Sunday, February 24, 2008
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
I have a tendency to see things differently on the inside of my mind than they appear in reality. This is truly a valuable trait, seeing as faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. I am a visionary type, and love to get inspired by something: to get excited about a new idea. This is great! I love being this way, but... Occasionally when the way I envision things doesn't immediately match up with the way things are happening right now, I can be tempted to get upset. The answer to this today, I am thinking, is to simplify my expectations.
Why do I need to be upset that I can't find time in the day to have a "home ec." class in our homeschool, to do an in depth devotional and biblestudy with the kids, to get all the laundry done, and make fresh homemade sourdough bread? Why can't I just be satisfied that my daughter was at home with me today, and that she did a good math lesson?
Sometimes in depression when a person elevates their expectations, it can lead to disappointment, anger, a sense of failure, and more depression. Have you "failed" because you didn't get the house vaccuumed today, or the dishes washed? Nowhere is there a statute declaring that if you are not exceeding everybody else that you have failed. What about your life? What are God's expectations of you?
When you look in His word, you realize that He is not holding a high standard against you, He is stretching out His hand to you in love. Can you accept that? That right now, wherever you are, He has accepted you. He does not see you as a failure. However, if you want to build your confidence, and enjoy greater success each day, simplify what you are expecting of yourself. Maybe you can't drive everybody to hockey, soccer, baseball and ballet practice right now, but you could cuddle them beside you on the sofa and read to them. Maybe you didn't get all their laundry done today, but you could lay beside them at night and talk intimately for a few minutes when you tuck them in. Maybe you weren't the woman today that your husband thought you should be. Even so, you can do a great thing by forgiving him, and smiling tenderly anyway.
If you use this time to focus on doing a good job at what you can do, you will not feel so intimidated or dissapointed by what you aren't doing right now. Look to the Lord and to His Word for the help, strength, and guidance you need to live each day to the fullest. Reading your bible each morning will straighten your path for the day, and you will accomplish each of your simple, joyful expectations well. In time, as you grow, you will be able to add to those expectations with no stress, and no risk of disappointment or depression!
Monday, February 18, 2008
First of all, start the night before. Figure out how many hours of sleep you would need to have a reasonable day, then figure what time you need to be up in the morning, and count backwards. I know that I need at least seven, but for some of you it is probably more. If I need to be up at 6:30, then I have to go to bed by 11pm. No buts about it. Have a plan for the day ahead, even if just a short to do list to remind you of things like: make the kids lunches, do one load of laundry, go to the bank. If you know that there are really only a few things that you must get done tomorrow, then tomorrow won't seem so threatening. You can do a few things.
Next, try to get up by yourself if possible. It may not be, but if you can, try to get up even 15 minutes before your kids and spend that time reading your One Year Bible. This will make such a huge difference in your day, because you began the day on top of things, rather than waking up with the crisis already on top of you. If you just can't get up before everybody, then schedule that same quiet time for somewhere else during the day, and don't break it for anything! Between 1pm and 1:15 you will not answer the phone, check the email, change the diaper- you are having time with the Lord.
Eat or drink something soon after you get up to stabilize your blood sugar. Drink some green vegetable juice (this would be best) and eat something that with a bit of protein. No high fat, high sugar breakfasts here. Eat some fresh fruit, and maybe some plain oatmeal with raw honey. Don't make it a complicated thing- whole wheat toast with raw nut butter, and maybe an orange. Eat a mid morning snack of similar type, if you are prone to moodiness or hypoglycemia.
Now, shower, get dressed, fix your hair, and face, and put on your shoes. By this point you may be feeling tired, but don't go to bed yet! Do a load of dishes, and one load of laundry, and one thing off your to do list. Only one so far. This is not too big of a stretch for you, and you'll find that if you keep on keeping this routine, that it will make the rest of the day so much more pleasant that you will want to get up and do this stuff! If you are tired now, go back to bed and have a nap. Play the bible on cd quietly while you rest, or maybe some worship music. If you are not tired just yet, throw something in the crockpot for supper. Again, don't get too complicated- maybe just a roast and some potatoes and carrots, or a mixture of beans with tomato sauce and barbeque sauce to serve later with french bread. Keep it simple so it doesn't seem too big of a deal.
Well, what do you think? If this schedule looks completely overwhelming to you, then just start one step at a time, and add another step as you gain confidence. Let the Lord be your Help, and then just keep trying. Don't give up, you can do it! : )
Saturday, February 16, 2008
This week I am so grateful to know that God is with me. It was a week that I needed Him to carry me, and to know that even if I did not know the answers, or even where I was going, that He was with me, and it was enough.
