Christian Living, Encouragement

Patience is indeed a virtue

Are you the impatient type?  Do you get in the grocery line with the expectation that you will get checked out quickly and on to other things, only to find you found the one line where someone has an armful of coupons?  Do you get impatient at red lights?  Do you want everyone to get out of your way on the freeway, so you can go much faster than the posted speed limit?  If you are, you are not alone.

I do not necessarily get impatient at the above-mentioned situations, but I do get impatient waiting for God to answer prayers.  I am a product of our microwave society.  I sometimes sound like the little bratty girl from Willy Wonka going around telling God that “I want it now”.  I tend to get very anxious if I do not get an answer to prayer right away.  I begin asking question like “Did God hear me”? Or maybe I didn’t ask Him the right way.  Is there any chance that God didn’t like the way I asked or was my heart attitude wrong?  I go through the gambit of doubt and irritation wondering what is taking so long??

And then I come across a verse in the Word like Psalm 5:3 which says:

“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; In the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly”.

Or, one of my favorites, Romans 12:12 which says

“Be joyful in hope, faithful in affliction, faithful in prayer”.

Oops.  Messed up again.  How can I think I am righteous in my beliefs when I read these verses and know I am so far from where I need to be?  I am not faithful in affliction. I am inpatient, irritated, aggravated, and even down right frustrated when my prayers are not answered the very instant I prayed for them.  Case in point… I have been praying for something very important to happen for one of the members of my family. I have prayed and claimed in the name of Jesus only to find out that it still has not happened.  How long God, must I wait?  Answer…I must wait until God determines it is time.  My timetable means nothing to Him.  God is not going to give me what I pray for until He deems it the right time.  He may need to grow me, teach me, test me, before He is willing to answer my prayer.

I know God always answers prayer.  It may not be the way we want it to be answered but He does answer.  Apparently, I need to work on my patience.  God needs to fill my patience meter to overflow so I can stand faithful in affliction and faithful in prayer.  I need to stop expecting God to work on my time table.  What I need to do is to pray, wait, and wait with joy. Oh, how hard things can be sometimes.  Is it just me, or do you suffer the same impatience?  Teach me Lord, to wait.  Amen

Christian Living, Encouragement, Spiritual Wellness

Thanksgiving and the Presence of God

A large part of my quiet time with God is spent in thanksgiving.  The Lord has blessed me and my family so much that thankfulness just flows form my heart. I find thanksgiving is a great way to enter into God’s presence.  For a long time, I thought entering into His presence had to produce a certain feeling.  I would spend so much time “trying” to feel God that I would totally miss Him.  I didn’t understand the power of thankfulness.

We find in the Psalms that David spent a great deal of time giving thanks, even when he was running for his life! I wonder if I could do the same.  But, I can give thanks in all things in my own life.  I am not only talking about giving thanks for the “stuff” God has blessed me with. I’m talking about giving thanks in all things, so I can enter into the sweet presence of God with a heart full of His goodness.

Psalm 107:8-9 says

“Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things”.

Give thanks for his wonderful love. Do we spend enough time giving thanks to God for His love?  If we lost everything we have would we still be able to give thanks for God’s love alone?  Think about Job. He lost absolutely everything. His children, his livestock, his servants, his house, literally, everything and although he had quite the conversation with God about this, in the end he thanked him and praised him.  What a testimony!

I do thank God everyday for His love, for I know without it I would be lost. Let’s practice entering into God’s presence with thankfulness for his love as well as other blessings he has bestowed upon us.  We have so much. He truly has blessed us with wonderful things… family, homes, cars, comfy things that we are now accustomed to and so much stuff.  What we need to remember that if we strip away all we have, we still have the love of God which is far better.

The next time you enter into the presence of God for some quiet time, try thanking him for his love first and see if your time of thanksgiving grows. Write down all you are thankful for and you will be amazed at how God has blessed you but start with His love.

