Does mental illness actually have a face? I suppose many of us, if asked, might sketch something dark, melancholy, even abstract, however, I am beginning to see mental health concerns from a new perspective.
Imagine with me buying one of those big containers of wildflower seeds from your local gardening supply store. In late winter or early spring, after cultivating your garden soil into a deep, dense and rich haven, in which your newly bought seeds will begin to grow and flourish, you wait with great expectation for late spring or early summer when all your flowers begin to bloom and you have a carpeted menagerie of Dahlia’s, Zinna’s, Sunflower’s and more. This is how I am beginning to view mental health awareness.
A collective of beautiful minds that:
- think deeply.
- feel on a deeper, rawer level than most not only for themselves but for others and this can be very overwhelming,
- have HUGE compassionate hearts that bruise, break and agonize easily.
What I have learned and am continuing to learn:
- outbursts are not about you. They may be directed at you but most likely they are situational in your loved ones life.
- when your loved one is experiencing a downward spiral help out in any way possible keeping as close to a routine as possible. Maybe that means doing things for your loved one that they would otherwise be able to do for themselves. Something as simple as offering them their medicine, making their meals or doing a load of their laundry.
- find a support group or start one.
- lower your expectations. Not of your loved one but for yourself. You may not be able to ‘do’ all the things you want to accomplish and that is okay. Tomorrow is another day.
- Take care of you so you can take care of your loved one.
- You are not alone.
Together you can bloom where you are planted.
It didn’t take me long to embrace this season of restoration. In fact, I jumped and was caught in a bed of springtime flowers. “Here I am Lord, restore me!” Reality check. Restoration is a process.
The saying “Let go and let God” comes to mind. Hmm, letting go. Sometimes I think we hold on so tightly to the way we think things ought to be we actually lose sight of Who God is and what HE is doing! The current conversation I am having with God; “But God, I’m such a good helper!” “My child, I don’t require your help.” “But God” “My daughter there are not ‘buts’, just be.”
Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know.
Earlier this morning as I was praying I was thinking about an encouragement that I see often across social media in various forms. The thought is if we are meeting with resistance or experiencing push back then surely God is getting ready to bless us. I’m still looking for where that is specifically in Scripture and if you have any verse references please leave them in the comments.
Resistance and push back are simply part of the enemy’s plan to lie, cheat, steal and destroy. Especially when we begin to choose to go deeper into an intimate relationship with God. Satan doesn’t want us to know one iota more about our identity, authority or inheritance in Christ than we currently do because he knows what that will look like for him and glory to God it isn’t pretty!
As I continued to pray this morning I heard Holy Spirit gently whisper, “You push back, you resist.” In a moment’s notice my prayers did an about face and I began to fight back in prayer like the mighty warrior that I am.
Spiritual warfare is so real that is why it is so important to be in God’s word everyday. Holy Spirit infuses you with Scripture that he imprints on your heart and in your soul and when the moment is called for He brings the right verse to mind. He gives us His words for the battle.
Precious One, as the old saying goes, “Them’s fightin’ words!”
This morning I woke up singing the song “Same Power” by Jeremy Camp. Specifically, these words.
The same power that rose Jesus from the grave
The same power that commands the dead to wake
Lives in us, lives in us
The same power that moves mountains when He speaks
The same power that can calm a raging sea
Lives in us, lives in us
He lives in us, lives in us
These words remind me of Romans 8:11. If you are a believer in Christ Jesus as your Lord and Savior then HIS Spirit lives in you! The same Spirit Who raised Jesus from the grave. If you grab a hold of nothing else today, may it be the truth that the Supernatural power of Christ lives in you and you can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens you. Not some things but all things.
Precious One, dig deep into God’s word, He’s waiting there for you.
When our son was a little guy he was quite the curious boy. I spent a lot of time telling him not to do certain things. Not because I didn’t want him to explore, his curiosity is one of the things I love about him, but because his curiosity was usually about things that could hurt him.
There was the time we were getting out of the SUV and before I could tell him, “Don’t touch that!” He stuck his sweet chubby hand in the exhaust, yep, still has a scar on his pinky from that one. Or, the time when we were at the happiest place on earth and he decided to see if he could fit his head through the slats in the metal gate as we were waiting in line for a ride. Thankfully, another dad was there to gently help my husband extract our son from that predicament!
We teach and encourage our children about the things they should and shouldn’t do, hoping they are listening and will eventually pass down to their children these nuggets of wisdom. In the same way the prophet Joel was admonishing the children of Israel to remind all future generations of what turning away from God looks like.
This reminds me of God’s promise to bless a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep his commandments (Exodus 20:6). When we choose to love and obey Him, to seek out his will for our life and live accordingly, he promises to bless a thousand generations. PROMISES. Wouldn’t you love for a thousand generations of your family to be blessed simply because you love and obey him?
Pray in faith, thanking God for showing and helping you to love Him and obey his commandments. Thanking Him for the gifts of confession, repentance and forgiveness, thanking Jesus for showing you the sin and unforgiveness in your life and thanking Holy Spirit for always helping you to confess, repent and forgive.
Precious One, you have the ability to bless the generations. Will you?
As I sit at our big living room window enjoying the last of the dark of night before the sun comes up, I am reminded of the song; Everything. Here are a few of the lyrics.
