Mental Health > Image

kate ♠️ spade (TM)

She took her own life and left behind a 13-year-old daughter because her husband wanted a divorce. Suffering from bipolar disease and depression, she was reportedly afraid to ask for help because it might tarnish her brand.

Kate was far more than a brand. She was a daughter, a wife, a mother, a friend, a leader, an entrepreneur, a girl-boss, a go-getter, and many other things. However, even she distilled herself down to a brand. An image. What people would think.

We have placed far too high a value on image, and the cost is peoples’ lives. Why are we afraid to talk about our struggles? Why are we ashamed to feel vulnerable, to ask for help when we need it? To let people know that we are struggling to keep it together? Because the world has told us that it is weak to need others, and that a curated image is more important than being truly known. That we just have to pick ourselves up by our bootstraps and deal with it. We feel so isolated, like everyone else has it all together and we are the lone wolf.

Somehow, what people think of us (our self/brand image) has started to matter more than being healthy for ourselves and the ones we love. Let’s all learn a lesson from Kate’s tragedy. She certainly will be remembered as a brilliant designer. But what matters more is that her family must mourn the loss of her life, her love, her kindness, and her bright light because she didn’t want to dim an image. I guarantee her daughter would rather have her mom than to inherit a savvy brand. In the end, all we have is God and each other. Nothing else matters.

Be good to yourself. Forget your image. Please reach out if you struggle with depression, anxiety, or just feel alone. You are never alone. Give the people in your life the chance to show you that YOU matter to them. Not your image.

In loving memory of Kate Spade,

Amanda

Purpose Your Purpose on Purpose

To find your purpose, you have to do things on purpose. If someone desires to become a medical doctor, he or she cannot just decide that they want to be a doctor and continue to go to Starbucks, drink lattes, and scroll through Instagram all day. They must purpose it in their heart, determine the steps that need to be taken to get on the right path, and then take each step – one by one – to get there. {It’s no coincidence that I just used the word “purpose” three times, each with a different meaning}. 

For this person, Step 1 might be: decide to get a Bachelor of Science degree. Notice I said decide, not get. One step at a time, little grasshopper. They cannot get to Step 2 without going through Step 1.  Likewise, if you are questioning your own purpose or path, you still have to start at Step 1 and then move. Once you start moving, you will likely feel something inside of you shift. If this shift feels like tension, it is probably just some push-back from your old self wanting to feel that good old comfort zone.  Guess what? Keep moving. That comfort zone is nothing more than a trench that you have been laying in and it has been keeping you in the same old place. Do not look back; just keep your head down and keep plowing through the high grass and shrubs to the clearing ahead.

Once you make it past the heavy shrubbery, you may feel like you have reached a place of rest. This is the time period of gathering yourself, your supplies, and making a game plan for the next stretch of brush ahead (again, purpose your purpose on purpose). The dense brush ahead is Step 2. Again, you must go through Step 2 to get to the next step, and so on. You will find that once you jump one hurdle you thought was impossible, getting over the next one feels a bit more familiar. With each obstacle in your path that you must overcome, you may start to grow weary. Do not give in to this feeling, as it is right before the victory that the fighters feel the weakest. Then, at the final pivotal moment of triumph, a surge of adrenaline pushes them through to the destiny that has been calling.    

Feel like you can’t figure out what your Step 1 looks like? Join the club. You are not alone, and neither am I. Do something. Anything. When you start, you will hit moments of “cloudy” — and moments of clarity. Pay attention to them. What makes you feel like it’s too complicated? Is this resistance your trench of “comfort”, or is it simply a stepping stone that requires a little extra effort to get back on the right path? If it’s your “comfort” zone calling you, ignore it. Keep moving. If it’s a hurdle, when you are on the other side you will feel so much stronger. 

Life will not hand you an envelope with “Purpose” written on the front of it. God will not drop a hot lava rock on your head with your “Purpose” engraved on it.  You have to purpose your purpose on purpose.  Meaning, get out there and figure out what Step 1 looks like and DO IT. I’m with you, and most importantly — God is with you! 

~Romans 8:31 (NIV) “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

 

Starting Again

Starting over can be a gift. It can feel very uncomfortable (especially for planning types like myself), but it can also be extremely therapeutic.  Life can be a bit of a head trip sometimes. One day, you feel like you have a rhythm and you think you understand where things are headed, and the next day you receive some news that just makes you question what it’s all about.

