Coping with Change at Christmas

Coping with Change at Christmas

Mary Lambrecht, M.S. LMFT

Dennis the Menace is a cute little boy whose behavior annoys his parents and especially his neighbor, Mr. Wilson. But there is one thing you can count on in the cartoon-world of Dennis the Menace; his age never changes! Today, as well as five, ten or even forty years ago, he was still mischievous…and he was still 5 years old. However, unlike the consistent age of Dennis the Menace, change is commonplace in family dynamics. Many people agree that changes in family matters are difficult in general, but oftentimes the Christmas season magnifies these difficulties. I recently spoke with a woman who had weathered many changes in the past year. Her only son had died, her own health was declining, her only daughter seemed emotionally detached from her (most likely a grief reaction) and financial issues frightened her. At one point in our conversation, she turned to me and said; “But I do feel Him helping me.”

Mary, the mother of Jesus, upon hearing from the angel Gabriel that she was to give birth to Jesus, was also coping with change. Mary’s response to these life-altering circumstances, gives us a model of how to help ourselves when changes unsettle us or even terrify us. I have used the letters in the word ‘COPE’ to serve as a kind of acrostic tool to describe some of the ways Mary responded, and then as a guide to apply to our own changes:

C: Consider: Consider examples from the past where God has proved his help and faithfulness in your trials and problems. Upon learning of her pregnancy, Mary said to her cousin Elizabeth; “For He who is mighty has done great things for me.” (Luke 1:49)

O: Opportunities: Seek opportunities for fellowship with others who can encourage and support you. For three months, Mary stayed in the home of her cousin Elizabeth, who was six months pregnant with John the Baptist. (Luke 1: 39-56).

P: Praise: Give praise and thanksgiving to God for the future. God will use these present challenges to bless the future that He has planned for you. Elizabeth said to Mary; “Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.” (Luke 1: 45). One of Mary’s responses to Elizabeth was: “For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed…And His mercy is on those who fear Him.” (Luke 1: 48 & 50).

E: Every: Bring every feeling, every concern and fear to God. Mary did not try to hide her feelings from the angel Gabriel; “Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary,…” (vs. 30). Mary was also honest with Gabriel about a key question/concern she had: “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” (Luke 1:34).

Remember that your changes are no surprise to God. Before you were formed in the womb He knew you (Psalm 139: vs. 13 & 14), and He knew what changes would be part of your life. If Christmas brings more change than sameness, His love is big enough to carry you through.

Compliments of Practical Family Living, Inc.

P.O. Box 1676, Appleton, WI 54912

Sacredness in Sexuality by Mary Lambrecht

Sacredness in Sexuality by Mary Lambrecht, M.S. LMFT

As a young girl, I was obsessed with farms, animals, and particularly horses. On my fourth birthday I became the proud owner of a horse named “Gallop.” Gallop’s head was blue vinyl and his body a wooden stick. I had picture books of horses and riders racing through fields, so Gallop and I ran circles around our house, his mane made of string flopping happily. Then at age ten, I rode my first real horse. We cantered through big, real fields and I grasped real, coarse, mane-hair. Thereafter, when I rode Gallop the stick-horse, the larger, real horse experience was foremost in my mind, informing my imagination and influencing my plans to ride that big, real horse soon again.

This story illustrates what C.S. Lewis, in Weight of Glory calls “Transposition.” Transposition, according to Lewis, is a higher system informing a lower system, or a richer medium informing a poorer medium. Just as the big real horse informed my pretend horsemanship more powerfully than Gallop the stick horse or my picture book did, Lewis challenges us to allow higher, Godly ideals to inform our lower, earthly experiences. Examples Lewis gives of transposition include a cathedral informing an architect’s drawing, or an orchestral symphony informing a piano player’s etude. The point of all this, Lewis surmises, is that the lower medium can be only fully understood and appreciated, if we know the higher medium (Weight of Glory, p. 61).

So how do these thoughts relate to sexuality?

