answered prayer

Isn’t it amazing when God answers a prayer? Even when we know He can, we know He has, then when He blesses us with another provided need, another confirmation, another open door…wow. How blessed are we?!

This morning, He did that for me. We have always had kids, well, teens or kids our boys’ ages around the house. Even now that both the boys are married and on their own, we end up with “kids” around here randomly.

I can’t make myself NOT call them “kids” even though many of them are moving into their twenties now! Many we have known since they were pre-teens from a former church. Their peers seem to always look up to my boys and so even when we left that church, we kept in touch with those kids who really connected with us.

Some of them have broken our hearts many times. Some have made major turnarounds in their lives. Some have disappointed us but then they have overcome whatever struggle they had and made a good life, a righteous life, for themselves. Then some we have never been able to break through with, never been able to get past their hard hearts, their disbelief in a loving Savior. Those we still pray for and sometimes fret over.

This morning though, one of the boys who really carved out a special place with us all contacted me through Facebook. He’s such a sweet boy but from a rather rough home without Christian parents or other Godly influences in the home. That’s always hard to overcome. We have loved on him, laughed with him, helped him fix broken parts on his vehicle so he could get to work and pleaded with him when he fell back into detrimental things.

prodigal son

He’s been gone, away from us at least, for over a year. He lives in the next town, so we didn’t see him anymore other than an infrequent post on Facebook. Most of those were short rants or photos of him with his middle finger extended with sad eyes looking directly at you. 😦 So heartbreaking for me, but we didn’t push, we didn’t pursue him. We gave him his space realizing he’s an adult now, he’s not actually our child although we have worried and prayed for him as if he was.

This morning… what an answered prayer. He contacted me. With his usual opening line,

“Hey momma.”
Yeah, he’s always called me that. We small talked for a bit, then I asked him

“How are you really?”

Forgive

He’s never been an open book, he won’t share what’s troubling him most without a lot of coercion sometimes. The same was true today, although he did at least tell me that he was really struggling, that he knew he’d been doing wrong and wanted to change things. I immediately texted my husband, the boys and their wives to get them praying right then! I pointed him back to Jesus, when he said he didn’t know what to do or how to start, I told him, “You start with Jesus.”

I went on to say, “I know that sounds simplistic, but it’s true. You have to start with getting back in tune with Him before the rest will ever fall into place.”

Then he said, “I have a question.”

“Shoot,” I told him.

“Are you all mad at me or do you think I’m no good now?”

*deep breath* Bless his heart, I quickly assured him that none of us were mad and we all missed him. I told him he’d always had a special place in my heart, that I worried and prayed for him as if he was my own. I told him I wanted him to go to church with us and he said he wanted to go.

He asked me to pray for him, told me he loved me and missed us all and couldn’t wait to see us again.

*long sigh* I’m just SO relieved! Just as if one of my own sons had come to mend a rift between us. Thank God for His mercy, for keeping him safe all this time, for letting him feel secure enough to reach out to me again.

I can’t wait to see what God’s going to do in his life.

“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
~Mark 11:25

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what’s love got to do with it

*Disclaimer: I always hated that song, even though it was a hit during the peak of my teenage-music-loving days. Read on to see why.

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I was just out of high school when I got married. I wouldn’t change that. I come from a family full of young marriages that have lasted and been good. I believe that stringing out an engagement just because you feel it’s bad to get married “too young” can be dangerous.

Rejoice in the wife of your youth.
Rejoice in the wife of your youth. ~Proverbs 5:8

First of all, if you are engaged then you have this understanding that marriage is in the future. String that out for over a year and you more than likely will end up with the couple “engaging” in premarital sex. Yeah, in case you wondered or hadn’t figured it out yet, I believe premarital sex is wrong. My faith says it’s to be avoided, that it’s a sin.

Now that that’s out of the way…

This is how I see it: intercourse is God’s design. He invented it. So that makes it good. However, it can only be “good” within the confines of His will, which is marriage, a man and a woman. (I’m sorry, if you’ve come here and been shocked by my politically incorrect stance on these things. They are not open for debate on my blog. Thanks for respecting that.)

Marriage prayer
Make my marriage what You want, Lord!

When we pervert that gift, because sex is a gift to man from a loving God, then we set ourselves up for many heartaches and failures. Intercourse is an intimacy unlike any other. It is a physical joining of two bodies that involves all our senses. In this way, it will also include our spiritual selves. So in esscence, we are mingling our very souls with the person we engage with in a sexual relationship.

I’ll assume you can see how serious an issue that can be. Now, inside a marriage, that is a very good, needful, desired thing. A man and woman SHOULD be “joined at the souls” in a marriage. However, when you have sex with just anyone, whoever currently turns your head, lights your fire, whatever, then you are essentially giving away a piece of yourself…of your very soul.

I’m sure some will disagree with this and that’s fine. That mindset is part of why our society views sex the way it does today. It’s “just sex”, it’s not a joining of two people in the deepest, most holy way two humans can connect. (yes, sex was meant to be holy…didn’t you know?)

