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I cry to you, O Lord- I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.

We’d attended the quaint, family-oriented church for years. I’d joined Bible study groups, attended morning meetings for young mamas, and participated in Sunday school. Still, loneliness gnawed at my insides. Somehow, I just didn’t fit. One day after the traditional morning greeting, I once again watched as the women flitted from one pew to the other laughing and hugging each other while I stood awkwardly waving and smiling. I felt like the gangly little girl I’d once been-the last one to be chosen to play on the kickball or softball teams.


That afternoon, I spoke with my husband about looking for a different church. It’s terrible to feel invisible when you’re surrounded by people.


King David also experienced isolation. Having been handpicked by God, he’d slain a giant, married royalty, and had a meteoric rise to fame. Unfortunately, Saul was bent on murder. In an effort to escape, David found refuge in the cave of Abdullum along with 400 desperate men who followed him there. (1 Samuel 22)

Still, David felt alone. Unseen. Unnoticed. Was he? Was I? Are you?

The Secrets of the Cave

I’d been living in a cave. Unlike David, my cave was imperceptible. Its walls weren’t made of limestone or located in a barren desert, but they were real. My cave was called Anxiety and Depression.

My cave was called Anxiety and Depression. Click To Tweet


Some of you may have a cave, as well. Perhaps yours is named Trial, Difficulty, Sorrow, or Illness. It could be Divorce, Trauma, or Loss. We all find ourselves stumbling into desert caves at some point. While residing in the cave often feels uncomfortable, there are some secrets we can learn from David and his time in the cave of Adullam.

While residing in the cave often feels uncomfortable, there are some secrets we can learn from David.. Click To Tweet


• Caves Make Us Better Prayer Warriors
A musician and poet, David penned Psalm 142 as well as other poems and prayers during his time in the cave. He learned to “pour out”, or spill, his heart before God and set an example for future believers. While God already knows our needs, anxieties, and troubles, he longs to communicate intimately with us.


• Caves Help Us Realize Our Condition
David was surrounded by the enemy with Saul on one side and the Philistines on the other. He saw no way of escape. But God provided a route of victory. Even when we’re confused or uncertain of our future, God clearly sees the way. He is never unsure of His plans for us.

Caves remind us that God is constant. Click To Tweet

• Caves Remind Us That God is Constant
While David felt as though nobody cared for Him, the maker of heaven and earth heard his prayers. Isn’t that incredible? God hears every cry that spills from our hearts. Oh, what blessing to be known and loved that intimately.

Caves aren't our home. Click To Tweet


• Caves Aren’t Our Home
Something comes after the cave. When God brought David out of the cave, he’d prepared him for battles, victory, and then kingship. Perhaps you, too, are being prepared for a battle. Or, perhaps your cave is the battle and afterward, you’ll experience victory. Whatever the case, the Lord will bring you out the cave with purpose, fully prepared that “[you] might give thanks to [His] name”.


Peace and grace,
Tammy

I often link up with the following wonderful bloggers:

Mondays   InstaEncouragementsAnita Ojeda, Mandy and Michele, Kingdom Bloggers,

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story/Anchored Abode,

Wednesdays   Worth Beyond RubiesRecharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Counting My Blessings, Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network, Grace and Truth Linkup,best-of-the-weekend

 

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_...whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” - Copy

The throbbing is real but intangible. Painful but unseen. It’s the shattering of a heart already broken experiencing one more journey in the wasteland. Have you been in this place before? In the same sort of circumstance where your dreams are dashed by reality and hope drifts away like dust in the wind? Are you searching for solace, but coming up dry? Does it seem as if even God is unreachable in this desert place?

The Wasteland

The wasteland is almost uninhabitable; barren of comfort, it lacks nourishment and sanctuary is difficult to find. Even your spirit seeks aimlessly, searching for rest but finding none; lying in the pale sand only to rise up again up with the residue of silt  clinging to it-a a reminder of your unchartered journey.

Some of you may be in a spiritual wasteland or on its horizon; others remember trials you’ve recently experienced-difficult circumstances that led you deep into the arid places of the heart bereft of comfortable routines or reassuring normalcy.

If you’re passing through the refining heat of the desert, there is comfort in knowing those of great faith have also journeyed along the same gritty path.

A King in the Wasteland

Imagine being a man of great wealth and power only to discover your oldest son has betrayed you. Charming and deceitful, he’s convinced some of your closest advisors to turn against you and, as a result, you lose everything-your position, possessions, and prestige.

