Where Would You Like To Go?

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Valley

This song...with this season in my life...such a grace gift.

So thankful that Chesney pointed me towards Ellie Holcomb - what a ministry has her music been to my soul as of late.  If you've never heard her, do yourself a favor and check her out!

"Come and find me in the darkest night of my soul, in the shadow of the valley, I'm dying for you to make me whole"

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Whispered Word

I've stared at the blinking cursor on my screen for as long as I can.  Having some words on this page seems to help me over the initial fear of sharing this...of being transparent...of being vulnerable.

I've gone over in my head & my heart the reasons for this post and the fact is I'm not typing it for you as much as I'm typing it for Him...for me.  I've been convicted over and over again about always proclaiming His name and doing whatever I can for His glory - and I do believe He can & will be glorified through this...no matter how painful it may be for me to share it or admit to.

Some of you have hinted around & others have asked about why we are still in Joburg and not back in Madagascar...

We're here because I'm struggling with depression.

I still hold my breath when typing that word.
I am literally fighting the urge to use my backspace button.

Those 10 letters - depression - carry so much weight.  It has always been a word that I've whispered, that I've only associated with bad and horrible things, and that I've heard could never be said of any Christian.  I've only known two people who have ever vocalized to me that they were dealing with depression - and honestly I had no idea what to say to them.  I didn't understand what was involved.

I knew something was "off" when we were getting settled back into Tulear in Feburary.  There were moments that turned into days that I felt I had to literally fight for joy.  At times it seemed that I was outside of myself looking in on the world in which I lived.  I knew all the right Bible answers and I knew that He was indeed my Joy/Hope/Peace, but yet, I couldn't seem to cross over this ocean of sadness in my mind & heart.

One afternoon, in the middle of a panic attack, I had verses swirling in my head about "do not be anxious"...and yet there I was literally drowning in anxiety.

None of it made sense to me.  I was finally back "home" after being in South Africa for maternity leave.  I had an amazingly supportive & loving husband PLUS two beautiful girls whom I am able to be "mommy" to.  Where was this sadness coming from?  Why couldn't I just "fix" it?  Why wasn't He just "fixing" it?  I felt as if I were grieving when I knew I should be celebrating...which only piled on more guilt & shame for feeling the way that I was.

Thankfully, we work for an organization who takes these types of things seriously.  We were already coming to South Africa for a meeting and they said we'd need to stay until we could get things worked out.  I don't know what my plan was for what I would tell people as to why we were staying here so long...definitely not the truth.

The truth was big, scary, looming, and I was ashamed.

But a few weeks later, here I am - in the middle of a post - announcing to anyone who reads - exactly what I am dealing with, what my family is dealing with...the experts here say it's "reactional depression" and that it was triggered by the birth of Lyllian - that somewhere in my subconscious her birth triggered a grieving time for the miscarriage we had in 2012.  That grieving time coupled with the complicated hardness of life in Tulear resulted in a chemical imbalance that was changing my day to day pretty drastically.

That's a lot of words for saying that I didn't choose depression.  I ignored it the best that I could and fought against it with everything I had...but He still is walking me down this path to healing.  He's doing it differently than I prayed for - but His ways are perfect...are they not?

So, why share?  Because I am a Christian.  Because I was ashamed.  Because I had literally never heard someone talk about going through depression openly.

Because I thought I was the only one.

Here's the thing - I'm not.

But if I was, it doesn't change the fact that I am struggling with it.
I am getting better.
I do still have hard days.
It doesn't change the fact that I serve the God who is healing me.

Some will say this means I'm not a Christian.  They're wrong but it's not up to me to prove that to them.

Some will say it means that I'm not a strong Christian or that I don't have a "good walk" with the Lord.
You know what? They're right.

I'm learning how weak I am.  I'm seeing that I desperately need Him in every area of my life - every single moment.  I pray that I will never again be pulled into the desire to be a "good Christian".  There's nothing good about me apart from Him.  I want to hopelessly & passionately pursue a relationship with the Forgiver of my sins.  I want to publically acknowledge that I fall short and the only thing I am deserving of is hell.  I also want for everyone to know that my Savior...my good, perfect, holy, just, and loving Savior desired a love relationship with me - just as I am.  He desires to transform me so that I do not stay the same...not just a one time transformation but a daily, hourly, minute by minute transformation to look more like His Son Jesus Christ.

I am earnestly praying that He is ever so glorified through it and that there might be even one person which one day we will cross paths, and I can hold their hand, and look them in the eye and tell them "I've been there and here's what the Lord did in my life".






Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Broken Beautiful

what does it mean to be a 
"good wife"?
"good mother"?
 "good Christian"?

is there even such a person?

days are often filled not with feelings of success but of 
failure, 
of lacking, 
of not being good enough...

these are lies from the enemy - desperately trying to attack & destroy

i wonder about His faithfulness sometimes
not whether it will be
but why does it continue

i am... 
broken
spent
humbled
insufficient

i am a treasure in the eyes of Christ.
He makes me beautiful.
He makes my lacking attempts perfection through His strength
He has taken my fear & my shame and completely drenched them in His grace

i will never be good enough but
HE IS.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Gethsemane

"Hebrews tells us that Jesus endured the cross for the "joy that was set before him".  
The. Joy.
What was the joy?  
What one thing did He gain through the cross that He didn't have before?  
YOU."

"He was forsaken so we would never be."

"You've got to preach the gospel to yourself.  When you feel abandoned, know that you are NOT."

