Once again, life has tossed you the same ole results, the same ole heartache, and the same ole valley. Throwing in the towel and retreating to a deserted island is growing more appealing as the minutes tick by. You are done. You are empty of any ambition or want to continue.
How does one go on when everything inside feels depleted and empty?
When I recently stumbled into an "I'm empty" moment, the Spirit reminded me of Elijah.
Nestled between the extraordinary stories of Elijah's fiery mountaintop experience (1 Kings 18) and his heavenly chariot ride (2 Kings 2), is the aching depiction of a man in the pit of despair. He had given life his all, only to find himself on the queen's most wanted list, dead or alive.
What does Elijah, who had just experienced the awesome power of God, do when hunted by a deranged woman? Flee!
Three days later, Elijah, exhausted physically and emotionally, sought refuge in a cave carved into the side of Mount Horeb. He had nothing else to give.
He was empty.
God in all His kindness visited Elijah in that barren place. After He listened to Elijah’s “woe is me” story, He filled Elijah's cup with a plan and a purpose.
Then the LORD told him,
“Go back the same way you came and travel to the wilderness of Damascus.
When you arrive there, anoint Hazael to be king of Aram.
Then anoint Jehu grandson of Nimshii to be king of Israel,
and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from the town of Abel-meholah
to replace you as my prophet.
1 Kings 19:15-16
Running on empty caused Elijah to forget why he was on this earth. God reminded him:
1. You are part of My plan. "Go back to what I called you to do."
2. You have a purpose. "Do what you’ve been doing for Me."
I love that!
When you are empty and don't know what to do, keep doing what you've already been doing for God.
I recently had a situation that pushed my rejection button. It was all perceived of course, but I was physically tired, obviously spiritually thirsty, and the perceived slight drained all my rational thinking. I was ready to throw in the towel on all I was involved in.
I grasped that my thought pattern was crazy, but I was like a car whose gas light had been on for the last 20 miles. I was running on empty and in the danger zone. Crazy, irrational thoughts railed against all I knew to be true.
A few hours later, I finally got over myself (sigh) and cried out to God. After I lamented over my situation and questioned what in the world was I to do, He gently whispered, "Keep doing what you already are doing."
One step forward. Keep on being obedient even when you desire to give up because you are empty. Just take the next step forward.
A great acronym to recall during these empty moments is H.A.L.T.
When you are
H - hungry,
A - angry,
L - lonely,
T - tired,
In other words, don't do anything rash! Because during our empty seasons, we lose focus and forget why we are here. We make stupid decisions. We shift into survival mode, perhaps even rev it up to revenge mode. These actions alienate us and drive us further into the dark valley.
Jesus Girl, when we're empty, we must HALT and run to the only One who can fill us, Jesus.
When Elijah lost any gumption to move forward, God reminded Him He had a plan and a purpose for him. Revitalized, Elijah returned to what he’d been designated to do: anoint kings and prophets. He was obedient and, therefore, finished well. (2 Kings 2)
That’s what we’re called to do. While we probably won’t be invited to anoint future kings or prophets, we are charged to love and serve.
Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another,
because love covers a multitude of sins.
Be hospitable to one another without complaint.
As each one has received a special gift,
employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God;
whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies
--in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.
To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 4:8-11
Love the unlovable.
Speak life to the lifeless.
Encourage the downtrodden.
Be the hands and feet of Jesus to all you meet.
Love and serve. Why? So that in everything God may be glorified.
When you're empty and don't know what to do, just keep doing what you've been doing for Christ.
Whatever you do, work heartily (willingly),
as for the Lord and not for men,
knowing that from the Lord
you will receive the inheritance as your reward.
You are serving the Lord Christ.
Dear one, the world and even our own flesh will mock our self-denial, this dying to self and living for Christ. However, if we aspire to be filled so we can truly live, we must HALT and run to the only one who can fill us, Jesus.
How about you, my friend? Are you feeling empty and depleted of all motivation to keep moving forward? Cry out to Jesus! He will fill your cup and gently guide you on the path of life. (Matthew 7:7) He loves you and has a plan and a purpose for you. Trust Him. I'm praying for you. <3
For more encouragement, read "What If You're Exactly Where You're Supposed to Be?".
Tammy Valdivia - Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, lively laughter, deep talks, and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.
Follow us on Facebook here.
When Mama died in September 2015, my relationship with the Lord changed. I'd been a Christian since I was a kid but it wasn't until I was in a pit of depression and longing for my mother did I really come to realize why He died on the cross for me- for my sin, absolutely yes, but also for my pain. My hurt. My sorrow.
God reached right down from Heaven and lifted me up. He got me out of the bed on the days it seemed impossible. He gave me joy in mourning. Comfort in sadness. Purpose in pain. His Word and His promises spoke right to my heart. He gave me a peace that passeth all understanding.
What was I going to do with this joy? With this testimony of hope and restoration that can only be found through Him?
Well, I was going to tell others all about it. Podcasts. Blog posts. IG photos of sunsets inscribed with scriptures.
People are hurting. Lonely. Living in hell- going to hell. Bondage. Addiction. Affliction. Depression. They need to know the Way, the Truth, the Life. I was put here to tell them. I mourned a mama, a daddy, a step-daddy. I watched a positive pregnancy test turn negative. I knew heartache. Dysfunction. And it was all part of a greater plan- a testimony.
