10 Tips For Joyfully Running a Small/Home Business with your Spouse

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Owen and I hosting our podcast together for Thriving, Sexy Marriage 

Well summer has come and is almost over, so my transition period after quitting my job to come home and help my husband run our small business is slowly turning into the daily grind. There was much trial and error the first 3 months, but I think we have finally hit a sweet spot. Praise the Lord. The first month was the hardest for sure. But I’m all about fine tuning my work so that it runs like a machine. And through the tearful trials and fist slamming errors, I have come up with 10 tips I think will really help any woman who decides to work with her husband in a small/home business. They have helped us tremendously and as I figure out more, I will happily share. I really think these tips would be helpful even for women who stay home and their husbands work from home, but perhaps the wife is not too involved in the business side of things. As a helpmate, there is still some crossover that happens. Like, share, and comment if you agree.

1.Get an effective morning and evening routine down.

If you need to create a checklist to start it, then do that until the routine is down pat. This will help you start the day and end the day feeling so much more un top of things and with a clear idea of what the heck you are doing. My work week routine looks like this: exercise, coffee and bible study, prayer with husband, get kids up and to school, back home to get ready myself and breakfast. That’s a lot to squeeze in the morning so I wake up at 5:45 to do it. Yes I could sleep in until 7 am when I wake up my kids. But I wouldn’t be ready to be present with them while they were up. And I would end up putting exercise and my relationship with God on the back burner to work and other obligations. This provides the balance I need in my life. That is my morning routine. What could yours look like? Night time is equally as important. Prepping lunches for the next day, making sure the dishwasher is running the day’s dishes, quality time with the honey and family, enjoying quality time togther…so many important things to do each night that can easily set up a routine for the work week.

2. Start and end each day together in prayer–and before every big “meeting.”

Owen and I have learned quickly that prayer is key to helping us work together well and to verbally remind ourselves and offer to God our faith that he be in control and guide us in our daily activities. It also helps us be more united as we can be vulnerable together in our thanksgiving and requests.

3. Enjoy the intimacy benefits of being together throughout the day.

Change up the daily routine sometimes and take an extra long lunch break or a surprise morning break. This is what makes owning your own business together so unifying and fun. There are not sexual harassment laws to watch for, and all work flirtation and dating is perfectly permissible.

4. Set boundaries between the husband/wife relationship and the business partner relationship.

Don’t let the work stress interfere with the husband/wife relationship or vise versa or else all will be chaos!! That means– if hubby thinks you need to revise the blah blah blah form that you spend all morning working on, you don’t get to ignore him at dinner time. If you got into an argument the night before, that doesn’t mean you don’t email that client he is trying to woo into a bigger contract or schedule that meeting with hubs over your new campaign.

5. Dress for the day and look nice!

This will improve the quality of your work because you feel ready but it also keeps the attraction strong in the marriage. It is so important to respect your spouse as you would traditional colleagues. Showing up to work in sweat pants, a stained pajama shirt, and your unbrushed hair would be offensive to everyone. If you show them you care by dressing for the job, do the same for your business partner and spouse.

6. Decide together on a time to close the business and return to 100 percent husband/wife and family time.

Hold each other accountable to that agreed upon time. Yes, there’s that  one final email or that transaction in Quickbooks, or another edit you could make to your project. But you can do them all tomorrow and chances are the world will still turn. Give into those urges all the time, and your spouse and kids will always have memories of mom not being really present and just wrapped up in her phone or the computer all the time. You don’t want to have those regrets and perhaps a lack in closeness in those relationships because of those decisions. If you need to get a box to put your phones in so they are out of sight, this is an amazing one.

7. Don’t forget to set goals and dream together about your future.

This is essential to staying motivated and excited about working together. What kind of house will you buy? What charities will you donate to? What trips will you take?

8. Set milestone rewards along the way that benefit the marriage and family.

Pipe dream goals only work to an extent. You’ve got to keep the energy up with some immediate rewards along the way. For example, meet goal #1 and go on a nice date night. Meet goal #2 and get away for the weekend. Reach goal #3 than celebrate with the whole family on a Disneyland Trip….the options are endless. But those will help you and your spouse continue pushing to reach those bigger goals and of course create more unity as a couple and family in helping each other reach those goals.

9. Set up a meeting at the beginning of every week to calendar the week together.

We like Sunday nights or Monday mornings. It gives us time to look at our individual schedules and the family calendar to figure out the week: when is soccer practice? Who invited us to dinner and what days are we available? Who is going to the parent/teacher conference? How am I going to do this and that the same night you are flying out-of-state? It really helps prevent schedule conflicts that don’t show up until the day or moment of and inevitably ends in at least a bickering match.

10. Don’t forget why you decided to work together.

If you push those benefits and reasons off to the back burner, you lose them and working together may no longer be something you enjoy.

Bonus #1 Look into medical sharing co-ops as an alternative to expensive health insurance.

We are doing Christian Healthcare Ministries. Its costs $385 monthly donation for our whole family. Then if we need to go to the hospital or doctor’s office we pay the first $1000 per medical incident and then the co-op pays for the rest. We love it!! If you decide to join, let them know I referred you. I’ll get my next months monthly obligitory donation forgiven. 🙂

Bonus #2:If kids are at home while you are still working, take breaks to bond with them and plan activities to keep them busy during work sessions. 

It’s not always easy, but I like to do a 2 hr work session while my daughter does one predetermined activity. Then we take a break and run an errand, or read jump on the trampoline together, and have lunch. Then I do another shorter 1 hr session while she does another activity. Then its story and nap time for her for my 2nd hour work session before I’m off to pick up the brothers from school and do the whole after school routine with them, including karate or soccer practice, homework, and chores.

Hope you find these helpful! Like and share if enjoyed these tips and feel free to leave a comment sharing any tips of your own if you too work from home with your spouse.

 

 

 

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Perspective: My First Month as a Full-Time Entrepreneurial Wife and Mom

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Enjoying Social Media Expert Wife benefits at the Bahia Resort while hubby spoke for Social Media Day SD.

Well it has been one month since I’ve been home from my teaching job and boy has it been mostly…….very hard. Ugh. I said it. Doesn’t mean I regret it. I just need to get through the transition. Quitting a salaried full-time position to be a full-time entrepreneurial wife and mom is a difficult transition. It’s not the same as quitting a job to be a full-time mom and wife (which is already a challenge in itself) because now I still have to work while doing the rest all at the same time. And my job is completely different than teaching high school English. It’s a completely different beast.

One of the current struggles I’m having is learning to give up my summer. I’m 37 years old and I have ALWAYS had summers off. I had summers off in grade school, high school, college, and then I became a teacher and I continued to have summer’s off. But now this summer, I’m not on vacation. I work from home. Although, to help me put things in perspective, I did get to enjoy an awesome time at the Bahia Resort last weekend with my kiddos while Owen spoke there for Social Media Day.

IMG_3079But on a typical week, I’m helping Owen with his business doing the tedious side work he shouldn’t be doing but has not been able to find an employee or virtual assistant to do it well or for any decent length of time. No one cares for the business the way we care for the business. I’m the best person for the job. And then I’m also writing scripts and recording videos for our Thriving, Sexy Marriage ministry.

