Sunday, October 27, 2013

sunday

It's Sunday morning and the LAST thing I should be doing is blogging. But I read my daughter-in-love's blogpost this morning, and I was so proud and happy that I had to share it. Go HERE to read it..


And also, I just want to say that I am so very blessed to have two of the best daughters-in-love on the planet. God answered my years-long prayer that the women my boys married would become my best friends. Monique and Naomi are treasures, and I am so thankful they chose Josiah and Jason to be their partners in life.


naomi and norah


a very pregnant me and monique :)

Happy Sunday !!

Friday, October 25, 2013

joy comes in the morning

It's 6:39 Friday morning and the house is quiet...something that literally never happens, unless we're not here :)


This is another installment in my series on anxiety and depression...and it's another part of the post I wrote Wednesday night on laughter.


I have lots of anecdotal stories about how laughter  has helped me in the past to deal with anxiety and depression, but first here are some words from "the experts".

Read what MayoClinic.com has to say about laughter :





Stress relief from laughter

A good sense of humor can't cure all ailments, but data are mounting about the positive things laughter can do.
Short-term benefitsA good laugh has great short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it doesn't just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body. Laughter can:
  • Stimulate many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
  • Activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response and increases your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.
  • Soothe tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.
Long-term effectsLaughter isn't just a quick pick-me-up, though. It's also good for you over the long haul. Laughter may:
  • Improve your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. In contrast, positive thoughts actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.
  • Relieve pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers. Laughter may also break the pain-spasm cycle common to some muscle disorders.
  • Increase personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people.
  • Improve your mood. Many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can help lessen your depression and anxiety and make you feel happier.


Isn't that amazing ? Modern day medicine is proving what the Bible has said all along about laughter:

A joyful heart is good medicine. Proverbs 17:22






Five years ago, when I went through about a season of six months of depression (in the clinical sense of the word).  I thought I would never laugh again. I went to church and smiled, I tried to put on a good face for my children (I hope I succeeded), and maybe to people who didn't know me very well I was okay. But I struggled to get out of bed in the mornings, and I shrank to 95 pounds. My sweet husband took me to Costco on a massive grocery trip to try to find food that sounded appealing- because everything tasted like sand. Just swallowing took effort, and I literally lost my appetite for months. I suffered from intense insomnia - I would lie in bed til three or four in the morning trying to fall asleep. Not wanting to throw my sleep cycle off by getting up and doing something, I would lie awake tormented by anxiety. I prayed, I read my Bible, I tried to fix my mind on good things, but I just could not sleep. As you can imagine, I was exhausted during the days because of lack of sleep, but I had kids to get to school and little ones at home to take care of. I lived in a state of anxiety and guilt and fear, which I detailed more HERE.

It took everything in me just to function each day, let alone experience joy.

One night, after tossing and turning for hours, I drifted off into a deep and restful sleep - this was unusual for me, because even when I was able to sleep for a long period of time, my dreams were filled with horror.

But this time I fell asleep and dreamed that when I woke up, the ground outside was covered with snow ... and to my amazement, I was happy.





It was one of those dreams where everything was so real and precise and crisp, that I had no idea I was still dreaming. I honestly thought it was morning, and I was waking up from a long sleep. In my dream I woke the kids up to see the newly fallen snow, and we all put on layers of warm clothes to go outside to play in it. I was so completely relaxed and filled with such joy about seeing the landscape around me change, that I felt weightless - it was like I was walking on air. My kids were running around laughing and throwing snowballs at each other, and Sam was there too, and I was just smiling and taking everything in - and again -  I was happy.





Where we used to live, there was a small grove of trees next to our house - we lived on an acre of property with beautiful views of a sheep pasture behind us. So in my dream, I walked over to this miniature forest, where the snow was untouched. I had boots on, and every step I took in the fresh snow left prints behind me ... and it was as if my senses were heightened to experience every crunch of the snow my boots took. I could feel the cold winter air on my face, and hear my children's laughter behind me. I could smell the woodsy aroma of that small grove of trees, and taste the snowflakes as they fell on my lips. I kept walking through that little patch of trees amazed at what I was feeling- I felt alive again.



Mackenzie and Jackson



And suddenly, I started to laugh. Even in my dream I realized that I had not laughed - or experienced that level of joy - in months. It was the kind of laughter that fills you up until you can't contain it - there was nothing "funny" happening around me, it was just laughter that comes from pure, untamed joy.

And just as quickly as that dream began, it ended... but it was so real that I felt like I was still in the dream.

Have you ever experienced anything like that ? Had a dream that was so good, you just wanted to go back and be in that dream again ? That's how I felt. I didn't want to be in reality again, didn't want to have to be awake to feel such nothingness again. I wanted to feel  - to experience smell and taste and sounds like I had before the depression. And I wanted to laugh again.

I asked God with everything in me - I poured my heart out to Him and asked Him to make that dream a reality. It wasn't that I hadn't been praying all those months to experience life again. I had done that so many times a day, that my prayers felt like one long groan from the time I woke up til I finally fell asleep each night.

But this time I had something to hold onto and contend for - because I had almost forgotten what it was like to laugh. This time I had something tangible to point to, and say - now that is living. The black hole I had been living in was so dark, I almost forgot what senses are - my sense of taste and smell and touch had so diminished over the months, that the world seemed gray and life felt monotonous. But in my dream I had experienced every sense at a new level - it was like somebody took that ugly feeling of anxiety and depression out of my body and poured into me ....  JOY!

