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RubyMARCH2017


Recovery

The Bipolar Experience (Book Review)

 
Hi, friends!
 
Have you read The Bipolar Experience: Your Dreams Are Bigger than Bipolar Disorder by LeeAnn Jefferies and Eva Marie Everson?
 

 
As a person who struggles with bipolar disorder, I was naturally drawn to LeeAnn Jefferies’ story. The fact that she was a top model for more than 16 years added to my intrigue.
 
I felt like I was sitting on a wicker chair on a wrap-around porch listening to LeeAnn tell her story, her Southern accent and flare on display between our sips of sweet tea. I appreciated her authenticity.
 

 
I know what it’s like to be afraid of my own mind.
 
 
Oh, I hated it, I hated it! But I learned to live within the hell of it. Because that’s what it was. Hell. With all the good going on in my life–with all the God at work–I had come to a sure truth: I knew exactly where the devil’s playground resided. And it was with me all the time. Right there, in my mind.
 
 
Most of us can only live each day as it comes. But those with bipolar disorder will either live those days bouncing off the clouds or clawing our way through the mud.
 

 
I’m thankful I’m neither in the clouds or the mud these days.
 
The Bipolar Experience is a good resource for family and friends of those with bipolar disorder. Eva and LeeAnn sprinkle facts about the illness throughout the book, but they approach it in the context of her story, not as a medical encyclopedia.
 
I could relate to LeeAnn’s goal-oriented side of bipolar disorder. It’s a little known fact that a bipolar person tends to fixate on a goal–however big or small–until they achieve it. Many times, a person with bipolar disorder is viewed as extremely productive. I could see that in LeeAnn’s story–and in mine.
 
As much as I wanted to read The Bipolar Experience in one sitting, I struggled to read non-stop because I swing more to the depressive side of bipolar. I needed to take some breaks from reading it when I found myself swinging low. I would caution those who struggle with mental illness to be aware of that possibility prior to reading it. Awareness is key. 🙂
 
The story hops back and forth through key events in LeeAnn’s life, which as, LeeAnn herself admits, is a glimpse into the life and mind of a person with bipolar.
 

 
There are times in the telling of this story when I worry that I cannot keep the reader on track. Then again, this is a book about the bipolar experience, so why should I be able to do that? After all, my life has been up and down, down and up. Around a left-turn corner. Around a right-turn corner.
 

 
I can understand the rationale for that approach. However, as a person with bipolar disorder, I found it difficult to follow her journey. People who struggle with the illness are often obsessed with things being in a specific order–to the point of OCD. (LeeAnn mentioned her struggles with OCD too.) In order to create a linear progression of her life, I had to, as a classic sign of a bipolar person, go back and highlight the year in each chapter to understand what happened first, next, and so on. Nonetheless, the non-linear approach is a good representation of a bipolar mind for those who don’t face it firsthand.
 
I know family and friends of bipolars will appreciate the chapters by her husband and daughter. They were honest, heartfelt, and demonstrated the power of a strong support system. The importance of a good doctor is a continuous thread in the book.
 
Overall, I recommend The Bipolar Experience by LeeAnn Jefferies and Eva Marie Everson to family and friends of those struggling with the nauseating see-saw of this illness. For those who face this struggle, The Bipolar Experience is a reminder that God can use our circumstances (including illnesses) for good, but only if we let Him. LeeAnn is a great example of that. I am. You can be too.
 
 
***
 
 
Come alongside… Do you know someone with bipolar disorder or another mental illness? How can you support them? Do you see signs of mental illness in yourself? What can you do to get help? If you have been diagnosed with a mental illness, how are you managing your life? Comment in the box below where it says, “Leave a Reply.” Remember, you can comment anonymously.
 
 

Enfolded in God’s Arms (Book Review)

 
Hi, friends!
 
One of the things I try to do on this site is to let you know of resources that have helped me and could help you in your walk with God–and with others.
 
Enfolded in God’s Arms by Lisa ArĂ© Wulf is one of the books I think you should look into, especially if you feel stuck in life.
 
lisawulfbookcover
 
Enfolded in God’s Arms is a 40-day devotional for people who need healing in their lives. Isn’t that all of us? 🙂
 
Each of Lisa’s reflections include:

  • Scripture verse
  • Devotional entry
  • Questions to ponder
  • Prayer
  • Journal space

 
The delicate flowers on the cover set the tone for the book. The fragile vase is a hint at the approach Lisa uses throughout the book. From the beginning, Lisa calms the reader’s fear of digging deeper into their hurts. In the middle of each entry, she includes a section titled “Be Still for a Silent Moment with God.” I appreciated this section because it reminded me not to keep reading without listening to what God was speaking to my heart. Instead, I stopped and reflected on what I was reading and how it applied to me.
lisaarewulfheadshot
Enfolded in God’s Arms helps readers start the process of introspection, which leads to healing. It’s a great book for those who “are experts at putting on a good face.” Lisa uses a tender approach. I’ve never heard her voice, but I felt like I could hear her encouraging me.
 
