Thursday, December 31, 2009

Develop a Strategy

By having a plan, you will find it easier to overcome depression.

Dr. Archibald Hart says, "You need to have a strategy for coping. You need to understand what you're doing and why you're doing it. You know for example that you don't have the energy to do things, yet there are things that have to be done. There are kids who need to be taken care of or a job you have to go to, so you need a strategy for dealing with that. Write it down. Take a notebook and write (1) wash dishes or wash clothes, (2). [etc.] Your memory is impaired, so you can't rely on memory."

Dr. Hart says that if you do not have a strategy in place, you will likely add to your own confusion and stress.

In the Bible, when Elijah was depressed, God gave him a strategy to deal with it. God's first instructions were, "Get up and eat." First things first. You have to take care of the basics in your life. Then you can formulate a plan to move forward from there.

"An angel touched him and told him, 'Get up and eat!' He looked around and saw some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again. Then the angel of the LORD came again and touched him and said, 'Get up and eat some more, for there is a long journey ahead of you.' So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him . . . strength" (1 Kings 19:5-8 NLT).

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dealing with Depression: Learn from the Depression

Your depression will begin to lift as you release your losses, but there is a final step in dealing with depression:

"You should never go through a depression without learning from it," says Dr. Archibald Hart. "Depressions tell you something about yourself, like a mirror to the inner values that you hold. By appropriately pausing at the end of the process to learn what you can about yourself, this is where the healing comes about in depression. You should be a better person after the depression than you were before."

The Bible says that sorrow is better than laughter. Why would that be true? Because when you are hurting and in distress, you are more apt to examine your heart and your motivations. You know your spirit is grieving, and you have the opportunity to deal with the root cause of the pain. It is far better to grieve and learn, than to be happy but a fool. What have you learned from your depression and grief that you can use to reinvest in a better future? What wisdom have you gained?

"Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us. A wise person thinks much about death, while the fool thinks only about having a good time" (Ecclesiastes 7:3-4 NLT).

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dealing with Depression: Put the Loss in Perspective

After you have identified and accepted a loss, you must then put the loss in perspective. Seek to understand how your losses fit into the whole scheme of life. This will help you to let them go.

After Job experienced deep suffering and severe losses, he finally realized that God is supreme and His ways are perfect. Job said to God: "I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?' Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know'" (Job 42:2-3).

Dr. Archibald Hart says, "This is where I think Christian believers have the edge when it comes to dealing with depression because God gives us a framework in which we can put all our losses. The apostle Paul writes in Philippians about counting all things as loss for the excellency of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord."

When you are able to look at a loss from the perspective of Christ, you will begin to experience the release of that loss.

"I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ. . . . I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead" (Philippians 3:8, 10-11).

Dealing with Depression: Accept the Loss

"I'm a fixer; I'm a problem solver," says Cathy. "That's what I do for a living—solve people's problems. Now, for the first time in my life, something had come up that I couldn't handle. There was no way I could fix it."

You are not going to "fix" what you lost. Neither will you "solve" your depression. Instead, you must accept it.

Dr. Archibald Hart says, "You have to move toward accepting the loss. Many people perpetuate their depression because they won't let go of a loss. The purpose of depression is to bring you to the place of letting go. In order to get to the place of letting go, you have to come to accept the reality of the loss."

Go down your list of losses. Say these words out loud for each loss, "I have lost this. I accept that this is no longer a reality for my life." Accept that you have lost each one. Every day you may need to pray that God will show you a new loss that you had not thought of before. Be thorough in your grieving, and be sure to face one loss at a time, taking as much time as you need for each loss. Some losses will be more difficult to accept than others.

"I cry out, 'My splendor is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the LORD is lost!'" (Lamentations 3:18 NLT).

Dealing with Depression: Identify the Loss

Let's look at some positive steps you can take to deal with your depression. The first step is to identify your losses.

"The divorce represents many, many losses," says Dr. Archibald Hart, "so you've got to try to identify the most significant loss first. Deal with that, move to the next significant loss. You may find that you've got quite a bit of work to do as you cycle through the various losses, but you have to identify the loss because you cannot grieve a loss that you don't know."

Beyond the loss of a spouse, you have to grieve many other significant losses. Perhaps you were forced to move from your home. Your ex-spouse may have gained custody of your children. Friends you had as a couple may pull back from you. Perhaps you haven't balanced a checkbook for years because your former spouse took care of finances; this too is a loss. You might not know how to cook meals or shop for a good vehicle since you lost the person who normally handled these things for you. Your list of losses can go on and on.

If you do not know what you are depressed about, then you cannot expect to get over it. It may help to write down each specific loss. Have a list that you can add to and subtract from as needed. Over the next three days we will discuss what to do with the losses you have identified today.

"I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss" (Lamentations 3:20 NLT).

Monday, December 28, 2009

How many children did Mary and Joseph raise?

Another question from Face Book

This is one of those points where Protestants and Catholics have different views.

