This post was prompted by the gang at Five Minute Friday Each Friday we take five minutes to write on the same prompt. It’s a lot of fun to see what others are inspired to write from the same prompt. Give it a try or click and do a bit of fun reading.
Music is my life.
There was a day when you would always find me singing. But lately, I find it hard to sing. It’s like there is a lump in my throat. And I feel kind of sad. So what’s a girl to do?
Always a Reason to Sing
2 Corinthians reminds me that our Christian life is not about being happy but about serving Christ. We are indeed jars of clay, cracked and broken but shining out the love of Christ. It’s those cracks and breaks that show the world we are His and that life can be fulfilling even in the valleys.
We are not promised a good life. We are not promised a bed of roses. Though if we were, I remind you the roses have thorns.
These scriptures remind us that even when we feel we cannot sing, we should look back at what God as done for us. If nothing else, He has saved us from our sin and promised us life eternal! This should be enough to give us His joy.
I’m reminded of the beautiful hymn, His Eye is on the Sparrow.
Why should I feel discouraged, Why should the shadows come, Why should my heart be lonely, And long for heaven, heaven and home, When, when Jesus is my portion, My constant Friend is He; Oh, oh-oh, his eye is on the sparrow, And I know He watched, watched it over me.
I sing because I’m happy (happy) I sing because I’m free (free free free) For His eye, his eye is on the sparrow, And I know, I know He watches over me.
He is my Constant Friend
God is watching over us. He cares about every detail of our lives. God sees us as His treasured possession! We can sing in this reality.
So don’t give up. Keep Singing.
Keep your eyes looking up. Be faithful to Him.
Allow His light to shine through you so that when you arrive at heaven’s gates, you will be bringing along a whole host of believers that found Christ because of your perseverance.
This summer (2020) Susie Larson is offering a free online study of her latest book, Fully Alive. This was such a helpful book for me, so I decided to repost this review. She is offering the book for only $10 [CODE: FAITHRADIO] and the study is free! Sign up at the end of this post.
NOTE: I received this book at no charge in exchange for writing this review. These words are my own opinion and I have not been compensated to say them.
Dare to Hope again
Have you been losing your hope lately? What is it that is pulling you down into
It is time to put all of these crazy, negative thoughts into captivity where they belong! Let’s put’em in jail.
Easy to say, isn’t it?
How do we actually do it?
He was 16 then and I was lying in bed trying to go to sleep and just as the scoundrel does, he put a horrid image and thought inside my head. Oh, I knew it came from the devil and I instantly rebuked him in Jesus’ Name and suddenly it was as though someone had changed the channel in my brain, warmth and peace overcame me.
Take that, devil.
Today that 16-year old is 40 and is as normal as any man can be!
Take that too, devil.
Crazy, negative thoughts have got to be captured and put inside a cell. They can overtake us and bring anxiety, fear, stress, and oppression to name a few.
Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up. Proverbs 12.25 (NLT)
Let’s look at 2 Corinthian 10 and find out what Paul is talking about!
The church at Corinth was in criticize mode against the Apostle. They were challenging his authority and he rebuked those with impure motives seeking to undermine his ministry. He simply tells them…(all scripture in Susan Translation)
Our weapons are not those of humans but are mighty in GOD for pulling down strongholds and arguments and every other thing that raises itself up against the knowledge of God. 2 Corinthians 10.4-5a
The mighty weapons IN GOD are available to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10.5b
So, when the enemy comes in and says to me, “Susan, your son is going to be blank and blank.”
I can say to him, “Satan, I might look human but I don’t fight like a human because I carry the weapons, the mighty weapons, of Almighty God and I throw your accusations and threats and lies into jail!”
Then, follow up with a declaration, “Satan, my son is the righteousness of Christ. He is an oak of righteousness. He walks in the newness of life and God’s hand is on him for all eternity.”
