Depression is here, But God is bigger

So I have had a rough few weeks. I have kind of been absent from life. I had started a new exercise journey through a group called LiveStrong. It’s for cancer survivors who are trying to get back to exercising. Problem is surgeries, chemo, radiation, and lots of meds tend to just mess things up tremendously. You are not the same person you were emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I used to be athletic. I used to love Zumba. Not happening anymore. I am almost 5 years out.  I started the class thinking, “I got this.” NOT! I am probably in worse shape than most of them in the class. For 4 years I couldn’t do anything so I didn’t. My muscles are shot. My joints are shot. My body is shot. I was not progressing like I thought I should. I hurt so much. I then went for a mammogram and they found another spot. I spiraled. Into a depression. One that I am fighting to get through still to this day. I have had to come to terms with the fact that my body will never be the same. Due to good advice, I decided I would rather go into exercise and be sore than sit on the couch complaining all day from joint pain and muscle exhaustion. I had to deal with the fact that even though the cancer could come back – MY GOD IS BIGGER. He is bigger than all of this. He is bigger than the pain and the exhaustion and He is bigger than the cancer!!!

The song ‘Even If’ by Mercy Me has a line that says,

“I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone

They say it only takes a little faith
To move a mountain
Well good thing
A little faith is all I have, right now
But God, when You choose
To leave mountains unmovable
Oh give me the strength to be able to sing
It is well with my soul”

IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL!!!

Matthew 17:20

He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

I would really go to hell for cussing???

So my husband ran across a blog that a young lady had written stating she really saw nothing in the Bible that said she wouldn’t go to heaven for cussing our any kind of profanity.

I remember those days when I thought that too. I mean what is wrong with it? It’s not like God will keep me from heaven for those things.

Profane is defined as: ‘treat (something sacred) with irreverence or disrespect.’

   It’s disrespectful. To God. 

Now, if you have no respect for God this is the end of the line for you.  But if you choose to love and respect our powerful God then continue reading. This is a choice for you. And it is a life or death choice – in my eyes. So decide carefully.

God deserves our ultimate respect. He has provided something for us no one can. A forever life in eternal joy and peace. Not here on earth living a worldly life. But in relationship with him that provides eternal love and a future in heaven with Him.  He has showed us unconditional love. He takes care of us. He asks only for us to love and respect Him in return. And His love and respect for us is always so much more than we ever give Him. But He never backs off.

When we use profanity and are profane in any way we are completely and totally disrespecting God.

It’s that act of being profane that is the problem. When you are in relationship with Him you should want to tell others about Him and show what it’s like to be so loved and taken care of by Him. But when you act profane – you are just disrespecting Him. You will not be a witness to what it’s like to truly be a child of God in the midst of it.

You see, I spent years thinking it was ok. As my relationship grew with God and I really saw how He was taking care of me, I then understood the importance of not constantly cussing. I knew out of respect for a God that had done so much for me, I had to stop.

You will not lead people to Jesus in the midst of acting profane. I mean who really sees Jesus in that??!!!

It was not an easy decision. People look at you weird when you don’t follow them. Sometimes it makes them feel uncomfortable. But I promise, the more I chose to cut off those who were not good for me and being the difference for God, I felt the most amazing thing. An undeniable peace and joy and warmth in my heart. And so much courage to stand for Him because I knew what I was doing was right.

James3:8-10″ but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers,[c] these things ought not to be so”

It can not be done without God. The tongue is the most powerful muscle. Use it wisely. Allow God to use it wisely.

 

LIVE CRUCIFORM-???

Living Cruciform. I have heard this and heard this many times this week.

Live  cruciform. What in the world does that mean? A cruciform is a cross. To be challenged to live cruciform means live the shape of the cross. Look up and stretch out. Live cruciform.

I have not done that like I should in the past. It’s what I realize this world needs. People who are living more cruciform.  Turn off the tv’s and the facebook. Look up and stretch out those arms. Open yourself to all that God is telling you and listen!!! Listen!!! Listen!! Then OBEY!!!!!

Jesus broke His body for us. Our broken hearts were taken and filled with His grace and mercy and we have our heads down. Worrying more about what others think of us than what He thinks of us.

