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When You've Reached Your Limit

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...

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
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
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 
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
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

For you created my inmost
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
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
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
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

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.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Week of March 20-24: Warrior Wednesday-What Are You Hiding?

Are you mentally exhausted with how much you fight with yourself? What am I talking about? Are you trying to live with your mental issues without getting help? Are you afraid to seek help for fear someone will find out that you have depression? I mean people think you have it all together, but what if they find out otherwise? Will you lose your friends? Will you be treated differently? What are you hiding?

If these are questions that you ask yourself then it's time. It's time my friend, my fellow believer to step forward on your own behalf, being your own advocate to get what you need. The Lord shared this with me recently and spoke to something in my life:

"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power, of love and of self-disclipline." (2nd Timothy 1:7, NIV).

You may need to read that again. We are not meant to be timid in any way, shape or form, including your mental health. Don't be knocked down by those voices you play in your head--maybe people have said hurtful things or maybe this (I've experienced this one)--you've heard other Christians say things when the subject of people with mental issues comes up--and it's not a good thing. So, you don't want to be grouped with THOSE people because then they may talk about YOU that way. Ignorance is blatant folks from people who usually fear the unknown. That's our nature. I was one of those people a long time ago. I was always afraid of going crazy because of depressive episodes that started when I was 13. I'm not 'crazy' but I have mental health issues that are treated. I take medication. I have a psychiatrist. AND I AM A CHRISTIAN. Is that an oxymoron, cause those things don't sound like they go together?!

Do you care more about what people think or what God thinks? If you had to choose? Who are you trying to please while living in this world? Who will be with you to the very ends of the Earth? You have your answer.

These are tough questions, but they are meant to be. We have to ask ourselves tough questions sometimes that are not pleasant. But if it gets you to surrender your mental health to God instead of caring what people will think of you--then praise Jesus! He wants good for you and that means your emotional goodness too! He gave us feelings and emotions. He doesn't want our emotions to suffer when they can be treated by the hands of people He puts in our path. Accept it and move forward to emotional stability.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Week of March 20-24: Truth Tuesday-A Life Manual

"All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NIV)

Every Christian knows that the book we pick up every week to read is a life manual. Sometimes, I don't think we fully grip in our mind what that means. We should be turning to it time and again for anything in our lives--troubles, joy, confirmation, nurturing and guidance.

"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12, NIV)

The Word of God is straight forwardly all-powerful. It truly is our life manual. Some people dispute its validity in this age we live in now. But nothing changes. As Hebrews tells us in 13:8, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." He never changes. So, therefore, His Word never changes. 

If you're at a place in your walk where you have dry bones and haven't opened your Bible in a while--ask God to give you fresh water, a fresh desire to read His Word. I have been there. Most people have--if not all Christians, if they were honest with themselves. Not everything is mountaintops and roses in our walk with God. If it was then we would have no reason to lean on God and His Word. A lot can be learned in those valleys however uncomfortable they may be. But don't lose heart or give up. God hasn't moved. He's still there walking with you and waiting lots of times for us to just turn to him and surrender our selfishness, our I-think-I-can-do-this-on-my-own mentality. We can't do this thing called life alone--people do, but having lived half my life not knowing the Lord--I would never want to go back to living without God. The Bible says see and taste that the Lord is good. Once you taste that goodness you will want to love and be loved by the Savior who gave His life for you. Nothing is more powerful than that.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Week of March 20-24: New Morning Monday-A New Song

Psalm 40:1-5

"I waited patiently for the
he turned to me and heard
my cry.
He lifted me out of the
slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place
to stand.
He put a new song in my
a hymn of praise to our
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the
Blessed is the man
who makes the Lord his
who does not look to the
to those who turn aside to
false gods.
Many, O Lord my God,
are the wonders you have
The things you planned for
no one can recount to you;
were I to speak and tell of
they would be too many to

Friday, March 17, 2017

Week of March 13-17: Forward Friday-Bible Journaling

I am so excited to share this with you all. But first I have to give you a disclaimer before I get to all the fuss and fun of today's blog. 

Disclaimer: I am in no way sponsored or affiliated with any of the products or persons mentioned in today's blog regarding Bible journaling. All and any references to products or to those using said products are purely the opinion of the author (me).