The three oldest Christian churches (Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox) reject the view that Jesus had any siblings. These churches believe that Mary remained a virgin after the birth of Jesus, even though she was married to Joseph. They believe that it would not have been seemly for any human to be born from the same womb as Christ.

The Protestant churches refer to Chapter 13 of Matthew where it says,

54 Jesus went to his hometown and taught the people in the synagogue in a way that amazed them. People were asking, "Where did this man get this wisdom and the power to do these miracles?
55 Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother's name Mary? Aren't his brothers' names James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas?
56 And aren't all his sisters here with us? Where, then, did this man get all this?"
Matthew 13:54-56 GWT

The Bible indicates Jesus had 4 brothers: James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. It also mentions sisters, but we don't have any indication of how many sisters.

Are you allowed to highlight a Bible?

A question from Face Book

Hey Avienne!!!

I know you were asking your Dad but I couldn't resist and I know what he probably would say.

No, it is NOT bad to highlight in your bible. God wants us to know His word and I have always been told....the more you highlight...the more you know your bible and what God's plans are.
A well read bible is one that is highlighted to the nines, tattered and falling part, kept together with duct tape and all sorts of things.
I have a bible that is written in, with people's names beside versus and highlighted with dates to remind me of times I read the word and received an answer to my prayers.

Sorry if I stuck my nose in but like I said... I couldn't resist!!!!!!!!

Marnie Wyllie

Is Depression a Sin?

"God is in the process of helping me be a little easier on myself," says Marie, "and accepting things I once thought were negatives, like depression. It's okay to be depressed. How can you not be depressed? You sustained a major hit emotionally. Depression is not necessarily a bad thing. It's a symptom. To me it represented a signal to take an honest look at what I was going through, to feel all of the feelings, and to look at the issues."

Some people think depression is a sin.

"Depression itself is not a sin," explains Dr. Archibald Hart. "Depression is a natural response to loss. My behavior may be sinful, but the depression is never sinful."

In the Bible, the prophet Elijah felt so depressed at one point that he wanted to end his life. "[Elijah] came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. 'I have had enough, LORD,' he said. 'Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.' Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep" (1 Kings 19:4-5). But God had other plans for Elijah. God first cared for Elijah's physical needs and then directed Elijah along a new path for his life.

Jesus was the perfect man (without sin), yet Jesus, too, felt depressed at times.

"Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He told His disciples, Sit down here while I go over yonder and pray. And taking with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to show grief and distress of mind and was deeply depressed. Then He said to them, My soul is very sad and deeply grieved, so that I am almost dying of sorrow" (Matthew 26:36-38 AMP).

Spiritual Life Affected

In your depression, you may feel far from God. Although your inner spirit longs for God, your emotions can pull you in the opposite direction. Perhaps you feel it is useless to pray, that God isn't near, or that your depression indicates a lack of faith. Untrue!

"Depression does not define your state of faith," says Bonnie Keen. "My doctor had to talk to me about that quite a bit. I thought if I just had enough faith in God I wouldn't be depressed. He said that if you're in a depression and you need to get help, it does not mean that you're not a person of faith. It means for this season of time, however short or long it is, you might need help physically. You might need to get a doctor to help you get through that time. I did."

Right now your spiritual life is being affected by the divorce, and things are confusing and hard. Your relationship with God, though, is not based on feelings. It is based on truth. Cling to the truth during this season of depression, and know that God is with You and your prayers are always heard.

"If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you" (Matthew 17:20).

Headaches, Plus

The symptoms of depression overlap each other. One symptom can be the direct cause or result of another. For instance, if you do not get enough sleep or if your eating habits are erratic, you could suffer from severe headaches.

Rose Sweet says, "Your physical health is deeply affected by divorce. When you have an open wound that you haven't healed, you are constantly tired. You have headaches, backaches, depression, crying fits, weight gain, weight loss, and other physical problems that make it even worse." Fatigue, chest pain, abdominal pain, migraines, and heart palpitations are other common disturbances for people in separation or divorce.

Take a moment to think about the symptoms of depression in your life. The first step in dealing with any type of problem is to recognize what that problem is. Once you have recognized the symptoms of your depression, focus on overcoming the symptoms you have more control over; for instance, poor eating habits. Eating right will help you to sleep, which, in turn, will keep you from having headaches or stomachaches. Eliminating stressors one at a time will help control your depression.

The writer of this psalm was afflicted by multiple problems. Pray this prayer with the psalmist as he turned to God with hope:

"Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart have multiplied; free me from my anguish. . . . Guard my life and rescue me; let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you" (Psalm 25:16-17, 20-21). Amen.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Unable to Concentrate

Depression can result in an inability to concentrate or remember things.

"I couldn't concentrate," says Dave. "I'd be driving home and I'd miss my turn. All of a sudden I'd look up, and I would be four or five blocks past where I was supposed to turn."

Marie says, "I had to remind myself how to do basic things. I remember several times when I would do things like start the coffeemaker but not put the water in. I got to the point where I left a list of instructions next to the coffeemaker."

