Christian Women With Depression

In 2010, I started a web site, Facebook Group, and a series of articles I wrote to share my journey through depression called Christian Women With Depression.  The goal for these resources today remains the same – to help you realize that you are not alone, and that there is no reason to feel ashamed that you are both a Christian and you deal with depression. When I started out, there were no resources specifically for us, no place to talk about it and find out we were not alone.  The response was over 2200 women from all over the world joining my Facebook Group, and countless comments on the web site stating how much they had been helped by finding out there were other Christian women who experienced the same feelings.

Since that time, I have turned my experience with depression, anxiety, fear, eating disorders and childhood trauma into this membership site to help other Christian women gain self-control over their emotions and actions so they can fulfill God’s purpose for their lives.  There are forums, groups, courses, resources and teleconferences/webinars to help you overcome your struggles.  I have since become a Licensed Pastoral Counselor, and offer local and virtual (via phone and webcam) group and individual counseling sessions.

These articles are still free and available to everyone – help yourself and I hope you find help toward your healing through them.  But if you want more, if you feel stuck and hopeless, I hope you will consider joining this membership site for free and learning more.   You will get weekly messages from me, have the opportunity to ask questions in the forums and during monthly webinars, and get access to the first ebook in my CRAZIFIED to GLORIFIED series, CRAZIFIED & Out of Control.

I also want to invite you to our private Facebook Group, Christian Women With Depression, where over 2200 women from all over the world share and talk about what is going on with with them.  You can go to http://www.facebook.com/groups/christianwomenwithdepression/ and ask to join.

I have personally been delivered from my depression through using Celebrate Recovery, Temperament Therapy and Life Patterns, all of which I share more about on this site.  If you would like to learn more, please visit and join the membership site for free.

You can access sermons and teachings I have shared at our church at http://ministryhouse.org/sermon-speaker/penny-haynes/.

I have also created a free service called Jesus Text Me at http://JesusTextMe.com. You will receive 3 scripture based messages a day from Jesus, with a link to their underlying scriptures. You can also add one 12 Step message every morning, and even add personal messages to send to yourself.  You can receive the messages by text, email, or Android or iPhone app.

I look forward to getting to know you better as we travel together through our struggles and share our victories.

Penny Haynes

http://ChristianWomenWithDepression.com

JOIN for FREE now

Compassionate, Gracious and Slow To Anger

Exo 34:6-7
6 Then the Lord passed in front of him and proclaimed:
Yahweh — Yahweh is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth, 7 maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving wrongdoing, rebellion, and sin. But He will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ wrongdoing on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation.

Isn’t it wonderful that our God is slow to anger, faithful to keep His promises, forgiving of our wrongdoing, rebellion and sin? He has compassion on us, even when we mess up. He is gracious, providing us with undeserved favor and empowerment. This is the message He speaks to the redeemed, those who have acknowledged their sin and have asked for forgiveness.

However, often we think of God’s attitude toward us as being harsh and punishing, remembering our sin to several generations, but that is not accurate. That is what Satan would like you to believe, but it is not true in our case. God forgives as soon as we ask, and chooses not to remember our sins anymore. He separates our sin from us as far as the east is from the west, because we are covered in the atoning shed blood of Jesus. The harshness is reserved for the unrepented sin of non-believers.

So when you feel condemnation, or think that God doesn’t like you, remember that it is a trick and a lie from Satan. Contrary to popular belief, we are NOT all children of God, and we are not all treated the same. You have to be born again through faith to be a child of God; everyone else is God’s CREATION, not His child.

As His child, He treats you with compassion and graciousness, loving-kindness and long-suffering. No matter how far you feel you have wandered away from God, He is ALWAYS close enough to hear you ask for forgiveness and receive you with open arms, just as the father of the Prodigal son did. He is always on your side, and always rooting for you to grow and mature in your walk with Him.

Plainly put, He loves you and wants to be close to you at all times. Don’t let Satan ever make you think otherwise.

Penny Haynes
http://ChristianWomenWithDepression.com

Discipline Isn’t Always Meant To Be Punishment

Deu 8:2-5
2 Remember that the Lord your God led you on the entire journey these 40 years in the wilderness, so that He might humble you and test you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands. 3 He humbled you by letting you go hungry; then He gave you manna to eat, which you and your fathers had not known, so that you might learn that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. 4 Your clothing did not wear out, and your feet did not swell these 40 years. 5 Keep in mind that the Lord your God has been disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son.

I hate exercising. It feels like punishment for eating. It reminds me of a coach making you run laps for doing something wrong.

But exercise is really a matter of disciplining yourself, your mind, your body, your muscles. It is part of a balanced and healthy lifestyle. It stretches the heart and body muscles so they will be stronger, more efficient, more responsive when our body needs them. It also tones and tightens our bodies.

