Monday, August 18, 2014

Thank You

"And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful."  Colossians 3:15

All weekend I kept thinking, I really need to say thank you. 

There are so many wonderful people in my life, friends and family who love me so much.  It will be difficult to properly acknowledge every blessing.  But, I will try.

And this is just for this weekend!

First of all, I want to thank all of my praying readers.  Thank you for sharing comments and links, encouragement and your own experiences. Ever since my last post went "viral"  ( defined by exceeding 100 page views.  Matt Walsh, I am not. )  I have had a great sense of peace.  I know there were, and still are, many people praying for me.  And I thank you all.  Never discount the power of prayer.  The tiniest old lady, bedridden by a stroke, unable to communicate to the world around her, could very well be the mightiest prayer warrior in the Kingdom .  Prayer really does change things!  

My husband has seen me at my kicking and screaming worst, and he still loves me!  Thank you, Rob. You have been there through the very best of times and the very worst of times.  Thank you for frying chicken and making ice cream when I refused to because the mess paralyzed me.  Thank you for cleaning the kitchen on the nights when I hid in the closet.  And thank you even more for teaching our boys how to clean the kitchen.  I absolutely do not have the nerves to teach that myself, right now.  It ranks up there with On The Job Bomb Defusing Training.  I'm just not brave enough.  You are my hero.

My mom is an amazing lady.  We've been through a lot together.  She has always been there for me.  Not easy, when she is the hub of a large family.  But I know I can count on her.  She has been there for the birth of each baby.  She let me move in when Rob had to go to New York for a summer.  She dropped everything and drove four hours to the Panhandle once, because I was homesick.  Thank you so much, mom.  I am continuously learning from you.  And now I know why you took such long showers when we were kids!

One of these days, Susan and I will be on top of the world at the same time.  Then, watch out world!  We will be unstoppable.  But until then, we sort of ride this see-saw together.  The one that is up encourages the one that is down.  Meeting with the Body of believers Wednesday night left me so encouraged.  Thursday body slammed me.  On Friday I felt like I had been hit by a truck.  I have these mysterious fevers.  It's different than being sick.  Tylenol doesn't really help.  The more depressed or the more advanced I am in PMS, the higher it usually is.  On the months when I am doing well, I don't have it at all.  On Friday it was consistently at 100.  Susan came over and literally put me to bed.  She pried the shoes off my feet.  (I wear bright fuschia tennis shoes, all day, every day, from dawn to dusk.  I don't take them off until I collapse)  She fixed lunch and guarded my bed room door.  She vacuumed and washed the dishes.  She put all the kids down for a nap.  Thank you so much, Susan.  Without that rest, there is no way I could have possibly made it through this weekend.

 Robert needed solitude in order to prepare for preaching, Sunday night.  I literally spent the entire weekend away from home with all the kids.  That could have been a disaster.  But, thanks to Amanda and Sherry, it was a blessing.

Operation Solitude began at 1900, Friday night.  Since I had spent most the day in bed, I was able to lace my trusty tennies securely to my feet and carry on.  After a speedy dinner of Little Caesar's pizza, (thank you, Rob!) I loaded up the troops and headed to the local theater.  Cy had only three requests for his birthday, celebrated earlier in the week.  1. Steak  2. Rush Revere and The First Patriots on Audiobook and 3. To see Dinesh D'Souza's film, America.  He is my All-American!  I couldn't help but catch the kids excitement.  They were going to see a MOVIE!  In a THEATER!!!!  This is a rare treat indeed.  I was actually smiling by the time we marched up to the ticket counter.  

"We would like to see America," as I adjusted the baby on my hip.  The lady looked up, startled.  "You do know that this is a documentary?" in what can only be described as a cynical whine. 
"Oh yes, the kids are so excited to see this!" as I hastily searched for the little dears. 
They were playing hide and seek behind the singing Annie poster. 
"They are?  Okaaay . . ."

Well, Cynical Cynthia notwithstanding, I am pleased to report that we all had a marvelous time.  Cy declared that this was the best movie he had ever seen in the theater.  Better than the LEGO movie.  For real!  Everyone should see this movie.  And so, I want to thank our troops, border patrol, police and firefighters, freedom lovers all over our great land.  Thank you for serving us day in and day out.  Even when most of us aren't as grateful as we should be.  I am thankful for our Founding Fathers and our Founding Documents.  I am thankful for our Providential history.  The hand of God has brought us through many toils and dangers and snares.  And now, as the world is on the brink of madness and an evil that has not had it's equal for several generations, I hope and pray that God will bring a revival of Biblical proportions to our land. 