I was once so confident that I knew. That I knew Him well, understood His thoughts, His feelings; heard His voice. Now I know that even if I know Him so little, even if I know Him in a way which does Him disservice, that He will never leave me.
As I look back over the years of my life, the many movie scenes that there are to replay, I can see one thing. I can see that He was there. It was His presence I felt when singing to the rafters of the Mennonite church. There was Something there, something bigger than myself, that filled the place above us with a spiritual sort of scent. Something you could almost catch a whiff of, but never really fix a name to.
It was His presence that made the moon shine so bright those nights when I slipped out after dark, His voice that made the quiet of the lonely night seem so still, so pressing. It seemed that the night could wrap me in its arms and touch me, and yet He was there. All my life. Like a beautiful face, expectant, waiting, listening.
He, would listen for me? Wait for me?
It was His spirit in me that wrote the songs, and His marvelous song that brightened each star at night. His presence kept me, protected me through terrible times that I thought I wouldn't live through. If you've found this blog because of a depression that you are going through, then you know what I mean. He saw me throught times that no human being should ever have to see. He was the Invisible Wall that kept me from going over the edge. And yet He waited.
He never forced Himself on me, never condemned me, only waited. He offered me his help, did all He could to guide my life, and then in one strategically arranged moment, the invitation came.
I was turning 22 that fall. I had been through 2 years of serious depression- the worst 2 years of my life! I had gone to prayer counselling as a last resort- a last chance at life. It wasn't hopelessness- I did believe it would work. But I also knew that I had tried everything else. This was it. This was all I had left.
And He was with me. I was a diver standing on the edge of a cliff, but I knew He was beside me. And the invitation was given- "did I want to follow Jesus for the rest of my life".
I knew in that moment that if I turned away from the life of sin that I had been leading, it would mean that forever, I would follow Christ. I had never really had that understanding before. I had gone to church since I was a pipsqueak- I believed in God. I had accepted Jesus as my Savior at a White Heart concert when I was 14. I knew the story: Jesus died on a cross for my sins, so I could go to heaven. I knew that.
But in that moment, the invitation went one layer deeper. It was as if my life stretched out before me, and I had to know that nowhere on that path would I diverge. Nowhere for the next 10 decades would I choose another path. This was the only way.
Even though I had chosen His path when I was 14, I had also chosen others. When I read the verse about honoring my father and mother, I was sure that it was just too hard. God couldn't have meant that verse for me, for my parents. Sorry God, I just can't do that.
When as a young adult I knew that His plan was for me to marry just one man, and to save my body entirely for him: for our wedding night, I chose a different path. We knew that we should wait till we were married, but Jed wasn't ready to get married, and I wasn't ready to give him up. I wanted our relationship the way I wanted it. Not the way that God wanted it.
So I "knew" Him, but I didn't really know Him. Didn't understand who He was. And let's face it, I knew and loved myself better.
But on that day in 1997, I saw the offer much more clearly. Would I enter into a covenant with Him, commit the rest of my life to Him, to live His way, and never choose another path?
I knew then that I would. I did. I knew that there was no other way.
Did I quit sinning? Have I lived the exemplary, visionary life that I saw stretching before me on that day? No. I haven't lived it perfectly, or sometimes even well. But there is a difference now. Now I don't quit repenting. I know now that I just don't know. That I was so very proud. And I know that He is with me, for all my failing and falling, He has never even backed off. He loves me, and He will never leave me.
Can you see His presence in your life? Would you like to see it now? Ask Him. He is right there.
Friday, February 15, 2008
To my great chagrin, I had developed a lactose intolerance over the last couple of years. I hope I leave it behind, but for now I've been on a quest for vegan cheese. Soy cheese often contains milk protein (casein), and is often very high fat, so I just wasn't eating cheese. It's one of those unique foods that you can't really substitute anything for, but you can come up with a replacement and then get used to it. That's how I found it was with milk. There's no pretending that Rice Dream tastes or acts like milk, but after not having any milk for quite awhile, the Rice Dream kind of grows on you.
So playing around in the kitchen today I came up with a substitute cheese sauce that I think would taste pretty good as a dip for crackers, or a sauce for a baked potato or rice. I was also wanting something high in protein, and low in fat. Really it would be fat free if you left out the tahini.
Low Fat Vegan Cheese Sauce
1 cup red lentils (the little orange ones used for dahl)
2 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (this is available at health food stores- make sure it is not brewer's yeast though)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon tahini
2 tablespoons course ground mustard (spicy, dijon type stuff)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
First I cooked the red lentils in the water, simmering slowly till very soft. Next, I added the rest of the ingredients and pureed it with a hand blender.
