Fighting Dirty For The Ones We Love

2 Corinthians 5:21 God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.

Romans 5:5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us. 6 For at just the right time, while we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. It is rare indeed for anyone to die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.…

When was the last time you fought dirty for the one’s you love? Or for an enemy? I’m not talking cheating, I am talking about getting dirt under the nails, sweating, and digging deep into all you’ve got and then giving some more. Valuing that spouse who has hurt you deeply. Treating the bully at work with kindness. Fighting dirty is not based upon changed behavior, it is deeply rooted in who Christ is in us!

We love because he first loved us. God didn’t just give us a list of do’s and don’ts, pat us on the back, and send us on our way. He was and is involved in creation! So much so, that at just the right time, while we were still sinning he came to earth in the form of a human child. He experienced sweat, he had splinters in his skin, and scars on his back from loving us. He knew our struggle with temptation. He knew we were oppressed, and he knew our depression. He fought dirty for us!!

Depression, suicide, hopelessness is a dark and dingy place, because hopelessness is wrapped in lies about our identity and the character of God. I was once smothered in those lies. My son died in those lies. How do we counter such a devious and destructive attack that often begins when we are children?! We battle by getting to know the character of God and acting on the hope he offers to us.

I didn’t know God. Scripture is like sitting across from God and hearing him tell his side of the story. Prayer is a constant conversation (both speaking and listening) with God. Fellowship with other in process believers encourages, challenges, and brings me out of my shell. This is my foundation. As a result, I can’t sit idly by and put on blinders to the suffering of others. I have my hands in the dirt of humanity. Be all in because God was all in for us!

 

Let me know your story in the comments. How can I fight dirty for you!?

Writing Prompt: Downcast or Upcast

Psalm 43:Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.

Seems like there are an awful lot of words to describe depressed, but not a lot to describe the opposite . . .what is the opposite of depressed? Come up with words that reflect an “upcast” attitude and create a poem. Attach your page link in the comments and let’s cast a brighter light on depression.

Writing Prompt: Downcast or Upcast

 

 

 

What are Your Tags Showing: REDEEMED

John 19:19 Pilate also had a notice posted on the cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.

“Your tag is showing.” The lady behind me whispered at church yesterday, as she tucked the sales tag into the back of my shirt. First of all, let me just say . . . I got a killer price on the shirt! But what do you do when your tags of brokenness are showing?

  1. Hide them
  2. Lie about them
  3. Claim them and laugh
  4. Flaunt them

Everyone was labeling Jesus. They were trying to understand this man who claimed to be both God and man. Was he here to usurp power, or lead a rebellion? Was he a prophet? Yet Jesus cared more about who his heavenly Father thought he was. “This is my son, in whom I well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) He did not hide who he was.

For many of us, others see what we think hidden. They see we are unhappy in our marriage; coworkers are painfully aware of our arrogance; friends feel the draft of our hopelessness. Some just laugh and are grateful that it’s not them suffering those problems. Others lean forward and tell us to hide them better. Still others pluck the tags from us thinking they are being helpful.

I can’t hide the tag of survivor of suicide because it permeates from every aspect of my life. I miss that blue-eyed, dimpled chin young man. I miss his laugh, our conversations, seeing him at college, and all the things that were to come. But in this life we will have troubles. I hope you see, though deeply wounded, I will not back down from living! Be encouraged, our circumstances may tag us with heavy burdens. but no matter how may labels show, the original price on my life has been marked out. In its place are the words: REDEEMED! PRICE PAID IN FULL! BEAUTIFUL! WORTHY! JUSTIFIED! FORGIVEN!

Do you still carry the tag of who you were, or has it been marked out by Jesus Christ? Are you convinced, no matter what tags this broken world tries to pin on you, that you are a son or daughter of a risen king! Murderers tried to tack “King of the Jews” above Jesus on the cross. But, I declare that he was and is the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Redeemer and gratefully my Savior. That is a tag I don’t care if anyone catches hanging out of my shirt!

Prayer:  Lord, we have tags showing. May your love redeem all of them and lead others to a saving knowledge of who you are. Amen

When Words Fail: Laugh

Proverbs 17:22 A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones. 

Words have been failing me lately. Literally. I try to respond in conversation and I can’t bring what I want to say to mind, or I’m talking about cooking and “cat” comes out. Imagery and laughter aside, it is quite frustrating for a wordsmith to be silenced. So, since laughter is good medicine and the kids and I have been creating an abundance of jokes . . . here are a few of my favorites.

 

Why are suckers always singing? Answer: Because they are covered in rappers.

Why don’t musicians like the police? Answer: Because they place you under a-rest. (Daniel original)

What note can a car tire play? Answer: B flat

Who gets in trouble more, a football player, or figure skater? Answer: A figure skater, because they are always skating on thin ice.

 

Cultivate laughter, plant it in the lives around you and watch joy grow.

 

 

 

Learning to Layer Memories

Psalm 77:11 I shall remember the deeds of the LORD; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. 

Appalachia is a part of me! When everything seems to be haywire returning home, where I met Christ, is a place of retreat, safety, and remembering the joy of my salvation. As my husband departed with work to New York, my kids deposited for some grandma time, I made the solo trip home.

That is my first miracle.

I only got drowsy once, a quick stop, stretch of legs and I was good to go. It isn’t humanly possible to drive almost three hours on the amount of sleep I am currently getting. Yet God was gracious! He knew the journey was too hard, so he provided, kept me awake and safe.

My second miracle was walking where Jonathan and I have walked and having joy!

Engaging Memories
Jonathan’s 7th birthday party was held here, in the midst of a thunderstorm.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of layering memories.  It can be difficult walking a path with major landmarks of pain and sorrow. This trip I met a friend whom I hadn’t seen in years.There is always sorrow attached to remembering Jonathan. But when I create new memories, cherishing and honoring who he was by living defiantly and vibrantly a new life each day what was, becomes what is, and opens me to what will be.

