Tag Archive Depression

ByDanielle

Finding Joy In The Ashes: Life Since Losing My Son

Disclaimer: This post includes triggers as it discusses suicide and the loss of a child.

Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.
Psalms 30:5

Finding Joy In The Ashes

In order to tell you this life altering event in my life I have to go back to 14 months ago….

After 2 years of a very long, life changing estrangement for my oldest child, Brian contacted me. At first he wanted me to know how angry he was that we didn’t have a typical mother/son relationship. He usually never comes out to say what he really means. We were estranged because he was a drug abuser and honestly he told me if I didn’t lie for him he no longer had a mother. I told him to make very sure this is what he wanted. It sadly was. Flash forward to that phone call 14 months ago. Brian hit rock bottom. He wanted help. In those short 8 weeks he and I reconciled our damaged relationship, more importantly he reconciled his relationship with Jesus. We texted everyday for hours, talked on the phone.

Flash forward 50 weeks ago…….(I actually wrote the following about a month or 2 after Brian died.)

My family’s life changed on May 28, 2015. My oldest child, my only son, committed suicide. Brian and I had been estranged for 2 years. 8 weeks before he died he reached out. He wanted help. He’d hit the bottom and wanted to be off drugs, find his joy.

In those 8 weeks before Brian died we talked about everything. The one thing that sticks out for me was the very 1st conversation. We talked about God, about Jesus. I said to him you say you don’t believe in God, but I think maybe you are just mad at Him. Brian started to cry. He cried hard and told me he was so mad at God. His life wasn’t going how he wanted. He told me of how he had been playing bass at church since Easter. We talked about everything in those last 8 weeks. We texted several times each day. I told Brian I loved him every morning and every night. Brian’s last words to me?

I love you Ma.

We were on the East coast for 15 days. We spread Brian’s ashes in the ocean. The ocean brought Brian peace. I also have a small urn that I keep.

That 1st Sunday back in Iowa, back in our church was hard. We sat in the overflow room in hopes no one would see us. I cried through the service. Pastor was preaching about the beatitudes- Happy are those who morn. Friends saw us, they hugged us, they cried with us. I cried every Sunday for several weeks. I couldn’t get past Brian dying. Living in a world where he isn’t here. I didn’t lose my faith. Was I angry at God for “letting this happen”? No. The enemy had Brian. Brian listened to the wrong thing. Brian died.

For the longest time I focused on my grief. How hurt I was. How angry I was that some friends didn’t really reach out to me. I can’t even tell you what I needed, or, what would have helped.

One Sunday I was sitting in the back of our church and I was silently crying, praying, listening. I could only picture Brian hanging. I could only see his hurt, his pain, his anger. I doubted he was in Heaven. God spoke to me and said Danielle, my Son hung on a tree too. Don’t worry about Brian, he is with me and my Son and his pain is gone. You don’t have to worry about where he is anymore.

I was blown away. I cried. And thanked God. In that pain in my heart there was a small flutter of joy. Brian has Glory. He is in Heaven.

I see things differently now. Joy comes in a different way now. There is this ache in my heart that will always be there but every so often I feel joy. And for that little bit of joy I am blessed.

Flash forward to today May, 16, 2016.

In this last year my life has changed so much. Before our son died I was able to reconcile our relationship. We had honest, loving talks. We texted each other several times everyday. I had 2 months with him that were a wonderful gift. We talked about life, God (I believe Brian is in Heaven) he knew Jesus, he is with Jesus now.

The outpouring of love from family, friends & people we didn’t know was overwhelming. We were on the east coast for 2 weeks, our families drew together and helped us. My husband and brother and sister in law took care of all of Brian’s final plans. We opted to not have an obituary put in the paper, mainly because it was $300 to do so & we weren’t even sure how we were paying for Brian’s cremation. Again our family and people we didn’t even know made sure everything was taken care of. It was a very small gathering at Plum Island, about 20 of us, just family. We laid Brian’s ashes in the ocean, a place I know he always found peace.

