Archive

Freedom

This is from my Facebook Page. Hope it encourages you.- Sherry

One of my friends shared a “status” today about the struggle of dark thoughts coming in to crowd out the desire to live, Even people who have amazing lives, great families and many reasons for joy, can have moments where leaving this life and going on the the next is an overwhelming struggle. The promise of heaven can be as much a temptation to depart this life for those who believe it will be exponentially better, as the doubt that it matters at all for those who do not believe in a meaningful afterlife.

For those who have placed faith in Jesus and who are looking for that blessed and eternal hope, the fact that sometimes dark thoughts come, and even the desire to be done with this life can seem horrible and sinful. I think many people hide in that place of struggle, and it is that fear of sharing the truth, that sometimes the darkness crowds in and presses strongly even against those who love God and have faith, that pushes some people to end their lives themselves or to linger for many years alone, in fear of admitting what they are dealing with.
I will openly say that I am familiar with that pressing darkness and it is not something to be ashamed of, but rather something to look to the Lord for and to be willing to acknowledge that, as they say, “the struggle is real”.

Here are the brief thoughts I shared with my friend this morning:

I think we all experience this feeling of darkness at some time. Even Paul said he wanted to live for the sake of others, but as for himself he would rather be done with life and go on to the next. Sometimes in spots, living feels more like dying as we lay ourselves down for the sake of those we love, when our own lives seem less worth living. As hardships come, and loss, and difficulty, it can seem that the small, fleeting pleasures of this life, even those that are amazing, like the dear love of a spouse and the treasures of a precious family, are very pale when dark moments cloud us and the longing for the next life, free of pain, can press in very strongly. I think God allows us moments or even seasons of feeling this way, so we will reach for Him in a deeper way, and lean into His arms of strength and compassion.

Yet, He does not want darkness or death to overtake us, nor for us to linger in despair or sorrow. He tells us to “be of good cheer” to remind us that He has already overcome this world and it’s sadness and wearisome toil. The time we spend both laboring and weeping here will be nothing in comparison to the eternal pleasures we will experience at His right hand!

If a wave of dark presses against our minds and taunts us with the false temptation that we should be the one to choose our own time to “change spaces” to the easier life that heaven allures us with, we know we must resist, for God alone determines the number of our days, and if He has us here on earth, it is for His purposes and glory, and our preparation to enter His presence.

If the dark thoughts come, better to be open and to share them with those who care and who can help us gain perspective and find ways to return to the joyful state God has created us to live in. When things remain hidden in the darkness, they cannot be healed and overcome, it is by living in the light, that we can be restored to truth.

Advertisements

To know you are loved

To be secure and safe from threat of harm or violation

To be known and to know others deeply in truth

To be real and authentic about where you are on the journey

To trust

To be trusted

To be allowed to mature at the proper pace

To find acceptance in weakness

To be encouraged to grow

To learn to thrive

To share wisdom and grow in grace

To keep company with both the strong and the weak

To have enough and be willing to share

To work with diligence in the areas you are called

To pour out goodness and kindness from a filled heart

To abide in peace that defies understanding

To act with compassion towards the undeserving

To acknowledge your need to both give and receive all of these
To take time to rest and receive restoration.
To love and acknowledge God’s proper place in life

 

Because each is a piece of wholeness
Love’s energy pushes us beyond survival

Being in a connected relationship with the Creator of all

Formed through the gift of sacrifice and grace offered freely

While engaging in bonded ties with those who are also created

To be loved and known and treated with esteem

This is the full life God desires and designed for us

It is for all of this that God came to show us how to live and love

This is what Jesus longs to give to us

This is what we should aspire to liveImage

We build our houses of brick and steel
Glass and doors with locks as shields
Structures as fortresses to hold us safe
Yet there is a sweetness to sleeping in tents in fields
With the simplest of needs met and fresh air and open space surrounding us
Removed from the drudge of keeping up appearances
Filling our lungs and clearing our minds from the clutter of maintaining
Our home place we fill with possessions and comforts
Then we spend all our time fighting to protect and shuffle them
Position brings security, we climb another level our money keeping us afloat like a battleship
In a minute our neighbors could be the wolves at the door
Be they near, or far, shifting to tip the world in their favor
The pressure of life to compete and change, diversify our portfolios, stay in the game
We fight the fear of having to live in a tent or a small space where life is basic
Yet the minute we can, many run and escape to it

