Redefining FLOURISH Pt.6

Overcoming Anxiety and Depression – Fight

Fighting doesn’t always mean resorting to violence. We know that the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds, and that is exactly what we intend to do…demolish the strongholds of anxiety and depression.

Do not allow these killers (anxiety and depression) to murder you, which is precisely their purpose. Make no mistake about it ladies, anxiety and depression can be just as deadly as some forms of cancer and you must fight against it with everything in you. Known for being relentless and ruthless, do not underestimate the enemy of your soul, whose determined to steal, kill, and destroy. Anxiety and depression will attack with no holds barred. Therefore be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might! When your strength is depleted, remain standing and let the Lord fight your battles. Your first line of defense is ALWAYS GOD.anxietydepression6

There are several tactics that can be implemented when breaking the cycle of ungodly thinking. Because both anxiety and depression are known for altering the perception of their captors, you are their main target. If they can get you to believe that you are anything less than what God says, they’ve won half the battle. The blows that anxiety and depression throw at you may sometimes leave you dazed, confused, and barely able to see clearly. If the way you view yourself is off, if your vision is even slightly skewed, the way you view yourself must be reestablished immediately. Be determined in your strategy to overcome by any means necessary. Do not let your guard down and extend no mercy because trust that none will be reciprocated. You must fight for your right to be free from the mental prison that will not hesitate to arrest all other aspects of living. Roll up your sleeves and fight ladies, fight for your life in Christ.

Just one more day to go before our journey comes to an end, are you still with me ladies? Hang in there because I saved the best for last. Today, I pray that each of you would be endowed with the supernatural power of the One who fights constantly for you, with you, and on your behalf – the Champion of life, death, and satan himself: the One and Only, Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

Redefining FLOURISH Pt.5

Overcoming Anxiety and Depression – Focus

I am all too familiar with the negative spin that anxiety and depression puts on everything fanxietydepression5rom future expectations to the way you see yourself and everything in between. Contrary to popular belief (and popular usually means those who haven’t dealt with depression personally), when battling with these two monsters, blanket statements like “mind over matter,” “wishful thinking,” and (my all-time favorite…NOT) “just think positive” will not cut it. As a matter of fact, it could actually make things worse because now feelings of guilt develop due to you not being able to “positive think” it away.

If anxiety and depression were that easy to get rid of, why is it that an alarming amount of people have these issues and the number of people dealing with them are constantly growing? Ladies, anxiety and depression is so much more than being “down in the dumps” and to overcome it means you must be willing to concentrate on the Lord wholeheartedly.

To break out of the ungodly thought process you must focus – control your mind, don’t allow your mind to control you. Yes, thoughts will come (guaranteed), however, you do not have to entertain those thoughts. Be intentional in your thinking and purposeful in your processing.

While in these bouts of mental anguish, remember who you are in God, and should you forget, revert back to the only truth that does not waver – His word. Listen ladies, you cannot rely on your feelings because not only are they unstable but they can lie to you as well. It is crucial that you become completely dependent upon the Lord of hosts. He is the same today, yesterday, and forever.

Unfortunately, many people who have issues with anxiety and depression, are also perfectionists. Perfectionists are constantly holding themselves to higher standards and unrealistic expectations. Sometimes people fail to realize that God is not interested in their attempts at being perfect, He doesn’t have to look beyond His own throne for perfection (quoted by Laurie Lewis). God already knows you are incapable of perfection. Alleviate self-imposed stress by allowing yourself to be less than perfect, instead focus on who you are in Him.

Writing has always been therapeutic in my opinion. Consider keeping an ungodly verses godly thought journal. Whenever an ungodly thoughts pops into your head, write it down, afterwards, write a godly truth (may include scriptures) that will negate the ungodly thought. Focus on the godly truth you wrote down, read it often, memorize it. Soon, each time the ungodly thought enters your mind the godly thought will be sure to follow. It won’t take long for you to obtain a few pages full of godly thoughts that are now ineffective due to the godly truth you chose to focus on. If you keep you mind on the Lord, He’ll keep you in perfect peace.

Wow ladies, it has been awesome to share with you today. As we come to another day’s end, please know that my prayer for you is that you would fully concentrate on God’s goodness and His grace. You won’t want to miss tip six, join me again tomorrow! May the Lord keep you, until we meet again.

 

Redefining FLOURISH Pt.4

anxietydepression4Overcoming Anxiety and Depression – Fitness

Exercise is such an ugly word, wouldn’t you agree ladies? LOL! In spite of how we may feel about the word, it is a necessary evil. I’m sure you’re all too familiar with the spirit of heaviness that causes such menial tasks, such as getting out of bed or taking a shower, to be insurmountable, much less exercising. However, research tells us that staying fit is proven to be just as effective as prescription medications used to treat anxiety and depression. Apparently, staying fit with regular physical activity such as exercise, actually triggers new cell growth in the brain which has several benefits. It causes muscle tension relief and it increases mood-enhancing neurotransmitters and endorphins, as well as reducing high levels of stress.

