Healing Part 4: Walking in Unforgiveness


IMG_1171The last few blogs have been discussing forgiveness. We started this series to tap into how to be healed, mainly physical; however upon research and studying the Word of God, there are hindrances to receiving our healing and most of it deals with issues of the heart – unforgiveness, bitterness, fear…the list goes on. We discussed what unforgiveness and bitterness does to our soul in the last few blogs, and even went into the bondages of not forgiving yourself. Today, we are sharing what the Word says about forgiving ourselves and ultimately walking in freedom spiritually and physically!

In Psalms 32, King David is expressing his joy from being released from his great suffering. It’s actually divided up into 2 parts – verses 1-5 King David proclaims the joy of seeing his fault remitted by God and in verses 6 – 11, he shows his confidence in the fact that God is the guide on the right path. Let’s take a look:

***Read Psalms 32:1-11***

From the Psalms during the time of King David, believers were increasingly becoming aware of their own sins and found confession as a ray of hope. There was a particular pattern you can follow :

  1. The recognized their sins
  2. They realized their sin was rebellion against God
  3. They admitted their sins to God
  4. They trusted God’s willingness to forgive
  5. They accepted His forgiveness

Psalm 32 alone could be a whole new blog. Reading just verses 5-7 illustrate God’s willingness and grace to protect you from life’s storms when you confess to Him. Instead of hiding our sins from Him, when we confess, the opposite happens – HE becomes our hiding place!!! He can’t protect us if we are running from Him!

As Adam and Eve hid themselves when they realized they had sinned, we too hide in shame from ours,  BUT when we run TO Him, no matter the depth we have found ourselves in, HE promises to forgive and shelter us! God doesn’t hold us in condemnation, WE DO!

And if we can’t forgive others or ourselves, how can we even accept the forgiveness of God?

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***Read Matthew 18:21-25 in the Passion Translation***

Here are a few scriptures that guide us along the path of how to walk in forgiveness. Once you make that choice to forgive, you don’t just feel great and everything’s peachy! You most times will still FEEL the same!! You have to replace those negative and unhealthy thoughts with thoughts that are pure, holy, empowering… Meditate on scripture day and night, Joshua 1:8 tells us… You’re going to have to fill your mind and thoughts with the Word of God to dissipate all the negative thoughts, bitterness, anger and fear you have allowed in.

Philippians 4:8 – “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”

God is a Father. He wants His children walking around in harmony, not division. When we don’t forgive ourselves, there is still a poison in us and it won’t take long for us to infect those around us, too.

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Some principles to help you on the path to forgiving yourself…

As you meditate on the Word, study scriptures that help you focus on praise and worship, accept and declare that you are a new creation in Christ – old things have passed away and all things are made new! That’s truth, not a feeling!

Hebrews 8:12– “For I will demonstrate my mercy to them and will forgive their evil deeds, and never remember again their sins.”

2 Corinthians 5:17 –18– “Now, if anyone is enfolded into Christ, he has become an entirely new creation. All that is related to the old order has vanished. Behold, everything is fresh and new. And God has made all things new and reconciled us to himself, and given us the ministry of reconciling others to God.”

Pray without ceasing and don’t depend on your own strength to forgive or walk this journey – you won’t be able to do it without God. We are fickle, wishy-washy human beings in our own strength BUT with the power of God infused through us, there’s nothing we can’t do! 2 Corinthians 12:9states that His strength is made PERFECT in our weakness!!!

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Philippians 3:13– “I don’t depend on my own strength to accomplish this, however I do have one compelling focus: I forget all of the past as I fasten my heart to the future instead.”

Another way to help in forgiveness and dealing with our own pain is to take the focus off of ourselves and begin to help others. On our journey to healing, we are so focused on ourselves and so close to our situation that we need to step away and put our focus on helping others in their journey. Often times seeing the struggles of someone else and walking them through theirs ushers in our own healing too!

Scientific studies have actually proven that helping others while we ourselves are in pain help boost, motivate and encourage us! A recent study done in 2018 suggests one way our well-being can benefit from practicing pro-social behavior is: helping others regulate their emotions helps us regulate our own emotions, decreases symptoms of depression and ultimately, improves our emotional well-being.

Another recent study from Columbia University has revealed that when helping others navigate their stressful situations, we are enhancing our own emotion regulation skills, and thus, benefiting our own emotional well-being.

We all need one another. We are called to walk in unity, harmony and edify and uplift each other…not just when we are good, but mostly when things are tough! We need that encouragement and it unifies and uplifts our confidence and spirit man!

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A few scriptures to help along with that:

1 Thessalonians 5:14– “We appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, to instruct those who are not in their place of battle. Be skilled at gently encouraging those who feel themselves inadequate.  Be faithful to stand your ground. Help the weak to stand again. Be quick to demonstrate patience with everyone.”

Galatians 6:2-3– “Love empowers us to fulfill the law of the Anointed One as we carry each other’s troubles. If you think you are too important to stoop down to help another, you are living in deception.”

James 5:16– “Confess and acknowledge how you have offended one anotherand then pray for one another to be instantly healed, for tremendous power is released through the passionate, heartfelt prayer of a godly believer!”

Proverbs 27:17– “It takes a grinding wheel to sharpen a blade, and so one person sharpens the character of another.”

Romans 12:16– “Live happily together in a spirit of harmony, and be as mindful of another’s worth as you are your own. Don’t live with a lofty mind-set, thinking you are too important to serve others, but be willing to do menial tasks and identify with those who are humble minded. Don’t be smug or even think for a moment that you know it all.”There are tons more, but hopefully that gave you a good start! Next blog, we will be delving into faith and how faith is needed to activate the healing power of God in your life and body!

Stay tuned as we discuss the power of faith with regard to healing next week and how activating your faith can usher in your healing!

 

Healing, Part 3: Learning to Forgive Yourself

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In our last two blogs, we discussed the topic of healing with regard to forgiveness. We started this series wanting to discuss how to believe God for physical healing and what the Bible says about healing. After studying and researching on the topic, we realized there was so much more to it and it began with our heart and unforgiveness; how holding onto unforgiveness affects our emotions, thoughts, and even our physical bodies. When unforgiveness is left untouched, it grows and becomes a root of bitterness. The Word tells us that bitterness causes trouble and poisons the hearts of many.

So, last week we wrote about holding unforgiveness with others and now, we want to take it a step further and address unforgiveness with ourselves. It seems there is a tendency in most of us to hold ourselves more accountable than others, therefore making it a lot more difficult to forgive ourselves for things we have done or feelings we have harbored, than it is to forgive someone else. We often think that if we let ourselves off the hook, we are dismissing our behavior and may not deserve forgiveness. This kind of thinking only digs ourselves deeper in despair and the further in we go, we take the risk of hurting others again.

The Bible doesn’t specify scriptures that pertain to forgiving ourselves, yet if we hold the truths of the Word of God for ourselves as we do others, then we see that those same principles that apply to forgiving others, apply to us, as well…

We can be so hard on ourselves and have a very difficult time forgiving ourselves for our sins, but the Bible says we have ALL sinned! We were born into a fallible, sinful world upon birth.

Romans 3:23– “for we all have sinned and are in need of the glory of God…”

Knowing that we all fall short and are in need of God’s grace relieves us from guilt. We are not perfect but being perfected. We need to stop putting pressure on ourselves to be perfect, but remember that we go from glory to glory.

