March 28, 2008

The Comeback Kid.

The last few days I have felt... lighter. Like I can breathe again and everything is going to be just fine. I have had moments of intense joy- usually when I am alone in my car. They are moments that make me drum hard on my steering wheel and press down on the gas and drop my windows. I find myself saying "Yes. Yes. Yes." under my breath in these moments... as if I can't stop agreeing with what is going on inside my heart. And yet, life is... the same. Nothing drastic has changed, except that I am suddenly aware of the fact that God is closer to me than my own skin and that He's the one rooting the loudest from the bleachers of my day-to-day story. Like the parent who never misses a game and even brought their own inflatable "Emery is #1!" cushion to sit on for when they aren't on their feet whooping and hollering in triumph. (Triumph that doesn't falter even when victory seems impossible.)

The outcome is set. Emery wins the game. A comeback victory that will go down in history.

And you've got the same fate! Did you know that? It's true. But sometimes we forget that... or maybe we've never ever been told... or maybe we used to believe it when we were little and the world was softer around the edges...

I think sometimes we just start to focus more on the scoreboard than the joy of the sport. And that's when our feet get tripped up and we forget that the trophy's already sitting in the front seat of our car- just waiting to be brought home and set upon the shelf.

March 24, 2008

Finally Getting an Answer.

(AKA "And you thought that one post was long!")

I'm sorry for my abrupt absence over the last week or two... I have been busy with house guests this past month and then have spent the last few days winding down... doing nothing much at all. Ezra has also suddenly started having a really difficult time napping (even though it is obvious he still needs to nap- he's a grump-a-palooza when he doesn't sleep during the day), so most of my afternoons have been spent trying to coax, convince, bribe, or snuggle a hyper toddler to sleep- a feat that is only surpassed in difficulty by one thing: WRESTLING HUNGRY MAN-EATING ALLIGATORS.

My free time has been sparse, but Ezra's school starts up again this week and I will try to keep you all updated while trying to scale the mountain of THINGS TO DO that has been piling up over the last few weeks.

Here's what has been taking place in my head lately:

I was taking the anti-depressants faithfully for about 16 days while still begging God to tell me if I was doing what was best for me or if I just needed to step back and let Him do some stuff in my heart. I was so desperate for an answer from Him that I spent many nights laying in the dark on Ezra's window seat after everyone had fallen asleep- looking up at the stars through the branches of the tree in the front yard- promising Him I'd do whatever He wanted me to do... I just needed to hear His voice.

"All I'm asking for, God, is a whisper. An inkling. Anything at all..."

All day long, everyday, I was still unsure about the pills I'd been swallowing. I researched them. I talked to anyone who was willing to listen about them. I looked into other options. One day I'd be convinced I was on the right path, the next day I'd find myself hovering the bag above the trash can- moments away from chucking the things all together.

It didn't help when the Sunday before last, a woman stood up in front of our church and said she'd been completely healed of depression. It was something that had been in her family for generations... she'd been on medication for YEARS. Then God healed her and told her to stop taking the pills, and she said she'd never felt better in her whole life since then. She'd stopped cold turkey.

My stomach churned and I forced my hands to clap as the community cheered and praised God for her healing. I'd only been taking the pills for a few days. I felt two inches tall. I felt jealous. I felt like I just didn't have enough faith. I felt awful for feeling this way instead of being genuinely moved by her testimony- moved toward HOPE instead of DESPAIR.

Chris reminded me that it would be the same if I had had cancer... and someone else stood up and said God had healed them of cancer. It would be a hard thing to not feel... unseen by the God who supposedly sees all.

After two and a half weeks on the medication, I still hadn't noticed any considerable changes. They say it takes 4-6 weeks to build up in your system. I have, however, noticed HEADACHES. Grinding ones.

Then, a couple of days ago, Chris took Ezra out to breakfast, and I snuck away to a local cafe and spent a good chunk of time sipping coffee and frantically journaling. I hadn't picked up a pen in 10 days. My hand couldn't keep up with all I wanted to get out on paper.

And THAT'S when God decided to show up.

