Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Life Is Messy


No this is not my kitchen     

  I guess you could say I am coming out of hiding.  I can not tell you how many blog posts I have written in my head, but they were never written.  See, I was waiting.  Waiting for life to be ordered, together, and reach some magical place where there were no problems.  Guess what?  Life is not like that.  After much consideration, a rough summer, a year of therapy for myself, and some vulnerable conversations with a friend from college I have come to realize that my life is never going to reach the place where it is all ordered or together and as far as some magical place where there are no problems well it simply does not exist.  As far as this blog I started it because I believe the Lord led me to and at one time I got started blogging consistently and then I let one person's hurtful words discourage me then stopped being consistent.  That is kinda silly you know I mean not everyone is going to like me, my priorities, my lifestyle, my choices.  Some might not even like me or my personality.  That is okay even if some of those who feel that way are in close proximity.  Not every one will like me and I accepted that a long time ago.  I have felt this pressure to somehow change to not be considered unacceptable by this person in close proximity.  I have struggled to figure out how to be acceptable to her and still be true to who God made me to be and what he asks me to do in my life.  I cannot do both of these. You know what it is not my job to change what I do or even to worry about whether or not someone else will be pleased with what I do.  The problem is not mine it is theirs.  I had been asking the Lord where this person was supposed to fit in my life.  As I have prayed and struggled with this the Lord led me to Hebrews 12:1-3. 
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you do not grow weary and lose heart.
He led me to this passage and the Holy Spirit clearly told me that I needed to quit worrying about where this person fit.  I was then convicted that I had let this concern become so great that I took my eyes off of Jesus to figure out this problem.  The Lord clearly told me that morning to let this problem go to HIM and HE would take care of it.  My job is to fix my eyes on Jesus and run the race HE is marking out for me.  So I am.  I found peace that had been missing for quite sometime.  It is like I can breathe again.  

One of the things the Lord is showing me is that I need to be vulnerable-- he is even asking me to do it on line.  Yikes!  That is scary.  However, if I keep my eyes on Jesus then someone's negative, disapproving, or cruel words become his problem and not mine. So here I am on line obeying the Lord's command to me to be vulnerable in front of the entire world wide web.

This summer season started very rocky for us.  Our youngest son has sensory issues and we have known that for quite some time now.  He has been in therapy for a couple of years actually.  He was having a difficult time and had been melting down several times an hour for a long time even biting, kicking, hitting and nothing seemed to work as far as correcting or helping him.  I was at my wits end and it was so bad I needed a break, but there was no way I could ask someone to watch him when he was like that.  It all came to a head Memorial Day Weekend.  He became increasingly violent to the point of crisis.  Our household was not safe.  So I took him and had him admitted to an inpatient psychiatric hospital.  One of the most difficult things I have ever done was drive away and leave him there.  He stayed 8 days.  The nearest hospital I could take him to was about an hour and 15 minute drive away and so I spent a lot of time on the road driving back and forth to visit every time there were visiting hours.  The psychiatrist diagnosed him with autism.  This was something I had suspected, but had been choosing to live in denial about.  Denial is over now.  He is doing well now and is back to the sweet boy he used to be.

I was very fortunate that I  have a friend who lives in the city that this hospital is located.  Actually I went to college with her and her husband.  They let me stay at their house whenever I needed to during this mess.  My friend (we will call her Misty) let me sleep a lot and that is what I did.  However, Misty and I did have some really good conversations.  We talked about how it seems like the church is scared of vulnerability when it comes to issues pertaining to mental health.  She and I both talked about how the church has not been a safe place to admit mental illness struggles.  Often times they are considered sin or a lack of faith or some simplistic answer that does not fit the problem, sometimes even considered demonic.  I know that personally I have been given some of these answers (not the demonic one) as I struggle with depression.  Some of the things I have been told-- you need to figure out what sin you have in your life that caused this or if you trusted the Lord enough you would not have this problem or if you would just praise the Lord enough he would lift you right out of that depression.  I am not saying that sin does not cause depression sometimes, it does.  Nor am I going to say the trusting the Lord can help when dealing with depression because it most certainly can.  Neither am I saying that praising the Lord can not lift someone out of depressive episodes.  It can and does many times.