When Satan comes in with thoughts of fear, tell him…
I am not afraid. God will never leave me nor forsake me. Deuteronomy 31.8; God hasn’t given me a spirit of fear but a spirit of power, of love, and a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1.7
When Satan comes in and tries to steal your peace, tell him…
God will keep me in peace because my thoughts are set on Him. Isaiah 26.3; I am going to throw all my anxieties onto God because He cares for me. 1 Peter 5.7
When Satan comes in and tries to make you worried about things, tell him…
You know what devil? I am not going to worry about that because God is so good that He even takes care of the birds. And He makes the flowers beautiful and He cares about me and all the things that concern me. Matthew 6; The things that concern me, concern Him. Psalm 138.8
When Satan comes in and tries to cause you to stress and have anxious thoughts, tell him…
I am not going to be anxious because I can tell my heavenly Father about it. Philippians 4.6; Ya know what Satan? God is going to crush you under his feet and I am covered by the grace of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. Romans 16.20
A Scripture for EVERY Thought
I can assure you there is a scripture for every thought that comes against us. You can Google any thought for a scripture to combat it. But we have to take the initiative. We have to be pro-active. Sometimes something is so serious and hard that we are told to fast and pray about it, here.
FIGHT THE ENEMY WITH HIS MOST FEARED WEAPON – THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT, THE LIVING WORD OF GOD.
Do you hear the sound of Christmas bells this season? Sadly, 2019 this has been the Christmas song on my mind. I look at the headlines and watch the news. It saddens me that we must be at each other’s throats. We can’t seem to find anything to agree upon. If we do, we don’t dare admit it.
Longfellow wrote this poem in the years of the American Civil War. In many ways, we are again fighting a civil war. Lives are being lost and hate grows strong. May we find peace in Christ this Christmas.
I pray that God will help us find commonality in our lives. In so many ways we all want the same things. I know that true peace will only come when Christ returns to rule the world. I ache for this day. But I also know that God is waiting so that He can save as many as possible.
Do You Hear the Christmas Bells?
I heard the bells on Christmas Day Their old, familiar carols play, and wild and sweet The words repeat Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And thought how, as the day had come, The belfries of all Christendom Had rolled along The unbroken song Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Till ringing, singing on its way, The world revolved from night to day, A voice, a chime, A chant sublime Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Then from each black, accursed mouth The cannon thundered in the South, And with the sound The carols drowned Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
It was as if an earthquake rent The hearth-stones of a continent, And made forlorn The households born Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And in despair I bowed my head; “There is no peace on earth,” I said; “For hate is strong, And mocks the song Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail, With peace on earth, good-will to men.”
Longfellow’s Complete Poem
Longfellow wrote the poem on Christmas Day in 1863. “Christmas Bells” was first published in February 1865, in Our Young Folks, a juvenile magazine published by Ticknor and Fields.
In 1861, two years before writing this poem, Longfellow’s personal peace was shaken when his second wife of 18 years, to whom he was very devoted, was fatally burned in an accidental fire. Then in 1863, during the American Civil War, Longfellow’s oldest son, Charles Appleton Longfellow, joined the Union Army without his father’s blessing.
Longfellow was informed by a letter dated March 14, 1863, after Charles had left. “I have tried hard to resist the temptation of going without your leave but I cannot any longer”, he wrote. “I feel it to be my first duty to do what I can for my country and I would willingly lay down my life for it if it would be of any good.” Charles was soon appointed as a lieutenant but, in November, he was severely wounded in the Battle of New Hope Church, Virginia, during the Mine Run Campaign. Charles eventually recovered, but his time as a soldier was finished.
Let’s listen for the Christmas bells and find the true peace only in the Christ of Christmas.
Longfellow’s Poem Set to Music
In our hymnals, music by Jean Baptiste Calkin, 1872 sounding somewhat like this by the Spartan Dischords
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NLT)
Sadly, I can relate to the Apostle Paul. He had some type of ailment or thorn in the flesh as he called it. He asked God to remove it several times, but God said,
“My grace is sufficient ..”
Yes. It is true. His grace is sufficient.
First, I just reached the 8-year mile marker of a journey with chronic pain. And I have learned that this pain causes me to rest on Him. In the past, I trusted in my own strength, but now His grace is sufficient for me.
Secondly, even in ministry, I found myself doing everything from my own wisdom and my own strength my weakness. So God had to take me down a few notches. He needed me to look to Him for wisdom and strength. Oh, how it is so much better to lean on Him. So much more can be accomplished through Him when I allow Him to do the work. And it is so much more exciting to see Him do it!
In Savannah, we all know what it is like to be awakened in the night with blaring horns warning us that there are severe storms in the area. I recall into the midwest that storms and tornado warnings could come upon us quickly as well. Either way, it’s a frightening experience.
Just like in a tropical storm, we have no control of where or how the storms come in our lives. It may barrel straight through us or it might skirt around us. Some storms may be strong and dangerous and others are slow and become just a thunderstorm or even just a bit of rain. One never knows.
