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Archive for the ‘faith’ Category

Of Living…

One if the bravest acts is to live. To choose to exist beyond merely breathing can be terrifying to even consider.

If one thinks long enough, they see that choice means to willingly go into other worlds, entering into another brave soul’s existence knowing that there will be pain one day. Maybe it will be a tearing away by words or death, but one thing is certain that the heart will be wounded. Loving creates these beautiful connections on earth, that hurt when one is pulled so far away.

Depression is one of the Dark Ones. It creeps in ever so slowly, sometimes holding hands with it’s other family members, Anxiety and Fear. Whispering so quietly that it matches the sound of thought, saying that no one cares and that the pain will be too great to bear. Distracted by holding the weight of it, Fear is able to tie the heart off until it’s numb so we cannot fight the walls Depression and Anxiety build. All that’s left is a lie: that we are alone and others are not worth the
risk of hurting again. Empty and merely a breath, time passes by until the end.

One day, a new voice faintly rises above the sounds. This one different, like a splash of color, like light in a dark world. One that has been there all along, whispering Love.

Love cuts the thread around the heart and each heartbeat cracks the wall more. Love creates these vessels that connect to other’s hearts, preventing the Dark Ones from rebuilding. Those connections bring life and joy, while strengthening the heart to stand against the pain that will come one day.

All of this from one courageous moment when the choice is made
to step out and be fully alive and to believe the truth that you are more than a breath.

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If there is one thing I love to do, its read. And when I find an author I like, I read everything I can get my hands on that they write (well, as long as I can find it at the library!). I decided to dive into a few books by Donald Miller after hearing friends and other online mentioning the movie “Blue Like Jazz”.  I don’t have a lot of time to devote to researching books and movies before I watch them anymore, but after reading a brief mention in the book “Lord, Save Us From Your Followers” I thought it was worth a try. I started out (unintentionally) reading “Through Painted Deserts”.  I quickly read that and in less than 4 days I read “Blue Like Jazz” and then “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years”.  I didn’t realize at the time I started, that I had read the books in sort of a chronological order (which I thought was pretty cool). I totally loved the writing style and content and will be adding them to my personal library soon.

I could probably go on for quite a while about things in these books that spoke to me. Honestly, I am still processing it, and will likely need to reread to absorb more. It has triggered me to think and dig deeper in my relationship with God (I felt very similar after reading Shane Claiborne’s books). A lot of Miller’s pondering and questioning aligns with the way I used to think way back before real life stole my focus. This thinking thing is a slow thing for me (please no blonde jokes, haha!) because it has been dormant for the most part.  I used to spend hours trying to figure this world out and this whole God thing. It used to be so easy. Now I have all the dust and cobwebs of my history that I have to brush out of the way, and pray that God will awaken desire to keep searching Him in such a way.

Yesterday I was thinking about what all I had read in Miller’s books. The last one I had read had affected me much more than I had anticipated. In “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” He talks about how our lives are a story, God is the writer, but we still can help determine what kind of ending we have. That is just putting it briefly, and he explains it so much better than I ever could. I started wondering what kind of story I was writing. I never really thought of myself as that interesting, but I had to really look at what my life was saying. Things were fairly uneventful until I was a teen. Teen years brought about a bit of mischief and hormonal brooding. Then my adult life seemed to be burdened with bad choices, abuse, loss, failed relationships, depression and the like. Geez, so far it was looking like this story was pretty depressing. I hate depressing books or movies :-\ Looking at my current situation there is a lot of working, going to church/serving at church, sleeping and eating…and just existing. I don’t socialize too much aside from church and work and I am pretty much broke most of the time anyway….so now my story is boring. I am not thinking a boring story is any better than a depressing one.

