Winter Blues

bluejulie (1)

I am not going to be discussing colors, even though blue is in the title of this writing. Winter Blues, SAD(seasonal affective disorder) is something too many people suffer from, and for those of us who deal with depression on a regular basis this time of year is or can be more difficult to deal with. Most people do not recognize this is happening to someone they know for multiple reasons. The person who deals with depression or Winter Blues may be very good at wearing a mask and concealing what is going on inside, end even when asked they simply answer ‘I am fine, or I am okay’ even when they know they are not. They either do not want to burden another with their problems or they do not want to come across as weak or less of a person. This list goes on as well, but hiding it or ignoring it will not make it go away. I know I have gone through all the extremes when it comes to dealing with my own depression. The thoughts that float through my mind especially during this time of year even scares me. I am afraid of the day where I will give into my depressed thoughts. Yet I have continued to fight and keep pressing forward in hopes of a day when I will not feel the dark suffocating force that I feel when depression outweighs my peace or joy. How can I have peace or joy? For one I have learned that peace or joy can be in me in spite of my circumstance or how I feel. It is the calm assurance that no matter how dark and hopeless things are, it is not over and I will be okay. Unfortunately this is not how I feel on most days. Yet this is what keeps me going. I look to scripture for encouragement, as well as people who are supportive and understanding. These people do more than just listen to me, or just sit with me when I do not feel like talking. They don’t pretend there is nothing wrong, but they are compassionate and loving without being overbearing. They do not try to fix me but they walk with me and offer me a hand when I am down and need help getting back up. If I pretended everything was okay and hid my inner battle from them they could not do this. Yes it may seem that I am making myself vulnerable and weak, but it takes a special strength to open up and let the right people in. Depression, blues, anxiety, anger, etc… make us want to keep people at a distance if we even want to see people at all. By doing this we are only letting these things control us instead of us controlling them. I want to live free from these disabling emotions. To do this I have to make a choice daily not to give into them, some days I do good, and there are days when I fail and I let them overcome me. But I do not give up. Not because I did it all on my own but because of Scripture, prayer and people who love and pray for me. Then my important source of comfort and encouragement, Jesus, who died for me to show me how much He loves me, for the Holy Spirit He sent to me to be my Helper and Comforter. (John 14:26 (AMP) 26 But the [a]Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name[in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will help you remember everything that I have told you.) He is the One who is always with me even when I am alone. Loneliness is a companion of depression because when I am depressed or Blue I feel cut off, disconnected, even when I am in a crowd of people I can feel all alone. To help me deal with this feeling I focus my thoughts on Jesus (Who is the Word made flesh. John chapter .) I think about His words and how they tell me of His love, His peace, His Joy, and His victory for my life. I will not say this is easy but if it was not for His love and His Word I would not be here today sharing a part of myself with you today. I have bad days, it does not mean He does not love me, but it does mean that I am not going through the bad days alone. I like how the church (that is you and me who have received Jesus as Lord and Savior) is compare to being His Bride. Then I think of the wedding vows ‘For better or for worse, in sickness and in health, never to part’, and how this applies to our relationship with Him. He never gives up on us He hangs in there with us when life gets ugly. Do not let the Winter Blues get the best of you. I know depression is overwhelming and you may feel like you cannot go on and there is nothing you can do, but don’t give up. Say a prayer, even if it is only these simple words, “Jesus Help!” Then talk to someone and find help.

Here are some scriptures  and links to encourage you included are a link to Web MD and to the Mayo Clinic. I am not a professional but I am a person who has fought depression and PTSD for many years and I am doing better with help. I hope these will help get you started.

a link for scriptures on the Holy Spirit as Comforter and Helper

a link for scriptures on depression

Philippians 1:19(ESV)  for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance,

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Deuteronomy 31:8 – The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

links on depression and Winter Blues

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)


The Hammer


The Hammer by Julie A. Sheppard

     With a hammer I can build or I can crush and destroy. Using it as a tool of destruction is easy, I take the hammer and I hit an object and there it lays in pieces. I can take the same hammer and join two pieces of wood and begin to build something.

