Thursday, June 5, 2014

Book Review: A Well-Kept Soul

Our soul is the epitome of our entire being. Yet, sadly, we give very little attention to the most important part of us. We compartmentalize our lives into mind, body and soul. You hear ideas to increase your brain power or how to improve your health. In fact, their are industries based solely on these aspects. And there sits our soul, waiting to be nurtured, needing to be acknowledged.
     Author and pastor John Ortberg has blessed us with such a delightful book, Soul Keeping: Caring for The Most Important Part of You, to help us live holistically and fully. When our souls our whole and healthy, the rest of our lives benefit. There is a cohesion of being which allows us to function in an integrated manner. When our lives our in disarray the external chaos is a symptom of disintegrated, fractured soul. Ortberg takes aim to lead the reader to a healthier life, a life lived in harmony with God.
      Ortberg's writing simply flows from his pen. He has a style casual and personable. When you read the last page you are left with a feeling that you have personally met him and been able to pick his brain for his most valuable insights. Reading Soul Keeping is a book of intensity and passion; one doesn't simply read it, but rather experiences this piece.
     One of the highlights of this book is that you not only meet Ortberg, you are introduced to renown theologian Dallas Willard. His legacy peeks through Soul Keeping. You may be surprised at the insights and wisdom that Willard brings to the table, possibly as surprised as Ortberg was when he received them as he sat across from him. You might even extend a similar question of bewilderment, "Huh?"
     I was mesmerized with Soul Keeping. The simplicity of words delves deep within. You will be questioned and challenged. Our souls are in need of love and keeping. You are the keeper of your soul and you are in charge of Soul Keeping. May you find the peace you are seeking and may your life be an organic extension of a well-kept soul.
     I received a complimentary copy of the aforementioned book from Icon Media and Zondervan in exchange for an honest review.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Book Review: Simply for God

Icon Media Group provided a complimentary copy of the featured book in exchange for an honest review.
     People complicate things more than they should. To walk the Christian way can be susceptible to the very thing that Christ opposed, living by rules. God doesn't hold a yardstick to us against any other person or what rules we have down pat. He looks upon our hearts and the love within. There are some believers who always feel they aren't doing enough, being enough nor are good enough and yet, they strive to do more, be more and be better.
     Author Stovall Weems with purity of heart and sheer candor has penned The God First Life: Uncomplicate Your Life, God's Way to help believers set aside the hustle and bustle, to slow down and live for God simply. Weems wants you to put down your pen and checklist and focus on the One who matters. We can run in circles trying to make sure our reading is done, prayers are said and church is attended, but it remain meaningless if our hearts are not a part of the walk. He delves into Matthew 6:33 and intertwines that verse throughout the pages.
     So you are a part of God's family, now what? I honestly wish I could have had this book my side when I began my journey. Weems untangles so many misconceptions by laying it out clearly and concisely. Any believer, particularly new believers or those feeling spiritually-challenged, will benefit form reading The God First Life. There are times when our walks become stale or we feel burdened by the stereotypes formed in churches. All those things we do become dull if they are not an expression of worship to the Almighty, an extension of our hearts.
     The author never sugar coats anything or wears rose-colored glasses. Our journey can be difficult at times, it can be harried and complicated, but God never intended for us to live like that. Weems brings such clarity and fresh perspective to verses, to a way of living that a holy, fulfilling walk seems feasible for any believer no matter where they are at the moment. I would encourage everyone to pick this book up and live The God First Life.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Book Review: Listen to a Higher Power