God’s true plan for sexuality also stems from a higher medium (God’s love) informing a lower medium (man’s expression of this love through sexuality). Sometimes this order is reversed. When we position sexuality as the higher system, thereby putting love for the other as secondary, and also minimizing the concept of God’s love, we rob ourselves of the awe, mystery and God-intended plan for sexuality. As Lewis points out: “The brutal man can never by analysis find anything but lust in love” (p. 64). Similarly, in his book, A Final Word on Love, Bruce Kokko states: “The euphoria we have in God’s Love supersedes all others, and, what’s more, lasts forever” (p. 15). Lewis’ concept of transposition is fully represented in the apostle John’s words: “We love because He first loved us” (I John 4:19).

What does it practically mean then to have the love of God (the higher medium) inform our love (the lower medium), and more specifically the expression of that love through sexuality? Rob Bell points out in his book, Sex God, that as a bride and groom give themselves sexually to one another after they are married, the couple’s true power is derived from this exclusivity (p. 139).

Bell points out that in the ancient Jewish culture, couples were married under the chuppah: a wedding canopy that symbolized the holy covering of God. The chuppah further represented protection, mercy, and grace. Bell further states “when sex is taken out from under the chuppah, when it’s isolated from its God-intended context, it loses its mystery” (p. 142). God compares this marital mystery with Christ loving and giving himself up for the church, “holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5: 25-29). The higher (Christ and the church) informs the lower (the union of husband and wife). When we bring sexuality out from under God’s protective plan (marriage), we lose touch with the higher joy and purpose for sexuality. As Bell bluntly states: “When you take sex out from under the chuppah, all you are left with is mechanics” (p. 141).

Society’s sexual messages are often disrespectful of sexuality as a sacred, holy expression between husband and wife. But the lower message of sex within today’s society cannot overpower the higher message of God’s original plan for sex. When we risk reaching for God’s higher purposes in life, when we place our wooden stick horses in the corner, and climb onto real galloping horses, sacredness influences sexuality. Husband and wife become one flesh…a profound, holy mystery (Ephesians 5: 31 & 32).


Weight of Glory by: C.S. Lewis

SexGod by: Rob Bell

A Final Word on Love by: Bruce J. Kokko


Compliments of Practical Family Living, Inc.

P.O. Box 1676, Appleton, WI 54912 (920) 720-8920

Faith of Our Children: A Model for Home Devotions

Mary Lambrecht, M.S. LMFT

“Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. And if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” This was the childhood prayer that I dutifully recited each night before bed. It brought mixed emotions to me. How could I fall asleep, trusting God to “keep” my soul (which had connotations of safety) but then also worry if I might die in my sleep? And yet this prayer, along with others that my mother taught me, helped to form a habit of including God in my everyday life. As Christian parents, the mandate to “train up a child in the way he should go….” (Proverbs 22:6) can be both daunting and exciting. While raising three daughters, I remember sometimes feeling worried if my husband and I were teaching them Biblical concepts in such a way that would be applicable to their lives. Recently I asked my now grown daughters about their perceptions of our family’s devotions. They were kind and honest about what worked …and what failed! Following are some thoughts, ideas and suggested resources on home devotions for children in the early elementary school ages.

1. Consistency and brevity are important. In our zeal to raise Godly children in an increasingly ungodly world, we can forget some practical parenting realities. Twenty to thirty minutes might be a recommended time frame. Keeping home devotions at the same time each day (e. g., after the dinner meal) or on the same day of the week helps children with developing core concepts around predictability and trust.

2. Children’s Bibles, short storybooks based on the Bible, and stories with practical, moral messages can be effective resources. Children can take turns picking the story to be read by the parent. When the child can read, have her read some of the resource being used. This builds her confidence and helps her to hide the Word in her heart (Psalm 119:11).

3. Parents can follow the reading time with reflective questions. “What stood out to you about this story?” or “does this story remind you of anything that happened to you?” suggest to children that their perceptions are valued, and that Biblical concepts relate to real life. Questions that merely draw out facts on people, places, or historical Biblical details, (i.e. “what are the names of the twelve tribes of Israel?”) need to be used with discernment. My youngest adult daughter stated to me: “I had to concentrate so hard on remembering the names of everything in the Old Testament, so I wouldn’t feel stupid when the questions were asked. Sometimes, I missed the point of the whole thing!” Whoops!!!

4. Include prayer time. Encouraging young children to “tell Jesus something that happened today” or “tell Jesus how you feel about ______” are some ways to help children articulate their heart-felt thoughts and feelings.

