Friday, August 29, 2014

#thisistheface

My last post was a turning point - a point wherein I had resigned myself to a truth I'd been unwilling to embrace for a long time.

I have depression.

Long-term, never going away, incurable albeit manageable, depression.

In April, I knew that I needed to get help.  Again.  So I re-enlisted in therapy and made an appointment to see my primary care physician.  I'm happy to say that I found my "forever med" in Wellbutrin and am finding my old, "normal" self a bit more every day.

And now I have a recovery story to tell that isn't so much like some huge, dramatic Lifetime movie as much as it is me screaming to the public and anyone with ears to hear in my little communities around me that I am the poster child to illustrates the potential for a depressed person who goes unchecked because, "she seems to handle so much so well."


It's been 5 months.  I am doing great as the light at the end of the tunnel grows bigger and brighter and nearer every day.  So why say something, why feel compelled to evangelize about depression now?  I mean, it's not like I've never broached the subject before, but why so passionate now?

Because three things.

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Because of Robin Williams.

Glennon's response to the news of his death said everything I thought and felt for days:
When we mentally ill find out that one of us was taken, we feel sad, yes – but mostly we feel afraid. Monday night I was going about my business and all was well-ish and then I read the news and suddenly fell still and silent with fear. I felt shamed- like the universe had caught me red-handed with too much peace in my grubby little hands. Like I was getting too free and healthy and big for my britches and so I needed to be put in my place.
In the wake of Robin Williams' death, hundreds of bloggers weighed in and people opined on social media.  Some posts were compassionate.  Others were not, simply spewing opinions and unsound (some downright false) "facts" to huge channels, often Christian audiences.

And the ignorance must be fought.

*********************************
Then, because Sunday at church, (we're talking about Hard Things - one of the many things I love about my church - and how to deal, particularly with Addiction) we broached the topic of prescription drug abuse, you know painkillers, sleeping pills, hard core anti-anxiety drugs, etc., when somehow, antidepressants and other psychotropic meds got lumped into the mix and I felt my face go hot.

Seth was in another room prepping for the worship he was about to lead.  So I was on my own with this.

The room began to close in on me as I felt the judgment, the impending, "If people just choose joy/pray hard to God/insert some other well intended but horribly wrong mental health prosperity gospel" platitudes that would cause the familiar and all-too-dangerous echo of doubt begin to play in my head.

Comment after comment came from the audience about how we are quick to just ask for a pill instead of working toward recovery the "hard way," that people just want to be numb and escape their issues.

All of which I agreed with, as pertains to the root of addictions.  That's when it hit me, and my shame turned to indignance.  I raised my hand and said, "Excuse me," with a tone that came out more harsh than earnest, "but I think we need to be very careful in our comments and comparisons here.  People who abuse prescription medicines to achieve an altered state of mind, or high, is one thing.  People who take medicines, as prescribed, to effectively manage a brain disorder that is a medical condition is quite different."

My point was conceded and acknowledged, but then the conversation turned back to more of the same.

I sat there for a few moments, as my love for the individuals in the audience warred with my desire to scream, much like Jesus did at the moneychangers, that they were all very, very wrong and Had No Damned Idea .

Instead I left the room and sought solace in a bathroom stall where I let some silent sobs free.  Some women, wise to my struggles and recent return to living medicated, came in and supported me with words of validation.

Upon leaving the bathroom, class was over and several other ladies I love came and talked with me, again offering support in the hallway.  Later that day, two older women told me they appreciated my comment in class, that it needed said.

But beloveds, as grateful as I am for those nuggets of affirmation, the hallway assents to truth in hushed voices, these truths need to be testified boldly, bravely, and from people who've experienced the darkness and its unrelenting pursuit for their souls to shake the scales regarding depression from the eyes of everyone in our churches.

And conversations need to be taking place.

*******************************************
Finally.

The third because is because yesterday I went to a funeral with my 6th grade son for one of the students at his school, who, at the tender age of just 13, intentionally, tragically gave his life up last Friday night.

It needs to be ok to be sad.  It needs to be ok to seek help.  It needs to be ok to ask someone if s/he needs help.  And it damned well needs to be ok to treat depression with meds if necessary.

We have to be kind.  And care for one another in word and in deeds.