When we returned home family and friends called me almost daily, friends from church brought us meals & words of encouragement. I’ve made some new friends who are a part of this loss of a child, some very good friends, friends who get it. Along the way this past year I’ve withdrawn myself from a lot of things. Sometimes seeing the constant happy made me sad. Sometimes I feel like I am drowning in sorrow. I tried many wrong ways of trying to cope with this grief, I drank almost everyday since Brian died, it took away some of the pain, in turn it scared my living children, so I’ve stopped drinking. I’ve tried pretending everything is just fine, didn’t work. I’ve cried and I’ve remembered happier times with my family. I’ve learned that I’ll never “get over it” as some have said I should. I will always grieve and a spot in my heart will always have an ache for Brian until we see each other in Heaven. I’ve learned that sometimes people are in your life for a time and that’s ok. There are days that I am still paralyzed in grief and there are days that I’m not.

I’ll honor God and Brian’s memory by loving. I’ll miss you Brian, I’ll miss you forever. I love you my dear sweet Buddy.

Since this happened I’ve lost many friends. Some because I have totally withdrawn and others because seeing me and my sad, pain filled eyes makes them think of their own child’s life.

One word.
Joy.

For the last 2 years Joy has been my focus. In joy I find love.

Finding joy after my son died.
Is there still joy? Can I ever feel that joy? I am afraid to feel joy.
Joy hurts right now. I still try to find one thing a day that brings joy.

To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.
Isaiah 61:3

ByAngie

Life As A Non-Custodial Mom: When Goodbyes Feel Like Sawing Limbs

Two weeks ago today, I put my oldest daughter on a plane to return home to her dad. That morning, I put the following as my Facebook status.

When Tommy was born, he was very sick. When it was time for me to be discharged from the hospital one of my doctors came to see me in the NICU, as I was only in my room when I was not allowed at his bedside. She told me that while I would be back in 3 hours, leaving him would feel like I was cutting my own arm off with a saw and leaving it at the hospital as I returned home.

She was right.

But what I didn’t realize that day was that a few months later my older 2 kids would be moving away against my wishes and that it would be her words that got me through every departure.

Just because it feels like my arm is missing, it is not. Just because my heart aches and my arms are empty, I am still a mother. Even though this hurts so very much and I want to collapse, I have children that need me to go on. God will strengthen me, and I can do the goodbyes and pretending to be strong even when I am not. I will do it again in 3 weeks when the other leaves. I will continue the distracting for the entire family the next 46 weeks and all the many cries from younger siblings to “please just bring them back” when I wish I could.

My arm is still here. I am still their mom. I will (try to) stay strong, and in June these arms and my heart will be full again. But today, I’m crying. A lot.

How we cope.

A week from today, my oldest son will be heading home. (He came down a little later than his sister.) The shock that August is really here already is not settling well in our home. We all feel as though the anticipation for summer was just a few days ago. I keep asking my husband to slow down time or reverse it, as if he had the ability. Time flies when you’re having fun.

I have learned over the last few years just what to expect in the coming weeks: All of us will cry. There will be a lot of prayer and hugging. Some of us will be cranky for a few days. Johnny Ben, my son with severe autism, will walk about the house looking for his brother and sister. He will want to sleep where they slept for a while. (He’s been sleeping in his big sister’s spot since she left.) We will look through photos and videos while we reminisce. Almost immediately we will begin a countdown to next summer.

Life As A Non-Custodial Mom: When Goodbyes Feel Like Sawing Limbs - Raising Sticky Hands To Heaven

I will distract… and I will distract my family as much as possible. It’s not that we are not coping with our feelings. It is that this is how our life is, and it can be really painful. So to lessen the stinging and gnawing pain, we have to look away for a bit sometimes. Kinda like how someone might look away when getting a shot of antibiotics. We will talk to the kids in another state on the phone and in messages and we will discuss the situation we are in. But staying busy at the end of summer, I have found, has been the answer to rationing the tears. We will dive into a new year of homeschooling, go on a few fun adventures, I will attempt some craft and sewing projects, we’ll have a few long movie nights, science projects, and, hopefully, a lot of laughter.