I find it fascinating that Jesus is also known as a carpenter. (Matthew 13:55 Mark 6:2-3) He built up lives. He also was on the receiving end of the blows from a hammer that drove the nails into Him, nailing Him to a cross. He was nailed to a cross to pay the price for a world full of sinners that we would be saved from the price of sin which is death. Those who have received the forgiveness of their sins have knowledge of this already. I want to focus on building and not destroying. Right now I want to ask forgiveness for anytime anything I have said or done has driven a person away from Jesus. Some might wonder why I would say this; well I have a good reason. I know in my walk with Jesus I have made many mistakes. In the beginning of my walk I was more religious and arrogant. I didn’t realize this then. I was so excited about finding Jesus and being forgiven I tried to beat it into everyone I knew that they had to do the same. Yet in doing this I was doing more to force my will upon them than acknowledging the fact that God has given the gift of free will to everyone not just to the ones who choose Jesus. If I knew then what I know now things would have been a lot different. Like a child with a hammer for the first time I broke more than I ever built. So now I want to teach how to use the hammer to build with. I am no longer a child. I am however still an apprentice to the master carpenter. I have learned to hold gently to the nail so that I can get it to pierce the wood just right that it holds before driving the nail in and splitting the wood.

How I represent the love of Jesus to everyone I come in contact with represents how I hold the hammer. Am I confident and sure? People will trust me and not run away in fear of getting hit by the hammer flying out of my hand.

Next is how do I share His Word? Am I harsh and condemning in my tone, or am I gentle and loving? The words that are spoken are they my opinion or are they His truth being spoken through me.( Proverbs 15:1 English Standard Version A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. New American Standard Bible A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. King James Bible A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.) Am I splitting the wood or piercing it with the truth where it is received?

My desire is not for me to be heard, but for the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be received. It doesn’t matter who the speaker is, what matters is what is spoken and how it is spoken. A persons tone can affect if the Word is received at that moment or if the person will turn and walk away, and they can miss out on what is being said.

Sometimes you won’t even have to say a word, and people will be drawn to you. Not because of you but because Jesus is living through you and they can see Him even if they don’t know who they are seeing. They will want to know what you have, and they will want to hear what you have to say. There is a homely old adage which runs: “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.”


Verses regarding being a carpenter

Matthew 13:55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?

Mark 6:2-3  KJV And when the Sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.

Verses regarding nailed to the cross

Colossians 2:14 ESV  by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
NASB having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
KJV Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

Verses that can be applied to being the hammer that crushes or destroys

Deuteronomy 24:14 (KJV) Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates:

Proverbs 10:19 ESV Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.

Proverbs 13:3 ESV Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.

Verses for the hammer that builds and joins together

Proverbs 25:11 ESV A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.
NASB  Like apples of gold in settings of silver Is a word spoken in right circumstances.
KJV A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.

Proverbs 15:23 NASB A man has joy in an apt answer, And how delightful is a timely word!
KJV A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!

Proverbs 12:14 ESV From the fruit of his mouth a man is satisfied with good, and the work of a man’s hand comes back to him.
NASB A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his words, And the deeds of a man’s hands will return to him.

Now I must consider what I am building. Am I building a home where love will live, or a prison?

Am I building walls to keep others out, or a gate to welcome them in. Our words are powerful. Proverbs 18:21 NASB Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.

My mouth is a hammer the words that come out are the nails. I can build a house or a coffin. I choose to build a house that welcomes Jesus Christ in. A house is for living in the coffin is for the dead. Personally I don’t need a coffin. I have eternal life through Jesus Christ and I am sharing Him with anyone who will listen. I can’t make them listen but I will be ready to share Jesus with them when they are.


Scripture reference

Matthew 13:55 Mark 6:2-3

Proverbs 15:1

Colossians 2:14

Deuteronomy 24:14

Proverbs 10:19

Proverbs 13:3

Proverbs 25:11

Proverbs 15:23

Proverbs 12:14

Proverbs 18:21

Religious Dividers written November 26, 1999

(found this today and thought it was interesting to find it 12 years later)