Isn’t Living For Christ a Cake Walk?
We would like to think that if we are following the Lord, life’s path will take us through smooth sailing. But this is not true. The Bible says, “In this life, we will have trouble.” (John 16:33) The Promise we do have is safety through the storm.
Oh, how we must learn that God is faithful through the storm.
God Sees us THROUGH the Storm
He will be right there with us, our haven. His path will help us grow and learn. We will be strengthened to face another day. He provides for our every need in every situation. There is Hope in the Hard Places.
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed
2 Corinthians 4:8-9 ESV
But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
Isaiah 43:1-2 ESV
Why do we worry and fret and not live in the peace that He offers us? Why do we allow the projected path of a storm to get us all worked up? We aren’t showing the world a reason to follow Christ if we fret and worry over our situation.
P.S. I’ve been introducing the old hymns lately. This seems like a good time to share a hymn…
“There is Peace in the Midst of the Storm”
When the world that I’ve been Living in collapses at my feet And when my life is all tattered and torn Though I’m wind-swept, I’ve been battered I’m gonna cling unto His cross I’ll find peace in the midst of the storm
-by Stephen Adams
There is peace in the midst of the storm-tossed life There is an Anchor, there is a rock to build my faith upon Jesus Christ is my vessel so I fear no alarm He gives me peace in the midst of the storm
Peace in the Midst of the Storm: Performed by The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir
I also work out my mind. I work out the hurt and the pain these last years have brought in my life.
I workout forgiveness toward myself- for unhealthy coping mechanisms that kept me stuck for so long.
I workout experiencing those low points and how now I have a deeper understanding of those who are going through dark times.
Working out Loss
I workout that friends, even one I had half my life, can walk away and because of that, I learned the healthy boundary of relationships. And that I have the gift of forgiveness and to love but also not to expect that in return.
I work out that being on this path is rare– most don’t take the time to find themselves apart from identifying as something-
college student etc.
Instead, I am working that out from the other end, finding myself, then success in what I want, and so on and so forth.
It’s empowering because I am not relying on anything to tell me where I “should be” or on anyone to make me feel valued.
I value me- because of all the humbling experiences that led me here and help me to show others their value too- and that to value yourself- it must come apart from anyone or anything.
-Thoughts from Jessie ❤️✊️
Thank you, Jessie, for these words of encouragement. Back when I was swimming a mile a day, I found it to be very beneficial in working out my hurts, pains, emotions.
Friends, How to you work out your pain and emotions? Share in the comments.
Are you worried or scared about the next step in your life? Sometimes, life can seem really foreboding. We might be afraid that we can’t accomplish the next step in our dream. Or that it will beat you down into failure. Maybe God is asking you to do something that you fear will cause you trouble? And you are shaking in fear about moving forward.
Many people who suffer from chronic pain and fibromyalgia, also suffer from depression and anxiety. So this week, I have asked my friend Jess Bongiorno to share about the topic. If you have been following this blog for a while, you may remember that she had written encouraging words before about facing depression.
It has been a while since I have written. Suffice it to say that the number one thing robbed from a person with anxiety and/or depression is time. We lose it so easily. Mostly because time has no meaning; pretty much everything has lost meaning- or means so much that it becomes too much to face, day in and day out.
And of all the things in life that I have struggled with- struggling with both anxiety and depression has been a completely draining experience, to say the least. These struggles are so misunderstood by so many that finding the will to stand up against them can seem impossible.
Forget about the fact that depression robs you of any sense of life and that anxiety makes life oftentimes too difficult to face in even small moments broken down in a day. When you add to the fact that society as a whole has a stigma attached to these mental illnesses that is one of shame and weakness, a person is left to only feel as though they are being kicked when they are at their lowest, that somehow they are less of a human and they cannot function in society because of these issues.
For many years, I wanted those around me to understand my struggles with depression and anxiety. That the days spent in bed because of that deep pain that hurt too much to face the day were not days spent feeling sorry for myself. On the contrary, I was ill. And just like a physical sickness can keep a person bedridden, so can mental illness.
My struggle with depression and anxiety stole years of my life. Robbed me of knowing myself, loving myself, and finding inner peace.
So what led me to a healthier place today?
Well, actually it took many years and at the end of those years, were the last couple of months when every moment of the day was consumed with the longing of my life to end.
Yes. I thought about dying.