In my journal, I started asking myself about who God is... who He has been in my life so far. And I began to feel that the God who I'd gotten a chance to see over the past 25 years absolutely did not need me to be taking those pills. I suddenly caught the realization that He was strong enough to take care of it- and that He would take care of it. And the thing that He wants to do through me isn't going to be easy by any means, but at the end of it all, He wants to get ALL the glory for the transformation in my life and my heart... and for ME personally, at this time in my life, that means kicking the pills to the curb. Simply because, when this season in my life is at a close, I feel like he wants me to be able to know that HE ALONE did the transforming thing inside me... so that no pill would get even a fraction of the honor He deserves.

This might sound harsh to some of you right now, and I understand that. Just as the testimony at church on Sunday was hard for me to hear two weeks ago. I'm not making ANY blanket statements here... I am not saying that all medication is bad or that everyone should stop taking them. I'm not saying that at all. There are people out there who desperately need this kind of medication to correct an imbalance that could potentially threaten their lives... just as people need chemotherapy when cancer is ravaging their cells. I get that and respect that fully.

But what if much of this generation has bought into a lie? That even the tiniest bit of discomfort needs to be corrected and smoothed over? What if we are over-medicating ourselves... simply because we've never had a chance to learn that hardship alone produces character and faith in a society that has a quick fix for EVERY ailment- from bad breath to flat chests to balding heads?

Obviously, there are some who need medication to function. But I am not one of those people. I am not consumed by thoughts of death or wanting to die. I am simply feeling BLAH. Uninspired. "Bummed out". And I'm choosing to work through it- even if it's the harder route- without medication. Because I feel like that's what God is asking me to do.

As I sat in that coffee shop, God started showing me all the people of faith in the Bible that, if they were here today, would be PERFECT candidates for medication. Moses. Wandered in the desert for 40 years with a pack of grumbling Israelites who kept saying the SLAVERY he'd just freed them from was better than following him through the sand. Abraham. Who FINALLY got the son God promised him when he was ancient years old- but then was asked to sacrifice that very son on top of a mountain... JUST BECAUSE. These guys trusted God and worked through all these heart-wrenching issues without anything but faith. So, I really think I can work through these "blues" or at least allow God to teach me something meaningful through them- because the God that led those people out of the desert and made Abraham a father of many nations is the very same God who I believe in today. He has not weakened. He has not aged.

Finally, God led me to Isaiah 35. And I read it and felt like it was written just for me. I felt like jumping up onto my table in the coffee shop and halooing for joy. But I didn't.

When I got into my car, I felt prompted to stick in a CD that was laying on my seat that a friend had randomly given me the week before. Charlie Hall's "On the Road to Beautiful". I'd never listened to it before. I stuck it in, and the first song that started playing had some the very same words of Isaiah 35 in it about feeble knees and weak hands:

"I can see that my hands are trembling. I can see that my legs are weak. I can see that my head is spinning, but I will overcome. And I know that my heart is hurting, And I know that my soul it aches. And I know that it seems I'm failing, but I will overcome."

Then, this past Easter Sunday, my pastor stood up and preached about really GETTING what God has done for us... what it really means for us today. And...YEP! You guessed it! He opened his Bible to Isaiah 35. Time stood still. God was trying to make a point. WITH LOTS OF EXCLAMATION POINTS.

After church, some friends came over to me and prayed for me. They prayed that God alone would be my joy. That He would be the smile on my face. And I cried and felt released from all the stress and worry of the "pills or no pills" debate that had been raging in my head for weeks and felt TRULY hopeful for the first time in... far too long.

So. There it is. I promised God I would tell it straight... even if no one else could understand. And that's what I've tried to do. I hope that none of you feel I am being harsh or insensitive.

This year, Easter symbolized HOPE for me. I felt like I woke up and found it sitting right in my basket... like one of those really great gifts that you don't even realize you need so badly until you've gotten a glimpse of what life could be with it hanging around. (Like warm fuzzy socks or a really good wine bottle opener.)

So... Happy belated Easter everyone!

March 17, 2008

Thank You.

Hey everyone- I just wanted to say a quick THANK YOU for your incredible outpouring of support and encouragement on my last post. I am really grateful and have been able to have some really good conversations with family and friends based on the experiences you've so bravely shared with me. I will post more on that very soon.

I've been a bit busy so forgive me for not responding to each of you personally just yet- I plan to do so when I get a second. Also, thank you for all your wonderful emails. I will reply soon... please don't think I'm ignoring you!

