Depression, O How I Know You. O How I Hate You.

Depression.

It has been a hot topic in the community that I work, serve, and live in.

I suffer from situational depression.
Excuse me while I give a raw look at my self and maybe someone out there knows the feeling…

I was 14 when I made friends with an older woman.  She saw something in me. She gave of her time and would go walking with me almost every Saturday. Through the years, we became busy and the walks became infrequent and when I was around 18 I started therapy.

When I was in my early 20’s we started something new in therapy called EMDR. The best way my counselor described EMDR is like this:

EMDR is like looking at a train station. In the station, people get on and off the train and the the train continues on. When we have trauma in our lives it’s like the people or thoughts can’t “get off the train.” We are stuck at how we looked at things like we did at the time when the trauma happened. With EMDR it allows you to reprocess the thoughts, and allow those thoughts to get off the train and allow new ones on. You can then process them as an adult, and not as the child when the trauma happened to you. (I was a child when my trauma happened.)

I learned to think & talk to myself about truth. My therapist and I prayed before every session and if we started and forgot to pray, quickly one of us would realize it and would begin to pray. She often asked me if I was sure I was ready to face the past. I always said yes, with a lump in my throat.

Someone told me “You’re stronger than you think you are.” She was right. I have forgotten that girl that had to look into the depths of her past. I’m blessed that I only remember images and not who it was. I know that sounds weird. My therapist didn’t tell me until I was 25 (11 years of therapy basically) that I had responded to men the same way children who are molested respond.  I was terrified of men. I never thought I would marry. I could not be alone with a man. It still to this day causes me to be awkward with men sometimes. But I had such healing by the time I was 25 that I have gotten married and have children and am completely in love with my sweet-heart, my gift of a husband God gave me.

I need to backtrack though, back to 18 when I had just graduated college. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I didn’t know that I was shutting down. I had no plan. I only knew I wanted to be involved in theatre. I live in a small town and there weren’t a lot of opportunities. It wasn’t until one of my friends (from when I was 14) and I began to talk that she pointed out I had all the symptoms of depression.

Now my temperament is melancholy. I come from a long line of meloncholies. But it didn’t help that I was molested at 4 years of age. My oldest daughter is turning 4 at the end of this year and I keep praying, “Jesus, please don’t let her experience the things I faced.”

For a long time I was scared of the “man in the dark.” I remember going on vacation and I would be in my cousin’s bed or at my grandmothers and I would think, “He can’t get me. When he finds the trail, I will be gone.” I remember being 9 years old and still saying those words while laying wide awake in my cousin’s bed. It was during the years of 18 to 25 that I discovered these facts.

I also discovered the sorrow of losing a close friend. October 2008. I can tell you where I was standing when I got the news. I can tell you about the phone call I made and begging to the voicemail that the news wasn’t true and pleading with my friend to call me. I can tell you I spent 3 days in bed. I can also tell you how I gasped with disbelief when I saw her casket or how I let out a very loud audible gasp and the entire congregation looked at me. I can tell you of the countless tears I shed. Around this same time I also learned I didn’t have a high view of myself and that my heart had been torn to shreds by lies and loss.  There was a demon (so to speak) encased around my heart with his nails digging in deep. I remember the two-edged sword coming between this thing and my heart. Then Jesus used his sword to rip the demon off. He told me, “In time, this too shall heal.” He was right. I have had healing in that part of my life. Even now I think of my friend. Sometimes, at random moments, I think I see her or I’ll hear someone laugh like her. It’s the same with my mother-in-law who passed away December 2013 from cancer. I had gotten incredibly close to her.  I think these are gifts (the laughs, the glimpses,mother memories) that Jesus uses to heal us and make us remember the good times.

I tell this whole story because yes, I have experienced healing in my life, but for me depression is the thorn in my flesh. I have to continually fight thoughts of people hating me, of hating myself, combatting things said in innocence when I was a child but effected me in dramatically crazy ways, putting unrealistic expectations on myself, etc.

As a mom now I deal with so much comparison, so much anger, so much INSECURITY. God’s word is my two-edged sword. Sometimes I allow God’s Word to heal those dark places and sometimes I fight against it and allow the darkness to envelop me. It’s a daily battle. I’m a tired mother of three little ones. My husband is in chronic pain almost every moment of his life and fighting depression as well. My mother-in-law who I became very close to two died December 2013. We have family issues with relatives. We serve at church. We have a lot going on!

