Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Embracing your greatest challenge...

I found a post from Lisa Whittle on her recent trip to El Salvador with Compassion International. At the end of it she had this exhortation.

"Don’t be afraid of your challenge in life, whatever it is. Look it in the face and defy it. Embrace it. Own it. Live it, and let it move you to a new place of personal and spiritual discovery. Love it or hate it, you can either challenge it or it will challenge you. Challenge it, and you will win…no matter what the outcome. Because in the process, you will see with eyes of purpose and feel with new waves of passion.

You can wait, sit and wish. You can wonder what it feels like to regain a spiritual pulse. You can watch while someone else comes to a place of understanding that could be yours, if only you were willing to stop being afraid of what you don’t know.

I can’t tell you what to do, and I know you don’t want me to. All I can say is that it is my strongest belief that you find yourself in the midst of your greatest challenge."

My greatest challenge lately has been seeing how depression has been coming back in waves. There are days that it is great, and I feel free. There are other days when I feel like I can't breathe.

There are days when I can release things immediately to God and rest in His presence. There are other days when I find anger and frustration (even with very little things) overtaking me.

This post of Lisa's really challenged me to, yet again, face up my depression toe to toe and not let it make me back down from doing what God wants me to... as a wife, as a mom, in my job, in my walk with Him.

In many ways I have been afraid of the challenges in my life. I have looked at them as something to put my head down and just try to get through. I still find myself fearing things at times.

Depression I have seen as my enemy, robbing me of the joy and peace that could be mine.

Yet, Lisa says that we should embrace our challenge, own it, and live it.

It's hard for me to think about embracing depression - much less to own it and live it? What's that?

I guess I have been doing that to a certain extent already. I have been living it, and it has pushed me from one place to another - a greater sense of living, maturing me, etc. Working through my depression has been a way of growing me into greater personal and spiritual discovery.

I just wish, so many times, that the depression would lift - that I would be able to enjoy life with my kids without so much of a cloud hanging over my head - that I would be able to enjoy my family without so much frustration and yes, even anger at times, hounding me.

I get tired of struggling. I get tired of having to constantly check my thoughts. I know I need to, or I will succumb to the pressure of the lies, and sink even deeper. But can't I get a rest? Can't I get a break?

The last couple of days, since maybe Thursday of this past week, have been a break for me for the most part, and I can praise God for that!

I had a good time away, borrowing a friend's house while she and her husband were gone to have a retreat day. I got just over 5 hours away. Less than I had planned, but more than I have gotten in a long time. I got to spend the rest of the weekend with family at the farm and had a long break from the kids, as they were spending time with cousins that they don't get to see too often.

Those are blessings God has given me. And I have had a break from the depressive thoughts.

I really don't like having to be reminded again and again that I need to persevere, and that I need to keep taking captive my thoughts. I know I need to, but it doesn't make it easier to do it. Especially when I am tired.

Today though, I am going to purpose to look at the positive. I am going to hang onto the truth that I am a beloved child of God, and the apple of His eye. Today I am going to walk out into the cool, bright, sunny day and enjoy it for the gift it is from God.

Another day, another choice to make.

I know this journey through depression has matured me, caused me to find new spiritual discoveries about myself. I guess I have been embracing it, facing it, challenging it, fighting it.... and yes, even owning it.

I still find it really hard to accept that this is going to be with me - probably as long as I am alive on this earth. I may never understand it, but I have to accept it, that this is a tendency of mine - towards depression as a side of weakness to the strengths and gifts God has given me.

My heart is full of the blessings God has given me. And though I may find myself leaning towards fearing what tomorrow may bring, I choose to live in the light of the grace of God today, and to rejoice in His gifts and to soak in His love for me.

May you be able to do that as well.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Help me love You

Help me love You
all my days,
And praise You forever
for all the ways

You've been faithful to me
No matter what I do.
You've loved me even
When I haven't been true.

I feel bruised and broken
And all I want to do is cry.
You don't want me to just live
Yet deep inside really die.

You want me to make the choice
To cling only to You,
There to find the joy and rest
In Your arms so true.

Oh Lord! Help me to believe
deep in my heart
That nothing will ever tear
the two of us apart.

Oh my Father, help me to start
to make the right choices
and to stop listening
to all the wrong voices

That tell me that if I walk away
I can always come back again,
And expect that our relationship
will always be what it's always been.

You have rescued me from the dominion of darkness
and brought me into Your Kingdom
In you all things hold together,
including me, no matter what I run from.

Oh Jesus, hold me together!
I feel as if I'm breaking
Into millions of pieces!
I just can't keep on faking.

In the lonely dark
All I want is to turn to you.
When I turn the other way
I hate what I do.

Change my heart, my mind, my life.
Comfort, hold, fill, and heal me.
Only living in you, Jesus,
Will really keep me free.

(c) Copyright 2010 Heather Kudla. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Beauty - worship

I want to be able to look in the mirror and like what I see there.

I mean, really look in the mirror. Not to fix my hair or clothes, but to look at my face, in my eyes and be able to appreciate my outward, physical appearance.

I don't mean this to be vain.

Like I said in my previous post, God loves me, I am His beloved. He didn't create just the inside of me. He created all of me. Inside and out. He knew what nose I would have, that my hair would turn gray early, everything about me - physically.

