Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Timer is a Girl's Best Friend

A timer is a girl's best friend.

And by that I mean this . . .

If you are desperately trying to accomplish a goal that just seems TOO difficult, start by setting a timer for 10 or 15 minutes and then just "Go Forth and Do."  Just until the timer goes off.

You can do it!

I want to tell you how I do my devotions.  I set the timer for 10 minutes.  I read my Bible for 10 minutes ( plus the notes in the margins) and then the timer goes off.  I love my Bible because it has a weekly reading plan so all I really have to do is turn to the week and start reading.

Then there is the matter of praying.  Again, I set my timer for 10 minutes.  And I write my prayers down.  It just works better for me.  Over the years I have prayed in different ways:  30 minute walks where I prayed out loud ( I loved those walks);  prayers where I played worship songs at the beginning of my prayer time just to express my thankfulness and awe of God to Him.  You can choose verses to pray to Him.  You can write down the name of someone you love and then pray for them using the letters in their name, a character trait per letter.  This really makes you think about your loved one or yourself.

For example, my name,  Jennifer.

Lord, I pray that I would have a Joyful heart.  Lord,  I pray that I would do my work Earnestly.  Lord, please meet my Need.s  Lord, thank you that you will Never leave me or forsake me.  Lord, help me to be a woman of Integrity.  Help me to Forgive others as you have forgiven me.  Lord, Encourage me when I am downcast.  And help me to Rejoice in you always!  You are worthy to be praised, Oh Lord!

For sixteen years I have prayed my children's names off and on this way . . .you can see that it can be very easy to go over the timer!  Not a bad thing :)

I am going to add a third 10 minute part to my devotions: planning my day.  It would probably be even better if I took Saturday morning and planned the coming week but I'm not getting too far ahead of myself yet!

The planning part is just kind of saying "Okay, here's what our lives look like.  I have to do this and this and I see this issue . . .how can I address it?"

Here is what part of my "plan" for today looked like:

The Issue . . .

I think that one of the hardest parts of being a mother is promoting unity in the home and also a sense of everyone doing what is best for the family unit.

In my family there seems to be an innate belief that everything must be FAIR.

So, for example, if my 16 year old is too busy with homework or school activities to wash dishes at night, the 13 year old and the 10 year old do not believe it is "fair" that they be required to wash dishes.

I have come up with a solution for this, I believe.  It is going to look like this:

Fine.  You do not HAVE to do the dishes.  They'll get done eventually, but you DO have to surrender your screen time to me for the rest of the night.  Big Sis is not getting any fun screen time because she is doing homework.  So,  if you want your  fun screen time,  wash the dishes and you'll get it back.

So that's just a thought.

I sure hope this works!  Chores are a hard one around here!  In order for the kids to be disciplined Mama has to be disciplined and I am just kind of easygoing by nature . . .and that makes it hard to keep things ship-shape.  I am not a Tiger Mom.  I am a Jello Mom sometimes ( just sometimes!)  Sigh.  We'll see.  We will see!

Have a Wonderful Day!

~ Jennifer

New Year's Eve

I woke up this morning and drug my bleary self into in the kitchen.

I honestly felt like somebody had taken a gray marker and colored all over my soul.  Just down and "Bleh."

I mentally recited all the things that are wrong about my life.  I'll spare you the list!  And I asked God, for the thousandth time "Why!?!"

It would be so much easier if He'd just tweak a few things.  Just a few.  I'm not asking for much . . .

But then I sat down, opened my Women of Faith Bible and started to read.

And these words just jumped out at me:

Beware of discontent.  We will all face temptation to believe there is something better out there.  When  we accept that belief, we scorn the One who gives us our deepest intimacy and security.  Life on earth is flawed.  Nothing and no one apart from God can satisfy the aching vacuum in us caused by the fall;  only Jesus' love can fill the gap between what is and what was meant to be.

I suppose what shook me the most about my attitude after reading for a few minutes was that I was exhibiting and DO exhibit Eve's very brand of sin very often in my life without even realizing it.  And let's face it, that was the sin that started ALL the bad stuff on earth.  Super bad stuff we're talking about here!

The kids get upset and cross;  I get upset and cross, too.  I become discontent "If only we hadn't moved to a cold climate . . .we could go outside.  If only we hadn't moved here, we would have friends to call up on these days when we're going nuts inside . . .if only, if only, if only!"

I got to thinking about my New Year's Resolutions and I have decided to follow the lead of some other people . . .the idea of picking a word, not making a list.

My word is going to be "Morning."

Psalms 5:3  My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.

The thing is this:  if I don't get up and read my Bible and pray;  if I don't get up before my girls and spend some time reading my Bible, praying and then planning how the day is going to go, well, chances are I am going to start the day frazzled and just plain discouraged.

So this year I want to do things differently.  I'm not sure HOW I will transform into a morning person ( I have some ideas) but I need to do it.  Not just for me, but for all those people around me.

Happy New Year's Eve to You!

May you know exactly what you are called to work on this year!

~ Jennifer

Friday, December 27, 2013

For Messy People Only

I like living in a clean house.  I don't like making the house clean.  I find it tedious and annoying and sometimes I feel insulted by the fact that if I don't do it or tell someone to do it, it doesn't get done.

There are multiple mess makers and only one mess cleaner upper person?  How fair is THAT?  (Yes, I know these are wrong attitudes and I don't really believe them :)

Nevertheless, the fact remains:  for the house to be clean, someone must clean it.

So here are a few of the strategies I use to get my house clean;  before we go any further I must tell you that you should google Flylady to really learn how to do the house cleaning/organizing thing well.  She really helped me immensely and I am sure that some of what I am going to say right now is based on her principles.

But before I really do my list, let me say these few things.

 If you are a mother, delegate.  Do not try to do it ALL because you will only do housework and NOT the fuzzy, warm stuff like playing with your kiddos.

Also, try to remember that you are going to aim for clean, not perfect.

And it is easier to do chores if you have done your routine.  For me that looks like mornings:  doing my devotions, drinking my LightsOn and making sure my kidlets are doing what they are supposed to be doing.  Flylady recommends getting dressed to shoes.  The idea behind that is that you are more productive if you look nice.

So do what you need to do in order to go forth and conquer.  But once you are ready to conquer, here are some tips.

1.  Clean clockwise or counter-clock wise around your kitchen.  Start at the sink/dishwasher.  End at the floor.

2.  Tackle 5 things at each part of your task before moving on to the next item waiting to be cleaned.   For me that might look like this:   Take five glasses out of the dishwasher.  Then pick up 5 things off of the counter  ( book, pen, syrup, notebook, and glass that needs to be washed).

