30 November 2008
Today is Picnic in the Park.... and the beginning of my new cake ministry.
This month, though, I did not need to make a lot of cake because we will be serving a Thanksgiving meal with lots and lots of pie. So I made a few pumpkin pies, and about a quarter of the cake that is normally needed. I wanted to make sure there was at least a little, because there most likely will be some November birthdays to celebrate.
So my original intention was to bake on Friday, but that just did not happen. My husband and I got up a little after four to make the 40 minute trip into town for Black Friday shopping. Then I decided to cheat. And I decided if I was going to cheat, I was going to cheat big.
So after a week and a half of no caffeine, I got a VENTI mocha frappuccino. Probably not the best idea since it did indeed keep me up for the rest of the day. After getting the house clean for the impending arrival of the in-laws the next day, there was no energy left for baking.
When I got up yesterday morning, I decided to do the pies first. It took several hours to get all the homemade crust and pie filling done and baked into four pies (plus two miniture deep dish pies). I had problems with my oven not working right, so the first two pies took 2 hours.... just to get baked. And I had to bake in cycles cause everything wouldn't fit in my ovn at once.
I finally got around to the cake about 3pm. Originally I wanted to do a turkey cake, but now I just didn't have time because this one required shaping. So I decided instead to go for a three layer (6", 8", and 10") decorated in fall colors.
Nothing seemed to go right after I started to decorate. It took me forever to get the sides smooth. The accent color didn't seem to be quite right. The tip was not cooperating. When my first idea didn't work, I tried to blend the accent color in for a marble affect and that turned out so-so. The decorator bottle wasn't quite going right, and at one point the top popped off and squirted frosting out. (luckily I caught it in my hand before it went flying all over the cake.) And I threw my ice coffee all over the table.... and the cake. That cup just somehow just went soaring from my hands and crash landed on the table right next to the cake. An ice cube even landed on the cake, denting the frosting on one side. All night I just kept saying that this cake didn't like me.
This was not going as planned! I just turned in frustration to my husband and complained about all of my cake opposition. He just smiled and sweetly said I must be doing something right!
I guess it was just a good reminder that when God gives us kingdom work to do, and we set out to do it, we will have opposition to face. This day, it was in the form of sugar. Oh, and lots of butter.
Lord God, I thank you that you have given me this creative opportunity to serve you and the people you love. Give me strength each month to face whatever opposition comes my way. I love you. Amen.
P.S. ..... and Lord, PLEASE protect my cake and get it to the Picnic in one piece! Thank You!
25 November 2008
I of course had no idea how many steps I take in a normal day. I would consider myself mildly active... at least a step or two above sedentary, but I am realistic and know I am not as active as I should be. So I have set out on this challenge.
One article I read said that the average sedentary person takes 1000-3000 steps each day. So I strapped on my dollar store pedometer on Monday to see where I ranked. I had a somewhat normal day of activity... housework, school with the kids. By 7pm I had only reached 2500 steps. This was a bit discouraging as this is the time of day I am ready to become a couch potato. But bound and determined not to be labeled "sedentary", I invited my family members for a walk around the block.
So we set off around our large block, and on the second round the kids decided to stay home and watch the stars while Paul and I took another lap. It was nice to have a little alone time with him that was not locked up in our bedroom. We had a nice chat on our brisk second pass. I ended my day at about 4200 steps, and I was pleased with that as a first day.
My second day I decided to take three laps around the block in the afternoon, and without any real effort I managed to get my meter up to 5900 steps. I was quite impressed with myself. The article had talked about trying to increase your steps 500 a week.... and this was much better than that.
My third day was plagued with migraines, so I was content with the 3500 I put in, mostly after 3pm. There was no walk around the block on this day. However, Thursday was quite busy with a trip out to the store with Tricia. We parked in a central location and walked back and forth between our little exchange, the tiny commissary, and the thrift store. I took three laps around the block in the afternoon, and Paul and I took another trip to the commissary for his shopping needs. I logged a whopping 9200 steps on day four.
I was definitely enjoying this pedometer. I had had no idea that a little one dollar piece of equipment could be such a motivator. It is almost addictive to watch the little step number go up and up... checking my progress during the day. Day five I turned in a respectable 5500 steps.
