Hi everyone, here are the questions for my Christmas Tag video:
1. Favourite Christmas colour?
2. Favourite holiday movie?
3. Embarassing Christmas photo
4. Do you open your presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?
5. When does your family put up the Christmas tree and who decorates it?
6. Have you ever had a white Christmas?
7. Favourite Christmas smell?
8. Favourite Christmas food?
9. Have you ever built a gingerbread house?
10. Have you ever gone Christmas caroling?
11. Name all of Santa’s reindeer.
12. Favourite Christmas song?
13. Dream place to visit at Christmas time.
14. Did you ever believe in Santa?
15. What do you like to do on your Christmas break?
16. Candy cane or ginger bread man?
17. Turkey or ham?
18. Pavlova or Trifle?
This blog post has been a long time coming. I’ve been wanting to blog about it but have just never gotten the courage to do it. Until now.
In February of this year, I had a feeling I was pregnant. I am regular as clockwork, and knew something was amiss. Call it intuition, or the sixth sense, I knew something was up. I took a pregnancy test and saw a super faint line. According to the box, any line, no matter how faint, is Positive. I didn’t want to read too much into it, so I decided to wait a couple of days and test again.
Two days later, a darker, definitely more pronounced line. I wasn’t sure what to feel. We hadn’t been really trying, but at the same time, weren’t being super careful about preventing it. I was excited, but knew that this would definitely be life-changing. Little did I know, it was the beginning of the unexpected.
I took pre-natal vitamins, rested, slept – a lot. But other than the absence of the period, I didn’t have many symptoms. Timing was perfect. We were set to move back to Australia in May. Perfect, as I would have just started my 2nd trimester by then. This year truly was turning out to be amazing, especially after a pretty shocking 2014.
We decided to see a local doctor to take a blood test. Week 4 – 6 passed in a big blur. I didn’t expect things to change so quickly. On the one hand, hubby and I were starting the thought (and feelings) processes of preparing to be parents. Thinking of the possibilities, hopes, dreaming, having ideas, imagining how much this would change us, for the better. Life would never be the same again. Our family would never be the same either. Anticipating this huge change, not only physically but in almost every other aspect of life, to occur in the lead up to late October (predicted due date).
By the end of week 6, there were some irregularities with the blood tests. My hcg levels were increasing, but just not as much as they should have been. There was expected to be exponential growth, but there was just a gradual growth instead. This was causing my doctors some concern.
I struggled so much with the Chinese health care system. Even though we were at a private international hospital, things were just getting uncomfortable and lost in translation. Not everything was translated, even with the translator there. We struggled with the way things were done. And after hearing that they concerned with ‘the baby not being in the baby house’, we knew we had to look elsewhere for help. Anyway, that brought us to the international clinic that friends worked at. And there, things were not much better, but at least communication was clear and results were interpreted correctly. Explanations were straight-forward.
Week 7, the clinic doctor asked us to consider the worst, and that we should consider getting further tests and ultrasounds in a hospital that had the technology and expertise required. He was quite concerned that this would not be a viable pregnancy, and that it was likely to be outside the uterus. Worse case scenario, ectopic pregnancy and a possible rupture, which would mean serious internal bleeding and emergency surgery. The doctor was experienced and knew that part of China well and knew that we would be more comfortable with health care elsewhere.
So here was the roller coaster of emotions. I was distraught, but now also had to face further travel and other expenses ontop. How could something so amazing and filled with joy, be just ripped away in what felt like a blink of an eye? How could things change so quickly? How could what we felt that God was blessing us with (down to the perfect timing, etc) be taken away like this? How could what would be a blessing of life, bring danger to my own? All these questions and more were what brought on some seriously sleepless nights. This is of course, on top of my already improving depression and anxiety. I was doing SO WELL. And had almost gotten to the point where I was almost, almost, back to how I was.
Hubby knew that I had no emotional energy to sought out insurance, hospital, travel, etc. So, he took charge of all that. And what a blessing that was! But a huge toll on him as well. Because, it wasn’t just me going through this, it was us both. Definitely different as a man, but he was still going through the understanding and emotional stress. So, during that seventh week, we made the decision to fly to Thailand to a world renown hospital to receive medical care. The other options were to stay in China (highly not recommended by doctors that have worked there for over 15 years) or to fly back to Australia (which would be long and may cause a rupture and uncontrolled bleeding).
By this stage, I was distressed because I was concerned about my health and well-being, and also about the cost of flying anywhere. At the same time, unable to trust that China would provide me the best option after experiencing what I already had. So off to Thailand we went. To make matters worse, our insurance company didn’t cover any of it. They were adamant on choosing the Chinese option.
Anyway, we got to Thailand when I was 7 weeks, 6 days and I was honestly at the end of my tether. I’d cried, and already begun mourning (in a way), but I was clinging to that one piece of hope, that there was still a chance that I would get there, and the OB would do the ultrasound, and there would be the foetus, healthy and with a heartbeat. And I’d just made the decision to spend the money and travel, just to get that piece of mind.
Week 8 was the following day. We went to the hospital for our appointment. They did an internal ultrasound and saw a sac. The OB told us straightaway that it was empty. That I had a blighted ovum. I’d never heard this before and had to Google it later to find out more about it. It is when the embryo sac develops, but no foetus forms, or it begins to form, but then the body realises there is a problem with it, and stops continuing to put nutrients into it. God’s way of reclaiming his own. I was shattered, but not completely unprepared.
