Category Archives: Faith

Come and Drink

The last couple weeks have been…for the lack of a better term…weird.  Running has been on a hiatus.  I have not been planning when and where to run, but rather when and where to stretch and which stretch will make me magically all better.

None have.

Don’t get me wrong, I am improving.  I did do a little running this weekend and I have much hope that soon I will be back to pounding out the miles.

In this two weeks, I have spent a lot of time begging God to bring the strength back to my leg.  But I realized today, I haven’t spent much time, if any, asking Him to be my strength.  To be my source of satisfaction.

This weekend really highlighted this for me.  I have been fighting against a desperate blanket of depression.  Despising the fact that I could not fix it with my running and worried the lowered meds wouldn’t be feasible long-term.

Thankfully the Lord reminded me that much of that depression is coming because the Ibuprofen I have been taking for the leg reduces the effectiveness of my primary bipolar medication.

Yet, even today, among some amazing time with Christian friends I adore, there was an emptiness, a hollowness.  I know a great deal of that is my inability to live in the moment and it is my overwhelming fear that I will screw up every single friendship I have and that maybe I don’t even actually have any friends, but that is a separate topic.  Tonight, I realized where that emptiness really is coming from.  I am not allowing the Lord to be my portion, I am not allowing the Lord to satisfy my desires.  Just as I realized that this verse popped up, literally, on my phone.

 Revelation 22:17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.

I want the water of life.  I want to draw close to Jesus.  I want to trust Him as I often forget to do.  I want to allow Jesus to walk with me, not just keep Him from afar in a boat, there to send me a life preserver when I realize I am drowning.  I want to allow Jesus to heal some of those hurts that make interacting with others so scary.

I said to a friend recently, “I don’t think anyone knows how broken I am.”  And that’s true.  It’s the gift and the curse of high-functioning depression.  I do everything I am supposed, I look normal.  I laugh and joke.  Thing is, hiding how broken you are–includes hiding it from yourself and God.  And, somehow, that needs to change. I don’t know how to reveal to God how broken I am and let him step into those broken places, but for once, I am going to start with acknowledging I have kept Him out–and pray it does not get worse before it gets better.

In my mind’s eye, I am envisioning a lot of struggle, but there may be nothing visible.  Maybe the Lord will just open His arms and say I have been waiting your whole life for you to acknowledge the broken and that will be it.  I don’t know, what I do know is I want my hunger and thirst to point me to the Lord, to point me to him.

 

Runner Bucket List

I remember when I took up running–eeking out those first few steps on the Wii Fit.  They were hard.  And worth it.

It is still hard.  And still worth it.

When I ran those first steps, I never dreamed how important running would become to me.  I never dreamed how the Lord would use it to teach me about Himself.  How He would use it every day to remind me what a powerful, loving, constant God He is.

Last night, I put a few of my thoughts in a video.  It is not very flattering of me, but honestly, it is meant to be flattering toward God, not toward me.

 

Those thoughts, about the Lord and the gift He has given me goes through my mind at least once on every run.  Today,  I formed a few other thoughts that I would never have even thought to piece together when I was taking those first steps in running.  I started to think about Running Bucket Lists.

I started with a 5k.  Next, I did a 10k.  Followed by running across the Mackinac Bridge.  Next month I am going to do my first 10k in a long time to celebrate my Birthday, and then in June, I am so excited to be running a 10k on Mackinac Island.  I suspect the crowning jewel in my running adventures will be a half marathon in September.  Nestled in there is something I never considered doing, but now think every runner should do at least once–a marathon relay race.

Today I had the privilege to run the 4th leg out of 5 with a group of women.  It was extremely nerve-wracking leading up to the race to have other people depending on how well I did, but ultimately, it pushed me to train harder and then definitely run harder during my leg earlier this morning.

Turns out I ran so hard I popped a blood vessel in my eye, but it was worth it.

When God Changes a Mind

All to the Glory of God–that is why I blog and share my story so openly.  I want others to know it is possible to live and parent well with mental illness.  This, by necessity, causes my posts to be brutally honest, and that is not always pretty.
I have always endeavored to live by the verse 2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Back in August hubby and I noticed my heart rate had gone down significantly, like the low 40s.  It continued to be so at a number of doctor appointments–and this was all before I started running again.

Then a few months ago, my breathing started to cause some issues every once in a while.  It got more than a little bothersome.  And a little concerning.  One of my care providers took notice and the tests started.  I had an EKG on the spot–which showed the low heart rate–and then a slew of bloodwork.  This was followed up with another doctor appointment, another EKG showing a low heart rate, a heart ultrasound, a 24 heart monitor, another EKG, and a nuclear stress test.

In all of this, I had a lot of fear.  Not of what they would find, but that they would find nothing. I’ve had my share of opportunities to be a medical mystery and I was terrified that would happen again.  Really, really scared.  And scared of the shortness of breath.  My doctor had told me I could run if my breathing would tolerate it, but it ended up curtailed.  I ended up frustrated and scared.

