life of faith

taking baby steps & leaps & everything in between


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Things.

Today was my first day of “disability leave” from work. I guess I am a prideful person, but the word “disability” just pricks at something in me. I want to be able to do anything I want to do (like work), so it bothers me when I just can’t.

Being at home, though, and slowing down, has enabled me to notice and accomplish some things I normally wouldn’t.

Here are a couple of things I noticed around the house today:

^This guy. In case you can’t tell, that’s a ladybug in our bathroom. It’s not just any old ladybug; it’s a supernatural ladybug. I don’t know what this ladybug is eating, but he has survived in our bathroom for over four weeks. As far as I know, he hasn’t left the bathroom. I admire him. He is a champion. Every time I see him, I shake my head at his determination to survive and thrive in what seems to be a pretty stupid choice of living arrangements. I don’t know what Supernatural Ladybug is thinking, but I like him.

This is our door that won’t shut. Everyone has one, right? Interestingly, this door shut when we first looked through the house, during our final walk-through, and through the first several weeks of our living here. Then all of a sudden, it just stopped closing. For good. The end. I’m your Door, and I’m not going to shut for you anymore.

I don’t know if it’s us, or the Door, but we can’t figure out a) why it won’t close, and b) how to fix it, so we just live with this weird Door that won’t shut. And we blockade it with objects so that the cats don’t get into the closet and cut themselves on our lawn mower. The Door that Won’t Shut is like my health right now. Instead of fighting my body, I can just accept it the way it is, make some adjustments, and be at peace with it.

Oh, and here’s someone I noticed the other day:

That’s Theodore. He’s one of our awesome cats who is totally comfortable sleeping whatever way he feels like whenever he feels like it. Love his freedom to be himself.

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Sometimes Life Isn’t Pretty, but it’s Beautiful

Do you ever have times in your life when you know God is doing something purposeful with you? I know nothing in our lives is an accident, but I’m talking about seasons when you can clearly see God teaching you something.

I am in one of those seasons. I love these seasons because I get so excited about what I’m learning, growing closer to God, and how He is shaping me to be more like Christ. But, from a quick glance from the outside, these seasons can look like a weird time to be thankful.

I liken these seasons in life to our house. Our house is a MAJOR blessing. Does it look straight out of a Pottery Barn catalog or a Pinterest “Dream House” board? No. Do we have any new furniture besides some thrift store items and a $69 IKEA desk? No. Have we finally removed the freaky Dr. Seuss-looking rhododendron from our front yard? No. Am I sitting on a folding chair in front of aforementioned desk right now? Yes. Is one of our spare bedrooms dedicated to cats? Yes. Do we have one room filled with unpacked boxes for the foreseeable future? Yes. And does the dehumidifier sometimes startle me when it runs because it sounds like a flock of crickets? Yes.

However, if you could see the heart behind this house… we LOVE this house. We see a future in this house. We are taking steps to make this house our own piece by piece. We are making memories and growing our family in this house. And the house is already beautiful, we just need to enhance its beauty! It’s a process. Our house still has spiders and stinkbugs and scratches on the hardwood and undesirable paint colors and mess (sometimes smell), but we are going to tenderly take care of it because we love it, we bought it, and we see its potential as our house.

Dayne & I in front of our new house on move-in day.

And that is what God is doing with me and my husband. He’s invested in us, and He’s growing us in Him.

So… what does that look like in this season of our lives?

Well, sometimes it’s kind of funny. Like… we have ringworm. Dayne and I have ringworm. I joked about it when Dayne got what looked like a little bug bite on his arm, like, “haha, you have ringworm!”, but then my doctor told me I have ringworm and therefore Dayne has ringworm and now twice a day we help each other apply Lotrimin to all our “bug bites”. SO sexy.

Other times, it’s not so funny, but there is the opportunity for growth. I am currently going through some undiagnosed pain issues that have caused me to miss lots of work and to stop drinking coffee in the mornings and to otherwise completely revamp my daily routine. I am tempted to feel guilty, and like everyone at work is going to hate me, and to constantly think about all the work I need to get done, and to worry about being fired. But I am realizing – through a lot of prayer, a loving friend, a supportive husband, an overwhelmingly supportive boss, and time in the Psalms – that I don’t need to carry these worries. I have zero control over how I am feeling and I can’t diagnose myself. I can’t force myself to feel better and I can’t do a very good job at work while I’m sick. Jesus is the only solace I have, and He is completely in control of every little detail of my life. If I get fired, I get fired. If I can’t get the work done, I can’t get it done. If I can’t drink coffee, I can’t drink coffee. He will take care of me. He’s using this situation to change my perspective, i.e.: what does this look like from the angle of a sovereign, loving God? I think David and other Godly men of his time asked themselves this question a lot (Psalms 1-150).

