Saturday, February 28, 2009

Where am I?

I just wanted to say that I am sorry that I have been a bit MIA this week… these past few weeks. I have wanted to write. I have wanted to visit all my friends. I just haven’t had the words to frame my thoughts with. I have had lots of thoughts and emotions… but no words were enough to put them into.

I don’t know that I have many words now. I had a hard enough time coming up with words for this last weeks post for our “Yes to God” study.

My heart is aching. My head is aching. I feel pretty broken. Frustrated with myself. Tired. Weary. Worn.

My body hurts, my mind hurts, my heart hurts, my soul hurts. I feel pain and am confused with why I would find this depression grasping at me so greedily.

I feel like giving up the fight and just letting go.

I won’t because I know that God has not let go of me. I know He won’t. I know that He will give me rest when I need it and the courage to keep going when I need to. He has not let go of me, nor given me permission or freedom to let go of Him. He has called me to keep going… how, I don’t know. I have no idea of how to keep going when I am so tired.

I have been finding myself withdrawing.

Praise God for a good friend who has been pursuing… checking her email during the times of the week and weekend she never would normally, and staying up late last night, opening a window of time we could talk… when normally she would be sleeping… talking with me tonight after a day of studying and time with God, sharing her insights and thoughts and taking the time to pray with me, pray for me as I collapsed sobbing on the kitchen floor.

Please, for those of you who will read this tonight and tomorrow… pray for me. I need to be able to focus tomorrow at church. I want so much to hear from God and I want to be able to be undistracted and clear-minded as I seek His face there.

I also am going to spend some (hopefully) deep time in the Word and study and prayer tomorrow. I am going to either hole up at the coffee shop, or if I get too emotional, come home and hole up here.

I really need to soak in God’s presence and hear from Him, not just talk at Him or occupy myself with stuff about Him. (if that makes sense)

Thank you for praying for me and for being patient and coming back here periodically to see how I am doing.

I hope that I will be able to write more soon… because writing has been a balm for my soul… a God given one, I believe. I hope that He will give me words back. Soon.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"Self talk, Soul Talk," Chap. 8; Look back...

Yesterday as I sat down to read this weeks chapter, I had no idea what I was getting into.
If you want to see how others responded to this chapter, pop on over to Lelia’s site and check out the links from there!

Each week, Jennifer has sent me on different paths, all of them being very important as I have finished my counseling and have been adjusting to needing to catch myself in the things that normally my counselor would have talked over with me.

This week talked about something that I have realized before. Something that I think is what my blog has, in part, become about.

Jennifer talked about how it is so important to look back to memories in our life and see how God has worked through them and in them. And how He has redeemed them.

“Reviewing our milestones gives us a chance to mark progress and keep on the right path. It affords an opportunity to remember.”

“The real power of any moment is fully realized when it is remembered. The experience might have been painful or pleasant, but its intensity and meaning grow when we remember and reflect upon it, when we place it alongside those milestone moments we’ve stowed away in our thought closets.”

When I was in counseling, it was a lot of time reviewing painful memories. Some of them horrific as Jennifer mentioned. Those memories were just horrible. Some of them so bad that I had blocked the worst of them out.

But, as we worked through them, a little at a time, God started re-defining them, re-labeling them. He helped me work through them, processing the memories so that I could come to terms with them, and helping me get to the point where I could see how He was working through them.

The painful memories are still that. Painful. However, I do know that God will work them together for good.

“He can make even painful memories profitable as He gives meaning to them.”

It has also been good to look back at the good memories too. The wonderful, amazing things that God has done in my life, the times of celebration, the times of joy I have experienced. Those things have become more and more precious to me as I have looked back at them. In that, Jennifer is right. When we look back at our experiences, they have purpose and value and they are part of our stories.

Our souls do need to look back and not forget what has happened in the past… not only to not forget what has made us who we are, but to remember what God has done through those experiences. How He has proven so faithful.

One of the biggest things for me that I never want to forget is one of the most significant ways God showed me how He was healing me, in the midst of my counseling.

He took something that was in my mind’s eye, a big black box that I was afraid to open. God took it and made it into a white box that wasn’t too hard for me to open. I was sitting in Jesus’ lap, and He took bits of my heart out of that box, and slowly was healing them together. I was held securely in His lap as He picked each piece out and healed it back into my heart… and then He leaned over and blew the breath of His Spirit into my heart, turning from fragile and breakable, to a living heart of flesh.

There is so much more to the image, but you can read more about that HERE.

Ever since then, I have looked back fairly regularly to that post, and to my journaling from that time.

Both have served as great reminders of what God has done. How He has redeemed my past, how He has himself restored me, and made me strong, firm, and steadfast.