I'll leave you with some pictures of the cutey-patootey boy with his new *GASP!* KITCHEN TOY! He loves this thing like a BFF.

(And he makes a mean mustard monster strawberry omelet.)

Grandma's here! Weeeeee!

March 12, 2008


Okay, let's talk anti-depressants.

My doctor asked me, like, TWO questions and then just handed me a baggie full of anti-depressant medication saying "Check back with me in 6 weeks and we'll see if this helps you."

That baggie is now sitting on my kitchen counter- and every time I walk by them, I feel like they are glaring at me... like an unanswered email or an unreturned call. "WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT ME?" they cry as I drink milk straight from the carton in the middle of the night. "MAKE UP YOUR MIND!" (They talk in all caps because they think I can't hear them. But I can.)

Why am I feeling so reluctant towards this medication?

Part of me wonders if I shouldn't just flush it all down the toilet. I keep asking God how He feels about the stuff... I mean, after all, couldn't He just reach down and touch me with His pinky finger and heal any imbalances that may be occurring within my body? But, then again- couldn't He do that with... I don't know... HEADACHES as well? Why am I perfectly okay taking Aspirin but not Anti-Depressants? Where is the pharmaceutical line drawn? I'm pretty sure the Bible doesn't say anything about Lex@pro. (Unless it's buried somewhere in one of those books I never read- like Leviticus.)

Then, here comes the age-old comeback: God made doctors and gave them the knowledge they have now, right? So really, it's sort of like GOD prescribed me this medication! Thanks, God!

I am so confused.

(This is right about when my head explodes. And I die. And the caps-lock questions still have not been answered.)

I think that maybe I've struggled with depression for a very long time but have never acknowledged it- or even known TO acknowledge it. Or maybe this is just the "human condition" that I am/have been feeling? That aching that won't be filled until I'm standing in front of the God who made me- telling Him how great He is and emptying everything from inside my pockets down at his feet? Even I know- no pill is going to dull that ache.

I keep hearing that medication should be my LAST RESORT. The very LAST thing that I try. I should try counseling, changing my diet, and exercising long before I just start popping pills.

But- here's the truth: It takes all the strength I have to even WALK OUT OF MY FRONT DOOR every day. There is absolutely NO WAY I have the motivation or energy or desire to get myself to plan/shop for/cook/eat healthier meals. Or to commit to going to the gym a few times a week. It got so overwhelming recently that I completely stopped going to the grocery store all together- even when I desperately needed something. (Milk, pull-ups, juice, wipes, pro-biotics.) How do you tell someone like that to just 'pull it together' and start exercising four times a week? When they are willing to sacrifice basic needs just so they won't have to leave the house?

Chris has graciously offered to take over the food planning/shopping/cooking for awhile so that I can focus on getting better. He has been nothing short of AMAZING through all of this.

Maybe this medication can get me back to the me I was before the simple thought of what to cook for dinner could overwhelm me and make me cry. Maybe once I get back to that place, I will be more ABLE to organize my life in a healthy manner. Maybe then it will just snowball until I feel better and better and better and I don't NEED the pills because the exercise and diet are more than enough.

I think I'm willing to give them a try. And chronicle the journey. And be open about how I'm feeling and coping- refusing to feel ashamed or abashed just because I've joined the anti-depressant club. (It's a much bigger club than I ever even realized, BTW.)

As of right now, I've been taking the pills for one week. Seven days. I don't feel any drastic changes, but I am asking myself and the people around me (aka HUSBAND) to be sensitive and aware of my behavior and note any changes that they see. (Subtle as they may be.)

And I am going to use this space to help me sort through all the stuff buzzing in my head through this process... hoping that it may help someone else out there that may be going through the same things- someone desperate for peace but wary of quick-fix solutions that are scribbled out hastily onto prescription tablets.

March 10, 2008

A Silent Ultrasound.

SO MUCH has happened this week.

  • I went to the doctor. She gave me anti-depressant medication. I still don't know how I feel about that, and still haven't fully committed to taking the things. (More on this later.)
  • I had a pelvic ultrasound. It went well except for the fact that something deep in my gut kept hoping to hear a heartbeat-- I've never had a silent ultrasound before and it was eerie and too quiet. But everything looks good- I am healthy.

