Fear and Refocus

Dear fear and anxiety, I will not let you hold us back and keep us from experiencing all God and life has for us!!!

Fear, anxiety and circumstances can affect how we view life, and our relationships with others and with God. They can potentially get in the way of what’s best for us as our main focus can change and we feed our fear and anxiety as opposed to what we should be feeding, for instance, into our relationships.  But, as we all know; worrying is easy and can be hard to fight. When we’ve got the news on the TV and radio and all over social media, negativity, sadness and worry is hard to avoid! But this fear and worry can cause so much harm and prevents how God wants to use you. Especially when we develop a desire for something that is unable to fulfil us. For instance, alcohol, sex, drugs and food. As you are probably more than aware, these may offer a short term fix (so to speak) but in the long run, these are bad for our health and well-being and can also result in further problems.

But the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.
Mark 4:19

So we need to do the opposite and do things that will help us in the long term, emotionally, physically and spiritually. When we do this we can then be used by God and our lives will flourish and be blessed. I’m not saying everything in the world and in our lives will be perfect, it won’t. But what it will do is help us in how we respond to what life has in store for us and so we become more resilient and we learn to experience his peace and joy amidst our own and the worlds situations.

Photo by dave jack on Pexels.com

As Jesus tells us in Luke chapter 12;

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life ? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Do you want to be less fearful and experience less anxiety and worry? I certainly do! But the only way that will really alleviate these, as opposed to those ‘quick fixes’ mentioned earlier, is to read over and over and over, in meditation. Immerse your self, print out, have scripture posted somewhere in your home where you can see it. So we can remind ourselves of them when you feel fear and anxiety creeping in.

We can use this time in isolation to work on our relationships with others and come closer to our God. He loves us and wants us to spend time treasuring Him and meditation, prayer and reading His word is perfect for this.

Here are some other scriptures on fear, anxiety and worry to meditate on;

  • So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
    Isaiah 41:10
  • Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. Psalms 55:22
  • Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6
  • In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him. Psalms 89:7
  • For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7
Meditate

So, lets remember:

1. God already has our needs in mind.
2. Set our focus on Him.
3. Store up our treasures in Heaven.

And most importantly; cast your cares to God and God will take care of everything else.

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Covid-19, Illness, Anxiety & the Bible

With this corona virus pandemic going on at the moment there is a lot of panic and anxiety about. Panic buying, closures and advice to avoid of public places, encouragement to self- isolate, warning to the vulnerable; over 70’s and those with other conditions, esp lung conditions like COPD, asthma etc, it’s no doubt the anxiety of individuals around the globe has increased! In addition to this, there are, in fact, links between physical health problems, including disabling conditions, and the experience of mental health problems (Naylor et Al, 2012) This is because, Illness, or disability can be seen as a loss, a loss in the terms of independence, mobility and freedom. Especially when social isolation is happening, as it prevents our usual access to everyday life and can even lead to loneliness, especially in those already living alone.

I’m definitely not going to say to carry on as though nothings happening and not take the advice from the government, because that would be stupid! We can’t deny the facts and statistics and ignore whats happening around us, as that could end badly. What i will try and do though is to help those who are suffering with the anxiety of it all. This is through personal experience too, as my 11 year old is asthmatic and I’ve been worrying today too, hence the drive to write a blog specific to this. But these pointers are to help anyone suffering with any illnesses or anxiety and worry…hopefully!

First things first, as always in my rule book; prayer and meditation. Offer to God ALL your concerns whether you feel they are minute, or too large to be dealt with, or if you think that your particular concern isn’t as bad as those of others. Because, you know what, each concern and need of EVERY individual, are all important to God, and He DOES want to hear them and you to speak to Him.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present you requests to God.” Philippians 4.6

Find scriptures, suited to you at this time, ask God to guide you to them, or check out scriptures on anxiety, then meditate on these. Find a quiet space and repeat His words, scriptures, over and over, trying not to let anything else distract you from focusing on His word and truth. Meditation is great for drawing you close to Him and rekindling the Holy Spirit and His peace and Joy, to absolutely anyone who asks for it, amidst ANY situation.

Peace to all

But, as we go about our daily lives, with children, jobs (whether working from home or not, at this time) housework, etc etc., how do we deal with fear and anxiety, especially if we believe it’s inbuilt in our personalities, or the worry and panic that is put on us through the government and the media at this time, how do we deal with that? This fear and anxiety can be our default, but we can change our way of thinking, our mindset, into thinking a different way. But how do we do this?