Christian Living, Encouragement, Mental Health

Seeking God Amidst the Bad Decisions

Have you ever found yourself in the midst of your mess and have no idea how to get through it, over it or around it? I have.  I have spent so much time trying to fix things on my own, only to have it come back and hit me in the face. There was a time in my life that I did not walk with the Lord.  I was ill with Bipolar Disorder and the mess I was in was huge.  I made poor decisions based on manic thinking and then once I would crash, I would then get depressed because of the outcomes of the decisions I had made.  It was an unending cycle.

If you know how mental illnesses affects everyday life, then you have, more than likely, suffered this same fate.  I thought that this was how my life was going to go forever, because at that time, I was undiagnosed and trying to manage life on my own.  It has been said that we cannot reach out to God if we do not know we need Him. Well, that was me.  I felt so capable of running my life and taking care of my children and my husband that the thought of needing help was ludicrous.  I could do it, I was of sound mind…Not.

My manias were the driving force of my illness most of the time.  That is still true.  I suffer more from mania than depression.  You may suffer from depression or anxiety or some other illness that affects your normal decision-making process and you may feel, like me, that you have everything covered, and all is well and then the floor drops out.  What do you do then?  I found that the only thing I had not tried was to call upon God.  That should have been my first plan of action, not the last, but I really thought I had a handle on things. I did not. So I re-dedicated my life to the Lord and began a journey of healing and restoration.

I found a Bible verse that really spoke and still speaks profoundly to my life.  My illness still rages at times and my manias are a source of amusement to my family (my kids love manic mom because I give them a lot of material to work with when they want to tease me or poke fun, in a loving way, that I I’m off again on another project or spending spree). The verse is found in Psalm 9:9-10 and it reads from the Amplified…

“The Lord will be a refuge and a stronghold for the oppressed.  A refuge in times of trouble. And those who know Your name [who have experienced Your precious mercy] will put their confident trust in You. For you, O Lord, have not abandoned those who seek you”.

Wow.  The Lord has not abandoned those who seek Him. He is a refuge.  I love that.  It speaks directly to my situation and it speaks directly to yours, whatever that may be. God makes it so easy to find hope and healing.  Merely seeking Him. We do this everyday we live for Him.  If you spend time in prayer, you are seeking, time in Bible reading… seeking, time singing worship songs… yep, seeking. Anytime you devote to God, you are seeking. You may not even know it, but He does, and He blesses by being our refuge.  You are never alone if Jesus is your Messiah.  And those less than stellar decisions you may have made, are forgiven if you have asked for them to be.

Since I began seeking God and His presence and wisdom, I make far better decisions than I used to.  There are times when I must defer the decision making to my husband because I know I am not in the right state of mind to decide anything. But it is because of the leading of the Holy Spirit that I can now recognize that.  I no longer depend on my own wisdom, I depend on God. I know this will work for you too. Try it. You will find seeking God to be the best decision you have ever made.

Encouragement, Mental Health

Enduring Love

Do you have an illness that has such a stigma that it makes you feel unloved?  Mental illness tends to do this, but I am sure there are other illnesses that create this feeling…psoriasis, obesity, birth defects of any kind.  These are just a few that come to mind.  I am in this category, twice. I have a mental illness and I am obese, but the thing that drives people away from me is the mental illness.  When I tell someone I am Bipolar, they get this look on their face that tells me they would rather be anywhere else than where I am.  It saddens me greatly, but it is the reality.  Once people know I have a mental illness, they tend to distance themselves from me. Let me say, I have friends and family who understand my illness and they support me wonderfully, but those whom I just meet or know casually keep their distance.  I think it is because they do not know what to say to me.  Maybe they are afraid, or do not want to try to understand and get to know me. It makes me feel unloved.  Have you ever had an experience like this? I’m sure many of you can answer yes to this question.

