Who are you running toward?

One minute you're picking daisies in the yard.

Then the stumble that warns of pain to come.

Finally, the plunge downward, pricklier and more painful than you imagined.

Who does he run to?

Abba, Father, bring me close to you.
Help me live my life so that YOU are always my first choice...
for comfort,

You are good, You are good
When there's nothing good in me
You are love, You are love
On display for all to see
You are light, You are light
When the darkness closes in
You are hope, You are hope
You have covered all my sin

You are peace, You are peace
When my fear is crippling
You are true, You are true
Even in my wandering
You are joy, You are joy
You're the reason that I sing
You are life, You are life,
In You death has lost it's sting

Oh, I'm running to your arms,
I'm running to arms
The riches of your love
Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign

You are more, You are more
Than my words will ever say
You are Lord, You are Lord
All creation will proclaim
You are here, You are here
In your presence I'm made whole
You are God, You are God
Of all else I'm letting go

Oh, I'm running to your arms
I'm running to arms
The riches of your love
Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign

My heart will sing
no other name
Jesus, Jesus

~ Hillsong, Forever Reign ~

(click the link, it will start your day out right!)


No pain, no gain

Little girl, statuesque
sunlight gives you pearls for earrings
Mama tending
stock still child,

What is desirable that costs nothing? What is desirable that does not require some sacrifice? The braids in my niece's hair were worth the pulling and tugging. It was worth it to me today to be scratched by the mama cat just to see a kitten. Healing is worth it to me even though it re-breaks the already translucent thin fibers of my mending heart.
Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! Psalm 126:5

Hey, heard you were up all night
Thinking about how your world ain't right
And you wonder if things will ever get better
And you're asking why is it always raining on you
When all you want is just a little good news
Instead of standing there stuck out in the weather

Oh, don't hang your head
It's gonna end
God's right there
Even if it's hard to see Him
I promise you that He still cares

When the waves are taking you under
Hold on just a little bit longer
He knows that this is gonna make you stronger, stronger
The pain ain't gonna last forever
And things can only get better
Believe me

Hold on and let Him hold your hand
And go on and fall into the arms of Jesus
Oh, lift your head it's gonna end
God's right there
Even when you just can't feel Him
I promise you that He still cares

'Cause if He started this work in your life
He will be faithful to complete it
If only you believe it
He knows how much it hurts
And I'm sure that He's gonna help you get through this

~ Stronger, Mandisa ~

She sees me

Anne of Green Gables called them "bosom friends". I have several. Count me among the lucky. All have helped me through this maze of depression, validating my feelings and helping me cope.

Last night, I was a complete mess. My face covered in tears, I listened to the voice at the other end of the telephone telling me how to pull myself out of a flashback or a panic attack. She spoke wisdom. I'm going to follow it.

Are these moments of transparency a gift from God?  Honesty that makes the soul of the other translucent, pink faces of flower shining but brief, looking through each others souls.

Two ships sinking bind their brokenness with the cords of compassion. The sweetness of her voice lingers in my ear this morning, a reminder that, despite differences, we all share or deny love. Thank you, friend, for reaching out your hands to me once again.

"One can give without loving, but one cannot love without giving." 
~Amy Carmichael

Today I am trying a coping technique called Mindfulness. This simply means that "carpe diem". Really get engaged in the goings-on of the day, notice things and make memories.

"The mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace." 
 Romans 8:6

Spiritual CPR

Theoretically speaking, if you take proper maintenance of a car, it could last forever. My husband is pushing this theoretical truth every day in a 1984 Honda Accord. This runner has had many visits to the mechanic, and just as many repairs in our own garage. You could skip the maintenance and just go repair-to-repair. However, most people are aware of the enormous amount of trouble they get into if they skip maintenance.

What is maintenance for life? I have loved Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs since I first read it. Maintenance probably covers the whole pyramid up until you hit self-actualization.

Yet suddenly a crisis is upon you. A crisis of faith, a crack in your marriage, a season of grief or depression, the death of someone so important to you there are threads of that person all through your life's tapestry, and now suddenly their scarlet cord is seen no more. Horrible memories that have stayed stuffed in a box for many, many years come spilling out of the past and into your present.

