The How of Eating (And a Giveaway)

On July 28, 2000 I gave birth to a beautiful little girl named Kayla. It was a scheduled c-section for several reasons, and it just happened to be Kathie Lee Gifford’s very last day on “Live With Regis and Kathie Lee.” Random, I know, but the show was playing on the TV in the surgery prep room, and my OB/GYN, Dr. Elliot Greenberg,  joked about what a landmark day he’d chosen for the birth of my third child. We don’t celebrate Kathie Lee on Kayla’s birthday, but now I’ll forever know how many years she’s been retired from her show with Regis.

(By the way, Dr. Elliot Greenberg at Baystate OB/GYN is awesome.)

Little Kayla had to spend some time in the NICU due to gurgly breathing and fluid that didn’t get properly pushed out of her lungs, but when I finally got her back into my room, I requested an appointment with the lactation consultant. Initially, my nurse said yes to booking an appointment for later that day, but then she reviewed my chart, saw that I’d birthed and breastfed two other babies, and suggested that I didn’t need any help with lactation.

But I really did. Though I’d done it for six months with each of my two boys, I never felt like I was doing it quite right. Not only that, but I wanted to nurse this little girl longer than six months, and I was in need of some expert “how-to’s.”

I love how-to’s.

How to train for a half marathon.

How to better manage time.

How to make buttercream icing.

How to say good morning in Greek.

How to get the pinwheel to stop spinning on my Macbook Pro.

How to best pack a suitcase.

Anyway, that’s a very long introduction to this post, but I’ve been thinking that I didn’t really explain, in my last post, how God’s Word made me well.  How did it work? What were the steps?

I think I mentioned that a few Bible folks – Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and John -were asked (or chose) to eat God’s Word, and though it sounds weird, I think that’s exactly what it requires.

We have to eat it.

Just like actual food, we have to sit down and partake of it regularly. We need everything from a quick breakfast to a four course dinner. Better yet, and I think the argument can be made from Scripture for the exact opposite: a four course breakfast and a late night snack. (See here, here, here, and here!) Either way, we’ve got to ingest and digest it regularly. Just like food to our physical bodies, the nourishing Word makes us well.

So how do you eat it?

It sounds so simple, but the answer is that we’ve got to read it.

And can I say very gently here that Jesus Calling does not count? Nor does My Utmost For His Highest, or Streams in the Desert. And just so I’m stepping on everyone’s toes here, neither do Morning and Evening or Valley of Vision.

Many of those devotional readers are both encouraging and edifying – protein packed snacks that will carry you through the afternoon with your cup of coffee, or send you off to sleep with a satisfied belly. But they just really aren’t a good substitute for reading chunks and chapters and whole books of God’s actual Word.

It would be like eating a Cliff Bar for every meal.

So, how do you read it?

When I was in that season of darkness and despair, I did a couple of things. I read two chapters of the Old Testament and two chapters of the New Testament every day. Depending on how fast you read (and how long those chapters are), it could take as little as 15 minutes or as many as 40. (At that rate you could read the whole thing in a year. Remember this?)

The other thing I did was work through two different Bible study workbooks, both written by Beth Moore: Esther and Living Beyond Yourself. Not at the same time. Just slowly doing a page or two a day until I finished one, and then starting the next one.

And here’s what happened: Since God’s Word is living and active, the chapters I read were relevant to my despair. They taught me something about my situation. They encouraged me that I was not alone. Not only that, but the Scripture I read in say, I Samuel, would often correspond to the Scripture I was reading in Colossians or some other New Testament book. A handful of times, the exact same phrase or principle would be used in both. Occasionally, my workbooks would have me reading some text I had just read in my own Bible ready.

This is how God speaks. This is how He heals. This is how He encourages and nourishes us toward wellness.

Remember Isaiah 55:10-11? It’s a guarantee. Eat His Word, by reading His Word, and it is not possible that you continue in a sick and stunted state. The sustenance will bring growth and healing and maturity.

I think this verse is really helpful in understanding how the Word heals:

For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

Romans 15:4

We believe God’s Word is how He speaks to us, how he instructs us, so we persevere in reading it, and the result is hope. That hope is what heals.

And check the context of v. 4. Paul is encouraging Roman believers to serve their neighbors and be strong for those who are weak, and he’s quoting a Psalm of King David for precedent. In essence, he’s saying, Got a problem? Need some wisdom? Think you’re the only one to ever face this situation? Nope. Check the Scriptures. David struggled with the same thing and came to a conclusion that I really want you to learn from.

