Are You Sitting in Ashes?

Being depressed is like having a bloodsucking leech embedded in my flesh. Drains me physically. Muddles my mind. Squashes spiritual zeal. I can’t seem to detach the ugly thing. Ever been there?
images-6If you want to get technical, the dictionary defines depression as a psychotic state of mind that entails sadness, despondency, hopelessness, inability to think or concentrate, inactivity, and the desire to sleep. The verb, depress, means to lower.

During the winter months, I often feel like I’ve been lowered into a dark hole. A lack of sun and exercise. Rainy days and long nights. Head colds and flu. These all contribute to a seasonal melancholy state of mind. But experience tells me this too shall pass. I know the Lord will lift me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He’ll set my feet on solid ground and steady me as I walk. (Psalm 40:2)

But oh, how I wish the Lord would rush to the rescue sooner, particularly for those I love. Because my ‘depressed spirit’ also resulted from concern and empathizing with so many family members and friends who are suffering far worse than me.

If they were mentioned among the heroes of faith in Hebrews chapter 11, their woes would be listed as such: experienced the death of a child, unemployment, loss of a home, financial devastation, divorce, major surgery, lack of health insurance, life-threatening illness, agonizing chronic pain.

Some of them remind me of Job. Sitting in a heap of ashes.

Begging for mercy. Pleading for answers. Waiting for the storm to pass. Trusting the Lord when everything shouts, “Give up!”

My spiritual mentor and friend, Loretta, once told me, “Trusting God is the most important ingredient in a believer’s life. Because there will be days when we’re in the desert and God appears silent. That’s when we have to trust who God is. And His promises.”

Loretta learned to trust God’s sovereignty early in her marriage. Trusting God—no matter what—proved invaluable and enabled Loretta to cope when her husband died in a plane crash. Instead of becoming a missionary with her husband, as planned, Loretta became the sole breadwinner and single mom of three young kids. Over the next twelve months, three other beloved family members died. Can you imagine the pain?

That living nightmare happened decades ago, and yet, from those ashes, grew a deeper trust in God. Here’s what she said:

“We have the opportunity to choose how we respond during adversity. We either bend and let God work in our lives in order to mold us. Or we resist and lose out on His lessons. Life is full of difficult circumstances. If we believe our circumstances are allowed by God, and that He withholds no good thing from us, then our trust grows and we’re better prepared for the next hard thing. Trust becomes—or can be—a way of life.”

Today, as I emerged from my lethargic fog, I thought about Loretta’s words when I saw the yellow daffodils preening in my yard beneath a blue sky.1929165_79192745912_7011292_nLast week, these flowers were bent. Beaten down by the cold, pummeling rain. Now, the daffodils stand tall. Their stems stretch heavenward as they soak up the sun. If I close my eyes, I can almost hear them sing. Heralding the coming Spring.

And a small voice whispers in the cool breeze. Trust God even in this…. 

 

 

 

Who said Life is Easy?

Rainy Days and Mondays…and I’m sick. Don’t feel like cooking, or writing another post. So here’s one from several years ago that seems appropriate for how I’m feeling. And some of the things I’ve witnessed recently.

Even In This

“What do you want for dinner?” I asked.

Tired of that question, my husband purchased me a cookbook that resembled an encyclopedia.I scanned its 800 pages and chose an easy recipe. Put softened butter under the skin of two whole chicken breasts, spread vegetable oil on top of the skin, and bake at 450 for 40 minutes.

In addition, I sliced sweet potatoes and roasted them on a cookie sheet in the lower oven while I steamed broccoli. Since I left nothing to chance and double-checked the instructions, I was aghast when I opened the oven door and a trail of smoke ascended into the air. Blackened chicken, still pink on the inside, sizzled in a pool of hot grease that dripped into the oven like lava.

My husband followed his nose to the kitchen and rescued the sweet potatoes stuck to aluminum foil as I dodged splattering grease…

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So This is Love?

When I spoke with someone who has cancer, she couldn’t say enough about her husband’s incredible love and sacrificial giving towards her during this difficult time. Her words reminded me of this post which I wrote a few years ago when I was ill on Valentine’s Day.

Even In This

Flu : A fellow sits on a bed with a very high temperature. Vectorial illustration.My smile was short-lived last week.

Flu invaded my body. Out of nowhere, brutal, microscopic creatures brought me to my knees, had me cry, “Uncle!”

Three days disappeared while I slept, smothered beneath blankets. Trust me. I did NOT look like Sleeping Beauty and nobody dared wake me with a kiss.