“God in my hoping; There in my dreaming; God in my watching; God in my waiting.”
And, I watch literal sheets of rain fall.
We live in the state that for the last five years we thought would become a desert, yes, that state. Now there may be concern that we might need to build an ark!
And yet, I see God. I see God in the sheets of rain. The visible presence of a supernatural and loving God.
I am overwhelmed, I am awed and I am humbled that my God would choose to reveal Himself in a very real and tangible way. He doesn’t have too; Scripture tells us we walk by faith not by sight. He loves us so much He many times chooses to show us that his presence is always with us and there are countless times we completely miss these beautiful blessings of His nearness to us.
Precious One, the drought is over in more ways than one, but you can only see this by staying connected to The Vine.
I sit at my desk looking out my big front window as the pre dawn morning begins to take shape. Commuters leaving their houses to get to their jobs, mostly likely traveling down the craziest two lane road left in our once small farming community, that has become one of the more expensive places to rent and own and raise a family. I pray for them.
And, as I sit and pray for my family I am struck by the many changes that have happened already in this new year. I no longer make resolutions for each new year because every day is an opportunity to become more of the person God created me to be. To be restored by Him and released from the years of familial spiritual bondage that takes our focus off of God and causes us to forget that we walk in victory, we walk in the love of a Savior who died a torturous death on a cross for the forgiveness of sins for all mankind. The bondage that causes us to forget the truth of God’s word and his promises.
Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 28:18). He also said, “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” (Luke 10:19).
Father God gave his beloved Son, Jesus all authority in heaven and earth and Jesus gives us authority to trample on snakes, serpents, lions and scorpions. Interestingly, one of the words in the original text for serpent is monster. I think that is an accurate description of the enemy. And regardless of what childhood memories the word monster may bring up for you, we overcome all the power of the enemy and nothing; no man, woman or thing, will harm us; acting contrary what is divinely approved.
Here is the key and I can’t say this often enough, we must practice the spiritual discipline of reading and studying God’s word daily. A few verses back from the one in the cobra picture, we read:
If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling. Psalm 91:9.
When you make the Lord your shelter, the place you hang out the most, that safe and trusted place then surely you will tread on the lion and the cobra and trample the great lion and the serpent.
Precious One, press in and persevere, sit in the presence of the Lord and put on your stompin’ boots.
If you have ever had the pleasure of smelling jasmine you know that it’s aroma can be intoxicating. It’s fragrance is warm and exotic. Even now as I look out our big front window and watch the beginning of the falling rain on this cold, windy and cloudy day, the memory of the scent of jasmine takes me back to bright sunny summer days spent relaxing in the perfect temperature – not too hot and not too cool.
Jasmine is also a prized essential oil. One of the processes of extracting the oil from the delicate flowers is through steam distillation. Steam is passed through the flowers causing its cellular makeup to break down and burst forth with its precious oil. Actually, the liquid that comes from the break down is a combination of water and oil, which is funneled into a vat where the oil floats on top of the water and is then collected to be bottled. It takes eight million jasmine flowers to produce just two pounds of this precious oil.
This process reminds me of the ongoing work of Holy Spirit in the lives of believers, especially when we are in seasons of being broken down so who we are in Christ can burst forth and that newness floats to the top and replaces old habits and thought processes and all that remains is a sweeter fragrance of who we are and are becoming in Christ, which we can offer as a beautiful sacrifice to God.
The distillation process is rarely easy but God doesn’t ask you to go through it alone. He promises to never leave you or forsake you and at the end of each juncture you are infused with even more of the sweetest aroma of heaven.
Precious One may the fragrance of who you are burst forth onto those you come in contact with today and everyday.
Currently I am on the road and today I had the opportunity to worship at a church in the area I am staying. The Pastor gave a message that I not only know but that I needed to hear again simply because I had done exactly what the Pastor’s message was about.
This particular faith family is in a sermon series titled, “The Red Words,” and today’s message was out of John 15.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”
I won’t retell the sermon but will share what really resonated with me. He asked us if we truly know what staying connected to Jesus looks like. Are we truly dependent on Jesus or do we bring what we think we can do in our own power and ask God to combine it with his power and then expect God to move?
He went on to tell the story of Darlene Deibler Rose, who was a missionary in Indonesia, and was captured and imprisoned by the Japanese during World War II. Darlene was tortured repeatedly while in prison, she was hungry and exhausted. One day she began to crave bananas and as she looked out the window of her prison cell she saw a guard smuggle bananas to another woman prisoner. She cried out asking God for just one banana. The next day she received ninety-two!
Darlene came to realize this truth; “What I needed to do was link my impotence to God’s omnipotence.” Darlene understood that in her weakness she could only depend on the unlimited power of God. She didn’t bring to God what she felt she could do in her own strength, she came to God completely powerless and trusted God’s power to work in her situation.
Later in the day I realized why this resonated with me, because I have been coming to God in the midst of struggles and bringing what I think I can do on my own and asking God to combine it with his mighty power. When I ought to come to him confessing that I am powerless to do anything apart from Him and that I am dependent on Him and his power to work in any situation in life.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9.
When we choose to stay connected to the Vine weakness is not a negative thing. Our weakness, our inability to do anything in our own power is when the supernatural power of God flows through us and spills into our life and our life situations.
Precious One, you are powerless but God is powerful. And that is something you already know.