Bible, Children, family, god, Holy Spirit, jesus, Love, Marriage, Mental Health, Ministry, Parenting, Uncategorized

Marriage Wars

My husband and I know several people going through marriage wars, right now. It may sound like a new reality show. It’s not. Don’t worry, though, I’m sure they’ll get around to it. 🙄 In the meantime, let’s focus on not giving the world what it wants, but giving God what He wants and saving our families while we’re at it!

It’s a crappy part of life. What I’m about to say comes from a place of humility that one can only fathom if they’ve been there, I assure you.

Nothing teaches you more humility than realizing that you don’t matter but the soul of both yourself and your spouse matters more.

You either believe in God and the fullness of His word or not. I’m not talking about the good parts. I’m talking about the reality of it. Either you and your spouse are fighting because you’re just people; or, as the Word says, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

In other words, are you fighting each other or are you fighting satan?

You have to take that inventory or you’ve already lost.

I love this list from God is the Author of Marriage.

There is a great article and inventory on Patsy Rae Dawson’s page HERE if you’re not sure where to start.

CLICK HERE for a Marriage Inventory Questionnaire designed to help identify strengths and potential trouble-spots in your relationship from Focus on the Family. This form has been designed for pre-marital counseling but is also a great way of getting you and your spouse refocused. Most of the questions have no “right” answers; the important thing is for you to state clearly your perceptions in each case. Do not talk about the inventory until after you have filled it out individually. After you have filled it out, be sure to talk through the inventory with one another and you may consider sitting down with your pastor or other Christian marital counselor with this form.

The second part of this issue (as it was for David & myself) is that pesky “and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh” thing that the Bible says.

I realized that, through the Spirit – not of my own flesh, that this wasn’t a war between my husband and I. This was a war against my marriage by satan and sin. Because satan was picking a fight with my husband, he was picking a fight with me; because, two became ONE.

That meant, David couldn’t fight him alone and I couldn’t fight him alone. We had to fight him, with God, TOGETHER.

If Christ said, “’You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”” That tells me that – if two have become ONE – my spouse and I should BOTH be loving the Lord our God with ALL of our hearts, our souls, and our minds. Secondly, if we are loving each other as ourselves, in addition to us both engulfing ourselves in all that is God and running after Him with our whole selves,….how can we fail?! We can’t! You know why? Because we both have our eyes set on the same end goal – God! We will always end up at the same destination. Best of all, we’ll end up there together.

That doesn’t mean that I’m never hurt or angry. It just means that I never lose sight of the goal – winning, succeeding in my marriage, successfully guiding my children toward God. You guys think I’m competitive when it comes to football and other sports? It will never compare to the competitiveness I feel when getting back what the devil stole or is trying to steal from me.

I know I’m already an overcomer in Christ. That means, at that point, that if the war is lost… it’s either my fault or David’s fault.

So, take inventory of yourself:

1) Who are you fighting?

2) Are you fighting as a team or separate?

3) Are you willing to do ANYTHING it takes to be happier than you’ve ever been before?

My husband and I love each other more NOW than we ever did when we were first married; and THAT is the way it’s supposed to work. We know that there will be more battles; but, we’ve already won the war. So, if we lose a battle or each other… that’s on us as a team.

So don’t just pray…FIGHT! The fight is well worth it. And never forget….your children are watching, others are watching and praying, “Please, God, because if they can then we can.”

More:

A great article on marriage by Wisdom for Life

Celebrate Recovery (for hurts, habits, & hangups)

Anxiety, Bible, Children, Depression, family, Marriage, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting, Suicide, Uncategorized

#worthless

Have you ever felt completely worthless? I want you to really stop and think about this question. Don’t just say, “Sure!” I’m talking about, “Why did I get out of bed, today? What was the purpose?” #worthless.

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Battling depression for the majority of life has brought me closer to God than anything else in this world. Because I battle it, because I fight and refuse to cave, I must lean on Him. I must find my encouragement in Him. I hope that in sharing my thoughts, today, that you will find encouragement as well. You’ll have to bear with me through the rough stuff first, though.

