Suicide and Depression

In the last few weeks, I’ve learned of various people who have committed suicide and it’s heart wrenching.  A few of these individuals have been pastors, which hits even closer to home considering that I’m a pastor’s kid, I’m married to a pastor and I am a pastor.  These events have also made me reflect on various people over the years who have committed suicide.

As much as I want to be articulate in this post, I feel so deeply about this subject that I can’t seem to get my words or thoughts into some semblance of order or cohesive progression.  So maybe I’ll just free flow with this post and pray that it’s helpful to you, somehow.

More than anything, I hope that you will be gentle, tender and kind with others and yourself, regardless of any external veneer.  When we are in a car and see a handicapped license plate, sticker or a “baby on board” sign, we will often give that person a little extra consideration, grace and space because we know there’s a vulnerable / fragile person inside that vehicle.

May we also have the same mindset with the people in our lives, appreciating that each person with whom we interact, has their own internal struggles regardless of what the exterior looks like or how they behave.  Let’s be purposeful to:

  • be comforting rather than critical
  • choose mercy over judgment
  • be hopeful more than hostile
  • express patience more than petulance

Do You Need Abundance?

Sometimes we find ourselves running on empty.  This can happen not just with finances, but sometimes we run out of energy, or we don’t have enough time, maybe our relationships feel shallow or perhaps you have more problems than solutions.

Feel free to watch & share this short video to see how Jesus provides for us!

When You Get Bad News

No one gets a pass on receiving bad news.  And recently, I heard some stuff that was discouraging – the opposite of what I’d been asking from God & I was unhappy with opposite outcome of my prayers.  I think it’s pointless to hide my emotions from God or pretend that everything is ok when it’s not.  At the same time, the world doesn’t stop just because we get some bad news.  So here are a few suggestions that could be helpful:

  • Tell God how you feel & what you’re thinking.  Reading Psalms & Job give some really  insightful thoughts & expression to emotions that are raw & real.
  • Perspective adjustments:  sometimes it’s helpful to look at a broader picture than just the bad news
  • Consider the cause:  is it possible that the bad news is a consequence of something you did?  If so, maybe it would be helpful to make some course corrections / different decisions.
  • Choose to trust God:  It always encourages me to remember that God uses all things for the the good to those who love Him & stay aligned with God’s purposes

Feel free to pass this along to any friends / family who might be struggling with getting some bad news

Navigating Turbulent Times

I find that life has seasons of serenity and contrasting times of turbulence.  The danger of serene seasons is that we can become stagnant or let our values get highjacked by comfort and convenience.  In relation to turbulent times, here are a few ideas that you, or a friend, might find helpful:

  • take a walk – I find that walking and talking with God helps me unload anxiety and gain some helpful perspective
  • pay attention to your choices – it’s not uncommon for us to seek comfort in turbulent times & sometimes what “comforts” us can actually be detrimental
  • get some help – this can be a variety of things such as exercise, making a praise & worship playlist, having lunch with a friend, reading a good book, etc
  • anchor in the Bible – it always helps me to find a few key Bible verses to keep in the forefront of my thoughts.  Here are some helpful suggestions:

Ps 55:22, “Cast your cares on Him because He cares for you.”

James 1:2-3, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

Matt 6:33, “Seek first God’s kingdom & everything will be added to you.”

Luke 1:37, “With God, nothing is impossible”

Philippians 4:11, “. . . , for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.”

 

The Flexible Factor

I’m sitting in a room with extremely brilliant people & everyone has various areas of expertise. And in this meeting, regardless of what we’re individually good at, we are all working to contribute past just our expertise. The contributions we are making in this meeting require us to be flexible – to go out of our comfort zone & expertise rather than just staying in our niche. 

I think this is also how we walk with Holy Spirit in our daily living. Generally, when we are experts in a specific area, we can forget to ask for Help or Divine input. But when we keep a flexible mindset, I think we stay more available for input from Holy Spirit, which we need everyday!

What Stresses You?

Each person has unique things that cause stress.  Some folk get stressed with job interviews while others get stressed with traveling to new places.  Mostly, I don’t get stressed about much, except when I’m meeting heaps of new people.  I appreciate that this shouldn’t be something stressful for me, but shouldn’t doesn’t change reality.

No matter what causes you to be stressed, here are some helpful pointers:

  • peace on the inside can help to mitigate external pressure:  Jesus is our Prince of Peace, so it helps me to remember that His leadership in my heart brings peace
  • perspective:  things change, time passes and you grow;  rarely is stress a permanent state of being
  • past inventory:  count up some things from the past that have been stressful and consider how God has helped you to overcome & resolve those challenges.  God is the same today 🙂

Important Parts

Who knew that a metatarsal was so important?!?!!!  For that matter, who even knows what a metatarsal is???

And this is exactly my point. If you’ve ever broken your toe, you’ll know that a metatarsal (toe bone) is super important & helpful for ambulatory ease ,)

Translation: if you want to walk without pain, don’t break your toe!

