A Distressing Spirit

1 Samuel 16:14 says “But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the Lord troubled him.”  v 23 also speaks of this distressing spirit and says, again, that it was “from the Lord”.  Several times in 1 Samuel we see that this spirit was distressing and also “from the Lord”.

It makes me wonder more about depression.  Obviously Saul had issues that led to his falling out of the Lord’s favor.  It’s interesting to me, however, to think about depression coming to someone specifically from the Lord.

How can we understand why the Lord would purposefully make someone depressed?

Depression is a horrible way of living.  I can only say this because I recognize that in recent years, there have been times in my own life where depression was obviously present.

Not wanting to get out of bed, the inability to make a decision, and just the mere thought of never finding happiness and joy again was enough to change my life in ways I never thought possible.  I never got to the point of giving up completely, however, I will say that I was in a very unhealthy place and it was affecting me greatly.

Day after day, I poured my heart to the Lord asking for His help.  I hated the sureness of waking up everyday to yet more life drama, and yet more depression.  Life was spiraling out of control and I had no way of stopping it.  I was absolutely helpless, and therefore, absolutely unproductive.

Depression costs.  Relationships suffered.  Day to day activities fell by the wayside.  I didn’t care anymore.  I didn’t feel anything but sadness and grief.  I even had to give up homeschooling for a while because I knew I couldn’t deal with normal day-to-day stresses and it was affecting my kids.

Several times I considered seeking medical help hoping that maybe a pill or two a day would lift this burden for me, if even for only a few hours.  It did seriously feel like that commercial where the cartoonish depressed character walks about with a huge cloud lingering over her head!  However I knew, that for me, a chemically masked joy would not solve the problem.

It wasn’t until I began to forcefully, physically and painfully give up myself to the Lord that I began to feel better.  I realized that nothing in this world is within my control anyway.  Even at the deepest, darkest depths of worry and anxiety, the Lord carries us all within His grasp.  This thing called “depression” is only there when we allow it to be…

…or perhaps when the Lord needs it to be.

Like Saul, I too, was fallen.  I had created my little world of picket fences and a Cleaver family.  Despite what heartaches I had felt growing up, I had not yet really understood the bigger picture.

Life is not what I make it.  It belongs to the Lord.  Everything belongs to Him (and I mean everything AND everybody!).

I cannot dictate someone’s response to the Lord.  I cannot control today, the next five minutes, or even the next week.  My husband and children do not belong to me.  Their lives and their will cannot be fully lived out in the order and ways I have dreamed of.

I don’t even fully know myself!  Just when I think I’m understanding the woman I am supposed to be, the Lord shows me there is always a need for change and I will never be perfected until I physically sit in His presence away from this flawed world.

The Lord used the depression to break me.  My life, my spirit, my plans, my understanding all crashed to a halt when He used the “distressing spirit” to bring me back to Him in ways I never thought possible.  I was completely humbled.  I couldn’t even speak.

In that instant, there was a flicker of joy again.  Not a big explosion, but just a flicker….a reminder that He still loves me and really, really cares.

Over time, the flicker is returning to a flame.  I know my will has been broken.  It was done for a good reason, as Romans 8:28 says, and though I am not fully complete in it, I am finding more reasons to smile these days.

Depression is a silent threat.  Unless they are walking in our shoes, people don’t necessarily relate with a depressed person.  We don’t talk about it……or sometimes we CAN’T talk about it because we just don’t know what to say.

Sometimes we SCREAM of our misery and frantically look for a way to live again, but our inability to rationalize the thoughts of what we’re feeling is does not make a connection with the “happy-go-luckys” in our life.

Before you really start getting concerned about me, I want to interject here that I am better, lol.  Yes, there were times that I wondered who would be the first to cinch up my straight jacket, but I am “happy” 😉 to say that it can stay on the hanger for a while longer!

I wanted to share my story now only because I never could have done it before.

Depression hurts, and I understand now.

These days, I smile a bit more.  Recently, a friend and I laughed until I cried.  With another friend, I have even cried until I laughed!