By the fifth day, the novelty of being sick was over.  I longed to enter the sunny world outside my bedroom window, but Flu turned into Bronchitis. Life was in a holding pattern while I waited for good health.

But nothing’s wasted.

While I lay comatose watching a steady dose of classic TV Land reruns, there was a jewelry commercial that told men: “Show your love by giving her a diamond.”

I shook my feverish head.

What does a diamond have to do with LOVE?

Does a bigger diamond mean I love you MORE?

Ridiculous!

After thirty three years of marriage…

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Three Things Helped My Quiet Time

I wake up with a mental to-do list, but the first thing I always need to do is be still.

Photo Credit by: Maranatha Devotionals

This means having my quiet time…reading my Bible and praying. This might sound boring to some folks. Or, like a chore to others. And I agree that doing something every day can be cumbersome even when I know it’s beneficial. However, stick with me here and I’ll show you how I turned my quiet time—or morning devotions—into something I treasure.

First, I change my attitude. Instead of saying, “I have to read my Bible” or “I should pray,” I remind myself that “I get to meet with God.

Meeting with God is a privilege. Christ paid for that privilege with His own blood. Our time with Him isn’t some “thing” that must be accomplished so I can check it off my laundry list and get on with my day. Or feel good about myself because I made God a priority. God loves us and invites us to meet with Him so we can speak with Him. Cry. Confess. Implore. Rejoice. Listen.

Which brings me to my second point. Notice I said, speak with God. I used to pray nonstop as though I were dictating a letter. Meet my needs. Fix that person. Change my circumstances. Remove that thorn. Resolve that dilemma . . . Can I hear an amen?

I’m learning to cultivate silence to get the most from our meeting time. I ask God to…

Open my eyes and speak to me through His Word.
Open my ears so I can hear His voice.
Show me how to apply what He’s teaching me.

Then, I close my mouth and meditate on a Bible verse or a short passage of scripture. My calendar might be full. My life might feel like it’s on fire. However, when I make the time to be still and listen, I’m able to hear God’s voice more clearly. And doesn’t everyone need/want direction and peace in life?

Thirdly, I ask God to increase my desire for Him instead of striving to be self-disciplined.

Discipline trains me to behave a certain way. The word is often associated with a task I dread doing, but need to do for my own good. Like exercising and eating right, or maybe, having morning devotions.

Desire is a strong longing for something to happen, or wanting someone. When I desire God, I’m eager to read my Bible and pray because I know God will meet me there, speak to me, and satisfy my heart’s desire.

How do you keep morning devotions fresh and something you desire to do?

Be Thankful in All Things

I recently wrote an article for my friend Wendi, about God enabling her to forgive the men who murdered her husband. Her incredible story has touched people’s hearts and caused them to ask the same question. Could I forgive someone who murdered my loved one? But here’s someone else’s true story. I didn’t write this post. But it caused me to put myself in his shoes and ask myself. How would I respond if, God forbid, that happened to me.

Thanksgiving will once again be celebrated this coming Thursday. It is certainly a holiday we look forward to every year. Yet, there are so many who take this word, Thanksgiving, for granted. Just what does it really mean to you? In contemplating this question I began by thinking of  the abundance of good things that have happened in my life. Now, that is something to really be thankful for.

But wait, the scripture says to be thankful in ALL things. Okay, let me think a minute. How in the world can I be thankful for things that are anything but good; the things that bless me? How can I be expected to be thankful for the things that hurt me? Do I just stop in my tracks and say, “WoW! Thank you God for this event in my life and all the misery and discomfort it has caused?” I…

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Never Too Busy

I LOVE this blog post. It speaks to me on so many levels because I’ve been there….done that. Read and be blessed with a new view of God who’s never too busy for you!

I have just wakened from a delightful dream, and it led me to an even more delightful realization, and this needed to be shared. My dream was of a very busy, very responsible, very wonderful friend…

Source: Never Too Busy

Rain Makes the People Grow

Do you long for blue skies in your life? And I don’t mean the weather. Three years ago, when I wrote this message, Northern California was desperate for rain. This month, we’ve experienced winter storms that have wreaked havoc. Either way, I still believe what I wrote in this post back then. The rain in our life is necessary if we want to grow…..

 

A blue sky, and the chatter of yellow finches clinging to the tube feeder beneath my Oak tree, beckons me. Come out and play. Blue skies can be deceiving in the winter. I open the front door and po…

Source: Rain Makes the People Grow