Variations of this method:  set the timer for 5 minutes or 15 minutes and clean in that circular rotation.  If your house is truly drowning in stuff you might need to limit yourself to an hour and then take a break or take a break after 45 minutes and then go back in.  There have been times when a task has seemed so daunting that I have told myself that I would only work on it for 15 minutes and then I'd give myself the option of doing something else.

Yesterday I had SUCH a pile of dishes that I had to set the timer for 15 minutes and work on dishes for 15 minutes and THEN pick up 5 things off of every surface.  Go ahead, tweak the program so it works for you.

3.  Listen to something you enjoy whether it be  music or a great speaker.  I like to fold laundry while watching TV.

4.  If your kids are old enough to be left alone and clean . . .try this:  tell them they can have XYZ great thing ( watch a movie, a homemade treat, whatever your kid likes) if they accomplish XYZ cleaning goal while you are gone ( even if you are just working on laundry in your room).  This removes from you the temptation to nag and anger them.  They also tend to get along better when Mom isn't right there . . .I hope!

Happy cleaning!


~ Jennifer

Friday, December 20, 2013

Lemonade, anyone?

As I write this it is almost Christmas.  I'd really prefer to writing about fun ways to celebrate the Christmas season with your family.

But right now I am more about survival than celebration.

We got thrown some lemons in November . . .maybe you've heard the saying "When life hands you lemons, make lemonande'?

I was really disappointed by the lemons.  I had my own personal ideas about how things were supposed to go and they did not include lemons.

I have friends who are dealing with their own lemons:  one friend is recovering from a massively invasive surgery;  another has to find housing NOW in a town that doesn't really seem to have any place for her to live.  A third friend is very ill during her pregnancy and dealing with extended family that make things worse, not better.

The longer I live, the more I realize that we all have to learn to deal with lemons.

For a while I dealt with my lemons by stuffing them into a cupboard.  Lemon bothering me?  Pick it up, chuck it in the cupboard.  Then one day all the lemons fell out of the cupboard and some of them were pretty gross from their time in the cupboard and not much fun to clean up.

So now I am trying hard not to stuff lemons in the cupboard, but since it was such a habit for such a long time, I still put lemons in the cupboard sometimes . . .

But this is what I am trying to do with my lemons:

1.  Bring them to God.  I try to read my Bible and pray every morning.  For awhile I was really good at this.  Then I got whacked in the head really hard by some lemons and decided that my Bible reading and prayer was not working so I stopped doing it.  But I read this book by Phillip Yancy on prayer and I found out that I'm not the only person who has prayed and not gotten any warm fuzzy feelings from God.  He spoke about quite a few people who prayed for years before they got the warm fuzzies.  One lady prayed for 20 years, faithfully before God really showed Himself to her.  Now I don't understand that, but I am going to keep reading my Bible and praying anyway because I believe it is the right thing to do.

2.  Talk to my husband about my fears.  I did this yesterday morning.  It helped.  I was not dramatic and I find that talking about things in a vague matter is unhelpful.  I try to be very specific about what is bothering me and I try to bring it up when he is somewhat relaxed and receptive to talking about "stuff".  Many times I find that I am imaging the very worst case scenarios and he is able to bring things into a better light and then I'm able to be a much nicer mom and wife because I can give the people I love my full attention instead of only part of my attention because the other part is mulling over the trainwreck that I am afraid our lives will become . . .because I am imaging the worst case scenario.

3.  I am trying to take care of myself physically.  I need to be more intentional in this area but I'm making baby steps.  Hubby and I found a really great nutritional supplement and I notice a big difference on the days when I use it and on the days when I don't.

4.  After I do those three things I feel like I should just do what I'm supposed to do that day.  So I dive into my work for the day and I give it my best . . .today part of that to-do-list is concentrating on Christmas and how to celebrate it!

And that, my friends, is my recipe for making lemonade out of lemons.

~ Be well,


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Why I've Been Gone

Just a quick note to let you know why I've been gone.

My dear Hubby had to have back surgery twice.  We went into survival mode, I guess you'd call it.

He's doing way better now and probably shouldn't be doing as much as he is.

In the meantime I am trying to get the rest of the family, including myself, back into a routine of sorts while "doing Christmas" . . .you know, baking, buying presents, etc, etc.

So look for me after Christmas.

I've always wanted to write . . .ideally a book that would resonate with other people and show them some answers, let them know that they are not alone . . .and I thought at one time that I could.  But then life happened and things got busy.

And sometimes I think that there is so much out there that no one really needs to hear my voice anyway.  But I still feel the need to put my thoughts into black and white every now and again and I'm writing this because supposedly someone is reading what I'm writing . . .if the blog stats are to be believed! :)

Have a wonderful December!  And since this is a Christian blog, I'll say it:  a Merry Christmas, too.

~ Jenn

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Why Mothering Is Hard

Because it is unpredictable.

I was going to take my kids out today.  We were going to have some fun, see a new-to-us bookstore that we'd just discovered the other day . . .I thought maybe we'd pop our heads into some of the little stores downtown that I've never been in.  Have a cup of soup because its coldish outside.

Instead, Number 3 started throwing up in the middle of the night and has been on the couch ALL day long.  Poor thing.  She finally started keeping some fluids down and actually got excited about some pictures of cute animals on my phone but for most of the day she's been absolutely miserable.

Because part of Momming is enforcing.

And it stinks to be the enforcer.  Who wants to make their kid mad?  Who wants to get the death glare from their child?  Nobody.  But that's what Mom's do.  We make them do their homework.  We make them try vegetables.  When the choose to act inappropriately, its our job to correct them.  Not fun.  But a good Mom cares enough to keep her kid from being a monster.

Because there is a lot of stuff to maintain.

We gotta feed these kids, make sure they have clean clothes to wear.  We have to make sure there are clean dishes to eat off of and that there is shampoo and conditioner.  We are the ones who need to make sure that the money stretches as far as it can because the kiddos aren't interested in that.

Because Mothering doesn't automatically come with a huge a cheering section.

Some people might have that . . .but I haven't met any of them.  :)  I personally am working on building my  physically close "village" . . .my support system.  I have a great long distant support system, but I need people close by, too.  Someone to pick my oldest up when the youngers are sick and I can't leave because hubby is out of town.

Your support system, your village . . . that's where you get cheered on, from other people who understand what you are going through and see what you're doing.  But in America that's not an automatic perk of motherhood.  Getting that cheering section is hard work because it requires building authentic relationships ( where you cheer on your friends, too!) and that can be hard for so many different reasons.

But anything worth doing is going to take effort.  And we're not doing this mothering thing because we want Joe Blow from down the street to say "Isn't she a great mom!"

We mother well because we love our children and want the best for them.