In health care, when we get a patient gasping on a gurney, blue-tinged with the effort to suck air into lungs, we do something called CPR. What about spiritual CPR? How do you react when the car finally grinds to a halt? You've probably had weeks of little warning signs that something's wrong, but you don't put your finger on it until the car won't go another foot. I do the same thing spiritually. It is out of my deepest crises that I cry loudest for God, long deepest for Him, feel distant and alone.

When that wheezing patient comes in on the ambulance gurney, both nurses and doctors rush to check a list of body functions that has also earned an acronym. ABC. Airway: does the person still have an opening for the Word to work? Breathing: has the person been breathing in Christ through the Bible? Circulation: is that Bible study apparent in the actions of the person?

Nurses see patients who can't breath for various reasons. But the response is always, always the same. ABC. If those are all intact - airway, breathing, circulation - then a slower process of determining the problem can take place. The patient isn't in imminent danger. Aaron's hands, pulling out pieces and spraying gas and diagnosing the problem with his Honda, he knows where to look. Circulation is the problem here. Gas gets to the engine but the distributor cap is worn out, so electricity is not circulating and keeping the engine going.

Response to spiritual crises can follow this same top-down approach to what has been broken in the Christian's life. When you face a crisis, some of which can be weathered without any more help beyond yourself and God, check your ABC's. Have I even been trying to connect with God? Am I reading His word? Does what I read make an impact in my life that is visible?

There are times when all you have to do is pick up the Bible and read about your problem. Or read a Psalm and weep and heal. Think back to all the previous repairs God has done in your life. It is here, in the broken place, that you need to remember the monuments of faith in your past. Remember when money was so short you didn't know if you could make it to next payday, and an unexpected check came in the mail and you survived? Remember when your child was sick and you begged for healing, and healing came? Remember being on your knees on the hard hospital floor, praying that your mother might go to Jesus peacefully and without physical pain, and she did? Remember when you bought a house and could barely make the payments and then they increased your insurance, and somehow, you don't know how, logically, the payments could still be made?

There are also times to pick up the phone and call for help. Parents and pastors are usually my first stops. Sometimes help comes from a source you would never expect. Yesterday, at church, I needed a little more space so I moved to the coffee shop where the message is broadcast live on a large-screen TV. I set my purse and notes down on a couch, thinking that would give me more personal space, and stepped out for a breath of fresh air. When I came back to my couch, there was a dear friend sitting there, right next to my little pile.

Spiritual crisis CPR:
Airway: do I still have a connection and desire for God?
Breathing: am I reading His word?
Circulation: am I allowing His word to refresh and build me?

High up on a rock
Looking out at the horizon
Watching as the storm rolls in
Wondering if my heart will survive it
As the waves crash all around me
And can't remember what it feels like to be free

You say, I've got you my baby
I've got you
It's quite the mess you're in
But it's nothing Love can't fix

So sit here upon my shoulders
And watch as it all unwinds

You are making me a mountain
Making me a mountain
That cannot be shaken
I know You're making me a mountain
Making me a mountain
That cannot be moved
~Trust, Kristene Mueller~

Excerpted from my Gratitude Journal, 710-723:
#710: a cardinal who flies by every morning, reminding me of my grandpa
#712: free tow home for the Honda - thanks, Mom!
#713: People who love my kids take them so I  heal slow in those quiet golden hours
#715: Caleb wakes up HAPPY! (this is minor miracle)
#719: Lunch - finally! - with Sara B.
#721: My parents
#722: My baby brother (and family) move BACK!

Scattering seed

I look down at my rainboots, covered with yellow seeds. About every 6 years, we re-seed the field that lies between the front lawn and the sentinel sumac in a line along the road. A parable runs through my head as I keep scattering seed.

...when a great multitude were coming together, and those from the various cities were journeying to Him, He spoke by way of a parable: 'The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road; and it was trampled under foot, and the birds of the air ate it up. And other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it, and choked it out. And other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great.' As He said these things, He would call out, 'He who has ears to hear, let him hear.' (Luke 8)
The field looks perfectly normal from the porch, different native and hybrid grasses covering the area evenly.

