Posts Categorized: blogging

The Dented Fender: Tenacious Love

“Awe, Mom and Dad are kissing again!” my daughter announced to her brother as she caught us in the kitchen. “Aren’t they cute?” She sounded truly delighted. When they were little, their big brother taught them to say, “Ooh, gross,” anytime they saw us kissing. My husband and I began requiring at least three positive remarks from them before their comments turned to disgust, and very quickly the delight in their parents’ affection became a habit. We don’t hear disgust any longer, and we’re trying to teach some important lessons to them, besides.

We weren’t always so cute.  (Read More at the Dented Fender Blog)

When Life Happens: Be Present

“Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, made in human likeness” (Philippians 2:6-7 NIV).

I am trying to post more consistently, but sometimes life happens. I found myself growing frustrated with my day yesterday as deadlines loomed and nothing I wanted done, was done. But, a much-needed commitment to my son took center stage and revealed how off my priorities had become. I was leaning towards doing, rather than being.

How easy it is to make life into a to-do list. And while checking off agendas can be a nice feeling for the moment, just like any addiction it is only a short and a temporary high that requires more and more doing. God is looking for men and women who make themselves available to those in front of them. As long as I can remember I have always looked to do big things for God. But God is teaching me to skip stones and change the waters a little at a time, in individuals, rather than making a splash in the crowd.

So as I watched my son race around a track with his friend, I realized the depth of importance this moment has. Daniel needs solid friendships, he needs experience, and he needs to know his life is valued. My time with this growing young man is fleeting and what I do for and with Daniel and his sister matters. Turning the Page on Suicide is a big deal and I love the unique details of your purpose and lives dear reader. But speaking life into my children has far bigger implications because we are face to face, day in and day out.

Who is in front of you Page Turner? How can you spend time with them? Be intentional to speak life into their circumstances? Lean into Christ’ purpose for all you encounter.

It can be easy for us to look for opportunities to do and miss out on being present, right where God plants us. Christ was very good at being present with those in front of him. Notice his habits, where he positioned himself and who he spent time with.

  • temple
  • streets
  • meals
  • homes (rich and poor)
  • outcast camps
  • boat
  • road (Can you imagine how many saddles he wore out)
  • wells
  • market place

So excuse me if I have moments of catch up, but I am being with my children, and what a delight to speak God’s life into them.

The Importance of Being Present
  • Podcasts post every Monday at 10:00 am
  • Devotionals post every Tuesday at 7 pm
  • Poetry posts every Thursday at 7 pm

The Holy Spirit Sang Over Me (Guest Blogger)

Our guest blogger Kay Em Ellis and I met at a Serious Writers Conference recently. She share how the Holy Spirit Sang his encouragement to her in her darkest moment of doubt. Be encouraged by her story!

Serious Writer

Christian Writers Conference a Place of Connection

Immediately I felt a kindred heart in the fight against despair. At the end of our weekend, with our arms up in worship, Kay came to stand beside me, and I felt deeply encouraged. Such a sweet and amazing woman who is sensitive to the Spirit’s calling.

Kay has traveled the world! She uses her gift of writing to reflect God’s love through poetry, fiction, and lessons God is teaching as she travels.

Check out her travel and faith blog: Awaken the Dawn.

 

 

The Holy Spirit Sang Over Me

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

Romans 8:15, ESV

 

I thought depression would go away. It didn’t.

 

When I gave my life to Christ, I signed up for the World Race mission trip. I lived in eleven countries in eleven months. I felt whole and complete and at peace in Christ.

 

Living the Christian life in ministry six to seven days per week, constant community, intensive Bible study while living out of a backpack, God used many opportunities to refine me. He sifted me through several bouts of depression and stretched me to what felt like the breaking point multiple times.

 

He didn’t do it to be mean. He did it because He loves me, and I needed it. But when I melted down at a bus station in Lima, Peru, I failed to lean into God and rest in His strength. I crumbled.

 

I’ve felt unworthy of love and blessing like I don’t deserve a joyful life, spouse, or even children. So much changed in my heart and life after I met Jesus, but that didn’t mean all my problems vanished.

 

The Lord had to teach me to break agreement with shame and depression to wage war against them. The battle wasn’t easy, and I came close to calling it quits several times.

 

It’s too hard! I cried out in my heart and even aloud during heartfelt prayer. I can’t do it anymore! But, each time I said I can’t, God countered the lie with, YOU CAN. Sometimes I believed Him; sometimes I didn’t.

 

It was seven in the morning when I broke in Lima, Peru. I sat at the bus station, waiting to climb aboard the bus that would take my squad to Ecuador. Silent tears poured as I replayed how badly I always messed everything up, specifically one thing I’d been struggling with from my past. I criticized myself, heading toward a destructive path of self-condemnation.

 

Shame bubbled up. My thoughts spiraled into a dark chasm I hadn’t realized still existed in me. But God knew just how deep that darkness ran.

 

He wanted me to face the shame so I could overcome it.

 

Cheeks moist, I tipped my head back and closed my eyes. The peace of God overshadowed me; then He showed me a vision I’ll never forget, Jesus on the Cross.