Multnomah Books provided a complimentary copy of Crash the Chatterbox: Hearing God's Voice Above All Others by Steven Furtick in exchange for an honest review.
     Even when we know who we are in Christ it can be difficult to hear His voice, when the din of the chatter is so loud. Instead of holding confidence in God we begin to give power to lies of condemnation, insecurity, fear and discouragement allowing them to stifle us and not live fully to our calling. Author and pastor Steven Furtick wants to help you beat down the lies and listen to the voice of God, the only voice that matters in Crash the Chatterbox.
     He breaks down the book into four sections covering the aforementioned lies. Subsequently, Furtick brings an affirmation of truth to squelch that lie. For example, God says I am, is affirmed to combat the lie of insecurity. Even when we feel we can't do something, we still can stand firm knowing God can. Furtick includes personal anecdotes, biblical narrative and God's Word. When we tell ourselves lies, they become our life, what we live out. However, when we fill ourselves with God's Word we will live out the truth.
     Furtick writes with such conversational ease that once in a while I could imagine myself hearing him speak, as if he were before me. His suggestions are useful and rather counterintuitive at first glance. He acknowledges that explaining with clarity what it is he means and how you can use his ideas in a practical manner. I found the chapters short and delightful, given some of the work that you may want to do on yourself may be anything but easy and full of delight. One thing is certain, Furtick gives you tools to get started and reaffirm what we know to be true.
      Furtick never waivers from his faith, even when he has wavered from his will. Let's face it, we all hear chatter we know not to be true, yet we often live according to lies. He is blatantly honest with his shortcomings, owns up to them and has overcome them. The good news is that we do have the power to overcome the struggles day by day. The bad news is every day will bring with it a battle of chatter. However, it is an ongoing battle that doesn't necessarily have to be a struggle. Crash the Chatterbox brings hope and encourages all believers wherever they be on their jouney, to continue their march forward and to listen only to the Word that matters, the only words of significance. Begin
Crashing the Chatterbox and know: God says I am. God says He will. God says He has. God says I can.

Purchase from Amazon here


Steven Furtick
Steven Furtick is the founder and lead pastor of Elevation Church.

In just under seven years, Elevation Church has grown to more than 10,000 people in weekly attendance, meeting at seven locations in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. Elevation has been named one of the fastest growing Churches in America by Outreach Magazine for each of the past six years.

Pastor Steven has been privileged to minister to a global audience, speaking at conferences and churches around the world, including Catalyst Conference, Hillsong Conference, and the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit. He is the author of the New York Times best-selling book, Greater, and the nationally acclaimed Sun Stand Still.

Pastor Steven holds a Master of Divinity degree from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

He and his wife Holly live in the Charlotte area with their two sons, Elijah and Graham, and daughter, Abbey


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Book Review: Worth the Investment

Bethany House Publishing provided a complimentary copy of the featured book in exchange for an honest review.
     Most likely if you are an avid reader, at some point you have read a self-help book. You know the titles that promise you will find yourself within the 200 pages, or you can even create the life you have dreamed of by doing A,B and C. The selections are overwhelming and plentiful on the bookstore shelves. Yet, what we are all longing to do is to fulfill our souls. We thirst for more.
     Author Daniel Henderson has penned a book to help you do just that. The Deeper Life: Satisfying the Eight Vital Longings of Your Soul guides the reader to answer those questions in a purposeful way, a way that help you live your life by defining your principles. If we are lost not knowing what we are searching for, we will go through life grasping at straw, only to have storms sweep it all away. However, if we can identify who we are and what we believe, our behaviors that shape our lives will be an extension of what we believe and give meaning to our daily lives.
     I was thoroughly impressed with this book in its entirety. Besides Henderson's engaging writing style which led me to an inner dialogue as I read, there is also a Part 2. Many books pepper you with questions to think about which is fine. However, The Deeper Life's Part 2 is thoroughly useful. It is a workbook of sorts helping the reader work through the knowledge they just gained turning it into practical application. The Discovery Exercises delve into your heart, into your soul allowing you to weave a working tapestry of what you believe and how to make use of those beliefs.
     The Deeper Life gets the reader to invest in their own lives. We can find our identity and purpose, learn what matters to us, how we can fulfill our callings and strive for eternity. What will your legacy look like on earth and in heaven? Everything we do, every decision we make is a reflection of our belief system. I have rarely come across a book that has pierced my heart as much and given me as extensive fodder to digest. I only hope if you are looking to fulfill your soul, to squelch that heart-wrenching longing for more or want to simply enrich your life that you will invest the time in this book and satisfy the longings of your soul.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Book Review: Finding Freedom

