Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Freely Given

7 Weeks to a Happier You is formatted so that you can print it out for use in groups or Bible studies. There are gaps in the material to allow space to write on hard copies. To access weeks you can't see, just press the "older posts" button at the bottom of the page. Please feel free to print out as many copies as you like, but do not sell them without my permission. I also ask that you would include my contact info:

Author: Sue Whitson

Please give me feed back! I'd appreciate questions, suggestions about how to word things differently, help with grammar and punctuation and any testimonies you might have about this Bible study or times you have put these principals to work at any time in the past.

God Bless You!

*Unless otherwise stated, all scriptures are from The New King James Bible.

The Plan

The Plan

God made everything for a purpose. Even those things we perceive as “bad”. The larvae of flies, clean up waste products. Fevers kill invading germs. They are even finding that the waves of chicken pox that children went through each year kept adults from getting shingles, a much worse disease. When God created us, He knew we would live in a fallen world, so he equipped us with defenses to help us overcome.

If a general perceives that his army is loosing a battle, he will call for a retreat. He pulls back, gives his men a chance to rest, rethinks his strategy and tries to gather re-enforcement and supplies. A retreat can be a good thing, but if he stays in retreat, he will loose the war.

Depression is a God given, physical response to trauma that allows us to pull back, rest, regroup, gather resources and focus on the problem at hand. Depression can be a good thing, but God does not intend for you to stay there.

The mind is like the earth. If you walk over it once, there is little evidence you were ever there. However if you take the same path over and over again, it becomes a well established path. Eventually, it can become a deep rut that you fall into and need help getting out. This is when depression becomes a trap.

The number one priority to overcome depression is to retrain your brain. Instead of going down that path every time those negative thoughts float by, you have to consciously choose to go a different way.

The revelation that changed my life was that I had the ability to choose my thoughts! In fact, I have a duty to choose my thoughts! I'm not sure if this idea had never been presented to me before, or if I just hadn't caught it, but I honestly thought that every thought that came into my brain was something I had to listen to. Amazing!

But how do you do that??? Think about an elephant. What kind of a tail does it have? What color is it? How are it's feet shaped? How does it sound? How big are it's ears?

Now, don't think about an elephant … I said, DON'T think about an elephant. Don't think about an elephant!

Were you able to not think about elephants? Unless you know the secret, there is no way you can do it.

Now, think about a kitten. Think about how soft it is. Think about how a kitten loves to play with yarn or chase a bug. How does it sound?

Are you thinking about an elephant now? No, because you replaced that thought with another one.

Over the next seven weeks, we will practice ways to retrain your brain. This will involve every aspect of your life, spiritual, mental, physical, emotional, social, career and finances.

When using a new recipe, a good cook will often has to make some decisions. She asks, “Do I have this ingredient?” and if not, “Can I get it or make substitutions?” “Are there ingredients I want to make substitutions or adjustments for?” (such as honey for sugar or using less salt). Once these decisions are made, the cook will gather the ingredients and try the recipe. It may not work well. If it doesn't and she still wants to make the recipe, she will go over everything that she did to see what might be improved the next time she tries it. Sometimes it may take several tries before she gets it right, or she may decide that recipe just isn't for her.

Seven Weeks to a Happier You is like a recipe. God created each of us uniquely. What works for one person may not work for another person. As you go through the 7 weeks, ask God how to make it work for you and what substitutions or adjustments you need to make. Once you have made these decisions, you have to make the commitment to follow the plan all the way through. If the cook only puts the flour and the yeast together when making bread and quits, the bread never gets made. You may find that you get sidetracked while in this process. Don't get discouraged! Just go back and try again!


If you are on meds for depression, do not quit taking them without consulting your doctor. Many drugs have severe withdrawal symptoms. Quitting cold turkey could derail your attempt to conquer depression and could even kill you. Unless you are 100% sure that God has told you to get off them now, don't do it!

