Thursday, September 27, 2012

My Joy Was Stolen. I've Been Robbed.

More lessons along my hiking journeys over the past few weekends. Had some real Come to Jesus Meetings with Jesus.

My confession -- I got stuck.

I lost my confidence to lead. For many reasons. For no reason. I lost my way. I didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing with my Master level certificates of knowledge, and so I sat. I said I didn’t care. I became stiff-necked, and if you’ve read Proverbs 29:1, you know that is not a good thing. When you don’t have a designated spot to serve, sometimes it is hard to find your way. There are many possibilities, and the sheer volume can be overwhelming. Then self-doubt creeps in. I love this picture. There are several paths from which to choose. It’s an open place and peaceful looking at first, but if you’re lost and you don’t know what to look for, it would be easy to become distressed. That’s when most hikers make careless mistakes. Much to my chagrin, I’ve sat here for over a year hesitant to make a move. Then I was called out, corrected, and told get on with it -- no mercy given, none required. There are many of you who could have had this talk with me, but this time it was my mom. Can you see in this picture where the path is? Do you see it? Off to the left is a tree with a white sign, there is the path.

I have to be honest with you. I had lost my joy sitting there for so long. I’ve never not had self-confidence. I’ve never lacked for self-confidence. Just ask my mom. But it’s amazing how little things can steal your joy? Distractions. Deficits. Uncertainty. I can assure you these things are not of Yahweh. God wants us to have joy. He is joy. He gives joy in the journey, but when you get stuck, you aren’t moving forward to see what is over the next hill or around the next bend, to see there’s a playground on which for you to swing and slide. When I was a kid, I would swing as high as I could and then jump. I had more skinned up knees in the first grade than anyone else. I was always in the school office after recess. I REALLY loved to swing, and I REALLY loved to go high. My dog even tried to swing. Who doesn’t love to swing, to feel the wind raising your hair, and to feel the breeze on your face?

Sorry, I tried to get this turned the correct way, but it just wouldn't work...much like Sunni and the swing

So since I’ve been confronted and prodded, I’ve realized it’s time for me to come out of the darkness. I want to be in the Light. If I fail, I fail, but I think the real failure is in the not trying.

I’ve been called to minister to women, to encourage women and to teach women. I’ve been called to show them Jesus and how to drink from the well that never runs dry. I know this to be true if I know anything at all. It wasn’t something I asked for, and it most certainly isn’t something I sought.

There will be things that will come up in our lives, in our walk with Christ. Sometimes they are meant to stop us from proceeding, and they are designed by God. Sometimes they are there for us to conquer, to go over. Sometimes we get distracted by the mountain we’ve made from the molehill. There is no obstacle that can’t be overcome if Jesus is leading you to it. Our confidence is to be in Him. We should be looking to Him for our confidence. It’s what I tell my daughter. Why didn’t I see this is where one of my issues was hiding?

I will be a fisher for women. Women bring life. Women nurture life. Women become depleted. Women who are hurt and need to be restored, I want to minister to them. Regardless of how hard the climb or how hard the journey, I will carry on.

In Christ alone my hope is found

He is my light, my strength, my song

The Cornerstone, this solid ground

Firm through the fiercest drought and storm

What heights of love, what depths of peace

When fears are stilled, when strivings cease

My Comforter, my All in All

Here in the love of Christ I stand.

Lyrics from Avalon’s In Christ Alone

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Paint Squirrels and Other Hiking Lessons

God has been slowly and thoroughly peeling away the calluses off of my heart built up from disappointment, discouragement, failed name it.

During my hikes over the past few weekends, I've been I've worked up a sweat, had tears fall like rain, felt the sun on my face when I stop and look up to praise and worship Him.

At Lake D’Arbonne, there are hiking trails – plural. The one I choose is the white one. I lace up my sneakers, plug in my ear buds to Pandora’s Christian rock, stretch, and with my room key in my left hand and my iphone in my right, I descend the nearest hill from cabin 15 that heads towards the water. The dock would be my respite for my evening meditation I decided, and I turned left to follow the trail.

If you have never been to a state park in Louisiana, the trails are marked with arrow signs. If you follow the arrows of your trail, theoretically, you should make a loop from to end where you begin. Several years ago, Lori, daddy and I took the kids on a hike in a state park and instead of signs they painted a rectangle on tree trunks. Lori told the kids, “Hey, look they have paint squirrels here!” One of the kids asked, “What are paint squirrels?” Lori answered, “Paint squirrels lick the tree bark. There is something in their saliva that leaves that stain on the tree trunk.” From that point on, the kids were looking for where the paint squirrels had been. No, our children have no chance of being “normal,” but they will know how to look for the signs! 

As I was praising and worshipping God, I noticed these signs. In my Spirit it was if He was saying, I'm always here pointing the way if you will only move forward. The white signs a symbol of moving toward holiness. The red sign, a sign of warning. The green sign, a sign of growth.

