Loyalty and Faithfulness Are Not The Same

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train[a] of his robe filled the temple. Isaiah 6:1

 

(More on this later).

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God Did His Best Work When He Created You and I

Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous.” Joshua 10:25

 

Have you ever thought that when God created you and I, He was doing His best work? Its true. And hopefully you believe that and will show others you’re one of His masterpieces. That’s what my goal is each and every day I awake to a new day in my life.

Like me, maybe you’ve also picked up negative messages about yourself during your childhood years.  If so, then you, like I have emotionally engulfed that negativity into our psyche, and then it became a part of our own self-belief.

Well, those that spoke those messages are also flawed humans just like the rest of us. My dad constantly criticized me all through my childhood and into my adult years. But that’s how he always spoke to all five of his children. I love him, but I’ve learned over the years to take being in his presence in small doses.

I was criticized by both my parents during my childhood. Which might be the root cause of the dysthimic depression I’ve had most of my adult life. Looking back I can say that it’s been a journey of going through some dark valleys of depression.

I didn’t know what kind of depression I had, but I did know that it “clouded” my thinking. So, in my early twenties I started making changes in my life that were for my good. Prior to that I had been heading in a downward spiral since my teens.

A lot of that changed though, when I set my mind on improving my life about the time I turned twenty-three. I got new friends, for one thing. I, also had my Christian “born again” experience then, and grew in my spiritual walk. Within a year, I joined the USAF, and met my husband, Jeff at my first Airbase assignment.

But, the depression I’ve experienced didn’t just magically go away then, or any other time. First, I had to recognize my own symptoms and then, for far too long, I just learned to live with it. What has helped me is the counseling I’ve received.

God has never created anyone who was, is, or will be less than His best creation. I know that to be true. And I hope you will believe that also. I have always believed it to be true about my children, grandchildren, my husband Jeff, and myself. This doesn’t make us perfect, by any means though.

Even blatantly evil people, didn’t start out being evil, they became that way through their conscious and sub-conscious decisions about themselves.

The  question we need to ask ourselves is, “Are you or I living up to all that God has made us to be?” You may not feel that you are doing that right now. You are the one who can change it though.

Depression has rob me of my joy for life more times than I want to think about. When I did try counseling, it seemed the counselor could never pinpoint what was wrong with me. Finding the right counselor has been a journey in itself.

But, even without having a therapist, I have always found the strength I needed for each day by reading and meditating on God’s word. By doing that I finally pulled out of those “valleys of the shadow.” (Psalms 23:4).

You have potential in you that you’ve yet to reach the limit of. Life itself is constantly evolving. We’re not even aware of what half of our future goals and accomplishments are going to be.

Life will have its disappointments, to be sure. But that might be an opportunity for you to change your life’s path. Be flexible with your goals. Strengthen your resolve to be a better decision maker next time around.

Believe in yourself and make decisions that will put you on a positive track for your life. Don’t follow the group. And don’t be manipulated by a charismatic personality that just wants you around to feed their own insecure ego.

Read about great leaders. Let quality people mentor you through their writings or their life’s story written by someone else. When Dwight Eisenhower was a teenager growing up in Abilene, Kansas he began setting goals for himself to reach. He was preparing himself for stepping into leadership roles that were in his unseen future.

Later he became a young officer during WWI. Even then he was put in charge of things usually reserved for older officers. During WWII General Eisenhower was placed in charge of all Allied troop movement in Europe.

Then, after winning WWII, he became our 34th President. He was ready for each advancement because of his teenage preparation for accepting responsibility. Way before he became President Eisenhower, he knew that he first had to be the leader in his own life.

You and I are the leader of our lives. And each of us are preparing for our future, as well. Each of us is writing our own life’s story one day at a time. There are times when life seems to be overwhelming for any of us. No one’s the exception when it comes to life’s problems. You need to prepare for those times today.

What do we do when we’re overwhelmed with problems? Everyone will have different ideas on this, so I’ll just tell you what I do.

First, I reason with myself that there is a solution to this problem. I include my husband Jeff in the decision making. Maybe I’ll ask a few trusted friends what they would do. I try not to make a “knee jerk” impulse decision about anything.

In decision making or even giving a verbal response, I avoid using those quick responses that come from our amygdala region. This is where our “fight or flight” quick thinking comes from. But, it’s also where a lot of impulsive hateful comments come from.  Or choosing to “flight” rather than solve the situation.

Having a quick response does sometime pay off, though. An example of this is when I was breaking up a small mound of dirt in my yard a few years ago in early Spring. Little did I know that over the winter a copperhead snake had hibernated in that mound. I was fortunate enough to see the tail end of that unmistakable pattern of a venomous snake slither around as the cold air entered its hideaway.

Well, I could’ve, and might should’ve killed it easily enough with my shovel, but I decided since it hadn’t seen me, I ran to the back deck that was close by. “Let it slither off to somewhere else,” I reasoned. I decided in an instant that it was not my “fight moment,” but my “flight moment.” Now, I never saw it or any other snake in my yard since then.

