By Takiela Bynum©
Depression is an unchecked sadness with a murderous intent. It will take possession of the mind and destroy the life of anyone. It does not matter if you are involved directly or indirectly with depression; if you are in its path you will feel its fury. Depression has no regard of social, economic, or religious status. It sees no race, gender, or creed. It renders its victims helpless. It’s the executioner of hope, and where there is no hope (vision) the people perish. Proverbs 29:18 KJV Without mercy, depression will devour you, like a predator ravaging its prey. It’s violent and gruesome.
The remedy for depression is the praising of God. The Bible instructs us to clothe ourselves with the garment of praise when we have a spirit of heaviness (depression). Isaiah 61:3 NIV In that passage of scripture, a lot of exchanges take place, beauty for ashes, praise for heaviness, and joy for mourning. I refer to this as the Lord’s Exchange Program. What sets this program apart from any other exchange program (aside from the fact that it’s from God) is that it has free will terms. Normally, exchange programs are temporary with predetermined time restraints. However, our God has a flawless way of doing things and His exchange program allows you the option of permanently swapping the bad for the good, a sacred unveiling of light that has been shrouded in darkness.
I am not, by any means, implying that this exchange will be easy but with faith (in God) and a willing heart it can be accomplished. If it’s not easily given it will not be easily obtained; in other words, you have to fight for your freedom (whether it be depression, drugs, or destructive attitude, etc.). It’s a daily battle. After you obtain it, you must maintain it as well, which requires more work.
Although you may not be strong enough to fight depression on your own, you know the One who is…God. In your weakness God’s strength is perfect. When you are weak, it is then that you become strong (in Christ).
By Susan Norris
How many of you are mothers? I can honestly say I experienced indescribable joy the day I learned I would be a mother. I bought the books on what to expect through my pregnancy, I followed my doctors’ instructions, and did what I could to take care of myself.
I surrounded myself with other moms, through playgroups and such. I wanted to learn all I could. I loved going to my children’s sporting events and cheering them on or baking cookies for their events. I have loved being a mom.
Well, last month I entered a new phase of life: the empty nest. I took my baby to college and came home to an empty home…. a painfully quiet, empty home. You know the kind of quiet I’m talking about? The kind of quiet that is so loud, it hurts your ears.
There are no books to read or classes to take to help with this transition. You’re caught between a tug and a pull, excitement for their adventures and saddened by your loss of the day to day-ness of life with them. To be completely frank, it’s not for the faint of heart, this thing called motherhood.
Walking through the empty nest for all of about a month now, I’ve learned a few things I’d like to share with those of you who haven’t taken this step yet. Hopefully, this will encourage so when your time comes, you’ll thrive.
- They never stop needing you as a mom. It may look different and it may even feel different, but they will still need you. It may feel like you’ve done your job and you’re finished, but they will call or write or in some cases show up on the doorstep. When they do, listen, not just to the words but the real message they’re conveying. They may already know what you’re going to say. It may seem like a ridiculous phone call to you, but it’s not. They may just need to hear you say one more time,
“You can do it!”
While my daughter is a freshman this year, my son is a junior in college and he still calls home to talk through things with me and/or his father. He asks for assistance with fine tuning his resume for internships. He asks for advice on how to handle situations with friends. He’s a man now, so he isn’t coming for our permission or for us to spoon feed him how to handle things. He comes as a man of God seeking wise counsel. You’ll find the relationships shift from parent to friend without even realizing it, and it’s a beautiful thing.
- They love mail, and not just in their email mailbox. They actually get excited about envelopes and packages from home that say,
“I’m thinking of you! You matter to me. Here’s a reminder that those of us back home are rooting for you.”
Each time I’ve sent something, I’ve received a phone call (that’s one way to get them to call) telling me thanks. One child may be a little more exuberant than the other, but it matters to them all, even those who don’t say so. Whether it’s cookies from home or a notebook they left behind and realized they needed, they love having that tangible connection to home.
- If you take the time to do what Deuteronomy 6:6-9 commands you to do, you will see fruit from it.
