Sunday, October 24, 2010

Where is my hope?

The other day I had a nice post written about my measly self and life. I thought, "Oh this is actually pretty good. I should save it just in case." But I didn't. Then the power suddenly went out. So much for that.

I am hurting for loved ones right now. Especially my beautiful cousin Becca who lost her third baby. I can't imagine what pain she must feel so I am crying out to God to comfort her like no one can. Then there's my friend Kat whose brother was murdered a week ago. I was reading some tributes to her brother Leo this morning. He was only 22 years old. I just can't believe what kind of f'ed up world we live in. And I am trying to hang on to hope. If not for me, at least for my sweet dear cousin who doesn't deserve any of this crap. Or for a family whose wonderful brother and son was violently, tragically ripped from their lives...

I was feeling pain earlier. But now it's deadness. Like it's not even me writing. I don't really know if I am sad. Because it is kind of no emotions. None of the stress I am dealing with can compare to the pain of these two wonderful women and the people closest to them. But comparing doesn't help I suppose.

I don't really want to talk about me and my drama with messed up relationships and lack of knowledge of self.

When listening to some of my favorite songs, I, like I often do, wondered: Do I even believe this? "He has been there before/He will be there again" and other songs with a similar Jesus-will-never-forsake-you theme. Sometimes I wonder if I am Christian, because when Greg Boyd (my pastor) says to imagine Jesus in your head, I can't. How am I supposed to know what he looked like? And I wonder if maybe Jews could get into heaven even they don't believe in Jesus. That makes me feel like a heretic.

I want to turn the world off and focus on hope and life. The only way I can do that is if I have Someone to hope in. For all my life, I've hoped in Christ because I was told to; I always wondered if I was doing it right. I don't want to hope because I'm told to. I want to hope because it's all I can do. I don't know if it's my own evil self or something evil putting thoughts in my head that I can't trust Jesus. Because look at all the people that kill themselves who were Christians...

Okay sorry for that tangent. It's like this: I trust God but Jesus is kind of distant. I know they are one and the same and Jesus is supposed to be "God visible" but I don't feel that. All I see is his Awesomeness in nature and his Beauty in people. I don't feel Him right now in this moment. Jesus. Sitting next to me as I cry for everyone who is hurting, yelling at Him: Where are you?????

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My Life Right Now

I haven't fallen off the face of the earth, but I have been busier than I can remember being in many years.

I had been doing really well, confident, joyful, and positive amidst my stress and busyness of life. Until the last few days. I could go into detail about why I think that is...but what's the point?

I woke up this morning to a very disturbing text. The brother of a friend of mine was murdered in Minneapolis by one of his tenants. I am very sad and pained to hear this. What kind of f'ed up world do we live in, I wonder sometimes? I don't even know how to pray for Kat and her family. Please pray for the Kohorst family if you think of it.

I also seemed to be doomed to fail at my relationships with men. I have been suffering a lot in this regard. But I am trying to get my mind off of it.

In a more positive light, I am enjoying my teaching job as a part time elementary Spanish teacher. It's crazy of course, because I have to plan the curriculum myself (with some help from other Spanish teachers in the district) but I am SO blessed to finally have a community to call my own and a principal who actually supports me and believes in me, rather than the opposite (like my last teaching job). Oh not to mention students who I actually can teach and who I enjoy teaching! God thank you for this amazing job!

Grad school is a little discouraging. I am not even sure if I want to do special education anymore and with the days getting shorter and my depression setting in again, I don't know if I can handle the stress of school and work (not to mention all the other crap). So who knows...

I am off work today and tomorrow. It's so nice to have a break. My roomie and I are going shopping so that's exciting. I will try to post more...if there's ever time!

Much love to all (even if you don't read this)!

Monday, September 6, 2010

New Things

My mind is busy as always. The last two weekends were pretty fun. I went to IL to see family. Got to stay with my beloved cousin, Becca and her husband Dan. It was refreshing to get away. Then, on Monday, my first day of Teacher Workshop Week, a really bad cold hit, from which I am still recovering.

My parents came this past weekend, as well as some friends from out of town. Although a little overwhelmed with thoughts and discussions with my parents about theology, my weekend was, for the most part, refreshing.

Tomorrow I start my first day of teaching at my new job. I also started my Special Ed grad program last week. Lots of thoughts are floating around about faith, God, and Christianity; getting back into teaching; people with disabilities and why I decided to go into special education; depression/mental health; my upcoming trip to OR for my brother's wedding; relationships with friends; and an important decision I must make about a particular relationship with a good friend who happens to be a guy.

I am feeling mostly at peace about all of these new things. But the dreariness outside has put me in a strange mood. I feel tranquility that is on the edge of a kind of nothingness, blah-ness. I want to be ready for my week but it's like there is a strange something blocking my path toward awareness. I would like to get out of this funk but I am not sure where to turn or what to do.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Smile



This is me and Ru (short for "Rufus") the dog I am taking care of. He makes me smile with his wagging tail and crazy excitement for life. The family he is a part of is such a great family and I smile thinking about them too. I hope they are enjoying their vacation. Their daughter Maddie is a wonderful young woman I PCA for (I talked about her on a different post.)

I am feeling awake and rejuvenated unlike last evening. MY body is ripping apart realizing the days are getting shorter. I know it could have been due to thunderstorms going through, but seriously yesterday it was dark already at 8 pm. :( It's amazing what my neurotransmitters do when the sun goes down at the end of each day.

This morning Ru and I got a nice walk in. I am not used to big dogs but luckily the leader collar helps. Sometimes he'll suddenly lurk forward in pursuit of a squirrel; there was one close call.

I feel very proud of myself because I have been getting ready for the fall by lesson planning (yes, already!) This morning I received an email with the "Specialist's schedule" (Specialists are non-classroom teachers like Art, Music, PE, and Spanish-me). IT looks like there are 4 first grade classes and 3 classes of grades 2-5. Whew! But the nice thing is I will only have them for 30 minutes at a time. Each class will see me every 2 to 3 days. I am really starting to (allow myself to) get excited.

Probably my biggest struggle in life is allowing myself to experience joy, excitement and fun. It has a lot to do with my melancholy personality. I am more of a negative person, but of course I can be quite positive too. I am also quite hard on myself and I hate to fail. Plus, change is hard for anyone, but especially me it seems. So that's why this new job and grad school coming up are scary.

In my struggles with loneliness, worry and physical discomfort lately, I have been feeling even more drawn to my Savior and the Healer of my body. I have met Him primarily through music. One of my favorite artists is Meredith Andrews. All of her songs are amazing. I especially love "Can Anybody Hear Me?" It speaks to me because it's just how I feel. I'll share it with you:

I’m staring at these empty walls
Wondering when You’ll visit me again
When will You come?
If there is anything at all
Coming in between our love
Please show me, ‘cuz I am barely hanging on

Can anybody hear me?
The silence is deafening
Why do You feel so far away?
When I know You’re here with me
But I just need faith to see
Nothing can separate me from Your love

Believing what I can’t see
Has never come naturally to me
And I’ve got questions
But I am certain of a Love
Strong enough to hold me when I’m doubting
You’ll never let go of my hand


Can anybody hear me?
The silence is deafening
Why do You feel so far away?
When I know You’re here with me
But I just need faith to see
Nothing can separate me from Your love

I will trust in You, even in the moments
I can’t find you, and I will hold on to
Your promises of love
You’ve never failed before

I know You can hear me
When the silence is deafening
Even though You seem far away
And I know You’re here with me
But I just need faith to see
Nothing can separate me from Your love


Hope you were blessed by these words. Now off to to see my beloved niece, nephew, bro and sis-in-law! Oh how I love them.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lonely but at Peace

A few weeks ago I had the deepest feelings of loneliness I remembered having in a very long time. I cried and cried my heart out to God. I did feel sad but it didn't feel like depression as much as just this aching emptiness. I was supposed to go to this event with a friend and she backed out of it at the last minute. It was a "Wellness Picnic" hosted by the chiropractor/wellness place I go to. And it was too last minute to ask anyone else, beside the fact that not very people in my life are interested in this sort of thing. For almost nine weeks I have battled internally if I should even be going to this place. Since I started going my anxiety and OCD tendencies (obsessive thoughts) have gotten way worse. I have been extremely ambivalent and pulled in two different directions, wondering if on the one hand I am going overboard with my health concerns (that are now obsessions) but yet wanting to take care of this body God has given me and seek solace and freedom from my many maladies. I have felt utterly ALONE in this process because everyone in my life is on one side of the fence or the other (the majority thinking this place has made me more anxious and obsessed and I should stop going).