I was really overwhelmed by all I’m learning the first 2 weeks but it’s getting a little easier the last two weeks. It has been “all Greek to me.” Learning Quickbooks, learning how to create “marketing tunnels” and use “auto-responder emails”, and refurbishing video into blogs, writing scripts, making gif memes, and recording myself without using a teleprompter like I’m used to….it’s a lot.

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our first podcast for thrivingsexymarriage was a hit and so much fun!

I cried a lot the first two weeks. More tears the first weeks then I’ve cried in months. There are many reasons. Everything is new. I was messing up on things. Everything takes longer. AND I’m not used to having my husband as my boss. (Whoa–that is hard for a woman who pretty much closes the doors to her classroom and teaches as she pleases). Because of the preoccupation with all that, I haven’t been speaking Owen’s love language, and when that happens, it doesn’t energize him to speak mine, which then doesn’t energize me to speak his, and…… you get the picture. We are marriage coaches, we know what is going on when we are not doing what we are supposed to be doing. Sometimes not always in the moment, but when fed up with it, we can look at it and figure it out. Haha. So– we figured it out and we are back on track. This week we have been two little love birds—-on the same page, speaking each other’s love languages, and unified. Yay for victory #1!

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Jameson and Kanan rekindling their love for legos.

Still working on victory #2–mastering working and taking care of kids on summer break all a the same time. So how do I do all that? I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure it out. I have about 30 hours worth of work I need to do each week to get everything done and so I’m doing 2-hour shifts here, then breaking for lunch and taking the kids out for an errand, and then doing another 2-hour shift there and trying to complete the third 2-hour shift at night after they go to bed, but not every night.

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Benny is so loving to his sister

The struggle is finding activities that keep the kids occupied for the 2-hour-shifts. The videos have taken the longest amount of time because I’m still learning how to set up the set and test equipment, then there’s practicing lines, and then recording. We’ve had two or three recording days where we worked for 3 hours straight and the kids just had to watch like two movies back to back. I felt terrible. So I really want to tighten that time and I know I can in time as this type of work becomes more second nature to me. I did enroll them in three different VBS’s in North County. So that will give me some time between 9-12 to work with fewer distractions and give them an opportunity to learn and have fun. We go to Utah for 10 days as well and then its just a week or two after before school starts. So the VBS programs will definitely help.

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me and my friend Carmen–yay for birthdays!

Still, I’m finding that my belief that I’d have time to visit my friends or have playdates or take 2 hour breaks for day trips with my kids is just not happening. Especially when we have scheduled karate and soccer practices taking up late afternoon time after I finish the work for the day. Oh and not more house keeper so I need to do that. With 4 kids home, the house gets messy fast, and every task for the business also takes longer due to distractions– someone is hungry for snacks, someone hit someone, someone is not wearing underpants (yes I have 1 free spirit–guess who?), someone fell and needs a bandaid…you know the drill.

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a third of my bunco group! Yay for friends and chocolate!

Still, weekends and some evenings I have had some great moments. We had a birthday party for Jameson a couple of weeks ago and I got to see friends and family then and also had some friends over for the 4th of July and had a great time. I also continue my monthly Bunco group on the last Sunday of the month. While my weekly bible study group is on summer vacation, I have started going to a bimonthly art group at my church that meets in the evenings…so again, it’s all about perspective. It’s not how I envisioned it, but I’m still getting some friend/adult time in other ways.

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Scotty and I in the cabanas at the resort for Social Media Day

This is why I keep reminding myself it’s about perspective…not like I expected but still good– So while I feel like I’m not getting the amount of time in with my kids that I had envisioned and even wondered if I actually got more time with them when I was a teacher, I did the calculations. Yes, I actually sat down with a calculator and figured out that as a stay-at home-working mom with the schedule I currently have, even while working through summer, I will still have 480 hours a year more time with my kids then if I worked away from home as a teacher. That is twenty, full 24-hour-days more or forty actual-day-time days more each year. So that is awesome and helps put things in perspective.

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Babysitting my nephews a few weeks ago was a blast . This is little Caleb with my daughter, Scotland and I

Owen also gave me some pointers (He’s good at that) ….to start looking at the tasky activities with the kids as those moments to create connections with them and connect. Driving the kids on an errand can be memorable. Breakfast and lunch can be memorable if I’m using it to teach one of them how to cook something, for example. Even washing dishes after dinner with the kids can be an opportunity for fun or laughter. So I just need to be present in those moments and not see them as just tasks.  So that helps me feel better. As I start moving through my duties more efficiently, it will naturally start creating more open spaces for activities with my kids mid-day. I’m going to try to take them on a trip to the library this Friday. We shall see. 🙂

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Scotty loves snails

So if you have any tips, working from home moms, I’d appreciate it. Would love encouragement, reality checks, you name it. I need it. I have felt pretty pouty and selfish the last couple of weeks but am getting better, knowing this is the right choice.

I just need to get my groove so that it flows. I need to get more organized and consistent. And I need to choose joy even in times of difficult transition.

I started thinking the last couple of days after I realized I was doing what my dad called “stinkin’ thinkin’ and I thought– everyone has something to complain about. Yes, I have lots to complain about over the last couple of weeks. Am I some sad victim that has it so much worse than everyone else? Sure there are women out there who don’t have to work and can enjoy playdates and coffee chats with friends and take their kids to Lego land once a week. But they also may have a husband who drinks too much or is into pornography, a mother they don’t talk to anymore, or they struggle with health problems…. there is ALWAYS something someone can complain about. So do I just sit in this negativity only seeing what I didn’t expect and how hard it is and develop a grumpy, woe-is-me spirit about me? Or do I choose joy? Do I choose to see the blessings even if it is not all I expected? Even if I didn’t get all that I had envisioned initially? We ALL have something to complain about. I don’t want to be that person. So I know its silly because I’m writing this blog, complaining, right? Yes…this is my revised version of a huge vent I initially wrote 2 weeks ago….but I’m hoping that in this revised state you see my recognition for the need of proper perspective.

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Playing “Maricela” at my friend, Laurel’s LulaRoe booth at the fair. 

As I was looking through my photos to post in this blog I was reminded of many happy moments during this difficult transition. Small moments playing with my kids, our hotel stay at the Bahia this last Thursday and Friday, an opportunity for me to help serve my friend Laurel at her booth at the fair, some Bunco fun with friends, Jameson’s birthday where I got to spend time with friends and family, and yesterday we had friends over for the 4th of July.  So I decided to add these photos throughout so you can see that despite my emotional struggles through this transition, I’m just a big whiny baby and am blessed beyond measure 🙂

It’s all about perspective. I never thought it would be easy. I didn’t think it would be this hard. But that is okay. There are many blessings and I will improve my groove and gain so much more. And everything will get easier. So there is my unpoetical, cadenceless conclusion. But its the plain truth.

Thanks for reading. 🙂 Here are some books I want to read to help me get better at this. Have you ready any of them?

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The bay at the Bahia Resort looks small on camera under the panoramic lens but is so much bigger in person! You can’t see all the little shells in the sand from your perspective, but little Benny was mesmerized by all the sea shells in the sand that he could see from his. See…perspective!

