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Christian Living

5 Ways to Stir your Faith

I write a lot about mental illness and faith.  However, there are many more aspects to a believer’s life that do not center around illness.  I am going to begin sprinkling in different posts on subjects such as “Christian Living, Spiritual Wellness, and Encouragement” in addition to my posts on mental health.

I’d like to touch on a subject today that I tussle with quite a bit.  It is how to stir up your faith. When we are newly saved, it’s like a honeymoon period.  We are so in love with Jesus that having faith is quite easy and it feels great. But, at some point, life enters that relationship and faith can begin to wane.  What do we do?

I have found that when my faith is running a bit thin, I have difficulty praying and doubts bombard my mind.  I start asking questions that I know the answer to but have trouble believing. God seems far away.  I know the problem is not with God, but with me. So, I determine to spend more time with God, to pray more but those efforts seem to fall flat. But I did find a few ways to stir up my faith.

  • Spend time “soaking” in the presence of God:

 Find a place where you can get away from distractions, turn on some instrumental praise music, and just center your spirit with the Holy Spirit and allow yourself to connect. It is not hard; it just takes some patience.

  • Get in the Word:

If you want to know God and grow closer to Him, you need to find time to get into His Word. Take time every day to read and study. Before you can grow your faith, you need to know the God of faith. Do not feel overwhelmed. Just take some time and let His Word permeate your soul.

  • Worship:

Praising God’s greatness, goodness, and beauty in words, music or silence is a wonderful way to stir your faith. Reading the Psalms aloud is one of the easiest ways to worship God.

  • Prayer:

Conversing with God about what is on your mind, no matter what the subject or what we are experiencing is a powerful way to build your faith. Not only can you pray for yourself, but praying for others can, and often does, fuel your faith because you are not making it all about you. This may be difficult when your faith is low, but just a little talk with Jesus can make a big difference.

Encouragement

Moving Forward

Sometimes I get stuck. I get stuck in my pain. Stuck in my depression. Even stuck in my joy. I just get stuck.  My illness can stop me in my tracks.  It sneaks up on me at the worst possible moment and blindsides me.  Granted, there are times when I can feel a mania or a depression coming on, but not often.  My moods usually start with a great deal of unexplained anxiety which I quickly blame on this situation or that commitment. But, no, it’s usually a mood episode. My illness makes it difficult, at times, to keep moving forward with my life.  It debilitates me.

But God wants me to move forward. He wants you to move forward. But how? What do we do when all we can see is our illnesses stepping over our boundaries and we are stuck?  I always turn to God. I search Scripture, pray and meditate, but what if I am seeking the wrong thing?

I go to God with my moods and my darkness or with my over abundant happiness that indicates a mania and I always expect Him to make it better. I wait for Him to move in my life and give me relief, so that I can move forward. And He does.

21 Empowering Quotes on Faith To Help You Keep Moving Forward

But what if the catalyst that moves us forward has less to do with what he does and more to do with who he is? What if we sought God for the sheer pleasure of who he is and not what he can do?  I think we would find a God we never knew.  Yes, He is our loving Father, our truest friend and our rock, but can He be so much more. Yes, He can.  In Him we have a treasure we have not fully discovered.  I don’t think anyone will truly know Him this side of Heaven, but we can search. 

Deuteronomy 4:29 says “But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul”.

We need to take the time to seek God for who he is.  He will still give us the ability to persevere when our world becomes chaos but seeking him for who he is will give us a depth of relationship that we may not have. Our main goal is to know him and to love him with a reciprocal love.  We yearn for that even if we don’t realize it.

Don’t allow yourself to get stuck. And if you are stuck, don’t stay there. By seeking him, you will find the catalyst to move into the life God has chosen for you.  Keep moving forward!

Encouragement, Mental Health

Quiet Acceptance

Have you ever met that one person who, no matter what is happening in their lives, they accept it with quietness and resolve? They never ask, “why me”? They don’t throw a fit or become angry. I have met such people throughout my life, and I stand in amazement at their ability to accept and move on.

When I was first diagnosed, I spent a great deal of time in denial, anger, non-compliance. My diagnosis seemed like a death sentence. Will I ever be the same as I once was, and other such questions ran through my mind. How is this diagnosis going to change my life? I was not very accepting of my newfound friend.

But as the years passed, I quietly accepted my illness and I viewed this as a great victory! I could look at myself in the mirror and see me, but with a different lens. I was now a person with a chronic illness that would never go away, and I could work with that.

My Bipolar has changed my life in so many ways. Some bad. Some good. I can no longer work a “normal” job, but God has opened opportunities to write and I am grateful. I can no longer stay up past 10:00 because I know it will make me ill. Getting enough sleep is paramount to a well psyche. I know that at any time I can go way up or way down and I must be prepared to handle the chaos those moods bring. Do you have a similar challenge?

I have yet to meet someone with a mental illness who can say they have it all together. I don’t think that person exists. If he or she does, I want to meet them and pick their brain! But I have met people who have accepted their illness quietly, no fanfare, no pity party, just accepted. They amaze me. I am, now, that person. I have accepted and moved on and I try to help others to accept their illness quietly and with grace. We can all get to acceptance. We must stop fighting who we are in our illnesses and move into who God has created us to be. That person involves all the aspects that make up the new us.

It is so easy to be angry and upset. Confusion and bitterness can creep in and take us captive. We must be diligent in our fight for acceptance. If we can’t accept our illness and learn to love ourselves, how can we expect anyone else to do the same? We must make the change in order to help change the attitudes of others.

Quietly accept your illness. Live your life from a place of victory. Make the changes you need to make. Become who God has called you to become. It is a journey that starts with acceptance.

Mental Health

Just Snap out of it!

Just Snap out of it!

When I was first diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in 2003, most people in my circle did not understand what that meant, both for me and for them. I had some family say it was just female problems. Some said that I was faking it. Some said it was just a bunch of mumbo jumbo, I even had one person say I was demon possessed. Woe! That was a shock. But the thing that bothered me the most was when people would tell me to “just snap out of it”. Those five words were so hurtful.

Did they actually think my behavior was on purpose? That I was in control of what was going on inside me, that was manifesting in these odd behaviors? Well, in a word…yes. You see, my family and friends had never encountered someone with a mental illness. They didn’t understand all the nuances such a diagnosis would bring. I didn’t understand any better, I just knew that if I could just “snap out of it” I would! But I couldn’t. I wasn’t in control. Has that ever happened to you?

Telling someone with depression to "just snap out of it" is like ...

I’m sure that you were hurt by words spoken over you in ignorance by people you loved. I know that understanding and acceptance for you and your family was a long, hard road. Maybe it still is. I would like to tell you that it gets better, it does, but it never gets to the point of comfortable. My closest family members, my husband, and my children, understand and accept my illness as a part of who I am. But I still have people close to me who would rather not discuss it and if I show symptoms of mania or depression, it shuts them down. They just don’t want to deal with it. I don’t want to deal with it, but it is a part of me that is not going to just fade away. It’s hard. It’s scary. It’s tiring. But, through it all, I have never been abandoned or judged by Jesus!

When I don’t understand or have been hurt by words spoken out of ignorance, I know I can turn to God for comfort and healing. I can lose myself in his love and grace and know that I am His child and am truly loved. I am not trying to imply that my family and friends do not love me, they do, a great deal. They just don’t always understand my illness. That’s ok. I’ve learned that being on the outside is difficult and no matter how much they try to empathize, they will never totally understand. I may never totally understand. But God does.

If you find yourself buried in negativity and misunderstanding by your friends and family, turn to God. He will always help you to feel better. To feel whole even in your brokenness. It is in those moments that God shines. He will bring light into your darkness. He will bring his healing salve into your hurt. Trust Him. The next time someone says, “just snap out of it”, maybe you can smile through your pain and know that God does not expect you to “just snap out of it”. He’s in there with you. And if you are reading this as a loved one, please know that we cannot “just snap out of it”. Our illnesses are part of who we are now, so please try to understand and support us. We love you.

Shalom.

Mental Health

In Desperate Need

Crafting A Prayer — Graham Cooke.

I tend not to make the best decisions when I am afraid.  I strive to find the easiest way out of my fear, even if that decision will lead to more unrest for my spirit. It’s more of a reaction than a decision. I grab at anything, whether good or bad, to alleviate my discomfort.  Have you ever done the same thing?  Maybe you haven’t.  Maybe you’re that person who doesn’t allow fear to cloud your judgment. Kudos to you! But for me, and I’m sure many others, reacting out of our fears is the norm.  What I really need to do is pray. Pray first. Instead of reacting and making a bad decision, prayer needs to be the first action.

When we are fearful, our decision-making ability gets skewed.  We forget that God is watching and waiting for us to turn to Him.  But why do we pray as a last resort? Maybe we don’t think God can handle our fears.  Maybe we think our fears are to great to be relieved. Maybe we’ve married our fears and don’t want to let them go.  That may sound odd, but it happens.  We can get so accustomed to being afraid that we think it is part of our emotional makeup.  But God did not create us to be afraid.  Did you know that the words “fear not” appear 365 times in the Bible? Clearly God has set the mandate to not be afraid. 

Fear has gained momentum since we have begun to navigate through the waters of the Corona Virus.  People are right to be concerned and we need to be vigilant to do the social distancing and protocols put down by our respective Governments.  We need to be safe and smart, but we need not fear. We need to pray.  It is only through prayer that we will be able to find rest.  Many are reacting out of fear which is leading to bad decisions.  People putting themselves and others at risk because they do not think through their decisions. They react. As believers, we know God is in control and we know that this will end eventually. We can be assured of that.  Please do not make a decision based on your fear.  Seek God and find out His plan.  Read His promises. Cast your cares.  I know it’s difficult.  I am having the same issues. But I know the one who is in control. So do you.  Trust in Him and pray and allow God to comfort and reassure you. Don’t’ make a decision out of a reaction. It will usually be the wrong path.  Keep strong in the Lord and make prayer as important as breathing. We’ll get through this. Together.

Encouragement, Mental Health

Fear Less

Well, we have made it through another week of social distancing.  I know this is pressing us to our personal ends, but we pray that it will soon be over.  As I have talked about before, fear and anxiety are common companions these days and we are crying out to God, in unison, to please bring an end to this pandemic.  But, while we are crying out together, have you felt like taking more than your fear and anxiety to God.  Have you felt like crying or screaming, or just throwing something to vent the feelings you have inside?  Well, I have. But I smile and pretend that I am holding up just fine. I’m sure you do as well.

We do not really know how to navigate these new waters.  Our days are spent wondering and at times worrying about whether we, or a loved one will contract this virus. And if one of us does, will we survive it? Should we be doing more, or less, in order to stay safe?  We don’t want to show our true feelings to those around us.  We want to spare them the concern we feel, especially if we are a Mom or Dad.  We are supposed to be strong…have all the answers, but we don’t. But I know someone who does.  Our Father in Heaven.

As we are being strong for our loved ones, we can go to God with our fears and anxieties.  We do not have to pretend we’ve got it all together.  We can be true and honest with our Father.  We don’t have to pretend. We can cry, scream, break a few things if we need to. God is not afraid of our feelings; He is also not surprised by them either.

