Tag: Bible


impossible


You know how things become “hip” and “trendy” so fast these days.  Like the one that immediately comes to mind (and is very much done, for the most part, so yeah, it’s old, but it was super-annoying!) is the RickRoll (<–click the link for definition & lengthy exposition of the rickrolling phenomenon).

Or that meme that you find repeatedly or in various forms all over social media and the internet in general.  Like, it become a sort of techno-folklore type of thing.  (overused memes, linked in case you’re confused about what I mean…ha!)

OR (yes, I’m getting to my point here…) like all those baby-fied Noah/Noah’s ark things.  All sorts of things…baby toys, wallpaper border, wall hangings, bed sets, play sets, notebooks, stationery…you name it!  It has or has had something that was Noah-ark themed made of it.

I never got into that.  I didn’t give my boys any things that were made that way. To drive the point home for you, check out this link!  I mean, it’s like Noah’s ark-o-rama!  GAH!

Now, the above photo depicts, among other things, some top-notch cake-decorating skills but also is representative of my point that the whole story of Noah has been turned into a children’s story at best; a fairytale at worst!  This cake is for a baby shower.  It’s adorable, don’t get me wrong.  But the theme, the actual story, whether the person who ordered it believes it’s truth or fiction, is really a little questionable.  This is from a “story” (for lack of a better word right now) about when God found the earth so corrupt and wicked that He found it necessary to wipe the slate clean.  A time when He instructed the one moral man He could find who still followed God’s teachings to build a gigantic vessel (that took over ONE HUNDRED YEARS to build, by the way) for a nature event that had never yet happened (it had never rained at all, let alone flooded!) and then to fill it with two of EVERY creature on earth (plus the extra ones God instructed Noah to take).

~blink, blink~

Can you even imagine?  That’s what gets me every time.  What a wholly unfathomable idea it all was…

I can remember when my boys were young and we were homeschooling when we came to the scripture about Noah.  Often, I’d take the boys outside to read the Bible to them and we would talk about what we had read.  I can recall how it just hit me suddenly what a gigantic faith Noah had to have.  I mean, at that time, the earth sort of “watered itself”.  The dew was sufficient to create enough water to sustain all the vegetation in the world and even to supply all the people with enough water.

I’m drawing from my reading of Many Waters, by A Wrinkle In Time author, Madeleine L’Engle.

The Wrinkle in Time Quintet Boxed Set (A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, An Acceptable Time)
(I love this series of books and recommend you give them a read if you haven’t already!)

 

Ahem!  So when I say that, I mean that in Many Waters, the imagery was that of a dry, arid atmosphere.  Like a desert, I guess.  And scripture doesn’t indicate if there was a body of water nearby, so I really don’t know if they could, at that time, even imagine what sort of thing was about to happen or why in the world they would need to build such a “contraption” as the ark.  Who knows?  Perhaps they had never seen any sort of boat before?

I tried to get across to the boys how HUGE Noah’s faith had to be for him to just go ahead and do what God told him when he had never seen or even heard of rain or a flood before.  I told them it would be like God telling them to build a gigantic whatchamajigger (because they wouldn’t know whatever word God would use… they wouldn’t understand what He was talking about if they’d never seen it before, if it had never even happened before) because purple, singing flowers were going to fall from the sky.

Seriously.

What if God told you something like that?  Don’t you imagine it was along the same lines with Noah?  I can almost imagine this sort of conversation happening…

“Yes, I’m going to send water down from the sky.  Yes, I know it usually appears on all the leaves.  But I will…yes.  Yes, I know you’ve never seen water come out of the sky before, but I am going to do it that way this time.  Yes…enough to cover the entire earth.  Yes, Noah, I know you’ve never seen that much water in your life.  I know you can’t imagine it.  It’s okay though.  I always do what I say I will do and this time won’t be any different.  Just trust in Me, do what I ask you to and you will get to see something that has never ever happened on earth before!”

Wouldn’t it be the same way for us?  I honestly wonder if Noah even questioned what God was talking about, or maybe he wasn’t fully aware.  I really think about this thing a lot.

I really think about this thing a lot.

I mean, did Noah just trust God so fully and completely that he didn’t even bat an eye?  That’s pretty awe inspiring if you ask me.  And here I sit, questioning and wondering if God can or will help us be able to pay our bills or do something or other, and I fret and worry about it.  What a little-faith-er I am!!  I can’t even have faith that God will sustain us with the things we need let alone to do something outlandish and be considered crazy by the world just because He said to.

I had big plans of showing how various factions of society look at or consider the Ark and the whole story of Noah.  From the hostile to the mocking to the sold-out to the “adventurer/historian/myth-buster”.  There are all kinds of opinions and views about Noah’s Ark.  It’s probably one of the most visible, socially acceptable stories in the Bible, even when it’s completely wrong or based in emotion.  You may come across a representation of the ark anywhere!

Go read the account of the ark with this in mind.  Think of how they lived back then, think of what it was like to live that way and how it would be to have God ask you something like that in a time of such rampant evil and violence….

The World When Noah Was Alive….Genesis 6…

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”  ~Genesis 6:5


dealing with insecurity…


Don't think too highly of yourself, but don't think less of yourself than God does!

Hey y’all!  Hope your week is off to an amazing start.  I am running on less than 10 hours sleep today, so that’s progress! (I’m not joking!)

But enough about my terrible lack of energy these days…

We had another tremendous sermon yesterday.  This whole series has been SO wonderful and SO needed!  We all have mental and emotional stuff…baggage, garbage, whatever you wanna call it.  We all have it, unfortunately.  Some of us create our own and some have other people who create it for us, but either way, it’s not healthy and if we are having major struggles with our emotional “junk” then we can’t be as spiritually healthy as we need to be and can be!

So yesterday’s message was about insecurity.  Insecurity is defined as so:

in·se·cu·ri·ty
ˌinsəˈkyo͝orədē/
noun
  1. uncertainty or anxiety about oneself; lack of confidence.

It is unwise to think more highly of yourself than you should and unfortunate to think less of yourself than God does.

Pretty common knowledge, right?  Yeah, so what can contribute to insecurity?  One of the things Pastor Trevor brought up was the fact that we have these “competing identities”.  For instance:

the way you see “you”

the way others see “you”

the way you *think* others see “you”

the way you can’t see yourself due to your *ideas* of “you”

the way you *think* “you” should look/be

the way you *think* God sees “you”

the way God  *actually* sees “you”

Like most anything else, when it comes to reality, our minds…our self-imposed ideas of what should or should not be…our way of letting others dictate how we view things can really mess up what God has created.  We have to learn to replace our faulty, deceptive way of thinking with the truth of God’s word.

The way WE see ourselves can be really distorted by our own faulty thinking or by the way others have described us.  The way others see us can also be a distortion depending on their own individual emotional “stuff” and the way they filter information about the world around them.  If they’ve been sort-of *programmed* (for lack of a better word right now) to be negative about things, they are liable to only see the flaws in everything/one else!  If a person has been “taught” to have a low view of themselves, they are likely to not even notice anyone around them due to thinking they’re so unworthy or unwanted.  See?  Most of the times, others will see us a lot closer to reality unless we are “putting on a show” and pretending to be something we’re not.

“O Lord God, do not turn away the face of your anointed one! Remember your steadfast love for David your servant.”  ~2 Chronicles 6:42

The way others see us can also be a distortion depending on their own individual emotional “stuff” and the way they filter information about the world around them.  If they’ve been sort-of *programmed* (for lack of a better word right now) to be negative about things, they are liable to only see the flaws in everything/one else!  If a person has been “taught” to have a low view of themselves, they are likely to not even notice anyone around them due to thinking they’re so unworthy or unwanted.  See?  Most of the time, however, others will see us a lot closer to reality unless we are “putting on a show” and pretending to be something we’re not.

