Joanna…even leaders need healing…

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“Soon afterwards, He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means.” Luke 8:1-3

You don’t hear much about Joanna from the Bible. The scripture above is one of two that mention her. But today her name caught my eye and I longed to know who she was.

A leader. That’s the first thing I concluded. She was married to Chuza who was an assistant to Herod Antipas, the king who had John the Baptist beheaded. He was not a fan of Jesus. But Joanna was.

What makes a leader like this? How does a woman muster the courage to follow Jesus despite the fact her husband worked for a king that could easily have her beheaded? Her life was on the line and yet she chose to follow Jesus, no matter what the cost.

Another thing I noticed – she was healed. It doesn’t say what Jesus healed her of…but whatever it was, Jesus came in and her life was never the same. The healing must have been so great and with such magnitude that it didn’t matter what happened in the rest of her life as long as she was chasing after Jesus.

So here’s the thing. Joanna, this amazing beautiful leader, with a husband who was equally as famed and respected – needed healing. It’s easy to get caught up in the lie that leaders shouldn’t need help or healing. That if we just love God enough it should take away all of our pain and we should never have problems that require anything even remotely resembling healing.

But Joanna, like many of us, required healing.

Maybe you, like me, have fallen under the misguided perception that once we accept Jesus that is all the healing we ever need. Well, when it comes to forgiveness of sins, absolutely, it was taken care of once and for all on the cross. That’s the biggest healing! But Jesus wants us to benefit even more. In our relationship with Him we can continue to receive healing in area after area after area, but we have to follow Him and seek Him to receive it. That’s what Joanna did, after her initial healing, she continued to faithfully follow and serve Jesus.

And as much as I would like for Jesus to provide me complete emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental healing all in one gigantic swoop – I must admit – there is so much joy I find running after Him – I don’t know that I would want Him to. I want Him to get inside my heart and mind and transform me. I want others to watch Him do it so they too might realize that life with Jesus is amazing, always changing, exciting, and the greatest adventure anyone could ever find this side of heaven.

Joanna taught me a lot today, or I guess I should say God’s living and active Word empowered by the Holy Spirit taught me a lot.

Even leaders need healing. Healing is a process. It’s only made complete in the pursuit for more – even if the desire to pursue is brought about by yet another massive need for healing.

My life sentence…

 

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If anyone was just going to have a single bout of depression, it would be me. I was sure of it. God delivered me never to go back again, right?

 

I’m realizing this wasn’t totally realistic thinking. Not that God couldn’t do this, because he could. But I have to acknowledge this side of heaven I still live in this body that at times is going to get a little seratonin starved. I have come to accept that this is okay. I don’t have to be afraid.

Sounds weird but I am so honestly thankful for this most recent wrestle with sadness. It couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m working on a book with a few friends for teens struggling with depression and the perpective I am getting is priceless. So here is my conclusion – this battle is a priceless gift.

What Satan meant for harm, God is using for good – for reals ya’ll! I know not everyone has the gift of positive surroundings like I do. I’m surrounded by Jesus loving friends and family who are holding me far above the pit I sank in previously. I don’t have to worry about sinking because even if I do God’s hand is never ever going to let go – I know this now. And because I know this my heart is on a fire mission to let others fighting with depression know that depression is not a death sentence. Rather it’s a life sentence to live a life constantly seeking the positive and running after the Glory of God. Only the hungry have the desire to eat and this battle with sadness and anxiety has given me a ravenous desire for His Word. My depraved body is in laying down a foundation of Biblical truth like it’s never eaten before. I stand in awe of this gift!

Depression does not happen because we don’t love God enough or anything silly like that. It rises out of a broken earthly depraved body with real life struggles and a brain needing more seratonin. So we must address this physical issue with medication and counseling. However, these things though essential, are missing one element.  Freedom. When we add in God and studying His Word we find freedom in the midst of it all. Get what I’m saying? If you are depressed – care for yourself. Get the right medications and counseling – but get with Jesus! He’s the one who’s going to make the lemons into lemonade. He’s the miracle worker. The one who brings the good.

Be it depression, anxiety, addiction, or anything really – I wonder what would happen if we stopped fearing the onslaught and instead rather embraced what God is teaching us through these struggles. If we used every single smidgen of the pain for God’s glory. I think we would blow others out of the water with Jesus’ awesome rightousness and faithfulness. The world would see that even in this – God is love. Perfect unending love surrounded by the faithfulness of promises that never ever let go. So let’s embrace our life sentence – whatever it may be – the one we never really wanted to have, but the sentence that demands us live a life forever loving and dependent on the beautiful grace and love of Christ Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

I am, you are, the world is…

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I am…

You are…

Therefore the world is…

This is a great tool to use when trying to understand your own or another person’s thoughts or behavior.

Let me give you an example. Today I met a sweet girl who believes I am not worthy of being happy. She believes you are worthy of being happy, just not her. Therefore her way of being in the world is to constantly sacrifice herself at the alter of other’s happiness, but always at the cost of her own. She makes herself miserable, constantly.

