30 July 2008

The Incredible Greatness of God's Power

These past four and a half years, I must admit that reading the Bible has not been much of a priority. It wasn't that I hated it, or that I got nothing out of it... but I could never seem to become disciplined or motivated to do it. At that time, I was still so unaware of all the ways I was still enslaved... all the ways I was numbing myself. And one of the byproducts of that numbing was avoiding the word.

Most of the stories and messages that I knew from scripture were remembered through hearing sermons and listening to worship music. Now I do have a great love of music, and to this day, it still somehow never ceases to amaze me how much scripture I know just for the sheer fact that I can remember song lyrics amazingly well. Whenever I read a passage for the very first time, but realize that I already know the words, I just laugh and start singing whatever praise and worship song I know it from. I can never seem to remember addresses to verses, or where I have read something in the Bible, but if it is in a song, I'll remember.

This past year, as I have made the conscious CHOICE to follow God in seeking healing, I made a committment to read the entire New Testiment from beginning to end. I did not give myself a time limit, for in the past that tactic has most often lead to immediate self sabotage. To date, I am only about a third of the way through, but I am moving forward.

I find that when I choose to get up and read (especially several days in a row), it is so helpful in moving foward with my layers. Of course, when I hit the rough patches in between, unfortunately the word lies unopened on my desk for sometimes weeks at a time. But this week, I have been picking it back up again in the mornings, and I am finding my days are better, I am less apathetic, and it is giving me something to focus on while I am biding my time to departure.

This morning I opened up my Bible, and since I have just recently completed the book of Galations, I turned to the next book... Ephesians. Now, I have read Ephesians before, but it has been long enough ago that the only part I remember well is Ephesians 5. So I am looking forward to rereading the entire book again to see what it holds (in addition to the extremely important messages on marriage and childrearing).

As I read the first chapter, one section really stood out to me.

Ephesians 1:15-23 (New Living Translation)
Paul’s Prayer for Spiritual Wisdom

Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.
I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

I am looking at this list of things that Paul is praying for the people of Ephesus...... spiritual wisdom and insight to grow in their KNOWLEDGE of God, hearts flooded in light so they could understand the CONFIDENT HOPE He has given to those He has called, and understanding of the GREATNESS OF GOD"S POWER for those who believe him.

I want these things in my life. I want to grow in my knowledge of God and to understand the confident hope He has given me. Don't we all? But the thing that really struck me was Paul praying that they would understand the greatness of God's power for US. How many of us have come even close to beginning to understand the greatness of His power for us? How many of us even believe that the greatness of His power is FOR us?

I have always liked the expression about head knowledge versus heart knowledge. Sometimes it can be easy to read God's word and know in our heads that it is truth. But we don't really understand the power and application of that truth, thus lacking the heart knowledge. I think in a way, that's what Paul is talking about here. He wants us not just to know that God's great power is for us, but he wants us to understand exactly how great that power is! And he wants us to not only understand how great that power is, but to truly understand in our hearts that this great power is indeed for us.

Imagine how different our lives would be if we were able to understand and walk in this truth! It would be amazing!

Lord Jesus, you are truly amazing and powerful! I thank you that the greatness of your power is for everyone who believes you! I humbly ask that you give me spiritual wisdom and insight so that I may grow in my understanding of you, Lord. I ask you to flood my heart with light so I can understand the confident hope you have given to those you call [me]. And I pray that you will help me understand the incredible greatness of your power [that is] for me. I love you. Amen.

26 July 2008

Biding Time

Have you ever had to just wait for something... and you feel like you are just biding your time? That is where I am at. I feel like I am just waiting around, waiting to leave. I am just "getting by", day in and day out, until the day comes that I must pack up and leave. I don't quite know what to do with my time. And to be honest, I have not been very motivated to do anything worthwhile with it.

What an odd expression. Biding time. Biding.... from the word bide. I looked it up to see exactly what it means. Afterall, it is not a commonly used word these days aside from this one expression, "bide one's time".

The first definition I found was this: 1. Archaic. to endure; bear.
Ok, this seems to apply. I feel like I am enduring these last few weeks. Endure is not often a positive, happy word. It usually signifies some level of pain, frustration, trials and struggles. Enduring often isn't pleasant for some reason or another, but building endurance is a virtue cited in the Bible. (see James 1: 2-4)

Next, I read: 2. Obsolete. to encounter.
Ok, I'm not so sure about this one.

