Tag Archives: Emotional Stress

Unwanted Feelings – Part 5

As we conclude this series of articles about dealing with unwanted feelings, I will again remind you of the e-mail that we used to introduce our topic.

I woke up hurting and aching about the adoption this morning, and the feeling never left. Seeking HIM and seeking the peace and clarity that only HE can give.

Could you please pray for me to find my comfort in Christ? And to trust HIM. If you have time, could you please send me a Scripture that brings you comfort in times of loss? I will meditate on it. Amy

If you haven’t been following these Mom’s Corners about negative feelings, I suggest you go back and read the first four articles so that you have the whole picture in your mind before you continue this one.

Choosing Right Thoughts

One mom wrote to share with me something that helps her with unwanted feelings. I wanted to use her exact words as I told you her suggestion, but when I went to retrieve them, I couldn’t find her letter. She explained that she had once heard a speaker say that if you memorize Psalm 103, you will never again experience depression. She had chosen to do that and had discovered incredible victory over her negative feelings that were manifesting themselves in depression.

Even though I can’t vouch for the speaker’s words that if you memorize Psalm 103, you will never have depression again, I thought Psalm 103 would be one I should memorize for my personal use and to share with others. This is especially true because I have had to deal with depression in my past, and I regularly hear from moms who are in the midst of depression. While I am only on verse ten out of the twenty-two verses in my memorization, let me show how this Psalm begins:

“Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalm 103:1-5)

In reading Psalm 103, we can quickly see that the focus is on the worship of God and gratitude to Him for all He has done for us. When we set our hearts on praise and gratefulness, there isn’t room for the negative feelings to control us.

Physical Components to Emotional Stress

If you are struggling with unwanted feelings on an ongoing basis, I encourage you to evaluate whether there is a physical component to it. How is your diet? Are you consuming white sugar, white flour, and caffeine, or are you eating healthy, nutritious food? What about getting adequate sleep? Are you exercising? Those are areas of your life that you have control over and that you can change so that they do not drive your negative feelings. Perhaps as you get those aspects of your life where they need to be, the feelings will be resolved in the process. It is ultimately possible that the root cause of negative feelings could be a health issue that would be helped by the attention of a medical doctor.

Sometimes we try to justify our negative feelings because we think they are hurting no one but ourselves. However, if we face the truth, we have to realize that those emotions do indeed affect not only our lives but also the lives of others, especially those we love the most, our families. This is easy to see with something like anger because the recipient of anger is likely going to be emotionally hurt by the anger. However, if we give in to worry, that will affect our words, our countenance, our responses, and our interactions with those who are close to us. If we are lonely and begin to feel sorry for ourselves, that will as well reach beyond us to those with whom we live.

Living with Chronic Pain

Let me give you a personal example of this. I have lived with chronic back pain for many years. One day last week, I had my normal back pain plus a new pain that caused me to hurt every time I took a deep breath. I knew this new pain was temporary and would be gone in a day or two, but it still hurt right then. In addition, I had a sort of allergic reaction in my mouth that was causing the roof of my mouth to burn, ache, and itch. That morning a family member shared with me something I had said to them that they felt had an attitude behind it.

Were any of those very big problems? No! However, added together that day, they presented a spiritual battle. Rather than fight the spiritual battle with my thoughts of self-pity, I decided to cry. Here is the outcome of my good cry.

  • Red, puffy eyes
  • A terrible headache
  • A runny nose even after I stopped crying
  • A perpetuation of my self-pity
  • A bleak countenance
  • A concern in the family manifested by them asking me if I was okay
  • An insecurity in one family member indicated by her thinking she was the cause of my crying
  • A sadness that pervaded our home that evening.

As I evaluated that period of crying, I couldn’t figure out one positive benefit that had come from it. All the outcomes were negative. At the moment I chose to cry, I also had the opportunity to choose what I have been encouraging us to do in these articles. Had I done those things, God’s grace would have given me the strength to accept the pain and discouragement and move on with my day.

Remember our key verse from the first article: “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Galatians 5:16-17).

We walk in the Spirit by seeking the Lord’s strength in prayer (2 Corinthians 12:9). We do it by taking those negative thoughts captive and bringing them into the obedience of the Lord (2 Corinthians 10:5). I could have had a grateful heart thinking about others who have so much more pain than I do (1 Thessalonians 5:18), and then prayed for them rather than feeling sorry for myself. Had I begun to put into my mind the verses that I have memorized, gotten out my notebook of special Bible verses, or opened my Bible to read it, the self-pity would have been neutralized by God’s abundant grace. Even getting up and getting busy would most likely have set me walking in the Spirit rather than fulfilling the lust of my selfish flesh.

By the next morning, I had repented of my negative, self-focused thoughts, asked my family’s forgiveness for how they were affected, and moved on with the Lord Jesus for a new day. I encourage you when you fail to do the same. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Remember that His mercies are new every morning. “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

I want to encourage you to deal with your negative feelings rather than succumbing to them or believing yourself to be a victim of them. Not only will you benefit from this change but those around you will benefit as well. My prayer for my life and for yours is that we would continually walk in the fruit of the Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Unwanted Feelings – Part 4

As we continue our discussion of unwanted feelings, I want to share with you a beautiful example of how one mom applied what we have been talking about in this series in her life. But first, I’ll refresh with the e-mail that began these articles:

I woke up hurting and aching about the adoption this morning, and the feeling never left. Seeking HIM and seeking the peace and clarity that only HE can give.

Could you please pray for me to find my comfort in Christ? And to trust HIM. If you have time, could you please send me a Scripture that brings you comfort in times of loss? I will meditate on it. Amy

The first three articles in this series can be found here. If you haven’t read them, you will want to do that to have the complete picture concerning the process of dealing with unwanted feelings.

The following testimony fits well with our introductory e-mail because the events that led up to the testimony involve a difficult pregnancy, pre-term labor, and a premature birth. Read the following as a different Amy, Amy E., shares her heart through this process.

Dear Maxwell Family,

I thank you so much for your prayers on my behalf and for your notes of encouragement!

