What happened this week? Two celebrities that many people admired and believed in are gone. Both of them took their own lives and left behind young daughters. It is profoundly sad and tragic. As I think through this horrible loss, I realize once again how little we know about people and the pain they carry inside. These people did not just decide in one day to take their own lives.. there is history here. More than likely they were struggling with depression and despair for years before this happened. Anxiety and depression are at epidemic proportions in our country and possibly around the world. We live in a broken world and it is so easy to feel overwhelmed and under water emotionally. When someone in the public eye decides to take their own life.. it causes widespread grief to spread throughout the culture and the world. Why? We never saw it coming.. they seemed to be doing so well. Yet we are faced with a different reality.. obviously they were not doing well at all and maybe someone should have seen it coming.
So we have to process this loss and hopefully we will take it seriously by realizing that many people are struggling with the desire to end their own lives. The suicide rate has risen 25% in the US since 1999. That statistic tells us that something is terribly wrong. For many of us.. life is nothing like we hoped it would be.. either our dreams are not coming true or they have come true and we still feel empty. Either way this world does not seem to have much to offer us. We need more than the fulfillment of our desires to hang on to..we need someone to turn to when it gets so bad we cannot see a way out. Without faith.. we are totally lost. We were never meant to do all this alone. I remember knowing this when I was a child growing up in an atheist home with unbelieving parents. Somehow I realized that I could not do life alone like they were.. my heart longed for the Living God. Eventually I found out that He longed for me too and that was 40 years ago.
So today.. so many years later I still know that I cannot do it alone.. especially in the middle of the night when the tears are flowing and the hopeless tries to take over. He is my refuge and my sanctuary and He will rescue me as I call out to Him. I truly hope you are in relationship with this amazing God who gave everything so you could come to Him, rest in Him and trust Him.
Don’t entertain any self-destructive thoughts.. find someone to talk with and never make a rash decision that you have nothing to live for.. You are the beloved child of the Lord and He knows you and accepts you and will never leave you.
This has been a very difficult year so far and it does not show signs of letting up..trials continue and seem overwhelming at times. In the beginning of every year I hope for an easier time in the next year and for a long time that has not been the case.. in fact it seems like the opposite has happened. Each new trial is more challenging than the last.. time to take a look at that. What is God up to? He could intervene and remove the challenges..He is able to smooth things out so they are not so rough. He allows these tests to come into my life and He brings the storms.
Do I have answers for you? No.. I don’t. All I know is that He is at work and He is in control. His plan is unfolding daily for my life and for yours. He is doing things in us through the suffering. Unfortunately that is the way it seems to work.. we are being drawn closer to Him because we feel like the next wave of disappointment or grief will drown us. For me.. as I am aging and facing things I never expected.. I find that nothing matters as much as I thought when it comes to this life.. It all seems so important doesn’t it? We long for things and dream dreams about our future.. yet it is clear we were not made for this world. So much heartbreak and sadness in our lives and the lives of those around us.
As a counselor, I may be more aware of this than most people. I hear the stories.. I see the sadness in their faces.. women of all ages. Their lives are very difficult and their past is far from perfect. I have no illusions about the condition of the world or the condition of people’s hearts. As I work with others.. the Lord works on me.. going deeper and drawing me into a greater dependence on Him and His spirit.. I suffer with them and cry with them.
Why? Because He is the comforter.. not me.. He is their savior, not me.. He is the one who will bring healing.. not me. We need to know our own limitations if we are going to walk this walk. We cannot fix or change anyone. God is the one who will save them..rescue and restore them. He is also the one who will do that for me..we are all in the same boat. That makes me think about the disciples when they were in the boat at sea and a great storm came upon them. They were frightened and thought they would die.. but their Lord was with them and He calmed the sea. He appeared to be sleeping and unaware of their dilemma..but He knew and He rescued them and saved their lives..despite their fears and unbelief. He does the same for us.. we are like those disciples.. forgetting who was in that boat with them and imagining the worst.
If you are in a storm right now.. remember that you are not alone. If you think you are drowning in a sea of depression and despair.. stay close to Jesus.. rely on Him.. trust Him to come to for you.. He always does.
We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone.
I posted this two years ago.. on this date.. I hope it brings you peace as we leave 2017 and enter a new year. I am also leaving behind a decade of my life and entering the 7th decade.. may the Lord keep us and protect us as we trust HIm!
Here we are again.. can you believe it? Just two more days before 2015 is over. This is a time for looking back and for looking ahead. God gives us this window of time to reflect after the busyness of Christmas and before the beginning of 2016.. For me it is a little more intense than I would like since my birthday is New Years Eve. I literally start a new year of my life when January 1st rolls around. I am reminded of how fast time passes and how long I have lived. When you are young it is easy to look ahead with some excitement.. as you age it is a little scary. My body is wearing out and I am fighting to stay healthy and strong. My grandchildren are growing up and I want to be here as long as I can to see them as adults and hopefully to see their children.