Supposedly, one in two miscarriages before 12 weeks is due to the blighted ovum. And majority of cases, most women don’t even know that they are pregnant. Blown away. And every single person I’ve talked to (including counsellors) have never heard of it, or did not know that the incidence was so high.
So that day I found out, the doctor actually told me that it was better to allow my body to discharge the sac on its own. To not get a D & C. Where they go in and basically scrape out everything inside the uterus. I’m glad we went with the natural too, more drawn out, but less traumatic for me in the long run.
That day, whilst in Thailand, I started bleeding. It was just like a period in a way, but much, much heavier. And oh, the BACK PAIN. It was horrific. I never get back pain too, so it was a shock. I could barely walk. Some women say that it is similar to contractions when giving birth, but as this was my first pregnancy, I had nothing to base these pains on. It was just bad. We left Thailand the following day.
And thus began the journey of grieving and mourning. Of crying the most I’ve ever cried in my life to date. Of being in pain and uncomfortableness of bleeding, but getting no end rewards to speak of. Of wanting to stay in bed day after day and just shrivel under the covers away from the rest of the world. Of wanting a bathtub SO BAD, just to soak in to ease the pain and tension I was feeling.
Spiritually, of doubting God’s goodness and sovereignty. Of being so so angry with God. Of being treated like a pawn in a game of chess. Being made a cruel joke of. I had so many angry outbursts at God, which eventually subsided into sad moanings of ‘WHY ME’? All this time though, it wasn’t as if I doubted God existed. Similar to my experience with depression and anxiety, I never once thought that God was not there. I needed him to be there in a way, so that I could be angry at him. I needed him to be there, to blame.
The anger fizzled out as quickly as it began and so began the time of extreme sadness. It actually got to the point where I could not go a day without crying. Without something setting me off just randomly. I cried myself to sleep night after night. And slowly, as I journalled this whole process, I realised that the sadness was my way of grieving. Grieving the angel whom we would have had. I was battling with thoughts of – ‘was this baby real’? Can I even call it a baby? And I realised, I wasn’t mourning so much the child, but the idea of the child. Of the life it would have had. The change in our lives. The should have, could have, would have moments… And to me, this was far more distressing. It was a downward spiral of self pity and AFFLICTION. WOW, man, did I feel like the lowliest of lows. No one that walked the earth could have been in a worse position than I was – not even Job. That’s exactly how it felt. Wave after wave of intense sadness.
Needless to say, my tolerance of China and the Chinese people and culture declined rapidly from that point. When things are going well in life, dealing with the differences in culture, etc have minimal impact on your life. But when things are so bad (from all perspectives that you can see), every little cultural thing rubs you the wrong way.
I even experienced this local man on the flight home from Thailand, sat next to me and whilst I was sketching my feelings, he told me all these suggestions about my drawing to improve it, and even took my pen and drew on his napkin to show me. I was pretty pissed off – how does he have the nerve?! But I was too exhausted, and in pain to bother making the point with him. All I kept thinking was – “Nice one God, way to rub salt into the wound.”
I went through some serious lows during this time, a time when I felt I should have been experiencing highs. People around me were not the most comforting at the time either. I did not have a single person who had gone through miscarriage, coupled with recovering from anxiety and depression. I was alone. I started to feel like such a burden for Hubby to take care of, to get meals for, etc. I was just sick of feeling bad and guilty for other people. For spending energy making other people feel better, about my own situation. And it was so hard to say, ‘His will be done’, when I couldn’t see how this could be His will!
Affliction is God’s working in my life. And the more days passed, the less painful it became. It was still tough, but just not as sad. Not as unsteadily emotional. And, it was a conscious choice to not be bitter, but to choose joy.
Hubby was concerned at that point, that I was becoming a recluse. I’d only left the house twice in two weeks. The days I went out, I felt ill afterwards, the back pain would return. I still felt ‘afflicted’, and it didn’t help at the time that there were quite a few pregnant women close to me in my life. I was joyful for them, but speaking to them, would trigger really sad emotions. I thought, WHOA, God must be looking down at me and thinking, ‘What a spoilt little kid.’ And, I wouldn’t blame him. After all the things He has brought me through, the countless blessings in my life, I would react in a way that resembled whining.
I started to share, first with LG in China, and then others. I still felt God’s presence, sometimes, annoyingly so. He would move me during worship, and I’d be a complete mess. My friends would pray for me in a group setting, and they were feeling just as sad, angry and unjust as I was. Devastated – was the word I was thinking. Broken too.
I got to the point where every encounter with someone would be picking at a scab that I have tried to heal. And heading back to Australia was going to be more picking at a red and raw scab, over and over again. People asking how I was, finding out, not knowing what to say, feeling awkward and pity, then me trying to spend my energy making them feel better. I was just so over it!
The fact that the symptoms of pregnancy and miscarriage were being experienced, but no fruits of that labour. I started to feel like the only time I would ‘catch a break’ was when I was dead and with Jesus. Not that I wanted to die, just that I had to acknowledge that this was hard, that I couldn’t do it alone, and that I was not alone. God is with me.