It still hurts. We still feel a deep emptiness. We talk about our feelings very openly and pray together. But staying busy is better than wallowing in misery and allowing the pain to suck every bit of joy out of our lives. I may be a non-custodial mother to two of my children, but that does not mean that I have to walk around crying every minute of every day.

How it feels.

I don’t expect anyone who has not been in my shoes to understand how this feels. I do know that just as much as homeschooling parents are tired of the “Oh, I could never do that.” comments, I’m tired of hearing about it in reference to not seeing my children every day. I’m not stronger than anyone. I’m not a fragile mess because my kids are not with me either. This is not something that while I held my two oldest babies for the first time that I thought would ever happen. But it did, and I somehow managed to miraculously survive those first few years. I would never wish it on my worst enemy.

Life As A Non-Custodial Mom: When Goodbyes Feel Like Sawing Limbs - Raising Sticky Hands To Heaven

I do know that I am blessed to still have them at all. How can I complain when mothers on the other side of the planet are burying their children because of famine or faith?

There have been times I have not handled these situations the best way, and I will be the first to admit that. Thankfully, God finally got through my hard head and I realized the best way to deal with my feelings.

How I apply scripture. (God knew exactly what I was going to need before I ever knew it!)

During my Jr. High and High School years, I became fascinated with Philippians 4. I read it over and over. Judye even placed a plaque with Philippians 4:13 over my desk when I was her pupil in High School and it was drilled into my heart. Years later, I understood why. The first time I felt any kind of peace was when I had said to someone that I just didn’t know if I could be strong enough for this. Without even thinking, in the next breath I stated Philippians 4:13, which has been my favorite scripture for many years.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13

Whenever I feel like I just can’t do this again, I remember that Christ has me in the palm of His hand and He will give me the strength I need.

I remember that God knows how it feels to have to let go of a child for a time and wait for their return.

There is no one that can relate to my heart like He can. No one.

That is where I find my peace, in Christ.

I take the pain that could do me in and instead of self-destructing I use the creativity God has given me and I recycle the darkness into some, um, interesting creations. Ha! Okay, some of them are pretty good. Others? Well, let’s just say that a good friend and I have a running joke about my attempts at cake pops. I could fill a whole other website with all of my Pinterest fails. But hey, even they bring laughter. 😉 Laughter is good!

Life As A Non-Custodial Mom: When Goodbyes Feel Like Sawing Limbs - Raising Sticky Hands To Heaven

My son and my dad singing together in church while I play the piano… something we have talked about for years but finally did this summer.

If you are a non-custodial parent reading this, I pray that God would comfort your heart. That He would calm your spirit and help you to cope in a way better than anything else can offer. There are healthy ways to handle the pain, and there are the options that sometimes may just seem easier. Remember that even when your children are not with you, they still need you. They need you to be healthy and whole physically, mentally, and spiritually. When you feel like collapsing, reach out to Jesus and let Him hold you. I have learned that He’s always there and will always catch you if you let Him. Feel free to leave a comment below if you would like us to pray for you.

ByAngie

A Merry Heart – And A Group Look Link Up!

All the days of the afflicted are evil,
But he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast.

When I was a teenager, I was already in a nasty battle with depression and anxiety that began in my childhood: The outcome of adolescent hormones and grief along with some unfortunate circumstances. I would become overwhelmed with everything wrong and I just couldn’t seem to get a grip.  My Grandma would ask me what was wrong, and as I began to list everything off she would quip back with scriptures like Proverbs 15:15, Proverbs 17:22, and many others. She would give examples that usually involved Polly Anna or Corrie Ten Boom. But most of all she reminded me of the promise that not only did she love me but so does a sovereign God that is on the throne.

