Tower of Trust

By Cori Schrader

I was a deputy sheriff while living in Houston, Texas. I worked 3rd shift in a large, 13 story county jail. The jail was full beyond capacity and many inmates slept on floor mats because there weren’t enough beds. As a member of my shift’s Emergency Response Team, I received Special Operations and Riot Tactic training as well as other specialized training. We were the ones called to handle severe or emergency situations. Now don’t get too impressed, my training wasn’t used or tested in many circumstances. In addition to an hour of physical training every night while on duty, some days we would go running after work. Ever try to run one or more miles with a baby in a back-pack style baby carrier? Let’s just say it was challenging! The kids seemed to love it though! I’m sure it looked like we were carrying a life-sized bobble-heads as the kids’ heads would bob up and down as we ran. I had two little ones at the time. A fellow deputy who ran with me would carry one and I would carry the other. I remember one occasion where another runner caught up with us and, between panting breaths, explained that he had felt he couldn’t run another step until he saw us run past. After seeing us, he was inspired to not give up and finished his run!

I also received training in rappelling. I love adventure and heights, so this was highly anticipated. Our instructors took us to a site where there stood a tall, cylinder-shaped water tower. I had never rappelled before; I missed the first training session while pregnant with my second child. This time I was ready and eager to go. We were given basic instructions then climbed the tower via a ladder connected to its side. I enjoyed being on the top of the tower, looking down at the miniature-looking team members still on the ground, while waiting my turn. Once at the top we received additional instructions and another person, experienced at rappelling, checked our equipment and secured our rope. The rope being tied to a safety railing that flanked either side of the ladder posed a problem. To start a descent, you first had to climb up and over the rail then get situated for the rappel. That was a little unnerving. You couldn’t hold both the rope and the rail; you had no choice but to hold the rail. That meant a slip would send you into a fall instead of a controlled descent. There was always a safety-man on the ground holding the other end of the rope. In the case of a mishap, he or she could use their weight to pull the rope taut which would stop your fall. But if you slipped while climbing the rail, you had a greater chance of falling backwards, head-first. The possibility of your head meeting the tower’s side, very probable.

Almost immediately after getting over the rail I asked the instructor rappelling alongside me if, instead of merely walking down the side of the tower to the ground, I could push-off, away from the tower and rappel with more speed and distance at a time. Smiling broadly he said, “Sure!”, and off we went. Pushing away, dropping several feet while the momentum of the swing brought us back to the tower’s side to push away again. What a rush! I loved it and couldn’t wait to climb back up that ladder to take my turn again and again! I was like a kid on a playground who just found the courage to go down the biggest slide and had discovered the joy in it.

While I found rappelling extremely fun, it does take a great amount of trust. You have to trust yourself, your equipment, your instructor and your safety-man. You are virtually risking bodily harm or loss of life if any of those things fail.

Do you have that kind of trust? Would you trust another person that fully? Do you trust God to that degree? Sometimes we have to trust others when we would rather be in control. We trust surgeons, mechanics, managers and others to make correct decisions for our benefit. Sometimes they’re right on, sometimes they make mistakes. Trusting God should be a no-brainer. His record, unmatched and unblemished. Yet there are times we still find it hard to trust him completely. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you find you are there occasionally. Lack of faith or trust is found throughout the Bible, even with those noted for their great faith. Many who had directly heard a promise from God still tried to speed up the process or make it become reality on their own. They grew impatient and unsure.

Those times are when it feels like experiencing going over that rail. You have to take a step of faith, for that moment you have to give up control and totally rely on someone else to react on your behalf and protect you. It’s a hard thing to do, and sometimes a very scary experience. But once you’ve tasted God’s faithfulness and protection, it is much easier each time you climb that ladder and find yourself in a vulnerable place. God will be your rope, your harness, your instructor and your ‘safety-man’…everything that you need. There are times you may not see him holding the end of your rope. Rest assured that he is there! He promised to never leave or abandon you. You can trust him. I believe that he wants us to be people who are trustworthy too. Who knows, you could be the one God entrusts as an earthly safety-man for someone else – to instruct or protect them. Can you be trusted? The challenge then, is to not only learn to trust God, but to live our lives in such a way that others find us trustworthy also.


depressIon

By Cori Schrader

 

I know depression. As someone who has been there, and now involved with a Bible-based recovery group, when I see other women in the heat of it, memories are stirred. Hearing others share their pain with trembling voices, seeing the tears well up and leave their trail on the strained and tired face of one who is trying desperately to hold it together when inside they’re falling apart. Feeling the hopelessness conveyed as they express not only their pain, but their fear. Wanting it all to end but fearing what might bring that about, what they might do if they lose control and go too far to stop the pain and struggle.

