by Christian Miller
It is just after midnight on October 19, 2013. I am in the back of an ambulance, stretcher fully reclined. It is dark. There are no sirens. I can’t see anything. I am not dead. Actually, I am very alive. My mind is reeling from the events of the last nine hours. I am scared. I am lonely. I am singing songs of worship to keep from screaming. I am being transported to a mental facility over an hour from my home, my husband, and our three precious boys – one of whom is only almost three months old.
If this were a movie, this is the part that freezes, everything starts going backwards. The wind blows, books fly, flashes of memories go back to childhood and simpler times. Let me begin at the beginning.
I grew up in a happy home. Our family was functional and loving. Dad was a pastor in a tiny little town and my mom was (and still is) a beautiful, sweet pastor’s wife with a degree in elementary education. Somehow I felt off. I can’t remember a time growing up that I didn’t feel different, lonely. Yes, I had accepted Jesus as my Savior. I had a relationship with Him, but I was sick and I didn’t know it. My parents knew I struggled. Our home was filled with my mood swings and breakdowns. Behind the doors, no one could see my anger. My mind was filled with anxious thoughts. I felt like the world was against me. Friendships were a desire that seemed impossible to gain. Mom and Dad let me see a counselor a few times as a child, then as a teenager. But it was still there.
Behind the doors, no one could see my anger.
In 2003, a freshman in college, I finally went to a doctor for the way I was feeling. It was a time in my life when there were changes and my mom encouraged me to see someone. I was thankful for the prescription that the doctor wrote. Thus began my journey knowing I had depression.
Over the years, I dealt with it by taking medication. Sometimes I would feel fine and stop taking the prescriptions then I would relapse and have to start all over. A few relapses were worse than others. I married Carl in 2007. He loved me through the depression. God gifted him with extra patience and understanding that first year of marriage.
To make a long story short, I was already falling into a deep depression. My baby blues booked an extended stay and weren’t planning on leaving any time soon. It was scary and painful. I was hiding from my children, afraid of my thoughts becoming reality. I cried, they cried. I can’t imagine how I made them feel as the days at home dragged on. I made the choice to see a counselor on the University campus (I was also finishing my bachelors degree and doing an internship at our church).
My appointment was October 18th, 2013 at 2:15pm. They didn’t let me leave the office alone. After a discussion with the counselor, she called in another counselor. They had me call Carl to pick me up. He took me to the emergency room. I didn’t wait in a waiting room that day. I went right back to a room where a guard sat outside for the eight or so hours I was there. I had a psychiatric evaluation. I had a caseworker. It was all a blur, yet time was standing still. And I just wanted to see my boys and nurse my baby. It was decided that I would go into a mental facility so I could get better. The closest bed available was over an hour away, thus, the ride in the ambulance.
This was my rock bottom.
Thankfully, I admitted myself. However, I signed an affidavit that if I tried to sign myself out, they would put me in a 96-hour hold. So, basically I was there until they said I could go. The stories I have from inside that hospital are for another time. I was able to get out in five days. Despite being over an hour away, I had company during every two-hour visitation allotment. Carl came every day. My mama and daddy kept my boys and my sisters helped. I had phone calls from Carl’s family encouraging me. The staff in the hospital was so impressed by the support I had. When I came home, our church family made sure we had food on our table for almost a month.
I was given medication and scheduled an appointment with a counselor. I saw that counselor every other week for five months. I stayed on the medication. I got better.
who feel they are at their end. There are people, whether it is a church or other organization that will support those who need to know someone cares. I can’t stress enough how important it is to take that step and acknowledge a need for help.
The second reason I wanted to write this is because I want people to know there is hope. My story does not end with seeing a counselor every other week and taking medication daily. Early in 2014, a few months after my stay, I met with a friend and, as we watched our children play at McDonalds, I told her my story. She, in turn, told me how she too had struggled with depression, but God had healed her. Now, I knew God heals. God heals cancer. God makes the deaf hear. I had witnessed healings of others in my life. But did God heal mental illness?
Does God heal mental illness?
Read more from Christian's powerful testimony as she continues next Monday as our guest blogger.