All the days of the afflicted are evil, But he who is of a MERRY HEART has a continual feast. <a href=Proverbs 15:15 - Raising Sticky Hands To Heaven" width="550" height="334" srcset="http://raisingstickyhands.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/All-the-days-of-the-afflicted-are-evil-But-he-who-is-of-a-MERRY-HEART-has-a-continual-feast.-Proverbs-1515-Raising-Sticky-Hands-To-Heaven-.jpg 550w, http://raisingstickyhands.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/All-the-days-of-the-afflicted-are-evil-But-he-who-is-of-a-MERRY-HEART-has-a-continual-feast.-Proverbs-1515-Raising-Sticky-Hands-To-Heaven--300x182.jpg 300w" sizes="(max-width: 550px) 100vw, 550px" />

I’ll be honest, sometimes I hated her encouragement. I wanted to sulk, cry, and vent. I always knew she was right, though. So I dried my tears and reminded myself of all the things she told me and go on with a smile on my face until the next “end of the world teenage crisis” would happen.

A merry heart does good, like medicine,
But a broken spirit dries the bones.
Proverbs 17:22

Just like every other truth that is written in the Bible, the many scriptures about having a merry heart hold a lot of weight. If we don’t choose to be happy, even in the hard times, the negativity and darkness will overwhelm us and eventually lead to bitterness and extreme unhappiness. Without a merry heart, we see only the bad. But when we make that choice to be happy, no matter what, we are able to see the “sunny side” that the character Polly Anna talked so much about. With a merry heart, Corrie Ten Boom’s sister, Betsie, was able to thank God for the fleas that kept the Nazi guards from coming into their sleeping barracks instead of crying about one more problem during a time of extreme torment where evil truly afflicted every part of their days.

Now that I am an adult and have continued this battle with depression and anxiety, I understand more of what my Grandma was saying. I have seen God’s power in my life to know for certain that He is still on the throne. No matter how dark things may get, or how many nights are spent in tears, God is always in control. Even when it seems that there is no hope, I know that there is.

Does this mean that Christians should not seek medical help when things become unbearable? Not at all. By all means, if you need help, please get it. But it does mean that we should not focus on the evil around us. We should focus on the love of God, and rest in knowing that He will bring us through.

With a merry heart, we will strengthen and grow. The scripture is saying that with happiness we thrive. I am living proof. In fact, if I hadn’t chosen joy quite a bit these last few weeks, I would certainly not be smiling today.

Choosing to have a merry heart is not always easy, but it is always worth it.

 

A Look at The Book

Now, time for the link up!

 

Group Look Graphic

 

Our Host, Ren & The Ladies at A Look At The Book
Fellow Co-Host, Bethany at Graceful Country Diva
Fellow Co-Host, Mandy at Women of Worship


ByPriscilla

How to Leave Your Church – Part 1

This is a NEW series here at Raising Sticky Hands to Heaven about how to leave your church! This is part one of a four part series about how to leave your church! Stay tuned for more posts in the near future! 🙂 ~Priscilla

 

How To Leave Your Church Series from Raising Sticky Hands To Heaven

 

Recently, I felt the Lord calling my family to leave the church that I had been attending since 2004. I felt connected in MY church. How could I even leave MY church? I was a member of the worship team. I had friends there. I had fond memories of the church, and I didn’t want to leave! But, I had changed so much since I joined my church. I was also married now, and the church did not fit in line with my husband’s belief system.

There will come a time when you may have to leave your church for one reason or another. Sometimes leaving your church is an easy decision to make. Other times, we are so comfortable where we are that we couldn’t image being anywhere else.

 

Looking back, I think I felt too comfortable at my old church. Strange thing is, God usually uses me best when I’m uncomfortable, but fully submitted to Him!

 

I think that I felt too comfortable at my old church. -From How to Leave Your Church, Part One. 

 

Needless to say, when God told me to leave my old church… it was hard to submit. I didn’t want to get out of my comfort zone. I spent a month in pure denial until my husband refused to attend the church again. At that time, I knew that my husband and I needed something different. I knew that God had a higher calling, and we were needed to use our gifts at another church.

