Thursday, April 26, 2012

A letter from a Friend (Numbers 9:17-23)

For my friend, Alyson, the Oak of Righteousness, the Planting of the LORD.

Numbers 9:17-23
…They stayed int he camp, obedient to God's command, as long as the Cloud was over The Dwelling, but the moment that God issued orders they marched…Night or day it made no difference— when the Cloud lifted, they marched…They camped at God's command and they marched at God's command. They lived obediently by God's orders…

Heavenly Father, it was months ago that I bookmarked these verses, and I know that because of these past few weeks I see something new in them today. "The moment God issued orders they marched…Night or day it made no difference." Lord, there have been many dark days in these past few weeks. What stands out to me today is the hope that sustains and carries us through our darkest days. Night or day, You are issuing the orders. You are in it all. You can and will redeem it all, truly bringing beauty out of ashes.
I think that before when I heard or read that verse, I immediately focused on the redeemed garland of beauty without pausing and weighing the very real guarantee of bitter ashes in this life. Thank you for Your many promises that we are not alone, for Your many encouragements to not be afraid. I thank You for the gift that it was to hear my friend say, today, that she sees Your hand caring for, providing for, and making a way for her family in this time of trials. Father, for those who mourn today, for my precious friend today, I join with Isaiah in praying, "Give them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So that they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified" (Isaiah 61:3).
Father, for those who travel through dark valleys tonight, I pray that they would see You leading the way, because, "Even darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You." You know the way forward. We rejoice in this hope! Lord, give comfort in the truths that "You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thoughts from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down and are intimately acquainted with all my ways…You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid your hand upon me" (Psalm 139).
Lord, You alone know the journey that is laid out before each of us, and You alone know where along that path we find ourselves today. You alone know the length and the depth and the breadth of this trial and each of the trials to come. You alone are our strength, our life, our ever present help for each and every day. Thank You for leading the way. Thank You for traveling with us. Truly, You are our traveling mercies. You are!

Thank you for your words of truth to cling to in the mist of my Dark Valley,

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Where I am today...

I find myself with not many words.  But a lot of emotion.  Sadness, anger, fear, loneliness, shame all seeping... no, more like exploding out.  I had my first panic attack in years, it's like your whole body gets involved to try to violently expel all the emotions you have ever buried in your heart.  If you've never had one before you think that you literally are going to die; my heart was beating so hard and fast that it hurt.  Truly I felt I was going to die!! 

So here I am in a therapeutic group in the back of the room trying to stop this from happening.  I grabbed a clonazepam, a gulp, and started breathing (not that I wasn't before) count 3 in 4 out again and again, and again.  Then panic hits in so I find myself popping my hand in the air feeling like a school girl, shame flies in.  Next thing I know I have stopped the group...

So here I am in a day program called the Meir's Clinic, working on getting stable after having a a major back slide two weeks ago into a suicidal state.  But I know the story isn't over there is hope and in Christ I can stand. 

 Ephesians 6: 13-14a 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

In Christ alone- by my husband

It started on Easter Sunday. Everything seemed normal. Wake up well before the sun rises. An excited two year old looking forward to a new day. The 4 year old asking if the Easter bunny came. Perfect...except for the monster lurking inside of her. The past couple of days had not been smooth. The warnings were there. She told me a couple nights earlier that she felt like she was sinking again and just couldn't shake it. Then the day before she was in bed all day due to “diarrhea”.

We started the day, got out of bed and found the eggs that the Easter bunny hid. Drank coffee, let the kids get hyped up on candy. Then they asked for more. After being asked for the 20th time if they could have more candy it was time out for them. Showers, and the hustle of getting ready for church on Sunday morning. Only today was different. She looked great. A beautiful dress. It was red, actually if you asked her it was cranberry. Pearl earrings. Great legs. She looked as good as she had looked in a long time. There were so many things she had done in the past months to keep from the road she was going down. From careful medication usage, to daily vigorous exercise, and relationships with others, she was following the plan. Except she was still sinking.

Then it happened, another bout of diarrhea. And she was back in bed. Now all of a sudden it was just me and the kids for Easter services at church. I even suggested that we sit with easy access to the bathroom. It didn’t matter what I said, her decision was made.

