Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A new journey, a deeper life

I bought her first book before she was a guest on the morning show.  It sat in the store under the sign new authors.  It was shortly after I woke up that morning to a grey world beginning my search for joy.  A friend had recommend it to me.  She said it was about this woman's search for joy and maybe I would enjoy the read.  I bought it.  She was right.  It is because of One Thousand Gifts that I started counting.  On those dark days when I couldn't feel joy I saw it and recorded it for a good read later on when I could feel it, for a hope I could hold onto for that moment.

About six months ago my personal demon caught me off guard sending me into a short lived but an intense mania.  Since then I've been fighting for joy and hoping for balance to return.  Shortly there after she wrote another book, The Broken Way.  I tried to buy but it was sold out.  Once I finally got my hands on a copy I sat snuggle under my quilt ready to read.  I couldn't make it through the first page.  She has a way of painting with her words cutting straight to the soul.  I had to write so I could remember (Read it here).  Turns out that's the challenge of her book remember your brokenness.  Something I'm already doing as I have been revisited first by Mania and more recently by Depression.

Here's to a new journey, a challenge, a deeper life.

That time I sat in the dark on the edge of the tub

I remember that day with the kind of clarity that you have when someone close to you dies or two airplanes are flown into the twin towers.  My husband was fishing as I sat on the edge of the tub begging God to protect me from myself.  The numbness was too much.  I just wanted to feel anything even if that was pain.  Actually pain was what I wanted.  If I just made one cut then I could feel pain for at least a few days.  If it scarred I could see it always never forgetting the feeling of pain it brought.  Then the numbness would have to go.  I sat in that dark bathroom while my boys slept trapped in the house begging God to protect me.

Never before had I felt like this.  Never before these "miracle" pills were prescribed.  My razor was so close and I longed to see the red flowing down my arms.  I only wanted to a few cuts nothing life threatening.  I begged some more as tears of hopelessness rolled down my cheeks burning hot reminding me I was broken.

I finally settled on a hair band, hopefully snapping it hard enough would bring the pain I longed for or at least distract me long enough for my doctor to call me back.  The band broke flying across the room.  Again I reached for a band, no two bands this time.  The phone rang.  The pills were flushed as the drug was added to my critical list never to be prescribed again.

A day or two passed my husband loved me and never have I wanted such pain again, but I remember the fear, the hopelessness, and the numbness.  I said thank you.  God heard me.  No scars, no being committed into the psych ward, just strong arms to hold me tight while I waited for the pain of depression to return, a pain I preferred to the numbness of those pills.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016


Sometimes I tell stories of shepherds and angels while we drink hot chocolate.
Sometimes we get messy, making snowmen out of old Mason jars while listening to Bing Crosby sing about white Christmases.
Sometimes our hearts are merry and warm, bursting with joy.

And sometimes short stories take thirty minutes because little boys need drinks, are annoying there brother, and can't stop making strange noises.
And sometimes we get messy and complain the entire time even though we know a little soap and water will take care of the stick on our fingers.
And sometimes we never get around to making that hot chocolate because Mom's feeling a little frazzled.
And sometimes little boys are so shocked that Mom is yelling that they jump right out of there chairs, because Mom rarely yells.

In the end sometimes all you can do is search for the joy in the midst of all the chaos, breathe deep, and keep it real.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Our vows

This year marks our tenth year of marriage.  That day you were dressed in black and me in white as you held my hands fumbling for my ring you spoke our promise to each other with such confidence.  As I am sitting here now reading our vows and flipping through photos I am impressed by how well you live out these words.  I am humbled and honored by it. Thank you.

My vows all those years ago to you, my dear Strong Man:

Do you, Shandy, take Charlie, to be your husband?

To give your hand, your heart, and your promise that your love will always be a safe haven for him.

To give in the presence of God and these witnesses your sacred promise to be his in times of plenty and in times of want, in times of sickness and in times of health, in times of joy and in times of sorrow, in times of failure and in times of triumph.

Do you promise to love without reservation, to respect him, to care for him and to protect him, to comfort him in times of distress, to encourage him, to laugh with him, and to cry with him, to grow with him in mind and spirit, and to cherish him for all eternity?

We tied the unity braid, a symbol that our marriage was three part.  First centered on Jesus, our foundation weaving ourselves in making the braid strong, complete, a new thing.

With this ring I pledge my faith and trust.  Receive it as a symbol of our endless union and our unbroken love. 

I love you more now then I did that day.  While I meant every word of it ten years ago I am more confident in our promise to each other today.  We have walked the easy and we have walked the hard and we have conquered them both.  You are my best friend.  I look forward to the next ten years with you.  Then to the ten after that and again the ten after that.  I dream about when we celebrate our 50th together.  You'll be completely bald and my hair will have only known the color grey for the thirty years before and our hearts will beat as one, and these promises will still be as steadfast as they were in 2006.

I love you.  Thank you for asking.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Our tree

10 years since we put up our first tree together.  Ten years of memories hang from the one we have now.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday by far.  I love working in the kitchen and having the house smell delicious, like Gram's kitchen.  I love having family visit and cooking with them.  I love slowing down and counting all the joys in life.  However, Christmas is a close second.  The primary reason is because each ornament on the tree has a story.

On our fifth Christmas and our fifth year of marriage there was a snow storm in October that dumped three feet of snow.  We where home with two little boys for a few days going stir crazy.  So we took some flour, water, and a few other ingredients boiled them together and made our own Christmas ornaments to pass the time.  We have some wild looking ones that hang on the tree as the boys were only two and three.

