update on the latest “brand new”…

Just wanted to pop on really quick and share that we are really LOVING these new groups. We’ve had our first meeting a church and it was just great. The staff worked with me on getting my sister moved into a group for women, which she was perfectly fine with, thank God!

group-sihlouette

We had just that other couple I mentioned and then the husband of another couple who is going to be leading a group. They are the ones I had contacted a couple months ago about starting a group of our own. The system isn’t complete yet, so the few people for their group didn’t show up and his wife was home sick, so he sat in with us.

We had the best conversations and just a time of getting to know one another! It was awesome and I’m not sure if that was because we were so relieved to have gotten my sis satisfactorily situated in another group and then gotten along so well with our own group or what! *laugh* Maybe it was a little of both. AND that we were just so tickled to finally be getting somewhere with having a small group again. We’ve sure missed that sense of community and comradery!

group-bible in hand

The next night, we had our third meeting with our LIFE group and it was the best yet too. Our kids didn’t get to go because our son was working over and our daughter-in-law didn’t really want to go without him. But everyone else was there and it was just a great time discussing God’s Word and fellowshipping.

Afterward, everyone had gone home and it was just us with the host couple and we had a really nice time of chatting about all kinds of stuff. The husband is a car guy too, so he and Tommy had a great time talking about the projects Tommy has going right now. I’m so glad he has found this man who loves the same things he does AND loves the Lord too. I hope he will get to come “hang out” in the garage with Tommy soon. I think they’d both be on Cloud 9 with so much to talk about and get into out there.

Anyhow, nothing else much, just wanted to toss that out there. I’m so thankful that we have these two great groups in our lives right now. I am praying God does mighty things in and through us all!

Blessings,
G~

another brand new thang…

Lately, my husband and I have had a longing for community. For a group of closer friends who we could share with and encourage and who could encourage us. At our church, the staff has been struggling a bit with how to make groups a very integral part of our congregation. We go to what some might call a “mega-church” although realistically, it’s not that in the true sense of the word. But for our rural area, it’s certainly a much larger church than usual.

Anyway, the church experienced some sudden growth spurts at different times, which always makes for some trials in how to handle the influx of people in the different areas of ministry.

At one time we were in a “small group” with our lead pastor. We loved it, it was a great way to get to know him a little more personally and of course, to meet others in the church that we may not have otherwise gotten to know.

As time went on, however, the group grew too large for one room so we split and somehow we ended up in the group without our pastor, which turned out to be okay, we just would have chosen differently. And so this new group did well for several months until one night, the leader and his wife didn’t show up. There were about 3 other couples there and two new people showed up as well, so we all just kind of went on with things the way we usually did. The next week, the same thing happened and another new person showed up.

I was concerned about the situation because I’d seen the couple who were leaders of the group at church that morning, so I sent a message to one of the associate pastors asking what we should do or if he knew if there was something wrong with the other couple. The reply I got was “Congratulations! You have just become group leaders!” Hahaha… um, no. 🙂

Actually, we didn’t mind, it was just a little scary to be given that title and so we asked the other two couples who were regular attenders if they wanted to lead and were told emphatically NO, so we carried on with the group.

After about a year, things changed, the church began to want groups to meet in homes instead of the church which made ME nervous and then things happened like one couple’s job schedules changed drastically and they couldn’t meet the same night anymore, then another couple had some scheduling issues and finally, our group just kind of fell apart. Soon after, though, the church tried a new approach to groups and asked two of our regular couples to become leaders of their own groups.

That didn’t work so well as we were put into a large room with a sign telling what sort of group we had (age range, location, meeting day, etc) and then people would come and “join” whichever group would work for them. We had one couple in our new group and they seemed to always have some conflict and didn’t often show up, so that fell apart too and we had no group at all.

It’s been that way for a couple years now so we finally just gave up and filled out a form to be put into a group. We ended up being put into a group lead by a couple we know and love, but they’ve had a group for years and still had one couple in it that had been there from the start. The other couple was nice, we knew and liked them as well, but it was really hard with so much history between them to feel as if we belonged. Maybe that was our own doing, but there it is. We just felt so outside the loop it was uncomfortable to try and belong. As it was, this all happened just before Thanksgiving so we put off scheduling a meeting til after that and Christmas since our church does a MAJOR Christmas event that draws thousands and so many of us volunteer to help with it.

And so here it is the end of February and we hadn’t had the first meeting. I wasn’t sure if they’d been meeting without us or what, but found out that they hadn’t started meeting yet. I guess life is crazy for all of us!

And so, while I was serving at camp for a young girls’ Emmaus weekend, one of the pastors called and asked Tommy if we would lead a group. He immediately said we would, which kind of surprised me, but I was glad.

The fact was that I’d been talking with another lady that had discussed desire for a group to join and was contacting another to see if we could just start our own study group. What was even funnier is that after this lady and her husband said they would love to start a group with us, we got this call and they also got asked to lead a group!

—February 27, 2016—
(that’s what happens when I get interrupted repeatedly during a post! LOL!)

The other thing that was going on during this same time is an Emmaus friend of ours and her husband were starting LIFE group at their home and asked if we wanted to join them. (read about what LIFE group is at the link above)

The first week there was only one other couple there and it was nice, we got excited about it. The curriculum revolves around the real meaning of the Tree of Life and the Tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil. So far, we really like it.