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For those of you who have never been diagnosed with clinical depression, without diminishing the validity of your bad days at all, I would like to clarify what it means to be truly depressed. One is not anymore important than the other. We’re all entitled to our feelings and the processes that we must go through to find our way in this world. I pray that yours finds you looking toward Christ. Now, that being said… depression doesn’t have to make sense. It doesn’t have to make sense; yet, when you feel it, you feel and believe it all the way to your marrow. One of the worst ways the spirit of depression can attack you is when you can actually reason as to why you feel this way – you can point out evidence that leads you to the conclusion that (in this case) you are in fact worthless.

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That brings me to today.

I don’t want to write about this. I’ll be honest. I keep stopping my fingers from typing because, quite frankly, this sucks. I promised God, though, and you that I would be transparent because this world is full of people that don’t know what the face of true Christianity is and this world is full of Christians that think every other Christian’s life is hunkydory. So, here goes nothing…

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Today, I’m battling the notion that without me my family would go on pretty well. At most, they’d be inconvenienced by having no one to pick my son up from school on weekdays. Even then, my mother-in-law could probably pull that duty and watch him until my husband got off work. That sounds seriously pretty harsh and depressing. Right? Well, that’s transparency for you. Look at that: a true believer in Christ going through a major battle. They don’t tell you about that on Sunday morning at Joel Osteen’s church. Do they?

With depression and anxiety constantly trying to beat down my heart’s door, I’ve had to learn how to set boundaries in order that I can function at my best and, in addition, not hurt those around me. Sometimes that means walking away. Sometimes that means quarantining myself. Sometimes that means addressing something in writing rather than in word. To complicate matters, I’m an INFJ. What? I know. It’s like I just spoke in tongues. While I am pentecostal, that was not the utterance. That is actually my personality type. It stands for Introversion iNtuition Feeling Judgment. This personality type is often referred to as “The Advocate.” This reference is due largely impart because we find ourselves constantly playing the part of mediator and part-time therapist. INFJs don’t want to just be a shoulder you lean on. We want to get to the very heart of the problem and help you to fix it so that you’re the very best version of yourself and you don’t revisit these problems in the future. Tied in with this need to resolve issues and bring situations to a positive head, is the introversion part (Which just means we recoup differently – extroverts get energy from being with others, introverts get energy from downtime. It doesn’t mean I’m shy.), the feelings part (It’s almost as if you’re empathic, though I don’t believe in that. An INFJ is simply really adept at readings others’ body language and listening to them, really hearing them.), and the judgment part (feeling strong conviction in regard to justice prevailing and things being set to rights). Does that sound tiring to you? It does to me and I can attest that I’m freakin’ wore out, y’all; because, I’ve been doing all of that for everyone around me!

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Right now, my husband is going through stuff at work. He’s laterally moved into a position that can be time consuming and stressful yet doesn’t quite have the payoff commensurate to the stress and time involved. Add to that, he’s a leader at Celebrate Recovery and carries his own burdens along with those of the men he leads. Oh yeah… he added soccer coach to his schedule, too. My 20-year-old daughter is going through something very personal right now that, at times, has cut her to the quick and nearly every one of us goes through. It’s something that if she takes one path it could end in a lifetime of committed misery, and if she takes another path it could be the best decision of her life; yet, both paths look the very same at the beginning – there are no signs, simply two seemingly duplicate paths that end in two very different ways. My son is going through his own trials that are in no way little simply because of his young age of five. His trials are heartbreaking and frustrating and….seem hopeless to him at times. And, guess what? I’m feeling it ALL. I’m feeling every tense beat of my husband’s heart. I’m feeling every single tear that my daughter is dropping. I’m feeling every single moment of failure that my little buddy is determined to fend off. And…I’m enduring this all while being completely terrified of the test I’m having run on myself this Tuesday (while trying to hide that terror).

And…I’m trying to do my part. I’m forgiving them when they’re short with me. I’m ignoring things that aren’t worth addressing because they’re like small storm clouds that blow away. I’m trying to hear. I’m loving. I’m trying to counsel. I don’t think I’m a know-it-all. In fact, if life and circumstance has taught me anything it’s that I know very little. Thankfully, I have a manual and I refer to it often. So, when I counsel my three – whether it’s by walking them through them finding the answers themselves or my pointing it out for them – I’m referencing the Bible. After all, if you have no manual, no compass, you’re going in circles with everything being subjective.

