Tuesday, September 29, 2009

More on Depression

Dr. Ur-Spo commented that I had been whining (my word, not his!) about being depressed, but I did not give any information on what to do for people who are depressed.  This got me thinking.  What would I want people to do to help me in my depression?

First of all, I will agree with Ur-Spo's comment, "most people who try to help have good intent, but don't know what to say or do."  I really do believe that people do have good intent.  And to make people feel self-conscious about interacting with people who are depressed is not my intent.  But, maybe, helping people think of other ways of saying things is my intent.  I don't know.

I will state that all of what I am saying applies only to me.  I do not know what others are thinking or feeling.

When I get depressed, I am feeling horrible about myself.  I have a majorly over-developed superego.  The litany of "shoulds" go marching through my head.  "You should be more successful."  "You should be better."  "You should be perfect."  "You should not make mistakes."  "You should be all things to all people."  When people do the "count your blessings" thing, all that I hear is "You should see the good in this and you don't."  And it just heaps burning coals.

Also, there are people who feel that just telling the person that God loves them is all that is needed.  I want to say, "If this is how God demonstrates love, I would hate to see what happens to those God does not love!  If this is how God demonstrates love, it is really kind of pathological." 

What would I want to hear?

I would want to hear from people an acknowledgment that sometimes life does suck.  But first off, be real. Losing a house, a job, status in society, a place in community, ability to do what you once enjoyed, your freedom of movement...  This may seem like high level whining, but relative loss is psychologically real.  The Bible book of Revelation is based on perceived loss and relative loss.

Going from having the ability to travel where you wanted with little thought of cost, to having to plan for your one-week, once a year, vacation, which you almost didn't go on because of financial difficulties, can bring you down a bit.  Saying that you should be happy to be able to travel feels like a slap in the face.

By acknowledging the difficulties, you do not "feed into" the depression.  By acknowledging the difficulties, it helps to reaffirm that I am seeing, at lest some things in the world, accurately.  Try to find something that you can affirm as accurate.  It just adds to the feeling of helplessness when it seems that everything I see seems to be wrong.

Some redirection is probably good too.  Just don't be too abrupt about it!

Me:  I feel like Hell.
You:  The Cubs won last night.
Me:  Nobody seems to listen.
You:  When was the last time you had your oil changed?

Kind of unorganized, but hopefully some insight can be found.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Three Months!

May be a rerun picture, but who cares!

Continued Thoughts on Depression

I really wish people would stop using the "Count Your Blessings" method of trying to cheer people up.  On many levels, it really doesn't work.  Actually, it gets me more depressed and adds anger to it.  "Oh sure, now not only do I feel like shit, but I now feel guilty because I don't see the WONDERFUL!!!! things in my life."  And trying to be happy when you have a job making coffee while others who have less experience are working full time doing church things is frustrating.  I am not wishing ill will to my colleague, I am just asking for a little equality.

What comes across is that not only am I doing something wrong, but I can't even see the blessings in life properly.  I know it sounds crazy, but welcome to depression.  If it were logical, it wouldn't exist.  What also people don't get is that, at least for me, I AM trying to look for the positive things in life, but even that gets really tiring.  I am tired of feeling like I am "settling."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Thoughts on Depression

I had a friend who once said that varicose veins was proof that we were not an apex species.  I would also say that depression is proof.  How can something that comes into your life and removes all joy be a benefit to a population?

I could see if the depression energized a person to make changes, but it seems to do the opposite; it seems to sap energy.  It seems to leave the person less able to make changes in their life than before the depression set in.  Is it a means of cleaning the filter of the gene pool?

But that would not seem like a possibility, because many who have depression do go on to produce another generation.  Also, depression seems to attack those who do have things that are of benefit to a society.

Why the pondering?  I just had the floor fall out from underneath me, yet again.  I seemed to be doing fine and then I started to contemplate my status in life and began to feel totally lost; totally backed into a corner.  The vacation was nice, but instead of fortifying for continued living, it just brings the frustrations of life into sharp focus.  And when I look around, all I seem to see is what life is not.  I try to look toward the positive things, but these keep getting drown by the frustrations and the let downs.  I really don't want to be doing this any more.

