Two Daily Appointments

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Many of you know that I struggle with anxiety and depression. I am so thankful to have seen great victories in this over the last year. I can only attribute it to the Lord. I am learning to lean on Him through prayer when anxiety rears its head.

One thing that has helped me is keeping two daily appointments with myself. The first one is my quiet time with the Lord. This would be time to read, study or memorize some scripture and to pray. This is the most important part of any Christian’s day! I don’t mean that you just read a verse online or a snippet from a devotional book, but that you pick up the Bible and read from it. It helps to follow a system of some kind, but even if you just start in the middle, it’s all good! Devotionals are good, too, but not as your only source of Bible-food. Of course, prayer is something that I’ve shared that I have neglected too often over the years, and suffered for it. Our ladies choir just sang “Sweet Hour of Prayer” this past Sunday and I was encouraged all over again to keep my prayer appointment.

This little booklet is a great resource for your Bible study. But yours won't be custom-colored on the front! ;)

This little booklet is a great resource for your Bible study. But yours won’t be custom-colored on the front! ūüėČ

The second appointment is with my gym. I try to make this everyday, but there are a few days I have to miss because I’m out of town or something has come up. Of the two appointments, this one is more flexible. I do try to think of it as a definite meeting though because I do not want to slack off. I injured my ankle last May which made running and even walking long distances impossible. However, I am able to use the elliptical machine with no pain whatsoever. Other great benefits of the gym include air conditioning (a huge blessing in Oklahoma in August!), a roof during inclement weather, a machine that monitors my heart rate, and a TV! (I enjoy watching ESPN and Fox News.) Even though I do prefer outdoor exercise, this is better than remaining sedentary. I’m very grateful for a way to keep active despite injury.

If you struggle with anxiety or depression, perhaps keeping these two daily appointments will help you, too!

With love,

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Overcoming Depression Day by Day

Overcoming

I have battled depression for many years. I had my first foray into the crazy world of mixed-up emotions when my oldest child was a newborn. She will be sixteen in a few months, and in that time, depression has been just outside my door. And sometimes right inside the living room. Every day, I seek to overcome my anxiety without medication. I am not opposed to medication. I was on Zoloft for nine months following the birth of my fifth child in 2010 and it was just what I needed at the time. But like most people, I try to avoid medication of any kind unless absolutely necessary. I wanted to share some things that are helping me overcome depression, one day at a time.

1. Daily Bible reading. I formed this habit as a teenager, but I admit that I have missed some days here and there. I have now determined not to miss it (unless I am sick with a fever or something terrible), even if I must read it at 11 o’clock at night. Many days – more than I can count, really – I receive just what I need to get through a particular valley. Recently, I was thinking about my emotional struggles, and the Lord gave me Psalm 55 in my daily reading. What a blessing that chapter was to my heart!

2. Daily prayer time. This area is one in which I have not been faithful since my teenage days! Prayer is work. It takes discipline to clear your schedule and have quiet, uninterrupted time to talk to the Lord. I shared last September how my prayer life had suffered. I have since seen my prayer life bear fruit in personal ways. Not only have I worked to set aside a daily prayer time, but also to pray throughout the day. One of the verses that blessed me from Psalm 55 was verse 17:  Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.

3. Regular church attendance. My flesh rises up and dislikes church sometimes. That is when I have to do the hard thing, and go against my carnal desires. I have never regretted going to God’s house! I am especially thankful for the loving church family I have. They pray for me, and even though I’m “the pastor’s wife”, they don’t hold me to a super-human standard. They let me be me: fallible, talkative, crazy, Valerie.

4. Regular exercise, preferably outdoors. For years I have done aerobic DVDs and indoor walking DVDs. They are okay for rainy or cold days, but being outside in the sunshine and fresh air in God’s creation just can’t be topped! Nothing is as invigorating as the great outdoors.

