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Three To-Do’s for the Christmas Blues

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-image34413435Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year! But this time of year can also yield bouts of depression, or “blues” for people. I’ve had the Christmas blues before; and it’s not that I wasn’t thankful for Christmas because I was. Rather, I had thankfulness and sadness at the same time. If you are having the blues, here are 3 things I’ve done. Again, I am not a professional, just a girl on a journey, sharing her story.
1) Consider Christian counseling in December. If you go once a week, that equates to four sessions. It’s probably the best Christmas gift you could give yourself because you are giving yourself the gift of release and peace. Don’t have the resources this time of year? Then when asked what you want for Christmas, tell them a 4-pack counseling session. If it’ll bring joy to you, it’ll bring joy to them to give it.
2) Go to Church. One of the hardest things to see is someone who tells me that can’t go to church because they’re sad. This can not be! The FIRST place we should run to in our sadness is God’s hospital. There is a supernatural, healing, holistic experience awaiting you that ONLY God can offer. Yes you will have to miserably drag yourself there, but I promise, you will leave better than you came.
3) Give. Give, give, give, give, give. Give old clothes to the homeless, give donations to your church, give time to the elderly, give free babysitting to a single mom, give volunteer hours somewhere. It’s true that it’s more blessed to give than to receive. I would also add: more healing. It’s the ultimate paradox: giving away is filling up. And that’s just what an “empty” soul needs–a fill-up.
I hope this encourages someone today. Merry Christmas, may you know His peace.

Prison Chain Reaction

img_0437Last night I got to go to prison with our CBG God-Behind-Bars team, and tonight I get to go back. You might think it’s nuts that I love being there. I wish I could explain why to you, but I’m still trying to understand why myself.  So last night, I was praying and thinking how I could pitch a reason why these women should invite someone else.  I know the biblical reasons, and the reasons we give non-inmates. But what is the incentive–if at all–to have one prisoner invite another prisoner to a church service in a prison?  Two words: chain reaction. By definition a chain reaction is: a reaction that results in a product necessary for the continuance of the reaction.  In the bible, Paul experienced a prison chain-reaction. While he was in prison with Silas, they introduced the JAILER, (yes, the jailer, i.e., warden!) to Jesus, who introduced his entire household (yes, ENTIRE household) to Jesus. Now that’s a chain reaction–because in Heaven, right now as I type this is Paul, Silas, the jailer, his family, his family’s family, his servants, his landscaper, his babysitter…!  And where did it start? In JAIL! These girls have walls AROUND them, but they have wide-open spaces in their hearts for Jesus to work THROUGH them. They have a freedom IN them to start a chain reaction that won’t change their exact location but WILL change somebody’s eternal destination!  If you have Christ in your heart, you have the greatest gift of all, available to all, to share with all, til all have heard!  May the chain-reaction start with screwed up people like you, me and them! 

When Life is Heavy and Hard to Take

When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear.” Lamentations 3:28-30

Someone once said, “Life is a many splendored thing.” It sure is. It’s got up’s and down’s like a blindfolded rider on a roller coaster!  So when I stumbled across this passage, it was like, SHAZAM! Right before me, the formula for when the roller-coaster of life unexpectedly dips and lags.

1) Go off by yourself. Why not? Shoot, Jesus did. If HE needed to, we definitely need to. And don’t be afraid or resistant to do this DAILY during this season of heaviness.
2) Be quiet. For the love of God, sometimes, we just need to shut up! We are always “on,” “online,” and “on a roll.” In this heavy season, convo may be hard anyway. Embrace it.
3) Pray. Period. The bible couldn’t make this any more clearly: “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Pray for yourself like no one else will!
4) Don’t ask questions. It’s ok to ask “why,” shoot, even Jesus did (“why have you forsaken me?”) but it is NOT ok to stay there. In this season of heaviness, ask why, but don’t stay there.
5) Wait. Not the kind of wait like in a pediatric wait-room with two sick kids for four hours (not that I would know). But like a child on Christmas Eve, knowing when you wake up, there’s something under the tree. Wait like this bible verse says, “wait for HOPE to appear.” Wait with resolve. Wait with expectation. Wait like a BOSS.

If you have a King in your heart, you have a King who is alertly active in this heavy season. You may be lagging but He’s not. Embrace this formula and live it out! I hope this encourages someone today.

