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Posts Tagged ‘hope’

 

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Camel Pose!

This morning I sat in church tearing up out of awed gratitude.

Matt Chandler interviewed Jeff and Cheryl Scruggs about the testament of God’s faithfulness in their marriage and their story reminded me about how faithful God has been in my life over this past year.

Those of you who have experienced or have had a loved one experience the cloud of clinical depression, you know how dark and grueling the cloud is. The cloud enslaves your inner world and you are trapped inside a shadow of indescribable sadness, where hope seems unreachable. The person you once knew disappears and you wonder if you will ever be yourself again. Days and nights I cried wondering where “Naomi” went? Where did the joy go? Where is God in the darkness? I need saving, because I am confused, scared, angry, and sad.

I can now honestly say that for the past few weeks I have been feeling normal and the cloud of depression is not hovering anymore. My life has been on pause for about 11 months and I am thoroughly excited to have the stamina to begin committing to various activities again. Yes, I am still in counseling, taking two different anti-depressants, eating nutritiously, staying active, attempting to sleep at least 8 hours each night, and trying to keep in mind my social energy so I don’t spread myself too thin. I also do not know what the future holds, and I may have another breakdown in the years to come. However, for now, I feel fantastically Naomi. I feel like myself again. And I feel free. No, that does not mean I am chipper every single second or that all fears have passed away. But, the dark cloud which hovered for a number of months is no longer shading me from the sunny days and new blossoms.

This past Spring I participated in a Bible Study with the women in my home group and we studied the book of 1 Peter. The verses which stood out to me then also continues to stand out to me now as a reminder of God’s faithfulness over the past year.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9-10

As children of God, Jesus sacrificed Himself on the cross for our sins and brought us into the Light of His Life. Similarly, God has used depression in my life as an illustration of the Gospel, bringing me out of the darkness and into His marvelous light.

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Working on my Mermaid pose!

Even though I am currently feeling fantastically Naomi, depression is tricky and every individual battles with this mental illness a little bit differently. Plus being a human being with lots of emotions can be confusing. Who knows, tomorrow something may occur and my depression is triggered. Yet, Matthew 6:34 reminds me not to let tomorrow be a worry. So, I will end it here sharing with you how free I am now feeling after being under the bondage of depression, something which I never expected to experience.

 God is faithful in the midst of the cloudy and the sunny.

How is God working in your life?

 

 

 

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This past week I was so negative.  I blamed it on my body hormones and possibly my anti-depressants not working properly. That could have been true, but I am also trying not to use my depression as an excuse for sin or even using it as an identity fallback.

My identity is found in Christ. Praise God for reminding me of life giving hope and reigniting my soul with the Gospel that drives me forward.

As some of you know, God has me in a season of healing.

Last semester  was dark, hopeless, lonely…and God has transitioned me into a season of uncertainty. A season in which all I can answer sometimes is, “I don’t know”, wondering when the “good ‘ole days” will come again.

This past week  I was in tears off and on fighting the battle of self worth.

I am twenty-two, barely a sophomore in college, trying to figure out what the heck I am even suppose to be doing.

I have changed so much since last August. I am trying to learn who this new Naomi is. My battle with clinical depression has taught me a depth of pain I had not experienced prior. God has also taught me how important it is not to lose sight of the Hope we have in Him.

God has used various conversations in the past twenty-four hours to remind me that I am in a good place. God reminded me that is it my relationship with Jesus Christ which drives me forward, not my circumstances.

I have recently been fighting the lies of rejection, approval, expectations, insecurities…and all the while trying to live for Jesus.

Something that weighs on my heart regarding Christian culture is the fear to be honest about the crap.

Y’all. Earth is not our home. Life is hard. And it is okay to say it.

People die. Family members are chronically ill. Break-ups suck. Divorce is common. Babies are murdered. Lies are spoken. Materialism steals our paychecks. Marriage becomes an idol. Self-righteousness turns our head the other direction. Friends move away. People are fired from their job. Smiling tolerance is expected. Our body weight turns us into vomiting robots…

And at some point we begin dreading going to church for fear that someone will find out how deep we are genuinely hurting.