This fear can prevent us from living the fullness of life that God had intended for us. But we don’t have to stay in that fear; it can be overcome, with the help of our God.

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self- discipline” 2 Timothy 1.7

So, when fear takes over, our perspectives are distorted and God isn’t first in our minds. The fear and anxiety can settle in and our minds can play havoc and escalate and we might start believing that the worst will happen. Especially, at the moment. But it’s in these times we need to remind ourselves that God can help you, strengthen you and sustain you. We’ve also got to remember that, even when, ourselves or loved ones are sick, lonely, anxious and fearful and it feels like we’re going through dark times, He WILL take care of you. But we’ve got to let Him.

Sick, lonely, anxious

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken” Psalms 55.22

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for i am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41.10

So, in order to answer our earlier question…”How do we do this?” We need to keep Christ at our centre. When we are feeling fearful or anxious, turn our eyes to Him in praise and worship. You will find that fear and anxiety has no place when we do this. Remember the lyrics to that song?…”take the shackles of my feet so i can dance, i just want to praise you” God can remove these shackles, so we can praise Him. Its either fear or praise. We can’t do both at the same time.

I’m not saying there’s a cure for this anxiety, there isn’t really. But Jesus does know what it is you need at any specific time, whether your worried about illness, need that job, that bill needs paying or, well, all of the above! Offer these cares and worries to Him to take care of. Then, let’s try not to let them distract us from His love and His will for us. Keep our eyes fixed on Him.

Any prayer requests feel free to drop me an email via the link below. To hear more about Christianity and improving mental health and well- being, do subscribe to this blog via email, also below. May the Lord bless you.

Accepting the unaccepted

Epiphany

Sometime in October last year, I had an epiphany. I’d been depressed and on antidepressants for 6 months by then, and had spent the majority of my life indoors. This was due to the “incurable” physical health issues (Neurocardiogenic syncope, as mentioned in previous blog posts). This epiphany came one particularly low day. I finally reached a point where I had had enough. I lay on the floor a literally cried out to God. I told him what he already knew; I was desperate not to feel depressed, sad, bitter, and wanting a new body and life anymore. I was fed up with feeling that way and didn’t know how to escape from that darkness and so I surrendered, and did the last thing I knew to do. In the following few weeks, i managed to muster the strength to pick up my bible, start doing devotionals. I used You version and after the first week of forcing myself to do these, I eventually completed them. I then began reading book, had on my shelf for, like, three years and never got round to reading- like the many others i have on the shelf! This one ‘Healing toxic emotions’. Well, as the week went on i heard God speaking to me through the book, clearer and clearer, it was like the author wrote it for me! Here’s just a few choice paragraphs;

“There are adversities you have to go through, and if you allow Him, God is with you in the process. The bible teaches this over and over. It doesn’t say you’ll go around the fire, you’ll miss the fire or get raptured from it. No, it says you’ll go through the fire, but you won’t get burned.” (Isleib)

“If we are going to receive healing, the first breakthrough will have to come in the area of denial. Sometimes it takes a while to break the denial mindset, because if we are living in denial, we’re in fear. We fear what might be underneath our denial and don’t want to face it. Why? Because some of what we are hiding will be difficult to handle emotionally. But you must go there, and God wants you to go there so he can heal your toxic emotions and give you an abundant, wholesome life” (Isleib)

WOW!! Thanks Lord! So as hindsight goes…and as the weeks went on I heard his voice from behind the door getting louder as i began to open it again! Thank you Lord for knocking and waiting for me! (There will be a blog on Revelation 3.20 at some stage too, so keep an eye out if your interested.)

Image result for holman hunt, open the door
Hunt Light of the World

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
Revelation 3:20 NIV

But, as i drew closer to God and began sincerely asking for His help, the more i began to accept the diagnosis i’d been given. As i said before, when we pray God’s response will be one of 3 things; Yes, No or Wait. It’s taken me a long time to get to the point in realising that His answer to my prayers of healing is in fact wait and it is in this waiting we learn to accept this waiting. The epiphany i spoke about earlier was that of “I don’t want to feel like this anymore, and i won’t, but God, i need your help, thank you!”

