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I am a Christ follower who is in love with Jesus.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Drowning in Depression


Depression leaves an impression on our mind.  It sneaks up when least expected and carves deep holes into the heart.  The day can be bright and sunny with the wind blowing, birds singing and sounds of children’s laughter bouncing off the walls and floating through the air. Depression comes in and casts a negative twist causing the sounds of children’s laughter to become unnerving, nature to be overlooked and the wind to feel like sharp knives stabbing our face.

It threatens to steal the joy out of each moment taking us on trips down memory lanes of pain and sorrow reminiscing the past instead of looking forward to the future.  Each moment of the day is dreaded and bad habits turn worse as depression seeks its way.  Thoughts are played over and over again, embedding depression into every fiber of our brain.

Depression mocks us and convinces us we are worthless with no hope for a future.  Instead of holding on to the good, depression convinces us to hold onto the bad and negative things life throws at us.  We become consumed with dread and thoughts of death and dying become tantalizing.  Suicidal thoughts grab ahold and take over our mind.  Hope is gone and life doesn’t seem worth living. We give into the enemy of our mind and our fate appears set.

Researching depression led me down paths arguing different opinions based on research and scientific data.  Some Doctors and Mental Health practitioners describe chemical imbalances in the brain and hormones in the body as causes of depression.  They prescribe drugs intended to rebalance the chemicals. Other Doctors and mental health professionals argue that the pharmaceutical companies and Doctors are in cahoots with each other to make money from the manufacturing and sale of drugs.  Additional theories indicate trauma, loss, genetic disposition and other environmental factors lend themselves to causes of depression.

How then, can we detangle ourselves from Depression and its hold on us?  How can we begin to see the twinkle of light lingering in the dark recesses of our mind?  What is the real truth of depression and how in the world do we treat it? 

A car accident leaving my husband a quadriplegic, my own health issues and many of stressors spun me down this horrific black hole.  Tests validated chemical imbalances in my Serotonin, Norepinephrine, Dopamine and Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels.

It took medication, support from family and friends, counseling and my faith to overcome the black hole I was quickly descending into after this horrible accident.

As a Christ Follower, I was torn between the research, scientific data and various teachings by the church on health, depression and healing. Coming from a Catholic background transitioning into the Charismatic/Pentecostal movement, I heard it all relating to depression and physical and emotional healing. On one side of my faith walk, I experienced understanding and support regarding stress, depression and loss.  On the other side, I was met with condemnation, accusations of a lack of faith for healing and told I had unrepentant sin causing my depression and health challenges.  I was struggling with perfectionism, therefore, being told I had unrepentant sin and lack of faith almost put me over the edge.  I felt the noose tightening around my neck and was ready to kick the chair out from under me.

I would lay in bed at night crying out to God to help me and to bring me peace and comfort.  Each night I heard and I felt nothing.  I saw no light at the end of the long and lonely tunnel.  All I could feel was the noose drawing tighter and tighter ready to cut off the circulation to my brain and take my breath.  During this time, church friends did not know how to relate to me, friends scattered and family was silent.

Spiraling into anorexia and bulimia, trying to control what I couldn’t just put me further into the clutches of death.  Over and over again, night after night, I continued to cry out to God!  I still  felt nothing, absolutely nothing!  All I heard was the silent trickle of the tears running down my face.  I continued to go through the motions of work and caring for my kids the best I could, yet not knowing how to navigate any of it very well. 

One day at church, a woman approached me and said,” You may not see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it is there!”  She had no idea all of the turmoil in my mind.  This simple statement gave me a glimmer of hope.  I started staring at myself in the mirror telling myself I had a hope and a future.  I began digging into the bible and posting scriptures around my home to remind me of who I was in Christ.  I hung on to the words daily reminding myself of the light at the end of this turmoil of darkness and despair. I had limped along so long, that the process to healing was very slow.  Determination to keep repeating scriptures, stay on my medication and reach out for support helped my mind to remain focused on a brighter future.

Instead of dwelling on what I lost, I began dwelling on what I still had in my life. Thankfulness ever so slowly began to creep into my heart and one day the glimmer of light shimmered and slowly became brighter and brighter.  None of this was easy and I wanted to give up and give in to the negative thoughts more than once. Yet, holding on to one person’s word made a huge difference in the outcome of my spiral.

Years have passed and looking back I see the hand of God in all of it.  He used medication, support, prayer and one person words to break through the black hole in my mind.  Silent prayers lifted on my behalf from friends, family and strangers when I was even too exhausted and worn out to pray where offered also to the Father. 