5. Keeping my thoughts on the truth as Philippians 4:8 says. I’ve written about this before, and it is still the case today. Reminding myself of what is true, or real, has helped me keep my mind on the right things. To do this, I try to have the following always close at hand:

  • Good books. I have a list posted on Goodreads of books I want to read. I am constantly keeping my eyes and ears open for recommendations.
  • Good music. The advent of the iPod, iPhone and all things “i” has made listening to music easier than ever before. I love having my playlists handy and my ear buds with me. For my birthday, my husband bought me a bluetooth wireless speaker that pairs with my iPhone. This has been a great way to listen to music while I do chores or get ready for the day. I have also paired my phone with my van, so I can drive and listen!
  • Good sermons. Now that I have the aforementioned wireless speaker, I am able to listen to sermons from sermonaudio.com! I listen to my husband’s sermons there, or any preacher he recommends to me. One preacher who has blessed me is Bro. Don Fortner. But there are hundreds – probably thousands – to choose from.

Even when I’m doing all of the above, panic can strike at any time. If it does, I find a quiet place and offer a meager prayer or even a frightened cry to the Lord. ¬†Psalm 55:22 says,¬†Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.¬†I plead for His help, and He has not failed me.

Someday, I’ll be Home and free from depression forever. Until then, I will rejoice that in my weakness, HE is strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

From my heart,

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Verses I Love: Philippians 4:8

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Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. ~ Philippians 4:8

Well, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day! There are so many people in my life who I love with all my heart. I hope and pray, however, that the Lord has the first place in my life. Today’s verse has a special meaning that I share in more detail HERE.

God used this verse to bring me out of a difficult period of fear, worry and anxiety. Words cannot express my joy and gratitude for that! I once read this quote by Barbara Sher: “Imaginary obstacles are insurmountable. Real ones aren’t.” I agree! If we are defeated in our minds, then we have already lost the battle. I pray that I can continue to keep my mind on the true things – the things written in God’s Word – and trust Him moment by moment.

With love,

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Don’t Get Panicky, Ethel

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“Now, don’t get panicky, Ethel!” exclaimed a very panicky Lucy Ricardo to a calm, composed Ethel when she comes into Lucy’s cluttered apartment in a classic episode of I Love Lucy.¬†In “Off to Florida”, Lucy and Ethel are supposed to join Ricky and Fred in the sunshine state, but Lucy loses the train tickets the day of their departure! Lucy’s been frantically searching every nook and cranny of her home in search of those tickets. Her wide eyes, short breaths and frenzied behavior are classic symptoms of panic. And, while Lucy’s symptoms are hilarious to watch, I know from experience that in real life, it’s not so funny.

A year ago, I was scheduled to go to Chicago to speak at a ladies conference. My topic was “peace”. My problem was that I didn’t have much of it. At the last minute, I got scared of flying. I began to imagine ¬†every possible scenario where “death” was the final result. I was traveling alone, so I could give my imagination my full attention. I wasn’t used to that. I am used to being around five kids all day, being questioned non-stop, and doing 5,741 chores a day. Being alone with no questions or chores was new. Needless to say, I allowed my imagination to carry me off into the sunset. I spent two very sleepless nights, and barely got home in one piece. The worst part, even now, is knowing that I was absolutely no help to those sweet ladies in Chicago. In fact, I’m afraid that my anxiety was a distraction.

Fast forward to this year ¬†– nearly the same thing happened again, only this time, it wasn’t about flying, it was about my health. In the night, when my thoughts and I were alone, I turned minor health issues into terminal illness. In each situation, my breathing came in short, shallow puffs, my heart pounded as though I were running a race and I just knew that death was near. The interesting part about both times was that I wasn’t frightened about where I’d go when I’d die. I knew I’d be with the Lord. I was panicky for my family. Thoughts like, “What will they do?”¬†or¬†“Will they forget me?” or “Will someone else raise them?”” filled my brain. These thoughts just compounded my problem.