Saturday morning I broke my pedometer. I snapped the little clasp right off when I pushed it open too far to hook it on my pants. I was very sad. This was my motivation. I wanted to see how far I could go. No fair!
I tried to repair it, but it was a feeble attempt that failed miserably. So Sunday, I bought a new one. Only this time, it tells me all kinds of neat information based on my own stride and weight. I now can see how many miles I have walked and how many calories I have burned. It tells me how many minutes I have been active during the day, and it keeps a record of your steps for 7 days.
My only complaint.... it seems to give me more steps than I really think I am walking. I would count my steps, then open up and check to see a number that was a couple steps more than what I had counted. I did do a lot of walking yesterday, but I do not think I did 11800 steps worth.... probably more like my 9000 step day. I guess that I will have to play with it's placement a bit to see if I can get it a little more accurate.
I am a competitive person, and I needed something to motivate me forward in working on my weight loss goal. I tried to get my husband involved with the idea of having a competition to see who could lose 20 pounds first. Unfortunately, he only cares about 6, so no motivation there. But this way (with the pedometer) it is like I am competing against myself. I can challenge myself and the numbers. And hey, I'm often all about numbers.
One of the articles I read said that 6000 steps a day was good for maintaining weight, but 10,000 or more a day is the goal for weight loss (and preferably 4000-6000 of those steps in a one time frame exercise walk). So whereas just a week ago I could barely force myself to go out and get some exercise, now I joyfully trot out each afternoon to circle my block and rack up some numbers. What fun!
Lord God, thank you for helping me find something to encourage me to increase my activity. Help me continue to work more towards complete surrender to you in all aspects of my life, including my food and exercise habits. Help me focus on becoming who I am in you, and not on my size and body image. Please help me keep my priorities straight. Thank you for your strength and encouragement each day. I love you. Amen.
18 November 2008
I am a compliant person. Often I will know I should do something, but until someone firmly tells me to do it, I often won't. I need that authority sometimes to get my act straight and deal with something.
I knew for years I needed therapy, not just antidepressants, but I didn't do anything about it until one of the women from church (that I respected) told me I needed to seek Christian counseling. I had an appointment by the next day.
On my journey this year, my friend/mentor would often tell me I needed to do something (kind of like giving me an assignment)... and even if I already knew I needed to do it, I wouldn't march off into action until she firmly reminded me it was something I needed to do.
There have been many times that I think I have known that God has wanted me to do something (like give up my soda habit), but I don't do it until it is more than a nudging.... until I am told. And once told, I often energetically (and occasionally enthusiastically) set off to do whatever it is, because I have fully accepted it is what I need to do.
Last year when I started Thin Within, I was ready for the change. I not only accepted what God was asking and moved forward, I SURRENDERED to the Lord. I think this is why I had a fairly easy time changing my eating habits. Because my heart was fully surrendered to God, He removed all the physical obstacles, like cravings. My weight just started coming off left and right, at least until Paul came home from his deployment.
But lately it's been so much harder. I felt God's nudging about the pop before I came out here. It was my goal to switch to water and try to live healthier, but I just couldn't seem to do it. Actually, I slipped backwards with my eating addiction, so it became even more of a crutch than it was before. So of course I didn't want to give it up.
So I ignored the nudging and continued in my own destructive ways... until now. Now God has told me to give it up. So in true Kimmy fashion, I have accepted this is what I must do and have moved forward in implementing the change. No Mountain Dew or Orange Fanta for me (my two favs... but I haven't had any other pop either). I figured while I was at it I would chuck the caffeine as well. I used the last of my caffeinated coffee to make pumpkin ice coffee to take to a mom's get together.
Tricia asked me yesterday if I would have my ice coffee in the morning instead of my Dew, and I said no... I like to drink my one glass in the afternoon/evening, and my goal is not to switch one addiction for another. It would not help me at all to stop drinking pop with my meals but have iced coffee instead three times a day. So it has been water for me.
But have I really surrendered? I don't think so. I am somewhere in the middle of acceptance and surrender. I have taken one step of obedience in doing what God has asked me, but I know what He really wants is my surrender, not just my compliance. He wants me to obey with my heart, and not just with my actions.