Discovering a plot against your life, you gather a few trusted men and escape to the wilderness. Nourishment is scarce and the enemy, your son, haunts every weary step. Battle weary, you’ve managed many losses and setbacks. Undeserved hatred. Depression. The death of a beloved child. This is a new heartache…the betrayal of a precious son and separation from your place of holy Hope. The one sanctuary of your life.

While encountering his own wasteland, the shepherd-turned-king cried out to God and scribed his words into song as a testimony for us.

O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.

When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches.
Because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
My soul follows close behind You;
Your right hand upholds me.                                                                                                                                   But those who seek my life, to destroy it,

Shall go into the lower parts of the earth.
They shall fall by the sword;
They shall be a portion for jackals.

But the king shall rejoice in God;
Everyone who swears by Him shall glory;
But the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped. (Psalm 63-NKJV)

 

Are you struck by David’s description of His parched soul? By the yearning he has to be in God’s presence? In these few, beautiful verses the believer reveals a path to joy in the most difficult of situations.

Focus on God’s Character

When I’m surrounded by the brokenness of the wasteland, I often fail to notice the stark beauty of the desert stars shining in an inky sky or the shifting shadows along the face of the rocky terrain. I’m consumed by the situation and begin to compare my unfair circumstances to other believers. Why this issue? Hadn’t I prayed enough? Why does God allow this suffering? The questions keep coming, but there aren’t any satisfactory answers.

Perhaps David felt the same way, but he didn’t resort to comparing or even complaining. Instead, he turned his thoughts heavenward and called out to the one who is unbound by circumstances. David cried, “O Elohim (the one true God), You are my El (the mighty One).”

Neither the barren surroundings nor the lack of protection garnered the king’s attention. God’s character was his focal point. When we find ourselves confused or fearful in unwelcome circumstances, our strength comes from the presence of the all-knowing, ever-loving El Elohim. Removing our eyes from the temporary and redirecting them to our Eternal horizon is the first step in rediscovering hope in difficulty.

Quench Your Thirst

As king, David knew the pleasures of fine feasts, silken fabrics, and celebrations. He was accustomed to being addressed with respect and surrounded by family members and doting servants. Now, David and a few loyal men were rushing from one cave to another without the simplest of comforts, and when crying out for his most basic needs what did he request?

More of God.

Despite his clear physical needs, David’s spiritual needs were far more acute. Body and soul, he longed to commune with God. Lamenting at being separated from the holiness of the sanctuary where he’d witnessed God’s glory, earth’s mighty king bowed before heaven’s King in humble submission asking that the Lord alone would quench his thirst.

What does your soul thirst after, friend? Is it His word? Worship? Communing with Him?  Go to Him for we need never thirst. Jesus said, “whoever drinks of the water I will give him will never be thirsty again”. (John 4:14 ESV)

Remember and Rejoice

Even though David is fleeing for his life, he recalls all of the good God has done for him. He recounts the joys, victories, and protection. Maybe David thinks of his best friend Jonathan, the rags-to-riches story of shepherd boy to king, the unexpected win of teenaged-boy over a ruthless warrior, or the birth of his son, Solomon.

Praise flows like a river from David’s mouth. As he thanks the Lord, gratitude wells up from inside his spirit and joy spills out.

Remembering God’s goodness leads to rejoicing. And don’t we all need more rejoicing-especially when we’re walking through the wasteland?

 

Leaving the Wasteland

Eventually, David was rescued from the wasteland. You will be, too, friend. Our Father promises to be your shield and protector, your rescuer and redeemer. He will quench your thirst and lead you by still waters.

Like David, we can cling to our Lord with steady perseverance and take refuge from any challenge in El Elohim-the one true God, the strong and mighty One.

Peace and grace,

Tammy

 

I often link up with the following wonderful bloggers:

Mondays   InstaEncouragementsAnita Ojeda, Mandy and Michele, Kingdom Bloggers,

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story

Wednesdays   Worth Beyond RubiesRecharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Counting My Blessings, Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network, Grace and Truth Linkup,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pleading for Us

The hard edges of time haven’t yet lined his face, but the young man knows suffering. He’s grown accustomed to fear biting at his heels; chasing him from one day to the next. Calling on God, he prays and fasts-beseeching the Lord for breakthrough. Relief from the brokenness. Healing for a hurting heart that refuses to release the tears bottled there for too long.

And his mother approaches the throne of grace; a modern-day Hannah with earnest words whispered and desperate on behalf of the man who is her son. Capturing a glimpse of the child behind his sad smile, she lifts her face to heaven.