The same principle holds true in the Body of Christ. Every person is important & plays a vital role, regardless of how visible or invisible they may be. So let’s not compare ourselves to one another because we each play a unique & essential role. Some of us are spleens, eardrums, corneas, colons & clavicles. If you’re a neuron, you’re every bit as vital as a duodenum, albeit entirely different. 

Let’s never belittle nor minimize our place or the role others play throughout the Body of Christ!  You’re essential!!

The Best Multi-Tool

Have you seen those gadgets that look like big pocket knives, but they have various configurations of tools?  Depending on the size of the tool, these contraptions can have screwdrivers, miniature hammers, awls, scissors, files, corkscrews & stuff that is totally baffling to me.  Since I’m not into keeping tools easily accessible, I don’t carry around this kind of thing, although I admit it could be useful.

With this idea, let’s consider that genuine love is the multi-tool perfectly suited for our relationships, regardless of the depth, length or intensity of the relationship.  Here are some of the specific applications that we can use everyday with genuine love as our relationship multi-tool:

  • patience, endurance, stability, faithfulness – these come in handy when you’d rather jet or quit
  • forgiveness, always hoping, believing the best – these are useful for those sharp exchanges & misunderstandings that happen from time to time
  • kind, encouraging, celebrating truth – great tools to build up the other person without being fake
  • selfless, generous – super helpful when we need to go the extra mile
  • celebrating righteousness & being protective – keeping a relationship clean & clear from fleshly clutter is essential to maintaining healthy interactions

Be sure to keep genuine love as your top priority in your relationships!

Traveling Tips

This week, I have a lot of traveling & I would suggest that these tips below can also be helpful throughout our journey in life:

  • Less is more:  I don’t need as much as I think & I don’t like carrying unnecessary things.
  • Security for safety:  human security is never as powerful as divine security.
  • Flexible keeps things fun:  hold lightly to your plans.
  • Wonderful people watching:  consider that God enjoys watching us because God is Love!

Helpful Tips for Learning

My three teenage kids have learning curves with lots of stuff, as do I.  And part of what means to be human is learning. I think that it’s good to always be learning because this helps us to continually grow. So here are some helpful ideas for daily learning:

  • No shame – don’t belittle yourself or others for what is not known or the lack of proficiency.
  • Celebrate progress – don’t let “perfect” sabotage progress.
  • Learning differences – everyone learns in unique ways.
  • Committed to learn – may there never be a day when we don’t learn
  • Be gentle – we learn better with grace rather than harsh 🙂

Happy Friday to you!

Good for the Soul

This morning I tried a new breakfast: quinoa, almonds, blueberries & maple syrup. It was ok for my first attempt & I know it’s better for me than bacon & a cheese omelette  so you m endeavoring to make healthy decisions. 

The same can be said for decisions we make about our souls. Here are a few decisions that are good for the soul:

  • Forgiveness:  keeps the grudge venom neutralized
  • Encouragement:  keeps us with positive thoughts about people
  • Gratitude: keeps us looking for good
  • Trust: keeps us actively declining worry & leaning on God

Keep making healthy choice for your body & soul!

Everywhere A Lesson

Learning can be loads of fun, massively painful or somewhere in the middle. And thankfully, we don’t have to sit in a classroom to learn 🙂

Here are some recent examples of lessons I’m learning in life:

  • Insecurity Insurance: the softball team we played last night needed to feel superior and confident. I decided to be joyful that I could help them feel superior rather than sulk at getting trounced
  • Divine Provisions:  God supplies our needs and even teaches us to be content when there’s deficiency – Phil 4:11-12
  • Training for Success: learning the Romeo & Juliet monologue with my kid is a lesson in diligence & not just memory work
  • Trusting God:  this is a daily and even hourly decision based on Prov 22:19

What could be some everyday lessons Holy Spirit could be showing you?

Stormy Seasons

Life seems to have seasons that are stormy, despite our best efforts for stability, serenity & certainty.  Stormy seasons can include:  getting laid off from a job, a marital crisis, a literal tornado, health accident or diagnosis and LOADS more.  If we’ve invited Jesus into our lives as storm prevention insurance, there’s a good chance that we’ll be disappointed.  I say this because Jesus never promises us that walking with Him will prevent all storms.  Indeed, walking with Jesus can make for some stormy times in life, both in our interior and exterior.

The exterior stormy seasons happen for lots of reasons, but thankfully Jesus gives us peace on the inside that can be greater than the external storm.  Sometimes we have seasons in our lives where our guts feel stormy:  when we’re unsettled, hurt, disappointed with God, wrestling with temptation, feeling discouraged, depleted or depressed, etc.

I’m thankful that Jesus is the Prince of Peace and that there is no storm, internal or external, that Jesus cannot calm.  Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus, no matter the season of life in which we find ourselves!

Easy or Hard?

