Tag Archives: depression

You don’t dictate my checklist

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But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lordlooks on the heart.”1 Samuel 16:7 ESV

We tend to look up to people or be impressed or intimidated by them. It is this very quality that tricks us into putting people on a pedestal and then getting hurt when they fall off, usually on top of us. It’s painful when someone you believe in let’s you down. Finding out someone you trusted isn’t who you thought they were is crushing. 
Meanwhile we strive to be all those things that will make others respect and love us. We make checklists that we follow religiously based on our personalities and the principles in the Bible that we have taken ownership of. We set others up to fall and we set up ourselves to be “found out” when we too fall from the pedestals others have created for us.  
This circle is a dangerous one. It is fueled by our need to identify others and with others. When we hear of a sister or brother in Christ who has “fallen” all too often our first response is “well I thought they were a Christian.” Or we feel that the church has failed to protect us because we have been tricked into believing that someone who is “in church” wouldn’t do that.  

I have heard this verse in 1 Samuel 16:7 used so many times for the “Man looks on outward appearance, God looks on the heart” part. It has been used to separate ourselves from the “fallen ones”.  It has been used as a warning to those who have screwed up. We often forget the first part of the verse. “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature…” 
Why are we teaching that we are all supposed to straighten up and fly right? Why are we applauding the appearance of men? Why are we teaching checklists that are not biblical? God doesn’t care if we are in church every time the doors are open, God doesn’t care if we have spent two hours every morning reading the Bible and praying, God doesn’t care if we have a six pack in our fridge. God doesn’t care if our music is Christian or non Christian. God doesn’t care if you are all packaged up nice with a smile on your face. He doesn’t care what you wear to church any differently than he does in every day life. Looking good to others does not make us somehow more approved by God. There are no “good christians” and bad “christians” there are only people. People who were bought with a price that are supremely loved and forgiven whose insides are torn and their minds struggling to live up to impossible or worse, possible standards, put on them by other people who are just as loved, forgiven, and torn.  
God sent his son to die to bring us freedom and life. God sent his spirit to live in us and help us live in a very fallen world. The evidence that he lives within us is not on our checklists and cannot be duplicated without him. It will play out in a hugely diverse body of Christ using their gifts and talents, insecurities, failures, and personal checklists shown to them by the spirit of God in their OWN life, to exhibit the glory of God in impossible unity, love, faith, hope, charity, long suffering, gentleness, patience, joy, goodness, meekness and temperance.  

When we do that, what we do changes drastically. We listen to each other and know that all of us mess up. That each one of us struggle with the things that do not please God. The only one on a pedestal is Christ, and we can be there for one another in good times and bad. When we do that, some of us will have the same tastes in music others won’t. Some of us will be in church every time the doors are open and some of us won’t. We will have different contents in our refrigerators and different tastes in clothes. Our personal checklists will bring glory to God. We will fight less and fall less and when one is struggling we will bond together in understanding and love. We will have unity when all circumstances tell us we need to fight each other. We will exhibit the real biblical checklist of the fruit of the holy spirt. We will cling to him and each other. This is what God wants.  

The people of Israel made the same mistake when choosing their first king. They looked at how impressive Saul was. They praised him for the things he exhibited that looked right. A long hard and painful road followed. King David did not look the part but his desire to do what was right brought peace to the land. When he fell he got back up. God lifted him back up. The man who slept with Bathsheba and murdered her husband was called a man after God’s own heart. His status with God did not change when he fell. When God looks at us he sees the blood of his son. We are justified by his grace. We can never do anything that makes him look at us in anger again. We don’t have to beg our way into his good graces EVER again. Our sin grieves us because God loves us enough to reveal it to us and help us get rid of it, not because it means that God is mad at us. We can’t clean up our hearts he sees and loves us no matter how we feel. We can’t not walk with him because he won’t leave us.  
Let’s stop defining christians by our own checklists and realize that God has that in his hands.  Lets stop making others live by our own checklists. Let’s love people and be there for them. Let’s stop applauding what looks good. Let’s allow people to be real with us and let’s be real with others. We don’t have to control each other. Our lives should not be run by guilt and obligation. We do not serve them. We serve a God who holds us in his hands and can use all our flaws and strengths to lift others up and make beauty from ashes. 

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This is the Day

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I have been drawn to this passage the past week. These verses stuck out to me today.

Eccl. 7:13 Consider the work of God: who can make straight what he has made crooked? 14 ¶ In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him. 

There are times in our lives where we want God to restore something we had. We even want it sometimes so that it will bring God glory. I often want God to straighten out messes for me. Until today I never thought that sometimes God is the one who has made it crooked? Just because it isn’t straight doesn’t mean it isn’t God. 
The point is to be obedient and to allow God to direct our lives. He has made the good ones as well as the “bad”. 

