“When “The Blues” Become Depression” -Depression check-list

Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”

“There a light at the end of the tunnel of depression”

We all have felt the blues from time to time when we feel blah or now the new term that’s used is, “meh.”  However, there is a big difference between feeling blue and suffering from depression.

Feeling blue may last for a week or two.  A blue feeling doesn’t interfere with our daily lives and leave us feeling as if we can’t function simple tasks or leave us feeling like we want to isolate away from our family and friends.

Depression can be very debilitating and may require medication in addition to psycho-therapy.

The blues will lift after a little while……….but depression……….depression defers hope, depression comes with a negative voice that wants to tell the person suffering that their desires will not be fulfilled and that their tree of life is void of any life sustaining fruit.

…….Depression is a liar……..

If you are concerned about a friend or family member I’ve provided some warning signs to look for regarding telling the blues from depression.

Signs of Depression

Loss of interest in activities that you once enjoyed

Irritability and frustration

Difficulty concentration or making decisions

Isolating from family and friends

Excessive sleeping or trouble sleeping

Inability to control emotions

Uncontrollable crying

Feeling hopeless

Symptoms of anxiety

These are a few symptoms that may be present for you or a loved one regarding depression.  Take depression seriously!  It is an illness that requires treatment.  If you think you or a loved one is suffering from depression:

-Gently share your concerns with your loved one.  Along with depression comes feelings of guilt and shame so be gentle and loving.

-Offer to help them find a qualified therapist who can assess and diagnose clinical depression.

-Be supportive and remember that depression is an illness.  It is not a condition that should be ignored.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel of depression”

His Daughter,

Melanie

No Condemnation: In Hope We Are Saved!

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Scripture For Study Reflection: Romans 8:17-39 We have read it many times as believers in Romans 8:1 “There is no condemnation for those who are Christ Jesus”  but do we live it as we truly believe it?

Does the condemnation scripture resonate with us in ALL circumstances or only when we think we are, “doing good?” When we are stumbling do we live as slaves to our sin?

Romans 8:15 says “The spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.  And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” What a relief to have this knowledge!  You and I are his child and we can cry out Abba (Daddy) please help me in my weakness! In hope we are saved!

Romans 8:26 says, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. We can never be separated from the love of God! (Romans 35, 36, 37).

Prayer for today:  Abba Father, I know you love me and I no longer live under condemnation because of your Son Jesus.  No matter where my life journey has taken me I am no longer a slave to my past.  In hope I have been saved!  My future is hopeful and full of promise because you my Father have called me to be your very own!  Amen!

Before You Plan The Wedding: 8 pre-marital essentials for long-term marriage

~Marriage Is A Partnership That Requires~

 Negotiation
Compromise
Selflessness

~Statistics Do Not Lie
According to the American Psychological Association 40-50% of married couples in the US divorce.
The divorce rate for subsequent marriages is even higher.

8 Topics To Discuss With Your Partner

1. Finances/Budget:  According to studies, the top predictor of divorce is arguing about money early in relationships. As a marriage counselor, I witness this in my practice daily. Be sure to negotiate regarding joint accounts, separate accounts. How will you define needs vs. wants? As a couple, you both should have knowledge of all accounts and develop a budget ON PAPER together.

2.  Navigating In-Law Relationships:  It will be important to recognize that in-laws are a great gift to our marriages as a support network.  Sometimes good meaning in-laws want to offer advice from how to keep house to how you should raise your children.  Issues with in-laws can put a great strain on a marriage.  Be sure to set clear boundaries with in-laws regarding their role in your marriage.  Marriage is a dance and you will move together fluidly one day then step on each others feet the next.  Part of marriage is learning to navigate the dance floor as a couple.

3.  Religious Views:  What are your expectations regarding religion and practicing spirituality as a family?  Do you expect that your spouse will attend church with you?  How will the children be raised regarding religion?  If you don’t know your partners religious views be sure to have that discussion now!

4.  Readiness For Children:  The “”when to have a baby” discussion can lead to stress and anxiety in a marriage.  Be sure to talk with one another regarding having children.  When would be a good time?  How will we balance work, play and family?  Again, never make assumptions that you know what the other one may be thinking.