  • Our friends Casey and Debra drove through Oklahoma City on their way to North Carolina and they stayed with us one night. It was so amazing to see them again- and their little boy Nehemiah is the cutest thing on two legs. I wish they lived closer... they are such sweet people and we loved having them- brief as it was. We love you guys!
  • Chris nearly cut off his finger on Thursday with a rotating saw while at work. He was sent to a hand specialist because his livelihood as a musician depends upon that finger and they didn't want to take any chances. He's got a lot of stitches. It is a miracle because he didn't hit any arteries, tendons, or bones somehow. This is crazy because he dropped the saw down lengthwise on top of his pinky finger. How do you not hit any BONES? He has felt very minimal pain. He's not even taking any Advil or anything. (God is good.)
  • We had a guest, Andrea, staying with us this weekend. She has come and gone and it was so good to have her here again. Thanks for coming Andrea!! We heart you. (Sorry for all the craziness!)
  • Chris and I took a whirlwind trip up to Kansas City just to get away from all the madness for a day. Our dear friends took Ezra for a couple of days and then we drove the 5 hours on Friday, went to the Khrusty Brothers CD release show (AMAZING), and then we stayed the night with the same family that took us in last time we were up there. In the morning we grabbed some coffee at our favorite coffee shop in the whole wide world, spent some time perusing a bookstore, and then made the necessary stop at the Urban Outfitters before heading home. It was a great and much needed trip.

    My legwarmers came with me.

    Kansas, she is flat.

    I LOVE the way he looks at me.

  • Chris' wallet went missing yesterday. We were convinced it had been stolen out of the garage at some point during the day, but then this morning Chris found his gloves laying by the side of the main road not far from our house. We are thinking maybe the wallet got left on the top of the car (along with the gloves) after Chris took it to the carwash and flew off at some point between there and the house. Now we are anxiously waiting to see if someone turns it in or contacts us about finding it. (Please Jesus.)
  • Ezra woke up at 3AM this morning puking his guts out. He continued to throw up all night long. He seems okay so far today- maybe a bit of a fever, but no throwing up as of yet. I AM SOOOOOO OVER ALL OF THIS SICKNESS.
  • The silver lining: Chris' mom is flying into OKC tomorrow to spend a week with us. We cannot wait... I have a feeling an extra pair of hands is just what we will need this week. Life seems to be running too fast for us to keep up.
I will unpack some of this stuff more later... I just needed to get it all off of my mind because it was all piling up so quickly that I couldn't even see straight. I am grateful for your listening ears today.

March 3, 2008

Taking Cover.

First, Re: My Last Post, THANK YOU. I am doing better, although this past weekend was one of the hardest in my life. I felt like I was centimeters from an emotional breakdown all weekend. And Ezra got the brunt of that, I am sad to say, which is so not fair to him, but it happened and it's something I can't take back. He pushed all the wrong buttons at the wrong time, and I yelled and snapped at him more in these past two days than the entire time he's been alive, I'm pretty sure. And then he started yelling and snapping at me (gee... where'd he learn that from?) so then I had to punish him for the very things he was learning from his fragile mama only minutes before. Which made me feel like poo.

Things are chugging along. I am trying to stay afloat. I am doing better. I need extra measures of grace and compassion from the people around me... extra measures of understanding and communication. I feel like I'm recovering from a heart wound and need to take it easy on myself, which is hard to do when you're a control monger who likes to look shiny on the outside like I do. Lord help me.

Get this: We had the storm shelter installed on Saturday, and then the very next day, WE HAD TO USE IT. I suppose we didn't have to, but the weather was freaky and the old WWII sirens were blaring through our neighborhood for almost an hour (this has never happened in the two years since we've lived here), so we put everything we would need down there and ran Ezra through the drill of how the shelter worked and when/why we go down there. Then we watched the TV like hawks with binoculars. We are such ninnies. Most Oklahomans were probably out sunbathing or something while this was all going on. Can you tell we're from the West?

I packed a bag full of snacks, water, DVD's, the DVD Player, Books, a blanket, and flashlights. Also? My camera. Because our safety depended on it. (Or maybe I am just a shameless blogger at heart.)

Needless to say, we were completely relieved to have the shelter. It put the 'fun' back in 'funnel cloud' again.

HAHAHAHHA- I kill me.