Many years ago, I started learning about how Jesus took 39 stripes on His back. Through His wounds, the Bible says, we were healed. (I Peter 2:24) I was having great difficulty breathing, but I refused to take meds because I felt taking them would be denying my conviction that the Bible was true. At one point, I told my pastor that I was trying to stand in faith, but I had been struggling for a long time. He said, “Honey, your problem is that you know the asthma better than you know God. Go ahead and take the medicine. It will give you a chance to focus on God. The more you know Him, the less you will need that medicine.” He was right. I still take some OTC meds for asthma, but I don't need the heavy duty meds that I once used just to get to the “50% of my lung capacity” point and I almost always breathe at 100%.

If you are on meds, it is probably wise to just stay on them for now. Retrain your brain, then slowly back off the meds under your doctor's supervision.

Ready to make the commitment to God's Emotional Boot Camp? I can't promise you will never experience any more periods of depression. But by the end of the seven weeks, you will have the tools to effectively deal with it.

Week 1

Week 1

Renew Your Mind

Genesis 1

 1In the beginning God ('Elohiym) created the heaven and the earth.
 2And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God ('Elohiym) moved upon the face of the waters.

In the Bible, the darkness came before the light. What an amazing place to start. If you are reading or listening to this, you or someone you love is in a place of darkness. It may seem so deep there is no way out, but Holy Spirit is moving over the face of your tears.
If God started in the darkness, then it's a good place to start. Before we go on, I want you to take some time to analyze where you are at.

How long have you been suffering this depression?

Do you know what the trigger(s) was/were that set this off? Take some time to list any situations occurring now or in the past that have hurt you deeply.

Take some time to write down the negative thoughts and words that come against you.

What is missing in your life?

OK, now it's time for verse 3 - Gen. 1:3 God ('Elohiym) said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Father, In the Name of Yeshua, the Precious Lamb of God, I ask that by the power of Holy Spirit who is hovering over this lost one, that the dawn would break right now and grow brighter and brighter till it shines as the noon day sun. Amen. (Proverbs 4:18)

I want you to take a look at the account of creation in Genesis. Please take a pencil, pen or highlighter, mark each time the word “said” is used and count them.

Genesis 1 (from )

 1In the beginning God ('Elohiym) created the heaven and the earth.
 2And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God ('Elohiym) moved upon the face of the waters.
 3 God ('Elohiym) said, Let there be light: and there was light.
 4' God ('Elohiym) saw the light, that it was good: and God ('Elohiym) divided the light from the darkness.
 5 God ('Elohiym) called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
 6 God ('Elohiym) said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
 7God ('Elohiym) made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
 8God ('Elohiym) called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
 9God ('Elohiym) said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together to one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
 10God ('Elohiym) called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God ('Elohiym) saw that it was good.
 11God ('Elohiym) said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
 12And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God ('Elohiym) saw that it was good.
 13And the evening and the morning were the third day.
 14God ('Elohiym) said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
 15And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
 16God ('Elohiym) made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
 17God ('Elohiym) set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
 18And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God ('Elohiym) saw that it was good.
 19And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
 20God ('Elohiym) said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
 21God ('Elohiym) created great whales, and every living creature that moves, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God ('Elohiym) saw that it was good.
 22God ('Elohiym) blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.
 23And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
 24God ('Elohiym) said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
 25God ('Elohiym) made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creeps on the earth after his kind: and God ('Elohiym) saw that it was good.
 26God ('Elohiym) said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.
 27So God ('Elohiym) created man in his own image, in the image of God ('Elohiym) created he him; male and female created he them.

How many times was the word “said” used? This account could have easily been written like this: On the first day God created … On the second day He created … Why is there such an emphasis on the word “said”? It is to stress the fact that God creates by His Word.

