Thursday, October 18, 2007

How Far He's Brought Me

You know, when I look back over my blogs, one thing that strikes me is how overwhelmingly positive they are...Looking to Jesus...

This really significant to me because some years back I suffered through a clinical depression. If you're not familiar with this (and I hope you aren't) this is a period of serious depression (not just the blues) that lasts for 6 months or more. In my case, I began to heal at somewhere between 12 and 18 months. When you are depressed like this, you really cannot see the good, 'bright' and lovely things of life.

This period was a dark, terrible time in my life unlike any other. I ached physically, spiritually, and emotionally. I couldn't understand what was happening to me, and I didn't know how to 'get out of it.' I became such a different person from the person I had always been: from optimistic to complete pessimism; from self-reliant (in a healthy way) to helpless; from happy to desperate; from open to closed. I wouldn't know what had happened to me or have a descriptor (depression) for it until 3-4 years after it was all over. Having no words for it meant I couldn't even tell anyone. All I knew was that I wanted and needed OUT!

And when I say that, know that all options were on the table. Had I not had confidence that God knew what was going on and was still at work in this crazy world and life of mine, I promise you that I would not be here today. Because I had this confidence, suicide was never a serious option, but it did cross my mind. I just could not see the light at the end of this tunnel. It felt more like a cave in which I was lost, traveling ever deeper into the earth, and the voice in my head just kept saying, "Quit."

Since I pulled away from almost everyone during this time, almost no one knows how bleak my life was. Looking back, I can see classic triggers (onset of severe, undiagnosable physical pain, job loss, financial trouble) and classic symptoms (withdrawal from people, complete lack of motivation such that even dressing was a challenge, long periods of weeping though I couldn't have told you what was wrong). And classic responses--being so far away, my family didn't understand what was happening (who would guess depression?!), and this caused conflict between us. It was a truly dreadful time. I often prayed from Psalm 13:

How long, O LORD ? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death...

Now on the other side of this trial, I can understand all kinds of things about it:
· I was correct; God had not abandoned me.
· This was a very real spiritual battle, one that I was crazily losing for a long time.
· There was sin in my life that God was ferreting out.
· There were very hard lessons that I had to know that could only be taught through just such an experience.
· That a real friend is one who will tolerate you when you are in such a terrible shape.
· That healing can take a long time, but it does happen.
· What real compassion looks like, both to me and from me.

I share all this to say, that seven to eight years later I am so grateful that God has restored to me a heart that can see and appreciate what He has given and done. In some ways, I'm even better able to see... And so I know, even more than ever, that He is lovely and worthy and all.

Psalm 116 (My Testimony)
I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the LORD : "O LORD, save me!"

The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The LORD protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me.

Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you. For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living.

I believed; therefore I said, "I am greatly afflicted." And in my dismay I said, "All men are liars."

How can I repay the LORD for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD. I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people. Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.

LORD, truly I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant; you have freed me from my chains. I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the LORD. I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people,
in the courts of the house of the LORD—in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the LORD.

In praise of His Name,

(c) 2007


Here's something amazing: The work of the Spirit in our lives. How He changes us, sometimes it is dramatic, earthshattering, and sometimes, it is quiet and seemingly out of nothing at all except the goodness of Himself. I love that sometimes I seem to just wake up and be changed. It may well be a culmination, but nonetheless, in that moment I am just so amazed that He can and would change my heart.

And I'm so grateful...


(c) 2007

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Homegoing, Homecoming

The gray, Texas morning melted from mist into rainfall just as the pastor began to eulogize the man. As he shared about the man's life, his love for his family, and his faithful service to his Savior, the rain accompanied with a steady percussion, the only noise from the crowd the snap of opening umbrellas. In the distance, a car alarm sounded, a dog barked; but here in this grassy place, silence was the contribution of the people.

His life had been long, healthy, joy-filled. His love for Christ was constantly evident. He asked most everyone he met, "If you died tonight, would you go to heaven?" Many learned from him to answer with confidence. Yet the respectful silence of the crowd was only followed by gentle murmurs of loss, of comfort. No wailing nor undue outburst were shared, though gentle songs were. Here in this gray, quiet place, people shared a farewell.

But on the other side, perhaps it was not so gray and still. Perhaps a welcome home party was being thrown, with rainbows of colors and people of all varieties, with important dignitaries and loud declarations of, "Well done, my good and faithful son!" In this other place, where sorrows seem a dream and pain a memory, a renewed man lays low before his Savior's feet, understanding completely for the very first time exactly what all the sacrifices and sorrows were worth.

As gentle good-byes are given on earth, heaven celebrates the reception of a son, a prince, a brother. What we phrase as 'homegoings' here are really 'homecomings' there, with all the pomp and glory and thrill we remember from younger days, multiplied. Two sides of the same coin, only one tainted by sin.

As I stood in the grass sheltered by an umbrella, I considered homegoings and homecomings. And it seemed to me that He really does bring beauty from ashes. And so even now, this work of the Anointed One makes lovely this corrupted side of the coin, even as He did a cross. How much more is yet to come? How much more lovely will He be revealed to be?

How sweet the gift of being grafted in. How unfathomable His ways...


(c) 2007

Isaiah 61
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor

and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—

to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.
4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins

and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
5 Aliens will shepherd your flocks;

foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
6 And you will be called priests of the LORD,

you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
and in their riches you will boast.
7 Instead of their shame

my people will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
they will rejoice in their inheritance;
and so they will inherit a double portion in their land,
and everlasting joy will be theirs.
8 "For I, the LORD, love justice;

I hate robbery and iniquity.
In my faithfulness I will reward them
and make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 Their descendants will be known among the nations

and their offspring among the peoples.
All who see them will acknowledge
that they are a people the LORD has blessed."
10 I delight greatly in the LORD;

my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up

and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise
spring up before all nations.

Just for Fun - Scattergories!

Stolen from a sister's blog:'s harder than it looks!
*Use the 1st letter of your name to answer each of the following... they have to be real places, names, things...nothing made up! Try to use different answers if the person in front of you had the same 1st initial. You CAN'T use your name for the boy/girl name question .

· What is your name? -- J
· 4 letter word -- Junk
· Vehicle: Jaguar
· Boy Name: Jonathan
· Girl Name: Janna
· Occupation: Judge
· Something you wear -- Jewelry!
· Celebrity -- Jennifer Lopez
· Reason for Being Late -- "Just a few more minutes..."
· Food -- Japanese
· Something found in a bathroom -- Jets
· Cartoon Character -- Jerry (as in, Tom and)
· Something You Shout -- Joy!


Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Fall in the South

Here's something I really like about living in the Southeast: It's October, and there are still trees and plants in flower (not just bloom--lovely, vibrant colors!). The temperature is low 80s in the day, 50s at night.

You gotta love this!


(c) 2007