Thursday, December 23, 2010

Depression!

There I said it... it kinda feels like a bad word sometimes.  It has been something I have struggled with before.  The kind where I did not want to get out of bed and when the cloud started to clear, I looked in the mirror and said, "oh, this is what normal people feel like!"  And I find myself struggling with it again.
This depression did not come out of no where and throw me into the pit for no reason.  I can see all the circumstances that have happened in the last 8 months and know exactly why I am struggling with it.  I've been wrestling with the question of medicine or no medicine for the last month or so.  As one of the girls in my life said, "you have thoroughly convinced me you should take it and thoroughly convinced me your shouldn't!"  Both doctors I talked to said, "yes I would prescribe it to you, but ultimately you have to decide if you want to take it."  And I am thankful that the question I am answering is not... Am I depressed?  The answer to that question is yes!  It is not only the question of... Should I take medication to deal with it?
And so the processing began.  I prayed & journaled, I sought counsel, I processed, I talked to doctors, I got the prescription, and I didn't get it filled.  At the end of the day I really only had one question to answer... Is this part of the story God is writing for me?  Does He want me to take it?  I know for some that sounds too spiritual and that God would be fine with me taking it.  And I agree with you, I don't believe that medication is bad.  I don't think it is wrong to take them.  But I know me and I know that putting my hope in them would not work out well.  I know that they might or might not work.  I know what I was like when I was on them before.  The day I realized they had really taken affect was the night I saw Saving Private Ryan in the theater.  The movie is over, the lights come up and EVERY person in the theater is blowing their nose, wiping tears, or still sobbing.  Everyone but one!  I had not shed a single tear through the entire movie.  And people, that's crazy because I cry at hallmark commercials!
And so I have spent the last month really thinking about it and listening.  And for now the answer is not to take them. It's not a closed case... just for today.  I am so on a day to day functioning here.
But, I know that I am depressed and so that means I have some things that I need to be doing to do what I can to not fall into a huge pit of darkness.  I may still end up there... but I'm trying to do my part.
I'm making my time with the Lord a priority.  Making sure that I am getting big doses of His truth.  Journaling about how I am feeling and laying it all out honestly before Him.
I'm talking about it.  Not just with Him but with people in my life.  It has been all out transparency.  At times it is some ugly cries!  But it has been so great to get the stuff out there and not allow it to fester in the darkness. Light does a number on the lies the enemy wants us to believe! And I am so thankful for friends who will let me be where I am, listen, and also call me to truth and at times action.
I am sleeping and eating normally.  At times I have to be careful with sugar because right now it seems to be putting lows a little lower.  Not easy for me with my sweet tooth that creeps in.
I'm also having to make moment by moment choices.  There are times when I am tired and just want some time to be alone and so I choose not to go to a party or hang out with people.  And other times I know I have to force myself past my anxiety and fears and get out there and be with others.  It has been a mix this holiday season with parties.  But all in all I think a good mix.
I'm also making a list. A list of the ways that God surprises me with how He is choosing to meet my needs.  He has been so creative an amazing with how He has chosen to take care of me and encourage me.  It took some time for me to get to where I was seeing it.  I had this expectations in my head on what it would look like when I went through a hard time... exactly who would be walking with me through it and how.  I didn't totally realize I had those expectations until I was finding myself hurt and disappointed.  And so it took some time for me to realize that God is the one who promises to meet my needs and will provide what I need and I needed to release everyone and let the Lord provide.  And so I started watching and it has been really cool to see all the different ways and different people He is using to encourage me and walk with me through this time.

Thankful for a God who knows me so intimately and loves me with an unfailing love.
And I am thankful that I do feel HOPE in the midst of this depression.
Merry Christmas friends!

