Playing House

I’ve been here a week. First, we lived in the Residence Inn, then moved to an apartment a few days ago. “It’s like camping,” my husband says. Or playing “house.”

In getting ready to move, I packed up my things – my shorts, my favorite tank tops and some t-shirts and jeans, several pairs of shoes, my travel bathroom supplies, and my pillows. I gathered my Bible and study, my electronics and knitting bag, my Kindle and some coloring pencils and books. I tried to guess what we would need for the next couple of months, and we loaded up the stuff and the kitty and drove from Florida to Virginia. We left our furniture and most of our belongings behind. We hope it won’t be long before our house there sells and we can settle in here.

In the meantime, the kitty and I will spend our days in this two bedroom apartment, while my husband works a few miles away. It’s a nice place, and feels very open and roomy. The furniture is sparse but comfortable.

I plan to use my time to explore the area, try to learn my way around town, and hike in the mountains once a week.  I have little confidence that I will find a ladies’ Bible Study – they often break for the summer. Still I’ll look, maybe starting with churches where we might like to attend. I plan to write regularly – either blogging or personally – and hope to be disciplined about it! I’ll go to the pool, which doesn’t come close to the spa-pool of our old neighborhood, but is still sun and water.

I will try to engage with other people several days a week – at least to say “Hi” to someone besides kitty and husband. This may mean that I grocery shop every day, or find a local coffee shop – something to get out of the apartment and with others so I don’t isolate myself.

With very few of my own things, I feel like this is just pretend. I hate to spend money to buy household supplies I already have, but it’s funny to not have my stuff around me. This feels unfamiliar, even unreal. Like playtime, not my new life.

It causes me to stop and evaluate my relationship to “my things.” Firstly, I can see that I own too much stuff, since I only need what I have now. Secondly, nothing is mine – it all belongs to God, and is only on loan for me to use in the first place. So I’ll use this time, this opportunity, to test what is really important. It’s not stuff. It’s relationships. And the closest ones I have now are God and my husband. I guess that’s where I’ll spend my time and attention. I suspect that’s what God has in mind anyway.

 

Peaceful Street Scene

This time of year, the roads in the local area are crowded with thousands of snowbirds who have come here for winter. There are cars everywhere!

Turning into a friend’s neighborhood, the peace that these trees bring to the empty street makes me sigh out loud with relief.

no traffic!
no traffic!

Too many people, too many traffic lights, too many cars, too many stores and restaurants – stop and go – too much noise. Around me and within me. My head can be just as busy as the roads – full of thoughts, ideas, ponderings, pressures all vying for the foremost of my attention.

And then I spend time with God, and it’s like turning off the main road and onto a quiet side street – peaceful, calm, a deep breath of cleansing air. Rest from the chaos of the world, from the chaos in my mind. His rest.

(Jesus to his disciples:) Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28

 

Telling Time in Florida

There’s (barely) a downside to living in paradise – no changing leaves, no completely clouded skies, no ice cold breezes, no snow in the air. No visual calendar to keep track of time.

I’ve lived with four seasons all of my life. At least, until this past March. And I’ve been confused as to what month it is ever since!

Shortly after we moved to Florida, I saw a road construction alert sign warning that work would begin May 1st. I couldn’t seem to remember that was just a few weeks away. It felt like mid-summer.  I mean, every day was sunny and warm – how was I to keep track?!

I knew summer was here when the morning temperatures started in the upper 70s with 100% humidity and just got warmer from there. But I’d handled heat and humidity in the Midwest, so that wasn’t completely new. What was different was the fact that those super warm temperatures lasted until mid-November! It rained last Sunday morning, and when the clouds cleared, the weather did too.

Now I forget it’s November – when I look outside, I’m sure it’s early June. The temperatures are beautiful, the humidity is manageable, and we have all the windows and doors open again. I’m grateful for the countdown-to-Christmas signs, because I have no visual clues that Christmas is 26 days away! I’ve never needed those placards before now.

Yesterday at the beach, as I floated in the Gulf’s waves under sunny skies with puffy white clouds, I thanked God for the opportunity to live here. It’s like I live in a picture postcard, and I am truly blessed.

 

 

Day after Thanksgiving Gratitude

Thanksgiving Day 2015 was the first major holiday in 23+ years where the celebration was just me and my hubby. And it was a wonderful day.