Because God was there every step of the way. Lifting. Sharpening. Comforting. Restoring. And people needed to know. They needed to know if I could get through it, they could get through it.
But one day I woke up, after being so on fire for the Lord and what He had done in my life- and nothing.
I skipped that morning in the prayer closet. I just wasn't in the mood to study that day. I skipped the next morning, too. And the next. I went for a walk down the country road with my Spaniel. I didn't talk aloud to God as I usually did. Instead, I just talked to the dog about every rock and weed he sniffed.
I went to church. I didn't take notes.
I fell asleep without praying.
The Bible stayed shut. The notepad empty from weeks before.
Oh, but great things still happened. Answered prayers. God-ordained opportunities. And I mumbled a, "Thank you, Lord." instead of lifting my hands and truly praising His name. I just didn't feel it anymore. God was still good, I knew it, but the honeymoon seemed to be over. The butterflies had flown.
Fizzle. It had all fizzled.
Why do we do this, sisters? How can we be so on fire for our God one minute and bored with it all the next? As if our spirituality is related to our feelings? Aren't we to love and praise and obey even when we don't feel like it? Action is what matters. Not feelings or emotions. Feelings and emotions are fickle.
We can't give Satan credit for everything. Lord knows I don't want to be one of those Christians casting the devil out of every doorknob- but are we too stupid to see this is what pleases him?
The fizzle tickles Satan. The fizzle and the smolder. And eventually- weak rings of smoke are all that is left of what once was a raging fire. And he loves it. He revels in it. He likes when we are indifferent. Apathetic. Stagnant. Lukewarm. Bored with the story of the greatest sacrifice of all time- the sacrifice that sets captives free.
He likes when we aren't in the mood to pull out the NIV. Or talk to our Maker. Or when we fall asleep or eat the food without praying. When we can't find the time to study, but we find the time for a Golden Girls marathon.
I don't know about you, but God has been too good to me. He deserves more than being kept in a Sunday morning box. He deserves the blog posts and the IG pictures of stars and Psalms and hands raised to Heaven and shouting His goodness from every keyboard and every stage. He deserves that and so much more.
I refuse the fizzle and the smolder and to become nothing but a pile of ashes.
Refuse it with me. Rebuke it.
Fan the flame again.
Susannah B. Lewis, follow her on Facebook here
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Kate Spade, an iconic designer, was at the top of her game. Sought after and highly revered, she had the world at her fingertips. Yet beneath the glitter and glam, darkness lurked. Its deadly whisper eclipsed the truth and suffocated her joy. Depression’s whisper snowballed until Kate succumbed to the avalanche of lies and took her own life.
Her success and fame didn’t buy her lasting happiness, or deep contentment, or abiding peace.
This makes me sad.
I can sympathize with Kate as I too suffer from depression’s relentless grip. In fact, I’m just coming out of a stretch of it myself. It descends upon me unaware and un-welcomed.
Like toxic fumes leaking into a room, dark thoughts seep into my thinking skewing reality. Depression is a thief. It is a liar. And sometimes . . . those dark thoughts even flirt with suicidal thoughts.
But it also makes me mad.
Deaths like Kate Spade and Robin Williams not only snatch them away from their loved ones, they glamorize suicide. We wrongly think that if they were so successful and chose to end it all with suicide, it must be ok.
No! Suicide is not ok. The thought and act of suicide is from the pit, from the evil one. Jesus warned us that, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10)
The evil one wants to steal our joy.
The evil one wants to kill anything beautiful in our lives.
The evil one wants to destroy us.
Those three facts together define everything leading up to and including the act of suicide. The evil one is such a bully.
So I’ll tell you the truth I wish I could’ve shared with Kate Spade.
You, precious one, are loved with an everlasting love. You are enough because of Jesus’s completed work on the cross.
You are not defined by your successes or failures of this life, but by who God says you are when you are His child: loved, forgiven, chosen, redeemed, holy, righteous.
You are wanted. Bask on that. When we feel unwanted by man, we are wanted by God.
Depression is hard. Yes, it can be debilitating, but suicide is NOT the answer.
Jesus is, only Jesus. He alone is our hope. He alone is our help. He alone is life.
Lean into Him for`His peace is stronger than depression. His love is deeper than depression. His joy defeats depression’s death grip.
Anything you are believing that contradicts with this truth is a lie.
You must fight the lies with truth. Allow the truth of God’s Word to flush out the lies of the enemy of your soul. Read Truth, listen to Truth, and speak Truth to your soul.
Fight, Kate, fight! Choose life, the abundant life found only in Jesus!
Praying for you,
Unfortunately I wasn’t privy to speak this truth into Kate’s life. But I can speak this truth into your life. Since truth is truth, the truth I wish I could’ve shared with Kate Spade is true for you, also!
My friend, if you are overcome with depression and/or anxiety, there is help!
1. Immediate help can be found at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a 24/7, free and confidential resource, at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) <or> text "TN" to 741741
2. Cry out to Jesus. He said He came to give abundant life in John 10:10, so ask Him to show you how to attain it. And then do it!
As I was writing this, a song by for King and Country called "It's Not Over Yet" kept coming to mind. Laura attached it below. Please read and listen to the life-giving lyrics.
