Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Dad got really teary
Greg reading some memories
Nate looking at his jar, and Kat with her homemade cards
Sarah Jane and her homemade cards
Saturday, December 26, 2009
It was the kind of thing I might read about in a case history – safely distant, someone else's particular torture. But it wasn't remote; it had directly invaded my brain. That overpowering noise could distort every mental pattern, setting all perception loose from its mooring. The torrent of sounds and sights disorients each moment, leaving nothing firm to hold to, no shape I can recognize , only a din of color, motion, threateningly near, whips of sensation, each small pain magnified in intensity because each is experienced for the first time as part of a shriek-like collision. There is a flailing to organize, find pattern and order, the habit of the intentional mind, but nothing sticks, no memory holds, no meaning persists to render the assault of bulleting crashes ordinary, expectable, endurable. It is the constant stress of assault, defense, striking back, retreat. No escape, just a desperate running, and there is nowhere to run. ~John Folk-Williams
Friday, December 11, 2009
Strategy Five: Define success flexibly: Value process, not just product An optimist hopes for the best, but has realistic expectations. There isn't just one bull's eye of success and everything else is failure. This usually means girding ourselves for slow progress and defining success broadly. When we set unrealistic expectations we manufacture unnecessary disappointment that we then have to waste our precious energy overcoming--it's an additional hurdle which we don't need right now.
This reminds me of what I read in Never Good Enough (a book about perfectionism) and what I learned in DBT about black and white thinking. Currently I am working on "cognitive restructing." Due to my perfectionism, personality and other things, I tend to have really distorted expectations for myself.
Success has been defined in my mind in black and white terms. Such as, "Your teaching licensce was non-renewed. Failure." "You're single with no children at age 25. Failure." "You don't have a 'real' job. Failure." "No graduate degree. In fact, no idea what you want to do with your life. Double failure." I could keep going but this isn't helping things. SO I have to change these thoughts into degrees. Such as "You survived two years teaching inner city teaching. Success!" and "You will make a better wife and mother one day because of your committment to healing of self and waiting until you are older and wiser. Success!"
Monday, December 7, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
The Altar and the Door
Careless, I am reckless
I'm a wrong way traveling, slowly unraveling, shell of a man
Burn out, I'm so numb now
That the fire's just an ember way down in the corner, of my cold, cold heart
Lord this time, I'll make it right
Here at the altar I lay my life
You're kingdom come and my will was done
My heart is broken as I cry....
Like so many times before
I flood my eyes
I try before I leave the floor
Oh Lord I try...(I'll try)
but this time Jesus how can I be sure
I would not lose my follow through
between the altar and the door
Here at the altar
Oh my world so black and white
How could I ever falter
What you've show me to be right
Lord this time (Lord this time)
I'll make it right (make it right)
Here at the altar I lay my life
You're kingdom come, but my will was done
my heart is broken as I cry
Like so many times before
but my eyes, are dry before I leave the floor
Oh Lord I try... (I'll try)
but this time Jesus how can I be sure
I would not lose my follow through
between the altar and the door
I'm trying so hard, to stop trying so hard
just let you be who you are
Lord who You are in me
Monday, November 30, 2009
Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.
I did *not* text my boss and try to get out of a shift. Whoever heard of doing that these days?
I did *not* step on it just so I wouldn't get passed in the left lane because I just love it when people don't give you the opportunity to get over and go crazy mad if you don't change lanes IMMEDIATELY.
I did *not* go 100 texts over on my parents and my family plan. Because I am one to actually hold a conversation with people. Why do people text anyway?
I did *not* pack my lunch for today, dinner for tonight, prepare my coffee for tomorrow, and pack my lunch for tomorrow all by 1:00 p.m. today. Because I am not a planner or overachiever and I just like to fly by the seat of my pants.
I did *not* help my dad get the Christmas tree down off the top of the garage using a rake to push it and slide it, neither did I whine and complain that my neck was hurting when he was the one who has chronic pain and the 150 lb tree was falling directly on top of him.
I did *not* spend 3 hours choosing, saving, and trying to position pictures on a page to print for the Christmas presents I am working on. Because of course I am NOT a perfectionist and I don't waste time on such things.
I did *not* refuse to help my mom decorate her Christmas tree (the one that I didn't help get down). Because I love being nostalgic and Christmasy and would never refuse to spend time with my dear mother who lives 200 miles away.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Let's see, some things on my mind, which may be the reason for my spaciness:
1) to date or not to date. Can't I enjoy my single life without feeling the pressure of "finding someone?"
2) How do you know if you've crossed the line into "New Age" thinking? Just because someone's thinking is different, are they New Age? What is New Age? Why do Christians have such a hard time with things that are "different?"
3) Why does God grant "miracles" to some and not to others? I've been struggling with this Scripture: " 'I will have mercy on wehom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.' It does not therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy." Romans 9:15-16
4) Should I look for a full time job just for the pay and benefits or should I just continue my crazy all-over-the place work life, with not a ton of security, living from paycheck to paycheck. (neither of which make me really happy? What I really want to do? Learn--go back to school! But who's going to pay for it?
5) Will I ever realize that there's no real way to "do" life, so why do I keep comparing myself to everyone and everything that ever lived or breathed? Save me from this bondage!
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
I want to focus on my good day.
You may think something exciting happened or I heard some good news. Like maybe world hunger is going down. Or that my dad's pain magically disappeared. Or that my brother Tim decided to move back from Germany (I know, I am happy for him, but miss him terribly). Or that I found the man of my dreams. Or that I have my financial situation under control. Or that I finally know what my life calling is.
