There is a song by Rascal Flatts called “Changed” that has been running through my mind. The lyrics and the melody have sort of gotten stuck in my brain. Changed—yes, I am changed because of what God has been doing in my life, but I have started asking myself, “How have I changed?” Why is this song playing over and over in my head, even keeping me awake at night? In the middle of one of those sleepless nights, I finally got up to tackle this question.

When I got up, I felt a real need to write about this issue, but I was not sure where to begin. Eventually I decided to begin by examining the prayers that I have been praying for my children. For weeks, I had been praying specifically for their physical healing, because each of them was dealing with ailments that were causing real distress in her life. But, rather than seeing positive results from my prayers, I was seeing disasters in their lives instead. It was crazy. One of my daughters seemed to come down with a new ailment every week and had even been diagnosed with a mild heart problem. The other daughter suddenly came down with the flu and sent me an SOS for help. Of course, I immediately packed a bag and headed out the door to take care of her, but before I could leave the house I received a text from my daughter-in-law (my third daughter) saying that she was in the midst of a miscarriage. I could not go to be with her, unfortunately, because of distance, but I did begin to pray for her and her family.

But I almost felt as if my prayers were jinxing my loved ones rather than blessing them, and I really struggled with what was happening in their lives. And there’s that word again—“Changed.” How does this word fit into what is happening in my life and my daughters’ lives? I asked God for an answer. But at first there was no answer, only silence. It was the middle of the night, so I thought about something else that had been keeping me awake. Maybe God wanted me to write about lost jewelry.

I do not wear much jewelry because I am allergic to most of the metals that are used in jewelry. But there were two particular pieces that were very special to me, a ring that my grandmother had given me and a necklace that my husband had given me as a wedding present. Some years earlier, I had given these items to my daughters as symbols of our bond and pledges of our love. But sadly my younger daughter later lost my grandmother’s ring during a very stressful and challenging period in our relationship. Even now I want to weep when I think of the heartbreak that she caused me, not because of the lost ring but because of the alienation and betrayal that I felt during that time. My older daughter, on the other hand, cherished the necklace that I handed down to her, until it was stolen. She was devastated, and I want to weep for her, too, because of the sadness that she experienced when the necklace was lost to her.

Changed. Oh, how I have changed. The ring represents a time of depression, bitterness, unforgiveness, and hurt as my younger daughter moved further and further away from me emotionally and spiritually. The necklace, though, represents a tender and loving heart moved by loss and sadness but full of hope, joy, forgiveness, and healing. I am beginning to see the change. I am not the person I once was. Now I am the mom who diligently prays for the healing of my children and believes that God will make a difference in their lives no matter what the circumstances seem to say.

Changed. How thankful I am that I don’t have to stay stuck in the misery and depression of yesterday. Instead, God is at work in my life, changing those things that I cannot change. I Thessalonians 5:23-24 promises, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass” (NASB).

Oh, what a promise, that God Himself will sanctify us, will change us, because He is Faithful. Dear Lord, thank you for the changes that You have brought to pass in my life. The road to recovery is full of changes. Can you see them? Believe, even when your prayers seem to jinx your loved ones, believe that He can heal hurt and broken lives and make us blameless at His coming. We are changed!

Blessings – Lisa

Looking In From The Outside

Depression is such a crazy, confusing, frustrating thing. I absolutely hate it, but I find myself there more often than I care to admit. Unfortunately, other members of my family also struggle with depression. We are all on the road to recovery, thankfully, but we are at various stages in counseling and in different phases of depression. As the mother and caregiver for two daughters, I find great difficulty in dealing with their emotions while I am walking down the same path myself.

During those stressful days when both of our daughters had moved home out of necessity, one week in particular was just horrible. There were days upon days filled with the girls’ crying, angry outbursts, selfish behavior, and even shutting themselves in their rooms.  I was constantly saying the wrong thing to them and making matters worse. Sometimes they would not even get out of bed in the morning, so it became my responsibility to get them up and out of the house. I had to keep our day-to-day lives going: wash, clean, cook, iron, pay bills, and do whatever else it took to keep the household from falling apart. On some days, I longed to be the one who was crying, who stayed curled up in my bed in my room. But I just kept going.