When establishing a fitness routine, keep in mind that most of your benefits will come from exercising at least thirty minutes or more every day. Whether you are an amateur or an expert as it pertains to fitness, you can start small. If you do too much too soon, your fitness action plan will fall apart before you know it. Short bursts of activity in 10 minute intervals will have a noticeable effect on your mood. Buckets of sweat, gym memberships, personal trainers, signing up for marathons, etc. are not necessary to be fit. Any activity that gets your arms and legs moving and raises your heart rate may be considered as exercise. Dancing, swimming, walking, running, (requires moving of the limbs and accelerating the heart rate) can all be incorporated into your daily routine. It makes it easier if you choose activities you enjoy because you’re more likely to stick with it. Committing to several small activities spread throughout the day can quickly add up. It also allows you to tackle your fitness routine in small doses rather than all at once. With the smaller portions it doesn’t seem as overwhelming, especially to those of us who don’t exercise regularly.

There are several ways to implement those smaller chunks of exercise into your day, like parking your vehicle in the farthest spot on the lot, using the stairs instead of the elevators, make walking the dog a part of your daily routine, etc. These are all small adjustments that will make huge impacts.

Four down, three to go! I hope you all will join me again tomorrow as we discuss our fifth tip. My prayer is that every woman who is having this battle will know without a shadow of a doubt that she is not alone. Lord, I ask that You remind these ladies who love You that you have loved them with an everlasting love and nothing will separate them from the miraculous love that You have so freely given to each woman. Speak to them throughout the day in ways that would assure them that You are right there in the storm with them, providing shelter making it impossible for them to get swept up by the treacherous wind and rain. Remember ladies, your hope is in God alone. Blessings!

Redefining FLOURISH Pt.3

anxietydepression3Overcoming Anxiety and Depression – Fun

When we become adults, the world suddenly becomes so serious. For adults, fun is something that we simply don’t have time to indulge. We have unscheduled it on our calendars and removed it from our to-do lists.

We have to come to the realization that in order to overcome anxiety and depression, we gotta have some fun. Girls just wanna have fun, right?! Do things that relax and energize you. In doing so you will learn how to better manage stress, develop healthy habits, and schedule some long overdue, fun activities into your day.

In your pursuit for fun, try exposing yourself to a little sunlight each day, a minimum of at least fifteen minutes per day. Sunlight actually helps to improve your mood. Sitting in a garden, reading a book under a tree, even taking a stroll in the park will help in obtaining your daily dose of sun.

It’s not unusual for anxiety and depression to alter your normal sleep pattern. Whether you’re sleeping too much or too little, your mood will be affected by it. On average we need about eight hours of sleep, which should be your goal each night. You may even need to try some relaxation techniques prior to your bedtime, it will help to relieve some of the symptoms of anxiety and depression, while reducing stress. It can also enhance feelings of joy and well-being. Creating healthy sleeping habits will definitely help to improve your mood.

Before anxiety and depression took over your life, you had fun and enjoyed doing certain things. Of course you can’t force yourself to fun, however, you can make a conscience decision to participate in activities that you once found to be pleasurable like an old hobby you’d like to revisit, or an interest you may want to explore. Investigate your creative side through art (painting, sculpting, etc.), writing, build a collection of some sort, or take a trip to the park, the beach, even the mountains with a few friends. Music has the ability to greatly influence its listeners, it has extreme mood altering capabilities. Having said that, be careful when selecting your playlists. Opt for music that makes you feel good, empowered, inspired, strong, etc. Stay away from dark music with violent lyrics, sad songs, and music that triggers painful memories.

You will have to push yourself to have fun because most likely you won’t feel up to doing anything, but follow through with it anyway. It may not happen the first time, but eventually you’ll notice a gradual improvement in your moods accompanied by being more energetic. Whether you see change immediately or not, continue to make time for fun.

This brings us to yet another end ladies and I’d love to hear from you. What are your thoughts thus far? This question may be a little premature but have you been able to apply what you’ve learned to your life? I’m excited to hear your feedback. If you want to share with me personally as opposed to commenting below, please feel free to contact me via email at: Takiela@TakielaBynum.com . Looking forward to hearing from you soon. Blessings!

