Tuesday, September 23, 2014

An Audience of One

Picture Credit: topwalls.net

I can't remember exactly the first chain letter I received, but I do remember that I diligently made my multiple copies of it and sent it out to the required number of people. It had some rather harsh wording in it to warn you what would happen if you broke the chain. Does anyone else remember those old chain letters? The ones that promised for writing them out you would receive some sort of blessing or good luck or some other hokey thing? This was in the age well before computers and email, in the 70's and 80's, but now chain letters have morphed to emails that we should forward and also various Facebook posts where you'll be tagged and asked to continue . I've been pretty good about avoiding most of them, but then one came around about Thankfulness. I was tagged by someone today and there was something about this one that I didn't let it pass by. I think the Lord wanted to do something in my heart, for it ended up being quite a blessing to write it.  

Here is what I shared on Facebook:
Thank you Patty March for inviting me to share what I'm thankful for. Since I'm not much for chain letters and such, I'm changing it around to just posting one Thankful post and sharing what comes to my mind. Anyone who wishes to share something they are thankful for is welcome to comment below!
**I am so thankful for finding Jesus. After stumbling around in the darkness for years especially after my mom died, He reached out and never let go even through the darkness of an 18-month severe postpartum depression. This song speaks it so well for me.  This Journey is My Own (Sara Groves)

**Thankful for the blessing of family. For my mother, and what comes to mind is how she taught me to live with an open heart and willingness to love; my father, who taught me how to work with passion, discipline, and with the determination to never give up; for my sisters who taught me what it was to share life together, to laugh and cry together, to forgive and care for one another.

**And finally, so thankful for my two-becoming-one marriage which has been the best challenge the Lord has presented me yet; learning how to put to death the "kingdom of self" and live for the kingdom of God through a loving, for-giving, and grace-filled relationship with Christ at the center, and which also brought forth the greatest blessing of lives, our sweet son Julian. And it is his little sweet soul which is teaching me the joy of being a mother; the day-by-day moments of ordinary-ness turned extraordinary in seeing life through his eyes, and cultivating the soil of his heart that he blossom into the young man God has created him to be.

I hope you have been blessed in reading this, and although you certainly don't have to worry about leaving a comment, you might just find yourself blessed if you do ;)

Thank you for visiting!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Speaking From the Heart ... Suicide is the S Word

I am sure a lot will be said in the public realm about the passing of Robin Williams.  Some will be compassionate, and some not. I speak as one who knows that dark hour, who has personally walked thorugh that "dark night of the soul" and yet somehow for me the "glass did break" and I was restored and returned and am here today to speak out.

It was after the death of my mother who succumbed to breast cancer that I went on a spiritual pilgrimage of sorts, and the Lord found me and captured my heart. I truly do not know if I would still be here had I not found Jesus. I know that having faith is no assurance you will make it through the depths of despair. Yet I will never forget the night that I was so despondent that my husband had to hide all the pills and knives in our home. I crawled out of bed that night and crept downstairs. I opened the phone book and found the Suicide Prevention hotline (LINK HERE) As I was talking to the agent, there was an odd click and I thought I was disconnected. Instead, I found myself talking to the head nurse at Meriter Hospital Psych Ward, the ward I had just been discharged from several weeks prior. She was confused and asked who I was and why I was calling. I explained I had been calling Suicide Prevention but was somehow disconnected and patched through to them. She actually remembered me which as you read below may not be surprising. I was the "psychotic depressed postpartum woman" who ended up in her Psych Ward for two inpatient stays over a period of three weeks just after my son was born. She said to me "TRACEY, YOU DO NOT WANT TO COME BACK HERE! You will be OK. You will make it through it. Just go back to sleep and get some rest, you are going to get better."  It was true, I did NOT want to go back there. Being hospitalized in the psych ward was a scary thing in a scary place. It was not comforting to be there. So I hung up the phone, woke up my husband, and you know what he did? He opened his Bible and all I remember from my haze of non-sleep that night is that he read, and read, and read those words over me nonstop for hours until the morning and the painful desire to END IT ALL finally left.  That was truly my darkest night.  I still had over 9 months to go before the depression fully lifted. But I was shaken to the core by how God's hand reached out through that darkness (and literally through the phone lines), how not only was He holding me moment by moment through it--even when it didn't feel like He was there--but He lifted me out of it by His grace.

