Category Archives: Purpose

The Places You’ll Go

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Two weeks ago I returned home from Toronto after a week of Pre-Departure training with TEAM, the organization I am partnered with to be a missionary in the Czech Republic. This was a week I had been praying for and anticipating for months. I was looking forward to connecting with friends I’d made at my Missionary Orientation, as well as TEAM staff, making new friends, and taking the next steps in my training.

The week did not disappoint. Although it did go a little faster than I would have liked.

It was cool to have this training in Toronto, a city that love and spent many years in. I had fun introducing my American friends to Tim Hortons, All Dressed chips and poutine. We got a chance to experience the diversity of this amazing city through food, and more food.

I got to meet more amazing people who are giving up their lives to go out in the world and make disciples through church planting, music, sports, and simply building relationships. Soon we will all be spread throughout the world, sharing the gospel and spreading the love of our Lord.

It is so exciting to be a part of.

It’s amazing to hear the stories of everyone and learn how God called them to their respective missionary locations. And it’s inspiring to see so many walking in obedience to God. He has called everyone to a different place – whether it be Japan, France, Guatemala, Mexico, Africa, Spain, Asia – and He has called us each for a specific purpose. To further His Kingdom.

I was (and still am) humbled and honoured to be among these incredible people.

I know when I am on the field, and I face times of struggle and trial, these will be the people I reach out to. And I pray they will reach out to me in their times of need.

Even though we only spent that short time together, we are forever connected as we each set out to fulfill God’s mission in our lives.

All of us will experience things that can only be understood by others who have been in the mission field.

All of us are giving up everything we know, and everything that is comfortable, to share the love of Jesus.

And while our individual struggles may differ depending on the country we’re going to, whether we’re single or married, and what our specific ministry will be, there are common challenges we are all sure to experience.

In our training we talked a lot about cultural values and cultural intelligence. We talked about personal bias and how easy it can be for us to be judgemental when faced with something different. We’ll each face difficulties in language learning, adjusting to cultural norms in our new homes, and dealing with homesickness.

But as long as we know we are fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives, and we trust His path instead of trying to find our own, we will be fine.

We will all commit a cultural faux pas at some point. And we’ll have embarrassing and frustrating stories to share regarding language learning. We’ll have days full of tears where we’re desperate to return home. And we’ll have moments of satisfaction when we can finally order a coffee properly in our host country’s language.

And there will be moments of pure joy – that moment when someone we’ve been building a relationship with, someone who previously didn’t know or care to know Jesus, declares that they believe.

In that moment, all of the cultural mistakes, the frustrations of language learning, and the tears of homesickness, will be worth it.

That’s what we are doing this for.

We are here for God. For His glory. To build His Kingdom.

Throughout the last 8 months of this process – through the highs and lows of fundraising and sharing my calling – I have asked God many times, “Why me?”

I’m not a pastor or a teacher. I’m not a counsellor. I’ve made lots of mistakes. I’ve done things I’m ashamed of. I’m overly sensitive and take things too personally. I’m not great in large groups. I can be anti-social. Sometimes, I have a temper.

I am imperfect.

I am so very flawed.

I am also saved.

I am forgiven.

I am loved.

And I want everyone else to know that they are too.

And that is why me.

 

 

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Joys and Challenges

DesignI haven’t written on here in a while. Life has been a bit of a whirlwind as I continue to move forward as a Missionary Appointee of TEAM. There have been lots of ups and downs as I prepare to move to the other side of the world to do God’s work. As my time to move to the Czech Republic gets closer each day, my excitement for this journey increases, as I also recognize, and prepare myself for, leaving behind everything I know.

The joys that have come out of this process have been too many to count. Number one is, without a doubt, the chance to share God’s incredible love and power through what He is doing in my life.

My life has changed drastically over the last decade – from the girl the who spent days in bed due to depression, and would, at times, stand at her front door for hours because her anxiety wouldn’t allow her to open it and walk through – to the woman who is on fire for Jesus and is being sent half way across the world to share the gospel. And I take zero credit for this transformation.

I can tell you: Nothing is impossible with God. God is GOOD!

God took the broken mess that I was and transformed me from the inside out.

How do I thank Him for that?

One way to honour His grace and mercy in my life is to obey Him. So when He said, “I want you to go to the Czech Republic as a full time missionary”, I said “Ok.”

