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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Drowning: My Journey Through Depression - Part 7



Welcome to the last installment of the series!  I am glad you are here!  I am sharing a series about my experience with depression and anxiety.  Feel free to catch up with the first six parts of the series:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6



Oh what a beautiful site it was to roll up into Susan's driveway into her amazing holler'!  (If you don't know what that is, you must ask Susan to describe it!)  It had been a long 2 days of driving to North Carolina from Illinois.

Ya'll, the Susan you know online is a sweetheart, but no where near as good as the real thing!!  She so very graciously invited me into her home and made me feel like I was part of the family. (except for Sam....thedog.....he wasn't so sure about me!)  I arrived just before dinner, and we began visiting right away over preparing dinner for the two of us.  Susan's way is straightford and right to the point, and oh how I love that about her!  She knew I was there for some serious heart and soul work with the Lord.  We talked well into the night, and it was awesome!


Each morning I got up and headed to this little corner of the couch.  I had packed a bag full of books, notebooks, my bible, notecards, and music.  I was ready.....and God did not disappoint.

My plan had been to visit several parks nearby, do some sightseeing while toting my bag of books and bible.  I figured I could pray and enjoy the beauty of North Carolina at the same time.  This ladies, is how God works.  God knew how far I had traveled to get some quality, uninterrupted time with him, so in his sovereignty it rained...
EVERY.SINGLE.DAY!

Now I say that to be funny, but I am dead serious at the same time!  And because it rained, I stayed right there on that couch and prayed my little heart out.  My heart was laid bare before him, with all of those things that had made the list, and many more.  I read my bible, I prayed, I worshipped, I cried, and I prayed some more.  I'd take a break and have lunch with Susan, and then do it all over again in the afternoon.  Throughout the week I replaced my list of strongholds with a list of prayers.  I gave each item to God and turned it into a supplication for Jesus to attend to.  I asked him to release me from each stronghold and replace those negatives with holy spirit led power over them.

What a gift.

Persevering prayer, built on a foundation of faith, crushes the power of Satan. ~Charles Stanley

Amen?

In between rain showers, I took the opportunity to enjoy the beauty that surrounded me.







This little creek is right across the road from Susan's front porch and the sound of the moving water was music to my soul.

Oh the birds at Susan's house!!  She is a bird lover and I enjoyed every single visitor!



Before I knew it, my time at Susan's had come to an end.  I missed my family and had so much to share with them, but it was hard to leave.  Susan's house had become the perfect refuge, and her hospitality and friendship meant the world to me. She had shared her home, her friends, her pastor, and her wisdom with me.  It was an absolutely amazing week that I could never put into earthly words, so I won't even try.  I guess that's when you know that you have encountered Jesus face to face....when you just can't describe it, but you know your heart and soul have been changed in ways that are only possible through the loving grace of Jesus Christ.

And I haven't looked back since!!

Remember in Part 4 of this series the long list of illnesses that were listed at my doctor's office?  GONE!

Since being prayed over on Mother's Day of 2016, I have not had another anxiety attack.  My sensory issues have all but disappeared. I've had no more problems with attention deficit or memory problems, and I have had little depression issues.  I went back to work in August at the high school and have been doing great.

I AM FREE

CHRIST HAS SET ME FREE

Not long after returning home from my trip to Susan's, I was once again worshipping in my kitchen, standing in the sunshine.  I was singing along with the song "No Longer Slaves".  I've sung it a hundred times over the last year, but this time was different and the tears were streaming down my face in joy.  The chorus started, and I sang as loud as I could the following words:

"You split the sea so I could walk right through it,
you drown my fears in perfect love,
you rescued me so I could stand and sing - I am a child of God."

You see, that opening line had been a plea from me for months on end, asking God when He would split the seas for me, when would my suffering end, when would I get to the other side.  

I was finally on the other side!  He rescued me.  Praise Jesus, He rescued me.

"I waited patiently for the Lord: he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God." 
 ~Psalm 40:1-3


"He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters." 
~Psalm 18:16


All praise and honor and glory belong to Christ alone.

Amen.



I can't thank you all enough for traveling along this journey with me.  My hope is  if you are suffering through depression and anxiety, that you know you are not alone and help is out there.  But most importantly, I want you to know that Jesus Christ is waiting for you to call upon him to rescue you.  He is willing and able to carry you through this season.  I don't know why I had to go through all of this, but I am confident that Jesus had his purpose, and I accept this plan for me.  I pray you will reach out to him as well, snuggle up tight next to him, pour your heart out to him and allow him room to heal your heart and soul.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you SUSAN!  Love you girlfriend!!  Can't wait to visit again!!




Friday, March 3, 2017

Photo Card Friday - Free Printable



Since I officially have Spring Fever, I thought these beautiful bleeding hearts would be appropriate for today's free printable.  Remember, just right click and "save as" to save to your computer.  You can print it out just like a photo.

I hope you enjoy a beautiful and restful weekend!