 

When I finally left my church for good, I grieved the loss. I’m talking stayed-in-bed-all-day-&-pulled-the-blanket-over-my-head kind of grieving a loss. It was horrible. In fact, it was almost like losing a family member.

 

There is a season for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1). It’s hard to fathom that God would plant us in a church, and then root us up to serve somewhere else. Besides that, leaving a church is very difficult.  When I finally left my church for good, I grieved the loss. I’m talking stayed-in-bed-all-day-&-pulled-the-blanket-over-my-head kind of grieving a loss. It was horrible. In fact, it was almost like losing a family member.

That fog of “depression” didn’t lift until God sent comfort during our first church service in our new church! I knew then that everything was going to be OK, and that God had sent us to the right place! Whew! Hallelujah!

 

The first step of leaving your church

 

I think that the first step in the process of leaving a church is to determine the reasons why you are leaving the church… Then, you have to make sure that your reasons for leaving are in line with the Word of God, and God’s will for your life. In this post I’ve listed 16 GOOD reasons to leave your church.  While this list does not cover all reasons to leave a church, it does cover some major reasons that you may want to leave a church.

 

GOOD Reasons to Leave Your Church:

  1. If God is calling you to another church. This seems simple, but sometimes we do not listen to Him when He has other plans for us.
  2. If you are moving, or have moved. This is a no brainier, but sometimes people will travel long distances to church even after they have moved to another town. However, the churches in Acts were local churches with community ties. It is perfectly acceptable to find a church in your new community where you live.
  3. If your church violates scripture in any way. We need more churches that preach the Word!
  4. If your church is in debt, but starts a new building campaign. I think that a lot is said by how much debt an organization carries, and I believe that God is calling a new generation of believers who set an example where debt is concerned. The Bible talks about living within our means, and this applies to the church as well. I’ve never known a church that carried large amounts of debt to be successful in the long run.  It’s best to wait for God’s provision. I knew a pastor that had a vision for a new church, and prayed over it. He asked the church to pray over it. A member of his congregation bought the land adjoining the church, and this sparked generosity throughout the church. The building was paid off within six months! He could have put his church in debt, but He sought the Lord first. He chose to be patient, and the LORD provided. God calls us to be responsible, and a church cannot teach fiscal responsibility among members if the church is in debt.
  5. Changes in leadership if it effects how the Gospel is presented. A lot of churches are moving toward presenting the Gospel in a way that waters down the Word, but is seeker friendly. I am not being critical of this movement. I see that it may draw people to Jesus. However, if you have been a follower of Christ for many years you may desire a deeper connection. I think that most of these churches use the term “Jesus not Religion”. You may be one that needs the structure that is in a “religious” church. After all, not having “religion” can be just as “religious” as churches that are considered “religious”.
  6. If a church is focused on “numbers” versus “relationships”.  Many people will fall through the cracks if ministries are not in place that help individuals to fellowship with other believers.
  7. If your spouse will not attend the church with you, but is open to attending another church.
  8. If your children would greatly benefit from attending another church.
  9. If someone in your family is dealing with addiction, and the church you are attending is not sensitive to issues related to addiction. (For example, does the preacher talk about drinking alcohol in a favorable way, but your spouse is an alcoholic?)
  10. If your church does not support your family during the loss a family member or during a sickness. I think that churches have a responsibility to minister to their members during a family’s time of need. If your church does not reach out to you in your family’s time of need, there is something fundamentally wrong with the structure of the church as ministries should always be in place for this purpose.
  11. When the church has a pride issue. Do you hear the church singing its praises instead of praise unto the Lord?  Does the church market themselves, or cause controversy in the community?
  12. If you have grown in your faith and now have denominational differences. For example, I was raised in Pentecostal churches, and I really missed that style of worship. You could miss the structure or freedom found in other denominations. As we grow older, we often change denominations because we seek the Lord in other ways, and sometimes we go back to our roots.
  13. If the church or board of directors has dismissed multiple staff members over the course of a few years. This is usually an indicator of turmoil in the leadership. And, where there’s division, satan is at work. God doesn’t divide.
  14. When you have Biblically tried to resolve a conflict with another sister or brother in Christ, and that individual refuses to humble themselves in order to make peace. This is a huge issue, and can cause much division within the church. In some cases when this happens, it is best to leave. Always seek prayer when making this decision, but if this issue is not resolved that it effects the worship of every person involved.
  15. If the church has ever participated, or turned a blind eye to spiritual abuse within the church.
  16. If your church is not missions focused. It clearly states in the Bible that we should spread the Gospel to the nations. Missions should be a priority in all churches. Especially locally. But, there should be an international missions presence at your church as well.

