more of my energy doing things for people who are grateful for my experience and wisdom.

Today’s Challenge: Spend the rest of today observing the results that you’re producing from your life. Let me know if you’ve been getting what you want.

I  decided to follow my dream of becoming a writer. I have been blessed to have three of my books published.  It is my hope you will enjoy reading them all.

Click on the image below to buy now.
 Among the Ashes When Hope was Gone Forgive Cheryl Denton

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Do You Believe in a Lopsided God?

My post, “God Opposes the Proud” stirred up some debate about whether or not prideful people experience God’s discipline. I’d like to tell you why I think God is not just a warm and fuzzy, everybody’s-going-to-heaven kind of god. I’d also like to explain why I think he’s not just a horrible, punishing, angry god who zaps everyone with lightning bolts over every tiny infraction.

I believe that God is more like a well-balanced tire than a lopsided feather comforter with all of the stuffing shoved to one end. The Bible clearly tells us about God’s character. God is an invisible, spiritual being who knows all things, has the wisdom to choose what is best for his children, and speaks only the truth in all matters. (Read John 4:24, John 1:18, I John 3:20, Job 12:13, and John 17:3.)

God has 10 moral character traits, including:

1.  goodness (Luke 18:19)

2.  love (I John 4:8)

3.  mercy (Psalm 103:8)

4.  grace (I Peter 5:10)

5.  patience (Romans 2:4)

6.  holiness (Isaiah 6:3)

7.  peace (I Corinthians 14:33)

8.  righteousness (Deuteronomy 32:4)

9.  justice (Isaiah 45:19)

10. jealousy (Exodus 20:5)

We all like it when God pours out his goodness, love, grace, mercy, and patience on us. But to believe that these warm and fuzzy traits make up the full extent of God’s character is wrong. Giving him only these five attributes makes him very lopsided.

We must look closely at the last five moral attributes of God, too. If we believe that he knows all things and brings about what is best for us, we must accept the fact that our jealous God, who is holy, peace-loving, and righteous, cannot allow his children to behave outside of his boundaries of justice. He disciplines his children, just as we here on earth discipline our own children.

Because God loves us, he holds us to a very high standard: we are to take on those same ten attributes listed above. This is an incredibly high bar that has been set for us. Jesus was perfection in flesh. Of course, it will take lots of discipline to form us into beings who resemble Christ!

God is not a lopsided, warm and fuzzy guy who is issuing certificates of eternal life to all people upon their deaths. He is a strong, well-rounded, and balanced being who uses all of his attributes to make us balanced, well-rounded people, thoroughly prepared for eternity with him.

Today’s Question
What kind of god do you believe in?

From The Road to Forgiveness:  Removing the Roadblocks by Cheryl Denton, 2012.




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How Can I Manage Anger?

Anger is often the biggest roadblock to forgiveness. Since it’s Anger Awareness Week (Dec 1-7), I’d like to share with you some anger management tips from my book, The Road to Forgiveness:  Removing the Roadblocks.

Repressed anger leads to many new problems.
When I was small, I was never allowed to express emotions. If I shouted and laughed, I was told to pipe down. If I got angry, I was punished for expressing myself. If I was sad, I was told to turn off the tears. If this sounds familiar, you may be stuffing your anger, just as I learned to do.

Some people try to cover up their anger. Do yourself a huge favor: don’t bury your anger under things such as comfort food, alcohol, prescription drugs, illegal drugs, pornography, excessive TV viewing, over-work, silence, or any other avoidance activity that only leaves you feeling worse.

Anger can be justified or displaced.
Justified anger, sometimes known as righteous anger, occurs when something happens to upset God’s order. When we hear on the news that a child has been kidnapped, murdered, and left in a creek bed; righteous anger kicks in. It’s a feeling that tells us someone has broken God’s command to love one another.

Displaced anger, on the other hand, shows up unexpectedly to events that may not even warrant it. A man who goes to the hospital for a simple operation which turns into a heart attack gets angry at the doctors and nurses. When a snowstorm prevents his wife from driving to the hospital to visit him, he’s angry at her.

Anger often masquerades as a cover-up feeling for fear. Perhaps this man is fearful of his own mortality, the loss of his wife’s love, or the prospect of living as an invalid.

This anger he feels today may also be stemming from old hurts that he has not processed. If he was abused or neglected as a child, his basic needs for safety, nurturing, protection, and love were probably not fulfilled. His hospital experience may be churning up that repressed anger from decades ago, and now it is aimed at all the wrong people. Hence, we have the term, displaced anger.

Follow The Three Rs to manage anger.
We must make a conscious decision to respond differently to things that anger us, otherwise we will just become known as perpetually angry people. Understanding that lashing out in anger is hurtful to us, we can follow three simple steps to make sure that we don’t sin in our anger. I call this process The Three Rs: Remove, Review, and Reason.