Back at Christmas time, I began asking the Lord to give me a new “theme” for 2012—a focus for my objectives for the new year. Reading in Genesis, I came across the verse where God said to Abraham, “. . . Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward” (Genesis 15:1). I meditated on that verse for some time and concluded that while we know that the Lord was about to do a lot of awesome things through Abraham’s life—in this verse, He was ultimately offering HIMSELF to Abraham as the reward in the end. A couple days later, I came to the verse I chose as my theme. It was: “And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me” (Genesis 22:12). I concluded that God knows we fear Him when we don’t withhold things from Him. I chose my memory verses for the year based on the things I tend to withhold from God and manage myself, areas where I wasn’t trusting Him.

A week later there was a bend in the road that I hadn’t seen coming, but the Lord had faithfully prepared me to go that way with these verses. It all started the first day in January when I was admitted to the hospital at twenty-three weeks along and discovered that I had no amniotic fluid, increased bleeding, and various other factors. Before long we learned that HUGE numbers of people were praying. It made me wonder what God was going to do that He was getting so many people on board for. Maybe this was going to be a miracle baby?

Over the next two weeks the Lord used my Bible time and a book I was reading to encourage me. Being removed from my normal environment (the hospital was an hour from home), He also gave me the opportunity to “try out” my resolve about not withholding things from Him. I could control nothing that was going on—nothing at home, nothing with the children, nothing with my body—NOTHING! He is so good!

I verbalized to several ladies that came to see me one day that the baby was not the ultimate end. I shared my verses and my belief that the end was the LORD—baby or no baby. He wanted to show me Himself as I had never seen Him before. The book I was reading said that we can’t know Him as the God of victory unless we face a battle. We can’t know Him as the God of all comfort if we don’t experience deep sorrow. Though my hope was that the Lord was going to see this baby through, I did consider that maybe He was going to use the baby to show Himself to me in a different way. Whenever the Lord gets many people involved in a situation, it is so that He can show His power, and that His name would be declared throughout all the earth! I thought surely the Lord is going to show Himself mighty by saving this baby!

That very evening after sharing with my friends, I abruptly went into labor. They moved me to labor and delivery and couldn’t find a heartbeat. The doctor found him in the birth canal (a place they never wanted him to be because he wouldn’t be able to handle delivery being so premature). His heart rate was 40 bpm. They moved me to surgery to have a C-section. He was born bruised and small. His little lungs just weren’t developed enough to breathe yet. They disconnected his tubes and wires and handed him to us. He was beautiful, and he smelled so good! He passed on immediately as we held him. He never opened his eyes in this life; the first face he ever saw was the Lord Jesus!

In summary, while this ending was not what I had in mind, the Lord has not ceased to show Himself mighty! I boast in Him as much as if He had sustained our little one. Words cannot express what the Lord has been to me. I have been under the shadow of His wings. I have found that God has lavished Himself on us exceeding abundantly! Every time a meal walked through our door, I felt as though it was from the Lord Himself. The Lord has shown His love so much through other people’s ovens, letters, phone calls, checkbooks, and especially the Scriptures. It has been exceedingly abundant. He has sent the right words of comfort and encouragement when we needed them. He has reminded us of His love all these days, hour by hour. I have seen His face as never before. I love Him more than I did before. And I am so full of thanks for all He has allowed.

I write this because with so many people praying and knowing that the Lord gets many on board so that they might know His power, I purposed that I would declare to as many as possible that there is truly none like Him in all the earth. We serve a mighty and wonderful God. Though my eyes fill with tears from time to time, and my arms are empty, I can say with a full heart, “Thank You Lord for this experience! I love You all the more because of it!”

I mentioned that I started reading in Genesis back at Christmas. As the Bible goes on, I am now in Exodus soaking in each verse, and I get excited to read, “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself” (Exodus 19:4). I feel like I’m there in the account with those people, for their God is still working mightily. I have experienced Him. I hope that you will be like Jethro, who after hearing all that the Lord had done in Egypt, rejoiced in the goodness of the Lord, blessed His name, and worshipped.

In Jesus’ precious Name,

Amy E.

I am delighted that I am able to send Amy’s testimony beyond the boundaries that she anticipated it going. I am praying that her words and example will highlight what we have been discussing in these articles concerning negative emotions. Amy sought the Lord in her pain, and she found Him to be sufficient. I believe He is sufficient for each of us in every circumstance that brings unwanted emotions. Amy came through her trauma not overwhelmed by her pain but overjoyed by her Savior. May each of us do the same.

Unwanted Feelings – Part 3

Having lived with anger, anxiety, and depression for several years, I wouldn’t want anyone to be continually experiencing those negative emotions. There are more negative emotions that rob us of the joy we desire to have for ourselves, for our families, and for those with whom we are in contact. Grief is one of those emotions if it is not properly worked through. Grief started out our discussion of dealing with unwanted feelings through this e-mail:

I woke up hurting and aching about the adoption this morning, and the feeling never left. Seeking HIM and seeking the peace and clarity that only HE can give.

Could you please pray for me to find my comfort in Christ? And to trust HIM. If you have time, could you please send me a Scripture that brings you comfort in times of loss? I will meditate on it. Amy

The first two articles in this series can be found here. If you haven’t read those articles, I encourage you to do so because those points are critical to our success. We began with the importance of crying out to the Lord Jesus for His grace and strength in our weakness, including asking others to pray for us. Then we moved into the arena of our thoughts and being thankful rather than focused on what is causing the negative feelings. We also saw the importance of using Scripture to help us.

Let me give you a personal example. Right now I am in the midst of a season of life that is probably very different from most of you, but one you will likely face in the future. I am helping my mom take care of my father, whose health is quickly failing. Each morning I go just around the corner from my house to their house to spend the next half hour getting him out of bed, cleaned up, dressed, and into his recliner chair for breakfast.

As I arrive at their house, I have a choice concerning my thoughts. I can think, “Lord, this is too hard. I don’t want to have to do this. It is depressing to see my dad in this condition.” On the other hand I can have thoughts like the following: “Thank You, Lord, that I live close to my parents, so I can help in their time of need. Lord, help me to lighten their load and make this time a little easier and happier for them. Lord, allow me to show love no matter what task I am faced with doing. Lord, let me never make them feel like a burden. Help me bring a bit of sunshine and joy into their lives this morning with a happy smile and uplifting conversation.”