VERSES OF COMFORT

Psalm 46
Psalm 32:7-8
Isaiah 26:3-4
Psalm 33:20-22
Psalm 18:1-6
Habakkuk 3:17-19
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Daniel 3:15-18
Isaiah 40:28-31
Isaiah 41:10
2 Corinthians 1:3
Psalm 71:20-21
Romans 5:1-5
Psalm 3:3-5
Galatians 6:1-3
Psalm 63:1-8
Psalm 73:21-26
Psalm 30:10-12
Isaiah 55:8-13
Romans 8:35-39
Psalm 34:4-10,18-20
Lamentations 3:19-25
1 Peter 4:12-13
Isaiah 61:1-3
Job 19:25
Psalm 23
Zephaniah 3:17
Matthew 5:3-12
Psalm 27
Revelations 19:11
2 Corinthians 4:7-11
Jeremiah 17:7-8
Isaiah 46:4
Revelation 21:1-4
2 Corinthians 1:8-10
Revelation 22:1-5
Psalm 119:9-16,49-52,67-72,76,82,123
James 1:2-4
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Lunar Eclipse

I'm a little tired today because I did decide to get up and attempt to get pics of the lunar eclipse.  It was pretty fun.  I probably should have just stayed up... but I tried the sleep, alarm, pictures, back to sleep method.  WOW, a little painful!
But I think worth it!  Here are some of my pics.
I got up at 2am of the total eclipse part and then decided to stay up to watch the moon appear again.  ENJOY!






Sunday, December 19, 2010

Choosing Christmas

Is it horrible to say that I am ready for 2010 to be over?  It kinda makes me sad that 2010 was such a difficult year.  I think the number itself just seems cool.  But I am ready.  I am ready to move on to 2011.
Now I realize I can't put a whole bunch of my hope in 2011 being this amazingly different year.  It might not be.  And the hard might not be over (although if I am honest, I am kinda banking that I am in the healing stages here.)
I don't like that I am dreading Christmas.  It is here... in just 6 days.  And yet it is going to be tough one.  A really hard reminder of who isn't here and all the loss. But I want to remember what this season is really all about and as much as I love the lights, giving, the cold weather, family, traditions, trees, fun movies, cider, and holidays treats it is about so much more.
It's about the life saving gift that was given for us.  That God came to us to make a way for us.  That in all the sadness I feel, in the battle with depression, in the moments when I just want to sit and cry... a reminder that He came to redeem all of that.  He came so I can have hope of what is to come.  Hope of the day when all of those things will be wiped away.  But to have that, He had to leave HEAVEN to dwell among us.  He had to choose to take the cup and choose to die.
I'm prayer for a miracle in my body... praying I can have joy in the midst of sorrow.  Praying I can celebrate and BELIEVE that He is writing a story far beyond what I can imagine.  And I know that with Him it is possible.  
Thank you Jesus for choosing Christmas!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

All Ye Faithful...

One of my all time favorite Christmas videos...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

No Pain...

We had our Staff Christmas Party last night.  It truly is one of the highlights of my year.  Especially the every-other-year just staff and significant others.  
You see... our pastor is the King of Fun!  And I don't just mean some simple games kind of fun.  It's the kind of fun where this kind of quote would be used...
"The only way that winning can stay sweet, is if losing stays painful"
We received an email yesterday with the "top 20 things you need to know for tonight's Christmas party!"
My favorite rule of the email was #14... 
"All rules are subject to later clarification, modification, unjust amendment, cruel interpretation and mockery at party designer's whim.  The law office of Howard, Crotty and Ward are not available for representation for you b/c they will be tainted by participation in the process."
We arrived to receive 200 tickets where we could bid on items.  But for every item you bid on, if you won, you also must "pay" for the item by performing the "task" that was on the card.  
And another great catch... every ticket that was put in an envelope would then be put in a really big pile and one drawn out, that person would have to perform ALL the "tasks."  
Another motto for the night, "things are not always as they seem."
There is not another Christmas party out there that is as intense as this one, and I love it.
A few of the things involved... carrot cake, fleeces, Family Feud, fruit loops, coats, luggage, SPAM, Deal or No Deal, singing, high kicks, creepy mustaches, and 52 swims.
I am sooo thankful that our pastor chooses to take the time to make our parties memorable.  
We laughed until our sides hurt and at the end, we were blessed to watch the generosity of one staff member give their "big prize" away.  What a gift to get to work with such an amazing group of people!

