All There is to Be, Unashamed

I remember the very first time I was prescribed an antidepressant. It was shortly, before my wedding in 1997.

It was Zoloft. I had already known I struggled with depression a great portion of my childhood. 

It just seemed like I always had it. There was no moment in time I can remember not feeling it. And the fact that I was feeling so much worse before what was supposed to be the most joyous day of my life made me feel even more depressed.

I don’t remember how long I had been taking it before I started to feel better, but it felt sudden. I noticed even my days where I felt physically bad, were still better than any other time before. Even my bad days were better.

Oh my gosh I felt good, no, I felt great! So much so that even when I noticed my face starting to break out, I didn’t care. But then it was getting worse. I wasn’t just breaking out, I was breaking out in hives and as my wedding day approached I decided to stop taking them.

I was warned not to, but being that it was only weeks before my wedding, I couldn’t imagine feeling any worse than having to take pictures on my day with hives all over my face.

After the wedding, my doctor changed me to Paxil, but it was never the same. I didn’t feel good, I didn’t feel bad, I just didn’t feel. I felt numb. And that was still better than feeling bad.

So why am I telling you this?

Well, I’ve been wanting to read, again. I’ve gone to the bookstore twice looking for something I feel would help me grow, or understand who I am, and both times were tough. 

I would read title after title, thinking, “I didn’t need that. I’m past that. That’s boring.” But I finally settled on one, Unashamed by Christine Caine.

Honestly it was the first book I picked up the second time I returned to the bookstore, but put it back down. I’ve gone through Healing From the Inside Out so many times, and facilitated it for years. I’m past this. I don’t feel shame anymore. But ultimately, it was exactly what I grabbed as I headed for the checkout lane.

Today I opened it, and it took me back to the first time I took an antidepressant. Yes, the first time I took it, I felt great! But eventually I just became numb. I don’t want to feel numb. That’s not enough. Even though I’ve done a lot of healing in the past… Maybe I can still feel better; be better.

I’m not even through the intro, and so many memories have flooded my mind. Memories that are attached to emotions I thought I’ve let go. Yes, I can honestly say I feel better about myself than I did ten years ago. My bad days are still better.

But maybe I’ve settled for feeling better. Maybe better isn’t good enough anymore. Maybe the reason I was so hesitant to pick up the book in the first place was because I didn’t want to admit that this is something I still struggle with.

After all I feel better. Life is better. Shouldn’t that be enough?

I think, not.

I’m anxiously awaiting this book to wonderfully wreck me. It’s time to feel all that it is to be, unashamed.

I will keep you posted.

 

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I Want to Read My Bible, but…

I recently started a woman’s Bible study. We’re reading through the book, A Woman After God’s Own Heart.

Many years ago, once I returned back to the church I questioned how I was suppose to act as a Christian woman. I didn’t have role models in place to glean from, then. So I took to reading.

I picked up the book written by Elizabeth George, A Woman After God’s Own Heart. It radically changed my life. And little tips from the book helped me start making new habits that helped me grow as a Christian woman.

My group and I are presently in chapter two. It’s about reading our Bibles daily.

I have to say way back when I first read this book, this part was super hard. I wanted to read my Bible, but it was too complicated for me. And it was a great book, but I just didn’t see how it applied to my everyday life.

So I set out to find a way that one, I could understand and two, was relevant to my life.

Here is what I found that worked for me.

There are many, many ways to read the Bible.

I’m certainly not suggesting this is the only way, or that it will even resonate with everyone. But what do you have to lose?

1) Pick a topic you would like to learn about.

The Bible is packed with lessons. You can’t learn them all at once. Pick one.

Some beginning suggestions.
The face of God: What does God look like?
Women: How was I designed to be?
Fear: What does God say about Fear?

More focused suggestions.
Christian Living: How should I be living?
Mental illness: How does God feel about my son?
Honor your mother and father: How can I honor my mother, if I don’t like her very much?

2) You don’t have to read every. single. word.

Skim, with caution. Will you read anything about, Fear in the genealogy of Jesus? Probably not. But do be careful. Once you narrow your search and become more focused on a topic, you will find lessons sprinkled out all over, in places you never saw before. It’s so exciting to find hidden treasures!

3) WRITE IN YOUR​ BIBLE!

You’re going to miss stuff. You’ll want to remember stuff. You’ll want to go back and find stuff. You’ll want to reread stuff. You gotta, gotta, gotta mark up your Bible.

God won’t get mad. He’s thrilled! He wants to encounter you there. Let him. We’re stupid. We can’t see him through all the other words. He’s talking to you, so make his words stand out and speak.

4) Whenever you come across something that has to do with your topic you’ve selected, underlined it. And move on.

You don’t have to stop and meditate on it (unless it really hit you, and you want to). Don’t assume everything has some great, Aha! moment. It won’t. But accumulatively, it will.

5) Start anywhere.