Why I’m Leaving My Job to Stay at Home

10665086_10153306429439746_6094945465861559680_nPast Tears and Prayers

I cannot tell you how many times I have cried on my way to work, missing the baby smells of all four of my children’s bald little heads each time I returned to teaching after maternity leave. I’ve felt jealous that some other woman got to hold them, teach them, watch them take their first steps or say their first words and then lie to me when I picked them up so that I did’t get my feelings hurt for not being the one for whom my children showed off.

I cannot tell you how many times I have begged God to open the doors to bring me home and close the doors that keep me working 45-minutes away and so hard that when I come home I am worthless: I’m tired, having given all my energy to other people’s children, and now feigning enthusiasm when my own kids or husband want to share the excitement from their day, but all I can think of is that stack of papers to grade, and that lesson to still plan, and how I’m going to do that along with giving everyone their baths and making dinner and still grabbing that box of diapers because we are down to the last one and the baby will need a fresh one before bedtime. I can barely breathe just saying those words aloud.

10731153_10153301356889746_428918937321489811_nMy husband helps so much. He is a wonderful and attentive father. He wakes up with the kids and makes sure they have breakfast and are dressed before taking them to daycare or school while encouraging them in the day’s events. He takes them to their doctors appointments while I’m at work, reads bible stories in the evening with them, helps them practice their karate moves and makes sure they go through their checkoff list before bed before awarding them their prize-earning stickers. He leads us all in prayer. So I can’t get upset and say my husband doesn’t help. He does. In many ways, he does a better job than I do all while running a business from home.

11537903_1416455935350373_3951834884061779110_oThe Answer

But one day on my way to work two years ago, after I left my daughter with the daycare provider at 8-weeks-old, I was crying to God as usual and felt him strongly tell me that he would bring me home one day, but not now. That I wasn’t ready and that Owen wasn’t ready. We still had more to learn to prepare us. The thoughts came out of no where. I was crying, asking God to please get me laid off  or something and then the words just stopped me in my tracks. I remember it clearly now, sitting at the red light on the 76 right before the 15-on-ramp. And a peace just overcame me. Ok, God. For those of you who have a relationship with the Lord, you know what I’m talking about. When the thoughts and feelings are clearly not yours but they nudge you from the side in the midst of your thought, headed in a different direction entirely. And you test them by comparing them to what the Bible teaches to find they do line up. Then you know–this is from God.

I decided then and there that if this was the case, I was going to really enjoy my job while I still had it. And I did. I’ve always enjoyed teaching, it certainly is a job I love,  but I embraced it with a joy I hadn’t had in years–rekindled that early love for it. You know the kind? The one with fresh ideas and untainted expectation? I’ve written about this in the past. I have felt like a “born again” teacher the last couple of years.

Growth

11224331_10153372509787969_7440667631282452323_nAnd then four months after I drove on to that north-bound freeway at 6:15 that tearful morning,  Owen was diagnosed with stage 3 Thymus Cancer.

And we grew.

Night sweats, chest pains, weight-loss, then finally–answers. Then it was surgery,  chemotherapy, and radiation. Loss of hair, weight, and pride. We were pruned. Stretched. We grew faith and hope. I developed a supernatural strength I didn’t knew I could have. Owen softened with patience and compassion he struggled with before. It was a painful and beautiful trial. Not just our family. But for our friendships, and our marriage.

And then after one year of treatment while still running his business (he is a rock star!), Owen was healed from Cancer. And we celebrated and grew some more as we basked in the sunlight of hope, ready for further growth and new possibilities. Last week we just got our news that Owen is still cancer-free after one year since treatment.

14055127_1266185730072219_2370877723585375866_nThat summer during treatment two years ago, I worked on creating content for a marriage app I invented, realizing I should apply some of what I preached to the world around me. The ideas multiplied. Ideas lead to paper, led to spread sheets, lead to app developers and branding designs. And we grew some more. Then over the last year, the idea for the marriage app morphed into a marriage Facebook page and private group that has lead me to be a part of a movement to strengthen marriages and heal broken ones called Thriving, Sexy Marriages. And so we grew some more. Marriage app still to come. But something else has sprouted in the process.

The Turning Point and the Faith of a Child (or a Husband)

Owen_4_months_before_diagnosisSo when my husband’s business went through some changes this winter that lead us to to reconsider our understanding of God and to trust him in ways we didn’t understand, I would never have guessed that it would yield in my husband a desire for me to step out in faith with him and quit my job to come home. By no means was it a surge of prosperity that lead to this decision. Something I thought would need to happen for that decision to ever happen.

This was not how I had envisioned it. But God’s plans are not our plans. God did not say we weren’t ready yet because Owen’s business wasn’t making him so rich we could quit mine and still live a life of quarterly weekend getaways, season passes to Legoland, and a winter cabin in Big Bear. I thought this when he said we weren’t ready. But I have learned that God was talking about our character. Our faith. Our growth as husband and wife. Our unity and vision for our future.

224049_10150277882159746_816151_nWhat is Next

Taking a leave of absence from  my well-paying job to stay home will take sacrifice, there is no denying that. At least for now. But we have plans to be a husband-wife team. I will not be trading grading papers and lecturing seniors on the rhetorical triangle for lying around all day cuddling with my 2-year-old and watching day-time television or making Pinterest boards on animal shaped sandwiches. While cuddles will certainly be apart of my day, it will also be helping my husband out with his business, finishing my other children’s books, growing my blog,  and growing our marriage ministry so that we can make it a virtual marriage support movement–something that could lead to courses and books and private coaching or accountability.  Owen and I have learned so much through just our short seven-and-a-half years together. And we know that in the trials that have hit our marriage, what the darkness intended to destroy, God is using for good.

15895156_10210707506737750_2280544613316238102_nSo we will need to work at it. And it may be tight for awhile.  And there may very well be some conflict. But yes, I will also be able to take my kids to school. I will be able to teach my daughter how to read and put her down for her naps and enjoy her company at lunch. I don’t have to hear my son Jameson pray at the dinner table that his Mommy could get her work done faster so she could play with him. I will be able to pick up my boys from school and do homework with them in the afternoons. I will be able to enjoy them in the evening without a distracting pile of papers to grade.

And just as importantly, I will be able to watch them walk across the stage at high school or college graduation, without regretting losing those precious moments with them in those short years God lent them to us because I wanted fancy face washes, Arbonne shakes, and shiny cars, or a remodeled bathroom. I don’t want those material things at the expense of my children saying they remembered me as the stressed out mom who rushed them through everything– never really present.

14918948_10155407468274746_8711807688632773943_oPersonal Faith and Purpose

So that’s my story. That’s my reason. I don’t write this to guilt-trip any working moms. We are all different and I’m sure there are many working moms who can do both well. But I’m just not one of them. I can do one really well and the other just mediocre. And I’m tired of putting my kids second. And I can’t really get away with doing the other mediocre in the age of test scores and professional development accountability. This is God’s call on my life.

