Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Psalm 37:37~Behold the Upright

LiahNora, Joshua's Cat

Good morning, dear readers,

King David writes:

"Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace."

How many of us can attest to this verse? Raise your hands now. :)

I want to tell you a true story. One that I am not proud of. Over a month ago, I was very ill, and it was just past the anniversary of Joshua's death. I was sick at heart and plain sick. I coughed and coughed until I could no longer sleep lying down. It was right before the time I moved to a recliner and sat up to sleep at night, when it happened.

Weary worn one morning, I went out to water the goats. I had a pressure in my chest and I had to think about breathing. As I placed the clean pail of water in its spot, my new neighbors were walking toward the boundry wire fence that was between us. I'm certain they did not know I was within hearing distance.

The wife said, "Those goats stink . . .," and she said a cuss word.

I thought I misunderstood her words. Did she just say goats? The new neighbors that backed their RV right  up against the goat pen when they had other hook ups to choose from? No, I thought.

Then, the husband said, "What?" She repeated her words, and ended with, ". . . don't they?" Hoping her husband would agree, I imagine.

Well, let's just say I lost it. Let's also say that Satan knows exactly when to tempt us to sin. I was not the perfect person and I was not having upright thoughts, so I had no peace. I blurted out to my new neighbor, "What did you just say?"

The wife blew up and yelled words at me. I shook my head in disbelief, and I said, "It makes no sense whatsoever that you parked your RV right up against the goat pen."

She said more words and I raised my voice, and scolded, "You are not a nice lady," and I walked away.

Why, pray tell, did I not keep my blooming mouth shut? I was caught off guard that's what. My defenses were down. I had no tolerance for anything. I'd just went through the ninth anniversary of my son's death.

Now, dear readers, I am NOT making excuses. I am showing you what happened when Satan caught me off guard. We must as often as possible keep our guards up against his fiery darts. The results of those darts tortured me for three weeks.

I had no peace about the situation with my neighbor, and I wanted to apologize to her. No matter that she began the conflict. God doesn't care who starts the fight. As followers of Christ, we must as the scripture teaches turn the other cheek. I did not. I boldly spoke words I should have kept to myself.

When I told my son Jason what I had done, and that I was seeking an opportunity to appologize, he said, "Mom, that's good, because you may be the only Bible she'll ever read."

Gulp . . . The knot I nursed inside my gut melted.

Did God bring the perfect timing for me to say "I'm sorry"? Yes, indeed, and now the wife and I speak over the fence and I am grateful.

Father God, thank You for allowing me to right a wrong. My words spoken in anger are taken away and forgiven by You and my new neighbor. In Jesus' holy name. Amen.

Until next time . . . guard your hearts in prayer from the Tempters darts.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Today, I'd like to bring back Jiwan, the amazing teen writer who blogs at Live and Laugh With Jesus. Jiwan has great news about going onto university, which you'll see God in action. Please click the link above and read her short testimony.

Jiwan, thank you for returning and answering these most difficult questions on depression and suicide. As a student, have you ever heard of anyone in your high school who has attempted suicide or died by suicide?

I know of a many who have contemplated suicide, one who attempted suicide and unfortunately I lost a wonderful friend this summer, he had taken his own life.

I'm sadden to hear that, Jiwan. What are the general feelings or thoughts from your circle of friends about what this person has done?

Most of us don’t talk about it, because the concept is so surreal. We will say a few lines about it, and then the mood becomes somber, because I don’t think we can fathom the reality of what happened when we lost our friend. I don’t know how else to say it but we were devastated and confused and somewhat angry. I just don’t think we can believe that it happened.    
 Does this act to end a life shock or surprise you and your friends?

I think it does surprise us. And in a way it is strange that it surprises us. Suicide is not a topic that we have never heard about before. But the act of taking one’s own life is so final, is so permanent that even though you hear about it you can’t believe someone can take such a drastic step- at least not someone you know.

But then when you stand there and watch your friend in a casket it seems like everything falls through. Everything you thought was secure is not, and your love towards the person seems meaningless. So I guess surprise can be used to describe the feeling, but it must be paired with empty. Because at that point I know we all just felt empty.

 Do you have thoughts as to why this could be happening? Could it be too much pressure to succeed? Too little time for everything a student wants to accomplish? Or do you believe it could be something else altogether that causes a young person to end their life?

Well, first there is some generic stuff, like hormone and body changes that a child doesn’t know how to deal with; struggles in the home play a huge factor. But I think- and I don’t know if this is right or wrong--so please extend grace--but I think it’s a mixture of not knowing if you’ll ever feel happy again and our culture. 

When you’re depressed you feel like nothing good exists, like this feeling of despair will never end. And our culture today is very hedonistic, we think we should always be happy, on a perpetual ecstasy. So I think either individuals feel broken and then look at a “happy” world and think there is something wrong with them and go further into depression. 

Or that individual pursues pleasure, thinks displeasure is unnatural and then doesn’t know how to deal with negative emotions and feels hopeless. Of course this doesn’t encompass every situation, but I do think it plays a role--especially when I talk to some of my friends.

Lastly, Jean Ann, kids are cruel. I don’t know if my generation is more or less cruel then in generations past, but they are cruel. Sometimes, you just don’t feel like fighting them any longer.

  What would you say to a young adult who feels hopeless and helpless to change the circumstances of their situation?