I didn't get the answer to my prayer that morning ... or even many mornings after that. But I held onto that desire to experience laughter and joy and life again, and every time I prayed, I asked God to give me those things back. I wasn't experiencing my senses like I did in my dream, but I held onto the thought that somewhere deep inside me, my senses were there, just lying dormant. And if I could just keep clinging to God, they would come alive again.

And guess what ?






They did. That dream I just described - every vivid detail, from the crunching of the snow beneath my feet and the laughter of my children in the field behind me - every part of that dream came true.

Because one morning in December I woke up to that still, quiet "sound" of snow outside...normally there would have been some little noises outside, maybe the rustling of the trees by my window, or the bleating of the sheep in the field behind our house. But this morning there was nothing- just the hush and beautiful silence that a night of snow brought to the world around us.

I woke the kids up, and called Sam to ask him to come home to have a snowball fight with us. We piled on layers of clothes and hunted down mittens and scarves and winter hats. I don't have a picture of me on that day to post, but if I did, they would be of a mama smiling and yes - laughing - for the first time in many months. Because the entire scene played itself out in real life, right down to every detail of my dream. I remember walking through the tiny forest of snow covered trees, crunch crunch crunching the snow beneath me, and laughing with joy at the beauty around me. I ran over to Sam and the children to join in their snowball fight, and I laughed like I had not laughed since spring. I felt every single emotion that I had been lacking, and it was like my senses were on steroids- every color looked brighter, every noise and scent was stronger, and I was alive again.







I didn't immediately bounce back from depression that morning - there were still many, many weeks of the return to cold emptiness that I had felt prior to that day. But that was a turning point. Because once I realized that I could feel again, there was no going back. I knew that the real Patti - the one who loved to cook delicious meals for her family, the one who took joy in simple things like sharing a snowball fight with her kids, the one who loved to stand like a little kid with her head thrown back and her tongue sticking out, tasting the sweetness of falling snowflakes - she was in there. I might have morphed into some sad, twisted version of that mama in those dark months of anxiety and despair, but if I held on to Jesus, I was going to be myself again.


So what am I trying to say through this post ? That one dream can fix it all, or that laughter can change everything ?

I would be foolish to say so. There is no "magic cure" for anxiety and depression, as far as I've found.

But there are keys to overcoming these things, and laughter is one of them.

Please take some time today to ask God to give you your joy back. If you are experiencing depression or anxiety, and asking yourself when the last time you laughed was ... please take a few moments to ask God to fill you with laughter. Pour out your heart to Him and ask Him to give you something to hold onto like my dream.

You may have moments of joy in the middle of all you're going through - hold on to them. Don't stop believing that God can give you back your laughter again, that he can turn your sorrow into joy.

Contend for that happiness- don't believe the lie that you'll never experience the love and grace and goodness that God gives again. Find something to laugh about, and trigger those emotions inside of you. They are there. Depression and anxiety may have buried them far beneath the surface of who you are, but remember this:


2 Timothy 1:7

King James Version (KJV)
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.



Psalm 126:2-3

New King James Version (NKJV)
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
And our tongue with singing.
Then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
And we are glad.










Weeping may endure endure for a night, but JOY comes in the morning. Psalms 30:5

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

a good laugh

It's after ten on Wednesday night, and Sam has given me ten minutes to blog. He is my bedtime enforcer, because left to myself I could stay up til three a.m. blogging. And after a verrrrry long night with Hayden last night, I am in great need of a decent night's sleep.

So anyhoo (dontcha just love that word?) this post is going to be extremely short. I really want to blog more on this little key element to overcoming anxiety and depression, and I promise I will...because while it may be a little key, it is essential. Are you ready ???





It's laughter.

And it is SO good for the soul.

Listen to these ancient words of wisdom :

"A joyful heart is good medicine." Psalms 17:22

Seriously, I have seventeen points to make on this subject, but I just looked at the clock and I now have three minutes til Sam comes and yanks the mouse out of my hand, so I'll just post this little video and call it a night.

Warning : if you are in the dungeon of depression, it might appear that I am making light of your condition by posting this video. I assure you, I'm not. Because I really have been there too. But sometimes we have to step out of ourselves, if you will - and laugh.

One more thing - my brother sent me this two weeks ago when I texted him and told him I was feeling a little panicky about something. And guess what ? I laughed so hard I couldn't feel panicky anymore.

Enjoy.





Monday, October 21, 2013

focus


This is the next installment in my series on anxiety and depression...if you missed my previous posts, you can read them here and here and here.

Today's post is a quiz. It's just one question, really...but I hope it causes you to really think about something....


What are you focusing on today ?


There are several aspects of this topic that I want to address, but for now I'm going to stick to this one...what are you giving your mind to ? Are you a glass-half-full kind of person, or a glass-half-empty one ?

blurry, because she was bouncing and laughing so hard


Every day we're faced with choices about what we give our minds to. Every day there are things happening all around us that can pull us down or cause us to worry...but no matter how hard the day is, there are always things we can focus on instead.

When I was going through depression and anxiety, my husband typed this verse out on strips of paper for me (in several different translations of the Bible) and had each strip laminated...


Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. Philippians 4:8



He posted them all throughout our house - on the refrigerator, on my bathroom mirror, on my dresser, etc.  Every time I went to a different room, there was my little reminder-  focus on good things today.

Depression and anxiety are filters, if you will, that cause us to view life in a skewed way. When we are bombarded with despair and worry, everything seems scary or out of control or potentially bad. I used to tell Sam - I am not TRYING to look at things a certain way- this thing is MAKING everything feel different !


As hard as this sounds - when you are in the middle of these mind battles - you have to change your focus. You have to choose to view life a different way. You cannot allow your mind to go to default- which is focusing on the negative. It takes a deliberate effort, and believe me, I know how hard it can be. But allowing your mind to wander down those "rabbit holes" of depression is not going to solve things. As difficult a task as it seems, when you are bombarded with negative thoughts - you absolutely have to take control of your own mind and put it on other things.

We've been given a wonderful gift when it comes to our minds -  and we do have the power to direct our minds to "whatsoever things are lovely and pure."



What are you focusing on today ??



Things I am choosing to ignore right now, so that I can focus on happy things:


  • I had a terrible night with a stomach bug, and Lily did too. 
  • Christmas is 64 days away - my children informed me today - and the thought of shopping for our large family in that small amount of time is a bit overwhelming, to say the least.
  • the mouse is sticky (computer one that is - if it were real I could NOT ignore it. I have an extreme rodent phobia.) Someone obviously ate a piece of candy and licked their fingers before using it this morning. 



  • these little bullet points will NOT line up with my sentences. what.the.heck ???

  • the dog needs to go to the groomer before my mom gets here next week, only I really don't want to shell out the cash for that in light of point #2. (Mom, if you're reading- can you ignore Tillie's coat when you come ? She likes the dreadlock look. She told me.)
  • somebody is banging on the piano and I have a headache. 


  • my hair is coming out everywhere...Hayden is five months old, and traditionally I lose a third of my hair between four and five months after delivering my babies. Consequently I have hair in my shower, on my pillow, on my carpet, in Hayden's diaper (??) and probably in a few dinners I've prepared.

  • the bullet points won't line up. I am ignoring this. Really, I am.
  • Someone just threw a football in the house - AGAIN - even though this is forbidden. It knocked my phone to the floor, and I don't want to look at it to see if the previous crack is now a full-fledged shattered mess.
  • I have ten pounds to lose after having Hayden. Instead of spreading itself out nicely in places I would like it to be, it has decided to land solely in my middle section. Giving me the pleasant appearance of a woman wearing an inner tube underneath her clothes.
  • I have seven loads of laundry to do, in spite of doing multiple loads on Saturday and one and a half loads yesterday (I left wet clothes in the dryer. Again.)




Here's what I am focusing on, so that I can successfully ignore the above annoying things in my life today:



Tyler just walked down to the place he works to get his paycheck (Queen's Chopstick!) and surprised me by bringing home my favorite chicken dish and soup. What.a.stud.

I may have a laundry room full of dirty clothes, but I have a houseful of wonderful children who wore them. I am blessed.




Sam came home for lunch. I love my husband so much. He works a full-time job to support our family, and is a full-time pastor to our church as well. He works all day Saturday on sermons and Tuesday nights too. He gets up when it's still dark on Sundays to go to church to study for the morning service, and goes back after lunch to study and prepare for the evening service. He stays late if people need counseling, he drops everything to go pray for people in the hospital, he helps move people when they're moving, he has helped more people than I can count to find a job, he takes homeless people to the store to buy them lunch (so he knows the money is not going to booze!), he has given cars to people, clothes to people, money to people, sleeping bags to people, his free time to people...my husband would give the shirt off his back to someone if they needed it.

And on top of all this, he takes time for his kids and for me. He walks the floors with crying babies in the middle of the night so I can get some sleep, and gets up at the crack of dawn to go pray at the church before starting each day. He works loooong hours to support our family, so that I can stay at home to raise our children. HE IS MY HERO.




I may have an inner tube looking piece of flesh under my shirt, but I have a delicious baby to show for it.





My hair will grow back, and in the mean time, it doesn't take as long to blow dry.




I have an iPhone. Who cares if it has a crack. Some people don't even have maps.






Christmas is 64 days away- my favorite time of year. We will make gingerbread houses and go caroling, we will be baking fools, Christmas music will be blasting 24/7 (actually, it does that in October too), we will have daily fires in the fireplace and drink hot cocoa from our favorite snowman mugs, my kids will have roles in the our church Christmas play, I'm plotting an auction of Lily and Hayden's clothes to raise money for an adoptive family on Reece's Rainbow, we will decorate cookies and bring them to neighbors and friends, and it is Hayden's first Christmas ... so much to look forward to !






Lily is feeling better, and so am I...





And who needs bullet points anyway ???






What are you focusing on today ??

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Lord is not in the storm

My boys are at football practice, Caleb and Abigail are knitting, Hayden and Lily are sleeping, the dryer is purring, the dishes are drying, and Tillie is asleep somewhere not peeing on the carpet.

I have a small window of time here, and I'm taking advantage of it.

I was reading the comments last night on my last two posts HERE and HERE that began this mini series on anxiety and depression. There were many comments on my instagram account in regards to those posts, and my inbox is full of women saying the same thing- I've been there too. 

