Monday, July 18, 2016

Review of Grace by Max Lucado

Max Lucado's Grace: More Than We Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine, is a book for Christians who seek to further understand what it means to experience God's grace in their lives as well as for non-Christians who do not yet understand how God has blessed us and saved us.
I have read quite a few of Max Lucado's books, but this one is by far my favorite. In his best-selling style, Lucado provides many examples of God's grace. He talks about how grace was shown in the Bible, in many examples of Old and New Testament scripture. He illustrates how these examples can apply to our own lives and how they have applied to the lives of people he knows or people in history. All of these examples serve to further illustrate something that is often hard for us to understand. Even though we are fallible, sinful, human beings, God has given us His Grace. He loves us so much, that He DIED for us. That is the grace he bestows upon each and every one of us. So if you are ever thinking that God does not show His grace in your life, read this book and remember - God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son!


I receive these books free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, July 11, 2016

Review of Six Hours One Friday by Max Lucado

This post was originally posted on 01/31/13.

In Six Hours One Friday, Max Lucado explores Jesus' death and resurrection in a new way. Lucado retells some of the Bible stories we have heard over and over again with a new point of view. Jesus' death from the centurion's point of view, from the thief that hung on the cross next to him, from Mary Magdalene's point of view. Lucado's beautiful storytelling helps to illustrate how much Jesus' death meant and still means to us. Lucado also tells some other Bible stories such as Zaccheus, the adulteress that was almost stoned, and the Samaritan woman at the well. These are all people that were touched by Jesus' life. Lucado makes three key points, stating that Jesus' death and resurrection is our anchor in these three ways. Our lives are not futile. Our failures aren't fatal. Our deaths are not final. We live for Jesus, so our lives are not futile. They are not for nothing. Our failures aren't fatal. God will forgive us. Our deaths are not final. Jesus died for us so death does not have to be the end. This book really brings home why Jesus died for us and what it achieved. Though it is not my favorite Lucado book, it was a good read.

I receive these books free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, July 9, 2016

What It's Like to be a Highly Sensitive Person with Depression

When I first identified some characteristics about myself that made me more sensitive to other's emotions, one of my friends told me I was an empath. What is an empath? Google identifies an empath as "a person with the paranormal ability to apprehend the mental or emotional state of another individual." I'm "paranormal"? I don't think of myself this way. Maybe I'm more of a "highly sensitive" person. This article from the Huffington Post identifies the characteristics of a highly sensitive person and sounds just like me.

These characteristics, in my mind, are what make me a great fit for the counseling profession. Many of the counselors and counseling students that I have met throughout my schooling have some of these characteristics as well. But how does I deal with feelings more deeply, being more emotionally reactive, and picking up emotional "vibes" from others when also trying to fight back the monster of depression? How do I separate my feelings from the feelings of others? How do I determine if it's my depression that is laying a weight on my soul or the depression of others?

For me, it has been about getting to know myself better. I have to do a lot of looking into myself, reflecting, meditating, and realizing what is coming from me and what is coming from someone else. This means that at times I have to separate myself from others. The support from my husband and his realization about my sensitivity helps as well. The recent events surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement and the shooting of police officers in Dallas has the internet reeling with negativity, anxiety, and tension. As a highly sensitive person, I found myself wrapped up in these feelings very quickly. I was pulled into arguments and discussions with people that really should not have mattered to me, people that are not a part of my life, that I would not be associating with at all if it weren't for Facebook. I started to talk to my husband about this negativity. His immediate reaction?
"You need to get off of Facebook."
So I did. But not for long. As a highly sensitive person, it's also hard for me to stay away. Not only do I feel more deeply, I sense others' pain and I want to do something about it. In these past few days, however, I have come to a realization. As a highly sensitive person, I need to remember that I am the most important person in my life. I need to focus on me and what makes me healthy first. I can't make anyone feel anything that they don't want to feel. If I let myself get wrapped up in the negativity and anxiety, that can turn into a depression trigger.

If you're like me and you get wrapped up in others' emotions, remember that it's ok to take a break. Take care of yourself. You deserve it.

Friday, July 8, 2016

A Review of "Unglued Devotional" by Lysa Terkeurst

This is a blog post I have moved over from my former blog from several years ago. This was originally posted on 02/17/13.