If you would like us to pray for you, please message us. We would be honored to kneel by your side. But most of all, lean into Jesus. He, precious one, is your knight in shining armor.
Fight, friend, fight! I’m praying for you!
Other posts about depression:
Titanic no more
How thankfulness helps heal depression - part 1
How thankfulnesss helps heal depression - part 2
There are so many things I have loved about this blog, but probably my favorite thing is just being able to share what I’m learning from the Lord as I am learning. It creates such a passion to be able to share what I’m experiencing. And to have women come up or send a message and tell me that what I shared spoke to them, took them farther in their faith, encouraged them to pursue The Lord…makes every minute spent writing worth it all!
I would always prefer to speak well of my health, and focus on the blessings of life. However, I also believe in doing everything you can to bring glory to God in every situation. So, heres the latest. In the past I’ve shared a few things about some health issues I’ve experience and I was recently faced with another big health shock and an even bigger decision. This was fairly new territory and neither Jordan or myself had any knowledge about the decisions we would be making. Honestly, I was in a bit of a depression for the first two days. All I could think about were the negatives of every angle. But, as I began to share with close friends, one of them asked me a question that changed everything. I should have known she would ask. She always does. Tammy, yes By Faith She Tammy, asked me the same question she does every time I take a problem, concern, situation… to her. What verse are you claiming over this decision? Well, honestly I hadn’t thought about it yet. I had most definitely pulled out my trusty Fear Not booklet to focus my thoughts on the Lord and remind myself He was still in control. But, we still had a huge decision to make, so what verse was going to lead me in that? We desperately needed wisdom since neither of us had any on this subject. That was it! Wisdom!
James 1:5 says, If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
Wow! Yes Lord! I NEED Your wisdom. I am lost in this situation. Please lead me, guide me, show me which way to go! This became my prayer.
Now, I’m not sure what I was expecting. But did you know that the Lord began filling my mind with people who had been through similar situations. So I started calling them and asking questions. And guess what happened? I began to understand my predicament. I began to gain knowledge about my situation. Throughout the next couple of weeks, The Lord sent teams of people to give me guidance, personal experiences, and yes, you guessed it…WISDOM!
This was still not any place I wanted to be, but I know that my plans are not God’s plans. I also know that I would rather follow His lead than mine any day! I was now armed with the information I needed. Although, there were still a few pieces of the puzzle I just didn’t know which way to go. I began praying that these would be non issues. Things that were decided for me so that I could just trust that it was God’s way and not my own. He took care of each one of those pieces and the decisions were made with confidence.
Girls, God’s Word is TRUE! We can trust it. It never fails us. What decision, problem, or issue are you faced with today? Find a verse to claim over your situation. Read it, pray it, memorize it.
If you're not sure how to find a verse, try using biblegateway.com Using the keyword search, type a word that pertains to your situation. Need wisdom, or peace? Are you fearful or anxious? Try these words and see what gems you will find in God’s Holy, Perfect, Guide!
Audra and her husband Jordan are called to ministry and he is the senior pastor at their church. They have two beautiful children who bring them tons of joy, lots of laughs, and on occasion new grey hair. She is a former teacher who still loves to teach, enjoys cooking and baking, and has a passion to lead other women to know Jesus and live out their faith in Him.
Untruths Which Can Unhinge Your Faith Series - Part 1
The conversation began hesitantly as one of the women asked, “How do you minister to a mom whose child has chosen to take his/her own life.” A collective moan arose from the circle of women as each of us wrestled with the weightiness of this topic.
The tragic death of a child is one thing, but when one’s child chooses to take his/her own life and commit suicide? Unfathomable. We quietly leaned in as she shared the mom’s sorrow. The “What ifs?” The “Whys?” We all grappled with what we’d say if we were in the same situation ministering to a mom with a shattered heart. Providentially, two untruths (lies) sifted to the surface and became the focal points of our discussion.
Lie #1 - Suicide is an unpardonable (unforgivable) sin.
This lie about "those who commit suicide are damned to hell forever" has pretty much planted itself as truth in the mind of many Bible believers. The evil one does not want us to know the truth, especially when grappling with life’s tough questions. How slimy of him to plant the lie that suicide is unforgivable.
- It empties the grieving of any hope of a glorious resurrection of the lost loved one.
- It causes us to question God and His goodness if there is no hope of seeing a loved one again because they chose to commit suicide.
- It creates a chasm between God and us in our thoughts and beliefs when we need to be leaning into Him most.
1. Truth exposes the lie.
Scripture states in Matthew 12:3, "Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven."
To the point, the only sin committed by humanity which will not be forgiven is to reject Christ as Lord and Savior. Henry Morris states, “The unforgivable sin of speaking against the Holy Spirit has been interpreted in various ways, but the true meaning cannot contradict other Scripture. It is unequivocally clear that the one unforgivable sin is permanently rejecting Christ.”
Yes, I believe suicide breaks the heart of God just like lust and envy and pride and gluttony does. But the act of taking one’s life does not permanently separate us from Him, only rejecting Christ as Lord does.
When Jesus was dying on the cross, He stated one of my favorite, full of hope sayings, “It is finished!” John 19:30 Because of that statement, God forgives my sins and your sins if we call Him Lord even if we choose to commit suicide.
