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
Follow By Faith She on Facebook here
1 Peter 3:15 "but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you."
Today's post is simple, but extremely challenging! Everyday when I wake up, I ask the Lord to help me, to guide me, to allow people to see something different in me...to let them see Jesus.
Now I sure don't always get it right...just ask my husband or my children! But my heart's desire is to be more like Jesus everyday and for people to wonder where my joy comes from. I love 1 Peter 3:15 because Scripture can't get any clearer on what we as believers are commanded to do. As we break down 1 Peter 3:15, I pray you take time to reflect on the "Take Aways" that you will find under each point.
1. Honor Christ in your hearts always
The word honor (hagiazo) in this text means "treat as holy, regard reverently". What you treat as holy in your heart will have an impact on the rest of your life. To treat Christ as holy means that you do not see yourself as the center of your purpose; rather it means you see yourself as a redeemed sinner.
Where is God ranked in your life? Do you make Him a priority, or do you just fit Him in where your schedule allows?
2. Be prepared
1 Thessalonians 5:6, "So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober."
To be asleep is to be inactive! What a dangerous place to be as a believer! We should always have our hearts and eyes on Jesus as we learn more about Him everyday through His Word and through prayer.
The more we are prepared and spend time with our Father, the easier it is to tell others about Him.
Would you say you are prepared when it comes to sharing about Jesus? Do you spend time getting to know Him and listening to Him?
3. Make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you
1 John 1:3, "We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard"
People can argue all day long over theology and religion, but there is one thing that NO ONE can argue with...and that is the reason for the hope that is in YOU! You have a personal story of what you have seen and heard and no one can take that away from you.
Have you ever shared the reason for your hope with anyone? Have you ever written out your defense of the reason for the hope that is in you?
Laura is a pastor's wife, mom to two crazy fun kids, part-time marketing director, loves hanging out in her community and building relationships...oh and loves to laugh!
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. 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.
An honest fact about me is that since becoming an adult, I have developed a horrible memory. I get snapshots of childhood events from time to time, but my memories are very spotty. My first recollection of being in church was when I was six years old. We were having a revival, which is a series of services for the purpose of sharing Jesus, and the man speaking asked if anyone wanted to “be saved”. I had no idea what that meant, but it did look like a lot of fun to walk up to the altar of the church in front of everybody. So, as several others filed forward, I marched down the aisle and up onto the stage. I don’t actually remember much else that happened at that point, but I am told that I was very adamant about wanting to be baptized.
My mom talked to me later that night, and I began learning about heaven and Jesus and what that meant for me. From that point forward I was considered to be a Christian. As far as everyone could tell, I completely understood. I can recall being very involved in church during my elementary years. My parents were always hosting and helping in different church groups I was involved in. Through these years I was learning and growing in my knowledge of who God was and what Jesus had done for me.
As I became a teenager some of my best friends were from my church youth group and church was a major part of my life. At another revival, my dad came to the realization that although he had been in church for many years, he had never made a decision for himself to believe in Jesus, and to turn from his sin and give his life to following God. Several other church friends came to the same decision: that they needed to trust and follow Jesus. By now I was 13 years old and I had been learning about God and the Bible for several years.
It was confusing to me that these “church people” could be so involved and so committed to serving, yet not “be saved”.
I certainly was, right? I began to think back to the time I walked down to the front of the church and insisted on being baptized. I couldn’t remember why. I couldn’t remember what I had chosen to believe at that point. I actually couldn’t remember anything from that event. But, I rested in the fact that I had walked a church aisle, and I had been baptized, and now I was involved in church…so surely I had to be a Christian.
Later that week, an event took place at my school called See You At The Pole. I’m sure many of you are aware of this event that takes place on school campuses all across the country still today. Our church youth group had a rally the night before to inform students and encourage them to go and pray for their friends. It was that night, as I watched a video depicting the life and death of Jesus, that I truly understood what He had done for me. I knew all of the Bible stories. I had heard a million times that Jesus had died for my sins. But it was at this moment that it all came together in my heart. I was a sinner. Yes, I went to church and yes, I loved God, but because of my sin, I was separated from Him. I needed Jesus to take my punishment. The Bible says in Romans 6:23 that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life THROUGH JESUS.
This gift was available to me, but I had to accept it. I couldn’t go to church enough or be involved in enough religious events to earn my way to God. Jesus was the ONLY way!
Romans 10:9-10 says,
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
1 John 1:7b & 9b
The blood of Jesus, God's Son, purifies us from all sin. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
So, I had to accept the gift of Jesus, but I also had to be willing to turn from my sins and to give my life over to God. I was only in sixth grade and, for the most part, I was a pretty good kid. But, although I couldn’t have seen it then, looking back, I can tell you that there was an evil in my heart that could not have been changed without the power that comes from knowing Christ. That was the immediate transformation in me. My heart wanted to follow Jesus! I wanted to do right and to walk with Him well. However, the application of that has been a learning process. That is the part that has taken work, spiritual maturity, and time.
I definitely didn’t understand everything about God or His Word when I made a decision to follow Him at 13. In fact, I still don’t. It’s been a messy, up and down, and sometimes all over the place journey. But I can say, without a doubt, He has walked me through every second. He continues to teach me and He has been so patient as I learn. And, although my walk is still not always pretty, He continues to give me a heart that truly longs to please and follow Him.
This is my story of how I came to know Jesus. 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.
