A Moment With My Dog

Psalm 46:10Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world. (NLT)

My dog, Ivory, needs to play just like most any other dog in the world… she knows it’s play time because I have called her name and then we just look at each other… She wags her tail increasingly faster the longer the silence is in anticipation until I finally make the first move…

Silence has been for me is hard to come by… I still find times when a kagillion thoughts are ranging through my mind… If you deal with mental health you know what I’m talking about… If you don’t… Then try to imagine about 100 wikipedia pages of information feeding into your brain all at the same time then the next batch only a few seconds or so later…

Be still… I used to beat myself up as I “couldn’t” be still long enough… I wasn’t “Christian” enough… I was a fraud… Then over time I came to realize that being still with God doesn’t need of minutes of actual silence…

If I truly love God and can only be still for a second… That’s okay!
Matthew 22:37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’

There’s no time expectation! Time isn’t always important to God…

2 Peter 3:8 But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends, a day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years to the Lord is like a day…

I just need the silence in my heart and soul. Just a moment is enough… It’s not the duration…
I can be still wherever I am…

Just close my eyes and think upon Phil 4:8

I can use natures sounds around me
I can listen to worship songs
I get use Phil 4:4-7
I can use Psalms
I can a Proverbs
I can use blessings from the Bible
I can use promises from God
I can go back and remember all the other times God has shown me His love and grace…

I can take every thought captive (2 Cor 10:3)…

Every thought IS captive when I deliberately choose to find a moment, a mere nano-second, of being still with God…

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A Psalm for Battle

I read this Psalm and immediately it related to me with my mental health issues…

Psalm 144 (NLT): A psalm of David

Praise the Lord, who is my rock.
He trains my hands for war
and gives my fingers skill for battle.
He is my loving ally and my fortress,
my tower of safety, my rescuer.
He is my shield, and I take refuge in him.
He makes the nations submit to me.
O Lord, what are human beings that you should notice them,
mere mortals that you should think about them?
For they are like a breath of air;
their days are like a passing shadow.
Open the heavens, Lord, and come down.
Touch the mountains so they billow smoke.
Hurl your lightning bolts and scatter your enemies!
Shoot your arrows and confuse them!
Reach down from heaven and rescue me;
rescue me from deep waters,
from the power of my enemies.
Their mouths are full of lies;
they swear to tell the truth, but they lie instead.
I will sing a new song to you, O God!
I will sing your praises with a ten-stringed harp.
For you grant victory to kings!
You rescued your servant David from the fatal sword.
Save me!
Rescue me from the power of my enemies.
Their mouths are full of lies;
they swear to tell the truth, but they lie instead.
May our sons flourish in their youth
like well-nurtured plants.
May our daughters be like graceful pillars,
carved to beautify a palace.
May our barns be filled
with crops of every kind.
May the flocks in our fields multiply by the thousands,
even tens of thousands,
and may our oxen be loaded down with produce.
May there be no enemy breaking through our walls,
no going into captivity,
no cries of alarm in our town squares.
Yes, joyful are those who live like this!
Joyful indeed are those whose God is the Lord

Let’s break it down and show how I relate my mental health battle to this Psalm

1. Praise the Lord, who is my rock. He trains my hands for war
and gives my fingers skill for battle.

God is ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS where ever I am… If I’m not sensing him, feeling him – that’s on me… And honestly sometimes I still end up flat on my back… The battle will continue to the day I die… And that day will be dictated by God – not Satan….

The training… Not TRAINING not as a Kung-Foo champion… And how do I get this training? In the trenches… Keeping in communication with God… And the fingers? I visual fingers turning the pages of a Bible… Knowing Scripture is better than any black belt…

2. He is my loving ally and my fortress,
my tower of safety, my rescuer.
He is my shield, and I take refuge in him.

I don’t think that this passage needs a lot of explaining BUT it is critical… It’s so easy to become complacent when life seems “easy”… and I start a slow slide away until I’m in near a whopping situation and I grab onto Him again and He tucks me under the shadow of His wing… ¹

3. He makes the nations submit to me.
O Lord, what are human beings that you should notice them,
mere mortals that you should think about them?
For they are like a breath of air;
their days are like a passing shadow.

The nation to David was the physical and tangible enemy… My enemy isn’t, but Satan I know has already lost the final battle… It’s like a sinking ship and he plans to take as many people as possible and make their lives utterly miserable… He will fight with all his strength and use every trick…

And he’s good at it… Like the suicide pilots in WWII… He’s been working his trade long before I was born… The final war battle is won but I need to pay attention to all the smaller battles and scrimmages… This is where I so readily trip up… And don’t notice until I’m face down in the muck, mostly of my own doing… Cue the rollover and once again I’m on my back looking up…

4. Open the heavens, Lord, and come down.

God is always just a prayer away..

