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Defeating Depression Daily

Depression is always a touchy subject.  Is it a real diagnosis?  Is it a mind game? Is it chemical imbalance or genetics? Is it moodiness and personality?  Is it spiritual warfare or a sign of spiritual immaturity?  Maybe it’s all of the above or none at all.  But to talk about it I’ll need to open up and get raw honest.  So, just imagine we’re kicking back in my messy living room, mugs of mocha in our mitts, and let’s chat as friends.

I was diagnosed with depression as a teenager, though I’m certain it was haunting me at a much younger age.  At 17, I was hospitalized for it.  As a first-time mama, I was plagued with it from every angle. But that is another story.  Today’s post is not about my label but about how I live out my liberty.

During a late-night encounter with the Almighty, I was rescued from this terrible state.  (Again, another story for another post) Since that night, I have never been a victim of depression or enslaved to it ever again.  That’s it. End of entry.  Done deal.  NOT!!!  Though I do believe I have been freed, that doesn’t mean I never have to fight.  Depression is deeply interwoven in my being.   It’s a constant and persistent nag that I must be always on the watch for and knockback at every attempted advance. Days, weeks, months can go by with no real worrisome symptoms.  Then again, days, weeks, and months can go by with little reprieve from the battle.

bedsheets

Depression looks different on different people at different times.  At moments, it’s a stifling sadness and then morphs into a manic self-pity.  It can be as subtle as a polite laugh at a bad joke and then slam you into a windshield of worry and weariness.  For me, there are days when it feels like a weighty fog, annoying but tolerable.  Then there are mornings when it makes shrugging off the bed sheets stunningly painful.  There’s not always warning and when it strikes, depression isn’t normally a gray area.  It’s there! Thick and thunderous.  So how does this Jesus loving mama deal with it?  In three not so easy steps.

First and always first, I pray.  After noticing my symptoms, which can range from paranoia to insomnia, or a mournful soul moaning that I can’t explain, I take it to my Savior.  When I’m rooted in the Spirit it’s much simpler to ascertain my descent into depression.  However, I’m human and my heart strays much more frequently then I’d like to own.  When it does, sometimes it can take a soft word from a loved one or a damaging loss of control to alert me to my danger.  So, I pray.  I never feel like praying, when in my funk.  I never want to lay it down.  It’s familiar, oddly comforting, and gives me an excuse to remain self-focused.  There have been battle moments that have made it physically painful to ask the Lord for advice.  This is when it is most important that I do so.  This is a major red flag of battles to come.  So, I pray, pray, pray.  The position doesn’t matter.  The words don’t matter.  The heart matters.   Since I have littles, that I have no desire to overwhelm, most of my prayers of desperation happen in the shower.  I’m not sure if a human could decipher most of my words.  But the Spirit does and He makes them beautiful before God.  I wail. I screech.  Sometimes I even swear.  I pour it all out. Nothing held back. This is the Creator.  My Creator.  He knows everything.  He’s allowed this struggle and He equips me to overcome it.  Why should I hide any facet of my feelings from him?

After praying, it’s time for action.  I examine my recent habits.  Am I sleeping enough?  Am I eating properly? Taking my vitamins? Drinking too much coffee?  Watching dark television shows?  Reading intensely melancholy books? The list goes on.  If there’s a pattern within my latest activities, I bring it before God and ask him what I should cut out.  Then I cut it.  Even my constant companion, coffee, has, at times, had to be cut out for a season.  My healing is more important than my comfort.  I drink more water.  I exercise.  None of which is an instant fix.  But I continue in faith, knowing my depression will not last forever.  It has no eternal hold over me and it will submit to my Father.  I pour the word into my spirit.  Before my feet hit the ground, before I check Facebook or Yahoo, I give the word at least five minutes.  This is not my Bible study time.  This is my gather strength from the Source so I can get out of bedtime.  And it works, as long as I have the courage to obey.  The first step out of the covers is always the most painful.  A moment of truth.  If I can make this one step, ignoring the lying voices within me, setting aside the sadness for just a second, I can make another and another.  Usually to the shower, where I pray aloud, and wash off the morning’s emotions and choose eternal joy over fleeting feelings.

