faith · Guest Posts · writing

My Dreams Chased Away My Depression :: Guest Post with Andy Lee

Today it’s my pleasure to welcome the lovely and talented Andy Lee to my space. I met Andy at my very first writer’s conference and remember being in awe of this tall, beautiful lady with the wide smile and absolute persistence in the belief that someday her book was going to find a home. Well now, it’s sitting in my morning pile alongside my Bible, a thrift store concordance, My Utmost for His Highest, and a journal that needs some extra attention during my busy season.

A Mary Like Me is the story of strong women who walked with Jesus. But today, Andy is sharing a bit of her story. It’s not all that different from mine, and, I suspect, many of yours.

Blessings, friends. Thank you for being here.


 

I sat on the sands in a tidal pool of self-pity.

My cup of blessings overflowed, but I couldn’t shake the sadness. I’m sure sleep deprivation played a major role in my mommy depression, but that day as I listened to one of my favorite Christian artists, her words about dreaming streamed through my earphones straight to the pit of my heart.

As the tears poured down my face, I realized this was the key to my sadness. As a child, I loved to dream, but try as I might, I couldn’t recall one of them.

sad-505857_1280Before this revelation of lost dreams, my sorrow was a betrayal to my blessings. I didn’t want to hold onto my sadness and nurture it, but I couldn’t escape from the shadows. So, I had petitioned and wrestled with God, asking for forgiveness and questioning why this had such a hold on me. Why was I so miserable?

God always answers these kinds of petitions—the kind of prayers that beg Him to bring you closer to His will. His joy. His goodness.

Knowing the root of our depression is the first step to freedom.

In my tidal-pools of self-pity that life-changing day, my friend sitting next to me grabbed my hand and told me to sing. She reminded me to worship the One who made the waves rolling toward our feet and gave those waters their boundaries.

The sorrow didn’t immediately fade nor did the dreams appear at once, but day by day, as I worshiped and prayed asking God to help me love my blessings, I began to remember my dreams.

One summer a need arose for an aerobic instructor for my Bible study group. I had never actually led a class, but I memorized one Kathy Ireland routine; my nine year old daughter made a music tape, and I taught that same routine to the same music every week. We had a blast. About halfway through the summer session, God reminded me that this was once a dream of mine.

And that’s when I knew that God would be faithful to remind me of my dreams and open the doors in His timing and creativity.

One of my life verses became: Delight yourself in the Lord and HE will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).

As the years rolled on, the Lord let me experience many small and big dreams. One of those dreams was to write a book—this story is part of it. It’s written to encourage women to follow their God dreams and calls.

Please remember:

  • Empty can be a good thing. God wants to fill us first with Himself.
  • If shadows of depression threaten, ask God to reveal the root.
  • Worship Him.

 

My dreams chased away the depression. What helps you when depression settles on you? Leave a comment to enter the drawing for a giveaway of a signed copy of A Mary Like Me: Flawed Yet Called.

 

Finding Purpose in our Dreams,

andy

 

Andy Lee wglasses

 

Andy Lee is a wife, mom, recovering people pleaser, speaker, and author of two books, A Mary Like Me: Flawed Yet Called (Leafwood) and The Book of Ruth: A 31-Day Journey to Hope and Promise (AMG). Her blog, Finding Purpose Beyond Today (wordsbyandylee.com), encourages thousands of viewers each month, and her morning Periscope broadcast, Bite of Bread, inspires those who join her as she digs into a Bible verse for the day. To invite Andy to speak at an event, or to find out more about her ministry visit wordsbyandylee.com.

 

 

amelia · faith · just write life · motherhood · writing

What It Means for Me to Live Prayer

IMG_6043In February, when I attended FCWC (which is really more retreat than conference and I recommend it wholeheartedly for introverted writers and harried moms who want to be writers), Robert Benson was the keynote speaker. I wrote a little about some things Robert had to say about hurry and life and living within the steps of the Ancient Dance.

Robert will tell you he is a little man but God is great. He’ll also tell you the Yankees are the only baseball team worth watching and if you dress like an artist people will believe you actually are one. Because of my proximity to the staff at conference, I got to spend a little extra time with him, and because I have a habit of putting my foot in my mouth, we had a good laugh together. We wound up in the same shuttle on the way back to the airport–over an hour of him and Eddie Jones (who is my publisher) talking church and baseball and publishing’s state of affairs.

One of those divine moments you have to watch out for at conferences where everyone believes God will place you where He wants you. God placed me where I could listen.