Anyone who really knows me, knows that I talk about being healed from depression and anxiety attacks.(I won’t go into that testimony right now as those details aren’t very relevant to what God showed me). Anyway, just over 2 years ago, I was a real mess. I was imprisoned by my depression and fear of everything, and I felt that I was in an impossible situation. I could sit for hours watching tv, playing on the internet, and sleeping. My marriage had fallen apart, and I was left sitting in a cell with little hope of ever getting out. I just wanted to sleep until this nightmare was over, because it hurt too bad to change. In my mind, just barely existing was safer than living any kind of life. I didn’t think I was even worth it anyway. Then through a series of events and choices, God let me out of that prison about a year ago. I have been kind of dazed, as I had lived with depression and anxiety most of my life. I have had to learn to feel emotions on a normal level (as opposed to medicated or filtered through the depression). I have had to adjust my eyes to the brightness of life and people in the outside world. Even with all the challenges, it feels good to be free. I know I don’t want to go back, God doesn’t want me to go back.

Lately I keep finding myself pacing around outside that cell. I let my hands trace the outline of the bars. I lean my face on the concrete wall, and smell the dampness. Just beyond the steel door, a cold slab of a bed and flickering light. I close my eyes and inhale the familiarity of it all.  I KNOW I don’t want to be in there. I KNOW it is better out here. I KNOW that God wants me to stay away. But there is always that faint whisper of the comfort of not changing. I have to get away from that. I can’t stick around and toy with the idea of locking myself up like that ever again. But then I turn and it seems like there are so many things that are in the way and I can barely see my life beyond them. I want so much more, yet because I was shut away for so long I have no idea what to do. All I know is that I want a story with a beautiful ending, not some tragedy.

After reading those books, I got to wondering…what would it look like to dream a little. God forbid I make some sort of list and call it a bucket list (as that seems pretty cliché now lol). It is so much more than that. I try to remember about the things I used to want to do as a kid, and then it hit me…our family needs to dream so we can create moments in our story. Last night, I announced (a little misty eyed) that we are going to start listing some of the stuff we each want to do, accomplish or learn. We are going to have adventures no matter how small, but more importantly we are going to live life.  Then we are going to put our dreams in a binder, notebook or folder and have a family dream book. Some of these things we may get too quickly, and some we may have to work toward. Some we might not get to do for years. Some we can do alone, some we can do together, and yet others we can include our extended family and friends.

From my older 2 kids’ reaction, they didn’t know what to think…and I also saw what my depression had done to them…they seemed reluctant to dream because I had been too afraid to let them do anything. I had been their dream crusher. That lies as a heaviness on my heart. Honestly, I have this little fear of not following through and further damaging their abilities to dream. Now I have to be stronger so that will not happen…I am so glad God will help me.

So there are going to be some challenges. As a single mom, there are going to be plenty of things that may be difficult to do because of money, time, etc. I think we will start small and find things to explore and do in our state of Oklahoma. I will have to get a “dream jar” so we can save for some bigger dreams. I will probably have to get some books from the library to help us all figure out what we want to do. Right now I am a little overwhelmed at the vastness of possibility in this, but in the end we will all have better stories by living our dreams.

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False Pride

Gifts, abilities and talents are not something I consider often. When I do, it’s usually in what I am lacking, rather  than what I am blessed with. A conversation I had on Friday with my counselor caused me to look deeper on the matter, realizing that I may have been wrong in my attitude.

I was excitedly filling in my counselor on my recent achievements in my algebra class, and he praised God right along with me for my success. I also discussed my disdain for my English class. I went on to explain how I hated nonspecific assignments and the rigidity of having to do it a certain way. “I mean…well…” I thought out loud, “I don’t want to seem like I am bragging or boastful, but I have a gift for writing. And now that I think about it, algebra.” He then promptly asked if it was such a bad thing to have those gifts. Then he brought up false pride, and I wondered what exactly was false pride. I wondered so much I had not caught all he had said. I got the impression that I shouldn’t apologize or try to explain myself when I state I have an ability to do something well.

Too often in Christian circles, we don’t want to look prideful or like a braggart, so we preface each time with things like “I don’t want to sound like I am bragging…” , “I am sorry if this sounds wrong….” etc. After some thought and prayer, I wonder if I should be more confident in my gifts. God created me this way! The Creator of the universe blessed me with these things to use for His glory and for the benefit of others! I could be doing something that may be considered worse than bragging or boasting, I could be rejecting His gifts. I am acting as if I am ashamed of what God has done.

I have no real answers, but I hope that this will at least get you to think about it and look at it at a deeper level. Here are some Bible verses and quotes that spoke to me on the subject:

 

Proverbs 18:16  A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before the great.

