Archive for April, 2008

The In-Between Time
April 16, 2008

Rewarded for in-between? Could God care about that? When we are not producing, not accomplishing, and life is changing…. I’m not satisfied when I’m in a place like this. But God has a purpose for it.

The circumstances that bring us to the in-between time may vary, but the walk is similar for all of us. I was writing to a friend who is experiencing depression because both of her kids are now up and out, and she’s facing the reality that they won’t be living at home again. Her parents are aging and she is finding herself at one of those in-between times. What do you do to fill the space? What do you do with the uncomfortable feelings? The time that is not filled for you?

God will fill it in His time. Unfortunately, part of that filling is living with the uncomfortable in-between time. It can really be painful, but know that you will not be in it forever. And what you have when you come out the other side you would not trade. It is one of those priceless treasures bought only thru sacrifice. The currency is sometimes loneliness, sometimes tears. It is the lonesome valley that you walk with none but your Lord and your own heart. He tells you things in the lonesome valley that you cannot hear or understand at any other time. If you kick and scream the whole way thru it, you will miss the treasure and you will come out empty. If you are quiet and keep your eyes focused on His face and listen to His Word, He will fill you up and place the treasure in your hands.

The in-between time is not a choice. What we do when we are in it is.

2/9/08
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Ebenezers
April 15, 2008

Do you ever take the time to celebrate your sucesses, even the little ones?  God commanded Israel to observe certain celebrations and commemerate how far they’d come and Who it was that saw them thru. Or He commanded that an altar be built when they reached a certain place so that they would remember where they were and where they are now.  We can, too.  One of the hymns I love (Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing), has a verse that goes like this: Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by Thy help I’ve come…” An Ebenezer is a stone that the Israelites placed as a reminder of how far God had brought them. Start placing your own Ebenezers. You place them so that you may look back and KNOW God has moved you, you HAVE grown, you ARE farther along than you were. You have markers that shout praise to God because who you are now is not who you used to be.

Look how far the grace of God has brought you. 

 

Encouragement from the Word
April 15, 2008

 

September 4, 2007

 

I hate sitting and spinning my wheels.  It seems I do that more often when I don’t spend time in the Word.  My soul starves for lack of food… and the table is always spread before me!!

Tonight I was looking over some notes I made on some scripture I found this past week.  There is such hope for all of us who suffer disorder or illness!  This life is precious to God and He takes account of our sorrows and hurts.  He will make all things new someday, and give us eternal life where there is no sickness, death, sorrow, or tears.  No shame.  No guilt. 

Psalm 56:8You have kept count of my tossings and caught all my tears in your flask.

Joel 2:25 – I will restore to you the years the locusts have eaten…

Isaiah 35:9-10 – No lion will be there, nor will any ferocious beast get upon [this road]; they will not be found there.  But only the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord will return.  They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their headsGladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Psalm 30:5 – Weeping may remain for the night, but joy comes in the dawn!

God promises this.  And God is not man… he always keeps His promises.

 

Well… how about that?!  I looked into His word and I was comforted!  When I look to him, my eyes are not on me.  I put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness and He has lifted the weight and calmed my restlessness.

 

 

 

 

The Power of Secrets: part of my journey with trichotillomania
April 15, 2008

What could possibly cause an otherwise normal, healthy teenaged girl to wish she had cancer (to explain the baldness) or was a quadraplegic (so that her arms and hands would be useless), or could just die (so that the struggle would be over)?  How about a disorder that no one around me had ever heard of?  How about something that made anyone who noticed stare and whisper and point?

What is it?  Compulsive hair-pulling.  It’s categorized as a disorder that may be related to Turrett’s Syndrome.  It comes with sides of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and some Impulse Control Disorder, all served up on a platter of anxiety and depression.  Nice.   Sufferers lock themselves away from society, avoid fun activities like swimming, and guard themselves from any kind of intimacy.  Constant fear, constant shame, constant failure. 

