Thursday, July 21, 2011

Opening the Curtains and Battling Depression

I've shared with you that I'm unemployed. That has left me with a lot of free time on my hands. For some of you, that might sound thrilling. You could probably come up with a list of dozens, if not hundreds, of things you would like to do around your home. I have a list like that. I've accomplished some of it, but certainly not all of it.

Often, I find myself sleeping late, sometimes until the middle of the day, because it makes the day go by faster. I watch the minutes tick away, waiting for Joseph to come home so I'm not alone anymore.

Loneliness is hard for me. It's one of my biggest struggles being unemployed.

One of my other struggles is a lack of desire to do anything. I've wondered if it just boiled down to laziness, but I don't think it does. Oh, sure, some days I'm just being lazy. Others, I just don't want to do anything, even things I enjoy doing. I just want to stay in my pajamas, not put my contacts in, leave the curtains closed and the lamps off, and lie on the couch.

I recognize that as a symptom of depression, because I've been depressed before.

It seems different this time. It comes in spurts. Sometimes, it sneaks up on me in the middle of a happy moment. I'll have a few good days, and then I'll have the days where I want to keep the house dark and keep to myself.

I don't think I'm depressed because I'm unemployed. I think the unemployment triggered the depression. There's a difference.

I think if I were depressed because of the unemployment, I would have some sort of longing for my old job or for a new one.

Instead, I think the loneliness, a feeling of a lack of purpose, a feeling that I no longer contribute to our family, those things triggered my depression.

I don't want you to feel scared for me. I assure you I am not depressed to the point of suicidal thoughts or anything of the like. If anything, I would consider this a mild case of depression, because I can usually pull myself out of it (with the help of the Holy Spirit, of course, because without Him, the curtains stay closed).

I'm trying to recognize when I'm feeling depressed and counteract it. When I notice the living room is looking dark and gloomy, I make myself open the curtains. When I look at the clock and it's almost 2:30 in the afternoon and I'm still in my pajamas (oops ... like now!), I make myself get up and put on real clothes. I make myself put my contacts in, brush my teeth, brush my hair ... you know, typical good hygiene.

One of the most important things I'm doing is striving to spend time with the Lord in the mornings. I notice a difference in my days when I do. I'm more apt to be joyful and to be productive around the house. When I connect with the Lord, I'm reminded that I have many reasons to be grateful and filled with joy. I'm reminded that He is with me always, even when the curtains are closed.

Also, when I connect with the Lord in the mornings, I'm more apt to connect with Him throughout the day. When I start my day talking to Him, I talk to Him throughout the day. When I bring others to Him in prayer in the morning, I find myself thinking of them throughout the day, and I continue lifting them up in prayer.

I also recognize the spiritual warfare connected with this depression. I've been seeking to trust the Lord and follow His leadership in this new phase of my life. I know the enemy doesn't like that. He is going to do everything he can to try to distract me and keep me from staying connected to the Lord. So I must suit up:

"10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand inthe evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;17and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,18praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak." (Ephesians 6:10-20, courtesy of

Sunday, July 17, 2011


I'm unemployed. I've been unemployed since March 1, 2011. Being unemployed is strange for me. Strange because I don't know what to do next.

Joseph and I started a business with Premier Designs about a year ago. While it was profitable for us, and we think Premier Designs is a great company, we sensed the Lord directing us not to continue our business. Initially, I thought our business with Premier would replace the income I made at my last job. With that thought in mind, I wasn't concerned about losing my corporate job. Without it, I grew a little concerned.

Joseph and I have a photography business. We really enjoy photography, and we'd love to see our business grow. We just have to be realistic that sometimes it can take a while for a business such as photography (particularly in a pretty saturated area) to grow. The Lord has really used photography to help us make ends meet, and we're so grateful. It just isn't a full time job for me.

I was just about to blog about the fact that school hasn't worked out for me. I attempted to register for classes at Greenville Technical College in the spring, but all of the classes I needed were full. The same thing happened in the summer. As I started to type, I was prompted to check GTC's website to see what courses were available. The two classes I needed to begin my coursework with were both open, so I'm registered for them! Praise God!

I feel hopeful now. We've been praying for direction. Course availability was direction we needed.

That still doesn't answer the unemployment issue, but at least it will occupy a lot of my time and eventually help us in our photography business (I think I forgot to mention my goal is to take photography courses at GTC).

Our prayer as far as employment is pretty simple right now. If God wants me to pursue a job, we're asking Him to drop it in our laps. That may seem like we're being lazy and not doing the good old fashioned hard work of looking for a job. Please trust that it's not. We don't know what we want me to do. I don't want another corporate job like I had before where I was unhappy. I think I would enjoy a job in a church or other non-profit organization, but I don't know what exactly I would like to do. God knows me better than I know myself, and He knows our needs better than we know them. We're trusting that if He wants me to work, He'll prepare just the right job for me and make it obvious that's what we should pursue. I would love it if you would join us in that prayer.