Chosen Books provided a complimentary copy of the featured book in exchange for an honest book review.
     Author and pastor, Bobby Davis, has graciously penned a book with deep conviction and passion. In Saved But Still Enslaved: Breaking Free from Strongholds Davis sets out to help every believer combat the strongholds that still strangle their lives. Even though we are no longer condemned as Christ paid the price at the Cross, we will find there are still battles to be fought.  Most readers will find valuable insight into their own lives as Davis looks at several strongholds.
     The greatest way to fight these struggles is found, of course, within Scripture. The words we hear, read and speak all impact our lives. Are we living by His truth or by the lies we hear and tell ourselves? God created by word and inadvertently, we create our lives by our words as well. As we come to understand that Jesus came to set us free we can use His power, His Word to break free from our trappings. If we are hopeless, hope can be found. If we are enslaved to religion, we can build a relationship with Christ. If we are paralyzed by fear, we can break free and live courageously, in fact, victoriously. He also delves into shame, inferiority, addiction, unforgiveness and poverty.
      The greatest aspect of Bobby Davis' writing is his transparency. He works from experience and hardship and nothing gives this book greater credibility than his story. It gives his words greater strength and power as he harnesses the power of the Spirit. I applaud his honesty and humility. It is an easy, enjoyable read, though it will pose some pointed questions that may make you squirm in your seat a bit. But, any good thought-provoking book should do that anyhow.
      Saved But Still Enslaved is a book that isn't there with a master plan. It is a guide pointing to the greatest Guide of all. Breaking free from whatever strongholds that are choking you is going to take work and commitment, a strong dedication. So, the greatest beginning question to ask yourself is: Are you Saved But Still Enslaved?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Book Review: Embracing Life

Plough Publishing House provided a complimentary copy of the feature book in exchange for an honest book review.
     Author Johann Christoph Arnold had thoughtfully penned Rich in Years: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Long Life, a book that relishes the value and wisdom that comes as one ages. In western culture aging is seen as taboo, something to be avoided at all costs and one can only pray the newest cream actually slows down the process. However, God created us beautifully and has given people purpose no matter their ever-increasing numeric status.
      This book harnesses biblical wisdom with the accounts of many elderly citizens lending credence to one's value in their latter years. The first step is to accept what is and what blessings can be gleaned from life changes. Whether you are at that point in your journey or are a caregiver Rich in Years can give you food for thought and an appreciation for this leg of the journey. There may be aspects that come with aging that aren't pleasant, however perspective is everything. One must never forget that as we age we are not closer to the end, but rather a new beginning, one that is eternal.
      I absolutely loved this book.  I am only in my fourth decade of my earthly life and found great value within Rich in Years. After watching my grandparents go through so many changes gracefully I have had a deep appreciation for the elderly. So, why would I read such a book? I want to age gracefully and know my purpose as I grow older. My parents are going to be entering those years when changes become inevitable. After reading this book I am, hopefully, more equipped to help them, to extend more empathy and value them for whatever place they find themselves in. The experience of others is a beautiful learning tool.
       I would suggest this book to anyone. This volume is all about the latter years of our human experience. Though I am not there yet, one day I will be, as will you. May we embrace all of the journey. Some feel discarded or devalued by society, but when we look through the eyes of God we can be Rich in Years and live out our God-given purpose until the end of our earthly journey.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Book Review: Comfort for the Day

