Friday, September 23, 2016

An instant pick-me-up with Think Happy!!

When I picked up Think Happy: instant peptalks to boost positivity by Karen Salmansohn, I felt happier just looking at the cover! The cover of this book is bright and colorful. It reminds me of rays of sunlight mixed with the colors of a rainbow. Every page of this book is filled with bold colors. There are several sections to the book that give peptalks of positive things to say. Some examples are "5 positive things to say when trying something new," "5 things to say when dealing with major challenges," and "5 things to say when dealing with toxic people". After reading one of my favorites in the toxic people chapter, I posted the quote on Facebook and my friends LOVED it! (I'll let you check out the book to discover what you think my favorite quote in that chapter was.) Not only does each chapter have a quote, but it has some tips that are based on that quote. This book can be used for personal use as well as professional use as a counselor. I know it helped me personally to read some of these affirmations, but I also know that some of these affirmations could also help people that I talk to that are dealing with crisis, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and many other issues in their lives. I am quite intrigued by this book and I'm interested in checking out some more of Karen Salmansohn's work. I have even followed her page on Facebook. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is trying to increase the positivity in their life or someone else's life!

I received this book for free as a part of the Blogging for Books program with Penguin Random House and Crown Publishing Group. My opinions are my own and I was not required to post a positive review.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Review: Heart Made Whole by Christa Black Gifford

I have not experienced a lot of trauma in my life. Compared to most people, I've had it pretty easy. So when I picked up the book Heart Made Whole: Turning Your Unhealed Pain Into Your Greatest Strength by Christa Black Gifford, I was looking at it more for clients I may encounter in the future. Little did I know how much this book would touch my life and how much insight I would gain from Christa's words.

Christa Black Gifford has been through a lot of trauma in her life. She suffered sexual abuse as a child, rape as a young adult, addiction, an eating disorder, and the loss of her infant daughter. Through it all, Christa has had to heal from these hurts. In this book, Gifford tackles these issues head on, exploring how she opened up her heart and let God in so her heart could be healed. Gifford explains what she went through and applies it to scripture. She shares her journey so that others can experience the healing of their hearts that comes through Christ.

Christa shares that trauma of the heart is not just the major trauma like abuse and death. Trauma can also be rejection, bullying, disease, and so many other things that can put scars on our hearts. Gifford's book encouraged me to open my heart to God, let him see my wounds, and let him heal these wounds. I especially liked the Open-Heart Surgery questions at the end of each chapter. They allowed me to delve more deeply into what was discussed and encouraged me to see what my heart was feeling and deepen my relationship with Christ. I recommend this book to anyone because we have all suffered some pain to our hearts and so much of it is still unhealed.

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

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.