I have been so blessed by YOU. Know that I am here for YOU! When I write my blogs I am thinking and praying for you and asking the Lord to give me the topics that are relevant to you. I hope and pray that I have accomplished this.
I would love to get your input so to celebrate the past year I think it is time for a contest and giveaway! In order to gain an entry into this giveaway all you need to do is leave a comment and let me know what topic you would like to see here. That’s all there is to it!
Each comment will receive 1 entry per day. You may enter once per day as many days as you have a topic to share.through October 31, 2015.
I will hold the drawing at 8pm CST on October 31st and the winner will receive a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card via email. Remember, your comment or comments will only award you 1 entry per day. I want to make this fair for everyone. You may comment every day as long as you share a topic that you want to see here on this blog. I look forward to hearing from YOU! God bless you!
Official start time Midnight October 3, 2015. Drawing to be held on October 31, 2015 at 6PM. No purchase necessary.
The following is a testimony from my friend Sara Weber who has graciously agreed to allow me to share her beautiful words. Her testimony moved me greatly and I hope it will move you too.
For many years now, and I do mean many, I’ve struggled with Christmas. I’ve longed for the anticipation, excitement and wonder that filled me as a child at this wonderful time of year. Growing up in the late sixties and early seventies Christmas was a big deal…It started the day after Thanksgiving and lasted till after New Year’s. That’s how my mom did it. She made Christmas special! There were Christmas cookies, dozens of them, lights, decorations, music, presents, and of course Santa, everything a child dreams of all year long, but during and in the midst of all this was the underlying knowledge and hope that this wasn’t it. There was much more to Christmas. Something that would or should last the whole year long.
As I grew up, I did my best to carry that “tradition” to my own family of children, and I hope I did. But as the year flew by and my children grew up and were married with families of their own, Christmas was lost to me. Anticipation and expectation were gone. Sure Thanksgiving came and decorations went up, cookies were baked, but by mid December I was DONE!!! Let’s just get this over with! I was sick to death of hearing Christmas caroles on the radio, well maybe there were a few that still could muster a fond memory or two, but Elvis’s “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” made me want to vomit up those Christmas cookies.
After my Mom died 6 years ago it got worse. I didn’t even want to put up the decorations, if it weren’t for my Emma, I probably wouldn’t have. The Christmas Eve my Mom went home to be with Jesus, was the year Bob, Emma and I were in an accident on Interstate 39, going home to be with my sister and brothers for our first Christmas without Mom. Here is where my journey begins.
As I lay in the hospital that night, with Nancy my daughter, sleeping in the chair next to my bed, I pleaded with God for the wonder and anticipation I felt when I was a child. That night I had what I think was my very first prophetic dream. I was seeing the accident, as if I were a spectator. I saw that very large, very red Mac semi coming right at us and hitting the side of the SUV, the side I happened to be on. As I watched, 3 angels appeared, not the glowing pretty white ones we see on top of our Christmas trees, but three huge strong warrior angels, they were holding back that Mac truck. The truck did hit the car with a great force, enough to pin my legs to the point of needing to be cut out of the vehicle, but I know that if it were not for those angels I and probably Bob and Emma as well would have surely been celebrating Christmas in heaven with my Mom that year. I always wondered, why three angels? Later I came to understand that those were our guardian angels. They weren’t just there for me, but for all of us.
Through the course of the next several months, God revealed to me that we, Bob, Emma and myself still had things God needed us to do. I thought to myself, but You can use anyone, why me? Jesus lovingly told me that yes indeed He could use anyone, and that He didn’t need me, but He WANTED me. Even after all this, I still struggled with Christmas! I must be one of those remedial learners, God has to say, OK, let’s try this again.
So fast forward to this year. Several months ago I started asking God to circumcise my heart. To cut out the iniquity in me, the sin nature, to make me Holy even as He is Holy. He revealed to me that my heart was hard, with many layers, much like a quarry, and He was going to have to dig through them one by one to reveal to me the hurts, forgiveness, and bitterness I had pushed down and paved over time after time for countless years. I needed to look at them and release them to Him the one who could release me from the bondages they held me in. He told me, “This will be uncomfortable and painful at times, but if you REALLY want what you are asking for it must be done”. So I pressed forward and gave up the ground I had been holding on to and protecting all of these years. Heavy equipment was involved and the excavation process had begun.
