geanniegray.com

a blog about life with diabetes, depression & dysfunction & how to manage them with HOPE!

Tag: God


watching God do His thang… (& other random mind dumps)


Okay, so you guys know, if you know ME or if you’ve read here much at all, that I am a “retired” homeschool mom of two twenty-something sons.  Yeah, I’ve been “retired” for quite some time!

Homeschooling was the greatest, most best decision we ever made.  Yes, even though I had plenty of days when I was quite certain it was the WORST decision we ever made.  I think as a mom OR dad, wanting to do the very best for your children, we all have those doubts when trying to determine what’s best for our kids.  Even though we were happy having the boys at home and I loved being a stay-at-home mom teaching my boys, there were still days that it seemed like a really baaaad choice!  There are probably those moments in anything we pursue that is ultimately good.

I would never say I was a “great” homeschool mother.  I wouldn’t even say I was “good” at it most days.  But I tried my best to meet the needs of my children.  I know families with 8+ children who have a whole posse of little virtuoso in a variety of areas.  Music, mathematics, communication, entrepreneurship… you name it.  Many of those kids are now doing extremely well in their adult lives.  My boys are no exception to that.  I feel like, at least for me, this is the litmus test as to whether homeschooling was a success.

While my youngest son chose not to finish high school, he is still doing well.  He never attended any other type of school than at home.  My boys have quite different personalities and while our eldest enjoyed learning at home, our youngest had a different bent.  He wanted nothing to do with anything that came hard to him.  If it wasn’t easy or something he was extremely interested in, he just didn’t want to do it at all.  And he was several times more stubborn than his mother, so this made continuing his education at home very difficult.

I don’t want to rehash old problems or bring up too much from a really hard time in our family, but our baby became very rebellious, very hateful toward me specifically.  I’m not sure if that was just because I was the “authority” figure  for the large part of his life at that time (since I was also his ‘teacher’) or if it was more personally directed at me, but it was very obvious and it broke my heart.

By the time he was 14 or 15, he began to just refuse to do his lessons.  He had a car by this time, one he had bought himself and was working on to have ready by the time he got his license, so of course, he spent a ton of time doing that.  When he’d  refuse to read anything else, no matter how hard I’d tried to find literature that would interest him, he would devour anything about his car without hesitation.  And yes, I did try to allow as much as I could for the how-to car reading to count toward his school, but that wouldn’t fill all the requirements.  But no matter what we threatened or how hard we explained why he needed to do the other work, he would just refuse.  He wasn’t super-in-your-face with his refusal, but he’d sit for hours NOT doing the work you gave him.

Needless to say, I was frustrated beyond words and it became harder and harder to deal with.  It didn’t make it any easier that the boys’ father wasn’t really a disciplinarian in that area.  I’m trying NOT to sound disrespectful or like I am bashing Tommy, but he just wasn’t involved with schooling very much.  He felt that was my job, my territory, and when I would come to him with concerns or problems,  he just wasn’t very helpful in addressing them.  I think he felt like he and Casey were more alike and Corey and I were alike so he usually seemed to “side” with Casey.  I say “sided” because that’s how it felt.  In hindsight, I think Tommy just didn’t know what to do, he wasn’t fully aware of how bad things had become and that’s what informed his actions.  The way most things go in parenting, we always just do the best we know how at the time and I think that’s what happened here.

All these years later, we discovered that there were things happening in Casey’s life that we had absolutely no clue about.  He shut himself off from us and seeing how he rebelled even more if we tried to approach him, we just gave him space.  We had no clue he needed us to break through his walls, to be praying for him in specific ways, to help him navigate some horrible things.  When I was made aware of this stuff, just a few years ago, it broke my heart all over again.  What kind of mother am I to not know??  To not see how much my child needed his parents to intervene??  Even if he was pushing me away with all his might, how could I not know how much he was hurting?  Those thoughts bring the tears, even now.  Nothing is more heartbreaking as a mother than to realize you failed your child in such a huge way.

deep sigh

All of that to say, even with all this failure and heartbreak, I don’t regret homeschooling my boys.  And to see them today, both successful in their jobs, both contributing, functional adults in spite of their “lack of socialization” (pshh!) is a balm to my mama-soul!

You may not know, but Corey, our eldest, recently moved with his wife to the Cincinnati area for a new job.  The company found his profile on LinkedIn and sent a request for his application!  Out of the blue.  Realizing this, as a homeschool mom, was a real boost for me personally.  I mean, after all the naysayers either aloud or privately saying my children would suffer from our choosing to teach them at home?  I thank God for this affirmation that we did what we should have at the time.

Casey and Corey have always worked together in their grandpa’s business (my dad), which is a combination of various plumbing-related things.  They’ve sort of grown up in the trade, working summers from the time they were barely teenagers to the year Corey put off his graduation in order to help my dad when his only other employee at the time (my father-in-law) had suffered a heart attack and dad sorely needed the help.  Corey was not quite 17 when he made that decision and because we homeschooled, it was totally possible to do this.

When Corey left to take this job, it left Casey with a role he hadn’t ever filled before.  And let me say, this was a job too good for Corey to pass.  It was higher pay with commissions and bonuses, less stress of being responsible for both office work and keeping track of and working on jobs and less being resented because to others, it seemed Corey was doing less because of his time doing office work.  There’s also benefits like retirement and 401k plans that aren’t available with my dad’s business and room to advance.  There’s also a respect that Corey didn’t get here at home.  No one who knows the situation could possibly fault him for taking the job.  As much as it pained me to see him move, I can’t deny that in so many other areas, he’s a lot better off than he was here.

It really took him leaving for my dad and Casey to realize how much Corey was actually doing.  So as far as the resentment shown when Corey informed them he was leaving, there’s now a respect that had never been shown before.  It always hurt me so much to know that the boys, both of them, were dealing with so much stress and tension from my dad, who seemed to not understand or be willing to admit that doing things the same old way weren’t working.  Any new idea the boys came up with was met with scorn and most times, ridicule so they had to continue doing things a more difficult way while bearing the weight of their grandfather’s disapproval.

I love my dad, don’t get me wrong.  But he can be impossibly bullheaded sometimes.  Like most of us, I guess, only… well, more so!  I think now that these changes have been made, he’s beginning to see that there need to be new ways of doing things than he’s done all his adult life with his various businesses.  I just hope Casey can continue to urge him to make the changes.  Casey is much better at communicating or at least confronting my dad than Corey was.  Casey will get in his face and tell him when he’s being irrational  or stubborn where Corey would just bite his tongue and let Pap carry on his own path.  Overall, I think Corey’s leaving has been a positive thing all around.  I had been very worried that it would be only negative here at home, with the business. but it seems to have ushered in some new realizations so I’m hopeful things will be better here as well.

Casey is now having to step us as more of the salesman for the company, the “people-person”, which had been Corey’s role most of the time.  And granted, I think both the boys would agree that Corey has an easier time with that than Casey most of the time.  Although Casey is learning and he does very well most of the time anyway, it doesn’t come as naturally to him as it does Corey.  It’s been good to see Casey maturing in the way he sees the business now that he doesn’t have his brother to leave all that to.  Maybe I’m a little biased since I am the eldest in my family, but I think it’s just easy for the younger to leave things up to the elder.  It’s like a natural role so when there’s never an opportunity for the younger to take the lead, they will continue to let the older sibling tend to those things.  It’s not that Casey is unable, it’s just that he’d never really had to before, so in all, it’s a good thing, I believe.

In case you’re wondering about that title, it was intended to refer to how things just fell into place with Corey moving and getting this job.  He has all this time he never had before and he’s figuring out what to do with himself.  That’s a good problem to have.  Granted, some of that no-time-for-himself thing was because he was also serving as youth pastor at his church here.  Not only was he dealing with all the stuff from the business, he had kids calling on him at all hours with various issues plus all the activities that were most of the time scheduled by someone else without consulting Corey first.  It was just a lot on his plate.

