Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Depression and the Average Christian

With the sad and tragic death of Robin Williams, there is now a lot of talk and speculation about depression and suicide. Suicide is always a tragedy. Ironically, a man who made the world laugh is now making people cry.

I do not agree with the people that are saying Robin Williams is free now and in a better place. Yes, we can entrust him to a loving and merciful God but I am not going to presume he is in a better place. It is so tragic that he felt there were no other options than to end his life. I do not know if he was a believer in God. It is almost understandable for someone to lose hope and become depressed if they are not a believer. I also do not know what was going on in his mind or if he was suffering from a mental illness. Even though I probably could talk about mental illness because I have a degree in Mental Health, I am not going to address that here. After all, I did not even agree with much of the stuff I was taught in my Psychology classes. I felt the perspectives were too much from a secular world view. 

What I would like to talk about here is the subject of depression for the average Christian without a mental illness. Personally, depression has been a temptation for me. Occasionally it knocks on my door. It usually starts with discouraging thoughts which stem from lack of hope and trust in God. There have been times I bought into these discouraging thoughts and gave into depression which I believe gave the enemy a foothold. The result of this was a spiraling downward of deep depression that was then hard to come out of. The Lord has warned me about giving into this. It is a sin and I have a choice. I can either choose to put my hope, trust and faith in the Lord even when life seems bleak or I can choose to have a pity party and give into depression.

That all being said, I would like to talk about grief and the difference between grief and depression. It is normal and human for us to grieve when tragedy strikes. Even Jesus grieved when his friend Lazarus died. You can grieve and still have hope and faith. When I had a miscarriage a couple years ago, I grieved but I did not give into depression. Instead I surrendered my grief over to the Lord and he turned it into something beautiful.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18, "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Gearing Up!

I can't believe the summer is almost over. I have been gearing up for the new school year; trying to get organized, ordering curriculum and hoping this will be a better year than last year. Last school year felt like juggling most of the time except I did not feel I did a very good job at it. Homeschooling multiple age children, trying to keep up with the housework and also taking care of a baby or toddler requires being able to multi-task big time, which I am not very good at.

Recently I was praying about this and an image came to my mind of people that are able to jump rope over multiple ropes while also doing flips and turning around. The Lord encouraged and showed me that to be able to do that takes a lot of patience, perseverance, and practice. Then he compared it to me as a homeschooling, stay-at-home mom (guess I wasn't imagining when I thought my life felt like that). I believe he was telling me I shouldn't beat myself up if I am not in that place yet and I keep tripping over the ropes. If I keep persevering and keep leaning back and resting in his grace in everything I do, he will get me to the place where I am able to handle everything that comes up in a day with grace and ease.

A few months back, the Lord really impressed upon me that my most important goal everyday needs to be to encounter him and help my children encounter him. I am trying to plan my school year and curriculum accordingly. There are a lot of good curriculums out there and it would be easy to get bogged down, wanting to do multiple things but if I remember that our main goal is to encounter him, then I feel I need to keep it simple. I am mainly going to stick with CHC (Catholic Heritage Curricula). I love the way it weaves in the faith with the lessons. I also like that their lessons are not too rigorous. The only subjects that I am not going to use CHC for is Math. Clare will be in 3rd grade and uses a program called Making Math Meaningful which is working really well for her. Lily is more of a kinesthetic learner and I am going to try Life of Fred with her. She is very bright and has a very creative mind but she wasn't really ready to sit and do most Kindergarten work last year so we are going to try again this year. She missed the cutoff by one month for just entering into Kindergarten this year anyway so I think we are fine. Sarah who is four is going to be working on the same material as Lily so that should make things easy. Hopefully Isaac who is 18 months will be content to play with toys I have stashed away while his sisters do school. Here's hoping :)

We usually start each school day off with a decade of the rosary, focusing on the life of Jesus one mystery at a time. We then read from the bible, preferably the gospel for the day and then each of the kids takes about five minutes to go off on their own and seek Jesus. I then have them write or draw in their prayer journals. My eighteen year old daughter will not have school on Fridays this year so she has suggested that we go to mass every Friday. This might be a challenge getting the little ones out of the house and at church by 9am but we'll give it a try. Another way children can encounter the Lord is through fun activities and creating memories. So, we will again take one day a week to either celebrate a feast day with our friends from our Eucharistic Heart group, go on a field trip or work on enrichment activities and learning games.

This is my plan. We'll see how it goes. If we all stay healthy (unlike last year as we caught EVERY illness that was going around) it could be a productive year. If it doe not go as I plan, I need to remember that God's grace is sufficient! He has always been faithful to make up for where I am lacking. Just like the boy who gave his little lunch of a few loaves of bread and fish and had it multiplied, I need to remember that if I give Jesus what little I have, he will multiply it as well.

* I am not being paid to advertise the curriculum I recommended.