Candy blogs: The day has finally come … the day that marks the 10 year anniversary of 9-11. Like any bittersweet anniversary, we anticipate yet dread the day. I was at work like any other day on 9-11. Someone in the office heard the first news reports and we all trickled into the conference room to watch the coverage. We looked nervously at each other at first, wondering if it was going to be all right to be watching television, away from our work. As we began to hear that there were four planes, it began to dawn on us that this was a TERRORIST attack … on American soil. It felt like it had happened right in our neighborhood. It was a gut-wrenching and nauseating day.
We will never forget: Times of impact: 8:46 a.m. and 9:02 a.m. Time the burning towers stood: 56 minutes and 102 minutes. Time they took to fall: 12 seconds. 2819 dead from 115 different nations. 343 Fireman/paramedics, 23 NYPD, 37 Port Authority officers. Our hearts are broken, but our flag is still there. God bless America–the land of the free and the home of the brave. (from a post on Facebook)
The “bitter” is obvious. This attack on America wrought by hatred of all we stand for put a gaping hole in our collective hearts. And yet it is “sweet” to remember the precious souls who perished, represented by the numbers above that are all too familiar to us, and the way we became a huge, instant “community” again. We don’t like to let these deep emotions come to the surface. It hurts. But we can’t honor the souls or the event without remembering. So let’s go there.
Shock … that others could succeed with such a bold invasion of the USA. We all lived as though the USA was inpenetrable. Who would dare attack America? What?! Didn’t they know we are the most powerful nation in the world? Others don’t invade America. We don’t have wars in America.
Fear … of the realization that the huge, safe bubble around us had been suddenly and cruelly burst wide open. Our one last security had been taken from us. We might have been insecure about our appearance or our job or our abilities or our business or our parenting or the facade we put on for others but, by God, we were still Americans. Americans ruled the earth. With this one cowardly act, we were suddenly aware of our nakedness.
Grief … the senselessness, the stabbing pain, the betrayal, the confusion over how others could hate America so, the powerlessness, the sadness, the deep sense of loss.
Anger … toward those who would violate us and hatefully murder innocents. Anger that this was the thanks we got for all the good America has and does around the world. Anger for the invasion into our everyday freedoms that we used to enjoy at our nation’s airports and transportation centers and access to public buildings and public figures. Anger at ourselves that we had been caught so unaware.
Resolve … to correct the apathy and blissful ignorance that had allowed such a tragedy to happen in our country. To set the world right once again. To stand together as one to show the world that they can’t mess with America.
But there was also great tenderness at Ground Zero. Impeccable respect for the souls represented by each lifeless body that was brought out. Unashamed hugs, meaningful eye contact, incredible sacrifice and selflessness. There was a renewed sense of community and patriotism all over America. Flags flying everywhere.
I was changed … we started flying a flag at our house. I now always greet, shake hands and thank soldiers in uniform when I see them. I hesitate to travel if we have to fly because of the security and the stress of wondering if we followed all the requirements. I am more aware of the importance of independence and freedoms and consciously live my life to express that. The crazies don’t seem so crazy anymore. I think more about being prepared for disasters.
How is your life different?
As our Pastor Darrel Wiseman said this morning, our hope is in Almighty God alone. Everything about this world is subject to decay and will eventually return to dust. And as the worship team sang, our God is everlasting and unchanging and He is the only One who stays. In His holy presence, we are undone.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-3
Everything we tend to put our hope in is temporary … our happiness, our family, our job, our possessions, our 401(k), our church, our government, our earth. Only God remains. He IS hope.
No matter what lies behind or ahead, our hope is in God alone. Joy springs from hope.
Guest blog post: I was so taken by my pastor’s message on the 4th of July Sunday that I asked him to share his thoughts, especially about joy, on this blog. I am honored that he said yes! I have loved having Pastor Darrel as my pastor for the last five and a half years. He is the real thing. I’m sure you’ll be as inspired by his words as I was. Here is Pastor Darrel Wiseman.