Redefining FLOURISH Pt.2

anxietydepression2

Overcoming Anxiety and Depression – Food

You’ve heard the phrase, “you are what you eat” right? Well, to my surprise there is some truth to that old adage. Actually what you eat has a huge impact on the way you feel. When dealing with anxiety and depression, your goal should be a balanced diet of complex carbs, low-fat carbs, and plenty of fruits and veggies. Stay away from “comfort foods” and do not to succumb to the urge of emotional eating, especially if it includes trans or saturated fats, high levels of artificial or chemical preservatives or hormones (some meats), alcoholic beverages, and caffeine. Minimize your sugar and refined carbs such as French fries, pasta, cookies, brownies, cakes, pies, baked goods, sugary snacks, etc. These foods will temporarily make you feel good but your mood and energy will quickly crash, which could cause you to feel worse. These types of foods have a tendency to adversely affect not just your mood, but your brain as well.

Complex carbs will increase your serotonin levels. Foods such as whole grain breads, whole-wheat pasta, oatmeal, baked potatoes are all full of complex carbs that will increase your serotonin levels without the crash like refined carbs.

Implement more super foods into your daily intake. Nuts, bananas, and brown rice are all foods rich in nutrients that can boost your mood. Increase your vitamin B consumption by taking a B-complex vitamin supplement or eating more eggs, chicken, leafy greens, and beans. Deficiencies in B vitamins can trigger mood swings.

Sometimes, when battling with anxiety or depression, you don’t have much of an appetite at all. When you don’t feel well, it’s not uncommon for your food intake to significantly decrease from little to nothing. Skipping meals is a bad idea because long stretches between meals can make you feel both tired and irritable. Make it a goal to eat a small meal or snack every three or four hours.

Well ladies, as we bring today’s discussion to a close, I hope you will join me tomorrow for the third tip on overcoming anxiety and depression. I am praying that the Lord will demonstrate His power in your life while you walk through this emotionally challenging journey. May you experience the glory of the Lord in ways you never have before. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. Until we meet again ladies, blessings!

 

We’ve Come this Far by Faith – First of the Last

secondhalfoftheyearday

It is the first day of the second half of the year. That’s right ladies, today we are entering into the last 6 months of 2015 – we’ve come this far by faith!

How many of you have allowed your New Year’s Resolution(s) to fade in the wash of daily living? Don’t feel bad because you are NOT alone.

Statistics show that a whopping 92% of New Year’s Resolution(s) fail within about 30 days of making them. Why? After doing a little research I discovered a few reasons. 1. Unrealistic goals (including too vague or too many) 2. Unprepared (ill equipped, lack of faith, little/no support 3. Unmotivated (wrong/negative intentions, resolving to stop bad habit(s), actions, gestures, etc.)

Now that we know the why, let’s follow up with a why not – why not, rekindle those New Year’s Resolutions? The year 2015 is only half over which gives you 6 months to beat the odds. Let’s resolve to be counted among the 8% that don’t fail because our determination stems from the One who has never failed – God!

 

Hope Courage Strength

Takiela Bynum Leading Young Women to Hope

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So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the LORD! ~Psalm 31:24 NLT

 ATTENTION: All you who put your hope in the Lord

It’s easy to hope when you’re skipping through the roses of life. However, do you have hope when life is anything but a walk through the garden? Are you desperately clinging to hope when everything that was solid in your life has been reduced to a heaping pile of debris? Where is your hope when all that you’ve secretly feared has suddenly become a harsh reality?

There have been times that my life was devastating and as a result my hope was dashing, (and I don’t mean good looking either). My hope was shattering because of what was happening.

Most of us have a basic knowledge of what it means to hope, but the actual definition of hope gives us a clearer image.

hope: the feeling that what is wanted can be had, a person or thing in which expectations are centered, to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence, to believe, desire, or trust* *Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Unknown to me the image wasn’t as sharp as it could be and the Lord stepped in with His holy Windex so to speak. He cleaned up the lens of my perspective and what was cloudy become crystal clear – He revealed a deeper meaning of the word hope. Two little words, smack dab in the middle of the definition, lit up and flickered before my eyes.

hope: await, to be patient, trust, be pained, stay, tarry, wait* *Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance

Precious hearts, there are times it will be painful to hope. There will be moments that every fiber of your being will scream – give up! I’ll be the first to admit that in a few instances, I did actually give up. I’d been depleted of even the shadow of hope. Have you ever been there, has life ever mercilessly snatched every fraction of hope from you?  I remember on a couple of occasions my hopelessness devoured my well-being, my reasoning, my faith, it swallowed me whole. Oh but thank God that my Father stepped in and did not allow it to consume me. When my hope became too frail for me to hold on to Him, my God in all His glorious power held me, just as He is holding you right at this moment.

Yes, to hope is the feeling that what is wanted can be had, it is a person/thing in which expectations are center, it is trust, it is being patient, but it is also being pained…and painful it is, painful indeed.

In the previously mentioned verse (Psalm 31:24 NLT) it instructs those who put their hope in the Lord to be strong and courageous. It’s an interesting fact that the writer (David) specified exactly who he was addressing.

