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.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Suffering in Silence II

My husband had called Senator Thurmond to help us get dad in the best hospital in the country for mental illness.  My dad was paranoid schizophrenic.  The only thing we knew to help at the time was shock treatments and it didn't seem the way to continue in going for several reasons for us.

I remember sitting in the floor of the small bathroom with the light on and door shut as my mom and sister slept in the tiny hotel room, as we waited for dad to be seen in the morning at the hospital in Charleston.  They were suppose to be the best and the most up to date treatment. They introduced us to medications that would help my dad live as good a life as he did.   I sat through the night reading and pondering the book of Job.  My heart grieved with all the suffering at that time.  I could not see the blessing in suffering.

It has been almost 20 years since I have been struggling with schizo-effective disorder.  The health and circumstances were more than my mind could handle.  Especially me caring the weight of the world on my shoulders.  We decided to come out of the closet many years ago as I got educated that mental illness was an illness of the mind, just as diabetes is of the blood.  The shame was gone.  My mind was sick.  The stigma couldn't touch me now.  I would be an advocate.  I began to teach through NAMI, the hospital staff and the police enforcement, as I was a member of a team giving my story.  I led support groups and still am.  Danny gave interviews and sponsored golf tournaments for National Alliance of the Mentally Ill.  I felt the best thing I could do for my family was to point them to God and to become educated on the subject and we are still learning this illness that affects every area of my life.  But it does not define me.  I am identified with Christ.  I no longer live but Christ lives in me.  I am a child of the King.  He loves me as much as He loves Jesus, His Son.

When you suffer from mental illness it is important to have a team of experts, family and friends to help you diagnose the symptoms early.  This is the best scenario of not relapsing.  My doctor explained each time I had a psychotic break it would take longer to recover.  That everything in my brain was magnified.  I do everything with obsession.  To the extreme.  I work on balance in my life all the time.  I have a village of people that help me.  Where you might have a fleeting thought I have huge fears or obsessive, intrusive thoughts.

I have been dealing with a lot of fears for the last few weeks.  These can be sheer torment and repetitive.  I knew I was to be on my meds at regular times, talk to the specialist and family members.    Stay connected to others, my friends and not isolate, which I tend to want to do when I get to where I am struggling.  I knew my faith could help me but I was not sure how.  When a fearful thought would come I would tell myself the truth and say I trust you Lord.  But somehow it was not reaching my heart. My old faith was not working for me.  Faith has to be new everyday.  I needed a deeper faith and trust in Gods love and goodness for me.  In His greatness.   I needed more of the gospel truth to work with where I was struggling.  I read a post from my former mentor about, we are not given a spirit of fear but of sound mind.  That the Spirit is always reminding us of our sonship.  That we cry out "Abba, Father".  That was it.  It was the love of God, I so desperately needed.  So as each fear would come I would say, "I know you love me Father, I am your little child".  I thought of my love for my own chidden and how much greater is Gods love for me, for us.  It is not enough to put off our fears by truth and trust but we must put on godly behavior.  Have a change of thinking.

Phil 4:8  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
As I think of Job now, I think of how God got Job all alone.  It was just God and Job.  God brought Job to the end of himself.  He was such a capable good man.  But he was not God and he needed to be brought to his knees to see just how great our God is.  He repented in ashes of his self righteousness and worshiped God.  God blessed him in more ways than Job had done in his own strength.  His self righteousness was gone and he not only knew God but he had experience Him.

I did everything right in my younger years.  I guess you could say I was blameless.  But it was in my own strength and I was not broken.  I did not see my need, my desperate need for Jesus.  I know Him in ways I never could have, apart from my suffering and seeing the suffering of my family, with my mental illness.  So God has used it in my life to bring me to a deeper dependence and reliance and faith in Him.  I see God with new eyes.  I experience Him now and not just have a head knowledge.  I see my life as full of blessing.  I use to think I had to just hold onto God.  Now I see it was Him holding on to me.  He is forever faithful to His children.

It seems nearly every member of my family is going through major change right now.  From new jobs, to new lives, new homes.  It is major to move out of your comfort zones, your illusion of security into the real security of the loving arms of your Father.  You have to confront fears and learn to live life bravely and boldly.  It is a challenge, a growing, a learning, a stretching of God not to leave you alone to grow cold, but to live a life of faith with vigor and excitement.  It is a way of not just being in life, but in living it to the fullest.  The Lord promises abundant life.  We just need to reach for it no matter what our struggles or fears.  Perfect love cast out all fear.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Suffering in Silence

For almost 3 weeks things have been hard.  I have written about the fears and thoughts.  After getting in touch with my doctor I went back on a medicine I had originally been for some some time and done well with.  We decided to go back on it.  It has made me feel very sedated.  I have had to pray for Gods strength to be able to have the energy to do the things I want to do.  It has been hard feeling like I have been sleeping my days away.  I had another call to my doctor and we readjusted my meds. We will have to wait and see.

