7330 E. Earll, Suite K

Scottsdale, AZ  85251


Masters in Ministry

and Counseling

Hey Mom, did you see the blessing on Facebook you got this morning? It made me cry" asked Jennifer, my daughter.

This is what I read on Feb. 9, 2015¦

Dear Kathleen,
You do not know me but you know many of my friends from PCC (Pacific Christian College). I wanted to contact you to tell you something and to thank you.

In 1975, you came to Westside Church in Long Beach and sang "Precious Lord, Take My Hand". I was 16, a brand new believer and literally right out of Juvenile Hall. My mom was an alcoholic. I had suffered severe abuse, physically and sexually so much so that I was given an abortion before I was 12. I was a hurting, angry and lost girl.

I accepted Christ about 6 months before you came. I clearly remember that moment when you sang because that was when I told God I would serve Him with my life. I had a feeling in my heart that I would sing and be used by God like you were being used to reach my heart!

I ended up singing. Traveling all over the world, being one of the first worship leaders for Saddleback Church with Rick Warren and serving there for 18 years. Recording with many amazing people and now leading children to use their music and gifts to share the gospel. It all began with that beautiful and inspirational moment seeing and hearing you sing that day. Thank you for sharing your gift. Thank you for serving God and thank you for sharing Jesus with such joy, love and beauty.
Sincerely in Christ,
DeVonna Drey

I cried tears of gratitudefor DeVonna's message.

Devonna's message pierced right through my challenges and to do list of the day. It put a permanent smile on my face. I called her and when we talked on the phone for an hour, she filled in even more details and her gift overflowed my heart and my soul was flooded. The triple blessing is that I have a new friend for life now.

Is there someone in your life who made you feel like you were more than you thought you were at the time?
Did someone pay attention to you when you thought no one noticed you?
Did someone say a kind word or do a thoughtful act at the right time when you needed it most?
Did someone inspire you?
Let them know how they made a difference in your life.
1. Be specific
2. Share a few details about how you felt before they impacted your life

3. Explain the difference they made in how you felt and what you did differently because of their influence.
Don't hesitate to communicate.

Think back to your childhood, teen years and into adulthood.

I can tell you first hand, if you take time to find them, both of you will be better for it. Maybe they are still a part of your life? Terrific, that's even easier.
Your appreciation may be the gift that comes at just the right time to fill another's soul the way they filled yours.

Taking Yourself Seriously Is Serious Business
I arrive home from work at 5:00 pm.
At 6:30, 10 to 14 people are arriving for dinner.
Don is waking up from a long summer's nap.

The preparation list is a mile long. Chop 12 ingredients for the ginormous salad, dust every piece of furniture, vacuum rugs, set the table, scrub toilets and sinks, clean fingerprints on the refrigerator, carve the chicken.

Don is moseying. Nice yawn, checks his phone messages, makes some calls.


He usually carves the chicken, but I can see he won't have time so grab a big carving knife and begin cutting.

I'll do that, he says while he is dawdling with something.

I hold the knife in the air and then force myself to gently place it on the counter and walk away. It only takes a nanosecond for me to return to my frantic pace.

Then Don really does the unthinkable. He starts whistling a happy tune while carving the chicken. The gall of that man.

My racing thoughts and nerves break open into a belly laugh at myself.

My very serious seriousness lightened up.

I saw the ridiculousness of my fear that things may not be perfect. It's not like this is a rare occasion for some dignitary. We've been serving dinner to a group of close friends every other Tuesday for more than a year now.
I'm sure you aren't as silly as me, but perhaps there's an area of your life where you take yourself too seriously too. Don't be too hard on yourself.

It's 115 degrees here in Arizona. It's time to LIGHTEN UP in lots of areas of our lives.
1. Wear lighter clothes.
2. Eat lighter foods.
3. Lighten the amount on your to do list.
4. AND most of all lighten your mood.


To lighten up means to become or cause to become less serious or gloomy and more cheerful.

Take a whole week to focus on each one of these 7 Lighten Up definitions below. Meditate on its meaning. Look for areas in your life to make some changes. Ask others for ideas. Be open instead of defending the way you are now.

1. To make less heavy: I lightened my backpack by removing a large textbook.
2. To lessen the severity or oppressiveness of: lighten the workload.
3. To make less worried or more cheerful: lighten the mood.
4. To become less in weight. (Can't wait for this one personally. I found those 20 lbs I lost last year)
5. To become less oppressive, troublesome, or severe.
6. To become cheerful: The mood lightened when the party started.
7. To take matters less seriously: Everything will work out fine, so stop worrying and lighten up.