I'm sure I will get there.
Lord God, thank you for your patience with me. Help me to move past compliance and into complete surrender. I know with my head that everything will work out so much better when I am surrendered to you, Lord. Help me remember this in my heart as well. I love You. Amen.
17 November 2008
I know that God has blessed me with these skills, and in the past I have tried to used these skills in ministry ways. When a family was raising money for the medical costs of their sons' bone marrow transplants, I raised about $200 in cake sales to donate to their cause. I had never done cakes for money before then, and I eagerly gave whatever I made until they had raised all the money they needed.
I still do not sell many cakes. I mostly take them places for fun. And I never suspected that God would actually use my skills in a real ministry, but I suppose I should have.
The homegroup we have begun attending is part of a ministry called Picnic in the Park. Once a month they cook a large amount of food and go out into the local community to serve a meal to anyone who needs one. It is a local outreach to meet the physical needs of the homeless and poor. The focus of the group is not to preach at the recipients, but instead to simply live out the gospel by loving them in such a tangible way as giving them a good meal and a place to just hang out and relax, without anyone telling them to move on because they aren't wanted there.
One of the things they do every month is sing Happy Birthday to anyone who has had a birthday that month, and they serve cake.
So as I was looking down the list of areas to volunteer to help with, I of course notice the cake. I ask where do they get the cake? And the answer was someone throws together a couple of sheet cakes. Well, I say.... I make cakes. Yummy neat cakes.... and I volunteered to be "the cake lady" for Picnic in the Park. They seemed very excited to have someone wanting to take over this responsibility.
On the way home, and it's a 40 minute drive, I started thinking about my cakes. I like to put a lot of love and attention in them. I make my frosting from scratch, and everyone just loves it. They are so lovely to look at, and the really creative ones really bring out the joy of anyone who sees them.
So I began to imagine feeling unloved and unwanted. You start attending a monthly lunch where people come and feed you because they want to spend time with you. And to see a beautiful cake that you can tell someone spent a lot of time and effort on, and realizing that they did it for you.... how would that feel? I would think it would feel pretty good.
It amazes me that God has put a talent in me that to me seems so simple and unimportant, but He uses that to bring joy to other people. I have seen it in my friends and church body. And now I look forward to the joy God will bring to the people of Picnic in the Park.
Lord God, thank you for the talents and gifts that You have placed in me. I pray that you will show Your love to the lost through the creativity You have blessed me with. Thank you for this opportunity to serve You. I love You. Amen.
Give me Jesus
Give me Jesus
You can have all this world
Just give me Jesus
There was something about this song that really got to me. How often do we remember that it is not the world that will give us what we need? How often do we really say "you can have the world, just give me Jesus"?
I have been wrestling a lot lately with the idea of "if I lost everything else, would Jesus be enough"? I received a devotion on this topic recently, and it has been rolling around in my head ever since.
Sometimes the Lord asks us to give things up. Sometimes He asks us to give people up. And sometimes it seems like what He is asking is too much... that we cannot live without whatever it is that He wants us to surrender. The Lord is asking me to surrender some pretty important things in my life, and it feels as if there will be a void... a hole if I do.
But if we believe, really believe the words of this song.... then we should be able to surrender anything because we know Jesus will automatically fill that void... He will fill up that hole overflowing if we let Him. We will already know that what we get from Jesus is so much better than anything of the world. So why is this so hard to remember?
Lord Jesus, I want to fully know in my heart, and not just in my head, that all I need is you. You are the answer to all my needs, and I can just leave the world and its broken promises behind me when I have You. Lord, help me remember to keep my focus on you. Please give me strength to surrender what you are asking me to surrender. I love you. Amen.
14 November 2008
The week after our gospel experience, we tried out the former Vineyard church that Paul had wanted to go to a few weeks before. We walked in and found a seat. We were pleasantly surprised to know all of the worship songs, and it was nice to see people really worshiping the Lord. There was a call for prayer at the end of worship with prayer teams up front waiting to pray with anyone who wanted healing. One woman went up with crutches and a bad knee, and then she left jumping around and dancing, healed on the spot. There was another call for prayer at the end of the message, and we decided to wait around to speak to the pastor... afterall, by this point we mean business and want to get to the heart of the church to see if it is a real contender for our attendance. We waited for 45 minutes, but while waiting we watched one man slain in the spirit while hearing the pastor and another gentleman praying for a woman (I think his wife), commanding spirits to leave in the name of Jesus, asking God to heal her. It was definately the spirit filled service we were looking for.