This bell and a few others sat on the tables at our reception.  Every time it rang we kissed.  Now it hangs on our tree.

This one holds our engagement photo.

This one marks our first Christmas.

This was Man of the woods favorite pacifier.

Laughter was only 9 days old when he experienced his first Christmas.

This year we have the biggest tree we've ever had.  It is my favorite tree, marking another year of marriage, parenthood and sweet memories.

Sunday, December 4, 2016


Dearest Laughter,

It's Saturday morning and you're intently watching cartoons while I quietly watch you.  In just a few days it'll be seven years since you breathed your first breath.  I'm still awed by you just like I was that night I first held your purple little body.  I counted your toes and fingers while I impatiently waited to hear your first cries.  I held my breath like you only to breathe deep as you cried for the first time.

On a date, just the two of us.

That's kind of been our story you causing me to hold my breath, to pray hard, to trust more, to love with an open hand.

You started walking at 9 months.  You broke into the cleaning supplies shortly there after to enjoy a mouthful of Comet.  You were mad at me for taking it away.  You opened the piping to the water heaters releasing a few gallons of water into the dining room.  You were the first to have x-rays confirming a broken collar bone.  More then once you dived face first into a pool just out of arms reach even though I hadn't taken my eyes off of you.  As you watched a friends fish you stuck your face into the fish bowl drinking some water.  The moment was complete when you came up dripping wet with a "Yummy!".  At two you walked right out into a river so you could fish while the rest of us set up our poles.  You fell out of every single chair you sat in until you were at least five.  You love old bottles and tiny mugs, and your ukulele. You want to travel all over Asia telling people about Jesus when you grow up. You give up your most prized possessions if you think it'll make somebody else's day.

Looking at Mr. Fish.

You live life to its fullest.
You dream big.
You love unconditionally.

This next year you'll end second grade as a seven year old and you'll do it well as school is easy for you.  Most days you do more then I ask just because it's fun.  I'm sure your dreams will only grow bigger and you'll give more gifts and "super missile kisses" then the year before.  You'll continue to keep me on my toes loving deep and living wild.

This year I pray that you continue on without any broken bones.  That you keep giving all that you have, but maybe learn not to give away what isn't yours.  That you continue to see past peoples flaws to there hearts.  That you use those "missile kisses" and gift giving tendencies to comfort others.  I pray that you keep dreaming big and that your favorite book is always your Bible.  I love that you are your own person and I pray you keep blazing your own trail.

Playing the Uke with Great grandpa Emerson.

I'm proud to be your Momma. Here's an interview with your seven year old self.

What is your favorite color?  Red
What is something special to you?  Mom

What is your favorite word or saying?  Magic missile kisses.
What is your favorite thing to do?  Sword fighting, even though I haven't done that recently.

Who is your favorite superhero?  Thor
What is your favorite book? My Bible

What is your favorite memory from this past year?  Beating Val at Monopoly. 
What do you want to be when you grow up?  I will be a missionary to share God's word.

I love you sweet boy.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Nothing is free in life, not even sanity.

I'm at week seven of a med change. Every medication comes with side effects. .

Lexapro and anything in the SSRI family makes me sick to my stomach.  The kind where you lose all kinds of weight.  I become incredibly irritable going from normal to instant anger in half a second.  I can't stand to be touched, not even brushed up beside in a crowd.  It does nothing to slow my depression.  Useless, not worth my time.

Wellbutrin. Also known as the magic pill for many.  It has helped countless people lose weight, quit smoking, smile, and live a normal life.  For me it makes me want to hurt myself.  The only time I ever felt that way.  It's on my critical list of never again.

Remeron.  For me it was a fat pill.  Seriously I gained over thirty pounds in less then two months on this drug.  I went from size four pants to size fourteen.  My skin hurt from stretching so quickly.  I was counting calories nonstop, living on the minimum just to survive.  I went to the gym.  I gained more weight.  I became more depressed.

Abilify.  Worst. Manic. Ever.  And even though it was a medically induced mania I've now experienced it which means that anytime my brain resets to manic it could bring me that high up again.  Also on my critical list of never again medications.

Lamictal.  My saving grace.  Six years on this little pill.  When I first started taking it the doctor watched me closely as it could cause Steven-Johnson syndrome, a rash that kills a person.  Once I made it into the safe zone I was golden.  Then about three years ago I began having pelvic pain.  It got to the point where this past October I was scheduled to have laparoscopic surgery because nothing seemed to help and it caused a lot of pain.  I just happened one day to see the side effects of this medication and low and behold on very rare occasions women who have been using Lamictal for lengthy periods can develop chronic pelvic pain.  Awesome. Seven weeks ago the doctor began weaning me off of it, all the while trying to keep my brain balanced by adding in something new.

Latuda.  My new medication.  The one where I've developed a twitch in my left eye.  Maybe it's just a random, coincidental thing, I have been tired lately.  But eye twitching is listed on the side effects right under the bold print that says stop use immediately.  So far that's the only possible side effect I have so I'll let the doctor decide what I should do.  Maybe it's worth it to have a twitchy eye even if it could become irreversible.

I hate pills.  I used to gag them down.  Now I take 6 pills a day.  I've learned that nothing is free in life, including my sanity.  Everything I do has consequences.  For the most part these pills help me function.  I smile real heartfelt smiles because of them.  And maybe I'll find I should go back to my saving grace pill and live with chronic pain.  It might be worth the smile.  Or maybe I'll stick with the wacky eye twitching.  If it means enjoying my family and living a normal life then these crazy side effects are worth it.