Sunday, December 15, 2019

Why Even Close Friends Don't Satisfy Loneliness

My Past Struggles with Loneliness

6 years ago, I was desperate to have the number of friends that I do now. At that point in my life, I didn't have anyone to really confide in or pray with. Although my husband and I attended church and were part of a life group, I didn't connect with any of them outside of our weekly meetings.

Despite Having Friends, Loneliness Lingers

Today, I can barely keep up with the friends that I do have. So many friends that I consider dear to my heart, but I struggle to keep regular contact with them for various reasons, mostly lack mental energy (I am very much an introvert, so most interactions exhaust me), but to an extent lack of time.

Please don't mistake this for popularity, because I am quite awkward and definitely not very well known among my community circles. And I'm pretty sure those who do know me from afar don't envy having me as a friend.

Yet, despite having a full slate of friends, I still feel lonely at times.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Why I Hate the Term "Best Friend"

The Natural Desire for a Best Friend

I think people have a specific longing for a best friend. For another person we can relate to. Someone who knows our heart, our darkest secrets and brightest victories in life. Someone to help us get through life's storms. Even the most shy and introverted of us, I think if we're being honest, long for that. For most people, it's a position that cannot be filled by a spouse, parent or child. It has to be a friend.

I think the desire for a close, trusted friend is a natural longing that God wired into us.

Why I Hate the Term Best Friend

When I was growing up, whenever someone referred to their best friend, I always had a ping of jealousy. Even if it was a girl I didn't really care to know, if she referred to someone as her best friend, I felt left out. Alone. Excluded.

Monday, May 20, 2019

34 Bible Verses About Storms

I'm guessing pretty much everyone would agree that life is full of storms, trials, complications, and frustrations. Using The Strongest NASB Exhaustive Concordance, I compiled this comprehensive list of Scriptures about life's storms. I pray that God makes some of these verses stand out for you to memorize and use to endure whatever storms life blows your way.

A lot of these verses have great applications for facing storms in life, and offer hope despite doubt and fear, even in today's world, thousands of years after the divinely inspired authors wrote these verses. However, sometimes it's difficult to understand how it's applicable when you don't fully understand the context of the verse. So in parentheses next to several of the references, I've included little blurbs that attempt to give at least enough context to glean more value from the passage in regards to its real life application. (Some of the blurbs are taken from the headings of the NASB).

Thursday, May 9, 2019

My Top 5 Favorite Coping Mechanisms for Depression & Anxiety

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Carrying out this list of coping mechanisms does not come naturally to me. It takes effort for me to devote time and energy into something positive. My default nature is to allow my thoughts to control my actions, usually leading to just sitting around feeling defeated and sorry for myself.

If you can relate, let me encourage you that it really is worth the effort.

My Negative Coping Mechanism

If I must be honest, my go-to mechanism for coping with any unwanted feelings is TV. Getting lost in a screen of make-believe provides an immediate distraction from envy, jealousy, self-pity, loneliness and the plethora of other negative thoughts that enter my mind on a daily basis. 

Watching TV isn't a bad thing in and of itself. But it certainly isn't an adequate coping mechanism, and often times it causes even more unwanted thoughts (because even what is considered "clean TV" today stills contains a number of innuendos and indications that make it easy for the imagination to fill in the blanks and fantasize).

As God is slowly transforming me to become more like Him, He is helping me to discover better coping mechanisms for feelings of depression and anxiety. Here are my top 5 favorites:

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Hope in the Dark: Clinging to the Lord in the Midst of Trials

Guest post by Cailin Davis at Purposefully Portioned

When Trials Come

Trials are never enjoyable experiences. We all know that. 
But certain trials are worse than others.

Some trials are simply a source of irritation, such as discovering a flat tire or getting a leak in your roof. While others are a source of great pain, such as divorce, illness, or even death.

Minor trials do have a way of clouding our days and distracting us from our relationship with the Lord. But the major trials sometimes seem to block the out light completely.

It’s in the midst of the dark trials that God often seems absent at best and cruel at worst. And it’s underneath their consuming shadow that we often begin to question and doubt His love and goodness.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Is it Okay for Christians to Take Antidepressants?

I am NOT a healthcare professional and this material is NOT to be taken as medical advice. Please consult with your physician about any medications to see if they are right for you.

