“Are You playing me?” Is slang for a question that we consciously or subconsciously ask in relationships. Especially where there is a history of mistrust.
I want to say it another way so there is no misunderstanding. Why do some people subconsciously sabotage relationships that they depend on always being there for them? Yes, I’m primarily talking about the manipulators that easily move about in our inner circles of relationships.
The “pouters” that manipulate their loved ones in order to have things go their way. We parents and grandparents would like to think this habit goes away in the teenage years of our children or grandchildren. But, it does not. It deepens, like a river, into pysche’s during those years that only a trail of failure and/or counseling can change the course there of.
(I’m forming some thoughts on this subject while I finish up with several other time-demanding tasks. I would love to hear your thoughts on this in the meanwhile though. So feel free to post your ideas below.)
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me;” Psalms 23:4
Psalms 23 is short, but very powerful in it’s promises. I know these promises are true. Because I’ve lived them. I have tested many of God’s promises throughout my life. But, believe me I didn’t plan on testing God’s patience and love for me. Sometimes it just happened that way.
Fortunately though, my right choices have outweighed my bad ones along life’s way. But, I have walked through the “valley of the shadow of death,” perhaps more than I want to confess to.
Let’s take an in-depth look at Psalm 23 and learn how to apply these truths to our own lives. This is where the “rubber meets the road” in any Bible study. And in doing so I will share a little about my story.
You might not be familiar with the Bible. The Psalms are about right in the middle of the Bible. Most are beautifully phrased praises to God. Some hold promises and insight into letting us know of God’s direct involvement in our lives. A few Psalms are prophetic in announcing the Savior’s coming.
Okay, now I want to jump right in to Psalms 23. Verses 1-3 are all about what God is doing on our behalf when we seek after Him.
Verse 1 tells us that God is like a Shepard to us. A Shepard will lay down his life for his sheep.
“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” John 10:11
Verse 2 tells us that God provides us with our needs in plentiful ways. And promises to give us rest.
“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28.
Verse 3 states that God restores us and guides us. Restoring has two parts to it. First we receive then we give.
The first part is where God restores us as individuals when we cry out to Him in our desperation:
“Restore us to You, O Lord, that we may be restored; Renew our days as of old,” Lamentations 5:21.
The second part is when we continue the work of restoration that God has done in our lives:
“Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness;” Galatians 6:1
Verse three goes on to our letting God guide us throughout our daily lives.
Verse four is a turning point in this well loved Psalms. The new believer has gone through the exhilarating stages of a fresh or renewed walk with Christ. Now we’re being told that we will experience trials and our faith will be tested. Dark clouds are going to bring some storms of trouble into our lives. But there is an important promise within the warning. Let’s take a look at what it is:
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalms 23:4
God will not let fear overcome us if we abide in Him. And He will send us comfort during our times of fear, anxiety, stress, disappointments, and any other attacks by Satan.
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” John 15:4
Why I Wrote About Psalms 23
The “valley of death” can also be translated as the “valley of darkness.” Depression is darkness. And sometimes it can lead to a loved one not making it through the “valley of the shadow of death” only to commit suicide midway through that valley.
I’ve made it my mission to tell others my story of how I’ve overcome depression in hope that it will prevent someone from doing something drastic.
In 2007 I was going through a bout of depression. I’d struggle with depression on and off for most of my life. And I’ve talked with therapists many times before this so I knew that it was time for me to get back into counseling. I checked into an out-patient mental health facility here in my hometown. In the interview process I was diagnosed with dysthymic depression by one of the Peer Support Specialists that worked there.
Having that diagnoses was the beginning of my freedom from depression. First because I was finally correctly diagnosed. Having a correct diagnoses helped me to know why many of my days had dark clouds in them, and having that knowledge put me on a path to healing.
Of course my life isn’t perfect now, but I am happier and can deal with stress and disappointment more wisely because I have mental health tools that keep me from reacting negatively when bad things happen or are spoken to me; or because of a short sighted decision I’ve made.
During my time at the facility I went through ten months of group counseling that overlapped three months of individual peer counseling I received as well. After that I took a long break from receiving counseling. I felt fine and had made the changes that I knew I needed to make.
In early part of 2017 I began gradually becoming intensely stressed. By early Spring my daughter, Esther encouraged me to go back to counseling. It’s odd that she sensed it first, because Esther lives on the West Coast and her dad and I live in Western North Carolina. Our oldest daughter Ruth lives about 30 miles from us and our middle daughter Rachel lives in Eastern North Carolina. But, “Es” has always been intuitive. And it paid off for me to listen to her.
