I like to take artistic steps to help manage my anxiety. I feel calmer, more balanced and overall happier when I have a creative outlet or project. However there are also some very practical ways to deal with daily anxiety and depression that have helped me. As I mentioned before prayer and reading the Bible is something I need to do daily to help settle my mind. If I don’t my day is muddled and so are my feelings. Its an anchor for me. Another anchor that I use is journaling. I was told by a therapist early on with my struggles of depression that daily journaling of your feelings, your thoughts is a healthy way process them. When I am extremely worried about someone or something journaling about it gives me a place to put it.
I don’t usually journal every day but I do tend to fall back on it when I am struggling with a situation or feelings in general. Journaling gives a clear way to see what the real situation is vs, what I’ve built it up to be. I have also learned that with prayer journaling I can write down my biggest fears, concerns and worries and then give it over to God who knows exactly how to take care of them.
There are some agreed thoughts on journaling. Most therapists I have talked to preferred you journal long hand vs keeping a journal on your computer or tablet. Writing out is a very cathartic process. I tend to journal in lists vs writing a long letter or prayer out, it helps me organize my thoughts. I was also told early on to end on a positive note. One of the ways I do that is by writing three things I am thankful for at the end of my journaling time. Thankfulness is a wonderful tool to stopping your brain from going on down the negative train track. I have found this works even when your not journaling. If your in a situation or having one of those days where all you can think about is how bad things are, start naming what your thankful for. You will be surprised how soon you’ll start to feel better about the situation.
I am really starting to get into Art therapy and incorporating them in my journaling. There are a number of fun art therapy prompts on Pintrest and I’ve even gotten my daughters to make a few with me. On days I struggle with my emotions and just don’t have words to write it down with, these prompts have really helped me find peace. You might also find that an art journal vs a written journal is more therapeutic for you, especially if you can draw. (not my talent)
If journaling has worked for you as you 2 become brave leave me a comment. If you have a favorite art therapy prompt, let me know about it. So far my favorite has been drawing yourself in the rain.
I miss my grandma’s. Both of them were so influential in my life. Both of them loved to collect old things from their childhood. If you still have your grandma, give her a hug or call her today for me. When both of them died I was allowed to pick some of there things and I tried to pick what reminded me of them the most. My maternal grandmother, Helen collected souvenir spoons and plates. Collecting souvenir spoons I have found is definitely a thing of the past. Spoon holders can only be found in antique stores and finding souvenir spoons has become a family hunt for us on any vacation. Our last trip to Myrtle Beach we could not find any spoons except in the Ripley Believe it or Not Aquarium and a small collector store in the North Myrtle Beach Mall.
My Grandmother Helen had two spoon racks, both a dark wood, in her yellow kitchen. She was a baker and a wonderful cook so I always associate cooking and baking with her. My middle child Lucy loves to bake and I often think she has some of my Grandma Helen’s spirit. When I inherited the racks I had them hung up until one of our pipes burst and our downstairs flooded a few years ago. I recently decided it was time to make my house look how I want it so I got the racks out to hang. The dark wood just didn’t look right with all the light wood and and white in my kitchen so after much prayer and thought I decided to paint them.
It took three coats of white wood paint to transform the spoon holders. My parents had gifted me a smaller one a few years ago for the spoons I collect. I hung them up in my kitchen and noticed the how the blank space above would look nice with something written. I tried a few different wall scriptures I had found but finally settled on 1 Corinthians 13:13 ” And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the Greatest of these is love. On Grandma’s Largest spoon holder I placed all her spoons. Some of my favorites of hers are ones that my uncle brought back from Italy for her and Budapest, Hungry, where her family originated from.
She has a Mariott Great America spoon, one of our family’s favorite places to have a reunion when I was growing up.
On the middle rack went all the spoons we have collected as a family. With our trip to Myrtle beach we have filled that rack. The third smallest has spoons my mom has gotten me on her trips or David has brought back on his work trips. They are the places we will all someday go together I hope. The rack is such a good reminder of the blessed vacations and trips God has allowed us to go on. It brings me great memories and helps on those days I need some encouraging.
We had a wonderful vacation this past June in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It was our first real beach vacation as a family. One of my favorite things we did was walk down to the shore and collect sea shells. I collected a whole gallon size bag and decided apart from the two spoons I got for my collection I would make my souvenirs from my shells.
I found so many ideas and things to do with them on line but to start I wanted to make a monogram of the shells first before I tried anything else. So when we returned home it was one of the first crafts I made. While collecting seashells I really liked the really little ones and initially planned on making it entirely of that but because of the way this wooden M was shaped I decided instead I would use as many different shapes as I could.