Saturday morning came way too early, but Operation Solitude was still in effect and the boys had violin lessons at 0900.  I would like to stop here and thank my wonderful father-in-law, Ron.  He is providing the boys with violin lessons.  They are loving it.  And I am loving watching this camaraderie and love of music spring up between the boys and their grandpa.  Ron has also insisted I use some of the music funds to do something for myself.  Something like hire cleaning help.  Bless you, Sugar Daddy!  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Sweet Miss Amanda met me before lessons to take Alvin and Elle and Ana off my hands.  Blessed relief!  I got to spend the morning with just my two oldest sons.  We made some special memories.  At this beginners class all the kids sat in a circle and introduced themselves.  Dee was very forthright, stating his name, age and favorite hobby of climbing trees.  Cy started off by saying he was the big brother to "five, no four, no it's three brothers, well, actually two brothers and two sisters.  And boy is it hard to keep track of them all!"  Bless your heart, little man.  When we went to the Philbrook Art Museum afterwards, he practically skipped across the parking lot, so relieved that he didn't have to hold anyone's hand.  Thank you, Cy for taking care of your family.  Only nine, but so dependable.  You bless me every day with your sweet spirit, love for the Lord and love for everyone around you.

After a while, Amanda called me to advise Ana, aka Stinker Bell, positively refused to eat from a bottle.  She bought a special bottle that promised to satisfy finicky breastfed babies.  She tried feeding her with a blanket over her head, all to none avail.  So, I headed towards Catoosa.  I was at a stoplight when my engine's temperature gage dinged.  My van was overheating.  Thankfully, I was right at a Utica Square, a trendy shopping center.  I pulled in front of a cute little sandwich shop and waited ten minutes for the engine to cool off.  I have put coolant in my engine many times, but I'm always terrified a little concerned that the whole thing might explode in my face.  So, I opened the hood and stood there, looking rather fragile and helpless.  Sure enough a kind man with his wife instantly materialized to offer assistance.  Thank you so much, random stranger.  And thank you to all you men out there who do the same.  Feminists might protest, but deep down, they really are grateful.

Back in the saddle, I arrive at Amanda's house and retrieve my little girl who missed me so much.  She snuggled her little head under my chin and wrapped her dimpled arms around my neck.  Thank you, Ana for making me feel needed.  Sure, it would be nice to be able to leave you with a friend every once in a while.  But, at least I know I'm not easily replaced.  We all need to be assured of that sometimes.

Amanda offered us lunch,
Which I gratefully accepted,
She started a movie.
Which I gratefully accepted,
She started the sequel,
Which I gratefully accepted.
She invited Robert to join us for supper,
Which he gratefully accepted.

Thank you, Amanda for serving us in such a practical way, all day long.  And even the next day she took Ana once again so that I could go to WalMart in between church services.  If I am tired today, I know she must be twice as tired.

I also must thank our Pastor's wife, Miss Sherry.  She single handedly kept the crime rate of Coweta from rising, yesterday.  If I had taken my other four hot, sticky, tired, overstimulated children into a crowded WalMart, full of Back To School Panicked Shoppers . . . Well, let's just say there is no way to know what sort of headlines were avoided in this morning's paper.  But beyond that, Sherry has been there for me, much like my mom, more like my sister, always my friend.  She has given far more than I could ever repay.  In twenty minutes, I will take my children back to her house while I go to the doctor to see what might be going on with me.  This is supposed to be the Pastor's Family Day.  Thank you, Sherry for your unconditional love and for teaching me how to minister to others by ministering tirelessly to me.

 While I'm at it, I would like to thank the others who have blessed me by loving and caring for my children.  This is just huge!  Such a ministry, you have no idea.  My sister, Joanna.  Miss Velma, Jeana, Amy and Lisa, Brenda and Linzi.  You gals are awesome!

I want to thank my Pastor, Brother J.C.  His love for Christ and His sheep is apparent every single day.

And there is yet my brothers, aunts and uncles, childhood friends, Facebook friends.  Thank you everyone for being a part of my life.  I love you all.

God is so good to place us in a network of friends and family.  Most amazing is the way my church has circled around me.  We can't do this alone.  If you do not have a home church to be committed to, please, pray about this.  Find a church that preaches the whole counsel of the Word of God and is strong in the love of Christ.  It is not enough to warm a pew.  We all need a place where we can love and be loved, serve and be served, feed and be fed.

"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the Gospel from the first day until now." Philippians 1:3-5

I will try to update when I have a better picture of what might be going on with my health and the steps I will take to remedy it.  Thank you again for your continued prayers.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Robin Williams, Charles Spurgeon and Me

I can't sleep.

Thoughts are tumbling through my head, one after another.  I have been aching to write. Something, anything!  But the words wouldn't come.  Then there were the headlines.  The blog posts.  The Facebook wars.  A kind and noble man was dead and we were all taken aback.  Scrambling to make sense of it.

