Notice Leah’s Eyes, [Handicaps]

Portait of woman wearing scarf with eyes closed Stuck in the wonderful convolutions of scripture we can start a great study of Leah and her sister Rachel. These two daughters of Laban have become Jacob’s wives.

Now, we may question this polygamy when all we know is monogamy. These kind of decisions may be criticized and even outright challenged, but we will change nothing (and does it really matter)?

Jacob longs for Rachel. She is his “soul mate” and because he is so much in love, the customs and technicalities of the day somehow get by him. Because of this, he will have to take on Laban’s subtle trickery, where daughters get exchanged, and he must sort out who is who. Laban’s deception really creates a crisis. But it seems Jacob just rolls with it. I suppose deception has always been Jacob’s strong suit. (But when a deceiver gets deceived, that can’t be all bad, I suppose).

Jacob is so in love with Rachel that he works for seven years for the right to marry her. This may be a bit outrageous. But we really must weigh these issues. I believe Jacob really is a monogamist at heart (shh… don’t tell him). He can only see that one girl that he is crazy about, his true love, Rachel. But it’s Leah that I think about. Her own issues are unique. Genesis 29 explains it a bit cryptically,

“Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance.” 

Genesis 29:17

I must tell you that there is confusion by commentators about the “weak eyes.” Some take it literally (as in, she in very “near-sighted,”) others who look at the original Hebrew find the words to be a bit looser and vague. They think that this is a polite way of saying she really wasn’t pretty. IDK, but I think I can gain from either interpretation.

In the long view, Leah would birth four patriarchs for Israel. But she would struggle with jealousy over her younger sister’s beauty and favor. Her pain was real, and she would hurt deeply over this.

I think I may understand Leah. She is wounded, and life requires that she live as unwanted. She sticks out as a woman of tragedy and broken hopes and dreams. She will always live as a reject. At best, she will always be a distant second, and perhaps a bit scorned and neglected for this.

I so love Leah and I do understand her. Her life is a long tragedy and very full of sadness. For the next 30-40 years she will always be a cast-off, someone who has been broken on life’s hard wheel. I look at her with a painful bit of understanding. She reminds me of being a struggler and a survivor. Her sad life is comparable to us who have to fight so hard over our own illness or handicap.

I suppose its “Leah’s eyes” that catch me. I have no idea what the issue was. But I know that she was weak, and challenged by this terrible weakness. I understand this. My own life has been “topsy-turvy” and a really hard struggle. Somehow it seems we must work through way too much. It doesn’t seem fair. But than again, we are the ones who must drink our adversity straight; and the ones who get to know special comfort.

For those of you who are confined to a ‘chair,’ and the others who must deal with mental illness. Leah should be our hero.

Those who have been betrayed by addiction, or who have felt rejected through a bitter divorce. Leah speaks to us. For she is for every loser and for failures of all stripes. But through all of our “set-backs” and messes, we must realize that God does love us– even as we weep.

We may have “Leah’s eyes,” but we also have His grace.

One more thought that might be relevant:

“When you encounter difficulties and contradictions, do not try to break them, but bend them with gentleness and time.”

–Francis de Sales

 

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“Fine, I’ll Do It Broken” Link

Fine, I’ll Do It Broken

“Fine, I’ll Do It Broken

If you want a woman torn apart inside, weeping at the drop of a pin, confused in her own identity, disqualified in every sense of a leader…you got it!

A great link to a special teaching by Cheryl Meakins. This will bless you.

Fine, I’ll Do It Broken

When Angels Stand Amazed

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“When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.”

~Barbara Bloom

Just a short word of encouragement to all my suffering brothers and sisters.  I believe God loves you (not a cliche) and has a tremendous plan for you.  Scripture tells us that we will reign with Him (and the last time I looked, there is no disqualification for being mentally ill).  Having suffered through your whole life will be just an enhancement, a bonus when you finally are held by Jesus, in His arms.

Those of us who struggle with depression, mania, and paranoia know a lot about cracks and brokenness.  Mixed states, anxiety, and social withdrawal all have taken their toll. Some of us hear voices. Addictions and suicide attempts have made up our past life (and even sometimes try to intrude on the present.)