I encourage you to share your story!
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.
"No, I don't want children!" I declared to my shocked newlywed husband. Even though I had played with dolls and pretended to be a mommy as a young child, time had drastically changed my wanting a quiver full of children to wanting zilch, zero, none.
Time and counseling (ha) were followed by one, then two babies. Yet, as a new mommy, the days and many nights were painfully long. I lived for nap-time and bedtime just trying to sanely make it thru each day with little ones needing my. every. waking. second. I loved the title of “Mommy” but I didn’t love being a mommy.
Looking back, I realized I had bought into the lies the evil one had whispered into my heart. These lies, while different from Eve’s, were just as deadly: children are a hindrance, they’ll keep me from climbing the job ladder, they’ll steal my life, etc. etc. etc. These lies were sucking the joy out of my mommying.
I came to a crossroads during my third (surprise!) pregnancy. It was as if God had turned the light on in my parenting, and showed me I was just surviving rather than thriving. I realized something had to change. I needed to flush out the lies and fill myself with truth. I would have to reinvent myself and there was no better place, then in God’s life-giving Word.
“He makes the barren woman abide in the house as a joyful mother of children.” Psalm 113:9
“A joyful mother.” Ha! That didn’t describe me except at bedtime! Webster’s dictionary defines joyful as: merry, glad, and showing joy.
I had to look at myself to see if I matched the description,
1. Am I merry? Nope, more like mopey!
2. Would my kiddos say I’m glad? Nope, more often sad or even mad!
3. Does the world see joy in my mothering? Nope, they just hear grumbling and complaining!
Ugh! My answers showed me I was sleep-walking through one of the most amazing blessings God grants women: motherhood. Well, this sleeper wanted to wake up! “As a man thinks in his heart, so he is.” Proverbs 23:7 What follows are the steps I now realize are outlined in Dr. Caroline Leaf's excellent book Switch on Your Brain. I purposely set out to retrain my brain to choose joy in my mothering, to “think the way God wanted me to think” about mothering. (SOYB p. 53)
1. Choose Joyful Motherhood
“Rejoice in the Lord, always; again I will say, rejoice!” Philippians 4:4 obviously includes mommying, so I had to train my brain to rejoice in the blessings of motherhood. Rejoice means to be glad, be well, thrive. “Whatever we think about the most will grow!” (SOYB p. 63) Therefore, I needed to not only love my children but
2. Mimic Joyful Motherhood
Secondly, I looked around at those who were joyfully mothering. Proverbs 31:26 was my criteria, “She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” Countless women were mommying well. So, I intentionally:
Takeaway: To thrive as a joyful mother, I changed my perception by watching, listening, and mimicking other joyful mothers.
3. Exemplify Joyful Motherhood.
Thirdly, I had to train my brain to fully immerse myself into each season my kiddos walked through. “Change takes place over time through continual persistence.” (SOYB p. 67)
- Thoroughly Enjoy - I found myself longing for different seasons, therefore I made myself choose to revel in my kiddos current season of life. I reminded myself on the hard days, “The days may be long but the years are truly short. Choose joy, Tammy!”
- Be Thankful - “In everything give thanks” 1 Thessalonians 5:18. I remember crossing the floor from my bedroom to theirs for the tenth time one night, schooling myself, “Be thankful, Tammy. You are blessed to be their momma and to have to walk across this floor for the tenth time to tend to their needs.”
- Be Intentional - “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 This is my appointed time to be a momma, therefore I told myself, “Be intentional, Tammy. Pour into them while there’s time. Put down your phone, look into their eyes, and just listen, for the day is coming when they won’t be under your roof.”
Takeaway: To thrive as a joyful mother, I needed to “pay attention to my thoughts and purposefully focus my mind to lead to a great transformation!” (SOYB p. 67)
4. Champion Joyful Motherhood
Lastly, I now feel the call to champion joyful motherhood. Society bullies us to believe that the best mommies dress their kiddos in the latest trends, put them in the most activities, and take them on the best trips. But that’s just not true, for the world’s mommying standard is always changing, thoroughly exhausting, and a completely unattainable pursuit for mothering.
Rather, our hearts should allow the life-giving beauty of Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Proverbs 31:10-31, & 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 be our mommying standard.
“Our minds can powerfully and unexpectedly change our brains in positive ways when we intentionally direct our attention.” (SOYB p. 92)
We need to believe:
5. Joyful Motherhood
God, in all His kindness, has transformed me into a joyful mother. Are there hard days? Absolutely! But I now see those hard days as bumps, rather than roadblocks.
“I saw the greatest changes in patients who willfully, determinedly, and persistently chose to focus their attention on improving their skills and restoring function.” (SOYB p. 102)
I now strive to laugh with and enjoy the little and the big with my kiddos. In a blink of an eye, they will be driving off to the new adventure of adulthood, and all I’ll be left with are fading memories. By faith, may those memories be warm and full of contentment, because I chose to believe that I was given one of the greatest titles this side of glory, Momma, and I lived out that title joyfully.
How about you? If you're blessed with physical children (or grandchildren, or nieces/nephews), would they describe you as joyful? If not, what changes can you make to become more joy filled during this season of life? Who around you exemplifies joyful mothering? If you are joyfully living out this season of life, who can you come alongside and mentor? A sweet momma is out there longing for you to reach out to her and breath life into her. Do it, my friend! You both will be blessed!
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.