3 To-Do’s 4 Xmas Blues


Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year! But this time of year can also yield bouts of depression, or “blues” for people. I’ve had the Christmas blues before. It’s not that I wasn’t thankful for Christmas; rather, I had Christmas nostalgia and sadness at the same time. If you are having the blues, here are 3 things I’ve done. I am not a professional, just someone who’s been there and writes about it.

1️⃣ Consider Christian counseling in December. If you go once a week, that equates to four sessions. It’s probably the best Christmas gift you could give yourself because you are giving yourself the gift of release and peace. Don’t have the resources this time of year? Then when asked what you want for Christmas, tell them a 4-pack counseling session. If it’ll bring joy to you, it’ll bring joy to them to give it.
2️⃣ Go to Church. One of the hardest things to see is someone who tells me that can’t go to church because they’re sad. This can not be! The FIRST place we should run to in our sadness is God’s hospital. There is a supernatural, healing, holistic experience awaiting you that ONLY God can offer. Yes you will have to miserably drag yourself there, but I promise, you will leave better than you came.
3️⃣ Give. Give, give, give, give, give. Give old clothes to the homeless, give donations to your church, give time to the elderly, give free babysitting to a single mom, give volunteer hours. It’s true that it’s more blessed to give than to receive…I would also add…it’s more healing. It’s the ultimate paradox: giving away fills up. And that’s just what an “empty” soul needs–a fill-up. I hope this encourages someone today. May you know His peace.

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Kindness:
Weakness or Strength?


One of my new fav buds, Bailey, speaks for many of us when she says kindness can be her weakness and strength.  I don’t wanna blow up this post with opinion, experience or psychological babble. Let’s get right to The Source: what does GOD say about kindness?  “But the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its varied expressions: joy that overflows, peace that subdues, patience that endures, kindness in action, a life full of virtue, faith that prevails, gentleness of heart, and strength of spirit. Never set the law above these qualities, for they are meant to be limitless.” [Galatians 5:22-23] See, what I take from this verse is that kindness comes from God’s Spirit within me.  When I accepted Jesus into my life, his Spirit’s fruit began to germanate in my soul. Kindness is not mine to give, take away, or be taken advantage of. I’m just the fruitbowl! HE’s the fruit! So perhaps my kindness struggle is a perspective thing. If I see my “Kiwi of Kindness” as God’s and not mine, then it’s not I who gets bruised when it’s taken advantage of; it’s God. And God can handle it.  So I just need to grow, grow, grow that kiwi of kindness and give, give, give it away. How someone may pluck or bruise it, is between them and God. I love how this verse ends: “meant to be limitless.”  There’s a surplus of hatred in this world, let’s let kindness step up and be the new [limitless] surplus.

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Like the Tin Man’s
Breaking Heart

My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death.–Jesus, Matthew 26:38
Now I know I’ve got a heart, because it’s breaking. –The Tin Man, Wizard of Oz
We all have a heart, and can I assume we’ve all had it broken? So has Jesus.  No heart broke more, hurt more, anguished more, than His.  In life, one of the times I can feel the loneliest is when my heart is breaking. During those times, it seems like nobody runs parallel to my pain. You too?  But Jesus does.  When my heart is breaking, He runs parallel to my pain because He knows what it’s like – his empathy is my therapy. Also, when I asked Jesus into my life, He came to live in my heart. You can’t get closer to a broken heart than within it. These being said, only He can fix it.  A sick heart can be fixed by a doctor.  A broken heart is fixed by Jesus, M.D.  He doesn’t need a knife, anesthesia, or even time.  As soon as your heart is breaking…His is too and He is immediately there to begin mending.  Surely, we’ll have hearts that break. Unlike the Tin Man, we won’t need to travel on a brick road, hoping the wizard is behind the green curtain.  We travel as far as a barely-there, whisper-of-a-prayer, and know God’s already in our heart, ready to repair.

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Spirit of Heaviness

I often troll the bible looking for mind-verses. One thing I discovered is there’s no therapy-book like God’s book. It is the book of life because it’s a double-edge sword against thoughts of death. It is a book that buries itself like treasure in your belly when you read it, NEVER to return void. It is the book that, when stored in your heart and uttered aloud, will make the enemy flee. It is a very powerful mental-health resource, and it’s free and accessible to all of us. I was thrilled when I came across Isaiah 61:3. God says He can give, “the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” To me, this says WITH God, we can exchange heaviness for praise. How? Simple: by praising Him. It sounds intellectual and theological, but I’m neither one of those, so I know this is achievable. We “praise” all the time at sporting events, concerts, ceremonies, birthdays. Praising God is celebrating Him, with emotion and voice, like we do at those aforementioned venues. But unlike those venues, praising God isn’t bound by venues; it’s pure, non-idyllic reverence of the REAL ONLY GOD. On a jog as the sun rises, after a storm when a rainbow pops out, after a prayer is answered, during a song of worship at church, I praise (celebrate, cheer, compliment, thank) God. If you are in a spirit of heaviness, try praising. Exchange your heaviness for His praise. There’s nothing to lose, and like God promises in Isaiah 61, a garment to gain!