I am not always able to get into the Word of God like I want. I feel convicted all the time. I try to remember this is only a season. Half the time I just cry out, “Jesus help!” because that’s the only thing I know to do. Everything we touch seems to turn to ash. It is really depressing when I start looking at where I’m at. There are so many issues and it seems my sins are ever before me. I know Jesus died for me. I believe in my head every word of scripture, but it’s getting it lodged in my heart. If I could for a moment just understand the true depth of my sin for and what I was saved from, I could see the realness of eternity.

To my sisters and brothers who are ever fighting as I am, you are not alone. Please remember to have someone you trust who you can share your heart with. We are called to lift one another up. I fight the most when I’m alone. We do not have a second vehicle right now and so the kids and I are stuck at home almost every day except Sunday. Sometimes I’m able to get out for an hour or two but it’s not often. We can not transport our entire family of five. I relish the times when friends say,”Hey, can  I come over?” I grab on to that and I am probably more excited than I should be and say ,”Yes! please come!” I have found out that in serving and sharing life with others, it gets me out of my own problems. Sometimes I talk about my problems but I always appreciate when a gentle friend kindly leads me back to reality and what I have to be thankful for.

When I was pregnant with Anastasia, I had to start taking anti-depressants. I am chemically imbalanced and the anti-depressants allow me to get my head back in the game. It allows me to absorb the hormones I need instead of the depression absorbing the hormones into my body before I can use it. The medicine helps me fight against the depression. I have tried to get off of them but currently I cannot. That’s just where I am for now. I don’t think that they fix any problems but they take the edge off the drowning. It’s the worst feeling in the world when you look around and you can not get one thought straight. You can not even figure out how to clean. There are times when you can’t breathe because it’s almost like you are continually drowning. You are so exhausted that it’s hard to keep your eyes open.

I believe one day I will get this under control with the help of Jesus. Within the last couple of months I have started EMDR again and uncovering other things. I believe therapy is healing and it’s allowing me to get my thoughts straight. To see things like an adult instead of the trauma I faced. I highly recommend finding a good Christian therapist who is Bible-based. Until that day I believe that Jesus gave me the medicine to fight the good fight and the anti-depressants don’t make me any less of a Christian. Sometimes I think as Christians we feel like meds are the devil and we should be able to fight it with just Jesus. Yes, I believe that He is the one that heals but some of us need the help hormonally. We live in a fallen world. There are illnesses and there are problems we will face. Jesus never promised us prosperity or a flower garden (even if he did promise that, roses come with thorns). He promised pain and suffering just as He faced. My pain and suffering are nothing compared to the Son of God. If I could grasp that what a difference that would make.

Fellow sufferer, know that there can still be peace and love at the end of the road. That there are people who care. One such ministry is called Violent Hope. They also have a podcast up. I have thought of suicide before in my darkest moments. Just know that there is someone who wants to talk to you. Also, feel free to reach out to me. I know I didn’t cover a lot. There is so much to tell. I want you understand that it doesn’t make you less of person to call out for help. Please know reader that people do care. There is someone depending on you even though you don’t think so. You do matter. #alllivesmatter

Jesus is our greatest hope. He promised to never leave us or forsake us.

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)

Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)


 

Recently, I was a guest on the Violent Hope podcast and I talked more about this subject. You can listen to the episode here.

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Fear

Fear is the thing I’ve fought my entire life. In fact, I still continue to fight it. As a child, it was about being afraid of “the shadow man” but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve struggled with all the worries and fears that can come with being an adult. I remember the day in my early twenties when I realized that there was a problem with that: FEAR IS SIN. By being afraid I am saying that I don’t trust Jesus and the plans He has for me. Over and over and over again Jesus commands us to not be afraid. Why then do I struggle with this? What are different ways to combat it? How does it affect others around me? These are a few things I’d like to hit in this post.