 

When in the middle of it, you feel like you’re frantically trying to climb a falling rope out of a pitch black pit, and getting nowhere but farther down. You become exhausted, then numb. You feel as though you have absolutely nothing left – no strength, no life, no worth. You want to give up because you’ve nothing left to give.

 

Depression shows itself in many ways. But I believe one thing is common for all who find themselves entangled in it… self-focused, negative thinking. Preoccupation with ourselves isn’t intentional; however, feeling overwhelmed causes our thinking to become narrow. Constant thoughts like: I (or I’m)…

  • …not treated fairly.
  • …can’t do anything right.
  • …worthless.
  • …unloved.
  • …hate my life.
  • …hate myself.
  • What’s wrong with me (another form of “I”)?

We get so caught up in ourselves and our problems that we get trapped. Unable to escape, these thoughts become our life-song. A never-ending, detestable tune that we want desperately to change.

 

Admittedly, in my experience, the advise and offerings of well-meaning Christians made me feel worse. I heard many Christian clichés like “Let go and let God”, and many quotes of applicable scripture. While these things were true and good (I was already feeding them to myself anyway!) I wasn’t in a mental or emotional state where I could truly let them take hold and apply them. It was like having a life-preserver thrown to me that landed out of reach – I could see it, I knew it was real and meant to help me, but I still couldn’t grasp it. This merely added to my frustration and guilt. After all, as a Christian I was supposed to have faith in God and the joy of the Lord! Was I that immature in my walk and so lacking in faith that I couldn’t get what I already knew from my head to my heart? I asked the “what’s wrong with me?” question many, many times.

 

Let’s look at the word “depression” as I have written it in the title of this article (depressIon). I’ve capitalized the “I” because in depression our focus is on the “I” – ourselves. Now look a little closer. Notice what flanks the “I” – press on! You see, if we can turn our focus to something else, we will find the ability to press on and move forward. For me the best “something else” was God and the help and support of others.

 

You may not agree about the use of medication for depression, but I feel that’s what helped me begin to overcome my overwhelming life-view. It took the edge off my emotions and cleared my mind enough that I could begin to reason again. With that, and God’s help, my focus began to change. Journaling helped me express myself without worry of what others thought. Diving into the scriptures, singing and listening to praise and worship music reminded me of God’s promises and faithfulness, as well as His power to heal and deliver me. I tried hard to focus on what was true, not on my ever-changing emotions or situations. I wasn’t alone, helpless, or hopeless. I had a Deliverer.

 

The recovery group helped tremendously, but not how you would think. Initially I was there only in a worship-leading capacity. What I discovered was that this commitment of service helped me to get my mind off myself and put my focus on God and others. This “serving” played a vital role in my first steps toward overcoming depression. It also removed me from isolation. God was taming my raging sea and, as I gained strength, I was able to reach out to other people who felt like they were drowning in the same waters of defeat and desperation. Eventually I overcame my fear of rejection as a Christian dealing with depression. I began to openly share my circumstances and feelings, and receive the love, understanding, and support of others in the small group setting.

In depression I felt alone. I knew this wasn’t true, but it took changing my thinking and focus before I could grab hold and cling to the truth that God was with me and He was bringing other people along side to help me.

 

 

Are you in a similar place? Do you know someone who is struggling with depression and low self-worth? Hope and healing can be found when we get our eyes off of the turbulent sea around us, and focus steadfastly on Jesus. Then we can use our experience and testimony to help others remove the “I” from their depressIon (or at least bring it down to size) and PRESS ON to healing and recovery through Christ!