And lives need to be saved.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Out of the darkness / And into the Son



Today was so full of symbolism, one might think I'd converted to Catholicism (not that there is anything wrong with Catholicism, folks, it's just that their faith practices seem so much more symbolic and mystical than the more literal Protestant takes on Christianity, in my very humble opinion).

As I laced up my shoes, hooked up the dog to the waist leash, and punched in the right sequences on my phone to start Pandora and MapMyRun, the emergent scents of spring - the willow's unfurling leaves, warming earth and greening grass - made it to my consciousness, whispering the hope of better days ahead.

It'd been cloudy all day - uncharacteristically overcast after such a gorgeous and clear spring day the day before.  But at about mile 2 of my totally spontaneous run*, I turned west toward the setting sun and realized, the clouds were all but gone as Kelly Clarkson's Breakaway triumphantly climaxed in my ears:
Out of the darkness and into the sun / But I won't forget the place I come from
* Totally tangential side-story: tonight I was supposed to go with my co-workers to this Nat'l Public Health Week networking event, and my husband and I finagled the schedule such that he got off work early and was able to pick up #3, drive #2 to LAX and pick #1 up from play practice in order to allow me this event.  It was nothing short of an act of Congress trying to get it all set-up, but alas! My co-workers all bailed for varying, and legit, reasons, so I found myself with some rare spare time, and took it to pound some pavement. 

So, I know you're dying to know, "What's with all the symbolism, Heather?  What does it MEAN?!?"  Or maybe not, since there is no "you" as readers anymore since I've blogged with the consistency of a hundred year drought in the past 4 years.

You see, it's been a hard week for me....for several weeks.

I've been fighting depression again, for who knows how long now.

Denial is a pretty powerful and destructive force to be reckoned with, because it got me good.   Again.

I can't put my finger on a particular trigger, or really say that I was cognizant of the symptoms picking up speed, I just know that I've been doing what I've always done, and soldiering on all by my lonesome.

The desire to sleep all the time?  Written off by the fact that it has remained just that, a desire.  I looked Depression in the eyes and said, "'Scuse me??  Do you not know who I am?  Moreover, what I am?  I am a Working Mom of Three, there is no rest for the weary, silly Depression!  What is this sleep thing of which you speak and who are you to dangle that in front of me when it's not even an option - stupid, that's who.  Yeah, Depression, you are Stupid."

As my daughter is prone to conclude when she's put forth a lacking argument, "So....yeah!"

I imagine Denial just chuckled knowingly and elbowed Depression in the ribs.  "We're a great team.  She ain't gonna know what hit her."

I guess I really started to see it in my concentration and focus.  My attention to detail was slipping, and it flustered me when I'd catch a mistake I'd made.  Stupid things like making scheduling mistakes in Outlook at work, or obvious (to me) edits that went uncaught.  I told myself perhaps I was just rusty, having been out of the working world for 5 years and it would take some time to get back in the swing of things.

I was ok.

I was on top of it.  Nothing to see here!

But then, the Thoughts came flooding in, mercilessly.

When I'd make one of those silly mistakes, my mental voice (not audible hallucinations, but you know that inner dialogue everyone has?  No?  Just me? Heh....) just wouldn't let up with the castigation; think the most brutal version of Mean Girls ever.  How could you be so stupid, I mean really, you're supposed to be smart, but Lord how you've dumbed down!  You'll never get it back, either.  Look at you, how you're trying so hard to rise above and "breakaway," but it's all for naught.  You're doomed to stay a white-trash nobody. 

And, it's not like I was so stupid and easily cowed over that I just believed everything I said in my head.  No, I raised my shield and tried to wield the Word of God and interchangeably channel Stuart Smalley.  Nope, I am a precious Lamb, a diamond in God's eye.  My worth isn't in things, or deeds, or intellect.  I am valuable because I am who I was created to be!  I'm smart enough, I'm good enough, and gosh darnit, people like me!

But the Thoughts are relentless.  They almost never stop.  And it is exhausting trying to counter them with truth ALL THE TIME.

This mental exhaustion is what gets me Every Time.  It is the chink in my mental health armor that invariably lets some barb in that will wound me in some fashion.  And then, boom!   In come more Thoughts when I'm down and before long the really Dark Thoughts come.

