Worshipping thru Life’s Challenges

Dear Christian Sisters,

How do you handle life’s challenges?

If you’ve read my testimony (see the links on the “About” page), then you know that both of my siblings have schizophrenia. The first time schizophrenia affected my life, I turned away from God and made bad, life-changing decisions, including abortion.

The second time schizophrenia affected my life, I pressed into God and learned how not to worry.

Thirteen years later—one-and-a-half years ago—my brother disappeared from his apartment in the Twin Cities. My mom and I live on the east cost. My dad lives in Minnesota. But we were on the phone together, heartbroken.

I wasn’t worried. Honestly, I wasn’t. I remember taking an inventory of my feelings because I can still today be detached. I was heartbroken. Just heartbroken. I guess I truly did learn not to worry.

“And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?”
Matthew‬ ‭6:27‬ ‭NASB‬‬

We searched. We followed paper trails. We contacted people. But we couldn’t find my brother.

What could I do but praise God?

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalms‬ ‭118:24‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.
Hebrews‬ ‭13:15‬ ‭NASB‬‬

I praised God by singing the “Doxology”:

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!
Praise Him, all creatures here below!
Praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts!
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
Amen.

I remembered the “Doxology” from my church upbringing. Singing it brought me peace. I made it my go-to praise song.

I was still crying. I would sing while crying.

Then I remembered “The Lord’s Prayer” in song. My dad used to sing it. He really likes a version with an African beat, but I like Malotte’s, which is what I remember him singing when I was young.

I found a phenom, Jackie Evancho, on YouTube who sings “The Lord’s Prayer’ beautifully and pretty much in my range. I listened to it over and over. And when no one else was in the car, I sang along with her.

While crying.

Can you guess what I felt?

I felt peace! Peace that passes all understanding.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬ ‭NASB‬‬

I was still sad. I was still heartbroken. But I trusted that the Lord was watching over my brother.

In the last year-and-a-half, the Lord has called me into His plan for my life. It was if the Lord said, “Okay, good. You understand how to respond to life’s difficulties. Now, pick up your cross and follow me.”

God sent me to Uganda on a short-term mission trip. While there, He convicted me that I needed to change the conversation about abortion.

In the last year, He has sent me to speak on abortion and sex outside of marriage both here and in Uganda.

Then He gave me the name of His new ministry: MybodyMyworship and told me what it’s to look like. (Find @MybodyMyworship on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.)

I learned to obey Him in this last year-and-a-half. I learned to worship him in all circumstances.

Honestly, I am on fire for the Lord. I’m so on fire for the Lord that I am annoying to my friends. They are going through difficulties, real and big difficulties. My encouragement? Sing a praise song.

But guess what? Life is still difficult at my house, too.

So, I have to take my own advice and sing a praise song. Sometimes I turn on Christian radio in every room of the house to shower my house with praise.

And the atmosphere changes.

Then three weeks ago, something amazing happened. I got a phone call from a psychiatric hospital that is an hour away from me here on the east coast. My brother is there!

My brother left the Twin Cities on his own accord and ended up one hour away from me.

God.

God did that. Only God could do that.

Things are not perfect. It’s not like my brother is suddenly healed of schizophrenia. But he has a roof over his head, he has clothes, and he has food for the time being.

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

I continue to pray for my brother’s complete healing. I praise God as we wait to see if my brother will make good decisions or become homeless again.

I praise God because it’s good for my soul.

What’s your go-to praise song?

In Christ,

Cheryl

Forgiveness & Peace that Passes All Understanding

Dear Christian Sisters,

In my previous blog post, I told you my story—what led up to my abortion and how it resulted in more bad choices.

In retrospect, I can tell you that my abortion brought darkness over my life. I turned my back on God, I murdered my baby, and I continued to make bad decisions of staying with the baby daddy—living with him, buying a house with him, and then marrying him (the wrong order!).

It wasn’t until after the baby daddy divorced me that I found the love of Christ shown practically by Russ. I had great joy!

But I also felt convicted that having an abortion is wrong.

Thankfully, the forgiveness that comes from Christ is freeing. We should never put the heaviness of guilt back onto a woman.

As sinners, we can have the peace of Christ in all circumstances, but we have to seek the Holy Spirit to get it.

When I first told my story in front of a large group, which was at my adult baptism, I quoted a bible verse. The Lord gave it to me right as I was speaking. I didn’t know where it was in the Bible at that time, but today, I can tell you that it’s in the Bible in two places:

  • in Psalm 51, which is THE BEST chapter on confessing our sins and feeling the love of God’s forgiveness, and
  • in Isaiah 1.