I have so many avenues I want to go down in this series, and I keep praying about which ones to go down next. The other day I went back and read some of the entries in my old journals, detailing what I was going through mentally, physically, emotionally and even spiritually, and I just marveled at what God has brought me through. Looking back, I think a few things stand out : my husband was a saint for putting up with me, and so were my kids, and so was my pastor. And God was faithful through it all. I felt so lost for awhile, and I remember telling my pastor - I don't know ONE person who has ever felt this way.

But I was so wrong.

I wish I could have known all of you who have left such heartfelt comments empathizing with me - we could have had many virtual cups of tea and talked our way through things.

Because so much of what I experienced was a complete sense of being alone. I felt like I was drowning in guilt and fear, and I just wanted someone to say- I've been there. And it's going to be okay.

Thankfully I had a pastor who knew exactly what I was going through, and he prayed and talked me through so much. And Sam - although he had never been through the specific things I was going through - was my rock. There were so many days- I mean day after day after day - when I would call him at work, crying, and say "Can you talk me through this?" He would drop everything (whenever possible) and listen to me pour out what was tormenting my mind. And he would pray with me, and encourage me and most of all tell me the thing that got me through - this is the depression talking, babe. That's all it is. This isn't God, this isn't you - this is depression.

If you haven't been through anxiety and/or depression, this post may not make much sense. And that is probably because anxiety and depression don't make much sense. It's more a "feeling" for lack of a better word, that everything is wrong- it's an unshakable feeling of impending doom. And you can have everyone telling you that you're going to be okay, and you can read scriptures that you're going to be okay, and you can read books telling you that you're going to be okay, but when this thing hits, everything in you is screaming that you are not going to be okay.

So begging my husband again and again to tell me that I was going to be okay, and hearing him say : this is the depression talking - brought me back to the beginning of the unraveling in my brain. Maybe you can relate to what I just said- the unraveling in my brain. Because when you are in the midst of anxiety and panic, your brain does what professionals often call "rabbit holing."

It's like you go burrowing down these holes in your mind, looking for answers - but all you're doing is tunneling. You aren't getting out, you aren't feeling better by over-analyzing everything, you are just going down down down...and if you don't stop you're going to hit a black hole.

My pastor gave me a quote from William Styron once, that was so fitting - this is going to be a little wordy, but re-read it if you need to...because this guy nails depression.

"As one who has suffered from the malady in extremis yet returned to tell the tale, I would lobby for a truly arresting designation. 'Brainstorm,' for instance, has unfortunately been preempted to describe, somewhat jocularly, intellectual inspiration. But something along these lines is needed. Told that someone's mood disorder has evolved into a storm--a veritable howling tempest in the brain, which is indeed what a clinical depression resembles like nothing else--even the uniformed layman might display sympathy rather than the standard reaction that "depression" evokes, something akin to "So what?" or "You'll pull out of it" or "We all have bad days." The 'phrase nervous breakdown' seems to be on its way out, certainly deservedly so, owing to its insinuation of a vague spinelessness, but we still seem destined to be saddled with "depression" until a better, sturdier name is created."


Did you get that ? He was lamenting the fact that the term "brainstorm" had already been taken, because it was such a more fitting word than plain old "depression."

So really today, what I want to address is this one simple thought ... The Lord is not in the storm.

If you're not a Christian, or you've never faced depression, that little sentence sounds like a no-big-deal kind of sentence.

But for me it was life saving.

I'm not going to take any credit for this revelation - you can give that to the writer of 1 Kings for this one, and ultimately give credit to God for inspiring him to write it.

Here's the passage I'm talking about. Please don't let your eyes glaze over if you've read it before... because if you really look at what Elijah was going through, it was full blown depression. I'm using the King James version here, because I love the beauty and cadence of the words...





But (Elijah) himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.
And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat.
And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again.
And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.
And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.
And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?
10 And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:
12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?
14 And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
15 And the Lord said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria:
16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.
17 And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay.
18 Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.
1 Kings 19:4-18



My pastor is the one who helped me see in this scripture a beautiful picture of who God was.

Because He wasn't in the storm.

Everything can be coming against you in depression, and at times it can feel like it is God who is bringing the storm, and maybe even that He IS the storm. But He isn't.

And He wasn't in the shaking of the earth.

You can be totally shaken in the middle of depression - nothing feels normal, everything you once knew to be true about life feels shaken, nothing seems familiar, and if you're not careful you can attribute that feeling to God.

And He wasn't in the fire.

In the midst of mental and emotional anguish, it can feel like all hell is coming against you, and when guilt is at the forefront of your mind, it is so easy to assume it is all coming from the Lord. It is so easy to assume that a guilty conscience automatically means God is dealing with us about something - everything !!! - so that we can get it right.

But listen to who God was -



...and after the fire a still small voice.

13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?



Do you see this ?

The Lord wasn't in the storm, the earthquake, the fire- He was the still small voice.

Maybe you can't relate to any of this post- if so, just come back later and I'll be blogging about another aspect of anxiety and depression.

But for me, one of the hardest things to overcome during my experience with these two issues was believing that what I was going through was a punishment from the Lord. I was convinced that somewhere somehow I had gone wrong, and the intense guilt and isolation I felt was God leaving me to myself and allowing this torment to come over my mind.