I also, ask the Lord to examine my heart.  Sometimes, though I’m loathed to admit it, I am harboring bitterness.  I am intentionally choosing unforgiveness and rebellion over mercy and humility.  There are situations, experiences, even tragedies in my past that resurface and trigger old patterns.  If I want to maintain my freedom, I must let them go.  I must forgive and re-forgive the same offenses.  I must bath my past self in the Light of Heaven.  Remind myself to think eternally and to let God handle my history so that I might have a future.  Submission is never easy.  When coming to blows with depression I start small.  I sing.  I take whatever song the Holy Spirit sends me and I sing it out loud and out of key.  This tiny victory can be more gut-wrenching than getting out of bed.  Especially, when defeating a justifiable offense with irrational forgiveness.  My voice may be weak and the tears often crack through the chorus, but singing praise to the Maker is a weapon.  It reminds me who I am.  It reminds me how much I’m loved. It reminds me of my purpose.  I am not alone.  I am not unseen.  I am not worthless.  I am cleansed. I am comforted. I am complete.

Lastly, I rest.  I rest in my routines. My routines relieve my already burdened mind and make my body move.  By following my normal routines, I leave myself a mental white space in which to keep in constant dialogue with God.  We talk as I wash dishes, fold laundry, and vacuum the house.  Though they can see my distress, my children feel more secure watching me keep up the daily rhythm. A mama scrubbing dirty dishes and singing through tears is much more comforting than a wailing woman buried in a pile of clean towel. (I’ve done it both ways.)  I rest from the extras.  I splice out my perfectionism and delight in enough.  I give my days some slack, some quiet, some stillness.  This helps me remember what I love about life. It shuts down the lie that depression is unending. When I stop pushing myself to be more I remember the joys I already have.   I rest from my worries.  There are just some things I can’t-do. I can’t spontaneously give my dyslexic daughter the ability to read at grade level.  I can’t give my husband the pay raise and professional praise he deserves.  I can’t be with my son every second to ensure every teenage decision is made with wisdom and forethought.  I can’t end suffering, or world hunger, or child abuse no matter how much money I give or letters I write or calls I make to Congress. Biscuits and rice! I can’t even stifle my own prideful spirit without God help.  However, I can rest in doing my part.  I can rest knowing that God can and will end such things in His perfect timing.  Becoming incapacitated with grief over the world’s darkness doesn’t help defeat it.   Love, hope, and faith these will defeat the darkness and I can have these in Christ.  So, I rest in Him. In Him, I am enough and I am free.

Depression is no joke. It’s not a cliché.  It’s not a mirage.  Nor is it an excuse, a lifestyle, or a destiny.  Our hope is anchored in Christ alone.  He may call us to walk across the invisible battlefield of depression but He has not left us unarmed. He will give us victory.  He has and does give it to me daily. My mana and quail. My hope and a future.  My light and my path.  If you live with the battle against depression, Jesus longs to give you His freedom as well.  Grab it with both hands and hold on. The feelings are fierce and fearsome but they will not last forever!  Keep fighting the good fight.

photo credit: KatieHolliday Cold via photopin (license)

 

 

MORE:

Books other than the Bible that have helped me overcome:

Sometimes my brain won’t  calm enough to read as I’m negotiating the wave of a storm formed for one… so music helps me greatly (on a side note the wrong music can trigger a deeper downward drift)  Here’s some cds/songs that strengthen my hope muscles.

Especially  the track titled:     Let it Go              (not an Elsa copy)

Plumb gets it.

Love the song Fighting Words

And as random as it may seem this song from a Disney film

These tunes either help me cry it out and cry for God’s help or the build me up so that I may encourage others. Either way, depression has never overcome me if I have remembered to keep this human temple filled with heartfelt praise.