Some have physical disabilities. They have come to worship from their wheelchairs. Some are deaf, others are blind. But they come still.

I have a dear friend with advancing Alzheimers who understands little of what is happening to her,  but she still worships God with the rest of the congregation. Before the dementia she was a spiritual marvel.  Without a doubt one of the astonishing women I had ever met. Now however, when she raises her hands, I believe the angels step back in a deep awe.  I just realized this, the angels understand worship, they really do. BUT, they do not understand worship out of weakness and brokenness.

Let us worship God with our cracks and brokenness.  In John 12, a woman breaks open a jar of nard on Jesus feet, while the other disciples hang back and complain.  But always remember this dear one–it is only by being poured out that one can release the perfume.

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The Test of a Profound Silence, [Extreme Faith]

void-of-silence 

But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away. “Tell her to go away,” they said. “She is bothering us with all her begging.”

Matthew 15:23, NLT

This is exceptional.  Jesus is always engaging people around him.  He teaches and preaches, fully energized by the Holy Spirit.  He is a veritable hurricane of goodness and love.  He heard every request, and healed every disease.  But yet.  On this occasion he is completely silent.

The woman’s piteous crying, and begging was seemingly ignored.  “If Jesus won’t respond to me, I will go to his followers.”  She presses, and cajoles.  She falls on her knees.  Have you ever seen a person truly beg?  It is a very disconcerting experience.  Yet, Jesus does nothing, in spite of being able to do all things.

She is a Canaanite; a pagan widow, and her daughter was demonized.  Curiously, there was a large heathen temple to Eshmun, the Canaanite god of healing, was just three miles down the road.  But her desperate cry was for something real.  Something authentic and real that would heal her daughter’s affliction.  Only Jesus has what she needs.

Jesus is astonishingly silent.  He stands and sees, he hears her cries.  She is sobbing, clutching at the disciples robes, disheveled and distressed.  It was a desperate scene. Very ugly and very sad.

Jesus responds to his disciple’s plea.  Then there is something that seems like a negotiation.  A protracted conversation with a ‘seemingly’ reluctant Messiah.  It is somewhat disturbing as we listen.  Jesus seems to treat her callously.  I have always been mystified by this, troubled by his behavior. I can only conclude that what he did was necessary in some way.

But the Son of God sees through this. 

And then she makes an incredible statement.  Jesus is suddenly amazed at her faith in him.  This faith is what he has been waiting to see. She may have known despair, but that isn’t enough. Jesus leads her from the edge. Until she moved to a position of belief, nothing will change. Faith seems to change everything.  This is key.  It isn’t her words that alters things– it is her heart!  At that moment, Jesus declares a healing for her daughter.  She is now free from the demon’s grip.

So often I have also felt the pressure from the darkness.  I am often embattled and driven into a despair that seems to cripple me.  But Jesus is waiting for me, to come to him through an unflinching faith.  My good works can never, ever be enough.  I’m just like a dog, waiting for food under the table.  I have little, if any, decorum or sophistication.  There is nothing at all, to commend me to him. Nothing at all.

“Our Lord sometimes yet seems to be silent to His people when they cry to Him. To all their earnest supplications He answers not a word. Is His silence a refusal? By no means. Ofttimes, at least, it is meant only to make the suppliants more earnest, and to prepare their hearts to receive richer and greater blessings. So when Christ is silent to our prayers, it is that we may be brought down in deeper humility at His feet, and that our hearts may be made more fit to receive heaven’s gifts and blessings.”

–J.R. Miller

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A Woman’s Depression [Honesty]

Depression Fits the Hearts of Women

Women experience twice the rate of depression as men.

Women have twice the chances as men

Everyone experiences disappointment or sadness in life. When the “down” times last a long time or interfere with your ability to function, you may be suffering from a common medical illness called depression.

Major depression affects your mood, mind, body and behavior. Nearly 15 million Americans — one in 10 adults — experience depression each year, and about two-thirds don’t get the help they need.

Women experience twice the rate of depression as men, regardless of race or ethnic background. An estimated one in eight women will contend with a major depression in their lifetimes.

Researchers suspect that, rather than a single cause, many factors unique to women’s lives play a role in developing depression. These factors include: genetic and biological, reproductive, hormonal, abuse and oppression, interpersonal and certain psychological and personality characteristics.