In 1776, 50 men signed a document written by Thomas Jefferson. Here is just one sentence from its text: “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” That statement is found in what is known as the Declaration of Independence signed on July 4, 1776. And freedom has been the battle cry of this country since that day.
But unfortunately today, many in our country have a much different idea than did our founding fathers as to what this freedom is. Many in our society today are clueless as to what real freedom is. Most think that freedom is license to do whatever they want – whenever they want – no matter what anybody else thinks.
Yet the founding of this nation was based on three fundamental pursuits – life, liberty and happiness. Without these three values our country becomes just like any other people bound by an oppressive government which does not take kindly to freedom of expression. Go to any of those countries and ask them what they’re willing to pay for freedom. Most will say, “Everything.” I think we can all agree that freedom is never free.
31 Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. John 8:31, 32, 36
Verse 36, “If the Son sets you free, you are truly free,” implies that there is a ‘true’ freedom that can be experienced in real or self-imposed prison cells anywhere in this world. The Bible illustrates this truth several times. Paul and Silas found freedom “IN” their prison experience. Shadrack, Meshak, and Abednigo found freedom “IN” the fire of a furnace. Daniel found freedom “IN” the lion’s den. God didn’t take them out of these physical prisons.
In that light, let’s look at TRUE life, TRUE liberty and TRUE happiness.
Jesus says in John 10:10 that “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” Most people would say that real life is found in pleasure, leisure and the niceties of wealth and riches. I see so many pursuing those things. But what do they see us Christ-followers pursuing as they look at our lives? Do our lives look different than theirs? While there is nothing wrong with pleasure, leisure, wealth or riches, our prayer should be that the underlying values they see us pursuing reflect Jesus: THE Way, THE Truth, THE Life. Others should be able to see our pursuit of Jesus being lived out in our life. That’s really how I want to live.
In the last one third of my life, I have learned that those things truly worth pursuing are less about what I want … what my plans are, what makes me the most comfortable, and more about what Jesus’ purposes and plans are for me … which people to help and encourage, how best to spend my time and money and energy.
Webster’s definition is appropriate here: “Having the freedom to choose, especially between ways of acting or living.” We all want to pursue liberty. Liberty is more than a statue that stands in the harbor welcoming those from afar with her burning torch. It is more than being able to climb up the ladder of prosperity. It is more than being able to choose your own spouse. It is more than being able to choose where you eat lunch today; Coke or Pepsi?
True liberty is the root of all hope. The possibility of liberty causes the prisoner to dream of tomorrow. Look at what Jesus says in Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for He has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free.” We are surrounded with people who are poor in Spirit and in bondage to their choice of prisons. They can’t even see it. True liberty is found in Jesus. He helps us make the right choices.
Happiness can come and go; it can be so temporary. Joy is the better pursuit. Abbot Coumba Marmion said, “Joy is the echo of God’s life in us.” Yet, as a pastor, I hear all the time, in justification of crazy choices, “I just wanted to be happy!” Most of the time, my only question to them is, “How‘s that workin’ for ya?” Choices that are less than God’s best for us are the ones that so quickly turn from ‘happiness’ to despair and loneliness. When we choose to live far away from God, or pursue happiness for happiness sake, it usually leads to disappointment. Cutting corners with our honesty and integrity seems to be a quick route to happiness – getting what we want, when we want it. But I could tell you story after story that would convince you it’s not worth it.
Jesus gives joy. This joy isn’t based on temporary circumstances but on the reality of God’s life IN us. Real joy comes from being the right person, for the right reasons, in spite of all the other choices.
Isn’t it amazing that the introductory song to Jesus’ arrival on planet Earth was “JOY TO THE WORLD, THE LORD IS COME! LET EARTH RECEIVE HER KING!” This was the song he chose to be sung to the earth at His coming! He was saying to us, “I am here! There is reason for joy!”
Only in Jesus, will we find true life, true liberty and true happiness.
You are loved!