There is a huge difference in the outcome of those two scenarios but only one difference in what was done. The difference was what I did with my thoughts. Here is a verse I share with you so often in Mom’s Corners. Read it, memorize it, and use it often because it is an integral part of walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh. “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

When I allow the “poor me” thoughts, I am giving in to myself—to my flesh. However when I take the thoughts captive and bring them into the captivity of Christ, I gain His grace that allows me to walk in the Spirit and have the fruit of the Spirit that comes with it. This is true for my mornings with my parents, and it is the same for my friend, Amy. As long as she thinks about her loss, how sad it makes her, how devastating it is for her, her empty arms—she simply feels sadder and sadder. However, when she takes the thoughts captive and begins to concentrate on resting in God’s will in her life, trusting her husband’s decisions, thanking God for the children already given to her and other blessings in her life, and rejoicing in the happy reunion with her baby in heaven one day, then the sadness will be replaced by peace and joy.

I would also encourage you to get up and get busy when you have unwanted feelings. If you sit and think about them, they have a way of multiplying and entrenching themselves more firmly. Sometimes that ends up with unwanted actions that accompany the unwanted feelings—an outcome we most certainly would like to avoid. We just finished a series, Lazy to Self-Disciplined on moving from laziness to self-discipline. There will be some good hints if you reread those articles that would motivate you to choose to do something when it would be best for you to be active.

I firmly believe that having a schedule allows us to avoid many unwanted feelings and to deal with the ones that come. The productivity of life with a schedule removes the negative emotions like stress, frustration, and feeling overwhelmed that often arise when we are behind on the tasks that need to be accomplished in our lives. The harmony of sweeter relationships achieved by a family on a schedule, lets us avoid the anger, worry, and bitterness that we feel when our children are bickering, unruly, and disobedient. The direction of a schedule will keep us moving when sadness overwhelms, anxiety consumes, or depression despairs. If you could use help with scheduling, I suggest Managers of Their Homes because in that book, I teach you how to make and utilize a schedule.

I hope that the next time you find yourself flooded with unwanted feelings you will immediately begin to pray. Then take your thoughts captive by being grateful rather than sad, content rather than angry, or trusting rather than worried. Use Scripture to help you with that process. Also do something to take your mind off of what caused the feelings and the feelings themselves. I think you will be very excited! Share your success stories with me. I have a couple of examples I would like to give you next month. Maybe you will have more for me.

Unwanted Feelings – Part 2

Last month we began a series of articles on how to biblically deal with unwanted feelings.

I used part of an e-mail from a friend to kick off our discussion, so I will share that again.

I woke up hurting and aching about the adoption this morning, and the feeling never left. Seeking HIM and seeking the peace and clarity that only HE can give.

Could you please pray for me to find my comfort in Christ? And to trust HIM. If you have time, could you please send me a Scripture that brings you comfort in times of loss? I will meditate on it. Amy

Amy had just learned that a newborn adoption her family had been pursuing wasn’t going to work out, and she was feeling sad. We will all face emotions that are painful, from grieving to loneliness to anxiety. Amy’s sadness wasn’t wrong; it was a normal emotion that comes when there is a loss. However, what she does with that emotion when it arises will most likely determine whether she becomes consumed by her grief or whether she experiences the comfort that the God of all comfort offers her, allowing her to move healthily through her sadness.

As an example, I have interacted with several moms who have lost loved ones, and when they write to me they have become immobilized by their grief. When we give in to self-pity in our sadness, then we are dealing with unwanted feelings. So often we will discover that our unwanted feelings are rooted in our own selfishness. We don’t get what we want. Things don’t go the way we prefer them to go. The children don’t do what we told them to do. Our husbands aren’t communicating the way we would like them to communicate. The foundation of the unwanted feelings is bound up in selfish thoughts that we might not even recognize or be willing to acknowledge.

In February’s article, we evaluated Amy’s cry for prayer support. We learned that when we make such a cry, we are requesting His strength in our weakness and His grace that is sufficient. As we cry out for His mercy, we are taking our focus off ourselves and putting it onto the One Who cares the most for us. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

We also saw that praying with thanksgiving moves our focus off of our pain and onto our blessings: self-thoughts then migrate to grateful thoughts.

The next step in dealing with negative feelings is to seek the Lord Jesus Christ. That is what Amy said she was doing: seeking Him, His peace, and His clarity. For Amy’s need, He is the God of all comfort. “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

One clear way we seek the Lord Jesus is by being in His Word. “And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God” (Luke 4:4). When we are in His Word on a daily basis, He is growing us, teaching us, comforting us, and nurturing us. In many ways, we are like those newborn babies we love so dearly. “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). We have to desire the sincere milk of the Word if we want to grow spiritually.

We are prone, though, to make excuses as to why we aren’t in the Word. It usually has to do with being too busy, too tired, or too forgetful. Yet that busyness, tiredness, and forgetfulness make it all the more imperative that we keep our priorities correct and that we receive the daily spiritual milk and bread that we need to be the spiritual women God wants us to be.

As we are in the Word, we receive His comfort in times of grief, we learn how to deal with loneliness, we become more patient, we discover how to love, and so much more. As all of that is developing in us, the negative feelings will control us less and less. It is truly the fruit of the Spirit evidenced in our lives. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Amy was also seeking the Lord by asking for specific Scripture that would meet the need of her grieving heart. As we find those verses, read them, and even memorize them, we have a powerful tool in our hands for attacking negative feelings, whether they are feelings of grief that want to overwhelm or feelings of anger that want to lash out. “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).

Here are some verses that Amy could read and even memorize. Consider how they would help to bring comfort to her heart.

“Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.” (Job 1:20-22)

“In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.” (Psalm 94:19)

“This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.” (Psalm 119:50)

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” (2 Corinthians 4:17)

“Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” (Ephesians 6:16)

When you have those unwanted negative feelings this month, I challenge you to pray and ask the Lord to take those feelings from you. Turn your thoughts to ones of gratitude to the Lord for the blessings He has placed in your life. I also suggest that you determine right now that you are going to be committed to spending time reading your Bible every day so that you are renewing your mind. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2). Finally memorize some key verses in the areas where you most frequently have negative feelings so that you have your ammunition available with which to attack those feelings.