My point is that church needs to be a safe place to be vulnerable.  It needs to be a safe place to admit any and all pain.  In my experience often times it is not.  Some churches do a wonderful job and the Lord blessed me with the church we are currently in as I was able to be open and honest with this struggle.  The decision to begin taking antidepressants was encouraged when I realized I needed to make this important step.  The problem is that in most places of worship that I have been to it would not have been safe to admit struggles of this nature.  Misty has had some different, but similar struggles.  In 2 Corinthians chapter 1 we are told to comfort others with the comfort we ourselves have received from the Lord.  We can not do that if we are not vulnerable with each other.

Jesus is a safe place to be vulnerable.  He is the ultimate example of compassion, mercy, and agent of healing.  The Christian life calls us to be more life Jesus.  Therefore, we need to strive to be like HIM.  

My challenge to you is to make your home and family a safe place for vulnerability.  Then as you walk this out in your home it will make an impact outside your home.  My life is messy, how about yours?

Run the race!
Don't get weary and lose heart.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

I Found My Shield

When I was young in my faith I learned something that was particularly helpful for me and I believe is one of the keys to spiritual and mental health-- having a shield.  In Ephesians chapter 6 talks about putting on the full armor of God.  As I was reading through the this passage one day during years at Greenville College Ephesians 6:16 jumped off the page at me.

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Ephesians 6:16 NIV
At that time I really needed to know how to deal with some hurtful messages that were being given to me.  I was an upper classman and a friend of mine who was a brand new Christian was being given some teaching that was unBiblical.  So I shared Scripture with my friend.  He stopped being under the teaching of this false teacher.  This other student teaching these unBiblical teachings of course did not take well to my sharing the truth with my friend and that student lashed out some pretty hurtful accusations at me.  We all have fragile parts in us and the insults were hitting those fragile insecure places inside of me. I did not know how to handle it so I spent time in prayer and study of The Word of God.  The Lord showed me that those insults were not HIS intention for me and the Lord did not want them to enter my heart.  The Lord showed me that I needed to take a hold of the shield of faith and that this shield is there to keep those flaming arrows from wounding my heart.

That shield served and protected me well for many years.  I found hope, healing, and strength as I continued to walk with the Lord and grow in His love and grace.  Then over a decade after that incident in college I found myself in a situation where I became wounded.  I fell down and when I got up my shield was gone. Every time I got up it seemed that flaming arrows were being hurled at me and knocking me down again.  I was confused, disoriented, and could not find my shield.  After a while I stopped looking for my shield.  I hated my miserable existence without my shield.

Then about a month ago I was praying just pouring out the pain, disappointment, confusion, and heartache to the Lord.  It was at that point the Lord said to me, "Charity, you lost your shield."  I then said, "Yes, I did Lord.  I can not find it."  The Lord then said, "I have it.  Do you want it?"  I said that I did and HE gave me my shield back.

At that point I took the shield, got behind it, and am now resting on God's shoulder while he heals me and restores wholeness.  I know the shield is working too because I have had flaming arrows of judgement, gossip, nonacceptance, unkind messages verbal and non verbal, and others shot at me.  None of the arrows were able to wound me because the shield the Lord designed specially for me took and extinguished them before they got to my heart and soul.  Life behind the shield is one of peace and well being all of which is being restored to me as I stay behind the shield.  I hope to never lose my shield again.

Life behind the shield is so much better as I run the race marked out for me as Hebrews 12:1 talks about. My race looks different from the race of someone else as the Lord designed us each to be unique with different gifting, abilities, and callings.  I will talk about how each of us is called to run our own race in another post one of these days, but for now we need to remember to get behind the shield of faith so we can grow, heal, and run the race.

When You Are A Soldier
by Stephen Curtis Chapman

When you are a soldier I will be your shield
I will go with you into the battlefield
And when the arrows start to fly
Take my hand and hold on tight
I will be your shield, 'cause I know how it feels
When you are a soldier

When your tired from running 
I will cheer you on
Look beside you and you'll see you're not alone
And when your strength is all but gone
I'll carry you until your strong
I will be your shield 'cause I know how it feels
When you're a soldier

I will be the one you can cry your songs to
My eyes will share your tears
And I'll be your friend if you win
Or if you're defeated
Whenever you need me I will be here

When you're lost in darkness I will hold the light
I will help you find your way through the night
I'll remind you of the truth
And keep the flame alive in you
And I will be your shield
'Cause I know how it feels
When you are a soldier  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Marriage in difficult times (part 2)

In part 1 of this post I shared with you some of my journey during the time when my husband had debilitating seizures.  I still can not thank the Lord enough for using brain surgery as a tool to heal him.  I shared how this was hard on me as a wife and about the day I almost left my husband.  Then I shared 2 ways to support the wife of a disabled husband.  The first is to not judge her.  The second is to offer her a listening ear.  Today I will share three more ways to be supportive.