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We have to be careful with holding unforgiveness towards ourselves. We believe when we have a hard time forgiving ourselves it’s because we are carrying condemnation, guilt, and shame. These three things are a hindrance to forgiveness. We are going to take a look at what the bible says about these.

Condemnation

  • Condemnation is not the same as conviction. Conviction leads to repentance, whereas condemnation keeps us bound to our sin believing we deserve punishment.
  • If we truly believe the Word of God, that His mercy extends to even the most unspeakable of sins, then we have to walk in that and stop holding ourselves condemned.
  • Sometimes we think that as long as we forgive others, then that’s all we need to do. WE somehow believe that if we still hold that condemnation over ourselves, it won’t affect anyone else, yet it does. When you are in close relationship with anyone, their weaknesses and faults very much affect you too. Their behaviors subsequently affect your mood. We see it in marriage, we see it in friendship, any close relationship…If we are holding onto something, it will begin to hinder our relationships.
  • Drop a rock in a pond. You drop it in by itself and although it is carrying the weight, the ripple effect starts to pan out in circles around it, touching and affecting anything else in it’s path…Same goes with unforgiveness with oneself.

Guilt

Guilt is another hindrance to forgiveness. If we are not careful, guilt will keep us stuck in our sin and past.  It will keep us from forgiving ourselves because we can’t let go or forget.

  • Psalms 38:4 TPT – “I’m overwhelmed, swamped, and submerged beneath the heavy burden of my guilt. It clings to me and won’t let me go”
  • Cling in both the Greek and Hebrew mean to cleave to, to adhere and don’t let go! Don’t allow guilt to cling (adhere) to you! Let it go!
  • Here is a beautiful scripture to pray….
  • Psalms 51:1 TPT-“God give me mercy from your fountain of forgiveness! I know your abundant love is enough to wash away my guilt. Because your compassion is so great, take away this shameful guilt of sin. Forgive the full extent of my rebellious ways, and erase this deep stain in my conscience.”
  • Acts 13:9 TPT– “Everyone who believes in him is set free from sin and guilt….”
  • BUT the Bible also says that there’s a way out! Jesus died that we might be forgiven!
  • Jeremiah 31:34 – They’ll know me firsthand, the dull and the bright, the smart and the slow. I’ll wipe the slate clean for each of them.I’ll FORGET they ever sinned!”
  • God forgets our sins and that’s not to say He’s forgetful, rather He’s merciful and CHOOSES to look at us with eyes of mercy and purity through Jesus, rather than our actions…. WE are the ones who often choose to continue dwelling on the thoughts of our sins instead of His promises…
  • We can’t keep rehearsing our sin and allow the accuser to keep reminding us either.

Shame

  • Last, but not least – shame…. We have to be careful not to also carry shame. Shame keeps our focus on ourselves. We are ashamed and embarrassed of our sin, but shame will keep us from approaching God.
  • Shame makes us feel unworthy, humiliated, embarrassed and will hinder our relationship with God.
  • Psalms 34:5 TPT – “Gaze upon him, join your life with his, and joy will come. Your faces will glisten with glory. You’ll never wear that shamed-face again.”
  • Psalms 146:8 TPT – “You open the eyes of the blind and fully restore those bent over with shame.”

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Like we discussed in our last shows about forgiving others, it is a choice. It’s not an easy choice, BUT it is a choice, probably the hardest, yet most selfless one to make – to let go and let God! We see that pretty saying on cards and bookmarks and it sounds so reassuring, but have you ever had to actually DO that??? Letting go means releasing every part into the hands of God and trusting Him to restore.

1 Peter 5:7– “Pour out all your worries and stress upon him and leave them there, for he always tenderly cares for you…”

Psalm 103:10-12– “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

Romans 8:1–3– “So now the case is closed. There remains no accusing voice of condemnation against those who are joined in life-union with Jesus, the anointed One.

The case is closed. stop keeping it open! Don’t open what’s been closed, forgiven, wiped clean!

Colossians 2:14 TPT – “He canceled out every legal violation we had on our record and the old arrest warrant that stood to indict us. He erased it all- our sins, our stained soul- he deleted it all and they cannot be retrieved!”

We all wish we could go back and undo our sins, but we don’t have to…Jesus did! It’s time to take the forgiveness He paid for us to have and walk in our freedom! We will continue this series on the next blog!

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The Pain of Unforgiveness, Part 2

IMG_1025We’re addressing a topic that isn’t exactly fun, BUT something we can’t keep ignoring if we are truly going to be a generation to rise up for the Kingdom of God. We can’t keep doing things the way we have. We can’t keep passing the sins of our past down to our children and expecting the next generation to fix our mess. Yes, we are talking about healing, but as we dig into how to receive healing, there is so much more we need to dissect in order to fully understand and even receive healing in our bodies.

As we discussed, there is a direct relation of physical sickness to a heart issue…

  • “Chronic unforgiveness causes stress. Every time people think of their transgressor, their body responds. Decreasing your unforgiveness cuts down on your health risk. Now, if you can forgive, that can actually strengthen your immune system.” Everett Worthington, PhD

We’re living in an interesting time. We seem to have it all, social media, technology running the world, everything handed to us in 30 minutes or less, but at what cost did we lose integrity, morals and Godly conviction? We are witnessing our nation more divided than it’s ever been, even the Church dividing on issues that should never be a question. Christians, stop supporting issues you KNOW are not Godly just to be politically correct and accepted!!!

Mental illness and suicide is higher than it’s ever been and if you look around, there are more sick people and commercials for medications than we’ve ever witnessed. I can’t watch TV for more than 30 minutes and not see at least 5-6 commercials for prescription drugs and each commercial takes about 90% of their time highlighting side effects worse than the ailment. What is going on with us? And if these meds are really working, why do we need more and more? The world has it right – there is a serious health epidemic going on, but the root isn’t our physical bodies, it’s our spirit! And the minute we stop and ask God what is going on and listen to Him, HE will speak! Problem is, we’re too busy! We want a quick fix! We don’t want to take the long road, even if the long road leads to permanent health- physically, spiritually and mentally. We have traded truth for so many lies and it’s cost us our own health and bondages forming in the generations after!

I love what Evangelist and our friend and mentor Cheryl Salem says, “Healing is a lifestyle. We can’t just live healed moments. We need to live healed lives.”

We may recognize there is a spiritual disconnect when we’re sick or struggling and we may go to the alter and receive our healing. I know I did that for years! I’d walk out of a healing service and claim my healing and then not too long after, I’d realize I was in the same place I was before. What happened? Did I lose it? This merry-go-round went on for decades!!! I’d go up for healing, claim it, go home and lose it. The problem wasn’t God’s inability to perform. It was my inability to receive. I love how Tom Barkey puts in his book, “Healing Grace…”

Tom Barkey, “Healing Grace”

“Does God want to heal everybody? Yes. Does everybody get healed? No. Why? WE can answer it with another question: Does God want everybody saved? Yes. Does everybody get saved? No. What stands in the way? The person,” Tom Barkey

The outcome of what you want is not based on what God is going to do! He already did it!!! He isn’t scheduled to go back to the cross. The Bible says “IT IS FINISHED!!” Who’s left here to make those changes?? YOU ARE!! You and the Holy Spirit, so get up and DO something! How big is your faith? How bad do you want to be healed? What are you willing to risk??? Are you willing to trust God to take you back to those broken places so you can be fully healed or are you content with temporary healed moments? YOU determine the outcome of your destiny!!