The way we THINK others see us is almost always incorrect.  Even more so if we have an unhealthy of our own selves.  Of course, how we feel and think about ourselves factors heavily into this.  If we are thinking in unhealthy and deceptive ways about ourselves, we will automatically believe others see us the same way.

The way we see ourselves is largely based on the ideas and ideals we have.  If we have lopsided ideas about ourselves, we’re obviously NOT going to be able to see ourselves with truth.  It’s one of those can’t-see-the-forest-for-the-trees situations.  We can’t see our true self for all the bad ideas we have, all the deceptive ideals we’ve created about who we are.

This goes along with the way we THINK we should look or be.  Almost ALL the time this is going to be due to influences around us.  The way our parents raised us or talked to us, the way our friends have treated us or persuaded us to feel/think.  Many times, it’s also clouded with lots of untruths and unfair comparisons.

God only needs one; He made me to be that one.

How we THINK God sees us can be unbelievably skewed and affected by many different experiences we’ve had thus far in our lives.

There are tons of bad theology out there about how God sees His children!  For instance, a theology that says you have to “do” certain things or “be” a certain way in order for God to love you or sometimes to even receive salvation!

I have one word to say about this kind of “religion”:  RUN!  Fast and far.  Jesus loves us where we are.  He died for us before we even knew Him.  He’s not waiting for you to fulfill a checklist of tasks before He will love you.  (sorry for this rabbit trail!)  So, obviously, there are LOTS of ways we mess up the way God actually sees us because of how we THINK He sees us.  Stop putting God in a box!

 “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”

~Romans 8:32

The insecurity in me fades when I find my ultimate security in Christ.

How can I know how God *actually* sees me?  That’s the easiest part.  He used all these people through several centuries to write His love letter to the world.  All of it is contained in the Bible.  To know God’s heart, His will for you, the way He sees you … read His word!  Once you start immersing yourself in scripture, you will begin to see His will, His guiding hand, all over your life and you’ll be more at peace when the path starts to get a little bumpy.

 

 


mind. blown.


First, Tommy came home Saturday night excited that a friend of his, the man’s family at least, were going to go to church with us!  I don’t really know any of them other than to wave, but knew there was a lot of addiction and just ‘life-struggle’ in the family.  They really need Jesus!  So we’ve just always tried to be lights, just living for Jesus in front of them, ya know?

It’s sad when people get so beaten down by life, the disappointments, the abandonment, the betrayal of it that they become hardened to the idea that love exists anywhere anymore.

living for jesus
Especially when you present some “ancient guy” Who’s supposed to love everybody the same and besides that…“didn’t he die already?”  sigh

So yeah, by the time we were getting ready for bed though, the mom texted Tommy through his friend’s number saying that she was “just going to take everyone to my church”, but thanks for the invitation.  I could tell it upset Tommy. He said that the reason they had come out (as Tommy was in his truck getting ready to leave — he had taken some auto stuff over there for the guy to paint) to ask about church was that the young teen boy, the mom’s son, I think, “has questions and wants to go to church.”  The son was just there for spring break, he normally lives with his dad.  I have no clue what sort of relationship there is other than that.

We knew they had never gone to church in all the years we’ve known them so I’m not sure what church she was calling ‘hers’, but then again, Tommy said they were both (the mom & dad) pretty buzzed by the time he left.  He said they’d started on the beers soon as he got there and, the best he knew, that was the regular evening routine.  I don’t know, but anyway, he figured that was part of the text and still said he would come pick them up, that they should go see what it was like at our church and we were sure they’d really like it.

There was no response after that.

We got up earlier than usual the next morning because Tommy had decided we’d go over there anyway and maybe if, by chance, they were up getting ready, they’d just go with us or if not, we could get them to go.

We were ready to get in the truck when he realized that he had forgotten to put Samson up.  Samson, (look in my photos down there to the left) is our big, cuddly, laid-back chocolate lab.  We’ve had him since he was just a few weeks old.  We learned pretty early on that he has no sense of direction after him following another dog off a couple different times and us getting a call that he was 4-5 miles away somewhere.  Bless his little heart.

So we have always kept him on an underground fence.  He’s been on it so long now that he knows exactly where the boundaries are and he will not cross.  I mean, seriously!  I tried to get him to walk down to Corey’s with me a couple weeks ago.  I took his collar off, walked across and he just sat there, quivering.  I called and I begged, but he wouldn’t budge.  I even tried to sorta push him across but he would have none of it!

Samson has a dog house inside a chain link dog run and that’s where he goes at night.  By this time, it is habit and normally, if Tommy dawdles later that Sams thinks he should, or he’s just hungry, he’ll bark and let us know he’s ready to go to bed!  Ha ha.

Tommy had worked all day Saturday in the shop with both his dad and Casey and then after taking the stuff to be painted out there and talking to his friend awhile, it was later than usual for him to come in.  He’d stopped and picked up some supper for himself and sat in the recliner to eat.  I didn’t realize he hadn’t put Sam up so when he was soon snoring loudly, I just let him sleep and went on to bed.  He seems to sleep a little better sitting up like that and can be hard to wake up, so when he’s sleeping soundly like that, I just let him sleep there.

Back to Sunday morning, we came out to leave and Tommy realized he hadn’t taken care of Sam the night before.  We called, expecting him to come running, but no Sam.  I walked around to the front porch, even though it’s unusual for him to stay out there unless it’s sunny, but nope.  Not there either.

lost pets

We only have a smidge over an acre here, so it’s not like he had a lot of other places to go.  So Tommy went out into the shop, calling Sam as he opened the office door.  No Sam in there either.  While he did that, I walked around behind the shop, which is about the only other place he could have been out of our sight.  I feared I might find him sick or injured because that’s the only reason he wouldn’t come when called, but he wasn’t there either.

Now we were completely flummoxed!  What in the world…?  Now there was only one other conclusion, but it didn’t quite add up either:  Samson had been stolen!!  We checked to make sure the fence was working: yep, it wasn’t off or alerting due to a broken wire.  All this time, we’re making all this noise in the shop, but it’s getting later and we were determined to try to get at least the young boy to go to church with us, so we reluctantly left.

As we drove away, I began a plea for Facebook friends, most of whom are great animal lovers and told them about our missing Samson.  Many of them have met Sam and love him too, because you just can’t really help but love the big galloot.  He’s such a gentle, easy-going fella and of course, he’s gorgeous too.

Samson

Samson

So people began sharing my status like crazy and posting to lost pets groups and commenting with sympathy and encouragement and prayers.

When we got to the house of Tommy’s friend, his sister-in-law was standing on the porch.  Tommy got out and talked with her.  Apparently, the mom had talked herself out of going.  And no, she wasn’t up preparing to go that her church either.  She said no one else was up so they couldn’t go.  Tommy told her we’d be back at 10:30 and we’d all go to the 11:15 service, then.  She agreed and we left.  It was about 9:15 at the time.

We drove over toward our house, on the other side of town, and started down the roads where we’d found Sam the other two times.  Nothing.  No sign of him.  As we got closer to our house, a dear friend, Shell, called me to ask what area we lived in…she was going to drive around looking for him too.  I could have cried.  What a precious thing to do!!  I told her there was no need for her to get out when she informed me she was already leaving her house!  Bless her heart!  She wasn’t about to go back, so I told  her a couple places he could have gone and off she went.

