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Dr. Michelle Bengston: What to Say When To a Depressed Loved One

Posted by Julie on October 6, 2016 in Julie Arduini |

What to Say When To a Depressed Loved One

by Dr. Michelle Bengtson

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” Proverbs 18:21

What we say to others can either build them up or tear them down. We must take care not to further injure someone in their suffering from something we say.

As a neuropsychologist, I’m witness to the well-intentioned but misdirected words of friends and family to depressed loved ones that only serve to pull them down further.

When people suffer from depression, they often also harbor low self-esteem, guilt, and shame. What they crave is to know they are loved, accepted, and not alone.

Let Scripture help you determine what to say to a depressed loved one: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Here are a few things to say to someone struggling with depression:

-I love you. There is no better time to hear this than when they are struggling to love themselves and wonder if others truly love them too.

-I’m here for you. This is one of the most comforting things you can say to someone feeling alone.

-You are important to me. It’s vital to know they are still acceptable, accepted, and important.

-I’m sorry that you are going through such a painful time. Expressing your sorrow for their pain communicates that you care, even if you don’t fully understand.

-Is there something I can do for you? This communicates your willingness to help and just your offer will lend comfort and encouragement.

-You may not believe this now, but you won’t always feel this way. The depressed individual often needs reminding that there is hope.

-We will get through this together. This communicates your acceptance, and your love.

-Nothing. Actions often do speaker louder than words. I remember when Job encountered great hardship. Job 2:13 says his friends came and sat with him for seven days and nights. During that time, they didn’t speak a word because they saw how great his pain was. Words could do nothing to help his misery, but their company spoke volumes.

Remember, when you are speaking to a depressed loved one, your goal is to encourage and uplift them. “But if it were me, I would encourage you. I would try to take away your grief” (Job 16:5 NLT).

How will you encourage a loved one today?


DrMichelleAuthor, speaker and neuropsychologist, Dr. Michelle Bengtson combines her professional expertise and personal experience with her faith to address issues surrounding medical and mental disorders, both for those who suffer and their family. She offers practical tools, affirms worth, and encourages faith. She blogs regularly on her own site:


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Book Review: In Times Like These by Gail Kittleson

Posted by Julie on May 20, 2016 in Book Review, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |
In Times Like This by Gail Kittleson.

In Times Like This by Gail Kittleson.

Pearl Harbor attacked! The United States is at war. But Addie fights her own battles on the Iowa home front. Her controlling husband Harold vents his rage on her when his father’s stroke prevents him from joining the military. He degrades Addie, ridicules her productive victory garden, and even labels her childlessness as God’s punishment. When he manipulates his way into a military unit bound for Normandy, Addie learns that her best friend Kate’s pilot husband has died on a mission, leaving her stranded in London in desperate straits. Will Addie be able to help Kate, and find courage to trust God with her future? This extraordinary literary writing classically captures the mindset of the 1940’s. Addie and her friend Kate reflect the voices women hear as they face confusing dilemmas even seventy-five years later—my first read kept me up into the wee hours. I will refer my readers to In Times Like These! Patricia Evans, Author of The Verbally Abusive Relationship, Controlling People and other books listed at

Gail Kittleson transports the readers back to WWII with Americans Addie and Harold. The war affects everyone in the country, and in Iowa, Harold wants to join the cause and fight the Nazis. However, he’s not able to, and the rejection makes him bitter. He takes his anger out on Addie with verbal wounds.

Addie’s best friend, Kate, is in London. The two write and share their hurts through letters. The letters give Addie strength in a time where abuse was not defined.

I really enjoyed In Times Like These. I really felt like I was in this part of history, WWII. It’s not easy to write a historical, much less a character who does hurtful things even though we understand his pain. Also not easy is to craft a friendship and evolve characters through letters. Gail Kittleson makes all these things seem effortless, and for that, it’s a page turner.

I highly recommend you set aside some time and go back to WWII with Gail Kittleson and In Times Like These. You won’t regret it.

I received In Times Like These in exchange for an honest review.

To purchase In Times Like These, click here.

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Thankful: Bold Friends

In the last few years, I’ve learned a lot about friendship.  Some I gave my complete trust to only to find a knife in my back. Some I thought would be in my life until death, but for whatever reason, it was just a season and they are gone.

And then there are the bold friends.

This is a group that rose from the ashes of grief we all shared. We shook ourselves off and started praying together.  When I was up against some spiritual mountains that were threatening my peace and family, they didn’t ask if they could come and pray.

