Seeking Joy

 

rw proverbs

The passing of funny man, Robin Williams, broke many hearts. There was an outpouring of love for him, which made me think about how much pain he must have been in to take his life when so many loved him. From the outside it looked like he had it all. Fame, fortune and the love of millions. When you think of someone who is hurting enough to kill themselves, you don’t usually think of someone  known for being funny and bringing laughter into the hearts of so many. Depression usually has the face of a bullied teen or a person who has had a rough life or someone who is lacking things like a home or job. Robin Williams had more than enough money, he was so talented and lived a life many dream about. It goes to show that those “things” mean nothing when you are broken inside. We will never know exactly what went on in Robin’s mind or anyone who commits suicide, but I know it is a dark place to be.

 

I also suffer from depression.I hate typing those words out. I am a Christian I am supposed to be strong. I have God living in me, but the truth is my flesh gets in the way. My mind fills up with moments of feeling worthless. I may not have as much money as Robin but I do well. I have a beautiful home, I am married, I have an awesome child and have had a great life. I have had the typical sad moments..but nothing like finding out I have Parkinson’s. What I do have though is the love of my Heavenly Father. Not once, even in my lowest moments, did I ever question that love. NOT ONCE. That is the peace that I think Robin was lacking. I can’t speak about his faith, so I don’t want to assume he did not know God. He grew up in church but mocked religion many times. Only God knows his heart. I couldn’t imagine going through depression without God. I really can’t imagine going through anything good or bad without God.

I wanted to write this post far before I heard about the passing of Robin Williams. Depression is something that affects many. There has been a surge in the use of anti-depressants and so many people suffer from depression. I was prescribed many pills over the years, but I refuse to take them. I know that  I serve a mighty God who can get me through my bad days. I need to learn to lean on him and find peace that only He can give me.

The root of depression, for me at least, is change. There is something about myself that I don’t like and I beat myself up about it. Each time I fail it gets worse. I am reading a great book right now called: “Lord. Change.Me“. by James Macdonald. He wrote something very encouraging that I think everyone suffering from depression should read (actually everyone should read it).

Maybe it’s not so small.

Something no else knows about.

You’ve tried and tried and tried…

and failed.

Now you feel stuck.

Overwhelmed.

Guilty perhaps.

Bad habits, anger, fear, bitterness, relational fallout.

Does it seem beyond your control?

Is it really?

Or is something telling you there’ still hope?

Because there is.

Remember this:

There’s only one source of lasting change.

And it’s not you.

But He’s closer than you think.

Just look up.

God wants to transform you.

He’s waiting now to hear your prayer…

Lord change me.

How I wish I could have shared these words with Robin. I wish I could tell this to anyone who feels ashamed of their past, alone in their present or afraid of their future. I am seeking  joy. I am trading my sorrow….hmmm I feel a song coming on…come on now join with me:

I’m pressed but not crushed persecuted not abandoned
Struck down but not destroyed
I’m blessed beyond the curse for his promise will endure
And His joy’s gonna be my strength

Though the sorrow may last for the night
His joy comes with the morning

I pray that we find comfort in these words and know that we serve a God who is merciful and full of grace. No matter what we think of ourselves, God has great plans for us, we just need to be willing to follow Him. Even in our loneliest hour… He is always there.

Summer

Jesus loves ME: Learning to love yourself so that you can love others

Nobody likes me…everybody hates me…I guess I’ll go eat worms.

I remember the first time I read this book in Elementary school and I so related.
As a young girl I should have not found a connection with this self loathing little boy depicted in, “How to Eat Fried Worms”, but I did. I was shy and not very happy with myself even as a child. So fast forward to year 31 of my life and I still can relate to that little boy. I thought one day the self-hate would switch off, but it hasn’t. I realized, very slowly, that I had to actually work at it. You see I thought if I just prayed, it would go away. At times that did work. I remember in 11th grade getting on my knees begging God to take away my fear. To make me not shy and guess what He did. He took away my fear, but I did not doing anything after that point and the fear began to creep back in.

