The Urge to Purge

When I run, at the end, when I am worn out and want to take yet another walk break, I envision a finish line up ahead. and me striving toward it as the crowd on either side chants in unison for my triumphal entry with uninhibited exhilaration.

Every foot step propels me by their jubilation, until I arrive with arms raised and knees bent just steps over the line at the effort expended…

If that were only the truth.

So far, every race I participate, the end is a collaboration of mishaps.

As the miles decrease, my worries increase.  

My mind chants, “I think I can,” as my body cramps in contradiction.  And I begin to slow down.  And my legs move about as one stuck in the mud.

As I round the corner of the final lap, not at the head of the pack, but more like the middle of the road with other sweat-profused individuals, I begin to develop a large lump in my throat , that quickly transitions into a desperate need to throw up right then and there.

So, with the goal within sight, I come to a complete stop to let the internal contents cool down and the desire to dissipate.

Apparently, adrenaline, combined with the challenge, is the perfect combination to propel my stomach, and not my feet.

I am tired of holding back.

What if I continue and see what comes about?

So what if I puke.  Is that really the end of the world?  I mean, really, if you smelled me at this point, my contents might be a sweet aroma to camouflage the sweat.  (Yes, gross!)

I find I stop short quite often out of a lump of fear.

Fear holds back the impulse to propel forward.

And, impulse is replaced with indecision and doubt and wonder.

I have a lot to say.  But, I stop short because I wonder…

Maybe my words will offend someone.

What if I don’t throw in a bible verse at the end of a post, will people will think I am no longer a christian writer?

I worry if I tell you my true heart condition on a continuous basis, you may wonder if I have went off the deep end, and am in dire need an intervention. Or an exorcism.

Does anyone want to really read these thoughts of mine anyway–maybe I should just keep them to myself.

What in the world?

So, I’ve made a decision.

I will not let fear reign when I feel the urge to purge.

Right now my impulsive “gut instinct” wants to send the letter I composed days ago to the hiring team who dismissed my application for employment–without even an interview.

Since they have not found a qualified candidate, after all these months, maybe I will.  Maybe I will not hold back with niceties, and speak the passionate, raw truth about why I believe I could be a true contender.

Maybe.

 

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Do You Truly Understand the Impact of Your Calling?

Do you truly understand the impact of your calling?

By day he was a janitor.

His pedigree did not accompany letters like PHD, or Dr. No. This hardworking, humble man, walked the halls of a middle school and cleaned up behind the debris left by hundreds of adolescents in a single day. When I was little, it was such a privilege to accompany him after hours, and watch him take care of details most don’t realize need to be done.

He and his wife lived modestly. So much so, it was not uncommon for them to enter a restaurant and re-use old tea bags and just ask the waiter for hot water.

His wardrobe was equally as eccentric. Belt AND suspenders held up a pair of paints which seams had seen better days, and a grayish-white-short-sleeve-button-up topped the ensemble.  The upper pocket of this shirt held a worn-out pocket protector which held only one piece of literature:

A pamphlet with the words, ‘Perhaps Today’.

He was quite a site.

On paper, his life was not marked by worldly possessions, but, I would suggest it far-surpassed most.

This man, who happened to be my grandfather, was my first witness of Jesus in words, and by action. A former missionary to Venezuela, he went on to pastor a very small congregation in the Midwest, without pay. He invested countless hours into the lives of only a handful of people for many years.

Yet, the fruit of his labor was far-reaching—much farther than I ever knew.

On the other side of the world, a walking postman lived in Ghana, West Africa. One day while working his route, he noticed a piece of paper on the ground. He reached down and picked it up and put it in his pocket. Later, he read the words, simply titled, ‘The Good News’. This homemade Bible tract was hand-produced by my grandfather, from the other side of the world.

How it reached the ground of this man’s path—only God knows.

But, the result was far-reaching. This man, whose whole family ended up converting to Christianity, went on to become a pastor himself. He planted home churches and shared the Good News of Jesus throughout his lifetime.

Though they never physically met, and related solely by hand-written letters, they worked alongside each other for both their lifetimes.

As a result, the trajectory of many lives changed because of their dedication. How many–only God knows.

Sometimes we don’t see the fruit of our labor, or, how far-reaching our actions can be…

May I encourage you today?  

Your actions are far-reaching–much more than you may ever know.

