Iron Sharpens Iron at the Family Table

Coming back following holidays left my mind tired yet full. This thought rose above others tonight…

Sometimes, it’s difficult to be with family after a long absence.

Well, duh, Captain Obvious. 🙄

It’s also difficult to leave them when time draws nigh.

Also pretty much a well duh statement. 😏

There are the numerous delights and countless challenges alike to our spirits in coming together after extended months apart.

You’re no longer a child and your tendency is to attempt earnestly to prove it, all to varying degrees of success.

For, there is also the something of being in their midst that pulls you back to that place of littleness compared to the elders in your life.

In my particular case, there’s a lot of shadows to that former existence, some areas stepped into tentatively, others not at all.

Apprehension can seize my soul if I don’t take care to surrender it to His hand.

Now, forgiveness has been flowing in abundance among us for decades now, and, yet, must still rise up to be met again in entering into one another’s presence.

Past is not swept under any rugs, by any means, but, in looking back, love softens the edges of the pain.

Hearts don’t necessarily forget all the twinges, but they do connect afresh through the knowledge Christ makes all things new.

Including each other.

And, then, we get to share that newness of being. What a wonder that is!

Thoughts fly back and forth across the table. Struggles are examined in a different light, growth is noted, wisdom imparted.

Each moment, both the tender and the hard, threads itself to the ever-changing tapestry of our existence, tethering us tighter together.

Iron sharpening iron sounds sort of scary at first glance, but, how it shows itself in our lives can be incredible.

Home can be a great place to see this at work, for you get to surprise each other with what God’s given us to bring to the table.

You get to witness the learning you each have done and become that safe place to reach across said table with it.

It may not exactly feel like light family fun at times, yet these times the Lord affords us to deepen our walks, both with Him and with one another, are vital.

Hence, the observation at the beginning.

Difficult to be there, difficult to leave…

But, this truth I hold fast to to keep me going:

God grants us fond memories to soothe the bittersweet and carry us through to the next day we meet.

In Him, we are never truly apart.

I hope your Thanksgiving was a blessed one, dear friends. May we ever seek those iron sharpening situations, whether by family, by friends, or both.

Self-Help Never Helped Anyone

There aren’t too many brick-and-mortar bookstores left these days. (Makes an old-fashioned, flip-through-the-pages girl like me rather sad. 🙁)

But, on those occasions I happen upon one still, what is one of the biggest sections I find?

Self-help.

Usually right next to the Christian section, no less-when they’ve got one.

Kind of speaks to society in general:

Don’t like the idea of God’s help? Well, then, here you go, help yourself!

And there’s a veritable sea of publications with slick covers, beckoning to the struggling with empty promises for a new life by Friday.

Self-improvement. Self-reliance. Self-empowerment.

Pick one up and a few may even allude to some sort of faith at times, though it seems more of a cursory nod than the foundation of their philosophy.

So many authors, so many books, so many ways…

So much foolishness!

For, every one of those books lay claim to the secrets of “successful living”.

And so few ever acknowledge the God who holds the real secret!

For successful living has not an iota to do with what house you live in, what’s in your wallet, or your driveway.

Nor with the length or contents of your resume, your online followers, or cookie-cutter, Instagram-ready family.

For all those things are just that.

Things.

Some of them quite nice.

Family, obviously, is extremely important and not just a thing! As a wife and mom of four, I can definitely attest to that!

But, the idol of the “perfect” life with them or in general?

Well, that is just that-an idol.

And idols are dangerous, false gods in the way of our loyalty to the One True God.

As is trying to self-help ourselves.

For there is no helping ourselves…

By ourselves.

I know. I have tried so many times-and have the trail of failed attempts behind me to prove it! 😉

Having been through a few rough patches in life often leads to grasping at band-aids of all sorts.

But, nothing ever stuck till I recognized that the only real help comes when we bow every bit of our self-serving ways to our desperate need for a Savior.

It’s not that all advice out there is bad.

Scripture, naturally, is full of wisdom for the ages. When I need help, I prayerfully reach for the Bible and find God answers quite well!

It’s a matter of being open to listen, of course. 🙂

There are also many wonderful writers and teachers versed in the Word and a lifetime of walking with the Lord who have a lot of insights to share.

I am just especially cautious with whose work I read and listen to these days.

Anything that does not place God and His Word first, last, and in between is not something I linger on anymore.

It isn’t worth it.

So… suffice to say, where in those few bookstores left (or that huge online landscape of offerings), the self-help section is wide, would that we choose the narrow aisle of biblical truth:

Self-help never helped anyone.

We need His help for now and all time to see any real change.

Blessings and prayers, friends. May we ever be in pursuit of the help only the Lord can provide.

Did I Misstep?

A short follow-up to what I fear was a long ramble of a testimony a couple of days ago.

If you don’t have time to go there now, I can understand. It’s a lot to process and it wasn’t even half of the tale!

Essentially, it is a piece of my life from abusive beginnings to redemption in Christ, with many stops in between, including a suicide attempt.

That last is the stop I am concerned I did not address enough.

It could just be my worrier inside, as she likes to work overtime, picking at threads until whole sections of fabric unravel. 🙄

Still, I’d like to go a bit further in the vein today, to ensure any who struggle with this indescribable pain will know someone out there gets it.

When I alluded to the idea the dark spector of suicide did not visit me for long, I didn’t intend to minimize the experience or pretend it was “sprinkle a bit of prayer” and it was just over and done, like that.

Oh, no. Not at all!

It’s not like I’ve gotten lots of emails and comments making that particular accusation. This is still a very quiet piece of the Internet here, after all. 😉

Rather, as said, I have quite an active worrier inside and she’s feeling somewhat sensitive to the possibility not enough was emphasised the other day.

So…yes, whereas I can say God drew me out of the intensest piece of the desire to end my life fairly quickly after my attempt, I will never pretend it was easy.

Far from it.

It has been perhaps one the fiercest, thickest battles of my life.

More than once, the whispers have swirled around me that perhaps things would’ve been easier for those around me had I been successful in my attempt.

Hard stuff to own up to as a believer, but true.

I cannot pretend depression has not been a constant thorn in my side before or since.

It’s honestly a daily faith walk.

But, the difference is, I have Jesus to help me take that next step.

To dissipate the clouds of taunting words around me.

And He does, every time, no matter how many times I have to ask.

The key is simple really, but it is a key to be turned and turned.

And turned again:

I don’t have to fight this alone.

Or even pretend there aren’t times I feel alone despite knowing that fact.

Because, there are going to be days it’s honestly hard to hear His voice.

Not because He’s not there or not listening or I didn’t do enough or say all the right things.

No…

Rather, it is because life is just a gritty thing to sift through.

Suicide is a very thorny thing to survive.

There is much to contend with.

But, we just have to keep bringing it all to Him.

Everyday. Every hour. Every moment.

For as many moments as He grants us.

The bravery in survival isn’t that we somehow survived.

Rather, it is in surrendering to Him every second of that survival.

Even if we fear a misstep, He is there to guide our course.

I hope this better addressed and expanded on the issue of suicide in my life and perhaps resonated with someone who may need to know there is hope in the person of Jesus and in those who are here and ready to pray with you. Please feel free to reach out, even if it’s just a step. I don’t have all the answers, but I know One who does. Blessings to you!