Blue Heart

at Blue Heart Springs, ID

timid, brave

a hat and paddle

swoosh, swoosh

row, row

kelp and bugs in the boat

row, row

a muskrat identified by his trailing tail

baby ducks

brown pelican, fish tail hanging out mouth like a cigar

row, row

wind, that’s all

then laughter at a distance

peace

shimmering water, blue skies, white clouds, grey rocks

my heart is blue like the water and springing with life

He is so hot!

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Reading: Proverbs 5

Focus Verse: Proverbs 5:8

Keep your way far from her/him. And do not go near the door of her/his house.

The entire chapter of Proverbs 5 contains instructions on not committing adultery or being with an adulterer. God says that adultery will make people lose money and even kill them. Where does adultery start? In Matthew 5:27, Jesus says, “you have heard that it was said ‘you shall not commit adultery’ but I say to you that everyone who looks on another with lust has committed adultery in their heart”. Proverbs 4:23 says “Above all else guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” There is also a saying: “Watch your thoughts, for they become your words. Watch your words, for they become your actions. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny”.

Now, let’s go to the movies. The last film I saw had Jared Leto taking off his shirt multiple times to show off his body. Jared Leto is a 50-year-old man in a 7-year relationship. Only in Hollywood, does a woman have to endure having multitudes of women ogling her boyfriend’s body. Tom Holland, Spiderman, also has similar scenes in his movies. He is a 26-year-old boy, someone’s son that certainly doesn’t need girls and women of all ages daydreaming about his six-pack. It is only in the world and not in God’s word that this type of perversion is permitted and encouraged. It is a perversion.

At one time I was boy crazy. That time has passed. I see men, boys, brothers, fathers, sons- not pieces of flesh to consume. This instruction goes both ways for men and women. God made the marriage bed sacred for a purpose. And those not in marriage, in 1 Corinthians 7:8, St.Paul says that it is better to be unmarried like he.

Reflection: How do I look at men/women of the opposite sex (outside of my marriage-if married)?

Prayer: Guard my heart, Lord, God, and keep my thoughts clean and pure as you would have them. ~Amen

The High Noon Christian

Image by RÜŞTÜ BOZKUŞ from Pixabay

Reading: Proverbs 4

Proverbs 4:18

But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, That shines brighter and brighter until the full day.

Isn’t the dawn beautiful with it’s many hues? But full day is necessary for crops to grow and even the body needs vitamin D from the full sun. Christianitity can be likened to the transition from dawn to high noon. In the beginning, the newborn Christian only gives a little lightness to the darkness around them but as they grow in their walk with Jesus, so grows their light. In addition, those around them need this light to grow themselves.

Reflection: Am I a dawn, midday, or highnoon Christian? How can I reach high noon so that I may shine with fullness the likeness of God for those around me?

Prayer: Lord, Help me to reach the brightness of full day in my relationship and walk with you. ~Amen.

Wise enough to be Humble

Image by OpenIcons from Pixabay

Reading: Proverbs 3

Proverbs 3:13 (NAS)

How blessed is the man who finds wisdom, And the man who gains understanding.

“Noone knows it all, no one, except the Almighty, Himself. It doesn’t matter how long you have been in business or a certain industry, what your education is, etc., you do not know it all and you never will. You may be an expert in your field, but someone always knows something you don’t know. And, of course, God knows it all. Seeking wisdom is not a sign of weakness or lack of intelligence. It is just the opposite. It takes more courage to admit you need help or knowledge. Humility is talked about a lot in the bible. Be humble, look for wisdom so that you can truly serve others with your business in the best way possible”

-excerpt from Making God #1 in Your Business by Mauri Rene

In nursing, I think that the most trustworthy nurses ask questions and look things up. I have less trust in nurses that claim to know everything about everything; plus those types of people are never fun to be around. One of my favorite nurse practitioners has a medical book on her desk that she frequently checks. She is very knowledgeable and thorough in all her assessments and treatment plans. She is an expert but is humble enough to check the drug manual frequently. She shows wisdom by continually seeking wisdom.

Reflection: Where do you get your wisdom from? Are you a life-long learner or a know-it-all?

Prayer: Lord, Help me to stay humble and continually seek wisdom at home, school, work, and play.

The Path of the Unrighteous

Image by No-longer-here from Pixabay

Reading: Proverbs 2

Proverbs 2:20

So you will walk in the way of good men, And keep to the paths of the righteous

When I was 16 years old, I was not in the path of the righteous. I was in the path of the unrighteous. One night, this path was more dangerous than typical. Living unrighteously is always dangerous. I was living with my boyfriend, his dad, and his dad’s girlfriend. His dad liked to get high on marijuana, pain pills, and alcohol all at once. He wasn’t an angry man but this night was different. He had a gun and pointed it at each of our heads in turn saying “Say your prayers because tonight is the night you are going to die”. I believed him. My boyfriend and I were able to escape death that night and eventually I was able to escape that lifestyle. Eventually, I was able to walk safely with good people in the path of the righteous.

