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“The Devil Made Me Do It” The Shame of Mental Illness

Flip Wilson coined the phrase, “the devil made me do it”.  With mental illness this isn’t far from the truth.  The only way to explain this is for you to envision a time when you started out doing something normal and easy.  Quickly it becomes harder, yet you must continue. You feel the exhaustion setting in.  Anxiety starts to overwhelm you.  You are trapped.  You become so frustrated that you loose control of your emotions, of your reasoning and logic.  You’ll do anything to escape but you can’t.  You are powerless to control it.  You do the very things you don’t want to do to ease the discomfort.  Then BAM it ends, leaving you and others to clean up the mess.  The guilt and shame start to creep in.  Soon you are thrown into a deep dark pit of despair.

Isn’t this what Paul was talking about in Romans 7:15-20?

“I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  And if I do what I do not what to do, I agree that the law is good.  As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”

Here is a great man whom God chose to teach others about Jesus, and he struggled with this problem over and over.  I’m not saying he was mentally ill.  Being mentally ill just compounds this dilemma.  How was he able to continue knowing that this struggle would continue? That he would be faced with shame and unwanted circumstances?

In an article written by Pastor Pat Buckley (christianhelpfordepression.org),  he says:

 “Shame is the inner experience of being “not wanted.” It is feeling worthless, rejected, cast-out. Shame is believing that one is bad. Shame is believing that one is not loved because one is not lovable. Shame always carries with it the sense that there is nothing one can do to purge its burdensome and toxic presence. (Believing that) shame cannot be remedied, it must be somehow endured, absorbed, gilded, minimized or denied. Shame is so painful, so debilitating that persons develop a thousand coping strategies, conscious and unconscious, numbing and destructive, to avoid its tortures. Shame is about embarrassment, humiliation, feeling of low value and above all, powerless to get rid of the shame.”

In another great article by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. (psychcentral.com), therapist Lea Seigen Shinraku, MFT states:

 “Mental illness affects everything from your thoughts to your behavior to your relationships. It may sap your energy, mood and sleep.  It may distort your beliefs about yourself and sink your self-esteem. It may feel like your days are regularly filled with a series of obstacles. Navigating life with a mental illness is tough enough. But many people also feel an overwhelming sense of shame.”

 “People feel shame about not being what they perceive as “normal.” They may feel like they’re “broken” or “damaged” or “they’ll always be this way,” They judge themselves. They compare their internal lives to others’ external lives, which they view as successful.”

 “Shame relentlessly repeats a very convincing story about how a person is not acceptable as-is; that in order to belong and to be lovable, they have to be other than how [and] who they are.”

“Shame prevents people from honestly and compassionately acknowledging their difficult situation. This makes it harder to effectively respond to your moods and patterns and realize that you do have choices.”

“Shame also can serve as a form of protection, a gatekeeper that keeps many people from dealing with painful feelings. As long as they stay locked up in shame, they can avoid facing what may feel even more deeply threatening to their sense of self and identity.”

“Shame can be painful and overwhelming. Being self-compassionate is a powerful way to explore your shame and overcome it.”

 Paul goes on to say, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” …” Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” “…in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loves us.”

God forgives, we need to forgive ourselves.  Holding on to shame only holds us back.  Forgiveness cleanses us and sets us free.  Believe in God’s promises and set yourself free! Believe in His love for you regardless of your illness. Love yourself. Surround yourself with others who will show you compassion and love.  AND BELIEVE!

 

GO AND ENCOURAGE SOMEONE TODAY!

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What God Has Taught Me – The Never Ending Story Part 2

Learning


5/15/19

Praise God with me.  I have had 5 days in a row depression free with little fatigue or pain!  I know that this won’t last forever, but I am thankful for this time of refreshing and peace.  This time gives me the ability to be reminded of what God has done and will continue to do in and through me.

As I look back into my journals, I see that God has never left me.  His great plan of changing me into the likeness of Christ will continue.  I hope what He has revealed to me, will be encouraging to you.  Here are more lessons I have learned.

  1. (An entry from 2006) I’ve let my pursuit of health come before God.  Forgive me!  God’s ultimate objective is to bring me to a state in which I please Him entirely and praise Him adequately, a state in which He is all in all to me.  He allows my illness in order to detach my love from other things and attach it to Himself.

 

  1. (While in Romania I was asked to give a message at church. Here were the highlights).

I would like to share with you a very difficult time in my life where God taught me many lessons and changed me in many ways…..  My body reacted to the stress and I underwent several operations and experienced severe fatigue and depression.  At that time my worth was based on my performance – I was proud of my many talents and gifts and energy.  Why would God take this all away from me? I was doing good works.  God answered me, “You can still pray”, which has changed my prayers from simple to deep heart felt talks with God.  “You must listen, be still and know I am God” ,  Ps 37:7- Be still and wait patiently for Him.  “Rely only on Me”, Prov. 16:9 – A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs His steps.  “Be content with who I made you to be and your current situation.” 

 

  1. God has taught me much about weakness. Like common pottery, I am fragile and flawed and break easily.  But God will use me if I allow Him to work through my weakness. My weakness causes me to depend on Him.  God often attaches a major weakness to a major strength to keep me from going to fast and running ahead!  My greatest life messages and effective ministry will come out of my deepest hurts.  Sometimes God turns a strength into a weakness in order to use me even more.  If I want God to bless me and use me, I must be willing to walk with a limp the rest of my life.