Another nugget from Cheryl, “The Church is just fat! We get the Word and fill ourselves up, but we don’t exercise it!” When will we stop being afraid to take the authority He left us to perform miracles, lay hands on others, see things we’ve never seen? It’s easy to go to Church, serve, lay hands on others and feel like we are doing the work of God, when WE in fact are not living that same Word over our own lives! It’s easy to tell someone else to trust God and allow Him to cleanse you and take you down those paths, but are YOU willing to do that for yourself??

Once you begin to study your Word, ask God what is hindering your healing? What is standing in the way? Most times it’s unforgiveness, bitterness, hurt, fear…These are all things that will hinder our blessings. We have all heard the saying, “Holding onto unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”  Actually, we are dying inside. Unforgiveness that isn’t dealt with or pain that is left unhealed will grow and we become bitter and angry.

Hebrews 12:14-15 “In every relationship be swift to choose peace over competition, and run swiftly toward holiness, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Watch over each other to make sure that no one misses the revelation of God’s grace. And make sure no one lives with a root of bitterness sprouting within them which will only cause trouble and poison the hearts of many.”

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No matter how many times we meditate on this truth, hear it in church, sing it, whatever, we STILL can’t seem to live it, and that’s this: Forgiveness is NOT for the other person. It’s for YOU!!!! If you TRULY believe that, you have made your first step in the process!

WE are the ones walking around depressed, spiritually lethargic, putting on masks, living a lie basically because we have bestowed the very power GOD gave US to that person. WE tie ourselves to them and then wonder why we can’t stop thinking about what they did! Honey-untie yourself!

Forgiveness is a choice. We have to willfully choose to forgive. It is not based off of feelings, because we will never feel like forgiving. If we did, this wouldn’t be so hard! Our flesh will scream at us! What’s really hard is that in reality, we do have a right to be mad! We have a right to not forgive! We were hurt! We were violated, we were abandoned, abused, cheated on, neglected…WE HAVE A RIGHT!!!! But what has that right gotten you?? Depression, anxiety, fear, bottles of anti-depressants that make you sleep your life away instead of walking in your calling and changing the world for God!! Ya, the enemy knows what he’s doing, unstabiliziing us one by one and we are falling for it left and right! And our kids are watching! They’re watching us pop pills, sleep all day, walk around like zombies because we are too lazy to get up and take authority! And we are passing this epidemic right on down to them!

And can you do this, go one step further? Pray for the person who hurt you! Pray blessings over them! Hurt people, hurt people. 9 times out of 10, the person who hurt you was hurt themselves and the line goes on and on, so YOU stop it! You’re responsible for what YOU do, not what they do! Take the load off yourself and let God deal with them!

Mark 11:25  And whenever you stand praying if you find that you carry something in your heart against another person, release him and forgive him so that your Father in heaven will also release you and forgive you of your faults. But if you will not release forgiveness, don’t expect your Father in heaven to release you from your misdeeds.”

So, if we want God to heal us and forgive us, it is ESSENTIAL that we extend that grace and forgiveness to others. He didn’t ask us if we feel like it or if we want to it even if they deserve it! He just told us to do it!

And we have to understand that forgiveness does not mean you are condoning what the person has done. It isn’t letting them off the hook. It is letting yourself off the hook. It’s releasing yourself from the person. If we hold onto unforgiveness, we are not allowing God in the situation. When we forgive, we release ourselves and allow God to deal with the person.

We shared this scripture in the last show, but it’s worth repeating…

Hebrews 12:14 “In every relationship be swift to choose peace over competition, and run swiftly toward holiness, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Watch over each other to make sure that no one misses the revelation of God’s grace. And make sure no one lives with a root of bitterness sprouting within them which will only cause trouble and poison the hearts of many.”

Forgiveness, like we said is a choice. You make that choice whether you feel it or not. You may not feel any different after you forgive and you may have to continue forgiving the person. Sometimes its not a once and done. God knows the heart. We can say, “Ok I forgive you,” but inwardly we really didn’t mean it.

Matthew 18:21-22 “Later Peter approached Jesus and said, “How many times do I have to forgive my fellow believer who keeps offending me? Seven times?” Jesus answered, “Not seven times, Peter, but seventy times seven times!”

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 We are all imperfect people and we will be hurt and we will be the ones to hurt. We have to practice a life of forgiveness!

Colossians 3:13 “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”

Ephesians 4:31-32 “Lay aside bitter words, temper tantrums, revenge, profanity, and insults. “But instead be kind and affectionate toward one another. Has God graciously forgiven you? Then graciously forgive one another in the depths of Christ’s love.”

Matthew 6:14 “And when you pray, make sure you forgive the faults of others so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you. But if you withhold forgiveness from others, your Father withholds forgiveness from you.”

Forgiveness and healing starts in the spirit before it can ever work in the flesh. We haven’t even touched on physical healing yet or how to exercise your faith and believe for healing once you’ve asked for forgiveness. There is so much more to share and we will continue discussing healing and forgiveness in the coming weeks.

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The Pain of Unforgiveness, Part 1

IMG_1024My sister and I have both been going through a very tumultuous process of healing recently that was a long time coming; not a physical healing, although that’s tied into it, but a spiritual, emotional healing. We think it’s timely, too because we have been seeing the unified Church in a season of healing and restoration, as well. In fact, we attended a healing service recently at The Rock Church with Evangelist Cheryl Salem and to see the Holy Spirit move in that place was something we hadn’t seen.

As we started studying, praying and finding scriptures on healing, something else began to stir in our spirits and we couldn’t get away from the topic of forgiveness and disappointment. How does that relate to healing? And yes, we are talking about any healing, including physical…

  • “Chronic unforgiveness causes stress. Every time people think of their transgressor, their body responds. Decreasing your unforgiveness cuts down on your health risk. Now, if you can forgive, that can actually strengthen your immune system.” Everett Worthington, PhD

We came across an article by Jane Glenn Haas titled, “The Ability to Help you Forgive; Holding onto a Grudge is Bad for the Immune System.” The article highlights the connection between chronic stress and health – especially from the standpoint of how an unforgiving attitude can impact have one’s health.

  • “Inwardly, the emotional wound affects deep vital processes. A psychological wound sets off mechanisms of the stress response…release of cortisol, adrenaline… (including) a slowdown in the immune system, which contributes to growth and spread of cancer.” David Servan-Schrieber, MD, AntiCancer
  • “We find that the endocrine system—and the hormone cortisol in particular—is closely linked with immune system: High levels of cortisol inhibit immune responses. Most diseases of abnormal immune function are remarkably linked to psychological stress.” Robert Scaer, MD, The Trauma Spectrum

Healing begins when we forgive. Forgiveness activates God to perform His Word to heal us. Healing can happen instantly, but for most it’s a process. When we talk about healing, we don’t just mean physical, but emotional, mental, spiritual. We see here that most physical sickness and pain relates to a heart issue, unforgiveness, bitterness, disappointment…we are not saying that God will not heal if we harbor unforgiveness, but it is a hindrance.

