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)

I am ALIVE RIGHT NOW

A dear friend of ours has been told that he only pumps ten percent of oxygen into his blood that his body needs. He is going through the process of discussing life options with hospice, planning where he wants to be when he dies.

I LOVE his heart and attitude. He knows that even though He is not technically well, that GOD has a plan for him and our friend knows he WILL LIVE every one of those days the Lord has planned.

Our friend has taught me to be a life-giver to those around me, to bring joy into the worlds depressing situations. He reminds me anew that the situation around us does not matter.

He always has a smile to greet us, his words to me a few days ago ministered to me deeply,

” I am not dying tomorrow, and I am alive right now!”

He was not spending our whole visit focusing on his death, or that one day he will die, maybe even soon…. he wants to live in his life in the moment of NOW.

He knows he is ready  to die, whenever the time may come, and he may flesh out and have a moment of doubt and frustration, but he doesn’t STAY there.

Fear is NOT an option. We have so much before us that if we stand and live in fear of our death or our health or our ‘what ifs’ we will be miserable!

I walked away from that moment of my technically dying friend, BLESSED!

He has decided NOT to live in a pity party, oh he has his moments but is not living in fret, working at not being angry, but to rejoice, and just love on the ones he has opportunity to love on all the days he has left. What a wonderful way to LIVE!

Challenge this day my friend: No matter what we are going through, we can rejoice that there is LIFE in us. The LIVING GOD has breathed new life into His children. We are not the old, we are not the same, we can have FULL victory over death and the darkness. Say to yourself… ” I AM ALIVE RIGHT NOW!”

Colossians 2:13

You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.

Lepers are everywhere

At church today a group was telling us about their experience in India and how blessed they were to have been a blessing. The reaction of the leprous community to touch and respect was heart-moving. The contact with an outsider, meant SO much to them. The man went on to say that even if we can not all travel around the world, there are ‘lepers’ all over our communities, you know the unlovelies… and it got me to thinking.

How many times have I passed by the harried mother that was just screaming at her child because she is so frustrated with her situation, without taking the moment to encourage her? How many children have crossed my path that I have hurried along as they try to talk with me, because I need to be somewhere?

Just recently outside a restaurant a man asked for change and being in a society where a debit card is always used, I truly didn’t have any. Also even if I did I would have hesitated pulling open my purse with a stranger in the dark at ten o clock at night. I went in with my friend to the restaurant and  we had a meal. It wasn’t until laying down to sleep that the thought struck me, I NEED TO KEEP MY MIND and HEART OPEN to opportunities… I could have said, “no I have no change, but are you hungry or thirsty, come and sit with us at the table.” THAT would have taken nothing from me truly, and I would have gained SO much.

There are people in our communities all around us, that we could be giving them the only opportunity of light, and joy that they will see for a LONG time. If I pass them by, how many other people walk on by too?

I can feel completely alone in my community of family, friends, and co workers, how much so would a person that is truly alone? We see them every day; in the grocery store, holding a sign on the corner, at the library, or laying in the grass at the park.

I see how quickly it all can fade away, how quickly people come and go in our lives and our situations can change in an instant. This has happened in my own life, we were set up pretty good  and then went from much to little, how broken one could become when they didn’t have much to begin with and then lose all that they had? They need us, they need encouragement, joy, and someone to CARE.

Challenge this day my friend: Be aware of the needs around us, both emotional and physical. Can we pay that grocery tab of the single woman in line in front of us? Can we grab the cart and return it for the weary? Can we smile and give a bless you with eye contact and wave rather than walk by with our eyes to the ground? Maybe, handing out water to the sign holder and a protein bar  is an option.

It is time to reach out to the Lepers. They are precious in His sight!

Matthew 35: 37-40

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?

 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?

 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Spinning the wheels

With my husband out of work for so long and no prospects really in sight, some days I can literally feel my brain spinning the wheels. I am constantly looking up jobs, thinking about the forclosure sale date, and making sure we are attempting to move forward.

