Thursday, August 28, 2014

Afraid of the Quiet

I crave quiet. Always. I’m can easily drive without the radio on and I never have the t.v. blaring just for background noise. Silence is golden and I want lots of it.

Except for right now.

This week was designed to be a time of nature, relaxation, and getting my life back in order. It’s been anything but. The minute my mind begins to wind down, I look for more stimulation - the internet, Facebook, texting friends - anything to make sure I’m not in silence.

Our friends invited us to their lake cabin in Washington for a few days. Here, one of my happy places, I was sure I’d find peace. There is just one obstacle in my way: 


Why this change from my normal search for solitude? It’s taken me a few days to figure it out. However, this morning I came across this post on the social justice blog, Sojourners, speaking about our transformation in God. The words pounded on my chest like a lead weight.

Quiet is a time of reflection and prayer for me. It’s a chance to have a one-on-one check in with my Father and an opportunity for me to process what I feel and hear. 

I’m afraid if I spend any time in deep contemplation at this moment, my world may crumble.

God has a lot to say to me right now, of this I’m sure. I’m just not ready to hear it. If I can keep busy enough, perhaps He’ll pass over me and return another time. 

Or not.

It’s easy to sit in silence when my world is calm. However, when the bubble I live in is about to burst I’ll do whatever it takes not to feel, not to process, to stay behind my wall. 

Luckily for me, I have a God who is patient. He’s not going away. He’s just waiting for me to pipe down.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Searching for Joy

Mt. Hood at Trillium Lake

I’m going away for a few days with the family. My body and soul can’t take any more noise. I need quiet to balance my 
State of Mind
State of Spirit
State of Family
State of Marriage
State of the World

The past two weeks have been a tad strange for me. You see, for years I’ve been learning how to manage depression. Whether it’s different meds, more therapy, or mindful meditation, it’s been a learning process.

The problem is, I don’t know what to do when I’m just plain, old-fashioned, sad. And the tears have been falling frequently.

A local woman’s suicide followed by Robin William’s death in the same vain.
Racism alive in our country.
Beheadings of Americans across the world.
Internet arguments over everything.
Family stress getting the best of us.
The stupid, tragic death of my parent’s dog.

I want to run away from it all. When I can’t, I cry.

Nature of a Servant Searching for JoyHowever, In the midst of the sadness in weeks past, I did find laughter. You know I played a small part in a musical this summer. I came away from that experience meeting some of the best people on this planet. When I was with them, happiness filled my inner being. Our time together was short, but now I believe I’ve had a glimpse of the joy I’ve been missing.

And I want more of it.

I am not so naive to believe a time of hiding will take me away from the horrors of the world. I will be in continued prayer for Ferguson, MO and the victims of ISIS. I just won’t be bombarded with opinions every time I log on Twitter. Instead, I’ll spend more quality time with friends and family to refill and refuel my heart with love.

Blessings to you as summer comes to an end. I pray for you to find joy where you least expect it. I’ll also continue to pray for world peace. It’s a lofty goal, but I can hope.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Bucket Without Ice ALS Challenge

You've seen the Ice Bucket ALS challenge. I know you have. On the off chance I'm wrong, read this.

My teenage friend, Meagan, challenged me in her video last night. However, I'm a rebel. So I came up with this:

In the video at 0:40, I did say "ALS is a great organization." That was me being dumb on camera. I should have said the ALS Association is a great organization. ALS is the disease, which is not great. 

Just wanted to clear that up.

If you'd like to do a great thing and donate money for ALS research without dumping a cold bucket of water on your head, visit this donation site. 

If you, like me, are passionate about making sure all on our planet have access to clean water, donate to Charity Water or any one of the numerous non-profits trying to accomplish this goal.

Today, take an opportunity to sacrifice and give to a charity who needs your help. Don't wait until someone asks you to dump a bucket of ice water on your head.

Comment below and let me know where you decided to give.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Depression, Vision, and Being Spiritual Enough

Robin Williams committed suicide. He suffered from severe depression: FACT

He was selfish. He wasn’t spiritual enough: WE HAVE NO IDEA

Yesterday the inter-webs set ablaze with opinions about our beloved icon’s death. But it was one particular popular, Conservative-Christian blogger (it pains me to link to him, but I want my friends to know what I’m talking about) who caught my eye as soon as he implied Williams wasn’t spiritual enough. If he just had more joy, Blogger claims:
“We are more than our brains and bigger than our bodies. Depression is a metal affliction, yes, but also spiritual.”
To which I respond with a giant: Nope.

I consider myself to have a deep faith in God and an extremely profound relationship with Jesus. Ministry is my life. I’m pretty sure I would die for my faith. Yet, I suffer from clinical depression. Explain, please. Because I don’t get Conservative-Christian Blogger’s logic.