Sorry for the bummer.  I hope it clears the thoughts and lets me go on.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

More Vacation

The next day, Nick and I went with my nephew to Backbone park. This is a great park with lots of rocks to climb on. Nick was a great sport and climbed up. In the picture above, I am looking down at the car. It is there in the trees. Unfortunately, couldn't move the tree or the rock to get a better picture.

But before that, we went to the beach. Yes, there is a beach in Iowa. The Mississippi River has a lot of sand bars on it and this beach was one where I spent many summer days as a teen.

Then we went to the North Buena Vista Grotto. This is SOOOOOOOOO much better (NOT!) than the Dickeyville Grotto. Note the fluorescent light as Mary's Halo. (click on Mary to see!)

Restroom sigh at the Potosi Brewery. I love the glasses in the hands.

And here we are in a cleft in the rock that Nick climbed so bravely!

Home Again

Well, Nick and I are home from vacation.

I guess it was a good thing, the problem is, you can never have a vacation without having to to return from the vacation. (ok, if you DIE on vacation, then you don't have to return, but we won't go there.) So now I am in the process of returning from vacation.

I have to work tomorrow. Well, at least we have new people working and my shifts have been reduced. This is good in that I will have time to get church things done.

But vacation was a good thing. It was time to get away from work and the problems of the day. We visited with my parents and family and also traveled to visit the "roadways of my youth" and some friends.

We visited some long-time friends of Nick on the way there. We had a nice chat and some good food! Unfortunately, the air mattress decided to give up the ghost in the middle of the night and the dog had killer breath.

We finally made it to my parents house and were treated to home made beef stroganoff. I love the stuff! And so stuff is what I did. Yum!!

The next day we went to the Amana Colonies. On the way there we found this road. Yes, it is a real road. I want to live on it!! It really wasn't that hilly, but the name was great. On the way home, we found the most BORING gay bar in existence. Club Basix is interesting in that it was a McDonalds, but we don't need to be paying for beers to be ignored by the Bartender. (He was not cute either!) He gave us our beers and proceeded to turn his back on us and watch the tennis match. No tip for that twink!

More later!!

Saturday, September 12, 2009


In one of my former congregations, I had a council member named Brenda. Brenda will always stand out in my mind as an example of maturity; an example we should all strive to emulate.

Brenda was not old by any extent; she was in her 40's, so this wasn't "the wisdom of the ages." Brenda was just a very bright woman and a woman of integrity.

The situation that I remember involved a vote that was before the council. This vote involved moving some rooms within the church building. Brenda was not for the moving of the rooms and stated such. When the vote came through, Brenda was the only person to vote against the proposal. I appreciate her integrity in voting against the proposal that she did not agree with. She did not fold under pressure.

A few days later, I got to the church and Brenda and her daughter was in the church arranging the furniture in the rooms that had been changed by the proposal. They were setting up tables and placing table clothes over them. Brenda was moving stuff around and looking at it with her decorator eye.

I was a bit confused.

I asked Brenda what she was doing. She told me that although she was against the changes, she was part of the council and the congregation. The proposal had been voted in by the council and as a council member, it was now her duty to see that this proposal succeeded!

Brenda had the maturity to see that sometimes some things were bigger than her. She had the maturity to see that sometimes the Spirit may be moving but not giving us the all the insights. She trusted that God was moving and that although she may not know what God was doing, she should not stand in the way, and should use her gifts to help in whatever way possible.

I love Brenda!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


I cannot believe we have gotten to the point where someone would actually call the President "liar" during an address to the congress. But he apologized. Aw, how nice.

Maybe we need to just say "please" and we will get the health care we need. "Oh, please quit hoarding finances into your (how many homes do you have Mr. McCain?) homes and help those who cannot afford to even stay alive! (Hyperbole, I know.)

