Unfold

I’m not sure which year it started, but I don’t seem to look at the New Year like everyone else.  I love how hope-filled and reflective folks get.  I even love the hope that is contained in resolutions–Maybe every year before they’d all flopped, but there’s something there that still makes people hope that THIS will be the year that they jog every day, or lose 50 pounds or not yell at their kids as much.

As for me, if I think too long about the year ahead of me, my head goes a little wonky these days.  I guess it’s because in the past I’ve had this expectation that a ‘good’ year would look level and settled and there wouldn’t be too many deviations from the expected path.

And well…  most of the years in the last decade have had some pretty major deviations from the expected path.  I’ve still found goodness in each and every one of them, but there’ve just been these surprises that jumped out at us like a gorilla out of your bedroom closet that made the years in all their goodness not look at all like I expected.

Sometimes I get a little anxious about such things…  Especially when everyone is talking about what the next few months or the next year might or might not bring.  As such, I confess, at New Year’s when everyone else is hope-filled and dreaming of better things to come a part of me deep in the pit of my stomach is thinking, “12 months is quite a bit of time…  what curve balls are we going to face as we march through them?  What phone calls will come that change everything?  What news will we be given?”

Truly curve-balls of one sort or another are something that we can all expect each and every year.

That pit of my stomach place feels a little anxious and panicky looking ahead.  Will there be words like ‘tumors’ or ‘deployment’ or ‘illness’ or ‘loss?’  Or will there be words that I haven’t even thought to anticipate?

I just don’t know.

I’m not sure when the concept of having a word for the new year crept into my head.  It might have been when reading Ann Voskamp’s 1000 gifts in the passages where she talked about focusing on a certain word for a year.  It doesn’t really matter how the idea took root though.  It just did.

I didn’t really mean to think up a word or a verse for this year, but they kind of fell on me this week with that kind of holy spirit nudge-wink thing that happens that made me think I should pay attention.  And so I am.

The thing is…  Just like those curve  balls, neither the word or the verse look anything like I expected they would if I ever took up such a practice as this.  Ann Voskamp’s words are always so beautiful and ethereal sounding, “Eucharisteo.”  “Communion.”  I mean…  If I’m going to do this, I’m a girl who loves words…  I want one that brings my mind right to the clouds.

Or at least one that takes some effort.  Maybe, I thought to myself, it should be something like “Trust” or “Hope” or “Faith.”  “Obey,” sounds right to me too.  If I’m going to focus on something for a whole year, it seems there should be some muscle of the spiritual or physical variety involved.

Neither the word or the verse that came to mind are so muscle-y, it turns out.

The word that keeps whispering at me as I stare down this New Year with my hopes and my anxieties and my fear of expectation is, “Unfold.”

Unfold?  Unfold?  Um…  like what Lainey does to the clothes when she sees the laundry basket in the middle of the floor?  That doesn’t sound holy or spiritual or muscle-y.  It sounds…  like MY effort isn’t really needed.  Unfold?

But I know that’s the word.  We have the rest of this deployment to navigate through a couple of Tomas-y loose ends and check-ups to attend to.  We have 12 months of possibility for the year to blow my mind in wonderfulness and curve-balls.

Unfold…  I feel like I’m being asked just to let it unfold.  To see what transpires and to trust that there is work going on beneath the surface of it all.

On top of that,  I feel like something is whispering to my soul that there are parts of me that are wound tight…  Like a crumpled up piece of paper or…  a school form that has gotten folded and folded and folded so many times that it looks a little ragged around the edges and it’s hard to read.  There are things within me that need to unfold.  And it’s NOT to be about my effort.  It’s not something to resolve to be or to do.  Instead it’s something to rest in and watch.  It’s a ride to simply sit down on and experience.

Unfold.

With the word came a verse.  It’s the kind of verse that tweaks my head a little bit even because it starts right in the middle of a sentence which makes me get all jittery about context and seeing the big picture but just the same THIS is the verse that keeps lapping in and out of my head.

“…being confident in this that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 1:6

Wait so again…  this isn’t something that I’m muscling through and DOING.   It’s something happening within me that God is doing continuously?

Then I hear, “Watch it unfold.”