So, here it is a week later and last time I checked, there are three people signed up for our discipleship group. One of them is my sister, which we’re not sure about. I mean, one of the objectives we’ve been given is to get people to open up. That’s NOT as ominous as it sounds. The idea is to form a close, cohesive group that comes to love and depend on each other and what better way to do that than by sharing about our lives? As you may or may not know, my sister and I have had a pretty non-functional, almost non-existent relationship most of our lives. Lots of things contributed to that, but nevertheless, we have just in this past year been able to deal with it in a more productive way. Once she went on an Emmaus walk for herself, frankly, she almost became a different (better!) person! Her inward, self-focused thinking changed and it’s been a really great thing.

For the past several months, she’s actually been going to our church which is a big change for her all by itself. Much the same way it was for us. She’s really been loving it and learning more than ever. So anyway, it’s NOT that the relationship is still so strained, it’s just that, well, she’s my sister so I would think either it’d be easier to open up with other people or that it would just be nicer to chat with people she doesn’t have history with. I guess she just wanted to be where she knew someone, but we are hoping that either it works EXTREMELY well, or that she’ll see the wisdom in moving to another group. I’m hoping there is a women’s group she can get in since, for the time being, her husband isn’t going to be coming with her.

So anyhow, the other two people in the group is a couple that we sort-of know. Well, we know the husband very well. He and I went to school together from kindergarten through high school! This is his second wife, so I don’t know her, but it’ll be interesting to see how this thing works.

We were under the impression that the staff would be putting people into groups, but apparently, they are able to choose which group they want. I’m not sure, but from what one staffer told us, I think maybe they are surprised by this too…I think they assumed it was set up so that the people were only signing up with their info and not actually able to choose a group!

We had our second week at LIFE group and more people were there, including Corey, our eldest son and his wife! I was so glad they agreed to come and hope they will continue. Corey’s a youth pastor at another church and they are both always just stretched to the limit with church activities. I get a little irritated (okay, a LOT irritated sometimes!) because of the way the church will schedule things that require Corey’s involvement without consulting him. Just last weekend, they took the group to Winter Jam and then had a lock-in at the church and the next day he was responsible for much of the Sunday service then they had a belated Valentine’s dinner planned that, of course, the youth are supposed to be in charge of. WHY would anyone schedule all that stuff the same weekend?!?! It happens all the time and I really wish Corey would just tell them NOPE sometimes, but he usually picks up whatever they throw at him and deals with it. *sigh* He’s much more patient than me, obviously.

So there it is… I’ll post again with news of how the discipleship group goes. Maybe we will have more people by Wednesday and it will all balance out. 🙂

Blessings!

taking on the taboo

I’ve had a couple of discussions about it in the past couple days. I saw several posts and vlogs about it lately. I know many people who suffer with, from and through it. Heaven knows I have dealt with it enough myself.

So let’s just discuss it. I feel like maybe I’m supposed to speak about it.

Maybe you’ve figured out by now I’m talking about depression. Sadly, even in the 21st century, it’s still a taboo subject. It’s still cause for shame or at least embarrassment in America.

depressed2

I’ve shared here and other places online about my own struggles with depression. I have had discussions publicly and via private message with people about it.

[DISCLAIMER: I’m not dispensing clinical advice to you or recommending you do a particular thing. I am just sharing MY experiences, MY “what works for me”, MY findings while researching the problem. You do what’s best for you, seek professional advice first and BE WELL!]

My motives are pretty simple and very straightforward. I think it’s important for people to be aware of depression…of the signs and symptoms, of the treatments, of the facts that there are many of us who suffer with it and how it would surprise you to find out how many of your friends, family and acquaintances are living with it right now.

First let’s look at what depression actually is and what it isn’t. What I have is referred to as “clinical depression” and it’s what many of the folks who have reached out to me also deal with.

    [NOTE: Please make use of the many links I have put in this post. (the first one is in the previous paragraph!) If you don’t live with depression yourself, at least be educated enough to understand and help those around you who are living with it. I guarantee you there are more than you’d think.]

Clinical depression is that “black cloud” that sticks with you. It’s a “sadness” that you can’t explain or shake. I find that the best way to explain it to those who don’t understand is that I KNOW without a doubt I have MUCH to be thankful for,
I K-N-O-W it. But I can’t make myself be happy. And it’s not that I’m overtly sad or anxious. It’s just an indescribable inertness, if you will. A complete lack of energy, or perhaps an inability, to feel joy.

Depression

If you read all through the link for clinical (or major) depression (and I urge you to!) then you’ll see it lists the symptoms and then states “when it’s not caused by a medical condition or medication” and that’s where I depart from the medical book, as I usually do. (ha) I DO have medical conditions that can cause those symptoms. I even have a chronic disease which makes me much more susceptible to being depressed. (diabetes, to name just one) so I don’t fit “neatly” into a particular diagnosis. Lots of us don’t and that’s okay as long as you have a medical professional who can deal with that.

There are currently several types of depression recognized by the medical community. Some of these you’ve probably heard of, like “clinical depression”, “major depression”, “postpartum depression”, even PMS has its own depression called “Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder”! That last link will take you to webmd.com’s list of these with links to more info on each of them. I’m not sure how valid some of these are, but perhaps medicine is just trying to give a name to the things we deal with all the time but never know what to call it. (for instance, on the list is “situational depression”…who on this earth hasn’t experienced that before? I’m not sure the emotions tied to various temporary events deserves a medical diagnosis, but that’s fodder for another post, right?–HA!)

