Who Are The Outcasts?

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What does Jesus think about the outcasts

In our small group at church we have been reading through the book of Luke. When we got to this chapter and this particular discussion, my heart started racing with all the implications. So, of course, I come here to wrestle it all out with words.

Read this story from the time of Jesus ministry here on earth with fresh eyes today, friends!

“And it happened when He was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, ‘Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.’ Then He put our His hand and touched him saying, ‘I am willing; be cleansed. Immediately the leprosy left him.” Luke 5:12-14

What do you know about leprosy? You may not know all of the medical jargon or characteristics, but I am willing to bet that regardless of your knowledge you know that lepers became outcasts. In my quick google search, it appears that there were even a few leper colonies left after the year 2,000.

Are lepers the only outcasts in our society today? I can think of many others that are treated as outcasts in our societies still today.

Homeless

Poor

Disabled

Mentally Ill

Anyone with different sexual preferences

Anyone with different religious beliefs

AIDS patients

Convicted felons

Anyone that has ever been in jail

Sex Offenders

 

Think about your own life. Are there outcasts in your community? In walmart? In church? Gasp! I can tell you, without a doubt, there are outcasts everywhere you go today. As you go about your day today, look around you with fresh eyes…who has the world forgotten? Who can you notice and give a smile to?

So, hear me out. Am I saying that we open our children up to folks who have certain sins in their past? No. I think, though, that often we are so worried or fearful for our own self preservation that we avoid LOVE at all costs.

What Does Jesus Think Of Outcasts?

What did Jesus do for the outcast, the lepers, of His time?

He touched them.

That is so powerful to me, friends. Our church has a ministry for families affected by disability. I love seeing these children and adults loved on. They are being TOUCHED by human hands and with the love of Jesus. Can we not do this for the others on this list as well? There are outcasts everywhere. Notice them. Smile. Speak to them. Offer them hope. Be Jesus to them. Make a difference to even one.

I know there are those that feel it’s too hard and too much work to be friends with someone who struggles with depression, or heaven forbid, bipolar or someone with a past.  You know what? So what if we are high maintenance, aren’t we the very ones that Jesus came for? Jesus came for the sick, not the healthy. (Mark 2:17.) And friends, if we are deep-down-gut-honest with ourselves, that is all of us. 

The point of this post is not to make anyone feel bad. We have all be there. We have all messed up relationships where we could have been Jesus to someone. I have missed countless opportunities in my own life. I am guilty as well.

But, His mercies are new every morning.

Who can you go out and touch today?

If you would like some practical ideas for helping the refugees in Syria and Iraq, I have a post here full of ideas to go along with the #IAmYourVoice campaign happening now! You CAN do something to help! 

 

I Am Your Voice ~ Support Christians in Iraq & Syria

{This post may contain affiliate links of items that I personally have used and loved. Thank you for your support of this blog and our family by purchasing through our links.}

Isaiah 61 tells us why Jesus came. As believers we are to follow Him…let us follow Him as He  “comforts all who mourn, consoles those who mourn in Zion, gives them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness…” Isaiah 61:3. Will you join me?

I Am Your Voice campaign picture

I am thrilled to be taking part in this collective effort to raise awareness,  PRAYER and funds for the persecuted in the Middle East at this time. I’m sure you’ve been watching the news, like me, and are shocked, heartbroken and feeling helpless. Well, in this post I’m going to share several ways that you CAN help!

I am partnering with Food for the Hungry, and you can too! Join the I Am Your Voice campaign!

Food for the Hungry has created this campaign.  The I Am Your Voice campaign is sending out a call of help for those who cannot ask for it. This campaign is focused specifically on helping refugees fleeing the fighting in Iraq and Syria. FH is partnering with Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development (LSESD) which works with the local church in the Middle East to help those fleeing the ISIS onslaught to find safety and shelter.

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How To Help Refugees In The Middle East

1. Pray! Sign up on this page to receive prayer updates.

2. Share images and social media statuses to raise awareness! Scroll down here for images you are free to use! Let’s flood our social media platforms with prayer and support! Use the hashtag #iamyourvoice

3. Give. Aid is being given to the refugees as they flood the country. You can go to this page, on the righthand corner is a red button where you can give financially to this campaign.