And here I am, almost a year later since He first called me to this.

Another incredible joy has been the people I have gotten to meet and connect with as I have engaged in support raising and training.

My fellow missionaries, whom I met at Missionary Orientation, who have become friends and family, and who I am cheering on as they all prepare to go to their respective countries.

The staff at TEAM, who have been unbelievably supportive and available at all times for any needs, questions or care.

I have had the privilege of meeting new people within my church community as I share God’s calling on my life at small groups, ministry groups, and during a Sunday morning sermon.

I have been able to meet with people within my community who have a connection to the Czech Republic, such as a Kingsville pastor who spent many years in ministry in Prague. He has shared his knowledge of Czech, the people and the needs that are there, as well as offered advice on living there, and connected me with people who currently reside in and around Prague.

Yes, God is good.

I have been blown away by the generosity of people throughout the first 3+ months of support raising. There are so many who have partnered with me because they believe in what God has called me to. There are people I have never met who have become monthly partners or one time donors because they heard me speak at church or heard about me through my friends or family.

Yes, God is good.

But I am not going to pretend these past few months have not had challenges. Support raising has been steady, but it has also been more difficult than I expected. In the past I have only done short term trips, where I needed a specific amount of money (usually $2000-3500), and support raising for ongoing monthly partners is quite different.

I am also very good at getting in my own way. I am still mastering the art of patience, and still learning to let go of control. Daily I need to remind myself that I am NOT in control. God has this – He started it and He is going to provide. It’s not about me.

Hopefully one day I’ll get it. Until then, I will continue to remind myself.

I am also starting to think about things that I am leaving behind. I am trying to process as much as I can now, and start the greiving process, in the hopes that it will help when I actually leave.

I am facing the fact that I won’t be here for my nephew’s 5th birthday or my niece’s 7th. I won’t be here when my other nephew graduates middle school, or when my older niece turns 16.

There will be many family gatherings without me. I won’t be able to grab dinner with my parents, or take my sister’s kids to the movies. Friends will get married and have babies, and start new jobs, and I’ll watch from afar.

It’s going to be challenging. There will be times of struggle.

But I am not going to change my mind about going.

I still have no fear about moving to the other side of the world.

I am not going to slow this process down for a minute.

Why?

Because God said “go”. He is making a long time dream of mine real.

He is the one who brought me out of darkness, and changed me from the inside out.

He is the one who promised to never leave me.

He is the reason I need to go to the Czech Republic because His unending love is so amazing and so powerful that I have to share it with the Czech people.

Wherever He leads, I will follow.

Because He is the one who saved me.

So I will embrace all of the joys and all of the challenges.

I will miss the family gatherings and birthdays and celebrations that happen while I am gone. I will miss the weddings and babies and graduations.

Because it’s not about me.

There are people suffering because they don’t know God. There are people without hope because they haven’t opened their hearts to His love.

How can I stay in my comfortable life when He asks me to go?

Everyone has a calling in life, a purpose He has given you.

Mine is to go out into the world and make disciples.

But I am not doing it alone. Everyone who has partnered with me in prayer and monthly or one time givings is going with me. All of my loved ones are going with me. And most importantly, God is going with me.

If He is for me, who can’t stand against me?

I invite you to check out my profile page on TEAM. And if you are interested in supporting my missions, you can click on ‘Give Now’.

https://team.org/about/profile/1638

 

 

When God Calls

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I started this blog over 4 years ago. My original intention was to write about my struggle with mental illness and how I stay happy and healthy despite my disease. I called it Experience Each Day because I wanted to highlight the importance of living each day to the best of our abilities. It is also a reminder not just to live each day, but to experience each day, and embrace all that we encounter, both good and bad.

The blog has evolved and changed over the years to become more than about living with depression. It’s been about life lessons, hope, faith, joy, passion and what really matters in this crazy world. But experiencing each day is still the substance of each post.

In the last couple of months I’ve been writing about my journey into missions. I am moving to the Czech Republic to be a full time missionary.

This was not something that was on my radar a year ago.

I’ve had a heart for missions for many years, and always hoped I would one day do it full time, but of all the places I imagined going, the Czech Republic never crossed my mind. I didn’t even know there was a need there until recent years.

Then God set out steps to get me there on a short term mission last summer. And it was there He revealed His calling for me. The Czech Republic is where He wants me.

So I said  “ok.”

