Saturday, March 29, 2008

Grateful to be Who I Am

When I feel so unthankful, so selfish, so bitter. What better time to thank You, to tell You I so appreciate what You have done with my life. That you would take someone like this: someone like me- and forgive me, clean up my life, and heal me. I can't say enough about You. You have been so good to me.

71. I am grateful that even though there is pain in my family, that Your mercies are new every morning, and Your faithfulness is GREAT.

72. I have never been treated by You as I deserve. You have always, and only loved me.

73. I am grateful that someday this day will be far behind, and that life can be different than it is right now: as soon as tomorrow morning!

74. I am grateful that the gospel brings hope!

75. I am thankful for the actual physical comfort that comes from reading Your Word.

76. I'm glad that when I've been up in the middle of the night, You've been there.

77. I sure appreciate the Miracle Channel. I am glad to be encouraged, and to be spurred on in the fight.

78. I am humbly grateful for the forgiveness of my children.

79. I am glad that hormones don't run my life, but Lord, I am truly grateful that they can change. I am thankful for the times that I laughed this month, but I am also going to appreciate the times that I cried.

80. I am thankful for friends. Grateful for a family. Lord, it is not always how I would have chosen, but I am trusting that it is as You have chosen. I am thankful today that You have called me salt, and light.

Think of it: when I was desperately hungry last night, what did I want? Salt. I would have given anything to be able to eat something fatty and salty. Jesus says that I am the salt of the earth. Sometimes it's uncomfortable, because it means that I am different. It means that I am the one doing the satisfying, rather than the one being satisfied. But there is pleasure too, in being the salt in someone's life who has so very little life or nourishment.

And Light. He has truly made me the light of the world. This winter was a pretty good one here, but I was still amazed at how different I felt when the days began to lengthen. My whole outlook on life was taken over and transformed by the beauty of looking out my breakfast window at the sunrise. Gone were the days of staggering out of bed in the pitch blackness, gone the dimly lit morning bible readings. Now we live like kings! Now, we have LIGHT. I am that light. The beacon that says to someone else: there is hope. Don't give up yet, it will only get brighter from here on in.

Thank You Father, for making me salt, even when it is uncomfortable, and for making me light, even when it means that I am under scrutiny. I love You my Lord, my SALT, my LIGHT. You are everything to me. You have given me new hope.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Hidden Room of the Heart

