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Of Living…

One if the bravest acts is to live. To choose to exist beyond merely breathing can be terrifying to even consider.

If one thinks long enough, they see that choice means to willingly go into other worlds, entering into another brave soul’s existence knowing that there will be pain one day. Maybe it will be a tearing away by words or death, but one thing is certain that the heart will be wounded. Loving creates these beautiful connections on earth, that hurt when one is pulled so far away.

Depression is one of the Dark Ones. It creeps in ever so slowly, sometimes holding hands with it’s other family members, Anxiety and Fear. Whispering so quietly that it matches the sound of thought, saying that no one cares and that the pain will be too great to bear. Distracted by holding the weight of it, Fear is able to tie the heart off until it’s numb so we cannot fight the walls Depression and Anxiety build. All that’s left is a lie: that we are alone and others are not worth the
risk of hurting again. Empty and merely a breath, time passes by until the end.

One day, a new voice faintly rises above the sounds. This one different, like a splash of color, like light in a dark world. One that has been there all along, whispering Love.

Love cuts the thread around the heart and each heartbeat cracks the wall more. Love creates these vessels that connect to other’s hearts, preventing the Dark Ones from rebuilding. Those connections bring life and joy, while strengthening the heart to stand against the pain that will come one day.

All of this from one courageous moment when the choice is made
to step out and be fully alive and to believe the truth that you are more than a breath.

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It seems that every time I leave from my Grandma’s I have to fight tears for the next hour or so. I can’t tell you how hard it is to drive away to her frail body standing on her porch watching us drive off. I can hardly remember a time she wasn’t standing there when we left, the only difference then was a taller, stronger (physically), and younger Grandma. Even now, I am crying, because I know all too well that as old as she is, she has few days left. It could be tomorrow or in the next year or two, but not many more.

I find myself wanting to spend every day I can, even if I have to hear her read all the side effects that her meds may cause, or even if I have to hear the same story 15 times. To hear the nuggets of our family history and the ups and downs of her and Grandpa’s 50 year marriage are priceless. The look of pride on her face when she hears how far I have come in the last couple of years means more to me than anyone can ever know. How my heart aches when she hints at how lonely she is, or when she confesses she ventured out for a drive (even though I know full well she probably has no business going alone anyhow). I can’t tell you how much I dread losing her, but know that one day I will see her, and she will be the stronger, healthier Grandma I remember alongside my Grandpa who has been waiting on her to join him up there.

The elderly have a special place in my heart. I used to be annoyed when I was a cashier in high school, when an old person would take forever or chit chat my ear away. I had lessons to learn though losing my Grandpa to cancer, watching my Grandma stay by his side almost every second, and working as a CNA at a nursing home and home health. It was there God showed me how to truly serve others, while preparing them for the next phase of life, physical death. Here are these people, piled into nursing homes, alone at home, where ever, and they are forgotten. These people have AMAZING stories to tell, wisdom to pass on, and love to give if we would only stop long enough.

Our lives are truly not that busy, and we should not be making excuses. Yes, it’s emotionally draining, and it’s going to hurt to see them so frail. But my oldest daughter’s observation makes my heart warm, “Grandma sure likes to give BIG kisses on the cheek!” I am so thankful that my older 2 will be able to remember their Great Grandma clearly, and my youngest will probably have bits and pieces of memories, but most of all they will remember her love for them. I hope when I am old that I will have as much love for everyone as she does, but with one difference to not be so alone.

People, Life is too short. I know that there are several of my friends who know this too well. I don’t care how old your loved ones are, this moment could be their last. Don’t wait to spend time with them. Don’t wait to listen to them. And most of all don’t forget the elderly. Spend time with those you love, and not just your kids. Never grow too old for Grandma’s big hugs and kisses either, because I sure haven’t…

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If there is one thing I love to do, its read. And when I find an author I like, I read everything I can get my hands on that they write (well, as long as I can find it at the library!). I decided to dive into a few books by Donald Miller after hearing friends and other online mentioning the movie “Blue Like Jazz”.  I don’t have a lot of time to devote to researching books and movies before I watch them anymore, but after reading a brief mention in the book “Lord, Save Us From Your Followers” I thought it was worth a try. I started out (unintentionally) reading “Through Painted Deserts”.  I quickly read that and in less than 4 days I read “Blue Like Jazz” and then “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years”.  I didn’t realize at the time I started, that I had read the books in sort of a chronological order (which I thought was pretty cool). I totally loved the writing style and content and will be adding them to my personal library soon.