“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
You may have wondered if they ever really listened to you or were you just talking to the air, but you’ll find some things did stick. My daughter called me when she visited a student ministry on campus and the person teaching the small group said something she questioned. When I asked her to explain what happened, she began sharing what he said and then providing the Scriptural references that pointed out where his teaching was flawed. She knew she needed to confront this issue, but she just needed someone to remind her that she could do it and she was correct in her theology. While she was on one end of the phone struggling with how to handle the situation in an honoring manner, I was on the other end praising God that the teaching and the Scripture had taken root through the years.
I don’t know where you are in your journey as a parent. It really doesn’t matter, because our response should be the same. We take a lesson from Abraham in Genesis 22:1-18. Abraham loved Isaac more than life itself, but he knew that ultimately, Isaac belonged to God. So, in an act of obedience, Abraham placed Isaac on the altar of God.
What about you? Have you fully surrendered your children to the Lord? He is worthy of our acts of obedience and He is faithful with all that is His. And after all, they’re already His, He’s just loaned them to us for a little while.
By Amy Sullivan
Instagram is the rage.
In case you haven’t heard of Instagram, it’s a fun little app, which allows users to take, edit, and share photos in—well—an instant. Get it? Instant? Instagram.
Instagram also happens to be the new darling of social media. In fact, Instagram is clawing its way to the top of social media favorites among tween and teen users. Instagram is even giving the powerful social media kings, YouTube and Facebook a run for it.
Instagram is so big that a study conducted in June of 2014. Instagram Demographic Statistics showed over 51% of high school seniors use Instagram daily. That’s every day. That’s Monday through Sunday. That’s a lot of photo taking and sharing.
As our daughters consider hightailing it to Instagram, we need to make sure we know about this hot photo app and work to keep our girls safe.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the common beliefs about Instagram true and false style.
I don’t have to worry about Instagram because my daughter doesn’t have a phone. False. Users can set up an account and access Instagram from a variety of devices including ipads, ipods, and Kindle Fires.
Instagram is just about sharing pictures. False.
Instagram is like any other form of social media. It was created so people can share and be social. Users are allowed to “like,” “comment,” and “tag” other people.
Instagram is a good way for my tween to try out social media without jumping in with both feet. False.
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act states it is illegal to collect online information about children under the age of thirteen. Therefore, if your girl is under the age of thirteen, she is not supposed to have an Instagram account.
My daughter’s account is set to private. Therefore, only her followers can access her pictures. True, but not far from false. When an Instagram account is set to private, other users have to request to see pictures. However, ANY Instagram user can request access to your girl’s photos (even that creepy guy from down the street). So while your daughter’s photos may be private now, it only takes one click, and they are not.
So, I guess what you are saying is that I should never allow my daughter to get an Instagram account. Completely false! Instagram is super fun. I have an account.
It’s where I put pictures of the cute ice cream truck that cruises my neighborhood, Shakespeare in the Park, and long games of backgammon.
But what I am saying about Instagram is: let’s keep ourselves educated so we can keep our daughters safe.
Your turn. What do you know about Instagram? Would you consider allowing your daughter to get an account?
Want to hear other mothers and daughters talk about Instagram? Check out this discussion. Make sure to watch the ending where the girls ask if they interact with strangers on Instagram. Orlando-area moms surprised by their tweens confessions about Instagram
Author of When More is Not Enough. Amy writes for oodles of print and online publications and loves speaking with groups of any size. Connect with her online at AmyLSullivan.com.
By Kim Chaffin
Sing it with me…
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things…
Some of our favorite things we may not realize are our favorite things until they are gone. For me, the song goes more like this:
Dirty diapers and crumbs on the counter
Bright mismatched socks and sticky little fingers
Trucks and dolls all over the floor
These are a few of my favorite things…
My 22-year-old son just pointed out to me that my version of the song does not rhyme. It’s okay, you get the point.
What used to bug me when my kids were little, I now long to have back again. It is funny how time changes your perspective. Too many times, I got upset over a wet towel laying on the floor because my kids seemed too lazy to hang up their towels.
That train of thought was turned upside down the first time my son came home from college. He ‘gave’ me some mom/son time and then out the door he went to be with his friends. Later, as I walked into his room and grabbed some laundry, I found his wet bath towel on the floor. As I picked it up, my frustration took a 180-degree turn and I stood there in tears thanking God that I had a child to pick up a wet towel after. Sadly, it took me seventeen years to realize that blessing.