It's important to take this seriously now. Ha Ha! After 7 weeks, I bet you will feel lighter and those around you will be grateful too. Your health and your relationships will improve and I predict you will even get more done from this happier place.

Let us know how it goes and how you lightened up. We appreciate all of you who are emailing and to let us know how our ideas are making a difference in your lives.

Choose to Choose

A client whose commitment to her own personal growth has created massive change in her life, said she consciously chooses to choose before she speaks or acts today. I loved her simple phrase that makes such a big difference if we heed it.

Victor Frankl, a Nazi prison camp survivor say's "When we are longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. Between Stimulus and Response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom."

It requires us to be willing to suspend our deeply held yet unspoken rights to...
1. Be right
2. Defend ourselves
3. Feel sorry for ourselves
4. Blame others
5. Justify our actions/words
6. Ignore/walk away/give up
7. Express our anger at another

It requires us to look deeper into ourselves than many are comfortable doing.

1. It is easy to see another's part in difficult situations and want them to change. However, we have absolutely no power to change another person. We can influence others negatively by shutting them down, hurting, punishing, or scaring them, which can change the way they interact with us. At best, we can get compliance. Most of us cannot believe we consciously harm others, especially if we consider ourselves "nice". If we have the courage to look more closely, we can see that we do and have hurt others in one way or another.

2. We can however, change ourselves. In this, we have total power of choice. This is where we can CHOOSE TO CHOOSE and take full responsibility for our words and actions that manipulated, controlled, or damaged another person. We can ask for forgiveness, forgive ourselves, and behave differently.

God has the strength, humility and courage required to change yourself. Choose to reach out to Him and He will reach back. In Him, you will find growth and freedom.
Email to receive exercises to help you learn the new habit of Choosing to Choose.

One of my favorite things to do is teach people how to laugh for no reason.

I love to laugh so much that I became a Certified Laughter Leader and teach people in organizations to laugh spontaneously at any time to reduce stress and improve their physical and mental health.

Are you ready to laugh today?

This Good Housekeeping article from 1955 should do the trick! Read through the article and then click to vote whether or not you'd like to return to the days of 1955 and tell me which one of these tips tickle your ribs the most and why!


Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.
Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.
Over the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.
Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first and remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.
Prepare the children. Take a few minutes to wash the children's hands and faces, comb their hair and if necessary change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part. Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet.
Make the evening his. Never complain if he comes home late or goes out to dinner, or other places of entertainment without you. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure and his very real need to be at home and relax.
Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.
Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.
A good wife always know her place.

Now, let us hear from you. Please vote on the form above. Do you want to return to 1955? Or not?

Positive Thinking Can Be Lousy!
Just think positive! Is it really that easy? Not always.

When our attempts to just think more positively don't change our behavior, we judge ourselves and feel worse than before. Are there any perfect people out there who do exactly what they want all the time?

Most of us have a few areas in our life that we would like to change or at least improve, but no matter how hard we try to THINK POSITIVELY we stay the same.

Check this out - You'd have to be living under a rock not to know the formula for losing weight. EAT LESS AND EXERCISE MORE. It makes sense, we agree with it, and it is clear. No more explanation needed. EASY, RIGHT?

So we try to start thinking positively... "I love celery", "I see myself in a skinny body", "I CAN lose weight". But it doesn't work. The 'lose weight' industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. Why is that? We're stuck and we don't know why.

GOOD NEWS! If thinking positively isn't changing your behavior, it's NOT because there's something wrong with you. It's not because you're weak and lack self-discipline.

It comes from a factory-installed automatic coping mechanism. This natural, in-born instinct to protect you from emotional and physical pain is controlling your behavior.

At a very early age, this instinct made decisions for you subconsciously. Those decisions morphed into your point of view (POV) and it still sticks to you like gorilla glue today.


1. Identify your subconscious protective strategies and decisions clearly and specifically.

2. Appreciate your brilliance and ability to make these protective strategies and decisions when you needed them.

3. Look at how they negatively affect your behavior in the present and what they have cost you in your personal and business life today.

That Was Stupid!
Don and I love Walt Whitman's poem about the side-turned head.

The side-turned head is that part of us which is able to observe ourselves. We can be saying or acting a particular way and another part of us is commenting internally on everything we say and do.

Very often, our side-turned head is pretty nasty to us! It generally acts like a judge. Ever hear your side-turned head arguing with itself?

"Don't say it. Awe, you said it."
"Why did you say it?"
"I couldn't help myself."
"That's because you are weak."
"No, I'm not."
"Yes, you are and you know it. You're always blowing it."
"That's not true."
"Yes. It is."