These friends told me when they were coming.Thankful_edited

Their mission to pray so focused they didn’t want coffee or snacks. They prayed that kind of prayer where you feel the gates of hell shake. It was a top moment not just from this year, but my life.

I don’t see these ladies every day. We haven’t met in awhile to pray. But when we send up a request, the responses are immediate and real. Intentional. Bold.

And I am forever thankful for each one of them.

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Book Review: Hopeful by Shelley Shepard Gray

Posted by Julie on February 7, 2014 in Book Review, Julie Arduini |

ShelleyShepardGray_Hopeful_300-125x188Book Description:

In the Amish town of Sugarcreek, love comes in many forms. But will it come at all for Miriam?

Miriam Zehr has worked at the Sugarcreek Inn longer than she cares to admit. The restaurant is a favorite of town residents as well as the many tourists who come to taste the famous Amish fare. Though she always tries to have a smile for every customer, deep down Miriam knows something’s missing: a family of her own.

Miriam has never felt particularly beautiful, especially because she’s always been a bit heavier than other girls her age. When Junior, the man she’s pined for all her life, suddenly seeks her out, she’s thrilled to be noticed . . . until she realizes he’s only asking her to help get the attention of Mary Kathryn Hershberger, her pretty friend.

If Miriam helps Junior court Mary Kathryn, she’ll get to spend a lot of time with him, but she might lose him in the process. Are these few stolen moments worth a lifetime of sacrifice? Is Miriam right to even hope for the life she dreams of?

I personally know the ache of getting attention from a boy so they can get to know your friend. Shelley did a great job making Miriam a heroine we can relate to. Miriam isn’t a natural beauty. She’s had her eyes on Junior forever and his attention has her family all excited. Thing is, Junior wants to get to know her friend Mary Kathryn, not Miriam.

This is a sweet story where true friendship and love are explored against the backdrop of Sugarcreek, Ohio. I wanted a bit more of Sugarcreek, but that’s me being selfish because I don’t live too far from the area and I love reading about it.

Mary Kathryn has her own story as well, and the ending is full of suspense.

Overall,reading about Miriam’s heart and how excited her parents are for her and Junior’s affections is heartbreaking to read, but impossible to put down. I hope you’ll give Hopeful a chance.

To purchase Hopeful, click here.

I received a copy of Hopeful from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.



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Side by Side in God’s Battle by Holly Hrywnak

Thankful Post: Side by Side in Battle

By: Holly Hrywnak


1 Samuel 14:6-7 “Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.” “Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.”


The very first day in one of my Youth Ministry classes in Bible school my teacher let us know what our first assignment would be. We would be taking the entire first class to sit and pray and ask God what He wanted for our lives.


I was 20 years old at the time, and my expectation of hearing from God in that hour long class period was close to nil. It seemed foolish to even ask God to give me some purpose and direction, so I just started flipping through my Bible. When in doubt, just start looking.

It was at that point when God said, “Here. This is the one. This is what I want you to know.”

Here?! God, are you sure? I hadn’t even read anything yet, but my Bible had opened up to the story of Jonathan and his armor bearer in 1 Samuel 14. It’s an amazing account where Jonathan takes his armor bearer into battle and together they kill 20 Philistines after they climbed up a cliff to do so. Honestly, it’s a scene of epic proportion. In a few short verses, you see a zealous Jonathan and a devoted, obedient armor bearer– both determined to fight on behalf of the Lord.

And in a moment of inspired revelation the armor bearer declares, “Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, many or by few.” Wow.

God whispers in my ear again, “You. That’s you.” For the rest of the class period, I sat there as God unfolded this beautiful picture of what ministry would look like for me. It was a sweet exchange between my Savior and me with a lot of things left unanswered, but a deep rooted hope in my heart. I knew without a doubt, I’d never be serving Him alone. What that would look like practically–well, I wasn’t sure.

It’s now 10-years later from that conversation and I’ve received a little more clarity. For a long time I thought the person that would be standing next to me in battle would be my husband. For a while, that word left me saddened feeling like it hadn’t come true yet. There’s no doubt in my mind that one day, my husband and I will be fighting side by side in battle. Until that day comes though, I’ve seen God provide someone else.