Other things that have been happening have been problems at work (surprise, surprise!). I guess I am getting close to getting fired because of being back late from breaks and lunch. Not way long, just two minutes late. Really, I have ten years of college and I have to be careful of being two minutes late from a break! I should follow the example of the Lead Barista and just roam around while on the clock. I did not get a break on Tuesday because the management scheduled things so there would have been a new person alone. This person had no experience and could not run the cash register. It is ok that I get no breaks, but I come back late and I get in trouble. And the meeting to "council" me takes longer than two minutes anyway!

Oh well...

Piss and Moan.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Starting of Anniversary Season

Well, I am a little slow on posting this, but with the way life has been, I feel slow is better than not at all.

Last Sunday marked the fourth anniversary of when Nick and I met. It wasn't the actual date, but it was the "Day." We met on the Sunday before Labor Day and that is much easier than trying to remember that it was Sept. 4th. (Hey, I am into "easy to remember!")

Other anniversaries for this time is when we started "dating" and finally ending with when we, well, you know.

Hopefully, in the future, we will be able to add an actual "Wedding Anniversary" to the list. We had thought of getting married on this trip to Iowa so that it would fall in the Anniversary Season, but alas, that will not be possible. That is ok, though, it will happen as it will happen.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Such as it is...

I have been in a really funky place as of late. It seems as if the stress will never let up.

Between work, church, finances, and pets, things have just been nuts. It feels as if life is just pushing me farther and farther back into a corner. There seems to be no way out of this corner.

I have felt this way before. The first time I remember would have been around when I was five or six years old. I remember having what seemed to be all the kids in the neighborhood making fun of me. Calling me names and calling me stupid. I felt trapped. I felt misunderstood. I felt flawed and hurt. It seemed that no matter what I did, I was not going to be able to make these people stop. I kept being told that I was no good, I was bad. It seemed that the only thing to do was to run away; to get as far away from these people who were hurting me as possible. So off I rode on my bike, trying to get as far away from these people who were hurting me as possible.

This is the feeling that I have been having lately. I feel hurt, flawed and misunderstood. I feel like no one cares and that I am totally trapped. I feel like to voice my opposition is just being dramatic, but to not oppose what is happening is to just succumb to the situation.

It seems like the world has just become a bunch of complacent people who don't want to make any waves. Those who know how to take advantage of this complacency just cruise through life. And everyone else around them just finally give up because they get tire of beating their head against the wall. I feel like I am a bleating sheep, but is seems as if no one is listening.

I begin to wonder: Am I the crazy one?

Saturday, September 05, 2009

You're Welcome!

James 2:1-17

One time, I was at a conference where the speaker was talking about Welcoming Congregations. He said that he has never met a congregation that did not consider itself welcoming. He said that every congregation, when asked to describe themselves, would say that they were “Welcoming.” It wouldn’t matter what the emotional temperature of the congregation was, they always saw themselves as warm and welcoming.

Truthfully, I don’t think he is too far off. Most people would not want to think of themselves as cold an aloof. And also, I don’t think that the congregations were lying, they probably truly think they are warm and welcoming. And for every congregation out there, there is probably a group of people who, upon entering the congregation, feel warmly welcomed.

Knowing that most congregations will say they are welcoming, when I interview in a congregation, I will purposely ask the question, “How would you describe your congregation?” But I always put a stipulation on the question; the people have to describe the congregation without using the words “warm” or “welcoming.” It is interesting to watch the wheels turn as they process what this actually means. Most congregations are quick to toss out the old saw that they are a “Welcoming Congregation,” but often they cannot go beyond that to tell me exactly what they mean by “welcoming.”

Being welcoming is such an interesting concept. Being welcomed is how we know that we are part of the group or how we know if we are outsiders. If we enter a new place and we feel truly welcomed, we know that this is a place for us. If we find a place that is “nice” but not welcoming, then we know that this is not the place for us. How a person is welcomed has a lot to do with whether a person will return or will stay away.

Welcoming is also an important concept for us as Christians. It is in how we welcome those who are new in our midst that we show the world the love of Christ. And it is in how we welcome those whom we have disagreements and anger that we share Christ’s love with each other. When we are welcoming, as Christ would welcome, we are letting people know that they are part of the “in group,” part of Christ’s promise. But if we give a cool welcome, we also send a message that Christ’s love is not for these people.

