Climb Out of that Hole

Don’t let the weight of this world get you down. When you are in a hole, look up and ask for the help you need to climb out. Don’t stay stuck and wallow in self pity. Unfortunately this life is hard and we all have our struggles. Keep fighting and be thankful for the good things no matter how small. True joy comes from an attitude of gratitude. #tistheseason #speaklife #gracefortoday

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Change

Change Requires Making Choices 

It’s not enough to want to change. It’s not enough to desire to change. It’s not even enough to say, “I have a dream of changing.” Dreams are worthless unless you wake up and actually act on them. You’re not going to change the defects in your life until you choose to change. 

How are you going to be different in six months? Are you going to be emotionally stronger? Are you going to be mentally sharper? Are you going to be physically healthier? Are you going to be spiritually deeper? 

It isn’t going to happen automatically. You aren’t just going to get healthier by accident in any category of your life. A lot of times we think we’re waiting on God to change us. You’re not waiting on God. God is waiting on you. 

There is no growth in your life without change. And there is no change without loss. You’ve got to let go of some old stuff. And there is no loss without pain. 

Some of you are stuck right now because you haven’t learned how to let go. That’s a choice. (Ephesians 4:22)


You might say that your defects are biological or sociological. Some of them are from your circumstances or your chromosomes. But it doesn’t really matter where they come from. You need to deal with it. Genetics explains your inclinations, but it doesn’t excuse your sin. 

Here’s the good news: Once you become a believer, you have a new power in you that is greater than those old tendencies. That power is the Holy Spirit. 

Does that mean you are supposed to be afraid of God? Of course not! Be afraid that you’ll miss God’s best and waste your life. Be afraid that you will go your entire life and never know God’s purpose. 

The secret to changing your life is not willpower. It’s God giving you the will and the power through the Holy Spirit to do what needs to be done. 

This devotional © 2014 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Hope in the Darkness

But the Lord was still faithful.

Habakkuk gives us three little words that we can cling to when it appears that God has not delivered on what he promised. No matter what you might be going through, never let go of these words.

If you want to be able to grow closer to God—no matter what—then these are the three words you need to remember on your journey toward intimacy and ultimate trust and faith in him:

But the Lord . . .”

You’ll find these words in Habakkuk 2:20, where the prophet, after acknowledging that he still doesn’t like what’s going on, says, “But the Lord is in his holy Temple. Let all the earth be silent before him” (NLT, emphasis mine).

The world may seem upside down, but the Lord is still there.

When you have nowhere else to turn, when your own ideas and resources have evaporated, when your control over a situation is in shambles, God is still there. When your knees ache from kneeling in prayer but you can’t tell if he’s even listening, God is still there.

No matter what happens in your life, the Lord is in his holy temple.

Sometimes, even when we remember all that God has done for us, it doesn’t change our circumstances. Sometimes we just have to accept that it’s beyond our understanding right now and just keep going. But we must also realize that acceptance is not denial.

When you accept what God is doing, you don’t simply stuff your feelings down and let your heart die, even as you’re practicing your smile in the mirror and memorizing Bible verses. When you accept that God’s up to something that you can’t see or understand right now, you don’t just roll over and play dead and resign yourself to despair. No, you keep praying for a miracle from him unless he tells you otherwise. But you don’t pretend that everything is okay when clearly it’s not.

Habakkuk certainly couldn’t pretend and keep his head in the sand. After he questioned God and the Lord responded by telling him that he was going to use the wicked Babylonians to destroy Israel, Habakkuk said, “I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled” (Habakkuk 3:16 NIV).

His response is visceral. You know that sinking sensation you get in your gut when something bad happens that’s beyond your control? That’s what Habakkuk was facing.

When Habakkuk accepted reality while waiting on God, it wasn’t denial. It was faith. Not faith that God would do what Habakkuk wanted God to do. But faith in God’s character. Habakkuk goes on to say, “The sovereign hand of God is doing something here. God has spoken, so I’ll accept whatever he is doing, as difficult as that may be for me.”