Finally, one Saturday, I had just had enough. My heart hurt. I needed encouragement or a word of wisdom from God. So He gave me a picture. As I stood at my kitchen sink, looking out the window, our cat suddenly jumped up onto the window ledge outside. She just sat there, staring at me with her huge yellow eyes. She watched me as I worked in the kitchen. I could feel her longing to be inside the house with me, but she was outside looking in. I realized that all she could see from that windowsill was me, working in the kitchen. 

I felt much like that cat concerning my daughters. I wanted to come inside their heads and know what was going on in their minds, but all I could get was a small glimpse into their lives. I could not understand them because, like the cat that could only see into my kitchen, I could only see the girls’ outward behavior. What was going on inside their hearts, souls, and minds was hidden from me. I longed to know my daughters’ struggles and what caused them to cry, why they turned away from me and hid inside their rooms. There were so many unanswered questions. Living with them but knowing that I could not “fix” them or protect them was very painful for me. The hurtful past was still influencing their lives these many years later. I was so sad. I left my kitchen, went away and wept.

But then God spoke to me through my tears. He reminded me that my girls were not alone in their houses of grief. He promised me that He was there in their houses with them. All I could see was the girls’ kitchens—and I could not see God there—but in the other rooms of their houses He was working. I needed to believe that. Just as my cat had been sitting on the ledge looking through the kitchen window into that one room, I realized that I could only see a small portion of what was happening in their lives. I could not see God in their lives, but I had to believe that He really was there.

Matthew 7: 24-25 says, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock” (NAS). What my girls needed from me was prayer for their spiritual foundations, so that their houses would not fall. I had been neglecting my prayer time for them, but I now realized that I needed to repent and pray for them as they struggled on their paths to wholeness and healing.

Do you know someone who struggles with depression? Do you feel helpless, not knowing what to do to help her? Pray for her foundation. Pray for her to allow God full access to all the rooms of her house. He is the only One who can keep her life from falling apart. We can only peer into the lives of our loved ones through small windows, but God alone lives in their houses with them. Start praying today.

Bam! I made the choice to love.

I spent months of my life diligently working to clean out the black spots in my heart. I dealt with forgiving others, had a few relapses, and then strove to forgive them again. That’s when I began to enjoy the benefits of the freedom that forgiveness brings. My heart was so light. I even resumed some of the activities and obligations that I had had to give up, and other people started to notice the changes in my life. I knew I was getting closer and closer to the end of my journey toward wellness. My victories were preparing me to face a big hurdle yet to come, but the end was in sight. I felt great!

Of course, that’s when God decided to work on a black speck in my heart. It was just a tiny speck, but it had to be erased like all the other black spots if I were to finish my journey. I had to deal with it face-on before I could move on. Isn’t that just like God? He cares so much for me that He doesn’t want even a speck to come between me and the freedom that He has to offer.

At this point of my healing, I thought that I had already forgiven all the people in my life who had caused me pain and against whom I had harbored ill feelings. I thought I was past that point. Unfortunately, however, there was one more relationship in my life that needed attention, and God was calling me to do more than just forgive this woman. She needed my help. Before, when I had dealt with other damaged relationships, I had been able to release the offending person to God privately, without direct confrontation. But this time, God wanted me to handle the situation in a completely different manner. He wanted me to take care of this person in her hour of need.

Wait a minute, God.

I did not love this woman, so how was I supposed to minister to her physical and emotional needs? I did not love her? This realization sparked a heart-wrenching battle.

Oh, God, You alone can help me out of this dilemma.

The situation was very painful. I had come so far, but now this new battle was threatening to send me back into the pit of despair. In fact, I went into a deep depression, so bad that I couldn’t get out of bed or get dressed. I was barely functioning. God commanded me to care for this person physically and emotionally, but my heart just wouldn’t cooperate. I wanted to be a godly woman. I wanted to be obedient. My head knew the Truth, but it hadn’t moved to my soul yet.

How can I do this? How, God? Change me!

In the fourth chapter of I John, John uses the word love in almost every line. Verse 7: “[Let] us love one another…, love is from God…, everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” Verse 8: “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” Verse 11: “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” Verse 12: “[I]f we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us” (NASB). On and on, John writes about love. Verse 17: “Love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence.”

Confidence: that is the word that makes the difference. I have come so far and been obedient to God for so long, and I can do it again because I have confidence that God is Faithful. By emotionally and physically ministering to this person, I can rid my heart of that troublesome black speck. Oh, what joy, what victory, what excitement!

