A God I Did Not Form
My energy is all spent up
on belief in a God Invisible.
I die in this furnace of pride, while
Pagans laugh at you. All because I did not
shape you into what is acceptable. This
God who claims to be the sole
provider of all things good in
my life. A slave who should
bow down to idols rather than
kneel in prayer—alone— in awe of you,
while the whole world pushes there
shiny gods on me.
Look up, child.
While flames lick around this
fragile form, you take my hand
in your callused carpenter hands
and hold me in the head-turning unexpected.
I sing, Holy, Holy, Holy when my faith should be singed
in the smoke of my humanness,
because you are not a God
I forged with my own hands.
If the God whom we serve exists, then He is able to deliver us from the blazing fiery furnace and from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden statue you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18 BSB).
Turning Your Page:
The book of Daniel has always been one of my greatest fascinations. How do children, taken captive by a cruel king, cultivate faith willing to stand in a fiery furnace, face a den of lions, and eighty years as a captive? I want that kind of faith! Knowing the character of God takes reading scriptures, putting it into practice, confessing sin, and a willingness to be open to God’s will come what may. I encourage you this week to:
Pray on your knees.
Ask God to help you to maintain integrity when others ask you to bow down to other gods.
Express yourself in journaling, art, poetry. We learn from one another. Record God’s faithfulness.
Lord, I did not form you with my own hands, you formed me. Keep me in the flames so that I may never forget my dependency upon your will alone. Amen
Not even a sparrow falls without God’s knowledge and we are more precious than they. Oh, one day, I pray that I embrace this truth with the depth and security of one who trusts God no matter what I experience in this life. I’m not there yet. As the poem reflects this was a tear-streaked day. I have witnessed God’s care over and over, but I still don’t understand why he allowed Jonathan to die by suicide. Bottom line, I just want Jonathan here.
Turning My Page
I wanted your heart to heal from
the world’s unrelenting fists of hatred.
I tried to shield you, but their blows penetrated
to marrow. Broke bone and spirit without pity. They
meant to crush you—rob identity.
Rearranged home until
you no longer recognized love or belonging.
I thought if I cradled your heart
enough with my love, that somehow, someway
you’d emerge from despair.
of your rhythm was never mine. Your
soul was formed and shaped by a God
who knit you together in my womb.
On my knees I plead that His will be
done in your life—from beginning to end.
“DO SOMETHING!” I screamed at a
God who was not deaf to my desperation.
He comforted. He still comforts,
but I will not pretend to understand
why He didn’t rescue you.
Your future—my future—was never
mine to determine. And I pray
one day I walk this path knowing
that not even a sparrow falls to the earth
without God’s knowledge.
Your life mattered, and heaven
mourned you even deeper than I.
Turning Your Page: When Sparrows Fall to Suicide
You may have sparrows who have fallen in your life. Your mourning may be deep and waves of emotions swamp you. Courage! May the promise of God’s care sustain you, even when the feelings simply are not there. You are precious to God. Your loved one was and is precious to a God who was willing to suffer with and for you. As you think about Easter consider the following:
“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners” (Romans 5:6, NLT).
“When He saw the crowds, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36, BSB).
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father” (Matthew 10:29, ESV).
Lord, this sorrow is too great. Carry it for me. Your tenderness and mercy towards my loved ones exceed my own and not one of them falls to the earth without your knowledge and mourning. Amen
Freedom starts with hope. Realizing the power of trust, belief, and faith, inherent in the word has kept me reaching out and allowing others to reach in no matter what crisis comes my way. I have been struggling lately. Sometimes I forget to keep my hope in Jesus and start looking to others or my own ways of self-medicating. These are moments. Despair has an end and knowing that I can turn from sin and embrace the truth of God’s promises, come what may.
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
Romans 8:20-21 ESV
Turning My Page: Freedom Starts With Hope
I have struggled to write for months, and the excuses have piled up.
My house is a mess
I’m not sleeping
My physical health is deteriorating
Grieving my grandmother
I am a burden to others
This week, the Holy Spirit interrupted my unconscious mantra and reminded me that I have a vast vocabulary–start with one word. Moving beyond writer’s block, depression, or any other block in my life starts with HOPE.
I may not see the fruits of my hope right away, but the seeds exist. I write one word, and then another, and another and before long I am looking back at the obstacle rather than having it firmly planted in front of me.
My hope in all things is found in Jesus Christ, so yesterday and today, I confessed my depressed state and tuned my heart to my Savior’s voice through scripture.