Let me say that I don’t want to “push” depression and make it like so many things these days, cool or in any way desirable or something to be envied. That doesn’t make much sense I guess, but stick with me while I try to explain… Like so many things in our society, people try to put labels on various people and behaviors. Sometimes to make them ‘hip’ or whatever, sometimes to make them seem acceptable. (first thing that comes to mind is how ADD became a buzz-diagnosis so quickly and then, even though it can be a genuine problem for some people, it soon became the go-to excuse for not doing your work, not being dependable or responsible, etc., etc.) I don’t want to do that here. Depression is serious. It can be life-threatening at its worst, debilitating or at its very best, it can make living feel like a burden. So it’s not something to be trifled with in any way. I guess I just don’t want to come across as if I’m just tossing the word around and diminish the real significance of the disease.

Okay, so here, I want to share with you a video by a pastor I’ve met a time or two that I really admire. For one, he’s now an avid cyclist. (Seriously, the man’s a beast on a bike!) For two, he’s an honest-to-goodness Bible-believing man of God who isn’t afraid to speak truth. For three, he’s a loving husband and father and he also suffers from depression. I already like him, but after he posted this video on Facebook, I admired him even more. See for yourself as someone with a position of leadership and somewhat notoriety goes very public with how he struggled with and then overcame the monster that is depression: Pastor Greg Locke on Overcoming Depression

As you might guess, one of the reasons I so love this video is that he says cycling helped with his depression. Of course, not everyone can jump into this the way he did. Since I’ve been watching him for years now, I can tell you that he first got “into” bike riding when he went to the Goodwill and got a bike to ride in a charity ride. From there, apparently, he was hooked. He has since done a 3,000+ mile ride (IN TEN, that’s 10, one-zero, T-E-N DAYS!!) to the Pacific shore and also the Tour Divide, an unsupported mountain bike ride from Canada to Mexico! He’s a beast, I tell you!

I don’t foresee myself ever doing such amazing bike rides, and that’s okay. I have impressed myself enough with the longer rides I have been able to do. I’m just happy to be getting out and being active because before cycling, I was pretty much a couch potato. A long day of errands was about as much activity as this ol’ gal ever got! So, praise God that I have this activity to get me moving and inching toward better health!

Okay, back to the topic at hand. I hope you watched Greg’s video. Part of what was SO encouraging to me was the discovery that someone who seemed so alive, so interactive, so “with it” would have a problem with depression. It was like LIFE-GIVING to realize that he KNEW what it felt like, knew how it felt when someone says to you, “Just snap out of it. Just trust the Lord. Just read your Bible more.” When it was all you could do just to get out of bed in the morning, IF you even did that!

And I guess that’s the most important thing I want to do with this post. I want YOU to know that *I* KNOW. If you never meet another soul who understands depression, know this… you’ve stumbled across this minuscule spot on the web, this unknown web address to this post because God wanted you to know that you are not alone. Let’s face it, that’s the only way you’d have ended up here! Ha!

Maybe, if you happen to know me in real-life or you’ve read other posts here, maybe you never imagined that I have depression. Once you start being open about it, researching and talking to others, you will find that many of us who suffer from chronic clinical depression can be the funniest, goofiest, seemingly-up-beatest (Ha!) people you know. Here’s the thing.. it’s easy to fake it for a few hours. At least most of the time. So don’t assume that someone who’s always cracking jokes and smiling could never understand depression. Often, it’s a way to cope. That doesn’t mean we’re not genuinely funny or goofy, it’s just that that part of us isn’t the strongest during the dark-cloud times and so we relish our time of being able to laugh and make others laugh, because once that’s over, the cloud is back. At least that’s how depression is for me.

Y’know, you’d think that for those of us who cope that way, since it does feel so much better to be with a few people laughing it up we would seek that out, but in reality it finally becomes too hard. It gets to be too much effort to drag myself out to be with people, to even want to be with people. The devil and my own dark place will start to tell me no one really wants to be with me. They will just wonder what’s wrong with me…why am I so pale, why don’t I have any makeup on, why am I not talking as much, etc. Then there’s the whole monologue that goes, “You’d need to shower and fix your hair. You don’t have the energy for that. It’ll be too hard to smile enough or to ‘be your usual self’ and they’ll know something’s wrong. They will think you’re weird or sick or they’ll just wish you hadn’t come. What if it gets too hard to try and you burst out in tears. You can’t let them see you cry, and you’ll probably cry. No, just stay home. It’s easier that way.”

Only a few short months ago, that conversation played routinely in my head. I stopped going to the get-togethers with some of the most dear friends I have. I’m sure they knew something was up, but I couldn’t bring myself to just say, “Hey guys? I’m hurting. I’m in a bad spot. Nothing physical, no one in my family is terminal or has died, I just feel like crud and I can’t smile anymore. Pray for me. Tolerate me if I come around– encourage me to come around because it’s entirely too easy to convince myself not to!!”

I finally just had to come clean with them. Some of the reasons were deeply personal, so it was hard to even speak them out loud. Secrets in my marriage that were decades old, but they had contributed hugely to the massive black hole I was in and at that time, I had decided to confront and seek help for that and it had stirred up all kinds of ugly. It was HARD to tell my closest friends where I was and how bad I was hurting. They still probably don’t entirely understand, but at least they have an idea now and when I say that I’m feeling “dark” and need some prayer, they are on it. They don’t hesitate to check on me and encourage me, to ask questions which are not comfortable, not convenient to ask.

