Peace

Ten days ago I blogged about not panicking, when our world completely changed without warning. I was NOT going to panic because of the pandemic of COVID19. Then someone close to my heart made what I consider to be a really bad decision – more changes ensued – many people I love are forever changed. The ripple effects of one person’s choice will effect many and I cannot take away the pain of the ones I love dearly. That’s when I panicked 😳. When the 💩 yogurt 💩 hit the fan I did my best not to get any on me, but y’all – if I know ANYTHING about life – I know it gets messy. Filthy actually.

I’m no stranger to the soul crushing stress of betrayal- or the physical pain of depression- the ache of sadness and death and destruction of dreams. There were times I prayed for the baby inside of me to live and not die. Not only did the baby die in my body, but the destruction was so much and so powerful I wanted to die. The baby grew for so long in the wrong place in my body until finally it burst and the end result was that the ectopic pregnancy was surgically removed along with my left Fallopian tube and ovary. That’s what happened when things grew out of place. That was a dark season of death. That experience was not the only time I had the thought that my own death would surely be better than the current situation. But at the time I had two preschoolers who needed me to live and to keep on caring for their needs 24/7 – I could not just survive. I’m sure you have your own altar of sufferings – things you remember – times you sacrificed and felt like a piece of you died. When you are physically, mentally and emotionally feeling the pain of life and it feels like you are being crucified- day after day, week after week, year after year – well maybe you are. I know pain as I’m sure you do too – if you have been crucified WITH CHRIST.

I’m no martyr I am a mother. Motherhood means laying your life down for your family. Sacrifice means feeling the nails being driven right into your flesh, past your nerves and choosing to be silent instead of grumbling or complaining or screaming at your children or husband because the thought, “surely it’s them not me” keeps echoing throughout the emptiness of your soul and saturating the very crowded corridors of your mind. I know I fail often but When the waves of life keep knocking me down and dragging me back into the undertow and I think I might actually drown I stop. Settle myself in God’s Word – look for the promises and the hope. I choose LOVE, forgiveness and I know this is what is making me a warrior- the suffering does NOT have to be forever even when the circumstances do not get any better. The strength of endurance readies you for the spiritual warfare you are already in simply because you are CHOOSING LOVE. LOVE NEVER FAILS. the Bible defines love you can look it up, memorize it – write it down – but until you determine in your heart that you are THE DEFINITION OF GOD’s LOVE personified then they’re just words like graffiti on the walls of your heart. Put those words into practice- APPLY THEM TO YOUR LIFE – not just as a bandaids but ingest them, let them change you. Maybe then facing the trials will be bearable. BELIEVING JESUS HAS GONE BEFORE US to prepare the place of PEACE forges the endurance of a marathon gold medalist in me. The reality is that the race is run and won when we believe we are not running alone. I’m no superhero, JESUS is and His HOLY SPIRIT teaches and inspires me to be like Christ.

I have been pressed down and shaken together for years without falling apart – how did I NOT crumble PERMANENTLY? By faith in Jesus Christ. God sent His Holy Spirit to Comfort- He is ALWAYS as close as turned attention. I have learned a technique that is counterintuitive – praising God right in the middle of the pain. Choosing to say, “not my will Father God- but Your WILL FOR ME is what I trust.” I look up to the sky and raise my hands in worship and praise the God who gives – and takes away.

If I could have there were many times I would have changed the pain and not bore it at all, but let me bear witness to this: God’s purification promise is eternal peace. It takes courage to believe the promise when the tomb is sealed and the darkness is tangible. It takes faith to trust God’s plan when you think you can produce a better outcome with something less than death. God himself is with you in your tomb. That’s why I’m still here – to testify that God is good ALL THE TIME even in the tomb. Eternal life doesn’t end in the tomb – eternal peace doesn’t either.

Panic

Don’t! Just don’t.

Coronavirus is scary. It’s scary because it makes us look at our own mortality, and that’s an unknown.