Remarkably, this particular setback lasted only one day. That in itself was part of the victory. One day of struggling and weeping and depression, and then—bam!—I gained the confidence to love someone who, for me, was unlovable. I knew that I could follow God’s command and do it with real love. I could, and I did.

Is there some black speck in your life that God wants to work on? Give it to Him. Has He called you to do something that seems impossible? Do it. Remember your past victories and use the confidence from those victories to move forward today. Today! Don’t take another year, another month, even another week, but do it today. This is my testimony to you, Oh Friend. We can have the victory today. We may wake up defeated, but at the end of the day we can go to bed victorious. Believe it. With God’s help, we can live a victorious life.

Blessings – Lisa

From Despair to Hope

My word for the day: despair. I still battle with despair—weeping and sorrowing because sometimes it seems that I will never be able to change who I am inside. And today I am so very tired. I have shut down, and I cannot feel any real emotions. I walk around, doing what needs to be done, but I know that I should be enjoying the people around me—the people I love and cherish so much. I am doing what I usually love to do. I am cooking for and serving those who mean the most to me. But on the inside I am numb. I do not understand feeling this way, and I do not like it. Even as I write this, tears are in my eyes for the despair that I feel. I want to be alive inside and not numb!

I plead with God to give me a sign, to give me some hope, to give me the strength to continue my walk on the path to wholeness. But the tears are falling and falling as despair washes over me again. Oh, God, what is there for me now, in this moment? And now my tears are slowing to a stop. God has brought me a glimmer of hope. He reminds me of a recent road trip through the Southwest.

On that drive through the desert, I saw myself in the terrain around me. I saw desolation in the barren rocks, thorny cactus, and general nothingness all around me. My heart felt just like that desert. I felt hard like the rocks and prickly like the cactus. I felt empty. The relentless desert wind made driving difficult. The wind blew and blew. It reminded me of all the things in my life that were beyond my control. Circumstances in my life were blowing me from here to there, making it hard to navigate. There were situations that made me feel sad and helpless, situations that I didn’t want to face or even to think about. These things were like the wind that just kept blowing.

Then there were the road signs along the highway, signs I had never seen before in my life. One of the signs read, “Zero Visibility Possible.” Really? I’m supposed to keep driving even when I cannot see? Yet that’s what the signs instructed me to do, to drive and not to stop even with zero visibility. And that’s exactly what I felt was going on in my life. I was traveling down a road I had never been on before, and sometimes I could not see where I was going, but I had to keep moving. Keep getting up, keep getting dressed, keep cooking, keep cleaning, keep loving the precious ones around me, keep living.

On this same road trip I saw an ominous black cloud that appeared to touch the ground right beside my car. It was heavy and oppressive, and I felt as if I could get lost in it. It was an amazing sight. I had never seen a cloud so black and so close. To me, it represented the storm that was going on in my life. I feared that the black cloud in my personal desert might cover me up or take me away. I cried out to God as despair threatened to crush me again.

But then, in the distance—down the road, past the cloud—I saw it. I couldn’t believe it. I saw a rainbow, but not just any rainbow. This rainbow that God had sent me was huge, enormous, the biggest rainbow I had ever seen! On the flat desert landscape, the rainbow stretched from horizon to horizon, filling up the entire sky with huge, bright bands of vivid color. I was amazed. I was awestruck. It was a rainbow for me.

So I looked again at the desert terrain, this time with different eyes. God showed me His truths using the cactus. I saw some cacti blooming and others standing firm against the relentless wind. I saw strength and beauty, even in the desolate desert, and I was reassured that I would find strength and beauty even in this difficult, stormy time of my life. I knew that I must remember the rainbow and cling to the belief that new life would once again fill my heart.

What about you? Are you going through a season of despair and sorrow as you read this? Let us look at Isaiah 35:1: “The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom: it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy” (NIV). I have been allowing the enemy to taunt me and oppress me, but today I am going to remember that rainbow and praise my God. I put my hope in God, that one day I will be able to stand firm like the cactus and bloom beautifully in the desert. I will not allow the winds to blow away my hope.

Hey, let’s go through the desert together. Let’s keep going, even when there’s zero visibility. Let’s bloom where God has placed us. And always, let us keep our eyes on the rainbow. It fills the whole sky. Look at how beautiful it is! And it’s for us.