My mother would’ve killed it, though. She grew up on a farm during the Great Depression. She and her siblings were trained to kill a snake whether it was in the garden or the yard. They always had a hoe handy.

My childhood was different than my mother’s even though we were both raised in the country. When my oldest brother, Gene saw a poisonous snake in our yard he killed it. So, I never got around to honing my snake killing skills like my mother and her siblings had to.

There are going to be times where you’ll have to choose between equally good decisions. Your ideas will be based upon who you are at your core personality. I did take a risk in not killing the snake. Because once they’re in the yard then they usually come back to that place. But I knew Jeff would mow over it soon enough, anyway.

Sometimes a decision is made based on what seems best to you. It’s nether all that bad or all that great. Either way it’s not going to be earth-shattering. So just go with what seems best in your own reasoning.

I want to make clear that one bad decision doesn’t mean a lifetime of bad decisions. That is if you recognize why you made the bad decision, in the first place. An example of this happened a summer ago to me. I was pulling up to a stop light here in my hometown of Sylva, NC. It’s still a small town, even though it’s grown a bit since my childhood years of growing up near here.

So, the light had just changed to green and I had a few cars in front of me. I was patiently waiting for them all to move forward when a young woman plowed into the back of my SUV with her tiny car. When I looked at it I was amazed that she didn’t go under my Explorer.

Well, I got out to survey the damage and realized she was doing her best to back up and drive off. Hmm, I wondered, “How far she was going to get with the engine ‘sitting in her lap?’” Needless to say she didn’t get far, maybe a few feet at the most.

So, I called 911 and the police officer that showed up also happens to be my neighbor. We talked a bit privately, then he told me to drive my SUV on home.

Well, that’s when I called Jeff and gave him the “skinny” of it all and asked him to come to where this accident had happened. I didn’t want to drive our Explorer home. So, when he got there, we exchanged vehicles and I drove our Focus home.

Right after the accident, before my neighbor arrived on the scene, I walked over to the other car, (I know, I’m a trusting individual). I was on the phone, so I asked the two women who were still in their tiny car if they needed medical help.

That’s when I observed the obvious. Both the driver and the passenger were intoxicated on drugs, and unable to make clear sense of what just happened. So, I instinctively stepped back and waited for the officer.

Long story short, the local dealership fixed my Explorer perfectly, even though it did take three months to complete it. The body shop manager told me that my tow hitch helped to slow them down some. (And may have saved their lives). Now, we keep the traditional ball hitch in the slot as a precaution.

So, what about the young woman that was driving the tiny car? I found out through my connections that she has had addiction problems in her past. And things weren’t getting better for her.

In my church on Sunday mornings we pass clip boards that have sheets of lined paper on them down each section for people to write their prayer request, or just to add their name, and leave the line blank. These requests are prayed for by our prayer team on another day.

On the Sunday morning after the accident I wrote this young woman’s first name on the prayer list. And I have also prayed for her myself that the unseen chains that have enslaved her are broken. She, like all the rest of us have an amazing life ahead of us. And we just need to get out there and live it.

When you have a tough problem to solve just go to your knees in prayer for answers. And you might not be the only one who is praying for you. When you pray, you will receive an answer just like I’ve received answers to my prayers.

Please consider donating

Dear Friend:

Please consider donating to my Go Fund Me page. My desire is to launch out into doing some public speaking engagements about depression. I also am going to be posting some podcasts and Youtube videos on this subject.

I specifically want to talk about how to recognize the symptoms of depression, stop masking it with unwise choices, and to manage it through productive treatment  programs, such as the one I’ve been in for the last three years.

Can depression ever be overcome? I believe so if we devote ourselves to be seekers of  the truth.

Thanks so much for any help you can send me. If I can’t be there then I would love to Skype with your group and present my ideas. My Go Fund me link is: https://www.gofundme.com/f/public-speaking-on-how-to-overcome-depression

Sincerely

Patricia “Trish” Jordan

 

 

Naomi, From Depression to Joy

Naomi is introduced to us in the first chapter of the Book of Ruth. In the story she suffered from depression, just like we still do today. She even changed her name to “Mara” (which means bitter, or feelings of grief) to reflect her dark mood (1: 20).

Peoples’ emotions haven’t changed all that much since Naomi’s time. That’s because depression has no time boundaries, no race preferences, no cultural favoritism. And no social-economic bias. Depression just is no matter the background or the era.

Depression is often overlooked by family members, sometimes misdiagnosed by professionals. And the result of either one is disappointing, to say the least.

Naomi’s depression happened because she had lost all her family members over a span of ten years. She had a right to go through deep sorrow. I don’t know how long her dark mood lasted but seems like it lingered for a while.