Cherie

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Drowning: My Journey Through Depression - Part 6




Welcome!  I am glad you are here!  I am sharing a series about my experience with depression and anxiety.  Feel free to catch up with the first five parts of the series:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

As I began preparing for my trip to Susan's, I thought it would be helpful if I started writing down all of the things that I wanted to spend some extra time praying over.  My memory hadn't been the best in the past months, and I wanted to make the most of my time in North Carolina.

As my list began to take shape, a feeling of dread overcame my heart.  When the list came together as a whole, I couldn't believe what I was seeing.  And I was ashamed.  My notes had become a list of Satan's STRONGHOLDS!  (A stronghold is something that claims to have more power over you than God.  It is something that grips your mind so fiercely that you are unable to control your thinking.)

I had written down things that had been bothering me for years, things that I had struggled with and wanted to pray about.  But when those things were written down in front of me.....they were all ways that Satan had been toying with me, the ways he had deceived me, the ways he had twisted my emotions...even ways that I had been physically afflicted!  I was ashamed (probably Satan's accusation right there!) that as a Christian woman, I had not recognized any of these things.  Over the course of several days I wracked my brain trying to figure out how this had happened to me!

It finally occurred to me that every time a new symptom of depression or anxiety arose, my doctors and I both would just pile it up on the heaping list of ways that I was affected by this disease.  I never gave each symptom a mental or spiritual check.  I was simply drowning in all of it.

*************

Now I want to stop right here and make something very clear.
Depression and anxiety are mental illnesses that need
treatment by doctors and counselors.
In no way, in the telling of my story, do I want you to think
that I do not hold the belief that this is a mental
illness issue.

But during this particular season of my bouts of depression, 
Satan piled on and made my life a living hell.  So not only was I 
battling mental illness, but I was also battling spiritual warfare.

If you are feeling the symptoms of depression,
PLEASE see a doctor so that you can be helped!
It makes all the difference in the world!!

************

Satan had drug me down so deep that I had lost my joy in living.  He had destroyed my peace, joy, happiness, contentment, and enthusiasm for life.  I was just living in a shell.

I began reading ferociously so that I could straighten out my mind and be reminded of all of the ways that Satan works to destroy our lives.  Several books titles that were immensely helpful to me:
  • When The Enemy Strikes, Charles Stanley
  • Breaking Free, Beth Moore
  • Ferverent, Priscilla Schrier
  • Girls With Swords, Lisa Bevere
I also decided I needed a visual reminder that I carried spiritual weapons with me everyday, through the gifts of Christ Jesus.  So I bought this:


Yep, a plastic sword.
Then I began writing scripture all over that thing!



And strangely, it gave me great comfort.  It was just what I needed to start turning my thoughts around and to start taking action against Satan.

It was time to start DROWNING out Satan from my mind and heart.  I carried that sword around my house while I prayed out loud and told Satan to take a hike.  I commanded him to leave my mind, to leave my home and to leave my family.

Then I was ready.

I was ready for my time away at Susan's to concentrate on some sweet time with the Lord.

Join me next week for Part 7 of the series as we travel to North Carolina to Susan's house!






Friday, February 24, 2017

Photo Card Friday - Free Printable



This art is free for you to download and print.

This is one of my favorites!  I love the visual reminder that we are WARRIORS!  This passage from Ephesians through the Message translation always brings me encouragement to stand up and fight!

Fight back!

Don't take what Satan throws at you!  You are a daughter of the Most High God and you have been given weapons to fight against him.

Simply right click on the photo and "save as" to save it to your computer.  Then you can simply print it out on your home printer, or send it through a photo service and develop like a photo.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Drowning: My Journey Through Depression - Part 5



Welcome!  I am glad you are here!  I am sharing a series about my experience with depression and anxiety.  Feel free to catch up with the first four parts of the series:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

After having a long internet conversation with my downloaded friend Susan, I knew it was time to get serious.  I had been drowning with this episode of depression and anxiety for well over 2 years by now, and I was just completely exhausted by the whole thing.  I'd never had an episode last so long or cut so deep.

I knew it was time to gather the elders of my church so that I could be prayed over.  If you aren't familiar with that, it's nothing weird, it is just a time to call the leaders of your church together to pray.  They pray diligently and specifically for a person during the prayer time, and then for up to 6 months afterward.

I got in touch with the elders to set up a time, and then invited my small group and several really good friends from church to join us.  Most in this group were aware of the struggles I had been having, but not all of the pastors and staff knew the depths of my struggle.  So we gathered together in a large room at church on Mother's Day, 2016.

It's a day that changed my life.

CHANGED. MY. LIFE.

I sat on a couch with dear friends who held my hands, girlfriends sat at my feet with their hands on my knees.  Pastors stood behind me with hands on my shoulders.   Friends gathered in a circle to surround me.  And my husband, always near, always supporting, always loving.  And they prayed.

THEY PRAYED.

