Christine Duncan

Love, Laughter, Life Preservers

Tag: believing (page 1 of 2)

The Weak Seasons

We all face weak seasons... but it's out opportunity to let God reveal Himself fully while we rest.

The autumn season here in Ontario, Canada, has been a great contrast to our summer so far.

Maybe it’s the Scottish blood in me but the cool, wet summer and now the warm, dry fall is perfection for me, and I will gladly let the trend continue.

As far as weather goes, with our almost non-existent winter last year, this has been a banner year for someone like me.

But if I look at it closely through eyes searching for more?

It’s been a rough and extended season of wondering what could possibly go wrong next. A season of worry. A season of weakness.

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Heart Squalls and Snow Storms

It’s the middle of the day and when I look to my left out the window I can see the snow, at first fat, lazy and soft, drifting down the street.

But as is so often the case, you wait five minutes more and glance out the window and now it’s a torrent squall of sideways snow, much harder, meaning business.

I have writing to do today, I need to focus, but snow storms make me want to pull out recipes, bake goodies, light candles and hunker down with piles of books.

I look out the window again, and now there is already the disappearance of lawns, I can’t see the park beyond the houses, and there are odd swirling drifts darting along the white roads.

I start to think about life. How some days everything is clear, manageable, sure. But every now and then the soul encounters winter. Things sweep in, our visibility is affected, the path we were taking disguised under layers of dense, thick, cold, stuff. Hard things blanketing the easy, it blows in sideways, finding ways to fill and erase every crevice and direction for potential good.

How easily we panic, living in the blinding snow. How easily we lose our way, or must plow through, determination waning in time with our strength, the winter stuff is so heavy at times.

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Sending Up A Prayer

Sometimes a blog post spills onto the keyboard in this easy loose way and almost writes itself.

I cannot tell a lie. I love those days.

You should see my little jig.

But usually it takes some time to make sure my thoughts and ramblings make a cohesive attempt at making sense and saying exactly what my heart wants to. And I edit, and rearrange, and delete, and polish.

I cannot tell a lie. That’s today.

That’s most days for all writers.

But this is something slightly more.

I have other items floating around in my brain, tasks needing attention crowding my thoughts, and my brain feels slightly more unfocused today than usual, and I wonder if I have anything getting ready to trigger a bout of the ol’ chronic D, and my writing seems disjointed, and I feel disjointed, and so I stop.

Chronic/low-grade depression really can be inconvenient at its best. Totally debilitating at it’s worst. And I can handle the low moods, I can maneuver the physical symptoms, but it’s the foggy, unfocused, scattered symptoms of the brain freeze that can be typical of living with this disorder that always frustrates me more than anything.

And so instead of forcing myself to be profound and scholarly (those who know me stop laughing) I stop for a moment.

I take a deep breath, and I send up a prayer. Lord, I want focus. Lord remind me of Your purpose for today. Speak to me not just through the fog, but clear the fog in this ol’ head period.

Eyes on the One who never deals in confusion and disorder. I clutch my study Bible in my lap, I fix my heart on all the good, on all the blessing, on all the loveliness of a Great God who has never forgotten me in my dysthymic needs, and I breathe a little easier.

Instantly Philippians 4:8 comes back to me from the teen girls study group I helped lead last night… and so I gather my scattered thought patterns and remain within all the things He tells us to “think on” for as long as it takes to feel like He’s moved in to my whitespace, and the chronic D patterns have moved out.

And to my everlasting relief, He does with that list, what my brain couldn’t accomplish on its own. And it’s profound and wonderful but it’s so simple and for a minute I wonder why we have to over-complicate His Word so much.

Your brain need the same thing today?

Here it is, pure and simple:

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

Lord, I’m counting the right things, the pure things from my day, from your Word. I’m zeroing in on the excellent thoughts. I’m recognizing all the things You bring that are just so worthy of praise.