 

I have to admit, some of these reasons were applicable in my family’s case when we left our old church, but some of these reasons are observations that I made from the lives of other Christians. Don’t get me wrong, there are BAD reasons to leave the church, but don’t let the enemy tell you that you shouldn’t leave as well! I think satan plays mind games with us when we try to seek God’s will.

 

In the next part of this series, I will discuss some BAD reasons to leave your church, and how to pray for God’s will when making the transition. Hopefully, these tips will help you avoid some of the mistakes that my family made in the transition.

 

Until then… be sure to comment below! I would love to know if you have had to leave your church. How did you leave your church? How was the transition? What were your greatest challenges?

 

Thanks SO much for reading this article about how to leave your church! We here at RSHTH hope that it has helped you in your transition.

 

 

 

 

ByAngie

How To Build Your Own Lemonade Stand Step 5: Be Positive

So, here you are. You’ve gone through all of the steps to make your lemonade & construct your lemonade stand by grieving, forgiving, accepting, and moving on. Now you have reached the point where you set up shop, practice good customer service, and make those sales.

“Huh? What are you even talking about? Stop with the metaphors or at least explain them!”

Okay, I’ll explain. Sorry.

  • Set up shop: Carry yourself in confidence. Never think that because this event happened that you are damaged or less than anyone else. Walk with your head held high and know that you are a child of God. Never walk aimlessly, have a purpose… To serve God and live according to his will.
  • Customer Service: Smile. Be positive! When someone tells you a story or something they are going through, don’t try to bring them down by putting every ounce of negativity you have on them with your words or expressions. Having a bad day? Stop and mention the positive. Remember Pollyanna? (If you don’t, watch the movie) Look on the sunny side. You might be having a bad day, but for everything you count as bad count 2 more things that you are blessed with. When you’re down, you bring everyone down around you. Don’t be that guy… (To clarify, you can feel down sometimes. Just don’t let it define you.)
  • Make The Sale: When someone says to you, “Oh wow, I can’t believe you lived through that.” feel free to say what a struggle it was. Be real, and give God the glory! You never know who you might encourage or witness to by giving all acknowledgement to Him! Don’t act like a victim, be a survivor!

(If achieving this step is just too much work, consider seeking counseling. There is no shame in asking someone for a little help. Also, depression is a very serious illness that can happen to anyone. It is not something that you can “just snap out of”. Seek help if you need it, please.)

So, what do you do now? Sit back, relax, and drink some lemonade!!!

God bless!

 

 

ByAngie

How To Build Your Own Lemonade Stand Step 4: Moving On

8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the Spiritis in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 14 Therefore He says:

“ Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.”

Ephesians 5:8-14 NKJV

Okay, so you’ve done all that you can in the kitchen for now. It is time to grab a hammer, some nails, a couple planks of wood and head outside.

Moving on can be one of the most difficult tasks. Leaving behind something that has been consuming you for some time can be a lot of work. So, why must we move on? Why can’t we just stay where we are? Because if you sit and dwell on what has happened, you will never be happy. It is not God’s will for us to be sad or angry. There is a season for that, yes, but it does come to an end. That is why it is a season, it changes.

