Shining the light of God's word into our confused world.

Tag: depression

An Expanded Place

This past not quite a year and a half has been tough to get through. It’s been a long season of walking through some hard things, facing painful things from my past, having the blinders removed around certain family narratives and unhealthy dynamics, and letting myself experience the painful emotions that I’ve denied and stuffed down and ignored throughout most of my life.

Throughout this journey I’ve come to realize that I have C-PTSD, and how that has impacted my physical health, as well as my emotional and spiritual health. Together with my husband, I’ve walked through anger, intense hurt, grief, feelings of perplexity and confusion, anxiety, and at least one bout of severe depression. But through it all, I’ve also experienced healing and growth. I’ve learned how to silence the mean voices in my head, ignore the lies and replace them with truth, reject the labels that have been placed on me throughout my life and shed the identities and expectations others have tried to force on me.

Last fall, my husband and I were given an opportunity to move to the Ozarks of Arkansas, a place we’d talked about off an on over the years in a “wouldn’t it be nice to live there some day” kind of way. It seemed like it was being orchestrated by God, and it still appears that way. We’re renting a home on a large acreage in the middle of the woods on top of a small mountain near a lake, miles and miles from civilization. Our house has woods on one side and large expanses of fields and grass on the other three, with a vast view of the sky where we often see eagles circling overhead. Whenever I step outside, I take a deep, cleansing breath and think of all the times King David praised God in the Psalms saying, “You’ve brought me to an expanded place.”

I believe God brought us here to give us the room we needed in order to heal, to rest, to grow into who He meant for us both to be, free from the forces and influences that have always hindered us and held us back and kept us (or at least me – I don’t speak for my husband) in an unhealthy place of striving to be pleasing and acceptable to people instead of to Him.

As I write this, I’m in a much better place. Lately I’ve been feeling calm and settled in a way I can’t remember ever feeling before. I’m crying far less often and laughing and smiling much more easily. I’m having an easier time knowing my own mind and making decisions and speaking up about what I prefer instead of staying quiet and going along to get along. I’ve reached clarity about some decisions I’ve been going back and forth on for years, unsure of what I actually wanted and afraid I wasn’t allowed to want it, finally confronting that fear and naming my desire. And with that clarity has come a deep sense of peace, even as I acknowledge that my decision might not have the outcomes I hope for and could very possibly lead to a lot of pain.

But I feel assured that, even if that turns out to be the case, God will be with us, walking us through it and holding us together, not letting us break but making us both stronger and using it all for our good.

Part of this newfound sense of peace and wholeness – really, all of it, probably – is due to coming to a single, important decision: do I believe in God’s goodness or not? I realized that I haven’t always, but decided that, ultimately, I do. And that if He is truly good, with no darkness in Him at all, then He is completely trustworthy, even when whatever I’m going through is the opposite of good. That He is good, and powerful, and faithful, and no matter what happens I can absolutely trust him to turn it around and purpose it for good. Even when it hurts like hell. Even when my heart is breaking.

The other thing is that I’ve learned –am learning, really, but getting better at it – that I don’t have to hustle and strive to achieve the life that I want for myself and my family. I’m always having to learn this lesson, and I’ve said no to hustle before, but it’s always so easy to get swept up in my goals and trying to accomplish my own plans and lose sight of what I really want, which is a life that’s free of hustling and striving in which I can simply work steadily at my own pace doing work that fulfills me and uses my giftings to accomplish His purpose.

I mean, just last month I was complaining about feeling overwhelmed because I forgot that I’m in a marathon and was running like I’m in a race.

But I was gently reminded that it’s okay to slow down. I don’t need to hustle. The Lord is my provider, and I have everything I need. He’s not going to let me miss out on any good thing He has for me.

And I’m also discovering that the more time and effort I put into seeking Him, the more I’m finding myself and the life He has for me.

I don’t know how long we’re going to be calling this place home. I don’t know what our future holds. And for the first time ever, I’m okay with that uncertainty, because I know and trust the One who holds our future. I’m living out this simple, quiet life one day at a time, seeking my assignment for each day, offering my work to Him, releasing my hopes and plans and leaving the outcomes up to Him as He orders both our steps. I’m more fully present in the here and now than I’ve ever been before, enjoying this season of life while anticipating with joy and hope where He’s going to lead us and for once being at total peace with having no clue where that will be.