So if you are mothering and it feels HARD, remember you are doing REALLY important work.  There'd probably be something rather wrong if it was super easy.  Like maybe you might be raising robot kids that had been swapped for your kids!


Enjoy the journey!

~ Jennifer

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Teaching Kids to Be Thankful

So let's do a little imagining.  Just close your eyes and picture you and the people you love the best on  your dream vacation.

Where are you?  At the beach?  In the mountains?  Maybe you are at Disney . . .hey, I don't know!  It's your fantasy, not mine.

And everybody's laughing, right?  Smiling from ear to ear?  I thought so.  :)

Attitude really IS everything.  And today I want to just spend a few minutes telling you about one of my favorite attitudes:  thankfulness.

I can't remember when we decided that family dinners were going to be a tradition at our house, but they are.  No TV, no electronic devices and we all hang out in the same room.  ( It used to be around a table but since Hubby hurt his back we've been in the living room)  By the way, google family dinners and you will be SHOCKED at how many benefits they offer the modern kid.  Really a good idea.  But anyway.

We do family dinners.

And we talk.

Let me be honest.  Sometimes people are tired and crabby.  Sometimes they are distracted.  But guess what?

We've come up with a way to beat up the blahs.  It's not original with us (without taking the time to google it and confirm, I want to say that monks invented this concept).

Each person says what their highlight for the day was.  And each person also tells what their lowlight was.  If you have the time and inclination, tell everybody something that you learned that day.

It looks something like this:

Mom:  "My highlight was the way you guys cleaned up the living room with such a great attitude!  You worked together so well!"

"My lowlight is that Daddy's back hurts."

Child 1:  "My highlight is that I get to sing alto at the next choir concert!  We had auditions and I got the part I want!"

"My lowlight is that Audrey is still causing drama!"

There is something about everyday acknowledging the good in your life that makes things beautiful.  It makes your children beautiful.  Now, as for the lowlights . . .those are super important, too.  Why?  Because through those questions you learn bits about their life that you would NEVER have heard about otherwise.  And you can offer empathy and occasionally, solutions, from everybody.

And the great thing is that it becomes so easy and natural to share with each other after you've done this a bit . . .after all, you can be just as shallow or deep as you like.  It's fun to include visitors, too.

Here's to you and your loved ones and your family dinners!

~ Jennifer

Monday, November 11, 2013

What's Thankfulness Got to Do With Faith!?!

I am in a Bible Study group.  It meets every week and we are reading Lord, Change My Attitude Before It's Too Late by James MacDonald.

Perhaps I should explain that faith is one of those concepts I've always found challenging.  I suppose I'm not unusual in that regard . . .don't we all like to be able to explain to ourselves and others why things work the way they do?

There was a time in my life when I bemoaned my lack of faith;  I would say things to God like this "I'm sorry God!  I wish I had more faith but I just don't and I don't know how to fix it, either!"

I thought this way for decades.  I know I did because I can remember the first time I really agonized over my lack of faith . . .I knew that to please God I needed faith and I was afraid I just didn't have it.

But what's a girl to do?  I just kept going.  I went to church, I read my Bible, I prayed.  I was thankful for the good things in my life.

There were times in my life when bad things happened and it was okay.  I mean, it really was fine.  Like when our house burned down.  I remember standing outside of our house in a crowd of people who were just plain gawking.  They'd seen the smoke and the flames from a distance and they'd come to watch.

I stood among them and watched as though it wasn't my bedroom window that the flames were billowing out of, as though I didn't know every picture on the wall, every quilt, every book on the shelves.

And I said something like "Okay, God.  This is too big for us to fix.  You're going to have to do it."  Yep, faith.

He was extremely good to us.  God's people surrounded us and provided the money and the resources to get us back on our feet.  The one thing that I really mourned was the loss of some pictures . . .scrapbooks I hadn't been able to get out.

A few months after the fire Hubby and I drove out there and all of the wreckage had been bulldozed into this massive pile.  In retrospect what I did was stupid,  but I climbed that pile.  And I found the charred remains of my scrapbooks!  Not everything was able to be saved, but I was able to peel the top and the bottom off . . .and what was in the middle . . .not the sides, mind you, was still there.  It was awesome.

During that time it was very easy to be thankful as people gave to us.  It was easy to have faith that things would turn out the way they should.

Without going into all the sordid details, let me just say that I've had others times in my life when being thankful wasn't really very easy.  ( and can I just say that this seems to go in cycles?  I have times when being thankful is SO easy and then there are the times when it is SO hard.)

For me, being thankful had to become a conscious choice.  I had to choose to wake up on cold, dreary days and look for something to be thankful for.  There's always something . . .but sometimes you have to search!  Believe me, I understand.

So when I read these words ( from page 56 of Lord, Change My Attitude Before It's Too Late ) I began to realize that . . .hey, this is pretty amazing and cool.  I have lived this formula before and not realized it. But it worked!  And it can work again!

I also realized that I have NOT lived this formula before and during that time I was miserable and my family was probably pretty miserable, too.  Because whether I want to admit it or not, my attitude/condition does make their lives a lot easier or not so easy.

Anyway, the words from page 56 go like this:

"Only when we recognize God as our gracious provider do we comprehend our need for God and begin to express faith in Him.  That is a very significant point.  Faith grows in the soil of thankfulness."

So basically, if you are suffering from a lack of faith in your life;  if you are angry at God for allowing bad things to happen to you ( I have BEEN there.  I understand!), then start looking for the good.  And say "Thank You!" to God.  ( we know He's real because it doesn't make sense to have a world that exists without a designer . . .Romans 1:19-20)

Say "thank you" for the beauty around you.  It's there.  You might have to look a bit, but it's there.

Say "thank you" for the physical things you can do.  My Hubby is suffering from sciatica right now.  It's really horrible.  But thank God, he hasn't lost control of his bowels.  That's one of the side effects he might have suffered.  I have always taken the ability to go potty when I want and where for granted.  But guess what?  It's not to be take for granted!

The ability to read!  To search on your computer!  To type!  All of these things I take for granted are, in fact, HUGE blessings.

And if your poor brain is too tired and too tormented to focus . . .that's okay, too.  God knows you want to do your best.  He's knows that if you had the strength to think clearly you'd be praising to the moon.

Just enjoy knowing that His will for you is not negative, horrible thought loops.  It's faith building thankful loops . . .

And if you want to think His way, He'll help with that.

Much Love,

~ Jennifer

Friday, November 8, 2013

Bipolar and Fear

Today I was pretty useless for a while.  I did straighten the house, make a pot roast and do the bare minimum as far as homeschooling my sweet girl was concerned.

But I did a lot of laying on the couch in my pajama's feeling like a slug.  My throat hurt.  I think I have an infection in my lymph nodes.  I am tired.