Being shy stems from being fearful. It also stems from a lack of self-confidence. I grew up with a lot of rules. A lot of boundaries. I learned to be happy and safe in my little square. Never taking any risks that might upset the safety I felt. Unfortunately, I never took the time to figure out who I was. Never took the time to figure out who I was in Christ, because that was scary to me. I was afraid I would make a mistake. I just went along with what my family believed and mindlessly lived. I was living very unintentionally.

When you are younger and you are shy, it is cute. I was “Sweet Summer”. When you are older and shy/fearful you are seen as unapproachable, unloving and not someone most people want to be around. This breeds hate towards others. I thought, well they just need to accept me.People need to realize that I am shy and can’t carry on a conversation. That is where I was wrong. I was not engaging people. I was not asking people questions. I didn’t think anyone cared about me so, why would I care about anyone else. Sweet Summer….yeah she was long gone. I became Judgmental Summer and Unloving Summer. I was lost in my own mind many times. Without getting too personal(too late) I was falling apart. I am talking presently folks. I am trying to pick up the pieces and put myself back together.

The first step, God revealed to me was that I needed to love myself. At first I was like…this is selfish. But I began to read some sermons on loving yourself and how that turns into loving others. In Matthew, a rich young man asks Jesus, what good things he needed to do to have eternal life. I love Jesus’ response: “Why do you ask me about what is good. There is only One who is good. If you want eternal life obey the commandments”. One of those commandments is to love your neighbor as yourself. I can’t help but picture one of those funny pics with the phrase NAILED IT or the ones that show what you think you look like as opposed to what you really look like. Let me show you a pic, just in case you don’t know what I am talking about:

 

I thought I was “nailing it” as depicted in the top pic, when in reality I was totally wrong, looking like a  fool depicted in the bottom pics. What was happening was I was loving others as much as I loved myself…which was not at all.

As a Christian, we can be labeled as judgmental. I would say that was true of myself. I was so lost in being perfect. I could never measure up. I continually failed, because being perfect is only given to ONE, as Jesus mentioned in Matthew 19:17. Each time I failed at living this perfect life I felt worthless. I felt like I failed others. I felt like no one would like me since I sucked at life. Even at 31, after being married for 10 years and having a loving 4 year old(almost 5!!!) I still felt unwanted and depressed.

One day I woke up and was feeling especially unwanted. I felt most of my relationships were failing. I started the blame game and self-loathing. Why would anyone want to be my friend??…I am a mess! But, God stepped in. He is good like that. In my moments of despair He is always there. I have to say never once in my life have I ever felt unloved by God. Not ONCE! He has given me the strength to fight through my fears before. Most people in my life are a little tired of waiting for me to “grow up” but not God He is faithful and His love never waivers.

Through out this whole post…the enemy has told me I am not good enough. Nobody is going to want to read this. You are crazy(that may be a bit true). You are sharing too much. But………God has given me this life to do great things and I can’t be scared. I have to be me. I have to be who God wants me to be. Is this a struggle for you? I know daily I am faced with trying to measure up to others. Instead of measuring up… I want to be proud of others accomplishments. I want to work on my own strengths. Whatever I do, I need to give it my all. So, at the end of the day, even if I do fail, I know that I tried. I recently started working out everyday. Now it is more like 3-4 times a week but that is huge for me. I remember the first workout I did I was so weak, but I gave it all I had and when I was done I literally fell to the floor crying. One because I was in pain, but two because I did it! I accomplished something that I had told myself I couldn’t. Believing lies about yourself is dangerous my friends. Living an unintentional life is dangerous. Be confident in who God has made you to be. If you have fears like me, ask God for help. If you truly believe He is God then know that He’s got this. Whatever you are struggling with He will be right there along side you. These struggles even make us stronger. This isn’t the first time I have had to talk myself out of a dark place. This is the first time I have made plans though and am learning to love myself.

The day after I was having a dark day, I wrote this on my wrist. I don’t know if I will ever get a tattoo, but if I do I think having this wonderful reminder is a pretty great idea:

My plans are to get back to a place where I can love myself and love others in return. That my hardened heart would be made tender. I know helping others is where I need to start to focus. Doing selfless acts makes me love myself more..not in a selfish way… but in a way that I am proud to be doing what God has called me to. Getting off Facebook was one of those steps. I know some people really miss me…I feel really blessed, I really do. Many were bummed they wouldn’t be able to read my blog posts. Again I was so happy to read that. For me Facebook has so much good, but there were days where I would get so judgmental of people. I began to hate some of my friends and it just wasn’t healthy. So, Facebook has to go for a bit. I hope to be in a better place soon. I am so thankful to have a relationship with God and that He has made it very clear what I need to do. Yes, Jesus Loves me and you too!