As i began to let the light in the darkness started to creep away, like the light when you turn a light on in a dark room, the dark disappears from it and the easier it became to accept what is. I learnt to accept that; –It’s actually OK not to be OK -We can and will have questions -We live in a fallen world -Anxiety and depression are not weaknesses -Struggling doesn’t mean you’ve failed -You are human -God loves you

Accept yourself

A new word which i heard recently and want to share is: ‘Flawsome‘, which means that even though you have flaws you are awesome and you are wonderful. So, like the song from the greatest showman, ‘This is Me,’ accept you for being you because, you know what?

“You are fearfully and wonderfully made” Psalm 139.14 and we “can do all this through Him who strengthens [us]” Philippians 4.13

There are no strong people in this world but we can be strong in and with God. And through the Holy Spirit we can still enjoy God’s Peace and Joy despite what our circumstances and situations are. Thank you for that Lord!

Serenity prayerhttps://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/mindfulofchrist.net/279

Breaking Free From Depression- You version
http://bible.com/r/oe Finding the Light in the Darkness- You version
http://bible.com/r/3jb & ‘Healing Toxic Emotions’ Mary ALice Isleib

‘Improving Well-being’

Jumping on the sand

A few years back, during one of my modules with uni, I came across this campaign called ‘The 5 ways to well-being’. (1) This was an eye opener, yet it totally made sense and was so logical I felt I already knew about it! It said that in order to improve your mental health and well-being whether it is suffering or not, or it needs a good ol’ boost or you just want to reinvent your mojo, then applying ‘The 5 ways to well- being’ is key. As you will see, these aspects are important in everybody’s daily lives.


1/ Connect. This is the connection we, as individuals have with other individuals, within our homes and in society. This can include family, friends and acquaintances. This connection with others is so important that without it, one can literally go mad! For instance, Stephen Kings classic, ‘The Shining’, Jack Nicholson plays the part of a writer, who in this novel, isolates himself to write and literally starts going ‘mad’. I did this myself in the past, though not intentionally, the fainting would get so bad sometimes I didn’t leave the flat for weeks on end and, although I had the kids in the evenings and a few friends pop over sometimes I would still feel as though I was climbing the walls! I got to the point where I knew I just needed to see or speak to someone. So, from this 1st point and these examples we can see how important relationships with others are and if your stuck in a rut or feeling alone you can reach out, there is usually someone, even if it’s just a neighbour, someone from your local church; you can contact the minister/ vicar or leadership team and they will come and see/ speak to you or put someone in touch with you. And obviously, God, through Jesus, by means of prayer. He is there for each and everyone of us ALL THE Time and is wanting us to “call” and speak to Him.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, recieves; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened….How much more will your Father in heavengive the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” Luke 11. 9,10 & 13

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
Philippians 4:6

Also, the samaritains on the end of a phone, email, visit or write to them. The number for them is 116123 and they are available 24hours a day on this number.

2/ Be active. This can be anything from something simple like, taking the stairs instead of the lift or finding a new sport/ activity you might enjoy like going to the gym, on a bike ride or kicking a ball about. I used to enjoy going for run with my earphones in listening to lively worship music. Now, as am not able to get out on my own much, I encourage myself to get the exercise mat out and just do some stretching! Which is useful for anyone with disabilities or limitations in their mobility. Just anything that involves moving can increase your health and anything that gets your heart pumping releases endorphins. These, are chemicals in your brain that helps you to ‘feel good’ and the more you move about the more endorphins there are that are floating around in you, therefore lifting your spirits and increasing your mental health and well-being.

Exercise classes

(3) Take Notice. Recognising whats going on in your present; your surroundings, smells, what you can hear can help to strengthen you and broaden your awareness. Apparently, “Studies have shown that being aware of what is taking place in the present directly enhances your well-being and savouring ‘the moment’ can help to reaffirm your life priorities. Heightened awareness also enhances your self-understanding and allows you to make positive choices based on your own values and motivations.” (1) This can be viewed in the secular world as being ‘mindful’. But my theory is that this can be adapted for Christianity, which is what I’ve been practising…

‘Being Mindful of Christ’ This is to do with noticing and being aware of your present surroundings, recognising what’s around us that God has blessed us with. For instance if your sitting in a park, you might notice the trees, greenery, birds, people, sunshine, children playing or at home, you may think of your clothing, furniture; what were they made from that came from the earth, e.g. cotton and wood. Just being still and ‘noticing’ these things, removing and/ or ignoring distractions; phone notifications/ TV/ radio/ people! Most importantly, I believe we need to have our focus on God; being quiet and listening to the Holy Spirit. (I am currently in the process of writing the “Being mindful of Christ” book, if your interested in knowing more feel free to ask by contacting me below but I’m also keeping the Facebook group updated as well).