 

Jesus loves you. The concept of love is so skewed in our society, and I don’t think people understand what it means when I try to share His love. I certainly didn’t before I really encountered that love. Even after I chose to follow Christ, it took a long time to comprehend that God could love us so completely, despite our rejection and the muck of our deepest sins.

 

God loved us first. He loved us when we hated him. It’s His nature. He loves like no one else because God isn’t like anyone else. He sent the Holy Spirit to live in those who have repented of their sins and turned to the Son: to advocate for us, to convict us, and, in this case, to comfort us.

 

My conviction came through the song. You Are More by Tenth Avenue North. The Holy Spirit sang that song over me, and I soaked in the lyrics while in Ecuador. I am so much more than who this world tells me I am. Reader, you are not the sum of your past mistakes. Allow the Holy Spirit to remake you. Lean back, absorb the truth of God’s redeeming love.

 

Please contact me if you would like to appear as a guest blogger.

Again I Confront Depression: Poetry Response

I love finding other poets to respond to in poetry. Take a look at Radhika Shah’s poem, “Depression calls again” as posted on Jalvis Quotes.

 

My response:

 

Bed made, doubt can’t stop me.

Renumbered days feel possible.

Attention, I will not quit!

Not your call, Not your call.

Bed dressed, habit of hope.

Time waits quietly,

already prepared for the

wrong pressed against determination.

Is there a way through? Is there a way through?

Attention all obstacles

opposite to thought, you are

mere specks of trouble

darkening my life.

Is it possible?

Smile, remember days overcome.

Tried and tested. Tried and tested.

Uncomfortable stretching of muscles untrained.

Help me with your presence, so that I may

lie in peace, lie in peace.

Knee-Knocking-Obedience

1 Corinthians 2:1When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2For I decided to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 3I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. 4My message and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5so that your faith would not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.
Dear Fellow Page Turners,
Yesterday I took a step to face disabling fear and in my brokenness encouraged others struggling just as deeply.
 
We do not know who is on the edge of hopelessness. It is not in our achieving “Christian perfection” God uses us for the most glory of his kingdom. We become oaks of righteousness in our knee-knocking-obedience. 
Be real with your faith. Be bold in obedience. Be open in your weakness.
Love Always,
Karisa

Needing Reminders in No Mans Land

As I edit my devotional book, I find that sometimes I still need the reminders of four years ago. It has been a rough couple of days. God is still ahead of me, making my path straight. Find courage in God’s declaration that he knows your path!

 

(Written on day 10 after my son’s funeral.)

Deuteronomy 31:8 The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Last night my back locked up as my father-in-law, an osteopath, was trying to bring healing and relief. I cried out to God. “I’m trying not to be mad at you, and this isn’t’ helping!” What an amazing God I have, he can handle anything that I dish out at him. He can handle my anger, tears, ups and downs, all of my emotions. We are in a committed relationship.

That committed relationship certainly didn’t occur overnight on my end. I accepted Jesus as my savior as a little girl, but by the time I was a teenager I had come to believe that I was a pawn in a stupid game that God was playing and I wanted no part of it. So I decided to play my own game with my own rules and almost destroyed myself. When I opened myself to his love, I discovered a God who goes before me, who is with me, and who will never forsake me.

I can see clearly amid our overwhelming loss, God is putting comfort in place as we face every parent’s nightmare. A walking friend introduced me almost ten years ago to the cemetery where my son is buried. I continued to walk there with Jonathan as he grew up.

It was the only connection I had to any cemetery in the area, so it seemed like a good choice for Jonathan’s body to be laid to rest. Once the decision was made, my mom did some research. Much of our family is from this area and mom discovered that my great-grandparents are buried in the cemetery I had chosen! We had no idea. Not only are they buried there, but in the exact lot, I desired Jonathan to be buried. A lot that wouldn’t have been available to us if we did not already have family buried there.

Even the weird weather (the sky turned brilliant at 9pm after darkening for the evening) happening since Jonathan’s death is strangely comforting. It as if heaven itself is mourning with us. Dear friend, God prepares a way for us through whatever trials we face. He cares about every hair on our head, and yes, my back as well.

Lord, I praise you that you are committed to me and that I can trust you in my darkest hour.

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. 7 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 43:5 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

 

 

 

I Need to Tell My Story Without Reliving It

Today I give my first speech. You’d think as much as I write out encouragement to you that this step would be easy, but it’s not. My passion for you moves me forward, but my emotions make me want to hide in my turtle shell. No matter my personality, I am realizing that I must learn to speak to people with more ease. Face to face is a necessity when addressing all the levels at which I may be called to speak.

Standing in the G.A.P. (Gather, Assess, Provide) covers so many entities. I will need to speak effectively to schools, churches, medical providers, mental health professionals, judges, lawyers, parents, and teens. So I joined Toastmasters International. Look for one in your area if you want to learn how to give effective presentations.

Afterward:

Made it through the speech with excellent feedback.

Things to work on:

Reduce my need for notes, slow down and make more eye contact.

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Suicide Hotline

National Suicide Hotline

If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call the National Suicide Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to the website at  SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.