When I was a kid, I wore glasses. At age 13, Mom and Dad said I could get contacts. I loved the way I looked without specs, but I hated touching my eyeballs. I skipped on the contacts and just stopped wearing glasses altogether. You’d better believe I was praying to God for better vision - all for the sake of vanity. It didn’t quite happen.

Fast forward to age 39 when a visit to the ophthalmologist proved I never should have stopped wearing glasses. My eyes are worse now, and it’s no surprise I’ll need additional lens assistance to obtain proper vision for the rest of my life. Never once did I ponder, “If I’d only have been more spiritual, I wouldn’t need glasses.”

Because that would be silly.

I cried in the doctor's office when he diagnosed me with depression. “It’s not possible,” I sobbed, “I have everything I need to make me happy in life.”

He explained the chemical imbalance of my brain. In my case, having a stroke exasperated the condition. He promised if I began taking a little aqua and white pill, I’d feel a little better. I did.

Four years later, I felt good enough to stop the drugs cold turkey. (Don’t ever, ever, EVER do this. EVER!) I crashed. One night I fell so hard, the weeping and gnashing of teeth was too much for my husband to handle, especially with a 10 month old asleep in her crib ten feet away.

The next day, I was in therapy and back on the aqua and white pill. 

14 years have passed since that breakdown. I’ve been to different counselors and tried different medicines in effort to make me the best Andee I can be. Without a prescription, the good vibes in my head don’t connect. (I’m sure that’s the correct medical terminology.) When they don’t, it’s not that I feel sad. I feel...nothing. 

When I feel nothing, living doesn’t seem all that important. 
It’s not logical.
It’s a depression lie.

I believe Jesus raised the dead to life. I know he’s saved me more times than I can count. But do you understand when I want to give him a little medical help on this one? 

Thanks for your support. 

***If you believe you have depression, try this brief questionnaire for an initial assessment. In my case, I answered “Nearly Every Day” when I was off meds. If you suspect you have an issue, visit your doctor for a thorough visit. I believe with all my heart that God put us here together for a reason - to love Him and to love each other. This is me showing love for you.

Monday, August 11, 2014

I Won't Judge Jennifer

*Warning: This is not a normal, Andee, happy-clappy, feel good post. If you are not ready for heaviness, please move on. I won’t be offended.

News of Jennifer Huston’s disappearance blasted from Portland Metro media one week ago. The wife and mother of tinies stopped at an ATM, refueled her car, and vanished. Hundreds in the community searched for her Lexus and she was a main status topic for local Facebook friends. 

After a few days, Jennifer’s body was found. Investigators said she took her own life. And the mob of judging began.


But I will not judge Jennifer. Because it just as easily could have been me. And, I’m guessing, half of the population out there. 

Clinical depression isn’t a case of being “bummed out” a good portion of the time. It’s a neurological condition affecting victims with a variety of symptoms, most common being the feeling of helplessness and worthlessness. Therapy and medication can be saviors, but not everyone has easy access - either financially or because their depression has convinced them outside help isn’t necessary.

Long time friends and readers know of my depression. You know I’m in therapy, and while I joke about it the majority of the time, there are some counseling topics I choose to keep to myself. Now, however, I’ll share one.

Two months ago I took a solitary trip to the ocean thinking it would bring me out of the current mental state I was in. Unfortunately, alone time caused my anxiety to worsen. I looked out at the sea and thought, I could just walk in and keep walking. I wouldn’t have to stop. No one would know. I could, you know. I could.

Obviously, I didn’t. For me, the saving pull was that I could never leave my girls without a mother. It was a tiny tug on that trip, but powerful enough to bring me home and schedule an immediate appointment with my counselor.

Turns out, the medication I was on didn’t mesh well with my brain. What was supposed to pull me out of anxiety caused my depression to deepen. Scary, huh? I’m good now, in case you are wondering. We found a prescription to bring me back to my happy-clappy-silly-sarcastic-caring self. The woman God intended for me to be.

Sometimes, though, I think about my life before therapy and medication. I remember all the times it seemed easier to die than to live. And I thank God in heaven I didn’t end up like Jennifer.

I plead with you to not judge Jennifer, either. You don’t know her brain chemistry. You don’t know what was happening in her life. Just because you make certain choices does not mean others make the same. 

Pray for Jennifer’s husband. Pray for her children. Pray for her parents. Pray for yourselves. Pray for empathy, for sympathy, for compassion. 

Take heart God loves His children even when they can’t love themselves. 

***EDIT Please know this post was written before the news of Robin Williams suicide. I believe the sentiment remains the same for a big celebrity as well as a local mother. We cannot judge. Jennifer and Robin, I hope you have found peace.******