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I was listening to the radio station KLOVE today as I was driving and heard a Christian singer talk about a time in his life when he was de...

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Attitude

(This is re-posted from March 2016)

I love this quote from a well-known Christian author:

Charles Swindoll
"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.  It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do.  It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill.  The remarkable thing is--we have a choice every day of our lives regarding the attitude we embrace for that day.  We cannot change our past.  We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way.  We cannot change the inevitable.  The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude...  I'm convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it.  And so it is with you.  We are in charge of our attitudes."--Charles Swindoll

The story below is an old one, but very appropriate for the subject of attitude.  I found this while searching through my old files from the website I had called 'There Is OCD Hope' back in the early 2000's.

Is Your Hut Burning?

The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island.  He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming.  Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements, and to store his few possessions.  But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky.  The worst had happened; everything was lost.  He was stunned with grief and anger.  "God, how could you do this to me!", he cried.  Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island.  It had come to rescue him.  "How did you know I was here?", asked the weary man of his rescuers.  "We saw your smoke signal." they replied.

It is easy to get discouraged when things are going bad.  But we shouldn't lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain and suffering.  Remember, next time your little hut is burning to the ground--it just may be a smoke signal that summons grace of God.  For all the negative things we have to say to ourselves, God has a positive answer for it:

You say:  "It's impossible."
God says:  All things are possible. (Luke 18:27)

You say:  "I'm too tired."
God says:  I will give you rest. (Matt 11:28-30)

You say:  "Nobody really loves me."
God says:  I love you. (John 3:16 & John 13:34)

You say:  "I can't go on."
God says:  My grace if sufficient. (2 Cor 12:9 & Psalms 91:15)

You say:  "I can't figure things out."
God says:  I will direct your steps. (Prov 3:5-6)

You say:  "I can't do it."
God says:  You can do all things. (Phil 4:13)

You say:  "I'm not able."
God says:  I am able. (2 Cor 9:8)

You say:  "It's not worth it."
God says:  It will be worth it. (Rom 8:28)

You say:  "I can't forgive myself."
God says:  I FORGIVE YOU. (1 John 1:9 & Rom 8:1)

You say:  "I can't manage."
God says:  I will supply all your needs. (Phil 4:19) 

You say:  "I'm afraid."
God says:  I have not given you a spirit of fear. (2 Tim 1:7)

You say:  "I'm always worried and frustrated."
God says:  Cast all your cares on ME. (1 Peter 5:7)

You say:  "I don't have enough faith."
God says:  I've given everyone a measure of faith. (Rom 12:3)

You say:  "I'm not smart enough."
God says:  I give you wisdom. (1 Cor 1:30)

You say:  "I feel all alone."
God says:  I will never leave you nor forsake you. (Heb 13:5)


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Repost-Truth & Grieving

This is a repost from February 2016.


Years ago, after my initial meeting with my new-found Christian psychiatrist, he gave me a diagnosis of Clinical Depression and OCD.  I had never heard of OCD and he explained it to me.  The unsolicited thoughts I was having was an obsession I couldn't control.  There was a chemical imbalance in my brain.  There is a chemical imbalance in anyone's brain who has a mental disorder.  I was eager to learn all about my new diagnoses.  But that couldn't fully happen until I was discharged.  One of the most important doctor visits I had with Dr. G (not his real last name initial) was to have absolute assurance from this Christian man---who he was first; doctor was a second--that I was going to get better.  I asked him that and if I was going to be a functioning mother again.  I then asked him if he could write it on one of his prescription pad sheets so I could take it with me.  Feeling like he knew the plan and was a child of the Man (God) that I was in good hands--it rhymes sorta :-)  I looked at that prescription A LOT.  I taped it to the inside of a notebook and still have that piece of paper!  Relief flowed through me like a wave of emotion when I was told what I had--what the unsolicited thoughts meant and I wasn't going crazy.  I was in tears.  I was just relieved there was a name for it.  You see, this was not talked about at all then as it is now.  People know now what OCD entails for the most part.  The clinical depression is a chronic ongoing depression that needs medical supervision and counseling, usually with medication.

Hope followed relief.  I felt God giving me hope to hang on.  It was going to be a long road, painful at times, but He was going to be with me every step of the way.  "For he will stand for He is able to make him stand." (Romans 14:4).

I was not a patient person.  I am better today, but I don't have it mastered by any means.  So when I was discharged after about 2 weeks--had a relapse a week after that and had to re-enter the hospital--I felt defeated, weak, sadness, less hope, etc.  Having hope and believing it can come and go.  Since this scene was all completely foreign to me, I struggled.  I didn't know that relapses were common, even to be expected.  My 'recipe' of medications to help my chemical imbalance was not working in my favor yet.  Dr. G. needed to adjust them.