One caveat, though: We can’t just check the “read the Bible” box in our bullet journals and mental to-do lists.

Oh, Isaiah 55 will still hold true on some level, but there’s one more “how-to” required, and I think Psalm 1 tells us what that is:

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.

Delight in the Word. Meditate on it day and night. That’s the caveat for truly benefitting from the Word.

Delight in it. Meditate on it all day.

It’s like the advice we often hear on how to eat and enjoy a meal.

Sit down.

Give thanks.

Small bites.

Chew 20 times.

Savor the flavors.

Put your fork down after every bite.

I’ve been guilty of shutting my Bible after a morning reading and never once thinking about or re-visiting what I read for the rest of the day. Could that be likened to an eating disorder? Like binging and then unconsciously purging? Because the truths don’t stay in that case. They aren’t properly digested. They neither nourish nor effect wellness.

So, the how of eating?

Read. Meditate. Believe.

I’m still a work in progress on implementing these Bible reading how-to’s. (And please don’t ask about how well I’ve implemented of all I know about time management either) But I’ve come to treasure God’s Word so much via these steps, and He’s granted healing and wholeness in the process.

I ended up having to insist on an appointment with the lactation consultant. While I greatly appreciated the fact that my nurse considered me a seasoned mother, and nursing champ, the truth was that I still needed help. Would you believe that Kayla never took a bottle? Sometime around her first birthday, she transitioned from breastfeeding to a sippy cup, and I was one happy mama. Those lactation how-to’s made all the difference, and it’s my hope that these Bible reading how-to’s will make a difference to you as well.

I’d also love to back these how-to’s up with the gift of a Bible reading tool today. So, leave me a comment here on the blog or on Facebook, and I’ll enter your name into a drawing for either one of the workbooks I mentioned above (Esther or Living Beyond Yourself) or the workbook we used in a women’s small group Bible study this summer – Seamless.  Your choice. I’ll tell you who’s name was chosen on Monday.

Happy Bible Eating – and have a wonderful weekend.

Wellness and His Word

6am morning run. We’d meet at the corner, start up the hill, and she’d open the conversation with, “How are you doing?” It was years ago, but I’m still so grateful for the question, and knew exactly what she was getting at.

My answer often felt unsatisfying.  I wanted to report that I was better, healed, happy, that all was well with my soul. But I couldn’t, because it wasn’t.

But there I was getting out of bed at 5:30am, going for a five mile run, and chatting even….with a person. A good friend, of course, but even seeing people during that time was not so easy.

I keep thinking about that woman I wrote about last week.  The one in Luke 8.  The one who fearfully (I’m assuming) and humbly, yet courageously and expectantly reached out and touched the hem of Jesus’ robe. I’ve been staying in the gospels for reading lately, and she stands out to me, along with several others Jesus touched. Hers, though, may be the only account of someone intentionally seeking, reaching out, and literally touching Him with a specific hope.

This is what I wrote:

Especially precious to me is the story of the woman with the long term issue of bleeding who anonymously reached out and touched the fringe of Jesus’ cloak. She was immediately healed of her chronic illness, and Jesus knew immediately that someone had touched Him even though there were hordes of people pressing in on Him. When He investigates and she comes forward, He says

“Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”

So, I’d run the miles and answer Betsy’s question and tell her that I was okay. Okay, but not well. Okay, but not exactly healed in the way I’d been hoping for. This continued for several years, and oh how badly I wanted to give a different answer each week. To report that the sadness had lifted, that the tears had dried up, that I was hopeful again, that I was free from despair.

Betsy has moved away now, and I miss her, but if we met for an early morning Thursday run this week, I’d be able to give her a different answer.

Here it is: He has made me well.

I wish I could say that it was upon my first effort to reach out and touch Him. (Or do I?) That Jesus and I were both immediately aware that power had gone forth from Him and dramatically into me, but that wasn’t how it worked in my case.

Remember that podcast interview I told you about? Well, this season of depression in my life is one direction that conversation took, and when Bethany asked about how I made it through those years, my answer felt unsatisfactory again. Not to Bethany, of course, but to me – even though the answer I gave is really the only one I know to give to anyone who finds themselves in a season like that:

I prayed and read my Bible.

Yep. That Sunday School answer.  That cliche.

Oh, I also did a lot of distance running, a lot of right eating, a lot of water drinking, some biblical counseling, some vitamin D taking, and some intentional resting. And those things certainly set a good stage, but I know it was the praying and the reading (and the receiving and the meditating and the practicing) that performed the true healing.