Most of the time I recognize the Dark Thoughts as the deceptive bullies they are, but sometimes they are so cruelly convincing that I wonder if ever there could come a time that I would lose my solidarity and fall prey to them.  Because even though I am a Working Mom of Three and I know those little people DESPERATELY NEED me more than I can really grasp, sometimes the Dark Thoughts try to persuade me into thinking that I really am messing them up more than I am growing them into beings who will ultimately become well-adjusted adults, that they could be happier if I just freed them from the craziness that I have become, and on and on with the tormenting thoughts that pull at my mama heartstrings.  It seems so cruel that Depression would use a woman's very desire to be a good mother for her children and pervert it this way to use against her.  But that's the nature of the beast.  And, because it is my own mind fighting against me, there are other good things unique to me that Depression pits against me, knowing they are tender spots.

Depression is darkness.  As is Shame, Depression's all-too-often present sidekick.

But that's where I break the mold.

As shameful as Depression would have me feel about the fact that I have a dysfunctional brain, that I can't just "get over it," I am an over-sharer at the core.  Which is embarrassing sometimes, but more often than not, has led to many powerful moments where the other person says, "Me too."  These Me Too Moments have saved my life more times than I can count in my 34 years.  So here I am.  Sharing, in the event that this may be a Me Too to someone who hasn't yet vocalized their struggle and happen across this page.

and because I am a Kelly Clarkson groupie, singing:
Everybody's got a dark side / Do you love me? /Can you love mine?
So, all of that to say, that tonight was the first night in a long time that I felt hope instead of despair, that I felt the promise of Spring and the assurances of my God that behold, He is making New Life!

So with that, I'm out of the closet (of depression, y'all!).  Navigating some options to take care of this, trying to put one foot in front of the other every day.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Behind the eight-ball...but it's all good!

So here I sit, almost 3 weeks since my last blog post - when I'd determined to write more frequently this year - and still yet to start the online bible study Made to Crave that started on the 19th.

But there's no self-flagellation this time, for I have two VERY GOOD REASONS for the silence.

1.) I've been more socially connected IRL (also a goal for the year as I spent a good portion of last year wanting to crawl into fetal position and hide from life).  I've been hanging out with girls from my MOPS group, seeing the bestie regularly, and all around investing more in lives of the folks I care about.

2.) I had a BIG INTERVIEW via phone on the 9th for a job I'd been praying about.  Followed by a face-to-face interview on the 13th.  I put a lot of prep time into these interviews as they were for a position I felt COULD BE THE ONE, you know, that forever job I would love and still be able to balance family with because it was only 3/4 time and amenable to school hours?  Yeah, that perfect storm was brewing, so I was miserly with my time and didn't get around to blogging.  The rest of that week was spent being busy so that I couldn't think about the wait...though I got an inkling that this would work out Thursday when my mentor/former boss texted that she'd been contacted for a reference and proceeded to rave about my abilities to them; this happened again in an e-mail Friday night from a fellow long-time non-profiter.  Sidenote: I have an amazing village of women in my life - locally and in my computer - and I am so blessed for each and every one of you!

Monday was MLK Jr. Day, and thus, another long wait that about drove me crazy (or maybe that was just having all three kids at home with little planned to do).  Tuesday morning, I got the kids all back to school, save for the girl child as her school had a special IB planning day much to the chagrin and "No fair"s of her brothers, and tried (unsuccessfully) not to will my phone into action.

At 9:48 am, my phone buzzed alive and caller ID showed the organization's number.  This was it.  The yes or no call.

I quickly told Kelsey to quiet the TV, this was about The Job, took a deep breath before answering, and kind of held it as the hiring supervisor introduced herself and did the whole "The reason why I'm calling is" preamble.  Then when she finally go the the part where she said, "And, I'd like to offer you the position," I breathed at last and this burden of the past 11 months' joblessness just fell off my shoulders while my soul simultaneously screamed silent gratitude to God.

I went in for my first day Thursday.  Yeah, consider that.  This time last week I didn't even know if I'd have a job, and now I've already got two days under my belt.  That is mind-boggling to me, still.  So the rest of Tuesday was filled with lots of squeeing on Facebook and also arranging morning care for the littlest guy (since he's only in pre-school in the afternoons), filling out transportation requests for him, and getting info to the school about the two ladies who are going to help watch him in the mornings so that they are authorized adults. Then I had to catch up all the housework so that everything was functioning come Thursday morning. It was insane how quickly Tuesday and Wednesday went by.