But the whole thing with this new job just sort of happened all at once.  They contacted him, he sent a resume, then went up for an interview, the next week he went for another interview and then the offer letter came.  All that happened in less than a month beginning around the first week of November and then they wanted him to start in January!  They had to settle their house, pack it up and get rid of what they weren’t keeping, deal with settling Corey’s part of the business, find an apartment and figure out how to get moved up there all at once!  It was crazy times, let me tell ya!

And this poor mom had like ZERO time to adjust to all this.  I mean, like I’ve said, I never dreamed either of my boys would move out of town, let alone out of state!  And even if I thought one of them might move, I always figured that would be Casey, not Corey.  It was like total shock!

Thankfully, I got to spend time with them after Tommy and I helped the kids find an apartment, so we had first-hand knowledge of where they were and what kind of place they had, what type of area they lived in and all that.  I think they really appreciated our help.  It all went so smoothly, with only 4 of them (Melissa’s uncle and cousin came to help) unloading the UHaul and getting done right ahead of the snowy rain?  That was just God, y’all.  He was just working through the entire thing.

They went from a 1400 square foot home with a full finished basement to a 1000 square foot apartment with a small storage room about the size of a closet!  Needless to say, they got rid of a ton of stuff.  Their apartment is nice, cozy but roomy enough for them.  It’s also roomy enough to house a few guests for a few days (or a week.. I stayed with them almost a week at the end of January).  Ha.  Their dog, Timber the Australian Shepherd, has adjusted extremely well.  Even with the company changing start dates on Corey and having him start a couple days before he even had his work van organized, he’s done really well and has been noticed by the management and owners.

Casey seems to have adjusted to the new role he has and although he’s working a lot, he’s doing well, too.  I would honestly be tickled if he would move up there and take a job with this company too.  They recruited Corey because of his experience in plumbing and the fact that he has his Master Plumber license and they have just started expanding their business into plumbing and need licensed plumbers!  But Casey doesn’t seem interested and that may have more to do with his wife, I don’t know.  Shoot, if Tommy wasn’t less than five years from retirement, I would be pushing him to move up there and apply with this company.  It’s been voted one of the top businesses in Cincinnati several years in a row and anyone who knows about it says it is an awesome company.  They really have a stellar reputation and they do business in such a no-nonsense way that seeks to accommodate customers while also taking great care of their employees.  They have an open-door policy among management, which in this company means there are NO doors in their offices!  How cool is that?  You won’t find many companies that think this way!

Anyway, I guess all this is just to give God ALL the credit for working things out so well.  For helping me deal with my anxiety over the sudden move, for making things smooth out here at home as well as for Corey in his new home and job.  Now, if the boys would just allow God to move and work in repairing their relationship, I’d be super-thrilled!  Over the last few years, the boys have seemed to get this growing tension in their relationship.  I think it’s been partially due to dealing with dad and the stress of working with him and each other and the changes that came with their marriages and adding new family members.  Casey and Mel were almost like brother and sister when Corey first got married.  It was good to see him be so at ease with her and watch them have fun being around each other.

I think after Casey moved into the basement of my parents’ old house (where Corey and Mel lived–the three of them bought the house together for some reason I’ll never understand–my dad arranged the whole thing) things seemed to change and I don’t know why.  Maybe it was the dynamics or maybe the proximity?  I just don’t know.

Things just change over time, and I know that.  I just never dreamed they would drift so far apart or that one would push the other away.  Growing up, they were each other’s best friend.  As they began to get a little older, into double digits I guess, they spent more time with other people, had the chance to make other friends.  Corey, like I said, is just generally more outgoing and quick to extend himself to make a friend.  Not that he tried to leave Casey behind.  It wasn’t like that at all.  Most of the time, Casey was included in whatever Corey did, whoever Corey hung out with.  I guess maybe as time went on, Casey began to feel like he was in Corey’s shadow?  I don’t know why.  At least, I never saw Corey treat Casey with anything other than patience.  Maybe I didn’t see everything.  I don’t know.

I mean, obviously with the things that Casey got into when he hit the teens without me even having a clue, how would I know what was really happening?  Did I miss things between them, right under my nose too?  I tried so hard to do everything I could to help them learn and have fun and do the things they wanted.  How did I mess it up so bad?

How could I fail so bad?  So big?  Our one son barely acknowledges us most of the time and has many times brought his brother to tears the way he’s shut him out, shoved him away in the past 3-4 years.  Why did I not know he was struggling with something dark and evil?  He was a teenager.  He was surly and aloof.  We thought he needed his space.  We gave him his space and apparently the space for this evil to get an even tighter grip.  He grew more and more hateful toward me.  He seemed to just despise me and I didn’t know why.  I thought it had to do with school, but apparently the evil had given him more fuel to just add to his resentment toward me.  I have been so hurt, so heartbroken over the way he’s treated me.

My response to hurt, after it goes on for awhile, is to just shut down.  To just shut myself off from the hurt by avoiding it, the person causing it, to steel myself to it.  So I just tried to keep from losing it.  After trying to reach out to him, trying to show him how much I cared and having him push me away, I just quit trying.  I avoided him or shut my emotions off when it came to talking to him.  Maybe he saw that as proof that whatever horrible thing he thought of me was true?  I don’t know.   It was just the only way I knew to deal with it.   So yeah, I guess I just allowed my heart to harden, to turn to stone  a little bit.

If you read about The Dark Secret, the really depressing, maddening thing that was going on in our marriage for almost 20 years at the time all this was happening, you might realize, I was hardly hanging on to reality sometimes.  It was all I could do to keep from losing it most days.  Add to that the awful state our finance tend to stay in.. more so now than when the kids were at home.  I guess it’s because the both of us have so many stupid medical bills, take so much medicine now, but for some reason, we seem to never have enough money.  We really don’t splurge on anything, but still we always have to juggle the bills trying to keep from going under.

All of that is a lot for my brain.  I have a really hard time not being dismally depressed.  I have to constantly tell myself I am blessed.  I have a lot to be thankful for.  Then I get a notice that the bank balance is dismal, or a reminder that my youngest son doesn’t like me or a bad blood sugar or I run out of a medicine knowing I have to wait for the next paycheck to get my refill…  that’s all it takes for me to just slide down into the pit a little further.

Soooo…after explaining my title and now sorta obliterating it with my random bout of ‘the dumps’, let me say that I still cling to the fact that God loves me.  He has my best interests at heart in everything He leads me to and leads me through.  I don’t know why I tend so heavily toward depression.  I don’t know why my relationship with my youngest son is such a mess or why we didn’t know he needed us to rescue him from himself when he was a kid.  I don’t know why we have to constantly struggle to make ends meet.  Why we can’t ever rest because we can’t seem to keep our bills paid.  I don’t know why we had to endure all those years, those decades with our marriage in shambles.  I don’t know why He kept us together through all that other than to receive the healing we did.  To show us that it’s never too late.

So as I sit here, in tears, hurting and wishing I understood, wishing things weren’t the way they are but having no clue how to change it.  Worrying how we’ll pay for things, if I’ll ever not hurt when I’m with my baby son, if I’ll ever be able to have all my kids together, daughters-in-law included, and not have to worry that they’re trading barbs or if what they’re saying carries a double meaning, worrying that we will have spent our entire marriage scrapping, struggling to have enough money to pay bills and buy medicine.  Feeling SO tired of worrying.  So guilty that I worry when I am supposed to trust God.  Feeling like such a failure in so many, many ways….  just know that later, maybe not tomorrow, but later, soon… I will be better.  I’ll realize things aren’t as dismal as they seem, that God’s still got me.

God always has me.  This I know.  <3

 


gifts from God


Happy Monday, y’all!  I hope you guys had a great weekend.  Ours was awesome because our baby-kids returned home from Haiti after being there for two weeks!  It was great to finally have them back!

I just have to say, not to brag or to put down anyone else’s church in any way, but I just love my church.  It’s huge in comparison to any other church I’ve ever attended, but it doesn’t feel huge and the preaching is just so phenomenal and so applicable.  It isn’t that we hear only feel-good sermons, the way many in our area believe.  Quite the contrary!!  Many times my hubby and I leave church feeling very humbled and challenged to do better, to improve ourselves and always be transforming ourselves to be more like Jesus!