SO the Saturday of the picnic when my friend (my one "health nut" friend who lives nearby) backed out, I was torn. My parents were in town and I knew I'd see them tomorrow but felt I "should" be with them instead of going to some thing where I didn't know anyone. I did end up going and it was okay. The talk on "Spine Fitness" was good and I picked up some tips. But I didn't meet anyone my age in my situation as I'd hoped. In fact there weren't very many people there at all. I quickly got over my extreme sadness after the event and during work at the group home that evening.

But I still struggle with this intense loneliness off and on. Mostly due to this health battle, depression/anxiety battle, and what faith/God has to say about it. Feel quite misunderstood and discouraged by both the people who seem to know me and care about me best AND by these new people who I feel have some hidden knowledge and I'm struggling whether or not to trust them. Also because I don't have a significant other with which to share these intense struggles. :(

I don't feel lonely very often because I am an introvert. Being alone is something I love. Even when I was seriously dating I had to be alone many nights a week (this drives a boyfriend mad, I realize.) I am so dragged down when I am around lots of noise, commotion, and chaos also because I am an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) (See one of my links to right if you're wondering what that is.)

A blog friend of mine said to talk about my birthday party. I wanted to put up pics but I am house sitting so I don't have them handy. I had a really crazy weekend (half of the events I'd planned ended up being cancelled due to a 3-day migraine--my body's way of telling me "too much!" I suppose). But Sunday I was feeling better and had a birthday get together at a nearby place called Chatterbox Pub (I planned the event myself). I had written to God in my journal earlier, "I am going to have caffeine and maybe a little alcohol because I want to be like my outgoing, extroverted friends." And, being that I am extremely sensitive to caffeine because I no longer have it, my one cup of tea had me wired for the evening! We had a great time. I couldn't believe about twenty of my friends showed up. Less than two years and a few months ago, I knew only two of these people. I am very blessed that God directed me to the church I am at now (Woodland Hills) and these wonderful people. We had yummy food, played games and of course the best part: karaoke! Only a very few people were actually interested so that was a bummer, but we still had a good time. After there was only me and few people left, we decided to leave, but I still felt insatiable like I wished I could keep singing the whole night. I knew it had to do with caffeine and my love for singing, but this energy and desire kind of scared me. That night I ended up awake until 4:30 a.m. the next day but I didn't even have a migraine the next day. Thank you God!

During my party I didn't have any of the obsessions about food or health and really was able to relax with my wonderful friends. Even the food I had didn't affect me negatively (like most restaurant food does). Hallelujah!

After that night, I felt a bit of a let down. Because as always I was searching for something to fill me up. Of course it wasn't wrong to go out and have fun...but I can't really get into that here. I spent a few days with my parents in WI and that was good. Now I am house/dog-sitting for some friends of mine and again feel kind of lonely but at the same time glad to have it quiet and relax some.

Lots of thoughts and some neck and hand pain (from typing) but I am so glad to be at peace now.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Alone

A beautiful song that has really spoken to me the last few days and weeks. (All of Meredith Andrews' songs are amazing.)

You're Not Alone
~Meredith Andrews

I search for love
When the night came and it closed in
I was alone
but you found me where I was hiding
and now I'll never ever be the same
It was the sweetest voice that called my name
saying

You're not alone
for I am here
let me wipe away your every fear
My love I've never left your side
I have seen you through the darkest night
and I'm the one who's loved you all your life
All of your life

You cry yourself to sleep
cause the hurt is real
and the pain cuts deep
All hope seems lost
With heartache your closest friend
and everyone else long gone

You've had to face the music on your own
but there is a sweeter song that calls you home
saying

You're not alone
for I am here
let me wipe away your every tear
My love I've never left your side
I have seen you through the darkest nights
And I'm the one who's loved you all your life
All your life

Faithful and true... Forever
For my love will carry you....

You're not alone
for I... I am here
let me wipe away every fear... Oh yeah
My love I've never left your side
I have seen you through your darkest night
Your darkest night
And I'm the one who's loved you all your life
All of your life

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Frustrated with Google and Blogger

Is there any blogger out there who can answer my questions???

1) I am quite frustrated right now with Google. I switched to a different gmail and have not figured out how to transfer my new blog with it. Instead my blog ONLY opens up under my old gmail address. (Hence, I constantly have to SIGN OUT of blogger and sign in AGAIN with my OLD EMAIL. ANNOYING!!!!!) I went online for an answer and they said you can add a blog to the "Contributors" section. Well, that did not help because I still cannot access my blog directly from my current "brittanybettger@gmail.com" account. HELP!

2) I am wondering if I should switch to wordpress. Is that better? Could I have all my stuff from this blog transfer to the new one? Any recommendations. Does anyone even read my blog???????????????

Saturday, July 10, 2010

How Change Affects Me

I haven't written in a while because mostly, I think, what's the point? I barely understand myself, why should I even try to put it into words for other people to try and understand me, that is, IF people even read what I write.

I am an extremely sensitive person (Elaine Aron's book The Highly Sensitive Person is amazing, describes me well and has really made an impression on my life) and lately I have been very touched by life's changes.

I was talking to my counselor the other day and explaining how in the last couple weeks all this stuff happened: my bro Greg and sis-in-law Sarah suddenly had twins and moved from Texas to my neighborhood; my younger bro Tim came back suddenly from Germany for surgery and went back a few days ago; I got a teaching job for the fall; I am beginning grad school; my oldest brother Nate and his fiancée are getting married in a few months and want to start having kids ASAP; I found out my dog is dying and how that's affecting my parents is really tearing my up (not to mention how I already worry about them); within a few hours of each other, I found out a dear person in my life had a second miscarriage AND that a couple who I led youth with at my old church were involved in a horrific incident in which they were both shot (the wife died)...and it goes on.

Not to mention how much has happened over the last few years that I am still trying to get a handle on, both with me AND the people close to me in life. One thing with me is that I feel SO deeply and this has proven a blessing and curse.

I was so sick after hearing about my friend who lost his wife that I went through a phase (few days) of feeling guilty if I even tried to make myself happy. The thought: ("How is it okay that I am happy when my friend is suffering so much?") I struggle with this immensely when I hear of tragedies. That's why the news is so hard to watch. What's the point? I can DO NOTHING so I feel horrible and guilty a lot.

The good news: I have been feeling better after these incidences and have started to reframe my thoughts. I know my friends and loved ones wouldn't want me to suffer like that. And as my counselor said, we will all have horrific things in our life. That makes me remember when my brother Tim had his life-threatening motorcycle accident. While I felt the worst pain of my life, I felt I had a role so that's how I kept going. I knew I had to be there for my family. But with others' tragedies, I somehow feel it is my role to suffer because they are suffering and if I stop going crazy, then that is not fair to them.

I know it's messed up; that's what depression and anxiety can do to a person. (See how it's kind of an extreme form of empathy?) And I know it is spiritual too. My Lord doesn't want me to suffer this way and he can comfort people more than I ever could. That alone is a good thought and eases my burdens. Satan definitely wants me to be depressed about all these tragedies and wants to spur on all these lies in my head. Yes, yes I know all this. But for some reason, as I get older, I realize life isn't getting any better as far as bad news goes.

Jesus, can you please come back soon?