I am finding there is a fine balance between taking steps in faith, because faith without works is dead, and trying to make something happen in my own power.

Most often these days, the Lord is needing to remind me over and over to just rest and wait. Waiting is so not my normal nature. If I ‘think’ I can find the solution, I am going to keep racking my brains and try. If I think I am going to miss an opportunity if I am not looking for it, I am going to keep looking. These days if I let it, my mind spinning the wheels could drive me right into that ditch of despair. I need to be aware of what I am doing.

I do not do anticipation very well;  I am the kind of girl that would scrape the dirt off my seedlings in the garden to see if they were beginning to sprout, and cover them with dirt again. I would look in the back of the mystery book to see if I was right. One year I opened all my Christmas packages and re-wrapped them ( I was twelve).

Oh I can handle the woman in front of me in line on her cell phone, not putting her groceries on the belt just fine. I can wait forever and a day for the cat to decide if she wants to go outside or not. However, when it comes to anticipating something good to happen, especially when we are at the limit,  I do not do waiting very well.

I do not like this about me. I am finding daily I need to repeat to myself, trust in the Lord, rest, be full of peace, He has it covered! I fully and completely believe there is a plan for our lives and I do not have to know every single step.  So finding the balance between getting those wheels to stop spinning for a bit, and to get them moving when it is needed is the trick of this season for me.

Challenge this day my friends: When we want to think things to much, just rest in Him. Know that the plan is already there and we are taken care of 🙂 Trust me, I am completely taking this challenge up often these days. SO very thankful He is always patient with me and let’s me try that again.

Proverbs 3:5-

Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.

(New American Standard Bible)

Beware…sweet doesn’t always mean good!

The recent stint of food poisoning for my friend from food that was absolutely wonderful tasting, led me to a lesson for the youth kids at my home.

We used marshmallows, soft, white, sweet marshmallows to represent sin. ( I wanted to use bubblegum but didn’t have that on hand)
Then we had to keep placing marshmallows in our mouths and try to say, Jesus is Lord. As each sin was crammed into the mouth, it was harder and harder to say Jesus is Lord.

Sometimes sin in our lives can seem so right, and be sweet for the moment: we can gossip with the excuse that we are lifting a sister in prayer, or we can serve the church ministry while neglecting our family at home, or we can shout praises in church and then slander our boss or family member because they made us mad, and we can call it righteous indignation.

We can mistakenly place sin in our mouth over and over and our walk becomes messy and sticky. The bitterness settles in and what once tasted sweet, no longer is. The more that the bitterness, and the root of sin buries in our heart, the harder it is to walk in Joy or sing the praises of Jesus. We can get in the trap without realizing it, but when conviction stirs in our hearts we need to recognize it and turn it over to the Lord. When sin is left in the heart, our life and walk reflect it. The word says we will be known by our fruit.

People notice when you gossip, people notice when you slander. It may not be apparent right away but will make you sick in the end spiritually if you keep walking in it.

We all sin and every one falls short of the glory of God. There is grace that covers that sin as we repent and turn away we have the VICTORY over that sin. As we walk closer to the father, the sin won’t seem so sweet anymore but foul or even off as it is on our lips, the conviction will come and we will hopefully pursue truly good things, that are ALL HIM.

Challenge this day my friend: Self examination; is there an area you may have felt conviction and you have slowly still ate from the wrong food? It is time to give it up and walk in your true victory in pursuit of Him.

Romans 6:13-14

 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.

 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

FULLNESS has arrived

I have begun my journey of blogging to encourage others to find joy, as well as my own pursuit of the fullness of joy of the Lord.

I am so gloriously happy to report that while things may get me down for a moment I do not stay there. I am no longer operating in fear or circumstances. It has been a rough journey and while I do not think the things that kept going wrong one after another were God’s doing, I do believe He used them to do a work in me. All things that are meant to harm us are used for the glory of God, for those who love Him.
I dug deeper into His word, I drew closer to Him, I sang out His praises when I did not feel like it and He used those opportunities to grow me. I never knew how much growing I needed to do, until I had true testing in my life. And test after test came, week after week.

