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Posts Tagged ‘life’

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You know I love talking about the desires I believe God has laid on my heart. The Dreamer within me will have days when I am productive in nothing else except producing up twenty new ideas about how to minister to teenage girls.

It has been a very long year and a half. However, for the first time in a long time, I have begun to feel as though I have some direction again.

Just last month I completed my training to became a Certified Holy Yoga Instructor. This included 225 hours of  intense, online training for 9 weeks and a week of hardcore training in the mountains of Arizona.

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The gorgeous ladies in my cabin at our Holy Yoga retreat!!

If you would have asked me in high school where I thought I would be at twenty-two years old, a certified yoga instructor would not have even made it in the list of possibilities. God does have a sense of humor.

What to know something even more ridiculous?

I am about to begin six more months of online Holy Yoga training.

Some may not understand why I’m so surprised about where I am in life, but I am. And the only way to explain it, is by giving credit to the Holy Spirit, guiding me on this map-less journey, taking me the road less traveled (Robert Frost).

I am one of those people you could sit down with over coffee and I could clearly describe to you who I am. My interests, passions, quirks, fears, pet peeves, strengths, even list out all of my weaknesses. But, I cannot give you any logical explanation about why I became a Holy Yoga instructor other than the fact that I know this was a step of obedience into God’s grace.

If I had said no, it would have been out of fear. And in Christ’s love, there is no fear (1 John 4).

Henri Nouwen writes, “Over the years we have developed the idea that being present to people in all their needs is our greatest and primary vocation. The Bible does not seem to support this. Jesus’ primary concern was to be obedient to his Father, to live constantly in his presence. Only then did it become clear to him what his task was in his relationship with people.” 

For a few years now, I have consistently repeated to my Mom, “I do not care about a college degree. All I want to do is love God and love people.” In the midst of the darkness that filled my life last year, God answered the prayer I did not even know I had been praying.

Please let this be an encouragement to you. I have NO IDEA where I am going to be in years to come. But, I believe in the faithfulness of the Father who created you and me.

We serve a mighty God. He knows us deeply and intimately, and yearns for us to turn to Him with revered obedience.

In what area of your life is God asking for obedience? Where is He pursuing you?

God has created you specifically with purpose and beautiful intention.

What is it? Do you know? Why don’t you ask Him?

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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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I’m beginning to learn that life is full of the unexpected. I heard that it was, and even tried to teach myself that. But now experience has begun teaching me what I only had stored in my memory as knowledgeable information.

Clinical depression took me back home to my parents. I had to quit the life I had built in that hipster Texas college town. I quit my flexible facilities job. I quit serving in the youth ministry. I quit going to church. I quit going to my friend’s social gatherings. I almost quit my twelve hours at community college, but my parents dragged me out of bed and drove me to school as I sulked in the passenger seat.

My anti-depressants began balancing out my hormones and the good days came more often. I  passed all my classes. I thought the semester would never end.

But it did. It did end.

However, the past year still haunts me.

Late nights staying up laughing and discussing God’s grace with my roommate. Memories of first dates and budding relationships. Two stepping with friends at Cowboys Red River. Nights serving alongside other young adults pouring into teenagers. Serving food to refugees in Germany. Day after day cleaning my area of the church, thoughts came and tears followed. Leg pains at night resulting in restless sleep. Crying uncontrollably for two hours, yearning for the negative thoughts to go away. Pessimism became the new normal. Trivia crack and browsing Pinterest were my best friends as I sat restless in class. Once again, unexplained tears, my boyfriend hugs me for ten minutes, and I hide myself under couch pillows. Tension between my mom and I because I refused to tell her the hurt building inside of me. The look on their faces when I told my loved ones I felt like harming myself. The reality of the disease. The reality that the dark tunnel doesn’t last forever, but it’s crappy in the middle of it. The disease that God has used to bring me into a new season. A season I didn’t expect. A season in my life that is confusing and painful, but the good days do happen. And there is still lots to rejoice about and to thank God for.

Nonetheless, I won’t lie. It hurts. And I still feel lost, like the beginning days of my depression. Lost, teary-eyed, and desiring for someone to hold me and to never let go.

 

 

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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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One of my best friends and I are currently vacationing in Angel Fire, New Mexico.

Today we drove to the artsy town of Taos and explored.

Thankful for this kindred adventurer.

You don’t love someone for their looks, or their clothes, or for their fancy car, but because they sing a song only you can hear. Oscar Wilde

 

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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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