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Category Archives: encouragment

The Empathetic Psalm

Did you know there is a difference between empathy and sympathy? Yeah, I didn’t either (nor had I really thought about it) until a couple years ago. It was around that time that my best friend (Natalie) found this video which, you really should watch:

Empathy vs. Sympathy

I’m going to let you in on a personal secret. Whenever Natalie or I are having a particularly bad day, we will usually whisper to the other person, “It’s dark down here.” We both know the reference and know what the other person needs.

It’s been pretty dark lately. There hasn’t been any big, terrible event. I’m just flat-out depressed. I feel numb, emotionless, and worn. When other people say they are running on Jesus and Coffee they usually laugh, but for me, that is dead reality. No joking.

Psalm 88 is one of the unusual and rarely read Psalms. It’s not like the others. It doesn’t start out with the author in pain, despair, or depression and end with him full of hope. It actually starts and ends pretty much the same. I would really encourage you to read the whole thing but here are some snippets of it:

“I cry out day and night before you” 

“For my soul is full of troubles and my life draws near to Sheol”

“I am a man who has no strength”

“You have put me in the depths of the pit”

“I am shut in so that I cannot escape”

“O Lord, why do you cast my soul away? Why do you hide your face from me?”

“I suffer your terrors; I am helpless”

And on it goes. You read that and tell me that the author didn’t struggle with depression. You read most of the Psalms and tell me that. It’s pretty low.

But when I read these words, I feel empathy from men that lived thousands of years before me. Men who firmly believed in God’s perfect will but struggled with their hearts and minds. The author even admitted (I love this) that God was loving, faithful, wonderful, and righteous in verses 11-12 of this Psalm but only to say that he wouldn’t be able to tell of these things if he died.

It’s even encouraging to me that this Psalm doesn’t end the way all the others do. We don’t like to sit in darkness and depression and we DEFINITELY don’t like to sit with others during those times. But sometimes that’s where God has placed us or those around us.

Sometimes empathy is asked, not sympathy. Sometimes life is more like Psalm 88 than Psalm 89.

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2019 in encouragment

 

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It’s Lent for Me

Two nights ago I was laying in bed exhausted. But I was thinking and one thought just kept coming to my mind. “Lord, I wish it was Lent.”

Which is a totally weird thought for me. Growing up, we didn’t celebrate Lent at all. In fact, I secretly thought that the only people that did anything with Lent were Catholics or super legalistic people. I didn’t even really know what it was to be honest.

So you can imagine my surprise when I became an adult and found out that quite a few of my friends give up things for Lent. Still didn’t really understand it….but I came to the simple conclusion that it must not be a Catholic thing after all. It was a mystery to me honestly.

Last year I decided to do some research to figure out this whole LENT thing. I found out that it was the time period between Ash Wednesday (hmmm…wonder when that is…) and the Saturday before Easter- 40 Days. Which represent the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness. And that a lot of believers use that time to give up something from their life and focus on Christ instead. Of course it can be something legalistic (like most things) but it doesn’t have to be.

So I decided to give it a try. I thought of something I wouldn’t want to give up but would probably give me more time to spend with the Lord. *Netflix* Annnnddd…I hated it. Truly. It’s not like I watch a ton of Netflix but I didn’t realize at the time how much my brain used a stupid baking show or Andy Griffith to wind down before bed. And at the time I couldn’t do much reading so I felt trapped and stuck. But I did it for the 40 days and decided I didn’t want to do Lent again. Great attitude, right?

You may be wondering then, why I was wishing it was Lent the other night? Because deep down, I wanted to be done with social media for a while. It was just one more thing for me to keep up with and it was wearing me out. And I know that isn’t the purpose of Lent, to give up something because you are done with it. But inside I was thinking that people would understand more during Lent. They wouldn’t think I was weird or crazy. I KNOW it’s pride, people!

And even as I thought that to myself, my…small…inner rebel spoke up and asked, “Since when did you start caring so much about what people think?” HA!

Inner rebel for the win, I’m off social media. And it’s such a relief. I expect I will miss things and my blog stats will plummet and I. Don’t. Care. When something isn’t drawing me closer to Christ, out it goes. Christ stays, but the world doesn’t.

So right now I’m just sitting here enjoying my early Lent. How about you?

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2019 in encouragment

 

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Let Me See Redemption Win

I woke up this morning feeling the epitome of one of my favorite songs. So much so that I listened to it on my drive to work:

I’m tired
I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes to keep on breathing

I’ve made mistakes
I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world
And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart that’s frail and torn
I want to know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
‘Cause I’m worn

(Worn- Tenth Avenue North)

This week has worn me out, friends. I’ve been filling in for someone at work while she’s on vacation and let me tell ya, I thought I was pretty confident in her workload until she wasn’t sitting there watching me do it anymore. Suddenly moving big chunks of money around without guidance became stressful. I made (and fixed) mistakes all week long. I’ve felt a little lost and forgetful over stuff I think I should remember.