The third way I eluded to in the first suggestion and that is to offer practical support.  We attended a couple of different churches during this time and experienced differing levels of support.  I remember when my water broke when Simeon was born.  I called around to various church members asking for help and no one would help me.  Or toward the beginning of our seizure journey being told that I was responsible for my husband's seizures because of some sin I had committed by one of the elders of the church.  Then I remember toward the very end of that season we were at an extremely supportive church.  While attending there I remember a day while I was at work Vic called to tell me they had run out of milk.  He could not drive and I was going to leave job number 1 that day (Friday) and would be at job number 2 for the weekend (Sunday).  I worked all day and overnights.  Vic could not drive so that meant my family would not have milk for 3 days.  So I called the church.  A church member brought my family milk.  Then when we moved 4 days after Vic's brain surgery 10 church members came to help me and our family from out of town that was there helping me.

The wife to a disabled man needs practical support and help.  She really needs the Body of Christ to be hands and feet.  She will likely need this for the long haul.  Think about the support often extended to a woman who has had a baby.  I know at the churches I have attended there is a schedule to bring meals for the family.  That is helpful.  Offering the wife of a disabled husband a meal would be a great support.  Here are some other practical suggestions:
-- help her by offering to help clean
-- help her by offering  to run errands
-- help her by offering to watch the kids so she can have a break
-- help her by offering to mow her yard or help with yard work
-- help her by offering to shovel snow in the winter
This list could go on so ask her if there is any practical ways you can help.

This is the second part to the post I believe the Lord is asking me to repost.

I would say the most important way to be supportive to the wife of a disabled man is to pray for her and with her.  Prayer is the key to everything.  The Lord is ultimately the one who will strengthen and sustain this woman so pray for her.  Prayer I am convinced is what brought us to the right doors for my husband's surgery and ultimate healing.  There is not a lot to elaborate on for this point remember to pray for this family.  Remember that prayer changes things.

The final way to support this woman is going to sound like a contradiction--Determine your boundaries and what you are not going to be able to do for this woman.  I mentioned that this would sound like a contradiction, but it truly is not.  Remember her situation could go on for years or indefinitely.  Therefore, she is going to need support for a long time.  She is also going to have times of feeling total desperation and she might lose sight of reasonable requests-- not because she is trying to become dependent on you, but because she has become so worn out.  This is only human nature.  So set some boundaries and stick with them lovingly of course.  Otherwise you run the risk of letting her family take too much of yours and that is not good for you or for her.  Think about the Parable of the Good Samaritan.  What would have happened if the injured man had begged the Samaritan to stay and then the Samaritan had stayed instead of going about his tasks at work.  The consequences could have been great.  He could have lost his clients or his job.  Then he would have put himself, his family, and this injured man in jeopardy.  Rightfully he had some boundaries and was able to help the injured man as a result.  So be supportive of this woman, but have determined your boundaries and enforce them.

The Bible tells us to love and support each other and to live in community.  So remember to do this for those around you and especially in your church body.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Marriage In Difficult Times

I know this is an old post, but I feel the Lord leading me to share them again.

This post has been on my heart for a really long time.  It is very near to my heart as I have been there and those were very difficult days for me that I so thankful to no longer be living in the situation.

I heard a couple of years ago about a friend of mine whose wife left him.  I heard the information from one of his family members and of course they were upset with the my friend's wife (and rightfully so).  However, my first silent thought was that I could understand how the situation could happen.  See my friend has a disability and they had been living with this for years.  I can understand why she might have left him.  Now please bear in mind that understanding and condoning are two entirely different things.  I am not saying she should have left or that it was right, on the contrary it was wrong and sinful.  She did not have a biblical reason to leave.  Her marriage vow in fact obligated her to stay.