I relate to Naomi not because of her loss, but because of her depression. I’ve been in and out of different types of therapy for depression for years, with only minimal results. So, I know what I’m talking about when I say, “less than desired results.” Oh, I would feel good for a while after a few sessions of counseling but, like all feelings, it just didn’t last very long.

Something for me had to change. And, thank God it did. Over the last three years I’ve been going to a therapist that’s taken in my life’s “full picture.” And it helped that I felt I could connect with her from the beginning.

The type of counseling she uses is Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). Sometimes this is called “talk therapy,” and it has given me a huge amount of relief. I feel as normal and happy with life as is humanly possible. I wake up each morning with an eagerness to live a fresh new day in my life. Since I started this type of therapy, I’m managing depression much better now.

I want the same healing for you if you are suffering with depression. Or if not you, then someone you know. There are different kinds of depression, but there are also different types of therapy. If CBT hasn’t worked for you, then find another type that will work better for you.

None of us have endless amounts of time to straighten things out. Our lives are running ahead of us, and often at lightning speed. Don’t let depression be your life’s story. We all are more valuable than that.

Naomi did experience an emotional healing in time. Even to this day, she points the way for us on how to overcome depression. But how did she experience this healing?

I hope this brief look into how she overcame depression will be as helpful to you as it has been for me, even though I have dysthymic (chronic) depression.

I want to encourage you to read the Book of Ruth. It’s found in the Old Testament and is only four chapters long. But, don’t let its brevity fool you into thinking there’s not much teaching in it. Like all the Bible, it has multi-layered messages written all through it, and is forever fresh and relevant for us today.

In this story, Naomi is a background personality. She was the older woman who connected Ruth to her new husband Boaz. Their great-grandson became King David and ruled over Israel. But who was Naomi outside of her pivotal role of being a Jewish matchmaker? And how was she healed of depression?

Her story is enveloped between the larger story of Ruth meeting Boaz and then marrying him. But before that took place, we’re introduced to Naomi and her family. Elimelech was her husband, and her two sons were Mahlon, and Chilion. They lived in the Jewish town of Bethlehem. But when that area had a drought, they moved to a country across the Dead Sea called Moab. Today it’s called Jordan.

Now the Moabites spoke a different language, practiced a different religion, and had a different culture. But this young Jewish family even in spite of all of that, had high hopes of doing well in Moab. I assume they moved there to farm, since it was a lush, green country known as a “place of many oasis.”

Not long after moving there Elimelech dies. Naomi and her two sons decide to stay on and continue farming. Well, Mahlon and Chilion grow up and marry two Moabite women. One is Ruth and the other Orpah. Ruth, of course, is the center focus in this eloquent story.

Then, ten years later both sons pass away. No children are mentioned being born to either couple during that ten years. So, now we see Naomi living in a foreign country with two young women she’s no longer related to. This is where we see Naomi’s personality come to the forefront. It’s also where we see her depression sit in.

I believe her depression moved over her from day to day, like surging waves that crash on the beach. That’s like the depression I’ve experienced. And perhaps you, as well.

After her sons’ passing Naomi decides to sell the farm and move back to Bethlehem. I believe being separated from her extended Jewish family increased her depression. She knew she would feel better being back around them. Once her mind was made up, she saw no need in putting off this difficult trip.

It’s clear to me that Naomi held on to her faith and missed her worship services in Bethlehem. That’s where she worshiped God with other Jewish believers. This also, helped to restore joy in her life.

Being active in my church has helped me. I’ve met many other Christian women there that I’ve emotionally and prayerfully supported like they have me. Fellowship, and Bible study are a part of my mental wellness plan.

Just like Naomi, people down through the ages have had or will have depression. I want to encourage you to not let depression go untreated. There are effective cures being used to treat this form of mental illness.

I see Naomi as a realist, and a pragmatist. She saw life as it is, not how she wished it to be. Once she planned to do something then she became resolute in carrying it out. That helped her in solving difficult problems, which then helped her in overcoming depression.

Now Orpah and Ruth wanted to travel with Naomi to Bethlehem. In preparation, each woman would’ve made sure they had some fresh water stored in a dried animal skin, several loaves of unleavened baked bread, and roasted grain for their evening meal. They also had cakes of figs and clusters of raisins for stamina and quick energy while they were traveling. This would’ve been their common “travel food.”

So, after gathering up their small bundles the three women start out on this arduous journey together. But they hadn’t gone far when Naomi takes the leadership role and told the two young women to go back to their mothers’ homes (1:8,9).

Like Naomi, you’re not going to get better unless you show leadership in your own life. If you’re unsure of which direction to go in, then seek some guidance from someone that you trust.

Avoid taking negative advice from someone who demeans you. And don’t take advice from someone who won’t meet even their own expectations or potential.

Naomi only wanted the best for these two young women and didn’t want them to take unnecessary risks. But she was a woman with a strong will. And not afraid to take a calculated risk.