"At work," says Rob Eagar, "I was reduced to a man who mindlessly stared at the wall all day."

Marie continues, "I remember staggering out of bed and standing there in the bathroom just staring at myself for about two or three minutes and then saying, 'Okay, turn on the taps. Pick up your toothbrush.' After I would say the instruction, I would do the thing."

Follow Marie's advice and say out loud the things you need to do. It is also a good idea to get a pad of paper and start writing things down both at home and at work.

"My child, listen to me and treasure my instructions. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight and understanding" (Proverbs 2:1-3 NLT).

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Entertaining Thoughts of Suicide

Your depression may be so deep that you begin to think about suicide. Having recurrent thoughts of death is common in depression.

"That feeling is normal," says Dr. Archibald Hart. "To feel that is not a problem. To take it further than that feeling is a problem. Put those thoughts out of your mind. If you are afraid that you might do something serious, find a friend, find someone, go to your church leader, go to counseling—talk to somebody about your feelings because you need to set up some accountability for that."

If your depression is deep or it is prolonged, we encourage you to get help. If you are considering suicide at this very moment, then call 911 or call someone who will come get you or stay with you until you can find professional help.

Do not feel ashamed about your feelings of suicide. Separation and divorce are serious crises, and sometimes you will need to see a doctor for help.

"We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God. . . . He will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us" (2 Corinthians 1:8-10).

Monday, December 21, 2009

Substantial Loss of Energy

A substantial loss of energy is sign of depression that often accompanies divorce.

"You have no energy. You can't lift anything. You feel like you're lazy. Even if the house caught on fire, you don't think you could get up and leave," says Dr. Archibald Hart.

Bonnie Keen shares, "For me, to get up, get out of bed, and get the kids ready for school was like climbing a mountain. Depression can make you feel like you can't do anything. Go to the grocery store? I can't possibly do that."

Bonnie discovered that when she did get up and perform a simple task or get out of the house for a while, it really helped. Every small step you take will help on your road to recovery.

Getting out into the sunshine is one practical step that will help increase your energy level. Talk to your doctor or a nutritionist about which foods and vitamins your body needs more of at this time; a simple change in diet can do wonders for your energy level. Exercise, even ten minutes per day, will increase your energy. Make a point to talk with someone about your physical struggles as well as your emotional and spiritual struggles. Stay in constant communication with God. Post Bible verses throughout your house and car to keep yourself energized spiritually.

"My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word" (Psalm 119:28).

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Change in Eating Habits

Your depression can show itself through a change in your eating habits. Many people in divorce either experience an extreme lack of appetite or the desire to binge. Both habits are unhealthy.

"Realizing that my marriage had fallen apart, the first way it manifested itself was I lost the will to eat. In fact, I lost eighteen pounds in two and a half weeks," says Rob Eagar.

Dave says, "I was nauseous and had diarrhea and couldn't keep anything down. Nothing tasted good. I was forcing myself to eat and drink."

"Nine months ago," says Odie, "I was eighty pounds heavier, due to the stress of my divorce. I woke up one day, and I said, 'This is God's temple. I'm destroying it.'"

When you eat, choose to eat healthy. A poor diet affects a person emotionally as well as physically. Now is a good time to choose to put whole grains, water, proteins, and vitamin-rich vegetables in your body and start new, wise habits.

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sleep Patterns Disturbed

A change or disturbance in your sleep patterns is another sign of depression. Some people cannot sleep at all, and some people sleep almost all the time.

"I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep. I was just a basket case," says Cheryl.
Bonnie Keen says, "I was up for almost two solid weeks without sleeping. I remember I could sleep two hours at a time and then I would just be awake."

Laura Petherbridge shares: "I literally slept all the time. I was absolutely exhausted." If you are a person who is reacting to your situation by sleeping a great deal, be aware that sleep can become an addictive behavior, which is unhealthy. Force yourself to exercise, to get out, and to be with other people. Get on a schedule that incorporates a healthy amount of sleep, and pray for the energy to stay awake when you should be awake!

The Bible offers several promises that have to do with sleep. Choose one of these promises to claim today. God loves you, and He wants Your sleep to be peaceful and refreshing.

"He gives His beloved sleep" (Psalm 127:2 NKJV).

"I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety" (Psalm 4:8).

"When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet" (Proverbs 3:24).

Friday, December 18, 2009

No Longer Enjoy Favorite Activities

Bonnie Keen is an accomplished recording artist, songwriter, speaker, and author. Her desire is to bring God's message of love to people everywhere. Despite her God-given love of music, there was a time in
Bonnie's life when she struggled to make it through a concert due to the depression she was feeling from her divorce.

She says, "I was a total wreck. I cried and cried. I would cry until it was time to go on stage and sing. I would sing, and then I'd sit down and cry again. I could not figure out what was happening to me. There was no joy in what I usually loved doing."

If you no longer enjoy the things you used to enjoy, it's another sign that you are experiencing depression. Bonnie experienced some dark times, just as you are, but she kept her eyes on Jesus Christ and placed her faith in Him. God saw her through, and today she ministers to those who are hurting, who don't feel God's love, and who desperately need His comfort.

