O Taste and See that the Lord is good {dispelling depression during the holidays}

Those moments come… and you hope they go. You hope they flee more quickly than they settled over your head, your heart, your soul. The darkness creeps in again and you find yourself lost inside your own thoughts… and numb. When in a season, meant to be \\Full\\ of \\Thanks\\ you find yourself struggling to be Thankful… You know it is not the TRUTH. You know the TRUTH will set you FREE but the lies have a hold and the desire to BE set FREE seems too far out of reach so you turn numb.

When His whisper sweeps over you softly and says ~ Speak up. Speak out. Speak Truth. Speak MY Name. The darkness will flee. MY light will overcome it.

Freedom comes, but with a price. What were meant to be Joy-Filled Memories are overshadowed by the lies that settled in. Regret becomes your default reaction. The JOY you have is being assaulted by a familiar enemy. Feelings of frustration, anger, disappointment and sorrow swell until your Truth is distorted, and the pattern repeats.

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This sounds depressing and it is. I have been here before. Depression had come to my door, let itself in, and settled down for a visit. At my table. In my heart. More times than I would like to admit. No one wants to be depressed during the season of Thanks, but there are some who are. There are some, like me. We know Truth. We know who He is. We know what we carry, and we fight. We fight for freedom. And we win, but not without a battle. Not without a cry. Not without a cost. Not without a sacrifice.

The way I see it the lies we believe are tailored to who (we know) we are. They are fiery darts, custom made to attack our very core and distort the Truth of our identity… You’re not good enough… You’ll never have enough time… You’ll never feel healthy again… Here you go again – feeling down for no real reason… What do you have to be depressed about anyway?

I see the faces set before me, the JOY set before me. My family, my friends, my Savior. Countless reasons to GIVE THANKS, Yet for a time it will not shake. But I will not be silent. When I speak HIS name, darkness flees. Freedom Comes. Truth remains. Forgiveness settles in.

The greatest threat to depression is a VOICE. When you speak out, it is no longer hidden. The light overwhelms the darkness. Peace overwhelms my soul. Our greatest weapon (to protect our souls) is our WORSHIP.  When I worship. When I sing. 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.”

Joy has come and dispelled the depression once again. I have tasted and seen the Lords goodness. I have tasted and seen His love, His freedom, His peace, His forgiveness. I am grateful I can indulge in who He is this season. His love is better than any Thanksgiving Feast. Even better than the green bean casserole and apple crisp 🙂

Have you struggled with depression? Does it seem to settle in at your table during the Holidays? You are not alone and I would love to hear from you! Please share and know YOU ARE LOVED! In Him, Leslie

Pursuing Love

We’ve been given nineteen years of love days together. This Valentines day was our best. one. yet. We had a wonderful date of adoration and conversation… No, this date was not filled with fancy clothes, flowers, jewelry or a lavish dinner… none of those things, really. We did not give each other gifts… we gave each other ourselves. We knew ahead of time we would not exchange gifts, we rarely do. Our expectations of each other were met, not by wants of material things we do not need, but the ease of an evening simply being together.

Our kids were well taken care of, unbound by any time frame, thankful money was no worry. We set out for a hole-in-the-wall middle eastern restaurant… Adam had a coupon for, of course. I love my thrifty man 😉 We prefer our own home cooked food to most restaurants, and enjoy cooking together, so we typically have low expectations of food when we eat out… yet we always hold high expectations of the coffee shops we frequent. We’re weirdos, I know.

We meandered our way thru downtown Portland, enjoying moments, even those we spent in traffic. Parking spot scored, with coupon in hand, we strolled on over to the restaurant. The owners greeted us and we settled in at our table. Their place is tiny, with only 5 tables, bustling with local customers coming and going. After we ordered, we observed everyone in the space was speaking Arabic, and greeting the husband and wife owners as if they were their own parents. Even though we were the only Caucasians in the restaurant, and I was the only female, besides the owners wife, we felt at home.

As we waited on our food, we were both in awe of what God was orchestrating. We were in the middle of another country, in the middle of Portland, Oregon, we were on our mission field. After we finished our food, the owner asked us how everything was. We told him the truth – they were the best gyros we’ve ever had. He began sharing about the restaurant and how he has been running the business. As we talked more, he came and sat down with us and we talked more. He was hilarious, sharing stories of how he took over the restaurant a few years ago, and made many changes, including not accepting coupons anymore – darn! 😉 But we didn’t care about the coupon, we only cared about the fact that our Valentines date was now being spent with an old Arabic man sharing his life story…

As we continued the conversation, we asked him, “How can we pray for you? How can we pray for your business?” He opened up, and we began to share with him our walk with Jesus. Adam told him he was a Pastor. Their response – “A priest? You’re too young to be a priest!” He hears that a lot from people, and he’s been serving in ministry for 20 years. He shared his own convictions and how he sees his relationship God… how he honors Jesus, Moses and Allah. I asked him more about Jesus… “How do you see Jesus?” He did not see him as equal to God or as Lord, but a prophet. We agreed to disagree, and after talking more, Adam shared with him John 14:6 and Jesus’ claim to be the only way to the Father. We talked with him for an hour, He kept saying, “I love talking to you about religion. It makes me feel good!” Their business began to pick up again, and he had to start cooking again. We thanked him for the wonderful food, said our good-byes and practically floated out of the restaurant.

Our date was spent sharing the pursuing love of Jesus with this precious man. Afterwards, we went to a coffee shop and had the honor to meet and pray for 2 more people the Holy Spirit connected us with. Throughout the whole evening, as Adam and I worshipped and talked about God’s furious love for us, His love could not be contained within us. The overflow of His love poured out of us and onto those we came in touch with.