I could probably go on for quite a while about things in these books that spoke to me. Honestly, I am still processing it, and will likely need to reread to absorb more. It has triggered me to think and dig deeper in my relationship with God (I felt very similar after reading Shane Claiborne’s books). A lot of Miller’s pondering and questioning aligns with the way I used to think way back before real life stole my focus. This thinking thing is a slow thing for me (please no blonde jokes, haha!) because it has been dormant for the most part.  I used to spend hours trying to figure this world out and this whole God thing. It used to be so easy. Now I have all the dust and cobwebs of my history that I have to brush out of the way, and pray that God will awaken desire to keep searching Him in such a way.

Yesterday I was thinking about what all I had read in Miller’s books. The last one I had read had affected me much more than I had anticipated. In “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” He talks about how our lives are a story, God is the writer, but we still can help determine what kind of ending we have. That is just putting it briefly, and he explains it so much better than I ever could. I started wondering what kind of story I was writing. I never really thought of myself as that interesting, but I had to really look at what my life was saying. Things were fairly uneventful until I was a teen. Teen years brought about a bit of mischief and hormonal brooding. Then my adult life seemed to be burdened with bad choices, abuse, loss, failed relationships, depression and the like. Geez, so far it was looking like this story was pretty depressing. I hate depressing books or movies :-\ Looking at my current situation there is a lot of working, going to church/serving at church, sleeping and eating…and just existing. I don’t socialize too much aside from church and work and I am pretty much broke most of the time anyway….so now my story is boring. I am not thinking a boring story is any better than a depressing one.

Anyone who really knows me, knows that I talk about being healed from depression and anxiety attacks.(I won’t go into that testimony right now as those details aren’t very relevant to what God showed me). Anyway, just over 2 years ago, I was a real mess. I was imprisoned by my depression and fear of everything, and I felt that I was in an impossible situation. I could sit for hours watching tv, playing on the internet, and sleeping. My marriage had fallen apart, and I was left sitting in a cell with little hope of ever getting out. I just wanted to sleep until this nightmare was over, because it hurt too bad to change. In my mind, just barely existing was safer than living any kind of life. I didn’t think I was even worth it anyway. Then through a series of events and choices, God let me out of that prison about a year ago. I have been kind of dazed, as I had lived with depression and anxiety most of my life. I have had to learn to feel emotions on a normal level (as opposed to medicated or filtered through the depression). I have had to adjust my eyes to the brightness of life and people in the outside world. Even with all the challenges, it feels good to be free. I know I don’t want to go back, God doesn’t want me to go back.

Lately I keep finding myself pacing around outside that cell. I let my hands trace the outline of the bars. I lean my face on the concrete wall, and smell the dampness. Just beyond the steel door, a cold slab of a bed and flickering light. I close my eyes and inhale the familiarity of it all.  I KNOW I don’t want to be in there. I KNOW it is better out here. I KNOW that God wants me to stay away. But there is always that faint whisper of the comfort of not changing. I have to get away from that. I can’t stick around and toy with the idea of locking myself up like that ever again. But then I turn and it seems like there are so many things that are in the way and I can barely see my life beyond them. I want so much more, yet because I was shut away for so long I have no idea what to do. All I know is that I want a story with a beautiful ending, not some tragedy.

After reading those books, I got to wondering…what would it look like to dream a little. God forbid I make some sort of list and call it a bucket list (as that seems pretty cliché now lol). It is so much more than that. I try to remember about the things I used to want to do as a kid, and then it hit me…our family needs to dream so we can create moments in our story. Last night, I announced (a little misty eyed) that we are going to start listing some of the stuff we each want to do, accomplish or learn. We are going to have adventures no matter how small, but more importantly we are going to live life.  Then we are going to put our dreams in a binder, notebook or folder and have a family dream book. Some of these things we may get too quickly, and some we may have to work toward. Some we might not get to do for years. Some we can do alone, some we can do together, and yet others we can include our extended family and friends.