Once we were able to talk to the pastor (and we were the last ones there), he talked with us for quite awhile and then brought us outside to meet some other people. They were having a fundraiser bbq, and he offered us free food since we were guests. He introduced us to his wife who talked with us for a long time. Then she introduced us to her daughter and son-in-law, who eventually introduced us to another couple who runs a lifegroup (a homegroup) on Sunday evenings. We talked to then for awhile as well. Paul also talked with the worship leader for quite awhile.
Each person we talked to was really interested in getting to know a bit about who we were and how we found their church. They asked real questions and not just meaningless chitchat. And they all said they hoped to see us come back again.
Our initial inventory of this visit was going quite well...
Genuine, meaningful worship- check.
Spirit filled- check.
Friendly and encouraging- check.
Great children's program- check.
Active Youth group- check.
They even had an open invitation for people to come join the worship team for a once a month mini choir... CHECK.
We decided to attend the next week, and most of the people we had met the week before remembered us. And some introduced us to more people. I even ended up meeting parents of a woman who turned out to be part of the homeschool group here on base (I hadn't met her yet because she had not attended the first two mom's meetings).
We have now gone four times, been to two lifegroup meetings, Paul participated in the mini choir the second week we were there and hopes to eventually become part of the main worship team, and Paul and I were both baptised this past Sunday.
I would say that things are going well.
It has been a little different getting used to a large congregation, but there are benefits to that as well. They have a lot more programs and resources than a smaller church, and it helps us to be able to support our home church (where our heart is). Paul even brought it up in our pre-baptism counceling with the pastor... that our heart was to keep supporting our church in Virginia. And the pastor was very supportive. He said that he completely believes in being spirit led, and if we feel that God is leading us to put our tithes there, then he doesn't have a problem with it at all. So I guess that's the final- check!
From the beginning of our experience with this new church, I have been able to see glimpses of how God can grow us here, and that is very exciting.... especially after 7 weeks of complete uncertainty.
Lord God, I thank you for leading us to the place you want for us in this phase of our journey with you. Thank you for all the opportunities here for us. Continue to grow us in your kingdom. I love you. Amen.
12 November 2008
Sometimes I don't like being the mother. I walk around my house, picking up after the people who live here, angrily mumbling to myself about "Why can't anyone clean up after themselves? Why do I have to do so much for these people who are perfectly capable of doing for themselves? Why am I never appreciated for what I do?"
As I walked around my house yesterday, once again annoyed at one of my children because they will not put their things away no matter how many times I ask, yell or order them to...they don't appreciate how hard I am trying to keep things nice, and they don't realize how much harder they are making it for me.... God whispered something in my ear.
"You are not a martyr."
Wow! That hurt a little. But it is true. I am not a victim of motherhood martyrdom.
mar⋅tyr⋅dom/ˈmɑrtərdəm/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [mahr-ter-duhm]
|1.||the condition, sufferings, or death of a martyr.|
|2.||extreme suffering; torment.|
I am not trapped in an oppressing condition. I am not truly suffering, and I am definitely not dead. I am not being tormented (although at brief moments that statement seems questionable... only kidding!).
Truth be told, I am living the life I always wanted for myself. I wanted to be a mother... to have beautiful children. God tells us that children are a BLESSING! So why then, can it be so hard to see it this way? Why is it so easy to look past the blessing and focus only on the negative aspects... the selfishness of my nature?
As I walked around my living room feeling all self important, discouraged, unappreciated.... feeling like I should receive martyr credit... I realized this is the attitude of so many women in this world. This is the attitude I grew up seeing in my own mother. She walked around in anger all the time.... nothing she did was good enough for us...(really making us feel like what we did wasn't good enough for her)... we didn't appreciate her... we didn't idolize her... we didn't love her.... we should feel lucky just to have her there to do things for us. This was the message we received in her moments of Motherhood Martyrdom. And regretfully, I realized with the Lord's help, that I was putting out that same message with my selfish attitude.