The next phase for me was grieving and mourning.  I started grieving the way I was and what I was going to have to live with the rest of my life, more than likely.  "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." (Romans 12:15).  This is a very real emotion when you know things are going to be different now.  I was going to have to make lifestyle changes.  Being overwhelmed was my downfall emotionally.  I learned I couldn't watch certain things on TV or they would trigger my depression or OCD.  I eventually found I couldn't work at all.  I went from full time to 75% to 50%.  None of it worked.  We needed the money to pay bills and live.  Another stressor and one I couldn't handle.  Thank the Lord my father stepped in and offered to help financially.  I had to completely quit working.  All my focus was on trying to get better and be healthy mentally.  I tried not to stay home by myself as much as possible.  My daughter was in daycare during 'school hours'.  I would go eat lunch by myself, have appointments with the doctor or my counselor, go to the movie.  A totally different life I was leading.  I was mourning my old self and my new self and new way of life.  But that's normal and a necessary process.  You can't stuff that kind of thing and not expect it to come bite you again.  It will bubble up and re-surface.


So give yourself grace.  Take the time to do what is healthy for you.  Whether you are new to clinical or long-term chronic depression--the best thing you can do for yourself is to focus on you.  As I discussed in another post--figure out your triggers and boundaries and follow them.  Ask for prayer on a continual basis, seek the help of friends and family for support, if this is an option.  Don't allow yourself to be alone too much.  Sometimes you can instinctually seclude yourself and close yourself off without noticing in the midst of it all.  But your friends and family will notice.  Let them help you.  Agree to get out for some fresh air--get around people or animals.  Pets are great stress-relievers.  I know cause we have 3 cats and 1 big yellow lab.  I love them so much!  They are life savers, as well.  Hang in there and stay involved in the world.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Repost-It's Okay To Not Be Okay

This is a repost from the very first post I wrote for this blog on February 9, 2016.


We all have those tough times--whether it is physically or mentally.  And sometimes, mentally we are "having a hard time."  This is what I would say to my husband whenever I sensed my depression starting to take over my brain.  They were code words for, "I-am-depressed-and-feel-myself-sinking."  And then he would sometimes ask me, "Do you need to go to the hospital?"  I said "Yes."  There were 6 times in my life where I said, "Yes" to that question.  And it was the worst feeling.  Have you been there?  Can you relate?  It's okay to NOT be okay.  I will say it again, "It's okay to not be okay."  You have permission to have depression as a Christian, a born-again Christian, who is human like everyone else and copes with many things physically and mentally like anyone does.

Join me on this personal journey to KNOW and ACCEPT that yes, Christians get clinical depression and it is NOT because they do not have enough faith and need to, "just pull yourself up by your bootstraps!".  Those are LIES.

My journey through depression has been almost a life-time long one.  You can have hope through God who is always there for you and "will never leave you, nor forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5)  You can always count on Him and His Word. 

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."--Romans 8:1

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

What Is It About Your Care Team That Makes A BIG Difference?

You are in a position to choose what makes the difference in your mental health care starting with your care team. Some of it is a little harder to find, but if you're willing to be flexible with your time and distance then there's a really good chance you can find the people you need for your care. And the power of prayer makes a big difference, as well. What am I talking about specifically? YOU NEED CHRISTIANS ON YOUR MENTAL HEALTH CARE TEAM. Starting with a counselor/psychologist-do your research. There is nothing wrong with coming right out and asking the person who answers the phone, "Is this a Christian counseling (or psychology) service?" If not, move on. You can start your research on the internet or ask friends who may know someone in your community. FINDING A CHRISTIAN COUNSELOR/PSYCHOLOGIST IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON ON YOUR CARE TEAM. Why? This is the person you are going to share everything about your depression with, your triggers, discussing anything you want to aid in your care. In turn, your counselor should provide you insight about your yourself, your depression, tools you can use in situations when you need help getting through something that triggered your depression, for example. You should always be talking more than your counselor/psychiatrist in your sessions. Your first session may require he/she talk more, but typically you should be talking about yourself. Then they interject what they notice or ask questions about something you said. I went to a Christian counselor I was referred to out of my first hospital stay, but it didn't work out. I met with her twice. She talked about herself both times a lot. So, I moved on to another one who happened to be my social worker from the hospital I stayed at. She worked at the private practice my Christian psychiatrist--who I also met and was my doctor at that same hospital--had outside of working at the hospital. I've had quite a few counselors or psychologists through my life before I got saved and after so I learned what made a good one and what didn't. And sometimes the Christian counselor you find just isn't a good match and that's okay. Go looking for another one. You will be so happy you did.

What about a psychiatrist? If you have spent time with your Christian counselor/psychologist and he/she recommends at some point you seeing a psychiatrist then this would be your next care team member. (A psychiatrist can write prescriptions for medications, but a counselor/psychologist cannot.) It would be fantastic if your Christian counselor/psychologist knew a Christian psychiatrist for your referral, but it may not be the case. He/she may know a very good one, but they may not be a Christian. In my opinion, when it comes down to medicine, I would rather just have a good doctor, Christian or not. Remember, nothing is impossible with God and He's in control. This person (psychiatrist) of your care team may be someone you may have to travel outside of your home boundary to go see if you live in a small town. And you may have to do the same to find a Christian counselor/psychologist.

