Feeling Wheel

I am not sure when I was introduced to a “feeling wheel,” but in the last few months, I was given a feeling wheel at a meditation class, and a college professor discussed how counselors use them to help clients find words to explain how they feel. For Valentines Day, my wife and I gave each of our college-age kids a “feeling wheel.” Dr. Gloria Wilcox is believed to have developed the “feeling wheel. Here is a brief document with a “feeling wheel” description by Dr. Wilcox, including an exercise.

Below are two feeling wheels, the first published by The Gottman Institute and the second by Geoffrey Roberts.

Click to download a pdf version of The-Gottman-Institute_The-Feeling-Wheel


I Feel – Emotional Word Wheel – The Feel Wheel by Geoffrey Roberts

Click to download the second feeling wheel and hear from Geoffrey Roberts.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ted Talks with Tips on Navigating the Challenge of Anxiety

Just listened to these two Ted talks where the speaker is honest about their difficulties with anxiety; they offered solutions to anxiety struggles.

Note: A while back, someone suggested I watch a Ted Talk on not taking things personally. After listening to the above to videos, I plan on relistening to the Ted Talk I just mentioned.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I was/am an Emotional Externalizer, but with God’s grace, the bible, prayer, counseling, 12-steps, deep relationships, and more, making forward progress to becoming an Emotional Internalizer, only complete in Heaven.

Have you ever interacted with someone who regularly projects themselves as the victim, is easily offended, and is passive-aggressive? That was me and even today when I am tired, I can fall back into these types of behaviors. Dr. Weiss explains this type of person is an “emotional externalizer.” Dr. Weiss provides eleven characteristics of an “emotional externalizer” in a podcast. I identified the most with these four characteristics.

Number four: being the victim, Number six: they’re very easily offended, Number ten: They’re prone to medicate, Number eleven: Passive aggressiveness

Love and Sex Today with Dr. Doug Weiss, Emotional Externalizer Podcast

I am working on taking ownership of my emotions, growing emotionally, seeing everyone as equal, and empowering others. These are four characteristics of an “emotional internalizer” as Dr. Weiss states in his podcast which can be read or listened to from the link below.

Number one: They’re responsible for their emotions, Number four: They tend to grow emotionally, Number eight: They see with equality, Number eleven: They are empowering.

Love and Sex Today with Dr. Doug Weiss, Emotional Internalizer Podcast

As I mentioned, I have a history of being an “emotional externalizer.” Thankfully, God now has me in a place where I increasingly have self-awareness of when my emotions are external. God’s grace, reading the bible (verses like Romans 12:1-2 below), prayer, individual counseling, a 12-steps recovery group, and practicing being emotionally vulnerable continue to help me make progress in increasingly be an “emotional internalizer.” I have a goal to own my emotions and to be more assertive, also characteristics of an “emotional internalizer.” I am very thankful.

A Living Sacrifice 12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:1-2 English Standard Version

Place Your Life Before God 12 1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

Romans 12:10-2 The Message
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Grace and the Consequence (s) of Bitterness

Something that I have always struggled with is not feeling heard or feeling misunderstood and when I don’t feel heard or feel misunderstood, I harbor resentments.

Thankfully, in the last several years, God has given me an awareness of this character flaw from being part of a couple of groups and counseling. Today, I am more likely to ask someone what they mean when I am at risk of harboring resentments from the interaction. This step has been freeing for me as it helps me understand and externalize, not internalize what I feel. One of the most important lessons I have learned by asking people what they mean is that the negative thinking in my head is just that, in my head. The other person didn’t have a problem with me.

Hebrews 12:14-15 is a reminder to me of the biblical truth of how bitterness is toxic to me and anyone I interact with and how the grace of God is sufficient. And without grace and living with bitterness, there is a severe consequence. That is, I won’t see God. The ESV version of Hebrews 12:14 includes the people I interact with not seeing God, either, when I don’t exhibit grace, which I certainly don’t want.

The AA Big Book Step 7 Prayer has helped me turn feelings of bitterness over to God.

“My Creator,

I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad.

I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows.

Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding.