We live in a world full of selfish women. Women who have children for the wrong reasons. Women who didn't really want to be a mother but was stuck with it... women who only wanted someone (ANYONE) to love them, so they had a child.... women who had children because someone else wanted them to.... women who would rather have other people raise their children than to do it themselves. These are all situations where it seems only natural for a mother to become somewhat resentful of what they do for others without anything in return. They didn't really want the job or the work in the first place... or maybe they didn't realized how much work was really involved. Maybe they see motherhood as more of a curse than a blessing.
But me? I'm living the dream, right? I believe with my whole heart that motherhood is the ultimate calling that God can place on a woman's life. It is a life that should be valued, a life that is worthy. It is to be respected and cherished. But it is exhausting!
And sometimes in my exhaustion and frustration I go somewhere I am not entitled to go.... motherhood martyrdom. And it is in this place that I do the exact opposite of what I should. I focus on the negative. I get all wrapped up in me... putting my desires first. I let my pride run a muck. I basically announce through my actions that my family is not good enough. They are not meeting my needs. They are not appreciating me, or loving me, or idolizing me. I feel like what I do for them is so great that they should be bending over backwards to help me because they are lucky to have me. But what I am really doing is putting conditions on my love for them..... conditions that should not be there.
And who am I that I should deserve such worship? This is the great lie that Satan tells us mothers..... that we deserve to be worshiped for what we do for others, for all the sacrifices we make in the name of motherhood. I think this is one of Satan's favorite lies. After all, wasn't it his desire to be worshiped above God that got him into trouble in the first place? It is an evil trap that will work its way through each generation, especially passing from mothers to daughters.
Even though I possess a nurturing nature and a motherly desire my own mother did not have, her martyr mentality shaped my young life and carried over into my adult life. I see a calling and a value to motherhood my mother was unable to see, but that alone has not prevented this particular downfall. I have over the years on many occasions displayed my martyr badge to my daughters through my little tantrums.
But God has spoken the truth..... He has dispelled the lie.
I am not a martyr!
Lord God, even though the truth often hurts, thank you for calling me out of my selfish behavior. Thank you for readjusting my perspective to remember that my children are a blessing, not a curse. Thank you that you want to break this cycle for my daughters. Please help me to everyday work and serve my family for your glory and not for selfish recognition. Help me teach my daughters with my actions (not just my words) that motherhood is a great and awesome calling. I love you. Amen.
Hebrews 5:11-14 (New Living Translation)
A Call to Spiritual Growth11 There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen. 12 You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. 13 For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. 14 Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.
Do you remember being a spiritual baby? For some of us, that wasn't all that long ago or at least doesn't seem that long ago.... still others might still be there because of the newness of their commitment to Christ. And others may not even remember since they have been walking with the Lord for so long now.
I know I felt like a spiritual baby for a really long time. I was just soaking in as much teaching as I could. I was learning and developing and figuring out what was right and wrong in God's world. I had grown for almost 30 years in the world's view of right and wrong, and it took awhile for God to grow me up in His vastly different world.
And I remember when I felt like I was graduating into the world of Christian toddlerhood. I was stumbling around trying to find my own footing, needing more than just milk to sustain me. I was sampling some meat along the way, always eager to try more and more. I can think back to my kids becoming toddlers... when formula alone was no longer enough... when soft baby food was cast aside in pursuit of more "grown-up" food. It was an exciting time.
But what happens when our growth and maturity become stunted? When we do not continue to grow in our faith? When we do not step out in faith to do whatever the Lord is calling? When we do not reach out to the lost or teach those who need to hear? Do we revert back to being babies like this scripture says?
At the beginning of the next chapter, Paul continues...
1 So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. 2 You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding.
I think the key here is understanding. It isn't just about listening to God's Word... we need to understand it. We need to grow and mature in our understanding. I don't know about you, but this can be quite challenging. I think it has become so easy in our culture to just shout out for the quick fix... "Just the facts". Give me the basics of the info, as fast as you can, with as little details as possible so we can move on to the next thing. We often do not want to stop and really take time to understand everything involved.