In Psalm 51, King David is confessing his sin of murder to the Lord. In verses 2 and 3, he says:

“Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin for I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before me.”

In verse 7 is the freeing verse. The verse that is echoed in Isaiah 1:18.

“Purify me and I shall be clean. Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”

If you, too, are post-abortive, read Psalm 51 as if you wrote it yourself. Mean it. Then you, too, will feel the love of God’s forgiveness. Once you feel whiter than snow, you will feel light!

I exchanged my story for His story. You can, too.

Even if you have not had an abortion, you probably have life challenges We ALL have things going on behind these faces—things that are difficult.

  • Some of us have difficult marriages.
  • Some of us have significant illnesses.
  • Some of us have difficult relationships with
    • adult children,
    • extended family or
    • coworkers.

We all have stress.

But we can all have the peace of Christ, peace that passes all understanding.

How do I know?

Because I have two siblings. Both of them have schizophrenia.

Shortly after I accepted Christ, we figured out that my brother also has schizophrenia. I remembered how I left the church when things got hard with my sister 15 years earlier.

I remember all too well how darkness fell over my life because I made really bad decisions, like:

  • premarital sex and
  • abortion and
  • living with my boyfriend and
  • marrying the wrong guy,

because I was angry at God—So I made a conscious decision to press into the church when my brother got sick and then became homeless.

Not that the church knew what to do with schizophrenia, but:

  • They knew how to pray.
  • They knew how to have healthy relationships within the family.
  • They had referral lists for Christian counseling—and I needed counseling!

My brother was homeless for 2 years. How he was admitted into the hospital, I don’t know. I’m not sure I want to know. But he did get diagnosed with schizophrenia, and then through social workers, got an apartment.

The medicine never fully worked, but at least he had a roof over his head.

Until a year ago.

Now if you’ve ever seen the movie “A Beautiful Mind,” then you have an inkling of what my brother is like. He’s a genius. The schizophrenia medication dulls his genius.

He went from spending all his time in the library reading books on computational linguistics and grading papers for a professor who taught Mandarin to someone who sits around all day doing nothing.

Not only does he know Mandarin, but Hebrew and Aramaic. He could have a PhD in linguistics, but he’s too smart and too bored to finish his freshman humanities paper to even get his bachelor’s degree.

And a year ago, he left his apartment back in Minnesota and traveled to Boston. He didn’t tell anyone.

It took a month for my dad to figure out that my brother had left and where he had gone. It took 3 more months to get confirmation from the police that he was really in Boston.

When my dad reached out to him, my brother left Boston. We think he went to Washington, DC. My mom lives with me, and she and I talk about this all he time. My brother must not realize how close we live to DC, but he would never seek us out. He literally closed the door on my face a couple years ago. He doesn’t want to see me.

And now we have no idea whether he is in DC or went back to Boston or has moved on to someplace else.

And even though I am very sad that my brother is off of his medication, that he is homeless again, and that he doesn’t want to see me, I still have hope, and I still have peace.

How?

Last year when I found out that my brother was missing, I started praising God while I was crying. In my homeschool group, we sing the Doxology, which has been a comforting return to my church upbringing.

So I’ve been singing “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow”—and as a result, I have grown closer and closer to the Lord. I feel peace even though I’m sad.

I felt peace as I worked alongside my dad and my nephew as we cleaned out my brother’s apartment (a day that felt like a funeral).

  • Peace has returned to my marriage and my home.
  • I had absolute peace about quitting my job last spring.
  • I had peace about homeschooling my teenager this year.
  • I have peace about not having a second income even though our expenses went up this year.
  • I had peace about my husband having hip surgery this summer, and I have peace about his upcoming knee surgery.

In my previous life, all these life circumstances would’ve stressed me out. But now, every day, I seek more of the Holy Spirit.

In Luke 11 after Jesus’s says “knock and it will be opened to you” (verses 9-10), he says, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (verse 13).

And I’ve been asking.

You know what we get when we have more of the Holy Spirit? We get the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

So, I say to you today,

  • confess your sins—big and small—so that you can be whiter than snow (Psalm 51:7),
  • ask for more of the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13) so that you can have peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:4-7), and
  • go make Christ appealing to every Gentile and every Jew you meet so that they want to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior (Matthew 28:19-20).

In Christ,

Cheryl