I know, at times, we feel out of control.  We have never lived through something as serious and as unknown as this pandemic. I cannot sit here and tell you that all is well, because it’s not. But I can tell you God is still in control.  He is not sitting up in Heaven, unaware. No, He’s very much in tune with our lives.  He knows our fears, and our doubts, and we do have doubts, but these emotions do not have to cripple us.  We can get through this, even if we must do it afraid.

I often say, “press into God” and I mean that with every fiber of my being.  If you want peace during these times.  If you want to quiet the fear and doubt, get into the Word.  Find out what God says about the emotions you are feeling. Find out His way to deal.  Do not be afraid to vent to God.  He is big enough. Actually, He is enough. We need not worry or fear. Our Father is on the throne. The World is still His. We are still His. Take comfort in the fact that He loves you.  You are sacred. You are His and He will never leave us or forsake us. That is His promise. Stand on it, believe it, live it. Shalom!

Encouragement, Mental Health

Weather the Storm

Someone said that we are always close to a storm; either we’re walking into a storm, enduring a storm, or coming out of a storm. I find this to be true in my life and I’m sure most of you can say it is true for you. So, I guess the question is not “what do we do if we go through a storm”, but “how do we get through the storm we’re in?”

My first inclination when things start getting rough and darkness begins to creep it’s way in is not to run headlong into the arms of my Savior, but to turn inward and isolate from the pain or the fear or whatever emotion is clamoring at me. It isn’t until I become desperate that I run to God.  Why? Why do I let my storm get me so off course that God is the last person I run to instead of the first?  I believe that it is because I have a lack of faith.  A lack of faith that God can take away the pain and the darkness and pull me up out of my storm.

It’s easy to have faith when things are going well. But what about now?  Right now, the World is in a place of chaos.  Our normal has been replaced with uncertainty and fear.  I know that this Virus is on everyone’s lips and no matter what you do, you cannot get away from hearing about it.  But what would happen if we put great faith in front of our fear? What would it look like, globally if everyone turned to Jesus during these trying times? Well, I can say there would be a great deal more peace. A great deal more healings. A great deal more comfort.  Actually, there would be a turn for the better in all areas.

So why are we turning to the media, and the Government, and the Scientist for answers when we should be turning to God…lack of faith.  Now I cannot speak for everyone and I am not trying to generalize the actions and reactions of people during this time, but I can say that for myself, it has been a lack of faith.  I’m sure some of you can say the same thing.  Kudos to those saints who dove right to their knees when all of this broke loose! I am glad you were praying. But to all of the rest, including myself, who has allowed a lack of faith because of fear, to keep you from your knees, it’s OK.  God is all knowing, and our lack of faith does not surprise Him.

But we do not have to stay sidelined because of our insecurity.  We can start right where we are, and Jesus will meet us there.  Right in the place of our fear, anxiety, and in the storm.  This virus may be the biggest storm we go though.  It is certainly one of the scariest for me and my family, but if we do not strengthen our faith in prayer and drop to our knees to pray for an end to this pandemic, then we are not doing the one thing that can stop it.  Only through God will we find the answers.  Only though God can we find the cure.  We need to be praying, with faith, that God will end this and destroy this virus! He is the only one who can.

This storm is great.  The fear is real. But our God is bigger than the storm.  Take your faith, even if it as a bit anemic right now and pray.  God will strengthen us for this battle, but we must allow Him to work and to do that, we must pray! Seek Him and He will make Himself known, and He will bring Himself glory through this.  This is our collective storm. Let’s enter the battle with faith…great faith!

Encouragement, Mental Health

God is in Control

As the whole world is practicing social distancing with many being in quarantine the corona virus is on everyone’s lips and minds. There is no way to lessen the fear and anxiety that comes along with this pandemic.  But how do we, who suffer from mental illnesses in which anxiety is already a factor deal with this added stress?

We all need to follow our country’s protocol to stay safe and, hopefully, put an end to this pandemic.  We need to wash our hands, social distance, and use common sense when it comes to going out for groceries and such.  That being said, these guidelines do a little to quell our anxious minds, but not enough.

Prayer, leaning into God, reading Scripture, and knowing God is in control will ease our anxiety better than any hygiene practice.  We need to remind ourselves that God has this. He knows what’s going on. He knows the fear and anxiety we are suffering through. He knows. By leaning on Him, we will know peace.  God’s peace.

When our anxiety is so big and overpowering, we need to pray. Psalm 91 is a prayer of protection. Pray it over yourself, over your family, over your loved ones and friends.  Trust that through that prayer, God hears. God answers. We are not to fear anything but in our weakness, we find strength. We can do nothing apart from God.  That includes facing our fears and anxieties concerning this pandemic.  We are more than conquerors is Christ Jesus! Nothing this world throws at us can ever change who we are.  We are mighty through the shed blood of Christ! We are more powerful than this virus because we draw our strength through Jesus. He is in control!

We must not let this crisis over shine the resurrection of our Lord. He conquered the grave and gave us a precious gift. The gift of eternal life. When you are tempted to worry. When fear grips you and your anxiety is out of control…remember, God is in control and He’s got this!

Encouragement, Mental Health

The Greater Plan

Having a mental illness can cause one to question “why me?”.  We may go through a litany of questions that we fire at God because we are trying to understand the path we are on. We can get so wrapped up in the here and now just trying to get through one more day that we forget to look up and understand that God has a plan! Our illnesses are not in vain. God is going to use the pain and the confusion for His glory.  We only need to allow His plan to unfold. That is easier said than done.

So many times, I’ve surrendered my illness and my life’s plan to God, only to get absorbed back into the “why me”.  I’ve pondered that question to the point that I became angry at God.  I wanted to know what good having Bipolar Disorder could ever bring anyone I crossed paths with.  So, for a long time, I kept it a secret.  If no one knew then I could avoid the judgments and the loss of relationships by those close to me who just wouldn’t understand.  I could live with this as my secret and no one would be the wiser.  Until that one day…

I was at Church and I was praying for God to take this illness away. I didn’t sign up for this and I certainly did not want to live the rest of my life suffering with it on a daily basis. I cried and I begged but to no avail.  Finally, when I had calmed down, I asked God the “why me” question and I felt Him say in my spirit that I have this because He is going to use it to bring Him glory.  He was going to help people through my illness, and I was not to keep it a secret any longer.  I had to begin telling people that I do, indeed, suffer from a mental illness.  That was a big step. I began to allow people into my private world of suffering.  Some judged, some left, some stayed, but I was being obedient.  I was going to look up and live by God’s plan. I quit asking “why me?” and began to see that there were people around me who needed to hear my story.  Who needed that hope that I have that God is in control no matter how out of control we feel.

I’d like to say that the minute I surrendered my illness and my “why” to God that things got miraculously better. They did not.  I suffer from symptoms of my illness in some form every day. I know you do as well. But what did change is how I perceived myself.  I was no longer someone who had a terrible illness, I was part of a greater plan to bring hope and healing to others. This is God’s plan for me.  It may be God’s plan for you as well.  I encourage you to ask God ‘why me?” but I also encourage you to take His answer and apply it to your life right now.  Don’t hide yourself away in shame and fear.  God has a plan for each of us and he will use our suffering to help others.  Be brave and try to be transparent with others.  You will never know who you can help or whose life you may touch with being open and honest about your illness.  Always remember to look up each day and to know that you are part of a greater plan.

Christian Living, Encouragement, Mental Health

Anxiety and Worship

Have you ever heard that worry and worship cannot live in the same heart?  It’s a phrase I heard years ago when I was first diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.  To say I worried is an understatement.  I worried so much that it turned into a full-blown anxiety attack.  That anxiety got so bad that it paralyzed me. I came across a little book that had an intriguing title. It was a book about ridding oneself of anxiety and worry.  Since I was dealing with that exact issue, I bought the book.  Want to know what it said?  It said that the best way to get rid of anxiety and worry was to worship.  Worship? Really?  Could it be that simple?  Yes, that simple, but not easy.

When we are experiencing anxiety so great that it affects our ability to live life, worshiping can seem like a monumental task but I learned that just repeating the phrase “Jesus, I love you” was an act of worship. So that’s what I did.  I told Jesus over and over how much I loved Him and how much He had changed my life and how grateful I was.  I did this for days and days.  And, you know what? It worked.  The decrease in my anxiety was almost immediate! The more I set my heart to worship, the more my mind calmed.  Pretty soon, I was waking up with a sense of peace, not turmoil.

Now, I guard my peace.  I will not do anything to lose it.  It is so important to me and the best way to keep my peace is to keep my eyes upon Jesus.  To never lose sight of the fact that God did not give me a heart of fear.  Isaiah 35:4 says…

Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with diving retribution he will come to save you”.

Wow! What a promise.  Do not fear. Do not be torn down by anxiety.  Lift your eyes for your God is coming and he is coming to save you.  You and me. That’s a promise you can depend on.

So, when anxiety strikes, all you need to do is Worship and stay still. God is coming and He will deliver you.  That’s a promise!

Encouragement, Mental Health

Never Give Up

Hey Everyone!! I am sorry that I have been away for so long.  I have been going through some medical issues, as well as some website issues.  I have fixed the website problems (thanks to my wonderful husband) and my medical issues are being resolved.  I have missed talking with you.

In the last few months, as my medical issues have been at the forefront of my mind, I stopped monitoring my Bipolar.  Bad move!  I have been manic for a few months and didn’t even realize it. (the massive spending should have been a tip off).  My husband actually brought it to my attention, and I have discussed it with my Doctor which necessitated a medication tweak.  I am still manic but getting better.  My point in telling you this…never assume that your illness will take a back seat to other priorities in your life!  Your illness ALWAYS needs to be closely monitored.

I know we would all like to think that we do not have to be diligent in monitoring our illnesses all the time.  But, as I have learned, it is when we stop paying close attention to our moods, our day to day living, our depression, is when things can go south very quickly. It’s tiring, I know.  How many times do we want to give up and just let the illness run our lives? It’s easier. But, when we let our guard down, terrible things can happen. I just read of a Pastor in California who suffered from depression who took his own life. He couldn’t get in front of his depression.  He got tired and he gave in.  This has affected me profoundly.  I hate to hear of someone suffering from a mental illness give in.

Having a mental illness is not easy.  Having any illness is not easy.  But we need to fight for every ounce of normalcy we can get.  We need to take our moods, our hurts, our confusion, our fears, our pain to God.  We need to press into Him with all we have in order to overcome what is going on at that moment.  It’s hard and sometimes things don’t change right away. But we can never give up. We owe it to ourselves and to our loved ones to do all we can to get better. If we do not turn everything over to God, we are neglecting the one person who has the power to change us. To heal us. We need to rest in the promises of God, not only for healing, but for the strength to live day to day.

It will always be a struggle; it may never get easier. But we are here for a purpose. God has chosen to allow whatever is going on in our lives and we need to make a determined decision to live out whatever our purpose is.  We cannot give up. Stay strong.  Stay connected to God. Stay in the fight.

Mental Health

Judging Harshly

I was having my prayer time with God the other day and I was talking to Him as I always do, and I brought up the fact that I am a bit judgmental.  I asked for forgiveness for that flaw and the Lord clearly impressed upon me this thought…

“the persons we judge most harshly are the people we need to pray for most fiercely and that person may be ourselves”.