Worked on memorizing Romans 8
Prayed for my family who is grieving the loss of our grandmother
Acknowledged I am substituting food and mindless activities for the comfort of Christ in my grief
Went to bed and trusted that God would give me the needed rest
Set healthy boundaries with my children
Chose a few small ways to attack the mess of my home
One of the first things the Spirit of Despair attacks is the healthy habits I form.
Notice my list above. I stopped having time in scripture. The house was a deep hole of undone chores, so why try. I avoided grief through food and TV. While these things give me temporary relief, they will never give me lasting help or draw me from the pit of hopelessness because I will always need more and more of those things and accomplish nothing by escaping through them. They do not feed me, mind, body, and spirit.
I know this because at age twenty I almost succeeded in taking my own life. That moment was the cumulation of all my attempts to deal with life’s hardships and pain by burying it and not pressing into hope. At that moment I recognized, rightly, that nothing in this world would make me feel better, but did not press into hope in Christ until the following year.
Only then did my life begin to look more hopeful. I started recognizing Christ died for all of the hardships I experienced and He would faithfully take all experiences and use them to lead others, and offer hope when others can’t yet see the potential. Placing hope in Jesus Christ meant my ultimate failure was not an option. No more throwing in the towel. I do not do this perfectly, but when my footing slips I gain it back more quickly and easily because hope has become the pattern of my life rather than the exception.
Turning Your Page
Freedom starts with hope.
That hope does not disappoint. You may not yet see the fruits of pushing back against the doubts or feel anything will change. Hope is powerful! It gives you space and opportunity to discover resources, mankind to reach in and help, and develops muscles of trust. We will get to the other side of our experiences because nothing separates us from the love of Jesus (Romans 8:28). Nothing and no one will ever be able to steal that freedom from you.
What are some of your favorite promises in scripture?
Look at the definition of the root word of depression and compare it to the definition for hope.
Journal about the difference and similarities between the two.
What are some antonyms of each?
Pick an antonym of “depress”, such as rejoice, and begin practicing daily.
Lord, I want to cease spiraling into despair. Help me to look up from the pit and see that all things are possible through you. I’ll hold on until they happen as you promised. Amen
No one plans on unwrapping depression during the holidays.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1 KJV)
Depression is a gift not easily returned to a store. I say gift because, as I work through despair I also discover my capacity to fight it.
Twenty-two years ago depression became a training ground for my faith. I hoped for what I could not yet see. I stretched weak, underdeveloped spiritual muscles. And survived attacks from the enemy. Beauty emerged from the ashes of my life.
We don’t have to have it all together to survive Christmas. But, we do have to have certain habits in place that are not optional. I am conditioning to be fearless and embrace discipline, compassion, and determination. Like a drill sergeant encouraging failure, depression stirs instead, my will to live.
Grief doesn’t take a hiatus, and physical pain may have no relief. The strain is constant, but we also experience joy. We can hope, remain open to new possibilities, step outside of our own thoughts, and engage the world. Not based upon feeling, but upon the basic way, humans were created. We were built for relationship. Based on that understanding, isolation is not an option.
Below is a Depression Survival Kit that I use on a regular basis. These habits help me to get through and even gain new ground through holidays.
Feel free to comment on anything that helps you to get through the holidays.
1-2 scriptures to read on a regular basis, call to mind when thoughts spiral
List of safe people (of the same sex) that I can call in case of an emergency
1-2 old traditions I will do (not based on feeling)
1-2 new traditions I will create with family, friends, strangers
Go to Christmas events
Signal designated departure friend to aid in a smoother exit
I don’t have to do all events
Stay engaged with the community (not an option)
Volunteer to help others
Encourage someone else who is struggling
Allow 1 or 2 people to take you out of your comfort zone
Laughter is good medicine (welcome humor)
Set goals and take steps to be as healthy as you can
Extend grace to yourself and others
My prayers are with you as you find joy this Christmas.
During the many shifts, changes, and difficult challenges caused by COVID-19, we can either choose to praise or curse God. As a result of your circumstances, what will you choose?
Relent, do not be unjust; reconsider, for my integrity is at stake.
Job 6:29 NIV
Turning My Page: My Response to Covid-19 is to Praise or Curse
I slammed my Bible shut. After spending a month with Job’s friends, I couldn’t take one more sentence of their arrogant presumptions about Job and God. “I can’t wait for you to speak,” I complained out loud to God.
God in his infinite wisdom answered back, “Oh really?” So, today, I listened to the first words God spoke to Job and his friends, and also heard him say to me, “How often do you lean on your own understanding, trying to explain why I allow suffering in your life? How often do you presume to know my ways and what I will or will not do in the lives of your children?”