The Scriptures say that we are loved by the one who loves purely.  Jesus does not look at our outer person, He looks at our hearts.  Now, if there is something inside you that needs to be dealt with, God will convict us until we repent, no doubt. But I am not talking about our inner problems, I am talking about how others see our outer person.  They judge, Jesus does not…they condemn, Jesus does not, they hurt us with their words, Jesus loves us, yet we put so much emphasis on what others say or think about us, we forget our truest love and appreciation comes from above and not from people.  I know it hurts when we are rejected, it hurts to the core and oftentimes, we internalize people’s judgement and begin to think we have no value, or that their opinions are who we are, but they’re not.  We need to be reminded every day that we have worth, that we are loved and that others opinions are not who we are!  Is this easy to do? Is it easy to wipe from our minds the hurtful comments or the stares, or the ignorance of someone else about our conditions?  No, absolutely not. But we can reframe how we see these judgements.  We need to tell ourselves that their opinions are not who we are. As I was lamenting to God one day in my quiet time about, yet another friend who walked away from me, He gave me this…

“I have given you my love, faithful and enduring and it will never be taken back from you.  You are adored, sacred, beautiful, and you belong to me”.

What beautiful words.  They refreshed my soul and made me cry.  I knew God loved me, but to have it spoken to my spirit like this was overwhelming.  I want you to take these words and tuck them into your heart for the next time someone hurts you.  They are like salve to our souls.  I know God gave me these words to share with you and I know they will heal hurts.  Always remember, you belong to God and you are adored and beautiful.  Never forget.

Christian Living, Encouragement, Mental Health

Healing

I love the story of Peter walking on the water. It fills me with such amazement that Peter loved and trusted Jesus so much that he got out of that boat and walked, in faith, on water.  Yet, we see that Peter, the man of such faith, denied Jesus three times when Jesus needed him most.  I think about this a lot. How could that have happened?  How could Peter be so disloyal?  I think to myself “I would have never done that”, but I have.

I have never denied Jesus and the saving power of his grace, but I have doubted His healing power.  I have an illness that cannot be seen.  It is mental and mood oriented so people who look at me do not see someone with a disability.  When you think disability, you think physical and sometimes so do I.  I have read stories of Jesus healing physical problems, but I have not read many stories of being healed of a mental disorder. Sure, demon possession, that is a whole different beast, but mental illnesses such as mine, not so much.  This makes me think, sometimes, that mental illness is beyond God’s healing power.  Show me a cancer and I believe that can be healed; a limb that needs regrown, absolutely, but these are physical. They are illnesses that can be seen so God may be more inclined to heal them. This is flawed thinking at best and blasphemy at worst.  It is not that I don’t believe God can heal mental illness, I sometimes think that He just chooses not to.  But, I am so wrong!!

By denying God’s healing power, I am no better than Peter.  Believing some things and not others.  Who am I to question God’s power?  I have no right, and I know this. In fact, I have  experienced God’s healing power many times. With a mental illness, it is hard to see God’s healing grace.  But, I know it’s there.  Everyday I get up and have a quiet mind, that’s healing.  Every time I can go about my day without fear, that is healing. Everyday that I can smile and laugh and not be manic is a healing.  Everyday that I can love my family and count my blessings is a healing.  I may never be able to say that I have been healed of Bipolar totally, but I am being healed in pieces.  I may not get total healing until I see Jesus face to face, but I have experienced God’s healing power in my life. I no longer doubt that He can heal me. I no longer think that where I am, he cannot reach. I see each day as a healing.  The fact that I am alive, calm, able to put thoughts on a page, is attributed to God’s healing in my life and I am so grateful that He loves me enough to care about me.  These healings are so simple but so monumental to me and they give me faith and hope and normalcy. Normal may seem mundane to some, but to me it is place I need to be and because I can believe in the healing power of God, I know that normal, instead of depression and mania will become my new normal. Halleluiah

Uncategorized

Quiet Rest

Has anxiety and worry ever kept you up at night?  I think most people can answer yes to that question.  I know I have spent many sleepless nights worrying about things that never came to pass.  That’s the thing with anxiety and worry, the things we worry about never seem to manifest and we have spent countless hours in torment for nothing.