It is okay to hurt. It is okay not to be okay. Grieving is healthy. However, we cannot stay in the pain. Let’s encourage one another onward. Even in the small moments, God’s ways are big. God is constant. His love is steadfast. He is King of Kings. He is the Creator of everything. He knows our deepest fears and our deepest desires. He knows how no one else understands how you feel. He knows how much life hurts.

So, life on earth is going to be crappy. Life will be uncertain.

But can we please learn how to be honest and encourage one another back to the truth of the Gospel?  The Gospel is not a matter of self disciplined quiet times and college degrees. The Gospel is this:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16-17 (ESV)

No matter the season you are in, you are in a beautiful place.

God has you (and the whole world) in His hands.

Let’s dwell on that Truth together.

 

 

 

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There are random moments during my days of clinical depression when I suddenly feel  almost normal again. The dreamer inside of me comes back to life, and my imagination soars with possibility. During these moments of feeling almost normal, I am reminded of some of my deepest dreams. One of which is to share with women how deeply beautiful and unique they are.

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Women who have also experienced clinical depression will understand when I say my self esteem has reached levels below the zero on the number line. Confidence in the individual beauty that God gave me has been forgotten. Yes, the inner beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit is eternal (2 Peter 3:3-4). However, God reflects His beauty in woman. He has given women the desire to feel and deeply know they are beautiful in their own skin.

“Given the way creation unfolds, how it builds to ever higher and higher works of art, can there be any doubt that Eve is the crown of creation? Not an afterthought. Not a nice addition like an ornament on a tree. She is God’s final touch…She fills a place in the world nothing and no one else can fill. Step to a window, ladies, if you can. Better still, find some place with a view. Look out across the earth and say to yourselves, ‘The whole, vast world is incomplete without me. Creation reached its zenith in me.'” (For more information, check out John and Stasi Eldredge’s eye opening book, Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul)

No other woman has your exact eyebrows, eye shape, legs, arms, lips, ears, hair, nose, etc…In Psalm 139, David points to our individuality from God our Creator.

We are fearfully and wonderfully made.

(Insert your name here), do you believe that?

I am currently asking myself the same question. Do I believe that?

I, Naomi, am fearfully and wonderfully made. Really?

I was born with a heart defect, resulting in open heart surgery. Even with my scar, do I believe I am fearfully and wonderfully made? Do I believe I am beautiful? The days I wish my straight hair was curly and voluminous, do I believe I am beautiful? The days when my eyebrows are in desperate need of an eyebrow wax, do I believe I am beautiful? The days I feel my height is too tall, do I believe I am beautiful? The days when I trace my nose and cringe when I feel the bone that brings a slight curve to my nose shape, do I believe I am beautiful? The days when my legs do not look as toned as I noticed on the other woman while I was out shopping, do I believe I am beautiful?

God, our Creator, our Father, thinks the world of us.

He rejoices in us and He rejoices in His creation of woman.

You, (insert your name here), are made in the image of God.

You, (insert your name here), reflect the magnificent beauty of God.

You, (insert your name here), are BEAUTIFUL. 

Now quit reading this and go do something that brings a smile to your beautiful face!

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“Barrett, do you know how to do the monkey bars?” I asked the four-year old boy.

“Mhmm…” he responded.

“Here, I will help you.”

I hold his lower half as he swiftly swings his arms from bar to bar.

Barrett reaches the end of the monkey bars, which is attached to the wooden play fortress.

I let go of him as he insists to climb over the outside of the fortress all by himself. He tries and tries, but isn’t able to climb over it.

“I can’t do it. I’m stuck.” Barrett yells down to me.

“Barret, let go, I will catch you.”

He hesitates.

“Barrett, trust me.”

He lets go and I gently lower him to the ground.

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Dried snot.

Dirty clothes.

Sandy bodies.

Poopy diapers.

Bubble baths.

Smiling faces.

Unending laughter.

No matter how old we are, we are all like little children.

We are incapable to do life by ourselves. We try, but to no avail.

We are unable to care for ourselves. We are grimy and covered in muck.

