New Flat!

Before I say anything else I just have to tell you all how amazing my God is. A week ago we received the keys to our new flat and we can totally and utterly say that this is a direct answer to prayer.

Let me set the scene for you….

When I was 18 I made the choice not to go to the university I wanted to go to but to stay at home and help my family whilst my Dad was ill in hospital. I think I made this choice more out of fear of what would happen if I let go than out of genuine selflessness but I made the choice none the less. The way that I coped with staying at home was that I would tell people when I move out I will move out FOR GOOD, I wouldn’t end up back at my parents house after uni like most of my friends.

After uni I settled down into any job I could find, not well paid but full time and I saved and I saved and I saved hoping to move out, but I kept finding that the rent in my area was far too high on my salary, so disappointingly I had to stay at home.

I battled and battled with this until eventually I let all my expectations go and just kept saving, I stopped planning or worrying, I just trusted Him that I was in the right place for me.

20130807-105141.jpg

Skip forward a year and me and my fiancé are praying about where to live once we were married and we decided that realistically we would need to move away so that he could find a job in a cheaper area. We both felt like we were in the right place however and that we didn’t want to leave, so we prayed for God to show us if He wanted us to stay. We were hoping for a job or a prophetic word to show us but it was a faint hope.

The next week we had news of an inheritance that we had no idea about – more than enough for us not just to rent but to put a deposit down on a small flat where we live! Gobsmacked we realised God could do SO MUCH more than we could ever hope or dream or pray.

So today I’m posting up a picture of our amazing view and I want the whole world to know that God still answers prayer, still does miracles and still provides today!

 

Supporting Someone with Depression

I have lived with someone suffering with depression for six years, at the start of their illness I didn’t understand how to help them, I was at a loss about what I should do. Thankfully now I have a much clearer idea of what we can and what we shouldn’t do when supporting someone. So here’s a list of some of the most important things I’ve learnt.

You are not responsible for their actions/mood/happiness The reality is that small things can tip a person with depression over the edge and into an awful place. I remember that if I sat in “the wrong chair”, my Dad’s day would spiral out of control. I felt responsible and so guilty that my actions caused this. The fact was that there was no way of knowing which chair was the wrong chair – I did not cause the bad mood, the illness did. Do not take responsibility for someone’s mood, for even if you acted perfectly all day everyday their mood would not improve. We can at the most support and love someone with depression but we cannot be responsible for them.

Protect yourself. one of the most important ways to be there for someone is to not become worn down and depressed yourself. Take breaks, laugh lots, make sure you have good supportive friends around you, move forward with your life goals and make your own health a priority. Depression tends to suck joy out others – make sure you fill up your own joy and happiness regularly!

Do not define the person by their illness. Whenever possible treat the person as you would have done before. In your own mind don’t see them as a new or separate person now, keep in your thoughts the person before the illness. This will be hard for you, expect to grieve a bit for the person you are missing and let yourself feel that. But don’t give up – keep remembering your loved one at their best.

If you are a Christian pray for them. I debated leaving this one out, but I have honestly seen such an improvement since praying for protection from God because of what Jesus has done, I would just feel dishonest if I left this out!

Do not feel guilty. I felt crippling guilt that I couldn’t make my Dad smile, that we had no relationship and barely spoke. I felt like I needed to do more, even though I did my best. Don’t fall into this trap, you are there loving them and caring the best you can – there is no reason to feel guilty. You can’t make a blind man see colours, no matter how hard you tried and there would be no case for guilt – it’s exactly the same with depression.

Forgive hard, forgive often. This will make hardly any difference to the person you are caring for but will make all the difference to you. Be generous with forgiveness and you will quickly feel better yourself.

Do not allow yourself to be abused. If you are being emotionally, physically or in anyway abused by the person you are caring for stop taking it. Depression is not an excuse and you are not helping them by letting them get away with it. Leave the situation and it will benefit you both.

This is not a perfect list, or a complete one. I may be totally wrong in some points or for certain situations but I have needed to learn these things myself and I truly hope they will help others too.

When Breaking up is the Best thing to do – Part 2

medium_2934355876

Ok, so the way I left this yesterday was that me and my fiance had just broken up, I was heart broken and utterly confused, yet what I couldn’t see at the time was that this was the best thing to have happened to us. To read a bit more have a click here.