As I sit in my swing many times each day - my quiet, safe place to reconnect with God and throw out the threats and despair that lurks, always ready to steal my thoughts - I have noticed the bird activity. It is very distinct. The birds will only land on certain things.

And those certain things are the free growing wild plants and grasses. Never, out of the thousand or so birds I've watched, has one landed on the humanly produced grass.

They land on the wheat grass.

They land on weeds.

Around the thorny bushes, there is always a patch, dead, nothing growing.
The thorny bush has taken it's territory and killed anything that might threaten it.

Man-hybridized grass is beautiful, shiny and thick.
But nary a bird lands in it.

The children make nests in the man-made grass, and a thorny plant takes up residence in the fall. Covered in burrs, she assures that no other plant or person will come near her.

Bumble bees and butterflies flock to the few colorful wildflowers left after our last planting.

I think of myself as a Christian. Did I spring up and do I flower and spread because of authentic connection with God? Or am I the man-made stuff, beautiful to look at, but worthless when it comes down to it. It is easy to put on a showy Christian front on Sundays, but there is that whole week intervening. I want to be the man throwing seed on good, fertile soil. And I want to be planting the kind of seed that will be a sweet fragrance to the Lord.
And those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they may not believe and be saved. And those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away. And the seed fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity. And the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance. Now no one after lighting a lamp covers it over with a container, or puts it under a bed; but he puts it on a lampstand, in order that those who come in may see the light. For nothing is hidden that shall not become evident, nor anything secret that shall not be known and come to light. (Luke 8)
I have four very important seeds. I'm off to water them.

Please take time to watch the beautiful video to this song on Vevo.

She spins and she sways
To whatever song plays
Without a care in the world
And I'm sitting here wearing
The weight of the world on my shoulders

It's been a long day
And there's still work to do
She's pulling at me
Saying "Dad, I need you

There's a ball at the castle
And I've been invited
And I need to practice my dancing
Oh, please, Daddy, please?"

So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
'Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh, I will dance with Cinderella
I don't want to miss even one song
'Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she'll be gone...

She says he's a nice guy and I'd be impressed
She wants to know if I approve of the dress
She says, "Dad, the prom is just one week away
And I need to practice my dancing
Oh, please, Daddy, please?"

So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
'Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh, I will dance with Cinderella
I don't want to miss even one song
'Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she'll be gone

She will be gone

Well, she came home today with a ring on her hand
Just glowing and telling us all they had planned
She says, "Dad, the wedding's still six months away
But I need to practice my dancing
Oh, please, Daddy, please?"

So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
'Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh, I will dance with Cinderella
I don't want to miss even one song
'Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she'll be gone

Who's disobeying?

I plod to the bedroom for what feels like the 100th time and I'm counting slowly, all the way to ten, taking the edge off my biting tongue. SLEEP, child. Again and again I go in, explain, discipline, explain, lie the child back down. It seems endless. He could go on like this for hours (although I cannot). 

It is hard to know, especially with the psychological scars my children bear since my cancer, heart, and now PTSD problems have ripped me away from them to sit in a solitary hospital bed. It's hard to know if it's a real need or a child's disobedience.

There's an easy way to check. As you pull that crying child close, and he melts into your arms, and he asks between sobs for you to cuddle him, try it. Just try laying down and cuddling. My child immediately sucks in the sobs and gives me a wet-cheeked smile. I lay there for 5 minutes, and he is asleep.

Was he being disobedient? After all, he didn't obey my instructions. Or perhaps I was being disobedient in being harsh, unloving, and unwilling to change my naptime plans to lay with my son who was irking me to the core. This is the thought that changes everything. It means a messier house and sometimes meals get on late, but when a need arises, I have to tend to it. That is what makes recovery so hard at home. I have to lay myself down for the sake of Christ (and this family). He gives no caveat in the verses that tell me to take up my cross, or lay myself down as He did. He doesn't say, "Well, this doesn't count because you have an anxiety problem and this is obviously making your problem worse. I'll give you a pass this time. God ahead and be selfish". No. Instead He tugs at my heartstrings, softens my heart, and teaches me more about grace through parenting with each passing year.

