Saturday, December 27, 2014

I'm OK, U OK?

Do you remember your childhood?  I do.  And what I remember was happiness.  Oh my dad and mom worked hard to make my life good and have all I needed and there were hard times but I was good.  I loved my parents and sister and they loved me and that met most of my needs.  It seemed the hard stuff didn't affect me.

I went on to my teenage years in this fantasy life with my parents making things good.  I hardly looked at the hard stuff.  Even on to my adult and married life.  You might call this living in denial of reality. I was protected and hoped to protect my children.  The older they got the less possible this was.  I put on an image that everything was great.  This is not real life.  We all have issues and hard stuff in our lives.  We were promised suffering.  God saw purpose in it.  We need to enter in our suffering, feel the pain of it all, not be ok and then go to God and be ok.  God is what makes life worth living.  He gives us joy in the midst of it all.  We all have a cross to carry.

I have been thinking about my cross since Thanksgiving and as you have noticed I haven't written.  I couldn't put it into words.  I started thinking about how awful it was to have mental illness.  All the horrible things that happen because of it and how my family has suffered. I couldn't think straight and the sadness overcame me no matter how hard I tried.   I thought about my family and things they had and were going through.  Oh I know how blessed we are but I felt the pain of it all again.  I don't call this wallowing.  I call it reality.  I went through the necessary motions of getting preparations for Christmas but I was dragging.

I started I putting my family in a world where they have to pretend everything is ok when they are suffering?  Do I allow them to not be ok, for a time?  You don't want it to swallow you up, but you don't want to deny it either.  Feeling a emotions, letting them drive you to God and waiting on His rescue, because in due time He will lift you up, is the healthy way to deal with suffering.  There is a way to suffer and let the Lord fill you with trust and know that all things are possible through Him.  This does not mean things will necessarily turn out how you expect, but it means it will be better than you expect in ways you have not imagined.  God is a redeemer.  He is a miracle worker.  He brings life out of death and beauty out of ashes.  He brings resurrection out of the cross.  Expect it, anticipate it, trust Him.

I began thinking of Mary, somewhere between 12 and 14 years old.  She was poor, not educated and received news from an angel that she would be an unwed mother and have a baby in a manger with a long way to travel and a life she had not contemplated.  But she did ponder these things Luke says.  What a life she was chosen to live.  The sacrifices and scandal she might incur.  God understood her to the point of giving her Elizabeth also with a son, who would be beheaded and gifted and would announce the way of the Lord.  He gave her Joseph, but what were his fears.  They were young and alone and scared but then...then there was God and the faith He gave them to be blessed beyond anything they could imagine.  You cannot view the manger without the cross.  Marry was to be blessed.  She was to be remembered as the mother of Jesus.  Their Son would suffer for the sins of the world because of the love of God.  How could this all be.  They were only allowed to see what they could see, but God had a plan and He does for you and me.  It is one of suffering and one of God's glory.  It is a display of love and power and beauty beyond anything we can imagine.  There is a cost.  Consider it and choose God.  Are we willing to enter into it for the joy!

In the suffering can we ponder the things we may endure but may we focus on the glory that is His through us with great joy.  We were His joy is why He endured the cross.  It was the will of the Father.  Is He your and my joy why we endure?  Do we see even the hard things from the hand of a loving God who knows what is best for us.  What sings with His glory beyond any dream we may have.  May we pick up our cross and follow Him, in sadness and contemplation at times but with faith and great joy!  Will we trust Him and His wonderful plan of redemption?  We will only taste His suffering but we will know Him and the power of the resurrection and be blessed beyond anything this world has to offer.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Now I see Him

Have you ever heard stories of someone who never saw the ocean until they were old or older?  The joy and the excitement can not be explained.  They say it is so much more grand and beautiful than anything they imagined.  I think of times I have had the opportunity to go to the beach.  The sky, the rays of the sun on my face, the wind blowing through my hair, the never ending ocean, the clapping of the waves against the shore, the feel of the sand between my toes, the thoughts of what lays beneath it all and the beauty and miracle of it all.  I can try to picture it now and it is good but it is nothing like experiencing it and being there.

What do you think of when you think of Christmas?  Do you dread the hustle and bustle and hard work of it all?  Do you think of Jesus laying in a manger coming to rescue us and set us before the Father as His good work He has accomplished through the gift of the Father to Him.  Some say all you have to do is believe.  We are told the demons believe.  But they do not love, cherish and honor God as their Lord and Savior.  Do we just believe or do we experience Jesus, Father and Spirit.  Our feelings are not to lead us but what difference does it make in your life that Jesus came, died and resurrected.  What difference does it make you are forgiven. Do you live in the freedom that was bought for you. Do you have a clear conscience that knows there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ?  Does it make a difference you are accepted, gifted and radically loved by God? That He fights for you?  How has it changed you and your life.  How does it influence the way you live and love others and love God.  Do you not only celebrate Jesus but celebrated what He has done for you.  How is this Christmas going to be different for you and those you come in contact with because you are a child of the King.  You are no longer an orphan but are adopted and died for.  What difference does the resurrection make to you?  Are you living in the power of the Spirit that raised Christ from the dead?

Some days thoughts come to me that I am not worthy.  That I have failed and just can't get it together.  That I need more than Jesus gives me.  I take these thoughts captive and I declare them as lies and I reject them.  I then claim the truth that is who I am being a Christian.  I have a change of heart and a change of mind.  It is called repentance and it is a gift from God.  I remember who I am as the Spirit reminds me of my sonship and all that means to me.  Then I hear the music of the gospel.  I am filled with joy and it is contagious.  I spill over Jesus to those around me and my mind becomes clear.  I know how blessed I am and I am thankful.  Jesus is Lord of my life and I am living out of Him and His Spirit illuminating my heart and mind.   There is a place for God in my life and it is first.  I am at rest.

A friend of mine gave me a card for my birthday that is a Christmas card.  On the front it says "Be still and know that I am God".  She wrote, this use to seem like a command to me but the more I think on it, it is a lullaby from God.  She had experienced God not just wrote about Him.  Jesus came as fully God and fully man to incarnate and experience us so we could experience Him.  May it began now.  Job wrote I knew Him but now I see Him.  The experience of faith made the difference.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Free to be me

I have been thinking today.  Wouldn't it be great to accept your sister and brother for who they are.  What if we had no judgmental thoughts toward each other.  What if we had no expectations of anyone.  We just let each other be free to be who God created them to be and accepted and celebrated their differences.

I just barely got my artificial stuff up from the fall.  I had ordered my wreaths for the fireplace and the front door a few days ago.  I thought it would be fun to see another friend tomorrow and celebrate Christmas and Jesus.  I love her so and she is such a joy to be around her.  She said I don't have my Christmas tree up yet.  I said Kathy my pumpkin rotted in my car.  I don't know why.  I looked at it every time I got in and got out of the car.  I drove a long way to find this different pumpkin and was excited to get it.  Somehow I just never got it out of the car and one day my son got in the car and put his foot through it.  Now do you feel better about your preparations for Christmas?