Pastor Darrel Wiseman
Boise First Community Church
a Church of the Nazarene
** BOOK GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED – THANKS FOR STOPPING BY. IF YOU’D LIKE TO LEAVE A GENERAL COMMENT OR HAVE A QUESTION, YOU CAN DO THAT ON THE GUEST BOOK PAGE. I WOULD BE VERY HAPPY TO GET BACK IN TOUCH WITH YOU. **
I’m so excited to give you the opportunity to win a free copy of Carol Kent’s newest book, “Between a Rock and a Grace Place”! I have been inspired by Carol’s books about speaking and am excited to introduce some of you to her writing talents. You may have heard Carol being interviewed on Focus on the Family Weekend Show as well. I loved the interview and the story of how God has walked with Carol’s family on this difficult journey.
~ As you leave comments below, your name will be entered into a drawing for a FREE COPY of Carol’s book! ~
From bestselling author Carol Kent comes a riveting journey of facing the impassible obstacles of life and discovering the last thing ever expected—the sweet spot of grace.
Carol Kent and her husband, Gene, are now living what some would call a heartbreaking life—their son, Jason, a young man who initially had so much promise, is now living out a life sentence for murder in a maximum security prison. All their appeals have been exhausted at both the state and federal levels—humanly speaking, they have run out of options. But despite their hopeless situation, Carol and her husband live a life full of grace. With vulnerable openness, irrepressible hope, restored joy, and a sense of humor, Carol Kent helps readers to find God’s “grace places” in the middle of their worst moments.
Interview with Carol Kent
Tell us about the Christmas gift you received. How did it help you to find grace in the middle of a seemingly hopeless situation?
Two weeks before Christmas our doorbell rang at 9:15 p.m. It was dark outside and by the time my husband, Gene, joined me at the front door, we were surprised to find no one there. It was already dark, but my eyes fell on a large, exquisitely wrapped gift. The card on top said, “Mom.” Initially, it felt like a bad joke. Nine years earlier our son, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy had been arrested for murdering his wife’s first husband and he was in prison serving a life-without-the-possibility-of-parole sentence.
However, I am a “Mom” and the package was left on my doorstep, so I opened it. The note appeared to be in my son’s unique handwriting. The note expressed his deep love for me and his gratefulness for what I had done to help him since his arrest. He said a “friend” had helped him deliver the surprise. Opening the box, I discovered a gorgeous russet-colored silk jacket—and it fit me perfectly.
That night I discovered something new about God and something I had forgotten about myself. He loves to interject divine surprises into our lives. His timing is always perfect, but it had been a while since I had been surprised by joy, wonder, and grace in the middle of one of the tight spots of life.
What are “grace places,” and how can hurting people in need find them?
All of us experience tight spots when life turns out differently from our dream. When we face the overwhelming obstacles of life, we can experience the last thing we ever expect—the sweet spot of grace. Grace places have a variety of forms, but some include:
♥ Receiving love when we don’t deserve it
♥ Finding safety in the middle of a fearful and uncertain experience
♥ Being comforted by friends and family (people who are extensions of God’s love)
♥ Experiencing the embrace of God when we have run out of strength and courage
“Grace means the free, unmerited, unexpected love of God, and all the benefits, delights, and comforts which flow from it.” (R.P.C. Hanson)
There is a theme of surprise throughout the book. What is one of the greatest surprises you’ve had?
The powerful story of Tammy Wilson and Matthew Ben Rodriguez is in this book. Tammy contacted me after I spoke at an event she attended because my son is incarcerated in the same prison where Matt, the man who killed her mother thirteen years ago is incarcerated. She had been praying for someone to lead Matt to Christ and asked if Jason would try to meet him. It turned out that Jason and Matt were already friends and this amazing story is one of forgiveness, redemption, and restoration that can only be explained in the supernatural dimension.
Between a Rock and a Grace Place releases 10 years after your son, Jason, was sentenced to life in a maximum security prison and includes excerpts from Jason’s letters. Can you tell us how he’s doing now?