I have also been bringing Gods truth to light with my fears and sharing them with a friend.  This helped a great deal.  My mind still obsesses at times.  And sometimes Gods just rescues me in one way or another.  It maybe to draw me to His heart.

Then yesterday came the news of Robin Williams.  It hit me and I know some of you hard. My heart goes out to the family and friends.  He will be missed by all as he brought laughter to a sometimes sad face.  It seems he suffered in silence.  I did this for a long time.  A shame because of the mental illness and the stigma even from the church in general.  That I had lack of faith or sin in my heart.  So I kept it a secret as long as I could.  Once I came out in the open I found nothing but support from my family and friends.  They have tried to educated themselves and be supportive in any way possible.  They have had to put up with my ups and downs, my quirks, my dysfunctions and moods while worrying about me all the time.

There is a difference in being sad and having a depressing couple of days and being clinically depressed when you probably need help to pull yourself out of it.  Educate yourselves on the difference if you or someone you love are struggle with a lengthy depressed state where you have no hope at all.  Many times the suffering person has a pull just to isolate in their pain.

I now have a team that helps me keep healthy, my family, my friends from church and others, my counselor, my doctor, my NAMI educational meeting and support group and my pharmacists.  It takes a village to keep me well.  We cannot stay well and be isolated from others and be judged.  The government needs to come a long way in helping.  The jails and streets are loaded with the mentally ill.  We hear of things that happen as a result of this illness.  It seems to be growing or we are just learning more about it.

There is much that can be done.  We need to have good counsel from a counselor or others and we need the body of Christ in our lives.  We need to be educated and support for us and our family.  We need to see what we can do to come along side others and give them the resources they need and not run from the illness but run into help.  It is a silent killer of lives and people living functional happy lives.

I praise God for how He has used my mental illness in my life to teach me more about Him.  To become more dependent on Him and to trust Him even more.  I cannot hide my sin because my thoughts and my life is so magnified.  My struggles are just out there.  My self righteousness has met it match.  I know how much I need Jesus and His grace just to make it.  But I am so thankful for how it has drawn my friends and my family even closer to each other and to Him because we need each other and Christ to make it.  So even my suffering has been used in ways for me to tell of His goodness and faithfulness to me and I am thankful.  God has used it to give us all compassion for others in many ways.  We know perseverance like never before.  There is hope.  There is help.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Eye of the Storm

Have you seen the tv show where a couple of people chase tornados?  I hardly ever watch tv.  Don't know how to operate the control lol.  Seriously.  Not really interested but I love this show.  It always amazed me how fearless they were and how close to the storm they got.  What also struck my attention was in the middle of the storm things would be left untouched while all around there would be destruction.

Sometimes I awake in the middle of the morning.  Go to the bathroom and get some orange juice.  Well by that time I am awake and I might sit on the porch a little while thinking about God, my kids, my day.  This particular morning I got on my computer and checked my email.  Someone I loved was in a very hard place.  I wrote a prayer letter to a few close friends asking them for prayer.  By the time I had sent the email I was at a place of surrender.  Lord I don't know what is best for them.  I know you love them more that me.  You hear my petition, but I say Lord, what I want is what you know to be best for them.  It could be the hard way.  I am not expecting the worse but I am knowing that you are and that you are in control and whatever it is that comes you will be with them.  It is better that they be in a hard place if you will it, with you, than in what I think maybe the best place, an easy road, without you.  So be it Lord.  Your will be done.

At that moment I laid down and with much peace drifted off to sleep.  Could it be the Lord had answered my friends prayers for me even before they prayed?  I think so.  Upon getting up and reading my email there were several that said the very thing God had done in my heart.  He had brought me to a place of trusting Him and His plan.  My one time mentor said you don't know anything.  That is your biggest problem you think you know what is best.  He was right.

It doesn't always turn out this way, but we can find peace in the midst of our turbulent lives if we search for it, for Him.  It is through the trust of a little child we find peace.  Miraculous things transpired by morning and God was displaying His grace everywhere. He worked in ways I never imagined.  Not only that but He had taken me into the eye of the storm, near to His heart and desire.  The place of quiet, peace and joy in the midst of a very difficult space and time.  While all was raging around me I had found a place of trust that calmed my very weary spirit and soul.

It was a place near the heart of God.  He had me and the one I love and I knew whatever His will would be,  it would be ok.  I had no idea what the best circumstance for them was but He did and He would bring it to pass.  So as in the middle of the storm I found the peace that passes all understanding.  I might think I found it but it was Him finding me.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Preach the Gospel to yourself.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in 
him shall not perish but have eternal life.

My new friend asked me...What does it mean to preach the gospel to yourself?  Then she commented, "Deborah tells me to preach the gospel to myself.  But I do not know what this means."  I have been thinking since she first asked me, Exactly what does it mean to preach the gospel to yourself every day?