Blessings – Lisa

Standing On The Edge Of A Decision

Relapse. Slipping. Falling. An unexpected phone call had thrown me for a loop. I suddenly felt myself falling back down into the dark abyss of depression that had so long held me captive. Those bad thoughts that I had let control my life during the dark days wanted to take over my life again. When the phone call came, I was in my car, six hours away from home. I had six hours in the car by myself to mull this thing over.

I cried, yelled a little, and began questioning my ability to forgive. But God, in His infinite mercy, with His impeccable timing, began to speak to me in a number of ways during the long drive home. First, I found a Christian radio station and started singing along, and began to calm down. Then the music was interrupted by a short devotion about bitterness and forgiveness. Miles later, on a different Christian music station, another short devotion came on the air and—guess what—it, too, was about bitterness and forgiveness.

Okay, God, I am listening. You have my undivided attention. I know that I need to really forgive and to let the past rest in itself.

Today is the day to move on and, if need be, to forgive again. Feelings are so false and deceiving at times. I could hear my counselor asking, “What is the Truth?” The Truth is what I am to live by, not those misleading emotions. We must believe the Truth and choose to forgive, and eventually the right feelings will take residence in our hearts.

Then a song by Casting Crowns called “East to West” came on the radio. The lyrics spoke to me in a deep and meaningful way. In my relapse, I was drowning because I had fallen and had forgotten the Truth of what I had done, the forgiveness I had bestowed in the past. I had allowed the chains of yesterday to surround me again and to close my heart to forgiveness. I needed peace and rest, because I was not at peace. I felt only dread and hurt and pain. But I did not want to end up where I had been a year ago, at the beginning of my deep depression journey.

Those false thoughts swirled in my mind, keeping me anxious, and I knew that sleep would not come easily that night if I did not give them back over to God. The Truth is that I had already confessed my unforgiveness and that God had cast my sin far, far away. I knew I must cling to that Truth, but I felt myself standing on the edge. My choice would make all the difference.

My choice—either to relapse and fall back into the pit, or to forgive and remember the freedom in which I had been living for the last few months. As I pondered my decision, the lyrics of the song came back into my mind, and I remembered Philippians 4:4-7:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (NIV).

The peace of God—that is what I wanted! I wanted my heart and my mind to be guarded, but I could not do it on my own. I could only do it with God’s help and with His Word. I had to give this situation over to God and believe that He is near, no matter what may happen in the future.

Another thing that I heard from the song was that God had taken my sins as far as the east is from the west. I realized that I had to extend that same grace and mercy to this situation in my life. I had to forgive, because the price for my own sins had been paid by the scars on His hands. How could I do less?

Are you standing on the edge of some decision, in danger of relapsing and falling back into the sea of forgetfulness? Are you going to let those chains of yesterday surround you again and take away your peace and rest? Do not take that step! Stop! Turn around now and run to the Truth of God’s Word. Forgive, and let Him guard your heart and mind. It may be difficult, but I believe in you. More importantly, God believes in you, too. Let us choose to live in freedom today. Come with me now. I need your help.

I Am New – But I’m Still Fighting The Battle To Be Free

Last week I shared with you about my victory when I was made new by God after I missed an important trip with my husband because I felt unlovable. God gave me the promises of being new, cherished, loved, acceptable, and worthy. I wanted and needed to cling to those promises as I dealt with a new phase in my healing process, but the enemy would not give me up so easily.

The next day—and I mean the very next day after my spiritual high—I started feeling bad again. The enemy reminded me of all the other times that I had ruined trips or other opportunities to spend time with my husband. The battle raged all day, but I kept reminding myself of those three fundamental truths that I had written over and over again in my journal: I am fearfully and wonderfully made, I am complete in Christ, and I will one day be perfected as His good work. At the end of that day, I went to bed exhausted, and that was when the enemy came at me again in a different way.

That night I had nightmares. I rarely remember my dreams, except for the bad ones, and before that night I had not recalled a dream in a long time. But that night was different. Even now I have vivid, disturbing memories of those nightmares. I dreamed of being raped and then not believed, I dreamed of being chased by people who were out to get me, I dreamed that others were trying to hurt me. Suddenly I was thrashing about in dark, murky waters, struggling to keep my head above water. It was horrible.

