Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Video, Floods & Depression . . .

I know it has been forever since I posted on my blog . . . in fact, if we depended on my blog to feed our family, we would have all starved long ago.  So many things have been happening . . . some good and some not so good.  I have been all over the place on the emotional yo-yo.   I have allowed circumstances steal my peace . . . I want to be so grounded in my Christian walk that I my peace is not affected by the happenings of my life.  But, I hate to admit, dear friends, I have a long way to go.  But this journey, hard though it has been, has shown me that peace has nothing to do with our circumstances.

My home has always been for me a haven . . .  a safe spot . . . a shelter in a time of trouble.  But what if the haven IS the trouble?  In January I was frustrated with a small flood we had in our kitchen . . . not overwhelmed, but frustrated none-the-less.  Our sink drain was leaking and it had left the bottom of the sink cupboard warped, as well as leaving the sub-floor several feet around that area warped . . . meaning the new floor we had just installed would have to be redone and new sub-floor installed.  Yes, this was frustrating, but not insurmountable.  I had made a commitment to be positive this year . . . to not be self-focused or negative.  The words of a friend who had told me months earlier, "you are the most negative person I have ever known" still echoed through my mind and I was trying to not allow that to be true.

I tried so hard to "choose not to be negative" . . . 
So I made a simple joke or two about it on Facebook and to a couple of friends and tried to play it down.  I surmised the damage and decided it was something I could fix myself and didn't really let this problem have any power or affect on my sense of peace or well being.  In the meantime, other issues of life continued . . . helping with aging parents, planning 80th birthday parties for two of them just three weeks apart, dealing with the financial burdens brought on from my hand injury with the table saw and the accompanying surgery and therapy and the dealing with the emotions that come with now adult children who sometimes don't make the decisions we would hope they would make.  I kept trying to take my thoughts captive, to be positive, to be a light in a world of darkness.  And then the scale was tipped even more . . . in late February, we had a very quick thaw that lead to flooding . . . not a minor "let me get a towel or two" flooding, but a rushing mud river of flooding straight into our basement . . . the same basement that had been totally destroyed by a flood three years prior.  The same basement we had spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours redoing.  Panic ensued.  I tried to stay calm, but it was too much . . . how can we have yet another flood?  Who has repeated floods of this magnitude?  But there wasn't time to panic . . . instead we had to turn to the task at hand . . . stopping the flood and saving what we could.  Hauling belongings, shoveling mud, pulling out padding from what had been new carpeting

I tried to stay upbeat.  I posted about it on Facebook.  Several were kind and compassionate.  Others made jokes about swimming pools in the basement or would say things like it could be worse and would then tell their stories.  While I know the jokesters were just trying to lighten the mood and the story tellers were trying to give me some perspective, when you are in the midst of a disaster and seeing all of your hard work and finances crumble to the ground, this is not what you want to hear.  I simply hit the "like" button and pretended it didn't bother me.  I was determined not to be the negative person I had been told I am.  We called a company that deals with flooding emergencies and had them come out and begin vacuuming up the mud waters, while we tried to stop it from continuing.  Within hours they were gone, leaving a hefty bill as their calling card.  I felt numb.  Too many times . . . in our previous house our kitchen had been destroyed by a flood along with the flooring in the adjacent living room, dining room, laundry room and entry area.  It had also destroyed the drywall in the den directly below the kitchen.  It had caused months of chaos and havoc and costed a small fortune.  The first flood we had when we moved to the farm had completely destroyed the entire basement,  and now we stood, having sucked out several inches of mud from the basement in the midst of yet another disaster.  I decided I couldn't deal with the comments on Facebook for a while, so I took a bit of a reprieve.  Ten days later, the weather did it again . . . we had had a major snow storm and then immediately after, it warmed up to the mid 40's and thawed incredibly fast again.  The mud waters started flowing in again.  I was livid . . . not sure who to be livid at, but I was.  I couldn't take the financial burden of it anymore, the destruction of all we had worked so hard to create, the pure physical exhaustion.  I drove in total anger to the hardware store for more sandbags.  While in line to purchase the sandbags, people would ask why I needed them.  Once again, they made light of the situation.   They made jokes.  This time I was just not up for it.  I turned warily to an older man making yet another joke about our "inside swimming pool" and hissed, 'there is nothing funny about it . . . it is destroying our lives."  Poor man.  It shut him up and I didn't even look to see his expression.  I was enjoying my moment of anger and I didn't want it spoiled by a moment of guilt caused by my misplaced anger.  I stormed angrily home, speeding heavily, daring any cop to stop this crazy angry woman.  I am so glad I wasn't pulled over . . . in that state of mind, who knows what I would have said or done!