5. The late Fred Rogers, from the television show “Mister Roger’s Neighborhood” shares in his book The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers that he once broke a fig bar in half and said to the camera: “I wish all of you could eat this with me.” It then struck him how in a symbolic way, he was sharing the Eucharist with his young audience. Our families can also symbolically share the Eucharist together. Whether devotions incorporates a family meal, or pizza or popcorn… “breaking bread” together can build spiritual bonding.

6. As illustrated in #3, mistakes happen in family devotions and children may later tease their parents about them… but they survive them! God teaches parents through family devotions too. He doesn’t require perfection from us…just a heart that desires to please Him.

Ask the Lord to show you His ideas for your unique family devotional plan. As their loving Creator, He knows how your children’s minds and hearts will best grasp His ways. He will guide you. He will also show us, even in our adult parental role, how we are beloved children of God (I John 3: 1 & 2) and that as we parent our children, He will also parent us.


1. A Children’s Bible. Check with your local Christian bookstore or for suggestions and recommendations.

2. David and I Talk To God, Psalms for Children by Elspeth Campbell Murphy

3. Poems and Prayers for the Very Young by Martha Alexander

4. The New Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes by Kenneth N. Taylor (Moody)

5. The Book of Virtues by William J. Bennett (Simon and Schuster)

Compliments of Practical Family Living, Inc.

Throwing Off Cloaks Of Unforgiveness

The writer of Hebrews, in chapter 12 vs. 1, exhorts us to “throw off anything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” He then tells us that we are not alone in this race set before us– that Jesus went ahead of us enduring the pain and shame of the cross, and opposition from sinful men. What might God be asking us to “throw off”? On Palm Sunday, when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, the people “threw off” their cloaks on the ground. What might be our old, worn, sin-infested garments, that could be hindering us from running the race that He has specifically appointed for us? One common old garment or hindrance is an attitude of unforgiveness toward someone. It is difficult to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:29) when you have been hurt by someone that God is calling you to love. Without forgiveness, our love is incomplete.

So what exactly is forgiveness? Forgiveness is first accepting our own hurt and pain as valid. The very fact that we are in a position to forgive someone, means that we are in pain. If we invite the Lord to bear the pain with us, we will find that His comfort and love go very deep. He soothes the sharp sting-that acute, knife-like feeling that often accompanies a deep hurt. He bears it with us. We are not alone.

Secondly, forgiveness is acknowledging that we are all-even our enemies or those who have hurt us-equal in human worth and value before God. Likewise, we are all sinners. In John chapter eight, Jesus said to the onlookers who were ready to stone the woman caught in adultery: “Let the one who is without sin, cast the first stone.” The onlookers put their stones down and walked away.

Thirdly, forgiveness is canceling the debt that we have against someone who has wronged us. It is to say in our hearts-“You owe me nothing-not even an apology. Even in my thoughts, I will not harbor bitterness or resentment against you.”

What are the benefits to forgiveness?” Author Richard Dobbins states that forgiveness “frees us from our own overwhelming anger and hatred toward the offender.” Anger, hatred, obsessive thoughts about the offense, or calculating a plan to “get even” entangles us and hinders us. We are, on some level, re-traumatizing ourselves. Instead of running our God-appointed race with joy, we sentence ourselves to an emotional prison. This makes it hard to move forward with our lives.

Corrie Ten Boom, the Dutch Christian who hid Jews in her home in an effort to shield them from Hitler’s regime, was eventually imprisoned at Ravensbruck, a German concentration camp. She endured severe, inhuman abuse. Her sister, Betsie, had died at that very camp. After her release, she was speaking at a church in Munich. Afterward, one of her former captors came up to her and introduced himself as one of the guards at Ravensbruck. Since the war, he had become a Christian. He extended his hand to Corrie, and asked, “Will you forgive me?” Author Cynthia Heald, in her book, A Woman’s Journey to the Heart of God describes Corrie’s response:

And I stood there-I whose sins had every day to be forgiven-and could not. Betsie had died in that place-could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking? I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do. I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion-I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will. “Jesus, help me!” I prayed silently. And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then the healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.