Speaking to a counsellor, I was able to speak with clarity. I remember not needing or wanting to cry whilst speaking to her. I didn’t need to. They grief was for me. The counsellor encouraged me to listen to Rick Warren’s video on dealing with grief – after their son committed suicide. I was so encouraged! He and his wife went through the six stages of grief – shock, sorrow, struggle, surrender, sanctification and service. It reminded me that life doesn’t make sense, but we know God is with us and loves us. When we realise that there is no answer to the question… WHY?, we realise the only true path to peace is surrender. God knows how it feels to lose a child. The biggest lesson for Hubby and I was the realisation that, everything on earth is broken, but we can have joy because we know God is good and has a greater plan. We were comforted that we could rebuild and try HOPE again. And the grieving? It was for us. For Hubby, for me, for our families, and friends. Sometimes unexpected things become a part of life. The Lord uses these things to be a part of our life’s adventure.
At retreat, the speaker asked us to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the Father. As soon as I closed my eyes, I saw God the Father’s hand touch my face and His thumb wiped away my tears, and then lifting my heavy head and eyes to see Him. It was an amazingly powerful moment. And a friend told me afterwards that she saw Father enfolding me with loving arms. Also, another friend came up at the retreat after noticing my tears, he didn’t want to know what was happening, but blessed me by reminding me that God is faithful.
After that, I was on the path to true healing. Only time allowed the pain to fade, but like I mentioned earlier, every once in awhile, the emotion will resurface. I returned back to Aus with mum who came to support me. And rested both physically, emotionally and spiritually. Hubby followed soon after.
I received 2 Timothy 3:11-12 in a devo not long after being reunited in Aus with my Hubby. ~ ‘the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.’ Was so encouraged that God was with us during all of this. That we go through life’s trials and troubles hand in hand. Living a godly life involves persecution. Life is not meant to be easy, and no one should expect it to be so.
I also came across John 15, as Hubby encouraged me to read it one day. That we should remain in God and He in us. That I long after Him, I pursue Him, I want to be close to Him, that His Word guides all of my actions because it is a part of me. God remaining in us – WOW. If He is in us, nothing can go against us and bring us down, as nothing can bring God down. And if He is in us, we should be lessened and others should see us less, but Him instead. That Love and commands go hand in hand. Obedience is our response to God’s love. God gives us commands as His love to us, because He loves us, He commands certain things of us. To grow and nurture us, just like parent and child.
Complete joy, what a concept! God tells us all this so that we may have His joy. What other joy can be more complete than what God has? It is a daily battle for me – JOY. It is through the thick and thin that we get this, and I feel the more peaks and valleys we experience in our life walk, the greater the joy we experience.
It’s taken some time for me to share this blog publicly. I wrote it awhile back, but just knew I wanted it to be something that takes the focus off me, off Hubby, and puts it squarely back on God. He is the one who knows all things, and knows the pain we go through. Hubby and I have come out of this stronger. Just like with the depression, it was a hard hit on marriage, but to get up and keep fighting, that is what makes us stronger. So cliche, but so true. Only those that have gone through loss or grief will understand.
I remember, during the first week back from Thailand whilst going through the miscarriage, I was struggling one day and hubby showed me a journal entry he had written. I remember that he asked God when were we going to ‘catch a break’. Especially after going through depression and anxiety, it just seemed like blow after blow to me, to us. Looking back on that, we both had very human emotions, and that is OK. We learnt through all of this, that God, through our own weaknesses, triumphs. Hubby and I shared about our last (what may seem to be a shocking) year with two services in Melb, and we prayed that they could see Him through it all. That the joy far outweighed the grief, trials and troubles we went through. We are both so much stronger and know that we want to help others who are or were in a similar situation. We don’t want to be surface Christians, those whose lives are seemingly ‘all good’. It upsets me that that is how I was before going to China – a ‘good’ person or a ‘good Christian’. No one is ‘good’. So, we are ready to be open, transparent and vulnerable, if that makes God higher, and us less.
Thanks to all those that have supported us. You know who you are and what you mean to us. Share this with people you feel the need to, who need to hear something like this. Also, we can be contacted to talk and support you too.
We are in this together. And I can say, it is well, with my soul…
What an interesting this turn of events over the weekend has been. On the 26th June 2015, there was a 5 – 4 decision, the Supreme Court of the US ruled that states cannot ban same-sex marriage. Following this, our social media was bombarded with #lovewins and rainbow-minus-one-colour Facebook display picture changes. And this has opened up some sort of debate, and to be honest, an attack on Christians that no one truly expected. Why am I writing about this? Well, I was one of those that truly got caught in the firing line for not supporting “same-sex marriage”.
News Update: All Christians who believe the Bible as truth believe that homosexuality is a sin. Not just me and my husband. All sin has consequences, death. And Christians are NOT exempt.
It truly saddened me this weekend to see what society has become – not the supporting or lack of, for the ‘same-sex marriage’ issue, but the fact that those fighting for what they call ‘love’ and ‘equality’ can be so vindictive and unreasonable. All good to hate all those who oppose you, but expect to be showered with love and equality when you are fighting for your cause. What total double standards and such an immature take on life. Don’t you see that this only makes your community seem defensive and petty?
Anyway, how did this all start for me (or us – hubby and I, we share a Facebook account)? I was reading about this political change in the US and was reading some of my other friend’s feeds on Facebook as many were posting articles. A ridiculous spamming of articles from some pro-gay-marriage supporters (and I mean our entire feed was taken up by the same person posting shared articles at one point) caused me to be curious to see if any Christians had put their two cents in. And I was encouraged by an article my previous pastor’s wife had posted, a John Piper article called ‘So-Called Same-Sex Marriage: Lamenting the new calamity’. It talked about the sadness we feel as Christians to the legalisation of sin. Our hearts break, but we grieve with God. That we are sad because this is only going to be harder and sadder for all of us (Christians and the gay community). So, first time ever sharing an article of any sort really, I shared it to my Facebook feed.