Uncomfortably Numb, with a Side of Death Threats

Disclaimer:  This decision of mine rests solely on me.  I do not advocate anyone to go off medicine a doctor has prescribed.  Please talk with your physician about any and all medical concerns.  

That being said…

I feel like I am hardly alive.

The highs have lowered, yet, I feel overall numb–like a shot of Novocain was placed in my veins to ward-off all emotion.

Even during the darkest days, the struggle to stay alive always won over the desire to die.

But, this recent lack of feeling has me wondering, “What is the point?”

One month ago, to the day, I took my first antidepressant.  Tired of extreme dips, I decided to see for myself if a little pill could alleviate the symptoms of sadness.

The first two weeks I felt like I was alone in a hollow tunnel.  My thoughts were delayed–like they needed a moment before they caught up to come out my mouth in the form of communication.

In hope, I continued on–hoping the fog would dissipate into clear skies, and my heart would awaken again to joy.

But, I wonder if the cure is not all its cracked up to be.

Focus has returned.  But, feeling has not–with the exception of random urges to give up on life.

Last night four people stopped to ask if I was okay.  The portrait smile pasted on my face to ward off any and all concern obviously had a crack in its facade.

Okay, I am not entirely okay.

Now, please, leave me alone to manage my way through this feeling of numbness.

My passion and purpose have diminished.  

I don’t care to write.

I don’t want to pray.

I don’t feel like talking.

I don’t want to do pretty much anything.

This is not the normal me.

My passion is being poisoned by prescription medicine.

Laying on the couch last night, tired of this lackluster feeling, I felt like King Solomon penning the repetitive term–meaningless.

Meaningless has never been part of my vocabulary.  I have always found purpose–especially in my down state.

God has put me in contact with a few, over the years, who were scarily close to suicide.  Had I not been in the throws of depression myself, I may have not noticed their desperate state.

But, it is as if the pulse of my passion is faint.

Hardly alive.

I have given it a month.

I am finished.  Not with life–but with the “cure”.

I will continue to grasp hold the Great Physician as He walks me through this valley of dreary.

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.  (Psalm 23:4 NLT)

Wise Words from a Young, Wise Soul

Yesterday was not the birthday celebration I had hoped to celebrate.  Last year, if you were with me, was the first year I celebrated myself on my actual date of birth, since 2001.

Nine-eleven can be somewhat a downer. Even so, last year proved I could take back my birthday, and by doing so, I honored my existence on this day of tragic remembrance.

So, when I went to bed on the tenth, feeling the depressed forty-five year old soul who has been down for months on end, who cannot seem to climb out of this bottomless pit–I had hoped the new birthday on the horizon would be just the pick-me-up I needed.

Unfortunately, I awoke to an overwhelming heaviness I could not seem to shake.  Actually, nothing seemed to relieve this darkness that seemed to escalate as the day progressed.

I pulled out my arsenal of methods, that usually pull me out eventually, yet, each failed tremendously.

Not that anyone was to blame.  I am ever-so-grateful for my amazing friends and family–truly, I am.

But, this depression has the best of my every single days. 

I am sick and tired of it.  

And, I am becoming equally tired of fighting it.  

So, today, to my surprise, I received an ‘unbirthday’ letter from my wonderful daughter, that has helped pull me up a bit.

I hope it helps encourage anyone else out there who needs encouragement on this 12th day of September, 2014:

This is not a birthday card. This is a just because you don’t always have to celebrate the years, sometimes the days you wake up and roll out of bed are deserving of recognition.

Take back roads without a destination and find a new way home. There are more ways than one to where you desire.

Get up and look in the mirror. Fully clothed. Naked. Backwards. Upside down. Make a face. Observe yourself. Count your freckles and name your constellations. Notice your crow’s feet and label each wrinkle with your favorite memory.

Instead of running into the sunrise, run into the sunset. Realize that endings are just as beautiful as beginnings.

Watch your favorite movie and laugh. Even loud. Let it fill the room. Happiness doesn’t always have to be seen to be real. Make every octave count.

Pick a song you really like and play it in the shower. Loud. Listen to it on repeat. Dance around to it. Memorize the beat until it beats the hell out of you. Then pick a new instrument to pay attention to. Really listen to it. Music has a funny way at helping us understand that life is constructed of multiple pieces.