In fact, God promises that it will. Just take a look at these verses, which have come to be favorites:

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven,

and do not return to it without watering the earth

and making it bud and flourish,

so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

so is my word that goes out from my mouth:

It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire

and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55: 10-11

His Word (now our Bible) accomplishes just what the rain and snow accomplish: growth, good fruit, nourishing food. God gives His Word to accomplish our growth and our healing. He uses it to produce good fruit in our lives. And just as it is a guarantee that things will grow when they are watered, the same guarantee holds for those who take in His Word.

Remember how I mentioned right eating as a part of healing? Well, I did eat literal food. Still do. Good and healthy food. But as you can see, His Word is to be our food, too, and we need it daily.

Both kinds of food – literal and biblical – provide the faith that make us well.

(Did you know that some people were told to eat God’s Word?  Like, literally chew it up and swallow it? It’s true! Those stories are for another post, though.)

But, here’s the deal: It took time.

And here’s the other thing: Reading His Word is not just a recipe we use for healing from depression or anxiety or physical illness or heartache or grief or loneliness. Nor is it a way to bargain with or manipulate God. Neither is prayer. Both are to be our way of life, not tools we whip out when we really want something from God.

Can you imagine if your friends or children only spent time with you when they wanted something?

My daily, hopeful, and expectant reaching out and touching Jesus by reading His Word was how He made me well. Many days that was a choice by faith, an act of my will in obedience…and expectation.

So was the running, the eating, the meeting and more. And He finally met me…with true wellness. I’d say it’s been about two years now.

Word fueled faith in Jesus makes us well, like I wrote last week…safe, kept safe and sound, rescued from danger or destruction – meaning the danger and destruction of sin, and faith also makes us well…thriving, strong, resilient, sane, healthy, hearty, and more.

Hers was a courageous choice in the midst of what must have been a season of great weakness, but her touch displayed a faith that resulted in complete wellness.

And hers is a story I read in His Word.

Will You Forget Me Forever?

The assignment was to memorize Psalm 13:1-2.  And 1 Corinthians 10:13 too, but I sort of knew that one already.  So Psalm 13 is where I turned first.

How long, O Lord?
Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul having sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
v. 1-2

The assignment was given by a pastor we’ve had the privilege of meeting with twice a month to talk through ministry, marriage, and parenting challenges. These meetings have been a gift of grace. Who knew there was a colleague nearby who was gifted and trained to come alongside of us for encouragement, wisdom, and support? We would now consider him a friend – a friend unafraid to step into the challenging role of mentor and counselor. We’re planning on a near-future double date with he and his wife. That’s how encouraging it has been.

But difficult, too, as you can imagine, and as the assignment reveals.

So, I started memorizing.  I said them aloud and copied down the verses to get them in my head and in my heart. The memorizing was not difficult.  I even decided not to stop at verse 2 (and on a fairly sad note), since the lines were coming so easily. Like a familiar cadence, the words and stanzas seemed oddly second nature.

Today I realized why.

I have the week off from teaching my 10th-ish graders today at Classical Conversations. When we plan the teaching schedule for the year during the summer months, I always advocate (beg?) for taking a break the week after Easter rather than the week of Easter.  Holy Week is so wonderful ~ my favorite week of the year ~ but also very full. I’d rather teach that week, packing in one more thing, and then take a true breather from teaching and extra church activity the week afterward.

So today, the day I would have been teaching, I’ve spent the morning reading God’s word, praying, and reflecting. I even re-read my entire current journal which began in September. Not at all riveting, it was six months of what seem to be the exact same cries, pleas, and prayers for renewal, healing, restoration, and hope. John Piper says that the one thing that causes him to question the existence of God is the slowness of his own sanctification and victory over sin. I’m not sure that would be my first answer (I am, sadly, not that godly in my perspective), but his response is certainly confirmed in the pages of my own journal. Sanctification and the putting off of sin are slow in my life.

I have friends who burn their journals when they finish filling one up. And though I love archiving, I guess I can understand that somewhat. I just can’t bring myself to do it yet, and don’t know that I ever will be. So, for those who may read them in the future, here’s a warning: Each one is simply more of the same. (Honestly, there is probably more regress that progress.)

When I got to the October 15th entry of my current journal, there was Psalm 13.  I had written out each stanza with my own prayers interspersed.