My past, that I had repressed and denied for so long, wanted to come forth and condemn me. The enemy wanted me to believe that I still deserved to suffer, even though God have given me His promises, and that I would never be a whole person again. He wanted me to believe that I would never be able to enjoy traveling with my husband. Once more, I asked God for a verse, for reassurance from His Word to help me combat this new attack. And it came from Romans 8:1-2, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death” (NAS).

Do you see that? “There is therefore now no condemnation.” Even when my dreams were trying to defeat me and cause me to lose hope, Christ Jesus is bigger than that assault. He can set me free from eternal death. Surely He can also set me free from what was done to me in the past. Surely He can do that. Yes, He can. And I am going to choose to believe it today. I know that I still have a journey filled with battles ahead of me, but I choose to believe that I can overcome those obstacles, too.

Has the enemy been trying to convince you that you are no good? Does he remind you of your mistakes and hurts from the past to try to build his case against you? Well, good news! There is no condemnation against you if you are in Christ Jesus. The enemy may try to attack you in your dreams as he tried to attack me, but we are not going to allow him to win even there. He is not going to win this battle because we are free, free in Christ, and we are going to walk with hope. It is hard, but it can be done. Believe, and be free.

Blessings – Lisa


I Am New

In Christ alone we can all be made new. For some of us, the transformation seems to come so easily. But for others of us, God uses hurtful, heart-wrenching times of struggle to speak to our lives. I find myself in the second category. I have believed and loved God’s Word since I was a child, but some of the concepts and promises of the Bible were just words on paper to me. I believed them, but they weren’t ingrained in my heart yet.

Oh, how much God loves us and works in our lives to bring us closer to him. Once, I had a chance to go on a trip to a city that I had never visited before—Chicago. This was a trip that I could have gone on with my dear, sweet husband. It would have been a great time, but I chose not to go. I chose not to go because I felt unlovable. You see, my sexual abuse not only affected how I felt about myself, but it was also affecting my relationship with my husband. I had shut down emotionally. I did not want to feel this way, but my emotional withdrawal had such a devastating stronghold on my life.

So I stayed home, and he went alone on this trip to a new and exciting place. I was home alone because I hated myself. I started feeling trapped and cheated. In fact, I started hating myself even more. My journal became filled with entries of how much I hated myself. I detested the way I felt, but I couldn’t find any relief or an answer. One of my journal entries ended with the passage, “I hate being defective.” You see, that is how I felt about myself. I was defective, I was not whole, I was not normal, I would never be free again, I was trapped. How those thoughts plagued me over and over.

I wept and wept. I called my husband and begged for forgiveness, and I wept some more. The pain just would not leave me. Later that night, lying on the couch alone, in the stillness and quiet of my empty house, I begged God for a word. Once again, God spoke to me and encouraged me. How thankful I am for His Patience and Love for me! As before, He used a song to speak to me. In his song “I Am New,” Jason Gray writes about living in the “shadows of shame” and not believing that there is a possibility of ever being able to change. That is exactly how I felt, as if this shamefulness was going to be my companion forever. Then in the lyrics I discovered a very important word: the word BUT. But God does not see me as I see myself!

Oh, what joy to know that God does not see me the way that I see myself. God sees me in a different way because He sees me as a new creation in Christ, accepted by Him even when I can not accept myself.  One day I am going to be totally made brand new. But in reality I don’t have to wait. I can claim all of those promises now. Oh, how I needed to know that. How I desperately needed to claim all those promises in my heart, and to rest in that assurance. Thank you again, God, for reminding me of who I am in you.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (NIV). Are you feeling defective? Do you feel as if the ick inside of you will never completely leave you? Do you ever just hate who you are? Have you ever sabotaged your life because you felt unloved? Here are the promises I have for you: You are forgiven, you are Beloved, you are made in the Image of Christ Himself, you are Righteous and Holy, you are Reborn and Remade, you are Accepted and Worthy, and you are all of those things NOW. Let’s ingrain those truths in our hearts today. And let’s remember how God sees us when He looks at us—new, loved, and remade.

Blessings – Lisa

Get Rid of Bitterness

Last week I wrote about God’s taking away from a believer so that He can replace old things with new things. In counseling, I discovered that the idea of taking away old ways of thinking and responding is huge for anyone who is searching for freedom. On of the things in my life that I had to overcome and take away was the enormous number of negative thoughts that constantly filled my brain. My counselor encouraged me to write down those negative thoughts and then to deal with them one by one.