So, the only obvious question that may be lurking in your mind might be, "Why do they have to be Christian?" You might be surprised how this is not so obvious to Christians as you would think. There are certainly more Christian counseling services now probably than when I was seeing one. When I was my lowest at the hospital and then naturally found out that several people working there were Christians was such a comfort to me--that I just knew I wanted to keep going to the Christian psychiatrist when I got out and the counselor who worked out of his office. That was like a given to me. I wouldn't have had it any other way. The big difference about your care team being Christian is that for one--they will pray for their patients. To me, that's huge. They will relate to you and your problems from a Christian perspective, not introducing non-biblical ways in handling your emotions, behavior and attitudes. He/she will be positive and optimistic in always approaching things knowing God's in control and focus on what you can do in the here and now and keeping God in the equation. A non-believer won't do that. You can talk freely about being a Christian knowing your counselor can relate and understand you from a spiritual standpoint. 

If you find there is a huge difference in your beliefs with a supposed Christian counselor/psychologist--meaning they are believing in something that is not biblical then I would switch to a new counselor/psychologist. My husband and I did that with a counselor he had known for a long time. This counselor had seen my husband on his own for a while and then we together saw him. One day we got into a discussion about homosexuality. And then this counselor made the statement that shouldn't everyone be allowed to marry if they love each other. That broke the deal with me. We walked away. As you see, not every Christian or supposed Christian counselor, in this case, to Christian patient situation will be perfect, but you move on until you find the right match--just as you would in the secular world with secular counselors.

I hope this has helped in understanding how important it is who you choose for your mental health care team. God has put Christian health care providers in this field to help people, just as in any other field. But they have a unique understanding of mental health patients and mental illness that, simply non-believers won't have. And they will have it and see it from God's perspective and His love that secular counselors will have no depth in understanding.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

When Life Changes Your To-Do List


As you know, I did not publish several days this week of blog entries as I intended. I had a family health emergency that needed my attention. Things are back to normal so I am able to take a breath and write again. But this almost-whole-week's experience definitely left an impression on me.

It started on Monday afternoon when I got a call from a family member saying she was at the ER and asked if I would meet her there. It was for a possible heart attack and so I took off, trying to contact other family members at the same time to let them know what was going on. When I got there it was around 3:15ish. The ER was busy and several other people sitting in the ER were hooked up to IVs. When I reached my family member, she was sitting in a lounge chair with an IV in, but no fluids connected to it. We sat in this little curtained off area in a hallway for 5 hours before being taken back to the actual ER space. My family member had tests run such as blood taken, EKG and those came back normal. So we thought the seriousness of the situation has subsided even though we still had not seen an ER doctor. But they kept us. They did a chest xray which came back normal, as well. My relative thought it was just indigestion for sure because the pain had mostly gone away. She was treated with a GI cocktail which was to calm any indigestion and it did help.

So when we were taken back to the actual ER part of the hospital I would go out to the nurses's station after an hour or so asking when my family member would be seen--she still had not seen the ER doctor. I was told she was up next. An hour later I went out again and asked the same question and said why if everything has come back normal can my relative not be discharged. I was told she can't leave until the ER doctor has seen her--and she was still up next in line.

Finally, a Physician's Assistant (PA) came in to see my relative, basically to talk about what brought her into the ER. The PA said she wanted to get another round of blood taken since enough time had gone by since my family member had come to the ER. So another sample of blood was taken and another xray. The PA came back in and said that everything looked normal, but the pancreas levels are highly elevated and that my relative would be taken up to ICU for a couple of days. My family member looked and me and I at her and I mouthed the word, 'Wow'. That was a shock and my relative was scared in an instant. Her whole face became flush. She was thinking it was pancreatic cancer--a death sentence in her mind.

It was amazing to me how in one moment when we were getting ready to pack up and leave and then she was told something totally unexpected and that she was going to the ICU for a couple of days. We were both shocked. Something like that or worse can change your life. It reminds me of my dad 9 years ago in that same ER. We had finally gotten him to go to the ER because he was going back and forth between constipation and diarrhea and we knew something was wrong. The ER doctor he had came in and told us he either had leukemia or some kind of cancer. Well, either way it was cancer and we were in shock and the room got quiet. 

I was concerned about my relative and what she had just heard. She was clearly upset. And I then knew I had to spread the news that plans had changed. That was hard too because some of the people I going to have to tell knew what an elevated pancreas could mean and others would probably freak out cause they didn't understand--was that bad or really really bad?

Plans changed. Then my sister and I started on a schedule of sitting with our family member or taking turns, being there with her. We went through what seemed like a lot of unknowns. Whatever it was kinda took care of itself through an endoscopy, elevated liver enzymes and then everything--all enzymes going down. No one could definitively tell us this or that happened by the time we left. My relative is doing much better and is back at home. She is a little tired and not able to do too much, but she is feeling a lot better.

