Cross-posted from my Thriving in Grace blog.
Facebook memories can be a funny thing. They can also be one of the things to inspire a blog post as they have this morning. I was looking over my memories earlier and saw that on this date, four years ago, I published a post about writing quotes, https://writewhatyouknowdotorg.wordpress.com/2013/10/03/writing-quote-thursday/. I looked over the post and smiled. It was a fond memory of where I was as a writer four years ago and how far I’ve come since then.
Learning never stops though, and between this Facebook memory and the challenge issued by the writing blog, Positive Writer, http://positivewriter.com/7-inspirational-quotes-that-could-change-your-life/, I thought I would do another quote post today and talk about different quotes and what they mean to me.
I’ve been working on myself this year and how my faith in God brings me closer to the person He wants me to be. It’s a struggle. All of us come to Him with baggage. Heck, all of us have baggage, period. One of my struggles is believing in myself so the quotes I have chosen today reflect this struggle and how far I’ve come. They were all encouraging to me in different ways. Here is the first one.
“We are all unique, and have our own special place in the puzzle of the universe.” – Rod Williams
This reminded me of Psalm 139 which has become my Scripture reading of choice when my confidence lags and my insecurity reigns.
“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.” – Booker T. Washington
When I think about this quote along with what I’ve had to overcome with my faith, I don’t feel as insignificant to God as I felt on Sunday when my church was doing a ground breaking ceremony. People tell me that I mean a lot to my church, but sometimes I just don’t see it. I know I mean everything to God though, and that is what counts the most.
“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human experiment.” – E. E. Cummings
I feel like this is what I’ve done with my blogs over the past four years. I’ve published words I wouldn’t ever say out loud, except maybe in my pastor’s office. 🙂 I’m not successful like the world defines success, but I know God has a purpose in the words I share, and that is the success that means the most.
“Always be yourself, and have faith in yourself.” – Bruce Lee
This is so plain it shouldn’t have to be spelled out, but I’ve had to work on it anyway. I’m the person God made me to be, and He doesn’t want me to change though I have tried.
“You are braver than you believe, smarter than you seem, and stronger than you think.” – Winnie the Pooh
This is my favorite of these quotes. It teaches me to reach beyond my thoughts and feelings about myself and live the way God wants me to. God gave us thoughts and feelings, yes, and we are to express them honestly. But, He also wants us to have our value rooted in Him and no one else.
And finally, the last quote.
“We are made to persist. That’s how we find out who we are.” – Tobias Wolff
For awhile, I forgot how to persist. I’ve been so busy trying to make myself into the person I thought God wanted me to be that I lost track of who I actually was. No more though. My words are who I am and writing them down is my best way of honoring my God-given gifts and being true to myself and the person God is growing me to be.
Hope everyone has a great day!
It’s been a long time since I’ve written in this blog. So long, in fact, that I thought people had forgotten about it. But people are still finding this blog and following it which has been pretty amazing in and of itself. This has brought me to a decision. I’m going to start cross-posting the posts I write for my Thriving in Grace blog, https://alisarussell.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/following-jesus/, in this space to attempt to revive this blog. And come up with some original material for you all to enjoy too.
I’ve never made a secret in this blog of being a Christian, and that is where today’s topic comes from. Hope and redemption–two words that are used often in Christian circles. I never considered though that there might be a distance between them until the other day.
First, to gain some clarity, let’s define each of these words. Hope is to cherish a desire with anticipation or to have trust and reliance while redemption is the act or process or an instance of redeeming. Those of you who are Christians might have also heard of redemption being spoken of as the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil.
So, hope is a desire and redemption is action. Both are spoken of in Scripture. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Romans 3:24 says, “and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (the action Jesus took by dying on the cross for us)
Both of these are necessary for the Christian faith. If there is hope without redemption, no change is ever made, and we won’t experience God’s love in this world. If there is redemption without hope, we are just doing good deeds without knowing the why behind them. Therefore, it is possible for a distance to develop between these words like I spoke of earlier.
I’ve experienced this distance myself in recent weeks, and I wasn’t sure why. A distance between me and my Lord and Savior. Human beings do a good job of hiding their inner selves from the people around them. We can even hide the deepest part of our souls from ourselves. Of course, they’re not hidden from God, but he can’t start to help us or start the healing process until we are willing to let them bubble up to the surface. That takes us being willing to ask ourselves the hard questions or having trusted people in our lives who are willing to ask us the hard questions. I had one of those moments last week, and once he asked the question, and I answered, I felt the layers of distance between hope and redemption dissolving through the tears. It was not something I had considered, but it was something which was totally correct. It was rejection and insecurity from my past I had not dealt with.
