Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Remind Me


"He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along." Psalm 40:2 (New Living Translation)


Sometimes we need tangible reminders. We want a memento or a souvenir to help us remember a special event or a cherished person: photographs, ticket stubs, dried flowers. We hold on to these objects. We look at these treasures and remember where we've been. We think of how we've been changed because of the people connected to them. On hard days, particularly if that cherished person has passed on into eternity, we cling to our treasured objects with every fiber of our being, gripping them tightly as the tears flow down our faces. Then, through the pain, the significance of that object brings a smile to our face. We remember the funny movie we watched together, or we laugh at the funny faces we made in the picture. The joy mingles with the pain, and we find the strength to make room for both.

That's why. That's the answer. And the question: "Why did you get tattoos?" You see, there are still dark days. There are still days in which it takes most of my strength just to get out of bed. There are days in which the monster I know as depression roars over me and I have to fight again and again. But then I look. And I see. And I know this: Because of the cross, my story isn't over. I see it carved into my very flesh. I see it when I walk behind my beloved husband. I'm reminded that the Lord gives me strength. I'm reminded that there is joy, even in this life. I think of how the Lord lifted me up out of the abyss and brought me to a place of beauty. I recall how He walked through the fire with me. He never left my side-not even in my darkest moments.  And I fight on. Tattoos and all.



Monday, March 27, 2017

School: Week of March 20, 2017

After a great deal of prayer and thought, we decided to put our youngest child in public school. Due to the severity of her special needs, I needed to outsource her instruction. She is truly enjoying it. She has even discovered some new things. One is a love for chocolate milk! My older children will continue to be homeschooled. Each child is different, and we make decisions based on what we know is best for each of our children. It is truly a blessing to have options.
My 8th grader is taking Pre-Algebra this year. He usually enjoys math and is doing well so far. I hope that continues!
He is reading Abraham Lincoln's World in history. I find it fascinating because you learn about what was going on all over the world during Lincoln's lifetime. It really helps you to connect events and people. When I was in school, much of my history focused only on the United States; now I get to learn about the history of other parts of the world right along with my children. I love that I, too, am receiving an education! 
Early morning bliss: My decaf, our devotional book, my tenth grader's current book, and teaching unit. I've never seen my daughter so excited about her literature and composition course. Throw in some J.R.R. Tolkien and I've got one happy kid! And Mom is pretty happy, too.  The teaching unit from Prestwick House is excellent. It's opened up several great discussions already, including the conflict between good & evil, the idea of free will, and corruption through power. My daughter has been asked to find examples of irony, foreshadowing, and even an example of deus ex machina in the story.  I'm quite impressed with the vast wealth of knowledge contained in this guide. I plan to purchase more guides from them in the future.





Sunday, March 26, 2017

"Courage"

After years of fear and procrastination, I am finally pursuing my writing career full time. I've had three articles published within the last seven years, but I've only worked on my writing part time until this month.  I'm now investing more time and energy into my passion. I've applied for several freelance writing jobs, and I am also in the preliminary stages of writing my first novel. Meanwhile, I wrote this poem earlier today. It speaks of the difficulty that I have in simply getting out of bed most days due to depression, and it also speaks about overcoming my anxiety by being brave enough to bare my soul to the world. Finally, this poem reminds me (and others) that it's worth the fight to get up and to keep going; it's worth the risk to follow your dreams. So, be courageous. Do what you're meant to do.



“Courage”

Morning arrives again
It’s time to awake
Getting out of the bed
Is so hard to take

To face another day
Such a daunting task
Put on my best brave face
Wear a cheerful mask

I want to remain there
In my safe cocoon
Hating the morning sun
Longing for the moon

Like a caterpillar           
Leaves behind the known
I, too, must leave comfort
Strike out on my own

How will I ever know
How high I can fly
If I don’t spread my wings
Emerge...butterfly!

-J. Smith; March 26, 2017

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Coming Out of the Dark

"In the depths of winter I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer."
-Albert Camus

Yesterday marked the first day of spring for those of us in the northern hemisphere. It's a season of rebirth. It's a season that reminds us that there's life after death. We begin to see the light after a long darkness. We begin to feel the comfort of warmth where we once felt the bitterness of the cold. Flowers burst forth in color and trees display the brilliant green of new growth. Spring is the promise of summer to come: long days, relaxed schedules, trips to the beach, picnics, ice cream. It's a season of hope.

But what if winter didn't end? What if the darkness didn't go away? What if the bone-chilling numbness became your constant companion? What if the world lost its color? Would you keep searching for the light? Would you look for new growth? For how long? Would you continue even when it became a frantic search that ended in deeper darkness? How long would it take you to give up all hope? The darkness and cold are powerful. They can envelop you completely.

That is where I've been. That is why I've been absent from blogging for a year. Depression took over and nearly killed me. My winter was long. It was cold. It was dark. It was horrific. I thought it would never end. I hit the bottom of the pit. My husband found me there. He helped me find the strength to begin to get out. I got help. I'm better now. I'm thankful for my supportive family and friends. I'm grateful for my doctors and therapists and for the medications that they have prescribed for me. I'm eternally thankful to the Lord for his sustaining mercy and grace that carry me through every day. My depression has not gone away, but I've got the tools to manage it now. I am coming into my spring, and I am looking forward to my summer.


"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." John 1:5


Upcoming Blog Series: Five Fun Fridays

Lest you all think that I am always serious or never have any fun, allow me to introduce a new blog series: Five Fun Fridays. It will beg...