4. If you’re a blogger you can just us as well! Go here to sign up and you will receive an email with more details!

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Social Media Statuses To Use

We will cry out for the children who fear they will be the next victim. #IAmYourVoice

We will call out for the women who fear enslavement by this enemy. #IAmYourVoice

We will speak for the men who cannot protect their wives and children.  #IAmYourVoice

We hear your silent screams. #IAmYourVoice

We will pray. #IAmYourVoice

We will send help to you. #IAmYourVoice

We will carry your testimonies here so people know what is happening to you.  #IAmYourVoice

We will not allow America, or the rest of the world, to ignore you.  #IAmYourVoice

Alone, we are nothing, but through the blood of Jesus we are family and we will speak for you.  #IAmYourVoice

Iraqi/Syrian Christians are under intense persecution.  Be their voice!  #IAmYourVoice

Want to know how to help persecuted Christians? www.Iamyourvoice.org #IAmYourVoice

 

Christians, our brothers and sisters are fleeing for their lives in Iraq and Syria. They have been made voiceless in their distress. But now we will be their voice. We will speak for the refugees fleeing the violence. We need your support to love our persecuted brothers and sisters. Please visit Iamyourvoice.org to find out how you can help.

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Depression: My Story

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My Depression Story

“When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.’ Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.’ The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.” Exodus 20:18-20

…Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.

Let that sink in for a moment. Moses went into the darkness, WHERE GOD ALREADY WAS.

That has been the story of my journey with depression. God has met me in each and every dark moment. God has shown me glimpses of Himself in ways I never would have seen had I not entered seasons of darkness myself.

Friends, if there is nothing else you get out of this post today, hear this: God is in the darkness right there with you. You are not abandoned. You are not forsaken. He is right there with you.

Eight years ago I had a 3 year old, 2 year old and an infant. Life was crazy and I was overwhelmed. I have mentioned before that I thought marriage and motherhood would be one big fairy tale dream come true. Why I never imagined how hard it would be is beyond me. But, slowly, day after day, I started sinking into a hole that I just could not pull myself out of.

I was sleep deprived, which turned into irritable, which turned into immense feelings of guilt that I wasn’t a more loving mother to my kids. The guilt was so overwhelming that instead of spurring me on to be a better mom, I fell into a deeper pit. Literally, moment after moment I felt like I was failing my kids and that I was failing them for a lifetime, not just this time period.

…in the thick darkness where God was. 

I’m honestly not sure if this started as postpartum depression or not, as I really didn’t start feeling my worst til Caleb was almost 1 year old. But, it could have started as that and just spiraled and continued going downhill.

Months and months go by with no improvement. I’m becoming more and more withdrawn. My husband came home a time or two and found me in the bathroom crying. I hate to even admit to you how little I played with or interacted with my children during this time period. And that was just another source of guilt. I got to that place where getting out of bed didn’t even feel possible at times. I would force myself to get lunch or food for the kids and that’s about it.

During this time, I could not say the word “depression” out loud. Honestly, I didn’t even THINK that word until about a year into this ordeal. I didn’t know WHAT was wrong, truthfully.

…in the thick darkness where God was.

Finally, I admitted that something was very, very wrong. Admitting that you are struggling with a mental illness is a very, very difficult ~ yet vital ~ step in the process. I didn’t know to move forward with any type of treatment until I knew that I had a problem. Once I began admitting that there was something wrong, we were able to move forward with a few different things that ended up helping.

First of all, depression effects the entire family. Our marriage was strained. To say the least. David and I began counseling at a wonderful Christian counseling office in our town. Thankfully, I have a friend that works there so I was able to feel really good about this option and not have to look around a bunch to find someone. The counseling that we received was WONDERFUL for us. We were communicating again. We were looking at both of our family histories and seeing patterns and finding things that we NEEDED to change to help our marriage not only survive, but thrive.

Secondly, our marriage counselor recommended a local psychiatrist that I began seeing regularly. She was also wonderful. She knew that life with 3 little ones could be overwhelming and she affirmed me each week in our visits. She also started me on Lexapro as an anti-depressant.

Between counseling and medication, my life took a turn for the better. Now hear me, it took a few months. MONTHS. There were still many hard days. And one hard day felt like a million years. But, even just having my husband AWARE of my struggles was HUGE. It was also very grueling waiting to know if the meds would kick in.

…in the thick darkness where God was. 