That Spring I began receiving Cognitive Behavior Therapy counseling by a trained therapist. We decided I needed to come in on a weekly basis. The cost was minimal because I chose a therapist that was “in network.”
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is sometimes called “talk therapy.” It’s usually a one-on-one session. But sometimes a spouse or other family members can join the sessions.
Later my husband, Jeff joined me for these sessions. Sometimes we went weekly and sometimes we went bi-monthly. The therapist suggested at the beginning that he take a prescription for his anxieties. That has helped so much in our flow of couple communication. And we are still going to our therapist.
For some reason I always thought family members just had to live with having an anxious family member in the home. Too many med’s were addictive, so we didn’t look into him taking any. And Jeff not taking an anti-anxiety prescription created a lot of unneeded stress when our girls were in their teen years.
But in recent years medications for anxieties has been produced that are not habit forming. And that’s the type Jeff takes now. I’m proud of him for admitting he needed both counseling, and medication in order to keep his anxieties in check. And we are still going to counseling at least a few times a month.
The rest of this Psalms speak of God’s presence in our lives. And that he is continually working on our behalf.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You [have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalms 23: 5,6.
Verse five describes being in God’s will is like enjoying a banquet while our enemies can only look on. Unless they know God and seek His guidance than they can’t enjoy His banqueting table.
It’s really up to us believers to go find the “lost” and invite them in to also enjoy being in the presence of God. This, I believe, is our anointing and our calling.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19, 20.
Verse six brings this beautiful sermon to a close with God’s assurance that we, as individuals, are loved by our heavenly Father. And that we also are to be known by our loving kindness.
Too many in the church have confused condemnation with conviction. It’s difficult to bring someone to Christ by condemning them. We bring people to Christ by our loving kindness. Conviction is the work of the Holy Spirit.
Throughout my childhood and adult years I’ve put up with the condemning words of others. So, I know what I’m talking about here.
I’ll let the Apostle John have the last words on this subject:
“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” John 3:17
*All Bible quotes are from the New American Standard Bible.
Sometimes depression sneaks up on us. It slips in the unguarded back door of our psyche like a thief. Depression seeks to rob us of having good stable mental health. Don’t fight this enemy on your own. Seek professional help if you are struggling with depression.
How do you know if you’re struggling with depression? To an observant close family member or friend the answer seems self-evident. But the sufferer is often the last one to recognize or admit that she or he is struggling with depression.
My realization that I was struggling with dysthymic depression came about by my going to a community mental health clinic (mhc) in my small town. I was assigned a peer specialist.
My Peer Specialist had worked as “floor staff” in mental health institutions for more than twenty years. Through our weekly talks he had pin-pointed the type of depression I’ve had since my teen years. Even though he was limited to what type of therapy he could offer, he still recognized what I was experiencing, and gave it a name. And him doing that was the “key” that opened the door for me to receive the right kind of mental-emotional wellness therapy.
He suggested I attend some of the group therapy programs that the mhc offered. That sounded good to me so I started with WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan). From there I went on to attend their other classes. My going there lasted about ten months. That was in 2007-2008. I felt great and had made several changes that I needed to make that came out of the one-on-one I was receiving and the weekly group therapy as well.
I’ve since gone back to therapy. Currently I’m seeing a licensed therapist. She uses Cognitive Therapy techniques, which have been very effective for me.
There are different types of depression, though. These are listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). That’s the “Bible” for finding out about personality disorders. This is a thick reference book that gets updated when new research information becomes available. Most of us don’t own a DSM-5, but any reputable website on mood disorders would reference this book along with experts in the field of cognitive development.
The DSM-5 does list depression as a mood disorder. The different types of depression are: Major, dysthymia (melancholy) depression, dysphoric (which includes PMS), and Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD). These are the most common ones, at least.
If you think you might be suffering from long term sadness, then get a thorough checkup by your physician. Include a blood test. That test will reveal if you are low in Vitamin D or other essential vitamins. Also, a blood test will reveal any health problem or blood related diseases such as Hepatitis C. Fortunately, most of my adult life I’ve had a yearly physical.
Let your doctor know that you’re struggling with “dark moods.” He or she might suggest a certain medication, such as an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake) to help lift your moods. There are multiple new ones available to help people overcome depression that are less or not addictive than the old meds.
I’ve found that “Talk Therapy” (Cognitive Therapy) is best for me. So, I’ve been able to avoid taking medication for depression. But I do take certain supplements every day that help lift my moods. I’ll discuss supplements later. I’ll only say that supplements can get expensive. And you’ve got to know which ones work best for you. By all means, start by talking with your primary care physician.
