What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, February 26, 2015


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what the person of God should focus their attention on. Partially that comes from studying 1 Timothy. Paul gives Timothy several things to focus on and several things Timothy should not focus on. This led me to think about my own life and I’ve been trying to evaluate myself based on these things. Basically, am I living the life a woman of God should be living.
There are several lists of characteristics in the book of 1 Timothy but today what stands out to me is found in chapter 6, verses 11-12. In the Phillips version of the New Testament it says,
But you, the man of God, keep clear of such things. Set your heart not on riches, but on goodness, Christ-likeness, faith, love, patience and humility. Fight the worthwhile battle of the faith, keep your grip on that life eternal to which you have been called, and to which you boldly professed your loyalty before many witnesses.”
So I evaluate my life . . . do I set my heart on riches? Is money and material possessions the focus of my energy and efforts? Generally not. However this passage goes on to tell us what we should be focusing on: goodness, Christ-likeness, faith, love, patience and humility. So I ask myself, are those the things I focus on? I have to admit that I’m not sure what my focus is on these days, but I don’t think it’s on those things as much as it should be. I am finding it hard to focus on anything in reality. But those are good characteristics to have. I want to be good. I want to be Christ-like. I want to have faith. I want to be characterized by love. I want to have patience toward the people in my life. And I know I should be humble.
I need to keep those qualities in front of me on a daily basis and “set my heart” on them. I don’t know exactly how to do that these days. So I pray that God would show me what goodness is and what Christ-likeness looks like. I pray for faith and love and patience. I pray that God will help me be humble toward Him and others. I feel like there is something more I should be doing in order to develop those characteristics in my life, but for now, the best I can do is pray for the ability to keep those things before me and do what God would have me do regarding each of those areas.

Thursday, February 19, 2015


I try not to focus too much on my struggles when writing this weekly article, however, occasionally I need to be totally honest with my readers. I have a mental illness that cycles between depression and mania. Sometimes I’m not cycling dramatically because there are medicines that help with that.
But even when I’m faithful to take the medicines, cycling may occur. Right now I’m cycling into a depression. And due to a variety of circumstances in my life, I’m not doing a very good job of coping with it. I want to believe that it is all due to my doing or not doing certain things including eating right, exercising enough, doing daily readings in the Bible and AA literature, Bible study, prayer, praise, and focusing on the positive things in my life. However, the truth is sometimes I can be doing all those things and it’s still not enough to overcome the mood swings due to my mental illness.
When I have things to look forward to, I do better, so I try to focus on those things. For instance, my daughter is coming home from college for a week this Friday. I get to go pick her up and hopefully will be able to spend some quality time with her over the course of the week. However, there’s also the nagging sense that things will not go well and I will not be able to keep up a good front and I will crash. I don’t want to disappoint my daughters, or my husband. I feel like crashing would do that.
The reality is I’m afraid I will need some drastic help to overcome this round of depression. That could mean doing some things I just do not like to do. One of those things is calling my psychiatrist and asking for her help (which usually means more meds and I hate taking more meds). Another thing is being accountable to my therapist and trying her suggestions to get through this experience. I just don’t know if I have the energy to follow through on those suggestions.
If I can’t control my thoughts and urges, another option, which I really hate, is to go to the mental hospital and see what suggestions they have for medications and behavior changes. That idea was thrown out as a possibility to me today. Of course, I don’t like taking more meds no matter who prescribes them – the outpatient psychiatrist or an inpatient psychiatrist.
So today, I’m trying to pray and trust God to see me through another day. But, when I’m feeling the way I am right now, it’s hard to believe that God is working in my life – or that He wants to work in my life. If He wanted to work in my life, wouldn’t He prevent me from getting to this place? But disease is disease, because we live in a fallen world. I may just have to deal with my disease as best as I can and trust God is giving the professionals in my life the wisdom they need to treat me. Is that enough? I don’t know.

Thursday, February 12, 2015


I don’t know how to be patient. I hate waiting. I want results and I want them now. Knowing I’m not a very patient person does not help me wait on God’s timing. And I’m afraid that when God does work, I miss it because I’m already worrying about the next thing.
Patience is one of the virtues God wants us to develop in our lives. It is one of the fruits of the Spirit highlighted in Galatians 5:22-23. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” It’s one of the things Paul entreats us to develop in Ephesians 4:1-2: “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love . . .”
And in Colossians 3:12 it tells us: “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;” Put on a heart of patience! That means taking some action. It requires me to put patience into my life. Paul continues in 2 Timothy 3:10 telling us to follow his example: “Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance. . .”
So as I sit here anxious about the outcome of a legal matter involving our family, I don’t believe it will ever happen. I’m frustrated that it hasn’t happened already. I believe it’s what God wants to happen, so why doesn’t He make it happen already? But then I remember that God’s timing is not my timing. I remember that He wants me to develop patience (in all areas of my life). I can honestly say I’m waiting, but not because I want to. There’s nothing else to be done in the situation. God has to work. I don’t think I’m being patient because my attitude is one that says, “Alright already!” We’ve waited long enough. But I guess we haven’t because God’s timing hasn’t come to pass yet.
I pray for true patience and peace of mind, while I wait for God to work. I pray I will trust Him and be able to have an attitude of reliance on Him. There’s probably something about patience I’m supposed to learn from this situation. So I pray I learn that lesson so I don’t have to have other situations come up in my life to teach me this lesson again.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Dead of Winter Thoughts

It’s February and in Michigan that means it’s the dead of winter. As I look out my office window right now it’s snowing, again. That could be depressing. It often is for me. I struggle with depression periodically throughout the year, but it always seems a little worse during the fall and winter months.
Yet, as I look out my window, I also see the birds hanging out on the various bird feeders in our front yard. Their exuberance in the midst of the snow and cold is fun to watch. And they remind me that there is something good going on around me even while winter rears its ugly head.
For instance, I can be grateful for my husband, who put the birdseed in the feeder right out my office window. That takes some doing as it is a walk through the snow to get to that feeder. He didn’t have to do that, but he did it for me, so I can enjoy watching the birds frolic about.
I can also be grateful for the other people God has placed in my life. Just today while I was at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, a friend commented that I seem to be doing better than some years. He noted that the winter months have often been the time of year I end up in the mental hospital because I just can’t deal with life on life’s terms anymore. I’m not even close to that point this year, but without his comment I might have failed to notice. So far this is my third winter without a hospital visit. That’s something to be grateful for. My depressions are managed and I’m not skipping meds because they make me feel sluggish or despondent. So I’m not manic either.
My therapist thinks I’m holding my own. That’s another person I’m grateful for. She’s able to put my life in perspective a little better than I am. Like the other friend, she reminds me that things have been worse in years past. Things may not be totally joyous and happy, but life is rarely all joy and happiness. I’m handling the struggles and surviving. I’m even doing some things to bring enjoyment into my life on a regular basis.
So I didn’t directly write about God in today’s post. But He’s a big part of why I’m able to survive and endure the hard times in my mood swings. Some of the things I do to put structure into my life are things that bring me closer to God: Daily time in Bible reading, Bible study, Praising Him on a regular basis, and Praying (mostly for my children but also for my husband, friends, and family).
I’m surviving one day at a time. And it won’t be winter forever. Eventually spring will come and there will be new life to celebrate. That’s something to look forward to.