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So here it is, a brand new blog.
Again.

I started a mental health blog about a month ago, then decided that would be a lot to keep up with. So I decided to start a new personal blog where I will focus on, among other things, mental illness. Why? Because I’m working on a new book project about mental illness and the Christian Church. More about that later.

Life here has been rapidly changing. My 14-year-old niece got herself into some pretty serious trouble, and was going to move in with us, but that seems to have gone bump in the night. It has been a harsh reminder of what a troubled kid I was, really, until my early twenties. I have tried to respond to her and be there for her in the ways I wished others would have responded to me at that age, but I’ve got to level with you, it’s frustrating.

When I was her age, I had a few things to my advantage. My family was troubled, but my parents were together, and I grew up knowing my family would not give up on me I had my faith in Christ, and even though I fell away time and again, the Truth kept me from afloat. Amy Grant was my childhood hero – that’s as tame as it gets. But my niece doesn’t have childhood heroes worth looking up to. Much of her music is depressing. She believes in God, but doesn’t seem to know how to apply that to her life. Her parents are divorced, and her mother seems to have written her off, hopefully temporarily. And perhaps worst of all, her dad never seems to be able to set rules and boundaries and stand by them.

I tried to jump in as a parental figure, but found that it just pushed her away, so I’ve gone back to being Fun Aunt Julie. If she ever does move in, I suppose that will have to change, but for now, I feel like that’s who I need to be.

The thing that really struck me recently was the fact that for so long I have been asking God to put me back in youth ministry. How many of us ask God for things with no strings attached? I’d venture to say very few. Instead of, “Put me to work for Your Kingdom, Lord. Whatever!” we too often say, “Put me to work for Your Kingdom, Lord, and here’s how I’d like you to do it…”

Not that we shouldn’t talk to God and share our desires. But I’ve had to reexamine my heart in the wake of all of this and realize that while I may not be touring the country speaking to teenage girls, I’ve got a teenage girl of my very own and she is very much my ministry. My niece, my friend, my ministry.

We’ve got to learn how to care for a single heart if we’re ever going to care for a flock.

Writing is the same way. I have friends that travel the country week after week, speaking about their books, and I wonder when my time will come. But long ago, long before my first book was even written, God told me that if I would write about Him, and write what He tells me to write, that I would be successful.

So here’s my new blog, Jesus. I want You to trust me in the little things, so we cantake a gentle step onto the next level of this ladder we’re climbing together.

Ah, it’s good to see all of you again.

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