God’s rebuke was not harsh,
but it cut through my self-righteous judgment of Job’s friends and placed me squarely in the storm of his answers to Job.
Reading through Job, you and I have the benefit of Chapter 1. This causes us to question God’s goodness because we know God calls Job, ” blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil”. God made it clear Job does not deserve what is happening to him. Take the first chapter out and we are just as blindsided as Job when his favored life turns hard.
Witnessing such great suffering I would have asked:
Is God punishing Job because he sinned?
Has God withdrawn his love?
Job was wealthy, therefore, is it a sin to accumulate possessions?
Is God allowing Job to suffer as an example of what happens when man thinks they are better than God?
Too often I presume to know why God allows suffering
in our lives rather than knowing and finding security that he is good and that I am part of God’s larger story for mankind. He does not answer to me, nor does he have to explain himself to me.
I pray that one day I can say, “Satan meant Jonathan, my oldest son’s, death for evil, but oh Lord you meant it for the salvation of many.” Suffering has a greater purpose, just as God had a divine purpose when he allowed Jesus’ death on the cross. I choose to praise you, Lord, just as Job chose to praise you even when he didn’t understand your full design.
Lord, you created the heavens, earth, and all that resides in it.
I don’t have the first clue of your purposes. But I do know you are good. I praise you for creating my life, giving me breath. You gifted my first child and transformed motherhood for me. As Jonathan was placed in my arms, I began to recognize your love for me as a parent. Therefore, I praise you in my suffering now after the loss of Jonathan. because I know you didn’t stop loving me. Again and again, you extend grace to me. You gave me a husband who not only committed his life to love me but knelt down and said vows to the seven-year-old son who looked up him with eager and nervous expectation. You blessed me with Brian, Jonathan, Daniel, and Natalie and even if the worst comes true in my life, you are still a good God.
Lord, you gave me your passion and creative spirit. I am in awe of scripture, you don’t leave me guessing. You tell me the beginning, middle, and end of your story. I know all I experience is temporary. Leave your mark on the world through me.
Turning Your Page
What are your current judgment of God during this pandemic, world suffering, and personal trials? Do you find yourself saying, I must have done something wrong, or what kind of god allows pain? Are his actions in your life measuring up to your beliefs and expectations of how a good God should act? God does not ever give Job a reason for his suffering, but he does establish authority in Job’s life, the lives of his friends, and over their circumstances. Is that a God you can live with? Job determined that yes, he could still worship a God that both took away and gave him good things. What do you say to the creator of the universe in your suffering?
What are your beliefs about God? How did they form? (example: I was raised in a Christian home, but also learned a lot about God through nature and reading on my own.)
How are your friends, family, and coworkers responding to God during COVID-19?
List the ways God is providing for and being active in your life. Spend time writing down praise for who God is.
How can you develop a COVID-19 praise over curse response?
Today I choose to say, “You give and take away, but still, I will praise your name.” Amen
Interview August 25th at 7pm EST
My guest, Kathy Collard Miller. She is a lay counselor, author, speaker, and a person who struggled with anger and depression. Next week, we will discuss how God transformed and shaped her brokenness. and therefore he can shape us as well. Just like Job, we don’t always know why we suffer. Kathy’s testimony is an opportunity to see that our emotions are not beyond redemption. Be encouraged by this sweet and Holy Spirit-led woman. She has a catalog of resources to help you on your journey. Check out her ministry at Heart Change: Thirsting for God’s Living Spring
She will be offering giveaways of her two most recent books:
And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
2 Peter 1:19-21 ESV
Turning My Page: Apply Prophetic Inspiration
In the last two years, I experienced prophetic inspirations spoken over me. Faithful men and women have spoken God’s truth which again and again was reinforced by scripture in various circumstances.”I see an image of a yellow rose, preparing to bloom.” “You are a mother who will lead children to wholeness.” “Mom, read Ephesians 4:8.” “You are Esther.” Some knew me, others were complete strangers. I feel uncomfortable with my futures actions being foretold. It feels like having a bright light shining into my soul after remaining in darkness.
What if I fail?
I have spoken words over myself for 42 (I’ll give my three-year-old self a break) years. You are ugly. You will fail. No one will love you. Stupid. You can’t do anything right. You will always be in pain. Why are you here? God couldn’t possibly use you for good. If a prophecy is simply an inspired utterance when you and I speak depression and darkness over ourselves, where is the inspiration coming from?
Losing Jonathan took a toll on what I thought about motherhood. The lie I accepted was, to invest in my child, love God, teach him to love God and everything turns out okay. When believers buy into the lie that accepting Christ leads to success and a trouble-free life Satan is setting us up for failure. Nowhere in scripture does it say this. Instead, Jesus says, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b NLT). Troubles do not negate the task God has given me to do. I am to “share the reason for the hope I have.” Read more on my Suicide Story.