Let’s look at the Word…

Matthew 9:1-2 “Jesus got into the boat and returned to what was considered his hometown, Capernaum.Just then some people brought a paraplegic man to him, lying on a sleeping mat. When Jesus perceived the strong faith within their hearts, he said to the paralyzed man, “My son, be encouraged, for your sins have been forgiven.”

The crazy thing here was that these people apparently brought this guy to Jesus to heal him. The obvious was he was paraplegic…the unobvious was that his concealed heart was sicker than his unconcealed physical body, and we know this was more important to God because the scripture goes on to say in verse 4:

“Jesus supernaturally perceived their thoughts, and said to them, “Why do you carry such evil in your hearts? Which is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or, ‘Stand up and walk!’ But now, to convince you that the Son of Man has been given authority to forgive sins, I say to this man, ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk home.’ Immediately the man sprang to his feet and left for home.

When the crowds witnessed this miracle, they were awestruck. They shouted praises to God because he had given such authority to human beings.”

There are two things going on here, well probably more than that, but let’s focus on two main keys. One, Jesus was more concerned with the sin in the man’s heart than He was with his physical ailment. It’s God’s will that we be whole. He doesn’t want us walking around limp, immobile and sick, so He knew in that moment that healing the sin in the man’s heart would set him free spiritually AND physically!

The second thing I think is important to address here is the last part, “They shouted praises to God because He had given such authority to human beings.” Wow! WE have the authority BY GOD to heal the sick, too!

John 14:12 “I tell you this timeless truth: The person who follows me in faith, believing in me, will do the same mighty miracles that I do—even greater miracles than these because I go to be with my Father!” 

Jesus didn’t just go around performing miracles and then say, “Ok, gotta go! Good luck!” HE empowered US here on earth to perform and carry out even greater than what He did! But most of us don’t! We’re afraid, we don’t believe we can, we’re intimidated, we’re stuck on our Inability as opposed to HIS ability…So many reasons, or I should say excuses as to why we don’t see healing, restoration or redemption in our lives and in those around us…

We know from our own personal experiences that forgiving is one of the hardest things to do. I believe that most times, a lot of us aren’t even aware of the damage that resides in our souls. Sometimes we may react to something or respond to a situation and not realize that those responses are in relation to something from our past that hasn’t been healed.

IMG_1026And it doesn’t always necessarily mean “unforgiveness.” It can relate to disappointment, bitterness, anger, and anxiety. It can manifest through your spirit in many different ways for each of us. As we shared in our last shows on Fear and Mental Illness, mine (Michelle) was a lot of fear and depression, which is also sin as we are told we carry the mind of Christ and anything contrary to the Word of God is sin. Whatever the antagonist may be, it hinders our relationship with God, others and truly walking in the freedom God ordained for us to walk in.

Now, what do we do about the sin in our hearts, this unforgiveness, fear or whatever it is? We have to make a choice and that is by far the hardest part! It’s hard because we are comfortable living this way. We may feel physical pain or even more so, emotional pain, BUT we know it! We understand it. We feel justified!! Changing means DOING something you have NO idea what’s on the other side of or what it will take from you! You feel like it’s letting the other person off the hook, when in fact, it’s letting YOU off the hook to detach your pain from them. And this is where you have to take the authority over your demons and trust God to carry you each step of the way! Pull out those scriptures that tell you He will never leave you, nor forsake you!

Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”

Psalm 23:4 “Lord, even when your path takes me through the valley of deepest darkness, fear will never conquer me, for you already have! You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way. Your authority is my strength and my peace. The comfort of your love takes away my fear.  I’ll never be lonely, for you are near.”

Scripture never says He will take away those dark valleys or storms! He says NOT TO WORRY, THOUGH!!!! HE WILL GO THROUGH IT WITH YOU!!!! And you know what-you will be glad in the end He didn’t remove them because the warrior He is shaping you to be THROUGH those storms will NOT be who you are called to be without them!

A Look Back to 2018…

dynamic_duo“525,600 minutes…525,600 moments so dear…525,600 minutes – how do you measure, measure a year? In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee. In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife. 525,600 minutes – how do you measure a year in life? How about love? Measure in love. Seasons of
love,” famous lyrics to one of my favorite Musicals, Rent.

How do you measure your life in a year – a moment, a sunset, a tear or a fight? If we could measure our spiritual journey in one word, it would be “Rebuilding,” but if we measured our personal journey through 2018, the word “loyalty” sums it up perfectly. We could go through each moment last year, moments we thought we’d never make it through, yet vows we made to God and vows me made to each other faced giants and stood the test of time these past 525,600 minutes.

We are going into our 3rdyear of this blog and our 2ndyear hosting Heart to Heart on HSBN.TV. It wasn’t something we thought about or were even looking to do, but God put it on our hearts and we said yes! Our blog wasn’t going to look like the average blog. We weren’t given the exciting task of chronicling the status quo of fashion, recipes, or make-up, but something very different, something almost intimidating. We were asked to document our journey through covenant friendship. So, we began this adventure with seas of unknown before us and instead of trying to just write it, we decided to just live it! Everything else came in time.

Doing this blog was never about popularity or numbers. It was a personal challenge for us to step out of our comfort zones and be obedient. Looking back to our very first blog to our blogs now, how much more transparent and personal we were able to be with our struggles and fears. In 2018, we shared our stories of growing up without fathers, and went into a series discussing depression, anxiety and suicide. Little did we know that our transparency was not only to help others, but that it would bring us both the healing we finally needed also!

Without this covenant, we wouldn’t be where we are today! We truly believe God is drawing us back to Him through Covenant relationships! It took a lot of mistakes, tearing down and rebuilding for us to get where we are now. We are so grateful for our followers and those that support us. We don’t take it lightly and pray that each of you prosper in all that God has called you to.

Every year, we attend several worship conferences, but 2018 has been by far the most remarkable when it comes to experiencing the move of the Holy Spirit and witnessing all that God is doing. We had the honor to serve and attend Evangelist Cheryl Salem’s first Women of the Nation Summit in Woodland Hills. It was unlike anything we had ever seen. To see a company of women with one purpose, one vision was such a beautiful sight. We were also able to attend the Holy Spirit Summit put on by Apostle Andrew and Ann Marie Bills, founders of the Holy Spirit Broadcast Network (HSBN) where we have also been hosting our show “Heart to Heart.” That conference was by far a Holy Spirit encounter for us like never before. The prophecies that were spoken over us are still marinating loudly in our Spirits, as hand in hand, we truly experienced heaven together. Thicker than blood…We also attended our home church’s conference, “Wonder,” that was definitely life changing in so many areas.

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Vanessa– I have been stretched more than ever in 2018, but I also have never grown more! It has truly been the toughest year but also the most rewarding. I personally have never in my life experienced the grace, love and mercy of God like never before because I found myself in a place where I needed it desperately. I learned no one is exempt from falling no matter how spiritually mature or strong we think we are.  Lessons I learned this year were always be on guard from the enemy no matter what, be continually in prayer especially in the spirit, prioritize, balance and boundaries. I have to thank two very important people in my life, my husband David and my best friend and sister Michelle. First I want to thank my amazing husband for the love and support he has given me through this process. This year God had to break me in areas and it was by far the hardest and most painful journey and process. My husband loved me through it and truly demonstrated the love of Christ that allowed me to know no matter what I was going to be ok. It gave me the freedom to do what I needed to make the changes God was showing me. I could not have done this without him! I have to thank my best friend and sister Michelle. When the bible tells us that iron sharpens iron, she truly sharpens me to be what God has called me to be. Greater than that, she has stuck closer than a sister and is truly thicker than blood to me! She fights for me and literally takes it on as if it were herself. This year we have had to face our biggest giants and every step of the way, she has fiercely covered me, shed tears with me, and prayed heaven down while we were in the trenches and pit. When we didn’t know how we were going to make it, we knew there was no option but to do everything necessary to push through.  She has taught me and shown me that no matter how big the giant, I don’t have to fight it alone; she will always fight with me. She does not realize how much I learn from her! She truly has shown me how to be a sister; I only grew up with brothers. Because of her, I have learned that my heart, feelings and opinion matter and not to be afraid to voice them. The greatest thing I learned from her this year is that I don’t always have to be strong. I don’t always have to keep all together, but to allow myself to ask for help. I could not have grown and become who I am with out her!