Seriously, guys?  I have some amazingly awesome friends, don’t I?  Makes me feel SO humble and thankful!  God’s blessed me so good!

We were still driving, getting closer to our house and decided we should go turn off the fence so that if Sam did somehow wander back home, he could go in without getting shocked.  None of that even seemed feasible still, but what else could we do.  We pulled up to the shop, where the control box is and Tommy informed me he was gonna use the bathroom while he was in there.  I said fine and began checking on the Facebook activity, updating people and thanking them for the shares and concern…I was absorbed in my task so when Tommy showed up with this incredulous look on his face outside the driver’s window, I had no clue what was up.

He opened the door and said, “Look!” and pointed across the yard toward Sam’s pen…and lo and behold, there was his big chocolate butt trotting around the yard as if nothing was amiss.  SERIOUSLY!?!?  “WHERE WAS HE?!” I asked in pure shock.

“In the mower room, “ Tommy said with this monotone voice, completely disparaged.  My mouth fell open then.  Let me explain, our shop is about 30 x 60 feet with two tall garage bays, then a small office with a “people door”, when you come out of the office into the shop, immediately to your left is a staircase to our storage area, another small work bay in front of you and if you walk around and under the stairs, there’s a bathroom and at the very back, two more rooms, one of which has a small garage door where we park our lawn mower.  It’s RIGHT BESIDE the bathroom.

I was just floored.  Why on earth hadn’t he barked at all??  I mean, the boogar had not made a single sound in all the time when Tommy called him from INSIDE the shop (it’ echo-y in there, people!) nor when he got a scoop of food out for him from the tote sitting right outside the mower room door…and he still hadn’t made a peep when Tommy came into the bathroom.  He just thought, even though the chance was slight that Sam would be in there, he’d just check to be sure… so when Sam jumped up and trotted over to him, tail a-waggin’, we were just baffled!

I had gotten out of the truck while Tommy was telling me all this and Sam came over just like normal.  I bent down to hug on and scold him.  I was in the process of calling Shell to tell her we’d found him.  It was a little hard to hear her well out in the wind, but she said something about “whoopin’ his butt” and next thing I knew, she had pulled in the driveway.

We laughed and talked a bit while she gave Sam another good scolding and hugs and then we all hurried off to church.

WHAT A MORNING!  I hurriedly got on Facebook to call off the search so people were commenting back and no one made too much fun of us for finding him in the stinkin’ shop.  HA HA HA!

This morning I posted this on Facebook:

  Here’s what Geannie learned this weekend:😀
1) always check all the rooms before pleading for FB help to find you dawg. 🐶💩
2) if you still can’t find him, ALWAYS plead on FB …those people rock!💪🏼👍🏼
3) Gentle persistence pays off when you are trying to engage people for Christ. 🙌🏼
4) A bunch of stuff about my brain that I didn’t know before (& am still chewing on! Thx, P Trev -> Trevor Barton
5) 2 months is probably too long to keep a kumquat in the fridge. 😖
(I made that last one up, but I betcha I’m right!) 😂

How funny!  I was so overwhelmed by the help and concern, especially from Shell.  She went above and beyond.  I just love my sweet friends!! (she’s an Emmaus friend, by the way…they totally rock!)

Okay, so back to the collecting of guests for church…

When we got back to Tommy’s friend’s house, no one was stirring that we could tell.  We were in the process of determining what we should do, go knock, go away…what? when someone opened the door and out came the sister-in-law with a car seat and behind her a cute little blonde-haired girl and the teenaged boy.  Praise God!

We had an amazing sermon!  This series is called What Lies Beneath and it’s about how if we aren’t emotionally healthy, we can’t really by spiritually healthy either.  Our lead pastor is super-blessed with the ability to apply Biblical truths to our lives today.  He went into this in-depth explanation of how our brains work… how the neurons created connections or paths each time we learn something new.
nerves-346928_1920

The more we do OR think about those things, the stronger the path becomes.  His point was that, just like how Paul says it in Romans 12:2…

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

We CAN change our lives, our thought patterns, our behaviors by changing how we think.  He phrased it “changing our minds” which, get this, is the definition of the word repent. (read down to ‘repentance’… if you look in newer dictionaries, it paints repentance as a feeling of sorrow or regret, but that’s not the original meaning!)   How amazing is it that all those centuries ago, Paul had it right.  He described the very process that our brains use to change how we live, how we act and how we think!

I was really blown away by how the Bible really does tell us that our regeneration, our renewal, our path to that ‘new self with the old self in the past’ after we’ve made Jesus the Lord of our lives really begins in our minds and WE must submit our minds to Christ!  It sounds so simple, but I really loved the way he explained how the brain works, how neutrons form paths and the more we concentrate on a task or thought or memory, the stronger that connection becomes.  So in the case of a bad thought pattern, the scripture 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 come into play:

 “4For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.”

THIS is how we change our lives!  By changing our minds.  Literally rewiring our minds by filling them with the Word of God and detemining to bend our will to His knowing that He loves us and wants only the best for us, no matter how it looks to our human eyes.  (that’s a whole ‘nother post about faith and trust, I believe. 🙂 )

I’m going to link the sermon series here because as of right now, they don’t have yesterday’s message uploaded, but when they do, you can get to that one here also.  Besides, you oughta listen the Week 1 anyhows.  🙂

What Lies Beneath – The Creek Church – Pastor Trevor Barton

Wow.  Such an energizing thought and I don’t know a soul who didn’t need that!  Don’t fall prey to your thought patterns, to a negative mindset, to naysaying friends who don’t encourage your faith.  Break free!  Start by locking up those unbeneficial thoughts and replacing them with the truth of God’s Word!!

Blessings

G~


update on the latest “brand new”…


Just wanted to pop on really quick and share that we are really LOVING these new groups. (if you don’t know what “groups” I’m talking about, click “new groups” and find out!)  We’ve had our first meeting at church and it was just great.
The staff worked withRead More »


harder than I thought


So I have thought for years about writing a book.

There. I said it.
you-have-one-life-set-bigger-goals
Actually, I really did say it out loud in a Bible study at my church several weeks ago. The leader asked us about what we’d do that we had thought about for a long time but just never done for lack of time or courage or whatever.

That was mine. So, after praying on it a bit, a very little bit, I just sat down and started writing. I had over 2000 words by the time I quit that day. After sort of hitting a wall, I quit for about a week and then started again and now there are almost 10,000 words and a lot of wondering, doubting and frustration.

The lady in that Bible study asked me details…she asked if I wanted to write a novel and if i had a title in mind. I answered no the first question and yes to the last.
impossible to possible
I’ve thought that a book about my life, the various medical situations and dealing with a chronic disease and depression might be interesting to some people and that it might help in some way.

Maybe you’ve figured out by now that I’m not really an ambitious person. I tried to be…back in “The Mary Kay Days”…I thought I could be a competitive sales woman. Yeah, I know…it was makeup and there have been MK ladies forever, yada yada.

I’m glad I tried that, but it definitely wasn’t for me. I feel like God probably used that time in my life to stretch me and show me some things about myself. I was so determined to be successful and it was hard and people would lie to you (not necessarily MK people, although some did, but potential customers and such) and I didn’t like the stress that made me feel. But that’s not actually why I quit, although it probably should have been. I had to get an unbelievably painful rash that made it impossible to wear clothes part of the time it hurt so bad. Then during all that, I developed a worse sensitivity to strong odors and chemical scents. Being all up in someone’s business while they are wearing perfume was no longer an option for me. I’ve spent the past year and a half dealing with all these new allergies and sensitivities, getting rid of chemicals in the house and all that. I really feel like that was God’s way of saying, “STOP” with MK. And ultimately, I had no choice.