Christian Fauth and her husband, Carl, celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary in June. They currently serve as worship pastors at Life 360 in Springfield, Missouri, where she also serves as the creative arts pastor. They have three "handsome, hilarious, and wonderful" boys. "I have shaped my ministry philosophy around growing up with mental illness in a pastor’s home and seeing the need for more vulnerability and honesty about what God can do, not in spite of but, through our struggles." When Christian finds free time, she likes to read design magazines and spend lots of time with family and friends. Her greatest passion? "My greatest passion is to see people connect with God and to know who they are in Christ."
There are many examples of bravery in the Bible. Esther. Moses. Ruth. Joseph. Rahab. Paul. The list goes on, and it's tempting for me (as one who likes her checklists) to look at each example and attempt to create a bravery profile; gather up all the goodness from each valiant story and implement those traits into my moments. But the stories of Scripture are not meant to be prescriptive. They do not primarily point the way to become a better, braver person.
These records of bold obedience are provided to show us to the real victor.
If we tried to analyze each brave soul and their actions, we'd drive ourselves crazy trying to find the correct action points. Almost every situation is set in a context we would never find ourselves. So, we must find the common denominator of the stories, keeping in mind the whole counsel of Scripture and its big-picture themes.
You and I have the benefit of viewing the deep and detailed landscape of Biblical history. With this hindsight, when we slow down and look carefully at the examples of obedient, brave men and women in Scripture, we see the calling of God into the unlikely. We can see this statement made—formed over centuries—through the lives He's used to bring His will about: God calls unlikely man to be used for extraordinary feats...read more
By Vicki Miller
Have you ever been told, "No"? It's not an easy word to hear, yet sometimes, it is the word we need to hear.
To be turned down caused me to bristle, my face flushed, and I wrestled with being rejected. Hanging up the phone, I ran the conversation through my head, reliving the words that stung my ears. The words spoken to me were kind, not harsh at all. I totally understood this person's reasoning and yet why was this bothering me so much? I think it was because I was told, "No". I felt I deserved a "yes" answer. After all, hadn't I done enough for her that she could do this one thing for me?
I felt convicted for putting her in the situation to need to tell me, "No". With the gentle nudging of the Holy Spirit, I resolved to let it go. Not easy to do, but necessary. In fact, to not do so would be in direct disobedience to the Father. I didn't want that wedge to exist even for a moment between her and me, let alone my Heavenly Father and me.
Sometimes it's good to be told, "No". As a mom of four daughters, there were times during their growing-up years when I had to deny them their requests. Not because I wanted to be mean, insensitive, or withhold from them good, but because I loved them and with my wisdom, I knew that "no" was the better word to use. They may not have liked it, not understood it, but their submissiveness yielded a better outcome than if I had said, "Yes".
Sometimes, God tells me, "No." I may not understand it, but as I accept His answer for me, I can rest assured that He has my best interest in mind. Perhaps, to keep me from making a huge mistake. Maybe it's to keep me from being a spoiled brat or simply to remind me that life isn't all about me. Or just because He loves me!
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)
I can make a mean spreadsheet. In fact, it’s one of my spiritual gifts. Not only does it look pretty with all sorts of colors and shading, but the formulas I insert into each cell are, well, let’s just say accountants envy me. I love to discuss finances and insert said finances into one of my beautiful spreadsheets. I’m the disciplined type and stick to a financial plan.
But, it hasn’t always been this way.
Because I’m a sucker for a new car. Gah, just thinking about the new car smell makes me want to toss every bit of information I’ve learned from Dave Ramsey and rush down to my nearest Acura dealership to get a brand-spankin’ new MDX. But I have not done that, the purchasing of a brand new car…since 2014, that is.
Budgets. They are not what you typically want to talk about. Many people think they are restrictive and don’t allow spontaneity. They feel like a burden and the removal of all things fun. But I would argue that budgets are not restrictive at all but instead bring freedom. Because what really restricts is living above your means which eventually equates to debt. And debt is nothing but bondage.
We can want to be financially free and think we are if we don’t have rules and regulations to guide us, but the truth is, we need guidelines to help us stay within healthy parameters. We must deny some things to get better things, and financial freedom takes sacrifice. We have been taught that there is no way around debt. We’ll always have a car payment or a house payment. We’ll never be able to afford this or do that. That’s simply untrue. With planning and sacrifice, financial freedom is possible. It just takes a lot of sacrifice and dying to self. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?
So, how do we budget ourselves so that we can be financially free?