Wow.  I had to sit and think about that for a few minutes. I do judge myself harshly and I do not pray for myself all that much.  I am in intercessor and I pray for those whom God places on my heart. I pray all the time.  I pray in the grocery store, in the car, in my kitchen, in my prayer room, basically everywhere. But the subject of my prayer is rarely myself.

This thought niggled at me all day.  Why do I judge myself so harshly?  One reason… I feel like a bit of a failure because I am unable to do simple things that others take for granted because of my illness.  I cannot work, I cannot handle a lot of stress, whether good or bad, I do not react well to time changes so that means I cannot travel.  There are many things that I just cannot do, and I judge myself based on these things, on the “cannot’s”.  Do you do the same thing?  I am sure you do. We all do.  And I found that people who do not have a mental illness judge themselves on the cannot’s of life as well.  So, what does God ask us to do? Pray.

We need to be praying for ourselves. We need to be praying for self-acceptance.  For the ability to stop looking at the “cannot’s” in our lives and focus on the “cans”.  We are able to do more than we give ourselves credit for.  We are special in the eyes of the Lord.  We are not “less than” to Jesus.  So why do we beat ourselves up?   I think part of it is the stigma associated with mental illness.  In society, we are already judged, regardless of who we are, but because of our illness.  Society says that we are not acceptable as we are. That somehow, we should change.

We listen to these false truths, which are nothing more than lies of the enemy, and we judge.  I think it is high time we start praying.  We need to call down the authority of God into our lives to dispatch the enemy from our minds. Prayer is powerful!  Prayer changes things! We need to be praying for ourselves and to stop judging ourselves so harshly. We are perfect in eyes.

We need to see ourselves as he sees us…beautiful, treasured, sacred, His.

Encouragement, Mental Health

Set Apart

So many times, during the up’s and downs of my illness, I would say “I wish I was normal”.  Being normal (without symptoms, without stigma) was a goal I sought after.  I didn’t like feeling different from everyone else and I was ashamed that I had an illness that I could not control.  I didn’t want to tell anyone about my diagnosis because I didn’t want them to think about me differently.  But it was obvious to all around me that I was different.

Early on in my diagnosis, I would search Scripture on healing.  Being healed was my number one priority.  But, while searching the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit kept drawing me to verses that told of Jesus’s story and how he was different.  Jesus didn’t fall into the norm of His day.  He stuck out.  He did not try to conform to the world, He stayed separate.  He was in the world but not of the world.  So, if Jesus wasn’t “normal” why should I strive to be “normal” as defined by the world?

Well the answer is “I should not”.  I began to realize that Bipolar Disorder was my cross to bear.  I didn’t ask for it, but we all have something.  My illness set me apart from the world and yours does too.

We tend to view ourselves as “less than” but really, we’re special.  God allowed our illnesses to set us apart and to make a change in this world concerning mental illness.  We as Christians who suffer have a platform to bring about change as to how we are treated.  We can tell all that God is our strength and hope and that, like Jesus, we are not the norm because we are not supposed to be. Christians without mental illnesses are also set apart from this world, to be a light in the darkness.

So, on one hand, we are special because we are different, and on the other, we are special because we are like Jesus, made in His image! Set apart for a purpose.  I suppose you could say that we are fortunate because our illnesses send us to the feet of Jesus for strength to overcome. Maybe, having a mental illness is what brings us closer to God and for that we can be thankful.  I am not sure I would be as close to Jesus as I am without carrying this burden.  Being healed would be terrific but, as long as I have Bipolar, I will stop striving for normal and stay in the realm of special, just like Jesus!

Christian Living, Encouragement

We Are Blessed to be A Blessing

We Are Blessed to be a Blessing

So many times, we forget that we are blessed.  Yes, we suffer from a mental illness but that does not negate God’s blessings on our lives.  Every day that we wake up and have the wherewithal to go through the day feeling well is a blessing. Each small victory we have is a blessing.  Each time we can touch another with our story is a blessing.  God is blessing us in so many ways that sometimes we can take that for granted.  We need to be more aware of the way God is blessing us, so we can be a blessing to others.

Being a blessing to others is not complicated.  We do not have to stretch ourselves too much to brighten someone’s day.  A simple smile and cheerful hello could be all that person needs to give them something to smile about.  Sending someone a card telling them you care and are praying for them would be a blessing to them.  It’s so easy and simple things can bring the biggest blessing.

But not only will doing things for others bring them blessings, these blessings get multiplied back to you.  You will never regret blessing someone.  A few weeks ago, I was asked to bring dinner to a family whose husband had a stroke.  The family lived quite a ways from me and taking them dinner was going to be a strain on my time.  I had to shop for the ingredients, assemble and bake the casserole, put it into a travel bag and drive the 45 minutes to their home.  All on a Friday night when my family was over and wanting dinner as well.  I obeyed God in this and I was thoroughly blessed when I saw the thankfulness on their faces.  It was a simple act of obedience on my part that brought me a huge blessing and I am so glad I obeyed.

See, simple things bring blessings.  We do not have to complicate this.  God blesses us, so we can bless others.  I know that sometimes the hardest thing we do in a day is getting out of bed.  Days are dark, tiring and anxiety that builds so much we are frozen in fear.  These are the times we need a blessing.  God says you reap what you sow.  If you have been a blessing to others, God will have others be a blessing to you right when you need it.  He will send blessings your way at just the right time.  Remember we are blessed so we can be a blessing and others will then be a blessing to us.

Christian Living, Encouragement

Seeking Refuge

This morning I was reading in Psalms 17 and verse 7 jumped out at me. It’s a Psalm of David asking God to protect him from his enemies.  During his prayer, he addressed Jesus as the “Savior of all who seek refuge”.  This spoke to me in a powerful way.

I’ve always known Jesus was my Savior, but I never really thought about the fact that, He is Savior to all who seek refuge in Him.  How many times have we tried to find refuge rom our illnesses and the complications these illnesses bring to our lives in our own power?  We think “I can do this.  I’m stronger than these symptoms and I can take care of this on my own”. I know that when I was first diagnosed in 2003, that is exactly how I thought.  I felt that the diagnosis was completely wrong and that I didn’t have Bipolar. I promptly went out to live my life proving to everyone that I was fine, and I did not need anyone to help me, because I wasn’t ill.  Well, that lasted about two weeks before it became very apparent that I, indeed, was quite ill.  But did I cry out to Jesus for refuge?  Nope. I went about acting as if I was the savior of my own life and I, alone, had control over everything.  As you can guess, that didn’t work very well either.

It wasn’t until I started seeking Jesus as my refuge that I started to turn the corner into wellness.  I am embarrassed to say that this revelation that I needed Jesus to bring healing and comfort to my exhausted mind took a few years. Yep…years!  But, as soon as I began to seek refuge in Him, everything changed.  I still had dark days. I still had manic episodes. But my perspective had changed.  I knew that without Jesus as my refuge, I would just be out there in the wind of my own mind, flailing. I couldn’t live that way.

The most wonderful part of this Psalm is that is says “all” who seek refuge.  This includes, well, all.  Jesus doesn’t bring some refuge or bring refuge to those most deserving. No, he said all.  This should bring great comfort to everyone who feels that they are unworthy of this kind of love.  I know we often feel, because of our illnesses, we are undeserving, discounted, and pushed to the fringes, and a lot of times, we convince ourselves this will never change.  But Jesus is faithful and if we seek refuge, He will give it.  How many of us just need a rest?  A break forms the endless struggle to gain a sense of normalcy in our lives.  Well, Jesus is inviting us to come and rest in Him.  He is our refuge. He loves us. He is for us. So, when we feel as if we cannot take one more step, we need to get on our knees and simply seek Him.  Our refuge lies in Him and Him alone.

Christian Living, Encouragement, Mental Health

Can God be Trusted?

Have you ever felt that you cannot trust God with your illnesses?  I have.  When I was first diagnosed, I would question God as to why I had been the unlucky one to have Bipolar Disorder.  I felt it wasn’t fair and that if God allowed me to have this, clearly, He could not be trusted.  I think we all think something along these lines at one point or another.  How could I trust a God who would allow such a thing to darken my life and the lives of those I loved?  I felt fatalistic, as if I was never going to get better and the pain that I felt would never go away. I felt betrayed.  Why God why?  Was I ever going to be well enough to return to my normal life?

I was asking this question to everyone but God.  I would cry to my husband about how unfair having this illness was and how it ruined my life and at the time, I truly believed this.  I couldn’t see past the pain.  Everyone started treating me different.  All those who knew we well, knew that our relationships were going to change.  I even lost friends when they found out I had a mental illness.  It wasn’t until much later that I decided to have a sit down with God and hash all this out.

I got on my knees and I got very raw with God.  I yelled and I cried, and I told God just how I felt about Him allowing this illness into my life.  I told Him how everyone looked at me differently.  How I could no longer work and how dreams I had for my future were now dashed into pieces. I told Him how my family was affected.  How my kids were struggling to understand, how I was struggling to understand.  Once I stopped telling God about my victimization, He began talking to me.  I sensed in my spirit that God entrusted this illness to me because He could bring good out of it.  I knew He was going to use my illness to bring me closer to Him than I had ever been, and He was going to use my experiences to help others facing the same struggle.

Fast forward several years, many tears and much suffering and healing and we have today.  Now I am in, what I call, remission.  God has been faithful to bring me into a place of wholeness so that I can now help others.  That is why “Faithful in the Midst Ministries” exists.  To help those who suffer from mental illness to find their way to God and to seek His healing touch on their lives.  I hope, that as I blog, you feel free to send me an email and let me know how I can pray for you and help you find God in the midst of your suffering.  I am here for you.

Encouragement, Mental Health, Spiritual Wellness

Building Walls

If you are like me, when you get hurt by someone you start to build a wall.  You think to yourself “that person will never hurt me again” and the wall goes up.  My question to you today is “is there a wall between your heart and God?”

Have you or do you feel like God has somehow wronged you?  Do you feel that suffering with your illness is unfair?  I used to feel that way.  I would spend hours in prayer asking God “why me?”  I was so absorbed in feeling like a victim I started to build a wall between my heart and God.  I felt betrayed by God because I felt betrayed by my own mind and had no sense of normalcy in my life.  Many ask how a good God can allow suffering?  We need to remember we live in a fallen world and suffering is part of the consequences of that fall.

But we need not get angry with God for the things that we go through that are difficult and trying.  We must remember that God is our hope and our wholeness.  Without Him we are alone with no hope.  The wall we begin to build to keep ourselves from hurting is the very thing keeping us from getting well.  If we separate ourselves from God and others, we only hurt ourselves and we leave ourselves open to attack from the enemy.  God is our shield and buckler and without His protection, we are vulnerable.  Especially those of us who suffer from a mental illness.  Our minds are our greatest weakness and Satan knows this.  If we come out from under the covering of God, we are unprotected behind enemy lines.

The walls we build for our protection are our greatest hinderances to living under the protective hand of God.  Creating barriers always leads to isolation.  Isolation can lead to depression which feeds into anxiety.  This leaves us open and out there for Satan to run amok in our lives.  We must tear down the walls we have built in order to get well and to regain our trust in our God who loves us and only has our best in mind.  Our illnesses are not punishments.  We do not suffer with them for no reason.  We are to use our sufferings to make others strong and to bring awareness to the difficulties that mental illness brings to a life.  We are also tasked with helping to break down the stigma attached to mental illness.  We cannot do any of this is we blame God and build walls.