So I guess my next suggestion or bit of advice for you is this…get, find or make yourself some good friends. At least one. They don’t have to be people you talk to every day or even every week. It doesn’t have to be the person you do everything with (when you DO go do something)… It just needs to be someone you can count on to see through your hiding, your coping methods. Someone who will confront you when you have slipped into dark mode.
don't give up
One last thing, there’s something even more taboo than depression and that’s suicide and having suicidal thoughts during a deeply depressed cycle. I won’t lie to you. I have been there. I’ve said before, I’m thankful to have my faith in God because I truly believe that’s the only thing that kept me from attempting to end myself years ago when the idea came to me often.

I now know that a permanent solution to a temporary problem is never the answer. It took growing in my faith and becoming solidly convinced that I am worth something to God and even when I feel I’m not worth anything to anyone, not even myself, I have to trust that God’s got a purpose for me being here. A lot of the lies I tell myself are that my family would be better off, my husband could find someone without my problems, who he wouldn’t have to worry about or care for, take to countless doctors or wake from a dead sleep to feed through a low blood sugar, who wasn’t so self-doubting that I paralyze myself and need him to make the simplest decisions… I think my kids could live without wondering if their mother is crazy, without her words that come out so carelessly unintentionally causing pain to them and the ones they love. Even when those quite loud thoughts are going through my mind every single day repeatedly, I can remind myself that God has a purpose. I don’t have to know what it is because He does. I just have to trust Him.
suicide
That kinda takes the pressure off me. *ha* So if you don’t know Jesus, I urge you to learn about Him and trust Him with your life. He will keep you safe if you will just trust Him. He’s the best friend and ally against depression I can recommend to you. He may not choose to deliver you out of the dark hole, but He will be with you in it and make you strong enough to endure it.

Hebrews 13:5“…for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.””

rain – – bleh!

So, SO much rain. It rained all last week, flooding a couple times, actually and I haven’t gotten to ride at all!

I am feeling so pathetic! I need to ride! Here’s hoping for a chance in the next couple days!

I finally got the yard mowed today. It was in desperate need after going without all last week and then all the rain.

Tonight, instead of going for the group ride I went out to visit with the ladies in my reunion group. We hadn’t gotten together in months and months! It was nice and on Saturday, the one lady is having a fish fry, so there’s that to look forward to.

Wednesday, there’s a big shindig to celebrate our town becoming a TrailTown, which is a big ol’ deal and such a great thing for us! After that, I have an appointment to get a long-overdue haircut.

Thursday is our next planned group ride with some of the older and newer riders and they go at an easy, ride-at-your-own pace that I like. They don’t mind if I stop a million times to check my sugar and stuff which is really nice.

Maybe I can ride with the other group tomorrow night too…they go at a bit faster pace, but I may go anyway. Or maybe Hubby and I can go Wednesday night.

I dunno, but have mercy, I have a busy week ahead and hope, Lord willing, (and I’m sure He is…that’s me, layin’ it off on Him *shame*) I will get some accomplished on this house too.

Blessings to all!

a new thing…

Not to the exclusion of the old thing, just in addition to it.

Heart to Heart Too blog.

This blog is a collaboration of the ladies in my Emmaus reunion group, a sort-of small- or accountability group of ladies in the area who have been on an Emmaus walk. There are only about 7 of us who semi-regularly attend. We are stretched out over a large geographic area, so it’s not as easy to get together as it would be if we all lived in the same county, but we are hoping through this blog, we can accomplish several things.

We can express what God’s showing and teaching us, hopefully in a way that will also help others. We can discharge some of our creative writing tendencies or exercise those with the hope of growing them further. And we can keep in touch with each other even when we can’t get together.

Go check it out. I happened to get the honor (or maybe it was a punishment? HAHA!) of being the first to publish a post. It’s harder to write when you have some parameters to meet. Unlike when I just get on here and verbally slobber all over you. *pththt*

I can’t wait to see what the other ladies come up with in the future!

Go. Read. Enjoy. And share!

Exodus 34:27“And the Lord said to Moses, “Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.”

busy (for me)

So yeah, the past couple days have been busy! Not like, normal-people busy, but busy for me.

I was going to fill you all in on how things went at the PA & therapist yesterday, but I didn’t get time!! Let me try to fill you in now, okay?

Okay, at Richmond I went in with the PA first. I really liked her a lot! She asked a ton of questions, both about my past meds and what I’d been on most recently. We talked about how depression “does” me, how it makes me feel, what kinds of symptoms I have (fatigue, disinterest, sleeping too much, self-isolation, malaise) and she even got into asking about my life, some of the “highlights” of the triggers and causes of the depression.

The final verdict? Wellbutrin is the best bet for me. *sigh* That’s great except I took that for over 10 years and it worked great, but eventually seemed to stop being so effective. Matter of fact, the last time I tried to start Wellbutrin again, it just didn’t seem to work at all.

Now, that COULD have been because it was generic. My experience with the generic bupropion have been less than stellar! When it first became generic, I tried it for about a month, during which time it seemed to almost reverse the normal effects of Wellbutrin. It was a bad experience, meaning they messed with my meds which messed me up. I hate that!! So, it was like I spent several weeks going downhill trying the generic, then had to suffer through getting back on the “good stuff”. Not fun, no matter what meds you’re talking about. Several years later, I tried the generic again and it seemed to work okay. And by okay I mean it kept me from being totally dysfunctional, but didn’t really make me “better” feeling at all. So perhaps, in hindsight, it didn’t really work that well after all. I dunno at this point, but eventually it got less and less effective, money got tight, so I made the decision to just not purchase the bupropion and went off it.

I didn’t really seem any worse for that, so I never sought to get back on it. A couple years after that, I was offered (by a doctor!) Viibryd to try and it didn’t really seem to work, so I just didn’t pursue anything else.

