Monday, November 28, 2005

Understanding!

Well, maybe not full understanding, but at least some willingness to work toward understanding, which I'll totally take!

I'll back up a minute. We spent the full Thanksgiving weekend up in PA with my family. Mom wanted my sister and I to watch some Lisa Bevere videos on anger. They were very good (well, the first few were -- we didn't finish watching them!). However, what was really great was that it allowed us to begin discussion about issues that brought us to what has been going on with Jason for the past year and a half.

The whole issue of Jason's mental illness has been a difficult one for our families to deal with. My mom and my sister in particular tend to have a very "suck it up" type attitude and when it comes to bipolar, it's not like you can just choose how you feel. While I've known that intellectually they believe the diagnosis, I've never gotten the feeling from them that they actually believe it. As a result, I've shared virtually nothing of what I've gone through with them. I know that their reaction is pretty common among people who haven't had to deal with mental illness, and even moreso among the Christian community where feelings are completely a choice. I didn't really fault them, but it also meant that I wasn't in a real rush to share anything with them about what I have to go through living with someone who deals with bipolar.

After a really round about way of getting there, we were able to pinpoint some issues that we had all been feeling/thinking/believing/assuming/whatever. It was incredibly painful to have to say and hear lots of these things (for both them and me), but the end result was so worth it! While I know that they can't really understand what Jason deals with (and by proxy, what I deal with), I think they might actually believe that it exists now. I was able to explain to them why the correct diagnosis was so important (that while it is a mix of depression and anxiety for him, treating that can't help him the way treating bipolar can, just like treating side-effects of cancer can't help treat the actual disease itself). I was able to explain that mania isn't just big-spending, sexual exploit, wild party euphoria, but can also be insomnia, anxious dysphoria. That while they may not have recognized it (heck, we didn't recognize it!), they had seen Jason in a manic state.

And they were able to explain to me that I need to back off my need to defend, and be willing to explain, even to explain more than once. I need to be able to give examples and analogies, rather than simply spouting facts and information.

I know that this isn't the whole thing and that there are still going to be times when it's going to be easy to blame the person rather than the disease (I still do it often enough myself and I know better!), but I think we're finally reaching a point where we can actually move forward, rather than acting like we're moving forward. And that was the best reason to give thanks this whole weekend!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving List

My 2005 list of things for which I am thankful:

~Hubby. This guy is just too amazing. I'm so proud of him for facing the bipolar diagnosis head on, rather than running away or burying his head in the sand. He seeks treatment and wellness and I am just really proud of him for that. I am so lucky to have a husband who cares about his family so much. Love ya' baby!

~The kids. I'm blessed to have four healthy, smart, adorable children. I would never have seen myself with this big brood, but I'm so glad I get to be their mom. They are an incredible accomplishment!

~The doula gig. I can't believe I'm finally seeing my dream come true! I absolutely love being able to be a positive part of some women's births. What an honor and I'm so grateful that I get to do this.

~Julia. I love having a best friend. It's good to know that someone knows what I'm going through. I love knowing that I can call her to ask for prayer and be certain that it's going to happen. And I love being able to just shoot the breeze with someone.

~Tree of Life Church. I'm glad to be a part of this church family. It's great to hear the truth of the Word preached and to see love in action. I look forward to seeing how God will grow this congregation.

~All the stuff I take for granted. I'm so blessed and forget it so often! I can focus on the negative so easily. Have to clean, have to do laundry, have to cook, have to give baths, have to pay the bills, but I often forget that I have a nice house, lots of clothes, plenty of food, healthy kids, money in the bank.

Thank you God for all the things that I take for granted! May You be lifted up and exalted!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Toasty Warm

No rants from me today!

After several false starts, we now have our vent-free gas stove hooked up.

This thing rocks!!!