However, as someone who was a wife of a disabled man I can understand why she might have left.  In fact I almost left my husband once during his years of disability because I was so tired and burnt out.  If it hadn't been for a good friend that I worked with at the time I probably would have left and would have regretted it.  I remember that day so clearly.  I had a baby, had a toddler, a disabled husband, lived two states away from family, and had little support.  Now I do not want to be too hard on those around us.  We needed a lot of help for a long period of time and there is a tendency to burn out sometimes when it comes to being there for a friend who was in my situation.  The day I almost left my husband I woke up after once again only about 3 hours of sleep (my nightly average at the time) and I was soooo tired I did not think I could go on anymore.  Someone had taken advantage of my husband due to his disability and left us deeply in debt.  So I was working A LOT in a career with high emotional demands.  Then add to that the myriad of doctor appointments, the higher demands of a spouse with a disability, and the demands of 2 children ages 2 and under.  I almost walked away from it all.  Truly that was not what I wanted to do, but I was truly at a point where I did not have anymore to give to anyone.  Some would say that I should have just looked to the Lord for more strength.  However, discouragement had set in and when I had my time with the Lord I could not seem to find any peace or encouragement anymore.  It was then that I needed a Christian friend to point me to some scripture, to pray with me, and offer to take my family grocery shopping on a Sunday afternoon so I could take a nap or clean my really dirty house.  Those days were so dark and lonely.  That morning I knew enough to know that I would regret my choice to leave, but did not have anything left in me to do it anymore.  So I talked to my supervisor at work whom was also almost the only friend I felt like I had at the time and asked him to talk me out of it.  He did.  I stayed.  I am so glad that I did.  I am so glad that I honored my vow to my husband, but most importantly to God.

So even though I do not condone this woman leaving her husband, I do understand.  I think many times we need to be more understanding in the church about situations like this.  As I look back I think that I actually had more friends willing to be supportive, but they did not know how or what to do.  Also, keep in mind this coming statement is purely my opinion, I think that many marriages that break up when one spouse become disabled could have been saved with more and better support from the Body of Christ.  The Lord delivered my husband from his disability so I believe that puts me in a place of responsibility to help others.  I want to share with you five ways to be a support to wife of a disabled husband, but it will be of the course of 2 posts.

One of the first and most important things is to not judge.  Don't tell her that she should be doing any more than she is doing.  One time a family member came to visit from out of town and told me that if I would put some elbow grease into a particular household task then it would get done.  Another church member told me that if I would just pray more.  I could go on and on with judgmental comments that I received during those days.  Don't judge the person.  Instead I would suggest offering words of support and offer to help them.  If someone had come to me and said " I see how hard you are working, you must really love your family.  You must be tired can I help by taking your family grocery shopping so you can take a break." or "I know you are the only driver in the family and are working two jobs so please let me drive your husband to a doctor appointment."  or "I know your husband has to be downtown for a doctor appointment at the same time your son needs to be at a doctor appointment in the suburb and you were not able to get more time off work to reschedule an appointment.  Let me help you with some transportation."  It would have been very helpful to me..  See early into this life's season I had been told no when I asked for help so I quit asking.  Also I did not want to be a burden on anyone either.  I knew that what my family needed was a lot and I did not want to burden anyone.  The wife of someone with a disability may not ask for help after a while because she has heard no so many times and been told judgmental things and does not want to be hurt anymore.

The second thing you can do is offer a listening ear, friendship, and may be some tea, coffee, along with some chocolate (chocolate always helps).  This woman feels horribly guilty for all she can not do for her family.  She also likely feels alone-- I can not stress that enough.  The loneliest time in my life was when my husband was sick.  She has so much to do that she is not going to ask you for this time and remember she has already had so many careless things said to her.  Remember that likely her heart is broken.  When we take our marriage vows lets face it we have no idea what we are committing to.  I had no idea when I said "in sickness and in health, for richer for poorer" how those were going to be tested in our marriage.  We tend to think of all the good times we will have when we get married-- not the bad ones.  So when this couple walked down the aisle they had dreams of good, happy times.  Her heart is broken.  Let her have a chance to talk about it.  Also she will likely be questioning God and experiencing certain doubts.  I know I did.  Give her a chance to talk about these things.  Let her talk it out and offer her LOVING encouragement through Scripture.  That is what she needs.  She does a good enough job of being critical of herself for having these thoughts and doubts.  So be a friend and listen.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Trust In The Lord Who Will Never Forget You

Last night it was late and I noticed the light still on in our sons' bedroom so I went to shut it off only to find that Caleb was still awake in his bed drawing pictures out of the Star Wars book that we checked out from the library.  I told him it was late and that he needed to get to a stopping point then I told him that I love him. His response "I love you too Mom!  I don't know what I would do without you."  I told him that I am not going anywhere.  Caleb had no idea what I was planning to blog about today, but his response was quite fitting.