Now look at verses 26 and 27. How is man created? Answer: in God's image. We are like Him. How does God create? With His words. We are not God, we are created in His image. An image does not have all the power of the original, but it is similar enough that it can be recognized. Our words do not have all the power of God's words, but they do affect the world in which we live. The really good news is that God's words are much more powerful than ours. Over the next 7 weeks, you will learn to replace the negative words that have ruled your life, with the positive, creative and life giving words of God

The saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” is a lie, a bold faced lie. You are where you are because of the words that have been spoken over your life. Some of them were spoken by your parents, your teachers and your peers. Some of them were spoken by you. All of them have been internalized and have worked together to dig you into this impassable hole.

This week, we are going to work on replacing some of those words. This is the number one concept you need to get from this program. Later, we will talk about some physical things you can do that will help, but this one concept is key. Everything else is built on it. Practicing this alone can rebuild your life.

Back when I was so terribly depressed, I started attending a church that taught the importance of words and thoughts. Over the course of a few years, I practiced this concept, but I was still having days where I was overwhelmed. At the time, I was still very, very sick physically and I knew absolutely nothing about nutrition. On one of those “I can't stop crying” days, I was standing in my kitchen, tears streaming down my face. I kept telling myself, “It's OK, Sue. There 's nothing wrong. This is just a chemical imbalance and God will get you through it.” over and over again.

I started thinking about a song that our worship team did and in my mind I could hear Shannon (one of our worship leaders) singing it. “I'll not be defeated. I'll not be defeated. I'll not be defeated anymore. For when the Holy Ghost came in, He gave me power over sin. I'll not be defeated anymore.” Did I tell you that God talks to me? I've never actually heard an audible voice, but that day, from way down inside of me, I heard a soft voice. “Sing it.” At first, I resisted, but I kept hearing it, so I grudgingly began. “I'll not be defeated.” I wish you could hear how I did that. You know how you tell a child who is angry to say he's sorry and they snap back, “SORRY!” in a tone that tells you they are anything but sorry? That's how it was. I was rolling my eyes and dragging the words.

SMACK! Well, God didn't physically smack me upside the head, but it sure felt like it! This time an incredibly strong voice yelled at me inside my spirit. “SING IT LIKE YOU MEAN IT!” I belted it out. As I did, I literally felt something being pulled out of me. From that day on, I've never been in that ditch again. I've had some sad days, but there's always been a real reason, not that miserable for the sake of being miserable stuff that used to debilitate me on a regular basis.

When I was young, no one understood my physical problems including me. I knew something was wrong. I lived in a fog. It was difficult for me to remember things, follow directions or even function at times. Frequently, I heard words like, “lazy”, “inconsiderate”, “not working up to potential” and “bad”. I wanted to be good, but I couldn't. All these had made a negative path in my brain. That negative path was as much a physical problem as the asthma. God could have healed me instantly, but if He had, I would have quickly seared a new negative path. I had to get my mind renewed first. There are physical strategies that will help your mind heal, but to begin with, we are going to concentrate on changing the words that reign in your head.

For this weeks assignments you will need a Bible, a concordance, a thesaurus, a pen or pencil, a notebook and some index cards.


Each day read one chapter in Proverbs, Psalms and in the Gospels (the book of John is the best place to start in my opinion). Proverbs is a book of wisdom, Psalms is a book of praise and the Gospels are basic to your salvation. If you can, find audio versions and play them all day long. You got into this place because you heard negative words. We have a tendency to believe what we hear most. Make it a priority to read and hear God's Word on as much as you can.

Each day look up one of the negative words you identified earlier in this lesson in a concordance. (There are lots of online concordances. My favorites are and ) Write down verses that speak to your situation. Try to fill at least one page in your notebook. If you can't find enough, look up that word in a thesaurus and look up synonyms and antonyms of the word.

Personalize one verse and write it on several index cards. To personalize scripture, ask God how the verse applies to you and then decide on how to make it first person.

Example: This is a favorite of many people. It is from 1 Corinthians 13:

4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails.

