A Lesson In The Crucible

God allows to happen that which will help the most amount of people for the longest amount of time. I am beginning to see that play out in my life more and more as the years go by. When I was a child, I had to live with a terrible hurt. It was either fight to live or die starving. I had a problem with my digestive system and my doctor convinced everyone I had an eating disorder. Almost everyone but my parents believed him and told me that all of my suffering was on me. It was my fault and I’m the only one who can change that. That if I wanted it bad enough, I could eat and be healthy. These words broke my heart because I was dying and there was nothing in this world that I wanted more than to be able to eat again. To be able to play, to climb the stairs in my home without having to stop and rest halfway up. My soul shattered. Everything inside me broke, I had no will to live anymore. No will to try. Even after the hospital figured out the true issue, and fixed my insides, I was still broken.

Through time, honesty, and the unfailing support of an incredibly loving man who is now my husband, my soul was mended and I began to love life again. Though I didn’t love myself, I told myself I did. I told others that I did but truly I didn’t and I tried to prove that I did to others as a way of trying to prove it to myself. I still struggle. I fear that I am too thin. That I am weak and can’t do anything for myself, but I am changing that perception.

Ephesians 2:10 says ‘For we are God’s masterpieces, he created us anew in Jesus christ so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.’

Every one of us goes through a crucible in our lives. God uses them to create us anew, to show us what we are capable of. To make us strong and ignite passion in us to do what he calls us to do, to follow his plan for our lives. Two things happen when we face a crucible; we get stuck and never allow ourselves to walk out of it, to let go and allow it to change us or we rise from the challenge. We allow ourselves to be changed. To grow and become stronger than we believe ourselves to be able to be.

A crucible ignites a passion. Mine became helping people overcome psychiatric disorders like I faced. I was told that I would need mind numbing medication to function normally for the rest of my life. I’m sure there are countless numbers of people, lost and scared and alone who are being told the same thing.

I want to challenge the world to reach for more. To break the mold and take back their lives from whatever crucible they are stuck in. Reach for the other side and find your purpose and your passion. Figuring out how to get to the other side reveals so much about who you are and where your passion is and I want to see that in this world. Honesty, creativity, deep thought, and love are seriously lacking and I believe that is why we are so stuck in depression, in anxiety, in pain. The world needs to figure out how to heal, but so many people are so stuck in their pain that they can’t even fathom finding a way out because some doctor offers them a “Cure” in the form of a pill.

Overcome your crucible. Dare to find your passion and allow it to lead your life. Learn to love and except yourself again. Trust me, it leads to a much more satisfying existence.

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Self care, how easy can it get?

I’ve been on the self care bandwagon for years now, ever since I heard the term in 2015. I’d always loved the idea of it, read everything I could on it, did everything in my power to become as much of an expert as I could on the topic of self care. Hoping. Praying that one day the actions would be as easy to do as they where to read on the page. But for years, easy and self care where just not even remotely on the same playing field. I struggled, and then put myself down for struggling. How hard is it to do something you enjoy? How hard is it to treat yourself? Apparently, it was extremely hard because I could never quite seem to grasp the concept.

Yesterday it clicked.

Small background, my husband recently switched to 3rd shift. He works 4pm- 4am and I work 6am to 2pm. Alone time was never something I enjoyed. Ever. My mom works 2nd shift and most of my friends are young moms, have their own hectic schedules or have moved and well life happens so for a while, with no family or friends to keep me company 24-7, I got depressed. And then I decided that I was better than that and beat the depression off with my journal and a pen.

That’s when the concept of self care finally made sense.

I was in the bathroom, I had just gotten out of the shower when I felt it…I wanted to do everything in my power to care for my body. It’s the only one I have after all and I want it to be strong and healthy for a long time to come. Because I’ve been practicing mindfulness, I watched this thought flow through and actively thought about it. What changed? What brought these thoughts to mind? I continued watching my thoughts and paying attention to my emotions and in a few short moments, I had my answer. I love myself. Really and truly I love myself. I want the best for myself and as long as that remains the truth, self care is a breeze. It’s second nature, I don’t even have to think about it because it’s what I actively want for myself!