And now I am in over my head with the "sad state of American health care" (a new obsession: good or bad, I am not sure, but that's for another entry...)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My Wonderful Day

Many wonderful things have happened today this first day in weeks (?) of delightful sun. I had taken a deep dip inside of myself this past weekend and it was not fun. I cannot explain how the depression gripped me like an eagle's talons grabs its prey. I was overtaken by uncontrollable crying spells, horrible thoughts, painful and uncomfortable physical symptoms, and literally had a hard time breathing.

Thanks be to the LORD for a new day. I woke up and had an interview this morning and it went a lot better than anticipated! It was for a Spanish elementary teaching position-actually there are four positions available but they might combine a few because they are less than full time. But i am interested in taking them BECAUSE they are less than FT because i will be starting grad school. I would like to teach but I am very concerned about my mental and physical stability if I begin a brand new FT teaching job AND grad school! So we will see what God has in store. There were only 2 interviewers so not too intimidating. The questions were not hard. As anticipated one person asked me questions in Spanish and they were easily understood. I stumbled quite a bit (in my opinion). One of the questions in Spanish was to describe how to teach 2nd graders about a "Family" theme. Well, it just so happens that I did JUST THAT in Guatemala but to Mayan girls in English so i was able to show them an example of the puppets I used in the lesson! Even if my Spanish wasn't great, hopefully they are impressed. Anyway, they will narrow it down to 5 people (out of 10) for the 2nd interview-which will be with more people! So I should find out tomorrow if I made it to the next round. I would like to make home made thank you cards for the interviewers if I can keep this enthusiasm up!

After my interview, I came home and found that an electrician was working in my room so it had turned into a tornado. No worries. I grabbed my undergarments without him looking and changed from my suit coat into work out clothes to go for a walk on this gorgeous day. Then for about 5 minutes I got to talk to my friend Becca in El Paso who i haven't talked to in FOREVER. After a refreshing walk, I made myself a nice frozen drink with this amAAAZing goji berry juice i bought. The electrician had left so that gave me the opportunity to straighten and clean my room. Then my roomie Jenn and I went to the library where it was horrendously busy with all the kids on summer break and an in-house juggler. I got some yoga videos, a yoga book and a book called the Sugar Solution.

We then went to my favorite store ever Fresh & Natural Foods where I bought stuff to make a delightfully yummy organic (mostly) gluten free pasta salad. So that's what I did when I got home AFTER mowing the front yard even though the mower made me so annoyed that I cursed at it (really loudly because I had my music blaring on my ipod). After making the pasta, I blared the rock music on pandora and cleaned and sanitizing while squashing tiny little black ants in the process (they have now somehow gotten up in my cupboard and have found my organic ginger and honey!)

Now my pasta salad is cooling. It is for my small group get- together tonight--with some of my best friends in the world. Anyway, it has been a great day so far. (I even had a headache and it went away!)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Trip Down Memory Lane

Lately I have been in good spirits, thanks be to God. The last few weeks I have been enjoying a variety of substitute teaching assignments! As this is one of the last few days of school, there is a LOT going on in the schools, so it has been exciting to be a part of end of year activities. Today and tomorrow I am subbing for a high school band teacher. This particular district is one of my favorites in which to sub. Unfortunately the teacher has some health concerns and cannot be here today OR tomorrow. I was reluctant at first to pick up the job, but it's been fun so far. It has definitely brought back a TON of wonderful memories from high school.

For me high school was NOT one of my favorite times of life. But what DID keep me going was the music I was involved in at school, particularly choir. It was such a cultural experience. I learned and laughed and had more fun than in any other classes. I got really close to some people since we had done music together since 7th grade. That's what I am reminded of here. Students just come in to the room and go as they please. You can tell they really have built a relationship with the teacher. I remember the choir room being my "safe haven" in high school. I would come in and eat my lunch there, do my homework and, of course, practice piano on the nice pianos!

I have the privilege of observing a combined rehearsal this morning of their big end of the year concert for graduation. Also, he has students coming in for lessons which I get to observe/listen, that is, IF they show up! I just talked to one graduating senior who told me today is her last day of school and she is having bittersweet feelings. Also, she will be going to Bethel where I attended! So it was positive.

That's what I love about what I do. I get to meet so many people. Who knows if I will ever see them again. But I am changed by individuals who I meet and these wonderful varying experiences God has given me! I hope I have made a small difference in the lives maybe a few of these kids (and adults) with whom I have worked!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A New Way to Live




As you can see I changed my blog title and "About Me." More about that later (or maybe you will begin to understand after this entry).

I have been in a weird place lately, physically and spiritually, and consequently, emotionally. Last Saturday at church, I felt God telling me to go up and get prayer which, of course, I was very nervous about doing. After a kind man name Lawrie/Lori prayed for me, I guess I didn't know what to expect. Sudden restoration?

You may be wondering exactly what it is that is bothering me. Well, overall I am doing pretty well. But there is one thing that I have been obsessed with lately: food. No I don't overeat or nor am I concerned about my weight. After reading a book called The Food Allergy Cure by Dr. Ellen Cutler and talking with my friend Becca and others with food sensitivities I have determined I am doing something wrong with me eating. I have struggled my entire life with headaches, for almost 10 years with depression, and for many years with other things, so I thought, why not go gluten free? But it has turned into an obsession. (As always, whenever I want to do something potentially good it gets out of control as my thoughts/obsessions become uncontrollable).

Anyway, I am reading this book by Larry Crabb and naturally the title is appealing. My whole life is about pressure, basically due to perfectionism, with which I have a love/hate relationship. I am always trying to do things right at all times. NOw it has to do with food. Well, anyway, Crabb is not necessarily a great writer but his book is simple and to the point. His basic point is "There's a New Way to live" in which we are not contstantly striving, trying to find all the answers, trying to find causes for everything, trying to be perfect. BUT I am still trying to figure out what the New Way is he talks about (I am little over half way through the book). He basically has said thus far that we need to make Christ our number one priority-easily said, obviously. (Ironically, Crabb seems to present the "answer" to our problems when in the first place, he says we shouldn't be seeking the answers!)

He talks about how we are taking advantage of Christ when we have an "If/then" mindset, "If I do these things, You will then deliver me out of this problem, give me this blessing, etc." This all is simply stated and makes sense. But my question is, God is not going to blatantly say, "Brittany, you have these food sensitivities." I need to to use the brain he gave me to find the answers! Right? I feel this is in my power like I could possibly find the answer to my problems, particularly depression which has created all my other problems, I believe.

Maybe some people reading this might think, Why is she so concerned about all this? I do sound kind of obsessed with myself. But I have come to realize the importance of our bodies and how for me personally, everything I eat contributes to my mood, physical symptoms, etc. But maybe I have taken it too far. Should I just accept my depression as part of life? As I thought I already had. But after reading the Food Allergy book, I thought, "What if..." What if something I have been eating my whole life is causing it? In Crabb's mind, I maybe should not be searching for the answer.

I think there is some sort of middle ground here. But I am so stuck as always in my black-and-white, all-or-nothing thoughts.

Then there's the whole gluten-free (or low gluten) I have tried to do for the past few days. I am quite irritated because nothing has really changed. In fact, it may have gotten worse. Yesterday and today I experienced INTENSE sudden fatigue after having gotten good rest the night before. And have been having headaches almost every day for two weeks now. Anyway, I am sure nothing's wrong, but the GF has not improved anything, plus I can't afford this diet and I miss bread too much.

Monday, April 26, 2010

I am Applying to Grad School!

Personal Statement
St Marys Graduate School of Arts Application
Masters of Arts in Special Education
By Brittany Bettger

Hello! My name is Brittany Bettger. After graduating from Bethel University in 2006, I taught two years in St. Paul Public Schools. I also have one and a half years’ experience substitute teaching in a variety of Twin Cities’ school districts.