Until then, when my husband says lets step out in faith and see what God can do with the passions and talents he has given us, I say heck yes. I already feel a change happening within me just knowing it’s 5 weeks away. It makes me want to hold on to my husband, my kids, and Jesus all the more tightly because I have to let go of my idol of a stable income.

14956009_10155407464944746_2339658837828538358_nBut I think that is a good thing.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a blind faith. We’ve crunched the numbers. We’ve looked into health insurance. We’ve looked at our mortgage budget. It will be tight at first. But it can be done and it can and can loosen up later. The difference is that when you work solely on bringing income from your own business, the income varies month to month. It doesn’t feel as “safe” as a contracted salary position. So there is a reliance on the Lord that doesn’t happen when relying on that steady paycheck with the exact same number every month. But what it also means, is that there is no cap on our income. We get what we put into it too. If I help my husband with his business Videospot, his business can grow faster. If he helps me with the Thriving, Sexy Marriage business (he is an expert in selling with video, by the way) then I can eventually bring in some supplemental income through that business project to keep me home with my babies.

And I don’t doubt for a second that God will certainly show off for me since I’ve given him room to do so. A good friend of mine, Jamie once asked me–how can we see God’s power in our lives if we don’t give him a chance to show off for us because we play it safe? In the end, I think it is rooted in distrust of God. And that is unwarranted.

And if I’m wrong–perhaps yes, we’ve seen all the wrong signs or God wants this to be just temporary and hasn’t revealed that to us as of yet, my leave of absence allows me to return to my secure job as a teacher in a year or two. Within two years though, we hope to have a clearer picture of the road ahead. We won’t know until we take that turn down that road

I don’t know the future, but I know I’ve got a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. I’m tired of walking down a different path than my family. There are here in Vista and my husband has this vision for our future that I want to be a part of, but I’m on this side-road heading off in a different direction, constantly shouting over the valley between us, saying, “You can do it honey!” I want to be with him. I want to say “we can do it.” And when two people share a common vision and work together to achieve it, I don’t see how that could not lead to many good and plentiful blessings.

Those two paths have finally joined because of my husband’s faith and vision. It is a faith of God’s child. And I will not say no because Lord, we are ready to walk down it, wherever it leads. united toward a one vision

How I Improved My Vision and Eye-Dryness Naturally.

brown eyesI have always struggled with dryness in my eyes. I remember in high school, struggling to pull my purple contact lenses off my brown, spider-veined eyeballs at the end of the day, hoping I wouldn’t pull a layer of skin off my iris along with the lens itself.

Eventually I gave up on contact lenses as they hurt more than they were worth and I wasn’t about to be that person putting drops in her eyes multiple times a day. I don’t even bother or remember to reapply my lip-gloss, let alone my eye drops. Glasses became something I used only when I drove or wanted to read the board in my college classes. But the dryness continued, despite my iris skin still in tact.

punctal plugsSo at the at the age of 26, when my optometrist found multiple dry patches on my eye along with calluses forming, I decided to try her suggestion of getting punctal plugs. My vision had also diminished to 20/40 in my good eye and 20/80 in my bad eye, so I had to do something if I wanted to wear contacts again.  I was ecstatic to discover there was something that could help. So I let her get super close with this huge magnifying glass and some special tweezer-looking instruments while she stuck these tiny, pinpoint sized “punctal” plugs into my lower tear ducts. It was supposed to prevent them from sucking up the tears in my eyes and allow more to stay on my eyeball. That worked….for like 2 months. Until the plugs fell out.

So I went back and had them replugged. And then they fell out again.

After the second time, she refused to put in more plugs and said that I just was not a candidate. Instead, she would prescribe me prescription eye drops called Restasis. She said I had too many dry patches to just go with regular drops. So I tried them. Supposedly it takes a few months before they start working because they are essentially an antihistamine that works at calming the swelling in your inner eye that could be preventing it from making tears. Well I didn’t make it long enough to discover if it would work because I got pregnant with my daughter Scotland. And so off I went.

My eyes like being pregnant, so I didn’t need anything during that time. But as soon as Scotland was born, my tears dried up like an Arizona desert. It hurt to blink, to see, its awful. And I didn’t want to wait another 6 months for the Restasis to possibly kick in.

cod liver oilSo I called my optometrist. She recommended I try fish oils, 2-3000 mg a day minimum. She said this would work if my tears were low because they were evaporating more easily due to less oil/water ratio in the tear consistency. Somehow, fish oils would help in that area.

So I tried them. Within 2 days I noticed a huge difference. Redness gone. Less pain. I was ecstatic! And I’ve been taking them for two years since. When I forget, I can tell I forgot. Within 2 days of forgetting, my eyes begin to feel dry again. So it certainly isn’t a cure but it definitely is my daily remedy.

And now the bonus– I went in to the optometrist last brown eyesweek to get an updated prescription for my eye glasses and just do the usual check up we are supposed to get every couple of years. And they found no more dry patches! And my vision even improved. I’m 20/20 in my good eye and 20/30 in my bad eye. When I asked the optometrist how that could happen, she said that part of our vision depends on the amount of tears in our eyes. Improving tear consistency heals the eye of the callouses and damaging effects on vision.

If you struggle with eye dryness I highly recommend fish oils. They not only should help, but they also help with general inflammation and depression. I alternate between regular fish oil and cod liver oil. When I do take cod liver oil, I get the fermented kind so that the vitamin A and D are naturally occurring and not synthetically added back in after being cooked out of the oil. I also find that with cod liver oil, I don’t need to take as much fish oil as I do with regular fish oil in order to receive the same benefits to my dry eyes.

These are the fish oils I love and use depending which one is the better deal at the time.
AMRAP Nutrition Fermented Norwegian Cod Liver Oil

Green Pasture’s BLUE ICE Fermented Cod Liver Oil -Non-Gelatin 120 Capsules

Bioscience Nutritions’s HIGH EPA 1200MG + DHA 900MG Triple Strength Burpless Capsules

Purity Lab’s OMEGA 3 FISH OIL Gelcaps 180 Softgel Pills

10 Ways to Reduce Depression and Anxiety through Diet and Supplements (No MEDS).

Most people who struggle with anxiety also struggle with bouts of depression as well. And if you ask people who struggle with anxiety or depression if they have digestive issues, they will say often yes. Interesting correlation, but does it mean anything?

Most people think that the receptors for the neurotransmitters responsible for our emotions (serotonin, neuroepinephrine, and dopamine) are primarily in our brain. The big one seen to really affect anxiety levels is serotonin. Sure they are in our brain, but where else are they? And where are they made? The answer is– IN THE GUT.

Ever wonder why you get that “gut feeling”? Your stomach and intestines are lined with serotonin receptors and serotonin is made there. So if you have digestive issues, do you see how that could possibly lead to problems making enough serotonin and receiving enough serotonin to maintain your stress and happiness levels?

OUR GUT IS ESSENTIAL TO OUR EMOTIONAL AND PHYSICAL WELL-BEING. Eighty percent of our immune system is produced in our stomach. For those of us who are susceptible to anxiety and depression, taking care of our stomachs and intestines can help strengthen our “emotional immune system” as well so we can better face stress and trials in our lives, and reduce our inclinations toward depression and anxiety.

