Not an easy topic but necessary

My heart hurts. I wrote a few years ago about a local mother that had committed suicide when she was reported missing. Then just this weekend we heard that another community member went missing, this time a young college student. He too, chose to take his own life. The reports in our community of the number of suicides are shocking to me. For one, we live in a small community and two there are so many hurting and desperate people. I also have a number of loved ones that have felt there was only one way out of the deep seeded pain within. Their hurts are going unanswered, either because they are not sharing which is very often the case or because nobody is listening.

I am going to speak of my own experience with life shattering depression. I had been through a very emotional ordeal, that I will leave at that. Then I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and a doctor gave me plenty of medications, medications that messed with my moods and the spiral began.

In the beginning of this battle, I had horrible anxiety. Anxiety that was deep in the soul. This anxiety was rooted from bitterness, anger, disappointment, finances, media and a number of chemical issues within my body. I was a christian woman and felt like my world was spinning out of control. All the promises that I was told, that God had for me, had went right out of my head. I did not share my state with anyone. I thought I could handle it on my own. I thought I was doing a bad job as a child of God, not being able to find my way to victory.

This last weekend before I knew of this young man’s suicide. I had shared at church something that was very evident in my life back in those days and in the lives of others that I have known. It was a word God wanted to share with my congregation.

Anxiety leads to isolation. Isolation leads to depression. Depression leads to destruction. Now let me be clear, I am not claiming to be a medical professional, I am simply a woman who saw a destructive path in my own life and it took a powerful shaking for me to wake up and see what I was doing. This was my pattern and a pattern of many I know personally. I even see it today and as much as I speak out, some are in a place that they can not listen.

This is how it all laid out for me. I was in my deepest state of anxiety and I began to isolate myself. I stayed in bed for months with the fibromyalgia flare no where under control. I began to withdraw from activities. First it was the worship team, then it was gatherings in our home, then I began to withdraw from family and friends and finally my husband and children.

I went so far as to cut people out of my life that I felt were not meeting my need at the time. Sending good-bye letters if you will. I did not tell them how deep my despair was, I just cut them out. I was hoping someone would grab me and not let me go, but nobody did. Either they were too busy or they really were hurt and did not understand where in the world this was coming from. They may have thought they were the only ones I was cutting off, but they were not, there were dozens. I did not even realize I was doing this to be honest. I was just blinded by where I was at.

Then after anxiety, lead to isolation, I was depressed… Seriously depressed! I wasn’t weepy like I always thought depression looked like. I was numb and if there was an emotion it was anger. I sat in that depression. I almost glorified it. I began to have the morbid thoughts that I dare not share with anyone. For I was a christian and I knew better, but I did not know how to pull myself out.

Finally after months and months of constant physical pain with the fibromyalgia and dealing with conventional medicine, I had decided to try a naturopath. My doctor was just giving me more and more pain pills and I had gotten so out of my mind on them that I knew I had to get off. I was not living any more. I was just existing.

So I went to this natural doctor and she basically fired me when I asked her what we could do at the moment. My finances were exhausted and I could not take a bunch of tests that insurance would not cover. I told her where I was at and was there anything we could start on to get me back on track. She said I was only after drugs and she would not work with me. I was done.

I didn’t talk much to Dan on the way home, when I was almost there I unleashed all the hurt and anger and desperation all came out in that moment. Then I went up the stairs and locked myself in the bathroom. That was the defining moment. I was going to do it. I was done and I did not want to live anymore. I cried out to God…. YOU PROMISED ME JOY!!! YOU SAID I HAD JOY TO THE FULL! WHERE IS IT?!?!

I tell you my spirit remembered all those truths as I cried out to God. He answered, “you have my joy at your finger tips, you need to find it.”

My brain for the first time in months was clear as a bell! I was letting my life, my joy be robbed from me. This is what began my  path to writing for joy. I felt lead to write out everything I saw, the question was, what was stealing my joy???

Well I see even clearer at this moment: Anxiety leads to isolation, leads to depression, leads to destruction. But at the time, God had to point out all the ways I was anxious, all the things I was letting in, all the ways that I was being robbed. I had to be proactive. Do I believe in medicine helping depression? Absolutely I do, the right ones. Do I believe having someone to talk to or a counselor can help? Yep I sure do.
But when you are at that place where nothing seemed to be left, self-examination was all I had. I had to choose to root it all out, I had to choose to lay myself down and cut out all the sore junk in my life and let God do the filling. I know my situation was a miracle. I know not all will hear so clearly what their answer is. But I pray, oh how I pray that this tidbit will help you see how someone who really seemed to have so much going for them, was lost in the nasty cycle of mental illness and how it took a great journey of pursuing joy to gain my life again.