The last thing we need as ministry leaders is...read more (scroll down to the Day 5 entry)
Cindy Beall is a writer, speaker and mentor to women. She oversees the Equipping arm on the Leading & Loving It team that ministers to pastor’s wives and women in ministry. Her first book, Healing Your Marriage When Trust Is Broken, released in 2011 and her second book, Rebuilding A Marriage Better Than New, release in 2016 with Harvest House Publishers.
But, those who have not been so fortunate, may still be seeking approval from authority figures even as adults, never quite feeling they measure up to others around them.
Words kill, words give life; they are either poison or fruit . . . you choose (Proverbs 18:21, MSG).
If we are honest, even the best parents can give a mixture of blessing and cursing, healing and hurt within moments. Florence Littauer, author of Silver Boxes, inspires us to weigh our words knowing the value of encouragement and the pain caused by criticism. She shares an illustration of how many building blocks it takes for a child to construct a castle, yet all it takes is one kick to knock them all down. I was challenged that even when giving so many compliments and words of support, all it took was one sharp word of correction and my children would experience pain. I am not saying we should not give instruction or discipline, but we can ask God to show us how to encourage positive behavior rather than focusing on the negative.
Watch the way you talk. Say only what helps, each word a gift (Ephesians 4:29, MSG).
...In the Old Testament, God tells Abraham that his offspring will be instruments of blessing to the whole world both in their deeds as well as with their words (see Genesis 12:3; 18:18; 22:16-18). From these early examples, the power of blessing began to develop, and we see it became a practice for generations. Their very names were often used as a form of blessing and prophetic promise based on the meaning of each name. This was evidenced by the names Zelophehad gave to his five daughters, declaring their individual gifts and abilities which he prophetically spoke over them (Numbers 27:1; Joshua 17:3-6). A patriarch’s final blessing was important in biblical times as a matter of inheritance rights. In addition, some final blessings included prophetic statements that revealed God’s supernatural power at work in and through those that received the blessing.
...The principle is clear: God has given parents and grandparents the privilege and authority to speak blessing over their children and, with that blessing, to advance life, health, growth, joy and self-confidence! We need to learn to incorporate this privilege as a dynamic aspect of raising our children and blessing them in every way we possibly can.
In the same way we are admonished to speak blessing over the next generation, we also feel that God is pronouncing His blessing over each one of us in a powerful and prophetic way, blessing our lives and our future. As a spiritual leader to the women placed under my care, I speak God’s blessing over your lives and His favor for you to be used mightily in these last days...read more
It’s Your AttitudePut on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him (Colossians 3:10, NLT).
It’s your attitude, so it’s your decision whether you want to keep it or not.
This was not good. I could feel the inside of me starting to boil and my face getting hot. And it wasn’t even a hot day! It was actually a very cold day in the middle of January, so it wasn’t the temperature that was causing me to overheat (and no, it wasn’t a hot flash, smarty-pants). I couldn’t blame it on a fever, because I was feeling fine physically.
No, the heat I was feeling was not related to my physical well-being; it was connected to my heart and soul. The embarrassing truth is that John had said something I didn’t agree with, and I’d made the decision to dwell on thoughts I shouldn’t have. Now I had an attitude of the wrong kind.
It wasn’t even caused by a big issue or a yelling fight (or should I say disagreement—I’ll admit we’ve had a few of those). In all honesty, I don’t even remember what I was frustrated about, and it was recent! But I do have a problem. It’s called prideful, selfish thinking. I like to be right and I like to win. So does John. Whoever said opposites attract was not at our wedding!
So on this day, just because I wanted John to agree with my opinion, I went from singing “Oh Happy Day” to wanting to throw a plate. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Maybe.
It all happened so quickly. In about five seconds flat, I allowed the thought of “I am right!” to transform into negative feelings and emotions, and I went from happy to angry. I made the decision to have a bad attitude, and the only thing that was going to change it was if and when John came to his senses and decided that I. Was. Right.
If you are human and breathing, you have probably experienced a plate-throwing mood. Maybe you are even in the middle of a bad-attitude day right now. It’s not too fun, is it? Thankfully there are ways to learn how to maintain a good attitude in life (besides persuading everyone to always give in to your opinion and do things your way).
