Category Archives: Blog Posts

Trying to Find My Way Home…through music

Music can make us laugh, calm us down, rile us to action and move us to tears.  It can be a powerful tool in helping us deal with and overcome different aspects of PTSD.

Jason Moon, a Veteran and song writer, captures a small part of the struggle that many face when returning home.  In this case it is coupled with the visual arts in the video.

Question: What do you think of the song?

(On January 24, 2014 we will be releasing an episode of the podcast exploring how the role of music in our recovery process.)

Music, Art and Recovery…

Music and art—including movies, poetry, pictures and paintings—can move us emotionally.  We each of may have different tastes and we may be move by one thing or another; but there is something that will affect each of us.

Can music help in the coping with or healing of PTSD?  In our next podcast episode we will consider some of the scientific research into this topic.  We will also look at the more personal side of what each of us experience when we listen to music.

Until then, here is link to one bloggers take on Music, Art, and Poetry that I find interesting:

Question: How has music be beneficial in your life?

If you could not fail, what would you set out to achieve?

Imagine a world in which it is possible to overcome anxiety, to successfully deal with stress and to grow stronger following traumatic events, to be successful in business, to have healthy relationships.  Well, that world exists and we live in it!

One of the surest ways to not achieve something is to not try.  The old adage, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”, still rings true.

We do not have to wait for the New Year to get started on the rest of our lives.  We can START to make changes now (7 our series on Change: part 1part 2part 3) .  Today is a new day.

You may have desires to accomplish new heights in relationships, work, business or health.  You may desire to overcome anxiety, fear or things from the past.  Whatever it is, you can start a new path today.

Perhaps fear of failing hinders us from attempting or even setting goals. (See: Is Fear Holding You Back?)  Whatever it is, it can be dealt with and overcome.

What can we do to help?  This post links to some other resources on our site.  If there is something else we can do, please let us know.

Michael Hyatt, in his free video, “5 Days to Your Best Year Ever Part 1” has a lot to offer.  In this video you will find encouragement to get started, make it through the messy middle to the joy of final accomplishment.

Question: If you could not fail, what would you set out to achieve?  Share you goals and desires in the comments sections.

Additional resources available from Michale Hyatt at

Can peace be experienced in the midst of chaos? Part 1 of 2

Hurricane_Isabel_ISS“Just make it go away!”  Many of us can relate to this desire to escape or just get rid of a problem we are facing.  At times circumstances in our lives can seem overwhelming.  It is no wonder why many turn to substances (alcohol/drugs) or unhealthy levels of certain activities (shopping, gambling, eating, etc.), in order to try and cope with their circumstances.

There is no escape.  These things may provide a diversion.  The reality of the problems still remain.  Our attempts to alter the perception of reality do nothing to the real situation.

Is it possible to experience a peace, and the resulting clarity and strength, in the middle of whatever is happening?

YES!  This has been my experience.  And not my experience alone.  Many followers of Jesus Christ report the same experience.  One such follower is Paul, the Apostle.  He wrote in his letter to the Christians at the city of Philippi in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey): “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6, 7 – NRSV)

Sometimes we may confuse the idea of “prayer” with wish making or demands.  St. Paul, in prison for his faith at the time of writing, expresses prayer as “requests”—not demands.  When we use prayer as some magical wish or demand formula we miss the relational aspect God is offering.

God does not sit on high and only have an abstract connection with our suffering.  He entered into our suffering.  Jesus lived a life that included much suffering.  He still enters our suffering every time we call upon Him. 

People, in their freedom, may choose to hurt us.  They may choose to do wrong to others for whom we care.  At times there seems to be no shortage of people choosing to do hurtful acts.  No matter what others choose to do; God will never leave us alone in our distress.

From my perspective I would rather God simply remove the problems, problem people, etc.  However, God most often does not choose to violate our (or other’s) human freedom.  At the same time He will provide all that we need to make it through the difficult environment we create for ourselves or others create that impacts our lives.  His presence, strength, wisdom and peace are available to all who call upon the Name of the Lord.