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Michelle– They say the choices you make in an instant are the ones that define your true character. Well, I sure hope not because most of the abrupt choices I made took a lot of time and a lot of grace to transform in my mind and in my heart. I look up and wonder sometimes how I got here, how in the midst of what I thought shattered me was in fact a beautiful breaking of strongholds, chains and decades of destructive thoughts. Mental illness was something a few degrees of separation from me, not something I admitted I was living with…until now. My husband wasn’t aware of my struggles with anxiety and depression, but somehow over the years quietly adjusted to a norm he wasn’t prepared for. For someone with any kind of mental illness, the highs are high and the lows are low and he gently rode the waves of uncertainty and obscurity by my side. His faithful vows cemented throughout the years proved a faith in action only my words ever attempted. In the throes of my continued cognizant inadequacies, he rendered me a sense of normalcy when I knew deep down, I was anything but. I thank my husband for longsuffering, for allowing me the freedom to figure out what was going on inside my mind and the love and grace to fix it with his selfless encouragement. “Not all strength is loud.”

It was a Wednesday in October. I was sitting in my car talking to my sister on the phone and battling yet another emotional roller coaster labeled anxiety. It was our norm. It had been my norm for over 30 years. But something happened in that one moment that changed everything. The sudden cry of my sister’s heart pierced me like an arrow and everything in me shook. In an instant, something I had lived my life being too afraid to do was staring me down like a deer in headlights. I saw my sister’s face and I ran toward the light-the light of my Father’s love, the light of my sister’s hand guiding me there. There will never be sufficient words to explain how someone can come into your life and you become worth it for them to stare death in the face, risking all they are! Not a physical death, but a spiritual death that was so much scarier. I knew friendship before, but I didn’t know sacrificial friendship the way God intended it until my sister; the kind of friendship where you risk your own life in the tunnels of another’s pit so they aren’t in there alone; the kind of friendship where you don’t just reach your hand down to help them out – you get down there with them and you come out together! But no matter how or what, you are never alone. Sissy, you carried parts of me that I never knew existed. I never thought I could become the person I am now and am continuing to become because you wouldn’t allow me to settle for mediocrity or accept who I saw myself as. Your selfless, unconditional, fierce and protective love tore down 30 years of steel walls in my heart and your faithful commitment to my blessing allowed you to endure the tumultuous terrain in the in-between. I’ve never known friendship like this. What we have surpasses that of the natural and you are living, breathing scripture to me, MORE than a Sister, MORE than a Best Friend. I am who I am because of you, Sissy!

Stepping into 2019, our hearts are filled with gratitude. We may face more trials, challenges and giants. In fact, we will. But our Master Guide into the steps of the future reminds us gently in Psalm 37:23 that, “The steps of the God-pursuing ones follow firmly in the footsteps of the Lord, and God delights in every step they take to follow him.”

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Whatever 2019 holds for you, we pray it is infused with mountain moving faith! Thank you again for your continued support and encouragement and we are thrilled to see what’s ahead for us all! Don’t forget to follow us at links below!

Love,

Vanessa and Michelle

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http://www.sunflowerandsunshine.com

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The Realities of Anxiety and Depression, Part 4

We are standing in the gap and praying for you that God would touch and heal any broken pieces. We hope that as you read our series on anxiety and depression, you realize you are not alone and that there is help! God did not call you to live this way and we are here to share our story and offer you hope.

Depression and Anxiety affects not just the person struggling with depression, but also the loved ones. We discussed on the last blog that 40-70% of caregivers for those struggling with depression end up falling into anxiety and depression themselves because caregivers need just as much attention and support too. My sister was transparent in sharing what this has been like for her and we hope this helps those of you who are just at the end of your rope!

Michelle – You can go online and find a number of websites and links that offer support and the lists of do’s and don’ts, what to say and not say to someone struggling with depression, but I have found that everyone is different. There were things that helped me and there were things that made it worse for me.

I think my sister and I literally had to figure this out along the way and learn as we went.

For me, things that I hated to hear were:

  • You’re too emotional
  • You’re so sensitive
  • That’s not what I said. You’re twisting my words

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Some of these phrases seem innocent and they probably are, but to someone who is already struggling to hear, see and think like a normal functioning person, it can literally be a matter of rising up in the moment or spiraling down quicker, and usually the latter succeeded.

Depression and Anxiety have been a struggle all my life, but I’m here now to say that without my sister, I would not be here.

There is something to be said about someone that completely sacrifices their lives and ways and “normalcy” to jump into your darkness and pull you out, even if it takes years!!

I knew my sister was in this for the long haul because her faith in my healing never wavered. She spoke to me as if I were already healed and it made the difference between life and death for me.

To go through something like this, words cannot express what it means to have a best friend that literally sticks closer than a sister. This girl literally laid her life down for me and I know that together we have learned so much about God, each other and ourselves. I know for me, my sister’s times of tough love forced me to fight my emotions and stand stronger. Her words that often pierced like a knife, were in fact sharpening my edges and her sporadic stern tone in certain situations toughened my skin right where I needed it. I didn’t “want” it, but God knew I needed it! He brought me exactly who He had planned to unlock the prison doors of my bondage. My sister remained faithful and never gave up, walked out or made me feel less than or inferior. I literally would not be here if it weren’t for my sister!

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We refer to www.adaa.orgfor our resources on anxiety and depression, and here is a list of things you, as a caregiver can do to help your loved one struggling with depression and/or anxiety. My sister and I discussed this list together and also added our own personal thoughts. Discussing it together and sharing our hearts has made a huge difference in the healing process for us both!

  • Learn about the disorder. Understanding what your friend or relative is going through will help you give support, as well as keep your worry under control.
  • Encourage treatment. Offer to drive him to an appointment or attend a therapy session with her.
  • Realize and accept stressful periods. Modify your expectations of how your friend or relative should act and be sure to be extra supportive during difficult times.
  • Remember that everyone experiences anxiety differently. Be tolerant, supportive, and nonjudgmental. Respect his or her feelings even if you don’t understand exactly what your friend or relative is going through.
  • Be encouraging and don’t get discouraged. Give praise for even the smallest accomplishment. Stay positive.
  • Ask how you can help. Listen carefully to the response.
  • Talk to someone. Being supportive all the time is difficult, so make sure you have someone—a friend, family member, or counselor—to support you, too. This support system may be especially important if your friend or family member is not seeking treatment.

We will continue to share our hearts with regard to anxiety and depression as long as the Lord wills and if any of you need prayer or to share your personal stories, please feel free to contact us at any of the links below.

