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!
Today is the last day, the last day of homeschool for 2015-16. You might wonder why homeschool educators mark last days and first days in our homeschools especially since we’ll probably end up doing some work over the summer. (which the flexibility of homeschooling allows us to do) The answer is simple, really. It allows us to mark endings and beginnings. We take stock and see how much improvement there has been from the first day until the last day. And not just for one kind of growth either. We mark academic, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual growth. All of those kinds of growth are important to us.
And, for my younger son, who is the only student I’m still homeschooling, there has been plenty of growth this year. Some of the growth has been the usual growth you would expect from a sixteen-year-old. Physical growth and growth in academic ability. As his mother and his teacher, I am proud of all the strides he has made.
I am most proud though of the strides he has made in other areas. I am proud of how he has learned to navigate life without his older brother who started college this year. I am proud of the kindness and love he displays to other people. I am proud of his willingness to help with what needs to be done even if it’s something he’s not sure he can do. I am proud of how he stuck with a difficult situation and difficult people this year even though it wasn’t pleasant for him or pleasant for me to watch. And I am especially proud of how he has let his Lord and Savior direct all his efforts. I’m looking forward to a great summer with him and his older brother. But, first, the final call for this school year. #honorGodaboveallelse #Godhasblessedus #GreatjobJohn #sophomoreyearisover #herecomesajunior #soproudofmyyoungman #character
Hope everyone has a great day!
This might not seem to be a good topic for a writing blog, but bear with me for a minute. All of us have fears. Some of them are more extreme than others and more noticeable, and some of them are private and in our own hearts. We make fun of some fears like when people play pranks on other people by throwing a fake snake or placing a fake spider in the way of people who are afraid of the real thing. It’s not a nice thing to do, and I try to respect others who have those kind of fears because I want to be respected myself when I give voice to any of my fears.
One might ask why it is so hard to give voice to a fear. I would think one of the reasons would be the one I just mentioned. We do not want others to make fun of our fear. It’s very hard to have a fear and not be taken seriously. Another reason might be because we all have a hard time letting down our shields. We have a persona we show to the world, and if we admit to a weakness like having a particular fear, holes are made in that persona, and the real person is exposed. Most people don’t want their real selves exposed, and if they expose them at all, it’s to a very select group of people. And finally, there is a possibility that if we give voice to our fears, they might come true. For some people, that would be the scariest thing of all.
But, if we can voice or write down our fears, it might take us one step towards lessening them or even eliminating them. For me, as a writer and as a woman of faith, this can happen in one of three ways. First, I can use the particular fear as a fear for a character in a story I am writing. By writing about that fear, I can take the character through mastering it and not letting it impact their life. This can helpful as a cheap form of therapy. Second, I can write about the fears as myself and as I’m experiencing them. This can be a way of giving voice to the deepest parts of me and can help with what I’m most afraid of. Third, and somewhat related to the second, I can pray, pray with my voice and write down my prayers in my journal. God wants to hear about all the details in our lives including the things we don’t want to admit even to ourselves. 1 John 4:18-19 says, “There is no fear in love; instead perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because He first loved us.” I can’t add anything else to that so I won’t.
Have a great day everyone!
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!
This week has started off as a week full of emotions, and I don’t think it’s going to stop. Thursday is a day I never envisioned coming 18 years ago when my oldest son was born. Yes, he will be 18 on Thursday. 18 years old. You don’t think of what a short time that is when they’re born. You just think of everything that’s involved with having an infant, and you think of how much time you’ll have. In the grand scheme of things though, 18 years is not a long time. And, according to our society, 18 years of age, for the most part, is when people are considered to be adults. We are doing things this year in preparation for the leap to adulthood. Things such as deciding on a college and registering for the Selective Service.
But, my mind churns with memories of how much my son has blessed my life. From running out to greet his father when he came home from work, to working hard on his schooling, to sitting on my lap and learning about the computer, to playing baseball, to reading Jotham’s Journey during Advent, to asking the most important question he asked over two years ago, my son has blessed my life. You might ask what that most important question was. It was the question, “Mom, can we find a church to go to? I want to find a church.” (We had moved to a new town.) And in the 2 1/2 years since that question was asked, we have found a church home and a new family and my faith has been restored. My son has gone through his high school years in this church and helps to lead worship now on Wednesday nights as well as being an active member of the youth group. He has also continued to play baseball and do well in school. I am so proud of the young man he has become, and I am especially proud that he is a young man of faith. Thank you, God, for blessing me with the privilege of being my son’s mother!
Didn’t have time to type this up yesterday, but the final entry in my third journal still is relevant.
The beginning of another month and the end of another journal. Can’t believe I have filled three journals this year. That’s a lot of words! I’ve found out so much about myself through my words, through putting them on the page, through being as honest as I possibly can. And through that process, I’ve grown stronger and braver. I’m coming into my own as the daughter of God I know myself to be. It’s funny it’s taken me so long, but I’ve been on a journey, a journey of sad times and of happy times–this journey called life. I’m excited about going forward and figuring out this thing called faith. See you in the next journal!
As I ponder what I wrote yesterday, Psalm 33:22 comes to mind. “May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.”
Hope everyone has a great day!