Two shall become one
(Christian Soulsmates on Instagram)

I can remember sitting in a room full of 5th-7th graders trying to explain this to them. All you could hear if you walked through the group during free time was talk of who was “dating” who and all that nonsense. I flashed back to my own time during that stage of life. I, too, had had boyfriends back then, however, “going with” or “dating” someone back then had a whole different meaning than it does today or did at the time I taught this class on Wednesday nights. Of course, I didn’t talk directly about sex to them, but tried to explain what it meant for them to invest so fully in another person at such a young age.

I’m pretty sure it all went in one ear and out the other…if it made it into the first ear at all!

It broke my heart to watch them give away bits and pieces of themselves and I felt so powerless to do anything. We had them for an hour every week, if that. Many of them were from broken homes and would only make it to church every so often. They had prime examples at home of how to “date” and what people do to and with each other. I am sure some of them were being abused or at least neglected.

virtuous woman

I determined to teach my own sons differently, and even then, the world came along and scarred them anyway.

But I digress…Let me get back to the adultness of the matter. I’m sure that many of you reading this are thinking, “Well this is too little too late. I’ve already been there, done that.” The age when we are introduced to sexual information and material seems to get younger and younger every year. But take heart. If you find any wisdom in my words, if you couple them with what scripture teaches us about this, but you are already engaging in premarital sex, you CAN stop. You can repent. You can ask God’s forgiveness and start over.

Whether you want to do that is another matter, but it IS possible.

I believe that our sexual selves, our virginity, whatever you want to call it at this stage, is a precious, rare gift. It’s meant to be given to the person you commit your life to in marriage. If you view it as such, it becomes much easier to protect it from the damage of casual sex and relationships.

If you see it as the one and only gift you will have to give to your future spouse, and you realize that each time you “give it” to someone else OR EVEN to the person you will eventuall marry, it will be tarnished, torn and worth much less than it would have been if you’d kept it intact.

Now, if you have already gone down that path, if you are currently involved in the sin of fornication/adultery there is hope. God doesn’t look at our pasts or even our current sins and just throw us away because of that. We can repent, which means to turn away from, whatever it is we are doing that’s against God’s will…whether it’s sexual or otherwise. That’s the defining factor in whether or not we’re serious about being right with the Lord in every area of our lives.
sex-repentance

So, let’s talk about it. You can disagree with me, but let’s keep it civil and respectful. Let’s learn more about how God sets these boundaries for our protection and to give us that life abundant!

Blessings,

G~

the good old days

That might not be the best title for this post, but I have a lot on my mind and it has to do with trying to “get back” to the way things once were.

Of course, I know “you can’t go back home” and this isn’t about trying to reverse time either physically or emotionally. This is about rebuilding my spiritual self.

WARNING: it’s about to get real up in here…brutal honesty about myself forthcoming.

More than a decade ago, there was a time when I absolutely LOVED spending time reading my Bible. I would get up at least an hour before everyone else to read and pray and journal. I guess that was maybe the second time I ever read all the way through the Bible, beginning to end. But this time, I took notes. I had a couple of notebooks full of thoughts and scriptures and prayers. I don’t remember what spurred me into this wonderful period of just loving my time with the Lord, but it seems like so long ago and I don’t know how to recreate it again.

Something happened. Somewhere along the line, something just happened. I honestly don’t remember what it was. I don’t know if something happened emotionally that sent me into a tailspin or if it was that I got physically sick and fell out of the routine. I just realized one day that, hey, I used to spend a lot of time in The Word…what happened?

I wish I knew. I have been trying, half-heartedly, I admit, for the past couple of years to get back to that place where I loved spending time reading and learning about Jesus.

Our pastor just did an amazing series of classes, four weeks, on how to have a devotional time and how to pray. Seriously, it was awesome. I had such high hopes that it would kick me into action, but it hasn’t seemed to do that. Even though I learned SO much, it just didn’t seem to do whatever it is that I need to reawaken that desire for The Word.

I don’t know about you, but being saved at the tender age of eight in a small Baptist church in the seventies, I didn’t get a discipleship class. I had never even heard of such a thing until my kids were in their teens! Did they not exist back then? Are they something new that just came to be in the past couple decades? Maybe it was because I grew up in a Christian home? Or maybe our little church just didn’t offer them for some reason? I don’t recall any other people having a time of mentoring and “lessons” about how to be a Christian after they were saved. I often wonder now why that wasn’t just a routine. I mean, even when I was part of larger churches, there were no such ‘classes’ for new Christians.

That’s something my pastor spoke about in his prayer/devotional classes. He said he felt like he’d failed for not thinking to do something like these classes sooner. He spoke of a couple who had spent hours each Friday evening years ago with him and his wife, sharing with them the things he was teaching us. What a blessing that must have been!