He has just taken his 8th group of men through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University Course and he will be facilitating a biblical counseling class on marriage and family this fall. He has a prayer group of twelve inmates who fast and pray for the needs of each other and their families. Prison is a depressing, dark, and sad place, but Jason is living for things that will outlast him.
What advice do you have for those who are stuck between a rock and a grace place?
In the middle of your own hurt reach out to someone else who needs help worse than you do. When you involve yourself in meeting the needs of others, you discover an unexpected freedom on the inside. Corrie ten Boom once said, “What did you do today that only a Christian would have done?”
Please go to www.speakupforhope.org for a list of practical ways individuals, churches, and organizations can help with specific projects. Our goal is to live out the truth of Prov. 31:8-9: “Speak up for the people who have no voice, for the rights of all the down-and-outers. Speak out for justice. Stand up for the poor and destitute!”
Where may we connect with you further or to purchase a copy of Between a Rock and a Grace Place?
Also join in the fun for additional opportunities for FREE books in the random book giveaways conducted on the Virtual Book Tour page on Facebook!
A complimentary copy of this book was provided to me as a blog tour host by Zondervan in exchange for posting this interview on my blog. Please visit Christian Speaker Services at www.ChristianSpeakerServices.com for more information about blog tour management services.
♥♥♥ ♥♥♥ ♥♥♥ ♥♥♥ ♥♥♥
I love these opportunities to share inspiring stories that encourage our faith. God is always at work … always. My prayer is to be in step with the Holy Spirit to build the Kingdom of God. Stories like these help move me along the journey.
Candy blogs: I am so honored today to be a host for a blog tour for Thelma Wells’ new book, “Ready to Win Over Depression“! I first heard “Mama T” many years ago at a Women of Faith Conference. She has been a blessing ever since. Her “BEE your best” motto has haunted me for years. I’m just now learning to believe it.
THELMA: Before I begin, let me first say, if you and/or a loved one are in a crisis situation and you need immediate assistance, please call your local emergency number or the mental health crisis hotline listed in your local phone book.
In your introduction, you state that you’ve been there – you’ve been depressed. Tell us about that.
Yes, I have. This story is told in detail in the book; however, I had surgery several years ago and within a few days the incision split open and my intestines were exposed. This was probably by far the worst pain I’ve ever experienced. After a quick trip back to the hospital to repair the damage, I spent over a year bed-ridden, disabled, and recovering. I’m not the kind of person to lie down and take things slow, especially when it’s forced on me. Yet, in this situation I had no choice but to stop and heal. It wasn’t easy and I faced a lot of fears and I experienced situational depression during this time.
How do you define depression?
Some of us are more prone to depression than others. The influences that bring us down in our spirits can come from many sources and directions. Depression can be a complex picture. But let’s face it. The main reason we get despondent is simply because life happens. And nobody’s life is a constant procession of uplifting, rejuvenating, invigorating experiences. Everybody’s life has downers. We easily get off-balance in so many ways, and this hurts. The TV commercial that says, “Depression hurts” is true.
Does your book focus on one type of depression?
For most of us, the depression we typically encounter isn’t the severe or clinical category, medically speaking. The typical depression is situational. This doesn’t mean they’re painless or less important or harmless. Dr. Archibald D. Hart, a leading Christian psychologist and dean emeritus of the School of Psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary writes, “While these depressions are not usually as serious as the biological ones, they can be much more difficult to cope with.”
In your first chapter, you talk about “Who gets depressed?” Does depression affect certain groups of people more than others?
Every year depression strikes more than 35 million in the United States alone. We’re seeing depression with frightening regularity in ourselves, our relatives, and our friends. Dr. Harts states, “There is hardly a family today that is not touched by depression’s tentacles.” Depression affects people of all social classes, all races, and all cultures, but there’s one group that’s especially hard hit…women. Also, there is an alarming increase in children and the elderly.
What are the triggers and causes of depression?
Psychology Information Online, which includes content provided by the National Institute on Mental Health, notes that “a depressive episode” can be triggered by “a serious loss, chronic illness, relationship problems, work stress, family crisis, financial setback, or any unwelcome life change.” Sometimes depression is brought on by an underlying disease or biochemical disorder. Whatever the cause of our depression, it needs to be faced and understood realistically—and then accepted for what it truly is.