And have you ever noticed that if the partucular subject is not of great interest or importance (in our opinion), that our ability to stop and truly understand is even more inhibited? Take science, for instance. I hated science class growing up. I was a mainly A/B+ student my whole life, but I failed biology in college. On my second attempt I dropped the class to prevent a second F on my transcript. This subject was too complicated for me. I didn't enjoy it. I was not interested or passionate about it. It did not come easily to me. My natural understanding has been (and still is) hindered in this subject. My husband has to break things down to as uncomplicated explanation as he can come up with for me to understand. The bottom line, I have considered the effort needed to achieve understanding to be far more involved than the effort I am willing to put out. Therefore, scientifically I have been and most likely will remain a "science baby".
But do we sometimes take this same attitude toward God's Word? The Bible isn't always easy to read or understand. In fact, it can be very time consuming to pour over its pages and figure out what God is saying. Some parts can be outright boring. Getting through the building of the tabernacle and the Laws of Moses with my children was almost painful. It takes a commitment to put forth the required level of effort to achieve a mature understanding. And if we do not make that commitment, then we will remain infantile in our understanding of God, just as I have with science.
But what if I had met someone who was powerfully passionate about science? Someone who wanted to help me understand? Walk through each step and each level until I got it? Would that have made a difference in my scientific outcome in life? Would it have influenced my outlook and like/dislike of that particular subject? These are questions I obviously cannot answer because these are experiences I did not have.
But God has given each believer this exact opportunity to maturely understand his word. He has given us the Holy Spirit to help and guide us. The Holy Spirit will walk us through each step, giving us not only understanding, but I think encouragement and a passion for more. But the key is, we have to be willing to make that commitment.
Lord God, I thank you for Your Word. I boldly ask that you will give me a passion for its pages. I admit that reading my Bible has often felt like a chore, or a school subject I didn't like...something to "get through". I ask you to change this attitude in my heart. Grow me up into mature understanding so that I will not revert back into a baby who cannot tell right from wrong. Help me continue to grow and heal. I love you. Amen.
04 November 2008
Physical- I know that there are people who have actual chemical imbalances that create depression problems. In this society, I think this is the most highly treated aspect. Many, if not most of patients diagnosed with depression are put on medication to help this imbalance. But most often, medication alone will never help because there are two other extremely important causes to look at.
Spiritual- Now I believe that there is a spiritual element to depression that is often overlooked. There are spirits of depression that can come on us and oppress us. I have battled against them, and I have (on more than one occasion) commanded them to leave. I have felt great relief at times when I was being oppressed by these demons and they have been forced to go in the name of Jesus.
Emotional- Depression has been said to be the result of anger turned inward. I am currently reading a book on depression that deals specifically with emotional healing and finding the connections between our emotions (anger, fear, anxiety, negativity, etc.) and how we react to them. In Moving Beyond Depression, Dr. Gregory Jantz says this;
"Depression is often an emotional reaction to overwhelming circumstances. We may find ourselves in a situation where we feel helpless, so we disengage emotionally. We feel angry but unable to show it. We may feel frustrated but afraid to vent it. We may feel burdened but inadequate to bear it. Since we can't seem to express what we're really feeling, we choose to feel nothing at all. The end result we seek is a cessation of the pain. But ignoring the pain does not make it go away, and minimizing the damage often leads to greater hurt."
I believe that a far greater number of people find their roots in the second two of these factors. Research has shown that medication does not really help except for those with extreme cases of depression. So for those who are only taking meds to help fix their problems, but they are ignoring the emotional and spiritual causes.... these are probably the statistics I have heard quoted (on an antidepressant commercial no less) saying that 2/3 of patients on antidepressants are still suffering from depression symptoms despite the medication.
I do not believe that my depression stems from an imbalance. I spent time on the meds, and they really did not help... they were more of a numbing agent for me. Now I am not trying to say that antidepressants don't work at all, I am just saying that in my case, the causes of my depression most likely are not medical.
As I previously mentioned, I have battled against the spiritual causes of depression. There were a few times last year that I commanded oppressing spirits to leave, and they did. Whenever you command in the name of Jesus, demonic spirits have no choice but to leave. But I am wise enough to know that every time I have an attack of depression, it is not always going to be a spiritual attack.
