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I vividly remember my first shopping trip to purchase my first “real” Bible. I gathered up all my babysitting money and excitedly entered my local Christian book store. My balloon filled with enthusiasm promptly popped when I made it to the Bibles section. There were so many choices! After staring at them all, and haphazardly picking up samples to look through, I hesitantly chose a big black leather-like Bible—mainly because it looked studious and super-spiritual. I did not end up using that Bible much. In hindsight, it was a poor fit for me for many reasons.

You see, I was a toddler in the faith—actually not quite yet walking. I crawled around desiring to grow up and become closer to God. I just knew that getting a brand-new Bible would be the answer. But the version and type I chose was all wrong for me. This particular Bible lacked the simplicity and extra helps I really needed at that point in my spiritual journey. Plus, behind the study notes were beliefs that were a far cry from my own. This led to even more frustration and confusion. If I could go back and stand beside my former self, I would help past-Katie narrow down her choices in order to find a Bible that would fuel her burgeoning desire for the Bible and arm her with the basics of the Bible she needed.

That was in 1996, and the options today are much more numerous than they were then. So if you are in the market for a new Bible today, you might be just a bit overwhelmed! Past-Katie certainly would have been. She might have just walked out of that bookstore and given up on this walking-with-God thing.

So how do you know which one is going to be the best purchase for you? Before you go dropping dough on a Bible, you need to know the answers to three questions.

Why are there sooo many different Bibles for sale in the Christian book store?

The Bible was not originally written in English. Duh, right? But I won’t tell you how old I was when that fact finally dawned on me. I guess I just never really thought about it. It is important to recognize this fact because it will help us understand why there are so many different versions of the Bible (it can also help us with Bible study later on). Specifically, it is useful to understand that each publisher that has produced a new Bible has a purpose and a target audience. Some of them want to provide an accessible Bible that is super-readable to the everyday public. Others want to remain as true to the original text as possible, providing a better version for study. Therefore, each team of translators choose between “thought-for-thought” and “word-for-word” approaches, depending on what their end goal is.

If you are new to the Bible and/or want to do mostly Bible reading, I suggest you stick with one of the “thought-for-thought” translations below.  If you want study the Bible, a “word-for-word” translation is going to be most helpful. I think a healthy mix of using both types over time is ideal. There are loads of free Bible apps and websites that allow you to toggle between translations. I’m not super-familiar with all of the translations out there, but here are several I’ve had experience with. Those closer to “word-for-word” are listed first and as we move down the list, we migrate more and more towards “thought-for-thought” translations.

Common translations of the Bible for sale in the Christian book store:

  • New American Standard Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! (NASB) – I grew up on this version and it was the primary version I used for study until the ESV came along.
  • English Standard Version Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! (ESV) – This is the translation I’ve used since 2005 for all my deep studies and most of my Scripture memory.
  • King James Version Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! (KJV) – I’ve never used this much, but it is certainly a popular version.
  • New King James Version Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! (NKJV) – I used this for a little while but it never stuck with me.
  • Christian Standard Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! (CBS) – My husband and I have several new Bibles in this version, and have been trying them out for the past year or so. It claims to be the “optimal blend of accuracy and readability.” We like it.
  • New International Version Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! (NIV) – I’ve never been a huge fan of this version either.
  • New Living Translation Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! (NLT) – I enjoy this as fresh look at familiar verses.
  • The Message Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! – This is technically not a translation, it’s a paraphrase. So it is definitely a “thought-for-thought” and can be helpful if you find yourself completely unable to understand what a passage is saying. (Keep in mind, however, this is only one man’s thoughts on the passage.)

The Mardel book store has a super-helpful chart of all of the above translations, alongside several others, and how they rank on the scale of readability and accuracy, as well as loads of other helpful information.

Why are there so many different types of each Bible version at the Christian book store?

Once you’ve narrowed down your preferred Bible versions (translations), you need to understand the different types of Bible you want/need. For each translation, you will find several different types available, thus a myriad of combinations of Bibles for sale at your local Bible book store.

