There is a “hush” word in the Christian arena and it is called Depression.
There are approximately nine symptoms of Major Depression and I experience every one of them. I accepted Jesus when I was 13 years old and I, very much believe in God’s redemptive power to wipe out any addiction, disease or anything that stands contrary to His Word. Yet, I struggle with symptoms that sometimes take me to a very dark place that seems to cover me like a heavy, weighted blanket.
It does not ask my permission, it just comes.
Three years ago, on February 1st my strong, spirited Father lost his battle with cancer and now both of my parents are gone from the same disease. I was there at the very last breathe for one and left 3 hours before the other slipped into eternity. I never saw my parents age and I miss them terribly, especially now. The next year my husband of almost 9 years decided he did not desire to be married any longer and our divorce was final July 3rd, 2017. He started his life with his new wife, July 29th, 2017. Their new baby arrived September 2017 and his life moved on quite swiftly.
The clock still ticks but my life has stayed still.
I’ve always been joyful, full of life and what some have called me,” refreshingly annoying,” as I am a quite a morning person and a night owl! I really did not allow much to ruffle my feathers and was a very even-keeled type individual. I am loud, passionate, enjoy laughter and I love people.
Most days it is a struggle to get out of bed, clean my house, I overeat and sometimes I cannot come out and face people, family and close friends. My personality has changed and I am still very much in grief over the loss of my life as I knew it. Grief is a complex place to be in, you cannot pray it away, yet prayer will very much ground me and light my way. Grief and depression go hand in hand and it is something I have committed myself to going through and not around.
As I have entered into 2018, I have found a new appreciation for this place I am in. It is lush, green and the scent in the air is of “The Valley.” The Psalm 23 kind of valley along with the shadow of death. The following are the ways I found helps me through this place.
- My condition does not define me so I refer to symptoms of Depression and Grief, I am not Depression!
My future self is not part of this Depression as God already is in my future and He says, I am restored, healed and I am running the race with perseverance.
- I coach myself daily and have sit down sessions with The Wonderful Counselor, Jesus.
- Confess I am God’s workmanship, co-worker, child & He knit me in my mother’s womb (Eph 2:10, 1 Corth 3:9, 1 John 3:1, Psalm 139:13).
- Use God’s word as my life manual and my confessions are my medicine to my soul.
- Renounce lies as they don’t prosper even though they may form.
I try my hardest not to call myself depressed because I am not defined by my circumstances. I confess I have symptoms of grief and depression but I am not what it says I am, nor will my future be determined as so. I have begun to adjust my thinking and daily I fight for normalcy. I coach myself through these dark places and allow myself time with God for daily sit down sessions with what the Bible calls” The Wonderful Counselor, Jesus.” God’s Word is my life’s manual and my confessions are medicine for my soul. I remind myself that I am God’s workmanship, His co-worker and His beautiful daughter that He knit together in my mother womb (Eph 2:10, 1 Corth 3:9, 1 John 3:1, Psalm 139:13).
I confess I have a voice, a purpose, a great group of people that surround me and a beautiful 8 year old son who needs me to get healthy.
There have been times I did not think I needed to be here but that is a lie that I will not let prosper (Isaiah 54:17). I am fighting for those who share this same place with me, we can get out of this together. I am fighting so when the people who I personally know go through a season of loss, I can wrap my arms around them and say, “I’ve been there, you will come out of this too.” I am fighting for those women I meet who I can immediately see are where I once was and stand with them through it. God sees into our futures, He is already there, that is why He can say to me, you are restored, you are healed and run the race with perseverance. He sits with me on my worst days and He rejoices with me on my best ones, but I am the same in both stances because He says,” I am free and nothing can separate me from His love.” That is my hope and my prayer every day. I am bound to come out of this more insightful, more mature and ready for God’s best for my life and He is not finished with me yet! My victory song is:
“By Your Spirit I will rise from the ashes of defeat, The resurrected King is resurrecting me. In Your name I come alive to declare Your victory, The resurrected King is resurrecting me.” – By Elevation Worship
As I sit here in the quiet all alone on Christmas morning (I hear the toilet flush, so one child must be stirring), sipping my coffee, I scroll through pictures of Pneuma’s first Christmas service. My eyes water and I hold back the tears. I’m overwhelmed. Let me add in, since my husband spends most of his time OFF social media, WE are overwhelmed! We never imagined but always believed that our church would be here in just a short 9 months!
