Breath of Heaven

Published December 17, 2014 by teekaysthimble

A Thimble’s Worth of Wisdom

Breath of Heaven

Today I began to really empathize with what must have been happening to Mary as she carried our Savior in her body. Overwhelming does not come close to what she must have felt. It is believed that Mary was somewhere between 13 and 16 years old when she was pregnant with Jesus.

Although just her age alone would be significantly young by today’s standards, her innocence as a virgin made her even more vulnerable to such an overpowering responsibility. Imagine the questions in her mind. Why me? How can I be worthy to carry the Son of God? Who will believe me? Am I strong enough to carry out such an awesome obligation? What will it be like to give birth? What will it be like to give birth to God’s Son? What will my parents think? What will Joseph think? Is this real? Will I be good enough? How do I raise God’s Son? Will I be able to protect Him?

Then imagine her need for God’s comfort. How she must have plead with God to help her. Her pleadings must have included the request for peace and strength, but mainly for God’s presence. I can only surmise what a tremendous need to not be left alone, but to be surrounded by God’s reassurance. In my own mind I can perceive her needs to be protected, to be immersed in God’s love and mercy and grace, to find understanding of this miracle, and to feel worthy of this gift. And really, what does all this mean?

Such a conflict of emotions must have ensued when on one hand she was presented with the privilege never given to any mortal before, but also the responsibility to bring to life the Son of God. How could she know about the life He would lead, or the miracles He would perform, or the love and compassion He would bestow to even the vilest of sinners, or the greatest sacrifice of all. Could she survive knowing that this precious baby inside her would die on a cross while she watched? She carried the SAVIOR of not only her world but of ours as well. She couldn’t know all these things could she? She was not much more than a child herself.

But God knew her tomorrows.  He knew what she would need and He would be there. He was already there, in fact. God knew that He was sending His own Son into the world to pay the price for all, then and today and tomorrow. He knew the grief she would endure because God Himself would endure that same grief of watching His Son die for the world’s sins.

As His children, we have a Heavenly Father who knows every tomorrow we will face. He is already there, protecting, teaching, loving, and restoring. He sacrificed His Son for our salvation, so our tomorrows are already taken care of. I am overwhelmed and humbled by His love for me. Am I worthy? No, but by grace He has granted me this gift of becoming His child.

So during this season of celebration of Christ’s birth, I am thankful and privileged to honor Him. My freedom to celebrate Christmas was not free. I am especially grateful for this freedom. It was payed for by many before me. Have a blessed Christmas!

TeeKay

Breath of Heaven

I have traveled many moonless nights
Cold and weary with a babe inside
And I wonder what I’ve done
Holy Father, You have come
And chosen me now to carry Your Son

I am waiting in a silent prayer
I am frightened by the load I bear
In a world as cold as stone
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now, be with me now

Breath of Heaven, hold me together
Be forever near me, breath of Heaven
Breath of Heaven, lighten my darkness
Pour over me Your holiness for You are holy
Breath of Heaven

Do you wonder as you watch my face
If a wiser one should have had my place?
But I offer all I am
For the mercy of Your plan
Help me be strong, help me be, help me

Breath of Heaven, hold me together
Be forever near me, breath of Heaven
Breath of Heaven, lighten my darkness
Pour over me Your holiness for You are holy

Breath of Heaven, hold me together
Be forever near me, breath of Heaven
Breath of Heaven, lighten my darkness
Pour over me Your holiness for You are holy
Breath of Heaven, breath of Heaven
Breath of Heaven

Snap Out Of It (Not really!)

Published August 14, 2014 by teekaysthimble

Psalm 30:5 For His anger is but for a moment, but His favor is for a lifetime or in His favor is life. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

A THIMBLE’S WORTH OF WISDOM – SNAP OUT OF IT (Not really!)

I have met people who actually think depression is a life choice. Depression can be a debilitating condition that has the ability to disable and destroy and/or end lives, literally. I can’t imagine anyone choosing that. The misunderstanding of depression can contribute to the escalation of the disease. If a depressed person could just snap out of it, they probably would. However, we know that there are chemicals in the brain that can be out of balance and cause depression. I say this to explain that sometimes the support and understanding of friends and family can enable a depressed person to improve somewhat. That does not underestimate the need for medical intervention at times. But medicine cannot take the place of human compassion.