Naomi had been the glue that held her family together. She had mentored and cared for all of them. That’s why the two women wanted to go with her. She had taught them all about the Jewish faith during their time in Moab. How do I know that? At the time of their departure Ruth told Naomi that she wanted to follow “your God.”

Now when Naomi said her goodbyes to these two younger women something significant took place at that dusty crossroads. Let’s find out exactly what happened.

A Brief Look At Orpah

There they were, three women standing at the crossroads of not only their physical direction, but also their life’s direction. And it didn’t take long for Orpah to change her mind.

It did seem logical for her to go visit her family. But, in truth she longed for the lifestyle she had before she married. She was tied to her past. The past in in the past and none of us can change it, nor relive it.

Orpah, looked too closely at the problem instead of looking at the big-picture solution. Because of this she bought more problems on herself than had she gone with Naomi.

Orpah may sound like someone we might know. Or one of us. We get started on the right track, but things just don’t seem to last beyond a few months or so. We lose our focus then our ambition slowly ebbs away. Then, we begin a new set of “self-improvement” plans. I want to encourage you to stop the “yo yo cycle” of self-improvements. Like I’ve said, I’ve been there, done that. There is a better way.

I’m only surmising about Orpah’s life, but I believe she “pushed the easy button” many times in solving her life’s problems. She seems to have lacked problem-solving skills that would’ve brought some order to her life. That makes her no different than many of us.

A Brief Look At Ruth

Ruth would not be swayed from leaving Naomi’s side. Instead she spoke these immortal words to Naomi:

“But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried.” 1: 16,17 (ESV)

We learn about Naomi by looking at Ruth. Why would this young woman even consider taking this dangerous journey? They could’ve died of thirst and/ or starvation during their journey. And how long would it take them to walk or ride in a caravan approximately a hundred miles?

Naomi and Ruth obviously, had a strong loyal bond of friendship between them. And Ruth was the type to think through her decisions before making them. Doing this kept her from being indecisive.

While they were under Naomi’s teachings in Moab, Ruth became a Jewish convert. But, apparently hadn’t made it known until the start of their journey. That’s when she made a public profession of faith to Naomi.

Naomi must’ve had a nurturing personality to have had Ruth so drawn to her. The two of them spent quality time together even before their trip. Ruth severed all connections to her past. Doing that helped her to plan a brighter future for herself.

When they got settled in Bethlehem, Naomi didn’t go out into the fields. I think Ruth told her to rest in their home, while she went out in the hot sun to gather barley.

Well, Ruth happened to gather barley in the field of a man related to Elimelech. The owner was named Boaz. And he observed how this young foreign woman took care of the older Jewish woman that lived with her, which impressed him. He started asking others who she was. (2:11).

Naomi

I believe Naomi stayed in Moab because she got caught up in the routine of busyness. Busyness can consume our time, but it’s not very fulfilling. Busyness always leave us feeling empty and wondering if life has more meaning then just the routine.

In the middle of her busyness, Naomi got blind-sighted by events she didn’t expect to happen. At first her husband then her sons passed away. She could’ve let her grief rob her of any joy she might’ve had in the future. But she didn’t.

Moving back to Bethlehem helped Naomi find joy again. Her relatives still remembered her as having been a joyful person in her younger years.

I relate with Naomi on moving back to a place she called home. I experienced joy when Jeff and I moved back to Western North Carolina where I’m from. I had left my hometown of Sylva, some thirty years before, being a single young woman. A few years later I joined the Air Force, and met my future husband, Jeff.

We both were stationed at the same air base in Germany and married there. When my enlistment was up, I received an Honorable Discharge. We had our first child by then, and I wanted to stay home with her. He reenlisted, though and made USAF his career. Along the way we added two more precious daughters to our family.

Thirteen years later we moved to Shaw AFB, SC. We had been out of the country for six straight years. Three of those were spent in Turkey where I drove very little and never off base.

So, I was glad to be back in America and drive anywhere I needed or wanted to go. But not long after settling there, I began longing for us to move back to my hometown of Sylva, NC. I still had extended family living in the area and missed the mountains. Jeff’s from Monroe, Georgia. Moving there never interested me.

Well, Jeff only had a few more years to finish his career when we moved to SC. However, we ended up staying thirteen years in Sumter. Our girls finished school there, and I finished my credits and graduated nearby Coker College during some of that time. Then, we just got busy with life. Finally, after our girls left the house, we began making plans to move up to the Sylva, NC area. I relate with Naomi on so many levels.

Naomi’s joy also came back because she changed her focus from herself to others. Her problems became smaller by her doing that.

Ruth had become like a daughter to her by this time. It was in taking the older woman’s advice that Ruth was able to capture Boaz’s attention and his heart.

Boaz and Ruth married and had a son named Obed, who had a son named Jesse. He had a son named David who became King over Israel.

In moving back Naomi became involved with life in her village. The women socialized with each other during their daily chores. This is where she began bringing joy back, not only in her life, but in others as well. She understood that life is bigger than her own personal problems.