Nope. It was just a normal day. The only thing I did differently was I took a Women's Multi-vitamin, which includes lots of things I've discovered I need enough of like Vitamin B6 and B12, Iron, and some other things and Omega 6. I did my normal amount of caffeine, normal amount of including God in my day-okay could have done a little better with that-, normal breakfast, normal amount of sleep. I even had a difficult subbing job. I went...and I just felt GREAT. (I will say my depression is exacerbated by physical symptoms and my physical symptoms exacerbate my depression. And as of late, this has been utter fatigue at sudden, random times, like I will literally feel drugged and have to leave an event to go to bed--unless I'm working, of course.) Anyway, I had an amazing amount of energy--not anxious energy from caffeine, in which my already scattered brain goes a trillion miles an hour then BOOM I crash into a comatose-like state. But no. I stayed positive and energetic. I genuinely LIKED myself. It was the best feeling in the world and I can't thank God enough for this simply beautiful day.
After work, I took a walk on some trails at a nearby park. Then helped my roommates clean up the yard. I could really feel the endorphins flowing out freely. I enjoyed a delicious leftover meal I made yesterday--chicken fettucini. IT was amAAAzing may I be so bold to say. Then to top it off, Theresa reset our wireless router, so I NOW have internet on my very own computer (I have been patiently waiting for weeks to get it figured out!)
THANK YOU GOD! I will hope for another wonderfully simple and beautiful day tomorrow. Even one such moment that I experienced today would be an incredible gift. (And I will try not to think about the mice I hear in the walls :( )
Monday, November 9, 2009
From an uncontrollable power
That seems to bind me at the most random times
Where tears fall so often
It seems I should be crying
When my eyes are dry
I am sitting in a state of mind not too unfamiliar
A little separated from what is going on
But the sun shining in
Reminds me of hope
From all these problems
The suffering of so many is not in my hands
I can only look to Him
And Him only
As I-not trudge-but triumphantly
Walk from one moment to the next
In a complex, confusing
But utterly beautiful, engaging, stunning world.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
I have a smile on my face because of two wonderfully delightful emails from this guy, a very special person in my life. He is over in Aachan, Germany right now but I get to see him in about six weeks! He is my dear little bro Timothy. Every day I try and remember to thank God for him and his life because not too long ago we almost lost it. Thanks be to God for his mercy and mind-bending power. I thank God for the friendship I share with Tim even across the miles.
Originally I was going to write about depression, but I guess that will have to wait til a different post! I am going to keep this all around positive! Love you bro.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
consider my sighing,
Listen to my cry for help,
my King and my God
For to you I pray
In the morning, O LORD,
you hear my voice
In the morning I lay my requests
and wait in expectation."
My heart is heavy
Mind all boggled with
Endless thoughts, ideas, aspirations, fears
I am so heavy laden.
I feel so bursting full
I do see beauty more than I ever have before
But I feel I've never been more
By thoughts, opinions,
That encourage, break down, accuse, question
Harrass, excite, enlighten, enrage, calm...
I can't get away from my racing brain
Just exacerbates any physical ailment
And seems to be both the cause and
Result of my
I've always had anxiety-but never before-like this
The good turned bad
All these thoughts have gotten me
Excited passionate about things
But at the same time I feel
Eaten alive by scorpions
Stuck in a box with little air
They're crawling everywhere
I'm suffocating in my good ideas (and bad)
Because I don't know what to do
With them all
There is so much pain in the world
I feel lately I've tried to take it all on
I've been not only passionate to stop it but
Totally incapacitated because of my
Utter bewilderment as to what to do
And the realization of my total
Inability to make a difference
When my depression was severe
I could fully feel my own sorrow
And when presented with others' suffering
My choices were
To totally deny it
Or to add their pain to my badge of suffering
Therefore deepening my already gapened wounds
And rendering me even more pitiful
Now, a new increasingly whole person,
I recognize the danger in
Suffering without action
But yet I am so weak
Daily presented with stats of rises in Swine Flu deaths
And percentages of those starving across the world
I refuse to let this news
Stick itself to my consciousness
And plague me with unwarranted
Selfishness and guilt
My heart has now flopped to my stomach
And I am raging inside
Wondering why I am sitting
Inside a nice warm house
Belly full, hot coffee next to me
On my way to a well-paying job
And, I try to remember
To thank you,
But I am so dry.
Lord, hear my plea for freedom
I'll never go back to where I was
but I've entered a new Battleground
Sunday, October 25, 2009
If there was a way to take away the extra chromosome away from your child and make them "typical" would you do it?
At least a dozen people responded and I was struck with the variety of answers. Many said, "no" they couldn't imagine their child a different way, and mentioned the joy he or she had brought in their life. Some who answered no in this way admitted they were being selfish, which I admired. A few answered, "yes" in a heart beat because of the pain and struggles their child had gone through. Of all the answers this one really aggravated me:
"For me this is an easy one! I would not take away Erin's extra 21st anymore than I would take away any other genetic trait that she has, as that is a piece of her that God created. I trust He knows what He is doing . I would also not wish for my other kids to have T21 because that is not what God intended for them. I want what God wants. Over the past 22 months, my hubby and I have felt incredibly blessed to have our little Erin, as we believe she is a gift not only for us but for the world. Yes, our kids are hidden treasures! We sure have grown to love that little something extra!"
