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Not Just Another Book About Shame & Overcoming Your Past

Is “Unashamed” just another book in a sea of self-help books? Or is it really worth a read? If you can’t seem to move forward or need something highly practical to help you deal with your past or beat your struggles with shame, this book offers excellent examples and precise strategies of what you can do differently.

This book is highly recommended if:

  • You can’t get rid of persistent thoughts that lead to feeling doubt, fear, insecurity, bitterness, offense, discouragement, negativity, anxiety and/or anger.
  • You experience painful emotions on an on-going basis.
  • You do well for a while; but then you hit a wall.
  • You overcome one hurdle, but then something new comes along to deal with and you feel like you’re right back where you started.
  • You feel a lot of guilt and/or could be holding onto unforgiveness.
  • You really do struggle to trust God no matter how hard you try.
  • Your lifestyle is pulling you away from God instead of towards Him.
  • You don’t like yourself.
  • You find yourself wondering how other people can be so positive when they go through trials and suffering.
  • You know you’ve messed up some significant relationships.
  • You don’t believe you can ever get over what you’ve been through.

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

This is a book to read with a notebook and a pen.

This is a book to let someone know you’re reading so you can be held accountable to follow its many rich suggestions. Even better – read it with a friend, wise counsel, or a group.

This is a book to ask the Lord to use as a tool to bring about change.

“Lord…let me never be ashamed.” Psalm 31:1b

Back-To-School Prayers, Puritan Style

As school gets started here in the South, naturally you’re praying about teachers, schedules, activities, friends, stressworkload etc. But as you think of these modern-day concerns, it’s good to know that there were prayers prayed a few centuries ago that could bring your prayers today to a whole new level. What if you took a few minutes to pray like a Puritan?

“Lord of the Cloud and Fire, all intellect is derived from You.”

“O Most High, may I never be satisfied with my present spiritual progress.”

“O Lord of the Oceans, the voyage is long and the waves high, but my helm is held steady, Your Word secures safe passage, and Your grace wafts me onward.”

“Lord Jesus Great High Priest, every new duty calls for more grace than I now possess.”

“All-Sufficient King, may Your goodness always lead me to repentance.”

“Compassionate Lord, here is my blind understanding, chase away its mists of ignorance.”

“O God the Author of All Good, teach me how to use the world, and not abuse it, to improve my talents, to redeem my time, and to walk in wisdom toward those without.”

“Almighty God, may my lips be a well-tuned harp to sound Your praise.”

“My Dear Lord, wrap my life in Divine Love that I may be fitted for doing and suffering.

“Lord of Immortality, expel from my mind all sinful fear and shame, and stay my mind on Your peace, knowing that nothing can befall me without Your permission, appointment and administration.”

“O God Most Glorious, Your presence alone can make me holy, devout, strong, and happy.”

“Father of Jesus, let my happy place (yes it really does say that) be among the poor in spirit. Let me always esteem others better than myself.”

“Maker and Sustainer of All Things, deliver me from worldly dispositions that I may be a glory to You and an example to others.”

“O Very Great God, send me Your help, for your appointments are not meant to make me independent of You.”

“O Christ, bring me speedily to the land of joy.”

Taken from The Valley of Vision, A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

Consider making one of these pure prayers a theme for your upcoming school year.

Look up more Puritan prayers to suit your needs and desires. Enjoy the creativity and freshness they will bring to your prayer life.

Journal your favorites and find the Scriptures they are based upon.

Pray like a Puritan for yourself and for others. And enjoy the peace these beautiful prayers can bring you as they help you keep your mind centered on His Word, holiness, divinity, and power.

“Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thess. 5:17)

Understanding Your Friends Who Have Experienced Trauma

Do you know anyone who has experienced trauma at some point – such as having been abused or shamed as a child, utterly rejected by a loved one, or faced extreme trials or loss? And if all is well now, you may be wondering why such intense emotionality remains.

Read in her own words how someone with past trauma describes how it still impacts her decades later:

“People with trauma in their background need to allow time in their schedule to cry-out to the Lord. There is a deep part of oneself that cannot be explained except to say it needs permission and validation for sobbing over the heart’s pain, and has a need for comfort and continued healing. I don’t do it every day; there is a season for more or less of it. But for me, I can have a much more balanced life emotionally when I allow myself this time of crying-out. Otherwise, everything builds up and becomes an emotional explosion.”

Now that you understand better the lingering presence of emotion and trauma, how can you continue to provide support?

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

Invite your traumatized friend to use the Bible as a security blanket. If it gets all torn up, offer to have it rebound.

Don’t try to fix every feeling with logic. It doesn’t have to make sense to you when and why some of the scars open back up. Just be there with gentle, patient bandaging when they do.

