CABIN FEVER

By Lisa Huddleston

12540912_10208337832550140_5286633030389461415_nHey peeps. It’s 11:30 p.m., and I’m sitting in front of a blazing fire with my dog, Dottie Pigbody, while watching a 24-hour binge of House. I admit it–I’m not feeling fabulous. The snow is beautiful, but it’s very disruptive. This week I missed a day of volunteering at the Adult Learning Center, an evening gathering of my church home group, an appointment with my counselor, and tomorrow morning I will sorely miss worship at my church.

Frankly I feel myself slipping a little. I know that things will turn around soon–snow doesn’t last long in the south–but it makes me a little scared. Who knows what triggers depressive episodes? Not I.

So let’s just call it “cabin fever” and hang tight. I know things will be better soon, and until then I will strive to do the things I’ve learned. I will exercise. I will create. I will read and write. And as soon as possible, I will spend some time with friends.

And like the snow, this too shall pass.

JUST PRESS ‘RESTART’

By Lisa Huddleston

I love beginnings! New class? Sign me up. New craft? Can’t wait to learn it. Anything involved with something new, and I’m your girl. So naturally–I love new years!

As I wrote in my last post, I made it through the holidays with no visible scars, and I actually managed to enjoy a lot of the events I was part of. Some of this surprising peace came about because I made quite a few changes this holiday season. And that is also the case with this New Year’s activities. Chuck and I rang in 2016 alone. We had some yummy snacks, some champagne, and a sweet midnight kiss, and it was great. No party, no guests, no fuss. (Although I think I would have been equally happy to have shared our time.)

And most unusual for me, I hadn’t really thought about any goals or resolutions for 2016 until I was in a yoga class on Saturday morning–that shows you how relaxed I’ve become. But in my class, the teacher asked us to hold our open hands in front of our hearts and to picture an idea or a word regarding the New Year resting there. In just seconds, I saw the concept of balance, an idea I have valued for a long time. I smiled to myself: balance and yoga do seem to go together. And so that was it–balance it is, and hopefully, balance it will be. Body, mind, soul, and spirit. I pray that I can find ways to make this vision a truth in my life.

starting-overWouldn’t it be cool if I could just press “restart” like we do with computers, and suddenly my life would operate exactly as I hope it would? “Restart” is a great concept. Even God has taken advantage of it! My designated reading for Saturday told me so. Genesis tells us that God’s new world “had become corrupt in God’s sight, and it was filled with violence. God observed all this corruption in the world, and he saw violence and depravity everywhere. So God said to Noah, ‘I have decided to destroy all living creatures, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. Yes, I will wipe them all from the face of the earth!'” (Gen. 6:11-13). God was ready to press “restart!”

It encouraged me to read this familiar story in a new way. It was refreshing to think that even God sometimes started the same work over in another way. I am not alone in this desire, and I can even hope to presume that God has set an example for me in starting over.

So that’s where I am right now. I’ve hit the “restart” button, and I am doing what I already know–and have known–to do when my operating system is working properly. Tomorrow I return to my work at the Adult Learning Center. I truly hope to continue my return to reading God’s word and to my practice of yoga and other physical exercise, and here I am right now returning to the reflective, spiritual practice of writing my thoughts in this blog.

Beginnings are very good, but sometimes restarts can be just as good. Happy New Year!

ALL IS CALM, ALL IS BRIGHT

By Lisa Huddleston

12375960_10208124649220690_5675405771665034409_nChristmas Day was special for me this year. In fact, the whole holiday season has been. Truly, nothing extraordinary happened–unless you want to count that in spite of hosting Thanksgiving for 28, having our younger son’s wedding and Christmas less than a week apart, and having lots of company in our home, I have kept a calm spirit and a happy heart throughout. Oh, how extraordinary that is!

I’m a little hesitant to write about depression again when we are only one day from Christmas, but as my past experiences have taught, many of you are likely to be coming undone just about now. You may regret arguments you had with family or feel as though your dreams of a perfect holiday were not realized or just be completely exhausted by smiling through the stress. And because I remember many years just like that, I want to encourage you to keep seeking the help you need. There is another way to live–you don’t have to keep beating yourself up!

1617126_10208140611339733_6942468301860626981_oThis year, I let a lot of “musts” go. I did not decorate Christmas cookies. I did not buy many presents. I did not set out all the Santas and past photos with said Jolly Elf. I didn’t even cook Christmas dinner.

I did fill stockings with lots of hand-picked little items. I did take a yummy ham to brunch at my in-law’s. I did enjoy conversations with nieces and nephews and my children and their spouses and brothers and sisters and all varieties of extended and ever-growing family. And I didn’t have to be perfect. And that is shocking.

10298043_10208141109232180_4662432374080879601_oOf course, I wonder which reality is really real–this peace I feel or the past stress and anxiety? But then I have to ask if that even matters? I definitely prefer peace–even though I still struggle some with the fact that it probably has to be attributed to my medications and the mental health help I have received. Why does that bother me? Because I am a prideful old thang. But I am learning that help is good, that reality is what I am present for, and that peace really is possible.

And that is my message for you today. What you believe is the most important thing. You are not alone. It’s okay to need help and even to ask for it. And you do not have to be perfect–in fact, that’s the most unrealistic expectation you could ever have.

So I sit here a thankful, hopefully more realistic woman. I am thankful for the blessings of the past few weeks, months, and year. I am grateful for the help I have received, I am thankful for the hope I have, and my friends, family and Savior, and I’d love to pass it all on to you. Just don’t give up!

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me … 

LEFTOVER NIGHT

By Lisa Huddleston

 

Doggy BagI love mid-week dinners, because we usually have some leftovers in the refrigerator, and I do not have to cook. It’s great! And such is the case tonight. When Chuck gets home from another long day of work, he will have his choice—as long as his choice is either chili or lasagna. Yes, I’m a big fan of leftovers!