Helpful friends and family, and even some doctors say things like, “Oh, you just need to stop.”  “Why don’t you just quit?”  Wow.  I NEVER thought of that!  Not in the last 24 years!  (Pardon the dripping sarcasm.)

So, here is part of my story… without the sarcasm. 

When I began pulling as a little girl, I found I could no longer make eye contact with people. I didn’t want them to see I had no eyebrows or lashes. Later on, I switched to pulling the hair on top of my scalp. I had a bald spot the size of a softball with scabs and sores. I felt like the ugliest, most worthless person alive. I didn’t want my picture taken and I was scared to death of being video-taped, especially from behind. This was such a prison, especially at extended family Christmases. I had lied about how I got the bald spot, and thought that if anyone ever knew the truth, they would think I was disgusting and would label me a freak. I couldn’t tell my parents either… my biggest fear was that they would lock me up in a mental institution. I was sure they were ashamed of me and that I was an embarrassment to them. My Dad was a pastor, and my folks were loving, caring people who made a good home for my sister and I. How could I do this to them?  So, from age 9 until age 15 I locked myself away in a prison of lies and concealment to keep me safe from pain and rejection. The thing I didn’t realize was that my thick walls also prevented anyone from helping me, and created the rejection I wanted so desperately to avoid. What was the answer? The only thing I knew to do was add more stones, making the wall thicker and higher.
When I was baptized at age 13, a day that should have been wonderful as I vowed to follow my Savior, all I could think of as Dad poured the water over my handkerchief-covered bald spot was how disappointed he must be in me, and how ugly I must be in his eyes. I just could not believe that there was a loving heavenly Father who accepted me as I was, no matter how many hairs I pulled or how many scabs covered my head. I had to pay. I was bad. I was weak. I wasn’t good enough. All lies… and I believed every word.
The amazing thing about God is that no matter where you are when you begin with Him, He gently takes you from that point and begins to move you forward. He slowly began taking the stones down. The first step was taking a job as a horse wrangler and kitchen help at a Christian camp. I made friends there on a level I never had before. My faltering, feeble trust grew to a point that I was able to tell my 2 closest friends the truth.  And… they didn’t reject me. They now knew my horrible secret, and it didn’t matter to them. They loved me anyway. This was the first glimmer of light into my dark and lonely fortress.

Oh, that light felt good! I began dismantling a few more stones, and more light came in. As more light came in, the less the power of my dark secret. The rules of hiding hair-pulling slowly lost their hold on me. No, I didn’t (and don’t) walk around with my bald spot exposed for the world to see, but I could talk about it with people. I saw that what Satan was using to lock me up, Jesus was using to help others.
 
 

 

I certainly don’t corner the market on pain and suffering, but because I know this pain, I can understand others who are in similar pain. Because I am willing to allow Jesus to touch my raw head, to see my shame, He does not waste my pain. It is a precious tool to touch the lives of others. That doesn’t mean that I don’t struggle. It doesn’t mean that I like myself all the time.  I have bad days. I still pull and pick and fight the internal battles of bitter self worth. The difference? With each passing moment, my “secret” has less and less power over me. It does not define me anymore.  If others see my weakness, I will praise the Lord… for His strength is made perfect in my weakness.

 

He who began a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.

Rejection: the Shell Defense
April 15, 2008

Rejection. 

I think I handle rejection by trying to be in control of it.  (This may get really confusing when I write it.)  If I am rejected and I am not at my best, I have a great excuse (or maybe several!) to fall back on.  “Well, this isn’t the best I can be.  This isn’t the REAL me.  I can be really pretty if I want to be.  I can play the part of caring and gracious and giving pastor’s wife if I felt like it.  They only rejected me b/c they didn’t see the BEST me.”  You see, how much more scarey it is to face rejection when I AM my best self… when my hair and make up are beautiful, my clothes complement my body perfectly, my demeanor is calm, my movements are graceful, and I am delightfully witty, insightful and charming and not putting my foot in my mouth.  If I am rejected then, there is nothing to fall back on.  Nowhere to deflect it.  No thing on the outside of me to blame it on.  It would be because of me… who I really am at the center… my very heart. 