If you are hurting, I pray you are not so lost in the darkness that you won’t reach out, try another time to find your victory. Please know that I would love to encourage and be an someone that cares. I have learned long ago though, that another person can not bring your path of healing to you. This just like anything in our life, is our own personal battle. Mine may not look like yours but there is hope. So many others have found hope. This is one way. What will your victory look like?

This is a hard topic, but one that needs to be discussed. Discuss it with your children ( we have middle schoolers committing suicide, even elementary students!!) Discuss it with your spouse, your mom or dad and even the stranger you meet on the street. If you see the opening to a heart that has reached its destruction, speak out! You may be the only voice that has a chance to be heard.

Blessings,
Shaey (Writing for Joy)

Remember when…

It is so easy to be distracted with all the trials and troubles that we face. Those obstacles can be all-encompassing and consuming. The hill we climb seems to grow larger and more difficult with each step, rather than gaining ground, it looks as if we haven’t even begun.

How often when I am full of anxiety and frustration over a situation do I stop and remember how far I have come? What has God already done in my life? Where are those other victories? The mountains I once climbed and conquered that are no more, need to be remembered!

Those testimonies of remember when God did it here, or there and everywhere, are exactly what carry us up those next hills and onto victory.

There was a prayer that was buried deep in my heart three years ago. I cried over and over for this one area, pleading with God to hear me. Other obstacles came up, other battles of my own were in front of me and I let go of that burden I had for another from time to time. But now years later, I am seeing snippets  of God’s victory. Promises made are coming true and I see how much God has done.

Today I face a new battle, yet God says, “remember when?”.  ” Do you remember how I have moved in your life and in the life of others that you have prayed for?” ” Do you not see the work that I have done and have confidence that I will always be at work in your life?”

To which my only response can be, “YES LORD, I DO !”  I do remember when He healed my son of horrible PTSD. I do remember when He restored my husband’s job. I do remember how He met me in the deepest depression and taught me how to live life with the fullness of joy! I do remember how He miraculously had intervened time and time again! I will not forget His faithfulness. I will trust that every good work He has begun, He will continue. Though the flesh may try to rise up with anxiety, I will speak out the truths of WHO HE IS.

God has not given us a spirit of fear. God did not create us to be failures. God is ALIVE and living and moving within my life and yours and you can do ALL things that He has for you to accomplish.

I ask you…… Remember when. If you have not seen a victory yet, hold on, it is coming and you can put that in your remembrance book!!!

Blessings

 

Spiritual authority… Say what?!

The Webster states – Authority:
1. The power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience.
“he had absolute authority over his subordinates”
Lately I have been so deflated! Not defeated mind  you, as my heart and mind I feel are walking in the fullness of Joy most of the time. but just flat-out deflated. A balloon that has had tiny little pin pricks poked at it and slowly with each assault has left it unable to maintain its bouncy excited self. Little by little, it loses it’s ability until it is laying down in the dirt, a pathetic soggy mess. Yep that is me lately, absolutely EXHAUSTED. I have been sick for months.  One illness or another from my preschool has hit me on top of chronic battles and  I am left not feeling very light and airy!
I start my week looking at all I want to do and immediately the doubts start coming in. I better start conserving my energy for the week. I better not do that or plan that because I don’t want to have to cancel. Even though there is wisdom in not doing too much, I already start off with a failure mindset.
I would wake up sore and sick, everything remaining the same. It was a pin prick, and I would ask the Lord, “GOD why is this season so hard?”
I was driving to work this week and there was a speaker on the radio that mentioned the word’s spiritual authority. I didn’t have time to listen to the message but the words hit me like cold water to the face. I have been in the church most of my life and have learned about our authority. But the word that stuck out to me was SPIRITUAL authority.
Matthew 16:15-19
Selah (let that sink in)
I have GIVEN you the Kingdom!
He said to me…Spiritual authority, say what?! What are you saying lately?  Who are you saying that I am?  WHAT are you doing lately? Why have you become so deflated in the midst of your battles? Where is your armor? (Ephesians 6:10-20)  I have GIVEN you the Kingdom!
I have become so distracted by trying to stay afloat, that I don’t practice keeping my spiritual man strengthened the same way I do when I am not working, or involved in so much. I mean; I pray, listen to worship music, read a verse a day. But actually PRESSING in, spending time letting the Holy Spirit minister to my soul, developing my spirit man into the warrior that He is, letting the gifting pour out of me and say I AM WELL, IT IS WELL, HE MAKES ME WELL!!! I have been rolling up in a ball overnight eating comfort food and watching television. I mean seriously that is NOT how I am going to strengthen my spirit man for the battle in front of me.
Keeping the struggles in their place, and letting God take up the throne in my life that is His, is the only way to victory. Sure things happen, sure my body struggled that day, BUT GOD, He makes me whole and He always always always, did I say always, ALWAYS meets me when I get off the ground and let Him pour into my soul.
It is SPIRITUAL my friends. The battle is in the spirit, not my mind, not my might but by His power of His spirit.
The sad thing is, I know over the years I have written on this very topic. All the pain, illnesses, stressors, still pick and poke at me and I get so blurred by it all that I get deflated and dragged down and have to learn this lesson ALL over again!  He tells me to rest and then I just get lazy! Flat out Lazy !
With each revelation and taking action with said revelation, He gives me an even stronger understanding of His spirit. The spirit of God operates and moves in me and then pours out on those around me. When I am in the battle, it effects more than just myself. I get so wrapped up in the me, I forget that I have a call, a purpose, a mission to spread my Jesus love to others and lift their heart in their sorrows.
My spirit has been made weak in my distraction leading to disobedience. Worship is my key, and I am asking the Lord, make me stronger and give me new songs, a new energy and zeal for this season!
I see it now, the soothing salve, covering every pin prick…. each hole sealed. The spirit of the Lord filling and filling. I will rise, I will conquer, I will STAND and…float again with His strength and assurances. I have authority over my mind and allowing these pin pricks to deflate me!!! He grants me the authority!