Every single time we feel ourselves getting angry; we can remove ourselves from the situation before we do something we will regret later. We can take a walk, breathe deeply, or try some gentle stretching. Remember Proverbs 30:33 (NIV): As the beating of cream yields butter and striking the nose causes bleeding, so stirring up anger causes quarrels.

We must not turn our time-out into another avoidance tactic, though. When we are calm, we must continue onto the next step.

We can memorize a Scripture passage, such as Proverbs 15:1 (NIV) and review it until our anger simmers down: A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Repeating the passage to ourselves until we feel more peaceful helps to dampen the fires of anger.

When we have calmed down, we can take out our journal and write down the real reasons why we are angry. We can look at the situation and consider what happened.

Was someone behaving badly because they were afraid, lonely, needy, out of control, or being pushed around by someone else? Is our anger telling us that something about our relationship with this person needs to change? Or are we dwelling on that old, displaced anger that continues to fester within our souls?

Get professional help.
If anger is the roadblock that is preventing us from forgiving someone, we can seek the help of a professional counselor, psychologist, or specialist to help us re-program the faulty wiring in our brains. With their guidance, we can learn how to avoid anger and fear as knee-jerk reactions to conflict.


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Reactive Attachment Disorder in Abused Children

R.A.D. is a term no foster or adoptive parent wants to see in their child’s file. It stands for Reactive Attachment Disorder, and treating it in older kids can be pretty daunting.

My husband and I adopted 8-year-old twins from Ethiopia in 2005. Although we were assured they were both healthy and developmentally on target, we soon discovered neither fact was true.

Both girls received diagnoses of severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), Psychotic Personality Disorder, parasite infestations, and multiple developmental delays. One of them also suffered from the deformity of one foot, mild cerebral palsy, and a language disorder.

These medical labels arose from repeated sexual abuse since infancy, child labor, torture, near-starvation, and neglect during their first five years in the slums of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Their mother had died of AIDS, leaving them alone to roam the back alleys and scrub tile floors for neighbors to earn enough each day to share one egg.

Their symptoms included night terrors, exaggerated startle responses, sexual acting out,  defiant behaviors, food hoarding, lying, and doing whatever they could to push us away. Before they finally forced us to disrupt the adoption, one threatened suicide while self-inflicting numerous injuries, and the other attempted to kill herself by jumping from her bedroom window. Fortunately, my husband grabbed her before she leaped.

Treating RAD in children under the age of four may result in the child forming an attachment to one or two caregivers. But in older children, the undertaking often ends in failure for families. In our case, we had to make the heart-rending decision to place our twins in a group home with other children suffering from RAD.

Eight years later, we are starting over in the foster care system, with the hope of adopting. This time, we’re accepting only newborn infants so we have a fighting chance to help them attach to us.

I have addressed the difficulties of caring for abused children with RAD in my latest novel, When Hope was Gone. To get your paperback or ebook version, click here.

Please add your comments about your knowledge of or experiences with an abused child with RAD.


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Where is Cleveland kidnapping victim, Michelle Knight?

Cleveland kidnapping victim, Michelle Knight, disappeared from the hospital on Friday evening. No one seems to know where she has gone, including her own mother. Everyone is wondering why she would dodge from view like this.

Where is Michelle Knight?

Anyone coping with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) would probably know the multiple choice answer to the question, “Where is Michelle Knight?”

a) She’s been kept in the dark, and she can’t tolerate the bright light of reality yet.
b) Her assailant battered her face so badly, she feels unbearable embarrassment.
c) As the oldest of the three girls, she feels guilty for not saving the other victims years ago.
d) She sees herself as a coward who didn’t have the guts to stand up to her perpetrator.
e) Fear of being kidnapped again by her perpetrator forces her to keep running.
f) Crowds terrify her, because she doesn’t know if someone might harm her.
g) She’s exhausted from looking over her shoulder for imminent danger.
h) She is finally grieving the murder of her five unborn babies.
i) She feels ashamed and dirty after being sexually violated.
j) She is so depressed, she can’t stop crying.
k) She no longer trusts anyone, other than herself.
l) She is contemplating suicide.
m) She has been brain-washed into believing she is a psychopathic sexual predator, just like her captor. She is searching for their next victim.
n)  She is so angry, she is contemplating how she might murder her perpetrator.
o) People are telling her to forgive and forget. She rejects this advice, because she is not ready to forgive and can never forget what happened.
p) All of the above
q) None of the above

Without family or close friends to support her, Michelle Knight may not be able to cope with the stress that follows such a horrifying and long-term experience. The family of Gina DeJesus is willing to adopt Michelle as their own, but she must make the decision to step out of the shadows and try to trust again.

I will be praying for her to take that step of faith, remembering Ecclesiastes 4:11-12 (MSG). If you sleep alone, you won’t have anyone to keep you warm on a cold night. Someone might be able to beat up one of you, but not both of you. As the saying goes, “A rope made from three strands of cord is hard to break.”

Which multiple choice answer would you choose? Why?

You can learn how to help others with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Click here to preview Cheryl Denton’s book, The Road to Forgiveness:  Removing the Roadblocks.

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