“God’s Not Dead And Neither Is Joy”

It’s been nearly eight months since my last blog, this is why I elude to the fact that I’m not dead.  As my readers may know I struggle with bi-polar disorder and the last year has been a difficult one.  When in the throws of depression my creative juices are nonexistent so blogging becomes nearly impossible.  I apologize for my long absence.   But on to what this blog is all about encouragement.

We’ve been having a number of earthquakes in Southern California recently and I must say us Southern Californians react differently.  That’s to say that not all of us react the same when faced with a strong earthquake.

The first guakes hit Brea, La Habra and Fullerton on Friday March 28th.  There was a 3.6 earlier but by 9 something at night while my dog Tessa and I were haviing a late dinner the 5.1 hit and shook hard.  Stoping Tessa from finishing her dinner and upseting her enough with all the very many after shocks that she didn’t go back to eating until 2:30 a.m.  The guakes had stopped for about two hours by then.

My friend was in bed when the earthqauke hit while my reaction was to keep eating dinner and my dogs was to stop, hers was to feel alone and shout out “Lord don’t forget me!  Don’t leave me here!”

The following day my friend Julie and I decided to go see “God’s Not Dead”.  [Now I must admit that all these earthquakes had me unnerved and feeling very compassionate towards my poor dog, what if one hit while I was gone how would she be?]  We went to the 1:00 showing got in our seats and snuggled down to enjoy the show.

The movie was fantastic!  I highly recommend it.  As we were enthralled by the movie the earth began to shake violently.  Julie and I immediately grabbed each others hand and held it until the quake was over.  Then the most amazing thing happened where the two of us a moment earlier were experiencing fear subsided by companionship, came joy at the shouting out in the theater “Praise You Jesus!”  Yes there in the middle of the theater was a time of rememberance of who was really in control.  As the movie was telling us and the earth was showing us God is not dead.  He is very alive.

We can take the opportunity when things are out of our control to be fearful or to rest in the hands of God.  Yes someone with skin on is comforting but they can let you down through no fault of their own.  But God will never let us down.  He is always on our side and always faithful.  It is His nature and He can’t go against His nature.

So next time life takes a turn in a direction unexpected or life shakes you up turn to the One who is steadfast and never changing.  That just may be God’s way of getting your attention so that you will turn to Him for the guidance and the solace you need.

Joy – A Fellow Sojourner & A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

30 Days of Gratitude – Day 28 God’s Unmerited Favor

Today I’m grateful for the unmerited favor the God has shown to me.  I’ve been living in a dark whole for many months and though I know that God was with me in that whole, today the light was visible.  It  was like I was lost in a dark forest, unable to find my way out and today finally the light shown thorough the branches of the trees.

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Where there was once despair there is now hope.  I’m back in God’s Word, after being away for more than four months, which has filled me with such joy, hope, inspiration, a kick in the butt (greatly needed), grace, and blessings beyond measure.   Today’s readings have not only reminded me of God’s grace, and hope but the truth that He is always there and so is His Word and the richness there of.

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During my times of depression when it was all I could do to get up watch TV, figure something out to eat and take care of my dog, there were times when I knew God was with me.  Most of the time I had to take that as a step of faith, that God was still there no matter how alone I felt, occasionally and these where rare but I’m oh so grateful for them, there were times when I could actually feel His embrace.  It was in those times that my faith was faltering that God was so kind as to shore up my faith and bless my wounded heart with the warmth of His embrace.  It is something I will never forget or take for granted.  Maybe it’s a sign of my own weakness that He came to me in such a physical way but weakness or not He knew what I needed at that very moment.  I was all alone and desperate and needed to feel loved.  I’m not saying that I’m anyone special because of that embrace, honestly more likely I’m someone less special.  I would love to say that my faith is so strong that I don’t doubt or cry out to God to show Himself, but sadly that is not the case.

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In this area and in many other areas God is molding me and making me into the Christian that He would have me be.  Some days I’m a more willing piece of clay than others and because of that I’m so grateful for His grace.  I would love to say that I meet my trials with courage, fortitude and a strong faith, but more often than not I fail, fall to the ground, stay there a while and then figure it out to call on God to help me out.

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This piece of clay is not only hard, so it needs a lot of water and pressure from the Potter, it also has far too dry parts that need to be removed completely in order to work the clay properly.  The more the Potter works with this clay the more evident the hard dried out pieces become and the painful process of removal must take place.  Thankfully even with these pieces the Potter has not given up on this piece of clay.

If you’re like me and have your off days as well as your on fire days.  Take hope in the fact that God’s grace (unmerited favor) is limitless.  His love is unconditional as long as you are His child.  So, if you haven’t accepted what Christ did for you on the cross, which was paying the penalty for all our sins and that penalty is death, ask forgiveness of your sins (anything short of perfection), accept what Christ did on the cross for you and ask Him to come into your life and help you life the kind of life He wants you to live.  It’s as easy as that to become a child of God.