"My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music" (Psalm 57:7).

"Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand" (Isaiah 41:10 NLT).

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thousands gather to protest global Warming!!!

Is the recession over?

a guest post from Garry Mullen

If a liar and deceiver comes and says, ‘I will prophesy for you plenty of wine and beer,’ he would be just the prophet for this people! – Micah 2:11

Is the recession over? That seems to be the question that is being asked this Christmas. Maybe we feel we need to know so that we can know how much we should be spending on Christmas presents. So the argument is on. Some believe the recession is over – some argue that we are in the midst of the recession until we see some real job growth in North America. But whatever our belief might be about the recession, we seem to be more pessimistic about the economic future of our kids than our parents were.

As unpopular as this might be to say, whether the recession is over or not, the secret to our financial future is learning to live within our own means – not living a life that we might wish we had. In fact, living outside of our means is what has got us into this position in the first place.

We want to hear the prophet that says that the recession is over. We want to go back to the way we used to live. We want to live beyond what we have. We want to hear the words of the prophet say that there will be plenty of wine and beer – plenty of what we want to have. But the only way that will ever be true is if learn to live the way we are meant to live – the way God designed us to live.

Is the recession over? I think we still have some bumps in the road in front of us – but even if it is we need to learn financial responsibility. And Christmas really isn’t about the presents. It is about each other. Don’t listen to the prophets who prophecy in hope that they will be able to get you to give them your money. Just follow a simple plan of spending less than you make.

Guilt, Worthlessness, and Helplessness

"Guilt is a common sign of depression. You blame yourself for what has happened," says Dr. Archibald Hart.

"Divorce," says Bonnie Keen, "is a hammer blow to your self-esteem."

Ron shares, "I was just helpless."

Guilt, worthlessness, and helplessness may be an integral part of your daily life now. The emotions themselves are not wrong, but the questions you need to ask yourself are Where will I let these emotions lead me? Will I let these feelings bring me down, or will I choose to keep my eyes on Jesus no matter what? Jesus loves you regardless of what you have done, what you look like on the outside, or what you look like on the inside. You can never do anything that will cause Him to love you less. That is amazing. That is God.

Jan Northington explains, "Pain can drive you to a sense of hopelessness and despair or it can drive you to God. It's your choice. You may think there are few choices available to you, but in reality there are a million choices available."

Selma shares, "As long as I could keep my eyes on Jesus, I was fine. He loves me regardless of what has happened in the past and regardless of what I've done. Knowing that just gave me the strength to go on." Never forget how much Jesus loves you.

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2).

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Imitate Me!

a guest post from Jim Wolstenholm

“Therefore, I urge you to imitate me.” 1 Corinthians 4:16

Paul was not being boastful or arrogant when he made this statement. He was laying down a basic principle of discipleship. He was holding out his life in Christ as an example.

In this spirit, I urge you to consider the ways that God has worked in my life, knowing that he can work in your life in the same ways. Let me share some specific things that I have found essential to my spiritual health.

Looking at the heart – The Bible tells us that man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart. This is a truth that cuts both ways. Too many times, we hide who we are behind our outward appearance and too many times we judge people by what we see and not who they are! I have been guilty of doing both in my life. I’m sure that you have too!!

How do we change? It starts with a commitment. I want to see people through the eyes of God. To do this, it helps me to understand myself. I know that I desperately need God to make it through each day. When I surrender to my own will, I generally make a mess of things.

I know that people need God! I know that we all are desperate for something better! No matter what someone looks like, no matter how they act, no matter what they say, I am committed to see them as God does. That commitment is completed as God’s power works in my life to change my perspective. My commitment with his power makes this transformation possible.

Many people experience great difficulties in life. They make bad choices and become trapped in nearly hopeless situations. It would be easy to write them off, to avoid them and, instead, turn our attention to someone less needy. We must recognize that Jesus died even for those who seem hopeless. He loves them – we must love them, too!

I see Jesus as the answer for every one of life’s problems. God’s word provides the answers we need. Jesus brought us the life giving good news we need. When we listen to him and when we follow him, everything becomes possible.

Believe that there is hope for everyone, see everyone through the eyes of God and begin to look at the heart instead of the outward appearance. It will help transform you into the likeness of Jesus!

Hopelessness and Pessimism

"Why did I ever come out of the womb to see trouble and sorrow and to end my days in shame?" (Jeremiah 20:18).

Good question. Maybe you have asked God a similar question.

There are times when hopelessness and pessimism may overwhelm you.

"You have a negative view of the past, of the present, and of the future. You feel that nothing is going to get better—that it's terrible now and it's going to stay this way the rest of your life," says Dr. Archibald Hart.

Hopelessness and pessimism are symptoms of depression, but depression will not last forever, even though it may sometimes feel like it. If you feel that you have no hope and if your words and thoughts are marked by negativity, tell God. Ask hard questions like Jeremiah did. State specifically why you feel hopeless and why you feel pessimistic. God answered Jeremiah's question with words of hope and promises of joy. Be honest with God and watch what He can do.