Eventually the basement dried and now we are in the aftermath . . . the kids are still misplaced from their bedrooms . . . one sleeping in the living room and the other one upstairs by his brother.  We have dressers in our dining room and amplifiers in the entry way.  Our house looks chaotic and nothing is as it should be.  It is not a haven.  We can't do an insurance claim . . . it is considered a natural disaster and not covered by our insurance.  I have been doing sales and anything I can to sell my signs, antiques and whatever else.  But of course, as life would have it, our car brakes are going out and more medical bills have come in.  We need to purchase new padding and have the carpets re-laid and re-stretched and then cleaned of the mud water.   We still aren't sure if the doors are going to be able to be reused and how badly warped the molding will be once we try to put it back on.   The only way to stop the flooding is to install a very long French drain along the edge of the driveway . . . which will take hours and hours to dig a trench and will cost a pretty penny.   I want to be a joyful woman, I want to be a woman of peace and serenity.  I want to speak love, speak calm, be an encourager.  I never set out to be a negative person.  I have been doing my best not to be.  But what do you do when every time you try not to be negative, something negative happens?   And then, because I have been labeled negative, I no longer feel safe to share how I feel.  I feel judged and disliked.  The anger from the circumstances begin mixing themselves with the feelings of judgement and disapproval.   And then an odd thing happens . . . Satan takes notice.  He sees me in my despair, he sees my anger, my depression.  And he says "I can do better."  So I get on Facebook . . . I notice how unloved I seem to be in the antiquing community . . . others getting together . . . taking antiquing trips together, dinner parties I wasn't invited to . . . and the depression increases.  "They all hate you" Satan hisses.    The misfit years of my childhood come back to haunt me.  I was shy and awkward.  I never felt good enough.  Satan continues . . . "You weren't good enough then, you still aren't good enough now."  I am reminded of my differences.  They hate you because you are conservative.  For a moment I wish I wasn't . . . I wish I could just be one of them.  I know these thoughts are wrong.  And even as I have these thoughts, I recognize they come from the author of lies.  But I have come to realize that just because you know something is wrong or is a lie, doesn't mean it doesn't hurt.  I am a misfit.  I can try to pretend for all it is worth that I am not, but the fact is I am.  I believe the Bible and choose to live my life by it's precepts.  While I know this doesn't make me a hater, I know there are some that think I am.  I love Hobby Lobby and Duck Dynasty.   But I am not filled with hate towards those that see things differently.  Yet, I have felt the condemnation.  I have felt the unacceptance.

So tonight I am at a crossroads.  There is a big part of me that wants to wallow . . . to throw the biggest Pity Party Bash this side of the Mississippi.  To roll around in my anger and to justify my depression.  I spent much of today lamenting my life to my husband . . . telling him how no one I know has had the amount of flooding we have had, telling him how no one likes me and I don't know if I really have any "real friends".  I did such a great job with the pre-party, that the Pity Party could really be the event of the year.   Perhaps I could really wow the party goers with a flood of tears . . . or better yet a nervous breakdown.  Yes, it wouldn't take much . . . not really a stretch at this point, to reach the nervous breakdown point.  But there is just one problem with this scenario.  While a big part of me relishes the thought of the Pity Party . . . delights in the idea of the depression wallow . . . there is this still small voice . . . the voice that says, "Peace be still."  I don't understand this voice.  I don't see why all this keeps happening.  I question this voice.  I think this voice has me confused with someone far stronger and better equipped than I.  But I listen.  I know the voice is God's.  I don't like this chapter in my life.  I want my life of peace.  I want the life of order and simplicity.  Of quiet and calm.  I don't want what has been allowed.  But again I hear the voice . . . "Peace, be still."  How do I find peace in the chaos?  How do I find contentment in disaster?  Or acceptance where anger is prevailing?  I don't have the foggiest idea . . . other than this . . . "Peace be still, I am with you."