Let’s tear down those walls and make a difference in the lives of others who suffer!

Encouragement, Mental Health

Being Well While Being Ill

I have prayed for years for God to heal me of my Bipolar Disorder and although I have not been completely healed, at this point, I am well.  It is possible for someone who is ill to be well.  I know this sounds like an oxymoron, but I would like to unpack this a bit.  Wellness does not necessarily mean physical health. I am referring to wellness that penetrates deep into our souls. Wellness only a close relationship with God can bring.

I have learned over the years, that my being well is completely dependent on having a vibrant and deep relationship with God and being compliant with my medication and therapy.  My wellness is a 3-fold prescription.

In the early days of my diagnosis, I thought I didn’t need medication or therapy.  I felt that God would heal my supernaturally and I would never be bothered by Bipolar Disorder.  Oh, I was so wrong.  I started taking my medication and slowly got better but I questioned God constantly about when He was going to heal me.  I didn’t realize that I could be well without being healed.  My mental state improved, and I began therapy, all the while, still praying for healing.  Now, I am not saying there is anything wrong with praying for healing.  As a matter of fact, I encourage this, but healing is not the end all to end all.  Deepening our relationship with God through our illnesses is most important.

Over the years, I have went through many rough times with my illness.  Many times, I felt defeated and wanted to give up and not fight any longer, but I would always turn to God and get strengthened.  He was always with me.  When I needed to be in the mental hospital, He was there.  All the while making me stronger and healing my spirit.  When I was so depressed, I could not get out of bed, He was there bringing me hope through the Psalms.  When I was so manic that I went on thousand dollars spending sprees, He was there, giving me hope that my mood would level out and I would be well again.

I have been walking this tightrope since I was 17 but I did not turn to God for help until I was officially diagnosed in 2003.  Since then, I have been on a constant road to wellness. Each episode I would go through was painful and frightening, but I would always come out a bit stronger and a bit wiser.  My God has never let me down.  I will always suffer from this disorder.  I see no end and there is no cure, but I can always make the choice to trust God with it, and to know that each day I live symptom free is a gift.  I am well in the deepest part of me, the part that is so dependent on God that I know without Him, I would be dead.  No exaggerating.  I would have taken my own life by now.  But, strength, wholeness, and wellness, even without healing is possible.  It comes down to a choice.  A choice to trust God and to decide to be well despite being ill.

Christian Living

Complain, Complain, Complain

Have you ever found yourself complaining?  I know I have.  If it isn’t about the weather, it’s cleaning the house, or doing the laundry, or running errands. Virtually anything that goes on during my day, I can find a reason to complain about it.  But, do you find that you don’t like to be around complainers?  They can bring you down or simply annoy you.  Have you ever thought that is how some people see you?  Sobering thought isn’t it.

As much as we complain, have we ever stopped to ask forgiveness from God for our complaints?  There are so many verses in the bible that speak about the Israelites complaining about God to Moses.  So many times, Moses had to talk God out of destroying the Israelites.  Many times, God punished the Israelites for complaining.  I tend to forget about this during my complaint sessions.  How about you?  If God took complaining so seriously in the Old Testament, how much more does He look upon it in our day?  We see in the New Testament that the Scribes and Pharisees were constantly complaining to Jesus and the disciples about infractions they had committed.  Jesus called them vipers.  Woe, what would He call us.

Now I know we live under the blessing of grace and there is forgiveness for our sins, but have you knelt before God and repented of your complaining?  I never thought about this until the other day when I heard someone ask this question.  I thought about it and could honestly answer NO!  How terrible.  God has given me everything I could ever hope for and I find reason to complain. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Complaining is powerful and it is catchy.  Once I begin to complain, I can usually find someone who will jump or board and complain with me.  The adage “misery loves company” is so true.  But what if I turn that around and start praising God for the housework that needs done, because I have a house.  Or if I praise Him for the weather, rain or snow, because it waters the ground and gives creation a rest.  There are so many things to be grateful for and when we start to complain, we need to turn that around and find the praise within our words.  We need to change our attitudes to one of gratefulness and appreciation for all that God has given us.  We need to be less like the Israelites and more like Jesus, who in everything, gave thanks.  And we need to get down on our knees and ask forgiveness each time a complaint enters our minds, even before we speak it.  I think we will start to live a more victorious life if we will put this into practice. Try it… I am.

Christian Living, Encouragement, Mental Health

Tired and Worn

I’m tired.  I am not complaining, it’s just a fact.  Living with a mental illness can do that to you.  It always seems like an uphill battle.  There are days that seem easier than others and we tend to gauge our wellness on how we feel from one day to the next.  Are feelings being often fickle and if we go to them to define whether we are doing well or not, we may be deceived.  I suffer from a mood disorder so my “feelings” are always trying to control me. I used to get up each morning and think “I feel this way or that way so today is going to be __________ (fill in the blank).

But now things are different.  I get up each morning and the first thing I do is thank God for the beautiful day.   Now the day may not be beautiful weather wise, but it is the day God has made and I am alive, so it is beautiful.  Doing that one thing can change my outlook on the whole day.  My mood may be dark, or it may be manic, but the trueness of God and his goodness never changes.  I can rest assured that as long as I invite God to share my day with me, no matter what happens, it is a good day.

The Lord reminds me often that He loves me.  He loves you too.  I know you may not believe that when you are in the throes of an episode.  Depression or anxiety may reign supreme in your life right now.  But that does not define you.  You have the Lord God fighting this battle with you.  And do not, for one minute, think this is not a battle, because it is.  It is a battle for normalcy.  We fight it every day and it is exhausting sometimes.  I know. I am right there with you.  But, ultimately, this battle has already been won.  We need only to call on God for help.  God can revive a tired spirit, and heal a fractured mind, and ease our depression or anxiety.  Spending some time with the Lord is key.  I am not saying that praying, reading the Bible and meditation is the cure all. I believe thoroughly in the value of medication and therapy but trusting God with our healing is vital.  He is the missing piece.  If you take the time to schedule some time with the Lord, it will change your life.

I used to get so worn out from fighting this battle all on my own. One day I turned the whole thing over to God and entered into a much-needed rest.  I am still resting in Him.  This does not mean I am not still fighting, I am. But now I know that I can turn to Scripture and prayer and get filled with the strength I need to fight each day.  I have said that sometimes, the bravest thing I do is get out of bed in the morning.  That is true because I know there will be a hard-fought battle I will face, but I also know that I do not battle alone.

If you are tired, go to God.  Allow Him to hold you and imbibe you with strength from above to fight the battle that is mental illness.  He knows just what you need to overcome the obstacles you face.  He will refresh you and strengthen you, so you can fight another day.  Never give up!!

Encouragement, Mental Health

God, I Have A Situation Here…

God, I have a situation here.

I find myself in situations in which I need to call on God and I don’t.  My Bipolar Disorder often makes decisions for me that, in my right mind, I would have never made. I would go to the mall in the throws of mania and have a thousand-dollar spending spree. I would be so depressed that I would cut all ties to the outside world, so I could commiserate alone and have a huge pity party.  I have contemplated suicide many times. I have alienated my family and hurt them in ways I don’t even know.  And all the while, I had a Savior who wanted to help me, I needed only to call on Him, but I didn’t.

When I am manic, I feel indestructible.  There are no bad consequences to my actions, I am highly creative and a lot of fun, but my mood can lead to psychosis very quickly. I am in a situation, but I don’t call on God. I am not thinking clearly enough to know I have a problem that needs His attention.  When I am depressed, nothing matters at all.  I am dark in my mind and there is no room for light even though that light is what I crave and want desperately. But I don’t call on the giver of that light.  My mind is unable to process the need, it only sees the pain. I, again, have a situation.

So often I find myself wandering toward the illness and away from Jesus.  The illness calls to me and lures me in like a siren.  I get far off the narrow path that leads to health and wholeness and forget that my God is with me.  I can become so self-absorbed that all that exists is me and my bipolar.  I begin to identify strongly as the victim and yet, in the back of my mind, I hear the still small voice of God saying, “come out of the darkness, I am waiting for you”.  I begin to slowly crawl out of my own head and into the Word of God.  There I find hope, love and the peace my mind craves.

It seems so distant and yet so close that a word from my own mouth can call forth the strength of God that I need to just get up in the morning. Often, calling out to God from the midst of my struggle is the bravest thing I can do.  I start seeking Him through all the chaos that is my world right now.  He is there, and He loves me.  I trust and begin to believe that Jesus can make me better…level…less tumultuous.  I remember that the Word says that “by His stripes we are healed”. I quickly look up this verse and I am hit with the realty that this is not some historical rendering of someone’s life, it is the very breath of life for me.  Jesus did come. He did die. He was resurrected and through Him I have my healing.  A breath of hope and a promise of joy.

I begin to allow this promise to wash over me. I remember that I am not my illness.  That I am not a victim.  I have my identity in Christ and He tells me who I am.  My mind begins to lighten.  My world begins to make sense again.  My darkness begins to fade, and I can begin to see clearly.  In my situation, I call to my God “help me Jesus, I need you”.  That’s all. Not a long, eloquent prayer, but a heart cry from a fractured mind.  I call, and He answers.  My hope and my first love is coming to rescue me.  I sit and I breath Him in and feel his heartbeat.  I know I am going to be ok.  Jesus has me. I give everything to him. My pain, my chaos, my fear, my life.  He is the only one who can save me, and I trust that He will.  I was in a situation, but my God has scooped me up and set me on His lap and wrapped his loving arms around me and I am safe.

I no longer have a situation…my God has taken care of everything and I can just be whole.

Christian Living, Encouragement

Sing, Shout, and Speak Words of Gratitude

Do we feel it is difficult to enter into the presence of God?  Are we to distracted with our illnesses to remember God is waiting to meet with us?  Can we calm our lives enough to settle at His feet as did Mary?  These are questions I grapple with quite a bit.  I know each day I wake up and feel balanced and peaceful is a gift from God.  I do not take these days for granted and I am grateful for each day.

God is always good.  He wants to give us peace and joy.  I know I sometimes get turned around in my thinking and become fatalistic in the sense that things are never going to look up for me.  When my depression is so deep and dark that I feel there is no silver lining, I forget that God is in control and things will get better.  Then, like a light switch, the mania comes and brings a whole new set of problems.  Mania brings feelings of irritability, pressured speech, spending sprees and the feelings of invincibility.  Again, a feeling of hopelessness that only my faith in God can alleviate.

When I spend time with God, both in and out of the throes of an episode, I find myself being grateful for His love and His stability.  He is always the same.  He never falters or leaves me.  He never takes a day off and He certainly doesn’t think less of me because I am struggling.  I can depend on His love always.

But sometimes, I take God for granted.  I don’t spend enough time with Him.  I know He is waiting and I do other things.  Some days I don’t feel like praying or studying and it is these times that I need to spend time with God.  I should be singing and shouting and speaking words of praise as I enter His presence.  Spending time with God should be my top priority when I am feeling good and when I am feeling poorly.  I need to make God my priority always.  I am still learning this principal and I spend so much more time with Him than I used to.  I know He is my source of strength and my hope and in Him I can rest.  I need to become more God-aware and less self-aware.  I wonder if you struggle with this as well?