So Pastor Trevor’s latest series is called “Sweet Spot” and concerns the giving of spiritual gifts from God to His children.  It’s about the fact that each of us are given specific spiritual gifts and that we should discover and hone them, leverage them for the kingdom of God.  Use them to help others and lead them to faith in Christ!

Here’s the link we were given to take a test that will help determine our spiritual giftings:  Spiritual Gifts Questionaire   Almost all of our family have taken the test and some of us spent Saturday evening comparing and sharing how we ranked.

what are your spiritual gifts?

I have to say I was a little surprised by my scores.  Granted, there are some statements on the test that are a little ambiguous and so I answered “neutral” to many when I was either unsure of what it was saying exactly or when it seemed to have two parts and I would feel one way about the first part and another about the second.  I may go back and take it again in a few weeks and see how I score then.

As for the first attempt, I scored very 5/5 in teaching.  Not super-surprising.  I am the eldest child and we tend to be teachers by design.  I homeschooled my children through high school, so yes, I wasn’t shocked to score high in that area, although I don’t really consider myself a good teacher.

I may tend to be a little impatient which is probably why my second high score was in prophecy.  Hmm.  Now, before you jump to the usual conclusion about what ‘prophecy’ means or what it means to be considered a prophet, let me explain that the gift of prophecy is not about foretelling.  As Pastor Trevor so aptly put it, “It’s about forth-telling.”  Meaning it’s about seeing potential and being pretty honest with our opinions.

That makes much more sense to me!

Yesterday’s sermon was about prophets and their strengths and weaknesses.  About how prophets are perceived and misunderstood sometimes.  It was a really great sermon and I can’t wait for the rest of them!  I’m really glad that I won’t miss out on any due to the Orlando trip to MasterLab 2016 next week, too!

The big picture of this series is that we are responsible for using whatever spiritual gift we’ve been given for God’s purposes.  We’re responsible for figuring out what that gift is, and to realize that no one alone is fully equipped to be a spiritual “multi-tool”.  We are, as Romans 12 tells us, many separate members of one body and a member or “part” on its own, is limited to what it can do and only what it can do.  When working in conjunction with the rest of the parts, a body and therefore its parts, can be much more productive.

Of course, we have all heard the sayings about “teamwork” and “many hands make light work” and such.  This is not a new idea, but it bears repeating because we always seem to need the reminder!

Some points that were brought to light about the fact that each person has different gifts and different abilities to use those gifts, so that none of us are the same which can lead to different approaches, ideas and ultimately, misunderstandings.

We need to remember always that we were created by and for God…made ON purpose, FOR a purpose!  We are created as originals and should not attempt to be or settle for being a duplicate.

When it comes to the individuality of our gifts, we can misunderstand each other because of our misconceptions of one another.  Since we see EVERYTHING through the lens of our particular giftings, whether we realize it or not, sometimes we don’t understand the words and actions of someone who is also viewing the world through their own particular gifts…gifts that are not like ours and whose strengths are not the same as our own.

And we must understand this:  Our spiritual gifts are not about having an ability as much as the capacity to develop an ability.  Think about that one for a sec.  It’s not necessarily that we are ‘bestowed’ with a particular gift but that we discover and develop the gift!  We have to invest ourselves in it.

Since the sermon focused on the prophet, Trevor gave us the characteristics, challenges, potential dangers for and public perception of the prophet.

As a person who scored high in the gift of prophecy, I could relate to so many of these!  Things like the fact that as prophets, we are rather opinionated, we see the “wrong” first, we’re impatient, we tend to be loners or prefer isolation, we are highly intolerant of dishonesty, very transparent in that we are very much WYSIWYG…‘what-you-see-is-what-you-get’ and we want justice to be served.

Our challenges are not being very good one-on-one (even though we don’t much like crowds), we’re suspicious,  never taking things at face-value, we tend to jump to conclusions and over-think things, we have a tendency to be (or at least appear!) bossy and super-negative, and others (especially those gifted with service and mercy) tend to see us a completely tactless in the way we speak to people.

The dangers we must watch out for are the tendency to be easily depressed and discouraged (hello!)…we see the wrong first, remember?  We want it to be righted and sometimes that can be overwhelming.  Even when it’s a “wrong” in our own lives.  My experience is that this is the worst of all.  If I feel powerless to fix what’s wrong in my own life, then I tend to just give up on anything else.  I feel unworthy to mention it let alone fix it.  For me, these feelings stem mostly from feeling out of control where my health/body is concerned.  Feeling exhausted so much of the time doesn’t lead to an organized life or clean home, ya know?  WANTING these things done and being able to accomplish them are two entirely different things!  sigh

Another danger is we find it hard to forgive.  Thank God, He’s been working on me in this area for many years and I’m getting lots better at this, but it is still a struggle!  We tend to default to anger and bitterness.  I think this also links back to our struggles with depression.  We can become prideful and we find it easier to rebuke than restore.

That last one explained why I didn’t score higher as an encourager the way I thought I would!  Seriously, this whole blog is about my desire to encourage others to stay positive, to never give up!  But when I read that, “finds it easier to rebuke than restore” it made me realize that this is so true of me.  I feel like it’s being encouraging, but others see it as rebuke or scolding!  When I say, “Pick yourself up, put your big kid pants on and get on with it!” it’s not seen as super-encouraging!  Hahaha!  And what’s really funny is that I wouldn’t see it that way either if it were directed at me.  So… I have a big task here to be a bit more soft and gentle with my “encouragement”.  Although… I still think sometimes people just need a good (but loving! -haha!) kick in the pants to see that they are just wallowing in self-pity.

Ahem.  Maybe I have more work to do than I thought.  grin

So, to conclude Trevor made clear that we all need prophets in our lives but we need to learn to understand them as much as they need to learn how to interact better with those who are not prophet-personalities.

Wow…see why I can’t wait for the rest of the series?  I’m anxious to hear about server-personalities since my Tommy is one and those who scored high in mercy (Taylor) and those who may have scored equally in several areas the way Casey did and those who scored almost equally in teaching and administration the way Corey did.  I haven’t seen Melissa’s score, but I suspect she would probably fall into server or administrator?  It will be interesting to see.

I pray this whole thing helps us all to communicate better with each other and those around us!

What do you think about this sort of “personality” testing to determine spiritual gifts?  Have you taken one?  How did you score?  Can  you see other traits from reading my blog?

Let’s discuss!

Oh…here’s the sermon too. (NOTE: when I posted this link, the video was not yet uploaded.  Check back.  It will be available soon but look over the notes and group questions in the meantime!)   Go watch it, and go back to watch the first one too.  I think you’ll love it!


dealing with insecurity…


Don't think too highly of yourself, but don't think less of yourself than God does!

Hey y’all!  Hope your week is off to an amazing start.  I am running on less than 10 hours sleep today, so that’s progress! (I’m not joking!)

But enough about my terrible lack of energy these days…

We had another tremendous sermon yesterday.  This whole series has been SO wonderful and SO needed!  We all have mental and emotional stuff…baggage, garbage, whatever you wanna call it.  We all have it, unfortunately.  Some of us create our own and some have other people who create it for us, but either way, it’s not healthy and if we are having major struggles with our emotional “junk” then we can’t be as spiritually healthy as we need to be and can be!

So yesterday’s message was about insecurity.  Insecurity is defined as so:

in·se·cu·ri·ty
ˌinsəˈkyo͝orədē/
noun
  1. uncertainty or anxiety about oneself; lack of confidence.

It is unwise to think more highly of yourself than you should and unfortunate to think less of yourself than God does.

Pretty common knowledge, right?  Yeah, so what can contribute to insecurity?  One of the things Pastor Trevor brought up was the fact that we have these “competing identities”.  For instance:

the way you see “you”

the way others see “you”

the way you *think* others see “you”

the way you can’t see yourself due to your *ideas* of “you”

the way you *think* “you” should look/be

the way you *think* God sees “you”

the way God  *actually* sees “you”

Like most anything else, when it comes to reality, our minds…our self-imposed ideas of what should or should not be…our way of letting others dictate how we view things can really mess up what God has created.  We have to learn to replace our faulty, deceptive way of thinking with the truth of God’s word.