And the job - wow.  I just couldn't be happier or more blessed.

Despite only working 30 hours/wk, the organization considers that full-time for benefits purposes, so my portion of the premiums for medical, dental and vision are FULLY COVERED, and the family rate is affordable enough that we will all subscribe to my plan.  Also?  It is effective immediately.  No 90 day waiting period as is customary with many local employers.  Thus, we are happy to report that the rush to make sure we are in compliance with the Affordable Care Act mandate for coverage is over.

My schedule is 8:30-3:00 M-F which means I get home before my kids are done with school, so except for Christopher, not much is changing for the kids' time with me.

But the most amazing, makes-me-feel-so-grateful-and-see-God's-hand part in it?  Is the organizational culture.  It is CLEAR from a policy standpoint as well as the staff interactions that this is a place that values their employees and makes them aware of that at every turn.  The result is so much positive energy that I can't help smiling all day long.  I really have enjoyed getting to know my supervisor's personality and style, and am happy to report that we "click" very well.  On Friday, she and her boss, the medical director of the organization, met with me to go over more of the job duties and functions and they stressed to me how open and willing they are to send me to trainings that will help me grow and develop deeper skills helpful to my position.  I left the meeting feeling nurtured and ready to thrive.

2014 is off to a great new start!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

"You and I, we're like diamonds in the sky.."

Credit: DIKMA
So...

Turns out, I have a pretty amazing husband.



This is not news to me, per se, I mean, eighteen years {fifteen of them married - we are getting O L D} with a person go by and you kinda should know what you got, amiright?

But this past week, I'm seeing him with renewed appreciation.  He shines brighter than ever.

He works a physically taxing job, despite a significant level of chronic pain, 10 hours a day, 5-6 days/wk. And then spends his Saturday doing the same job in a neighbor's garage to "help them out."  The man lives out Colossians 3:23 daily, doubly inspiring and blessing me as a result.

He is an active and engaged father - and his love speaks to our kids in ways mine can't.  He's the dad that is out playing with all the kids at church/school functions while the other parents socialize.  Currently, he's teaching a Wednesday night boys' class at our church, grades K-6 {what a spread!} and more boys are writing God's word on their hearts than I've seen in awhile.

He's a grade A smart mouth - which means he's quick, maddeningly so at times - and he entertains us all with his quips.  He's especially good at musical parody and can lighten a room's mood up almost instantaneously.

Even though gifts are not my love language, he still spoiled me above and beyond what I'd spent on him at Christmas with gifts that were thoughtful and just want I wanted/needed.  This was especially touching because I hadn't really communicated any ideas to him on account of I didn't really care what he got me because it is our time together, his praise and affections that mean the most to me.  He just knows me that well.

I love that his embrace totally envelopes me and his shoulders so readily absorb my tears when my demons try to breach their containment.  That over time, he's learned not to talk and explain away my feelings, but to hold me tight and soothe my pains as he patiently rides the wave of the moment with me.  That he's come to know my feelings are a whole process, and given time, I'll get over them.  And that his physical nearness and touch make me feel more secure in a world that's unpredictable and unfair.  Or when all is good and well, too ;)

But what really spoke to me, even though I hadn't specifically said I was low, is that he's astute enough to read between the lines -and then- act upon that intel.  I'm a words of affirmation girl, through and through, and the more people who hear/read them, the better I feel.  Typing that makes me feel incredibly shallow, like I'm a fisher of compliments, but it's more like the Proverb says:
Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the mind and healing to the body 


^^^ That?  Is Serious Romance in the 21st century for the words of affirmation types, y'all.

Babe, you make me feel better, but moreover, you make me want to be better.  Here's to another wild and crazy year.  I love you.  You shine so much, but we shine brighter together, you and me.
When you hold me, I’m alive / We’re like diamonds in the sky**
** Yes, I know the song is about drugs.  But I'm claiming interpretive license here. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

His Grace Reaches Me...Through My Facebook?

Photo Credit

2013 was a weird really hard year for me.

I went back to work, only to have it not work out, and, along with the mess of financial troubles that followed, that experience shook me.

Hard.

Old patterns of maladaptive coping ensued.  

Heaping portions of food after a week or more of "being good," would sabotage any streaks of effort I made.