All of the tests are now done.  I went today and got the results; it was a glowing report.  My heart is in great shape.  It recovered beautifully from everything done during the stress test.  The ultrasound showed the heart muscle is in great shape. Blood is flowing really well.

I had stressed my need to run at my first appointment with the cardiologist and did so again today.  He said it is absolutely safe for me to run.

Before the appointment, I had asked the few people who knew about the situation to pray for a solution to it, no matter what it was.  I was still so scared of getting no answers.  As I waited for the doctor to come in, I sat on the table begging and pleading with God for this doctor to know exactly what was going on.  I begged like crazy.  As I sat there pleading, I heard the Lord say, in my spirit, not out loud, “that may not be my plan, wait for it, trust me.”  I ignored what I heard.  It wasn’t what I wanted.  It wasn’t what made sense to me.  Plus, I was too worked up to hear that. And trust isn’t my strong suit.  Trust is too scary.  It takes too much out of my hands.  But I knew I heard it and it stuck there no matter how much I begged for my way.

As the doctor spoke, my brain whispered, “but you’re not getting any answers.  What happens now?”  But the bigger words were those of the doctor.  The words he was using to tell me how healthy I was–how strong my heart was.  I heard him tell me it was okay to run.  He told me my low heart rate was no issue, how it would probably get even lower as I train for my half marathon next year.

And I was okay.  Where there had been fear at not having an answer, there was now joy and even excitement and a knowledge that in a moment the Lord had reached down and changed my heart.  He had stepped in where I thought I knew best and put his best.  And it was amazing.  How many people get the opportunity handed to them as they are training for a half marathon to find out their heart is in great condition and can stand the work set before it?  What a gift I was given over the last six weeks.

Yes, there are still questions.  And I plan on following up with my doctor to get my lungs checked out, but for now, I have been given an early Christmas present and I am going to receive it with open arms.

Psalm 29:11

The Lord gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.

 

Enjoy What You’re Doing

Ten or so years ago, hubby and I rang a bell at a Salvation Army Kettle.  It is a chilly project, but low stress and high fun.  That experience was before kids.  I decided a couple weeks ago it was time to do it again–as a family of five!!

So, this afternoon we bundled up (glad it wasn’t as cold today as it was earlier this week) and headed out to the Post Office.

We sang, we danced, we said Merry Christmas and thank you!

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We had lots of comments from people saying we looked like we were having fun.  One guy, motioned over to hubby as he danced to Dominick the Donkey, and said, “you gotta enjoy what you are doing!”

And we did.

We were out there 2 hours and 20 minutes.  There were no bell ringers when we got there, so we just started our shift a little early.  People responded well.  Our bucket was completely full when we returned it to the Salvation Army Citadel this afternoon.

Our toes were cold, but our hearts were full from being able to do our part to help.

I Wept

Facebook was a disaster of differing views for weeks, months, leading up to the Presidential Election.  So many declared they couldn’t wait for it to be over so Facebook could go back to normal.  I agreed, but secretly knew, it wouldn’t be that quick or simple.  And it’s not.  My Facebook feed is filled with so much anger and fear.  It is filled with people demanding to know how others voted or they might unfriend them.  It is filled with rage.

Yesterday, I sat down and connected with a friend.  And I wept for her fear, for her children’s fear, for my confusion.  I wept for us.

I told my children that our job, more than ever, is to look out for our friends and loved ones who others might not accept as equals…to reach out to help our friends who are black or brown, who are disabled, who believe differently than we do.  To love them more fiercely than we ever have before.  Love them sacrificially.  Love them when it’s easy.  Love them even more when it is hard to do so.

We need to love each other with the love of Christ.  We need to be the hands and feet of Jesus, helping those we see in need.

I don’t have all the answers, I don’t have any really.  I have no idea how that love will look most of the time, but I know it is a good place to start again, again, and again.

 

It’s Complicated

I know I have written this before, but it is a constantly evolving idea and concept for me.  I am guessing I am not alone.

Depression and Faith.  It’s complicated.

Depression.  I can’t pray it away.  I can’t read my Bible enough to get it to go away.  I can’t go to church enough to will it away.

Trust me.  I’ve tried.

The hardest part isn’t any of those things.

I understand that, for me, depression requires medication, exercise, social support, and many manners of self-care.

That still isn’t the hardest part.

The hardest part is the cloud that falls over my faith.  There is a darkness in an area I would expect to find hope and light.  Suddenly, where prayer normally brings such joy and encouragement it, it now brings frustration and a hollow feeling.  My faith now feels suffocating and false.  I know what I believe, and I still believe it, but there is no comfort left there.

I am left mourning two things–the darkness of the depression and the darkness over my faith.

I continue on, seeking hope and healing through the things that help in the natural world, and the things I know to be true in the heavenly world.

It’s all there.  I embrace it all, but it’s complicated.

Let Me Pray

I love to pray.  I do.  I love to pray for others.  Especially when I can’t do anything else for someone, I can pray.  Here is an amazing song that has always inspired me when it comes to praying.