I immediately began the application process with TEAM (www.team.org), and haven’t looked back since.

Once I was accepted and began sharing what I was doing, many people told me I was brave.

Am I brave?

No, I don’t think I am.

I’m obedient to God’s calling, not brave.

Brave is the person who faces a cancer diagnosis with hope and faith. Brave is the woman who testifies against the one who sexually assaulted her. Brave are the students who refuse to back down against the fight for gun control.

No, I’m not brave. I’m going to a beautiful and safe country where I get to tell people about the love of Jesus.

I am blessed.

Something else I’ve heard a lot since I began this journey, “You must be nervous.”

No, not really.

This has been orchestrated and controlled by God from the beginning. Why would I be nervous?

To this people say, “But you’re going all alone – that must be hard.”

I’m not going alone.

I am in the process of building a team who will be supporting me throughout this adventure. I am going to work with other missionaries who are already in Czech. TEAM, the organization sending me, has provided enormous support in training, mentors, advice, direction, prayer and preparation for my transition.

And I’ve got this incredible group of people that I met at my Missionary Orientation, all of whom are going out into the world to share the love of Jesus. It’s amazing that this group of strangers from all over North America came together for one week and instantly felt connected because we each had a calling to be missionaries. Now we get to support each other, pray for each other and cheer each other on as we each follow the path laid out for us.

I am definitely not doing this alone.

And even if I didn’t have all that I’ve mentioned, I still would not be alone. This is the road God chose for me and He will travel it with me.

When God calls us, He is calling us to join Him. He is inviting us to experience His special purpose for our lives. And He’s going to walk with us the whole way.

See, I’m not brave. I’m not nervous. I’m not alone.

I’m blessed.

God called me to do this.

Why me? That is the question.

I’m not special. I’m not a pastor or a teacher. I can’t easily get up in front of a crowd and give an epic speech. I’m not gifted at hospitality or making friends quickly. I’m no good at small talk and don’t do well in large groups.

I don’t have any spectacular talents. There is nothing that makes me more qualified to do this over someone else. In fact, I am certain there are many many many others that would be better to do this than me.

But God called me and I am choosing to listen. I am choosing to obey. Because if He is calling me, then He will equip me with all I need to succeed.

While I may not be a pastor or a teacher, and I may not be the life of the party or the most popular person in the room, I do know how to love fiercely. I am a good listener, a great encourager, and a loyal friend. I am caring, kind and fun. Some even think I’m funny.

And more than anything I want to share the unbreakable joy and ever-lasting peace I have because Jesus loved me enough to die for me.

And that is enough.

He is enough.

Again I think back to when I first started this blog. It was something God asked me to do. He called me to be a voice for those suffering from mental illness.

Now He calls me to be a missionary.

When God calls, I answer.

What an incredible gift He has given me, to go to the Czech Republic to bring more people to Him. And if He is for me, who can stand against me?

Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations…Matthew 28:19

 

Time

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Time is an amazing thing. It is one of the few things in this world that is constant and reliable, yet it often appears to change its pace.

One day time may move so slowly that I would swear the minutes were moving backwards; then suddenly time is soaring and I look back at weeks gone by and wonder where they went.

I look at my little niece and nephew and pray desperately for time to slow down. They are growing rapidly and there is not enough time to savour each moment of their lives and their growth.

Occasionally I visualize upcoming adventures and I am suddenly looking for time to sprint ahead. I want the hours to move quicker as I await an exciting future experience.

Time can never win with all of the indecisiveness of humans. We are constantly frustrated by it moving too slow or we’re unnerved by its rapid pace.

But the thing about time is that it is consistent, unlike most things on earth. Time never changes what it is. It’s our perception of it that keeps changing.

It’s our own impatience that makes it feel too slow.

It’s our fear and inabiłity to keep up that makes it feel accelerated.

Time is constant and steady.

Time keeps moving forward even if we decide to stop.

Time doesn’t try to catch up if we choose to speed ahead.

Time is stable, but it is also unforgiving.

Time never goes back. No matter how much we beg for a rewind, it keeps ticking forward.

Time that has passed will never come back. We cannot recapture moments or bank them for future use. Once time is used, it never appears again.

Time is unrelenting. In our darkest moments, it does not pause for us. It doesn’t take a break when we get sick or hurt. It doesn’t stop for pain or suffering, for war or celebration, for love or anger. It keeps trekking on.