I’m a little nervous about even sharing my story , because any rebuke or Phariseeical remarks will hurt deeply. But, maybe God can use my distress to help others. Since last September, I’ve read several books by Christians on anxiety, worry and depression, so I know I’m not the only ¬†Christian lady to walk this path. Perhaps this post can help that lady who suffers in silence, the one who cries alone in her bathroom, who begs God for relief, only to get no immediate answer. I want to say that there is hope.

First of all, I have not arrived at a permanent solution. In fact, that was my first mistake – I expected complete ¬†healing. I would have a few good days, thinking the anxiety was in my past for good! Then, I’d take a nosedive. When that happened, I would give up hope, allowing the anxiety to return with greater efficacy. I’m kind of a “all or nothing” kind of gal. The Lord is teaching me to be a “one minute, one hour, one day at a time” kind of gal.

Here are the steps to peace that God has given me in the last year.

The first step was realizing I had backslidden in my prayer life. In fact, I was hardly praying at all. I had convinced myself that God knows everything and He knows what’s best, so why pray? ¬†He’ll take care of things. The issue was that my attitude, while recognizing God’s sovereignty and wisdom, was an attitude of disobedience! He tells me to pray (Matt. 26:41; Luke 11:1-3; Luke 18:1; 1 Thess. 5:17 and many more), so I should pray. The Lord so gently and lovingly guided me – because I was crying out to Him about my anxiety. Most of my ¬†prayers ¬†were, “Help me, Lord! What’s wrong with me?” I’m here to say that He answers the prayer of the panicky.

His answer came this way: My husband had renewed his subscription to Tabletalk magazine. With that renewal came a free gift, a copy of “Does Prayer Change Things?” by R.C. Sproul. I held the book in my hands, already having felt pricked by the Holy Spirit for my indifferent attitude about prayer. As soon as I saw it, I knew I should read that little book. Through various statements and scriptures, I fell under conviction about my lazy prayer life. I asked God to forgive me, and to help me pray. I even wrote a blog post about it, and gave away a copy of that book to a dear reader. Then, just four days after I wrote that blog post, a wonderful pastor and friend of our family came to preach at our church. His sermon that Sunday morning? That’s right, it was on prayer! I wept and rejoiced at how God was answering the cry of my heart. It was like He had come to sit beside me at church that morning and personally answer my questions and guide me. Just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes! I began implementing a more systematic prayer schedule each morning, even if it meant getting up a little earlier. I already read my Bible every day, but my prayer time was easy to push aside. Talking to God faithfully each morning¬†has helped me more than words can say! I have seen answers to prayer almost daily, but most of all, I’m keeping my sins confessed. (It’s amazing how quickly I can covet something in my mind or think a hateful thought about someone!) I have finally found the peace that I was missing in Chicago.

The second step was exercising outdoors. I’ve always exercised regularly by doing indoor aerobics. When I had little children and Terry was at work, I couldn’t leave them to go for a walk. There were too many of them to take with me if I wanted to go fast, so I did DVDs in my bedroom. Last June, Terry and I started doing the couch-to-5K app. The sunshine and fresh air gets my day started off right. An added bonus is getting to see God’s creation wake up each morning. It reminds me of how tiny I am compared to Him, and yet He loves me – yes, even when I panic.