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How Humbling Yourself In Your Time of Need Changes Everything by Tricia Goyer (Guest Post)

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The other day I was cooking dinner when my six-year-old son rushed into the kitchen.
Beads of sweat slid down his red face. “I’m so hot. You never get me anything to drink.”
I stirred my spaghetti sauce with one hand as I turned to him. “Excuse me?”
His voice rose in a full, high-pitched whine. “You never give me anything to drink!” He waved his hands and dropped to the floor.
I took in a breath and then released in, telling myself to keep my voice steady, calm. “I’d be happy to get you a drink. I just need you to ask.”
He kicked his foot against the floor. “But I want a drink now!”
“I know you do.” I peered down at him. “And as soon as you ask the right way I’m happy to get some some ice cold water.”
And then my son stood, smiled up at me and asked so sweetly for a drink of water … NOT!
Instead, he whined and fussed more. Finally, I asked him to leave the kitchen.
You know what? He never did ask. In fact, he didn’t get anything to drink until fifteen minutes later when we were sitting down to dinner. He was so bent on complaining and whining—in feeding his discontent—he didn’t want to release his control in order to ask me for help. I would have gladly given him the drink he requested if only he asked in the right away.

Feeding Our Discontent
I wish I could say this is just a little kid issue, but I’ve been there myself. During my teen years I lived in that storm of discontent. I complained when things didn’t go my way. I worried. I fretted. I fought.
I even took matters into my own hands when I found myself facing an unplanned pregnancy at age 15. My own fears and worries led me to a choice I now regret—I had an abortion.
It wasn’t until years later, at age 17 when I was pregnant again, that things took a turn for the better. It’s then I humbled myself and turned to God. By this point I realized the whining, complaining, and acting out wasn’t getting me what I wanted or needed.
At six months along, I wrapped my arms around my growing stomach and prayed, “Lord, if you can do anything with my life, please do.”
God showed up big time. He not own gave me Himself (which is the best!), He has also led me on a journey where radical, and wonderful things, have happened. This has included marrying a wonderful Christian man, having two more kids, starting a crisis pregnancy center, mentoring teen moms, adopting seven more children, and writing over 70 books!
God didn’t just offer me a cup of cool water when I asked. He opened the floodgates of blessing. But it took me humbling myself and seeking Jesus to meet my needs.
This reminds me of a Scripture I was reading just this morning, “I called on your name, LORD, from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea: ‘Do not close your ears to my cry for relief.’ You came near when I called you, and you said, ‘Do not fear.’ You, Lord, took up my case; you redeemed my life,” Lamentations 5:55-58.
Mumbling, complaining and griping is easy, but they rob us of having our greatest needs met. Yet when we humble ourselves and turn to God, things will change for the better.
When we call to the Lord, He hears us. When we turn to Him, He comes. When we call to Him, He reminds us that He is present and we have no reason to fear. When we place our needs in His court, Jesus redeems our life.
It took a lot to humble me as a teen—two unplanned pregnancies in fact. Yet I’m thankful that I learned back then that when I turn to God He will meet my needs. He will meet them in more wonderful ways than I ever expected.

 

You can read more about how God can show up radically in your life in the book Walk It Out: The Radical Result of Living God’s Word One Step at a Time (http://amzn.to/2wi1Cwi).

If you pre-order Walk It Out before October 1, you’ll also receive 30 Days of Prayer as You Walk It Out FREE! Details here: http://www.triciagoyer.com/walk-it-out/

Homeschool · Hormones · Uncategorized

Minecraft Mom

(How God used hunting zombies with my son to resurrect our relationship)