There is much we can learn from time.

Time teaches us to continue moving forward; no matter the pain or struggle, we need to keep going. The hope is that the next moment will be better than the last.

If time gets caught in a hurricane, it keeps moving toward the rainbow after the storm.

If time is lost in darkness, it ticks forward to the sunrise.

Time teaches us to always move ahead.

And because time is always taking the next step, it also teaches us the value of each moment. Once a second has passed, it’s gone forever.

For time, the past is history. There is no moving backwards. There is no rewind. It is up to us to make each minute count. It is up to us not to waste the time we are given. Time is immortal, but we are not.

So, what are you going to do with each minute, each second?

How are you using the time you are given?

I can admit that I don’t use all of my time wisely. I’ve wasted time – I’ve let it slip away from me. I’ve had experiences where I have stopped dead and let time pass me by.

I can’t get that lost time back. But I know that moving forward, I don’t want to continue letting time slip by me. I don’t want to miss moments. I don’t want to miss opportunities. I don’t want anymore of my time wasted.

We all get a certain amount of time in this world. None of us know what amount we receive. I don’t want to be at death’s door wishing I had used my time more effectively. When I leave this earth I want to do so peacefully, knowing that I did the best I could with the time I had.

I want to know that my time here had a purpose; I want to know I used it to make a positive difference in the world.

No matter how much time each of us has here, I am certain we are all here for a specific purpose. Each of us is here for an important reason, although we may not know that reason until many years into our lives.

All I know is that I don’t want to leave this world with my purpose for being here unfulfilled.

Do you?

Each day I am actively and openly trying to determine the purpose I have been given. I am observing and listening, and I am doing my best to follow the path I feel I am being led on.

Are you using your time wisely?

Are you fulfilling your purpose?

 

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Voiceless

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Based on my title, you may think I’m about to write a meaningful, deep blog on those in the world who don’t have a voice due to where they live, their gender, the colour of their skin, their economic status or their religion. While that is a huge topic that does not get nearly enough attention, it is not what I am writing about today.

Today is about my current experience with being voiceless. Literally voiceless.

Last week I developed a nasty cold. I should have taken a few days to rest and stay in bed, but I took lots of medication, still went to work every day and carried on with my normal activities. I thought I was starting to get better by the end of the week.

Then Sunday I spent most of the day in bed, exhausted and nursing a horrible sore throat, fever and headache. On Monday I woke up with a hoarse voice and a ridiculous cough that would act up suddenly and take minutes to calm down.

By Wednesday my voice was gone, my throat still sore and the cough worse, so I finally went to get checked out.

I learned that I have laryngitis, and the only treatment for it is to rest my vocal cords. This means I can’t talk. For 7 days.

That’s pretty extreme. Not talking for an entire week – is that even possible? It’s definitely difficult given that I lead a team of people at work who depend on me for direction, and I work with customers. It’s hard to help a customer when I can’t speak.

Even if I wanted to ignore the doctor’s advice and talk, not much sound would come out anyway. My current voice is hoarse, raspy and so quiet that most can’t hear me. As one of my team members said, I’d be perfect for an anti-smoking PSA right now.

I don’t want this to linger any longer than necessary, so I am listening to the doctor and I will be talking as little as possible for the next week.

It’s weird to not be able to talk. Someone says hello and I can only respond with a smile and a wave. The clerk at Shoppers asks if I want a bag and I can only nod. Someone on my team asks what needs to be done next and I explain through gestures and pointing.

It’s interesting to try and communicate without words and sound. It’s a brand new experience, and it’s made me think about those who are permanently unable to use their voices, as well as those who don’t have things the rest of us take for granted, like sight, hearing and the ability to walk.

My admiration for those who deal with these disabilities daily has skyrocketed. The rest of us run through our days never giving a second thought to how difficult it must often be for those who can’t talk or hear or see.

Not only do we take these amazing abilities for granted, we often use them for the negative. Our voices speak complaints, gossip, anger, and harsh things about others. Our eyes judge and condemn those around us. Our ears take in the gossip, criticism and judgement of others.

I’m not saying this is all we do, but I am saying we do it too much. Myself included.

Not having my voice has made me think about how I use it.

Do I use it to build others up or knock them down?

Do I use it to express love or anger?

Do I use to spread joy or sorrow?

Is what I’m saying worth saying?