 

 

 

The God of the storm is also the God of all comfort, able to calm your fears
as you keep your faith in God and your focus on God. ~Anne Graham Lotz~

 

“Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once again.” -Psalms 71:20-21
Philippians 3:12-14

Hebrews 12:2

Philippians 4:8


Magic Pumpkin Buckle Recipe | Taste of Home Recipes

This year is FLYING by! Already the holidays are approaching with all the bustling activity that goes along with them. I’m no Betty Crocker, I would rather re-roof a house than work in my kitchen. Even so, there is one dish I manage to make fairly well. It’s easy, tasty, and if I can make it ANYONE can!!! Consider this an early holiday gift from me to you!

Magic Pumpkin Buckle Recipe | Taste of Home Recipes.


God’s Message

Note: This was an entry in my personal journal on January 3, 2010 – Felt led to share it now.

 

I seem to be noticing a recurring theme lately…journey, growth and learning. I know it’s been said many times that life is a journey. I think God is calling us to be more proactive in it. I’m hearing that we need to continually seek to learn. To seek to know more of God and have a deeper relationship with Him. That if we want to keep having what we have we just need to keep doing what we’ve been doing…time to change, break out of the rut and reach for more. I’m learning that I am not alone in deciding to do something different from what I’ve always done. To make or take a change of direction. Some of us are trying to simplify and let go of extra burdens…even if they do have a seemingly good purpose, to not be spread too thin. Some of us are seeking a higher ground, a new path. Taking a risk and facing fear or uncertainty. To do this we have to get up and move out of our comfort zones. To place our trust outside of ourselves, to trust God.
I, and many others, came to the altars tonight at the invitation of our guest speaker, Mike Hadinger. His sermon was about asking ourselves how close we are to God. Are we living in the ‘servant’ mode? Have we advanced to the ‘sons’ mode or are we living as we should, as the ‘bride’ of Christ. That’s where I want to be. To have a relationship with God on that intimate a level. To have a burning passion for Him and His kingdom and will. To long for and chase after Him and know that He too is pursuing me…because He loves me! To find my worth is Christ and not in what others think of me – or what I may think of myself. I need to stay in the ‘meat’ and away from the ‘milk’. If I truly want to grow I must no longer settle for the same old, same old. I must be willing to WORK and wait, not just wait. A relationship is a two-way street, I must want to do my part to meet and court God if I really want the intimacy with Him I say I want. I must act upon this desire, not just sit and wait for Him to come to me. I must listen more than I talk. I must be willing to study, not just read. To learn and then APPLY what I learn and USE it for His GLORY!!!
Is this the year of change for many of us? I don’t mean the Obama variety either…empty promises, selfish motives, corrupt power. I mean taking on the likeness of Christ. Having servant’s hearts, humbleness yet strength. Seeking to do the work of God’s Kingdom. Seeking God’s will above our own. Putting ourselves in action, allowing God to use us as He will. Am I happy staying right were I am? No. I want more and I know I must DO and SEEK, MOVE and KNOCK and pray without ceasing to get it!
God grant me the ability to hear Your voice above the noise of the world. The courage to go where You lead me. The strength to stay on the harder path. The skills to do what You ask of me. The boldness to proclaim Your authority and Your salvation. Teach me to be a teacher. Sing over me that I might sing Your song to others. Help me to show real love, Your love, to those who do not know You or have strayed away. Help me to do these things in Your power, in Your anointing and for Your glory.
As was said and sang tonight….I need Your presence to go before me. And if Your presence is not there, I will not go.
Lord, I dedicate my life to You. All that I am and have You have given to me…I give it back to You. I give this year and whatever it may hold to You. I give my family to You. I give my ministry to You. I give my struggles and weaknesses to You that Your strength will be shown. Help me to be honest with myself in my relationship with You and in my self-examination. To dig deeper than I have been willing to go before, no matter how uncomfortable I may feel in doing so. To face my past, present and future with Your help and Your hope. I ask for You leading and direction on this ‘journey’ I am traveling. Go before me and be with me I pray!