But wherever He leads us, I know it will be beautiful.

“You direct me on the path that leads to a beautiful life. As I walk with You, the pleasures are never-ending, and I know true joy and contentment.” – Psalm 16:11, VOICE

How a Rock Helped My Depression

I have a history of depression.

There, I said it.

Admitting this hasn’t always been easy for me. In fact, for a long time I was in flat-out denial. I wasn’t depressed, I was just tired, or stressed, or just dealing with a lot. Or it was hormones, or Seasonal Affective Disorder. Or all of the above. But I was never the D-word. How could I be? I had Jesus. You can’t have Jesus and still be depressed.

Except that you actually can. And — hear me now — it doesn’t make you a bad Christian.

I didn’t finally acknowledge my depression until after my two miscarriages and the unexpected loss of both of my in-laws happened in fairly rapid succession. It wasn’t until then that I finally acknowledged I was dealing with something more than just grief and exhaustion. I was ready to call the sense of joyless numbness and hopelessness I’d been carrying around for months what it was. I admitted that I was depressed, and that I needed to deal with it. And that’s when I started to heal.

That’s also when I learned that you can’t confront something that you’re not willing to acknowledge, and you can’t claim victory over something you’re not willing to name.

Since then, God’s brought me a long way in my battle against depression. So far that I can stand up and proclaim myself healed. But that doesn’t mean it still doesn’t try to creep up on me from time to time, and that it’s not a real battle when it does.

But before I can do battle, I have to acknowledge the true nature of my enemy.

Recently, it started creeping back in, and instead of naming and confronting it, I denied it and hoped it would go away, even though I knew better. On top of feeling depressed, I also felt guilty. God has answered prayer for us this year in a big and positive way! We’re right where I spent years praying to be! How could I be depressed? How could I be anything other than full of joy and gratitude?

But it went on long enough that I knew I had to look it in the face. Just to be sure, one night a couple of weeks ago I took an online assessment, expecting it to say that I was mildly depressed. Instead it said that I was showing signs of moderate to severe depression. I knew I needed to deal with it before it got worse–because that’s all it ever does if you try to ignore it.

I started praying about it immediately. I confessed my depression, and all of my negative thoughts and fears, and the things I was feeling hopeless about. And I confessed my guilt over feeling depressed when He’s been so good to me this year.

That’s when He helped me realize what was already plain to Him: that we are complicated creations with complex brains and emotions, and we are perfectly capable of being sad and depressed about some things while still being grateful about something else. I went to sleep that night, feeling a little more at peace.

The next morning I was still struggling, though. Now, I’ve learned that God is the best therapist out there. Not only does He listen, but He can change my thinking. He can even change my circumstances, but if He doesn’t, He can still change my outlook on my circumstances.

So I got out my journal, and I wrote down everything in my life that I felt was contributing to my depression. And I prayed and gave each of them to God. And as I did, I looked deeper. The things I’d written down were circumstantial, but they all spoke to a deeper longing that was still unmet in my life, one that I’d started to believe would never be met.

By now I felt like I needed to go walk so I could really pour my heart out to God. So I walked, and I prayed, and I confessed and asked questions, and when I was done walking I went up to the bluff and just sat there, looking out at the lake and the hills beyond, and I just let God love on me for a little while. And I realized then that I had been looking in the wrong place to fulfill that deeper longing. That it already had its perfect fulfillment in Him.

I also realized that I’d been carrying burdens and responsibilities that didn’t belong to me. So I repented for trying to do God’s job, and admitted that I was far, far too weak to carry these things, and that I needed Him to take them from me.

And as I prayed and cast my cares on Him, I picked up a rock that lay at my feet and threw it off the cliff as hard and as far as I could.

Y’all, I know how hokey that sounds. But that tangible feeling of casting something heavy far away from me made it feel more real, and when I was done I felt so much lighter and full of peace.

It took a few more days of staying in prayer and in the Word, closely guarding my heart and mind and refusing to pick any of those weights back up off of His altar, but I’m doing better. My hope and my joy have been restored, and I’m enjoying life again.

