Thursday, December 29, 2005

Our Travel History

I love road trips with my husband. We never fail to get into something crazy.

Like the first time we travelled anywhere together. All he told me was that we were going snow skiing. I didn't realize until he had me pull out the map that we were supposed to be meeting some friends of his in Knoxville. We were in Chattanooga.

Then there was the time that we travelled with one of his friends to North Carolina. It's not too smart to be the only girl stuck in a car for 14 or so hours with two college guys. We were having fun until they decided that for dinner we were going to split a gallon (yes, an entire gallon) of cookie dough ice cream and then finish that off with a bloomin' onion and cheese fries from Outback. It was not a nice-smelling 8 or so hours. Between the left over food, the melting ice cream, and the boys.....yuck. I don't want to think about it.

Then there are our road trips to Minnesota. This year was the first time we made the drive without getting lost. The first time we ended up in the middle of Illinois somewhere in the middle of a cornfield. It took me a couple of hours of telling him what roads to take to get us back on track without back-tracking. And then there was last year and the "quick stop" in Chicago. We always avoid Chicago, but when you miss an interstate, you never know where you're gonna end up. We've learned that lesson many, many, many times. More times than I've mentioned here.

And then there was this year. I actually drove back for a few hours. I did most of the interstate changes. From 39 to 74 and then on to 57. We stopped for lunch in Effingham, Illinois and I was tired. All Rick had to do was get on I-24 and that would take us straight into Nashville. I was asleep for a couple of hours when I heard, "Honey...why is the interstate ending in a mile?? We haven't even been through Kentucky yet....." We stopped at some random gas station in the middle of a cornfield to ask where in the world we were. We were in Dexter, Missouri. That's west of Sikeston. That's waaaaay out of our way. I teased him, asking him why he had missed all of the "to I-24 signs" and the exit to I-24. Then I teased him that his next clue should have been the "Welcome to Missouri" sign. And even the next clue should have been that the interstate speed changed to 70, which it doesn't do until we get in to Tennessee. He had missed the interstate several hours before. We ended up driving almost down into Arkansas, and then taking some random interstate and highway over to I-40, a little over half way from Nashville to Memphis. We ended up getting home about 3 hours later than we should have.

Other than our extra road trip, we had a great Christmas with Rick's family. Lots of food, staying up really late playing games, sleeping in really late, and then spending the rest of the day in our pj's. I was completely worthless for a week.

I hope you all had wonderful Christmases and that you had safe travels. Now it's about time to say, Happy New Year!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Off to the Frozen Waste-Land

We're heading to Minnesota around 3am tomorrow morning for Christmas.

I may try to post while we're up there, but we'll just have to wait and see how it goes.

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Learning About My Past

I'm dealing with depression.

I've only really understood that in the past couple of weeks. It really hit home after a conversation with Jana last Sunday. The way I've been feeling isn't normal for anyone, even a transplant patient. (Although 70% of transplant patients do get depressed post-transplant). For the past year and a half, I've thought that what I've been feeling (fatigue, laziness, not really caring about anything) was all a part of what someone goes through after having a major operation. My physical body is healed, but I couldn't think of any reason that I should be feeling this way. I started to accept that this is just the way I'm going to be for a while.

Then, it happened. A woman in my Tuesday Group confessed that she has been depressed for 13 years. She's never told anyone but her husband. She began talking about her symptoms and how it makes her feel. My minister looked over at me when she was finished talking and said, "Amanda, are you hearing what she's saying?" Well, duh. She's described everything that I've been feeling for the past year or longer. But, I wasn't sure what to do about it. I thought about it for a few days, and then talked to Jana after life group last Sunday. I had some symptoms that she had when she was dealing with PPD that the woman who talked on Tuesday didn't have. I discovered that I've had tendencies toward depression since I was in high school. I've got to do something about this.

After one of the worst weeks that I have had in a really, really long time (last week), I called my transplant doctor and he called in an anti-depressant for me. I've been taking it since Friday. I can't tell any big differences yet, but it could take a couple of weeks for it to really kick in. We'll see what happens.

I called my sister on Friday to talk to her. I told her that I started the meds. She said something like, "It's about time! You've been dealing with this since high school!"

Thanks for the heads up, Sis. :oP

I haven't had many conversations with anyone that meant as much as this conversation with my sister did. We talked about when my depression hit (after I was cut from the basketball team for no good reason). We talked about how her and my mom, in particular, talked about everything that was going on with me, but they never talked to me about what was going on with me. Even my sister admitted that she hated me after that. She was indignant that she had "lost" me in a sense, and was mean and very angry at me for that. She didn't know how to handle the fact that her "old" sister was gone. All that was left was a shell of that person, and she hated that shell.

I was alone in my suffering.

I had no Ruth, no Boaz. And for a 14 year old, that's a big deal.