Oh, I thought I had, and maybe to a certain extent, I had. But, I was under a mistaken impression which God corrected in those moments in that office and in the moments for the rest of that day. What was that impression, you ask? I thought I could deal with and then put rejection and insecurity in the back of my heart, and it would stay there, never to come out again. It took me awhile, but with God’s help and my friend’s help, I finally figured out life doesn’t work that way.
That was what brought me back to the distance between hope and redemption. I can’t work on my issues until I’m willing to take action and bring closure to the distance. God wants me to take my fear of rejection and my insecurity to him each and every day when I wake up. This will not be something I will ever “get over”. I will leave these fears at His feet and pick up the truth of who He is and who I am in His Kingdom as I live this crazy messed-up life of mine. The distance between hope and redemption disappears as I know without a doubt I am God’s daughter, and nothing will ever change that!
God’s blessings on you all today!
This morning I’m going to let the words flow and see where they take me. I’m overwhelmed, overwhelmed with sorrow, and I don’t understand why. No, I understand why. It’s depression in its finest form. I’ve been told I do well with writing down things in order to understand them so that’s what I’m going to attempt by giving you a glimpse into my life with depression.
First, let me reassure you I am under the care of a doctor and am on medication to help me cope with this disorder, Sometimes though, it gets the best of me like it has for the past few days. I feel, today, like I have ants running around in my head. They’re fire ants so each time they bite I want to stop and scratch, but because they’re inside my head, I can’t. So, each nibble hurts and doesn’t stop hurting. It’s hard to explain the feeling to someone who has never experienced it, but this is the pain that’s been in my head for the last few days. One side of me is saying I can’t cope with this by myself, and the other is saying that being by myself is the way to go. So, I have a war going on inside of my head–not the way I wanted to start my day if I was being honest.
I do know God is with me. I know He is holding me and won’t let go. I have a strong faith that I’m not renouncing or denying just because I struggle with depression. Some Christians would say that my faith couldn’t be strong if I’m admitting to this, but to them I would say, ‘Talk to me after you’ve climbed out of the pit as many times as I have’.
No, what I’m fighting is feeling like I need to be by myself with no other human beings around. Feeling like no one wants to bother with or understand my struggle so why should I bother. Yes, that’s the battle. I feel alone so I think I need to be alone. What makes this more difficult is my status as an introvert. Being alone feels like a present to me even when I shouldn’t be alone, and I have to fight extra hard to push myself out into the world.
Another thing that makes my battle with depression more difficult is feeling like I can’t talk about it. People want to try to fix me when I talk about what’s going on inside my head like they would fix someone with a physical illness. It doesn’t work that way with a mental illness though. Yes, there are medicines which I take. For me though, depression stays at the edge of my brain, even when I’m in a good place, watching, seeking, wanting to devour the things in my life that are good. When I’m feeling at my worst, it accomplishes all it has set out to do. What I need from others when I’m in this place is a chance to talk, cry, or pray, but I don’t feel like I can ask because I suffer from depression and not a physical illness.
So, this is my battle today–wanting to isolate myself from the world. Sometimes I win these battles quickly and am able to go into the world with a renewed heart. Sometimes though I have to crawl into bed and wait for a new day to come so I can fight again.
I hope this has given you a glimpse into the world of someone who fights depression. Thanks for reading!
The last few years have been a journey for me as far as my writing is concerned. I’ve started and maintained two blogs though I’m sure I could have been more consistent with my writing schedule. I’ve written and published posts about the things I’m passionate about–my faith, my family, the novels and stories I like. There are more options than there used to be for making words readable by people you don’t know. But, what I haven’t done is to put my writing in a place where it might be rejected. Yes, I know I could get negative comments on my blogs, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about submitting something to a publisher and having said publisher tell me that my piece is not what they’re looking for. Essentially, a rejection. I’m not sure why I haven’t done this. Wait a minute, yes I am. Who among us likes to be rejected? Don’t we want to think that anything we have to say would be valuable enough to say to an audience? If we are telling the truth, at least to ourselves, we don’t like to be rejected, and we don’t want to take the chance we will be rejected.
I’ve realized something though, and it has to do with the post I published last week about my word for 2015. For those of you who missed that post, my word for 2015 is refined. Last week, I wrote about what this word has to do with my Christian faith, but I believe it can apply to writing in general. I’m sure those of you who have written longer than I have, know this little truth, but putting it in relation to my faith has helped make it clearer to me. Submitting my writing and having it be rejected will refine me as a person. It will make me a better writer and, I believe, a better person. If writing is really my passion, I will keep going and keep submitting no matter how many rejections I might get. So, for 2015, I am going to start submitting pieces. I am going to go through the fire of rejection and come out the other side, living my passion along the way. I invite you to do the same.