Take notice/ being mindful

(4) Learn. Learning new things either through daily life encounters and experiences but specifically intentional learning can improve self-esteem and can encourage social interactions and a more active life. There has also been evidence that by engaging in work and educational activities can help in bringing people out of depression. Doing my uni degree has helped me by having a change of focus (from toxic emotions and depressive thoughts). This also supports the suggestion that setting and having goals is associated with having higher levels of well-being, as stated in the Mind web page of ‘5 ways to well-being’. But learning can also be in the form of learning a new language, instrument, sport, short and long courses which can be done at a college, in a local community, adult classes and even online. In addition to this, bible studies are also a great way of reading and learning the bible and about the life of Jesus. This can be done on your own or in groups, you can ask in your local church if you want to be part of a small group- otherwise known as a ‘home group’, ‘care group’ or ‘cell group’. Otherwise daily devotionals can be found online, through UCB radio (2) and other christian organisations and magazines or on appropriate apps, for instance, i use the YouVersion Holy Bible app (3) the plans on there cover a whole range of topics and subjects in relation to the bible.

Design for learning

(5) Give. Giving isn’t just about giving a physical item to someone else but also your time. By being available to others, participating within society and your local community and giving an ‘act of kindness’ to others can also benefit personal well- being. We can do this by volunteering in a charity shop, helping someone cross the road, doing some shopping for someone or asking at church if there is anything you can help with, there’s usually something, for instance, helping with refreshments, welcoming, setting up or assisting with the PA. The possibilities and opportunities are endless, you just need to look around and ask and the chances are.

So, by applying these five suggestions my life, I began to see the benefits in my own mental health and wellbeing and with this I came to discover more about Christ and my goals and purpose within my life too and so can we all. Until next time, blessings.

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(1) https://www.mind.org.uk/workplace/mental-health-at-work/taking-care-of-yourself/five-ways-to-wellbeing/ (2) https://www.ucb.co.uk/read (3) https://www.YouVersion.com

The Road to Healing

Path is bleak but there is light at the end of it

So at the end of the last blog ‘Changing focus- Psalm 4’ it said ” What does the road in that valley look like for you? How do we get to that point of healing for our physical (illnesses), emotional (mental health) or spiritual (wars)?” Now, i figured the best way to tackle this question is head on, talking about how to get to the point of being ready for a healing. But to also be aware that healing can also be a continuous journey, of which I’ve had to learn the hard way. As said before, God’s answer, including in healing, will be yes, no or wait, but just to add to this His response to healing could be that of a continuous journey too and as we journey through our lives with Him it’s in that journey that helps us in our healing, as we get to know Jesus more and become more like Him.

To explain this I’m going to be be totally open and honest with my path, in order to share with ya’ all how i got from where I was to where I am now. As hindsight is a wonderful thing! I have had some incredibly dark times, but looking back, God did have me in His hands, though in these times I didn’t see it! *Trigger warning, possibly, as will be using some quotes from my diary. Apologies in advance!

So, life from March until October, was pretty horrific, I won’t go into details but this is one of my diary entry’s which pretty much covered it all…

So, that’s pretty dark eh? I’m sorry, buts that’s just the way it was from time to time but I certainly knew that I didn’t want to stay in that place! It was down to writing the diary that i came to accept that something was wrong and I came to realise it was more than just sadness I was experiencing and I just knew that I couldn’t deal with it on my own, but didn’t want to tell anyone close to me for fear of hurting or upsetting them. I needed to break through that denial and fear and face my pain and negative emotions and reach out for help. I found somewhere local where there was an online application form for a self referral. This one was Health in Mind (In the UK) (1) There are other options for other areas of the UK and other online options for other counties as well, you can also enquire at your own surgery and be referred by your GP, for free options otherwise private, paid for, options, with no or much shorter waiting lists, are also available in this Counselling Directory (2) Others would be available wherever you are in the world as this one is jut fr the UK. I’m so glad i did this as God wanted to heal me from these emotions and that’s what He wants for you too, in order to move on in your journey with Him towards a more abundant life.