By faith, I believe Christ’s death on the cross paid for all our sins including suicide.
2. Hope replaces the lie.
Renowned pastor Rick Warren and his wife Kay lost their son, Matthew, to suicide in 2013. Kay said, “Matthew’s body was buried in brokenness, but will be raised in strength.” That’s hope, my friend. That’s truth found in 1 Corinthians 15:43:
Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength.
By faith, I believe Christ rising from the dead on the third day promises a glorious resurrection for those of us who call Christ Lord, despite our sin, because of the cross.
3. Jesus defeated the lie!
I want to show you a nugget from my morning reading of Christ's death in Matthew 27:52. After Christ gave up His spirit in verse 50, look at the cool events God orchestrated to show He kicked death in the teeth:
- The veil in the temple separating man from God was torn from top to bottom.
- The earth shook and the rocks split.
- The tombs were opened.
Yes, you read that correctly! The graves were opened. You know which ones: The ones of the saints, those who believed but died. Not all of them, but just enough to show God’s power over death!
I bet those raised again were sinners just like you and me with a myriad of physical and emotional issues. I don’t know nor do I claim that one might have committed suicide. All I’m pointing out here is God’s love for all of mankind and His power over death. The day Jesus died, God raised a group of believers to live again, just like Lazarus.
Remember my post about the demon-possessed man? Jesus crossed a sea to rescue one deranged, out of his mind, senseless man. That shows the heart of our Savior. Even those whose minds are sick are precious in His sight, including those who choose to end their life with suicide.
He is the God of hope who does not change nor does He lie Hebrews 6:17-19.
The only unforgivable sin is denying Jesus as Lord. The tragic choice of suicide has not nor will it ever separate us from the love of God. Remember 1 Corinthians 15:43. That is hope you can bank on, my friend. How kind He truly is.
Next week, I’ll uncover the other lie we discussed that day, Lie #2 - God never gives you more than you can handle.
How about you? What has been your thinking on suicide and eternal life? Do you know the only one who can give your life meaning and hope? Oh, friend, Jesus loves you and longs to have a relationship with you. If you don’t know Him personally or if you have questions, we would love to talk with you. Please send us a private Facebook message or feel free to comment here.
Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Confidante. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, deep talks, lively laughter, and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.
Six Ways to Diffuse Depression
The Glad Game. Have you ever heard of it? It took place in a cranky aunt's home located in a town of hard-hearted people. Seems almost impossible, doesn't it? But a very determined little orphan girl wasn't deterred. She introduced the game to any who would listen by saying, "No matter how bleak the situation, you can always find something to be glad about."
Everyone, from the town recluse to the orphan's aunt, was eventually affected by "The Glad Game." All because of one little orphan named Pollyanna. "The Glad Game" changed the fictitious town, yet more importantly, it changed the author, Eleanor H. Porter, who penned the story. She was quoted, “Oh yes, my relationship with Pollyanna is personal. She got me thru my childhood.”
When the dark blanket of depression descends, a Pollyanna approach to life is the farthest thing from our mind. But should it be? Should we find something positive even in the bleakest of circumstances?
Like we discussed in part 1, bouts of depression can swoop down upon us unaware! But we who suffer from depression are not without hope! We don’t always have to resort to the pill bottle or the counselor’s couch to see the light of day. While there are benefits to those, we can choose to play Pollyanna’s “The Glad Game” but rename it as “The Thankfulness Game.”
My friend, it is healthy and good to be actively engaged In overcoming depression.
Thankfulness. What's so powerful about being thankful? Dr. Daniel Amen, a clinical psychiatrist, scanned a woman’s brain two times, first when she was thankful, then when she was fearful. For the first scan, she dwelt on everything for which she was thankful. For the second scan, she meditated on all her fears of things which could go wrong.
The difference between the thankful brain and the non-thankful brain scans was stunning.
Her thankful brain lit up the areas of motor skill and thought coordination. This result makes sense. When we’re thankful, it adds a spring to our step and infuses hope into any situation and gives us the drive to push thru the hard things in life.
Proverbs 17:22 declares: "A joyful heart is good medicine!"
Her non-thankful brain showed a decrease in the areas of motor skill and thought coordination. Think about it, when we are fearful or down, our thoughts and actions become jumbled as if we’re walking through sludge. We're stunted from thriving.
Like Proverbs 17:22 warns: "A broken spirit dries up the bones."
Science proves the Bible!
Dr. Amen's brain scans prove Proverbs 17:22! Positive thoughts/thankful thoughts release endorphins - happy chemicals - which are stronger than morphine! "Being grateful for the wonderful things in your life literally helps you. . . “ (Dr. Daniel G. Amen, Making a Good Brain Great, p. 151) Read more about this in part one.
My friend, this is good news! Thankfulness can help heal a bout of depression!
Here are 6 ways we can play “The Thankfulness Game”?
1. Three things
When I'm in "the pit of despair," I make myself think of three things I'm thankful for. Why? Thankfulness is good medicine. I might be in my car or in my bed with the covers pulled over my head. No matter where I am, I can always mentally choose thankful thoughts of glee to sweep away the dark thoughts of "woe is me."