Sometime, something is going to happen that you don’t like. It may be happening right now.

You remember what God has done. You accept what God is doing. You trust what God is going to do.

Witch Hazel and Essential Oils

What is Witch Hazel?

You’ve probably seen witch hazel in the ingredients list of many health and beauty products.

Witch hazel is an astringent compound that is produced from the leaves and bark of the North American witch hazel shrub. Its scientific name is Hamamelis virginiana.

The Native Americans used witch hazel for a wide variety of purposes, most of them medicinal. Here are some of the amazing benefits of witch hazel:

  • Natural remedy for eczema and psoriasis
  • Facial toner
  • Disinfects minor wounds and cuts
  • Soothes hemorrhoids
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Used as an aftershave
  • Alleviates poison ivy rashes
  • Treats insect bites
  • And more!

How to Dilute Essential Oils for Witch Hazel

Witch hazel makes a great natural emulsifier for essential oils! Emulsifiers help mix up the essential oils seamlessly into its base ingredient or carrier oil to form an emulsion. There are many natural emulsifiers for essential oils and you can read about them here: Natural Emulsifiers for Essential Oils

To dilute essential oils, simply add 2 drops of essential oil (of your choice) to 1 tsp of witch hazel. This is a 2% essential oil dilution which is the recommended safe dilution for adults. For children use, 1 drop of essential oil in 1 tsp of witch hazel. For babies, use 1 drop of essential oil in 2 tsp of witch hazel.

Essential Oil Recipes with Witch Hazel

There are many amazing essential oil recipes with witch hazel you can try out! Some of the products you can make right at home using witch hazel + essential oils include:

  1. DIY facial toner  Witch Hazel + Essential Oils Facial Toner 
  2. DIY deodorant spray  DIY Hydrosol Deodorant Spray Recipe 
  3. Natural acne care  How to Use Witch Hazel and Essential Oils for Acne 
  4. DIY bug spray  DIY Essential Oil Bug Spray 
  5. DIY foot spray  DIY Essential Oil Foot Spray 
  6. DIY flea spray  DIY Essential Oil Flea Spray
  7. Yoga mat cleaner  Homemade Essential Oil Yoga Mat Cleaner
  8. DIY dog spray  DIY Essential Oil Dog Spray 
  9. Sun burn spray – DIY Essential Oil Sunburn Spray


18 Things You Only Know if You’re Bipolar

1. It’s hard to finish one thing at a time

On the way up, you start doing the washing up, then you think of a poem and get a quarter of the way through it, then you remember you wanted to alphabetise your books, then you start watching a film, then you do more of the (now cold) washing up.A

2. Sometimes the world turns black and white

When you’re depressed you stop enjoying things you used to, nothing seems worthwhile and all you want to do is sleep for a thousand years

3. It doesn’t mean you’re up and down all the time

Everyone’s different – you can have rapid cycling (where you quickly go from high to low), mixed state (when you have symptoms of depression and mania at the same time), or go gradually up and down with periods of ‘normality’ in between.

4. You may be mildly amused by people who take drugs recreationally

There’s something rather tame about pill-popping in a field of muddy campers on a Bank Holiday weekend when you’re walking around with what feels like a permanent pharmacy dispensing random chemicals in a Russian roulette style in your head.

5. Madness

Everyone experiences mania differently, whether it’s delusions such as thinking you have superpowers, suddenly getting it into your head to get on a train to Scotland instead of the train home, not sleeping because you have so much to write or paint, or suffering hallucinations.

Losing control of your mind is odd to say the least. Imagine losing control of your limbs – having them dance about or do things without your input.

6. Ignorance

The ignorance and discrimination surrounding mental illness is considerable. Although sometimes the person who discriminates the most against you is you.

7. You are probably a great listener

Somehow you have become the one friends turn to with their troubles. You don’t know whether this is because you’ve had counselling and therefore have picked up how to listen sympathetically, or because you are more guarded than others about yourself so others fill silences with chatter.

8. Pill podge

Oh great, so as well as being mad I have to be fat too, thanks for that, THANKS VERY MUCH.