I found that counselling was a great help for me. I was lucky to have a few people around me, who would come and see me a couple of times a month but it was also helpful to have that outside help from someone who doesn’t know you who you can feel safe enough to talk to about things you may not be comfortable telling others about. I would definitely recommend this and other talking therapies, which can also be found online or from your local surgery. There are also apps which can help as well, for example, I used Calm Harm (3) which involves distraction techniques which helped me a little, at my lowest points. Though it also involved a lot of willpower and prayer too! Support groups can also be helpful, you can find these within your local area or even on social media, which are both additional ways to feel safe and talk to others going through similar things as you. I belong to a few social media ones, for some of the issues in my life. Though keep your eyes out for whether the group is private or public before sharing, as i may have made that mistake before as well!! You will be surprised at what’s available, just search the groups and pages, and if not then why not start one? I began: ‘Mindful of Christ-Improving Mental Health’ (4) https://www.facebook.com/groups/2507812029435244/ Which is where i started writing about what is says on the tin! Christianity and mental health, as i believe this to be important for our well-being and often missed within the church. It is a place for people to feel safe to share and support each other as it is a private group. It also includes, scriptures, meditations, prayers and devotionals. Feel free to request to join and invite others who may need that extra support.

Image result for support groups

As for the neurocardiogenic syncope, that was the root of all of it. This is defined as a syndrome in which “triggering of a neural reflex results in a usually self-limited episode of systemic hypotension characterized by both bradycardia (asystole or relative bradycardia) and peripheral vasodilation. (5). So fainting. And when it happens it can affect me for a few hours, a few days, weeks or even months. It’s been happening on and off for 21 years now and It was July 2019 they gave me a diagnosis, which would have been helpful but followed by the consultant saying “there is no treatment or cure for it” came as a blow. Now there is a reason for telling you all this, as these periods of time stuck indoors and having my independence and pride challenged has had a knock on effect and impacted on my mental health. Last year was exceptionally bleak as (due to the syncope) I only just passed my driving test Dec 2018 and by March that was taken away from me. As I said in the diary entry, I realised I wasn’t just ‘sad’ and that I needed additional support. This realisation occurred as i have previously been studying a mental health module within my degree in 2017 and have experienced depression previously as well, in 2014 and episodes through my late teens and twenties. It took me to study this to realise that there is absolutely no shame in this, so if you are slightly concerned about your mental health, whether your a Christian or not, please seek that extra help and support.

Admist these times on occasion, I mustered up the tiny shred of strength and the seed of faith I had and literally got down on my knees and cried to the Lord. I wanted to get to the point of acceptance but couldn’t do it with Him. It was like the footprints poem, I felt totally alone, that my prayers were hitting a brick wall and that i was just left in the darkness, but, again, hindsight is a wonderful thing, He WAS carrying me and still is. In those times when you feel the same, just remember He is there, He does love you and He will never leave you. ” Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31.6

Footprints Poem Wallpaper 2362x3543
(6)





To sum up this part, it is clear to me that acceptance of the situation and circumstances and the realisation that outside help and support may be just what you/ we need. By living in denial or covering up our emotional difficulties with addictions and facades we aren’t dealing with the issues and healing begins when we are willing to change ourselves. So, please don’t feel ashamed, alone or even a burden (yes, i am talking to myself as well!) But go, go and get any help you feel is right for you, there is so much of it available and accessible these days and your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Let’s reassure one other that it is actually OK not to be OK and to help and support one another to actually become OK. Either way God loves you.

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(1) https://www.healthinmind.org.uk/news/42-new-online-self-referral (2) https://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/ (3) https://calmharm.co.uk/ (4) https://www.facebook.com/groups/2507812029435244/ (5) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC506859/ (6) https://wallpapersafari.com/w/5kusDR

Changing Focus- Psalm 4

Psalm 4.1: Answer me when i call to you my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer

This prayer has been muttered by myself as well as David and, i expect, many of you as well. It’s a prayer of desperation. When we are going through those difficult situations, troublesome circumstances or life feels as though you’ve been walking through that valley for a LONG time and your wondering if it will just ever end! It shows that whoever we are we will most likely experience these times at some-point in our lives, no one is exempt. It’s even says that “One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives.” (WHO, 2019) Such a high number! But it shows that we are not alone. Though most of us feel as though we are. It’s at those times we need to remind ourselves that God IS there for us, despite how we feel.