We had the best Valentines date… in fact, the best date of all time. The evening ended with a deeper understanding and revelation of God’s love for us and His love for others. We were rested, refreshed and renewed from the amazing moments we shared with each other and others we met. We are honored to be used by God and look forward to the next person Holy Spirit leads us to!

For Valentines and every day, I am a girl who longs for the presence of God in every moment. Flowers will die, clothing will become outdated, jewelry will fade, fancy dinners will go down the toilet… but God’s furious love is everlasting and is the only treasure worthy of my pursuing. 

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God will stand forever.” Isaiah 40:8

Do you know God’s love? His love changes everything. The pages are open to share your story… feel free to comment, ask for prayer, ask questions and share this blog. Our stories rage on… In Him, Leslie

Go to Hell

I am, what some might refer to as, a hot head. 

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Me, age 11 (bottom right) with my family at Knotts Berry Farm 🙂

My temper flares, my patience unravels, my emotions explode… and sometimes collateral damage is shed on those around me.  I am not a hot head, just for the hell of it. There is always a logical reason stirring beneath emotions which can lead to my eruptions. Sometimes I do fly off the handle for no reason, but most of the time, there is a completely logical reason, underlying the outbursts – I become enraged when it comes to acts of unfair treatment. My anger stems from my desire to see justice.

When I was growing up, I wanted to be a lawyer. Why? There were 3 reasons I was planning to go the law route, which made perfect sense to me: I was good at yelling, I was good at arguing and I had an overarching desire to see justice. In school, I loved studying, talking about, and writing reports on subjects like the Holocaust, racism and abortion. I enjoyed discussing why things in our history were wrong. Unjust. Should. not. have. happened (and should not be currently happening) Yes. I was a fun child to be around.

While ideas of what actually constitutes injustice might vary, even varying levels of injustice, my interpretation is from Micah 6:8 “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with Your God?” As a kid, and now as an adult, I desire to see justice. I desire to love kindness and to walk humbly with my God. All of these actions are forms of love we have a responsibility to live out as Christians. As a Christ follower, I have a life calling to do justice. 

I never became a lawyer, but I am still responsible for justice.  Growing up, I had no problem bringing the court into the playground and standing up for justice. Kids can be mean! I sensed a calling to be the playground policewoman. I placed myself on the stand as the judge, responsible for pounding the gavel and calling the bullies into order, and sentencing any unfair treatment my ears heard about or my eyes laid hold of… at school, on the playground, and at home.

One afternoon, my brother and I were playing in our front yard, creating sidewalk chalk masterpieces on our driveway. At the time, I was 11 years old and my brother was 9. Two of our neighbors, who were brothers, came over and began to bother us. They started throwing water balloons around our chalk artwork, and I told them to stop it. They did not stop and continued throwing the water balloons, each time nearing closer and closer to us, threatening to hit us with one of their balloons. It may appear as innocent water play, but their actions were not innocent. Unfortunately, we had a like/hate relationship with these brothers. Some days we could play together having a great time, and the next day, they would act like jerks and treat us like crap. Some days they were our best friends and other days they were our worst enemies. I knew that. They did not stop throwing the balloons, even though I had asked them kindly to do so.

So. I. Snapped. 

“GO TO HELL!” 

I yelled at the brothers and they ran home.

My brother and I ran inside to tell our mom what had just happened. Heavy breathing, holding back tears… we cried out to our mom, “It’s not fair! We were just playing, not bothering them. They wouldn’t leave us alone. I told them to go to hell!” Our mom, listened with understanding ears, and gently corrected my overreaction. “Perhaps, next time you come inside and ask me to help you before telling them to go to hell.”

A few moments later, <<<knock, knock, knock>>>. The brothers mother was at our front door. “Did your daughter just tell MY SONS to go to hell?” Yes. My mom calmly replied. She asked their mother, “Did your boys tell you what they were doing to my kids first?” That shut her up. My mom was fully aware of our on again/off again friends/enemies relationship with the brothers. She knew how they sometimes treated us. She was proud of us for standing up for justice on the driveway.

Today I still desire to stand up for justice. It is at the core of my every longing, intertwined with my very being. The injustice in this world is daunting. My heart cries out for all forms of injustice of every form, especially the injustice which takes shape as modern-day slavery and sexual trafficking. Anyone can google statistics on these subjects and become informed. The more information we know, the more we become aware of the level of injustice happening today. The more we are aware, the more we can intercede and pray. The more we intercede and pray, God will show us how and where to respond.

I have asked the Lord, “Why won’t You just eradicate slavery and human trafficking?” You can end it with a miracle. I believe these are the most unjust forms of behavior in our world today. And I believe God is eradicating this injustice, through His people. There are many amazing organizations praying, working and rescuing. One of the most life changing documentaries you can see on this subject is Nefarious: Merchant of Souls. Warning: it is not for the faint of heart and it will change your life.

So I asked the Lord, “Why?” and His answer has come in many ways – through His people. God is asking me, He is asking us, ‘Who and what are we fighting for today? Who and what are we defending today?’ We are all called to do something. I believe it is time we stand up, take notice, become informed and become the everyday justice police in our families, on the playgrounds, in our communities, and in our world. It is time to tell human trafficking to “Go to Hell!” We must respond to the call – As a Christ follower, I have a life calling to do justice.

In Him, Leslie

*You may disagree with my “Go to Hell!” approach for a start to calling out injustice. What’s Yours?