Posted in Uncategorized

Thanksgiving Chaos

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him

Colossians 3:17

We have made it to the beginning of the craziness of the Holiday season. Some may have already been traveling or had various events, but tomorrow is the first of the two holidays that end the year.

Gathering as family, friends, strangers in thankfulness. Or at least we are supposed to. Lots of times, these gatherings bring together broken families in fragmented ways, create spaces of fighting and anxiety, or can be the most dreaded times.

This year as the gatherings take place, I invite you to take care of yourself. Set the boundaries you need to set. Ignore the questions that everyone asks every year that make you grind your teeth.

Please know you are not alone this holiday season as you begin to sink down the spiral of mental health struggles. If you need to reach out, please comment on here or reach out to your support system.

I am rooting you on as you conquer this holiday season. Please do take time to enjoy something from the day! The food, seeing someone you haven’t seen in forever, a conversation, getting rest.

My prayer for you: Lord. Holidays can be rough. We go through them every year but sometimes the struggles get to be too much. The people we’ve lost this year, the people we try to protect ourselves from, the food that everyone expects us to eat. Lord I ask that You be with each and every person that struggles on the holidays. Let Your presence be what draws them through. We are thankful for You Lord. Amen.

Posted in Devotion

I Surrender All

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” -Job 1:20-21 (NIV)
If we had no other knowledge of the story of Job or grief practices of the ancient world, these two verses could easily be mistaken as a happy response. However, even with slight knowledge of ancient grief practices, the stripping off of clothes and shaving of the heads is a clear sign of grief. Now we add on the fact that in the first nineteen verses of this chapter, Job loses everything from his possessions to his family minus the few servants that were spared to tell Job of his misery.
Job lost his livestock, his servants, his sons, and daughters. As the Bible tells the story, it all happens where on messenger isn’t even finished before the next messenger comes in to tell of the next tragedy.
Those with mental health struggles know that sometimes the voices in our mind can be just like these messengers in Job. Telling us negative thoughts, reminding us of tragedies, and telling us how horrible of a person we think we are. The start going off before the others are finished and before we know it, we are spiraling down the path none of us want to be on.
As Christians, we typically begin to question God, asking him questions of why it is that we have to suffer through this. Even if it is not done in the on our knees with hands folded and head bowed, this is still a form of prayer. We still find ourselves communicating with God. We too find ourselves falling to the ground and finding communion with God.
We may not be as explicit as Job, saying that the name of the Lord is to be praised. Definitely not in the moment anyway, but we are still reaching out in communication to God. This is an act of worship. You are worshiping even if you just seem to be throwing questions to God.
I have a tendency to think back to the story of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Jesus falls on his face in prayer to God. He asks for the cup to be taken from him. I can’t help but to think when we are doing this, we are doing the same thing. Job is doing the same thing.

We may see this moment of falling on our faces or kneeling into prayer as a sign of defeat, but I see this as falling into the arms of God.

Prayer:
Lord, I confess that sometimes I get taken down the spiral of anxiety or depression faster than I can even realize. Lord, I know that I come to You with questions and with doubts, but You Lord, see this as purely me coming to You in my times of trouble. You take pleasure in me talking with you even when I am only asking questions. You open Your arms wide and hold me while I fall apart. I can’t be more thankful for the love You have for me. You are worthy of our praise at all times, during the suffering and the joy. Thank you God, in Jesus’ Name.
Amen.
Posted in Awards

Sunshine Blogger Award

I was nominated by Beverley. Beverley was one of the first followers way back when Anxious Devotions for Anxious Christians was just a baby and I had no idea what I was doing. She has stayed for the long haul and that makes this nomination so much more meaningful!

If you have not read anything over at Becoming the Oil and Wine, I definitely recommend it! The love of God and power of her words will have you growing in your faith.

Thanks again for this nomination.

What is the Sunshine Blogger Award?

“The Blogosphere community holds several awards that bloggers use to nominate a blog in appreciation for its creative, inspiring, or motivational content.”

“The award also helps other bloggers receive recognition and free exposure for their blogs.”

Award’s Rules

There are some basic rules to follow if you decide to participate:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and link their blog so everyone can visit.
  • Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.
  • Notify the nominees by commenting on their blog post.
  • List the rules and display the Award logo on your blog post.