She had set a goal of moving back home. After that her goal was for Ruth to meet Boaz. Naomi kept setting goals for herself and became involved with life again. And she let the rest take care of itself. And it did.

In the end, Naomi had a complete emotional healing. She was happy and contented. This can happen in your life as well if you seek God’s will for your life. Don’t expect everything to work out as you’ve planned it, though. God’s plans are higher than ours.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

How Do You Vent Your Anger?

“‘And Job again took up his discourse, and said:

“As God lives, who has taken away my right,
    and the Almighty, who has made my soul bitter,
as long as my breath is in me,
    and the spirit of God is in my nostrils,

my lips will not speak falsehood,
    and my tongue will not utter deceit.
Far be it from me to say that you are right;
    till I die I will not put away my integrity from me.
I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go;
    my heart does not reproach me for any of my days.'” Job 27:1-6 (ESV)

Get Involved in Something Bigger Than Yourself

Do the holidays increase your level of depression? If so, then take the advice of therapists, that tell us to get involved with activities that make us feel positive about life. For me that would include being involved with activities my church sponsors that interest me.

One church connected activity I’ve enjoyed being involved with for the last three years is a community outreach Christmas Dinner that’s held at my church. I’ve “jumped in” and gotten involved in whatever way I can with this “open door” invite at Webster Baptist Church, Webster, NC.

This community Christmas Day Dinner was started more than 10 years ago by the DeRico family. That would’ve been when Ken and Katrina DeRico’s two young adult children would’ve been quite young.

At that time they were just getting settled into living in the Smokey Mountains. They were new Floridan transplants that found themselves eating a big Christmas dinner by themselves away from their extended families.

That experience made them realize that the holidays can be a time of being away from family as well as having to choose which family to be with. And not everyone has family to spend the holidays with.

Within a year or two the DeRicos found and joined WBC after moving up here. Noticing our church has a well equipped kitchen, an idea began to form in Ken’s mind, “Why not cook a community wide Christmas Dinner at the fellowship building and visit with whoever shows up.” After all they are both great cooks so within a few years of them being up here they did just that.

I’m not sure Katrina said “Sure lets do it,” right off, but she found herself tripling her dressing recipe and wondering how many hams and turkeys they would need to buy for their first “Open Door Christmas Dinner.” After all, they found most people here had deep family roots and probably celebrated Christmas with their extended families.

And, pray tell, how would they pay for it all?

Nevertheless, they were on a self directed mission “to visit orphans and widows in their affliction,” James 1:27 (ESV).

Now, leap forward ten plus years and below are some stats that their daughter Caitlin put up on her Facebook page. This is not to glorify them or any of the other sixty-plus volunteers that helped out for two prep days and also helped serve on Christmas Day.
Caitlin DeRico Snodgrass to Webster Christmas Outreach Dinner

December 26, 2019 at 12:20 PM
We did it!

425 delivery and carryout
60 inmates got cookies
30 Sheriff Deputies
4 Sylva PD
10 EMS
4 911 dispatch
20 Qualla FD station
30 Balsam Center
75 Hermitage Nursing Home received essentials stockings
50 Mountain Trace NH received essentials stockings
35 Skyland Care Center received essentials stockings & 2 personal gifts for 2 residents
At least 50 dined in.

“Thank you to ALL who made this possible!!! What a touching year and God continuing to show up and how!!!”

By now, Caitlin is the main organizer and scheduler. The bulk of us just show up on the days she posts for volunteers.

Now how did it all come together for them? Of course I don’t know the tiny details. But, I do know that they start in November cooking their kettle corn in WBC parking lot for donations. Behind the scene one of them is going to all the grocery stores in town asking for donated food, which includes hams and turkeys.

They don’t ask for donations at the Christmas Dinner. All of that has been taken care of by then. There’s actually a flow of order to it all and coming together at the right times. Nothing is overcooked and there is always plenty of it.

Of course, the dinner prep comes with a lot of anticipation and excitement every year. Excitement in the air builds among the volunteers. And, everyone is excited about participating in it in someway.

Just being there raises my endorphins. Jumping in and helping out keeps me feeling that excitement for days later. One year we had Santa show up with his eight tiny reindeer! Okay, the reindeer were really his pickup truck but no one was disappointed with his visit.

I’ve gotten to meet so many great Christians in my church by just participating in various church connected events like this annual event. Friendships with a lot of different people have opened up for me. This year my husband Jeff got involved with the Christmas Dinner and helped me take meals out to shut-ins.

I want to encourage you to get involved with volunteering or being involved someway with a need that’s bigger than your holiday blues. You’ll have great memories, make new friends, meet people who need you to just listen to them for a minute or two. You will become more involved in a world of happiness that’s bigger than your blues.

Living in the Gap of Expectations

  •  “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 ESV

How is living in the gap of expectations working out for you? Well, “what is the gap of expectations” you ask?