As I look back on 2015 I see moments of great faith and moments of failure. I remember the days when I felt like He was so close I could touch him and I remember the days when I wondered if He even knew I existed. Yet I know that God made me the way I am.. He knows my pain and He appears in the middle of my brokenness to remind me of His sovereignty over my life. I imagine that you can relate to my struggles and I want to encourage you..to remind you that God knows our hearts.. He knows what makes us dance for joy and what breaks our hearts into a million pieces.
Looking back I see things that I am grateful for.. ways that God has moved to change me and to guide me into a deeper place with Him. I see healing in my life and in the lives of those around me. Some of us received gifts that we were waiting for and some of us are still waiting. This morning as I visited with a friend and saw how God was giving her a wonderful blessing that she had been longing for I was struck with a thought that I knew was from Him. He said ” I am in the delays”.. when we wait and pray and hope.. He is in that season with us. We are not forgotten or set aside. He keeps our desires close to His heart and at the right time He delights in surprising us with the very thing we hoped for.
So.. let us enter this new year with confidence in the Living God…our Creator and our Provider. Our hearts can rest in His presence trusting that He will come for us.. He will rescue us.. He will heal us and He will shower us with blessings in 2016.
Yep! We are still in that season.. almost all the way through March until we get to Easter Sunday on the 27th. This is an interesting time of year for my husband and I. We met on the day before Easter in 2001 and got married on the day before Easter in 2002.. we actually picked that day because of the significance of Easter in our relationship.. and of course there is our last name which is Feaster! So this season is a big one for us. We celebrate our anniversary soon at the end of March and the date we met which falls in the middle of April. I try to pay attention to what God is doing since He really got my attention almost 15 years ago when we met. It was a huge change for me to get married again after being widowed and having two bad marriages. The good new is that Steve is the love of my life and we have a really good relationship that continues to grow and thrive.
We’ve been though many trials together starting when we got married and both lost our jobs. It has been a pretty wild ride so far with lots of change and losses. So here we are many grandchildren later.. between us we have 13. Most of them were born during the last 15 years. God did something great when he brought us together, not just for us but for everyone in our families. It has been amazing and I am so thankful. Just a little background for you and some great reminders for me!
So what does God want for Lent? I don’t see this season so much as a time to give up things as a time to give things to God. What I mean is ” what is God after?” That is the question that I keep asking myself and Him. I got the answer this morning after reading the story of Moses not being able to enter the promised land. I have always wondered why that happened.. what did he do that kept him from entering after 40 years in the wilderness. Well.. it was actually pretty simple. He did not obey God. God told him to speak to the rock to bring out water and he struck the rock. But there is more.. he struck the rock in anger and frustration. He was angry with God’s people and he took out his frustration by hitting the rock and acting like he was making water appear. Not only did he decide to handle things in his own way, he made himself the center of things. God told him what to do and after leading Moses for all those years.. I imagine He thought Moses would do it.. that Moses trusted Him enough to speak to that rock calmly.. to show the people that God was providing what they needed.. but he failed and he did not enter the promised land.
Wow! That story totally struck a nerve.. I saw myself all over the place. My own anger and frustration with God’s people, my own desire to control things instead of letting go and doing it His way. Then I discovered what God wanted from me during this season. He made it really simple so I would not forget.. He wants my doubts, fears, and unbelief. These are the things that are under the surface of the anger and frustration. He wants me to trust Him so i can enter the promised land and not just see it from a distance. I am so grateful that He revealed this to me right now.. there is almost a month until Easter. It gives me time to show Him that I am listening to Him. A revelation of this type needs to be followed by acts of obedience that show God that I am taking this seriously. I won’t go into detail but there are things that need to change in my behavior and decisions and attitudes.
So as you seek Him during this season, don’t be afraid to see yourself as you truly are.. He is showing us things so that He can breathe new life into us.. Let’s agree to give Him what He desires for Lent.. Easter is coming soon!
Today is day 11 of Lent. The season is 40 days and lasts until Easter… we are about to enter the second week of Lent officially starting tomorrow. Interestingly as I have started taking this season seriously.. God has been revealing things to me. It seems that the pattern is the same during Lent and actually any other season. Once I decide to eliminate some things that take too much time(and in the end add up to nothing) God moves into the empty space and speaks things I need to hear.
