Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A time to…


a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance


Ecclesiastes 3:4, NIV



On Sunday I attended an event for some friends who were about to go through a very difficult time. As part of the invitation we were asked to share words of encouragement with them. So I prepared my card, made some food to share, and went to the event. What was interesting was that somehow we ended up going around the circle and sharing about the times we had each suffered most. It wasn’t really heavy at all. People were extremely vulnerable and we seemed to have a mutual shared spiritual space. What was amazing was that the evening was filled with laughter and joy.


In the morning I was praying for my friends and somehow the weight of what they were about to go through hit me. I wept for them. It seemed important that I had share that with them so I sent them a note to let them know I was thinking about them and weeping with them.


I think it is important to share one another’s burdens. Sometimes that means we laugh (even during the times when it seems impossible) and sometimes we cry.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Fair Weather

Usually this time of year I start feeling anxious. I wonder if I will be able to cope with the demands of a fall and winter schedule. This year is different. I am excited about re-engaging community. I can’t wait to see what God has for me.

As I have been pondering this, a frightening thought has come to mind. What happens when the weather changes? What happens if I get depressed? How will I deal with that?

I don’t think that depression is something I have ever directly admitted on my blog. I have struggled with depression on and off since I was a teenager. One particularly bad winter I spent several months sleeping on the floor instead of my bed. It went undiagnosed until one year in my mid-twenties a friend of mine who is a nurse said she thought I was depressed.

I have struggled with being a Christian who has depression. There are many in Christian circles who think it is a sin to be depressed – a form of bondage. They think that depression is always some sort of spiritual flaw and that the depressed person just needs to believe more or differently. The terrible thing is that I can be my own worst enemy in this area.

About eighteen months ago I decided I was cured from depression. I believed that I had found the ‘spiritual formula' to stay out of it. So last fall when I recognized that I was depressed, it shattered my faith. I started going to church infrequently and then stopped going all-together for three months. I was caught up in sin and miserable.

I so want this year to be different. Typically around October or November I start struggling with depression to some degree. I AM going to pray for God to shield me from depression. Someone once advised me that instead of focusing all of my energy trying to get out of or avoid depression I need to figure out how to cope with it. Many of the things I figured out then are still helpful today. Yet I think God has more for me and there are more things I need when I am depressed. Maybe the beginning is naming it, and being honest now – while I have a surplus of emotional energy.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Veggie Tales


I am reading Wide Awake by Erwin McManus. I started reading it earlier in the summer and I put it aside. I wasn’t ready for it. The book is all about living the life God has set out for you – not settling for monotony.


I started reading the book again yesterday. I got to the chapter on adapting and it hit me right where I am. McManus mentions the stories of Esther and Daniel so I decided to read the book of Esther.


As McManus points out and I confirmed in my reading Esther was really in a bad spot. Her parents die when she is young and then she is taken away from her family to spend a year being prepared to sleep with the king. I imagine what that year was like. I wondered what those beauty treatments where like for Esther. I am guessing it wasn’t like being at the spa. And for her to spend a year thinking about having sex with the king must have been terrifying and somewhat sickening for her.


Yet she becomes queen. She saves the Jews. She follows God. She listens to wise counsel…


I read the Bible in a very different way yesterday. I realized I had romanticized the story. Perhaps this is because Veggie Tales was my first experience of it. Reading the story in Scripture really made it come alive for me. I felt a kinship with Esther. My belief that God will use me even in my brokenness seems to have more substance than before.

Fasting

*** I wrote this on paper yesterday and I am typing it out today***


I have a prayer evening to go to tonight. The organizer encouraged people to enter some kind of fast during the day. They were fasting from music during their nine hour drive here and throughout the day today. I decided that I would fast from entertainment – namely the computer, tv, and reading fiction.


Lately I have really been questioning how I spend my time. To be honest I spend a lot of time on Facebook and I hate it. Facebook just seems to be a way for me to be on the outside of a whole bunch of people’s lives looking in. The newest trend on Facebook seems to be putting up bizarre , obscure, or statuses only insiders understand. At best they clutter my home page and at worst they make me feel like I am back in junior high watching the popular crowd.


I have over two hundred friends on Facebook. I know all of them but the reality is not all of them are close connections for me. So why spend copious amounts of time monitoring it? I love people’s pictures. Sometimes the status updates do keep me connected. Still I have a lot of friends who I could have over or go for coffee with instead of wasting time on Facebook.


When I woke up this morning everything became a status update in my head. I wanted to check my email, look up stuff on the web, check the weather. When I made breakfast this morning it seemed like I should turn on the TV while I was eating. I know I turn to these things instead of God.


I decided to read one of the many non-fiction resources I keep putting aside to watch TV, play with the computer, or read a novel. You know what? I learned something. It prompted me to read a book of the Bible.


And now as I sit writing out a blog post to type out after I break the fast I wonder what to take from this experience. I enjoy television often but I don’t need the television to be on to eat a meal. Facebook is a good tool for connecting but it doesn’t have to be open all of the time. Fiction is good and important but easy reads are not the only thing I need.


So maybe I don’t need to get rid of my television and computer or burn my books. Perhaps learning to keep them in their proper place is the key. This day has been a gift already. It is something I plan to do as often as I can. I wonder if I can do it every Saturday…

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Shine


A few weeks ago my pastor taught a sermon called ‘How to Find a Wife.’ He discussed many things that single people should be looking for. He wanted men to be called to a higher standard. He focused on all of the things men who are looking for a woman should be. Often he will receive text messages during the service and answer people’s questions. One woman asked him something to the effect of ‘so I am supposed to just wait until God is finished preparing a guy for me…’ His answer after some thought was, ‘it is a woman’s job to shine.’


Okay seriously, shine? I carried that with me for some time. I was feeling pretty lacklustre at the time. How does one become shiny? I remember bringing this up in the small group at the conference last week. Suddenly the answer became apparent. When I am resting in God, I shine.


Since I have come home from the conference I have been quite ill. I have had a flu that has kept me at home for the most part. Even with my physical illness I have felt something glowing inside of me. Yesterday I started feeling better and I shared with a couple of people over e-mail what had happened at the conference. Their responses were amazing. It was clear that I was shinning for them. That makes me so happy.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Dance


When I was a little girl I would spend hours in the basement dancing. This past week I was reminded of that many times as several people who were attending the conference I was at had some kind of vision of me dancing. The thing was I had the same vision before they did. So last night when the worship leader suggested that he needed some ballerina’s, I took my chance. I danced with all of the grace I could muster. I twirled, pirouetted, skipped back and forth. The people there shared my joy. I feel like a new woman. One who is living as the woman God created her to be.