Now take a look at your life. You see one exercise after another testing your faith, hope, patience and love. You see one wilderness experience after another. It appears to be one long wilderness experience, just like the Israelites in the desert for 40 years.

But notice the first words in Deuteronomy 8:2 – remember that the Lord led you. You were never there alone. Then it says that He led them there to humble them and to test them so they would know what is in their own hearts – to show them how they really were and what they really believed. He also allowed them to make bad decisions that lengthened their wilderness experience.

However, it was not necessarily out of punishment that the wilderness experience continued, but mainly so they could learn from their mistakes and recognize their dire need to rely upon Him at all times. So often our attitude is “Thanks for getting me this far, God. I’ll take it from here.” We think we can go it alone and make our own decisions at some point, but we can’t.

In verse 3, we are remembering how God provides for us even in the wilderness. It may not be the onions and leeks from Egypt, but life sustaining manna strengthens us for the journey – as long as we depend upon Him every day for just the amount that we need and no more.

In verse 4, God even adds unnatural long life to our belongings and coverings instead of buying us new things. We would rather have new stuff, but the miracle that we can keep going with what we have gets overlooked because of our demand for new things.

Lastly, verse 5 reveals that the entire point of this wilderness experience is God disciplining us. Just like physical exercise, this develops and strengthens our abilities to trust, love and obey Him. No one is exempt from the wilderness (including Jesus), regardless of what lies Satan tells you. Everyone goes through trials and temptations that reveal what we really think and believe – because our actions in the wilderness are the outward expression of our faith, hope and love – or lack thereof.

So when you look back over your wilderness experience, be careful not to resent it, as Satan would have you do, so you might resent God. Don’t see it as punishment for your mistakes, either. See it as God’s disciplining of your mind, body and spirit. See it as proof of His promise to always be there for you and provide for you, although not always in the ways you would have chosen.

He does not leave us in the same pitiful state that he found us, just as a parent doesn’t leave it’s child in a crib for it’s entire life, but helps it discipline it’s body to crawl, then walk, then run, climb, jump and even more. These are proof of a parent’s love and care, just as the wilderness discipline is God’s care for us and our growth. We may not always like it, but it is God’s way.

Penny Haynes
http://ChristianWomenWithDepression.com

The Relationship Between Love And Obedience

1Jo 2:5
5 But whoever keeps His word, truly in him the love of God is perfected.

Jn 14:23-24
23 Jesus answered, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 The one who doesn’t love Me will not keep My words. The word that you hear is not Mine but is from the Father who sent Me.

The Greek word for “keep” means to watch, keep an eye on. Keeping His Word must mean always referencing His written and spoken Word toward us when we make decisions which lead to actions. We are to meditate on His Word, so His thoughts become our thoughts, and then our attitudes and actions will be like His.

But what does love have to do with keeping His Word? Obeying God actually “completes” or perfects our love of God according to 1 John. Without obedience to His Word, we are not fully loving God. We are partially loving God.

I can only think of a child obeying his parent here. We may obey a parent out of fear of punishment, but as a parent, I would rather that my child obey me out of love. I would hope that their affection for and trust in me would weigh heavily in their decision making process (although I know it is not always so). I hate falling back on threats of privileges being removed, but I also know that, just like me, they struggle internally between their own self-serving desires and their desire to please me and do the right thing.

It is the same with me and God. My obedience is outward proof that my profession of love and admiration and trust in Him is not all lip service, like the Pharisees. Do I REALLY love God enough to give up my own selfish desires and demands to obey Him? This is my struggle every day.

When we face decisions that position our wants against the Word of God, let us remember that our act of choosing His Word over our selves is an act of love and worship. Hopefully this will tilt the balance in His favor in the heat of the moment of decision-making.

Penny Haynes
http://ChristianWomenWithDepression.com

Where Our Passionate Desires Come From

Gal 5:22-26
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, self- control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit. 26 We must not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

The Greek word for passions here means experiences we have suffered that result in affections of the mind. It also means passionate desires, so the experiences we have endured affect our minds and result in passionate desires for things. It makes me think about how many of us have had experiences of grief and loss in our life which have resulted in our obsession with finding and holding onto something which will make us feel better. Of course, some of us have moved to the other end of the spectrum and given up hope of ever acquiring whatever we think will fix things, so the passion is gone. But beneath that hopelessness remains that desire to get our “fix”.

I never really thought about where passions and lusts come from, other than the book of James where it says our problem is that we want things we can’t have. But do our “passions” stem from negative experiences we have lived through, and from which we are still somehow trying to escape? Are passions man-made attempts to get something to make us feel better?

Then we are told to compare our passions/affections/lusts to the fruit of the Spirit. I used to think this passage was meant to show us how depraved our desires were compared to the fruit, but now I am not so sure. Maybe it is meant to show us the difference in the origins of our passionate desires compared to the fruit.