Occasionally on the hike, there are benches. Isaiah 40:30-31, “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Everyone needs to rest sometime, especially when you are in your 40s and are out of shape. He invites us to rest in Him. Psalm 91:4, “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” Sitting and meditating on his Word, allowing His Word to wash over me was healing.

The great thing about hiking is there is beauty in nature all around if we will only take the time, and sometimes there is the unexpected. May sound a little odd, but I talked to God as if He was sitting in the chair. If Dirty Harry can talk to an empty Obama chair, I figure I can talk to God who is actually there and not seen. Truth be known, I hadn't really been telling Him a whole lot lately. I hadn't really told anyone anything that was going on in my head. But I did today. It is so cathartic to just say it all out loud, to be real honest and tell everything, to unload or unburden. Holding stuff in is not healthy. I know this, but it didn't stop me from holding it all in.

The things is we are never really alone. Nothing is new under the sun or under the Son. What is important to remember is that there are those who have been on this path before you, and there will be people on this path after you. Some choose to traverse their life with Jesus Christ in a different way. For example, according to these signs, some will ride their bikes, while others may walk with a dog. Just because someone walks the pathway along Jesus Christ differently is not for you to judge. Some may be missionaries. Some may have tattoos. Some may have piercings. Some may be ill. Some may be lonely. The point is that they are on the path with Jesus. Don’t get distracted by how someone else’s hike is or is not going. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Confession, I had gotten distracted.

Then there are times along these trails that we may become perplexed and not understand the purpose like this picture with three docks all jutting towards each other but never meeting. Kind of reminds me of the cancer journey…the patient sees the cancer from one point of view, the spouse sees it from another, and the kids or other loved ones see it from yet another. Yet they are all looking at cancer but from their own path and perspectives.

Something I appreciate is the fact that along the way there are places to discard that which is dead -- casting off your burden. Throwing it in the pile to be burned and remembered no more. Who doesn’t have rubbish to discard? Who isn’t dragging something behind them that they keep picking up over and over again after God has told you to lay it down. Hello?! Can I get a witness or is it just me? The only way to lay something down and leave it is to set fire to that baby. You can’t pick up ash! God can though, and not only can God pick up ash but when God picks up ash, He exchanges it for beauty (Isaiah 61:3). Lay it down, discard that sucker and SET IT ON FIRE!

So, are you ready to go on your own nature hike yet? Are you ready to meet Him face to face and let Him work on peeling away the calluses off your heart? I promise it’s worth the climb.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Day 1 Hike

When I was a little girl, my daddy would occasionally take me for a hike in the woods. He would pull on vines and then cut the secure ones so Lori and I could swing on them. On occasion daddy would take me squirrel hunting. Given my propensity for talking, we didn’t see many squirrels, and given my inability to handle or deal with my cross-eye dominancy, my aim was not too great. During any of our trips, daddy would point out all of the different animal tracks and label the animal noises we heard. Now we couldn’t believe ALL the stories daddy told us, but those trips in the woods created a love of being in the woods with nature.

I have had the opportunity to go to the woods for a couple of weekends in September. One was my birthday present from my husband, and the other was a get-away for me and my husband. Each time I hiked the trails at Lake D’Arbonne. When I went by myself, I had actually invited a few people to go with me, but none made it. I could have chosen to get my feelings hurt, but I rather believe it was God’s way of saying He wanted my undivided attention. That was fine with me.

I left Thursday after work, and Friday morning I laid in bed reading Scripture for an hour or so. My confession is that my heart had become callous having been distracted by those around me and events in my life. And so He began chiseling away reminding me of who He is…Sovereign Lord, Lord God Almighty, the Judge, the Father, the Creator and the Restorer. He leads. He guides. He directs. He overcomes. My job? My job was to give over my hardened heart, my hurt heart, my calloused heart. My job was to draw near to Him, to worship Him, to repent. His pleasure, His desire to restore and heal me, His daughter.

So I strapped on my tennis shoes and ear buds and plugged into Pandora’s Christian rock station, and I started my hike. The most purifying, cleansing hike ever. I was singing, worshipping God Almighty, sweat pouring from every pore, tears flowing down my face. Stopping from time to time to raise my face, my arms, my hands to heaven to sing His praise – Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me I once was lost but now I'm found was blind but now i see so clearly. Hallelujah, grace like rain falls down on me. Hallelujah, all my stains are washed away, washed away.
No one there but me and God and the critters. There was great freedom in that. There was great freedom in breaking down and getting real and honest with God, with myself.

Nothing happening but God shining down on me, wrapping me in His arms, singing over me as I sing to Him through my tears. He’s gently but thoroughly scraping away the callouses of my heart. Pouring His grace, love and mercy over me. No other place I would want to be. No other place I needed to be.