But what if you are totally organized and on top of everything.  Your house is waiting for Southern Living to show up and you have the perfect gift for everyone and it is wrapped.  You are now on to charity and buying for others who are less fortunate and you are exciting about giving and blessing someone else.  What about you?  Are you free to be you too?  We all are different.  I had lunch with some ladies I love today.  We were talking about how different we are from our husbands.  Some are introverts and some introverts.  How do you work that with the Christmas parties coming up.  Do you take it personal and get your feelings hurt because he just doesn't want to go?  Or is he free to be him too?  It is a big deal and we all feel loved in separate ways.  We want what is important to us to be important to those we love but it just isn't always.  My husband would go all the time and I am the one that I have to make myself go to things.  I like and function and enjoy mostly small groups or individual times together.  One is not right and one is not wrong.

My friend said today I have to have both.  She has to have her alone time and time with groups.  I suspect this is what we might work towards.  I would imagine Jesus was a lot like that, balanced.  But today I am writing about how Jesus loves us as we are.  He delights and sings over us.  We are His beautiful treasured creation He celebrates.

I ask my pastor yesterday why did Jesus not defend Himself on the cross when He was so mistreated. He said He did not try to get out of the cross because of the joy set before Him.  We are that joy!  We are to focus on that and the value He saw in relationship with us.  How can we ever feel inadequate or unworthy or less that what Jesus says we are.  Children of the King.  We are accepted, favored, and designed to be just as we are and to become more and more like Jesus.

Today as I had lunch celebrating my friends birthday.  They make me feel so loved and accepted.  I am so comfortable with them.  They make me feel free to be me, but yet it gives me a desire to be more that I can be that I have to depend on Jesus to trust and love Him more and others.  People don't change by being critical, cynical about them, or judgmental.  They change by loving them for who they are.  This does not mean that we don't disciple each other but it means what we see in them that might need to change does not depend on our love for them and they must know how much we are for them to accept it.  I love how the Spirit does not leave me alone but prompts me repent and cling to His righteousness.  I have been nudged lately that there is someone in my life I love but needed to forgive again in a deeper way.  It reminded me how much I needed Jesus.  Those who are forgiven much love much.  I know how much Jesus has forgiven me so therefore no one is a bigger sinner than me but His gift of righteousness is mine.  Jesus is mine and I am His just as I am, unique and wonderfully loved.  Knowing this freedom helps me embrace my weakness and my gifts and use them to Honor God.  The more I receive Gods love for me the more I become the individual He has created me to be.

Friday, December 5, 2014

When God Interrupts

How did your Thanksgiving Holiday go?  Was it the way you planned or was there interruptions at every turn.  I had planned for weeks, planting flowers, cleaning, cooking, getting beds ready, planning for Thanksgiving and a day after celebration.  We all were excited that it was the first time in a couple of years that we would be together, all the children.  I had my plan taken to heart and was so excited then my husband got sick and then I got the flu.  My calendar stopped and I fell to the bed and doctor which interrupted several days I had laid out to be ready right on time when everyone arrived.  I thought to myself.  What do you do when God interrupts the plans you have made.  What was to keep me from giving up, going to bed and getting depressed.  I began to ask for help and take on step in front of the other.  I ask myself...Do you make a daily plan?  Are you planning for Christmas?  Is it under the direction and guidance from the Lord?  Do you hold your plans loosely.  Do you say I will do such and such if the Lord wills it so?

My family took over and we had a wonderful Thanksgiving and all of us were well.  Now the days have crept by as they all have gone.  I miss the all night talks and the laughs.  The sitting on the porch in the cold all bundled up.  Special food, hugs given, reminiscing and story telling.  Thinking of the kiddos in Texas and looking at pictures.  Listening to music, the guys hunting and bringing home their find.  I miss it all.  How to I pick up again and began to plan for Christmas and the coming of our Lord celebration.  The thinking of others and extending gifts of meaning and thought.

 I don't think I will make the plans this year like I did for Thanksgiving. I held tight to the way I thought things should go.  When I let it all go and looked to Jesus in expectancy it was better than I could have imagined or planned in my own strength.   I think I might consider, talk to the others, make my plans loosely.  I want to remember the real reason for the season.  Celebrate advent and wonder what it was like riding on a donkey to give birth to our King.  I want to know how I can be a blessing daily to others that will be a reminder of the Love of God for them in sending His Son to rescue us unto eternal life.  I want to hear the music of the gospel and the birth of Jesus again, afresh and new.  I want to capture the meaning that Jesus has given us all in His birth.  It is my prayer now God. I rest in your hands and see how you will bring it about.  For your glory.

2,000 years ago God interrupted and He will do it again today.  How will we respond?  Will we be ready, looking for Him to show up in our day to day lives. Or will we be depressed and angry things are not in our control and come about as we hope?  We sell ourselves so short in the magnificence and power of our Lord.  He is creative and imaginative and is beyond us and our limited mind and ability. Will we be looking for those He brings into our midst to bless and love beyond what we can do.  I am not talking about loving those who are easy to love but those unlike you.  Those that are hard to love, the unloveable.  The lady at the supermarket who has been there sense 4 am.  The mom waiting in line with 4 kids with no idea how she can get the groceries to the car.  Those ringing the bell.  The ones on the streets we can give a meal to.  Remembering them in our giving.  Prayers for those with no family and nothing but heartache to remember.  Our own family and mates.  Sometimes they are the hardest one to accept without criticism and judgmental attitudes. Even the Pharisee loves those like him.   Can we accept how God will interrupt this year and how we can give others Jesus?  Instead of looking at our days as a failure can we look expectantly at what God will do?  Is He willing to give us another surprise in the gift of His Son again this Christmas?  We will have to spend time in His presence, feasting on His word and receiving His love to be able to then give it away.  Are we willing to get out of our comfort zone and control and risk to be surprised by Grace and Jesus in the most profound way beyond anything we might plan.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Enjoying people, enjoying God

Yesterday I had a few friends over to the farm to take pictures, stroll around, enjoy the day, scenery and God.  An old friend and some new.  I have a really nice camera.  I have had it for a couple of years and have not grown to enjoy it any more than the first day I used it.  It has lots of horns and whistles but I don't know what they do.  Upon meeting my new friend, he immediately took my camera off automatic and in so many words said leave it on manual if you want really good pictures.  He showed me how to adjust the light and off we went.

