Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Things as they may seem...

If you have been any part of my life recently, well really - in the last couple of years - you know that things haven't gone as one might have hoped for Matt and me.  After a major (self-created) trial and quite literally a nervous breakdown on my end  I left my full-time job which meant we had to leave our home and move in with family and then with friends - where we stayed for about 8 months.  It was really hard being a fairly new married couple and sharing our everyday lives with other adults.  Really hard.  Our marriage however was blessed for it.  We learned patience and compassion for each other that we hadn't yet developed.  We also learned how to stick together during tough times.  I personally grew as well - learning how to play nice (well I am at least better at it), increasing my compassion and desire to serve others, and developing a greater understanding and love for the Lord's hand in my life.

The following May we were prompted to take the leap and move from everyone we knew and loved and head to Ashland, Ohio.  We were excited as it meant Matt would no longer have a lengthy commute to work, and our good friends the Perdue's moved down there a few months prior.  What we didn't know is how the overall animosity towards the Church in the area would greatly impact our lives.  We really didn't have too many day-to-day struggles in this aspect, however we did lose both places we were renting in the area because of our faith.  When we left the first place after only 6 months it was hard, but I quickly could see the Lord's plan for us.  However, the second time, we were only in our place for 2-1/2 months and it was a major blow for me.  I quickly found deepening cracks in what I thought was a sure foundation.  Why did the Lord tell us to go there only to lose 2 homes?  Didn't He know how hard that was for me to deal with?  Then I received the gentle nudge from the Spirit, a sweet reminder of a Priesthood blessing I had received months ago...

Let's back up a moment:  On top of all of the moving pains, expenses, and overall drama that comes with it, I was having some major health problems.  I won't go into details but in the matter of weeks I had to have an iron transfusion, a D&C, and was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease, although the exact diagnosis isn't known yet.  I was also having some mental health issues that led me to fear I inherited the schizophrenia my biological mother suffered from.  One particular weekend I remember really feeling like I was losing grip on reality and on Sunday I asked my husband and our home teacher to give me a blessing.  I was pretty sure that my HT didn't really know what was going on with my physical health and I was sure he didn't know about the mental health problems so asked him to give the blessing so I wouldn't allow myself to doubt the words were coming from the Spirit of the Lord.  The part of the blessing that stuck with me the most was a promise that the trials I was about to endure would be difficult, but in the end the blessings would be so sweet as to make the trials seem trivial.  At the specific time I was feeling so much fear that I didn't allow this sweet promise to comfort me, and it was placed in the back of my mind.  All I really processed at the time was that I was going to have some rough roads ahead.

Now fast forward - to just a couple of weeks ago when we lost yet another home and my foundation was starting to crumble.  That moment I felt the Spirit remind me of the sweet promise I had received months before.  As the Spirit over-whelmed me with comfort a verse from the Doctrine & Covenants came to mind.

"My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; and then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.  Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands."    (D&C 121:7-9)

Now in no way do I compare my trials with those that the early saints endured, and definitely not those that the Prophet Joseph Smith endured, but at that moment I could see the big picture.  I could expand my focus and realize that as tough as things seem now, they really are nothing compared to the eternities of joy I will experience if I endure the trials now.  This truth has helped me change my perspective on our situations.  It has helped me to focus on the blessings which have made the trials so much easier to endure.  I'm not really ready to say "bring it on" but I know that all things are possible when I trust in the Lord.

I'm once again humbled, and grateful for the blessing of trials in my life.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Drum Roll Please...

.... I can no longer claim I never win anything, because I have won the

Thank you, Vickie, from The Selvage Edge for this award!  (Well, in truth, I received this award several months ago from my friend Stacy at Crawford Clan Weekly but was lame and never completed it!)  

So, in case you don't know how the Liebster award works, I'll pretend I do and explain it to you ;).  From my understanding it is a way for smaller blogs to get out there and gain some followers.  When nominated, you answer a series of question the nominator chooses to help readers get to know a little better.  You then choose a number of blogs you enjoy (with a small number of followers) and give them a series of questions to answer. So, here it goes...  