A lot of people put hope in a lot of things, and it’s not always the Lord. Hope is often misappropriated. It’s been put in finances, self, government, society, other people, celebrities, gods, etc. Make sure you are putting your hope in the right one, which is the Lord.

Several chapters later David asks a question and then answers it when he pens this verse…

And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in YOU. Psalm 39:7

When we mistakenly put hope in anything but the Lord it is guaranteed to disappoint. God alone has the power to fulfill the absolute terms and conditions of hope. If your hope remains in Him it will always be secure. Ultimately, He is the driving force (power) that enables the hope you put in Him, to accomplish what would otherwise be impossible.

Hope feeds the courageous appetite; it satisfies the hunger of strength.

For those who hope in the Lord, strength and courage are essential. It is not for the faint of heart. Although the words are similar in meaning (actually their definitions are intertwined), there is a fine line between strength and courage, and the Lord has a way of clarifying what He wants us to understand.

This is what I discovered…

Strength is measured by what you carry, however, courage is measured by what you can bear.

Without hope there is no courage. Without strength courage cannot exist.

How can you be courageous without hope? There is no need to be courageous if hope isn’t present. How can there be courage without strength? The world is full of strong cowards (our enemy, satan, for example – he has some strength with a limited amount of power but he is also a coward) however, courageous wimps have yet to be discovered. I’d venture to say that strength and courage are a few of the prerequisites to putting your hope in the Lord.

In this life you will have trouble, but put your hope in God, be strong, and courageous. For strength may be measured by what you carry, courage may be measured by what you bear, but hope is measured by the light you hold while surrounded by darkness.

May the hope you put in God be illuminated with courage and strength.

Infallible

/inˈfaləb(ə)l/adjectiveinfalliable1

not capable of making mistakes or being wrong

never failing; absolutely trustworthy

certain to succeed

unable to disappoint

 

Dear Make-Up Industry,

I fell in love with your products! Your marketing strategy is pure genius. The way you use imitations of perfection to promote your products is almost infallible itself. It is incredible how you hire professional make-up artists to glamorize celebrities and then pass those products off as top of the (drugstore) line quality. As if that’s not enough, you then photo-shop the images to add yet another layer/dimension of flawless perfection.

Just one problem – it’s not true. You see, I have a daughter, nieces, and a ton of other family, friends, etc. who are girls and women. Some of them are so broken by life circumstances that it has left them with little or no value of themselves. They look to any and everything to “fix” themselves and your product offers a hope that it can’t fulfill.

Your products are incapable of being infallible. They will never look like what is portrayed as the unblemished models and celebrities used to promote your products. You profit from their pain, the pain of not feeling like your pretty enough, the pain of always needing someone’s approval, the pain of perfection that cannot be obtained through lipstick, foundation, or eye shadow.

We are full of flaws, we are imperfectly perfect. Covering our imperfections and blemishes further enables the pressure to be flawless at any cost – which is a set-up for failure because perfection, among humans, does not exist.

Imitations of hope produce hopeless insecurity. Girls think infallible will come through with its promise of certainty. Disappointment sets in and lack of confidence follows. The cycle repeats itself because a mother can’t teach her daughter what she does not know herself – she is made beautiful therefore she is beautiful. Period. Unfortunately, you can’t make money off that truth, therefore deception is conveyed. Tearing down her value and worth with false guarantees that your products will bring her the beauty she has desperately desired in magazines, television, and online. You see dollars signs, I see tears, depression, hopelessness, low/no self-esteem, and sometimes lost lives because it was all too much to handle. Constantly being hung up on the appearance of perfection is mentally exhausting and spiritually draining, it’s an unattainable goal.

If you aren’t on board with instilling values and morals in our girls, how is it expected of them to grow up to be women of noble character, passing integrity down to the following generations whether they’re wearing make-up or not?

No, you are certainly not the only company that operates this way, there are many. My question to you is will you take the lead in making a change?

Confidently,

Takiela

The “Holly Jolly” Christmas Recipe

hollyjollychristmasHave a holly, jolly Christmas; it’s the best time of the year.
I don’t know if there’ll be snow but have a cup of cheer.
Have a holly, jolly Christmas, and when you walk down the street,
Say hello to friends you know and everyone you meet.

The holiday season is such a fun time – I can understand why it’s considered the most wonderful time of the year. Holiday cheer seems to be contagious. The generosity and gratitude of the season spreads like a wildfire. Family and friends come together in love to celebrate the birth of the Savior. What a joyful occasion!

However, there is a flip side to the joyful season also known as depression. Merry and Christmas go hand in hand, however, for some there is an unending sadness that comes along with the holidays as well as the day to day.

Here are 5 tips to fight those holiday blues – the recipe for a holly jolly Christmas.

