God’s Landscaping Business

This is a follow-up to my poem “The Swamp” that I posted a couple of days ago.

A good friend, Naggie, texted me yesterday morning.  When I received her text, my eyes just about popped out, and I had to call her to find out more about it.  She hadn’t read my poem, and she had heard this from God on Monday but didn’t send it until Thursday.   Here goes:

Oh Jo, I got a prophetic word for you … It is that God will “fill in the pit”, that you will never trip back in, slide back in, jump back in, stumble back in … But instead rejoice and be glad and jump on top of the filled in pit … Knowing that He IS the victory!  He is victorious!  He has conquered and you just get to dance on top of the pit that no longer exists as He has filled it in!!

 

Ever since I was a teenager I’ve been in and out of depression, up and down, back and forth.  Even in the good times I wonder when it’s coming back.  In the bad times it feels like I’ve always been there.  I have seen it in my mind’s eye as walking through a field of pits, never knowing when the next one is coming up, doing my best to stay away from the edge, but somehow unable to keep away as circumstances push me in.

And now God’s saying that…

Those pits are going to be filled in!

I’m not going to live in fear of depression anymore.  He’s changing the landscape.  He’s God, and He can do that.

Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.
Isaiah 40 verse 4

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

Isaiah 43 verse 19

Here’s a little bit of Handel’s Messiah, because great words deserve great music.

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The Swamp

Out of the swamp of self-pity

Feet on firm ground

Looking around

I see your blessings surround me

I see your hand of mercy

But it’s easy to slide back in

With one backward glance

Wallow in the mud again

Forget what you’ve told me

Savouring the pain

But you never heave a sigh

Never turn your back

Never label me ‘too hard’

This one just needs a little more love

A little more grace

She’ll come round.

Pain

The last couple of weeks have been difficult.  Tension with a family member has dragged up emotions and memories from the past that still have the power to wound me.  I am stung again by rejection, criticism and the feeling of never measuring up.  Once I start thinking this way, it becomes habitual, and almost anything can trigger off the negativity, even an article in the newspaper about someone’s ‘perfect mother.’ I am reminded of all the ways I fail, and start thinking I am pathetic, hopeless and just generally a blot on the landscape.  Why do I listen to that voice?  I don’t want to fight this battle over and over again.  I am in tears many times a day, remembering, and then turning to God for comfort and truth.  There are some things He has told me that I have to hold on to:

“My Father’s house has many rooms.”  John 14:2

I am loved and welcomed by my Heavenly Father, always accepted because of Jesus my Saviour.

“You are a daughter of the King.”  Romans 8:15

No longer dressed in rags, but in his robes.

“We must obey God, rather than men.”  Acts 5:29

My allegiance is to Him, not to others’ expectations.  This is particularly difficult when I love and respect a person, and they disapprove of my choices, even though I believe that I am obeying my Heavenly Father.  People-pleasing is only taking me down the well-worn path of rejection and despair.  God will not take me there.

I feel like I am a child again, confused and wanting desperately for someone to look after me.  I feel completely inadequate to be a parent to my children when I am still a child myself.  But somehow my children are beautiful, sensitive people, who are growing in faith and learning to care for others.

Banishing the black dog

Depression, I know you.  You’re a fog that seeps into my mind, obscuring the view, stealing my hope.  I think I’ve escaped you, but you want to return, an unwanted visitor who won’t take the hint and leave.  You tell me that there’s no future for me and that my life has no value.

Some days there’s a battle in my mind, when the thoughts come and attempt to destroy me.  I fight with words and songs and on my knees.  I cry out for deliverance, for my King to save me from my despair.  He speaks His truth to my spirit and restores my hope.  He dispels the fog, giving me a vision of the future so that I can persevere.

I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.  Philippians 1:6

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.  Jeremiah 29:11

Verses for Parenthood

I would like to say now that even though I am the mother of 5 children, and a stay-at-home mum, and a homeschooler, I do not consider myself to be an expert parent.  In fact, I can only point to the grace of God who sustains me, gives me wisdom when I ask Him, and who forgives my sins and heals both my wounds and the hurts I have inflicted on others.

Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up;

God is our salvation.

Psalm 68:19

Today I’d like to share some of the verses that have been signposts pointing me to a way of parenting that is more Christlike.  I have been transformed from a violent, angry and selfish parent to one who is patient and loving (though still not perfect).  This process has taken about 10 years.  My darkest time was about 7 years ago when my third child was a baby.  I wanted to change desperately, but it seemed impossible.   I wanted to kill myself, run away, anything to escape.  I thought that my family would be better off without me.  That was a lie.  Somehow God’s Holy Spirit got through to me that it would be better for my family if I was able to change and be a different person, than for me to die and leave them.   white_dove-wideHe gave me a thread of hope to hold on to, that better days would come.  And they have.

‘Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.’

Philippians 4 v. 5

The true Christian parent must be gentle.  This does not mean that the parent is weak or does not discipline their children.  However we can see the gentleness of Christ with children.  He valued them, He welcomed them and He was beloved by them.  They were drawn to Him because of the love that radiated from Him.  That is what I want to be like.

Human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

James 1 v. 20

This verse has reminded me many times that my human anger will not produce true righteousness in my children.  It may induce them to comply with my wishes, and behave as I want them to, but will not change their hearts.  My Heavenly Father has worked in my heart, taking away the anger and giving me peace.  I need to come to Him each day because it is easy to fall back into my old habits of becoming irritated and impatient, and using my anger to try to produce God’s fruit.  It won’t work!

She opens her mouth with wisdom,

and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

Proverbs 31 v. 26 (NRSV)

How can I teach others to be kind, if I am not kind myself?  The righteous mother teaches others to be kind and her words are wise.  They flow from a life that is full of wisdom and kindness.

For the Lord spoke thus to me while his hand was strong upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what it fears, or be in dread. But the Lord of hosts, him you shall regard as holy; let him be your fear, and let him be your dread….

See, I and the children whom the Lord has given me are signs and portents in Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion.

Isaiah 8 v. 11-13, 18

I call this my ‘homeschooling verse’ because God gave it to me about a year after we started homeschooling.  It is a reminder to me that I must not fear what anyone else fears, but only fear God and do His will.  He will make me and my children a sign to others.  They will see His presence with us as we obey Him.  There are so many things that we as parents worry about and fear, but Jesus tell us not to worry about the future.  Trust in Him for the days to come.  Seek the kingdom first!

Here is my last one to share, which the Holy Spirit pointed out to me only recently.

I know your works.  Look, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut.  I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.

Revelation 3 v. 8

God gave me this verse at a time when I was deeply discouraged about homeschooling.  I was afraid of what others were thinking about my children and about me.  I had a sleepless night, torturing myself with these thoughts.  Then in the morning, I asked Him for guidance, and turned to Revelation, the book I was reading then, not expecting anything encouraging, but that verse leapt out at me.  He was saying that He knows that I am weak (and I am), but I am faithful to Him and that is what matters.  This past year both my husband and I have been praying more, seeking God more, and putting Him first.  He is in control, and no one can shut a door that He opens.  🙂