weeping may endure, but joy comes in the mourning.

A familiar visitor came to my house…
I was faced with feelings I didn’t want to have.
The desire to turn numb, to stop caring, to give up…
Silently those feelings crept into my heart.
Discouraged, depressed, disgusted…
Everything turned ugly. 
Anger and irritation toward Adam and the children took the helm of my attitude.
Words exchanged between Adam and I, clanged in my ears…
My children’s inquisitive nature became an annoyance…
Their crafts on the table infuriated me.

Their messy faces from playing in the dirt outside overwhelmed me. 
Their petty fights sounded like a world war. 

My mind raced with angry thoughts and questions…

I was overwhelmed, overtaken, overcome by the ugliness I perceived as reality.
Depression had come to my door, let itself in, and settled down for a visit. In my kitchen.
I had to tell it to “Get the hell out!”
I recognized the familiar symptoms of pain and despair early on.
As those feelings clung onto me with their last effort, I took a moment to call out the depression for what it was, and began healing.

I went on a walk, and waves of weeping came.
A while later, I went downstairs to lift weights and I wept more. while I was trying to lift weights.
I was on my face.
I could not stop weeping… and I did not want to.
The Holy Spirit began to overwhelm, overtake and overcome me.
As the depression tried clinging to my spirit with one last effort, the weeping washed it away.
As the tears ran down my face, I could see more clearly.
I began to see Truth.

It could have been much worse.
I have been there before.
When despair and anger take up a chair at my kitchen table and stay a while longer. 
When the feelings become my reality for longer than a few moments.
When the whole day is spent crying and frustrated.
When the floor of my car is covered in kleenex at my feet, and I blow my nose so much, my nose ring falls out. 
Those times are hard. They are really tough.
And I’ve been there.
But I don’t have to stay there. And neither do you.

One thing I have asked of the Lord is to see. 
To see things like He does.
To see people like He does.
Including myself.
He loves me so much.
He loves this world so much.
He is breaking my heart for the people He loves. the things He loves.
When my eyes are focused on seeing Him, He will move me to weep for the people He weeps for, and for the things He weeps for, even more than myself.
He will move me to pray for the people and for the things He loves.
He will restore my Joy.
And I will not be silent.
I will be honest about the weeping, and sing praise thru the depression, as my Joy returns.
And I will say, “O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.”

Have you struggled with depression?
I’ve been there.
I’ve seen my joy returned.
And I know He can restore your joy too.
Praying for your journey… feel free to share.

In Him, Leslie

Psalm 30:5b “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning…” 
Psalm 30:11-12 “…You have turned my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, to the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.” 



february was a rough month for us…
wrapped up in our family and life circumstances, stress abounded, fighting resounded and weaved into all of the frustration, i have not stopped coughing like gollum.

nothing unusual.
nothing earth shattering.
just life.
tough circumstances visit everyone on this planet. stress makes itself at home in our houses. disappointments knock on our doors. frustrations take root in our backyards. no one is immune.
we all view what makes up stress, frustrations, disappointments and tough circumstances differently.
we see from the lens of the life we live. our perspective.
how we choose to react is what makes us unique.

we have chosen to wallow in our self pity. we have allowed it to suck our life away, steal our joy and frustrate our spirits…but not for long!

in the past month of coughing like gollum, i’ve been talking about being sick and how i wish i was feeling better and woa is me and blah blah blah. and it hate talking about sickness. and adam hates listening to me talk about it .
one night i could not stop coughing, adam was laughing at me and suggested i try laughing when i felt a cough coming. and it worked. HA! each time i felt the need to cough, i would yell HA instead. yep. i sounded crazy, but i didn’t cough the rest of that evening. for that one night, i was cough free. if you have a lingering cough, you should try it sometime. my joy returned.