The way WE see ourselves can be really distorted by our own faulty thinking or by the way others have described us.  The way others see us can also be a distortion depending on their own individual emotional “stuff” and the way they filter information about the world around them.  If they’ve been sort-of *programmed* (for lack of a better word right now) to be negative about things, they are liable to only see the flaws in everything/one else!  If a person has been “taught” to have a low view of themselves, they are likely to not even notice anyone around them due to thinking they’re so unworthy or unwanted.  See?  Most of the times, others will see us a lot closer to reality unless we are “putting on a show” and pretending to be something we’re not.

“O Lord God, do not turn away the face of your anointed one! Remember your steadfast love for David your servant.”  ~2 Chronicles 6:42

The way others see us can also be a distortion depending on their own individual emotional “stuff” and the way they filter information about the world around them.  If they’ve been sort-of *programmed* (for lack of a better word right now) to be negative about things, they are liable to only see the flaws in everything/one else!  If a person has been “taught” to have a low view of themselves, they are likely to not even notice anyone around them due to thinking they’re so unworthy or unwanted.  See?  Most of the time, however, others will see us a lot closer to reality unless we are “putting on a show” and pretending to be something we’re not.

The way we THINK others see us is almost always incorrect.  Even more so if we have an unhealthy of our own selves.  Of course, how we feel and think about ourselves factors heavily into this.  If we are thinking in unhealthy and deceptive ways about ourselves, we will automatically believe others see us the same way.

The way we see ourselves is largely based on the ideas and ideals we have.  If we have lopsided ideas about ourselves, we’re obviously NOT going to be able to see ourselves with truth.  It’s one of those can’t-see-the-forest-for-the-trees situations.  We can’t see our true self for all the bad ideas we have, all the deceptive ideals we’ve created about who we are.

This goes along with the way we THINK we should look or be.  Almost ALL the time this is going to be due to influences around us.  The way our parents raised us or talked to us, the way our friends have treated us or persuaded us to feel/think.  Many times, it’s also clouded with lots of untruths and unfair comparisons.

God only needs one; He made me to be that one.

How we THINK God sees us can be unbelievably skewed and affected by many different experiences we’ve had thus far in our lives.

There are tons of bad theology out there about how God sees His children!  For instance, a theology that says you have to “do” certain things or “be” a certain way in order for God to love you or sometimes to even receive salvation!

I have one word to say about this kind of “religion”:  RUN!  Fast and far.  Jesus loves us where we are.  He died for us before we even knew Him.  He’s not waiting for you to fulfill a checklist of tasks before He will love you.  (sorry for this rabbit trail!)  So, obviously, there are LOTS of ways we mess up the way God actually sees us because of how we THINK He sees us.  Stop putting God in a box!

 “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”

~Romans 8:32

The insecurity in me fades when I find my ultimate security in Christ.

How can I know how God *actually* sees me?  That’s the easiest part.  He used all these people through several centuries to write His love letter to the world.  All of it is contained in the Bible.  To know God’s heart, His will for you, the way He sees you … read His word!  Once you start immersing yourself in scripture, you will begin to see His will, His guiding hand, all over your life and you’ll be more at peace when the path starts to get a little bumpy.

 

 


of being a blogger: a plea for help!


Hey y’all.  I’m working so hard, trying to increase traffic here…build an audience, a subscription list, whatever else a successful blogger does.  Most of the time, I feel like I’m just flopping around, splashing water into the floor, making a mess.

blogging sites

I see some steadiness in the amount of traffic, so I suspect some of you are just awesomely loyal readers and probably close friends who stop by often to see what crazy thing I’ve posted.  I am so thankful for you!

I know I’ve said it before, but this blogging thing is a big deal to me.  I started it after months and months of stewing and praying about whether I should even try.  I’ve blogged off and on for about 16 years, so it seemed like the natural thing for me to do…try to monetize the thing I am so passionate about.  I felt (and still feel, btw) that God was really nudging me in this direction and so, even though I didn’t feel completely ready, I took the plunge.  I plopped down what little was left from our tax refund and started this site.

Looking back, a month later now, I see many mistakes.  I think most of them are easily overcome though and not the kind that will break me or the blog.  I still don’t understand stupid AdSense or why my husband can get an account with them like snap that and me, with my two (now three!) google accounts, can’t get any of them approved.  I’m not sure I’m missing much though.  I’m learning that AdSense isn’t the end-all-be-all it has been purported to be, so I have pursued other means of generating income through my blog.

blogging for a living

Some of them I am pleased about, and some I will be glad when I can be done with.  And no, for the record, I haven’t made a single cent so far.  That really concerns me, but I have to remind myself how new it all is.  I can’t do it all at once and I need to be patient.

But BOY, is that hard!!

Today, when I went to look at a “blogging schedule” thingie I got from the web, for today it says to post about relaxing.   BAHAHAHA!!  What is that even?!?  I don’t have time right now to relax, and certainly not about the state of my blog.  Some of these ‘blog helps’ aren’t really geared toward me, ya know?  Many of the blogs in these groups are about how to create a successful website, how to find a niche to build, how to monetize and market whatever you are selling.

I just wanna share life with my readers.  I want to encourage and inspire.  I want my readers to leave feeling better than they did when they pulled up my site.  I want them to find the courage to go on, the determination to stick it out.  The comfort of knowing they are not alone, the peace of knowing someone else out here has been where they are.  I want the person with t1d to find a friend, someone to commiserate with and rejoice in whatever victories we accomplish as PWD’s.  (persons with diabetes)

diabetes and depression

I want the homeschooling mom to know she can do it and I know she can because I did it.  I want her to know that the great mistake she feels she’s made is not the end. That she and her children are far better off just because she tried to teach them at home, whether she continues or not.  And no matter what, as long as she is trying to do her very best for her kids, she is a winner!

homeschooling

I want that couple who is struggling with some sexual incompatibility or physical problem to know they are not alone.  I want them to realize it’s okay to talk about it and that there are people out here who can help, both professionals and people like me who have been there, done that.  I want that woman to know she’s not the first or only one to be facing what she is, and that she need not bury herself in depression and self-hatred or guilt because there is hope.  I want to keep her and her husband from living the hell that we did for 30 years and to find healing and hope!

lasting marriage statisticslasting marriage statistics

More than all this, I want people to know there is hope, no matter what the situation is, there is hope.  There is peace to be had, no matter how big the mess or how damaged their soul, Peace is there for the asking in the person of Jesus Christ.  I want them to know that it is because of Jesus that I am alive today.  That I’m able to share and talk about the issues, struggles and problems in my life.  Ultimately, I believe this is the reason God has been urging me to write.

jesus loves me

I haven’t touched my book in over 6 months, but perhaps soon I’ll dig back into it.  I still feel He is calling me to write it, but I’m at another crossroad about which direction to take with it.  (ANY feedback would be appreciated on this, folks!!)  The book has lived in my head for many years as a sort-of memoir, a story of my life and how I have dealt with diabetes, the depression and all the other physical and emotional side effects of having a chronic disease for so long.  However, as we have come to this place of healing in our marriage, I feel THAT is also a topic that needs to be shared.  It, of course, is much more personal, deeply painful but ultimately hopeful since our long journey through this has ended with our beginning the healing process.  My conundrum is should these be separate or combined?

how to write a book

You probably didn’t know this, but I have a problem with compartmentalizing.  ha ha! Meaning, I can’t do it.  You may have noticed I began this post talking about the blog and now, here I am asking for input and suggestions for a direction of a book!  I need help with my wandering mind, my rambling style of writing.

I know there are some writers out there who read here occasionally.  I also know there are lots of readers who come here too.  I want to hear from you!    What appeals to you in a book?  What topics are you most interested in?  What are you most interested in learning more about?  Help me out!

I look forward to a great discussion and some awesome feedback and suggestions!  Let’s help each other!

Blessings,

G~


mind. blown.