It can also tell us things like, "You're not good enough." and "You don't belong here!" "Don't say anything. You don't matter." "You'll never be as good as ______. "You're the only one who ever ________."

Transform your judgmental side-turned observer into an investigator who listens closely to gain insight which can lead to real and lasting change.

An investigator doesn't observe only a few things and stop or ask only one or two questions. An experienced investigator keeps asking questions until there's a breakthrough in the case.

Don't make the mistake of trying to silence your side-turned head. Instead, turn up the volume on your side-turned head and see if you're tearing yourself down or investigating. Don't try and change the messages right now. Simply crank up the volume, listen, observe and get better and better at asking questions.

Don't fight whatever you discover. Watch out! Your "side-turned head" may try to get you stuck by saying, "See! You'll never change!" Pay attention to how you judge yourself for judging yourself. Ask more questions....."Very interesting that I am judging myself now. Is there a pattern to the things I judge myself for?" "How do I feel when I judge myself? Has someone else in my life judged me for this before?" "Am I actually hearing someone else's voice from the past? Hummmmmmmm?"

Once you become more aware of what your side-turned head is saying, I have no doubt you'll find it "very interesting"!

Are You Losing Your HAIR? Lighten UP!

Let me tell you a story...
There once was a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and noticed she had only three hairs on her head. "Well,she said, "I think I'll braid my hair today." So she did and she had a wonderful day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that she had only two hairs on her head
"M-M," she said, "I think I'll part my hair down the middle today." So she did and she had a grand day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that she had only one hair on her head. "Well," she said, "Today I'm going to wear my hair in a pony tail." So she did and she had a fun, fun day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that there wasn't a single hair on her head.
"YEAH!" she exclaimed, "I don't have to fix my hair today!"

Attitude is everything. Have an AMAZING Day!

Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle...

Stop Pushing Your Own Buttons!
Did you know it's possible to push your own buttons?

If you've ever felt embarrassed, angry or disappointed by what someone else did when you weren't even there, you were pushing your own buttons.

How could this be?

Let's say you heard about something a family, team or community member named Chris did or said about you and you immediately felt embarrassed, angry or disappointed.

Even though Chris is not you, he represents a slice of your own personal self-image and that's why you experienced those emotions.

Chris is Someone for Whom You Have Chosen to Feel Responsible

What can you do to prevent your buttons being pushed in the future? You can accept the fact that Chris is a slice of your self-image but re-position your relationship to be responsible "TO Chris" but not "FOR Chris!"

Responsible TO Chris Means:
Caring, instructing, helping and giving feedback that helps Chris make better decisions for himself.

Not Being Responsible FOR Chris Means:
Choosing to NOT take on the impact of Chris's actions as being your fault or representative of you or your relationship.

Ever Been Jealous or Judgmental? You've Had Your Buttons Pushed!
Have you ever felt the pangs of jealousy or judgment?

Jealousy and judgment are both signs of having had your buttons pushed! And even if you're able to bottle them up inside so no one can see them, YOU know they're still there - hovering just under the surface and ready to pop!

Here's a quick test to determine your current level of emotional security; also known as your ability to handle button pushers.

Ask yourself these two questions:
Can you laugh and truly celebrate with others when they enjoy success in money, relationships, career, or any other blessings of life?
If you can joyfully celebrate the good fortune of others, you stand on a foundation of personal security and strength. Your jealousy button is defused and it will be rare for you to be envious of others' successes.

Can you show sorrow alongside those who are suffering?
If you can deeply feel the sorrow or disappointment of others, your compassion and empathy flows from being in touch with your own times of pain. Because of the pain you have felt, it will be rare for you to express criticism and judgment of others.
In a world where jealousy and/or judgment are all too common, your sense of personal security and compassion can be your greatest source of defense from those who would try to push your buttons!
How would it feel to NEVER AGAIN let anyone push your buttons?

Introducing . . .

The "Defuse Your Buttons" Live Workshop:
How to Ask For and Get What You Want Without Arguing, Resentment or Guilt

Who Pushes YOUR Buttons?
We all have people who can push our buttons. Who does it for you?

Your mother, supervisor, a friend, an in-law, a rude stranger?

Whoever Pushes Your Buttons, Controls Your Actions

Sidney Harris was one of the most famous syndicated columnists of the last century and one of his most memorable columns was about button pushing.

Sidney describes watching a friend buy a newspaper and observes the newsman being quite rude to his friend. The newsman ignored his friend at first, then rudely shoved a paper at him, and didn't even say thank you after his friend paid.

Sidney was astonished to hear his friend say, "Thank You," as he turned back to Sidney!