in the past month, selah has been refusing to go into her children’s ministry class. this may sound like no big deal for some…*but for a pastor and his wife leading worship, it can be a big deal to have their three year old sitting contentedly thru a church service for approximately 100 minutes.  
this past sunday, she was unusually feisty, refusing to go into class. she laid in the hallway while every one else, including our children’s director, walked around her. no one was shocked by her antics.
i had to leave her there to begin the service with worship. my stress rose up and my attitude went downhill. adam went to check on selah as we began service almost ten minutes late. during that first song, my heart began to change. i see adam bringing selah into the sanctuary. my frustration with her was gone. she wanted to be with us and in worship. my joy restored.
then during adams sermon, she sat with me, quiet… until she hit a point of boredom. i was ready to take her out of the service… she yells out ‘i’m tired!’ and in the middle of his sermon, adam responds to her, “i’m tired of you crying.” it was hilarious. we all started laughing. she quieted down a few minutes later and fell asleep beside me for the rest of the service. whew.

our kids argue and fight, which i know might be hard for you to believe. yes. they do. they are not ‘perfect pastors kids’. those don’t even exist, btw. and when they do, my emotions can snowball into getting upset right along with them. but those times when i am full of joy, i respond differently. i start laughing, which immediately makes the tension lighter. they look at me for my response… “just take it outside, go ahead, beat each other up.” then they look at me like i’m crazy because they know i’m not being serious. suddenly, whatever was frustrating them melts away.  sometimes, we make them hug it out as their punishment. and other times, if i sense attitudes rising, i just smile and say “you betta check yo’ self!” that’s always a good one 😉 oh and we adults are not exempt. a pastor and his wife can argue too. we get so upset with each other over the silliest things. thankfully, we insist on always communicating and won’t stay mad at one another for long. laughter breaks up the arguments. joy replaces the anger.

these are just a few life circumstances we try and eventually laugh about. they seem trivial after we ‘check ourselves’. they aren’t life or death situations or anything… but we have experienced deep pain and chosen joy. we have lost our jobs, struggled thru deep disappointments, felt wounding rejection in relationships, experienced the loss of a child thru miscarriage, and just a few weeks ago, we said our earthly goodbyes to my grandpa.

we chose joy when we almost lost salem at three months old. that night he was sleeping in his crib and adam felt the Holy Spirit prompt him to check on our little ‘bubs’. he was barely breathing and turning blue. we called the squad and the next thing i know, we were in the back of an ambulance being rushed to children’s hospital. he had every medical test known to man done to him. he was poked, prodded and prayed for. at the hospital we called our families and church for prayer support. after we knew salem was out of immediate danger and stabilized, i reverted to making jokes. it was my coping mechanism. we were under such stress. we were in the hospital for five long days and celebrated our christmas that year in salem’s hospital room. upon his release from the hospital, he was perfectly healthy. the doctors had speculation, but after all the test results were in, there was never a finite answer for the cause of his almost death experience. he was released from the hospital: cause unknown. 

we know prayer can change anything. we trust that God is in control of all circumstances. we chose joy in that stressful time of our lives. upon returning home, we watched salem every night for several months, worried it might happen again. we are so grateful that now he is a healthy amazing six year old boy!

this might all sound like silliness and simplicity. but we choose to laugh in the face of stress and frustrations. smile in the face of our disappointments. and choose joy in the midst of our all circumstances.
we will put our hope in Christ and choose joy!

the apostle paul is one of my heros when it comes to having joy in all circumstances. he was shipwrecked, hungry, tired, imprisoned, and lived with a thorn in his flesh. he suffered adverse circumstances and severe persecution, and he maintained joy at all times ~ all for Christ.
paul talked about his suffering. he never pretended it didn’t exist. i don’t know why – in the american church – we ever started doing that! keeping silent or pretending about what your circumstances are is the worst way to handle things. it will isolate you from the community Christ has called us all to. and the enemy can more easily discourage and defeat those who isolate themselves. God Himself was three-in-one {Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit}.
paul remained in community whenever he could. he was authentic with what was going on in his life. he was honest about his aches and pains. but he didn’t dwell on them. he didn’t stay in the pit of despair. he relied on the community he was called to serve for their support. he gave thanks in all circumstances and encouraged them to do the same.
one of my favorite books in the Bible about maintaining joy in all circumstances is Philippians, especially chapter 4.

if you are discouraged or despair in your circumstances, reach out to Jesus, to others, find a healthy church community and read Philippians.
then take time to laugh loudly {LOL!} in the face of your distress and give thanks in all circumstances.