Just yesterday, I was having a particularly hard day... a "blah" day as they are referred to in our house. And of course Paul asked me if I had prayed about it. (I never do at first.... I always get too caught up in the blah!) So as I silently began to ask God to remove any oppressing spirits.... commanding them to leave, He immediately told me they weren't there. This episode was not brought on by spiritual oppression at all. This was an episode being spurred on by my emotional state.... or by my lack of wanting to deal with my emotional state.
God is currently asking me (again) to make some hard choices. He wants to heal me from the pain I am still carrying around inside of me, but to be honest, I have been unwilling to go there. Since I left Virginia, I have not wanted to face my pain. I have not wanted to work through it to find healing. I have been afraid of it. And now I am reaping the consequences of this decision.
I have been moody and angry. I have been easily annoyed and irritated. I have not been as kind as I should be to my loved ones who must put up with me day in and day out. I have woken up on many days feeling numb or apathetic and quite content to stay there.
But here's the problem. Just as the author stated above, ignoring the pain does not make it go away. In fact, over time it just makes everything worse. So now that I have been ignoring it, the depression that I have lived without for most of the last year has come back in mild episodes. Knowing that the meds aren't the answer... and now knowing that spiritual attacks are not the cause... that really only leaves one culprit to deal with. My Emotions.
So as I picked this book back up to read chapter two (I read chapter one in June), the chapter I came to is entitled "Emotional Equilibrium". Now that is fitting, isn't it? The part of the chapter that spoke the loudest to my ears is the one about navigating the flow of moods.
He talks about how we have a reaction to an event that we cannot control, but after that initial reaction, we can choose our attitudes. He says, "Mood is how we are feeling; attitude is how we respond to the mood." Often we choose (without even thinking about it) to react negatively, thus continuing in a bad mood. But he suggests that actively choosing a positive mood is the key to successfully changing the behavior that leads to emotional depression. He states;
"Choosing a good mood promotes optimism, hope, and joy. A good mood allows you to experience these life-affirming emotions. When you are experiencing depression, you must work at promoting the choice of a good mood. It can be hard work. A good mood won't come naturally- while other unconstructive moods will. Pessimism, negativity, sarcasm, hostility, even apathy, flow freely when you are depressed. To overcome depression, you must turn the flow of this negative tide and strive, even if it seems as though you are paddling against the current, to promote optimism, hope, and joy."
Wow! This is a hard lesson to learn. I can SOOOO relate to what he is saying about how hard it is to CHOOSE to be positive because the negative emotions are flowing. Boy, do my negative emotions flow. Ask anyone in my household and they will tell you I'm not fun when I give into this river ride.
Whenever Paul askes me if I've prayed about it, I just want to look at him and tell him I don't care. I know he doesn't understand how hard it is to look for the positive... how hard it is to turn away from the negative.... the apathy, the consuming irritation and heaviness that builds inside of me. I almost always give into the negative. And now I am learning that is my problem right now.
I have allowed the natural flow of negative emotions to be my excuse for not dealing with it. It is my cop out. It has been another lie of the enemy that whispers in my ear that I am just not strong enough so I should just give into it, and I have swallowed it without challenge. I want to think that I can't beat it so that I don't have to do the hard work. Because it is extremely hard work to push yourself past that negitivity that drags you down. It seems impossible in that moment. It seems insurmountable.... so why try?
So at the end of each chapter, the authors gives his readers a "Moving-Forward Phrase". This chapters phrase is... "Today I choose to focus on optimism, hope, and joy. "
I know this will not be an easy task. And in fact, I know I am completely incapable of doing it. So I must remember each and every time I am faced with this negativity, that I need to turn to God immediately and ask for His strength. I need to remember Philippians 4:13 that says,
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (NKJV)
Lord God, I thank you so much that Your desire is to heal me. You want to break me free from this pain and depression that is dragging me down. You want to use this in my life to bring me closer to You, that I may know that I cannot do it without You, Lord God. Give me Your strength. Please continue to open my eyes to my own distructive behavior. Give me courage to face and change the things in myself that I do not like. Make me more and more in Your image. I love You. Amen.