“To this end I labor, struggling with all His energy,

which so powerfully works in me!”  Col. 1:29

  1. “Don’t look back”   This has been one of the hardest things to do.  Thinking about what I used to be able to do.  My focus needs to be forward, my eyes on Him.

“Not that I have already obtained all this,

or have already been perfected, but I press on

to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have laid hold of it.

But one thing I do:   Forgetting what is behind and

straining toward what is ahead,

I press on toward the goal to win the prize

of God’s heavenly calling in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 3:12-14

 

GO AND ENCOURAGE SOMEONE!

Pleasing God

Pleasing God

5/13/2019

I’ve really have been struggling with some questions that come to mind when I am exhausted, in pain and deep in depression.  I’ve been praying and looking for the answers and God has been faithful to point me in the right direction.  These are the same questions I have asked many times and God has always answered but obviously I haven’t learned all I need to, nor has my life been transformed enough to not ask these questions again.

I believe that God loves me and is pleased with me but what about when I am not able to serve others and serve Him?  Is He still pleased with me?  Does He delight in others more, who can carry on His good work?  Ah-ha moment!  I have realized that the questions all point to a common problem. Pride!  Why can’t I be satisfied with myself during illness? Why do I think I have to do more to please Him?  Is it because I don’t want to disappoint Him? Or am I disappointed in myself when I’m not able to do more?  How much is enough? Is this about Him or me?  I believe I’m faithful to Him. Does the lack of “doing” make me less faithful or disobedient?

The mind can be very deceptive and feed you lies which Satan fans. I’m going to share what God has taught me concerning these questions that plague me during my lowest moments.

“His pleasure is not in strength of the horse,

nor His delight in the legs of the warrior;

the Lord delights in those who fear Him,

who put their hope in His unfailing love.”

Psalm 147:10-11

 In an article from Patheos.com by Jada Pryor, the writer says this: “The Lord is not impressed with the things that the world sees as important. He cares little for our physical strength, speed, or agility. He smiles upon the strength of our love for Him.  His pleasure comes from those who most swiftly move towards Him.  His delight comes from our hope and faith in his perfect abilities, not our own. “… “What God delights in about us is that we delight in Him.”

It’s not my striving to do more that pleases Him but, rather to delight in and love God Himself. 

 “And without faith it is impossible to please God,

because anyone who comes to Him

must believe that He exists

and that He rewards those who

earnestly seek Him.” 

Hebrews 11:6

How can I best please God?  By cultivating my faith and love for Him.  By seeking Him above all else.

Scotty Smith in an article from DesiringGod.org says: “God loves you just as much as He loves Jesus.  God cannot love you more, and He will never love you less.  God doesn’t love you to the degree you are like Christ, but to the degree you are in Christ.”

I’m not special or loved by what I can do for Him, but I am special and loved when I’m in a relationship with Christ! During those dark moments of illness, I can be assured that God is pleased and delights in me because my faith keeps me close to Him.  What a great relief to just rest in His arms during those hard times rather than struggle to fight the illness.

“Don’t forget in the darkness

what you have learned in the light.” 

Corrie Ten Boom

 Thank you, Father God, for your great love and faithfulness to me.  For taking my heart and scraping out the pride and replacing it with more of You.

 

WHAT GOD HAS TAUGHT ME, THE NEVERENDING STORY – Part 1

Learning

5/3/2019

Part of my therapy this week is to write down what God has taught me through my struggle with pain, fatigue and depression.  Wow, what a big assignment.  I decided the best way to do this was to go back through all my journaling.  Well, after many pages and barely touching all the journals, I came up with 20 things so far.  This will end up being an extensive list!  I have decided to pass them on to you in installments.  Here is Part I!

  • Pray! The battle is spiritual and must be fought in God’s strength, depending on the Word and on God through pray. THE BATTLE DOES BELONG TO THE LORD.
  • Col l:19, “To this end I labor, struggling with all HIS energy, which so powerfully works in me.”
  • Is 40:31, “Yet those who WAIT for the Lord will gain strength…”
  • Consider others better than yourself. Ph 2:1-8
  • Be still and know I am God. Be still and WAIT patiently for Him Ps 37:7  (Hmmm reoccurring theme).
  • Just one thing. Baby steps. Just the next thing,
  • Think, “What would Jesus do?”
  • LET GO and LET GOD! Surrender, the battle is His. (Another reoccurring theme).
  • Whenever Jesus turned His face toward one responsibility, He had to turn His back on another, just as I must do. But instead of letting the pressure of unmet needs determine His direction, He responded according to His sense of God’s purpose. Get my priorities from the Lord and I won’t be frustrated when I find I can’t do it all.
  • Be flexible. Ministry is not what I schedule but what comes as an intrusion to my schedule.
  • Just say NO!
  • In my difficulties, know God is working powerfully behind the scenes for my good – melting, molding me to be more like Jesus.
  • Life is about letting God use me for His purposes, not using Him for my purposes.
  • Stop doing more than God intended me to do.
  • Take my hands off the wheel! If God is going to do the deepest work in me, it will begin with surrender (heard that one before!).  So, give it ALL to God.  My past regrets, my present problems, my future ambitions, my fears, my dreams, weaknesses, habits, hurts, and hang-ups.
  • Be sensitive to the Spirits promptings.
  • Don’t run ahead! Talk to God, listen to Him, enjoy His presence. It’s not just about the destination that’s important, but the journey we take together.
  • Pain can be the instrument of spiritual growth. Without pain I wouldn’t be all that God wants me to be.  His strength shines through my weaknesses. 2Cor 12:9
  • I plan and picture my future, but things don’t always work out that way. Be open to God’s appointed changes in direction.  Prov 16:9
  • I shouldn’t be too taken back when unexpected and upsetting and discouraging things happen to me. God in His wisdom means to make something of me which I have not attained yet, and He is dealing with me accordingly.  I may be bewildered at things that happen to me, but God knows exactly what He is doing, and what He is after, in the handling of my affairs…I ought not to hesitate to trust His wisdom, even when He leaves me in the dark…What ever purpose trials may have … I can be assured of this purpose – to make and keep me humble and to give me a new opportunity of showing forth the power of Christ in my life.  DO I EVER NEED TO KNOW ANY MORE THAN THAT?!