Are my words positive or negative?

Although I do use my voice for mostly positive, I can’t deny that it’s been used for the negative as well. I’ve used my voice to complain, to criticize, to judge, to hurt, to lie, and to shout in anger.

And I don’t want to anymore.

When my voice comes back to me, I want to remember what it was like to not be able to speak. I want to think before I speak and be aware of how what I am going to say may affect others.

I want my voice to encourage, to care, to love, to inspire, to compliment, to celebrate, to stand up for what I believe in, to stand up for others, and most importantly, to spread joy.

I am very lucky.

My voice may be gone now, but it will come back. I plan to be more careful about how I use it.

A voice is an incredibly powerful thing.

Use it wisely.

One Shot

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In the last little while, a lot of things have reminded me that life is short. We think we have all the time in the world to do what we want to do, to achieve our goals, to take that next step, to finally be happy. Each day, we say we will do it tomorrow.

But we forget that life is short.

My friend in Toronto has a cousin who just lost her father and three young children when their car was hit by a drunk driver.

Someone I have known for many years is coming to terms with a cancer diagnosis.

Life is short.

You see, we go about our lives thinking there is always more time. But we are not promised tomorrow or next week or next month or next year.

All we have is right now. All we have is today.

And these reminders of how short life is have made me realize that I don’t want to waste today. I want to live every day like it is my last.

I spent years in jobs that made me miserable, where I’d go home in tears or completely frustrated. I’ve spent time with people who put me down or treated me poorly. I’ve been in relationships with people who weren’t right for me or who didn’t appreciate me. I’ve let people stomp all over me and take advantage of me.

From each of these situations, good has come. I have learned from them, grown from them and become stronger because of them. Most importantly I’ve decided that I don’t want to waste time by being in those situations anymore.

I’d rather make next to nothing in a job I love than make lots of money in a job that results in my misery. I’d rather be single and happy than with someone who makes me feel small and unworthy. I’d rather stand up for myself and deal with any backlash than let someone use me as their door mat.

My biggest fear is wasting time. Wasting time worrying, or obsessing over what others think of me. Wasting time wishing for something different instead of appreciating and loving what I have. Wasting time with people who make me feel bad instead of giving everything of myself to those who love me.

We only get one shot at this life. It’s up to us to make it as good as it can possibly be, for ourselves and for others.

There is a man I see often at the gym I work at, and he is always in a bad mood. He hardly ever smiles and is constantly complaining. Nothing is ever right, and he seems to hate everyone he comes in contact with.

And I don’t get it.

I don’t understand how someone can be so miserable. I don’t understand why they can’t find some good in life. It sounds like I am judging this person, but I truly am not. I truly just don’t understand.

I know life is hard. It’s complicated. It often doesn’t go the way we think it should. Trust me, I know that very well. I could easily look at some of the things I’ve been through, especially my battle with depression and simply decide that there is no reason to be happy.

But I only get one shot at this life. And I refuse to live it in constant negativity.

Instead I choose to take the hurts, the anger, the betrayals, and the struggles, and learn from them. I choose to allow them to make me stronger, and I allow them to motivate me to create positivity and love and goodness.

When the day comes for me to leave this world, I want to know that I gave it my best shot. I want to know that I took every opportunity that came my way, that I followed my dreams and pursued my goals, that I helped others and gave of myself, that I loved and allowed myself to be loved.

You only get one shot at this life.

On my death bed, I don’t want to look back at my life and regret the chances I didn’t take or the words I didn’t say. I don’t want to regret spending my life with people who weren’t right for me or didn’t make me happy. I don’t want to have had a career that I hated or goals that I let slip away.

You only get one shot at this life.

And although this life is hard, filled with pain and brokenness, we have a choice in how we live it. We can be overcome by sorrow and negativity and spend our time unhappy and living with regret, or we can take the best and leave the rest. We can choose to be happy and learn from the bad. We can choose to surround ourselves with people who bring us joy and build us up. We can choose to build others up and offer a hand to those in need. We can choose to chase our dreams and be the best that we can be.

Because we only get one shot at this life.

Don’t waste it.

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Revelation

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Have you ever had a revelation? A moment when suddenly things make sense? It can feel like someone smacked you on the head and your brain begins to work again. Puzzle pieces that confused and frustrated you before now slide into place as things become clear?

I had a revelation a few nights ago.

