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Archive for May, 2011

How is it Possible?

How is it possible?

To celebrate the success of my 6 1/2 month old *almost* crawling to reach his ball today… And yet, hold sadness because these days are slipping away too quickly

How is it possible?

To look into the beautiful eyes and realize he has changed once again… while longing for the newborn I held so closely to my heart on November 5th

Time has always seem too pass more quickly now that I’m an adult. Being a parent, it’s like it is whizzing by and I can’t make it stop. How is it possible that we’ve almost been in Macon a year? How is it possible that in 1/2 a year will be celebrating my son’s first birthday? It’s all passing too quickly.

He’s teething this week which has meant: lack of sleep, restless sleep when it has occurred, LOTS of drooling, whining, & all the other things that come with teething (Ahemmm… ) And there’s part of me that longs to feel those pearly whites peeking through his pink gums but there’s a part of me that wants to deny we’re already at that point.

It just can’t be possible. He’s growing up too fast.

picture taken from my iphone

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The last few years of ministry, I have found myself working with people living with a mental illness. The first time I was assigned to the mental health unit of Atlanta’s women’s prison, I was surprised. Perhaps, the greatest surprise for me was the sense of peace I had when working alongside these women struggling to make sense of God, their illness, their world, and incarceration. Then there was Gloria Jean, the homeless woman who wandered the halls of our church & made her presence known in worship. She challenged my own faith and belief systems while sharing her revelations. During my CPE residency, I was invited as the chaplain to lead a spirituality group with our veterans struggling with severe mental illness. I developed a study guide (which I hear is somewhat still used today) for our veteran population in incorporating spirituality into their recovery process.

Why? Why have I been so drawn to this work?

Is it because of my own personal history of the struggle to find balance in health & wellness? For me, at various points in my life, it involved seeing a therapist regularly, exercise, and meditation. When I finally realized I needed to find someone (therapist) to talk to about life, I had to overcome a lot of personal stigma about folks who sought out therapy. Is my attraction connected to helping break down the walls of stigma? maybe.

Does it have to do with the connection between spirituality and a mental health diagnosis? There seems to be a fine line. In the religious community, we freely talk about “hearing God’s voice” yet when we talk about people hearing voices they need help. Do you see the difficulty in this?

I have often wondered if there was more to this story in my past history that I had yet to discover. In a recent conversation with my grandmother, I realized that my great grandmother lived with some significant mental illness throughout her life. The therapy for her was treatment centers where “shock” therapy was often used. It’s painful for me to even think about this but it’s true. The other family truth is that most of us considered her a really mean woman. I wonder today how much her the personality we knew of her was related to her illness or more importantly, how she had been treated for the illness.

I know that the month of May is almost over. But, will you take the time to look through some of these websites to find information, resources that might be helpful to you or your family members? The statistics show that 1 in 4 people struggle with mental illness & 1 in 17 struggle with severe mental illness.

What are ways you can help:

– Read about information & resources available

– Don’t be afraid to ask for help & don’t judge others who ask for help

– Watch your language. We throw around the word “crazy” and “schizophrenic” in every language. Be mindful of the words you use.

– A person may live with a disease or an illness but they are NOT the disease and illness. There is a difference.

Websites to check out:

http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/may

www.nami.org

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Our Preschool Minister at church recently asked me to write an article for our church newsletter on the lessons of motherhood and what Parker is teaching me. Several of you (mostly Pam!) saw comments about it on facebook and so I thought I’d post it over here too.

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This month, we’ll celebrate six months since Parker drew his first breath of life into this world. The last six months have radically changed my life. These moments have been full of blessings & joys. We’ve also faced (and conquered) unexpected illnesses. I’m remembering the college habit of what it means to function on very little sleep. I’ve learned that multi-tasking with a baby at your side requires extra skills. My growing son is teaching me something new about myself each day.

Being Parker’s mom has been another lesson in relinquishing control, a life lesson that I find difficult. It’s also encouraged me to let my own high achieving expectations go. In the midst of these lessons, we struggle to find a common ground from which to understand each other. Most recently, during a particularly fitful crying episode that I’d like to blame on teething (simply because that seems to work when all other causes are eliminated) I decided we’d load up in the car and go for a drive. My mostly mild mannered child who loves to ride in the car screamed louder while resisting and fighting me to get strapped in his seat. Exhausted and frustrated that I could not meet his needs, I collapsed into the floor in front of him in a tear-filled moment of my own. I thought to myself, “What kind of mother am I?”

In spite of my doubts that day and others that follow, each night Parker confirms I’m the right mother for him as he curls up into my arms. It’s in these moments as he settles down to snuggle before drifting off to sleep, that God quietly reminds me that in His grace I am enough. I’m not perfect (someone remove this from the archives so Parker can’t remind me of this when he’s a teenager) but I am the mother for Parker. And in each new discovery, the promises of God and His love for me are displayed through my growing baby boy.

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