If we don’t look up and open ourselves to Him we become vulnerable to Satan and all the destructive thoughts and temptations he will throw our way. Allow Him to be our ‘sheepgate’. We are His sheep. He is our gate that protects us from Satan. We have to choose to step in and allow Him to fill our brokenness and protect our hearts and our minds.

Romans 12:2a (ESV)                                                                                        “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, ……”

Personally, I will tell you this has become a daily challenge for me. As I struggle through while my husband is having to work tons of hours right now and barely sees me. I could easily go slump myself in a corner. Read facebook and start going off on how awful my life is and my husband is for doing this to me. But I choose to look up and not let those destructive thoughts in my head. Because that is what destroyed my other marriages. God will get us through this tough time. God will take are of us. It is all promised to those of us who are faithful to Him. My husband has a job and one that allows me to stay home. #counthoseblessings.

Remember my last post?

Lets count those blessings:

  1. my husband has a good job
  2. my husband works hard to provide and take care of me
  3. I have a husband who really wants to take care of me this time
  4. my husband loves God more than me(YES THAT IS A BLESSING!)
  5. the weather has been wonderful the past 2 days(had to slip that in)

Now your turn. Don’t let Satan put destructive thoughts in your head. Count those blessings. Allow God to protect your mind. LIVE CRUCIFORM!!!

 

Give it to God

I have dealt with brokenness for years. From my second divorce to being diagnosed with breast cancer. I am a 4 year survivor and thought I was in the clear except dealing with lots of side affects and very bad health – that I had just decided to give to God to help me get under control. But then at my mammogram this week a spot was found on my left breast. I was asking what the heck is going on here??!!! I offered my brokenness and I get more. I am reeling from it all and trying to figure it all out. But I know for a fact that I still have got to give it to God. I have to. I had a friend ask me what other choice do I have except to wallow in it and be depressed and crying all the time. At my lowest point – giving it all to God.

I have started reading “Broken Way” by Ann Voskamp. She is a writer that is not afraid to be vulnerable and open up about all that she is dealing with. Her first book “A Thousand Gifts” was a book about thanksgiving and counting your blessings. I read it during my chemotherapy days. I learned the importance of counting your blessings before offering yourself to others and to God. When Jesus  took communion with his disciples, Luke 22:19 says, ‘And he took bread and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them…’

He took the bread and He gave thanks. Always in our life our first thing we should do is give thanks. GIVE. THANKS.

My last blog I talked of my struggle of knowing all I needed to do is give this to God and trust Him to take care of me. But I will honestly say I have not recently done a very good job at giving thanks to Him for what I have now. Thanks for how far He has brought me and taken care of me and my daughter.

Our hearts have been broken by many things. This brokenness an be bad. But ‘bad brokenness can be broken by good brokenness’. The first thing to do to take care of your heart is to always give thanks. Give your broken heart to God and thank Him for what He has done. Trading your bad brokenness for His good brokenness.

As I give thanks I am able to see where God has taken care of me in the past and present and then KNOW that He will take care of me in the future. The knowing is what travels from our heart to our head as we give thanks. So what am I thankful for today?

  1. my hard working husband who wants to take care of us
  2. doctors who surround me with their knowledge to take care of me
  3. friends who pray for me incessantly
  4. being able to stay home with my daughter so she can have what she needs
  5. a roof over my head, food in my pantry, clothes, warm water

Thank you God.

Wallowing in it is not my choice. I will be thankful to God for all He has done for me. To heal through my broken heart, I will offer it to Him with my thanksgiving.

 

 

 

Pride is a kicker!

I had a mammogram two days ago.

I know that seems like nothing. Besides going through the usual pain of being smashed between to pieces of metal and holding your breath through the pain, it is so rough for someone who has had cancer.

I walked into the ultrasound room telling the nurse, Rita, a friend of mine since I was diagnosed 4 years ago, “Ignorance is bliss”. First time around was so much easier.

Two weeks prior to the mammogram my anxiety was welling up. I was so ashamed. I just kept telling myself to get over it. God has got this. Stop worrying about it. I could not get past it.