I’ve read where a lot of my friends have picked a word to reflect what they want to do with the new year, how they want it to represent them. The concept intrigued me, and after some thought, I’ve come upon my own word. That word is refined.
I was refined in many ways in 2014. Ways that might be considered as bad by some people, but ways that also stretched my faith in more ways than you could possibly imagine.
God has a point in refining us though. Malachi 3:2-3 says, “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who will be able to stand when he appears? For He will be like a refiner’s fire and like cleansing lye. He will be like a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will present offerings to the Lord in righteousness.”
I look at these verses and understand that being refined should be my heartfelt desire as a woman seeking to grow in her faith. And would hope that being refined would also give breath to the words I want to say. So, for 2015, this poem by Jennifer Kennedy Dean represents what I want most for my life.
“Oh, Lord, who can stand when you appear?
The splendor of Your presence near
Then knee shall bow and tongue proclaim
The pow’r of Your majestic name.
My hungry heart cries out for You.
No earthly substitute will do.
Refiner’s Fire, come near to me
For unveiled glory, let me see.
A heart like Yours, my one desire.
Do Your work, Refiner’s Fire.
Your holy Fire now burns within
And purges every secret sin.
My life the bush, Your life the Flame
That leaves me nevermore the same.
Your life in me ignites the Fire
That now fulfills my heart’s desire.
The Spirit’s work, my life made new,
Transformed within, ablaze with You.
A heart like Yours, my one desire.
Do Your work, Refiner’s Fire.”
Happy New Year!
Yes, yes, I know I haven’t been around in awhile, but rather than give a bunch of apologies, I’m just going to go right into the topic I want to cover today.
The title of this article is “The Most Important Relationship.” Each of you probably has a definition of what your most important relationship is, but for me, my most important relationship is the relationship I have with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Even though I’ve been a confessed Christian since my teens, I used to not think like that. Church was in a line with all of the other things I needed to do, something to check off a list. And with my thoughts leaning in that direction, it didn’t take long for me to be disillusioned with the church, the people at the church, and finally, with God. I had been taught that people who called themselves Christians weren’t allowed to show faults–that once we had claimed Christ, we were perfect and nothing changed that.
Of course, it’s not true, and I know that now. But back then, when people who said they were Christians treated me badly, I didn’t know what to think. And when the bad treatment continued, I became discouraged and gave up on all of it. I turned my back on the church while still saying I had faith.
I was out of the church for many years. When we moved here, I started visiting a church and then eventually “joined their journey” as they called it. What a breath of fresh air! No longer is it that all Christians are supposed to be perfect all of the time. There has only ever been one person who was perfect–my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And now that I know that, my study of Scripture, my relationship with God has become deeper, more meaningful to me. It truly is the most important relationship I will ever have. I also know that the people I worship with, my Christian brothers and sisters, are going to mess up, and I will mess up too. I just need to remember to ask for forgiveness.
Have a great day!
So, I am back after a one month break. It was a good break as I was able to reflect on why I write, why I enjoy putting words together. And I paid attention to the people and things around me for my inspiration. Did I get all the things done I wanted to get done? Well, no, but isn’t it usually how that works when you take a vacation?
Anyway, we are into December now which is always a very special month in our family. Between now and the first part of January, three of us have birthdays. That makes the holiday season very busy as we try and make sure each birthday person has a special day between all of the celebrations for Christmas.
But, Christmas actually celebrates a birthday too. It celebrates the birthday of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I could go into the history of how the holiday came about, but that’s not what I want to do today. In an earlier paragraph, I said that my family tried to make the birthdays this month special for each person when it was their day. What do we actually do though when we celebrate Christmas? We buy presents for each other and for ourselves. We get into fights in such places as Wal-Mart or Target or Best Buy to get the particular item we want at a bargain price. Is that what we have turned into as a society? I could almost understand this type of behavior from people who don’t claim Christianity. But, there are those who are Christians who do the exact same thing. I think it is sad.
It is not all sad though. There are many people I know and many people I don’t know who don’t make the season of Christmas about themselves. They have the spirit of giving which is how I believe Christ would want us to celebrate His birthday. He would want us to think about others and not ourselves. He would want us to consider our relationship with Him if we claim him as Savior. These are all things I’m going to do this year as I celebrate the Advent season with my family. This year has been such a year of renewal in my own life–with bad times and good times. The one thing I know for sure though is whose I am. I am God’s daughter, and He is my Lord and Savior! I wish all of you a joyful Christmas season!
Hope everyone has a great day!