Maybe that’s the issue with me right now? Maybe, since I’m in a place where, having been “a Christian”, in church, ‘serving the Lord’ for so many decades now, and I’ve honestly just grown cold, satisfied, complacent…maybe that’s why I’m finding it so hard to rekindle my fire? To regain my thirst for Jesus? Maybe if I had had some training or at least some guidelines when I was a brand new Christian, or even a few years later after I was a bit older, maybe then I would be better at this?

As it is, I feel like a failure. I have to MAKE myself sit down and read my Bible and I feel at a loss for anything to write in my journal and praying? I have never been very good at that.

I learned from my pastor some great tips for how to just pray from scripture though…and how to keep a separate prayer journal or list. How to read scripture, aloud, emphasizing a different word each time. Like this: Genesis 1:1 King James Version says, “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.”

And so, you would read this aloud, giving emphasis to a different word in the verse each time. Try it and see how it draws out the meanings and changes what the scripture says to you. (yes, it’s important to do it out loud…I know, it feels weird, but just try it.)

IN the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.
In THE beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.
In the BEGINNING, God created the heaven and the earth.
In the beginning, GOD created the heaven and the earth.
In the beginning, God CREATED the heaven and the earth.
In the beginning, God created THE heaven and the earth.
In the beginning, God created the HEAVEN and the earth.
In the beginning, God created the heaven AND the earth.
In the beginning, God created the heaven and THE earth.
In the beginning, God created the heaven and the EARTH.

I got so many things out of the classes that are honestly very helpful, but I just don’t seem to be latching onto them or finding any excitement.

He also taught us that doing these things has nothing to do with our feelings. That we should study and pray even when we don’t “feel like it”. So I am trying.

Right now, I have this cool little graphic that I’ve been using. 30 Day Thanksgiving Scripture Writing Plan

Isn’t it awesome? I had never seen or heard of anything like this before. And I’ve started using it, although I sometimes end up doing a couple days’ worth in a sitting, but so far, I’m keeping up with it. I figure if I can’t “feel” the excitement that I used to for God’s word, at least I can write it out each day until I do feel it again.

Is that a good plan? I don’t know. But if you search for “scripture writing plans“, you will find pages like this for each month. I plan to try and keep up with this.

my scripture journal

I just finished writing half of Psalm 136 where every single verse ends with the words “for his mercy endures forever.”

That’s good to know because I sure need it these days. Even if I was enthusiastically devouring scripture, I would still need His mercy every single day.

If you have suggestions or ideas for ways to reignite a hunger for studying God’s word and spending time in prayer, would you share it with me? Let me know if you’ve ever used a writing plan like this or if anything here helped you.

Maybe learning from you or hearing that you are progressing too will help me get back to “the good old days” when I had a deep thirst for God’s word!

I thank you in advance for sharing!

Deuteronomy 31:12“Gather the people together, men and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the Lord your God, and observe to do all the words of this law:”

love, life & how I don’t deserve either

That title though, right?

I know, I know. Super dramatic. I didn’t mean for it to be, but it’s true. None of us deserve anything good that we have.
stay married
As a Christian, I am grateful to God for everything I have. Even things like diabetes and achy, stiff joints, and headaches. Yeah, even those things.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV)
” give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

So okay, I give God all the credit for my life, such as it is. And if it is inferior in any way, that is my own doing. I long to be all that He has planned for me and I know I fail horribly every day.
embrace contentment
I’ve posted about the things going on in my marriage…the physical and emotional struggles that I have faced personally and that my husband and I have overcome together.
long-lasting-marriage
I have been reading lately about the things it takes to make a good marriage, to build a firm foundation for a new marriage, to sustain a strong, lasting marriage.
marriage
I like to think, and at this point in my life I believe, that we DO have a strong marriage. And at thirty years in, I think we can safely say it is a lasting one. I know, I know…longer marriages have ended in the past. But not ours.

After all those years of struggling to stay together, not because of a lack of love, but the inability to be physically close and now…now, we are finally learning how to be a ‘normal’ couple. A couple who isn’t avoiding physical intimacy. A couple who can actually share everything with each other. Now that we’re finally to that point, to realize that God preserved us to this point, I know that He didn’t put us together and preserve us though all this to let us fall apart now.
marriage box
It’s hard to talk to anyone about all this. Even though my therapist at the pelvic health office has been beyond amazing in helping us deal with the physical problems and almost being a ‘counselor’ to help us learn to talk about these things, it’s hard to not have others to talk with, to not really be able to tell anyone about this stuff.

I have spent so much time trying to cover up the fact that there was a problem in our marriage, to hide that there was a void where there should have been deep intimacy. Not joining in conversations and giggly, knowing glances with other wives talking (conservatively!) about loving and being in love with their husbands.

I didn’t understand the way they really desired to physically be with their spouses because for me, that was painful. The fact that it hurt made me want to avoid it at all costs, made me feel like a failure, guilty, damaged and worthless. If I tried to just “grit my teeth” and “bear it” for my husband’s sake, it made him feel bad. It made me feel like I was letting him down. (What husband wants to “make love” to a wife who’s crying and telling him to just hurry?)