Till my brother jerked me to reality. Younger brothers can be good for that. His comment to me was, “Pride is a kicker!” Seriously?! Why can’t you be like everyone else and feel sorry for me??!!! I stepped back and took a breath. I knew my brother well enough to know he meant well. See that is what happens when your in an actual relationship with someone. Say what they want and know they have good intentions even if you don’t like hearing it.

After stepping back and taking a breath I asked him what in the world he meant by that-? Well my actual words I think had something to do with asking him what he was trying to preach to me. He is a pastor at heart.

His words were, “Anxiety comes from a lack of trust in whatever area that(you think) He can’t handle it so you take it on yourself. Comes out in anxiety and depression but the real issue is pride – ‘I need to do this because I can’t trust His sovereignty in success or failure of this thing’. ‘I can’t trust Him so I must take it on’.”

Wow. Just wow. I knew it’s what was getting me. I knew God could handle this. I knew. And I was good for now.

But then that day of the mammogram and I find myself getting the ultrasound and memories of 4 years ago come flooding back. And yet again pride is kicking my butt. I even posted this:

With the words, “Giving this to God. Open hands…”

But my heart was not getting it. My heart was just sure God had lost all control and that was it for me.  Here it is two days later and I still am struggling with it all. I am reeling from the pride and lack of trust. I am mad at myself for not just getting over it and trusting God in this. I know what I need to do. But my heart is not doing a good job of accepting it all.

I know this verse by heart:

So what really is my problem? Am I truly giving it ALL over to God? Or am I just playing the game and saying the right words?

I think this gives me something to really truly work on and pray through over the next few days. And it you are reading this please feel free to give me your opinion. I will be back here more often as I go this journey.

 

Joshua

It has been a hard month. I haven’t written here much and have just contemplated life right now. Changes. Realizing I am having an identity crisis. But let me explain. It has been a worldly identity crisis. Because I know who I am in God now. I have spent the last several years changing me. I spent the time realizing who my true Father is and overcoming some past things that needed to be dealt with. Now God has changed my life tremendously. I have gone from single tough mom of 2 kids – one of which has autism, to married happily to a hard working pastor and full time special needs mom and housewife. Wow. What a change. I am now just struggling to know me in the midst of this. To find a balance between it all.

This week my focus has been on God and my marriage. God has done what He usually does and brought a message to me over and over again through reading blogs and studies that I do. It has been the study of the parting of the seas. Hmm….what in the world is He trying to teach me here? That is always my next question.

Joshua 3:9-17

 “Then Joshua addressed the People of Israel: “Attention! Listen to what God, your God, has to say. This is how you’ll know that God is alive among you—he will completely dispossess before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites. Look at what’s before you: the Chest of the Covenant. Think of it—the Master of the entire earth is crossing the Jordan as you watch. Now take twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man from each tribe. When the soles of the feet of the priests carrying the Chest of God, Master of all the earth, touch the Jordan’s water, the flow of water will be stopped—the water coming from upstream will pile up in a heap.” 

And that’s what happened. The people left their tents to cross the Jordan, led by the priests carrying the Chest of the Covenant. When the priests got to the Jordan and their feet touched the water at the edge (the Jordan overflows its banks throughout the harvest), the flow of water stopped. It piled up in a heap—a long way off—at Adam, which is near Zarethan. The river went dry all the way down to the Arabah Sea (the Salt Sea). And the people crossed, facing Jericho.

And there they stood; those priests carrying the Chest of the Covenant stood firmly planted on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground. Finally the whole nation was across the Jordan, and not one wet foot.” (The Message)

Wow.  I just imagined myself standing, literally, in the middle of the Jordan River. Water piled up on each side of me.

During biblical times the Jordan River was a major source of water. At the place where they crossed it was 200 yards to half a mile, and in depth from 40 to 150 feet. It was a very windy ravine and flows very fast. Research shows that the priests had to step into the flooded Jordan River and wait.  God stopped the river about 20 miles upstream.  At a flow rate of about 10 miles an hour, they would have needed to stand there about 2 hours before the water stopped flowing.