About four o'clock my darling husband called and asked me to bring him something.  I drug myself off the couch and put on jeans instead of my fuzzy PJ pants.

I figured that as long as I had to go to him I might as well stop at the grocery store and pick up some necessary items.  But as I drove I realized that I was doing that "tearful" thing.  I didn't even have the "bad thought" loops going on.

And the fear came rushing in.  It sounded like this:  "What if my bipolar comes back?  It can't come back.  I can't take another episode.  It's not good for me and it's no good for anybody else, especially with Hubby facing physical therapy and maybe back surgery.  I can't lay on the couch and be sad and non-functional."

The next thing that I said to myself was "Well, my forum friend recommended the Living Well With Chronic Illness class and it's being offered here soon."

Fear number two raised it's head:  "But I have no friends here to watch my kids ( we've just moved.)  I'd better not."

Fear number three said "You don't want to go to that class.  You're going to walk in and people are going to be like  "Look at you!  You're young!  You don't have anything REALLY wrong with you!  What's a little depression!  It's no big deal."

Fear number four said "You can't even ask your few new friends about finding childcare because then you'd have to go into why and they'd be like . . .eh, this girl is not a good person to be friends with.  Bipolar is a BAD word."

So here I am . . .feeling like eh, if I reveal my real self to the world, I get rejected.

If I don't reveal my real self, I get worse and then I really WILL get rejected.


"Hello, darkness, my old friend. . . "

I can't do the darkness.

So tonight I'll do my best to talk to Hubby and we'll figure something out.  I'm not going to risk going into the dark place again.

An interesting thing happened when I walked into the grocery store.  I walked the aisles, looking at this, picking this up, doing some mental math.  I joked with a couple of people.  I smiled at the cashier.  Basically, being out changed my attitude.  I was "okay" in those moments.

And I walked out knowing that I HAVE to make myself get out of the house . . .yep.  Get out of the house and face my fears.

I'll let you know how it goes.  And here's to you getting out and facing your fears!

Be Well,

~ Jennifer

Thursday, November 7, 2013

My Pain, My Problem

Not really.  My pain IS my problem, yes.

But it is also my husband's pain;  it's my kids pain.

That's why self-care is so necessary.  Because it isn't really "all about me."  It's all about me being the me who can be there for others.

We are hard-wired for connection.  That's what science tells us.  But when we are in pain, we isolate.

I have felt before that I should not be around others when I am "at my worst."  I feel that I have nothing to offer.  And maybe I don't have much to offer, except that being around other people helps me to heal and then . . .then I can be the person I want to be.

I'm not sure why I feel the need to dash these words off. . .maybe because the days are shorter and colder now and I want to just stay inside and isolate myself from the rest of the world and I know that's just not an option if I want to be the best me that I can be.

Here's to you being the best you that you can be, too!

~ Jennifer

Monday, November 4, 2013

On Hope, and a bit more of my story ( Part Eight)

"Hope" is the thing with feathers - 

by Emily Dickinson

Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -

And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -

That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -

Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.

This is a favorite poem of mine;  I can't remember where I first heard it . . .but now and then it pops into my mind and I always find it comforting.

I spent some time this morning reading from last years journal entries at the this time.  They brought me to tears.  I was in a bad place and didn't know it until it was right on top of me;  then I knew.  When the suicidal loops started playing, then I knew.

I suppose some of you are wondering how I could "let myself" get to such a place after having a major episode.

Well, the answer to that is ignorance.  When I was first diagnosed my doctor got me samples of the medicine I needed.  When we moved out of state I didn't know how to afford my meds.  I was rather ignorant about how to find help and not clear on what exactly I needed to be the best me possible . . .so I decided that I'd find a doctor to help me get off my meds and see how that would work out for me.

I asked for help weaning off of my anti-depressant.  I knew I was supposed to stay on my mood stabilizer.  But I was shocked and surprised to find that I had weaned off both at the same time and GUESS WHAT?  I was sane!

I felt so good that I just went med-free.  I tried to eat healthy (got on a good fish oil supplement!) and I joined an online bipolar support group.  I made friends and positive choices.

And you know what?  It worked for about seven years.  And then I crashed again, pretty hard.  

Second time around, last year, I found a clinic that really helped.  For the first time in my life I got a therapist.  Loved her.  She was great.  And she looked in my eyes and told me that 100% of all mentally ill people go off their meds.  That was pretty encouraging, knowing that I wasn't the only person who had "relapsed" because I felt pretty stupid ending up in the same spot again.

But now we're in a new spot again and once again I'm doing the find help again dance.  It's a preventative measure.  I'm really not bad at all right now.  A little grouchy, a little absentminded.  Somewhat sad if I don't keep super busy or engaged.

And I have hope.  I am not as bad as I was last year.  And last year wasn't as bad as my first episode.

It's a matter of understanding;  I got sick last night.  Nauseous.  Hubby looked at me and said "What did you eat today?"

"Emmm . . .a small bowl of pasta about noon . . ."

Well, no wonder I was sick.  I stop eating when I'm depressed.  I just don't think about food.  

I've also been sleeping terribly because my Hubby and Baby are both sick.  I can't sleep unless they are both sleeping well . . .

And guess what?  We've had some stress going on.  Hubby has been in so much pain for the past almost month.  Poor guy!  It's not his fault, but when one of us hurts, the other one hurts/gets stressed, too.

So add that all up:  poor appetite, poor sleep, major stress.

It's no wonder that I'm feeling like things are about to go to pieces.

But I know things will be okay.  We've been through bad stuff before and come out okay.  This will be another rough patch that we sail through . . .roughed up and seasick, but still afloat;  and the sun will come out again, the sea will smooth again and Hope, the little bird with feathers, will sing her sweet song to us again.

~ Be Well,


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Staying on Sane; Just another thing to mark off this week's to-do-list

This week I will go to my nice general practitioner's office.  I'll sit there and I'll tell her that I think that I need to talk to somebody who knows a little bit more about mental health.  Maybe a psychiatrist or maybe a therapist.  Someone who can help me figure out what this tearfulness means and how I need to stop it from escalating into something else.

I have changed.  I no longer say to myself "What is WRONG with you?  What are you doing wrong?  You shouldn't be crying."

Now I say, "Hmmm, better get this checked out.  You promised yourself you'd never let this happen again ( this being the suicidal mess I became before)."

It's a little discouraging.  I don't want to be a mess.  I want to be happy, upbeat, cheerful.  I've done my part ( except, I admit, I have not exercised lately.  I'm really thinking I'll get my boots on and go out soon.  But Little Girl has been really fussy and I haven't been able to put her down . . .so, that is a problem.  Also, Hubby is in a lot of pain.  Sciatica.  Google it.  You'll see how awful it is.  So I've been trying to ease his troubles the best I know how.)