Turn off all of the lights and fire up some candles. Feel the heat of the flame. Let the scent fill the room. Burn it to the bottom. When it is out, realize that it has more purpose than just illuminating the night.

Strike up conversation with a stranger. Exchange stories. Do not listen for yourself in their words. Seek strengths that you did not know existed. Acknowledge weaknesses. Tell your story. Living isn’t about broadcasting every high, or hiding every low. You are alive. You do not need to prove that you have a life.

The fact that you are struggling does not make you a burden. Do not apologize for how you deal with your sadness. Do not catch knives in fear of where they will find their depth. Let it out. Stop looking at the ceiling and praying tears won’t overflow. Your eyes were not made to hold shut. Look forward, Mom. You have so much to look forward to.

This is not a birthday card. But if it were, you’ve done damn well at living another 365 days.

Happy September 12th.

I love you best…

If Looks Could Kill

I had hoped this morning to get out before the minivan mamas–you know, the drive-up divas who drop off their little ones to the front step of the school.

Not that I have anything against them personally, it is just they are the forefront of my frustration as I seem to go unnoticed by those in large vehicles who seem to be blind to the sweaty puff-a-lump attempting to cross in front of them.  I would say I am in their blind spot, but, who are we kidding?

Actually, this only seems to happens when I do not have enough of a head start in the morning, and the clock is about to strike late child.

So, this morning I took advantage of an opportunity to cross the walk while the crossing guard crossed children across another street at the intersection.

By the glare in her eyes toward me, I knew my opportunity to slip by on another street while she stopped all traffic was not going as unnoticed as I had hoped.

I instantly gave her a smile to alleviate her curt expression.  What was the big deal?  It was not as if I harmed someone.  Yet, she looked at me as if I had committed some cardinal sin by crossing the crosswalk without supervision.

It was right about then when the subtle, internal correction checked my spirit–and showed me the error of my ways.

Here this lady attempted to teach children how to stop and wait and look to the left and then the right and then the left again and cross over to the other side in safety.

And, this able-bodied adult taught by example to rush ahead and run out in front of traffic, all the while intentionally ignoring authority.  Hmmm.

“Do as I say and not as I do.”  

Knowing what is right, but choosing to do wrong, because it is not THAT big of a deal.

I call these peripheral sins.

Not big intentional sins when it is obvious I am doing wrong.

No, the ones just out of direct view–the ones most others do not recognize in us, that go unnoticed to all–all, with the exception of Jesus.

Reminded me of when He had his eye on Peter after Peter boldly declared his allegiance to Him.  A matter of minutes later, seemingly out of eyeshot, Peter threw out a few “white lies” in the midst of others.

Seemingly small in the grand scheme of things.

From Luke 22 (NIV)…

A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight.  She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.”

But, he denied it.  “Woman, I don’t know him.”   he said. 

A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” 

“Man, I am not!” Peter replied.  

An hour later a third person looked his way and called his bluff–and again he adamantly denied his allegiance to Jesus.

When this next verse caught him off guard:

The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter.  

How often do I ‘pull a Peter’?  I am sold out to do what is right, then right in the middle of a seemingly small moment, I mess up.  And not only that, but my mess up is not just my own, but actually messes up my witness to the world around me.

Sad to say, I’d say I commit peripheral sins on a daily basis.

I’m guessing I am not the only one.

But, the great thing I learn about the Jesus and Peter example is Jesus did not give up on Peter after his momentary mess up.  Not at all.  And, I wonder–when He looked Peter’s way, if it was more of a sad expression, and not a stern one?  I’d like to think so.

Good thing is tomorrow is another day with second chances on the horizon.

And, I promise to wait my turn, so when her bright-colored vest turns my way, I model appropriate behavior in front of young, impressionable souls.

 

A Cup of Water Can Change the World

I went on a hike the other day in the near 100 degree heat.  Usually the people you come upon on the trails are either hard-core-die-hard athletes, or not-too-bright individuals like myself.  So, I was a bit surprised to see this young couple walking my way who looked to fit neither category.

As they approached, I moved over to the side so they could make their way by.  But, instead of passing by, they stopped right in front of me.

The girl looked overheated up close–to the point where sweat stopped and face flushed.  The boyfriend who accompanied her had an obvious concerned look of her welfare, and asked in near panic if I had water to spare for her.