From my older 2 kids’ reaction, they didn’t know what to think…and I also saw what my depression had done to them…they seemed reluctant to dream because I had been too afraid to let them do anything. I had been their dream crusher. That lies as a heaviness on my heart. Honestly, I have this little fear of not following through and further damaging their abilities to dream. Now I have to be stronger so that will not happen…I am so glad God will help me.

So there are going to be some challenges. As a single mom, there are going to be plenty of things that may be difficult to do because of money, time, etc. I think we will start small and find things to explore and do in our state of Oklahoma. I will have to get a “dream jar” so we can save for some bigger dreams. I will probably have to get some books from the library to help us all figure out what we want to do. Right now I am a little overwhelmed at the vastness of possibility in this, but in the end we will all have better stories by living our dreams.

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October 2, 2010

Wow, its been a little while since I have posted! I wish I could say things are better…in some areas they are, others are in progress, and even others are definitely not. I really wish other people were in a place to share about their struggles with depression…as it might help me feel more hopeful. I wish I could share so much more about what  I am going through, but it is one of those things where it wouldn’t be beneficial for anyone involved for it to be totally public. There are a few who know some, and are praying for us, and I can say that its those prayers that help carry me through when I can’t carry myself. As hard as every thing is, I still believe God is good, and will get me through! I apologize to those who think I am being too negative in some of my facebook posts, but I firmly believe in not pretending everything is ok, when its not. I try to express how I am feeling, or when I need prayer, with out splashing out details in all my posts.

Within the past month, God has arranged through some pretty cool circumstances and people, for me to switch counselors. The lady I was going through was definitely not working, and I would never recommend any one to go to her. The counselor I see now, is definitely a gift from God, and a Godly man, and is guiding me and praying for me through this process. I am immensely thankful for that! I feel like I am finally working toward healing….though I realize that sometimes things have to get more painful, before the healing can occur.

I feel broken beyond what I can describe, and greatly weary from the past few months…but God is piecing me together making and my life will be beautiful… (I still wish I could find the movie clip from the movie “Joshua” that was made back in 2002 that I am referring too lol) My ultimate prayer is that God will heal EVERYTHING that is going on right now…and give me the focus to see it in my heart, even if I don’t see it with my eyes.

Recently we have switched churches. I might have mentioned that in a previous post. I am enjoying the new church a lot, its just taking some time to plug in, with all the stuff going on here and decisions on where to plug in exactly.  I miss my friends at the old church, and hopefully I can clear my head long enough to keep in contact with them. [Note to them: I love you guys, and think and pray for you all often! I can feel your prayers for us!]

Anyway, I hope that if you are reading this and you are struggling with depression is that you will see hope… I have a note for you as well: Do not wait to get help…do not think you have to do it by yourself! If you wait, you do more harm to yourself, your family and your relationships. My struggle would be far easier had I only gotten help years and years ago…my family would not be hurting like they are because of the baggage I carried. Its a scary journey, I cannot lie, its tough. But I know in the end, it will all be worth it! Even if you think no one is there, there is always someone there, sometimes depression wants us to think we are alone and can’t do it, but we can! Depression covers things….I am a pretty positive person…but the depression clouds that to where all I see is negative. I have to remind myself daily, minute by minute, that things are not as bad as it seems at the moment.

Anyway, there is my little update…I don’t have much else to say right now lol 🙂

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So we are getting a good rain 🙂 I wanted to go walking this morning, but it had already started raining by the time we got to the street! lol

The bright side is I don’t have to water my plants today, and it will make the ground easier to work with when I am working on our yard. I want to put in some more plants and try to get some grass in the yard since we have mostly weeds 🙂 Our neighbor actually planted some grass seed (properly! 😛 ) and I am impress with how fast it grew. I am hoping I can do the same thing in the backyard….I will probably have to do it in sections so the kids will keep off of it until its established.

