Elbow In the side
If for some very odd reason you lurked under the table while we were eating, you may have witnessed me giving my husband a gentle kick for one reason or another... the great thing is that "he knows" what each undercover kick, elbow in the side, or gentle hand squeeze means from me. He speaks my language and reads me pretty well.
Most of the time it means change the subject or it's time to go! There is a message in the contact.
Today as I read His Word and prayed, God showed me some changes I need to make in my life. They are changes that will bring me closer to Him, changes that will help me love others well and ultimately bring glory to God.
I count on my morning routine to get me going, focused and hopefully off to a healthy start. I wake early, walk outside, go the the gym, make my coffee and then sit down to study God's Word, pray and ponder. I love and desperately NEED my quiet time with the Lord. Some of the other things may fall to the side (well, NOT the coffee) but my days often look very different when I haven't prayed and remembered His Word.
I find a place in my house where I am as alone as I can be. If you saw my setup, you would know there isn't much of a space for that, but I do my best. Today as the temperature was only 94° at the crack of dawn (thank you Phoenix) I was able to sit outside away from it all or so I thought.
Yep, you guessed it... another interruption. I found myself irritated and frustrated that there is no where I can go in my home where I can be uninterrupted. Then it hit me. This was my cry to God and this is what I wrote in my prayer journal. "Lord, Help me to not take interruptions as invasions. Walk with me, nudge me, ELBOW ME IN THE SIDE when I act a fool!"
I NEED God to elbow me in the side to remind me to act right. I need his discipline to lead my heart to be more like His. I NEED God, because on my own my heart struggles to love the way it should. I NEED GOD!
Today I prayed for God to do for me what I invite myself to do to my husband. Only difference is the nudges from God are given for my good. The nudges I want to give others don't always stem from a spirit of love, but rather control or judgment.
May God's kindness continue to lead us to repentance. And sometimes His kindness to me looks like a swift kick under the table. Thank you Lord!
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” - Joshua 1:9
As I read my devotion today which was based off of this verse and the preceding verses of Joshua 1:6-9, I was instantly encouraged and also reminded of a situation that happened just two days prior.
I love where I live. It is very different from where I grew up. I was a suburb gal and now I live in the city. It has a different feel and I like it. I adore my neighbors, some of whom have been here for over 50 years and have seen all the changes that time has brought. I get to hear the stories they tell of the people that have come and gone and the families that lived where I now reside.
I appreciate that we don't have an HOA. I accept that some people keep up their property differently than we do and I love the diversity of our area. We see struggles in our community, but we also see hope. A few years ago, we contemplated moving to a "nicer" part of town, something newer, but my husband and I made a conscious decision to stay where we are and be a part of the positive growth in our area.
Since we moved here 12 years ago, we have seen the effects of homelessness on a daily basis, but recently, I have been overwhelmed at the level that it's increased since the lockdowns in our country were issued. Places where there were always homeless individuals are now ravaged by an increase of people outside their establishments openly doing drugs, sleeping, leaving trash and setting up residence. The care for the mentally ill, addicted, and hurting is out of control or non existent. For that I don't have an answer.
Two days ago, as the weather became amazingly beautiful in Phoenix, AZ, I got back on my bike to run my errands that I used to save until my husband was home with the car. For this particular errand, it's about 6 mile loop. So off I went.
As I rode my bicycle under the highway underpass, I had to g0 very slow, almost walking my bike because of the amount of people camped out, passed out, actively doing meth and smoking pipes. I'm not a skittish person, so I'm typically not fearful going under highway passes surrounded by drug users. The biggest emotion I felt was shock (since, in the past, I rode here frequently and never had the pathway blocked) and sadness for those hurting.
On my way home I went through a different underpass a mile south. As I approached there was just one man picking through "stuff." He appeared to be a bit out of it, not completely aware of his surroundings. Again, I was not fearful. But as I got closer. I slowed down, he stood straight up and looked at me, almost challenging me to come through. I thought to myself, "But, God, I am not afraid" and then in an instant I felt the Spirit whispering to me "Go around." And so I did.
Being strong and courageous, not being frightened or dismayed, doesn't always mean going through, sometimes God is asking us to obey His instructions in spite of what we want to do and go around. It's being wise and yep, not being stupid.
Courage doesn't always look the way we think. Courage looks like what God thinks and what He is asking us to do. Our job is to listen and obey KNOWING that God is with us wherever we go. Because, friends, life is just one big underpass filled with messy people. Sometimes we go through, sometimes we go around, but there is always something and someone no matter which way He calls us.
If you think about it, pray for my community, pray for the hurting, the ill, the addicted. May I continue to step in where God calls me and love those I cross paths with.
Recently, the pain in my back became too much to push through. I couldn't figure out how to manage it on my own, so I went for help. I would say my biggest inspiration and motivation for seeking help was my new grandson, Gabriel. I love hugging, kissing and nibbling on his toes. I love to hold him and rock him. However, Gabe likes it when you stand and hold him or walk with him. When I would do this, I found the pain in my lower back to be too much. Even sitting was becoming difficult, so in order to be a Grandma on the go, I went to the chiropractor.
The x-rays showed several issues and we so began treatment. Within a week of treatment, I could sit longer, stand longer and I was not in 24/7 pain. And guess what? As an added bonus I have not had a single hot flash in a month! Little did I know that chiropractic work helped with my menopause issues as well.
But then there were days that things would flare or get worse. It was part of the process on the road to recovery. I was given information on retracing and our body's 4 responses to care.
I had to ask myself, "was she giving this information to me only for my back or did she know that my emotional and mental well being were also struggling and in need of an adjustment and healing?"