2. Thankfulness Journal
I have notebooks here, there, and everywhere to remind me to write thankful thoughts. It's not only fun, it’s life-giving to look back over the lists and see the faithful hand of God. Research shows the benefit of keeping a running list of thankful things:
“10 weeks later…participants in the gratitude group felt better about their lives as a whole and were a full 25 percent happier than the hassled group.” (Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D. Huffington Post)
3. Thankfulness Pinterest Board
Growing up, the sweet lady across the street kept a scrapbook full of her favorite pictures and quotes. I used to spend hours during the dark days of winter looking thru them next to a crackling fire with a warm mug of cocoa at my side.
Pinterest is a modern day version of her scrapbook. Start a thankfulness board on Pinterest and pin thankfulness thoughts and verses which inspire you. Simply type in "thankfulness quotes" or "Thankful verses" in your search engine search bar and then click images. Pin one or two a day. Check it regularly.
4. Thankfulness Screensavers
Speaking of thankfulness quotes or verses images, save a pretty one as your screensaver. Each time you pick up your phone or power on your computer, it will remind you to be thankful.
5. Thankfulness Sharing
Social media has enough negativity. There are others out there who need the thankfulness treasures you are unearthing. Like a flower girl casting pedals, share a thankfulness quote or verse on your social media page regularly.
6. Thankfulness Accountability Partner
I have a couple of precious friends I make (yes, I have learned I need to bully my flesh.) myself tell when I'm under a cloud of depression. They know when I tell them I am down-hearted, they are to point me to what is true and good and beautiful. They even sometimes make me tell them three things I'm thankful for and check in during the day to be sure I'm not wallowing in my pit of despair.
Life is hard. Dark days descend without notice. But God is good. He's given us a remedy for depression: a thankful heart. A cheerful heart. A glad heart. Pollyanna was right, “there is something about everything that you can be glad about, if you keep hunting long enough to find it.”
"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.
Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.
Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."
How about you, my friend? What are some tricks of the trade you use to help fight the dark thoughts? Perhaps you're in the throes of a dark period. I'm sorry. That's hard. Let me know as I'd love to pray with you. But also, I challenge you to pick one of the 6 remedies listed above and faithfully implement them into your day. You can do this! I'm cheering you on!
Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, lively laughter, deep talks and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.
This is my story of how I came to know Jesus as a child and then again as a woman. I would LOVE to hear yours! If you don’t know Him personally or if you have questions, we would love to talk with you. Please send us a private Facebook message or feel free to comment here.
You know those iconic small stain-glass windowed churches nestled in rolling hills? I was blessed to grow up in such a church in upstate New York. A myriad of memories flood my mind as I think back to my growing years in that church. Such memories as being baptized in a nearby very cold creek and yearly Easter sunrise services held in the back field followed by a yummy breakfast.
The most important memory, however, involves summer camp. Every summer the church members made sure we kids went off to church camp for a week. Amidst the greased pig contest and polar bear swimming club, my heart softened and permanently declared an eternal relationship with the Lover of my soul, Jesus.
I remember stepping outside that night after my decision to trust Jesus as my Savior. I looked up at the starry expanse spread like a canopy above me. I was overcome that the Creator of the starry realm loved me. Little ole me. I felt like Maria in the Sound of Music just singing and spinning with a soaring spirit. I was so filled with joy I could burst! I felt sure Jesus and I could conquer anything that came my way.
Years slowly slipped away and that night at camp became a definite but distant memory. My adult faith roller-coastered from joy-filled to joyless. Soon, my cup of joy was depleted. While I was active in my local church and wearing my joyful Jesus girl mask so skillfully, deep down I was miserable.
Miserable looks different for each of us but for me, it was as if a toddler had taken paint and splattered it over a beautiful masterpiece. There was splattered paint of anger, depression, and abusive and erratic behavior. I staggered from the high of Sunday morning worship to the deep valley of despair by Sunday afternoon. I was on and off anti-depressants and sleeping pills. My marriage was rocky, and my children trembled in fear at my sudden rage.
Something needed to change.
The joy I experienced that night years ago seemed so elusive now, possible for others but not for me. When I looked at much of what was wrong with my life - my marriage, my parenting, my friendships - I realized I was the common denominator. I had lost the joy of my salvation. I was the Titanic headed for the iceberg.
I needed to change.
I was in the midst of a Beth Moore study. I had always been in awe of her vibrant, radical faith and wanted it, but thought she was blessed with something special, something that was not obtainable for the average follower of Christ. But during one session, it finally clicked! Christ’s abundant life is a promise for all believers, including me!
The smoldering ember of my faith caught a flicker of air and started to burn!
Like a marathon runner, I began to train my flabby spiritual self hardcore. Instead of just a Sunday morning accessory, my Bible became my constant companion and lifeline. I asked the Lord, “Change me. I am willing to do whatever it takes to have the abundant life You promised in John 10:10.”
The Four Steps I Took to Turn My Titanic Self from Destruction:
1. Developed a Personal Bible Study Time
I was as inconsistent as an unreliable car with my quiet time. So, I determined to get up each morning before my family and spend time with the Lord. When my rebellious flesh wanted to stay in bed a little bit longer; I would pray Psalm 42:1-2,
“As the deer pants for the water, help me long for You.”
2. Studied and Applied God's Word
I dug deep into James 3:13-18 and into the Proverbs, like Proverbs 29:11, longing to be counted among the wise instead of the fool who is controlled by anger. My constant prayer was:
“Make me wise, Lord. Help my tongue speak words of life, not death. Allow my hands to be hands of healing, not hurting.”