Moody Publishers provided a complimentary copy of the featured book in exchange for an honest review.
     Everyone wonders at some time whether circumstances are mere chance happenings or if there is reason behind it all. Is there a God who reigns? Paul Enns argues in Everything Happens for a Reason: God's Purposes in a World Gone Bad that our lives are not only purposeful, but so are the goings-on of our lives. There is not one circumstance that goes undetected or unused by God.
     Besides this book providing biblical examples of people enduring hardships, Enns draws on examples of everyday trials and life challenges that ordinary people have withstood. There are two presuppositions that are assumed from the get go. First, God is sovereign and good- period. And second, we don't have all the answers this side of heaven. We simply don't. If those two tenets of faith are believed then the rest of the book will subsequently make sense.
      There are some circumstances that are completely horrific in human terms. Yet, if we are willing to lift our eyes up and believe that God has our good in mind, as well as His purposes, then our circumstances can be endured with a new, hopeful perspective. Enns tackles the hard questions such as: Why does evil occur?, What is Satan's role? and What is the purpose of it all?. Certainly, there aren't easy answers, but Everything Happens for a Reason certainly attempts to answer them in terms that are as easily understood as possible and with empathy and comfort.
      This book is well-written and biblical. The answers aren't concocted by Enns to make you feel good. They are derived from the Bible and are God's answers to your questions. With that stated, I did find one chapter hard to swallow as it dealt with sin. I personally didn't feel that contributing one's disregard to the speed limit and therefore, sin, necessitated in the man's death. So, if you are not of the fundamentalist mindset, this book probably isn't going to sit well with you.
       Everything Happens for a Reason is a book that may bring great comfort in your time of need. We are going to face challenges as we live in fallen world. We can rest in knowing that God sees a greater picture that someday in glory we will see fully. We can live knowing that Everything Happens for a Reason.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Book Review: Back to Faith

Moody Publishers provided a complimentary copy of the featured book in exchange for an honest review.
     Some believers get lost at one point or another wandering from their faith. It may be for but a brief season; other times their detour lasts longer. Come Home: A Call Back to Faith by James MacDonald is a small book that can hold great significance for those that are wandering. The bottomline is that Jesus loves them. MacDonald conveys that warmth and love dispelling reason to doubt and invites them home in belief.  
      Drawing on the story of the prodigal son in the Bible, MacDonald categorizes wanderers into four types: the fearful wanderer, the doubtful wanderer, the sensual wanderer and the willful wanderer. Each has their own set of doubts or hardships defined that have drawn them away from the Father. Subsequently, every chapter unpacks the possible reasons and the potential solutions for these prodigals.
      I was quite pleased with the helpful information in this compact volume. Come Home could be suited for many. The wanderer or those that are beginning to question, could benefit from reading this book. Come Home can validate one's doubts and allow for a more open dialogue.  It could be that you want to encourage the lost believer in your life. Questions and rising doubt can be addressed in love. MacDonald explains the thought process of each type of wanderer. With that knowledge a brother or sister will be better equipped to assist the wandering soul.
      This is an easy-to-read book making it a great, quick resource. I found some points to be addressed a little harshly. I would hope that the tone wouldn't steer the lost away. Overall, the book is direct and firm, but gentle and loving. Maybe a chapter will strike a chord and speak life back into their soul. This book could be given as a gift to the lost with a word of encouragement and a lot of prayer, for it may be just the call they need to wander back home.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Book Review: In Business with God

Kickstand Books provided a complimentary copy of the featured book in exchange for an honest review.
     Believers turn to the Bible as their road map to life. Yet, when it comes to career and business God is often left behind. Working under the capitalistic mechanism of our society often belies our faith and in turn, morals are negated to nothing more than a whimiscal thought. So, what is a believer to do when he wants to work within and uphold the guidelines of God, his Authority?
     Author and entrepenuer, Joseph James Slawek, walks the reader through biblical principles for business that have propagated his company to become a leader within the private sector. In his book, Ingredients for Sucess: 10 Business Practices for Business and Life, Slawek breaks down the parables within Matthew 25. Between these 46 verses we can create a feasible working plan to build business and people up at the same time without sacrificing morally, upright priniciples.
      There aren't any fail-proof instructions or methods being handed out, but rather lessons that can be applied to daily life. The Parable of the Ten Virgins can help us be more prepared in life, to plan ahead for the daily chaos and any impending disasters. In The Parable of the Bags of Gold we can learn how crippling fear can be and inhibit us from maximizing our potential. In 10 chapters (113 pages) Slawek uses parables and principles he has actually utilized himself. There isn't a greater teacher, besides the Bible, than experience. It is with a big heart that Slawek shares his journey with his readers.
     I was quite pleased with Ingredients for Success. Given, I am not a CEO, nor ever will be. I am primarily a mom of three. However, I garnered some new insights and wisdom for the road. I still have a tendency to allow fear to dictate my decisions, so obviously, the relevant chapter was particularly helpful for me. Certainly, there will be a chapter that will encourage your heart. If you are a business owner (or a mom), I pray this book will help you become the leader God has called you to be. Sometimes the right decisions aren't always easy decisions, but as Slawek can attest to, the right decision is one with God in mind.