During the 2008-09 school year I taught kindergarten at Riverview West Side School of Excellence in St. Paul. The majority of the students in my classroom came from non-English speaking homes, six had Academic Intervention Plans, and several were on IEPs. With this diverse population of students, I taught with the school-wide Success for All (SFA) program, creating a variety of learning centers that met district requirements. With the assistance of my teacher mentors, I established and monitored my own style of classroom management that included daily progress reports and a variety of whole class reward systems.

My interest in a special education program comes from many sources. As a new teacher in the St. Paul school district, I was a classroom teacher with many needy students. My preferred teaching context as a Special Education educator is a personalized, small group setting. I also appreciate opportunities to continue relationships with individual students over the course of several years. Teaching special education students would allow me more opportunities to teach in these preferred ways.

Secondly, during my years as a classroom and substitute teacher, I had the pleasure of working alongside special education teachers and paraprofessionals. At Riverview, because of the needs of my students, I was in constant communication with the school social worker, special education teacher, and speech teacher. I also met occasionally with the district psychologist and the occupational therapist. Observing and learning from the amazing work of these professionals have inspired me to become a special education teacher.

Another reason I desire to earn a degree in Special Education is that I have a deep passion and interest in people who struggle with developmental and cognitive disabilities. Presently, I work for two different companies, ACR Homes, Inc. and Lifeworks where I have the pleasure of assisting adults with disabilities in their home environment. As a personal care attendant, I assist the residents with daily cares, nutrition, medications, leisure activities, and goal setting. I have learned so much from these individuals and I look forward to expanding my experience to include children with disabilities.

My biggest strengths as a human being and a teacher are empathy, compassion and sensitivity. I have a keen ability to experience another’s emotions alongside him or her. Because of my sensitive nature, I am able to see an individual’s need and take action to meet this need. Additional attributes to describe me are dedicated and conscientious. I work to the fullest of my ability to accomplish tasks laid before me. Finally, I am a reflective, self-aware person. In my daily life, I am very conscious of my decisions and how they affect others. I am constantly monitoring my actions, looking for ways that I can learn from my mistakes and become a better person.

One area where I would like to develop greater strengths and abilities is in my self-confidence. I often have creative ideas, but would like to develop greater strength in sharing these ideas with others. Another skill I would like to develop is the ability to balance my hard-working, analytical nature with a more at-ease, intentional temperament. While it is important to accomplish tasks, I do not want my to-do list to infringe on my chance at a stronger relationship with someone, which is of utmost value in life.

A personal element I would like to share involves my tenure at ACR Homes, Inc. When I began working for ACR in 2004, I didn’t realize how radically I would change. The residents with whom I worked at the group home taught me so much about the beautiful and simple things in life. I learned to let go of the things that worried me and focus on them and what made them joyful. My character was greatly strengthened over the course of my time at the home. I became a more giving and loving person and more grateful for all the things in life I take for granted. My experience at ACR Homes has helped me realize what my life’s work is: to share my compassion and creativity with others while also gaining wisdom from them. A career in Special Education is a step I would like to take toward reaching this dream.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Is Escaping Wrong?

It's been forever since I have written. Frankly, a blank page scares me because that's when I have to really think deeply. And I am terrified of what I know is there when I look inside myself. Since I am tired I am going to borrow a bit from a journal recently I wrote about what is going on with me.

I am making myself write because I don't want to. At least I think I don't. I don't look forward to confronting the stuff that is happening inside this brain. Lately I've been getting by with my addictions, namely my novel reading. I love getting lost in the characters' problems. I love forgetting myself by going to another world. I know this isn't wrong to a degree. I've been reading Jodi Piccoult, whose books deal with intense, moral and controversial issues. Hard to put down! She covers themes like self-esteem, popularity, dysfunctional families (whose isn't?), grief, loss, revenge, redemption, betrayal and faith/spirituality. I've learned a lot from her books and I look forward to reading them each day.

But I often feel ashamed or guilty because the themes are so heavy and I tend to become rather anti-social when I read a really good novel (or am otherwise immersed in something deep and passionate, like card-making or writing for example). I don't like coming back to real life because I always know what's going to happen. Lately, I feel guilty because I am not practicing my mindfulness or "with it" skills. That and I am beating myself up for not reading the Bible or having a "quiet time." (What does that mean anyway????) Reading these books has kept me "safe." By that I mean, less bad thoughts, because I am frankly thinking less about my own problems. But it also means, I feel very out of sync. Like I am not even really alive. And that I've been treating others in my life poorly.

I tried to take a break in between the last novel I finished and the current one. So for two days I forced myself to read my Creativity/spirituality book and write in my journal. And it just made me mad and anxious.

The reason I am escaping has to do with, as I said, my thoughts. They are not fun.

As a rule, I try to moderate everything that I do. I am always concerned that I am doing everything right (not too much of this, not too little of that.) I know, I hate that about me but I am not about to start judging my judging, so I will accept that my perfectionism makes me ugly at times but try to accept it.

But I will also thank God for his good and wonderful gifts of creative people who write engaging stories...and many other things. And trust that He loves me no less if I happen to be annoyed with Christian judgements going on in my head, so much to the point that I am resentful of He Himself and the Bible itself. (More on this in another entry).

Well, I am going to go to bed now.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What is on my Mind

Well, I had an interesting day today. A friend of mine, Bethany, ended up subbing at the same middle school with me and we actually team taught (I was the regular math sub and she was the ELL sub) just for one period. It was fun to see her and have someone to eat lunch with! Bethany and I go way back, but anyway, that's for a different day. IT was very bizarre for me to be "working" with her...She said the same thing.

Unfortunately, my day kind of went downhill after that. It is a very hard school, with students that are ethnically diverse and have lots of behavior problems. That probably would not be an issue if the periods weren't 85 minutes AND I did NOT recieve a prep (break) period NOR did I get paid for it. But I stuck it out and now I am fried. The last period was so intense. Kids talking, shrieking, laughing, yelling, coming in and leaving, throwing things, breaking things, all the while, I am trying to keep them on task. Luckily, there were kids from the high school that were helping. But I still felt like everything was going crazy. I spent the entire day taking huge deep breaths, but, of course, I messed up a lot. At the end of the day, a very large boy really scared me and ended up acting really inappropriately with a female student, so I got him out of the room. For the last fifteen minutes of the day, students were supposed to be cleaning up the trashed room. There was a broken sharpener smashed, little blue pieces all over the floor. Ripped papers. One student dumped a pile of ripped up papers over the head of another girl. Another girl dumped a bunch of little pieces of papers from her desk onto the floor. No idea why. It was-to say the least-chaotic. I found myself going into my usual out-of-body state. Like I was watching something out of a movie. I can't control it, but it is definitely real. The best part was getting my name changed from Ms. Bettger to Ms. Butt. Like they literally erased my name on the board and wrote that. Haha. I am just glad no one got seriously hurt and that my day is over. I made sure to leave a nice long note for the teacher, as I usually do.

Even though it was hard, I am now home and can laugh about it and know that I don't have to go back if I don't want to. (But I probably will.)And I was able to sit and relax on the deck on a beautiful afternoon with my roommates! And, believe it or not, the hardest days I have subbing, usually CANNOT compare with how EVERY SINGLE day was for me as a teacher of inner-city Kindergarten last year, that being, COMPLETE HELL. Yes, it's hard to believe I made it through nine months alive! THat's why I try to take these days as a treasure, these days I can come home, with no lesson planning, grading, classwork, parents to deal with, awww, yes. I can just relax, at least try to! Although I still feel like a failure a lot of the time as a sub and want to do a perfect job, I usually forget about it, whereas last year, I had a very unsupportive principal to deal with who was always breathing down my neck. (No wonder I didn't last at that school).

Another thing on my mind is, as always, marriage and babies. Yes, I found out when she showed up today, that my friend Bethany is having a baby. She and her husband got married last July. I am happy for them. I just still cannot believe it...(you would have to know the history behind me and Bethany but that is a book to one day be written !) A few years ago, I never would have guessed where she and I are today.

Besides just the wierdness of being with Bethany in a school classroom, I have to say I had a very familiar feeling of ... envy (that she is pregnant) ... creep over me subconsciously and tried to push it away. Again and again.