Where does the fruit of the spirit come from? The Spirit of God. How do we get it? Solely by abiding in the vine, staying connected to Jesus by faith and through the indwelling of His Spirit in us. When we get what we need by remaining in Him, we have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness and self control.

Where do the works of the flesh come from? The flesh responding to it’s inability to get what it thinks it needs. It has experienced loss and it cannot obtain what is wants, and that affects the mind negatively, reacting with sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing and anything similar (vs. 19-20).

When we are focused on what we think we have missed but deserve to have, we do whatever we can to GET for ourselves. We are selfishly concerned with ourselves. But when we feel we have our needs met, we can focus on GIVING to others unselfishly. The works of the flesh come from us fighting with others to meet our own perceived needs. The fruit of the Spirit comes from us accepting from Christ whatever He offers to us as a means of meeting our needs so we are free to give to others. These are two very different outlooks!

So if you feel you are caught in the grip of passions, ask yourself if you are trying to meet your own needs instead of trusting Christ to meet them. Tell Him You want to rely upon and rest in His provisions for your life, and ask Him to show you how to stop fighting for what only He can give.

Penny Haynes
http://ChristianWomenWithDepression.com

David Encouraged Himself in The Lord

1Sa 30:6
6 And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.

This verse is also translated ” But David found strength in the Lord his God.” That word “strength” means fastening upon. It gives me an image of fastening upon someone’s arm to grasp a hold of them and not let go. It might be that someone is about to faint or stumble and fall, but they grab someone’s arm to steady themselves.

Maybe that is what David did with God when all of his and his army’s families had been carried off by the enemy, and those left blamed David for it. In verse 4, it says that the troops wept until they had no strength left to weep. He clung to God and God’s strength upheld David. I wonder why the King James version reads it as encouraged. Could it be that we lose courage when we feel we have no strength to go on, and receiving strength from God encourages us to keep going?

I need to cling to God when loss afflicts me, whether perceived or actual – because perceived losses hurt just as bad as physical losses. I need to grab a hold of Him as if to save my life when my head is swirling in the whirlwind of my thoughts and emotions and I feel like I’m going down for the last time. I need to encourage myself when I have wept until my strength is all gone by clutching the One who can sustain me with His mighty right arm. When nothing else makes sense, I must go to God and hide myself in the shadow of the almighty.

Penny Haynes
http://ChristianWomenWithDepression.com

Even John The Baptist Doubted!

Mat 11:2-3
2 Now when John heard in the prison the works of the Christ, he sent by his disciples
3 and said unto him, Art thou he that cometh, or look we for another?

When John was in prison, he started to doubt if Jesus was the Christ. John the Baptist, mind you! He was the one who went out and declared that Jesus was the Messiah. He was filled with the Holy Spirit while in Elizabeth’s womb when the pregnant Mary met with her. He saw the dove alight on Jesus and heard the Father announce that Jesus was His well-beloved Son. Yet JOHN DOUBTED!

When he was in prison, his thoughts and emotions preyed on him, just like they would have with us. He had been a man of great discipline, with his locusts and honey. He had faithfully served the Lord, obeyed His commands, and had spoken prophetically under His orders. Yet JOHN DOUBTED!

This encourages me to know that even great men of God, disciplined prophets with vision and courage, have doubted about Jesus. When we are trapped in the prison of circumstances that are outside of our control, our faith may waiver as did John’s. But John was still praised by Jesus after His death.

I am comforted to know that God does not demand perfection in my beliefs, thoughts or actions in this life, and that my doubts don’t estrange me from Him.

Penny Haynes
http://ChristianWomenWithDepression.com

How Is Your Peace?

I was researching the word peace in Jer. 29:11, and found it to be “shalom”. I read up on it and found that in Israel today, they have a greeting that consists of saying, “How is your peace?” That really hit home with me. How is MY peace?

Several other meanings for shalom include in tranquillity, at ease and unconcerned. Hmmmmmm, I spend my days and nights being concerned about everything and trying to figure out how to handle it all. All that thinking makes me NOT at ease, or tranquil. What did Jesus say about not being concerned about what we will eat or drink or wear? No, this worry robs me of peace.

It also signifies a state in which someone can feel at ease, comfortable with another person. How many of us are no longer comfortable with ourselves, much less at ease with others? The isolation which depression brings cuts us off from others, leaving us feeling like there is something wrong with us, so we feel uncomfortable being with others. Plus, the stigma of depression in the church makes us feel even more uncomfortable in our own skin, affecting our ability to feel peace.

Shalom also refers to harmonius relationships. It is hard to experience harmonious relationships when you are scared to death of being around people. Plus, when we have relational problems at work or at home, that steals our peace as well.