And that is where it begins. Two friends, whom i’d say, since highschool days have not said more than 50 words to me in total, felt the need to put their points of view on my shared article, on my feed. Being pro – LGBTQI (everytime i look at this abbrieviation, it gets longer), both tried to put their views of love, equality and non-discrimination in a PC way, for all to read in their comments under the article. But in actual fact, they were just clearly wanting to start something with the Christians and all those who do not share their view. What a sad reality that this ‘so-called’ loving community has people who are just angry, rude, bitter, unreasonable and (dare I say it) Christian-haters. And they’re all about love? What a farce. Sad, because I have friends in this community who are the exact opposite. Who really do love, struggle with life, and treat all others as brothers and sisters. And yes, they are my real friends, who know me, know my views on my faith, know my beliefs on this issue and truly see that a real friend would never hurt another intentionally. And of course, on-top of this, a debate from many began.
Anyway, hubby and I were a bit troubled by this whole debacle and were really praying how to glorify God in this.
And then came today’s devotion – from ODB. WOW.
The passage: (Genesis 19 : 12 – 25) Lot flees Sodom and Gomorrah, just before the city is destroyed by God. I thought it was a bit much for the current haps, bit too intense, but coincidence? I think not. v.13 ‘The outcry to the Lord against its people is so great that he sent us to destroy it.’ It’s interesting to note that the article I read ended with ‘love for the name of God and compassion for the city of destruction.’ John Piper also quotes Psalm 119:136 in ending, ‘My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law.’ That God would have to send his angels to destroy people He so loved and created. How heart-breaking, and probably what hit home with me today, to see people destroyed. And I think, knowing the reality of it going to be such a harder journey to get out of this.
In v.16 when there was hesitation or resistance to God, God sent the two angels to lead Lot and his family to safety because of God’s mercy. God is merciful.
In ODB, I was encouraged by this: ‘When we encounter people lashing out in spiritual desperation and fear, may we have God’s wisdom to show His love to them – and to every person who is reluctant to be rescued by Him. God’s mercy can overcome our resistance.’
So timely, as always. I’ve been saddened by the reactions that us sharing this article had on these people. It has really shown me that some of the LGBTQI community are unreasonable, talk about love and don’t show it, angry, bitter and basically, Christian-haters. I said it. I hope my small encounter with these two are not representative of the whole. And it is sad and frustrating that they may not have understood that all we wanted was to try and understand each other. Not that we ever will, we may never fully understand each other, but that is OK. Christians are also not out of the firing line. We have, as history (and recent) events have shown, not handled persecution or adversity well. But I don’t believe that hubby and I have ever been defensive, stubborn or unreasonable with our faith. We are firm in what we believe, but understand this is not to be forced on others. But hey, whilst doing devo I discovered, it is honestly not the Christians that people hate, but Christ himself. The realisation of this during my devo time really encouraged me.
This verse came to mind… (Galatians 2:20) ‘I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.’ And I truly believe that what people without Christ find offensive, is Christ. WOW. It also encourages me that I am showing enough of Christ that He is tangible. They can see Him and feel the need to oppose and attack. Or at least feel uncomfortable.
‘In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’ (John 16 : 33)
I am so encouraged! So, instead of feeling upset and frustrated about the situation, and not sure how to respond, I was so full of comfort and peace! And it could only have come from God.
What a wonderful outcome to something that seemed sure to fall on its face. I do pray for the friends however, and anyone else in our circles who feels so bitter and anger from whatever life experiences they have endured to become this way (Christian and gay community alike). But something that I learnt from this is, I don’t know what they have gone through, and they do not know what I have gone through. Let’s not assume, but allow there to be open conversation. All this misunderstanding is coming from assumptions. You have no idea about someone else’s life, so why discriminate? What someone posts on their public social media, is up to them. I don’t get all up in their faces when they post what they perceive to be great news, but I don’t necessarily agree. And I don’t expect them to do the same to me. What they have done and continue to do is disrespectful and gives such a bad impression of the ‘rainbow’ community. So sad (and it looks like the Christian community is not much different – we don’t need you guys to argue the point for us. It is futile and we’d much rather our friends come and seek us out for discussion, as friends).
It’s quite ridiculous that things like this can get so blown out of proportion. But as a Christian, we can only expect more of this to occur, not less. I don’t feel like I need to hide my faith, or my beliefs. And to be honest, with the world the way it is, I’m glad that we get to look forward to God’s new kingdom. Where this #firstworldproblem is a tiny speck (if even) in eternity. So ridiculous. *sigh*
#lovewins? The reality is, #lovealreadywon a long time ago. And whatever your opinion, that is OK, we are all entitled to opinions.
So I’ve not given a proper update in a long while. And was wondering what to do about it. Was actually going to vlog it, and still may, but wanted to write something first. To be honest, I’ve been taking a break from emails, blogs, etc. I think with the sudden influx of responses and support (which is all good to me), I was a little overwhelmed. But I think I’m about ready to get back to it!
Anyway, how’ve I been going? Well. I’ve since been back from a trip to Malaysia to visit family and most importantly, my parents. They actually arranged this for me which was such a blessing! I was a little nervous about the trip as a whole as I would be travelling alone, without my hubby. And I’d not done a solo trip overseas since I was 16. Which was a long…… time ago. So, I was a little emotional on the bus to the airport, and on the plane.