I found that my thoughts were bitter, angry, fearful, and condemning. Only through God’s grace was I able to start taking these thoughts away from my life. In particular, I had bitter feelings toward some people who were very close to me, and those bitter feelings began to hurt my life. At one time, I actually wanted those people to hurt, to feel pain, not to have good things in their lives, and for bad things to happen to them. I was so far from what God commands us to be toward others.

Hebrews 12:14-15 puts it this way: “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled” (NAS). As I read my journal, I realized how bitterness was beginning to dominate my life. I did not want the best for these individuals; instead, I wanted them to be in pain just as I was in pain. I knew that eventually, if I continued down this path, I would start acting out that bitterness and defile others, as Hebrews says.

So, as God began to take away my bitterness toward certain people, what did He give me instead? For one person, God gave me compassion and love. I had to believe that God loves this person more than I ever could and that He can take care of her. It was very hard, but I prayed daily for the strength to love that person as I should.

For another person, God gave forgiveness. I had to forgive the hurt that this person had inflicted upon my family. I wrote a letter of forgiveness and dated it so that Satan could no longer taunt me. The letter was not meant to be sent, but it was meant for me to release that person.

For another, God helped me set some boundaries. Because I had been abused as a child, I had often allowed people to run over me and dominate me. I had no power to make my own decisions, no real control over my own life. But, with God’s help, I began to set boundaries so that I could find freedom as a whole person.

Looking back, I can now see how God’s taking away changed my own inner life. I now have more love and compassion. I am able to forgive, and to set those boundaries that I need to function. If I had not gone through this horrible time in my life–the time of all God’s taking-aways–I would not have grown in these areas. I would have only continued in my bitterness and ruined my life as well as the lives of those around me.

My questions for you are these: Are you holding bitterness in your life? Are you bitter toward God for the life He has handed you? Are there people in your life who have harmed you, for whom you only want bad things? What about your abuser? Can you let go of your bitterness toward that person? Please allow God to help you with your bitterness. Working on the issue of bitterness is hard, but here is a promise for you to hold on to. “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness; (2 Corinthians 12:9a, NAS).

God’s grace is sufficient as you let go of the bitterness you are holding in your heart. It will not be an easy taking-away, but it is a matter of choice. I have been so weak but God promised that, if I cry out to Him in this weakness, He will honor my plea and help me. So, give it up! Give up your bitterness, for, instead, there are love and compassion, forgiveness and freedom. Do not delay. Do it now. Get on your knees, give it up, and do it today.

Blessings – Lisa


Life on the Other Side

My life took a new direction when my anger and other negative emotions began to come out into the open. I began having a hard time dealing with everyday activities. I cried a lot and had trouble making decisions. New phobias appeared, to take the place of the ones God had removed from my life. I started retreating from life. I gave up most activities and resigned from my positions at church. But I turned to my counselor, and she gave me permission to give myself some space.

Other traumas were happening in my life at the same time, and the combination of them all was just too much for me to handle. I’m not saying that going to counseling means locking yourself up in your house, but everyone has her own path to walk for healing. For me personally, I had to step down from some leadership positions because I was not capable of performing them at that time. People at church started noticing that I was different, even though I thought I looked and acted the same as always. People could tell. Thankfully, my “safe” friends loved and encouraged me through it all without having to know what was going on. I needed this time apart to heal and to learn the truth so God could transform my life.

Different books and devotions ministered to me mightily during this dark time. One devotion in particular centered on a time of taking away. That is, God takes something away for a time so that He can give something new instead. In my own life, my daughter was growing away from me, my husband had a new job in another city, and my job had been taken away from me. We were putting our house on the market because we were going to move away from our loved and cherished town and I was removing myself from the jobs at church that I had treasured for so long. Wow. That was a lot of taking-aways. No wonder I could not function: I was on overload.

Where is this leading, Oh God? I cannot see what You are trying to do in my life. Please show me!

Then God gave me a book that painted a great picture for me. That book is Malchus by W. G. Griffiths. Through it, God revealed the hopelessness of the onlookers at the crucifixion, the despair they felt because at that time they did not know the TRUTH. They did not know that they were being set free. They saw one side of the cross, and they thought that that was the end of it. They could not even imagine what was on the other side.