There are so many facets of depression and I am here to encourage all who are walking this road to not give up.  Fight, Fight, Fight and don’t quit.  Do whatever you can to get help.  Stop the silence and bring it to the light so others can help you too.  Begin to see the truths in the word of God and don’t let religion discourage or dissuade you from that truth.  Don’t ever think that God is not there.  He will never, ever leave you nor forsake you.  He did not promise any of us an easy road, but we do have a hope and a future in Him.  He is even there in the silence when you cannot see the light.  Dear ones, the light is at the end of this long, dreary, dark tunnel even when you don’t see it.

His Beloved Warrior Bride,

Johanna




Thursday, August 9, 2018

Gracefully Broken

I was in Dollar Tree last night and there was a woman and two children behind me in a LONG line. One was an older child and the other one was a toddler. The older child had a pack of glow sticks and the toddler was screaming for them.  The woman opened the pack and gave him one, which stopped his tears.
He walked around with it smiling, but then the older child took it and the toddler started screaming again. Just as the woman was about to correct the older child, he bent the glow sticks and handed it back to the toddler.
 All of us walked outside at the same time.  The toddler noticed that the stick was now glowing and his brother said "I had to break it so you could get the full effect from it."
I wanted to run away from what I was hearing because l heard God saying to me, "I had to break you to show you why I created you. You had to go through it so you could fulfill your purpose." That little child was happy just swinging that "unbroken" glow stick around in the air because he didn't understand that it was created to "glow".
There are some people who will be content just "being" but some of us that God has chosen, have to be "broken".
We get sick, lose a job, go through divorce, bury our spouse, parents, best friend, or our child.  In those moments of desperation, God is breaking us.  When the breaking is done, we will be able to see the reason for which we were created.

This post by my friend Kristy Kretzer reminded me of Matt Redman's song, "Gracefully Broken."

Below is the link to this song!  If it does not work, copy and paste it into your url.


God will break you to position YOU
Break you to promote you
And break you to put you in your right place
But when He breaks you He doesn't hurt you, He doesn't
When He breaks you He doesn't destroy you, He does it with; grace
Anybody been gracefully broken?
Thank You, Lord, thank You
So Father tonight, we're broken before You
Thank You for handling us with grace
Just lift your worship right there in this moment
Gracefully Broken Lyrics
Take all I have in these hands and multiply
God, all that I am and find my heart
On the altar again set me on fire, set me on fire
Take all I have in these hands and multiply
God, all that I am and find my heart
On the altar again set me on fire, set me on fire
Here I am, God
Arms wide open
Pouring out my life
Gracefully broken
My heart stands in awe of Your name
Your mighty love stands strong to the end
You will fulfill Your purpose in me
You won't forsake me, You will be with me
Here I am, God (say)
Arms wide open
Pouring out my life (Pouring out my life)
Gracefully broken
Say again, here I am, here I am, God
Arms wide open
Pouring out my life (Pouring out my life)
Gracefully broken
All to Jesus now
All to Jesus now
I'm holding nothing back
Holding nothing back
I surrender (I surrender)
Y'all throw your hands up and sing I surrender (I surrender)
Say I surrender (I surrender)
All that I am, I surrender (I surrender)
Have Your way, use me Lord, I surrender (I surrender)
Do Your will, it's all Your way, I surrender (I surrender)
Use my life for Your glory, say I surrender all (I surrender)
You want to tell Him right where you are (I surrender)
(Oh) Your power at work in me
(Oh) I'm broken gracefully
(Oh) I'm strong when I am weak
(Oh, ooh-oh) I will be free
(Oh, ooh-oh) Your power at work in me
(Oh, ooh-oh) I'm broken gracefully
(Oh, ooh-oh) I'm strong when I am weak
(Oh, ooh-oh) I will be free
(Oh, ooh-oh) Your power at work in me
(Oh, ooh-oh) I'm broken gracefully
(Oh, ooh-oh) I'm strong when I am weak
(Oh, ooh-oh) I will be free
(Oh, ooh-oh) Your power at work in me
(Oh, ooh-oh) I'm broken gracefully
(Oh, ooh-oh) I'm strong, I'm strong
(Oh, ooh-oh) I will be free, yeah
Oh oh
Here I am, God
Arms wide open
I'm right here
Pouring out my life
Gracefully broken
His Beloved Warrior Bride,

Johanna






Thursday, May 31, 2018

BUT GOD....

As a Christian, I look to the Bible and my relationship with Christ for consul, strength and help in times of trouble.  My daily Bible readings often cause me to pause and meditate on various promises in the Word. During a recent quiet time, the following verse stuck a cord within my heart.

“My Flesh and my Heart faileth, BUT GOD is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.”  Psalm 73:26 KJV.