5.  Sexual Views: An issue that comes up in my marriage counseling work is pornography.  This can feel like a taboo issue but the reality is that social media is full of pornographic images and content.  Do you both share the same moral values regarding viewing or not viewing pornography?  Sometimes spouses are shocked to find out that their partner views pornography and feels, “what’s the big deal?”  It is a big deal if your spouse has different values.  Discuss this tough subject now to avoid issues later in the marriage and more importantly….in the bedroom

6.  Fighting Fair: Fighting is ok.  However, there are important rules in fighting.  First of all, keep it private and never fight in front of the kids.  Children should never be exposed to adult themes.  Do not assassinate your partners character with name calling.  Your goal is to be heard and not to harm.  Ask yourself am I, “I have to be right fighter?”  Am I only interested in being right?  It is important to teach each other what your needs are.  Most importantly, ask yourself, “What is my part in this fight?  Do I need to do something differently?  Take your own moral inventory….not your partners.

7.  Keeping House:  This is a big one.  So many couples fight over housework.  Who should do it or should we get a cleaning service.  How are you going to compromise and negotiate around this area?  Wives, be careful not to become your husband’s Mom keeping up after him to clean up.  This is a major intimacy killer.  Husbands, be sure to check-in to see how you can be helpful.  If your wife is a stay-at-home Mom be sure to support her and not belittle her efforts.  Staying at home with kids is a tough and dirty job that goes 24/7.

8.  Individuation:  What I mean by this is the importance of keeping your individuality after you are married.  Just because your married does not mean you cannot enjoy some of the things you did before you were married like play softball, having a girls shopping or dinner night.  It is very healthy to separate sometimes and have some space from one another.  Make sure you talk about this area.  This issues comes up repeatedly in my office.  I hear, “He’s never around, he’s out with his buddies.” or “She goes out with her girlfriends to the club and I don’t like that.”  Discuss expectations and also social deal breakers.  Remember you are married now and some of the social rules will need to change.

As a marriage therapist I highly recommend that every couple take a few weeks of pre-marital counseling to negotiate these areas.  I see many couples in my office before they hit their one year anniversary because they were so focused on flowers and wedding dresses that the most important areas got put on the back burner.  Don’t get me wrong, the celebration is important but have a balance and address the heart issues of marriage as well.

If you are getting married many blessings to you and your finance’.

His Daughter,

Melanie

Understanding Emotional Default Settings

The business dictionary defines a default setting as:
-controls of a computer hardware as pre-set by it’s manufacturer.
-some types of default settings may be altered or customized by the user.

I define emotional default settings as:
-emotional thought processes of the mind that become pre-set over time in reaction or response to our history of life experiences.
-For example:
If we experienced abuse of any kind in our childhood we may default to responding to life stressors with fear or anxiety or maybe anger.
Our default settings alter our belief system often resulting in…..
….distorted automatic thoughts….
These are negative thoughts that are….
…customized by the user….
which would be ourselves.
Distorted automatic thoughts tell us lies about ourselves and our circumstances.
With the help of a therapist you can learn to identify what these thoughts are and begin to re-set your emotional default settings.

The good news is that there….
….IS HOPE….

Philippians 4:8 states:
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. (‭Philippians‬ ‭4‬:‭8-9‬ MSG)

Default settings can be changed!
We do have a choice!

I had to learn to re-set my own emotional default settings. I grew up in a home where unpredictable emotions were displayed and unconditional love was not offered.
I saw the world in black and white.
My emotional default settings were:
-perfectionism
-anxiety
-fear
-unworthiness
I had no choice but to re-program or I would have succumbed to self-destruction. I sometimes want to default back to old ways of thinking…..
….but with God’s help I recognize when I am tempted to respond in fear to a life stressor and ask for God’s help.
I now walk in harmony with God and meditate on things true about myself,
…the best, not the worst about myself…..you can to.
It’s time to customize your emotional default settings. It will be worth it.

His Daughter,
Melanie

As You Grieve Be Gentle With Yourself

You may be thinking why would I need to be gentle with myself as I grieve through a loss?

I have had the privilege of walking along aside my clients through their grief journeys, whether they have experienced the sting of death or the paralyzing experience of divorce and estrangement from a loved one.