Eleven Questions from Beverley

1. How old is your blog now?

A little under two years old. We hit two years in March 2020.

2. What do you enjoy most about blogging?

I love being able to connect with other people. I love that my writing is able to touch others and still have impact on myself as well. I love watching other people’s blog develop as well!

3. How important do you think Social Media is for the success of a blog?

I just recently made sure that my blog had social media presence on all the major social media platforms, and I have definitely seen an increase on my blog traffic already. However, it doesn’t change the fact that I had a very stable set of followers before I had any social media presence.

4. How would you define a successful blog? In other words, what do think a successful blog looks like? 

For me, I think that a successful blog looks like having a stable set of followers or a community that is able to give each other feedback and support. There is no number that defines this. I am thankful for those that fall into that area for me.

5. Describe your feelings when you received your first blogging award nomination.

I received my first blogging award nomination less than a month after starting my blog. I was so honored to think that in such a short amount of time that someone felt that my blog was worthy of a nomination. It really affirmed my calling to be a voice for others in the form of a blog. As does this nomination.

6. Have you ever thought about monetizing your blog?

I have kind of thought about it but not in depth. I really want my blog to continue being accessible to as many people as possible, and I don’t think that I need to earn money for what I am saying in my blog. I am not doing it for money I guess is what I am saying.

7. If so, what do you think is the best method of monetizing? 

For me, I am using my blog for inspiration in the devotional that I am currently working on which will be out middle of next year.

8. What kind of post do you find easiest or most enjoyable to write?

I love writing the weekly devotionals. Wrestling with the text, finding how to make it resonate with the most people, and sharing it for others is a very enjoyable process for me.

9. What do you think is best, long or short posts?

I try to fall somewhere in between. I find that with short posts people are left wanting more, but with long posts it can be difficult to keep people’s interest the whole way to the end. I also think it depends on the content of the post as well.

10. Funny/Weird Question: What is the weirdest thing you have ever eaten?

The weirdest thing that I have ever eaten is a bug in Australia. It kind of tasted like a sour lemon candy thing, but it also made my mouth kind of go numb. (Do not worry, our tour guide told me it was safe before I ate it… I don’t just pick up bugs and eat them hoping for the best, haha!)

11. What is your favourite way to unwind after a hectic day?

My favorite way to unwind after a hectic day is to make some hot tea, grab my weighted-blanket, and sit on the couch watching whatever show I am currently binge watching on Netflix or read whatever book I am currently obsessed with.

My Nominations:

1. Just My Thoughts

2. Mental Health @ Home

3. Bournemouth Girl

4.  I’m With Him

5.  Beckie’s Mental Mess

6.  Living With Mental Health

7. Pure Glory

8. Michelle

9. The Talking Bloggerac

10. The Godly Chic Diaries

11.A blonde in the crowd

These bloggers’ posts are encouraging and I am blessed by them.

Congratulations to the new nominees!

My Questions for the Nominees:

  1. What was your inspiration to start blogging?
  2. When did you start blogging?
  3. From when you started blogging till now, how has your blog changed?
  4. Do you have a favorite of your own posts?
  5. Where do you want your blog to be in 5 years?
  6. Where is one place in the world you want to travel to?
  7. What does your writing process look like?
  8. What is your favorite part of blogging?
  9. Do you have someone you look up to in the blogging world? (if not outside of the blogging world)
  10. How do you practice self-care?
  11. If you had the time and resources to do anything right now… what would it be?

Thanks again to Beverley for the nomination! Thank you all for reading! I hope you all check out all the linked blogs in this post!

To my nominees, keep up the great work!

Posted in Mental Health Awareness

November 13, 2019 “Working on Us” Week #23 Mental Health Blogging Community-Mental Health Series, Topic: Medications

Becky’s Mental Mess Original Post!