Summer

Prayer-Am I doing this right???

Every Sunday night a group of 20/30 somethings meet to develop our leadership skills and to get to know ourselves..others and most importantly God better. We wrapped up the first section about ourselves. I really enjoyed hearing others’ testimonies and I even enjoyed talking about myself…selfish I know. The next step is getting to know God. I have to admit I thought this might get a bit boring. Again selfish. Then when we were handed the Westminster “shorter” Catechism, my fears were confirmed…until we started to dive in. I had no idea what this Westminster Catechism was. To me it sounded like something from long ago and had no relevancy for me today(there I go being selfish again).After going over a few of the first points in this Catechism..we somehow got into a debate on prayer. Really didn’t know there was anything to debate…but let me tell you there were some very different views. Mind you I did not say one word during this debate…I know shocking! When I am not 100% certain about the subject being discussed I do not say anything. Which causes me not to say much at all…ever…because well I am not that smart. One girl in the class said that the “debate” was great and that we needed it…it causes us to look deeper into what we truly believe…something I have been working on. It is true…debate is great..not when it gets heated and ugly…but a civil debate on the truth is ok. But then I thought well what does God’s Word say about prayer? There is only one side right? The right side? God’s Word. I think maybe debate is the wrong term. It was just a difference in our own personal way we pray. Are you a specific prayer-er??? Are your prayers more general..less specific???
I came across this photo this week..that God wanted me to see..I am sure of:
The debate was about generalizing your prayer vs. being specific. I can see fault in both sides..but it was something I never really thought about. I took everything in..had no real stance on it…but it remained heavy on my heart. Was I praying wrong? For me..I pray both ways. Sometimes I just don’t have the words..like the little girl above. Sometimes my prayer is simple..”Lord, do your thang!”. God already knows what it is that we need or what we desire. That is what is so wonderful. I don’t have to be specific if I do not know what it is I should pray. But if we remain in God’s Word, as he tells us in John 15:7, “pray and it will be given to you”. Does that mean that whatever we desire will be given to us? No, God knows our heart..he knows what is best and the outcome of the prayer may not be exactly what we pray for, but better. I think we can all attest to that as believers. So, now back to the other type of prayer…specific prayers. I immediately saw a danger in this for myself. If you are not praying in accordance to God’s will, but out of your own selfish desires, I can see where we could get upset when the specific prayer is answered in a different way and we miss it or it is not answered at all. I think the underlying truth in this all is that if we are in God’s word and not praying selfishly then it doesn’t matter how general or specific our prayers are. AMEN!
I came across a series of podcasts from a pastor by the name of Jack Hibbs titled, “Suffering, Prayer and the Will of God”. He touched on the subject of prayer. I really enjoyed what he had to say about those who pray for their own glory or to draw attention on themselves. He spoke of a woman who was sick. In James 5:13-18 it talks about those who are sick to call upon the elders and have them lay hands on them and they will be healed. This woman called upon the elders and she was not healed. One of the elders mentioned to her if it were possible if she was living in sin??? She was a little perturbed by that question and went home and continued to get sicker. She then realized that she had hate in her heart for another member of the church and had thought horrible thoughts about this woman for nearly 30 years. It had made her ill. She was living in sin. She confessed her sin to God and was healed. In the past I had a hard time with this…but I found the difference. There is sinning and then there is living in sin. We have a daily battle with sin…choosing to remain in that sin will cost us. I hesitate to even write about this because who am I to judge someone??? I believe that God gave this truth to me and it is in His word right there in James. “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective”-James 5:16. Sometimes we are ill because of our sin…there I said it…God’s word says it. The issue I had was though does it affect others in our lives…like our children…grandchildren…unfortunately yes. Generational sin is so huge! If you have not confessed those sins and made known those sins of the generational sins before you than you need to. Even if you do not sin those sins…make them known…walk away from any temptation that might bring you to that place of sin that has plagued your family.
I love this from restoringyourlife.org:
“How it works. When a person has sinned, that sin stands in need of being confessed. If the person doesn’t confess it, then his children must confess it in order to break the generational pattern. Like an “outstanding” debt, the person’s sin “hangs out there,” impacting his descendants, until it is addressed through confession and cleared away. We are not required to take responsibility for our ancestors’ sins, but we are to acknowledge and confess their sin. (We agree with God that they were wrong and that God was right.) God asks us to accept responsibility for our own sin and to repent and be humbled. Understand that the passing down of iniquity (sin) is just that – the passing down of iniquity (sin). My parents’ sin does not become my sin, until I have made the choice to sin myself in the same way.”
 God loves you. He loves you so much that he disciplines you. Now that I have a child I understand this. Spankings are good. They are a consequence for our bad actions. They keep us from harm. They are a reminder. Know what you are dealing with as far as generational sins and ask God to guide you away from those evils. 
Ok…back to prayer:) Jack Hibbs also talks about the person who commands God when they are praying. Or wills something for someone. You are not God…stop trying to take His job away. He is able and can do all things. Father knows best. Take yourself out of it. Also, Jack warns about the person who treats prayer as an announcement of hopelessness. Again that prayer turns inward and the focus is on the person…woe is me type of prayer…and does not serve any good. There is also the person who prays and really is just gossiping.  I am sure you have heard the person when you are going around the circle say, “Please pray for Susie…she is having some difficulties with her marriage that she came to me about and just really needs prayer”. Meanwhile Susie went to this “friend” seeking help and did not want her issues to be shared at the women’s bible study for all to hear.