Maybe you can see why I have spent most of my adult life in some stage of depression. Sometimes very deep, very dark depression. I wondered for probably those first eight years how long before he’d just leave me. How long before he got sick of it and wanted out? Once when I was desperate enough to actually say as much to him, he let me know he loved me and he didn’t want out of the marriage.
good marriage
I was pretty stunned, but grateful…and then even more depressed. I didn’t deserve him. Later, after nothing had improved and when I got desperate enough again, I told him to go find someone else. As long as no one knew, no…as long as our children never knew (because I just KNEW other people would eventually find out) that he should find someone who could fill that void for him. Someone who wouldn’t wince and cry with pain. Someone he could actually enjoy. But we would stay together for the boys and I wouldn’t begrudge him having another woman who wasn’t damaged like me.

Looking back now, I am SO SO SO thankful to God that he never took me up on that offer. Most any other man would have done it gladly I think. If he had sought physical companionship with someone else, there would have never been any healing between us. We could have never got to the place we are now, where we’re able to be a “regular” married couple, where I could be unafraid of physical contact with the man I love most in the world. This place where we are learning to heal from the last three decades of hurt, confusion, fear and depression.
marriage-on-Christ
God apparently had a plan. If we had “fixed it” our own way, how much we would have destroyed. Much the same way that Sarah and Abraham messed up God’s perfect plan (to make a nation of Abraham’s children…when he and Sarah had reached almost 100 years of age without bearing one single child) [See Genesis 18]

When Sarah chose to not believe God when He told them Sarah herself would give birth, she and Abraham decided to “help” God with Sarah’s idea to give one of her servants to him so she could “give them a child”.

Okay, now if you’re not familiar with Scripture, all this is sounding pretty far out to you. Just trust me that back in the first century, things were a little different. People had servants and polygamy was common. While Abraham just had the one wife, it was common to make concubines of servants. The prevalent reasoning was that large families with lots of sons were necessary to maintain farms and businesses and multiple wives were needed to bear all those children.

I know. Seriously, it sounds so barbaric, doesn’t it? So foreign! But even though it was NOT in God’s plan for men to take more than one wife, as usual, mankind does what it wants and God, in His mercy, works with that.

In this case, if you will read the story, you’ll find that Sarah’s “plan” was “a success”…at least by their standards, and the slave girl, Hagar, bore Abraham a son. However, God’s plan was NOT to create His nation from Hagar’s son, Ishmael, so in a few years, Sarah did indeed bare a son by Abraham. When you read the conflict that came from this tense, at-least-awkward situation and how it has ultimately affected the world, you’ll see that while God will mercifully work through the messes we make when we jack with His plans, He does not wipe out the consequences of the jacked plans.

Our world is today, several thousand years later, paying for the “plans” of Sarah and Abraham. Nevertheless, God remained true to His plan to make Abraham the “father” of His chosen people-nation.

So as I ramble through these thoughts, I am reminded that God doesn’t toss us out with the mess we make of His plan when we think we know better. He wipes off the dirt we wallowed in and sets us back on His path. He brings His plans to fruition, in spite of our meddling and gives us strength to cope with the aftereffects of what we’ve done.
bravest thing I ever did was continue to live when I wanted to die
I’m thankful to Him that my husband and I didn’t mess things up any worse than we did trying to wait for His conclusion in our marriage. We have a lot of healing to do because of our ways of “coping” all these years. How grateful I am that infidelity is not one of the things we have to deal with!

My parting thought for you is this…don’t give up. Don’t throw in the towel. If God can preserve a marriage like mine, He can save or rebuild yours. If you believe that He is the Almighty, do not discount His power in your marriage!

God’s got a plan. Try to stay out of His way!

Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

taking on the taboo

I’ve had a couple of discussions about it in the past couple days. I saw several posts and vlogs about it lately. I know many people who suffer with, from and through it. Heaven knows I have dealt with it enough myself.

So let’s just discuss it. I feel like maybe I’m supposed to speak about it.

Maybe you’ve figured out by now I’m talking about depression. Sadly, even in the 21st century, it’s still a taboo subject. It’s still cause for shame or at least embarrassment in America.

depressed2

I’ve shared here and other places online about my own struggles with depression. I have had discussions publicly and via private message with people about it.

[DISCLAIMER: I’m not dispensing clinical advice to you or recommending you do a particular thing. I am just sharing MY experiences, MY “what works for me”, MY findings while researching the problem. You do what’s best for you, seek professional advice first and BE WELL!]

My motives are pretty simple and very straightforward. I think it’s important for people to be aware of depression…of the signs and symptoms, of the treatments, of the facts that there are many of us who suffer with it and how it would surprise you to find out how many of your friends, family and acquaintances are living with it right now.

First let’s look at what depression actually is and what it isn’t. What I have is referred to as “clinical depression” and it’s what many of the folks who have reached out to me also deal with.

    [NOTE: Please make use of the many links I have put in this post. (the first one is in the previous paragraph!) If you don’t live with depression yourself, at least be educated enough to understand and help those around you who are living with it. I guarantee you there are more than you’d think.]