Seriously, this was the best $500 we've spent in a long time. Yesterday when we kicked it on in the morning, we heated up the living room to much warmer temps than we ever get with the furnace in about half an hour. Because it's in the room with the thermostat, we barely run the main furnace at all. The heat moves up the stairs just great, heating up both rooms (boys' room better, but that makes sense, since the girls' room is the most temperature unfriendly space in the house!). The only rooms that seem to be missing out are the kitchen and our bedroom, but with the oven in the kitchen and an electric blanket in our room, no problem.

With surging natural gas prices, I am absolutely certain that we're going to see a reduction in our gas bill. And that makes me happy, happy, happy!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Women's rights???

C-section rate hits record high at 29%.

Almost one in three births is now a surgical event. The article states, "One reason for the rising C-section rate is the declining percentage of women who deliver vaginally after a prior C-section." While I understand that some women choose not to deliver vaginally, many women are being denied the choice to persue a VBAC. Despite the nay-sayers, 75% of women who try a VBAC are successful (which is closing in on regular birth at this point!) and fewer than 1% experience a uterine tear. (source) However, surgical birth carries a greater risk (far greater than 1%) for mother and baby. Risk of of premature delivery for the infant, increased bleeding & infection for the mother.

Women have surrendered their rights yet again. We have the right to terminate pregnancy, which frequently carries with it far greater physical and emotional risks while giving up our rights to carry the baby to term and deliver in the manner of our choice. Most insurance companies will cover an abortion, however, many will not cover a VBAC. Hospitals that will allow gynecologists to perform abortions will not allow obstetricians to deliver a VBAC. What is wrong with this picture? Why are my rights as a woman limited only to choosing death, but not to choosing life? How is it that I can make the decision to eliminate my baby, but am not qualified to determine whether or not I would like to try a VBAC?

As women, we need to stand up and ask that our voices be heard for all of our reproductive rights, not just those that are destructive.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Praise Practice

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who practice it. His praise endures forever!" Psalm 111:10 (RSV)

Last night we had praise practice. Probably more accurately music rehearsal. And probably even more accurately, a run through of this Sunday's worship set. I kid -- it really was a good rehearsal last night.

This morning, I started thinking about the various definitions of practice. Being a musician, the first one that comes to mind is: "to do or perform (something) repeatedly in order to acquire or polish skill." Not always a joyful thing, but something that needs to be done in order to excel at my craft.

But the verse above uses practice in a different way. It means, "To carry out in action; observe."

How differently would I live my life if I look to practice praise as a matter of doing, rather than a drudgery? What if the practice of praise becomes something active, rather than something passive? My prayer today is that I will seek to practice more of the things of God -- not as a performance for other people, but as a matter of course in my daily life.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

In the beginning...

Since blogging is "the" thing to do, and I certainly want to be hip, I have gotten myself a free blog site and off I go!

One of my New Year's Resolutions for 2005 was to write more often. I've been average at best about actually following through with this. My paper and pen journal has been good, I've written some stuff for JFM, which is good, too many internet forum posts to count (probably less good!). But now, what with a blog and all, I expect writing to just POUR out! ;-)

Anyway, today I want to write about relationships. God has so been laying it on my heart that we need to spend more time building relationships with those around us. We're so quick to pass someone in church, give the obligatory, "howareyoufine" exchange without even listening. Asking "how are you" isn't even a question any more. I could just say, "Blah, blah, blah" and it would be just as interactive.

So today, before all 3 people who read this blog, I'm going to stop that. No more passing questions that I don't want answered. If I ask someone how they're doing, it's going to be because I actually care. If I say that I should get together with someone, I'm actually going to work to get together with them. If I see someone who needs a hug, I'm going to hug them. People are more important than my schedule. Relationship is more important than acquaintance.
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I'm a wife to an amazing man, and mom to four incredible kids. I'm a Christian woman who sometimes struggles with doubt. I'm a musician and a writer who is sometimes afraid to play and write. I'm trying to be more authentic every day.
 
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