Please consider going to a Behavioral Health Center like I did. They offer mental health counseling that includes the family if needed. Ask to see the therapist on staff there. Let him/her know that you’re feeling depressed even if it’s just some of the time.
The cost of going to these Mental Health Centers (aka: MHC) is often free. They have group counseling classes that are designed to inform and guide you into making wise choices. Also, like me, you’ll get to have a “peer support specialists” that will talk one-on-one with you.
If you need to detox from illegal drugs or over medicating then most of these mental health counseling centers are connected to a detox unit. If you can’t control your intake of alcoholic beverages on a regular basis, then please check into a detox unit. Most problems are fixable. It just takes you being a part of your solution, not a part of the problem.
Finally, be honest with yourself. Have you had thoughts about self-harm and/or had suicidal inclinations?
If you’re feeling suicidal or need to talk to someone immediately, then please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Don’t put your loved ones through the agony of you making a tragic decision.
There are often reasonable and successful solutions to our emotional health problems. It just takes us seeking those solutions in the right places.
Living The American Dream is a “rags-to-riches” story about my parents and how they became millionaires. It all started in about 1963 as we were traveling to my grandparents’ house in Murphy NC.
We (my parents with their five children) lived about 60 miles east of Murphy. So to get to their house for a day of fun and good eating, we had to pass through the Eastern Band of The Cherokee Indian Reservation. We rarely stopped in Cherokee, but in the summer of 1963 we did. It was a brief stop but a life-turning decision was made during that stop-over.
My dad wanted my mom to talk with one of the gift shop owners about how could they operate a gift shop also. I remember being told not to get out of the car for any reason. I was about 11 yrs old at the time and I and my siblings obeyed our parents.
By the next year we had moved to the outskirts of then “Old Cherokee” and opened up a gift shop. It was located on US19, across the river from Frontier Land. By 1967 dad realized that the “big money” he was hoping for was in whole-selling souvenirs. So my parents switched from running two retail businesses to strictly selling wholesale.
There wasn’t much to risk in them switching to becoming “middle man” sales people. My two oldest siblings had graduated high school and had left home. And all that my parents owned at the time was a single-wide trailer and two very used cars.
If you would like to know “the rest of the story” then please buy my book here. I’ll be glad to sign a copy of my parents rags-to-riches story for you. Reading this might inspire you to reach what seems like an impossible goal to reach, as well.
I’m asking $10.00 plus $3.00 shipping =$13.00 per book.
I am doing some limited talks on how I have managed chronic depression. I would like to Skype as well as do some public speaking on this subject. I’m willing to speak at most any venue, but I am a believer in Christ Jesus. I wouldn’t want to not be able to speak freely about how my faith has helped me in tremendous ways. You can get in touch with me through my WordPress site or at my email: firstname.lastname@example.org
You display your power among the people.” Psalms
We can’t always solve our problems, and often not all on our own. Some of our problems are not solvable, some are solved through time, and some we can solve on our own. Some of our problems are so overwhelming that they require a miracle.
Most of us, well, all of us need some type of support network that we can count on. Especially, when it comes to needing prayer over an issue you or I are facing. We may not know all of who is praying for us in this day of posting our prayer concerns on social media. I often add my concerns to our church prayer list. The important thing, though is to get prayer warriors praying when we need them the most.
Sometimes God just moves on people’s hearts in mysterious ways and our problems get solved through a miracle. The story below describes how I received a miracle when I needed one the most:
Decades ago, I was single and living in a small town in south GA. I had taken a photographer’s assistant job there but lived there less than a year. I was very homesick and lonely. That town is about 200 miles from where I grew up and where my large extended family still lives in, which is WNC.
So while I lived there I had a weird accident on my bicycle, on my way to my apartment. After the accident I was in intense pain but didn’t know what was wrong. I knew that I had injured myself badly, though. I had made it inside the door, but laid on the floor bleeding. My sister Carol called not long after I got into the apartment. She said she felt the need to call me and check on how I was doing. I told her about the accident and that I was bleeding badly. We hung up and she called my employer to let him know that I needed immediate help.
I still remember some guys putting me into an ambulance. I was heavily sedated thereafter. But by the next morning I awoke to see my parents and my oldest sister, Carol standing next to my bed. That whole event was nothing short of a miracle.
What had happened when I was riding my bike, I had to brake hard and come to a sudden stop. I had avoided colliding with the car. But, in doing so my body slammed up against the support bar (female style bike). That action resulted in me bursting my vulva.