I thank God that my mother is alive and well and still with us. I praise Him for taking care of whatever was wrong within her body. I thank God for Jesus and his resurrection that we get to remember tomorrow--the sacrifice given for all of us to have the shackles of chains fall off for those who know Him and to look forward to the day when we will see Him face to face. What a beautiful face to see, to look upon. Happy Easter!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Week of April 10-14: New Morning Monday-The Triumphal Entry

I apologize for not putting out a blog entry on Friday, but the server for blogspot was having difficulties. I was not able to access the website at all for the times I checked.

This week's blog entries will be about preparation for the coming day of Easter. Each day will have something related to the leading up to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. A day that gave us the forgiveness of our sins from the perfect sacrifice that God provided through His son Jesus. Today's account comes from the celebration of Palm Sunday which not all Christians may understand where the celebration comes from. It comes from the people laying down palm branches before Jesus as He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. Not all denominations celebrate or acknowledge Palm Sunday--so not everyone would understand what it means. This first account quoted below from John will mention palm branches:

"The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. they took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, 'Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel.' Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written, 'Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey's colt.' At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him." (John 12:12-15, NIV)

This is another account written by Luke:

"After Jesus has said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. As he approached Bethpage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, 'Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, 'Why are you untying it?' tell him, 'The Lord needs it.' Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, 'Why are you untying the colt?' They replied, 'The Lord needs it.' They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: 'Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!'" (Luke 19:28-38, NIV)


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Week of April 3-7: Throwback Thursday-The Danger of Cliques


Most people know what a clique is, but maybe not by that name. Dictionary.com defines it as an "exclusive group of people." I have always thought 'clique' was a dirty word--a negative connotation. Why? Because cliques shut out people that are different than what the clique represents--be that a certain 'look' someone has, the way they think or believe in something. It's easy to look back on high school and remember different cliques. They are rampant in that kind of setting. Stereotypes and cliques kind of run together in the high school setting.

I have seen cliques in church settings too. It's disappointing to see because you don't expect to see it at church. Everyone is supposed to be all-welcoming and all-accepting, but in some places it's just not that way. Most of the time, cliques are formed among females. I think women struggle more with social etiquette, such as gossip in the church than perhaps men do. I've seen where small groups of ladies stick to each other and don't allow anyone else to penetrate the friendships that are in place in a group. And I think that probably sometimes this is done without even realizing a clique is being formed or has formed. You get a group of people with same or similar interests that are always around each other, do things only with each other, only talk to each other, hang out together and don't mingle with anyone else. And then voila, you might have a clique going on. From the outside it is noticeable to other people and looks unwelcoming to an outsider coming to visit a church. It's a turn-off. The Body of Christ needs to be free of this type of secular-centered likeness.

The church needs to be welcoming of all types of people, even ones that people might consider hard to love. But love has to be the foundation of the church. That's what it was built on--love. Pray for people in your church who are caught up in a clique type group, maybe speak to one of them in love after praying about it. It's very easy for people to become very myopic and not see what others see. As believers, let us help each other to see better where the path lays and when we get off-course. God Bless!


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Week of April 3-7: Warrior Wednesday-Setting Boundaries


I went looking back through the topics of discussion I have written about on this blog thinking surely I had talked about boundaries as a topic. I know I have mentioned them before, but I guess I never made it a titled topic. When I was initially diagnosed back in April of 1999 with Clinical Depression and OCD, I also learned through counseling that I needed to set boundaries so that my triggers would not be set off so much. But first, I needed to identify my triggers.

I don't talk a whole lot about the OCD part of my diagnosis, but it had a huge factor in my depression as it exploded in 1999 separate from the episodes of depression I had before that in my life. I don't think a lot of people realize there are many symptoms of OCD. Mine is the least talked about and, in my opinion, one of the scariest. Below is a short list of common and less common symptoms of OCD, an anxiety disorder, you may know about. There may be specific names for some of these that I don't know, but I know the symptoms.

-fear of germs: this is one of the most common symptoms that people associate with OCD.

-an obsession with numbers--how many times to wash your hands, for example, before the person thinks they are 'clean enough', switching light switches on and off a number of times until the person feels okay

-checking--this may tie in with obsession of numbers, such as in taking long showers (3-4 hours long) in order to be clean which in turn makes it difficult for the person to keep a steady job--checking to make sure the stove is turned off a number of times before leaving the house, going back to your house to check that the door was locked because the anxiety is too much for the person to handle if they don't go back and check. 