We need someone to give us a bubble bath.

We need someone to make us clean.

Through Jesus Christ we are white as snow.

Through all of the dirtiness of life, we can still smile, because He has already won the battle.

Children, let us laugh all through the day.

When we are stuck, let us cry out to God.

Let us not hesitate.

He is speaking to us all the time.

“Beloved, trust Me.”

Let us fall into His loving arms.

Let us become like children, because our Father sent His only Son, to save us from the muck.

The Gospel is simple.

Trust Him.

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus saying, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’

He called a child, had him stand among them, and said,

‘I tell you the truth, unless you turn around and become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven!

Whoever then humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'”

Matthew 18:1-4 9 (NET)

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A few recent comments from “my” boys…

Colton (2):

“Malk. Chocla Malk.”

“Nomi Baff.”

Barrett (4):

“When you become a grandma, you can’t swing. Grandma’s are too big.”

“When you throw the sand like this, it looks like a tornado!”

“Charlee (puppy) peed on the floor.”

Hudson (6):

“Where is heaven?”

“Where do bad guys go?”

“How do you get to heaven?”

“There will be lots and lots of chocolate in heaven!”

“Naomi, can you read some of the Bible to me?”

“God, I pray you take care of Naomi as she drives home and let mom have a fun birthday.”

These boys absolutely melt my heart. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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thoughts

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these are my thoughts today

unknown. fears. worries. concerns.

all being turned into hopes and dreams

dreams of the person i want to become

dreams of the person i hope to be

dreams of the person i ardently long to be

yes i long to be Christ’s faithful servant

He brings hope

thankfully or else my dreams and hopes would seem impossible

i want to be a runner

i want to be a reader

i want to read, read, and read some more

i want to read novels and be enraptured by everything a novel brings forth

i want to know people

i want to learn who people are

i want to travel (I believe this longing has something to do with the fact that our citizenship is in Heaven {Philippians 3})

i long for people to know that life is more than drugs, sex, alcohol, wealth, popularity, etc.

life is about serving

life is about living

life is about pursuing the interests God has given you and embracing your individuality

so if reading, outside breeze, flowers, people, photography, and simplicity (to name a few) exhilarates my heart

then i want to run fast and hard towards that exhilaration

i have no idea what tomorrow brings forth, or even how the rest of today will play out

i do know that GOD IS SOVERIGN

i do know that He longs for us to bask in the person He created us to be

so there are my thoughts

what are your thoughts

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Do you ever think about what that statement really means? Is Jesus really with us every day? What does that look like?

Whenever I meet up with my mentor, she will laugh and say we need to pull up a chair for Jesus.

We laugh, and with a serious expression she says, “No really, Naomi, Jesus is with us. He is sitting with us right here, right now.”

There are so many things on our mind daily.

Procrastinated essays, broken friendships, kids needing your constant attention, that specific boy/girl always on your mind, all the what if’s, the dream job you’re applying for, your parents are hurting, bitterness harboring in your heart, you need to work out more, etc….

Big /small, good/bad they are there, in our minds, keeping us busy from remembering who walks besides us.

A couple weeks ago I was praying and the latter part of Matthew 28:20 came to mind.

…and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

Jesus just finished telling His disciples to preach to all nations, baptize them, and encouraged believers to follow what He has commanded of His followers. Jesus concludes reminding His disciples (and all readers) that He will always be with us.

Romans 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Again, I do not know about you, but currently many things cloud my mind. I have questions, worries, comments, opinions, concerns, hopes, and dreams. I do not have answers.

I do know that Jesus is the IT. He is what everyone is unceasingly searching for, though they may not even know it themselves.

I do know that He is always with us. I know and I believe He is always walking with us.

So today, take time and acknowledge His sovereignty.

Walk with Him. He is already walking with you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On July 12, 2013 my Great Aunt Gloria left this world of suffering to be in the eternal presence of God.

My family was in Angel Fire, New Mexico celebrating our bi-annual family reunion.

Everyone was groggy with bedhead lounging around eating breakfast. My Dad comes into the room and announces that my great aunt passed away the night before.