I just need to look up and ask… If I’m not looking at Him then I’m looking the wrong way and once again I’ll find that I’ve been sliding downward and away…

5. Touch the mountains so they billow smoke.
Hurl your lightning bolts and scatter your enemies!
Shoot your arrows and confuse them!

God is in the house! He’s right with me as I battle my issues… His shots are always dead aim!

So what might these arrows and lightning bolts be?

  • God’s word
  • Prayers
  • Support network of family and friends
  • Physian’s
  • Medication
  • Therapy
  • Hospital or community based stays

Wait….
Hospital stays? Where is my faith?

While in community or hospital stays or group therapy I have been able to show God to people… Show His love… Reach people I directly relate to…

You see, when I’m in recovery I can be an example of how God lead me out… They’ve seen me when I have been a mess…

6. Reach down from heaven and rescue me;
rescue me from deep waters,
from the power of my enemies.
Their mouths are full of lies;
they swear to tell the truth, but they lie instead.

Here is where the real work begins… I realize that I’m in a situation where I definitely need God to help me… Satan definitely loves to lie… Think back to the Garden of Eden… He will take and use Scripture out of context… He wanted me in hell, which won’t happen because I believe Jesus died in the cross…

But I also know he will try EVERYTHING in his power to make my life not focused on God…

7. I will sing a new song to you, O God!
I will sing your praises with a ten-stringed harp.
For you grant victory to kings!

David started with praise… Not sure? Go back and read verse 1 again… He’s told God about his situation… So what does he do? He starts a Biblical party! Read Phil 4:4-7

8. You rescued your servant David from the fatal sword. (Mental Health – Suicide)

He isn’t bragging but he is stating his faith in God… You did it once before, please do it again!

Without a through and through healing, my mental health seems to be a life long fight…

Does this mean I lack faith?

No, I think the opposite is actually true for Christians who are knowingly dealing with mental health issues…

Do you think I want mental health illness?

There are so many things I simply can no longer do! I SOOOO loved my job! I mean really loved it! I was involved in my profession at both a provincial and national level… I had to step down… That alone should prove it…

There is an old saying of don’t put the cart in front of the horse… Meaning it’s easier to pull than push…

Christians who battle mental health illness actually push… It’s way harder to live life and trust God… The daily thought wars are endless…

10. Rescue me from the power of my enemies.
Their mouths are full of lies;

Part of the”power” is stigma… I was at a friend’s BBQ and met up with someone from my past… An old acquaintance… Divulging my mental health issues was really hard (pride)… I was caught up in my own created stigma bubble… But after I did break through, it opened up other channels of discussion…

11. May our sons flourish in their youth
like well-nurtured plants.
May our daughters be like graceful pillars,
carved to beautify a palace.
May our barns be filled
with crops of every kind.
May the flocks in our fields multiply by the thousands,
even tens of thousands,
and may our oxen be loaded down with produce.
May there be no enemy breaking through our walls,
no going into captivity,
no cries of alarm in our town squares.

I debated keeping the verses just above but then I pictured how beautiful it could be for mental health issues to be embraced with love. Providing hope²…

12. Yes, joyful are those who live like this!
Joyful indeed are those whose God is the Lord

Amen

¹ Psalm 145:14 (NLT): The Lord helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads

² Psalm 145:15 (NLT): The eyes of all look to you in hope;
you give them their food as they need it.

A King, Depression and Silence

David as in David the sheperd boy, you know the one with the sling who killed Goliath; the last son who was finally called when Samuel came to anoint the next King of Jessie clan; the David who was hunted down by the current King…

Guess what?

He had mental health issues!

Take a look at the verses below…

David fought depression… DEEP Depression

Towards the end of the Psalm… Look at the connection between love and silence…

Silence… From all the negative, self destructive thoughts that can race around in my head…

Read the Psalm over and over again… Find how you can turn to God… Everyone may feel something or learn something different, but know that God, your Father in heaven wants to talk to you… He’s waiting…

Psalm 143:7–12 (NLT): Come quickly, Lord, and answer me,
for my depression deepens.
Don’t turn away from me,
or I will die.
Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning,
for I am trusting you.
Show me where to walk,
for I give myself to you.
Rescue me from my enemies, Lord;
I run to you to hide me.
Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God.
May your gracious Spirit lead me forward
on a firm footing.
For the glory of your name, O Lord, preserve my life.
Because of your faithfulness, bring me out of this distress.
In your unfailing love, silence all my enemies
and destroy all my foes,
for I am your servant.