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child
she has borne?
Though she may forget
I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms 
of my hands;
your walls are ever before me.

Isaiah 49:15-16

As I read these two verses I am reminded that I used to think that a mother could never forget her children and that a mother would absolutely have compassion.  That is what I believed before I started working with substance abusers and before I became a mom.  I now know that yes indeed some moms do forget their children and don't care for them.  I have seen addiction take that away from a mom and it is a sad, sad thing. Some of my adolescent clients were not cared for as children like they should have been.  That is when you really see the injustice of the matter.  That is enough to make me angry.  However, I need to remember not to judge as no one really knows what they would do had the circumstances of their lives been different.  I think the saying, "But by the Grace of God go I" is fitting.  

I am reminded of this when I think back a few years.  I was no where near forgetting about my husband or my children, but I did feel like I was not good for them.  They deserved so much better then me.  I was still giving them everything, but it was not enough and I believed they would be better off without me.  One morning I was in bed just sobbing about this and fought the urge to get in the car, drive away, and never return.  Not because I wanted to, but because I believed my family would be better off.  I didn't do it and I am glad that I did not hurt my family in that way.  I no longer have this thought because a lot of healing has taken place in my life and the life of my family.  However, when I think of moms who do forget their children I have no room to judge.  Neither do you.  Caleb has no idea how fitting what he said last night is when I think of that memory and the fact that I was about to blog about it is ironic. 

Let's take a look at the verse above:  "Can a mother forget her child?"  Yes.  It happens more than we care to think.  Lets remember that all mothers are human and fallible.  Also that every human being (including mothers) have a breaking point.  

However, I love the next part of the verse: "Though she may forget, I will never forget you."  Our mothers may all be human and fallible, but our Heavenly Father is not.  He is perfect.  His love is perfect, His thoughts are perfect, His Grace is perfect, His memory is perfect.  He says that he will never forget you or me. Facebook has been a neat tool for me in that there are many people in my life who seemed so important to me at the time in my life and they were, but I forgot them until one day they pop up on in social media.  How quickly we as humans forget.  God never does.  He remembers every single one of his creation and he never forgets us.  I find that so comforting.

"See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me."  Wow!! There is no way I could ever be out of God's mind.  I am engraved on the palms of his hands.  I can count on HIM! When I was attending Youth With A Mission's Discipleship Training School, our teacher the first week taught us that God loves us with Agape love.  Basically that means that every minute of every day God is working in my best interest even when to me it feels the opposite.  So when things are not working the way I think they should, I can go back to Isaiah 49:16 and remember that I am engraved in his hands and that my walls are ever before Him.  I can trust Him.  No other friend laid down his/her life for me.

In fact I can remember some times in my life when I needed friends the most, many of my friends seemed to have disappeared.  I remember one particular time and there was a friend that stuck around when the rest left.  He let me share what was going on and he helped me navigate through a tough situation.  I think I would have given up if he had not been there.  Another friend lives far away and she and I make sure we talk at least every month or so.  I could go on and on with stories of some wonderful friendships that I have.  So, I am not commenting on my friendships or putting down human friendships.  What I am saying is that we need to make sure we don't look to our friends to do what only the Lord can do.  The Lord is not the same as our human friends he is NEVER going to leave and will never  steer me in the wrong direction if I will follow and trust Him.  

I want to encourage you to have friends and to trust them, but to remember that they are not meant to take the place of the Lord who should really be our best friend.  I think of the country song You Find Out Who Your Friends Are.  When you find yourself in a rough spot in life you could discover this portion of the lyrics to be painfully true in your life: This ain't where the road comes to an end, This ain't where the bandwagon stops, This is just one of those times when a lot of folks jump off.  If you are at a place in your life where it feels like your friends jumped off your bandwagon and you are alone, in trouble, and don't know what to do then reach out to the Lord.  He is your best friend who will never leave you.  Some lyrics to the song in another spot are: Somebody's gonna drop everything, Run out and crank up their car, Hit the gas, get there fast, Never stop and think "What's in it for me?" or "It's way to far." They just show on up with that big ole heart.  The fact is that our friends here on this earth will not always "crank up their cars and hit the gas".  However, Jesus saw that we were hopelessly lost in our sin.  It was a real problem and we were lost for all eternity to hell because of our sins.  While he did not "run out and crank up his car, hit the gas, and get there fast".  However, what He did was come down to earth and take on human form, die an excruciating death on a cross, and raise three days later in order to solve the biggest problem you and I will ever face.  Now that same friend is on the right hand of the Father interceding for you and for me every single day, every single minute.  Certainly Jesus did not stop and say "What's in it for me?"  He did not say, "It's way to far". He showed up with His "big ole heart".  We found out who our greatest friend is. He will never forget or leave you so no matter what you are going through you can trust HIM.  I challenge you to trust the Lord with whatever you are struggling with today.     