3. Really Fell in Love with Jesus
I asked the Lord to help me fall deeply in love with and trust Jesus. With a renewed hunger, I studied the four gospels and every account of Jesus’s interaction with everyday people. With new eyes, I saw His love and compassion and miraculous healing of EVERY kind of sickness and disease. I prayed,
“Help my unbelief! Help me know you love me as deeply as those You walked with all those years ago."
4. Claimed Resurrection Power
I understood Christ's power to overcome death was available to me as a believer, yet I let that power lie dormant. I knew the only way to overcome my angry, depressed, abusive self was to pray Christ's death-defeating power over myself and my weaknesses. My steady prayer was:
"I'm weak and helpless to change myself. Lord, please help me believe Your resurrection power can save me from myself!”
And slowly, unlike the Titanic, I veered around the iceberg and started to feel a change in me.
- I started having joy which lasted longer than a worship service.
- I was experiencing peace that no pill or brownie or latest purchase could bring.
- I began to love being a wife and a momma and a friend.
I. Am. Changed! (Happy dance!)
Finally, I am experiencing the abundant life Jesus promised in John 10:10! All because the same power that raised Jesus from the grave is still available to us today! I just needed to receive it and believe it! Life has not become a bed of roses since my radical transformation. But now the joy of the Lord is my strength! His strength makes me strong where I am weak!
Just like that night long ago, the Creator of the starry host still loves little ole me. Just as important, Jesus and I CAN conquer anything that comes my way. When given the chance, I tell all who will listen,
"Jesus saves, not only from the literal hell, but also from the hell inside of ourselves!"
That is the victory of the empty tomb, my friend. That is the victory guaranteed to each person who humbles themselves, confesses their sin, and accepts Jesus as Lord.
Oh my friend, it's NOT too late! You are NOT too far gone! The victory of the empty tomb is possible for you, also. If He can save me from a Titanic-like existence, He can do the same for you!
May you believe it and walk and flourish in the power of Christ's empty tomb!!
Today, my sweet friend, Shannon, is sharing a piece of her heart, a piece of her story for God's glory. It's a gentle reminder that God is always there. We just need to listen. You can read more of Shannon's beautifully strung together words on her blog found here.
I sit here in the early morning hours of the sixth day of being snowbound. The house quietly waits for the hustle to begin but I know it will be a bit longer. My husband has long since left for work, and the girls are hidden in a mound of blankets trying to absorb the luxury that sleeping in affords.
I pull the fluffy throw closer to me and my pup and wrap my cold fingers more tightly around my hot mug. The sun isn’t shining, so a gray cast falls across the floor and a light snow begins to fall. The whiteness surrounds me. I snuggle in and listen. I listen for His voice.
“Let me hear of Your unfailing love each morning for I am trusting You. Show me where to walk for I give myself to You.” Psalm 143:8
I want to hear His voice. I long for it. It had been quiet to me for some time. Oh, it hadn’t been His fault. It had been mine. I am sure you have heard the quote, “If God feels far away, guess who moved?” Well, that is true. He doesn’t go anywhere. It is us. It was me.
I would like to say I had a good reason, but I didn’t. It started innocently enough.
- Our best friends moved.
- My job changed.
- My ministry shifted.
- Family members died.
I was lost. Every single thing I knew had suddenly crumbled like a tower around me.
I knew, in my heart of hearts, because I had loved the Lord for so very long, that He had not left me. I knew that He was still there. I knew that He still loved me. I knew that He was working something good in the hard. And even though I knew these things, I couldn’t see the good for all of the thick dust surrounding me from that crumbled tower!
I couldn’t read my Bible anymore. I just sat and stared at the words. I couldn’t pray. I opened my mouth to pray but nothing came out. I felt I was completely ineffective in everything I did and felt I no longer had a purpose.
Maybe I was having a pity party. Maybe it was a little depression. But I felt alone and worn out.
I longed to hear Him. I longed to feel Him. I wanted to feel the joy bubble up in my soul again. Instead, I slept more and more, and my physical self grew sicker and sicker.
I appeared fine on the outside. But on the inside, I had lost my joy and my sparkle. It was exhausting putting on a front all of the time, trying to appear happy when I was dying inside.
The holidays were drawing near, and I was dreading them. I love the time with family, the decorations, and traditions, and all of the food. I am like a child when the holidays are here!
But this year, I wanted to retreat and skip it all. I knew they wouldn’t be the same without the loved ones we had lost. Overall, I was just in a mood, and it wasn’t a good one.
Although I did not want to, we went to our Christmas musical at church. As I sat and watched the people milling around and hugging and talking, all dressed in their Christmas attire, I felt my heart squeeze.
I was tired of being sad. I was tired of being tired. I was tired of missing Him.
As the music began, I began to feel the weight of those blocks of that crumbled tower begin to lift off of me. Suddenly, the smoke lifted. and I could see! My heart felt light and free, and tears filled my eyes! I could feel Him again! I could FEEL!!! What I thought had died with all of my dreams and plans, He had made new again, just like that, in an instant!
All along I knew He was teaching me a lesson. My history has always shown me that I can never see His lessons in the midst of them, but only when I look back, after I have gotten through them, is when I can see.
