I love Jesus and I love me an iced cuppa fresh cold brew halved with vanilla almond milk. What better way to combine the two and perk up the beginning of your weekend, than to “Fuel Your Walk” with some Jesus and Joe. Once a week, I will be posting a little snippet, thought, or question to ponder in relation to your walk with Christ. So grab your favorite mug, pour yourself a delicious cuppa Joe and get comfy as you let this question percolate in your mind:
Corrie Ten Boom said:
“If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God, you’ll be at rest.”
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. -2 Corinthians 3:17
Held prisoner to memories, the torment of trauma had been weighing me down for far too long. The abandonment by my father and a nasty divorce from long ago had been surfacing a lot lately, after being triggered right before Christmas. Both last night and tonight, I was right smack dab in the middle of the trauma all over again and this boulder of pain felt like it was crushing my soul. After being stuck in this hopeless cycle of bondage, God moved a mountain.
He has recently been speaking to me about letting my father go, but the truth is, I hadn’t known how to completely do this. While I have done a ton of work on my dad and there have been layers of healing and forgiveness throughout the years, I was still experiencing the effects of this old trauma, and was struggling to fully forgive him. Each time I thought I had left the past behind, another trigger would smack me in the face and the wounds would spew, taking a week or more to move on with my life.
Yesterday, after communicating with my dad and having more hurt dug up, I was hanging by a thread. The trauma and pain were fresh again. Beyond weary, I had run out of steam to keep running the race and I didn’t know if my body could carry on. Looking at all that was on my plate for the evening, I thought I’d crumble, but I made a choice. I could have used a number of distractions to try to cover up the pain, but I reached for my Heavenly Father. Opening up His Word, I asked Him to speak to me and He spoke-Sing to the Lord. Not exactly what I expected hear, but it’s what He’s been telling me this past week-worship me in the wilderness. So, I did just that. I drew myself a bath, cranked my Worship Him in the Wilderness playlist found here and belted out songs, praising Him. That simple obedient act turned my night around. I was in a very dark place that could have spiraled down quickly, but He filled me up and lit me up. Shining hope, He brought light to my darkness. He showed me that He had this-that He had me. My Heavenly Father let me know that I could let go and trust Him with this suitcase of pain I had been lugging around for thirty-two years.
Then, tonight, the thoughts of my father returned and my heart throbbed again. The hopelessness was starting to settle in. Heading down that dark path of depression, the old wounds began crippling me. Knowing my warning signs, I had to act quick. I’ll admit, for years, distraction from the pain was my go-to-whether it be with food, my phone, sleep, work or binge watching shows. Thumbing through Hulu, I knew was the wrong choice, there was no relief there, so again, I drew myself a bath, turned on worship music and abided in Him. Tears streaming down my face, I sang and poured out my heart to Jesus. A few minutes later, I got on my knees and asked Him to break these chains as I handed Him my father and the situation. What happened next was nothing short of a miracle. I heard Him say “get up and walk”. Thinking, I’m in a bathtub, what does this mean?Did a miracle just happen? Yes, it sure did. That soul-crushing pain that had been bearing down heavily on my chest was suddenly lifted and I felt freedom.
This evening, He filled me with joy and broke chains that only He could break. I was depressed and had zero motivation to write before this happened, now here I am at my computer, telling my story. I’ve learned a lot about forgiveness in the last two days. What He’s taught me is that forgiveness is making a choice to release my father, then trusting Him to take care of what I can’t. It’s depending on God to carry the pain, resentment, and offenses, so I don’t have to carry it anymore. Forgiveness is choosingto trust that He will take care of the offender in His way, on His time, however He chooses. Do you trust me enough to set you free? This is what I heard Him asking me. Tonight, I made a choice to release my father to Him and I’m choosing trust.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. -John 8:36
**an update after writing this post, He spoke again and confirmed the broken chains. While reading another’s blog, this verse spoke right to my heart:
“Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” -Psalm 116:7
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. -Psalm 23:4
How do we hang onto hope when we’re struggling with hopelessness? It’s an answer I’m trying to find myself. Having battled severe bouts of depression off and on for years, there are times when my lens on life becomes blurred and my thoughts so negative, hope feels out of reach. But it’s there, because God is our hope and He never changes. We remember that He is the anchor that we ground ourselves to when being tossed about in a sea of despair.