The main types of Bibles for sale in the Christian book store:

  • A Bible – This is just a plain ol’, regular Bible. There might be a few textual notes in the bottom margin, but typically these contain only the book titles (Genesis, Ephesians, etc.), maybe a few headings throughout each book, and the chapter and verse references. These are often referred to gift edition, slimline, compact, or thinline Bibles. One example is this pretty “Premium Gift” teal Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! .
  • Study Bible – These are typically very thick Bibles, filled with loads of helpful information. Most include important info like the author, audience, and aim of each book, commentary (teaching and explanation by the really smart people who have studied the Bible in an academic setting and know what they are talking about), charts, and maps interspersed throughout—all geared toward helping you understand what you are reading/studying. Many study Bibles are geared around a certain Bible study method or even a theme, which often means the commentary provided will be mostly within that subject. Study Bible examples: ESV Study Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! , CSB Study Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! , Inductive Study Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!
  • Devotional Bible – Typically geared toward a certain group of people (women, men, students, children, etc.), these Bibles contain short devotional thoughts and stories throughout each book of the Bible. You can think of them like a devotional book all split up and appropriately placed into the Bible for you. Examples include the (in)courage Devotional Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! (I contributed to this one!), She Reads Truth Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! FamilyLife Marriage Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! ESV Men’s Devotional Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! , The Message Devotional Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! and many, many more.
  • Journaling Bible – These Bibles are laid out to give you white space for note-taking or art journaling. Some provide designations in the title of where the journaling space is, such as single column, double column, interleaved (where every other page is blank), and whether or not it is lined. If not in the title, you’ll want to be sure to check the description or look for an opened sample so you purchase your prefered layout. Examples:  ESV Journaling Bible, Interleaved Edition Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! ESV Single Column Journaling Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! .

How are you going to use this new Bible?

This may seem like a silly question, but it is important. Another way to ask this question is, “What do you primarily need from this Bible?” Room for sermon notes? Teaching on what a verse means? Space to record prayers and/or what you are learning? You might have your eyes on a stunning journaling Bible, but what you really need is a solid study Bible. Maybe you have a well-loved study Bible, but need room to record your study notes. You might be like me—continually forgetting to pack your Bible and favorite pens Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! —so having a Sunday morning bag like this Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!  with a dedicated Bible and pens for recording sermon notes is just what the doctor ordered.

Generally speaking, a solid study Bible is going to be a great first investment I recommend the ( ESV Study Bible Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! ), especially if you are new to the Bible. Here’s the key though: you need to use it! Study Bibles can be pretty overwhelming at first, but the charts, book info, and study notes are invaluable guides as you begin to explore Scripture.

Though ill-fitting, I’m glad I did pick out a Bible way-back-when. It was a choice of obedience for me. A determined step in the right direction. Though it wasn’t a perfect choice, God used my frustration with not understanding what I was reading to draw me even closer to Himself and also to seek help from others. So if you are still feeling a bit stymied by all the options of Bibles for sale at the Christian book store, I encourage you to step out, regardless. His Word is alive (every version and type!), our God is in control, and He can guide you even through an eeny, meeny, miny, moe approach. Narrow it down by version, type, and something you can afford, then take action … pick one!

Is the Bible really error free

FOCUSed15 Christian Podcast – Season 3 – Episode 8

For some of you, your answer to this question may be a no-brainer. Or, maybe you are currently wading through theological waters to find the answer to this question. Either way it is important not only for you to know your answer to this question but also WHY. In this quick podcast episode, Chris and I chat about whether or not the Bible is really error free.

IN THIS EPISODE YOU’LL HEAR ABOUT:

  • Whether or not the Bible claims to be error free
  • What to do with the supposed errors in the Bible
  • An example of how Katie came across a passage that didn’t seem to line up and looked inaccurate
  • Three reasons to hold tightly to the inerrancy of Scripture

RECOMMENDED RESOURCES:

Links below may include affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I receive a small portion of your purchase. Thanks!

  • Are there errors in the Bible?  – This brief article from NAMB gives quick explanations for 16 different categories of supposed errors.
  • What is Inerrancy? A quick and helpful Ask Pastor John audio interview.
  • Bible Doctrine by Wayne Grudem – This is a resource packed with loads more than just info about Biblical inerrancy.
  • Is Inerrancy a Historical Doctrine? In this video interview, Keith Whitfield sits down with Nathan Finn to talk about inerrancy and church history.A helpful look at the understanding of inerrancy throughout church history


HOW TO LISTEN TO THIS PODCAST:

You have many options for listening in. Simply choose your favorite from below.