Lamentations 3:22-23English Standard Version (ESV)

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;[a]his mercies never come to an end;23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

The “new mercies every morning” in this verse means that not only is God available to us every day, but he tailors the mercies and strength we need for each day’s specific needs!! Puts Ecc 7:14 into perspective doesn’t it?

This is the Day that the Lord has made we will rejoice and be glad in it!!!

A poem I wrote about depression: for my husband 

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 Please don’t let go of me today

I’m afraid if you do I will float away.   

You’re reaching out, when I can’t see

Holding me up to the one who can carry me.

I hear your words, soaking in the sound of your voice 

But I can’t speak, so you don’t know my choice

Don’t give up, keep holding on

If you don’t I can’t go on.

I know you take a lot of abuse

My desire is not for you to feel used.

My response, to you might feel fake

But please know I’m fighting for loves sake

I need your love, your prayer, your help

Because right now all I can see is myself

All this time you’ve been right here

Through all my doubt, through all my fear

My faith is growing, you gave me the seed. 

So I am taking a step, I’m taking your lead

I want to honor all we’ve been through

Step by step I will walk with you.

I told you so

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Vindication: we all want it.  It says that we were right all along and it feeds our pride.  It is a huge temptation to revel in it. It is a huge temptation to use it against others. It is a huge temptation to take credit for it.

There are some serious issues facing my family right now. Ha!! That is an understatement! Also, there are huge issues facing all the families I know right now! Oppression is everywhere. Spiritual oppression blankets everyone and everything why? 

Because: “Ephesians 6:12 we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers against the rulers of darkness of this world against spiritual wickedness in high places.”   

We live in a fallen world . 

Sometimes loyalty doesn’t mean following those who we are loyal to.  Sometimes it means standing firm. Like “Ephesians 6:13 wherefore take on the WHOLE armour of God, that you may able to stand in evil day and having done all, to stand.

How do these concepts relate to each other? Loyalty and vindication? I will show you what God is showing me.  

2 Corinthians 10:5 says “casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalted itself against the knowledge of God and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

I never realized it before, but this verse deals with imaginations and feelings vs facts.  I always just paid attention to the end (taking our thoughts into captivity.)  The devil is the accuser of the brethren. One of his most effective tactics is to put thoughts in our head that we believe as fact with out evidence to support it.  These are the things that we hold on to because they seemingly cannot be proven yet we feel like we need to take a position on them. More often than not,the position we take is used to justify our choices–and to us they become truth.  These are the things we want to hold on to because the consequences of the decisions we make (based on them)depend on it.  Then the desire and intense need for vindication comes.  We become loyal to ourselves,and that loyalty is disguised as loyalty to others or used to justifiy our reasons for choosing sides against them.

We must cast down such imaginations. They hinder the knowledge of God.  The facts upon which our faith is built. The building blocks that hold up the foundations of our families, friendships, and churches.  We must seek God and refuse to act on anything but the facts, and knowledge of Him that only He can give.  It is through this that we can clearly align our loyalty. Loyalty that isn’t shaken by sin.

It makes me think of David.  He was chased down by Saul his own father in law. Betrayed by his family.  Hunted, persecuted, hurt.  All because of a hatred fueled by evil spirits and the imaginations of Saul.  Yet when David had the chance to kill him–more than once–he didn’t.  David knew the truth. He didn’t have to stand and fight Saul.  He didn’t have to worry about what Saul thought said or did about him.  He stood firm with out fighting, he ran when he had to.  And when Saul was dead, David mourned.  He did not seek vindication and boy he could have! He mourned the loss of human life. A life that had caused him pain, the loss that sin and disobedience brought.  The vindication was the Lord’s. David could have said “See I told you I was right! I am king!” He could have capitalized on Sauls wickedness and used it to decide to kill him when he had the chance. By the way: in those moments it looked very much like God was leading him to kill Saul, but he didn’t.  He had a clear view of God and he did not turn away from what was right!! He was loyal to Saul, and yet he wasn’t following him. He also kept a close relationship with Jonathon even though he was Saul’s son.  Do you think Satan didn’t try to poison that relationship? I can just hear it now. “Hey David, I bet Jonathan isn’t really your friend. He just wants to get close to you so he can help his father” Vengeance belongs to God and so does vindication!! Loyalty is based on truth.  Truth is only revealed to us by God, through his word and through first hand knowledge based on comminication in love and truth.  