After the people threw off their cloaks for Jesus on Palm Sunday, their hearts and actions were one of praise and worship: “Hosanna-Hosanna to the Son of David!” When Corrie threw off unforgiveness to her former captor, the Lord supplied her with the strength to accept his hand. When we throw off unforgiveness and trust Him to fill our pain, He will teach us how to love the ones who hurt us. The old “cloaks” of revenge, obsessive thoughts, and painful memories, will no longer have as great a power over us. Our lips too, can more easily shout “Hosanna!” as we move on in His calling on our lives.

Compliments of Practical Family Living, Inc.

Women, Grief and Jesus

Mary Lambrecht, M.S. LMFT


In the Gospel of Luke, chapter 7: 11-17, a widow is grieving the death of her only son. Research shows that a parent outliving a child is one of the most difficult sorrows to bear. This particular woman had also lost her husband. In ancient history, a widow relied on her sons to provide for her, so not only was this woman grieving, but she most likely was also filled with anxiety about her financial future. This is complex grief. However, while her dead son was being carried out in the midst of a large crowd, Jesus and his disciples came upon them. Reflecting on Jesus’ reaction to the woman and also to her son, can bring us comfort, hope and guidance in times of grief:

In spite of the large crowd, Jesus saw the woman. We can expect Jesus to individually notice us when we are hurting.

Jesus had compassion on the woman. He told her not to weep. We can expect the Lord’s compassion to surpass the depth of our pain. Also see John 11: 33-36, where Jesus weeps over the death of Lazarus, Mary and Martha’s brother.

Jesus asks the young man to rise up, “and he presented him to his mother.” Grief robs and steals, but Jesus gives back to us. When Jesus walked the earth, He sometimes gave back through raising the dead person to life again. Though this is obviously not the norm for modern day Christians, we can nonetheless expect that Jesus will fill the emptiness that loss brings, with life giving purpose.

No doubt many in this “large crowd” attempted to comfort this woman. But Luke only makes specific mention of the compassion of Jesus. When our hearts are grieving, turning to Jesus for comfort will help us not to put unrealistic expectations on others’ ability to soothe us.

When my mother lost my brother, her only son, we had our own personal, loving “crowd of people” that surrounded us. But we soon realized that no human being could possibly understand the many complex layers of emotional, mental, and physical cues that could suddenly catch us unawares and overwhelm us. Sometimes calling on the name of Jesus with every breath…simply because maybe that’s all we have strength to do…to just breathe…is one way to allow the depth of Christ’s compassion to fill every moment. As Jesus’ love begins to fill the emptiness left by loss, strength and purpose for living will slowly return.

Jesus’ reaction to the boy and the boy’s response, is also noteworthy. Jesus asked the boy to “arise” (vs. 14). The story continues with “so he who was dead sat up and began to speak.” There is a time, when as grieving women, we need to trust that Jesus’ deep compassion for our loss is enough to help us “arise” and move forward once again. Jesus wants to give life back to us. How this life will look will be different for every woman, and Jesus will lovingly help us take those first, faltering, forward steps.

Perhaps there are some women reading this to whom Jesus is calling to “arise” out of a piece of their grief, and receive a piece of life from Jesus. But others may simply need Jesus to notice them, to draw them out from the crowd, to fill them with His compassion. As women, whatever your need in your loss may be, Jesus is deeply moved by it. Like this widow with her only son, He sees you, He has compassion on you, and over time, He will restore life back to you.

Compliments of Practical Family Living, Inc.

Ten Lessons For Healthy Relationships

By: Mary Lambrecht, M.S. LMFT

Combining God’s Truth with sound relational principles can help us build healthy relationships. The following principles have been gleaned from various contexts that God has graciously allowed me to serve. These contexts include in my marriage, as a mother, a teacher, and as a marriage and family therapist. May they bring encouragement and hope to you as well.