So, I was in Malaysia for 2 weeks and it was such a blessing to me in so many ways. Every family member, and friend who I met were so lovely and made me feel so welcome. Most probably did not know what I was going through necessarily, but were so hospitable anyway. My parents were very understanding, and I think them seeing me in the flesh also put their hearts at ease. It was a good time and at the time, definitely what I needed. I was also able to share with some extended family about my struggles and it was just so great. The reaction and support I received was very positive and I felt very encouraged. Thanks to my parents for being so generous and supportive of the rest and family comfortableness (?!) that I needed. Thanks to my dear cousin and husband for allowing me to stay with them whilst I was there. It was such a good break and a lovely home. Thanks also to my Aunt who was so lovely and accommodating at the beginning and end of our trip, as always!
It was a bit of a different trip for me. I felt like I was able to really talk and spend more time with my cousins and family. It was really such an uplifting time overall.
But, glad to be reunited with my hubby after 2.5 weeks. This was definitely the longest we’d been apart since getting married. But at the same time, good that I was able to do that too. To know that I can still do things on my own without freaking out.
So, how’ve been since coming back? I’ve been ok. Got sick almost immediately after arriving back. Flu, then got infections, then got allergic to the medication I was taking for the infections. Had cold sore attacks that I’ve never seen that extreme before. Seriously gross and recurred. Which was so so frustrating and discouraging. It was so uncomfortable and sore. So yeah, had a bit of a down period. I was thinking up how to discribe how I felt, but ‘afflicted’ is the best word for it. A friend sent me Lam 3. And I would encourage anyone going through afflictions to read this and be encouraged.
So yes, more bad days than good in the last month. But having all these allowed me to spend quality time at home. I picked up crochet, cross-stitch and of course, drawing. Love it! Couldn’t believe I could crochet a scarf in like two days… Cross stitch I chose was a huge one…. and it is taking some time to complete. Drawing has been such a fantastic activity and hobby for me. Wow. As Dr said, I need to spend a bit of time daily doing a hobby. It definitely de-stresses me and is actually quite fun. Helps when I have insomnia too. Was encouraged by a friend to do a blog post of my DnA doodles. Might do that, or a video of it next. Will see. I’ve also discovered certain forms of doodling create feelings of stress relief. So I might share that too. Not sure.
Been thinking of vlogging (video logging) my feelings and how the days go for me. Not too sure. But it would be alot easier to do that than to spend ages typing out what I’m wanting to say. Also, it may show people back home how we are going and how life is for us here. Anyway, any feedback on that would be appreciated. Not that there would be much to vlog on…. but still.
I’ll leave you with the encouraging passages I’ve drawn so much from, in Lam 3. The bolded section was especially helpful.
I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of the Lord’s wrath. 2 He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light; 3 indeed, he has turned his hand against me again and again, all day long.
4 He has made my skin and my flesh grow old and has broken my bones. 5 He has besieged me and surrounded me with bitterness and hardship. 6 He has made me dwell in darkness like those long dead.
7 He has walled me in so I cannot escape; he has weighed me down with chains. 8 Even when I call out or cry for help, he shuts out my prayer. 9 He has barred my way with blocks of stone; he has made my paths crooked.
10 Like a bear lying in wait, like a lion in hiding, 11 he dragged me from the path and mangled me and left me without help. 12 He drew his bow and made me the target for his arrows.
13 He pierced my heart with arrows from his quiver. 14 I became the laughingstock of all my people; they mock me in song all day long. 15 He has filled me with bitter herbs and given me gall to drink.
16 He has broken my teeth with gravel; he has trampled me in the dust. 17 I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is. 18 So I say, “My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the Lord.”
19I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. 20 I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. 21 Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; 26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. 27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young.
28 Let him sit alone in silence, for the Lord has laid it on him. 29 Let him bury his face in the dust— there may yet be hope. 30 Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him, and let him be filled with disgrace.
31 For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. 32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. 33 For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone.
34 To crush underfoot all prisoners in the land, 35 to deny people their rights before the Most High, 36 to deprive them of justice— would not the Lord see such things?
37 Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it? 38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come? 39 Why should the living complain when punished for their sins?
40 Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord. 41 Let us lift up our hearts and our hands to God in heaven, and say: 42 “We have sinned and rebelled and you have not forgiven.
43 “You have covered yourself with anger and pursued us; you have slain without pity. 44 You have covered yourself with a cloud so that no prayer can get through. 45 You have made us scum and refuse among the nations.
46 “All our enemies have opened their mouths wide against us. 47 We have suffered terror and pitfalls, ruin and destruction.” 48 Streams of tears flow from my eyes because my people are destroyed.
49 My eyes will flow unceasingly, without relief, 50 until the Lord looks down from heaven and sees. 51 What I see brings grief to my soul because of all the women of my city.
52 Those who were my enemies without cause hunted me like a bird. 53 They tried to end my life in a pit and threw stones at me; 54 the waters closed over my head, and I thought I was about to perish.
55 I called on your name, Lord, from the depths of the pit. 56 You heard my plea: “Do not close your ears to my cry for relief.” 57 You came near when I called you, and you said, “Do not fear.”
58 You, Lord, took up my case; you redeemed my life. 59 Lord, you have seen the wrong done to me. Uphold my cause! 60 You have seen the depth of their vengeance, all their plots against me.