For the last 1o years or so I have had a recurring dream about houses! The dream is always different, the house is always different, but it always reflects the condition of my heart. I'll tell you the one I had last night, so you can see what I mean.
I dreamed I was visiting a friend of mine, who I haven't seen for a long time. She was showing me all the redecorating they'd done in their house. They didn't have a big house, or a lot of money, but the appearance of the house was very important to her, and she had done a lot of work! There were fancy new window treatments, new stylish colors of paint in every room, and fancy knockdown designs on the walls! My friend had done most of the work herself, with her mother helping in some places. They had hired someone to do the very fine work.
My friend took me all through the house, and at the end of the tour were three rooms that seemed more significant than the others had. The kitchen had been light, and airy, and beautiful, but now the kids play room wasn't so special somehow. I could understand that she hadn't done much work here, because often kids wreck things in their play. They chip the walls, or stain the carpet. So that the room looked rather old and retro seemed rather normal to me. The next room was her sewing room. I didn't look around much, because it seemed that this wasn't a room which she spent a lot of time in, but nevertheless, she was proud of it. It was her special room, and she enjoyed showing it to people. It was HER room. But after this room, there was one last room. She wasn't going to show it to me, but I saw it, and asked her about it. What was this room? I needed to know. Oh, she remarked, it was the other sewing room. What? Another one? I wanted to see this sewing room- what was it like? This room was not very big, it had no windows, and it looked a bit like a dingy basement storage room. I wondered why my friend hadn't done anything with this room, because I could see such potential in it. She seemed to disregard it, and feel a bit embarrassed about it. She didn't feel it was such an important room. I pondered the dream this morning, and this is my interpretation:
Once again, the house is a heart. Many women take great care to tend to the condition of their lives: the parts people can see. They dress it up, make it welcoming, they primp it, and prune it, and make it look good. This isn't merely a selfish interest: women are nurturers, and they want the people around them to be comfortable.
But few women recognize the hidden room of their heart. Not their mind, not their feelings; but the deeper, secret place that few women ever go. They don't even want to acknowledge that this room exists, but this room is the most important, because this room is where God lives. Have you given God a room in your spirit, in your inner most place? I believe God is saying- don't be afraid of that room. Don't be afraid to go there, and examine what's inside, because He sees boundless potential there! God wants to take over the whole house, certainly, but the back room (the hidden room) of your heart is the secret place. This is the place where God lives.
It would serve the depressed woman well to examine what is in that room. We are each born with that room of our spirit, but the disappointing news is, that the room is under enemy jurisdiction from the moment we are born. We are born already sold, as slaves to sin.
But! God gave each man; each woman on earth the choice to decide if they really want to stay in that enemy camp. God gave each of us the privelage of choosing to give the ownership of our secret place (our command central) to Him.
When I was depressed, my secret room was filled with bitterness, depression, anger, hopelessness, and discouragement. There was stuff in there that I had harboured carefully, and then some that I had come with already. You know how if you purchase a new computer, there will be programs that come already installed, like AOL, or MSN. But when you plug that brand new computer in, there will be updates that you will need. Even a brand new computer needs them. Well, I had some preinstalled hatred, some naturally occurring selfishness. When I came to know Jesus, I had to plug into Him, and change the contents of that room. I was in need of some serious updates!
The first thing I threw out was the unforgiveness. This cleared out a huge section, and gave me some real breathing room. I invited Jesus to come and live in this room, and to clean it up with me. I knew that together we could do it. The prayer counselling I recieved was basically changing the ownership of my heart. I didn't want satan and his demons taking advantage of my command central. I turned the lordship of my life over to Jesus.
The first, and most important thing I did after the prayer/ deliverance session was that each morning, I dedicated the first half hour of my day to changing what was coming into my secret room. I began reading the new testament for 1/2 hour each morning while my toddler watched veggietales. In doing this, I was purposely putting something valuable, something beautiful into the secret room of my heart. I had cleaned out my basement storage room, and was now renovating! I was blasting holes for windows, and putting fresh paint on the walls. Each morning I spent with the Lord was renewing my mind, it was transforming the contents of my heart.

You can do it too.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Protected from Depression- Part 2

Yesterday we talked about Psalm 5, and how David cried out to God in desperation, and he expected God to answer him. He believed that God would rescue and protect him.
Today, look at Psalm 17. In verse 6 David states: "I am praying to You because I know You will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray." Here we see again that no matter how terrible the circumstances we find ourselves in, we are to come to God in FAITH. Not in complaint, not in anger, not in despair, but knowing that He is, He is good, and that when we come to Him, we can expect Him to answer, we can expect Him to save us.
Verse 7-8 says: "Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways. By your mighty power you rescue those who seek refuge from their enemies. Guard me as the apple of your eye. Hide me in the shadow of Your wings." This is confirming what we spoke about yesterday, that God is our refuge, and strength, a very present help in time of need.
When a person battles depression, they need protection from assailing thoughts, from attacks against their body, enemy attacks on their family. And here God is telling us that He rescues those who seek refuge. We must make the Lord our hiding place.
On a practical level, how do we do that?
I would start by playing Christian music in the home. You can play it softly in the background if need be, so that it can touch your heart and your spirit, but it doesn't interfere with normal activities. Think of it this way: if you went to the grocery store today, they would have been playing carefully chosen music designed to make you feel comfortable, and inclined to buy. Why shouldn't you have music playing in your home that inclines your heart to peace, to worship. Maybe you don't have any Christian /worship music right now, but you can always use a Christian internet station like K-Love.
Secondly, read the bible aloud in your home. Your faith has to come out of your mouth. This is how God created the world- He said something. Now, don't worry about exactly what you will read, or how much, but read the Word, and do it daily. Five minutes of releasing the Word of God into your life is better than zero minutes!
Thirdly, dedicate your home to the Lord. Make your home to be a place of His presence. Yes, He is present with us always: He lives in us! But just like the local grocery store tries to find ways to make their store more attractive to you- a place where you feel comfortable being- we can make our homes a place that we and our families feel comfortable meeting with God. We are His temple, yes, but we can do so much to make our homes a "meeting place" for the Lord. The Israelites used the blood of a lamb, spread over the doorposts of their homes to signify that they were in covenant with God- the death angel could not touch them. In a similar way, we are in covenant with God through the blood of the lamb, Jesus Christ. We have His Spirit, sent forth into our hearts! To cement this into our hearts, we can take a little bottle of olive oil, and dab some on the top and sides of our doors, signifying that we belong to the Lord: we are under the blood of the Lamb. We belong to Jesus now, not to depression.
Fourth, allow God to show you things in your life that are stealing your peace, or keeping you outside of the refuge of God's protection. Maybe there will be books that you will need to throw out, or TV programs that you will have to stop watching. When I was healed of my depression, I stopped listening to all of my old music. No more radio, no more tapes or cd's. I threw it all away. We've been taught that "you are what you eat", and to some extent we know that's true! Anyone who has seen "Supersize Me" can agree that we are affected by what we eat. But even more so, you are what you eat spiritually. If the Lord is your Refuge, your Hiding Place, then there will be things that you have to stop feeding on. Over time, you will replace these things with what is far better for your spiritual health.
Can I give you a humorous example here? Well when my oldest son was only 2 or so, I had gone through my home, dedicating it to the Lord, declaring His peace, and His presence. I asked Him to show me anything in our home that was displeasing to Him, so that I could get rid of it. As I prayed in my son's bedroom, I came across a little purple teletubby. Something about it stood out to me, and I knew that this was the item I was to get rid of. I guess that's the funny part, because a little purple teletubby doesn't seem like a big deal! But I was doing my best to hear God and obey, so I threw the toy away. It was only a couple of days later that I heard about some controversy over the purple teletubby- I guess parents were concerned that the purple teletubby, who seemed to be male, was carrying a purse. No matter where you stand on the homosexual issue right now, I knew that it was something that wasn't right for my family. My inclination to throw out the purple teletubby was right. It was an occasion for me to practice hearing God's voice. God wanted me to recognize Him, and yield to Him.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Protected From Depression