Thankfully, my “starting over” is about my career and not about my personal life.  But, for many people, it is extremely personal. Individuals from all walks of life, all levels of financial status, and every background possible will undoubtedly have at least one point of “starting again” in their lives.  Whether it is the death of someone they cherish, the death of a relationship, or the death of a job, everyone has to start again somewhere along the way. The key is one’s perspective.

Many people see the death as a finale.  However, the death of one thing can mean the planting and growth of a new thing.  Take for example, my favorite flower – the tulip.  The tulip is a flower that does not bloom year round.  Once the bulb is planted, the tulip eventually begins to grow.  With care and time, that bulb begins to blossom into a beautiful flower bursting with color.  After a short season (too short in my opinion), the tulip plant begins to wilt and appears to die. It shrivels up and looks like a weed.  During this time, the plant is going through the dormant period of its life cycle.

I once planted tulips and they grew so beautifully, in almost every color of the rainbow.  I took great pride in those tulips as we set my baby daughter in front of them to take some pictures (that baby daughter is now thirteen years old). Sadly, a few months later those amazing tulips began to shrivel up.  I thought they had died because the Florida heat was too much for them.  Little did I know that if I had dug those bulbs up and kept them cool, I could have planted them again the following year. That period of dormancy (or “death”) was simply what needed to happen in order for the plants to start again.

Today, I pray that if you are experiencing a type of death in your life (hopefully not your own), you will find hope in this fact. Jesus says, “I am making all things new.” (Revelations 21:5)  That includes you and your life! So, embrace the death of the old and look for the positive in the newness that is brought forth. Like the tulip, you will bloom once more.

Life with kids

My ladyMy middleMy little

Life with kids is not exactly what I imagined it would be. I imagined that my kid(s) would be very well-mannered, always dressed like the cover of a Janie and Jack clothing catalogue, and would undoubtedly NEVER talk back to me, pitch fits, or argue with me about anything. Said hypothetical children do not exist. I have three lovely children, all of whom have surprised me in one way or another – both positively AND negatively. All I can say is, I am not the mother I always thought I would be, nor are my children the picturesque catalogue children I had envisioned. But, we are REAL people with REAL personalities and REAL problems. My oldest is quite a little lady but still has her flaws (chewing with her mouth open, rolling her eyes, giving snide responses to her brothers’ inquiries). My middle is a very boisterous boy with ice-blue eyes as big as saucers and a bank of questions the size of Texas. And my youngest…well…he is quite a challenge. He is perhaps my smartest child (did I just share that openly?), but is definitely – without question – my most challenging child. He is the child that will – no matter the situation – ALWAYS want to do the opposite of what you want him to do. He is constantly challenging my authority, throwing fits when he doesn’t get his way, and is the most difficult of the three to reason with. At first, I thought he was just going through the “terrible two’s”, which seemed to spill over into age three, four, and now almost five. His preschool teachers tell me (for the most part) that he is a very well-behaved and sweet boy. I think he just has them snowed. He is quite the dashing little fellow with big brown eyes, a one-dimpled smile, and eyebrows that can show a range of emotions like I’ve never seen. Lord knows he can sweet-talk his way into just about anything, when he’s not busy pitching a 5-alarm throw-down about the toy his brother won’t let him hold.

The question constantly swimming through my mind is, did I create this monster of terrible behavior? Did I somehow give in too often, relax my standards just a little too much, or is this just how he is wired? And, how do I fix it before he turns into a spoiled tween with no respect for me? I’m still hashing this out, but I think I’m coming to the conclusion that I am going to have to work a little harder with him than I’ve had to with my other two. That’s okay, because he’s worth it. At the end of this journey called Motherhood (when my life ends), I just want to know that I’ve done everything in my power to raise God-fearing, God-loving people who are a joy to be around. Wish me luck!! And if you have any helpful advice, please feel free to leave a comment! If you happen to have a child like mine, just know that you are not alone. And last but not least…if you happen to be one of those “judgy” types like I was before my third child, just know that it’s a lot easier to judge than it is to be a perfect mom to EVERY type of child.

Today’s Prayer

Lord,

Please help me with my attitude.  Help me to feel more positive towards life, towards others, towards myself.  Please help me to engage the world in a way that shows your love through my eyes and my hands.  Help me to lay aside my feelings, my worries, and my selfish desires.  Give me an inspiration to continue on this desolate path to sacred living.  Please impart to me wisdom about the present, vision for the future, and forgiveness to myself and others for the past.  Place on me the unrelenting need to change the world, one act at a time.  Fill me with your love and your power to diminish my worries and extinguish my complaints.  Open my eyes to the blessings and my heart to the broken-hearted.  Let me be the one who plants a seed of truth and waters it with mercy, so that you may warm it with your Son’s love. Set my heart ablaze with a love so strong and deep for you that I cannot fathom a breath without it.  Make me the kind of mother that a grown child will feel honored and blessed to have had, make me a wife that a husband would never care to replace; a friend that would be missed when gone, and a person whom the world would feel emptier without.  Prepare my heart for things to come that my mind cannot imagine; and give me the ability to handle whatever you send my way.  Leave me never, and guide me always throughout each passing day. Thank you for the sacrifice of your one and only Son, and help me to never take the sacrifice for granted again.