And so, having done some research on all these meds myself, I knew that Wellbutrin seemed to be my best shot…would address my symptoms, not cause weight gain and would not induce fatigue…so hearing that from the PA, as I told her, was ‘kinda depressing!’ *sigh* That’s when she told me there were some dosing options. A higher dose of Wellbutrin XL (actually, we’re trying the generic) or a sustained release version, Wellbutrin SR.

Although, as I’m writing this post and searching for info, I’m finding articles like this and this…all about the shortcomings of these generics… so, I’m thinking it may not be worth my aggravation to even try the generic. AND this certainly makes me feel validated in what I’ve always said about the generic, at least for Wellbutrin. I’m not a brand snob, but if the generic doesn’t work, it just doesn’t work! I don’t have time for what doesn’t work!!

But as it stands, I’m supposed to start on 150 mg of XL for two weeks, then go up to 300 mg (the dose I always took) and then go back to see the PA. If it’s not working at all, we’ll try something else (the SR, I guess) or if it’s making me feel better but not “great”, we will go up to 450 mg and see how that goes.

I went straight from the PA to my therapist. I’ll be honest, I’d decided that this visit would determine for me if I was really getting “my money’s worth” out of these sessions. Not that I don’t enjoy talking to her, or that she’s not very easy to talk with… it was just that I wasn’t sure the whole idea of “talk therapy” or whatever it is was really gonna work for me. In my mind, I was like, “Why in the world do I need to pay to talk to someone?”

But I discovered, just in thinking it over in my own little head (heh) that it’s good to have someone totally outside the “fray” to tell things. We talked about a lot of stuff, it seemed like to me. I was able to share how I felt that what my mom had said to me as a child influenced how I thought and how I thought people felt about me. That led to me explaining to her how my parents tend to favor my sister, how they always blamed things on me as a child and even to the point of as adults, verbally blaming me for her making an extremely bad choice. “If you’d just been a better sister to her, she wouldn’t have done that.” I was told. Out of respect to my family, I’m going to refrain from giving any details here. Maybe later I’ll need to divulge, but for now, just let me leave it at that. How they have done for her, buying her cars and building her a house even though she’s married and is now a middle-aged woman. I know they don’t make that much money, I UNDERSTAND that, but we struggle for money ALL the time too. I would never ask them to pay for my meds or my groceries, let alone all the other stuff Mom buys for her… clothes, makeup and jewelry, etc.

I’ve never just sat and “stewed” about that stuff, but it’s there, it’s obvious and it hurts ya know? Mom is the main one who wants to just DO everything for her. My sister has had seizures since she was about 3. She had a surgery at 15 that stopped them for many years, but then when she got to be about 28 or so, the seizures returned. She held down a full time job and lived on her own for periods of time (just up the road from mom, of course, and rent-free in a home they owned) until she married when she was 35.

If it were up to my mom, I would probably be in a wheelchair. I mean, seriously. Not that she’d “put me in” one, but that she would rather me be there than push myself to “do more”. For instance, I used to have horrific neuropathy pain in my feet. That’s something diabetics get, it’s basically nerve damage that causes pain, numbness or tingling/burning. I was also diagnose with plantar fasciitis at that time too, which causes horrible pain in the feet. I could barely walk and she was forever telling me I needed to get a handicapped placard for my vehicle so I could park close and she’d always want me to ride in the motorized carts if she went to the store with me. That’s what I mean by she’d have me in a wheelchair if she could have her way.

I know it was because she wanted to ease my pain, but c’MON, Mom!! And that’s what she’s done to my sister. The biggest difference has been that I married young and married someone who is hardworking and won’t accept handouts OR let me wither away even when I want to. My hubby pushes me to push myself. Sometimes he’s downright annoying about it, but he never tries to push me beyond my capabilities, but he believes I can do more than I believe myself.

So, there’s all that stuff. I feel very “cheated” in a lot of ways. And my sister’s feelings toward me is that I “won’t be” her sister. She resents me because I have friends, close friends who treat me more like a sister than she does (or than I do her, also… I’m not perfect here) But she and I have nothing really in common and she is so consumed with herself, her limitations, her own favorite things…so unless I’m willing to just conform, I “don’t want to be” her sister. She’s even written me letters telling me to just stay away from her (as if I am down there at her door??—she lives next door to me, by the way)… I dunno. The last letter was extremely rambly but that’s what she wrote. Maybe she was just writing when she was feeling very hurt, but the fact that she put it in my mailbox on my last birthday? Yeah, pretty petty if you ask me. I know she is immature mentally, but a lot of that *I believe* is just because she’s straight-up spoiled.

A spoiled child is hard to stomach. But at least you can spank them (hopefully) and there is time to improve the situation if the parents choose. A spoiled adult? Unbearable!! And honestly, there are way too many of them around today. We all know at least one. It’s hard to understand how someone can reach adulthood feeling as privileged as some of them do.

So…yeah. That’s some of the stuff I talked about yesterday. We also talked about the whole “schedule” thing.

I am so NOT a schedule person!! Time has no meaning or context to me most of the time. I’m sure that’s from all these years of being at home. And the hubby is an EXTREME schedule-ist. Drives me flippin’ insane!! He thinks I should plan what time I will start the laundry, estimate how long it will take to finish it and so that will tell me what time I can start or do something else. He lives his life that way, so when he’s home and eSPECIALLY when I’m deeper in depression, it really drives me up a wall to have him around.