Okay, while I do believe God created this beautiful person and in his eyes she is perfect, the fact that this parent thinks God intended for her to have this disability is appalling. I would have agreed with this person (with some reservations) before I read the book When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold S. Kushner, but now I can see that God INTENDED for no pain or suffering for any of us. And to say "I want what God wants" is great, but does he WANT this little one to suffer with Down's? When he created her did he think, I want her to suffer. As Kushner says in his book, does God go around joyfully doling out depression, cancer, or MS diagnoses. Hell, no! Because as much as we gain from children with Down's aren't we being selfish and heartless to say "If I were to give son/daughter with Down's freedom, I would choose not to." Here is another post where I have similar thoughts.
I don't know because I have often thought of that with my depression, would I want to be TOTALLY free? My depression is NOT me but it is a PART of me. It has truly influenced every ounce of my being and brought me to an incredible understanding of people and life and faith. So, maybe God did intend me to have it; or could we say, he forsaw (is this a word) my life with depression and my life without...and then did he just choose to allow the former. Anyway, I guess, in essence, I am torn because I understand people who say "My ____ (insert, cancer, e.g.) is the best thing that ever happened to me" but then I still don't believe God wanted them to be struck with it...More on this later.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
I feel pretty accomplished after that shift because I was able to hold it together while having worked 15 plus hours (I had sub taught that morning) and as I am not good with puke. My supervisor said make sure to go home and throw everything in the wash. (Which I typically do after each shift anyway!) The over night staff had to follow up on the sick man...but luckily between all of us, I was still able to leave at 10 pm.
Today I go to my PCA job. I had called the family and informed them that I may have been exposed to the H1N1 but could I still come to work. And my client's mom said that was fine, but the brother had been sick too...Anyway, I am ready for a nice relaxing day...And feeling fine, so far. Just tired.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
awash, brimful, brimming, bundled, chock, chock-full, compact, compressed, congested, consigned, crammed, crowded filled, full to the gills, jam-packed, jammed, loaded mobbed, overflowing, overloaded, serried, stuffed, swarming, to the roof, tumid.
I especially liked "tumid" whose synonyms are
bloated, bombastic, distended, enlarged, inflated, overblown, pompous, protuberant, puffy, swollen, tumescent, turgid.
I do thank God for my swollen mind because it's beautiful and complex and never-ending. Sometimes it just plain sucks. More about that later. My therapist has suggested finding a box and writing down each thought on a slip of paper, putting it in the box as a literal way of "putting the thought aside." Then I would take one piece of paper out at a time to worry/think about for that particular period of time. So maybe I will try that. I could list each of my thoughts on here, too, but then this blog would be too long and it is already quite lengthy.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
One of the many things on my mind. I just finished this book yesterday. It was not the most amazing eye-opening thing I've ever read but brought a lot of things to my mind, including the realization that I have an amazing family, wonderful brothers, for who I am so thankful! My three brothers are all over the country and world right now, so this makes a continuing relationship quite challenging. My oldest brother Nate is in Bend, OR; Greg and his wife Sarah live in Corpus Christi, Texas; and my younger bro Tim is completing a master's program in engineering in Aachan, Germany. Less than three years ago, we all lived within a few miles of each other in the Twin Cities area and got together a few times a month.
Being someone who doesn't adjust to change well, these transitions have been rough, but overall I look back and am so proud of each of my siblings, what they have contributed to my life and seek to build a stronger relationship with each one, as well as my sister-in-law. As a family we have seen intense triumphs and struggles these last three years, including my dad's illness and surgery, Tim's life-threatening accident, graduations from college (me), Seminary (Nate) and banking school (Dad), job struggles and changes for ALL of us, Dad's car accident, the recent deaths of our beloved grandma and uncle, the additions and subtractions of significant others, and so much more...
We have gone through so much and many of us are still in so much emotional and physical pain. But I am in awe of the amazing family I have and how we stronger because of all these struggles and successes; mostly how God has been there through it all.
I have been in WI visiting my parents these last two days and have mostly spent time with my dad because my mom's been at work visiting hospice patients. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of helping him move brush and carry boxes (of Tim's that we put into storage). He is still in lots of pain from his bad car accident a year ago, so small amounts of lifting can trigger extreme pain. It's hard for me to know what to do or say, so I guess I just have to be. Anyway, his attitude helps and strengthens me to focus on God's goodness, on forgiveness and looking ahead, not back, on ... hope.
Well, this isn't even what I was going to write about, but I will leave it at that for now!
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
I have really enjoyed substitute teaching. I have gotten a feel for what it might be like to teach high school for example. As one counselor at Spring Lake Park High School put it high schoolers are just "big little kids." And they are. But not really. They can do a whole lot more than Kindergartners, so that's why when I am really tired I prefer subbing for high school (11th or 12th) because they are so self-directed. But then again it could get boring so that's why Elementary is always good to switch things up.
My most amazing experience came last week when I somehow got ahold of a 2-day job at Wildwood Elementary in Mahtomedi. I was able to sub for the same first grade class for 2 days and had an amazing time! The main reason it was awesome is because the staff were so encouraging, helpful and kind. It is a K-2 school with about 8 sections of each grade, so still a pretty large elementary school! Anyway, the teacher's plans were quite detailed (always an amazing plus!) and the kids were quite well-behaved, according to me who is used to yelling, screaming, throwing chairs and tables, and physical fights (this was Kinder in inner city St. Paul). But anyway, all you have to do is say "Give me 5" and the entire class of 24 first graders will put their hands up and be totally quiet. It's amazing. Of course, they were a little crazy because they are 6 and 7-years-old so I used some songs and games I knew, and overall had everything under control. Mostly it was FUN and I had energy to enjoy myself!