Does the Bible speak about depression?
It does in several places and we see it in the lives of David, Jeremiah, and Paul. Psalms 42 and 43 together represent the cry of a downcast soul—someone who is hurting and thirsting for God. Paul describes our loving Father as “God, who comforts the downcast” (2 Corinthians 7:6).
Christians do get depressed, but it’s a temporary state. God allows us to experience it as a means to attaining something better. Our hope and contentment are based on seeing our past and present difficulties as gifts from God to prepare us and enable us to do more for Him by sharing Christ, finding delight in God and in what He ordains.
What are the steps you outline for “doing something about it.” And why are these important?
• Get It All Out – talk to somebody about how you’re feeling. Emotionally and mentally, talking about your feelings is a healthy thing to do. Everybody needs somebody to confide in. That’s right. Everybody.
• Take Care of Yourself Physically – How healthy we are physically always impacts our mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
• Don’t be Deceived – Your emotions can fool you into questioning or not knowing what’s real or not real. Depression can cause some strange symptoms.
• You Are Your Own Captive Audience – People talk to themselves. We all do it. When we talk to ourselves, we need to watch what we’re saying. You see, when we talk to ourselves, we invoke our consciousness. And in our conscious awareness, we truly hear what we say. Our subconscious hearts it—and believes it! Then our creative self-conscious gets busy working it out…whether or not it’s true, real, positive, negative, or healthy.
Hope is a key word used throughout the book, but especially in the last chapter. What does the mystery of hope mean?
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick…” (Proverbs 13:12). Hope and prayer always go together. In fact, prayer is the voice of hope. When there’s hopelessness, prayer dries up and blows ways. Real hope is huge! To have a biblical hope found in Ephesians 4:1-16 is to possess “living hope.”
From page 99 to page 109, I discuss the facets of hope that we can attain when we refocus our attention from us to God. Our living hope is not in things, peoples’ opinions, positions, status, or any tangible findings of life. No, it rests upon the spiritual and emotional stability of our minds on the only wise God, our Father, who can help us in our depressed states every day. This living hope is in Jesus, the Anointed One, whose job it is to redeem us for all things that oppress us. The only hope for the world is Jesus. The only help for the world is a touch from God.
You spend a whole chapter on “Looking Outward.” Why is this important?
At the risk of bursting someone’s bubble…the world doesn’t revolve around you. I know you might have thought it did. I used to think the same thing about me. One of the best ways to deal with depression is to do something for somebody without expecting anything in return. Search for a volunteer organization, mentor a child or young person, or find someone who needs help with something and help them. Do something. That’s the key.
I have several activities available via my ministry that offer opportunities for people to connect with others. Join me on excursions across the country and to Israel studying the Word, relaxing, rejuvenating and enjoying the life God has given us. We are also launching the Ready to Win Web Cast University with a variety of experts to offer you the best in Christian instruction, study, and education. I have hand-selected several outstanding speakers that will enable you to be READY TO WIN in every situation. Both of these and more are available on my web site at http://www.ThelmaWells.com.
How is the book different from others?
This book is different from others because it gives the reader a non-threatening opportunity to ask themselves questions and answer those questions in the book as they are reading it. It is not a course of study; it is a means of helping them “get it out.” It allows them to analyze their state of being and work through it alone so that it is there personal and confidential analysis and directives for healing.
What results do you see that can come from reading this book?
The results I see from reading this book are:
• People have a handy reference at their fingertips for calling their attention to what they are facing in terms of situational depression.
• People have at their fingertips information that they can share with others who may be experiencing the same kind of depression.
• There are reminders in the book that are encouraging and inspiring that can be used as a devotional.
• There are stories that people can relate to and realize that they are not alone and there is always help.
Where can we connect with you further on this topic, or purchase a copy of this book?
I would love for them to visit my web site at www.ThelmaWells.com, browse through the various events and other resources available, as well as sign up for my mailing list.
