Being real, part 2

I’ve been meaning to follow up to my first Being Real post and let you know where I’m at. Well, I am back home in Texas now. My time at the counseling center was very helpful to me. I learned a lot about myself, if sometimes painfully. But it was a good experience that definitely began a lot of healing.

That said, I am not back to 100% yet. My mood is not completely stable and is usually low(er). I still have a fair bit of anxiety. I have not been able to get back into my current job yet. I’m still working my program, trying to read several books, and continuing to heal from the latest depressive episode. I am looking to the future and trying to figure out God’s next steps for me, a day at a time.

My grandmother suggested today that I would one day write a book about dealing with depression. I would love to (mostly because I’ve always dreamed of being an author), but I know it would be a big challenge. But I’m just throwing it out there, because if you have any thoughts on what you’d be interested in reading on that topic, I would love to know.

I don’t quite know how to tell you where I am. I’m so much better than I was. The days are not so dark, the anxiety is not as terrifying. And yet I know I still have so far to go. It’s been so long since I’ve been at 100% that I’m not even sure what it looks like. But I’m aiming for it–not for perfection, but for wholeness.

I read an amazing book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Don Miller.  It fits perfectly with my last post, because it talks about story. And I’ve determined that I want to live in a great story, one bigger than myself. In the end, my story will not be about depression; but it will be about redemption. I’m trusting the Redeemer to write my story, the kind of story He does best: the one where all things are made new.

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My Birthday

26. I am now 26. Crazy. Kinda feels like 25. Except I know it’s moving me into the latter half of my twenties. And that brings me back to “crazy.”

Today’s been an amazing day! I’m so thankful. I’ve had such happiness, gratitude, and joy. My parents texted bright and early to wish me a happy birthday. My friends/co-workers at DBU have made my day truly amazing. From gifts to hugs, to Chik-Fil-A lunches and cake, it’s been amazing. I really wish I could tell you how wonderful each one of them is, and how special they have made my day.

My sister has exclaimed all day about my birthday and how, for this one day, I get to be four years older than she is this year. We’re going to see a movie tonight after work also. She is amazing. She loves me more than most ever could, and she’s the reason I’ve made it this far. I adore her. It will be my joy to celebrate her birthday tomorrow, too.

After several weeks of deeper depression, I have been blessed to feel happy on my birthday. Thank you, Lord. It’s a beautiful gift.

In response to my last birthday wish post, I know of at least four women who have donated to Mercy Ministries in honor of my birthday. I’m SO thankful for that. The young women at Mercy deserve hope and healing; thank you to the women who helped contribute to that, including Catlin and Rachel.

In response to a my selfish birthday wish Tweet, I got a direct message from Jamie Tworkowski, founder of TWLOHA and a true hero of mine, that wished me a happy birthday. It’s one of the coolest things to happen to me today. AND shortly after that, Renee Yohe just followed me on Twitter. If you don’t know, she’s the story and inspiration behind To Write Love On Her Arms, or the “HER” in that title. I’m still floored. She’s been such a huge inspiration in my life.

So, I’m 26. My friends and family are amazing. I bought a birthday dress to wear today, and I felt pretty. My God gave me the blessed gift of life and happiness today.  So all in all…it’s a “crazy” day, in the very best way.

Summer, blogging, etc.

Here it comes: SUMMER!

Yes, the semester is ending, (my) finals are done, and the summer stretches before us. And my thoughts turn to the novel idea: “Hey, what if I start blogging more again now that I have time on my hands?”

And so here I am.

Granted, I don’t have anything specific in mind to write, so prepare for rambling. Granted, I have a summer class that starts May 31, so I really don’t have long to enjoy this “summer off” concept. But perhaps I can try to write a bit more. (I know, I tend to blog like a sputtering car: start, accelerate, sputter, die, repeat.)

It IS a good feeling to have those finals off my chest. I turned in my last one (essentially a six page essay/paper) tonight, after taking one online last night. I love the relief, the release I feel when those things are over. It’s as though suddenly I feel the lightness of something that has gone missing from my life: i.e., the stress of homework. It’s delightful. (As I’ve said, let’s all pretend May 31 and my summer class doesn’t exist.)

Today was also the last day of work for two student workers who have been in our office ever since I arrived at my job. They have become good, dear friends to me, and I’m sad to see them go.

Finally, I am learning to keep my eyes fixed on Christ. I had a rough weekend, but I am learning to focus on the greatness and might of the Lord over the size of my circumstances or struggles. He is my Ebenezer, my stone of help, and through His help I have made it this far. He is good, and I praise Him for His faithfulness in my life.

May you find Him faithful in your life this week in a special way.

Not there yet

I know a lot of people who are in the process of trying to figure out what they want to do in life. Let me tell you: I am, too. I haven’t figured it all out; I haven’t gotten it down. I’m simply not there yet.

I was pretty sure I would have had it all figured out now, by age 25. I had planned on already having my graduate degree in counseling, probably on being married for at least two years by now. I was fairly certain I would already know exactly where I was headed for the rest of my life.

But I’ve found out God doesn’t work like that. Most of the time, He’s taken my pretty little plans and turned them upside down. Anytime I thought I had the timing just right, my world shifted a little and everything changed. Five years ago, my five-year-plan looked nothing like where I am. Definitely never thought I’d be in this kind of job, only in my second semester of grad school, with a very vague picture of life beyond this moment. Definitely never thought I would be “not there yet.”