Sidney asked his friend, "Why were you so polite and courteous to a newsman who was so rude to you?"

Sidney's friend acknowledged he was disturbed by the newsman's rudeness but then said . . .

"Because I simply refuse to let that rude newsman decide for me how I am going to act."

Wow! Sidney's friend wasn't going to let a button pusher decide his response. How about you?
How would it feel to NEVER AGAIN let anyone push your buttons?

Introducing . . .

The "Defuse Your Buttons" Workshop:
How to Ask For and Get What You Want Without Arguing, Resentment or Guilt

Learn and practice EXACTLY how to stop letting people push your buttons, even in the heat of the moment, in this live, 1/2 day workshop with Don and Kathleen Thoren!

Successfully FAIL to Communicate?
Here are a few of the fastest ways to successfully fail to communicate: be defensive, criticize, judge, act like you know what other's really mean, roll your eyes, fix the other person, mind read, should on people, avoid, yell, give the silence treatment, walk away, complain, blame, whine, ignore, assume, curse, use you never and you always....and the beat goes on and on and on.

How do you stop these? One word: COLUMBO. Remember the tv show with Peter Falk, the famous investigator? He asked a million questions in a genuinely curious way to get to the truth. His most remembered line when it seemed he had asked all his questions was: "Just One More Thing". Many times, asking just one more question can make all the difference. TIP: This requires that you actually want to get to truth and mutual understanding. If you genuinely desire to communicate, it is a great idea to speak and listen in a way that you and others can hear.

If you want to win, control, dominate, give up or manipulate. Refer to the list above.

Awesome Communication Tips Continued (click on last two tips)

First: Say "Isn't that Interesting"
Change from Judge to investigator
Second: Ask Four Investigative Questions in the
right order.
Third: LISTEN!!! Simple but not easy

The KEY to listening is found in rearranging the letters of "Listen" - do you see it? Answer at bottom.

Practical and Powerful ways to be a good listener:
1. Stop talking
2. Concentrate - don't interrupt
3. React to Ideas - not people
4. Seek to understand
5. Don't argue mentally
6. Hear feeling behind facts
7. Demonstrate attention through eye contact
8. Keep body posture relaxed and open
9.Sustain facial expressions that are inviting and
10. Perception check own beliefs

ANSWER: Listen also spells SILENT!

Questions Are the Answers?
On last Friday's tip, you learned to say..."Isn't That Interesting" and then stop talking. You may be wondering what to do after that? You begin investigating for greater understanding.

Here are FOUR INVESTIGATIVE QUESTIONS to use. Good questioning techniques save time and improve communication satisfaction.

Opening Questions
These questions cannot be answered with a yes or no. They start with who, what, when, where, and how. Don't use "why". Asking these starts the other person talking allowing you to gain clarity.

Encouraging Questions
Is there more?...and then what?...uh huh?...with non-verbal nodding. These encourage the person to provide additional information and feelings so you gain a fuller understanding.

Checking Questions
These questions can be answered yes or no. You are seeking verification about what you think you heard before moving to a conclusion, action step, or completion of the conversation.

Commitment Seeking Questions
These are designed to get a definite yes or no response. Examples are: will you? do you? should we?

Isn't That Interesting

Has someone said something and you weren't sure what to say back??? Seconds tick by and your mind screams, "What do I say now?! or "Why did I say that?"

My wife, Kathleen, taught me to say, with curiosity, "Isn't that interesting" and then...STOP TALKING.

The beauty of this neutral comment is that it turns the conversation back to the other person and...

Gives you a chance to think
Gives you an immediate response, but you haven't really said anything or expressed an opinion yet.
Gives you a chance to change the way you are listening from a JUDGE OF what was said to an INVESTIGATOR INTO what they meant.
It's best to ask questions to gain understanding when you are not sure how to respond. However, avoid the 'why' question, as it is often received as argumentative. Now, you have your best chance of feeling comfortable with what you say back.

Can You FAUX Laugh?
Did you know laughing 15 times a day reduces stress? Tax day deadline just passed. Need some stress relief?

Laughing for no reason counts! Your brain doesn't know the difference between sincere laughter and faux laughter. Fake or real, you still get all the emotional, intellectual, spiritual and physical benefits. Laughter enriches your life!

Tip: Just look at yourself in the mirror and start
laughing. You will feel funny at first, but do it anyway. After 5 minutes check your mood, thoughts, energy level. I think you will be surprised and happy. Give it a try, You have nothing to lose.

"Laughter is the sound of the soul dancing. My soul probably looks like Fred Astaire." Jarod Kintz

Do Poorly...R U Serious?
Anything worth doing, is worth doing well.