I do not understand why it is that when a person belongs to a particular
church or denomination, they refuse to listen to anyone outside of their
group. I’ve noticed that when speaking to different people, when you speak about a certain speaker, or book, I’ll hear things like ” I’m sorry, I don’t agree with them because they don’t believe what I believe,” or “I don’t read anything that is written by that denomination.” I also find it interesting, when you invite someone to go to a different church than where they belong, they refuse due to the fact that they believe it is wrong to go to any church but their own. They make sure you know that it is okay for those who already belong to attend. It is as if we have become more loyal to a building, and a group of people than we are to God. I did not realize that God is so small that He can only go to one church, or be separated by denomination. I do not know about you, but to me personally this is wrong. Gods’ name is not Baptist, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Catholic, Adventist, and the list goes on. A long list of denominational names, that do only one thing. They divide. Separating one group of believers from the other. A religious Babylon. This only helps to keep us from seeking the true God. How can I say this ? It is easy. While we waste our time , trying to find the right church , in the right denomination we do not get any closer to His Word. Once you belong to a denomination you are then restricted to their doctrine. I cannot agree to this, because the Bible is my only doctrine. From the word of God am I to learn, and be disciplined. To be instructed by The Holy Spirit. His Word is what gives life. While religion, and all of its’ divisions only give a person a way to enslave themselves to men. That is what we do when we allow a small group of people determine how we develop and think. It is not our decisions that dictate how we do what we do, it is what we are told. This does not mean that everything that is being taught in the religious arena is wrong. There is a lot of truth that can be found. It however seems to be wrapped up in whatever package they choose to present it. This causes confusion. When it comes to God there should not be any confusion. A relationship with God is not meant to be complicated. It just seems to me that it is man and his religion that creates all the complications,
and confusion. In other words men always have to do it the hard way. There is so much that I still have to learn, however I have come to realize one important thing, and that is God chose to create, love, and give His son for my salvation, all I have to do is accept what He is, what He has done, and follow His lead, and I will make to where He wants me to be. He knows it all. I never have to doubt what He has to say to me. He won’t mislead me, or anyone else. His word is complete.
3:09 AM 11/26/99
I feel as if all people worry about is that you are not looking for God the right way if you are not doing exactly as they are doing. Which may uncover their own insecurities about their faith. I am sorry if I can not keep up with religious etiquette. It is more important to me to do that which God wants me to do, than what some religion or group of people says that I should. God did give me a brain, and I think He wants
me to use it. Why commit myself any further to anything that compromises my relationship with Him. There are so many things wrong in the body of Christ, and one major problem is division of His children. Seek for yourself the Truth in His Word. Do not believe anything any one says without consulting God through His Word and prayer. It is not that people are purposely trying to mislead you, but they themselves have taken the easy way out, by believing in a speaker or a church without taking the time to find out if all they believe is true.

Eye of the Dragon

Art by Julie Sheppard / Water color and ink



I looked deep into the eye of the dragon. I could smell his breath as he breathed through his nostrils. Something burned deep within him.

I was not afraid. I spoke not a word. Smoke came from his nostrils. His anger burning hotter within in him.

I was close to his face as I stared into his eye. I saw the red flame burning. His anger was growing. Still I was not afraid.

I looked deep into the eye of the dragon. Then I turned and walked away. I conquered my fear. I am not afraid!

Expressing myself

   Whether I use words, paint, sketch with pen or pencil, I am expressing myself. What my mood or state of mind is will determine what I choose to express. My canvas can be a sheet of paper, a piece of cardboard or wood, a computer screen, or an actual canvas. My media of choice ranges from words, paints, charcoal, pencils, photography or anything that I get my hands on. I enjoy music and dance. I am comfortable out in nature, in the woods, by a stream, by a lake, or on the sand by the ocean. I am just as comfortable in the city at a museum, in a book store, a cafe, in church, or at a concert(in a theater or outside at a park). Inspiration comes to me like a breeze. I never know when it will happen or where it will come from. It just happens. My best work only happens when inspired. When I try to force it, other ‘s may like my work, but I don’t find joy and see nothing but my flaws. It may be days, weeks, or even months that nothing comes to me. Then the skies open and it is like a down pour. I use to keep these treasures to myself until I found the joy of sharing. Each piece of work is a piece of me. Even when my words ramble on and I feel like I am speaking nonsense, it is still an expression of me. When a blank canvas calls to me, I do not know what the finished work will be. Colors will call to me and then with the final stroke, ‘Voila’ I am happy with this new creation that flowed from me. Even my camera has an eye and mind of it’s own. When I look through it’s lens I am not seeing with my own eye but transported to another world. Then the pleasure comes when I see the pictures in print.  Creative expression is an outlet I need to help me deal with the ugliness found in this world. Art, poetry, music, dance, theater, and books brings beautiful expression of each artist, author, and performer.                             So when I look at another’s work I appreciate their talent and the time they gave to share their creations.

Art by Julie Sheppard

Brotherly Love

Brotherly Love painting

Painting in oil by Julie Sheppard

Romans 12:10

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;

2 Peter 1:5-7

Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.

Psalm 133:1

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!

Brotherly Love Sketch by Julie Sheppard