Clinical depression is that “black cloud” that sticks with you. It’s a “sadness” that you can’t explain or shake. I find that the best way to explain it to those who don’t understand is that I KNOW without a doubt I have MUCH to be thankful for,
I K-N-O-W it. But I can’t make myself be happy. And it’s not that I’m overtly sad or anxious. It’s just an indescribable inertness, if you will. A complete lack of energy, or perhaps an inability, to feel joy.

Depression

If you read all through the link for clinical (or major) depression (and I urge you to!) then you’ll see it lists the symptoms and then states “when it’s not caused by a medical condition or medication” and that’s where I depart from the medical book, as I usually do. (ha) I DO have medical conditions that can cause those symptoms. I even have a chronic disease which makes me much more susceptible to being depressed. (diabetes, to name just one) so I don’t fit “neatly” into a particular diagnosis. Lots of us don’t and that’s okay as long as you have a medical professional who can deal with that.

There are currently several types of depression recognized by the medical community. Some of these you’ve probably heard of, like “clinical depression”, “major depression”, “postpartum depression”, even PMS has its own depression called “Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder”! That last link will take you to webmd.com’s list of these with links to more info on each of them. I’m not sure how valid some of these are, but perhaps medicine is just trying to give a name to the things we deal with all the time but never know what to call it. (for instance, on the list is “situational depression”…who on this earth hasn’t experienced that before? I’m not sure the emotions tied to various temporary events deserves a medical diagnosis, but that’s fodder for another post, right?–HA!)

Let me say that I don’t want to “push” depression and make it like so many things these days, cool or in any way desirable or something to be envied. That doesn’t make much sense I guess, but stick with me while I try to explain… Like so many things in our society, people try to put labels on various people and behaviors. Sometimes to make them ‘hip’ or whatever, sometimes to make them seem acceptable. (first thing that comes to mind is how ADD became a buzz-diagnosis so quickly and then, even though it can be a genuine problem for some people, it soon became the go-to excuse for not doing your work, not being dependable or responsible, etc., etc.) I don’t want to do that here. Depression is serious. It can be life-threatening at its worst, debilitating or at its very best, it can make living feel like a burden. So it’s not something to be trifled with in any way. I guess I just don’t want to come across as if I’m just tossing the word around and diminish the real significance of the disease.

Okay, so here, I want to share with you a video by a pastor I’ve met a time or two that I really admire. For one, he’s now an avid cyclist. (Seriously, the man’s a beast on a bike!) For two, he’s an honest-to-goodness Bible-believing man of God who isn’t afraid to speak truth. For three, he’s a loving husband and father and he also suffers from depression. I already like him, but after he posted this video on Facebook, I admired him even more. See for yourself as someone with a position of leadership and somewhat notoriety goes very public with how he struggled with and then overcame the monster that is depression: Pastor Greg Locke on Overcoming Depression

As you might guess, one of the reasons I so love this video is that he says cycling helped with his depression. Of course, not everyone can jump into this the way he did. Since I’ve been watching him for years now, I can tell you that he first got “into” bike riding when he went to the Goodwill and got a bike to ride in a charity ride. From there, apparently, he was hooked. He has since done a 3,000+ mile ride (IN TEN, that’s 10, one-zero, T-E-N DAYS!!) to the Pacific shore and also the Tour Divide, an unsupported mountain bike ride from Canada to Mexico! He’s a beast, I tell you!

I don’t foresee myself ever doing such amazing bike rides, and that’s okay. I have impressed myself enough with the longer rides I have been able to do. I’m just happy to be getting out and being active because before cycling, I was pretty much a couch potato. A long day of errands was about as much activity as this ol’ gal ever got! So, praise God that I have this activity to get me moving and inching toward better health!

Okay, back to the topic at hand. I hope you watched Greg’s video. Part of what was SO encouraging to me was the discovery that someone who seemed so alive, so interactive, so “with it” would have a problem with depression. It was like LIFE-GIVING to realize that he KNEW what it felt like, knew how it felt when someone says to you, “Just snap out of it. Just trust the Lord. Just read your Bible more.” When it was all you could do just to get out of bed in the morning, IF you even did that!

And I guess that’s the most important thing I want to do with this post. I want YOU to know that *I* KNOW. If you never meet another soul who understands depression, know this… you’ve stumbled across this minuscule spot on the web, this unknown web address to this post because God wanted you to know that you are not alone. Let’s face it, that’s the only way you’d have ended up here! Ha!

Maybe, if you happen to know me in real-life or you’ve read other posts here, maybe you never imagined that I have depression. Once you start being open about it, researching and talking to others, you will find that many of us who suffer from chronic clinical depression can be the funniest, goofiest, seemingly-up-beatest (Ha!) people you know. Here’s the thing.. it’s easy to fake it for a few hours. At least most of the time. So don’t assume that someone who’s always cracking jokes and smiling could never understand depression. Often, it’s a way to cope. That doesn’t mean we’re not genuinely funny or goofy, it’s just that that part of us isn’t the strongest during the dark-cloud times and so we relish our time of being able to laugh and make others laugh, because once that’s over, the cloud is back. At least that’s how depression is for me.