-scrupulosity-one of the lesser known symptoms of OCD. A person who is scrupulous is someone who is "conscientious, cautious, careful, circumspect, exacting, rigorous, carefulness in attending to details" (dictionary.com). Now, add God into the equation and you see someone who sees God and tries to appease God into someone who He is not--a rigorous task master, but yet the person is constantly trying to please God in an unhealthy way through works or whatever means, but internally beats himself up. He/she has a warped view of God and his love, but he can't help it. This person is trying so hard to follow rules that he sees in his mind and thinks this is what God is about. A lot of unbelievers see God this way. But we know this is not true. Jesus came to set us free.
-the last symptom, I believe, is still even lesser known, which is what I fall into. If you read my bio then you read where 6 months after my daughter was born, all of these unsolicited thoughts came into my mind to harm my daughter with a knife. It was all very specific about it being a knife. I never understood it then and still don't, but literature I was shown at the time showed me that this is a verifiable symptom of OCD. I was scared to death of these thoughts, didn't understand what was going on, was terrified of hurting my daughter uncontrollably--like something was going to possess me and I would hurt her. Here we had this beautiful baby girl we had prayed for and others had prayed for us and suddenly out of the blue these horrible thoughts plagued my mind literally day and night. I prayed and prayed, cried until I thought I couldn't cry anymore. I was afraid my husband would leave me because I had suddenly turned into some crazy woman who may hurt his/our baby. Everything went through my mind. I was so so scared.

I am re-telling you this with the purpose of showing where I had to learn what my triggers were first. After my initial hospital visits, getting on medication, and going through counseling--I quickly learned what my first triggers were just through experience. I didn't want to look at or be around knives when I was at home. I didn't like seeing knives in movies or TV shows. Anything I saw on TV where a child, especially a baby or very young child could get hurt would bring me to tears and to a high anxiety level. Then that could trigger the depression and cause me to crash if the medication level I was at was not working properly.

And so my obvious boundaries followed suit--not watching TV or movies that were violent or were about kidnapped children, missing children or harm to children in any way. And added to that were not watching movies that were depressing in any way like movies you knew were going to end in a sad way. I tried to make sure that I didn't stay in the house too long by myself when my daughter was at daycare and my husband was working. I would go to a movie at the theater or go out to lunch by myself. I had my counseling appointments about once a week and outpatient counseling when I was recently released from a hospital stay. We were not attending a church at the time which was not good. The one we had gone to was no longer an option and eventually closed. It was not a good time to not have a church home and be without close Christian friends. That could have helped a bit. I had one friend from our former church who was bi-polar who I had asked to come visit me during my second hospital stay. I felt she would understand some of my feelings.

Then as I got better I had to learn new boundaries when I would overdo it with housework and wear myself down. I think I would try to overcompensate for my absences at hospitals in the past by trying to do more at times than I should have. Then when I got plugged into a church eventually, I had to be careful how much I volunteered to help--not to overdo things or it would become overwhelming. Those were trial-and-error boundaries. And with that, I had to not worry what other people thought of me--whether I was volunteering enough, or not. I had to learn what was best for me regardless of other people or what agendas were going on with the church.

As you see, your boundaries can and likely will evolve over time from when you feel less able to handle things mentally to a time when you feel stronger. Those boundaries are extremely important for you to follow once you identify your triggers. Going outside those boundaries will only cause you to feel anxiety and stay stagnate, even possibly go backward in your mental health care, rather than going forward, moving ahead and getting better. Your boundaries are also important for those around you and for them to know so they are not crossed. If someone doesn't respect them then you don't need to be around them.

Your mental health care matters tremendously and boundaries are a huge part of understanding yourself, your limits and how far you can safely go within your own mental parameters. Take the time, write them down and follow them, and maybe you'll need to adjust them over time. Don't minimize them to yourself or to others because then you are minimizing yourself. You matter.


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Week of April 3-7: Truth Tuesday-A Living Hope


"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls." (1 Peter 1:3-9)

Monday, April 3, 2017

Week of April 3-7: New Morning Monday-Trials


"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does." (James 1:2-8)

"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him."

"When tempted, no one should say, 'God is tempting me.' For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death."

"Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created." (James 1:12-18)

Friday, March 31, 2017

Week of March 27-31: Forward Friday-Have We Stopped Listening

When we look forward this Friday and the days ahead, ask yourself, "Have I stopped listening?" Do we listen with acutely aware, sharp hearing or the passerby hearing? When you have something to say, don't you want people to listen to you? Have you heard anyone in your office talk about giving things away on a regular basis when that person doesn't usually talk in that manner? Have you received something from someone who has said that? Do you ever hear a family member talk about things in a way that don't matter anymore when it was something they loved talking about? Has a friend started isolating herself from her friend group? Maybe it's the other spectrum where they want to do daring things seemingly not caring about deadly consequences.

Know one knows the kinds of steps--the bumpy ones, the ones that almost fell through, the ones that had gum stuck to it, maybe puddles in it--that one has walked in during their life. We don't know their trials and tribulations until we get to know them, that takes time. But if you are not genuine when you do this, it will show. And the person will close up, time's up. Ask the person if you can pray for them and what they would like prayer for. Most people will not turn down someone offering to pray for them.

If you are have a difficult time emotionally in wanting to go talk to someone you know has bi-polar, for example, but you feel you have no idea how to relate to something like that. If you are genuine, that person will appreciate you taking the time to get to know them. But they might not be used to it and it may feel strange. It may be awkward for them. So, if they act in a way you didn't expect, don't give up. Try again some other time. It may been a bad day for them. Don't let it drop there. Ask a brother or sister in Christ to sit next to you during the service. That will make them feel included. I would suggest same gender to same gender. 