  1. Loving touch, practical help, validating feelings, and simply being present with a suffering loved one are appreciated first before attempting to problem solve. When God’s prophet Elijah was very discouraged, God sent an angel to first touch him, and then to give him food (I Kings 19: 5-7). Lastly, He lovingly challenged Elijah (vs. 9).
  2. A child’s anger can be a signal that child/parent attachment needs strengthening. God “gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them in the fold of His garment” (Isaiah 40:11). Make time to touch, verbally affirm, and enjoy your child.
  3. Family devotions around the dinner table can be a symbolic way of sharing communion.       Families who invite Jesus, the living bread of Bethlehem to their family table, make room for Him to touch hungry, weary places in their homes.
  4. Transition, by nature, is unsettling. When families fasten themselves to Jesus, the chief cornerstone (I Peter 2:4), they are better able to navigate through uncharted waters. Keeping an old, familiar tradition in the new routine of daily life can also ease the adjustment.
  5. Society emphasizes gender equality, but young women still need to feel beautiful.       A father communicating this affirmation to his daughter is very important in her ability to think the truth about herself.
  6. A willful decision to practice healthier behaviors sometimes needs to occur before we feel like doing them. Examples could be cutting off an extra-marital affair, complying with medication, or being honest yet respectful about our needs and desires.       God blesses obedience. In time, feelings will catch up with new behaviors.
  7. When sexuality is separate from God’s protective plan (marriage), we lose touch with the higher joy and purpose for sexuality. When we risk reaching for God’s higher purpose in sex, sacredness influences sexuality and husband wife become one flesh…a profound, holy mystery (Ephesians 5: 31, 32).
  8. Boundaries around time, activities and tasks help to bring joy and order back to overstressed families. After Jesus fed four thousand people, He then sent them away (Mark 8:9).       Boundaries can mean ending a task.
  9. Addictive behaviors, such as substance abuse, overwork or overspending can be an attempt to fill empty emotional places. God can fill those empty places with life-giving purpose and release us from captivity (Isaiah 51: 13, 14).

During a recent therapy session my brand new cell phone nestled in my purse, sang loudly. I had no clue how to turn it off. As the client continued talking, I simply picked up my purse, opened my office door, set my purse with singing phone out in the hall, and closed the door. I didn’t think a thing of it…until later.

Really?? Did I really put my purse with my phone out in the hall? I felt mortified!

But God reminded me of another story. I once heard of a therapist that kept a bag of golf clubs in the corner of his office. Inevitably clients would ask: “So, you play golf?” “Nope” the therapist would admit. “I can’t hit a golf ball to save my life. But I keep trying. Someday I’ll get the hang of it.”

Lesson #10: God sometimes uses our inadequacies to give others hope. Hope to keep trying. Hope that tomorrow we’ll try something different, and it might work better. More importantly, God uses my weaknesses, vulnerabilities and even my sins to summon me first to Him. Any upsets and also any joyful moments in our relationships, are first marked by His loving footprints. Be encouraged, dear reader, for He promises: “I will go before you, and make the crooked places straight” (Isaiah 45:2).



Mary Lambrecht, M.S. LMFT, is a Texas and Wisconsin State-licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, currently with Gracepoint Marriage and Family Center in The Woodlands, Texas. Her counseling focus is with couples experiencing crisis or conflict, and individuals and families challenged with grief and loss, depression, and stressful life transitions. Mary and her husband, Rev. Tom Lambrecht, were in pastoral ministry together for almost 30 years, and Tom now serves with Good News in The Woodlands, Texas. They have three grown daughters. With Christ as her cornerstone (Isaiah 28:16), Mary counts it a great privilege to be used by God through counseling, writing, and speaking.


By: Mary Lambrecht, M.S. LMFT

This seminar is based on I John 4:18.  It was formerly presented at: Sewanee Seminary, Sewanee, TN, March 2009; Faith Community UNC, Greenville, WI, March 2008 & Faith UMC, Neenah, WI, February 2006. Also: see series of nine radio programs downloadable on

Loving one another with God’s love can challenge us, especially during conflict, pain, and difficult circumstances. These seminars will explore ways to understand and communicate with challenging people. Jesus and His interactions with Mary and Martha prior to Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, will serve as a Biblical relational model for these seminars. Mary’s message will conclude with the testimony of her brother giving his heart to Jesus Christ, shortly before he died of AIDS in 1991.


By: Mary Lambrecht, M.S. LMFT

Death and other losses can feel overwhelming and consuming, especially during the early stages of grief. This one-day retreat explores how God can companion the grief-stricken individual. Drawing from her own personal experience and years of clinical practice, Mary shares how scripture, and inviting Jesus to be our gatekeeper in our grief (based on John 10), can help us walk through our losses.


By: Mary Lambrecht, M.S. LMFT

This one-day retreat, based on I Peter 5:6 & 7, explores the meaning of “casting the whole of our care” upon God so that our fears and anxieties no longer master us. Discussion will include common causes to fear and anxiety, and practical and psychological treatment that align with Biblical truths and principles.