In fact, I laid in bed last night and thought (again) of all the young women in my life who have found their "perfect someone" and are now trying to or are having children. I tried so hard to pray for forgiveness for perhaps having negative thoughts toward them, but I could not help but feel the intense but very familiar pain. OF not measuring up. Even though, in my MIND, my worth has nothing to do with my status as a single, it will take maybe til my dying day to understand this in my heart. Especially when you work in a profession in which everyone is a woman, and all they talk about is marriage and baby raising...

Bleh. Deep breath. I need to find some single women who share my pain! Luckily the tears aren't burying me alive like they were last night.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

On Being Single

I am going to write about something quite personal. Not that anyone reads this, but I hope it encourages maybe at least one person. I have recently decided to stop dating. At least at this time in my life. So here it is: I am single, and increasingly, I am proud of it.

This is how I ended my personal journal/prayer today: "I never dreamed I'd be here. Sitting alone on my bed age 25 1/2, no husband or kids, no full time job, college loans not paid off, living in a dark, warm, rattly basement room with two single 30-something women. And I'd never dreamed that I'd be, what was that, content?"

That is, almost content.

I am so sick of mommy blogs. Okay, so when I find myself not working like today (again), I read blogs, a lot of them written by married women with young children. I have some favorites that you can find on my blog roll. I like them because they are entertaining, yes, the kids are adorable, and I like getting ideas for cooking, crafts, etc. Some I read so often, I feel like I almost know the people. But when I look at these blogs, bad thoughts play in my head at times. Bad thoughts I have come to find quite common.

That is me, that is supposed to be me.

Who ever said I was supposed to be them anyway? Well, this is a very touchy subject. But the pain, thanks be to God, has ever decreased over time and I can talk about it now.

It goes back to what a lot of you women remember growing up. Well, for as long as I can remember, I wanted to have babies. I've come to realize it's because my mom was the oldest of five kids, my dad in the middle of four, and so there were always women having babies in our family. I just loved them. I remember for a long time, there was a new baby every year in our family (on either or both sides). I was a typical little girl, with lots of dolls. As I grew up it turned into, my goal in life was not only to have babies, but to find that "perfect someone" to have babies with. Okay, so it wasn't my number one goal, but it was ALWAYS in the back of my mind in my early teens, then into high school and college. Especially as I came to realize when many of the women (grandma, mom, aunts) met and married their spouses. Quite young. Met in their teens and married by age 20 or 21.

As a child, I idealized women and, regrettably, I still do. (That's why this blogging business can be dangerous.) My mom, aunts, cousins, grandma, teachers, babysitters, and all the women in my favorite movies and shows, especially Dr. Quinn, Laura Ingalls, and Anne of Green Gables.

With all these women, there was usually one similarity. They had a man. And if they didn't (by a certain age), something was wrong with them. You see, one of my biggest fears is that people might see me the way I saw single, unmarried women. AS a child, I remember feeling pleasure that a teacher was "Mrs." but if she was "Miss" or "Ms." something must be wrong. If the teacher was "Ms." that meant she was divorced and if she was "Miss" and not reasonably young I would think, "Why is she not married? Is she not pretty enough?" blah blah blah.

Somehow in my thoughts and observations as a young girl, I came to believe this is what it means to be beautiful and worthy: to have a wonderful man at your side and to have his babies. While I still struggle now to dismiss this as a lie, I am so proud of how far I have come!

I still wonder when I see beautiful women how or why they are single. But then I am reminded, Oh yeah. I'm a beautiful woman and single. (In fact, I've been asked this so many times in my life.) So in a way, it's kind of nice to have support and be supported by people like me.

That brings me to a point of frustration: I wish there were more blogs out there that are written by people like me: mid 20s, single, and not that content about it! It seems almost every blog is young, married and trying to get pregnant; young, married with kids; or older 30s, married with kids. There are a few that are young and newly engaged or married, and even fewer that are college age. Even less I have found are older than 40. Okay there are a few that are single and 20s, but they seem more the partyer hard core type, not the traditional-at-heart like I am. While I enjoy reading all different types of blogs, it would be nice to find a few like mine! (But at least I have my friend Becca's blog. She and I are kind of in the same boat, I think!)

Thanks for listening to my scoop on singlehood. If you're there, hang on, I understand!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Random Post

I have been sick for over a week now. So today I decided to take another day off work. (Was in bed all day yesterday.) I didn't have the energy to try and sub today. I worked last weekend, a long day on Monday, and will be working this weekend too. So I am sitting here trying not to feel guilty for trying to heal myself. I have a bad virus, but a weird one. I remember going to work last year when I felt a TON worse than this. That's why the guilt is eating away at me. I keep telling myself, now is different. I had two really hard years of teaching, so I try to see my life as a gift right now. Since I have the chance as a sub to simply not answer the phone, which might actually help me in the long run, why not?

I have been working really hard to take care of myself. Got some nice organic herbal tea, been drinking lots of water, and Emergen-C, and trying to rest. But I still hear myself worrying. About money mostly. What's the point of worrying about money when I don't even know why I am trying to make money? I don't want to simply live my life to pay off my loans. That's what I feel like my point of life is sometimes, though. Since I have no desire to teach (right now) nor anything else.

My passion for a career has suddenly died, but somehow my depression has lessened if that makes any sense. Well, thinking about not knowing what my future holds makes me freak out a bit. Overwhelmed is a good word to describe it. But not totally down to the point of incapacity like I was a little over a month ago (I only shared this with a few close people in my life...maybe hinted a little bit one here).

And another weird thing, my depression usually gets really severe when I am physically ill, like now. But I have stayed overall pretty positive. I think it has to do with the sun being out, longer days, and taking care of myself by eating well and exercising.

Life has been kind of blah, though. Every so often I get excited. Usually it's when I am at the store and buying all kinds of yummy, healthy things, and then at home when I put together a creative colorful meal, that I know will help me feel better. But that's about it.

So I am not really up, not really down. I am okay with that for now. What can I say? I am going to try to embrace who I am right now; not try to force anything. Certainly, feeling guilty is not going to help. So plans for today are drink a lot, eat well, and rest much. Maybe do some mindfulness activities through journaling. Just being is enough for today.

Monday, February 15, 2010

What if I am Never Healed?




I recently finished this book. There are some profound things in here. I have always admired Lincoln because I believe we are very similar. He also has given me hope. If I, someone with depression, could achieve something an iota of what he achieved while suffering, I would consider my life great. Probably the most profound thing was found on page 156. The author, Joshua Wolf Shenk, states, (bolded, mine):

Many popular philosophies propose that suffering can be beaten simply, quickly, and clearly. Popular biography often expresses the same view. Many writers, faced with unhappiness of a heroic figure, make sure to find some crucible in which that bad feeling melted into something new. Lincoln's melancholy doesn't lend itself to such a narrative. No point exists after which the melancholy dissolved...Whatever greatness Lincoln achieved cannot be explained as a triumph over personal suffering. Rather it must be accounted for as an outgrowth of the same system that produced that suffering. This is not a story of transformation but one of integration. Lincoln didn't do great work because he solved the problem of his melancholy. The problems of his melancholy was all the more fuel for the fire of his great work.

This was not something I heard for the first time, but an idea that has been rolling over into my head these past few months (and maybe even years): Can I live a successful life with depression? Or do I continually feel I need to eradicate depression from my life before I can live?

Well the truth is that I already am. That is, I already am living with depression. I have no choice at this point. This was made even more real to me after listening to Greg Boyd's sermon (I listened to the pod cast since I missed the service.) It was entitled "Communion in the Wilderness." Based on Luke 22:7-20, the Communion Supper, Boyd talked about the space in between when we take communion and when we finally arrive in heaven. He called it the Wilderness, like the Israelites experienced before they arrived in the Promised Land. He had a member of the church, Scott, come up and talk about his experience with MD (muscular dystrophy). Scott talked about how his whole life people would "pray over him" for healing, but he was never healed. In fact, his MD just worsened. Now Scott has come to the point where he has accepted his MD and when people ask if they can pray for him, he kindly says, "Thanks, but I don't believe that is what God has for me at this point."