I hear them say things like, “I should be over this by now it’s been a year now,”  “All of this crying is ridiculous people are going through worse things than I am,” “Well, my neighbor lost her husband and she seems to be coping and is stronger than I am.”  The comments can go on and on.

…..As you grieve be gentle with yourself…..

Job is an example of how paralyzing and gripping the grief process can be.  In Job 16: 6-14 Job laments his grief to God by saying……

“When I speak up, I feel no better; if I say nothing, that doesn’t help either.  I feel worn down.  God, you have wasted me totally, me and my family!”

Job cried out to God and he gave a voice to his overwhelming grief at the loss of his family.  He did not deny his feelings or sugarcoat how he felt.  His feelings were raw and pure crying out to God.

How To Be Gentle As You Grieve:
-Recognize that a lifetime of loving someone leaves imprints on our hearts that forever change our souls. It will take time.
-We all grieve differently. Some of us find healing through our tears, some of us find healing through serving others or dedicating ourselves to a cause close to our hearts.
-We will feel a full range of emotions from sadness to anger to loneliness and more.
-We will often experience trigger moments that will bring bigger waves of grief such as holidays, birthdays or even sights, sounds and smells.
-Feeling angry with God is normal. Tell him how you feel…it’s ok, He can take it, He’s listening….go to Him.

Most importantly, remember that grief will come and go in waves. God will give you the strength to endure. Don’t go on your grief journey alone. Find a group or seek grief counseling so you can express your feelings.

His Daughter,
Melanie

 

 

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How God’s Hope Anchors The Soul In All Circumstances

In The Message version of the bible this is what Hebrews 6:18-20 says.

We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go.  It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us, in the order of Melchizedek.

When we trust God we have this hope as an anchor for our souls.

This anchor is unbreakable.

This anchor is trustworthy.

This anchor leads directly to God.

When the storms come and our soul suffers and we feel like we are being tossed by the wind and waves we can remember that

God is unchangeable.

God’s anchor is unbreakable.

God’s hope is sustainable.

We have all that we need to weather the storm.  Be encouraged!

God’s Daughter,

Melanie

Restored By Hope: when I feel shamed

“For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.” (John‬ ‭3‬:‭17‬ AMP)

Feeling shamed by a person or circumstance can leave us feeling at our lowest.

This can then leave us feeling separated from God.

God has NOT left us but our shame has put a veil of darkness over us telling us the lie that God is angry with us which is a lie.

This leads to us separating ourselves from God’s life giving light.

Come back into the light of His presence. John 8:12 says, “I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me will not be walking in the dark, but will have the Light which is Life.”

Maybe you made a poor choice or are in need of forgiveness today. This is no reason to live under the condemnation of shame.

Go to God and, “be made safe and sound in Him.” (John 3:17 AMP).

If your life pattern has been to condemn yourself for making mistakes or being imperfect, go to The light of the world.

He loves you and is waiting to lift the veil of your shame.

Meditation: Dear Father, lift my veil of shame. Forgive me for poor choices I’ve made this week and replace the shame with freedom in You. Thank you for setting me free and giving me Your love light to guide me. There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Soul Care: Practicing Solitude

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Who needs solitude? Everyone!

What is solitude? The definition of solitude is:

The state of being or living alone; seclusion: to enjoy one’s solitude.

Remoteness from habitations, as of a place; absence of human activity the solitude of the mountains.

A lonely unfrequented place: a solitude in the mountains.

Simple steps to solitude:

-We must be intentional in practicing solitude by finding a quiet space or place.
-Invite God into your space asking Him to be with you. Breathe in deeply 2 or 3 times letting each breath out slowly.
-Take in your surroundings by noticing your setting, the sights, the sounds.
-Meditate on a favorite scripture that reminds you of God’s peace and serenity. One of my favorite scripture to meditate on is:

“Be still, and know that I am God”
-Psalm 46:10

You can practice solitude anywhere. Enhance your solitude by listening to meditation music on your iPod.

Give yourself 10 minutes and see how it feels. We are too plugged in not to practice solitude.

Give yourself the gift of seclusion and shut out the world. Your emotional and spiritual health depend on it.

His Daughter,
Melanie

Restored By Hope: When the workplace feels overwhelming

At work we feel overwhelmed by many factors such as deadlines, workload and sometimes the varying moods and attitudes of co-workers.