  1. Giggle often. Look for reasons to laugh, it’s okay to be silly. It’s great to giggle with friends or to chuckle to yourself. It’s cool how laughing releases a chemical in the body that counteracts depression, the more you have (or release it) the less depressed you feel. Laughter is like good medicine for the soul.

Proverbs 17:22 ESV

  1. Eat cookies (add hot chocolate when necessary). Holiday treats will make you grin because of the sheer yumminess (or make you gag because of the utter grossness – ugh :P). It’s no time for diets. Have fun and eat freely. Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Psalm 34:8

  1. Listen carefully…to your socks. Wear a pair of socks that you love. Choose Christmas (or Grinch) designed, colorful, cute, polka dots, stripes, etc. (the crazier the better) or an inspirationally worded pair would work too! They don’t have to be perfect (holey socks welcome), match, or even be clean. They do have to be visible (at least you). Every time your head hangs low, you’ll see those socks and smile because they’re speaking to you – screaming words like jolly, cheery, love, or hope etc. The rocks socks will cry out.

Luke 19:40 NIV

  1. Sing loud. What’s your favorite praise and/or worship song? Do you have a Christmas song you simply love? Find those songs, turn up the volume, and let them play as you sing along. Play the music loud and sing loud…sing like no one is listening. Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.

Psalm 98:4 KJV

  1. Unwrap one gift. The grace of God that brought salvation is a gift to you, but what good is a gift that is never opened? You can’t enjoy it without opening it. It’s the second step in the receiving process – step one: accept it, step two: open it. For it is by graceyou have been saved, through faith—…it is the gift of God.

Ephesians 2:8 NIV

If you or someone you know struggle with depression (especially during the holidays) there is help or better yet there is hope. This dilemma doesn’t have to be faced alone. God is always with you and He’ll send others to help you during your journey towards Him. May the joy of the Lord (always) be your strength.

I pray that your holly jolly doesn’t stop at Christmas,

Takiela

Sparkles in the Son

sparklesinthesonI don’t like snow. It’s messy, cold, and such an inconvenience.

As a child, I enjoyed it. Making snow angles, snowmen, and having snowball fights were all some of winter’s exciting benefits.

Now, as an adult, I have little to no tolerance of it.

Until one day, things changed.

We had a blizzard on a Sunday night. Because I jump at every opportunity to spend time with my children, we all hoped Monday would be deemed a snow day by the school system.

Bright and early the next morning, our kids jumped in our bed, rejoicing over the closing of the schools. Right when my husband and I joined in the celebration, we heard the phone ring. It was my husband’s co-worker notifying him that the Air Force Base had shut down due to weather and only emergency personal were to report to duty. We cheered and praised God for a snow day for my husband too. We were all screaming and jumping on the beds, thanking God for snow days.

As the day progressed we knew our little ones would want to go outside and play in the snow. Sure enough not a minute later they came down the hall toting snowboards, sleighs, and snow-boots.

Secretly, I wondered if this snow day was going to be as fun as I hoped.

Okay, okay…I grabbed a book and jumped in the truck with my family. They were giddy and I was…blah. We arrived at the infamous “hill” all the kids in the neighborhood flock to whenever it snows. Terry and the kids jump out of the truck. I opened my book and started to countdown 3…2..1…”Mom, you’re not playing with us? Nooo. Awe, Mom please? Daddy’s going to come (as if that mattered)” and the numerous other complaints came as expected because I refused to get out the truck.

“I’ll watch and take pictures” knowing this would not appease them, I closed my book and took out the camera as proof. It worked. Inwardly, I celebrated.

I watched and waved as my husband pushed and pulled our children around on the fresh blanket of snow as I snapped pictures. When I thought it was safe, I returned to my book.

A few pages later, I looked up. The sun was shining. The light from the sun reflected off the snow. I squinted as my eyes adjusted to the brightness. When I felt it was safe to return to my gaze, my eyes revealed something that went completely unnoticed over the years – the snow was actually sparkling. That picture perfect view left me in awe of the Lord’s splendid creation. It was as if God blew heavenly glitter from His glorious throne and I had a front row seat to the revealing of His masterpiece.

Anything that was in the path of the fluttering flakes when they landed now glistened (including my family).

Immediately my mind compared the sparkling snow to the mercy of God. Although each of us was created in His image, sin caused us to lose our luster. However, when Christ took our place on the cross, He died for us to shine…in Him. We were dull, inevitably doomed but God drizzled His mercy on us, now we shimmer, infallible sparkle. We absorb His light and reflect it to world – sparkles in the Son (of God, Jesus Christ).

Needless to say, my perspective of snow changed that day. I gladly got out of the truck and enjoyed the snow with my family. When the Lord uses trivial situations to teach critical lessons, as He did in the Bible, it should reassure us of the love He has for us. He wants us to “get it,” His desire is that we learn of Him and walk in His ways. God used a rooster to get one disciple to repent; He can certainly use snow to help us grow (gracefully in Him).