Y’know, you’d think that for those of us who cope that way, since it does feel so much better to be with a few people laughing it up we would seek that out, but in reality it finally becomes too hard. It gets to be too much effort to drag myself out to be with people, to even want to be with people. The devil and my own dark place will start to tell me no one really wants to be with me. They will just wonder what’s wrong with me…why am I so pale, why don’t I have any makeup on, why am I not talking as much, etc. Then there’s the whole monologue that goes, “You’d need to shower and fix your hair. You don’t have the energy for that. It’ll be too hard to smile enough or to ‘be your usual self’ and they’ll know something’s wrong. They will think you’re weird or sick or they’ll just wish you hadn’t come. What if it gets too hard to try and you burst out in tears. You can’t let them see you cry, and you’ll probably cry. No, just stay home. It’s easier that way.”

Only a few short months ago, that conversation played routinely in my head. I stopped going to the get-togethers with some of the most dear friends I have. I’m sure they knew something was up, but I couldn’t bring myself to just say, “Hey guys? I’m hurting. I’m in a bad spot. Nothing physical, no one in my family is terminal or has died, I just feel like crud and I can’t smile anymore. Pray for me. Tolerate me if I come around– encourage me to come around because it’s entirely too easy to convince myself not to!!”

I finally just had to come clean with them. Some of the reasons were deeply personal, so it was hard to even speak them out loud. Secrets in my marriage that were decades old, but they had contributed hugely to the massive black hole I was in and at that time, I had decided to confront and seek help for that and it had stirred up all kinds of ugly. It was HARD to tell my closest friends where I was and how bad I was hurting. They still probably don’t entirely understand, but at least they have an idea now and when I say that I’m feeling “dark” and need some prayer, they are on it. They don’t hesitate to check on me and encourage me, to ask questions which are not comfortable, not convenient to ask.

So I guess my next suggestion or bit of advice for you is this…get, find or make yourself some good friends. At least one. They don’t have to be people you talk to every day or even every week. It doesn’t have to be the person you do everything with (when you DO go do something)… It just needs to be someone you can count on to see through your hiding, your coping methods. Someone who will confront you when you have slipped into dark mode.
don't give up
One last thing, there’s something even more taboo than depression and that’s suicide and having suicidal thoughts during a deeply depressed cycle. I won’t lie to you. I have been there. I’ve said before, I’m thankful to have my faith in God because I truly believe that’s the only thing that kept me from attempting to end myself years ago when the idea came to me often.

I now know that a permanent solution to a temporary problem is never the answer. It took growing in my faith and becoming solidly convinced that I am worth something to God and even when I feel I’m not worth anything to anyone, not even myself, I have to trust that God’s got a purpose for me being here. A lot of the lies I tell myself are that my family would be better off, my husband could find someone without my problems, who he wouldn’t have to worry about or care for, take to countless doctors or wake from a dead sleep to feed through a low blood sugar, who wasn’t so self-doubting that I paralyze myself and need him to make the simplest decisions… I think my kids could live without wondering if their mother is crazy, without her words that come out so carelessly unintentionally causing pain to them and the ones they love. Even when those quite loud thoughts are going through my mind every single day repeatedly, I can remind myself that God has a purpose. I don’t have to know what it is because He does. I just have to trust Him.
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That kinda takes the pressure off me. *ha* So if you don’t know Jesus, I urge you to learn about Him and trust Him with your life. He will keep you safe if you will just trust Him. He’s the best friend and ally against depression I can recommend to you. He may not choose to deliver you out of the dark hole, but He will be with you in it and make you strong enough to endure it.

Hebrews 13:5“…for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.””

30 whole years!

Okay y’all… you’ll have to extend some grace here.  I had my 30th wedding anniversary last week and I’m just now posting about it!

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Yes, we were just babies in 1985.

There have been times, over the years, that it wouldn’t have taken much for either of us to just walk away.  It’s been hard at times.  There have also been amazing, awesome, wonderful times, of course.  But those storms when it seems there’s no chance of escaping in one piece can shake you to the core.

But God…  If not for having Him in our lives and in our marriage, we surely would not have made it for thirty years.  Of course, we can do nothing on our own, but we like to think we can.  We so easily forget that it’s only by the will of God that we even breathe let alone move, think, walk and talk.

I’m so thankful that He intervened so many times in our marriage.  I have always felt really glad that both Hubby and I had intact families (neither of our parental units have divorced) and have two examples of half-century marriages to look to, although… *giggle* our marriage looks nothing like either of theirs.

And we don’t want it to!  We exchange knowing looks of agreement when either set of our parents are doing something we find annoying and we’ll laugh or commiserate later that we’re SO glad we don’t “___whatever___” like they do.  I’m sure our kids have the same feelings about us and I guess that’s how life is.

