Coming home

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Lately I had found myself detached from things, it hasn’t felt bad in any way, just detached. I haven’t  felt depressed or numb, just off. Granted this has been a ROUGH month of illness, but I was disconnected.
This morning I turned on my worship music on my way to work, which I have not done in some time as sensory overload is crazy during illnesses for me. My spirit just jumped. It was as if I had a nice soothing drink of cool water after wandering the desert.

For me when I come to my Jesus, it is as if I am coming home into the open arms of my father. There is something so sweet about the presence of God. Every part of my heart filled and joy bubbles forth. It was my ah ha moment, I had been missing my worship and praise time.

I was feeling a little edgy this afternoon, antsy so to speak, and again I turned on the worship music and instantly my joy was bubbling.

You may hear people describe the presence of the Lord and wonder what that means. I guess everyone’s experience may be different, but for me it is as if I am a child jumping into the arms of my parent. I come home and I sit at the table. We share and I am blessed. A relationship with Jesus is not one way. It shouldn’t be, as we can come and fellowship and rejoice in the one that gives us life.

My sweet cousin was dealing with depression and my having revelation today, I don’t wish to give a quick answer , yet truly the worship and praise has brought me from those depths more times than I could ever possibly count.

He is a good good father and I will rejoice in my salvation!

Zechariah 1:3-
“Therefore say to them, “Thus says the Lord of host, “Return to Me,” declares the Lord of hosts, “that I may return to you, “says the Lord of hosts.

Deuteronomy 4:30-
“When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days you will return to the Lord your God and listen to His voice.

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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)

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.

Me a murderer?

So the last blog I mentioned having joy and joy that may be FULL.
So here is that scripture I referred to.

John 15:10-11

10.If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.  11. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

Do you notice the words ‘if you keep my commandments’? I can honestly say that in my heart of the deepest depression, I thought I was keeping the commandments of the Lord. But during self-examination I saw first hand where I was not. As I completely rooted out disobedience in my life in one area, I would then have to root out another area.

It is very clear that obedience to the Lord leads to life to the full!

So let’s look at the commandment…. Thou shalt not kill.
This is a big one, what many would consider the biggest, even though not one sin is bigger than another. But you know what, I dealt with this one!

I would say to myself. I have not killed anyone! But is it not true that God looks at the condition of the heart? In my heart was I a murderer? To put it simply, yes I was.

I was so angry and hurt by an individual that was in our life for a season, I would have murdered them if it was not a sin, if I could get away with it, and the majority of the world would completely understand how I could, and may even justify such a thing for me.

Now I was walking around blindly thinking that I was not a murderer, yet in my heart the same darkness was there. Yes I could not ever act on it, but that desire drove me farther away from joy.

I had to recognize it for what it was; rebellion, hatred, bitterness, anger, unforgiveness and despair.

It does not matter the heinous act this individual had committed against our family. I could not focus on what I felt they deserved. I had to let it go.

How did I do this? Well, it was two-fold. One, I had to imagine this individual as a little child facing the same kind of terror that formed them into what they had become in adulthood. I had to recognize that they were empty, without a relationship with the Lord.

Two, I had to recognize that God loves ALL. And even though He loves all, ALL have sinned. This individual continuing in their life of sin, I know the word says vengeance is mine saith the Lord. I had to recognize that God was in control of this individual. He would be held accountable for his actions. I did not have to ‘do’ anything. I did not have to hold on to anything. I could let it go and it was okay, actually healthy to do so.

Be aware my friends there may be times in your life that you think you are blameless in a certain obedience to the Lord, but the very root of it is still there, zapping the joy from you.

Let’s look at some of the commandments to obey…

Love the Lord with all your heart.

Seek first the kingdom of God.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

How about the 10 commandments ???

I am not bringing these things to attention to condemn. But to make us more aware. To open our eyes to areas that we may have strongholds holding us back from fullness of joy. And to be very real with you, that I am human, I have struggled, I have hated…and I have repented and turned away from that grief and heartache. The Joy has returned. This was the start but each day there was another lesson in the journey 🙂

Why Joy?

 

To begin with I am in no way against medication for depression that a doctor may have prescribed. I tried medication and the side effects were unbearable physically for me, but I do know that there are people that have success with medication when clinically depressed.

In my darkest hours of my life, I tried doctors, I tried shaking myself up, I tried snapping out of it… to no avail I had become depressed, suicidal depressed!

 I was completely miserable in my fibro pain and fog. I was depressed over various life issues and loss.  Challenges and burdens kept increasing one by one rather than lifting. I was not doing anything different in my life. I was seeking the Lord, praising Him, serving Him, but there was something wrong. I was lacking His joy and my circumstances were dictating my ‘feelings’. 
 

 So as I cried out to God it my greatest time of need, He revealed to me that I needed to seek Joy. Not joy in the sense of happiness but His fullness of Joy, the gift of abundance that He had for me.
I began writing this blog to work my way through depression and seek joy. Why do I find it important to have joy?

It is important that we do not live a life of despair. Jesus came that we may have life to the full.

I honestly have learned over time, that there is a difference between being joyful (feelings) and having a fullness of joy (heart condition). A deep seeded joy that can rise up at any time in any circumstance is a fullness of joy. Not letting your circumstances dictate your joy, is having a fullness of joy. There will be weeping for a night, but your joy can come in the morning. There is a season of grief, but depression has no place in our life. 

The word says that Jesus came so that we may have life and have it to the full. I do not believe that means we will have everything handed to us, never face any trials or that we will be covered in great wealth. God has a different plan for each and every life and each person’s ‘full’ will be different.  What I do know is that the word also says the joy of the Lord is our strength. 

The Joy of the Lord is something that our Father offers us, and we have the right to take that treasure. But how do we do that in the midst of illness, loss, burdens, sadness, despair, financial crisis, broken relationships and lack of self worth?