Pray Scripture over your loved one. The Word gives endurance. (2 Tim. 2:9b-10a)

Don’t underestimate the power of your friendship. The Lord does some of His most significant healing through safe, secure relationships.

Have acceptance for the small habits the formerly abused person has held onto. Those coping behaviors are precious because at one time they meant survival.

When something triggers the pain of the past, point the victim to God’s sovereign purposes, goodness, and presence (Ps. 34:17-22), and together celebrate your loved one’s ability to overcome.

Have lifelong kindness like David to Mephibosheth (2 Sam. 9). Someone who has greatly suffered is no different than someone who is crippled. Offer up a place of highest honor at your table and make it permanent.

Help your friend laugh hard and have fun with you. Being relaxed and playful helps regain what was lost. And you will be blessed by loving and serving others in this way.

What’s In Your Emergency Survival Kit?

You’ve got your flashlight should you lose power, and your water bottles should the stores run out, but what do you have at the ready when you are struck with a serious emotional situation? There’s a good chance you may never find yourself trapped or stranded without water or a flashlight, but if you interact with people, being hurt is a sure thing. Therefore, you need an emotional survival kit even more than you need supplies for physical survival.

When you’re nursing an emotional wound, the world encourages you to drown your sorrows in wine, or eat a pint of ice cream and watch Netflix around the clock. But that “solution” can not only be destructive to your health, but teaches your brain to escape in order to cope with hardship, and misses an opportunity to learn and grow from your suffering.

A far better plan is to have self-care gear that provides true recovery for you; and a commitment to use it.

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

1.Prepare your supplies.

  • Bible. Know what comforts you most in His Word. Maybe it’s Psalms or other favorite passages, but make sure you know how to get to these places quickly. Or make a reference list. Listening to an audio Bible can be especially beneficial to quiet any loud, negative thoughts.
  • Shoes & Jacket. Already have the place in nature picked out where you will go to feel God’s closeness. Consider the weather year-round since you never know when your next heart rupture will come.
  • Playlist. Don’t underestimate the therapeutic properties of the right kind of music when you’re in emotional pain. Take your time making God-honoring selections because they will bring you the most peace. Singing or playing an instrument can take it to another level.
  • Notebook. Getting your thoughts and feelings to paper can help you process them. But bashing the one who hurt you is not going to feel as good for you as you might think. Making tables and charts comparing how you feel to what you know is true is a powerful exercise that can make this a much better use of your time. Turning your writing into a prayer for the one who hurt you is also very productive. Finally, any journaling that focuses on Christ more than on the wrongdoer or yourself will stabilize you more than you can imagine.
  • Kleenex. Sometimes you have to cry before you can laugh again.
  • Wise Counsel. If needed, have someone in mind who will not want to gossip about it, but instead will point you to Christ through it all.
  • A Soothing Space. Your body and soul will need rest and quiet. Maybe it’s your favorite chair, a nap on your day bed, or special place to go. Everything else on your schedule may need to wait so that you can be there for a time. You may also need to stay away from others until your mood has stabilized.
  • Sanctuary. Identify your first-choice method to meet up with the Lord to feel His love, receive His guidance, and worship Him.
  • Beauty. Since God Himself is the epitome of beauty, then reflections of that on earth can move you towards Him in a nourishing way. This can include the obvious such as picking some fresh flowers or doing some painting, but it can even include organizing a closet or rearranging a space to be more pleasing to your eye, etc.
  • Exercise Equipment. Emotions love to tighten up your body. Shake them out so you can feel light again.
  • Debriefing Materials. After you’ve allowed the Lord to comfort you, it’s appropriate for you to make sense of everything that has happened, such as your role in the situation…how to prevent having a victim mentality…the need for forgiveness…whether to confront the person or not…how to respond with grace, etc. Choosing a Scripture to be praying especially in the first weeks can help you stay rooted in truth and not slide off into a bad emotional place.

2.Know how to use your equipment.

  • Observe the swirling. No matter what weapon is used to strike the blow against you, it hurts. And your thoughts and emotions will start to spin fast. It’s important to recognize the sound of this alarm and remember it’s time to properly respond with your self-care equipment.
  • Acknowledge the temptations to self-medicate, escape, or lash out, and instead reach for your packing list of healthier options.
  • Know the warning signs. If you determine your toolkit is not adequately helping you deal with depression or other effects of this ordeal, seek outside help.
  • Know when it’s time to pack up your supplies, and restock for next time.

“The Lord stood by me and strengthened me…I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into His heavenly kingdom. To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (2 Tim. 4:17-18)

Should Everyone Go to College after High School?