Christian Living, Encouragement

A Little Kindness

It seems that everywhere I turn today there is bickering and arguing.  If it isn’t about politics (which it often is) it is within the family, between friends and even within church walls.  What is happening?  I do not remember a time in my life when there has been so much discontent.  I know we are living in the end times and I know things are going to get worse.  The confusion and chaos in this world is going to continue, unchecked, until Jesus comes back.

What we need in this world is more kindness and encouragement.  When is the last time you had someone encourage you? Or, better yet, when is the last time you encouraged someone else?  We are so quick to judge and offer up an opinion, usually not a positive one, but encouragement has been lost in all the judgement.  I imagine that we are all aware of our own weaknesses, so we do not need someone else pointing these out to us, but we all need encouragement from time to time.  I feel that we have forgotten how to build each other up.  And then there is the kindness factor.  It seems as if kindness has been lost all together.  Crabby people in checkout lines, rude waiters and waitresses, mean people around every corner; what is going on?  I know everyone has something going on but do our own problems negate the need to be kind to others?  Maybe if we were kinder to people our problems would seem less.

I am not trying to get on a soapbox here.  Goodness knows I have been one of those crabby people on more than one occasion. But Jesus tells us to love all people.  If we love them, should we not be a bit nicer to them?  Would it put us out to offer a hello and a smile when we pass someone on the street?  I know I need to be more aware of those around me and the needs of others. I need to offer a friendly hello and a smile more than I have in the past.  I’m working on me, maybe you can work on you and we could put a kind, encouraging foot forward. To be a bit cheeky, the world would be a better place and we would make Jesus smile to know we are trying to show Him to the world, one kind word at a time.

Encouragement, Mental Health

Refreshment for your Soul

As you well know, having a mental illness is exhausting.  The constant monitoring, the medication, the therapy, the misunderstandings, the stigma, all are extremely taxing on a person’s soul.  I find that at the end of the day I am mentally and physically spent.  I am desperate for some rest and refreshment.  Sometimes all I want to do is crawl up on God’s lap and lament about the hard day or hard week I just went through.  God is where I find my refreshment.  He knows me, so I don’t have to be concerned abut putting my best foot forward with Him.  Nothing I do or have done is a surprise to Him.  I have no need to be afraid of how He sees me because He loves me unconditionally.  It is in this safe place that I find my strength.  I have a room in my home that is specifically set apart for spending time with God, uninterrupted time.  In this room, the presence of God is great.  My granddaughter, who is five, likes to go into this room because she says it “quiets her insides”.  That is what being in the presence of God does for me as well.  He quiets my insides.

Have you ever been so thirsty that your mouth is like a desert?  All you want is some liquid relief.  That is God.  He washes us in refreshing love. He soothes us.  His words are life to us. I know when I have not spent enough time with God because my soul gets thirsty.  I become agitated, irritable, and sad.  My illness begins to take top billing in my life instead of God. Sometimes I do not readily realize this, and I get so far into myself that finding God again can be challenging.  This is when the Lord says, “Come away with me, you need to be filled”.  I go into my prayer room and spend hours talking to Jesus. I read His word, pray, and meditate and I find that I am now ready to face another day.

I find I cannot go very long without spending time in God’s presence.  I try to spend time each day relaxing with the Lord.  Sometimes it works out and sometimes it does not, but on those days where I cannot spend quiet time with God, I feel it.  Being in God’s presence is such refreshment for me that I crave it.  I can find no better way to fill up my soul and it allows me to get ready for what is coming.  If you find yourself tired and worn, try to get away with God for a few hours.  The change in your soul will be amazing and you will find that you cannot imagine ever spending a day without Him.

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.

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.

Encouragement, Mental Health

We Chose Poorly

I have heard many people ask the question “Why does God allow suffering in the World?”  This question used to bother me, but I started to ponder it a bit and found that God doesn’t allow suffering, We caused our own suffering because we chose poorly at the beginning.  When Adam and Eve were in the garden, they were perfection.  Made in God’s own image, free of worry, free of disease, free of death.  They had a perfect relationship with God. Can you imagine walking and talking with God every day?  Having his presence with you in a physical way.  Wow.  What that must have been like. But, it wasn’t enough.  Eve was deceived and ate the fruit and Adam chose to eat it with her and this ended their perfect union.  This allowed disease and death into the world.  It wasn’t God’s perfect plan.  It wasn’t even God’s back up plan. No, it wasn’t the plan at all.  Maybe Eve didn’t realize the damage she would do by giving into Satan’s deception. She couldn’t have known but this deception allowed suffering and disease into the world.

People wonder why God doesn’t jump in and rescue us. Stop our suffering. Not allow death in our schools, attacks on our first responders and military and attacks on our country. Why doesn’t God do something?  God doesn’t do something because we have impolitely told him to butt out.  Anne Graham Lotz was quoted as saying “For years we have told God we didn’t want Him in our schools. We didn’t want him in our government and we didn’t want him in our finances and God was being a perfect gentleman in doing just what we asked Him to do.  We need to make up our mind—do we want God or do we not want Him. We cannot just ask Him in when disaster strikes.”

We, who suffer from a mental illness or any illness for that matter, may have asked God why? Why do I have to suffer with this illness?  Well, we chose it.  Not directly. Of course, no one would choose to have an illness. But through Eve’s transgression, we suffer. And we will continue to suffer until Jesus comes back and makes all perfect again.  We can choose, however, to bring some good out of our suffering.  We can share our faith in God and how He has healed us and made us whole.  How He has given us hope that, if we do not get healed in our lifetime, we will be healed in heaven.  How amazing is that?  But, we still must live in our bodies, in this world which at times is so chaotic and disturbing.  The world that has so thoroughly drove God out.  But, He will not be totally driven out. This is His world. He created it and He will have the last say. Satan may have gained some ground, but God knows what he is doing and what he will do, and it is no surprise to God. It may surprise us, but not God.  We will continue to suffer disease, attacks, pain, deviancy and more because this is the world we live in. We chose poorly at the beginning, but Jesus says “take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

Encouragement, Mental Health

Trust and Confident Hope

As I was spending time in God’s word today, specifically in Hebrews, I was wondering what God was going to want me to write about today.  I came across verse 2:13 which says

“MY TRUST AND CONFIDENT HOPE WILL BE PLACED IN HIM.”

I started pondering this verse and I had to ask myself if I truly place my total trust in Him and if I have confident hope.  Confident hope…what does that look like?  The definition of hope as given in Webster’s 1828 dictionary is “A desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable”.  Did you catch that?  It says a slight expectation.  Does this definition work with what the Word says?  Let’s look at the word confident.  Again, Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines confidence as: “A trusting, or reliance; an assurance of mind or firm belief in the integrity, stability, or veracity of another…”.  So, when we put these two definitions together, we arrive at a command that I think very little about.

I absolutely put my hope in Jesus.  I also trust Him in all things.  The word I have trouble with is “confident”.  I sometimes doubt that God will show up and answer my prayers.  I feel that I may be out of His reach in my sin and self-absorption when I am having an episode with my illness. I have no problem with this command when I am feeling well and in charge of my thoughts. It is easy to be confident in God when things are going well.  It’s only when I am ill that the doubting begins.  My thoughts when I am manic are, well, manic.  They do not make sense and my behaviors based on these thoughts are erratic and out uncontrollable.  When I am depressed, my thoughts turn inward and during these times, my confidence in God wanes.  It is hard to confidently trust when my mind is betraying me.  Yet I know that, without this confident trust in Jesus, I will never get better.  I have been stable for about a month now and I can see where God showed up in my life during this last manic episode.  Looking back, it is obvious that He took care of me and kept me from getting into a place where I could do a lot of damage to myself and my family. But at the time, I thought God had abandoned me to my illness once again.  This was only in my thinking.  Somewhere in my mind I knew God was with me and I needed to turn to Him for help.  I turned to the Psalms and read them aloud until my mind began to calm.  I placed my trust and confident hope in Him.  I knew He would get me through this episode as He has always done and as He will always do.  The disconnect is not with God, it is with me.  I need to tattoo this verse on my arm so when I am in the throws of an episode I can remember to be confident in Him who is faithful and always trust that He is there and always have hope that He will deliver me from yet another episode.

Trust and confident hope are learned behaviors.  They are built over time and through experiences.  If we never go through the valleys, we will never have a mountain top experience.  To grow and to mature means that we put our trust in God and we hope, with confidence not slight expectation, but with true confidence that God is going to do what He has promised and that is to make us whole.  True confidence in God will always lead to hope.

Encouragement, Mental Health

Missing Memories

Many times, I feel my illness does not allow me to be present in my life.  I am too distracted or depressed or manic to be fully in the moment.  Things go on around me, life happens, and memories are made, but I miss out.  Somehow, I just cannot get into my right mind to be a participant in all the fun.  I try to pay more attention. I try to make mental notes of things I want to remember, but, somehow, I usually forget.  My husband or my kids will speak of an event that took place in the here and now and I will not be aware of many of the things they are speaking of.  I know I was there and I did participate but my memory just isn’t working.  Why is this?  Why can I not recall?  It is so frustrating.  When your kids say, “no mom, that was my sister” or one of the boys say, “mom, I wasn’t even there”, it sends up some red flags.  It has now become kind of a joke with my family.  But, to me, it is very serious.

Then we get into events that have happened in my past.  Now I do remember many things, but I may not remember them the exact way they happened.  What I remember usually differs greatly from what my family or friends remember.  This goes back for many years. I don’t remember my wedding correctly, the births of my children are a bit foggy and their childhoods are a little sketchy.  Not every memory is skewed, but enough to make me take notice.  I must ask my husband if I remember something correctly or if the event I remember even happened. I used to have a very sharp memory, often remembering things others did not. What changed?  What causes this?  I am not old (I am only 50), nor am I senile, so what’s up?  I began to do some digging. I suspected that a lot of my memory problems could be attributed to something external. Could it be my medication?  Well, guess what?  I looked into the medications I take, and most antipsychotics cause memory loss.  I take many antipsychotics, so I looked up how they do this.  The result of my search led me to this explanation.

The potency of antipsychotic medications can have a detrimental impact on cognition and memory functioning. Over time, you may notice that your memory has gotten worse, you become more confused, and can’t remember as much information. This is because your neurotransmitters, particularly dopamine have been largely influenced by the drug.” (Mental Health Daily). 