I have goals for the year.  I do.  I have a list of them.  I have goals and wishes and hopes.  And as I mentioned a few anxieties.  And I feel like I’m being ushered out of the way on every single one.  Which isn’t to say that I’m not still being asked to show up with them.  I am.  I need to show up.  It’s just that I think I’m being asked to remember that I’m not the one at the helm on any one of them.  The good works being wrought in me and in my life are being teased out and every so slowly completed by the Holy Spirit at work within me.  So I have to show up…  I do.  But then I get out of the way.

It takes a tremendous amount of pressure off actually.

Regardless of how I feel this year I’m being called to trust that He is working continuously in me.

So I take on this new ‘word for the year’ challenge that I never really expected I’d do.

I’m going to watch and wait as it all unfolds…  and parts of me do too.

P.S.  After I had muddled through this whole idea of ‘One Word’ I found that a couple of my favorite blog-folk are linking up over here:   One Word

Who ever expected I’d get in on something in fashion?  😉

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A Good Reason to Be Tired

Five Minute Friday again!  Yay!  I was a little too excited that this week’s prompt was ‘tired.’  I’ve got some things to say about ‘tired’ at this point!!!

I remember Rich Mullins saying the following:  “Everyone always says, ‘You look so tired – can we pray for you?’ I’m like, ‘Man, if I didn’t look tired, you should pray for me. I would’ve had to have made a deal with the devil to not look tired. I deserve to look this way.'”

I don’t know about you, but that particular comment resonates with me.  (I always loved Rich’s take on the world).   Man, I deserve to look this way.

Deployments are a time of perpetual tired.  It’s partly my own fault.  I stay up too late.  My  husband isn’t here to remind me to go to bed, and trudging upstairs to face that empty spot is so hard some nights, so I watch Netflix late into the night, or plink away on blogs or Facebook.  I’m tired!  And this is only the beginning.

But there’s also just the sheer attrition of it all.  The solo-parenting.  Being the only one ‘in charge.’ Not to mention the exhaustion that comes from just plain missing the man who I love all the time.  Am I tired?  Yep.

It’s so often seemed like one thing after another around here.  I think it’s that way for everyone really, but I think our family has hit some biggies.  Do I look tired?  Yeah.  I deserve to look tired.  We’ve been through a lot.

I think it’s a good thing though.  I’m tired because I’m LIVING.  My heart is entrenched in missing this man that I love…  We’ve survived some gruelling things in the eight years of our marriage.  Life has been hard and that makes me tired, but I’m tired because I have LIVED.  FULLY.

It’s a good reason to be tired, don’t you think?

My Wholly Other Abigail

We named her after a long-gone First Lady.

Andy and I had read some of the letters of John and Abigail Adams and they resonated with us.  As we read we couldn’t help but think, “Their love and the language that they use with one another, sounds like ours…  sounds like us.”  We probably give ourselves a little too much credit.  *shrug*  We got a good name out of the deal just the same.

She was different from the beginning, my Abigail.  Her older sister had always been a fire-cracker.  Literally.  As a baby all of her emotions were explosions and those explosions were either delightful or devastating.  Abigail, though, from the beginning brought two words to mind:  Sweet and Fierce.

By the time she was one she had shockingly blonde hair.  When she stopped being a baldy baby and her hair really thickened people couldn’t help but comment.  Looking at the dark hair that Andrew and I both have and Carolyn’s chestnut colored hair, then seeing Abbie’s hair so pale and blonde, people would look at us and raise their eyebrows.  Where did the blonde hair come from?  I still don’t know, but I can tell you she’s the spitting image of my Grandmother–Dad’s Mom, and a child who looks so much like her Daddy all at the same time that I can’t quite figure where she got any one feature.  I just know she’s ours through and through.

As Abigail has been thrust more and more into the growing-uppy things that happen to kids–preschool, Sunday school,and play date kinds of things, we discovered that she is shy, sometimes painfully so.  It never really surprised me all that much.  Even when she was itty bitty and doing mommy and me story times and finger plays at the library she would look around wide-eyed and quiet, hunkering close to me.  The facilitator would look at me with questions in her eyes wondering if there was a developmental concern and I would know there wasn’t…  especially when we’d drive home and Ab would sing each and every word and do all of the finger plays after hearing them only once or twice.  No the shyness and tendency to hang back and observe was no surprise.  The ferocity that comes out when she feels backed into a corner and unable to maneuver in a group situation that overwhelms her has surprised me.  Like I said:  Sweet and fierce right from the beginning.