It's easy to do nothing and turn away, pretend they are not there. But that doesn't help them OR you. Think about why God designed fellowship for believers. No one is exempt if they take medicine of any kind, or have a disease or illness. How do you think prayer requests get passed around to other believers unless they know someone who is in need of healing from God. Help someone get connected to others and connected to Bible studies and any other groups that would be beneficial. They need that fellowship connection too.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Week of March 27-31: Throwback Thursday-You Are Stronger Than You Think


I think it's a myth when some people view people with mental disorders as weak-minded. Just because people with mental disorders have hiccups in their brain and need help with those hiccups doesn't mean they are weak-minded. I don't think of myself in that way and neither should you. If you have a mental disorder, you have likely been through a lot in your life in dealing with it. That takes courage to hang in there and see it through, getting the help you need. And I believe you become stronger along the way. And you have probably become more educated about yourself, what your triggers are, how to respond to those triggers to regulate or stabilize yourself.

"I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (Phil 4:13)

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

God is with us every step of the way in our lives--when we were unsaved and now when we are walking with Him. He looks over us like a parent over a child, watching, listening, teaching, showing us things.

Don't think your mental illness swallows you up so much that you're not even you anymore. That is only one small part of who you are. Don't think you can't be used by God to help save the hopeless, to minister to others. Everyone is broken in one way or another. God uses broken people for His big picture of seeing this world come to know His son Jesus. You are a part of that big picture. So take your position and stand.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Week of March 27-31: Warrior Wednesday-What We Teach Our Children


The things we teach our children will have an impact on their lives in so many different ways--in negative or positive ways, how they view life, people, the way they think, their opinions. Children are shaped by the environment in which they grow and heavily influenced by their parents.

When my sister and I were young, our mother told us about how she struggled with being overweight as an adolescent and was made fun of. She taught us to always be aware of the feelings of people who were overweight because they are usually mistreated. That always stuck with me my whole life. I would try to put myself in their shoes and try to understand their feelings. I felt sorry for overweight people. That may have not been what they wanted from people either, but that is what stuck with me.

Then I had my own daughter. So from a young age I taught her to never make fun of overweight people and have compassion for people who look different than herself--whatever she might consider different. I added on to that also. She learned to not ignore introverted, shy people. I am an introvert and was very shy growing up. Often times I felt alone, shut out of groups, a third wheel, weird. It was just difficult for me to start a conversation, carry a conversation and very difficult to talk in a group of people. I was much better one-on-one. I told my daughter that the shy people wish that someone would come up and talk to them. My daughter is an extrovert. I also told her that introverts listen more than anything. They notice things more and pick up more about people than others realize. So she would sometimes talk to quiet people and draw them out of their shell a little. She genuinely cared about what they said and how they felt. She has learned empathy on levels that I don't think I've attained yet.

Another life lesson I taught her that was very important to me for her to learn was about how to view and think about mental health disorders and people that struggle with them. I have talked to her many times over about what I went through--all of it. She will ask questions sometimes. It's important she understand that people with mental health disorders are just people with an illness that needs to be treated like anything else. And when they get off their medication, things are not good for them or the people they are around--like most any illness. I taught her to not be afraid of people with depression, bi-polar or anything else. AND that Christians can deal with these same issues and still be Christians. The brain is an organ and needs help sometimes too. And we need to seek help in getting things in working order sometimes. And if we don't we are being irresponsible to ourselves and our condition will worsen--just like any other illness.

My daughter is currently on a mission's trip out of town. Yesterday they visited a mental health facility as part of the trip. She was so excited about going. And she said it was so amazing. I am looking forward to hearing what she has to say when she returns.

What you teach your children will have lasting consequences for their life. You can make it good or bad. Make them really good lessons they will take with them the rest of their life and maybe pass down to their children. To me, that's a grand inheritance.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Week of March 27-31: Truth Tuesday-We Are Not Less Than


I was watching a movie recently where the main character was a high-functioning autistic person. Autism comes in many forms under different names that I am not fully aware of. Thank goodness that autism is being taught to the public to aid in understanding the levels of autistic behavior and their social interaction limitations that can be adapted. Where people who were uneducated and didn't take the time or didn't care about learning what autism was were likely to call such a person 'weird'. They are born that way and they cannot help the behaviors that may be called such. Great strides have been made. At the end of the movie the director of the facility who offers care to children with autism--tells a couple whose son is autistic that his son is not less than. I thought, "Wow, that's right! They are not less than and people with mental disorders are not less than either."

What makes a person less than anyway? A neurological or mental disorder? I think not! An illness? I remember when HIV/AIDS came out in the 80s and people were scared to death of 'catching' it. Certain people were treated like pariah which was terrible. People thought you could catch HIV by just touching someone--until the public was educated. That illness affected everyone to the point where someone knew someone who knew someone who had HIV and/or had died from it. 