I don’t know if this is good advice or not, but I am currently talking to a girl who is dealing with depression and battling it. I try to get her to engage in the world around her. Sometimes when you look at your situation and are only engulfed in your situation you lose track of everything that is going on around you. But if you lift your head, you will find joy, hear of other people’s struggles and get your mind off of yourself. That’s what I usually say, but it is a process of love and relationship.

If you had a friend who was depressed, give us more of an idea of how would you try to help them.

That saddest thing is I don’t know how to help them. You try and try and try but sometimes you can’t make it better--that is the most frustrating part. I try to be there for them when they need to talk, try to get their mind off of their situations, sometimes I pray for them and I all in all try to keep a relationship. That is very difficult and sometimes people can be irrational when they are emotional, but I just try to meet them where they are. But it is very difficult, and I just hope what I do helps.

    Do you believe Christians are immune to suicidal thoughts?

I must admit I’ve never given it much thought. But I don’t see any reason to believe this, so I would say no, I do not believe Christians are immune to suicidal thoughts.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, Jiwan.

Hmmm… well I’m 17 years old, I love sports, especially basketball and, like other girls, I talk a lot. MOST importantly I am a follower of Christ.

   What would you like to see yourself doing five years from now, ten years from now?

You know I’ve wanted to be in the ministry for quite some time. And when I start university next year I will be majoring in the Bible and philosophy (maybe theology). And I always thought I would become a Christian apologist, but as time is passing, I’ve felt God nudge me more into woman’s ministry--specifically in restoration of women who have been wounded by the sex industry. Now I don’t know what God has for me yet, actually I don’t know at all, but I wouldn’t be surprised if in 5-10 years I was working in Thailand, for the name of our Lord.

   Do you one day want to be a wife and mother?

I don’t know about wife and mother. I do long for my husband--I won’t lie--but I don’t know if it’s the culture we are raised in or my own personality that does not want me to be married anytime soon. And actually, although I do sometimes wonder what God has for me in regards to marriage, I can’t see myself getting married. There is too much still left to be done for God!

I want to make use of my singleness, and once you’re married with a family your ministry involvement changes. So even though I want a husband, I don’t think God has finished molding me into a proverbs 31 woman and I don’t want to hinder my ministry work. So that was a very long answer to say… no I don’t see myself as a wife and mother, at least not yet.

Jiwan, thank you again for stepping up and answering these difficult questions. Suicide is a growing sorrow in our world, and we so appreciate your thoughts on the topic of depression and suicide. God bless you dear friend!

Father, thank You for bringing Jiwan into my life. She inspires me to keep at the race You have set before me as I seek to love and follow after You. In Jesus' holy name. Amen.

Until next time . . . find a teen and learn from them.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Psalm 40:5~Thy Wonderful Works

Hog Creek at left, flowing into Rogue River in Southern Oregon

Good morning, dear readers,

David writes this:

"Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered."

Isn't this a most amazing declaration from David? After all the sorrows, trials, and sufferings by his own hand and by the acts of others, he could still praise God and speak a truth too often hidden by the world. God's wonderful works and His thoughts toward us are so many, they can not be numbered.

Now you math whizzes will find this even more mind boggling than the rest of us who don't "get" numbers. Even I am trying to imagine how awesome is our God, but honestly, we won't understand until we see God in Heaven.

For now, this can bring us great peace and hope, can't it? If you're having a grouchy day, like I am having today, this can sooth our hearts like Castor oil on sore feet.

I don't know what your grouchy time might look like, but if I stop long enough and take a deep breath, I can see that God is bigger, smarter, more lovable than anyone on earth.

That makes me smile, even if just a tad on my cranky day. :)

So to begin our week, let's remember the above verse and stretch our hearts to include God in our hard or good day, no matter what it may be.

Dear holy Father, please be with us, Your often sick at heart children, and teach us to reach out to You first and not another. In Jesus' holy name. Amen.

Until next time . . . remember Lord God first.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Psalm 37:1~Fret Not Thyself

Me and brother Eric who was like my baby boy (5-8-1968 to 2-24-2008)

Dear readers,

King David wrote:

"Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity."

Have you ever worried when you've came across evildoers? You know, people that are against you? I have too many times to count, as a matter of fact, I'm so guilty of fretting, I just know that will be a judgement against me as I go before the Lord. I hate it when folks are mean. It hurts. It tears at my heart.

I'm a work-in-progress to let it go and let God do the battle that wages in my heart from the hurt.

It especially hurts when it's someone you are close to, but David says, "Fret not thyself because of evildoers." Amen. No more discussion.

I love it that some people are gifted with letting the pain of an evil deed roll off their backs like water off a duck's. I long to live by their example. I believe it shows they are mature in the Lord.

Having lost my son to suicide, I must admit this kind of fretting that David talks about has lessened somewhat for me. I've learned to let it go, just a bit, because I've got enough trouble just coping and giving my sorrow of Joshua's death to Lord God.

I tell myself, "For today, I will let backstabbing or whatever has happened by another person, be God's concern. He will deal with my trouble for me much better than I.

Have you noticed that too many folks can't say, and mean it, "I'm sorry?"

Why is that, I wonder.

God says that love covers a multitude of sins (I Peter 4:8) and to say, "I'm sorry," and mean it, takes love.

Father, please help me to let You handle the battles of the unkindness of others. It is not my business to fret myself against evildoers. Thank You for showing us the way to truth. In Jesus' holy name. Amen.

Until next time . . . fret not!