She’s my enigma, Ms. Abigail.  She’s got all the cliché angst going on that you hear about middle children having.  So often, already, I just want to pull her aside when I see the surliness rising up inside of her that I know comes from her feeling invisible or powerless as kiddos, especially middle kiddos so often do.  I so often want to hold her in my arms and tell her, “Abigail, my love, you sparkle.  You glow.  You are my little golden girl.  You are so much more than you even imagine and you are so much more cherished than I could ever express.”  Even if I did that, she’d shrug it off with a dimply giggle and prance off pretending to be a pony.  It wouldn’t sink in.  Yet.  So I try to tell her in other little ways throughout our days together.

She’s different and she’s special but sometimes she doesn’t know it.

She, even more than Carolyn, my firstborn, has taught me that even though they are my daughters–birthed out of my body, created inside of my being out of my own raw materials–they are wholly other and different entities than me.  They are not an extension of myself and they will interact with and interpret the world in perspectives that are foreign to me.

My Abbie struggles so much, not yet fully realizing that she is golden…  Alternating between that sweetness and fierceness. Stymieing me as a disciplinarian needing firm sternness and tenderness almost simultaneously,  And I struggle too to parent her without crushing her, to give her boundaries and firmness, but also the freedom she needs to be her.  To be gentle, but unyielding (even in the face of that dimple).  I struggle and so often I am at a loss.

And just now…  Just now, I am finally learning to pray.  To pray for her.  To pray for her heart.  To pray for me and my heart.

And then to continue to watch my beautiful little girl unfold.

The REAL good stuff–Alaine

(Cross posted at Tomas blog)

There was this perfect moment the morning Alaine was born.  The labor was over.  The snow was falling.  And I looked over into the isolette that had been sitting empty for 36 hours and saw this beautiful baby, wide-eyed, round head, pink cheeks.  Perfection.  A few moments later, she was laid on my chest and I was wholly overwhelmed with love.

I didn’t believe throughout my entire pregnancy that it could be real.  That I could really have a perfect little person growing inside of me.  Our miscarriage last year shook my confidence, and then the discovery of Tomas and the myriad of other ‘not quite right’ health issues that cropped up only shook me more.  The only time that I truly waited with excited expectation was during and immediately following ultra-sounds.  The rest of the time a large part of me was in a state of protective ambivalence.  If I didn’t think about what was at stake, or at least if I didn’t fully grasp the reality of it, maybe if I lost it, it wouldn’t hurt so much.

As we prepared more and more for the birth of baby, taking precautions that startled me and made me face the reality that this pregnancy was unique and that this labor and delivery would have to be too, made me feel more secure in some ways, and more frightened in others.

And then there was our luck that ran through to the end.

We were scheduled to go in to begin the induction on Monday the 22nd.  I got myself as mentally ready as I could for that, and when Monday dawned, I had on my game face.

Then it started snowing….  And snowing….  And snowing.  It didn’t stop.  We read weather reports.  We watched news.  I called my doctor and asked what to do.  The first answer I got surprised me:  Just wait til next week.  Next WEEK?!  Didn’t we have a PLAN here?  I wasn’t sure where my doctor was coming from.  We’d had this plan the whole time—Induce early.  IT was a plan that I had to work pretty hard to wrap my head around as I got used to the ‘wait and go late’ process with Carolyn and Abigail.

When I was finally able to speak to my doctor I was relieved that she told me that they wanted to get me in as soon as it was safe.  The plans and the reasoning behind them hadn’t changed, but our physical safety on the road to Seattle was also being taken into account.  She said if we found a window, to come in.

Tuesday it was clear and cold.   By the afternoon, even the unpracticed methodology of the state of Washington’s DOT was able to clear the roads enough for us to feel ok about going in.  So we did.

On the way, Andy noticed the steering wheel was pulling to the left.  When we got to the parking garage we saw that we had an extremely underinflated tire.

That’s right.  We basically got a flat tire on the way to the hospital.

We went to the cafeteria to eat some really bad cafeteria food once we got there to give L&D a chance to get ready for us and then we were admitted to our room.  All of the stress got to me at that point.  The room didn’t feel right.  My gown didn’t fit right.  Nothing felt comfortable and I knew I was going to be there for a while and I sobbed.   Andy got me put back together and I got my head back in the game, but there for a second, I was beside myself.