After all this time, I had almost convinced myself that I dreamed that my sister was so mean to me, that I had done something wrong. I thought it was all apart of my angst as a teenager.....that's what my parents told me. Maybe my teenage years weren't as bad as I thought they were because I dreamed all of that stuff up. But now I know the Truth. My teenage years really did suck. My sister really did hate me. And it wasn't my fault. I was dealing with things that, as a 14 year old, I had no idea how to handle, so I shut down.

My sister recounted specific things that she had done and said to me when we were in high school. I didn't remember any specifics, but she did. She was really, really, trying not to cry as she recalled the mean things she said and did to me out of anger that she had lost me. I was speechless. I didn't know how to respond. Then she said it. She asked for my forgiveness. Of course I forgave her. I really do love my little sister. She means the world to me. And it wasn't her fault that, at 13, she didn't know how to deal with her grief, either.

And don't get me wrong, I don't blame my parents. I honestly believe that they did the best they could. I really think that they believed that they were doing the right thing by letting me "work it out" on my own. I've never doubted my parents' love for me, and I still don't.

But I feel like I've gotten a little bit of closure. My teenage years that were such a puzzle to me have come together just a little better now. It isn't such a mystery.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Friendship in Suffering

My "Tuesday Group" consists of about 6 other women, most of which are about my mother's age. I have been very contemplative about this group recently. I wonder why it works. These women don't understand exactly what I've been going through in the last year and a half, but they understand. They don't know what it feels like to be a liver transplant patient, but they know what it feels like. My life hasn't gotten much easier since we've been meeting every Tuesday for the last few months, but it has gotten more bearable.

We each have very, very dark places in our lives, but, somehow, over the past few months, our darknesses have combined to become light to each other. The light would not exist on its own. It is only through the sharing of burdens and suffering that the darkness can become light. It fits perfectly with scripture because it makes no sense. "The weak will be strong. The poor will be rich. Those in darkness will have light."

Jana posted a quote on her blog that fits perfectly here. It is from C.S. Lewis in his book, The Four Loves, "Friendship is born in the moments of 'You, too! I thought I was the only one!'" (or something like that). All of us in this group have had at least one of those moments.

There aren't many other circumstances that would have brought the 7 or 8 of us together like this other than suffering. But we are sisters. We laugh and cry together. We rally around each other and do our best to lift each other up. It's a lot easier to walk down this path when you have others walking with you and cheering you on, even though you know that their life is no easier than yours.

But that is what it's all about, isn't it? Christianity, I mean. It's not about debates over instruments or praise teams. It is about realizing that sometimes life just sucks and we need other Christians in the fox hole with us. The fight is against the Enemy, not each other.

Sometimes I just need to be reminded of that.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Very Interesting Blog

I was site-surfing a little yesterday and got caught on a blog. I couldn't pull myself away from it.

If you live in Nashville, if you are interested in homeless ministry, or if your church works with Room in the Inn, you will want to read this blog.

A homeless man started this blog several years ago. As of today, he has had an apartment for about 4 months. There are so many things that facinate me about this man's story. I love the way he praises Room in the Inn. It's very interesting to hear the wonderful things about this program from a homeless person. It's also very interesting to me how he talks about all of the problems with The Nashville Rescue Mission. And the problems of chronic homelessness in Nashville.

But even more than that, this post got me. I swear I know the guy in the picture captioned "homeless Mike." I remember his face so clearly and his voice as he tried to sing "Amazing Grace." And I remember his name. I asked him after the worship service what his name was, and he answered, "Michael." I said, "Like the angel" and his face absolutely lit up. It's strange that those pictures were taken in Wisconsin, but I guess it is possible that he's moved up there by now. It's been several years since I've seen him.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Censorship

Up to this point, I have never felt the need to censor what I write on my blog, but I feel the need to this time. It sucks! There is something that I'm dealing with that I really, really feel the need to write about, but I can't because it may really, really hurt someone if that person(s) were ever to read my blog. The chance that he (or she, or they) would read are slim, but there is a chance, and I can't take it.

So, I will just ask that you all pray for me. I probably will write about what I need to write about, but I just can't do it here. I have had several friends who have been burned by blogging, and as long as I can help it, I've got to keep myself out of those ranks. The last thing I want to do is hurt someone.

*sigh*

Friday, December 02, 2005

Pressure

Why is it that I let pressure get to me before it even gets here?

Work is about to start piling up. It's not piling up yet, and it won't even pile up in the next week or so, but it will soon after, and I'm already stressed about something that isn't going to start happening for another couple of weeks.

Even worse, as long as I do things right (without procrastinating and by taking my time) it probably won't even pile up. I'll probably knock things out one at a time, and hit my goal of accomplishing a certain amount of my research project by the first of 2006.

But I'm stressed out at the thought of possibly being stressed out.

I'm a terrible procrastinator. (I just learned that's yet another symptom of depression, which I think I have, even though that's another blog post....) Instead of using the last week to take my time and get everything together so that I could make a big order for supplies that I need for this experiment, I waited until today. Why did I do that? Most of the week I've been sitting at my computer playing computer games and avoiding writing on my blog, I could have researched one product a day and had it ready to go yesterday, but no. That's too easy.

What is wrong with me???