Before we left Myrtle beach I had already cleaned my seashells. To clean them I put them in a 2 gallon bucket with bleach water and let them sit for at least 5 hours, a few times overnight. Then using a small brush I cleaned anything remaining off and laid them on towels to dry on our balcony. That way when I brought them home they didn’t smell and were ready to store until I could make my projects out of them. The first step to making the seashell monogram was to find a wooden letter. I found mine at Walmart very inexpensive, you can find them at almost any craft store as they are very popular. First I laid out a pattern of the shells as carefully as I could on the M. It did not end up being the final design but allowed me to see just how many shells I needed and how I would need to place them so that they overlapped. I also used a number of our broken shells to wrap around or layer by the whole shells. Then I took the shells off and laid them out on paper towels (you could use newspaper too) and sprayed them, front and back with Rust-o-leum Painters Touch Ultra Cover Clear Gloss. This gives the shells a shiny sheen so that they look like they are still wet. While they dried I painted the front and the sides of my M white and let that dry overnight. It took about two coats.
Once the M and the shells were dry I got out a plastic knife ( you can also use a wide Popsicle stick or stir stick) and my SimpleSet pre-mixed Thin -set Mortar in white. I love this stuff and a little goes a long way. I layered the mortar on one area at a time and pressed the shells into the mortar. I used my favorite small shells for the skinny legs of the M and the big shells for the large ones. Once all the shells have been placed I let my piece dry in the sun for about 2 hours before moving it. I wrote the date of our vacation and where we went on the back of the M and hung it on my command center wall in my kitchen.
Its a wonderful reminder of the fun we had this summer.
Making jewelry is one of the things I truly enjoy. Lately a bracelet I made for one of my physical therapists has been on my heart. I was in physical therapy for 8 months after back surgery. Although I went from barely walking with crutches to walking, driving and swimming again I still graduated with only managing the nerve pain in my foot. It improved but today is still there. I had two physical therapists that I learned to rely on as I saw them up to three times a week. Physical therapy taught me a lot about plodding. It was a marathon not a quick race by any means. Healing of this kind takes perseverance and learning to see the small improvements as encouragements. This was something I definitely had to learn. I can remember a few months before I was done with my physical therapy one of my therapists was dismayed as I seemed to plateau. She was almost as frustrated as I was. But I believe God heard my small prayers for her afterword and then next visit we found exercises that released my nerve and lessen the pain in my foot temporarily. I made them both bracelets and gave them to them at my last visit. One of them was based on Romans 5:3-4.
“And not only this but, (with joy) let us exalt in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship (distress, pressure trouble) produces patient endurance and endurance proven character (spiritual maturity) and proven character, hope and confident assurance (of eternal salvation.) AMP version.
This verse to me is the importance of plodding. We need to learn how to plod thru our sufferings and hardships with joy. That can be a really, really hard thing to do and it takes a total change of how we view things. God doesn’t always use tragic events to teach us how to plod or abide in him. He uses hardships like the person at work you just can’t get along with, your child hitting their teen years, daily hardships we need to find joy in. When you are in these hardships or tests it’s important to remember that God hasn’t left you, still hears you and will establish you in the end. He challenges us to do do things in that testing like, pray for our enemies, (which is really hard!), have patience and wear kindness and love. Give when we think we have nothing left to give and depend on him to provide for us when we can’t see how he can.
I recently finished a wonderful Bible plan on Youversion called Everyday Supernatural by Mike Pilavachi and Andy Croft. On day six he writes about the importance of plodding. He tells the story of a missionary names William Carey. Carey went to India in 1793 to spread the gospel. While he was there three of his seven children died, his wife developed mental illness, Carey suffered a skin condition that would not allow him in direct sunlight and in the first 7 years of his time there he did not see a single person convert to Christianity. In that first 7 years he also lost six years worth of work one night when his manuscripts were destroyed in a fire. How hard it must have been to keep going as adversity after adversity hit him.
But at the end of his life he saw thousands of people come to know God and he opened up a way for other missionaries to enter India. He translated the Bible into Bengali, Oriya, Assamese, Arabic, Hindi and Sanskrit. He is known now as the father of modern missions. Carey himself was once quoted as saying in response to a question about what he thought his greatest gift was, “ Mr Carey’s greatest gift was that he new how to plod.” It’s in plodding through our hardships God grows greatness thru us.
The bracelet is designed to look much like a vine. The cross at the beginning is green so that it represents Christ and us abiding in his vine as described in John 15:4-5 “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself, it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine you are the branches, If you remain in me and I In you, you will bear much fruit, apart from me you can do nothing.”
The yellow flower represents the joy that will grow in us when we suffer our hardships and when we celebrate our mountain tops. We will learn to put our joy in the Lord. As in Romans 5:3-4 The pearl represents patient endurance. The brown or bronze flower represents the growth of proven character or as the NLT version says strong character. The jade green bead represents hope.