The induction….  The induction was awful.  Maybe I’m a weenie, though having gone through two previous births with no meds at all, I don’t think so.  But it was awful.  They placed the medication that was supposed to help my cervix ripen and almost immediately I was in pain.  I also started having contractions.  I had them all night the first night.  I was able to breathe through them, but there was no denying that they hurt and they most certainly FELT like labor to me.  I had them all day the next day and then on into the evening before it was officially deemed that I was ‘in early labor.’  The whole first 24 hours, I was convinced I was going to be sent home.  I wasn’t making progress (I keep thinking, “I never make progress, how will we know if this is any different than my other ‘early labor processes.”).  I asked question after question of nurses and doctors about whether my body could do this given the way it normally labors.  I relied on the gentle counsel of the labor and delivery nurses who took care of me—and all of them were superb.  They listened to my anxieties and reassured me over and over and over again.  But mostly.  It just hurt.  And it didn’t feel like it hurt for a purpose since this question of ‘this might not work and we might send her home’ still lingered.

The evening after the 2nd dose of Cervidil was placed things started to pick up.  When I finally decided to be checked I was at 2 centimeters and all of a sudden people started talking as if I was having a baby in the immediate future and not just in shades of vague possibility.  I was told I could have the epidural placed soon.  People started placing bets on when I’d deliver.  It was go time.  And THAT…  THAT was the best pain medicine in the world.  I mentally shifted from the place I’d been in since weeks before the induction of not being able to see past the beginning of the labor, to imagining meeting my baby in a matter of hours.

Also at that point, the pain meds that I had cheerfully foregone the other two times around were sounding pretty darned good.

The delightfully Austrian anesthesiologist was on call that night and he was the one who’d taken my case on initially.  He and his resident—a guy with a scraggly beard who lit up when he heard Andy was in the Navy, and spent the time it took him to place the epidural swapping sea stories with Andy—put that part of the plan in place and I came to find that I rather liked the epidural.  It sure beat the 24 hours of pain and contractions I’d had up to that point.  It was also one of the key ingredients of the plan drawn up by my fabulous and amazing doctor.  Epidural = less pain and stress for Mommy = hopefully suppressing any hormonal surges that Tomas might get kicked into from those factors as well as making it more likely that I could labor without pushing (another factor in hopefully keeping Tomas neutralized).

I actually slept on and off for a few hours after I got the epidural.  I could still feel the contractions, but they didn’t hurt, and for the first time in the whole process I could and did relax.  When I woke up, I looked outside at the snow that was falling and piling up and mused at what a beautiful (early) Thanksgiving morning it was.

Things didn’t pick up super quickly, and in fact, my contractions actually started getting further apart rather than closer together, so they upped the pitocin that they’d started when it was decided that it was ‘go’ time.  I was worried that we were headed backwards and got agitated about my progress and started fretting about different possibilities.  I was checked again and was at 4 cm.  It was hypothesized that maybe this time I would labor ‘like normal’ without the super-fast progress that I normally experience, but the doctor  also reported that my bag of waters was ‘bulging’ and that once that broke things might speed up.  Sure enough, she left and with the next contraction I felt pressure and then my water broke.  In the time it took for the doctor to make it back to check on me again, I’d progressed to 6 cm and the nurse said, “20 minutes from 4-6—if you do that 2 more times, you’ll be complete in 40 minutes.

And that was when I showed them all that I was serious about my labors progressing quickly after a certain point.  Much less than 40 minutes had gone by when I knew I was fully dilated and when I was having to suppress the urge to push.  The chief resident commented, “So THIS is what all the hype was about—You weren’t kidding about going fast!!!”  My team was READY though and in seconds the room was full.

And I do mean full.

My nurse, who’d been staying pretty close for most of the ‘go time’ scenario was soon joined by another  nurse and the resident who’d been checking on me all along, as well as the chief resident, and at times the attending on call (my incredible and amazing doctor was being paged like crazy at this point).  Two pediatricians came in, along with a nurse for baby.  Way back in the back of the room, Austrian Epidural guy and Navy doctor Epidural guy casually lounged around.  Catching sight of them caught me off guard a couple of times as I would puzzle through why they were there and remember that it was because I had a crazy tumor and they were there in case of a hypertensive crisis.