Third is: 3. to dwell; abide; wait; remain.
Now this is sounding familiar. These are all words used in God's word.... these are all things we are supposed to do with/in the Lord. So maybe while I am enduring my time, I need to remember that I need to be dwelling, waiting on, and abiding in the Lord.

And finally: 4. bide one's time, to wait for a favorable opportunity.
Isn't this what we are doing? Paul and I? We are waiting for the favorable opportunity that the Lord has put before us in this mission to New Mexico.

I don't know about you, but the expression biding your time never seemed a very positive one to me. I guess I have always associated it more with the first definition of enduring or bearing something hard. For me, waiting is hard. Uncertainty is hard. I am often impatient, and I want to know all the answers ASAP so I can plan, plan, plan. I am a research gal!

But God is not giving me answers here, HE is instead choosing to build my endurance. HE has placed me in a situation where I just have to wait. I have no choice. I have to wait to find out where we will live, what the address will be, whether my girls will get their own rooms or not, what the floor plan is like. (For those of you who don't know me well, I have endless graph paper grids of floorplans figuring out where I want to put all my furniture before I move in to a new place.... I get teased for this by those who love me most, but that's ok. I want to know where everything will go! But this time I can't.)

God has been asking me since the very beginning of this year to wait on Him. We waited on orders. We waited on getting a van. (Three very long months as a single vehicle family.) And now we are waiting for the details that I have always had before making a move like this.

So while I am waiting, and enduring, am I also abiding in Him? Am I dwelling in His presence, remaining in Him? I have to admit this was a much easier task at the beginning. The first six months of this year, I was doing a much better job than I am now. Maybe God wants to show me something in these last few weeks.

Maybe this is like the transition stage in labor. Any of you who have given birth to a baby will understand my analogy here. Transition is the point where it FEELS like it can't get any worse, and you just CAN"T do it anymore. You want to quit. You want it to be OVER.....NOW. But the work is not done yet. There is still a beautiful baby waiting to emerge. Once we get past transition, and the pushing stage begins, it is still hard work.... but the end- and the reward- are so near. You just have to stick with it a little longer!

Maybe I am in transition! Funny thought, really... considering we are literally transitioning from one job to another, one geographical location to another, one church body to another. But I have reached that point where I feel like I don't want to do this anymore. The waiting is just too hard. I don't want to endure anymore.

But I think that God wants to remind me of the next stage.... the reward that's coming. If I continue to endure (definition 1), and wait [dwell, abide, remain] on Him (definition 3), then the reward [favorable opportunity] will come (definition 4). God always wants to bless us, but He also knows that He has to grow us up... this often entails trials to build our endurance (#1). He knows that can only really happen when we rely fully on Him (#3). As as we take each step foward and answer His calling, He does shower us with His love, blessing us in ways we could ever imagine! He provides us with wonderful opportunities (#4) in life that we would never have on our own!

Maybe abiding my time is not such a negative thing afterall.
Someone once told me that all truth comes from God... even if it isn't in the Bible. If it is truth, then it is from God. Period. He speakes to us in all kinds of ways, teaching us valuable lessons through all different sources. Today, for me, He used http://dictionary.reference.com/ and the word bide.

Lord Jesus, you are amazing and wonderful! You call us to you because you love us... and you want us to dwell with you, wait on you, abide and remain in you. You know that only through you will we endure the trials that will grow us up into maturity. Lord, I ask you to help me remember to be with you in my enduring, and to keep my focus on you and the "favorable opportunities" that you have in store for me and my family. I love you! Amen.

21 July 2008

So What Is a Codependent Anyway?

Pick up two different books on codependency, and you may find two different answers.... but the bottom line is that someone who is codependent is a person that is dependent on someone who is dependent. Confused yet?

The term was coined a few decades ago in relation to spouses of alcoholics. Psychologists were finding that these spouses were just as addicted to the dysfunction of their alcoholic spouses as the spouse was addicted to the alcohol. Even when the addict received treatment and became healthy, the spouse was still all messed up, not knowing how to handle the change in or absense of the dysfunction. (This is what birthed Al-Anon.)