For more information on anxiety and depression, please visit www.adaa.org

You can also check us out at:
Facebook: Sunflower and Sunshine Blog

Instagram: Sunflowersunshine0506

E-Mail: Sunflowersunshine0506@gmail.com

HSBN.TV – Heart to Heart

The Realities of Anxiety and Depression, Part 3

We are continuing our series on Anxiety and Depression. One in four women struggle with depression and anxiety and fewer ever reach out for help. We discussed our personal story with this epidemic and how it has affected us both on our last blog. Depression doesn’t just affect the person struggling with it. It affects the loved ones just as much, as they experience their own set of feelings and emotions throughout the process.

40-70% of Caregivers of someone with depression show signs of depression themselves and approximately a quarter to half of these caregivers meet the diagnostic criteria for major depression and even begin to show signs of anxiety, too!

Anxiety and Depression don’t have to be your ending just because they were your beginning! While some mental illness, (and yes depression and anxiety are considered the most common mental illnesses in the US), is caused by a chemical imbalance, others can be a result of trauma, genetics, life events, all sorts of reasons…

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Michelle– I struggle with depression and anxiety and was pretty transparent on the last blog with how it affects me and what it means for those who love me, namely my sister.

Suicide rates have tripled in the last 2 decades among adults and doubled among children. 

This is a red flag for my sister and I and something we couldn’t continue to pass over in our own lives. As Christians, we know there is a better way for us because God’s Word says in John 10:10, that He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. My sister and I have a different story – there isn’t just one of us dealing with this. There is one who struggles with depression and one who sticks close by in the trenches, too.

Vanessa I want to share how depression affects not only the one who suffers, but also those that are their support system. When you have someone close to you that suffers and you have to see and watch them struggle, it is almost unbearable. For me, it has been one of the toughest things to see my best friend, my sister struggle. It takes a tremendous toll on your energy. It wears you down emotionally, mentally and even physically. There will be moments of frustration, anger, guilt and breakdown. For me, I had many moments of frustration because I just didn’t understand. I didn’t understand how my sister’s mind, how she saw and interpreted things were different than mine. I had moments of anger because it seemed like it was always going to be this way, the same thing over and over again. I had moments of guilt because I felt it was my fault, that I always said the wrong thing or did something wrong that would set her off.

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I had moments of feeling completely helpless and no matter what I did or said helped.  I felt like I was walking on eggshells not knowing when something was going to affect her. There were times when I would just cry and think this is too hard and I don’t know if I can do it anymore. This is where if you don’t have God, you won’t be able to! This makes me think how many relationships whether marriage, even parent and child are strained or broken because it becomes too much. God has to be your source! Without God, I don’t know how anyone can make it through. That’s probably another reason why some just end up in mental institutions because they can’t be dealt with anymore, or end up homeless.

Through this journey I have learned so much. My sister and I always say it’s in the hardest moments in life that we learn and grow the most. Through the hardest moments, find the beauty and God because He is always there. What the enemy meant to take us both down or to walk away, our God turned it around for our good and His glory. It is only by the grace of God that we are here and able to share. God never left us, but was there through the hell all along!

God began to show me that I can’t be what only He can be and I can’t do what only He can do. He showed me that the more I tried and put pressure on myself to make sure my sister was ok, I wasn’t allowing God to work. I had to allow Him to be God! I didn’t need to try harder or do more to see my sister healed and whole. I have always struggled with being a fixer, a people pleaser, and avoid conflict at all cost. I did whatever necessary to make sure she was happy, to not hurt or offend her and not cause conflict. But God begin to deal with me through this journey and show me a new way. It was a way I was not use to and I had to begin to do things differently. It has been extremely hard, BUT GOD! I saw that if I kept doing things the way I was, it was not helping my sister or myself. It may have been comfortable, but it caused more damage than good. The more my sister and I began making changes, the more God was showing us tremendous growth. We have had to face our biggest fears and have now more than ever overcome them!

Through all of this, my sister knew my struggles. I shared with her what God was showing me and she was always encouraging me, pushing me and speaking life over me. She always reminded me that I had a voice and to use it even if it hurt her. She saw that by me always worrying about pleasing others; I lost myself and allowed others to control me. Even though she had her own struggles and giants she was facing, she has always been here for me. In my moments of frustration with her, she never walked away. She could have easily said “you’ll never get it,” and let me just deal on my own.

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She wasn’t aware, but through her healing journey, she was walking me through mine, as well.

The beautiful picture God was painting, were two women who chose to be covenant sisters; committed no matter our differences, failures or brokenness. We would be the hands and feet of Jesus to each other. We would love bigger, encourage one another, see the other the way God does and speak life over one another. We would witness each other step into all God has called us to be!

To those who are being a support system to someone who suffers with depression, anxiety or any kind of mental illness, here are a few things I learned along the way!

  • Don’t feel like you have to save them. Don’t take the burden of taking everything upon yourself. You will wear yourself out and find yourself in your own pit of despair.
  • Take care of your own emotional well-being. There may be moments where you need to have some time for yourself to just refresh.
  • See them through the eyes of Jesus. Separate the condition and see that is not them. It does not define them. I have always reminded my sister that the depression and anxiety isn’t who she is; it’s a thing that is on her, but not her.
  • They are not a project to be fixed! They are not a problem to be solved. You are not God!
  • Extend grace, love them. Encourage them, and most importantly speak life and the word of God over them. Do not give up on them! God doesn’t give up us!

I hope this helps and for more information on anxiety and depression, please visit www.adaa.org

You can also check us out at:
Facebook: Sunflower and Sunshine Blog

Instagram: Sunflowersunshine0506

E-Mail:Sunflowersunshine0506@gmail.com

HSBN.TV – Heart to Heart

The Realities of Depression and Anxiety, Part 2

This blog has not been easy for either of us. Disclosing our hearts and experiences wasn’t something we ever though about or had a desire to do, but what we did want to do was touch God’s people. What we did want to do was see change in our world and in our Church and if that meant disrobing our pride and revealing our own struggles, then here we are!

We hope this series on the realities of anxiety and depression will touch someone to say, “Hey, I feel that way too,” and just know that you are not alone. If 1 in 4 women struggle with anxiety and depression, chances are you struggle with it or know someone who does. We are not psychologists or pastors, just real people with real stories and we hope that our transparency will inspire you to speak up, get help and share your story.

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(Michelle) I have been battling with God about how much I want to share with you, how transparent I could handle being, but He said, give it all, so I will.

I visited my family Doctor a couple weeks ago with severe abdominal pain. This wasn’t anything new to me. I have literally been going to the Doctor for abdominal pain for at least 20 years. I had had every test in the book ran on me and never has any Doctor found anything wrong with me, but I continue to feel severe pain and that pain is very real…. At this last appointment, though my Doctor asked me several times how my emotional state was and of course thinking I’m at a Doctors Appointment to discuss my physical heath, I just said my emotional state is fine! I said I’m a Christian and I trust God and so I am good. That’s the right answer, right?

