Be Inspired. Be Honest. Be You.

SMC Women's Ministry

Be inspired. Be honest. Be You.

Posts in Carin Thompson
Julie Gurley on depression, anxiety and God's grace through it all

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This week I met up with a true friend, Julie Gurley.  When I asked her about sharing her story for the blog this week she comes armed with a solid answer and texted me this quote:

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So she obliged and we talked over a chunky loaf of bread and some exceptional cheese. Ummmm yes please.

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Julie.  She keeps it real.  No pretenses, no facades.  She’s more concerned with how her honesty may help someone else than being intimidated by her own vulnerability.

She’s brave, gutsy, genuine, and so.very.tender.hearted – I mean like the only insurance adjustor ever to receive a thank you card from a client that was denied a claim!  And to top it off she has a way about her that puts my 3 month old baby blissfully to sleep – so I’m in love.

Julie shared her struggles and triumphs.   Her biggest struggles are related to mental health – mainly depression and anxiety.  We ended the conversation with one word; Jesus embodies it, we all need it, need to give it, and it is our lifeline – grace.

On her background   -  I grew up in small town North Carolina and went to a southern Baptist church because that’s just what you do.  Church was church, it was about doing, rather than a relationship.  I never saw people just reading their bible in the morning.

When I was seven, my cousin was getting baptized, and since we did just about everything together it was only natural that I did too.

After high school and college I got married, but then that ended with the heartbreak of divorce.

On divorce – Divorce does not feel good.  And it makes you feel like not going to church...partly because you know people think it’s wrong. My first time going back to church after the divorce, the pastor talked about how divorce is wrong.  So there can be a lot of shame around that. It’s been a long trip getting back to being here, being involved in a church community.

On struggles with mental health – My depression or anxiety will get better and then it comes back.  I’ve had postpartum depression also.  As a mom, if motherhood doesn’t feel like you think it’s supposed to, you think something’s wrong with you.  Having depression feels like you’re being ungrateful.  But it’s not necessarily that, or that simple.

On unexpected gifts – There’s all these ways that I’m reminded that God and I are in this together.  It’s like he’ll tap me on the shoulder and say “hey I’m still here with you”.  Like when my son is having a hard day at school and he comes home and plays and in and around our butterfly bush and is all up in laughter with these butterflies dancing around him… what’s more beautiful than that?  Or when I’m panicking and I get a call at just the right time from a friend who gives me a boost of encouragement. He’s unexpected and I just love that.  The things that don’t ‘feel’ like gifts are gifts too.

What has helped you with your struggles?       Friendships that I never expected.  I got to be a part of a group where women encourage each other and I was encouraged to have a relationship with God.  Being in the bible regularly is key, something will pop up, it’ll help me, and then I’ll see it again and again.  Praying! I’ve learned to pray through a panic attack.  You’re given what you need to get through it all but it doesn’t mean it’s easy, you are given the tools though.

On prayer – I’ve learned how to pray like never before.  Quiet is hard for me but prayer and quiet connects me to God. girl-reading-a-book-at-home-picjumbo-com

Talking down the walls - I just wished we talked more about feeling not-quite-right so you don’t feel like the only person on earth going through it.  Otherwise it feels shameful and alone. If we just said it, admitted we need some help here and there - it doesn’t feel quite so bad.  We need to pray about it, and talk about it with someone you’re comfortable with. It doesn’t have to be embarrassing.  Because shame -that will mess you up worse then the struggles themselves.

Nuggets from Julie:

We all just.really.need.grace.

God provides what we need.  He reminds me to do it His way instead of following my own plans.  Beauty comes as we learn to obey the little nudges God gives us.

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Thank you Julie for spending some time with us this week and being so open!

I see a lot of perseverance in Julie.  Her vulnerability is disarming.  She reminded me how God is with us through it all and inspires me to pray more.  I love her heart to help others with their journeys.

As I write out Julie’s story this passage comes to mind:

Never again will you be called "The Forsaken City" or "The Desolate Land." Your new name will be "The City of God's Delight" and "The Bride of God," for the LORD delights in you and will claim you as his bride.  Isaiah 62:4

Friends, God is delighted in us, and we are not alone, we are chosen, He sees us as beautiful, we are His.

Can anyone else out there relate to Julie’s struggles?  Doesn’t her openness and vulnerability inspire you to find someone you can trust to share your burdens with?

 

 

A Bold Faith

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Meet Rahab. She’s risky, she’s bold, she has a colourful past err… or maybe more accurately - a scandalous past– a harlot and perhaps an innkeeper. She’s full of FAITH and makes it into the hall of faith (Hebrews 11). She’s chosen. Rahab is one of Jesus’ ancestors, in the line of David, and one of the handful of women who is elaborated on in the Bible. I’m red with envy over this lady’s faith.

At one point, I bet you could have found her looking out her window that opened up to roads she’d never trodden on but always wondered about…where and what people they lead to, what else lies along the paths outside the city limits. Her home lies on the outermost part of the city, on the city wall. She’s an outsider because of vocation, because of location. She’d be the least likely to marry a prince, she’s the least likely to leave all she knows to obey a Holy God and be counted as righteous.

I suspect many travelers would visit her house full of accounts of other places, people, other gods. One particular account had compelled her, more than any other -- the testimony of the LORD: he dried up the Red Sea so the Israelites could escape Egypt, and gave them epic victories in battle. She was struck by what she heard about this God.