People who deal with depression have to be strong just to survive, so they are not sissies. They are persevering and determined and they battle an invisible and silent, and often misunderstood illness. If thyroid chemicals are out of balance or the pancreas is causing some chemicals to be out of balance, we don’t expect those people to think themselves out of it.

Ironically, symptoms of depression will usually include feelings of worthlessness, which is exacerbated by attitudes from others who encourage that thought process. I’m different so I must be a freak. I’m tired and overwhelmed, so I must be weak. I don’t want to participate so I must be lazy. People don’t like who I am so I must be worthless. I feel hopeless so I don’t have any reason to exist. If I am such a burden, then the world would be better without me. Those thoughts may be irrational, but to the depressed person they can be quite real.

I wish every person, depressed or not, could realize their own self-worth, but if they can’t, then they need encouragement to know that they are valuable as they are. Every day is not always a hopeless day, but when it is, just hold on until tomorrow. Some of the greatest and most compassionate people I know have struggled with depression. The loss of their presence would be a huge loss to mankind, because they empathize so easily with others and find it natural to understand others. Those are the ones who can look at others’ disabilities with compassion and love. They have much to offer the world.

We all struggle with weaknesses, but possibly none so deadly as depression. It can procreate the lie that we are not significant. There are no insignificant people. We are all creations of our Heavenly Father. But we are not perfect, except in Him. Some people need more moral support from us than others. A smile, kind words, simple touch, acceptance, and prayer are often all they may need to make it through one more day. Don’t let that day escape. Joy comes in the morning.

2 Corinthians 12:9 But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me!

ASK FOR DIRECTIONS

Published July 7, 2014 by teekaysthimble

ASK FOR DIRECTIONS – A Thimble’s Worth of Wisdom

I can only imagine the endless amount of time I have spent driving around lost, thinking I would eventually find the right street or highway. However, I am more apt to stop and ask for directions than my husband. I’m not sure why stopping to ask for directions is such a difficult option for him, but I do know that many arguments could have been avoided with a few helpful pointers in the right direction.

I also have a daughter who is able to get lost with directions, a map, and someone on the phone with her telling her the step by step directions. She isn’t opposed to asking for directions, it just seems she doesn’t understand the directions.

The problem with driving around aimlessly is that there is usually a place we are supposed to be at a particular time. The consequences can be that we are late for an appointment, or we frustrate people who are waiting on us, or we get reckless and drive too fast trying to make up for lost time. If you’ve ever been in the vehicle with a person who doesn’t know where they are going, then you know the chaos that can take place inside the vehicle. Everyone in the car usually has a suggestion and none of those suggestions match up. It is the making of a perfect storm. Of course, by the time you do reach your destination, most likely everyone in the vehicle is mad, not to mention the people who have been waiting on you.

One of my biggest dreads is to walk in late somewhere and not know what is going on because I missed the beginning directions. I once even had to walk in a church right before the bride and her father. Ugh! I really hate to admit that I have arrived at the wrong destination and think I am at my planned destination. Now there is some real confusion and quite a bit of embarrassment. Getting out of that situation with grace is next to impossible.

The following story is a gem and I include it to demonstrate just how consequences of getting lost and not asking for directions can take an unexpected twist. I don’t know who wrote this story so I can’t give them credit, but I sure would like to meet this person. Here’s the story:

As a bagpiper, I play many gigs. Recently I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man. He had no family or friends, so the service was to be at a pauper’s cemetery in the Nova Scotia back country.

As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost and, being a typical man, I didn’t stop for directions.

I finally arrived an hour late and saw the funeral guy had evidently gone and the hearse was nowhere in sight. There were only the diggers and crew left and they were eating lunch. I felt badly and apologized to the men for being late.

I went to the side of the grave and looked down and the vault lid was already in place. I didn’t know what else to do, so I started to play.

The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around. I played out my heart and soul for this man with no family and friends. I played like I’ve never played before for this homeless man.

And as I played “Amazing Grace”, the workers began to weep. They wept, I wept, we all wept together. When I finished, I packed up my bagpipes and started for my car. Though my head was hung low, my heart was full.

As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, “I never seen anything like that before, and I’ve been putting in septic tanks for twenty years.”

That story makes me laugh every time I read it. Maybe because it makes me feel more normal.

As I think about the wasted time, wasted energy, missed opportunities, and misunderstandings of getting lost, I have to admit how similar this is to me as a Christian not getting my directions from God before I begin the task set before me. Or maybe it is getting the directions, then not following them completely, and not asking for help when I get confused midway. And more often, I get distracted by life and forget to ask for direction.