THE DAMAGING EFFECTS OF OUR DIET ON OUR EMOTIONAL IMMUNE SYSTEM

One big issue that can directly affect our bodies from making and effectively using serotonin is inflammation and toxins.

So much is still left to learn about the amazing design of the body and how many multiple functions can be made by the nutrients we take in, including their role in hormones and neurotransmitters. The more doctors research, the more connections they find.

In the end—there are dietary changes, supplements, herbs, and remedies you can take to reduce inflammation, detoxify, and saturate your body with deprived vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids needed for healthy mood regulation.

Here they are—

1. Get back to the NOAH DIET .  God gave us plants, animals, and herbs to eat for a reason. Eat plenty of fish, grass-fed beef, veggies, fruits, nuts and legumes, and drink plenty of pure, clean water. A lot of these foods have essential amino acids that help your body make serotonin. Buy organic as often as you can. God did not give us pesticides when we got off the boat. The amount of veggies we actually need to eat is way more than we do. If you are too busy or don’t know how, make green juice each day or a couple of days a week to help increase your veggie intake (fruit is normally not an issue for us).  Also—bone broth is another excellent way to pack in those nutrients from animals sources, including the bones, which we don’t often eat, but are filled with nutrients and amino acids.

2. STAY AWAY from foods that cause inflammation, are toxic, and/or increase stress levels. These include sugar, salt, gluten, lactose, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and non- Noah foods like processed or GMO.

You might be thinking, how???? Gluten and lactose? Bread and Milk are my life! Try one at a time and see how you feel. Some people don’t have milk issues. Others do. Some don’t have gluten issues. Others do. Or cut them down significantly. For me I find that cow’s milk really irritates my stomach, but wheat bothers it only a little. But after a few days of eating wheat, I’m in full-on anxiety and depression mode. I can now only handle wheat once a week. Anymore and I regress.  Check out sites on the Paleo Diet. That can give you great and delicious ideas on how to eat gluten free with little to no dairy. Another option is to try out alternatives to cow’s milk. I personally found that raw goat’s milk does not hurt my belly the way cow’s milk does. So now I cut out cow’s milk, limit my cheese, and drink either almond milk or raw goat’s milk when I need something creamy. Made a huge difference!

3. Take a WHOLE FOOD MULTIVITAMIN to fill in the gaps you might lose in the day. Whole-food is key here. Most multivitamins are synthetic and our bodies know the difference. Needless to say, about 70 percent of our multivitamin ends up in the toilet. But whole-food vitamins increase the chances of our bodies absorbing it because the vitamins are taken from actual food. So our bodies recognize it. And guess what? Your gut will absorb more of those vitamins, if it is not enflamed. So treat it well too!

4. VITAMIN B, especially B6 and B12 have been highly correlated to mood levels and emotions. Taking supplements to increase your vitamin B levels can make a huge difference. If you are vegan, and do not plan on changing for philosophical, dietary, or moral reasons, I highly suggest getting a vitamin B12 shot. Vitamin B12 is not easily absorbed in supplement form and so the only way you can get the amount your body needs without eating it is to have directly injected into your blood. If you want to minimize supplements and get it straight from food, eat lots of canned clams, beef liver, turkey giblets  and oysters for your B12. They are also in other more common meats and dairy but not as high as the ones I mentioned here. (God gave us animals to eat after the flood I believe partially because he knew we needed B12. For some reason, plants do not produce vitamin B12. Perhaps before the flood they did, but due to the environmental changes that took place because of the flood, everything changed). For Vitamin B6, eat lots of chickpeas, baked potatoes with skin, prune juice, cooked Brussels sprouts, cooked spinach or raw red pepper.

5. VITAMIN C can help you reduce inflammation and detoxify your body, better aiding your body to produce and absorb serotonin in your gut. Again, good food sources would include citrus and peppers. Or take a supplement. As an added bonus, it helps your skin look younger! Hey that’s something that can help us feel better!

6. Low VITAMIN D3 levels are highly correlated to anxiety and depression. Vitamin D3 levels in Americans are more often than not significantly lower than necessary for healthy mood. Is it no wonder so many people are on Prozac and Zoloft here? Meanwhile the FDA keeps telling us to stay away from the sun, slather on tons of sunscreen, and keep buying their pharmaceuticals. Vitamin D3 is called the sunshine vitamin for a reason—our bodies naturally produce it when we are exposed to the sun. But if we are slathering sunscreen on every day, avoiding the outdoors, or stuck inside all day—we are not getting enough. And many drugs affect our body’s ability to produce vitamin D3.  If you are too afraid to head outside and get some natural sunshine then you’ve got to supplement. And we need much more than the typical multivitamin provides—just to maintain healthy levels, most women need around 1000 IU—some conservative sites will tell you a minimum of 400 IU’s, but that is just to prevent rickets,. You need a lot more to increase your immune system, and if you are deficient, significantly  more—sometimes as much as 10-30k IU a day to get your levels up. You can’t know for sure your levels, without getting lab work done. It’s relatively inexpensive even if you don’t have insurance, and highly worth it, especially if you suffer from anxiety or depression. I strongly recommend you get your labs done and check your vitamin D3 levels before determining the amount you need. If you don’t know—start with 400-1000 until you find out. Too much vitamin D3 can be toxic—although I will clarify, it is very rare that this happens because most people are significantly low. If your doctor says you are low (less than 20 or 30 hydroxy) than start supplementing with more than the 1000-IU and get your levels checked every few months to determine if you need to increase your dosage or decrease it. Dr. Mercola has done some great research on the proper amounts. I’ve posted a link to an informative article at the end of this blog.

7.OMEGA-3’S is an essential fatty acid used by your body for so much, including hormone production and emotional transmitter production.They also improve your immune system, making your body deal with less stress, and therefore less susceptibility toward anxiety and depression. The best way to get your Omega 3’s is through natural sources. Cod Liver Oil and Krill Oil are great options. The added bonus when taking Cod Liver Oil is that you also get vitamin D and A this supplement. Chia Seeds are also high in Omega 3’s. I sprinkle them in my pasta salads, cereal, yogurt, and make puddings with them.

8.PROBIOTICS and DIGESTIVE ENZYMES are something most people don’t appreciate as much as they should. While probiotics are important for all people to take in order to maintain healthy flora in their gut, and therefore maintaining their immune system, people with digestive issues or who are prone toward anxiety and depression should especially take them and even add digestive enzymes as well. Remember, a healthy gut strengthens your emotional immune system, making you better able to fight off depression and anxiety as well as viruses and bacteria. I take probiotics daily and digestive enzymes when I know I will be eating dairy. Enzymes help my stomach and intestines not hurt as badly after I eat it and prevent it from becoming enflamed because it helps break the proteins and sugars down to a more tolerable level for my sensitive gut. There are many kinds of enzymes out there and each work a bit differently. I prefer ones that help break down protein as they seem to be more effective for me. Now ironically, probiotics are most often grown in dairy. They are in yogurts. And even in supplement form, are mixed with casein or other dairy. But you can find probiotics grown in coconut or other bases at health food stores. They cost a little more but are well worth it. If you don’t have a dairy intolerance, just buy regular probiotics. I take Dr. Mercola’s  multi-strain probiotic blend and LOVE it! I did some research and found the top 10 probiotics found through studies of how much flora actually existed in the capsules at the time of consumption versus the amount claimed when the flora was bottled. Mercola’s scored a 9 out of 10 for quality and integrity.  I definitely feel the difference on days I don’t take it. Because of my antibiotic use as a kid, my gut flora has extremely low variety and amounts of flora, so I will need to take flora daily probably indefinitely to maintain a healthy gut and immune system.