Wow! Like Scott, I have been told in so many words that my life would be so much more amazing if I was healed, in my case, from depression. NO kidding??!!!?? I have always struggled thinking I have lack of faith because I continue to suffer. Like Scott, I often felt people were saying it was MY fault that I wasn't healed.

On the other hand, am I just giving in to this depression because I am too weak to fight it?

Because of what GOd has been saying to me personally and through this book, this sermon and through the words of many people who, like me, haven't found supernatural healing, I have come to believe this: It is okay that I suffer from depression; and that I may have to take meds my whole life. Each time my depression gets better , I often think, this will be the last time. But now I am starting to think, each time I go through another depression, I will come out a stronger person. And without my depression, I wouldn't be the sensitive, bright, caring person that I am.

Not saying, I wouldn't take away my suffering or that of others' in a heartbeat. But what choice have I right now, except to live in and through what has been given to me? And who knows, maybe like Lincoln, I will accomplish something great, and my depression will be a part of that.

Valentines!



Thursday, January 28, 2010

Long Cold Winter

It's been awhile since I have written because I have been uninspired lately. Nothing incredible has really happened to me, but I guess that's a good thing. One thing I have noticed about this winter is that it is one of the longest, coldest of my life. Each day the sun goes down my joy seems to dissipate with it. It is very subtle but quite real. Now as I sit typing in the dark, I am staying afloat by the fake light coming from this computer, the news on TV and the timed lamp that lovingly comes on each day at approximately 4:50, and mostly by the dreams of sunshine and warmth and hope.

The great thing is that the days are getting longer. Today it was still light at 5 pm; and despite, the FREEZING weather, we have had two days of wonderful sun. I cannot tell you how much more joy I experience when the sun is out.

I have begun to dream, instead of just trying to get through the day. Sometimes I dream about a very blurry but aching future, of being with the love of my life, that future someone with whom God has yet to provide me. And of reaching my second lifelong dream, of being a mom. But mostly I just dream about what I KNOW is coming and coming soon, the birth of my friends' babies in just a few short weeks and months! And I am looking forward to summer, this summer particularly. I am scared because I don't know what it will entail.

But anything that is combined with sun, you can be assured I can tolerate it, if not relish in it. I cannot tell you how sun affects me; and how darkness/night radically shakes me. I have a hard time enjoying the sun knowing that darkness will inevitably come.

These days have been filled with more hope. And I know it will keep increasing with each passing day. Soon my fingers will be warm, and dry hands will no longer burn, I won't be huddled in bed at night, but stretched out in peaceful moonlight. I won't hear about horrible snow-related accidents and falls. And thunderstorms, I can't wait for those!

But, then again, I am trying to focus on this moment! The hot baths and the nice-smelling lotion. Warmth emitted by your own body under a blanket. The hot meals and drinks after a cold walk outside. And just the incredible beauty and freshness of winter.

Winter, I will try to love you and enjoy each beautiful moment you give, but I won't be sad to see you go.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Car accidents, earthquakes, and my Job as a Caregiver

Yesterday I awoke to see that I had a missed call from my mom. I remember hearing it ring as I was just beginning to fall asleep the night before. So I immediately thought something bad happened since the call was from 10 pm and my mom knows I got to sleep early. But she almost always leaves a message; this time she didn’t. And when it’s bad news, it’s a sinister voice saying, “Hi honey. Please call when you can.” I’ve heard that voice one too many times. The more sinister and firm, usually the more serious the occasion. So of course, I was nervous. I called and got no response from either Mom or Dad's cell phones, so my head started spinning. I was so worried something horrible had happened. Luckily my mom called a couple minutes later. Sure enough my brother Greg was in a car accident on his way home from work the night before but he is okay. I was still so worked up and anxious I could barely calm down and started crying on the phone with my mom not even noticing. (Ever since Christmas night, tears have come on suddenly, forcefully. When they start, it is like a warm blanket cascading down. So needed and comfortable at first. I have to let out all that pain, that pain so real, raw, indescribable pain. I can’t even put into words. There was no tragedy, just an imagined one, but everything comes back so easily for me. Probably for most people that have had a loss, an almost-loss, or some sort of traumatizing event happen to them. These get relived through little things, like phone calls and voices. They plague and imprint your mind and you can never forget. Add on to that the fact that I simply cry easily and get down extremely quickly. Call it a season. Call it depression. Call it Brittany. Whatever. I go through periods where I am more dried up; now is not one of those periods.)

Anyway, I also called Greg but not on an impulse. It was a carefully planned event. Should I say painfully thought-over. That’s my mind for you: What if he answers? What if he doesn’t? What am I going to be doing while I talk to him? If I don’t do something at the same time, I will be late to work. What if we talk too long? What if I say the wrong thing? But my phone is dead; maybe it won’t be charged enough to talk. Maybe I shouldn’t call him. I’ll probably be bothering him. If I don’t, what kind of sister am I? Why didn’t he call me after the accident?

Finally, I got my breakfast ready and told my thoughts to shut up because they were still going. He answered after the first ring and immediately said, “Hi, how have you been doing?” as if nothing had happened. My brother Greg is always one who gives. When we talk, he hardly ever talks about himself. And, I am one who, when given a listening ear, can never shut up. But today, I didn’t want to focus on this pain. How dare I turn his scary accident into my own problem? Augh! I hate when I do that. So I didn’t mention me, but kept probing about how he was. I knew it was better for me that way. He assured me he was fine so that was good to hear, but I was still so anxious and troubled. He told me a little bit about the accident that involved four vehicles. His car was totaled, and so were some of the others but everyone was okay. I should be praising God, right? I tried to amidst my soft, cracking voice and brewing tears. I could barely eat my breakfast. Before he hung up, he said “Well, I am so glad to hear you are doing okay.” As if I were the one in the accident. But he was positive and I tried to feel it too. Maybe I was okay. If I just talked myself into it…I knew I could change these thoughts, this horrible sinking feeling in my gut. It just got deeper and the nausea grew. But I forced down the cereal and coffee as I said “I love you” to Greg and hung up.

Believe it or not, I had a pretty good day after that-once I got to work. Yesterday, I worked with my friend Maddie. She is a young woman with special needs who lives at home with her parents and siblings. It has its challenges, but I think it’s one of the best jobs in the world. I knew Maddie would want to know all about my family. She always gets my brothers mixed up (who doesn’t, though?). “How’s Nate doing? Is he the one in Germany?” “Nope remember you met Nate and Kat when there were in town over Christmas.” “Oh yeah! How are they?! They are so nice. I mean so sweet! Can you tell them I said hi?”

It’s hard to hang out with Maddie, take care of her, help her and learn from her, when I am so buried in my thoughts. But, luckily, I force myself to. I take her out to the library, book stores, coffee shops, plays, and her favorite: the animal shelter. I love seeing how she responds to different situations and how personable she is with complete strangers (of course, that can be dangerous, so I’m there to redirect her if needed.) But if I am ever too afraid to ask for something, no worries, Maddie has few inhibitions. She doesn’t worry about what people think of her. I have a lot to learn.

Of course, Maddie is quite vulnerable. I know she gets sad too. In my role helping people with disabilities, I have connected with them probably the deepest when I am sad. I don’t want to say my depression is a gift, but I know that there is nothing like crying with someone and truly feeling his or her pain. Yesterday, we talked a little bit about the earthquake in Haiti. That particular subject had been haunting me the past day and I was still feeling down from the morning occurrence so I didn’t really feel like talking about it. Luckily, Maddie’s soothing chatter turned elsewhere and quickly (which is quite common).