For a second, picture your self in the full amour of God ready to stand or fight on command. God, our loving father,knower of all things, past and present,beside you. Are you really going to fear what men can do to you or say to or about you? NOPE. Do you need to lie or believe lies in that situation? NOPE.  Reminds me of a line in my favorite movie: “We are men of action, lies do not become us!”Listen for truth!!! Our response to a vindication in our life reveals our loyalty.  What we do with it matters. Sometimes it comes after we have, in love,given another brother or sister in Christ an unheeded warning about danger or sin. And the vindication is the result of their sins finding them out.  Sometimes it is just finding out your were right. Sometimes it is about the whole world finding out that what was said about us wasn’t true after all. Sometimes it is after a long battle, our children come to us and say “I wish I would have listened to you, Mom.”And we have to help them With the hurt of the seeds they sowed. 

What do you do with that?You are David,standing over Sauls sleeping body fully able to walk away.  You are David being crowned King and Saul is dead. You can trust when you see the God who sees you like Hagar did in The wilderness enabling her to go back to the horrid situation of Abraham and Sarah’s house.  You can choose to stand in truth without fear and without action.  You can act, knowing you are doing what is right with out fear of the backlash that IS coming!! You can do all things through Christ who will strengthen you!  You can cast down imaginations, and choose to think on things that are pure, holy, lovely and of good report!!! You can!! I can! We can be loyal even if it means we don’t follow.  We can give our vindications to God not take credit for or use them against others and ultimately ourselves.  We can have grace under fire knowing that the truth will be revealed and God is King. We can wear our armour with confidence and stand unshaken.  

If this does not apply to you today, save it, it will some day.  Right now it definitely applies to me as I navigate a world of hurt surrounding me and my own casting down of imaginations, and asking God to give me the wisdom to deal with what IS–instead of what I want it to be.  What IS–instead of what I fear it is. And remember, if you pull this out later on to use it,remember it was me.  I TOLD YOU SO!! Hehe j/k 

Be still…yeah right

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As a mom, more specifically a homeschooling mom, I am with my children twenty-four hours a day. I love my children and love being with them. However, every once in a while my brain begins screaming the need to be alone. When I am with my kids, every moment is subject to interruption. Their needs, desires, and safety are on my mind constantly even on the “off” times when they are not asking me for something. So, when the opportunity arises to have some “me” time I immediately jump at the chance for the house to be quiet and to do whatever I want, when I want.

The first thing I plan on is sleeping in, having my coffee in peace, complete control of the remote, and cleaning with the music blaring with no threat of having to pause or censor it. Then maybe a date night with my amazing husband. Inevitably, the emptiness in the house gets to me and I begin to unwind and relax. The next thing that happens really throws me for a loop. I begin to think about all the things that I am not doing that I should be doing, then all my shortcomings, the fear of rejection from my husband and my children for being unable to be all that I want to be as a wife and mother. The vicious cycle continues as I try desperately to pull myself together and act against my feelings of insecurity. I struggle to remember what is true and build on it.
This morning, as I began to drown in my “me” time I felt the Holy Spirit say to me: “Be still”. My reply, “Yeah right. God I am supposed to be all these Proverbs 31y things. You called me to be a good wife and mother, you commanded me to walk in truth. I can’t do that so I have failed you too! I mean, really, I am pretty sure my panic is valid.” Again he said “Be still”
Frantically I went to my bible program and searched the words “Be still”. I found Psalm 46. The entire thing is a song, describing the victory God gives his people over various trials and enemies and near the end this small verse: Psalm 46:10 be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted in the Nations. I will be exalted in the earth.

Wow. What just happened? I took my eyes off my God and put them on myself. “Me time” shouldn’t revolve around me. It should revolve around my relationship with God. No matter when I look at me I will see things that scare me. What could be happening that I don’t know about? What if my husband doesn’t love me anymore and is just pretending? (I know how many times I don’t have everything perfect, so to me anyone not wanting to be with me is reasonable). What if I am screwing up my kids life by homeschooling them, or just by not being the worlds best mother? But when I look at God, non of those things matter. I can be still because he is God. He can give me the motivation I need to do better. He can take care of me if any of my feared scenarios come to fruition. But most of all he will teach me to walk in truth because he is God. He will take me through whatever he has planned for me and will take care of it all! Looking at him doesn’t change who I am, but it sure changes the way I feel about who I am!
If you ever feel the need to escape for a bit of “me” time, remember this. Maybe it will help you avoid the deep waters that can overwhelm you when the quiet brings fear instead of fun.

When God says no

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I have been meditating on John chapter 11 for the past couple of days. I want to share some thoughts I have with you. First let’s read some of the chapter.