Sometimes Love Has to Look Away

photoA few years ago, Andy’s dentist experience had him trembling, wincing, clutching and resisting, as they pulled a tooth without any numbing injection. DJ (see pic) finally got to the point where he couldn’t look any more. So he turned and faced the corner. Sometimes love has to look away. There’s a heart-wrenching moment in the bible when Jesus was on the cross and cried out to God, “why did you forsake me?” I am not a biblical scholar but I would surmise that Jesus felt like God looked away. And maybe, as Jesus took on all the sin of the world, God did. But nobody loved Jesus more than God. But sometimes? Love has to look away. I’ve watched good, godly parents turn in their addicted, suicidal and even criminal children. As the authorities took their child away–in their undeniable love–they looked away. We can love others so much that to look at them in their suffering or struggle can render us useless. But to hold on to them and keep looking at them might prevent the best from happening. God the Father had to let His Son die on the cross. I had to let Andy’s tooth be pulled. Sometimes love has to look away. But for Jesus, it took him from a cross on Earth, to a throne in Heaven–and you and me from our wretched sinful lives, to eternal forgiveness and freedom. Love does that.


The Addict’s Psalm

Some sat in darkness and deepest gloom, imprisoned in iron chains of misery. They rebelled against the words of God, scorning the counsel of the Most High. That is why he broke them with hard labor; they fell, and no one was there to help them. “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He led them from the darkness and deepest gloom; he snapped their chains. Psalm 107

“The Soles of Your Feet”

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“I have given you every place where the sole of your foot treads…I will not leave you or forsake you.” Joshua 1:3, 5

Tiny Steps on Tough Days

img_9331Sometimes you wake up and you can’t get out of bed…so you talk to God and He helps you get your feet on the floor.

Sometimes you get your feet on the floor, but you can’t take a step…so you talk to God and He lightens your step so you can.

Sometimes, you start taking steps into your day, but you feel like you’re dragging your heart…so you talk to God and He carries your heart for you.

Sometimes, you make it through the day, but you lie down at night and can’t stop thinking…so you talk to God and He gathers your fears and He gives you rest.

Life is tough. With God, life is still tough–but not impossible. On the days that life hands us a tough one–God is the one who can walk with us through it. All we have to do is ask.

“I will be your God throughout your lifetime—I will carry you along and save you.” Isaiah‬ ‭46:4‬ ‭

Just Give Up Already

img_9306A 1-minute post by my friend and guest-blogger, Chantel Martinez

If anyone’s familiar with that thought, it’s me. I’ve visited and revisited this all-too-familiar territory more times than I can count. As a child I never thought I had a problem. My parents never thought anything was wrong with me. I maintained good grades, rarely got in trouble at school, and did my chores. I remember as a child doing things to harm my body. As a kid, you don’t analyze your thoughts, you just respond to them. My parent’s had no idea the torment taking place in my mind. It wasn’t until my breaking point in 2011 that I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder. My mind was like a broken record repeating the words “Just give up already!” From sunrise to sunset they’d torment me, but I was not about to give up that easily and you aren’t either!

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is found in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I live by this verse! I believe it’s the reason I keep going. Believe me, there were numerous times in my life when I’ve felt I had thrown in the towel and given up on life. God used those moments to say to me “you may have given up on yourself today, but I NEVER will.” It’s okay to need some help in getting well. I still do. That doesn’t make us weak. We’re already too strong to take down and the devil doesn’t want us to seek anymore help. My friend, don’t give up. If you feel like you’re a total screw up. Like you’ve destroyed every good thing placed into your hands, or that you don’t deserve another chance. Believe me, I understand. Every second of every day I need to intentionally choose to ignore the pestering thought of “just give up already” and tune into God saying “just give it to me already.” I hope this encourages you today.

Why aren’t we happy?

img_9260I’ve traveled some lately, which has me at airports, rental-car agencies, and hotels. Such places lend themselves to people-watching. People watching is bittersweet, it can entertain me for hours, but when I am done, I’m often burdened for the people I watched. I will see certain people, who I’m so impacted by, I will find myself praying for them the rest of the day and into the night. Why aren’t people happy? I see such heaviness in people. I know, first hand, as do you, that life is hard. But if I didn’t have my joy, my life would have stopped a long time ago. Life is going to be chock full of hardship for some, and intermittent hardship for others. But in between those seasons, and IN them, we have to have joy. There has to be joy in our bellies, to get through life on Earth. I don’t want to raise this debbie-downer observation without a solution. So as I head out to the airport tomorrow, I challenge myself with this: wherever I go, leave joy behind, because there’s people there who need it. And because my joy comes from the Lord, I don’t have to worry about it ever running out. “so that I may come to you with joy, by Godʼs will, and in your company be refreshed.” Romans‬ ‭15:32‬

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