Now is the season where things become warm, metaphorically. You began this struggle in the late Autumn. During the Winter you grieved. Late Winter and Spring you forgave and accepted. Now, it is Summer… and people are thirsty and in need of your lemonade. Soon they may be in the late Autumn and will need to remember how wonderful Summertime was and what that Lemonade you made them tasted like.

Will you ever go back to the kitchen? Oh yes. You’re going to have to go back to get sweetener, supplies, and once in awhile you’re going to have to take in more lemons to squeeze them out. But for now, you’re building your stand and preparing for the next step which I’ll be talking about next week when we conclude this series: Setting up shop and customer service.

As tempting as it is to go back inside because the sun is so bright and the air too warm, remember God got you this far… He’ll take you even farther! And if you want to go farther, you can’t live in the past… Put on a smile and a pair of work gloves (Read your Bible and have faith), because it’s time for you to construct (pray for) your shop front (attitude)!

ByAngie

The Unexpected Burden

Yesterday afternoon I went out to run some errands with my Mom. I still wasn’t feeling 100%, but I just wanted to get out of the house for a little while. I decided to take Tommy (3 1/2) along and leave Johnny Ben and Molly at home with Daddy.

We had a couple stops, one of them being Target. I was tired, Tommy was tired, my Mom was tired. All I could think of was getting back in her truck and going home. When we came to the register the cashier was just counting in and starting her shift. She greeted us, asked if we found everything okay, and from there stayed silent. The expressions on her face and her mannerisms told me something in her life other than work was bothering her. Her mind and heart were somewhere else, and that somewhere else was not a happy place. Tommy even seemed to notice and asked her to smile, but she pretended not to hear him or was so distracted she did not notice.

I made mental note of the name on her name tag. I was polite but tried not to bother her with idle chit chat. I smiled at her, took the bags, and quietly prayed for her as she continued the process. I did not feel led to ask her why she was unhappy, but did feel a tug telling me to pray.

Since we left the store about 20 hours ago, this woman has come to mind constantly. I have no idea why she has been laid on my heart, but God does. I pray for her, asking God to do what needs to be done and touch her life.

How many times have we been asked by The Lord to do something like this and have ignored it? I know I have before. How many times have strangers done this for us? We many never know until we reach Heaven.

For all we know, when these burdens are laid on our hearts, we could be the only person praying for this individual. We could also be one of hundreds working together. The point is, GOD KNOWS. He really does. He loves that woman just as much as He loves me. He hates seeing her go through pain. He needs someone to hold her up in the spiritual realm just as much as she needs someone in the physical realm. Never ignore the Holy Spirit when he says to pray for someone… For all you know, the next time a burden is laid on a strangers heart… It may be for you!

ByDiania

What’s On My Heart

I simply want to sit down and tell you everything in my life is wonderful, but to do that would be a lie. I feel as tho I am going thru transitions that scare me, ones I can’t control and am not even sure I want to try.

Being the oldest of our four writers you would think I would have a little more insight on how to handle life. But, like everyone else, I stand back fighting depression and decisions that weigh heavy on my heart every day. I know my God won’t put on me more then I can handle, but where exactly is that point, when does one break, or is it even an option?

A couple weeks ago I was talking with an old friend who had a mental break down and had been in the hospital. She seemed a little reluctant to tell me she had a nervous breakdown. I could see the embarrassment in her eyes. Then I started to tell her that a nervous break down is actually just a break thru, and now she could breathe a lot easier because God has lifted the burden and pain from her. I watched as her eyes began to shine, and as she set there for a while I could see her thinking. A few minutes later she began to thank me and said that was a wonderful way to look at it. She seemed to be relieved as I explained to her that she would be able to go on now and leave those burdens completely behind her. When I left her I knew God put me there for a reason. His child was hurting and I left knowing He had used me to help her heal…

So in the mean time I can’t help but wonder just where I will be and who God may use to help me thru what ever it is that holds me from surrendering and breaking thru myself. After all, going thru means I gotta come out on the other end. Your prayers are most welcome..