Amen.” (Step 7 Prayer, AA Big Book)


14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 


Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise, you’ll never get so much as a glimpse of God. Make sure no one gets left out of God’s generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why I Finally Read Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

Over the years I have been encouraged to read Pilgrim’s Progress by Paul Bunyan. I purchased the book more than once, but each time, I just read a few pages of the book. Recently, someone suggested I read Pilgrim’s Progress, many times, after I explained how I didn’t feel as if I was making spiritual progress in my walk with God. The last time he suggested, he asked, “did you know Charles Spurgeon read Pilgrim’s Progress over 100 times.

Charles Spurgeon loved John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. He first read the book as a young boy, and he began his commentary on the classic with these words: “Next to the Bible, the book I value most is John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. I believe I have read it through at least a hundred times. It is a volume of which I never seem to tire; and the secret of its freshness is that it is so largely compiled from the Scriptures.” As Spurgeon said elsewhere, he loved Bunyan because Bunyan bled Bible.

Justin Taylor, The Gospel Coalition

I reluctantly dusted off one of my copies of Pilgrim’s Progress and began to read, figuring if Charles Spurgeon read over 100 times, I should at least read once. The version of Pilgrim’s Progress I have starts with a lengthy introduction about the author, noting how Bunyon spent time in prison twice, one time about 12 years. The historians are not exactly sure if Bunyan wrote Pilgrim’s Progress while being in jail or not, but regardless, it seems the time in prison gave him much to read his bible.

I read the first 100 pages of Pilgrim’s Progress in print and then listened to the book in its entirety with an audio version. I now know why my friend kept encouraging me to read the book, as it has helped me wrestle with my relationship with God and understand the pitfalls of being of the world.

In January, the friend who recommended I read Pilgrim’s Progress and several other men and I will read through the book together. I’m looking forward to this journey with them. Please email me if you would like to join us. We will meet Wednesday evenings at 6:45 PM (in-person and via Zoom).

Pilgrim’s Progress, available free for Kindle

Pilgrim’s Progress, for sale on Amazon.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“The Best Explanation of Addiction I’ve Ever Heard” – Dr. Gabor Maté

Thankful to have someone suggest I listen to wisdom from Dr. Gabor Mate’

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Friend recommended I watch the TEDx talk “How not to take things personally?” by Frederik Imbro

If you were to meet me, you would quickly learn that I have a pension to take most anything personally. As I develop better self-awareness, I am beginning to understand that for almost every instance of me taking things; personally, the negative thought is in my head, not the person’s behavior in question. This Ted talk by Frederik Imbo helped me in my journey to not take what someone says to me personally.

Another TEDx talk I found helpful. “Own Your Behaviours, Master Your Communication, Louise Evans | TEDxGenova

And another TEDx talk “Increase your self-awareness with one simple fix.” Tasha Eurich | TEDxMileHigh. And an article in Harvard Business Review by Tasha Eurich including helpful info graphics.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Emotionally Healthy Relationships by Pete Scazzero

I am close to completing my second 8-week journey through the Emotionally Healthy Relationships material. The material is helpful and convicting.

My problem, turning the valuable EHR tools into a habit, tools like “climbing the ladder of integrity.” I climbed the ladder of integrity a few times, learning how I often create negative feelings about situations in my head, and actually, they are only in my head.

The devotional I read last week (from the 40-day devotional book that’s part of the EHR resources) encouraged me to; seeing how “saint makers” in my life are indeed a blessing for my spiritual growth.

My action item: Send this post to my friends and ask them to ask me how I’m doing in my commitment to change, adding EMF tools to my daily life, and in the process, increasing my spiritual maturity.

Blog post from Emotionally Healthy Relationships


How can this be true? The answer is simple: If I pray and spend large amounts of time and energy meditating on Scripture, fasting, silence, solitude, along with other spiritual disciplines, but do not love my enemies, it is not worth much. I think I am finally connecting the dots that the degree to which I love my enemies really does indicate the measure of my spiritual maturity. I have some growth to do! I attempted to summarize my learnings on this in my sermon last Sunday on Isaiah 58 called “Love Your Enemies, the ‘Saint Makers.”   I began by asking: “Who is your enemy today (someone who drives you crazy, irritates you, you avoid or resent, or simply have a hard time loving)? The following are a few of the themes I continue to meditate on this week as I ask God to help me connect what I so often disconnect:

1. Nothing is more important than learning not to despise others, i.e. harden our hearts against people, deciding they are not worthy of love.  (Note: “despise” is a synonym for “judge.”)