Over the years, people began to realize that these characteristics were being found in other situations, not just in families of alcoholics. Any kind of addiction or dependency can trigger it. (Alcoholics, food-aholics, workaholics, drug addicts, gambling addicts, extremely irresponsible people, and the list goes on).

But what they have found is that all codependents have certain characteristics stemming from dysfunctional relationships (either in childhood or adulthood). In Codependency, Pat Springle discusses six characteristics that prevail as a basis for all others. The first three are primary characteristics of codependency.

1.... a lack of objectivity
2.... a warped sense of responsibility
3.... being easily controlled and controlling others

The next three chacteristics are more side effects of codependency.

4.... hurt and anger
5.... guilt
6.... loneliness

You can find so many other descriptions of "symptoms and characteristics", but at the core, a codependent is someone who has no objectivity about their life, meaning they are living in a world of denial about what is really going on. They feel responsible for everyone and everything.... they are either trying to be a Savior (trying to save or rescue everyone) or feel like a Judas (feeling like they are betraying others and everything is their fault). As a result, they are often controlled and manipulated by the same people they are trying to control. Sounds kinda silly, doesn't it?

The codependent is trying to find the love and self worth they so desparately need (but are not receiving) by taking care of others. Unfortunately, they most often leach on to needy people who do not want to take care of themselves, and these "dependents" think it is the job and responsibility of the codepended to take care of them. So in this twisted process, the codependent is trying to control and rescue the dependent (to find love and self worth), and the dependent is mainpulating and controlling the codependent so they can stay in their irresponsible lifestyle.

Since the dependent is not truly capable of giving the love and self worth that the codependent is seeking, the codependent then becomes hurt and angry. They feel resentful that they are not being appreciated. But then they feel guilty for thinking that way. Afterall, if all the responsibilty is theirs (in their nonobjective thinking), then everything wrong is their fault. And because the codependent is afraid to lose what little love they are receiving, they won't leave for fear of being alone. But the reality is they are already lonely because of the dysfunction of the relationship.

This all sounds pretty messed up, right? But the really scary thing is that most people in this situation think it's normal! It is such a sad realization to see how dysfunction in families and relationships are so prevelent, that most people never see what a problem this is in our society. And unfortunately, it can be an even bigger problem in our churches.

The very characteristics of a codependent..... responsible, selfless, always giving of themselves.... these are all virtues in our churches. Of course these are admirable traits that are well needed in the work of God's kingdom, but the problem lies in the fact that we are supposed to have these qualities in love, service and gratitude to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Too often, codependents are trapped in "servitude", not because they are giving from their heart, but instead because they are trying to find self worth, love, and meaning in their lives. The Bible calls this idolotry. They are doing it for THE WRONG REASONS!!! And if they say no to something or someone in the church, they are looked down upon as selfish, greedy, uncaring, unloving, or irresponsible.... or they are afraid they will be seen that way. And they cannot handle that. The very actions that they are being praised for are the same ones that are ultimately destroying them!

But there is Good News. Jesus came to set us free from everything that binds us..... and this includes codependency. We do not have to live our lives trapped in this distructive existence. So what do we as a church do about it? How do we educate ourselves and each other, and reach out to those who are hurting? It is so easy for us to get all wrapped up in ourselves, for we do live in a "me" culture. Our culture also preaches tolerance and acceptance to the point where even Christians are afraid to confront other Christians "in love" as the Bible commands us to. So what is the answer?

I think the answer is simple. God is in control! I only wish more people could realize that. God is in control, and He is patient. He plucks us up, one at a time, and heals us. Then He sets us free to help someone else. This was the case for me. He sent someone into my life who has already "been there, done that". And He used that person to help me recognize I had a problem. She could understand what I was going through because she has been through it herself. That was the only reason I could hear her. Because God is in control, and He knew exactly who to use to pull be up into healing.

And I know that He will use me the same way. I know it is easy to think that "once I am all healed and everything is figured out, THEN He will use me..." But I am fully aware that He can use me at any time that suits Him. Are you? Do you know that God wants to use you to help someone go through something you have already faced?

It may not be easy, but the answer IS simple..... God is in control. And if we are willing to step out when He calls us, and not shrink back in fear and uncertainty, then God can change the world for His glory!