True, but so is this quote "Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly. . . at first". Why? Because if you are not willing to pay the price of doing something poorly at first, you will probably NEVER try anything new or difficult for the first time! This could mean that you will die with most of your music inside you and never sung.

Experiment with new ideas and go for your dreams even if they look scary or impossible from your current point of view. Failure is not fatal.

So experiment with your new ideas and dreams with a safe person or safe place and go for it, poorly! As your performance improves, launch the improved you for all to see- Advance your world.

Google 'Successful people who failed several times'. You will be inspired to go for it POORLY at first.

Don't Feel Like It?
The most common denominator of people who get the most successful results is...

They make a habit of doing what the less successful don't like to do.

Habits like planning, priority setting, follow-through, asking for help, never giving up, practice, practice and then more practice with high commitment. They study those who are where they want to be and then do what they did.

Do the successful like doing these habits? Not necessarily. However, they're more interested in getting results than doing what is comfortable!

Improve Your Results

Make a list of 5 things you can do with specific results in mind. Then do them! Push through any discomfort this month you can do it!

Communication Skill #1
Someone says or does something that instantly makes you feel defensive, negatively surprised, or frustrated. You have an instant, almost reflexive reaction.

Here are some feelings and thoughts you may have about the situation.
1. If you are feeling defensive, you may feel compelled to launch into a defense of your own actions. You will attempt to refute what you believe they are saying against you. And then you will point the finger at just exactly what they did wrong.
2. If you are feeling negatively surprised, your facial expression may change instantly to a furrowed brow and you will want to exclaim, "Whaaaaaaaaat?"
3. If you feel frustrated, before you have a second to think, you may want to retreat and say forget it or you will want to attack and give detailed instructions or explanations of what is wrong with your partner.

2. SKILL: "Isn't That Interesting" with Four Investigative Questions

Part I: "Isn't That Interesting"

Literally say the phrase "Isn't That Interesting."
This changes your perspective and focus from judge and reactor to INVESTIGATOR of facts and feelings.
This allows you to take responsibility for your feelings/reactions. It is important that you take care of yourself by journaling, drawing or talking with a trusted friend about your first gut level, reflexive reaction. Do this later at a time when you are safe to explore your feelings/reactions. Do not ignore or shove down what you actually felt permanently. Although your first reactive feelings are not helpful for communication in the heat of the moment, they are very important to address later in a safe environment.

Pause, take a deep breath. Silence is important. You husband may even ask, what is interesting? Whether he asks a question, responds or just stares at you, you can begin Part II: Four Investigative Questions.

The Side Turned Head
My husband and I love this poem that talks about the side turned head. You know the one. We all have a part of us that is able to observe ourselves. We can be saying or acting a particular way and another part of us is commenting on what we are saying or doing. One of the problems is that too often this observer is not very nice to us. It observes as more of a judge rather than an investigator. It is saying things like, "why did you do that? and "that was stupid", "You don't belong here" and so on.

An investigative side turned head is much more powerful because it is listening intently to gain insight and information which can lead to real and lasting change. I teach clients to use the phrase, "Isn't that interesting" about anything and everything to begin the transformation from judge to investigator. An investigator doesn't stop with just a few questions, but rather continues to seek more and more answers until there is a breakthrough. Turn up the volume on your "side turned head" and see if you are tearing yourself down or investigating. Don't fight whatever you discover. Don't let your "side turned head" get you stuck by saying, "see you'll never change." It is very important not to try to change the messages right now. Simply turn up the volume and listen. Become more aware of what your side turned head is saying. You might find it very "interesting".

Why Positive Thinking Isn't Always So Positive.
Just think positively. Could it really be that easy? I don't think so. It can work for some, but for most, it piles on guilt and shame when you can't change your behavior by just thinking more positively. We all have at least one or two areas in our life where we slip into negative thinking no matter how much we try to THINK POSITIVELY.

For example:
It's no secret that to lose weight you must eat less and exercise more. EASY, RIGHT? Using positive thinking, you could say "I love celery" or "I see myself in a skinny body", or "I CAN lose weight". But, it's not working. Weight loss is a billion dollar industry. Why?

There are concrete reasons why your positive affirmations aren't developing consistent and permanent change. And it's not because there is something wrong with you. It's not because you are weak and undisciplined. It is because you have a natural, in born instinct to survive emotional and physical pain. Beginning at a very early age, this instinct "makes decisions" about you and others subconsciously. Those decisions morph into your point of view (POV) and it sticks like gorilla glue. You must identify what your subconscious "decisions" were and what those decisions are costing you to be able to get free from their control.

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