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(Now, I feel compelled to say that normally my family is actually pretty darn great. Usually we love each other so much and when I have a bad day they are all there to lift me up in their own special way. We are just going through a really difficult season right now.)

Well, that brings me to today. I’ve been – everyday – fighting for, praying for, and counseling my family nearly every minute of every day, nearly non-stop now for weeks, getting very little sleep and waking up to do it all over again and… all three of them, in their own ways, made me feel worthless. No…the correct way to word that is this: I allowed myself to feel worthless based on the actions of my family members. I don’t really want to say that but the truth is Jeremiah 17:9 tells me that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked…” So, I have to set how I feel aside and face the fact that I’m allowing their actions to make me feel a certain way.

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I feel worthless. One of them was so quickly offended by the seemingly smallest thing that I did that I thought, “Well, I just shouldn’t talk or interact with [them], then.” After that, another looked at me like I was a complete imbecile in front of my parents – not even deeming me important enough to deserve a verbal response – and that was it for me. My limit had been met. I spoke to no one. I simply stood up and walked away. After 39 years, around 25 of them battling this, you begin to know yourself and see patterns. You know when to walk away, if you care that is about others and end results. So, I sat in the truck…and missed my son’s first soccer game. What? I know. You’re like, “How could you do that?” Well, if you thought that then…praise God! You’ve probably never had to battle this horrific sickness that satan uses against God’s people all over the world nearly every day. I’m not admonishing you. I’m genuinely glad that you don’t get why I had to leave no matter what. You see, if I had stayed, I would have sat there and cried silently, probably shaking, having a full-blown anxiety attack and I would have ruined my son’s first soccer game for everyone else that was there – his dad who was coaching, both sets of grandparents, and his sister. Who am I to do that? This brings me to the third and last of my family that I allowed the actions of to make me feel worthless – my son never even noticed I missed his game nor did he care one way or the other. And (humorless laugh) to add insult to injury: my daughter is now in charge of sitting on the bench with the boys not on the field and taking the score; and they all spent the next hour or two talking about what great fun it all was.

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That’s what I wanted. Right? I wanted to not ruin it for everyone. Job well done, Erin. (Insert proverbial pat on the back here.) Only…they didn’t need me. They didn’t need me. Oh, man, how I want to stop typing right now. I wish God would release me from writing this so badly. At least there’s a cover over my keyboard to keep tears from seeping within the keys, right? (humorless laugh…again)

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I’m not sure there’s anything more hurtful in the world to a person than to feel as if they’re obsolete. Let’s maintain perspective though. My flesh would tell me – and maybe you, today – that those around us don’t love us, don’t like us, whatever. John 8:44 tells us about satan, though. It says that “…there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

 

 The Word also tells us in John 10:10 that satan comes to “steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” So, allow me to remind myself – and you – that this is a lie (the lie that I am worthless) perpetuated by the devil to cripple me so that I would not be about God’s business but instead be balled up in the fetal position in bed – actually creating a self-fulfilling prophecy by being useless to everyone.

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So, how do I battle rather than buckle? I do what I’m doing now – I write. I delve into God’s Word to find the truth and I share it with others so that when they are experiencing this, not only am I ticking off satan for failing – yet again – at knocking me down for good, but I’m picking up those that he nudged and caused to stumble. You see, what good is me feeling like this for even a moment if I don’t allow God to make use of it? Satan throws a grenade at me and I may have ignorantly caught it; but, I hand it over to God, allow him to transform it into an atom bomb and I drop that bad boy into the lies and spirit of depression that he’s flung on the men and women around me and I let that puppy blow his “well laid” plans to smithereens.

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So, here’s what I want you to do: I want you to print the following image out. I want you to fold it up and put it in your pocket, put it in your purse, hang it on your fridge, pin it up in your office…AND READ IT. Read it every single freakin’ day if you have to. Read it, memorize it, learn it, love it, and live it.

PRINT THIS:

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Anxiety, Bible, Depression, family, Marriage, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Suicide, Uncategorized

Christian Counseling?

Recently I had the opportunity to listen to a Christian counselor out of California. I cannot tell you how as a Christian who battles with depression and anxiety how valuable it is to find a counselor that believes in God and the power of His Word. At times, it can be like finding a needle in a haystack. That is one of the greatest benefits of the Internet, now. We have access to things, information, and people that we may not otherwise have access to. This is especially important when you live in a remote area. I can tell you, though, that even living in a more metropolitan area it is still not as easy as one would think to find a believer that is a counselor.