9. The buzz

The buzz of hypomania isn’t fun – it’s more like having espresso in your veins. Admittedly you can get quite a lot done during these times though.

10. Some people apparently don’t believe mental illness exists

Such people will say things like the above, and things like ‘he was signed off work for stress – not a real illness like gastroenteritis’.

11. You can act

Your most celebrated role? ‘Normal person who is totally fine and there’s nothing wrong at all’.

12. You’re probably a perfectionist

You need to sleep but you told the office you’d bring in homemade cupcakes the next day so you’re still up at 1am rolling edible flowers in egg yolk and sugar.

13. How not to cry when you really want to cry

And where to bolt to when your usual methods fail you.

14. That sinking feeling when you see another ‘crazy’ stereotype on TV or film

People who have suffered from mental illness are far more likely to hurt themselves, or be the victims of attacks. Despite this, lazy scriptwriters still rely on tropes when they need a scary character. What I’ve learned from my mother’s bipolar disorder

15. Sometimes you’re a shopping liability

You’ve gone over your overdraft more times than you can remember buying things you don’t even want during a manic phase. During mania or hypomania your brain makes weird connections and all of a sudden it makes perfect sense to buy a set of golf clubs when you haven’t played a day in your life.

16. Alcohol is usually best avoided

Alcohol is a depressant. Adding this in to your natural brain chemistry and mood stabilisers isn’t fun the morning after. It can also spur a mood swing and interact badly with your meds. Many people with bipolar disorder use alcohol to self medicate and often become alcoholics.

17. Relationships can be hard

I once dumped the man I loved during a manic phase and we never recovered. Not everyone can face mental illness, but then relationships can be challenging for everyone, in all kinds of ways. A friend who is also bipolar has been married for years, which gives me hope

18. You are stronger than you know

Sometimes getting through another day is a huge achievement. Don’t give up.

The ignorance and discrimination surrounding mental illness is considerable. Although sometimes the person who discriminates the most against you is you.

7. You are probably a great listener

Somehow you have become the one friends turn to with their troubles. You don’t know whether this is because you’ve had counselling and therefore have picked up how to listen sympathetically, or because you are more guarded than others about yourself so others fill silences with chatter.

8. Pill podge

Oh great, so as well as being mad I have to be fat too, thanks for that, THANKS VERY MUCH.

Anxiety

A Letter to Husbands: 3 Ways to Help Your Wife with Anxiety

3 Ways to Help Your Wife with Anxiety

Dear Husbands,

If your wife struggles with anxiety, I know you feel helpless at times. It’s very difficult to understand. I know a thing or two about anxiety and let me tell you, it’s terrible. It’s as if your very core is broken. When the panic button is flipped, reason goes right out the window.

Imagine a pack of wolves are breathing down your neck and are ready to rip you to shreds at any moment. They’re nipping at your heels and their breath is hot on your back. Now, instead of running away from them, go balance your checking account or tuck your toddler into bed. Just ignore their fangs as you go grab some groceries.

This is what it feels like to a person with anxiety.

You can’t focus on everyday tasks because your mind is too busy trying to stay safe. Nobody can see those wolves but they feel real to the person with anxiety.

To make matters worse, anxiety writes a bad ending to every story. Nobody lives happily ever after, and everyone ends up surrounded by death and destruction. Anxiety and Fear are sisters and their mother is Doubt. This leaves you alone and afraid with no chance for help.

There is no silver lining and all hope is lost when anxiety grabs hold. Your wife is most likely planning her own funeral in her mind while she’s blow drying her hair. Her mind is battling between what she knows to be true, including God’s promises, and what she is feeling, which is terror. And then she hears, “Just snap out of it, you’re fine!”, it doesn’t help one bit.

Nobody wants to walk around feeling like their world is caving in. So add to it all, the shame and embarrassment that goes with anxiety. Most people expect an anxious person to just look at the facts and stop being irrational. It’s not that easy.