9.God also gave us HERBS to use as our medicine. Now we do have to approach this one according to our own conscience as I do know some people are more sensitive to taking anything that might alter how they feel. But there are four herbs that are legal, safe, and effective at regulating mood and helping us distress. Chamomile, Kava, Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, Valerian Root, and St John’s Wort. They all work a little differently physiologically and their effects vary.

Chamomile is a very mild de-stresser. Most people drink them in teas. There is no real strong effect, but many people do find that it helps calm them down. Over the course of my 20’s I’d get anxiety that would literally make my esophagus have muscle spasms, causing me bad chest pain. I found that drinking chamomile tea really calmed those chest pains down as it relaxed the muscles lining my esophagus.

Kava is a little bit stronger in its effect. You can drink it in tea form most often. Although there are stronger doses in supplement and sublingual forms. I found that taking Kava helped the tension in my forehead melt away, like someone injected lotion into my head.

Ashwagandha and Rhodiola are both adaptogens which means they help the body adapt better to stressful situations. For me, ashwagandha has been extremely helpful with my anxiety. One reason is because it helps your body slow down its cortisol production, which is what you produce when feeling stressed. When you struggle with anxiety–your cortisol is on overdrive even when it shouldn’t be. So you have panic attacks at the grocery store and or are breaking down in the kitchen because you are trying to cook dinner but your daughter is crying for a snack. Rhodiola is also an adaptogen and helps your bodies serotonin to work more effectively. So this one is a better choice if you are more prone to depression rather than anxiety. If you have both, taking both can be really helpful.

Valerian root also mildly acts as a de-stresser and tension reliever. A lot of people take it before bed to help them distress and fall asleep better. I’ve never seen it in tea form but do see it in supplements and sublingual forms.

Here’s one that includes a lot of the vitamins and herbs I’ve mentioned above, including  St. John’s Wort. St. John’s Wort has been used for generations as a mood enhancer and stabilizer. Named after the apostle John, the herb actually acts as a very mild selective serotonin reuptake inhibiter (basically a natural and very mild anti-depressant). Therefore, while it is effective in this way, given it does actually help increase the amount of serotonin in your synapses by not allowing your body to recycle it as quickly, it can also have some side effects and should still be approached prayerfully, and in my opinion, as a last resort. Look those up and talk with a Naturopath and pray about whether or not this is a right choice for you. I say see a Naturopath, because regular MD’s and Psychologists have been trained, educated, and endorsed by the pharmaceutical companies. They will automatically not support it strictly because it is an herb and therefore, not approved by the FDA. Naturopath’s are well researched in herbs and can give you an intelligent, well-educated and researched assessment, by trustworthy resources even though they are not the FDA.  Given the mild effect, I have read that it is not addictive like pharmaceutical anti-depressant, but still should be reduced slowly before getting off to avoid any mood changes.

10.Last but not least, HOMEOPATHIC REMEDIES are another great option for helping our bodies heal and strengthen to fight off our disposition to be anxious or depressed. I won’t get into the entire science behind homeopathy, but basically it is a well-studied, age-old alternative form of healing that uses like to cure like. Over the course of history, certain researchers have found that when our body encounters a very mild amount of an element that causes a certain negative effect, if the person already had that ailment, the element actually helped the body heal itself of the symptom instead. This phenomenon has been tested and repeated through the scientific process. Homeopathic remedies that work for anxiety and depression as well as for people with digestive issues would include Arsenicum Album, Natrium Carbonicum, and Pulsatilla nigricans. In order to determine which one is right for you, you do need to consider other symptoms you might have as homeopathic remedies work with a number of issues. Finding one that really fits you will make it more effective. Seeing a Homoeopath can help you determine this—they will interview you, evaluate all of your issues, and determine the remedy and dosage that would best help your body heal. Once you are healed, you no longer need to take the remedy. For those of you who want to study up yourselves, there are plenty of books and websites out there including descriptions of the range of symptoms each one works at healing. You can go to the health food store and find a remedy that you think might work. Of course health food stores have a more limited selection so may not have the one you need, but a Homeopath can give you access to much more. It may take trial and error to find the right one. Seeing a Homoeopath though can reduce the amount of trial and error as they are experts and even doctors in the field.

An a bonus!!– #11: Added Note– Magnesium L. Thoreate is also incredibly helpful. It is the only magnesium that passes the blood brain barrier, is not a laxative, and works directly in the brain to help depression and anxiety. 🙂 Take before bed as some complain it makes them a little tired. I don’t have that, but some do.

My Story:

I have found significant freedom through prayer, binding demonic oppression in my life, renewing my mind with the truth of the scripture and using to strengthen my self-control when my thoughts and feelings begin to control me. I also have made changes to my diet, have taken more time to rest and exercise. One of the last but very powerful steps I have taken has been to forgive myself and the many others who have hurt me over the course of my life. I had no idea how much of my anxiety and depression was rooted in worthlessness and unforgiveness. Personally, cutting out dairy and wheat made huge differences. Especially wheat, which after cutting out and then bringing back in made me recognize a significant correlation with my anxiety and depression. Dairy I’m allergic to, so it just adds to inflammation which didn’t help me produce serotonin. Ashwagandha has worked really well for me and now I don’t even take it everyday like I used to. 🙂

So many factors play a role in depression and anxiety. And for those who are predisposed toward the two conditions might find that in one bout of depression or anxiety, the cause is different than in another bout. When we are susceptible, then numbers of different issues can push us into it. There is no one-way method to solving the issue. It take intense self-analysis (through biblical truth), prayer, and time to get to the bottom of each episode—to find the patterns and to start making the changes to find solutions. While I have overcome my issues, I know now I have to continue the lifestyle I have made to maintain it. And when I feel an episode coming on, to dig into my toolbox and nip it in the bud. How’s my prayer life this week? How’s my diet this week? These questions help find the solutions.

 

Depression and Anxiety–5 Theoretical Solutions to this Modern Day Epidemic

sad-womanAs a rather emotional person from birth and now a working mother of four children, I have struggled with anxiety and sometimes, bouts of depression for most of my life. But as I meet more mothers, both working and stay-at-home, I’m discovering that I am not the only one.  It seems that anxiety and depression is a common issue with moms. But why do we have this issue so often? And what are ways to cure it? In my research and experience, I have come across 5 different theories.

The Theories:

  1. Take pharmaceutical drugs to cure the “chemical imbalance” that supposedly is causing the anxiety or depression.
  2. Find the external cause of the anxiety and depression and get rid of it.
  3. Cope with it through exercise, rest, prayer, meditation, and change in attitude.
  4. Deal with the spiritual problem causing it, requiring major prayer and often, repentance.
  5. Approach the anxiety biologically as well, but through diet and supplements rather than pharmaceutical drugs.