One thing it did for me was make me have to set goals, which is something I had never done before. Honestly, other than small ‘to-do’ list type stuff, I’ve never set any grand goals in my life. I’d never really been encouraged to and I didn’t know how.

So like I said, this book thing has been in the back of my mind for probably fifteen years. It was like a joke I had with myself. I’d never told ANYONE about the idea because it seemed so ludicrous. So when I had to say it out loud, it kind of made it become a real possibility. I mean, I was sitting in a room with a doctor, a pharmacist, a teacher and writer, and several other women who had careers and families they were juggling. I felt so completely like the one thing that’s “not like the others…one of these things just doesn’t belong” (sorry, I had a Sesame Street flashback there) For me, doing this…
A list of my goals...yeah.
is terrifying. I become paralyzed and my mind goes blank.

But then I think wouldn’t it be encouraging for other people to know that life doesn’t have to end or be miserable when you have diabetes? Wouldn’t it help folks to know you can overcome the depression, even if it sometimes gets the best of you, you can still win? But there are many other things that have happened in my life and all those tend to work their way up through my story.

There’s the hurt and struggle of not being “the favored child” at home. The obvious preference given to my sister over me since we were children. There are the years, three or four of them, when my father’s preacher friend moved his family to our town and his son molested me repeatedly. And I never told anyone. Those are relatively minor things, I guess. I mean, in the big picture they are just a petty brushstroke, but they have made me what I am. They have shaped how I think and feel and how I see myself and others. I just imagine that finding out some of those things after years and years might be hard to take or hurtful.

Then there’s the act of actually putting into words the feelings, the hurt and wounds I carry. The reality of how my family will feel if they ever read my book. Thoughts like, “Do I leave out things that really matter because I might hurt someone’s feelings by telling how they hurt mine?” and “Do these things really even matter now?” go through my mind and now I’m once again stuck.
Should I be the bear or the bunny?
Fear speaks loudly in my mind… like I’m just wasting my time, why would anyone care about what I have to say? Even if I finished the book and by some miracle it was published, what kind of mess would it create with my family if they read it? Is telling MY story worth possibly hurting someone I care about?
analysis-paralysis
Well, no, of course not. But then I think, Should I omit things because someone else might potentially have hurt feelings? Even when it’s true? Even when I’ve actually toned the whole thing down a lot already? When I’ve left out details that would make it sound a lot worse to others?
I used to be indecisive, but now I'm not sure.
Argh! I drive myself crazy with these things!

I’m not sure what I will end up doing. I will keep working on the draft when the mood hits me, I guess, and see how the Lord leads me. He will have to direct me because I am completely stumped. I feel like the book could be so much more than just “how I live with diabetes and depression”…I want it to show the hope that I have in Jesus and to relate how it is ONLY by my faith in Him that I’ve made it this far. I want the book to reflect the life He offers, the peace He gives…but I feel like getting to that “chapter” is oh-so messy.

I just don’t want this to be true of me….
Indecision destroys dreams.


the good old days


That might not be the best title for this post, but I have a lot on my mind and it has to do with trying to “get back” to the way things once were.

Of course, I know “you can’t go back home” and this isn’t about trying to reverse time either physically or emotionally. This is about rebuilding my spiritual self.

WARNING: it’s about to get real up in here…brutal honesty about myself forthcoming.

More than a decade ago, there was a time when I absolutely LOVED spending time reading my Bible. I would get up at least an hour before everyone else to read and pray and journal. I guess that was maybe the second time I ever read all the way through the Bible, beginning to end. But this time, I took notes. I had a couple of notebooks full of thoughts and scriptures and prayers. I don’t remember what spurred me into this wonderful period of just loving my time with the Lord, but it seems like so long ago and I don’t know how to recreate it again.

Something happened. Somewhere along the line, something just happened. I honestly don’t remember what it was. I don’t know if something happened emotionally that sent me into a tailspin or if it was that I got physically sick and fell out of the routine. I just realized one day that, hey, I used to spend a lot of time in The Word…what happened?

I wish I knew. I have been trying, half-heartedly, I admit, for the past couple of years to get back to that place where I loved spending time reading and learning about Jesus.

Our pastor just did an amazing series of classes, four weeks, on how to have a devotional time and how to pray. Seriously, it was awesome. I had such high hopes that it would kick me into action, but it hasn’t seemed to do that. Even though I learned SO much, it just didn’t seem to do whatever it is that I need to reawaken that desire for The Word.

I don’t know about you, but being saved at the tender age of eight in a small Baptist church in the seventies, I didn’t get a discipleship class. I had never even heard of such a thing until my kids were in their teens! Did they not exist back then? Are they something new that just came to be in the past couple decades? Maybe it was because I grew up in a Christian home? Or maybe our little church just didn’t offer them for some reason? I don’t recall any other people having a time of mentoring and “lessons” about how to be a Christian after they were saved. I often wonder now why that wasn’t just a routine. I mean, even when I was part of larger churches, there were no such ‘classes’ for new Christians.

That’s something my pastor spoke about in his prayer/devotional classes. He said he felt like he’d failed for not thinking to do something like these classes sooner. He spoke of a couple who had spent hours each Friday evening years ago with him and his wife, sharing with them the things he was teaching us. What a blessing that must have been!

Maybe that’s the issue with me right now? Maybe, since I’m in a place where, having been “a Christian”, in church, ‘serving the Lord’ for so many decades now, and I’ve honestly just grown cold, satisfied, complacent…maybe that’s why I’m finding it so hard to rekindle my fire? To regain my thirst for Jesus? Maybe if I had had some training or at least some guidelines when I was a brand new Christian, or even a few years later after I was a bit older, maybe then I would be better at this?

As it is, I feel like a failure. I have to MAKE myself sit down and read my Bible and I feel at a loss for anything to write in my journal and praying? I have never been very good at that.

I learned from my pastor some great tips for how to just pray from scripture though…and how to keep a separate prayer journal or list. How to read scripture, aloud, emphasizing a different word each time. Like this: Genesis 1:1 King James Version says, “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.”

And so, you would read this aloud, giving emphasis to a different word in the verse each time. Try it and see how it draws out the meanings and changes what the scripture says to you. (yes, it’s important to do it out loud…I know, it feels weird, but just try it.)

IN the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.
In THE beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.
In the BEGINNING, God created the heaven and the earth.
In the beginning, GOD created the heaven and the earth.
In the beginning, God CREATED the heaven and the earth.
In the beginning, God created THE heaven and the earth.
In the beginning, God created the HEAVEN and the earth.
In the beginning, God created the heaven AND the earth.
In the beginning, God created the heaven and THE earth.
In the beginning, God created the heaven and the EARTH.

I got so many things out of the classes that are honestly very helpful, but I just don’t seem to be latching onto them or finding any excitement.

He also taught us that doing these things has nothing to do with our feelings. That we should study and pray even when we don’t “feel like it”. So I am trying.

Right now, I have this cool little graphic that I’ve been using. 30 Day Thanksgiving Scripture Writing Plan

Isn’t it awesome? I had never seen or heard of anything like this before. And I’ve started using it, although I sometimes end up doing a couple days’ worth in a sitting, but so far, I’m keeping up with it. I figure if I can’t “feel” the excitement that I used to for God’s word, at least I can write it out each day until I do feel it again.