Poker Chips and Help

So many people shake their fist, raise their voice &/or blame God when life’s events have pulled the rug from under their feet…

Others believe that God is punishing them…

Add in a mental health factor and away we go!

This verse in 2 Samuel says otherwise…

2 Samuel 14:14 (NLT): All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again.

But God does not just sweep life away;

instead, He devises ways to bring us back WHEN WE have been separated from Him.

Yes, we all will eventually waiver in our Christian walk… Mental health issues or not…

With mental health issues many, most, are well on their way path of separation…

With our free will, we can easily walk this way… and with deadly consequences…

BUT you can’t blame God! Look at the second part of the verse… Life isn’t like a poker chip in a game that He gambles with!

INSTEAD!

He tries and offers ways back to being in His comfort… There is ALWAYS a place to exit when life has caught us up in a tornado… ALWAYS!

This is the God who fed 5,000 with a few fish and bread, the God who split the Red Sea for the Israelites to cross through, the Jesus who raised Lazarus from the dead, The Christ who died on a cross…

It wasn’t at a poker game with Satan that has saved us…

It is His incredible, redeeming, all encompassing, forgiving and endless love…

He’s always around us… He’s only a thought, as simple as saying “help” ready to comfort us…

With my mental health issues, I didn’t even really look towards God for a long time…

It was only when I was totally broken that I sought God… And He was right there… He gave me hope when my faith was lost… He gave me unconditional love when all seemed black…

Simply He devises ways to bring ME back WHEN I had been separated from Him

The same help is there for everyone…

Psalm 142:5 (NLT): Then I pray to you, O Lord. I say, “You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life.

Just remember, God brings peace, love, hope…

It’s Satan who brings ANYTHING negative…

God has a way of getting immediately to Him… Just say help!

Mortal Danger & Even Though

1 Samuel 30:6 (NLT): David was now in great danger because all his men were very bitter about losing their sons and daughters, and they began to talk of stoning him. But David found strength in the Lord his God.

David’s life was in mortal danger… To me mortal danger is mortal danger whether it comes from people or suicidal or oppressive thoughts…

What is notable to me is how David dealt with his situation…

A few weeks ago I was struggling… My anxiety was building to serious levels… I had been dealing with some issues and those were past… So I wasn’t in adrenaline mode anymore… Reality hit… And it wasn’t going well…

This ending adrenaline mode to mental health crisis is OLD… As recorded in 1Kings 1-14… Elijah must be running on adrenaline and performs a huge miracle… Then when it’s over he crashes…

1 Kings 19:4 (NLT): Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”

On a Saturday I and a few friends were getting together but in dealing with my anxiety where it was at… There was no way I could handle being in a crowd… So I sent a “I’m not coming” message…

So what did I do? How did I survive my mini crisis? I sent out help texts to my support team knowing they would pray for me…

I turned to God… I did my daily devotionals and God delivered… As I was reading I saw attributes of God… Who He is… What he has already done for others… And seeing as God is the same yesterday… today and forever… I cried out to God…

“Father your word says You did this… Your word shows You are… You have proven You have…”

AND IT WORKED!

As I was praying and claiming I suddenly realized that horrible oppression filling me inside was GONE… I mean GONE…

It was a really strange feeling actually… I couldn’t remember the last time I had felt so light inside…

And I rejoiced! I send a THANK YOU message explaining how I was feeling, looked at my watch… Got dressed to go and met up with my friends…

Does this mean I am completely healed? As much as I would love to say yes… It still isn’t the case…

Hanukkah 3:17-18 states:

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,

and

there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,

and the

fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,

and the

cattle barns are empty,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord!

So EVEN THOUGH my mental health issues are not gone; and I battle with them…

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord!

Harbour

Psalm 107:28–30 (NLT): “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
He calmed the storm to a whisper
and stilled the waves.
What a blessing was that stillness
as he brought them safely into harbor!