Oh, God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
If you’ll take a good, hard look at (his) pain,
If you’ll quit neglecting (him) and go into action for (him)…
I’ll give him completely, unreservedly to you.
I’ll set him apart for a life of holy discipline. (1 Samuel 1:11 MSG)

Like the grieving woman whose arms longed to feel the weight of a newborn, I make a holy vow of my own.  No holding back. No standing in the way. No talking him out of what the mighty God has planned. But, Lord, free him up to live and live abundantly-not this numb-to-the-pain and numb-to-the-joy existence. Allow beauty to move him to such depths that joy erupts from his spirit and spills wet as liquid down dampened cheeks. Let sadness wring his soul with enough strength that the melancholy pours from within; unleashing the ache and inviting the flow of God’s healing touch. Move into the empty spaces and clear out those the imposter has planted a “no vacancy” sign.

You, too, may be a modern-day Hannah with a loved one whose heart needs healing. Some days, it feels as though the prayers will never be answered and I grow impatient. I want Him to answer now. Doesn’t He see the need? The pain? The ache?

I would be the rescuer. The savior. But, my titles are all lowercase.#perseverance#faith Click To Tweet

Honestly, if I could exchange the burden with my precious one I would. I would be the rescuer. The savior. But, my titles are all lowercase and I’m ill-equipped to do anything but persevere in my faith. If I give up, the enemy will celebrate a victory. I refuse to yield my child’s life so easily.

What about you? Are you battling right now? Are you, too, pounding on heaven’s gates on behalf of a loved one? Maybe your on bended knee as a result of a dear one’s anxiety, depression, or addiction. It could be your precious one is consumed by self-contempt, brokenness, or fear.

Perhaps, you are the one in need of prayer.

Dear modern-day Hannah, remain steadfast. Jesus intercedes on your behalf.#holyprayers#remembered Click To Tweet

Dear modern-day Hannah, remain steadfast. Raise your eyes heavenward. Your heavenly priest, Jesus, intercedes on your behalf. Persevere as this woman of scripture once did and there will be a day of rejoicing. Just as the Lord remembered Hannah, He will remember you.

 

Peace and grace,

Tammy

 

I sometimes link-up with these wonderful bloggers:

Mondays   InstaEncouragementsAnita Ojeda, Mandy and MicheleKingdom Bloggers,

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story/Anchored Abode,

Wednesdays   Worth Beyond RubiesRecharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee/Porch Stories

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Counting My Blessings, Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Networ

 

 

 

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Neither the difficulties or joys of our todays can compare with what we'll experience on the other side of heaven..png

The man at the park glared at me, his expression communicating judgement. What kind of parent are you? Do something about your son’s behavior. Bending low to speak with his granddaughter face to face, he said, “You’re a good girl. You never behave like that little boy.”

Tempted to shout something in my preschooler’s defense, I scooped my son up in my arms to guard him from scrutiny and rushed away feeling helpless; shame and mama-guilt rubbing salt in the wound of unmet hopes and dreams.

I’d known something caused my little one to struggle. To hurt. To fear. And, after several years and a slew of visits to doctors, experts, and interventionists my precious one was diagnosed with both anxiety and a mood disorder.

My heart grieved–and still does–for what might have been.

Years later, a youth pastor addressed a concern with my husband. “I don’t think your boy should spend much time with Sara. She has bipolar disorder.”

The pastor’s response to mental illness stunned us. Fearful of the stigma attached to mental health issues, we hadn’t shared with anyone at church about the struggles our family faced. We’d been right to keep the information to ourselves. Our son had been protected from being ostracized by the people who should have demonstrated love and empathy. By those who could have opened the doors of communication and offered hope and help.

The man behind the pulpit communicated judgement. Mental illness makes someone unworthy and unsafe.

You, too, may understand the burden of watching a loved one suffer. Perhaps your heart aches as my heart does, wondering how God will transform the struggle into something that brings Him glory.

You may have felt judged in area of your life. You might carry a burden of shame you can’t seem to escape. Maybe the dreams you’d had for a relationship or a loved one have been crushed beneath the weight of difficult circumstances.

Oh, friend, the Enemy wants us to be paralyzed by our doubts and destroyed dreams. But, God promises us a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Neither the difficulties or joys of our todays can compare with what we’ll experience on the other side of heaven. Complete restoration of lives and relationships. Hopes and dreams surpassed.

1 Peter 5:10-11 (MSG) encourages us with these words,

You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.

He has eternal and glorious plans for you, for me, and for those we love. And He, who is the Word, gets the last word.