61 Lord, you have heard their insults, all their plots against me— 62 what my enemies whisper and mutter against me all day long. 63 Look at them! Sitting or standing, they mock me in their songs.
64 Pay them back what they deserve, Lord, for what their hands have done. 65 Put a veil over their hearts, and may your curse be on them! 66 Pursue them in anger and destroy them from under the heavens of the Lord.
After things really started to look positive for me, whilst undergoing counselling in Chiang Mai, I was starting to be less emotional, more thoughtful and was able to really sit down and process where I was at.
It brought some things to my attention that disturbed me, but also gave me some discussion points for further sessions.
Journal Entry ~ 15.7.14
Just talking with hubby about how we are going with the sessions and how i’m feeling currently. He initiated this chat, which I thought was pretty great.
Three things that I’ve noticed for myself that are pretty big changes to my character/personality:
I’ve become less extroverted and more introverted over the months. I avoid social gatherings at times. I don’t want to share with others. I avoid talking. Wanted to be at home (apartment) a lot.
Becoming more unreasonable? Not sure how to explain this right. I guess, not being as flexible as I used to be. Worrying about things that don’t need to be worried about. Like getting very easily upset, angry or frustrated when things do not go the way I would want. Maybe getting more sensitive? Getting frustrated and upset with myself very often and quickly over trivial things.
Not wanting to make decisions on things. Like dinner, or trivial small matters. Whereas in the past, I did not mind. I know that Hubby doesn’t like to make those decisions, so I feel like doing it would be OK for me as I don’t mind. Having someone else decide is easier. I feel like having to decide and plan something, like dinner, is too exhausting.
Dr said changes are normal in someone with depression. Personality changes can be very difficult to cope with, let alone the person going through it. Dr also said that depression can cause divorce in this way, because it remains undetected or not treated. So, I’m to look for big changes in my character and behaviour. But I also need to be careful to not put too much pressure on myself to return things to how they were, to not force myself to be back to my usual self right away.
Also, with my introverted current self, I need to try and attend good social gatherings that make me happy and if I don’t feel comfortable, or too stressed by the environment or situation, to not force it upon myself. It’s okay to not be doing all of the social events now. Dr also mentioned that a ‘healthy extrovert’ will exercise introversion at times. This was comforting to me.
We discussed more and more the things that were causing me anxiety.
In the sessions, we also discussed how work was affecting me. How it was causing me stress. I think I felt that work was outside of my control. I’m a fairly structured person who likes to be organised. And I found that I just was not coping well with it. For once in my life, this was something I just could not cope with.
My exhaustion and tiredness was still there during that first week in Chiang Mai. But, maybe because I was not in the busy environment of China, and was not doing the work that contributed to my anxiety, I was finding it pretty chill. More well rested. Sleep was also doing pretty well. It was much quieter there than in China.
Journal Entry ~ 10.7.14
Dr has asked me to do a few things:
To practice body muscle relaxation. Lie on the bed and practice tensing and relaxing specific parts of my body. Starting from the toes and move up. It’s supposed to teach my brain and body about being aware of tension and relaxation. It’s meant to take 20 minutes, but gets faster as you get better at it.
To breathe (into a paper bag if available) if I’m experiencing an anxiety panic attack. If there is no bag, then tell myself that I am feeling an anxiety attack, that it does not feel good, and that it will pass soon. Within 10 – 20 minutes.
Tell hubby when I’m emotional or angry – to give me some time to process things. When to tell hubby to leave me alone – even if I don’t know why – regardless of what it is. Make sure that I am clear about what I would like of him to be doing at that emotional point in time. To be there, or to leave me alone.
Devo: Psalm 121
Probably my favourite Psalm to date.
Always perfect timing for these verses. Father really knows exactly what I need and when I need it. I really feel so blessed by Him. I’m reminded of the truth in these verses. That I need to look to the Son, my Redeemer.
We also did the Stress Test later that day. I scored 103.66. Which was very high for the test. It showed that I really needed to work on quite a few areas that were causing me stress. Work was the biggest area.
I feel so supported by the organisation that they’ve taken me off the ST role. It has definitely contributed to less stress on me. I am slowly learning to not feel guilty for not doing the role, and leaving half way. The people around me and related to the role have all been so supportive. Even the ST volunteers who I left in the middle of their time there.
Things really start to feel better for me. And the journal entries during this time away really showed this.
Journal Entry ~ 11.7.14
I really believe God has been with me and provided me with acknowledgements of His presence. So grateful and comforted to know He has my back.
I actually began to look forward to discovering things about my depression and anxiety, and how to help me cope with the symptoms. Also, we started to delve into what the root causes were. And also, how to manage any future panic attacks.
Journal Entry ~ 9.7.14
Devo: Philippians 4 : 6-9
Father’s Peace with Us
Anxiety -> Pr@y + Plead to Father + Thanksgiving -> Ask Father = PEACE in hearts and mind (through the Son)
Put into practice what I have experienced from Father. –> Father’s peace will be with me.
Talk about timing. I’m doing ODB while we are here in Thailand. My mind is a little ‘all over the place’ and can be a struggle to focus, but I really feel like we have such a great devotion every morning. It really brings me joy. This peace that is spoken of in these verses comes from confidence that the Father loves us and is in control. He alone provides comfort that settles our nerves, fills our minds with hope and allows us to relax even in the midst of changes and challenges.
Replace anxiety with expectant trust and grateful prayer. Trust the Father – He answers pr@yer.