What I learned through this is that He truly hasn’t ever left me, even though my stinky heart does wander from time to time. He is always waiting right there for just the right moment to show me how much He loves me and if He has to strip every single thing from me to show me to depend on Him more then He will.
He has also shown me that periods of grief are alright. He understands my sadness and desires to restore my joy. Grief should be for a period of time but not a way of life.
He also taught me that He was using me even in this wandering in the desert time, no matter how ineffective I felt.
He used it to grow me closer to Him, and it has become part of my testimony to help others. There is not one moment of our life that the Lord doesn’t use. Not one minute is wasted.
We are not here for us. We are here for Him, and He uses every moment for His glory.
So, this new year, my heart is lighter. I am reading the Bible through and enjoying it so much. My prayer life has been renewed. I am so far from the woman that I wish to be, but I know that taking daily steps to growing closer to Him gives me more joy than anything else that I can do.
I will stumble, be discouraged, and be sad again. But I know He will be right there waiting for me because He is the God that loves me. He is my Abba Father. And He is yours as well. No matter how hard life gets, never stop pursuing Him, this precious love of your life!
“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
The presents are opened. The cookies are eaten. The company is gone. All the build-up and excitement for Christmas has disappeared like yesterday’s snow. While the rest of humanity seems merry and bright, reality comes crashing down on you.
The marriage is still broken.
The child is still a prodigal.
The bill is still unpaid.
The ________ is still ___________.
The distress, darkness, and despair threaten to suffocate you. While others might tell you or you might tell yourself, “It’s the holidays! What do you have to be depressed about?” Depression can still show up as the Grinch and steal our hope and joy.
I get it. I understand the distress, the darkness, and the despair.
Much more importantly, so does God.
Oh, my friend, look with me at the hope-filled passage of Isaiah 9:1-7! There are such treasures found in its depths. Lock arms with me as we step into the light of His glory and grace.
Let's start with Isaiah 9:2:
The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light:
they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death,
upon them hath the light shined.
Did you catch that?
- walked in darkness.
- dwell in the land of the shadow of death.
Darkness. Death. Despair.
BUT because of Christmas,
- they have seen a great light!
- upon them hath the light shined!
Look what this light will do. Christmas day and every day, it will give you:
1. Joy! (Isaiah 9:3)
You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder.
Just like the light of God increased their joy, the light of God will increase your joy!
2. Peace! (Isaiah 9:4)
He will break the yoke of slavery
He will lift the heavy burden from their shoulders
He will break the oppressor’s rod !
The light of God set His people free. By providing freedom, He allowed them to experience peace like never before. Just as He did then, the light of God can break the yoke of whatever enslaves you and give you peace like never before!
3. Love! (Isaiah 9:6)
A child will be born to us!
A son will be given to us!
Not just any child, my friend, but the Son of God, Jesus! That is a gift of love that can’t be taken or sold or fade away.
How kind of God, but what does that have to do with:
The marriage that is still broken.
The child who is still a prodigal.
The bill that is still unpaid.
The ________ that is still ___________.
Whether it’s Christmas Day or any day of the year, this Child is the gift that keeps on giving. He is the:
Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6)
- His counsel boggles the mind because it’s beyond our understanding.
- It is life-giving, freeing, and joyful.
- When we don’t know what to do about our marriage, our parenting, our bills, He does!
Mighty God (Isaiah 9:6)
- His strength and His power are unsurpassed.
- He can do anything because He has the strength to follow through with His purpose.
- He has maximum ability to save a marriage, a child, and unpaid bills. Just ask and see what He can do!
Everlasting Father (Isaiah 9:6)
- His Fatherhood has no end.
- He is not limited by aging or dying.
- He is the Protector and Provider of our marriages, our parenting, our finances, etc. He cares more than we realize.
Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)
- A deep abiding peace that cannot be taken away.
- Spiritual harmony between God and us: in any marriage dispute, any parenting issue, and any life problem.
- This is not a promise of an easy life, just His unsurpassed peace to get through life.
Just because the gifts are open, the cookies are eaten, and the company is gone doesn't mean Christmas has to be over! Jesus! Jesus is the gift that keeps giving.
He is the light of the world!
He is joy like a fountain!
He is peace like a river!
He is love like an ocean!
He is the Wonderful Counselor!
He is the Mighty God!
He is the Everlasting Father!
He is the Prince of Peace!
He is the gift that keeps on giving!
“Glory to God in highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” Luke 2:14
Merry Christmas to us every day!
Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, lively laughter, deep talks and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.
4 Secrets to turn God's "No." into my "Yes!"
I just had one request on my birthday: “This year, Lord, please remove the depression, heal my mind, and set me free from this plague of darkness." As the days melted away, I stood expectant that God would deliver. After all, it was my year of jubilee, a year of freedom and restitution. But as the sun kissed the day goodbye 365 days later, the darkness of the evening mocked the darkness closing in on my mind. I wasn't healed. Depression was still a part of me.
God had said, "No."
The Apostle Paul was familiar with God saying, “No." In 2 Corinthians 12:7-8, he wrote,
"Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.”
I'm not claiming my depression is from Satan, but it sure does torment me.
- It trips me in my upward momentum.
- It isolates me in a crowd of joyful people.