Although Lisa sprinkles personal examples throughout the book, I wanted more of them! I wanted to know how she handled her struggles specifically. In my opinion, sharing more of her experiences would have helped the reader to dig even deeper. It’s a personal preference that does not detract from the book in any way.
 
I recommend Enfolded in God’s Arms by Lisa ArĂ© Wulf for anyone who experiences struggles they “can’t seem to shake.” Anyone who is starting in recovery circles, including 12-step programs, would benefit from Lisa’s book. It is non-threatening, yet challenging and transforming. It would be ideal for a small accountability group. It also makes a sweet gift to those who need a long embrace.
 
 
To learn more about Lisa, visit her Web site.
 
To purchase a copy of Enfolded in God’s Arms, click on the Amazon logo below.
 
amazon
 
 
Come alongside…. How can you benefit from Lisa’s book? In which areas of your life do you need to get unstuck? Which parts of yourself have masks? Post your comment in the box below that says, “Leave a Reply.” Remember, you can comment anonymously.
 
 

Who’s Having The Last Laugh Now?

 
Do you like watching America’s Funniest Home Videos? I do. It never gets old watching people’s antics, especially when they go wrong.
 
Most of the situations are harmless, although I’m sure some have led to an ambulance ride or two.
 
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It’s one thing to laugh at someone else’s expense for giving their six year old a bat for a piñata and then standing too close when the boy starts swinging.
 
It’s another thing to laugh at someone’s misfortune or pain.
 
Think about the recent divorce of Hollywood couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. The media have made a joke of their family’s crisis because, as some have claimed, Brad and Angelina started seeing each other while Brad was still with Jennifer Aniston, costar of the mega hit 90s TV sitcom Friends. Suddenly,  we hear…
 

  • He had it coming to him.
  • What goes around comes around.
  • Serves him right.
  • Karma is a (blank).
  • Jennifer’s having the last laugh.

 
I don’t know whether Jennifer is having the last laugh. But when I feel wronged, my initial response is to lash out, to get the final word, to see the person get what’s coming to them.
 

I want to have the last laugh.

 
Normal? Yes. Healthy? No.
 
When we rejoice in the misfortune of others–however small or great, we hurt still. We have not recovered. Our wounds are infected and need healing.
 
We know we’ve recovered when seeing the misfortune of those who’ve hurt us saddens us too.
 
Compassion, not criticism, reveals healing.
 
Compassion doesn’t come quickly. It delays. It meanders its way to us. Compassion remembers what pain feels like.
 
What to do? Ignore the hurt? Pretend it didn’t happen? Shrug it off? No. Feel the pain. Voice it out to God. Expose your feelings of betrayal before Him. Trust Him with your raw hurt.
 
Then…and you’ll know when, pray for them, that God will draw them closer to Him, that He would meet their needs, that He would heal their wounds. That He would bless them.
 
Yes–bless them.
 
For example, Job prayed for “friends” who criticized, insulted, and blamed him for all the tragedy in his life. The Bible says “the Lord released Job from captivity when he prayed for his friends” (Job 42:10a).
 
Our hurts hold us captive when we want to have the last laugh on those who’ve hurt us or our loved ones. God can release us from that captivity just like He did for Job.
 

 
The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part…. Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so Job died, an old man and full of years. (Job 42:12, 17)
 

 
Job lived peacefully. He enjoyed life. He laughed–a lot.
 
Can you hear his laughter? It isn’t a “you’ll get yours” type of laugh. It’s a laughter of healing, freedom, and compassion.
 
Job chose his last laugh. You can too.
 
 
Come alongside… Has someone hurt you or a loved one? Are you waiting to have the last laugh? How can you start healing from this hurt? How can you pray for the person who hurt you or those you love? Do you have a story of a time you prayed for someone who hurt you? Comment below in the box that says, “Leave a reply.” Remember you can comment anonymously.
 
 

6 Ways to ReCharge Your Batteries

 
Hi, there.
 
Does the mundane life drain you? The day in-day out life. The rut.

  • Wake up.
  • Get ready for work.
  • Go to work–or school.
  • Work all day.
  • Come home.
  • Have dinner.
  • Turn on the TV.
  • Fall asleep on the couch.
  • Go to bed.
  • Repeat.