Exercise slowed way down to nearly non-existent, on account of eleventy-one different, and mostly weak at that, excuses.

I felt defeated in many different areas of my life, what was one more if I gave in to the age-old weight battle as the cherry on top?

That would, after all, show how weak and imperfect and faithless I felt and prove that I was, indeed, actually hopeless, right?

And where was Jesus in all of that?  Oh, I'm sure He was right there with me, yearning to get through this wall I'd started putting up between us, brick by brick, as He's a man of His Word.  

But me?  I lose sight of that in all of my complicated feelings and struggles and I forget that I am not alone. That we've done this together before, and that each day is new in the morning, a clean slate no longer bearing yesterday's mess-ups.

We had no scale.  So I just assumed I'd "put on a few" and avoided the truth.

But last month when I had to weigh in for a doctor who was seeing me for bronchitis, and my weight began with a 2 (again) and was 30-35lbs heavier {and 3 sizes bigger, but we'll overlook that clue} than what I'd gotten down to in 2010, the shame began to burn.

I'm not embarrassed because I'm carrying a little extra weight that I can cast blame on a changing metabolism or seasonal indulgences.  No.  I have, bite by bite, gotten myself into quite an unhealthy state of being.  Again.  I let my foods replace my prayers as I stuffed down the hurts of the past year.  I did that, and it's distressing, because I've BTDT Got Not Just One T-shirt But 2 or 3 - I should know how to do this right by now, right?  Give it to God, make good choices and keep moving.  Easy peasy?  

Suuuuuuuuure.

Except there were homemade shortbread cookies sitting on my kitchen table when I was feeling really alienated from my family last week - and the whole half-dozen lot of them climbed into my belly to comfort me in a very short period of time, like a food-eating contest, pathetically short amount.  Except everywhere I turn, there is a bountiful spread calling my name, wanting to stuff down the hard stuff I don't want to deal with for me, ya know, because food is such a friend that way.

Enter Facebook - yet another addiction of mine - and how God just whispered to me, "You can do this, I got your back.  

One of my long-time Interwebs friends popped up in my newsfeed with this:

It's been weighing on me (:groan: couldn't resist) for two days and I know it's God's way of prodding me with His shepherding stick (cane?  I'm not down with the lingo) and saying, "Return to me.  Cast your cares on ME, not that ginormous brownie you've got there.  It's been too long."

So, I went and purchased the Kindle version of the book and subscribed to Lysa TerKeurst's Made to Crave Study set to start on the 19th.  I'm still on MyFitnessPal and MapMyRun but I'm really in need of people to keep me accountable.  

I make excuses.  True story, and lots of them.  

So I need you to call me out on them, but more than that I need to spend more time with God, and I need people to ask me whether I'm doing that.  Because I can't do this on my own.  I need Him.  And I need you.

Burdens, consider yourselves shared.  Good riddance.




Monday, July 15, 2013

On being wanted...{Lord, do I gots issues}

Disclaimer #1 - Mom, if you're reading this, this is no way a reflection of our current relationship {all good!} but is a brutiful-ly honest look inside my issues.

Disclaimer #2 - Despite my seemingly confident and capable exterior, I'm a rather raw ball of paradoxical emotions at any given time.  If you're reading this and you know me in the IRL, I probably don't want to talk further about what I'm about to write - unless you're cut from a similarly broken cloth and wish to say, "Hey, me too."  This is for the people who haven't opened up yet - to let them know they are not alone, as I feel an odd compulsion to bare my soul tonight.

Ok, now that the legalese is out of the way...

From my earliest sense of awareness, I always felt unwanted.

Maybe it had something to do with hearing the words "mistake" or "accident" when the question of my conception arose in conversation.  Maybe it had a lot of something to do with, at age 5, hearing the family lore of how my Real Dad left town, having stolen my 16 y/o mother's paper route money to get the hell out of Dodge, just a day after I was born.

Shortly after my mother's younger sister {then 11} dropped that bomb on me, my biological father returned to town and approached my mother about wanting to see me.  I can't recall if he was clean yet and my mom had doubts or if she knew for sure he was still drugging it up, but regardless, she told him no, and then tried her best to warn me that he wanted me, but couldn't have me because he had done some bad things that made it so he couldn't be with me, especially alone.  He might take me, kidnap me, and that would be very, very bad.  All I knew of him at that point was the 9th (?) grade yearbook picture of him, in which he was wearing hideous seventies fashion and had longer hair than I'd seen on any man I knew personally.