John 11 New International Version (NIV)

The Death of Lazarus
11 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
Jesus Comforts the Sisters of Lazarus
17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles[b] from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” 28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.
32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.”Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.”But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

An interesting thing to me is what Martha said to Jesus. She believed who he was, she believed he could have prevented her brother’s death and that he could raise him if he wanted. But here is the thing: she didn’t believe he would. When Jesus said her brother would rise again, she thought he meant at the last day, during the rapture.
How many times do we do this in our walk with God? We know he can do anything, we believe he can, but we put him in an earthly box and base our belief of what he will do on what we can see is possible. Why? The deciples, who lived with him thought the same way. I believe part of Jesus’ sorrow that day included sadness for the ones he loved not having faith in him, for their human limitations. He wanted them to see his power and the love and caring of his father. Every explanation he gave for his actions or lack thereof in this chapter had to do with wanting them to believe.

Have you ever been sad because you could see something that would help someone else, if they could only see it? Have you ever had your heart broken for your child who is devastated by something that you know will bring good things later if they could only understand? Have you ever struggled with being mad at God for saying no? Martha was, but she surrendered to him and look what happened.

John and I want a baby. I have had my tubes tied and I know God could still allow me to get pregnant if that is what he wants, but we have been pursuing other options. I don’t want to put God in a box. I don’t want to doubt what he will do in our lives based on what I deem possible. I want to continue to hope and have faith that God will use whatever means he sees fit for us and that he will give us the desires of our hearts. My challenge for you is to do the same. Is there something impossible that you long to see God do for you? A financial burden? A relationship mended? A new member of your family? Victory over sin in your life? Whatever it is ask Him, have faith in what he can do and trust in what he will do!
Isaiah 64:4 says: Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived,no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.
Happy New year!

For those times after much change….

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Almost a year ago my son went through a period of depression. For almost two months I was in his room every night, sometimes for hours, encouraging him, counseling him, praying with him and for him. We cried, we even laughed a little. The days were filled with erratic behavior. There were highs then lows. John and I prayed together and shared the burden with our parents and some close friends who were all on their knees for us all. I would describe it has the most difficult time of my mommy career, and yet, looking back, I can see it was a sweet time also. It presented me with an opportunity to share with my son my history with depression as well as my family’s. He listened and I could see first hand him putting into practice what I taught him.
During that time, I was spending a lot of time by his side, and John wondered why it was me he called for every night. It broke my heart, and I encouraged him to talk to his daddy too. I am so thankful that my husband loves our kids and is a man of wisdom and integrity. He has much to give! One night he asked for John, I didn’t find out till later what he said.

He finally did come through that time of struggle, and praise the Lord I have seen him stay on a more even keel ever since. I see him begin to struggle, then without going to extremes he returns to “normal”. The things God has taught us about our depression have really helped and have changed our lives drastically.

Times of rapid change have a tendency to bring depression into our world. The last few months have brought many twists and turns and our life today looks very different that it did a year ago. One of those changes was a recent opportunity to take in two children. My kids were so excited! We were all excited! We had a home study and got the house ready and waited only to hear that they were not coming . We were devastated. I came out after sobbing on the phone to John, knowing I needed to tell the kids. I told them. Johnny just went to his room, got his bible, and started writing. He showed me later. It was the entire chapter of Matthew 6. About how worrying will not help and how we can trust God for what we need. He had given a very long devotional to us around the fire about that passage just a week before. I had seen him struggling a little and I wasn’t sure how this would affect him, but he was fine. He was strong. He was relying on the Lord. I was amazed at this. I am so Thankful to God that Johnny is learning now, as a child, how to handle his depression and triggers. It means that when he grows up, depression will not have the stronghold in his life as it has mine!

Here is the absolutely mind blowing part. Matthew 6:25-57was the verse John shared with him that night during his depression. Matthew 6:25-27 Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? It was that passage that has become his life’s verses. That passage that God has used to be the foundation of his ability to work through those hard times. Each lesson learned is like another brick built on top to construct a staircase of escape from depression!

Yesterday John preached at our church from Matthew 6. He was able to share the story of how Johnny broke his arm last week and in the ER he had reminded Him of that verse and how Johnny had just shared it with us around the fire the night before. It was a major bonding moment for father and son, and a tremendous testimony of God’s grace!

Through all the changes in the past year, (this was just one example)our roles have evolved. The growing pains have been intense. John preaching yesterday and my opportunity to be a music leader in our church, combined with recent opportunities to build relationships like never before, has been amazing! When I married John 12 years ago I never would have even guessed that God would be allowing us to serve together in this way. Working together as husband and wife, parents, and leaders in our church;These are the times that I stand and look at all God has brought us through and where we are now and I can say as David did: for the sake of your word and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made it known to your servant.

Thank you God for all you have done! It is worth the pain, the change, the struggle, and everything! Thank you for letting me see your marvelous works in me, my husband, and my children!