As the new year began, my blog took a backseat as I focused on self-care and on my daytime job.
I recently began working with children’s church and was elected for the role of director. I’ve always wanted to produce curriculum that teaches the Bible chronologically from the date of Jesus’ birth through Easter and the acts of the early church. Since we didn’t have specific curriculum for those lessons, I’ve worked with older materials that the church used in the past, along with fresh ideas gleaned from Pinterest. Putting together the lessons each week has been one of the most fulfilling and exciting projects I’ve ever worked on.
Working directly with children is not as easy for me as putting together the curriculum. I’m learning how to relate to the kids from my co-leader and God is helping me become a teacher. We have two young ladies who work with us and their enthusiasm and skills make our job easier. I also have someone very creative who has been putting together crafts that go along with the lessons.
What we are doing with the children’s ministry is successful, but as a small church we don’t have big numbers of children. Due to family obligations and sicknesses, we don’t have a consistent group each Sunday, nor a very large one. But each child is precious in God’s sight and in ours. They all have their own unique personalities and skills set. They are a joy to work with.
Because I have focused so much on my job and children’s ministry, my blog has been pushed aside.
My emotions have been all over the place lately as I fought depression and had bouts of anxiety. I also had moments where mania tried to break through, which led to some impulsive spending and emotional challenges.
It’s been 19 years since I suffered a nervous breakdown and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. In all that time, I haven’t had to return to the psychiatric hospital, although I have been close a few times. Having the same doctor since the beginning has helped to regulate my medications, making adjustments as needed. It took a few years and a few different counselors before I found one that meets me where I’m at.
Bouts of depression and mania are the key components of bipolar disorder. While many people experience highs and lows, my emotional scale is higher and lower than most. Sometimes the changes are rapid. My counselor expresses that it is like a pendulum. When my emotions swing towards the high side, or mania, then it swings back to depression, and vice versa. Since the holidays I have run the gamut of emotions and had anxiety and some physical ailments thrown in for good measure.
Fortunately, my disorder runs more towards the depressive side than manic. I say fortunatley because my life doesn’t spiral out of control. I don’t get trapped in addictions as I try to manage my illness. The manic side of bipolar can be frightening as it causes one to make poor choices in relationships and spending money that can have long-term effects. For me, mania comes infrequently and lasts for a day or two, while I suffer from depression more often and for longer periods.
My counselor has helped me find tools that work for changing my negative thoughts, which in turn changes my behavior patterns. For the past few weeks, however, I let the storms of life and the stresses of my job affect my emotions, which led to even more negative feelings and depression.
Depression is typical for me for this time of year. Part of it is the winter months and the gray days. Another cause is that for a week in February, I am brought face-to-face with my grief over losing my husband. His birthday is the 12th, then there is Valentine’s Day, then our anniversary was the 17th. It would have been 32 years this year, but we only had 20 together before he passed away.
For most of the time, I am dealing okay with my loss. I have worked through my grief and have accepted that he is in a better place. I’ve become strong and independent. But then those days come up that bring me right back down again.
Like I mentioned above, I have experienced some bouncing around of my emotions in the past few weeks. But though the winds buffet, they cannot shake the foundation that is my faith in God. I feel like my feet are firmly planted in good soil, like a solid oak tree. Emotions are temporary, but faith and hope are eternal.
Unfortunately, most work on my blog has been suspended as I dealt with the changes in my emotions and daily life.
For the past eighteen months or so I’ve hosted a series on my blog that features books by other Christian authors. Each Friday I posted details about a book including the summary, an excerpt and author bio. I connected you to the authors via their social media links. I haven’t featured any books since before the holidays.
I also haven’t posted any new Cat Tails or any of the other features that I previously provided on my blog.
I am currently working on gathering stories for both the Friday Feature and the Cat Tails series. I also plan to post more recipes that use 5 ingredients or less.
I have so many good things in my life right now.
I’ve been at my job for a full year and plan to continue with it. For those of you who know me well, it is a miracle in itself that I have found fulfilling work that I can stick with. I still encounter some on-the-job stresses but am working with my counselor and my boss to maintain a professional balance.
Mentally, I find that anxiety is the biggest hurdle I face now that the depression is lifting. Most of the time I have control of it, but in certain social situations it almost overcomes me. I know that it is fear-based and I am leaning on God and learning how to cope with it.
Financially, I am in a good place. Not exactly where I want to be, but with the first year evaluation I received a performance raise. The mileage rate also increased. A little more in my paycheck each week will make paying my bills easier. Hopefully I’ll be able to set some aside. I want to go on vacation this summer and will need to save diligently to do so.
Physically, I am in worse shape than I was one year ago due to becoming lax with my diet and exercise. I am doing better and hope to be back in routine soon.
Spiritually, God has gifted me with creativity as I have given up some things that weren’t glorifying Him and listening better to His voice. I haven’t become all that I want to be yet, but do we ever arrive spiritually in this life?
We can’t reach perfection while we live in an imperfect world, but we can grow each day as we turn our back on the worldly viewpoint and allow God to influence our daily decisions.
I don’t speak out about politics especially not here on my blog. But I will say that I don’t believe this earth was supposed to last forever. The Bible says that there will come a new heaven and a new earth, which means the world as we know it will someday not exist anymore. Jesus Himself said that in this world we will have tribulation. But He also said to take heart, because He has overcome the world.
I’m so glad that God has promised redemption and an eternal home with Him. No matter what this world holds for me, I stand in faith in the One who gives me strength.