I like to start from the beginning, but I guess you don’t have to. Just make sure you don’t miss anything. If you start in the New Testament, make sure you finish in the Old. We may not be under the old law anymore, but there is still a lot of lessons to be learned, or supported in there. And don’t jump around. You start the book of John, finish the book of John before you move onto something else. Again, you’ll miss stuff.

6) If you don’t have time, read until you can underlined something, then put it away until tomorrow.

A common excuse for not reading the Bible is, I don’t have time. You don’t need a lot of time. But I can tell you, there’s been plenty of times where I thought the same thing so I decided I would only read until I found the next section that talks about my topic, and then when I look up I’ve realized I’ve not only done that but find myself several chapters passed it and 30 minutes late. Don’t even care. I’m on fire!

If you don’t have a lot of time, be disciplined, not neglectful.

7) If you have questions, write them down.

Then call or email your pastor. They love this kind of stuff! They want to know you are reading. Another common excuse for not reading the Bible is, it’s too hard to understand. Pastors’ want to be there to answer any and all of your questions. Sometimes it means they gotta go searching for the answer too. That’s good. It keeps them on their toes.

8) Don’t do more than one topic at a time.

It may take you a year to get through one topic, but that’s ok. You need to stay focused. If you start different Bibles with different topics, you’ll get lost again. It won’t be as meaningful as one topic would. You don’t have to mediate on everyday readings, because once you start reading about the same thing everyday it starts sink in and changes stuff inside of you. Narrowing your focus is important.

So, when you’re done, guess what?
YOU’VE READ THE BIBLE! THE WHOLE BIBLE! That’s huge! Not many can say that. Ask yourself,

“What did I get out of that?”
“Did I encounter God?”
“What is he trying to tell me?”

And if you don’t know, flip to anywhere in the book and look at what you’ve underlined.

Now wasn’t that just the coolest thing, EVER!?

What do you do from here?

9) We’ll pick up another Bible, silly.

But remember to lable your topic in the front of each book. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way.

You’ve got a lot that God wants to talk to you about. He’s just waiting for you to listen.

Let me know what works for you as you’ve read your Bible, and if you try what I’ve suggested, let me know how that went too. I’d love to see how you grow!

Summer Read

So, I’m so excited I got my little girl into reading! Finally!

She’s hates to read, or so she says. I just think she hasn’t found the type of books she’s into, yet.

Today, she followed me around the house, just getting into everything I was trying to do, while she was trying to entertain herself.

It wasn’t working. This is going to be another long summer!

Last year I tried to get her interested in learning Spanish. I found some workbooks for her that she flew through, so I also dug out my computer based Spanish program thinking, Ha! score! But no.

It kept her busy for about a minute. She lost interest quickly.

So today, while tripping over her, I asked if she would like me to take her to the library to pick out a book. She’s older, you know.

Well, she was super excited, so imagine my surprise when once we get there, she tells me she doesn’t like to read.

She doesn’t like to read…like that’s even a thing. She knows she’s my daughter right? She can’t possibly be serious. I read books like I drink water. I love books.

After fighting with her for what seemed like forever, I finally had to pick a book I thought she would enjoy. She was being less than helpful.

We had one of her brothers with us too. Yeah, he didn’t help. The entire time I’m trying to convince her to even consider reading something, he’s in the background whispering, “Just hit her.” And she’s responding in a not so whispering voice, ‘Grow up and get your own kids to beat. ”

A lovely day at the library, I must say.

After grabbing something I thought she might like, I quickly escorted my two loving offsprings out the door and booked it home.

Why did she even want to go to the library in the first place? I don’t know. I stopped asking.

While continuing our argument in the car, I inform her that she needs to read at least a chapter a day. And if she doesn’t read it, we will be reading it together every night.

While sitting at stop lights, I start to read her chapter one. Her brother tries to convince her she’d like the book if she’d give it a chance.

“Oh, how do you even know?”

“Because it’s about the same crap you watch on TV!”

Still not helping, but thank you… I think.

We stop by a Circle K so Justice could buy himself a soda, and I have a captive audience, so I continued reading.

We get home with only two pages left in chapter one.

“Two more pages, Butterfly. You only need to read two more pages tonight, before bed.”

Well, just as I’m about to head for my room for the evening, I remember the book. Crap.

I turn the TV off so I may finish reading it to her and get to bed and NOW she wants to read it…

Out loud….

To me.

So, I’m not sure if she really wanted to read it, or she just wanted to read it out loud, to me to put off me getting to bed.

I compromised with her. I read a page, then she did.

Well, somehow I got hustled into us reading not only to the end of chapter one, but all of CHAPTER TWO AS WELL!

We really did have a good time reading together. I wish it was a little earlier in the evening, but by the end, she made us read the last page of the chapter together.

It was great. She is actually getting into it!

Oh how great it would be to find her something to do all summer! Bonus if we can do it together!

I am encouraged. Maybe there is hope still for a little girl who claims she hates reading.

AND for a little girl who has a crush on Charlie. We’ll learn more about that, tomorrow in chapter three!