I remember it now. On October 14 of this past fall, I was driving to meet a friend for lunch an hour away. The tears had been brimming since I’d awoken that morning, and in an attempt to not spill them all over her during our Panera Bread lunch, I plugged my phone into the auxiliary cord and found the Psalms on my Bible App.  (Taylor Swift does not do the trick in moments like those.) Psalm 1-13 played aloud in the minivan as I drove along Rt. 2 headed for Eastern MA. After Psalm 13, I just hit repeat over and over.

Consider me and answer me, O Lord my God.
Enlighten my eyes or I will sleep the sleep of death,
and my enemy will say “I have overcome him,”
and my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken.
v. 3-4

The words of David echoed my own longings and frustrations, and yet the gratitude of my own heart as well. I must have replayed it a dozen times.  No wonder it seemed such a familiar rhythm this spring. No wonder the memorizing came without effort. It was already there.

Five months ago, God had, unbeknownst to me, filled my heart and mind with a prayer that He would use in a very specific way this month.  A Psalm which He would literally assign me to memorize as a way to properly respond to the challenges at hand.

But I have trusted in your lovingkindness
My heart shall rejoice in your salvation
I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.
v. 5-6

If this isn’t proof that He deals bountifully with me, I don’t know what is. His seemingly harsh dealings with me were exactly what I was tearful about, and yet there He was providing the words to pray in such a situation. And then reminding me of it today.

No, He has not forgotten me.  (I really thought He might have.)

Yes, He has answered me and prevented the death of my hope and faith. (Not in the removal of the pain, but in the way through it.)

I can trust.

I can even rejoice.

Through the Clouds

About to get on a plane back to Massachusetts this morning. These were my thoughts on the flight to Texas last week…

Cruising near 30,000ft on my way from Massachusetts to Texas via Chicago. Time to take Kory back to Baylor for his sophomore year. From my window seat the sky is blue, the clouds are white, and the sun is shining, but that wasn’t the case fifteen minutes ago. Fifteen minutes ago everything was cloaked in dark grey and the rain poured down. Funny how I forget that the sun does indeed rise and shine every day even if I’m unable to see it from my location on the globe. There was a terrible wreck on the opposite side of highway 91 as we made our way to the airport this morning.  A charred black and jack-knifed 18-wheeler.  It tore the guard rail, caused others to collide, and stopped traffic for miles.  So much for being an hour early for check-in, and now an alternate route would have to be sought for Robert’s 11am counseling appointment with a young engaged couple.

Flying “Sun Country” to California last October. Very few clouds in Hartford that day.

That’s what the rain and the dark grey do. They shadow everything. They close you in, limit your view, and cause the path ahead to seem perilously unstable. They cause fatal accidents and even lead to purposeful fatal incidents. They shroud light and hope from view. Ann, writing in regard to Robin Williams’ shocking and recent suicide, said hers felt like an engulfing flame. Mine always feels like a heavy, dark, and endless rainy day closing in and suffocating with a despair that seems it will never go away.
I went in for a yearly physical last week, except it had been two years since my last visit. And the two year wait was “doctor’s orders.”  He seemed to think I was such a picture of health that checking in yearly was silly.  And it’s true. My cholesterol and blood pressure are enviable. “Hands down the best I’ve ever seen,” he said back then.  (Good genes, I tell ya.)  So I waited.

Last week, the nurse weighed me in the hallway, and then got me situated in the exam room.  She took my blood pressure.  Very low. Always very low.  A sign of longevity, did you know? And then she said she needed to ask me two questions.

In the last two weeks, have you, at any time, lost interest in your normal activities?

and

In the last two weeks, have you, at any time, had feelings of hopelessness.

The mama bear in me balks at similar questions when the pediatrician’s office gives me the long questionnaire regarding the emotional state of my kids. Great, I think.  More evidence to put our family on the “watch list.” They’ve delayed a few vaccinations. They are Christians. They homeschool…through high school. The husband is a minister.  They are from…Texas. Deciding they need no further evidence of our questionable life, I ask to be exempt from filling it out.  Permission is always granted with a knowing smile by Dr. Kenny. He understands, and he trusts me. I’m thankful.

“Do I have to answer these questions?” I asked the nurse

“Yes, we are required to ask and record an answer,” she replied.

“For what purpose?” I inquired.

“It’s required for insurance purposes. In an effort to treat the whole person, we are required to ask questions regarding mental health,” she kindly explained.

“Oh, I see,” I replied, and then reluctantly admitted, “Well then, yes.  I would have to answer both questions with a yes.”

A “yes” reply sets off the next step in the new protocol ~ a longer questionnaire.