Join me next month as we continue our consideration of how to deal with unwanted feelings.

Unwanted Feelings – Part 1

Recently I received an e-mail from a very dear friend. This is what she said:

I woke up hurting and aching about the adoption this morning, and the feeling never left. Seeking HIM and seeking the peace and clarity that only HE can give.

Could you please pray for me to find my comfort in Christ? And to trust HIM. If you have time, could you please send me a Scripture that brings you comfort in times of loss? I will meditate on it. Amy

Amy had good reason to wake up feeling sad. Her family had just found out that an adoption they had longed for and prayed for was not going to happen. They were in the midst of grieving the loss of this little one they had hoped would be theirs to raise.

We have all had feelings to deal with that we haven’t wanted to experience. It might be grief like my friend, but it could be depression, loneliness, anxiety, or anger. What we would prefer is to have the peace, joy, contentment, and comfort that comes from Jesus Christ. That sounds a great deal like the fruit of the Spirit to me. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

We want that fruit of the Spirit controlling our feelings, but how does that happen? “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Galatians 5:16-17).

My friend started in the right place in her desire to walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lust of the flesh—by praying and asking for prayer support. What biblical basis do we have for this first step? “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). Be careful for nothing means that we aren’t to be anxious, worried, sad, or upset about anything, whether it is an adoption that doesn’t come through, a child who is rebelling, a health obstacle, financial difficulties—the list is endless. Our directive is that we are not to entertain the negative feelings, but rather we are to pray and let God know our requests.

Not only did Amy pray herself, but she asked others to pray for her as well. “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18). We humble ourselves as we admit our weaknesses and ask for prayer. “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6). We all need more of God’s grace. It is in our weakness that He is shown to be strong.

Paul was often seen in the New Testament asking for prayer. Here is one example: “Brethren, pray for us” (1 Thessalonians 5:25). Of all Christians, Paul’s spiritual maturity would have indicated that he could have gotten along without prayer. Paul knew, though, that his strength was not his own but his Lord’s. He depended on prayer just like we must.

These powerful verses give us another clue as to how His strength is available in our weakness. “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

There is another aspect to our praying, and that is to pray with thanksgiving. We enable great power through gratitude. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). It is almost impossible to be sad, angry, depressed, or worried when you are being thankful. We recently hosted a young missionary who had just returned from a two-year mission trip to Ghana. He talked about how the Christians in Ghana thank God for things most American Christians never do—things like the air we breath, the sun shining, or the bed they sleep on. He challenged us to do something he had begun doing if he felt discouraged and that was to thank the Lord for five things he had never before thanked the Lord for.

When the challenge was presented, I thought it would be tough to come up with five things for which I hadn’t already thanked the Lord. The very next day I had the opportunity to try it out. Steve and I were both seeing a chiropractor, and I looked forward to our rides to and from the chiropractor together. On this day, Steve had a dental appointment before the chiropractic appointment so we met at the office and drove home separately. On the way home, I was feeling sorry for myself because I was alone without Steve’s company. So I thought, “Okay, Lord, what are five things I can thank You for that I never thanked You for before? Thank You for this street I am driving on right now. Thank You for those who made the road, and thank You for those who maintain it.” Wow, driving home was developing a thankfulness theme in my mind. “Thank You, Lord, for the engineers who designed this car that I can use to move around. Thank You, Lord, for the speed with which a car allows me to accomplish what I need to do away from home. Thank You, Lord, that we have gasoline to power this car.”

Since we will all experience unwanted, negative feelings controlling our thoughts, attitudes, or actions, as Christian women we look to the Word for direction on how to deal with those kinds of feelings. The starting place is going to be prayer. It is the foundation for the fruit of the Spirit that we desire to have ruling in our lives. Not only will we be crying out to the Lord, but we can also ask others to pray for us. Through prayer our weakness is His strength. As we turn our hearts to being thankful, that gratitude will be the bedrock of the peace the Lord Jesus brings to overcome the bad feelings from which we want to be freed. There is more I would like us to consider in overcoming unwanted feelings, so we will continue the discussion next month. P.S. I would really encourage you to read the book, Sweet Journey. It extensively addresses prayer and gives practical ideas to develop this important area of your walk with the Lord Jesus.

When Life Turns Upside Down – Part 3

In the first two parts of this series, I explained the family crises with which we were recently faced. One involved my mom’s health and the other our daughter-in-law’s miscarriage. We have been looking at the help Scripture gives us for dealing with the emotions these situations can create within us.  Because this is the final article in this series, I encourage you to go back and read the first two because the information in each one grows from the previous articles.

Last month, I detailed what happened with Melanie’s pregnancy. This month I will fill you in on my mom. Before our trip, my mom had become quite weak, and we had two doctor’s appointments, first with a family practice doctor and then with a cardiologist, to try to determine the problem. After several high-tech tests, her heart was determined to be doing well, and it was time for us to leave on our trip. While we were away, my mom had two other doctor appointments concerning her condition, and at her request, the decision had been made to postpone further medical appointments until after we returned home.

If you recall, we sat and talked with her the night after our arrival home from our trip after being gone for five weeks. We knew she was very weak, but now we observed that her speech was slurred. The evening before, we had seen her inability to chew and swallow. The other symptoms were concerning us, but these two particular ones were alarming. She and Dad had plans to join my sister and her family for a vacation in two weeks.

At this point, though, it became clear that Mom could most certainly not enjoy the vacation and perhaps she wouldn’t even survive it. The pulmonologist my mom had seen while we were gone had determined Mom’s lungs were fine but had recommended that she see a neurologist. That evening I e-mailed my dad’s neurologist at Kansas University Medical Center and explained my mom’s case history and symptoms. I pleaded with him to see her. The Lord certainly intervened on our behalf because he e-mailed the next morning and said she could have an afternoon appointment. Usually it takes several weeks or months to get a new-patient appointment with a doctor at Kansas University.

Within an hour, the neurologist had diagnosed my mom’s condition—myasthenia gravis. It is a serious autoimmune, neuromuscular disease where the communication between the nerves and muscles is broken down. He gave her a prescription and said it would work immediately. The medication has allowed her to be able to swallow, speak clearly, and do much more than she could do when she was at her worst. However, she still remains very weak and can’t accomplish much beyond making meals for herself and Dad each day plus daily life maintenance. She is now being treated to try to reverse the disease.