I have more to say about this later - because the wonderful thing that God (and my pastor and Sam !) helped me to see was this truth: God is a merciful and loving Father. Yes, He is a judge - if I am not surrendered to Him, if I haven't given my life to Him and repented of my sins and asked His forgiveness, then He is a righteous judge. But right alongside of that is the TRUTH - that He is a gracious and loving and merciful Father. He is the still small voice in the midst of your storm.

Grasp that truth and hold on to it  - when you are sinking in depression and it feels like that brainstorm will never pass - please believe this : The Lord is not in the storm. He is the still small voice.

My favorite scripture ever in dealing with depression and anxiety is the one where Jesus describes his character - the character of God :



Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Matthew 11:29


That is the nature of God. He is humble and gentle at heart, and He is the still small voice, and He wants to give you rest.

I'm crying now, because I remember when my pastor read that scripture on the phone to me in the middle of one of those intense brainstorms. I made that scripture my own. I decided that it didn't matter what my emotions were telling me, it didn't matter that everything in me was screaming that this was God that was tormenting me - Jesus wanted to give me rest.

Are you weary ? Are you carrying heavy burdens ? The Lord is not in the storm. He wants to give you rest.





Much love,

Patti




Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I can't handle it


So just as I was about to start this little mini series on anxiety, I had a brief moment of ...anxiety.

I am just a little nervous about a) going public with my brain. It is not always a pretty picture. Don't worry- I'm not going to make these posts a tell-all confessional. But you might have a different opinion of me after reading this series. I have sometimes (falsely) been accused of being supermom. These posts will dispel any notion you may have of me in that role. Promise.

I am also a little nervous about b) answering many questions about anxiety or depression...because I think counseling is best handled by the professionals (your pastor or doctor). I AM totally open to discussion in the comment section...or emails just sharing your experiences...or phone calls if you know me in real life :) If you need someone to tell you "yes, I've been there" - I'm your gal. And I can share little things that have helped me when it comes to stopping a panic attack or clawing your way out of depression.

I just don't want to tackle anything like counseling, etc. because I am just not equipped to do so. Not that any of you were trying to do that...I just wanted to put that little disclaimer out there because my husband told me to do so.

Which leads me to the first issue I want to discuss when it comes to anxiety and depression....




... what I can't handle.


Of all the lessons I have learned after nine years of (off and on) battling these issues, this is crucial:


I can only handle so much.


Back in the day when I was a 20-something and 30-something mom and pastor's wife, I thought I could handle it all. And I tried. Believe me, I tried.

I was a young pastor's wife and anxious to help my husband in the ministry. When you read that word "help" you can insert the following : make sure I knew every problem that existed in church so that I could be praying for said-probem, and also so I could make sure my husband was handling things right. Because we were young, and we were inexperienced, and hadn't God called me to be his help-mate ? And what if he counseled people and forgot some crucial thing to say, something that only a woman could have insight into ? So I tried to insert myself into lots of areas that I definitely did not need to insert myself into. I had an open ear to anyone and everyone in the church (and out of it) because I did - truly - want to be there for people. I did not want to be seen as a stand-offish pastor's wife, I wanted to be like Jesus- just totally open to people and their problems.

But guess what I found out ?

I'm not Jesus.

Shocking, I know.

And I also wasn't the co-pastor. Or secretary. Or treasurer.


But trying to be those things - allowing people to come to me with issues that really should have been discussed with their pastor - was more than I could handle emotionally. And the results of living that way did not automatically manifest themselves...in other words- I didn't have a panic attack five minutes after listening to someone pour out their woes to me. It took months and months- even years- of allowing the problems in church to consume my mind, and for things to affect my psyche, if you will.

But lest you think all of my issues can be traced back to the ministry, I'll tell you another area I couldn't handle.

The problems of the world.

I used to be a news junky - on any given day I could tell you what child was missing where, what current hostage situation was going on, how many deaths occurred because of an earthquake across the world, and how many variations of the flu strain were documented that year. I listened to talk radio constantly, I read the news daily, I made sure I was always mindful of the current state of affairs in the world, because I wanted to make sure I was...informed.

And just like the problems in the church, I found out the hard way that I am only equipped to handle so much.

Maybe you're one of those people who can listen to all the cr*p out there, and you can just shrug it all off.

I can't.

 I'm one of those people who doesn't just read things or listen to things- I have to pretend I am going through it myself. I subconsciously insert myself into every crisis, and I vicariously experience the terror of that little five year old who went missing...or feel the anguish of those Russian parents whose children were being held captive in school for several days (true story.) For some reason, I have a very hard time disassociating myself from the problems I hear, and the results are massive anxiety and fear. Only it is not always immediately apparent (as I said), so I don't always realize how things are affecting me ... until it's too late.


There is so much more, but I want to keep things simple today...so that if you are going through anxiety and/or depression you can digest this little piece of the solution and not miss it. Because it sounds like a no-brainer. Just don't take on what you can't handle. So simple right ? Not if you have made a habit of opening yourself up to other people's problems. Not if you are one of those people whose brain is a magnet for crises.

Here's a little sentence that I had to learn to incorporate into my thinking, that has helped me so much over the past few years.

I can't handle it.


Sister so-and-so wants to tell me about the latest gossip in church- whose marriage is falling apart and help me figure out how we can help them ? I can't handle it. Go to my husband if you feel there is an impending crisis, but do not come to me. I can't handle it.