Here is another example, this time from my past.

I am unloveable.

You are better than me.

Therefore you can run over me, victimize me, hurt me, shame me, and I won’t do a thing. Because I deserve it all. I deserve pain.

Thankfully my beliefs have changed over time. I now believe I am victorious. I am free. I am a mom and a wife. I am a daughter of the Most High King. I am a girl who is loved and loves others with the love Christ has given to me.

But what about God? Who is He?

Is He Savior? Yes. Is He King? Yes. Is He Jesus? Yes. Is He Power? Yes. Is He Rescue? Yes. Is He so very very very much more? YES!

In Exodus, when Moses asked God who He was, this is how He responded…

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” Exodus 3:14

I am.

It’s that simple. He is. There is no qualifier. And by no qualifier there is also no disqualifier. He is everything. The limitless power of limitless love set loose on mere humanity. We are created in His image and every single place we manifest weakness, He sent His limitless power and wisdom to come and fill us with strength. No pain too sharp He cannot bring us comfort. No worry so stirring He can’t bring us peace. Every single place we locate weakness, it’s His pleasure to provide us with strength.

When Moses asked this question of God, He was afraid. How would He go forward in the Name of the Most High when he had trouble speaking? God said I AM. He said He would provide and He did.

The truth about who God is has not changed. He is all we need to move forward. To move past all the I am places that we feel weak and broken. To help us realize all the I am places that have been tainted by the world and led us to live in ways that are not consistent with His best plans.

Because He is I AM, you are loved, and therefore no matter what obstacles come flying at your head warp speed 9 million miles per hour – you deflect them – and you keep walking in peace – unafraid – and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Because He is, you live.

 

depression…I refuse to be afraid of you anymore…you will take no more from me…

eddad1877461ad126eaabb9335c11752The thing about mental health is no one talks about it. I’m not sure how shame etched itself so deep into the throws of internal turmoil, but it did. People are depressed. Anxious. Hurting. Yet it’s rarely until the circle of pain grows from a small bubble inside of us to a gigantic man eating bubble we cannot pop or escape until we get help. Why is that?

If it wasn’t for my own battle I don’t think I would understand. But I have been depressed. I have experienced trauma. I know PTSD personally. They aren’t my favorite friends. And although they went on what seemed a vacation, looking back, I can see how they quietly wreaked havoc while I wasn’t looking. Now that they are peaking their ugly heads out of the bushes, I can see them again.

So what will the difference be this time? What will keep them from eating me alive once more and robbing years of my life? What’s the difference?

It’s fairly simple. I’m not afraid anymore. I know what the enemy looks like. I know the tools he uses. I know how he starves my body of seratonin and mercy. I’ve seen how he operates. And this time I will act early.

This morning I stood ashamed at the the thought or returning to an anti anxiety medication. I stood afraid of what this chemical imbalance could mean. Not only for me, but now for my daughter who also appears to be fighting her own battles.

This afternoon. I’m victorious. Might I struggle with episodes of anxiety and depression throughout my life? Yes. Might my daughter also? Yes.

Is that ok? Yes.

But I don’t have to bow down to it. I’m more than a conqueror in Christ. He beat depression, anxiety, and every other dang mental illness on the cross. He’s our living hope. Our living healer. Shame has no power here. I’m moving forward. And if you share my struggles – in the power of Christ you can too. Satan doesn’t get to win. Not this time. God is on our side. We will not fail. We are more than conquerors in Christ. It’s time to get up and leave this cold dark place for the warmth and power of redemption and healing.


 

 

 

we became His…

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Something unpleasant stirs inside. I can’t shake it. A shift in the balance is rapidly occurring. And I’m not quite certain what to do with it. It’s these waves I stand on the balcony of love guarding against. Waves of the unknown and unseen thrashing with power upon the fort I’ve built of I’m not sure what.

Self protection and preservation pushes hard against my will. It threatens to quickly close the doors of my heart on top of myself. But this is not where I want to go. Imploding into my own self pity is never the start of something amazing. Faced with adversity I’m also faced with a choice. To go down deeper or begin the ascension before the fullness of the descent picks up speed.

“He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.” James 1:18

As I read these words straight from the pages of the one place truth never ceases to exist the mystery deepens further. Birthed as a new creation through the love of Christ I can feel my self dying a bit more and I wonder if the parts of me stirring inside aren’t bits of pride starving and soon to fall away. If this deeper stirring in my spirit and my soul is not the revival I have been praying for.

My God…His way up is often down…and down is often up. My mind cannot comprehend and my heart cannot fully envelop the swaying swing of my emotions but I can grab ahold of this.

That He chose us.

To give His Word to.  To give His son for. To give up His life for…so that we might live. And even when our spirit wants to go scuba diving in the land of self pity, grasping a tiny shard of His truth is enough to pull us far beyond even the most overwhelming pain.

Whatever has your feet tied to the bottomless pit you feel stuck in, He sent His son and offers His Word…specific to you…to set you free. Embrace it. Swallow it whole if you can.

Lord thank you that even in all of this…we are yours.

blended realities…

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It looks picturesque. Perfect family. Perfect setting. We are that family who went on a fabulous beach vacation over spring break. But before you get jealous let me show you another side of our reality.

The last thing I want is to come across as ungrateful because I am bent and doubled over in thankfulness for this priceless time with my family enjoying God’s creation. It was amazing…thus I debate to share. But some days we just need to be real.

So here’s reality #2. The day before spring break we got a call from the principal. He told us about some alarming behaviors exhibited by our intellectually disabled son. With Ryan, behavior issues are not uncommon. But this was different. Severe.

As it all unfolded we learned he had been the recipient of another child’s sexually inappropriate behaviors at school. And that’s all I’ll say.  I feel it’s all I should say to respect his privacy.

However, as a survivor of sexual assault myself this news threw me into a tailspin.

Then comes the double stack…

My daughter is having ongoing battles with anxiety and sensory overload. They often leave her frustrated and in tears. She struggles at school and she no longer wants to go to dance class. Lately, if she goes at all,  I have to drag her. And it breaks me.

All of it breaks me.

And then there’s reality #3. My kids are amazing. They have challenges. But I wouldn’t trade walking them through these challenges for a million dollars. I just wish I could remove their pain. That is all.

I have an amazing husband by my side. We are healthy. We have a beautiful home and 2 great jobs. When you stand back and survey it all…comparing it to other realities…we are overwhelmingly blessed. And even if this all was snatched away tomorrow – we would still be blessed. Why? Because of Jesus. He is and has to be our everything.

There are perfect pictures that express reality for a few seconds in time. There are realities that break our hearts. And then there is the reality of God’s truth and His blessings. The reality that sets us free.

All reality. All true. Some good.  Some painful. But they are our realities to live. And shouldn’t we stand thankful we aren’t alone in bearing our burdens – regardless of what they may be.

You, I, we…are not alone. God is with us. He sees. He hears. He heals. We trust.

 

Flakes…

We walk around with our share of flakes. Things sprinkled on us that have seasoned who we are. Smaller pieces of a greater whole. They cover us and create our own unique individual emotional and social wardrobe. A diverse combination of experiences, influences, and circumstances that will leave us forever changed – for the better or for the worse.

I wish I could say all my flakes are good. Truth is some of them are bad. Some flakes I try to brush off over and over again but they just won’t go away.

Other flakes are amazing. Pieces of wisdom I glean from God’s Word. Inescapable truth from the Holy Spirit. Flakes He placed inside of me that change the very fabric of who I am.

Some flakes are people. Some that are still present and some that’s presence remains despite their absence.

Regardless of each individual flake it is the combination of them all that gives me the passion I have. It is the fabric God has woven together that gives me purpose and a reason for my existence. The flakes are what get me out of bed in the morning and leave me wanting and longing to do more – to be more – to know more – to discover deeper.

At times they give me trouble. I shame myself over the unattractive ones. Part of me wants to hide them. But maybe it’s these that need to be seen most. They offer hope – tomorrow can be better. Flakes covered in a pearly like glaze that is the love of Jesus. Made beautiful by grace. Still visible, but redeemed.

Whatever your flakes are. God has put them there for a reason. They are unique to you. Even the ugly pieces of a much more painful whole have purpose.

Lord have your way in us…in our flakes…in the small pieces you have allowed. Make us who you want us to be. Give us peace where we feel shame and grace to show the shiny flakes with humility. Blend us into the deeper beauty only you can create. And above all Lord, fall fresh on us in every way possible. We want more of you. Be ever present in ever fiber of every flake.

The comparison trap…

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For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Galatians 5:6 NIV

Comparison can’t happen without something to compare. That’s the divine thing about grace. It negates works and earnings making comparison impossible. We are all equal under grace. No one is more or less deserving of it. We all receive the full measure of grace regardless of our actions.

Comparison exists on a human plane of ability and assessment. We compare the gifts God has given us saying she has more or less, but regardless of our assessments, His grace remains the same. He has given each of us the full measure of what we need.

So if none of us have more or less, if we are all the same under grace, why is comparison so difficult to let go of?

Because our humanity gets in the way. While God sees us completely covered by the love of Jesus, we struggle to forgive. The principle of fair vs unfair runs loose in our minds leading us to investigate who received more than they deserved. We wonder why we can’t be so fortunate as to have what he or she has.

If it really doesn’t matter who does what or who exceeds who is it really worth wasting our time and energy trying to figure it out?

What if we took all that energy and instead chose to love?

To love fully and deeply, we must stop comparing and start seeing those around us as covered by the full measure of grace. Then we are free to love without borders or quantification. We love like Jesus loves.

It’s difficult to stop comparing. But replacing the desire to weigh and measure with the choice to love more and deeper can help us circumvent the comparison trap and focus on what really matters.