There are two passages of Scripture that would speak specifically to us in these kinds of situations. “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope” (Romans 5:3-4). Can you imagine glorying in your tribulations? My natural response to trials is most certainly not to glory in them. I simply want to get through them and have them over—a kind of “grin and bear it” attitude. However, here I am told that I would choose to glory in these difficulties. The verse tells me why I would want to glory in them. It is because of the knowledge that they will develop several good qualities in my life, including patience, the ability to deal with future problems, and a growing faith in my Lord Jesus Christ.

Here is another verse, which is quite similar to Romans 5. “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:2-4). In this passage of Scripture, the word “temptations” means trials or problems. To me these verses make it clear that the Lord wants me to make a decision as to how to respond to trials.

The verse doesn’t say that I will feel full of joy, but rather that I should count it as joy. In other words, I am to make a purposeful decision to have an attitude of joy. I don’t believe that means I am joyful over the situation, but rather I am joyful in my Lord Jesus Christ—no matter what happens. The reason I am to consider it as joy is because these situations are trials of my faith. Will I trust the Lord not only through the easy times, but also through the valleys filled with pain or suffering?

I have faced trials of life both ways, in the flesh and in the Spirit. In the flesh the misery of the situation is compounded by the self-pity, negative thoughts, and fear that I have allowed to overwhelm and demoralize me. However, when I glory in tribulations and count them as joy, the problems still remain, but my heart is not weighed down. There is a steadfast peace in my heart through the power of the Holy Spirit that allows me to do what I need to do in the situation with a heart resting in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The situations we faced with my mom and with Melanie after our trip involved major interruptions to our normal daily-life schedule. Because we have a schedule to help us accomplish what we need to do each day, I was free to help in other ways when my time priorities were temporarily rearranged. I am to be busy about the Lord’s work. Usually that means I am teaching homeschool, cleaning, doing laundry, cooking, and other household tasks. However, for a season, those tasks were turned over to my girls, and my time was invested in doctor’s appointments with my mom. I also spent time at Nathan and Melanie’s helping with Abigail and doing cooking over there. My heart’s desire is to be used as the Lord wants me to be used, and my schedule helps me be available when there are unusual interruptions to the schedule such as these.

In each of our lives we will have problems, difficulties, trials, hardships. Some are quite major and catastrophic while others are minor and inconsequential. When confronted each of these kinds of situations, we have a decision to make. Will we allow our minds to be self-focused and full of pity consuming our thoughts with gloom and doom? Will we choose to glory in the problem and count it as joy? We have comfort from the Comforter, strength from the Strong One, and peace from the Peaceful One.

When Life Turns Upside Down – Part 2

Last month, I began the Mom’s Corner by telling about the crises we faced when we returned from our last speaking trip. Our daughter-in-law was having indications of a miscarriage, and my mom was having serious, undiagnosed health problems. Here is a link to that article with more of the details of the problems and beginning thoughts about how we deal with difficulties when they arise.

The day after Nathan and Melanie received the negative lab results, the doctor wanted her to have an ultrasound. Because of the many ultrasounds Melanie has had with previous high-risk pregnancies problems and the bad news they often have carried with them, Nathan and Melanie dreaded ultrasounds. This one was certainly going to be the same. From the miscarriage symptoms Melanie was experiencing plus the lab report, they knew full well what the ultrasound would show—their precious little baby with no heartbeat.

As the technician began the ultrasound, Nathan and Melanie heard her say, “The heartbeat looks good. Do you want to see your baby?” Totally expecting to hear the exact opposite words, it took a few moments for the news to sink into their hearts. They asked her whether she really meant there was a heartbeat, and she assured them that she did. Emotions went from grief to elation, but with reservations because of the other information that was indicating a miscarriage.

We continued to pray fervently for the baby, but the next lab work didn’t show any improvement in the hormone levels. By the third draw, the hormones had actually dropped, and other miscarriage signs continued. Again an ultrasound was ordered, but this time the results were what had been anticipated the first time. Melanie miscarried the next day.

Some of you have probably experienced a miscarriage or multiple miscarriages, the loss of a baby because of prematurity, or even the death of a baby or child after birth. Perhaps it was the death of a husband or another loved one. Maybe you are dealing with serious health or financial problems. Maybe your struggles are small as compared to these kinds of difficulties, but they are still issues you must face and deal with emotionally.

As we face these kinds of trials, we begin with a focus on the Lord, knowing that His grace is sufficient and His strength is made perfect in our weakness. That was the thrust of last month’s article.

One way that we can put our eyes on the Lord is demonstrated to us in His Word.

“For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). Our trials can seem to be too big, too painful, and too difficult to get through. However, when we realize that the time we pass in the midst of those problems is very small compared to the time we will spend in eternity, our hearts can be encouraged. Pain doesn’t last forever for the believer.

In addition, we aren’t left to try to manage disappointment, pain, grief, or any other emotion that comes from the crises of our lives alone. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 tells us: “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.”

God’s comfort is offered to me, but I have discovered that I have to receive it. When I allow my thoughts to think the worst, feel sorry for myself, determine that it is too hard, or question and blame God for what has happened or is happening, I am putting up a barrier that doesn’t let me experience His comfort. The focus is pity for myself at that moment, and it keeps me from experiencing His comfort, grace, and strength.

I have a responsibility as to what I will do with my thoughts. “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Look at what Job did with his thoughts in his greatest moment of emotional pain: “Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (Job 1:20-22). I want to have Job’s response of worshipping my Lord Jesus in the midst of the very smallest to the very biggest trials that I face.

When those fearful, overwhelmed, negative emotions try to rise up within me as I face a crisis or even a simple problem, here is what Paul did and what I am to do too. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). “Be careful for nothing” means that I am not to worry or be anxious. Certainly my natural response to difficulties is to be fearful, think the worst, or fret about it. Here we see that in every thing – big or small – I bring my request to God. I am not to do it with muttering, complaining, and self-pity, but rather with thanksgiving.