I was reading God’s word today and I found a passage in Romans 3:19 that talks about the Israelites not being able to enter God’s rest because of unbelief and an unwillingness to trust in God.  Isn’t that what we are guilty of?  We say we trust in God and yet our anxieties and worries overtake us. If we trust in God and in His word, then we should be able to place our worries at His feet and enter His rest.  Exodus 33:14 says “The Lord replied, “My presence will go with you and I will give you rest””. Can we not believe in this promise?  Well of course we can, but, resting while in the midst of a worrisome situation can be difficult, even if the situation is not reality.

I tend to create worry and anxiety.  I imagine all types of bad scenarios that can occur from a situation I am in and none of them are pertinent to my actual reality.  My mind goes back and forth in the realm of “what if…”.  Have you been there?  I ask, “what if this happens or that happens?” and it would all be terrible.  I used to tell everyone “Don’t worry until you are given a reason to worry” and I lived that until I started suffering with the symptoms of my illness and then worry ran amok.  I had no control over what I was thinking.  I began to search Scripture on God’s quiet rest.  This was something I needed and wanted desperately.  I began to take these out of control worries and tell God about them.  I would talk to Him all day about things that were racing through my head and all the worry that I was carrying around and He led me to Philippians 4:8 which says

“Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worth of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things”(Amp).

This verse changed the way I thought about my life. I no longer had to be worried and anxious. I merely had to change the things I thought about. Instead of negative thoughts, I would think on those things in Philippians and that changed my entire outlook.  I am now a very positive person who enters into the quiet rest of God every day.  Sure, there are still situations that can produce worry and anxiety, but I know how to lay them at the feet of Jesus and carry on in peace. I learned how to trust God in all situations and I know that He has everything under control and my worrying does not change the outcome. God already has it handled. So, the next time you are tempted to worry about a situation you have no control over, remember these verses and trust that you can enter God’s quiet rest and watch your worry melt away.

 

Mental Health

Scars

When you suffer with a mental illness, you are going to have rough times. Some days will feel impossible to get through others you will just go back to bed and forget about even trying. Tough times are always just around the corner.  I am not saying that you will not have good days, you will, and you will be grateful for them.  But dark days seem to be more prevalent and take more energy to navigate. I suffer with dark days a lot.  They turn me inward and I feel betrayed by my own mind, but then things turn, and I have a few good days in a row and I am thankful. But those dark days leave scars, deep scars.  Those scars are evident both physically and mentally. They are a constant reminder that I have an illness that takes over my life.  I am no longer able to work outside the home, that’s a scar. I have difficulty relating to people sometimes, that’s a scar. I have hurt the ones I love the most in ways I don’t even know, another scar.  I cannot get out of bed sometimes, yet another scar.  These scars are visible.  Everyone can see them.  Then there are the mental scars… the memory loss, the medication side effects, the weight gain, the inability to cope with even the smallest changes (like time changes).  All of these are scars and I see them as ugly reminders of my failures and challenges.

As I was going to sleep the other night, I was thinking about these scars and how they have shaped my life and I heard Jesus whisper “your scars are beautiful because my scars are beautiful”.  It was what I needed to hear.  We look at Jesus’s scars as a reminder of His sacrifice for us.  They are physical reminders that we are now sealed, and our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life!  They are reminders that our eternity will be spent with the love of our lives, Jesus.  We can know fully that the scars we bear are just as beautiful because they represent who God has made us to be.  Everyone is flawed, everyone deals with something that leaves scars. Our illness is just a little darker and a bit more out of control sometimes but still, everyone’s scars are real, and they mean different things to different people.  I no longer look at my scars as ugly.  I look at them as battle medals.  I have rose above the challenge that the scar represents and came out victorious because I allowed Jesus’s scars to redeem me.  I do not fight alone.  I fight alongside Jesus and I will continue to fight.  I will continue to have scars and to have new scars form, but they are beautiful because Jesus’ scars are beautiful.