“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sun and Waves...

Sunrise, Monterey Bay
photography by Anthony

   ...he who appoints the sun to shine by day...
who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—
   the LORD Almighty is his name...

Jeremiah 31:35 NIV

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thus Far, But No Farther!

Written on December 11th, 2010.  I obviously was not going to post this... but a month and a half later... I am finding that this may be relevant and helpful to someone.  Thank you for your prayers I am doing better and looking forward to sharing the details of my continuing journey.

photography by Anthony Kaetzel

And I said, 'Thus far you shall come, but no farther'... Job 38:11a NASB

I am amazed at God's goodness and love for me.  Although I am currently in a struggle with my own depression, God is bringing women into my life who need a little wisdom from my experience.  The more I speak to others about depression and God's healing touch whether through medications or behavior modifications or counseling, the more determined and strengthened I am to conquer my own depression.

I am on a combination of anti-depressants.  Not all anti-depressants work the same way... and not all people suffer depression the same way.  So, one may work for me... and not for you.  Or you may not need medication at all.  (I am always a little nervous writing it on my blog, but I tell people all the time.)  I know I am judged for taking anti-depressants.  And I have heard... Perhaps I should pray more.  Have more faith.  Attend church more.  Read my Bible more. 

Seriously.  I am judged for being on medication that saves my life.   Oh, well.  No bother.  I am not alone in this.  The Lord and I have spoken extensively about this, and He asks me to not judge those who are judging me... and so I offer to those who sit in judgment of me... GRACE.  And I have to admit grace is not easy to come by when I am suffering depression.  Mercy comes easy and actually overflows out of me... but grace does not.  When I am suffering through depression, I have no grace to give.  I am short-tempered and may end up giving my true opinion without any love attached.  So sometimes I need to quarantine myself or bite my tongue... literally.

I want to share with you just two of the precious sisters who I have communicated with in regards to their current state of depression just this week.  They are beautiful godly women.  They are struggling and they need some wisdom.   And they need mercy.  And a touch from God.

First precious sister:
Dear Sheri, 
I remember your talking openly and of course reading about it on your blog, your struggle with depression.  I have found myself slipping towards the dark side (my description of it, anyway).  Probably just hormones or the lack of them... but it doesn't make it any less real. I am seriously considering going to my doctor for some medication, but it makes my heart palpitate a bit.  But thinking that I am going to be a crying, moody, blue mess around my family makes my heart palpitate even harder! Do you have any suggestions or words of wisdom? 
One thing i have found to help me after a long tearful evening is repeating a few of my memory scriptures... over and over and over. 
 My response:

Dearest Sister!
You are on the right path! Praying. Reading Scriptures. Praising God. Considering different options. And seeking wisdom from someone who has been there.

First of all... is to isolate certain things.
1. Is this new? Or on-going? Or seasonal?
2. Are there any new stresses in your life?
3. Have there been any huge changes in your life or schedule?
4. How has your health been overall? Any sickness lately?
5. How are your loved ones? Has there been any major changes in their lives?
6. Does anyone at all in your family suffer with depression? Could be genetic.

By thinking through these things you will have more information to give to the doctor. You may need some counseling and/or medication. Don't worry that just because you go to a doctor that they will give you medication. They might not, but if they do... you can do research on it before you take it.

1. Sometimes we need medication to get us through a reason. Kind of like needing a cast on a leg. But then it heals and is completely better.
2. Sometimes we need medication for a season. Kind of like having an allergy. We need to maintain our hormones due to causes like Seasonal Affective Disorder.
3. Sometimes we need medication for a lifetime. Kind of like having diabetes. Our bodies are not producing enough neurotransmitters most likely due to genetic reasons (or thyroid issues and the like).

I am praying for you. There are tremendous resources like the In The Light Website. http://www.itlcommunications.com/resource_listing.html

Or the book Conquering Depression by Sutton and Hennigan.

Get informed. Be persistent. Stay in communication. Sometimes just speaking about it gives it less power over us.

God will truly make a way. You are not alone. He will fight for you... but we need to seek out the wisdom and knowledge that is out there. This does not have to be a dark cloud... It can be a new day. A turning point where you have said, "Thus far, but no farther!" You can be better than ever... God is that good!

I love you, my dear one!
 Her response:
Thank you thank you thank you. Once again I'm crying here at my desk...but this time it's for a positive reason! You have given me wonderful insight and things to think upon. I have an appointment at my counselor next Wednesday, but am going to make a doctor appointment, too. I just can not continue like this. Like you said, Thus far, but no farther!