Of course, I missed my kids and my extended family. And I am grateful beyond words for safe travels for my children as they drove to spend the day with a wonderful friend – she just took them in and added them to her holiday chaos and family and fun.  It was good to Facetime with the kiddos, but it will be better to see them in person in just a few weeks!

Yesterday morning I woke to the kitten’s antics – as always. Even when she has food, she seems to think that I only need 7 hours of sleep, so she starts our morning warm-up with nuzzles and purring and climbing on me and kneading her little claws into the back of my leg. I want to let my husband sleep in, so ok, I’m up!

I spent some quiet time with God, read through emails and blog posts and Facebook, had coffee, journaled a little. Our morning was pretty lazy – I read, blogged, knitted. We went to the pool and hung out for a bit. After having the pool area closed all summer, it’s so nice to have it open again, and to be able to relax in this place. I can’t believe this is in my neighborhood and not at some secluded spa!

lap and spa pool
lap and spa pools

I don’t write this to brag – it’s just that I love living in Florida – the warm weather and sunny skies bring me such pleasure! I get in the pool, the sun warming me, and lay back and look at fluffy clouds and palm trees in my periphery. Ahh! I feel so peaceful and content.

When we got hungry, we came back home and made a non-traditional Thanksgiving meal. Surf and Turf with Key Lime Pie for dessert – couldn’t get less typical for us.

Surf and Turf Thanksgiving 2015

    Surf and Turf Thanksgiving 2015

We’ll save the ham and sweet potatoes and green bean casserole and pumpkin and apple pies for Christmas – it will be good to share family tradition with the kids again.  Maybe they’ll let us add the key lime pie to our holiday dinner routine!

We enjoyed the rest of the day outside on the lanai (back screened patio) and watched a TV series until bedtime. Overall, a very nice day.

I thank God for family. For my husband. For my children. For friends far (most of them) and near (a few new ones). For good food. For sunny and warm skies. For my physical and mental health. For mental health help – my therapists, my psychiatrists. For writing and blogging and for blogging friends. For freedom to worship God without fear of persecution. For devotionals and journals and nice pens. For my computer. For my kitten. For beach towels and pool noodles. For my home. For life.

Hope

(Blogging University, Writing 101 assignment: One Word Prompt – HOPE)

Hope – a missing key ingredient for me when battling depression.

  • no hope that the pain will ever end / the pain will never end
  • no hope that I will ever feel better / I will never feel better
  • no hope that anyone will understand / no one will understand
  • no hope that anything will change / nothing will change

Notice how the first part of the bullet points use the words “ever” and “any.” Or the rephrase (after the / ) with ” never,” “no one,” and “nothing.” Extreme words. Leaving no wiggle room. Implying that there is no hope for a normal life.

When I first admitted to friends that I was suffering from depression, my best friend sent me a card with this verse in it: “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13, NLT. A week or two later, another dear friend sent a note with this same verse written on it.  Shortly after that, I read this verse in a devotional. By now, I was saying “Ok, God, I’m listening. You want to tell me something about hope. What’s that verse again?”

It was a hard message to grasp, because the nature of the depression is hopelessness. And when my therapist first asked me what I wanted out of therapy, I told him that I wanted my joy back; I wasn’t even thinking about hope. But when he asked me if I felt hopeless, the answer was a resounding yes. Hopeless – without hope. Somehow, I didn’t make the connection for a long time that I was without hope. I instead knew I was without joy and life was hopeless. But I couldn’t see that I was experiencing hopelessness. I just knew I had no joy and was without hope of that ever changing.

Yet here is this Bible verse that addresses both hope and joy. And peace (which I would eventually need when anxiety joined the depression party). So what does the verse say?

God is the source of all hope. It comes from Him. And because I trust Him, he wants to fill me completely – to the brim – with joy and peace. And when that happens, through the Holy Spirit, I will have confident hope – so much hope that it spills over – it overflows.

Wow. A powerful promise to a hopelessly depressed woman.

And God kept that promise. Over time, as He restored my joy and peace, the hopelessness left. I began to be confident that the future wasn’t so bleak. I began to feel lighter, more hopeful. Eventually the day came that I could share my hope of healing with others who found themselves depressed, hopeless. It overflowed from me.

Now, if I find myself thinking about me or my life using those extreme words, I look more closely to see if I’m also feeling hopeless. That’s a huge indicator that depression is trying to enter my life and rob my joy again.  And while depression may try, I can remain hopeful. God is the source of all hope, I trust Him, and He loves me.