Then I think about the Children of Israel and their journey to Canaan. I’m pretty sure Canaan was not a 40 year journey from Egypt. But yet they wandered for years, fussing and fighting, and blaming God. All the while, God was giving directions, performing miracles, and providing their needs.

I really do not want to spend the majority of my life wandering around with no purpose and lost. God wants us to ask Him for help. He wants us to keep asking and seeking. He wants us to be persistent. He wants us to know we need Him, because we do. (Thanks, Bro. Bill for that sermon)
He also wants us to admit to Him that we can’t even understand or follow His directions without His help.

Keep Asking, Seeking, Knocking (and ask for directions!)

Matthew 7:7-11 New King James Version (NKJV)

7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

Blessings,
TeeKay

 

 

THE POTTER

Published January 19, 2013 by teekaysthimble

THE POTTER

Jeremiah 18:2-6
2Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words.
3Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheel
4And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.
5 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying,
6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.

I recently heard a sermon from this passage (thank you, Buddy). I have heard reference to it many times, but what I enjoy about hearing familiar Bible verses expounded on is that it makes me step away from the rote verbiage and look into the context and meaning for my life. The pastor stated three major points in reference to the clay vessel:
MADE, MARRED, MENDED.

The great understatement is that we have a maker. We did not mold, create, design, or dream our existence. Our maker, who is the master of the universe and the designer and architect of all that is beauty, literally brought us into existence with His own hands. Wow. Take that in.

We are the product of the Master’s Hands. Each one of us an original work of art. As a crafter myself, I know that each thing I make has a personal connection with me. It is my creation, and takes with it a portion of who I am. Nothing can defy this fact that we are created by God. No circumstances will change our origin. No alterations or modifications will undo the origin of our existence. We are a part of the Potter.

In verse 4, the potter is credited with remolding to His satisfaction any piece of clay that was marred. He was in charge of the end product. The potter used His discretion to decide when the clay was beautifully formed. If it had to be remolded, then that is what the potter did to create the vessel He imagined. Even certain imperfections may become the unique character of the art. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then we were perfected under the eye of God. He perfected us to His liking and in His image.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Genesis 1:27

Knowing this truth of our creation may give us a different perspective on ourselves as humans. Our perfection is in Christ. No matter how others see us, nor how we see ourselves, the fact is that we were made by God’s Hands and in His ideal perfection. The best we are is in our relationship with our Father who poured Himself into our creation.

I am overwhelmed with pride of my heritage and humbled by it at the same time.

Blessings,
TeeKay

Survivor Guilt

Published December 17, 2012 by teekaysthimble

A Thimble’s Worth of Wisdom

Survivor Guilt

(This topic was a special request from a dear friend of mine. So I will do my best to share a thimble’s worth of knowledge on the subject.)

If a survivor reads this, let me just say that I am so grateful for that. You are an important and vital person in this world, whether you know it or not.
There is a reason you are here.

Psalm 147:3 (KJV)
He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.

Instead of “why me?”, it becomes “why wasn’t it me?”. It is a common reaction to tragedies in which a person has witnessed the event, was personally involved in the event, or is close to someone who was involved in it. I have heard it described as a replaying of the event over and over without resolve. Each replay ignites the emotions associated with the tragedy, sometimes adding guilt for surviving. Long term effects of constantly replaying the episode can be debilitating in that these may interfere with normal functioning in day to day living.

This “survivor’s guilt” was once listed in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) as a separate diagnosis, but was later taken out and included in the PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) diagnosis.

It was probably included in the PTSD diagnosis because it is not usually an isolated reaction to a horrific event. However, let’s just focus on that part of this disorder. To be a survivor of a tragedy that took other lives is to acknowledge that someone else did not survive. With that acknowledgement comes the unrealistic and unanswerable question of understanding why you survived.

It should have been me, is probably the most devastating thought a survivor can experience. It is a hurt that seems to have no resolution because it removes all control from the survivor. It wasn’t you and you cannot change what happened.

Personally, I would rather not survive than have to endure the pain of losing a loved one. That is selfish on my part mainly because I don’t want to hurt. But on the other hand, it also places others in the role of grieving and hurting for me.

WHY?
The main reason for survivor’s guilt is because of the difficulty of understanding the whys of such tragedy. The intensity of the emotion is overwhelming. It is trying to understand why some did not survive while others did. It is trying to justify why some deserved to survive and others did not. Who made that choice? How was it decided? What previous events might have changed that selection? What could I have done to make things different? What could I have done to have prevented it? Why did this happen?

