Thursday, October 6, 2016
Every night I pray with my kids before bed. I started doing this about two years ago when my oldest started having trouble sleeping at night. My oldest worries a lot and so praying before bedtime helps calm his fears. It's now a habit in our household and the kids do not go to sleep without praying first. Our daughter has a different bedtime and room so her prayer time is just for her. When I began the prayer routine with her I would always thank God for my sweet little Hadlee. A few months ago she asked if she could pray first. My heart just about bursted open " yes, sweet heart I think you praying first is a great idea". So she began, "Dear God, thank you for me and thank you for saving the day"! ( We watch a lot of super hero cartoons in our house with two boys) I kissed her on the forehead and told her great job sweetie. So every night from then on she thanks God for herself and for saving the day. I laughed at her innocence and didn't think anything of it until God pointed it out very clearly that He does save the day, everyday, wether I thank Him for it or not. It's funny how my three year old gets it, my 10 year old and 7 year old get it, but I can't seem to grasp it. I need God everyday to save my day and to thank Him for it before I can close my eyes at night. I love how my daughter put God and saving the day together. When you watch super hero cartoons the good guys are always saving the day. Funny to compare spiritual warfare to super heroes but it's the same idea. See, everyday there are invisible battles going on around us that we are unaware of most of the time. I do believe the closer you walk with the Lord the more aware you are of what's taking place around you. So God is literally saving the day in ways I can't even imagine and fathom. The battles that I do see are As I write this I am surrounded by bills, plans for a women's dinner and a grocery list for next week. I stress over ever detail that is out of place daily. God is ready to save my day. He is ready to take the burden of finances away, the burden of expectations and planning off my shoulders and to show me the joy in getting to buy groceries to feed my family because of so many who do not have that opportunity. It's so easy to become overwhelmed with the busyness of each day. As a mom of three I can always find something that needs to be cleaned or picked up, an errand that needs to be accomplished or bills that need to be paid. The hectic life becomes the "normal" and I quickly forget who is in charge and has the real plans for the day. And that's a scary place to be if you ask me. What's the point of the crazy hectic day if God's not included? If all I had in my life was the "normal" routine day in and day out I would lose my mind. I am not kidding. Here's the truth. I am a pastor's wife and so I feel like people may see that the things I "do" only happen because I'm married to a preacher. It can be seen as my job to attend church, sing special music, write a blog, teach Sunday school, read my bible or Christian books. So I want to be very blunt, I do none of those things because I am a preacher's wife! I am a child of God! I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior when I was nine and have never once regretted it or doubted my decision. I love God! I love God more than anything or anyone else. Jesus is my Savior, I am in awe and overwhelmed by His love for me therefore I attend church to learn more about Him and to worship Him with other believers, I sing because it's one of the ways I can worship Him, I write a blog to talk about Jesus and what He is doing in my life in hopes that some one else will want what I have in Him. I teach because I believe that is one of my spiritual gifts and honestly when you love someone why would you not want to teach someone else about them. I read God's Word because it is food for my soul, it strengthens me on the hard days, gives me hope in the dark moments and guides me on how to love my husband and kids. I read all the time because I like too! It's that simple and I don't want to fill my mind with anything that doesn't bring praise and honor to God so I read Christain books. I am a sinner saved by Grace and I am so grateful for my relationship with Jesus. I guess what I'm saying is God saves my day...everyday!
Thursday, August 11, 2016
When Robert and I first got married he was a youth pastor. We loved doing youth ministry. Ministry was very new to me but I enjoyed all the new challenges that came my way. One of the challenges I faced was becoming a Sunday school and bible study teacher in the youth department. I was not use to being a leader and teacher coming right out of college. I was very intimidated and took teaching very seriously. One night I was asking God to show me a verse that the girls could learn to help them durning a difficult time. God took me to the book of Habbakuk. I smile thinking about it because I didn't even know that book existed, and I remember having to ask Robert how to pronounce it several times. Reading through the book it wasn't until the very end that God said "Remember this". I honestly didn't understand why I needed to remember Habakkuk 3:17-19.
"Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor the fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord,is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places."
I was a little confused because although we didn't have much we weren't going through a hard time. Every time I would read that verse I remembered how God wanted me to always remember it. I even taught on this verse a few times during the last few years. I would always get excited when I read "yet I will rejoice in the Lord". I thought for sure if something really bad ever happens to me I will rejoice in the Lord too. Man was I clueless!