There are many unknowns in this life, many opportunities for fear, anxiety or even panic. If you know Jesus, you have no reason to fear -ANYTHING. Be wise. Don’t know how? You can start by reading the book of wisdom in your Bible right now. Go online and read the chapter in Proverbs that coincides with today’s date. Example: today is Monday, March 16,2020 -either open your physical Bible or go online and look up Proverbs 16 and read it- go on- I’ll wait right here…

Hate

When I say the word hate OUTLOUD I envision a sharp knife. I think of a person being stabbed in the back. Maybe that stems from my own personal experience at a young age, my best friend betrayed me and left me feeling stabbed in the back. My first thoughts about the whole incident were, “why does she hate me?” Followed by, “What’s wrong with me?” Followed by, “I hate her!” Followed by shame. It took me a little while to get around the whole cycle of grief to visit the feelings of anger and hate, but I got there – eventually. Finding my way back from hate was a much longer process than it took me to get there and that’s what I want to write about today.

God’s Word calls that navigation process “FORGIVENESS”. Forgiveness is a choice and then it becomes a process. But it begins with the simple choice: are we going to forgive or hold a grudge? Holding onto a grudge is never going to end well, especially for the one holding it. Families are tormented by grudges. Nations are too. Actually this whole world is affected by the grudge the enemy of God holds against his Creator.

When we hold a grudge we are united with the enemy of God – the devil. By holding onto the grudge we are choosing to distance ourself from God – THE HOLY ONE. A grudge is like a weapon the enemy of LOVE uses to stir up anger, hate and eventually it will summon death. God is Love. God is eternal life. That’s what the Bible taught me – God is eternal. We are eternal- SPIRITUALLY. Our physical body gets tired affecting our mindset. I don’t know about you but I’ve been so tired I didn’t want to even think of eternal life. I confess: in my own experiences life can feel draining and at one point I just wanted to stop fighting – to stop living (like eternally). The thoughts of death wooed me into a state of complacency which eventually led to depression.

Referring back to my first paragraph, to being hurt by someone I loved and trusted and being betrayed: that brought out feelings from inside of me I never knew existed. Anger led to the blame game. I eventually began nursing a victim mentality which led to feelings of hatred. Disgust. Shame. Honestly I felt shame for having hatred for the person who betrayed me. My friend was selfish and from that self centered-ness she hurt my feelings. She became my enemy. The one who was once my friend became my bitter enemy. I was too young (and immature) to understand how to separate the person from what she did. I’m going to tell you the truth- I honestly don’t think she did what she did “to me”. She was selfish and probably wasn’t even thinking of me when she did what she did. Maybe I was too immature to be able to handle the heavy stuff of betrayal. Truth be told I was also being selfish and self centered – in my pain I began to focus only on myself and the fact the I was the victim. Maybe I handled it all wrong, but I chose to sever the whole friendship. God’s Word teaches forgiveness but I was not reading God’s Word at that time in my life – I was just trying to figure it all out for myself in my own limited thinking . In fact I was so focused on my own feelings and pain and myself – which is the definition of “selfish”. Hmm… I had to think about this…

For the record severing the relationship didn’t solve my hatred for her, if anything it was like a Petri dish in which my hatred was cultivated and grew like a virus. I was infected with hatred and it was completely contagious to everyone I came into contact with. My anger bred dislike, disdain, hatred, division, sarcasm and feelings of being victimized which created the space for vengeance to begin brewing inside of me. Until I read in the Bible, “Vengeance is Mine, says the Lord!” At that point I knew I needed to release the vengeance in my heart to God directly and stop allowing death and depression to woo me.

It took me many years to process exactly how hatred would be the death of me if I allowed myself to harbor it in my heart. Then many years later I was betrayed on a much deeper level with a much more significant relationship- the feelings that got all stirred up inside me were powerful. Hatred was still there lying dormant. Failure to destroy hatred at its root could be the death of me. This time around being betrayed I was much better prepared to handle the whole virus that came along with betrayal- thank God! It would have been overwhelming trying to figure it all out on my own -thank God for the comforting words of The Holy Bible and it’s wisdom. I wanted to die. Cease to exist. It felt good to imagine lights out, just stop living forever. But is that what happens when we die? According to God’s Word, no! We are made in His image and our spirit is eternal- I had to get my SPIRIT right with God. PSALM 51:10 Became my daily affirmation, my prayer: “Create in me a PURE HEART, O GOD, and renew a right spirit within me!” We do NOT cease to exist when our body dies, our spirit lives eternally with or without God – WE GET TO CHOOSE! So we had better get on with the business of forgiveness. If we don’t the effects will be eternal.