I am reading my Bible, listening to upbeat music, taking my vitamins.  But I'm feeling sadness, like a low-grade fever.

So anyway, off I go to ask for help.  Again.

So help me, God.  I need it.  Gotta stay sane.  That's my calling.  :)

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Sacrifice of Praise

My Bible Study leader asked me to write about what this phrase meant to me.  So here goes.  I hope there's something helpful in here for you.  :)

After reading it I was reminded that even Jesus had to get away from the clutter and chaos of His day to day life.  If you are feeling unable to function where you are, maybe a bit of change is just what you need.  Twice I remember being so unable to focus, so distraught that my Hubby took my arm and we just went for a short drive.  It was like it shocked me out of the "bad" place I was in for a little while and made things go back to the proper perspective.

All my spinning thoughts couldn't get me out of the hole of despair that I was in . . .it took someone else caring enough to boot me out of my bedroom and into the land of the living.

If you don't have someone like that, take the first step towards finding someone.  Google an online support group.  Call a suicide hotline if you are really in crisis.

Reach out to NAMI or a church in your community.

And be well.


~ Jenn


WHY of making the “Sacrifice of Praise” personal.

If praise was always easy, always natural, the words “sacrifice of praise” wouldn’t be in the Scripture.  

Sacrifice implies giving up something important.  It sometimes hurts to give up what we value the most.

So you could say that sometimes sacrifice equals pain. 

I think that before you can make the “sacrifice of praise” personal, you have to identify the most important thing in your life . . . the thing that perhaps God has allowed to be taken from you.  Maybe, if you are a better person than I am, you are glad to give up the things that you hold dearest to you . . .me, I'm not quite there yet.

I think that if you’d asked me what the most important thing in my life was ten years ago I would have said it was God first, then my husband and my babies.  

I never dreamed that there was something else that was so important that I took it completely for granted:  my sanity.

I lost it for awhile.  It was horrible.  And when I got my brain back, I discovered that I’d lost some of my faith and ability to trust God as well.   In a sense, it felt exactly as if I’d lost God.  I didn’t “lose” Him, but it felt that way.  So I had to decide that He was real again, and after I decided that He was real I had to decide that He was, indeed, the good God that He said He was. Praising Him had been natural prior to my breakdown but it sure wasn’t anymore.  Praising God became a sacrifice because every time I chose to approach God I was making myself vulnerable again.  I was saying “I trust You.  Even though You allowed me to lose my sanity for a bit, I trust you.”

The HOW of praise.

So for me, praise comes deliberately.  It comes on the days when I choose to turn my face towards God.  I turn my face towards God in a variety of ways:  Bible reading, journal, prayer-walking, singing and listening to Praise and Worship  music.

The WHEN of praise.

Ideally, praise happens first thing in the morning.  That’s when I like to grab my notebook, Bible, study book and a cup of coffee.  I start my timer and I try as hard as I can to get some time in with God before I’m interrupted.  But praise also occurs during the daytime when I find myself thanking God for something good in my life, when I am caught off guard by the beauty in the world around me . . .when I remember, again, how fortunate I am for things such as the breath in my lungs, the strength in my legs as I walk, and the joy in my baby’s hearty laughter.  I’ll be honest.  There are times when I can’t praise.  I am too angry or too upset.  That’s when I have to get out of that situation:  eat something because I haven't eat yet that day, leave the house, go somewhere peaceful and beautiful.  And then I can be alone with God and reflect on His goodness.  When I start to be able to think clearly, away from the clutter and chaos, that’s when my heart can really praise God properly.

The WHERE of praise

Praise happens wherever a Christian is, if he/she is living for God.  Much of my praise happens right at my kitchen table because that is where I do my devotions.  That’s where my notebook sits open and I take the time to jot down random “God” thoughts throughout the day.  It also happens in the car, when I point out something especially unique and wonderful about our surroundings, or a memory we have of other times, places and people.  We need to remember that “every good and perfect gift is from above and cometh down from the Father of Lights . . .”  ( James 1:17)  And of course it happens at church when my Christian brothers and sisters raise their voices together to praise their God.

The WHY  of praise

We were created to praise.  That’s the why of praise.  Yes, God loves it. But part of the reason He loves it is because praise does something wonderful for us.  It takes our minds off of our problems.  When we’re  praising God, we aren’t thinking about our problems.  When we’re praising God we aren’t thinking about how we’re all that and a basket of fries.  God wants us to praise Him for our own good.  He wants us to revel in the peace it brings us when we acknowledge that He’s in charge and that we know that He’s got us in His hands and nothing can snatch us away . . .

Praise is my gift to God, but it’s His gift to me, too.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Let's Talk Feelings (and God)

One of the greatest challenges I faced during and after my first episode was a lack of feeling.

I could KNOW something in my head, but not feel it.

After my first episode and the "good meds" started working there was still some "numbness" going on.  I still wasn't quite right, even though I was so much better. ( I still remember a friend that I met after the episode telling me that she knew something was off when we first met.  Ugh!  How embarrassing!  She waited three years before mentioning this because it took me that long to confide in her about my breakdown.)

So I KNEW Hubby loved me but I still felt completely isolated in my own shell of skin sometimes;  I went through the motions of loving him, too, but sometimes the feelings just weren't there.

To further illustrate my point, let me tell you about something Hubby did for me.  He took me on a beautiful cruise.  This was my first time in the Caribbean, my first time on a boat on the ocean.   I remember standing on the deck of the ship just outside of Jamaica in a flowing blue sundress . . .seeing the blue of the ocean, the green of the island beyond and feeling NOTHING.  It was horrible.  I knew that I should be like those women on TV on the beaches in THEIR flowing sundresses . . .full of the desire to dance and to stroll happily through the surf, grinning from ear to ear and just amazed at the new adventure that we were about to embark on . . .and I could feel nothing.

This made me ANGRY  (numbly angry, but still).  Oddly, anger was something I could do.  Resentment.  Bitterness.  I could have those things.

Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

I'm not sure when the breakthrough occurred.  There was never a magic moment when suddenly the scales tipped and all of the sudden I was feeling again.  It was so slow it was imperceptible.

But I've got feelings again!  Yay!

Part of the reason that losing my feelings was so devastating to me is because as a Christian, when I read my Bible, when I pray, all of the sudden concepts, ideas will jump out at me.  Helpful things.  Encouraging things.  I get excited.

All day long I'll have this thought that will sustain me.  I'll go back to God in little phrases "Thank you, God, for the sunrise!  Thank you, God, for letting us find the things that were stolen from us!  That was amazing.  Wow.  I still can't believe how that worked out . . .give me wisdom, God, for this thing with my daughter.  I'm sorry for my bad attitude.  Please help me figure out how to fix it."  And you know, He does.