For me, medication pulled me out of the pit that I just could not get myself out of. I stayed on Lexapro for 2 years, I believe. Lexapro gave me back my life. It helped me smile again. But, it did come with its drawbacks. I gained a lot of weight. And I’ve never been able to lose all of it.

After a few years on this medication, our insurance changed and all of a sudden we were looking at paying over $300 a MONTH for Lexapro. So, I weaned off of it. This was also very grueling because I wondered if I was going to crash and burn again. At this time, my psychiatrist and I decided I wasn’t strong enough to try and live without the meds all together, so we began experimenting with other meds to find something else that would work.

This, my friends, was one of the most frustrating parts of my story. I would try a new med, wait 6 weeks up to TWO MONTHS to see if it worked, if not, I would start that cycle over again and try something new. But it took SO LONG for things to kick in for us to even know if they worked or not. This was another very hard season in my life. I tried several meds before finding something else that worked.

Eventually, we tried Effexor and it seemed to be a miracle drug for me. I was smiling again. I was talking to my children. I was feeling more and more normal with each passing day. {Not that normal is what I attain for, but at this time in my life I needed a sense of normalcy for my children.} I stayed on Effexor for several year as well. Again, the Lord granted me relief from the plague of depression for quite some time with the blessing of this medication. I consider it a gift to my family as well as to my own self.

In October of 2013 I just sensed the Lord saying it was time to try going without meds. I was willing and open to go back on them if need be, but I wanted to try it. 6-7 years of the ups and downs of meds was hard. I’m so, so thankful for what the meds did – they brought me out of the dark hole that depression left me in. But I always hoped that someday I would be able to live without them.

…in the thick darkness where God was. 

Going off of Effexor was another of the hardest times in my life. I wrote a lengthy post about how if affected my body physically during the weaning process. There are 40 comments there from many others who have suffered the withdrawal effects of Effexor also. Before you get on this med, I encourage you to read.

Fortunately, a few months after going off of Effexor, the Lord worked a miracle in my life. Since late in 2013 I have been completely OFF meds and DOING WELL. I do consider that to be a miracle. After years of suffering, the Lord did a work in my life that has allowed me to stay off meds for this long. I know that someday He may take me through the valley again, but for now, I’m grateful.

I have done a few natural things to combat any depression that may come back, and for now I am doing well! Praise God!

What I want you to know the most about my struggle with depression? God was in the thick of the darkness with me. I am thankful for the darkest days of my life. The Lord drew me to Himself in ways I would never have known had I not lived in the dark times. He drew me to Himself through His word in helping me learn to pray the Psalms. I never knew how desperate I was for Jesus until I was living this desperate season of life. I don’t ever want to go back to not being desperate for Jesus. 

I walked through the valley of the shadow of death and He was with me.

In the thick darkness, God was there.

**If you would like to join a private community for encouragement, please read more here. To read all of my posts on depression, go to this page

Home: My Favorite Spots

{This post may contain affiliate links of items that I personally have used and loved. Thank you for your support of this blog and our family by purchasing through our links.}

I’ve shared a few of these pictures on Instagram, but I thought it was time for a blog post!! I have on my heart to share a post about living in a biggie-size world, content in a small home…but that post hasn’t made it from my heart to the blog yet. So, for today, you just get these pictures. :)

My Gallery Walls

This first one is in our play/family room. This is all kid art! LOVE!

Our Gallery Walls

This next one is in my living room where I try to incorporate a little bit of mustard yellow. One of my favorite colors right now. :)

Our Gallery Walls

My Yellow Chair

See, I told you I liked this color! I used milk paint on this chair and told you all about the process here!

Milk Paint Chair

Milk Paint Dresser

This was the first project I ever used milk paint on it. I still love it as much as I did when I finished it!! This was my husband’s great grandmother’s. I know some of you are gasping that I painted over that beautiful oak. I apologize in advance if it’s not your style! You can read more about this project here.

Milk Paint Dresser

My Plate Wall

Another FAVORITE wall in my {small} home!

My Plate Wall

Farmhouse Table {my husband built!}

And how can I mention my favorite spots in my home without this GORGEOUS table that my husband built me for Christmas last year!?!? And NO, he is NOT a carpenter!!! Read more about the plans he used here!

DIY-Farmhouse-Table-@mercyisnew.com_

There you have it. A quick tour of my FAVORITE spots in my home!

I’m linking up with Kelly’s Korner blog today

 


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