Second precious sister:

I don't know which questions to ask, where to start. Can you recommend any books?  I've been having a rough time lately. Things had been going so well for so long that I'm really being thrown for a loop. I was lucky when we got the right combo of meds the first time, without going through the trial and error and struggle of searching for the right combination. But I don't know how long that combo lasts. Years? How many? Am I on borrowed time? I'm nervous. I have an appointment with my psychiatrist so I'll ask him these questions, of course.

I don't know what I need to do, or where I need to begin, but I need to do something. So I'll start where I can see the most obvious issues and go from there.

Thanks for being here. As you know, it really helps. 
My response:
First of all let me tell you that you are going to get through this. God is greater than any illness or depression. He is greater. And He has a great plan for you.

That you are reaching out and trying to get help is the first step. You need to fight depression. Be persistent and know that with help you are going to be stronger than you ever have been.

I have dealt with depression my whole life. It is hereditary (my father had severe depression). My father abused me.  I have Thyroid Cancer. But in 2006 it all came to a head due to other circumstances (including death of a close friend and over commitment and poor boundaries), I went into the "dark night of my soul." We checked everything health wise, but I was falling apart (losing weight, not eating, pathetic, dazed, unable to think, diarrhea, unable to sit upright for long periods of time, no energy, no desire to continue to live...). After thorough evaluations we finally understood that all the health issues were coming from my depression and that we needed to focus on it.

We had been trying to tweak my medications, but obviously I was on one that was not effective for me. Then we started working with a combination of medications and I started coming back to life.

Okay, so now you know where I am coming from. During the depths of my depression I began journaling (again) and reading a Psalm a day and I picked up the book "Conquering Depression" by Sutton and Hennigan. (The authors are Christian and one is a counselor and one is a medical doctor.) I know the book "Conquering Depression" was a huge help to my understanding what my role was in surviving depression. Behaviors I needed to modify. Boundaries I needed to set up or enforce. Routines I needed to set up.

For me combining the right medications with behavior modification along with PERSISTENCE is how I survive depression.

I recently went to a seminar. http://itlcommunications.com/ These guys are local and amazing. I am actually going to see the psychiatrist because they just seem to know more than my current psychiatrist. Read the info on the site. Watch the videos. The more information you have the more you can defeat this.

I also blog about my depression. If you want to read more about my depression and how I deal with it. If you use this link it will pull up all the posts on depression. http://theleakingwindow.blogspot.com/search/label/Depression 
I want you to feel free to call me. Or if you would like to meet and we can talk through this. I have come alongside a number of Christian women who are suffering with depression. The more women I meet the more I learn about the science of depression and how it can be conquered. I believe God when He says that He will comfort me in my sorrow so that I can comfort others as He has comforted me.

I am here for you, dear one. You are not alone. I will be praying for you. Feel free to call, meet or FB me. Consider me a living resource!

I love you!

So, dear ones, remember... "Thus far, but no farther!"

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, 
for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 
 Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, 
so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, 
in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. 
For when I am weak, then I am strong.  

2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Monday, January 17, 2011

As of Late - January 17th, 2011

photography by Anthony Kaetzel

Lately, my sister came out to Portland for a visit.  We trekked (drove) up to the snow on Mt. Hood.  It was like 8 degrees.  Lisa and I opted to hang out INDOORS and do some reading while Christopher and Anthony did some tubing.

Lately, I have been listening to the book So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore on audio CD.  She is the narrator and hearing her read her own writing is powerful.  This is my second time through... and it is amazing to look back to last year and see how much I have changed.  It might not be noticeable on the outside, but I am a much more secure person on the inside.  Worth the read!

Lately, I have been helping a friend with her ministry.  I enjoy being "Jonathan" to those who are called to be "David" if you know what I mean.  I am more of a support member and definitely not the visionary.

Lately, our pastor has encouraged us to read through one chapter of the Bible a day.  We are going to read through the gospels 4 times this year.  I love thinking how much more familiar I will be with the gospels by the end of this year.  I think I will choose to read it in 4 different versions.  I chose the Message version first.  Any suggestions for the next three times?

Lately, I purchased some red glass spray paint (with 40% off coupon at Michael's) after seeing this.  And LOVE IT!  Actually went back (with 50% off coupon) and bought the mirror finish, too.  Maybe I'll have to try and do a tutorial.  And I will totally be using these on clear glass bulbs for my Christmas tree.  (Or trees, as the case may be!)

Lately, I have been planning a little trip to Monterey and Carmel, California.  Just me and Anthony.  A little romantic weekend over Anthony's birthday.  (I am torn about not taking Christopher... mostly because I'll miss him.  But he'll be having the time of his life with his Nana... and will be thrilled to be able to text us using his iPod touch.)

Lately, Starbucks has my favorite coffee beans!  Casi Cielo... which means almost heaven.  YUM.