I have been taking these medication’s for at least 10 years.  Does this explanation mean that I can expect my memory to continue to worsen?  Will I get to a point where I can’t remember at all?  Panic is beginning to set in.  Will I lose my memory?  And then God pulls me back from the edge.  No matter what happens to me and my memory, God is always there.  He is right there.  I cannot worry about this because I learned long ago that worry and worship cannot live in the same heart.  Worry sends me into anxiety which then leads to a crash and depression.  I cannot allow that to happen.  The Lord says, “Do not be anxious about anything”.  If I believe the Bible to be the inerrant word of God, which I do, I must take this as a command.  Not as a suggestion or even as a thing to ponder. No, it is a definite command and I must obey if I am to live in God’s will.  Difficult, yes but highly doable.  I know you suffer from, most likely, the same side effects and troubles with your memory just as I do, and I know you depend on God to help you through each day. But we must allow God to bring restoration to our memories.  He can restore what has been taken from us, give us back what is lost, and I believe He can and will do this for us.  We need only bend our knee and ask.  He is faithful and just and we love Him because of who He is.  I may not always be scattered in my memory but for now I am waiting on God to restore me and make me whole. But while He is working I will remain scattered to the enjoyment of my family. There is nothing funnier to them then to poke fun at memory impaired, slightly fractured, but always lovable Mom.

Encouragement, Mental Health

Your True Self

Do you know who you are?  Are you familiar with your true self?  This is a question I used to ask myself often.  “Who am I?”  I could not answer this question because I didn’t know the answer. I could never remember a time when I didn’t have symptoms of my illness.  They began when I was in High School and continue to this day and they defined me.  I could never show who I really was beneath the illness because I didn’t know I was ill.  I would show behaviors I didn’t have an explanation for. I would either be really up or really down.  I remember lying to my Mom and telling her I couldn’t go to school because I was having cramps.  The reality was I was so racked with depression that I couldn’t get out of bed.  She never knew.  I am sure I acted in ways that the people around me thought odd but they never pressed me as to why.  I couldn’t have answered that question anyhow.  This unknowing of myself continued well after I was diagnosed.  Instead of a frightened girl acting strange and down, I became a woman defined by my illness.  I, at that time, was afraid to figure out who I really was,  It was a question that stayed with me.  It was not until I started serving God with my whole heart that I found out who I really was.  I was a child of the Most High God.

I lived in fear that people would find out I was Bipolar. But as I began to read and study God’s word I found that fear is a liar. In Colossians 3: 9-10 it says that “I have put off the old man and have put on the new man. which is renewed in the knowledge after the image of Him Who created me” (AMP).  Again, the theme of renewal.  Once I learned that the old me no longer existed and I was made new in the light of God’s grace, I began to give myself grace.  I quit beating myself up for being depressed or being manic. This was my new reality.  Symptoms are going to happen.  My illness is not going to go away.  So how does this mesh with who God says that I am.  “I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ unto good works” ( Ephesians 2:10); “I am a partaker of His divine nature” (2 Peter 1: 3-4); ” I am a believer, and the light of the Gospel shines in my mind” (2 Corinthians 4:4).  There are so many verses that tell us who we are in Christ.  This knowledge allows me to  be authentic in front of others.  I no longer have fear that people will judge me based on my illness. I know they will, but I put myself out there anyway.  I have learned that I mean more to God, and am loved and cherished by Him so other’s opinions  do not matter.  The only way I am going to change the landscape of the stigma centered on mental illness is to brave enough to talk about my experiences.  But I can do this now without fear.  Jesus was criticized and judged while He walked this earth and He was perfect.  I am beautifully flawed so what makes me think I will not be judged as well.  It goes with the territory.  But you can know who you really are in light of the Scriptures.  Look them up, meditate on them. Get them down deep in your soul so you know who you really are.  You are not others opinions of you.  You are not even your opinion of yourself.  You are a new creature in Christ ( 2 Corinthians 5:17).  Begin to see yourself through this lens and you will soon discover your authentic self.

Encouragement, Mental Health

Meds: the good, the bad, and the ugly

I was reminded today of how dependent my son and I are on our medications.  My son suffers from Unipolar depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder with Bipolar tendencies and I suffer from type 1 Bipolar disorder.  He takes three medications to keep him stable and I take six.  I had a Doctor appointment today with my primary Doctor because I have been having symptoms of type two diabetes.  I went to get this checked out and  he was not surprised I am having these symptoms because one of my medications that I take a very high dosage of, causes weight gain (and boy do I know that) and type 2 diabetes.  Great.  So, while my Bipolar is somewhat stable right now, I have to deal with the ramifications of taking medications to make me better only to make certain other conditions worse.  He did blood work and told me I was going to have to lose weight.  Great again.  He said I have to believe in my mind that I can lose weight and get healthy. Actually, I need to depend on God to help me lose weight and get healthy.  I need His strength, His guidance, and even a little tail kicking just to keep me on the right path.  I know you have suffered from something very much like this.  If the meds cause you to gain weight, affect you metabolically, make you sick if you do not take them, I feel your pain.

So does my son.  Today he came downstairs very ill.  I asked him what was up. He said he was out of one of his medications so he couldn’t take it last night. He thought it was no big deal except he was up all night going through withdrawal which continued into this morning.  Fortunately, I had picked up his medication at the store after my Doctor appointment so he could take it ASAP, but he had to call off work because he was too sick to go.

He and I do not like being this dependent on medication and dealing with the side effects,  but it is a part of our life now.  I know God heals supernaturally and can do it anytime He wishes, but for me and my son, He has chosen to heal us through Doctor’s, therapy, and medication.  I have to be ok with that.  But it means counting pills to make sure I have enough for the week. Planning in advance if I am going to go out-of-town. Dealing with the side effects and the sickness when I miss a dose.  If I want to wake up in the morning without feeling ill, I have to take my medications by 7:00 p m and be in bed by 9:30. I miss out on a lot of fun family time but it is the price I have to pay to stay level and sane.  But God always reminds me that I would be far worse without the medication so I take them, without fail, every night. And now I have to deal with the illnesses these meds cause, and more than likely, meds for that as well.

If you are in the same place, the only advice I can give you is to tell your heart to God. Let Him reassure you He is in control. Depend on Him when you are feeling ill and when you are feeling better and accept that it is just a part of your life. I had to walk this road too and am still walking it. Acceptance is difficult, but necessary.  Invite the Holy Spirit into your wellness plan and accept His gentle nudging away from that peanut buster parfait and instead have a banana.  I know it is not going to be easy for any of us to get healthy and lose weight and if you do not need to lose weight than kudos to you, but for the rest of us,  I believe with God’s help, we can accomplish anything.  But, take your medicine no matter how much you don’t want to. I am.

Encouragement, Mental Health

A Quiet Spirit

I know when we are in the midst of our mess, no matter what it may be, a quiet spirit may be hard to maintain.  We tend to rail against our situation, saying “it’s not fair”.  We want resolution, possibly even revenge.  We want to be angry and self-righteous, and we want to have the biggest pity party ever to be had.  But that is not what God says we should do.  We may be mad at God for our circumstances and the last thing we want to hear is the Holy Spirit tapping on our heart trying to steer us in a different direction. A direction that leads away from our problems and into God’s perspective.  I know when this happens to me, I tend to dig in my heels and try to stay in my mess. To revel at how much I am suffering and how I don’t deserve this. Misery loves company so if I  can find someone to commiserate with, then all the better.  But when I sit down with my Bible, only to complain to God about where I am and how He let this happen, I am reminded that Jesus suffered so much more.  He was abused, battered, beaten, accosted, and yet, He went through His pain without a word. He didn’t run and complain to Peter at how unjust His punishment was.  He simply went to His Father to gain strength to endure.  Wow. How I fall short of the mark. Jesus always had a quiet spirit.  Even when He was indignant at the money changers in the temple, He still had a quiet Spirit.  I wonder if I can achieve this?

Having a quiet spirit has never been something that has been described about me by others.  When I am manic my spirit is everything but quiet and when I am depressed, I am turned inward and self-demeaning, my spirit is disturbed and anxious. Everything but quiet.  So how does one attain a quiet spirit?  We must turn to the Word of God for this answer.  We read in 1 Peter 3:4 “but let it be [the inner beauty of] the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, [one that is calm and self-controlled , not over-anxious, but serene and spiritually mature] which is very precious in the sight of God”. (Amp. Italic’s mine). So, seems pretty black and white.  God has set down in His Word  as to what a quiet spirit is.  Self-controlled, calm, not anxious, serene, spiritually mature.  Can that be the answer?  Once we become spiritually mature, will a quiet spirit be the result?  I feel this may be the key.  We, as sufferers with mental illness, need to put more due-dilligence in becoming mature believers. Our spirits, because they tend to be a little out of control at times, need to be reigned in more sternly than others. ( at least mine does.  If your’s does not, then I apologize). But speaking for myself, my spirit can run away with me and before I know it, it has control.  I need to make sure I am subduing it and not the other way around.  The only way I have found to do this is to spend time with God, both in His word and in His presence.  Prayer calms my spirit and when my spirit is quiet, then God can speak into my life; the Holy Spirit can come alongside of me and guide me into all truth. I have a tremendous calling upon my life and I cannot live this out without the Lord’s help. So if being spiritually mature is an answer to this question, then I’m all in.  I have become a serious student of the Word and the more I know the more peace I have and peace leads to a quiet spirit,  Try spending time in the Word and prayer and see if your spirit quiets before your God.  I know it will.

Encouragement, Mental Health

Parched Soul

I am sure there have been many times in your life that you have had a parched soul.  I know I have been through it.  When I don’t spend enough time with God in prayer and Bible study, I get dry.  I need God to fill me so I can face what is happening in my life, whatever that may be.  But, sometimes, I forget this.  I go about my days doing and being and wandering far from God’s presence.  It isn’t that I forsake my faith. No, I am usually working diligently for God and doing all the things I think God wants  me to do.  But somewhere in the middle of working for God, something slips.  I start to feel tired and empty, even sometimes irritable.  It is a time where I am ripe plucking for the enemy.  Satan knows my weakness and it is my mind.  Since my illness affects my moods and my thinking, this is where the enemy usually strikes.  I get weary and can fall into suggestions the enemy makes such as ” you are not worthy to work for God” or ” look at how you are acting, God is not pleased with you”.  I know these are attacks and I know who they are coming from but, sometimes I do not recognize it at first. It may take several days of asking God “what is wrong with me?”  Then, gently, I hear God’s voice in my spirit saying “you have wandered from me”.  And then I get it.  I have wandered from God’s presence and His grace.  I need to draw back in.  I need to spend time sitting with Jesus, allowing Him to dispel the lies of the enemy and to refresh and refill me.  I need to know I am loved and that God is not disappointed in me.  I think this is important for everyone.  We all have our moments of weakness, when we find ourselves wondering what is wrong with us.  When this question pops up in our mind, we can be assured that a lack of the presence of God in our everyday lives is what is wrong.  It is the question God is using to draw us back in, far from the enemies grasp.  Satan may have power but God is greater.  Jesus said in 1 John 4:4 ” You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world”.  We need to remember this when the attacks come.  And they will.  Satan’s main goal in life is to destroy God’s children but if we remember this verse we can stand assured that we are sealed by the blood of Jesus and nothing can harm us.  We are children of God and He always protects His children. When you feel parched or attacked, draw in to Jesus, He is waiting.