If all our problems were removed then the peace Paul speaks of would not go “beyond understanding.”  It is understandable to experience peace in the absence of conflict or adversity.  A peace that “goes beyond understanding” is a peace experienced in the middle of turmoil and chaos.

In Part 2 we will consider some examples of experience God’s peace and provision in the midst of our troubles.

Question: Have you ever experience a peace that “goes beyond understanding”?

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What do you do when one thing piles upon another? 3 suggestions…

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Sometimes things happen on top of things that happen on top of other things.  Sound familiar?  If it were not familiar than statements like, “When it rains it pours,” would not be so common.

This has not been an uncommon theme in my experience as a pastor and a coach.  Often the events seem to be unrelated.  Physical illness, loos a job, car breaks down, furnace breaks, dog gets sick, a close friend passes…  You get the picture.  It could be any number of things that pile up one each other—on you.  And if you are already dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress or anxiety…

  1. Double down on what you know works.  This is the time to stand firm.  Take a breath and review all the tools you have already acquired.  What has worked for you in the past: exercise, healthy food choices, meditation, prayer, study, and time with friends, action…?  This is likely different for each of us.  Stand strong in all that you know how to do to deal with adversity.  If that is not enough, learn new strategies to deal with adversity!  The more difficult the circumstance the greater possibility for growth.
  2. Reach out for help!  Humble yourself and let trusted resources know you are struggling.  Let them know how they could help.  Don’t dump your problems on them.  Rather, let them know how they could help you solve or deal with one of the issues.
  3. Consider reaching out to help another person.  (listen to our podcast: “3 Reasons to Reach Out To Help“) When things seem to be snowballing in our lives it can be helpful to take some of the focus off of our circumstances and reach out to help someone else through something difficult in their lives.  This is not to deny the reality of our situation.  Rather, it helps contextualize our situation.  We also seem to receive so much more when we give.

Question:  What do you do that is helpful with everything seems to be happening at the same time?  Or What affect do other life circumstances have on PTSD?

Is fear holding you back?

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Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

Most people I know admit that fear affects their decision making in some way.  In a way that they feel usually holds them back from attempting to accomplish something new.  To overcome this fear it may not be enough to simply recognize its existence.  It is a start to recognize that fear is fueling an internal distraction; but all that might do is bring to your awareness that something is holding you back.

Many offer what appears to be a simplistic solution such as, “Just go for it!  Get over it!” Or they may share a cliché such as “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”.  As true as these statements are, the often fall short of releasing someone, or equipping someone to move forward with confidence and competence.

It can be difficult to overcome a nebulas obstacle.  For many identifying and understanding the source of the fear can be an important part of moving beyond the fear into new areas of success.  This process should not devolve into an endless loop of self-pity.  It should be with the intent of addressing and ultimately overcoming the obstacle.  This process itself takes courage!

Some shrink away from this process are assert that this sort of what they may call “navel-gazing” as pointless.  If it turns into navel-gazing, I would agree.  If we become self-absorbed and stuck in the fear or the past we are not addressing and overcoming.  Yet if we do not face and deal with whatever reality is holding us back then we are not likely to be able to boldly move forward.

The first step may be to acknowledge and accept that there is some fear holding you back.  Don’t stop there!  Courageously and patiently move forward.  If you feel stuck, have the courage to reach out for assistance.  Sometimes friends can help.  If not, a counselor, mentor, pastor or coach can help identify the core elements that may be holding you back.

It takes work to overcome our internal obstacles; but the rewards are great.  When we overcome these things we are free to act; and even free to not act.  In our freedom we may find that our lives take on an entirely different direction then we expected when fear was guiding our thinking.

Some will not enter into treatment for PTSD, or any other issue, because of fear.  Fear that they will be seen as week.  Fear that the treatment won’t work.  Or many other fear based obstacles.  We can overcome fear.  For me, as my faith in God grows stronger fear starts to take a back seat.