I know this post was a little dry, but I thought it would be a good way to answer the "what next" questions I receive on a regular basis about what I'm doing now that I'm unemployed. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Cow Appreciation Day

Friday, July 8, 2011 was Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-fil-a. Anyone who went to Chick-fil-a dressed as a cow received a free meal. Fortunately for us, Chick-fil-a was generous with what they considered a cow costume. Ours consisted of dressing in black and taping white paper spots onto our shirts. I put my hair in pigtails, and Joseph made bull horns out of paper and one of my headbands. We totally rocked the cow-look. haha! Enjoy a few photos from our fun evening!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Thrifting for Children's Books

I've had fun over the last several weeks thrifting for items to use for my birthday party and for photography props. Most recently, I've started thrifting for children's books. It has been so much fun for me!

I have a lot of children's books from my childhood, including 6 books from the Raggedy Ann and Andy Grow and Learn series that was published in 1988. My mom purchased one for me each time she went to the grocery store - so sweet. There are 18 books in the series, plus a parents' guide. I actually found the parents' guide at Miracle Hill today (25 cents!), and that gave me hope that I can find the other 12 books. I could purchase them online, but they're a minimum of $4 each, plus shipping. I'd prefer not to pay more than $1 each for them.

Because of my love for these particular Raggedy Ann and Andy books, I decided to start collecting any Raggedy Ann and Andy books I could find. I've already purchased several. Even the covers of them make me smile! They're tempting me to decorate our nursery some day (in the distant future) in a Raggedy Ann and Andy theme, but I think that may be too much red, white, and blue for me. Maybe I could incorporate them into a generic "vintage" theme. We'll see. I have time to decide, haha.

I've also started purchasing Berenstein Bears, Little Critter, Sweet Pickles (Do you remember those? They had a special carrying case!), Clifford the Big Red Dog (for Joseph!), Cabbage Patch Kids, and Ameleia Bedelia books. I would really love to have a great collection of "classic/vintage" books for our kids when the time comes.

My trick for purchasing books without duplicating any is a small notebook I keep in my purse. I have a page for each series (or character) of books. As I purchase a book, I make a note of it in my notebook. This came in handy today when I was scratching my head and thinking, "Hmmm, do I already have this one?"

Do you like collecting children's books? Do you have a favorite place to purchase them? I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Thanks, Husby!

I'd like to thank Joseph publicly for all he's done around our house lately. Recently, he fixed two problems in our master bathroom that were a major nuisance to me (really to both of us, but, not-so-surprisingly, I was the most vocal about them). He fixed our toilet that ran constantly (to the point that we finally turned off the water so it didn't bug me at night), and he fixed our sink that didn't drain well (gross, people, gross).

I'm so grateful to have such a diligent husband who takes pride in our home. He seeks to serve our family any way he can, and he does it all without grumbling or complaining. On a daily basis, he points me to Christ through his servant leadership, and I thank the Lord for bringing us together.

Thanks, Husby! I love you!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Thoughts on Divorce: Part 3

"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." ~ Ephesians 4:29

As we go throughout life, talking and interacting with people, we have two choices: 1) We can tear them down, or 2) we can build them up.

I've used Ephesians 4:29 many times to discuss this topic of building up/tearing down with children. I told them when they said hurtful things to people, it was like tearing down a house with a bulldozer. On the flip side, when they said encouraging, grace-filled things to people, it was like they had a hammer and nails, and they were building a house. Which one sounds better for people: tearing them down with a bulldozer or building them up with a hammer and nails? I could often be heard saying, "Please put your bulldozer away and get out your hammer and nails."

Ephesians wasn't just written for children. It was written for all of us, and it's a great place to start when considering how to encourage divorced kids.

One Sunday when I was in high school, I was at church with my youth group preparing for Youth Sunday (one of the best Sundays invented in Baptist churches, haha). I was lying on the floor working on something. I'm not sure what prompted the question, but I looked up at one of the sweet youth volunteers and asked, "Since my mom hates my dad, and I look like my dad, do you think she's reminded of him when she looks and me, and it upsets her?" She answered wisely, "When she looks at you, I'm sure she's reminded of the good things about your dad, and she sees those things in you."

Please don't think my mom ever said she hated my dad. She never spoke negatively about him. That was her policy, and she stuck to it. I think somewhere in my mind, I determined my parents hated each other because they weren't married any more. I guess I thought the only alternative to married love was hate. I'm glad I was wrong!

The youth volunteer who encouraged me hit on something important. She mentioned that my mom saw the good qualities about my dad in me. This is where I'd like to exhort you to encourage divorced kids.

When talking to them, you have options. You could speak negatively about their parents, or you could find positive qualities about their parents that you can encourage them in. Example: "Sarah, I love the way you serve your younger brother. I think you get your compassionate spirit from your dad. He is kind hearted and always considers the needs of others."

Remember to keep your bulldozers parked when you're talking with divorced kids (or anyone for that matter!). If you say negative things about their parents, they tend to internalize them. They're a part of their parents, so they may think you see those negative things in them as well (even if you don't).

Pull out your hammer and nails. Build these kids up as much as you can. Encourage the areas where you see God at work in them, and look for opportunities to say kind things about their parents. Your kind words will go a long way.