I feel like I do understand this and believe it, but why am I still experiencing what I feel? Why are my physical symptoms not a reflection of this? It’s so frustrating.
I want to know Father better through this experience. I know it is not about coincidence, but about his plan for my growth. I know this for sure.
Today’s counselling session was actually really good. Dr has started to probe around the events of stress and associated symptoms that followed. Still trying to figure it all out. The two episodes of shortness of breath, heart palpitations and difficulty swallowing were actually panic attacks, triggered by anxiety or stress. One happened while watching Transformers 4 (not a scary movie – haha) and the other before class at the crowded bus stop and on the bus. At least now I know and understand that feeling like that is actually an anxiety attack. What a relief! I honestly thought I was dying from a heart attack or anaphylactic shock. Such a relief and gives me an idea of what to look out for if I have another one in future.
He also told me how to manage the attacks in future. He told me to admit to myself (talk to myself, if need be) that I’m having a panic attack. That it doesn’t feel good. That it feels terrible. That I’m not dying. That it is only temporary and will be over in 10 – 20 minutes. He also said that when I see people in movies or whatever breathe into a paper bag when they are hyperventilating, that it actually helps them to even out their carbon dioxide and oxygen levels. Which was just so helpful! But, very unlikely that I will have a paper bag on me during those times. So, I need to take slow, even, deep breaths.
Today, we talked about our stress, work – friends – church. Also mentioned the break-in and related violated feeling that it brought up. Dr thinks that my depression actually started (most likely) from then. It was like the first big traumatic event, late last year. Club/M stress and burdens -> also outlined a bit of the stress brought on by some of the meetings we had in our recent trip back.
I feel like some progress is being made in the sessions. We are definitely exploring things that have been on our minds much more.
So we were on a plane as soon as possible to Chiang Mai. My first time there. It was a cute little place. More like a large town than a city.
We were set up for 10 sessions all up, one a day, every weekday. This counselling place is based on donations, which is amazing. So blessed to have such a wonderful resource for people.
Journal Entry ~ 7.7.14
Devo: Jeremiah 6: 13-20
This passage speaks about greed and not giving Father your heart. People not listening to the true prophets, but instead, choosing false ones. In the final verse, v.20, it mentions that the ‘burnt offerings are not acceptable’. After the preparation, cost and time people put into something that should be sacrificed to Father, to find out that the sacrifice is not pleasing to Him. What a waste.
The attitude of a person’s heart and the way we live out our lives matters to Father more than things we do out of habit, or for appearances.
This is especially important for me now as I feel that a lot of what I’m doing in the ST role, aside from desiring to serve Him, is for face value. Why I accepted the role had a lot to do with how I would appear to others – at the organisation and in Melbourne. To fill a need, I am an able body, with able hands. This upsets me as I never thought I would need to worry about how I would appear to others. To do things based on what other people expect of me – when the Father himself so clearly wanted me to know that being obedient to His will (which we already were, in being in China) really should have been enough. Maybe my desire to help others and not being merely content with where and how He had put me where I was got me into my current predicament.
So, here I am in Chiang Mai. And it all started from an email (that I was non too excited about sending) that has brought us here. This email outlined my stress, anxiety and depressed feelings. I’m glad that the organisation’s leaders felt immediate action was required and strongly encouraged me to get help. They also helped me put down the ST role at the organisation for now.
It’s been tough, as it is the busiest time of the year and I feel really responsible for my role.
But, right now, I feel so grateful to be here, in Chiang Mai, seeking help. I’m looking forward to finding some answers and getting on my way to recovery. We will be attending the first session later today. I do look forward to it. But, not sure what to expect. I’m glad hubby is with me and is also looking for ways to help support me and understand things better too.
I don’t know what I expected in the first session with a psychiatrist. And, yes, even after studying psychology in high school, I still pictured a dark room with a lounge-type couch which I would have to lay on. An old woman wearing glasses and a clip board, furiously writing down all I said (or not!).
I was only partially right, the bit about the glasses. LOL.
Journal Entry ~ 8.7.14
Yesterday at the counselling session, I was really not too sure what to expect. I saw Dr and his two interns. They asked us questions and listened. Hubby was in this session with me. He wasn’t sure if he’d be in all sessions, or just some of them. With me having a few on my own. Dr concluded that based on my symptoms (from the questions asked in the session and the client information I provided prior to going to Chiang Mai), I have depression and anxiety. And that they both spur the other on – as to which is causing which.
I got a bit teary and emotional at that as it was such a relief to hear someone say what I had. I just hated not knowing what was going on, and it gave me so much clarity and relief. Now, it’s about how to combat and manage it all.
The session has prompted hubby and I to really talk things through. Not that we weren’t but that we needed to do it consciously and effectively. I think especially for hubby, he is very uncertain in how things can be handled in my situation. I don’t think he realised just how serious this was in the beginning. I do get the feeling that he wants some ‘quick fix’ solutions. Which I’m not sure how to handle, but I’m looking forward to some improvements in our communication.
I’m relieved to see that Hubby has been very supportive in ways that he knows how, and really becoming more comfortable with counselling. I’m feeling very blessed and need to think of a way to let him know how blessed I am by his efforts.
Continual pr@yer is required and I know the road to full recovery will be tough.
So, I’d reached a point where I realised something was not quite right, and it was time to do something about it. Still took so much for me to do this. I’m a high achiever, a person used to being ‘capable’. Admitting this was not easy, and still isn’t easy. But it gets easier.