“Please fill this out and have it ready for the doctor when she comes in,” the nurse instructed.

I wasn’t able to get to it before my new physician knocked on the door. Having lamented the leaving of my previous doctor of 15 years, I was pleasantly surprised by a young and pregnant-with-her-first-child general practitioner. You know you are getting old when your female physician is stunningly, naturally beautiful with a small and super-cute belly bump enveloping a full term baby. I asked her when she was due. “Any moment,” she sighed. She was having contractions all throughout the appointment, but they didn’t stop her from being incredibly kind and gracious about the mental health questionnaire upon which I was just getting started.

But we descended into a cloud-shrouded connecting city.
Hard to believe the sun is shining somewhere beyond.

I tried to put it aside, thinking it would just eventually be another form in my file, but true to the priority of “treating the whole person” Dr. Emily insisted that we finish filling it out…together. Ugh. Basically, the questionnaire investigates further the severity of a person’s hopelessness and loss of interest in daily activities. Thankfully, my score was low, but she still pressed in to the issue. It was actually one of the things on my list to talk to her about. I just wasn’t expecting to be exposed so immediately.

She didn’t have to ask too many questions, because I’ve already been down the road and figured some things out in the depression department by the wisdom of the Lord, HIs Word, my husband, and a 70 year old godly, Christian counselor. It remains an ongoing struggle, and now that I’ve had some time to ponder it, I’ve realized it’s always been present, at least since high school, but 2009 was the worst.  A prompt in a Beth Moore Bible study workbook began to bring it to the surface…  

“Write about a time in your life when you have been required to exercise much faith.”

I was working on the study for my own personal growth and learning while driving in the mini-van, along Interstate 35N through Texas and into Oklahoma.  After pondering episodes from my life that might have required more than the usual amount of faith ~ getting married? having children? moving to Massachusetts? buying our house there? dealing with Cooper’s Celiac diagnosis? The tears started rolling as I realized that none of those things of the past, but Now. Right Now. was requiring more faith than I had ever needed.

Thriving during a sunny morning, running on the beach.
Only recently discovered taking photos “of” the sunshine. Beautiful to me.

We’d been in Massachusetts for ten years at that point. I needed faith to stay with my husband on this fund-raising journey through Texas and Oklahoma.  Faith to go back to Massachusetts when it’s over.  Faith to keep being a faithful wife and mom.  Faith to continue homeschooling.  Faith to stay in the ministry.  I was tired.  I was overwhelmed. I felt alone. And I felt guilty, because I had a “good” life, even enviable by some standards ~ you know, like my blood pressure and cholesterol. The picture of health and blessing. Once the trip was over, the tears just kept coming and now everything was by faith ~ getting out of bed, eating, leaving the house, interacting with any human being. In fact, for a short time, I couldn’t even “by faith” do any of those things.

So, my mental health questionnaire turned into a bit of a testimony last week.  Probably more than Dr. Emily bargained for, but she seemed both concerned and interested. Now that I’m five years out from the severest of the depression, I wasn’t necessarily asking for advice, but rather describing what I’ve discovered and trying to gain any further recommendations she might have ~ and this partly because I’m a woman, I’m getting older, and the dark grey days typically come like clockwork now. I can literally mark most of them on the calendar, and I do, with a little red squiggly line.

I’ve been offered prescriptions to cope with the issue ~ both the kind that come from the pharmacy in a small bottle and also the kind that seem more like a “home remedy.” So far, I’ve relied on the “home remedy” ~ a combination of spiritual disciplines like daily Bible reading and prayer, and physical disciplines like exercise, sleep and rest, and healthy foods, as well as vitamin and mineral supplements.  Actually, I view them all as spiritual, since God created the body and a system of wisdom principles in which the world and humans can thrive. Dr. Emily was fine with my current self-treatment, but offered others if needed in the future.

One friend who knew the intensity of the struggle checks in with me regularly. How are you feeling? Are things any better? she often asks on our weekly early-morning runs.  For the longest time I had to reply that everything is still by faith ~ getting out of bed, going about my daily tasks, etc. Nothing comes with any sort of natural desire, let alone joy.  Today I can say that there has been some healing, but the problem is not reversed. I don’t know that it ever will be.