I enjoyed my time with her the rest of the day. And also, at ACR later in which I just did a short shift at one of the two homes where I work. Some people with depression can’t work. I am the lucky one. I work to survive. At least in combination with other much-needed things like a faith and spirituality that consumes me, healthy food, enough water, exercise, psychotherapy and a strong community of friends. In my role as teacher and caregiver, I am distracted, able to put my mind and body to use and not focus on myself and my sadness.

I am extremely affected by sad stories in the news or from family, friends, etc., so with the recent events in Haiti, I have been as down as ever, but not necessarily joyless. Sometimes, I wonder, as I walk into a classroom of bouncy teens, or giggly, squirrelly first graders, or as I look into the deep eyes of one of the residents, Shouldn’t the world stop? How can I be giving a bath or teaching about the Civil War when there are people dying, gasping for air under feet of rubble, crying out for relief. And as Greg Boyd said, will probably never be found because of their lack of resources in that already-impoverished country. But, no, life doesn’t stop. And, as I always try to do, I put myself in the shoes of those I serve. How are they thinking? How can I make life better for them? Life goes and on and will continue to go on in Haiti, but also here. So I need to stay in the moment and be here for these innocent children/adults who are dealing with this tragic news in their own way, or maybe not-maybe they have no idea but I need to make life comfortable for them. How is this possible when I have a hard time caring for myself, that I can be so focused on others? But this thinking is what is actually the most freeing for me, the times I feel most liberated from my depression.

My morning

My head is spinning out of control. With so many ideas. As always. I can't think of one thing to write about, so I will just start with my unusual morning. Well, not that unusual I guess. As a substitute, I am starting to learn the ropes. I have acquainted myself with some of the schools and districts so this morning, I knew that although the call I accepted said to be there at 7:30 I would shoot to be there around 7, since school starts at 7:55. How in the world would 20 minutes be enough time to get ready for teaching third grade?

So I got to this Columbia Heights school at what felt like the middle of the night because of how dark it was. The first wierd thing was that there were hardly any cars there. I wonder why no one is here, I thought. As a Kindergarten teacher in inner city St. Paul last year, I would get to school sometimes at 6:30 (it was always a competition in my own mind to see if I could get there before my teaching partner who lived twice as far away...) and school didn't start til 9:10!

Of course the side doors were locked so I walked around to the front and opened the doors to hear a blaring country station and a dark school office. Great, it was locked. I couldn't check in, get the key to the classroom and begin planning my day. As often happens, my overachievement is purposeless. So I just sat outside that office. Pretty soon the teachers started coming but they looked rather casual with jeans on and none were carrying endless bags or suitcases like most elementary teachers. I'd been to this school before and don't remember having to wait like this. Many people walked by me; some gave me a glance or a half smile. I knew I was early so I just politely waited another half hour until my head started pounding because of the ANNOYING radio (literally deafening!) Now it was fifteen minutes til school actually started (not that the kids came, that is). Finally I asked someone--a lady who'd walked by me three times now with not so much as an acknowledgment, "Do you know when the secretary will be coming?" She looked at her watch-not too rudely-"She is usually here by now..." and then offered a nervous laugh.

AFter a bathroom run (oh it was warm and the country music was muffled...I should have just stayed in there!) and a lot of wandering, more and more people came by. Every one I thought, as jangling keys got closer and closer, it must be the secretary. This is wierd. And rude. But I kept trying to have positive thoughts. I had waited 40 minutes.

Finally, a lady in purple who I'd seen pulling a paper shredder across the hallway and up the stairs, was now on her way back down the stairs with the shredder. Surely, she will notice that I'm still here (I'd first seen her around 7:10) and she did. She walked pulling the shredder along as if it was her little pet-kind of bent over-and looked up at me with a wrinkled nose. Yes, I am noticed! I thought. "Do you know who you're waiting for?" I said, "Um, yes. For the office to be unlocked." She looked at me with an even-more furrowed brow. I don't think I looked too wierd. I had had my head in my hands so my hair was maybe a little ruffled. So I kept going. "So I can get a room key. I am a sub." Okay, now she was staring at me as if I were other-worldly. "But...there's no kids today." She blurted quickly as if I should have known. "Oh...I was wondering..."

Anyway, it turns out there was no school. So I left, now with a splitting headache. Oh well. I still got paid for two hours! And now I am sitting at my home computer writing on here.

I have a lot on my mind. I was a little mad (mostly because the music annoyed me...I didn't mind the driving and people-observing that much), but now I'm not. There are lot more important things I could be (and am) upset about-like the earthquake.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Comfort Ye Others Just as You are Comforted

Last night I went to get an hour-long full body massage with hot stone therapy at a place nearby my house. I got a half-off deal in the mail! It was amazing! I'm glad I allowed myself to take care of myself that way. When she was doing my neck and shoulders she found I had knots up and down both sides of my neck that went all the way to the base of my skull. No wonder I've been in so much pain!

Anyway, the hot stones were the best because I was so cold, especially my poor bony fingers! I had so many knots and so much tension that she went an extra 15 minutes. I was able to really relax except the lotion she put on was a bit intense for my nose so I got a little headache. But people that are "too uncomfortable" to get massages like this don't know what they are missing!

I don't know what it is about me but I crave this skin on skin contact. I've always loved massage and got my first professional full body massage in high school when we used to have them included on my mom's insurance! I realized immediately that professional massages, just the ambience of it-everything-, was one of the only ways I can completely relax.

To get deep and spiritual, receiving a massage helps me connect with my body and realize again how beautiful I am. Also, just to be taken care of for once, ahhh, so nice. As I lay there yesterday, I thought of how I do physical therapy and massage/lotioning with the guys I take care of at the group home. I'm always worried I am doing it wrong, that maybe he is not comfortable. With the residents, they don't often communicate whether they are or are not comfortable. Because I received comfort yesterday as the receiver of massage, I was able to realize that yes, maybe I DO do a good job with the guys and maybe they enjoy my sloppy untrained attempts at PT and massage. More than that, though, I realize like my massage therapist, my first concern is for the other person.

Probably the best thing is helping my one resident get into bed at night. (Let's call him Cal.) Cal has a Parkinson's-like condition which makes him extremely exhausted and basically unresponsive as the day goes on. I just ache for him because he is so sleepy and often longs for his bed. I know all too well the feeling of being SO tired and having no energy to go through the process of getting to bed. Once Cal is finally all briefed, pajama-ed, lotioned and teeth-brushed, the next task is to get him to stand up from his wheelchair and take a few painful steps toward his bed, open and waiting for him. I, being a lover of my bed, can totally relate to his comfort in finally collapsing. Unfortunately, Cal is so weak that I have to reposition his rigid 150-lb body so that-to me-he looks comfortable and so that I, too, can receive comfort. Sometimes this is tough and requires him to stand and reposition himself a few more times (a process of a few minutes). Finally, finally he is looking cozy and I pull the sheet up, making sure it covers him evenly and then the comforter, tucking it under his droopy chin. I just see the release in his face and I feel it deep within. Rest. I know he's comfortable and at peace and that's the best feeling in the world.

To have that done to you every so often is great. That's why life is so beautiful. I am able to give because of the gifts Christ gives through others, whether it is a professional massage with hot stones, hugging and crying with a close friend, or a tiny child that you've known for less than a minute suddenly put her little hand in yours.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in your patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. 2 Cor. 1:3-7

Friday, January 8, 2010

Today

I got one call for subbing today. Technology ed at a local "close-to" inner city high school. And I just sat there staring at the phone and then logged on to the website and stared at it. Pretty soon someone will take it and I won't have to make a decision. Well, I could have a job today. But, of course, in a few minutes, the job was no longer available because of my inactivity. I pictured myself supervising a bunch of young men (and women) doing woodwork or something...it wasn't really fear it was just...inactivity. That's what I do when I don't want to make a decision. Now I don't have a choice.

I am not working today and I am trying not to say, "You should have" every two seconds.