"Unglued Devotional" is a companion devotional to the book "Unglued" by Lysa Terkeurst. Maybe I would have liked this devotional better if I had read the book that it is companion to. I started reading this and my immediate thought was, "What is the point?" Where was the continuity within in it? It seemed to just jump from place to place and it didn't really seem that there was a clear topic for each day's devotional. Apparently, it's supposed to be about emotions and when you come unglued. Maybe that is why it didn't really "speak" to me. I don't often come unglued, at least anger wise or where I may hurt other people. Sometimes I get sad, but I would never think of myself as exploding. My recommendation is that if you do want to pick up this devotional, that you also read the companion book. Maybe this would have made more sense to me if I had read its companion book. I am starting to learn that I don't really like devotionals. When I read a book I like to be able to read as much as I want at once instead of just a few pages a day.

I receive these books free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, July 1, 2016

Hope in Times of Despair

As a person who experiences occasional bouts of depression, I can sometimes struggle with the day-to-day. Sometimes, even just the bickering between my children, the messes they make, or the physical pains that I am going through can be too much for me. I just want to give up, crawl into bed, and sleep. But I know that my children depend on me so I must press on.

How do I find that strength to press on? I've tried so many things. I've tried talking to my friends, but the only friends I seem to have are on Facebook and this just tends to isolate me even more. I try to get out of the house and do something without my kids, but that's not always easy to do. My husband works so hard at his job that when he comes home he just wants to sleep. He doesn't want to go out. Finding a sitter is not always easy either.

Besides, these are just temporary fixes. What works for me every time? Turning to God.

In his book Transform Your Thinking, Transform Your Life, Dr. Bill Winston reminds us that our thinking will be transformed when we continually read the Word and fill our minds with God's Word. So when I am feeling down, I remember to do this. I read the Bible. I read books like Dr. Winston's book. I attend church services to fill my mind with God's Word. And I am comforted.

A friend of mine recently gave me the book God's Promises for Graduates as I was struggling through some tough times. I'd like to share a few of the verses with you that have brought me comfort lately.

I have a decoration in my home that includes the beginning part of this verse, so I always try to have it in my mind.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

"Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken." Psalms 55:22

There are by far more where those come from, but I find that when I couple these verses with positive thinking, exercise, and a good night's sleep, I feel much better and I am able to move forward. Depression does try to press on sometimes, but the more I am in the Word, the more I am able to get through it.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

VIP Very Influential Person: How to Influence with Vision, Integrity, and Purpose (A Review)

I received this book for free from the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for my honest review.

VIP. When we read that abbreviation, we all think the same thing "Very Important Person". In a world where success is often determined by how "important" you are, how much money you make, and how many people know your name, the book VIP Very Influential Person: How to Influence with Vision, Integrity, and Purpose by O.S. Hawkins gives an entirely different perspective on the meaning of VIP. For Hawkins, VIP stands for Very Influential Person, and in this book he outlines how to be a person of influence. Becoming a person of influence means having a Vision. This means knowing what you want to accomplish. This can be a "mission statement" for your life or for your company if you are a business owner. Next, Integrity is an important part of being an influential person. People need to know that you are who you say you are and you're going to do what you say you're going to do. Finally, Purpose is a vital part of being a VIP. What does purpose mean? It means that you look to God to find the reason that you are here and that everything you do aims towards that purpose in your life.

Though it was a "dry" read for me at times, I think that was because I have heard messages like this before and they have been spoken. To me, a spoken word is so much more powerful. I'd love to have the chance to listen to O.S. Hawkins deliver these words in person.

Thinking on this book is part of what made me decide to change things up on my blog a bit. I want to write about mental health because that is my purpose. I want to share your stories and be of support to the bigger community. So, if you want to be a part of this, send me a message with your story!


Monday, May 2, 2016

How to Live In Fear: Mastering the Art of Freaking Out (Review)

I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson Publishers and the BookLook Bloggers Programin exchange for my honest review.

The title of this book piqued my interest. As a new counseling professional, I am interested in reading books about mental health. When I read on and discovered that this book was about a pastor's struggle with a severe anxiety disorder, I knew I had to check it out. Pastor Lance Hahn has struggled with a severe anxiety disorder since childhood. Through this book, he talks about his struggle, what it means to be a Christian with an anxiety disorder, practical steps to help cope with anxiety through practical solutions such as medication, exercise, thought restructuring, and even maintaining a health diet to exploring scripture and what it says about worry. It's a misconception that people who struggle with mental health issues aren't strong in their faith, but Lance Hahn proves this wrong as he speaks about his struggle and how his faith has been made stronger throughout this struggle. Hahn makes sure to stress that he is not a mental health professional and anyone who is struggling should seek professional help while working through the practical solutions that he has found to be helpful as someone struggling with these issues. I highly recommend this book and I will keep it on my shelf to share with clients that may be struggling with these questions as well.