That's the trouble with this blackness. It slowly creeps in, bit by bit sucking the life out of you. Until suddenly, one day, you are just a shell and ready to end it all. She told me that this wasn't the first time she thought about killing herself. In fact I recently learned in the first years of our marriage she sat on the edge of our 17 story building and almost jumped. She dangled her feet off. To even get there you have to climb a fence and walk across the rocks on the roof! The blackness inside of her said she was worthless. The only escape would be sleep or death...whichever was easier to attain. It doesn't matter what I said in these moments. In a relationship, a marriage, when you cant talk and hear and feel, there is nothing. No truth, no communication, no hope. I try to tell her about love. I try to talk about our dreams. I try to deal with the kids and let her rest. But it's never enough. That is perhaps the most difficult thing for me to deal with. No matter what I do I can't change those thoughts in her head.

Monday morning the dike broke. The flood of depression overwhelmed her and she said that if she didn't get help NOW then she might end her life.

But God...

But God did not allow this to be the end of the story. Nothing miraculous happened except she didn't do it. She did reach out. She fought for her life.

I don't know what God is doing in all this. Why does she suffer like this? There is no reason anymore. No reason for the despair, no “source” can be found. There are no more lingering hurts in the past yet to be dealt with. No current facades in life. She has opened her story to the world. No secrets anymore.

On Easter I sang a song called in “In Christ alone”. This is the last verse:

No guilt of life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
'til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand

In Christ alone I can be the husband Alyson needs. In Christ alone I can be the father my children need. In Christ alone I can be the man I need to be. In the power of Christ alone the story continues...

Written by Tyler Jefferson

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Little did I know that this would be my week.  I have felt that the world is over and praying that I can become a butterfly.  God is Sovereign and will take me on a journey for becoming something beautiful.  I have been blessed to have seen hundreds of butterflies this week; out my kitchen window, by my face riding my bike, in my garden, at the park...hundreds of reminders of the promises.  In all things I will try to give thanks.  It maybe a few weeks till I blog again, but I am expecting God to work in a mighty way.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Learning the spirit of thanks in all circumstances...

In Job 2: 10 Job replied to his wife who asked him to curse God; the God who allowed Satan to kill all his children and then inflicted him with sores.  To my surprise he could have cursed God,  Job said, "you (as in Job's wife) are talking like a foolish woman.  Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?"

Is that how you would reply?  I know that my spirit tends to get angry, not gracious like Job. After Job hears that everyone of his oxen, donkey, sheep, camels, servants, daughters and sons have been killed; "he got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship." (Job 1:20)  Do you hear that worship!!

My hearts desire is to learn to worship in thanksgiving in the worst of circumstances; in the deepest of my pits and on the sickest of my days.  Verse 1:21 Job says to the Lord in his grief, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart.  The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; many the name of the Lord be praised."  Job praised the Lord even when all his livestock, servants and offspring were taken.

I have a hard time when I have gastrintestinal problems for 4 days to praise his name.  If I have a hard day with the children I have a hard time praising his name.  If depression and it's symptoms come I have a hard time praising his name.  Let me be honest I tend to be a "glass half empty" person; thankfulness doesn't come naturally.  I have been challenged through reading One thousand gifts by Ann Voskamp to begin journaling 1000 things I am thankful for. 

#90 Supportive friends and family to help get through hard times #91 Diarrhea that took my mind of being depressed (sorry for the graphic thought). #92 Healthy family #93 Forgiveness and Grace from a loving husband #94 A risen savior that has conquered death

Here is to learning to be thankful in all circumstances. 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, "be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Flowers still bloom after the rain...

I feel like I shot myself in the foot by saying I've been healed. I would like to reclaim that it was a good season, and all of us know there are many different seasons.

 The spring season brings beautiful bluebonnets here in Texas, green grass, and tornadoes. The seasons tend to change fast here in my heart, soul, and psych.  Sometimes faster than the weather...but I've had better days these last two.

 After traveling last week I got out of my routine of exercise and medication.   I also have learned the importance of surrounding myself  frequently with people that live life imperfectly, openly, and don't want to do it alone.