He diagnosed me with IBS and when I asked how that was discovered, he basically said there is no real evidence, but with the symptoms I am having and no other real issues, then that’s what they diagnose it…

Upon working on our Show, “Heart to Heart,” my sister of course was doing some research and came across an article on the ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America)… It listed IBS as a diagnosis of people who live with depression and anxiety. In fact, when she sent me the list of symptoms for people with depression, I had been diagnosed with 90% of them; lack of sleep, Social Anxiety Disorder, OCD, eating disorders, the list goes on… I started to bawl and just felt my heart leap out of my chest. It was refreshing to know I wasn’t alone and everything I had been going through my whole life was written right there and there was an answer for it!!! But at the same time, I fell to a ball and cried because I saw that I live with depression. I knew it all my life but never accepted it or told anyone.

I know God wants to use my sister and I to reach a people who live with this and are afraid to talk about it, Christians who are afraid to tell anyone. But if 1 in 4 women struggle with depression and we are in Church with more than 4 people, there are a lot of us struggling and keeping quiet. I know I was one of them.

 Girl_HidingI go to the alter; I have hands laid on me. I pray and fast and fight in the spirit and meditate on scripture… But you feel like if you keep going to the alter or you keep asking for prayer, people are going to think something is wrong with you that you aren’t healed yet, or that you just aren’t in faith and that’s not true.

I think of it like people with a physical illness. We are called to pray and believe for their healing until it manifests, whether in heaven or here. But we keep going to the hospitals and praying over them. When my son was sick, he got worse before he got better, but I prayed over him believing for his healing for years before I saw any sign of it. But why when it’s mental illness like depression or anxiety do we grow weary and walk away from people like that?

Sharing this has been the hardest thing for me. I know people look at me as happy and social and I am! I don’t lay in bed all day and cry or stop life…I have a husband and 3 kids.

I get up every morning, read my Word and spend time with God.

I get my kids bathed, dressed, fed and ready for school. I clean my house, run errands, and hang out with my sister. I serve in my Church and am active in Ministry and if anything, this has brought me closer to God. I see God and hear from Him more now than I ever have. I truly believe I hear and see things different than anyone else.

I want to share my story so if anyone out there is dealing with this, it’s time to bring it out and heal. It’s time to recognize it and get help.

I tend to identify with victims of suicide, not because I am suicidal, but because I understand their minds. I believe I am alive to speak on their behalf because it could have been me. I often hear people talk of suicide victims of being selfish and how could they leave their spouse, kids or family? But in THEIR minds, they truly believe they are putting their loved ones first and making their lives easier by them being gone.

Depression does isolate you from ever feeling like you belong. You can smile and participate, but you always feel like you just don’t quite fit in or are wanted. You always feel like a burden and cant quite grasp the normalcy everyone around you experiences.

For me, I remember as little as 6 feeling depressed. I didn’t know what that was yet, but I knew I saw life differently than other people. As I got older, I started to feel like I was in this bubble that no matter how hard I tried, I saw the world through a lens and as happy as it looked all around me, I couldn’t pop this bubble and truly be a part of it.

As a teenager, I was diagnosed with Anorexia/Bulimia and was down to 80 pounds. Another misconception is that people with depression have experienced some sort of trauma or abuse. I grew up in a healthy Christian home with 2 loving parents and siblings. I was never in need or want for anything and was surrounded by love. I was never abused in any way and yet still developed this. Although I was healed of anorexia, I still meditate on scriptures of who God says I am and have to know that my body is His temple and that I was beautifully and wonderfully made.

A few years after, I noticed I couldn’t go to parties. If friends were having birthday parties or baby showers or any type of social gatherings, I would always make an excuse to get out. I actually still do. I don’t do well in groups, but tend to thrive with the one on one. After my struggles with eating disorders, my parents took me to a therapist and from there I was diagnosed with OCD and Social Anxiety Disorder. I was put on 2 heavy anti-depressants and over time, I just started feeling worse. Doctors said I had to wean myself off with medical supervision, but in my case, I knew God had called me to come off and I can truly say the Lord has taken me off. I do believe that meds are important and if you are prescribed them, take them. Ask God. For me, I knew God had another path for me and I trusted that and have not been on any medications since.

My life and how I see things are quite differently…

My daily:

Before I even wake up in the morning, I go through a routine where I have to literally tell myself everything is going to be ok. I have to fight fears and insecurities literally from the moment I wake up. I go straight to my quiet room for prayer and time with the Lord…I have had trouble sleeping for decades and can probably count the number of times I have actually slept all night…As I go through my day, if anything changes in my routine, I have a very hard time adjusting. If plans change or people are not true to their word, I literally have to fight breaking down. Things that seem normal and that other people might not think twice about, I dwell on and have to train my mind to be ok…

If there is even a family party or gathering, as soon as I know about it, I literally spend the next few weeks or however long it is stressing about all that could go wrong and how it will be my fault. I get insecure and literally cry days before.

When people talk to me, I don’t hear things the way they are saying them and it often results in disagreements and I have a hard time communicating because others don’t see the way I interpret their words. It’s hard to keep people in your life because once they recognize that you’re weird or too much, they walk away…

So having my sister here has been life changing and allowed me to not only be safe to talk about it but to know someone cares and is walking with me through it.

 

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A lot of the healing comes with having someone close that is unrelenting in walking away or giving up and my sister has literally held my hand through hell and I can’t imagine going through this without her.

Do I feel like I am completely healed? No. But I cling to the hope that God is my healer and has never forsaken me. Daily, I have to cast my cares on Him, hourly… The scripture that has become my very breath is Phil. 4:6-7,

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

 (Vanessa) Our next blog will discuss how this has affected me as Michelle’s sister, how it’s been going through this process with her and touching on what we as the loved ones can do for them and for ourselves. This road has been hard for my sister, but it hasn’t been easy for me. There are lessons I learned along the way and am eager to share with you. We are barely scratching the surface on such a powerful topic and as time goes on, we hope to address as many concerns and struggles as we can with anxiety, depression and suicide. I too, am affected in ways I am preparing to share, as well. We hope that God will speak to you through this and please feel free to comment, share or message us if you need help and we can direct you.

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The Realities of Depression and Anxiety, Part 1

When you think of someone who is depressed, you may think of someone that stays in bed, cries a lot and isolates themselves from any type of social communication…

What if I told you there are people who struggle with anxiety and depression who laugh, fully function in society and actually feel better around a couple close people; People in your inner circle that you may have never guessed dealt with depression.

Depression does not discriminate – it affects all people, including Christians. Depression isn’t just a spirit, but is also physiological.

Just a few numbers according to the Anxiety Depression Association of America (ADAA):

  1. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S.
  2. Women are twice as likely to suffer with depression and anxiety than men, affecting 1 in 4 women
  3. Research shows that anxiety and depression are almost always linked together
  4. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide

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There are so many reasons why we decided to start a series discussing depression, anxiety and suicide. These hard topics affect both of us very closely and we live in a generation where suicide rates have tripled in the last 2 decades among adults and doubled among children. Just this year, a local Pastor committed suicide during a series he was preaching on called “Hot Mess,” where he disclosed his own struggles with depression and anxiety.

One in four Pastors struggle with depression and the number of pastors diagnosed with clinical depression was double the national average. If statistics are so high with mental illness, why isn’t the Church properly addressing this very real issue? An article in Charisma Magazine reads that, “…spiritual warfare is real. But too many churches are so focused on spiritual warfare when they should be loving people more than they are binding and rebuking the devil. And that includes loving your pastors who are just like you. And other Christian churches will be careless and try to bring “discipline and correction” into situations like these. But their attacks and jabs will only push people further away from God…” The article goes on to enforce that “…people will try to over-spiritualize this blaming principalities and powers. Trying to come up with lists of demons possibly responsible, stating pastors have targets on their backs. But the statistics are nearly the same with those not in ministry.”