And so I have put away this one God made me to be and don a shell that will stand between the rejection and my raw, hurting heart.  I talk to it daily to make sure it stays tough:  You are ugly.  You should’ve known better.  You could do better.  You are a liar.  You will never be any different.  You aren’t standing straight.  You shouldn’t be sitting down.  You are lazy…  on and on it goes until I have the new layer of protection on.  At the same time, as I have written before, Jennifer is lonely and hurting and wanting to be loved.  And the shell that I built to protect her from the storm keeps her prisoner.

 

No more.  It is for freedom that Christ sets me free.  The prison door is already open.  I must just be willing to walk through.  Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!!!

 

The Painting and the Artist
April 15, 2008

The Painting and the Artist

(Jennifer Hershberger, November 17, 2007)

 

 

When you look at a painting,

What is your thought:

Of how this painting

Itself begot?

Of how it drew its own shape and line

And chose the hues

With skill refined?

Of how it blended the colors it made

With such an eye,

And hand so stayed?

How it conceived

Of itself so fair,

That you and I would stop and stare?

 

But no.

A painting directs observers’ acclaim

To the One who built the wooden frame

And stretched the canvass,

 Firm and taut,

And primed it to receive His thought;

Who took up brush and paint with skill,

And painted from His heart and will

A work that shows His trained perfection,

And bears of the artist

A small reflection.

 

And so it is with God and man,

For you were formed

By the Master’s hand.

When those around look at you,

They will say, “Who is the Artist? 

Look what He can do!”

 

Clay Pots
April 15, 2008

I wrote this last fall, but it remains in the front of my thoughts. 

Thought I’d open this new venture with it.

 

September 24, 2007

 

I was thinking during church yesterday about pressures and stress.  And I was thinking about clay on a potter’s wheel.  The potter uses different pressures to achieve different results.  If the pressure only pushes from the outside, the lump will have a groove or be pushed off the wheel… but it will never be a useful vessel.  It’s form would never rise up with a shape that is beautiful.  When pressure comes at us from outside and we allow God to use it for our good, his hand meeting that pressure from the inside draws us up into a vessel with a specific shape that can be used for a specific purpose.  It can be so painful, but we can now hold the blessings he wants to put into our lives, pour them out on others, and know that this form is no accident.  This part we thought was a mistake might be the spout on a pitcher that he will use to pour out Living Water for another soul. 

 

 

September 26, 2007

 

What is able to withstand fire must be put through fire.  Where is that verse found?  It has been with me for weeks now.  Ug!  Just checked all the places I know and can’t find it!  Oh well!  God is still using that image with me.

I was thinking of a ceramic bowl that i use to make bread pudding or a deep dish homemade mac and cheese.  Once, that was soft clay, or maybe even liquid clay.  Greenware that was utterly useless for holding anything to eat.  Even if it could, it would be dangerous because of certain toxic substances that would leach into the food while baking.  A ceramic bowl must be formed, then dried, and then put in the kiln…. the fire… before it is of any use to the maker.  And it’s beauty is not revealed until after the firing.  The glazes used to paint a pot go on mostly in neutral hues.  The design may be well planned, interesting, or pretty, but there is little color and no brilliance.  Firing turns that “mud” to a permanent form and brings out the colors in the glazes.  When it cools, it is hard stone.  It is useful for holding food, and it’s beauty has come to full fruit.  It can be filled with something to be baked and put back into the fire… the oven… and is able to withstand the heat without melting or burning up.

I do not want to be a brittle greenware pot, full of unrealized potential just sitting on the shelf.  I want to be fired so that I am strong, and beautiful, and useful to my maker. 

“…if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name… So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”   I Peter 4:16,19

“… we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”  Romans 5:3-5

Resistance builds muscle.

Fire hardens form.

Struggle births blessing.

Pain, if entrusted to the Savior, yeilds joy.

Great sacrifice imparts great worth.

Put through fire to withstand fire.  What will God be using me for?  Because there has been, and continues to be, an awful lot of fire.