He talked about taking pictures as an art and how we use it to invite the imagination of the viewers.  He saw beauty and a great picture in things I had not thought of.  I would ask this a good one?  He would give me a few pointers but say if you like it it is good.  I found myself taking pictures of roads that led no where, of piers that had no end, of weeds that seemed to bloom in the sunlight, ponds that reflected, you thought it to be mirrors you could walk into.  I took a lot of pictures that the lighting was bad but I learned to learn you have to be willing to risk and take a chance of failing.  My eyes seemed to be wide open to Gods beauty and creativity as we shared visions we each saw.  We share some hearts and stories too.  It couldn't have been more spiritual than if we were in church.  We were enjoying God, His creation that whispers I love you, and each other that says here is who I am.  Who are you?  Will you share these moments in time with me than cannot be recaptured anymore that a setting sun.  We were there for such a time as we had to grab the goodness of Gods beauty and capture it for others to enjoy.

I told him, he enjoys writing, how I loved to write but struggled getting things on paper these days.  His friend, commented if just one benefits and you enjoy it it is a good thing.  We in American think big.  If God doesn't bless it and make it where lots of people view our work and creativity then it must not be good.  I was thinking this morning.  I don't think God takes any more delight in Billy Graham than He did in us yesterday glorying in His greatness and sharing with each other.  Maybe you are a mom who hardly gets out of the house but you are raising children to love God and working on a difficult marriage, washing clothes and cooking and doing dishes to serve your family.  Trying to reach the hearts of those who live in the house you call home.  You, my dear are giving great glory to your Savior as you depend on Him to do what you cannot do.  As you call His name, Jesus, throughout your day, give me your grace to make is a beautiful thing.  It is communing with Him.  You are tapping into the riches we have in Christ.  We each are created and chosen for a purpose no one else can fill.  We are to give our lives to living for His glory.  We can be so blessed by God but if we are not implementing those blessings into life, what He has given us in promises, blessings and relationship with Father, Son and Spirit, we might as well be broke.  When our eyes are opened to the riches we have in Christ and it becomes a part of our daily living we are in a place that Jesus calls the abundant life.  Loving and depending on Him and HIs Son through His Spirit, it is a peace and joy that nothing can take away.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Whisper my name

Well Thanksgiving is approaching and we are to be thankful right?  Have you ever had a sad day?  Your not really sure why.  You try to find reasons.  Maybe there has been too many holidays in the past that were harder thank you hoped.  Maybe you are tired and weary and you are caring a load you were not meant to carry.  What happened to the freedom Christ has given you.  Maybe you have focused on what you think you should have done in life for Jesus and others.  Great things and they just didn't happen.  Maybe there are some relationships that are not where you think they should be.  No it is not raining.  It is not a cloudy day.  You are just sad.  You had all these plans of writing your friends and family cards telling them how thankful you are for them and it hasn't happened.  You have sat around and meditated much too much on theology.  Ask God to be sufficient for you wondering when the rescue will come.

You think through and you have more blessings than you can count.  God has used hard times for blessings.  He has worked miracles in your families life.  You have more than you ever deserve.  What about the starving ones.  The homeless man you saw on the street just a few days ago.  How it pierced your heart.  You feel like you could be in a room of 100 and be lonely.  It has not happened over night.  You have been withdrawing for awhile.  Isolating for some reason.  You have this nagging feeling of worthlessness and you look to someone to fix it and you know they can't.  It will never be enough.

Then I think of the Israelites being in the desert for 40 years.  I think I have been in a desert for that long.  Where is my celebration that Jesus has come.  The Israelites were not it the desert because they didn't obey but because they wouldn't let God love them.  Come under His wing.

I built a fire, got my cup of coffee and gazed into the flaming beauty.  What is it all about God?   Can I really not mess it all up?  I am thankful, you know that, but sometimes it feels good just to be sad.  I don't think I would appreciate the happiness and joyfulness and thankfulness without the dark days from time to time.  No I don't want to stay there.  I want you to be near and let me feel the nail scared hands.  Feel the crown of thorns.  Put my hand in your side and just rest against your breast.  You are all I really want Jesus, Father and Spirit.  My life is full and complete with you.  I breathe, deep and slow.  All I really have is Jesus in this moment.  I choose to spend it with you.  You fill this place with your presence and I whisper your name and you whisper mine and I am good.  At peace and rest.  The day is almost over and the mercies will meet me in the sunrise.  It will be another day and I will have the choice to be sad again or thankful and glad.  I make that choice right now Jesus.  I choose you because you first chose me.  Thank you for letting me be me.  Not strong.  Not have it all together.  Not have all the answers.  But show you my vulnerable self that longs to lean on you and you love me anyway.  What if you whisper my name and tell me to take the scales off my eyes and wake up.  It was just a dream with my eyes seemly open but truly closed.  The christian may struggle but he knows his life is in Christ and Christ in him.  He is our peace and our joy.  When we are not in that place we are focused on something besides Jesus.

Are you feeling insignificant?  Wonder why you are here on earth.  What is life all about?  God makes it clear in His word.  God says we are His most valued, most treasured creation.  We are important to Him and He has a plan.  We are here to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

What was I thinking

What am I doing?  In Galatians Paul warns them of returning to the law to be sanctified rather than living by faith and by the Spirit.  But you live the christian life the same way you began it by the gospel, trusting in Christ.  I have written many times how I was a self sufficient, capable, self reliant, perfectionistic woman.  Then my life crashed and burned and I did nothing hardly for 17 years.  I am feeling great now and wouldn't you know it?

We had a party to go to.  I needed something new to wear of course.  One lady even came in with the price tag hanging off her clothes.  I leaned back and thought yeah me too.  Several weeks I had my feet done and wouldn't you know it I have an appointment with the dr on Mon because my feet look blistered and peeling.  I am imagining from the hot wax.  I got my hair done yesterday and of course I had to hide the gray.  Today I am having an allergic reaction to the color.  My head is broken out and itching.  I am miserable and wondering how I am going to look gray. The ladies there were talking about all the crafty things they were doing from pinterest.  I thought uggh.  Where is my talent? How do you google that?   Why can't I do that stuff?   Even the sweet n low we put in the color didn't help like it use to keep me from reacting, so now I am taking allergic meds.  We took pictures at the party and we had to sit and get the photographer to hold the camera up high.  We figured out it makes you look younger and thinner.  We took several until we could got one we all approved of, of course.  We posted them on fb looking great, holding in our stomaches, raising our heads and smiling big even though we just had an simple argument.  Oh and the photo had to be photo shopped several times to get the lighting just right.  My daughter is coming for the night with someone new to me and I had to get the house just so so.  My husband complained of having to stash the food processor off the cabinet.  He was ready for bed.  We are having Thanksgiving and I was concerned did I have enough placemats and napkins or did I need to mix and match.  What am I doing?  We are having a party after Thanksgiving and I have been trying to get the yard done.  I have spent too much money and it is not finished.  My husband said it doesn't matter.  I looked at the pictures with a friend and said there is that fake smile.  I hate being fake.  What is the price to look good and get the admiration of others?  I went walking with a friend and as we climbed the hills I hurt my knee again.  It had just gotten well.  That leaves the gym out I had planned on getting a few pounds off.