Unfortunately, there are no answers, which is hard to accept. But the truth is that we may never know the whys or understand the reasons behind any given event.

How does a person get past survivor’s guilt? It is not an easy journey. And it is a journey that takes much time. There is no time limit. But along with time, survivors need support and understanding from others. Comfort comes in many forms including open communication about the situation.

Here is a simple list of options in coping with survivor’s guilt:
1. Talk to someone about your feelings (the more you get the feelings out, you may see things from a different perspective or at least understand your own feelings)
2. Pray (if you feel like you can’t pray, just be still and listen for God’s comfort and guidance)
3. Acknowledge the hurt, but stop the continuous replay (replace that tape with words of encouragement to yourself)
4. Be aware of your physical health (sleep patterns, eating patterns, activity patterns)
5. Don’t give up ( this may be a long journey)
6. Know that God is with you (He promised He would never leave us)
7. Surround yourself with supportive friends or family
8. Don’t isolate yourself
9. Watch for signs of depression
10. Give yourself grace (you may never understand, but that is okay)

Psalm 73:26 (KJV)
My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

TeeKay

Note:
If you are interested in the psychological description of PTSD, here is information from the DSM IV:

In 2000, the American Psychiatric Association revised the PTSD diagnostic criteria in the fourth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR)(1). The diagnostic criteria (A-F) are specified below.

Diagnostic criteria for PTSD include a history of exposure to a traumatic event meeting two criteria and symptoms from each of three symptom clusters: intrusive recollections, avoidant/numbing symptoms, and hyper-arousal symptoms. A fifth criterion concerns duration of symptoms and a sixth assesses functioning.

Criterion A: stressor
The person has been exposed to a traumatic event in which both of the following have been present:

The person has experienced, witnessed, or been confronted with an event or events that involve actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of oneself or others.
The person’s response involved intense fear,helplessness, or horror. Note: in children, it may be expressed instead by disorganized or agitated behavior.
Criterion B: intrusive recollection
The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced in at least one of the following ways:

Recurrent and intrusive distressing recollections of the event, including images, thoughts, or perceptions. Note: in young children, repetitive play may occur in which themes or aspects of the trauma are expressed.

Recurrent distressing dreams of the event. Note: in children, there may be frightening dreams without recognizable content

Acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring (includes a sense of reliving the experience, illusions, hallucinations, and dissociative flashback episodes,including those that occur upon awakening or when intoxicated). Note: in children, trauma-specific reenactment may occur.
Intense psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event.

Physiologic reactivity upon exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event

Criterion C: avoidant/numbing
Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and numbing of general responsiveness (not present before the trauma), as indicated by at least three of the following:

Efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations associated with the trauma
Efforts to avoid activities, places, or people that arouse recollections of the trauma
Inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma
Markedly diminished interest or participation in significant activities
Feeling of detachment or estrangement from others
Restricted range of affect (e.g., unable to have loving feelings)
Sense of foreshortened future (e.g., does not expect to have a career, marriage, children, or a normal life span)
Criterion D: hyper-arousal
Persistent symptoms of increasing arousal (not present before the trauma), indicated by at least two of the following:

Difficulty falling or staying asleep
Irritability or outbursts of anger
Difficulty concentrating
Hyper-vigilance
Exaggerated startle response

Criterion E: duration
Duration of the disturbance (symptoms in B, C, and D) is more than one month.

Criterion F: functional significance
The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

Specify if:
Acute: if duration of symptoms is less than three months

Chronic: if duration of symptoms is three months or more

Specify if:
With or Without delay onset: Onset of symptoms at least six months after the stressor

References
American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (Revised 4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
United States Department of Veteran’s Affairs

It’s Your Choice!

Published December 7, 2012 by teekaysthimble

A Thimble’s Worth of Wisdom

It’s Your Choice!

Happiness is a choice. This is a truth that took me years to comprehend. It was a foreign concept to me that I could choose to be happy. Fortunately for me and my relationships, it is a mantra I truly believe now. It places a new meaning to the cliche “mind over matter”, but that is exactly what it takes to choose to be happy. Our minds in Christ. 

We are lured to believe that certain things or accomplishments will make us happy, or that happiness is a result of something, not a choice. But don’t we decide on our own actions? Did something or someone make us act a particular way? No, we decide how we will act in any given circumstance. Yuk! That makes us too responsible and accountable for our own behavior. 

