Why Are You Downcast, Oh My Soul?

There are times winter sets up camp in my heart and it seems as if I am in Narnia, where Christmas never comes. The bleak dark clouds of relentless sadness seem to wash over my mind as I battle with sin. The coldness of my heart toward the goodness of God makes my soul ache as I cry out to the Lord, to warm it once again at the fires of His Word.

I find these times of coldness to be extremely difficult and I seem to daily battle with myself. I know the truth, that God loves me, cares for me and desires to have me near Him, but my angry, selfish, sinful heart wants to push Him away.

Psalm 42:11 “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.”

How does one find their way out of the darkness of a downcast soul? We have to preach truth to ourselves through God’s Word! Personally, it is a struggle to open the pages of God’s Word when I have allowed the sin of despondency into my mind. The moment I open the pages of God’s Word I am washed over by truth of it and that, my friend, is when I see the ugliness of my heart.

Psalm 42 opens with, As a deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;

I am reminded to BEG God to help me to turn to Him and desire Him when my soul wants to turn inward into myself. I need to literally turn my mind toward Christ and the truths of His Word. For example, Colossians 3:2-3 tells me to “set my mind on the things above, not on things that are on the earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” A commentary I read said the word set can also be, to think or to have inner disposition, this disposition should point us toward he things of heaven. These verses should cause one to ask, What is taking my thoughts of Christ and dethroning Him in my mind? What situation is now greater than Christ? Why am I unable to see Christ through the haze of my circumstance?

I am thankful that the Psalmist in 42 was honest and poured out his heart. There is sometimes a perception that we as believers can’t be sad or struggling, but God’s Word gives us glimpses of others who have had moments when their souls were struggling. The Psalmist in 42 gives us the answer we so desperately need in verse 11. Our hope is in God!

How do we hope in God when we are personally struggling? I don’t know about you but I ask the Lord for it. God’s Word tells us, we have not because we ask not, and believe me, God gives hope abundantly to those whom ask Him for it.

I flipped back from chapter 42 to chapter 40 and read this, ” I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of destruction , out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear And will trust in the Lord.” I need to remember what God has ALREADY done for me! What has He done? First, He saved me from my sin and made me righteous because of Christ. He brought me out of the pit of sin and miry clay that had entangled me. He took my unstable self and placed it upon a firm rock! He put a NEW song in my mouth, a song of praise to Him, when before that my mouth was full of self and cursing. The first step for me to get out of despondency is to remember what God has already done for me.

The second thing I do to be renewed and is begin to be refreshed by His Word. I run to the book of Psalm and bath my mind in the truths there. Psalms reminds me to to praise the Lord, share my heart with my God and then to keep praising Him. They help me to remember how to praise Him when my soul is struggling. There are times where I just open Psalms and read it out loud because while I want to praise God, my soul struggles to come up with the truth. If I read the Bible out loud I am proclaiming truth about Him and praising Him and it brings healing to my bones.

Psalm 40:11 days ” You, O Lord, will not withhold Your compassion from me; Your loving kindness and your truth will continually preserve me.” Isn’t it wonderful to know that God preserves us and shows compassion on us when we struggle? I am so grateful to know He keeps and preserves me.

Friend, trust in the Lord when you are downcast and ask Him to lift your head! Preach truth to yourself and remember, His steadfast love is better than life, (Ps. 63:3) forget none of His benefits, forgiveness of sin, healing of disease, REDEEMED your life from the pit and crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion. (Ps 103) He Daily bears your burden (Ps. 69) He is your portion (Ps. 73) He is ready to forgive those who call on Him (Ps. 86) I could go on and on of the truth in His Word about what He has done and is doing for me and you!

Why at are you downcast, O my soul? HOPE IN GOD!

Be encouraged today!

Brandy

Resources for you if you are struggling with depression and despondency.

Biblical counselors near you

Booklet on Depression

This was written on an app so forgive typos and incomplete sentences. It’s hard to edit things on a car ride on an iPhone!