The Spirit is so convicting me that I don't want to have the picture perfect holiday that those talented and gifted bloggers have that are wonderful, that I come up short all the time when I compare myself to others.  They are young and smart and I am sagging in the face and way behind.  Gained too much weight and reading about how much vitamin D I need to take to lose weight for the holidays?  What am I doing?

I have returned to the law.  To trying to impress and feel good about myself and my appearance and life.  I don't have any major problems right now and I think God is good and loving.  How about last year when I was psychotic and my family couldn't be together at Thanksgiving.  I was treated like a house patient to get me well.  It seemed all my freedoms were taken away and I was mad about it.  Until I went out on the porch and began to talk to God.  I said Lord I am going to sit here with you until I am thankful.  I started thinking of small things asking the Spirit to help me, my breath as I exhale and inhale.  The trees I was staring at.  The food I had had for dinner.  On and on I went until my heart was full of thanksgiving.  I went inside and was so thankful for a family that would care for me and help me get well.  I was thankful for the time I had with them.

The Lord has rescued me and brought me home.  A holiday without love and thankfulness is one without Jesus invited into the dwelling place of your home and family.  I am so broken over what I have done to my life once again.  I want it to be about Jesus, who we can have in our home to love and encourage.  I want to take the mask off and relate and have compassion.  Why do I want the acceptance of others when the Father approves of me because of what Jesus has done for me.  That is what puts a smile on my face and a song in my heart.

 Is it true that my body is wasting away but I am being renewed day by day on the inside.  Do I have the joy and peace of the Lord that nothing can take away and is my love for Him and others growing and growing?  The question comes to me can I be well and not be in some kind of hard suffering and still worship my God?  All I know is I want to try.  I ask myself.  Do I know how to live dependent, happy and stress free without being hard pressed??  Lets see Lord.  Home is where the heart is.  Where Jesus is.  Where family and friends and strangers are.  Home is where there is love.  Home is a babe in manger.  Home is us to the Spirit.  Home is heaven and I cannot wait but until then thank you Lord for bringing me home, once again.  The gift I need this Christmas is Jesus and His grace and to remember He, it is already mine.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Lets not pretend

I have thought and thought and dreaded writing this piece for days.  I know to honor God and to help others it is something I am called to do.  This is to those who struggle with clinical depression and not just a few sad days and those who care for them.  So with a prayerful heart, here I go...

For several months now my friend and I have been filling in as co leaders of a NAMI support group in our area.  It has been a great group from the begging.  People sharing and learning.  A few days ago I go a message that one of the people in the group had committed suicide.  I was devastated, grieved and burdened and for the family.  I played over and over in my head things that were said that could have given me a clue.  They were planning for the future and a trip I learned.  Evidently even her family and best friends had no idea.  No one is responsible for someones suicide.

This week we will discuss the tragedy and pay tribute to her life and what she gave to each one of us. She was brilliant and did all she knew to do to fight the depression with little and no success.  I decided with my doctor the best thing we can do is learn from her life and her struggle to benefit others who struggle.   I would like to add I do not judge her because I have been in the same position where the thoughts in my head and the illusions and delusions made me think my family would be better with out me.  It seemed so very real. It is a lie and Satan twist our thoughts.  Some people think it is the only way to escape pain.  This is a lie also.  We are to enter into our pain with the help of others and go to Jesus.  He is our comfort.  Sometimes it takes a long time.  Life is Gods gift to us and we are His treasured creation.  It is our pleasure to live it with as much joy as we can.   I have lived to give hope to others who struggle and to my family who loves me dearly.  Here are some thoughts.

We need a village in our lives of people, specialist, family and friends to keep up well.  But the problem is the illness yells at us to isolate.  I was struggling a few weeks ago and the first thing I noticed was the pulling away from others.  I did talk to a couple of friends and fought the urge and the pull.  I went on a hike where this picture was taken and ate lunch with a few friends.

Since Adam and Eve mankind feels shame because sin has entered the world.  The thoughts and illusions that the depressed and others with mental disorders have are of the lack of their worth and that shame enters their mind. The results then and now is they want to withdraw and cover themselves.  Pretend it doesn't exist.  We as christians need to know Christ died for our shame and guilt.  But the illness must be caught early with the help from others or the mind is weakened and sick and the thoughts take over.  Some may rehearse suicide over and over with no intention of doing it but then something happens and they snap.  This is why if anyone ever has these thoughts they must tell someone and their dr early.  Adjustments can be made to help.  We are not helpless in this battle if we educate ourselves, depend on God and fight against it with the help of others.  The stigma cannot control our lives.  The desire to be well has to be greater.

There are classes in your area with NAMI to teach you and the care givers how to deal with mental disorders and how to cope with them and help someone else.  We must band together.  Christ died that we would not live in shame and guilt.  There is no condemnation for those in Christ.  I have to believe if we work as a family we can overcome this illness that effects one in four sometime in their lives.  Please pass the word and this message.  We must not pretend to be people who do not struggle.  Who are not who we want to be but embrace who we are and our weakness and live in the beauty of Christ living His life through us.  We must be willing to know our vulnerability is what draws the heart of God and those who truly love us.  It is a risk we take.  It is life we choose.

Friday, October 24, 2014

From Fear to Freedom

My son and my grandson have driven to North Dakota to go hunting.  It was about 25 hours.  We all were concerned for them but my husband and tried to talk them out of it.  My grandson said he heard you will not know if it is worth it unless you do it.  Hmmm.

How much in life have I not done because of fear of rejection or failure.  Someone said I may fall down but I may fly.

I was talking to a friend the other day.  Have you ever thought I know too much and know nothing at all.  I shared with my friend some things and knew I was risking rejection.  It was showing my self righteousness and judgmental attitude.  Usually I say only what I know is acceptable.  Forcing an appearance of happiness can be a sign of depression.  After I finished sharing with my friend I said, thank you for letting me be me.  We all want to be fully known and fully loved.  Tullian said true love is given not earned.  That is grace.  Do we full know the love of God for us and give this to others?

Some signs I know Gods love for me is I am not afraid to be honest and open about myself, my thoughts, and my heart.  This is where I am changed by being open.  To keep things inside is to cover myself and mask my real heart.  Satan loves this and the fear that keeps us in denial and untruth about our hearts.  This is where we learn to love.  With each other accepting each other as God accepts and loves and is pleased with us.