Peace and grace,

Tammy

I often link up with the following: LMMLinkupPorch StoriesTea and Word Tuesday, Blogger Voices NetworkTea and Word TuesdaysWorth Beyond Rubies WednesdayLet’s Have CoffeeSoaring With HimPurposeful Faith, Encouraging Word WednesdaySitting Among FriendsImparting GraceDestination InspirationTune in ThursdayHeart EncouragementFaith and FriendsFaith on Fire, anitaojeda, Dance with Jesushttps://www.rachelmarielee.com/  www.instaencouragements.com, Fresh Market Friday

 

 

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I may not be strong enough to conquer anxiety, but with God all things are possible.

My voice, high and quiet, barely penetrated the good-humored discussion amongst my colleagues. Attempting to lead an activity, I was certain I noticed dismissive, bored glances of the other women. Their unspoken words, all a figment of my anxious imagination, left an indelible imprint.

  I can’t stand her. She’s such a do-gooder.                                                                                  What a fake! Nobody smiles that much.                                                                                              Great…this will be a waste of time.

I carried the weight of these illusory statements the entirety of the day; my burden a series of invisible labels wrapped like chains around my spirit. I’d believed some of anxieties most common lies.

Like the tentacles of a cloying sea animal, anxiety wraps its arms around the susceptible soul.#dontgiveanxietypower#speaktruth#mentalhealth Click To Tweet

Many of us have experienced anxiety, but we become vulnerable prey when we allow its deceit to penetrate our hearts. Like the tentacles of a cloying sea animal, anxiety wraps its arms around the susceptible spirit–enfolding each woman in her own veil of unwanted worry.

Anxiety strengthens; feeding on the suppression of truth as the mind recycles wrong thinking, misinterprets events, and begins to treat lies as reality; forgetting Christ’s reassurance that he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Perhaps you, too, are familiar with the lies anxiety thrusts deep into the sensitive soul. Do you recognize any of these?

  1. You aren’t worth anything and everybody knows it. Did you notice the way the way other people avert their gaze or avoid you? You deserve their judgement because you’ll never be enough.
  2. Your worst fears may become reality. What right do you have to enjoy and experience this moment when danger and disaster are an ever-present possibility?
  3. You are responsible for happy endings. If your husband, child, or friend is unhappy, you need to fix the problem.
  4. You are never safe. No matter the circumstance or person, you must be vigilant. Life is tenuous and safety is doubtful.
  5. You aren’t lovable. You may not even be likable. Regardless of your efforts, investing in relationships is useless. There is always someone better, prettier, funnier, or smarter who is more important than you.
  6. You should just give up on beating anxiety because it’s stronger than you. Despite prayer, counseling, medication or any other intervention, anxiety will maintain the upper hand. There is no way to manage its impact; no way to live free.

Earlier today I allowed room for the lies anxiety whispers; inviting them into my mind when I should have slammed the door at their first appearance. Now, bits of silver sparkle in the sky and I’m reminded of the vastness of God’s power and might. I recall the accounts of God’s tender love and patient guidance with a people in need of shepherding. Words of acceptance and devotion flood my mind.

I recall the Way. I cling to the Truth. I seek Life.

In His presence, I rediscover what had been momentarily forgotten.

The precious blood of Christ has made me worthy.#accepted#trueidentity#mentalhealth Click To Tweet
  1. The precious blood of Christ has made me worthy. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).
  2. Fear isn’t worth my time because He is my protector and provider.                    “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
    I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”(Isaiah 41:10)
  3. His plans and purposes are unshakeable. I’m on the winning team.                        “Remember the former things, those of long ago;  I am God, and there is no other;
    I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning,
    from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” (Isaiah 46:9-10)
  4. I am safe for eternity because I am His child.                                                                 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
  5. Even when I am at my least lovable, I am still loved.                                                      But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4-5)
  6. Anxiety may seem insurmountable, but I know the God who split the Read Sea and brought down the walls of Jericho. I may not be strong enough to conquer anxiety, but “with God all things are possible”. Even if anxiety continues to reside nearby until my homecoming, I will choose to trust Him. “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

If anxiety is your soul’s silent enemy, would you turn to the truth of scripture? Feast on the abundance of your Father’s words and begin to drive anxiety from your heart and mind. It’s the best place to begin.