"They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion," declares the LORD. "They will rejoice in the bounty of the LORD—the grain, the new wine and the oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more. Then maidens will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow" (Jeremiah 31:12-13).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

No Time Left for What?

a guest post from Christopher Hall

My brother in Christ and Circuit neighbor Pr. Brown writes about the need for devotion and meditation during busy seasons. "At the seminary I heard an anecdote about Luther–the busier he was, the more he prayed and read Scripture". And the trick Satan plays is to make us believe we have little–no–time for God’s Word.

Profound Sense of Sadness

"I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart" (Romans 9:2).

Another symptom of depression is a profound sense of sadness in your life.

"There's an emptiness in you. You feel like a big hole has suddenly developed in the center of your being. Persistent sadness is there all the time," says Dr. Archibald Hart.

Cindy says, "If I opened my mouth, I would start sobbing because I was so sad. I had lost a tremendous amount of weight. My hair fell out by the handfuls. Sadness had taken over my whole being."

Jesus was called a "man of sorrows." It may seem impossible that Jesus could know how you feel, but He does. He, too, was "despised and rejected" by people, and He was "familiar with suffering." Call on God in your sadness as One who knows every fear, hurt, pain, and disappointment hidden in your heart. Jesus can be the light in your darkness.

"He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted" (Isaiah 53:2-4).

Monday, December 14, 2009


One sign of depression is a feeling of disconnectedness. You no longer feel that you are connected to other people. You aren't sure if you know how to connect with people anymore.

Not being able to relate to others is a serious loss, but it is a loss you can grieve and then remedy. Express your feelings of disconnectedness to God and then to another person: "I feel alone. No one understands me. I feel uncomfortable around people. Other people feel uncomfortable around me. I'm just bringing everyone down."

After you have acknowledged, expressed, and grieved your emotions, you must take steps to build friendships again. You need your family and friends to make it through this tough time.

James shares his experience: "I was driving home one day, and I told God that I wouldn't mind spending time with friends—maybe see a movie, watch a video, or get a pizza. That was my prayer.

"I went home, and soon after there was a knock on my door. The two friends at my doorstep, who had been to my house only twice in about six months, said, 'James, we're going to pick up videos and get a pizza.' So here it was, not fifteen minutes later, and I received answers to all three prayers. That is not a coincidence. God was visible. He said, 'James, I am always here. You just gotta see Me.'"

Remember, at this stage in your healing, it is important to focus on friendships with people of the same sex. You need more time to heal before you become romantically involved.

"By yourself you're unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst" (Ecclesiastes 4:12 Msg).

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Symptoms of Depression

It is possible to be depressed and not know it.

"Many people are depressed and don't know it," says Dr. Archibald Hart, "because they think that when people are depressed, they are crying all the time and wallowing in self-pity. Perhaps what you are feeling is a profound state of lethargy, no energy and no interest."

The symptoms of depression vary from person to person. In the next few days we will be discussing several different signs of depression. These symptoms include feelings of disconnectedness, sadness, hopelessness, guilt, indifference, and worthlessness. Other symptoms are headaches, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, and low energy. You may also be entertaining thoughts of suicide or have noticed an impact on your spiritual life.

You have ample reason to be depressed as you move through the divorce process. Remember that your depression is not only necessary, but it can be productive in your forward movement toward healing. Dr. Hart says, "Depression is a unique state of the body and mind in which you experience sadness and low energy as a way of preparing the body to do something significant."

"So the king asked me, 'Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart'" (Nehemiah 2:2).

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Concrete and Abstract Losses

Your depression is directly related to the losses you have experienced as a result of your divorce. There are two main types of losses: concrete and abstract. Concrete losses are measurable, such as the loss of income, a spouse, or your car. Abstract losses cannot be measured. These losses include the loss of self-esteem, dreams, or affection. Both types of losses are important and need to be grieved.

The greater your losses, the greater the depression.

"You will only grieve something that means something to you," says Bonnie Keen. "Grief is actually a way of honoring what your marriage meant. I did believe in my marriage. I did believe that I would stay married forever, and this is now a death. This is a grieving time."

Rose Sweet encourages you to express your grief: "You have to mourn all of your losses. Mourning is such an important part of the cleansing process. In the Bible, people would go out and mourn and wail and weep. We don't do that anymore. We stuff everything, and we try to smile for the camera. We forget that mourning is part of God's design for us to get all those negative feelings and energies out so that we can heal completely."

Allow yourself to grieve and to be depressed. You have sustained a major loss. Let your body do what it was designed to do.

"God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted" (Matthew 5:4 NLT).

Friday, December 11, 2009

Depression Is a Healing Emotion

Most people would not consider depression a healing emotion. Dr. Archibald Hart explains how this can be true:

"Every depression will pass. If you do the right things, you can shorten it; you can bring healing; and you can grow. If you do the right things, this could be one of the most wonderful things that has ever happened to you. I work with a lot of depressed people. When they are over it, they all say to me, 'I'm a better person because of it. Somehow through this pain, I have found a new me, and God has become more precious than ever before.'"