Now as a qualifier, I must say that it does not taste like cheese. But if you are interested in changing your diet as part of your healing from depression, then you will probable end up trying new foods! It's certainly cheaper to make than a high fat cheese sauce, so if you aren't convinced, there is no great loss.
What do you think?
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Home is where the heart is.
It is a mother that shapes the destiny of a child. Yes, the father has authority to do it too, but not in the same way that a mother does. No matter how devoted a dad, often Daddy has to go to work. He can't hold the baby against his breast, and infuse that child's spirit with destiny the way a praying mother can. Fathers lead children, they spearhead. Mothers intercede. Stay home- home is where your prayers ought to be.
Stay home. This is where children grow best. Too many children are institutionalized and spend their days in the stress of conflict, constant new circumstances and stumuli, and at a very young age begin exibiting the symptoms of stress disorders. You, Mommy, have the power to deliver your children. Stay home, and tuck them into bed at night. The same time every day, the same place every night.
Stay home. Home is where the marriage bed is. You are one flesh with your husband. Can you really fulfill that, truly be a suitable helper to him if your heart is drawn to goals that are separate from his? If you are serving an employer, a man who is not your husband, and being help meet to numerous people, but your husband comes home to arguing children who've been playing playstation alone all afternoon, a stove that is cold, a table that is empty, a lover who has a headache? Stay home.
Stay home because home is the center of healing. Jesus entered peoples' homes, and He taught them. He taught his disciples to choose one household and base their ministry from there- he taught Martha to sit at His feet and LISTEN to what He had to say. If you are ever to read your bible, to pray, to really get honest with God, it will be at home. Maybe you've been to church services where the Presence of God was so strong that you felt nearly swept into heaven. I have too. But wether you have, or you haven't: when you are alone and there is just you and God, can you be transparent enough with Him; real enough with Him to know that: alone, right here, right now, He is present. He will honor your prayers. Even if you can't see Him, He Himself is enough. At home alone, is where battles are won in a way that they aren't in a corporate setting. Don't stop going to church, but don't forget that God comes home with you! He wants to fill your life, your family, your children, your heart... How can He do that if you won't stop, sit still, stay home?
Stay home because Post Partum Depression is not God's plan. You don't need to go to the grocery store or the shopping mall every week. Some things will just have to wait. You don't need to go out and leave the baby, you need to stay home and create a peaceful environment for him. A baby is sensitive to his mother's anxiety levels, and you are sensitive to his. Your home must be a peaceful haven of rest where he can feel secure. He will cry less, and you will enjoy him more. Don't sacrifice this time of bonding with him because you can't cope with how things are- ask the Lord for help, He will come running to your rescue.
Stay home, because your husband cannot be on his own the person that he will if you are his helper. Help him with the paperwork, or anything else he's like to delegate. Don't run the show, but put something in the crockpot for him. Rub his back. Too extreme? Well, wouldn't you want someone to do it for you?
Stay home because you only have a limited number of years with your children, and you may waste them otherwise. Stay home because it is the centre of your ministry. It is the place that God in His wisdom has placed you to make a heritage, to serve your husband in his calling, to teach your daughter to be a powerful woman of God- to disciple your young sons one on one. To make a place of peace that others who don't know Jesus can come to and find rest- to see what family life can really be.
Stay home- stop going to soccer, and piano lessons, and swimming, church camp, and youth group. Do you know your children? Do you know who they know? Stay home because the devil and the world want to distract you, and to steal your children. Don't believe that? Then why are the activist groups that are against spanking also homosexual activist groups? Why else would the United States of America have an organization like NAMBLA- North American Man/Boy Love Association. It disgusts me even to have written it down. Satan knows that an unloved, undisciplined, unsupervised child is easier to get to, but the Father made provision in His word for us to disciple our children, and to see them flourish.
Make your children stay home. It is one thing to stay home and intercede for them, but you will not be able to be their all in all, their one on one, if you don't keep them with you.
Stay home, and go through the discomfort of leaving your old lifestyle. Yes, it may be a big change, but with God there is grace, and it will be worth it. Be relieved. You OUGHT to stay home.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
OK, this was just a really tough week.
My cousin passed away of cancer. I did not expect her to. It was a time to walk through what I knew was true: that it's right to grieve, but grief won't help. That I can't stay in a place of mourning, because my cousin is not dead. I know she didn't want to die, to leave her two children here, but I also know that now, she is more alive than she was here. She just arrived at the destination before we did.