In the epistle reading for today, James talks about how we live out our faith in our lives. He especially focuses on how and who we welcome. Do we welcome only those who fit our stereotype of a “good” person? Do we only welcome those whom we know? Do we reach out in warmth and love to those whom we may not find comfortable? Or do we just treat them with cool kindness.

Christ welcomed all people to his table. He welcomed the rich and the poor. He welcomed the noble born and the lowly. Jesus called as his disciples the simple fishers, the tax collectors, and the physicians. Jesus did not only pick those who were well healed or the most respectable. Jesus knew that all people needed to be welcomed, needed to feel part: Needed to belong. This is the example that we are given and the example we are to follow. But how do we do this? How can we know?

Something that may help us to assess how we can go about welcoming is to look at our Vision Statement. You may not have noticed it, but it has been on our bulletin for some time now! If you look you will find it right on the bottom. It says, “To spread the joy of Christ’s love through prayer and Christian action.” What that statement is, is the guide for all of our actions as a church. In everything we do, we should be asking ourselves if these actions are in keeping with our vision statement. From the way the ushers greet people to the way the building looks should be influenced by this statement. How is the way we welcome people an expression of our Vision Statement? How is the way we welcome each other an expression of our Vision Statement? Is the way we are presenting ourselves to the world in keeping with our vision?

But something else that would help us to be truly welcoming Christians is to have a true understanding of ourselves. Who are we as a congregation? What are our concerns for ourselves and for our community? What do we present to a nonbelieving world? These are important questions. If we do not look at them intentionally, they will just be answered haphazardly. If we are not intentional about answering the questions about WHO and WHOSE we are, we are saying that these questions are unimportant and the world will notice. But if we intentionally answering these questions, we become more comfortable with ourselves and in return, can become more welcoming.

We are called to reach out beyond our own doors and beyond our own comfort zones. We are called to reach out to the people of the world who need to find the love and support of God. In seminary, we were always reminded that the church is NOT for the people who are within the walls; the church is a body that is to reach out to those beyond the walls. As Christians, we are called to bring the light to even the darkest corners.

James reminds us that we probably are not going to find people who “look like us” in these dark corners. We are going to find those people who are different. But even those who are different need to know about Christ’s love; maybe even more so! Would we rather have our sanctuary sing with a multitude and variety of voices or echo in emptiness? If we want it to sing, we need to look at all aspects of our church life. We need to look at our worship. We need to look at ourselves.

This won’t be easy, but we will not be alone in the process. We have Christ, the great leader, teacher, and Savior. We have the Spirit guiding and encouraging us. We have our Lord God creating a way for us to go!

We are called to be a place of rest, a place of sanctuary, a place of growth, and a place of peace. We are called to be a place of joy and a place where people can find joy. We are Christians and we are called to be welcoming, love filled presence to the world.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Eulogy for a Poodle

It is kind of weird, having Amber put down is effecting me much more than having Madeline put down. There are several reasons I think this is. One is that dogs are much more part of the "pack" than are cats. Amber would run to the door when you would come in. Claudia actually runs away when the door opens.

I see things of Amber's, her bowls, her leashes, even the container that kept her food. When I see them, I begin to get teary eyed. She was my hiking buddy. She would go bounding through the tall grass. Even when she couldn't see over the grass she would just go, she was always ready to go.

Even thought she was Nick's dog, Amber was an equal-opportunity lover. She was willing cuddle up to anyone.

But she is gone now.

It is just getting to be too much. Between job stress, money problems, idiot coworkers, and now two pets gone. I am feeling like I am losing it and afraid I may never find it again.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Gay Amish

Sorry! No picture!

I was driving on some back roads last Sunday when I saw it! A GAY AMISH! A group of Amish boys (teens) were playing volleyball in the yard. There were wearing black pants and suspenders and white shirts; EXCEPT ONE! He was wearing black pants and suspenders and a PINK shirt! And he looked FABULOUS!