Throughout this time, my nurse—who was absolutely incredible, by the way—was talking me through the contractions that I was having and helping me to resist the urge to push.  In case you were wondering, NOT pushing during labor is, in my humble opinion MUCH HARDER than pushing ever was for me.   I was also given one more really special, eleventh-hour cocktail of drugs to keep me as pain free and relaxed as possible.

Finally my doctor slid into the room, and the party really got started.  I was directed through a couple of tiny pushes.  I remember hearing the chief resident comment on how strong my uterus was and feeling a little proud.  And then he got the forceps and with the help of the resident who’d been with me all night, they delivered Alaine.  I could feel her moving right to the end and could feel her move down with each contraction which was really cool considering I could feel those sensations but without pain.

She was born, and there was a lusty cry, and I was done and she was here.  The beautiful moment of seeing her perfect little body laying under the lights in the warmer came to pass and she was placed on my chest.

I’d worried for months that because of my ‘protective ambivalence’ and my focus on addressing Tomas, and just all of the emotions and twists and turns we’ve been through in these last nine months, that I wouldn’t feel that rush of love immediately.  I worried that she would feel foreign and I would feel detached and those things would break my heart.

That didn’t happen though.   I was and am swept up in rapture and delight at this beautiful little creature.  Her name means ‘little rock’ and she has been that.  She is a steady point of joy for me.  I am so very glad that she is here and that we’re beginning the amazing journey of life with three exquisite daughters.  She IS real.  The joy of her being is every bit as real and consuming as the scary and hard things have been up to this point.  I’m relieved to find as much reality in the good and pure and wonderful which encompass her joining our family, as there has been in the hard and scary and unknown.  She is real and substantial and I love her.

Mary Heart in a Martha World

I’m doing a little local drama this Easter.  I’m  Mary Magdalene in a little Maunday Thursday pageant about the “Other Twelve Disciples,” those being the women who followed Jesus and were there until the end. 

This week during the read through I was struck by another Mary:  Mary the sister of Lazarus.  Mary the sister of Martha.  Mary who sat at Jesus’ feet, soaking Him in, while Martha bustled about worried and anxious about many things.  I’ve always identified more with Martha, as I often feel worried and anxious about many things, myself.  It hit me though, as we were reading our parts that I might have a little Mary in me, afterall. 

The description offered in this little play categorizes Mary as “One who seemed to be busier internally than she appeared to be externally.”   That’s me.  That’s me all over.  “Bustling around the house was not one of her higher priorities” when Jesus was around, the script says. 

(It strikes me a day after first writing all this, that I’m basing all this thinking not on scripture so much, but on the words in this play.  However, as I look at the bits and pieces that we have written about Mary in the Bible, I think the play’s description might have been accurate.)

The thing is, while I’ve been aware of this constant internal chatter presenting itself more often than, “Busy hands,” I’ve had a hard time seeing this as a positive thing.  I have a hard time cleaning my house.  I know we all do, but I put it off, and put it off.  The things I want to do engage my mind and my relational muscle more than any industrial inclination.  I’m involved with many things, but I get into them by being a ‘think tank,’ an ‘idea girl.’  I love theories of math and science, but I can’t do the nuts and bolts of an equation to save my life.  I live in my head and sometimes…  often…  that gets in the way of my getting things done.  When company comes, I bustle and clean–at the last-minute–to try to make my home presentable.  Always though, I get to a point where I say, “They’re coming to see ME.  The rest of the clutter will have to stay put.”  While company is visiting, I have a hard time maintaining any semblance of cleanliness that I created because I pour my energy into spending time with my guests, and I can never figure out how the ‘cleaning maintenance stuff’ is supposed to get done with people around.  OR alternatively, I put so much effort into trying to be Martha-like against my nature with perfect meals and perfect home presentation that I  make everyone more stressed out.  That’s me.

It drives some people crazy.  It drives my husband crazy.  He’s a busy guy.  He’s always putzing, tinkering, cleaning, creating, doing.  He doesn’t have much patience when I don’t get things done because I’m so busy in idea-realm.  It drove my parents nuts.  My mother had at least learned to be a Martha after being shamed by key people in her life in regards to housework.  She implored me to learn the skills involved too…  the importance of it those skills though always did get lost with the stuff in my head or in my relationships that seemed to me to take precedence. 