I’m not saying that this is a simple thing. It’s certainly not as simple as picking up a rock and throwing it off a cliff. I know that sometimes depression keeps you from even being able to pray, let alone hike up to a cliff to start tossing rocks around. But God does care for you and you can claim victory over and healing from depression. I’m not saying it won’t be a battle, and that it won’t involve a lot of steps. But the first step is to acknowledge it and call it what it is. The second is to call on Him for help. And He will help you. Even if all you have the strength to do at first is to whisper his name. 

4 Things to Remember When You’re Too Weak to Pray


Lying in bed, I stared at the ceiling in the dark, too tired to sleep.

Have you ever been there?

You’re so worn out that you can’t wait to go to bed, sure that you’ll pass out as soon as your head hits the pillow. But instead of slipping into blissful unconsciousness, your mind decides to start running a marathon, going over (and over and over) every worry, every hardship, every doubt, every item on your never-ending to do list.

It was 2013 and our web design business had gone belly-up. Business had simply stopped coming in, with people deciding they’d rather save money and buy a pre-made template than shell out for a custom website. To make matters worse, the web design agency I contracted with decided to switch to a content management system I was unfamiliar with, and decided to let me go rather than train me in how to code for it.

We’d never been wildly successful to begin with. Although we made ends meet, we didn’t have a safety cushion, and my husband’s income wasn’t enough to cover the bills and living expenses on its own. Desperate, I began looking for a full-time job outside of the home, but interview after interview resulted in disappointment and closed doors. Our ship was sinking fast, and we didn’t have a life preserver.

By this point, my husband and I were no strangers to hardship. We’d already had a string of bad years that included me getting laid off from a good job with good benefits, two miscarriages, the passing of both of my inlaws and of two pets, and there had been very little time to recover in between all of those battles.

So when I say I was tired, I don’t mean that I was worn out from a hard day. I was feeling beaten down and defeated from what had come to feel like a hard life. I was weary in my soul, not wanting to face another day, fearful of what new hardship it would hold. I knew I should pray, but I couldn’t. God felt so distant, and I just didn’t have the energy. Even if I did, I didn’t know where to begin.

It’s a hard, miserable place to be. Maybe you’re there right now.

If you are, I want you to know that God is still with you. He hasn’t forsaken you, no matter how distant He may feel.

I also want you to remember these four things:

  1. God is praying for you. Scripture tells us that Jesus Himself intercedes for us at the right hand of God the Father (Romans 8:34). It alsy says that when we don’t know how to pray, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26). You don’t need to have the right words. You don’t need to know where to begin. You only need to call out to Him, and your Savior and the Holy Spirit will meet you where you are and take care of the rest.
  2. If you look for Him, He’ll be there. Jeremiah 29:13 promises, “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” Sometimes, all that’s required to seek Him is to simply be still and know that He is God. Just sit quietly, breathe out His name, and let that be your prayer.
  3. He wants to hear what’s on your mind. Of course He already knows, but that’s not the point. Phillipians 4:6-7 tells us to bring everything to God in prayer, with thanksgiving, and promises that if we do, we’ll experience His ultimate peace.Don’t be afraid to pour out your heart to God–all of your pain, hurt and heartache, all your frustration and anger, all of your worry, fear and doubt–all of the dark and ugly, even the stuff directed at Him. Believe me, He can take it. And as you pour out all of that heart-junk, He’ll be able to fill up your empty places with His peace that is beyond human understanding.
  4. Thanksgiving makes you stronger. I know you’re probably not feeling a lot of gratitude at times like these, but God commanded us to always give thanks for a reason. Part of that reason is that there is always something to be thankful for, even if you have to dig deep or go back to basics to find it–even if the only thing you can think of to give thanks for is that you’re still conscious and breathing. The main reason, though, is that focusing on what we have to be thankful for, instead of dwelling on what we lack or what we wish were different, cultivates a sense of contentment that produces joy. And God’s word tells us that this kind of joy — the joy of the Lord — is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

Give yourself grace, lift up your eyes and call out to the Lord, pour out your heart to Him, and focus on what’s good in your life, no matter how small. This is the recipe for spiritual strength–and there’s one more thing I want you to remember, sweet sister. YOU don’t have to be strong. HIS strength is made manifest in your weakness. God’s love for you isn’t based on your ability. His grace meets you where you are and makes up for all of your human weaknesses, frailties and failings. God loves you, period.