1. Listen right here on the blog. Just click the little play button at the end of this post. 

2. Listen from an app on your smartphone, iPad or iPod– For iDevice users, click here to access the podcast and subscribe in iTunes.  If you don’t have an Apple device, you can listen with the Stitcher app. You’ll have access to new episodes on either app as soon as they are published.

3. Listen from your computer via iTunes or Stitcher. Just click here to access the podcast in iTunes or here to listen from the Stitcher website. Once you subscribe to the podcast, new episodes will show up in your iTunes and/or Stitcher dashboard.

 

I’ve had a lousy week.

It was unusually busy, with a Bible conference held at our church during which I watched the 4-year old class twice. (If you’ll remember, nursery duty is not my typical place of service in the church.) The newness of homeschooling has more than rubbed off and the kids were less than cooperative. I’ve had to miss the gym several times over the last few weeks, the house is a wreck, and I’ve had many random and poorly-scheduled appointments which couldn’t be changed.

So, yeah, it’s been a bad week.

Though the external of my week was rough, it’s the inside of my week that stinks. My attitude, my selfishness, and my sheer exhaustion. I’m pretty sure much of it is hormonal and “thyroidal” (I have yet another untimely appointment scheduled which will hopefully take care of those issues.) but there is another surge of emotions taking over which is not a physical problem. It’s spiritual.

My flesh is putting up a good fight these days and I’ve been attempting to stand against it on my own.

I’ve failed miserably.

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There is much about this week I wish I could erase, but I am thankful that I do have hope. My God has not forsaken me, my kids are still my kids, and my ever-amazing, servant husband is still by my side.

I’m clinging to grace once again, trusting in the truths God’s Word gives me. (And listening to this song on repeat all day.) 

And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you. – Psalm 39:7

What truths do you cling to when you have a bad week?

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Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15 ESV)

I long to abide—to stay in deep fellowship with my God.

The thought of  holding on for a lifetime is wearying, but there is great, sustaining grace!

I teeter between devotion that fuels me forward for a while, followed by despair that my efforts didn’t take me further.

Do my best.

The trap of comparison strangles. If I spend too much time thinking I should be this or that—or her—I become paralyzed with all I am not.

I don’t need to be a full-time missionary, have gone to seminary, or homeschool my kids to be approved.

I am only to do my best. Right here. Right now.

God doesn’t expect me to be something I am not called to be. He only wants me to do my best—not someone else’s best—right where He has placed me.

Present myself to God.

What great and glorious grace I have been given! Thousands upon thousands of mercies He has extended me.

Oh, how I want to give all of me to thank Him!

And so, dear brothers and sisters,  I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. (Romans 12:1 NLT)

Every day—every moment—is an offering to Him.

Rightly handle the Word.

His Word is living. His Word is active. My bread and water for each day—an abundant source of life.

Read it. Study it. Know it.

Meditate on it.

These are the prerequisites to handling it rightly.

The longing for approval.

I long for approval—to hear those words: “Well done.”

So, I will do my best right where He has called me. I will live each moment as an offering of thanks.  I will strive to know and understand His Word which will guide the way forward.

I will be approved.

Abide. Remain. Do not depart. This is what we have been charged with. The Christian life is all about holding on and staying connected to the source of all we need.

I long to be tied to the dock—for a lifetime. Not just today, tomorrow, or next week, but to the end.

Honestly? The thought of holding tightly for a lifetime is wearying.

What it takes to cling to Christ

Grace.

Hard work.

Grace.

Hard work.

Grace.

Grace.

Grace.

I cannot hold on—I will not hold on—without His hands surrounding mine.

When my little ones are learning to swing, I cover their little hands and grip the chain. When they let go they don’t fall because my hands are surrounding theirs. I am holding on for them.

So it is with grace.

Grace is His big, strong hands covering mine. Gently yet firmly grasping the rope with my hands safely sandwiched between.

My soul clings to you;

Your right hand upholds me.

(Psalm 63:8 ESV)

For when my kitchen is a mess…

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…the living room has exploded…

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…and the laundry is taking over…

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…and for when I am weary of it all…

…I am thankful that when the God of all order looks at me He sees Christ’s perfect obedience—not all the chaos in my life, nor my disobedience.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past. (Romans 3:23-25 NLT)

Not because of what I’ve done, but because of what Christ has done on my behalf,  He is well-pleased with me.

(…and at least my floors are clean!)