mob
photo by Bean

My boy was always talkative. He was born that way. Oozing with pride and dripping with first-time mama details, I spoke to my grandmother over the phone. Two states between us, her opportunity to snuggle her first great grand baby wouldn’t arrive for months. She asked if I could put my Bean on the phone with her. So, he could hear her voice. I obliged and then implored my 3-week-old bundle, “Can you say hi, Beanie?” No fibbing, the infant squeaked and cooed at the receiver. The long-distance shrieks of delight, from the other line, startled him. But there was no doubt, Bean had spoken. The chatter swelled from that moment onward.
At 17 months, Bean accompanied me on Christmas shopping trips and had a commentary and a critique about every purchased gift. We spent evenings with relatives, listening to Bean give elaborate, descriptive if a perhaps a bit disjointed, speeches. He made up stories. He produced poetry. He sang. Words, words, words. New. Old. More and more words. It never stopped. His sweet small voice followed me everywhere. Until he was 12. Even then, speeches were still spewed sporadically but they were loaded with accusation and angst, annoyance and aggravation. There were still many tender whispers but the space between them was heart-wrenching. At least for me. And I couldn’t help but wonder, was this conversational cold front hurting him, as well? Our connection was in flux, and that was fine, but we hadn’t yet found our new normal. And it was alienating us both.
One day, after a bout of belligerence, mine, I was shaken and scared.  I wanted these shouting matches to end.  I wanted to be with my son. I wanted to be a safe space for his secrets. I wanted him to know I cared even if things were weird. I washed my tear lined face and decided I was just going to be near Bean. I didn’t have to be in his face just near his space. I deliberately prayed for strength. The strength to let go. The strength to give Bean to God. And then, I walked quietly into his room. Sat on the floor. And played with Legos.
After a few minutes, Bean’s breath grew more natural. The anger had left. His face calmed. His heart softened. And he talked. He built his spaceship and I fiddled with mini-figures. And he talked. I sat nodding and he searched for 2×4 and 6×6 blocks. And he talked. He didn’t delve into the matter of the moment. He didn’t relive our conflict. He didn’t give away his most private thoughts. But he talked. And I listened and praised God.
Episodes like this came at random. But they acted as a salve in our communication. I pondered why but didn’t wait to discover the formula. I just kept doing it. Then at a CHEA convention, I attended a Rhonda Stoppe seminar. My eyes burst from my face when she explained that women communicate best when face to face and men do so better when working side by side. EUREKA!  I understood. Legos were my boys “work” and I had entered into it beside him. Thus, the newfound moments of bonding.
But my boy is no longer 12. Legos still entertain but aren’t the same. Enter in Minecraft. Blocks and cubes. Mines and ore. Sheep and pigs. Sitting side by side, controllers in hand, we build something together. (Or sometimes blow it up!) And we share. And the conversation is growing. What was once movies and toys has grown into books and homework assignments. Sometimes glimmers of dreams and plans for the future sneak in while Steve and Alex dodge creepers. Here’s my favorite part, because these intentional times have made our discourses more comfortable, the conversation doesn’t always stop when the console is powered down. It leaks into daily life. Drives in the car become doctrinal debates. Shopping trips turn into stories of science fiction variety. Asking for help with school work is easier because with the fear of judgment is lessened. Bean knows I’m more interested in hearing his thought process than worrying if he’s getting every answer correct. Our relationship is perfect. Perfectly flawed. Perfectly weird. Perfectly ours. We’re bonding as we’re giving one another space to grow. (As I am letting him be him, the man-child not the infant.) Hard times come. Fights happen. Forgiveness isn’t always easy. Jesus handles the heart. Prayer casts our cares. And Minecraft gets us talking. Perhaps…even one day… hopefully far off…  we’ll talk about girls.
Try it. Dare to be discontent with the divide but don’t be demanding. Meet your boy in his area of interest and just be.  The mom who’s thick skinned. The mom who’s tenderhearted. The mom who’s there. The mom who’s listening. Enjoy being the Minecraft mom.

creeper
photo by Bean

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Mug of the Month #2

frenchpress2Hello there, August. Bye bye July, you sneaky fast month, you.

Here’ my July/August M.O.M

My coffee of choice has been split between a smattering of ceramic mugs.  So, the coffee shall be the star this month.  I’ve been french pressing these days.  My smallest press gives me just enough joe for one gigantic jug.   I’ve even been known to drink it straight from the press. Oily, frothy, and feisty this method has me playing old melancholy music from my teen years.  Earbudding bits of Jeff Buckley, Nick Cave, and some Counting Crows pep me up and get my brain a’workin.   This is summer and for a homeschooling mama that means planning next year, attending training webinars, and even a convention or two. But it’s also the season to play and splash with my kiddos in our blow up pool.  They want fun moms to replace school moms.  They beg for board games and new adventures.  The long to find lost things and hide new things.  (AKA rock painting) And so, time is not my friend these months.  Nor is my tired mind.  Thus the deep draughts of dark deliciousness.  Sans proper or even paper cup.  I’ve really been enjoying an organic coffee I picked up in Montana.  Though I brew it sparingly. Who knows when my next road trip will lead me north?