This is where many people have gotten stuck – in anger. In hatred. I don’t think most people have the understanding that holding onto anger is linking yourself up to a destiny with death. We are allowed to be angry, but unfortunately we cannot afford to get stuck there in that emotion. It leads to anxiety and depression. It leads to death. This may sound crazy, but it almost feels like life for some folks- like they’re not fully alive unless they have that explosive emotion of anger coursing through their bloodstream. I used to think anger was the only fuel for me to get ahead and not be trampled by other people in THEIR PERSONAL PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. How silly of me! I thought I HAD TO BE AGGRESSIVE FOR THE THINGS I WANTED FOR MYSELF – or people would walk all over me like a door mat. I’m no door mat. But I have learned how to lay my life down and submit my will to GOD AND HIS WILL FOR MY LIFE BECAUSE I TRUST HIM. I TRUST GOD.

I personally know some people who say they trust God’s plan but hold on to their own plans, that’s not true trust. TRUST IS LETTING GO COMPLETELY. The people in my life who hold onto their anger are not always the people I choose to spend time with because they refuse to believe that their anger is NOT SERVING THEM WELL. They think they’re right. They think they’re justified, but what does God say? What can I do to help the people I love understand the fact that God has THE VERY LAST WORD? Nothing. So I pray and keep my distance. Let me warn you – if you are an angry parent you are NOT GOING TO TEACH YOUR CHILDREN ANYTHING BEYOND YOUR ANGER – you are going to pass it on to your children and that legacy doesn’t honor God. Anger is rooted in pride. Don’t believe me? Do your research! Pride is a prison that will keep you from LOVE and from God. Don’t believe me? Ask Him! Finding your way back from the hate is impossible without God, but WITH GOD ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE. Be encouraged.

Joy

I just finished writing my morning pages. As I was writing I began to think about my word for the year 2020 which is ”JOY”. Such a tiny word with great meaning. I got to thinking what is Joy? So I asked Siri, “is the plural form of joy “joys”? Her answer: “The noun ‘joy’ can be countable or uncountable. In more general, commonly used contexts, the plural form will also be joy. However, in more specific contexts, the plural form can also be “joys” e.g. in reference to various types of joys or a collection of joys. Then I asked her, “Siri, define joy.” Her reply, “As a noun it means a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.”

Oh, Siri – you had me at collection…

So there I have it. I began thinking about curating a collection of my own personal joys. Something I could keep and add to. Something I could look at in the absence of joy, because when joy is absent depression is lurking nearby. I’m not fond of depression. That may seem like an obviously ridiculous statement but I think sometimes I have kept depression around like a puppy sitting in my lap I would pet it and feed it and nourish it. Why would I do that? I’m not sure, but I did. I kept depression around allowing myself the indulgence of its bad company. Sounds foolish when I imagine it that way. I’m sure no one else in the world understands that foolishness- that makes me weird I guess. Certainly not normal. “Hello darkness my old friend…”

In my experience Joy extinguishes depression – in my world joy is depression’s kryptonite. I want to destroy depression- annihilate it. But depression is an ugly monster who threatens to intentionally interrupt my time spent with joy. Depression is not polite. It does not make an appointment on my calendar or allow me to pencil it into my planner. Nope. Depression hounds me constantly and I battle it often. It is true though that in my experience Joy is depression’s kryptonite.

So what brings me great pleasure and happiness? What ushers in Joy?Words (to be more specific the words I read in the Book of Psalms from the Bible), pens (specifically pretty fountain pens with gold tips and beautiful, vibrant inks), writing, reading books and communication (specifically kind words of communication with God and the people I love) in general those things tend to bring me joy. I decided to begin writing a collection of my joys a book of joy or a list of things that bring me joy. Words bring me joy. Simply curating this list alone will be a joyful experience for me. I’m such a nerd, the thought of having another thing to make a list of makes me feel giddy – I just found another thing that brings me joy!