To sum it all up. When we are in God’s word and His word abides in us then our prayers will be pleasing to him. Yield to God…make your requests known to Him and if you do not know what to pray at that time..that is ok..He is God He knows…He just wants to hear from His children.

Summer

FAIL!!!

So…I decided that I needed to lose some weight. Well more like a ton of weight. It is something that I continue to struggle with.. The idea of having another child is frightening. I would for sure not be in tip top shape. I still have not made an effort to lose the “baby weight” and Shane is now 2..almost 2.5 years old. Needless to say I have not been very good at accomplishing anything for a few years.
I like to take things s-l-o-w. I tried to quit drinking Dr.Pepper for like the 50th time. I lasted 2 weeks. I would have gone longer..but people’s lives were in danger and I felt it was best to get back on the stuff. I sound like a drug addict..but I am addicted and I was mean, grumpy and no fun to be around during my detox. So…I failed. Dr. Pepper is now back in my life. The Dr. is not allowed in my house..but is invited to join me at lunch and dinner and long car rides..or short ones..or times I drive just to pick up the Dr and nothing else…ugghhhh…why do you have to be so good Dr. Bad..Bad…Dr.
Ok, back to the issue at hand…my fatness. I say that I will not do certain things until I am skinny. It is such a horrible thing to be over weight and not do things you love. I decided to do a juice diet… more so..a detox. My Brother in law did it and totally killed it. So, I watched the ever so life changing documentary. You know the ones that make you feel so passionate at the end you feel you can conquer the world..or that everything you do is wrong..or everyone around you is crazy. I was impressed because this guy went on a juice only diet for two months. He did say that was extreme..but the idea of juicing for just a week was, in general, a great idea. I need to detox and I need to get some good nutrients in my body. I am pretty sure if I were to get my blood drawn it would consist of mostly Dr. Pepper.
I was really motivated and after talking with my sister found out she had a juicer..perfect! I went to Sprouts spent 40.00 on produce and was ready to conquer my Monday! I made my first juice for breakfast…and that was my last juice..not for the day…FOREVER! EWWWW…gross..no way..are you serious??? Blahhhhhh! Needless to say..it was nasty and I failed! “Oh Lord, what am I going to do with myself”..I cried out.  I realized that I am doing things that are too extreme. I am not an extreme person. God has taught me that I need to think things through…I have to mull over decisions for quite sometime. The best way for me to lose the weight is to eat less..eat healthy and exercise. That is the key..if you can juice than that is great..but if not it’s ok. Just be healthy..find the time to exercise..even if it is only 15 minutes a day. So, if I get preggo that’s fine I had PLENTY of time to lose the weight and I will just have to be extra careful when the time comes. Plus…I would just lose the weight and then get fat again..I guess I will just get fatter and then have even more weight to lose. It happens…failure is ok as long as I keep trying and eventually I will be SKINNY:).
You might be wondering what I did with all that extra produce I had….I made this(below..see there is spinach in there and plan on making an Apple Pie with the apples…Winning!!!! 🙂 Update: Just made a carrot cake with all those carrots I bought:) I need help..hahahaha.