A well meaning friend wants to discuss every problem going on at work on a daily basis...or another one calls me to ask for prayer about all the drama going on in her marriage ? I can't handle it. I can be a friend and a shoulder to cry on - to a point. But I cannot be the dumping ground, if you will, for everyone else's problems on a regular basis.

I can't handle it.

I have to turn the news off when it becomes too depressing. I have to stop reading magazines and blogs and novels detailing crisis after crisis after crisis. I have to remove myself a little bit from politics- because that can be a source of never-ending grief too. (Can I get an amen?!)

I can't handle it.

I'm going to add here, that I also can't say yes to everything out there, as far as extra curricular activities. I'm a stay-at-home mama, but that is actually a full-time job. I can't run my kids to every single event or sport or game on the planet. I can't hold women's Bible studies in my house, and host weekly fellowships here, and plan ladies' outreaches or what-have-you....and still homeschool 6 children and care for two babies and be available for my older children and have some time left over for my husband.

I can't handle it.

What I have learned over the past few years is that God has called me to be one thing at this stage in my life- a mom. Okay, two things- a wife and a mom. I am those things FIRST. Everything else is extra. If I can fit some extra things in, great. If I put together a ladies' fashion show or invite the church over for a food fellowship, that's a bonus. But it's not a requirement. If I make some phone calls for a local political candidate, or write a blogpost about an upcoming state measure, and I have time to do so - great. If not, there will be someone else out there with less on their plate to do so.

Here's what I've learned : I do have a lot on my plate. And if I'm going to handle the ESSENTIAL things, I have to - I MUST - say no to the extras.




And speaking of the essentials ... I have a screaming baby on my lap and a child who needs help with math and church tonight and a dog to take out.

Happy Wednesday !!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

my bad - the post entitled ob////

Are you looking for the post on your blogger dashboard that is called "ob/////"  ??



Guess what ?

It was ...a mistake.

I was uploading pictures for a new post, and Hayden kicked my arm, and I entered random letters in the title of my post, and accidentally hit publish ...and there you have it.

And apparently Blogger makes it look like you still have a live post called ob//// even when you delete that post. At least on blogrolls and blogger dashboards.

So there you have it.

And this all may have something to do with the current state of baby number eleven ...




...I'll be back later with a real post.

Love,

Patti

P.S. Send chocolate.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

an anchor for your soul




This is the first post in a little mini-series I'm doing on anxiety and depression...I'm already receiving many comments on my last post from women who have dealt with these issues, and I'm sure there are more to come.

I don't claim to be an expert on this subject by any stretch... I just know what I have personally gone through, and if my experiences can help someone else, than I am happy to share.

I love these words from M.E. Stephens in the comment section...


One of the most helpful things the Lord did for me to help me deal with my anxiety and depression was to put me in the same church with a pastor's wife who had been through 12 years of depression. She was such a huge help to me! She had so many observations that were so applicable to my own experiences. It was a real eye-opener and encouragement.

One passage I have remembered in passing on my own experiences to others is 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

As tough as it is sometimes to deal with, God doesn't allow these things to happen to us without giving us a time and place to reach out His comforting power to others. I also remember something a pastor we knew repeated - "Nothing is wasted with God." 



That scripture above is one that someone shared with me when I was going through an intense bout with depression, and I clung to it...because I desperately wanted to know that some kind of good was going to come from that trial.




At the time I felt like every day was the longest day of my life. I struggled to believe that scripture, because honestly I didn't feel like I would ever be on the other side of depression, reaching out a hand to someone going through it. I would wake up in the mornings - literally my eyes would pop open - and I would feel a weight on my chest. It was if this heavy thing was sitting right on top of me, and I would think - it's still here. Night time was the worst, because my dreams were horrible - it seemed like I couldn't even get away from the anxiety and depression while I slept. I just wanted out...I remember telling Sam I just wished I could get inside my body and take out whatever was causing that sickly sticky feeling of guilt and sadness and oppression and get it off of me.

I remember one night waking up from the worst dream imaginable and shaking from head to toe. I was crying and immersed in that sick feeling, and I didn't want to wake Sam up - AGAIN - to pray with me. I went on a witch hunt if you will, in my home. Was it that book someone gave me to read, that caused all these bad feelings ? I threw it out. Was it some sin I had hidden that I hadn't confessed ? I repented of everything I could think of. Was it an area of unforgiveness that I refused to let go of, some root of bitterness that was causing all this angst ? I forgave every single person I have ever had contact with, and even some I hadn't. I prayed, I cried, I paced, I read scripture after scripture, and every one seemed to point to me- somehow this was all MY fault and if I could just find the answer, I could be set free.

I rebuked everything I could think of in Jesus' name. I asked God to show me WHAT had come into my life to allow this horrible fear and depression and anxiety. I wrote all my feelings down in a journal so that I could try to figure out where I had gone wrong.

Guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt. I lived with it day in and day out.

Past sins were in front of my face all day- things I had failed in, things I had thought, motives for things, things from my childhood - it was always at the forefront of my brain, and no matter how hard I tried to shake it off, no matter how many times I asked God to take that guilt away, it remained.

It took intense counseling with my pastor to convince me that I was right with God- I was a pastor's wife going through this, so I called my "area" pastor. He was able to take me through scriptures and help me to see that my salvation was- and always has been - based on the word of God, and NOT my emotions.  I am so thankful for the hours I spent (spread out over several months) with my pastor, who helped me to recognize that what I was going through was anxiety and depression. I would not have been able to see that on my own, because I had never dealt with it until that point in my life.