Most of the time, he keeps that crap to himself. (heh) But sometimes it spills out and we have some *ahem* ‘vigorous discussions’ about the value or lack thereof of such schedules… however, I am constantly being told I need to be on some sort of schedule.

*SIGH* I don’t wanna. UGH!! But I’m gonna try. It’s just so SO hard for me. So pray that I can improve that area of my life for my and my health’s sake.

We also talked about logging my moods…my emotional and even physical feelings. That’s where this blog will come in, I think.

I mentioned the blog yesterday. I’m not sure what she thought about it, but she was encouraging.

I cried a lot yesterday too. Both with the PA and my therapist. Sheesh. But then, these days it doesn’t take much to make me cry. *sigh*

Okay, so once I finally got home, I needed to get ready for our Emmaus reunion group’s meeting. Our group is called Heart 2 Heart 2. Yes. There’s supposed to be another “2” on the end. We’re a branch off the original Heart 2 Heart group. I dunno who decided to use a “2” but if we branch again, it should be called “Heart 2 Heart < 3" LOL! Okay, so maybe that wasn't as funny as it seemed. Sorry. 😉

Anyway, it was planned for even those outside our group. We had a lady coming to share her testimony and planned to serve food, so I had food to fix. I haven't fixed food for a pot luck in ages it seems. I was at a loss, but decided to fix a crock of Dill Pickle Soup. If you like dills at all, you must try this soup. I am a pickle freak, so to me, it’s divine!! I also fixed what’s become known as “Dirty Puddin'”. One of the boys who still comes around from our days of being youth leaders at our old church told me it was dirt cake. I had never heard of that. This is made from vanilla pudding, cool whip and crushed Oreos. I don’t remember where I got the recipe or if there even was a recipe. When I looked up Dirt Cake, this is not really that similar, so for him, I called it “Co-co’s Dirty Puddin'”. The name kinda stuck.

ANYhow, one of my friends rode down with me. She’s the one who insisted on picking me up the last time I got to a group meeting. We had a great time talking about a lot of the stuff that had been said in my session and how she had those words from her childhood in her head too, that colored how she sees the world, how she interprets things, how she feels others think about her. Then, wouldn’t you know it? At the meeting, the speaker spoke directly to those very issues. My friend was sitting by me, and I was sniffling and crying… she reached over and grabbed my hand. It was a great blessing and that little bit of confirmation…that little nod from God that “Yes, I wanted you to be here tonight.”

On the way home, my first DIL called to ask if I could pick up some ginger ale because my son was feverish and chilling. I stayed down there talking with him for awhile. Thank God he was better this morning and able to go with his brother and my dad to a conference they had scheduled.

So… that was my yesterday. Busy. Crazy. Full of squishy emotional mess, but good. It was all good.

Proverbs 25:11 — “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.”

pressing on…

So I’ve slept less today, thank God. I haven’t done all that much though, but at least I haven’t been asleep. That’s progress, right??

I have been having to go out the past few mornings, at 7 am, to close the “chicken door”…the automatic door to our chicken coop. It’s a boogar to set and Hubby says the only way to “turn it off” is to open the control unit and take out the batteries. Apparently that’s a hard job, or else it would mean eventually having to reset the thing again. I dunno. The door is a real life-saver just because we don’t have to run out and open it first thing every. single. morning. when it’s warm. But really, I wish there was a way to shut the thing off when it’s -20 degrees and the chickens might freeze if I don’t run out there and push the ‘close’ button!!! Argh!

I’m also on fire duty. We have an 1,800 square feet shop building with 20+ foot high ceilings that has a wood stove as the only source of heat (except for an electric wall heater in the office and bathroom) so in order to keep all the stuff out there, including pipes! from freezing, someone has to man that stove all day and keep the fire going in it. That someone would be me.

Now, granted, the Hubby has been coming home at lunch every day to check it, so he’s not just dumping it on me. I’m just not used to having to get out in these frigid temps to do stuff like this, so I’m a li’l whiny. ExCUSE me!! Ha!

So today I’ve been messaging back and forth with a young girl who I have a lot in common with. We met through our Emmaus community and for some reason (I think it was God’s doing) she started messaging me about various struggles and over the past year or so, it seems we’ve become pretty close.

I was hesitant at first because she was telling me a lot of things about her family that I honestly didn’t know for sure myself. I tried to take it all with a grain of salt…teenagers will exaggerate, after all. But the stories kept coming and so I asked an older girl who she rides to Emmaus gatherings what she knew about this young girl. Seems she didn’t know much either, so I have chosen to just try and help her all I can, pointing her to scripture and urging her to lean on God for strength.

She has been a cutter in the past, she’s attempted suicide. She has no parental support that I can tell, but she has become very precious to me. Her messages, while sometimes disturbing and troubling to me, often will pull me out of myself in order to help her. Then today…today for some reason we got on the subject of clothes…I think she mentioned needing to find something to wear, and soon I was babbling about how crappy I feel about myself and being overweight.

Little Girl is all of maybe 120 pounds, so I let her know I was sorry for rambling on about something she couldn’t possibly understand coming from someone old enough to be her mother. She then told me I was gorgeous and that she hated “weight”, how it seemed to define people. She told me how she had struggled with an eating disorder, dropping to 98 pounds at one point.

Then she posted this on Facebook::

To all my people out there that think that they aren’t beautiful…. You’re wrong!!! All the lies that Satan has pumped into your mind, erase them….. Beauty isn’t defined by the size of your waist or how big you are.. Beauty is defined by the personality that God has placed in you. Beauty is defined by the light that shines from you. Society has placed in so many heads that because you don’t wear a size 00 in pants and weigh under 110 pounds that you can never be happy with your self until you are there, well society lies. God made you just the way you are, and he made you beautiful!