Okay, with that out of the way do you know what the craze of Bible journaling is? Let me first say that the reason I am writing a blog entry about it is because it's an excellent, yes excellent way to get into the Word of God more, memorizing verses, meditating on the Word, and incorporating your artwork (or not) with the Word of God. That is essentially why and what Bible journaling is. You may already be doing this or have never heard of it. I stumbled onto it when looking at Pinterest (link goes to Bible Journaling on Pinterest). I will be incorporating a lot of graphics of examples of Bible journaling in this blog entry so you can see what it is (none of these are mine), how far or little you want to go with it--it doesn't matter--you do what YOU want to do. And comparing to others is illegal. Not really, but it should be.

I know this seems to be geared more towards the gals, but I'll have you know that my husband is getting one so he will have more room in the margin space to right his notes. Yes, my husband, daughter and I are going to be joining the many others of Bible journalers. I am SO excited. I am artsy so this is an awesome way for me to incorporate artwork in with the Word of God. It was actually something I was praying about. I was getting back into art, but was wanting to include God with it in someway. And then I stumbled upon it. 

I did grab my own Bible which is an NIV Thompson Chain Reference Bible so there are some smaller column areas on the side margins where the 'chain' references are. So, I used artwork for about 3 different verses and was very pleased. But I realized I did specifically want a journaling Bible which has a 2-inch margin (for your artwork) on the outer edges of each page. Actual journaling Bibles can be found at CBD (Christian Book Distributors) or at the place that I believe started the craze for Bible journaling called Illustrated Faith. CBD also sells pens and highlighters that do not bleed through the pages. Journaling Bibles average in price around $26 if you don't get a leather one. If you go shopping for one, be sure to note whether you are getting a 1- or 2- column Bible. I think the 1-column Bibles give you more margin space or it would seem that way, but ask. Also, some of the Bibles I found, if getting an ESV, for example have reading plans with them that I didn't want. So be an educated buyer when you purchase.

When I checked on YouTube, I fell upon a Bible journaler that has a channel there named hello jillsky. She has several videos about Bible journaling starting for beginners on up. But there are many YouTube videos on this subject. So, sift through those to get some more ideas if you're interested.

As you can see from the examples I have shown, you have people who keep their journaling or artwork in the margin areas. And you have people who go all out like this picture to the left. It's beautiful work. My preference is to still be able to read my Bible while journaling. Now, you can still use watercolor or acrylic paint (a thin layer) and still be able to read your Bible which I'm all for doing that. I just don't want to completely cover up the words. That's the thing about this: do what you want with your journaling and DO NOT COMPARE YOURS WITH ANYONE ELSE.

What if you're someone who is interested in this, but you can't afford or don't want to buy a special journaling Bible? The only most obvious downside is that you won't have enough margin space to do your journaling. Most Bibles have their margins filled to the brim.  But I tested it on my own regular Bible like I mentioned earlier. I learned from a YouTuber who was doing some special artwork and then transferring it into her Bible--there's a way to get around the dilemma of working with the thin Bible pages and avoid bleeding to the next page underneath and the pages after. If you're a painter or artist who has worked with acrylics and oils then you will know what I'm talking about. It is like gesso. But the particular product I use is:
-Golden brand Acrylic Glazing Liquid (Gloss). This can be found at Michael's and other art type stores. All you do is put a little bit of this in on a plate, a small amount. Mix just a little amount of water. I suggest using a medium to large size flat brush to paint with.  It will paint on very easily and be very shiny. I recommend you place a sheet of wax or parchment paper behind the page you are working on. Let the coats dry in between really well before beginning your journaling. I have tested this method and used acrylic paint with a credit card (like the ladies at Illustrated Faith have suggested) using a thin layer of the paint, I tested it with watercolors all over the page, pens. Nothing has bled through any of the pages I've tested. I suggest testing pages in the back of your Bible if you are wanting to try this.

I hope this blog entry has excited and not bored you. I know not everyone is going to get excited about using artwork in your Bible. But let me reiterate that you can do this without covering the words in the Bible and still read it, if that is something that bothers you. So, do your own research for resources if you are fantastically excited. You'll find a lot out there. Happy Bible journaling!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Week of March 13-17:Throwback Thursday-When Things Don't Go As Expected

I remember when I had gone through the first shock-to-my-system of going to a behavioral hospital for the first time. I believe I was there for 2 weeks. When I was going to be going home I went thinking, "Okay, they've got me on meds, I've had counseling, I should be good to go." I was home only a week before my symptoms came back and I headed back to the same hospital. I was so angry. I was angry at the doctors for not fixing me the first time, angry at myself for it happening a second time, angry I was having to take time out of my life and not able to care for my newborn baby. I was also embarrassed to have to go back again. I cried most of the time during my first admittance. And cried more during the second. The social workers, my doctor and staff were very supportive and understanding and many of them were Christians. 