Today is the day that can start to turn around.  If you need someone to walk this part of your journey with you contact me at

How have you overcome fear in the past?  Please share your experience in our components section (at the top of the post).


Struggling with Physical, Psychological, Spiritual Pain

BW Soldier Hand on face(In this post I share a bit of my personal struggles in the hope that it will encourage those in need to press on in their journey.  Struggling is a normal part of our human existence. We can grow and overcome obstetrical.  You do not have to do it alone. Peace, David Fell)

I have experienced physical pain and struggles as a result of the war in Iraq.  I have also experience emotional and psychological pain as a result of the same war.  Both are extremely difficult to handle; and keep handling day after day. 

The psychological/emotional has the added difficulty as they deal with the brain and mind—areas that are still taboo for many in our society.  This kind of wound may not be visible to the naked eye.  Nevertheless, they are just as real and just as physical as the physical struggles I experience in my lungs and elsewhere in my body.

Struggles, even pain, has been a part of my spiritual journey.  One aspect (among many) of this struggle is facing the difficult questions of believing in a good God and yet facing such evil, apparent injustice and destruction.  I know some convincing philosophical and theological answers to these questions. At times these intellectual answers prove to be little comfort.  At the same time I have experienced a peace that goes beyond comprehension.

No quick fix:  The doctors tell me that there is no solution for my lung problem—nor any effective treatment at the time.  For some of the other physical problems (diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, cataracts, neuropathy…) there are treatments, some unpleasant, tedious and burdensome; but treatment to limit and slow future damage.  Yet it is hard to not be at least a little peeved that all these problems showed up when I was young and having lived a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a healthy weigh.

There has been some help for the nightmares, anxiety and other aspect of the psychological struggles (Post-Traumatic Stress).  I say some because there is a long way to go.  I have found many things that were of limited benefit toward recovery and growth. Some of these things that did not help me are helpful to others.  Even those “failed” attempts have been helpful in helping my understanding and ability to assist others on the journey. 

The Hope and Restoration Team (HART) understands struggles, endurance, and pressing forward.  There are unique aspects to each of our struggles.  As such, no one can completely understand what you are facing.  Nevertheless, we do understand struggles that involve the physical, psychological and spiritual.

You can help those in need!  Here are several options: Liking our Facebook page.  Share this blog and podcast! Organize a RESTORE seminar for your company, organization, church, civic group.  Share your story.  We are looking for people willing to share their stories of facing difficult life challenges on different kinds on our Podcast:Healing The Wounds of War: Hope & Restoration for PTSD”.  For any of the above, contact me at

How can we serve you?

Stressed? How about a cup of tea?

Coffee cupWhen we feel stress we are experiencing the effect of the chemicals in our bodies involved in the stress response.  Cortisol is one of the key chemical hormones involved in our body’s response to stress.  It also plays an important role in the normal function of many systems in our body’s.  The levels normally fluctuate through the day.  When stress occurs our body releases a large amount to aid in the fight/flight response.

Cortisol is an important part of a stress response.  It helps our hearts beet faster, our blood vessels constricting (higher blood pressure), helps reduce inflammation, sugars (energy) to be released by the liver, and many more positive roles.  All this is useful when you need to react to a fight or flight situation.

However, prolonged elevated levels of cortisol can have a negative impact on the body.  We do not always need our blood pressure raised.  It can interfere with our immune system and the function of insulin.  It can also interfere with our ability to recall memories.  Oh, did I mention, it is also credited with weight gain.

We need cortisol.  We may not want to decrease its levels when we need it during a stressful task.  It has an important role in keeping us safe and functioning at our best under difficult circumstances.

Research indicates that our health can benefit by lower (normal) cortisol levels when we are not facing danger.  So, what can we do to help keep healthy, normal, cortisol levels throughout the day and help them return to normal after a stressful situation?