One night, I was playing at my grandmotherly next-door-neighbor's yard.  Her daughters were the same ages as my mother and aunt (which was unusual in that there is a 10 year split in age), but at this point in my life, I was only aware of her 12 y/o daughter, who would play with me on occasion.  The elder daughter and her husband were visiting, and being close friends of my mom's from the past, they knew me, but my six-year-old self did not recognize them.  When her husband said, "Hello, Heather" and began walking toward me talking about how big I'd gotten, all my terrified little brain could say was, "Unknown Man Knows Your Name And Is Gonna Kidnap You!  RUN!!! SCREAM!!!!!"  So I did, horrified at the prospect of being wanted enough to get stolen.  The nightmares began shortly after that, in which my yearbook-picture father would break into our house, freeze my family members into stone (like Medusa - yes, even at age six, I had a major interest in Greek mythology) and leave with me, kicking and screaming into the night, which is usually where I'd wake up.  I vividly remember having these nightmares repeatedly for at least a year.

So on the one hand, feeling unwanted was lonely and painful and yet, a feeling to which I grew accustomed; on the other hand, being wanted was a terrifying and sinister thing to avoid.

I know the sense of being unwanted was heightened as my siblings came along; I was not my stepfather's child, but they were.  Later, this sense rose to a climax for me when I was 12, and my mother had been gone one weekend with nary a word to anyone about where she was.  Upon her return, when I tearfully asked her why she would do such a thing, why she would have scared us so much, she told me I was the reason why.  That because I was born when she was still so young, she hadn't gotten to fully live and have fun, so she took the chance to do just that. She was still flying high and didn't mean it.  Or at the very least, she didn't mean to actually say it aloud, but her inhibitions were out the window.  And some things just can't be unsaid, particularly in a young girl's head.

Implicit in all of it was that I was a burden, that while I was unwanted, I was still there and dealing with my needs was an obligatory drag.  Exacerbating these feelings was the fact that all the family drama and dysfunction often left my parents unable to meet many of my emotional, and sometimes physical, needs; over time I arrived at two mantras to live by:
1. Nobody wants you
2. The only one who can take care of you is you
So I set out to make people want me by way of achievement.  For many years, the praise of my teachers was, in large part, what fed my need for love and acceptance.  I was strong and confident because I relied on myself to feel good and make things happen for myself.  {Later, a keen awareness of this pattern's unhealthy extension into my adult life, by way of my career path, was ultimately what lead me to quit working out of the home and work on just being with my God, husband, and children.}

While still a perfection-seeking, worth-is-determined-by-merit-thinking slave, I met my would-be husband, and through him, Christ.  Just like in my marriage, my walk with Christ is often {needlessly}complicated because of my brokenness and life-long patterns of distrust in others' ability to give me what I crave: acceptance and a sense of "I chose YOU."

I also run into trouble when I try to do everything myself.  It's not so much that I think God CAN'T do it, because uh, you know He can do the impossible {except that if I'm totally being one hundred percent truthful, that doubtful thought may have crossed my mind a time or two}, as much as it is I don't want to burden Him with my concerns and needs and risk Him looking at me with Reluctant Obligation as opposed to the Unconditional, NOTHING Can Separate You From The Love of Christ LOVE, {NOTHING!} He's shown me so freely over the years. I fear that He'll become one of the many who've let me down in life if I trust Him or bother Him too much.  Which is crazy, if you think about it.  He's Unending Love, Boundless Joy, and Abundant Life.  There is no obligation, no burden too heavy for God.  And over and over and over in Scripture we are told that He is nothing if He isn't faithful.

But there you have it - that is my default, maladaptive coping mechanism, to bottle up and soldier through with the insistence that I CAN SO DO THIS MYSELF BECAUSE I'M AFRAID YOU'LL LET ME DOWN IF I LET YOU  SEE THE CHINKS IN MY ARMOR.