When you or I set out to accomplish a goal whether short lived or long range, our expectations are to arrive at that goal, right?

What if the goal is not the end result, though, despite your own best efforts? And, needless to say that others are going to disappoint us also. So, in the end, how well do you adjust to disappointment? Do you linger in an emotional “free-fall” going in and out of depression?

Or do you find yourself telling everyone, “I can handle it.” Or, “I’m fine.” If that’s true than good. But, I believe many of us say those cliches without really meaning it. We could be experiencing an emotional free-fall without fully realizing it.

There is a gap of emotional “free-fall” between expectations and the end result when our goals have not been met. Some of us adjust very quickly and re-prioritize our goals. That’s truly fantastic when it happens.  And I’m happy for you if you’re able to do that when you experience a failure, unexpected bad news, or that life just seems hard right now.

I’m, of course, writing to the ones that don’t easily adjust to the disappointing way of how things have turned out. Especially  when this happens, as it’s going to do, throughout parts of our lives. Not all the time, though, thank goodness.

We really don’t know what we can and cannot handle. It’s not just a cliche that we can be our own enemy. It’s true. And because it’s true, I think we end up self-medicating more than what we want to admit to. I’m guilty of that, too. But when disappointment happens we need to be spiritually and emotionally ready.

One thing that’s helped me the most in overcoming disappointments in my life is the Cognitive Behavior Therapy I’ve had over the last two and a half years on a bi-monthly basis.

Me being more fully engaged in my emotional well-being by going to therapy has helped me to see a more clearer perspective of my different life’s challenges. And it has increased my problem solving capabilities. Or put another way, I’ve learned to think “outside the box” of my own “self-thought” and “couple-thought” of my marriage.

Through the years I’ve tried group therapy and “dropping in” therapy; i.e. staying long enough to feel better then not going back.  And, my husband, Jeff and I have gone to marriage counseling, which we needed. I’m glad he willingly went with me. The end result of our couple counseling has been that Jeff was prescribed some anti-anxiety medication, which he still willingly takes. He says he feels better. And, he does communicate with me and now our extended family on a more positive note.

We wouldn’t have been able to figure out his particular issues all on our own. His past issues along with mine kept us “locking horns” over many issues throughout our four decades and counting marriage. The end result was usually anger, bitterness, and frustration.

Jeff is a “late” baby, and a “replacement” baby, born in 1952. His only living sibling was already married before he started school. And the middle sibling closest in age to him was several years older, passing away with a congenital heart disorder in his teens.

Jeff grew up nearly having an “only child” experience. As a result of that he “sub-consciously” expected to be pampered in his adult life, just like his mother had done during his childhood years.

In part, our childhood “shapes” who we turn out to be in our  adult years. The other part being our individual genetics.

Well, I’ll admit to doing my best to pamper him. That is part of a wife’s role in marriage. And, yes there have been times I’ve found doing this to be quite draining and I believe it added to my already low-grade of depression. But, I couldn’t see this situation clearly all on my own, and didn’t know the “why” of it all until we went to counseling.

Jeff’s mother was an angry, controlling person. She had a difficult personality, to say the least. But his dad was the opposite; he was mellow and pleased with all that he had accomplished in his life.

Both of his parents were about ten years older than my parents. Jeff’s mom was a teenager and his dad had just turned twenty when they married during the height of the Great Depression. My parents were married in their early twenty’s after WWII in 1946.

I was born in 1952, also. So he and I are both “baby boomers.” But I had an entirely different upbringing.  My parents were caring, but sometimes harsh throughout their lives. Plus, I’m the youngest of five children all born within a little more than six years. My dad wasn’t big on parenting us kids, leaving that responsibility to my mother.

My mom, worked hard to keep all of us “glued together” with wonderful meals, kept us three girls busy with cleaning the house, and she always kept an “outside the home” job, as well. There was always a lot of responsibility on my mother’s shoulders.

So when Jeff and I married in our mid-twenties we had different expectations of each other’s role in our lives from the beginning. And through the years, we haven’t always met each other’s expectations either.

All of my and our counseling efforts have had many good results, though. Another idea is to read some small portion of the Bible daily. You can go to Bible Gateway and find several plans to help you read through the Bible on a daily basis. I’ve done this for years and years through self-directed Bible studies. By now I don’t feel like my day is complete without reading at least a short devotion.  And pray often throughout your day.

“pray without ceasing,” 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Above all else, don’t let anxiety rule your day and your life. Anxiety is normally the outflow of two root negative emotions: fear and anger. Solve those two emotions through counseling, medication when needed, Bible study, and prayer. Doing this will help you adjust to having a more positive outlook on life in spite of whatever life “throws” at you.

Taking this action will make life more pleasurable to you and those around you.

 

Are There Generational Curses?