My prayer is that as He shines, you sparkle.

Takiela.

Tis the Season

tistheseasontobejollyDeck the halls with boughs of holly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Tis’ the season to be jolly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Tis the season to be jolly, right? Yet in times past, the month of December was reported to have depression and suicide rates peaked. However, as I’ve researched this topic, I’m finding that what was previously reported is now being deemed as a myth. It seems that depression and suicide attempts (or actually committing suicide) rise during the Spring and Summer according to about half of my sources.

Honestly, I can’t say that I agree with my collogues’ recent discovery of declining numbers among the depressed and suicidal in the winter months or around the holiday season. On the flip side, other sources and collogues agree that there is a definite increase in cases of depression and suicide during this time of year. This won’t turn into a debate of who’s right and who’s wrong, my goal is to help snuff out depression and suicide altogether.

Through personal experience and knowledge gained by working with the depressed and suicidal I can attest to the multi-facets that are attached with the holiday season – The good, the bad, and the ugh.

The Good: Don’t’ get me wrong, I enjoy the holidays. It’s the time of year when we come together in celebration of our Savior’s birth. During this season we tend to be a little more open to receiving Christ as well as sharing Him with others, more giving to those who are less fortunate, and more caring to our fellow man in general. It’s a time to gather with loved ones (family and friends), remembering those we’ve lost along the way while reminiscing about the good old days. We eat (boy do we eat) and we are merry. In addition, some of us are more excited about giving than we are about receiving during this time of year.

The Bad: The holidays also trigger a temporary “feel good” sensation, and for those of us who struggle with depression – that’s a welcomed feeling (even if it doesn’t last). However, if you battle with depression or feelings of prolonged sadness (or worse) without apparent reason (and I use that term loosely), you are painfully aware that temporary good feelings simply won’t cut it.

Please understand that the holidays will no more cure (or contain) depression or suicidal tendencies than a Band-Aid will cure (or contain) a deadly disease. Don’t be duped by the holiday hype because it will not  last. Santa will never be able to do what the Savior has already done, there is actually no comparison whatsoever between the two.

Now, although Christmas is the most popular and widely celebrated holiday, the meaning of Christmas has been diluted with sugar-plum visions that give false hope based on materials. If your hope is in anything outside of Christ it will be dashed.

The day we celebrate the birth of the Savior has been reduced to a mere profit making opportunity which also happens to be the largest revenue generating contingencies in the industry. The Christ in Christmas has been replaced with the commercial instead.Our media outlets are flooded with countless advertisements bombarding us with innuendos that a product (disguised as a “gift”) will bring us some level of instant gratification and happiness, when in fact it will never satisfy our needs. No object can fill the role that was solely meant for God. Note that the ultimate gift is Christ Himself – He gave His life for us to live. He is truly the gift that keeps on giving (all year round).

The Ugh: Bah Hum B-ugh! If you or someone you know is fighting with depression or is suicidal your/their demeanor during the holiday season may be sort of *shrugs* blah. Sometimes, it’s hard to pretend to be jolly on the outside if you feel like everything is falling apart on the inside. The expectations add pressure to the person who may already feel like they’re about to break under the weight of it all. Also consider that some people are hiding tragic situations they are facing and are suffering in silence. The simple act of getting out of bed is like pulling teeth and the holidays alone cannot penetrate the walls created by their present dire circumstances. However, there is One who has the power to annihilate every wall with His amazing love. It is He alone who is able.

In spite of the good, the bad, and the ugh that are sometimes accompanied with the holidays, be comforted in knowing that our faithful heavenly Father is our emotional stability. He wavers not. No matter the rhyme or reason, He is the same in every season.

Praying that you remain steadfast in Christ, both in and out of season,
Takiela

[gĭv] [thāngk]…BIBLE WEEK PT 3

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV – 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances: for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

bibleweekpic2rvsd

Well ladies, we have come to the end of our journey in dissecting these three verses in this passage of scripture in Thessalonians 5.

So far we’ve discussed “16 rejoice always”,“17 pray continually”,  and now we’re at “18 give thanks…”

How befitting is it to end with this scripture during this time – Thanksgiving. This happened because of the Lord’s guiding, please believe me when I say that it was no planning on my part whatsoever. These verses leaped out of the page and into my heart as I sought the Lord on what to write about during our celebration of Bible week.

Without further ado, let’s get to it ladies…shall we?