This blog has definitely been a way to mark the milestones in my life, and I am so glad that you are going on the journey with me, and that you can see and celebrate the milestones with me!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"Self talk, Soul talk," Chap. 7; Calm down...

Oh I was (am) so much like Jennifer. I internalize everything. Every hurt or slight, real or perceived. Every time something doesn’t go the way I planned (there is that need for control), or even letting go and letting someone else plan… It has always led to anger.

I never realized it until I was in counseling and we talked about my being angry. I told my counselor that I didn’t “get angry.” I might be upset a little, but I just “got over it.”
She asked about times I had been hurt by others. Was I ever angry at them? Or even angry at the circumstance?

At first I didn’t know how to respond. But then I managed to say that I never really was, I was always able to rationalize why something happened and accept it. Eventually I admitted that I thought God never wanted us to be angry about anything. We weren’t supposed to be angry as Christians. So I wasn’t.

Not externally.

Tricia showed me how in reality, I was angry, but because I didn’t think it was acceptable, I turned the anger inward.

Because I felt it wasn’t right to express anger, and because I never had a good model for expressing anger, I internalized it all.

There was a chart that Tricia showed me that helped me understand it better.

One of the big things that Jennifer said here that ties into Tricia’s chart is,
“So much of our anger in our lives comes from unmet expectations and frustrations that we don’t have ultimate control.”

Tricia said that anger comes out of the feelings of fear, hurt or frustration that are unresolved. If we don’t resolve those feelings they turn into anger/depression. Anger/depression still isn’t sin. But if we don’t head it off at the pass, it does become sin by moving into hostility/bitterness. If we don’t deal with that level, it escalates into hate/self hate. That area really becomes the one where we contemplate ending something. Whether it be a relationship with someone else, or whatever, it’s wanting to get the whole situation, person, etc to disappear and not exist anymore. And when you don’t deal with that hate/self hate, you end up moving to the stage of murder/suicide. Rarely do we see people get here… at least personally… in the conventional sense of murder. But Tricia pointed out to me that it is not “contemplating” the death of something anymore, it is really dying. Whether it be a relationship, killing someone else, or killing yourself.

There are areas that God has left in our control. There are things that we can do to stall out this steady progression of anger intensity.

We need to find peace.

“Our trust in God is inextricably linked to our peace from God.”

Relaxing in the arms of our Savior and letting Him breathe peace into our very souls is so healing.

Oh when I left the hospital after being there for being at the self hate stage, and rapidly moving up… I was filled with anger, though I didn’t realize it at the time. Anger at the situation I was in, anger at myself that I couldn’t control my emotional reaction to things happening to me. Anger at the situations I had been in, in the past, were still affecting me… I mean how weak could I be?

I had to learn to accept that adversities and hardships. Like Jennifer said, life isn’t fair, bad things happen to good people, “accepting that reality isn’t the same as approving of your difficult circumstances.”

I haven’t been able to change all the circumstances I was in over a year ago. But I have been able (sometimes) to change my reactions to them. I have been able to start to turn things over to God and let Him deal with them. I can change me, and how I react. I am responsible for me. I can’t change anyone else, or anything else around me. I am responsible to God for how I react and live my life, and how well I follow Him.

Oh, I still internalize my anger. But I have started to find healthier ways of letting it out….

What are those? They vary from situation to situation, depending on where I am at.

  • Driving the car with music blasting, so I can yell at God about stuff
  • Screaming into a pillow
  • Hitting a pillow or baseball bat as hard as I can against a bed (or something that won’t break)
  • Going out and rollerblading really fast
  • Going biking really fast (anything to let it out through physical activity)
  • Crying is a good one too

I am also learning to turn to God’s word. I tend to go to the Psalms the most. Because my anger very easily turns to depression. So calming my soul starts with Psalm 42, “Why are you so downcast, oh my soul? Why so disturbed within me?”

I go back to trying to figure out why I am hurt or frustrated or fearful, what has caused my anger so I can deal with it. And I try not to condemn myself for my reactions, but instead do some soul talk, use those “water words” Jennifer talked about.

“Water words are full of discretion, grace and mercy. They don’t condemn. They encourage and cleanse.”

“Your soul needs the water of the Word to wash over your thought closet.”

Like I said, I am still an internalizer. I still struggle with letting others know how I feel. And it’s even harder when sometimes I haven’t taken the time to figure out what I am feeling.

This is still a growth journey I am on as well… and I think I will always be on it. I think I will always be struggling against the anger at situations from my past, and continually letting them go, or with ongoing situations or ones coming up. But don’t we all?