Is that a good plan? I don’t know. But if you search for “scripture writing plans“, you will find pages like this for each month. I plan to try and keep up with this.

my scripture journal

I just finished writing half of Psalm 136 where every single verse ends with the words “for his mercy endures forever.”

That’s good to know because I sure need it these days. Even if I was enthusiastically devouring scripture, I would still need His mercy every single day.

If you have suggestions or ideas for ways to reignite a hunger for studying God’s word and spending time in prayer, would you share it with me? Let me know if you’ve ever used a writing plan like this or if anything here helped you.

Maybe learning from you or hearing that you are progressing too will help me get back to “the good old days” when I had a deep thirst for God’s word!

I thank you in advance for sharing!

Deuteronomy 31:12“Gather the people together, men and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the Lord your God, and observe to do all the words of this law:”


why we don’t “do” halloween


First of all, let me say that I am not condemning any of my Christian friends who are posting pictures of their kids dressed up in costumes and preparing to help at their church’s “Fall-Festival/Carnival/Whatever” alternatives for Halloween.

This is just MY opinion and the reasons behind and the way we got to skipping Halloween.

Halloween

My two sons are grown and married now, so this is ancient history. But the subject of Halloween and whether to do or not to do it came up with a good friend who has small children and is facing the same questions I did at this stage, so in light of the season, I thought I’d share with you also.

First, some a-little-more-than-ancient history (we’re talkin’ stone age here) my birthday is the day after Halloween. As you probably already know if you’ve visited here before, I’m also a type 1 diabetic for the past forty-some years. Me and Halloween had issues, okay? We celebrated it when I was a kid growing up in a Christian home. Most often, it was combined with my birthday. I both loved and hated it. Loved the dressing up (I often made up my own costumes, so that’s always fun) but hated collecting a bunch of goodies I couldn’t eat. I was often the very sickest each year because of stinkin’ Halloween/birthday because I could always figure out where the stash was hidden or would overdo it on birthday treats. What can I say? Such was the life of a child with diabetes in the seventies. It was a lot harder to figure how to dose to cover candy and other treats. But I (hugely) digress…

My boys are four years apart. When the youngest was still a toddler, we always dressed them up in very non-scary costumes. I had the crayon, lion, Mickey Mouse and scarecrow costumes from my eldest that my baby son just had to wear, of course. We didn’t think much about the consequences of participating in the traditions. Not only were our babies babies, but my husband and I were babies ourselves, both spiritually and emotionally…and physically for that matter. We just hadn’t put any thought into how we’d handle it when they were older nor what the holiday even meant or represented.

I have seen heated and ugly debates online between Christians about whether or not it was appropriate or whatever to celebrate this holiday and I DO NOT want to do or start that here. PLEASE understand me when I tell you I am not looking for any division to come from this. I just want to offer you, perhaps, another perspective and give you some things to think about.

To begin, let me share the testimony my friend had found on Facebook that started the discussion between us.

A Former Witch’s View on Halloween by Carol Komancki

“I see images of Christians being slaughtered for their faith—- blood everywhere, children- young adults -grown men/women- willing to die rather then deny Christ—— it takes my breath away.
What I don’t understand is when Christians celebrate Halloween, decorate with gory bloody images, put up skeletons and images of death and darkness, without a second thought! And they will argue and debate trying to make it okay and refuse to give up celebrating that nite!
I am an ex witch, saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, when I was practicing witchcraft, Halloween was the biggest night of the year for those practicing the occult. People try to say it’s about the candy and fun, it goes way deeper then that!
The roots of this highly pagan holiday remain the same, it’s a night of death -darkness- gore—- and no matter how much you dress it up to make it pretty, no matter how many excuses you make, it’s a night to celebrate Samhein——– the god of the dead!
I don’t recall those who practice paganism coming on Christmas morning to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ the Lord of life.
Yet Christians will celebrate the pagan ritual of Halloween —–the god of death and darkness. …..
I don’t care to debate….
You can do whatever you choose —-but it won’t change the truth or the facts!!!!”

I think we all know that the origins of Halloween are not particularly good. As we often do, though, we’ve ‘tamed it down’, we’ve turned what can be dangerous into something cute and fun. We’ve said “It’s just for fun. We’re not playing with a Ouija board or anything, for crying out loud!” I have read many different articles and books about what Halloween means, what it represents and how it is diametrically opposed to all that God represents. As Christians, we serve a RISEN FROM THE DEAD Savior who’s all about LIFE. Halloween is all about death. No matter how much fun dressing up is, how innocent that is on its own, when I do it to participate with Halloween, MY belief is that it ceases to be innocent.
occult

So our experience…once the boys were a little older and we were in the beginning of our homeschooling adventure, we started to discuss what Halloween was and talk about what we, as a Christian family, should do or think about it. We came up with this idea of dressing up as Biblical characters. At the time, I thought, “Sure. That’s a great trade-off. They can “witness” while they trick-or-treat.”

I went to great lengths to create this Goliath suit for my eldest and a shepherd costume for the youngest. The shepherd was easy. We even got a patch of leather and some leather “string” and made an old fashioned sling! For Goliath, I spray painted an old pair of his tennis shoes with silver metallic paint. Made him a breast plate, shield, arm and leg guards out of poster board and painted those too. I then used some of the leather strap to tie them on and drew in the details with a black sharpie. It was pretty awesome looking if I do say so myself! (of course, I can’t locate a photo of it to show you!)

The day finally arrived. Hubby and I headed out with the boys, armed with a couple weeks’ worth of studying the story so they could tell people about who they were and many discussions about why we were approaching Trick-or-Treating this way. They were so anxious for someone to recognize who they were, but no one had a clue. Most of them would ask, as people usually do, but when the boys told them, almost every single person just got a blank look on their faces. No one even knew who David and Goliath were and the one time our eldest tried to explain, the person wasn’t interested. Once he said, “They are people from the Bible who…” the person just sort of cut him off and proceeded to do something else. The youngest didn’t really perceive what had happened, but our big boy? He was certainly disappointed and my heart hurt for him.

Besides this awful experience, there was everyone else’s costumes. Most all of the other ones we saw were gory, monster-y type of costumes. Some of them were really hideous with lots of bloody guts and such. I could tell the boys were a little shocked, if not scared at the sight of them. I felt like it was something we shouldn’t be exposing them to.

I was rethinking my idea of “trade-offs” with Halloween. Later, it came to me that wiccans don’t show up at church for the Christmas play with their Book of Wiccan in hand, ya know? Why were we, as Christians, trying to share Jesus with people on a holiday that has NOTHING to do with our faith? Even if not all of them were celebrating “the true meaning” of Halloween, why were we trying to shine a light in the middle of a holiday with its roots firmly planted in very dark, and yes, fully evil, ideals and origins?

I’m not saying, of course, that we shouldn’t try to shine God’s light when we are in dark situations or places, but should we step into a very dark holiday, to shine it there while we sorta-kinda participate in it? While we play with the fringes of it?