The 18th verse of Thessalonians 5 starts off with “give thanks in all circumstances…” there’s more  in this verse but we’ll discuss the last portion of this scripture momentarily. As I read this, I pondered the question: Is there a difference between saying thank you and giving thanks? Here’s what I learned…

Thank-You: a verbal expression of gratitude or thanks (lip service). www.dictionary.com

Give Thanks: the act of giving thanks, grateful acknowledgement of benefits or favors, especially to God. www.dictionary.com

What a blatant difference between two phrases that seem interchangeable at first glance. Praise God because He wants to reveal His word to us and His desire is for us to go deeper in Him.

Needless to say that our God has given us benefits and favor that we can’t fully comprehend because our humanness is no match for His highness. His unmerited favor and daily benefits alone leave me (personally) in awe, not to mention His mercy, grace, and love, etc. Somehow saying “thank you” to the Lord doesn’t quite suffice in and of itself. Mere expressions of verbal thank-yous simply aren’t enough in comparison to our acts of giving thanks, especially to the One who gave His only Son as a ransom for us all. In addition, when expressions migrate to actions (in God) the result is far beyond what can be imagined.

Please don’t misunderstand me in regard to saying “thank you” to God (or to anyone else for that matter), we should say it because not only is it the right thing to do, it is the polite thing to do as well. Also “thank you” is a natural response we were taught as children to say after being shown kindness, over time it can become automated, mediocre, and lack sincerity. It ultimately loses the value of its meaning in the vastness of repetition. Our heavenly Father is thank-worthy. He deserves more than verbal expressions with our mouths, but the act(s) of giving thanks with our hearts. Having said that, today, I challenge you to delve deeper in Him with a heart of thanksgiving >>> Well, are you up for the challenge?

Since the “thank-you” and “give thanks” phrases have been clarified let’s tack on the next words…all circumstances – give thanks in all circumstances. A circumstance is a condition, detail, part, or attribute, with respect to time, place, manner, agent, etc. that accompanies, determines, or modifies a fact or event, or influencing factor.  In addition, it is the current condition or state of a person with respect to income, material welfare, etc.

Let’s break that down for people like me to understand – give thanks no matter what situation (circumstance) you are facing, give thanks when you are smack dab in the middle of life’s raging storm, give thanks in good times and bad, in joy and sadness, in life and death, in anything and everything. Give thanks in ALL circumstances.

The latter part of this scripture explains what was said previously: for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. It is God’s will for us to 1.Rejoice always. 2. Pray continually. 3. Give thanks in all circumstances.

I’ve heard it said that the safest place in the world is in the will of God – and I wholeheartedly agree. The will of God is His desire, plan, purpose, etc. for each of us. As godly women, as Christians, our desires, plans, purpose, etc. should be in line with the will of our Lord and Savior. If it’s not in His will it’s not from Him. If your will is not a reflection of His, you are not in harmony with Him and an evaluation of the source of your will is vital. God will never contradict His will (nor His word).

Our all-powerful Lord has given us instructions on how to live on Earth as we journey towards home in Heaven. As we bring this celebration of God’s word to a close, I pray you each remember that reading the Bible should not be confined to a week,a month, or a year, etc. but something we strive to do on a daily basis. The more you know, the more you’ll grow (in Him). We learn about Him by studying Him, by studying His word.

Until we meet again lovelies…

May you rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks all circumstances – for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus!
Takiela

The ONE and ONLY

psalm62.5-6Outside of Jesus, the life -story of David (in the Bible) is my favorite. David is known for his victory as a teenager in his one on one battle to the death with the giant Philistine Goliath. Logically the odds were mounted against David, which tells us that faith and logic have absolutely NOTHING to do with each other.

Goliath was a bully and used fear tactics to intimidate the people of God (the people of Israel). He basically dared someone to kill him, then he sweetened the pot by adding the surrender of the Philistine army upon his demise. (Side Note: Goliath gave us an example of the saying: Be careful what you say.) No one, not even King Saul would go against Goliath. Well, no one except, (you guessed it) David, the teen who had enough faith to believe God for the unbelievable. One rock (out of five) and one sling shot later, Goliath was on the ground…lifeless.

David had many trials and triumphs in his life. He was imperfect, but he loved God with all his heart, so much that the Lord refers to him as a man after His own heart.

Although not all the Psalms were written by David, most of them were written by him at various stages in his life, various stages in his faith.

Psalm 62 is also known as the “Only” Psalm because here David mentions on several occasions that the Lord is his “only” salvation, his “only” refuge, his “only” fortress, his “only”…! Don’t misunderstand or assume that David is superficial with his writing, heaven’s no, as he writes this passage of scripture, he’s on the run for his life. He is completely reliant upon the only supernatural God he serves to protect him. David was tired of running, tired of people plotting his murder, tired of his life being in danger…tired! While tears covered his face, God covered David with His amazing grace.

It the middle of (one of many) raging storms in his life, David told the Lord that He was his One and Only. Demonstrating a power-packed faith in God that brings Him glory only – Him alone who is worthy!