Philippians 4, Road Map to Happiness

Philippians 4:6-8 “Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is TRUE, whatever is NOBLE, whatever is RIGHT, whatever is PURE, whatever is LOVELY, whatever is ADMIRABLE. If anything is EXCELLENT or PRAISEWORTHY, think about such things.”

This is my favorite verse and one that I am actively working into my thought life. It is literally a road map to happiness and peace. This verse is a step by step on how to make your life better, the only catch is that you have to follow it.

What does this even mean?

‘Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God.”

The biggest thing here, at least in my very unprofessional opinion, is the with thanksgiving part. So many times, when we pray, it’s just asking for things. Why can’t we show God our thankfulness? Even in the darkest hour, there is always something to be grateful for. Even if its being thankful that we have a loving God to listen to our woes.

‘And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’

It is my belief that coming to Christ with a grateful heart, is the foundation to feeling the peace of God. Having a grateful heart means surrendering to the will of God and the fact that there are things out of your control. It shows that you can see the good things in your life and you are doing more than asking for stuff like a spoiled child. Being thankful when we come to Christ in prayer makes your time with God feel more genuine and completely changes the tone of your prayer.

‘Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things’

Sooo, what are you thinking about? Is what you’re thinking about the truth? Are your thoughts noble? Are you looking at the situation in the right mindset? Do you focus on what is pure? Do you think about lovely things? Do you focus on what makes you admirable? Would you consider what goes through your head excellent or praiseworthy?  These thought patterns are the pillars of a healthy mind.

How do I change my thoughts to reflect these things?

Watch your thoughts. Next time you’re in a funk of depression, or anytime really, there is no bad time to start, pay attention to what kind of thoughts are floating around in your head. Pay attention to how you react and ask yourself if the situation warranted your reaction. Be nice to yourself, this is not about judgement, this is about learning so you can heal. Taking a step in the right direction and taking back control over your thoughts and your life.

Breaking the Lies that Steal Our Lives

Why is it so hard to get up the courage to help people? I feel like we don’t think we are relevant enough. I’m afraid to help him because he’s going to think I’m dumb. How am I going to help her when I myself am broken and can’t figure out my own life? We are each our very own unique brand of broken. We are buried under lies that we believe are truth.

The brain follows the mind, what you actively choose to think about becomes your brain. So when we hear something, or actively think a thought, that becomes a physical memory in our brains. Something bad happens because, well, life happens. We can’t control what happens, our power comes from how we choose to react to it. Those responses are also stored as memories in the brain. So if you think negatively, your brain doesn’t know how else to process information. The more you think about something, the stronger that memory becomes until it becomes your reality. This is how a lie becomes a neurological disorder. This is how a lie becomes a reality.

So how do we break that pattern? If it really is up to us, if we really do have a choice, how do we choose differently? That’s just it. Choose differently. Let me tell you from experience, it’s terrifying, but what a rush it is to actively take control of your life. It’s not easy, and it’s not instant, but it’s worth it and it works. This is not a one time thing. It takes practice and determination. How long have you been dwelling on the hurt? How strong is this memory? It’s going to take some time to reteach your brain and that’s ok. Its not just a one time, “that’s it, I’m done.” It’s a million choices that tare down the foundation of the lie and rebuild the truth. But you can do it. I believe in you.

What is Depression

What is depression?

Depression is…Depression is knowing that your house is a mess but you are too tired to clean it.

Depression is smelling the dirty dishes in the sink but the thought of washing them is overwhelming.

Depression is knowing that your husband is out of clean pants but you can’t wrap your head around washing them. And then putting them in the drier…and then, the part you dread most, folding them.

Depression is wanting to go outside and enjoy the beautifully warm fall day, but staying inside because you don’t feel like moving. And then hating yourself for it the entire time you’re laying there. Inside.

Depression is hearing your stomach growl with hunger but not being able to find the motivation to feed yourself. Let alone clean up after.

Depression is choosing to stay down even when the thought is tearing you up inside. Making you feel worthless. Telling you look. Look at all of these things that make you worthless. It’s so much easier to just. stay. down. Just don’t look at it and just don’t deal with it because it’s just too depressing.