The thing is, tons of staff complimented me on how good of a sub I was, and I felt like I hardly did anything...Anyway more on that later. This is too long! Well, maybe I will have a day off today!
Thursday, October 8, 2009
"These are warnings signs if the flu is severe...that you need to get your child to the hospital." The radio DJ says in the background.
My mind is throwing around all these colors and textures and words and sounds. And I look back on my week. Full of excitement, praise, hope, and the possibility of explosion.
The sun that came out yesterday was amazing...I even got out to go on a walk with my roommate, Theresa. We talked about our early babysitting experiences.
While I sit here, everyone I know is going through some sort of life transition or grief period. And I am praising God. Is that selfish?
I have gotten a job every day this week (either with the group home job or sub teaching) and have really enjoyed it despite my exhaustion and on-and-off headaches. After teaching first grade today, I will drive over to my old group home where I worked for three years and do a short shift there. I am so excited to see everyone again but it's going to be a crazy long work day. Then tomorrow I may or may not pick up a sub teaching job. And on Sat I work 16 hours at the regular group home and Sun 8 hours. I love God's provisions but hopefully I am not overdoing it.
I am really trying to be intentional about everything that's happening to me, take nothing for granted. While constantly praying for my friends/family who are struggling (who isn't?) I won't believe the lie that God should "spend less time with me and go to them who need him more." He has been my closest and Ever Presence these past few days and weeks. The only thing I am doing differently is simply inviting him in to the smallest tasks and thoughts. He truly does care, as I have learned. I tell Him all about these people that I love and care about, admitting that I CAN'T change their situation. He has really given me purpose, life and hope when I feel I least deserve it...
Anyway, yes a very random post.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
A new gift
I am astounded at
How the world has changed
My very source of stability
Seems to have slipped
Like a gripless shoe on solid ice
I am reminded again
So deep that your
Fingers are bleeding from all the
Effort of holding on
And the Knowledge
That there is only one Truth
To depend on another person
Or ideal can put an end to
I am aching for people
I love dearly
And those Who I don't yet know
I know I may seem close-minded to some
That my tried and true methods
Might seem rigid to Emergents
But I am one who lives and loves
Because of my experiences
The BitterSweetness the Savior
Has given to me
and the Love I can share because of
His Saving my Life
This priceless gift.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
I can't thank you enough for what's been going on. I could analyze it (OK truth be told, I already have: Let's see, am I content because of hormones, my transmitters are balanced, out of my own strength, my will to just "think positively", You rewarding me for ???, or any other number of reasons.) God, I don't know why I'm feeling okay, well, I guess, because of the many things I've accomplished: moving out, cleaning my old place, taking care of myself financially, trying to do the right thing with Matt, doing well at my new jobs, etc. But why is it that all these good things have to happen for me to be okay, dare I say, happy, joyful???? And what about when I feel intense pain, desperation for no rational reason. And what about when I feel "joyful" when I have great reason to be distressed? LORD, these feelings are so confusing; I just want to be stable and not have to question everything: motives, body chemistry, amount of faith, etc. LORD, when nothing makes sense, I'm glad to know that it's in Your hands and makes sense to You! Lord, I am happy and I want to embrace it, want to celebrate, what's wrong with getting excited?? It's the fears, lies that creep in, telling me I'm supposed to be miserable...WHAT?? I don't understand how I can believe that but it's a struggle I've dealt with as long as I can remember!! Fear of, well if I'm having fun, maybe I'm not working (i.e. today) and I'm not working, well, then I'm lazy. And I feel guilty as well. I'm using the government, which includes people way less off than me. I feel incompetent..." Yeah then it continues. Just because I applied for one week of unemployment doesn't mean I'm lazy; I still worked just not FT and this week I will have worked approx. 30 hours!! (between 3 jobs) Thank you God!
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Inside where no one can see, I see my self. The self I hate and know is not my real self. But I sometimes glimpse the real person I am and want to be. But the dark and eery creatures eat the real me alive and I am screaming, yelping to not drown under their cackling bodies. I literally call out “Jesus” but I must not be doing it right because they just come right back. Again and again when I least want them there. When my relationships just begin to mend and I feel like I once again have a purpose. I am burned and all I can see is that it was me.
But I want to celebrate this moment of peace I have been given. I don’t know why Satan chooses to come at one time and not another. Or is it because I am stronger now? I don’t think so. Is it because my chemicals are more balanced? Probably, but that might have nothing to do with the fact that I took my medication. All I know is I can’t see past this wretchedness. I can just see a whirlwind cycle. Up, down, pow, bam-bam-bam, circling, sniping, swimming back, forth. Then up, down, pow. All over again. And your mind is telling you you have to do something about it. But all you can do is slump over with a sigh because trying has just led to failure, again and again and again. And the Church is saying we don’t have to defeat Satan because he’s already been defeated on the Cross. Blah, blah, blah. What does that mean? What do I DO? How much is spiritual and biological or should I just assume it’s biological because the spiritual has turned it that way?
Am I eternally flawed? Is God looking down on me asking, ‘When will you get it?’” I really hope I get it soon. The God I know and love wouldn’t say that, but why would he really want us to be this desperate, hopeless and confused. I feel like I seek him, ask him for help so much he is probably so tired…and like, "Okay. I’ve already told you the answer. Are you really listening?!” Or does he say, “Just hang on. Just a little longer. The pain won’t last too much longer. You’ll only fail this many more times.” I am so damn tired of hanging on, God! I want it to be real and better. And I want to know my feelings as something more that just fleeting seeds flitting about by each breath of wind, knocking the air out of you as they pass by. I want to know hope and freedom. And not just today; but forever. Some people may say it's a choice. I would like to believe it too. Wouldn't I have chosen it by now?
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
But I will be moving in with two people. My close friend Theresa has a house she bought a few months ago. She lives with Jen, who I am still getting to know. Theresa's probably the closest friend I've had in a long time, so the fact that I'll be living with her freaks me out just a bit. I have had my share of heartache living with best friends.
But as the day draws nearer, I am thinking of...get this...the positives of this situation! I'm thinking of how I'll arrange my small bedroom (I have been spoiled with my large one in this apt). Mostly...how I will be getting away from here, a place that I love because it represents my independence, besides my and Matt's love of the hot tub (and pool), and because of the vast array of beautiful (albeit annoying) people of all ages and races. But I will be moving a little further away from the city, in a neighborhood where there's not constant horns beeping, car alarms scaring me out of my wits, radios blaring, kids screaming, dogs barking, or construction machinery howling. Where drunk people don't accidentally try to come in (and if they do, at least I won't be all by myself!)
Mostly, my moving means growth for myself, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, interpersonally. I can work on my skills of interpersonal effectiveness from DBT. As I said I have struggled in the past with girlfriends/roommates. Who hasn't? I worry about conflict because I hate it and tend to avoid it; that's why I have to create situations in which to practice these skills. I am worried about my and Theresa's first "fight." But all close friends have them, or do they? Maybe I mean more, our first disagreement. But the great thing about Theresa is she has demonstrated unconditional acceptance of me. She is one of those people I don't have to worry about offending and to whom I can tell anything. Not only that; it is not a one-sided relationship. She also comes to me, asking my opinion or sometimes just for an ear to listen. So...while praising God for this friendship, I also ask myself, will I mess up? Will it get ruined while living together (as past experiences have shown)? But I won't focus on that now.
I started off positively; I'll end positively: I can't wait to see where God will take me on this next leg of my journey! Now off to continue packing...
Friday, September 11, 2009
A Poem of Remembrance
By Brittany R. Bettger
Tuesday, the eleventh of September,
A horrific day that we’ll always remember.
Who knew this could happen?
Who could foretell?
As the towers collapsed
And the pentagon fell,
The words of our president rang in our heads like a bell:
“Whoever was behind this tragic attack
Will not succeed in this cowardly act.”
We’d never thought that our perfect lives in America could change.
It was evident afterwards that, yes, our lives would change
After seeing people crying amidst billows of smoke and debris,
Coming from the state that has always represented our liberty.
We grieve with the victims' families during this mournful hour.
A time when we feel our nation is slipping from its strength and its power.
It is hard to imagine their grief and their pain,
But something from their sensitive words, we can gain.
At a time of panic, calamity, and strife,
We are struck with the realization of what’s important in life.
The people we love may not be here for long, so please don’t wait
To tell them how much they mean to you or it might be too late.
After this day, it will be inevitably true:
We will question our safety and our freedom too.
How do we overcome such an event?
Will we ever live our lives the same again?
How do we get away from the hurt we feel?
Is it wrong to have fun again or to eat a nice meal
When others are dying, or lost or hurt?
Should we continue life as it was or constantly remain on high alert?
These questions we hope will be answered soon.
May we never forget those whose lives were ruined.
And as this gaping hole in our hearts once again becomes restored,
May this solemn and tragic day never be ignored.
We might never know what the future holds.
But right now is a time to pray and be bold.
Never forget what it means to be free,
To live in a place of joy and liberty.
Value the things you have and let loose the things you don’t need.
Know your friends and pray for your enemies.
Most of all, trust in the hope that our Lord will somehow make us see
That America will one day be all that it used to be.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
In college, I had new labels: "sister-in-law," "girlfriend", "youth leader," "professional", and "teacher". I dreamed of others: "aunt," "wife," "mom," ("stay-at-home-mom"), "college graduate" and "depression-survivor." When some of my "dreams" didn't come to be, I felt like a failure. I overlooked the fact that I was indeed a college graduate, a practicing teacher, a growing Christian, loving friend and thriving in the aftermath of a wretched illness. Instead I focused on what I was not.
Today, in my personal journal, I reflected not just on my changing labels, but those of people in my life. A few of my friends and my cousin are going to be moms, some have become teachers or missionaries. As a college-graduate, the number one question I get asked is (after they find out that yes, I have graduated), "What do you do?" I used to always say, "I am a Kindergarten teacher." But even then, I wasn't too proud. But at least it was something. Now I don't know what to say. I guess I could say a "teacher in transition." Because of a new job, I have acquired a label of PCA (personal care attendant). But PCAs aren't real jobs. They're transition jobs, usually people do them while they look for their real job, what they went to school for. I am not saying I look down on what I do; I am just saying, this is what society says.
I am learning to hate labels. Maybe some are inevitable such as a job title or the fact that I am a Christian. (That is, I am a "follower of Christ"--the literal meaning of the word, but I don't always like to associate with Christians). Some labels I am working on changing or "reframing." Maybe all that takes is to tell myself, "I am healing from depression, but I am not my depression. And not all the decisions in my life have to revolve around this."
Then there's the lack of labels, the ones I'd always wished I'd have by now at age 25: "wife" and "mom." This, I admit has been a struggle as I weekly hear of marriages, pregnancies and births of my friends/family members. (While I truly am happy for them, the Devil likes to come in and lure me away from happiness and towards myself with his lies.) The truth is, my worth is NOT dependent on my marital status. Yeah, yeah, it's so easy to say but I have to cling to this, looking back at all the wonderful things I have been given and saved from. I used to think "I don't want Jesus to come back before I have gotten married and have had children." I have grown so much since then! Life is not about your role in life. I am so selfish to think I deserve to be married and have kids, or whatever. I don't believe Christ wants me to suffer as I wait, rather he joins me in my suffering. If I grow closer to him because of this wait, then that will be a much greater gift then any other. Because of his mercy and clarity in my life, I am happy to say that I am comfortable being single (unmarried) much of the time.
While I still have dreams, I try not to let the labels that come with these dreams define who I am. I end up only more scarred and empty. The only label I now want is "daughter of the King."
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
If our thoughts, feelings, attitudes, fears and behavior are simply controlled by our moral choice, then, one would assume that if you have obvious mental illness it is sin because you have chosen to think badly.
Evangelicals love this paradigm, especially if their mental health issues are easy to hide. The reason is, they can look as someone suffering from, say depression (and they don’t have depression), and feel better about themselves. They like to think that they don’t have depression because they have more faith, pray more and etc. On the other hand, the one who does have the problem starts to feel more and more guilt because they too start to believe that their mental illness is simply a result of their bad choices.
One of the biggest movements in Evangelical psychology was Nouthetic Counseling. Basically the word Nouthetic means a type of confrontation. You confront the mentally ill person and get them to repent (or cast out the demon) and presto, they get better. In my personal opinion, and I was a great advocate for this movement for a couple of decades, is that it is pure bullshit. It has done a lot of damage to people whom god loves and gave his son for.
But in reality, mental health issues are based in the organic, concrete, brain. Even if the mental illness, such as PTSD, is a function of nurture . . . it becomes nature because the physical brain actually changes under the influence of extreme stress. I won’t go into that here.
So a better paradigm is realizing that these so-called invisible or spiritual attributes are founded in the physical (the incredible brain which God has made) then the approach has to be different. It is different because some disorders, just like a congenital heart defect or lameness won’t magically go away with a simple cure. So, baring a supernatural miracle, on the order of raising a stone-cold, decaying body from the dead, a schizophrenic will never be cured.But mental illness can get better and can, in most situations, be controlled. But it is more like redirecting a glacier than fanning steam. It is hard work. It takes a huge amount of energy and support and yes . . . often it requires medications.
The “steppers,” like Bill Gothard, are also a disservice to those who suffer from real mental illness. He has 5 steps to perfect everything. So, in his opinion, if you jump through hoops x, y and z your depression will be gone. So, in real life, when your depression does not get better then you have a choice of looking like a failure, or push your mental illness underground.
So in summary, while mental illness is a product of the fall, there is a very good chance that it has nothing to do with its victims’ moral choices. No one hates their mental illness more than those who suffer from them. There is not an infinite amount of disciplines that they would not do, steps that they would not take, to rid themselves of the disorder once and for all.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
On Sunday I completed my first shadow shift at the group home. I met the four men with whom I will be working. Three of the four men have CP (cerebral palsy) and another man has a Parkinson's-like condition. Since I have worked with this company before, I kept thinking of things maybe I "should" be doing. It was hard to relax, but I just kept trying to force myself. The men are great and put lots of smiles on my face! It will be quite different as 3 of the 4 men are verbal and the last group home I worked at, the folks were nonverbal. There are many other differences too. Coming from a different home that was more strict, I have to learn how to be more laid back--maybe that will be good for me! Overall, I think I will enjoy working here. I work again on Thursday.
So my fall schedule looks kind of like this: I will be subbing Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesday half day mornings, and Fridays; working at the group home Wednesday evenings, some weekends; and PCA-ing Thursdays and some evenings and weekends. Yes, a wee bit crazy, especially as I still have lots of trainings to complete. Then you throw in moving in a few weeks and I get a little freaked. But luckily I am totally in control of my subbing schedule-I can just choose not to work it I want! I am continually seeking God and feel at peace about the job situation. He is so good, and most of all, he is all-powerful and I need to continually surrender each moment to Him. As He demonstrates, He knows so much more than I do about what is best for me!!!!!! Thanks for prayers...
Saturday, August 29, 2009
And now I can't take it back
I know I am forgiven
But if someone talked to me that way
I would be gone
I am so broken, torn, bleeding
Full of holes oozing with nothingness
I don't understand all of these problems
And the Devil continues to prowl
Trying to break the links of freedom and forgiveness
I don't know where to go
What's up down right left front back
But somehow I claim this promise of peace
In the waiting
We are both so broken and wretched
Yet so loved forgiven
It seems no matter how much I try
The worse I fall
The worse of a person I become
The ugliness I try to hide
Comes out with the ones I care for most
I feel I have no excuse
And the truths are mixed in with deceit
Will I ever become the one He wants me to be?
And why do relationships have to be this way?
Why do I always struggle for perfection when I know
It just leads to bondage and depression?
I will try to live my life in the questions
As always, hanging on each moment
Remembering small joys, small fragments of peace,
The times I hung on for dear life
Knowing I will never go back to
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Back at ACR: Conversations in my head about the Value of Life
...I really hereby say I alone cannot do this job. I got this job by a miracle (long story), and I do believe God led me to it, not so I could help, but so that I could be helped. As I am in training once again, I love hearing the stories and seeing the faces of the beautiful residents, some recognizable and others new. But again and again, I am puzzled: How did I get hired? How can I do this job? ...Empathy, compassion, integrity--all the qualities this company asserts I possess--the Evil One would like to think I don’t have them. I know I don’t either, but with the Spirit, I do. I have had the Spirit all my life but have recently tried to be more conscious of his ever-presence in my life. Working for this company and with these wonderful people, it has to be said no matter how cliché, literally changed my life. And as I went on a walk today, I wondered at it, musing, What was it that really changed in me? The main thing was my amount of joy. The funny thing was this job was such a gift and I didn’t even realize it because, in the first place, I didn’t even want to work there. It took second place to a full time nanny position. But I accepted it since I needed a job, having lots of doubts, but still surprised they would think me a good candidate.
Today in the class we talked about intrinsic value and compared people’s value to the value of a car. We had to discuss the differences in a small group. The other two girls and I were at a loss for words because it was just so obvious how immoral it was to even consider comparing a car with a person. Anyway, it really did get me thinking. If a car is broken, there is a point you don’t fix it anymore. How sad it is to say, that some still view people this way; well, in their minds, they wouldn’t even consider them people. As I continued to feel more and more righteous indignation, I continually felt the doubts about the Truth flood in and then…the familiar voices. “But do you really believe that? All people have worth? How do you know they wouldn’t be better off dead? How do you know if it’s better to allow a child with Down Syndrome to live because that’s the ‘morally’ correct thing? How do you know they wouldn’t be better off without all that pain and sickness? So maybe they seem happy. But aren’t we just using them? To bring us joy? Think about it. They might not even want to live. At least the ones who are nonverbal…how are we going to know if they really want to be alive?”
I thought about how I had pulled up into the ACR parking lot an hour earlier. The parking lot was incredibly full but I luckily found a spot only a few doors down from the training center. As I pulled up, there was a lady sitting in the corner staring at me. Her whole body was noticeable because it was a clear door with narrow clear floor-to-ceiling windows on either side. She was wearing a purple summer shirt and white pants. Her one hand was crossed over her knees which were drawn up and I instantly noticed she was developmentally disabled. When our eyes met, she immediately produced a gigantic smile and her hand waved against the glass. I don’t know how others feel when they are smiled at by strangers, but I think it is one of the best feelings in the world. I immediately felt intense joy as I smiled in spite of myself. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of her and her smile. She seemed to not want me to look away and the moment we shared was so intense, I was even afraid it might disappoint her if I looked down. A thought popped into my head: “She is such a beautiful person. Why would anyone look down on her? If they really looked they would see and experience such joy.” And I was comforted with the understanding of why God allowed people to have disabilities. And then, “But that is so selfish. You have no idea who that lady is or the pain and discomfort she might experience on a daily basis. Why would you say it’s good that God allowed disabilities, allowed others to suffer so that they could help someone like you?” And then I went into a tail spin as my mind recalled all my experiences of joy with my former residents, all six of them. I love thinking of them because I can’t stop smiling. But, is that okay? My doubts continued. Because looking back at my ACR job, I can’t see that I did much, but that I was the one continually blessed.
I think of *** who had so much to endure at the end of his young life. And I wonder is it wrong to think, What if *** had never existed? If he didn’t have to go through all that pain? But then I realize. *** had a really great life. Amazing parents and family. Parents who would have laid down their lives for him and maybe did. I don’t know. He had a good home and caregivers who also loved him. He loved going on trips in the car, on vacation. He liked reading books and holding hands. He loved holding little objects and throwing them. He especially liked licking his finger and then poking you in the eye with it (or the butt). Why would God not want *** to experience that love and to have us experience the joy he brought us?
And so my resolution is this: We can’t question God. Why he allows this person to live, that one to die. This perfectly healthy one to die suddenly, another to die a painful death. Why this amazingly genius of a person gets in an accident and suddenly has the mind of a five-year-old. Why this perfectly healthy baby dies at birth by pure accident, and this other one lives fifty years with the mind of an infant. Why this child has severe mental disabilities and that one has severe physical disabilities. Why another individual struggles with chronic pain…the list continues to eternity. It is the question of evil and suffering. The constant questions of Christians and non-Christians alike. But what I do know is what is the point of questioning? What is, is. If I got joy from being poked by ***, I shouldn’t feel guilty that maybe I am using him or something. (Okay so maybe only somebody with such obsessions and tendencies toward absurd guilt will have thoughts like this, but I am being honest.) I should revel in that joy. I used to just sit and stare at him (or another resident) and just thank God for him or her.
I am allowed to feel joy. That doesn’t mean I am saying, “Oh you’re so cute. I like when you make me laugh. Too bad you have to go through all that suffering. Too bad you were created to be used by others.” That is the Evil One trying to ruin my focus and make me think I am a bad person when I am truly one living in the freedom of the Holy Spirit, one whose belief in the sanctity of life is unwavering. Yes I struggle when I see pain and I admit I wonder, what if that person just died and went to heaven? I admit this because I have said it a lot about myself in my own struggles with depression. And when *** died, I knew it was God’s timing. (I had had so many dreams asleep and awake of this happening…I just wanted him to be at peace, free of pain.) I felt sad that I wouldn’t see his happy face anymore or feel his pokes, even if they were slobbery, but I was relieved that he was now freed to be the true unbroken person God had wanted for him before the fall of man. He was laughing constantly, running, walking (and enjoying it!), eating all his favorite foods, taking hot baths and just laying down at the feet of the Savior who had carried him all those good and painful years.
So I guess I will always struggle in my mind. What is life? Do I really value it? Because ever since high school (maybe earlier) I started wondering about the value of my own life. The Devil had a stronghold. Unfortunately, my genes and tendencies toward melancholia didn’t help. But I am happy to say I now 99% of the time value my own life. How much more can I value others’ lives when I value my own? We are each a son or daughter of the Risen Savior, made in His Image. Imago Dei. I say that when I see someone, a stranger; it especially helps if they are not the most attractive. I don’t know why God allows people with disabilities to have a place in our world except for the fact that I am a completely different person because of them. I don’t even feel worthy of all that care, love and joy they brought into me, transforming into someone I have a hard time recognizing today! I don’t know if that’s selfish or not. Who are we to say that people with disabilities don’t experience joy or pleasure, or that they are continually in pain or discomfort? We are not them. Only Jesus knows their soul. So to have peace with myself, I will say, I am cut out for this job. With Him and only with Him, otherwise I would not have made it. That goes for every challenging thing I have gone through. Another thought, maybe I have contributed to the lives of those people with whom I worked. Maybe God did work through me to better their lives in some small way. Maybe they are happy with their lives and to be alive in a way that we will never understand. Doesn’t everyone have a chance at life?
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Mostly I am in this numb state of mind. There is a sheet of glass I am looking through. Somewhat clear but mostly distorted and I just choose to look the other way. While I am hopeful--it's a sort of surreal-hopeful--about my new jobs starting up, I haven't dealt with another large part of my life, that being the current relationship I am in. I frankly don't know what to do or say, so I just let it be. Do I have to make a decision? What decision is that? All I can think of is this song lyric "Should I stay or should I go?"
I was reading in this book about perfectionism that perfectionists tend to have a lot of self-doubt, which makes decision making quite challenging. They generally don't mind putting something off until "no decision is made or the decision is made by default." In this process of "ambivalating," perfectionists are sometimes grateful when others make decisions for them. That describes me to a "T." The only problem is, no one can really make a decision about my relationship. No matter how much I talk to God, I don't hear Him clearly, except that "I will never leave you." But will he ever tell me if I am dating the right person?
As with every problem in my life, I am constantly searching for answers, whether in books, from people I love and respect, from the Bible, from Dr. Phil, from my therapist, from within myself. I literally cannot REST until I have some sort of ideas. Well, I am now so full of ideas that I have become comatose--unable to think or release. So there I sit. Can't make a decision so I just keep praying and living.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
A good reminder to keep myself in the Word as I go through this painful confusion and muddle through each unknown that seems to get more and more pronounced each day.
"For Reassurance" ~ by Debbie Perlman
I shall wait in Your sight:
Prepare me with Your teachings;
Place knowledge as a screen,
A shelter against winds of adversity.
I shall wait in Your sight:
Animate me with Your teachings;
Invigorate my days with purpose,
Enlarge my actions with meaning.
I shall wait in Your sight:
Empower me with Your teachings;
Let my thirst never be quenched,
Let me drink from Your well.
I shall wait in Your sight:
Secure in who I am,
I will push back the webs of worry
To face my daily challenges.
I shall wait in Your sight:
Secure in Who You are,
I will lean against Your teaching
To guide my daily acts.
Monday, August 24, 2009
The job things is only one thing on my mind.
Matt (my boyfriend) and I are in WI and going to head back to the cities today. Over the weekend, we went to IL with my parents and sent Tim off to Germany yesterday. It was a busy weekend of driving, but luckily we are able to be a little more relaxed today.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Most of you reading this probably know at least something about me. I am in--what they say--the post-college, quarter-life crisis state. But no, there's really no crisis. Rather a waiting period. In which I continue to try and breathe each moment as if it were from the Savior Himself. And it really is.
I recently finished reading a book I had wanted to read for a long long time called The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. Just a small book I read in a few days. Even before reading it, but especially after, I realized how God is essentially in EVERYTHING, whether we regard Him or not. He is such a personal God, as I have realized abundantly the last week or so. Since I opened my heart to Him and invited Him in everything, even the simplest things, I experienced a continual transformation. From the depth of my being, I couldn't stop reaching and longing for Him. The peace I felt was incredible but at the same time a lot of interesting, not-so-peaceful things, happened. It is so hard to put into words but it was basically an intense feeling of oppression, a hollowness and a sudden doubt of all I knew to be true. As one who has always struggled internally, I thought maybe it to be a combination of my caffeine intake and my scattered sporadic neurotransmitters. But more and more I found it was spiritual; the lies in my head could only be combated with the Truth I and those around me possess. "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings." 1 Peter 5:8-9
To encourage both you and me in our continual Christian spiritual struggle, I offer the Spirit-inspired words of Brother Lawrence:
"Take courage; offer Him your pains incessantly; pray to Him for strength to endure them. Above all, get a habit of entertaining yourself often with God, and forget Him the least that you can. Adore Him in your infirmities, offer yourself to Him from time to time, and in the height of your sufferings beseech Him humbly and affectionately (as a child His father) to make you conformable to His holy will...I would willingly ask of God a part of your sufferings, but that I know my weakness, which is so great that if He left me one moment to myself I should be the most wretched man alive. And yet I know not how He can leave me alone, because faith gives me as strong a conviction as sense can do that He never forsakes us until we have first forsaken Him. Let us fear to leave Him. Let us be always with Him. Let us live and die in His presence."