GO AND ENCOURAGE SOMEONE!

Fight or Give Up?

gabriel-benois-637853-unsplash

 

4/24/2019

It’s been a tough week.  I don’t know whether to keep fighting or give up.  I’m so tired of fighting. My mind, body and spirit are drained.  It seems like I keep fighting the same battles over and over. Is there a difference between acceptance and giving up?  A difference between letting go and giving up?

How can my life seem so good, yet I’m fatigued, depressed and in pain? Why does it engulf me at the oddest times for no apparent reason?  It pulls on me and I know I’m going under, but I have no idea how to escape its grasp on me. I hate it! I want to be rid of it! I know all I can do is cry out to God.  I must “let go” and “let God.”  I have no strength- so LET GO.  It’s not a surrender to fatigue, depression or pain, but going to a safe place until rescue comes – so I have enough strength to battle.  It’s so slow and hard to wait.  To see God’s arms around me.  WAIT. One step forward in the battle.  But I just want to give up!  Take me oh Lord!  Finally, I see a glimmer of light, another step to fight.  Keep moving forward.  His arms are still around me. He will rescue me.  Remember what He has done and will do.  His promises have always been true. Afterwards give thanks, be grateful.  Reflect on the process so you have ammunition for the next battle.  It will come.  Don’t grow weary.  Don’t give up.

During the midst of my waiting I found a wonder article that was the answer I needed. In her article, Betsy St. Amant  (https://www.ibelieve.com/faith/letting-go-or-giving-up.html) says:

Giving up equals defeat.

But letting go equals surrender.

The definition of surrender is to yield to the power, control, or possession of another.

In other words, you stop fighting a battle you can’t win and turn it over to the One who can. You yield to God’s power, control and possession and stop attempting those things by yourself.

But surrender doesn’t come without a cost – you have to step back and let go.

Letting go means releasing your dream or your problem, your it, into God’s hands. It means putting your full faith in the fact that He now holds it and will not let it—or you—go.

The difference between letting go and giving up?

When you give up, you find yourself alone and shaken.

When you let go, you find yourself held and secure.

God is good and will never leave you.  Go and encourage someone!

RISE UP FROM THE ASHES

Ashes

4/15/2019

Today I’m finishing up a Bible study on Ruth.  A short story, but with powerful implications.  The author of the study sums it up beautifully.  I needed this.  Hope it touches you too.

Summary by Whitney Woollard “Ruth A Story of God’s Kindness & Redemption”:  “The Book of Ruth is a profoundly human book about ordinary people – people like you and me – who portray an extraordinary alternative to the way of life, the way of  hesed, 

(Hesed is difficult to translate because it stands for a cluster of ideas—love, mercy, grace, kindness. It wraps up in itself all the positive attributes of God.  Hesed is one of the Lord’s most treasured characteristics. Hesed is a quality that moves someone to act for the benefit of someone else without considering “what’s in it for me?”)

in the midst of great suffering.  Ruth shows us that our ordinary lives can have extraordinary purpose.  As we are faithful to God and God’s people in the midst of tragedy, loss, barrenness, moves, sickness, difficult relationships, work, dating;/engagements, family life, raising children, or just daily grind, WE CAN BE CONFIDENT THAT GOD’S UNSEEN HAND IS WORKING OUT HIS GLORIOUS PURPOSES IN THE WORLD FOR HIS GLORY AND OUR GOOD.  This infuses our seemingly ordinary and mundane days with divine purpose.  THIS MEANS YOUR LIFE IS MEANINGFUL.  Your work, play, rest, life, relationships, and even your PAIN all have meaning because God is using them to work out His purposes.”

WOW! This really spoke to me.  God is using my fatigue, pain and depression for His purposes!  The great thing is that He makes promises that get us through this fatigue, pain and depression too.  He will never allow more than you can handle.  He will never leave or forsake you.  His love castes out all fear.  There are many more promises.  I encourage you to turn to Him for the answers and support you need and don’t forget to look to others for their prayers, support, and encouragement, then do likewise.

 

Glorious Ruins

Hillsong Worship

When the mountains fall
And the tempest roars You are with me
When creation folds
Still my soul will soar on Your mercy

I’ll walk through the fire
With my head lifted high
And my spirit revived in Your story
And I’ll look to the cross
As my failure is lost
In the light of Your glorious grace

So Let the ruins come to life
In the beauty of Your Name
Rising up from the ashes
God forever You reign

And my soul will find refuge
In the shadow of Your wings
I will love You forever
And forever I’ll sing

When the world caves in
Still my hope will cling to Your promise
Where my courage ends
Let my heart find strength in Your presence

Songwriters: Joel Houston / Matt Crocker

Glorious Ruins lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group


MY STORY (A journey through chronic fatigue, pain and depression)

4/8/2019

Today I feel compelled to tell my story.  Not to gain sympathy or help, but to share in hopes that my story will encourage and help others.

This won’t be the whole story.  There is too much to put into a short chapter.  It’s a start.  An introduction.  It is my hope to continue this story and include many chapters from the past and on into the future.

I have been struggling with chronic fatigue, pain and depression for most of my life.  I say “struggle” because it is a battle.  Everyday these maladies affect me in some way.  Why have I chosen this day to speak out?  To share my stories.  I have shared bits and pieces with close friends in the past, but my journaling today spoke to me.  I was reminded that only if I boast of my weakness can God do His work through me.

After looking through the many years of journaling this journey, I found that I have come to this cross roads many times.  I desire to share what God has done in my life and will continue to do.  So where to start?  I’ll start with today and go from there.  If God is truly using me in this way, He will continue to give me the energy and desire I need to post more.

Journal 4/8/19:   Well, here I am again!  I haven’t journaled since 2017!  God you’ve taken me through a tough journey.  My health and identity at the heart of it all.  I’m on the journey to heal again.  You rescued me! Please help me to continue on the journey.  Use me.  Use my journey to help others.

(Please note that some of what I journal has not come directly from me, but from other sources, but the words spoke to me and I identify with them.  Today I have chosen words from “Chronic Pain” Living by Faith When Your Body Hurts” by Michael R. Emlet CCEF, and from “Depression” A Stubborn Darkness”, by Edward T. Welch., and of course the Bible.)

Constant pain, life constricted, daily, unrelenting.

Is it still possible to persevere and live out God’s purpose for my life? Is there grace enough?

Depressed people are eloquent, even when they feel empty at their emotional core, devoid of personhood.  Meaningless pain…. (all I) want in life: for this pain to seem purposeful.

Decisions? Impossible. The mind is locked.  How can (I) choose? Nothing is working, the engine of (my)mind is barely turning over.  And aren’t most decisions emotional preferences?  Life is flat, gray, cold. Nothing holds interest…Yet pain breaks through in this lifeless numb state…When (I) remember that (I) once was alive…but (I) try to forget those times because the contrast is unbearable.

2 Cor 12:5…but I will not boast about myself, except in my weakness…I was given a thorn in my flesh to torment me…Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.”  Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me.

NLT version: My grace is ALL you need. My power works best in weakness.  So now I am GLAD to BOAST about my weaknesses so that the POWER of Christ can work THROUGH me.

Grace is NOT based on works.  I should approach God with CONFIDENCE to find grace to help in time of need.  He gives me even more grace to stand against evil. By God’s grace I am what I am. Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

Grace is favour, the FREE and UNDESERVED HELP that God gives me to REPOND to His CALL to BECOME A CHILD of God, an adoptive daughter, a partaker of the divine nature and of eternal life.

So, my conclusion for today is:
1) Approach God confidently to receive grace.

2) Boast of weakness so that the power of God will rest on me and so God can do His work through me.

3)Be satisfied with who I am because His grace makes me who I am.

I hope this has been helpful to you in some way.  May God bless your journey.

Hugs,

Sue

Power of Your Love

Hillsong Worship

Lord I come to You
Let my heart be changed, renewed
Flowing from the grace
That I’ve found in You
Lord I’ve come to know
The weaknesses I see in me
Will be stripped away
By the power of Your love

Hold me close
Let Your love surround me
Bring me near
Draw me to Your side
And as I wait
I’ll rise up like the eagle
And I will soar with You
Your Spirit leads me on
In the power of Your love

Lord unveil my eyes
Let me see You face to face
The knowledge of Your love
As You live in me
Lord renew my mind
As Your will unfolds in my life
In living every day
By the power of Your love

Hold me close
Let Your love surround me
Bring me near
Draw me to Your side
And as I wait
I’ll rise up like the eagle
And I will soar with You
Your Spirit leads me on
In the power of Your love

THIS MEANS WAR

How can I fight back when my body says, “give up?”  Chronic illness or loss and depression can put a stronghold on our mind and body.  God may not release our bodies but we can find victory over our mind!  It’s not easy, we need to go to war.

“Therefore, we do not lose heart,

 but though our outer man is decaying,

 yet our inner man is being

 renewed day by day.” 2 cor. 4:16

2 Corinthians 10:3 tells us, “We do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses (strongholds).”  We can overcome the stronghold of our mind with the divine power God can give to us. Verse 5 says, “we ARE destroying…we ARE taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”

How can we do this?  We are weak, our bodies are weak and our mind just as weak.  Ephesians tells us the two methods we can use to take those thoughts captive and wage war with our weak mind.

“Therefore, take up the full armor of God…resist…stand firm…take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit…”

Beth Moore in her book, “Praying God’s Word”, says that by taking up these two offensive weapons we can defeat strongholds.  By adding scripture to our prayers, we can fight back and be victorious “against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness (attacking our mind).”

My prayer is that you will be strong in the Spirit of prayer and use God’s weapon, His holy Word, to fight the war of your mind.  May it bring you peace in your struggle over your weak body so that you are better able to continue to serve Him!

BE ENCOURAGED AND ENCOURAGE SOMEONE TODAY!

Why Illness?

Why this?  Why me?  Will it never end?  Are these questions you ask every day because you suffer from some illness or loss? The apostle Paul must have asked some of the same questions when referring to his “thorn in the flesh”.  He prayed three times with no positive result.  But there was a positive result, just not the one he had prayed for – to be cured.

What about the man who was blind from birth?  The disciples asked Jesus, ““Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  And then there was Lazarus.  Jesus did not come to him when he was sick and cure him but stayed away three days after his death.  Why? In both cases Jesus answered that the blind man and the death of Lazarus were for the GLORY OF GOD!

How then can we, who suffer from chronic illness or loss, expect any other answer for our maladies other than “it is for the GLORY OF GOD!”  We may not know what that means in the great plan of our lives but we can be assured that God will use it for His good! We should never stop praying for healing but we should stop worrying about healing.  Like with the blind man it may come later in in life, or like with Lazarus, God is waiting for just the right timing.

Now we have our answers to those questions.  John 11:4, “When Jesus heard this He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.”” For later he said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe?”

BE ENCOURAGED AND ENCOURAGE SOMEONE TODAY!

 

Choose Joy

“When we go through troubles, afflictions, persecutions, danger, illness, distress, when the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy, we can have genuine joy in our hearts.”

Thelma Wells

Is this really possible? When we are feeling so down can we experience real joy?  Sometimes I wonder.    Jeremiah 31:13 says, “I’ll convert their weeping into laughter, lavishing comfort, invading their grief …with joy.”   This promise means there is a way to find that joy in our difficulties.

 Today I was thinking more about putting my focus on Jesus.  To do that I must take my eyes off myself and the circumstances around me.  Then I asked myself, “if I focus on Jesus what will I see?”  What does focusing on Jesus show me?  I would see Jesus as a servant.  Serving others, caring, loving, encouraging.  How can I be expected to do that when I myself am needy?  If I follow Jesus and come side-by-side with Him, then He provides all I need.  I’m able to love others when I myself feel so unloved because Jesus is right there loving me.  I’m able to help others when I myself need help because Jesus is right there helping me and giving me strength.  Soon I don’t even remember my neediness.  I’m full of joy and love because I have been used to give joy and love to others.

“For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother.”  Philemon 1:7

May this give you a step forward into finding lasting joy.

 

BE ENCOURAGED AND ENCOURAGE SOMEONE TODAY!

Priorties

Do you struggle with priorities?  I sure do.  Even the most organized, ambitious person does.  What about the people who aren’t organized and ambitious?  Do they struggle?  Believing that their life seems useless and unproductive?  You bet they struggle.  In fact, in some ways, it’s much harder for them because, believing they have nothing to give, drives them to set unrealistic goals.

At one point in my life I was struggling with what my priorities were.  I was a busy mom, working outside the home, chauffeuring kids to lessons and events, keeping a home, volunteering at church and trying to keep my husband happy.  It became too much.  But what should I give up or downscale?  I was exhausted daily but I still felt like I should do it all.  It was all necessary!  I cried out, “Lord, God what do I do?  Please tell me what are the priorities I should have and help me to implement them!”

God answered me in a way I didn’t expect.  He not only showed me what my priorities should be but gave me solid scripture to back it up.  My priorities consisted of just three areas!   I am sharing this with you in hopes that it will encourage and inspire you in your own struggle.

 

  1. My Relationship with God: (God said the battle is spiritual and must be fought in God’s strength, depending on the Word and on God through prayer!)

“Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.   With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying.”  Eph. 6:18

  1. My Health: (My pursuit of a healthy body was fruitless unless I lived by the promptings and power of the Spirit which is the key to conquering sinful desires.)

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”  Gal. 5:22 and “To this end I labor, struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me.” Col 1:29

 

  1. My Family and Friends:

“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better then yourself; look not to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus, who …made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant…He humbled Himself…”  Phil. 2:1-8

 

It hasn’t always been easy sticking to these three areas.  I have found myself frequently having to go back and start over implementing them.  At first I felt guilty, that I couldn’t live up to them, but as time went by I found that God would always give me the strength and conviction to begin again and continue.  All I must do was ask!  I encourage you to ask today.  Ask Him what His priorities for you are and ask for solid bible back up.  Write them down and meditate on them and refer to them when it is needed.

 

BE ENCOURAGED AND ENCOURAGE SOMEONE TODAY!

Please Part the Waters

*NOTE:  Even now I’m debating whether to post this message.  It will put me right out in the open, naked and vulnerable.  But I know it is necessary.  Necessary for those who suffer from chronic illness and necessary for those who don’t understand.  Please pray after reading this and ask God to comfort those who suffer and bring understanding to those who don’t. 

 

Today I find myself struggling again.  Crawling into bed and sleeping seems to be my lot.  I tried pushing myself to do something.  And I did, but it seems so little compared to the time I’ve spent doing nothing or sleeping.  I am at my lowest.  I can’t seem to find gladness or joy.  I am useless and empty.  Is this humbleness?   If it is it stinks.  I’m so humble I can’t even prayer.  Pray about what?  Pray and pray and pray for myself to be given even one ounce of energy and motivation.  It hasn’t come.  Even medication and caffeine are of no help.  God isn’t speaking to me.  Where are you?  You always speak to me somehow but today there is nothing.  You’ve always been there for me.  Walking along side, pushing me, carrying me.  I feel left in the ditch of despair today.  All I can do is lie here.  Looking out into the world around me.  It should inspire me.  The beauty the color, but none of it can bring me out of my darkness.  Help me Lord.  Give me a sign a word.  I need you because you are the only One who can lift me.  You are the lifter of my head, the light to my path, the refuge to my soul.  Where are You?

Thank you Lord for giving me this song today:

“Trust In You” Lyrics

Lauren Daigle

Letting go of every single dream
I lay each one down at Your feet
Every moment of my wandering
Never changes what You see

I’ve tried to win this war I confess
My hands are weary I need Your rest
Mighty Warrior, King of the fight
No matter what I face, You’re by my side

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

Truth is, You know what tomorrow brings
There’s not a day ahead You have not seen
So, in all things be my life and breath
I want what You want Lord and nothing less

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

You are my strength and comfort
You are my steady hand
You are my firm foundation; the rock on which I stand
Your ways are always higher
Your plans are always good
There’s not a place where I’ll go, You’ve not already stood

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

I will trust in You!

 

BE ENCOURAGED AND ENCOURAGE SOMEONE TODAY!

FIRM FOUNDATION

Are you one of the crumbling stones in the wall of life?  I think of myself that way.  The imperfections, the health problems, the sins and wrong choices of my life cause my stone to look rough and crumbly.  I need help to be held together.  I can’t do it myself.  Believe me I have tried.

In Ephesians, it says that God is building His temple, the church, and I am part of it.  How strong will that wall be if I am crumbling away?  How effective will I be if parts of me are missing? What can I do to keep myself shored up and sturdy?  Sometime ago God showed me that He was building a temple within a temple.  He was building me to be part of His great temple of believers.  He showed me what that wall would be like.  I needed to be surrounded by strong stones that would hold me up and in.  Beginning with Christ as the “corner stone”, the Bible as part of the foundation, prayer, church, other believers, family, and all the truths that God continues to teach me.

foundation

God is building His temple.  Ephesians 2:19-22 says, “so then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.”

You are part of this great temple that God is building.  Where do you fit in?  How is your support system?  Will it hold together your crumbling stone that you are?  Begin today and build it on a firm foundation.

BE ENCOURAGED AND ENCOURAGE SOMEONE TODAY!

Depression Glorified

Depression.  It sneaks up on you like a snake in the grass and bites you when you least expect it.  Sometimes when everything is going well.  You’ve done all the right things yet your body decides it’s time to mix up those brain chemicals and bring you down.  How low you go you sometimes have no control over.  You can cry or become withdrawn for the silliest reason.  People who have never suffered from depression don’t understand the complexities of this malady.  The very people they see as vibrant and social may be the very ones who suffer from this debilitating illness.  One minute they are full of energy and seemingly happy and the next they could be curled up in their favorite blanket trying to escape the world.

Yes, I suffer from this so-called disease.  For over 40+ years I have tried everything suggested from exercise, nutrition, supplements, yoga, meditation, medication, etc.  No one doctor has ever had “the” answer.  The only answer for me has been to draw nearer to God.  This too has been difficult.  The very source of comfort that you want is sometimes seemingly far away.  Only through experience can I force myself to crawl into His lap and ride out the storm.  Tell my “Abba” (Daddy) all that I’m feeling and thinking.  It can be a roller coaster ride of emotion that seems to never end.  I know though, that there will be an end when I come to Him.  Always there is an answer or healing.  My favorite message from Him is found in 2 Cor. 12:9:

” And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am well content with weakness…for when I am weak, then I am strong.’”

Wow, pow that hits me every time.  It gives me the lift that I need to go on.  I know that the depression may last days or weeks but there will be an end.  During that time, I look to see how God uses it to glorify Himself and His Son Jesus.  Quite often it’s by impacting the lives of others when I least expect it.  Comforting them.  Giving them hope to carry on.  The key is to “show up”.  Show up and let God do the rest.  Even if it may cause pain for a moment the reward is amazing.  Just recently I suffered a bout of depression and didn’t want to attend my Ladies Bible study.  Who wants to be around cheerful, yakking women when you feel like crawling in a hole.  I remembered that I needed to just “show up” and let God do the rest.  He did.  He reminded me of His love and mercy.  His faithfulness and grace.  I was lifted and comforted.  Was the depression immediately gone, no, but there was hope because I knew that my depression was Glorified!

BE ENCOURAGED AND ENCOURAGE SOMEONE TODAY!

 

 

Be Still

Who likes to be still?  I sure don’t.  I was born with an abundance of energy and spent a better part of my life trying to use it up.  Most days I just couldn’t sleep because my brain wouldn’t slow down. Then God found a way to slow me down.  For a long time, I wasn’t happy.  I had lost my ability to do.  My whole worth was attached to what I could do.  I felt useless and inadequate.  I deep depression came over me.  I couldn’t shake the depression or the feeling that I had been abandoned.  What did I have to give now, to God, to others, to myself.  Most days by sure will power I pushed through the day only to fall apart when I got home with nothing left for my family.  I fought with God.  Pleaded with God to give me my energy back.  He just kept sending me messages like, “Be still My child,” “Wait My child,” “Trust in Me My child.”

I didn’t want to wait, quietly and trust.  I wanted to do.  Doing was all I knew and wanted.  Years, and years went by.  I kept getting the same messages and examples of people who God told to “wait”, “be still”, “trust”.  I just couldn’t do it.  But then I was forces to do it.  God was all I had.  I had to “be still, wait and trust.”  It wasn’t easy.  Slowly I learned that this wasn’t such a bad place to be.  My focus turned to my inner self and my relationship with God.  I found that He loved me just the way I was not for what I could do or be.  He made me for a time to do and a time to be still.  To teach me His awesome greatness, faithfulness, love.

I say to you, don’t fear your illness.  Don’t fight it.  Ride it out like being on a raft in the great ocean.  He will provide your sustenance.  All you need to do is talk.  Talk to Him, be near Him, until His plan is complete in you.  You can be still.  You can wait. You can trust.

Psalm 46:10 “Be still (cease striving), and know that I am GOD!”

Isaiah 40:31 “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength;”

Romans 12:12 “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

Psalm 84:12 “LORD Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in YOU.”

BE ENCOURAGED AND ENCOURAGE SOMEONE TODAY!

 

Run Forest

I should say, “Run Sue, Run!”  I have lots of experience running.  I think I was born to run.  I was in track in Jr. High, High School and College.  I even, like Forest, ran from bullies!  That is probably where I got better or at least learned to run with more vigor.  This is why the Bible writings, concerning running, mean so much to me.  God has used them countless times to challenge me, teach me and discipline me.  I may not be able to run like I used to but the desire and memories are still with me.

Paul states in I Cor. 9:23-27:  “I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.  Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize?  Run in such a way that you may win.  Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things.  They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.  Therefore, I run in such a way, as not without aim…”

Yes, I run to win!  I did then and I do now.  My prize then was perishable but my prize now is imperishable, to be with God for eternity!  To do this I must be disciplines and I must exercise!  It has not been easy.  I fail many times but I get back up and continue on.  Praying, reading God’s word, meeting with other Christian, attending church, all the things that help be to be a winner!

My favorite and most heartfelt verses come from Hebrews 12.  “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of WITNESSES (in the stands encouraging me to run!) surrounding us, let us also lay aside every ENCUMBRANCE (clothing, other runners, running surface, pain) and the SIN (the flesh and the world) which so easily entangles us, and let us run with ENDURANCE (takes practice) the race that is set before us, FIXING (focused on the goal) our eyes on JESUS (our goal).”

WE CAN ALL BE WINNERS!

BE ENCOURAGED AND ENCOURAGE SOMEONE TODAY!

One Thing

Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is?
                 [holds up one finger] This.
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean s***.
Mitch: But, what is the “one thing?”                                                                                                           Curly: That’s what you have to find out.

This lesson in the move “City Slickers” has been a kind of motto for me.  “One thing, just one thing,” has directed me.  Long ago God told me the very same, “Sue, your priority should be one thing.”  It hasn’t been easy keeping that “one thing” in the forefront.  Life has a way of distracting me, turning me around, sending me off the path intended for me.  Many lessons have been learned, hard, hurting lessons, but in the end growth in faith has been the reward.

What is that one thing?  For me it is keeping my eyes on Jesus and following Him.  Keeping God first in my life.  Not just part of my life but every single little element of time, place, substance, etc.  Nothing is too small that God won’t handle it.  Keeping God first means talking to him 24/7.  Every moment seeing Him right there beside me.  Questioning him, pouring my heart out to Him.  He is my best friend and my “daddy”.  Paul said in Galatians 4:6, “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! (Daddy) Father!’”

What does any of this have to do with chronic illness?  For me it means even when I don’t want anyone near me, because I feel so bad, I must let God continue to be near me.  He is my refuge and strength when I have none.  He is the lifter of my head.  He is the lamp unto my feet.  How can I go through life here, on earth, without Him?  How can you?

And He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart,

 and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”  Matt. 22:37

BE ENCOURAGED AND ENCOURAGE SOMEONE TODAY!

 

 

*Morning Joy *

Being joyful is difficult especially when you are in pain physically or mentally.  The Theopedia says joy is “a state of mind and an orientation of the heart. It is a settled state of contentment, confidence and hope. It is something or someone that provides a source of happiness.”

This definition does give me hope.  It’s not dependent on how my body or my mind feels, but it depends on my heart!  This type of joy is real and lasting regardless of how we feel because this joy is grounded in our relationship with Christ.  For example, even when we feel lousy, we still love.  So, we can still feel lousy and still have joy!  Nehemiah knew this when he wrote, “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” (Neh. 8:9b NASV) I don’t have to jump up and down and short “Hallelujah” but I can be content and confident in my relationship and salvation and his love for me.

When I am feeling well, though, I want to jump for joy.  I want to dance!

“You have turned my mourning into dancing;

You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness,

That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent.

O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.”

Psalm 30:11-12 NASV

 

DANCE WITH ME AND ENCOURAGE SOMEONE TODAY!

Photography by: Bethany Lang

Winning Over Loss

What have you lost?  Loss can be crushing.  It can cause the deepest grief within.  I have experienced that kind of loss in two ways, a lost loved one and the loss of myself.  Both equally emotionally devastating.  But, when you lose yourself, your identity, your abilities it is crippling in all aspects: physically, emotionally and spiritually.

“Who am I?”  I’ve had to ask myself and God.  I have no answer but God does.  “You are my beloved child with whom I am well pleased, “He says.  But how can He love me if I am unable to do anything?  How can I serve Him and others when I have nothing to give?  These are the lies that my own mind and Satan try to force into my heart.  Paul suffered great loss too.  He lost everything he was, to become all that God wanted him to be.  He said, “I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.“  Phil. 3:8b NASV

Did he mean to just gain Christ for a moment or for just his salvation?  No, he meant his loss was suffered every day to bring him closer into a deeper and lasting relationship with Christ.  That’s what I want!  So, I must suffer my loss and not look back.  I must, “(forget) what lies behind and (reach) forward to what lies ahead.  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  Phil. 3:13b-14 NASV  Will you join me?

 

There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears
There will be a day when the burdens of this place,
Will be no more, we’ll see Jesus face to face
But until that day, we’ll hold on to you always

I know the journey seems so long
You feel you’re walking on your own
But there has never been a step
Where you’ve walked out all alone

By Jeremy Camp

 

BE ENCOURAGED AND ENCOURAGE SOMEONE TODAY!

Potter’s Clay

Did you know that you are a lump of clay?  Some days I feel that way.  I’m just a blob of nothing.  My energy is zapped.  My original form is gone.  All I want to do is just sit or sleep and do nothing, yet deep within me I want to be something again. I cry out to God in the words of the song “The Potter’s Hand by Hillsong United”:

Oh take me, mold me, use me, fill me

I give my life to the potter’s hand

Oh call me, guide me, lead me, walk beside me

I give my life to the potter’s hand

It’s a good thing to be a lump of clay.  It’s humbling.  It gives God the OK to do His will in our life.  He’s the shaper, He will make us something beautiful inside and out. My part is to surrender and let Him take over.  It may take time, it may hurt, but eventually I will be all He wants me to be.  I will be beautiful in His sight!

Thank you God for my illness, it has brought me to the point of surrender.  Now make me a beautiful creation.  I’m Your creation for Your purposes. Amen

“Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker –

An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth!

Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’

Or the thing you are making say, “He has not hands’?

Isaiah 45:9 NASV

BE ENCOURAGED AND ENCOURAGE SOMEONE TODAY!

Finding Hope Part 2

Are you able to relate to these words in “All My Hope” by Hillsong?

Here in my weakness
Always the same
Your love is my shelter
Your life is my way

All my hope is in You
All my strength is in You
With every breath
My soul will rest in You

I certainly can! Living each day with a chronic illness or personal loss does cause weakness.  We need a shelter, a place to rest while the world goes whizzing by at a fast pace.  We need a place to escape where we can settle our thoughts; a place where we can reflect on what is most important.

Sometimes it takes a lot of resting and lots of time.  Baker’s Evangelical dictionary says that hope is defined: “to trust in, wait for, look for, or desire something or someone; or to expect something beneficial in the future.” Well there you go, hope is waiting!

This is exactly what God has been trying to get through to my head and heart.  Wait on Him.  I hate waiting. The world has us so programmed to hurry.  We have forgotten how to rest and wait. Through this illness I have had to wait thinking this was a waste of time and unproductive.  Why God?  Why are you making me go through this torture?  Slowly, little by little He has shown me that He is my resting place. “Come to me,” He says, “and you will find peace and strength.”

“Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40:31 NASV

Find that resting place today.  Come to Him and let Him comfort you, heal you and give you the strength you need to go on doing His good work.  He won’t let you down if you do it His way!

BE ENCOURAGED AND ENCOURAGE SOMEONE TODAY!

Fighting Depression

“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me?”

(Psalm 42:5 NASV)

“My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all day long,

“Where is your God?”

(Psalm 42:3 NASV)

Depression is real.  The hole we find ourselves in can sometimes be so deep we need someone to jump in and give us a boost.  Jesus came to set us fee from this hole we fall into.  I know from experience that He is the one who is willing to be in that darkness with me until I am ready to get that boost and stick my head out into the light.  The light can be blinding and scary but He follows me and holds my hand.  He even shades my eyes until I can stand the brightness again.  I pray He will do the same for you. I hope you can find comfort in these verses:

“Why are you in despair, O my soul?  And why have you become disturbed within me?  Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence.”   Psalm 42:5 NASV

“If I say, “”Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,”” even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.  Psalm 139; 11-12

BE ENCOURAGED AND ENCOURAGE SOMEONE TODAY!

Finding Hope

HOPE: endless, eternal, beyond our reach, beyond our understanding. That is God’s hope not man’s.

DECEMBER 29, 2016

I love this quote by Anthony Padovano in his book Dawn without Darkness, “The boundaries of life and the limits of hope cannot be drawn with the crayons of times and space.”

HOPE: endless, eternal, beyond our reach, beyond our understanding. That is God’s hope not man’s.  If we could see beyond we would have an endless supply.  Because we are temporal and sinful we can only see the now, the pain, the hurt, the loss.

Today is not a great day for me.  I’ve been having great days for about 3 weeks on new medication.  Today I feel like I’ve been sucked back into my old shell.  My body is tired, I have brain fog, and I’m unenthusiastic.  I need a special space ship to whisk me off to that far away land of hope.  So, I do the next best thing.  I open my Bible.  I get closer to God.  His power starts to infuse into me, gets under my skin, and goes right to my heart.  Yes, God is my source of hope and strength.  I know there will be better days. I will use today to sit next to Him, enjoy Him and all He has to offer me.