Love,

ByAngie

How To Build Your Own Lemonade Stand Step 1: Grieve

1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven:2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;4 time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;7 a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NKJV

For some reason, many people (not just men) are afraid to admit that they are not experiencing any emotion other than joy. Especially Christians. Some feel that it is sinful, or makes them not as good as the next person. However, as the scripture above points out, (Turn, Turn, Turn… Ha, you know it’s stuck in your head now too…) there is a time for everything.

To mourn and grieve is very important to the healing process. Without embracing the truth, acknowledging it, dealing with it, and accepting that something happened you may not ever truly move on. Sure, you can be all happy/smiley and say “Praise the Lord!” after everything everyone says, but that doesn’t mean you’re happy. The body, heart, mind, and soul need to grieve in a healthy matter for a healthy amount of time. It should not be rushed or dragged out.

Unfortunately, really horrible bad things happen in this world: Death, natural and unnatural. Rape. Miscarriage. Child abuse. Illness. Job loss. Divorce. Infidelity. Break ups. Infertility. Muggings. Robberies. Car accidents. Etc, etc, etc… After any of these situations, it is normal to grieve and expected. It is even normal to “mildly grieve” over much smaller less upsetting situations. Anyone who’s had a bad hair cut knows what I’m talking about. (I forgive Karen & Emily for butchering my hair when I was 16, really… but that doesn’t mean I didn’t mourn it for a few days.)

Yes, as Christians we should have joy. Yes, we should see the positive and not the negative. But we are also commanded that there IS a time to mourn. That means it’s accepted. Should you not allow this process, you may miss out on a complete healing.

Just remember, it’s called GOOD GRIEF for a reason. And that prayer is NEVER a bad thing. The more the better!

ByAngie

I Won A Prize!!!

In July of 2004, I made friends with a group of people in an IHOP. If you know me, this comes as no surprise. We ended up merging our tables and the other group came and sat with my group. One of these persons is a guy who we will refer to as “Chuck”…

That night was full of fun and laughter. I kept in touch with a few via phone, text, myspace, email, etc. “Chuck” was one of them. A few years later we reacquainted. I was busy with work/life and never thought twice about him. He was dating Julie, who I didn’t know.

Fast forward a few months: “Chuck” is about to leave for deployment (He was a Marine) and wants to meet up, just as friends. Before you know it, “Chuck” and I are dating. Only mentioned an ex-girlfriend a few times. Leaves for Iraq, and while there: rips my heart to shreds. I was left hurt, very confused, and angry. I was determined before that to never fall for anyone again, and I did… only to be let down.

In the time we were dating before he left, I got to know some of his friends. One was his best friend’s girlfriend, Le Anna. When “Chuck” and I broke up, she insisted I come along on a girls night. She brought 2 other girls. Steph and….. Julie, who also brought her now husband. I realized within seconds she was the girl in the pictures with “Chuck” a few months before I started dating him, but we were very cool with each other and quickly became friends. Before the end of the night, she ended up consoling me, and we both insisted we had to remain in contact.

That was almost 5 years ago. Now, I could easily look back on all of that and say “God, why? Why did you allow my heart to be broken?” However, I look at it like this, “God, thank you for the gift of friendship you have given me in these 3 women. Especially Julie. She’s always there right when I need her with a wise word, song lyric, or scripture. It was all worth it to know these girls!”

God knows what he’s doing, people. All the time. Even when we aren’t serving him at the time. And what may seem like something horrible in your midst, never forget that something good can come from it. Even the Bible states this:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:28 NKJV

A month after I met Julie, I met and married my husband Bobby who is the love of my life. I could have NEVER imagined that I would ever find someone like him. He is a dream come true and one of the greatest gifts God ever gave me. I quickly forgot about “Chuck”, and still had 3 awesome new friends! A few months later, Julie and Chad were married and remain to be very happy.

You know what that means…

“Chuck” is apparently “Good Luck”… If you’re single and tired of it, I suggest looking him up… Just kidding. Save yourself the trouble, don’t. Just be friends with us instead.