All of my takings-aways had brought me great despair, but the truth was that God was using all of those things to change my heart. He was using those things to heal me. In John 10:10 Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal, and kill and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly” (NAS). God did not kill, steal, or destroy any of those things that He took away from me. He was taking away so that He could replace all those things, fill my life so that I could live more abundantly. I had been just like those who looked at the cross and saw only hopelessness and despair. But, Oh, how their lives were changed when they learned the TRUTH. On the other side of the cross came the resurrection and new life–a more abundant and free life.

Has God taken something away from you, and you are spiraling down in despair? Do you see only hopelessness and agony? Are you having trouble just going through the motions of life because it is filled with so much pain? I am here to tell you this: There is a more abundant life awaiting you on the other side of this painful time. Jesus Christ gave His life for you because He wants you to have a free, victorious, and abundant life. Let God have His way as He takes away and gives. Believe the TRUTH. Believe that you can be whole. Believe that one day life will be good and you will be able to smile again. There is life on the other side. And it is good. I am believing it.

Blessings – Lisa

Happy Thoughts and a Great Reward

Today I awoke feeling as if I should write about happy thoughts. But somewhere along the way I got busy, busy, busy trying to get ready for a trip. I’ve been too distracted to focus on any one thing and haven’t gotten anything accomplished. Finally God spoke to my heart and said, “Enough is enough. I want you to stop now and write. You will be ready for your trip when the time comes, but I want you to write this now.”

So, here I am, sitting and waiting to hear from God what He wants me to write. Happy thoughts? I ask myself to recall some of the good things that have happened during this journey from depression into freedom. And, as I look out the door this morning, I see one of the gifts that God has brought me. He brought two cats into my life. They literally just showed up out of nowhere. You may not think that there’s anything extraordinary about that, but they have become very special to me.

All of my life I have been highly allergic to cats. If I were in the same room with one I would have an attack of some sort and then have to leave the premises. But God, in His infinite wisdom, brought me two cats that live outside. I pet them and hold them, but I have never had an allergy attack. They have brought such comfort to me, especially during the days when everyone in my family would be gone and I felt so alone. The cats never cared if I cried; they just sat in my lap and purred. My husband and daughter thought I had gone loony when the cats showed up, but I know that God brought them to me. I cannot imagine life without them now.

Another happy thought that God has brought back into my mind has to do with music. Looking at my journal, I am reminded of all the times that God gave me just the right song at just the right time on just the right occasion. One song in particular would come on the radio for me to hear on some of my darkest days. Once, when I really needed encouragement, I heard that song twice in just a few hours, on two different radio stations. My amazing God orchestrated that for me.

At certain points in my life, a few particular songs held bad associations for me, reminders of a very hurtful time that caused deep pain that I feared would never be resolved. But the happiest thought I have today is how God has taken away my hatred for those songs. There was a time when just hearing those songs made me angry and I would have to turn off the radio, but now I am able to appreciate them again.

My intense hatred for those songs and the anger they stirred inside me had really surprised me. But the Enemy can use anything to cause hurt and pain and agony. (There are other noises that still bother me today, noises that I associate with my molestation. I have learned that certain smells, colors, or images can trigger memories and bring on a violent reaction.) But with God’s help, there has been forgiveness and resolution of that hurtful situation, and that relationship has been transformed and made new. So today, as I rushed around trying to pack for my trip and get the house in order, I heard one of the songs that had had such a negative connotation for me. I stopped in my tracks. When I heard that song, I was amazed. I no longer felt the pain and the agony, but was able to enjoy that song once again.

Oh, what a happy thought! What a joy! It was as if God were saying to me, “Yes, this difficult situation has had healing and, yes, you can have a song in your heart once more.” Isn’t that a wondrous thing?

Is there something in your life that the Enemy is using to cause you grief and agony? Let me share Hebrews 10:35-36 with you today: “Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised” (NAS). You see I had to endure and work through my situation. Don’t throw away the confidence concerning your own situation.

Do the will of God, work hard, and believe that God can take any noise, any color, any smell, or any song and turn it into a happy thought. His Word calls it a great reward, a promise from God Himself. He wants you to sing a song in your heart and be free from hurting, pain, and agony. Sit with me now, and let’s think about the happy things that God has brought into our lives. Be still. Listen. He wants to whisper those happy thoughts to you right now.

Blessings – Lisa