If joy is found everywhere, in even the smallest and seemingly insignificant things, why then do I even find myself battling depression – like ever? Is depression a chemical imbalance in my brain as I’ve read it can be for some people? I’ve been to a doctor, a therapist, a counselor- I’ve tried self medicating- But the fear of losing my mind to the addiction eventually led me away from drugs and booze and bottles of wine that promised me peace but basically knocked me out for the night. I’ve been professionally prescribed anti-depression meds. – that numbed my feels and gave me other side effects- like being completely numb. One prescription drug even caused me to have nightmares and sleep paralysis- no thanks – that was more than a little bit frightening. Those experiences did however make me realize that I do have choices to make. I don’t have to suffer in silence. The bravest thing I can do to annihilate depression and anxiety is to confront it. To talk about it. To recognize the truth that I don’t have to settle for a life in submission to the negativity of depression and anxiety or addiction or suffering. Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional. It really is. Stop right here and think on that for a while.

For me the only thing that annihilated depression for even a moment was Joy! Joy is my super hero! Maybe depression is brought on by my hormones? Hmm, I wonder if hormones and my body’s chemical balance is the same thing? LOL who knows? I’m not a doctor practicing medicine, but I have practiced living in my own body for 52 years now, I know myself better than my doctors do. I did not find relief from depression through medication- personally I found myself foggy and that was not a joyful experience either.

All I know is that depression is not my friend. Depression is like a bad boyfriend. I know he is no good for me, but I cannot seem to ghost him. How does a person break up with depression? I’m going to figure this out for myself. I’m not a doctor. I’m not offering advice to anyone. I’m simply going to chronicle my experiences with Joy and depression as if they are two different people I’ve met. This is a thought: I regularly do life with Joy and depression, but they’re never in the room at the same time. In fact they’re opposing teammates inside of me. They are opposite, like light and dark.

When depression is in the room I feel like I’m in the dark. I feel gloom, anxiety and sadness – feelings too heavy for me to name – too heavy for me to carry alone. Death feels present. I’m scared. I feel like I’m in a dingy room with ugly thoughts and there is a horror movie playing in the background of my mind. I wish I could turn it off, but I’m sitting still, I can’t move, I’m frozen. Fight- or flight- or freeze… I’ve read that those are the three ways people respond to confrontation. Depression does not always announce itself as a confrontation – sometimes but not always – sometimes it comes in stealth mode. Depression has learned that I don’t like confrontation. Depression has tried to befriend me, to mesmerize me with its depth and feeling. Depression is sneaky, it does not always act like a bully (confrontation is always a bully). I guess depression figured out that I don’t like bullies. Sometimes depression just wants to sit with me. Refusing to confront me, just a puppy on my lap.

My response to confrontation is usually to take flight, but sometimes I just freeze. I have the thought that I want to move, but I cannot. I’m literally frozen in time. It’s like I’m living in a high rise apartment building in a room with walls too thin to try to have any peace. There is either country music or heavy metal music playing somewhere or everywhere and I can hear people fighting, arguing, screaming angry words and hatred. This feels like what I would imagine hell to feel like. A place I cannot escape. If only I could move, get up and find the light switch of JOY on the walls of depression- if only I could flip that switch.

I can choose joy, can’t I? Joy is a thought I can choose to think even when I’m alone in the darkness with depression. I can choose JOY and she’ll annihilate depression. Yes, JOY IS MY SUPERHERO. But Super Heroes don’t hang out all the time- they appear when they’re called. They show up you holler’ for ‘em. They are always there when they are needed unless kryptonite is present. So what is Joy’s kryptonite? You guessed it – Depression. That’s been my experience with Joy and Depression.

I’m going to make a list of joys. A list of things that remind me of the great pleasure and happiness I have experienced in my life. Maybe that is the key that will unlock me from the prison cell of depression when it shows up unannounced and barges in on me. I don’t want to be locked away in depression forever. I can do something to escape it. As a Christian I am a FREE AGENT, right? So this blog is going to chronicle my personal experiences with Joy and depression. I feel hopeful. You can join me if you’d like, but either way I’ll be here typing the words – searching for the way to annihilate depression as I cultivate and curate my collection of Joy! Today’s addition to my collection is writing this blog.