To schedule Mary Lambrecht, Marriage and Family Therapist for your Seminar or Retreat contact her at:

Gracepoint Marriage and Family Center

9201 Grogan’s Mill Road

The Woodlands, TX 77380

Desk: 281-466-8651

Cell: 920-475-6001





Drunk With Hope: God’s Help for Addiction and Emotional Wounds

more more more“Tony” became increasingly involved in his job, to the sacrifice of time with his spouse, children and self-care. In childhood he was primarily rewarded and noticed for accomplishments, rather than loved for just being him. Addictive work habits were familiar to him and offered reassurance for his sense of self worth. However, his compulsiveness with work eventually fell short of filling empty emotional places within him.   Emotional distancing (from both self and family) and habitual overwork even took their toll on the very goal he yearned for; a dream job never materialized. This husband and father was left with finally exploring the fact that God loves him for who he is, not for what he does. The truth that God loved Tony before Tony did anything to “deserve” it–by sending His Son into the world (I John 4: 9)–was the beginning of healing for him and his family.

Emotional wounds are often at the heart of an addiction. Addiction is the “compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol).”(The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 1998) Furthermore, the verb form “addict” means, “to devote or surrender (oneself) to something habitually or excessively.”(Ibid) Often, the excessive use of something is an attempt to fill unmet relational needs. Relational brokenness and emotional wounds go hand-in-hand. Alcohol, drugs, work, shopping, caffeine, pornography, or unhealthy relational attachments can temporarily fill painful loneliness, sadness or anger that result from relational disappointments.   Ultimately however, these substances and compulsions fail us. One of the first steps in freedom from addiction is to ask God to help us identify those places inside of us that are empty and wounded. A qualified Christian therapist can be helpful in this process.

Carolyn Rose, from Love In Action (, a ministry devoted to healing from sexual brokenness, believes that every individual struggles to some degree with addictions, “because we are all wounded and the wounds come out in different areas depending on our life circumstances.” Rose states that when the evil one spots our vulnerability, he is masterful at implanting lies that target those areas of woundedness. These lies are in direct opposition to how God really views us. Neil Anderson, in his book Victory Over the Darkness, identifies truths from scripture to help us replace these lies. Following is a partial list that Anderson suggests for healing from emotional wounds:

  • I am a son (daughter) of God; God is spiritually my Father (Romans 8:14, 15; Galatians 3:26; 4:6).
  • I am an expression of the life of Christ because He is my life (Colossians 3:4).
  • I am chosen of God, holy and dearly loved (Colossians 3:12; I Thessalonians 1:4).
  • I am a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).
  • I am a member of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession (1 Peter 2:9,10).

The prophet Isaiah assures us in Chapter 51 that our Creator, the one who is powerful enough to establish the earth and put the stars in the sky, can surely release us from any captivity (vs. 13 & 14). This includes addiction! God promises to make our desert places blossom and our barren wilderness beautiful (vs.3). When addiction ultimately fails us and tears us down, God’s truth and love builds us up.

Depression In the Soul: Six Steps to Freedom

Woman-with-Depression“Wake up, you sleepyhead city! Wake up, you sleepyhead people! King-Glory is ready to enter.” (Psalm 24, The Message).

In these words from The Message Bible translation, Eugene Peterson illustrates a hibernating city and a hibernating people. Inactivity, listlessness and unawareness prompt a needed pronouncement for a time of release.

Depression in the human soul can be a type of hibernation. Our responses to outside stimuli are slowed and even shut down. Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and low self-esteem beset us. Focusing inward, body, soul, and mind sleeps.

The book of Revelation, chapter five, speaks of Jesus taking the scroll out of God’s right hand and breaking its seven seals. The scroll represents the redemptive plan of God in Jesus Christ. Only Jesus is worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals (Rev.5:9) because of redeeming us through His own blood.