Lord Jesus, use me as You will! Give me the strength and courage to stand up and follow through on what you are asking of me, even when it scares me. Place the people in my life that you desire to help through me. Thank you for loving me so much that you want to rescue me and heal me from the dysfunction of this world. And thank you for putting those important people in my life for my benefit. You are a wonderful, amazing, Almighty God! Amen.

20 July 2008

Emotional Adolescence

Last fall, a friend of mine spoke to me about codependency. She talked about how it had affected her life and relationships and encouraged several of us to look it up to find out more information if we were interested. Of course she saw these tendencies in me, but she was wise enough to know I wasn't ready to hear it then, so she only spoke about it in relation to her life.

I remember going home that evening and looking it up. Of course I don't have a problem with this, I had thought to myself, but I looked it up anyway. I found lists of "symptoms and characteristics", and as I read, I recognized several applied to me. But I didn't want to see it, so I told myself again, "No, I don't have a problem with this!". And I shut it off.

In January, I went off my emotion numbing medication, and I began to feel for probably the first time in my life. As I stated previously, several trials came at me all at once, including the very abrupt ending of both my support group meetings and who was hosting my kinship. These had been my support and stability throughout the deployment, and this was the outlet my healing journey had been traveling through. Within one week, both were gone and I felt overwhelmed. But the Lord reassured me that it would all be ok if I turned to Him.

At this time I was also involved in a codependent relationship that I couldn't see was unhealthy, and this relationship was on vacation so to speak during this period of trial. But at the end of this time apart, when I was fully feeling everything around me, I realized that I had a problem with boundaries. Really, this was not a new realization for me..... I already knew I had boundary issues. I had done a "Changes That Heal" class at church, and this author had a book called "Boundaries".... that I had even bought and had on my bookshelf, only I had never read it. I didn't want to deal with it. I had this book for almost two years before I realized the necessity of actually reading it. I finished it in two days.

In the course of reading this book last February, I began to see that maybe I did have a problem with codependency, but I still wasn't really ready to deal with it. I sought out advice on good books to read and even bought and borrowed some. But I could never seem to get through any of them. They were painful to read! But I finally found one that really spoke to me. "Codependency" by Pat Springle. Reading this book was like reading my biography.... this author was writing the story of my life! I could finally start to see where many of my patterns of behavior had come from and why I was the way I was. Things started to make sense, and I whole heartedly admitted my problem.... I am a codependent.

In his book, Pat talks about how children who take care of and nurture their parents (taking on adult responsibilities as children) become trapped in a childlike emotional state. We never really learn how to emotionally become adults. But once we come out of our denial and begin to face and work through our problems, we can enter into an emotional adolescence. Well, I don't know about you, but going through adolescence as a teenager was hard enough. Doing it at 34 kinda sucks!

So here I am, feeling all these crazy emotions swinging from left to right.... trying to process it all without numbing or surpressing anything... and I can't help but think this would have been so much easier to have just done it right the first time! I am now rereading a passage in the book, and it says this:

"Adolescence is confusing, It's awkward. It often seems like we aren't making any progress. In fact, it seems like we are going backward, not forward! As changes occur, we find ourselves feeling emotions we have seldom felt, saying things we have never said before, and doing things we have always considered wrong. We don't recognize ourselves anymore! What if other people think we're weird?!?"

Well, I don't have to worry about that last part.... I know plenty of people who already think I'm weird!

But I look at my beautiful daughter (who's 14) and I realize that once again we get to go through something together. The last time was when she was a baby, and I was practically a baby myself at 20 years old, and we both got to teeth together. She got her first 4 teeth (in a three day period) at 6 months, and the next four teeth (again in only 3 days) at 8-9 months. Soon after she was teething her first molars. During this time, I had two impacted wisdom teeth that could get sore for awhile while they were trying to push their way up. Then they would calm down for a month or two before causing me more discomfort. But I remember thinking how fitting it was that we were both experiencing the same pain. It was like I was able to appreciate what she was going through because I was facing a similar thing.

Adolescence isn't easy, or fun. And even though we swear to ourselves that we will always remember what it's like so that we will relate to our kids better than we thought our parents related to us, the fact is that we do forget. We forget how difficult it is to be a teen, and we forget what they go through. But now, even though I don't have to deal with the physical changes our teen years bring, I find myself having renewed empathy for the emotional trials adolescence is bringing into the life of my teen. And I pray that she will only have to go through this ONCE!