2 hours! Imagine that! Standing on the outskirts watching this happen for 2 hours!! Wow God!!

So 150 feet tall water piled up. Can you imagine that? So you are crossing the dry land and looking up at this water piled 150 feet above your head.

God is powerful. And when He has a plan and you are in obedience and following His plan – amazing things happen. Like the parting of a river.

Isaiah 43:16

Thus says the Lord,
    who makes a way in the sea,
    a path in the mighty waters,”

So who makes your waters part? Has God ever parted any waters for you? Have you chosen to obey and been a part of ‘parting waters’? Think about that dry path that God led you through as you went through the parted waters. A difficult time. It may even be now.

You may be on that dry path right now. Are you obeying God and allowing Him to part the waters for you?

I know I am. I know He has been holding back that rush of water that could literally drown me so that I can stay on the path He wants me on. I may feel as if I am struggling but the realization is I am following God and not doing just what I think I should be doing. It is a whole new experience for me. I am having to adjust me to His ways. I am giving up control to Him.

What are your parting waters???

Layers, Losses, and Love

So it’s been 5 months.

5 months since I got married.

5 months since I became a pastor’s wife.

5 months of a whole new adventure.

I have been through many changes in life. I have learned that God can use the changes in life for good – if we allow Him to. Changes are NEVER easy. Not that I am not happy to be married. Not that I didn’t want this. But still change is NEVER easy. It’s like a whole new way to discover where you need to improve yourself. Because if you don’t look at it that way – you will be miserable. Be prepared to see the ugly in yourself.

Becoming a Pastor’s Wife has been one of the most rewarding and most challenging changes. Figuring out friendships has been the most challenging. Things have changed. I changed. They changed. And I am trying to figure it all out again.

First of all as a Pastor’s Wife I have learned friendships are in layers. Some friends are people I see at church and talk to on a regular basis. Some friends are the ones I talk to daily and they know everything about me – good and bad.

Second I have learned that there will be loss in the change of life. As life rotates and moves – friendships change. How we all handle and react to the change makes a difference. If you are moving away and want to stay close you have to choose to make contact regularly. But if not then you deal with the loss of those close friendships. It’s ok to grieve those losses. But in God’s hands it will bring you to the place in life He wants you to be in and He will bring you new friends in time.

And yet I still love all of my friends just as much. Love is still there. In the layers and in the losses – there is still love. A deep caring and concern for these people. Because I CHOSE to be a Pastor’s Wife. I chose to care about these people because I really do care about these people. And I know God can use me to help them through life.

Through all the layers, loss, and love.

Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever”.

Through all these changes. He DOES NOT CHANGE. He is the one consistent thing in our lives. In my life. I need that stability. It is my sanity.

Here is another change that occured in my life, if you wanna continue to read: http://amyatheart.blogspot.com/2016/10/my-stronghold.html

 

Cancer has defined me

As many of you may know I am a breast cancer survivor. There are many people who say “Don’t let it define you”. But it is not something you can help. It changes you. Whether for the good or the bad. It changes you.

One thing about the battle and the treatments, they change you physically as much as spiritually and psychologically. I deal with it daily. Even four years down the road. And I will deal with it the rest of my life.

Physically I have changed tremendously. I was weak. I had joint problems. I was fatigued all the time. I used to be so athletic. I loved sports. I was a big gymnastics fan. And even before the cancer I loved to do Zumba cause I loved to dance. But that was no more. I tried but one day of exercise meant several days of recovering. I was so tired and so achy. After many times of trying to get myself back ‘into shape’ I gave up. I just quit even trying. I didn’t exercise at all for a year.

But things changed. My life changed. God brought to me a man who wanted to take care of me. But not just that to let me be myself for the first time EVER in my life. Now I have time to take care of myself. I have been to many doctors appointments over the last few months. It came to be known that I was not healthy. I have gained 30 pounds. My blood pressure struggles to stay down. My triglycerides are up. I knew I needed to do something. Thanks to an understanding oncologist I was able to lower my meds a bit. But then I heard about this class at the YMCA. I had heard about it before. But I was a working full time single mom and it wasn’t gonna happen. Now I have time for it. Now I have time for me.