"We do not honor God with small requests...we honor Him when we come before Him with great expectations."

"Do the size of our prayers mirror the size of His sacrifice?"


such a powerful word from the Word - take a listen

Monday, April 14, 2014

Lyllian - 4 months

Miss Lyllian, 
4 months old already?  Time is flying by so fast!  You are such a happy and laid back baby girl.  This past month you have grown up so much.  You can find your thumb now and love to suck on it or anything else near your mouth - except a pacifier!  
We have found a schedule together that seems to work quite well.  You are eating every 3 - 3 1/2 hours during the day and are consistently taking 1 1/2 - 2 hour naps each cycle.  Your routine at night has been a bit different than your sister's was but we are figuring it out!  This past month you eat at 7, are asleep by 7:30 and wake up only once to eat in the night around 3:30am, then it's sleeping again until 7 in the morning.  Being on a schedule has made our days & nights much more enjoyable!!
You enjoy being propped up, playing on your playmat, talking to anyone, being talked to, and have recently decided you like looking at books.  You love when your sister sings to you and your eyes light up when you hear our voices.  You are an excellent traveler and do well in your car seat.  You are an expert at kicking your socks off and you are happiest when we help you "stand" up.
You weigh 13lbs 6oz and are 24 3/4 in long!  Your acid reflux has calmed down a good bit this month and for that we are thankful!  The small hole in your heart has closed up but the cardiologist did find a small PDA at your last appointment.  He said that we just need to monitor it and we'll check on it again when we go to the States in the Fall.
Ryleigh has started calling you "boogie boo" and always asks to kiss you.  She loves it when you come with me to wake her up in the mornings or after nap time.  When you are crying, Ryleigh says, "let me talk to her, I can make her happy" and most of the time she is right.
Lyllian Abigail, I so love our cuddle times together and am so grateful for the opportunity to be your momma.  I love you so!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Paint

No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation.
Unscripted. Unedited. Real.
It started because I’d (Lisa Jo Baker) been thinking about writing and how often our perfectionism gets in the way of our words. And I figured, why not take 5 minutes and see what comes out: not a perfect post, not a profound post, just five minutes of focused writing.
So now on Fridays a group of people who love to throw caution to the wind and just write without worrying if it’s just right gather to share what five minutes buys them. Just five minutes.

Go...

"We can paint today?"
It's usually more of a statement than a question...like who am I to possibly tell her "no" when she wants to paint.  I'm not sure why it's more intriguing than crayons...which I'd prefer any hour of the day...but it is.
It doesn't even matter what kind - finger painting, sponge painting, string painting, water painting (a personal favorite), paint brush painting...and I'm sure we'll have more to add to the list before too long.
She listens for a little while - about the importance of washing the brush/sponge/finger off before dipping it into another color...but eventually toddlerhood wins out.  It's just more fun to have paint everywhere and see all of her favorite colors on the brush at the same time.  
At first I grimaced when this would happen...and then firmly removed the painting object from her hand to clean it up...after a few times of doing this, me & my type A personality just had to let go of it.  There was so much joy and freedom that came out through her laugh and her eyes when I simply allowed her to have fun with it - to just be a painter.  
The thing is, her masterpieces turn out quite beautifully and the fun we had making the mess is totally worth it.  It's quite amazing what you can learn from being messy like how combining colors makes a new color...makes me wonder what I miss out on learning, for fear of it being too messy...

Joy is found in the ordinary things.  
Joy is found in the messiness of life.  
Joy can even be found in paint.

STOP

Thursday, April 10, 2014

God of the Nations

He is the God of the nations.  He offers salvation to everyone who believes in His son Jesus Christ and admits that they are a sinner.  He GIVES it - FREELY.

That's why we're here right?  I don't mean just my family being in Madagascar - I mean all of us.  That's why we're on this earth...to glorify Him and to make disciples of all nations...that's including America by the way.  We are each in the place He has called us to - to make His name known.
I can get really caught up in how much the Mahafaly need Him.  They need to know.  They need His salvation.  They need His love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, redemption, and the list could go on.  My heart could almost burst out of the passion I have to tell them, to let them know about the Creator who created all of the many things they worship/serve/have allegiance to.

There's nothing wrong with that, per say...however, I have moments (days/weeks) where I can easily forget how much I NEED Him.  How much I NEED His salvation, His love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, redemption...
That the God of the nations is my God.  I belong to Him.  I am a reason He sent His son to die.  Just because I have been gifted with the grace to know Him personally for 24 years...
I still need Him daily.  
I'm in a season right now where He is reminding me of this in brand new ways.  He's showing me, albeit painfully, that I am in desperate need of Him to live every single day.  I can not do it on my own.  I need His mercies to be new every single morning and He graciously provides them.  

Without my Rock, I can not stand.  
Without my Anchor, I drift in the storms.  
Without my Joy, I lose sight of the gifts.  
Without my Peace, I am restless.
Glory be to Him that I am never truly "without" Him.  He will not leave or forsake me...but I can lose focus.  I can have a prideful heart.  I can be so deep in sin that I can not even hear His Spirit clearly.  I can also have Bible verse after Bible verse written on my heart but it still be so easy to believe the lies of the Enemy.  This life is hard.  There are difficult times.  There are wildernesses we walk through...however, He says to "take heart and be of good courage".  
Praising Him in the midst of trials and in the midst of joys - be encouraged today no matter where you are in your walk.  
Remember that He WILL be glorified.  
He already has the victory - and if you are His child, we will too.