“…when his love is all that surrounds you and all that contains you and all that you contain, then life is a whole new ball game. What was down is now up, what was death is not life, what was less is now more, and what was weakness is now strength; there is no more death for you. It is all nothing but life. No one can kill you when you are already dead.” —Die Young: Burying Your Self in Christ, Micheal and Hayley DiMarco

Wow. I’m not sure about you, but when I read this, I am intrigued. What do Michael and Hayley DiMarco mean by this?

Hayley and Michael make some strong claims in this book. That if we die to self, we actually obtain real life. If we become weak, we become strong. Really, they are not the ones making these claims—these truths are all over scripture.

There is so much about the Christian life that is up-side-down. In Die Young: Burying Your Self in Christ, the DiMarco’s have done a fabulous job helping us understand the up-side-downness of the gospel—and how it give us joy and hope for growth in our day-to-day walk with God.

Die Young, DiMarco, Book Review, crossway

One of my favorite things about this book are the “Here Lies” sections. Peppered throughout the book are stories—confessions, really—of Micheal and Hayley’s journey of dying to self. They share some deep, honest past and current struggles. I appreciate that. Their stories give me courage to live out my own sin-stained story, and to strive for more of this dying-life.

In Die Young, you will receive practical, applicable truths for our journey of sanctification and the fight against our flesh—the left-over old self in us that craves to do what is against God.

Here is a peek at all this book holds:

Death is the new life.
“There is a death that comes that isn’t meant to destroy you but to destroy that in you which was never meant to replace the hand of God in your life.”

Down is the new up.
“…it takes a strong redirecting of our minds to put us back on thinking more like sinners saved by grace than royalty destined for only the best of things.”

Less is the new more.
“…the less we treasure, cherish, and worship here in earth, the more our hearts yearn for the things of heaven, that is, God and his will.”

Weak is the new strong.
“As you come to accept the things you can’t do, you learn to rely on the One who can.”

Slavery is the new freedom.
“The self that we all have can either be an empty vessel ready to accept the life of Christ into it, a temple to his holy Spirit, or it can be occupied with more human things—self-will, self-effort, self-dependance, self-esteem, self-importance. All of these focus on the little god inside of us rather than the true God above us.”

Confession is the new innocence.
“When you die young you are honest about sin because you care less about your own life and standing than you do about God and his standing.”

Red is the new white.
“To belabor your sinfulness is to ignore the blood that cleanses you from all unrighteousness. When we die young we die to our right to hold onto the memory of our sins…”

Dying Young is available for purchase now, and will be released on January 31.

I was given a pre-released copy of Die Young in exchange for my review. All opinions stated are my own.

Read more of my Crossway book reviews.

Kenneth: Ok, so here is what you do. Pray and ask God to come into your heart. Say, Dear God, please come into my heart.

Anna: God, come into…

Kenneth: No! Say Dear God…

Anna: Dear God…

Kenneth: Will you come into my heart?

Anna: Will you come into my heart?

Kenneth: So I can be a Christian.

Anna: So I can be a Christian.

Kenneth: So I won’t go to hell.

Anna: So I won’t go to hell.

Kenneth: OK, now I’m going to go tell mom.

{little boy footsteps}

Kenneth: Um, Anna just prayed out loud, that she wanted God in her heart.

Mommy: Oh, yeah?! Why did you want her to pray?

Kenneth: So she won’t be in hell.

Mommy: That’s good that you don’t want your sister to be in hell. What’s the worse part of hell?

Kenneth: Jesus isn’t there.

Mommy: That’s right! You know, Kenneth, what you did is what Christians are supposed to do. We are to tell others about Jesus, and about their need for Jesus—because of their sin—and about how they can be with Jesus forever.

{little girl footsteps}

Mommy: What happened, Anna?

Anna: I prayed to ask God in my heart.

Mommy: Oh, yeah? Why?

Anna: Because I want to become a Christian

Mommy: Why do you want to be a Christian?

Because I love you.

…………………

This made me smile.

So, obviously there is still much Anna to grasp about the gospel (and Kenneth about evangelism).  There are many more conversations to be had. However, I just love that my six-year old is sharing the gospel my three-year old! (And just so you know, we really don’t talk about hell being the primary reason to become a Christian. I think Kenneth has heard it at church a few times, and his little mind is fixated on it.)