Toxic emotions

David must have felt the distance between him and God as well, otherwise he wouldn’t have said “Answer me.” He seems desperate for God to hear him. I don’t blame Him! There’s been times where I thought He couldn’t hear me or even not listening to me or responding to my pleads of prayer and it just felt as though they were just simply hitting a brick wall! But then…

Psalm 4.3: Know that the Lord has set apart His faithful servant for himself; the Lord hears when i call to him.

We need to remind ourselves that it wasn’t just David, we are also His faithful servants. No matter what I say, I wont be able to convince anyone one this, is it up to each of us to keep on going with our relationship with God and to read His word, in order to really know that He does hear you. I’ve heard somewhere that to whatever we ask of Him the answer will either be “yes”, “no” or “wait”. Its this waiting that can be a struggle. But we need to persevere and press on toward the goal (in our case, eternity with Him in heaven!)

But how though??

Psalm 4.4: Tremble and do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.

We literally need to run from the enemy, temptations and desires of the flesh. Oh, and this may well not be easy! It’s like with addictions, in order to get rid of one thing it is easiest when something else is put in that place. For example, when people fast, meals and food is generally replaced with prayer, worship and mediation. So if we want to not sin, we can turn our attention onto God, putting Him first, and replace what we want to get rid of with prayer, worship and meditation. In doing this it “will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones” (Proverbs 3.8). Searching our hearts and being silent can mean accepting your thoughts, feelings and emotions as they come and by not clutching onto them or dismissing them as both of these can be poisonous for our souls. But recognising them and where they came from, if possible, then offer them to God and listening to the Holy Spirit.

Psalm 4.5: Offer the sacrifices of the righteous and trust in the Lord.

SO many time in the bible do we hear that phrase, “trust in the Lord.” I counted 37! By trusting Him we will need to surrender ourselves to Him and trust the plans He has for us, because He does have them, even if we don’t see it! For example, David. He experienced 13 years of misery and according to today’s psychology he would have been extremely likely to have suffered depression. But he had learnt to harness His emotions (Wommack, A) and with the help of the Holy Spirit inside him he chose to rejoice, the opposite to what his circumstances and emotions were telling him! Instead of walking in his flesh he chose to walk in the Spirit, he chose to control his emotions by changing his focus from all of the negative surrounding him. I’m not saying it’s easy, because it really isn’t! Emotions will be there, but we can choose how we respond to them, by changing our focus from the toxic ones to focusing on the goodness of God. And by doing this wherever we are in our lives; within that valley or darkness we can experience His peace and keep us safe.

Psalm 4.8: In peace i will lie down and sleep, for you alone Lord, make me dwell in safety.

What does the road in that valley look like for you? How do you get to that point of healing from the emotions, situations and physical garbage? I talk about this in the next blog…

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References: https://www.who.int/whr/2001/media_centre/press_release/en/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nU5YcrM7JWY

I would just like to thank everyone of you for reading Mindful of Christ blogs as, as you can see we have made the top 75 list for mental health blogs on the web! So thank you all very much! To see this and other it can be found here: https://blog.feedspot.com/mental_health_blogs/ Please keep supporting and sharing where appropriate! Blessings to you all. xxx

Life is a Journey

(Canvas in my front room)

I wanted to write something on a personal level and how I (try to) overcome these. In hope that it can help others experiencing low moods, and depression as well.

Does anyone sometimes just think, if we can just get through this situation or just to the weekend? Or if I could just finish this degree or be able to drive or just get a cure for this illness I would be happy?

Then I thought, that these are things that may or may not ever happen and if they do whether tomorrow, next week, next month, year or decade that would be in the future (and that’s if the future comes or the second coming happens 1st!)

Surely we need to embrace the present. I/ we need to be grateful what we have in the present. As opposed to waiting for something to happen or change to be happy.

And I am, I am so grateful and blessed for my wonderful children, my family and friends, my home, warmth and have food in the cupboards. It can help us to turn our thinking from what we don’t have to what we do. A little task each day: think about, even write down 3 things you are thankful for.

We also need to learn to embrace life as it is. How though? That is the question!

Living in the moment and ‘mindfulness’ seems to be becoming ever more popular in this day and age in the secular world. But perhaps we can use some of these concepts and turn it to living with God in the moment or becoming Mindful of Christ.

According to Psychology Today, “Mindful people are happier, more exuberant, more empathetic, and more secure. They have higher self-esteem and are more accepting of their own weaknesses. Anchoring awareness in the here and now reduces the kinds of impulsivity and reactivity that underlie depression, binge eating, and attention problems.”