This is where the story becomes very personal. I didn't want to ever talk about my "dark season". I mean we are suppose to be authentic and personal but that's a little too personal for my comfort. And I'm a pastor's wife so I am pretty sure I am not suppose to struggle, right?! Sorry to burst anyone's bubble but I am only human. I have no special spiritual powers and I am not immuned from tragedy and bad days. I can't explain how the depression started but it happened very quickly. Depression is like wearing a coat of darkness, except you can't take it off. For 10 months I couldn't find any joy in my life. There was no peace, in fact my anxiety got so bad I started taking medication so I could at least sleep at night. If you have never suffered with depression it's hard to understand the thoughts of someone going through it. I tried to fight the darkness. I would read scripture, Christian books, went to a Christian counselor, wrote in journals (which were destroyed, the darkness brought out too many evil thoughts). I can't say that those things didn't help, even though at the time they all felt useless. I see now how each thing I did helped me take a step toward recovery. Funny how in the moment you can't see how God is with you and you definitely can't imagine God moving in your life-but He was! I can look back now and see how God was with me every time I sat in that chair and cried and wept for my life to change. That chair was the place where I would sit in the darkness and moan for understanding. If you look closely at my chair you can see how the "leather" (don't judge my fake chair) is pealing off. It's because I sat for hours in that chair everyday not wanting to do anything but cry. I didn't want to be a daughter, a sister, a friend, a wife or a mother. I definitely didn't want to be a pastor's wife and try to smile at church every Sunday and act "normal". It was very scary. My thoughts were so negative and hateful (which is a testament of how forgiving my husband has had to be). This chair use to represent the dark hole I was living in at the moment. Those 10 months seemed to last forever. I can honestly say that was the hardest time I have ever endured in my life. It was life changing for me.
If you don't tell your story how will God receive the Glory. This has been running through my head for months now. I want everyone to know that the chair I use to sit and bawl my eyes out of misery is now the chair that I sit in and bawl my eyes out because of God's unfailing love for me. I wasn't sure if I wanted to keep the chair at first. It was a harsh reminder of the dark season. But now I am so thankful for everything God has shown me that I don't think I will ever be able to get rid of it. Jesus saved me from an eternity without God (that's Hell) and saved me from the darkness of depression. I am so grateful to talk to my Savior and read His Word. I am grateful He talks to me because for 10 months I could hear nothing. I had forgotten how special my relationship with Christ really is and how I need Him every minute, every hour of every day. Did I lose Jesus for 10 months? NO of course not but my thoughts and feelings were so strong and overwhelming that I couldn't see or feel Him at the moment. When the darkness began to lift a little everyday it was like being given a second chance at life. I can't explain it and I think everyone experiences different situations in life according to how God wants to speak to them. God wanted my attention but I had become to hard hearted in my walk with Him that I wasn't listening.
Let me explain. Some where in the 13 years of ministry I stopped repenting and became self righteous. I would read God's Word and teach all the time and in doing so became very prideful of my biblical knowledge (and funny thing is not that much knowledge was abtained). But I convinced myself that my little sins (gossip, pride, lying) were all ok compared to other's sins. I became numb to conviction. I became numb to things and events that should have broken my heart for Jesus. The sin in my life hardened my heart but I was so arrogant I just counted it as spiritual maturity. I'm not proud of this at all. I honestly can't believe I lived this way as long as I did. So in order for me to really listen to God I needed to be in a place of totally depravity. Depression brought me to that place very quickly. During the darkness God revealed my sins to me. It was a lot to take in at one time. It brought me to my knees and left me broken. Which is what I needed. Brokenness helped me repent and broke down the walls that had left my heart so hard. Can I just say how much I missed being brought to tears. I am so excited when I cry during my prayers, reading God's Word and during worship. And I'm not saying you have to have tears to make a difference. What I am saying is my heart is now tender to God speaking to me and I haven't felt that in a long time. I also have conviction for my sins and boy I am I glad to feel that again. It's a scary thing to not ever feel the wrongness of sin, because with out the conviction there is no gratefulness for the forgiveness and salvation. Life changing events took place in that chair. I now know why God wanted me to remember Habakkuk 3:17-19. Some things need to be personable. These two verses are very real to me now. And I will rejoice in the Lord!