The result of that prayer is the peace of God. We have peace because the problem isn’t ours to bear responsibility for or to solve. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). If we feel the yoke is hard or the burden heavy, then we know that we haven’t given over the responsibility to the Lord Jesus. We are still carrying it ourselves or pushing to lead in the yoke when we should be following. Here again we are reminded of where our cares should be placed. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Next month I want to let you know what has happened with my mom and share more thoughts on what we do when life seems to turn upside down. I pray for each of you facing normal or unusual difficulties that your thoughts can move to eternity, that you will experience God’s comfort, that you will worship your Lord, and that you will cast all your cares on Him.

A Journey Through Depression

In one of Steve’s monthly homeschooling articles for dads, he mentioned that my bouts with depression were part of the reason we decided, at one point, to limit our family size. We were amazed at how many people e-mailed us, after that one sentence in his article, to ask how we had dealt with the problem of depression. It seemed fitting to put together our thoughts on a subject we would be just as happy to shove into the closet and forget was ever a part of our lives. However, there is the possibility that our experience and the changes the Lord has brought in this area might be helpful to others.1 Certainly, depression plays a huge role in the stealing of a meek and quiet spirit.

It has only been eight years since the Lord has given me freedom from the at-times-devastating depression with which I had struggled. It was usually worst during the year I nursed a baby. My pain through those difficult years was very real and is not that distant. I can fully understand the concerned feelings of a mom who is struggling with times of depression, and the worry of her husband, because that was our experience too.

I can’t point to a miracle cure, nor did I discover a twelve-step program to overcome depression. This is probably so I can take no pride in what I did but always know it was the Lord’s work. I will share what we see, in retrospect, about things that helped move me away from depression, and perhaps there will be something here that the Lord can use in another’s life.

One of my first lessons to learn was that the Lord works in His time. I wanted to be over the emotional downs right away. I didn’t want it to be “in process,” and sometimes I was even angry with God because He wasn’t helping me to be better right away. If He was the One to work in my life and I was still depressed, angry, and struggling, then it was His fault! That thinking was totally wrong, but that was how far off my ability to think truth had moved. I had to learn to accept my failings and sinfulness and wait on the Lord for what He would do in my life. It was not my time table. Philippians 2:13, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”

My depression was humbling because I knew I wasn’t what I should be or what He wanted me to be. I even confessed to my church family what was going on in my life. That was a start towards the healing process for me. The depression was no longer something I had hidden away in my private life. Rather, now the Lord could use the prayers of my church family to help me.

I stayed faithful to daily Bible reading and prayed through those dark times, even though I might feel distant from and forgotten by the Lord. However, in the midst of those black days, I was sometimes closer to the Lord than I have ever been. This was because I was totally helpless and needy, not knowing where to turn or what to do.

We discovered that there were very real hormonal imbalances that affected my emotions. I would do everything I could to deny this, but it was very obvious to everyone except me. What I could normally handle one day would send me into tears another day. I used the natural progesterone cream (can be found in most health food stores or see Note 2 at the end of this Corner) for a time along with vitamins suggested by our naturopathic doctor friend (You would need to research the vitamins on your own, because I no longer have that list.). I eliminated caffeine as well.

Daily exercise was critical at this time. I know daily exercise sounds impossible to an already depressed, overwhelmed, terribly tired mom. Exercisemy walks—were about the only time I was away from home. Just getting out of the environment that I was struggling with for a short period each day, plus the effect of the exercise itself, was very helpful. When I would begin to feel myself spiraling down, getting out would sometimes be the only thing that would change the course of my emotions.

Being tired was a sure way to put me off balance. I am a light sleeper, often being wakened in the night by a noise or perhaps the need to nurse a baby. After that, I wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep. For eight years now, I have worn earplugs (The soft, spongy type; see Note 3 at the end of this Corner) when I sleep. It has transformed my ability to sleep. I thought not being able to sleep was just a part of my physical makeup. Not so! Since I began wearing earplugs, I hardly ever have a sleepless night. Steve became the “ears” for our family, and I know he will wake me up if the children need me. (Earplugs may not be an option for a mom whose husband can’t do this.)

If you want to see what being tired does to even the most “spiritual” of people, look at Scripture. The story of Elijah running from Jezebel after the Mt. Carmel experience is a great example. Elijah was tired and this is what happened from 1 Kings 19:3-5, “And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat.” Sisters, guard sufficient sleep in your life very carefully. Don’t trade it for quiet late nights when the children are asleep, and you can have some peace. It isn’t worth it!

I discovered I made it best through a time of depression when I didn’t try to analyze what was causing it. It was better to accept my feelings—as Steve would encourage me to do—like a physical ailment to be patiently waited out. The more I ferreted for the causes the more discouraged and upset I would become.

However, the times I accepted the feelings and said, “Lord, I don’t like this, but I’m going to focus on You and not on me. I am not going to make any major decisions. I’m not going to root for the cause. I will just wait. If I wait, it will pass with no damage except for feeling down. If I think about it and talk to Steve about it, it will pull me further down, resulting in wrong thoughts and words.”

When Steve had run out of ideas for how to help me on his own, he found a pastor’s wife who agreed to counsel with me. Janice and I only met in person one time for an afternoon. She started by making sure that I knew I was saved (see Note 4 at the end of the Corner). With that assurance, she then gave me a couple of tangible projects to put my focus on the Lord rather than on myself. I called her a few times on the phone—at Steve’s insistence—but the path she set me on was exactly what I needed even though we didn’t have multiple “counseling” sessions.

Here are two of her projects. Perhaps they will be helpful to you as well. The first project involved learning to take captive my wrong thoughts—thoughts of being depressed or overwhelmed, thoughts that I was going to ruin my children, thoughts that I would never feel normal, thoughts of anger, bitterness, or defeat, thoughts of being overwhelmed. Those thoughts were all lies. Second Corinthians 10:5 is now one of my favorite verses. It says, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” I was to take my thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ! For example, the truth in regard to the feeling of being overwhelmed is that the Lord hasn’t given me one more thing than there is time to do. If there isn’t time to do it, then He doesn’t expect it of me. My family was better off with next to nothing being done and me being happy, then for me to try to do everything my expectations said needed to done while I was depressed and my mind running in circles, able to concentrate on nothing.