The third step was reading a book. Several weeks ago, my sister recommended to me the book¬†Loving God with All Your Mind, by Elizabeth George.¬†It was as though God put that book in my lap to answer the remaining questions I had. I had been praying, “Lord, show me what to do. Do I need medication?” ¬†I am fully aware that some hormonal conditions require medication. I’ve been on medicine in the past, and am not opposed to it. Like most people, I want medication to be a last resort. Terry and I prayed about my issues and I picked a doctor from the phone book. She was not kind and I left her office in tears. I took that as God saying “No” about medication for the time being. I was back to square one. That’s when I remembered that book! Before I even picked it up, the Holy Spirit reminded me of 2 Corinthians 10:5¬†Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;¬†If only I could control my thoughts better! My thought life seemed to carry me away on wings and lead me off to worlds of worry! I wanted to apply that verse, but how? How can I bring something “captive” that I can’t even touch? The first chapter in Mrs. George’s book held my answer. She shares her own struggle with depression and that her thoughts were the problem. She began memorizing Phil. 4:8 while doing dishes. It says,¬†Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.¬†One day, like a bolt from the blue, she realized that her fearful thoughts came from thinking about things that were not true.¬†That was the part of the verse she focused on. If she started thinking the “what if” thoughts, she would stop and ask herself, “Is this true?” Well, most “what ifs” are useless, they are not true. She talked about how she got depressed thinking about the past, and fretting over the “if onlys” of life. But, the past was no longer real, it was over. She began putting her thoughts up against the “Is this true?” test on a daily basis. Soon, she was reining in her thoughts and only dwelling on the real, the true, the “right now”. This was my answer – this is how I could bring my thoughts into captivity! I began working on this around the first of October, and in these past few weeks, I have seen God change my thought life.

But what about real problems? I have a few of those. I have a few family members who seem to hate me, and no amount of apologizing, explaining or loving can shake them from their position. To say that it’s caused stress in my life is an understatement. It’s been the source of much of my anxiety, sleepless nights, tears and heart palpitations. I want everyone (especially my family) to like me, so not being able to fix this hurts tremendously.The fourth step is learning to let go of that which I cannot control.¬†I’m learning (on a daily basis) to take the real problems to the Lord each day in prayer, and leave them with Him. He holds the situation tightly and knows just how to handle it. When I start to stress about this, or any other real problem, I think of it like this: What if I read the paper and saw that another crisis similar to that of the Apollo XIII disaster was happening right now in space. What could I do? Could I rush down to Houston, roll up my sleeves and start doing physics? Umm…no. I can’t do physics. Even if I were a scientist, I don’t work for NASA. They would’t even let me on the property! It’s out of my league! Some problems are like physics. I don’t understand them; they are simply out of my league. All I can do is pray and trust God. And I’m learning that trusting God is enough.

I still experience ups and downs. Some days, my tears still flow, and I feel alone, afraid and desperate all over again. But that’s the last step, knowing that ups and downs do not equal failure. I am trying to foresee thought patterns and prepare for them.¬†For example, each time a family member visits, I might think, “This could be the last time I see them!” That naturally causes me to start feeling unnecessary grief. Since I know how I am, I’m preparing myself for those emotions in advance. My answer is quickly becoming my new motto: “Is that true?” Did the Lord come down and say that that would be the last time I’ll see them? Of course not! ¬†When those thoughts come, I’m ready. I think. I’m taking it one day at a time.

Recently, my husband preached a message on trusting God. It was very good teaching from the Bible, but the last sentence of the sermon has stayed with me. He said, “Even if you choose to worry your way through life, the Lord will still be the same and He will still do the same. His faithfulness to you is unwavering, even when your faith in Him is weak.” That’s my security, and it’s been there all the time. My sanity and peace of mind do not depend on me. Yes, I want to develop godly habits and do right, but I will fail. It’s so comforting to know that He never fails.

Sometimes, my husband helps me through the hard times, when the panic is just beneath the surface of my mind. His words of wisdom?

“Don’t get panicky, Ethel.”

And it works every time.

With love,

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The Many Faces of PPD

I realize that I’m opening myself up for a lot of criticism by writing this. But, I simply have to. It has always been my number one goal to keep things real here, so I’m doing it now ¬†– no matter what the cost. I pray that, somehow, this post will be a blessing to you.

When I endured PPD the first time, I experienced deep sadness and feelings of despair and worthlessness. I didn’t want to get out of bed. I held my newborn daughter and wondered if God had made a mistake – not that I thought He really did – but I just couldn’t understand why He made me a mother! I was not worthy of such a task and, moreover, I didn’t feel that I could do the job. I sat and cried in my walk-in closet in the dark. Finally, I tried to take my life.