The wind blows

I was driving home today after a very rough few weeks. I hurt so much some days and every virus under the sun is back in full swing in the classroom. I have new kiddo’s this season and they are YOUNG three-year olds, so this means much more of my energy is being used physically as they learn the classroom and need assistance.

I was fatigued as I drove along, but ahead of me I saw a display of clouds that the sun was hitting. At first it was just clouds, but as I saw the wind blowing them, there appeared very distinctive images. The first was a bunny that was followed by a bear. This drew my attention. The sun was hitting just right to highlight each picture that was before me. The final picture was a child’s face and a perfect angel, giving a kiss. I  kid you not! These were perfect, clear pictures in the clouds. If I wasn’t driving I would have taken pictures!!

Then it hit me. In the beginning there was nothing, then each image became more and more detailed as the wind blew. Giving a hear lifting moment as I saw that angel kiss.

The winds blow in our life, it is hard when we are walking against those winds. We are being blown to and fro. But there is a perfect work being done in us!

As tough as my work may be, each day I grow closer and closer to my students. I see areas that I can help them become more independent and I can take those challenging days and turn them into something beautiful. My creativity flows from their energy and interests and sometimes the winds blowing, are exactly what I need to be blown into the right direction.

Trials and struggles in our life can be used to put us in the right position. To grow stronger as we withstand those winds blowing.

A scripture given to me today that ties in perfectly! How amazing is He!?!

Philippians 1:6

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

He will use those winds that blow, just as He lifts the wings of His eagles and supports them, carrying them where they need to be. He will complete the work he has begun in me! Placing me just where I need to be. Yes Lord! I am ready!!!

Take that step!!

Holding onto the newly turned one year old’s hand, he was taking strong and steady steps.
I would work with him for a while as he would smile boldly and take step after step around the room. I would begin to loosen my grip and his smile would fade. His sights on what he was heading towards with excitement, had shifted and he was looking for anything to hold onto and instead of his brilliant smile, there was a look of fear. He had the ability, he had the strength, he had the interest, yet he still would not take those steps. He would sit down without my hand, over and over. He could do it, but he didn’t want to fall, so he would not try anymore, the many tumbles still fresh in his mind.

How many times do I see in my sites the very thing I desire, the very thing I am dreaming of and yet I sit? I don’t want to fall, I don’t want to be hurt and I don’t want to fail again.

I feel the nudging and the encouragement that I am ready,  I see it within my grasp, but so many times I have stumbled and been left bruised and hurting.  When will I let go of my false sense of security that is actually holding me back in the long run?

The toddler trying to walk with my hands, could only go so far as I would let him. He could not walk without my say so and if I was doing something else that day, he would have to just wait. Soon he will learn the great pleasure that walking with bold confidence will bring him.