The pastor’s wife encouraged me to begin a notebook. She showed me hers. It was a simple 8 ½ by 11 inch three ring binder with “ABC” tabs in it. Behind the tabs she had notebook paper, each with a topic on it such as, “Anger,” “Discouragement,” “Discipline” etc. When she had her Bible reading time, she would take verses that applied to her and copy them down in her notebook under an appropriate heading. Then when she needed to think “truth,” she could open her notebook and read it.

I would suggest that moms, who are prone to depression, do some of this evaluating of what you are thinking and replace the lies with God’s truth. Begin a notebook such as I have described. If you can’t think of God’s truth—I know there were many times when I couldn’t—get your Bible or notebook out and find that truth. Read God’s truth. Speak it out loud if necessary! Sometimes, I would have to say the words of truth out loud because my thinking was so muddled and twisted that I could not concentrate on or accept the truth when it remained in my mind. However, when I spoke the words, my heart would grab hold of them!

For the second project, I was to have another section of the notebook titled, “Sin List.” Every time I sinned, I was to write it in the notebook. I was then to confess the sin to the Lord, repent, and ask His forgiveness. In my notebook, I would write “FORGIVEN” over that sin.

How do you handle it when you are depressed? Do you become more and more unhappy with yourself for being depressed and make a worse cycle downward? I would do that, or I would end up becoming angry with the children and “beat” myself up about that. In my Mom’s Corner, No Condemnation, I share how the Lord gave me victory over that cycle although I write of it in terms of the struggles I have now. However, the truths I apply with my current problems are the ones the Lord taught me in the depths of my need. Learning “no condemnation” came from the “Sin List” project Janice gave me.

I believe a most powerful change came when I made a decision before the Lord one morning. I remember showering and thinking, “Lord, I just feel like crying all the time. I am miserable. My family is miserable. I can’t seem to do anything about how I feel, but I can do something about how my family feels. I can act like I am happy whether I feel like it or not. My emotions don’t have to drive my behavior, and I can make that choice because of my love for my family.” Those reading this, who are living with depression, may think this would be impossible for them to do. I encourage you to test yourself. When you are down and go to church, can others tell by looking at you and talking to you that you are depressed? If you can make this choice to act differently than you feel there, you can do it at home!

I think if depression-prone moms could figure out a way to work on even a skeleton of a schedule, it would help. I have had many moms write me and say that when they are distracted, brain dead, or just overwhelmed that their schedule directed them through their day when they couldn’t make decisions themselves. If you have somewhat of a schedule in place, despite tiredness, despite feelings, many things would get done because it would be the easiest path to take – just do what the schedule says. Without my schedule, on those bad days, I would have just sat and cried. That would have made everything even worse because then I would have been a day behind! Plus you can let your schedule direct your children when you don’t have the energy to keep up with what you would like to be doing. At least they are accomplishing things rather than just undoing everything you have done.

If it is any encouragement, I asked my older children if they remembered the struggles I had during those early, difficult days of their lives. My older boys (21 and 23) remember nothing negative. Can you believe the Lord can blind our children to what is going on inside of us especially when so much of it is easily visible? My 18 year old daughter only remembers one time that I was really struggling. I don’t share that as a license to allow the hormones or depression to control your life and emotions. Rather I tell it to help you to not feel that it is ever hopeless because there is too much emotional damage already done to you and to the children.

Twenty-three years ago I would never have believed where the Lord has brought me in relation to depression. I thought it was impossible to be free of it, but I am. The process was gradual. I wanted it to happen right away. Looking back, fifteen years isn’t all that long to lose what was such a devastating, negative part of my life.

As women, God has created us such that there are emotions and hormones to be coped with. That is still true in my life. However, a disappointment, a “down” day, a discouraging situation is nothing more than that. These no longer send me spiraling through depression. They are simply normal burdens to be left with my Lord Jesus, while I rest in Him.

I pray the Lord will give each mom, who needs help in the area of depression, insight into what will make a difference. Steve always encouraged me that as long as my heart’s desire was to please the Lord, He would answer that heart’s cry.

Somehow these words just don’t come close to describing what all those difficult years were like, but my prayer is that you will sense in my heart a deep desire to be able to encourage moms that it can be better even if you are homeschooling, if there are more pregnancies and more babies, or if there are more challenges of any kind. My growing out of the depression was a result, I believe, of a process the Lord brought me through in the midst of homeschooling, pregnancies, and babies. Seek the Lord!

Love,
Teri Maxwell

The September 2000 Dad’s Corner also focuses on Depression.

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Notes:

1. We are not doctors; we cannot make medical recommendations. We are only sharing our own personal experiences. We encourage each of you to pray and research as you look for your solutions to depression.

2. The progesterone cream I used is called ProGest, and it is made by Emerita. There are many progesterone creams currently available, but ProGest is the only one I had experience using. Here is a link to it at Amazon (this is an affiliate link, so if you purchase something, the Titus2 ministry will receive a small portion: see our policy here).

3. You would need to research the vitamins on your own, because I no longer have the list.

4. The ear plugs I use are called “Classic” by Cabot Safety Corporation, 317-692-6666.

5. Scripture verses outlining salvation:

Romans 3:23: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 5:8-10: But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

Romans 10:9-10: That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Ephesians 2:8-9: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

God is Faithful

I’d like to share with you a section from my prayer journal I recently reread.

October 26, 1997

Lord, I feel hard pressed on every side–Steve’s job situation, the request for him to take on additional, outside-the-family responsibilities, the homeschool support group, the children’s illnesses, and Steve’s magazine decision.

2 Corinthians 4:7-12, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you.”

Lord, may this time of pressing be a time of my faith being rooted and grounded in Jesus Christ–no matter what happens. May the life of Jesus Christ be revealed in my life. Lord, I feel afraid of the unknown–of what the changes may bring.

Isaiah 43:18-19, “Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”

2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

Psalms 46:1-3, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.”

Sunday morning, Lord, and I am home alone with Jesse and Mary sick. It is the day before Steve’s lay-off. I feel hard-pressed and fearful, but You sent snow, my very favorite thing–pretty, white, peaceful, quiet. Lord, was it for me? A sign that You are in the midst of the pressure and fear?

I had completely forgotten that particular morning. Even the details of what was pressing on my heart had vanished from my memory until I read them on another quite recent Sunday morning when I was home from church with sick children.