Here are truths I now acknowledge since meeting Jesus twenty-four years ago:
While I recognize the above truths, I have struggled to embrace and apply them without wavering. I apologize that I have wasted a single second denying the words spoken over me and into me. God, you have been gently nudging me with these prophecies and revealing how uncomfortable I am with your truth and comfortable I am with my own brand of truth.
I embrace the inspiration God gives through the many experiences, scripture, and voices that encourage my spirit. Wholeheartedly I repent of the above lies I have consistently repeated. They do not align themselves with who Christ says I am. It is high time I with the full force of faith, hope, and love, accept what God keeps speaking over me.
Turning Your Page
This is your starting point. Will you embrace a new prophetic inspiration spoken over you? Depression no longer has the last word in your life. With God’s help, you will conquer the lie that this life is impossible to live and turn the page to find hope, faith, and love in each of your next days.
Choosing to embrace truth is bound to stir up resistance. As thoughts of darkness, hopelessness, and condemnation get loud, recognize that their inspiration is from Satan, the father of all lies (John 8:44). He won’t let up. To change this pattern God divinely removes the oppressive spirit or equips you to bear up under the attack. Don’t expect your feelings to always match the truth God is revealing in your life. If emotions matched truth, none of us would struggle with depression.
These truths take practice. As you read, understand the scriptures, and walk in obedience to the truth of God’s love for you, recognizing and applying prophetic inspiration will become easier. Be sure to note when God repeats his message of love from multiple sources. Despair will stop dominating your decision making and hope will help you turn the page on your darker days. God’s love will start prophesying over you and you will discern the truth of his purpose for you.
List out some of the things you hear yourself saying about yourself or others.
For You have delivered my soul from death, and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.
Turning My Page
Tomorrow is an anniversary no one in my family wants to relive. Yet, every year, July 1st still arrives and we have to decide what to do with it. The sadness swallowed me up today so my husband asked me to share special memories of Jonathan.
Remembering and laughing brought me out of my funk and made me realize that I would have to be intentional about tomorrow.
Lord, I acknowledge that you are redeeming the ruins of my yesterday.
I remember and invite others to remember and share with me their memories of Jonathan’s character, his love for God, family, and friends, and the adventures and laughter
Have lunch at Moes
Sing and record my video on Psalms at the beach
Photograph what brings me joy and peace
Raise our Jarritos in memory of Jonathan
Father, redeem July 1st, and may I honor you, your love for Jonathan, and the perfect peace you give to me. Suicide is not the whole story. Amen
Turning Your Page
Do you have a day you need redeemed? Notice what makes the day hard. It may be injustice, it may be loss, anger. Don’t shy away from what you feel, because those emotions are as much a part of revealing God’s redemption as the good ones. There are so many things in this life that hurt. Learn to feel, but continue to write your story through the pain.
What makes the day hard? Sum up why this day seems to unwind any progress or growth you have made since your first moment of trauma.
Are there others who can help you through this day? List out some activities that bring you joy and pick one to do on your hard day.
Pick a song, psalm, or passage as your focus to read out loud throughout the day or meditate on. Acknowledge your heartache while moving your thoughts towards God’s perspective on your suffering.
Lord on my hardest day, you were there. Though all I may be able to do is cling to you when I remember that day, I know that you care for my every wound and bring healing and wholeness to my broken soul. Amen
That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.
Romans 8:24-25 MSG
Turning My Page
I have a suicide story. My loss and pain connect me to others struggling with and hurt by despair. However, it is hope that moves each of our stories beyond the chapters of despair we experience to deeper love, redemption, and joy.
My guest blogger, Christina Rose is the author of My Appeal to Heaven, and just as she chooses to share her life with you I encourage you to share yours. If you have a story of hope like Christina Rose, I would love to share it on my blog. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org You are not alone and there are many of us building a mountain of evidence that this life is worth living, come what may.
When I was 21 years old, my father leaped to his death from the top floor of a government building in Washington, DC. Immediately news reporters swarmed our home. I stood at the front door, holding my weeping mother, while my 12-year old sister looked on in shock. After a few months of being on the news each day, they forgot about us, but we never forgot about Dad.
Dad was a sensitive, introverted man and compassionately took care of others while not expecting anyone to take care of him. He kept most of his troubles to himself, not wanting to bother others. He was extremely stressed over mounting bills and kids in college and felt there was no way out. In his mind, we left him to pay the bills and did not appreciate him anymore.
