Tuesday, January 17, 2017

When He Said Live - I Had to Breath . . .

I started this blog post over 4 years ago. I really thought that I might never finish it.....For all this time, I've had the title and many thoughts, but just never put it together.
Fast forward November 2016, During my 30 Days of Thankful, when I was once again, not blogging, God began to stir my heart. For the first 3 years of this Blog, it was private and by invitation only. I did this because I shared a lot of intimate things that I didn't  want everyone to read. There are some personal things and information about my boys. Then I decided that I should share. Those who were reading seemed to be getting something from my thoughts, so I made it public. I say all that to say that it will remain public, but I will be sharing personal experiences and thoughts. Not to bring attention to me or to dwell on the negative, but to bring glory to God and hopefully show all that He's done in my life, in spite of my human frailty.
These posts may not relate or even interest you and that's ok, but I felt that some may need to know they are not alone. 
Over the next posts, I will be sharing my story, Andrew's story, Ways that God revealed himself to my family and other topics as God directs. It won't all be super serious, I also love to share things about Jules, my church kids, recipes and just about life. 
Ok all that being said, this post is called "When He Said Live, I Had to Breath"
In 2007, this song was released by a group called TK McRae. They are no longer singing, but this song has become an anthem in my life. I feel as though I could have written it myself.
They were at a Gospel Concert that I went to in March of that year. I heard this song for the first time and was so moved that at intermission, I went to the lead singer and told her how God had moved during that song, a little about myself and that it could have been written by me. This led to her calling on me to testify in front of a very large crowd and I did. It was a victorious turning point in my life......
Now the back story, for most of my life, as long as I can remember, I have suffered from depression. Most of those years, I knew nothing about depression, that it existed or that all the sadness, fear and inadequacy I felt was caused by it. When I first was officially diagnosed, I had learned that people suffered from depression. I wholeheartedly supported their need for medicine, therapy, a combination, or whatever it took..... For THEM, whatever was needed, by all means get help..... I had also learned that for most Christians and certainly by the church in general, depression wasn't an illness, but "sin-sickness", that required a closer relationship to God and more faith. Since almost all of my life, I'd felt inadequate and never quite good enough, I couldn't possibly need MEDS.......I would just need to work on getting closer to God.......Well after almost a year, I relented and asked God to forgive me and began taking meds and participating in therapy with the boys.  The boys, who by this time were ALL on some type of medicine and went to therapy at least once a week. Believe me, I heard from many that I would regret both..... Never for one moment have I regretted getting them the help they needed. But back to me, I very very carefully began to speak a little about myself going on meds. There was, thankfully some support, but there were also those who expressed great concern that I had become, one of "those" and they would pray that God would "deliver me" and I would no longer need them.... This was difficult and over time, I began to make it seem to most, that I no longer had to take them. I did and I still do. I thank God for those meds and that I no longer place my value or rate my testimony on whether or not I need them!!!
In 2003, as most know my oldest son passed away. I had quit my job in 2000, to be with him. It was what I wanted and knew was necessary. But my only identity as a success was and had always been my work. I'd had good positions with lots of responsibility and had always done the very best job that I could. Being a person who craved approval, I always wanted to be the best. When I left the workplace, of course, I had a full time job as a mom and a wife and did whatever side work that I could. Unfortunately, I always felt that I fell short. Being a mom of 3 special needs kids and one of them with a serious illness made me feel, like I could never be enough. There wasn't enough of me to be the Superwoman, I'd always tried to be......Thankfully, I eventually fell into a groove and tried to be the best mom and wife that I could. For the last 6 months of Andrews life, he got all of me. Sadly, as in many cases when you have a sick child, I only had scraps for not only Zachary and Anthony, but also for Jeff....everyone else, including myself, just had to accept the little or nothing, I could give.  I don't regret any of the precious moments that I was allowed to give Andrew. I would never ever trade that time. His life...and death changed me and made me who I am today. It just took a while to see that. 