I was heart-broken because I loved him, but also because he had become so strongly linked to my future, my hope and my healing. I had so many hopes pinned on him, he was “The Perfect Christian Guy” after all.

I was so sure this was the will of God for me, that when it fell through I, and my faith was left in tatters.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/michelangelo_mi/2934355876/”>στρατός (formerly known as Michelangelo_MI)</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>

When Breaking up is the Best Thing to do

20130524-164128.jpg

Today I found myself texting a friend saying that all good couples break up at some point! She had just got back together with her ex, who is a great guy and I am so happy for them!

It got me thinking about how breaking up with my fiancé was the best thing we ever did.

Firstly, don’t worry, we are obviously back together – hurrah! But we probably wouldn’t be planning our wedding in September if we hadn’t broken up. Let me tell you why…

We met when he came to my hometown to do a years internship as a youth worker. It wasn’t really love at first sight at all, we worked together at lots of youth groups, I found he brought out my fun side and taught me how to celebrate life, I introduced him to “deep conversations” and he found that sometimes, only sometimes mind, he enjoyed them. Soon enough we fell in love with no clue the other felt the same (although apparently everyone else did!).

The only problem was that he had signed up to do mission work in South Africa in a few months time, and had no plans to come back to my home town. I was devastated to be honest, and prayed and prayed and kept trying to stop feeling things for him.

Then, on a sunny barbecue and football filled day (England vs Germany in the World Cup…. Not a great match but you can’t have everything!) he told me he’d fallen a little bit in love with me, that he knew we’d be far away from each other but he’d rather miss me as a girlfriend than miss me for no reason at all. It was amazing!

We gave the long distance thing a try, and anyone who’s been there knows it. Is. Not. Fun. It’s horrible, sad and so hard to do.

We lasted out the year apart, barely scraping through. He became ill with a parasite and I had started wallowing in self pity over being stuck at home in a horrible situation. We fought and fought and I cried and he distanced himself.

It was not the kind of relationship that was pleasing God, each other or ourselves. There was only one thing to do and that was to break up.

I have to say it wasn’t my choice. I was heart broken, absolutely crushed and at the time I thought it was the worst thing to happen to me for a long time.

I was wrong, it turned out to be the best thing to happen, we had gotten things all wrong at the start and needed to refocus everything.

To find out how we worked things out you’ll have to read my next post because it’s just too much for one sitting!

photo credit: Corie Howell via photopin cc

Expecting the Worst and Terrified of Good News

So, yesterday was the first time my Dad has been home in a year, he’s in hospital for chronic depression and the last 6 years have been tough. To read a bit more check out my post from yesterday here.

I had no idea how it would go, and I was nervous, scratch that I was plain scared of what may happen to him emotionally when he came back.

It went well. I mean REALLY well! He wasn’t stressed by the small things which would have sent him over the edge, he was laughing, he even helped me make some of my invitations for my wedding. WOW how blessed were we yesterday! Yet I found myself reacting very strangely…

I was comfortable when I expected it to go wrong, yet when how well it went sunk in I suddenly became terrified deep, deep inside.

medium_170482672

Why would someone become terrified of good news? I think it’s because they fear the fall back to where they were before.

I love the feeling of having my Dad back, someone to protect me and care about me and not someone for me to worry about; yet the thought that I may have to go through the emotions of loss that I face when he has a turn for the worse make me want to run away from the good situation and the possibility of pain.

I have been told in the past that this is not trusting God. I disagree. This is a normal reaction to trauma and suffering and I know I couldn’t stop it if I tried. What matters is what I do with my reaction, and that I trust God with my actions.

I believe that it is not your emotional reactions to life which show your faith and character – it’s the actions you chose to live out once your reaction has surfaced.

So here are the actions I am chosing today…

  • To be thankful for the fact my Dad is alive! This is a miracle
  • To forgive myself for being afraid, that’s what Jesus has done
  • To remember the good times from yesterday and treasure them no matter what happens tomorrow
  • To think about the promises that God has for my future – they are awesome!
  • To stop myself preparing for the worst case scenario and leave Jesus in control

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/matador_snaps/170482672/”>JoséPedro</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>

Day Release from the “Funny Farm”

This is part 2 of my series on how good things can come from AWFUL experiences.