1.  What was the best job (paid or unpaid) that you ever had and why was it the best?
My best 'job' is a babysitter. Vickie mentioned she didn't think some people counted that, but honestly, I couldn't choose another one.  I LOVE kiddos and the opportunity to spend time with them.

2.  What is your favorite type of cookie?
I love ooey gooey chocolate chip cookies, but they need to be soft, but not super thick, and just a little chewy.

3.  What is your favorite thing to teach a child?  
That they are of royal lineage and are worth the world.

4.  What is your favorite book and why?
I'm cheating and giving two answers here as I have a favorite because it is the most valuable to me, and a favorite because it's my favorite to read.  The one that has been most valuable in my life is the Book of Mormon.  It has brought me closer to the Savior than any other book and has changed my life for the good forever.  My favorite to read is Jemima J by Jane Green.  It literally changed my personal outlook on life and on myself.  If you like to read, you should definitely check it out!  

5.  If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
I wouldn't.  I think one of the most beautiful things about the Plan of Salvation is the gift of agency we have been given - and I wouldn't chose to take that away from others.  Lame answer, I know - deal ;)

6.  If there is a nickname that your family uses for you, what is it and how did you get it?
My 'full' nickname is Lissy Louie - but as an adult it's been shortened to Lou, or Aunt Louie by my nieces and nephews.  When I was young my little sister Kim couldn't say my name, so she called me Lissy Louie - and it has stuck.

7.  What is the one song that without a doubt always puts you in a good mood?
You Are My Sunshine - I remember virtually nothing about my biological mother, and most of the things I have been told have been unpleasant, but I do remember the smell of vanilla and her singing this song

8.  What was your favorite vacation?
Several years ago my sister used her time-share points (or whatever) to get condos for the whole family in the mountains near Gatlinburg, TN.  It was amazing and the first time we had all been together for something other than a funeral in several years. 

9.  Excluding Jesus, who is your favorite historical figure and why?
Joseph Smith - the strength of character he showed inspires me when times are hard.  

10.  What is your favorite characteristic in your spouse?
His patience.  It's at times beyond what I think is humanly possible!  

And the nominees are:

& Angela from Abstinence and the City

and I'm lame, and am going to copy Vickie's questions (mostly because I like them!)

Friday, July 19, 2013

My shoes...

One thing I have learned since my initial struggle with anxiety and depression has started is that no matter how hard I would have tried I could have never really understood what another person was going through until experiencing it myself.  Never.  With that being said, I know our Father in Heaven has a plan of happiness for each of us.  I know He wants us each to be happy.  I also know that depression is a very real trial that some are given - not because of sin - but because of a need for growth.  Growth we are all in need of. We are each given our own trials to help us grow and become more like the Savior, and closer to our Father in Heaven. Some trials are a single occurrence that we make it through, (hopefully) learn from, and (eventually) move past. Other trials are more long lasting.  Things we struggle with for long periods of time, sometimes for a lifetime.

For me (and many others), depression and anxiety are trials that I have to deal with in the long-term.  My bouts with these trials are not because I'm straying from the things I know to be right, but because I have a physical ailment that keeps my brain from functioning properly to allow me the choice to be happy.  Thankfully, modern medicine has developed pharmaceuticals that can work to correct this imbalance, much like they've created them for other diseases.  While it often can take several months and trial and error with different medications and different doses, the results can be extremely helpful when the right prescription(s) is found.  I was blessed that when I sought help from my doctor, she recognized the depression was a result of the general anxiety disorder/PTSD and she knew what prescription would be right for me.  I have been on the medication for almost two years, and have had very good results with it.