My offering…

I’m writing a book. I started writing it on September 11, 2019. I remember the day clearly because September 11 has become somewhat of a memorable day- not only for the events that rocked our nation in 2001 but also for the local events in 2017. Hurricane Irma brought flooding into our town which was declared a national disaster area but that’s another story for another day. I’m telling you about my experience with writing a novel because for me it’s kinda’ huge, like a hurricane or a national tragedy it’s something that is completely changing the way I experience my daily life.

Morning thoughts: What if I found out that writing this book (with all the personal cost to me) is for my eyes only? Will I continue to write it? What if writing this book never feeds a hungry soul, never ministers to anyone but me? Will I continue? What if the lessons are for my life only will I learn them? Yes, I’m going to finish writing this book: CHASING LIGHT – because I am a writer; I am committed to finish what I start regardless of the cost or the RETURN ON INVESTMENT. I’m not writing for fame or fortune or to teach anyone anything! I’m not writing to impress people. I AM COMMITTED TO WRITING THIS BOOK FOR THE GLORY OF GOD— but does HE need me to do that – write for His Glory? ABSOLUTELY NOT – it is my offering- my drawing to THE ONE I LOVE from my kindergarten class done with all the chubby easy to hold crayon scribblings – it is my clumsy attempt to dance in His presence – my song belted out off key & maybe just a little bit too loud. It is my alabaster box – my tiny offering – my minuscule gift to Him offered up in GREAT love. I know that I am accepted.

Why then should I even mention the fact that I’m writing a book to another breathing soul? To encourage – maybe you – to do what you can, where you are, with what you’ve got. To polish what might be tarnished. To shine the light inside of you. Even if you are just starting out (or even starting over – AGAIN) be encouraged where you are right now. We are each precious to OUR FATHER right where we are – at this very moment.

If no one else reads it – sees it – hears it – use your gifts and talents anyway, do it (whatever “it” is for you) because that’s what GOD created you to do. Ask JESUS to get you suited up and put on the FULL ARMOR OF GOD and while you’re sharpening your sword ⚔️ don’t despise your humble or small beginnings. The battle has begun and you mustn’t forget that you are a warrior!

Why does it matter – why do I matter? I cannot answer that for you -I cannot even it for myself. Maybe only God knows why He created us for such a time as this. If you don’t know what He created you for then ask Him. Trust Him. (Because trusting Him is enough). Begin where you are, use what you have, stay connected to The Vine and be amazed by what He is cultivating in you. I know He is reading my heart and I believe it is bringing Him joy. I am accepted and so are you. That is why I’m writing this book. #ThePenIsMightierThanTheSword

Lessons from the bunny trail…

Good day my friend. First, let me share this quote by Brian Herbert, “The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice.” Hmm, there’s that word again – CHOICE. That word is like a little fairy sprite who has been flitting on and off my radar for years. I like it. I’m glad to know that word and I’m even “gladder” (not an incorrect word by the way – however, it may be unfamiliar enough to be taken as such, but I digress!) If you choose to hang around me long enough you’ll surely notice that’s what I do. I digress. Like, a lot. And in case you don’t know, that’s called a “bunny trail” – it is when someone is sharing information and gets off topic. I’ve been this way my entire life. I used to think it was my fatal flaw, until I learned to just relax and embrace the lessons from the bunny trail. They’re there, you know, and you get to find those little treasures if you’ll seek them. Maybe reading this blog right now is a bunny trail for you, hmm? Were you online doing something else and now somehow you’re here, making friends with the self appointed queen of the bunny trails? If so, welcome to my world!

WARNING: the following words are my own experiences. I should tell you I’m no licensed therapist or doctor and I’ve been accused of living a sort of a fairytale life, with strange ideas and big dreams. It’s a place where my imagination can chase away every evil thing with one name: JESUS. I can close my eyes and think of eternity in Heaven with Jesus my Savior and it brings me great joy and incredible peace. I go to a place inside my own mind where a place that may not make sense to the rest of the world, but I’m not trying to make sense of things that I’m believing for by faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God, according to His own Word. I’m just trying to make it through today with zero drama although sometimes I feel like Alice in Wonderland – not just when she fell down that rabbit hole but because she kept going even when things didn’t make sense. She spoke to the Queen and said she couldn’t believe for impossible things, and the Queen replied, “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” Thats me – I’m the Queen.