Friday, February 28, 2014

Book Review: A Transformational Read

B&H Publishing Group provided a complimentary copy of the featured book in exchange for an honest review.
     Have you ever wondered if you are praying properly? Or serving Him well? Or are doing enough? You just know if you do one more thing in the name of God you will have found what has been missing from your spiritual life. For whatever reason, you are always running after God, running after religion.
      Angie Smith knows this all too well. Instead of enjoying God, she found herself chasing him, diving in to religion and in the process was coming up dry. In her new book, Chasing God, Smith encourages the reader to stop grasping for straw and instead grab a hold of God, our sustenance, He who is substance. Religion can be confining following rules, making checklists and exhausting oneself. Yet, God doesn't want us to add another "to-do" for us to be holier. He wants us to seek Him for the purpose of resting in His glory, to know Him a little more intimately and embrace His extended hands. God wants us to enjoy Him for who He is, not what we want Him to be.
     This was another book that was placed in my hands at the needed moment. I began feeling empty and closed the book with a renewed sense of longing and hope in my spiritual life. Smith validates feelings of doubt and other feelings we are shamed to acknowledge during our walk. It is easy to think if we are experiencing a lull in our journey than we aren't doing enough. However, it may be we are doing too much and missing God. What it comes down to is an understanding that what we are chasing may not be there, but what is may far exceed our expectations. In His abundance we can be fulfilled.
      Chasing God is an experience to be had, not a book to skim through. We are blessed to have authors, such as Angie Smith, gracing our shelves with a vulnerability and candor that is accessible, a pen that soothes and words which inspire. I simply couldn't put this book down. I wanted more. I needed more. The greatest aspect of Smith's work is she doesn't prescribe more rules on us or another set of miraculous self-help steps. She uses her journey as case in point and draws upon life. Somethings that may work for her, may not for you. Just as each of us are unique, so will be our journeys, completely different, yet all wonderful. I can assure you that Chasing God is a book that will impact you and your journey. May you stop chasing and begin knowing God.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Book Review: Unity Under the Trinity

Chosen Books provided a complimentary copy of the featured book in exchange for an honest review.
      All Heaven Will Break Loose: When We Make the Priorities of Jesus Our Passion by Joy Dawson is a book that calls for the body of Christ to unite under the authority of the Trinity in the name of Christ. There are far too many divisions that plague the church across the globe for petty circumstances. Author Joy Dawson implores each believer to contribute to the church setting aside ego and encouraging one another to use our gifts for His glory especially within our ministries.
     It sounds simple enough,  but pragmatically uniting in humility can be difficult. Dawson using biblical references models for us the workings of Trinity unity in the church and the subsequent blessings. Following the definition and workings of this unity she also provides circumstances that may hinder unification and the solutions to overcome.
      I love Joy Dawson's message without a doubt. I have seen too many people criticize others in the name of righteousness, meanwhile they are perverting the Word of God. This is a timely message to unite under the name of Christ for the sake of spreading the gospel. Great things can abound when His Good News is shared in love with all, particularly with brothers and sisters by our side.
     However, I did find the writing a tad dry at times. Some chapters moved very slowly for me in general. The transitions between subtopics seemed rough and frankly, I found it disruptive to the chapter at large. Yet, I would not want to discourage you to not pick up this book based solely on my opinion of her writing style. The content of this volume greatly surpasses the minor writing flaws.
     All Heaven Will Break Loose may be the book you need at the moment to persevere in your area of ministry. The book is 143 pages long and provides solid, biblical teaching. May His glory be seen in your life.