All of these schools of thought depend on what one believes is the cause of the anxiety or depression. Is it a chemical imbalance? Is it a spiritual problem? Is it a natural and normal reaction to an environmental trigger or problem? Is it some other biological cause? If it is a chemical imbalance, what is the cause of that? In today’s blog I seek to explore each theory, and its strengths and weaknesses, through a Christian World View.

Pharmaceutical Drugs: As a Christian woman, I personally feel very convicted about pillstaking pharmaceutical drugs. I find the pharmaceutical industry to be corrupted and money hungry, out to make millions off our suffering and causing more suffering to us in the end. I also believe the bible when in Revelation it talks about people not willing to give up their “pharmakia” in their pain and suffering for God in the last days. Given the statistic that 48 percent of Americans are taking at least one pharmaceutical drug and the pharmaceutical industry is making 234.1 billion dollars a year off our suffering, and less people are believing in God than ever, I can’t help but see a correlation. Now I want to clarify, that I believe there are many good, God-loving Christians out there who are taking pharmaceutical drugs for one reason or another. I don’t say the above correlation to discredit your faith. I’m just making an overall correlation to Americans in general in light of the scripture.

But none-the-less, I do urge Christians out there who struggle with anxiety or depression or any other ailment for that matter, to seek other ways and practices that have been known to resolve health issues first before resorting to these drugs. God did not offer Noah and his offspring pharmaceutical drugs to help them on their journey. He offered them himself, as well as work, and of course the plants, fruit, meat, and herbs. And eventually, he gave the law and the Sabbath, and always showing us his forgiveness to those who repented.

Therefore, I personally believe that pharmaceutical drugs should be a last measure, if at all, when all else has failed and only if the safety of the person or others are in danger. But I have certainly have had anxiety episodes in my past where I have thought about taking something to fix me. And I understand deeply why so many women resort to them as they can be a fix for some. Unfortunately, however, often times the anti-anxiety pills don’t work, or only work a little, or become such a big crutch that women find it very difficult to get off of them (often times getting off makes the anxiety episodes even more extreme), and worse yet—can give a number of other effects that are no fun, including heart palpitations. I know this personally because my father suffered from anxiety after his father died. He ended up taking anti-anxiety pills for 10 years, which lead to all of the above and eventually lead to heart palpitations, which I believe caused him to drown when he was 57 years old (the same day he told my stepmother over breakfast, that he wanted to work harder at getting off of the drug when they returned from their vacation). Even so, if there is such thing as a chemical imbalance, what is causing that? Drugs don’t heal us. They only cover up the problem.

weedsRidding ourselves of External Causes:   If you can find an external cause, and after prayer have confirmed it would safe, and biblical to get rid of the trigger, then by all means do it. This is very helpful and often an easy solution to anxiety. For example—a stressful job, a poor choice in friends, or perfume sensitivity could all be perfectly fine and beneficial to get rid of, depending on the circumstance.  But the problem with this second option is that often time, there is no external cause for the anxiety. For example, within the first year after my daughter was born, I had three anxiety attacks in the middle of the grocery store. I love the grocery store! But sure enough, I’d be walking through and the chest pains would come, the heart would start racing, the sweat would break out on my forehead and meanwhile my mind would be perfectly calm and wondering what the heck was happening with my body. So what am I supposed to do, get rid of my wifely and motherly duties? If my husband is willing, great.  But what about my other bouts of anxiety? Or what if he is not willing to take the grocery shopping duties? Am I to get rid of him? Is that really the effective answer?  If our loved ones are the source of our anxiety, then we should work on some problem-solving and communication methods to help that relationship out.  Otherwise, other options might be necessary.

bible-readingLiving Life Abundant:   There are strategies to help us build strength and endurance when facing difficult situations–especially prayer, rest, and exercise. God gave us himself; he gave us work; and he gave us the Sabbath. This means these are important. God knows best! I have certainly found much relief from attacks when I have sought God, gone to bed early, or hit the gym. But sometimes the problem can be deeper….

God did give us his Word which is filled with tips on how find more joy, as he has intended for his children. If we don’t read the bible—we won’t recognize the lies we believe which could be causing our anxiety and depression and we won’t know the ways we can eliminate this from our lives. Because these are so often tied to our relationship with God, I will discuss these in the next section—Relationship with God.

Often times, people learn about “coping mechanisms” in order to deal with the struggles of life. I have an issue with a lot of the psychology behind these mechanisms because they often lead to some really dangerous ways of thinking designed to pull us away from God and our purpose here on Earth.

For example—meditation is a form of escapism and is rooted in Eastern thinking that we are to disassociate ourselves from all emotion and from this world even.  Frequent meditation can lead people to disassociate often and prevent them from connecting with other people. God gave us emotions for a reason.  While we need to learn how to use them effectively and control them, rather than let them control us, they certainly should not be shut off. Another issue with meditation is that it opens our minds to be influenced by demonic lies. If we don’t keep our mind focused on Christ (as commanded by the bible, requiring prayer or focus on scripture) then we are at risk of filling our open minds up with unbiblical lies and misunderstanding. If we are to meditate, it should be meditating on a bible verse or a truth of God, not in opening our minds and releasing all thoughts. Focusing on one thought–a truth of God, is much safer and healthy for Christians.

Other psychological coping mechanisms require us to change our attitude in harmful ways. I knew a woman once who went through a bout of depression in her early 20’s as she was feeling worthless and guilty over her promiscuity. She went to a psychologist for help. He told her to cope with the depression by changing her attitude about her actions—no longer believe that promiscuity was bad or immoral and then naturally her mind wouldn’t feel depressed about it. This harmful strategy sent her further down a road of promiscuity that left her scarred emotionally and could have potentially lead her unplanned pregnancies and STD’s had she not been so lucky.

prayerRelationship with God:  If the problem is spiritual, and through prayer and reading the bible you identify the lies that the dark side has whispered in your ears that have caused your anxiety and have bound them, hallelujah. Satan and his demons want to kill and destroy us and prevent us from living a life that glorifies God. If they can stop you by whispering lies that cause you anxiety and depression, they will. Condemnation is one common lie he can use. Remember God’s grace. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven for your past sins. You are a new creation!

These lies can lead us to sin and to think and feel in a certain way that destroys our lives and our purpose. Our anxiety or depression can be due to our conscience struggling with sin in our lives that can be forgiven, but still needs to be addressed first. God gave us the law for a reason.  And as Christians, our spirits know when we are sinning. Adultery, alcoholism, unforgiveness…the list can go on and have deep-seeded connections to causing anxiety. Addressing those sins is essential to healing ourselves of the damage it can take on our bodies. Sin hurts everyone!  God doesn’t want us to sin, not just because he wants us to be dressed for heaven, but because sin destroys our current lives and the lives of those around us. I have experienced this myself and it has made a huge difference. More often than not, anxiety and depression really is a spiritual issue.