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14

Linking up with Inspired to Action, The MOB Society, and Scripture and a Snapshot:

In the last 6 years I have lived in 4 different towns and 6 different “homes”, some for only a few months. With each move, it has taken much effort to settle in. After all the boxes are unpacked and furniture is arranged, there was still work to be done to figure out what “normal” looks like in each new place.

We just finished up studying John 15:1-11 last week, over at Do Not Depart. The overarching command here is to abide, or remain in Christ. His Words are to abide in us, and as it does we are given great promises.

The abiding of Jesus’ word in us means that his words find a home in us. They fit. They belong…You move other things around and even get rid of some things so that the word has room and “feels at home.”

The words of Jesus don’t “abide” without effect. When they take root, they produce faith and holiness. “Sanctify them in the truth,” Jesus says; “your word is truth” (John 17:17). So when his words abide in us, sanctification happens. We are transformed. Holiness, Christlikeness, happens. -John Piper, If My Words Abide in You

Oh, I want the Word of God to be at home in me!

I feel like I am only beginning to experience the words of God abiding in me, and it has been accelerated greatly through scripture memorization.

Just like when we make a physical move, we don’t come to a place of “at-homeness” with the Word of God overnight. We don’t know the Bible intimately the moment we enter into a relationship with Christ. It takes hard work and time for the Word of God to be at home, settled in to our hearts.

Another thing we need to realize is, our hearts are not new, empty houses ready to be filled. Our hearts are filled with clutter, old furniture and unwelcomed guests. In order for the Word of God to be at home in our hearts, we will need to de-clutter, re-organize, and ask some guests to leave. Only as we do this can we provide God’s Word a place to abide in our hearts.

I have found that there is no better, quicker way to “make room” for the Word of God in my heart than to memorize scripture.

Pastor John has come to the same conclusion. You can listen to, watch, or read the full sermon here.(In case you don’t catch it, Pastor John starts out this sermon by reciting Psalm 1, Psalm 16, Psalm 103, Romans 5:1–8, Romans 8, Matthew 6:25–34, and 1 Corinthians 13, back to back. What an inspiration!)

For more inspiration, be sure to head over to Do Not Depart this week, and check out the vlogs and posts by others on this scripture memory journey.

Linking up!

This has been a difficult season of life. I’ve had some defeating days lately. I struggle with getting my heart to believe what my mind knows.

Specifically, I struggle with my role as momma. I know that I am a good mother. Not perfect, but I am not neglecting them. I love them, feed them and care for them physically. I point them to Jesus and their need for Him. I pray for them. Their basic needs are met, they are loved and the gospel is readily available for them.

Yet most days I don’t feel like a good mother.

Moments come and I lose my temper. Days pass where I have wanted to be anywhere but in the trenches of discipline, diapers and dirty floors.

There have been some moments where this feeling is completely overwhelming.

“I can’t do this.”

“I am a horrible mother.”

“I want to just run away.”

Emotions seem to overtake my soul. Anger. Despair. Hopelessness. Fear.

In this season of battling my feelings with truth, Psalm 143 has been both a comfort and a source of strength. If you, like me, have been battling with negative emotions and overwhelming discouragement, will you take a moment to read this Psalm? If a truth resonates with your soul, will you stop and cry out to the living God who knows every part of your soul?

1 Hear my prayer, O Lord;
give ear to my pleas for mercy!
2 In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!
Enter not into judgment with your servant,
for no one living is righteous before you.

3 For the enemy has pursued my soul;
he has crushed my life to the ground;
he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead.
4 Therefore my spirit faints within me;
my heart within me is appalled.

5 I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all that you have done;
I ponder the work of your hands.
6 I stretch out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah

7 Answer me quickly, O Lord!
My spirit fails!
Hide not your face from me,
lest I be like those who go down to the pit.
8 Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.

9 Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord!
I have fled to you for refuge!
10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God!
Let your good Spirit lead me
on level ground!

11 For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life!
In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!
12 And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies,
and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul,
for I am your servant.

Psalm 143 ESV

I’ve been memorizing these words, journaling through them and listening to them over and over again on my phone as I drive around town. I am excited to share more soon about what I am learning from how David dealt with his despair.

Do you struggle with overwhelming negative emotions? Do you struggle with the disconnect of what you know and what you feel? What have you found to be helpful as you battle these dark days?