Lord Jesus, I thank you for your patience with us as we grow emotionally and spiritually. I ask that you give me your strength to continue on this path of healing, even when it feels like I am going backwards instead of forward. And I ask that you show me how to help my daughter through this difficult season of her life so she needs to do it only once. I love you, Lord! Amen.

19 July 2008

Why Is It So Hard to Let Go?

Isn't it silly that when rough times come, we always know what we should do..... we know the answer, but we still don't do it? All we have to do is let go and hand it over to God. He wants to take care of us and our problems. And how many times have we experienced this exact thing? We invite the Lord into our lives and give Him our problems.... and He helps us through it every time! At least I know He has for me. So if we know this about our Almighty God, that He WILL help us through the hard times every single time we ask, then why is it still so hard to let go?

I am trying to... I am struggling through.... I am dealing with.... Why is it so hard to get past the I? Why do we get so wrapped up in ourselves that we forget, over and over again, the merciful love of our Heavenly Father?

This past year the Lord has brought me through a lot of challenges and healing, and for the most part my focus has been more on seeking Him than on myself. With each trial over and a level of freedom gained, I look forward to the next step as it brings me closer to God. But I have noticed a pattern in this process that repeats itself over and over. As each new layer is ready to be pried up, I lose my focus and shift back onto myself. I get aggitated and distracted. The moodiness tries to move in and once again I have to take over the reins of the depression that wants to get its ugly foot back in my door. Sometimes it is only days, sometimes weeks. But once I can stand it no more, I cry out to God and HE answers me back. It is time to keep moving towards Me, he tells me. Time for another layer to come up. Time to shift my focus back on Him.

This should be easy, right? We know the outcome.... God does what He promises He will do. He pulls up that layer, brings us healing, and revels in our freedom with us as we praise and glorify His name for our victory. So knowing this is our reward for surrendering to Him, why do we hold back? Why do we stew for days or sometimes weeks before "giving in"? Why don't we automatically give it all to God in the first place?

I am tired. Spiritually, emotionally, physically..... tired. I am in the middle of a layer, only this time (unlike any other this past year) it feels like God is pulling up three or four layers at once, and it is taking much longer than past layers. I have had so many things coming at me from all directions. God has given me some difficult tasks this past month, hard things I didn't want to do but knew I had to. He has also brought a lot of difficult truth into my life, and for most of us hard truth is hard to swallow. The Lord is pruning me, and it is exhausting.

So I suppose it was fitting that the sermon I heard last week at church was written for the spiritually tired. It was God's message to those of us who are weary. He is also speaking to me through the book I'm currently reading, The Battle Belongs to the Lord by Joyce Meyer. She talks about how to overcome life's struggles through praise and worship. When we take time out of our day just to stop and praise God for who He is .... Abba Father, Almighty Maker, merciful, loving, holy and righteous..... when we put our focus on Him, our days would be so much better! Our focus would stay on Him, and I'm sure that would make it so much easier to turn to Him when trouble arises instead of withdrawing into ourselves.

Joyce even states in her book that God revealed to her once that the reason why God allows us to experience so many trials is because that is the only time He gets to spend with His people! Imagine that! If we would turn to Him in times NOT of trouble, on a daily basis, praising Him and seeking His face, then maybe we wouldn't have to experience quite as many trials as we do!

I am thinking about all these truths that have been spoken to me recently, along with the knowledge and experiences that I have already gained, and I can see that the answer is still the same. But should that surprise me any? Afterall, God's word does tell us He is the same yesterday, today, and for all time. I have to let it go. I have to surrender it to God, recognizing that He is in control. Only He can accomplish this task of changing and healing me. Only He can pull up these layers that are hindering me. Only He can give me the strength I need to endure.

So I see the problem, I hear the answer, but I have continued to stay immobile..... at least for the moment. A friend of mine asked me this week as I spoke of my troubles, "Are you holding steadfast to the Lord?" I had to admit that I wasn't. I was choosing to ignore everything I've seen and heard, everything I've learned. I am hurting, and I have chosen to shut myself off knowing it will only hurt me, knowing that God's way is perfect and so much better. Why do we do this to ourselves over and over? Why do we purposely choose misery over God's love? Why is it so hard to let go?