Help! I’m Bi-polar!

I struggle with Bi-polar disorder and the past two plus weeks I’ve been struggling with severe depression.  When this happens it is easy to believe God has deserted you.  Now I am fully aware that that is not Biblically sound doctrine.  It’s just when your deep in the pit of despair it’s easy to go by feelings rather than faith of the truth of God’s Word.  But this is what God’s Word has to say on the matter:

What a blessed promise.  When I’m isolating in my apartment, I’m never truly alone.  God is with me.  He promises this and He is faithful, He never breaks His Word.

When I keep the discipline of staying in His Word I find these jewels that help me to hold on one more day in hopes of the depression leaving soon and life looking full of possibilities for the future.

I love this version of this particular verse because instead of translating the word to prosper which most people equate with money, something God has never seen fit to lavish upon me, it translates it as peace and that I’d much prefer.

There is another verse that I have found helpful in changing the thoughts that don’t help with the depression that I am fighting.

Filling my mind with positive thoughts rather than negative thoughts literally changed my life that and the decision that suicide was no longer an option.  But there is more than just the positive thoughts Philippians 4:9 goes on to say, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you.”  Now that’s a wonderful promise! But notice the promise comes with action on our part.

For any of you that are struggling with Bi-polar disorder please don’t get me wrong in no way am I saying that it is easy to deal with.  I struggle with wanting to isolate, sleep my life away, gorge myself into oblivion so I don’t have to feel and I have even done less healthy things in an attempt to cope. What I am saying is it is a fight we mustn’t stop, and in that fight use any tool available to you.  Take your meds religiously.  See your doctors and therapists regularly and be open and honest with them.  Make sure you have a support network.  If you don’t work occupy yourself so you have a set schedule. Get plenty of rest and have a consistent bedtime.  Eat healthy even when you don’t want to.  Get exercise and get 20 minutes of morning sun.  All of these will help you live a better life.

Joy – Fellow Sojourner & A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

God’s Lessons In Humility

I have a trainer that spent an hour with me today in the pool, trying to get me to learn how to kick properly, breath without drinking the pool, and the right way to use my arms.  At the end of the hour I understood what I was doing wrong but felt no closer to getting it right than when I began.  It was truly a lesson in humility.

My trainer had every opportunity to get frustrated with me, even angry, but she didn’t. She was patient and kind and showed me again what it was that I was doing opposed to what it was that she was trying to get me to do.  It got me thinking, isn’t that like our Heavenly Father?  Just because we don’t get it right the first or third time, He doesn’t give up on us but mercifully guides us in the way He wants us to go.

He is the true source of all the power, unlike the trainer who can lead you but leaves it up to you to get it in the end.  God fills us with His power and asks us to rely on and trust Him to get us through things.

“[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.” – Philippians 2:13

I have struggled with my weight all my life. Either I thought I was too fat when I was not or when the doctors told me I could no longer purge but if I had to binge to handle what I was going through emotionally go ahead and binge.  That permission got me up to 350 pounds with God’s help, Weight Watchers, and exercise I’m down to 241.  I still have a long way to go to reach my goal of a healthy body weight.  I don’t know what that is but I know what I want it to look like toned in every area of my body.

My biggest struggle is when the depression comes.  You see I’m bi-polar and when I’m in a manic phase my eating is not a problem, neither is my exercise, other than not overdoing it.  When depression comes, however, eating becomes a problem one of two things happen. 1. I don’t want to eat.  2. All I want to eat is candy or other junk.  This is where the passage above has hit me between the eyes.

When I’m in depression one of the things that I do is to not spend time with God.  To be honest I veg out in front of the TV.  But I’m realizing one for my weight loss and as a diabetic I need to rely on God to get me through the bad times.  I need to cry out to Him like a hurt child cries out to her daddy for comfort, compassion strength and protection.  I know if I’ll only humble myself I’ll be blessed with God’s presence in my life and His love engulfing me.

I need to stop trying to dig myself out of the pit of depression.  It is a useless effort on my part.  I haven’t the tools.  Yes I can spend time with friends and get out of the house and get some sun, and journal.  All tools that have been suggested to me and to an extent can help some but they aren’t the ultimate answer.  That answer is found when I humbly turn to the Father, seeking His help and guidance.  Learning to trust Him in all things and stand in that trust.

I love the acronym for FROG. Fully Rely OGod. That is what I need to be doing in good times  and bad times, Fully Relying On God. 

If you struggle with bi-polar or depression or are going through a period in your life when the world just seems dark, let me encourage you that letting go of what has you down and not trying to do it all on your own, will ease your burden.  What will make it bearable is to give it to God.  Ask for His power to do whatever it is you can not do on your own. The peace that comes from turning it over to Him is amazing and such a blessing.  Please don’t miss out on it.