God has also authored the scroll of our own lives. We are written on His heart. Through Christ’s blood we are redeemed from sin and set free from the seals of bondage. Whatever seals our minds and hearts from being fully alive can be broken. The elders’ and angels’ response in Revelation to the opening of the scroll was to focus not on themselves, but on the Lamb: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!” (Rev.5:12)

When depression seals us with feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, perhaps the following steps could be helpful:


  1. Spend extra time with God. Reading in the book of Psalms, listening to praise and worship music and prayer, are some ways to reconnect with Him.
  2. Practice hopeful, positive thinking. Ask God to take negative thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) and focus on past ways where God proved His faithfulness to you.
  3. Ask God to show you one, small, practical step you could take to move forward in an area where you feel stuck.
  4. Reevaluate eating, sleeping, and exercise habits. Are they healthy and in balance?
  5. Reconnect with a loved one or a friend who is emotionally supportive and comfortable to be with.
  6. If depression persists, it could be a sign of a mental health issue and/or a chemical imbalance. A licensed mental health professional can help determine if a combination of counseling and medication could restore your personal well-being and possible chemical imbalance.


If we let Him, God is able to take loving control of our lives. The former “scrolls” of self-defeating thinking and behaviors can be changed to allow Him to reveal His unique plan, purpose and power for our lives.


“Who is this King-Glory?

God, armed and battle-ready.

Who is this King-Glory?

God of the angel armies!

He is King-Glory.”

(The Message, Eugene Peterson, Psalm 24)

Morning Star: All Through the Night

By Mary Lambrecht, M.S. LMFT

“Look up.  See the designs of God’s hands.  The Bear, Orion, the Pleiades.  Trace the constellations with your finger…
See how the tall cottonwoods wear stars in their bare branches,
Fancy in the dancing black night.”

Take a deep breath and look and look and look.
Are you dizzy with the looking?

These lines from the poem “All Through the Night” by Nancy White Carlstrom cast a reminder to us of just how big, how powerful, how creative, God is.  Reverand Rob Renfroe states; “And that God—the God who is big enough to speak all of that into existence…says you matter to Him.  He says I matter to Him.” (Good News Magazine, November/December 2010).

We matter so much to God that He sent His Son as a baby born of Mary, as the Root, the Offspring of David, the Bright Morning Star, (Revelation 22:16) to comfort us in all trouble, to bring light to any personal darkness.

Even as a newborn babe sleeping in a feeding trough wrapped in strips of cloth, darkness and suffering stalked Him.  Herod, determining to kill Jesus but under the pretense of wanting also to worship our Messiah, commissioned the wise men to find this Jesus, and then to report back to him His whereabouts.  God picked not His mighty constellations, but one star to guide the wise men.  And this one star guided them to Bethlehem.  Scripture states they found the baby Jesus, and fell to their knees and worshiped Him.  But “when it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.” (Matthew 2: 11-12).

From the moment of the manger, to snide rejections of Pharisees, to dozing disciples in Gethsemane’s pain, to the incalculable cruelty of the Cross, Jesus knew suffering. Because the same God who put the stars in their places deeply cared for each one of us, Jesus grew from a tiny babe in Bethlehem, to be a man.  A man acquainted with sorrow.

Why do these truths matter for you, for me, today?  They matter because Jesus suffered darkness on earth, for the purpose of bringing us out of darkness into light.  He promises that if we believe Him, we will not remain in darkness (John 12:46).  Light of the World and Bright Morning Star, Jesus illumines our personal darkness and shines the beacon of hope—eternal light and eternal life in God’s presence.

These words matter, because this same God who created the heavens called each one of us for a unique purpose here on earth. (Isaiah 42:6).  Sometimes it’s easier to grasp our final purpose of Eternal Life, than it is to grasp or endure the “what on earth am I here for?” purpose.  To this earthly question, and to the sorrows and trials that often beset it, He promises us in Isaiah 11:2:

His Spirit of Wisdom
His Spirit of Understanding
His Spirit of Counsel and Strength
His Spirit of Knowledge
And….Love.  For God is Love  (I John 4:16).

“In the pale light of a sliver moon we walk
out into the night.
Sssh.  Be very quiet.
Listen to the sounds floating through the
Air like angel’s wings.

Do you feel tiny under the great celestial roof of the earth?
Yes, we are small but never alone, and
Dressed in glory like the stars.
All our names are known.

In the darkness under the blanket of the Night sky
We, all creatures, great and small, slip
Softly into shelter, sing sweetly into sleep.

Praise God all through the night.”

Excerpts from “All Through the Night” by Nancy White Carlstrom (Wheaton Magazine, Autumn 2010).