Robert has written a lot of books about life and Christianity but not about Christian living in the self-help sense of the genre. Don’t expect a how-to list and questions to work through and a Facebook chat group.

I purchased Living Prayer because I’ve been in a season of life in which I wrestle with prayer. Not just the action of it–what it means to pray ceaselessly or in communion–but what it means to pray and ask and receive.

Or to not.

IMG_2246I wonder over and over when we pray for healing and restoration and then say God is good when we receive those things if we could have received them without the prayer? And when we don’t, we say that is His will, so if His plan is unchanging, what is our purpose in prayer? What is the point?

Prayer, for me, has not been a rhythm, a stepping to a cadence my soul already knows. Rather it has been a beating and a brush-off. A way people had of offering comfort when what I really wanted was someone to rail with me, to hold me while I wept, to tell me that I am out of tune with God’s rhythm because prayer is not about what I can get but what I can receive.

Prayer is not meant to be the catch-all we so often make it.

People tell me God is so good when I answer their questions about my daughter’s health. I nod. God is good.

But my daughter is not healed.

She may never be, and that is our reality.

She compensates well and we move through our days and maybe I might call her physical therapist because her hip drop is back and her leg is very stiff and she cried the other night because her knee hurt. If her next MRI shows her lesion has receded, I’ll be surprised. If it shows a new spot of deterioration, we’ll still go through our every day and maybe see her neurologist an extra time or two.

And the only prayer I have is that God will show us how to live though our days.

I no longer offer petitions for her body or mine. I offer praise for every day that is better, for every moment that we are broken, for every set of hands that folds with mine. Then i get really quiet because Robert says we cannot hear God’s voice when we are too full of our own. 

And “it is our brokenness… that holds the key to whatever we have to share.”

There is a chapter in this book about Walking in the Dark. If you’ve never walked that path, perhaps you cannot yet understand. But if you have…

“Perhaps God needs me to pray so I can be about the business of laying myself and the people and places and things I care about on the altar.”

And that simple act is what I am learning prayer is. A laying down. A lifting up. A coming to the altar.

I’d love to have you join me there.

For more about what I’m reading, writing, and listening to these days subscribe to my monthly-ish newsletter.

faith · perfectly imperfect · writing

Don’t Borrow Trouble

Sometimes, and I hope this is no secret to those of you who read my posts regularly, I get overwhelmed. I struggle with unrealistic expectations of perfection and knowing my limits. But I’m learning, all the time. This past February, I met Ashley at FCWC, and we clicked over blogging, WordPress glitches, and being big sisters. She’s tech-savvy and smart, witty and wise, and a joy to bring to my corner today.

Oh, and she’s the reason I figured out how to add a Newsletter subscriber page.

DontWorry

Do you ever imagine the person God wants you to be?

My perfect self is more compassionate and kind; she’s a better daughter, friend, and wife; she reads her Bible daily, prays always, and is completely focused on God.

My perfect self is a pretty cool chick.

I’m not there yet.

The Process

I know this is who God wants me to be, and I’m working on it. But, while my salvation was complete the moment I believed, being perfected by God is a process, or a journey.

Like any significant journey, we can’t start and finish in one day. In fact, God seems to have a plan for how far we should go each day and what we should accomplish along the way.

This is great news! Why?

The Steps

There is a huge gap between who I am today and who I’m meant to be. When I focus on that gap, I get overwhelmed and want to give up. But when God breaks it into small steps and reveals each step to me as I need it from moment to moment…well, that’s more doable.

I didn’t have to be the perfect friend or daughter today; I just needed to visit with my mentor and call Mom on the drive home. I don’t have to publish a book today; I just need to write a few sentences each day.

These are small steps, but they’re part of the greater journey.

No Skipping Ahead!

Sometimes I get excited and want to skip ahead to what I think God has planned for my future. (I’ll get up at 5am tomorrow and read my Bible and pray and write three blogs and finish my book and….)

That’s how I get in trouble. Not only do I miss the lessons I was supposed to learn today but—because I’m not following God’s timing—I fumble tomorrow’s lessons, too. I end up bogged down in confusion, worry, and even legalism, all because I tried to get ahead of God.

Jesus said we shouldn’t worry about tomorrow, for each day has its own trouble (see Matthew 6:31). I think He meant that He gives us the proper portion of opportunities and lessons for each day—as well as the grace to get through them and learn what we need to know.

We don’t have to borrow trouble from tomorrow; we’ve got enough on our plate for today!