Our words and our thoughts are so closely tied to what we feel, and this week it was hard to come up with words and thoughts that didn't make tears spring up, or that made me just want to lay down on the floor and not get up.
OK now, you came here to be encouraged and I'm telling you depressing stuff! But my point is, that circumstances can be bad (and you know this first hand) but you can still maintain inside your spirit a place that is at peace. You can keep inside of you a place where you are confident that no matter how bad it is, God loves you, and is working for your benefit. It doesn't always change the look of the circumstances, but it will lift you above them.
Today it may seem like you have no power over what your husband said to you this morning, or how many times the baby woke you up last night, or what your family's expectations on you are, or even how you felt when you woke up this morning! But you do have power to choose what you will think, what you will say, how you will feel.
When you think a thought, it ignites a series of synapses in your brain, and activates hormones, which are largely responsible for what we feel. If you scrunched up your eyebrows real mean-like, and said something nasty right now, as compared to forcing a HUGE grin, and saying "This is a great day!" I guarantee each activity would give you a different feeling. Sometimes people have to practice being happy. To some people, happiness comes naturally, and almost seems to be effortless. That's great! But in my case, I had to practice. I still do. Sometimes when I'm driving, I put on a big grin, and laugh outloud, because of how good it is for me. Remember, you are a salmon swimming up stream, in an outflow of misery. If you don't put on a happy face, and swim, you will end up getting washed out by the current.
Now it's not by our own power that we can be exuberant. The bible says that the joy of the Lord is our strength, and with good reason! God knew that sometimes we would run clean out of joy, and He gave us His. He knew that in this less than perfect world, we would need supernatural joy. Even if you are one of those people who are naturally happy, there will be times that it feels good to know that our God is a God of exuberant joy!
Father, today, in these circumstances, I rejoice in You. I thank You that:
61. I can pour out the contents of my heart like water before you, and know that You never get tired of listening- You never tune me out.
62. that Heaven is real, that my friends and family are not gone, not "passed away", but ALIVE, really alive.
63. my mother is a good grandmother, and loves her grandchildren. Thanks, Mom.
64. I can't really fail at doing laundry, because it is always giving me another chance. : ) Laundry is faithful.
65. there is the sound of guitar floating in from the kitchen (a self-taught, twelve year old homeschooler), and it gets better each year.
66. we have a shelf full of fresh farm eggs from my dad in the fridge. Thanks, Dad!
67. Jed has work to do today. (I think I ought to do a post on work!) : )
68. I don't have to go grocery shopping! Not that I mind food, I am thankful, but sometimes I get weary of the constant consumption of the North American lifestyle, and it feels good not to spend.
70. that my children have a church to go to, and friends to see. A new youth pastor at the church.
I'm grateful today, that I have something to give thanks for, and Someone to give thanks to.
Friday, February 1, 2008
I wanted to share with you a verse that I read today from the Message. I know I've posted on this one before, but somehow when I read it today in the Message, I could see it in a whole, fresh new way.
From John 15...
"You didn't choose Me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won't spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to Me, He gives you. But remember the root command: Love one another."
That's the part that struck me. In the midst of homeschooling, making meals, doing laundry, managing the whereabouts of my young-uns, making my husband a lunch... have I remembered to love? Have I remembered that this is what puts me on a relational level with God where I can ask Him for anything, and He will do it?
I've been reading through the early ministry of Jesus in my One Year Chronological Bible, and just loving it. Jesus is traveling around declaring "The kingdom of heaven is at hand!" In one of the foot notes, it said "the kingdom of heaven is here."
Can I take you down an exciting bunny trail here? It really does have to do with being healed of depression.
Jesus was preaching: the kingdom of heaven has arrived! How awesome, the arrival of a new King, a Savior- the kingdom of heaven has arrived! But wait, what does 'kingdom' mean? It means: a nation, a rank, or a dominion. Dominion means: sovereignty, or sphere of influence. So what Jesus was actually saying was: The Sovereign Nation of Heaven has Arrived!
How could that be? I know that religeously we've been taught that Jesus' phrase simply meant that "we can someday go to heaven". But when we look at the meaning of the words, we see that He was really saying something entirely different. And what does it mean for us? What does it mean to a woman struggling under the weight of depression?
I don't want to bog you down with intellectual mumbo jumbo, so if you are finding this hard to follow, just skim read, and bear with me.