I’ve also been in several long meetings and working on things I’ve previously committed to. I don’t have phone service throughout the day where I work so my phone gets bombarded with texts as I drive home. Yesterday by the time I got home, I had 21 unread messages and that was just since lunch time! None of these were, “Hey how are you doing today?” type messages. All of them required some sort of action or decision from me. And people wonder why I turn my phone off sometimes.

So this morning when I woke up, I felt worn. Another line in that song particularly stands out to me. It says, “I’m worn, even before the day begins.” I feel that way every day so I identify with that on a very deep level. But even more so today.

As I was driving to work, freezing because my car can’t beat this kind of cold, I came around a turn and this view hit me:

You probably can’t even see it, but there is a beautiful sunrise and right in front of me, a faint rainbow. I could even see the other side of it. And softly playing on my radio was a song about God’s faithfulness. I breathed a sigh. Yes. Thank you, Jesus, for the reminder.

Yeah, I’ve had a crappy week. But not all of it. And yes, I’m stressed and overwhelmed. But that doesn’t change who God is or what he has done. He is constant and faithful. To ALL his promises. I was reminded of the flood and how he has kept every. single. one. of his promises before, since then, and will continue to do so for eternity.

What song did I listen to on my way home? Another favorite:

Hallelujah, praise the One who set me free
Hallelujah, death has lost its grip on me
You have broken every chain
There’s salvation in Your name
Jesus Christ, my living hope

(Living Hope- Phil Wickham)

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2019 in encouragment

 

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Delighting in the Lord (Link)

Gooood Morning! Here’s my latest guest post over at Guys with Bibles! Have a fabulous day!

Delighting in the Lord

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2019 in encouragment

 

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Birthday Cookies

Today is my birthday. I woke up this morning at 5am with an unusually bad headache. Like really splitting to be honest. I did not want to be awake and I did not want it to be my birthday. I certainly did not want to get on stage at church this morning for the ministry minute I was scheduled for and excitedly explain how Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes work.

I had made a point of telling Natalie that I didn’t want a point made of my birthday. Honestly it’s been a stressful month. Coming off your parent’s insurance when your work’s insurance doesn’t kick in for a few months is hard and there are a lot of details to figure out. I wasn’t happy about the day and in fact, had pretty much forgotten my birthday was coming up.

But I don’t like to be grumpy when other people are trying to celebrate so when my Sunday School class sang me Happy Birthday, I smiled and thanked them. And I did the same for every sweet person that wished me well. And I successfully got my ministry minute pulled together (with some awesome volunteers!) and smiled the whole time.

I got home from church and tried to give my attitude a stern talking-to, but the screaming pain in my head just made me lay on the couch, wishing I could enjoy the beautiful day outside.

And then suddenly, I got the urge to bake some cookies. I know that sounds weird but I haven’t baked anything for no reason in a while and I (almost in a daze) got up and started getting out the ingredients. It wasn’t until a few minutes later, when the dough was finished and I was getting down my cookie sheets, that I saw what had happened.

I looked down at the dough and realized I had just made the cookies from memory. My memory. I had remembered. This is my Dad’s family recipe and I’ve had it memorized since I was at least 10 but the last time I tried to make them, I had to call my Mom because I couldn’t remember it. And I hadn’t made them since.

Yeah, I know. It probably doesn’t seem like a big deal to you. But it was to me. And I was so thankful that I burst out crying like a little baby.

This has been a hard year. Harder than most people know. And as I sit here typing, I know my problems aren’t all gone (still have a whooper of a headache.) But I am thankful for what God has taught me and for the fact that he is continuing to lovingly teach me.

Even if it’s with cookies.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2018 in encouragment

 

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Shout-out to Moms

Today was my day off and this morning I was asked last minute if I could help in my church’s VBS nursery. I didn’t really have any pressing plans so I showered really quickly and walked over. I LOVE the nursery by the way. I’ve always loved working with kids and 0-5 is my favorite age. From the time I turned 13 until I moved away from home, I did more babysitting than I can remember. I don’t think a week ever went by that I didn’t babysit for someone or something. And I loved every minute.

But with all the health stuff, it’s been a while since I held some babies so I was more than happy to oblige. Ummm…guys…it was EXHAUSTING! Seriously! I literally can’t believe how tired I am hours later! I’m pretty sure those kids just zapped the energy right out of me!