Another sign you know you are loved is you are a risk taker.  Just a few years ago I would sit for hours on my computer or just staring into space.  I was unattached to life and the people in it.  Slowly but surely as the gospel came into touch with my life and my hurts and unbelief, I began to live and love and enjoy life.  I use to be afraid to leave my house.  I could not stay gone but for an hour at a time and would regularly back out on commitments.  God has been stretch me more and more to focus on others and not myself.  C S Lewis said humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.  I have slowly began to not be so conscious and self examine myself and second guess myself but live free and carefree as a child.  My eyes are more on serving others and loving them and not so much what if I am rejected.  What if they find out who the real me is and they don't like me.  I have confessed this to some good friends and I can tell it is slowly changing from my selfishness, self absorbed to bringing God glory through living this life He has given me and loving others and enjoying and serving them.  This has been a slow process but it has been breaking the pattern of a life time of people pleasing instead of knowing He is pleased with me.  I have a long way to go but the chains I had are becoming more loose as I embrace my fallenness and frailty and accepting and loving others in theirs.  Yes it has been a life time but for the joy and peace of it all it has been worth it all.  The Father knows us more than we know ourselves and says you are mine and I delight in you my child.  I laugh more and smile more and worry less and trust Him more with the things that I cannot do anything about.  I even have learned how to dance in the rain as I did once when I was very sick.  But now I am well and look for the joy of the Lord in my everyday life and giving Him the glory for setting me free.  I realize I am going to mess up but it is through walking by the Spirit in love that the fears of failure subside and the dance begins.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Gift of Grace

Some days I wonder can I possibly understand the depths of grace.  I know in my heart of hearts that I am saved by grace but do I believe I am secure and protected in that grace.  Do I know that my sanctification is also by grace.  I wonder do I realize that my relationship with God is strictly based on the finished work of Christ for me not on what I do.  Some believe we move in and out of our relationship with God because He rejects us because we mess up or we don't do enough.  This is not further from the truth.  Gods relationship and His acceptance for me, even His blessings to me is because of Christ perfect obedience not mine.

How about my relationships in this life?  Do I think people will reject me if I don't do and say the right things?  Is my worth based on what people think of me instead of what God thinks of me?  Do I remember who I am in Christ not what others opinions are for me or against me?  Am I afraid to take my mask off with others because I fear their rejection?  Am I secure in the love of God for me and not the acceptance and approval of other?

This can even say does others thinking well of me make me think I have value and worth.  It is not a bad thing to compliment someone but these things about others and myself are temporal.  What is lasting in my identity in Christ and His work in and through me.  That is building one another up and encouraging another when we add the things and works of the Spirit in another person.  Therefore we don't boast in ourselves but in the Cross of Christ.  It is Jesus in and through us that we are to love each other.  We love because He first loved us.  Jesus gives us life, value and significance in this life.  It makes us who we are to be through the blessings, gifts, the development of the beauty of Christ in us.  We are to accept who God has created us to be in His image and realize we are His most prized creation.  We are dearly loved with a radical love that won't let us go.

The more we find life in Christ and know that He is all there is to our acceptance in God the more glory we give to Him.  The more we are satisfied in Him alone and realize that it is finished in Him.  The more we realize He who began a good work in us with be faithful to complete it.  That He is the author and finisher of our faith the more we trust in Him alone and not ourselves.

This is when we move forward or rest in peace with contentment and joy in humble confidence.  We approach the throne of grace with confidence not based on what we have done but on what Jesus has done for us, on our behalf.  We repent of our sins and go forth in faith, trusting in Christ and Him alone more and more.  The gospel does not get wider it gets deeper in our lives.  The truths we know and understand become more real and relevant day to day.  The cross becomes bigger and we live more in Jesus alone as the perfect sacrifice for us.  Claiming the victory that has been won for us and the inheritance and salvation that is ours.  We live life to the fullest and move out of our comfort zones and mask of false security.  When we trust in others for our worth it is a false gospel.  We are to remember the gospel daily and what Jesus has done for us through His life, death and resurrection.  We meditate and contemplate scripture that brings and points us to Jesus.  We pray it back to Him, says Scotty Smith quoting Jack Miller.  It is a personal relationship, claiming who Jesus is and who we are.  A giving of ourselves through dependence and surrender of our love and receiving all He has for us and living out of that through faith.  It is the gift of grace in real life and giving God only the glory for it.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Getting better or trusting more.

I love sitting on my porch.  I am with Jesus and I reflect on life.  I love the lights small and bright.  It reminds me of the light within each of us.  The other night I began to think of an occasion when my dad was Jesus love to me and His grace.  I had gotten a speeding ticket and went to Danny.  I was in high school and Danny college at Alabama.  I said can you help me.  I have gotten a ticket and I don't want my dad to find out.  He will not be mad but he will be so disappointed in me.  He said sure.  The next day my dad said do you have something you want to tell me.  I was stunned.  How did he know  I said maybe something I should tell you but nothing I want to tell you.  He said are you alright Debs?  I said yes dad.  My dad was building inspector and the ladies at the court house had told him.  He always had a way of finding out what I did.  He said are you alright?  I said yes sir.  He said do you need anything.  Do you have it all taken care of.  I said yes dad.  He said I love you.  You always know you can tell me anything.

This instance made me we get better or do we trust more?  My dad wanted me to trust His love for me.  He was not angry or disappointed.  He already knew the truth.  He was so for me.

We know we are becoming more like Jesus but does this mean we get better?  Most would say yes.  I want to share my thinking on this.  Our flesh does not get any better.  But we die to living out of the flesh and learn to live by the Spirit.  The Spirit of Jesus.  We allow Jesus to live His life through us more and more as we trust in Him and not ourselves.

The closer we get to the cross the more we see our depravity of our flesh and the more we see we need Jesus.  We are becoming more holy but not by getting the flesh to act better but to trust in Christ.  It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.

Jesus said you must be born again.  We are new creations in Christ.  With a new identity.  We are saints who sin but that sin does not define us.  We are identified with the death and resurrection of Christ.  We are redeemed.  We have a new heart and a mind like Christ.  We have His Spirit of Jesus and the Father and we are set apart and secure in Him.  We are righteous with His righteousness, totally loved and accepted.  Never forgotten but our sins are never remembered.  We are a child of the King.  It is believing it is Christ plus nothing and that we are who He says we are.  The way up is down.  It is a broken and contrite heart.  One that knows its desperate need for Jesus.  We have the beauty of Jesus.  A new heart and a mind like His.   We are defined by being in Christ, loved, accepted and forgiven, secure in Him.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

All or nothing...

Balance is a word that use to really irritate me.  I had heard we as Christians should be balanced.  My reasoning was you can try to find balance in your life without the Spirit.  But I have come to understand and see that the Spirit does bring balance into our lives.

I don't know about you but I tend to be a person of extreme.  Some call it perfectionism.  It is an all or nothing with me.  I will give it all I have until I burn out and then I just quit.

We are like the pendleton on a clock that hangs on a big tower for all to see.  The world can see it but we can't see it ourselves.  It takes the Spirit to show us we are doing things in our own strength.  We are depending on our own wisdom instead of that of the Lord.  We aim for perfectionism.  We do the very best we can and then we go to the extreme  the other way.  A few examples are...