That’s something I contemplated and chewed on for many years, even before this Halloween that I just described to you. After that experience, we just decided as a family that Halloween would be an extra special family-fun night at home. My kids never suffered any ill effects from not going door to door to beg candy while dressed in a costume. *smile*

jesus-pumpkin

For a couple of years, we took part in Halloween alternatives at different churches. I don’t think if I had young children now that we’d do this. The first time we did it, it was actually fairly well-done, and by that I mean that it really didn’t have a lot to do with Halloween at all. However, many people that showed up didn’t really seem to “get” that this was something to do instead of traditional Halloween activities. I DO understand the idea behind churches having these events at all…that it’s an attempt to give church kids and families a way to do fun stuff on a night when most everyone else is taking part in more dark-themed parties and such. But it’s not presented this way for the most part. Now I have also had friends or seen other churches do a “Reformation Day” event, and I’ll admit that I don’t fully understand what that is other than a celebration of Martin Luther’s nailing of his 95 Theses to the door of “The Church”. [I’ve linked some words so that you can research more if you want] This is linked primarily to the Catholic and Presbyterian churches. Because I was raised in a different denomination, this event wasn’t emphasized or really taught to me. However, when I have seen photos of one of these events, they were also dressed up, but as historical figures from that era, not as random characters or superheros or monsters. Now, that may not be the usual practice for Reformation Day at churches. This was a congregation made up of mostly homeschool families, so that might have just been unique to them, ya know? ALLLL that to say this:
halloween-alternate
I think IF a church is going to do something like this, it should be markedly different from a Halloween event. And that’s just my opinion because the last time we did this at another church, it was very disappointing to me and confusing to my kids. Don’t host a Halloween alternative event at your church and then have it look exactly like what the world’s doing, right? I mean, that’s how I see it.

Our family’s journey to really rejecting Halloween was sort of meandering and wandering more than anything. It wasn’t some decision we made all of a sudden. And it’s still kind of a fuzzy area, even now that our kids are grown and married. I mean, we still have friends who don’t feel the way we do or maybe haven’t arrived at the place we did after our own journey, ya know? But I believe it is definitely worthy of discussion and civil, loving debate. It’s something that families should talk about and decide where they stand on the topic. What is your opinion and how does it line up with what scripture says? I believe it’s something we should settle within ourselves, within our families if you have young children. The topic is going to confront you…halloween-shouldChristiansRomans 14:5 – “…Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”


love, life & how I don’t deserve either


That title though, right?

I know, I know. Super dramatic. I didn’t mean for it to be, but it’s true. None of us deserve anything good that we have.
stay married
As a Christian, I am grateful to God for everything I have. Even things like diabetes and achy, stiff joints, and headaches. Yeah, even those things.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV)
” give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

So okay, I give God all the credit for my life, such as it is. And if it is inferior in any way, that is my own doing. I long to be all that He has planned for me and I know I fail horribly every day.
embrace contentment
I’ve posted about the things going on in my marriage…the physical and emotional struggles that I have faced personally and that my husband and I have overcome together.
long-lasting-marriage
I have been reading lately about the things it takes to make a good marriage, to build a firm foundation for a new marriage, to sustain a strong, lasting marriage.
marriage
I like to think, and at this point in my life I believe, that we DO have a strong marriage. And at thirty years in, I think we can safely say it is a lasting one. I know, I know…longer marriages have ended in the past. But not ours.

After all those years of struggling to stay together, not because of a lack of love, but the inability to be physically close and now…now, we are finally learning how to be a ‘normal’ couple. A couple who isn’t avoiding physical intimacy. A couple who can actually share everything with each other. Now that we’re finally to that point, to realize that God preserved us to this point, I know that He didn’t put us together and preserve us though all this to let us fall apart now.
marriage box
It’s hard to talk to anyone about all this. Even though my therapist at the pelvic health office has been beyond amazing in helping us deal with the physical problems and almost being a ‘counselor’ to help us learn to talk about these things, it’s hard to not have others to talk with, to not really be able to tell anyone about this stuff.

I have spent so much time trying to cover up the fact that there was a problem in our marriage, to hide that there was a void where there should have been deep intimacy. Not joining in conversations and giggly, knowing glances with other wives talking (conservatively!) about loving and being in love with their husbands.

I didn’t understand the way they really desired to physically be with their spouses because for me, that was painful. The fact that it hurt made me want to avoid it at all costs, made me feel like a failure, guilty, damaged and worthless. If I tried to just “grit my teeth” and “bear it” for my husband’s sake, it made him feel bad. It made me feel like I was letting him down. (What husband wants to “make love” to a wife who’s crying and telling him to just hurry?)

Maybe you can see why I have spent most of my adult life in some stage of depression. Sometimes very deep, very dark depression. I wondered for probably those first eight years how long before he’d just leave me. How long before he got sick of it and wanted out? Once when I was desperate enough to actually say as much to him, he let me know he loved me and he didn’t want out of the marriage.
good marriage
I was pretty stunned, but grateful…and then even more depressed. I didn’t deserve him. Later, after nothing had improved and when I got desperate enough again, I told him to go find someone else. As long as no one knew, no…as long as our children never knew (because I just KNEW other people would eventually find out) that he should find someone who could fill that void for him. Someone who wouldn’t wince and cry with pain. Someone he could actually enjoy. But we would stay together for the boys and I wouldn’t begrudge him having another woman who wasn’t damaged like me.

Looking back now, I am SO SO SO thankful to God that he never took me up on that offer. Most any other man would have done it gladly I think. If he had sought physical companionship with someone else, there would have never been any healing between us. We could have never got to the place we are now, where we’re able to be a “regular” married couple, where I could be unafraid of physical contact with the man I love most in the world. This place where we are learning to heal from the last three decades of hurt, confusion, fear and depression.
marriage-on-Christ
God apparently had a plan. If we had “fixed it” our own way, how much we would have destroyed. Much the same way that Sarah and Abraham messed up God’s perfect plan (to make a nation of Abraham’s children…when he and Sarah had reached almost 100 years of age without bearing one single child) [See Genesis 18]

When Sarah chose to not believe God when He told them Sarah herself would give birth, she and Abraham decided to “help” God with Sarah’s idea to give one of her servants to him so she could “give them a child”.

Okay, now if you’re not familiar with Scripture, all this is sounding pretty far out to you. Just trust me that back in the first century, things were a little different. People had servants and polygamy was common. While Abraham just had the one wife, it was common to make concubines of servants. The prevalent reasoning was that large families with lots of sons were necessary to maintain farms and businesses and multiple wives were needed to bear all those children.

I know. Seriously, it sounds so barbaric, doesn’t it? So foreign! But even though it was NOT in God’s plan for men to take more than one wife, as usual, mankind does what it wants and God, in His mercy, works with that.

In this case, if you will read the story, you’ll find that Sarah’s “plan” was “a success”…at least by their standards, and the slave girl, Hagar, bore Abraham a son. However, God’s plan was NOT to create His nation from Hagar’s son, Ishmael, so in a few years, Sarah did indeed bare a son by Abraham. When you read the conflict that came from this tense, at-least-awkward situation and how it has ultimately affected the world, you’ll see that while God will mercifully work through the messes we make when we jack with His plans, He does not wipe out the consequences of the jacked plans.

Our world is today, several thousand years later, paying for the “plans” of Sarah and Abraham. Nevertheless, God remained true to His plan to make Abraham the “father” of His chosen people-nation.

So as I ramble through these thoughts, I am reminded that God doesn’t toss us out with the mess we make of His plan when we think we know better. He wipes off the dirt we wallowed in and sets us back on His path. He brings His plans to fruition, in spite of our meddling and gives us strength to cope with the aftereffects of what we’ve done.
bravest thing I ever did was continue to live when I wanted to die
I’m thankful to Him that my husband and I didn’t mess things up any worse than we did trying to wait for His conclusion in our marriage. We have a lot of healing to do because of our ways of “coping” all these years. How grateful I am that infidelity is not one of the things we have to deal with!

My parting thought for you is this…don’t give up. Don’t throw in the towel. If God can preserve a marriage like mine, He can save or rebuild yours. If you believe that He is the Almighty, do not discount His power in your marriage!