Here's how I have personalized it:
    God's love has been shed abroad in my heart. I choose today to let His love flow through me. Therefore: I am patient. I am kind. I am not jealous. I don't brag and I'm not arrogant. I am not rude, crude or nasty. I do not seek my own will, but God's. I am not easily provoked. I do not hold grudges. I don't rejoice in unrighteousness, but I rejoice in truth. Through Christ: I bear all things. I believe the best of every person. I have hope in every circumstance and I can endure anything. God's love in me will never fail.
Post these cards in places where you will see them frequently. When you see them, take the time to stop and read them out loud.

Before or after you eat physical food, take the time to eat the spiritual food you have prepared here. Read out loud the verses you have gathered at least 3 times a day. If you have access to a voice recorder, record the verses and listen to them as well.

Next week we'll add to this and start working on some of the physical things you can do.

Week 2

Week 2

Physical Helps

Last week you complied a list of scriptures to meditate on and started Bible reading program. This week, continue to read your scriptures out loud to yourself 3 times a day and read 1 chapter a day in Proverbs, Psalms and John. Keep doing this and write down any new verses you come across that speak to your situation, adding them to your list.

When you meet with your prayer partner(s), share the verses you have on your list and talk about how doing this has affected you.
This week, I want you to add some actual scripture memorization. Ask God which of the verses you should work on and personalize it.

Don't try to memorize a long passage all at once. Read the whole thing over out loud once. Then work on one phrase at a time. Read it out loud several times and then try to say it without looking. A few hours later, see how far you can get with out looking and then repeat the process only adding another phrase if you had the first one down.

As you get these scriptures in your heart, you will find yourself doing or saying things that are contrary to them and they will pop up in your thoughts. This will enable you to change what you are doing or at least to tell someone that you should have done it differently. Listen to your spirit and act. Soon the verses will pop up as you are about to do or say the wrong thing and eventually it will not be a problem anymore.

At one point I realized that my fear of tornadoes was damaging my children. I needed to deal with it. There are several verses that speak of how God is a refuge and a shelter in times of trouble and through storms. I decided on a simple personalized mantra to speak to this fear. “Jesus is my shelter in the storm.” Every time the fear would try to grip me, I would repeat this out loud as many times as I needed to. Eventually the fear would subside. Today I live in a trailer on the prairie with no basement or root cellar to run to. THAT is a miracle. Every now and then I have a little healthy nervousness, but that overwhelming fear is gone!

Now on to the physical part …
The brain is a physical organ. It needs blood flow to work properly. Use the following space to brain storm about ideas that will help you move more, even if it's just 5 minutes more than you are moving now. Some people do better with going to a gym or concentrating on one activity like walking. Others need a variety of activities. I personally try to incorporate a variety of activities into my day from parking a little further from my destination to jumping on my mini trampoline 100 times.

Choose some goals and make a chart to check off when you've done one of the ideas. Or keep a journal of what you did each day. Writing it down or checking it off helps establish your new habits and gives you a sense of accomplishment. Share your accomplishments with your prayer partner(s) when you meet.

An activity chart is available in the next post.

Light and fresh air!
You were not built to live in a cave. Go outside for at least 5 minutes every day even if the weather is bad. It's amazing how spending a few minutes outside can clear your mind. Turn on the lights in your house. Get a full spectrum lamp and sit under it every morning. (Do not put it on while you are sleeping though. It will do more harm than good.)
Go on elimination diets. Sometimes certain foods can aggravate physical conditions that contribute to depression. Eliminate any food you think might be a problem for a week and then add it back in to see if it is a problem. Sugar and grains are often culprits.
Fasting is a great way to flush your system of toxins. Try fasting lunch to begin with. Once you have that down, try a couple of meals or a whole day.
Warning: Anytime you fast or go on an elimination diet, your body is likely to protest. Try to schedule the first day or two during a time when you don't have much you absolutely must do.
There are many supplements that have been proven to be helpful with depression. I will give you a list of the ones I know about. Get the highest quality that you can and make sure they say “natural”. The synthetic ones aren't absorbed as well and can cause more problems down the road.
St. John's Wort is a well known supplement for depression, but please don't take it if you are on any psychiatric meds. It can interact with them and cause an overdose.
Please consult your doctor and your pharmacist before taking them, but don't stop there! Do your own research and consult with God as well. Find out about possible drug or supplement interactions. Try to find out how and why they work. Learn everything you can, read both the positive and negative articles, then pray and ask God to help you make decisions. Not everything will work for you.