A few weeks ago I had about 10 days where I was without the medication.  It resulted in quite literally the worst week or so of my life.  I would wake up in the morning with this pit in my stomach that made me want to die.  Literally, death was something I wished for.  No matter how much I prayed, cried, read, or pleaded - the feeling was still there. A deep feeling of despair that loomed over me through everything I did.   I was also dealing with more anxiety attacks in a day than I had in the previous six months combined. I would get short of breath, my stomach would start to turn, and I was extremely afraid - but I didn't know of what.  The room would often spin, and at times I felt like I was having a break from reality.  A day dream that felt real, and that I couldn't get out of no matter how hard I tried.  During these times I was not doing anything that deemed me unworthy to feel the Spirit, but it felt nearly impossible to do.  Matt called upon the power of the Priesthood to give me a blessing of comfort.  However, instead of a release from the trial, I was told it was something I had to bear, but it would strengthen me in the end.  This was the point where I felt the despair might swallow me whole.  For the first time in my life, even after struggling with depression for over two years, I had a glimpse of understanding as to why some feel suicide is the only option.

Thankfully it was only a couple days later that I was able to get back onto my medication - and I was blessed that in only two days I was feeling noticeably better.  It's been about two weeks since I've been back on my medication and while I am still dealing with daily anxiety attacks life is much more manageable and is continually getting better.

Now, why the blog post?  One of the other things I was told is to share my experience whenever prompted to do so.  One thing I've learned the most from my experiences the last couple of years is how ignorant most people are to the validity and severity of depression.  It is not something that someone can just 'get over'.  When a person struggles with depression, they literally no longer have the choice to be happy at any given time.  We should never assume it's because a person is making bad choices, or choosing not to be happy.  We should also never assume we understand what they are going through.  As with all things, we should comfort, lift, and support - not judge, demean, or lecture.

As a side note - there are some excellent articles by general authorities on LDS.org that can shed light for both those suffering and those who know & care for someone suffering.  I've linked a couple of my favorites below.
Myths on Mental Illness
Broken Things to Mend

Friday, May 31, 2013

I am blessed!

WOW! So much has happened since the last time I posted.  This is the first time I've actually sat down for more than a short period of time in seriously probably 6 weeks.  It feels so good, but I really shouldn't be doing it...oh well!

I should probably cover my medical situation first for those that have been asking and I haven't had time to respond to.  I've been going through a series of tests for three different problems.  I had blood work come positive for ANA - which means I have some sort of autoimmune disease, but I don't yet know which one.  My family doctor's best guess is Lupus, but I go to a rheumatologist on July 5th to start a new series of diagnostic tests.

The second problem is the crappy menstrual cycle I've had forever.  It seems to be more out of control than it has ever been.  I have PCOS and endometreosis, but have had problems beyond even those lately.  They found a mass on my uterus so yesterday I went in for a DNC and to have the mass biopsied.  I get those results on June 12th.

The third problem is related to the 2nd... but I am severely anemic and Vitamin D deficient. I have been on a mega dose of ferrous sulfate multiple times a day for a little while now, with no luck... so this Monday, and again 2 weeks after that, I have to go in for Iron transfusions - yippee!!  I'm also on a large (50,000 iu) of Vitamin D once a week for the next 16 weeks.  I guess generally it's only done for 8 weeks, but I was so low she wants to double the time.  Then I'll go in for more blood work to see if the transfusions and etc. helped.

In other news, Matt received a new job and today is his last day at Ashland University.  The job there was a huge blessing in our lives, but it is definitely time for him to move on to better things.  A few select people have put forth their best effort to make his last week crappy ~ but he's doing his best to enjoy his last few hours there.  I will still attend the university to finish my degree (and btw...I made Dean's list again!!), but will have to pay  for it now....so hoping for a lot of grant money!

We are moving into a new place next week.  It's a SMALL apartment in a horse barn but will allow us to save a ton of money.  We are still in search of a home to buy, but wanted to stop mooching off others in the mean time so are renting this place month-to-month.  In the mean time we have been helping my in-laws get ready to move into their new house.  They bought a foreclosed home and are basically having to gut it.  I have been watching Sofia & Noah during the day, and Matt used his vacation time and evenings to help at the new house.  It's been crazy busy, but fun and really worth it.  I love how the Lord works through service.  I love how much I have been able to grow to appreciate things that I couldn't see before.