With depression, come feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, a lack of motivation and energy, a loss of interest in things once enjoyed, unbearable fatigue or insomnia, and a mind flooded with negative thoughts. Attempting daily tasks can be a real battle. Some days are a constant treading of water to survive and keep from drowning. Some of my worst episodes of depression were best described to friends, this way-if there was a pill ten feet from me that could make me feel 100% better, it was just too hard to get out of bed and grab it. It was just too hard. Everything feels too hard-facing the day, brushing your teeth, taking a shower. Simple everyday tasks become mountain climbers. Depression sucks everything from your being. There is a deadness, an emptiness, a void inside. It’s a deep, dark abyss.
So how do we hold onto that hope-to Him, during these times? Taking captive each negative thought that comes to mind, we give them to Jesus, then we direct our thoughts towards Him and fix our eyes on the One who can give us peace. While keeping our focus on Him, we make make ourselves do one activity we once enjoyed, for fifteen minutes, setting a timer if we need to. Then, we force ourselves to find things to be grateful for each day, writing them down if we must, and we remind ourselves that every good and perfect gift that we have to be thankful for is from Jesus. And we remember that when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, He is with us-always with us.
“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.” -Psalm 62:5 So, we rest in Him. And we fill ourselves with His Word. When depression makes every little thing feel like it requires so much effort and even reading the Bible is hard, we can listen by turning on an audible Bible app, such as YouVersion, and listening to the Word. Psalms 130:5-6 says “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.” We wait. We pour out our hearts to Him. And we hope in his powerful Word. Then, reminding ourselves that this is temporary, we tell ourselves that this too, shall pass, because it will-even though it feels as though it will last forever. Having lived through too many bouts of depression to count, I am living proof. Grab that Anchor, hang on for dear life, ruminate on His Word and don’t let go. Let’s let Him be our light in the depths of our darkness.
I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him. -Psalm 40:1-3
*This is not medical advice, nor is this meant to be a substitute for medical help. It is my personal experience I am sharing and what I am currently trying to do to help myself during a season of depression.
You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you. -Psalms 118:28
No matter how difficult life may be right now, there is always, ALWAYS something to be thankful for. When we are struggling to keep afloat during this pandemic, we may have to look a little harder for our blessings-but they are there.
If you are breathing, then you have life to be thankful for. There is air in your lungs, even when life knocks the wind out of you. If you can see the sun peaking through the clouds, if only for a few hours, then you have light to be thankful for. There is some sunshine brightening the dark days. If you were caught in a downpour, you have access to an element vital to the survival of the plants and animals we consume. You not only have access to water which is essential and refreshing, you’ve been given an opportunity to dance in the rain in a time of gloominess. If you can hug your child or a family member, then you have affection to be thankful for. You have some comfort, when life is uncomfortable. If you have food, then you have the energy to exist. You have a full belly, even when worry or circumstances turn your stomach upside down. If you have heat, then you have warmth. You can regulate your body temperature, even when the chills of life settle in your bones. If you have a brain and can read this post, then you can think and learn. You can change your thoughts and put a positive spin on the tornadoes that attempt to ravage you. If you have hands, then you can squeeze. You can make lemonade, when life hands you lemons. And if you have Jesus, then you have everything to be thankful for, because every good and perfect gift is from above. You have everything you need, if you have Him.
You, Lord, are all I have, and you give me all I need; my future is in your hands. How wonderful are your gifts to me; how good they are! Psalms 16:5-6
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. -Psalms 62:5
This piece goes out to one of my dearest friends, who is needing some hope. I pray that this may speak to her, and that I can be a vessel, spreading His love to those reading this.
There are times when all we have left is that sliver of hope. That teeny tiny flicker of light at the end of the long, dark tunnel, feels so far away. We need Jesus all the time, but these are the times we need Him the most-the times when instead of trying to let the problems swirl in our minds for hours on end, driving us mad because we don’t have the answers-these are the times when we need to reach for Him. And we can ask Him to fight for us. If we can’t fix it and we don’t have answers to these huge mountains of problems, we reach for Him. We hope in Him and we wait in Him. We can thrust our load upon Him and He will carry it. He will fight for us because He is a BIG, BIG God who is for us, and not against us.