I burst into tears…again. First time was when she messaged me that she thought I was gorgeous. My thought upon reading her status was Okay…she’s getting it. Maybe I AM helping her?

And then I got to thinking Why did it touch you so much for this young girl to tell you that she thinks you are beautiful?

The immediate response was Because you’re that pathetic? You are so disgusted with your fat self that anyone paying you a compliment just rocks your world. How sad!!

Then I thought some more and this came to me… This young girl sees your insides. She sees your heart. She feels the love you’ve been trying to show her and to her, that is beautiful.

So yeah, maybe I’m pathetic. Aren’t we all really pathetic without Jesus? Isn’t that the shape we all come in before He steps in and makes us new, makes us righteous, makes us beautiful?

1 Peter 3:3-5 — “3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands,”

and a fun day…

So besides going back tot he therapist today, I spent the day with one of my dearest friends and best supporters. When I first saw the therapist and then the gyno and got all those appointments, this dear friend offered to go to appointments with me any time I needed her to.

Since we hadn’t seen each other for quite awhile, she arranged her work so that she could go with me today.

We had fun chit-chatting on the way up there, then after my appointment, she very sweetly insisted on buying my lunch, so we had a nice long sit at the steakhouse, talking and laughing.

Then we took a trip to TJ Maxx. That probably doesn’t sound like a giant deal to most people, but for me it was huge. I haven’t gone anywhere but the grocery or the pharmacy in probably 3 or so months.

To go traipsing through a store just for the heck of it was SO MUCH FUN. Even more so with a dear friend. My intention was to window shop since we really don’t have any extra money, but I ended up finding a pair of the MOST comfortable shoes and having looked for shoes all winter without having any luck, I just had to. I knew we could find a way for it to be okay, but I felt so bad, however, soon I found a perfect birthday gift for my first daughter-in-law’s birthday coming up in a couple weeks, then I found a kitchen gadget that my younger kids needed…then I found an amazingly nice tea kettle for us. The one we’ve been using is not long for this world and this one is really well-built and was a great deal! Um, I also found an awesome little colander that we needed. Oh, um… and an adorable ceramic owl.

Okay, so I went a little wild. Heh. Thankfully, my sweet hubby made a little overtime this week and he is very understanding.

And I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to spend the day with such a sweet friend. God really is so very good to me!!

Proverbs 17:17 — “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

and why God is so extremely good…

So if you read my previous post, you might, well…. you might be passed out on the floor because I’ve posted twice in one day. Ha ha! But you might be interested to know that I spent the evening with three of the most precious ladies in my life.

What a complete “God thing” it is that tonight would be the usual meeting night of these ladies. After my long post about my mindset on friends and how I don’t have that many in my life and how hard it is for me to make true and actual friends…

These ladies are part of what’s called a “reunion group” in the Emmaus community. It’s similar to a small group. We meet to talk about our walk with Jesus, the struggles we’re having, the victories we’ve realized and we pray for and support each other. We hold each other accountable.

I stopped going to the meetings except for the rare occasion when I started selling Mary Kay because I always had some MK thing to do on that night.

I missed my friends, my sweet girls, so much, but felt I had no choice. God took care of that for me. Or maybe that’s not exactly what He was doing or why my health went downhill so much that I couldn’t continue with MK, but nonetheless, I was SO happy to meet back up with my little core group of women tonight.

The group has grown and shrank (shrunk?!) and changed over the past few years since I became a part of it, but this core group of women has always been there, so it was nice to go back tonight and it just be us.

As I’ve shared in previous posts, I have secluded myself during this last bout of depression. I cut myself off from pretty much everyone. But my little core group of gals from the reunion group would still text to see if I was coming or how I was doing.

So tonight, there was a lot of heavy burdens we all had to share. I felt like, for most of the evening, that I wouldn’t add my stuff to the pile. It didn’t seem appropriate or I didn’t feel comfortable or as if it was “the right time” to share this stuff with them.

I honestly thought I would just keep it all to myself. I mean, there were three other people there. Did I really want to tell them this stuff that was so deeply painful? Did I want to trust them with that?

Well, yeah, I am kinda just telling the internet, but somehow, that’s different than looking someone in the face and saying, “Hey, I have lived 40 some years with this huge despair in my life and I’m having a hard time carrying it lately.” “Sometimes I don’t want to live anymore.” “I have this deeply personal sorrow in my life that I cannot share with just anyone–can I share it with you? Do you care enough to listen and pray?” Then hope that they are as trustworthy as you think and that they then care enough to … not ‘deal with’ but support you while you deal with your pain.

That’s a scary thing to do. The issues with my marriage I have only entrusted to two other people before tonight. One proved to be entirely trustworthy. The other, and first, did not. Tonight, I praise God for three women who love me and Jesus enough to have listened to me and who I know will pray for me as I make this journey.

So, on the day I write a post about how I have come to be so slow to label someone “friend”, I am supremely thankful that God put three more of those people in my life.

He really is a loving, merciful Savior!

Deuteronomy 4:31 — “For the Lord your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them.”

Psalm 112:4 — “Light dawns in the darkness for the upright; he is gracious, merciful, and righteous.”