God’s got a plan. Try to stay out of His way!

Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”


taking on the taboo


I’ve had a couple of discussions about it in the past couple days. I saw several posts and vlogs about it lately. I know many people who suffer with, from and through it. Heaven knows I have dealt with it enough myself.

So let’s just discuss it. I feel like maybe I’m supposed to speak about it.

Maybe you’ve figured out by now I’m talking about depression. Sadly, even in the 21st century, it’s still a taboo subject. It’s still cause for shame or at least embarrassment in America.

depressed2

I’ve shared here and other places online about my own struggles with depression. I have had discussions publicly and via private message with people about it.

[DISCLAIMER: I’m not dispensing clinical advice to you or recommending you do a particular thing. I am just sharing MY experiences, MY “what works for me”, MY findings while researching the problem. You do what’s best for you, seek professional advice first and BE WELL!]

My motives are pretty simple and very straightforward. I think it’s important for people to be aware of depression…of the signs and symptoms, of the treatments, of the facts that there are many of us who suffer with it and how it would surprise you to find out how many of your friends, family and acquaintances are living with it right now.

First let’s look at what depression actually is and what it isn’t. What I have is referred to as “clinical depression” and it’s what many of the folks who have reached out to me also deal with.

    [NOTE: Please make use of the many links I have put in this post. (the first one is in the previous paragraph!) If you don’t live with depression yourself, at least be educated enough to understand and help those around you who are living with it. I guarantee you there are more than you’d think.]

Clinical depression is that “black cloud” that sticks with you. It’s a “sadness” that you can’t explain or shake. I find that the best way to explain it to those who don’t understand is that I KNOW without a doubt I have MUCH to be thankful for,
I K-N-O-W it. But I can’t make myself be happy. And it’s not that I’m overtly sad or anxious. It’s just an indescribable inertness, if you will. A complete lack of energy, or perhaps an inability, to feel joy.

Depression

If you read all through the link for clinical (or major) depression (and I urge you to!) then you’ll see it lists the symptoms and then states “when it’s not caused by a medical condition or medication” and that’s where I depart from the medical book, as I usually do. (ha) I DO have medical conditions that can cause those symptoms. I even have a chronic disease which makes me much more susceptible to being depressed. (diabetes, to name just one) so I don’t fit “neatly” into a particular diagnosis. Lots of us don’t and that’s okay as long as you have a medical professional who can deal with that.

There are currently several types of depression recognized by the medical community. Some of these you’ve probably heard of, like “clinical depression”, “major depression”, “postpartum depression”, even PMS has its own depression called “Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder”! That last link will take you to webmd.com’s list of these with links to more info on each of them. I’m not sure how valid some of these are, but perhaps medicine is just trying to give a name to the things we deal with all the time but never know what to call it. (for instance, on the list is “situational depression”…who on this earth hasn’t experienced that before? I’m not sure the emotions tied to various temporary events deserves a medical diagnosis, but that’s fodder for another post, right?–HA!)

Let me say that I don’t want to “push” depression and make it like so many things these days, cool or in any way desirable or something to be envied. That doesn’t make much sense I guess, but stick with me while I try to explain… Like so many things in our society, people try to put labels on various people and behaviors. Sometimes to make them ‘hip’ or whatever, sometimes to make them seem acceptable. (first thing that comes to mind is how ADD became a buzz-diagnosis so quickly and then, even though it can be a genuine problem for some people, it soon became the go-to excuse for not doing your work, not being dependable or responsible, etc., etc.) I don’t want to do that here. Depression is serious. It can be life-threatening at its worst, debilitating or at its very best, it can make living feel like a burden. So it’s not something to be trifled with in any way. I guess I just don’t want to come across as if I’m just tossing the word around and diminish the real significance of the disease.

Okay, so here, I want to share with you a video by a pastor I’ve met a time or two that I really admire. For one, he’s now an avid cyclist. (Seriously, the man’s a beast on a bike!) For two, he’s an honest-to-goodness Bible-believing man of God who isn’t afraid to speak truth. For three, he’s a loving husband and father and he also suffers from depression. I already like him, but after he posted this video on Facebook, I admired him even more. See for yourself as someone with a position of leadership and somewhat notoriety goes very public with how he struggled with and then overcame the monster that is depression: Pastor Greg Locke on Overcoming Depression

As you might guess, one of the reasons I so love this video is that he says cycling helped with his depression. Of course, not everyone can jump into this the way he did. Since I’ve been watching him for years now, I can tell you that he first got “into” bike riding when he went to the Goodwill and got a bike to ride in a charity ride. From there, apparently, he was hooked. He has since done a 3,000+ mile ride (IN TEN, that’s 10, one-zero, T-E-N DAYS!!) to the Pacific shore and also the Tour Divide, an unsupported mountain bike ride from Canada to Mexico! He’s a beast, I tell you!

I don’t foresee myself ever doing such amazing bike rides, and that’s okay. I have impressed myself enough with the longer rides I have been able to do. I’m just happy to be getting out and being active because before cycling, I was pretty much a couch potato. A long day of errands was about as much activity as this ol’ gal ever got! So, praise God that I have this activity to get me moving and inching toward better health!

Okay, back to the topic at hand. I hope you watched Greg’s video. Part of what was SO encouraging to me was the discovery that someone who seemed so alive, so interactive, so “with it” would have a problem with depression. It was like LIFE-GIVING to realize that he KNEW what it felt like, knew how it felt when someone says to you, “Just snap out of it. Just trust the Lord. Just read your Bible more.” When it was all you could do just to get out of bed in the morning, IF you even did that!

And I guess that’s the most important thing I want to do with this post. I want YOU to know that *I* KNOW. If you never meet another soul who understands depression, know this… you’ve stumbled across this minuscule spot on the web, this unknown web address to this post because God wanted you to know that you are not alone. Let’s face it, that’s the only way you’d have ended up here! Ha!

Maybe, if you happen to know me in real-life or you’ve read other posts here, maybe you never imagined that I have depression. Once you start being open about it, researching and talking to others, you will find that many of us who suffer from chronic clinical depression can be the funniest, goofiest, seemingly-up-beatest (Ha!) people you know. Here’s the thing.. it’s easy to fake it for a few hours. At least most of the time. So don’t assume that someone who’s always cracking jokes and smiling could never understand depression. Often, it’s a way to cope. That doesn’t mean we’re not genuinely funny or goofy, it’s just that that part of us isn’t the strongest during the dark-cloud times and so we relish our time of being able to laugh and make others laugh, because once that’s over, the cloud is back. At least that’s how depression is for me.

Y’know, you’d think that for those of us who cope that way, since it does feel so much better to be with a few people laughing it up we would seek that out, but in reality it finally becomes too hard. It gets to be too much effort to drag myself out to be with people, to even want to be with people. The devil and my own dark place will start to tell me no one really wants to be with me. They will just wonder what’s wrong with me…why am I so pale, why don’t I have any makeup on, why am I not talking as much, etc. Then there’s the whole monologue that goes, “You’d need to shower and fix your hair. You don’t have the energy for that. It’ll be too hard to smile enough or to ‘be your usual self’ and they’ll know something’s wrong. They will think you’re weird or sick or they’ll just wish you hadn’t come. What if it gets too hard to try and you burst out in tears. You can’t let them see you cry, and you’ll probably cry. No, just stay home. It’s easier that way.”

Only a few short months ago, that conversation played routinely in my head. I stopped going to the get-togethers with some of the most dear friends I have. I’m sure they knew something was up, but I couldn’t bring myself to just say, “Hey guys? I’m hurting. I’m in a bad spot. Nothing physical, no one in my family is terminal or has died, I just feel like crud and I can’t smile anymore. Pray for me. Tolerate me if I come around– encourage me to come around because it’s entirely too easy to convince myself not to!!”