I'm sure there's a ton I'm missing - but alas, duty calls.  We are headed back to the apartment to do the last bit of cleaning and wait for the kids to get off the bus.  Then they are officially out of the apartment!

I've appreciated and felt all of the prayers on my behalf!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Be Still, and Know that I am God

I want to thank those who left supportive comments on my last blog post, that has since been deleted.  I moved it over to my journal, where it won't be for public consumption.  Mostly because I don't want to give this blog that tone. 

With that being said ~ I would much rather share the lesson I am learning from the trials I so openly complained about.  On Sunday evening I was at my ropes end.  There is a blessing that we've been promised, that we are waiting on.  The blessing is actually what's causing us a delay in our housing situation, and is causing some hardships financially.  Without going into too many details - the path we have been prompted to be on, that leads to this blessing, has been completely faith based, and quite frankly completely against my normal practices or what makes sense' on paper.  However, we've been prayerful, and have received clear answers as to what to do (in most cases) and have done our best to follow those promptings. Even so, the road has been bumpy, and the other stressful events in our lives have made the bumpy road feel treacherous.  

So, back to Sunday evening.  During our couples prayer I started to lose it, but then during my personal prayer I really lost it.  I really felt like I couldn't take it anymore.  The tears thankfully helped me sleep through the night, and when I woke up I had the most peaceful feeling I've had in months.  As I was laying in bed, awake half an hour before the alarm would go off, I pondered the feelings that were so overwhelming at the time.  The words impressed on my mind, over and over, were "Be still, and know that I am God".  It seemed like such a simple answer, but exactly what I needed to hear.  Exactly.  It gave me the most peaceful, calm feeling that has lasted for days.  

I am so thankful for a Heavenly Father who is all knowing, and all powerful.  Who has all things under His control, but still allows us to use our agency.  I am thankful that when we follow His promptings, we are promised that He will provide and take care of us.  Maybe not in the way, or time frame, we hope for...but His way, and His timing is always better than we could ever hope for anyhow.  

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A new battery pack, please...

That's what I need to keep going.  My schedule this semester, along with Church responsibilities, work, and family drama, is draining me.  I have a few posts floating in my head, but haven't had long enough to sit down and write them.  After I do the stake newsletter and finish the next two weeks of classes maybe...spring break, can't come soon enough!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Don't judge me because I sin differently than you.

In last April's conference President Uchtdorf shared a bumper sticker he had seen on the highway ~ "Don't judge me because I sin differently than you".  It's such a wonderful way to remind us all that not a single one of us is sin free.  We all make mistakes.  We are all sinners.  Yet we are all very good at deciding other's sins are worse than our own.  I once heard a sister talk in a Relief Society lesson on how her 'machines' get a rest on the Sabbath as well (I think the example used was the dishwasher).  Then that evening she posted on Facebook about all the cooking and baking she had done that afternoon with her free time.  There was another time when a brother was talking about how he wouldn't condone the actions of those that would duck out and go to McDonald's during Sunday School, as he was watching a movie that evening.  Now let me be clear - I have done all of these things on the Sabbath, so I am not judging or condemning anyone for their actions.  They are just recent events that have really helped me to focus in on how we are all unintentional hypocrites - myself included.  

This realization has helped me really know what my spiritual new year's resolution needs to be.  I have a strong desire, and need, to stop judging people as if I'm free of sin.  Clearly I'm not, and I'm all too aware of that.  However, when I look at others, I tend to somehow think my sins aren't as 'bad' or 'serious' as theirs.  Which quite frankly, is crap. We all have strengths and weaknesses.  We will all be judged in our own time, for our own action and desires, but the most important thing is that it will be by the Lord.  The only one worthy of doing so as He truly was the only one who could walk this earth in perfection.  

So my desire is to see everyone as the Lord sees them.  To see them as children of a loving Heavenly Father.  Not just those I have relationships with, but everyone.  People I pass on campus, or have class with.  Those I see at the store or work for.  I want to see them as the Lord sees them, and in turn, learn to love them as the Lord loves them.