“… and I shall seem to be mocking him and bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing.” Genesis 27:12

I’m not sure where we Christians get the idea that curses can be passed down. Recently a relative and I were talking about this subject. My relative said that another relative of ours is under the family curse.

I asked, “What curse is that? Nobody told me that we were under a curse.” I’ve never heard this, so I asked, “Where is this written in the Bible?”

Well, I’ve looked through different versions of the Bible and I still haven’t found this teaching on generational curses. There are generational sins but that’s another subject for another day. But, these two are not the same thing at all.

The whole subject came up because of my maternal grandfather. He was born out-of-wedlock to a teenage mom in 1898. My math tells me she was 15 1/2 yrs old when she gave birth to my grandfather in a rural community here in Western North Carolina. His dad was twenty. I’m not sure whether he was married then or not.

She didn’t keep her newborn boy so he was passed around to various family members. Somewhere in there he took his Dad’s last name. Even though, his dad rejected him and never claimed my grandpa as his son. Well, Grandpa looked strikingly similar to his father’s legitimate son so there you have it. And it was then and still is a rural community. No more than a crossroads with a store and a post office.

Now, this young woman had one more son out-of-wedlock about when she turned 18. With that birth she died. It might’ve been because of her experiencing a difficult delivery or her premature death might’ve been the result of catching influenza (flu).

There was no cure for influenza back then. And, there were “mini” outbreaks of it before the 1918 large scale death of the flu that swept across America because troops were trained in large group settings, and then passed through metro areas on their way to Europe. Many people who got it back then died from it.

So, what happened to my Grandpa to bring this idea of curses about? Even I’m not sure how to answer that one. I knew him and am pretty sure he would reject that idea also. Grandpa always had two things nearby that he read: his Bible and their local paper.

He was a WWI Navy veteran that went to the shores of France. After that he came back to WNC and moved to the largest town near where he grew up, Murphy, NC. There he met my Granny and they married about 1920.  They had four children, two sons and two daughters in that order.

I knew him to be a small frame man that might’ve been as tall as 5’6″ and weighed about 140 lbs. A lightweight to be sure, but he was a hard worker.

Both of my grandparents’ sons, my Uncles J. D. and Jack, were much taller and larger bone than their parents.  My mother, named June and her sister my Aunt Mary Jo, were both small frame women.

My grandpa was well educated for his time. A relative had the foresight to send him to Rome, GA to attend Berry’s School for Boys about 1914. There he learned carpentry and farming. Then, he entered the Navy in 1917.

Both he and my Granny were hard-working, honest, Christian people: “salt of the earth” type of folks. Together they made a strong couple. They farmed most all their lives together, which was about forty years.

Grandpa only spoke when he had something to say. He said what he meant and meant what he said. I think that must be a genetic trait because that was my mother’s style of communication, and pretty much mine, also.

His childhood experiences left him somewhat hard to deal with.  But, he lived his life on two main principles: truth and logic. What is the truth here and what is the outcome going to be? Those two qualities worked well for both my grandparents.

In time, they owned about 15 acres that included a small frame house. He and his sons enlarged the house, built an indoor bathroom, and all the family farmed about a quarter of the land. In my early years they still had a horse trained for pulling a plow, but had a tiller also.

My Grandparents saw both of their sons leave to join the Navy during WWII. Amazingly, both came home being in the same physical shape as when they left.

All their children lived by the practicable values they learned from their parents as well. My mother was a down-to-earth woman who was the major influence on us five children. My dad was more of a “think-outside-the box” idealist. He worked long hours honing his sales approach by selling restaurant equipment. And, all that work paid off for them through the years.

An example of that is about 16 years into my parents marriage my dad convinced my mother to follow one of his impracticable dreams of them becoming entrepreneurs. By both following dad’s dream they became wealthy and experienced their own American Dream.

My parents became successful small business owners and, in time, millionaires! Fortunately, my very practical mother controlled the outflow of the money. And, in part, that’s how they stayed wealthy.

I’ve used these principles for my life’s direction as well. No, I’m not a millionaire. Or at least not in monetary terms that is. But, I am known as being an honest, hard-working, Christian woman.

Over forty years ago, I married Jeff, who also shares these principles. We have three beautiful daughters named Ruth, Rachel, and Esther. And two blood grandchildren, and two step grandchildren.  We love them all very much.

Now, my Grandfather had no control over the circumstances that surrounded his birth. He did not choose his parents. No one does, all our parents are chosen for us. Yes his upbringing was harsh. That experience, I believe, left him short-tempered.

But, grandpa, granny, nor any of their four children, and not their seventeen grandchildren, and so on have ever been under a generational curse. That whole idea just doesn’t exist.

Outside of accepting Christ as your personal Savior than you, and I are or were under the curse of sin. That’s the only curse I’m aware of that affects us humans. That curse can be taken away by asking Jesus to come into your heart to take up residence inside you through the Holy Spirit.

I’m still not sure where this generational curse idea developed. It’s not Biblical. Nor is it even practical.