I went through a lot of humility. When you are somewhere you don't want to be and have to be helped and lean on people to help you, you are vulnerable. I felt vulnerable so many times. As I have said in my bio--I was in and out of hospitals 6 times over a period of about 6 years. The last time I was in a behavioral hospital or psychiatric ward of a hospital was in 2006.

Having mental illness means we have to be led to places we don't usually want to go. But, if it's a safe, good environment then look at it like as what it only is--a temporary place to help you get better so you can take care of yourself when you go home, to get your medicine leveled out so all your meds work properly together. God can use these times. Don't take the solitude as punishment. Take your Bible, pray, focus on your care and getting better, talk with other patients (that was always a comfort to me because someone else understood what it felt like).

God will get you through this just like He's gotten you through other challenging times in your life. Just keep your eyes on Him and He will show you the way.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Week of March 13-17: Warrior Wednesday-Pressing On Toward The Goal

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:12-14, NIV)

I love that: "press on"--it's like saying, keep persevering, keep going, keep moving, don't stop, look to the future; not behind. We need not to look to the former things, but to keep our eyes firmly on the prize in front of us which in "heavenward in Christ Jesus." 

A journey like the one we are on as Christians, as we walk with God takes a lot more than if you looked at it as running after a prize. A runner can't keep running without stopping to rest at times, drinking water, eating. Our fuel is food, but it's also more that. We equip ourselves with the Word of God, our life manual. We pray, we fellowship with other believers on a weekly basis to build each other up and support one another. We study the Bible through Bible study groups. We grow in wisdom and love and so many other good characteristics that the baby Christian within us grows into a seasoned adult Christian. We are like vessels to be filled up by doing all these things and poured out to unbelievers to draw them into the kingdom of God with us.

Yes, the road gets rocky and sometimes the path looks like it's been trampled away and maybe hard to see. Or maybe it looks like there's a fork in the road in your life and you have to choose which path to take. Some paths have those thorny bushes that like to hit you in the face while other paths look like they have pretty flowers growing along the way. Don't compare your path with someone else's path. They are separate journeys, but to the same place. But they will be different. So don't look to the left or the right, keep your eyes on the prize and you will not falter on your journey. And don't forget, you can always ask your fellow journeyman for help.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Week of March 13-17: Truth Tuesday-Doubt

"Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, 'We have seen the Lord!' But he said to them, 'Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.' A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you!' Then he said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.' Thomas said to him, 'My Lord and my God!' Then Jesus told him, 'Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'" (John 20:24-29, NIV)

It's easy to let doubt creep into our minds. And the enemy loves to use that against us time and time again. He likes to cause us to doubt our faith, our trust in God, and what God has told us in His Word. Doubt is used as a weapon against us. So, if we know that it's used as a weapon, we should be ever more alert to be aware of it. Ask yourself when you start to doubt something out of the blue that you would not normally doubt.  

Those of us who have struggled with depression and mental disorders can find it easy to think we will never get better or get our illness under control, even though we are following doctor's orders and being responsible with our care. We've seen the worse of ourselves in things that are in chaos mentally. And we don't want to see it again. But we have a God who sees all, knows all and knows you! He wants to see you set free and live free:

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

Monday, March 13, 2017

Week of March 13-17: New Morning Monday-As The Deer Panteth

"As the deer pants for
streams of water,
so my soul pants for you,
O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for
the living God.
When can I go and meet
with God?
My tears have been my 
day and night,
while men say to me all day
'Where is your God?'
These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go with the
leading the procession to
the house of God,
with shouts of joy and
among the festive throng.

Why are you downcast,
O my soul?
Why so disturbed within
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
My soul is downcast
within me;
therefore I will remember
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of
Hermon--from Mount
Deep calls to deep 
in the roar of your
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.
By day the Lord directs his
at night his song is with
a prayer to the God of my

I say to God my Rock,
'Why have you forgotten
Why must I go about
oppressed by the enemy?'
My bones suffer mortal
as my foes taunt me
saying to me all day long,
'Where is your God?'

Why are you so downcast,
O my soul?
Why so disturbed within 
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
(Psalm 42, NIV)

Friday, March 10, 2017

Week of March 6-10: Forward Friday-God-Esteem

"But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him, The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV). This Bible verse is talking about the time when the Lord anoints David as King, but Samuel was thinking it was possibly someone else the Lord would anoint. 