 

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The Wondherful Life Gift Box


A few years ago, I received a call about a young girl who attempted suicide. I didn’t know her. I told my friend I would pray for her.  Let’s pause for a commercial<<when we say we will pray for someone, sometimes we won’t know the details and we don’t need to. We are praying to the omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent God. Our prayer is ushering down the Savior of the world to a situation WE can not save, but He can. If you tell someone you will pray for him/her, pray.  You may be the only one in the world who will.>> Returning to our regularly scheduled post:  I was praying for this girl, but I wanted to do more. Through my friend, I was able to get in contact with mom. Through mom, I was able to ask mom if I could give her daughter a gift box. Maybe because I used to be a young girl with the same struggle? Maybe because a gift box could be a tangible extension of prayer? Maybe because my love language is “receiving gifts,” so to give one is to relay, “you are loved.”  Anywho, I met mom at a local spot, and gave her a gift-box to give her daughter. Unknowingly, that was the beginning of the “wondherful life gift box.”  Sometimes, I give it to a loved one to personally deliver. Sometimes, I deliver it myself to the hospital or psych ward. Sometimes, I ship it. Sometimes, the person who attempted suicide dies, so I give it to the grieved. It’s not always the same contents–that’s modified with gender, age and spiritual-season. But the box always contains: a bible, book and/or journal, a “No Perfect People Allowed” tee and an invite card to Church by the Glades (even out-of-towners because we livestream our services!)  Back in 2000, when I was discharged from a psych ward for suicide, I wasn’t functioning at normal-pace. Life definitely moved me from the HOV lane to the semi-truck lane. I was home-bound, medicated, lethargic, and only able to make counseling/psychiatrist appointments. However, when I look back at my books, journals and bible, I have proof those were part of my pace…and subsequent recovery. Not because I’m super-spiritual, but God was a safe place, and where He was, I wanted to be.  I hope this encourages someone today. And if you know someone who needs a wonderful life gift box, let me know.

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When People Need From You

I love this verse I came across today: “Samuel was displeased with their request and went to the Lord for guidance.” [1 Samuel 8:6] One verse, THREE takeaways…
  1. To me, the first six words are quite liberating. Who requests things of you? Bosses? Coworkers? Peers (in the name of pressure)? Old friends? New friends? Patients? Addicts? Students?  What I like in this verse is the instinct to request; but also the permissible response to be displeased by it. People request a variety of things from me.  Sometimes my human-heather is displeased. The old adage is true that we can’t please everyone–which means displeasure is sometimes normal and ok.
  2. But the second five words are important too. Samuel was displeased with his people’s request.  But he didn’t throw shade on his people. He didn’t throw-up gossip on his squad. He didn’t vent to social media with subliminal-messages. He went to God. Did he go bananas, throw up and vent to God? Maybe. But that’s OK–God can handle it, He’s got the big(gest) shoulders. I need to go to God with requests of others–especially if I’m struggling with them. Because God is NOT struggling with them, so He is truly the perfect source of stable and sane help.
  3. Which leads to my last takeaway… Samuel asked God to guide him with the requests and his displeasure. Nowhere in this text is there subtext that Samuel wasn’t sure or was iffy if God would respond. He went to God fully anticipating God would give him guidance. Do you? Do I? These last two words raised my game in anticipating God to give me guidance.  To not add worry IF God will guide to my impending need FOR God. To have CONFIDENCE in his GUIDANCE!
One small verse, depths of application. I hope this encourages someone today.