I have a limited amount of time to type today, so I'm going to try to be fast! I really want to express what's on my heart today, and also it helps to cement it into my memory when I repeat it, write it, or talk about it!
I've been reading in Psalms, and found a few good things I want to share with you. The word gospel really means "good news", and to find out that God doesn't want you to be depressed is GOOD NEWS! This is truly a part of the gospel.
We see in the beginning of the psalm that David is crying out in desperation to God. Do you ever feel like that? Desperate? In verse three David states: "Each morning I bring my requests to You and wait expectantly." This is key! David is not just desperate! Desperation is not enough!! I have discovered over the years of my faith that need is not what moves God! FAITH IS! David was expecting God to do something, he was believing God to act! It is not enough to be in a situation so terrible that you are sure you will never make it out! You must believe that God is good, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him!
Now, I am speaking to myself, as much as to you, but what we see in the word is plain. Let's expect God to do something! David ends the psalm by saying: "But let all who take refuge in You rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread Your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy. For you bless the godly, O Lord; you surround them with Your shield of love."
Here we see that what we really need if we are ever to know true joy, is to take refuge in God. What does that mean? Well sometimes it means that we stop trying to be in charge, and control our own lives. It can mean that we stop trying to make a change in ourselves, in our circumstances, or in others. We turn it over to God, we hand over the reigns. We cast our care upon Him, trusting Him to take care of us. He is our refuge, the place we go to for safety and peace. We can lay down in peace each night knowing that God is in charge, and He is good. He is a security, a blanket that covers us, a refuge. A hiding place.
In verse 12 we learn that God will bless the godly, He will surround them and shield them. This is good news, but often people hear a verse like this and disqualify themselves. They immediately assume that they are not the godly, and therefore cannot receive what the verse is promising. Can I give you two reasons why this isn't so?
First, we need to remember Abraham. He was a "gentile", a common man. A man with no real inherent virtue, but God revealed Himself to him, and it was said of Abraham that he was a friend of God. We are told that Abraham simply believed what God said, and this qualified him as righteous in God's eyes. The one who is righteous, is the one who believes.
Do you believe in Jesus Christ? If so, you are the righteous. You are the one in right standing with God. You are the one who is the very righteousness of God in Jesus Christ. If you believe what God says; you believe who He is; then you are the godly, and the bible says that He will bless you and surround you with a force field of His favour and grace, making you untouchable.
Today take what you've heard here, and add your faith to it. God will not let you down.
The word is a seed. Receive it today, and then hold on to it. Feed it and nourish it daily by reading your bible, by praying, and worshipping God. Your harvest is a harvest of healing, and you will see it come through if you don't quit too soon. Don't give up on God, He is faithful to perform His word, and He will never give up on you.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Power of Contentment