Robert’s grandmother died from shock treatments for depression in a Texas state hospital long before he was ever born.  My own father received a similar course of treatment in the very same hospital for the very same reason just a few years later. I now know how thankful I should be for his very life. He’s described the heartbreaking  experience to me a couple of times. Left alone in a room, roused to get in a line behind other patients, placed on a hospital bed, hooked up with electrodes, shock treatments for several minutes, get back in line, go back to your room.  No talk therapy. No group sharing. No nothing but the “treatments.” I always picture it to be cloudy and raining in Galveston, TX ~ even though Robert and I honeymooned there during a very hot Texas August. My dad finally got permission to go to the YMCA next door to the hospital and swim. He loves swimming to this day. My mother has spent much of her adult life lying in her dark bedroom with a host of varying and mysterious ailments, the most looming of which is probably depression, but I don’t know that for sure.  She chooses to remain outside of my life. Relating in normal, healthy ways is too difficult. I feel her pain, and I pray for her.

My sunny view from the guest room at my dad’s house this week.
Warmth and sunshine every day is wonderful and effective.

So, there’s a family history to be sure, but I think it’s even more prevalent than that. A majority of women I know opt for the prescription medications. One felt there was no other way after she experienced just one episode of anger during a very trying situation, but I think angry episodes in stressful situations are to be expected.  I think anger is sin ~ usually a response to our own selfish expectations.  I think emotions are God-given indicators of our desperate need for Him. I guess I think we’re all too quick to think our anger or our sadness or our frustrations are abnormal, and too slow and impatient to wait on Him for healing. I have found that there is a bitter-sweetness in the waiting, though. That in the time between the scary, slippery, dark gray runway takeoff and the eventual pressing through the thick clouds that reveals the sunshine, there is deeper intimacy to be found with the One who created it all. And really, though many squinting glimpses into the beauty of the sun’s light are generously and frequently given here on earth, I don’t think the clouds will be completely or permanently lifted until He returns. That knowledge has a way of altering perspective.  Someday the brightness will be so beautiful and overwhelming that our knees will bow in worship, and our faces will touch the ground, and our hearts will overflow with joyful, reverent gratitude. We are not there yet. We must wait in some level of darkness. All of us.

(But please don’t hear me say that medication is wrong or sinful. I think it can most certainly be a gift from God, discovered and created by His children for the benefit of His children. There is a time for everything.  Ann’s blog says it so well. I struggle, though, with the idea that all depression is chemical and therefore only remedied pharmaceutically. There is wisdom and there is foolishness.  Ironically, I have been thought foolish for not taking it.  Maybe those counselor-friends are correct, but I have not felt the go-ahead from the One who continues to lift my head by other means. Others have felt the go-ahead. I will trust their judgment in the Spirit. I hope they will trust mine.)

It took a while for noticeable healing, and though most activities are still “by faith” and by choices of “the will” there is more ease and joy in the process. I don’t ever feel “up for the task” of the hurdles, the conflicts, or the challenges the Lord allows, and He has allowed some heavy ones in the last few years. Without intending to be cliche, His grace truly has been sufficient. He’s made me to boast only in His strength, because I, myself, am nothing but weak.

Five years ago, in the midst of extreme fatigue and despair, my tirelessly compassionate husband allowed me to sleep in, stay in my room for the morning, spend time with my Lord, and heal.  Daily, he delivered hot tea and encouraging Scripture written on pastel card stock stationery that he purchased from Target. It was about three months of the rest and support I needed. Not everyone is so fortunate, I know.

Here’s one of the verses he wrote out for me:

Thus says the Lord, “Yet again there will be heard in this place, of which you say, ‘it is a waste, without man and without beast,’ that is in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without man and without inhabitant and without beast, the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the voice of those who say, ‘Give thanks to the Lord of hosts, for the Lord is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.’
Jeremiah 33:10

Verses 7:34, 16:9, and 25:10 constantly warn that gladness and joy will be removed for a time. This verse indicates the coming reversal of those things. It’s a promise to us today, too.

More photos of the sun on a a morning run.
This one on the Norwottuck Rail Trail Bridge over the Connecticut.

And here is the section of Psalm 72 I discovered while reading in my room during that very dark time:

O God, You have taught me from my youth, and I still declare your wondrous deeds.  And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare your strength to this generation, your power to all who are to come. 

For your righteousness, O God, reaches to the heavens, You who have done great things, O God, who is like you? You who have shown me many troubles and distresses will revive me again, and will bring me up again from the depths of the earth.
v. 17-20

Yes, He brought me up from the depths of earth’s darkness and despair. He brings me up again and again even now, and He will continue to allow me to rise up from the dark, fallen, shrouded earth into the atmosphere of joy and light ~ veiled though it is for now. He promises it, I’ve experienced it, and I trust Him.