Years ago, if I was asked, "Is it okay for Christians to take antidepressants?" I would've answered that such medication is a cop-out. I thought, "Why put a substance in your body when you can simply seek God, pray, and take care of your body naturally?"

But God had a plan to knock me off my high horse when it came to my attitude toward medicating depression.

When I Thought Antidepressants Weren't For Christians

I once had a charismatic pastor who was adamantly against any form of anxiety or depression medication.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Facing Pregnancy Scared

I wrote the post below back in June 2018, shortly after finding out I was pregnant with my third son, Cade Oliver Code. In October of 2018, at 20 weeks, I found out Cade died. I wrote about my experience of grief and hope with his neonatal death months before I got the courage to publish it. Well, here's another post I never had the courage to post until now. I actually wrote this post while I was still pregnant, and I was feeling very depressed and hopeless. I was facing pregnancy scared but trying my hardest to keep my eyes on God.

Below is the original post I wrote during my pregnancy, with just a few minor edits for better flow structure. Anything written [in italics and in brackets like this] is a later edit I wrote commenting on the original post. 

Feeling Scared

One Thursday in June

I started my day off confused about what my role is in my family.

Monday, March 25, 2019

How to Embrace Brokenness to Find Joy

Does Joy Feel Unattainable in the Brokenness?

Brokenness is a fact of life. All of us endure messy, broken seasons at one point or another. Do you ever get discouraged at how some people seem to pull it together while you're stuck fallen by the wayside, unable to put the broken pieces together? Joy seems unattainable. Hope feels false. The storm is never-ending. Is it really possible to embrace brokenness to find joy?

Jeremiah 6:14 (NASB)
They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially,
Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’
But there is no peace.

Job 17:1 (ESV)
My spirit is broken; my days are extinct; 
the graveyard is ready for me. 

I often allow myself to wallow in my failures, thinking things like:

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Don't Overthink Daily Devotions

When I Used to Overthink My Devotions

For the longest time, I struggled with confusion on how to conduct my daily quiet time with God. (Can you relate?)

See, I was born into a family deeply involved in church. From the time I was just a few days old, my parents brought me to service. And when I was in preschool, my dad graduated from seminary.
As a teenager, I started having a desire to go deeper into Bible study. I craved meat instead of milk, and I thought this required large amounts of time daily spent in meditation, memorization, commentary reading, and journaling. I felt if I wasn't doing all of that daily, I was only getting "milk."

When I went to Bible college and took a course on studying the Bible, those feelings were reinforced. I was taught that using Bible study books was relying on other people's interpretations instead of relying on the Holy Spirit to learn from God's Word. So I felt a lot of pressure to do daily devotions a very specific way.

As a result, I've had many seasons of life where

Thursday, March 14, 2019

3 Ways to Break The Loneliness Cycle

When I go through seasons of loneliness, I tend to get myself into a hopeless cycle. I convince myself that no one really cares about me. So then I think, "What's the point of being around people if no one cares?" I'll isolate myself, staying holed up at home. Then, by not being around people, I feel even more lonely. In this loneliness, I again convince myself that no ones care and use that to continue isolating myself. It is a vicious, endless cycle.

So if you are caught in a similar cycle, how do you break it? Well one thing I've learned in my pain is that God is very personal, so each person's victory over loneliness is unique. But victory is achievable by seeking the Lord's help, comfort, and strength through it.

Below is a list of 3 ways to break the loneliness cycle. Keep in mind that these are not a quick fix. It took me years of implementing these behaviors to find victory of chronic loneliness. So I encourage you to commit to these spiritual strategies

Thursday, March 7, 2019

The Grief & Hope I Experienced After My Son's Neonatal Death

Losing Cade to Neonatal Death

Five months ago, on October 8, 2018, I lost my third son, Cade Oliver Cole, to neonatal death. I was 20 weeks pregnant when I went in for a typical midwife appointment. I expected to be in and out in 20 minutes. Instead, we spent nearly that long searching for a heartbeat that wasn't there. The next day I went into the hospital to be induced, and early in the morning on October 10, 2018 I delivered my stillborn son.

About a month after delivering him, I started typing up a post about the many feelings I was experiencing, but I never had the strength edit and publish it. But now that some time has passed, the feelings aren't as overwhelming and scary.

Below is the original post I wrote, with a few very minor edits.