Same with our marriage. Guys, marriage is HARD. Like, harder than I ever dreamed or imagined it could be. Like, please tell me someone is going to pay me for all this work I’m putting into our marriage. But the payment is our spiritual & emotional growth. And you better be thankful for that, because you’re gonna be in a tough place if that’s not enough for you.

Other times this season is funny and not so funny at the same time, like the Sump Pump Disaster of 2012. For a couple of days, our sump pump starting mysteriously dumping gallons & gallons of raw sewage into our yard. Where was it coming from? Why was it running through our French drain? How were we going to deal with the smell? Wonderful, yet unanswered questions. Our sump pump hasn’t run for a few weeks. It just suddenly stopped. It’s a mystery. In that, I’m learning to be comfortable with the unknown, and to not have to have everything under control or answers for everything all the time. To let God be God and to let myself be His.

So, even though it’s uncomfortable and I find myself praying for bravery a lot, I’m kind of oddly happy to be in this season. God is close to me. He is shaping me. He is showing me the reward bit by bit. And I’m learning to let go. Freedom in Christ is a beautiful thing.

“[Jesus] is not saying, ‘I will put you to bed, hold your hand, and sing you to sleep.’ But, in essence, He is saying, ‘I will get you out of bed – out of your listlessness and exhaustion, and out of your condition of being half dead while you are still alive.'” – Oswald Chambers


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Where Have I/We Been?

This blog almost died. In fact, if it weren’t for me having today off of work, this blog would definitely be in the ICU. I’d love to tell you I haven’t written because I am busy and life has gotten in the way, or because until now, our contract on the house we’re buying hasn’t been finalized, or that we are just so happy that I have no time in the midst of our newlywed bliss to sit down in front of my computer and write a blog post.

The truth is that I have been struggling with major depression and anxiety. I haven’t been able to focus on any one thing, I haven’t had an optimistic outlook on anything, I have been crying more than I think is healthy, and for the life of me I haven’t been able to figure out life. Over the past few weeks, this mood monster has driven me away from people and hobbies and activities into desperate isolation. I have had racing thoughts, stomachaches, tearfulness, and the inability to order things in my head.

Something I tried blogging about several times but never published was my worry that these huge mood swings and lack of control over my thoughts and feelings were related to birth control pills. I have been consistently on hormonal birth control for about 15 years. When we got married, I got very serious about staying on them and taking them regularly. Since then, I noticed increasing anxiety, more frequent tremendous, foggy bad moods with no source, and spontaneous irritability, among other things. There are days when I feel incredibly, deeply depressed for no reason, and there are days (like a couple of Sundays ago) when I have anxiety attacks that last hours.

I was genuinely worried about leaving the house. I could find a reason to be fearful of anything, and I often dwelled on those fears so much that I couldn’t enjoy anything.

I’m talking in the past tense because this past week, I decided to take control of my health: mind and body. I talked with my OB-GYN for years about going off of birth control with little feedback or support. After doing my own research and talking with many women, I started to believe that those little pills of hormones may be the root of my wacky, out-of-nowhere moods. I was genuinely tired of not being happy or enjoying anything, and freaking out about my job and marriage and how overwhelming life felt all the time.

So… two weeks ago when I was on the “no-pill” week, I re-filled my prescription just in case, and I made two appointments: one with my doctor and one with a therapist. To my great relief, my doctor completely supported my decision to go off of birth control pills, telling me my beliefs were not unfounded and that he thought, if I was ready for it, it was a good idea to stop taking them. He also suggested some possible solutions to my anxiety through medicine, which I am not quite ready for but happy to learn about.

I am waiting to be matched with a therapist through a local counseling service after my evaluation last week, which went well. I am confident that therapy is really going to help me sort through any lingering fears or bouts of depression.

In the meantime, though, I have been off of birth control for over a week and I feel incredibly different. One factor that may be playing a role is my extended Easter break from work, but I feel like myself again. If I am upset, I know why. I don’t feel overwhelmed by my to-do lists. I can choose to spend time with Dayne and put tasks aside, and I have regained the ability to pick my battles. I actually have been wanting to leave the house and looking forward to activities with my spouse and other people. Just because I have the day off today and I am alone hasn’t made me feel sad and lonely, but rather excited to read, catch up on some household tasks, write in my blog again, and maybe even get to other projects I don’t usually have the time for.

Today, I wanted to write in my blog and be honest. Everything is not perfect, and I haven’t been able to write for weeks because I haven’t been able to get my thought life or emotions together. Now that this entry is out of the way, I am hoping to have the freedom and time to write about our journey to our new house, our current phase of marriage, what I’m learning from my daily walk in the Bible, and other happenings of life. It feels like I have thrown a huge weight off my shoulders, and I am optimistic for what is to come.