Proverbs25:14  Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of a gift he does not give

James 1:17  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

1Peter  4:10-11a  As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:  whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies–in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.

 

1Timothy  4:4  For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,

 

Romans  11:29  For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

 

Rom 12:6-8 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

 

1Corithians 7:7  I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.

 

1Co 12:4-11 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

 

There is a false self-distrust which denies the worth of its own talent. It is not humility – it is petty pride, withholding its simple gifts from the hands of Christ because they are not more pretentious. There are men who would endow colleges, they say, if they were millionaires. They would help in the work of Bible study if they were as gifted as Henry Drummond. They would strive to lead their associates into the Christian life if they had the gifts of Dwight L. Moody. But they are not ready to give what they have and do what they can and be as it has pleased God to make them, in His service – and that is their condemnation.
Charles Reynolds Brown

 
In the upshot there is only one answer for the preacher who wonders whether he is worthy to preach the sermon he has composed or for the writer who wonders whether he is worthy to write the religious book he is working on. The answer is: Of course not. To ask yourself: Am I worthy to perform this Christian task? is really the peak of pride and presumption. For the very question carries the implication that we spend most of our time doing things we are worthy to do. We simply do not have that kind of worth.
Harry Blamires

 

Refusing to accept God’s love because we’re unworthy – of course we’re unworthy! – is another golden calf.
Madeleine L’Engle

 

Finally, there is false humility, thinking of one’s self less than they ought. If Joe were an insecure person, or too proud to endure any mocking from his peers, his pride could actually lead him to assume a position of ‘false humility’. Under this condition Joe would accept and even come to believe he was not a very good mechanic. He may silently consider his talents as being worth more, but in his actions and conversation would insist on taking the position that any of the other mechanics were truly better mechanics than himself. This is not only unhealthy as a self-esteem issue but can lead to inner resentment for accepting a station that is below his true capabilities. from : http://www.singlescafe.net/pride.html

 

There is a pretended boldness for Christ that arises from no better principle than pride. A man may be forward to expose himself to the dislike of the world, and even to provoke their displeasure, out of pride. For ’tis the nature of spiritual pride to cause men to seek distinction and singularity; and so oftentimes to set themselves at war with those that they call carnal, that they may be more highly exalted among their party. True boldness for Christ is universal and overcomes all, and carries ‘em above the displeasure of friends and foes; so that they will forsake all rather than Christ and will rather offend all parties, and be thought meanly of by all, than offend Christ. And that duty tries whether a man is willing to be despised by them that are of his own party, and thought the least worthy to be regarded by them, is a much more proper trial of his boldness for Christ, than his being forward to expose himself to the reproach of opposers. (Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections, 352)

 

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October 2, 2010

Wow, its been a little while since I have posted! I wish I could say things are better…in some areas they are, others are in progress, and even others are definitely not. I really wish other people were in a place to share about their struggles with depression…as it might help me feel more hopeful. I wish I could share so much more about what  I am going through, but it is one of those things where it wouldn’t be beneficial for anyone involved for it to be totally public. There are a few who know some, and are praying for us, and I can say that its those prayers that help carry me through when I can’t carry myself. As hard as every thing is, I still believe God is good, and will get me through! I apologize to those who think I am being too negative in some of my facebook posts, but I firmly believe in not pretending everything is ok, when its not. I try to express how I am feeling, or when I need prayer, with out splashing out details in all my posts.

Within the past month, God has arranged through some pretty cool circumstances and people, for me to switch counselors. The lady I was going through was definitely not working, and I would never recommend any one to go to her. The counselor I see now, is definitely a gift from God, and a Godly man, and is guiding me and praying for me through this process. I am immensely thankful for that! I feel like I am finally working toward healing….though I realize that sometimes things have to get more painful, before the healing can occur.

I feel broken beyond what I can describe, and greatly weary from the past few months…but God is piecing me together making and my life will be beautiful… (I still wish I could find the movie clip from the movie “Joshua” that was made back in 2002 that I am referring too lol) My ultimate prayer is that God will heal EVERYTHING that is going on right now…and give me the focus to see it in my heart, even if I don’t see it with my eyes.