How do I ever make progress in life if I keep going down all the bunny trails? The constant distractions could potentially cause great anxiety or depression if I focused on how often or how far I’ve gotten off track. But anxiety is a liar, and it is not from God, so I reject it- it’s that simple for me. The second it starts niggling at the back of my mind – I flick it away – if not it would rise up and swallow me whole. Crushing anxiety in her tiny vulnerable beginning is how I wrote an entire novel. It is how I was able to raise a family, be faithfully married for almost thirty years and learn anything while resting at the feet of Jesus. The anxious distractions called to me, but I ghosted them and tried to focus. Sometimes I actually have to set a timer for five minutes (or more – or less) and I just choose to stay focused until the timer goes off. So how in the world did I teach a child (or three) how to read and write and do arithmetic? (I homeschooled our three children, by the way.) I accomplished all these things and more as a very distractible human because of my choices. Also because I pay attention to words and I choose to learn from them. Remember that quote from the beginning of today’s blog post about the willingness to learn? I choose to learn something new every day by reading. I love to read – to be more specific I love to read God’s words.

I’m going to have to make this clear from the start of our relationship – you and me – I’m a word nerd. If you understand that label and you’re still reading this, I’m pretty much going with the assumption that you are not here by coincidence? You might be a word nerd too! Or maybe you’re just curious what it feels like to be inside the mind of chaos. It feels like living in the eye of a storm. Big storms actually, like catastrophic event storms that destroyed things or washed things clear away. I’ll share more on that in a different post. But today I’m inviting you to come over to this little blog I’m building Word by word. I’d love to have you come back as often as you want for a few new words, some thoughts and hopefully a whole heap of inspiration that you can take back to your part of the world and share with your people. Remember the song from your childhood, “this little light of mine…”? Well that kinda’ describes my blog. It’s my little piece of cyberspace. Like one tiny star in a huge galaxy- I’m here to glow in this present darkness. My Source of light is not my own. It is a reflection of the LOVE OF GOD – who’s Holy Spirit is my inspiration. I hope you’re getting in on this stuff (inspiration) because it’s the sweetest stuff like donuts and coffee – without the caffeine buzz and the calories.

I want to be that friend who tells you the truth in love. If you’re reading this blog may you find encouragement (not confusion) by the end of our time together. Today (or tonight depending on when you’re reading this) is good – but its only good because this is the day that The Lord has made. I WILL rejoice and BE GLAD in it (by choice) and you can too! Life is a series of choices, and we are all responsible for the consequences of our choices.

I’ve chosen to publish this blog for both of us because I have a story (or a few) to tell and I hope to encourage you with my musings. You have a story too. Do you realize you are the author of your own story? Do you want to live happily ever after? Then take responsibility for your own personal happiness. You can, you know. You alone have the power to make that happen. Don’t get discouraged when the tough times come, they are coming. They’re coming and they’ll strengthen you if you let them, but that is only if you persevere. There’s going to be some bad times, some sad times and some hard times too and for those times you might need help (you will DEFINITELY need help) so ask for it. I’ve been blessed to have some care givers in my life who see passed my , “I’m fine!” (Lies). We all need to manage our own personal thoughts about life and about how other people’s choices are affecting us. Mean people suck. That’s the ugly truth (and an offensive word), but I’ll make you a promise right now: I’ll keep this blog free from swear words, I’m not promising I never say them, but I’ll share with you what my Poppa used to say, “keep your words soft and sweet – someday you may have to eat them!” So no swear words, pinky promise. Oh, and I guess I should also mention: I have a history of recreational drug abuse – I dabbled in some stupid stuff in my late teens/early twenties. I’m not proud of that, but I’m not ashamed to admit it either because I’ve been clean and sober now for 28 years. That said, I’m not willing to let anything come between me and my sobriety. Nothing. My sobriety just so happens to coincide with motherhood. For the record: I do NOT recommend getting pregnant as a 12 step recovery program (certainly not three times in a row like I did). That would be really stupid and irresponsible, but I digress. I do that a lot. Get off track as well as do stupid irresponsible things sometimes- but I’m going to call those life lessons. I get off track a lot, I’m prone to wander. We all are. Hence the title of this blog, “Lessons from the bunny trail…”

You can choose to believe that the bad times will pass, you might need to work through them to get passed them, but on the other side of the bad will come the good. You appreciate the good times more when you’ve been through the bad. Victory is sweeter after a losing streak – I don’t know why, that’s just the way life is. So don’t try to dive into the stupid stuff (like I did) but don’t sit on the sidelines wishing you had experienced the game either!

