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Mine is Whidbey Island.  I can see it clearly – the sun shining on Useless Bay with the Olympic Mountains in the distance.  I can smell the salt air and feel the warm sand as it sifts through my fingers.  It’s the place I go when I need to calm myself; I breathe slowly, taking it all in, and the stress begins to ease.

Of course, I can’t actually drive nearly 400 miles and run to the beach on a day when the frenzy of life is making me feel crazy.  But I can go to my room, close the door, sit in Russ’ chair, and imagine that I’m there.

When we began EMDR therapy in Nebraska, Deb and Cathy worked with Dimples on finding her own “safe place.”  They helped her think through the details of what a safe place would be for her, and then she drew a picture of it.  It didn’t need to be a real place, or a place she had ever been, it just needed to be a place she could imagine.

The “safe place” has continued to be part of therapy, and Dimples’ current therapist has encouraged her to think about her “safe place” each morning before even getting out of bed.  She can “go to” her “safe place” any time she needs to calm herself, and can use it to help her fall asleep at night.  I’ve been impressed that Dimples seems to really understand this and it is a useful tool for her.

The “safe place” is a simple tool to use, and even a young child can do it.  Combined with deep breathing and prayer  we can use it to regulate ourselves and our children.

In family news, Hannah arrived from Minneapolis late Saturday night, and Isaiah drove from Seattle yesterday afternoon. We sat up late last night talking – and laughing.  It is so good to have them both home for the week.  We’re going to do (at least) one Christmas activity each day and enjoy the time as much as possible.  Hannah will not have any holidays off this year, being a lowly first-year resident, so we need to enjoy Advent and  Christmas while she is home.

Speaking of Advent, we did our first family Advent readings this weekend and it was wonderful.  We all loved singing O Come, O Come Emmanuel and watching Hannah light the first candle. Then I read from our new Advent book, Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room, and the children had fun looking up the Bible verses.  It was a great start to the season.

It’s a brand new week, friends, and I hope yours holds many wonderful moments.


  1. Kim (Reply) on Monday 3, 2012

    I LOVE this idea for our youngest. Thank you!

  2. Tina (Reply) on Monday 3, 2012

    I am new to your blog and so appreciate reading and learning about children from hard places. We are involved with foster care and any information is useful. It is nice to take time your idea about the advent reading is so focused I am begining today!! As I was preparing what I wanted to do Isaiah 9:6 came up again 3x in hour from different souces. For to us a child is born to us a son is given the entire verse I keep saying throughout the day and reminds me why we celebrate this season.

  3. Mary (Reply) on Monday 3, 2012

    What a great post, Lisa! I should have read this earlier because if I had found my own safe place sooner, the dinner hour would have gone better :). I was actually trying to process the meltdown that happened . . . in them . . . and in me . . . today and thought–what would Lisa say? Find the trigger! My husband and I chatted about it and I think we found the trigger–being too busy on Sunday–and hope to remedy it. Your blog has so ministered to me and my family and I'm just hankering after your book . . . . to read and share . . . .

  4. SleepyKnitter (Reply) on Monday 3, 2012

    This is a great idea! I hadn’t really thought of it as useful for children, though I do it for myself. What started as an imaginary “safe room” has evolved over 15 years of sleepless nights into a seaside community with buildings, walkways, gardens, and gathering areas that are specific to ideas and Scripture passages that I like to think about or remember–a very comforting mental exercise when I am too keyed up to sleep or pray. I could see this working for our middle child, who is five but imaginative and complex in her thinking and by far the most anxious of our three. I’ll talk with her this afternoon about what her idea of being “safe and happy” is and see if she can draw a picture of it or imagine it in her mind, and then we’ll see from there if she wants to remember that as her “safe place” when she is upset. Thank you for the great idea!