Ginny shares, "The most important things I've learned are (1) God never leaves us, (2) we are all sinners, and (3) God wants to be there; we just have to ask Him.

"When you go through hard times, God isn't testing you to be faithful to Him; He's proving His faithfulness to you. I wouldn't trade what I've been through for anything. As much as I've hated going through it, it has given me the relationship with God that I didn't have before. There's such peace in that."

As you go through each day, look to the future expectantly to see how God will use the depression in your life.

"Thanksgivings will pour out of the windows; laughter will spill through the doors. Things will get better and better. Depression days are over. They'll thrive, they'll flourish. The days of contempt will be over" (Jeremiah 30:19 Msg).

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Depression: What Does It Look Like?

Jim shares, "I turned everything inward and became very quiet. I wouldn't call the church; I never asked for help. I stayed home a lot and kept the house dark."

Joanne says, "The first two months I couldn't breathe. I cried when I got up in the morning; I cried all day; I cried when I went to bed at night. I didn't care how I looked or what I said."

"I didn't want to think I was depressed because to me that's a sign of weakness," says Marie. "I really thought I was coping well. I didn't allow myself to feel anything. I would push myself at work, working late night after night. I wasn't dealing with the reality that I was depressed."

In the Bible, David felt emotionally as if he were in a "slimy pit" full of "mud and mire." While in this emotional state, David "waited patiently for the Lord." Not only was he patient in his depression, but he was also vocal in it. He cried out to the Lord. As a result, God lifted him up and put his feet on solid ground. God put a new song in David's mouth. God will do the same for you if you trust in Him.

"I waited patiently for the LORD; 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 mouth, a hymn of praise to our God" (Psalm 40:1-3).

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Understanding Your Depression

Depression is a natural reaction to profound loss. A person going through a divorce will likely experience some form of depression. Although depression is often associated with feelings of deep sadness, depression can take other forms as well.

Joyce shares, "I would go to work every day and put on a happy, smiling face, but as soon as I put the key in the door to my apartment, I would literally slide down the wall and cry.

"Then, I would crawl as a child to the bedroom and leave things as they were until the next morning—not wanting to eat, not wanting to be bothered. Family and friends would call me to make sure I was okay, and I would lie there listening to their calls. I didn't want to talk to anyone. I wanted to be alone.

"The depression began to show on the outside. People would ask me, 'Why are you losing so much weight? You don't seem to care about yourself as you used to.' I didn't want to do any activities, things that at one point I liked to do. I wanted to come home and sleep."

Depression is a normal and even necessary reaction to your loss. You are not alone in these behaviors and actions. You will learn in the next few weeks different signs of depression, how to deal with it, how to learn from it, and how to overcome it.

"Come quickly, LORD, and answer me, for my depression deepens. Don't turn away from me, or I will die" (Psalm 143:7 NLT).

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Rationalizing Anger

You can prolong your anger by rationalizing it or blaming others for it rather than accepting full responsibility for your part. To rationalize something means "to cause it to seem reasonable," when it may not be reasonable at all.

Listen to some rationalizations:

* It's not my fault I am angry.

* My former spouse does not deserve to be forgiven. I'm not going to let him or her off the hook that easy.

* Why should I bother when my former spouse isn't even trying?

* I have had such a hard life.

* Anger is a habit of mine. I wouldn't know how else to respond.

When you rationalize your anger, you are telling yourself that you have the right to be angry. Focusing on "my rights" results in self-centered thinking and not God-centered thinking. Choose to act in wisdom, not based on how your anger makes you feel (i.e., gives you self-righteous satisfaction).

The book of Proverbs contains instructions on how to think and act wisely. A good suggestion is to read one chapter of Proverbs each day.

"The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young-let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance. . . . The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline" (Proverbs 1:1-5, 7).

When Your Anger Hurts Others

Proverbs 18:21 says, "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit."

"Words hurt," says Dr. Linda Mintle, "and they hurt deeply. Proverbs 18:21 tells us that the power of life and death is in the tongue. You can devastate people by your words." You must take responsibility for your words and understand the deep and lasting harm that can occur when you speak without thinking.

Are you sometimes shocked and disappointed by the angry words that pop out of your mouth? Perhaps you cringe as you think of a particular moment when you were raging uncontrollably. By now you are probably aware of the damage your anger has inflicted on yourself and on those around you.

"Confession, repentance, and forgiveness are the only ways to deal with anger. You have to confess and repent of sins you have committed as a result of your anger. You have to move back toward God and seek forgiveness from God, yourself, and the other person," says Dr. Robert Abarno.

God will forgive you—just ask in Jesus' name.

"Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the LORD'—and you forgave the guilt of my sin" (Psalm 32:5).

"I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin" (Psalm 38:18).