Some passages that encouraged me during this time are down below. As always, so timely. Even though they never boast to have answers to my questions, I felt as if they were there – speaking to just me, in just that way.
Journal Entry ~ 24.6.14
Devo: Acts 25 : 23, 26 : 1 – 30
This passage speaks about this lady Bernice and her husband Agrippa. They were visiting Felix and Paul was under trial. During Paul’s testimony, he still tried to preach the Gspl to them via his own witness. Bernice listened, but as her husband rejected the good news, she just followed him. There was no personal response on her part. She just did what was easy and will never be mentioned again in the Bble.
It’s a lesson and reminder to not assume my husbands’ identity as my own. That I too know where I fit in. I too have to make my own response.
Yesterday, I again had an emotional meltdown whilst talking to one of the leaders in the office. All about work, etc. I’ve already done a few things to help my current situation.
I’ve emailed my leaders, about how i’m feeling towards work and my role.
I’ve looked into a local counselling service and am waiting to hear back from them.
I’m talking more about all of it to make sure I’m not internalising it, especially with hubby.
Hopefully, slowly getting to a point of understanding.
And slowly, I saw that Father was teaching me to hold onto His promises. Yes, that He is right there, waiting for me to notice Him. That I was not alone.
Journal Entry ~ 26.6.14
Devo: Numbers: 5 : 11
Coheirs with Chr1st. It was a real comfort to receive this word and encouragement today. I think sometimes, even in our current ‘modern’ society, we are not seen, as women, to be completely equal with men. Maybe, for certain things, we never will be.
But I think for me, I’m really grateful that Father wants us to take part of the Son’s inheritance. We too are coheirs.
It’s really encouraging that these 5 daughters in the passage spoke up and asked for what inheritance was owed them. I’m surprised that they did. But, because of their courage, they were able to claim what was rightfully theirs, and part of the Father’s promised land.
I think it’s an important reminder to me, especially now, that I need to do the same. Claim His promises.
I’m still confused about my role and position in China, but I know Father will reveal things more clearly, the more I seek Him and His direction for my life.
At this point, we were definitely at the point where we were seeking help.
Journal Entry ~ 30.6.14
On Sunday, the time at the service was a really wonderful time as the speaker talked about LONELINESS.
It was actually a very timely message for hubby and I. A reminder to have an outlet and also to remember in the times of depression or loneliness, Father never leaves. He is there, and not always does he bring you out of it straightaway.
Anyway, at the moment, I’m still feeling emotional. I don’t feel like hubby really knows what to do either. I fear he actually is feeling smothered. Part of it scares me as I know that feeling smothered will only push him further away. I’ve expressed to hubby that that’s how I feel about it. Anyway, we’ve been referred to a counselling service in Chiang Mai. They have believing workers and is for people who are struggling with life as an m in Asia.
See where this leads us.
This is the point where the organisation were supportive and took the ST role off my hands and I was able to go to get counselling help overseas without worrying about the responsibilities.
At this point, I was quite down and was feeling very alienated. Mostly my own doing, but not a good place to be. It was a time when I really needed people to support me, but I was subconsciously removing myself from their presence.
Strangely, during the time where I felt Father would have been the furthest from me, I felt like He was closer than ever. I will include some devos I had during my journal entries to show that I was still getting encouragement and comfort from His Word.
Journal Entry 19.6.14 Devo: Mark 5 : 42 – 43
I am so exhausted! Yesterday was a really tough day. I went into work and tried to be positive. Hubby really helped me out alot. A colleague was so loving and kind. She really helped me out with the stress I was under. So, puffy eyed, I still soldiered on. I’m so grateful for the support and help. I know I need to stop being so stressed, but just really don’t know how to.
Reading this story of Jarius’ daughter, I’m reminded that my Father really cares for me. He will not give up on me even when it may feel like the world has.
Will be going into work today. I’m grateful for it. Yes, I need to make my desk look and feel less sterile. And I need a new attitude. I just need His strength and provision that all will be OK.
The last part, the fact that I felt that something like changing my work environment to be more comfortable, and to change my own attitude would help. But, unfortunately, they didn’t. And I think each time, I really thought the solutions, either sp or physical, would really help. First time in my life where I felt really stumped. That almost nothing I tried worked.
A few days later, I think I came to the realisation that something abnormal was going on with me. That I shouldn’t be feeling his anxious or down for this long. And it was such a huge turning point.
Journal Entry 21.6.14
Today’s reading was about how Father provided manna for the Israelites. So convenient, yet it still required work on their behalf.
A reminder that sp growth still requires work.
I’ve actually had a really shocking week. I’m feeling very much overwhelmed about being ST coordinator for the organisation. I also feel like I’d like to improve their systems and how things are done.
I think I will be emailing my supervisor this week about this role and how I feel.
I think much of the stress will be worked off if i can get help on the setting up meetings end (sometimes my role required me to set up meetings for people coming to visit – many times, multiple meetings with people I’ve never met or spoken to). That causes a great deal of stress for me and I struggled as I did not have many of the contacts. Language barrier as well.
I’m in a real exhausted state and really can’t do much better.
I feel much of the perceived stress is from the leadership. But, I think I need to be more bold and assertive.
I understood that being bold and assertive would not help, as it was only a small part of a larger problem. The way the role is set up, there are things that are unsaid. Too many unsaid expectations that are unclear to a new-comer, like myself.
Also, starting to think of things back home and how it all affected me… I really began to realise that I was putting too much pressure on myself. Too much of a high achiever.