 I love Sheila Walsh's post on Facebook today, "What if the wounds we beg God to heal, the burdens we plead with Him to remove, are the very things that make us fit for his service?" I know that I do have a choice even when the intense depressive feelings are there, and, eventually they will go away.  My choice is to either get bitter and quit or blog and reflect on the truth of God's word.

 In the book one thousand gifts I am again reminded that without God's word as my lens, the world warps. Things seem permanent, personal, and pervasive (we are back to the 3 P's) in every area or my life as negative.  So seasons come and go. Weeds one day flowers the next; I need a Savior and I need His word that keeps me in the truth.

 2 Samuel 22:2-3b "the Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in which I take refuge.". Even in the storms!!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Can I please lay in bed all day?

I have had a lot of terrible days recently where I would love to have stayed in bed all day. I feel like a tea pot that isn't just squealing but under pressure, about to explode like a bottle rocket.  No one wants that to happen; especially the family residing under my roof.  I look in the mirror and see that I look a little battle weary; dark circles, hair a mess, and adult acne on my face, oh and not to mention the emergence of wrinkles. 

Now there are a  lot of hard things going on even around me; a dear friends family death, marriages failing, limbs lost, homes ruined from tornadoes, alcohol addictions, rebelling children and people battling for their lives. So I know I don't battle alone, others are suffering way more than me.  I do know a few things that I would love to vent about my last two weeks.    

Hormones suck! I don't like it, and I feel crazy when they ramp up. It is on my chart (adding to increasing diagnoses) as PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric disorder). Already taking an SSRI, spirinolactone, clonazepam, multiple supplements, cortisol, thyroid medication...all of which help treat this, but after three good months, this is a bad one. Being so incapable of taking care of myself and my family sucks.

Its easy for others to tell me to "thank God for the good days, months, etc,'' but it doesn't feel fair to say; unless you also have had something disabling that inhibits your life. I hope that some of you reading this understand and find comfort that you aren't alone. For some reason God has some of us walk through darker; longer seasons in the valley of death than others, but if we are honest everyone has been there at some point even if has been just a moment.

Psalm 23:4 "Even though I walk through the Valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me."  Though it has been a week in the shadow of death...I will pray that God take my fear away.I also pray for those that struggle. Together we can walk knowing God is right beside us.  Knowing that this is just a bump on the journey toward health.

"In desolate times of depression-when we stumble into the pit, when rust covers our iron - we may not always feel His presence, but we have the sure promise of our faithful God that we are not alone. Our Loyal Friend is ever near." -Charles Swindoll. 

Thank you God that you are with me and I am not alone.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Raining inside and out

I am at the computer looking right out the window on to our deck; it is raining hard.  Well actually, we are under a tornado watch (to a born and raised Californian I am scared).  In the same way it is raining in my soul, pouring, a red alert for those around me.  Just like we should take cover from the storm, my poor family has had to take cover from me and random spouts of wrath. 

Strong feelings of anger feel like they are building inside, they tend to seep out as tears, or lashes of hurtful words to those closest around me.  I feel all alone and scared that this is the first step down an old familiar path.  I just thought of a poem that a counselor, Peggy DuTemple, back in Sonora, CA gave me.  I just found it online and it is exactly where I am at right now trying to find a new road, but I tend to return to the old one. 

Portia Nelson

 1) I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost...
I am hopeless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

this is how my deep hole feels...
 2) I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I'm in the same place.
But it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

 3) I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall's a habit
My eyes are open; I know where I am;
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

 4) I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

 5) I walk down another street.

wanting to fill my pothole with flowers
Maybe I am in chapter 3 again but wanting to stay stuck.  I want to see the pothole and walk around it.   It is hard to learn to walk down a different street.  I have seen the new street at times and walk down it sometimes and I get myself stuck again.  Some times I see something that reminds me of the pit, I get scared, and run back to familiar, the habit. 

I love this picture to the right; it is someones attempt to make flowers out of a pothole.  Maybe I need to fill mine in with some flowers so I can see it and stop falling in.  See it as bright and beautiful and force me to see the good in my life and hunt for that new road and stay on it.  It takes more that a few months to make permanent change.   Today I was convinced that I need to continue to find a more comprehensive support system that wants to build a deep community to help one another walk down a new street.