These past few years have been very difficult and very good. I’m learning more than I could have without these certain experiences. In a bible study that I attended in my early twenties, I had an amazing leader who helped me discover a way to combat fear. She encouraged me to look up all the scriptures on fear and see what God had to say about it. She spent a couple of Tuesdays going over the verses with me. In reality, fear is pride. We are saying that we can do something better than God. We think we can handle the issues better than God can. We are also saying that what Christ did on the cross is not enough. That His death and resurrection didn’t make us children of God and that we can not trust Him. I struggle with fear because it’s me saying that I want to be God. It goes back to the Garden of Eden when Eve was given a choice in Genesis. Does she listen to God or does she go after what she wants: to become like God. I can never say that I would have chosen the fruit over a relationship with Almighty God because I too want to be my own god.

What are the different ways to combat it?

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:6-7 ESV)

  1. Meditate on the Word of God.
  2. Prayer and Petition
  3. Thanksgiving

The result?  “The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Also, Remember to dwell on the promises of God.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
(2 Timothy 1:7 ESV)

So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6 ESV)

My favorite passage and also why my firstborn’s name is Lily Elise (Lily for Matthew 6 and Elise for the covenant of God):

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:25-34 ESV)

The other thing I do is surround myself with positive music. I also sometimes will talk with someone older who is immersed in the word of God. They have seen more and they are more experienced and I know they pray before they speak.

How does this affect others around me. I start seeing things from my point of view and miss out on opportunities to trust God and show His strength in my testimony because I’m too busy focusing on my own anxiety and not enough on who God is and what He is doing in my life. I’m so busy trying to fix my messes that I create more of a mess and end up with tons of shame. What am I showing my kids when I’m freaking out and not acting like a mom who is filled with the peace of God? I don’t want to raise them in a house full of fear. I want to be an example for my children so they will know that what I teach them about Jesus is true. I want them to see that I trust Jesus and I am willing to follow Him wherever. I want them to know that I’m willing to be still and know He is God instead of freaking out and causing problems for them and their daddy.

My husband is amazing. At the times I’m crazy, He reminds me to look at the cross and the empty tomb. It seems that whenever one of us are battling this, the other is given the grace to lift up and encourage the other. We have a saying in our house taught by our amazing children’s pastor when my husband was a child and it goes, “I trust Jesus, yes, I do. I trust Jesus how ’bout you?” And we will make the other repeat it until they shout it from the top of their voice and they say it with conviction.

Sometimes, I remember this and others it’s a far cry from what I should be doing. The last time I looked at this was January 21, 2014…lol…here I am almost a year and a half later and I completely forgot about this post. I need it more today then I needed it then. I’ll be finishing a depression blog post soon to go along with this. So stay tuned! Praise the Lord, He redeems our souls.

My Three Totoros

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These are my three gifts from God.

These are the three that Jesus are using to break off my hard edges.

These are the three that bring so much joy and pain to my life.

I spend a lot of my time crying. (Great start to a post…don’t worry it gets better) I wonder half the time what in heaven’s name God was thinking to give me three kids so close together. I overheard someone at church tell a mom that one of my friends was smart for spacing her children. I thought well I don’t really feel like I had a choice in the matter. Seriously, both my second and third child were not planned and are a result of one night not being careful. We were not going after having more babies. Not that we don’t want more children but I could really use a break. When Micah was born we had three under 3.

My kids are crazy! For real! I think I spend half my day just trying to keep them from hurting themselves. I have three reasons we celebrate birthdays :

  1. They outlived themselves another year
  2. They outlived us another year
  3. We outlived them another year.

One example of their creative intelligence that we went “oh dear Lord help”: I had gone to the OB for a checkup and Lily figured out that if she brought a chair from the kitchen to the living room she could stand on it and open the door. My husband had to run outside and save Anastasia who was playing in the middle of the driveway. (Thank God she didn’t go any further!) He was like “I wasn’t mad, just scared.” I’m like “I have those moments almost all the time during the day. If they don’t follow me to the bathroom or another room when I leave to put something away or use the restroom. I will pray that I find my kids alive when I get back in there.”