If you’re stuck in a place where you’re feeling too week and worn down to pray for yourself, let me know in the comments (anonymously if you want), and I’ll pray for you today.

In His love,




PS – This week I’m linking up with Holley Gerth’s Coffee for Your Heart and Faith Filled Friday at

Turning the Train Around

Original image by  Mislav Marohnić via Flickr Commons. Modified by me.

Original image by Mislav Marohnić via Flickr Commons. Modified by me.

I did not want to get out of bed this morning.

I had woken up around 4:30, and by now it was past 6 AM and for one thing, I was still clinging to a sliver of hope that I might be able to get a little more sleep.

My mind kept racing as I lay there, trying to get back to sleep. Some of the thoughts were serious, some frivolous. My brain kept bouncing around between meditating on scripture, thinking about my stuck-in-the-outline-stage novel, and composing Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan fiction (it’s been at least 10 years since the last time I actually wrote fan fiction, but my brain refuses to give up the habit). Finally, after my husband got up to take care of the dog and eat his breakfast, I decided to quiet my mind by saying my morning prayers.

But when I finished, instead of feeling ready to get up and start the day, as I contemplated doing so, mentally going over today’s To Do list, a deep tiredness began to creep over me. I don’t mean sleepiness–that might have actually been useful in the moment–but a sense of weariness and overwhelm, and suddenly instead of fanfic my mind was seized with a barrage of negative thoughts.

It’s getting to be that time of month, when my hormones flare up and make it exceedingly difficult to maintain a sense of objectivity about my life. Suddenly all I could focus on were all the ways my life is less than perfect, all my flaws and failings, all the things I want to accomplish but can’t because there’s just not enough time. I was also thinking about one particular chore on my To Do list, a phone call I needed to make that was making me feel intimidated and filling me with worry.

The old me would have not just allowed that train of thought to continue, but would have packed her emotional bags and climbed on board to ride it all the way to depression-town, where I would have spent the next several days feeling miserable and making my husband miserable, to boot.

But now I know better. Now I know what to do.

The first thing I did, still lying in bed, was to offer up an honest prayer to God, telling him how I was feeling and all of the things that were weighing on me. I acknowledged that He’s bigger than my problems and also stronger than PMS hormones, and asked Him to give me the strength I needed to get out of bed and start my day.

The next thing, as I stood in the kitchen waiting for my coffee to brew, was to give thanks for all the good stuff in my life (which is actually a pretty long list), and to sing hymns of praise.

After breakfast, I went for a long walk (exercise is also an effective way to get some happy, mood-altering endorphins flowing, not to mention that Vitamin D seems to do wonders for my mood and energy levels) and used that time to intercede for other people.

By the time I got back home I had prayed for several people who I know are facing some monumental challenges right now, and I had completely forgotten about feeling sorry for myself in the process. I found myself able to rejoice in a new day and the opportunities it holds, and to tackle that phone call with a sense of peace instead of dread.

Of course, PMS isn’t usually a one-day event, so I need people to pray for! So tell me how I can pray for you this week (you can e-mail me if you don’t want to leave a public comment)?

Relevant to the “old me” vs. the “new me” and my new-found ability to stop the negative thought train in its tracks, I encourage you to check out today’s excellent devotional at Proverbs 31 Ministries — especially if you feel hurt or haunted by the past.

I have a question before I sign off. On my old blog, I had been doing a weekly update at the start of each week going over my bullet journal and my goals for the week. I stopped a couple of months ago when I became too overwhelmed with freelancing projects. Is this something you’d like to see me start again? If so, leave a comment and let me know!



5 Ways to Bust Seasonal Depression

5 ways to bust seasonal depressionThis is another re-post from my homemaking blog, A Sensible Wife, which is now on permanent hiatus. This was one of my more popular posts there, and now that the holidays are done and we’re deep in the throes of winter, it seems an appropos time to update it here–although, somewhat ironically, today is the first sunny day we’ve had in weeks. Also one of the coldest, though, so I probably won’t be stepping out to soak up the rays.