When we became Christians God did not promise us new lives with no trouble. He actually promised the opposite saying that we will have trouble but Jesus has already overcome it. I hope in whatever your plodding thru today this gave you some encouragement that plodding thru hardships is part of His plan to grow you into something great.
Other verses this piece of jewelry brought to mind are:
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way to get the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:24 NIV
I am the true vine, and my father is the gardener (vine dresser). He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, so that it will be even more fruitful. John 15:1-2
I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard. My loved one has a vineyard on a fertile hillside. Isaiah 5:1
Shoes have become a struggle for me. When you are faced with a long physical recovery it’s amazing how the small things in life can get really hard. As I explained in my previous blogs I am recovering from a ruptured disk and nerve damage in my right foot. Because of the neuropathy in my right foot I can no longer comfortably walk around barefoot or in my flip flops this summer. I have been sentenced to tennis shoes.
Which isn’t horrible in and of itself by any means, But it does limit ones wardrobe. I’ve actually been very blessed with a husband who works for a well known athletic company, which has allowed me to wear tennis shoes that are supportive and sturdy. But, I’ve never been one to like to wear tennis shoes with a dress or skirt and well, I like dresses and skirts. Last summer since I was hobbling about on crutches I figured the last thing to worry about was my shoes but this summer without crutches or a cane I decided I needed to have a pair of shoes I could wear that would work. I went to Kohls armed with coupons and bought these brown shoes.
It was a stressful experience as I had to buy a whole size and a half bigger than my feet were prior to the accident just to get my orthotics and swollen right foot in the shoe. My left foot sloshed around in the big space so after applying heel guards and tissues it finally stayed on. It wasn’t a good solution so I avoided dresses for a few weeks until I stumbled upon a pin in pinterest where they were decorating white canvas tennis shoes. I thought to myself, this is awesome I can make dressy tennis shoes. The pair in the pin I liked was a pair of oxfords. That very next week Michaels happened to have a sale on their canvas shoes and I bought two pairs.
I liked the oxford idea a lot but then I remembered when I was 11 my mom had bought me a pair of pink saddle shoes that I wore everywhere. I loved them. I thought to myself why not? I’ll bring the saddle shoe back so I began to make myself a pair, this time black.
I started out by finding pictures of saddle shoes and drew the outline of the back leather on the shoes in pencil. The stitching on the shoes I could use for a guide at the heel area. Using a small flat paintbrush I painted black acrylic paint on the shoes in all the black areas and let the shoes dry overnight.
The next day I used a black sharpie and outlined the black areas to smooth out the borders. Using an artist eraser I erased any pencil lines remaining on the shoe. Then I took white acrylic paint and using the tip of the handle of the brush I created the little white dots around the border of the face of the shoe and heel. I let that dry till that evening. Once the paint was dry and set I used KIWI Protect-All sealant for leather and fabric footwear all over the shoes, especially on the painted areas to keep the paint from running or smearing when wet. The sealant does have to dry too so be sure to set them out for a few hours to let them dry. I was very happy with the result and thankful that I now had a pair of dressy shoes to wear.
I did make a second pair as oxfords only I made mine pink. My teenager even liked them.
Have a solution to two different sized feet? Have you made your own pair of canvas tennis shoes? Share in the comments below.
My last blog was about time and God’s ultimate control of it.(It’s About Time ) God is also in control of the seasons in our lives. A year ago I was in a very dark season. I couldn’t sit for more than 30 minutes at a time, spent most of my day in bed and walked around on crutches. This past week I spent at Camp Allendale in Trafalgar, IN with an amazing group of people and my daughter, Lucy. I walked 5 plus miles a day, (something I had not been able to do since my back injury) Sang and danced during worship and attempted the “Blob” at the lake.
I remember the first week of July last year taking Lucy to camp. I was miserable. I insisted on going because I didn’t have faith anyone else could get her checked in ( not true). I hobbled around on my crutch in tremendous pain and know I said some unkind words as a result. I am very sorry for them. Had I known the next year I would be blessed with a chance go to and serve I wouldn’t have believed you, I was at my lowest point.
It is amazing when God meets you in a valley. Sometimes you have to look really, really hard to find him there, other times he sweeps in so unexpectedly it wrecks you. Last year when I was in these dark points I did all I could to cling what I believed. I read and watched anything that gave me a breath of God and his promises. At this time there were some free workshops available through Mark Virkler of CWG Ministries. One of them was a video series on how to hear God’s voice and I watched the series on my phone. It was mainly on prayer and christian meditation. Towards the end of each video Mark would lead the group in a christian meditation that was just imagining spending time with Jesus by the sea of Galilee. One of the days I was watching the video had been especially hard and I was in a lot of pain. As I was led in the meditation I saw myself as a little girl walking with Jesus on the sea shore. Jesus stopped, lifted me up and held me on his chest the way I hold my three-year-old when he’s crying, the way I held all my kids. That wrecked me. I don’t know how long I cried but I did a long time. I never would have imagined that Jesus would love me enough to do that, that he saw my pain the way I see my kids pain. It was one of the strongest gifts he could have given me as from that point on I tell myself that’s what he’s doing whenever things get hard.