Prayers were laid before the Throne of my King Jesus in ways I never could have expressed.  The Holy Spirit stirred prayers and petitions on my behalf that shook me to my core.  They denounced Satan and all of his lies, betrayals, doubts, tricks, and strongholds.  I was swept up into the holy arms of Jesus.  This crowd of beautiful, Jesus loving people lifted my heart and soul into the healing hands of God my Creator.

I wept the entire time.  I gave it all to Jesus.  I surrendered....again.

It was a sweet, sweet time.

I was humbled and oh so grateful.

I left church that day feeling as though a huge burden had been lifted from my shoulders.  Was I healed instantly?  No.  I knew God had so much more in store for me.  I could feel that this was just the beginning of our healing journey together.

For the next two weeks I was patiently waiting for my prayer retreat in North Carolina, where I would stay with Susan. During my wait, I started making a list of things that I wanted to pray more deeply about during my stay.  As I began writing, and my list grew, a new truth was revealed to me that completely caught me off guard.

I was stunned.



Join me next Wednesday for Part 6 of the series, Drowning: My Journey Through Depression.



Linking up today:

  Woman to Woman Ministries/

Women With Intention Wednesdays

Friday, February 17, 2017

Photo Card Friday - Free Printable


I love trees.

The shape and structure of them fascinate me, their strong outstretched branches reaching to the heavens in praise of their Creator.

This huge old tree is one of my favorites, towering over the shoreline of a lake in a nearby park.  A picnic table sits beneath it, perfect for enjoying the afternoon breeze and shade the tree provides. It's a good thinking spot for me.  A great place to rest in the shadow of Almighty God.

Please feel free to right click the photo and "save as" so you can add it to your collection.  I hope you will print it out and enjoy the reminder to rest, just rest in the Lord.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Drowning: My Journey Through Depression - Part 4



Welcome!  I am glad you are here!  I am sharing a series about my experience with depression and anxiety.  Feel free to catch up with the first three parts of the series:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

When I awoke from my hibernation through the month of May, summer was upon us and it was full of doctor and counseling appointments.  More prescriptions than I care to count were filled, to match my growing list of ailments.

I began a series of psychological tests to determine if I had Attention Deficit Disorder, as well as Generalized Anxiety Disorder.  I still rarely left the house and spent a lot of my time alone.  As so often happens, prescriptions meant to treat one issue would cause a complete and different issue.  I was on a roller coaster of emotions and energy levels, which nearly drove myself and my husband over the edge.  I went from sleeping the entire month of May, to rising at the crack of dawn in June, full of so much nervous energy that I couldn't sit still.


I was living a nightmare.  It was uncomfortable to be in my own skin.  Despite trying to explain to others what I was going through, I felt no one understood, and many I am quite certain, thought I was just making it up or faking it, and I should just snap out of it.  I was drowning.

When school began in the fall, I was relieved knowing that during my leave of absence, I would have time to heal.  I knew taking the year off was the right thing to do, as I was still no closer to feeling much better.  I was eager to have the house to myself again, with all the quiet I could take in.

I had high hopes of spending time healing through some of my hobbies, but I just did not have the motivation or concentration to get much done.  I did a lot of reading to escape my restless mind.  The months slowly passed and I was doing all I could to just hang on.

As spring arrived, I finally felt up to doing a little more and I began writing out scriptures everyday and spent time reading some devotional books.  By this time my anxiety had succumbed quite a bit and I was able to finally head back to church.  My soul was nourished deeply by the worship each week, so I created a playlist of songs we sang at church and other music that was uplifting to me.  I began a practice of singing my heart out with that worship music in the middle of my kitchen.

And slowly, every so slowly, the darkness began to fade, just enough for me to know that My King was beginning to clear away the cobwebs of my mind.

During this time, I had also reached out to my blogging friend Susan and asked her to be praying for me.  (If you don't know her, you really should!!)  We had long "chat" conversations on Facebook.  She spoke amazing truth and wisdom into my life.  I literally cried out my heart to her.  She was so kind and so gracious to me.  Through one of our conversations I mentioned that I was looking for a place that I could take a Prayer Retreat, all by myself to spend a week praying and calling on My Savior to lift me out of this mess.  And my dear, dear internet friend asked me to come to her house in North Carolina.  Her husband would be gone a week in May.  She works from home, so I could have the rest of the house to myself to do whatever I wanted or needed.  It was good that our conversation was online, because at this point I was bawling my eyes out.  I felt God's goodness shine down on me that day.  It would be a long drive by myself....10 hours....but I knew that this conversation and Susan's lovely offer was God ordained, so He would get me there!!

But through our long conversations, Susan had convinced me that there was something I needed to do right away.  I had been thinking about it, but was a bit shy to ask.....but Susan convinced me....it was time.


Join me next Wednesday for Part 5 of the series, Drowning: My Journey Through Depression.



Linking up today:

  Woman to Woman Ministries/

Women With Intention Wednesdays