I may have used a bit of poetic license on the title… perhaps it should have read “a day visit out of the mental hospital with two minders” but that didn’t sound as catchy to me. So yes, today is the first time my Dad has come home for a whole year, he’s been in a high security mental hospital two hours away, so our contact hasn’t really been frequent and I am feeling lots of things about it.

medium_2340953610

In fact I am shaking, all the memories of the panic and paranoia whilst he was at home is getting to me. I don’t have any idea how he will react, or how we will react either and I really don’t want to think about it.

I’m hoping to update you with the truth of how God has used this situation once I have got my head around it – but I also want to show you my honesty for right now. I am feeling awful, full of fear and despair and memories I wish, well, memories I wish I couldn’t remember.

However I am setting my hope on something higher and I want to remember some amazing truths which came from a comment on my previous post….

“I deal with a similar situation. I too had a childhood that kept me on high alert, depressed, and emotionally alone. When I was in high school I would always sense when something was about to happen…. As the years went on, if someone was sick and I would pray for them I would have a “sense” of their healing or their death. And like you I’ve been pretty on the mark. This has caused me to one be sensitive to seeing signs and warnings that opened my eyes to seeing God in ways that many don’t. But this has also caused me to panic in fear that someone else is going to pass.… I know this is long and seems depressing, but the truth is through these experiences that always led to heartache and loss, I became dependent completely on the Lord. I am able to see His Voice in ways that  I would never trade. But I’ve also come to realize that every moment of my life, (and yours) had been preplanned. God knew exactly where and what I’d be going through and He purposed GOOD for ALL of it. Just like Joseph going through years and years of what appeared to be undeserving punishment, it was actually Gods plan all along, that He told him in advance. Genesis 50:20 has given my past a purpose, and I pray that you know that although your life here as a child was hard… and “the enemy planned it for harm, God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

You have PURPOSE! Jesus chose you and KNEW you would glorify Him and by doing so you will Shine HIS LIGHT among other women who are where you once were. … You have the Creator of the Universe living inside of you. Remember that when the days get hard. You are CHOSEN!”

This blogger has not had an easy time and some of the details she shared in her comment are really distressing – yet through it all she can still say this. Check out her writing here, you won’t regret it!

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/missnita/2340953610/”>Ani-Bee</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>

Respecting someone Does Not make you a Doormat

Firstly, let me tell you, I once WAS a doormat, I know what it means to be a doormat and I am not a doormat now. A doormat knows they are being abused and they let it happen out of fear, low self-esteem and sometimes just for the attention they get from the abuser (that was my experience anyway, and I know that this is by no means true for everyone).

I have changed so much since those years of being controlled, manipulated and choosing not to fight back. Being an emotional doormat is an awful place to be, and I think the term doormat isn’t the most sensitive way of describing it either if I’m honest!

medium_8587980051

What I have the main problem with, however, is when I am called a doormat for making a conscious decision to do things my fiance’s way.

I agree that in some of these situations he is not “right”, and his course of action is certainly not the way I would do something, but instead of moaning, pouting and shouting like my friends tell me to, I do something else. I go along with his decision (without complaining!). If there comes a time when I’ve explained my reasoning and it’s still important to him, I do what he’s asking me to do, I stand up for him when others criticize him and I trust that if it’s important to him then there’s a reason he’s making this call.

He is an amazing man who loves me so well, and for me a massive part of returning that love is respecting the wisdom he has; even when I don’t agree.

This has happened about 3 times in our whole 3 years together, because he wants my opinion and wants to make me happy so most of the time we do end up agreeing. Living this way makes me happy, because it’s my decision and my way of showing love – It does not make me a doormat.

A doormat has no choice who’s shoes are wiped on it, a doormat has no mind. The way I live might mean that I end up with the dirt of someone else’s decision clogging up my life – but that is because I’m choosing to let it be there.

I’m no doormat when I’m chosing to wash his feet – I’m being a follower of Jesus.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/theenmoy/8587980051/”>Theen …</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>