Life is a mix of happy and sad

Sometimes just walking through the market you meet

Them both and they seem to slap your face

While grasping each other’s hands

Recovering from the dumps and keeping a joyful

Temperament

Is the mysterious formula we must find to succeed to

Avoid lingering too long in lament

To manage the stressors and true hard breaks

Return our souls to the center of joy

In the face of difficulty and pain and toil

Sorrow cannot always be avoided

Nor trouble eliminated

No matter how many management techniques we use to

Try to escape it

Finding the way to be content and at peace

Amidst the struggle and heartbreak

Daily grinding us towards defeat

Keeping eyes fixed on the promise

When the aches are real

When the little foxes in the vineyard

Nip away and seek to steal

Hope spring eternal

Love overcome

Yet be true to express the sadness

So healing’s arms can warm us up

Honesty is a step on the staircase to wholeness

Sharing the burden is the design meant to enfold

Image

When the Siren song sings loud in your ears

Crying out to make you come to a bittersweet end

Luring you with melancholy or the promise of escape from agony

Plug your ears with the wax of bees and listen to them not

Bind your mind to the mast of Truth and Love’s laws

Throw not in your lot with those

Who seek your flesh and will eat your soul

Devouring roamers who fill the night

With lies which dash when brought into light

Dark despair, which seems so real

Is but a myth of temptation to drag you down

Sing the song of life, more loud and beautiful

And the demons which have haunted will be drowned themselves

-Sherry Carlstrom January 16, 2014

Depression and anguished thoughts come to torment us all, they sing the songs of sadness. We must turn away from the rocks they seek to dash us on and listen instead to the truth.

“When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul. – Psalm 94:19

“Why are you downcast oh my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God.” Psalm 42:11

The lies can rage so desperately, making you teeter from anger to despair, hopelessness to anxiety. Irrational images of the situation surround with sorrow. All can seem lost, when in fact, it is only the voices of  mythical creatures crying, calling you to their island of tragedy where they hope to pile your body along with other corpses of those who listened.

Don’t listen.

Regard no one according to the flesh? What????Such a challenging concept for us to live out this life while in the flesh, the mortal bodies which tend towards judgements according to the things we see with our eyes and our ears and even those things we take in through our minds. To be controlled only by the love of Christ and His regard for each person as He sees them, as His ambassadors, reconciling all people to Jesus and then treating them as He does, according to the spirit and not according to the principles of the world.

Paul lays it out in 2 Corinthians 5:15-21

“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;  and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creationThe old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;  that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.   For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Yet,  often we DO keep regarding people according to the flesh. We look at the skin, the arrangement of the hair, the style a person owns or doesn’t or specific talents a person may possess or skills they have developed and we group ourselves with them or compare ourselves to them according to the principles of the world.  Humans often do not judge with righteous judgement but rather with fleshly concepts.  We categorize people into groups, we define with words that compliment or degrade. Even when we are trying to be gracious and even-handed our own preferences and words often give away our perceptions and judgements of others. We value one person over another based on externals.

One of my favorite books is “You are Special” by Max Lucado as it so clearly lays out how God looks at each person He created with Hid heart of love for the Uniqueness He placed internally in each one.

Here is a summary of the books beautiful message:

You Are Special

by Max Lucado  

“The Wemmicks were small wooden people. Each of the wooden people was carved by a woodworker named Eli. His workshop sat on a hill overlooking their village. Every Wemmick was different. Some had big noses, others had large eyes. Some were tall and others were short. Some wore hats, others wore coats. But all were made by the same carver and all lived in the village. And all day, every day, the Wemmicks did the same thing: They gave each other stickers. Each Wemmick had a box of golden star stickers and a box of gray dot stickers. Up and down the streets all over the city, people could be seen sticking stars or dots on one another.

The pretty ones, those with smooth wood and fine paint, always got stars. But if the wood was rough or the paint chipped, the Wemmicks gave dots. The talented ones got stars, too. Some could lift big sticks high above their heads or jump over tall boxes. Still others knew big words or could sing very pretty songs. Everyone gave them stars.

Some Wemmicks had stars all over them! Every time they got a star it made them feel so good that they did something else and got another star. Others, though, could do little. They got dots.

Punchinello was one of these. He tried to jump high like the others, but he always fell. And when he fell, the others would gather around and give him dots.

Sometimes when he fell, it would scar his wood, so the people would give him more dots. He would try to explain why he fell and say something silly, and the Wemmicks would give him more dots. After a while he had so many dots that he didn’t want to go outside. He was afraid he would do something dumb such as forget his hat or step in the water, and then people would give him another dot. In fact, he had so many gray dots that some people would come up and give him one without reason. “He deserves lots of dots,” the wooden people would agree with one another. “He’s not a good wooden person.”

After a while Punchinello believed them. “I’m not a good Wemmick,” he would say. The few times he went outside, he hung around other Wemmicks who had a lot of dots. He felt better around them.