No matter what: Faith, hope, love. And the greatest of these is LOVE. (I Corinthians 13:13)

How to survive a rainy day

1. In two words: Easybake Oven
2. Throw caution to the wind and go get dirty!

3. Come up with a silly game and invite your cousin over.

4. Drink...

5...or eat something special and warm.

6. Take a stroll in the rain.

7. Stay inside and paint.

8. A beauty treatment or spa day is never a bad choice.

9. Prepare to be cuddled. A lot!

10. Head for shelter.

11. Have a tea party.

12. Remember, rain is beautiful,

13. and makes flowers grow...

14. and it never lasts long!

Doing when you don't feel like doing

Somewhere up in my cerebrum, I know that sitting around or lazily browsing the internet are not good for my mental health. On the other hand, days when depression surges I don't even have the drive to take a shower and get dressed. So here I sit and type in my cardigan and leopard print pajama pants at almost noon. The below verses on laziness are particularly meaningful for me because I have completely lost my appetite through this whole ordeal. So far I've not lost a considerable amount of weight. But every morning I force down a banana, at lunch, maybe a piece of cheese. I try to finish at least a quarter of my dinner plate. Nothing tastes good, smells good, or kicks in my hunger drive.
Laziness brings on deep sleep, and the shiftless man goes hungry. Proverbs 19:15 (NIV)
Some people are too lazy to lift a hand to feed themselves. Proverbs 19:24 (CEV)
Deep sleep: check. Shiftless: ouch. Yes, that describes how I feel most days, like a boat sloppily lolling from breaker to breaker with no one at the helm.

How do I get back in control of our little family boat? Grab the wheel and do something! Anything! Doesn't matter what it is - recording music, reading the kids a story, doing yoga or pilates, writing here, starting a craft with the kids - doing is what pulls me out of my funk.

Human nature is to slip back to the path of least resistance, and I feel it tugging every day. Do something productive for a while and then I just want to lay on my bed staring at the ceiling. This amazes me, because it is such a divergence from my normal. Normally I would be bored to death doing nothing, lacking an agenda for the day. I have pilot research coming up in a few weeks, a record I want to make, elaborate dinners I've planned out in my head. But I can barely get up the gumption to type.

Have you suffered from depression? Is the way I'm feeling similar to how you felt?

A day set aside for thankfulness

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins; he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness; and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins, as for the people, so also for himself. And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was. (Hebrews 4:15, 5:1-4)
I am thankful to call Christ my High Priest. Thankful that I am free, under His grace, to attend church wherever I feel called. I am thankful to have a new pastor who deals gently with me, one who uses his own story and sin to comfort those in painful places. The candor with which these pastors speak is evidence of their own reliance on God's grace and lack of pride. What a pleasure that God called us into this new community!

The weeks are full of graduation and birthday parties, holiday celebrations, and nights out visiting with my friends. By God's grace, I was able to sing karaoke for the first time stone cold sober. (I'm not usually that brave nor do I usually have that much self-control.) I have to take breaks, go lie on a bed with my music blaring through my ear buds. Shut out the parties and the people for little breaks to refresh. This helps the anxiety immensely because it never builds to the breaking point. Music and being alone are the finger in the dyke.

Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Romans 15:1

As I grow stronger, emotional pain begins to ebb away, poor coping skills fall away like scales as the new coping skills grow up with practice. Someday I will be strong enough to help others in their time of sorrow and weakness. I look forward to that day so much, and believe it is why God gave me the life story He did.

Excerpted from my Gratitude Journal, numbers 691-708:
691. Conquering
693. Walk to wrestle with God while on-call husband takes the kids for me.
695. Fireflies flickering, night bird sons, and lightening in the distance.
698. New computer!
700. Freelance pay covers an expensive car repair
702. Setting a date for my very first pilot study
704. Music comforts me in my sadness
706. Decision MADE to continue homeschooling after daughter was tormented at a birthday party
707. Singing karaoke with both Natasha AND Kathryn
708. Every day, a new follower - confirms what the Holy Spirit has prompted in my heart. Tell the truth, be transparent about your struggles, someone will be comforted by my story.