At one point, I was rocking a sweet baby and yawning (trying hard not to think of the two long hours that I still had to keep awake) and I realized that the other three ladies with me were all moms. The one was causally telling a story about how many times she gets up in the middle of the night to nurse and how many times her other kids wake her up just to ask simple questions. And the others laughed and nodded knowingly.

What??! Here’s the deal. Sleep is and always has been very important to me but even more so now. The little amount I get is a precious thing. I thought about how SO. VERY. TIRED. I am all the stinkin’ time and realized that I just have myself to take care of. And I can barely handle that on some days. And here these moms have all their kids dressed, out the door, and at VBS by 9am AND were talking about going strawberry picking after it was done!! I knew exactly where I was going when it was done and that was to lay on my couch. I sat amazed.

Now, I realize that my health issues complicate matters for me and that I take three medications that all have a top side effect of sleepiness. But I also know a lot of moms with health issues too. Like my mom. She’s awesome.

So I would just like to give a big shout-out to all the moms out there! I’m not quite sure how you do it but thanks for letting me love on some of your little ones today.

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2018 in encouragment

 

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The Cemetery Saves the Day

I consider myself a well-hydrated person. By which I mean, water is the only thing I drink (except hot tea) and I drink more than most people I know. I drink about 75-100oz of water a day. So whenever I’m not feeling well and people question if I’m dehydrated, I just laugh. I don’t think that’s it.

However, the other day, I was a little behind on my water for the day and I decided to go for a walk. A walk these days could be anywhere between 5-9 miles and it was a nice day so I picked a loop that I knew was about 8 miles and headed out.

I was about 5 miles in when it started. I realized I was actually sweating (which isn’t normal on a simple walk for me) and my mouth was a little dry. I checked my phone and saw the horrible thing. The temp was 86 degrees with a 44% humidity. (I’m a cold weather kind of person. Shoot me.) Hmmm…guess I wasn’t prepared for the real summer weather yet…oh well…can’t really help it now.

So I kept going but it just got worse. My mouth and throat were SO dry and hurting! Soon I was consumed with a single thought- water. I just need a drink of cool water. Okay, Lord, it doesn’t have to be cool, just ANY kind of water. A creek. Puddle water. Images of ice cubes, bottled water, condensation, and swimming pools(?) filled my head. I started to wonder how long it took for sunstroke to set in?? (Dramatic, right?) I was so thirsty that I thought to myself that if I saw someone out in their yard I would have absolutely no problem going up to them and asking for some water. That’s how desperate I was. But the countryside was completely deserted. Seriously, the ONLY person I saw outside was having a showdown with her toddler and I wasn’t about to interrupt that. I thought begrudgingly that probably everybody was inside enjoying their air conditioning like smart people instead of walking around, about to DIE!

I thought of a rivers and fountains. And nonchalantly, my brain thought of the verse where Jesus declares that he is the living water and whoever drinks of him will never thirst again.

And that’s when it hit me over the head like a brick. For over 30 minutes I had LITERALLY thought of only one thing and my mind never strayed from it. Water. I was SO thirsty and I asked God right then to give me that same thirst for him. That desperate, unquenchable desire to know him more and to love and obey him better. I’ve never had a more vivid parallel or understood that verse better in my whole life.

But it wasn’t over. I was still about 1/2 mile from my house, passing by a cemetery. A car was parking and I thought, “Maybe those nice looking ladies have some water. A half mile still seems like a loooonngg way.” I watched them as they checked the flower pots near a headstone and heard one say, “Yeah, they’re pretty dry.” I struggled painfully to swallow and thought, Me too.

As I got closer I kept watching and saw one of the ladies pick up a jug and carry it away. I saw in disbelief as she got to a red water pump and filled her jug. I looked across the cemetery and it seemed as if all the headstones just dropped into the ground and suddenly all I could see were these little red water pumps! Did you know they have those?? I walk by this cemetery all the time and I’ve never seen them!

I was so excited that I quickly (but um, respectfully) clambered to the one closest to me. I turned it on and nice cool water came out. I’m sure it wasn’t the cleanest and I. Don’t. Care. It was the best water I’ve ever had. I drank and splashed it on my face. A car drove by me and I almost hesitated because I didn’t know what they would think and then it hit me again that I still didn’t care. I felt so much better that I laughed and briskly walked the last part home. Just so thankful for water.

But that also reminded me of something else. Sometimes we let fear of what others think of us keep us from talking about Jesus, our Living Water. I want to desire him so much that I simply don’t care what others think of me. I want him to be my single thought and goal.

(And today I took a walk with a water bottle.)

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2018 in encouragment

 

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