Monday, December 7, 2009

Forgiveness and Anger

Forgiveness is a sign of true healing, and it is one of the most difficult things to do in a divorce situation. Forgiveness also takes time.

Forgiveness might be easier if you approach it in steps. The first step could be to seek forgiveness for hurtful things you have said or done in anger—start by going to your former spouse and asking forgiveness for specific words or incidents. Then, forgive yourself for those specific things.

"I truly worked on trying to forgive myself," says Susan, "but I think I tried too fast to cover up the anger that I felt. It was a very, very deep cut. What ended up happening is that each little brush that I would have with my ex regarding finances, or any little hurt that would happen to my children or to me, he would scrape that surface off again, and I hadn't really cleaned the wound out yet. I never really truly let all the anger and the frustration come out."

If you are struggling to repent of your hurtful words and spiteful actions, perhaps you, too, still have anger that needs to be released and not harbored. Continue to find ways to express your anger in a productive, healthy way. Then, confess any out-of-control anger to God, to the person it was directed against, and to yourself.

"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed" (James 5:16).

"Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered" (Psalm 32:1).

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Making Amends

"Fools mock at making amends for sin, but goodwill is found among the upright" (Proverbs 14:9).

You should seek to put things right with the person who has made you angry.

"Not because it's fair, not because you're hoping the other person is going to reciprocate, but you want to make amends simply for the fact that you know it's healthy for you," says Dr. Les Carter.

In any conflict, one person is not 100 percent at fault, so even if you feel your former spouse is always the one who starts the arguments or causes the problems, think about times when your reaction did not help the situation.

Whatever has been negative in your words, attitudes, and responses, make the sincere attempt to change your ways and amend the wrongness. Approach your former spouse with the willingness to be appropriate from now on and not hold grudges or be hurtful or speak angry words. Be sure that you are being respectful and keeping your focus on God when you do this.

Your former spouse might not believe you or might not be interested in making amends. If this happens, do not become frustrated; just tell your former spouse you are sorry he or she feels that way. Choose to move forward in healing regardless of what the other person does or says.

"Reject the wrong and choose the right" (Isaiah 7:15).

Reducing Anger

Reducing your anger is not an easy process. Here are some practical ideas of ways to deal with your anger.

* Call a friend or write in a journal. Cindy says, "I've got a whole journal of awful things I have felt and thought. That helped."

* Monitor your negative words and attitudes. "I had one person who called his ex-spouse the dictator," says Dr. Les Carter, "and I said, 'Every time you refer to her in that negative way, it just keeps the anger alive a little bit more.' You need to let go of little things like that."

* Read the Bible. "Every minute I could I was reading the Bible, and there was a peace that started coming about," says Sherry.

* Be thankful for what is good in your life. "I knew that God was saying, 'You can be angry at what happened, but the rest of your life is pretty good. You've got a lot to be thankful for,'" says Cindy.

* Have an accountability partner. Dr. Les Carter says, "Share what you're feeling so you can learn to get beyond it. Express the areas you need to forgive. Share the things you need to accept that aren't going to change. As you talk openly, you tend to take ownership of the solutions you're discussing."

"I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing" (1 Timothy 2:8).

Thursday, December 3, 2009

What do you do to show your kids love without spending exorbitant amounts of money?

- a guest post from Craig Ford a missionary in Papua New Guinea

Does Not
Equal Love

First, a rant. I have never bought into the thinking that love and money are automatically connected. This, however, is a common lie we have been told to believe. If you love your children, so we are told, you will buy expensive and extravagant gifts for them – even if you cannot afford it. This is rarely any more evident than the parent child relationship.

There is an assumption that if you love your child then you need to buy the “best” for them. If you don’t, you are selfish or a derelict parent.
You can love your children and raise well balanced kids without spending excessive amounts on them. On the other hand, if you can afford to (and choose to because you think it is wise) to buy lots of things for your kids – good for you. Please do not put your family’s financial future in jeopardy because you “want the best for their kids” (interpretation: you want to buy whatever their son or daughter wants!). It is not a blessing to you and it is not a blessing to them. This mindset leads to entitlement thinking in children.
5 Ways to Show Love to Your Kids Without Spending a Single Dollar