Then sings my souls my Savior God to Thee, how great Thou art, how great Thou art!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

ADULT ADHD and Impulse Control -- What's That?

When I was in upper elementary or middle school, one Friday night probably around 6:30 PM or so, my daddy said, “Hey, let’s go camping!” Mom with her wisdom declined. Lori and I grabbed some stuff and headed to the bayou on Dorcheet (?). When we arrived at daddy’s “camp site,” (which wasn’t in a camp ground) it began to rain…not sprinkle. Rain. And it rained harder and harder the longer we were out there trying to set up the tent and get our gear inside. We finally get inside and we looked like drowned rats soaked to the bone. As we sat there in the tent listening to the winds howl and flap our tent, the walls began to be sucked in and out, in and out. Daddy looked at us. We looked at him. We decided we’d better go home, so back out into the storm we went. Later we found out a tornado had crossed overhead…go figure. We hadn't checked the weather report before we had left home. Growing up, I thought my dad was “normal.” Hahaha. I thought everyone had a spontaneous dad like I did. I loved it. We never knew what adventure waited around the corner.

My daddy's college roommate used to say that during college he often went along with daddy just because he couldn't take his eyes off what was happening and wondered what would happen next. From climbing the water tower at NSU, to having a pet attack squirrel, to doing acrobatics on  the rings and the trampoline to try to impress the girls only to do a stunt that would knock himself out. It's really amazing he survived to reproduce!

Some of you non-ADHDers say we lack impulse control. We call it SPONTANEITY! It simply can’t be planned, and often times there are no rhyme or reason except for the fact that it just sounds fun…or at least fun to us. My poor husband had to learn that the hard way one night when I began jumping up and down on the bed as he was just drifting off to sleep. Fun for me. Not so much fun for him. Sorry, honey.

Impulse control can also mean emotional outbursts, and that’s not fun for anyone. The only way I can explain this is like a building pressure that erupts when the barriers can no longer contain the force. The velocity at which the emotions and words come can at times be mind-boggling. The medication helps with this a lot. It’s like every neuron in your body is firing at the same time. Your nerves are on fire, raw and pulsating, and all it takes is one thing to touch any nerve at all, and we can jump out of our skins. And it keeps coming until it is all out.

What I have found that works best for this impulse control is exercise. It takes that raw energy and converts it into something more containable, useful and controllable. A regular regimen of physical activity or exercise helps me to maintain self-control. That’s not to say that I’m not going to bust out singing and dancing in front of my kids. It just means I’m better able to focus on what is an acceptable outburst as opposed to an unacceptable and take the appropriate action. This is probably one of the hardest things to live with for not only the sane people we live with but for the ADHD person as well.

My sister says she can be spontaneous, but she thinks about it before moving on it. She says my version of spontaneity is just doing it and if I think through it, it's as I'm doing it. I thought that was spontaneity. So for all of you living with someone who you suspect is ADHD, try to learn to appreciate the good spontaneity and have fun with it. Giving in every now and then to the whim won’t kill you. As a matter of fact, you might find that it will color your world in a way that you’ve not experienced before.

Monday, September 3, 2012

ADHD and the Task at Hand -- Look there's a Chicken

My boss says I have more drive than three people put together. He also tells people I’m meaner than a snake, and he means it as a compliment. I tend to work circles around my colleagues not because I’m better but because that is how I am wired.

If you can get an ADHD person into a job that requires a lot of activity, diversity in challenges, or keyed into something that gets their blood pumping, then you will have found yourself a most valuable employee…assuming they have learned to complete tasks. I remember as a child my mom was relentless in redirecting me to the task from which I had strayed. Kristy, go finish the dishes. Kristy, did you finish the dishes? Kristy, did you put away the dishes? She would call my name and ask about some aspect to the chore, and I’d go back through the house to complete the task. She must have the patience of Job because my parents believed in child labor they called “chores.”

You might wonder what could possibly distract an ADHD person from the task at hand. Well, let me tell you…a person, an animal, a commercial, a tv show, a gnat, an idea. Yes, an idea. While putting the dishes in the dishwasher, I might be reminded of the time when I had to wash dishes by hand, put them in the drain, dry them and put them away. Washing the dishes reminds me of the time when I had plugged the sink and left the kitchen, and the sink overflowed. The overflowing sink reminds me of the leaky toilet in the hall that is constantly running, and I remember that I bought the necessary part to fix it. So, I go out to the car, retrieve the part, head to the bathroom and begin fixing the toilet…after about 30 minutes, I stand up and realize I left the water running in the kitchen. My intentions were never to cause harm or more damage…far from it, but there I stand in a kitchen with an inch of water. Now where’s my mop?