I pretty much collapsed as I slowly walked to my dad’s open arms.

People have told me that an individual will experience death’s grief over someone close to them. There isn’t a way around that in the tainted world we live in.

Aunt Gloria was the first time I’ve experienced something of the sort.

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Sometime before 2000
(I’m the one on the left with the dark blue dress.)

I guess I should explain that before the last two years, I hadn’t really known who Gloria Jean Hargrove was. Growing up, Aunt Gloria was simply an extended family member who always brought the tastiest deviled eggs to the family holidays. But, as I came to discover, she wasn’t just another extended relative. Aunt Gloria was a kind, wise, and loving woman of God. She lived life without fear, a confidence like none other I’ve known. She outlived her husband, and three children, and raised one of her grandsons as her own. Aunt Gloria loved and she invested her time loving on earth. Mumford and Sons writes in one of their songs, “And where you invest your love, you invest your life”. That is exactly what Gloria did.

Never let your age discourage you. Never think that because you are too young or too old you are unable to inspire someone. At 84 years old, God used Aunt Gloria to speak Truth into my life.

In the Fall of 2011 I began visiting Aunt Gloria in her nursing home. She’d inform me once again how bad the food was and how nothing was really happening at the nursing home. In return, she would listen to me go on and on about my daily life. I would share with her my ideas about school papers, dates to dances, discoveries about my personal relationship with God, etc.

Right before I turned 18, I was sharing with her that my parents were hosting an 18th Blessing at my house and I was to share my testimony. I told her that I didn’t really know what to say in my testimony, because most testimonies I hear at various places are filled with partying, pain and suffering. Then God comes along and brings hope…she stopped me in the middle of my ramble, looked at me and said, “Naomi, you don’t have to suffer to be grateful. And you have so much to be grateful for.”

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Christmas 2011

She taught me then and there that this life isn’t to be taken lightly. I should be more than grateful that I had the opportunity of growing up in a Christian home, surrounded by people that love the Lord with their life. I should be grateful that God protected me from involvement in things I shouldn’t be involved in.

Though her body was deteriorating, her mind was as sharp as ever.

And her faith in God even stronger.

“Being a Christian is but a dead thing unless we are filled with the Spirit of divine life.” Charles Spurgeon

Gloria was definitely filled with the Spirit.

Not only did Gloria’s relationship with God stand out in her life, but she lived a full life.

She approached life as an adventure, a journey, with a zeal to embrace life as God gives.

In his novel, The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan writes,

“This hill, though high, I covet to ascend;
The difficulty will not me offend.
For I perceive the way to life lies here.
Come, pluck up, heart; let’s neither faint nor fear.
Better, though difficult, the right way to go,
Than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe.”

Gloria gave the nursing home workers chocolate as little “rewards”. Whenever I visited her, she’d offer me chocolate as well. One time in this past year I was hesitating about eating a second chocolate. A smile on her face, Aunt Gloria declared, “Eat another chocolate, live dangerously.”

Gloria Jean Hargrove was an intricately designed human being. Like all of us, she had a unique personality and a unique look to her. God used Gloria to teach me that everyone needs someone to view them in this light. Every individual is intricately created for God’s glory.

I cannot say it enough. Invest in people’s lives. And heed the wisdom given to you.

Smile. Be transparent. Make known of what God has done in your life.

Psalm 20:7 writes, “Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God.”

At times I look at my great aunt’s passing in a negative and selfish light. Thinking, “Now I can’t talk to her anymore. I didn’t see her enough. I this. I that…”

I am sad.

I wish I had invested in her life more.

But, you know what? This is not the end. I will see her again. She is no longer paralyzed.

We will walk the streets of gold together. We will worship God together on the New Heaven and the New Earth.

My best friend encouraged me with the following words when I told her of my great aunt’s passing:

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

On the drive home from my family reunion in New Mexico I was listening to Needtobreathe. One of their songs, Streets of Gold, specifically caught my attention.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urGMGOvYyjA

Indeed, the day will come when Aunt Gloria and I will walk the streets of gold.

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