I like the “easy button” and easy for me includes: washing dishes, ironing, international travel, languages, grocery shopping, simple cooking and reading my Bible.  In contrast, I don’t like to do stuff that’s hard, which includes:  getting in shape, seeing suffering babies, recovering from jet lag and being gracious rather than snarky.

No doubt, you have your own lists of things that are easy and hard.  But just because something is hard, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done or we shouldn’t try to do it.  I say this because of my morning Bible reading in Philippians 2:7, where Paul says about Jesus, “He emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”  This verse speaks to Jesus entering the human race, from start to finish, and experiencing human existence.  From my perspective, I would think that might have been difficult for Jesus to do – but He did it nonetheless.

If God asks you to do hard stuff, ask for divine Help and try!  Whethere something is hard or easy, let’s pre-decide to remain obedient and faithful to God!

That’s Awkward

Last night, I got to play on the softball team w my church & it was LOTS of fun!!  However, I felt not just a little awkward because I was the pitcher & I’ve never pitched before. So it was a vertical learning curve for me & some parts were just flat out ugly. 

And sometimes following God doesn’t feel smooth or suave.  Indeed, a lot of times when I follow God, I feel uncomfortable & awkward. But I’d prefer to follow God & feel awkward rather than not follow God & feel suave. And maybe that’s the whole point:  following God isn’t about our feelings but rather about obedience, full stop. Following God will likely make your flesh feel awkward & uncomfortable, but follow God nonetheless. I’d rather follow God & have my flesh be uncomfortable rather than not follow God & have my flesh be comfortable 🙂

Mind the Mouth

“Oooooos!”  I wish I had a dollar for every time I said something I wish I could’ve retracted. And then on the other side, there are also many times I wish I would’ve said something but didn’t. Too much talking or too little talking, each have their own shortfalls. So having discretion & wisdom with our words is massively helpful & constructive!  

Here are a few ideas that could be helpful with minding the mouth:

  • Affirmation – being encouraging is very helpful! 
  • Graceful truth – important investments that help us grow! 
  • Saying good – words that speak life rather than death express genuine love!

I Want a Wetsuit

Because I live in Colorado, swimming in lakes & reservoirs can be an arctic experience. I’m not a polar bear & an igloo is not my residential preference.  Nonetheless, last Summer I tried two open water swims & despite being a relatively proficient swimmer, I thought I was going to freeze & drown, until I tried a wetsuit. Then everything changed. 

The wetsuit insulated my skin & internal organs from the chilly water, it made me more buoyant & I could actually swim without hyperventilating     

Maybe walking w Holy Spirit is kind of like wearing a daily wetsuit that helps us navigate daily living without getting frozen in impossibilities or drowning in fear. Indeed, walking with Holy Spirit everyday helps us to do what is impossible in our natural abilities. Walking with Holy Spirit is comforting & encouraging. And walking with Holy Spirit keeps us moving forward w God’s divine purpose & design in our individual lives!

Let’s wear Holy Spirit like our favorite snuggly hoodie 🙂

Loving Well

I received a text message from a friend this morning with a totally fantastic prayer & this has made me smile almost continuously!  I’m smiling because her prayer was very personal to me & deeply encouraging. As I’ve thought about this, it’s brought to mind that her text prayer to me is an expression of genuine love, which makes me think of lots of different ways we can express genuine love today!!  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Encouraging words – meaningful compliments & heartfelt affirmations are great ways to communicate love! 
  • Post some kind words in a friends FB wall. 
  • Run an errand that could free up some time for a friend / family member.
  • Send a nice card in the mail to someone who wouldn’t expect it.
  • Be friendly & engaging with the check out person at the grocery store.
  • Do something meaningful for your mate or a family member that lets them know you love them, unique to their preferences (not just what you would like). 

Let’s love well today!!

Is There Peace?

Once Jesus rose from the dead, I think the disciples maybe had less anxiety for a few reasons. And maybe we could pick up a few pointers that could be helpful, since anxiety could be a challenge for a few of us.

  • Jesus raising from the dead changed the game because death didn’t get the final say – and nothing is impossible in our lives!
  • Jesus is in the future – this helps me to relax knowing that Jesus is timeless
  • Jesus is about the individual & not only the masses – the Prince of Peace was intentional to seek out individual encounters to resolve questions, doubts & reconciliation.

What Gets You Amp’ed?

In church life, it’s pretty common for people to have great ideas but not much elbow grease to do the great ideas. I wish I had a nickel for every time some has said, “Hey! Y’all should do . . . [insert great idea]”
In the early days of the church, there was a problem related to the food distribution & the apostles’ answer was to tell the congregation to find men who had a good reputation & filled with the Holy Spirit to take over the food distribution.
Rather than take over the problem, the apostles used the challenge as a way to increase the ministry. They continued to pray & preach while adding on a hugely helpful component of humanitarian ministry.
Maybe the things that get you frustrated, angry or upset could possibly be the places where God would have you roll up your sleeves & invest some elbow grease 🙂
It’s something to think about today!