How does the Lord know that He is your One and Only? Have you told Him lately, or better yet, have you shown Him?

Lord, through every gut retching heartache, all the searing pain, and the countless tears You are my One and Only. #salvation #refuge #fortress

Takiela

*a woman (desperately) after the Lord’s own heart*

Be More Kind

kermitbemoreKIND-natlkindnessweekThis is National Kindness Week! This week, let’s further spread the love of God by being kind to someone. As Christians, we should already be expressing kindness to others however, with all life’s distractions it’s easy to forget. I don’t mean saying please and thank you (although that is important too), I’m referring to intentional acts of kindness.

Some examples would include:

– Posting a sticky note on someone’s desk, locker, the windshield of their car that says  You. Are. BEAUTIFUL.

– Offering to help carry groceries for a tired mom with fussy children or an elderly  person.

– Saying “hi” and striking up a conversation with someone who feels like an outsider at  school, work, church, etc.

– You and a few friends get together and make a meal, do some housework or yard work  for someone who is sick.

– Give someone a card with encouraging words or a Bible verse to brighten up their day.

– Visit with or call someone who may be lonely.

– Compliment the employee while you’re waiting in line for them to service you (they are  so often treated poorly and work really hard).

What’s great about kindness is that it is absolutely free – it costs you nothing to be kind. In this case a little really does go a long way. Think for a minute how it would affect the entire world if EVERYONE was kind. WOW! For some it could make a world of a difference in their life.

An athlete walked passed a classmate during high-school one day and felt a nudge to say hello to the kid. He dismissed the notion and continued to walk to class. Later, this same athlete was informed the kid committed suicide. The kid left a note that explained if one person said hello to him, he wouldn’t have followed through with his plans. He desperately needed someone to be kind to him. No ulterior motives, no hidden agendas, simply kind – that’s it.

With this story in mind, please, let’s all strive to be more kind.

Be more kind, indeed,
Takiela

In Honor of Suicide Prevention Day

1shatteredglass

Stuck in a piercing darkness, doused with excruciating pain, I’m beckoning death to answer my call. It is the only ending to my misery. I welcome death, I long for it, with outstretched arms and an icy embrace. The present condition of my life is now feasting on any hope for my future.  The light at the end of the tunnel has completely vanished because I’m in too deep. Drowning in the sea of life, taking my last breath, as I disappear into the shadows of the abyss, a realm of unknown in which I’ll remain forever.

That is a glimpse inside the mind of someone who is suicidal. You may ask me how I know this information, and I will answer, because those were my thoughts. Yes, I tried to kill myself on more than one occasion as a teen.

My childhood was far from a cakewalk. I have seen and experienced things that no adult, much less a child, should ever see or experience under any circumstances. There were moments that I feared death and moments I craved it. It was a means to an end. The only way to once and for all be free, I could be eternally rid of the pain in me, ultimately escape the misery. Although death was sometimes attractive to me, it was always a little beyond what I could reach.

I believed that I was not worth saving. I believed I was not loved. Because you see the person(s) responsible for loving, providing for, and protecting me was the very person(s) who rejected me in every inhuman and humiliating sense of the word.

My fragile heart was like glass put through a meat grinder. It was incapable of repair. Each time I tried to pick up the pieces in a desperate attempt to put my heart back together, the fragments of glass would cut deep into my flesh, causing further injury.

Finally, He saved me.

You see sweetheart, when life has caused your heart to shatter into irreparable pieces through your eyes, it’s but a fracture to the perfect eyes of God. He is able to do that which we are incapable of doing. We may think our heart is damaged beyond repair and it is damaged beyond *our* repair. The beauty of broken is that God is the mender of broken. We cannot mend our own brokenness, God doesn’t get glory out of us fixing ourselves. Sometimes we’ll cause further injury to ourselves in the name of fixing ourselves. We are limited as humans and from our perspective it really is unable to be repaired, but there is nothing on this earth that the merciful hands of our God is not able to restore.

Suicide Prevention Tip:

Retrain your Brain – the conquering of suicide is impossible apart from God. Remember, every action was first a thought/ idea. To combat lies you must be armed with truth. Find scripture that encourage you and memorize it. Post it on your mirror (use a memo app that will allow you to post it on your phone) put it in the signature line of your text messages, surround yourself with that scripture (it doesn’t have to be limited to one scripture, but it must be at least one). Each time the lies (masqueraded as your own thoughts/ideas) appear in your mind, annihilate it with the truth of God’s word. Think about the scripture, whisper the scripture, scream the scripture, write it down, whatever it takes. The reason for this is to intentionally train your brain to do what will eventually happen naturally – the word of God will become a shield to your heart, unable to be penetrated with lies. Rest assured dear hearts, God watches over His word to perform it.