Scientists at University College London (2005) studied drinkers of black tea.  They found that the cortisol levels of those who drank black tea decreased more quickly after a stressful activity then non-tea drinkers.  There levels during the activity was not change.  However, the black tea drinkers had a 47% decrease in cortisol 50 minutes after the activity—as opposed to a 27% decrease in non-tea drinkers.

A cup of black tea just may help us calm down after a stressful day or situation.  I have friends who would agree.

Question: Have you tried tea to help you relax after a stressful situation?  If so, what are your observations?

Additional resources:

Stop Double Victimizing: once is already too much

“If it bleeds it leads.”  This is too often true in regards to the press.  Some have the impression, from the media coverage, that most returning combat veterans will suffer from lifelong PTSD.  This is just not true.  

In a very real sense we sometimes double victimize those who have experienced trauma.  The original event and by perpetuating the perspective that recovery from PTSD is unlikely, or even not possible. 

PTSD can be difficult to deal with; but it is treatable!  We should expect recovery from our selves (those dealing with PTSD) and from our loved ones.  Dave Grossman comments on this perception:

“Too few mental health professionals communicate to their patients that 1) they can recover quickly from PTSD and that 2) they will become stronger from the experience.”

Grossman, Dave; Christensen, Loren W.  On Combat: The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and Peace Kindle Edition.

Question:  Do you think your attitude about PTSD recovery makes a difference?

Change: (Part 3 of 3) START a Path toward Transformation

Transformation begin with small changes!  To fulfill big desires we need to start with small goals.

Not long ago I made a new friend.  A young man of 70+ years.  During his last check-up the doctor chided him for his high blood pressure.  The doctor wanted to put him on blood pressure medication.  My friend, however, wanted an opportunity to see if he could make an impact on his blood pressure on his own.  So he set a goal!

He recognized a problem (See part 1).  Then, with his doctor, he evaluated the problem.  He did not stop there.  He began to START to do something to change his life.

He set a goal.  A measurable, time sensitive and shared goal.  For him, it was to walk 20 miles every week.  With a follow-on goal of turning the 20 miles into power walking.  He shared his goal with his family.

Now that he has his goal set, he gathered the tools.  These tools included proper foot ware, wet weather clothe (he lives in the North West of the U.S.).  It also included reading about power walking and watching some videos about proper technique.

That covers a review of the S and T of START (See Part 2).  Now on to the -ART:

Acton Plan

On our path from turning desires into realties we need to recognize, evaluates, set a goal, and gather tools.  We then need to take these things and make an Action Plan. 

These Action Plans ask and answer: Who, What, When, Where we will accomplish our goal.

  • Who needs to be involved?  We may only need ourselves.  To whom will you be accountable? Sometimes we will need, or should involve others.  Such as a doctor, therapist, nutritionist, trainer, friend, coworker, family member or coach.
  • What tools will you utilize?  This includes, but is much more than, equipment.  Most goals will involve some kind of technique that we can learn.  Another friend of mine was having panic attacks.  A breathing technique was one of the tools utilized to accomplish their goal of dealing with panic attacks.
  • When will you work on the goal?  How many days per week?  How much time per day?
  • Where will you work on your goal?

Run with the plan

Once we have our plan—preferably in writing—we need to run with the plan.  It does us little good to set goals, gather tools and learn techniques if we stop at that point.  We need to put all the prep work into actions.  Run with your plan in confidence!

Test your plan

It is important to know if our plan is helping us achieve our goal and if our goal is leading us toward accomplishing our desired objective.  It is not a matter a plan failing.  Failure only occurs when you give up completely.  It is helpful to be objective when assessing if a plan is working or not working.  This we can tune and adjust the plan or changed the focus of our goal. 

Two important test questions concerning your current plan:

  1. Am I getting closer to achieving my goal?
  2. Is this goal getting me closer to achieving my objective?

Honesty is key!  We can always learn new techniques, change equipment or modify our plan.

By setting appropriate goals we can change our lives, achieve our desires and impact the lives of those around us.  If you feel stuck in the goal process let me know.  I would me happy to do what I can to help you achieve victory. (

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