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Miracle number three. . . friendship!

I do not travel any of this journey alone. The people around me, you readers, are a joy I pack with me. I grow, mature and love more deeply by being with you! Reconnecting with friends, laughing together, hurting together, listening and celebrating life together keeps me honest. Some of the old thoughts of self-worth have been attempting to creep back in, but you remind me that my worth is found in Jesus Christ alone.

How do you choose to remember? You may have difficult memories, but this world is brimming with possibility! We don’t have to be locked into past sorrow or failure. Begin layering memories and mine starts with remembering the joy of my salvation!

 

Father, thank you for taking me home and allowing me to reconnect with friends and your beautiful creation. I am so grateful for the time Jonathan and I had together. I confess that I don’t always remember correctly. I dwell on the failure, brokenness of my past and leave you out of it. I have gained so much from your presence in my life. I am not alone, my life is filled with laughter, and you invite me into new adventures. Bless the readers as they layer memories with your goodness. Amen

 

 

Grander Views in the Middle of Pain

Jeremiah 15:18 Why then does my suffering continue? Why is my wound so incurable? Your help seems as uncertain as a seasonal brook, like a spring that has gone dry.

 

Daniel has been in more pain over the last few weeks. His vertigo and sensitivity to any kind of car motion has ended up in several episodes of throwing up. So our trip to Cedar Point (roller coaster capital of the world) was up in the air as to whether he would enjoy.

Much to my surprise and delight, Daniel worked within his limitations and enjoyed his time. But I questioned the wisdom of one chosen ride. Spinning 300 feet in the air at 30 miles an hour didn’t exactly sound vertigo friendly. He wanted to try anyway. He did fine as we went up, but as soon as the swings began to circle around the nausea began. I held his hand and told him to look forward. Vision better focused he could now take in the scenery and exclaimed. “It is beautiful! God is so creative! Wow, is this all one lake?”

Oh, what a glorious view I received as a parent! I breathed in my son’s joy and suddenly my own heartache diminished. Daniel could see God’s glory, even though his own physical struggles felt overwhelming.

We all need grand view reminders, so that when life is at its hardest we see God is bigger and so capable of bringing us through. But, we can’t have them if we have boarded up the windows, locked ourselves in pain, and wait for death to take us. We can only have them if we step out, take a risk, and look outside our problems. Where will you go for your grander view?

 

Love Always,

 

Karisa

 

 

Sanctuary, You keep saying that word . . .

Psalm 73 . . .Still, when I tried to figure it out,
    all I gt was a splitting headache . . .
Until I entered the sanctuary of God.
    Then I saw the whole picture: . . . {The Message)

Give me sanctuary! For the past few weeks I had multiple excuses to not enter the sanctuary of God. I have literally felt oppressively hot each time I entered, to the point of feeling faint, and this week I was on the threshold of seizures as a result of my severe insomnia. But each time, with equal grit, I entered the sanctuary anyway!

Why? Because sanctuary is where my thinking is reborn. I’m no longer in the vacuum of my own thoughts and see more clearly God’s hand on my life. I am not alone! Pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up. (Ecclesiastes 4:10) How differently the aftermath of my son’s suicide would look if I chose to go through it alone.  So many of us, struggling with depression, become echo chambers as we withdraw from any voice but our own. I have had 42 years of playing my own thinking . . . there might be a broken record or two.

So I sing a new song each week, along with hundreds of brothers and sisters in Christ. This Sunday I let the truth of More than Conquerors remind me,  God overcomes every obstacle in my way. I can defiantly proclaim his love, truth, and presence to others desperate for answers. While participating in the sermon–which by the way means conversation–I hear God’s voice. You are not alone. Look around you. Do you think that you are the only one struggling to be here? Communicate your need to me, let me carry your burden.

I encourage you to enter the sanctuary, not out of obligation, but because there is relationship.  I raise my hands to praise, not because I have it all together, or have arrived at some spiritual nirvana! I raise my hands because I am defiant! I have a God who loves and fights for me and I recognize the warriors who surround me.

Find allies in the sanctuary of God.  (Please note, I have been abused by those who called themselves Christians, so I say this with the full awareness that church does not always feel like a place of protection.) But, I have also witnessed the generosity of Christians. I have experienced the provision and good gifts of a God who is not blind to my wounds. In the sanctuary I see that God is just.  We can angrily slam the door on God and Christians for perceived let downs, or we can enter the sanctuary and find our battle never was against each other. We have a common enemy and we cannot defeat him alone. Come to the sanctuary with me and raise your hand in defiance!

 

Lord, I praise you for placing a fire in me to be in the presence of your people. Thank you for the great music that encourages me and lights our way with the gospel of peace. Thank you for pastors that point to your truth and do not lean on their own understanding. Thank you that you raised your arms in defiance to death and teach me to become more than a conqueror! Amen

 

 

Depression is not meant for the Church Coatroom

I attempted to stuff my depression into the racks of the church coatroom before

straightening my face into a well pressed smile.

You, who did not hide your sorrow from your Father,

had the usher bring my cloak of despair back to me.

 

Shoulders drooped as I slipped into the putrid pew of religious repetition

believing faith wasn’t ready to share my coarse reality. But scripture shook me

awake. The world needs my tears, struggle, and depression.

 

Believers sing the blues too.

I confess, I struggle to accept Your ways.

Bones, broken with grief, scream to give in.

But, You give sanctuary to my lament.

Questions are met with open goodness.

I am reminded, God put on the cloak of humanity

to understand me.

And, when I wear depression into the sanctuary,

It is an open invitation for others to be real with You.