We will try to help someone and keep on doing it and when they don't respond the way we want them to we quit.  We don't feel any emotions and then when we come out of denial that is all we are, is a big bag of emotional baggage.  We don't express any longings or needs and then when we see we have them we try to find them in everything this world can offer.  We try to win over someone who has mistreated us and when they don't respond we are full of unforgiveness.  We give it our best shot to make something work and when it doesn't we become cynical.  We say we just don't care.  We think something should happen and when it doesn't over a long period of time we give up hope and perseverance.  We love someone and when they don't love us back we withdraw our supposedly love and dislike them and again say "I don't care".  When someone doesn't appreciate all we do we stop doing it completely.  When life doesn't turn out like we hope after trying so hard, we get depressed.  We are enablers and when the person doesn't change we have nothing to do with them.  We can't hang in with the long haul.  We fail and we think we can't do anything right.  We pray and pray and when we think God doesn't answer we lose faith that He is good and He cares.  We think we need to know everything and then we see we know nothing.  We set out to achieve everything and then see it really means nothing.  We go from being controlled by others or another to being distant and putting up walls of protection.  If we can't do it perfectly we don't try.  Legalism to license.

The Spirit brings balance into our lives.  There is a balance to each one of these things.  I am sure you can think of more.  Jesus brings hope, forgiveness, love, prayers.  The only righteousness we truly have is in Christ.  We find life in dying.  Peace and joy in a messed up world.  We learn to love the unloveable.  We learn we are the loved unloveable.  We give up to find.  We lose to gain.  The Father meets all our needs and longings.  We find thankfulness and perseverance through suffering.  We find strength in weakness.  Blessedness to give.

So as we see we have gone to the extreme may we not go to the extreme the other way but let the Spirit guide us and lead us into life and life abundant.  The gospel is our answer.  Christ died for sinners.  Jesus is the answer to our imperfection and our unbalanced lives.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Thinking of yourself less

For the last few weeks I have been thinking what to write and it seemed nothing would come to me.  I wondered if I was just to stop writing for awhile and I still might.  I have ask my daughter to write some and she may.  Usually thoughts just come like pearls rolling around on the floor and I simply string them together.  I am doing really well mentally and I wonder if that is why I have no obsessive thoughts.  Some people on meds don't take them because they feel it keeps them from having gifts and talents.  Lots of talented people are mentally ill.  It is no surprise.  My daughter said so mom had you rather be talented and crazy or not and mentally sound.  Well of course I hated to see the gift of my writing go but there was no choice.  I loved having a sound mind after these few last months.  My doctor said my writing may change.  But I may still write.  I was very me focused and what did God want me to do now that my writing may end.

I thought of some other times I was me focused when I was in grade school.  I thought of first grade and my blue and white checked glasses and short hair.  Then there was junior hight school, when I had a cast on my leg and trying to walk upstairs.  Then as I entered high school and had a blemish on my face I was sure everyone was looking at and I knew would leave a huge scar.  These times did past and I was not the focus of my thoughts anymore.

Now the things that can bring me into focus is when I am suffering and times are hard.  I tend to look inward.  When I am wanting my own way and won't give up control.  When I am insecure and don't remember who I am and doubt everything about me.  When I wonder how I am living this christian life and if I am a success or failure.  I am worried about me.

I think of Peter, when Jesus called him out onto walk on the water.  It seemed impossible but he did begin to walk until he looked down, at his circumstances and to see how he was doing and he began to sink.  Jesus reached out for Peter.

C. S. Lewis said humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinkings of yourself less.  I use to put myself down all the time.  I had an overly sensitive conscience.  I thought I was always wrong.  I was afraid to fail.  I was not trusting God and I didn't know who I was in Christ and what He had done for me.  Oh I knew it in my head but not in my heart.  Not where I live every day.  I did not possess the things that would give me a humble confidence but I was filled with fear upon fear.  I seek the approval of others.

As I remember it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me, I remember it is the life of Christ that is living through me by His Spirit.  The same Spirit that lives in Jesus and the Father.  I am forever forgiven.  I am righteous with the righteousness of Christ.  I am loved with an unconditional love.  God is never disappointed in me because Jesus life is mine.  He is always for me and when He looks at me He sees the goodness of Jesus covered me.  He will be faithful to me no matter how I struggle and He will finish the work He has begun in me.  I am His most treasured creation.  A prize possession.  His grace is on display through me and I am to let it shine and give Him my best by trusting in His Son and His finished work on the cross for me.  He will never, ever let me go no matter how I blow it or how little faith I have because He declared it as finished.  I will receive the prize which is Jesus one day and when I see Him face to face I will be like Him.

When I realize these things I am focused on Jesus and the Fathers love for me and His Spirit.  I am thinking more of others than myself and how I can serve and love them.  I have faded into the shadow  of the background because I am secure in who I am in Him and His love for  me.  I no longer seek the approval of others but seek to please my Father by trusting in His Son.  My doubts turn to faith.  My limitations don't make me feel inferrer but I embrace them and stay within my limits.  My ugliness then becomes white as snow.  My sins are forgiven and forgotten.  My hopelessness becomes hope filled.  My weakness becomes His strength.  My independence becomes dependent on Him. My isolation seeks community. Things that are big become small.  My striving becomes like rest.  My failures become losses I was never meant to have. They point me to my need for my Savior.   He is my treasure.  Others cares are my hearts desire.  It becomes broken as I repent of my pride.  I no longer seek perfectionism but beauty.  I celebrate others instead of endure them.   And life is full of peace and joy, Him.

Monday, September 15, 2014

I fall down again...

 Psalm 139:13-16 (The Message)
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.

Last week was suicide prevention week.  Someone dies, they say, ever 40 seconds of suicide.  Little is said and we are quick do nothing at all, because we don't know what to do.  One in four struggle with mental health and this explains a lot, but most of us have struggled one time or another with wanting to just give up.  We don't know how to deal with the pain in our lives so we seek relief.  Suicide is not the answer.

After I began to bring ever fear captive the fears stopped but, some thoughts, not good ones came.  I felt it was warfare, but my meds were not working.  I said with every bad thought, I praise God that my sins are forgiven.  A friend and I prayed.  The thoughts left but not the continual struggle.  Then it was like I was just struggling all the time, to keep my thoughts at bay.  I called my doc and made an appointment.  I told him something was wrong and I couldn't keep calling the office.  I didn't think my med were working and I knew he had tried before, but I wanted to try some nutritional things.  I have been on this med for 20 almost years.  My legs were swelling.  He tapered me off and started a new med to me and started me with supplements, exercise and diet to hopefully limit the amount of med I am on and effectiveness.  I cannot tell you how wonderful I am doing.  I have a clear mind most all the time, but maybe a couple of times I have struggled,  right before it is due to take the med.  It was, is, all of grace to me.