We make our own lives and our own favorite ways of being a couple.

Speaking of the kids, July has become Anniversary Month around here.  Our oldest son and his wife

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wedding-smiles

celebrated seven years of marriage the week before our 30th anniversary, after which our youngest son & his wife

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had their first-ever anniversary!  Yep, all within three weeks.

I’m not sure how that happened, but I think it’s kinda cool.  And convenient too in that none of us can quite forget any of the others’ anniversaries.  Ha ha!

I have to admit…I was feeling pretty bummed that we didn’t have any kind of “real” celebration for our 30th though.  I mean, that’s supposed to be some kind of milestone, isn’t it?  I sure don’t know many couples our age who have been married even half this long.  I remember having “dreams” if you will, of being able to take a cruise for our 25th anniversary, but that didn’t happen.  Not for lack of wanting on either of our parts, but for lack of funds?  You betcha.  So five years ago, we plunked down a chunk on a room for the night way high on this mountain, and it was awesome.

It just would have been more awesome if I hadn’t worried about money the whole time.  *sigh*  And here we were five years later, and once again, absolutely no funds for any kind of get-away or even a room for the night somewhere.

I was getting really bummed.  We talked about maybe going to do the Virginia Creeper trail, which is a cycling thing, and that would have been great, but the drive was so long that we’d have been killed to have driven there, ride the trail and then drive back home in one day, so we didn’t even attempt it rather than go and not enjoy it.

After having to replace our air conditioner system (lighting hit it) and then just the week before our anniversary, our water heater broke, saturating the carpet in our bedroom and adding another big expense we couldn’t afford… we just didn’t have any extra money for anything big.

I had spent the week being really sad over it to the point I just didn’t want to do anything.  However, the day arrived, a Sunday, and my best friend from high school, who I hadn’t seen in probably 10 or more years, who has recently moved back here with her newly-adopted TWO YEAR OLD son!!!  She was coming to our church and wanted to see if we could meet and at least sit together.  Of all days for this to happen, on our 30th anniversary had to be a “God thing” because this sweet lady was my one and only “bridal party”..my maid of honor!!!  How cool is that??

So, we got to meet her adorable little guy, visit for a bit, then we took off.  We’d gotten a coupon for a free appetizer at a restaurant we like, but there’s not one near us, so before I even knew what he was doing, Hubby was on the interstate and all he’d say was we were going to eat.

We drove 100 miles away, found the restaurant and had a great meal.  By this time, God had worked on my sour attitude and I was just enjoying time with my husband of 30 whole years.  I began to think about how hard-working and caring he is.  How he’s encouraged me to try harder and do more than I ever would have attempted myself.

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Later, we stopped in a couple of surplus home goods stores and bought a few little items, found a gorgeous duvet cover with shams for our king size bed for just $18!!  Then we walked through the other place, that was more for builders I guess.. it had furniture and decor and we saw some gorgeous items that gave us some inspirations for future improvements on the house.

Then we went to a couple of health food stores and he helped me pick out meals for the coming week.  His request, saying “since it’s our anniversary”… LOL! is for me to start eating better.

*sigh*

Well, okay.  So, we ended the day at Whole Foods, where we ate a slice of “wholesome” pizza and drank his ever bottle of kombucha tea (which I’ve been thinking about attempting to brew myself)kombucha-WF

and then stopped at the Walmart at home to pick up some batteries we needed and I bought us a selfie stick.  See?

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This is the photo I sent to the kids showing them how techno-savvy their parents are.  HAHAHA!!

And so, our 30th anniversary came and went and left me with a sense of satisfaction.  I am sad that I’ve wasted so many years being dissatisfied with things, life, people, myself… but I am doing my best to change things now.

And I’m looking forward to reaching our 50th anniversary and yes, still hoping we might have a bit bigger celebration by that time.  But if not, I know that’ll be okay too.

We have each other and we’re happy.  That’s enough.

Philippians 4:11-12Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”

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About the first week of May, while we were out of town for Hubby’s conference, lightning must have hit our air conditioner unit. We wouldn’t have realized it was lightning except our son’s renter called to say his central air unit wasn’t working either.

We got a guy to come and look at it. The compressor had been basically fried. Hubby brought up the possibility that it had been caused by lightning and the guy agreed, but wouldn’t put it on the estimate/diagnosis because there was no way to prove it.

It was then a matter of Hubby struggling about whether we should file it with our home owner’s insurance. It was a little infuriating to me. It seemed clearly something we should file! I love my hubby, but he can be super irritating when it comes to things like this because he’ll analyze it to death, worrying over minute things. He asked I don’t know how many of his friends whether they would file it or not. FINALLY, I got it through to him that we pay our premiums to cover damages like this! We filed the claim and set about getting estimates for replacement. The unit was so old it wasn’t feasable to repair the compressor. We had a friend from church come to look it over and got the price. We have a $1000 deductible so we started looking at how we could come up with that amount of money, thinking we could sell our old four-wheeler and get it. We decided that we’d get some more estimates so we could be sure to get as much to cover the replacement as we could. The next estimate we got was almost $2000 over the first estimate. Hubby tried to get a third estimate from the only other heat and air place in town that we hadn’t dealt with before (because the one we’d had install the unit originally did a horrific job, plus sent an incompetent guy to do a repair once) but the guy at that place apparently was just too busy to even give an estimate. It took almost four more days to get back up with the guy only to be told nope, he still didn’t have time to write up a price to install a new unit. (GAH!) He ended up going to the one place we didn’t want to deal with, and they gave an estimate of about a thousand less than the original.