Not in the sense that I thought of ways to end my life but instead, for me, it was a thing which the moment I woke and not ending until I fell asleep- did I long for my life to end. I wanted to die.
WOAH! Jess, that’s too dark!
Yea well, get over yourself, because it is a reality for those of us who face these issues.
Anyways, after about a month and a half of dealing with these deep, dark longings, soon my work became affected.
I couldn’t get my average workloads done anymore.
It was impossible to focus on anything and now, more than ever, longing for the end left me with no ambition.
I knew I had a choice to make.
I chose to do something about what I was struggling with.
It was an internal choice. One I made for the first time without trying to explain myself to anyone. I knew the truth about myself more than anyone and I knew that I needed help.
Making that first decision on my own was the most subtle form of strength I found in me. And just like a workout out- my mental strength began to grow the more I began to face my issues- acknowledge that depression and anxiety were not healthy and even though I grew comfortable with these thought patterns that I knew so well- the moment I began to separate these issues from defining me was the moment I found strength.
I am not depressed- I am a person who struggles with depression.
It’s a subtle yet important difference.
It is the platform of strength for those of us who struggle with issues because for the first time ever- it is changing what we focus on.
Letting go of others- of the attachment to others- of the understanding of others.
Letting go of our performance and failures and instead, noticing that situation and people are so incredibly fickle but you can be so incredibly calm because you can let go of all of that.
Now, I’m not saying the moment you understand these issues and how they affect you as an individual you be instantly cured of these issues.
I struggle every day with anxiety and depression, however, making the choice to take the right steps for yourself will start you on the path you need to be on. The one for yourself- and no it’s not selfish, it’s healthy.
Every person’s path is different
Some may involve medication, therapy, learning healthy boundaries and coping mechanisms- but the first step- is to decide for yourself and let go of everything and the opinions of everyone else.
It is a step toward self-respect- something most of us don’t fully comprehend.The ideas of self-respect and self-love; these seem selfish to those of us who spend most of all of our time thinking of others. But it is the right step forward and one I encourage you on.
Ever since I began to share about my struggle with depression and anxiety – I have had so many people open up to me…. it is to these people I write these words…
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders ….. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
The open road and my worn shoes sometimes seem like the best inspiration and listeners a girl could ask for. Running allows me to physically release everything I hold in on a day to day basis… If you struggle with anxiety- you know what it is like- to have those moments in a day when you are at work or doing whatever it is you gotta do- and life is just too much. And although on the outside you appear okay- on the inside– it is a whole other story. Some days are so bad you don’t even recognize the person you are in that moment. To me- there are days when it feels like a raw nerve is exposed and all it takes is one poke and all these anxieties come out in anger or tears- that can be an embarrassing experience, but it is a human one.
Make a Choice Concerning Your Depression
I will never forget the day when I was running- and I let go of the thought that I couldn’t run any further. That year I ran two half marathons. Whenever someone asks me how I can run so far I always say that they can do it too you just have to know you can. Running- while intensely physical- is completely about your mindset.
Recently I made a choice.
My choice wasn’t to “not be depressed anymore” or to “not be anxious anymore”. Obviously, that is impossible. What is possible is to be successful in life- to be depressed and anxious but to NOT let those things take your life away from you. Just like running those uphills- living your life when you struggle with anxiety and depression can be extremely difficult- but just as I am able to make it to the tops of those hills- I also can live my life.
Well- here’s my inspiration for you.
Sometimes when I am running up a really hard hill (like on Snake Road) things get hard. It gets harder to breathe- sometimes I get cramps or pains. But a trick I use- is to distract myself by looking around at all of the beauty around me. It calms me- helps me to breathe and gives me the inspiration to keep going.
So in turn- in those moments… remember what is beautiful in your life. Think of your family and friends – of those you love and those that love you. Think of all you have accomplished.
You are worth something….and you can get past this moment, even if all you do is just get past it.
Thank you, Jessie, for these words of encouragement. I recently spoke about facing adversity. One of my points was to look around at the beauty instead of down at the muck and mire of our lives. Keep looking up! God will get you through this! I’m reminded of this wonderful verse from the scriptures.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:9
Feeling Your Pain;
Dealing with Depression or Thoughts of Suicide?
Please talk to someone. Call the Suicide hotline. They are waiting for your call 24/7. And it’s confidential. Don’t wait any longer. Reach out for help. We love you.
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