Yesterday we held our first Christmas service and the people and teams were magical. Where could we ever begin to say “thank you” but “thank you”! You hold our heart, Pneuma and I pray that Jesus’ holds your heart with every task fulfilled, service accomplished, gathering held, group attended and hosted, message heard, worship engaged in, practice committed too, coffee poured, child loved, team member recruited, hug given, tear cried, prayer extended, cafetorium set-up, trailer loaded, meeting held, call taken or made, email read and sent, and ultimately our people loved.
Psalm 66:5 comes to my heart, “Come and see what God has done, his awesome deeds for mankind.” I’m substituting “Pneuma” for “mankind” and my eyes water yet again (36 has a way of making you cry a little bit more: hormones?)
These are just a few snapshots of people and moments that are a REFLECTION of this amazing church and community God has given to us to pastor. You truly are God’s people and Jason and I GET to do this everyday, every week! SO MANY not pictured including our amazing Kingdom Kids team, our Tech Arts team, our Welcome Team and so many more.
We love you…we are committed to you, we are so honored to lead and love you.
Here’s to the greatest year ever but not YET!
-Pastors Jason & Jessica Huffman
Prayer – It reorders the desires/needs of our spirit, and anchors the struggles of our soul. It’s the whisper of God that says “Be still”, and the loud commanding voice that propels us to take action. It’s intimate, corporate, widely impacting, and deeply abiding. It changes us inwardly while the storm continues to rage around us outwardly. It stop us, moves us, inspires us, humbles us, guide us, but more importantly, it’s our direct lifeline to the most important relationship we have – the one with our heavenly father.
I’ve been called a lot of things, but the one thing I hope to have on my tombstone, written on my kid’s hearts & minds, and slathered over all areas of my life is being a “women who prays”.
At some point in your life you will be faced with YOU dealing with your world or GOD, the creator of this world, taking charge of it all. Closing that gap means you pray.
With all my heart,
PS- How can we pray for you?
“Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality–faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]” – Hebrews 11:1-2
Yelling verbal support as my husband preaches his heart out each week is something most are familiar and can hear on our church YouTube videos. This last week, I probably could have waved a banner (if local churches still supported that) and possibly banged a tambourine on my leg (come on now!). Since those things are usually frowned upon in local church services, I contained my extroverted ways to being Faith’s biggest fan.
Where do you begin with this message as Jason begins with closing out a three week home-run series on Love, Hope and now Faith? He talks about the incredible work by our Creator of the physical eyes and how they process images. Again, we are reminded that our living bodies continually tell a story of God’s workmanship. Then he proceeds to our spiritual eyes: the ones that see into another realm and are connected to our heart. Our faith eyes! The message wouldn’t be complete without highlighting some way his and my personalities are so opposite yet complimentary. His example was our unique and different choices in sunglasses, which I might add, his are still ugly and mine quite fabulous (said in my diva voice)!
Underneath the layers of science, theology, and humor, this message is REAL, it’s raw, and we are walking it out with so many wonderful people. There’s not a week that goes by that certain spectacles of tainted faith are removed and I’m reminded of the lens of faith that sees the world, people, experiences, challenges, blessings, opportunities and trials through the clear Word of God.
Faith is not a future oriented emotion declaring a potential promise of God, but believing for the NOW despite not being seen physically (Hebrews 11). The beginning point of Faith is in God’s character: He is who He says He is. The ending point of Faith is in God’s promises: He will do what He said He will do. All the rest in the middle? That’s the messy faith journey we live out in our lives as evidence to His character and promises.
Are you hopeful (a future implied desire) to experience God or are you Faith-filled (to experience God (we just need a mustard seed size for it to happen – Matthew 17:20)?