So, when we started to struggle with finances this spring as a result of my job loss - I hit the job seeking hard.  I would get a job and help get us out of this hole, and it would soon be a distant memory.  One month passed.  Two..  Three..... Four, and well, we've been really struggling with What Does The Future Hold?  Especially as we got behind on our mortgage....again.  {After the medical bills from four years ago peaked simultaneous to the impact from recession, we entered foreclosure status a couple of years ago and worked very diligently for 18 months to finally secure a loan modification last fall.}

Last week, we were pushing 45 days late with the mortgage when Seth got paid.  On Tuesday his paycheck was $1,000 less than his previous paycheck before it had been, roughly $500 less than the average we try to budget for. We were devastated. A few essential bills (car insurance, student loan, phone, tool payment) and groceries came out and 2 days later, we had $29 in the acct, plus a bit of cash ($40ish) to get us through the next two weeks.

On Thursday, independent from any job application or pitch, I got a call from a former consulting client asking me if I'd work with them.  I was thrilled and my psyche got a much needed dose of "they want me!"  I also was convinced that this was God providing just what we needed at just the right time.  I praised Him and shared with our elders and ministers just how dire things had gotten, how God had heard us and asked them to join us in celebration at His provision.

Then I got a second call.

Turns out there'd been a slight change of plans sometime between the staff meeting where the organization decided to invite my help wherein one of the staffers had been instructed to call me and the actual making of the call, but it never got communicated.  The higher ups decided to go with a PR firm instead upon further thought but had not yet informed their staffer of the change.

And just like that, my case was proven.  See, God, see??!!??  You let this happen, You got my hopes all up and then?  NO GOOD!  Why should I trust You?  You're like all the rest.

And He was like, Wait. For. It.....You'll see.

Whatever.  So I sent another e-mail, saying, roughly, "Well, no dice.  Uh, Habakkuk 3:17-18?  I dunno what's going on, but please keep praying."

Friday, I got a call from one of the recipients of my e-mails saying, "I hope you don't mind, but I told our benevolence folks about your needs.  We can help you, we just need a number."

All this time, I've been trying to get us through on my power.  Refusing to Just. Ask. For. Help.

Not out of pride as much as thinking our needs were too much and how dare I ask for That Much?  Also, the Hardship Olympics show up in my head, you know, when you do that thing that's supposed to cheer you up, but it really just makes you feel guilty and worse, when you think of people who have it worse off than you and need the help that much more? Yeah. I do that.  A lot.

Anyway, today I talked with our church's benevolence ministry leader, and told him our number.  It was large, and humbling to admit the level of help we needed.

But God provides.  Abundantly.

The key is to Just Ask.  Ask without shame.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
 Lord, I hear You saying, "See, my child?  I can give you what you need, want to give great things to you, just ASK ME.  I love you, my dear, for I CHOSE you.  Knit you in your mother's womb, it was no accident - you are because I wanted you to be."

I hear you loud and clear, and feel your love and hope you know how much I love you back.  I know now this whole job fiasco happened so you could show me this.  You had a purpose, and I get it.  Thank you for being faithful, for placing my feet on solid ground, and helping me to work through my weaknesses - through which Your Power is made perfect.  And thank you for all of the sweet friends who've been walking with me and my family at this time.  I love them all so much too.

You're pretty amazing - ya know?  Bet you never heard that before! ;o)

Friday, May 3, 2013

Notes to myself...

So, last week I passed the 2 month mark of being involuntarily unemployed.  And it's not for lack of trying.  

I've had 4 interviews, with 3 different employers, and later received the round of rejection letters from every. last. one. of them.  

Ouch.

That stings.

And because we decided to keep Christopher in the daycare/preschool to 1.) keep his routine, 2.) keep his care, and 3.) make me available to take interviews, we are still paying a cost that was originally carried by my income.  Only now I don't have that income, so despite all our debt paying down and budgeting....we have more expenses on one income with daycare than we did without daycare but with a car payment. 

It's always something, it seems, that eats away at any semblance of our financial stability.

And then that instability adds to all my other insecurities {that I yell too much, do too little, put back the weight I lost, etc} and I have a big, fat, meanie of a voice in my head saying: YOU SUCK!  All the time.  

So, I'm trying to quiet that voice and replace it with a calmer, gentler soul that reminds me of the things that are True.

Remember:

Including other versions of yourself, both who you may have once been and/or who you wanted to be.


I struggle with everything but the top one. 

YES!!  This is soooooooo me.  Er...WAS soooooooo me.  I'm going to be here, I'm going to be  here....