This is an extreme example of being on an unrighteous path and the consequences therein. Listening to vulgar music is another example of an unrighteous path. The consequences of listening to vulgar music would be more subtle, like producing negative or vulgar thoughts or speech. But Proverbs 2:7a-8 says “He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, Guarding the paths of justice And He preserves the way of His godly ones”. God protects the righteous. But how will we know we are on the path of righteousness? Proverbs 2:9 “Then you will discern righteousness and justice And equity and every good course.” We will know by discernment and that is our prayer today.

Prayer:

Dear Lord,

Help to keep me and my loved ones on the path of righteousness. Give us discernment to choose the good course, be it a place we physically go or words we hear and put in our minds and hearts.

Reflection:

Are you listening to anything that is unrighteous? Decide today to replace it with something righteous and in line with God’s word.

Wisdom in Self-Talk

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Reading: Proverbs 1

Proverbs 1:5

A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel.

 “When you are around a critical person, the kind who finds fault with everything, you can set limits on your exposure to this person’s constant criticism. You can change subjects, rooms, houses, or continents. You can leave. But what if this critical person is in your own head? What if you are the person with the problem? What if you have met the enemy, and the enemy is you?”

-excerpt from “Boundaries” by Dr.Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend

Sometimes listening to our own counsel is an unwise decision. The enemy within often says things that our friends would never think or say: “You can’t do it. You are ugly. You aren’t smart enough or good enough”. We must constantly fill our minds with wise counsel so that we will give wise counsel to ourselves.

Philippians 4:8 tells us to think about whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. This includes how we talk to ourselves.

Reflection:

If you struggle with negative self-talk, please insert your name in the blank, and meditate on these statements that are based on scripture.

_______________________ can do all things through God who gives him/her strength. (Phil. 4:13)

_______________________was created in the image of God. (Gen.1:27)

God knows the plans for __________________________, they are plans of peace not evil. God gives _____________________a future, and hope. (Jer.29:11)

Prayer: Lord, help me to give myself wise counsel based on the wisdom of the scripture that you have given me.

Book Review of “Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience” by Brene Brown

The heart of “Atlas of the Heart” is a 20+ year research study by a social worker, however, it reads like poetry and looks like art. Any lay person can read this book, understand and benefit from the concepts that are beautifully mapped between the covers. I recommend this as a slow read, to sip and savor, sometimes just one page, or even one sentence at a time.

Brene believes that language, specifically the language of emotion, is crucial to improving relationships. She breaks down 87 emotions into 13 chapters defined as “places we go when…” The places we go include when things aren’t what they seem and when we self-assess. The 87 emotions are listed and explained in a way that pushes both our emotional vocabulary and intelligence. Schadenfreude is pleasure from another’s misfortune. Jealousy and envy are not the same thing. Brene defines, compares, and examines each emotion so the reader sits in the emotion with her. I believe that this sitting, this potent and precise feeling, is a powerful practice for the soul.

Here are a few samples to sit with. I recommend giving each paragraph its own slow digestion:

“The greatest threat to story stewardship is the two near enemies of building narrative trust: narrative takeover and narrative tap-out. Rather than building trust by acknowledging, affirming, and believing, we shut people down when we experience discomfort or disinterest, or when we take over the narrative and make it about our perception of what happened.”

“Power within is defined by an ability to recognize difference and respect others, grounded in a strong foundation of self-worth and self-knowledge.”

“Look people in the eye. Even when their pain is overwhelming. And when your hurting and in pain, find the people who can look you in the eye”.

“Pride is a feeling of pleasure or celebration related to our accomplishments or efforts. Hubris is an inflated sense of one’s own innate abilities that is tied more to the need for dominance than to actual accomplishments. Humility is openness to new learning combined with a balanced and accurate assessment of our contributions, including our strengths, imperfections, and opportunities for growth.”

Brene Brown, the author, doesn’t believe that we can walk in another’s shoes. She doesn’t believe that humans can read each other’s emotions but that we need to utilize precise language to cross that barrier of misunderstanding. What emotion do you think is most commonly misunderstood (please comment below)?

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Book Review of “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters” by Abigail Shrier

I first heard about this book when I was watching Joe Rogan’s podcast. It’s such a controversial book that this was one of the first of Rogan’s podcasts to be removed from YouTube. The next time I heard about it was from a colleague who recommended it to me as was recommended to him by another mental health care professional.