READY TO WIN OVER DEPRESSION is also available online and at local bookstores such as, Family Christian Stores, Lifeway Christian Stores, Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble Book Stores, Mardel’s, Anchor Distributors, Christianbook.com, and many other stores and vendors throughout American and the United Kingdom.
I would also like to connect with people on the new Facebook page we set up specifically for this topic at www.facebook.com/readytowinoverdepression. Or they can find me on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/Thelmaw.
Again, let me say…if you or someone you know is dealing with depression, you are not crazy. God knows you’re not crazy. And He also has a perfect antidote for your depression. Nothing escapes Him, and he knows you far better than you know yourself. Isn’t that a relief and comfort?
(A complimentary copy of this book was provided to me as a blog tour host by the author in exchange for posting this interview on my blog. Please visit Christian Speaker Services at www.ChristianSpeakerServices.com for more information about blog tour management services.)
As comments are entered on this post, your name will be entered into a drawing to win a copy of Thelma’s book, “Ready to Win Over Depression.” I’m very excited to be able to offer this opportunity! Thelma is a well loved and respected woman of God; she has much to say to us.
Depression can rob us of the JOY Jesus offers … J esus O ffers Y ou … J.O.Y.!
Thanks for stopping by today. I would be pleased to see you here often.
A psalm of David.
1 O LORD, hear my prayer,
listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness
come to my relief.
2 Do not bring your servant into judgment,
for no one living is righteous before you.
3 The enemy pursues me,
he crushes me to the ground;
he makes me dwell in darkness
like those long dead.
4 So my spirit grows faint within me;
my heart within me is dismayed.
5 I remember the days of long ago;
I meditate on all your works
and consider what your hands have done.
6 I spread out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.
7 Answer me quickly, O LORD;
my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me
or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.
9 Rescue me from my enemies, O LORD,
for I hide myself in you.
10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
lead me on level ground.
11 For your name’s sake, O LORD, preserve my life;
in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.
12 In your unfailing love, silence my enemies;
destroy all my foes,
for I am your servant.
A few things I’ve learned from being in pain:
~ isolation keeps us in our pain and from moving forward
When I avoided contact with others, I was the loser. I was keeping myself from moving past the pain. Yes, there is risk in revealing shame and imperfection. But we rarely experience growth outside of “community.”
~ accountability (liable to being called to account; answerable)
Accountability is key to growth. Having trusted, wise people in our lives to help us stay on the path leads to health. We must be willing to be open and honest with at least one other person, and be willing to hear the truth about ourselves. We can’t see ourselves as others see us; we have blind spots. We have to get outside our own thoughts and opinions and pain.
~ woman in the mirror
We have to be willing to take an honest look at ourselves, ugliness and all. We can’t change anyone else, but we can allow God to change us. Most of the time it’s a painful process. When we finally get down to the underlying issues of our pain, we then have to begin the process of change.
God is more concerned with our character than our comfort. We spend too much energy on making sure we are always comfortable; we think there is something wrong if we experience discomfort. God’s purpose for our lives isn’t that we’re happy, but that we are godly. Happiness is solely dependent on ever-changing outside circumstances. Our godliness comes from God … from the inside. How does a godly woman think and behave? Tantrums? Blame? Manipulation? Unreasonable expectations? Retaliation? Denial? Co-dependency? Silence? Taking and not giving?
~ freedom is on the other side of the door
The most important thing I learned through pain is that freedom is just on the other side of the door. But I have to be willing to walk through the door to get to it. As long as I continue to fight God’s best for me instead of yield to it, I will remain on the wrong side of the door. The pain will continue to intensify and it will become “familiar.” And it’s easier to stay in the familiar mode than do the hard work to move past it. I often say “change will only happen when the pain gets greater than the fear.”
9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:9-11
Jesus loves us. He came into time and space as a baby to intersect with our lives. His love transcends any circumstance, any condition, any economy, any broken relationship. He came to give life, light and hope. Take hold of it.