I’m learning to recognize the symptoms of approaching depression and quickly run back to the Lord for help before it returns.

Sometimes I have to just. not. think. — turning my back to concerning situations in order to remember that it’s not my war to wage.

If you are suffering from depression, please know that it can actually be something useful…..a process, perhaps, of cleansing and reconnection.  It may be a long time coming, but if you will call on the Lord and release the hold of your own life, He can and will heal you, as He is doing for me.

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Argh! I’m behind!

I feel it….

That sinking feeling that tells me I’m getting further and further behind!

It all started a week ago.  I got a few days behind but convinced myself I could catch up.  Then a few more days “happened”, and yet I still thought I could catch up.

Now, I’m pretty much a week behind on the reading schedule and wondering if this is the point that I slowly sink under water never to return again?!

I don’t want it to happen, but I know it does.  Somebody do something!  Stop the madness of our schedule for me, please!!

{raising 3 fingers slowly as I go down….}

1,……..

2,…….

………….

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I Have A Confession

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When the boys have choir practice, I love to sit in the parking lot with a glass of tea and my bible.

I hear only the wind, a few cars, and the occasional Forney train. Ahhhhhhh!

How’s everybody doing? I am a few days behind but this little piece of quiet heaven should take care of that!

Keep on keepin’ on 🙂

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As for Me and My House

Some of the last words from Joshua: “Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt.  Serve the Lord!  And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.  But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  Joshua 24:14-15

If you are reading the Chronological plan, these are the words you will see today.  As I thought about them, it reminded me of how many “things” we let into our house.  Good and bad, these things affect our lives in ways we don’t often stop to consider.

We invite them through our front door, and allow them to sit at our dinner table.

They implant their ways into the seats of our chairs and begin to get comfortable.

We share a movie with them, feed them meals, and often spend hours just failing to recognize their subtle changes and the way they begin to affect our families.

Our children are allowed to play with them.  They are many times unrecognized, yet a very present force within our world.

When these things present themselves in unpleasing manners, we often overlook, or ignore, or excuse…..even justify as the occasion is needed.

We “accept”.  We “co-exist”.  We begin to forget that these “things” aren’t of the Lord, because “times have changed”.  We practice non-judgment, non-confrontational, and silent speech.  We convince ourselves that “things” don’t matter, and that we and our families are strong enough to live WITH the things, yet not be OF them.

Yes, I’m talking about aLOT of things:  Some big things, some little things, some blatant things, some not-so-obvious things.  Things that are on the levels of our children.  Things that are saved for our eyes only.  A little slip, a little fall, a word here or there.  A rating, a commercial, a moment of distraction.  A lazy thing, a prideful thing, a thing hung on the wall.

These “things” can come in lots of forms, shapes, and sizes.  They can be only audible, or they can also be visibly displayed.  Many of these things like to even come in disguise, just so we won’t recognize the “thing” they really are!

Things distract us and dig their heels into our lives.  They infectiously affect us.

Much later than when the “thing” arrived, we realize the damage has been done, and weren’t vigilant!  We become numb.

These verses from Joshua remind me to stay vigilant against “things”.

We have to make a stand.  Write it on our doorstep.  Hang it on our walls.  Consider every “thing” that rings our doorbell:

As for Me and My House, We will serve the Lord

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Be Encouraged Friends!

Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.  Joshua 1:9 

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Mum’s the word

Hi there!  Me again……your fearless accountability leader wondering where everyone is this week?!  I know some of you are dealing with sickness in the family, and life, well….life is just so so busy!!

Let me encourage you to stay in the word, though.  satan wants nothing more than to convince you this commitment is impossible.  He wants you to give into the tiresome load of life.  He would love it if you felt you were too far behind in your reading to catch up, and he would really love it if you never post on this blog….because when you do comment, he  knows that it will receive a response from your brothers and sisters in Christ who know how you are feeling.  He knows that you will be encouraged to keep reading, and finally he knows that you will be sparked through fellowship with other believers to keep going!

