Posted in In My Opinion...

For you are Standing on Holy Ground…

“Do not come any closer,” the LORD warned. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground.”

-Exodus 3:5(NLV)

This verse follows Moses seeing the burning bush and hearing God call out to him. As Moses began to approach the burning bush, God calls out, “Do not come any closer…. Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground.” The message of removing sandals upon the entrance of holy ground is found in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Churches in the east, especially Eastern Orthodox churches, usually have a sign posted outside the church asking for visitors to remove their shoes. Some will quote this very Bible verse in one translation or another. Churches in the west have seemed to abandon this practice. In fact, many church circles see it as disrespectful to remove one’s shoes in the church.

I am a girl of many flip-flops. I really have enough to change my flip-flops depending on my outfit (I am just too lazy to do so). I also am more likely to be found carrying my flip-flops than I am to be actually wearing them. When sitting in the pew, I always take my shoes off and move them to the side. This carries on to when I preach and or am helping lead worship in some way. I take my shoes off and either leave them behind the pulpit or under the first pew depending on where I am and the set up of the worship space.

Why do I prefer to be barefoot in church? It all goes straight back to the verse in Exodus. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground.” For me this is a little more literal being an avid flip-flop wearer. I choose to not wear my shoes in church because for me the church is holy ground. The church is not the only place of holy ground but it is indeed holy ground.

Do I believe that the west does it wrong because this is not a common practice? Absolutely not. I do not think there is a right or wrong practice for wearing shoes in church. What I do believe is that there are ways to make a space more guided towards God during worship, and for me, personally, I find removing my shoes to be just one way to guide my attention towards God in worship.

 

Posted in In My Opinion...

Self-harm doesn’t mean suicidal

A very common misconception is that a person who self-harms is suicidal. While a person who has suicidal tendencies may have a history of self-harm, there is not a direct correlation between self-harm and suicidal tendencies. Actually the core motivation behind the two are actually quite different.

Those who self-harm do so for various reasons: to feel again, to punish themselves, or to release all the feelings they have bottled up inside. All of these come from a desire to cope with whatever it is they are experiencing. In fact, recently they have changed self-harm language to NSSI (Non-suicidal self injury). Here it is literally in the name not suicidal.

Those who do experience suicidal tendencies have a distorted view of what the future looks like and do not see an end to whatever it is they are experiencing. There is no desire to cope because they do not see any other way. Suicidal tendencies are not a coping mechanism; they are a way out.

Assuming everyone who self-harms is suicidal is not only wrong but it can be incredibly dangerous. The reason why a person is harming themselves and the emotions they are experiencing are tossed to the wayside while they are interrogated about suicidal thoughts. Leaving a person in their discomfort and inability to cope healthily can lead to feeling there is no way out, but it can be prevented from getting that far.

**Trigger warning**Story of how I have experienced people convinced self-harm is suicidal**

 

I started down the road of self-harm at about the average age of 13. It was not until high school that people began to realize that I was coping through self-harm. The excuses were not lining up with the type of injury and the frequency set off some flags.

I mainly scratched at my skin until it bleed, but that didn’t always provide the necessary relief. it also caused quite a bit more scaring than when I experimented with other tactics. Once I started college I realized that I wasn’t coping healthily and began to reach out for help.

It was when I started reaching out for help that I was meant with people relating self-harm to a sin because I was purposely maiming the temple of God. Those who weren’t condemning me wouldn’t believe me that I wasn’t suicidal. They were throwing readings at me that told me that I was looking for death because I was cutting. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

For me I cut to gain control. I cut to release the mass of emotions that build up inside of me. I cut because I cannot get myself out of the spiral of thoughts. I cut so I can get outside of these feelings and move back to the happiness I was at before all this happened. I cut so I can move on.

Please note I am not validating those who cut. I am not saying that it is something you should do. Please know that cutting is an unhealthy way to cope, but it is a coping mechanism for so many. Those who cut do need help finding new ways to cope. Healthier ways to gain control of themselves and the emotions that have completely flooded their systems.