 

What if we could change that? What if we mustered up the courage to take out that smelly trash?

What if instead of staying stuck in bed all day, we make the conscious decision to move to a chair outside?

What if we cleaned off the counter today because we’re worth it?

What if we made a sandwich?

What if we gave ourselves no other option but to tell that couch where to shove it and call a friend to go out for coffee?

What if we took matters into our own hands, into our own minds and decided to make a change? To figure out what happiness looks like and mirror our lives after that instead?

Not just once either. A million times. A million good decisions that lead to happiness. That lead to health and healing!

We are beautiful and powerful creatures. We have the power to create our own reality and to make good things in our lives for we are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of the most powerful King of Kings. What do we have to fear except for change?

 

The Hard Questions

“For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind”

-2 Timothy 1:17

If we sat down an thought about it, how many of us truly like ourselves? How many of us are truly as confident as we would like to be? How many of us actually want to sit down and think about these things, or are we too ashamed of what our answers might be?

Are we ashamed that the answer that we want, and the answer that is true are different from each other? If so, why can’t we live our lives to make the answers the same? It would take some work but is that really such a bad thing? Does hard work really make it that much more of a reward, or would we really be better off taking a pill for a quick fix?

Why are we so much more accepting of someone saying we are broken and need medication to fix our pains than someone who wants us to put in a little more effort? Are we so afraid of a little work? Or is it the responsibility of it all that we find hard to swallow?

These are the questions that keep me up at night, but maybe, I’m just afraid of the answers.

Happy Thoughts Wanted

Months ago, I started looking into mindfulness. I have experienced trauma in the past and had a LOT of trouble coming to terms with it. Ten years worth of trouble coming to terms with it. Because of this trauma, I developed anxiety and depression which I have been fighting a slow but winning battle against. Mindfulness, I feel, had made that slow battle kick up into a much faster pace. Mindfulness is a form of focused meditation. Every night before bed, I sit quietly, hugging my pillow to my chest, and start to focus on my breath. I don’t change it in any way, I don’t judge it, just watch it. Eventually my mind wanders and it’s OK, our minds are made for thinking, wondering is what they do. Instead of getting upset with the wondering and telling myself that I am wrong and bad at this and other nasty self thoughts, I see where my mind wondered to because it’s important and there’s a reason it went there, and gently bring my awareness back to my breathing. The key here is letting all this happen without judging yourself for it. Accepting it and releasing it before moving on. The second bit, is noticing where your thoughts are going, because after all, thoughts are important. They are the make up of the health of your brain and they should be paid attention to. There is a distinction however. Your thoughts make up what you are but your mind makes up who you are. The thoughts in your brain are just memories that you keep coming back to, the part that is paying attention to those thoughts is who you actually are. That is why you should never judge your thoughts, never judge your memories. Use your mind to redirect your thinking away from the ones you don’t want, and toward the ones you do want. Your mind is the captain that your brain has no choice but to follow. For me, this concept is filled with so much hope because it brings credence to the “be whoever you want to be” that we were always told as children. This concept tells you how it can be done.

 

After a few months of practicing the meditation, I began to see it bleed into other areas of my life. One such instance being about a month ago, I had a bad day and my darling husband came over to cuddle with me on the couch. I began to feel better before my subconscious rudely butted in and reminded me of the awful day I had. Good feelings gone. But I caught it. I was living at the moment and noticed the shift in my attention from the now to the day I had. Instead of being caught up in that emotional back slide, I brought my awareness to how good it felt to have the love of my life come and comfort me and eagerly welcomed back my good mood. The more I noticed these emotional shifts, the easier noticing them became. I became calmer, less reactive and an all around happier person.

 

My bouts of depression have not gone away completely, however they are less debilitating. I no longer call into work because of them and my house is becoming a much cleaner place to live. I still feel the emotional pit but it is no longer quick sand. I can pull myself out. My mental health is no longer a struggle because I now have the medicine I need and I require no prescription for it. I feel free.

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