Here the psalmist acknowledges his struggles.  His heart is failing within him yet he goes on to say, “BUT GOD IS MY STRENGTH and MY PORTION FOREVER” (Italics added)

The psalmist was weary, yet he knew where his strength and provision could be found.  This strength is available to everyone.

When we lose the one closest to us and watch the last pile of dirt thrown on the grave, BUT GOD...

When our hearts are sick with worry over finances and just getting through the day, BUT GOD…

When our children are sick and we are alone to care for them, BUT GOD…

When the voice on the other end of the phone yells profanities and curses at us, BUT GOD…

When the roof is leaking, the pipes bursting and the furnace goes on the blink in the middle of winter, BUT GOD…

When we watch another friend say, “I DO” and we wish it were us, BUT GOD…

When we sit in the passenger seat as our teen learns to drive, BUT GOD…

When our kids refuse to call and seem to forget we exist, BUT GOD…

When we dread the mail because of another bill, BUT GOD…

When we lay in the ER or the Hospital room without our beloved’s hand to hold, BUT GOD…

When fear becomes our friend and worry our neighbor, BUT GOD…

When the light has gone out on our hopes and dreams, BUT GOD…

When we say goodbye and the last child flies out of the nest, BUT GOD…

When the alarm goes off and we wish we could stay in bed, BUT GOD…

When our arms ache and our back hurts from trying to keep up, BUT GOD…

When the pieces of our heart are shattered on the floor, BUT GOD…

When she walks down the aisle without her daddy, BUT GOD…

When the storms of life come in like a tsunami, BUT GOD…

Whether it be sickness, disease, finances, losses, loneliness or anything else this earthly life brings, remember BUT GOD!

BUT GOD:
He is out protector, our redeemer, our strength and our portion.
He fights our battles and brings victories even in the hard places of our life.
He is our portion and he shows us His love.
He overthrows the wicked who try to harm us and He is with us in the midst of all our storms.
He is our mediator and our inheritance.
He is faithful and strong showing mercy and grace.
He brings refreshment from unlikely places like he did for Samson when he needed it.

So when we are hit with the daily challenges of life, remember BUT GOD.

His Beloved Warrior Bride,

Johanna

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Surrender

Pebbles

Pebbles, my 8-year-old rescue dog, hates the sound of wind blowing, trees rustling and wind chimes dancing and singing in the breeze.  It was her fear and trembling that the Lord used to lead me to an answer regarding a serious situation.

Pebbles and I woke up one morning to cloudy skies and heavy wind gusts.  Knowing that she is scared of the wind, I went outside with her in hopes of reassuring her.  She stayed close and darted quickly toward the door to get back in the house.  As soon as I sat down, she jumped into my lap scared and shaking.  I gently covered her up with a blanket and nestled her close to me until her heart quit racing and she calmed down.  While holding her, Rich Mullins’ song, Hold Me Jesus began to play in my head.  “Hold me Jesus, I am shaking like a leaf, you have been King of my Glory, won’t you be my Prince of Peace.”

I pulled the song up on YouTube and began listening to it with tears trickling down my face.  I then broke into sobs when these lyrics were sung. “Surrender don’t come natural to me, I’d rather fight you for something I don’t really want to take what you give I need, and I’ve beat my head against so many walls, Now, I’m falling down, I’m falling on my knees.”

Right after I listened to that song, a YouTube video by Joyce Meyer popped up.  The video was on rejection.  Joyce talked about her decision to make huge changes in her life to the chagrin of many people close to her.  She went forward with the decision knowing it was from the Lord. 

Sometimes God’s reminder for us to surrender everything to Him comes in different ways.  He used a 17-pound mutt who was “shaking like a leaf” to get my attention and lead me on the right path.  I have surrendered it all to him, knowing that, “having been confident of this very thing, that He who did begin in you a good work, will perform it till a day of Jesus Christ.” Phil 1:6 young’s literal translation of the bible.

I am clinging to the words in this song and daily submitting to Him as I walk out this journey. 

The next time you are beating your head over and over again against the wall, perhaps these lyrics and this song will also help guide you to the answers you need.

Hold Me Jesus Lyrics by Rich Mullins.

Sometimes my life just don't make sense at all
When the mountains look so big
And my faith just seems so small

So hold me, Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace?

And I wake up in the night and feel the dark
It's so hot inside my soul
I swear, there must be blisters on my heart

So hold me, Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace?

Surrender don't come natural to me
I'd rather fight You for something I don't really want
To take what You give that I need
And I've beat my head against so many walls
Now, I'm falling down, I'm falling on my knees

And this Salvation Army Band is playing this hymn
And Your grace rings out so deep
It makes my resistance seem so thin

So, hold me, Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace?

I'm singing, hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace?
You've been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace?

His Beloved Warrior Bride,

Johanna
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