Confession: as I write this intro, the weather outside is sunny and 55 degrees, and I’m about as chipper as it gets. When I started this post, though, we were in the midst of some seriously cold and dreary weather, and my seasonal depression was working hard to make a comeback.

 Normally, January is my worst month of the year (August is a close second, but for different reasons). There are no more holidays to distract me, and everything is dark and cold, and all I want to do is alternate between sleeping and stuffing my face with comfort food all day long. It’s usually really hard to drag myself out of bed in the morning, and nearly impossible to focus and actually be useful and productive. I think it’s safe to say that I tend to get a bad case of Seasonal Affective Disorder around this time of year.

This year, I’m pulling out all the stops to combat it (of course, the spring-like weather we’ve been having the last couple of days sure don’t hurt).  Here is a list of the things that have worked for me over the years, keeping in mind that I’m neither a doctor nor any kind of health expert. There isn’t really anything ground-breaking here, but if this post helps just one person pull themselves through the rest of winter, then it’s worth writing.

Get Some Light

Of course there’s no real substitute for the real thing, so whenever possible, spend some time outside in the sunshine, or spend 30 minutes sitting by a sunny window. For days when that’s not possible, you can use a therapeutic lamp with a 10,000 Lux setting to mimic daylight. The NatureBright SunTouch Plus Light and Ion Therapy Lamp fits the bill, and also releases negative ions, which studies have shown to have an antidepressant effect. If you don’t have the funds to spend on a fancy lamp, a friend of mine has had good results from simply swapping out his light bulbs with full-spectrum and daylight bulbs.

 Eat Healthy

If you’re like me, when you’re in the throes of SAD, you want ALL THE CARBS served up with a big side of fat. But as comforting as that big bowl of mac’ and cheese might be in the moment, it’s not really helping you feel better. A healthy diet of lean proteins, low-glycemic fruits and veggies and a reasonable amount of healthy fats (like olive oil, avocados and nuts) will do a lot more to boost your mood and energy levels — not to mention your overall health.

 Take Your Vitamins

Of course it’s important to get all of your vitamins and nutrients year-round, but in the winter it’s especially important to help keep up your energy. Taking extra vitamin D to make up for what you’re not getting from the sun has been shown to be helpful in alleviating seasonal depression. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, particularly EPA and DHA, have also been proven to help achieve emotional balance, according to Although you might need to take supplements to get high enough doses of both vitamin D and fish oil, you can also get both by eating tuna — which gives you a great excuse to have tuna melts for lunch (mmm, carbs and melty cheese). I recommend high-grade, purified fish oil if you take supplements; it can be a bit pricy, but at least you won’t have to worry about mercury poisoning. You can check the purity and safety of different fish oil brands at the International Fish Oil Standards Program.

 Get Enough Sleep

While some doctors and therapists will tell you that you should force your circadian rhythms into submission by forcing yourself to stick to a rigid sleep/wake cycle, that just has never worked for me. Over the years I’ve found that things go a lot better if I listen to my body when it cries out for sleep. So get to bed early when you can, but go ahead and sleep in once in a while if you need to, or make time for an afternoon nap. If you need help (I have a hard time getting my brain to hush up long enough to let me fall asleep no matter how tired I am), try drinking some Sleepytime tea or taking a supplement like Valerian or melatonin about an hour before bedtime.

 Get Moving

Exercise is always helpful in fighting off mild depression. Any chance you have to do it outside on a sunny day, so much the better (although if you’re like me, any kind of workout in freezing cold temperatures gets a big NOPE!). Besides being a great mood lifter by getting all those endorphins kicking around, regular exercise has also been shown to improve focus and aid in sleep (as long as it’s not done too late in the day) — both of which tend to be problems related to SAD.

 Of course, this is always the hardest part for me (well, that and the eating healthy part). As much as I KNOW exercise will help me feel better, some days it just feels impossible to put down the cocoa,  get myself off of the couch and out from under my big pile of afghans and pets and make myself move.  But on the days when I manage to do that, I’m always glad I did, because it really does help me feel better.

Do you struggle with seasonal depression, or just plain old winter blahs? How do you deal? Share your SAD-busting secrets in the comments!