What have you been up to as of late?

For clarification... Yes, my sis is wearing her ILG hat.  She is wearing a purchased scarf that was given to her for Christmas.  Isn't it beautiful? 

And, yes, I am wearing my ILG hat hidden under my hood.  My scarf was actually a $5 score at Old Navy.  I was torn about buying it because I thought people would think I had made it...but I could never make such a scarf for just $5... and it matches perfectly... and I got the matching gloves which even have a cable on them.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I am a living breathing resource.

photography by Anthony Kaetzel

...because you know that 
the testing of your faith 
develops perseverance.
James 1:3 NIV 

Today is a special day for me.  It is the 5th anniversary of my "dark night of the soul."  I celebrate this day because I have persevered... and continue to persevere.  My major depressive episode of 2006 brought me to my knees.  Depression was... and continues to be a test of my faith.  And as I look back I can see that my ability and willingness to persevere in the face of depression has grown stronger... has made me more complete... has made me more mature... and has shown me that I lack nothing when I turn towards the healer of my mind, soul, heart and body.

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, 
 Prepare ye the way of the LORD, 
 make straight in the desert a highway for our God.  
 Isaiah 40:3 KJV

This week I have been studying about John the Baptist.  About how he hung out in the desert and that he prepared the way of the Lord... and not only the way of the Lord, but also he prepared a way to the Lord. 

"And he will go on before the Lord, 
in the spirit and power of Elijah, 
to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and 
the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous
—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” 
Luke 1:17 NIV

And it made me think of the ministry that God has placed before me.  That He has chosen for me.  He uses my intimate knowledge and experience with depression to prepare a way for others who are suffering with depression.  I am not the one who heals or the one who counsels or the one who diagnoses or creates a prognosis.  I am the one who shows the way towards the conquering of depression.  I am a living breathing resource.

I am a living breathing resource.  And sometimes I wonder if that is why He keeps her so near.  Because I have not conquered my depression, but I am conquering my depression.  And because it is something that tests my faith almost daily and has developed my perseverance, I am able to pass on to those who don't even know who they are fighting... a sword and a shield.  A fighting chance.  And better yet, I am able to tell them that I have persevered and am persevering... and they will get better... because God is greater than depression.

And so, I have chosen James 1:3 as my second memory verse for 2011.  A reminder for me that I don't need to run away from the testing of my faith... that it develops my ability to persevere and reminds me of the One who fights for me.

If you are joining me on the Siesta Scripture Memory Team, what is your 2nd verse?  And if you want... tell me why you chose that verse.

More information on the Siesta Scripture Memory Team can be found at the Living Proof Ministries blog.  I am so excited to have so many friends join the team!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Silver Rule

Silver Ice
photography by Anthony Kaetzel

The Silver Rule:
"What you do not wish yourself, do not unto others.”~ Confucius

I was at the home of a dear friend the other day.  She is in great pain due to a back injury.  I had called her and asked if I could offer a Starbucks delivery.  After some discussion (was I sure I wanted to come over because her house was a wreck... and she didn't have cash to pay me back...), she agreed.

Within minutes of my arrival (with a skinny venti Chai Tea Latte in hand) ... another of her friends had arrived with a freshly prepared meal for the evening.  As we sat and chatted, my dear friend admitted how difficult it is to accept such acts of generosity.  We started to discuss this in great detail. Why is it so difficult to accept acts of generosity?  Was it upbringing?  Was it pride?  Was it humility?  Or all of the above?

I've been thinking more about our conversation lately.  This dear friend of mine is a servant.  She prepares homemade meals ahead of time once a month (and freezes them) in preparation to take to someone -- she may barely know -- who is in need.  When she receives an abundant supply of anything, she passes on what she cannot use to those in need... wrapped with a bow on top!  She makes herself and her home available to anyone who would stop by... and invites young women from her church to her home to be mentored and discipled.  She is an encourager.  She is full of God-given joy.  She prays and God answers in ways she could never ask or even imagine to ask.  She embraces God and whatever morsel God speaks to her... she presses into those who need to hear... who are desperate to hear about hope and promise and future.

No, she is not a saint.  She will be protesting as she reads this because she knows she is not a saint and readily admits it... actually for the whole world to read.  But she has had a hard life and through that hard life... she has been softened and molded into a servant and follower of Christ.  She seeks to do His will.  To follow the first and greatest commandment...

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and 
with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 
This is the first and greatest commandment. Matthew 22:37-38 NIV

And the second greatest commandment...

And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22:39-40 NIV

Which is also known as The Golden Rule...