It may seem kind of juvenile to some, but I am most thankful for my best friend, Bekah. She’s held the title for almost 13 years now and I couldn’t imagine doing life, doing ministry without her. Whenever I’ve needed her she’s been there with me in the trenches– mud, blood and all. During tragedy, sickness, or discouragement she is the first responder to my cries of help. On crappy Mondays, she thinks to bring me my favorite Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. When I’m laid up in bed with a head full of snot and I feel like I’m on the brink of death, she’s knocking on my door holding groceries BRAT (banana, rice, apple sauce, toast) diet approved. The days my eyes are weary with tears cried over singleness– she’s the one letting me know that I’m a treasure worth finding.

In the midst of the craziness of life Bekah has been Jesus in-the-flesh. I’m thankful that God has provided me with someone willing to fight the fight with me– a friend to run this rat race with. That is what…or who…I am thankful for today and always.




Holly loves all things fall– coffee, sweatshirts, apple picking, pumpkin pie and autumn leaves. Her love languages range from physical touch to sarcasm and places a high value on wit. This past year Holly started a blog, which can be found at

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Angels with Flashlights by Kathy Dippolito

Angels with Flashlights

Submitted by Kathy Dippolito, in loving memory of Shelly


We’d trained for months and flown in from across the country.  Some of us were sisters, some of us were strangers.  Some had run marathons, some had never run a “real” race before.  But there we were, excited and anxious to start our running adventure — a 12-person relay race, running 200 consecutive miles (day and night) from Saratoga Springs to Lake Placid, New York in late September 2012.


The cold, rainy weather did not deter us or dampen our spirits.  This was the adventure of a lifetime and we were determined to enjoy every minute of it, no matter what the weather or the terrain had in mind.  It was early afternoon when I got the call.


“Shelly collapsed on the course.  She’s on her way to the hospital in an ambulance now.”


She had been training for 8 months, lost 60 pounds.  She, more than anyone, wanted to be here, loving this race and changing her life.  We made a plan to get other runners to take her spots, until her friends (who were on their way to the hospital to be with her) could re-join the race after they knew Shelly was OK.


I never could have imagined – and never would have believed – the call which followed.


“Unfortunately, Shelly passed away.”


My world stopped spinning.  To this day, it’s hard for me to believe it happened.  The official cause of death was a massive heart attack and fluid on the lungs.  She was 37 years old and left behind a young son.  Darkness surrounded and haunted me.  I did not know how to move forward.


In the days and weeks after this tragedy, I was connected with so many people that helped me move ahead.  An EMT from the only other team (out of 250 teams) who we knew on the course, who was the second person to reach her.  He was not supposed to be running that leg of the race, but made a last minute switch with someone else and ended up at Shelly’s side.  He somehow found blankets, made sure her airway was open and monitored her vital signs until the ambulance arrived.  The woman from Canada who was the first to come up to Shelly after she collapsed, who held her hand and spoke gentle words to her as she took her last breath.  The rest of that Canadian team who – although they didn’t know us – organized a fund raiser in Toronto and raised $3,000 to donate to Shelly’s son’s educational fund.  The race organizers, family, friends and strangers who went out of their way, above and beyond, to make sure the rest of our team was comfortable and cared for.  The woman on our own team – who flew all the way from Phoenix and we had met only 36 hours earlier – who encouraged the last remaining team members (after hours at the hospital and making sure everyone was taken care of) to keep running, in honor of Shelly.


The race tradition goes that each person writes their name on the window of the team van, with 3 little boxes next to it.  As a runner completes one of their three legs, they check it off.  What started out as 12 individuals running as their own legs became 3 determined women running only for Shelly.  We finished her remaining 2 legs and crossed the finish line as a team, in her honor and because we knew she would not have wanted it any other way.







In the days and weeks that followed, as I attempted to put the pieces back together and find a way out of the darkness, so many people appeared at the right time or place, with the right words, shining a light to guide me.  Sometimes a word, sometimes an action, sometimes a hug… these people became my “angels with flashlights” to light the dark path ahead.  For all of the words, expressions and deeds full of love and concern, for all of the kindness and support that was shown, I will be eternally thankful.  From the darkest of times, those lights shown bright, guiding me through and out of the darkness…. my angels with flashlights.



A native Upstate New Yorker who now lives in South Florida, Kathy is a mom, wife, quilter and amateur runner who does her best to balance all those things with a full time corporate job.  She strives to live every day with Purpose, Fun, Love and Ladybug Hugs.  When she’s not too busy trying to climb out from under her stack of sticky-note to-do lists, you can find her blogging about her crafting adventures at

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