1. Be Together as a Family
I think the pressure to lavish our kids (depending on their age) comes from within, not necessarily from the kids themselves. April 2009, Our family spent a week just south of Mont Tremblant in Quebec, Canada. We saw some amazing sites and did some cool stuff. October 2009 my four year old daughter looks at all the pictures and doesn’t remember anything – except … getting to sleep on the floor with her brother. Kids will take boring and mundane family activities and turn them into their favorite memories.
2. Be Creative
Sometimes people spend just because they are too lazy to think of a better idea. Things like going out to eat or going to the movies are just default decisions. You can save money by avoiding the restaurant, but if you do go, at least go to restaurants where kids eat free. As an example, a few weeks ago my wife made binoculars from used toilet paper rolls. Just put those empty rolls together and put a piece of tape around the contraption and you have hours of fun for young kids. We have also used old rolls for bowling. Get yourself out of automatic and think about a new creative activity.
3. Have a Family Night
Our family night is Friday. We make homemade pizza, watch a movie, and drink Coke. Alright, this might not be the healthiest family tradition, but it sure is cheap – and we love it. The pizza and family night tradition started even before we had kids. For almost 10 years now the tradition has been going strong and it only seems to become more special. Your family tradition might be something different, but just pick something you love that doesn’t cost a lot of money and see where it leads you. Intentional and consistent family traditions get better over time, not worse.
4. Challenge Yourself
If you find the ‘be creative’ suggestion above hard to implement, then challenging yourself should help. Restrict yourself by your budget. Alright, we have $10 for tonight. What is the coolest thing we can do for $10? I bet your kids will enjoy that more than going to another movie. Put on your thinking cap – what can you do with a limited budget?
5. Focus on Essentials by Setting Goals
The goal of parenting is to love your kids and raise good, decent people. The goal is not to spend money unchecked on your kids. Write down your goals for your children and see how many of those require money. Chances are some will require money, but most will actually require time. Unfortunately, too many folks are out getting so much money to give to their kids that they don’t have any time left over.

Decide what you want your kids to be like and adjust your life to provide the time necessary to mentor them.

Drop It

"There are times when you may have legitimate desires to be assertive," says Dr. Les Carter, "but the person on the receiving end is just not going to hear it. That happens many, many times in divorce cases. Rather than going to the suppression of anger, there needs to be a willingness at those times to say, 'Let's leave the anger alone. I'm finished with it. It's in God's hands.'"

Lisa says, "The sooner you're able to let go of that anger and let God clean out the inside of you, the sooner you will be free of it and it won't hold you back like a ball and chain. When you're able to let go of that through God's help, then you'll be able to move forward with your life."
Dropping anger does not mean suppressing it. It is an acknowledgement that anger, at this point, is no longer useful. It is a willingness to forgive and be forgiven.

"Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay,' says the Lord" (Romans 12:17-19 NASB).

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

“And the name of the city from that time on will be: The LORD is There .” – Ezekiel 48:35

- guest post by Garry Mullen

There is an expectation on the Christian Church. We are the dwelling place of God. i am not sure that the description really fits us. I mean it should – but does it really. Does the world recognize God in us?

Ezekiel’s vision comes to a conclusion with a discussion of the division of the new Territory and a new city. The name of the city is “The Lord is There.” It was a comforting thought to a people that felt that felt that God had left them and they had no place to belong. In the future there would a place where God could be found.

At the rate that our society is changing, it is a question that people are asking. Is there a place where I can find God? And there is. He resides in his people. We are the city. The Lord is There. And the world is in desperate need of us. Do you recognize him?

Give Anger a Voice

One healthy way to deal with anger is the assertive approach. An assertion is a positive and often forceful declaration. This is different from aggression.

Dr. Les Carter says, "There are times when somebody has violated your worth or your convictions, and you need to stand up for it. Not in a selfish way, but in a responsible way. Sometimes people ask me, 'Do I have a right to be angry?' I'll say, 'Let's take the word right and throw it away. That implies what's best for me and me alone. It can be a selfish word. Let's put the word responsibility in its place and ask it again: 'Do I have a responsibility to be angry?' Now, many times, the answer is, no, not really. Other times the answer is, yes, it would be an act of responsibility.

"Sometimes you do need to stand up for what's right and let someone know he or she violated your convictions. Sometimes you need to communicate in firm, unbending ways as to how you want to be respected. This can be done while also showing respect to the other person. It's a form of anger where you're seeking to solve problems and to preserve what's right, and you're trying to do so in a way that's going to be beneficial to all."

In the Bible, Paul was a man who spoke assertively. He encouraged the believers to speak out for what they believed and not let others trample on their words, hearts, and convictions. When your anger is justified, speak with the authority of the Lord.

"Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you" (Titus 2:15).

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Silent Anger

Some people have a passive-aggressive approach to anger. They act out their anger through practices such as silence, stubbornness, or procrastination. This is not a healthy release of anger.

Dr. Les Carter explains, "You may do many evasive things to create irritability in that other person. How many of you have been frustrated in an interaction, and you may be prone to giving the silent treatment or going into another room and saying nothing? Or I wonder how many times you may know someone wants you to do something and you procrastinate; you put things off, and you refuse to be cooperative. It's a form of expressing anger. You're trying to take care of yourself, of your turf so to speak, but you're doing it at the expense of someone else."

Any time that you express anger in a way that is unhealthy, you are not resolving your anger, and you are ultimately hurting only yourself.

Dr. Carter continues, "I've seen many individuals who have gone through the difficulties of divorce, who really don't work through it mainly because they continue to cling to unhealthy forms of anger."

People who have a passive-aggressive approach to anger may not realize they are angry or they may feel they are handling their anger well. After reading the descriptions above, consider if this is a response you have had; it is important in the divorce process to find one area at a time where problems can be addressed and healing can take place.

"But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward" (Jeremiah 7:24).