Help Break The Stigma Surrounding Mental Health

Question Prompt:

  1. When you first were diagnosed with your mental illness/disorder, did it take a while to get used to your medications that were prescribed to you?  If you answer the question, (YES), How did you feel initially? I was first diagnosed with anxiety and depression during my freshman year of college, but wasn’t immediately put on medication. It was during my third year of college that I was started on medication for anxiety and depression and then also diagnosed with PTSD.
  2. Depending on how long you have been on medication, how many times do you think it has been adjusted to make you feel stable? I was very lucky when I first got put on medication, that the original dose was enough to keep me stable for a long time. However, in the recent year, I have had my medications adjusted like 4-5 times just to keep stable.
  3. Have you ever had a bad reaction to medication? Again, I am thankful here, that I have not had a bad reaction to medication.
  4. Have you ever suffered withdrawals from a certain type of medication, and if so… What type was it? I made it very clear in the beginning of starting medication, that I did not ever want to be too attached to medication that I would have these symptoms, so no I have not had withdrawal symptoms.
  5. Do you work closely with your doctor in regards to your medication intake?  (In other words, do you have a good relationship with your doctor?) My Psychiatrist is the one I work closely with in regards to my medication intake. I currently meet with my psychiatrist every week, but have normally met with him every month. So, in other words, I have a really good relationship with my doctor.
  6. Since your diagnosis, have you ever tried to not take medication and see if you can handle your symptoms of mental illness/disorders on your own?  If so, how did that work out for you? I have frequently stopped my medications to see if I can handle it on my own. But what I think is important to mention here is that the reason I feel so ready to battle my anxiety/depression on my own is because my medication has me super stable, so once that medication is out of my system, I go back to not being as stable and quickly realize that I still need to be on my medications.
  7. Tell us briefly how medication has affected your life? I never wanted to be put on medication due to the stigma, but I cannot even put all of the benefits of being on medication in this post without writing way too much. However, it has kept me at a relatively non-anxious state-of-mind. It has lessened the depressive episodes and decreased the length of said episodes. I have been able to start to love myself for who I am and not who I think I should be.

Picture Prompt:

What do you see and how does it make you feel when you see this picture? This picture is kind of sad. It shows the fact that medicine has definitely been a push by the big pharmaceutical companies in order to make more money… This also means that the price of necessary medications go way up.

Mental health image for post

Rules:

  • Write your own post and create a pingback to the original post here.
  • There are no right or wrong answers.  Write in any format you see fit.  (Answer’s, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, poem, short prose…anything, and/or narrative).
  • You can do one or all prompts.
  • You have from November 13th. through November 19th. to submit your entries.

  • Please reblog the original post in order to spread more awareness.
  • ( If you the blogger have a suggestion/question you want to ask in the future weeks, please submit them in the comment section of this post).
  • Let’s see if we can get some men involved in this week’s prompts, your viewpoint/feelings are validated here too!
  • Plus, as an added bonus, whoever responds to the following prompts will automatically be reblogged to promote your blog site and spread more awareness!
Posted in Devotion

Don’t Carry the Burden Alone

“Let them judge the people at all times, and let it be that every major dispute they will bring to you, but every minor dispute they themselves will judge So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you.” -Exodus 18:22

Let me set the stage of this passage for you. Moses is appointed judge over all his people. At this point, Moses’ father-in-law is coming to visit. This visit doesn’t relieve Moses of his duty as judge. He was sitting as judge all day, by himself.

Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, questioned Moses on why he was doing this huge task alone. Moses answered that his people needed him. Jethro offered Moses some advice. He said that Moses should appoint some of his people as advisers to oversee the small disputes. The large disputes would still be brought to Moses, but he wouldn’t be carrying the burden alone.

What burden are you carrying alone? Are you like Moses and taking on responsibilities that could be delegated? Are you holding on to secrets you feel you can’t share with anyone? Are you finding daily tasks to be your burden?

Whatever the burden is for you, you are not meant to carry it alone. There are people out there that will rejoice in being able to help you. There is a God who is waiting for you to hand it over, so you are not carrying it alone. Start by laying it at the foot of the cross.

I know that reaching out is scary and usually avoided, but there are people out there who will listen to you and love you all the same. I am not saying that everyone is going to accept your story in a non-judgmental way. i wish I could promise you just the opposite, but I can’t.

Those people are the minority though. The majority of people want to see you succeed. I want to see you succeed.

What burdens will you be placing down to allow others to help you carry?