First, Tommy came home Saturday night excited that a friend of his, the man’s family at least, were going to go to church with us!  I don’t really know any of them other than to wave, but knew there was a lot of addiction and just ‘life-struggle’ in the family.  They really need Jesus!  So we’ve just always tried to be lights, just living for Jesus in front of them, ya know?

It’s sad when people get so beaten down by life, the disappointments, the abandonment, the betrayal of it that they become hardened to the idea that love exists anywhere anymore.

living for jesus
Especially when you present some “ancient guy” Who’s supposed to love everybody the same and besides that…“didn’t he die already?”  sigh

So yeah, by the time we were getting ready for bed though, the mom texted Tommy through his friend’s number saying that she was “just going to take everyone to my church”, but thanks for the invitation.  I could tell it upset Tommy. He said that the reason they had come out (as Tommy was in his truck getting ready to leave — he had taken some auto stuff over there for the guy to paint) to ask about church was that the young teen boy, the mom’s son, I think, “has questions and wants to go to church.”  The son was just there for spring break, he normally lives with his dad.  I have no clue what sort of relationship there is other than that.

We knew they had never gone to church in all the years we’ve known them so I’m not sure what church she was calling ‘hers’, but then again, Tommy said they were both (the mom & dad) pretty buzzed by the time he left.  He said they’d started on the beers soon as he got there and, the best he knew, that was the regular evening routine.  I don’t know, but anyway, he figured that was part of the text and still said he would come pick them up, that they should go see what it was like at our church and we were sure they’d really like it.

There was no response after that.

We got up earlier than usual the next morning because Tommy had decided we’d go over there anyway and maybe if, by chance, they were up getting ready, they’d just go with us or if not, we could get them to go.

We were ready to get in the truck when he realized that he had forgotten to put Samson up.  Samson, (look in my photos down there to the left) is our big, cuddly, laid-back chocolate lab.  We’ve had him since he was just a few weeks old.  We learned pretty early on that he has no sense of direction after him following another dog off a couple different times and us getting a call that he was 4-5 miles away somewhere.  Bless his little heart.

So we have always kept him on an underground fence.  He’s been on it so long now that he knows exactly where the boundaries are and he will not cross.  I mean, seriously!  I tried to get him to walk down to Corey’s with me a couple weeks ago.  I took his collar off, walked across and he just sat there, quivering.  I called and I begged, but he wouldn’t budge.  I even tried to sorta push him across but he would have none of it!

Samson has a dog house inside a chain link dog run and that’s where he goes at night.  By this time, it is habit and normally, if Tommy dawdles later that Sams thinks he should, or he’s just hungry, he’ll bark and let us know he’s ready to go to bed!  Ha ha.

Tommy had worked all day Saturday in the shop with both his dad and Casey and then after taking the stuff to be painted out there and talking to his friend awhile, it was later than usual for him to come in.  He’d stopped and picked up some supper for himself and sat in the recliner to eat.  I didn’t realize he hadn’t put Sam up so when he was soon snoring loudly, I just let him sleep and went on to bed.  He seems to sleep a little better sitting up like that and can be hard to wake up, so when he’s sleeping soundly like that, I just let him sleep there.

Back to Sunday morning, we came out to leave and Tommy realized he hadn’t taken care of Sam the night before.  We called, expecting him to come running, but no Sam.  I walked around to the front porch, even though it’s unusual for him to stay out there unless it’s sunny, but nope.  Not there either.

lost pets

We only have a smidge over an acre here, so it’s not like he had a lot of other places to go.  So Tommy went out into the shop, calling Sam as he opened the office door.  No Sam in there either.  While he did that, I walked around behind the shop, which is about the only other place he could have been out of our sight.  I feared I might find him sick or injured because that’s the only reason he wouldn’t come when called, but he wasn’t there either.

Now we were completely flummoxed!  What in the world…?  Now there was only one other conclusion, but it didn’t quite add up either:  Samson had been stolen!!  We checked to make sure the fence was working: yep, it wasn’t off or alerting due to a broken wire.  All this time, we’re making all this noise in the shop, but it’s getting later and we were determined to try to get at least the young boy to go to church with us, so we reluctantly left.

As we drove away, I began a plea for Facebook friends, most of whom are great animal lovers and told them about our missing Samson.  Many of them have met Sam and love him too, because you just can’t really help but love the big galloot.  He’s such a gentle, easy-going fella and of course, he’s gorgeous too.

Samson

Samson

So people began sharing my status like crazy and posting to lost pets groups and commenting with sympathy and encouragement and prayers.

When we got to the house of Tommy’s friend, his sister-in-law was standing on the porch.  Tommy got out and talked with her.  Apparently, the mom had talked herself out of going.  And no, she wasn’t up preparing to go that her church either.  She said no one else was up so they couldn’t go.  Tommy told her we’d be back at 10:30 and we’d all go to the 11:15 service, then.  She agreed and we left.  It was about 9:15 at the time.

We drove over toward our house, on the other side of town, and started down the roads where we’d found Sam the other two times.  Nothing.  No sign of him.  As we got closer to our house, a dear friend, Shell, called me to ask what area we lived in…she was going to drive around looking for him too.  I could have cried.  What a precious thing to do!!  I told her there was no need for her to get out when she informed me she was already leaving her house!  Bless her heart!  She wasn’t about to go back, so I told  her a couple places he could have gone and off she went.

Seriously, guys?  I have some amazingly awesome friends, don’t I?  Makes me feel SO humble and thankful!  God’s blessed me so good!

We were still driving, getting closer to our house and decided we should go turn off the fence so that if Sam did somehow wander back home, he could go in without getting shocked.  None of that even seemed feasible still, but what else could we do.  We pulled up to the shop, where the control box is and Tommy informed me he was gonna use the bathroom while he was in there.  I said fine and began checking on the Facebook activity, updating people and thanking them for the shares and concern…I was absorbed in my task so when Tommy showed up with this incredulous look on his face outside the driver’s window, I had no clue what was up.

He opened the door and said, “Look!” and pointed across the yard toward Sam’s pen…and lo and behold, there was his big chocolate butt trotting around the yard as if nothing was amiss.  SERIOUSLY!?!?  “WHERE WAS HE?!” I asked in pure shock.

“In the mower room, “ Tommy said with this monotone voice, completely disparaged.  My mouth fell open then.  Let me explain, our shop is about 30 x 60 feet with two tall garage bays, then a small office with a “people door”, when you come out of the office into the shop, immediately to your left is a staircase to our storage area, another small work bay in front of you and if you walk around and under the stairs, there’s a bathroom and at the very back, two more rooms, one of which has a small garage door where we park our lawn mower.  It’s RIGHT BESIDE the bathroom.

I was just floored.  Why on earth hadn’t he barked at all??  I mean, the boogar had not made a single sound in all the time when Tommy called him from INSIDE the shop (it’ echo-y in there, people!) nor when he got a scoop of food out for him from the tote sitting right outside the mower room door…and he still hadn’t made a peep when Tommy came into the bathroom.  He just thought, even though the chance was slight that Sam would be in there, he’d just check to be sure… so when Sam jumped up and trotted over to him, tail a-waggin’, we were just baffled!

I had gotten out of the truck while Tommy was telling me all this and Sam came over just like normal.  I bent down to hug on and scold him.  I was in the process of calling Shell to tell her we’d found him.  It was a little hard to hear her well out in the wind, but she said something about “whoopin’ his butt” and next thing I knew, she had pulled in the driveway.

We laughed and talked a bit while she gave Sam another good scolding and hugs and then we all hurried off to church.

WHAT A MORNING!  I hurriedly got on Facebook to call off the search so people were commenting back and no one made too much fun of us for finding him in the stinkin’ shop.  HA HA HA!

This morning I posted this on Facebook:

  Here’s what Geannie learned this weekend:😀
1) always check all the rooms before pleading for FB help to find you dawg. 🐶💩
2) if you still can’t find him, ALWAYS plead on FB …those people rock!💪🏼👍🏼
3) Gentle persistence pays off when you are trying to engage people for Christ. 🙌🏼
4) A bunch of stuff about my brain that I didn’t know before (& am still chewing on! Thx, P Trev -> Trevor Barton
5) 2 months is probably too long to keep a kumquat in the fridge. 😖
(I made that last one up, but I betcha I’m right!) 😂

How funny!  I was so overwhelmed by the help and concern, especially from Shell.  She went above and beyond.  I just love my sweet friends!! (she’s an Emmaus friend, by the way…they totally rock!)