I’ve labeled myself with words like ‘lazy,’ and ‘sloth,’ and maybe at times it really is a spirit of laziness that keeps me from getting things done.  I have a constant, nagging, internal mantra of, ‘Why can’t I get it together,” when I look at the chores that haven’t gotten done in a given day, or my kids’ dirty faces in public.  I often enhance this mantra with the butt-kicker of comparison:  “Why can’t I get it together like her?  Her kids are always neat and tidy.  Her house is always clutter-free and smells like vanilla and apple-cinnamon.  She’s able to juggle so much!” 

But Jesus didn’t do that to Mary.  He didn’t shame Mary for inactivity or mention the dust bunnies  left on her side of the cottage.  He didn’t shake her by the shoulders and tell her to snap out of her internal thought reverie.  He didn’t implore her to do FlyLady so that by unearthing the discipline to do housework and de-cluttering her world she could, “Finally Love Your(Her)self (though I really DO love FlyLady).”  Instead, he held her up as an example.  He exalted  her for choosing the ‘better thing,’ for soaking in His presence.  He recognized her for valuing those present even if that meant they had to order from Bethany’s local pizza joint instead of having a four-course meal.

And this gives me hope.  If Jesus valued Mary’s internal churning and presence to those present, maybe he values mine too.  Maybe he even delights in those parts of me.  I’m sure he equally delighted in Martha’s service to him.  He knew that her work came form a  heart of love–a love that wanted to honor him in her work, but he would not let her devalue Mary’s path of honoring him just becuase it was different than hers. 

So rather than beat myself up for the messes that pile up while the internal hum drones on, I’m going to try to see God’s delight in me.  I’ll continue to try to better myself and clean my home, don’t get me wrong.  But, hopefully I’ll give myself a little more grace. 

I have seen the book, “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World,” in  bookstores many times.  I’ve never read it.  I always thought the idea was that we supposedly wanted to BE Martha when we SHOULD be Mary.  That in my head is a double should.  But maybe some of my day-to-day frustration comes from the fact that it really *is* hard when you ARE a Mary in a Martha world.  I don’t fit in to the achievement and activity oriented world of women.  I’m a thinker.  I’m a listener.  And that isn’t something to should myself out of.  Even when I have a sink full of dishes.

Lady Redundant Woman and Bilbo

“I feel…thin. Sort of stretched, like…butter scraped over too much bread.” -Bilbo Baggins

I was going to blog about how I feel like this quote (I love you LOTR trilogy).  So I googled it.  And found out that’s been done and the t-shirts issued.  Shall I be redundant?

Which reminds me…  You know what I love?  I love Lady Redundant Woman on Word Girl (thank you PBS Kids).  That name causes me to chuckle each time I hear it.

So anyway.  I’m stealing ten minutes to write here today before I go throw my hair in a pony tail and put on a clean shirt to go to work.  I AM feeling rather scraped over too much bread these days.  I LOVE my  job, but it keeps me away from my family in the evenings.  I get to be with the kidlets all day long, and Husband after bedtime, but I miss that beautiful family time with ALL of them during dinner and after.  When I get home Husband’s eyes are inevitably bugging out of his head from the kiddos being nuts too which makes me feel…  Well, rather yucky for making him rush home from work only to stress him out with his own kids as well.  I love my  job.  I do.  I walk a little taller when I leave it in the evenings.  I love the kids I work with and the work I do.  But…  I miss my family.  The last few weeks have been heavy on work and evening commitments.  Hopefully after next week, I’ll feel a little more on-kilter (can you be on-kilter, or just off?).

Is it normal for me to feel like I’m flying apart most days?  Does everybody else?  Does anybody else?  I do.  The sunshine is helping me to stabilize, but part of the scraped thin feeling is depression-related, I believe.  I feel like I have to dig deep into my reserves most days.  I guess the good news is it pushing me towards God.  I find myself consulting him regularly for mercy and grace and help and…  not flying-apartness. 

Living in the midst of fighting the flying apartness doesn’t make for great blogging either.  I sit down to write.  And I backspace.  And try again.  And backspace.   I think I’ll just hit publish today.  Give you all a little 10-minute snibbet of my current nuttiness.