Prayer:

God, our strength comes from You. Sometimes we carry burdens that are too heavy for us to carry alone. Give us the strength to ask for help, guide us in reaching out to others, and comfort us in our decisions. Lord, You never meant for us to suffer alone. You never leave us even in the toughest times. Thank You God.

Amen.

© 2019 Kiersten Smeal

Posted in about me

The Next Steps…

It isn’t just about what you love. It’s about what God created you to love so that you can use it to honor Him.

-Unknown

I graduated from Messiah college in May. It’s crazy how fast four years have gone by. I now have a degree in Christian Ministries.

I got a taste of what it’s like to lead my own ministry this summer when I worked in two different state owned campgrounds as a chaplain in the park. I led two services every Sunday. It was an incredible experience to worship in God’s creation every week.

Raystown Lake

When the summer came to an end, I packed up my car and drove down to Texas. I started at SMU Perkins. I’m on my way towards a Masters of Divinity (a pretty pretentious title if you ask me).

Perkins School of Theology

When I arrived in Texas I began doubting everything. I wasn’t sure that I was meant to be here. I felt lost. I attended orientation for school, and everyone seemed so sure that this is where they were meant to be.

I was overwhelmed. I was scared.

I made a quick decision that I wanted to go home. Thankfully, some of the faculty at Perkins stepped up and talked me down. They answered my questions, showed me they actually wanted me to be here. They showed me that they cared about me. Me, a person they didn’t even know.

I spent the weekend praying that I could see that I was on the right path. God took that prayer and opened my eyes.

God showed me that I am surrounded by amazing people. From the students, to the professors, to the faculty. God showed me that I am at a place meant to allow me to flourish. I’m being academically challenged while having the room to be me.

Not even a month went by when I hit a brick wall pretty hard. I had an unfortunate experience. I began to doubt again. I wasn’t sure how that fit into the picture. Plus I was still hanging on to the signs that God wanted me here. However, throughout that experience, God placed people even closer.

Through this experience, I have realized that I am loved here at Perkins. People want me to succeed. The “Perkins Hug” as I call it. I’ve been wrapped into the arms of all those around me.

Now it’s been two months, and I am beyond sure that this is where I am meant to be. God’s plan for me includes being here at Perkins. It’s a wonderful feeling to be back in the known and not lost in the unknown.

I am another step closer to reaching my goals. It has not been a perfect journey in the slightest, but it has been a journey in the arms of our savior and I couldn’t ask for a better journey.

So, friends, that is where I am.

One step closer to the calling I’m discerning daily.

One step closer, and yet onto the next steps…

Posted in Devotion

Lift your Eyes

28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, you of little faithwhy did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”     -Matthew 14:28-33

This story about Peter comes immediately after the story of Jesus walking on the water. The disciples were terrified and believed they were seeing a ghost. Jesus responds to their fear with, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Our passage starts with Peter’s response to Jesus.

Peter, still having some doubts that it is truly Jesus walking on the water, asks for Jesus to command him to come out on the water with Jesus. Jesus grants Peter the permission he is asking for. When Peter got out on the water his gaze was focused on Jesus. He walked out to what we assume was right next to wear Jesus was standing.

However, we then read that Peter looked out to the storm and saw the wind. It was when Peter took his eyes off of Jesus that he began to sink. He shouted out for Jesus to save him. He must have been frightened as he was in the middle of the water in a storm.

Jesus immediately reaches out and grabs Peter. When I read this, I can’t help but think that Jesus reaches out to grab Peter as he cries out for Jesus to save him. Jesus doesn’t let Peter sink. Jesus doesn’t let Peter even fall into the water. Jesus reaches out and catches Peter.

When Jesus catches Peter, he asks why Peter doubted. Why did Peter doubt? We do not read that Peter lost faith in Jesus. We read that he looked at the storm. He took his eyes off of Jesus and began to see what was going on around him. It is exactly when Peter takes his eyes off of Jesus and began to focus on the storm that he doubted.

How does this play out in our lives? When are the storms all around you stealing your gaze away from Jesus? When we begin to focus on the storms of our lives we are taking our eyes off of Jesus and we begin to sink. We become fearful and call out to Jesus. We call out to God. We want someone to save us.

