Sandwiches & Privilege 

14 03 2016

Had an amazing conversation with my 8 yo in the car tonight. We were at a Subway restaurant where there were several frustrating dynamics occurring simultaneously. As we arrived at 8:15/8:20 we were told they only had two types of bread left, then 8:25ish as we sat down with our meal they asked a group of people at two tables next to us to please leave since they weren’t paying customers and only there for the wifi. They also asked those of us who were paying customers to eat quickly and wrap it because they were closing the restaurant due to bread shortage. At 8:35 some young men were still at the table studying and the employees again told them they needed to leave since they hadn’t purchased anything. One of the guys called the employee names using derogatory words and said he was staying until 9pm because that is what the sign says and their power was out and they needed to complete an assignment. The male employee threatened to call the cops and there was more interaction. Eventually the quiet guy offered to buy a drink and they refused to serve him because of the friend’s attitude. 

While that interaction was occurring there was a homeless woman also in the restaurant who spoke up loudly saying “Guys, Burger King is open for awhile so just go there” they argued about whether or not there was wifi and decided to stay and stand their ground until police showed up. 

There was a point the women got up and went over to the drink area and grabbed a bunch of sugars. The female employee started yelling from behind the counter “Lady, lady, you need to stop and get out of here”. Then some device she was carrying dropped and the batteries fell out near us, Katie helped pick up the pieces. Meanwhile I could hear the employee loudly commenting to other customers that she came in to buy a drink and then continues to sneak over for more and is just drinking and drinking the water. 

At 8:40, a customer who just got his food (and likely the last load of sandwich bread) sat down at the table next to us and as he was going to bite his sandwich the woman employee came over and said “Sir you need to leave now because we have no more bread and are closing the store.” The man looked up and asked “Seriously?” and she said “Yes, we are closing the store you need to leave” and she gave me a look as well. So he got up and left annoyed and I wrapped up our food and told Katie we needed to go. She asked “Why – didn’t they say the are open until 9p?”. She is loud in her questioning and kept asking Why mommy? And as we went out the door I said “You can ask them if they want, but they say we can’t stay because they are out of bread.” 

At 8:43 we were in our car and they had turned out their lights and the young study buddies were still there. Katie noticed and wondered if the police were going to come and she called the Subway employees evil meanies. 

From there on our drive home we talked about why the Subway employees were upset about the wifi non-paying customers and the homeless woman. She wondered why employees at restaurants haven’t asked her to stop when she took extra sugars for her lemonade and I said it was likely because they assumed your family had money to pay and a knowingly homeless person gets judged differently because there is assumption they don’t have the money to be paying customers. She asked why they couldn’t give wifi to someone whose power was knocked out by the weather. She asked why places can’t let homeless people stay in when it was cold – we talked about various perceptions in society and different reactions. We also talked about some models of businesses who do choose to help or offer assistance and how sometimes there are a few persons unfortunately abuse and take advantage of the offering that kind of ruins it for others.

Another part we talked about was how to be arm respectful customer if you are not being treated well. For instance I think the study buddies were rude, but the Subway employees didn’t exactly have the best behavior either. 

I love my daughter’s heart. I told her even though we don’t always have the extra money for things we do have a home, food, cars, jobs, school, and this makes us rich compared to others. This gives a privilege and it isn’t something we are always aware of. Of course there are privileges we don’t have but we have more privilege than others. I talked with my 8 yr old about the privilege she has and how we need to be aware how people see us compared to others and we need to be aware so that we can speak up for injustices or learn how to right wrongs and difficult privilege-based situations in society. She wants to be a change maker and I pray her heart won’t be jaded. 


Depression and PMDD

3 06 2013

Depression is a weird phenomena. I have been spiraling into a season of depression – yes I live in Washington state where we have some of the highest rates of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), but it often seems to hit me in the Spring rather than the winter. I’m not sure why. I admit it isn’t as bad as last year or even two years ago. Last spring, my depression was more anger concentrated. I really felt very angry a lot of the time. I wanted to rip off the heads of my children (and any of their friends who annoyed me), cried because I couldn’t do anything right as a mother or a minister, a lot of performance anxiety as far as getting my job done as a mother, minister, and wife. Now it is more of a lack-of-motivation, lack-of-confidence-in-myself, insecurity-of-who-I-am, low self-worth, and always wanting to sleep and slip away from everyone else type of depression.

The hardest part about depression is coming out of the fog admitting it and then having to pick up all the pieces that have fallen apart and figuring out how to glue them back together and catch up with life. Having depression makes you feel worthless and then having to put life back together means you have to admit you’ve been slacking (somewhat on purpose – even though you didn’t realize it was happening). You have to apologize, but its not your fault. You have to work to get better, even though it is likely a condition you’ll always have. You want to get better and yet you feel so held back by all the hurdles in front of you. And even with a lot of support and encouragement from those surrounding you (which is helpful!), it is still hard to get going again because you’re afraid to let those you love and careful down – again.