I continuously ask moms at our church what they did with their kids at this age and I found that one thing is common: no one can remember! We have done a lot more tv than I would like to admit. I’m trying to get on a schedule and figure out things we can do. The problem with this age is every activity lasts about 5 mins before they want to dash to the next thing. I feel like I do not have the brain power to do it. They color on the walls, pee on the floor, try to “help”, and other things that I start freaking out about and get angry and yell. Knowing I have to find time to clean up another mess and not knowing when I will get to it. Jesus, keeps reminding me I can not do it on my own.  One truth I am coming to know so well :

Though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:6-10)

“For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

I fight with the fact my house is not clean. Matter of fact, I just remembered I have food on the table I have to clean off at 1am. I have come to the point that if I can get just one thing done a day I’m doing well. Sometimes I have the ability to get an entire room cleaned up and others I’m lucky to get my one thing done.

The reason I write this is because I want other moms who are in the same boat to know:

  1. You are not alone.
  2. It’s ok to cry.
  3. Call out to Jesus. It’s ok for the kids to see it. They need to know you are human too.
  4. You will screw up and that’s ok. Be humble and admit your mistakes to your kids.
  5. Remember you are being molded in the tantrums of your children.
  6. One day they won’t be on your lap and you will no longer have them this small.
  7. This is only a season.

Read if you can find 5 or 10 minutes. Two books I love and the second one I will mention I am still reading but so far in love with it are. Mom Enough edited Tony & Karalee Reinke and the second is Give them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick. These two books are helping me figure out this mom thing. As two kids are screaming, my phone is ringing and my oldest just spilled her potty all over the living room, there can still be calm.

I’ve found that if I can start letting the mess go and focus on my children, I do so much better. It’s not enough to be in the same room with them. It’s taking the time to sit with them and play, read, dance or whatever. Find other mom’s who will encourage you. The women in my church have been so supportive in giving me ideas, praying with me, and just loving on my babies. It really does take a village to raise your children. Just make sure you are in the right village.

Old Dogs and New Tricks

“Old dogs can’t learn new tricks.”

I’ve heard that phrase my whole life. Why do we associate this with people? Why do we use this term so we don’t have to change?

We as human beings hate change. But instead of resisting change shouldn’t we be heading towards change, constantly trying to get better and make better choices? I’ve had several older people tell me, “This is just the way I am. I can’t change” or “She’s not going to change and you aren’t going to change.”

Forgive me but I think that’s a bunch of nonsense. Becoming unteachable and unchangeable means nothing more than we have become “old and crusty”. I pray that I don’t become old and crusty but that I will be ever changing and heading towards my Jesus.

Now Jesus is a gentleman and doesn’t make me change all at once because that would be an overwhelming suicide mission. But He gives me little bit by little bit to work on. I will continue to work until the day I walk into His arms and wake in death to the after life with Him.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18

 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Why I Don’t Look At The Menu

I’ve heard women say over and over again:

“Yes, I am married but I can look at the menu. I just can’t buy.”

I absolutely hate that saying. I feel like it breeds contempt and dis-contentedness. I think this is why so many marriages are having problems. We look at others, but those looks become thoughts, and sometimes those thoughts lead to action. Go back to the garden of Eden and find our star player. Her name was Eve and this is what scripture says:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. (Genesis 3:1-7 ESV)

Did you note the part that said :

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

This all started in Eden. This discontentness is what we have been fighting since the beginning! Thank God that He has given us freedom in Christ Jesus. Paul says in Romans:

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:12-21 ESV)

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. (Romans 6:5-7 ESV)

Yes, I realize that it mentions Adam and not Eve. I think that we, as women, forget that our husbands have a responsibility in how they lead us. They will answer to God for us one day and we will answer for our submission to our husbands. Adam didn’t have to take the fruit. Going back to Genesis 3, we see that it was Eve who looked, desired, took and gave. She wasn’t content with her husband, she wasn’t content with her life. Think about it. Read Genesis 1-4 yourself.  Eve had everything! A beautiful home, an awesome organic grocery store, a handsome husband, a loving father in God, and she was free. God only asked her to not eat one thing. That was it, just one tree! She had her pick of anything else she wanted. Literally anything.

I can’t drive this home enough! We have got to stop putting our men next to the latest Hollywood hunk or the sexy new musicians and start having eyes only for our husbands. We need to take the same amount of energy we spend pretending what our lives would be like with Mr. So-and-So and how amazing this imaginary man is and pour that into our husbands.