Here's another great article to look at about CONTENTMENT. We've talked about the power of thankfulness to change your circumstances, and even to change what's going on in your brain chemically! We've talked about smiling, and how choosing to rejoice even when things look grim can actually change the course of your emotions. You can bring light to your own life if you will trust God and choose to thank Him- no matter what's going on right now. Sometimes it hurts to give thanks, and smile, and sometimes it just feels hypocritical. But remember, God is always good, so He is always worthy of our thanks! The bad things that are going on in your life right now are not His doing, they are merely an opportunity for Him to do you good, if you will believe. If you can think of NOTHING to thank Him for, at least thank Him for Jesus. Thank Him that because of Jesus, your sins are wiped out, and a home is prepared for you in heaven.
Drop in on Ann Voskamp for some more ideas on thanksgiving.
So go have a look, I don't think I could have said it better myself.
Put on a smile, today is a great day!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Weapon of a Woman's Smile

This was really an awesome article. I know that even once I was no longer depressed, I still had to work at developing a smiley face. I still work at it! Even after my healing, the natural resting place of my face was not a smile, even though I considered myself an optimistic person.

But I have learned! When I wake up feeling nasty, hopeless, despairing, or in pain, I do my repenting even before I get out of bed. I thank God for His presence, I thank Him for my life, I thank Him for a good day, I thank Him that He is with me. I do my repenting in the shower too: I pray in the Spirit, and sometimes sing and worship. Sometimes I make confessions like: I am going to have a good day today! This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it! I tell myself the things I need to hear until I believe them. My believing them makes it so.

The next time you wake up feeling like you wish you hadn't, force a smile on your face (even a fake one) and tell God about all the things you are glad about. Give it ten minutes or so, and the rest of your body will start falling in line too. So go ahead, have a great Monday morning, and put on your very best smile!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Dying to Depression

Today I chatted with someone about the twelve steps. This evening as I write, I wonder "What if there were a series of steps on the ladder up from depression?" What if you could follow an outline, and at the end of your journey, you'd be well?
I don't know what the other 11 steps would be, but today I thought a bit about step one. I would have to say that step one, is to completely, and utterly abandon yourself.
Now I know that sounds scary, and insane to someone who battles depression, and of course even ludicrous to someone who battles suicidal thoughts. So let me clarify.
When I was depressed (10.5 years ago now), my life was consumed by the depression. It was like a monstrous dragon that was insatiable, and no matter how I cared for or bowed to it, it was never enough. It always wanted more. I babied my dragon, feeding it pain killers and antidepressants in hopes that it would be quiet. I put it to bed, and let it watch hour after hour of TV. But to no avail! My dragon would rear its gruesome head at the worst possible of moments! During lunch with people I wanted to impress, or a special occasion with my husband; or even time with my precious son. I was helpless. My dragon had full control.
My dragon tormented me. If there was a chinook, my dragon would grip my head with its claws and squeeze like a vice. If I accidentally ate yellow dye, my dragon would squeeze again, and I was off to the medicine cabinet to find him something to eat.
This dragon stole my first born son's infanthood and babyhood, by stealing his mother's joy. It stole every trace of sexual intimacy I'd had with my husband, and still it wanted more.
Somehow, this dragon was attached to me.
It was attached to my SELF.
To be healed of depression, you have to be willing to let that SELF, the old self who is carrying around the dragon on her back die. Jesus can give you a new self, one that has never had a dragon, nor ever will.
When I surrendered my will to His, when I accepted His cross, I died with Him. I turned the rest of my life over to Him, and in a helpless, dying, desperate way, I gave Him the reins. "I won't try to run my life, or be in charge Jesus. Whatever I am or have from now on, will be because of You. I will live for you".
As I turned over the old SELFISH LIFE, it died, withered, shriveled up apart from me, and deep within my spirit, a cry rose up: Abba, Father! God. My new Daddy. I had been born again.
Now, the flesh that I had been in bondage to didn't run the show anymore, didn't have the keys! The new SPIRIT, the born again inner man inside of me, was beginning to breath, to get to know Him.
10.5 years ago, a new Liberty was born into the earth, and nothing has been able to stop her.

Eliminating Frustration

I know I haven't been around much, I'll work on that! But in the mean time, here's another great link to an article. This is sort of what we talked about the other day, about simplifying your expectations. Go have a look.