As He dug down deeper and deeper this Christmas issue came to the surface AGAIN! He asked me gently, “What is it that you want to do with this?” My reply was the same. I want the wonder of Expectation and Anticipation I had when I was a child. He again gently said “And what does that look like to you?” I said it looked like downtown La Salle, all decorated with red and green lighted lamp posts, the lighted garlands that were strung across the streets, the shops decorated with tinsel Christmas trees, and snow! Yes, there had to be snow! He smiled at me and began to dig again. He quietly asked me, “Is that REALLY what you want? or do you want MY wonder, expectation and anticipation?” I reluctantly said “I want what You have for me.” As I laid down MY desires for His, He showed me as He spoke to me. ” What you desire does not come from these memories, they are wonderful memories and I don’t want you to forget them, they are part of you. What you really want is the Wonder the shepherds had on the night I gave Myself to be born a human. Those shepherds, had lost hope too. The Father had been silent for four hundred years! Anticipation and expectation was reserved for the most devotedly faithful. They still had a glimmer of hope in the prophetic words of long ago. But then angels of light broke through the darkest of night and sang a song of HOPE! Fear not, the Messiah has been born! GO, see for yourselves. Worship the new born King! The king they believed would rescue them from their immediate bondage.
Yes Lord, I know that, but…………Not saying a word, He smiled at me and went back to digging. As I stood there puzzled I saw it, there in the distance, beyond the manger. Ultimate love, hope, anticipation! Stretched out on a cross! MY Jesus, beaten, bleeding and dying, FOR ME!
As I fell to my knees, He left his digging and came to me. “You see Sara, I wanted you to have My very best, but I couldn’t as long as you were holding on to your own ideas. We needed to dig through these layers so you could “see” with your heart what your Mom taught you in your mind. Before tinsel Christmas trees, before snow, before the manger, before the first star twinkled in the night sky, before there was light at all, the decision had been made. The Father and I planned it all! I was to be the HOPE, the ANTICIPATION and the EXPECTATION for you and all mankind. It is My gift to you, you can’t buy it or deserve it in anyway, You just have to accept it!”
So here I am this Christmas, knowing Jesus has many more layers to dig through to make me Holy as He is holy, but with a new Hope, a new Expectation, and a new Anticipation. Now that I’ve seen it I can’t stop seeing it!
As I look back over the last year and remember the messages that have been delivered from this pulpit, God has prepared my heart to for this moment. This Christmas holds new meaning for me and I pray that all of us can see beyond the manger to the cross and the hopeful, anticipation of celebrating Christmas with Jesus for all eternity.
Depression is not a one size fits all topic. It looks different for everyone but people who have struggled with depression can find common ground in many of their experiences. Today I invite you to take a peek at a time when I was very depressed and what I did to begin to turn my situation around. The following is from my own personal journal:
“I am so discouraged today. I feel like my life is going down the toilet. God seems very distant and I feel like I have been dropped into a ditch somewhere and left to rot. Who am I to think that I should get special treatment from anyone or think that anyone should care or want to sympathize with the fact that I am struggling today? I am at the end of my proverbial rope and I cannot see any hands this time reaching to pull me out. I don’t know what to do, what to think, what to feel, how to respond. I just know that I am a walking zombie right now. I am going through the motions of life only because I am familiar with the day-to-day schedule. Everything I do is only achieved because I have been doing it for so long that it is a habit. I get up, I go to work, I go home, I make sure all my family is home at the appointed times, I cry, I sleep and I wake up to do it all over again.
I don’t know. I just feel like my guts have been ripped out of my body and strewn all over the place and I can’t put it all back together. I feel hopeless and miserable. The only place I feel like I have any control is at work. Why is that? How can I possibly keep my head on at work and then lose it on the way home. Hello! Can someone hear me? Can anyone hear my pain? Can anyone help me? I doubt it sincerely. The only hope I have is God. And He is even distant right now. Or at least that’s how I feel. But it could be my fault too because maybe I’m not listening for Him as closely as I should and maybe I can’t be still long enough to know that He is still in control even though I can’t feel His presence.
My mind just races with all these thoughts and I can’t make them stop. Maybe that is why I can’t hear the voice of God when He speaks. But how do I stop the voice in my head. I mean it’s me, it’s my thoughts, it’s my concerns, it’s my pain, my memories, my logic trying to make sense of it all. It’s me and how do I stop me? How can I flip the switch on my thought processes to make them work differently? I can be talking about one thing and thinking about a totally different thing. It’s ridiculous. Then of course when I talk about anything in my life, here comes the flood of tears. Who wants to hear me talk? Who cares that I cry all the time? No one cares. I used to have friends, not many but a few that I could actually call friends but they have all disappeared. Why is everyone so afraid to ask me what is wrong? Why is it that I can ask someone about their problems but no one can ask me? Why is it that when someone tells you they want to be there for you, they disappear when you really need them? Why say that at all? Why can’t I be like some other people and just not care? Why do I have to care about every single thing and person in my life? Cause of course no one cares about me or thinks about me. No one wants to really ask me, How are you? And actually expects a truthful answer.
I know I am rambling today and I don’t know why. I guess I just feel that maybe if I put this out there in print that I will be able to overcome the pain I feel every day. I am so out of sorts. I am so disorganized and there are so many things I have to take care of so that I can actually maintain.”
During this time of my life I was very much isolated and when I say isolated I mean I lived in what I call “a turtle shell” I poked my head out just long enough to take care of my responsibilities but I refused to allow anyone inside my little shell world because it was not pretty at all. I didn’t allow anyone to get close enough to me to know that I was struggling. I knew how to go through the motions of daily life but inside I was dying. Since I have always kept a journal and I really truly loved to help other people, there came a day that I decided that I needed to be by own advocate and so I began a series of letters to myself as though I were a friend. I had read in 1 Samuel 30:6 how David encouraged himself in the Lord.
1 Samuel 30:6 King James Version (KJV)
And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God. (emphasis mine)
David was a man who knew about depression. Have you read any of his Psalms lately? Have you read about all the things that he went through before and after becoming king? When you are done reading my blog today I suggest that you go read about David, you can start in 1 Samuel.
Now, after I read that verse and heard some teaching on the verse as well I decided that I needed to try something new to encourage myself in the Lord. I began to write letters to myself instead of just writing in my journal. You might think that is weird but hey we all do weird things sometimes. I will share just a little bit of the first letter I wrote to myself.
“Girlfriend you have been carrying around way too much baggage and garbage and it is time to get rid of it all. I know that you have been through so much that has bruised, scarred and maimed you but how long are you going to let those things define who you are? When are you going to bust through that shell once and for all time and start letting people see you for who God made you to be and allow them to love you and be there for you and be your friend. Look around you dear one, what do you see? Do you see emptiness and sand like you once did? Do you see someone trying to destroy your self-worth and your very character and personality just for their own gain? Do you see egg shells? Do you see darkness? What do you see? You might not be able to answer that question right now but here is what you should see…A single road, a step, a path and it is leading to one place…it’s leading to Jesus Christ and the Light that you should see is your Heavenly Father showing you the way….”
I will end there as the last sentence was the key for me, this paragraph was the beginning of me learning how to encourage myself in the Lord. It was the beginning of me learning how to firmly fix my gaze on Jesus Christ and truly allow Him to begin healing me from the inside out.
Answer me quickly, O Lord, my spirit fails; Do not hide Your face from me, Or I will become like those who go down to the pit. Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; For I trust in You; Teach me the way in which I should walk; For to You I lift up my soul.
To be continued…
I can’t remember not being depressed on one or more holidays in the past 20 years or more. It seemed every time I tried to shake those awful feelings of despair, loneliness and sorrow it would just overtake me. One Christmas my brother called me Scrooge McDuck, that was back in 2009. It was one of the first times since my brother had grown up that we were spending Christmas together and we both were acting like Scrooge McDuck! Thanksgiving was another holiday that always caught me in the grip of depression. No matter whether I providing a meal for my family or spending it with another family that graciously invited me to spend the holiday with them, I was miserable. Yes I smiled and tried to hide my pain but the reality of it all was ~ depression was my best friend.
Depression has been a constant in my life from a very young age. My mother also suffered from depression and for all I know it could have been passed down to me from her. However, I am sure that the source of my depression was from the deep, hidden wounds that began to build a cement wall around my heart from a young age. It was my way of protecting myself from others or so I thought. It drove me to a place of deep isolation where I was hidden in plain site and yet I was deeply lonely and desperate to reach out to those around me who appeared to be safe yet I couldn’t trust, no one could be trusted in my mind.