“When you have peace with God, you can have peace from God - the peace that Christ brings.”

I want to keep speaking words of peace to my soul, so that my anger doesn’t get out of control again. I don’t want to ever let it move beyond the anger/depression stage and into sin again. I may very well go there. I have recently I have realized in the course of writing this post. But praise God for His forgiveness and His grace!

We are all works in progress. Don’t ever give up on yourself. God doesn’t. And He never will.

Even when it seems impossible that you could possibly get that temper under control, or keep yourself from internalizing and destroying yourself from the inside out…. nothing is impossible with God. Keep turning it over to Him. Keep asking Him for wisdom.

Don’t give up. He never does.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"Self talk, Soul talk," Chap. 6; Look up, hope in God...

Thanks for joining me in the next chapter of our book, “Self Talk, Soul Talk,” by Jennifer Rothschild. If you want to join us in others insights, visit Lelia and check them out!

“Fear betrays; hope never does. Fear and despair make us quiver; hope makes us unshakable.”

“Rather than giving in to fear or despair, we tell our souls to hope. Hope will always be on your side, cheering you on and defending you. Despair always works against you. It serves what you most want to avoid. It deceives, manipulates, and eventually overcomes.”

“Hope anchors us because it provides spiritual grounding. Hope brings stability to every part of our being: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. It’s something steady to hold onto when fear and despair rock our world. We speak the language of hope when we tell our souls to look up.”

I think the past few years of my life could be a testament to this.

I was almost overcome by despair. My soul was downcast.

When I couldn’t get my soul to look up, when I couldn’t talk to it like Jennifer talked about, God surrounded me with people who were able to point me to hope. They constantly prayed for me. They challenged me. They loved me through it. Most importantly, they helped me focus my eyes and heart on hope, when I couldn’t see anything but darkness. When I fell down, and spiraled down in despair, they raised me up.

Through them, I learned to refocus. It was hard work. It was something I had to practice at. Many times, I wasn’t able to refocus. My counselor and friends had to remind me to take care of myself. Sleeping, eating well.

Last year, around this time, I ended up going through a really rough patch. I was able to make an extra appointment with my counselor. The whole week before I had trouble sleeping, and wasn’t eating well. When I hit the weekend, I spiraled down very quickly, to the point that anxiety was making me so sick that I couldn’t eat at all.

When I got the extra appointment with my counselor, I told her how my weekend had gone. After we talked through some of the things that were causing me the extra anxiety, she gave me some bible verses from the beginning of Ephesians. Then she asked me to do her a favor. She asked me to go to a restaurant and get something small to eat.

It sounds like such a little thing.
Going to get something to eat.
But for me, it was huge…
Where my anxiety was at…
How I was feeling that day…
It seemed impossible.


I am a good student and client.
I do what I am told to do.

She asked me to take the time to eat a little bit, and while I was there (since I am a journal writer by nature) to read through some of the reminders of who I am in Christ described in the beginning of Ephesians, and write through it… pray through it. She asked me to take care of 2 of the legs of the table that Jennifer talked about. The “physical” leg and the “spiritual” leg.

It made a huge difference and I was able to cope much better once I ate something and spent some time with God. That night, I was actually able to sleep well which made things better too. Various times during this past year, my counselor would suggest trying things to help me sleep, or eat better, or to take a walk with, and play the kids. All of them really helped me to feel stronger physically, which made it more possible for me to focus on God, to read more and learn more things, and to better control my emotions and recognize where they were coming from, and any lies they were based on.

I liked how Jennifer described how she thought the psalmist was reprimanding his soul for being downcast. I know that I have read and heard so many times the idea that if you are a good Christian you wouldn’t be struggling with depression… because God is your hope. But Jennifer is right.

“Christians who have every reason to hope experiences feelings of hopelessness.”

“Despair won’t go away just because we ignore it, run from it, drown it out, or deny it. A soul in despair must be honest enough to admit the truth.”

I didn’t start getting better, and start healing, until I was able to admit to people that I was depressed and filled with despair. When I stopped pretending, and unmasked, only then was I able to receive help from others, and ultimately from God.

For a long time I didn’t feel any different, no matter how I tried to focus on God and hope.

But like Jennifer said,
“Even if telling yourself to hope doesn’t immediately result in a swell of optimism that lifts your spirit to unknown heights, it will serve to shift your focus. Hope makes you focus on the potential of something broader, someone bigger, somewhere better. That’s what you see when your soul looks up.”

Just this past month, I found that I was struggling again with some depression. It was on and off, hitting me on the weekends mostly, and I was unable to seem to get through it on my own. The first few weekends I just “white-knuckled” through. The last weekend, I finally gave in and ended up on my face before God. I suppose I did what Jennifer suggested about seeing what the difficulties could teach me. I focused myself on God, even when I couldn’t hardly read scripture or pray.