Everything else can mentally fall away. 

And we’re left with thoughts ready like new soil. Ready to be planted with purpose and clarity and larger functioning. Ready to impact our tiny corner of the planet. Filled up with good things from a good God.

I do this, till the fog lifts and disappears and retreats.

Can I be honest, sometimes this process is not easy for me. Sometimes the chronic D doesn’t even let me get this far.

But the Life Preserver?

He’s bigger than any disorder.

Today I can recognize that. Today I can go back to the writing, feeling revamped.

He’s always enough.

Wait… that’s another Philippians 4:8 item right there!

Lord, may you always be bigger than the biggest symptom of any illness, situation, and circumstance! You’re so faithful!

That’s the prayer.

The prayer we’re sending up today… and always.

Yes. Giving.

Sometimes we have to abruptly shift our focus.

Chronic depression can be my focus for longer than necessary. After all, some days it feels like my shadow. What’s been your shadow?

Whatever it is, sometimes without realising it, I’ve found myself suddenly devoting myself to it. Giving things to it. Giving INTO it.

Awareness is one thing. Pouring every ounce of your focus into it is another. And can lead to more depression. The same can be said for whatever it is YOU carry with you. Illness, disability, grief, anxiety, low self-esteem, you name it.

If that’s the case, some giving needs to happen.

Yes. Giving.

And, I’d argue, giving of two different varieties.

Ever been going through your day, feeling like nothing is right, and suddenly a situation arises that affects someone close to you? And suddenly you forget your own issues for a while because you immediately heard their call for help and jumped into the fray without a second thought… and your moods and your worries disappeared in the wake of placing your focus wholly on helping that person overcome their own obstacles?

You pushed your own needs away, took your sight off them for a moment, and gave of yourself. And when you’re done? Look around. Where did those same needs and worries go?

Find a way to do this regularly. Find a way to give of yourself. Putting someone’s needs ahead of your own means there’s less room for the lowness to find room to gain a foothold in your life. Not to mention, you change someone’s life for the better, someone receives a helping hand, someone’s day is changed. It’s time we start looking after each other.

Yes. Giving.

Work a soup kitchen, mentor teens, help a community garden, volunteer at a shelter. You’ll never regret it. Find someone who needs a friend, needs encouraging.

Your focus shifts when giving takes place. It can’t be helped. And you might start out doing it for yourself, but that shifts too over time. And like breathing, you just keep giving.

That second kind of giving. It might be harder to do than the first. It not only requires us to take our eyes off ourselves, but it requires us to relinquish all control, to surrender those difficult things, like so much heavy luggage we drag along with us through the day, keeping us burdened and exhausted.

You need to give it over to Someone better equipped to carry it for you. And that’s harder to do. We’ve dedicated parts of ourselves to it, haven’t we? We’ve made it our companion, it travels with us, it rests on us, we show it off, we are the expert on it.

And now we’re being told to just give it away?

Do we realise we could give it to Someone who would handle it for us, gently and graciously and miraculously? That He might be waiting for you to give it up in trust that He has something better, a complete repair for you, new situations that will change you inside and out. We give the heavy load, that luggage, over to Him and feel a lift. The weight rolls off. You breath better.

You give your focus to the One who gives you breath. You turn your eyes to the One who saves, who redeems our days, who gives back.

Yes. Gives.

Gives new life. New breath. New strength. New peace. New direction. New refreshing.

And those things that threaten to bring us down? We give them to Him and can immediately declare:

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Take the weight of what rests on you, and trade it for the power of the One who knew a weight only He could carry… into a tomb and back out again, with the weight of eternity shifted completely in our favor, waiting for surrender, and taking into the heart the Son who makes all things new within.

That tree on a hill? His pain on that tree? The prize set before Him?

Oh yes. He GAVE.

And now so can you. Yes. Give!

Watch as your focus shifts. You’ll never regret it.

image by c.duncan

 

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