When I’m being “mindful of Christ” I sit comfortably in a quiet place, no distractions and spend some time praying, asking Him to direct my thoughts and then listen and wait for a response. Then with what he says to me, perhaps a verse, I meditate on it; Just repeating it over and over and if I get distracted or my thoughts go wandering off, I just gently bring it back to His word or just simply talk to Him again.

Sometimes just listening to some calming worship music or specifically designed Christian meditations on Abide. Just sitting and being with Him. Quoting from Abide… “how amazing is that?”

Personally recommended scriptures to Meditate on:

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13

The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33.14

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalms 46.1

I will say of the Lord , “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Psalms 91:2

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors and gain an overwhelming victory through Him who loved us [so much that He died for us].
Romans 8:37

But what do we do when were feeling down, depressed or anxious? I don’t know how others experience it as we’re all different, but I just struggle being myself, not wanting to talk to anyone else, or if I do, the mask goes on and being normal or “ok” becomes a very convincing act, hopefully! Then when no one is about and were stuck with our own thoughts the darkness creeps in. What then? I might not be “in the mood” or not wanting to do anything. But what good is that to ourselves or anyone else? I have created a playlist of songs for these times, I just need to force myself to play them! In the beginning I would listen to some really depressing music, stick the earphones on and just dwell. Now, I’ve changed the music, to the more calming, peaceful, encouraging kind.

My top 10 favs are;

1/ You Say- Lauren Daigle
2/ I don’t have the answers- We are Messengers 3/ Oh Love Supreme- Andy Squyres 4/ Surrounded (Fight my battles)- Michael W. Smith 5/ Trust in You- Lauren Daigle 6/ Just be Held- Casting Crowns 7/ Fear is a Liar- Zach Williams 8/ Maybe its Ok- We are Messengers 9/ Praise you in this storm- Casting Crowns 10/ Love broke thru- Toby Mac

These songs are encouraging for me as they recognise that there are trials, difficulties and storms in this world and in our individual lives but remind us that God is there for us amidst these, as reflected in Psalm 23. What I learnt from these songs is that maybe it is ok not to be ok and we may not have any answers to certain experiences but if we trust in Him we can be held! So, speaking to myself as well, lets turn to and hold on to Him and allow His love to break through, because after everything, we have that.

Any questions, prayer requests or if you just want to say “Hi” then do comment below or use the link to email me and if your on facebook, do join us there as well.

Blessings xx

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https://abide.co/

http://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/articles/200811/the-art-now-six-steps-living-in-the-moment

Mental Health Awareness Day

So, as its Mental health awareness day in the UK, I felt I should blog something. But I actually left the house today, for my second counselling session, so have been feeling a bit meh since and not in the right mood to write anything. Then I realised, that that was probably the point of this blog! To share personal experiences and hopefully to help others.

Mental health awareness day is as it states, to help share awareness of mental health issues. These issues can be seen in the image at the top of the page and I’m going to be talking a bit about just some of these, but not in any particular order.

1/ Stigma, is one of the biggest reasons why people don’t share or talk to others when experiencing mental health issues of any sort, but particularly depression. I didn’t want to tell anyone for months, looking back, I feel sorry for my family and friends as I only answered the phone when I wanted, avoided socialising when I could and didn’t go to church for ages either! I became a bit of a hermit! Then one day a month or two ago I realised I needed help. I knew I had to reach out to those who cared but was worried about how they would react and what they would think of me. But. on a particulary dark day, I felt I had no choice, I reached out to a few friends, I came to admit I needed them and couldn’t do this alone. It was hard to describe how I was feeling, as wasn’t even sure myself, but got there in the end and it was a relief. I felt vulnerable and weak, but they didn’t, they weren’t upset, they didn’t disapprove nor were they ashamed of me, in fact they gave me a hug and told me they were there for me.

So I just wanted to say, please reach out. You are not alone, people do understand. You might even be surprised!

