Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Messy Me: Part 2

OK, where was I?
Ah, yes! I decided to try reducing the dosage of my anti-depressant.

Going from being a person who cries all the time, to one who never cries was a little weird for me.
I thought something was wrong because I didn't cry at times I deemed appropriate. (Sad movies, touching stories, etc.) I began to label myself as "artificially happy". Because I didn't think it was normal to feel good most of the time.
So I began taking less of my meds. My goal was to be able to cry at the appropriate times, without falling into the pit I was in before - when I cried uncontrollably.

When I was at the point of taking nearly nothing, I thought I was good - because I hadn't fallen into that pit. However, I soon discovered "no-uncontrollable-crying" was not a good standard by which to measure how healthy I am.
I was camping with some friends when the realization hit me. No one was being "unkind" to me, but I kept hearing remarks which led me down the path toward negative self-talk.
Not to worry, though! I knew how to tell myself the truth about those remarks. I knew how to combat my tendency to operate with a depressed mind. And I was successful.
No fits of uncontrolled crying!
Yet, as I moved through the weekend, I found myself totally unmotivated to do anything. I was worn out and all I really wanted to do was sleep.
Just be alone, and sleep.
I'm not sure when it occurred to me, but at some point in time I realized what was going on. Yes, I was combating the negativity my mind was hearing. I could go through the appropriate exercises. But it was totally exhausting me! The mental and emotional gymnastics I was performing took a physical toll on me, too. When I finally sat down to talk about it with a friend, the flood gates opened up. And I was not at a loss for tears.

While at the time that weekend seemed like its own kind of pit, when it passed I could totally see God using it for good. Annnnnnd, that's what I'll write about tomorrow.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Messy Me: Here Goes!

OK, so part of the reason I said in yesterday's video that I would write about my depression journey this week is - so I'd do it!
I've been thinking about it a lot, meaning to write about it, but just not taking (having!) the time to follow through. HOWEVER, yesterday I said it, so now I'm doing it.

For those of you who don't know, in the spring of 2011 I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. In retrospect, I think I have probably been struggling with it all my life but I just thought that's how I was. I thought it was normal to feel the way I felt. But the tender and loving pushes from some instrumental people in my life convinced me otherwise, and I finally went to see a psychiatrist.
The result of my doctor's visit was that I began understanding anxiety and depression. I started practicing how to think correctly. I embarked on a journey of learning how to talk myself out of the negativity to which I had grown so accustomed.

AND, I started taking an anti-depressant.

There it is. Big and bold and stand-outish. I take an anti-depressant.

I was so afraid to begin the meds. So ashamed of what people might think. Oh, I had no problem with other people needing anti-depressants. But I thought if I needed them, my faith must somehow not be strong enough. There must be something seriously wrong with me as a human being. It was just another indicator to me that I am not good enough.
So, my Mr. Wonderful went and filled my first prescription for me. (Because I used to work at the pharmacy, and I was too embarrassed to let my former co-workers know that I am such a mess.)

It took some time but, when the meds began taking effect, I could not believe the difference they made for me. Instead of immediately resorting to my old way of negative thinking and self-deprecation, I felt like the medicine gave me time to think reasonably. It was like a whole new world had opened up to me. And I was loving it!
However, as time went on and I had conversations with some different people, I began to believe it was not a good thing for me to be on my meds. (Really, I was just hearing their opinions. And not thinking rationally.) So after I'd been taking them for a year, I took myself off of them. I figured: I had a year under my belt of practicing positive self-talk and reasonable thinking. It was time to see if I could do it on my own.

Uh, I couldn't.

A family trip to Disney, and trying to stay positive in my own (lack of) strength convinced me - I had just conducted the dumbest experiment of my adult life.
I returned to taking my meds.
And I swore to myself I would never try that again.

Except about a year later, I decided I would just try reducing my dosage. *ahem*
I'll pick up there tomorrow.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Lessons From the Edge

Purple makes everything fun.

We had a Purple Party at Edgewood this week. It was a fund-raiser for the Alzheimer's Association. And since "their color" is purple, I decided to throw a Purple Party!

I can almost hear you asking, How do you have a Purple Party?

It's really quite simple, actually.
You paint golf balls purple, and have a game called Purple Putting.

You gather bowls and chopsticks and purple objects, and have a game called Purple Pass.

You buy purple bean bags and find a purple bowl, and play a game called Purple Pitch.

If your party-goers are really adventurous, you can also find a couple of wheel chairs, purple balloons and energetic volunteers and have a relay game called Purple Push.

Find a singer who is willing to wear purple.

Be sure to ask your volunteers and party-goers to wear purple.