July 2003 - So Andrew is now basking in the glory of heaven. I have time to devote to my 2 other precious boys and my marriage. Sounded great. Not as easy as I thought. Once again, my identity was in caring for Andrew. I gave it EVERYTHING, I had. What do I do now.... I quickly began caring for a special needs baby, doing side jobs from home and trying to give attention to my family. But deep in my heart, I was depressed. I totally trusted God. I knew this was all His will, but my marriage was suffering as many do after the death of a child. I felt like I was failing everyone. Loneliness and a feeling that I was lost  - Jodi no longer existed. I sought help, took meds, but secretly wanted to end my life. In the darkness of night, I would beg God to take me. I felt that everyone would be better off. I couldn't bear the thought of taking my life, after all my boys had lost so much, how could they live with that. That thought and hanging on to God with everything I had, kept me from taking my life. However, I stilled begged God to take me. I had suffered physical injuring and subsequent pain from taking a care of Andrew, carrying him, his wheelchairs and I took a pretty bad fall trying to keep him from getting hurt. That coupled with the only coping mechanism I'd ever depended on was food, I gained to weigh an astonishing 466 pounds. Life was miserable. All the insecurities that I was never good enough, were seemingly all true......
Then one night as I laid in bed awake, lonely, hurting, begging God to take my life....He said LIVE, GET UP AND BREATH...Your boys need you and I can't use you, unless you trust me...TRUST ME, with everything!!!
For the first time in so long, I felt that there was hope. By this time, it was 2005. Just over 2 years had passed since Andrew had died. I felt like I'd been wandering in the deep, dark dessert and now I could see some light. Please don't misunderstand, I was trying my best to hang on to God. I knew He loved me and somehow I knew He still cared, but the depression and every human doubt I have had, were consuming me.
Within a week or so, I began going to Weight Watchers. I lost very little weight in the 6 week plan, but I was determined. I went to my Doctor and told him honestly how truly depressed I was. He listened, helped with adjusting my meds and encouraged me. Not just to lose weight, but to find myself and love every moment that I had to give my boys. I say boys because by that time, I believe I was already losing Jeff. I place no blame. Our life was hard and we both suffered great hurt. I had to just focus on me and being there for the boys. I prayed God would heal our marriage and I just had to trust... After nearly a year, I lost about 80 pounds. I felt like I had a new perspective and was trying my best to be a better person - physically, mentally, spiritually. MANY other things happened over the next 1-1/2 - 2 years. Bottom line I needed to go back to work. It had been almost 7 years since I worked outside the home, I was nearly 40 years old and financially, I NEEDED a job. Thus began a nearly 11 month process. Probably 1000 resumes sent, many, many interviews, some job prospects.....but still NO JOB. 
In this process, my marriage dissolved almost completely. I eventually got a job in September 2007, but I've jumped ahead.
March 2007, Debbie and I planned an entire day out. Dinner, shopping, the Gospel concert. I was so happy when we got there and I could actually "fit" in the chair. I'd had an experience before I started losing weight that resulted in my entire family enjoying 3rd row seats at a comedy show, while I sat alone at the back of the theater in a seat that I could fit in. When Annie McRae asked me to testify, I was reluctant, but knew I had to give God ALL the glory!!! I testified that God had told me to breath! That He gave me strength to carry on! I even shared that I'd lost enough weight to fit in the auditorium chairs!!! WHAT??? Did I actually tell 200 strangers about all of that?!?!? 
Since that time, I lost another 90 pounds. Unfortunately, I've gained back about 40, but I'm a work in progress and I'm not giving up!! My back problems, chronic pain, degenerative arthritis and other complications, caused me to have to go on disability and lose a lot of water aerobic time. I'm finally at a point that I am trying to resume being more active, limited as it might have to be and resuming a better eating plan, that I've tried and know works. I still struggle with depression. I take my meds as directed. I try to keep my nose in the Word and focus on the positive. I still run to food as a way to feel better, knowing it will really only make me feel worse in the end. I'm trying and I'm trusting. I'm not perfect, but I'm trusting in the One who is! 

I'd like to share the song that means so much to me. I pray it will speak to you. I know this is a long, long....long post, but please know that I'm sharing to help you. Depression is a disease, requiring treatment, just like any other disease. It doesn't make you less of a Christian and it doesn't make God any less God! No matter where you are When He says Live......Breath...