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, November 26, 2015

The Professionals in my Life

Last week I said I was going to talk about thankfulness this week. As I contemplate the holiday and my life, I grateful for many things in my life. However, one category of thankfulness stood out to me: The Professionals in my life.
The facts are that I have many mental and physical aspects of my life that require some professional help. I think that most of the time I take these people for granted. However, after a recent AA meeting, I was talking to some people about the mental health and medical care available to us in the United States. There are some areas that lack expertise (like child and adolescent psychiatrists), but there are many options available also. In that vein, I want to express my thankfulness for the health insurance my husband is able to have through his job. It’s not perfect for all my needs but without it my out-of-pocket costs would really hinder the amount and type of care available to me.
The first professional that comes to mind when I am being thankful is my therapist. She is knowledgeable about my types of mental illness and is able to devise strategies for dealing with them in productive ways. She’s also patient with me when I struggle to apply these strategies or refuse to apply them to my life on a daily basis. I try not to let that happen regularly, but it does happen. I think part of her patience comes from the fact that she really cares about me, and my recovery. I think she cares beyond what she has to to be an effective therapist. I think that comes from the influence God and her Christian beliefs has on her counseling and her life. I’m so thankful that God provided someone whose belief system mirrors my own. She is able to bring Christian principles and Scriptural advice into our counseling sessions and she usually does. There aren’t words to describe how thankful I am for this professional in my life.
As I wait for a call from my psychiatrist’s office (to hopefully help me with the lack of sleep issues I’m experiencing right now), I’m thankful for that service, also. There are many psychiatrists, but I believe God led me to the right one for me. She really cares about me and has made herself interested in my wellbeing. She has been willing to work with me to properly treat my mental illness even when things are not going well. I think I’m much better off with her as part of my healthcare team than without her. She has really got to know me, and the courses of my illness and is sensitive to my beliefs. She is also sensitive to the self-knowledge I have and often asks me what I think and feel about various courses of treatment for the symptoms of my illness.
There are other professionals I’m thankful for: my internist, the diabetes specialists, the eye doctor(s), and my dentist. All of them have played major roles in my healthcare. They have been responsive to my various needs without copping any attitudes or being condescending.
So this Thanksgiving I’m being thankful for the people in my life and today I’m focusing on the professionals. Underlying all my thankfulness is the knowledge that God loves me and has provided for all these people to be a part of my life.

Thursday, November 19, 2015


My prayer for my children today was that they would have joy. The card I have stated the prayer this way: “May my children be filled with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.” The verse given is 1 Thessalonians 1:6, but I also found some good advice in verse 7:
“You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.”
I had two questions in reading this passage. First, how to we gain “the joy of the Holy Spirit?” I think part of the answer is found in the passage: “You also became imitators of us and of the Lord.” As we imitate the people in our lives that have a strong relationship with Christ (as Paul and the other missionaries did), we will gain a sense of joy that comes from knowing God and His plan of salvation for us. This passage also talks about having received the word in much tribulation. Does that mean that unless we experience the hardships we face in this world, we won’t truly know what joy is? I think there’s some truth to that. In my experience, if I feel depressed, sad, angry, dejected, alone, persecuted, etc., it means I’m feeling something. And that means that I’m able to feel and experience things. That leaves the door open to experiencing the “good” or “positive” emotions also. Without the hard times, how would I recognize the good times?
Second, why do we need to experience the joy of the Holy Spirit? This passage also answers that: “so that you became an example to all the believers . . .” Our joy is an example to others of the good God has for us. This is a challenge to me in that I am more often an example of despair than of joy. I need to learn, as my children do, to feel and express joy in my daily life. I am working on that, especially right now as we approach the holiday season. I want to have good memories to share with my children and I want to have joy in my Lord and Savior in such a way that they can see the joy of the Holy Spirit. I hope that will encourage them and cause them to seek after the Savior.
Even as I write this, I’m struggling to be joyful. But then I remember all the things I have to be thankful for and I begin to see my spirit changing. However, thankfulness is a good topic for next week, so I will wait on that for now.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Biblical Self-Esteem