Dare To Be Different

Dare I say that some of the most successful people in the world’s history have been those who were not afraid to be “different” from everyone else?  They embraced the gifts and talents they were given by God (whether or not they recognized He was the one who imparted them), stared at the world head-on, and said, “Here I am, and this is what I was born to do!” People that come to mind are, Einstein, Oscar Wilde, Galileo, Martin Luther King, Jr., Leonardo da Vinci, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Aristotle, Michelangelo – to name a few.  These people were not afraid of what others thought of them in their quest for greatness; they were not afraid to step out of the box of human thought and action and do something different for the sake of following their own hearts.  I am not suggesting that we liken ourselves to these people (some of whom do not have the godliest character).  What I’m suggesting is that we realize that each of us was made to be different for a reason, and those who embrace their differences are often the ones who can be used to make a difference in other peoples’ lives.

Many times, we feel that we need to fit some kind of mold to be liked and accepted by others.  We feel that if we could just look like someone else, have the things that they have, or act the way they do, we will suddenly have it all together and feel happy.  However, comparison is the killer of contentment.  When we compare ourselves with others, we are selling ourselves short on what God has created us to be, and what He has planned for our lives.  When we are always looking at those around us, we are not looking up to God and asking for His guidance.  He has created each of us in a unique way – he knit us together in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13).  He knew what we would be before we were even born. “’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD.” (Isaiah 55:8).  He has a greater purpose for our lives than we could ever imagine, and he is directing our steps daily if we follow Him in all we do. “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)  When we make the mistake of comparing our lives to that of others, we are diminishing what God has planned for us.  We are saying, “God, you made a mistake when you created me to be different.  You were supposed to create me to be an exact replica of ______ (fill in the blank).”  Or, we are saying, “Lord, I could have done a better job of creating me than you did.  I want to have this, that, and the other – and then I’ll be happy with who you made me to be.”  We are certainly stepping on His toes when we think these thoughts. 

Another important note is that we often see only the best side of others.  We see their happy posts on Facebook, their pictures of their family trips and summer cruises, their boats and their smiling kids.  We don’t see the pain they endure on a daily basis, the heartache of loss they may have suffered, the sadness that overwhelms them when they think of the struggles they’ve had.  We don’t see the long hours they work away from their families, the marriages that are less-than-perfect, the kids when they aren’t behaving.  We all have difficulties in this life.  However, our Lord says, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)  Don’t look around thinking to yourself, “Everyone else has it great, and my life stinks.”  Realize that no one’s life is perfect and we all have our trouble in this world.  But we can rest in the fact that Jesus has overcome it all for us.

Each of our journeys is meant to be different.  How has God made you different from others?  What is it about your personality, your life, your circumstances, or your gifts and talents that could bring glory to God?  Ponder this for a moment.  What can you do to use your current life and situation to help others understand the love of God?  This very question is what inspired me to write a blog about my life.  My prayer is that it will somehow help others, and ultimately bring glory to God.

Depression Confession

I have been thinking a lot about depression lately and what causes it. I’ve often found myself blaming ME for feeling this way, thinking: maybe I’m just an ingrate, maybe I’m not walking closely enough with God, or maybe I’m partaking in some sin that has got me hog-tied to depression. Although all of these things may be true, I’ve also just realized that many very godly people in the Bible suffered from depression (David, Naomi, King Solomon, Job, Hannah, Jeremiah). Perhaps their depression was self-imposed, or perhaps it was the aftermath of a terrible circumstance. Maybe it was a chemical or hormonal imbalance much like what I suffer from. The important thing is that – regardless of the cause of the depression – The Lord stands firm and does not change his mind on this subject. He is WITH US through it all. Maybe we don’t feel it, and maybe we cannot perceive His closeness to us. But the Bible {God’s Word} tells me the TRUTH about God and His character. It says that “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8, NIV) Many times, I feel that the Lord is distant from me. But, much like a true friend with whom I have not reached out to in quite some time – if I just call to them, they will be close to me as if nothing has ever changed. We catch up from where we last left off, and it seems that they were never absent. However, if I withdraw from the friendship and do not reach out, I will be unable to feel the closeness that was once there. God’s position never changes. He is the same today as he was yesterday and will be tomorrow. We are the ones who have not reached out to Him. We try oh-so-hard to just “go it alone”. It has become so trendy to seem like we have got it all together.  Hollywood celebrities make it seem so easy to be famous with millions of fans, raising a family in the limelight, jet-setting from country to country, maintaining multiple million-dollar homes, all while looking spectacular in the newest fashions day in and day out.  But we cannot keep up with this façade.  It is a lie that the enemy is feeding us – because no one has it all together all of the time. Period.