Devotions:   I’ve been drawn to simpler methods of study during this season.  Using an app called ReadScripture I’m starting at Genesis and working my way to Revelation.  I’m decidedly slow in my reading.  I’m training my heart to linger over God’s word the way my senses linger over steamy slugs of coffee.  I want to discover details and get lost in the poetry and savor the ongoing saga that is the Bible.  Thanks to the app an alarm chirps near 8 am every morning reminding me to read.  Most of the time I don’t even allow my feet to feel carpet before I feast.  This is a newer and sometimes impossible habit I’m growing into.  I want to be a walker, a doer, not just a hearer.  So, I read first.  Even when the brew now button is beaconing.  Determining to make God my strength in action and thought and not depend solely on coffee to wake me up and get my day going.  The kids follow along if they’re awake.  (remember it’s summer).  If they’re occupying a pillow nearby I read aloud.  Sometimes, I read aloud anyway.  This helps me focus and not fall back asleep.  Try the app out.  It’s a simple encouragement to read the entirety of God’s word from start to finish.frenchpress1

What we’re reading:   Being summer the kiddos tend to take care of their book habit via Librivox.org.   They particularly love the narrator Kara Shallenberg of Kayray.org.  They’ve devoured The Hobbit, for the 100th time, listened to the Melendy quartet again and again, and branched off from each other to enjoy The Secret Garden and some Jim Wiess readings.   For me, as I’ve been cleaning and coordinating and collaging the next school year together,  I’ve been enjoying some Christian Fiction.  I’m not a huge fan of the genre, as I like my fiction addictive and not overly preachy.  But I fell headlong into Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.   Oh my my… how I loved the drama of it.   I loved the spurts of daily life humor.  I loved the aching angst of a heart struggling to understand grace.  It is now one of my all-time favorites.  Which is saying something, since  I normally dabbling in delightful narratives for the youngers.  I listened via Audible.  Not a child-friendly read my earbuds got a workout as I plugged them in and toted the characters around the house with me.  I challenge anyone not to enjoy this novel. I finished the entire 17 hours in less than four days.  That’s a lot of finagling and finessing of family and manipulation of time.  Though I don’t regret a second of it. This book was not only entertaining but inspired me to action.  Growing closer to the Lord and loving others more wholeheartedly.   If only I could apply my mad time management skills to homeschool prep work. Oh well, maybe next year.

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Why start yet another blog in a bogged down bloggy world

 

Well, why not? After attending an inspiring weekend at a CHEA of CA convention I was left seriously considering it. I have little skills, little knowledge, but I was more than a little encouraged. That leads to now. Here. Me, bumbling and stumbling and blogging away.
I have a story or two to spin but not enough brain power to plod my way through a novel. I have life experiences similar to some, unfamiliar to others. I’ve lived through and with my share of difficulties and I’ve had my bundle of exciting and uplifting events I’m a homeschooling mama of two. The wife of an awesome although underappreciated chef. I’m hitting my late 30’s and the hormone shifts that accompany middle age. I’m a snarky bitter rebel at heart, daily softened and sanctified by the love my unshakeable Savior, Jesus Christ.
But who cares? Why add my voice to a web of voices? Because, I have a feeling there are more than a few cyber kindred spirits out there who need an encourager along their journey. Moms who fret over their ability to teach their children. Women who struggle with spiritual and martial submission. Gals who may stay up way past their bedtime in hopes to finish a single cup of coffee while it’s still warm. Wanderers who wonder if anyone out there hears their hearts sigh. If you fall anywhere in that mix, or if you’ve tripped over my blog by mistake, welcome. This blog is for you. Thanks for visiting.