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Little interest or pleasure in doing things
  • Feeling down, depressed or hopeless
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep or sleeping too much
  • Feeling tired or having little energy
  • Poor appetite or overeating
  • Feeling bad about yourself, that you are a failure or have let yourself or your family down
  • Trouble concentrating on things, such as reading the newspaper or watching television
  • Moving or speaking so slowly that other people could have noticed or the opposite in that you are so fidgety or restless that you have been moving around a lot more than usual
  • Thoughts that you would be better off dead or of hurting yourself in some way

Women may be more likely to report certain symptoms, such as…

  • anxiety
  • somatization (the physical expression of mental distress)
  • increases in weight and appetite
  • oversleeping
  • outwardly expressed anger and hostility
 
Stay close to your friend

Helping a Woman with Depression

People with depression aren’t the only ones who suffer. Their friends and loved ones may experience worry, fear, uncertainty, guilt, confusion or even be more likely to go through depression themselves.

The situation may be especially trying if your loved one doesn’t realize that she is depressed. You can help by recognizing the symptoms of depression and pointing out that she has changed.

Recognize even atypical signs of depression. Women may be more likely to report certain symptoms, such as anxiety, physical pain, increases in weight and appetite, oversleeping and outwardly expressed anger and hostility. Women are also more likely to have another mental illness-such as eating disorders or anxiety disorders-present with depression, so be alert for depression if you know a woman with a history of mental illness.

To point out these changes without seeming accusatory or judgmental, it helps to use “I” statements, or sentences that start with “I.” Saying “I’ve noticed you seem to be feeling down and sleeping more” sounds less accusatory than “you’ve changed.”

Talking to a Woman with Depression

If a friend or loved one has depression, you may be trying to figure out how you can talk to her in a comforting and helpful way. This may be difficult for many reasons. She is probably feeling isolated, emotionally withdrawn, angry or hostile and sees the world in a negative light.

Although you may feel your efforts are rebuffed or unwelcome, she needs your support. You can simply be someone she can talk to and let her share her feelings.

It’s important to remember that depression is a medical illness. Her symptoms are not a sign of laziness or of feeling sorry for herself. She can’t just “snap out of it” by taking a more positive outlook on life.

Helpful responses include, “I am sorry you’re in so much pain” or “I can’t imagine what it’s like for you. It must be very difficult and lonely.” Instead of simply disagreeing with feelings she conveys, it is more helpful to point out realities and hope.

A woman with depression often expects to be rejected. You can reassure her that you will be there for her and ask if there’s anything you can do to make her life easier.

If your loved one is not diagnosed or not in treatment, the most important thing you can do is encourage her to see a health care professional.

*Never ignore statements about suicide.* Even if you don’t believe your loved one is serious, these thoughts should be reported to your friend’s doctor. If this is an emergency, call 9-1-1.


http://www.nami.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Mental_Illnesses/

Depression/Women_and_Depression/Women_and_Depression_Facts.htm


The Wonder of Abigail

She is known for her wisdom
She is known for her wisdom
Narrative from 1 Samuel 25
 

If she were a man, she would have been a prophet. She is wise, and very beautiful. That’s quite a combination. Her husband, Nabal, is a crude and rude, nasty dude. He cheats most he has dealings with. He is also a wealthy man, and he has had previous contact with David’s men. It seems that David provided protection for Nabal’s sheep and shepherds. Definitely a good thing to have in the wild and woolly Judean wilderness.

David sends a delegation of 10 men to ask for some special provisions. This would be a small  recognition of the service rendered by David’s men. Please note: Their simple request was not burdensome or excessive. They were not asking for wages, they just wanted a nice diversion– a party was anticipated. It was sheep shearing day.

Nabal essentially mocks this delegation. He laughs at them, calling them bandits who are in rebellion from King Saul. (Nabal, I suppose may have been trying to appeal to Saul.) Nabal sends the delegation away, with nothing to show for their efforts.

David is beside himself in anger, his men have been denied– and he has been publicly mocked. He quickly puts together a small army and moves directly against Nabal. His force  is enough to destroy everyone. His heart is full of vengeance. He moves to destroy Nabal. And then Abigail shows up.