Shawn Achor describes his view on this as a flawed formula.

“The formula is clear: 
Work harder, then you’ll be successful, then you’ll be happier.
We learned this formula from watching movies and TV commercials, which are heavily invested in having us believe a certain product or lifestyle will make us happy. The whole rags-to-riches American dream is based on the belief that once you finally “make it,” you’ll be content. But we’ve had ample evidence that those celebrities and millionaires aren’t so happy off-camera.
 
Why the Success-Then-Happiness Formula Doesn’t Work
 
Actually, there are two reasons. First, every time we hit a success, our brain moves the goalpost of where success is. Second, your brain actually works in the opposite order. The happier your brain, the more successful you feel (and start to act) — not the other way around. Thus our society’s fundamental formula for success and happiness is inherently flawed.”
(Shawn Achor is the founder of Good Think, Inc., and the author of The Happiness Advantage and research that was featured on the cover of the Harvard Business Review in January 2012.)

There are countless books and articles written about this theme of happiness being a choice. I think the reason this theory was so hard for me to understand is because I allowed my feelings to rule my head. I thought that happiness was a euphoric feeling of complete and utter bliss. Since that would be impossible to maintain, the end result would be unhappiness. Some of the confusion was probably because of my misunderstanding of happiness. 

What I have come to believe and experience is that happiness is an inner peace and contentment. It is a state of being, not a result. It allows me to maintain my inner joy despite any trouble or adversity. And the source of this is God’s unconditional love for me and His desire to give me His peace in the midst of the storm. This type of happiness is so far above the superficial and fleeting feelings of the adrenaline rush. I don’t have to wait for something to happen to make me happy. I can choose to be happy. Mind over emotions.

Philippians 4:8
King James Version (KJV)
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Blessings,
TeeKay

Don’t Wallow. Forgive!

Published December 6, 2012 by teekaysthimble

A Thimble’s Worth of Wisdom

Don’t wallow. Forgive!

Matthew 18
21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

The child in me sometimes says: I don’t like it. I don’t want it. I won’t do it. Then God says I must do it to have peace. God won’t make us forgive, but He admonishes us to. Forgiveness is sometimes like swallowing a bitter pill, so why do I have to? To do so is good for my soul.

We must forgive to free our spirits from the eroding power of holding on to the negative emotions. Not forgiving nurtures the bitterness, spite, and other nasty feelings that will weigh the spirit down. It is like a growing cancer within us, so it makes sense that God would want us to free ourselves from something that will eat away at our peace and joy. 

But I don’t like it! 
I don’t have to like it, but if I want to have peace, then it is necessary. I may not like the thought of forgiving someone who has hurt me, but forgiveness is for my own good. It is good for my soul. It also allows me to be forgiven.
 Matthew 6 
14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

I don’t want to!
Oh the consequences of an unforgiving spirit! I don’t like those consequences and I don’t want them. But, the reality is in the truth from God’s word. There are consequences, and those are most likely not what I desire.

Forgiveness is hard. It doesn’t erase the hurt done to us, but it does give us wisdom and the beginning of peace. My biggest misunderstanding about forgiveness was that it didn’t happen all at once. It was a process. These seem to be the steps I went through with God’s help.

1. Understand the need to forgive.
2. Start the process of thinking and praying about forgiving
3. Decide to forgive (this is a cognitive decision)
4. Keep realistic expectations about feelings

Let me just stop here and say that if you expect to suddenly feel great about the person you are forgiving, you might be disappointed. Feelings are like the tail of the dog. They lag behind after the head leads. So don’t expect your feelings to change the minute you decide to forgive. You may have to ” remind” your feelings seventy times seven about your cognitive decision. 

5. Acknowledge the reason you forgave
6. Learn from the experience and use that wisdom ( If you know that standing in the middle of the highway is dangerous, then don’t do it!)
7. Be realistic about how the other person may respond ( this is really about you, not them)
8. Give it to God
9. Don’t take it back from God.
10. Again, don’t take back what God is helping to accomplish through this experience.
11. Rejoice in God’s peace ( whether you feel like it or not). This isn’t about feelings as much as it is about doing the right thing and having peace because of it.

The old term that comes to mind is wallowing. That’s what we do when we choose not to forgive. Reminds me of a pig pen. Don’t wallow with the pigs because you will smell just like them. I think my mawmaw said that to me.

Blessings,
TeeKay

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