But all of what I've just described to you in the two paragraphs above went missing when my brain chemistry went wonky.

I could forgive just about everything else, but losing THAT made me so mad.  If I wasn't a CHRISTIAN wife and mother, who was I?  Were all the people who lived without acknowledging God daily really on to something?  Some of them were very kind, good people.   I began to doubt that God even really existed.  I chose not to remember all the good things He'd done for Hubby and I over the years.  I chose not to try to read my Bible and pray.  It was too painful, because what if God didn't show Himself again?

I did continue to go to church.  I am a social person.  I like to talk and I like to get out of my house (hard to do when you don't work and you don't have excess funds for things like going to the gym or out to eat/out for coffee with friends).  This is part of what drew me back towards God, like a fisherman reeling a reluctant fish into his boat . . .I flopped wildly and protested with all my might.  But He caught me anyway, and now its like He's keeping me in an awesome saltwater tank with other really cool fish.  I know God again.  And I can read my Bible, pray . . .the whole nine yards.

I think the lesson I learned from all of this was DON"T stop reaching for what you know you want to feel.  Keep going outside.  Keep acting like you can feel love for the people who love you.  Go to church ( and find a GOOD one where the people are friendly and reach towards you, not a cold place where you are ignored).

Realize that just because you can't feel the feelings, it doesn't meant they aren't there.  Some things lie dormant until the sunshine touches them.  You'll get sunshine on your soul again, I promise.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Why I Need Friends

Because two heads are better than one, because I can't be in two places at once and because, by George, I like to know that I'm not alone in this journey called life.

Two heads are better than one.  I'll confess:  I can't always figure things out.  Like last week when my daughter wanted to buy a ball gown and the woman with the gown was coming an hour towards me and I was going an hour towards her.  Where do you try on a ball gown!?!  The lady with the gown suggested a coffee shop. Ummm.  No.

But I didn't have any better ideas . . .I hung up the phone and started calling my friends.  Who called their friends!   And one brilliant mom told me what to do.  We ended up in Kohl's where we tried the dress on with wraps ( and we did buy a wrap from Kohl's!)

Friends.  They just know STUFF that you can't even find on pinterest. :)

Also, if you live very long at all you are going to run into a situation where you WILL need an extra pair of hands.  I remember the day I couldn't pick my son up from school because I got stuck in traffic.  The unhappy voice at the other end of the phone made me realize that, eh, this was not okay.  I needed someone who could pick my kiddos up if something happened.  Just a friendly couch to sit on while they did homework . . .someone who wouldn't mind sharing a few after school snacks with my kids . . .sounds like a small thing but in reality, it is huge.  I starting looking for friends immediately after that happened.  And you know what?  It wasn't long before I got a phone call.  A friend of mine had a sick baby who had FINALLY fallen asleep on her lap.

I picked up her oldest child and brought her home . . .peeked in to make sure that my friend was okay.  It was easy enough for me and REALLY wonderful for her because disturbing a sick baby is just torture for mom and baby.

And lastly . . .I need to know that I'm not alone.  I check in with my online buddies daily.  I call my mom and sister on a pretty regular basis . . .and every time we move ( which is quite often, unfortunately), I look for real, in the flesh type friends.

This is because I need someone to walk with;  someone to hang out with at the pool while our adorable kiddos swim.  I need to know that someone else's dog jumps the fence.  I need to know that someone else accidentally missed out on that great sale last week.  And I need to know that someone else has gone through the really tough stuff and come out the other side okay.

This is what I find when I look for friends:  there's great people out there who want to share their lives.  Life is good, but its even better when its shared.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Three Qualities that Keep Me Alive and Stable

Before I get started, let me say that I am very fortunate that my doctor was able to find a magic drug that fixed my brain chemistry.  Not everyone is that fortunate, but I pray that someday everyone will have access to brain chemistry that lets them be in control of their brain the way they need to be to make decisions,  to understand what's going on in their heads and to flourish.

1. Acceptance.  I had to accept that I have bipolar II and that I have to have help to stay stable.
2. Dedication.  I have to keep working at staying healthy.
3. Vision.  I have a vision of what I'd like my life to look like and that motivates me to stay stable.

Acceptance. How did I get to the point where I accepted that I have bipolar II?  I think it took reading a lot about bipolar and joining a bipolar support site for me to be educated to the point that I understood what bipolar is.  Eventually I realized that yes, I feel the same way as other people who carry this label.  If I hadn't accepted that I had the disorder, I wouldn't have sought help and I might have become discouraged to the point of hopelessness.

Dedication.  I had to decide that I was dedicated to staying well.  For awhile it was easier to beat myself up than to build myself up ( I had worn some very destructive thought patterns into my brain), but the more I learned about what felt good and what didn't . . .the more I became determined that I didn't have to live in the gray place if I had the meds that would allow my brain to function.  I could obviously choose to think whatever I wanted when my brain wasn't broken.  I could still be negative with a brain that could concentrate.  I had to make a conscious choice that I was going to be positive and do positive things even when I woke up and was in a bad mood.   There was the temptation to believe that it was okay to be blue because I had bipolar BUT no, it is NOT okay because it can spiral out of control.    It's probably even more important for mentally ill people to guard their thoughts than it is for "normal" people.  I began to realize that I could allow myself to stay in that bad place and sink even lower, or I could choose to think on positive things and get myself busy and distracted so that the bad thoughts were banished.

Vision.  The thing about getting to the point that you no longer want to live is this:  you realize that you could "go there" again if you let yourself.  I had to make a conscious choice that I never wanted to get to that place again.  Part of that was dedication, but another part of that was vision.  I needed to think about the future and what I want to see in the future.  For me that involves goals like wanting to help my girls pick out their wedding dresses.  I want to hold my grandbabies.  When my second episode hit I had a baby.  I wanted to live for my fourth baby.  Instead of beating myself up and driving myself to a overdose, I told my husband what was happening and I made myself be around other people until the medicine kicked in and I started to feel like myself again, even though I was not my normal competent self and I felt self-conscious around other people.  But my vision made me be around people because that is what I needed to do to be healthy.  I was determined that my baby would know her mother.  I knew that if I didn't get help my baby wouldn't have the mother she needed.   So vision saved me.

So what qualities have kept me alive and allowed me to be stable?  Acceptance of the disease, dedication to staying well, and a vision of what I'd like the future to look like.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Longest Summer of My Life ( My Story, Part Seven)

The Longest Summer of My Life

There's a reason that all those happy commercials on television about depression medicine fixing people have disclaimers.  People like me are the reason.