Okay, so back to the collecting of guests for church…

When we got back to Tommy’s friend’s house, no one was stirring that we could tell.  We were in the process of determining what we should do, go knock, go away…what? when someone opened the door and out came the sister-in-law with a car seat and behind her a cute little blonde-haired girl and the teenaged boy.  Praise God!

We had an amazing sermon!  This series is called What Lies Beneath and it’s about how if we aren’t emotionally healthy, we can’t really by spiritually healthy either.  Our lead pastor is super-blessed with the ability to apply Biblical truths to our lives today.  He went into this in-depth explanation of how our brains work… how the neurons created connections or paths each time we learn something new.
nerves-346928_1920

The more we do OR think about those things, the stronger the path becomes.  His point was that, just like how Paul says it in Romans 12:2…

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

We CAN change our lives, our thought patterns, our behaviors by changing how we think.  He phrased it “changing our minds” which, get this, is the definition of the word repent. (read down to ‘repentance’… if you look in newer dictionaries, it paints repentance as a feeling of sorrow or regret, but that’s not the original meaning!)   How amazing is it that all those centuries ago, Paul had it right.  He described the very process that our brains use to change how we live, how we act and how we think!

I was really blown away by how the Bible really does tell us that our regeneration, our renewal, our path to that ‘new self with the old self in the past’ after we’ve made Jesus the Lord of our lives really begins in our minds and WE must submit our minds to Christ!  It sounds so simple, but I really loved the way he explained how the brain works, how neutrons form paths and the more we concentrate on a task or thought or memory, the stronger that connection becomes.  So in the case of a bad thought pattern, the scripture 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 come into play:

 “4For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.”

THIS is how we change our lives!  By changing our minds.  Literally rewiring our minds by filling them with the Word of God and detemining to bend our will to His knowing that He loves us and wants only the best for us, no matter how it looks to our human eyes.  (that’s a whole ‘nother post about faith and trust, I believe. 🙂 )

I’m going to link the sermon series here because as of right now, they don’t have yesterday’s message uploaded, but when they do, you can get to that one here also.  Besides, you oughta listen the Week 1 anyhows.  🙂

What Lies Beneath – The Creek Church – Pastor Trevor Barton

Wow.  Such an energizing thought and I don’t know a soul who didn’t need that!  Don’t fall prey to your thought patterns, to a negative mindset, to naysaying friends who don’t encourage your faith.  Break free!  Start by locking up those unbeneficial thoughts and replacing them with the truth of God’s Word!!

Blessings

G~


answered prayer


Isn’t it amazing when God answers a prayer? Even when we know He can, we know He has, then when He blesses us with another provided need, another confirmation, another open door…wow. How blessed are we?!

This morning, He did that for me.Read More »


on the upswing?


Things have been going much better, at least depression-wise. I’m not sure why, I mean, physically I’m not doing anything really different…no new meds or vitamins. I’ve decided it’s justRead More »


the good old days


That might not be the best title for this post, but I have a lot on my mind and it has to do with trying to “get back” to the way things once were.

Of course, I know “you can’t go back home” and this isn’t about trying to reverse time either physically or emotionally. This is about rebuilding my spiritual self.

WARNING: it’s about to get real up in here…brutal honesty about myself forthcoming.

More than a decade ago, there was a time when I absolutely LOVED spending time reading my Bible. I would get up at least an hour before everyone else to read and pray and journal. I guess that was maybe the second time I ever read all the way through the Bible, beginning to end. But this time, I took notes. I had a couple of notebooks full of thoughts and scriptures and prayers. I don’t remember what spurred me into this wonderful period of just loving my time with the Lord, but it seems like so long ago and I don’t know how to recreate it again.

Something happened. Somewhere along the line, something just happened. I honestly don’t remember what it was. I don’t know if something happened emotionally that sent me into a tailspin or if it was that I got physically sick and fell out of the routine. I just realized one day that, hey, I used to spend a lot of time in The Word…what happened?

I wish I knew. I have been trying, half-heartedly, I admit, for the past couple of years to get back to that place where I loved spending time reading and learning about Jesus.

Our pastor just did an amazing series of classes, four weeks, on how to have a devotional time and how to pray. Seriously, it was awesome. I had such high hopes that it would kick me into action, but it hasn’t seemed to do that. Even though I learned SO much, it just didn’t seem to do whatever it is that I need to reawaken that desire for The Word.

I don’t know about you, but being saved at the tender age of eight in a small Baptist church in the seventies, I didn’t get a discipleship class. I had never even heard of such a thing until my kids were in their teens! Did they not exist back then? Are they something new that just came to be in the past couple decades? Maybe it was because I grew up in a Christian home? Or maybe our little church just didn’t offer them for some reason? I don’t recall any other people having a time of mentoring and “lessons” about how to be a Christian after they were saved. I often wonder now why that wasn’t just a routine. I mean, even when I was part of larger churches, there were no such ‘classes’ for new Christians.

That’s something my pastor spoke about in his prayer/devotional classes. He said he felt like he’d failed for not thinking to do something like these classes sooner. He spoke of a couple who had spent hours each Friday evening years ago with him and his wife, sharing with them the things he was teaching us. What a blessing that must have been!

Maybe that’s the issue with me right now? Maybe, since I’m in a place where, having been “a Christian”, in church, ‘serving the Lord’ for so many decades now, and I’ve honestly just grown cold, satisfied, complacent…maybe that’s why I’m finding it so hard to rekindle my fire? To regain my thirst for Jesus? Maybe if I had had some training or at least some guidelines when I was a brand new Christian, or even a few years later after I was a bit older, maybe then I would be better at this?

As it is, I feel like a failure. I have to MAKE myself sit down and read my Bible and I feel at a loss for anything to write in my journal and praying? I have never been very good at that.

I learned from my pastor some great tips for how to just pray from scripture though…and how to keep a separate prayer journal or list. How to read scripture, aloud, emphasizing a different word each time. Like this: Genesis 1:1 King James Version says, “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.”

And so, you would read this aloud, giving emphasis to a different word in the verse each time. Try it and see how it draws out the meanings and changes what the scripture says to you. (yes, it’s important to do it out loud…I know, it feels weird, but just try it.)

IN the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.
In THE beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.
In the BEGINNING, God created the heaven and the earth.
In the beginning, GOD created the heaven and the earth.
In the beginning, God CREATED the heaven and the earth.
In the beginning, God created THE heaven and the earth.
In the beginning, God created the HEAVEN and the earth.
In the beginning, God created the heaven AND the earth.
In the beginning, God created the heaven and THE earth.
In the beginning, God created the heaven and the EARTH.

I got so many things out of the classes that are honestly very helpful, but I just don’t seem to be latching onto them or finding any excitement.

He also taught us that doing these things has nothing to do with our feelings. That we should study and pray even when we don’t “feel like it”. So I am trying.

Right now, I have this cool little graphic that I’ve been using. 30 Day Thanksgiving Scripture Writing Plan

Isn’t it awesome? I had never seen or heard of anything like this before. And I’ve started using it, although I sometimes end up doing a couple days’ worth in a sitting, but so far, I’m keeping up with it. I figure if I can’t “feel” the excitement that I used to for God’s word, at least I can write it out each day until I do feel it again.

Is that a good plan? I don’t know. But if you search for “scripture writing plans“, you will find pages like this for each month. I plan to try and keep up with this.

my scripture journal

I just finished writing half of Psalm 136 where every single verse ends with the words “for his mercy endures forever.”

That’s good to know because I sure need it these days. Even if I was enthusiastically devouring scripture, I would still need His mercy every single day.

If you have suggestions or ideas for ways to reignite a hunger for studying God’s word and spending time in prayer, would you share it with me? Let me know if you’ve ever used a writing plan like this or if anything here helped you.