Book Review: Living in Faith

BookSneeze graciously provided a complimentary copy of the featured book in exchange for an honest review.
     We are all born with potential. Yet, many lead quiet lives of discontent never stepping out in faith and wondering when life passed by. That's the bad news. But, that is where it ends. For today is another day waiting to be embraced for all its worth.
     Pastor and author Terry A. Smith encourages people to not only envision their preferred future, but also to create it in practical terms bringing it into fruition in this engaging book, Live 10: Jump-Start the Best Version of Your Life.  Using biblical references and personal accounts Smith guides the reader to see what they want and to subsequently take steps to attain their goals.
     Smith really hones in on leading in whatever realm you work in, whether you are a businessman, stay-at-home mother or a teacher. We all have realms of influence, people to help, people to encourage. Whatever future you have planned can help bring others up along side you and that is where our futures have the greatest potential for impact. Taking an active role in our lives is what will create our preferred futures.
     I am very grateful to have read this book. As a stay-at-home, homeschooling mama my days can seem rote and a tad monotonous at times. (Please don't misread that as any disdain for motherhood. I love it.) So, Live 10 really helped me to realign my day with my ideals and goals for my family and myself. It also has created a spark in me to envision my life after homeschooling. If this book can speak to me I really believe it has the potential to reach many others.
     Smith has a way with words that flows naturally and hits home. He is very poignant and intentional with each word written. His questions at the end of the seven parts dig into the heart of the matter and help you align your intentions with your actions. Though he spurs you to dream big, the path he lays to guide you makes it all seem attainable.
     The greatest strength of Live 10 is that Smith includes God. Often God can be pushed aside out of our equations. We create plans without our Lord. Smith makes it a point to include God, to know Him and what those implications can look like in light of our preferred futures.
     In 207 pages you will have gained tools to go from the mundane to living the extraordinary. The question is: What does a "10" in your life look like? Dare to dream. Dare to do. Live 10!


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Book Review: A Voice for our Brothers and Sisters

Image provided a complimentary copy of The Global War on Christians: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Anti-Christian Persecution by John L. Allen Jr., in exchange for an honest book review.
     The "war on Christianity" has been misused in political rhetoric now for years. Defining what religious persecution is, is in itself a taxing task. The debates are endless and of course, everyone wants to be correct. So, this book sets out to tackle the issues head on with a sobering humility.
     Author John L. Allen Jr. writes with an uncanny ability to distinguish observable fact from fiction and estimates the unobservable circumstances as best as anyone can. A lot of the persecution that Christians endure worldwide does not have a face, many victims don't even have names. Ultimately, The Global War on Christians gives the faceless and nameless a voice.
     The atrocities people face for their beliefs is scandalous and heart-wrenching. No one should ever have to suffer at the hands of others for their beliefs, yet it is a daily occurrence. The West is so far removed from the tragedies it is truly hard to comprehend real persecution. These brothers and sisters are not just suffering at the hands of radicals of other religions, but Christian zealots as well. There is an inter-group struggle to dominate some countries, pitting Catholics against Protestants and vice versa.  Allen defines persecutions, gives a rather tedious account of persecution continent by continent and then cuts out myth from fact. He also delves into the repercussions that result from persecution.
      It was startling to say the very least to read of atrocities too great for anyone to bear. The better part of the book was absolutely awful to read, though not of any fault of Mr. Allen's writing. Rather it was the nature of the work that made this volume at times downright dreadful.
     It is hard to say that The Global War on Christians is a good book in the enjoyable sense. The content is awful, though thorough. I am glad to have read it page by page coming to question what I know of the world around me in contrast to the world at large. This book looks at Christians, yet it never negates the value of any people group, while still calling out certain groups (even Christians) for their hatred. I am wiser for reading this work and certainly more aware of what our brothers and sisters endure all for the name of Christ.
     The Global War on Christians is a wonderful book as it will give you a new or renewed sense of awe for what other Christians are willing to endure. You may even question the depth of your faith. More than likely, some scenarios you read of will make you uncomfortable. However, I hope this book will reach the hands of millions and give a voice to the voiceless.