As I prayed and sought the Lord, He revealed areas in my life and in others lives that may be preventing us from living life full of His joy. It is my desire, to take what the enemy meant to harm me, grow stronger and walk in FULLNESS of JOY and share the glimpses of revelation that the Lord had blessed me with in the midst of trial and storms.

Take this journey to joy with me! Let us share our burdens with one another, lift each other up and have FULLNESS of Joy. 

John 15:10-11

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

 

(ESV)

Why Do I Blog?

I am following a blog page called Faithful Bloggers. The page has a group writing project titled: “Why Do You Blog?”

Of course this writing project prompted my thinking. Why did I start this blog? What is my hope and goal for my blog?

Well of course in my fantasy world, my six consistent daily readers would turn into thousands. I would begin to figure out how to make an income with this blog so that being unable to work out of the home would not be a financial burden, and with many readers perhaps I would feel like I accomplish something with my efforts.

However, I have two real down to earth reasons for blogging:

1. Blogging is an outlet to see where I have been and where I am going.
Gone are the days of spending weeks in bed, depressed and consumed with pain. I began blogging to pursue joy in the midst of Fibromyalgia’s pain, fog and depression.

Since those beginning days,  I have a renewed hope, joy and peace. Daily depression is no longer a part of my life and the pain is no longer taking my life away from me. Yes, I have made adjustments but I am no longer bound by this illness to the point of being locked away. As I blog and put my jumbled crazy thoughts into writing, I can keep my mind focused on truth rather than the lies that the enemy would have me believe. Blogging puts things in proper perspective for me. I can see first hand what is on my mind as I write and have a heart check as I ‘preach’ to the choir.

2. I write for others that may be struggling on this journey of life at times as well. I have ran into so many well meaning Christian friends and family members that act like depression or illness was my fault and I had to snap out of it. I have heard hurtful things that were said to others in the midst of their depression. I was afraid to admit where I was at, for fear that they would try to speak me out of it without any real thought or instruction. I understand the struggle of depression, I understand the steps to victory and freedom, I understand it is a daily sometimes minute to minute, conscious decision to walk in your freedom and it doesn’t just go away on it’s own. Joy must be received, and pursued.  True joy, comes from the Lord and resides in you, regardless of the craziness that life may throw.
Just telling someone be happy, get over it,  or God gave you victory, when they are in the midst of the worst depression in their life, without the steps and directions on how to obtain victory, is not helpful.
I began a journey of pursuit on my own, as the Lord lead me and directed me. In the beginning, He showed me practical ways for joy, that anyone can obtain, even an unbeliever  As I progressed in my walk, He showed me the difference between joy and lack of depression that anyone can have, and the fullness of joy that only a child of God can have. I desire to bless and encourage others on their journeys to a complete healing of depression, fullness of GOD Joy.

 I am finding from a few letters of encouragement, that this journey I am on, has blessed others as well. I am not in this battle for my joy all alone, there are others that struggle and need to actively seek joy as well and even though I am not a theologian or doctor, I desire to share what has worked for me.

This is the heart of Writing For Joy in a nutshell. I do not know where the Lord will take this blog, but I know where He has taken me and I am truly blessed. Even if just one life has been changed, the Lord has done His work in me. His joy is fresh and new every morning. He is my reason.

Psalm 30:5
For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime!
Weeping may last through the night,
but joy comes with the morning.

I want to radiate

I am aware the background to this message may sound like I am a tad bit spoiled. Trust me when I say that I know I have been. Here is a glimpse of that spoiled child in me anyway. 🙂

We live right next to a highway. On that noisy highway, are the neighbors, a gas station and a restaurant.
We blissfully slept in our new home the first few months, then one night when we clicked off the lights there was still  so much light in the room we could see the expressions on each others faces from across the room. There was now a flood of bright white light pouring in. Our neighbors so graciously bought floodlights for their parking lot and pointed them straight at our bedroom window. Previously we lived on a quiet 22 acres in the country that was stark black at night, this was a drastic change.

It could have been broad daylight it was so bright in the room. We had no money for curtains, so for a few weeks we slept (or tried to) in the light. Payday came and we found some discounted black curtains on clearance and it was blissfully dark in the room again, with only a little light seeping through the edges of the curtain.

Thinking on this light and the fact that it wasn’t very pleasant, still makes me think about how light works and how it pierces the darkness and changes a room.

A dark room with a few carefully placed lit candles becomes warm and friendly.

Reflecting on light and how bright and persistent it can be, reminds me of my desire to be that kind of light. One that changes an atmosphere and continues to shine, just because I am there. I want to lighten a room (in a GOOD way) by bringing joy and a hope.

One of the definitions of light in the dictionary is : The radiance or illumination from a particular source.

I WANT to be that particular source.  I so desire to radiate with the love of God, with HIS light. I do not want to bring darkness to a room with my grumbling, gossiping, worrying, complaining, sad self. I want to be SO full with the joy of the Lord that it can not help but spill out and onto others around me.

I want the surroundings about me to brighten with joy and animation because I am there and the Spirit of the Lord is a part of me.

One way to be the full light the Lord has for me to be, is to dig into the word and allow Him to work in me. Spending my days in prayer and worshiping the Lord in Spirit and truth continually and asking Him to always have His way in me. It is so important that I change the focus of my world around me and circumstances to a focus of Him and a love for His people. Taking steps towards being a light and letting go of the things that darken me is the only way I will be a light that penetrates the atmosphere!

Challenge this day my friends: Decide to be a light, and go for it.

Let me know the things you have done to be a light to others. Let’s share our ideas and experiences so we can grow together.

Psalm 89:15-

Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, LORD.

New Living Translation