What if someone is a drug addict? Is he/she less than? That's a person who made some very poor decisions, but has a mother and a father who are probably worried sick about him--whether he'll ever come home alive. Then what about the harder synopses of someone who has murdered, stolen, assaulted people? Is this person less than? He definitely has a heart full of pain.

God sees everyone and loves everyone the same. There is nothing you can do to make God love you more or love you more than someone else who He loves. That's why the message of salvation is not based on works--'so that no one can boast.' But everyone lacks when they have not accepted Jesus as their Savior. When they do surrender their life to Jesus that hole is closed--it's a hole that's there that we search for all of lives to find, something we innately feel is missing. The missing part is easier to find than you think, but for some takes years to find--The missing link is Jesus. The saddest thing is when souls leave this life and never found that missing link to God, the Father.

No one is less than in God's eyes. We may get punished for wrong behavior and be held accountable for it in the case of someone who takes other's lives, but God doesn't love that person less. Take comfort today in knowing the creater of the Universe loves you more than you can imagine. If you haven't found the missing link. Do some digging and start a great journey as so many others have. It truly will be a new life for you.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Week of March 27-31: New Morning Monday-Psalm 139

I apologize for getting this out late. It's been a busy Monday morning with seeing off our daughter on a mission's trip for the week since she is out on Spring Break. 

I love Psalm 139 because it reminds me that God knew before I was ever in my mother's womb. He then, "knit me together in my mother's womb"--knows me that intimately. It's a great answer to those who wonder if God ever notices them or cares about them. This is only one of many answers to that question.

Psalm 139 (NIV)
Of David

"O Lord, you searched
me
and you know me.
You know when I sit and
when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts
from afar.
You discern my going out
and my lying down;
you are familiar with all
my ways.
Before a word is on my
tongue
you know it completely,
O Lord.

You hem me in--behind
and before;
you have laid your hand
upon me.
Such knowledge is too
wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your 
Spirit?
Where can I flee from
your presence?
If I go up to the heavens,
you are there;
if I make my bed in the
depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the
dawn,
if I settle on the far side of
the sea,
even there your hand will
guide me,
your right hand will hold
me fast.

If I say, 'Surely the
darkness will hide me
and the light become night
around me,'
even the darkness will not
be dark to you;
the night will shine like
the day,
for darkness is as light to
you.

For you created my inmost
being;
You knit me together in
my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am
fearfully and
wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden
from you
when I was made in the
secret place.
When I was woven
together in the depths
of the earth,
your eyes saw my
unformed body.
All the days ordained for
me
were written in your book
before one of them came
to be.

How precious to me are
your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of
them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the
grains of sand.
When I awake,
I am still with you.

I only you would slay the
wicked, O God!
Away from me, you
bloodthirsty men!
They speak of you with evil
intent;
your adversaries misuse
your name.
Do I not hate those who
hate you, O Lord,
and abhor those who rise
up against you?
I have nothing but hatred
for them;
I count them my enemies.

Search me, O God, and
know my heart;
test me and know my 
anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way
everlasting.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Week of March 20-24: Forward Friday-Spring Forward


Spring brings newness to life in so many ways that I really appreciate. The obvious ones like green grass peaking through the brown grass, the perennial flowering trees finally blooming and just being able to get out into warmer weather--at least a little warmer. Spring is an opportunity to come out from the shadows of Winter, to uncurl into the light, to see splashes of color. And so it's also a great time to do all kinds of activity. Getting out and moving and doing will improve your mental health. Winter can be a very depressing time for many people, but once again we can be one with nature and the great outdoors.

My family likes to hike and walk on trails. I started a new tradition of taking a rock from every hike we go on and writing the name of the place and date of where we went. I plan to have a treasure trove of rocks in the house. Is there something you or your family likes to do as a tradition. Make it extra special by adding a new tradition with it that will help you remember those times.

Do some research in your area of places to go walking or running just to get out of the house. Or if that's not your thing, go to a coffee shop and take your Bible study homework with you. I've done that before. Or if you can't concentrate that way then go to the library. I grew up going on many summer vacations and we always went to museums--there was always some educational aspect to the trips we went on. That instilled in me a love for museums and to keep learning. Maybe there's something you always wanted to learn about or learn how to do--go out and do it. Take the initiative and put yourself out there.

What else comes to mind when you think of going outdoors? Cooking outdoors! Woo-hoo for grilled steak and hamburgers. My husband was formally trained in the culinary arts so we get to enjoy the fruits of his labor :-) And those cookouts with your family, church family and friends. You can't beat that. That's awesome fellowship folks! So get out there this weekend and make some traditions that will last for years and then you can blog about it someday ;-) God Bless, Y'all

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Week of March 20-24: Throwback Thursday-A Typical Day In A Psychiatric Ward

When people hear about someone having gone to a psychiatric hospital or ward of a hospital they may picture some horrific scene of the past--something scary. As I have mentioned before here, I was in a behavioral hospital twice and in the psychiatric ward of a hospital 4 times. The worst thing I ever saw was a guy stealing pants from another patient's room, acting strange and then got belligerent. So he had to be subdued, but not in a violent way. So, it really wasn't as bad as one might imagine.