So I’ll finish and tell you that I love this totally unrelated quote by Pete Gall:  “My Passion in a Nutshell Enough of this cutesy “we’re better because they’re worse” Christianity – from old guard political platforms to young believers who think torn jeans, a tall coffee, and some bitter complaints spewed through spotty facial hair somehow represents a better way. How about actually searching for, and standing upon, a better way? And the better way isn’t found in new places. The better way is exactly where – and with whom – it has always been. Enough revolution. Enough feeding frenzy on the dead horse of a worn out approach to church. Enough fighting fire with fire. Bring water. Rediscover passion. Experience adventure. Pay a price. See what happens when you replace “principles” with “virtues” – see if there isn’t enough of “home” left in you for some homesickness for a better way, a way breathed to life by God, to still stir passions in your life. Prodigals don’t thrive in the far away land. Elder brothers are slaves until they summon the courage to speak honestly to their fathers. Let us meet there – on our Father’s land – and ask him, together, how we might live and turn this life into a tour of princes and princesses who bring justice and comfort and meaning to a world that is dying for it, and will only hear it if we make it our passion first. This is why I do what I do. And it’s bringing me back to life.”

Remembering Crystal

Lauren, over at Sharing the Journey  brought this to my attention.  She asked that other bloggers would spread the word about the story of this beautiful young Mom whose life was cut tragically short, and about her father and family, who are grieving the second anniversary of her death this weekend.  To Joseph and his family I want to say:  I care.  I will remember Crystal even though I never had the privilege of knowing her myself, and I will tell her story.  This video was made my Crystal’s Dad in her memory.  It’s a photo montage telling her story.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYIRZbyXnu0&feature=player_embedded

Two years ago this weekend a beautiful woman named Crystal took her own life in the midst of a struggle with Postpartum Depression.  She was like many of us who struggle with the disease–she didn’t… couldn’t ask for help.  The changes that family saw in her were easily explained as just the worries that she was prone to have.  I don’t fault this family at all.  PPD is so tempting to hide.  Having a baby is an overwhelming experience anyway…  Of course we’re not always going to be looking or feeling our best.  And it feels so scary and hard and hopeless that asking for help just feels impossible.

But oh…  If she could have only reached out for help.  Postpartum Depression so often tells a woman that her family would be better off without her.  But that’s a lie.  The truth is this:  Your family NEEDS you.  There is HOPE.  It won’t always feel like this. 

And that’s something that I want people to understand about PPD, and about ALL depression.  So many people, when they hear of a suicide, wrinkle up their noses in disgust and say, “How selfish!”  But what they can’t understand is that from the inside looking out suicide isn’t selfish.  When your diseased mind tells you that you aren’t the best thing for your  baby or for your family, when lies whisper all day long that you aren’t good enough to do this job, strong enough to be a mother, and that if you continue in the job your child and family will come to great harm, when those are the lies that you hear, the thought of suicide isn’t so much about sparing YOU pain, it’s about sparing them.  That’s how twisted your thoughts can become when dealing with PPD. 

BUT…  Those thoughts are LIES.  You WILL NOT be sparing them.  Because YOU MATTER.  And YOU ARE a good Mom, or can be with help, and the strongest thing, and the best thing you can do for your family is to get HELP.  Your baby and your family NEED you. 

I wish it wasn’t so scary.  I wish it wasn’t so threatening.  We think our kids will be taken away.  We think we will forever be branded.  We think that there is no hope (more lies).  We have to reach out for help.  And we desperately need the people in our lives to see past our masks and our assurances that everything is ok, and to empower us to seek that help.

I wish Crystal could have.  I wish she could have gotten help.  I wish she could have found her voice.  I wish this video could be about how she overcame Postpartum Depression.

Watch this video.  Honor Crystal.  And then, ask the tough questions to the Mom’s in your life.  Let them know that they aren’t alone when the task seems impossible.  You might just be their lifeline. 

As Lauren says on her blog: 

“If you, a loved one, or a friend are coping with the recent loss of a loved one to suicide, please read this from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

If you are contemplating suicide, there IS hope. There are people who love you. People who care and want to help you heal. Need someone to talk to right now? Click here for a comprehensive list of resources in the US.

If you are struggling with a Postpartum Mood Disorder, contact Postpartum Support International’s warmline at 1.800.944.4PPD. (I may just be one of the people to return your call – I’m a volunteer for the warmline in addition to providing support in my home state of Georgia)

Bottom Line here? There is hope. There is help. And above all, you are absolutely NOT to blame. And above that? You WILL be well.”

Read more at Lauren’s Blog.

Read more of Joseph’s story in his own words, here.