It was unexpected, but not as unexpected as what happened this year. A few weeks ago We were in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. We stumbled on this small art store that featured paintings by Mark Kealthery. My girls and I love art. So we were walking thru the store oohing and awing at the paintings. They were beautiful and many depicted Jesus, always smiling. There was an upstairs. My girls wanted to go look up there but I stayed below, not wanting to over do any walking. However, My oldest, Zoë, hollered down, “Mom you have to come up and look at this!” Grumbling, “Don’t make me climb the stairs,” I climbed them and was greeted with a beautiful picture I can’t even remember, I can’t remember because of what I saw next. A painting of Jesus holding a brown headed child, just like I held my kids, just like he held me, and I started crying like a baby. How good is a God who loved me so much, knew me so well that he gave the same picture to a man I didn’t know who could paint it and place it in a gallery I would just happen to walk in. It was a divine appointment. Knowing that these paintings were more money than I could spend at the time I composed myself, snapped a quick picture told my husband and the shop keeper, a very sweet lady, my story ( I had never told anyone before,) and we were on our way.
God is a God of redemption, not only in us but in our lives as well. Going to Allendale this year was a true act of redemption and trust. I did more physically last week than I thought possible and was constantly being put out of my comfort zone. I fell in love with the kids and the adults I worked beside and was challenged to show compassion, strength and to answer some tough questions about my faith. I came home on Friday with my tank full and thankful. But God wasn’t done blessing me yet. You see after we traveled to Gatlinburg we went on our vacation to Myrtle Beach, which was a wonderful restful time. There was another store that featured Mark Kealthery paintings that I did not see. My husband and daughter Zoë snuck in there during a bathroom break and purchased the painting and had it mailed to our house. When I returned home from Allendale, Dave had unpacked the picture and set it in our room where I would not miss it. His generous gift was not only unexpected and beautiful but told me how much my husband loves me. Now that I wasn’t so emotional I got a good look at the painting. Jesus is actually holding a little brown haired boy and there are two blonde girls in the background. For me it was all three of my children playing protected by the Sea. I had prayed for there protection every day for almost three weeks as we traveled and I went to camp, The painting that will hang in my living room is now God’s promise that He loves them just as much as He loves me, as much as He loves you.
He is a God of redemption. In Psalm 103 it says, “Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not his benefits, who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion…”
Last summer I was very broken and felt very alone. My girls struggled with new responsibilities and coping with a mom who couldn’t mother very well at the time. This year God is healing those broken places left by the last year. I am so thankful and grateful for His redemption.
Have your own amazing God story of redemption? Feel free to share in the comments below!
We all have big fears, big, irrational fears, but what about the small daily fears? You know the ones that hit every day without fail? One of my little daily fears is time. What about time scares me? Running late. In fact running late has haunted me since I was really little. Growing up I absorbed how upset my parents would be when they ran late or how they would speak of others running late. I equated running late with being impolite or down right rude. It was breaking a rule and younger Kelly was never a rule breaker. Before kids I was rarely late. In fact I prided myself on being early. Yep that dirty word pride. But as any parent of a child under the age of 4 has learned you will be late. But that didn’t stop me from trying to not be.
The day I ruptured my back I was worried about running late to a new Doctor appointment. I think many of the poor decisions I made that day was due to my mis-management of time. But when I look back as I often do in these situations it wasn’t me that causes the lateness it is the surrounding circumstances, you know the things out of your control. So I think that is the whole point because well were not in control. Certainly not in control of time.
Once I surrendered to the thought that I have no control if I arrive on time or not It was so freeing. Yes I still want to be on time but I finally admit I am subject to circumstance like everyone else. I’ve also learned to admit that when I am running late sometimes these unplanned events are actually God’s protection. How many times if you would have left 5 minutes earlier been caught in a bad car accident? Its happened to me mutliple times. God’s time is sovereign in so many ways.
The Bible is full of examples of God putting the right people at the right time. Ester, David, Deborah, Jael, they all were in the right places at the right time and it wasn’t from their planning. I believe God is in control of our timing whether or not we are aware of it. Ecclesiasties 3 is dedicated to God’s control of time but really like what it says about God in verse 11. The NIV version says “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart, yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
So what do I do when I am running late and that panic sets in. I pray. Did you know you can pray for God to increase your time? He can also help you move in his time. He can give you peace with time. I didn’t realize that until recently that he’s already worked time in our favor. When time seems to be the obstacle Gods just inviting us to trust. I still don’t like being late. I still stress out over getting to places and being on time but in those freak out moments I can tell myself to pray and trust that God will take care of it all in the end.