2. The whole of the Christian life can be summarized as the refusal to judge and despise others.

3. A spiritual person hides the faults of others rather than expose them. “Interior freedom is not yet possessed by anyone who cannot close his eyes to the fault of a friend, whether real or apparent” (Maximus the Confessor, theologian 600’s).

4. A person can be so right they are wrong (i.e., if it comes out of a hard, despising heart).

5. Nothing is more important than learning that your enemy is a ‘saint-maker.’ The place to get connected to God is with your “enemy.” They are not interruptions but gifts sent from Him.

6. The more we draw close to God in love, the more we are united to our neighbor in love. Our solitude with God is meant to connect us to people, not separate us from them (Dorotheus of Gaza, 6th century).  The place to get connected to your “enemy” is with God. Thus we so desperately need silence and solitude with Him.

7.  When you despise someone, you despise Christ. When you harden your heart to someone, you harden your heart to Christ . As Jesus said, “Whatever you did to the least of them, you did to me” (Matt. 25). And why do  you think it is so easy for us to have such a wide and deep disconnect between our love for God and our love for our enemy?

Posted in Broken Hearted, Self-Help, Sin, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

God’s Faithfulness in Mom’s Special Life

Psalm 23 tribute to Mom – read during Mom’s funeral (click here to watch funeral)

My Brother, Sister and I want to thank you all for being with us in this room and on the livestream today March 1, 2021) celebrating Sherry Christenson’s life.

I once heard a speaker (Dananjaya Hettiarachchi) who asked the audience if anyone had a cool dad. He then said, take all of your cool dads, put them all together, and you have my cool dad. As I think of Sherry Christenson (Mom), I think of a special person. Does anyone here have/had a special Mom? Well, take all of your special Moms, put them all together, and you have our special Mom.

Answering the question of what made Mom special is complex. My Brother, Sister, and I, and maybe everyone here, knew Mom as a special mother, a special teacher and a special assistant to Dad’s ministry. When we kids moved away from home, she was still our special Mom, but Mom changed her focus, and became more special. Mom was hurting without kids around; she replaced this hurt with increased reliance on Jesus, and Mom and Dad started working on their marriage which had been a corporation previously (Dad’s definition) where he had his duties and Mom had hers. Their relationship developed into a beautiful and evolving partnership. They would regularly be seen holding hands.

Fast forward, in 2012, Mom almost died after being struck by a car, then, later that same year, Dad unexpectedly died. During this low valley, Mom started to become extra special, increasing day by day until February 21, 2021, when she went to be with Jesus.

I will speak more today about the special Mom since Dad passed. You see, Mom found herself without a soul mate and without the purpose she had in supporting Dad’s ministry and their farm business. Mom had faith in God, but she was incredibly empty without Dad. Through Mom’s brokenness, she learned how to rely on God in new ways.

Psalm 23, Verse 1,2 & 3 (KJ)

23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Psalm 23 had deep and special meaning to Mom. Verse one reminds us that with God; we lack nothing. Mom began to transform as a person, where she had comfort in the security Dad brought to her life; she began to replace this security in a Deeping relationship with God, reminding herself in Psalm 23:1 that with God, she lacks nothing. Mom had a post it note by her computer screen. Zephaniah 3:17. “He takes great delight in you.”

One Christmas soon after Dad died, we gathered at my sisters in Omaha. On a whim, we decided to look at homes for Mom in Omaha. We were not too serious about it as Mom had told us she intended to stay in O’Neill until she was at least 80. Psalm 23:3 explains how God guides us on the right paths. The first home we saw, we all knew was the place for Mom. Close to my sister, backing up to a small lake, this home would give Mom joy and comfort for the rest of her life. 

Psalm 23:2 speaks of leading us to quiet waters. Once settled in her knew home, Mom’s next-door neighbor invited her to a bible study. After a few years, Mom ended up hosting the Flatland Bible Study group. Mom found quiet waters, learning about Jesus and building new relationships. Mom also cherished the Lite Care Group at Westside church, water aerobics, and a book club. Mom also enjoyed lunch most Sundays with one of her Grandson. Mom was amazed by the love and care she received from her new Omaha family. Mom was even on the board of the community she lived in. Something that came as a welcome surprise to us.