I guess this difficulty in appreciating my physical appearance has become more pronounced the more I have healed in how I look at myself over all. I mean, I really didn't like myself at all for so long, that it was a huge turn around to really love myself inwardly.

Now that I am loving myself there, how God created me to love and empathize with others... everything, I am seeing the double standard I have been holding myself to.

Liking one part of myself as I see it integrate with all I am doing, and hating the other part of me for how it looks and won't fit into what I want it to, or won't do what I want it to physically.

Some days are better than others. And by better, I mean that some days I am able to ignore the physical beauty or lack there of (perceived by my flawed eyes and standards, I know). Other days, I feel like it is totally staring me in the face and at the forefront of my mind all the time.

Something that I am starting - trying to do consistently - is something that Cindy challenged me to.

Every time I get in the car, and either I am alone, or the kids are quiet in the car, I spend the time worshiping and praising God. Literally. The whole time in the car. Not asking for anything. Not coming with a laundry list.

Worshiping Him.
Praising Him.

Try it for one day. I dare you!

Cindy reminded me that I would have nothing to pour out to anyone else unless I was filled. I also wouldn't have the right focus about my day, my self, my life and my looks, unless I was filled by Jesus. When I worship Him, I focus on Him, connect myself in relationship with Him, and end up getting encompassed by His love.

It's amazing the changes in my heart and mind as I have tried it the past couple of days.

I am not "there" yet, but I can sense a difference, not necessarily in how I view my beauty, but in how I am reacting to the lies I have been believing. Slowly the truth has been sinking in, and in the process, God has been giving me new things to explore and discover in the word.

More on that later.

I do challenge you to try to spend your quiet times, not just praying and requesting things, but to really spend it in praise and worship of God - who He is, what He's done, what He's doing - anything and everything. I can see that is is transforming and life changing... already, after a couple of days.

teaching in the midst of distress

It's hard to write when your heart is heavy.

The ups and downs I have been through make it difficult for me to keep my head on straight and keep my gaze focused on Jesus, much less my husband, kids, job, or writing.

Last week was really hard, but late in the week, I felt like my head started to stay out of the water a bit longer at a time. I finally felt like I could breathe again.

I could finally take a deep breath and feel the sun on my face again. What a blessing!

God continually lifts me out of the pit, and he continually renews me, day by day. He lifts me out, refocuses my eyes and mind on Him. He sets my feet upon the rock of my salvation.

God also continues to teach me in the midst of my distress.

I have been struggling with a lot of self image issues lately. I know everyone struggles with them. Maybe I need to go revisit the book "So Long, Insecurity" by Beth Moore. I had a lot of help from that, and probably need the review.

However, it has gotten pretty severe lately.

Over and over God has pushed to the forefront several different verses, and also kept speaking to me on this.... from before I got hit with this latest round of depression, through it, and now bringing it back to mind..... again and again.

I have a feeling it is something I am not going to be able to escape.

How about this verse to try on for size?

"Listen, O daughter, consider and give ear:
Forget your people and your father's house.
The king is enthralled by your beauty;
Honor him, for he is your lord."
Psalm 45:10-11

That came to me at the end of April. For the past what, two weeks or so maybe, I have been struggling with them. These verses.... God gave me the image that He is the King who is enthralled with my beauty.
My beauty.

I mean, I can spiritualize that and say that He is just seeing me through the blood of Christ, redeemed and spiritually beautiful. But I don't think that is the point that God is trying to make to me.

Our Pastor's wife shared with us this weekend. One thing she shared, that really spoke right into where I am at, at the moment, was talking about where beauty comes from. It doesn't come from our outward adornment, and in 1 Timothy, Paul says that women should dress modestly with decency and propriety.

Vicki looked up old testament women who were described as beautiful, like Sarah, Rebecca, etc, and found the root word they were translated from.

She found the same root word used in other places. Places like creation when God created Adam and Eve, and then called them good. "Good" in this case, as He talked about His creation, was the same root word.

"tobe" meaning among many other things:

pleasing to look at
(from Strongs H2896)

Those were all words that embody both "beautiful" and "good."

God sees me as all these things when He calls me beautiful and good.

"The king is enthralled by your beauty;
Honor him, for he is your lord."
Psalm 45:11

How can I deny what He says in His Word? He plainly states he is enthralled with me. I am His beloved. I can rest secure in that.

"Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders." Deut. 33:12

I can rest secure in Him. He shields me. I rest between His shoulders. He carries me, covers me, protects me. And loves me. And is enthralled by me. By my beauty.

Now if only I can like and appreciate and love His beloved like He does, I might be on the right track.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

From a devotional...

I got emailed this devotional from Proverbs 31 Ministries today. It prompted me to write the following thoughts in my journal.

  • **How many times have I given reasons that I cannot be built into God's image?
  • **How many times have I totally trashed and torn down part of God's creation (myself)?
  • **How many times have I denied access to God - denied Him access to my life and heart?

Yet -

  • **In His Word, He speaks the truth to me - ready to meet all my arguments with His Truth.
  • **He is ready to always rebuild what I have torn down into something even better.
  • **He is holding me - even when I push His love away - and waits. All the time showing me His love, over and over, in His Word, Creation and the Body of Christ.

...till I finally listen and hear
and slow down
and soak in His truth...

In soaking - maybe I will finally allow some more of that truth to really get into the marrow of my bones.