Oh the amazing sense of joy that comes from taking those first steps into the beautiful things that the Lord has lay ahead for us. No matter what has led us to this place, we can boldly step forward and face head on the things that weight us down and hold us back. With the knowledge that the Lord gave us all that we needed to succeed. We learned to crawl, we built our muscles, we held on while we learned and now it is time to step ahead. Open up our hands freely and run to the very thing that we had been training for.

Go ahead my sweet friend, take the step. I know you can do it!!!

Knowing when to rest

One of the hardest things for me while balancing fibromyalgia, working full-time, church and my family, is how much is just flat-out tired and how much could be depression.

For years I have blogged, taken medication, exercised, worship & danced, painted and photographed away the ‘blues’. But in this season with work and medical changes, I am doing less and less of those things and see that there is less and less energy for the things that brought rest from stress.

I love my job, I find it very inspiring and joyful to work daily with my preschool kids. But I must find a good balance to manage everything. I have decided to take on even more with obeying the Lord’s call to carrying my friends baby/babies and I wonder, God really, can I do this?
This is when God spoke to me this morning and said, “no, you are not limited or depressed, you are tired. You must know when to stop and rest your body and lean on me for strength.”

If I am working full-time, there is not necessarily the energy to run all weekend every weekend and right now that is my reality. I have been running and pushing far too much for far too long.

Also during the week, I can not reach for the quick and easy bite on my lunch break going to the nearest fast food joint. This makes me ill and fibromyalgia flares. I must take time and plan out my meals, do the shopping in one stop and put together those meals, for a better week. I often fuel on coffee and skip the water, so bad for me. I can be consistent with supplements and then forget them for a season until I can’t go anymore because I am deficient in critical vitamins and minerals. I must make the effort to take care of me. Again, this takes time and energy but in the long run will give my body what it needs to encourage health.

When one battles with fibromyalgia, there comes a point when your pain becomes your normal. You just keep pushing through it, knowing the pain itself will not kill you. It isn’t until you keep pushing and can hardly move anymore, that you realize, oh no I did too much. It is a fine balance between living and recovering.

It is time to remember the instruction to REST. The Lord God almighty himself RESTED.
Why do I feel I must do it all. I must make the decision, work full-time which I love, or bring down my hours for more time to keep up with it all and pursue other interests.

In the meantime of pondering this decision. I say yes Lord, I will hear you and I will take the time to REST.

Their dream…not mine

When I first held my tiny newborn, so much stirred within. The biggest feeling that would tend to overwhelm, would be my hope in his future.
As I held him close and prayed over each step that he would one day take, my dream formed in my head.

When his talents began to emerge, again, I would dream about how he would influence the kingdom. I had it all pictured and mapped out, he would go into the mission field and minister to the weary. He would go to college, lead worship before a church and find a good girl by time he was 20, who loved Jesus. Grand babies would be on the way before I knew it.

Then as the years passed by, his adult world began to settle into his own rhythm. I learned how much he had struggled with depression and anxiety and that it would greatly influence his music. The songs that he would write, were not the kind to be brought to a worship service and seemed so dark and heavy. I can’t count how many times that I mentioned, lighten them up for better listening, or,  give hope within them to reach the lost. On and on the motherly advice would go and he would sincerely listen, nod his head and continue to write.

We had many days of playing and singing together. We would write song after song, and I would watch his talent grow.

The days no longer look the same, he has stepped into his own creativity and rarely do I hear, “hey mom, help me with this!”

I know that distancing himself is healthy, but when I saw him distance himself from the church I grieved. He continually told me he didn’t feel he fit the mold to be on a team. He has of lately not even going with us anymore to our church and I see lifestyle choices far different from mine.

For a moment, I began to fear and my heart would hurt over what was to be his future and then like a ton of bricks, I realized that I had raised him. He is a child of God and the Lord has a call on his life. It may look very differently that what I had dreamed and lived out for him. He has his own journey to take. I can look at him with great pride and say, he is mine and I am grateful.

What kind of parent would I be, if I didn’t let my son, discover his own future and world.

Then there is the clarity that comes;  I don’t always completely understand, but with a glimpse the Lord will allow me to see tidbits of the work He is doing.

Do you know, those dark and crazy songs have reached the heart of many!

Do you know that his dream doesn’t ‘fit’ because his dream and call is unique!

Thank the Lord I am slowly learning, their dream, not mine.

God have your way and forgive me as I now intrust my son to you for real, and step back and watch your mighty work.

The joy of parenting is watching them spread their wings and prepare to take flight. I never realized how hard it was going to be when those wings began lifting off.

Thank you Lord for new clarity.

 

1 Peter 5:7
Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.