I hesitated to answer my friend because I had never really heard the concept put into words, and I wasn't sure I could do that.  I have come to my own conclusion of what it means through years of observing several teachers, but had never actually heard someone say:  "This is the gospel for living the Christian life."  Most of us know what the gospel is in relation to becoming a Christian...That Jesus died for our sins.  That our sins are forgiven.  We have been given eternal life through faith in Jesus. You have heard things like:  "It is just as if I have never sinned."  "Jesus lived the life I could not live, and died the death I should have died."  "He took my sin upon Himself and gave me His righteousness, His goodness, His life, His perfect record."

Billy Graham preached the same gospel message over and over again but in different ways, not just for the lost, but for the saved.  He preached Christ crucified for sinners.  Paul said the same way we began the Christian life, we are to continue in it.  To begin the Christ life, we repented of our sins and by faith believed that Christ died for our sins.  That we were forgiven and put our faith and trust in Him.  We trusted Him as Lord of our life.

This is the same way we live the Christian life.  We believe this over and over again.  We repent of our sins and we trust in the finished work of Christ for us.  But the gospel, I have realized, goes deeper and wider.  Wider than we can imagine.  All of Scripture is about Jesus and His coming to rescue us. It all points to Him.  Every story whispers His name.  We are told that to see Jesus is to see the Father. By Him we understand certain things of who the Spirit is.  I think we will spend eternity and still will not come to an end of the knowledge of the Gospel because it is Jesus.

So what I am learning to do is to bring all of Scripture into the fold of the gospel.  I make Scripture relevant to the gospel and to my everyday life.  I think this is what the Word of God does.  It can be as easy as "Christ died for sinners and gives us eternal life," or as deep and as wide as all of Scripture goes. Our knowledge of the gospel will keep going and growing.  The application of Scripture, which points to the coming of Christ, speaks to our everyday struggles of life and pleasures.

Let me give you an example.  You may doubt God's love for you.  Oh, not in your head but by the way you live.  The Gospel and Scripture answers this.  We are children of God with whom the Father is forever pleased because of the finished work of Christ on the cross for our sins.  The Father's anger that we deserve was taken out on Jesus.  This, so the Father could bring us near in intimate, personal relationship as His children.  He is not angry with us.  We have His favor forever.

If you are caught in legalism.  In trying to earn God's favor you can know because of the death and resurrection of Christ you are totally approved by God.  You can know He is forever pleased with you. You cannot earn salvation and you cannot loose it.  It is freely given by Grace.  It cost Jesus His life to purchase you.  Nothing can separate you from the Love of God.  When the Father looks at us He sees the righteousness of Jesus.  Jesus said upon the cross, "It is Finished."

Another example is, Who are we?  What is our identity? We are not orphans but now sons and daughters of the King.  We have been adopted into the family of God because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. The Father wanted a family and He chose us to be His. We are forgiven, righteous, loved, accepted, justified.  We are given purpose and given His Spirit.  We are one with God.  Christ is in us and we are in Him.

The more I understand what Jesus did on the cross...the more I understand Scripture...the more I understand God's love me for in sending His Son...the more I see this in light of life...the deeper and wider my understanding of Jesus grows.  Don't be overwhelmed by this.  Start small.  Begin with these two truths in light of the gospel: Jesus died for my sins. Jesus gave me eternal life.  Repent of your sins as the Spirit gently convicts you.  Believe and trust in Christ who is the Giver of Life.  Go and love your neighbor.  Love God and rejoice and dance and sing for your King has come.  So we can know happiness in our sadness.  Peace in the midst of turmoil.  The calm in the center of the storm.  We can know Him in the midst of suffering.  It is Him.  The Gospel is Jesus.  Jesus is the Word of God.  So may we better learn who He is, and look to His Word to guide us into the truth of the Gospel not just for salvation, to begin the Christian life, but to live it everyday.

So if you do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior.  If you have not trusted Jesus for your sins, for eternal life.  I pray you do that right now through this gospel message. "For God so loved the world He sent His one and only Son to die for your sins."  Confess and turn from your sins and follow Him.  Be broken over them and ask God to forgive you and give you His Spirit.  You can be forgiven and righteous in Him and have eternal life by trusting Him as Lord and Savior of your life.  Now go tell someone what you have done. Tell a pastor.

Get into God's Word and into His body--the Church. Spend time with Him.  Enjoy Him and others.   He wants to be your Father and your best friend.  Your power, strength, and wisdom.  Now live this gospel message everyday.

If you find you have turned away,come back to the heart of Jesus.  He welcomes you with open arms. You may have left Him but He never left you if you are truly His. Make sure now.  If you have lost hope, return home and let Him renew your strength and love you.  If you are walking with Christ remember the Gospel everyday. Grow in your faith and knowledge of His love and grace for you.

To all, may you go in peace and preach the gospel to yourselves and to others.  I pray for you now.  I pray that my message, Gods message of the Gospel,  has been clear.  If not pray and read again.  Feel free to contact me here or on the Facebook Desperate Delight page.