Shalom can also refer to our welfare. How many of us deal with medical-related issues that make us feel less than whole? Constant pain as a companion can make us feel emotionally and mentally crippled as well, and without a break in the pain, it is hard to relax and be at ease.

Shalem is the Hebrew verb for peace, meaning to be complete, be sound. How many of us feel broken and incomplete, like people and circumstances have left us with holes in our souls and spirit? How can we feel whole when we can’t seem to pull ourselves together to get out of bed, or leave the house, or spend time with others?

Yet the covenant God has made with believers is a covenant of peace, prophesied all the way back to Isaiah. Our Messiah is a Prince of Peace. He has promised us peace, but not as the world gives. His peace that He gives passes all understanding, because it comes from trusting in Him.

That is how we can be unconcerned for the things we think we must scramble to obtain in order to survive, because we rest in the fact that He says He will provide them for us because of our faith in Him (not just because of our need for them). Our peace can come from our harmonious relationship with Him, instead of from relationships with others (although we need to establish and work on human relationships). We can have peace also through the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual healing God can bring for our welfare.

Finally, our completeness can come from being IN Him and He being in us. Everything we are not, He is – through His Spirit in us. We are more than just the sum of our broken parts – we are vessels of the Holy Spirit who fills us and fills those holes in our souls.

I want to experience peace, a lack of strife and struggling, harmonious relationships, unconcerned for things I have no control over and for which Jesus has promised to provide. I want to feel whole and unbroken, without emotional, mental and physical pain, and I will need to receive that by faith directly from Him. Peace will only come when I am in a completely trusting relationship with Him.

So, how is YOUR peace?

Penny Haynes
http://ChristianWomenWithDepression.com

Think On These Things

Phi 4:8-9
8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9 The things which ye both learned and received and heard and saw in me, these things do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

If we could restrict our minds to only think on certain things, we would be so much better off. What is actually the truth that I should be thinking on? That God is good, regardless of what my eyes and heart tell me. If He is good, then whatever I am going though at this time is not out of His sight, nor are my cries away from His earshot.

My life most likely has not veered so far off track that His right arm cannot save me. And if l have been earnestly seeking Him, this is just a lull in the activity. God is always at work in the spirit realm, but I cannot see what He is moving around to accomplish His plan for me and everyone else.

If God is good, then this moment is meant to be kindly toward me, whether it feels good to my flesh or not. If God is good all the time, then He is good even when I don’t understand Him. This is true, this is honest, this is just, this is a good report.

What is pure then? Perhaps that means undiluted or unmixed with my own carnal thoughts and feelings. I always read and see His Word through my own feelings and understanding at the moment. His pure words and intentions toward me do not change, regardless of what I think. However, I often add my own two cents to His word, making it an impure word.

His Word is true just as I read it, no ands, ifs, or buts. His plan and His promises remain unchanged at all times. He loves me, wants to protect me, and conform me to His son’s image at all times.

Any thought that arises needs to be compared with these types of thoughts, and spewed from my mind like I would spit out soured milk. Negative thoughts don’t, as we wrongly assume, better prepare us for the awful things we imagine await us in the future (but rarely ever happen). I need to fill myself with the truth to such a point that any lie will feel like a foreign entity trespassing in my body, and I can immediately recognize it as having no place in my life.

Penny Haynes
http://ChristianWomenWithDepression.com

There Is Rest In God’s Presence

Exo 33:14
14 And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.

I hate driving in downtown Atlanta. It has a lot of one way streets. Take a wrong turn, and you could be wandering through the maze of streets for what seems like forever.

I used to get sick at the thought of going there, panicked because I didn’t know where I was going. But THEN God said “Let there be GPS”, and it was good! All of a sudden, I had someone with me who knew exactly where to go and when to turn, and this machine gave me true rest. Why? Because I was no longer alone and trying to figure it all out by myself.

So much of our stress in life is caused by being in situations where we have no control and no idea how things will turn out. The unknown freaks us out more than we consciously acknowledge. Imagine knowing that someone else who knows the future and also knows where you are to go and what you are to do accompanies you everywhere. They may sit in the driver’s seat silently while you whine and cry, but they still get you where you need to be, and later you realize you made a fuss unnecessarily.

How much of our life do we spend as if God is our Co-pilot, when in reality, He should be the one flying the plane? If I ride in the car with my husband and I don’t know how to get where we’re going, that doesn’t freak me out. I trust that he is capable of getting me where I am going. Why don’t I do that with God?

One day, I hope I evolve to the point where I am not worrying about my clothes or food or bills, but enjoy the here and now with which He has blessed me. I want to be able to rest in His presence right now, where I am. I want to be able to let go of my tight grip on my demands for the future, which essentially leaves my hands too full to receive the blessings of today. However, I can only do this if I remember He is always with me.

Penny Haynes
http://ChristianWomenWithDepression.com