It is frightening, really.  Michael Jackson's death took no one by surprise.  We saw that train wreck looming for years.  Stars often drink and drug themselves to death.  But Robin Williams seemed different.  I don't think anyone saw this coming. 

And it's scary. 

Could that happen to me?

I am not going to even try to give any answers.

I certainly am not going to condemn.

I just want to talk.

"The heart knoweth his own bitterness; and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy." Proverbs 14:10

I have been bouncing all over the emotional spectrum these past six months.  There is finally a discernable pattern to it.  It is definitely related to my hormonal cycles.  That doesn't make it any easier to handle. 

Last night I took several "depression quizzes".  Me and half of America.  I think everyone needs a little bit of validation, something tangible to tell us what we are experiencing is not without precedent.  That others before us have felt the same way. That there is a name for this.  A treatment, or cure, or some sort of protocol.

One of the results suggested I was highly bi-polar.  It's called PMS, honey . . .

Another said I was at risk for Seasonal Affectedness Disorder.  I sat outside in the sunlight today. 

What surprised me most was the tell-tale symptoms of PTSD are still showing up without me being cognizant of it.  I really thought I was over that.  Maybe I'm not, after all.

But internet quizzes are no substitute for a doctor's evaluation.  I had to click the disclaimer button stating such for every quiz I took.  The problem is, I'm afraid to talk to a doctor.  I don't trust anti-depressants.  I don't believe that it can all be explained away by a "chemical imbalance"  I have read enough to know that the chemical imbalance theory is just that, a theory.  I have also read enough to know that some people do become suicidal after taking Prozac.  That the pharmaceutical companies are dishonest.  That we are being poisoned everyday with toxic food, water and drugs and our home enviroment.  Sometimes, I think I read too much.  If you need any disillusioning reading material, I would highly recommend" Let Them Eat Prozac" and "The Emperor's New Drugs".

There is nothing new under the sun.  Depression of spirits is as old as sin.  What could be more depressing than living in a sin cursed world?  I can only think of one thing worse.  What if I had a taste of Paradise first and then had to deal with a murdered son, a murdering son fleeing for his life, thorns and sweat and blood and tears and hangnails, constipation and fig leaves for toilet paper.  Poor Adam and Eve!  They looked forward with earnest expectation to the advent of their Deliverer. 

And so do we. 

"But I would not have you to be ignorant brethren . . . that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope." 1Thessalonians 4:13  This verse, often quoted at funerals, is primarily speaking of the believer's hope in Christ for a resurrection.  But I think it can be applied to all of life.  Living hurts.  But we have hope.  We die daily so that the life we live is not our own, but Christ living in us, the hope of glory.  Galatians 2:20  Colossians 1:27

 It is not by coincidence that I am re-reading "Bright Days, Dark Nights:With Charles Spurgeon in Triumph Over Emotional Pain" by Elizabeth Skoglund.  Such an important and needful book.  You can get it on your Kindle or from Amazon.  So worth reading.  Most people know that Charles Spurgeon suffered great depression though out his entire life.  It was debilhitating.  But oh my, how God used him be able to come alongside and pull up those suffering with him.  Even today he offers such wisdom and encouragement.  Encouragement that comes only with the experience that resulted in patience and hope.  There's that word again.  "Whispering hope, how welcome thy voice, making the heart in it's sorrow rejoice."

Brother Spurgeon wrote: "Excess of joy or excitement must be paid for by subsequent depressions.  While the trial lasts, the strength is equal to the emergency; but when it is over, natural weakness claims the right to show itself "

Yep.

I read this on my phone.  It so moved me that not only did I highlight it, I wrote my own note next to it. "This explains why I became depressed after surviving Elle's birth.  All the previous periods of grief and upheaval, coming from repeated loss of unborn children, loss of jobs and security, loss of my dad, all came crashing down on me at once.  What had been survived, but never properly grieved, finally asserted itself.  I am still dealing with the fallout.  Even though Ana's birth was a tremendous deliverance, there was a tremendous let down afterwards."

Holy Carpal Tunnel, Batman!  I can't believe I texted that whole thing . . .  I really need to write more often.

So, in closing I guess what I really wanted to say is:
 Depression hurts.
 But there is hope.
 Digging out is not easy.
 But there is hope.
 More people suffer from it than you can imagine. 
But there is hope. 

That hope is Jesus Christ.

 He did not die to make us happy.
  He died to make us sons and heirs.
 He died to conform us to His image, a man of sorrows and well acquainted with grief.
 He has a purpose for putting me here in this place at this time.

 There is something He wants me to learn.

 Maybe it is that His grace is sufficient for me.

 Maybe it is so I will have experience in order to hold out hope to someone else.