We’d already sent in the first two estimates and since it was beginning to get hot without air, so the guy at the insurance company, wanting to settle quickly, estimated the two, waived the devaluation for the old unit and cut us a check that completely covered the installation of the unit in the first estimate.

God’s so good! However, Hubby had had the friend price an add-on, a duel fuel system that would switch to gas heat when the temps fall to a certain level when the electric heat pump is just not effective. That was going to cost several hundred dollars more, but our friend told us he would go ahead with the duel fuel unit and we could work out the rest of the costs.

That’s scary to me, but we still have the four-wheeler to sell if we need to, but just last night, we were able finally sell my old bicycle after trying for over two months! We got half what we paid for it, so that was great and put us that much closer to having the money to finish paying for this unit!

So now we have our awesome new air conditioner unit up and running. The house is no longer getting up to over 85 degrees during the day while the temps outside soar to over 90, not to mention what that actually FEELS like. I found out quickly that I have grown accustomed to the house being at a higher temperature than any time in the history of me. I have always been naturally a very “hot-natured” person. Back before my thyroid issue was diagnosed, it wasn’t unusual for me to be in a t-shirt in the dead of winter. I was always “too hot” and sweating. It was annoying and I always hated how easily I would feel overheated.

Now, though, I find myself feeling chilled any time we are anywhere besides the house. When they set up the unit, they set the thermostat to about 68 degrees. It wasn’t too long before I was getting chilly and turned it up to 70. Within about 4 hours, the house had been cooled, meaning the very walls and floors, et cetera, were finally cooled down so the house could begin maintaining a comfortable temperature. It wasn’t long before I turned it up to 72, then finally, after a few more adjustments, I got comfortable at 75.

That’s where the thing is set now and unless I just get super-active or exercise or something, I am completely comfortable at that temperature.

It got me to thinking that while my body becoming tempered to be comfortable with higher temperatures, that was exactly how we are with sin.

Look around. I never cease to be shocked when I am out somewhere, at a motel or some office and I see cable TV… because we don’t have cable, the commercials and news and the content of the programs always seems to shock me. The filth that spews from the screen is just sickening. I will venture to check out a new series on Hulu occasionally, and in an episode or two, sometimes within the pilot, I am slapped in the face with some terribly offensive scene, more nudity, more vulgarity, more cursing… the world is constantly allowing more. I used to get so frustrated when watching a decent program and some smutty commercial would come on. Now it’s all just filthy.

And don’t get me wrong, I know sadly, that I compromise far too much and far too often in what I will rationalize to be “okay to watch”. I try to be cautious, but I know I fail hugely.

So I guess it’s even more surprising that I even get shocked. It makes me think, “Gee-oh! If THIS is so shocking and offensive to me, what does God think?? What does He think of what I don’t find so overly shocking and offensive?” Then I get really sad and angry with myself. I know, I KNOW I let Him down much too often. There are times when I am surprised by what some of my friends watch and enjoy on TV, thinking “Oh MY! They watch THAT?” then immediately the Holy Spirit will whisper And what do YOU watch, Geannie? *sob*

So, while my becoming comfortable with the heat in my house during our 6+ weeks without air conditioning was a good thing, when that happens with our minds and hearts and the things offered as entertainment or as ‘normal life’ by the world, it is anything but good.

Be careful to what you allow yourself to become tempered!

Philipians 4:8 KJV“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Proverbs 4:23 NLT“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”

a new thing…

Not to the exclusion of the old thing, just in addition to it.

Heart to Heart Too blog.

This blog is a collaboration of the ladies in my Emmaus reunion group, a sort-of small- or accountability group of ladies in the area who have been on an Emmaus walk. There are only about 7 of us who semi-regularly attend. We are stretched out over a large geographic area, so it’s not as easy to get together as it would be if we all lived in the same county, but we are hoping through this blog, we can accomplish several things.

We can express what God’s showing and teaching us, hopefully in a way that will also help others. We can discharge some of our creative writing tendencies or exercise those with the hope of growing them further. And we can keep in touch with each other even when we can’t get together.

Go check it out. I happened to get the honor (or maybe it was a punishment? HAHA!) of being the first to publish a post. It’s harder to write when you have some parameters to meet. Unlike when I just get on here and verbally slobber all over you. *pththt*

I can’t wait to see what the other ladies come up with in the future!

Go. Read. Enjoy. And share!

Exodus 34:27“And the Lord said to Moses, “Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.”