Please leave requests I can lift up in the comments.

He is Risen Indeed

Those who have been reading for awhile know the bipolar has really wrecked havoc over the last 4.5 years.  Many days it took all joy, all enjoyment; it left only nerves, depression, overwhelming frustration and anger.  None of these are a good combination for enjoying a holiday.

But recently, the holidays have been improving.  Christmas was better than I had had in years.  I enjoyed watching the girls open their presents.  I enjoyed the day–in the midst of a very dark depression.

I know it was only through the grace of God that I enjoyed Christmas.

Then Easter came.  I enjoyed getting the bags put together and actually did the eggs.  It was fun watching the girls find them today.

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I enjoyed the hunt even amongst a mess of emotions and thoughts.  And for that I am thankful.

A Bunch of Boxes and Bags of Paper

Two pairs of socks.  Long underwear.  Heavy pants.  Gloves.  I bundled up this morning.  For 40 minutes of work.

Several months ago, I found out about the Michigan Abolitionist Project through a Facebook page.  I went to a local group meeting and was destroyed.

The staggering numbers of girls and boys of all ages sold into slavery through sex trafficking is staggering.  And it is sad to find out  it is here.  Not just far away, but in the wealthy suburbs of Detroit.  And in your neighborhood.  I guarantee it.  No matter where you live.

It’s a dark sinister world.  One Satan loves to play in.  He has his way with peoples minds, bodies and hearts.  He seeks whom he can destroy.  It was honestly hard to breathe as I learned about the pervasiveness of this evil.

It is such a big problem.  What can a homeschooling housewife of three kids do about this?  I can educate my girls on what to look for when they are old enough to date.  I can keep an eye on the choices they make and pray the Lord protect them at every turn.

And I can get involved.  Now.  Here.  Where I live.

That’s where Saturday mornings come in.  There is an organization BRANCH: A New Beginning Ministries that collects cardboard and paper recyclables in our area and then takes to a local recycling center twice a week.  The money is being used to build a home for women who are rescued from the sex trade.

It adds up.  It fills a trailer.  Twice a week.

It needs to be emptied.  Twice a week.

Cardboard and paper gets pushed out of the trailer, four of us squat, stand, and throw.

We find new muscles.

Not for ourselves.

For others.

For those who think they are unloved, unlovable, or unworthy.

 

Please see the above websites to see how you might be involved in this local effort.  Or, look for an abolitionist project in your own area.  These men, women, children are worth it.  Now and every day.

Has the Lord called you to be an intercessor?  There are many organizations the world over needing support through prayer.  Check out Samaritan’s Purses crisis response.  

Joy Here and Now

As many of you know, I have walked a very empty, lonely road in my spiritual life since encountering postpartum depression and anxiety and ultimately Bipolar Disorder.  It has  been hard.  It has been lonely.  I has been dark.  I will readily admit, there were times I only continued in my Christian walk because it was what I knew from 25+ years of faith and because it was what was expected of me.

I walked where I did not see.  I continued when I could not hear.  I went where I did not know.

Slowly the Lord began tapping on my heart as I learned about modern day slavery–the sex trade.  Along with this, and only knowing to pray, I continued to read my Bible, go to church and seek.

Never expecting any change.

That’s the beauty of it.  I had no plans, no designs–only God did.

He lead me patiently and calmly through the dark and last week He brought me into new fellowship with Him.  There is such joy in reading my Bible, desire to pray, really, dig down and seek the Lord for others, every Bible verse I read seems new.  The biographies and other Christian books I am reading seem to be written just for me, in just this moment.  It is with this feeling I bring you this passage from The Call to Be A Disciple by George Verwer.

Modern Society is not kind to those who seek to serve with practical love and in purity of body and mind.  It is a fallacy to suppose that Christian are immune to emotional and mental breakdown”  mental illness affects one person in ten in Britian at some point during their lives.  But it is also quite wrong to think that if you do suffer a nervous breakdown…you are only fit for the rubbish heap.

There is more, so much more, but let me tell you my very simple takeaway from this…I can be broken in mind, and body at times, and still be of service of the Lord.  In truth, that may be exactly where He wants to use me.  As a sub-culture, Christians tend to set aside mental illness as something we grapple with.  Attempts are often made to try and pretend we do not walk the road of mental health issues–that we, unlike others, can be unscathed.  This is simply not true.

I am here. I have been broken by mental health issues.  I am getting a break from the storm in my mind right now, but I do not write to proclaim I will never go back there.  History shows, I may very well be back there this very evening,  but I may not, and in either place I can be used.

I am a rare breed.  I am a very outspoken woman when it comes to the importance of my Christian faith and the fact that I live daily with mental illness.  I don’t shy away from either of these facets of my life, rather I embrace the, I declare them.  I want you, and all to know, you can parent well with mental illness and you can be a valuable disciple of the Lord with mental illness.

I am here to say both is true, today, tomorrow and always.2015-01-30 08.07.20