I am currently battling PPD -Postpartum Depression – again. I have been on the watch for its symptoms with each pregnancy since my first. You see, I didn’t know I had PPD the first time until it was all over. Looking back, I can see that I had symptoms for a year after giving birth. A year! I vowed to myself that I would not make that mistake again – I would be aware of the symptoms, and I would get help.I would do it for my husband, for my children, and I would do it for me.

I was surprised when just recently I realized that I was dealing with this again. This time has been so different. I rise early each day. I don’t feel sad or blue. Instead, I have severe mood swings. I go from being “normal” one minute, to angry the next. I have not hurt anyone or anything, but I have spoken words in anger that I sorely regret. Then, when the emotions are past, I have felt dazed, wondering what just happened. I have ¬†also experienced panic attacks. After my son’s two month checkup, I worried that he had quit breathing in the car seat. I couldn’t see him while driving, so I had to pull over and check him. I experienced the same rush of adrenaline and heart rate increase that one might have if your house was on fire. Only, nothing was happening. Well, nothing was happening for real, anyway. Plenty was happening inside my brain! That day, the day I pulled over to check the baby, was the day I remembered what my nurse told me at my six week follow up visit. “If your emotions begin to affect your life, you have a problem.” I began thinking about the ridiculous heated arguments I was having with my husband. I always apologized and we made up, but why was I even upset? Why the heart palpitations and fear over nothing more than a greasy stove or a pile of laundry to fold? Then, after the panic had subsided, I dealt with immobilizing guilt and sadness. I had to face the facts: I had PPD again, with a different face this time, and it was affecting my life. I walked with the Lord through Bible reading and prayer, so I knew this wasn’t a spiritual problem. I did what I promised I’d do if I ever had this again. I called my doctor.

I made the appointment with some trepidation. I wasn’t sure what to say? “I think I’m losing my mind. Please save me.” Well, that sounded good to me! My wonderful OB/GYN nurse, Lyndsey, knew exactly what I meant. She explained to me that I had a hormonal imbalance that was the root of all my problems. She also informed me that 70% of women have un-medicated depression issues – these are women who should be on medication, but aren’t! I was shocked at that statistic! My doctor prescribed some medication for me to start that very day. It isn’t addictive, it doesn’t affect my nursing the baby, it doesn’t knock me out and it doesn’t make me “high”. It simply returns me to normal – whatever that was. ūüôā

I don’t know why I was so afraid to call the doctor and take something. On the way home from my appointment, I had an asthma attack due to the pollen and dust outside. I didn’t hesitate to grab my rescue inhaler and take two puffs. As soon as I did, I could breathe again! Why wouldn’t I want to be free of the hormonal imbalance that was plaguing me? I don’t know – I think the hormones messed with my decision maker, too! lol!

I don’t get an increased heartbeat over a messy kitchen now! I don’t worry that my baby has stopped breathing every hour! I don’t panic over spilled milk! I’m me again! I have gotten upset, but I haven’t lost control since starting the medicine. And that’s so nice – I usually didn’t lose control before getting pregnant. It’s so comforting to be myself again.

I’d really missed me.

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My Hurting Heart

Recently, I have found myself in the midst of stress – and lots of it. We’ve had some vandalism to our personal property, my children have been physically harmed by neighborhood bullies, we have had a midnight visitor show up twice seeking money, as well as some other personal issues with which we are dealing. None of this is too great for the Lord to handle, and I spend time with Him daily. Yet, even so, I have been suffering from extreme worry, constant tears, and dark thoughts.

Having fought a fierce battle against PPD after giving birth to my first child, I’ve been on the lookout for the symptoms in every subsequent pregnancy. Because my emotions have seemed so extreme lately, I mentioned it to my OB, even though I have not yet given birth (so it couldn’t be postpartum depression!). My doctor is a Christian – for which I thank God – and was very concerned about my symptoms. He isn’t a pill-pusher, but at the same time, he believes that in some cases, medication is necessary. As of this writing, I’m not needing medication. And, I’m praying that the Lord will send complete healing without it at all!