A little over a year ago I was diagnosed with PMDD – PreMenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. Now, the new DSM-V does not acknowlege PMS as a disorder but is does acknowledge PMDD.  (Not to be confused with PPD, PostPartum Depression – or PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). It is a hormonal imbalance disorder that I have been gifted by my genes – I’ve discovered via conversations with my mother and observation of women in my family line.

I’m still figuring out how to live with PMDD, it might go away some day, it might stay with me forever. I have medication (flouxetine) and I believe that has helped me to manage a great deal of anger and anxiety. The next step is tackling the depression that I’m certain is both a product of and contributor to having PMDD.

I think I’m blogging about this to share with others why I may seem so “out of it” or non-committal to many things. I’m wanting to continue on with life, just needing naps to stave off fatigue and achy muscles and it sucks my motivation to get even the smallest tasks accomplished on time. I’m not intentionally lazy or whatever else one might label my actions. I do wish I could change it all over night and just make this bad dream go away.

Another thing about depression – living with it you still feel like your ‘illness’ is nothing compared to cancer (of whom I know so many are fighting), diabetes, and so many other physical ailments. It seems like it is something so easy to shake. All the research, articles, and blogs tell you it can be just as debilitating but you can’t bring yourself to believe it and you feel so ashamed of your lack of accomplishments.

Praying for my healing and praying for healing for others dealing with PMDD and depression and similar hidden illnesses today.

How Dare You…

6 11 2012

…these are the words than kept running through my mind as I sat in a local coffee shop this afternoon pouring over church work. In the background, I overheard a very frustrating political conversation. In my mind, it was very much an example of how NOT to mentor someone and I wanted to walk over and say “How Dare You..”, but I didn’t know how, so I prayed for them as they spoke behind me.

To preface my vent, I’ll let you know that politically I am more independent than liberal or conservative, but probably somewhat of a conservative liberal if I must choose. Regardless, my political viewpoint isn’t what matters here. Anyways, this older woman was very loudly talking to an obviously developmentally-delayed young woman. They were discussing current local political issues – like marriage equality and what it means to vote like a Christian.

The older woman was quite obviously, vehemently, against anything/anyone that supported homosexual relationships. I didn’t know the relationship between these two women, but I could tell the older woman was in someway a mentor/guidance type of person in the young woman’s life. The young woman would ask a very basic question and state her belief and the older woman retorted back.. ” Ok, I hear you, but you really shouldn’t think that way. If you want to make Christian choices you need to believe this way..” And she proceeded to tell her how she was wrong and what she needed to believe. I think what irked me the most was not the older woman’s beliefs but the condescending tone she took to this woman with developmental disabilities. It sounded like such an abusive conversation, like she was taking advantage of the young lady’s disability – treating her as weak and vulnerable and assuming she was unable to make any sound moral judgments. It was as if she didn’t believe this young woman was capable of being Christian without being forced into believing the truth.

I don’t know if this makes any sense. But I simply could not believe someone was so blatantly rude and demeaning like that in a public setting. I pray that the young woman has other mentor in her life who wills treat her with dignity and belief that she is capable of making an informed – not spoon fed – decision. I prays that the older woman will stop abusing others as she seeks to educate.

I pray that we all can treat those who my seem to have different abilities and beliefs with respect – and give them an ounce of credit simply for wanting to be informed. Give them guidance, empowerment, and a voice. And re-direction if needed – but never in a demeaning manner. I especially need to remember this in my life. God give me the strength.

Like they say..”Communication is Key”

29 02 2012
My work in ministry is essentially a ministry of communication. I’m realizing this as I finish up a meeting with our youth ministry intern. It is nothing new… I definitely know I need to be a better communicator on so many levels. It is a matter of making the time, having a plan, getting the right tools in line, honing and acquiring skills. Simple, right? Why is it SO hard sometimes?

In case you wonder, communication with my intern went perfectly well this morning. It was our conversations regarding various transition scenarios that spurred this thought. We have to be intentional in communicating our hopes, dreams, needs, and expectations with teen students, parents, volunteers,committees, church staff and each other. This is no small feat at times. How do we effectively communicate to all these groups in a positive and engaging manner? Also do all this in a timely manner? 

I don’t have the answer except a realization that I need to remember to bring my communication struggles to the cross. I need to lay down my worries, frustration, and crunched time schedule and give them to God. I need to trust God with my time and words – asking for help, guidance, and the right words in the right time (or”write time” as the case may be). I get so very paralyzed by perfection and pride… I need to let go and let God work through the potential messy jumble of my thoughts. 