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When Panic Attacks

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A Beautiful Mind

“A Beautiful Mind,” was based on a true story about a paranoid schizophrenic named John Nash. John’s biggest obstacle was the many voices he heard in his head, which ALL seemed real. In the movie, John says: “We all hear voices. We just have to decide which ones we are going to listen to.” True, True. Often, we hear different voices in our head.  As a Christian, I KNOW God’s voice is in there, but distinguishing it above all others is my dilemma (and goal!). How can God’s voice be THE voice? I found a cool answer in John 10: “The shepherd walks right up to the gate…and the sheep recognize his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice. They won’t follow a stranger’s voice but will scatter because they aren’t used to the sound of it.”  From this, I found two things to help me. One, “the sheep recognize his voice.” If I was a little girl and was at a crowded Nordstrom’s Rack because there was an amazing shoe sale, and I couldn’t find my Dad but I could hear my Dad, I would walk toward the voice of my Dad. Similarly, with God, His voice is going to be trusted and sound right. It won’t confuse me. It won’t contradict scripture. It won’t “compete” for the first-placement of other voices. His voice is a prevailer, clear, truthful, all-loving. If any of these are in question, it’s not His voice. Two, “they are familiar with his voice.” When I’m wondering, “God, are you there? Is that you?” It shouldn’t sound foreign. Back to the shoe-sale, what if the voice sounded like my Dad, but it was in Portuguese? Then I would not go to that voice. My Dad’s voice is familiar to me–in English, only. God’s voice will be familiar to you, the longer you walk with God. But you have to walk with Him day-by-day-by-day-by-day. If you aren’t hearing his voice, one self-consideration is, am I walking closely enough to Him to hear it? I know this is a basic post–but so am I.  Besides, I don’t wanna keep you longer than my 1-minute promise! I hope this encourages someone today!

 

 

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Onward
Courageous Leader!

I was born a leader and I don’t mean that as a self-paid compliment. I literally didn’t have a say in the matter because my parents had three boys after me. Thus positioning me as the oldest of four and posturing me as the leader (babysitter) to them. In the book of Joshua, Joshua didn’t really have a say in the matter, either. Especially when the Father above all Fathers called him into his leadership role! In Joshua 1, God literally speaks to Joshua and says, “Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people.” Growing up, I had to lead my brothers a lot because both of my parents had to work; but I only had to lead three of them for a few hours. When God called Joshua to leadership, he had to lead more than two million people into a foreign land. There are a lot of leadership characteristics required of such a fete, but as I read Joshua 1, there was one that stood out: courage. In this one chapter, where God calls Joshua to his newfound leadership and mission, “be strong and courageous,” is used four times. And of those four, God delineates further, and in verse 7 says, “be strong and VERY courageous.” Courage got the “very,” as in, the further emphasis. In today’s emojis, that would be like a fist bump, a bicep, an exclamation point and prayer hands. Courage is essential in leadership, from leading three brothers in a home to leading millions into a strange land, and everything in between. It took courage to lead my three brothers during midwestern tornado warnings. It took Joshua courage to lead the Israelites through enemy territory. It takes courage to lead a marriage through a violation of trust; it takes courage to lead a child through rebellion; it takes courage to lead a business through a bad economy; it takes courage to lead oneself through an addiction. Someone once said, “Leadership isn’t the absence of fear but the courage to walk through it.” WHERE are you leading but lacking the courage to walk through it? WHO you are leading but lacking the courage to walk through it? The lion asked the fictional Wizard of Oz for courage; but we ask the true Lion of Judah, King of Kings and Lord of Lords! Commit to asking God for courage! Commit to asking God to remove your fear. Don’t know how? It’s ok! I had to learn too. Here’s a prayer you can commit to praying each day, based on Joshua 1: “Lord, help me to be strong and courageous! Don’t let me be afraid or discouraged. Be with me wherever I go. Amen!” I hope this encourages someone today!

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Don’t Give Up
Be The Snail 🐌🚢

Do you ever want to give up? Do you know what God says? “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial,” (James 1:12) Parent, persevere when your child is stressing you. Spouse, persevere when you don’t feel love. Boss, persevere when your team isn’t getting it. Volunteer, persevere when nobody is noticing. Student, persevere when you failed a test. Addict, perservere when you are tempted. And GOD declares that *when* you do…you will be blessed! One of my favorite quotes of ALL TIMES is, “By perseverance the snail reached the ark.” (Charles Spurgeon). Through every temptation and trial to quit, those two snails kept scooting. With every slow, slimy, wobbly scoot, they got closer to the ark. And we know they made it to the ark from the worldwide flood, ‘cause I have them in my yard to this day! You keep scooting. You’re closer than you think. You will make it if you persevere. You won’t make it if you quit! And parent, the child who overwhelmed you? Only made you melt when he wanted your shoulder to cry on. And spouse when you didn’t *feel* love anymore? You replaced it with action and gave love a second chance. And leader whose team didn’t get it? One day, their united lightbulb went off and they reached that goal. And volunteer, your service that was unnoticed? Is getting a standing ovation by ten thousand angels in Heaven. And addict, that addiction? Is one day a faint memory eclipsed by a new freedom! And student, the test you failed? Makes you more determined for the next one; and you do the best yet. Be the snail. Persevere. Scoot. You’ll get to your ark. Your blessing awaits!

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