Father God, I praise your name above all others. I thank you for your love, your mercy and forgiveness, and for your saving grace. You are awesome beyond words! I humbly ask you to help us remember your way is so much better than anything we can do on our own. Please help me remember to put You first, rather than wait until I can stand myself no more. Lord Jesus, help me surrender to you and let everything go so that you can come in and perfect your work in my life. Amen.

18 July 2008

Depression or Moving Blues?

Did you know that Harvard researchers have found that one out of every six adults will suffer from depression at some point in their adult lives? And do you know how this culture treats depression? You guessed it, drugs.

I am one of those adults included in this statistic, and I took antidepressants for almost five years (first Zoloft for almost two years, then switching to Welbutrin after experiencing menopause type symptoms... hot flashes, night sweats, loss of libido, etc.). Even though it is recommended by professionals to seek therapy, that medication alone will not eliminate depression, how many people really do? It took me two years after being diagnosed before I sought therapy. Unfortunately, I think our culture just tells us to pop a pill and everything will be just fine.

But here's the problem.... pills don't really work. Would it surprise you in our drug obsessed culture to find out that research has shown that antidepressants don't really work except in cases of extreme depression? So if this is true, then why are MILLIONS of people taking these drugs?

I think the reason why so many people have missed the mark is because there is a spiritual element to depression that many if not most people do not even see. We allow the drugs to numb us.... yes, that is what the medication really does, it NUMBS us so that we won't feel the pain. But it does not just numb the pain, it numbs our joy, too. We often avoid seeking help or discovering the root of our problem because we are afraid of finding the pain inside. And we buy into the lies the enemy tells us.... that there is NOTHING we can do about it. We just have to wait it out, or take more drugs.

Last year, I woke up from that particular lie. I really did believe that once one of my "depressed spells" kicked in, there was nothing or no one who could change it. Often I would feel bad for a day, maybe two. My symptoms were always similar to PMS..... moodiness, irritability, feeling "blah", not wanting to do anything. But I had a friend who said she was not going to let me fall into that "hole". So the first depressed episode I had after my husband deployed, she marched right over to cheer me up. They didn't really try to say anything to cheer me up, they just sat with me. To my surprise, my mood lifted.

Over the next few months of the deployment, I learned that anytime a mood would kick in, I did not have to take it! I began to see that there was something spiritual going on. I began to skip my meds, but never more than a few in a row.... testing to see if there would be any noticable changes. To my surprise there were not. Then one day after I was battling a mood for two days, I commanded that spirits of depression leave me, in the name of Jesus, because they had no authority here. (I had seen a friend of mine do this for other people.) Immediately, I could feel this heavy weight lift off of my chest and I felt so much better. I had taken control of my depression, no longer letting it control me.

In January, I stopped taking my medication all together, a few weeks after Paul returned from his deployment. It took a couple of weeks for the medication to get out of my system, and around that same time there were several trials that came at me all at once. I began to feel a little overwhelmed, but the Lord was showing me that was both normal and ok. I began to see that I am supposed to be sad, angry, overwhelmed, or whatever other emotion hits me. The real challenge is to process and deal with the emotions instead of shoving them down. By March, I could see that I had spent five years physically and emotionally numbing myself medically, not just with food and television.

I am beginning to get in touch with my anger from life's experiences. I have been told this is good because depression is really anger turned inwards. So if I deal with my anger as it comes up, I should not have the same struggles I did in the past with depression. If I stop trying to surpress my feelings, I shouldn't get depressed. Sounds simple enough, right?

But now I am getting ready to face the hardest move I have ever had (I've been a military wife for 14 years and this is my fourth time relocating), and I find myself for the first time since January struggling with feeling depressed. I'm moody. I'm grumpy and irritable. I snap at my kids. I could be sweeter with my husband. I am apathetic and unmotivated. I don't want to attend social functions or be around these wonderful people I don't want to leave.

I've recently received advice that I should not think about goodbyes and leaving until the last minute so that I can just enjoy everyone and the time I have left. But how do I reconcile pushing back my sad feelings that is causing depression with processing my feelings to avoid depression? If depression is anger turned inwards, am I really depressed? I don't feel angry about leaving. Or am I just experiencing moving blues? The bottom line is that I feel the hurt of leaving these loved ones as the reality of leaving gets clearer and closer, and quite honestly I haven't been wanting to deal with the reality of leaving.

