caught in between

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Meet my daughter Makayla. She is 11. Eleven and a half, to be precise. She has been slowly transitioning into the preteen years lately.

Even though growing up is a slow process, she sometimes wants us to believe she is already there.. I hear almost every day that she would be responsible with an iPod touch, she’s ready for her own phone, she thinks she should stay up later, she wants unlimited time on the computer, she needs new clothes.

She’s blooming with ideas of how to be independent, and ways to think for herself.

For Christmas, I didn’t want to insult the budding teenager within her by giving her toys. So I got her a more grown up gift – some cowboy boots just like her big sister was getting. I thought sure she would be pleased that I recognized her “adult-ness”.

But I was wrong. There was no delight or joy in her eyes when she opened her gift. There was no sparkle. It wasn’t a fun gift. It just was. After all, how long can you admire boots before you get bored?

Her preteen mind starting scrambling back to the nether world of childhood.

And then I witnessed a war in her being. A war between wanting to take on the heaviness of adulthood and wanting to remain free and childlike. All that day and into the next she debated about returning her gift. She lamented that she liked the boots, but she wanted something to play with instead of just wear.

I felt like I had stolen time from her. Deep down, my heart yearned for her to trade in those boring boots and be a kid for one more year.

Finally, I told her that I could tell she didn’t love the boots, and I wanted her to love her gift. I wanted her to be delighted and find joy. So she made the decision to return the boots.

And she picked out five beautiful toy horses from Tractor Supply.

Oh the bliss.

She spent the rest of the afternoon beaming while building a corral out of popsicle sticks, naming her horses, making a stable out of a cardboard box, exclaiming “I am so crafty!” and “She just looks like a Penelope, doesn’t she?” and “I want to marry a farmer some day!”

Living out her dream of owning horses right there at the kitchen table.

Exuding joy.

Being so child-like.

I saw her free from the burden of encroaching adolescence for the time being.

And my heart was so happy that for just a little while longer, my little girl is content to be just that – little.

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a new song

I am not quite sure how to approach my first blog post. It is sort of an awkward thing, really, to jump out of the woodwork and hope to catch your attention with something worth reading. I have had numerous ideas and words floating around in my head for quite some time, trying to assemble themselves in just the right order so that they may be the first to be written down here. But nothing seems worthy.

Not to mention the fact that I chronically struggle with insecurity. And putting myself “out there” is a scary thing for me. If not for the encouragement of a dear friend (thank you, Lisa) I may never have dared attempt this at all.

So here I am. Sitting at my computer, watching snowflakes fall outside, listening to some Christmas music on Pandora (yes, Christmas music at the end of January), and trying to start this new chapter in my life.

And it does feel like a new chapter.

I will confess to you that I have been in the throes of depression and anxiety on and off for the past few years. For a long while, I felt like I was treading water in an icy lake of despair. I had fallen through the ice and there was simply nothing to grab onto. This was okay on some days. Because some days the sun would shine on my face and I’d be strong enough to tread water. But other days I would go under. I would swallow the bitterly cold water. I would despair that I’d never have the strength to surface again. I always did surface, of course. And for a few days, when I was strong enough to tread, I had a faint hope that I would some day escape my icy grave. That perhaps someone was coming to rescue me after all.

But no one ever came.

I reached the end of my strength. I finally just sank. I stopped fighting. I was just so tired. And I let the depression have it’s way.

At one of my lowest points, just 6 weeks ago, I met with one of my pastors because I was in utter despair. I felt like there was something evil living in me, trying to take over my mind. As I sat in the van with my husband waiting for our meeting, I reflected on how empty I felt. How numb I felt. I just wanted to be done.

I looked up at the dash of the van, and there sat a card my son had handcrafted to his grandparents that we had never delivered. It was lying face down, and the words staring up at me read, “God will help you.”

I don’t now how else to describe the feeling I had but to say that those words thudded into my heart. I knew they were from God. Even though at that moment he felt so far away and so foreign to me. Through those words, God gave me a glimmer of hope that he was walking me out of this.

After a lot of prayer, he put a peace in my heart that it was time to see my doctor. Time to get help.

Surprise of all surprises, the one thing I never wanted to do was the very answer God was giving me. I put the idea of taking medicine out of my mind numerous times. Surely I could control this myself. Surely more vitamins would make me healthier and therefore whole. Surely if I just avoided coffee and sugar I could keep my jitters at bay. Surely I needed to just learn to think differently. Surely if I would only pray and read the Bible more I’d be healed.

Mind you, none of those things are wrong in and of themselves. Its great to eat healthy, take vitamins, pray, read the Bible and think right. I recommend them all, in fact.

But you know, God said to me through numerous godly women in my life, “Beloved, there is something wrong with your body right now, and I have given doctors the smarts to make a medicine that will help you. Use it!” Without the reassurance of those wonderful women (you all know who you are, and I thank you form the bottom of my heart) I don’t think I would have ever rid myself of the guilt and fear that plagued me when I considered medication.

Six weeks later after my seeing my doctor, I am beginning to feel normal again. Beginning to feel happy again. I can feel joy again. The emptiness is gone. My kids have their mother back, and my husband has his wife back.

Even though I feel better, the medication isn’t my answer. God is my answer. I needed to stop trying on my own and follow his leading. No matter where that leading was taking me. He does, after all, know me better than I even know myself.

I pray that I never forget how God reached out to me and brought me hope.

“I waited patiently for the Lord;
He turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy it,
out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.”
Psalm 40:1-3