The deep meaning of what the Lord says rings more loudly about how we should remember the way the Lord sees us. This is something I actually say often, "God looks at your heart." He cares nothing about the things the world cares about--the things the world advertises that we should need and buy to enhance ourselves to look better. It's all meaningless to Him. Although, that's one thing we do--we compare ourselves to others. Christians do it too. We compare looks, and it can be ugly. We try not to. It sets us up for an unhealthy look at ourselves and others. And it keeps our eyes on others; not on Jesus. Think of it literally. If you're looking at other people in the room with a critical eye, rather than keeping your mind and thoughts on Jesus, then your focus is in the wrong place. When you have God-esteem you don't worry or care about what people think about you. You want what God approves and learn from His disapprovals. Self-esteem is shallow and all about the 'self'. It changes the game plan completely when you have God-esteem. You are able to genuinely look at people, believers or not and love on them, see them as God sees them.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Week of March 6-10: Throwback Thursday-Fresh Manna

Back when the Israelites were walking in the desert with Moses, they had to depend upon God solely. They would look to Moses for everything. Then Moses would seek God on their behalf and wait for an answer. The problem we saw over and over was the Israelites complaining about everything, even when their requests were answered in their favor. They complained about their food. So God gave them food in the form of fresh manna every morning. Even though they were told to only collect each morning and to only eat that day's portion because what was left over would rot--they would hoard it anyway. And then find maggots and rot for themselves until they finally listened to the instructions they were told by God. Then God gave them instruction regarding the Sabbath. You shall gather twice the amount the day before the Sabbath because no manna will be given and collected on the Sabbath. Again, the Israelites refused to listen to instruction and went out on the Sabbath to collect manna only to find there wasn't any. The Sabbath was for rest, including collecting for food.

When I read that part of the Bible, it is difficult to not get irritated at the Israelites for complaining so much, not listening, and saying they had been better off in Egypt where they had been slaves. What?! Their behavior caused them to be led in the desert for 40 years and then another 40 years after that!
Do we listen to God's instruction or resist it? It all comes down to obedience. God loves it when we obey Him.

Here is what God told Abraham:
"This is what the Lord says: Because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your beloved son, I swear by my own self that I will bless you richly. I will multiply your descendants into countless millions, like the stars of the sky and the sand on the seashore. They will conquer their enemies, and through your descendants, all the nations of the earth will be blessed--all because you have obeyed me." (Genesis 22:16-18 NLT)

And in Jeremiah 7:23, NLT, "Obey me, and I will be your God, and you will be my people. Only do as I say and all will be well."

Our obedience says so much to God. It says 'yes' to trust, 'yes' to faith, 'yes' to love. It says 'no' to pride and 'no' to selfishness. Do you obey right away or do you wait awhile to make sure it's God talking or that He will change His mind? Hey, I'm right there with you. I don't always obey right away like I should. But God works it into us as we grow in Him. Our desires will change and our wants will change because God will change the focus of our wants and desires to line up with what He's doing and His will.

Our fresh manna is a new day spent with the Lord to obey, love, and trust Him. Over time, we may not see ourselves becoming more Christlike, but I bet the people who really know you, have spent a great deal of time around you can see the difference. It's up to us to make the move. What do we do with that fresh manna we receive everyday?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Week of March 6-10: Warrior Wednesday-Smash The Boxes

Do you color outside the lines? It's okay if you do. There are no rules about coloring outside the lines? We impose rules upon ourselves--or maybe it starts in pre-school or kindergarten when we're given a picture and told to color it. At first, very young children cannot color within the lines because the motor skills are not there. Then as they get older, you see this change and they WANT to stay within the lines. Because it just doesn't feel or look right when it's colored outside the box. Those of us with OCD might agree with that!

Our walk with God can look something like this if we think of it in terms of boxes. People can keep God in a box or let Him out where He belongs. The problem with putting God in a box is that your walk becomes legalistic and a big set of rules. God is so much bigger than the biggest box you could make in the world. You couldn't fit Him into a box! His power and what He can do is so beyond our comprehension in our finite minds that words cannot literally explain it. You start to lose a grip of the extensiveness of God's power and magnitude when you try to confine Him to a nice little space. And you lose out of experiencing a deeper walk with Him as a result. Does that scare you? Going deeper with God? Fear of the unknown is often scary to people. If you know God, but only at a certain level--and know his goodness--going deeper with Him can only bring a deeper understanding and breadth of knowledge of that goodness and love.

People who decide to become artists are told early in their career, perhaps in high school to think outside the box--unlike how they learned as young children. But for an artist, it's imperative to think outside a make believe box to expand their imagination and thought processes. 