Okay, let’s try one more. This time you try. You are folding the laundry, and if you are ADHD, what happens next? Come on. You have to try. Put yourself into the shoes of the ADHD.

For me, I fold my laundry while I watch television. I love NCIS. I investigate insurance fraud for a living, so I love investigation. It helps to feed my curiosity. I enjoy putting the pieces of the puzzle together, plus, I tend to be tenacious and will wart someone until they just give up. Do you see how seamlessly I took you from folding clothes to putting together a puzzle? And this isn't just one time a day. It's every moment of every day.  Well, knowing that people who are ADHD are active and are movers and shakers, you can expect there will be actions to follow. If I had a puzzle, I’d be looking for one right now, but that requires more attention than I have at this very moment. I’d say that’s one of the perks of being ADHD, but my mother and husband would disagree…HEAVILY.

I want you to understand I’m writing about this stuff not for you to get to know me, but that maybe you’ll better understand that ADHD person in your life that drives you crazy. So when you feel like taking your big girl panties off and strangling us with them, maybe something I’ve said will pop into your mind and help give some perspective and maybe a little grace -- please and thank you.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Adult ADHD and Organized Chaos

What do you get when you fill a room full of ADHD-ers? Organized chaos…like herding cats.

What do you get when you have two ADHD-ers working in a small office? Yes, I worked for my daddy from high school through college in his insurance agency. It’s called insanity.

I would walk into daddy’s office, and he would have stacks of papers all over his desk. If I had to find something on my own, I’d never find it. If daddy were there, he could go directly to the pile it was in and retrieve the needed document. Stacks lined the perimeter of his desk and credenza. There was no rhyme or reason, but he knew why they were in each stack. He was also known to jump on his desk and crow like a rooster -- can't believe I ever thought he was normal. I was sooooo naive.

As a child, when my mom would tell me to clean my room, I thought it was clean if I had pushed everything against the wall. Just like momma couldn’t work for daddy in long stretches, I drove her crazy with my cleaning skills or LACK of cleaning skills. Our definition of "organization" may be a bit different than the norm. As I've matured, I've realized that being organized is an asset to my way of life. It helps me to maintain and to survive. It is something that can be learned.

When I was in the first grade at Calvary, I was in the office at least 3 times a week after PE getting "monkey blood" and a band aid on my knee. All of my friends would swing so high and then jump off. It looked like such great fun. What I didn't realize is that my perception of distance was different than theirs. They'd actually wait till they were coming down to jump. I was jumping off at the pinnacle of the swing! I had no clue! NO CLUE!

What does this have to do with ADHD? Lack of spatial relations. Basically, I have none…it’s really quite nominal. When people get into the car with me, I find that they grip the door handle or start muttering something like a prayer. Sometimes it's more like a whimper. For the record, I haven't lost one yet. The reason is because I don’t always appreciate the distance or lack of distance between my vehicle and the other vehicle. So if I tailgate you, it’s not because I’m driving aggressively it’s because I REALLY don’t realize how close I am to refueling.

For years I took medication. From seventh grade when I was diagnosed through my freshmen year in college. My freshmen year in college I took the medicine periodically as I was learning coping skills and compensating skills. People who are diagnosed with ADHD tend to be bright individuals, it’s just sometimes it’s difficult to tell because we move from one subject to the next without taking a breath. If you live with an ADHD person, all I can tell you is to apply the KISS principle – Keep It Simple, Sweetie. Keep things to a minimum. The more stuff there is the more it will drive you crazy not them. Choose your battles. If they are constantly losing a particular item help them to establish a routine as to where they put that item. I perform best in a routine. Doesn’t mean I can’t roll with the flow and adjust – I do have children after all. What it means is that I function at highest capacity if there is a schedule that is predictable.

I started back on medication after baby #2. There was just so much more to juggle and balance, and I wasn't doing any of it well. If you have a child who needs glasses, would you get them glasses or make them struggle? If your child was a diabetic, would you give them insalin? Exactly. Fortunately, my doctor went to school with me at Calvary. As a matter of fact, we were cheerleaders together, and she was my base. When I asked for medication to help me with the ADHD, she didn't hesitate and didn't ask any questions. She was probably wondering what took me so long to ask!

Another thing about the organized chaos is if an ADHD person has learned compensatory skills, we can often work circles around everyone else especially if we have learned to FINISH what we've started. I know I can be exhausting whether it's by my physical activity or by my rattling like a rock in a tin can. I know I wear people out from time to time. I know I can frustrate the most sanest of people. But as my computer analyst told another analyst that started working with me, she said, “This is just Kristy. Hang on for the ride. You can ask questions later.” Something the ADHD person can learn is to watch people's responses to what he or she is doing and modify accordingly.
ADHD is not who I am. It describes part of who I am. I am thankful for those who love me as I am cluttered and all. Well, I guess I better go work on some of my stacks.