And, don't forget the purple cake!

Yes, do all that and you're sure to discover: Purple makes everything fun. Karen

Thursday, July 25, 2013

He Makes Me Smile

The other day, this picture fell out of my Bible.

I held it and looked at it, and just smiled. Smiled for his funny face. Smiled for his silliness. Smiled for the memory of how hard the photographer at church tried to get a "nice" picture of Matthew with his "First Grade Bible". Smiled for the recollection of God's faithfulness through the journey of raising this crazy kid. Smiled for the hope I have in God's faithfulness for the future of this journey.
For so many reasons, he makes me smile.

Why are you smiling today?


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My Outdoorsman

I've told you before my Josh loves some fishin'.
Have I also mentioned he's taken to making videos of his fishing expeditions and posting them on Youtube? He's got quite a nice channel going - from fishing to turtles.
And this proud momma?
Feels like showing him off today.
I picked this video to show you because I love the intro Josh put together for it. He's so clever! Wonder where he gets it. *ahem!*

Sooooo, here's my outdoorsman!


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Was I Like That?

My kids were all at summer camp last week.

And they had a great time!

I am always anxious to hear about their camp experience, and especially about the relationship they developed with their counselors.
While I know I - as their mother - play a key role in their spiritual growth, I am also fully aware of the benefit of having other people speak Truth and love into their lives. And that is one of the reasons I love camp so much. Because I know godly men and women will love on my kids in a way I - as their mother - cannot.
So I was absolutely delighted when Elizabeth told me how much she loved her counselor, Kristen. Elizabeth told me that Kristen was super pretty and had a beautiful singing voice, but the part where she really lit up was when she told me that Kristen really loves God. Really!
I was looking forward to meeting this counselor, but Elizabeth told me Kristen had left the day before camp ended. Kristen's brother got married this past weekend, and Kristen left early to attend the wedding. Elizabeth said, "It was so sad saying 'Good-bye' to her!" And I could tell my daughter had developed a strong affection for her counselor. I could tell Elizabeth was inspired by Kristen's love for God, and that she was encouraged by the love Kristen had obviously poured into her. And it warmed my heart.
Thanks, Kristen, for being the hands, feet, and heart of Jesus to my girl!

My thoughts went back to summers 21 and 22 years ago - when I was a counselor at the same camp my kids attend - and I wondered, Did my love for God and the girls in my cabin show so brightly that the girls beamed when they talked about me to their moms? Did I shine for Jesus when I was a camp counselor? Was I like that?

Just as quickly my thoughts came back to 2013, and I asked, Am I like that now?

Every day, with every interaction we have, we're given the opportunity to be the hands, feet, and heart of Jesus to other people. Let's shine for Him!


Monday, July 22, 2013

Friday, July 19, 2013

Lessons From the Edge

Ice cream is good for you.

Anyone else missing the cold days of winter?
OK, maybe that's a bit of an overstatement. But it is this week! And, in all seriousness, we need to take special care of our elderly population when it's like this.

So, in the name of taking care of our elderly population, my boss sent me on a special mission this week.
I was taking a group of residents to Target. (We go there once a month so they can do some shopping.) And just before we left, Laura gave me money with instructions to stop on the way back for ice cream. Oh, if you could only have heard the expressions of delight coming from the bus when everyone found out they were going to get FREE ice cream!

We seemed to get through Target in record time, then boarded the bus and went across the parking lot to Steak & Shake. I ordered shakes for everyone and we sat in the restaurant sharing smiles, stories, and laughter. For that 20 minutes, or so, no one would have thought by observing our group that it was miserably hot outside. For just a little while - sipping ice cream shakes - all was right with the world.

And that is why I now believe, ice cream is good for you.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

HE Runs

Originally posted August 1, 2008.

It has delighted my heart to have God show Himself to me in so many ways - thus leading to this "HE" series, which I never intended to start...but I have to go where He leads me! I have been so grateful to God for the ways He has spoken through my most recent post, HE Comforts. If you missed it, click on over and let God speak His love to you.

I woke up this morning, knowing I needed to go running. I have sort of been too lazy busy to run much over the past week or so, and before not running becomes a habit again I knew I needed to get going.
So I did.
As I ran, and enjoyed my iPod, I prayed, and realized how much I was enjoying being with God. Really. I talked with Him and just knew He was running with me.
When I was getting tired and wanted to quit I prayed and asked Him to give me strength, and - seeing the parallel - I asked Him to strengthen me in mothering when I'm tired and I want to quit there, too.
As I was going up a hill, and really wanted to quit, I asked God to call me onward and push me forward. I prayed, Be before me and behind me. Then I smiled and added, And beside me.
I continued on and God brought several people to my mind for whom I needed to pray. As I was getting more tired and thought more about quitting, God was reminding me of friends in tiring situations who are having a hard time persevering. So I prayed for them. God reminded me His power is made perfect in our weakness, so I prayed that He would display His power in the lives and circumstances of these friends of mine - in the midst of their weakness.

I ran a little bit longer than a 5K this morning, and it delighted my heart to consider that HE runs. God was with me every step of the way. It was a sweet time of fellowship as His Spirit prompted me to pray for people and as I truly sensed Him giving me the strength to continue on. And the thing is, God doesn't just run.
HE cleans bathrooms.
HE goes shopping.
HE changes diapers.
HE prepares meals.
HE goes to work.
Whatever you are doing, no matter how mundane, no matter how "nonspiritual," God is right there with you. And I believe He longs to have fellowship with you in every.single.moment.
God is before you, behind you, and beside you. Enjoy His presence today!


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

HE Doesn't Need Options

Originally posted September 9, 2009

Have you ever talked with children about prayer? When we do lessons about prayer in Sunday school, we tell the children that when we pray God will always answer us. Always.
Sometimes He says, Yes.
Sometimes He says, No.
And sometimes He says, Wait.
It's a straight-forward lesson, and the kids seem to get it. The answer will be yes, or no, or wait.

Well, I have recently been praying about something and had become quite frustrated because I didn't think God was answering me. And I didn't get it! I was loving toward Him. I was sincere. I didn't think I was being selfish. All I asked of Him is that He would either confirm or deny the concern in my heart.
But He did neither.
And one evening I expressed my frustration about the situation to Brian. I said, "I just want an answer!!!" Brian looked at me lovingly and said, "Maybe He's saying, Wait."
I sat with that thought for a few seconds and replied, "But I didn't give Him that option. I asked for a confirmation or a denial!"
That's when it hit me. HE doesn't need options. God does not need me to suggest which answer is the best one to give me. HE, alone, knows what is best.
Oh, sometimes I challenge God regarding what He knows is best. Sometimes I forget who I am, and I think I know better than Him. But He is so patient. He waits for me to willingly wait. And in His perfect time (which might not take as long if I would just "get it" a little sooner!) He gives me the Yes, or the No.

How are you doing today? Are you waiting, too? Or fighting the wait? Are you wanting to give God options regarding how He can answer your prayers?
May He cover you with peace, as you trust that His answer is perfect.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

HE More Than Knows

Originally posted on June 8, 2011.

I just started the New Testament in my read-thru-the-Bible-in-a-year program. And I was quickly reminded of an encouraging Truth.

Years ago I found myself pondering the notion that Jesus understands everything I go through in life. And I began wondering. Began doubting. I mean, how could HE understand me? Jesus was never a mother.
How could He possibly know what it's like to have children needing 'this' and 'that' and don't forget 'the other thing'? How could He really know what it's like to feel so desperate to find time alone? Surely Jesus never wanted to change His name so He could go unnoticed. Right?

Love that HE knows what I'm thinking. And knows how to answer.

In the midst of my questioning, I heard someone speak about Mark 1:21-45.
And I was amazed. Jesus does, indeed, understand what my life as a mother is like!
So as I read this passage again last week, I smiled and said to Him, You do know. Ahhh, Jesus, You more than know!

Go ahead and click on the link to read it for yourself, and see what you think!


Monday, July 15, 2013

HE is Enough

Last Thursday my day was filled with visiting Wheaton College with my daughter, and driving back to Michigan. (We drove out there Wednesday evening.)
Saturday I had a family get-together at my house.
Sunday we took our kids to summer camp.
Needless to say, blogging was not something I had time to do. ***big understatement***

Soooooo, this week I am visiting my archives for you and bringing up five posts from the category HE - Knowing God. I pray God will speak to your heart about Himself through these words.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Lessons From the Edge

You shouldn't mess with fireworks.

If you've been around older folks for any amount of time, you probably know they often repeat themselves.

If you've been around older folks for any amount of time, you probably know they often repeat themselves.

Heeee heeee!

Anyway, you probably know this fact.
Well, last Saturday I was at work, and heard lots of repeating. And I do mean lots. I was in the atrium painting signs for a party we're having later this month, and D was there, too. He was reading the paper. Apparently, there was an article about a woman who had been injured on the Fourth of July. Seems emergency personnel found her laying in the middle of the road after a mishap with fireworks.
I know this, because D read and re-read that sentence several times.
And after each recitation of the news article, D exclaimed, "Why would she do that? You shouldn't mess with fireworks. Those things are dangerous. You shouldn't mess with fireworks!" Sometimes he threw in a comment to the effect that this woman should have known better, but he always finished his statement with the same refrain: "You shouldn't mess with fireworks!"