I leaned on the Holy Spirit and trusted Him to pray with groans no words could express.
I leaned on Christ who intercedes for me before the throne of God.

When I was “white-knuckling” it through the weekends, through the depression, I really wasn’t hanging onto anything. I was letting despair and fear take over, and push me into the arms of the enemy. I allowed myself to be convinced of lies that I would never really be free, and that I would never really be able to get by on my own without counseling or medications.

When I turned to God, when I leaned on Him, asked people to pray for me, hope took over. Though my feelings didn’t change right away, as I started to claim the truth, my feelings started to re-align with the truth. I started to “feel” hope!

My passion is to show others that in the midst of their despair and feelings of being downcast, they can talk to their souls, and speak truth to their souls. My desire is to show that there is always hope. Even when you don’t feel it. Even when you don’t see it.

“Hope will ground you, anchor you, and make you unshakable.”

Sunday, February 8, 2009


I don’t have much to say, except I can’t believe how far this has come.

God is so GOOD!!!!

Just over a year ago, I never in a million years would have thought that I would have started a blog.

I didn’t even know what a blog was.

I started exploring (really looking up a definition of a “blog” on line) and then found out that my best friend was starting one because she was going overseas on a year long mission trip and wanted to use a blog to keep us all updated on how she was doing.

I decided to start a blog as well. If only for her and a bit of my family and friends that I gave my blog address to.

I didn’t know what I was going to write. Maybe a few thoughts I had about things that I felt God was telling me.

I never thought that I would have connected with people all over the world. From Australia, to Canada, to all over the USA.

And here I am, still.

Over a year later (I started January 1, 2008 ) this being my 201st post.

I sure didn’t think it would come to this. I never knew that God would heal me as much as He has. I never realized that He would take me on the journey He has. I never thought that I would ever have a dream or passion again.

God has given me a passion and a dream and an inkling of something big.

I don’t know what that is, yet, exactly…
…I will probably elaborate on a later post,
once my thoughts are gathered together…

I just want to thank you so much for following along with me. Thank you for your encouragement. Thank you for your advice and prayers and support. Thank you for sharing your lives with me, and letting me share my life with you.

I love to journal. I love to write. I love to share what God is doing.

He is an amazing God. There is none like Him. He is the only true and living God! I am so grateful for His active work in my life… for His obvious hand at work changing me and molding me to become more like Him.

I may not be my most eloquent at this time of night.
I may not be my most awake at this time of night.
Especially after a long weekend like this one,
full of God’s work and insight and vision…

(and full of toddlers and sick husbands working 12 hour shifts all weekend, and, and, and…)

…but thank you from the bottom of my heart, all of you…
…for becoming part of my family…
…part of my life…

You bless me beyond belief… you will never know the impact you have on my life.

I praise God for you.
Above all else…. I praise God.

Thank You so much God, for changing my life so much for this year, for the suffering and the pain, and the joy and the healing. You have brought me passion and given me dreams. I never thought that I would have those things again. Last year, if someone had told me that in a year I would be in this place, I would have laughed them off, and thought they were crazy. You are so good! Thank you Jesus for the new friends I have gained through this blog and for the people that are out there that I may never know, who follow this blog, unseen by me. You know any and every one of them, intimately. Thank You Jesus that You love them enough to call to their very hearts and souls and woo them to You. I don’t need to know who they all are, but You do. I am so grateful that You are the One who oversees everything, who coordinates everything…. even all the bad stuff, and works it all for good! May You be glorified through my life, through this blog, and through every word that I write and speak. Guide my every word, guide my every thought, and keep me safe in Your hands, no matter how hard my flesh might struggle to get out of your grasp. I want to be in the very center of Your will. Keep me there. Keep teaching me. Keep molding me. Keep transforming me. Help me to be a reflection of who You are, so that when others look at me, they see You. I want my life to be nothing more than a reflection of You. If it is that reflection, it will be more than enough.
Thank You, Jesus, for filling every need I would ever have. Thank You for being enough in every and any situation. You are an amazing God, and I love you.
Thank You Jesus.
Amen and amen!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

"Self talk, Soul talk," Chap. 5; Awake, my soul...

If I were to try to go into everything that I realized from this chapter of “Self Talk, Soul Talk” by Jennifer Rothschild, I would probably re-write the whole chapter.

The other chapters were good. They introduced the topic of our thought closets and the things we put in there… how to re-label the things in there already… how to start taking the truth and stocking our closets with that rather than lies fed to us by past circumstances, the world or the enemy.