 

And leftovers is exactly what struck me in this past Sunday’s sermon from Ruth 2. This is the chapter in which Ruth goes out to glean in Boaz’s field, and he serves her dinner. The air is thick with tension and mounting romance—as well as a special doggy bag to take home.

 

At mealtime Boaz told her, “Come over here and have some bread and dip it in the vinegar sauce.” So she sat beside the harvesters, and he offered her roasted grain. She ate and was satisfied and had some left overs. (v. 14)

 

I don’t know about you, but we Huddlestons always get a doggy bag when we have leftovers at a restaurant. Unfortunately, I usually accidentally leave it on the table or in my car and rarely get to enjoy them. But Ruth managed to make it home with her leftovers, and “she brought out what she had left over from her meal and gave it to [Naomi.]” (v. 18)

 

And all that thinking about leftovers reminded me of the many, many ways I have been blessed with more than I need. We have a house that used to shelter a family of five and now there could be only two of us to rattle around in it. Chuck has managed to work hard and consistently for many years to provide us with many material goods—lots of which has made its way to the basement over the years. And on and on. We are most certainly well-blessed.

 

And, I suppose, it would be okay for us to just sit on what we have—after all, God has given these things to us—but it definitely would not be the best way to live. I mean, we’ve all seen episodes of “Hoarders” on TV. It can get pretty gross if we keep everything we get.

 

No, I think Ruth really sets us a good example by what she does with her leftovers. She takes them and gives them to someone who has not. In this case, it’s her sure-to-be-hungry mother-in-law. And isn’t that what we all should do with our abundance?

 

Have a too-big house? Open it up to someone who needs a place to live. Have unused furniture in your basement? Give it to a young family who’s just starting out. Get a bonus for Christmas? Look around and see with whom God wants you to share it. Ruth knew those leftovers were not for her, and we can know the same thing if we’ll take the time to ask God where He wants it to go.

 

Yes, I love leftovers … I think I’ll choose lasagna tonight. No, maybe the chili. No, definitely lasagna. Or maybe I just have some of both.

 

Either way, I’m thankful for God’s provision—for and through ALL OF US!

FRIENDS WITH EARS TO HEAR

By Lisa Huddleston

ears-to-hear-11As I approached the door to the sanctuary this Sunday morning, I saw two of my friends smiling and chatting away. One was a long-time pal and the other a fairly new acquaintance, but as soon as their eyes hit mine I could tell that my new friend wanted to talk to me–and I knew what about.

You see, the last time Chuck and I attended our home group, I spontaneously announced to everyone there that I had serious depression and had even struggled with the idea of hurting myself at times. What the heck??!

Well, the group was very sweet, and I could see their concern, but their reactions were awkward for me because I felt a little misunderstood–my fault of course. The leader suggested by asking a question that my depression could be a spiritual difficulty. Since I know that prayer helps in any situation and that was kind of what I was requesting (although I meant prayer in their own homes as they thought of it), I agreed to have the group pray for me right then. Before I knew it, I was surrounded by genuinely, loving believers placing their hands on my back and shoulders and voicing requests for my peace. It truly was well-intentioned and kind (and possibly/probably even very effective), but I am at best a socially-awkward introvert and felt a little freaked out by this reaction and the amount of attention I endured. (To anyone from this group–I LOVE YOU DEARLY! Please, no offense.)

Therefore I knew what was on my friend’s mind; however, I was pleasantly surprised when she began an inquiry of depth and openness that I truly appreciated. I want to write this post to say thank you to her for taking the time to ask some uncomfortable questions in order to understand what I and other depressives are going through.

First, she asked me if depression is a spiritual problem. I answered as honestly as I could that depression is a term used to describe many emotional and physical situations–and that while I believed it could sometimes have spiritual causes–I did not however believe that to be my current situation. My healthcare providers, my personal and family histories, and my symptoms all point toward my experiencing major clinical depression. I did share with her that depression definitely dampens my ability to worship, to pray, and to hold on to faith (thus affecting me spiritually), but that I have been reminded in many ways that it is not my faith that saves me but God’s. My prayer is that when I cannot hold on to Him that He will faithfully hang on to me. And so far, He has. My experience is that my depression is not caused by a “spiritual issue or battle” any more than any other disease is (or is not.)

My friend also asked if depression was the same as feeling sad. Again what a thoughtful question! And my answer is no. When I am sad there is a reason for me to feel that way. I’m too fat for my favorite jeans. One of my cats is missing. Or maybe I have learned of a dear friend’s passing. But depression is much more generalized than sadness. When battling depression, I feel exhausted and disinterested in most things. Sleep is my best friend, and very little can be done to make me less irritable or discouraged about my perception of the hopeless condition of myself or any other life on this planet. My brain feels like either mush or a bouncing pin ball, and I frequently wish I could either simply shut down or completely disappear. Depression is very different from the emotion we call sad.

This thoughtful friend asked me a few more questions–all equally good–offered her help, promised her prayers, and then it was time for us to take our seats. I just want to say thank you to her for taking the time to ask me how I really felt and to listen to my responses. I intend to follow her great example in the future when I have a friend facing a difficulty I know very little about.

Oh, Father, give me ears to hear.

 

WEAVING A LIFE

By Lisa Huddleston

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Over and under

And pulling it through

Weaving the wool

To make fabric new

 

Red wool and blue wool

And purple and gray

The over and under

Help me through the day

 

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Like yoga sometimes

It’s more undo than do

So over and under

I’m pulling me through

 

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Teasing out knots that

Ravel my brain

Picking apart to

Lessen the strain

 

Over and under

And pulling back though

Undoing the old knots

But still making new