I was one of the people who "developed suicidal tendencies".  

I was so drugged up that I staggered around like a zombie.  I could feel myself reacting too slowly . . .I tried to fake being normal . . .but I couldn't.

I was wooden and unwell.  That song by Matchbox 20?  "I'm Not Crazy, I'm Just a Little Unwell."  That was me.

And I was my own worst enemy because I was afraid to ask for help . . .I thought that I had already asked for help and it didn't work, so I just had to figure it out on my own.

Hubby thought I needed rest.  He thought that being alone in my bed was healing.  I didn't know then that being alone was the very worst thing for me.  I sat alone in my bedroom, upright, knees drawn to my chest, head bowed and rocked and the thoughts in my head were cruel and unrelenting. Condemning.

I was ashamed of myself.  I believed that my incompetence was my fault.  I had medicine.  I should be better.  But I was not better.  I was worse.  I began to believe that I quite possibly would never get better;  I was horrified by my lack of concentration.  I could not read to my two year old.  Going to the grocery story and trying to decide between cream of chicken soup or cream of mushroom soup was like trying to make pigs fly.  I could not pray.  I could not get anything out of my Bible.

I began to believe that my babies would be better off if I was gone.  I knew I wasn't taking care of them the way I believed they should be cared for and I thought that if I were gone someone else would step up to the plate.  Either my parents, or perhaps Hubby would remarry someone brighter and more capable than I.

Part of me knew this thinking was faulty, but the other part, the part that believed I was horrible and that the problem was MY FAULT and therefore I should be ABLE TO FIX IT BUT BECAUSE I COULD NOT I SHOULD DIE. . .was very convincing. 

I spent hours arguing with myself in my head.

Suicide really did begin to look like an attractive option.  I started to spend long periods of time daydreaming about the easiest way to die.  The problem was I didn't want anyone I loved to find me.  And I don't like pain.

I didn't realize that I was flirting with disaster.  Think about anything long enough and you will act on it.

I really wish I'd known that other people . . .amazing people had suffered from this very same disorder and lived wonderful lives  in spite of it.

I was in really good company!  Winston Churchill!  Abraham Lincoln!  There are more people in the long list of "People with Bipolar" but I didn't know that I had Bipolar . . .I had no idea that I wasn't the only person who had felt this way . . .

Abraham Lincoln once said "I am now the most miserable man living.  If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth.  Whether I shall ever be better I cannot tell.  I awfully forebode I shall not.  To remain as I am is impossible.  I must die or be better, it appears to me." ~ Pre Civil War Era.

I didn't know that there were times when his friends never left him alone because they were afraid that he'd kill himself.  ( From the book "Bipolar Disorder, Insights for Recovery" by Jane Mountain, MD.

I started losing the battle with myself.  One out of every five bipolar people kill themselves.  ( From the book, "I'm Not Crazy, Just Bipolar" by Wendy K. Williamson).

Hubby had no idea how ill I really was.  One sunny morning I started taking pills.  I didn't stop until our terrier began barking.  I remember shaking my head and thinking that I probably shouldn't be taking all these pills.

I knew it was wrong and yet . . .the idea that I could take some pills and lay down and go to sleep forever . . .not have to hurt anymore . . .was such an attractive thought. . .

But the other side of me was uneasy about the pills.  I called Hubby, told him what I'd done.  He asked me what I done, how many pills, what kind?

When I told him and he googled it he started to swear.  

I'm not going to go deeply into the painful aftermath of that decision.  It hurts so much even now thinking about how I kissed everyone of my babies before I left to go to the hospital, how my mother asked me "Why?" when she arrived to stay with them . . .

The hospital was cold and bright and the feeling of being there was surreal. I was lucky.  They were able to give me a disgusting potion that took care of me . . .

I was supervised in the ICU because my doctor understood about the pysch ward freaking me out . . .

And Hubby begged her to find me a new psychiatrist.  Bless her, she pulled some strings and got me into see a doctor who wasn't taking new patients. 

Amazing man.  He was from Pakistan, very kind, very professional and he gave me my diagnosis:  Bipolar II.

He was spot on with the medicine that he felt would help me . . .Depakote.

Hubby says that within two weeks I was starting to be the person he knew before my life went to pieces.  But I came out of that episode feeling shattered and scared to death that it would happen again.  It would be years before I started to feel like God was really and truly on my side.

It would be years before I learned the fact that Bipolar II usually presents around age 28, ( I was thirty when mine manifested),

And years before I accepted that I didn't break my brain.  It was genetically pre-programmed to break.

I wish I'd known to be kind to myself . . .

I wish I'd known that even though I couldn't feel Him, God was on my side . 

And I wish I'd known that just because things aren't beautiful . . .

It doesn't mean that life isn't a beautiful thing.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Hello, Mad Hatter ( My Story, Part Six)

I didn’t know that I was going to scare the doctor who had met me at age fourteen and seen me through some of the most traumatic, vulnerable and victorious moments of my life:  childbirth.

I wasn’t able to stop crying;  I couldn’t explain why I was crying.  I was mortified by my loss of control. . .”I just want to die” I said . . .which might be something that a teenager can say in a dramatic moment to a friend or your parent ( who would just probably roll their eyes and tell the teenager to just get on with things).  However, my doctor’s response was rather different.

“I think you should go talk to Dr. So and So” she said.  She gave me the paperwork to go see him and I just signed it without looking at it very carefully.  I was a snotty mess and at the time we lived in a small town just minutes from the “big” town that the doctor was in and I knew I was in danger of being seen by someone I knew.  This meant I was in a hurry to get into that new doctor’s office.

I saw but did not comprehend the security doors that we had to buzz to get into.  Thank God Hubby was with me because as soon as they closed behind me and I realized I was trapped, I began to freak out inside.  “Promise me you won’t leave me!  Promise me!”

His office was located inside the pysch ward.  Snippets of that ward stood out to me:  the messy board games in one area, missing vital parts.  The people who moved slowly, unknowingly around the furniture.  These were people like the ones I had known in nursing homes, in the group home for mentally ill people that I had worked in as a college student.  I did NOT belong here.  This was NOT me.  I felt I would die if I was left in this place.

Also, the receptionist ( who we did not have to talk to) who was flipping through a magazine and looking bored was someone I’d gone to high school with!  I knew who she’d first slept with.  I did not want her to see me like this.  I did not want to be this person who needed to be in a pysch ward.  Let ME OUT.

The doctor was small and in retrospect, I think I knew him from before, from a class I took at the local community college.  Maybe he recognized me, too, but it’s hard to say.  

He reminded me in that moment of the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland.  He was terribly twitchy.  It was not good to feel like I was placing my life in the hands of someone incompetent.  All I wanted was to GET AWAY.  I composed myself and did my level best to appear sane.