There I was and I had a choice to make. Would I:
1. Quit and the "damage never heals & symptoms return" and end up in the same place I started.. in pain.
2. Get care and "feel better right away and heal with a few flare ups" to arrive in a healthy place.
3. Get care and feel "the same and gradually get better" to arrive in a healthy place
4. Get care and "feel worse at first and gradually get better" to arrive in a healthy place
These four responses to chiropractic care seem very similar to my mental health care responses as well. I am seriously asking myself. Do I even want to heal? But more precisely, Do I want to go through the pain it takes to heal. Healing hurts. Remembering and having to deal with the past is painful, especially since I thought I was past all of that. Until recently, I didn't even realize that I was still holding on to bitterness from my past. Mostly because I simply wasn't forced to face it.
God sees my hurt and he sees my hesitation.
But I want to face it. I want to heal, even if it's difficult.
Most days are a battle. God is Good. God is good. God is good!
Time To Get Up!
Today, of all days, I needed this! Sometimes the truth hurts, but I love that Jesus does not shy away from speaking to my heart so that I can be more like Him. When I opened my daily devotion and saw the verse from Matthew 12:28 which said "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest", I knew the Lord was talking to me. Anyone else?
But I immediately said, "Lord there is no labor here. I am not working, but I sure to feel heavy laden, so I'm going to come to you." I want to, as the verse goes on to say, take His yoke and learn from Him.
I know that as I learn more deeply to love the way Jesus loves, to serve the way Jesus does, that it is there and then that I will find rest, not for my body, I have enough of that, but rest for my soul. That's what I need. That has been my cry.
As I pressed into this truth and read the devotion from June 11th "My utmost For His Highest" it all made sense.
“…and I will give you rest”— that is, “I will sustain you, causing you to stand firm.” He is not saying, “I will put you to bed, hold your hand, and sing you to sleep.” But, in essence, He is saying, “I will get you out of bed— out of your listlessness and exhaustion, and out of your condition of being half dead while you are still alive. I will penetrate you with the spirit of life, and you will be sustained by the perfection of vital activity.” - Oswald Chambers
My soul is restless, because I have settled into being listless. I have slowly allowed being unable to do my "job" send me into a place of feeling grounded from taking on the yoke of Jesus, learning from him and then going out and doing what He does.
Today is a pivot. Today is a turning point. Today is the beginning of Jesus once again getting me out of bed, out of my listlessness and the exhausted state of my soul, acting like I am half dead and calling me to recognize the life giving vital activity He has for me.
Will it be easy? Probably not. Will I be tempted to crawl back under the covers of my depression? Probably so. Being depressed does not disqualify one from doing what God calls us to do. I will, however, wake up each day asking Jesus to let me learn by taking on His Yoke! That, I can do!
Thank you Lord for the perfect rest that you offer as we come to you.
Friends, do you need to take on His yoke and learn? Do you feel listless, tired and heavy laden? Jesus offers to all of us the remedy. The remedy is Him, one day, one moment, one breath at a time, yoked to Him. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!
Mental Illness Looks Like Me
Yesterday, my friend posted a picture of well know people who battled mental illness/depression/suicide to show what the face of mental illness looks like. They were happy and they smiled. In my comments I added “and it looks like this... it was a picture of me, smiling.
I have never hid the fact that I suffer from depression or that I have been diagnosed bi-polar. I have struggled and although God has given me amazing skills to cope and the medication when I needed it to help me out of the darkness, I still have days that are dark. In light of that, I share these thoughts.
I went to a memorial service today at a large church for my dear friend’s son. There were about 1500 in the main sanctuary. Every seat was filled and there were 3 overflow rooms, filled with people.
We worshipped together, we prayed together, we sang together. The Pastor preached and the worship team led actual people, not just a camera. The gospel was presented and lives were changed even through the sadness of the day. The Kingdom of heaven was expanded.
This was my first time in church since the world went on lock-down.
In all honesty, what I realized through the tears of mourning and celebrating this young man's life, this loss which brought so many together is this: I was getting comfortable not going to church. I started to not even really care if we didn’t meet on Sundays. I mean, I’m in the Bible EVERY day on my own. I spend time in prayer on my own. I commune with God. I worship, I sing, I dance on my own. I listen to God and hear His voice.
But, today as I stood among 1500+ people on that campus hugging, being near and mourning together, I was reminded that I, that WE, need to be back in church. We need to open the doors wide open.
There is too much going on in the world for us to all stay away from each other any longer. Today, my son, Pedro, was attacked because of this racial anger and outrage going on around the nation. It’s spilling over from the public riots and getting closer to home. People are angry, feeling unheard, alone and without accountability.
So as I think about my son and what he’s going through and the fact that tomorrow, Sunday, he can’t be with his church family after this traumatic experience, it makes me see the need more and more that people need to be with people. We need to open the doors.
I think about last week when my sister from Chicago stayed on the phone with me as I cried uncontrollably for 20+ minutes as I was once again suicidal, deep in the darkness of depression. I was suicidal and alone.
I made it out. But how many people who have less support and how many people that don’t have a husband that will pray over her, a sister who will battle the spiritual realm on her behalf, how many of those battling mental and emotional issues don’t make it out and end up ending their life. I am alive. But others are not gonna be as fortunate. We need to open the doors to a space where we can all be together. I don’t care if it’s a church or a field or by the side of the sea, let's just open the doors like they did today. Because today, heaven received new believers because a church dared to open the doors.
I truly believe that not only will heaven’s numbers increase, but I truly believe that lives will be saved. #FellowshipOfBelievers #MentaILLNESSLooksLikeMe #Depression #Suicide
A collection of writings from a life based on the truth that about midnight anything can happen.
As an imperfect servant of the Lord, I often feel I am fumbling my way through life, looking upward for guidance and outward to love. So, I write about it, to break up the noise in my head.