I got healed, I moved back to WNC and in a year or so I joined the US Air
Force. I went to Germany where I met my husband, Jeff. We have been married
over forty years and have three grown daughters and four grandchildren.
Having told you about that long-ago incident or accident, I want to conclude this post with saying that not all problems require miracles to happen in order to solve them. But you and I are better off when we:
all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV).
I want to talk about HOPE over the next several posts that I put up. I, like everyone else is busy, though. So my post might seem sporadic. Plus, I need to organize my thoughts on exactly what I want to say, which takes a lot of black coffee and not too many distractions. I made need some luck to avoid the distractions.
I do hope to get some good feedback on my posts on HOPE and how we always need a healthy supply of it.
A few years ago, I had a clear and unforgettable vision. It probably lasted about thirty seconds. I know that because I was driving a familiar stretch of road near my home at the time of my vision.
saw myself being let out of a jail cell that was at the end of a long hallway.
As I walked up the hallway, I saw that in each cell there was a person in anguish.
There were no cell doors, though. When I got to the exit, I paused and asked the jailer, “When did you remove the cell doors?”
“There never were cell doors. Any of you
could’ve left anytime you wanted to.” He said.
that I walked out into the beautiful brightness of a warm sunny day.
Explanation of My Vision
the fullness of the vision I realized that our emotional wellness is up ourselves.
Seeking professional help needs to be a part of our healing.
instead of receiving counseling, we substitute with other activities making our
cells of unneedful mental anguish as comfortable as possible. We include our
addictions, our self-medicating habits, our overindulgences. We include people
who are emotionally harmful to us into our lives.
we just exist and don’t seek emotional healing at all. Like me you’ve probably
tried a few of the above ideas. Some of us almost are experts on “what not to
is one of the best ways we have in leaving a lifestyle where we’ve been
emotionally disconnected, maligned, misdiagnosed, and/or self-medicated. A
lifestyle that can cause our ruin.
your unraveling/mending/unraveling mental health issues behind, today. Step out
into God’s bright warm sunlight and start searching for positive mental
wellness. It’s what I’ve done, and it’s helped me in achieving my
Life can have its places of stark wilderness that we’ll all travel through at various times in our lives. Your efforts toward your own mental wellness is going to be up to you. I hope that I’ve helped in some small or great way in you achieving your mental-emotional-wellness.
Not everyone is a good time manager. When one of my three children started elementary school, she was unfocused and couldn’t complete her tasks. Her kindergarten teacher pointed this out but didn’t offer a solution to our child’s problem.
This was in 1990. Hopefully, understanding the different learning traits of children have improved a bit since then. But, children are still slipping through the “learning cracks.”
Poor time management kept our daughter from doing well also in first grade. We were getting frustrated, not only with our child, but more so with her teachers. Neither her K-Garten nor her first grade teacher seemed to have a solution or any good advice, but both were quick to point out the problem.
didn’t want to take my anger out on our six-year-old. Just a few months earlier
she had surgery to correct her “Lazy Eye.” We were all joyful over her improved
vision. Everything seemed hopeful until she started school.
I shared our daughter’s learning problem with
friends at church. Finally, about midway through that year a teacher from our
church called me and suggested I have her checked for Attention Deficit
Disorder (ADD) by a pediatrician. I’d never heard of it.
though, I made the appointment and scooped up an ample supply of her unfinished
desk work to take with us to the appt. The pediatrician was well qualified and
had been practicing for at least twenty years. I felt I could trust his
judgement. I knew something needed to change but didn’t know what. And, in the
end, his advice made sense to me.
believed my daughter would be more focused by taking a low dose of
Ritalin. I immediately started her on
one pill in the morning and the difference was night and day. She was more
engaged and became a better task-oriented student.
kept her on Ritalin all through to about the ninth grade. That was when she
became less and less of a “happy camper” about taking the prescription. So,
after that year, I pretty much let it go. It was too much of a struggle. She
went on to participate in high school band and played several instruments. And
graduated on time with her friends. We were ecstatic over what she (and we) had
accomplished during her twelve years of school. And we were glad to bring that
part of it to a close.
Recognizing A Problem and Fixing
I had to do it over again, I still would take the same path I took in listening
to a seasoned pediatrician. And take his or her advice. Recognizing that my
child had a learning issue and yet doing nothing about solving it was and still
is unacceptable to me.