I felt like I was on trial.  Speak well and you get to go home.  Mess up and you will rot in this place.

Doctor So and So had to leave for a bit so an intern came in.  She seemed quite sane and quite nice.  I have always been good at small talk and so we talked for sometime and the whole time we were talking I was sending her these little messages “Look.  You and I.  We are the same.”

I don’t know how or why it happened, but they did decide to send me home.  But first I was to stop at the pharmacy.

I wish I could tell you that Dr. So and So was a brilliant man and that he knew exactly which meds would turn back time and fix the fracture in my brain.  But that’s not what happened.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Long Road to Okay ( My Story, Part Five)

I remember being very energetic in January.  I kept my house sparkling.  I remember a phone call in March that made my normally laid back husband furious.  But then things shifted subtly and my sparkling self began to fade away.

There was a sense of desperation as spring progressed.  I found a copy of a Bible study book on depression and got a friend to work through it with me.  I tried to apply the concepts to my life but it was like holding water in my cupped hands and watching it slip through my fingers.

I had finished the round of probiotics.  I didn’t feel the need to see that doctor anymore.  She was wanting to hook me up and run currents of electricity through me or something like that.  I can’t remember anymore.  It’s all a little fuzzy, a little blurry . . .

Hubby was busy working two jobs.  My parents farm was abuzz with all the craziness that comes with life on a farm in the spring.  Baby calves, fields being plowed, corn planted . . .all of the farm equipment from last summer had to be pulled out and if repairs were needed, they needed to happen.

I was welcome to come over anytime, but I felt awkward and underfoot.  I didn’t want to bother anybody.  I start to isolate myself from the people who loved me best.

I was supposed to be homeschooling my second grader and kindergartner.  I was supposed to be watching my two year-old and I was doing my best.

But I felt so overwhelmed!  I found a online homeschooling group that was associated with the curriculum I was using with my kids and spent a lot of time asking questions of these faceless friends or sharing my wisdom about a particular situation.  

These friends helped but, still guilt began to creep in.  Something was wrong!  This should not be so hard.  Where was my energy?  What was wrong with ME?  I’d been to the doctor.  Together we’d fixed that probiotic issue.  So what was it?

Well meaning people assured me that mothers work hard!  Of course I was tired!  After conversations like that I felt that all mothers must be tired;  I must be normal.  But if this was normal, I didn’t like being normal.

I hadn’t EVER really been so incompetent and tired like this.  If this was normal motherhood I was in trouble.  Big trouble because once you give birth, let’s face it.  You can’t go back.  It made me really sad and beat my self-confidence down, down, down.

At this point in our lives Hubby was dealing with a really difficult work situation and I didn’t want to burden him with my problems.  I felt as though he had REAL problems and mine were somehow pretend, made-up problems.  And the last thing I wanted to do was be a problem for him.

So I thought that if I just read another article on how to think positively, or if I bought some more green leafy vegetables, or prayed harder, I could fix this.  There was a piece of the puzzle that I was missing.  I searched for it, but I could not find it.

I felt shaky and wondered how it was that people didn’t see how poorly I was functioning. . . but all I was showing anybody was small talk . . .so how were they to know?

Somehow I managed to keep the routines going:  food cooked, laundry done, the homeschooling checklists got checked.  None of it was done as well as I would have liked, but at least it was done.

And then it was June and time for Vacation Bible School!

I know that VBS is not something that everyone does, so let me just take a minute to explain how it works.

A church opens its doors and invites the kids from the community in.  For a week they are taught about God;  usually there’s a lot of music, crafts, games, etc.  

It was a big deal at our church.   I’ve been going to VBS since I was just tiny.  I loved it when I was a kid.  As a teenager I was a helper, and as an adult I was expected to teach.

Now mind you, we aren’t talking rocket science here.  I already knew all the Bible concepts that I was supposed to teach AND they gave us a very detailed teacher’s guide so we could tailor each lesson to our own personal style.

But I was terrified by the idea of helping this year.  I felt weak, like I wouldn’t be able to walk around and be all energetic.  And the idea of trying to string one concept after another together in front of a room of kids . . .of trying to answer all their questions.  I didn’t think I could do it!

A special speaker was coming in and Hubby was very busy with work and getting ready for this Bible School because after all, he’d done lots of them in the past and the church needed him/expected him to help with this one.

I waited until the last minute to tell him that I couldn’t help.  It was hard.  I burst into tears.  I buried my face in his shoulder.  

He was kind.  He shushed me.  He told me we’d go see the doctor who had delivered all three of our babies.  She’d figure this out with us.  It would be okay.

And he was right . . .but neither of had any idea about the journey we about to embark on:  the long road to okay.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Please Pass the Butter ( My Story, Part Four)

I may have felt alive and ecstatic, but I knew something was off.

Part of it was my loss of appetite.  It’s not normal to live on spinach.  

I didn’t really think that my new VA-VOOM personality was a problem.  In fact, I kind of wondered where I’d been all my life.  Though even I had to admit that the way that the songs on the radio seemed to be full of special messages just for me . . .that was different and new and maybe not quite right? 

Oh well!  Who cared!

I didn’t want to go to my regular doctor.  I think I knew that she’d probe and find out about the blues that had plagued me earlier and I didn’t want to think about them anymore.  They were in the past!  I wanted to know why I was losing weight and feeling different.  That’s all.  

We found a doctor who was more into the holistic approach towards medicine.  When I told her that I’d dropped a dramatic amount of weight without trying in a short period of time, her eyes got very, very serious.

She did some testing and declared that I had candida.  I did not know what that meant.  As best I can, let me tell you what she told me.  Basically, candida is the “nice” way of saying “yeast infection”.  We all have yeast in our bodies, but sometimes the yeast goes nuts.  
It was in my gut.  And there it was sucking all the nutrition out of me.  Everything I ate, it took.  I was starving in my own skin and didn’t even know it.

Fortunately the doctor had a remedy.  I don’t remember everything I left her office with that day but I do know that I was put on a high powered probiotic.  She explained to me that in your digestive system are “good” guys and “bad” guys.  She said the bad guys were winning and I needed reinforcements.  Thus the good guys, probiotics.  They’d kick candida’s butt for me, or else.

Or else what?  She wouldn’t say.  “Go home and research it” she said, instead.

My family all sighed in relief.  My brother confided that I was so skinny it scared him.

My dad, the stockmen, said that when calves went off their feed probiotics made them better.

I took my medicine and was a good patient.  

And no one said anything about my abnormal cheerfulness.  If any of us had known anything about Bipolar at that point we might have know what was coming.  But we didn’t.

We just smiled and nodded at each other and passed the butter.