First I decided to spend less time on the computer and that meant getting off Facebook.. then it seemed like He asked me to give up something that I thought was a positive in my life. I sensed the Lord asking me to let go of trying to help people with problems that seemed overwhelming. As a counselor.. that is my work and I understand the support I give people is needed and part of God’s plan for my clients and for me. Outside of this setting.. I can be a type of rescuer.. wanting to fix people and give them lots of my time and energy.. So it was very interesting to realize that I need to have better boundaries in my personal life and trust God with the people who are struggling. He continually reminds me that I have limited energy and He does not want me to be depleted by taking on burdens that don’t belong to me.. This has been a process for me.. it is not something new, but this time He is going deeper and asking more from me.
It is all a matter of trust. Trusting Him to help those I cannot help. Trusting Him to comfort and encourage the brokenhearted. Trusting that He will bring others into the places I cannot go. So.. I am continuing the journey and asking Him to forgive me for the things He is identifying in my character that I need to give to Him and trusting that this will be a fruitful 40 days…believing that I will see things in a new way by the time we get to Easter!
I have posted a few pictures of my little Lent art journal.. staying in His word and creating art together is rich and a good use of time:)
I spent most of my Christian life never really appreciating Lent. Many churches don’t acknowledge this season and seem to ignore it. I am not sure why but I suspect it has to do with rejecting ritual or tradition. I feel like I was missing something all those years and this year I have embraced Lent in a new way. I started googling Lent and scripture and came up with some very interesting websites. Many of them seem to spring from the more contemplative stream of the faith. As I began exploring and reading things from each site I suddenly saw an opportunity. Traditionally people give up things for Lent and I understand the reasoning behind this.. although admittedly I have not done much giving up during Lent in past years. This year I am joining in with giving something up.. that something is Facebook. I have only been on Facebook for less than a year and I have to admit that I think about giving it up permanently every time I visit the site.. Actually giving up Facebook the first time I was on it.. 5 years ago.. resulted in my starting this blog.. So here I am again thinking that God has a plan for me to do something that I can only understand if I quit that site and free up the time that it takes from my life.
So since yesterday was the official beginning of Lent.. Ash Wednesday.. I stopped visiting the site and sure enough.. here I am back on my blog. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I love writing and I have not been very inspired since I started wasting so much time. I also started an art journal for Lent.. an idea that emerged today and I am very excited about sticking with it for the entire season of Lent. I am journaling a new scripture every day for the 40 days of Lent.
The first day has been inspiring and I hope to draw closer to the Lord as I am faithful to listen each day and create my art journal. This is the type of project anyone can do.. you don’t need artistic talent and you definitely don’t need lots of art supplies. Any little journal or even one that you make yourself will work. At the end of the 40 days you will be able to look at what you have done and realize how far God has taken you by being intentional and focusing on Him every day until Easter.. For my journal, I took watercolor paper and cut it into small rectangles and punched holes in the sides. I tied them together with ribbon and that was all there was to it.. very easy. I hope to do a different type of thing on each page.. giving the scripture reference and a phrase that jumps out at me. I plan to post some pictures of what I am doing as I go along.
So why not do something creative this year and let yourself enjoy Lent. Yes you might have to give something up to make this happen.. but think about how much you will gain in the end. This season only happens once each year and it ends in a celebration of the life God has given us! Preparing for the celebration will bring thankfulness and joy into our hearts and we will have those things to offer up to Him!
Over the last week or so I have been doing Bible journaling. When I first heard about this idea.. I have to admit I did not get it. Why would I do art on the pages of a Bible.. it almost seemed wrong. Yet.. I was intrigued by the idea since I enjoy journaling and have been working on various art journals for the last couple of years. My daughter.. knowing nothing about this.. gave me a journaling Bible for my birthday two weeks ago. OK.. it was time to push past whatever was holding me back.
I started watching videos on Bible journaling and saw examples of how people were doing it.. I decided to step out and try it.. doing a few things on the first page of the book of Hebrews.. a book I am studying right now. It was interesting but I was afraid of ruining the pages.. then I learned about gesso and ordered some. It coats the page so you can use watercolors and other things without totally ruining the other side.. Loved that idea and tried doing a couple of other pages. I was happy with the results and wondered why I was suddenly eager to do more.
Well.. this morning after I woke up I had a realization. As I was working on the pages of the Bible..decorating and creating art.. I was responding to God’s word in a new way. My art was a form of worship. For almost 40 years the Bible has been a huge part of my life.. I have read it over and over and there are so many passages that God has used to comfort and encourage me.. Now I am giving something to Him.. I am responding to His love letter with color and shapes and words that express my love for Him..It was a surprising revelation that I want to share with everyone!
We have a God who created the heavens and the earth and He made everything beautiful.. for us. He made us in His image..we have creation all around us and we were made to create! When we create, we touch the heart of God..we join forces with the Holy Spirit to bring something beautiful into the world.. it is a powerful experience. Creativity is a part of the human experience.. it slows us down and draws us away from the madness of this world. I hope you can find an outlet for your creativity and that it will become a refuge from the busyness and the noise that surrounds us.
“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good”