A lot of people don’t like putting their child
on Ritalin. Perhaps because of fear there might be long term affects. I’ve asked
two different neurologists at different times if there are any effects of Ritalin
or similar medication. Both told me that there are no long-term side effects of
taking this type of medication. The pill “flushes” out of the child’s system within
a few hours and leaves no residue. It’s good for about two hours or so. Then
prescribed dosage of a proven medication for ADD/ADHD is far better than
letting your child start their school day with cola loaded with caffeine and
sugar. When the sugar “high” wears off your child will “crash” in the middle of
an important test or some other class time. And besides that, just how much caffeine
and / or sugar does a child need in the morning anyway?
believe a child only has a few years to get settled into a positive school
routine, whether it’s in a regular classroom or at home. If a child becomes
overwhelmed with frustration during those early years it may preset them to
become school dropouts during their teen years.
At least that’s what I saw take place with my oldest brother Gene. He may have had ADD. All during his early schooling he was often called lazy or worse by teachers that then influenced our parents to think negatively about him as well. Gene was always behind in his schoolwork.
In Gene’s teen years he said he wasn’t going back to school. In fact, he said this multiple time. Finally, my strong-willed petite mother stood up to his 5’11’’ frame and told him, “Go to school or get a job!” Since he had no car, he got on the school bus the next day.
oldest sister Carol often did his homework for him. They were a year apart but
spent most of their school years being in the same grade. Both Gene and Carol
graduated high school in 1965. So, this was way before learning disabilities
were discussed at parent-teacher conferences.
graduating high school Gene wanted to attend our local technical school and
study TV repair. No one thought he would understand it, but he attended anyway.
made the Honor Roll that year and went on to Greenville, SC Technical School for
the second year of TV repair. After graduation he worked in that career field
until circuit boards were used in TV’s. From there he became a tool-and-die
had a great mind, but he only wanted to learn what interested him. He was self-taught
on playing his guitar, played his trumpet in band all through high school.
when our parents built their 5,000 sq. ft warehouse, they wisely hired Gene. In
the building phase of it he designed the warehouse floor plan by adding
multiple rows of metal shelving separated by wide aisles and designed where the
best place to add a loading dock would be. They went with his plan. And it was
Gene had learned basic carpentry skills in our
high school shop class. He was good at “rough carpentry” to. And, his carpentry
skills were utilized in the warehouse often. And he also fixed basic electrical
problems there also.
was also a master small-scale wood carver. I have one of his special wood
carvings sitting on display in my living room. It’s a mountain man killing a
bear with a knife. It’s about 8” X 8” and all carved from one piece of cherry.
also struggled with focusing issues, though not as bad as Gene’s were. That is
probably what’s behind my lifetime caffeine addiction. I was in my teens when I
had coffee for the first time. I thought then it must be a drink from “the
gods.” And I still think of coffee that same way.
When I went to college in my mid-forties, I took Ginkgo tablets to stay alert during night school. I had seen ginkgo advertised for mental alertness. So, I decided to try it. Plus, I was weary of drinking vending machine coffee at 6:00 pm. Ginkgo does work for mental alertness. I still take it on and off. But I wouldn’t give it to a child. After all, how much should a developing child take?
The important thing is to recognize that you or your child has a learning problem. Then go about fixing it in a logical and proven way. Start by seeking medical advice.
“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!”
Philippians 4:4 (NLT)
preacher and teacher of The Gospel named Paul wrote the above verse for our
encouragement. He wrote the small book of Philippians while being in prison.
But Paul did not let his circumstances determine his level of joy. His source
of joy went deeper than his surroundings. His joy came from his belief in Jesus
his imprisonment faithful friends were coming and going from Paul’s cell
tending to his needs. He shared his abundant joy with them. The small group
joined Paul in reading from the Old Testament and singing Psalms.
life had not been easy even when he was free. Less so during his imprisonment.
Philippians was written about 60 A.D. during his first imprisonment. You can
read the entire account of the Apostle Paul in Acts 13-28.
despite his bleak surroundings, not knowing whether he would be set free or
not; Paul spent his time writing letters of encouragement. His trusted friends
risked their lives carrying his prison letters to churches in Greece and in Asia
Minor. They did this because of their
commitment to help Paul. And, in doing that they also had joy overflowing.
much if any has changed since Paul’s day. We all still need a continuous flow
of joy in our daily lives. Also, we need both to encourage and be encouraged. I
want to encourage you to read the small book of Philippians and be prepared to
be filled with joy.
joy in what you do as well. As important as parenting, jobs and/or our other
responsibilities are, the attitude that we have in doing what we do is equally
we allow ourselves to have a joyful attitude, our hope increases.