I am in a lot of pain, physical especially. The last three days or so I have experienced lots of muscle tension in my neck and back. Trying to stretch and exercise on Wednesday seemed to make it worse. OF course, the common thought was "You're doing somethin wrong." And then, "You're fine. Suck it up." Then, "What if something's really wrong?" THen I used my roomie Jen's massager and nwo it's really sore!!! So I scheduled a massage (since it's half off) at a nearby place for today at 5! I am excited for that "me" time although I still feel guilty for not working. I hope the massage doesn't make the pain worse. That I am really able to relax.

More on my depression in the next post...since I have the whole day ahead of me...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Live in this World

I wrote this on 1-4-10. It refers to many people who are important to me, including a woman I know at one of the group homes where I work.

Dearest LORD and my closest friend
I am so confused as to how
I can just sit here
My knees capture the sunlight
Coming in from the window
Just sit praising you
How is this changing anything?
But yet I do it
Because I just can't not do it
It is my very being
Who I am
And I don't feel in control now
Your Spirit is coming in
And the Sunlight is You
I'm captured by a real Being
I don't really know anything
Except you want me to do this
Why can't I just do this every day

Spend each day like this
Maybe I'd like life a lot more
I wouldn't be presented with
Screaming and self-induced bloody scratches
On arms and legs
And a mind that can't
Tell herself with words or actions
What she truly Wants
Or others, those that care for her
And the worst is that I can't comfort her
And in that way I am very
Alone and uncomforted
Oh Lord but in this moment I am
Comforted in your Love
And I know she is too
Even in her pain and discomfort

And his heart
Is bleeding out til there's no more
Emptiness
Closed off to love
And so abandoned
He can't even figure out
Who or what love is
He loves her but he is still
Bleeding, fighting, misunderstood
She is so busy and fleeting
Not able to think one way or the other
Because she so desperately wants
And needs love from a man
But a mangled and broken
Heart cannot lover her Even
If he says he does
These are two broken shattered people
And their pain is hard to bear

And I see it in her crystal
Shiny beautiful eyes
Tinted blue oceans
She really looks and will
never let me escape a room
Without those arms opening
And I see it her eyes
She is so broken
But the most incredible lover
I have ever seen
The way she loves is amazing
Yet how could she not love herself
She is longing for freedom
But somehow can't make a leap
She keeps going because Your love flows
out of her and
Her love makes me want to live

Their joy is deep but sometimes
Strained under
The wrinkles of hurt
The things that threaten to tear
Everything
Throw them in a puddle
A useless pool of water
But somehow life keeps going
And now a new year

Will it end the same?
Questions unanswered
A mom who keeps abusing
Awaking to another endles
Day of job searching
Barbing statements about your
Worthlessness
As a single person
As a jobless person
What society and family and even Christianity
can say about you
About your "condition"
Whether it's because you only
Have one hand
Or maybe because you have an actual illness
located in the DSM that is called
Major Depressive Disorder
OR maybe because you are just a "label-less" person
Who feels
Like a nobody

That's why I wish I could sit
Here
And just forget the world
Because no matter how much
Pain I bleed out
It doesn't seem to change anything
I will stay in your presence
As much as possible
Until You teach me how to
Live in this World.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Looking Back on '09

Monday, January 4, 2010
"it's gonna be happy new year..."

2009 in retrospect..

1. what did you do this past year that you'd never done before?
was a bridesmaid in two weddings, taught inner city Kindergarteners, went to The Fray concert, drove with a friend down to El PAso, went on a 2-week long vacation with just my parents,

2. did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I try to make a daily commitment to things otherwise I just burn out. Each day, I try to live fully by taking care of myself, and demonstrating

3. did anyone close to you give birth?
no, not til this year


4. did anyone close to you die?
my uncle Tom was killed on his bicycle in May. We shared lots of fun memories, especially the last few years. Love you, Uncle Tom!


5. what countries did you visit?
Mexico! I visited my friend Becca in El Paso and we spent some time in Juarez, Mx where she works with children in a children's home!

6. what would you like to have this year that you lacked last year?
more patience and understanding for self and others, how to see myself as a beloved person, the way Christ sees me and a willingness to trust Him more than I ever have

7. what date from this year will remain etched upon your memory, and why?


8. what was your biggest achievement of the year?
graduating from DBT (dialectic behavior therapy), making it through a tough year of teaching, being more open to God's involvement in my life in the smallest things

9. what was your biggest failure?
not being renewed as a teacher at the school I was at (even though I was going to resign anyway), or getting recognized by principal (which was kind of impossible), not getting a teaching job


10. did you suffer illness or injury?
normal every day battle with depression and migraines once a month or so

11. what was the best thing you bought?
I didn't buy a lot.

12. whose behavior merited celebration?


13. whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?


14. where did most of your money go?
paying off loans; food; gas; rent, the normal!

15. what did you get really, really, really excited about?
Umm...probably when two of my friends got pregnant!

16. what song will always remind you of this year:
Any of the Woodland Hills worship songs, especially "Lead me to the Cross," "At the Foot of the Cross," "Jesus Draw Me ever Nearer", "Still"--Reuben Morgan (Hillsong) "Shadowfeet" and "None but Jesus" by Brooke Fraser (Hillsong),"The More I Seek You"--by Karie Jobe

17. compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder? Both in different ways, but I don't really like those terms


18. thinner or fatter? same


19. richer or poorer? I am richer in a lot of of non-monetary ways. God is teaching me to see people the way he sees them and that is a true gift. I have become a more open-minded and loving person (but also experienced more pain because of it, I think). This year has made me a richer person simply because I lived.


20. what do you wish you'd done more of?
Writing, volunteering or missions trips, traveling

21. what do you wish you'd done less of?
Complaining, obsessing, COMPARING MYSELF TO EVERYONE

22. how will you be spending your birthday? I don't know


23. how will you be spending the holidays? probably the norm, I don't know


24. did you fall in love this past year? with life a little more than last year


25. how many one-night stands? none


26. what was your favorite TV program? Law & Order: SVU, Everybody Loves Raymond, but I kind of stopped watching TV


27. do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
no

28. what was the best book you read? When Bad things Happen to Good People by Harold s. Kushner, PRacticing the PResence of God by Brother Lawerence, and Beautiful Boy by David Sheff (a memoir of a journalist's son's addiction to meth)


29. what was your greatest musical discovery? Brook Fraser of hillsong


30. what did you want and get? jobs


31. what did you want and not get? a FT teaching job (I don't know if I really wanted it, just wanted to say I got it, and also for security/benefit reasons)


32. what was your favorite film of this year?


33. what did you do on your last birthday, and how old were you?
25, nothign much celebrated with boyfriend and close friend


34. how would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?


35. what kept you sane? worship music (Woodland Hills and Hillsong), other favorite music and singing, close friends, WRITING and reading, crafting

36. which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?


37. what political issue stirred you the most? probably economic difficulties after our church's sermon series called Compassion by Command


38. who was the best new person you met?


39. tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009: Be Still and know that I am God. Lately I have been bearing the pain of everyone around me. It's like an addiction. God is teaching me that I can't do that, to say it simply, or I may die (seriously)--like the pain is so great sometimes, I just feel like i can't live in this life. god and I talk and he tells me things like, "It's okay to just breathe. Rest against by chest and just breath. Be still. Know that I AM. I am God."


40. quote a song lyric that sums up your year: None but Jesus--brooke fraser

In the quiet, in the stillness
I know that You are God
In the secret of Your presence
I know there I am restored

When You call I won’t refuse
Each new day again I’ll choose

There is no one else for me
None but Jesus
Crucified to set me free
Now I live to bring Him praise

In the chaos, in confusion
I know You’re Sovereign still
In the moment of my weakness
You give me grace to do Your will

When You call I won’t delay
This my song through all my days

All my delight is in You Lord
All of my hope, all of my strength
All my delight is in You Lord Forevermore

The More I Seek You--Kari Jobe
The more i seek you,
the more i find you
The more i find you, the more I love you

I wanna sit at your feet
drink from the cup in your hand.
Lay back against you and breath, here your heart beat
This love is so deep, it's more than I can stand.
I melt in your peace, it's overwhelming