Be Encouraged

I encourage you to seek God’s will for you in this moment. If you’re trying to skip ahead to tomorrow’s plan, then stop. Don’t put more demands on yourself than what God is putting on you right now.

Be content to wrestle with what God gives you today. Then you’ll be one step closer to the person He created you to be.


AshleyLJones

Ashley L. Jones received her M.A. in Biblical Studies so she could learn how to dig deeper into God’s Word. She uses her blog, BigSisterKnows.com, to encourage others to see God as alive and relevant by showing how the Bible applies to their everyday lives. She brings this same passion to her other projects, including her current focus, Girls with Gusto, a Christian living book for young women on how to navigate the eight major steps of the spiritual journey. If Ashley isn’t working or writing, she’s outside taking pictures with her husband Robby, and their cat Sue.

Show Ashley and Just Write Life some comment love. We’ll get back to you because there’s nothing better than a good heart connection.

faith · Uncategorized

Why God Does(n’t) Love You

He doesn’t love you because you pack healthy lunches.

He doesn’t love you because you volunteer for every ministry.

He doesn’t love you because you tithe ten percent.

He doesn’t love you because your kids always match.

He doesn’t love you because you have a big house.

He doesn’t love you because you have a new car.

He doesn’t love you because you went to college.

He doesn’t love you because you are pro-life.

He doesn’t love you because you have a well-ordered home.

He doesn’t love you because your children are healthy.

He doesn’t love you because everything always goes your way.

He doesn’t love you because you asked.

He loves you in spite of all these things. He loves you although you believe He couldn’t. He loves you when you’re perfect but I think He loves you more when you’re not.

Because then you need Him. Then you’re crying. Then you’re ready to say you are incapable of creating a perfect life.

There is no perfect life.

There is only a harsh world through which filters goodness and grace and glory.

Because God does love you. For all the reasons you think He shouldn’t.

IMG_6072

faith · just write life · organizing · Photos · pinterest · writing

Sometimes You’re Just Making Life Too Hard

IMG_5976
I knew exactly where this precious gem was. In my Winter 2016 Album.

I had a revelation the other night.

Something my husband’s been telling me for awhile.

I make things too hard.

For months, he’s listened to me whine about how digitally cluttered my life feels–especially in regard to photos. (Sometimes I actually miss film. Then, you see, I was forced to print in order to see the photos, and even if stuck in a box, at least I knew where they were and there was potential for an album.)

I went on and on about how I don’t understand how iPhoto is importing my pictures and the Cloud and the Dropbox and my Phone won’t sync properly and it must be because I had to buy a $6 replacement cord because I left mine at the lake SIX MONTHS AGO and because of all this it takes me 15 minutes to blog and at least ONE HOUR to post and I know I need to figure this out because then I can streamline things and it won’t take so long but I don’t have time to ORGANIZE PICTURES when I should be WRITING and MAKING MONEY–

Breath.

At which point he calmly said sometimes you have to do the menial task so you feel better.It’s not hard. It’s just time consuming.

Humph.

Just to prove him wrong I sat with my computer for 30 minutes on Sunday night while he and my girls had an epic piano battle with some game they all love on their electronic devices that are not the television because we gave that up for Lent.

I went on Pinterest. Stay focused.

I typed “organize iPhoto”. I got a site. Hmmm…organize my pictures in 10 minutes or less? I’ll bite.

This girl’s name looks familiar…oh, she was consulting with me about my blog redesign last summer. Okay, she’s credible.

Read post. Really? I didn’t know iPhoto had that feature. (i.e. I’ve never bothered to look.)

Followed instructions.

Voila! Photos impeccably organized into years and seasons just the way I like.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 10.24.07 AM

Approximate time? Ten minutes.

Okay…I didn’t want to give away that he might have been right, so I looked at some other pins. Maybe I could solve the import problem. There’s this???

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 10.01.50 AM
My “connecting camera opens” was checked No Application.

 

Still skeptical (and too lazy to get up), I borrowed daughter’s handy iPod charger.

Over 300 photo and video imports later, my phone stopped telling me my storage was full.

And that, my friends, made my life seem a tad bit easier. Or at least less cluttered.

It’s really, really easy to get overwhelmed. We live in a digitally driven, social media noisy, always connected world. Our brains are being rewired to require constant stimulation, when our God tells us He made us to crave rest.

Rejuvenation.

Respite.

Relaxation.

And sometimes, we have to stop and just do the menial task. Because that one calm act–making the bed, washing the dishes, organizing the photos–brings cosmos into our chaos.

And peace into our souls.

 

What one thing can you do today that will bring a little calm?