But there’s a lot that’s happened that I never could have planned for. I’ve made some of the most amazing friends and relationships in the last few years of my life, most of whom I would have never met if life turned out how I planned. I would never have worked in an amazing children’s home for 15 months where I got to invest in and love some of the coolest kids ever. I probably wouldn’t be creating the even-more-special-than-it-was relationship with my sister as we live in our little one bedroom apartment and share a car back and forth from school and work. I’ve also learned lessons and gained passions I might never have been granted had I walked another route in life.

I talked today with some friends about how God seems to reveal His will and do things last minute. My life has constantly been changed and re-arranged in the “last minute” happenings that forever altered my course. I’m still not sure how I got here, or where I’m headed.

But I do know a few things.

I know I want to spend the rest of my life loving people and pouring my life into them. I want to run hard after the kind of life I don’t think is possible, just so God can prove it is…with Him. I want to pursue the best; I want to make a difference. I want to live my life in integrity, and truth, and hope, and faith. And most of all love. I’ve been loved beyond my imagining, and I want to chase after the understanding and “living-out” of that love. I want to help heal the hurting, and help them grow in hope. I want people to know the One who changed my life, so their lives can be changed, too.

So maybe I’m exactly where God wants me. Maybe what looks like a rather transient place is exactly the destination I was supposed to be at: right here, right now. And I’m going to trust that each step of my life is going to be crazily planted in front of me, if I only I have the faith and strength to keep walking. Because the fact is, I’m a pilgrim; on this earth, I’ll never be anywhere except standing in the midst of God’s love. I was made for another world; and in the meantime, I’m simply not there yet.

Light Up The Sky

There has been a lot of pain this week. I have seen and heard of people facing cancer, of those who have faced taking loved ones to the emergency room for a variety of reasons. I know of a man who’s father just lost his job, and of another man who is dealing with the ongoing complications from his father’s open heart surgery.

I know of a man whose daughter discovered her child had died in her womb. In addition to losing her baby, during the procedure to remove it, there was a medical mistake that ended up in destroying and removing part of her small intestines. Now she hangs in the balance, fighting for her life. She was able to have the 5% of her small intestines remaining reconnected to the large intestine, but a transplant will probably be necessary in the future. She will have a long and difficult healing ahead of her, emotionally and physically.

I know of the people who fight the inner battles, the ones that don’t take them to a doctor or surgery or the emergency room. They suffer through their own emotional pain, because of a broken relationship, because of hurt in a relationship, because of their own struggle to accept and forgive themselves. These are the people who look into the mirror and despair of ever being who they wish they could be. These are the hopeless, the ones who silently curse and condemn themselves daily, or the ones who cry out long sobs at the end of the day when they are alone in their apartment, kneeling on the floor. These are the ones who fight to live day to day, to live the fullness and wholeness they long for.

I have seen all of these this week. I can identify with some. But most of all I am overwhelmed by the pain of it. We each have a journey; we each  face our own private struggle. And I ask what can possibly be done in the face of such trials and wounds.

I heard this song on the radio this week. It doesn’t make everything ok; it doesn’t give answers to the pain. But to me, it offered a reminder of Hope.

May we also remember to help light up the sky for others, that we may make this journey and find strength in walking together.

When I’m feeling all alone
With so far to go
The signs are no where on this road
Guiding me home
When the night is closing in
Is falling on my skin
Oh God will You come close?
(Chorus)
Light light light up the sky
You light up the sky to show me You are with me
I I I can’t deny
No I can’t deny that You are right here with me
You’ve opened my eyes
So I can see You all around me
Light light light up the sky
You light up the sky to show me
That You are with me

When stars are hiding in the clouds
I don’t feel them shining
When I can’t see You beyond my doubt
The silver lining
When I’ve almost reached the end
Like a flood You’re rushing in
Your love is rushing in

(Chorus)

So I run straight into Your arms
You’re the bright and morning sun
To show Your love there’s nothing You won’t do

(Chorus)

That You are with me

The things that get you through the day

The last couple of nights I’ve been having a hard time getting decent sleep. So the sleep-deprivation was building, which of course affects my mood, energy, etc. In sum, it sets the stage for some rougher days.

But today, even though it wasn’t the easiest day and there were some rough (even some dark) patches, these are what got me through the day:

  • Coffee, coffee, coffee! And I mean each of those words literally, because I had three cups of coffee. Those gave me the energy to make it through the morning.
  • Sonic run at lunch. I was starting to feel kind of down, and decided I needed some time to myself. So I took a drive to Sonic, listened to some music, got a LARGE Diet Dr. Pepper and a small fries to munch on. I returned to campus and sat in my car for a bit, and even leaning my chair back to close my eyes and rest before work.
  • A better, calmer mindset after lunch and the ability to get some more projects done. And of course the girls in my office who make me smile.
  • 30 Day Shred, Level 2!!! That’s right, I hit up a kick-butt routine. I came home and was struggling more with just feeling “blah” and tense inside. But tell you what, that workout knocked it right out of me. It was such a relief to physically tell I was feeling better.
  • Getting to watch So You Think You Can Dance while eating yummy fiber cereal. It was awesome

Well my sleep medicine is kicking in, so now I’m excited to head to bed. But just wanted to share these things in my day. Every good and perfect gift is from God, and I worship him for blessing us with the little things to make it through these days.

PS – Oh, I forgot to mention the awesome new To Write Love On Her Arms shirt that I ordered…and arrived today! Check out a full pic of the shirt and others like it HERE.