One day he met a Wemmick who was unlike any he’d ever met. She had no dots or stars. She was just wooden. Her name was Lucia. It wasn’t that people didn’t try to give her stickers; it’s just that the stickers didn’t stick. Some admired Lucia for having no dots, so they would run up and give her a star. But it would fall off. Some would look down on her for having no stars, so they would give her a dot. But it wouldn’t stay either. ‘That’s the way I want to be,’thought Punchinello. ‘I don’t want anyone’s marks.’ So he asked the stickerless Wemmick how she did it. “It’s easy,” Lucia replied. “every day I go see Eli.”

“Eli?” “Yes, Eli. The woodcarver. I sit in the workshop with him.” “Why?” “Why don’t you find out for yourself? Go up the hill. He’s there.”

And with that the Wemmick with no marks turned and skipped away. “But he won’t want to see me!” Punchinello cried out. Lucia didn’t hear. So Punchinello went home. He sat near a window and watched the wooden people as they scurried around giving each other stars and dots. “It’s not right,” he muttered to himself. And he resolved to go see Eli. He walked up the narrow path to the top of the hill and stepped into the big shop. His wooden eyes widened at the size of everything. The stool was as tall as he was. He had to stretch on his tiptoes to see the top of the workbench. A hammer was as long as his arm. Punchinello swallowed hard. “I’m not staying here!” and he turned to leave. Then he heard his name.

“Punchinello?” The voice was deep and strong. Punchinello stopped. “Punchinello! How good to see you. Come and let me have a look at you.” Punchinello turned slowly and looked at the large bearded craftsman. “You know my name?” the little Wemmick asked.

“Of course I do. I made you.” Eli stooped down and picked him up and set him on the bench. “Hmm,” the maker spoke thoughtfully as he inspected the gray circles. “Looks like you’ve been given some bad marks.” “I didn’t mean to, Eli. I really tried hard.” “Oh, you don’t have to defend yourself to me, child. I don’t care what the other Wemmicks think.” “You don’t?”

No, and you shouldn’t either. Who are they to give stars or dots?They’re Wemmicks just like you. What they think doesn’t matter, Punchinello. All that matters is what I think. And I think you are pretty special.”Punchinello laughed. “Me, special? Why? I can’t walk fast. I can’t jump. My paint is peeling. Why do I matter to you?”

Eli looked at Punchinello, put his hands on those small wooden shoulders, and spoke very slowly. “Because you’re mine. That’s why you matter to me.”Punchinello had never had anyone look at him like this–much less his maker. He didn’t know what to say.”Every day I’ve been hoping you’d come,” Eli explained.”I came because I met someone who had no marks.””I know. She told me about you.”“Why don’t the stickers stay on her?””Because she has decided that what I think is more important than what they think. The stickers only stick if you let them.”

“What?””The stickers only stick if they matter to you. The more you trust my love, the less you care about the stickers.””I’m not sure I understand.””You will, but it will take time. You’ve got a lot of marks. For now, just come to see me every day and let me remind you how much I care.” Eli lifted Punchinello off the bench and set him on the ground. “Remember,” Eli said as the Wemmick walked out the door. “You are special because I made you. And I don’t make mistakes.”

Punchinello didn’t stop, but in his heart he thought, “I think he really means it.”And when he did, a dot fell to the ground.

May all your dots fall silently to the ground, for if given by man, they matter only to other men, if given by the Gods, no one questions, the scars that make up our lives. (when given the choice, pass out stars, drop the dots in the trash.) “

– Max Lucado

I pray this for you, I pray this for me.. For myself I wish for clearer eyes to see, like He sees.Sherry

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0891079319/o/qid=962106786/sr=2-3/103-7972427-0912600

After almost 3 years on “The Book”, Facebook, that is. I am taking a self-imposed hiatus to focus myself on hearing from God for vision and direction. Time to be more still, and quiet and to channel some of my energies into other writing projects and to make sure I am getting enough time at the gym and on the track.

Face it, I love Facebook, because Facebook =People and details, both of which I sincerely enjoy.  For me, I can say FB has been almost all positive and I think it will be again, it has opened many portals of relationship and a chance to bounce some thoughts off of a diverse group of people with oftentimes almost immediate feedback.  For someone with my personality profile, FB offers tremendous and unlimited access to people, what is not to love :-)? So, for me, it really will be a “fast” of sorts and I am pretty certain to have some sort of withdrawal symptoms. My family, and a few of my friends will be sure to tease me about it.

We have also unplugged and moved our television set and plan to cancel things like Netflix for a time, so the drain is going to be pretty massive. I think we might actually finish some of our read-aloud books, and play some Scrabble.

If you want to touch base, send me an e-mail,  or if you have my number, a text message, or GASP, call me, or stop by and have a cup of tea, really. Perhaps a game of cards or Scrabble?

In the meantime, I plan to blog, so check in and see what comes of my quiet. I know I will miss you.

Sherry