It’s those times that we feel like we are going to break, that we put everything we’ve got into grasping hold of Him and not letting go, because He is the One who will sustain us. If all we can do is whisper softly-“Jesus, help me,” we do that. We hold onto the hope of the His Word and meditate on it day and night, because it is alive and powerful-sharper than any two-edged sword. We hand over the load we can’t fix, and we rest in Him. We wait upon Him, having faith and not allowing the fear to overtake us. When I am weary and I am worried and I am burdened, I imagine taking those worries and problems and dumping them into His Mighty hands so I no longer have to hold them. Then, I close my eyes and picture myself curled up in His palm, resting in peace, and He gives me comfort, because He is all I need.
And then we trust in Him, even when we don’t understand. We trust Him with all our hearts, and do not lean on our own understanding. Jesus says we do not understand right now what He is doing, but someday we will. In the winter, ice bridges form over the rivers here in Alaska. When crossing a frozen body of water, we have to trust that the ice bridge will hold us and get us over to the other side. God is that ice bridge of faith and even though we don’t understand what’s going on underneath the surface, we trust that He will keep us from cracking and tumbling into the frigid waters of fear and despair. He will hold us up and get us to the other side, but there is something else we can do too.
We can serve. Whether this be calling a friend to listen to how their day is going, picking up a few items at the grocery store for an elderly neighbor who can’t get out, or praying fervently for a family member, this gets our minds off of our problems. It not only blesses another, but it blesses us with joy in the process.
Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. -Psalms 62:8
I don’t know about you, but as someone who struggles with anxiety, living during this Covid pandemic has been extremely challenging. Fear pops up constantly.
What can we do to put the fear and anxiety to rest? Leaning on Him is first and foremost. We can also pray and meditate on His Word. Here are some helpful verses to get us through these trying times:
1. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.-Philippians 4:6
He says be anxious for nothing. NOTHING. Instead, send your prayers up, while thanking Him, and making your requests known to Him. We can thank Him ahead of time too, having faith that He hears us and will give us what we need.
2. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. -1 Peter 5:7
How comforting to know that we can cast it all on Him-every single worry, every single fear, we can throw His way, because He CARES. The definition of care is to look after and provide for the needs of. And He is the Great Provider. He provides for all of our needs, including the need for peace. We must be still and trust, knowing that He is God, and He will quiet our fears.
3. Anxiety in a person’s heart weighs him down, but an encouraging word brings him joy. -Proverbs 12:25
Focusing on our worries and fears will only perpetuate them. If you struggle with anxiety, it’s easy for a single worry to turn into ten and then comes the snowball effect. Pretty soon the anxiety is full-blown out of control and it’s heavy, oh so heavy and hindering. Instead of focusing on our fears, let’s fix our eyes on His word, because it can encourage us. His Word is alive. And He can use His word to uplift us and bring us joy and peace that the world cannot give, even in the most difficult of circumstances.
4. Come to me all of you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. -Matthew 11:28
When we are weary from the ways of the world. and the heavy loads of fear and anxiety are weighing us down, we always have a place to rest. Jesus says “I will give you rest.” Worry and stress can lead to an endless pit of exhaustion, but He will refresh us. Instead of grasping for a temporarily fix, let us rest in Him and be renewed.
5. And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? -Matthew 6:27
If anything, stress and anxiety will lower our immune system and make us more vulnerable to illness. And stress, can actually shorten our lives. So let’s put it ALL in His hands-every anxious thought, every concern, every uncertainty that is causing us distress. Let’s give every bit of it to Him. He will carry it for us.
6. Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all. -2 Thessalonians 3:16
When I am stressing or my anxiety is running wild, I’m not resting in the One who can and will fill me with His peace. When the worry kicks in, I have to make a concerted effort to turn my eyes toward Him and keep turning them towards Him, because it’s so easy to get caught up in the chaos of this world and glance the other way. The world is not where our peace is. He is.
7. A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. -Proverbs 17:22
Let’s break it down. Another word for crushed is overpowered. When our mind is overpowered by anxious thoughts, we can become brittle and more prone to a broken spirit. I think of how overpowering waves crash into land and slowly erode it. Stress and anxiety can do this to our minds and bodies over time.