Your walk is much more important in your life. Don't limit yourself or God on your journey. As He tells us in His Word, nothing is impossible with God.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Week of March 6-10: Truth Tuesday-Treasures In Jars Of Clay

Have you ever taken a pottery class? I never was too good at getting the shape to rise into a jar, a vessel. It would collapse and I'd have to start all over again. The process was a little hard, but I kept trying because I enjoyed the process, although a bit messy. It can be intimidating to look at the beautiful jars that others had made, painted and sitting on the shelf for all to admire. 

God sees us as those beautiful jars, but how did they get that way? Through twisting, turning, maybe a collapse or two before being resurrected and shaped and molded, edges smoothed perfectly. Then the owner paints them, picks out pretty colors to accentuate the jar's natural beauty. Then a glaze is painted over the paint. Next up is being placed in a kiln under an intensely hot fire that will turn the colors bright and the glaze over them smooth to the touch. After the fire, they are taken out and sit for a while before being united with its owner once more.

Can you see all the metaphors in the paragraph above?

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you." (2 Corinthians 4:7-12 NIV)

So you see, the stretching that is uncomfortable, the shaking that gets tiring, the testing, the re-testing, etc. is all turning us into being more like Christ and less of our flesh which is dying in the process of becoming more like Christ. We need to be moldable and teachable spirits to be willing to be changed no matter how tough it feels for we are all the better for it. To be more like Christ is to be less like the world. This is only a temporary home for us.

Yes, God change me when I know that will mean less and less pride, selfishness, envy, jealousy, etc. and more and more love, things that are noble, truthful, kindness, humility and much more.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Week of March 6-10: New Morning Monday-You Have An Advocate

According to dictionary.com here are the meanings of the word 'advocate':

1. to speak or write in favor of; support or urge by argument; recommend publicly (verb)

2. to act as an advocate (verb)

3. a person who speaks or writes in support or defense or a person, cause (noun)

4. a person who pleads for or in behalf of another; intercessor (noun)

5. a person who pleads the cause of another in a court of law (noun)

I like the part of #4 about being an intercessor. That is exactly what we have through the Holy Spirit:

"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will." (Romans 8:26-27 NIV)

The Holy Spirit is always our advocate only telling us what he is told by the Father. Jesus also intercedes for us in heaven. We are covered when it comes to having God-given advocates. 

You can also be an advocate for yourself if you have mental health issues. Step up and take the responsibility to get the help you need to be healthy for yourself and those who love and care about you. Your mental health affects more than just yourself. It affect those around you too. So, we need to make sure we are getting to those doctor appointments, takings the medications AS PRESCRIBED, if this applies to you, getting enough sleep and making the effort to get out of the house--to do other things that are positive. Only you can do this for yourself and you have to want to do it for yourself. It doesn't help your family if they take you to the doctor to get medication and you don't take it or you only take it when you feel like it. Think about those things. Make sure you make your appointments to see your counselor. I did Christian counseling for YEARS! It was so important to my recovery. We all have issues we need to work through and a counselor helps you do that. It can be a break-through for your recovery.

You can also help to be an advocate to someone you've met who has depression and maybe doesn't have a doctor. You can be a resource of help to them. Befriending them is one of the biggest helps they need.

As you can see, advocates come in many ways. We can always count on God to be there for us. Sometimes we need to be there for ourselves or for someone else.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Week of February 27-March 3: Forward Friday-How Do You Define Yourself?

What are the things that you would consider to define yourself? Married or single? A nurse, or teacher, or  IT tech? Your age bracket maybe? So, if you have mental health issues, how do you see yourself when it come to that? Does it define who you are or is just a small part of who you are?

You might turn that question back on me and ask me the same thing. Here is how I would define myself:

I am a Christian woman, age 49, married and mother of a teenage daughter. I am a stay-at-home mom or housewife which ever way you want to say it. Family time is a huge part of my life and doing whatever comes up. Art is something I really enjoy and am currently resurrecting my artistic talents from about 30 years ago with a love for watercolor painting and drawing. I also have a penchant for sewing.

Now, you may think I purposely left out my own struggles with depression just to make a point. I didn't because I honestly don't use that as a defining part of myself. It was a struggle and difficult part of my life and God has used it for good. If I used that as a definer of myself, it would put me in a box I don't believe me or anyone is supposed to be in. God doesn't look at me and see that blinking back at Him like a neon sign. I'm not defined by it, but I have no problem talking with anyone about it if it helps someone else. I own it, but it doesn't own me. Can you see the difference? You and I are more than a mental illness. That is how God sees you and I. And He sees you with a deep passionate love, a jealous love.

As you look forward to the days ahead, ask God to show you how He sees you. It will change your perspective of yourself and others because He loves them the same way.