I realized fresh that my fullness of joy was finally here, when I got devastating news about my moms health. While for a moment I was stunned and even saddened. I did not stay there. I know God already knows the plans He has for us and I know His promises for us.

Also in a matter of days I discovered my teen son was very seriously playing and toying with the idea of suicide. When I discovered this I was away from home and fear and panic could have taken hold of me a few months ago. But not this time, I laughed and declared, MY SON HAS A PURPOSE and nothing will deter that! I was concerned from time to time while I was away, and that prompted prayers of protection and covering over my sons heart as well as lots of texts to stay in touch…. but it did not lead me into a pattern of being frozen or overly consumed with it. I do not fear it! I have joy despite the circumstances around me.

Are home is to be listed for sale in a matter of months and we have NOTHING set aside for moving, and my husband still does not have a job, our credit score is horrid now and technically renting can be darn near impossible, but I do not care what ‘technically is’ God is bigger and  I am NOT letting that rob my joy.

Joy does NOT need to be based on our circumstances. It is a gift to us. The son has set us free from the bondage of worry, depression, fear and doubt. In my pursuit of Joy I decided to be a joy spreader, putting it out there all that I could. What happened then? BLESSED was the joy maker!

I will not walk in darkness but rather the light of the truth of what is MINE. Fullness of joy is mine!

Challenge this day my friend: Keep pursuing your victory over the concerns of the world. Keep pursuing the fullness of Joy. Get into the word, spend time in prayer and speak out against the things that want to pull you into the trap. Fullness of joy is ours to have in His presence, His presence dwells in the spirit of the believer, we need to practice walking in it 🙂
JOY is yours in the morning!

Acts 2: 25-28

David said about him:

“‘I saw the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest in hope,
 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
you will not let your holy one see decay.
 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.

The lesson that was shown, not told

On my glorious girl time away, my friend and I had a late night dinner at Famous Dave’s. The food was SO amazingly tasty. We could not get over how fabulous it was. That is until the next morning, my friend got food poisoning. She was so sick, that she could barely lift her head. But she absolutely insisted she was fine, not wanting to miss the conference. Now I do not skim over this lightly, but I wish to spare you details….she was SICK.

When we made it to the conference and found our seats she looked so horrible, I suggested she go lay in the car. I learned by now that suggesting we leave would not be an option. But it wasn’t until we were at the conference and the worship began while she was still in the car, that I realized she wasn’t pushing through for herself. She had pushed to get there for me, she would NEVER settle for me missing out on what the Lord may have for me. My heart was overwhelmingly blessed, and humbled.

Thankfully after a couple hours of napping my friend came back in and heard Joyce Meyers speak.

After the session we came back and took a good nap in the hotel room, and my friend woke feeling like herself.

Throughout the whole time I saw so many  ways that my friend was always thinking of me. She brought me breakfast on a tray one morning and had coffee made, she was always trying to let me sleep extra, she took my bags to the car, and she always wanted to make sure I was taken care of.

My friend taught me in many ways, more than the conference ever could. She taught me how to love and serve another without selfish ambition. The conference was wonderful and I learned many things I could apply to my life, but these were things told, the lessons learned from my friend, were things shown.

I am so very thankful for these real life experiences and an opportunity to sow seed of my own. I pray that her harvest is GREAT and that others will learn from her soft gentle ways and not keep looking her over because she tends to be a quiet soul.

I have been challenged myself with this time away and it is a challenge that I will take seriously: How can I express unselfish love and motivations in the way that was shown to me? Am I making sure that others are put above myself? Am I being Christ in the most tangible way to others on this earth, by putting them first? Thank you sweet friend for the example.

Titus 3:14

Our people must learn to do good by meeting the urgent needs of others; then they will not be unproductive.

( New Living Translation )