Summer

Hanging onto my 20’s life crisis

Yes, it is true..in five short days I will be 29. Getting closer and closer to the dreaded 30s. My youth will be over in one year. I will start to shrivel up(aka wrinkles) gain MORE weight in my mid section…find gray hairs in my once beautiful long blonde locks…most likely I will have to cut my hair short…that seems to be the norm of 30 year olds. I might even find myself wearing the ever popular mom jeans. Yes…my youth will most certainly be over.
Ok…maybe I am exaggerating a bit(just a bit) but seriously this is scary stuff people. I am already listening to country because “there is nothing else good on the radio” ***gasp*** it has begun…I am on my way to getting old..one step closer to death. Sorry there I go again exaggerating…or am I speaking the truth?????hmmmm….
So, you can tell I am not one of those people who look forward to aging. This year is hard…my sister in law warned me she said 30 wasn’t bad but for some reason 29 was. It is your last year of your 20s. I thought once I got closer to 30 I would not have that notion that 30 is old, as i did when I was 5, but folks, it IS old. Maybe, I am not so thrilled with this idea of getting older because I am not living my life as I would really want. Am I enjoying every aspect of this wonderful gift of life God has given me? Maybe that is the reason for my detest of aging.
I need to look deeper into this thinking of mine…(hold on this is going to be crazy). In the last few months we lost a few people. For some reason in my life people usually die in threes. I know they say this happens with celebrities too. Scott lost a cousin…we were not close to him..but it is still family and were saddened. We then lost a wonderful dear friend at church..Jim. Jim was a caring and helpful soul. He handed out the bulletins at church each Sunday morning and I would always wait for him to give me one..because his hugs were the BEST:). Then within a week we lost another man at our church, Ken. Ken and Jim were good friends. So, our church was faced with planning two memorials within a week of each other. Jim’s memorial was great…but what was unexpected for me was Ken’s Celebration of Life Memorial. I did not know Ken..I knew his wife. They were very involved in our church. The stories that were shared and Ken’s memorial touched me so. Everyone loved him dearly. He had a twin brother..who shared stories about them growing up and all the trouble they got into. It was so uplifting to hear what a Godly man he was and the legacy he left behind. It is hard to lose anyone. Death is never easy. But the legacy that he left behind made me think about my own life. Family members came up and talked about things he had taught them.Not just how to fix a car or other day to day stuff…but most importantly he shared GOD. You could see that Ken had shared God’s love with everyone he came in contact with. Even in his pain he praised God.
Although I did not know Ken…which I am very bummed I did not…his love for God uplifted me. I am young..despite what my crazy brain tells me. Even if I have many years left or just a few…what I need to be focused on is leaving a legacy behind that is gratifying to Christ. One that is filled with triumphs of leading others to Christ. There is a lot of inner cleansing that I need to do. I need to get over somethings. Thankfully God is patient.
God sees our earthly life as preparation for the greater joys of heaven(See Mark 8:36). No matter what earthly issues I may have with getting older or even fears I have of death..I need to work on my legacy that I will leave behind. Will your memorial be one that gives hope to others??Will it encourage and uplift family and friends??? What are you doing to live your life for the one who gave you this wonderful gift of life?
In conclusion, I am still learning to embrace my “old age” but really working through my fears and taking the time to cultivate loving relationships. I still have a long way to go…and many hurdles to jump..but God is waiting and His love alone will get me through any more of my “life crisis” moments I may have. PTL!!!
Summer