It happened while I was reading a book called Kisses from Katie, which is about an American girl who moved to Uganda after graduating high school. Her intention was to only stay for a year, but she fell in the love with the country and the people, particularly the children. She ended up buying a house, and starting an organization to send children to school, as well as feed them. On top of that, she took in and adopted 13 orphan girls and instantly became a mom.

It’s an amazing and inspiring story that I recommend reading. This book has helped me in my faith, as well as providing the revelation I experienced the other night.

Things have not been great with me the last few weeks. In one week, my grandfather passed away and my closest friend in Windsor moved 3 hours away. And I admit that I have had a difficult time recovering from both of these things.

As time went on, my mood continued downward. I was tired and unmotivated to do anything but get up and go to work. I was stressed and lonely, and dangerously close to falling into a depression. I tried hard to fight it by doing all the things I am supposed to do. I made plans to see people and spend time with family. I ate healthy and tried to work out more. But I could not lift my mood.

My mind raced at night with various frustrations and worries. I was restless, but at the same time constantly tired. However, sleep evaded me many nights.

I was doing everything I could to make myself feel better. I wanted to get back to my positive, ‘glass half full’ self. But it felt like it was just out of reach.

Then came the revelation last Wednesday night.

Suddenly I knew exactly why I was feeling down and couldn’t pull myself out of the slump.

I realized that for the last two months I had been living just for me. I was focused on myself and my worries and my stress and my hurts and my disappointments.

I wasn’t doing anything for anyone else.

Life was all about me.

And that’s why I couldn’t pull myself out of my down mood.

I am someone who loves to help and loves to serve. I love to take of others. That is when I feel fulfilled. That is when I am happiest. And I haven’t done that in months.

No wonder things don’t feel right in my world.

I need to get outside of myself and out of my own head. I need to focus on others.

Just to be clear, I am not saying there anything wrong with taking some time to focus on yourself. It is extremely important to take care of yourself and remain healthy. And we all need time when we can step away from the craziness of life to explore our own thoughts, emotions and ambitions.

However, getting completely wrapped up in yourself for too long takes a turn to unhealthy. Being trapped in your own head can cause anxiety and stress, and can lead to things being blown out of proportion.

And focusing on only “me” will result in a feeling of emptiness and loneliness. The more focused I was on myself, the less motivated I became to do anything to improve my situation. I got lost in my own head and couldn’t see beyond my own thoughts.

For example, one of things I have been struggling with is finding good, deep friendships in Windsor. That has left me feeling lonely and desperately wanting to meet people. But I haven’t been doing anything new or different to try to meet people.

What I need to do is pull myself out of my longing for meaningful relationships, and find a organization that I can volunteer for. Chances are, as I focus on helping others, I am naturally going to make new friends with people who are also volunteering.

Once I start co-leading a women’s Bible study at my new church (which is happening in a couple of weeks), I will meet new people and have opportunities to form friendships.

I know once I refocus my attention and pull away from myself, things will begin to fall into place.

I know God hears my prayers and is ready and willing to answer them. I just need to remember the part I have to play to receive my desired answers. He’s been throwing opportunities at me and I’ve been missing them since I was so focused on myself.

I am incredibly grateful for the revelation I received 5 nights ago. It was a wonderful reminder of who I am and why I am here.

I am not here for me.

Creating a Ladder

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My last post on here left a few people worried. That was not my intention and I apologize to those that I made worry. It was a post meant to share what it can be like to be in the middle of depression. One of my life goals is to help others understand what depression is, and to help those who deal with it feel less alone.

My last post made some worry that I was unwell again. I won’t lie – when I wrote it I was having a difficult time. I had a few bad days, one of which was spent in bed, but I pulled myself through and the depression didn’t last long.

I try to tell my loved not to worry about me.

The thing is, I will always have this disease, and I’ve accepted that. There are going to be times when my depression attacks and I fall to the bottom of the well.

But there is no need to worry.

Over the 20+ years that I have dealt this illness, there have been some horrific times, and yes, I have given people reason to worry. I know that. But now I am asking them not to. Because no matter what happens or how dark my world gets at times, I know I will always be ok.

I know this because over the last few years I have created a ladder. This ladder sits in the well and it stretches from the bottom of the pit all the way to the opening at the top. This ladder is why you don’t have to worry.