As far as the flowers and other things, we have a huge garden area…I have to do little by little. I have this vision in my head of what this garden might have looked like years ago, and while I know it will take years to get it that way, its a soothing process. I am trying to maintain a path, so the gas meter reader fella’s can get to the meter easier, and trying to plant stuff so they quit hopping the fence in the same area (its breaking down in the corners!), but I think he might have stepped on one of the plants anyway LOL I teased the elderly lady that lives behind us, that I might have to plant something spiky in those areas to really get them to stop! 😛

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Busy week!

When is it not busy? LOL! Saturday alone will be stretching me a bit : VBS meeting, then Mother Daughter Luncheon, then a good friend’s wedding reception!  Should be a day full of fun…and just maybe I will find some time to rest 🙂

My son really enjoyed his birthday surprise, a concert 🙂 We ran into some teens from church, and we sat near them…they even let him sit with them (so he didn’t have to sit by Mom and Dad…lol). I know it meant a lot to him to be included by the guys. I let him pick out a t-shirt, and he chose one from The David Crowder Band 🙂 I may be starting to get old, but I was quite relieved when he said that DCB was his fave…I was concerned for a second that he would take a liking to Family Force 5 (great music, just a little on the loud side!)

The retreat this past weekend was awesome! I really enjoyed the main sessions, and workshops. Three of the workshops I attended were ones on marriage, and I cannot tell you how blessed I was (and am) by them. I even bought the cds so I could re-listen to the message. A lot of the info was on communication, which I assumed I knew a lot about…but God really spoke to my heart especially with the issues I have 🙂 Anyway, I highly recommend the Women’s Retreat at Ozark Christian College. Next year’s retreat will be April 15 &16, 2011. Typically there is no cost for the retreat, just for the banquet on Friday night and costs for food and lodging. We actually left home on Thursday and had some free time that day…it also saved us from having to get up at the crack of dawn to make it to Joplin in time for the start of the retreat! lol

Something else that has been on my mind, is choosing how we treat others. Its so easy to get caught up in our little group of friends, that we fail to see when someone is lonely or feeling left out.  I would love to say that we all outgrow things like cliques, but sometimes they happen without us really realizing it. Anyway, sometimes we make assumptions about someone, or we don’t feel comfortable around them….or maybe it takes a little time to get used to them 🙂  One of the things I want to start doing, is reaching out to those people, and at least saying “hi”…that’s a huge thing for me! I struggle with shyness and would rather sit back and just watch people…but I have struggled with fitting in and loneliness. I know that there is only One who can fill that loneliness. I still struggle with those things, but with God, there is hope, and He carries my burdens. I think it is only recently (past couple of years) that I started to see that God is enough in everything. Even if I have no one else, I have Him.  Now I don’t always feel that way, but I KNOW it, if that makes any sense… When I let go, He provided new friendships, and opened my eyes to the ones that were right in front of my face! 🙂

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some thoughts…

Since last night, I have been pondering over something that happened recently…I am not going to go into detail, because I don’t think its necessary…but I am thinking I should get it out there and talk a little about my feelings.

Over the past few years, I have blogged about my struggles with loneliness and shyness, and what a bitter and emotional mix those can be,  either on here, or my Xanga blog (I really can’t remember). God has been gently working on some of those issues with the help of a great bunch of people at church (whether they know it or not! LOL). I am finally making friends, and it feels great! Its a different type of friendship that what I grew up with, and overall I think it’s loads healthier in the long run.

That being said, I still struggle with some of the shyness issues (shyness = social anxiety). And at the same time, I am working on the types of conversations I have with friends and such.  Its a difficult transition, when you start becoming aware of the things that come out of your mouth, I often find myself freaking out inside over it. There are plenty of times I feel that I don’t have much to say or I don’t know what to say, and I fall out of conversation or find a way out. Its not that I am uninterested, its that its awkward for me, and I am afraid that some people (especially family and friends) may think I am being rude. I can assure you, that my intention is not to be rude. I really don’t know what else I can say about that. I am going to try to work on it, but it isn’t going to be easy. I also don’t want to become wrapped up into obsessing with what people think. I want to do what God wants of me, and I will be ok with it.

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