There are some sins or spiritual issues we could be struggling with that are the cause of our anxiety and depression, but are not easily noticed by ourselves. They can be revealed to us though when we read God’s word or when we get honest answers from our friends and family who see us everyday—these issues include fear, unthankfulness, covetousness, lack of faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior, and feelings of worthlessness. First we need to understand what God says about these things so that we can then take our thoughts captive when we find ourselves thinking and feeling in these ways and plain and simple—stop it!

  1.  2 Timothy 1:7–For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
  2. Ephesians 5:20–Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  3. Philippians 4:6–Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
  4. Romans 10: 9-10–That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved
  5. Luke 12:7—Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

So sometimes the answer is as simple as—stop having yourself a pity party and count your blessings. Or recognize that if your anxiety is coming from fear—it is not from God. If it’s not from God, it’s not true. It is a lie. Pray and bind that lie. Stop it when you find yourself being afraid. God says to be anxious for nothing, but to be thankful and come to him with your requests. Are you giving your anxiety to God? Are you asking him for help in the areas that are causing your stress? Do you trust that he will take care of it? Do you even believe that Jesus is your Lord and Savior? He died so that we might be free. Free from what? Free from hell sure, but also free from our sin; free from the lies we have believed; and free from our slavery to our emotions and to our past. If we are not freed from these things, we cannot live a life full of the purpose he has intended for us. Be free! Trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

I recommend two books that are biblical and while they shouldn’t replace the bible, can be used alongside the bible to really nail down any spiritual issues and lies you may believe that could be leading to your anxiety and depression. The Lies Women Believe, and Restored, both linked in these images.

dietDiet: I go back to the bible and am reminded—God gave us himself, the law, his word—but also plants, meat, work, and herbs. So what else can moms do? The more I read up on the diet and lifestyle of American people today, the more I wonder how much our diet plays a role in some of our issues. So I did some research the biological causes and correlations with anxiety and depression. And believe it or not, there is a lot! And as you know from the growing knowledge out there about the problems with the American diet and lifestyle, God may very well have already given us the tools and help to prevent our ailments like anxiety and even depression. And the problem is, we are not using them!

Stay tuned for my next blog—where I will share 10 ways you can make changes in your diet and nutrient intake to strengthen your body and mind– reducing your proneness to anxiety and depression.

As you wait for the next post, if you struggle with anxiety or depression, I strongly recommend you go through the above options and make a checklist for yourself. What areas have you tried? What have you not tried? What can you start doing today? Sometimes, not one approach alone works, but a combination. God wants you focused on him, but he also wants you to live a healthy life. Remember the things God gave his children: himself, the law, grace, work, rest, and the earth.  Starting and ending your day in prayer, and going to God when you feel a bout of emotions coming on, are a good place to start. Then look at your exercise habits, your rest habits, lies you may be believing, and possible sin in your life. Finally, look at your plate as you eat. Is this something Noah and his offspring would have eaten?

There is a great App called “Symple—Symptom tracker and health diary” that can help you track your anxiety and depression bouts and begin to look for correlations with circumstances, thoughts, and diet.

Its only For apple– https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/symple-symptom-tracker-health/id479818115?mt=8

I’m sure there are similar ones out there for Android although I cannot endorse them  without using them.

DAVID THE LION– A STORY ABOUT CRUELTY

fighingIn my 11th grade American Literature class, my students and I started talking about this cycle of cruelty among the characters in the novella, particularly the villain and his wife. From our analysis of Of Mice and Men, we decided Steinbeck argued that cruelty can be a reaction to fear or loneliness. We shared some of our won experiences where we had seen others act cruelly to others due to fear or loneliness and even looked at our own actions. I couldn’t help but remember a high school acquaintance whose name I will change to David who was cruel to another kid and wondered about all the possible causes for his rage. I’m still haunted by my own cruelty for not doing anything to stop what I had seen or help. We all spent about 30 minutes writing about an experience. I shared my story later with them during our readings:

It was an unusually hot day in May my junior year in high school after a late Spring storm’s winds and thunder had electrified the valley before rampaging on to the East. David was going to fight another guy that day. Big, tough David with reddish hair and tattoos who worked out and drank beer and got drunk and liked to fight.

Who the other guy was I did not know. But the rumor hummed around that they were meeting at Beryl Park after school. And that is all I or the other teens at Alta Loma High School needed to know.

We all piled into our friends cars and blared out Rage Against the Machine and Nine Inch Nails from our radio speakers, pumped for the entertainment of plows and punches, laughing and shouting excitedly for the coming show: thirsty.

We all sat on our tailgates in the parking lot. A collection of used Jeeps and Bugs, lifted F-150’s and Tacomas, and shiny new Ford Mustangs lined with teens in Doc Martins and baggy jeans–white kids with too much time, waiting for the guy to show up whom David was going to fight.

But the guy didn’t show.
And David was ready to fight.
Fight him.
Fight someone.
Fight anyone.

He needed to release that angry beast raging inside of him. Angry at who or what, I don’t know. His father perhaps–a lion of his own past who called him stupid or weak? A mother who left him for her drugs two days before his 5th birthday? Maybe a child-molesting uncle? Or a long-legged girl who broke his heart his sophomore year?

We thought it was time to go, disappointed, heads shaking and downcast, eyes parched for the sight of blood, ears for the thud of punches and the fumbling of legs over shoulders and backs. Maybe because the violence could somehow make us feel alive.

But just as we started to pack up to leave, David started to roar; roar like a hungry lion. Colors poured out of him—black and red and purple, pouring from his mouth and his pores and his eyes.

We all turned and saw and knew. Something crazy was going to happen. The hairs on the back of my neck and arms delightfully sprang up in response.

And so he charged at some random guy there. Some guy just like me or him or her—smoking a cigarette and wearing a wife-beater and unlaced Vans. He sat there just like the others–there to watch. The guy had no idea he would be the one David would fight as we all watched with mouths agape. And he did not have time to prepare, as he laid on the hood of his car, lighting another cigarette with the burning tip of the first, only to look up to hear the noise of David’s roar and see him charging after him.

David beat the $#!% out of that kid. Beat him to a bloody pulp—missing teeth, a gash across his brow, eyes swollen immediately. He left that boy unconscious on the hot, black asphalt that day in May of 1996.

And everyone backed away, disturbed by the width and depth and height of David’s anger, not wanting to be next; and recognizing the severity of what just happened, they felt that surge of fear of cops and sirens, and quickly hopped into their cars, squealing away.

I stood there watching the kid moan on the rough parking lot asphalt, stagger up and stumble back down with eyes of confusion—no doubt wondering what happened.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

He didn’t answer–just laid there and wiped the blood from his lip, eyes wet with tears, and looked around, studying at us through murky orbs, as if he were trying to decide if he was really seeing us.

And then I just walked home with my friends: a cruel act of silence. I left him isolated and abandoned because I was afraid of what I saw. And perhaps because I was afraid of that evil part of me in the layers of my kind shell that liked the entertainment. I wanted to push his bloody image away from me at any expense. Not realizing that the image of him left alone in that park would haunt me the rest of my life.

I wonder if this experience hardened him. Made him angry and cruel. Just like David.