“How You Live” a repost of one of my 2008 blogs

The song, “How You Live”, by Point of Grace says a lot. If you have the time, listen closely to the lyrics of the song. We miss a lot of great opportunities through our “busyness” and, once gone, we can’t get those opportunities back. We may get another chance though! Don’t take for granted your family and friends, the things that you love, things that you have, or yourself. Take the time to be involved in the lives of your loved ones and don’t look past what you’ve got, thinking others have more or the “grass is greener” on the other side. I’m sure you already have much more than you think! Guard your heart and the people and things that mean the most to you. Be true to your values, beliefs, and honor the commitments you have made. Be “real” in this life, not wearing masks just to fit in or please others. Live your life so that others will know what you are really made of and believe, no matter where you are or who you are with. Try your best not to be what I call a “Chameleon Christian” (or Chameleon anything else for that matter), acting one way in church or with other Christians but acting totally different at work, school or other activities. You either are a Christian or you aren’t…don’t pretend either way. Our lives should reflect who we are in such a way that people will know without us even having to tell them. So, be true to yourself and those around you and be known as a person of integrity, honesty and value. Believe me…you’ll like yourself more if you do!


It’s Hard Being Shortsighted

I, and many of my family members and friends, seem to be going through a lot these days. Illnesses, depression, stress…it sometimes seems to much to bear. It is easy to let oneself  give in to defeat, despair or hopelessness. Part of the problem (a big part!) is that we, in our human limitations, are very shortsighted. We can easily see the problems and the present results of those problems. We can feel the pain, shed the tears and feel like giving up. Sometimes we even believe we deserve everything we are going through – or believe we don’t deserve to be delivered from it. All of that is actually easy! It’s not hard to see what we are in the midst of. The difficulty comes in seeing our life’s circumstances through God’s eyes, to see the big picture.

What possible good can come out of cancer? What good can come out of a spouse of 70+ years, because of dementia, now feeling that he or she was never loved by the one they married? What good can come out of losing a job or career after 20 or more years? What good can come out of the loss of a child? None of these things seem as though there could be anything good about them. Especially while we are in the middle of the storm. We focus on the problem, the pain, the loss. The harder thing to do is to see past these things and ourselves. To look to the Creator who holds the universe, and our lives, in His hands. When we are in the midst of crisis we don’t always want to hear, ‘struggle makes you stronger’ or ‘there’s always a silver lining’. We would rather have relief…now! But the truth is, struggles do make us stronger. An easy life was never promised to us. Good things happen to the  just and unjust (the  good and the bad people), as well as bad things also happen to each. A life with no challenges, no temptations, no pain or suffering would be a life void of testimony. We can personally testify to God’s grace, only if we experience that grace. We can testify to healing sincerely if we have experienced healing. We can testify of our deliverance from addiction, only if we were at one time an addict. And we can help others who are going through the same things that we have in a way that someone else would not be able to…because we’ve been there and came through it.  I couldn’t offer an alcoholic much help outside of support and prayer…I’ve never been drunk. I wouldn’t really know exactly what they are going through. But another (recovering/delivered) alcoholic can be a tremendous help to another person struggling with the same battle that they have fought and are fighting. It’s our life’s experiences, good and bad, that equip us to minister to others.

Try to see past the storm (I’m preaching to myself here) and see the One who can tame the storm. The One who gives us strength for today and hope for tomorrow. He promises that He will never give us more than we can bear. And He is the One who carries us when we can no longer walk on our own. See your struggles through the eyes of God and trust Him to work it all out for good. He won’t let you down!

“God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28)

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26 NIV)

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. NIV


Just Me…

I seem to be the type of person who thinks about things…a lot! My social networking friends are probably growing tired of my sometimes long posts and I seem to have a lot on my mind lately so I decided to add a blog to communicate my thoughts and pondering. Sometimes I wonder why I wonder so much! I guess it is a good thing and putting my thoughts down in a tangible way is just as much for my own therapeutic reasons as it is to share with others. Don’t worry, I’ll keep my private stuff in my journal and just share things here that might get us thinking, or seeing things from a different perspective. I don’t profess to be an author so please don’t expect perfection in my writing abilities…I’m working toward being a better communicator but I have a long way to go. Let’s start the journey!


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: