Family Prayer Board

Sometimes I think Pinterest has actually stolen any creativity I have left.  I see all these incredible ideas beautifully executed and I feel like my measure-once-cut-twice mentality doesn’t inspire anyone, including myself.

However, I wanted to make a family prayer board.  I had seen something on which prayer requests, written on sticky notes, could be displayed to remind us of our friends’ and family’s needs.  Today, I bought an 11″ by 14″ frame at the Dollar Store.

I brought it home and tried to find the pin among the 6000 plus pins on hundreds of boards.  Guess what?  I couldn’t find it.  I didn’t even know how to search for it.  I thought, “Hey, I was creative before Pinterest.  I was creative before the Internet.”  So, using the Internet (ha!) I found a wonderful photograph , which I printed.  The picture frame’s back was black, so I flipped it over, affixed the printout, and framed it.  Voila!  It is now ready to be prominently placed in our family room and our prayer requests and scriptures added.  Too bad I don’t have a decent photo of it to share.  I may use my fancy handwriting to add James 5:16 as a border, but for now I really love the clean lines.

Oddly Yours,

Jennifer

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A Powerful Prayer

The following has been circulating for years via email and now Facebook.  I felt it was a perfect post for today.  

Heavenly Father,

Help us remember that the jerk who cut us off in traffic last night is a single mother who worked nine hours that day and is rushing home to cook dinner, help with homework, do the laundry, and spend a few precious moments with her children.

Help us to remember that the pierced, tattooed, disinterested young man who can’t make change correctly is a worried 19-year-old college student, balancing his apprehension over final exams with his fear of not getting his student loans for next semester.

Remind us, Lord, that the scary looking bum, begging for money in the same spot every day (“who really ought to get a job”) is a slave to addictions that we can only imagine in our worst nightmares.

Help us to remember that the old couple walking annoyingly slow through the store aisles and blocking our shopping progress are savoring this moment, knowing that based on the biopsy report she got back last week, this will be the last year that they go shopping together.
Heavenly Father, remind us each day that of all the gifts you give us Lord, the greatest gift is love. It is not enough to share that love with those we hold dear. Open our hearts not to just those who are close to us, but to all humanity.

Let us be slow to judge and quick to forgive, show patience, empathy and love.

Jennifer

Where I’ve Been . . . Where I’m Headed

As many of you know, I took an “hiatus” from blogging.  I felt compelled to share what I’ve been through.  Several months ago, things started to pile on me higher and higher. Instead of clinging to God and asking for His help, I let it all get to me: issues from my past that I’d never dealt with, financial and health concerns, and trying to navigate the school system to figure out why my son wasn’t learning, etc. I did what I’ve done so many times before. I began to withdraw. A couple months later, after Christmas, I had stopped praying altogether. I felt I was nothing.

My behavior became erratic and obsessive. Many people were affected. I would be depressed for several days and then have a few amazing days in which I was positive and productive and anything was possible. Then the depressive crash would come. During that time I attempted to self medicate. Vicodin and alcohol were my new best friends. You can imagine how much worse my behavior became.

At the end of March, I had slipped so far into a depressive state my husband took me to the emergency room. I was scared. I was afraid I would try to hurt myself.

It didn’t matter what good things people shared or what amazing blessings I had, I bought what Satan was selling. Suicidal thoughts had been part of me since I was a child. I cannot begin to explain the dark places these thoughts take you. When suicidal, for me anyway, it’s never about a person or a situation and his/its role in the depression. Things that happen, words people say are gathered together as further proof that you are worthless. It’s taking all the weight of all of your own actions and those of others and placing every bit of blame upon yourself. Your thinking is so skewed, but it makes perfect sense at the time.

Back at the ER. Because I pinky promised to not drink or use, they sent me home. My husband was instructed to hide my stuff and I contemplated helping myself to the drugs I’d hidden in my bedroom.

My dear friend came over the next morning. An RN with experience with mental illness, she knew my history. She put me in her car and held me as she prayed. I agreed to be taken to the behavioral center to see if I could get myself placed on a 72-hour hold. I would later laugh at the fact I was taken to the looney bin on April Fools Day.

It was the best thing that could have been done for me. Inside I was diagnosed with Bipolar II and started on the correct medication. The various depression meds I took for 20 years would always stop working because we were treating the wrong illness. While inside I had time to deal with the issues of my past. They were long overdue. I would try to pray. I read scripture shared with me by a fellow patient. Something was holding me back from surrendering all.

I realized shortly after my release that I was angry. Angry at God, at my insanity, but mostly at myself for my behavior. I wanted people to understand I knew my choices were mine alone. I always owned my decisions. The majority of those affected have accepted my apologies because they understand the nature of the illness. Some have not.

A friend was sharing her testimony at a women’s meeting about a week later. She was having a hard time because she was so emotional. I stretched out my hand toward her and I prayed. It was amazing. Afterward she and another friend prayed for me. “This is not a punishment,” one said. “He knows all of it and has promised beauty for ashes.”

I had found a church on the internet. I knew I was being led there, but didn’t really know why. I wasn’t unhappy where Iwas, necessarily. I figured God was putting me there for a purpose. So, after attending a few midweek services, I went to a morning prayer meeting. Praise music played while we each quietly prayed. At the end, one lady asked how I was. It all came tumbling out. My diagnosis. The looney bin. Yada, yada. She looked at me and said, “You are not alone.” Thinking she was being nice and trying to make me feel comfortable, I nodded.  She went on to tell me she had been delivered after several years of mental illness. Her testimony, love, and absolute faith that I, too, could be healed was definite confirmation that I was right where He wanted me.

It never even occurred to me to ask for healing for Bipolar. I would be quick to ask for healing for cancer or parkinson’s. I had bought another lie. The Bipolar is true, my being so quick to accept it as my ultimate fate would only keep me from praying for complete healing.

I felt God’s love for me so strongly that morning. I had gone from not praying to finding new hope at a prayer meeting. How could I not see His hand in this?

Through this illness, I have seen people reach out and people pull away. I have seen the reality of the seriousness and scariness of the ill, the ugliness that comes with stigma, and the mercy of those who have offered kind words and unconditional support. Most of all I’ve seen the love of my Father who has promised me to be with me always, and will make something beautiful for this pain. Each day I seek Him I am rebuilding our relationship and learning who I am in Him.

Next week:

From whom are you gathering evidence?

Jennifer