Hope places expectation in tomorrow, but faith receives God’s promises for TODAY. How many times do we place hope in the driver’s seat of our lives when it is a position that belongs to Faith? . When you woke up today, did you accept EVERY promise God has for you, knowing that He’s a good God who loves you and declares you His favorite? That’s faith talking and walking!
Is your faith being tested, shaken, rocked, messed-with, challenged, or dissipating? GOOD! That means you’re “in the middle” of this faith journey because you have already believed in God’s character and now you are confidently accepting the fulfillment of God’s promises.
Are you ready to remove your many shades of unbelief and start siding with faith? Me too, so let’s go!
With all my heart,
Over the weekend and in some social statuses I was introduced as “This is my Pastor’s Wife”! It took me a second to own the title upon this introduction, but I quickly and inwardly shooed away the insecurity that arose (because who has time for that?!) and dove deep into sharing my “non-biased” belief of being a part of the best church with the BEST people in the world!
As a result of growing up in religious circles, I’m familiar with titles, their impact on people and the dysfunction that comes along with the carnal desire (in us all) to be recognized and honored. I’ve seen the wounded limping around grasping for healing because of the pride and ego that emerges with power trips, struggles, and battles of religious titles and territories that devastate those we’ve been given to faithfully steward, shepherd, and love.
But I’ve also seen the gracious, incredibly honoring, and life-giving women (and men) who emerge as pastors and leaders. I always allow these people to stay at the forefront of my heart and mind. As I journey into this new season as a church-planter, pastor’s wife, and other roles, I remember the three female Pastors who have made a mark on my life and resonate in my heart.
I will always honor and cherish each of them and they have taught me some profound and precious things.
- My mother, Pastor Susie Shanlian, Atlanta City Church
Many knew her as Susie Snow, but she was my first “Pastor’s Wife.” She taught me unconditional love and perseverance. God knew I needed the world’s greatest example of a pastor’s wife who also came in the form of my mother. I believe being a female pastor mirrors the values of a mother; both are the heart of the house. My mother provided safety, love, hospitality, encouragement, nurturing, coaching, and often discipline to those at my first spiritual home. She amplified every lesson with excellence and a teachable spirit while persevering through some difficult ministerial, emotional and mental storms. From her I gained my heart.
- Pastor Bobbie Houston, Hillsong Church
Many are unaware of my short but life-altering time with Hillsong Church and Hillsong School of Ministry. I have the incredible honor to serve under Pastor Bobbie Houston and watch a global vision take shape through a local church. She taught me to think GLOBALLY. What I want done for the many I first do for the one. Her reach is local; but her impact global and that takes VISION. She taught me to dream big and work hard and that the most powerful entity on the face of the planet is the local church. She taught me to empower people and love them thoroughly. From her I gained my vision.
- Pastor Kerri Weems, Celebration Church
This Pastor leads with grace and wisdom. I truly believe we’ve only experienced an ounce of all that is within her as she wonderfully leans into seasons well and she freely shares grace. In fact, she taught me a lot about grace. That it has many voices throughout seasons, yet it all remains the same; extend grace and grace will always extend itself back. She taught me boundaries, that ministry has a personal impact, and we have the power to choose those results. She taught me friendship. She graciously allowed me to experience many aspects of her life and serve in various areas that she tilled the soil and planted the seeds. I learned that ministry can be hard. However, life can still be fun and it is important to celebrate the wins as they come. She also taught me to keep moving forward. From her I gained grace…for myself and others.
With each passing year, I reach deep into the depths of my experiences and words of wisdom these women spoke, however, the lessons above keep bubbling up. I honor these women for who they are and the position they’ve taken before God and His people. I pray God would see me fit to carry on their heart, vision and grace to another generation in need. So, with my extroverted heart, often pushy vision, and loads of grace, I move forward into the purpose and plans of God for my life. I stand on the shoulders of women who’ve done it right and those who’ve done it wrong; both are lessons for life. I’m excited to establish a heart for a new home, a strong and big vision for the local church to carry God’s message to the world, and extend His grace to those in desperate need.
Let’s go after the one; let’s go after the many.
With all my heart,