We are to be content in everything. Paul says in Philippians:

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13 ESV)

I realize this is talking about provision. This is still relevant. We have to be satisfied with the life God has given us. The overall truth is that we are selfish. We want what we want, when we want it. My heart aches because so many of infidelities could be avoided. If (1) we would keep our eyes on the gifts God has given us, (2) stop looking at what someone else has, and (3) if we would wait in the presence of God and realize no man is going to fulfill all of our desires. Our hope is in Christ alone.

I want to state for the record that I am anything but perfect. God knows my own struggles and thoughts. On the days when it feels like I am the worst parent, worst wife, slacker, and everything else is going wrong, I am the first person to jump off the proverbial ledge. I wonder about what it would look like to have different things. But God reminds me to knock it off. I am right where He wants me. We can’t surprise God. We have free will and God knows what we will choose but we also have a choice to surround ourselves with the things of God. To come to His well and drink in His presence. By doing this we help keep the door shut on our enemy, Satan. He can get no ground in our lives.

Again, why do I not look at the menu? Simple, because I don’t want to give any ground to my enemy. I want to live a life that is pleasing to my Savior.

(Note: I realize some of you reading this may have less desirable situations with your husbands. I have watched several relationships over the past six years where there has been serious cases of faithfulness and fidelity. Yet, in three of these cases, I have watched God do a slow and restorative healing.)

Kissing Couples

“Gross! Get a Room!”

“Ugh, I think I’m going to be sick!”

These are just a couple of phrases I’ve heard when I’ve kissed my husband in public (or on our Christmas invite that had one sweet kiss on it and the other two pictures had my pregnant belly and oldest daughter in them).

Many people watch movies that have make-out scenes (or even sex scenes) in them. Yet when married couples give a kiss in public, the same people speak negatively of it. Shouldn’t we (who are married) be showing the unity of our marriages in public? I’m not talking about having sex or having make-out sessions in front of people. I’m talking about sharing sweet kisses, like when you are so happy to see your spouse and spend time with him/her. There is tasteful kissing. If anything, marriage should be held in higher regard than dating. Boyfriends and girlfriends should not be engaging in the same privileges as those who are married. When you are married, you make a covenant before God and man that you will uphold your marriage vows for better or worse. When you aren’t married there is nothing holding you to that person. Yet, it’s when married (and committed) people kiss that many frown.

In marriage, you show unity. I pray that the “honeymoon phase” never leaves me. My husband and I have been married for 3.5 years now. And it has been the best 5 (counting the year we dated) years of my life. I want my children to grow up knowing that their daddy and mommy love each other very much, whether by listening to one another or a kiss here and there. I want it to be easy for them to realize that we have fought for our marriage and will continue to fight for it. I want them to know that, with Christ, they can have a better and more fulfilled marriage than the one that our culture offers.

Our marriage has not been all daisies and jasmines. We have had our roses. There are thorns that grow and hurt on those roses but at the end of them are beautiful large blossoms that, when unfolded, have glowed brightly in the color of the blood of Christ. The thorns hurt, but like Paul says:

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:5-10 ESV)

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18 ESV)

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you…Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:7-18 ESV)

My point is this: I want our lives to be open (and visible) so that God gets the glory for our marriage. I want others to see that Jesus can help keep marriages together and reconcile anyone. I want to show them the key for a lasting marriage. What is this key? Forgiveness. We are not too evil for God to forgive when we call out to Him, so who are we to not forgive others in return? Are we God that we get to choose who is forgiven and who is not?

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.(Luke 6:37-42 ESV)

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” (John 20:21-24 ESV)

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:12-17 ESV)

Do you see the common thread? Forgiveness and love. We have no right to withhold forgiveness when we have been forgiven. If we want our marriages to work we must have both of these.

So, when I am out in public I want people to see the love I have for my husband. I will praise him in the quiet as well as publicly.  I am so proud of him. I have been watching him grow as a husband and father. I can submit to him because I know he hears from God. I also know that when I hear from God and tell him, he listens. One day, when younger women (either single, engaged, or newly married) look at me, I want them to see that marriage can last on this earth “until death do us part”. I want to give them hope in a hopeless world. I can only do this in the hope of Christ. When scripture says, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 ESV), it means marriage as well. Therefore I am going to continue to kiss my husband proudly in public and take pictures and act like I did when we first dated. I pray, that with Christ’s help, I never lose that passion for him.