Spring is coming... Just not sure when!

WARNING... not a happy post!
Today was a really hard day.  I woke up sad and pretty much carried that feeling through most of my day.  This has just plain been a hard year.  I find myself wanting to hope 2011 gets here quick, like maybe it will bring some new perspective, some new happy something.  But I know deep down I can't rely on the turning of another year to bring what my heart desires.
I've had more change, loss, hurt, disappointment, and grief than I think I asked for!  And I want it to stop.  I want to be myself again.  I want to feel free again.  Happy again. Myself again.
And yet I know I can't force it.  I can't make myself move through this stuff any faster.  I can keep staying in the fight.  I can keep my eyes on truth.  I can keep talking and processing.  I can keep being honest (brutally apparently today) with where I am.
And after that... I have to trust.  Trust that the One who created me, who allowed these last 8 months, the One who I know loves me deeply, unconditionally, unchanging, and faithfully.
A friend reminded me that this is a season.  Although it sure seems like winter is holding on, and I can't see any blossoms or green popping through yet, spring will come.
I spent some time today at the arboretum.  There should have been a sign up that says... "if you are feeling depressed... DO NOT ENTER... most things inside are dead!"
It really was pretty yucky looking.  And honestly kinda made me more sad.  But, I was able to find a few blossoms and get a few pics that I like.


Spring is coming... just not sure when!
(Sorry to be such a downer!)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Seeing Myself

I was all set to write a long blog and then got caught up inn reading the updates on my peeps blogs.  So fun to see what everyone was up to over the holiday, fun family photos, and watching the journey my friends the Leventhals are on as they have picked up their son Joshua from China.  Excited to meet him!
But I did want to share about a new book I am reading.  It's called... Choosing to See by Mary Beth Chapman.
It is all about her life journey and the road that lead to the grief of losing a child and her journey after.  What has already been so great is that I feel like she and I could be really good friends.  I'm seeing some of myself in her.
Steven Curtis Chapman (I don't feel like I can just right part of his name) wrote the foreward for the book.  Here are a few things he said about her...
"she has had a lifetime of watching God overwrite her plans with His story.  Sometimes the result has been wonderful, and sometimes it has been devastating.  Sometimes she's been a willing participant, and sometimes she's gone 'kicking and screaming.'"
"I've watched my wife wrestle with the providence of God in as real and honest a way as anyone I've ever known."
"I can say this book is written by someone who is deeply committed to not sweeping the pain or struggle under the rug. While I know my wife to fully and desperately believe and trust in the sovereignty of God, I also know her- as you will come to know her in these pages- as one who is determined to be honest about the struggle."
I can relate and I hope some of the same things can be said about me.  It has already been a great book for me in continuing to grow in acceptance of who God created me to be, widening and affirming my belief in who He is, and in continuing to walk this road of grief that I am on.
(The picture above is the last picture that their daughter Maria drew before she passed away.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Choosing Thankfulness


It's Thanksgiving. I do love this time of year... cooler weather, football, great food, the beautiful leaves (and Dallas is finally joining the 4 season bandwagon), getting to wear long sleeves and boots! I have a thing with Thanksgiving. I don't like for Christmas to take over before Thanksgiving has its full say. Thanksgiving is fall. Christmas is winter. Thanksgiving calls me to think about the things I am thankful for. Don't get me wrong, so does Christmas, and I love both, but don't want Thanksgiving to get lost.
And I so I thought it fitting to write a thankfulness post!
This year has had many challenges in remembering to be thankful in the midst of trials. But I want to be thankful, I think thankfulness helps with perspective and I think it reminds me to not get overtaken with the hard and sad. So here it goes... my 2010 thankfulness list!
(In no particular order as I will use my year in pics and blog to help me remember :) )