The decade you’re in your 20’s has more available to you than media and college admissions departments would have you believe. In fact, “success” doesn’t have to be defined so narrowly at all. For example,

The Foto Sisters – Addie, Katie, and Gaylyn are classically trained musicians using their talents in strings, piano, and vocals to instruct young pupils, perform for various audiences, and bring God glory in all they do. They didn’t have to commit to four years of living at a university in order to work with various professors, and they already have their own teaching studios. The three of them share a Facebook page in order to remain balanced with social media, while also staying connected online. But their favorite and best communication shines forth when they are fellowshipping face-to-face with their brothers and sisters in Christ. They submit to the wise counsel of their parents as they continue to grow and develop into adulthood, and are open to any changes in direction the Lord may ask them to make. The Foto sisters are so mature, educated, accomplished, and full of character, that you’d never meet them and think they would be better off being college students.

Grace Mally – The youngest child of the Mally family, Grace grew up embedded in her family’s ministry. At a very young age, she co-authored a book with her brother and sister about forging close sibling relationships, and she spent much of her youth playing an active role hosting purity conferences under the leadership of her older sister. But Grace clearly owns her faith. She’s been blogging for 9 years already, recently published her own book, and spends her days interacting with strangers for the grand purpose of connecting them deeply to Christ. Grace Mally is so poised, well-spoken, confident, and assured of her purpose, that you’d never meet her and think she is missing a degree.

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

*You may already have such a strong sense of life-calling and be so mature, that college may not be required for you to reach your dreams (even if higher education is necessary for most 18-year old’s to accomplish their goals).

*Some fields simply don’t have the need for a college degree. Therefore, if you went to college, you’d be spending money on information not needed for your job.

*Some high schools today are as academically rigorous and demanding as college was in the previous generation. Some of you need a break and to experience the working world for a while. There are other situations where some students find the idea of going off to college to be overwhelming and need a little more time at home to grow and prepare for that next stage.

*Many colleges and universities have an overinflated price tag making them not a good return on investment. The decision for college should be made according to whether the money spent is going to pay off with the job you obtain upon graduation. Further, more and more schools are pushing an agenda that some students simply don’t want to pay money to hear. In both cases, a second look may be warranted.

*You can always go back to school later in life when you may know better what field of study you want to put your money towards. Or you may just take some classes now and look at a 4-year degree later. Also, there are some things you can do at this age that you will not be able to do when you’re older; and you may want to take advantage of them now while you have the chance, and delay full-time college until after this opportunity has passed.

*Just because college is right for the majority, doesn’t mean it’s best for everyone. If the Holy Spirit leads you, and your parents agree, you can follow a lesser traveled road like the young ladies mentioned above.

*And even if you decide to attend university right after 12th grade, it doesn’t mean you have to follow the world’s definition of a typical college student’s lifestyle. The Foto Sisters and Grace Mally are beautiful examples of young women who are experiencing life to the fullest, making impact, using their God-given gifts, and are satisfied by Christ as very young adults. There’s no reason being enrolled in college has to make you any different. Don’t let technology and culture force you into a small mold when the Lord gives you an entire universe.

“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (1 Tim. 4:12)

Are You as Responsible as You Think You Are?

You know the obvious traits of a responsible person, such as keeping up with your belongings, showing up to work or school on time, paying your bills, and prioritizing your daily activities. Those skills are taught from an early age and are somewhat reinforced in this culture.

However, there is a deeper layer of personal responsibility – socially and relationally – that modern American society no longer encourages. Yet, unchanging Scripture commands you to take ownership anyway.

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

Taking Responsibility in a Social Context:

For example: Let’s say you are the first female employee to ever be hired at your company. You go out to dinner with all of your male colleagues and feel left out of their conversation. The world would tell you to be offended if these men don’t have immediate acceptance of you as their new female colleague. God’s Word would lead you to engage them in conversation so that you could earn their respect. Do you think you would feel more competent if the men were forced to accept you, or if you were able to earn your place in their circle?

The world wants to make you irresponsible; but live by Biblical principles of personal responsibility and watch your confidence and self-worth increase.

“After three days they found Him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” Lk. 2:46

Taking Responsibility in an Interpersonal Context:

For example: What if you feel like your husband isn’t meeting your needs. He isn’t that great of a listener, doesn’t predict what would make you feel special, and seems to care more about his interests than what matters to you. The world would say he isn’t being a good husband. God’s Word would ask you if you are thinking of your husband as greater than yourself. Do you think your husband will be more drawn to you if you are focused on making him a better husband, or making yourself a better wife?

The world wants to make you irresponsible; but live by Biblical principles of personal responsibility and watch your relationships prosper.

“For each will have to bear his own load.” Gal. 6:5