It took me a long time to create this ladder. It was built through years of struggle, pain, treatments and tears. There were times when the materials I used weren’t quite strong enough and rungs on the ladder broke when I tried to climb.

But the ladder I have now is solid. It is strong. It will not budge.

This ladder is what I use to climb out of the bottom of the well. Sometimes it takes a while for me to attempt that first step. But as I start to climb, I gain strength and I move faster.

Each rung is a step of healing. Each rung takes me farther from the darkness and into the awaiting light.

Getting out of bed is a rung.

So is taking a shower.

And allowing necessary tears to fall.

And asking a friend for prayer.

And writing on my blog or in a journal.

And making a counselling appointment.

And asking for help.

And eating healthy.

And going for a walk.

And talking to someone I trust.

And spending time with loved ones.

And understanding that this disease is not my fault.

And knowing that God has given me the strength to survive the darkness.

And that He has given me the strength to reach the light.

These are all rungs of my ladder. The ladder that takes me from the depths of my depression to health and healing.

I am going to deal with depression for the rest of my life. Mental illness is a reality in my world. I can choose to let it control me, conquer me, destroy me.

Or I can choose to climb the ladder I’ve created. I can choose to climb up out of the well.

Depression is an illness that is part of my life. It is something I will constantly struggle with. But I will not let it be my life.

Instead, every time is knocks me down, I will reach for my ladder, and I will begin the climb back up.

I encourage you to build your ladder. Life is short. Don’t stay at the bottom of the well.

You are worth fighting for.

You are worth the climb.

Childhood Dreams

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My mom was going through some boxes in her basement today and came across the first book I wrote. It was about my dog, Tuffy and it had been ‘published’ at my elementary school in Waterloo. I was 7 when I wrote it.

As I was looking through this short story I wrote and illustrated, it struck me that even at such a young age, writing was something I wanted to do. It was a childhood dream, then a teenage dream, then an adult dream.

We all have so many dreams as children, and they often change multiple times as we grow up. For instance, when I was a pre-teen I wanted to be a dolphin trainer because I was in love with dolphins. That led to me wanting to be a marine biologist (although at the time, I had no idea what that meant; I just wanted to swim with dolphins and whales).

In my early teen years I wanted to be an actress. I felt so invisible in my life, and thought if I could become a famous actress, then people would have to pay attention to me. That eventually led to me wanting to work behind the camera.

As these various dreams flew into my world and then quickly faded away, one dream always stuck. I wanted to write. I didn’t know exactly what kind of writing I wanted to do and I explored all aspects of it – poetry, short story, novel, articles, newspaper, script, etc. I even won a couple of awards in my teen years for my writing.

All I wanted to do was write.

Yet, as I think about the past decade, I wonder where that dream went. It was still there, deep inside me, but it got pushed aside, as so many dreams do when reality hits.

The realities of paying rent, buying food, having a car and just trying to survive take over, and dreams are often forgotten. As we grow into adulthood, responsibilities pile up, and suddenly there’s no time for that childhood dream.

How many people have experienced this? Their dreams pushed to the side when life got real and payments had to be made? How many of us give up on the dreams of our youth?

For a long time, I did. It was never intentional, but life happened and different priorities became important. For me, living in Toronto, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to pay rent as a writer.

And as my career[s] took flight, my time was filled and at the end of the week I was too tired to focus on writing. I also needed to fit in groceries, laundry, cleaning, socializing. And my work week was never a 40 hour week; I was a workaholic and would often stay late or bring it home.

Yes, life happened. And my dream, the one dream I’d held on to since childhood, was put on the back burner.

At 31 years old, I am finally pursuing that childhood dream. I have this blog. I am taking a writing course. And this week I wrote the first chapter of my book.

My writing may never go anywhere. I may never publish my book or write for a big magazine. My mother may be the only one who reads my work. But I have to try. I owe it to that 7 year old girl who wrote a book about her dog.

And I owe it to the 31 year old woman writing this blog. Because I don’t want to get to the end of this life and regret not going after my dream.

Life is short, and it moves so fast. The older I get, the faster it goes. And I want to live the life I’m meant to live.

I’m not meant to sit at a desk answering phones or organizing someone else’s schedule. I’m not meant for logistics or management. If I have to do jobs like these to make ends meet, so be it.

But I am meant to be a writer. That has been my path since I was first able to put words on paper.

I’m chasing my dream. And if it doesn’t work out, that’s ok. At least I tried.