Abigail is magnificent. She has been warned of Nabal’s insult that has triggered this potential massacre. She takes the initiative and launches out to meet David. She carries the deep scent of grace and humility with her. And she brought the provisions he had initially requested.

At the first sight of David, she throws herself down. She pleads for her people, and begs for mercy. It is interesting that she focuses on David himself. She appeals to David’s reputation, and seems more concerned about it than he does. But her intercession is more effective. In humility she speaks to David with a visible brokenness. She reminds David of his true identity. She declares to him, who he really is, and how he should behave, as a result. And David desperately needed to hear her voice.

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Lynnie, my Abigail

Abigail deserves any focus we can place on her. Many years ago, a man placed his hands on my shoulders and prophesied. All I remember is this, “Your wife is an Abigail to you, she will be a source of wisdom and understanding to you. Listen, for she will be your wisdom,” This is the most significant word anyone has ever said to me. It has really shaped our marriage of 24 years.

Understand dear reader, my wife Lynn is my Abigail. She consistently brings me back to my true calling and purpose. She will not let me shake off my holy summons. Her words press me, and guide me into a place where I finally see His direction and purpose for me. She is God’s gift to me. I desperately need her to speak into my life. She is truly my wise Abigail. I am sure that her eternal crown will exceed mine.

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ybic, Bryan

Cheryl Meakins Horizontal 300x200I recently have been introduced to Cheryl Meakens. She has a wonderful blog at http://www.meakinsspeak.com/.

I encourage you to visit her site. I believe she has something good for you.

Anorexia & Bulimia

What Are Eating Disorders?

An eating disorder is marked by extremes. It is present when a person experiences severe disturbances in eating behavior, such as extreme reduction of food intake or extreme overeating, or feelings of extreme distress or concern about body weight or shape.

A person with an eating disorder may have started out just eating smaller or larger amounts of food than usual, but at some point, the urge to eat less or more spirals out of control. Eating disorders are very complex, and despite scientific research to understand them, the biological, behavioral and social underpinnings of these illnesses remain elusive.

The two main types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. A third category is “eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS),” which includes several variations of eating disorders. Most of these disorders are similar to anorexia or bulimia but with slightly different characteristics. Binge-eating disorder, which has received increasing research and media attention in recent years, is one type of EDNOS.

Eating disorders frequently appear during adolescence or young adulthood, but some reports indicate that they can develop during childhood or later in adulthood. Women and girls are much more likely than males to develop an eating disorder.

Men and boys account for an estimated 5 to 15 percent of patients with anorexia or bulimia and an estimated 35 percent of those with binge-eating disorder. Eating disorders are real, treatable medical illnesses with complex underlying psychological and biological causes. They frequently co-exist with other psychiatric disorders such as depression, substance abuse, or anxiety disorders. People with eating disorders also can suffer from numerous other physical health complications, such as heart conditions or kidney failure, which can lead to death.

Eating disorders are treatable diseases

Psychological and medicinal treatments are effective for many eating disorders. However, in more chronic cases, specific treatments have not yet been identified.

In these cases, treatment plans often are tailored to the patient’s individual needs that may include medical care and monitoring; medications; nutritional counseling; and individual, group and/or family psychotherapy. Some patients may also need to be hospitalized to treat malnutrition or to gain weight, or for other reasons.

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is characterized by emaciation, a relentless pursuit of thinness and unwillingness to maintain a normal or healthy weight, a distortion of body image and intense fear of gaining weight, a lack of menstruation among girls and women, and extremely disturbed eating behavior. Some people with anorexia lose weight by dieting and exercising excessively; others lose weight by self-induced vomiting, or misusing laxatives, diuretics or enemas.

Many people with anorexia see themselves as overweight, even when they are starved or are clearly malnourished. Eating, food and weight control become obsessions. A person with anorexia typically weighs herself or himself repeatedly, portions food carefully, and eats only very small quantities of only certain foods. Some who have anorexia recover with treatment after only one episode. Others get well but have relapses. Still others have a more chronic form of anorexia, in which their health deteriorates over many years as they battle the illness.

According to some studies, people with anorexia are up to ten times more likely to die as a result of their illness compared to those without the disorder. The most common complications that lead to death are cardiac arrest, and electrolyte and fluid imbalances. Suicide also can result.