Our group started with 13 people on Facebook.  Now, after being asked to create this blog, I am wondering if it was a good idea or not?  So many have disappeared without even a word.  Is it because the blog is harder to read than Facebook?  If so, I am not opposed to those who want to do something different.  Maybe people have just dropped out because they don’t feel like they can do it, or maybe there’s another explanation?

Whatever the reason is, please be encouraged to keep participating!  We need each other to stay committed.

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Only Paper and a Pen

Don’t you remember your high school teacher saying those words just as you entered the room?! 

“Take everything off your desk.  You will only need this paper and a pen because today is QUIZ DAY!!” 

(At that point is when we all started to panic, lol!)  You then turn over the paper and begin to read the questions: 

During which book did Moses build the ark? 

On what day did the serpent eat the apple? 

Why did Abram’s wife turn to salt?

Hmmmm……something’s a little wrong here, don’t you think?!

We’ve been reading for 8 weeks now and though lately we’ve endured long descriptive details about the tabernacle and sacrifices, there have been many other details that may be getting lost!  I thought it would be fun to do a little review and see what we could remember.

The following statements have been scrambled.  If you choose to accept this mission, take some time to put them in order and then post your results in the form of a comment.  (Just list the letters in the order you think they should be.  No cheating!  Don’t use your bible to look back before posting your answers!  This is not an open book test, Bwa ha ha haaaaaa!)

I will post the correct answers on Wednesday of this week.  If you know group members who don’t check the blog very often, please send a message (or post a link to this) via Facebook or email.

Here’s the list:

A.  Frogs plague the land of Egypt.

B.  Isaac is born.

C.  The coming of Jesus is foretold as the serpent is cursed.

D.  Instructions for the Feasts are given.

E.  Instructions for Offerings are given.

F.  Instructions for Tabernacle are given.

G.  Creation.

H.  Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed.

I.  Lice plagues the land of Egypt.

J.  Moses reviews the events of the Israelites leaving Egypt, their wanderings, and arrival at the Jordan.

K.  Jacob receives his father’s blessing.

L.  Joseph is sold into slavery by his brothers.

M.  Noah’s Ark.

N.  The first Census is taken.

O.  The Ten Commandments are given.

P.  Abram becomes “Abraham”.

Q.  Jacob becomes “Israel”.

R.  Balaam’s donkey talks.

S.  God provides manna for the Israelites for the first time.

T.  Moses is rescued by Pharoah’s daughter.

U.  Moses and Aaron are sent to tell Pharoah to let the Israelites go.

 

Yes, I know…..it’s a little hard….but we all like a good challenge, don’t we? 😉

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Check This Out!

Hi Everyone!  I had a moment today that led me to Hebrews.  You may have already read this before too, but I really want to encourage everyone on the Chronological plan to stop what you are doing and read:

Hebrews, Chapters 8, 9, and 10

While the OT Tabernacle and sacrifice requirements are fresh on our mind, I think it’s relative to read of it in the NT and the explanations of it all as Jesus came to earth, died and rose again.

Why did the first covenant require so much detail in sacrifices?  Why have a convenant that seemed virtually impossible to keep?

“For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second.”Hebrews 8:7

Very interesting!  “…THEN NO PLACE WOULD HAVE BEEN SOUGHT FOR A SECOND”  Exactly!  In the first covenant, there was so much for people to do in order to be sanctified.  Every unholy action, every unholy thought required sacrifice, specifically carried out to such great detail.  There was so much to do, it just was humanly impossible to meet the requirements.  Even when the most humble, God-fearing OT Israelite attempted to follow the law, the bible reveals unintentional sin that the priests were required to make sacrifices for.

But this is the problem….we see the first covenant requirements through human eyes.  We question the craziness of killing animals, and spreading blood in a certain manner.  We can’t begin to understand why it was necessary to work through the holy “checklist” of preparations and actions they were instructed to take before coming before the Lord.  We see the world through human eyes.  We are human.  God is not.