You can read the first chapter here.

Purchase at Amazon through here.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Depression- To Hell and Back

slipping, falling, crashing...
grasping at air
struggling, flopping, gasping
searching for what's not there.

     Even as a follower of Christ I certainly have my moments. I despise that others think Christians are immune to depression or that depression is simply a matter of spiritual ills. I don't mean I am having an oh-how-the-skies-are-gray kind of day, but the clinical depression variety, the kind where the cloud just doesn't lift, the all-consuming-"I need help" type.
     Here's the thing, if I were to completely remove Christ from the equation I doubt I would be here now. It would be so easy to succumb to my suicidal fantasies. Given, it is scary to say that out loud. But, truth be told, depression is more than a black cloud hanging around and millions of others silently suffer. It can become a soul-consuming, heart-wrenching, life-paralyzing hell. There I said it, it is hell. Sometimes the eternal escape route is very tempting. I scare myself.
     It is difficult to motivate myself to do anything when the depression is severe. At times, I despise myself. I have great intentions. Every day I have a plan. I have a to-do list. Yet, when intentions are paralyzed by a wanting sense of purpose life itself becomes a chore. Feeding my children and washing laundry seem to be monumental feats for the day. Those seem so minor, but at times those are the small victories for someone suffering through depression. 
     When in reality, it is the difficult circumstances I truly despise. I am envious of those that have never been in the pit, grasping for hope and gasping in despair. I worship the days that were clearly illuminated before me, when His joy was tangible and peace a calming strength in the midst of life.  I can give myself pep talk after pep talk, knowing a new day will dawn if only I can get through today and still feel as if I am drowning in life.
     Sure it may seem like nonsense if you have never dealt with these health issues, but please acknowledge my feelings. Acknowledge the feelings of others as you never know what is going on in the inside. Clinical depression warps my thinking. It is tunnel vision of sorts. The other day I was with my family at the park watching the kids play. I often enjoy watching children explore and play, but with depression it is hard to even process what I am seeing because the focus is on my feelings. I am numb to the world.
     It wasn't long ago when my vision was powerful enough to enliven my sense of being. The days flew by with activity and love. When clinical depression arises, my path is clouded by a fog that eventually settles into a blinding thickness and light is lost. The days crawl by and I wonder if I have fulfilled any purpose. I long for the glimpses of my God through the day, be it from the laughter of my children to a sunset only possibly painted by the Creator to a moment that hope filters in through the night. Of course, my entire day is filled with Him, it is simply easy for me to miss.
     I want so desperately to enjoy life. I have nothing to complain about in general. My family is healthy, we have a home and food and a Father that loves us. So why is it this demon can steal my joy like a thief in the night? Depression is a battle- a battle I choose to fight. I hope and pray that someday I will be able to encourage others again. I always say that our pain is never in vain.
     Here I sit, embarrassed by my mental health. Yet, my desire to share with others, to bring an awareness to the cause and dream to inspire lead me, oblige me to open my soul up.  I have been through these grounds before and I implore any of you reading this to get help if you can relate. I pray that there will be a day where the Light shines again in your life. I pray it for mine. Christ will never leave nor forsake us. I rest in His promise. Today was a particularly hard day to rest. My soul seems to scream for rest even though the offer is staring me in the face. Twenty years of battling and again the battle rages on. Victory will be mine (and if need be, yours too).