When I think of crushed, I think of the word defeated. Medicine is used as a treatment for, or to prevent disease. Having a joyful heart can be looked at as being a preventative. It is good for our bodies and souls.
8. Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. -Ephesians 6:10-11
We need to fight daily against satan’s schemes to knock us down with our fears and anxiety. And we do this by putting on the full armor of God. We need to guard our hearts, our minds and our souls from the devil’s fiery darts of fear and stealthy ways of worry.
Be proactive and tighten the belt of Truth, so you can stand firm in the real Truth, rather than the world’s ideas. Put on the helmet of salvation and remind yourself Whose you are. Hold up the shield of faith to protect yourself with His Word. Strap on that breastplate of righteousness, staying close to Him, so that he can give you the kind of righteousness that can come only from Him. Do all you can to live and love like Him, being humble, honest, upright, honorable, and good to those around you. Grab hold of the sword of the Spirit-the Word of God, and pray always. And ready your feet to spread the Good News of the gospel of peace.
9. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. -2 Timothy 1:7
He has not made us fearful. Fear is from the enemy. God gives us peace and a sense of calm that only He can give. And God gives us a sound mind. I like how the amplified Bible expands on “sound mind”. It states:
…[He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgement and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control.]
10. You keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. -Isaiah 26:3
This is my very favorite verse. It’s one I turn to often when I am stressed or anxious. The peace He gives is beyond anything this world can give. He will blanket us with this peace if we keep our eyes fixed on Him and trust Him-but we must not let our eyes wander and let that fear slip in. We must guard our hearts and minds and not allow it to take over. Fear is the opposite of faith. And by putting our faith in Him, we are trusting. If we are in the fear though, we are not trusting.
God can bring peace to your past, purpose to your present and hope to your future. -John 14:27
During this crazy, isolating pandemic, I needed a way to serve and God put it on my heart to share my story. Tired of posting snippets of my life on social media, where lives are made to look picture perfect, I took a break and God spoke. So, here I am! And I’m going to be real here, y’all. I want to show the messy, the imperfect, and the struggle in the journey. My journey has never been a straight line or even just a little crooked. It’s been a full on three steps forward, two steps back–again and again, twirls and zigzags, abrupt stops and detours, a cliff drop here and there where I’m hanging by a thread, a long crawl back up, and yet another stumble. I’ve battled abandonment issues, food addiction, chronic illness, postpartum depression and more. I often wonder why I was put on this Earth to begin with, because compared to the amount of suffering I’ve endured, I’ve experienced much less joy in my life. Maybe this blog is why. Maybe it’s not. I don’t know, but I have to believe that He has a purpose for my suffering. Maybe that purpose is telling my story to let others know they are not alone or maybe it’s to bring hope to those who are currently enduring hardships and need some light shed in their lives. Right now, I’m needing some light too. I’ll be honest. Today, I don’t have a lot of hope myself, but perhaps, as I write, I’ll find some in this blog as well, because this last week-heck this last year—or three, have been really, really rough.
A couple of weeks ago, the waves of life came crashing down yet again, just when we were beginning to get settled into our cozy little cabin in Alaska. This cabin, we found out, had toxic mold, so we had to move a second time. Not only that though, less than a week moved in and we have run into problem after problem with this newest abode. I noticed I was becoming REALLY angry-like blood boiling angry, and I know there is always something more behind the anger so I started digging around and realized that I’m struggling with acceptance. I have been in a full blown boxing match fighting with reality because I don’t like the temporary living situation we are currently in and since I haven’t been able to accept it, it’s causing me more suffering and more frustration. I don’t know why our lives have been full of trials-so many, many trials. But as I write this, I can see how exhausting and futile it has been to fight against the things I cannot change, so I must accept our current circumstances as they are for the moment. This doesn’t mean I have to like them or approve of them or that these circumstances are what I’m choosing, but they are what they are for right now. The more I resist, the more I will suffer, so I will choose the less painful road this time. I will be thankful for the things I do have and look for the lesson, while continuing to hope in the One who has carried me this far.
Tonight, as I wrestled with anger and acceptance, I remembered a passage from the A.A. Big Book that had helped me in the past. I pray that this will help you too:
“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation-some fact of my life-unacceptable to me. I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake…unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes.” Alcoholics Anonymous (Big Book), 4th Edition P. 417