I’ve been there. I am there.
 

My American Bulldog Shuga


 
But I refuse to stay there. As they say in recovery circles: I’m tired of being sick and tired.
 
Here are six ways I’m recharging my batteries.
 
 

Picking up a hobby again.

God gives us talents and interests, activities that spark life and excitement in us. When we don’t exercise those creative outlets, we grow frustrated and lack the glow that comes from things that bring us pleasure. It could be photography, writing, woodworking, sewing, to name a few.
 
This past week, I contacted a local Choral group. Lo and behold, just in time for auditions. My heart flutters just thinking about singing alongside others again.
 

Listening to the Bible.

I’m going to be honest. Reading the Bible? It hasn’t been top on my list lately. It hasn’t even been on my list. The desire to read the Bible–or anything, for that matter–has been nonexistent. Does it really need to be as cumbersome as we’ve made it?
 
So I’ve started listening to the Bible on my morning commute to work. I plug in the YouVersion Bible app into the car’s audio system. Hearing God’s word out loud early in the morning is helping me to focus on Truth throughout the day. It’s also giving me hope and faith that God is with me, even in my funk (Romans 10:17 NCV).
 

Exercising.

The dilemma… Not having enough energy to exercise versus exercising to get more energy. It’s counterintuitive, a cyclical conundrum. But I hear it works. So I’m taking small steps to make my life less sedentary. For me, that’s parking farther away at work or at the grocery store. Or doing leg lifts while at my desk. Even walking the dogs more. (Note: Morning walks in Florida… sweat central.)
 

Spending time outside.

There’s just something about being outside. I’d forgotten how much I love the green of the trees. The rustle of the grass under my feet. The sun shining on my face. (Did you know that the sun provides necessary vitamins that help with depression?)
 
The outdoors is God showing off. The work of His hands whispers to me, to you–and to anyone who will stop and notice.
 

Getting back to date nights.

Setting and sticking to a date night schedule can be difficult, especially with three kids. I’ve noticed that part of my funk is not getting to spend quality time with my husband on a regular basis. I miss those moments.
 
Planning our date nights is taking a little more creativity. Hubs and I have already decided to join the gym together. Not necessarily a date, but it’s a start. Maybe we’ll take a detour by the ice cream shop instead.
 
Anyone up for watching three kiddos?
 

Visiting my doctor.

Lastly, to be sure there’s nothing wrong other than my usual ailments, I’ve scheduled some doctor visits. Gotta take care of this temple.
 
 
My funk will come and go. It might even linger. (Oh, has it lingered.) But acknowledging my issues and working on them… That’s what the recharged life is all about.
 
 
Come alongside…. Are you in a funk? Have you ever been in a funk? How did you get out of it? What other tips can you add to this list. Please share with us in the box that says, “Leave a reply.” Remember you can reply anonymously.
 
 

7 Questions for When You Want to Stand Up for Your Beliefs

 
7QuestionsHi, friends!
 
Ever have to stand up for what you believe, knowing it might cost you something?
 

  • A relationship
  • A job
  • Your freedom
  • Your life

 
Standing up for your convictions can be difficult, especially when you’re codependent.
 
Recently, I wrestled with this very issue. And when I say I wrestled with it, I mean I thought of it during the day and dreamed about it at night.
 
I had no clue I was walking into a situation that was against my beliefs, but when confronted with it, I wanted out.
 
The codependent side of me, however, crawled up my arm, propped itself onto my shoulder, inched up to my ear, and whispered its oh-too-familiar lies.
 

You’ll disappoint everyone.
 
What will they say?
 
They won’t talk to you again, they won’t want anything to do with you, they’ll talk behind your back. They’ll say you’re weak.
 
You think you’re all that—holier than everyone else. You’re nothing. You’re a disappointment—even to yourself.
 

 
The enemy sure knows my insecurities! He can prick any of these issues and usually get a reaction out of me.
 
Not this time.
 
I knew right from wrong, and I wasn’t afraid to say so—tactfully, of course. I didn’t point fingers. I didn’t judge. I simply said I couldn’t participate, and I said why.
 
Did my voice waver? Sure it did. Was I nervous? You bet!
 
But I did it: I stood up for my beliefs.
 
Their response? Cricket. Cricket. But… it didn’t matter—not then, not now.
 
I knew who I wanted to please—and I followed through. (Wish I could always say that!)
 

Am I now trying to get people to think well of me? Or do I want God to think well of me? Am I trying to please people? If I were, I would not be serving Christ. (Galatians 1:10)
 

 
For me, it was either please God or please others, not both.
 