Encouragement, Mental Health

Sunlight

As I sit here at my computer, I am surrounded by windows.  It is snowing and I haven’t seen the sunshine in quite a while.  Why is that an important fact?  Because sunlight has a direct effect on mood.  It is  a fact that Vitamin D levels and Serotonin levels dip very low without enough sunshine. Low levels of serotonin have been linked to depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD as it is sometimes called.  When I was younger, and not diagnosed, I spent most of my winter months in a tanning bed. I know, I know, they are terrible for your skin. But it wasn’t my skin I was concerned about, it was the depression I was going through that drove me to tan.  The artificial sunlight did wonders to lift my mood. Spending twenty minutes in the bed helped to me feel lighter in my mood. I didn’t know it at the time, but the UVA rays I absorbed were just what my bipolar brain needed to lift out of a depressive episode. My depressions were deep and debilitating but I found that if I could get in front of them, I could function better.  This was important because I had four children to take care of, a house to run and a husband who was active duty Navy and rarely home.  My mental state was paramount to me taking care of all of these things. I could not afford to be depressed. It’s funny that God led me to crave sunlight and I still have that craving.  When I got my Bipolar diagnosis, my Doctor and Therapist told me how important getting out and into the sunshine was for my moods.  I already knew this but now it was validated so into the tanning bed I went.  Every year from February to June, I would tan. Almost every day.  I felt good. The sunlight was so important to my brain health that I craved it, like I crave ice cream.  We would go to Florida every summer and I was out in the sun from early morning to sunset every day.  I was in the best mood, probably even a little manic at times.  I thought I had found the greatest, easiest treatment ever.  Tan in the Winter and stay out in the sun as much as possible in the Spring and Summer.  Easy. Until this Fall.  I had to go to the dermatologist for a unique mole I found.  I thought it was nothing. Turns out, it was precancerous and had to be removed.  The Doctor gave me a stern warning to stay out of the sun. This statement had me thinking that she was crazier than I was.  Stay out of the sun…yeah right.  Did she not understand that tanning was my lifeline in the Winter.  I  mean, we do live in Northeast Ohio where we get less sun in the Winter than Alaska.  Can you say DREARY?  So now, I was faced with a dilemma.  Exposing myself to damaging rays leading to possible skin cancer or having a depressed brain leading to self-destructive behaviors.  I had to weigh these two options heavily.  Of course I do not want to get skin cancer, but I also want a healthy brain.  So I chose not to tan this Winter and it has been a rough season.  I miss the lightness that tanning brings to my mood,  It gave me hope for a bright Spring and Summer.  It allowed me to get through the darkest months of the Winter with little effort.  I know I chose what was right for my skin but being depressed is difficult.  It’s physical and mental pain. It leaves me unable to accomplish things I want to do. It covers me with a veil of sadness that I do not like and those around me do not understand.  So I’ve decided to make a compromise. I will continue to tan, but I will wear sunscreen in the tanning bed.  This seems like it makes sense to me. I will tan a little less but I will tan and when Spring and Summer arrive, I will be the first one outside to enjoy that beautiful orb. Can you say “happy brain”?

Encouragement, Mental Health

Marganilized

I look sometimes at the way mentally ill people were treated in the early 20th century and it not only disturbs me, it scares me.  What if I was born during that time?  I would have shared in the fate of many who were abused and forgotten by society.  I would have been marginalized.  Many families were ashamed of their family member who had a mental illness so they were locked away in institutions for the mentally insane or, sometimes, in attics or rooms in their family homes.  They were simply forgotten.  At one time it  was thought that the mentally ill had no feelings.  They could neither feel pain or pleasure, neither cold nor hot and this led to some very barbaric treatments. Most were not fed; they were left to wander halls of institutions naked and lost in their own minds.   They were abused, experimented on and often times died in those environments.  Unloved, unwanted, marginalized.

Thank God we have learned valuable lessons about treatment and care of our mentally ill population.  There are respectable Doctor’s, treatment plans, medication, out-patient clinics, therapy and, still in some cases, institutionalization (however, these institutions are a far cry better than those from the past).  Many people who live with a mental illness can and do live fairly normal lives.  We work, have relationships, worship our God, and live alongside people who are healthy.  But, we are still marginalized.  Every time there is something horrible in the news about murder, or abuse, the immediate response from the media is ” well that person suffers from a mental illness. Isn’t that typical?”  I am here to tell you that NO it is not typical.  People with mental illness are not all serial killers, thieves, abusers and such.  But it is so easy for mainstream America to blame so many crimes on mental illness.  I am not saying there are not criminally insane people who do horrendous things. There are. But there are many more people who commit horrendous crimes who are not mentally ill.  Did you know that the defense of being criminally insane in a trial is rarely ever granted as a plausible defense?   The accused usually do not meet the requirements.  They knew what they were doing. But mainstream media would have everyone think that the mentally ill are dangerous…we’re not.  We’re just different.  We are dealing with a chronic condition that affects the chemicals in our brains.  You can look at a scan of a normal brain and a scan of a depressed or a bipolar brain and the differences are staggering.  It is a physical difference. We take medication and undergo treatment just the same as someone who is battling diabetes, yet, we are still stigmatized…marginalized.  I wonder why. Is it fear? Misunderstanding our illness, or do people just not care enough to try to understand.  There are so many people who advocate for those of us who suffer  with mental illness but there are far more who attack us and judge us.  God doesn’t judge us.  He loves us. But until mainstream America takes it upon themselves to change the way the media perceives us, things will not change. It is an uphill battle; one in which I am on the front lines fighting. Not only for myself but all others who suffer.  With God, we can do amazing things for this community.  We live, we feel, we only ask that you try to understand and accept us and our differences so we will not continue to be… marginalized.

Encouragement, Mental Health

, But God

I have found in my years of living with Bipolar disorder that it is a condition that is fluid as opposed to stagnant.  There is a definite beginning to any mental illness which can come on gradually or come in like a storm and turn your whole life upside down.  Mine occurred gradually with a the culmination resulting in a suicide attempt…actually three.  Mental illness can be like the tides of the sea, ebbing and flowing at will.  Sometimes we are in control and sometimes the disorder takes over. Just when we think we have a handle on our lives, something comes along, acting as a trigger and off we go.  This trigger, as I have learned, does not necessarily have to be something negative in nature.  Actually it can be something very good and exciting, but stress is stress and our minds cannot differentiate between good and bad stress. For instance, I tend to trigger off at Christmas time.  I love Christmas.  The sights and smells, the baking and shopping. I love all of it but invariable, it  sends  me into a manic episode.  I am sure you have experienced something similar.  Since my Bipolar disorder leans toward mania more than depression, I find it difficult to stay on  level ground when something exciting is happening.  But there are two words that I turn to in the midst of my mess that bring me hope and wholeness. ” But God!”  When I remember that God is always present, both in my mania’s and in my stability I am reassured that this episode is temporary and my God is in control.  This gives me the strength to continue day-to-day until God returns me to a stable condition.  So when my Bipolar meets my God, the God who lives in me and whom I serve lovingly,  my Bipolar has to back down,  It is not greater than my God.  All I have to do is go to my Abba, Father, crawl into His lap and allow him to hold me until the healing comes.  This may take weeks, or days but my God is fully capable of restoring me back to a level mindset.  I never  doubt God’s goodness or His love for me and you know what? He loves you just as much! How great is that! The God of the universe loves you and desires to make you well.  Whatever you are going through right now, God is bigger.  He is bigger than the depression, bigger than the anxiety, bigger than the fear.  You merely have to confess Jesus Christ as your Savior,  let Him into your heart and call upon His name and He will bring healing and wholeness to your life.  It’s not complicated.  God makes it very simple.  Just call on His name and He is faithful. Always faithful. Faithful in the midst, to rescue and resotre you. To hold you and keep you. And He is waiting. Always faithful.

Encouragement, Mental Health

Joy and Happiness

There is a lot of discussion today about the differences between joy and happiness. Many will tell you that happiness is just a feeling and can be fleeting. Joy is more of an inner condition. But the Bible does not agree with that definition. In the Bible there are many verses that discuss joy and happiness simultaneously.  Esther 8:16 says “For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor”. Many Christians in the 20th and 21st centuries have gotten the notion that happiness is inferior to joy and goes against Biblical teachings.  We can attribute some of this confusion to Oswald Chambers who wrote “Happiness is no standard for men and women because happiness depends on my being determinedly ignorant of God and His demands”.  Now I have a great deal of respect for Oswald Chambers but on this point, he missed the mark. Because of this teaching, many in the church regard happiness as somehow being sinful. But happiness speaks to being happy.  People who are filled with joy are happy people. They smile, they are cheerful, they laugh and enjoy themselves. Maybe the problem does not lie with the term “happiness” as it does with the term “joy”.  Do we have a working definition of the word “joy”  to draw upon.  Let’s look that up.  In Webster’s 1898 version of the dictionary, which is the edition that clearly defines words based upon a biblical worldview.  In this edition the definition of joy is as follows: a delight of the mind; gayety; happiness; a glorious and triumphant state; the cause of joy is happiness. And there it is… the cause of joy, the very reason it exists is because of happiness.  So how can the two be opposed.  Some people get hung up on the “joy is not a feeling” argument.  Well, the Bible does not support that point of view either.  In Galatians 5:22 it says that joy is a fruit of the Spirit, the same as peace, and love, and kindness.  If joy is not a feeling, then neither can peace and love and kindness be a feeling. But we know that we do indeed feel peace and love and kindness.  The argument is just not there.  Joy is a feeling. It is caused by happiness, it is Biblical, and the desire of God is for us to be happy!  Let us, in this generation, restore the word happiness back into our vernacular as a joyous part to our lives and let us not get hung up on semantics: Joy and happiness are both God breathed and God loves to see His children happy!

Encouragement, Mental Health

The Struggle

As a person who struggles with mental illness, specifically Bipolar Disorder, sometimes facing the day can be daunting. All that looms ahead, no matter joyful or not, can paralyze me with dread and fear. I have been heard to say that “the bravest thing I do is to get out of bed in the morning”. This is not an exaggeration. There are so many mornings I just want to cover my head with the covers and stay in bed all day. But, I know I can’t. I cannot hide from the world. I have things I need to accomplish, but that alone cannot motivate me to pull back the covers and face my fears. However, there is one thing that does. I have a date with my Father. Not my earthly Dad but my Heavenly Dad. The King of the universe is waiting for me! He desires to talk with me and listen to me. He loves me no matter how fractured I think I am. My self worth is found in Him and Him alone. I am not my illness. God does not see me as my illness, no. He sees me as His child. His precious daughter. The one He loved so much that He sent His son to die for me. And He sees you that way as well. You are not defined by the label of your illness. You are not defined by the opinions of others, your are not even defined by your opinion of yourself. You are defined by the love and grace of your loving Father. The God of the universe adores you! So when you are tempted to stay in bed and hide from the world, remember, your Dad is waiting for you.

Uncategorized

Weakness Equals Strength

When I was first diagnosed, I always asked “why me?”  “Why did I have Bipolar Disorder?” I had trouble getting past those questions. I didn’t understand what I had done to deserve such a life altering illness.  I would go to counseling and ask my therapist, but she had no answers.  She would tell me that no one truly knows why people get Bipolar, it’s just one of those things. Those answers did nothing to quiet the “why me” questions filling my mind. I spent many days trying to find sense out of something that seemed so senseless.  I also spent many hours talking to God to try to understand.

I would search Scripture and pray for healing, but I could not find the answers I sought.  Then one day, I was reading 2 Corinthians 12 about Paul having a “thorn in his flesh”.  He asked God to take it away, but God said no.  God told Paul…

            “My grace us sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”.

