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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

SOUL DIET

I haven't written much for while. I've written, but nothing that I wanted others to read.

Many of you know that my family has been in crisis mode for several years now. Most of my thoughts have centered on survival; very few thoughts have been on making my life worth living.

Almost as a tradition, on January 1st., people make New Year's Resolutions, where they make a plan of something to accomplish in the coming year. Normally it's something like stop smoking or drinking, lose or gain weight, get married or get divorced - basically a major life change, but we seldom actually do it. Those who make and keep a resolution, sometimes go for a long period into the year before they see an actual result. So it has been with me.

I decided that 2015 HAD to be better than the previous few years. I knew it could be much worse, but I wanted it to be better. I consciously started a new diet.

I am overweight, but this diet has nothing to do with food. I 'feed' on people, on ideas, and on affirmations. I gorge on books and movies that teach me something; that lift me. I surround myself only with people who see hope - I've had way too much of people filled with despair. I am impacted by music, and I spend hours in the center of music. Sometimes it's just happy music, sometimes it's lyrical music with words that speak to my soul, sometimes it's just the joy of old masters - like Bach played on box guitar by Andres Segovia, but it's also fiddle music played by a friend from the mountains.

Often my diet has been in the scriptures, but directed by great men and women of God who seem to know how to live. I have purposely looked for the less-than-perfect teachers and preachers. I look for those who have been hurt by life and people, and who have both acknowledged that they have feet of clay, and who have sought to make positive changes in their lives.

In that searching, I have read books such as by Anne Graham Lotz (Wounded by God's People), T.D.Jakes (Help Me, I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up), Christine Caine (Undaunted), Paul Viera (Jesus Has Left The Building), and currently, Brian Houston (Live, Love, Lead) - the one that has lead me to write today.

In this book, Live, Love, Lead, Pastor Houston, has addressed an evil that has manifested itself in my families life. I heard him talking about the book on The TODAY show with Hoda and Cathy Lee, and he discussed the chapter called, "The Worst Day of My Life". It was the same day as the worst day of my own life, and I ordered the book before the show was even over.

There are events in our lives that are so horrible and so devastating that we just don't realize that any other human could have walked this path. I have searched for others, and found some, but they don't seem to feel the same heartbreak that I have felt. Most of them have rationalized the situation or just denied the severity of the issue. I haven't. From the day I heard, I was crushed in so many ways.

I am a realist, and have had to learn to face life as it really is. I don't do fairy tales in how I see and perceive things. When my daughter died, I had to go to the junk yard and look at the car. I had to read every medical report. I had to face every detail to be able to understand. I have looked at things that happened in my childhood and had to ask people very uncomfortable questions to come to my own peace.

In his book, Pastor Houston addressed this evil head on - along with all the far reaching effects, acknowledging "a nightmare that would ultimately continue to unfold over all the ensuing years of my life." Boy, do I understand! BUT - after acknowledging all the pain and sorrow involved, he went on to offer all the scriptures and life events that gave he and his family hope - that brought shame into the light of love and understanding.

He talked about his own journey of healing, and how he, a well known and respected minister of the Gospel could fall into depression and brokenness. He talked about feeling empty and removed from all the joy of life. He talked about the physical toll. He spoke of how his whole belief system was challenged. He said everything that I desperately needed to hear.

Finally, he used different words to echo a truth I first read from Corrie Ten Boom in 'The Hiding Place', "There is no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper still." Pastor Houston wrote "No matter how difficult life's path, nothing can separate you from the love of God." Or as the first scripture that I memorized as a child says, "8 And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed." KJV Deut. 31:8 - Something I had forgotten.

In Psalm 142, David says, "Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise Your name."

Although I am nearly into another year, my Soul Diet seems to be working. Sometimes it seems to be powered by cold molasses, while others, something kicks it into White Lightening mode! That is where I am today. I am always helped by those who have "been there, done that, and got the T-shirt", and that is where Pastor Houston had met me on my journey. 

I have to end this with part of the last paragraph in this powerful chapter, "Yes, the path will grow difficult, and the inevitable storms of life may crash through your windows and leave you drenched. But, if you return to the secret God has placed in your heart, if you keep his vision alive for your future, then you will know the kind of contentment Paul described here: "I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Phil. 4:11-13.