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A Mom’s Daily Battle

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Lamentations 3:22-23  “The Lord’s lovingkindness indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

The morning has broken, the alarm has sounded and your feet are swinging to hit the cold floor. It’s the moment where you begin choosing the way your attitude for the day is going to go. We can begin one of two ways, with a heart thankful for the new day to serve the Lord or a heart drudging the day with an unwilling heart. I imagine you stumble to the kitchen and you switch on coffee pot, the kids come bleary eyed out of their rooms, and the bickering begins. (I’m not even kidding! I am in my kitchen right now and this is seriously happening!) One sticks out their tongue, the offended yell, “MOOOOM! She is sticking out her tongue.” I ignore the offended, who then chooses to retaliate, not with words but with a sneaky elbow punch.

***Freeze frame it in your mind now*** ( Excuse me while I switch to a first person account, because I am battling this out right now!)

I get to decide how I am going to respond on this one.

“God, help me!” I cry inside.  I had a fruitful, beautiful time in your Word and now these kids are putting me in jeopardy of sinning, or are they?

So, the quick answer is, No. They are not causing me to sin in my possible response. I get that responsibility. Seriously, it is on my heart to respond with an answer that is God honoring and pointing them to the Lord in how they should treat one another. This time I was able to not lose my temper, it’s early in the day and I am still meditating on my quiet time. My desire is that they day will continue in this pattern but I can assure you that it will digress at some point. I am stuck in this sinful flesh that I battle until my weary head hits the pillow at night. It’s then this sinner gets to rest and turn off her mind and tongue until the next morning.

We have a gracious God, who is acquainted with all our needs, our thoughts, and our weaknesses! What hope we have as we walk through this thing called, Motherhood, with Him as our strong tower. He is the one who can filter our thoughts and words for us as we try to saturate ourselves with His life giving Word. The Word is the guide for us in how we should live and move and have our being! Oh, that we would run to it in time of need or that He would bring to our minds what we need when we are at a crossroads of a response to others.

Proverbs 16:24  “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

Lord, I am in need of your guidance on how I should respond to my family today. I am so easily frustrated and I turn to my flesh before I turn to you. Help me to be more like you in how I speak. I give vent to words that should not be said. Forgive me, and help me to point my children to you. Help me to show them, by example how to treat one another and speak words that are full of Your Word.

Delighting in the Word: Psalm 1

Read Psalm 1

Psalm 1:2

“But His delight is in the law of the LORD,  And in His law he mediates day and night.”

Psalm 1 is one of my favorites. When I read chapter 1, I am always immediately hit with the word DELIGHT. Delight is a word that speaks of a  high degree of pleasure towards something. Can you say you are delighted to read the Word of God?

There was a time in my life when I did not delight in God’s Word. In all honesty, there was a time when I would rarely read it,  and so it meant nothing to me. I would go about my life claiming Christ but never really knowing Him or desiring to learn more of Him. Once I bent my knee to the Lord, I went to a Ladies Salad Supper and the speaker spoke on how much she loved God’s Word. She held up her Bible and kissed it and said, “I love God’s Word!” I DRANK it in! My soul broke and cried, “I want to love your Word too!” From that time on I began to hunger after God’s Word and was learning to delight in the gift of God’s Word to me.

How do you meditate on God’s Word? First, you need to pray and ask the Lord to help you. (Matt. 7:8-9) Second, you need to read it! Read it slowly and carefully. Read it again. Read it out loud. Read it with a pen in hand. Memorize from the text you are reading. Study it with a good commentary so you can meditate with a correct understanding.

You will find yourself thinking about what you read throughout your day. It will become a balm to your heart and mind and soul. Once you start reading the Word of God and begin to delight in it, you will never be the same again. So dive in daily and drink deeply from the well spring of life.

Father, thank you for your Word. Forgive me for not loving it and cherishing it like I do other things. I get so tempted and drawn away by the cares of the world sometimes….. I don’t want to do this, but I do. Help me to love you, give me the pure love that comes from a broken and contrite heart. You deserve more love than I could possibly give.

 

Recommended Reading:

John MacArthur Commentary

Treasury of David, By Charles Spurgeon

90 day Psalm Reading Plan

 

 

 

Don’t Give Up!

     

The weather outside has become wintery and the skies have turned a winter gray, but it is a great time to buckle down and enjoy the homeschool journey.  It’s this time of the year that the homeschool BLAH’s can set in and cause us to become a little down in the mouth. I believe the shorter days and darkened skies can make the days seem dreary and move as slow as a child doing their chores! How do you keep yourself from losing your proverbial mind? How can you make it through the winter doldrums?

Get Alone With God, DAILY!