LiveStrong. Kind of speaks for itself. Live. Strong. That’s what cancer patients have to choose to do.

Through this class I have been shown how to read my body better but also have some wonderful ladies who are showing me how to start over again.

I spent a year depressed thinking I’d never be able to be that athletic energetic woman again. But yesterday, I was working out and was able to actually up some of the weights. That little victory was huge for me. I knew then that I could recover. I could get back to feeling better. I could get back to that woman I used to be. I just needed to be gentle and kind to myself and realize how much this battle took out of me.

Psalms 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds”

‘Brokenhearted’ is actually two words in the Hebrew. ‘Broken’ does mean exactly that. Broken in pieces. ‘Hearted’ comes from the Hebrew ‘leb‘ which means inner man, mind, will, heart.

God will heal the broken pieces of your inner parts. And He promises to bandage up your injuries. A battle causes many injuries. Inner and outer. God promises to heal those injuries. As long as we have stayed faithful to Him. He will in time. And I have come out a stronger person because of Him. My faithfulness has healed me.

 

 

Serenity

Needless to say, things have been tough the last week. Who can give an “Amen!” to that??!! Our Presidential race has not ended well. Our country seems to be very split now and those who are mad are letting everyone know they are mad. I ran across a blog the other day by a lady, who I am a huge fan of, Jennie Allen. Feel free to check out her stuff. I believe she and Ann Voskamp are our prophetesses of this century. And that is possible. There were some in the Bible. She mentioned the Serenity Prayer. I remember that from when I was a child and just had to pull it up and read it again. There are several versions of it but I will share my favorite. And there is some controversy over who actually wrote it. I don’t think anyone expected it to become so popular. It was written as a prayer during the 1930’s and if you look back in history they were struggling just as much as we are. This is when the Communist Party and Adolf Hitler and the Nazi’s were threatening Christianity. By 1939 we ended up in World War II with Japan. It was a rough time for our country.

 

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;

courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;

Enjoying one moment at a time;

Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;

Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;

Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;

That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him

Forever in the next. Amen.

WOW!! What a prayer!!

Serenity means untroubled. Peaceful. This was written during a time of trouble and despair. It acknowledges that God is the only one who can bring peace in chaotic circumstances. We are to take one day at a time and enjoy the moment. Live for God in the hard times and trusting Him to take care of us and surrender to His Will.  We have no control over any of these circumstances. Evil will keep taking control as long as we keep doing this without God. But those of us who put our faith and trust completely, heart soul and mind, into God will feel a peace beyond all understanding. Cause we know how this story ends as long as we read and believe what the Bible tells us.

Philippians 4:7 “His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus”  This is a promise to us.

If we read the Bible and truly believe it, we know what is coming. I Peter 4:12 “…don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.”  He warns us of this but gives us hope in that He will eventually win this battle. And He will bless us beyond what our human minds can fathom. As long as we really do stay faithful to HIM. 

Feel rejected??

Psalm 34:1        “I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise shall                                                 continually be in my mouth.”

This comes in the middle of the story of David. He is running from Saul who has declared he will kill David. David had no family or friends to help protect him. He was alone. Only him and God. Can you imagine? This is what comes from his mouth at this time–?! “I will bless the Lord” How many of you have been through something where you have been completely turned on and your first words are “I will bless the Lord” -??

Not me. My first thoughts tend to be “How can I do this? God why have you left me? I can’t handle this!”   Seriously how many of you have done that? BUT I have learned that those thoughts are Satan. He is trying to turn me against God. He is daily trying. Those negative thoughts are not of God. So daily I pray to God to keep those negative thoughts out of my head. To help me be wise enough to know it’s Satan and brave enough to stand up and tell Satan to leave me alone.

Now I know that in those moments God has not left me. He is walking beside me. He knows life is rough. But we made those choices and He gives us the freedom to learn from our choices. To be more like Him. So pray always to battle those negative thoughts.

Wanna know more about how prayer can help you? Read the book of Daniel. Prayer protected Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and Daniel from death. It can protect you.

paul2francis: “Duet .. ”