 
As I think about what happened, I now see seven questions that could help me make the right choice next time. I hope these seven questions help you too.
 
 

1. How am I feeling?

When something triggers our convictions, our conscience sends up red flags. Our palms sweat, our heart races, and we feel tingling in our armpits (or is that just me?). If we’re showing physical signs of excitement, we’re already not thinking clearly because our emotions are taking over. That’s when we’re more likely to react and make a rash decision (Mark 6:22). Being aware of our emotions when confronted with a compromising situation helps us to step back before making a wrong decision.
 
 

2. How does this issue or situation line up with what I believe?

Although few things in life are black and white, there are absolutes. God’s word is absolute. When we use the Bible to define right and wrong, we’ll know when we face something that goes against our beliefs. Even if the Bible doesn’t address an issue specifically, we can still apply Biblical principles to our decision-making to help us align with God’s definitions of right and wrong. Knowing our boundaries and committing to them ahead of time is essential. Decisions made on the spot tend to miss God’s mark (Matthew 26:69-75).
 
 

3. Am I feeling pressured to compromise?

When we’re surrounded by people who disagree with our beliefs—whether in words or actions, it’s tempting to go along with them. Peer pressure does exist, but it’s usually not as obvious as in childhood. (Thank goodness!) Indirect peer pressure is more common among adults. It’s also more subtle. If we’re not careful, our silence can signal acceptance. Remember, appeasing others displeases God (Mark 15:1-15).
 
 

4. Am I pressuring myself?

Oftentimes, others don’t pressure us; we pressure ourselves. Although we know right from wrong, we reason that if we follow others, we’ll finally belong. But if we stand up, we risk standing alone. Isolation is scary because God made us for relationship—with Him. When we believe that the Lord our God made us to belong to Him, not to anyone else, we know that even if we stand alone, we are never alone. We have Him. He has us. The pressure we place on ourselves to belong to others ignores the fact that we are already His (Psalm 73:23-26).
 
 

5. Who can my decision impact?

When we compromise our beliefs, we’re not the only ones to feel the results. Our families, friends, even fellow believers can suffer because of our hasty decisions (Exodus 34:5-7). Our life will look different after our fateful choice—for better or worse. Our words and actions will either build up others or tear them down. They’ll either spread the hope of God or hinder His work. Our words can give life or death (Proverbs 18:21). Our split-second decisions can confuse or even tempt others to do the same (Romans 14:21; 15:1-2; 1 Corinthians 8:13).
 
 

6. Who will I please?

Before receiving Jesus into our lives, we made decisions based on our own judgment or that of others. When we became Christians, we gave Jesus our allegiance (2 Timothy 2:4). When we do what He says is right, instead of what feels right, we please Him (Romans 8:8). We yield ourselves to His desires, His interests, His definitions of right and wrong. Basically, we do what He wants us to do. Even Christ did not please himself; instead, He did whatever pleased the Father (John 8:28-29; Romans 15:3). We follow His example.
 
 

7. How can I show God’s love?

Choosing to do what’s right, instead of what’s popular, doesn’t mean we have to be obnoxious, judgmental, or rude. We can make our decision and, if necessary, state our reason, all the while showing the gentleness of our example, Jesus Christ. When we make the right choice but express it in the wrong way, we accomplish the opposite of what God wants—for all to see Jesus through us and be drawn to Him now and for all eternity (Proverbs 12:18; 13:3; Colossians 4:6).
 
 
 
I slept soundly that night. Having a clear conscience has a way of doing that. The truth always sets us free (John 8:32).
 
 
 

 
Finally, brothers and sisters, we taught you how to live in a way that pleases God. In fact, that is how you are living. In the name of the Lord Jesus we ask and beg you to do it more and more. (1 Thessalonians 4:1)
 
 
 

 
 
 
Come alongside… Have you ever had to stand up for your beliefs? How did it go? If you haven’t had to stand up for your beliefs, what do you think would be most difficult for you? How can you prepare in the event that you will have to do so in the future? Tell us about it below in the box that says, “Leave a Reply.”
 
 

Affiliate Disclosure

Daphne Tarango is a participant in affiliate programs with Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, DaySpring, Church Source, Hazelden, Life is Good, Positive Promotions, BloomThat, CesarsWay, Christian Strong (via Conversant and ShareASale). These advertising services are designed to provide a means for sites like DaphneWrites.com to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to said merchants. Some images and articles may contain links to products on merchant sites. Should you choose to make purchases through those links, please understand that I will receive a small commission. Please do not feel like you need to use these links to make any purchases. The links are only for your convenience. Thank you.

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