For those who have not personally endured mental illness, I am so thankful. So thankful that you have not had to endure the personal and crippling pain, and the pain of the stigma that you carry for the inward challenges that are upon you and at times consume your life. Yet for any who wonder how someone could ever think of doing something "so selfish", I want to share a video, a video that is painful to watch, as you hear the parents of a soldier sharing his final note. In sharing this video, I hope we are shaken to the core to reach out to those around us in our own corner of the world, to speak Hope, Love, and Truth to these people walking through their darkest nights; this man's story is tragic and so hard to bear. Yet in watching it, we are honoring his life, honoring his pain, and allowing the Lord to open our eyes to the numbing pain so many people in this world are walking through. Like the verse from 1Corinthians 2:11a "For who knows a person's thoughts except their own spirit within them? ....  Here is the video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BiNq677QQQ

In my life, I now see that Jesus truly is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and it is only when we cling to Him, truly cling to Him with all we've got, that we can ever hope to find the true peace that passes all understanding (Phillipians 4:7)

Below I will share what I posted on Facebook, in the hopes that by not being silent, others can come to know the Lord's healing, that the way we approach mental illness will be transformed, and those suffering will be restored to a sense of purpose and hope.
From my Facebook status: In light of the tragic news we heard today of Robin Williams' passing, I wrote a comment on my sister's Facebook post that gave me courage to speak out and share some of my own story.
There was an incredible article recently in USA today that powerfully delves into this epidemic (link below). Having been there myself, this resonates in a way I can't easily put into words. The figure I'm reading is that 1 in 4 adults are currently struggling with mental illness and 1 in 5 children. That is staggering. Having been a patient more than once in "the system" myself, I can attest to how broken it is -- one example was the Director of Inpatient Psychiatry somehow thought it would make me feel better during my postpartum hospitalization to know "they were poring over all the latest medical articles and research" so they could best treat me as they had little experience dealing with postpartum psychosis. Really???? What a wake up call. This was in 2008.
As my illness dragged on for 18 months and I fell into utter despair, I truly began to feel that my husband, my family would be better off without me. It was not until I felt this complete and utter despair that I could truly understand how it felt to want to end your life. And now I will never forget it.
In one part of the article linked below they quote Rick Warren, the well known author/pastor who lost his son to his depression. They said "Warren compares the stigma of mental illness to that of AIDS and HIV. In both cases, people are blamed for bringing suffering upon themselves."
What is on my heart more than anything else, is that we need a system that brings hope, dignity, and restoration to those who are suffering. It is my prayer that this tragedy would resonate in every community and household that what "we" are doing as a society to bring restoration and hope for those affected, is in dire need of overhaul.

Thank you so much for reading! This is a subject that is dear to my heart. I have such a clear memory of the many things I endured as I walked through the depression, and now have a true understanding of my husband who has lived with cyclical depression all of his adult life. Somehow I think in all this there is a book in me, and I hope to write it. Maybe this will be the first chapter. But my heart is so thankful for the love and support of those who ministered to us through our journey. I have a new understanding of the true power of prayer. We will never know on this side of heaven how the Lord hears and answers prayers, but me being here today is truly an answer to prayer. May the Lord Bless all who see this page. Amen.

I want to leave you with a song that has blessed my heart. A song of hope that has for me a feel of an anthem. May you be blessed. Oceans by Hillsong United

Sunday, May 11, 2014

When Your Heart Aches for Your Mom on Mother's Day

I am feeling the ache of the loss of my mom acutely this year. In part because yesterday was the day we planned to go visit her grave, and my husband's mom's grave, which is a tradition we honor every year at this time, but after spending yesterday morning at urgent care, my "mother's day" present was Strep Throat. I feel awful physically, but also ache in a deep place inside my heart. It's been nearly 23 years since my beautiful mother, Mary Ellen, passed out of my life. But her warmth and the intensity of her love will never leave me, and she is still holding me tight.