Over the years, I have learned how to deal with my emotions and bad attitude more quickly and effectively than I did thirty years ago. So on that day in the middle of my confrontation with John, when my angry thoughts finally came up for air, I stopped and said a prayer. God, help me with these feelings.I know they are not of you and they are not what you desire for me. With his help, I made the decision to change my attitude right then and there. In an instant, as I humbled myself and purposefully changed my thinking, the burning and churning inside my soul began to subside. Now, don’t tell John I said this, but I still think I was right (even though I don’t remember what I was right about!). But that, my friend, is irrelevant. Instead of proving I was right, I chose to focus on adjusting my thinking and my attitude to line up with God’s will for me in that moment, and the overwhelming feelings of wanting John to see that I was right began to subside.
Years ago, when John and I were first married, God used a verse to help me in this “I want to always win and be right” struggle. This same verse came to my mind again that day. Many times these words have been the key to saving me from letting my attitude run wild and cause more damage to my day, my marriage, and my life.
Do nothing from fractional motives, [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another than you do of yourselves]. Let each of you esteem and look upon and be concerned for not [merely] his own interests, but also each for the interests of others (Phillipians 2:3–4, AMP-CE, emphasis mine).
And don’t miss this:
Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example of humility]
(verse 5, AMP-CE).
That verse convicts me every time. It hits me right where it hurts. That part about doing nothing out of fractional motives, selfishness, or unworthy ends (like wanting to win) makes me think God must have said, “Put that part in there just for Debbie. She’s going to need to read it pretty much once a week or more.” And my guess is that I am not alone on this one, that you have had your bad-attitude, stop-annoying-my-life moments too...read more
Debbie Lindell is co-pastor with her husband, John, at James River Church in Ozark, MO. She is passionate about life and serving God with all her heart! Her greatest desire is to use her life to lead all who are watching her closer to Jesus, and to inspire every girl to believe what God’s Word says about them and His amazing plan and purpose for their life. Debbie loves to write, to give gifts, eat chocolate, drink lattes and play with her grandkids…..and of course, to hang out with the Sisterhood! This blog post from Nov 3, 2016 was posted by Her Green Room, an online community for ministry wives and excerpted from She Believes: Embracing the Life You Were Created to Live, by Debbie Lindell. Published by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, (http://www.bakerpublishinggroup.com). ©2016. Used by permission.
Have you heard the old joke that ministry would be great if it weren’t for all the people? Be honest, have you ever thought this was true?
You don’t have to be in ministry for long to realize just how personal this life is. We work with people—sinful, fallen, imperfect people. We work with people who will sometimes hurt our feelings.
And we, in turn, will hurt theirs.
We live, work and play with the people in our churches. We pour into their lives, and they pour into ours. We are with them during their most vulnerable seasons, ones of birth, illness, victory and death.
People will hurt your feelings. When that happens, you have a choice. You can either take it personally and seek to inflict hurt in return, or you can choose to respond as God commands us in Ephesians. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).
Let's take a closer look at the three biblical responses found in Ephesians.
1. Be humble and gentle. Being humble means taking ourselves out of the spotlight. I love how the dictionary defines humility as “freedom from pride or arrogance.” Pride and arrogance only exist to enslave us to ourselves. Through pride and arrogance, we see all the ways we are overlooked and the ways our husbands or children have been hurt. Being humble is being free from self. In commanding us to approach others with humility and gentleness, God is freeing us to love them regardless of what they have done to us.
2. Be patient. We work with real people—people who are flawed and sinful but who are hopefully on their own journey to holiness. As we lead them, they will mess up; so will we. We need to be patient with one another, remembering that we are all tempted, that we all sin and that none of us will reach perfection until we see Jesus. We need to give ourselves patience and extend it to the people with whom we minister.
3. Bear with one another in love. Why did you feel called to ministry? I hope your answer includes a love for people and a desire to lead them to know and love Jesus. When ministry becomes difficult, we need to remind ourselves of why we began in the first place. We are commanded to “bear” with one another. The Lord knows it is going to be a struggle for us to love one another, but He will give us the grace to do so.
A few years ago, we transitioned from one ministry position to another. I had served in several areas in the church we were leaving, and I felt like God must be growing me for something similar (and if I am honest, bigger) in the new ministry. But those were not the plans God had for me. I felt overlooked and unwanted. No one seemed to see how I could contribute in our new ministry position, and I felt like I was wasting the abilities God had grown in me. My feelings were hurt, and there were times I took it out on those God had chosen to use in the areas I wanted (in my selfishness) to work.