Same with the sad stuff. Don’t get stuck in the sad. You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness, did you know that? (Did you just sing that last line in your head? I sang it out loud!) That’s not just a catchy phrase in a song, it’s true. Sadness will stick around as long as you let her. Sometimes you actually need to lead her straight to the door and give her a push. Guess how I know? I’ve allowed myself to indulge in her company and become addicted to her. It’s weird I know, but let me be the one to tell you that addiction can drive people away from you and leave you lonely and it can make you mean. But that’s your choice. No one wants to chill with a drama queen, or a grumpy person. I’m telling you this truth in love, because someone else has shared it with me. I had a therapist shed the light of truth into the darkest corridors of my mind. It was uncomfortable but cleaning out the cobwebs is essential and nothing to fear. So if you’ve been sad for more than a few days or a week or a month – talk to your doctor about it because I am not a doctor. And I’m not talking about clinical depression right now. Or grieving the death of someone you love. Or trauma. Those are big baddies, the bad stuff you’re going to need help with. That’s gonna take you being kind and patient with your own grieving process. Just don’t get stuck in it. I’m not telling you to just get over it, but you can get through grieving and depression when you’re ready. Don’t try to rush it, but just don’t get stuck in the trauma. Good news here: some stuff you CAN just decide to get over and GUESS WHAT? You will be better off just letting go of sadness, she’s a drama queen and she’s not your friend. When you cultivate the relationship with sadness it won’t end well for you. I promise you that. The stinkin’ thinkin’ has got to stop.

You cannot control everything thing, but your thoughts are one hundred percent yours. You get to control your thoughts. It takes a lot of practice, and it’s It’s a huge challenge for me because I have a crowded brain. I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder and I get easily distracted staying OFF the bunny trail is really, really challenging for me. In fact most of my life has been lived of the bunny trail. I make a plan, it gets derailed. I get back on task – and, “SQUIRREL!” My doctor prescribed meds to help me stay focused a few years back, but there were side effects. I was also prescribed anti-depressant meds for a while but the negative side effects always outweighed the benefits so I decided with the help of my doctor that they were not the answer for me. And quite honestly I just didn’t want to become dependent on a drug to make me think straight for the rest of my life. Also, I’m not comfortable loaning my brain to a pharmaceutical company for years only to realize that the drug they created has been recalled a few years later after people had to deal with the sometimes serious side effects. Call me jaded or paranoid, but hey – it has happened and I don’t want it happening to me. Instead of trying to fix my “faulty wiring” I’m choosing o embrace it.

Sometimes I realize (often after I reach a goal or destination) that I got off track. I made it harder than it needed to be, but the lessons learned along the way were priceless! I have made a lifetime of “failing forward” so when I start having that silly stinkin’ thinking’ like, “oh no, I’m so far behind” our “I’m so distracted and so far off the beaten path- I don’t even know the way to get back on track”. I nip those thoughts in the bud by asking God to show me the lesson on the bunny trail! I have learned to enjoy the view on the “bunny trails” of my life and stop and ask Father God, “What are you teaching me here Lord? What do you want me to learn? Who am I supposed to minister to? If I’m way off track, forgive me Father for YOU KNOW I’M PRONE TO WANDER, but I’m YOUR LITTLE LAMB- draw me Lord and put me back where YOU want me! Oh Father BIND MY WANDERING HEART TO THEE!”