If you’re asking yourself, “Is therapy really a Godly approach?” Remember that John 14:26 refers to the Holy Spirit as a Counselor. Also, thought the Bible we are told to seek, listen, and receive counsel!

This can be a pretty large roadblock for someone who needs counseling or merely someone to listen to them. I know from experience that when you’re a believer and you are seeking counsel or therapy from someone who is either atheist or agnostic – or maybe simply doesn’t feel comfortable to speak of their own spiritual beliefs – this can be very frustrating when you’re trying to convey how you seek answers, provision, and a relationship with God, the Father.  


Having a counselor, therapist, or physician that understands your believe system, your core values, your identity… because you both follow the one true God, makes your sessions so much more fruitful. For instance, the Bible is our answer book. So, when your counselor knows a verse… when he or she has spent time in prayer and meditating on the word, he or she can share the very words that you needed to hear. That is an extension of God. That is your counselor being the hands and feet of God in a time when you may be weak.


If you’re asking yourself if therapy or counseling is something that you may or may not need, I would remind you of ‭‭Exodus‬ ‭17:12 where it says…

“But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.”‬

You see, as long as Moses’s hands were up they would prevail in battle. Yet, he was exhausted. Even still, God provided Moses with Aaron and Hur to hold him up. Everyone, even Moses, needs someone to hold them up now and again. If you’ll recall, even Christ at the end had someone else carry his cross to the very end for Him.


I encourage you to check out Finally Alive Counseling Ministry. They have a Facebook page you can follow and Twitter. They also have a YouTube channel for you video lovers.


Recently, I listened to their radio broadcast and I was thoroughly encouraged by how much scripture Gary used. So often we look to man for answers because it’s someone who’s tangible, right in front of us. We seek affirmation and validation when really we need to be seeking the answers – whether those answers come with tough decisions and actual participation on our part or not. Gary approaches life and struggles from a biblical standpoint – a thing of which is greatly lacking in this world.

Gary does radio broadcasts and postings. And, if you’re in the Brea, California area, he has Bible studies you can attend. 

Lastly, I would remind you that even if you think you don’t need therapy or counseling, the Bible instructs us to think on good things. The Bible desires for us to seek encouragement and fulfillment through God’s word. You can easily do that by simply turning on one of Gary’s broadcasts and listening to it. It’s a very easy way to refill your vessel with encouragement from God’s word. 

Comment below with what your thoughts on internet access to a Christian counselor are!

Anxiety, Bible, Depression, family, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Suicide, Uncategorized

Battle Depression& Anxiety, Don’t Suffer Them

After a lot of confusion, drama, fear, horrible decisions, and finally a complete and total breakdown that left me in the fetal position in my bathtub, at the age of 16, I begged my mother to “please just fix me.”

She took me to our family doctor of whom we’d known my whole life, who diagnosed me with severe depression. Therapy was suggested, appointments made, and Prozac prescribed and administered. By the time I was 21, mostly because of life and things outside of my control, I was then additionally diagnosed with anxiety and mild obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The OCD mostly resolved itself after a time and rarely springs up, now. The depression and anxiety are still a battle but one I will never give up the fight against. 

Understand that for the sake of this post appealing to those who haven’t the time to read for hours I’m giving The Cliff Notes version, here. To say that there was a lot that brought me to these diagnoses would be the understatement of the century.

The day I decided I would not give up the fight was a pivotal and very real moment in time that will forever be etched in my soul. 