Introvert To Extrovert

I don’t know why this has been on my heart but I need to obey and open up. I’ve been thinking about how I have changed in the last thirty years. Ever since I can remember, I was always hiding from people and being extremely shy. I mean we are talking painfully shy. When I started college back in 2001, I made a pledge to start stepping out of my comfort zone. I made a bunch of friends and thus started my journey to fake extroversion. What do I mean by that?

From urbanDictionary.com

Introvert
Opposite of extrovert. A person who is energized by spending time alone. Often found in their homes, libraries, quiet parks that not many people know about, or other secluded places, introverts like to think and be alone.Contrary to popular belief, not all introverts are shy. Some may have great social lives and love talking to their friends but just need some time to be alone to “recharge” afterwards. The word “Introvert” has negative connotations that need to be destroyed. Introverts are simply misunderstood because the majority of the population consists of extroverts.

From dictionary.com

Extrovert
1. an outgoing, gregarious person.
2. Psychology . a person characterized by extroversion; a person concerned primarily with the physical and social environment (opposed to introvert ).

I recharge my “batteries” better by myself than I do with lots of people. My husband still doesn’t believe that I’m an introvert. In reality, I just made up my mind to be a people person so that I could reach others for the cause of Christ. I wanted (and still want) to be relational. I want to love others to Jesus. We were called to make disciples. The best way I know to do that is by doing what Jesus did. He loved people right where they were at. Afterwards, He would go off by Himself to recharge with God alone. In all honesty, I tend to recharge by goofing off instead of spending time in God’s Word. I often excuse myself and say, “I’m brain dead and after being up for most of the night, I just don’t have the capacity to understand.” (note: I currently have two kids under two. Let the reader understand.)

When I goof off instead of reading God’s word, I tend to become even more introverted. I get very afraid of people and all the stupid things that may come flying out of my mouth. When I decide to give my day to Jesus, to start off with Him in my devotions and prayer time, I am much better at looking like an extrovert and creating friendships. This is because I (1) learn to be a better friend when I learn what real friendship is, and (2) have the love and compassion that only comes from having an intimate relationship with the Lord.

I remember being seventeen and watching my best friend’s mom start talking to a random stranger at a K-Mart. I thought, “How did she do that? I can’t do that. Just talk to a stranger?” Talking with strangers has gotten easier thanks to age and the four years I spent working at Family Christian Stores. At Family Christian Stores, I read all the time. I realized that people need others in the church to pray for one another out loud, right then, and not just say they’ll do it later at home. I started praying for people, out loud, which is something that has always terrified me. I found new strength and power in Christ. I started to make more friends. I even met my (future) husband at Family Christian Stores. At the time, he was just some guy who would come in and shop and I would push myself to be extroverted and talk to him.

Later God moved me away from Family Christian Stores and I worked for a theatre for a year. I learned to talk to crowds of people. (Talk about wanting to pee your pants! Oh my goodness, I wanted to die!) I began hating it with a passion but I got better giving curtain speeches. I love having material given to you to act out, but having to come up with your own lines and to be yourself is rather frightening. I’ve also done a few announcements with our Associate Pastor’s wife off the cuff at church. Looking back, there was a time I never saw myself doing that.

My heart wants to burst with all the people I see who are suffering without Christ. I still have a lot to learn because I tend to be quiet around strangers because I don’t want to offend someone. Slowly this shell of introversion is being broken open and I’m learning to walk forth in my calling as a wife, mother, friend, daughter, and leader. It didn’t happen overnight. It took me thirty years to be where I am. Though it’s a lifelong process, I believe (now more than ever) that we introverts must step up and let Jesus control our lives and help others know the saving grace of Jesus. He is the one who bought us for a price. He died so we may live. Who am I to hide that fact from another person; the opportunity to follow Christ and have such joy fill their soul; to have hope they had never experienced before?

We introverts must realize that we can be selfish creatures. It’s time to let the Spirit of God control us and help us make disciples in this world. We are running out of time.