When I read this in today’s devotions it quickened my mind and a few words stood out, each with a memory and reason to praise God…

Distress… When I look back at who I was in 2014 I know I was totally in distress… Being suicidal pretty much sums it up… God met at me and the healing process began…

Whisper & Still… #1 I was at our Celebrate Recovery weekly meeting and God’s spirit whispered to my heart 💓 that I no longer hated myself… And it was truth… It came as just a puff of air…

#2 I sat in church on a Sunday morning and again the whisper and puff only this time I received my comission from God… Ministering to women who also are dealing with mental health issues both who come to CR and those who in are in church who but keep them hidden because of stigma…

And in bith those moments I was totally still and knew God… Psalms 46:10 Be still and know…

Harbour… Recently I was on a boat and we were suppose to be heading to an area for snorkeling and other water activities but it impossible because a storm was brewing and the waves were too choppy. Instead we headed back and stayed within the harbour – where it was safe…

God has taken me out of my suicidal, deep self-hatred and provided me safety…

Is life perfect? 🙃 No, not even close but I’m in the harbour and I can choose to stay or if I’m not paying attention, I can drift out beyond the safety…

Feelings Nothing More Than Feelings

Reader’s over the age of 45 might recognize the title of an old song written in 1975…

Everyone has feelings… With mental health sometimes the feelings seem be volitile… Or extreme…

Borderline personality can be boomerang feelings… (I hate you – don’t leave me!!!)

Depression… Feelings of low self-worth… self-hatred… Isolation… Desire to end pain that has been hidden inside… Wanting to escape strong and negative feelings…

Anxiety… Feelings of extreme tension of fight, flight or freeze…

Feelings that are distorted – so distorted that death can seem the only way out…

1 John 3:18–20 (NLT): Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.

I’m going to apply this in light of mental health…

  • Stigma… The stigma of being a Christian with mental health by those with and judgement by those without.
  • The action of truth as a Christian actually facing what the mental health issues are – to not continue to stuffing it down… Stuffing down energy that otherwise could be serving God with our talents
  • The action of other Christians who judge… Simply put GET OVER IT! King David, Elijah, Miriam ALL had depression! These “spiritual giants” weren’t excluded from ministry! The action is LOVE not condemnation! That’s what the truth is!
  • Guilt… The last big battle I had, a total med change, was nasty… And while I was dragging low guilt was hanging around… I questioned not only my sanity but also challenged my role in the body of Christ… How could I hold my head up and serve when I was “like this”? This wasn’t pleasing to God! Thoughts that I was a fraud assailed me… Thoughts that the world, my husband, children would be better off without me… Guilt… Guilt…

But look at the end of the passage:

Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.

God is greater than my feelings

God knows everything.

Truth: Even when I felt that I was at the bottom – God was there with the truth for me…

Hurricane or Breezy Battles

Psalm 104:34 (NLT): May all my thoughts be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord.

That’s a pretty big and lofty goal but also a goal we should aim for!

Thoughts, those crazy thoughts that are always just there beside me… It’s not like A Beautiful Mind and not schizophrenia or psychosis… It’s the realization that everyday is a fight… Sometimes an exhausting fight, like a big wind storm…

And God showed me a perfect example this past week… And wow! Out for coffee with a friend when a storm cell blew through! We literally watched it “walk” past the window…

Visual markers in the near distance looked like they were shrouded with a fog but it was hail and rain… And I mean blew! Tree branches totally blowing all in one direction with a sustained gale…

Flash flooding as the ground tried to keep up… Still big puddles on the road with driving home and intermittent massive downpour…

Some days it’s more like a breezy day… I’ve had a few storm cells whip through in a hurry… Short lived but If it becomes a sustained blow then it’s likely a medication change and I will seek medical help as well as spiritual…

2 Corinthians 10:3–5 (NLT): We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

When the dark threatens, I need to acknowledge it ASAP, use God’s weapons, capture it and destroy them… NOT an easy task… it can sneak in and often it’s a few days before I recognize what is happening… But God is always there and the war is already won so I need to remind my self that God and I can beat the battle…

Journalling is important as I can look back on the battle victories I’ve we’ve already won… It might take a few minutes to recuperate from a breezeor days or weeks from a storm cell or months with a hurricane… I only need to remember that the cross should always be my focal point and eventually even the hurricanes subside…

Isaiah 41:10 (part of my Spiritual first aid

)

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand

.

Mental Health and the Battle with the Evil One

Mental health illness does not disappear like a light switch being turned off anymore than it was clicked on one day. It’s a combination of genetics and environment.

Don’t get me wrong – GOD CAN AND HAS AND WILL HEAL PEOPLE 100% of those who deal with mental health issues.