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Let The Lord Restore Your Weary Soul

This year my sister and I got the privilege to take my oldest son to see Winter Jam back in January. It was quite the experience for me to get to do this.  He enjoyed it and it was fun to share some of what I used to do when I was younger with my son.  The Lord spoke to me a lot at Winter Jam.  I think it was a turning point for me actually.  One of the ten bands at the concert was Tenth Avenue North.  I have enjoyed their song Worn in the past and could definitely relate to it.  Somehow when I heard it at Winter Jam it was different though.  It cut through straight to some areas of my heart.  I was humbled at the end and some questions that have plagued me for about 10 years were answered.  Here are the lyrics before I share some that spoke to me.
by Tenth Avenue North

I’m Tired I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes
To keep on breathing
I’ve made mistakes
I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world

And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn

I know I need to lift my eyes up
But I'm too weak
Life just won’t let up
And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn

My prayers are wearing thin
Yeah, I’m worn
Even before the day begins
Yeah, I’m worn
I’ve lost my will to fight
I’m worn
So, heaven come and flood my eyes

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause all that’s dead inside will be reborn

Though I’m worn
Yeah I’m worn

"I'm tired I'm worn, my heart is heavy from the work it takes to keep on breathing"  

Some of you may remember my sharing about my struggle with depression.  I would love to tell you that struggle is over, but it is not.  I have been experiencing victory in this area though as I have fewer and fewer bouts and they are much less deep and I can praise and work though them now.  However, for so many years it took all my energy to just keep breathing.  I am not sure if I shared how deep that depression was for me.  I was suicidal at for a few years so literally at times it really was work to just keep breathing.  

"I've made mistakes, I let my hope fail"

One of the burdens that weighed on me that fed this depression was false guilt.  See some where along the way I let myself believe the lie that I had been told that my husband's seizures and the struggles that came to our family as a result were my fault.  I had been told during some vulnerable years that they were my fault.  Even after God healed my husband through brain surgery, I continued to beg God for years to tell me what sin I had committed that caused all of this for my family.  I would have confessed it and turned from it in a heartbeat.  In my mind my husband and children were suffering and it was all my fault and the Lord was not telling me what I had done.  I had moments of clarity where I fought this lie, but even then it was a struggle that I continually lost.  I was even mad at God that He would be so unfair to my children and remain silent in this matter.  Well, at Winter Jam while hearing the song the Holy Spirit broke through and I could hear clearly, "Charity, you did not sin to cause your family's suffering, but you did sin in the midst of the suffering.  You let your hope fail." Immediately the tears started to fall because I knew in my heart it was true.  I let my hope die.  When it died I let go of the Lord. After letting go of hope my faith began to fade.  It became like a candle that just burned weaker and weaker.  As faith was growing weaker and weaker so was my love relationship with Christ.  At one time I had a strong, vibrant relationship with the Lord, but the fire had been slowly going out for some time now.  I asked the Lord to restore my hope and for Him to be the source of that hope.  I can not explain it, but that is exactly what has been happening. I do believe the Lord has shown me a few things concerning the matter though. 

I Corinthians 13:13
Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love.  But the greatest of these is love.

The Lord has shown me that faith, hope, and love all feed off of each other.  If one suffers the other two suffer.  So as my hope has been restored so has my faith in the Lord, and so has my love relationship with Him.

"My soul feels crushed by the weight of this world."

That is how I felt-- crushed, defeated, helpless.  However, there is a truth that we need to remember during dark times when we feel crushed and defeated.  That is that our feelings lie to us.  They are not trustworthy.  Here is a comforting truth:

Isaiah 42:3
A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.  In faithfulness he will bring forth justice.

I am so grateful that I serve the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings who will not snuff out my faith when it is flickering.  I am so grateful I serve a Lord who loves me enough to have compassion on me and meet me where I am like he did that mid January night.  That night He stopped the flicker by feeding the fire as only He can do.  Some of my pain actually left me that night and as the pain left hope flooded in and it fueled the faith that needed fueling in my weak and worn out soul.

