2 Corinthians 3:2

You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men. 2 Corinthians 3:2

Saturday, April 15, 2023

No Longer A Spirit of Fear


Most of my life has been spent in varying degrees of chaos. Even when external elements are calm, the inner landscape of my mind is at war. You see, I have Schizoaffective Disorder. By definition, “Schizoaffective Disorder is a combination of symptoms of schizophrenia and a mood disorder such as depression or bipolar disorder.” Just like anyone else, I have good days and bad days. I struggle through whatever comes each day. I was diagnosed in 2003, a year after the death of my father. Losing my father sent me into a spiral of grief that was almost insurmountable. I spent a full year in a psychotic daze. In that false reality, my dad was alive and came to me daily. He talked with me. He sat with me, just being present. He took me to places in his past and showed me things that weren't real. I called these times “dreams” but actually, they were visions of a grieving mind where a little girl pretended her father was still alive, and she was still safe, and the world was still manageable. After a year, I was unable to tell which of my worlds was real. I was hospitalized, diagnosed, medicated, and then sent home to learn to live with a new “normal.” I have experienced severe depression and anxiety attacks since childhood. At age 60, I am still receiving treatment for depression and mostly stable emotionally and mentally, despite my diagnosis. Despite the fact that my illness is ongoing, I want to make it very clear that Schizoaffective Disorder does not define me. I am a human being like any other. I laugh, cry, love those around me, and carry on living the best I can. What does define me is that I am a woman of faith and a Bible-believing child of the living God! 

Each human will have their own difficult roads to traverse. Each one will be tested and tried and challenged according to God's will. One of my challenges just happens to be a mental illness. It affects me almost daily, but it does NOT defeat me. It has not caused me to lie down or give up. Why? Because God the Father has me in His hand. His love heals my chaotic emotions even though He allows this illness to be a part of my life. The more I am in God's presence, the more healing I feel. He has me. I have Him and no matter what might come tomorrow, His love will see me through. Living with an illness like mine can be challenging. Over the years, I have been hospitalized several times. I have been on medication since my early 20s and receive treatment on a monthly basis. Some days the emotional anguish is unbearable. Some days, I pray for God to take me home. Some days I am not in a state adequately at peace to be around others. On those days I isolate myself and spend as much time as I need in prayer and meditation. God gave each of us a mind to find what works for us. Any obstacle, like a mental illness, can be worked around and beyond. First, I had to accept that the illness I am facing, is not going away. God can use hardship to accomplish His will for my life, though I may not see it or understand His purpose. After accepting what IS, I had to learn to trust that God loves me. He will walk through it with me, and He intends all things to work together for my ultimate good. He became to me the father I had lost. He was already my Father, as He is Father to all, but until my breakdown, I hadn't known that in my heart. I trust my Father to hold my hand through whatever life brings my way. He has already proven faithful to His promise.

Karen Butler Ogle

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Lord, It’s Hard To Be Humble


Sometimes I wonder if I am a proud person. I often credit only myself with the things I have accomplished, even when I know God was involved. It is not surprising because human beings are a proud people. We have also learned to be a stubborn people. The Lord God even called His chosen Israelites “a stiff-necked people.” (Exodus 32:9 ESV) Since the beginning, in the Garden of Eden, humanity has chosen again and again to embrace pride and forge their own way ahead, even when it was blatantly against the instructions of God. Do you think humans have changed much since the Old Testament days? Personally, I don’t think we have. I confess that, too often, I seek my own way instead of asking God for His guidance. Too often, I take credit for things I know I could never have done without God’s help.

Proverbs 16:18

“Pride goes before destruction,
    and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

The admonition in Proverbs 16:18 is absolutely true. I have tripped over my pride many times throughout life and fallen face first on the ground. It is preferable to work at keeping a humble heart than take a humbling fall from the high place of pride. As with so many worthy aspirations, humility has to be worked for, because pride is the default human nature.

Isaiah 66:2

“But this is the one to whom I will look:
    he who is humble and contrite in spirit
    and trembles at my word.“

God loves a humble heart. A humble heart is a teachable heart. A malleable and changeable heart is necessary to grow spiritually and in faith. God is constantly sending or allowing events into the lives of His children to draw them closer to Him.  Closeness to the Father is needed to serve Him in a  meaningful way. More than anything, I desire a true servant’s heart. Daily, I battle my own inborn pride in an effort to be of use to God and to those he sends across my path.

Having a humble heart helps inspire obedience to God the Father. Understanding that He is omniscient and wiser than humans helps accomplish obedience. He knows the right and perfect path for each person. In order to be obedient there must be trust in His wisdom and goodness. Obedience brings blessings and peace. In 2 Chronicle 7:14 God says, “If my people, which are called by my name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” What a promise! Becoming humble before God is a necessary part of an intimate relationship with Him. God has not changed from the time of the Israelites. He is still approachable. He will still respond to a humble heart. He will still forgive sins and heal lives

Allowing humility before others is not an easy task. Humility goes against the fleshly human nature. Our society perversely teaches from childhood that pride in self and accomplishments is desirable. Having pride in a name, a gender, a nationality, or intelligence is the norm in the world today. Pause and remember that nothing is random. Everything about humanity is intentional. God made all with intent to serve Him. No “accomplishment” is achieved completely within human control. God is the source of identity, gifts, talents, and even the value of all His children.

Dear Father,

I come before You as a being a little lower than the angels. Nothing about me, in or of myself, is worthy of pride. Everything I have and everything I am is because You created me exactly the way You want me. Help me, Lord to humble myself before You and my fellow human beings. Help me to serve in the way You think best. Help me to serve others according to Your will. Remove any leftover bits of pride from my heart, Lord, that I might be useful to You.


Karen Butler Ogle

His Grace Is Sufficient

 Each human being has his or her own cross to bear. Living in a fallen world exposes us to all manner of heartbreak, sorrow, illness, and tr...