I finally just had to come clean with them. Some of the reasons were deeply personal, so it was hard to even speak them out loud. Secrets in my marriage that were decades old, but they had contributed hugely to the massive black hole I was in and at that time, I had decided to confront and seek help for that and it had stirred up all kinds of ugly. It was HARD to tell my closest friends where I was and how bad I was hurting. They still probably don’t entirely understand, but at least they have an idea now and when I say that I’m feeling “dark” and need some prayer, they are on it. They don’t hesitate to check on me and encourage me, to ask questions which are not comfortable, not convenient to ask.

So I guess my next suggestion or bit of advice for you is this…get, find or make yourself some good friends. At least one. They don’t have to be people you talk to every day or even every week. It doesn’t have to be the person you do everything with (when you DO go do something)… It just needs to be someone you can count on to see through your hiding, your coping methods. Someone who will confront you when you have slipped into dark mode.
don't give up
One last thing, there’s something even more taboo than depression and that’s suicide and having suicidal thoughts during a deeply depressed cycle. I won’t lie to you. I have been there. I’ve said before, I’m thankful to have my faith in God because I truly believe that’s the only thing that kept me from attempting to end myself years ago when the idea came to me often.

I now know that a permanent solution to a temporary problem is never the answer. It took growing in my faith and becoming solidly convinced that I am worth something to God and even when I feel I’m not worth anything to anyone, not even myself, I have to trust that God’s got a purpose for me being here. A lot of the lies I tell myself are that my family would be better off, my husband could find someone without my problems, who he wouldn’t have to worry about or care for, take to countless doctors or wake from a dead sleep to feed through a low blood sugar, who wasn’t so self-doubting that I paralyze myself and need him to make the simplest decisions… I think my kids could live without wondering if their mother is crazy, without her words that come out so carelessly unintentionally causing pain to them and the ones they love. Even when those quite loud thoughts are going through my mind every single day repeatedly, I can remind myself that God has a purpose. I don’t have to know what it is because He does. I just have to trust Him.
suicide
That kinda takes the pressure off me. *ha* So if you don’t know Jesus, I urge you to learn about Him and trust Him with your life. He will keep you safe if you will just trust Him. He’s the best friend and ally against depression I can recommend to you. He may not choose to deliver you out of the dark hole, but He will be with you in it and make you strong enough to endure it.

Hebrews 13:5“…for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.””


tempered


About the first week of May, while we were out of town for Hubby’s conference, lightning must have hit our air conditioner unit. We wouldn’t have realized it was lightning except our son’s renter called to say his central air unit wasn’t working either.

We got a guy to come and look at it. The compressor had been basically fried. Hubby brought up the possibility that it had been caused by lightning and the guy agreed, but wouldn’t put it on the estimate/diagnosis because there was no way to prove it.

It was then a matter of Hubby struggling about whether we should file it with our home owner’s insurance. It was a little infuriating to me. It seemed clearly something we should file! I love my hubby, but he can be super irritating when it comes to things like this because he’ll analyze it to death, worrying over minute things. He asked I don’t know how many of his friends whether they would file it or not. FINALLY, I got it through to him that we pay our premiums to cover damages like this! We filed the claim and set about getting estimates for replacement. The unit was so old it wasn’t feasable to repair the compressor. We had a friend from church come to look it over and got the price. We have a $1000 deductible so we started looking at how we could come up with that amount of money, thinking we could sell our old four-wheeler and get it. We decided that we’d get some more estimates so we could be sure to get as much to cover the replacement as we could. The next estimate we got was almost $2000 over the first estimate. Hubby tried to get a third estimate from the only other heat and air place in town that we hadn’t dealt with before (because the one we’d had install the unit originally did a horrific job, plus sent an incompetent guy to do a repair once) but the guy at that place apparently was just too busy to even give an estimate. It took almost four more days to get back up with the guy only to be told nope, he still didn’t have time to write up a price to install a new unit. (GAH!) He ended up going to the one place we didn’t want to deal with, and they gave an estimate of about a thousand less than the original.

We’d already sent in the first two estimates and since it was beginning to get hot without air, so the guy at the insurance company, wanting to settle quickly, estimated the two, waived the devaluation for the old unit and cut us a check that completely covered the installation of the unit in the first estimate.

God’s so good! However, Hubby had had the friend price an add-on, a duel fuel system that would switch to gas heat when the temps fall to a certain level when the electric heat pump is just not effective. That was going to cost several hundred dollars more, but our friend told us he would go ahead with the duel fuel unit and we could work out the rest of the costs.

That’s scary to me, but we still have the four-wheeler to sell if we need to, but just last night, we were able finally sell my old bicycle after trying for over two months! We got half what we paid for it, so that was great and put us that much closer to having the money to finish paying for this unit!

So now we have our awesome new air conditioner unit up and running. The house is no longer getting up to over 85 degrees during the day while the temps outside soar to over 90, not to mention what that actually FEELS like. I found out quickly that I have grown accustomed to the house being at a higher temperature than any time in the history of me. I have always been naturally a very “hot-natured” person. Back before my thyroid issue was diagnosed, it wasn’t unusual for me to be in a t-shirt in the dead of winter. I was always “too hot” and sweating. It was annoying and I always hated how easily I would feel overheated.

Now, though, I find myself feeling chilled any time we are anywhere besides the house. When they set up the unit, they set the thermostat to about 68 degrees. It wasn’t too long before I was getting chilly and turned it up to 70. Within about 4 hours, the house had been cooled, meaning the very walls and floors, et cetera, were finally cooled down so the house could begin maintaining a comfortable temperature. It wasn’t long before I turned it up to 72, then finally, after a few more adjustments, I got comfortable at 75.

That’s where the thing is set now and unless I just get super-active or exercise or something, I am completely comfortable at that temperature.

It got me to thinking that while my body becoming tempered to be comfortable with higher temperatures, that was exactly how we are with sin.

Look around. I never cease to be shocked when I am out somewhere, at a motel or some office and I see cable TV… because we don’t have cable, the commercials and news and the content of the programs always seems to shock me. The filth that spews from the screen is just sickening. I will venture to check out a new series on Hulu occasionally, and in an episode or two, sometimes within the pilot, I am slapped in the face with some terribly offensive scene, more nudity, more vulgarity, more cursing… the world is constantly allowing more. I used to get so frustrated when watching a decent program and some smutty commercial would come on. Now it’s all just filthy.

And don’t get me wrong, I know sadly, that I compromise far too much and far too often in what I will rationalize to be “okay to watch”. I try to be cautious, but I know I fail hugely.

So I guess it’s even more surprising that I even get shocked. It makes me think, “Gee-oh! If THIS is so shocking and offensive to me, what does God think?? What does He think of what I don’t find so overly shocking and offensive?” Then I get really sad and angry with myself. I know, I KNOW I let Him down much too often. There are times when I am surprised by what some of my friends watch and enjoy on TV, thinking “Oh MY! They watch THAT?” then immediately the Holy Spirit will whisper And what do YOU watch, Geannie? *sob*

So, while my becoming comfortable with the heat in my house during our 6+ weeks without air conditioning was a good thing, when that happens with our minds and hearts and the things offered as entertainment or as ‘normal life’ by the world, it is anything but good.

Be careful to what you allow yourself to become tempered!

Philipians 4:8 KJV“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Proverbs 4:23 NLT“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”