The culturally controversial aspect of this book is that it takes a deep dive into questioning whether transgenderism is the best and safest path for as many as seem to be on this path today. It takes a hard look at real consequences such as irreversible physical changes that occur with gender reassigning hormones and surgery. The author asks the tough question of whether or not changing genders is solving the mental health dilemma of so many girls today and whether patients are fully educated in their choices. Abigail, the author, has been called transphobic for asking these questions but, for the safety of the girls, I wonder why asking questions is so taboo.

Examples of risks of gender transitioning hormones include permanent voice changes and infertility. Testosterone can also increase the risk of heart problems and depression. Examples of risks of gender reassignment surgery include permanent inability to sexually climax and physical scarring. While affirming one’s gender may seem to help in the moment, for some, it could be a temporary band aid that covers other issues without fixing them. Social influencers on Tik Tok and YouTube don’t lay out risks but primarily showcase transitioning as a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, a grand spectacular event to be celebrated. There are also professionals that affirm and validate without weighing the pros and cons of transitioning or questioning the root cause of the desire for transitioning. For example, there are clinics in the U.S. where minors can easily get testosterone without the protective measures of a psychological exam, therapy, or follow up.

There is a risk worth noting that has been highly utilized to support transitioning. Well, is it a risk or a threat or both? Suicide. Many parents are truly scared for their child’s mental health if they don’t assist in, accept, and affirm the transitioning process. Is enabling happening in this situation? Manipulation? Is it truly in the best interest of the child long term? Are the people that ask these questions bad people, bad parents? To me, the beauty of this book is the encouragement of these conversations, the attempt to normalize the questioning itself. You don’t have to agree with everything the author says but she has things to say that are worth pondering.

Book Review of “River of Time” by Naomi Judd

I was never a big country music fan, but I remember the day that I heard the country music superstar, Naomi Judd, was publicly announced to be dead. I was on the second floor of a small gift shop in the tourist town of Medora, ND. I was in the town attending a Women’s Retreat. Had I not been at the retreat, I would have been hospitalized for my own mental health reasons. Something in my gut told me what happened to Naomi when they didn’t state her cause of death over the radio. Something in my soul knew her pain.

I felt God led me to the retreat to help me heal internal wounds. God also led me to learn Naomi’s story and read her book. Naomi Judd ended her book, River of Time, with advice to others on how to cope with depression and anxiety. Because she ended her own life, her advice is not negated. She gave us the most vulnerable part of herself in this book. Naomi’s life story may not have provided us with the kind of hope that comes from fairytales, but she gave us herself and how much more can a person give?

I was surprised at many things in the book. First, this singer/songwriter was a nurse and a single mom. Then, her deep, dark, and ugly family history. Another surprise was the included scientific terminology and explanations related to psychiatric health, illness, and treatment. Her raw descriptions of inpatient experiences were also quite shocking. Naomi spared no detail in letting the reader into these intimate moments of her life.

The entire book could be a trigger for some people, or for people like me, it can feel like a new friend. This friend has struggles, she has a history to be shared, stories to tell, and feelings to be expressed. In some ways, Naomi was lucky to afford the treatment modalities that she went through as stated in the book; many others cannot afford and/or do not have the connections to such practitioners who became her friends and mentors. But more so, we are lucky that this celebrity was willing to use her platform to so openly share the plight of depression, anxiety, panic, and suicidal ideation.

I would recommend this book to those that struggle with mental illness, those with family/friends that are struggling, those in the field of mental health, and those that just want to understand. This is a well-thought-out book that weaves the full breadth and depth of personal experience and professional wisdom so that it’s hard to put down.

Rest In Peace Naomi Judd. Thank you.

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Intrusive Thoughts: Words From My Family

Image by ElisaRiva from Pixabay

Emotional/Verbal Abuse and Trauma:

You will always be a follower, never a leader- Mom.

You have more in life than you deserve -Facebook post by a sister when asking for help caring for a gravely ill child.

She says she isn’t related to you and she doesn’t even know you. -My friend told me of what a sister said to other school friends; parents dismiss this as a nonissue to this day.

Me and your dad agree that you will never graduate high school- Mom.

Quit school. Have a beer. You are wasting your time. You also owe me for groceries. -Dad.

You cannot handle the music, friends, or movies that your siblings can so you are grounded from them all. -Mom

You almost caused our divorce. -Mom

You are stupid!- as Stepdad chased me out of the house and I drove away in fear.

Spiritual Abuse and Trauma:

Come out demons! You are demon possessed. -as Mom pressed one palm firmly on my forehead and raised her other hand high in the air. There was no warning.

Recognizing these statement as abuse and trauma have been incredibly beneficial to me; to recognize that these statements weren’t normal or ok. Recognizing these statements as abuse also have validated my internal struggle of self worth.

I want to tell you, dear reader, that if you received messages like this: you are not alone and your struggle is valid.