It was then that I realized that by asking all those “why me” questions, I was forgetting that God had a plan for me which included my illness. I was looking in when I should have been looking up! I had become so self-centered that I actually blamed God for my illness. Paul reminded me that everything we go through has a purpose.  Paul said he would “boast” of his weakness because it would give God glory. I needed to do the same.

I wanted God to get all the glory for my weaknesses, but how do I boast about a mental illness without alienating people and losing friends? Well, I didn’t.  I told people about my illness and all the while I would remind myself that God will find glory in my weakness.  I lost friends and was judged by some family members, but I did not allow that to keep me form speaking out.  I knew God had allowed this illness into my life for a reason and if I kept quiet about it, I may never find out what that reason was.  I had to be brave.

Do you find yourself hiding your illness? Are you afraid of what others may think?  We must remember that God is our strength and He will get glory from you sharing your illness and your experiences with others. You may be helping someone God puts in your path. They may need to hear your story. We never know what God has planned, but we can be 100% sure that it will work out for our good.  When you are pelted by the “why me?” questions, look up. God has a plan! When you feel weak, remember, God is your strength. Think of Paul and determine to give God glory in everything. Seek God and find your purpose.  Be

Encouragement, Mental Health

God will always Breakthrough

I must be honest. I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. Covid 19 has completely changed the way we do life.  Here in the States, specifically Ohio where I live, we are encouraged to wear masks everywhere we go. Stores are opening but only allowing a few people in at a time. Restaurants are only open for take out and patio dining. Life is definitely different and I’m not sure if it will ever get back to the point we once were. It’s easy to get depressed and feel hopeless during these times.

There have been many suicides attributed to the Covid 19 Virus. People afraid they have it, people getting depressed because they have been cut off from the outside world. Those of us with mental illness are feeling the effects of isolation and fear a bit deeper than others. Darkness seems to be everywhere. Depression is deep and anxiety overwhelming.

But as I write this, I am looking outside my picture window, and do you know what I see?  Sunshine! Bright beautiful sunshine.  It reminds me that no matter how dark I get God’s light always breaks through.  John 1:5 says…

            “And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it”.

We need to remember that we are not going to be left in darkness. Jesus came to bring light and love into the world. That light and love is still here. We may lose sight of it in our current situation, but we are still surrounded by His light.  There is no darkness deep enough that God cannot shine through. And what happens when light meets darkness? The darkness flees.

Your enemy would like nothing more than for you to be immobilized by the fear and the darkness you are living in.  It makes him so happy to render believers helpless. But Jesus defeated Satan and we live in that victory. We live in the light! It may seem harder to see amid these circumstances, but if you look hard enough, you’ll see it. It may be dim at first, but as you go towards it, it will get brighter and brighter. So how do we go towards it?  We pray, we read our Bibles, we soak in His presence and we trust Him to help us through this time.

Sometimes, we do all these things and we don’t get relief right away. That’s OK. Keep pressing in. God is faithful and He will restore you. Yes, the way we do life has changed. Things may never get back to what we consider normal and we will all have to live with that. But the way we seek God, interact with Him, love Him, does not have to change.  He is still on the throne, still in control and He still loves us.

God is our light in the darkness and that light will always breakthrough.

Encouragement, Mental Health

Don’t Ever Quit Trying

There have been so many times in my life I have tried things, like working a regular job, that just didn’t work out.  The stress that working outside my home was too much to take and left me struggling to breathe. Have you experienced this? Have you attempted something that your illness put a stop too? It’s easy to give up.

But we shouldn’t ever give up. There are things worth doing. I’m not just talking about working. Things like starting a ministry, singing in a band, writing that book that is swimming around in your mind.  Anything you desire to do; you should give a try. 

Our illnesses can and do put limits on what we are able to do, but they should not stop us from trying. Sure, things may not work out. You may fail but fail forward.  Allow yourself some leeway to try.  If one thing does not pan out, move on to something else. Don’t allow yourself to stagnate.

It is so easy for us to say we “can’t”. Our illnesses create the perfect “out”. Who expects someone with a mental illness to succeed anyway? Many don’t. But we should have enough faith in ourselves and enough faith in God to pursue our dreams.  God has a plan for each person and who are we to say we cannot do what He has created us to do? Whatever that looks like in your life, know that God will give you the ability and the perseverance to accomplish your goals.

In my Coaching practice, I discuss goal setting all the time.  We need to make a plan to achieve the goals we set. We need to pray and ask God what our purpose is. We need to be aware of the Holy Spirit’s guidance. But most of all, we need to step out in faith and make the attempt. Sometimes we need to make that attempt over and over, but eventually we’ll get it right.

God will never call us to do something he has not equipped us to do. But I am not only talking about what God’s calling is on our lives, I’m also talking about little things we want to do. Maybe, you want to do something just for the fun of it. Something that you have been putting off because your illness gets in the way. Do it anyway. Do it afraid. Don’t allow your illness to be the deciding factor in what you are able to accomplish. If you want to go back to school and get that degree, do it! If you want to be a photographer, or a ministry leader…do it! The worst thing that can happen is that it doesn’t work out.  So what! Move on to the next thing on your goal list.

There is nothing we can do that will make God love us any less. Once we honestly believe that, we are free to set out and try new things. Please don’t let your illness stand in your way. Yes, it may limit you in some areas, but it may free you in others.  Find your purpose. Find your fun. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead and do it afraid! You have nothing to lose!

Encouragement

Hello Beautiful

Did you know you’re beautiful?  You are.  It doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside, inside you are beautiful!  I know you probably don’t see yourself this way. I don’t often see myself as beautiful either, but God says we are beautiful.  We need to believe that.

Among other lies we believe about ourselves; our illnesses whisper to us that we are ugly inside.  Our illnesses embarrass us, and they help relegate us to the unlovable category.  Our behaviors are sometimes odd and sometimes, even a bit scary and people treat us differently once they find out that we have a mental illness.  This can make us feel less than beautiful. This can make us feel rejection, fear, and pain.  All negative.

So how do we turn this negative into a positive? We listen to what Jesus says about us. He is the only plumb line we need to follow.  He has the last word.  It is so easy to identify with our illnesses and give them way too much power over our lives. We quickly become the victim and forget that we are more than the lies that we begin believing about ourselves.

 Don’t think that the enemy of our souls, Satan, isn’t behind those lies. He is! If he can get us to the point of belief, then we are rendered helpless and we are going to suffer needlessly. These lies cripple us with doubt and pain.  We need to stand up against Satan and call him out.  Yes, our illness creates problems for us, but God loves us.  Despite what we think or what Satan tells us, God says we are loved.  We are special and we have our illnesses for a reason.

We may not know what that reason is, but we do not suffer in vain. God has a plan and we are part of that plan. Do not believe the lies. You are not ugly.  It’s time to throw off the blanket of doubt and fear you’ve been carrying! Stand up! Lift up your head! And tell yourself you are beautiful.  “Goodbye regret, emptiness, fear, shame, hopelessness and hello beautiful”. (Quoted from Mercy me – Lifer).

     You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you. (Song of Songs 4:7).

Uncategorized

Flawed

Flawed. Have you ever spoken that word over yourself? I know I have. Even before my diagnosis in 2003, I knew there was a part of me that wasn’t quite like everyone else. I was different both in my thoughts and actions. Most people thought that I was super organized and had so much energy to get things accomplished and could function with little sleep. “Wow! I wish I had that much energy” they would say.  Little did I know, this was mania. Or, on the flip side, feeling so low that I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning let alone face getting four kids up and out the door for school each day.  Times were tough, but I never thought that I had a mental illness. I just thought I was a Mom with too much to do.

But then, in 2003, it all came crashing down and I was forced to seek medical help.  The diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder completely rocked my world.  In that moment, I became less than, I became flawed. This descriptor became my mantel.  I told myself several times each day that I would never be ok.  That having a mental illness put me into a different category than all my friends and family. They were ok, but I was flawed.

I identified as flawed for years.  I would always tell myself that I cannot do anything because my illness dictates what is possible and what is not.  To a degree this is true, but not to the levels I took it.  When people would ask me how I was doing, I would respond by saying I was flawed but getting through it. Or I would make a remark about how my Bipolar brain was calling all the shots now. That was until I started searching scripture about being flawed and loving myself. 

I learned that we are all flawed in some way. No one is perfect except Jesus. But Psalm 139: 13-14 spoke volumes to me…

For you formed my inward parts: You knitted me together in my Mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

We are not flawed.  We are fearfully and wonderfully made. That is how God sees us.  Our lens which we look through to identify and label ourselves is not clear. It has been muddied with all our negative self-talk and opinions of others.  We need to re-evaluate how we see ourselves according to the Word of God. We all have things that we live with that we wish we didn’t, but God never gives us something that He doesn’t also gives us grace to live out.

We see ourselves as flawed because of our illnesses but God sees us as beautiful.  We need to start changing our perceptions of ourselves in light of God’s Word.  He has the last say about who we are.  We are to believe Him for He has all wisdom. And through the blood of Jesus, we are made righteous.

Take time today to rewrite your opinion of yourself into an affirmation that is both loving and true. God does not see you as flawed and neither should you.

Mental Health

In Desperate Need

I tend not to make the best decisions when I am afraid.  I strive to find the easiest way out of my fear, even if that decision will lead to more unrest for my spirit. It’s more of a reaction than a decision. I grab at anything, whether good or bad, to alleviate my discomfort.  Have you ever done the same thing?  Maybe you haven’t.  Maybe you’re that person who doesn’t allow fear to cloud your judgment. Kudos to you! But for me, and I’m sure many others, reacting out of our fears is the norm.  What I really need to do is pray. Pray first. Instead of reacting and making a bad decision, prayer needs to be the first action.

Crafting A Prayer — Graham Cooke.

When we are fearful, our decision-making ability gets skewed.  We forget that God is watching and waiting for us to turn to Him.  But why do we pray as a last resort? Maybe we don’t think God can handle our fears.  Maybe we think our fears are to great to be relieved. Maybe we’ve married our fears and don’t want to let them go.  That may sound odd, but it happens.  We can get so accustomed to being afraid that we think it is part of our emotional makeup.  But God did not create us to be afraid.  Did you know that the words “fear not” appear 365 times in the Bible? Clearly God has set the mandate to not be afraid. 

Fear has gained momentum since we have begun to navigate through the waters of the Corona Virus.  People are right to be concerned and we need to be vigilant to do the social distancing and protocols put down by our respective Governments.  We need to be safe and smart, but we need not fear. We need to pray.  It is only through prayer that we will be able to find rest.  Many are reacting out of fear which is leading to bad decisions.  People putting themselves and others at risk because they do not think through their decisions. They react.

As believers, we know God is in control and we know that this will end eventually. We can be assured of that.  Please do not make a decision based on your fear.  Seek God and find out His plan.  Read His promises. Cast your cares.  I know it’s difficult.  I am having the same issues. But I know the one who is in control. So do you.  Trust in Him and pray and allow God to comfort and reassure you. Don’t’ make a decision out of a reaction. It will usually be the wrong path.  Keep strong in the Lord and make prayer as important as breathing. We’ll get through this. Together.