Please know if you have not reached out to someone, I am here. Send me an email, message me on social media, comment. Whatever it is that you feel comfortable with. I am here for you and so are so many others. You are loved!

Posted in In My Opinion...

If I could be anywhere…

If I could choose to be anywhere, then I would choose to be exactly where I am, Perkins School of Theology. Why would I not choose some exotic place that I have never been before? Well, I plan on telling you just that.

Perkins is not a place I prayed I would end up one day. My life goals had changed so quickly and frequently I didn’t really have a plan beyond college. When I realized I needed and wanted to go to graduate school, I began to panic. Applications didn’t make me feel any better about the process. Perkins came highly recommended from a trusted friend, oh, and the application didn’t stress me out. Perkins ended up being the only place I applied.

I had a summer position lined up and all thoughts of Texas seemed to be so far away. The closer it became, the more nervous I became. Then came time to leave PA. I was a nervous wreck. Hours before I left I told my mom I didn’t want to go. The further away from PA I got, the less likely I would be to turn around. I finally made it it Texas and I only felt like I had made a huge mistake.

The feeling of making a mistake quadrupled at orientation. Everyone seemed so positive and sure Perkins is where they were supposed to be, but I shared none of those feelings. So now you are really curious why I chose Perkins out of all the places in the world, right? Be patient.

Orientation was also the beginning of realizing Perkins was exactly where I was meant to be. As the year faucet was turned on full blast, I sought out the first official person I could find to tell them this wasn’t it and I was going home. However, the person I chose was not willing to see me go and not in a typical concern of losing numbers king of way. She genuinely wanted me at Perkins. Why? She didn’t even know me.

This is how Perkins is, a family. The Perkins hug is real. From day one (of classes that is, orientation was rough), the people at Perkins have been the definition of a caring community. We laugh together and cry together. We study together and find solace in not doing our work together. However, this doesn’t stop when we leave the classroom. We have get-togethers and meet frequently for meals.

The fellow students are only a part of what makes this such an amazing community. The professors and other faculty create the space for this to occur. They are here for more than making sure we succeed academically. They are invested in our lives and want us to succeed in finding and pursuing our passions. They celebrate with us and mourn with us. They are here with us.

Leaving everyone behind in PA, including my support system, was an extremely difficult situation for me. However, I now feel so at home at Perkins and among all the people there. As much as I miss everyone in PA, I am so happy to be with everyone here in Texas.

Perkins is where the coffee is always flowing, the tissues are being handed over, and conversations about theology happen even on a Galentine’s Day outing (which ended at a coffee shop studying). Perkins is the place where your professors and faculty purchase your book and are so excited to walk this path with you. Perkins is where you aren’t afraid to walk into an office bawling or shouting about an awkward moment you just encountered. Perkins is where you get to pursue your passions in a completely supportive environment with a bounty of resources.

Perkins is where I would choose to be right now.

Posted in Reflections

Reckless Love- Cory Asbury

Before we could form words, God knew what we would say. Before we took our first breath, God was breathing for us. God has been good to us before we even could recognize God’s goodness. This is the reckless love of God.

When we are straying from the path God wills us to be on, it is God who is chasing after us. Even in our unworthiness, God has paid the ultimate price for each of us. This is the reckless love of God.

This reckless love of God is God’s continual pursuit of each one of us. It is a love that never ends. This love is for each of us as if we were the only ones. Nothing can come between us and the love of God. All of the barriers are defeated by God. This is the reckless love of God.

What walls have been knocked down in God’s pursuit of you?

Posted in Reflections

The God Who Stays- Matthew West

 When the going gets tough, we find it hard to believe God hasn’t given up on us. We find it hard to believe because we feel like giving up on ourselves. When we feel broken, we don’t see the reason of pushing on nor do we see the possibility of being fixed again. God is the God who stays.

We tend to feel ashamed and we hide from the people around us. We attempt to hide from God as well, but it is not possible to hide from God. If you have tried, you know this is true. God is the God who stays.