-all the unbelievably amazing sunsets I got to see this year (Oregon, Colorado, Kansas, Dallas, & Haiti)
-getting to have a job where I am surrounded by co-workers who love and support me
-my church turned 10... getting to watch and be a part of the amazing life change that is happening when believers trust God's words and way
-all the great snow at the beginning of the year and getting to build a snowman on top of the WM building
-plays with family and friends
-the recon work for the bear guy in Estes Park
-the Lord leading me to go see my grandparents one last time, for the reconciliation and just getting to be with them one last time before they were both gone
-Leigh and Adam getting married
-parents who want to hang out with me
-Stephanie, Leigh, Angela and Melissa all finding out they are pregnant
-watching families bring in foster kids to love and shepherd for the time they are given
-FRIENDS... who listened, cried with, loved, and walked this hard road with me this year
-the raccoon that came down our chimney so I could have some great laughter in the midst of hard things
-pulling two teeth for Hannah Fournet
-Estes Park and the way the Lord sustained me and for a boss that was all in
-watching Brooke feed a chipmunk off her head
-the way the Lord showed up in the details of our trip to Kansas for the funeral (tick and all)
-my surprise bear
-being a part of miracles (Mel's family, building fund)
-memories of grandparents who loved me
-finding the cuckoo clock
-rainbows
-to see Beck & Deshi thriving in their new home
-getting to be a part of conflict resolutions that glorify the Lord
-getting to go to Haiti (the kids faces, meeting people who are making a difference, waterfall, Amputee soccer team, lightning storms)
-a community group who is willing to talk about it all!
-God's Word and how it sharpens, convicts, encourages & sustains
-kiddos being adopted into our WM family
-that I am different today than I was January 1, 2010
-that over 300 orphans are being sponsored by Watermark members

I feel like I could go on and on... I am thankful that in a year full of tragedy and heart break, the Lord has been faithful and that I have so many many things to be thankful for!

What are YOU thankful for? Post a comment and share!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Shifting Shadows


I ran across a part of scripture today that I am not sure I have ever read before.
Check out John 11:16...
Thomas, nicknamed the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go, too—and die with Jesus.”
As I read that I was impacted by this guys desire to go with Jesus back to the place where just days before they were trying to stone Him. But then I had a moment of pause... Wait... Thomas? Is that THE Thomas, Doubting Thomas, the guy I so relate to that wanted to see Jesus before he would believe?
So I decide to check out and see if I could tell if that was him. Check out John 20:24-29...
One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. They told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”
Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. Then he said to Thomas,“Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”
“My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.The Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”
It's the same guy. The same one that was willing to go and die with Jesus is actually more widely known as the doubter. The one that needed to touch Jesus or he wouldn't believe that He had been risen from the dead.
And, oh how much I relate. One day, maybe make that one moment I am all in, I get it, I am confident in it, I will preach it to anyone walking by. And then the next moment, I want proof, I need more assurance, I want to feel it or see it!
I am soooo thankful that Jesus knows me and is not surprised by ANY of my changes. And I am even more thankful that...
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:17