So in short, Rahab has a serendipitous meeting with two Israelite men coming to check out the land God promised to them. The spies pledged that her life would be spared if she would tie a scarlet thread through her window. She was coy and hid them and covered for them when questioned about their whereabouts.

When I was younger I decided that I needed to know God, like experience Him and be touched by Him personally. I couldn’t just follow a God that I had just been told about and my family had chosen. I needed to experience and know Him. Thankfully God did meet me and touch me with who He is in a personal way. I would be woken up in the wee hours of the morning and God compelled me to sing to Him, and read about Him in the Bible. He did a new thing in my heart and I was able to fully give Him decisions and let Him lead me with the little things and big things in my life.

But how about Rahab’s faith? She had only heard about this God: “For we have heard how the LORD…” (Joshua 2:10) and yet she deeply believed. Probably no one else she knew followed this God until she meet the two Israelites. But testimony of the LORD had gripped her soul in a way that captured her, shaped her decisions. Her actions showed her genuine faith and belief in this unknown, foreign God. Without seeing, or experiencing this foreign God first-hand, she was convinced. Rahab just knew this God was a powerful, mighty God and she was willing to step aside from everything she knew and had been taught and trust.

And then I can’t get away from the way Rahab responded to God. Her response sets her apart and shows her tender and willing heart towards the Lord. Rahab told the Israelite spies “for we have heard how the LORD”… “and “our hearts melted and no courage remained…for the LORD your God”. But only Rahab responded with genuine reverence towards the LORD and His people. Only Rahab confidently proclaimed who God is: “He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.” Rahab’s faith, responsiveness, and revelation of God makes her a women I respect and aspire to be like.

Rahab went from being an outsider but now included in blood line of our Savior, Jesus. She was a harlot, became a princess, a bride to Prince Salmon. Once her house was on the city wall, vulnerable and exploited, but then found herself protected from desolation and living “in the midst of Israel” Joshua 6:25.

God is a God of redemption. He is a God of the unlikelys, He is a God of the redeemed. Redemption – It’s written into our lives’ story, like a scarlet thread that you just can’t miss, we are a beautiful collection of unlikely, redeemed daughters of the King.

My response to Rahab is to ask the Lord for greater faith and to be quicker to give a testimony of who God is. Because like Rahab, there may just be an unlikely person needing to hear it.

What’s your redemption story?

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Presence

20150501_172033191_iOS I watched my parents as they made their way through the security line at RDU a few weeks ago. I’m that cheesy person who lingers on the other side of that security line and just waits there until my person or people are completely out of sight. I stand there holding onto that last sight I may catch. Because there’s just something about being with people you love. Presence can’t be replaced.

My mind and heart have been wandering to this topic lately – God’s presence with us. I’ve been finding myself doing some menial task or puttering and pruning in the garden (hello-first-spring-in-new-home-with-beauty-of an-overgrown-garden) and thinking about how close God is to us, with me. Am I really aware of God with me, despite not seeing Him, or feeling Him at times? Do I really believe God is with me all the time?

And I’ve been thinking about the Holy Spirit, He is beautiful, humble, fully God, and our companion. Jesus conveys this when he is hanging out with his guys for the last time before He faces His death. He tells them “ I will ask of the Father and He will give you another Helper that He may be with you forever.” (John 14:16). Helper here also means “one called alongside to help.” I can’t just read over this, I’m compelled to stop and let that set in. God’s Spirit is with us, to help us, always. Jesus continues to tell his friends that the world cannot receive this Spirit of Truth but they’ll know Him because He abides in you and will be in you. Not only is God with us, He is in us!

In this same conversation Jesus is having with His disciples He says “I am the vine, you are the branches”…”Abide in Me and I in you” (John 15:4,5). A vine and its branches – what a picture of being interconnected. It’s clear that God wants to be with us, that He gives us opportunity to be close with Him. I don’t have God’s presence with us even close to figured out but I want His presence with me. He is just so good. I don’t know what it looks like to live in His presence all the time but I will cling onto these verses that say the Holy Spirit is with us, among us and that we can abide in Jesus and He in us.

The other morning I stopped as I was making my bed and looked outside. The dew was still collecting on the leaves outside the window, there was light and life and it struck me… somehow in that very ordinary morning moment I couldn’t help but think of God’s presence there with me.

There’s this account in Genesis 28 of Jacob. He was travelling to another town where his uncle lived and night had fallen – it was time to stop and rest for the night. It simply says “He came to a certain place and spent the night there because the sun had set.” To me it just sounds like an ordinary place and it was time to stop and catch some zzzz’s for the night. But something happened in this place while He was sleeping. God revealed Himself and His plans to give Jacob land and descendants. God says to him “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised to you.” When Jacob woke up he said “Surely God was in this place and I did not know it.”

Again, this makes me stop and question. When I’m just doing my ordinary thing could God be there and I am just unaware of it? Is His presence with me, and His promises there as an anchor? I am challenged to abide in Jesus, to know the Holy Spirit as the one who has been sent alongside me, always. I am challenged to draw closer to Him and know His presence with me.

So I’m curious, What does God’s presence with you mean to you? Do you think of the Holy Spirit with you, in you all the time?

Carin

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