The above verse I chose for this blog shows that we bring either curses or blessings on ourselves. And that’s what I believe.

 

 

Living A Full Life Includes Serving and Being Served

 

“And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him.” Matthew 8: 14,15

Only in Matthew’s Gospel do we read about this miraculous healing. At first glance, we would think this verse is only about healing.  After all, Jesus did heal many people during his three years of ministry.

But, there’s more to this small verse than what meets the eye. Besides the healing she received, her brief bio shows us how to live a fulfilled life without seeking the spotlight.

This verse says a lot about not only serving but being served as well. It’s about those that don’t need to be the “center of attention,” but are happiest at fulfilling a supportive role.

Her miracle healing is not to be sidelined for anything.  As I mentioned in the above story my friend Jim received a miraculous healing. My dad has survived two near fatal heart attacks.

In my early twenties I experienced a miracle phone call that kept me from dying. Just a little earlier on the day of my phone call I’d an accident while riding my bicycle. Little did I know that I had burst my vulva on impact by hitting my bike frame when I had to come to an abrupt halt. I was crossing a street when a car came out of nowhere and nearly crushed me and my bike.

So while on my way home I began to seep blood. But I was too dazed and in pain to know what to do. This is when I was single and lived alone in a small Southern Georgia town. I was almost home when this happened so I was able to make it to my apartment.

Within a few minutes of getting inside, my sister Carol called me from two hundred miles away because God placed me on her mind at that crucial time. I explained what had happened to her. She, then called my employer. From there he got the hospital to send an ambulance out to my apartment. That miracle phone call saved my life.

Yes, miracles still do happen. No question about that. But, lets look at the “serve and being served” message that’s woven into this verse. It’s not only what she did, but it’s what Jesus did, and what Peter and his wife did also.

Now, unfortunately, we don’t know her name, but countless people are serving in Christ’s name all over the World and only a few are ever known by name.

After her healing she promptly served Jesus. Now, to me this shows her gratefulness of being healed. But, it also shows her exercising her gift of service.

Doing this may have been expected of her. But still, Jesus didn’t heal everyone he walked by, either.  He waited four days to go see about his friend Lazarus who was very ill. By that time Lazarus had died, and been buried. But he experienced a miraculous resurrection when Jesus came to his grave. The whole amazing story is found in John 11:1-44.

Jesus doesn’t always heal. I can’t explain it, I just know that sometimes healing happens and sometimes it doesn’t. What I can say, though is the last year of my brother Gene’s life we all helped him in every way we could. Doing that brought all of us closer together. That’s worth more to us than what any of us could describe.

Getting back to our verse, we know that a special bond had formed between Jesus, and three of his disciples: Peter, John, and James. Did that make a difference in this story? I don’t think so, but it is God’s desire that we all draw near to Jesus (Hebrews 10:22).

So, this verse show’s us the importance of having meaningful relationships where we can draw close to a friend. That’s part of what makes life fulfilling.  We read about God’s love for us and how he doesn’t condemn us in John 3:16,17.

She could’ve chosen to be the “center of attention” since she was miraculously healed. But, she chose to serve instead. People who exercise their gift of service rarely want to be in the spotlight. But, receiving a well deserved “Thank you” is appreciated by all.

Jesus, himself, taught this very concept of service:

“It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (Matthew 20:26).

Part of any meaningful relationship is to receive as well as to give. Peter and his wife welcomed her into their home. We don’t read that her presence made it difficult.  What we do read is that she used her gift of service in their home. Her help would’ve been appreciated by the entire family.

Peter’s concerned for her health shows his care for her. I’m sure they had tried the usual ancient ways to lower her fever by this time. But the herbs and cooling baths weren’t curing her.

Peter believed she needed a touch by none other than Jesus, himself. So he urged Jesus to visit his home and heal his ill in-law. And that’s just what happened.

This instance may have been the impetus of him writing latter on:

 “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

Some translations use the word “care” instead of anxieties. But, it’s the same idea with either word. We don’t have to carry our emotional burdens around needlessly. Peter was concerned about his mother-in-law so he went to Jesus about it.

Jesus always cared about others first. Here we see that he cared about her health foremost. This shows that we can’t work our way into having a relationship with the Savior.

After he healed her he spent time with all that were gathered there. In those days you just didn’t “drop in” for coffee. There’s no doubt that all the guests stayed and had a meal together. Since she served Jesus this meant that she sat near or behind him during the meal. So she would’ve been in his presence from her healing through the end of the meal.

Having meaningful relationships and being fully engaged in whatever our gifts and talents are is an important part to living our lives to the fullest. This is what brings satisfaction and fullness to not only ourselves, but to others also.

Perhaps you’ve experienced a miracle as well. I’d like to hear about it, but of course I would want some proof of it happening. I’m always looking for a good story to add to my next self-published book.

*All Bible verses are from The English Standard Version (ESV).