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Blind Pursuit

I have been sitting in John 9 the past 2 days. It has given me some sweet reminders and perspective on where I am today.
This chapter deals with a man that is blind and his encounter with Jesus.
The disciples ask Jesus if this man is blind because of his own sin or the sin of his parents. Jesus' response...
“This happened so the power of God could be seen in him." John 9:3
So it has me thinking... what in my life is like being blind? What are my weaknesses? My thorns that I am wanting Jesus to heal? Am I allowing God's power to be seen in me?
Jesus heals the blind man and of course, He does it on the Sabbath and so the Pharisees are a little ticked. So they ask the man who healed him. He doesn't know who healed him, he just knows what happened. The Pharisees know it is Jesus and so they rebuke the healed man saying that it should be God who gets the glory, not Jesus because He is a sinner. And this is the healed man's response...
“I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied. “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!” John 9:25
I love this response. Because this guy doesn't really know who Jesus is, he couldn't answer all of their questions. He wasn't a Bible scholar or a professor of theology... but what he does know is that he was blind and now he can see. So often I feel like this. I don't have all the answers. I can't give an eloquent theological answer to much. But what I do know is that I have experienced Jesus' miracles in my own life and I have witnessed it in other's lives. And so I have the same testimony as this guy. I don't know everything... but I know what I have personally experienced.
And then there is the healed man's speech when they curse him for maybe being one of Jesus' disciples.
“Why, that’s very strange!” the man replied. “He healed my eyes, and yet you don’t know where he comes from? We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but He is ready to hear those who worship Him and do His will. Ever since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone born blind. If this man were not from God, He couldn't have done it.” John 9:30-33
God is the one that opens the eyes of the blind. We are able to know Him and love Him because of the work that He does in our hearts and minds. And no one else is given this power.
And then the last part... we know this guy isn't totally sure who Jesus is or if he has been healed by Him. He has some ideas, but what happens next is so great.
When Jesus heard what had happened, he found the man and asked,
“Do you believe in the Son of Man?
"The man answered, “Who is he, sir? I want to believe in him.”
“You have seen him,” Jesus said, “and he is speaking to you!” “Yes, Lord, I believe!” the man said. And he worshiped Jesus.
John 9:35-38
My favorite part of this is that Jesus heard what happened and He went and FOUND the man. Jesus not only heals him, but then He pursues Him so that the healed man can know for sure who Jesus is. I love that!
And so I proclaim today that I was blind and now I see and that I am so thankful that He is constantly pursuing me and showing me who He is and growing my faith so that I can trust Him more. What a gift!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Walking...

I am reading a new book... When God Interrupts: Finding New Life Through Unwanted Change by M. Craig Barnes.
It has challenged me a lot. I am still chewing on what I have read, but this one part really stuck out to me. The author is referencing the Israelites right when they are leaving Egypt and the road that He led them down.
Check this out...
When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea.
Exodus 13:17-18
Did you catch that... God did not lead them on the shortest road! Oh my, how often am I asking for God to take me down the shortest, clearest, easiest road? Thinking I know what is best. Here we see that God knew His people. He knew what would make them turn back. Now if you know the rest of the story, they kinda wanted to turn back a lot of times. And when I read their journey I think this had to be the harder way, but clearly, not the way that would have made them change their minds and actually return!
And then it gets better. Check out those last 5 words... "road toward the Red Sea." One of the moments where we get to see God's amazing omnipotence, His amazing power and control over all things. And as I continued to read in the book there were a couple of quotes that were so great... He took them on the road "where they would have to learn to trust Him."
I look at my own life and I think that is exactly what He does with me. He takes me down the road that He knows will build my trust in Him and that road always leads to getting to see His power!
And with that road means that I have to "learn how to follow. Central to that task is giving up the expectation of knowing where we are going." WOW... to have faith that where He is leading is what's best.
Not sure what the road sign says right now... not sure what the next big parting of the Red Sea will look like... but, I'm walking!!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

Queso Cheese!