I am writing this blog – to encourage you (and myself if I’m going to be totally transparent with you). You alone can decide to take responsibility right now and change whatever situation you find yourself in. I am an expert at doing just that. Let me introduce myself, I am Shawnie and I have been battling the darkness pretty consistently now for over fifty-two years. It is exhausting some days – I am not even going to try to say staying positive and encouraged in this present dark world we live is an easy thing to do because it is not, but I can assure you I’m not giving up on joy. Joy is not a “one and done” experience – we get to experience joy whenever we choose.

I met with a few ladies yesterday who did not believe me when I told them that I was an introvert. I shared with them the fact that I battle depression and they acted surprised. I have known these ladies for several years. But they only see the me I portray, not the inner me. They don’t get to know my inner thoughts (and all the saints said, “glory hallelujiah”!). They don’t know the girl who bullies herself and rarely feels like she measures up to the world’s standards. The girl who is prone to wander off topic and follow bunny trails when I have conversations out loud with people or even the inner chatter that races, switches gears or slams on the breaks when she’s just done. The know the girl who just wants to be filled with joy and peace, and dance in the sunshine! Even some of my closest friends think I am an extrovert and they thought perhaps I did not understand the meaning of the word “introvert”. Oh, but I do. Here are a couple of definitions that helped me understand the word “introvert’ (pay close attention to the definition of the word “reticent”): 1. Introvert[ˈintrəˌvərt]NOUN a shy, reticent person. 2.Reticent[ˈredəsənt]ADJECTIVE not revealing one’s thoughts or feelings readily. Another definition I found for an introvert according to introvertdear.com is “someone who prefers calm, minimally simulating environments. Introverts tend to feel drained after socializing and regain their energy by spending time alone. This is largely because introvert’s brains respond to dopamine differently than an extrovert’s brain.” Yeah that describes me perfectly. My friends and even some of my family members don’t know how often I battle that inner mean girl. They don’t hear from the girl in my head who belittles and bullies me pretty consistently and truth be told has opinions I don’t want to agree with. I sound crazy, don’t I? I’m willing to risk that. Letting my crazy peek out doesn’t give me anxiety- I’ve got nothing to hide if it’s going to benefit another person. I’m not afraid of being judged by others because quite honestly the bullies I’ve battled for years are just shadows and so are judgements. IF PEOPLE ARE JUDGING ME – WELL, THAT’S THEIR BUSINESS! I don’t allow myself to indulge in the question of what other people think? I honestly don’t worry about that. I care about what God thinks about me. Understanding who we are and how we are wired by God and accepting that as a gift helps us to be kinder to ourselves, don’t you think? I used to think I “should be” more outgoing, so I learned how to act like an extrovert, but that is not how God created me. I have raised (and homeschooled) three children, and now I am blessed with four grandchildren. As I watch these tiny humans grow and mature one thing is certain – each one is wired differently and I love each one of them individually and equally.

I believe other people’s opinions and my own anxious thoughts are simply shadows. They’re just like the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz when I pulled back the curtain and revealed the truth, that inner chatter has to bow to Jesus Christ. He runs this show. His Holy Spirit teaches and guides me. It is Him I answer to. I have learned how to take control over the inner chatter and put her in time out, but she’s there brooding in the corner of my mind waiting to blurt out her opinions at any given moment. I’ve been known to put my tongue between my front two teeth and bite down hard in order to take control of my tongue and the potential it has to become a weapon of mass destruction. The Bible calls that taming the tongue. It’s also a form of self control. Thank God I have cultivated the fruit of self control which is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit who is my gift from God. I don’t know who’s reading this or where you might be sprititually, but a christian receives the gift of the Holy Spirit once they ask Jesus to become the Lord over their life and accept His gift of salvation. Its a pretty sweet exchange, but you only get this exchange by having a relationship with Jesus Christ. If you don’t believe me – ask Him for yourself. He turns no one away who humbles themself to Him. In my experience without Holy Spirit I’d still just be a pretender, a wannabe’ Christian – it is Holy Spirit who guides and directs and teaches me – My Comforter – The One who sticks closer than a brother. Without Holy Spirit I’m pretty sure I would not have self control and I probably would not be writing this. I might not even be alive, who knows? But I am, and so are you. So let’s choose to live. I mean really live. Let’s live this one wonderful life – this gift- ON PURPOSE FOR GOD’S GLORY. I’m going doing it one day at a time. Will you? It’s your choice.