Many people with anorexia also have coexisting psychiatric and physical illnesses, including depression, anxiety, obsessive behavior, substance abuse, cardiovascular and neurological complications, and impaired physical development.

Other symptoms may develop over time, including:

  • thinning of the bones (osteopenia or osteoporosis)
  • brittle hair and nails
  • dry and yellowish skin
  • growth of fine hair over body (e.g., lanugo)
  • mild anemia, and muscle weakness and loss
  • severe constipation
  • low blood pressure, slowed breathing and pulse
  • drop in internal body temperature, causing a person to feel cold all the time
  • lethargy

TREATING ANOREXIA involves three components:

  1. restoring the person to a healthy weight;
  2. treating the psychological issues related to the eating disorder; and
  3. reducing or eliminating behaviors or thoughts that lead to disordered eating, and preventing relapse.

Some research suggests that the use of medications, such as antidepressants, antipsychotics or mood stabilizers, may be modestly effective in treating patients with anorexia by helping to resolve mood and anxiety symptoms that often co-exist with anorexia. Recent studies, however, have suggested that antidepressants may not be effective in preventing some patients with anorexia from relapsing. In addition, no medication has shown to be effective during the critical first phase of restoring a patient to healthy weight. Overall, it is unclear if and how medications can help patients conquer anorexia, but research is ongoing.

Different forms of psychotherapy, including individual, group and family-based, can help address the psychological reasons for the illness. Some studies suggest that family-based therapies in which parents assume responsibility for feeding their afflicted adolescent are the most effective in helping a person with anorexia gain weight and improve eating habits and moods.

Shown to be effective in case studies and clinical trials, this particular approach is discussed in some guidelines and studies for treating eating disorders in younger, nonchronic patients.

Others have noted that a combined approach of medical attention and supportive psychotherapy designed specifically for anorexia patients is more effective than just psychotherapy. But the effectiveness of a treatment depends on the person involved and his or her situation. Unfortunately, no specific psychotherapy appears to be consistently effective for treating adults with anorexia. However, research into novel treatment and prevention approaches is showing some promise. One study suggests that an online intervention program may prevent some at-risk women from developing an eating disorder.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is characterized by recurrent and frequent episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food (e.g., binge-eating), and feeling a lack of control over the eating. This binge-eating is followed by a type of behavior that compensates for the binge, such as purging (e.g., vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics), fasting and/or excessive exercise.

Unlike anorexia, people with bulimia can fall within the normal range for their age and weight. But like people with anorexia, they often fear gaining weight, want desperately to lose weight, and are intensely unhappy with their body size and shape. Usually, bulimic behavior is done secretly, because it is often accompanied by feelings of disgust or shame. The binging and purging cycle usually repeats several times a week. Similar to anorexia, people with bulimia often have coexisting psychological illnesses, such as depression, anxiety and/or substance abuse problems. Many physical conditions result from the purging aspect of the illness, including electrolyte imbalances, gastrointestinal problems, and oral and tooth-related problems.

Other symptoms include:

  • chronically inflamed and sore throat
  • swollen glands in the neck and below the jaw
  • worn tooth enamel and increasingly sensitive and decaying teeth as a result of exposure to stomach acids
  • gastroesophageal reflux disorder
  • intestinal distress and irritation from laxative abuse
  • kidney problems from diuretic abuse
  • severe dehydration from purging of fluids

As with anorexia, TREATMENT FOR BULIMIA often involves a combination of options and depends on the needs of the individual.

To reduce or eliminate binge and purge behavior, a patient may undergo nutritional counseling and psychotherapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), or be prescribed medication. Some antidepressants, such as fluoxetine (Prozac), which is the only medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating bulimia, may help patients who also have depression and/or anxiety. It also appears to help reduce binge-eating and purging behavior, reduces the chance of relapse, and improves eating attitudes.

CBT that has been tailored to treat bulimia also has shown to be effective in changing binging and purging behavior, and eating attitudes. Therapy may be individually oriented or group-based.

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For more on these Eating Disorders, see: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/eating-disorders/complete-index.shtml

For a Christian perspective: http://www.christiananswers.net/q-eden/eatingdisorders.html