This post isn't meant to offer all the answers to how God brought me through that season of life- because He did bring me through. I can't even make myself feel those things right now if I try. At that time I felt like I would never be able to be looking back at those feelings- it felt like I was always, always going to live in that black hole. I'm writing this post to maybe help someone see that if you can identify with those feelings, perhaps what you're going through is anxiety and depression. And to let you know that you CAN come through to the other side. There is hope. I know when you're in the dungeon of depression it feels like there's no way out. Believe me - I know.

Before I continue any further in writing about these issues, I just want to offer you an anchor for your soul...and it's found in Jesus.




I could not begin to address the issues of anxiety and depression without first making sure my heart was right with God- the One who made me and knew how to heal my soul. Am I saying that becoming a Christian is going to be the instant fix to your situation, that it will wipe every trial away like a magic wand, and you'll never face another moment of depression again ? I can't say that in honesty- because I went through these things as a Christian. What I am saying, is that I cannot imagine someone going through the kind of hell I went through without the grace and help of a loving and merciful Father to bring me through.

Do you have that today ? You can. It's not about joining a church or a religion - it's about entering into a relationship with the creator of the universe- the one who loves you more than you could ever know, and wants to help you through this.

It's so simple...

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.
Romans 10:9-10


If you don't have that relationship with God, you can right now...God is so ready to hear your prayer. Pour out your heart to Him in prayer ...


If we tell Him our sins, He is faithful and we can depend on Him to forgive us of our sins. He will make our lives clean from all sin.
1 John 1:9

20 “Look! I have been standing at the door, and I am constantly knocking. If anyone hears me calling him and opens the door, I will come in and fellowship with him and he with me. 
Revelations 3:20





I'll write more later- I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comment section.

Lots of love,

Patti

Thursday, October 10, 2013

thankful thursday

This morning I was snuggling in bed with my two youngest children, enjoying the silence around me and watching the sun filter through the curtains. Lily was doing what I like to call "burrowing" into my side...she can be completely pressed up against me, but she'll continue pawing her feet against my legs, turning her head and rubbing it against my neck until she can't get any closer. It's like she can't get enough of me. She's usually sucking her thumb while she burrows, and the other hand is busy squeezing my hair or stroking my arm. My husband calls her an affection monger....and he's just as powerless as I am when it comes to peeling her off in the morning.

So I lay there thinking about this season of my life, where I still have little ones who want to call my bed their own. I feel so blessed to have had two children in my forties, and to have grandchildren now as well. I've always been obsessed with babies from the time I was slightly older than one myself. Consequently, I am soaking up every moment with Lily and Hayden, knowing it won't be forever that we have little ones in our home.

And as I lay there thinking about seasons, and the current one I'm in, I started to look back at some of the winters in my life - figuratively speaking - when I had a very hard time finding any sunlight or warmth for the day.

I want to write about this more later on, but there is dinner to make and laundry to put away, and I don't feel like I could do my thoughts justice with a hastily thrown together post about ... anxiety and depression.

Those two words carry a weight to them that I think a lot of women know too well, and I have wanted for a long time to address them in a blogpost. Some recent conversations with a good friend reinforced my thinking - because I have walked through some things that are maybe more common to women than I used to know. She asked me why I never wrote about these issues much before, and I responded that it is embarrassing. It's almost like there's this unwritten rule about Christian moms not talking about issues like anxiety - and I think there are many reasons for that. We might feel we aren't being a good testimony if we admit to anxiety...how can we tell other people about Jesus when we are going through such intense fears that they result in true physical anxiety ? Or maybe we look at anxiety as sin - and who wants to confess their "sin" for others to look down upon or analyze ? I know I have struggled with how much to share because of the size of my family...because I know there are those who would point fingers and say "see, that's why you shouldn't have so many kids!"

But let me tell you this about anxiety and depression : it crosses all barriers. I've talked to doctors who have dealt with it, I've talked to pastors who have dealt with it, I've talked to totally physically fit people who've dealt with it, and those who are pretty "spiritually fit" as well. I've talked to moms of large families, who have faced anxiety, and I've talked to women who have NO kids who have gone through it. I've read about people who went through a brief season of anxiety and depression, and learned about others who battled periods of these things their whole lives.

So I'm going to wade into these waters in the upcoming weeks...because maybe my conversation with my friend was a little nudge from God to do so.

If you've gone through anything like what I've gone through in the past, you know that one of the keys to overcoming anxiety and depression is recognizing that you're not alone. Because one of the biggest lies you deal with when you're going through it is that nobody understands you...and there is no hope that they ever will.

So if you are interested in reading about these subjects, would you do me a favor ? Would you leave a little message in the comment section letting me know ? I'm not going to turn Lily's blog into a therapy session, but I do feel like God has helped me through some things, and if those trials can be turn to gold by helping somebody else, I'm all for it.

I'll leave things at that, but for now, here's what I'm thankful for today ...




She loves to play house. Carries her baby, a cell phone, a purse, and walks around multi-tasking all day. She takes selfies with her baby and shows them to us (on her fake phone) and she is a boss at stealing any money or make-up she can find to stuff in her wallet. She is a TRIP.