I have to admit, eventually it became sort of comical listening to D.
Don't get me wrong - He's a charming man. I love him to pieces! However, there came a point when I wanted to tell him I got the message, and I was pretty sure every one else did, too. He could move on to another article.
And a new rant.
But I didn't say anything. I just smiled and let him keep on going.

And now I am pleased to bring you a PSA - from D and me!

You shouldn't mess with fireworks.

You're welcome. *wink*


Thursday, July 11, 2013

This Stupid Thing I Have to Do

I was doing some writing a week ago and, when I opened my Documents folder to find my work, I noticed something I hadn't seen before. It was a file called, "This Stupid Thing I Have to Do."
I did a double-take at the title and thought, Hmmmm. Not sure what that's all about.
And I moved on.

I figured it was work one of the kids had saved on the computer from a school project, or something.

A few days later, it all became clear.
You see, Brian and I have given Joshua an assignment this summer to read a book and write a response to each chapter. We came up with this idea as a result of his end-of-the-year report card. Rather than punishment (i.e. taking away privileges) for a poor grade, we wanted to give him a task which would benefit him - from which he might actually grow and learn something valuable. So, Brian picked the book (How to Win Friends and Influence People) and we gave him the assignment.
Annnnnnnd, it would be a major understatement to say, "Joshua was not excited about our choice of assignments."
So, when I opened up my computer to read Joshua's responses to chapters 1, 2, and 3, and I looked at the title he'd used to save his work, I understood. Of course. "This Stupid Thing I Have to Do" was Joshua's assignment. I should have known...

Honestly? I don't really care if he thinks what we're asking him to do is stupid.
*I know we're doing it for his good.
*I know there are some good things he can learn from that book about attitude and the way he relates to people. (His family!)
*I know it would be a useless waste of moaning and complaining if we simply took away electronics.
*I am trusting - one day he will understand. And maybe even be thankful for our efforts to help him grow!

And, I am open to suggestion for another book. He's almost finished with How to Win Friends and Influence People, and we've yet to decide on the next one. Thanks. *grin*


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Today I'm at The Point

I have had the pleasure of meeting a few blog friends in person, and Leah Adams is one of them. I love her heart for Jesus and for women! So when she asked for readers to share their faith story on her blog, I was only too happy to participate. I am delighted to share HIS heart and my story with the other women who enjoy Leah's blog.
Please join me over at Leah's so I can share my faith story with you, too!


Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Humbled. In Aisle 16.

I heard my phone ringing and dug through the groceries sitting on my purse to get to it.

Brian was calling.
"Hola!" (I don't know why I always answer my phone in Spanish. But I do...)
Once he discovered I was still at the grocery store, Brian wanted to know if it was too late for me to get him some shaving cream. Technically, it wasn't. I mean, I was still at the store. But I was nearly finished. And shaving cream was completely on the other side of the store!
Even so, what could I say? It's too far for me to walk?
So I got a few more items from my current aisle and then trucked across the store to the HBA department.

Just as I was about to reach for the shaving cream, I heard my phone again. Only now it was more buried by the recent items I'd grabbed and by the time I picked it up, I'd missed the call.
This time it was Joshua, and I pressed a button to call him back.
"Uh, Mom, are you still at Meijer?"
I wanted to say NO. "Yes."
"Hey, could you get me like four cans of corn?" (He uses corn for bait when he fishes for carp. They like the smell. Did you know corn is the most fragrant vegetable? I learn so many interesting facts from my young fisherman!)
"What about the three cans I bought you the other day that are sitting in the garage?"
"I just want to have a bigger supply. Please, Mom?"
"OK." *Hmph!*
It was just about at this moment when I began to think cell phones are not such a great invention.

I picked up the shaving cream and turned around to go back to the other side of the store - to the BACK of the store where the canned vegetables are located. As I trudged along I began to compose a text in my head which I thought I'd send out to my entire family.
It went something like this:
Unless the thing you need from the store is in an aisle I have not yet come to, it IS too late for you to ask for anything else. You know right where the paper is upon which to write the things you need from the store each week. This call-me-in-the-middle-of-shopping-and-send-me-all-over-the-store gig has got to stop. Love, Mom xxooxxoo
Just as I was pressing 'send' in my imagination I picked up the cans of corn and proceeded to the end of aisle 16. Where I saw the baked beans. And realized I had forgotten to get them the first time I was at this end of the store. Even though I had them on my shopping list.
So I grabbed a can and put it in my cart.
Then it occurred to me, if Joshua hadn't sent me for the corn? I would have left the store without baked beans, and would have been really frustrated one evening when I went to the cupboard and didn't find them there.
I smiled at God for the little goose chase on which He'd just led me.
I stood there thankful.
And humbled. In aisle 16.