The truth is that nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39). Nothing we have done, said, or thought can separate us from the love of God. No one has the power to remove us from the presence of God. No matter how hard we try to hide from God, God is still there. God is the God who stays.

God is the God who stays. God is always welcoming us with open arms. God is there even when we feel the most alone. God is always reminding us that nothing can separate us from God’s love. God is the God who stays.

How do you know God is the God who stays?

Posted in Reflections

New Wine-Hillsong Worship

Making new wine comes from pressing and crushing. Breaking new ground comes from the act of surrendering. Neither of these processes are promised to be easy, but they always prove worthy in the end. Surrendering ourselves to the hand of God requires much trust. A trust that we know as faith.

Surrendering ourselves to God means offering ourselves up to align ourselves with the will of God. We become a vessel through which God works here on earth We admit that without God we are nothing and become full when we have God.

When we allow ourselves to become new wine, we are empowered through the Holy Spirit and freed from our hold to sin. The old passes away and we walk away holding the flame of Christ. A light that cannot be overcome.

When we have this flame we will be forever singing praises to the Lord. We will be placing ourselves back on the altar. The process of becoming new wine is an on-going process. A process that continually brings us closer to God.

Are you surrendering yourself to be made into new wine?

Posted in Devotion

New Year, New Me?

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All of this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:17-18

The time leading up to the New Year is filled with reflecting on the past year and planning on making the New Year even better by creating resolutions. We think resolutions to eat healthy, work-out more, or declutter our lives will create a new us. However, most of these plans fail before January ends.

This review of the past can also be dangerous. Focusing on the past does not allow for us to be in the present moment. We are not able to see what God is doing in the here and now because we are focusing on what God has or has not done in the last year.

The past can be improved. The story is yours to write. However, this can be done at any point. We do not need the New Year to decide to do what is best for ourselves. There is no New Year, New Me. The way we become new is not the hours between December 31st and January 1st.

We become new in Jesus. In our relationship with Jesus, we are reconciled with God. The old versions of ourselves pass away and we become new in Christ Jesus. There is no need for resolutions or unmet goals. There is only a need for preparing room in our hearts.

As the New Year greets us, do you have room in your heart for Jesus?

Posted in Devotion

The Prince of Peace

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.

Isaiah 9:6-7

Christmas is not all joyful and stress free for everyone. The stress of seeing family, of having money for the best presents, the anxiety the day brings and so much more cause this day to be less than joyful. However, unto us a child is born, a child who will be called Prince of Peace.

Peace. Christmas doesn’t seem so peaceful all the time. But peace is not a promise that things will be good all the time. Peace is knowing that even admits the bad that there will be good that comes later.

As you celebrate with your families and friends this holiday season I hope you are able to have peace. A feeling that no matter how this season plays out that good is coming. God is with each and every single one of you! God is never going to leave you.

The Prince of Peace has been given to you to remember to accept this peace into your hearts. Do you have peace in your hearts this holiday season?

Prayer: Almighty God, we thank you for the Son that you have given us on that first Christmas night. That you didn’t want to be without us, so you made sure you never were. Grant us peace this Christmas season and the days to come. In Jesus name, Amen.

Posted in Mental Health Awareness

November 13, 2019 “Working on Us” Week #23 Mental Health Blogging Community-Mental Health Series, Topic: Medications

Becky’s Mental Mess Original Post!

Help Break The Stigma Surrounding Mental Health

Question Prompt:

  1. When you first were diagnosed with your mental illness/disorder, did it take a while to get used to your medications that were prescribed to you?  If you answer the question, (YES), How did you feel initially? I was first diagnosed with anxiety and depression during my freshman year of college, but wasn’t immediately put on medication. It was during my third year of college that I was started on medication for anxiety and depression and then also diagnosed with PTSD.
  2. Depending on how long you have been on medication, how many times do you think it has been adjusted to make you feel stable? I was very lucky when I first got put on medication, that the original dose was enough to keep me stable for a long time. However, in the recent year, I have had my medications adjusted like 4-5 times just to keep stable.
  3. Have you ever had a bad reaction to medication? Again, I am thankful here, that I have not had a bad reaction to medication.
  4. Have you ever suffered withdrawals from a certain type of medication, and if so… What type was it? I made it very clear in the beginning of starting medication, that I did not ever want to be too attached to medication that I would have these symptoms, so no I have not had withdrawal symptoms.
  5. Do you work closely with your doctor in regards to your medication intake?  (In other words, do you have a good relationship with your doctor?) My Psychiatrist is the one I work closely with in regards to my medication intake. I currently meet with my psychiatrist every week, but have normally met with him every month. So, in other words, I have a really good relationship with my doctor.
  6. Since your diagnosis, have you ever tried to not take medication and see if you can handle your symptoms of mental illness/disorders on your own?  If so, how did that work out for you? I have frequently stopped my medications to see if I can handle it on my own. But what I think is important to mention here is that the reason I feel so ready to battle my anxiety/depression on my own is because my medication has me super stable, so once that medication is out of my system, I go back to not being as stable and quickly realize that I still need to be on my medications.
  7. Tell us briefly how medication has affected your life? I never wanted to be put on medication due to the stigma, but I cannot even put all of the benefits of being on medication in this post without writing way too much. However, it has kept me at a relatively non-anxious state-of-mind. It has lessened the depressive episodes and decreased the length of said episodes. I have been able to start to love myself for who I am and not who I think I should be.

Picture Prompt:

What do you see and how does it make you feel when you see this picture? This picture is kind of sad. It shows the fact that medicine has definitely been a push by the big pharmaceutical companies in order to make more money… This also means that the price of necessary medications go way up.

Mental health image for post

Rules:

  • Write your own post and create a pingback to the original post here.
  • There are no right or wrong answers.  Write in any format you see fit.  (Answer’s, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, poem, short prose…anything, and/or narrative).
  • You can do one or all prompts.
  • You have from November 13th. through November 19th. to submit your entries.

  • Please reblog the original post in order to spread more awareness.
  • ( If you the blogger have a suggestion/question you want to ask in the future weeks, please submit them in the comment section of this post).
  • Let’s see if we can get some men involved in this week’s prompts, your viewpoint/feelings are validated here too!
  • Plus, as an added bonus, whoever responds to the following prompts will automatically be reblogged to promote your blog site and spread more awareness!
Posted in Devotion

Don’t Carry the Burden Alone

“Let them judge the people at all times, and let it be that every major dispute they will bring to you, but every minor dispute they themselves will judge So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you.” -Exodus 18:22

Let me set the stage of this passage for you. Moses is appointed judge over all his people. At this point, Moses’ father-in-law is coming to visit. This visit doesn’t relieve Moses of his duty as judge. He was sitting as judge all day, by himself.

Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, questioned Moses on why he was doing this huge task alone. Moses answered that his people needed him. Jethro offered Moses some advice. He said that Moses should appoint some of his people as advisers to oversee the small disputes. The large disputes would still be brought to Moses, but he wouldn’t be carrying the burden alone.

What burden are you carrying alone? Are you like Moses and taking on responsibilities that could be delegated? Are you holding on to secrets you feel you can’t share with anyone? Are you finding daily tasks to be your burden?

Whatever the burden is for you, you are not meant to carry it alone. There are people out there that will rejoice in being able to help you. There is a God who is waiting for you to hand it over, so you are not carrying it alone. Start by laying it at the foot of the cross.

I know that reaching out is scary and usually avoided, but there are people out there who will listen to you and love you all the same. I am not saying that everyone is going to accept your story in a non-judgmental way. i wish I could promise you just the opposite, but I can’t.

Those people are the minority though. The majority of people want to see you succeed. I want to see you succeed.

What burdens will you be placing down to allow others to help you carry?

Prayer:

God, our strength comes from You. Sometimes we carry burdens that are too heavy for us to carry alone. Give us the strength to ask for help, guide us in reaching out to others, and comfort us in our decisions. Lord, You never meant for us to suffer alone. You never leave us even in the toughest times. Thank You God.

Amen.

© 2019 Kiersten Smeal