Peace and grace,

Tammy

I often link up with the following: Porch Stories, Tea and Word Tuesday, Literary Musing Mondays, Worth Beyond Rubies Wednesday, Let’s Have CoffeePurposeful Faith, Encouraging Word Wednesday, Sitting Among Friends, Imparting GraceDestination Inspiration, Tune in Thursday, Dare to HearHeart Encouragement, Faith and Friends, Blogger Voices Network, Faith on Fire, Dance with Jesus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Elisabeth Elliott-Today.png

Electricity coursed down my arms and into my fingertips like an electric bug-zapper lit up during a summer evening in the Florida everglades. Suddenly, my body temperature seemed elevated–ears burning, cheeks flushed. An invisible weight crushed my chest, making it difficult to fill my lungs or breathe slowly. Evenly.

My anxiety had ripened into a full-on anxiety attack.

I’d struggled with anxiety since childhood, but this was a new and overwhelming experience. Certain I was too young to for a heart-attack, I heaped on the shame.

Don’t you have any faith? God is able to manage the ticker-tape of worries steaming through your mind. What sort of Christian are you? 

Self-recrimination came easily–almost as easily as the other panic attacks, sleepless nights, and excessive weight loss.

I sometimes lose my way in the Land of What Is because I've crossed over into The Land of What Might Be.#mentalillness#hope Click To Tweet

The challenge was in accepting the truth; I have a mental illness. Like 1 in 5 other Americans, I struggle with the reality of emotions that attempt to strangle hope. I sometimes lose my way in the Land of What Is because I’ve crossed over into The Land of What Might Be; a far more unfamiliar and frightening place with all sorts of imagined disasters and potential troubles.

Over the years, though, I’ve discovered three important truths about anxiety.

  1. Clinical anxiety is not equivalent to the sinful worry noted in scripture.       Other well-meaning Christians may disagree, but as a result of this broken world some of us suffer with illnesses. Some of these, such as rheumatoid arthritis or cancer, are more readily accepted within the church. However, some of us battle daily with mental illnesses like anxiety and depression as a result of trauma or biological differences.
  2. God may choose to heal my anxiety–or not. Like anyone living with illness, I’ve prayed fervently to be healed. I’ve prayed even more passionately for others I love to be released from the burden of chronic anxiety. I am convinced that if God chooses to allow this thorn to remain while I live out my years on earth then He will use it to accomplish good in the lives of others. It is in our weakness that His power is magnified. (2 Corinthians 12:9-11)
    Anxiety doesn't make me less of a Christian.#notashamed#onbeinghuman Click To Tweet
  3. Anxiety doesn’t make me less of a Christian. I don’t need to carry shame because of anxiety. If sin is powerless to keep me from Jesus, then a condition of human frailty is even less culpable. None of my attempts to present myself worthy and whole are necessary; He only requires a contrite heart. (Psalm 51:17).

 

You, too, may struggle with anxiety. Can I encourage you to set aside your self-chastisement and shame? This is why Jesus came, Friend–to provide the Way home.

If anxiety is not on your lists of hurts or challenges, then praise God and consider encouraging a friend or loved one who is familiar with the prick and pain of this particular thorn.

I’ve included a hope-filled printable of scriptures below to pray over or share with someone else.

9 Verses Printable

9 Verses to Pray Over When We Are Anxious1.png

33 Verses to Pray Over When We Are Anxious2.png

33 Verses to Pray Over When We Are Anxious3.png

33 Verses to Pray Over When We Are Anxious4.png

Peace and grace,

Tammy

 

I often link up with the following bloggers:

Imparting Grace, Crystal Twaddell, SaltandLight, Tea and Word

 

 

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HOPE Mental Illness.png

By my early-40’s I’d earned a few certificates and degrees, four children, two dogs–and the unenviable position of being diagnosed with several disorders. Anxiety. Depression. PTSD. PMDD. Even a penchant toward dissociation.

As a young woman, I’d been certain I could shed the shame of my childhood and embrace happiness. Peace. Living. But I didn’t realize that old, unhealed wounds fester and leach. That anxiety wasn’t something I could dust off like a farmer’s pair of worn cowboy boots.

I didn't realize that old, unhealed wounds fester and leach.That anxiety wasn't something I could dust off like a farmer's pair of worn cowboy boots.#mentalillness#hope#letsgetrealseries Click To Tweet

Time clicked by and, ever so gently, God nurtured and healed. Provided wise counsel and tools to help manage the tumult of soul-sucking pain. Gifted me with a husband who loved through it all. Sustained me when I wanted nothing more than to inhale the last of earth and the first of heaven.

Have you been there? Are you there now? Or, does a loved one bear the burden of mental illness?

I know the pain and I'm sorry you're hurting.#depression#ptsd#hope Click To Tweet

I know the pain and I’m sorry you’re hurting, friend. I’m sorry you don’t share openly because you fear being judged. I’m sorry you weep, cry, and grieve for the person you thought you’d become. I’m sorry that just getting out of bed or making it through one more day makes you feel as though you’re an overloaded cargo ship sinking beneath the weight of its cargo.

Whether you are the one desperate for relief, a mama longing to take her child’s struggle, or a wife desperate for the husband she once knew, you are not alone.

One in five adults understand.

One in five women with successful careers. One in five stay-at-home moms with dinners made by scratch and dessert in the oven. One in five grandmothers living the golden years. One in five women in every church pew on any given Sunday understand.

One in five women in every church pew on any given Sunday understand. #mentalillness#1in5#hope Click To Tweet

Not only are you surrounded by others who empathize, but there is something even better. It’s the four-letter word we forget in the midst of the hard.

Hope.

We have hope because of Christ, in Christ and through Christ.

We have hope because the end of our story was rewritten on the cross. Sin exchanged for restoration, tears for celebration, and death for liberation. Neither depression, anxiety, or any other illness can wrest these from your grasp because you are held tightly in His.

When you’re tempted to believe there is nothing better than what is right now, remind yourself of what you know to be true. There will be more to your story.

So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 MSG)

 Peace and grace, Tammy

Mental Health Pain Hack Image

Mental Health Pain Hack Printable

https://kingsumo.com/js/embed.js

 

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The Lord will fight for you. Just stay calm.

Fear tracks my steps like a hunter. It knows my habits, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities. Fear launches arrows of trepidation and dread when I linger too long in the wasteland of what-if-outcomes and this-seems-impossible probability.

Fear launches arrows of trepidation and dread when I linger too long in the wasteland of what-if-outcomes.#fightingfear#letsgetrealseries#donotbeafraid Click To Tweet

Like any predator, fear longs to cripple its prey, rendering her useless. Spent. Afraid to take action. As its presence draws close, it grows ever larger; assuming power over thought and imagination. Casting its shadow over hope, possibility, and a truth-based view of God’s matchless love and strength.

Fear leads to worry and worry, when coddled, leads to anxiety.#fightingfear#letsgetrealseries#donotbeafraid Click To Tweet

Fear leads to worry and worry, when coddled, leads to anxiety.  Right now? I’m precariously balanced on the line between worry and anxiety. Perhaps you are, as well. You, too, may feel as though any circumstance that confirms your fear will catapult you into the hunter’s trap and once there, you’ll live out that which you’d dreaded in the first place. Every fear realized. Every dream obliterated.

An opportunist, fear resides in different areas of your life and mine. Some of us fear abandonment, loss of security, or being unloved and unseen. Others of us struggle with the fear of never being enough, failing as a wife or mother, or being without purpose. Still others fear what might become of a loved one who struggles with prodigal living, mental illness, or addiction.

God knows our hearts tremble and quake.He understands that our knees knock in the face of real situation.Maybe the reason He sprinkled the phrase 'do not be afraid' in scripture 70 times is because He knows us so… Click To Tweet

Friend, God knows our hearts tremble and quake. He understands that our knees knock in the face of real situations or circumstances and that our imaginations run wild with what-if scenarios and I-can’t-imagine-anything-good-coming-of-this myopia.

Maybe the reason He sprinkled the phrase “do not be afraid” in scripture 70 times (along with abundant variations) is because He knows us so well. He realizes we need to be reminded again and again and again of His power, strength and faithfulness because we lose sight of who He is.

We forget His promises.

We flounder in our faith and mistake it for abandonment.

We presume that our weakness equates to a similar weakness in God and we become discouraged or distraught.

But, we can engage fear and overcome it when we wage the battle on our knees and in our minds. The steps I’ve listed below are those that have proven most to helpful to me as I’ve managed my own fear fighting. I pray they encourage your heart as you stand up against fear in your own life.

Fighting Fear Power Plan

  • Prepare for Battle Read, recite and record Bible verses that address fear. These  are a few of my favorites and serve as a starting point. (Isaiah 41:13, Joshua 1:9, Psalm 34:4) As you consider the Father’s words, notice how He is personally involved in the struggle against fear.
  • Dress for Battle Fear fighting encompasses mind and spirit, therefore, we must be clothed accordingly or we’ll be vulnerable to the assaults of the enemy. Ephesians 6:10-18 provides the strategy for us to put on God’s holy power and strength.
  • Engage in Battle Pray. Get real with God about your fear and allow Him to work in your heart and situation. Journal your prayers and pray scripture back to God. You might start with Psalm 27 ,David’s response to fear.

 

Peace and grace,                                                                                                                                      Tammy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve experienced this struggle often enough and long enough to realize this is a battle won on two fronts–in my mind and on my knees.

 

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Hewillbeourfather.png

The elderly man posted mournful adoption ads and flyers in bus stops and places about town.

“Lonely old man in his 80s. Strong-bodied. Can shop, cook and take care of himself. No chronic illness. I retired from a scientific research institute in Tianjin, with a monthly pension of 6,000 RMB (USD1344) a month. I won’t go to a nursing home. My hope is that a kindhearted person or family will adopt me, nourish me through old age and bury my body when I’m dead.”

Struck by the man’s plight, I wondered how many of us can relate to this man and his heart’s cry.

I’m worth something. I’m willing to work for love and acceptance. I’ll give all that I have for just a crumb of kindness. An ounce of approval. Won’t someone love me? Just a little?

 Have you, too, experienced loneliness? Felt isolated?

Most of us recognize the sense of abandonment that invades a needy soul during such times. Once in a while, these are the difficult feelings that remind us of our need for others. The importance of connection rather than Facebook pretension. The value of friendship rather than selfish ambition.

At other times, the Father may lead us to a lonely place where we’ll be reminded of the One who extends beyond the human longing for relationship and leads us toward spiritual fulfillment. Away from loneliness into the arms of a loving Father. Out from under the shadow of rejection into the everlasting promise of holy adoption.

Consider these words from scripture,

I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughter to me, says the Lord Almighty. Click To Tweet

“I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:18) Oh, the relief and joy of total acceptance and complete love!

Sometimes, though, instead of clinging to the words of scripture, we settle into our emotions and hide in the shadows. Messages birthed by the Enemy are given shape in our darkest imagination.

You are unwanted. Unworthy. Unlovable.

 Rather than guiding us toward hope, the taunts of the Deceiver grow ever larger—filling the space once occupied by living. Laughter. Love. And we begin to despair as depression assumes headship.

Like the pounding of a hammer against a nail, the thought rings loud, “Isn’t there more than this hurt? This grief? This aching, incessant pain?” And we scoff at the familiar Sunday school song, ‘If You’re Happy and You Know It’, doubting happiness even exists.

 If you are hiding in the shadows, Friend, convinced that life is purposeless and that pain is your lot, please know:

You are loved. (Psalm 86:5)

You are seen. (Genesis 16:7-12)

You are heard. (1 Peter 3:12)

 

You are chosen. (Col. 3:12)

You are treasured. (Duet. 7:6)

You are a delight to God. (Zeph. 3:17)

Loneliness has a cruel habit of cloaking truth while depression obscures hope.  Click To Tweet

Loneliness has a cruel habit of cloaking truth while depression obscures hope. This is the position in which the Liar of old wants us to reside. Unlike our Eternal Hope, he comes to “kill, steal, and destroy”.

Raise your hands to heaven, dear one, and cry out to the God who bends low to hear even unuttered prayers. He will give you strength to endure this moment. This hour. This day.

Loneliness is a silent soul killer and depression crouches next door. If you struggle with depression and its neighbor, I encourage you to take the If You're (Not) Happy and You Know It Challenge.  Click To Tweet

 

If You’re (Not) Happy and You Know It Challenge-Day 4                                          Loneliness is a silent soul killer and depression crouches next door. If you struggle with depression and its neighbor, I encourage you to take the If You’re (Not) Happy and You Know It Challenge.

  1. Reach out to a trusted friend, family member, pastor or counselor. Clinical depression requires a network of people who will provide support and prayer.
  2. Schedule one or two proactive, depression busting activities each day. For example, set and hold to a regular sleep schedule, exercise regimen, or healthy eating cycle. Add one more positive habit to your “to-do” list every few days to aid in eliminating unhealthy choices (i.e. not eating enough, eating too much, spending hours in front of the screen, avoiding interaction with others).
  3. Volunteer Offering to help others boosts the feel-good centers in our brains and boosts our ability to meaningfully connect with others.
  4. Seek medical assistance. If you’re consumed with thoughts of self-harm or have a plan to hurt yourself, call the suicide hotline at 1 (800) 273-8255. Give yourself the opportunity to rediscover happiness. You are worth it!

Download or share my gift to you, an ebook (also available on Kindle), Moving From Pain to Peace–A Journey Toward Hope.

Moving from Pain to Peace-A Journey toward Hope1From Pain to Peace-Journey Toward Hope

Peace and grace,

Tammy

 

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I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.He put a new song in my mouth. Psalm 40_1,3.png

The high-pitched whirring of the car matched the acceleration of my heart, a rapid ta-tunk, ta-tunk, ta-tunk as I pressed the accelerator. Thoughts ricocheted in my mind, rapid-fire like a motorized, ball-pitching machine.