Last night I came home with a pounding headache with feelings of irritability to go along with it. When I shut my office door the stressors came along for the commute home.

I needed relief and not just relief from taking some aspirin…..I needed spiritual renewal and refreshing. I knew that I needed to bathe in the light of God’s restoring presence.

3 Ways I Restored My Hope:

1. Turned to God’s promise through scripture by meditating on Psalm 27:4-6. I allowed key words to speak to my heart and I received them as food to my soul.

“One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek, inquire for, and [insistently] require: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord [in His presence] all the days of my life, to behold and gaze upon the beauty [the sweet attractiveness and the delightful loveliness] of the Lord and to meditate, consider, and inquire in His temple. [Ps. 16:11; 18:6; 65:4; Luke 2:37.] For in the day of trouble He will hide me in His shelter; in the secret place of His tent will He hide me; He will set me high upon a rock. And now shall my head be lifted up above my enemies round about me; in His tent I will offer sacrifices and shouting of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.” (Psalm‬ ‭27‬:‭4-6‬ AMP)

2. Prayer Journaled
I wrote a letter to my savior…Dear Jesus….I lamented about my day, gave him all of my stressors. He says, ” Come to me all that are weary and heavy-laden….and so I obeyed because I know He knows exactly what I need.

3. Worship and Praise
I turned off all electronics, TV, any stimulus that would distract me. I put on calming worship music and after I lamented I thanked God for the sweet release I found as I dwelled in His house, I dwelled in His tent, I imagined myself being kept safe in His shelter.

These 3 simple steps took me from chaotic to calm. Oh I know I will face more workplace stress but it’s my choice how….

…I choose to respond to it…..

-Will I ruminate or meditate?
-Will I complain or lament then let go?
-Will I be wound up or choose peace?

….The choice is ours, His mercies are new every morning and we have the absolute, unbelievable privilege of dwelling in the house of The Lord forever!

Prayer for today: Like King David, my hearts desire is to dwell in Your tent, in Your shelter. Remind me of this Lord when I feel overwhelmed by work pressures. I can’t avoid making a living but I can choose how I handle my stress. Amen.

His Daughter,
Melanie

Soul Care: How to be a Mary in a Martha World

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Is your soul weary? When you wake up in the morning do you immediately start to think about your to-do list for the day? I know that my eyes aren’t open for a minute before I want to reach for my phone to check messages, voicemail, email and whatever social media venue I’m connected with.

When I was a young mom I was being called by the morning pressures of the kids and their needs. As women, we can be easily pulled under by the under-toe of life’s to-do list.

One of the most influential teachings on soul care is found in Luke 10:38-42 at the home of Martha and Mary.

“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village
where a woman named Martha opened her home o him. She had a sister
called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.
But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be
made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my
sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about
many things, but few things are needed or indeed only one and Mary has
chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

If you need further convincing that putting your soul care fist is the most important item on your to-do list then listen to how Jesus responds to Martha. I amazes me how Jesus states Martha’s name twice when He is addressing her. “Martha, Martha” he knew that she was so distracted by all the preparations that He needed to repeat her name to get her attention.

Jesus is telling Martha to tend to her soul before busying herself in chaotic preparations.

Martha was what I call “soul weary.” She was excited to have Jesus at her home for dinner, but was missing out on the joy of his presence and soul nurturing teaching. Mary not only listened to Jesus’ teaching but sat at His feet, relaxed and settled to have her soul nourished.

Soul care is not complicated.

You can start today with taking 10 minutes from your day to meditate on a scripture or ask God to renew your soul. Some days, multiple times in my days I simply breathe in deeply and ask Jesus to renew my soul and I drink in the presence of his life-giving water.

For some, it’s in the morning but for other’s it’s afternoon or evening. Don’t complicate quiet times of refreshing by setting rigid rules of when to meet with Jesus, just meet with Him.

In the next blog, I will continue my series on soul care and explore how God sees us as His children. Soul care requires that we have a healthy image of how God views us. If we think of Him as a distant father or a task-master looking to punish us, we will likely hide from His presence and forfeit the gift of life-giving soul care with our Father.

His Daughter,

Melanie