This chapter spoke right into a situation in my life TODAY! This very day, I was asked to do something, and you should have heard the negative self talk going on in my head. I went to the coffee shop and sat and got the chance to read this chapter.

Jennifer first talked about making sure that we weren’t neglecting our souls, by being attentive and daily confessing to God.

She said,
“We become sleepy and apathetic toward some of our poor choices and negative attitudes… we grow accustomed to the grimy buildup that coats the surface of our souls. And we begin to fool ourselves into believing nothing is amiss.”

Essentially we become deceived. We, by neglecting our thought closet and allowing in little lies and wrong labels, find that we are deceived. The things that are the most precious to us are pushed to the back slowly but surely, and they get covered. The precious is left to the corners, and all the junk is in the front of our minds, distracting us and keeping us from what is so important to us.

“Undeception” happens when we call, like David, “Awake, my soul!” We have an ah-ha moment.

Jennifer said,
“At these moments we are most alive… We need constant reminders of truth and a heightened awareness of reality. We must constantly challenge our souls to be fully aware, awake, and tuned in. If we neglect to do so, we’re in danger of forfeiting all that is most precious.”

I need to reflect on what is most precious to me in my life, and identify the things that distract me the most from those precious treasures.

I can be doing good things, but if they distract me from the things that God wants me to do, and keep me from my real treasures, the “good things,” really aren’t that good, are they?

She said,
“Here are two universal questions to ask your soul in any situation. Does this allow me to value my treasure? Does this cause me to treat my treasure with less value?”

As I have discovered, the enemy doesn’t tempt me with evil things to keep me from peace and success spiritually. He can use good things to distract me. Blogging, reading, journalling, TV, going to the coffee shop, etc.

When I become so used to the distractions around me and just “go on” with my life, that’s when I get into trouble. I don’t notice that I am being distracted, and the enemy can have his way with me because I am not on alert at all. I don’t pay attention to the “roaring lion” because I have become desensitized to his noise, and distracted and unaware. I open my thought closet to anything that knocks on the door and accept it in when I don’t have to.

But, as Jennifer said,
“But those thoughts are not yours unless you make them yours. I’m not good enough…I can’t do anything right…I’m just going to give up… These thoughts aren’t yours until you embrace them and invite them into your thought closet. If you do, you’ll find yourself wearing them again and again. But when you are alert and recognize wehre they come from, you will refuse them entry.”

I can totally identify with something else that Jennifer said near the end of the chapter.

“Sometimes the enemy is stress. Sometimes the enemy is my own selfishness. But sometimes the enemy is the roaring lion. Why fight against flesh and blood when the real enemy is invisible? Often the battle is spiritual, and we must fight that battle with spiritual weapons.”

Ok, all this introduction to get back to what I was asked to do today.

I dropped my son off at his 4K class. His teacher, knowing that I usually am the one who can pick him up, asked if I would be able to help her out this afternoon. She had a meeting to go to before school was done, so asked if I would be able to come and help her teacher’s aide by keeping the kids occupied as they got ready. She said the other teacher would help them get their folders set and all, but I just needed to sit with the kids over at the carpet and sing or read to them or something while they were taking turns getting ready to go home.

Inside I started to panic, but told her that I would be there in time for her to leave.

As soon as I left, I started to panic even more. The first thing I started saying to myself was, “I can’t do this! I can’t be in a classroom situation again! I am afraid. I am no good at being a teacher. I can’t do it! Why did I say yes?!” Now, this may seem like an over-reaction, and it was for just needing to sit in the classroom for all of 15 minutes. But if you are interested in knowing the back ground of how these lies first got into my thought closet, see here.

When I got to the coffee shop and started reading this chapter, I was just blown away. Talk about God showing up! On the bottom of pg. 76, Jennifer starts listing lies that the enemy roars at us.

The first one was “You are such a loser” with the truth for our soul being, “In all these things we are more than conquerors though him who loved us.”

Talk about hitting me square between the eyes! That was exactly what I needed to hear. I am more than a conqueror. And it tied right in to the verse that I memorized for these last 15 days. “Do not be anxious about anything…. And the grace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (that was just part of the verses from Phil. 4:4-7)

I knew two things right away. I had given Peter’s teacher the right answer by saying I would be there. I also knew that I wasn’t going alone, and that God had had me wait to read this chapter till right before I needed it, to give me that “ah-ha” moment, and wake me up to where the enemy was still feeding me lies, and I was still accepting them and putting them into my thought closet.

I have to tell you, I think I have this chapter almost completely highlighted. I know the last 2 1/2 pages are for sure!