God established the first law not to set us up for failure, but rather instead to help us see our depravity.  If we had not seen with our own human eyes how hard it was to make ourselves holy and sanctified, then we could not have begun to understand the need for a Savior.

The first covenant was established to help us see the need for a second one:

For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect.”  Hebrews 10:1

“But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.” Hebrews 10:3

Jesus was in the OT law — the fulfillment of it like no other could do.  The Israelites just didn’t know it then.  They were too busy trying to please themselves and grumbling about manna!

As you may already know, the bible’s central theme is “Jesus”.

“He takes away the first that He may establish the second.  By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”  Hebrews 10:9b-10

“And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.  But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.  For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”Hebrews 10:11-14

There is more that will excite you as you read through chapters 8, 9, and 10 in Hebrews, but these verses really stuck out to me.  Jesus does not just enter our reading in Matthew, He was present in creation, and all through the Old Testament.

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Cupcake Party?

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A day in the life….

Just to be real … This is sampling of how my reading goes.

I woke this morning to the rest of the family already up and in full force. “Star Wars” was blaring on the television in the living room. One son was doing some online window shopping on the laptop. Sister was entertaining the granddaughter with breakfast and doing school work on her computer at the dining room table.

This was my chance!  I quickly made some breakfast, grabbed a cup of coffee, and retreated to my room with the door shut!

Sitting at the desk, opening my bible, I started devouring Numbers, eggs and french vanilla coffee goodness.  Ahhhhhhh! Then the door opens, and in comes the little one.

“Hi Gwa-maw!”

Oh wow, how she steals my heart (and my focus)!  We play hide and seek, “jumpy jumpy”, and “I’m gonna’ GET you”! Before long, 15 minutes or so had passed.

Second attempt: Must. Read.   Got my focus back on, and moving through the next chapter…In comes daughter.

“Hi Mom!”

This I can do. I think she has probably seen the need to escape from Obi Wan Kinobe’s adventures in the living room, and welcome the visit.

A voice from the living room:  “Mommmmmmmm!  Tell him to turn it down!”
“Turn it down son”. (Volume goes down)

“Hi Gramaw”
“Hi Baby”

Seriously.  Must. Read. (Turning back to the bible…)

I probably read another paragraph or two, something about waving offerings and counting people, then opens the bedroom door again.

In walks son with laptop ready to show me what all he HAS to buy with his money TODAY.  I make a proclamation:  “I will not do anything until I get through chapter 8!” so he begins to retreat.

Just as soon as I begin to read again, son #2 walks in to join the rest of the group because his movie is now over.  At this point, we have all four of them here in the “respite” room WITH me.

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Daughter on her laptop.  Son on other laptop.  Granddaughter hiding under the bed pillows and laughing.  Son making faces at granddaughter.

Me?  I’m still desperately trying to finish the reading assignment:  “Duties of each of the sons.  Golden altars, blue cloths covering some things….from thirty years old and up…unfaithful wives.  Wow, she had better HOPE that water doesn’t rot her thigh!?…”

Hmmm….I wonder if they had the “Toms” back in their day?  Tom Selleck, Tom Cruise……those would have been dangerous thoughts, especially if the women knew they’d have to drink the cursed water.”

(Granddaughter is now hiding behind the curtains)  “Boo  Gwa-maw!”  Laughing and playing, laughing and playing, …. “Whew!”  It’s not very quiet in here anymore!

(The living room is so quiet you could probably hear crickets chirping…)

Reading again:  “Oxen, goats, ram…yay!  I can see Chapter 8 coming!…almost made it

Wash those Levites…  I really need a shower….”

Aaron has to arrange the lampstands”  Oh, he gets to decorate!  I wonder if he’d like “Pinterest“?”

Yeah, well, as you can see my focus on this reading is less than perfect, lol.

End of chapter 8:  “Woo hoo!  I made it!”  “Can’t wait for Ashley to post so I’ll know what I read”  🙂

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