On Thursday November 27th, Thanksgiving 2014, somewhere around 4pm it hit me that I was not feeling depressed at all! I was actually quite happy and content. I cooked myself a nice meal of spaghetti, collard greens, corn bread, candied yams and pecan pie. My son was home with me part of the day but we really weren’t interacting much and I was very content with that as well. I started to think about all of the holidays that I’ve spent being sad and depressed. I began to pray about why all these years I ended up in that miry pit of depression. My mindset used to be “today is just another day when everyone else has something to do besides me”. Unfortunately that is what I passed down to my children because we didn’t make our own traditions for the holidays. I didn’t know how to make new traditions with my family because I was so locked inside my own misery. I remember trying to make things different but it would never turn out as planned and at the end of the day I would beat myself up because I had failed again.
I spend some time really pondering this whole dilemma and I think I may have discovered the problem – memories have power! I have some really bad memories from different holidays that I revert to when the holidays approach. I don’t think I was doing it consciously because I could never figure out why I kept falling back into the same pit time after time, year after year. Quite frankly the time from mid-October until the first week of January was usually the time I spent in full blown depression. My doctor called it seasonal depression and put me on medication. Maybe he was right but I think the reality of the depression was more about me re-living the bad memories from my past. One would think that after being away from abuse and living in a safe environment that it would move me to want to create new fun memories with my family. Not me, nope, I succumbed to the feelings and the memories instead.
This year will be different. This year I refuse to allow myself to go back to that pit of seasonal depression that has ruined almost every Thanksgiving and Christmas that I can remember. No way, this year I am going to rejoice in the freedom that I have because my Lord Jesus Christ has picked me up from the miry clay and set my feet on SOLID ground. No more living on shifting sand! No more crying over things I cannot have or control! No more phony smiles hiding my tears! NO MORE! NO MORE!
I praise God Almighty today for the freedom I have found in Christ Jesus! I know that I have had a horrific past that I lived through and there were many ruined Holidays but I don’t have to re-live those memories every single year! I will press forward and renew my mind through the reading of the Word of God, the Bible, every day! I will pray and sing praises to Jesus for all He has done for me and YOU! I will find ways to be there for people who are still struggling with the pit of depression and I pray God will use me to speak joy and peace and love into their lives. I will walk boldly with my head held high knowing I have peace within because of the Holy Spirit that resides in me. No more depressed Holidays for me. Thanksgiving 2014 was just the beginning!
Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me and heard my cry.
He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay,
And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
How may I pray for you today? Please go to my prayer page and send me a request. God bless you and thank you for reading my blog!
“Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.”
With all the serious topics I have been writing about, I prayed and asked the Lord if I could do a fun blog. He led me to a blog that I wrote 8 year ago and I feel led to share it with you today. I hope you enjoy.
Praise is not an option and I am slowly learning this truth. It doesn’t matter how I feel or if I want to praise God, I must do it because he is worthy of ALL glory, honor and praise. When Jesus was on the road to the Mount of Olives riding on the back of a colt, the Bible says that the whole multitude of disciples were rejoicing and praising God for all the mighty works they had seen. The pharisees told Jesus to rebuke His disciples but he told them if they should be quiet the stones would immediately cry out! (Luke 19:37-40)
When we read about all of the miracles Jesus performed while He was here on earth, each time the people praised God. All through the Psalms we find praises to God. With as many times as the word praise is in the Bible I think it is a high order and a mandate to us because it is in the praises where miracles happen. It is in the secret place where it’s just you and the Lord and you are just praising Him and right there – He lifts you out of whatever ugly mess you might be in and He dusts you off and sets you back up on your feet.
Without praise, we cannot enter this place of safety and security where we are hidden in Christ. We must praise God, not because of what He will do for us but for what He has already done for us 2000 years ago when Jesus suffered a horrible death for you and me to be able to live with Him for all eternity.
Each day I learn more and more about God’s grace and I refuse to be quiet anymore and allow my circumstances to cause me not to praise because I don’t need any stones to cry out and praise my God when I am fully capable of praising Him on my own. So my prayer today is that I will always remember to praise God regardless of how I feel because to praise Him is not an option but an honor to our Lord and Savior who alone is worthy of our praise. Thank you Lord for bringing this truth to me today.