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Counting Blessings

Sunday marked the five year anniversary of Super Storm Sandy hitting the northeast coast of the United States.  I still remember that day.  The fear of losing our home (and my husband who decided to stay behind with our dog).  I remember the relief of coming home the next day to find that compared to most people in the area, we did fairly well.  We did lose some things. But nothing compared to the devastation everywhere else.  Surrounding neighborhoods looked like war zones.  The National Guard's presence with their H1 Hummers didn't help.

For the next few weeks, we would go without heat or electricity, and with that no hot water, no internet.  This was October.  And it was not a mild fall like we have had THIS year, in 2017.  In fact, it snowed on November 1.  My kids, friends, and I found refuge (and electricity and internet) in our local library.  What got me through these times were the book, A Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp, and, when we finally got electric, going around and helping where I was able to help.

It was during that time that I discovered how counting your blessings can really change your perspective.  By physically document what I was thankful for, it removed my focus on the negative things in my life.  The sense of gratitude that I was filled with motivated me to go out and help others who were worst off.  Because no matter what your situation is- there's always someone worst off than you.  Counting my blessings and helping others made me see God at work in my life and in the lives of others.  His promises of provision, and words about thanksgiving came alive. 

I was thankful for the roof over our heads (although some areas were leaking).  Thankful for friends and family north of us who weren't affected and offered their hot showers.  Thankful for friends who came down to help people in my neighborhood.  Thankful for the friend who wanted to remain anonymous and gave me money to give to whomever I felt needed it.  Thankful for our public library.  Thankful for my camping stove that enabled me to cook decent meals without my electric stove and oven.  Thankful for no electricity so I didn't have to fight the kids to read a book!  I can fill this entry with what I was thankful for during that time, but it's time to look at NOW.


Giving thanks in all things isn't always easy.  Finding those blessings and gifts are more difficult on some days than others. But what I have learned, not just five years ago, but throughout the years is that when I give thanks in ALL things, even the tough things, I am able to get up every morning and not dread the day.

Since Thanksgiving is less than a month away, I challenge you to count your blessings.  Do the joy dare with me. Start a gratitude journal and find at least 3 things you are thankful for everyday to put in that journal.  If you're like me and you began this joy dare and have fallen off track, I challenge you to pick up your pen, open your eyes, and go for a joy treasure hunt again! My prayer is that you will continue to do this long after Thanksgiving is over.

Let's start today! What are you thankful for today?

<3,
Marie

P.S.I am aware that some of us struggle with depression that will make this challenge extra difficult.  I urge you to check out a very useful resource that I wrote about last week.

HOPE PREVAILS

I used to suffer from depression. I wrote about how motherhood and my faith in Christ saved me from depression here.  Unfortunately, not everyone gets delivered from depression just like that, though.  The sad thing is, there aren’t a lot of resources for those who suffer from depression.Or some people don't even realize that they are suffering from depression. You’d think that in this day and age we’d have more than enough resources, since some light has been shed on the prevalence of mental illness. Professional help for mental illness isn’t exactly cheap.  And finding a Christian therapist is even more difficult to find.  


This is why I love Dr. Michelle Bengtson. I came across Dr. Bengtson through my network of friends on Facebook.  Last year, I contacted Dr. Bengtson to see if I can feature her in a mental health challenge.  However, Dr. Bengtson was in the middle of promoting her new book, so we agreed to touch base at a later time.  I continued to follow Dr. Bengtson. Last August, 2016, she released her book Hope Prevails: Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression.  This book is the answer to the dilemma for the Christian who suffers from depression, as well as those who have a loved one who suffers from depression.

You see, Dr. Bengtson is not only a speaker and author, she is a board certified clinical neuropsychologist.  She has 25 years’ experience in diagnosing and treating medical and mental disorders. I’d like to say that her book is a triple threat.  She writes from the perspective of a medical professional, from someone who suffers depression, and from a Christian perspective.  She's been there as a doctor and a patient!


Today, less than a year after she released Hope Prevails, she is releasing the Hope Prevails Bible Study. I have had the privilege of being in her launch team which meant I was able to read the Bible Study before the release.  In Hope Prevails Bible Study, Dr. Bengtson gives us a condensed version of her journey, Scriptural references, and questions for reflection. It is a perfect stand alone or a companion to the original book. Another resource she gives is a playlist based on songs that has helped her in her own journey. 

To whom do I recommend the book?
  • To the one who suffers from depression.  Even if you are already getting professional help, this study is an excellent supplement because it offers Biblical insight that your therapist may not offer.
  • To the one who has a loved one who suffers from depression. This study can help you understand what your loved one is going through and gives your the resources to help your loved one.
You can grab a copy of the Hope Prevails Bible Study and the original Hope Prevails book from Amazon.  To celebrate the release of the Hope Prevails Bible Study, Dr. Bengtson is having a Facebook Launch Party!  This is a great place to get more information about the study, meet Dr. Bengtson, and get a chance to win wonderful prizes!! I'll be popping in to join Dr. Bengtson, and I hope you'll join us there .


<3,
Marie

5 Healthier Halloween Treats

The other night, we watched It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  It occurred to me that Halloween is fast approaching.  This means candy and sweets galore!

You and your family (and co-workers) can totally indulge without overdosing on junk food.  Last year, I LOVED that my son's 4th grade teacher stuck with healthier party food for all her class parties.  J and I made apple muffins together and they were delicious. Sorry, I can't find the photo.  I am challenging myself to stick with healthier options for Halloween school celebrations.

I searched for Healthy Halloween treats and was pretty surprised at some of the things that people labelled as healthy.  Fruit with marshmallows?? NOT HEALTHY! Hotdog wrapped with mozzarella cheese (mummy hotdogs)?!?! NOPE! Not even if it's "low fat turkey hot dog."  GOOD GRIEF!

So, since I've already done the research, I figured I'll pass along what I consider healthy- minimal sugar, no processed food!  If you are searching for healthier options, I've rounded up 5 fairly simple Healthier Halloween recipes just for you! ENJOY!

 Image Credit: Texanarian.com

 
 

Image Credit: floandgrace.com


Image Credit: Cook Eat Paleo


Image Credit: Cook Eat Paleo


Spider Eggs
 You can make these Spider Eggs using this deviled eggs recipe and using olives for make the spider.