If you have access to the internet, type the name of the supplement into the search bar and read or listen to several sites about it. Then type the name again and the word “warnings”. Read or watch several sites there. Then if you take any prescription meds, put the name of the supplement in again along with the name of the med. Once you've done all this, you will be able to make informed decisions. And if you start to use a supplement and you find yourself having problems, stop using it! Each person is unique. Do what works for you!

A few websites that I have found very useful are:
It cannot be stressed enough: Include God in every decision. He is the one who made you. He can tell you just how you work.

At one time, I was having a lot of problems with my knees. I tried taking glucosamine/chondroitin, but it gave me really bad gas. I went to God and asked what to do. I had a very very strong impression that I should take more oils.
At the time, I was taking the recommended amount of flax oil and evening primrose oil. I doubled the dose, taking the oils at breakfast and supper. This gave me some relief but not total, so I added another dose at lunch. That did the trick! Some months later, I got tired of taking them so I quit. In a few weeks I was having great difficulty walking again. Went back on them and I rarely have any problems! A few years later, I started reading studies about how these oils help with inflammation! God is able to give answers when no one else can!

So here's the list:

Omega 3 oils – krill oil is the best, but flax or fish oil will help too.
Vitamin D3 – This is not the same vitamin d that is in milk. The D2 found in milk is a synthetic form of D. D3 works better and it is rare that enough can be ingested to be toxic.
B12 – Get the sub-lingual type. It is absorbed better
Magnesium – Make sure it comes from a source that ends in “ate”. If the chemical source of a mineral ends in “ide”, the source is a rock. “ate” means it is from an actual food source.
Vitamin C – C can cause stomach upset. If this is a problem, get the “Ester-C” variety.
B-complex – great for your nerves
Chromium – again, get the “ate” stuff
Beta Carotene – This is a natural form of vitamin A that is very difficult to overdose on.
Natural Sea Salt – Get the kind that has colored flakes in it. God put salt into other rocks so that you would get the trace minerals along with it. White salt is pure sodium. These trace minerals that are found with salt are the only kind of “rock” supplement your body is built to absorb.

You will need to research dosage and experiment with what works for you Every person is different. Starting only one supplement at a time and giving it a couple of weeks to see if you have any negative reactions is a good strategy. But remember, when using nutritional supplements, it may take up to 3 months to see a real difference. When I try a new supplement, I usually take a break from it after a few months to see if it has made a difference. Do what works for you.

If it helps with inflammation or circulation, it's probably good for depression. My personal (non-medical) opinion is that inflammation and lack of oxygen to the brain are probably the two biggest physical culprits in chronic depression.
A while after the doctors got my breathing under control, I was caring for a little girl. This little girl found a couple of feather dusters and started playing “cheerleader” with them. Right away, even before my breathing was affected, I literally felt my brain swell. I became very frustrated and angry and started yelling at her. Later, I realized that I had spent most of my life like that. It's no wonder I was such a pain to be around!

If you have allergies of any kind, this is probably happening to you too. Maybe not as severely as what I experienced, but inflammation may very well be a factor. Inflammation is a physical reaction that God designed to surround toxins so they can't kill you quickly. It's a good thing, but it can get out of control. At the very least, inflammation makes you tired and it's difficult to function or think well when you are tired.

It will take a long time to rebuild your nervous system. Be patient and concentrate mainly on renewing your mind!

Activity Chart