2/ Emotions are all a part of being human, they are inbuilt in everyone of us and are stimulated in certain situations and experiences whether we let them show themselves (or not)! Sadly, a lot of people believe that having emotions or “being emotional” demonstrates vulnerability and weakness. But this comes back to stigma and how we think others perceive us when we show these emotions, or maybe this is how we see those who do express their emotions. Which is why there needs to be more awareness of these and mental health issues, so it can become the norm to talk about how we are feeling and what were experiencing. It’s certainly nothing to be ashamed of! Though there is such thing as toxic emotions. These are when certain emotions as exasperated and take over our logical thinking. For example anger, this in itself is a normal reaction to certain situations and as long as its dealt with and doesn’t have any knock on effect or bring on any harm to ourselves or others. Another example is sadness, when I went through a few situations earlier in the year it resulted in me feeling sad and disappointed for a while after a moth or two I realised it was more than that, it was getting darker in my world and I couldn’t fight it anymore, I realised something wasn’t right, so I went to the doctor who confirmed I was depressed. Now writing this I’m thinking, why am I sharing this? But, again, why not? It feels taboo, but in reality its more common than we actually realise. Back to the point, sadness becomes a toxic emotion. It’s not always recognised, I’m just glad I figured it out, maybe studying mental health last year helped me to recognise this. But it’s good to keep tabs on how we are feeling. I figured though that the best way of dealing with things is to recognise our emotions then if they are what we perceive as being negative, to offer them to God. My new moto: PRAY about your fears and worries, MEDITATE on His word, REFLECT in His truth and ABIDE in Christ.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:7

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV

“In your anger do not sin” : Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,”
Ephesians 4:26 NIV

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Psalms 23:4 NIV

3/ Awareness is an element of mental health which we’ve touched on a few times now and so it’s helpful to be aware of your own and others around you. It’s easy enough to recognise somebody’s physical disability, not so easy to recognise invisible disabilities including mental health difficulties. So we need to be aware of other people’s feelings. We can be on public transport or in a queue in tescos and not know what the person behind us is going through or experiencing, so let’s just be kind to one another and ourselves.

So, stay aware, be aware of yourself and others around you, be kind.

Any questions (I will try and answer) or prayer requests do email me and if your on Facebook, we have a page there to, feel free to join us. Use the link below.

Until next time, Blessings

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The Beginning

It was about a year ago, God filled me with this idea to write about mental health and Christianity and how to improve and preferably overcome mental health issues eg. depression and anxiety by focussing on God. I figured, as the world is using mindfulness and meditation more, we as Christians (or as I prefer to use the phrase friends of Jesus, but for easier writing will say “Christians”) can become more mindful of Him and meditate more on His word and truth.

Then, back in March and since then, I had another dose of poor health (been on and off for 21 years) but this time I was finally given a diagnosis, Neurocardiogenic Syncope (fainting) and I was told by the DVLA I cant drive anymore (only passed before Christmas 2018) and the cardiologist told me there is no treatment or cure for it…oh, cue another bout of depression. I thought I was over all that 7 years ago, but the sadness from these events turned into something more. Anyway, I’m telling you all this for a reason. God clearly had other plans, which I didn’t realise until about a month ago I felt like I turned a corner with the help of God and anti- depressants (I am aware of what some people think of these medications but I do believe that God gave us humans and the resources to create meds to help as well, but maybe not as a long term thing!) These plans, I believe, were to actually get writing about how he has helped me with my mental health, now and in the past, and help others with theirs. These following points cover the reasoning behind this blog:

1/ Now is better than any to open up and be honest with myself, and others that I’ve been struggling because that’s the only only way we can improve it; by talking about it.

2/ The stigma behind mental health is so immense people don’t talk about it!

3/ To help others, as 1 in 4 people will experience depression/ anxiety at some point in their lives!!

4/ I believe that this issue enough isn’t addressed enough within the church (though not my church-they have been great in helping me through this dark time!) but church in the general term.

5/ To help encourage and support each other in our individual journeys

Again, feel free to ask for prayer, via the links on this page & /or email.

Blessings

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Introductions

Hey everyone, I thought I should introduce myself before starting.

My name is Lauren and I live in East Sussex, England. I am a mum of two wonderful children, 15 and 11years old, who are my life! I became a born again Christian 14 years ago at approx 2am! Although life has had its ups and downs, My faith has remained. Though, I can’t say it hasn’t been tested!

I am in the 6th and final year of a Health and Social care honours degree… Graduation day is insight (at last!) For this the modules I focused on are ‘social care’ and ‘mental health.’ A subject I’m likely to bring up a few times in these blog posts!

Feel free to ask questions, request prayers or just say “hi” on this email address: mindfulofchrist@gmail.com.

If you on Facebook, you can follow us here: https://m.facebook.com/groups/2507812029435244?ref=share

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