Almost every day I pray for the children in my life. I have a bookmark that is entitled “Biblical Virtues to Pray for Your Kids” and has a different virtue for each day of the month. Today’s virtue was that the kids would have Biblical self-esteem. Specifically, the suggested prayer said,
“Help my children develop a strong self-esteem that is rooted in the realization that they are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.”
The bookmark also gives a Scripture verse for each virtue. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” There are other passages of Scripture that talk about us being made by God (and in His image). One of those is Psalm 139. I especially like verses 13-14: “For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to Thee for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, And my soul knows it very well.” God also said, “. . . Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness . . . “ [Genesis 1:26]
With all that Scripture says about God making mankind, I would think we would have a proper perspective on our value and worth. Yet we don’t. I prayed for my kids this morning and for myself, that we would have the proper perspective, not thinking too highly of ourselves and not thinking too lowly. I’ve heard it said that we need to be “right-sized” according to God’s perspective of us. Some of us struggle with being self-critical and self-deprecating. That’s not having the proper perspective. God made us and, as the saying goes, God doesn’t make junk. Going back to Ephesians 2:10, we were made for a specific purpose for specific good works that God has planned out for us. We all have purpose and it is God-ordained. That means we have value and worth in this world and in the world to come. Thinking we are worthless or purposeless is going against God’s plan for our lives.
However, there are some of us who think more highly of ourselves than we should. These same verses should give that kind of thinking pause also, for we cannot claim we have done anything from our own power and might. It all comes from the God who created us. So, thinking we have accomplished much on our own strength, power, knowledge, or talents is going too far. God gives us all that we have, our personality, our intellect, our physical being, and our mental capacities. We are of great worth, but we did not get there on our own. A sense of true humility needs to go along with our sense of self-worth and self-esteem.
So as I prayed for my children today, I also prayed for myself. I can find myself out of balance, either thinking too highly of myself or too lowly of myself. Neither place allows for God to rule our lives and give us a healthy, Biblically based, self-esteem.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Thoughts on Psalm 36

In my personal devotion time the promise a couple of days ago was, “My love stretches to the heavens and My faithfulness extends above the clouds.” The verse that went along with the promise was Psalm 36:5. I read the verse and recognized it as part of a Third Day song. However the song uses several verses in Psalm 36 so I read the entire passage.
The part that stood out to me (and that most of the song is taken from) is verses 5-9:
Thy lovingkindness, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
Thy faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Thy righteousness is like the mountains of God;
Thy judgments are like a great deep.
O Lord, Thou preservest man and beast.
How precious is Thy lovingkindness, God!
And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Thy wings.
Thy drink their fill of the abundance of Thy house;
And Thou dost give them to drink of the river of Thy delights.
For with Thee is the fountain of life;
In Thy light we see light.
Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit down. However when I read passages like this in Scripture, I am encouraged for a time. Meditating on God’s love and faithfulness brings hope to my thoughts and feelings. It tells us right in this passage that He preserves man and beast. There have been many occasions in my life where God has preserved me. When I’ve felt like I was at the end of my rope and had no place to go (and was contemplating suicide as a viable option) He has prevented me from following through. He has preserved me when my diabetes has gotten out of control and I was in physical danger. Again, I survived. There have been times when I didn’t know what the next right thing to do was, and somehow, I did the right things.
It’s all because of His faithfulness and lovingkindness that He shows to His people. Some people might say that I did those things and that it had nothing to do with God’s intervention. I know that’s not the case. If it was based on my own strength and wisdom, I’d still be drunk, for one thing. My best thinking and willpower only got me into trouble. That’s true in all areas of my life.
So today, I meditate on His love and faithfulness to preserve me, in spite of myself. It’s only because of Him that I have life and am able to get to a point where I see light (and not the darkness in my own thoughts). How has God been loving and faithful to you?