I am so blessed to have a wonderful Mother and sister on whom I can call and confide in. They do not judge me or criticize me, but they do listen and pray for me. They offer a perspective that I often do not have. This week, while telling my sister about my doctor’s appointment, she told me about a Bible study that she used that had a been a blessing to her which discussed some of my very emotions. In fact, she sent a copy to me about six months ago! I had just noticed it on my bookshelf a few days ago and thought, “Oh, I need to do that Bible study!” But, when she sent it, I was in the middle of another study, and then I had forgotten about it. I believe it was God’s perfect timing though, that I didn’t do it sooner. I didn’t need it as much six months ago as I do now. I have started this study, and while I’ve only completed chapter one, I feel encouraged already. I was doubly encouraged when my Mom told me she was mailing me a sermon on CD that she thought would really help me. I can’t wait to get it!

I am so grateful to the Lord for sending me help through His Holy Word. I am also grateful for a loving sister and Mom who care about me in tangible ways. They are a precious gift from the Lord. My doctor told me yesterday that the Great Physician can heal any disease of mind or body, but sometimes He chooses to use “lesser doctors” also. My doctor is another gift from above.

I praise my heavenly Father for loving someone like me! How amazing that the God of the universe and Saviour of the world cares about my little hurting heart.

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Some Tips for Emotional Stability

As a woman, I understand all too well what it feels like to ride the “roller coaster” of human emotions. Up one minute, down the next. I know that true joy is based on Jesus, and happiness is based on happenings. Sometimes, however, I only look at the happenings of life. Needless to say, they aren’t always happy happenings. Have you noticed that people can disappoint? Jesus never disappoints.(We may be disappointed in the answers He gives us, but He always knows what’s best for us.) People can lie, Jesus never lies. People forget about you, Jesus never forgets you. People will remember, and remind you, of your past sin. Once forgiven, Jesus will never remember it, nor remind us. (I John 1:9 and Ps.103:12)
We are all still robed in flesh, and as a woman, I fight my emotions more than anything else. I fight being impatient with people, mostly my kids! I fight the feeling of telling someone what I think of _________(whatever). I fight being selfish, unforgiving, depressed, discouraged, and the list goes on and on.
This past Sunday, Terry and I had Satan on our backs, it seemed. We were let down by, you guessed it, people! Right before our evening services, Terry realized that our neighbor boy had locked our van that afternoon while playing with the kids. The problem was that our only set of keys was in that van. Thankfully, the car happens to be running right now, we used it to get to church. But what a bummer for Terry right before he was to stand and preach God’s Word! The list could go on. Sunday was just not a good day for “happenings”.
I’m reminded, however, that my life is not lived for events, but for people. Yes, those people that “disappoint” and “forget”.More specifically, for a Person. I live my life each day trusting that He will care for me, guide me and even correct me when I need it.
As I arrived home to my less-than-spotless living room, and faced the mountains of laundry and the five hungry people waiting to be fed, I wanted to cry. I was so lonely and discouraged. I wanted to wallow in it. The Holy Spirit said to me, as I mentally rattled off all the people that I knew so I could call and whine to them, that I didn’t need to be consoled by “people”. I remembered 1 Sam. 30:6 And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God. (David had people problems too!)
I thought to myself “Yeah, ya wimp. Why can’t you just encourage yourself, huh?” So I did! I started singing “Wings as Eagles” by Ron Hamilton (Patch the Pirate). Boy! Did it do the trick! My heart truly did sore as I sang the second verse:

Let us run the race with patience, Let us lay each weight aside,
Looking only unto Jesus, He will be our faithful guide.
He has run the race before us, He has won the victor’s crown,
And He calls to every Christian “Follow me, to higher ground!”