The paragraph above and below were written on my Facebook page. I was overwhelmed with the blessing I received in return for sharing my heart about something difficult. It was truly balm for my soul.

Here are some of the sweet sentiments:

(From my sister:) The hole in our hearts is always there, you just cant replicate the love from your mom...especially ours! It never gets easier. I just have to tell you, btw, I am so impressed by what an incredible mother you are! Mom is beaming w/pride!

How great your joy at your reunion in the Kingdom of Heaven...

Dear dear Tracey...i met you so long go on this life's journey and remember so well your pain....I am thankful I could be there for you that summer in Springfield, MA of 1994....you are who you are because of your precious mother...she lives on in your heart and your children..

May Mary Ellen rest in the peace of Christ, dear sister.

My heart goes out today especially to those who find this day heartwrenching too, for whatever the reason. This article from Lisa-Jo Baker "Mother's Day for the Motherless Mother"  was a little gift of blessing for me last evening. I just sat and let the tears and longing flow, for all the milestones missed, and bittersweet memories, and the Lord met me there.

Finally, something fun to share. I have a self-portrait I made while I was the parent-helper at my son's homeschool co-op last month. All the kids were using mirrors to draw themselves and I got to join in. The picture does make me laugh a little, to see how it turned out, but it also is the face of me as a mother. I really like it because I drew it with just the pure bliss of wanting to create it, as so many times I get nervous what others think of my art. We hung this up in our entry way, and in many ways it reminds me of my mom too.

♥♥♥ I Love You Mom! ♥♥♥
Happy Mother's Day

As always, 
Thank you for Visiting!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

When a Blogging Hiatus Happens

Picture of our family with friend Hans at Perrot State Park 
(LaCrosse WI)

So I never intended to take a hiatus from my blog ... it just sort of "happened". Now it's hard to believe it's been almost a YEAR since I've posted anything!! Since I created a Facebook page for the blog, it seems I've migrated over there where I post now on a regular basis. I'd love it if you'd join me there Musings of the Monroe Family on Facebook.

As I ponder over this past year, there are so many good and wonderful things that have been happening. We are so blessed. My son is thriving in our homeschool kindergarten program and I've been fortunate to find a Christ-centered homeschool co-op to land at.  It is a teaching co-op so once a week my son goes for classes like Art, Music, Science and Gym.  The connections I am making with other homeschooling moms are so wonderful.

I have also picked up some work in the past year. I found a job at our local YMCA providing child care for parents using the gym. It's a workplace where I can actually bring my son along and not have to pay for a babysitter so mom can earn a little money.

Picture mommy drew for J when our car "died"

Working at the Y was going along fine until we had to put our Toyota Camry to rest when the engine went kaput. I drew the picture above for my son since he was really down about it. This is the car he's been in since he was little and he dubbed it the "Elvis Car". I realized we were listening to a lot of 50's music when at 2 years old he started to recognize Elvis! He'd say "Play Elvis again mommy!" Then he just started calling the car the Elvis Car. I loved it. So as of last November, we now are in debt with our "new to us" used Honda Accord which inspired me to get back into the field of Medical Transcription since minimum wage doesn't cut it anymore. I've actually started my own business called "Monroe Support Services". I was hired to do transcription as an independent contractor for a place called ExamWorks. With only working 3 hours a day, I can still homeschool J and we have the flexibility with our schedule since I can work whatever hours are best for me. I am so thankful for this job and it's exciting to get back into something I enjoy doing.

Well, this is a little "hello" post to let you all know we are doing well, just a lot busier, and not as much time to blog. I'm not sure when I'll be back, but you will find me posting regularly on Facebook with fun and interesting things that I find along the way.

Blessings to you!

Thanks for visiting :)