They’d be better off without me.

This hurting wasn’t part of my plan.

I don’t think God knew what He was doing when He gave me life.

The messages repeated again and again as I rounded the edge of a mountain. Temptation rose large, whispering its poison as I imagined what it might feel like to launch off the earth at 13,000 feet.

You can stop it all. Right here. Right now.

2 Corinthians 10:5 joined the panoply of others.

Take every thought captive. Take every thought captive. Take every thought captive.

And God’s word, sharper than a two-edged sword, guided me home. Safe. Settled. Soothed.

Still, depression held on.

Depression. Even the word sounds threatening, doesn’t it? Like so many others I’ve lived it. I’ve walked through depression with friends and family. And I’ve discovered that depression is no respecter of persons.

Age? Irrelevant. Gender? Immaterial. Status? Insignificant. Faith? Unrelated. Time? Inconsequential.

Depression disguises itself as disinterest. Detachment. Despair. It swallows hope in its black, gaping mouth and casts its shadow on even the happiest moments. You feel alone. Alone in the pain. Alone without purpose. Alone without… Click To Tweet

If you aren’t that woman, you know someone who is struggling right now. She may not tell you. She may not share the pain. But, you do know at least one dear soul who–in living with depression feels lifeless inside.

Oh, how the chains of depression drag and pull like a treacherous rip current at low tide. Its power seems overwhelming and the thought of catching a breath grows ever dimmer.

Is there any hope?

Sweet friend, Jesus can shatter the chains of depression. He'll walk through the deep valley with you now--shoulder to shoulder--and lead you to an open space where you inhale deeply of life and laugh in delight. Click To Tweet

In the Bible, our Father provides examples of other people who loved Him and struggled with depression.  Job. David. Solomon. Elijah. Naomi. Most of these people were spiritual giants, yet they experienced hopelessness. They also provide us with insight as we take up our scriptural sledge hammer and prepare to destroy depression.

Depression and Spiritual Warfare

As with Job, depression can be a result of trauma and grief. After all, the enemy knows our vulnerabilities and, while restricted, he seeks to steal, kill and destroy anything of promise in our lives.

Job’s story (Job 1-3; 38-42) teaches us:

  • that the Enemy targets those who love the Lord and live out their faith.
  • God was with Job–even when Job was angry and accusatory.

Depression and the Importance of Community

Naomi’s husband and two sons died, leaving her a penniless, bitter refugee. Still, her daughter-in-law, Ruth, remained a faithful companion.

Naomi’s story teaches us:

  • even when we feel as if God has abandoned us, He remains near.
  • not to isolate ourselves. We all need a ‘Ruth’ to speak words of truth and encouragement.

 

Depression and the Challenge of Ministry

Regardless of our circle of influence, we are vessels through which God’s love is meant to flow. But, ministry–whether to our husband, children, colleagues, or women’s group–is challenging. Elijah was depleted and depressed because his ministry seemed ineffective and there was a price on his head.

Elijah’s story teaches us:

  • we must care for the needs of our body by resting and eating well.
  • that we are never alone. It’s important to seek community and trust in His faithfulness despite circumstances.

Depression and the Importance of Prayer and Thanksgiving

David might have been a man after God’s own heart, but he understood the suffering of betrayal and the heartache of losing a child. Honest and vulnerable, David’s prayers typically end in praise and thanksgiving.

David’s story teaches us:

  • God doesn’t expect us to recite pithy, sanitized prayers. We can be honest about our situation. Honest about how we are feeling. Honest about the pain.
  • praising and thanking God reminds us of the truths we know about His goodness and love.

 

These scriptures provide us with wonderful, encouraging truths. However, depression is a form of illness. If you struggle with depression, you need support and treatment for that sickness just as you would any other. Beyond addressing your spiritual needs, please seek help for your depression in other important ways. Click To Tweet

These include meeting with a counselor or therapist, sharing your struggle with a few trustworthy friends who can pray for and minister to you, caring for your body with a healthy diet and exercise, and possibly considering the use of medication for a time.

If you or someone you know is struggling with self-destructive thoughts as I had been, seek help immediately. Call a hotline or go to the hospital.

The enemy is a great deceiver and he is adept at convincing us life will never get better. He is lying. Jesus came that we might have life and live it abundantly. Click To Tweet

With prayers for peace and holy strength,

Tammy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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