So far, I’m not one. My “yes” answer could come anytime as God often doesn’t say NO but instead it’s wait…

The verses below talk about living in the Light with the Light being Jesus. The commandment is to love your neighbors as yourself…

1 John 2:8–14 (NLT): Jesus lived the truth of this commandment, and you also are living it.

For the darkness is disappearing, and the true light is already shining.

If anyone claims, “I am living in the light,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is still living in darkness.

Anyone who loves a fellow believer is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble. But anyone who hates a fellow believer is still living and walking in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness.

I am writing to you who are God’s children because your sins have been forgiven through Jesus.

I am writing to you who are mature in the faith because you know Christ, who existed from the beginning.

I am writing to you who are young in the faith because you have won your battle with the evil one.

I have written to you who are God’s children because you know the Father.

I have written to you who are mature in the faith because you know Christ, who existed from the beginning.

I have written to you who are young in the faith because you are strong.

God’s word lives in your hearts,
and you have won your battle with the evil one.

John, if memory is correct, is a Mary and Joseph brother of Jesus.

I would hope I’m now mostly living in the Light… When I first had my melt down, I wasn’t… Instead I was in a deep darkness… Isolated – self isolated… I was blinded by the darkness, because I hated myself…

I had forgotten that the WAR of death and darkness had already been won!

When I turned back to God the darkness was already disappearing…

So is life all candy drops and rainbows? No.

Regardless of mental health issues, every Christan has a daily battle with their walk…

There are days, sometimes a few in a row… Sometimes a week or…

With mental health, I think at least for me, the results are more pronounced when it comes… it can be hard to notice the shadow that grows…

And other times, it isn’t the shadow, it can be medication… Which will lead to the shadow as Satan will use anything he can…

Don’t forget, we have physical changes to our brain!

Bottom line… Remember Jesus already whipped Satan when He died on the cross… Keep this truth in mind especially in the shadow days and look for His light…

The Silence of the Grave

Psalm 94:17–19 (NLT): Unless the Lord had helped me,
I would soon have settled in the silence of the grave.
I cried out, “I am slipping!”
but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me.
When doubts filled my mind,
your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.

In early 2014 I found myself well… lost… These verses literally ring true for me…

In May of 2014 I was as low as someone can go without being dead… And I had tried one way… Suicide note written… The attempt obviously failed but the will to live hadn’t rushed in either…

The silence is the grave was close at hand… And I can quote Psalm 94:17-19 as my gospel truth…

But God did come in an unexpected way through the pending death of a friend (yes, ironic – God does have a sense of humor)… I took that step one needs to make… The 180 turn and He was there…

It’s been 4 years and today I can truthfully say God has been here… The road has been up and down… Life is never stagnant… And never should be… I went from mountain tops to deep dark dungeons… often stuck in the dungeons for extended periods of time…

Now I’m in a pleasent valley… I’m tucked under the shadow of His wing… His rod and His staff have been guiding and leading me… I wouldn’t say I’m in the valley of the shadow of death… It’s more like

Psalm 1:3 (NLT): They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
bearing fruit each season.

Psalm 3:3–5 (NLT): But you, O Lord, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.
I cried out to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy mountain.

I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the Lord was watching over me.

I started giving everything up to God…

But know this…

IT WASN’T SNAP THE FINGERS AND ALL IS PERFECT

Today it is still a battle… Knowing it is a battle is actually good… Recently at church our pastor actually stated that if you aren’t in a battle then Satan has nothing to worry about with you… And that is a horrible realization…

I battle the normal Christan fights… Remembering to pray, doing devotions, spending intimate time with God everyday…

I also deal with the ever present mental health war… And war it is…

2 Corinthians 10:3–5 (NLT): We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

It is a battle of the mind for everyone… For some just more intently…

When I’m doing well and everything is tickity-boo can actually be the worst time… I become self-reliant… I don’t catch the slow sliding down until I can’t help but notice…

It’s a teeter-totter that needs to be balanced… I can’t do it alone… I have inside help (the Holy Spirit), wordly help (friends and family) and not wordly help (angels and Jesus and God)…

My friend did pass away a short time later… Then about 2 or so years later I met up with his wife… I asked her if she realized that his dying and my attending his life celebration (last bucket list – 60th bday party) [which was held at the hospital where I was admitted to the psych ward] had saved my life… When I went to give my best wishes, another friend talked to me and told me about Celebrate Recovery… Attending CR ultimately effected turn turning back to God and begin my healing process…

She hugged me tight and said a few times over,with tears streaming down her cheek, I knew there was a reason…I knew there was a reason…

God spoke to me and the silence was broken…

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