- It mocks me at the slightest seemed offense.
- it... ugh, the list drones on.
"Why, Lord? You can do anything. I know You love me. Why would You, in your great kindness, choose not to heal me?"
After I finished pouting, my heart softened. My "woe is me" turned to "Show me, Lord!" I craved to live abundantly with this "thorn in my flesh." I asked. He answered. Help arrived. God’s words to Paul became my lifeline, "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9.
Two phrases serve as handholds on this lifeline.
1. My Grace - Grace in the Greek is “charis” meaning that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness. I think of babies laughing, lambs skipping, and all other gifts in life that are bright and beautiful. These are just a small taste compared to the abundant grace God lavishes upon us. Therefore, when my soul is downcast with “woe is me,” God’s grace penetrates the dark with joy and delight and sweetness.
2. My Power - Power translated from the Greek is “dynamis" which is my favorite Greek word. Your mind probably pictured dynamite as you read it. Not only does it mean strength power and ability, it also means power for performing miracles! Chew on that, my friend, the power for performing miracles! Glory bumps!!
Just imagine any stronghold which shackles us from living the abundant life. Like dynamite blasts thru mountains of rock, so it is with God's power. It blasts thru any stronghold holding us captive! Yes! If that doesn't make you want to cheer, check your pulse!
So even though God said, "No." to taking away the depression, He was inviting me to say, “Yes!” when dealing with the depression. “When Tammy is weak, then God is strong.”
We sing and listen to sermons of God's grace and power on Sunday mornings, but how does that translate to the nitty gritty of life by Sunday afternoon? Oh, my friend, it is by applying God's Word. This is how we "Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear." Philippians 2:12.
Here are 4 Scriptural Truths on thankfulness which we can apply to help depression!
1.Thankfulness Beckons Me to the Light.
“Be thankful in ALL circumstances,
for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5:18
It's His will for me to be thankful because He knows that thankfulness is life-giving! Thankfulness alters the flow of my thoughts from darkness to light!
2. Thankfulness Protects Me from the Dark.
“we take captive every thought
to make it obedient to Christ.”
2 Corinthians 10:5
All dark and negative thoughts are cheating me of the abundant life Christ died and rose again for. This verse pictures criminal thoughts being handcuffed and thrown into prison to protect my mind from their folly.
3. Thankfulness Frees Me from the Dark.
“Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again
—my Savior and my God!”
Experts say worry and worship can’t occupy the same space. How kind of God! He knows when I’m focused on thankfulness, I’m allowing joy to bloom in the desert places of my heart and mind.
4. Thankfulness Empowers Me in the Light.
:“A joyful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
Depression is equivalent to a crushed or sad spirit. Yet, God, in His kindness, supplied us with the answer! His antidote? A joyful heart! A joyful heart hones in on thankfulness! A follow-up post will demonstate this link between thanfulness and joy. Thankfulness empowers me to choose joy in the darkest times. Thank you, Lord!
Bouts of depression are like the onslaught of seasonal colds. They come and go at will. When I have a cold, I take medicine formulated for my symptoms. So it is with depression. When it swoops down on me, I apply these 4 Secrets to shine the light in the dark. Is it easy? No. I have to bully my flesh. Is it worth the effort? Absolutely! Why? Thankfulness helps heal depression.
While I didn't receive my birthday request, I received something so much better: God inviting me to trust Him. I have turned God's gentle "No" of a miraculous healing to a life-preserving "Yes!" by taking Him at His Word.
Truly Paul's words have now become my mantra, "Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses...for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Soon, I'll share some of the cool science proving these 4 Secrets work! Until then, my friend, how have you beaten depression? I'd love to hear! If you're currently in a dark season, I'm sorry. That's hard. I get it. You're not alone. Let me know if you're struggling. I'd love to pray with you.
Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Confidante. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, deep talks, lively laughter, and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.
Depressed, angry, and abusive defined the real me behind the mask I skillfully wore. On the surface, many saw a sweet Jesus girl who seemed happily married and mothered her children so well. Yet under the surface a volcano was brewing, rumbling and sending out steam, indicating something was seriously wrong. Perhaps that’s why I love the story of the demon-possessed man that Jesus freed in Mark 5:1-20. His story could be my story but let’s focus on the beauty of Jesus.
1. Jesus Crosses over to the Other Side
The true story told in Mark 5 of the demon-possessed man is a beautiful picture of the heart of the Savior, going to any lengths to rescue one person. That's the beauty of the gospel. Not only was it true 2000 years ago, but it is still relevant today! Jesus will leave the 99 sheep to rescue 1. Matthew 18:12 That's my story. Jesus not only rescued me from the literal hell, but also rescued me from the living hell I was choosing to live here on earth. He truly is the Miracle Maker!
When I think of those who are still shackled by the chains of anger, depression, and abuse, by faith, I rise up and shout from the mountain top, “Jesus is just as much in the miracle making business today as He was 2,000 years ago! Look at me! He wants to do the same for you!”
“Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.” Mark 5:19
How about you, my friend? How has Jesus set you free? Perhaps you’re still shackled by your own “demons”. Oh my friend, Jesus wants to set you free! Cry out to the Miracle Maker, and trust Him for a miracle!
Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Confidante. Lover of dark chocolate, milky coffee, deep talks, lively laughter, and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.