Maybe learning from you or hearing that you are progressing too will help me get back to “the good old days” when I had a deep thirst for God’s word!

I thank you in advance for sharing!

Deuteronomy 31:12“Gather the people together, men and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the Lord your God, and observe to do all the words of this law:”


love, life & how I don’t deserve either


That title though, right?

I know, I know. Super dramatic. I didn’t mean for it to be, but it’s true. None of us deserve anything good that we have.
stay married
As a Christian, I am grateful to God for everything I have. Even things like diabetes and achy, stiff joints, and headaches. Yeah, even those things.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV)
” give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

So okay, I give God all the credit for my life, such as it is. And if it is inferior in any way, that is my own doing. I long to be all that He has planned for me and I know I fail horribly every day.
embrace contentment
I’ve posted about the things going on in my marriage…the physical and emotional struggles that I have faced personally and that my husband and I have overcome together.
long-lasting-marriage
I have been reading lately about the things it takes to make a good marriage, to build a firm foundation for a new marriage, to sustain a strong, lasting marriage.
marriage
I like to think, and at this point in my life I believe, that we DO have a strong marriage. And at thirty years in, I think we can safely say it is a lasting one. I know, I know…longer marriages have ended in the past. But not ours.

After all those years of struggling to stay together, not because of a lack of love, but the inability to be physically close and now…now, we are finally learning how to be a ‘normal’ couple. A couple who isn’t avoiding physical intimacy. A couple who can actually share everything with each other. Now that we’re finally to that point, to realize that God preserved us to this point, I know that He didn’t put us together and preserve us though all this to let us fall apart now.
marriage box
It’s hard to talk to anyone about all this. Even though my therapist at the pelvic health office has been beyond amazing in helping us deal with the physical problems and almost being a ‘counselor’ to help us learn to talk about these things, it’s hard to not have others to talk with, to not really be able to tell anyone about this stuff.

I have spent so much time trying to cover up the fact that there was a problem in our marriage, to hide that there was a void where there should have been deep intimacy. Not joining in conversations and giggly, knowing glances with other wives talking (conservatively!) about loving and being in love with their husbands.

I didn’t understand the way they really desired to physically be with their spouses because for me, that was painful. The fact that it hurt made me want to avoid it at all costs, made me feel like a failure, guilty, damaged and worthless. If I tried to just “grit my teeth” and “bear it” for my husband’s sake, it made him feel bad. It made me feel like I was letting him down. (What husband wants to “make love” to a wife who’s crying and telling him to just hurry?)

Maybe you can see why I have spent most of my adult life in some stage of depression. Sometimes very deep, very dark depression. I wondered for probably those first eight years how long before he’d just leave me. How long before he got sick of it and wanted out? Once when I was desperate enough to actually say as much to him, he let me know he loved me and he didn’t want out of the marriage.
good marriage
I was pretty stunned, but grateful…and then even more depressed. I didn’t deserve him. Later, after nothing had improved and when I got desperate enough again, I told him to go find someone else. As long as no one knew, no…as long as our children never knew (because I just KNEW other people would eventually find out) that he should find someone who could fill that void for him. Someone who wouldn’t wince and cry with pain. Someone he could actually enjoy. But we would stay together for the boys and I wouldn’t begrudge him having another woman who wasn’t damaged like me.

Looking back now, I am SO SO SO thankful to God that he never took me up on that offer. Most any other man would have done it gladly I think. If he had sought physical companionship with someone else, there would have never been any healing between us. We could have never got to the place we are now, where we’re able to be a “regular” married couple, where I could be unafraid of physical contact with the man I love most in the world. This place where we are learning to heal from the last three decades of hurt, confusion, fear and depression.
marriage-on-Christ
God apparently had a plan. If we had “fixed it” our own way, how much we would have destroyed. Much the same way that Sarah and Abraham messed up God’s perfect plan (to make a nation of Abraham’s children…when he and Sarah had reached almost 100 years of age without bearing one single child) [See Genesis 18]

When Sarah chose to not believe God when He told them Sarah herself would give birth, she and Abraham decided to “help” God with Sarah’s idea to give one of her servants to him so she could “give them a child”.

Okay, now if you’re not familiar with Scripture, all this is sounding pretty far out to you. Just trust me that back in the first century, things were a little different. People had servants and polygamy was common. While Abraham just had the one wife, it was common to make concubines of servants. The prevalent reasoning was that large families with lots of sons were necessary to maintain farms and businesses and multiple wives were needed to bear all those children.

I know. Seriously, it sounds so barbaric, doesn’t it? So foreign! But even though it was NOT in God’s plan for men to take more than one wife, as usual, mankind does what it wants and God, in His mercy, works with that.

In this case, if you will read the story, you’ll find that Sarah’s “plan” was “a success”…at least by their standards, and the slave girl, Hagar, bore Abraham a son. However, God’s plan was NOT to create His nation from Hagar’s son, Ishmael, so in a few years, Sarah did indeed bare a son by Abraham. When you read the conflict that came from this tense, at-least-awkward situation and how it has ultimately affected the world, you’ll see that while God will mercifully work through the messes we make when we jack with His plans, He does not wipe out the consequences of the jacked plans.

Our world is today, several thousand years later, paying for the “plans” of Sarah and Abraham. Nevertheless, God remained true to His plan to make Abraham the “father” of His chosen people-nation.

So as I ramble through these thoughts, I am reminded that God doesn’t toss us out with the mess we make of His plan when we think we know better. He wipes off the dirt we wallowed in and sets us back on His path. He brings His plans to fruition, in spite of our meddling and gives us strength to cope with the aftereffects of what we’ve done.
bravest thing I ever did was continue to live when I wanted to die
I’m thankful to Him that my husband and I didn’t mess things up any worse than we did trying to wait for His conclusion in our marriage. We have a lot of healing to do because of our ways of “coping” all these years. How grateful I am that infidelity is not one of the things we have to deal with!

My parting thought for you is this…don’t give up. Don’t throw in the towel. If God can preserve a marriage like mine, He can save or rebuild yours. If you believe that He is the Almighty, do not discount His power in your marriage!

God’s got a plan. Try to stay out of His way!

Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”


taking on the taboo


I’ve had a couple of discussions about it in the past couple days. I saw several posts and vlogs about it lately. I know many people who suffer with, from and through it. Heaven knows I have dealt with it enough myself.

So let’s just discuss it. I feel like maybe I’m supposed to speak about it.

Maybe you’ve figured out by now I’m talking about depression. Sadly, even in the 21st century, it’s still a taboo subject. It’s still cause for shame or at least embarrassment in America.

depressed2

I’ve shared here and other places online about my own struggles with depression. I have had discussions publicly and via private message with people about it.

[DISCLAIMER: I’m not dispensing clinical advice to you or recommending you do a particular thing. I am just sharing MY experiences, MY “what works for me”, MY findings while researching the problem. You do what’s best for you, seek professional advice first and BE WELL!]

My motives are pretty simple and very straightforward. I think it’s important for people to be aware of depression…of the signs and symptoms, of the treatments, of the facts that there are many of us who suffer with it and how it would surprise you to find out how many of your friends, family and acquaintances are living with it right now.

First let’s look at what depression actually is and what it isn’t. What I have is referred to as “clinical depression” and it’s what many of the folks who have reached out to me also deal with.

    [NOTE: Please make use of the many links I have put in this post. (the first one is in the previous paragraph!) If you don’t live with depression yourself, at least be educated enough to understand and help those around you who are living with it. I guarantee you there are more than you’d think.]

Clinical depression is that “black cloud” that sticks with you. It’s a “sadness” that you can’t explain or shake. I find that the best way to explain it to those who don’t understand is that I KNOW without a doubt I have MUCH to be thankful for,
I K-N-O-W it. But I can’t make myself be happy. And it’s not that I’m overtly sad or anxious. It’s just an indescribable inertness, if you will. A complete lack of energy, or perhaps an inability, to feel joy.