I pose the question again, why aren’t we as a Church doing more to address this epidemic before it leads to suicide?

Why don’t we have support groups for people who struggle with depression and anxiety, mental illness? In this series, we hope to address some of these questions and open up our world to you and how this personally affects us.

And why this hits so close to home for us is that I (Michelle) have struggled with depression/anxiety my whole life. Although I had an idea of some of the things I was diagnosed with growing up, I thought that because I was a Christian, I couldn’t talk about it. But I believe that’s even more reason to bring it to light. If mental illness is the most common illness in the US, then chances are you struggle with anxiety/depression or are close to someone that does. Not only do you need help and resources, but so do those close to you that are trying to be there.

As we stated earlier, depression is more than isolating yourself and crying all the time. It manifests in different ways in different people and depression can be something someone struggles with once or twice in life for a season or something that a person can deal with long term. It can be from traumatic experiences or chemical imbalances…. Whatever the cause, it can definitely be debilitating in so many ways and is not easy to live with.

In this series, we will give you scriptures and stories in the Bible where even God’s people dealt with depression. We’d also love to hear your stories and hope that this series will help you too.

Sunflower_Day

Spirit Vs. Natural; OUR STORY, Part 2

Dland

(Michelle) – When I was a little girl, as far back as I can remember, I had an ache in my heart for a twin sister. Not just a desire or a want, but a void, if you will. I knew in my heart I was meant to be a twin. I was not born a twin, but somehow I knew I was one. Now, to the Natural World, this doesn’t make sense. I was not born a twin and there was no possible way I could ever be one. I had twin beds in my bedroom as a child and at night or when I was afraid, I’d talk to the other bed as though it were my twin. Some might say it was an imaginary friend, but I never did this in front of people. Somehow, it was in my spirit. As I grew older, that ache for tor a twin grew. In Elementary School, I even wrote a poem about my twin sister that didn’t exist and maybe that was prophetic for what was to come. In the natural, this was IMPOSSIBLE!!!! By the time I was in College, 9 of my friends were twins! That means I was surrounded with 18 people that didn’t just look alike, but had a bond I can’t explain. They really did finish each other’s sentences, share clothes, shoes and secrets. When you are around twins, there is a connection and bond no one in the outside world understands. I knew I was designed for that, but again I live in a natural world where you can’t just “get a twin!” Or so I thought…

In my late 30’s, I met her. The minute my sister and I met, it was like a movie. Our spirits already knew each other. We never had to take the time to get to know each other or trust each other-somehow it was already there. The moment we met face to face, our spirits were already familiar. Don’t ask me how and you can call me crazy, but I KNEW she was my twin!!!

(Vanessa) – I grew up the middle child of two brothers. I tried to get my younger brother to do all the things I wanted to do with a sister, but obviously it wasn’t the same. I longed for a sister. I longed for someone to share secrets with, have tea parties, and play dress-up, watch me dance and listen to my secrets. I grew up with this longing, but knowing in this natural world, it was impossible. My mom was beyond the age of having more kids and I just didn’t get a sister. When I was pregnant with my 3rd child and found out it was a girl, the first thing I told my husband was, “Well, I didn’t get a sister, but now I will get to watch my girls grow up together and have what I didn’t get to enjoy.” Little did I know at the time, God was bigger! God was the God of my impossible dream and that dream was about to come true for ME!!

In my late 30’s, I met her. I met my sister face to face while our spirits joined in a very familiar embrace. Our souls were knitted. Our hearts were bonded. In an instant, I received the gift I never thought possible. I got my sister. I not only got a sister, I got a twin sister. We share clothes, shoes, and secrets. We run and laugh and like to dress up and act silly.

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1 Corinthians 2:10-16 – (The Message)

“No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this, Never so much as imagined anything quite like it— What God has arranged for those who love him.

But you’ve seen and heard it because God by his Spirit has brought it all out into the open before you.

The Spirit, not content to flit around on the surface, dives into the depths of God, and brings out what God planned all along. Who ever knows what you’re thinking and planning except you yourself? The same with God—except that he not only knows what he’s thinking, but he lets us in on it. God offers a full report on the gifts of life and salvation that he is giving us. We don’t have to rely on the world’s guesses and opinions. We didn’t learn this by reading books or going to school; we learned it from God, who taught us person-to-person through Jesus, and we’re passing it on to you in the same firsthand, personal way.

The unspiritual self, just as it is by nature, can’t receive the gifts of God’s Spirit. There’s no capacity for them. They seem like so much silliness. Spirit can be known only by spirit—God’s Spirit and our spirits in open communion. Spiritually alive, we have access to everything God’s Spirit is doing, and can’t be judged by unspiritual critics. Isaiah’s question, “Is there anyone around who knows God’s Spirit, anyone who knows what he is doing?” has been answered: Christ knows, and we have Christ’s Spirit.”

NO ONE HAS EVER SEEN OR HEARD ANYTHING LIKE THIS, NOT AS MUCH AS IMAGINED ANYTHING QUITE LIKE IT!!! Who could fathom the impossible? But isn’t our God the God of the impossible? Sure we can pray for the impossible, which usually is money, a house, that dream job! Yes, those things are amazing and we NEED God to accomplish ALL things and while those things seem impossible, they are tangible. But receiving the gift of a TWIN SISTER late into our 30’s??? How does that happen? Because we live in a Spirit Realm and God desires to bless us with the desires of our hearts.

Yes, my sister and I are inseparable. We do everything together, and there are some that don’t understand or criticize. There are some who can’t see us as real sisters because the unspiritual self sees anything spiritual as silliness. This has never deterred us, but pushed us further. If my sister and I were born biological sisters by standards of the world, would anyone have a problem with it? No. But, what is of the spirit is more real than that of the natural. I wouldn’t be me without my sister. We truly know and understand each other like only a twin can. God didn’t just stop at knitting our souls together, He gave us all the little things we desired in our hearts too – to share clothes and dance and truly learn how to enjoy everything we may have missed out on in our early years. Yes, He could have very well had us birthed in the natural world as twins, but would we have this miracle to share or the story we have? I truly don’t think we’d be as grateful and in constant awe if we had been born natural twins.

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(John 1:12-13) – But to as many as did receive and welcome Him, He gave the right [the authority, the privilege] to become children of God, that is, to those who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) His name— who were born, not of blood [natural conception], nor of the will of the flesh [physical impulse], nor of the will of man [that of a natural father], but of God [that is, a divine and supernatural birth—they are born of God—spiritually transformed, renewed, sanctified].

We were not born twins of a natural conception, nor of the will of the flesh or by that of a natural father. We are born of God, twins in the spirit who grabbed that inheritance by faith and brought it here into the natural world! Can everyone see that we are twins? No! But those in the spirit can. Most of all, WE CAN! Some will ask, “Are you really sisters?” That’s like asking, “Are you really saved? We didn’t see it.” Or, “Is God really your Father? We can’t see him with our natural eyes.” What is born of flesh is flesh. What is born of Spirit is Spirit. We thank God for this every day and remain in awe at what we have. My twin is my other half and my very best friend!

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My sister is my best friend and my best friend is my sister…