We can so quickly get caught up in doing the work around the house that we miss priceless opportunities. We often forget to slow down and play with our kids.
My son’s girlfriend reminded me that you didn’t really have a childhood unless you jumped from one couch to the next to avoid the lava. As parents, we need to stop and play with our children from time to time. Those simple games like avoiding the lava are what our children will never forget. A spotless kitchen will not be their favorite memory.
As we run around the house cleaning up after our children, remember to count it is as a blessing and not a job. What small effort would it take to start looking at the mess of toys, the fingerprints, and crumbs as a gift rather than a job? I have a few friends that have lost children and I know they would love to have the gift of a messy house to clean up. Stopping whatever pressing thing they were doing to play a game of hot lava with the child they have lost would be a priceless gift.
Last weekend we had a sweet little boy named Sam stay with us. One of the first things he noticed was the different sizes of the tiles in our floor. Sam announced to everyone that the big tiles were safe and the small tiles were lava. As the weekend went by, and I got busy, I would remember what he said and quickly adjust my feet on the tiles to avoid the imaginary hot lava. Sam seemed so happy when I remembered his game.
Looking back, I see times I missed special moments with my kids. I thought I had to do the dishes right away rather than sit on the floor with them and play for a few minutes. To every new mom, my words of wisdom are, “don’t be too quick to wipe the fingerprints off your windows. You will miss them someday.” I know that I miss them. I was too quick to wipe off those little reminders of my kids. In time, those reminders were gone.
My family has now learned to humor me when I bring a young child over to my slider door and blow my breath onto the glass so we can make handprints and smiley faces in the steam. Sam and I did that last weekend. And today as I write this, the sun is shining on the marks his little fingers made and I am blessed. I wish I knew then what I know now. I wish I had looked at things that seemed like a job, a hassle at times, as a gift.
Wet towels on the floor
Fingerprints on windows
Laundry piled high and hugs from my kiddos
These are a few of my favorite things
by Brenda L. Yoder
There’s a hanging basket on my porch that’s been a challenge this summer. I can pour lots of water on it, but within minutes the water leaks through the soil. Instead of the soil being saturated, the dirt’s depleted.
For soil to hold water for healthy growth, it needs nutrients. Enriched soil naturally happens with organic materials – dead foliage, food waste and manure. Things that are smelly and gross. When they do their work, the result is beauty, health and vitality.
The words “pain brings beauty”flashed through my mind the other day when water was running off the plant after watering it. Without smelly and gross things in your life, faith is like the flimsy plant – shallow and depleted. You receive the refreshing water Jesus gives, but it doesn’t absorb. It runs off, leaving you longing for more, never quite satisfied.
Is there truth in this analogy? Can pain really bring beauty?
My experience says yes. A friend recently has chosen beauty in the pain of losing a child. A woman diagnosed with cancer soon after her teen daughter became pregnant has moved from hopelessness to joy.
My own experience of allowing God to work through pain has brought a stronger, deeper faith I didn’t know before the hurt. God used the stink and stench of pain to draw our family closer to Him, seeking and experiencing His power, mercy and grace.
Raising daughters is no different. They naturally come with a sweet beauty you don’t want spoiled or corrupted. A beautiful flower that should always bloom brightly. In order for their blooms to be their best, their soil needs to move beyond shallow. Their faith needs to be deepened with a dependence upon Christ when life isn’t good.
I want my daughter to be a strong beauty, not a delicate flower that can’t stand adversity. I want her to be saturated with Living Water that will satisfy. Achieving that means trusting God to work in our daughter’s pain, letting Him work to make her faith rich in the fruit of the Spirit, so only the best things can grow.
Are you willing to do that? Do you struggle with stunting God’s work in your child’s life instead of letting Him grow her through the hard times? How do you handle adversity in your life or your daughter’s? Please share with us – how can we pray for you?
Broken and Beautiful: Brenda has a Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and a BA in Education. As a Parent, Counselor and Educator her ministry is helping moms and daughters navigate the tough stuff of life. Have a question for Brenda? Email her at [email protected]