Depression

If you read all through the link for clinical (or major) depression (and I urge you to!) then you’ll see it lists the symptoms and then states “when it’s not caused by a medical condition or medication” and that’s where I depart from the medical book, as I usually do. (ha) I DO have medical conditions that can cause those symptoms. I even have a chronic disease which makes me much more susceptible to being depressed. (diabetes, to name just one) so I don’t fit “neatly” into a particular diagnosis. Lots of us don’t and that’s okay as long as you have a medical professional who can deal with that.

There are currently several types of depression recognized by the medical community. Some of these you’ve probably heard of, like “clinical depression”, “major depression”, “postpartum depression”, even PMS has its own depression called “Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder”! That last link will take you to webmd.com’s list of these with links to more info on each of them. I’m not sure how valid some of these are, but perhaps medicine is just trying to give a name to the things we deal with all the time but never know what to call it. (for instance, on the list is “situational depression”…who on this earth hasn’t experienced that before? I’m not sure the emotions tied to various temporary events deserves a medical diagnosis, but that’s fodder for another post, right?–HA!)

Let me say that I don’t want to “push” depression and make it like so many things these days, cool or in any way desirable or something to be envied. That doesn’t make much sense I guess, but stick with me while I try to explain… Like so many things in our society, people try to put labels on various people and behaviors. Sometimes to make them ‘hip’ or whatever, sometimes to make them seem acceptable. (first thing that comes to mind is how ADD became a buzz-diagnosis so quickly and then, even though it can be a genuine problem for some people, it soon became the go-to excuse for not doing your work, not being dependable or responsible, etc., etc.) I don’t want to do that here. Depression is serious. It can be life-threatening at its worst, debilitating or at its very best, it can make living feel like a burden. So it’s not something to be trifled with in any way. I guess I just don’t want to come across as if I’m just tossing the word around and diminish the real significance of the disease.

Okay, so here, I want to share with you a video by a pastor I’ve met a time or two that I really admire. For one, he’s now an avid cyclist. (Seriously, the man’s a beast on a bike!) For two, he’s an honest-to-goodness Bible-believing man of God who isn’t afraid to speak truth. For three, he’s a loving husband and father and he also suffers from depression. I already like him, but after he posted this video on Facebook, I admired him even more. See for yourself as someone with a position of leadership and somewhat notoriety goes very public with how he struggled with and then overcame the monster that is depression: Pastor Greg Locke on Overcoming Depression

As you might guess, one of the reasons I so love this video is that he says cycling helped with his depression. Of course, not everyone can jump into this the way he did. Since I’ve been watching him for years now, I can tell you that he first got “into” bike riding when he went to the Goodwill and got a bike to ride in a charity ride. From there, apparently, he was hooked. He has since done a 3,000+ mile ride (IN TEN, that’s 10, one-zero, T-E-N DAYS!!) to the Pacific shore and also the Tour Divide, an unsupported mountain bike ride from Canada to Mexico! He’s a beast, I tell you!

I don’t foresee myself ever doing such amazing bike rides, and that’s okay. I have impressed myself enough with the longer rides I have been able to do. I’m just happy to be getting out and being active because before cycling, I was pretty much a couch potato. A long day of errands was about as much activity as this ol’ gal ever got! So, praise God that I have this activity to get me moving and inching toward better health!

Okay, back to the topic at hand. I hope you watched Greg’s video. Part of what was SO encouraging to me was the discovery that someone who seemed so alive, so interactive, so “with it” would have a problem with depression. It was like LIFE-GIVING to realize that he KNEW what it felt like, knew how it felt when someone says to you, “Just snap out of it. Just trust the Lord. Just read your Bible more.” When it was all you could do just to get out of bed in the morning, IF you even did that!

And I guess that’s the most important thing I want to do with this post. I want YOU to know that *I* KNOW. If you never meet another soul who understands depression, know this… you’ve stumbled across this minuscule spot on the web, this unknown web address to this post because God wanted you to know that you are not alone. Let’s face it, that’s the only way you’d have ended up here! Ha!

Maybe, if you happen to know me in real-life or you’ve read other posts here, maybe you never imagined that I have depression. Once you start being open about it, researching and talking to others, you will find that many of us who suffer from chronic clinical depression can be the funniest, goofiest, seemingly-up-beatest (Ha!) people you know. Here’s the thing.. it’s easy to fake it for a few hours. At least most of the time. So don’t assume that someone who’s always cracking jokes and smiling could never understand depression. Often, it’s a way to cope. That doesn’t mean we’re not genuinely funny or goofy, it’s just that that part of us isn’t the strongest during the dark-cloud times and so we relish our time of being able to laugh and make others laugh, because once that’s over, the cloud is back. At least that’s how depression is for me.

Y’know, you’d think that for those of us who cope that way, since it does feel so much better to be with a few people laughing it up we would seek that out, but in reality it finally becomes too hard. It gets to be too much effort to drag myself out to be with people, to even want to be with people. The devil and my own dark place will start to tell me no one really wants to be with me. They will just wonder what’s wrong with me…why am I so pale, why don’t I have any makeup on, why am I not talking as much, etc. Then there’s the whole monologue that goes, “You’d need to shower and fix your hair. You don’t have the energy for that. It’ll be too hard to smile enough or to ‘be your usual self’ and they’ll know something’s wrong. They will think you’re weird or sick or they’ll just wish you hadn’t come. What if it gets too hard to try and you burst out in tears. You can’t let them see you cry, and you’ll probably cry. No, just stay home. It’s easier that way.”

Only a few short months ago, that conversation played routinely in my head. I stopped going to the get-togethers with some of the most dear friends I have. I’m sure they knew something was up, but I couldn’t bring myself to just say, “Hey guys? I’m hurting. I’m in a bad spot. Nothing physical, no one in my family is terminal or has died, I just feel like crud and I can’t smile anymore. Pray for me. Tolerate me if I come around– encourage me to come around because it’s entirely too easy to convince myself not to!!”

I finally just had to come clean with them. Some of the reasons were deeply personal, so it was hard to even speak them out loud. Secrets in my marriage that were decades old, but they had contributed hugely to the massive black hole I was in and at that time, I had decided to confront and seek help for that and it had stirred up all kinds of ugly. It was HARD to tell my closest friends where I was and how bad I was hurting. They still probably don’t entirely understand, but at least they have an idea now and when I say that I’m feeling “dark” and need some prayer, they are on it. They don’t hesitate to check on me and encourage me, to ask questions which are not comfortable, not convenient to ask.

So I guess my next suggestion or bit of advice for you is this…get, find or make yourself some good friends. At least one. They don’t have to be people you talk to every day or even every week. It doesn’t have to be the person you do everything with (when you DO go do something)… It just needs to be someone you can count on to see through your hiding, your coping methods. Someone who will confront you when you have slipped into dark mode.
don't give up
One last thing, there’s something even more taboo than depression and that’s suicide and having suicidal thoughts during a deeply depressed cycle. I won’t lie to you. I have been there. I’ve said before, I’m thankful to have my faith in God because I truly believe that’s the only thing that kept me from attempting to end myself years ago when the idea came to me often.

I now know that a permanent solution to a temporary problem is never the answer. It took growing in my faith and becoming solidly convinced that I am worth something to God and even when I feel I’m not worth anything to anyone, not even myself, I have to trust that God’s got a purpose for me being here. A lot of the lies I tell myself are that my family would be better off, my husband could find someone without my problems, who he wouldn’t have to worry about or care for, take to countless doctors or wake from a dead sleep to feed through a low blood sugar, who wasn’t so self-doubting that I paralyze myself and need him to make the simplest decisions… I think my kids could live without wondering if their mother is crazy, without her words that come out so carelessly unintentionally causing pain to them and the ones they love. Even when those quite loud thoughts are going through my mind every single day repeatedly, I can remind myself that God has a purpose. I don’t have to know what it is because He does. I just have to trust Him.
suicide
That kinda takes the pressure off me. *ha* So if you don’t know Jesus, I urge you to learn about Him and trust Him with your life. He will keep you safe if you will just trust Him. He’s the best friend and ally against depression I can recommend to you. He may not choose to deliver you out of the dark hole, but He will be with you in it and make you strong enough to endure it.

Hebrews 13:5“…for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.””



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