Since I sported a full camelback on my back, I leaned in and pulled the nozzle toward her and attempted a quick lesson on how to use it.  Basically you suck through the hose like a straw until water makes its way to your mouth.

She figured it out fairly quickly.

Satisfied with her hydration, he took the nozzle out of her hands, which may I remind you was actually attached to my back, and pulled it his way with me nearly losing my footing if I don’t lean in close to him.

But, the awkward angle was over before I know it and he gave a quick ‘thanks’ as I gave directions on the nearest exit– and they disappeared through the trees.

As I continued on rehashing the situation in my mind of their dire predicament, panic set in at the thought of these strangers–actually, their mouths.

Where have their mouths been?

What if they had some contagious disease and they did not really need water but were looking for suckers like me to spread the infection quickly, and were going to take over the world cause they were the only ones who had the cure.

Okay, a bit exaggeration, especially since my lip actually sported a tiny cut on the edge that day that went unnoticed in their desperation.  I guess when you are desperate enough, it is easy to look past such details.

Seriously, if I had thought too much of their possible lack of oral hygiene I may have refused my life-saving backpack.

Actually, the scenario reminded me of that verse about offering a cup of water:

If anyone gives you even a cup of water because you belong to the Messiah, I tell you the truth, that person will surely be rewarded (Mark 9:41 NLT)

A cup of water to someone in desperate need is so simple.  Almost seems too simple.

What if we offered cups of water without reservation, is it possible we could actually change the world? 

Intelligence Questioned

Went on a hike in 100+ degree heat with Hubby the other day.   Why on earth we hike in such extreme temperatures is beyond me.  But, most of the path is shade, so it’s not too bad.

I can be a bit neurotic when it comes to suspicious sounds and surroundings though.  It could be because of the infamous dog bite of 2010.

Anyway, as we make our way through these dense surroundings, my mind plays a familiar phrase as I approach each questionable leaf:

Leaves of three–let it be

A friendly phrase reminding of the potential foe in the midst.

When a memory, from years gone by, pops in my mind and makes me to chuckle.

It actually may be one of the stupidest things I’ve done on record to date:

I took hold of poison ivy.

On vacation with a friend, out in the woods, we spotted the infamous leaf of three.  I am not certain who came up with this grandiose idea, but the thought was planted by one of us all the same.

We would take home a piece of this plant, and, as a way to miss school, we would rub the leaves all over ourselves.

Genius I tell you.

So, I pulled some of the plant and placed it in a bag.  Yes, I took hold of poison ivy with my bare hands and placed it in a baggie.

Now, what do you think happened next?  Well, if you are of a certain amount of intelligence you can imagine how this played out.

I ended up with a nice outbreak.

And the uncontrollable itch and discomfort accompanied me home, and entertained me for days on end.  Oh, it gets even better–I am completely healed before the first day of school.

I am certain this type of stupidity falls into the Forrest Gump category of:

Stupid is as stupid does

For years, I believed I lacked true intelligence. Not because of the stupidity of this stupid moment, but because somewhere along the way, I was convinced I was not smart.

Funny? Yes.

Pretty? Sometimes.

Caring? Always.

But smart?  Not usually a descriptive of me.  

To steal a quote from Foghorn Leghorn:

The girl’s about as sharp as a bowling ball. 

Now, I do consider myself a suburban form of ‘street smart’.

Could be my educational background that caused the low-grade evaluation of myself.

We can blame it on algebra.  Or, maybe science.

Why is the sky blue, or the grass green?  Cause God made it that way.  Duh.

Truth be told, I am smart.

Actually, algebra was a strength early on as I qualified for Algebra 1 Honors freshman year of high school.  But, instead of the pursuit of mathematical equations, I chose pre-algebra with my peers, and accumulated nearly 20 suspensions to round out the year with a big bang.

The problem was a difficult life-story problem which contributed to my self-induced delinquency.

Which eventually spread into the questioning of my intelligence overall.

Could be because I believed the internal dialog that composed continuous negative evaluations of my intellect.

But, I am not stupid.

No longer do I entertain negative equations that enter my mind, which I am not for certain are from me anyway.

Instead, I fill my mind with truth.

Years later, I went to community college and completed Algebra 1 with an A!

Stupid does does not necessarily mean stupid is.

 

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)