But what if it does work out?

Think about the dreams of your childhood. Think about the dreams you have as an adult. Are you putting them aside? Are you burying them beneath other priorities?

Dig those dreams out, and chase them. Even if you have to work at them at midnight when your family is asleep because that is the only free time you have. Do it.

Don’t look back 30 years from now and regret not trying.

Pursue those childhood dreams.

Goals

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I mentioned in my last post that I don’t do New Years resolutions. I haven’t for a few years. I find resolutions hard to keep because there is no leeway with them. You either do it or you don’t.

One definition of resolution that I found is ‘a firm decision to do or not do something’.

So, an example of a [common] resolution is ‘I am going to work out 5 days a week’. It’s a wonderful resolution as are many others, but if one week you only work out 4 days instead of 5, it can leave you feeling like a failure. And that often leads to giving up the resolution all together.

Resolutions are intimidating, and most people create ones that are nearly impossible to keep.

Again, this leads to a feeling of failure. It discourages you and then you just give up.

I prefer to make goals.

Goals are much friendlier and easier to follow through on because they seem to have less pressure placed on them.

Some would argue that resolutions and goals are the same thing. They are definitely similar, but still quite different.

The definition of goal (from the same place I got the definition of resolution) is ‘the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result’.

So you have resolution (a firm decision), and goal (an aim or desired result).

Goal seems much less scary. It is kinder and feels attainable. There’s a little less pressure and if one week you don’t fulfill your goal of working out 5 days, it’s not a big deal. You’ll just try again next week.

I also don’t believe that goals should be only set at the beginning of a new year. Yes, that is an obvious time to set some goals because moving into a new year can feel like a fresh start.

But we should be making goals throughout the year. Goals should be made monthly, weekly, daily. We should be constantly reaching for something more, a challenge, a way to better ourselves, a way to stretch our minds, a way to get out of our comfort zones.

Since it is the beginning of a new year, a fresh start, I have begun setting goals for myself. Some will be more difficult that others, but I will go after all of them and do my best to achieve them.

I’ve spent the last 3 months trying to heal from a bad breakdown/depression. It has been difficult and it has taken longer than I expected.

But as I’ve worked on healing, I have also been rediscovering myself, and the direction of my life. I am now at a place where I feel strong enough to move forward, to get back out in the world and go after some goals.

So, I thought I’d share some of them. Writing them down for all of you to read will give me more strength to throw myself at them. And if I can encourage or inspire anyone with my goals, that makes any struggles I may face worth it.

1. Write every day. In the last year I have rediscovered my passion for writing. I’ve always wanted to be a writer so it’s time to make an honest go of it. Whether it becomes a career or not, it needs to be a daily part of my life.

2. Finish the writing course I started last year. That got shoved to the side when life got a little crazy. Today I picked up the study materials again.

3. Give back. The last few months I have been focused on myself and getting better. It’s time to get out of my own head and start giving back through my church and through volunteering.

4. Pay off lingering debts. This is a scary one since I don’t have a job right now. But when I am earning money, my goal is to be wiser about what I spend it on and distribute more to debt payments.

5. Growing my church. I began a church gathering in early 2014 and it has been incredible. We have already seen lots of growth. But I look forward to seeing more. I want to be a better leader to those already in the gathering, and I want to bring more people to God.

6. Recognize my own strength. I’ve been through a lot in my 31 years. I look back at some of my struggles and sometimes I am amazed I survived. But then I look at where all of those struggles have brought me, how strong they have made me. The strength given to me by God, and those around me. Sometimes I forget how strong I am.

7. Stop worrying about what others think. This is a tough one for me, and I think for many others. It is one I’ve been working on for a long time. I fear judgement. I want to be liked, to be accepted. When I stopped working, my biggest fear was what people would think of me. But I am learning to say who cares. I know what I think of me. I know what my friends and family think of me. And I know what God thinks of me. That’s all that matters.

8. Appreciate my family and friends more. I have the most amazing family, and the most incredible friends, but I don’t tell them that enough. I want to actively show them how much I love them and appreciate them.

So, those are some of my goals for 2015. Some are carried over from past years; they are goals I want to be continuing to aim for all of my life. I haven’t listed all of my goals. Some I’m not quite ready to share.

But with these goals, those shared and those not, I know I am taking the right path.

I am embracing a new year and a re-newed me.

 

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