About a year ago our four-year-old decided that public restrooms are terrifying. She starts shaking and crying when we set her on the toilet. It’s not something we can avoid, so we spend about thirty minutes each time trying to get her to go. She hangs onto my leg and sobs as she tells me she is going to fall in. I know it is perfectly safe, but she doesn’t, and no amount of reassurance from me helps her at all. Even though we KNOW she will not get hurt, she feels the opposite. I pity her, because I see myself in the midst of her panic. I have feared many things that weren’t really there, but still couldn’t stop the cycle of terror.

It reminds me to be patient with her, because I know how it feels. But what if you don’t know how it feels to have anxiety? How will you be patient without being able to empathize? Maybe you are as cool as a cucumber and never stress about anything, so it’s especially hard to understand.

Instead of telling you what you should do, I would rather tell you a few things not to do. Trust me on this one.

 1. Logic doesn’t work

I know you get frustrated because I have seen my husband that way. The thing is, your logic and reason aren’t going to snap her out of it. My guess is she’s pretty bright, and her fears don’t make sense to her either. For example, when you say this to her, “Honey, shortness of breath doesn’t mean your heart is going to stop. You’re fine, just calm down.” This is what she actually hears:

“Honey, kwa sababu tu wewe ni mfupi wa kupumua, haina maana moyo wako ni kwenda kuacha. Tu utulivu chini, wewe ni faini”

(Unless she speaks Swahili, of course.)

The point is, you can’t reason with her and expect she will feel better.

 2. Ignoring her makes it worse

Maybe you think you’re feeding into the anxiety if you comfort her when she’s panicking. Shutting her out just makes her feel more fearful and isolated. If I walked away from my daughter and left her on the toilet alone, she would instantly FREAK OUT. Just my quiet presence helps her. Now that you know you don’t have to convince her of anything, you can just sit by her and show support by staying by her side. Realistically, you’ll have to eventually leave her physical proximity, but you can send a text or call her to check in so she knows you are with her while away. Knowing you’re thinking of her is comforting.

 3. Getting angry is counterproductive

I know you might feel like yelling. I know you get tired dealing with the anxiety. But she’s tired of it too. It’s an awful way to live. She wants to feel normal and enjoy life with you. If you get mad at her, her anxiety might morph into depression. Use your energy in positive ways. If she won’t go get help with the anxiety, go talk to a counselor so that you have a plan of action.

Our culture sets us up for tremendous anxiety, but let’s make our marriages into havens. A safe place to recover from all the world throws at us.

Set a peaceful tone in your home and marriage by practicing empathy and kindness towards each other. It will spill over your relationship into the lives of your children and those who interact with you in your home. Anxiety is horrible, but take it down a notch and don’t get angry over it. Squelch it with compassion. Speak truth, but envelop it with love.

* * *

I am Not a Hostage

What if God is more interested in what He can change in you through your situation than in changing your situation.

Our chains can be used to advance the kingdom and bring others to Christ. We grow the most and learn to empathize in our place of hardship. If everything were easy we wouldn’t be pushed to grow.

Some of the stuff happening in your life doesn’t feel good that feels, like it may take you out.

Paul said it looks like I am chained to these guards, but they are actually chained to me. He sees how God is using his difficult situation to minister to the guards.

Paul says I have been put here and that am not a hostage to what I feel or what I want. I am out here for the defense of the gospel. He was put there by people as a punishment, but God used it for good.

Stop worrying about stuff that God has already worked out. If he is going to stay up on the night shift, we might as well get some rest and trust that He has everything under control. We must walk by faith not by sight.

Paul says not only am I not a hostage to what I feel, to my plans or expectations, but I am a weapon to be used by God to advance the gospel. The important thing is that the message of Christ’s love and redeeming power is preached and that the purpose of God is advanced.

Whatever you define as the important thing in your life will define your joy. If it is your personal success, wealth, or what others think of you, than those things will define your joy. They will not for fill you in the way serving God will.

Philippians 1:12-26

I blog about my personal struggle with trichotillomania and bipolar disorder. I also discuss helpful strategies, reflections, and treatments.

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