She continued to keep her ties to O’Neill friends as well, lots and lots of phone calls, also to her sister and brothers, and to Dads, sister, and brothers. After I spoke with Pastor Paul Harder last week, among many stories he shared, this one stood out to me. He said, Allen was a key part of the leadership of Faith Community Church from it’s very beginning, so Sherry was intimately involved as well.  One of the big emphases at FCC was and is prayer – so right away in the early days, we started a prayer chain, and Sherry helped lead that ministry.  We didn’t have computers and cell phones back in that day, so everything had to be handled personally through phone calls.  So folks would call Sherry, and then she would be careful to write everything down precisely, and then she had to call 5 other households and communicate the exact information, and they in turn would start it down their chains.  Sherry spent hours faithfully carrying out that responsibility. Mom was a leader in her faith, and was truly special in her devotion and dedication to God and Faith Community Church.

Psalm 23: 4,5 and 6 (KJ).

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Psalm 23:4 speaks of dark valleys, but not being alone, but with God for support and comfort. Mom reminded herself regular to rest in Jesus. I mentioned how Mom is special. Here reliance on God was growing beautifully through this time. Mom had plenty of reasons to be angry at God, to be bitter, to complain, to seek self-pity. She didn’t. She increased the time she invested in others. For Reed, Shelly and me, she was still our special Mom, but she was now additionally a special friend.

Psalm 23:5 talks about taking care of us in spite of our enemies. Pulmonary fibrosis was her primary enemy. This disease was relentless, but this didn’t slow down, Mom. Mom went to her water aerobics class, tethered to an oxygen tank – scuba diving this was not. COVID-19 became her enemy, too, as it grounded her from attending church, going for walks in Hobby Lobby, going to concerts, or flying back east to my family and my brother. Mom referred to John 15:2 frequently. This verse speaks to how God prunes us, trimming off branches, making us more Christ-like. Mom would say, looks like I must have more pruning to go, or how can I have any branches left. Mom wasn’t complaining but affirming her faith in Jesus, becoming a little more special.

Finally, and the best part. Psalm 23:6, we have confidence God will be with us through the ups and downs in life and eternity in Heaven, forever. In the last few weeks of life, Mom was in significant discomfort, not being able to breathe. As she recited this Psalm before she went to sleep every night, she almost shouted…forever, forever, forever, forever, I’ll be in the house of the Lord.

Mom, we will miss you every day, but we have confidence you are in eternity with God, forever. Thank you, Jesus, for making Mom special.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why Do I Get Defensive?

If you have spent time with me, you have seen me get defensive over both the trivial and the significant. It has only been the last few years that I have started to have self-awareness of my defensive nature, and for this, I am thankful. In a men’s group, I participated in, each week, we held each other accountable using a “commitment to change” Pure Desire tool, and I would work on not being defensive; with little progress.

Thankfully, along the way, I have started to see my defensiveness as part of who I am, acknowledge it as a sin, and that it may not go away. A talk (Christ’s Power is Made Perfect in Weakness) by John Piper, where he spoke about the Apostle Paul’s ‘thorn in his flesh,’ helped me understand that my weaknesses are a blessing. The talk from piper talks about how to pray during struggles and much, much more.

I have learned that my defensive nature mostly only hurts others when I open my mouth. This understanding has been a tremendous help as all I have to do is keep my mouth shut. Invariably, my pride shows up, and I say something I regret. When this happens, I need to be better, apologize, explain my struggle with being defensive, and ask people to please let me know when they see me being defensive.

So why do I get defensive? I have a sinful nature. I find comfort in learning about myself and knowing that God is renewing my mind, little by little, His perfect timing, not mine.

Romans 12:2 (ESV) “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

PS: I just reread a couple other posts on building relationships, good reminders for myself.

Daily Temperature Reading (DTR) by Eric Moore, adapted from @PAIRSFOUNDATION

Restoring Broken Fellowship: Getting Along with One Another by @RickWarren
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment