Category Archives: Uncategorized

One Step in Front of the Other

I haven’t made a secret in this blog of suffering from depression. Sometimes, I think I do a better job of writing about it than I do talking about it. The sadness can be overwhelming, as it is for me today, and many times, there is no reason for it. But, that’s what depression is, an illness that people suffer from, not something that people have because they haven’t prayed hard enough.

That’s the reason I’m self-conscious about speaking of my depression and even more self-conscious of asking for help or telling people I’m having a bad day. They think this is something I can pray away, and everything will be okay. It doesn’t work that way. I can’t sidestep it. I have to walk through it. There is a good thing about walking through it though because when I walk through it, God walks with me.

The writers of Scripture talk about this, especially in the psalms. Psalm 23:4 says, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Another one comes from Psalm 119. Verse 28 says,”My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.”

Other parts of Scripture represent my feelings today too. Lamentations 3:55 says, “I called on your name, Lord, from the depths of the pit.”

An additional example comes from Micah 7:8. “Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.”

I like this example and the example from Isaiah I’m going to quote in just a moment because they represent how I deal with my depression. I have to take one step in front of the other as I walk through it with God by my side. Sometimes, I can’t see the next step because it is so shrouded in darkness. I hurt and don’t understand why I am hurting. But, God is with me, and that is enough so I keep walking.

Isaiah 50:10 says, “Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant? Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God.” I do trust in and rely on my God as well so I keep putting one step in front of the other.

So, in conclusion, I covet your prayers today as I walk through this darkness and pray that we will all have the courage to put one step in front of the other with God by our side.

God’s blessings on all of you today!

Quit Complaining and Start Doing

There were several titles I could have chosen for this post, and I might end up changing this one before I’m done writing. Two of the others that resonated with me were More Love, Fewer Words and What Christians Stand For. I was inspired by what a friend wrote on Facebook yesterday. There were more words than what are in any of these titles, obviously, but the gist of what she said to fellow Christians is in these five words–quit complaining and start doing.

During this last election cycle, there was a lot of complaining on social media by both sides. A lot of words used on the Internet and in real life that have broken up friendships, families, churches, and ministries. How did it come to this? Are we that entrenched in thinking that we are right or that our thoughts are God’s thoughts that we can’t look at the other side? Are we that focused on looking for role models in the media that we don’t look at the people around us or even look where we’re supposed to look for instruction on how to live? Let me remind you. If you are a Christian, that would be God.

Yes, I think we have become entrenched in our thinking, but I think there’s another reason why we complain. Many of us are lazy in the practice of our faith. Now, I don’t mean everyone by any stretch of the imagination. I know many people who are doing wonderful work in their ministries including the person I mentioned at the beginning of this post. But, many of us are lazy. It’s easier to march and speak against abortion than it is to adopt a child. It’s easier to complain about the homeless than it is to do something about it. It’s easier to distance ourselves from those who are not exactly like us than it is to get down in the trenches and form relationships with them. It’s easier to give money than it is to do anything at all. I could go on and on with examples, but I think I’ve made my point.

In the interest of total honesty, I will admit I have a tendency to be lazy myself. It comes from my sin nature, and it comes out when my mind is not where it is supposed to be which is focused on God.

I don’t want to be lazy though. I want to be the one who spreads hope; I want to be the one who gets down in the trenches and forms relationships; I want to be the one who is the hands of Christ; I want to show the love of my Savior to the people around me. Show more of Jesus and less of me. I think that is the point of what my friend was saying and what I’m trying to say. It’s time for us Christians to be known for what we are for and not what we are against. Praying that prayer for all of us!

God’s blessings on all of you today!

Heart Attitudes

If you’re a regular reader of this blog or a follower of my Facebook page, you might have noticed I’ve started using some new hashtags. They include #newseatnewoutlook, #newfriends, #joyofachild, and #fixoureyesonJesus. These come from the way I’ve started my new year in church. It was a simple thing, really. I changed where I was sitting during my church’s worship service. I can’t tell you what that has done for my mental outlook. I’m sitting with people who want me there and who are genuinely excited about me being there. It has helped my outlook, my worship, and everything in-between.

So, on to today’s topic. Yesterday, I was sitting with the wife of one of the other media team people, her son, and her mother-in-law. It was before the service, and we noticed the sign come up on the big screen about help being needed on the media team. We chuckled because, more often than not, both of our husbands are back there during the service. The term media widow was used, and I told her how much I had enjoyed sitting with her and getting to know her and her kids. It was nice to sit with someone who I had something in common with. She told me her husband struggled with asking for help, and it’s the same with my husband. He prefers to do something himself and not ask for help unless it’s absolutely necessary. We are at the point where he has to now because baseball season for our son starts in six weeks. My friend and I finished commiserating just before the service started, and we had a wonderful time of worship with our church family.

Later on, I was thinking of what today’s blog topic was going to be, and I came back to that conversation. ‘Oh, that would be a great story to share,’ I thought. Then, my high horse came tumbling back to earth. ‘Dear daughter, didn’t you ask me for help with your attitudes last week?’ God has a way of speaking right to the heart of the matter. ‘I know your husband has trouble asking for help, but you do as well, only with different things.’

God was right. I do have trouble asking for help especially with my heart attitudes.

How many of us ask for prayer for our heart attitudes? I would venture to say not a lot. It’s easier to ask for prayer when we’re sick or out of work than to ask for these prayers.

‘I don’t like that person because of their politics. Pray that I would love them like Jesus wants me to.’

Or, ‘I know we need to welcome people who are different to church, but I struggle with that. Please pray for me.’

Or, ‘I struggle with talking to some people because they are prettier, or more accomplished or just seem to have it more together in Christ than I do. Please pray for me.’

And here is the hardest one for me. ‘Sometimes I resent being a media widow. I resent never having my husband with me during worship. I know he is doing God’s work, and I rejoice in that, but sometimes, it is just hard. Please pray that more people would help and that the resentment would go away.’

Heart attitudes. We all have them, and we hold them tightly, not letting God carry them for us. My sincerest desire is for others to see Jesus through me, but I know Jesus needs to work on my heart for that to happen.

So, my goal for this year is to fix my eyes on Jesus and let him work on my heart attitudes. It’s why I changed my seat, and it’s why I hope, one day, I will have the courage to approach the people I struggle the most with talking to and ask them to pray for me.

God’s blessings on all of you today!

PS – Church family, my husband and his friend still need help on the media team. I’m not letting him get away with not asking. 🙂

 

Simplicity

Simplicity is our theme on Wednesday nights for this month, and I’ve been thinking about what this means in my life since it was introduced last week.

First, here is the definition of the word. Wikipedia says, “Simplicity is the state or quality of being simple. Something which is easy to understand or explain seems simple, in contrast to something complicated.” I also liked the synonyms I found for the word–clarity, clearness, comprehensibility, understandable, accessibility, and straightforwardness.

For many things in our lives, these words apply. Who, among us, has wanted math or English or science to be more understandable? How about being able to understand how to fix a car so we don’t have to pay someone else to do it? What about reading a recipe? The examples could go on and on of things we would like to be simple and understandable.

Why is it, then, that we make other things so complicated in our lives? From the people we associate with to our jobs to the things we buy, to how we behave, our lives have a tendency to go from one complicated mess to another.

This isn’t unique to modern times though. Jesus had something to say about it in Scripture. From the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42, “As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’ ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed–or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken from her.'”

We read this Scripture and think Jesus was harshly rebuking Martha. I don’t think so. I like to think that maybe after He made this statement, He might have invited her to join them and told her it was okay if dinner wasn’t ready for a few more minutes. He wanted people to hear what He had to say.

Isn’t that what we try to do now though? Focus on the complications and the minutiae of our lives instead of listening to God’s words. Satan uses the complications of our lives to take our focus off of God and make us think He isn’t with us in whatever we are experiencing. But, He is with us, no matter what, and I am very grateful.

So, how does that relate to simplicity? In two ways, I think. First, we need to be happy with what we have. There will always be someone who has something better than what we have. If we keep our eyes focused on God, we won’t have the time or inclination to be envious of them. Two, and this one is the most important to me. We need to focus on what we can do for others and not ourselves. The accumulation of monetary assets does no one any good if they are not used to further God’s kingdom.

I have worked on focusing on what I can do for others during the last few weeks, and it has improved my own mental outlook. When I think of how excited someone is going to be because of something I’ve done that has cost me time, money, or a combination of both, a sense of peace comes over me, and I think my life gets closer to what Jesus wants from me.

In conclusion, I think Matthew 6:33-34 represents the ultimate definition of simplicity for me. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” So thankful for my Lord and Savior who has blessed me abundantly with the simple things in life!

God’s blessings on all of you today!

Praising God

Yesterday, in church, our pastor talked about praising God and celebration. Two things that go hand in hand. Many of the psalms speak of this as well including the text he used. Psalm 145:1-2 says, “I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever.”

Many of us don’t do this the way we should. Our problems and our worries take up most of our thoughts, and we try to get rid of them by thinking, hoping, strategizing, and praying about them. But, we miss out on something when we don’t praise God, and I found that out yesterday.

We’ve only had worship service the last few weeks because of the holidays and the icy weather here yesterday so my routine has been a bit different. I came with my husband early for him to help with the media, and ended up playing with the children of the other guy who helps. It has been a true joy to be around small children again. They look at life in a much different way than adults or even teenagers. I ended up sitting with them too. For two of the weeks, I was the official “babysitter” because their mother was working, and the other week I sat with all three of them. I am truly thankful for the friendship I am starting to build with them. Between changing  where I was sitting in the auditorium to do this and sitting with people who wanted me there, my outlook has changed, and I can see more clearly the good God has brought into my life.

I think that’s the point of praising Him. Even when the big things are bad, there have always been little things to praise Him for. Verses 9-10 of Psalm 145 illustrate this. “The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you.” All. Not just some. Not just the good things. Not the bad things either. All He has made.

So, I was thinking along these lines during the service. The things in my life I could praise God for. And it was a lot more than I thought. At the end of the service, a video filled with pictures from 2016 was shown. All of the special things that had happened at my church during 2016. I had been involved with many of them. Then, I got teary-eyed. This place and this group of people have come to mean a great deal to me in the four and a half years I’ve been here. God used them to bring me back to Him, and my faith has been the strongest it has ever been.Then, our pastor called people who served in different capacities to the front as well as those of us who had participated in the life of our church in 2016. Everyone except the people who worked at the media desk ended up front. We all laid hands on each other, and he spoke a prayer over us. It was very inspiring and did wonders for my heart. I will have to make sure the guys behind the media desk get called up next time though so my husband won’t be able to say he got out of something. 🙂

As I end this post, I want to quote two more verses from Psalm 145. They make a point of saying that we need to share all the ways we can praise God and make sure our children are also praising Him for all the works He has done in our lives. Verses 3-4 say, “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts.” May we all always look to God and celebrate His goodness!

Praying God’s blessings on you all today!

Not Broken Anymore

When we first came to the church we’re members of now, I remember how the pastor spoke of how we were all broken even him. I appreciated hearing that so much because just about every other pastor I’ve ever had has held themselves above the rest of their congregations and pretended they were better than everyone else. I knew this wasn’t true, and the blatant hypocrisy was damaging to my faith.

Over the last four and a half years though, I’ve become stronger in my faith, and I have a lot of the people I’ve met here to thank for it. I’ve learned how to give; I’ve learned how to share; I’ve learned how to study; and I’ve learned how to listen for God’s voice. Knowing that I am broken and not perfect and knowing that my Christian sisters and brothers were broken and not perfect has helped me to get closer to Jesus and to what He wants for us.

With this background, I’ve come to a conclusion that is freeing for me though it might not make sense to the rest of you. First, let me start off with what I do know. I am broken, and I come to Christ broken. I don’t amount to anything without my Lord and Savior. This is knowledge that reaches into the depths of my being. At the same time though, with the beginning of a new year, a new thought comes to me. I don’t want to see myself as broken anymore. I know it’s a dichotomy. Knowing that I’m broken while not seeing myself as broken. Like I said, it might not make sense to you, but it’s starting to make sense to me. I am perfect–with Jesus in me. I am God’s daughter no matter what. I’m gonna make mistakes, but with God’s grace and His forgiveness, He doesn’t see them anymore. That gives me such joy and a reason not to see myself as broken even though I am.

Just in case you’re wondering though, that doesn’t give me or any other person who is a believer carte blanche to act however they want knowing that God will forgive them. The evidence of God’s presence in our lives is seen by how we act and behave, and if we keep doing things contrary to what He wants from us, non-believers would be right to wonder if God is really in our lives. I don’t want people to think that of me. My goal is to have people see more of Jesus and less of me.

So, in this first week of the new year, I am excited to share my joy about not being broken anymore, and I pray for that certainty for you all as well!

God’s blessings on all of you today!

Write Despite

As most of you know, 2016 was a rough time for me and my family. I’ve realized something though. I managed to do something in the middle of all the mess. I posted in this blog every month of the year, more than once. I proved to myself that I do have something to say which I plan to carry into 2017.

I was thinking of what I wanted my writing goal to be for 2017, and I found it when I was reading another author’s blog. Chuck Wendig stated what I’ve actually been doing for this past year. “Write, despite.” I’ve written despite pain, despite sorrow and despite fear. Especially fear. Fear that I won’t be accepted. Fear that I’ll never get it right. Fear that I’ll fail at relationships and end up alone.

But, I’ve made some positive changes in the past year and plan on going in the same direction this year. The only one whose approval I need is my Lord and Savior’s. No one else matters, but Him. And it’s been by writing despite everything that I’ve understood this.

So, going forward with this goal sounds like a good idea to me. Write my stories down. Write in this blog. Write in my journals. Write to bring glory to my Lord and Savior. Just keep writing and don’t quit.

I especially liked this quote by Chuck Wendig that I’m going to end with. “Write no matter what, write anyway, and write always.” That is my goal for this year.

May God bless you all today!