The day after the funeral, Mom left for Greece for three weeks, leaving my sister and me to fend for ourselves.
She was a travel agent and started taking any trips that offered an escape. The trauma of dad’s death and my mother’s frequent absences sent us into constant PTSD and anxiety. Thoughts of suicide started haunting me. We were still in the family home with memories of dad. It felt like an ugly vulture was sitting on my shoulder, continually whispering dark, hopeless thoughts into my ears. I had night terrors with visions of dark, hideous beings running up and down the stairs. Instinctively, I would recite the Lord’s prayer, which was the only way I could get them to leave.
Dad loved to camp, and we had many remarkable adventures traveling in our Volkswagen bus. When my daughters were born, I got my own Volkswagen bus to share my father’s love of camping. I would feel his presence strongly on these trips as I pitched the tent, made campfires, and cooked on the camp stove, just as he had taught me to do. Sitting by the campfire at night, once the girls were asleep, it was so quiet that sometimes I felt that I could hear Dad speaking to me. He seemed to tell me that while he destroyed his body, his soul was still alive, and he had to go to his own funeral. He had to watch us all suffer because of what he did and no longer had arms to comfort us and a voice to tell us he was there. I felt him say, “If only I’d seen the big picture, there was a beautiful life planned for me after that storm I was in, I wished I’d had hung on and gotten through it for all of you.”
I wish he had hung on.
At the funeral, we learned that two of his friends were starting their own business and wanted Dad to join him. He could have quit the job he hated. My brother had recently moved to Colorado to marry his high school sweetheart and join their family. Our families were very close, so a few years after Dad’s death, the rest of my family joined them. Dad would have loved the adventure of living out west with our big family. He never got the chance to meet any of his 23 grandkids or the more than 40 (and still counting) great-grandkids. He missed walking each of us three daughters down the aisle at our weddings and wasn’t there to help us when we needed him when we started families of our own.
My father’s death and my struggle with despair have taught me that change is part of life, and storms always pass. If we are still comfortable, we will never grow. The most difficult tests are often a catalyst that catapults into an upgrade in our life that we may not have considered if we had not experienced challenges. If we can hang on and climb the mountains that face us, once we reach the top, we can see the view of how far we have come and trust that we need not fear the future.
Never be afraid to ask for help in this process. None of us are equipped to live life alone.
Consistent, unconditional love and support are a lifeline to someone who feels hopeless. Reaching out with encouraging words, taking walks in nature, going to dinner, to movies, for coffee, a road trip, buying a puppy – engage in simple pleasures. Life is full of joy. Position yourself to listen; people open up when they feel heard. I pulled myself and my family out of this dark hole several times. I sought the support of community and churches; they lift my spirit when I feel weak.
In the more than 40 years since my father’s suicide, I have learned many valuable lessons. The way the universe, stars, sun, and moon operate daily testify to a perfect, divine order to all of life, down to the most minute, microscopic detail. The earth is complicated. Millions of inhabitants and their diversity, the vast number of species and plants, and the millions of years that we have all existed, we must know that there is a perfect design for everything, including each of us. It is not up to us to figure out the future but to trust that the creator already has a big picture of who we will be on his mantle.
About the Author
Christina Rose is an author, trainer, and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership. She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. She is a world traveler, surfer, foodie, cappuccino loving chocoholic and a devoted mom to kids and dogs and auntie to over 40 nieces and nephews. Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. With her young family on the verge of falling apart, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself. After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening and miraculous empowerment. That power is available to us all, especially those who are in need of hope and freedom. Follow her at: christinarose.org
Turning Your Page
Compiling evidence that life is worth living requires placing hope in what you don’t yet see. Every single person who has ever moved beyond despair has taken that first step to hope for something different and then step into another unknown and then another. What step can you take today.
Observation is crucial in embracing hope. What are some characteristics you see in nature that reflect trust in the unseen provision of God?
Who in your life steps outside their current circumstances to trust in what they can’t yet see? What work or effort do they put in to maintain that hope? Do they experience set backs and disappointments? How do they get back up.
Meditate on Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Lord, my life is a mess and I am tired of the constant fight. Help me to see your promises and keep pressing into the fact that you are with me. Amen
“Such an ugly duckling.” the others cackled, slapping the water in agreement.
(Your head ducked), Under the burden of shameful stares.
(You swam away), Inclined to believe what others say.
(You) Couldn’t see the swan swimming smooth as silk on the other side of the reeds.
(Searching) Inside yourself for true identity.
(Your answers) Decidedly never came.
(You) Ended the story before your clouded reflection cleared.