I have noticed lately that my patience is wearing thin, my fuse is short, and my ability to become irritated quickly is heightened. This became painfully clear the other day when I was at lunch at a Mexican food restaurant.
The scene goes like this...
There were 2 ladies sitting a couple of tables over from us. One of the ladies asked the waitress for some "queso cheese." The waitress looked at her, a little puzzled, and said, "queso sauce?" The lady says, "yes." And the waitress walks away.
Now, if that was all that happened I would have continued on in my own little world. But what happened next, hit my button square on. The customer proceeds to look at her friend and in a highly irritated and almost disgusted voice says, "what else would I mean?"
Oh no, are you kidding me? I truly almost lost it. I did stay in my chair and said customer has not idea I became so irritated. But... really? The waitress is not the one that was clueless. Literally this woman said "cheese cheese" to her waitress. Can I get some "cheese cheese?" The waitress wants to know what kind... are we talking sauce here or shredded? The cheese part I have, just not sure of the consistency you are desiring!
And this literally irritated me for the rest of the day. The woman thought the waitress was stupid, like she was clueless and slow, and YET... "cheese, cheese!"
Ok... enough of that ranting and on to what this taught me.
It was a huge flag for me that I had some stuff I needed to process. I haven't quite been able to put my finger on what is bothering me. What is all going on in this tornado that I feel? There are lots of factors... grief, discontentment, questioning what I am doing with my life, am I making a difference, am I where I should be? And then (sorry guys) but is this PMS or DMS or PostMS? I mean really sometimes I can not keep up.
And so with all this irritation and frustration rising I start to talk. I ask for prayer. I journal. I process... and what conclusion have I come to????
A reminder that I need to talk out loud. That I need to be sure and get my time alone with the Lord. That left to my own flesh... I will be annoyed with all around me when they don't understand me... "cheese, cheese."
And I don't have all the answers for all the questions above... I just know that I need to take one day at a time. And to trust that God is in control! And for that, I am so very thankful and I think I feel some of the "tightness" and "pressure" loosening a little!
And just for the record... I know my reaction over the cheese was a little extreme! And confession that part of why it was so funny to me is that I remember doing that when I was in Mexico, asking for queso and receiving shredded cheese!
Man... all this is making me hungry... might need to get some queso dip at one of my meals today!

Friday, October 22, 2010

1500 To 72!

I finally did it. I narrowed down 1500 pics to 72!!
This is a picture from the place as we flew in. The water looked incredible!
This is lil'jp and I getting our mosquito nets all rigged up. They definitely came in handy!
Church was amazing! The singing (just like Africa) is so hard to explain. Full of abandon and joy! This little guy was cracking me up. Nothing was waking him up.
The little girl on the left is Sarah. She was one that grabbed my heart! Tough to leave her behind.
All the kiddos were so beautiful. So there are a lot of kiddos faces included!
The day in Port au Prince was tough. Apparently less than 5% of the rubble has been cleaned up. It was pretty unbelievable to see the devastation.

This is the catholic church that stood right in the middle of town. You can see it has lots of destruction and you can see the tents attached to the wall that people are sleeping in.


On our way back we went to a the sight of a mass grave. These are the crosses that were up on the hill. It is still surreal to think about what had to happen that day. My heart aches for those who had to bury their friends and family.
Every night the sunsets were amazing. And the contrasts of the days were hard to grasp.
It was fun to see our guys playing with the little ones.
Yes... that is a cactus clothes line. Pretty ingenious. They used cactus for fences.





A local soccer club sent us out with a ton of soccer balls. It was fun to see the kids so excited.

We found out that the Haitian National Amputee Soccer Team was staying where we were for the week.


The amazing waterfall that we got to climb and stand in.
I was taking pics and then realized I was about to miss out on a huge experience. So I handed off my camera and got in! So glad I did.


We drove into this remote village. Such beautiful kiddos and people.






We handed out little sandwiches to the kiddos. This little one grabbed 3... and no one stopped her! :)
Everywhere we went, kiddos were watching.





We got to have a creative morning as we painted this room. It was so much fun. The room is for women who are amputees and are making headbands to raise funds.
Then off to an orphanage.
That night we got to see the most amazing lightning storm ever. We stood there for over an hour just in awe!



Below is Port au Prince at night. You can see on the right the part that is blacked out. That is the center of the earthquake where there is still no electricity.

We painted a church and the kids that came in to help us were so great. They loved being a part of the process.
Then the amazing gift of getting to play soccer against the Amputee Soccer Team. Seriously cool!





This is a tent city. It was extremely organized. But... just tents, rock, and dirt. The resiliency of the people!
Growing little garden next to their homes.
A little girl who lost her leg in the earthquake.The last day we spent the afternoon on the coast. Beautiful.And these are little yellow birds that build these nests. The nests are round and upside down. They fly in underneath.Another tent city.Still so humbled by my time there. Looks like I will get to go back in February. Pray for the people of Haiti. There are still sooo many obstacles ahead!

Psalm 46:1
God is our refuge and strength,
always ready to help in times of trouble.
So we will not fear when earthquakes come
and the mountains crumble into the sea.