That last part really encouraged me! In my mind, I could see Him smiling and motioning for me to keep climbing up that mountain of discouragement. The view from the top is wonderful, but it’s a lot of work to get there. I can’t control people, but I can control ME!
Now, I would be struck dead right now at this computer if I told you that “Now, I’m ALWAYS on top side!” (smiling broadly with a sparkle in my eye) So, I won’t tell you that. I’ll tell you, that since Sunday night, I’ve been down again and again. I can also tell you though, that I don’t stay down.
Here are some tips that have helped me this week, and in weeks past, as I have dealt with loneliness, discouragement and even some depression now and then.
1. Stay in your Bible. Don’t neglect your walk with God even though it seems the heavens are brass and your prayers are led- and I have felt that way at times! Keep going. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. Heb.13:5. Claim those precious promises. God always keeps His Word!
2. Refuse self-pity. I posted about this before, and I don’t know how to link you to it. (If you want to read that post, it is under “2007” in my archives. It is entitled “Survival and Self Pity”) It’s an emotional death trap. If you give in to self-pity, it won’t take 10 minutes before you feel you are the most troubled and forsaken person in the world. Fight it.
3. Exercise mind control. Yes, do control your mind. If you don’t, your burdens will! Dwell on scripture, get busy on something that requires brain power. You know, don’t do dishes or vacuum. Read, write, play an instrument.
4. Listen to good music or sermons. Do you have the Internet? (Okay, I guess so or you wouldn’t be reading this!) Need I say more? There are hundreds, yea, thousands of sermons for free on the Internet. Check out http://www.sermonaudio.com/ or my personal fave, http://www.biblewaytexas.com/ for some great preaching.
5. Think about others. I can’t get out of the house a lot because I have four young kiddos at home all the time. (I home school) But, I do try to call others and write notes to those who may need a lift. When I stop and think of others, it doesn’t take long for me to see someone who has it harder than I do!
6. Do something. Don’t give in to the desire to eat, lie down and watch TV. My Mom tutors kids in Algebra II. She also goes soul winning every week, teaches Sunday School, cleans a portion of the church, leads a ladies group, writes endless notes of encouragement to others…I’m sure I’ve left out something.The point is, she stays busy. If you aren’t naturally busy, then get busy. How can we be worried or depressed if we’re trying to hang curtains just right, or work on a scrapbook or clean out a closet or figure out what “y” equals?
7. Live by the same schedule everyday. This has been so important to me. I do the same things at the same time of day as much as I can. It’s good for you to sleep the same number of hours, eat at the same time everyday, etc.
8. And one more: Laugh. Laughter is good medicine. So, do what I do when I need a laugh- go look in the mirror! It gets me everytime. If you aren’t funny to look at, then laugh at someone who is…just kidding. Really, get out an “I Love Lucy” or an Andy Griffith and have a good laugh. It will do you, and your abs, good!

I wish I could say that I’ve always been upbeat and positive. I cannot. I wish I could say that I never give in to my flesh. Again, honesty forbids me to say this. I have learned that even when I fail Him, He is there. I feel like I’ve always let Him down.
Believe me, as a kid, the folks in my church did NOT look at me and say “Hey, there goes a future Pastor’s Wife!” No way. I’m more shocked than anyone at the things God has allowed me to see and do. Yet, why does He put up with me? I don’t know why! I am just so glad He does! I love my home Pastor, Bro. Ken Graham, so much. I hardly go through a day where some of his teaching doesn’t come to mind. I often think of this quote that he used often: “I find it interesting that people think that after they get saved, they can live any way they want! That’s not true. If I could live any way I wanted now that I’m saved, I’d never sin again.” That’s how I feel. I wish I’d never let anyone down, but I have. I wish I’d never been disloyal, hateful or impatient. But I have been all of those things before. I’m so thankful His forgiveness is endless!
If Jesus-sinless, perfect Jesus- can keep loving me, and letting me continue to breathe, after I’ve failed Him so much, then I – sinful, imperfect Valerie – should be able to forgive the people who have hurt me.