"But I know that you can give me rest, So I cry out with all the I have left."  

That is all the Lord wants is for us to reach out to Him.  He knows we are human.  He made us that way.  He knows we struggle, but he wants us to reach out to Him with all that we have in us.  In my case the years had worn away so much, but the Lord excepted what I had left and is building upon it.  The years in the spiritual desert had left me parched, but He had the living water to bring me back to life.  I found the words of Matthew 11:28 and 29 to be true. 

Matthew 11:28-29
Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

The Lord is in the business of giving rest to weary and worn out souls like mine.  If your soul is worn out and weary he will give you rest too if you come to him.  

The Lord has reminded me in a new and fresh way that redemption has already won.  It was won the very first Easter when Jesus suffered and died, then rose 3 days later.  In Ezekiel 37 the Lord brought a valley full of dry bones back to life.  That is what the Lord is doing in my life.  He is bringing parts of me that I thought died back to life only in new and better ways. When the Lord restores He does not bring things back to their former state, He makes them better than before.  The Lord wants to restore us, to heal us, to give us energy to both love and serve Him with.  He wants to restore our fight so that we find the victory He wants us to experience.  So let Him have your worn out, weary soul.  He has some great and wonderful plans for your life.  Healing and restoration are there if we will simply surrender our lives to him.  So if your soul is worn lift your eyes up and give it to Him.  You will not be sorry.

If you want to hear the song then click on this link.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUEy8nZvpdM

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Lord's Provision Part 1

This post will contain two parts and I will be posting them backward.  My husband runs a landscape business and does carpet cleaning so winter is not much of an income producing time for us.  Last winter my husband prepared and became licensed to sell health and life insurance so as his mowing and landscaping has slowed down it was time for open enrollment for Medicare enrollment.  We will see how that works out for us.  Anyway I have been gardening, food foraging, and deal shopping in preparation.  Our garden was productive and there is much to show for in that area, but I will share that in another post.  One of my concerns is that our family really enjoys fresh produce and there are so many enzymes needed for good health in those.  The canning and freezing I have done is not the same as fresh, but I am grateful for the things we have and we will enjoy eating them, but I asked the Lord about the fresh produce.  Since winter is not a great income producing time for us fresh produce is a luxury.  I hope before the ground gets too cold to make a cold frame to grow lettuce and kale.  This may or may not happen depending on time.  If not I will just have to make do. As I have prayed just sharing with the Lord my desire for fresh produce I discovered a coop that delivers in our area called Community Helpings Coop.  We just got back and after lunch I will be cutting up and making our produce so that it is easy for our boys to get out and just eat-- which they love to do most of the time.  I was impressed with our inexpensive bag of food.  I certainly would have paid more at the grocery store.  Here is our produce-- not enough for the entire month, but when combined with some of what I have put up we will meet our healthy requirements for fruits and vegetable.  Every order is a little different based on availability.  Here is a picture of what we got this time.

This week was our first frost so I took the rest of the tomatoes from the vine both green and red (I was barely getting anything from the vines anyway since they were almost done), harvested the remaining basil, parsley, and mint, and the rest of our zinnias and cosmo flowers.  We have also been collected persimmons and hickory nuts from the ground at a local park.  God's provision has been good.  The flowers were given as bouquets to Caleb's Wednesday night teachers at church, the herbs have all been dehydrated.  Here is a picture of our food that was recently taken from the ground.  Two pickings of persimmons are already frozen and there is a big yellow bag in the picture that will be made into pulp this afternoon and frozen.  We will likely have two more bags before we are done.  So here is the picture.

Then we had some surprise provision.  One of our neighbors bought turkey legs because they were on sale. Her husband did not like them or the turkey bacon she bought so we were given over 6 pounds of turkey legs and a package of turkey bacon along with a pound of carrots.  Then a friend of ours who raises chickens had extra eggs so we got 3 dozen eggs.  Then another neighbor brought extra food from a catered dinner at his workplace over to us.  He said they were going to throw it away so he thought a family with growing boys might find use for it.  The food was right up our alley.  It was beans and rice, baked beans, and cole slaw.  We have already eaten it for two meals and are going to have it a third time.  All these surprise provisions have come in the last four days.  God will take care of us.  He promises in his word.  

The Lord's Provision part 2 will share from earlier in the year.  The Lord has been good to us this year.