The other thing I have realized is that maybe this is the thorn in my side (much like Paul’s in the Bible). While some people may struggle with fear, pride, or any other area of contention, perhaps my “thorn” is depression.  Perhaps one of the reasons God allows us to have a thorn is to allow us to reach others that have the same thorn. People who have not suffered from depression CANNOT understand the feelings of overwhelming sadness, self-defeat, and lack of motivation that stem from depression. There is no “just pick yourself up by the bootstraps and get on with life” antidote to clinical depression. Not only do we {depressed people} have to figure out how to navigate life as normal human beings, but we also have a stigma attached to us that we are lazy, negative, or lacking in faith. There are days when I feel just fine and can live life as a “normal” person. But there are days when I feel like my world is caving in, and it’s got nothing to do with my family, my husband, my kids, or my life. I am very blessed to have a wonderful husband that is my best friend, three healthy children that are a joy to be around, a decent paying job, a warm and cozy home that fits us perfectly and amazing family and friends who try to lift me up when I am down. But that is not enough some days. Most of the time, I cannot put my finger on the cause. But the cause is not as important as the Cure. And the Cure is Jesus. He may never take away my blues completely, but if I give it to Him then He can use it to His glory. He makes beauty from ashes. He can surely make something beautiful of my sad hours. He can surely point me towards the light at the end of the perpetual tunnel of life. And He can set my feet upon a rock. I refuse to give in to defeat, and I refuse to turn away from the life He has for me, depression or not.  My prayer is that you find hope in these words today, and know that you are not alone if depression is your personal battle.  Below are some more encouraging words from the Bible regarding depression:

~Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9, NIV)

~The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18, NIV)

~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, NIV)

~”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” (Jeremiah 29:11-12, NIV)

~And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; (John 14:16, KJV)

~(Jesus said) “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20, NIV)

~My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. (2 Cor. 12:7-10)

Where Do We Go From Here?

This is my second attempt at my very first blog entry.  Whew, technology can be exhausting!  It has been my dream for quite some time to share my innermost thoughts in an online forum.  However, some things have held me back – doubt, fear, and the everyday “busyness” that a married life with three children and a full time job brings.  I have yearned for years to be a stay-at-home mother, without the funds to make it a reality.  While we do not live a very lavish lifestyle, it seems we are always living from paycheck to paycheck and trying to scrape together a decent savings for a retirement that seems will never come.  It appears we are among the majority these days when it comes to Big Dreams, Small Bank Account. 

I am simply putting myself out there as a way to uncover some truths in my own life, as well as {hopefully} help others that need a little encouragement to make their dreams come true.  What I’ve come to realize since having my first child almost a decade ago, is that sometimes our dreams come true in ways we never imagined.  At the time, we may feel that our dreams have disappeared or have lost their luster.  But one day, we awaken to the idea that our dreams have not yet passed us by.  That is where I am today.  After suffering from depression {a constant battle after having my first child}, I am starting to realize that God uses the small, sad moments in our lives to build us into who He wants us to be for the big, happy moments that we can share with the world.  He can take the smallest acorn and turn it into a strong, majestic oak tree that stands the test of time and one day be used to build a mansion.  We will be used by our Creator {who is a carpenter, by the way} to make the most beautiful, towering shelter for others if we just live in obedience to His Word and His calling for our lives.

My hope for this blog is to capture God’s lessons and inspiration to me, so that it may inspire others.  I also hope to just “do life” with others to help them understand we all have our troubling moments and days, but He works through it to turn us into beautiful creatures. 

This blog will be about everything from organizing your home, to teaching your children about Jesus, to decorating, to lipstick.  I hope it is interesting, because it will be the things that interest me that are deposited onto these pages.  Most of all, I pray that it helps others to know that they are not alone in this trip called life.

Please join me in a journey to discover what the future holds; to determine where do we go from here?