This is an absolute must for you. Get up and get motivated to sit and read His word for a few minutes each morning and PRAY that He will be glorified in your homeschool and life. Perhaps start reading in Psalms, and move your way through that book as winter progresses. There are 150 Psalms and winter will be over before you’re done! I created a reading plan for this and you can download it from here

90 day Psalm reading plan

Psalm 119:15-17

15  I will meditate on Your precepts
And regard Your ways.
16  I shall delight in Your statutes;
I shall not forget Your word.

Recently, I have had to re-adjust my personal time. I was getting lazy and short sighted in it and had to remind myself of the valuable spiritual discipline of personal quiet time. Life gets in the way and before you know it you have set aside the most important thing in your day for the dross of life. Ask the Lord to help you be faithful in this endeavor to know Him and commune with Him.

Pick a Family Project:

                Your kids are probably going as crazy as you are and getting them involved in something more than screen time can be valuable to their brains! (and your sanity!)

Last year our family decided to do a backcountry hiking trip.  If you’re not familiar with backcountry hiking and camping, it’s where you pack all your needed gear in to a LARGE backpack and carry it into the wilderness where you will stay 2-3 days.  We had to plan and prepare for this ALL winter long. There were gear lists and clearance shopping trips, practice hikes, learning about bears and snakes in the area we were going and more! We had a full winter prepping for our trip. The CRAZY thing about this is that last week one of my kids said, “I can’t wait for winter hiking. It’s my favorite time to hike.” **Insert an incredulous face of a mom here.**

Your family project should reflect you and your family. It can be anything. How many puzzles can your family finish over winter? You can take outdoor adventures in national or metro parks in your area. Make foods from different lands and read about that place or watch a library video about it. Learn to paint or sketch as a family. There are so many wonderful things you can do as a family from free to expensive. Your choice!

If you want to read about our outdoor adventures feel free to check out the blog:

Our Adventure Blog

Set A Schedule:

            Winter can make you lazy. The dreary, dark skies may cause you to get out of routine. Make a loose schedule of your day and try to stay with it. I mean LOOSE! No mom can plan around sick kids, nursing babies, and free-lance messes made by toddlers, or teenage drama, so just make a general plan for the day.

Plan a “free” day every week. It can be a day to laze around the fireplace, do an activity or go out to dinner. It gives you something to look forward to and the kids will know there is a day where you are relaxing or working on that family project. Fridays have been our “free” day for years and we use to enjoy the life that God has so graciously given to us.

Homeschooling can be challenging but you can have a successful winter semester. Embrace the cold!! Sing praises to the Lord for a time where you can slow down a bit and work on school. Grab that cup of coffee or tea and sit in the living room and enjoy the crazy. While the weather outside is frightful, winter homeschooling doesn’t need to be!

In His Grip,

Brandy

Open My Eyes:

Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. Psalm 119:18

“When we come to hear or read the word of God, let us pray, ‘Lord, open my eyes! Persuade my soul! Bow the neck of my soul, the inner man of iron. Take away my hard heart, and teach me.” ~Richard Sibbes

Have you ever just sat at your devotion time and just stared at the Bible? You know you want to read it but are not sure where to start. There is the nagging discomfort that even if you do read it you won’t understand it. I have personally had times where I would be frustrated before I even started.  How was I to grow in Christ and in His knowledge if I did not read His Word?

When I read the quote by Richard Sibbes, I was encouraged. I was reminded that in the times I do not understand the Word I should pray, “Lord, open my eyes! Take away my hard heart.” It was a simple and gentle reminder to pray to the One who wrote the Bible by inspired men so that through the Holy Spirit my eyes, heart and mind can be enlightened. (Eph 4) Why do we doubt that He can give us understanding? May He take our hard hearts and give us knowledge!

Today, should you be hesitating to read the Word because of lack of understanding or passion, bend to your knees in prayer that He would encourage your heart to read it.  Then let Him do the work in your heart and mind  to understand it and you do the work of obedience by reading the Bible. (John 14:26)

Proverbs 1:10-11 “For wisdom will enter your heart And knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; Discretion will guard you, understanding will watch over you.

 

To the younger woman reading this, if you have small children or a lot of children, something is better than nothing (5 minutes)! You may think you don’t have time. Little kids that are up at night and knocking at the door from sun down to sun rise. You run here and there. How is this even possible in my busy woman/wife/mom world? Start small and do not be discouraged!