I thought I would go through a typical day of routine in the psychiatric ward I was at, what patients were told or thought about certain things so you have some idea. I am not saying that this is the same routine that all such places follow, but this is what I experienced.

The day begins with everyone having to get up between 8:00 and 8:30 to eat. There are about 3-5 counseling sessions during a typical day and nothing on the weekends. They vary on discussion, but are all related to depression or coping skills or discussing care management once the patient is released. The first session starts at about 9:30 or 10:00. There would typically be two sessions before lunch and then two afterwards until about 3:00 or 3:30. Everyone gets about a 45 minute break between sessions. A lot of the counseling sessions include getting handouts which I still have on various subjects. Some are more of a teaching session while others are group discussion. The rumor among the patients was that if you didn't attend the group sessions then the your insurance would not pay for the inpatient care. It turns out after I had gotten a copy of my medical records that the staff did note whether patients attended sessions and participated in what they were asked to do. All of that went in the file. It was a way for the doctor and social workers to judge the behavior of the patient and was a deciding factor sometimes on whether a patient was improving, or not. There were lots of times I didn't want to go to counseling sessions and wanted to go back to bed and sleep, but they didn't want patients doing that. It doesn't help them to go back to bed and sleep the day away like they could at home. They want patients to learn how to cope and care for themselves when they get home.

At different times throughout the day a staff member will ask how you're feeling or sit down with you and ask a series of questions from a form which I learned later goes into your medical records. Visits from psychiatrists occur off and on during the week, but again, nothing on weekends. The weekend is rather lonely because there is nothing to do, no one around except for basic staff. The patient who arrives on a weekend is usually at a disadvantage, in the environment I was in, when you're at your most vulnerable in getting help because there are no doctors to see, no social workers to visit with. So, you have to wait until Monday rolls around and hope you get to see a doctor soon.

The social workers are a huge help in facilitating the care in a patient's recovery. They have more time to spend with the patient than the psychiatrist does, but they relay information back to the doctors for their consideration in treatment. Social workers will also sometimes arrange a meeting with the parents or guardian present to work through issues where a mediator is needed. Sometimes they offer an open discussion meeting where parents of any patient can come in a group setting and talk about mental health care. The patient has to be the one to invite family member(s). I always had my husband and/or mother come to these sessions so they could learn and hopefully understand a little better what I was going through.

Individual patient laundry had to be done by the patient if he/she was there for an extended period of time and only had limited clothing. The rooms (2 to a room) were shared with another room and a bathroom in between. Obviously, shared rooms had to be of the same gender. Clothing, such as robes were provided for those who didn't know they would be kept in the hospital psychiatric ward. 

Once a patient reached a certain level of improved care, they were allowed to leave the psychiatric ward during meal time and go eat in the hospital cafeteria which was a treat. Dinner was usually at 5:00. Then after that was free time until bedtime. Medication had to be taken around 8:00, I believe. Medication was also given in the morning and sometimes at lunch time, depending on what meds you were taking. The doors to the rooms can never be closed during the night. The staff did night checks by peaking through the crack of the door to make sure everyone was sleeping.

It was made obvious to me and my family during one of my hospital stays in the hospital ward that I was no longer able to work. I had been working full time when all my mental issues started. I moved down to a 75% work schedule. I quit my stressful job and got another job I thought I could handle and thought was less stressful. That didn't work either. I was still having mental breakdowns and couldn't handle any stress. I would get overwhelmed and then I'd crash. As I've mentioned before, it took a long time to find the right medications that worked together for my chemical makeup. Everyone is different. So what works for me may not work for someone else.

Once I was ready to be discharged--I would be moved into outpatient care where I would come in to the same psychiatric ward to attend the counseling sessions, have lunch, finish the other sessions and go home. I did everything that was asked of me. I just wanted to get better and be able to function at home full time.

Most of the patients I met where bi-polar. Only once did I meet a patient who was OCD like me and clinically depressed. It was actually comforting to talk with the patients because they knew what depression felt like, they understood those thoughts, those feelings. I met one person who was schizophrenic and he was so nice--a young man, about 20 years old. His medication had gotten out of wack and he was there to get stabilized and get back on track. So, his first 2-3 days were spent sleeping. He would go to the counseling sessions and sleep because he couldn't help it. That's the main thing doctors want patients to do well while they are there--sleep, especially while they are getting their meds worked out. Once he came around, he was so nice to talk to. But I felt so sorry for him that a young man had to experience and live his life with schizophrenia. His mother was very supportive and even came to one of the family support group meetings.

Unfortunately, this wing of the local hospital where I live was closed and made into something else about 5 years ago. There is a new behavioral hospital being built where I live to open in October of this year. It will be a big help to the community, hopefully.

I hope, if anything, that sharing this has made it sound less scary to those who perhaps NEED to go into a hospital setting, if suggested by your doctor. It's not scary at all. And hopefully, there is a deeper understanding of mental health patients that maybe you didn't have before that will soften your heart and lessen your fear.