Recently we have switched churches. I might have mentioned that in a previous post. I am enjoying the new church a lot, its just taking some time to plug in, with all the stuff going on here and decisions on where to plug in exactly.  I miss my friends at the old church, and hopefully I can clear my head long enough to keep in contact with them. [Note to them: I love you guys, and think and pray for you all often! I can feel your prayers for us!]

Anyway, I hope that if you are reading this and you are struggling with depression is that you will see hope… I have a note for you as well: Do not wait to get help…do not think you have to do it by yourself! If you wait, you do more harm to yourself, your family and your relationships. My struggle would be far easier had I only gotten help years and years ago…my family would not be hurting like they are because of the baggage I carried. Its a scary journey, I cannot lie, its tough. But I know in the end, it will all be worth it! Even if you think no one is there, there is always someone there, sometimes depression wants us to think we are alone and can’t do it, but we can! Depression covers things….I am a pretty positive person…but the depression clouds that to where all I see is negative. I have to remind myself daily, minute by minute, that things are not as bad as it seems at the moment.

Anyway, there is my little update…I don’t have much else to say right now lol 🙂

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Busy week!

When is it not busy? LOL! Saturday alone will be stretching me a bit : VBS meeting, then Mother Daughter Luncheon, then a good friend’s wedding reception!  Should be a day full of fun…and just maybe I will find some time to rest 🙂

My son really enjoyed his birthday surprise, a concert 🙂 We ran into some teens from church, and we sat near them…they even let him sit with them (so he didn’t have to sit by Mom and Dad…lol). I know it meant a lot to him to be included by the guys. I let him pick out a t-shirt, and he chose one from The David Crowder Band 🙂 I may be starting to get old, but I was quite relieved when he said that DCB was his fave…I was concerned for a second that he would take a liking to Family Force 5 (great music, just a little on the loud side!)

The retreat this past weekend was awesome! I really enjoyed the main sessions, and workshops. Three of the workshops I attended were ones on marriage, and I cannot tell you how blessed I was (and am) by them. I even bought the cds so I could re-listen to the message. A lot of the info was on communication, which I assumed I knew a lot about…but God really spoke to my heart especially with the issues I have 🙂 Anyway, I highly recommend the Women’s Retreat at Ozark Christian College. Next year’s retreat will be April 15 &16, 2011. Typically there is no cost for the retreat, just for the banquet on Friday night and costs for food and lodging. We actually left home on Thursday and had some free time that day…it also saved us from having to get up at the crack of dawn to make it to Joplin in time for the start of the retreat! lol

Something else that has been on my mind, is choosing how we treat others. Its so easy to get caught up in our little group of friends, that we fail to see when someone is lonely or feeling left out.  I would love to say that we all outgrow things like cliques, but sometimes they happen without us really realizing it. Anyway, sometimes we make assumptions about someone, or we don’t feel comfortable around them….or maybe it takes a little time to get used to them 🙂  One of the things I want to start doing, is reaching out to those people, and at least saying “hi”…that’s a huge thing for me! I struggle with shyness and would rather sit back and just watch people…but I have struggled with fitting in and loneliness. I know that there is only One who can fill that loneliness. I still struggle with those things, but with God, there is hope, and He carries my burdens. I think it is only recently (past couple of years) that I started to see that God is enough in everything. Even if I have no one else, I have Him.  Now I don’t always feel that way, but I KNOW it, if that makes any sense… When I let go, He provided new friendships, and opened my eyes to the ones that were right in front of my face! 🙂

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U.K. Church Leader: ‘Wives, Submit to Your Husbands’  FOXNews.com.

I found this to be an interesting article. I fully support clergy in stating what the Bible DOES say about submission.

I have to wonder if maybe there was more to the sermon (like the verses around that one) that was addressed, and the people against them are just nit-picking the sermon.

But since I did not hear the sermon, I cannot say for sure what these angry women heard. It seems to me that the people that get all riled up at what the Bible states, are the people with the biggest issue with that in their lives.

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Confessions of a former feminist (OneNewsNow.com).

This sounds like and interesting book, and hopefully I will get to read it someday!

I thought some of my modesty and femininity readers might be interested in the article 🙂

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