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you,
for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
Matthew 7:12 NIV 

And all of this made me wonder... why would my friend expect anything less than what is given to her?  Those whom she has "done to"... are "doing" back to her.  And so I wonder... would she do less so that she would not receive back in abundance?  Would she love less so that she would not be so loved in return?  No.  Not her.  And so she must subject herself to the reciprocity of her actions.  The problem being... her motives.  She never did any of these things in expectation of her own benefit... and yet by receiving the generosity of others it may nullify her pure motives.  But it doesn't.

And so, we must learn to receive from others.  Graciously.  If the Lord encourages someone to love their neighbor as them self, who are we to deny them of their obedience to the Lord?  We, ourselves, must follow the Golden Rule... and do to others what we would have them do to us.  Lest we settle for second best... and follow the Silver Rule, "What you do not wish yourself, do not unto others.”

It is something I have been mulling over for myself.  Wondering why I do for others... is it in expectation of return?  Is it for the gratitude and recognition I receive?  Does it make me feel like I am more blessed and so I must bless others?  Does it just give me a good feeling each time?  And honestly, sometimes... there is truth to that.  But I feel that in following the Greatest Commandment, I have committed myself to the second greatest commandment... and I end up going for the gold.  And in so doing, encouraging others to do the same.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while 
you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 

These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, 
which perishes even though refined by fire—
may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor 
when Jesus Christ is revealed. 

1 Peter 1:6-7 NIV

Friday, January 7, 2011

I give up...

Strong Enough
Matthew West
The Story of Your Life

You must
You must think I'm strong
To give me what I'm going through

Well, forgive me
Forgive me if I'm wrong
But this looks like more than I can do
On my own

I know I'm not strong enough to be
everything that I'm supposed to be
I give up
I'm not strong enough
Hands of mercy won't you cover me
Lord right now I'm asking you to be
Strong enough
Strong enough
For the both of us

Well, maybe
Maybe that's the point
To reach the point of giving up

Cause when I'm finally
Finally at rock bottom
Well, that's when I start looking up
And reaching out

I know I'm not strong enough to be
Everything that I'm supposed to be
I give up
I'm not strong enough
Hands of mercy won't you cover me
Lord right now I'm asking you to be
Strong enough

Strong enough

Cause I'm broken
Down to nothing
But I'm still holding on to the one thing
You are God
and you are strong
When I am weak

I can do all things
Through Christ who gives me strength
And I don't have to be
Strong enough
Strong enough

I can do all things
Through Christ who gives me strength
And I don't have to be
Strong enough
Strong enough

Oh, yeah

I know I'm not strong enough to be
Everything that I'm supposed to be
I give up
I'm not strong enough
Hands of mercy won't you cover me
Lord right now I'm asking you to be
Strong enough
Strong enough
Strong enough

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Our thoughts sown
Become the destiny we own.

"Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; 
sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Our thoughts sown
Become the destiny we own.

What are you thinking about?  
What are you meditating on?  
Is it your health, family, finances, addiction?  
What if you could change how you think about things?  
What if you could become more of who you thought the Lord might have made you to be?  
What if you could change what you think your future looks like?

January of 2009, I made two resolutions.  One was to read through the Bible in a year and the other was to start memorizing scripture.  

And although it took me about 21 months to read through the Bible, daily Bible reading has become a beloved habit for me.  I loved reading through the entire Bible because I learned things in Leviticus that applied to who Jesus is and it gave me greater insight into who He is and what He said (and still says).  

Our pastor is challenging our church to read through the gospels four times this year.  One chapter a day.  And the chapter can be e-mailed to your inbox in whatever version of the Bible you choose.  My regular Bible reading is with the NIV, so I decided to choose a different version - The Message.  Anthony and I were discussing this last night and thought it might be a good way to introduce daily Bible reading to Christopher... especially because it can be done electronically... and that definitely interests Christopher!  I can't wait to see the fruit of it!

Memorizing scripture.  It is so much easier with encouragement... and accountability.  So, I've joined up with the Living Proof Ministries blog or aka Beth Moore's blog, to memorize scripture in 2011.  Won't you join me?  I even purchased a couple extra of the Siesta Scripture Memory Team spirals to share with you!  If you want to memorize scripture with me in 2011 (and maybe join me in a trek to Houston in January of 2012?), let me know and you may receive one of the darling spirals.

My first scripture memory for 2011:
Perseverance must finish its work 
so that you may be mature and complete, 
not lacking anything.

James 1:4 (NIV, 1984)

I chose this verse because right now I am persevering.  And I need to be reminded that there is a plan and a hope and a future for me.  That perseverance is bringing about character and hope (Romans 5:3-5).  And ultimately my destiny in Christ.

And what about you?

Your thoughts sown
Become the destiny you own.