Jackson loves his schoolwork. He is only six, but he is doing second grade work and breezing right through it. We found a great online curriculum this year (thank you Shannon!) called time4learning. It is available for all grade levels and although we are supplementing with additional reading and writing, it seems to be a great resource for homeschooling.




Abigail is becoming a miniature Pioneer Woman in the kitchen. She loves looking up recipes online and whipping things up for all of us - donuts, cakes, cookies - and her latest creation, Buckeyes. I just ate one before typing this, and there are chocolate fingerprints on the keyboard to prove it.

Mwahahahaha.





Jonathan loves vacuuming. Okay, he hates it. But he loves flexing his muscles. What a stud.






I already said she loves her babies. I'm saying it again. And she LOVES this little one that friends of ours sent her (thank you, Williams family !) because it looks just like her. She spent the morning wrapping her up in a blankie and patting her to sleep, and she must have discovered that shushing is the secret to keeping babies happy, because she shush-shush-shushes her dollie. All.day.long.

And speaking of shushing...




Hayden needs me. He is probably the most arm-spoiled baby we have had to date, but he is also the cutest. Please don't tell my other ten. But it's true.


And finally...Noah and Abbi made their own movie trailer. Completely unaided. I laughed myself silly after watching it, because they are just too cute.






What are you thankful for ?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

(almost) wordless wednesday

It's Wednesday.

I went to get my hair done (thank you, Cassie!) and I am behind on teaching. We have church tonight and I have so much to do.

So consequently, I am sitting at the computer with a bag of milk chocolate chips spilled out on the surface of the desk (easier than daintily trying to retrieve them from the slit in the bag), uploading pictures and listening to my kids bicker over a game in the other room. Someone is banging out a tune on the piano in a made-up key, Hayden is fussing in someone's arms, someone else is yelling that so-and-so is shaking his bootie while he's dancing (only acceptable in family dance videos, not for every day use), someone else ran in to tell me that someone said shut-up (not allowed here)   ...

What can I say?


It's Wednesday.


Mondays start off with great expectations and my list of to-do's is a mile long and I'm pretty good at crossing things off quickly and efficiently. Tuesdays are a little slower, maybe a tad less ambition, but we're still moving in the direction we want to go...

...and then there are Wednesdays.

So I really should get off the computer and go tell so-and-so to stop shaking his bootie and so-and-so to apologize to his sibling and start dinner early so we can be on time to church, and put the chocolate chips away and eat something healthy, and go blow-dry my hair and change Hayden's diaper and put Lily down for a nap.

I'm dying to write a post about thankfulness (Norah is home with Jason and Naomi and I am SO thankful about that) and I have another snarky one that I will probably never write about people who assume so much about your life when really they don't have a clue (I'll text my brother about it instead and he'll send me 14 emails in response that make me laugh so hard I pee my pants) and I have a really belated post about Abigail's birthday and ear piercing experience with lots of funny pictures ...


...but it's Wednesday.



So instead I'll just do an (almost) Wordless Wednesday post because we have church tonight and now Lily needs to be changed too and somebody just reminded me he never did his schoolwork on the computer today because he was the designated babysitter while I was getting my hair done.



So here you go...














deep fried oreos. word.








Happy Wednesday !!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

she's home !!



Naomi just picked Koa up...little Norah Jane has just been released from the hospital with a clean bill of health !!! Her spinal tap results came back clear - thank you so very much to everyone who has been praying...lots of relief here :):)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

prayer for Norah

I posted this on Instagram today, but in case you don't follow there, please pray for Norah Jane.



Last night Jason and Naomi took her to ER for a high fever. She had to have a spinal tap and an IV for fluids, as she was dehydrated from diarrhea. The spinal tap came back cloudy, which initially led doctors to believe she has meningitis - either viral or bacterial. She was admitted and has been doing much better since receiving antibiotics and fluids...we're still waiting on results of the spinal tap, because it takes 48 hours for the culture to grow. No news is good news right now as far as the culture grows, because obviously it is not immediately showing signs of bacterial meningitis. Naomi is there with her now- Jason has clinicals tomorrow, as he is entering a nursing program...we have Koa. This has been a very trying 24 hours, and we covet your prayers. Little Norah was a preemie, and she is still only 6 pounds. They had quite a difficult time getting her IV in last night, and it just about broke our hearts seeing her so upset.

So many of you, through IG, have been praying for her- will you continue to do so until she is completely recovered ? And pray for Naomi and Jason as well ? We so appreciate it.

And none of this is about me - but I'm asking for prayer too...my emotions are shot. If there's anything worse than seeing your own kids go through sickness, it's watching your grandkids do so. I just feel so helpless. I'm so thankful for prayer, because it does give me something to "do".

And for some reason I am missing my dad so much tonight. It's been four months today since he died, and some days it just hits me harder than others. I wish he had gotten to meet Norah. And Hayden. And to hear that Monique is pregnant. And I just miss his voice saying "hello, Pa- tree- sha."

I'm crying now, so I'll end...thank you so much for your prayers.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

what does the fox say ?

The videos I am about to post will not make any sense if you haven't first seen THIS. If you have seen it...they still may not makes sense. They're not meant to. They were just fun to produce.

P.S. Special thanks to my daughter-in-loves and my daughter for choreographing the entire production, and also to my son Jason for filming it. And to all of the dancers, including myself - you rock.


If you've ever wondered what the fox says... we have the answer.