Proverbs 17:17 — “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

friends and the realization of why that’s so hard for me

I started thinking about a post the other day. But it included using the word “friends” in the context of the way I used to think of friends when I was in high school. And honestly, I didn’t really have friends in high school. I knew people and was friendly with some people. I tried to be nice to everyone, but to say I was “friends” with someone meant something totally different to me then.

By the time I got to high school, I’d had several people I thought were my friends treat me really bad and so I was very slow to give someone the title of “friend”. Very slow.

To me, a friend was someone you loved spending time with, someone you could be yourself around and not have to worry about everything you said or did being misconstrued or turned into an offense. It meant you could count on that person to “have your back”, to not spread rumors about you or desert you when you needed them. It meant that if they came up on some people talking bad about you, they’d be the one who took up for you, who would set the record straight…not just walk on by or even worse, join in with the group.

As a young child, I can remember a few “friend events”. This refers to an afternoon or perhaps a couple of days spent in perfect camaraderie with someone. These were hours spent playing and laughing that you might dream about days later. The time spent was that good.

I learned rather quickly though that just because I’d spent that one afternoon a few years ago in perfect sync with someone did NOT mean they were my friend or that they’d even still like me in a different setting with different people around.

For me, at that stage in my life, that was SUCH a shock! I just was not wired that way. If I liked you, I liked you no matter who was around or what was going on. But I soon learned that was dangerous on my part. That you couldn’t just be all “out there” with people because they would rip you to shreds.

So, as I entered high school, I really didn’t have any close friends. As I continued on through those monumental years, I did have several people who I got close to, who I considered (and still do) friends, but it wasn’t a close, deep friendship that I longed for. It was never a “best friend” relationship.

And maybe that’s where I get this feeling (that still plagues me today) of not being wanted or loved or liked.

Let me state that this is NOT a post to bash my mother. However, it’s recently come to my realization that something she said to me once and then insinuated other times in my childhood has colored my whole view of who I am and how others see me.

One of the few people I DID consider a “best friend”, at least for a few years when I was in grade school, was a girl whose family went to the same church we did and we spent a lot of time together on the weekends. She was about 3 years older than me, so we didn’t go to the same classes, but weekends were always spent together. And this friend had asked me to come home with her for some kind of whole-family thing.

Unlike me, she was the youngest of a family of six kids. I was the oldest in a family of two girls. We were total opposites, but I loved the atmosphere in her family. It was so totally different and I was treated like “one of the gang”.

I know my mother had my diabetes to consider when letting me go and do things, but this was different. I’d spent the night with this family dozens of times, but when I went to ask her if I could go, Mom said, “They don’t really want you to go.”

I don’t think I actually realized it then, not in the chaos of the situation or the feeling of unfairness because I wanted to go so bad and also the crying that I had to do then because I wasn’t being allowed to go… but every time I re-live that moment, those words, now it’s like a sharp slap across the face.

And I realize that I feel that way SO often when I’m in a group of people. If there is the least bit of talk that’s “prior history” for the rest of the group, I will instantly back away. Even if the talk isn’t purposely to exclude me, I will feel as if it is. And I will hear those words, “They don’t really want you.”

I hear that sometimes when my husband tells me he loves me and I’m feeling particularly unloveable. I hear it when my grown sons tell me they love me. I hear it when a friend offers to pick me up to go to lunch or something.

And I KNOW it’s the devil or satan or whatever you want to call him. I just know that it comes from the enemy of my happiness. The enemy of my closeness to Christ. He will even go so far as to whisper it in my ears when I want to spend time in Christ’s presence.

During this last, most horrible phase of the depression I found myself pondering death. Not contemplating it, but just thinking about how nice it would be to just “go on”. And those words came…“What in the world does God want with you? He doesn’t want you either.”

Annnnd, there went my “clinical composure”. Out of all this thinking and writing about one of the most painful aspects of my life, the tears never stung my eyes til now.

And that’s what satan wants when he whispers such horror into my head. But I know The Truth. His name is Jesus. So take that, you wicked creature!

I still have a lot of trouble dealing with that mindset that people don’t really want to be around me. They’re not really my friend. I’m not really wanted in the group. I’m not really liked by those people.

It’s a constant thing for me to fight against and in a world where it’s hard to read people and they DO tend to let you down or leave you behind, it’s really REALLY hard to keep my head on straight where this particular lie comes into play.

I’m just thankful God didn’t leave me in that lie. In the huge vat of that lie where I had been floating for months and was fully convinced that no one wanted me at all. I’m thankful He didn’t give up on me and put others in my life who didn’t either.

God’s so incredibly good!!

[ADDENDUM] As for my definition of friends, as I alluded to in that first paragraph, and how I view the word now… I have friends now. I have some GOOD friends. They will call to check on me if I’m scarce on Facebook or if they hear I’m under the weather. They will even come by to see about me or bring food or other sweet gifts if I’m sick. (and I have one friend who is so precious, she will bring gifts for no reason at all!) I have one friend who was so sensitive to what was going on with me that she insisted I follow her to a quiet room, away from a crowd at an event at camp where I was working, and she promptly sat me down, knelt and untied my boots and massaged my feet because she could see how bad I was hurting. So God has been good to me. I have some amazing, awesome friends!

And after all that, I still listen to that voice, that lie that tells me no one loves me. When I am feeling analytic and take time to ponder this, I wonder why it is so easy for me to believe that. Is it because that has been ingrained in my mind? Is it because I feel unlovable? Is it because I don’t much love myself?

I honestly don’t know at this point. But when I figure it out, I’ll be sure to let you know.

🙂

Zephaniah 3:17 — “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”