I was so encouraged when I did read this, though, because I saw clearly God’s hand of faithfulness. Almost four years later, none of those pressures are a part of my life any more. The Lord walked us through each decision. The unknowns are now known and there was absolutely nothing to fear. The Lord was faithful to use His Word to comfort my heart then and now in reading back over what He gave me that one Sunday morning.

I don’t journal often, mostly when I am discouraged or feeling pressure from life in some way. At those times, it helps me to write out my struggles and to also put on paper Scriptures that apply to the emotions I am battling. Often, when I don’t write them down, God’s truth is pushed behind the force of my own thinking. When that Scripture is in front of me for me to read and meditate on, it helps me to take captive my thoughts and bring them into the obedience of Christ.

What about you? Are you struggling with keeping God’s truth in your mind? Perhaps you could take some time to search out applicable Scriptures and then write them out. You could keep them someplace where you can actually read them to yourself over and over.

Maybe you are finding yourself in the midst of decisions and other pressures. Can you look back and give God glory for His faithfulness to you in the past rather than dwelling on the uncertainties of today? As I look at other decisions and pressures Steve and I are faced with right now, this small page from my prayer journal four years ago shows me that another four years from now I probably won’t even remember what I am facing at this moment. Each difficulty and decision, taken to the Lord, is worked out in His timing with His plan.

May we, as Christian women, truly live out in our daily lives the truths of God’s Word that are so dear to our hearts. May we be encouraged as we look back on God’s faithfulness through the past week, month, year, four years, and more.

No Condemnation

It was the week to write a Mom’s Corner, but the Lord had not been revealing to me what He wanted me to write on. I presently have my scheduled writing time after my early morning devotions. This particular morning, I lingered in bed doing some extra praying before my scheduled prayer and Bible-reading time. I knew I had nothing yet to write and would spend my writing time praying. The basis for writing is prayer, so I was continuing to ask the Lord for His direction.

My time in Romans 8 that morning was so fruitful and encouraging that I felt strongly the Lord gave it to me for the Mom’s Corner. Let me share a verse I believe is especially applicable to us as homeschooling moms, and one that has personally helped me.

Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” I wonder if this is how we, as homeschooling moms, live–with no condemnation. It seems so easy to fall into the trap of self-condemnation.

One of my personal areas of greatest struggle is with my attitude and voice. If I am involved in a task and one of the children interrupts me, it is natural for me to respond to them with a short tone and an edge of irritation in my voice. My heart’s desire is to do as Titus 2:4 says, “to love their children” in all my interactions with my children. Am I demonstrating love by being unhappy with a child who interrupts? Of course not! If the child was being rude in interrupting, he may need training or correcting, but that should still involve a neutral tone of voice, or a pleasant one.

When I fail, what do I think? Usually it is one of two things. I can follow the path of least resistance, and this is what goes through my mind, “There I go again. I was irritated over such a small thing. Won’t I ever learn to handle these little frustrations with gentleness and kindness? I am such a failure. I don’t ever change!” Self-condemnation, lots of it!

My other choice of thoughts comes from focusing on the Lord. These verses in 2 Corinthians 7:9-10 have greatly changed my thinking and dealing with my sin. “Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” While these verses may be dealing with salvation, I have found personal application in them to my walk as a believer.

My thoughts of guilt and self-condemnation are the “sorrow of the world” that worketh “death.” What benefit is there to my family, or to me, in those kinds of thoughts? Do they bring about change in my life? Do they encourage me to depend on the Lord Jesus Christ? Absolutely not! They actually keep my focus on myself and allow me to wallow in self-pity.

On the other hand, there is “sorrow to repentance.” This is the sorrow that is fruitful and productive. It puts these thoughts into my mind: “Lord, You are surely not pleased when my words do not show the fruit of Your Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith. My irritation and anger is sin, Lord. I confess to You my wrongdoing and ask You to forgive me.” No condemnation!

What benefits are there to me and to my family with these thoughts? First, it is the reality of the joy of “no condemnation.” It is the truth of 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Here is freedom and joy rather than guilt and self-pity. The Lord is freed to work in my heart. He is the One Who will do the changing in my life. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

I know that I am more able to love my family, if, when I sin, I confess and repent of it, and ask for the Lord’s help to overcome it, than when I head in the direction of “poor me, here I go again.” Confession and repentance relieves the burden of trying to be the one to bring about a change in this area of my life where I am prone to failure. I can’t do it anyway, but when my thoughts are wrong, it makes me feel like it is my responsibility.

How often does self-condemnation take this form in our thoughts? “I am ruining my children by this homeschooling. Look at what a bad example I am to them. They are learning all my negative traits and following in my areas of sin. I just don’t have the patience to deal with them twenty-four hours a day.”

Yes, there have been times I have thought these thoughts, although not for the past several years. Is this the way God would have us think? I am sure you would agree; it is not. If we are a bad example, we need to be confessing–never excusing or justifying–each incidence of sin in our lives before the Lord and our children. We must repent of it and prayerfully submit to the Lord. If we lack patience, we should look for the benefits the Lord has for our children and for us by allowing a “furnace” in which to learn patience. Can we ruin our children if we are following the Lord in obedience to what He has called us to do, and we are walking faithfully with Him? No, of course not!

All of the negative thoughts are self-focused. We have to set them aside and take them captive to the truth the Lord gives us in His Word. “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

As I walk in the Lord’s path of “no condemnation,” my children learn how to deal with the sin in their lives. They see a humbled mother coming to them and confessing the irritation in her heart and the negative tone in her voice. There are no excuses, simply repentance. These children will battle sin throughout their lives. If I were ruining them, it would be from teaching them to look at self and feel self-condemnation for sin, rather than to look at the Lord, repent over sin, and be grateful for forgiveness. I would be failing my children by modeling worldly sorrow, rather than sorrow to repentance.

I challenge you to take a critical look at your heart and thoughts when you fail. What are you thinking? Is there self-condemnation, or are you confessing and repenting? Are you falling into self-pity, or are you experiencing the joy of walking with the Lord Jesus in “no condemnation”? May we encourage each other to not follow what comes naturally, but to walk in the truth the Lord has given us of “no condemnation.”