Jesus is reaching his hand out to catch you. Jesus will not let you fall into the stormy waters. But Jesus is asking you why you have doubted. What storm is it that took your gaze off of him. Jesus is refocusing your attention back on him.

So, step out onto those waters eyes locked on the Lord and know that Jesus commands the storms to stop.

Prayer:

God, the creator of the winds and the rain, we know that there will be storms in our lives. We know that when we keep our eyes on Jesus, we are provided the strength and capability to even walk on water. Help us, Lord, to keep our eyes on you. To not lose focus as we continue stepping out closer to you. And when our eyes begin to drift towards the storm, we thank you for reaching out and catching us. You never let us fall. You never let us drown. In Jesus name.

Amen.

© 2019 Kiersten Smeal

Posted in Devotion

Imago Dei vs. Self-Love

“So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.”

Genesis 1:27

Right off the bat, lets clear up some definitions here. “Imago Dei” is translated as “the image of God.” As we can see in Genesis 1:27, humankind was made in the image of God in the creation story.  Self-love is usually defined briefly as love of self. However, something we learn very early is to not use the word in the definition, so let’s try again. Self-love is “belief that you are a valuable and worthy person (Self-Love).”

Now that we are on the same page, we can clear up a common misconception between these two terms. Often, the ability to love ourselves, when in constant battle with ourselves, is nearly impossible. Some days it seems to be easier than others, but most days we struggle to see ourselves of any worth. Here’s the good news though: God has created You in God’s image, sent Jesus to live, die, and resurrect for you, and there is nothing you can think, say, or do to have God see you any differently.

That being said, your worth and value comes from something more than yourselves. Your worth and value can never change. Whether you see that value and worth is not a question of whether you are worthy and valuable. Therefore in our moments of the lack of self-love, we are not denying our imago dei. We are not denying that we are created in the image of God. We are having difficulty seeing that worth and value in ourselves. We are in a moment of trial and struggle.

What can we do about it? We can remind ourselves that our worth and value does not depend on whether we give it to ourselves or not; it is always there. We can have faith that we are worthy and valuable and hold on to that eternal truth found in Genesis 1:27 when we are unable to see it for ourselves.

Prayer:

Almighty God, ever-loving and always present. You created us in Your image. You have decided our worth and value when You sent Your Son to die for us, and then You took that and raised him from the dead to show that You make all things good. God, help us to remember what You think about us when all we see in ourselves is less than unworthy. Help us hold that truth that nothing we can think, do, or say will cause You too see us in any other way. Thank You for always pushing me to be who You say I am.

Amen.

© 2019 Kiersten Smeal

Posted in Devotion

The Least of These

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ -Matthew 25:34-36

Those of you who are familiar with this passage knows that those who are being told this, question when it is that they have done any of this. Their question is answered by, “Truly, I tell you whatever you did for the least of these… you did for me.” So often this passage is used for mission trips, service acts, and any other hands on projects the church goes out and does; however, I think using this passage in that way misses the point.

This passage is about how we as Christians are to treat people, specifically the least, the lost, and the last of these. Yes, it specifically mentions the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the unclothed, the sick, and the prisoner, but what about the homeless, the mentally ill, the addicted, the struggling, the _____________. Do these people not matter because they aren’t listed in the parable?

Jesus answers this with the response to the righteous when they question when it is they did all of those things for him. Jesus says whatever you do for the least of these… you did for me. This answer, portrays that whatever is done for the least of these are done for Jesus, himself.

None of these things make us any less than those around us. This is another example of the role revering nature of Jesus. Jesus is taking on the identity of all of those considered “the least of these.” Jesus is identifying himself with each and everyone of one of you.

How does this change the way you see this parable? How about the way you see others?

Prayer:

Father, God Almighty, we come to You in our needs and our wants. We come to You in our joy and in our suffering. We bring to You our burdens and pain, and we accept that Your yoke is easy and that Your burden is light. We ask that we don’t miss the cry of the needy or see ourselves as lowly because of our neediness. Lord, You know what our every need is and You collect our every tear. Thank You, Lord, for all You do for each of us. In Jesus name, Amen

© 2019 Kiersten Smeal