I wish everyone could see how God is not just at the center of our faith and relationships but He is the center of every part of our life, our soul and heart, which is how we live.  Even how we deal with our health issues whether it is mental health or not.  How are we receiving our bad health?  What is God doing or wanting to teach us.  Are we depending on Him and trusting Him with even poor health?  Do we believe Gods hand is in everything thing in my life and that He is sovereign over all?  What are our hearts condition as a response to our poor health?  Anxieties, depression, lack of functional ability, family issues with it.  What are we believing in and trusting in our good health?  Do we hold this life loosely?  But at the same time value it and live it to the fullest?  How we respond to difficult circumstances is a reflection of what is going on in our heart.  You may have heard the mentally ill are weak but in reality they are way to strong, with their own strength.  God wants us dependent on Him and not ourselves and be strong with the strength of His Spirit not our selves.

I don't know when I have struggled more than these last few months.  It just didn't get any better but seemed harder and didn't quit, well much.  My flesh dealt with wanting to quit, whatever that means.  I was just discouraged and tired and didn't know what to do, so I wanted to do nothing.  My suffering seemed to keep me mostly self focused.  Not thinking of those I love.  But because of Jesus perseverance and His Spirit living in me I kept falling down but getting back up.  I had to rise above the darkness, but I couldn't on my own.  It was torture because of the nature of it all and my lack of control.  I wouldn't want to go back but wouldn't give anything for all the fears, paranoia, obsessiveness, doubts, and what God taught me through it all and how I have seen so much in my life.  I am so thankful and grateful He is in charge and I am not.  Thankful also for a clear head now and moving forward in this life He has so graciously blessed me with.  The one I needed, to depend more and more on Him.  May I continue to look to Him as my righteousness and know I may never get things together, but I have been showered by grace and so I press on, not because it depends on me, but because He lives in me and I no longer live but Christ lives in me.  Now I am thinking I feel great and want to do everything I want.  I have to learn to embrace my limitations and try to enjoy life that God has given to me with a thankful heart.  Be wise and discerning about what I take on and what I don't.  Our health is precious.  Life is precious.  But I fall down and He picks me back up again.

I once had a friend who was moving across the country to be a missionary.  She later said, but my heart went with me.  We think if we can just get the right circumstance our life will be different.  It is nice not to have intrusive thoughts, but my heart was revealed in the midst of things going, what I thought was, all wrong.  But I now see, it was all right, for this time in my life.  God is always right on time.  So I encourage you, to not give up, but to depend on God.  To persevere with His perseverance.  Tell someone who is struggling God has a plan for His children.  That we have purpose and love and value and worth.  That this life is a gift and you care.  If you are the one struggling reach out to someone today and don't stop until you find someone who will listen.  You are created in the imagine of God and you are loved.  You are His most prized creation.  God is our comfort, peace and our joy.  It is through Him that we find the love, peace, value and comfort we so long for.  It is not a running from, but a running to, to Him.  Love finds its way to us, so we can find our way to each other, Bob Goff.  All of grace.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The stars shine brighter in the pit.

It is still early morning and I have been up for a while thinking, pondering, meditating on the things of God and life and how it all fits together.  I think of the cross and the bitter sweetness of the suffering and pain, the victory and beauty.  The things God has done for me and taught me mostly out of suffering and failure.  A lot of my own doing.  I wish you were here with me this morning feeling the breeze, listening to the crickets and seeing the stars hanging about in the darkness still.  In many ways I am in my last phase of life.  I don't have regrets now.  I have gotten over that.  But what I do have is lessons learned.  I would love to have a cup of coffee with you this morning and talk over such things.  Instead I write.   I wish I had lived life differently.  I wish I had lived life rather than trying so hard to be a good girl and making people happy, seeking their approval and making life work.  I think they call that co dependent don't they?  When the happiness of another makes or breaks your happiness?

They say to keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is insanity.  I not only did the same thing but I tried harder and harder to do it better.  Some call it a perfectionist.  I have the results of this on my mind, now, that I live with everyday.  But it is amazing to me that even with that I had rather have the mind I have, in it weakness and be dependent on God than to have a healthy mind and live life self reliant, independent of relying on God, strong in my own strength thinking I needed to be able to do it all own my own.  From the time we are little children, we either say I will do it myself or we lean on our parents to care for and rely on, to help us, do the simplest of things we cannot do.

 I don't think it was until later in life that I built walls around me of protection because of not getting the things I thought I needed in the way I needed them.  Of being needed and not being able to give of myself, my heart for fear of hurt.  I had a dream and my dream was not coming true and I turned inward.  I looked to myself in my utter failure in life. Suffering can do that you know.   Oh according to the world, I had it all, but contentment that God brings. I had no peace, joy or happiness though I tried so hard.   I prayed my prayers, studied my bible, went to church and knew nothing of the radical, unconditional love God had for me and how He would not let up until He knew I understood and received it.  I know it now even though some days I have to remember again, I am His and He loves me.   I am not without my struggles but I know the way back home with the help of my friends and the Spirit.

Don't get me wrong I need people and their love more so now than ever, but I can give and receive love because I have been given and received the love of God for me.  People do not give me my worth or define me but God does. I wish I had laughed more, danced more and sang more.  I wish I had rolled on the floor with my children and taken walks with my husband and even sat with him while he worked.  I still want to be a good Christian but I see it not as a list of rules to keep, music to listen to, prayers to be prayed, studies to be done but a continual relationship between me and God.  I rely on Him more and my success and failures less.  It is His perfect life and righteousness that defines me, that I live and enjoy and I know now He enjoys me.  I am in Him and He is in me.  I no longer live but Christ lives in me. But it is not thinking worse or more of myself but not turning inward and thinking of others and taking care of me so I can be there for others, spread the gospel and live this gift of life I have been given.

 We love because He first loved us.  I know how to love and not out of a lack, not out of an emptiness but out of a fullness.  I know how to enjoy life and live it, even if in small measures.  I know how to love God and let Him and others love me back.  Not to just give but to receive.  I have a taste of contentment in all circumstances because I have had a taste of heaven, Jesus in me and the love of the Father that won't let me go. My faith is in His love for me and for Jesus and not in mine or others.   I live more out of what He has done for me, than what I have to do to be a success at anything, to gain His approval or others approval of me.

 As I have said I have not arrived.  I just had some of the greatest struggles I have had in a long time, but each time there is a darkness or a struggle, it is like the stars shine brighter in the pit.  It is like the joy and life I know when I come out of it is greater than before.  He is bigger and mightier and more satisfying and powerful than I knew Him to be before.  Oh Lord my God, How Great Thou Arn't, I sang in a small church as a child.  It is now in the later years of life that I am getting a real taste of How Great God is and I haven't even begun to see Him as great as He is, but will continue to grow in my awareness throughout eternity with Him.  I see people for the beauty they have in them and not their flaws more and more.  Beauty they don't even see themselves. I pray let me see them with Your eyes and Your love.  Left to myself I can't do this.   I love to build others up and encourage them more now, than proving myself right. I love how He loves the lowly, the brokenhearted, those who have failed and maybe fail again and again, the suffering and the meek, those with a contrite heart and know their need for Jesus.  I love knowing and telling them of the hope they have in Him alone and being reminded myself by others.