And therein lies the answer.  "Peace be still, I am with you."  When life's circumstances seem too great, when negativity threatens to eat me alive and anger bubbles from deep within, "Peace be still, I am with you."  It isn't about me . . . and I realize it never has been.  My circumstances, at this moment in time, quite frankly suck.  I don't like my life right now.  It "stinks on ice", to quote my son.  But it isn't about our circumstances.  It isn't even about whether we feel loved or accepted.  I don't.  In fact I am less secure in who I am as a human being right now than I ever have been.  But it isn't about that.  Who am I in God?  And more importantly, take me out of the picture . . . who is God?  What is life without God?  We live in a world where we celebrate ourselves . . . we are taught to build each other up and to believe in such things as self esteem and self value.  We are told we have rights and we can be anything we want to be.  We are woman, hear us roar.  But really?  Didn't God create us?  Doesn't the Bible teach us that we were created for HIS glory?  Doesn't anything that we are, any value we may have not only come from God but deserve to be ABOUT God?  The talents I have are not MY talents.  They come from God . . . I am created in His image and if there be any good in me, it is God.  Without God I am nothing.  I am not love, I am not kindness, I am not compassion.  Whatsoever is good, noble, of good repute, only comes from God.  This is more than I can wrap my brain around . . . so much bigger than my comprehension.  But I know it to be true.  So I know, regardless of where I am right now on my journey in life, I can have peace.  Because it isn't about me and it never has been.  I am a created being who's very existence is not only because of God but also FOR God.   This is why we can walk in victory regardless of circumstances.  This is why in James we are taught to "Count it all joy."  Because it is all about God.  Every breath we take, every move we make.  It is all about God and always has been.  While I do pray for relief from the present circumstances, I have come to realize that my joy should have nothing to do with my circumstances.  There is a song that begs the question, "If I lost it all, would my hands stay lifted . . . to the God who gives and takes away?"  And the answer has to be yes!!  Whatever my lot, though has taught me to say, "It is well, it is well with my soul."

So there you have it.  We can be wallowers or followers.  While wallowing is tempting and in our self serving society, very acceptable, it leads to destruction.  It feeds the sins of selfishness, arrogance and pride.  I am nothing but through Christ I have everything.  I am crucified in Christ therefore I no longer live.  Jesus Christ now lives through me.

I apologize if I have been a bit too heavy today . . . but I have been going through the fire and I am just now catching a glimpse of why . . . at the purification and cleansing the fire can bring . . . and the peace that comes by not only allowing, but fully accepting the "burn."

At the beginning of this post I also mentioned that there have also been good things happening lately in life.   And truly there has been . . . through all of these trials, I have not only come to the place of great peace with the Lord, but I have grown in my marriage to an incredible man who is a great spiritual leader to me and our boys.  I have come to see what matters and what doesn't (and believe me, most of it doesn't.)  My business is growing and I am praying that God will continue to show me the steps He does and does not want me to take with it.  Pride and self promotion are easy pitfalls in creative businesses and I so want to always be honoring to the Lord.  My sweet friends, Daniel and Abby, of Forgotten Way Farms, have started another avenue of business, called Forgotten Way Films.  I am honored that they chose to come to our farm, during last summer's "Pickin' on the Prairie" event and film a wonderful 69 second spot on the event.  I think they did a great job!  Take a peek here!  I do so hope each of you can join us at this year's "Pickin' on the Prairie, August 16th and 17th, here at Past Blessings Farm.  We have some amazing vendors and the show is filling up quickly.  From antiques, primitives, home decor, jewelry, art and more, there will be something for everyone . . . coupled with great food and music, it is an event you won't want to miss.  So mark your calendars.

God is good all the time . . . . regardless of my circumstances.  Praying you find joy in where you are right now and that the peace of God will fill your soul.