A lot of incidents led up to this particular day and to make a very long story short I was having suicidal thoughts. When you’re to that point, satan has deluded you into believing that the world would actually be better off without you, even your kids. It’s not unheard of to truly believe you’re doing everyone a favor. That’s where I was…even with the Prozac. I went to church as I did at least three times a week, every week. Trust me… no one knew what was going on inside of me. There are people right now reading this saying, “Holy crap. I had no idea and she sat next to me in choir.” I digress. There was a visiting pastor. I don’t even remember what he preached on. I was told he had preached on some message that easily applied to the body as a whole on how we treated one another. I was borderline catatonic in my own world of shame, pain, and misery that I could barely pay attention. All I remember was this – the most important part of this story: he invited people to the alter. My God! When you’ve done everything…you’ll do anything. Keep in mind that at this point I truly believed that even God looked down on me as if to say, “I can’t believe I took the time to make you.” The lies that satan will tell and the extent at which he’ll go to knows no bounds. He is the master of lies and he had found his foothold. So…for me to go to the alter was really an act of “What the heck…” I didn’t go believing ANYTHING was going to happen. I just went. And…something happened. Something that can’t be explained. To be honest, I don’t care if you believe me or not. It is what it is and it’s why I’m here today and why I’ll never consider suicide EVER again. I want to preface what I’m about to say by saying this: NO ONE but me and one other person knew that I was having these thoughts. And…trust me, this other person wasn’t a talker. This preacher made his way to me. He was very quiet for just a moment as he looked at me and then he prayed for me and it was over in a moment. It was only afterward that I realized that in that still quiet moment, the Holy Spirit was speaking to him. In front of the only other person in the world that knew what was going on with me, this preacher laid his hand on my head and said the following (I paraphrase), “God this is your child and you love her and I rebuke any and every single thought of suicide that would ever enter her mind. She is a child of the Most High and has a great purpose. The devil can’t have her because she’s already been claimed by You!” That was it for me.

That was it.

All I needed, all I need, is to know that God is in it with me. That He sees me. And, after that day…that knowledge was given to me when I needed it most. 

But I was too sick to see at the time, to inundated with everything else going on around me, too blind to see… Was that so many of His answers, the answers, and encouragement were already in His word waiting for me to find them. 

At that time, I was to sick to wait patiently but now I know that His word promises…

I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth— Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, And will trust in the LORD. Psalms‬ ‭40:1-3‬ 

I had no idea that Psalms 40:1-3 would soon be my testimony. It proved to me that just as God showed up for the psalmist, He showed up for me. I matter to God and so do you.

In times of anxiety, I would encourage you to meditate on this:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God ‭and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬

In other words, take your burdens immediately to God. Don’t hesitate. Don’t run to your friends. Run to God. And if you find yourself worrying over those things again, give them back to God again! No matter how many times you pick back up your burdens, God will never get tired of you bringing them back to Him.


Now, this Word is a two parter. 

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Philippians‬ ‭4:8

Do not – I REPEAT – do not sit around and watch the news, read the news, look at your Facebook newsfeed, Twitter feed, what have you and allow it to steal your joy. It is so unbelievably easy for you to get mired down in the direction you see this world going into. It’s so easy to get pessimistic and morose over the very real atrocities that are happening in this world. Two of the greatest differences between now and many years ago are that 1) we have access to far more information and current events around the entire planet then we ever had before; and 2) information has led us to believe we merely need our “Tower of Babel” and no longer need God. This is why it’s IMPERATIVE that you think on “whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy.” 


The second part of that commission is…

“The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians‬ ‭4:9

We are to be active participants in our lives. Remember where in the Bible it tells us about how if we want friends we need to be friendly, if we want love we need to give love, etc.? That rule applies here. These things that God has taught us that are right, that are noble, that are good…these things that we know Christ did, God’s men and women did…we need to go do them. 


It’s amazing how going and doing for others – especially when you don’t feel like it – can change you and bring you peace. 

So, today change your mind. Decide to fight. Clearly satan feels threatened by you or he wouldn’t come at you with a full frontal assault. Right? So…prove him right. Prove that he should feel threatened by you. 

One step at a time. It may just be putting on clothes and getting out of your pajamas today. But, tomorrow, fix your hair. The next day, leave your house. The next day, go to someone else’s house. Every day take one step more. Every day delve into God’s word and spend time in prayer seeking his purpose for your life. Because clearly, as I said earlier, He has a purpose for you. After all, satan finds you threatening! 

You have a purpose. For me, it’s being my husband’s “right-hand man;” it’s being a strong mother to two very strong offspring; it’s writing and teaching. Many days I still feel like a square peg trying to fit in around hole. But, after God took His time throughout all the universe to let me know that He loves me and loves all of you, I’ll never give up the fight no matter what. Why would I ever give up when I know I’m on the winning side – the side of God who shows up and proves that there are no other gods before Him? 

Comment below with some of the things you meditate on!