Category Archives: Faith

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!

2016-12-17 14.45.26 2016-12-17 13.15.19 2016-12-17 13.25.17 2016-12-17 13.25.26 2016-12-17 13.25.31 2016-12-17 13.35.04 2016-12-17 13.35.10 2016-12-17 13.39.46 2016-12-17 13.55.06 2016-12-17 14.01.10 2016-12-17 14.25.33 2016-12-17 14.35.02 2016-12-17 14.44.37

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.

2015-04-05 09.30.51 2015-04-05 09.18.01 2015-04-05 09.20.26 2015-04-05 09.21.12 2015-04-05 09.22.03 2015-04-05 09.22.07 2015-04-05 09.22.17 2015-04-05 09.23.43 2015-04-05 09.24.08 2015-04-05 09.24.53 2015-04-05 09.25.16 2015-04-05 09.26.14 2015-04-05 09.26.52 2015-04-05 09.28.13 2015-04-05 09.29.42

 

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

Stoic Jesus

August of 2010 brought a lot of changes to our lives.  Caitlyn turned 4, my grandfather died, Patrice was born, Postpartum Depression and Anxiety barreled into my life,

That last one was an earthquake that shook it all, every last inch of me.

My mental upheaval lead to an unsettling in every part of my life.  It’s honestly impossible to say which of the issues were the most distressing, but I can say the most shocking, the most unexpected, was the desolation it brought to my Christian walk.

Attending church became difficult.  I still believed what I had grown up learning and knowing.  I just didn’t know how, or if, it applied to me.

Slowly, step by step, I am making my way back.  I am reading my Bible most days, I am sitting through sermons at church without feeling ill or trapped.  Things were, and are, better.  But, there is still a bit of hollowness, a fair amount of distance and knowing that something was just wrong.

It is like that word at the tip of your tongue, you know it, but you don’t.  The harder you try to figure out the word, the more elusive it becomes.

My days continue.  I keep doing what I know to be right, doing what I have done for the last 30 years.  Waiting for everything to be okay again.  I’m not looking for the blush and excitement of new love in my walk with the Lord, rather, I am very much looking for the place where I know I belong.

Or, at the very least, to know why the distance, to know why I don’t belong any longer.

I just might, 4 years after the turmoil began, have received a kernel of understanding this week.

A few months ago, I slowly began reading the Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning.  I recently added a devotional based on the same book.  I am finding the writing a little circular, but I found my kernel, I found something to ponder, something to hold onto.

It is unimaginable to picture a wooden faced, stoic, joyless, and judgmental Jesus as he reclined with ragamuffins.  The human personality of Jesus is underrated when it is perceived as a passive mask for the dramatic speeches of divinity.  Such timidity robs Jesus of his humanity, encases him in a plaster of paris and concludes that he neither laughed, cried, smiled, nor got hurt but simply passed through our world without emotional engagement.

Wooden faced, stoic, joyless–that’s my Jesus.  That right there is what has been trying to come into stark relief for these many months and years.

It’s my truth.

Like any girl that spent her teen years lonely in life and at church youth group, week after week, I sat through teaching after teaching about how Jesus experienced pain, joy, happiness and emotion just like I did/do.  I heard it.  I know it was supposed to make my awkward teenage self feel better, just as it is supposed to make my Raging, Bipolar, weak self feel better.

And yet, it doesn’t.  It falls just short of truth.  It fell just short of truth when I tried to take my life 21 years ago, and it falls short today.

I follow along, I want to know him.  I want to live what I have been taught.  I would truly go to my death to defend these things I know and believe, but I have no idea how to live them.  None.

In all honesty, I know I am not alone.  There are innumerable people trying to figure out just the same thing.  Some, hang in there, keep trying to learn, keep studying; some walk away.  I understand both, though I sorrow when I see people surrender to this struggle.  I know I will keep fighting; honestly, it is all I know how to do.  I have been living the Christian life so long, I am entirely incapable of doing anything else.  This life is what I have known for the last 30 years.  Going to church, reading my Bible, studying, is in the very fabric of my being.  It is truly my default reaction.

Everyday, or almost every day, I open my Bible, I read, I study, I browse a Christian book or three.  Each week finds me in church either helping or in the actual service listening to the sermon.  On the weeks that I allow myself to walk in with little expectations, I find there are bits of truth everywhere that I can put in my pocket and carry with me.  It is good, for every day I keep putting one foot in front of the other in this faith walk I have always known is one day more where true comprehension and acceptance can come.

Waiting, I am waiting.

I see Jesus standing there.  Stoic.  Unmoving.  Not lifting a finger to draw me to himself.  But, if we believe what Brennan Manning has written, that is not the Savior Jesus is.  If we believe his thoughts on Jesus, there is a wildly loving, open, honest, cheerful, all encompassing lover of our souls just waiting for us.

You can never know how much I hope Brennan Manning is right.  I hope Jesus is there wanting to woo me, wanting to know me, wanting to accept me.  I am taking Brennans’ image of Jesus, an emotionally invested Jesus, and holding it up in front of my face.  I am inspecting the nuances of this portrayal of Jesus he offers.  I am listening to words, waiting for truth, Jesus’ truth.  I am looking to know, believe and trust the truths made so relate-able in this song by 4Him.

Shelter in the Rain

How long have you been
Waiting on a little sun to shine
To take away the night
Hold on for you are never alone
Through the darkest skies
There is a guiding light


For our God is a refuge
Where the weary can run and hide
in times of trouble
He’ll be the calm in the midst of the storm
‘Till it passes by
Oh, you need to know


CHORUS
There’s a shelter in the rain
There’s a hope for your tomorrow
There’s a cover through the pain
When you’re underneath the weather
Jesus is the shelter in the rain


Sometimes when hope is hard to find
We’ve got to walk by faith
Until we see the way
Hold tight for we are promised in time
Those who patiently wait
Will never wait in vain


For we know God is faithful
He’s a fortress to run into
In times of trouble
He’ll cover us with the wings of his love
‘Till we make it through
Oh, we got to know


REPEAT CHORUS


So tell me why
Why could you ever run away
From the cover out into the storm
Just know in time
The rain’s gonna bring a brighter day
And the clouds will be gone
But while you wait on the Lord

Lyrics found at http://lyrics.astraweb.com/

I seek, I wait.  I hope.