How I long for that day.  Where there is complete rest and joy and peace and no more tears or sorrow or pain but delight in God and the saints who have gone before me, in heaven.  But until then I will grow to live this life in abundance, as much as I can and seek to know Him more and more. To be as real and honest with Him and others as my heart will let me.   I move a little bit closer to seeing Him face to face as I will on that great day.  Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done dear Lord, and I have no idea what that is for me or another person on any given day Lord, but you do.  Please make this my heart's cry.  Teach me to pray.

By the way...just signed up for bible study!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Listen for the Whisper of God

After spending several hours with the Lord this morning, listening, praying, thinking and meditating and reading and searching through scripture I think I know where my fears have come from.

Many years ago now I did a discipleship course.  In the course it said we all have two theologies, what we believe about God.  The one we have in our head, we are taught, and the one we have in our heart, the one we live by, out of.  They are not necessarily the same.  The goal is to get the right theology about our belief in God from the bible and in our head to our heart.  To determine what theology we are living out of and believing on a day in and day out basis.  This can take a lot of listening to your thoughts that come into your head and the way you behave, your fears.  What you spend the most time thinking about or even a fleeting thought that may shoot through your mind and you that from my heart or the world, flesh or evil?  Someone can help you find out your functional theology by asking good questions and listening to the things you say and you don't say.

We are warned many times over do not fear in scripture.  Fear is a sin of unbelief as is all sin.  It is not believing God is who scripture says He is, that He is good to me or that He loves me and is for me.  You can have mixed emotions and beliefs.  Lord I believe, help my unbelief.  What are you living out of?  How is God trying to strengthen and even maybe testing my faith?

Somehow in my way of thinking, which I didn't realize, I was believing if God is who He says He is and loves me why has my family had so much suffering all our lives.  Where was God?  If He is good and loves me where was He when all these bad things happened to us?  Was He with me?  I had no idea this was the basis of my fears but I do believe it was, thinking and pondering these things.  What evil meant for bad God meant for good.  The fiery darts were there and it was a testing of my faith.  A growing of it even.

As I respectfully told the Lord my doubts, asking Him to strengthen and grow my faith.  He is patient and good and kind with His children.  Verse after verse came to mind of how we were promised to not loose heart but join in the suffering of Christ. To take up our cross and follow Him.  The way of following Christ is through suffering.   How we will have tribulation and do not lose heart.  We were promised to suffer and to join Christ in His suffering to know Him.  That we will share in His glory one day and this present suffering is beyond comparison to the glory to be revealed. That nothing will separate us and He will never leave us.  That He walks with us through the valleys.  We are trophies of His grace Tim Keller said.  We will be on display for Heaven to see what Jesus has done for and in us.  It will be a great day.

There is no way for us to know the mind of God and why we suffer but some ways are known to us, for His glory, for the gospel, to depend and trust in Him and grow in faith, as a test of our faith, for our good.  We are told in John 16:33 that we will have tribulation but we will have peace and not to lose heart because Jesus has overcome the world.

My doctor said I was also getting better.  God uses the medicine for those who need it, counselor and doctor as well as His Word, friends the body of Christ and the most powerful Gospel.  Jesus is our hope and foundation.  God works it all for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose and for His glory.  Our trust is in God alone.

When God breathes there is life, into dust, into dry bones, into His Word.  Jesus is the Word.  Gods Word is God breathed.  It has His life to give to us if we just believe it.  God loves us and chose us to be in His family and nothing can separate us from His love.  He is so for His children and is always working for their good, redeeming, changing into the likeness of His Son, until we see Him face to face.  In this world we will have suffering and God is with us as nothing can separate us from Him nor His love.  He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.  Those who seek will find.  My heart began to sing the music of the gospel again and I worshiped with thanksgiving Gods mercy and goodness to me.  It all was so clear.  I may still struggle with a well mind and the thoughts but the fear is gone for now...So I listen for the whisper that I am His and that it is finished.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Sticks closer than a brother, Jesus our friend.

If you have been reading the blog for very long, you know I have been really struggling for weeks now.  I went to the doctor and after him questioning me, he said I was depressed.  Clinically I might add.  I needed help to get out of it.

There is a pit deeper than depression and it is one of self pity.  I recognized the night before that is where I had landed.  It is hard, when hard situations persist and don't get any better for awhile.  It is a walking, falling down, getting up and walking again by faith.  I prayed all the right prayers but found myself sluggish and a pull toward my bed, letting other things so, no matter how hard I tried.

My doctor said I had done a really good job fighting the fearful thoughts, that my depression brought out in me. I could have relapsed into worse.  Some people have intrusive thoughts of shame and guilt.   My doctor said, you laugh a lot and cause others to laugh.  You are others focused.  You tell yourself the fears are a lie and I would tell myself the truth, or go to a friend with them.  I needed others in my life.  Because of the fearful thoughts the depression was unrecognizable to me.  I should have recognized the symptoms.  I knew them but it can be so blinding.  I have shared with a few, my family, counselor and doctor so they can help me.  I knew I was not to isolate so I met with a friend every other day most days.  I made myself focus on others and not myself.  Depression is an inward looking.  I knew I wanted to give to others.  We have to decide how we do this best according to our giftedness,  but we also have to receive, not just give. I tend to give all I have got and get burned out and quit.  I give all or nothing.  It is an extreme.  The Spirit brings balance.   It can be a humbling thing to ask for help.  I am not talking about taking advantage of someone but someone who can come along side you in your walk of faith when you maybe struggling.  We need the body of Christ.  We need each other.  We need community.  A small village to gather round us and us them.

We cannot give if we have not received from God.  We look to another person to meet our need of being needed.  We give out of an emptiness instead of out of a fullness.  We love because God first loved us.  Our intimate, personal time with Him and walking by the Spirit through out our day enables us to do, by grace, what we cannot do, and to love in ways, we cannot love.  Also to be humble enough to say I need your help.  Could you help me.  It is a picture of grace the Lord extends to us and we to others and them to us.  It is a gift out of a heart of love.  This is why I write.  To give to others, to point them to Jesus and to glorify Him in my life.  It is not to get compliments.  As a matter of fact compliments are hard for me.  I have had to learn how to receive them graciously too.  That it is people loving and caring about me.  I have learned it does not undo me loving and giving to them.  It is a love relationship between brothers and sisters.  It is humbling to say thank you.  That means a lot.  It is Jesus in me, not me.

But Jesus brings us more and more into who we really are.  To accept a compliment and give Him the glory is a good thing.  He is about placing goodness and love for Him and each other in our lives.  So today my glass is half full not half empty.  I am better.  I see pleasure in writing to you and for tomorrow.  I see pleasure in being His and enjoying this life He has so graciously given me.  I thank God for the graces and prayers of people and things in my life that make me better.  He is my hope and you are my friend.  He walks with us through it all.  He sticks closer than a brother, Jesus our Friend.