Do you remember the old post about Adam? (Scroll down and find the part about the garden of Eden.) Well, Adam and Eve were the crown of the creation story. God (who is love) created a beautiful world, and also a very special garden, where Adam and Eve were to live. It was their outpost on earth- the place from which they ruled. You must remember though, that Adam and Eve were slightly different from us. They were created in a sinless environment, and created without sin! None of the rest of us, have ever had that privelage. You see, Adam and Eve were to reign over this pristine new world (a kingdom, a dominion) and to care for the animals that lived there. They were to protect their garden from an enemy.
OK, so we all know how this ends, right? It ends with Adam signing off his authority to rule, and handing it over to a decieving adder. A poisonous snake.
Adam had effectively lost all the authority that God had given him, and now the pristine world was plunged into darkness: chaos. And Adam was afraid. The Father had told Adam that if he ate of the tree of "Knowing Good, as well as Evil" he would die. Now we have mistakenly assumed that God meant that Adam would someday become a very old man, and end up in the grave, like every other man since. But that's not exactly correct, because Adam was a spirit being, as well as physical. He was an eternal spirit, who lived in a perfect, deathless physical body. No sin, no shame, no sickness whatsoever. The only reason any human being has ever died, is because his spirit left his body. A body with a spirit in it will live. There are several reasons that a spirit will leave the home of its physical body: namely that the body becomes unable to house a spirit (it's too damaged), or because the spirit decided to go. Have you ever come across that? Have you ever had a grandparent, who upon the death of the first grandparent decided that they didn't want to live anymore? Sometimes people do that, and they don't usually stay very long.
So back to what I was saying: Adam didn't just recieve a death sentence where someday down the road he would die a physical death. He had died spiritually. Before he ate the fruit, he was naked, and was unashamed. After he ate the fruit, he realized that he was naked. Something had changed. Adam had left the life of God which he knew in the beginning, and had entered into agreement with a snake. It was not what he thought it would be. There was no great revelation or likeness to God as the snake had promised. There was sin, and death, just as the Father had warned him.
God loved Adam and Eve- He couldn't bear to let them go- and he sacrificed an animal. A death in their place. Sin was punishable by death, but God put their sin on the animal, and instituted a plan for the redemption of Adam and Eve. A Real Spotless Lamb would come someday, but until then, all they could do was make the sacrifice. They were fallen flesh. Dead on the inside.
What does it have to do with the kindom of heaven, like we mentioned at the beginning? Well, now the world was under the dominion of the evil one. Adam no longer had control, and although he had entered into a covenant with God, he was now battling a terrible enemy. Often he was losing. This is the true root of all fear and depression and disease. The fact that the perfect had been turned over to a nemesis who hated all of mankind, and wanted to destroy them.
What it has to do with the "kingdom" is that a Savior had to come. A True Lamb. A Man had to come to undo what Adam had done. Adam had sinned, and had to die, but instead of going through with the eternal death of Adam and all of his descendants, the Father sent His own Son, His own Self. He sent Him as a perfect Man, One who was truly able to take Adam's place, as well as ours. When Jesus, the Savior, the Son of Adam appeared, he went around preaching that God's dominion had come. It meant that satan no longer was in authority. Just like an evil dictator, the serpent had been ousted. The true, sinless son of Adam (remember, Jesus was born of a woman, he was a man too),the One to whom all authority rightly belonged had come.
To prove what He was saying, Jesus healed the multitudes, and cast out demons. This was His way of showing that God was in control.
And so, I ask you, is God in control in your life? If you believe this, that Jesus came for your new life: your birth out of the old death sentence of Adam and into the new eternal life of the True Jesus, then you have entered the kindgom that is at hand. It is here now, God's rule, His domination.
The thing is, it doesn't just happen passively, because Jesus turned the authority over to us when He ascended. He gave man back his rightful authority, and he commanded that we go tell everyone that the kingdom of heaven had come- that it was here now! Now man has misused his authority right and left, and often allowed the devil to use it because of his ignorance of God, or simply his laziness. This was not God's plan. It was never God's plan for you to be depressed, or under the dominion of anything for that matter. God's plan was always for you to rule. Now that garden cannot ever be regained, but the "kingdom of heaven" is.
If you are a member of that kingdom, you need to know that there is no depression there. The kingdom of God is what Jesus displayed for us, and Jesus healed everyone.
Even if you are not feeling very healed right now, it doesn't matter. It is the word of God that determines what is true in your life, not your feelings.
You can be free- you can be out from under the dominion of depression. If you are in Christ, then you have been transferred out of the kingdom and dominion of the enemy, and into the kingdom and dominion of Love.