As I looked back on that season of ministry, I saw God was taking away my plans and desires so He could give me His desires and grow me in new ways. Whatever hurt you are facing in your current ministry position, I want to encourage you that God is not going to waste this pain. He is going to grow you into a better servant and minister for the gospel, if you will yield to His teaching.
How we respond to those who hurt us matters. We are sharing the gospel through our actions by forgiving our offenders in humility and gentleness and by showing patience and love with those we serve. We don’t take things personally because we are super-Christians, but we do so through the enabling of the Holy Spirit because we desire to grow in godliness.
This blog post was written by Beth Holmes for Flourish - Ministry Wives on February 17, 2017. She is a minister's wife and mom living in Owensboro, Kentucky, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2014. After spending a year learning to be brave through cancer treatments, God is teaching her again how to celebrate in 2016. Join her journey at bethholmes.wordpress.comMore from this author.
1. How do you respond when you are hurt by someone in the church?
2. How is your response different if the hurt comes from someone outside the church, i.e. a family member, a friend?
3. What is your response when you are the one who causes the hurt?
4. What are some positive actions you can take when you are hurt?
For the first eight years of our ministry, I didn’t have a friend to my name. In those same years, I birthed and stayed home with three children, and I remember willing myself not to get sick because I didn’t know who I would call for help if I did. Community was something I created for other people, not something I enjoyed myself. At least, that’s how I felt.
When we prepared to plant out of that church, my husband gathered prospective core team members in our living room and asked, “When you dream of what church could be, what is it that you think of?” For me, the answer was simple, and I timidly spoke out loud what I’d held inside for so long.
“I don’t want to feel as if I’m standing outside of community, helping it happen but not enjoying it myself. I want our church to be the kind where I get to enjoy the inside. I want to have friends.”
What I didn’t yet realize is that community isn’t something that comes to us; it’s something that we go toward. We make choices that either invites community or hinders the very thing we long for. The reasons I’d struggled in friendship were many—my lack of initiation, the very specific parameters I’d placed around what type of friend I wanted and how they would relate to me, time constraints that I used as an excuse, but, primary among them, is that I chose not to take the risk of vulnerability with other women.
God gave me a do-over with church planting because the difficult nature of the work made it nearly impossible to hide behind carefully maintained facades or self-sufficiency. My spiritual, physical and emotional neediness pointed like arrows toward asking wise and faithful women for help. And so, I did.
Vulnerability is the spark for us to enjoy and help cultivate true community. Only through vulnerability can we fulfill...read more
When you think of emotional maturity what do you think of? Do you think of someone who doesn’t blink an eye at human critique, disappointments, relational hurt, strenuous schedules, or an unexpected bill? Some zen goddess whose inner thoughts are like a peaceful field with wildflowers blowing in the wind? Emotional maturity is not the ability to renounce certain emotions never to feel them again, but the wisdom to understand and manage your emotions appropriately. Controlling the outward reaction to our emotions is not enough. Sure, we want to avoid mishandling our emotions and negatively affecting someone that we are leading. Beyond this, emotional maturity is vital for the soul care of a leader. We can control our outward responses, while negative emotions take a serious toll on the health of our heart and mind causing burnout, discouragement, or much worse...read more
One of the best things we can do for our friendships, whether fledging or lifelong, is to become cheerleaders for other women.
Don't we all crave a cheerleader friend? Absolutely! We don't want cotton-candy flattery or even the niceties about our appearance or choice of couch pillows, nor do we want silent cheerleaders who think but don't speak words of encouragement. We want a friend of the super athletic cheerleader variety, who exerts enthusiasm and energy in exhorting us on, even as they do their own faith-thing at our side. These kind of friends are rare, and we can't guarantee we'll have a friend like that. But we certainly can be that kind of friend to others.
I tell you what: being a cheerleader for other women can be awkward. I know because I am the queen of awkwardness and, frankly, I don't care. I see too many women standing on the sidelines of life feeling like a failure when, in fact, they are walking by faith and adorning themselves with the glorious beauty of good works. They need to know that God's fingerprints are all over them! ...read more
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September 3, 2017