Friday, July 05, 2013

Lessons From the Edge

A mother's love never grows old.

Last Friday we were having a birthday party in the dining room. We'd gotten to the time for our sing-a-long and I was standing in the back of the room, uh, singing along.
As I glanced out into the atrium, I saw someone I didn't recognize and walked out to see if I could help him find someone. This man told me he was E's son (I could see the family resemblance!) and that he would wait until she was finished at the party. So I returned to my place in the dining room - which just happened to be right by E. (I love her, and choose to be next to her frequently. *grin*)

What happened next absolutely blessed my heart!

We finished one song and E looked up from her lyric page. She saw her son standing in the atrium and gasped, "My son! That's my son!" And the smile on her face was so big, it almost didn't fit.
He waved at her to indicate she could finish singing, and I stood by her enjoying the brightened light in her eyes.
When the party was over, I saw that 80-something-year-old woman move faster than I've ever seen her move before, as she glided to the atrium to hug her son. It was a beautiful sight. Absolutely beautiful.
And when I had cleaned up from the party I walked over to the two of them just to say,
"Thanks for giving me such a beautiful sight today."
At which time E said, "This is my son! I have eight great sons!"
I smiled at her and said, "I know!" And I do know. Because she has told me about them before.
And in that moment, looking at E beaming by the side of one of her eight great sons, I was fully convinced:
A mother's love never grows old.


Thursday, July 04, 2013

Declaring My Dependence

It's the fourth of July!

And while the rest of this nation is celebrating our Declaration of Independence, I am here to declare my dependence.
When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one Man to die in order to dissolve the chords of sin which have destined His loved ones to an eternity in Hell, and thereby take on the punishment for their sin - setting them free and reuniting them with their Father in heaven - a reasonable response from those loved ones requires that they should declare their gratitude and devotion to the One who died for them.

I find these truths to be self evident, that I am a sinful woman without hope and without a future - except for the love and mercy shown to me by God through His Son, Jesus Christ. --That the blood Jesus shed on the cross was enough to cover my sins (and yours!) and bring forgiveness for all mankind. --That I have been made new by the grace of God through Jesus. --That the Holy Spirit now lives in me, and leads me in every day. --That apart from God, I can do nothing. --That God is perfectly faithful and I can trust Him. --That I now have hope, where there was no hope before.

I therefore solemnly declare by the grace of God that I am a free woman, absolved of all allegiance with the enemy of my soul; and by the power of the Holy Spirit I may declare War on my enemy at any time. I furthermore declare my intention to follow Jesus Christ with my whole heart, all the days of my life on this earth - while relying on the Holy Spirit's power to enable me to walk in His ways.
Wanna add your signature to this Declaration?


Tuesday, July 02, 2013

The Real Deal

Have you ever gotten one of those emails containing a touching story - which seems almost too good to be true? You know, so perfect of a set up and application that you figure it must be a made up story? Or am I the only skeptic?
Well, the story I am posting below is the real deal. It comes from a friend of mine. Her brother is the pilot telling the story.

So I had to fly today. I was taxiing out in my 24000 lb 30 seat aircraft. The reason I bring up the size of the aircraft will be relevant in this story.

As I taxied out of the ramp, I saw a bird squatting right on the center line and in a position where we would definitely kill it if we continued with take off. I slowed down thinking the bird would move. I slowed down more. The bird got up and exposed she was covering 4 babies. These babies were each about the size of a golf ball.

But here is why I am telling you this story. The mother, faced with a vehicle that is a billion times over her size, turned and charged the nose of the aircraft. At this point, I had set the brake and radioed the tower that I would be holding for a moment. The airplane I fly has two 10 foot props on it and is the noisiest, most menacing thing on the ramp and the mother of these birds was determined to give her life in the smallest possible chance to save her children.

So I sat there and finally figured out how to get out of this standoff. I can put the props of this aircraft on reverse. So I did and gently blew the babies out of harm’s way. The mother to the end of this stood her ground and never showed any signs of moving until it was apparent that her babies would not be harmed.

All in all it has been another blessed day for all of God’s creatures!

So what did I learn this Sunday morning on a day I have to fly and can’t be in God’s house? A mother’s love would face total destruction and death to defend her children. This is the same love a man named Jesus Christ had for you when He gave His life knowing it would save yours.


Monday, July 01, 2013