Don't get me wrong, I am excited about going. I know God has a plan and a purpose. I know that He has some kind of ministry for us there. He told me in January that we would not stay here, even though we didn't know until May where we were going. I have had a long time now to get used to the idea of moving. I think people have confused my sadness with not seeing God's plan and purpose. They are trying to cheer me up by reminding me of things that God has already shown me. But I do love them all for trying to make me feel better!

But maybe the answer is NOT to push it away until the last possible minute... because quite frankly, this is not working. Maybe the answer is to FEEL..... to turn to the Lord and just cry my heart out. And then I can feel better and enjoy my last month here in Virginia. I think back to Paul's deployment just a year ago. I knew that God had a wonderful plan for that time, and I was so excited to see how He would move in my life while Paul was away. I had hope and joy in His promises. But as the time began to approach for Paul to leave, I was having trouble getting over my sadness. It was overtaking me. Finally, three of my sisters in Christ prayed with me while I bawled... for at least half an hour if not an hour. I cried and cried. I felt the pain I had inside that my husband was leaving and I would be without him. But you know what? After I released all of that, I enjoyed him for every moment I had left with him. I didn't let repressed sadness ruin those precious few weeks.

Lord Jesus, as I learn daily to surrender my life to you, I ask that you help me release this sadness of being physically separated from my loved ones. Help me give it to all to you so that I can enjoy these precious weeks I have left.

Welcome to My Journey

I have had many friends with me already on this journey.... loved ones who have watched me change and grow (and shrink!). They have walked with me through difficult times, praying with me and lending shoulders to cry on. I have inspired many and found confidence in who I am becoming in Christ.

But now my journey is taking a drastic turn, and God is lifting me up and moving me onto a new path..... 2000 miles away from all these precious brothers and sisters in Christ who have been my love and support for the past 4 years. Although I am excited and thrilled to be moving along on God's path, I have to admit that I am scared. I have never had to leave so many people that I have loved before. Virginia is now home (nevermind the 25 years I lived in the Midwest), and this is where my family is.... the beautiful family of believers that God has placed in my life to help me learn and grow in Him. I love you all so much! It hurts to say goodbye, even though I know the goodbye is not forever.

Now I will be placed in an environment where almost every aspect of my life will be different than where I've been before. I am a city girl, and I am moving to the middle of nowhere in the desert of New Mexico (the closest city is a 40 minute drive away). Everything seems so new.... the climate, living in housing, the physical seclusion, military 24-7. Even to find a spirit filled church will most likely mean an hour commute each way. In some ways I feel like I am going off into my first mission field, and maybe this is exactly what God has in mind for my small family of believers.

I will also be showing up completely as the new me. God had brought me through eating addictions (and lets not forget the tv), and He has brought me off my antidepressants. I am learning for the first time in my life to feel and process emotions. He has shown me that I am worthy of having loving people in my life and has opened me up to real friendships. He has blessed me abundantly with talents and giftings. And I have gained so much confidence in myself amoung these wonderful friends who have seen how far I have come.

But now the new challenge is to stay complete in these changes when everyone I meet will not know how far I've come or how hard I've worked. They won't immediately know I have been very overweight, addicted, or depressed, withdrawn with social anxiety. They won't see all my insecurities of being such a young Christian, because the Lord has grown me so much in only four years. And I don't want to backslide. I must look to the Lord for my confidence, not the people who have seen my changes. I am learning now that I must always turn to God first, because he is the source of everything I need.

I have been told that I have been given the gift of writing, and that I have an eloquence about me that God will use to help so many people. And I know the first person God wants to help through this gifting is ME! After a dear friend of mine started her blog, and I could see how much God was working in her through her writing.... I began to talk about it with my husband, Paul. He strongly encouraged me to begin my own blog, because he has seen how writing has helped me, and he thinks it would be good for me.

So here I am. I know that I have walked a long way down my path of healing. But I also know that my journey to healing is far from completion. So now I am off to phase two.... my journey of writing. For everyone who has been inspired or felt blessed to have been a part of my journey, I invite you to join me... even if I am 2000 miles away.

April 2005

April 2005
Justin, Kim, Nikki, & Tricia

October 2011

October 2011