Depression Sucks

14 11 2011

I have depression – anyone else? It is risky for me to put this blog post out there, but I’m convincing myself that maybe it will help someone else or at least give me something to fall back on and hopefully see progress.

Depression is actually nothing new to my life. Except that it hasn’t been an ‘always’ underlying depression and it hasn’t been something to cure with medications. It happens with life transitions and sneaks up on me… very slowly seeps into my life and takes over my life before I even realize it is there. It always takes some good hard work but eventually I can push it out. Until it comes back again an I have to figure out how to keep going with life while kicking depression out. Below is a post I started several months ago. Somedays I feel better and other days I feel worse.

Fall/Winter is definitely settling in on us in Seattle. Dark before or by 5pm…the depression makes me want to go to bed so much earlier and yet being a mom and a wife doesn’t necessarily allow for that option. I’m realizing I’m going to have to work double time and not let it get the best of me in these dark days. Dear God, be with me in this and keep me strong.

begun on 6/9/11 
I have depression and it sucks. Literally. It sucks the live out of me and I hate it.

I recently began working with a therapist who it seems will be able to help me get my life back on track.

Things I could accomplish and look forward to accomplishing without depression holding me back:

* Not yelling at my children for every little thing. My poor kiddos some days, and of course they yell at each other, because that is what I do to them. Especially as we are going out the door to school and right before dinner and when they won’t get to bed. I know those are normal times to be frustrated with your children, but I know it is possible to be calmer and less perfectionistic in those situations than I am.

* Not annoyed at my husband and his work schedule vs my work schedule. I am the one with ‘flexible’ hours but I get so incredibly jealous that he gets to stay and meet his deadlines while I have to jet off at 2:30 p.m. almost every school day to pick up E and bring her to some activity. Of course after the activity is dinner, homework, bath, getting kiddos to bed, and then maybe clean the house or try to get some work done. Usually I just want to sleep though.

* Have a cleaner home. I wouldn’t just go straight to bed or stare at the internet or sit and wallow if I wasn’t depressed. I’d have the motivation and energy to get this pig stye cleaned up and organized. I did wash dishes tonight… because I can’t sleep. Doug and I always joke about (in a serious manner) how I would make an awful housewife. I rarely get anything done when I have a lot of time at home.

* Be happier… cry less about nothing. I sit and wallow and am hardly motivated. I have friends that right now in real time are dealing with breast cancer treatment, cleaning up a home swallowed in a mudslide, fundraising immediately for friends in need, have more kiddos than I do, are in major pain and taking care of younger kiddos on a regular basis, pregnant, have a newborn baby, etc. I’m constantly in awe of their simple daily accomplishments and wonder WTH is wrong that I can’t be motivated to enjoy life. I would have less negative tweets on Twitter and posts on FB. (edit-I’m actually updating and tweeting less on my depressed days because I’ve recognized this pattern. So if you wonder where I’ve gone either I’m fighting negativity or or perhaps I’m hopping from one thing to the next being productive. I’d prefer the latter.).

* Better able to do my ministry work – coordinating events and communicating with volunteers in a timely manner, supervising interns and leading a planning team more successfully and not so on the fly. Confident, rather than intimidated and paralyzed by fear, when what others will think of my ideas and propositions, and decisions.

* Communicate positively, let alone – on time or in a timely manner.

Drama Tugging my Heart Strings

7 02 2011

Having patience with my three year old at bedtime is tough… and it was when my six year old was three. But I have to say the phase we’re going through now with Ellie (the six year old) is really hard on me. I keep trying to figure out how much to intervene, how much to stay out of the way, how to not control everything, yet how to guide my child and her friends in the right direction. I struggle with worrying too much and worrying not enough. This worry thing isn’t uncommon for me, a battle I fight with myself and ask for God’s help and the grace of others every day. Sometimes I think I want a solution, but I know there never will be one, so I keep trying to convince myself I need to figure out a way for me to cope in a healthy way… rather than let it eat away at me and eventually my daughter and any other girls who come in her path.

We have a neighbor girl who is about 1.5 years (one grade level) older than Ellie. The neighbor girl arrived to our neighborhood almost a year ago now, from China, and plopped right down in the house directly across from us. There are no other elementary or preschool age children on our street and so of course they became instant friends. And it honestly has been a friendship that has caused me stress from day one. Initially the stress was just street crossing fears — don’t get hit by a car please! — and now it is more dreading when the little girl comes over because every encounter seems to end in the two of them disagreeing about what to do together, so they both get their feelings hurt. As a result one girl lashes out making in-your-face hurtful comments and threats, and the other bottles up her hurt, runs away crying, and is afraid to communicate her feelings in words. Every. Single. Time. They. Play. And yet they insist on playing again and again and again. 
The really tough days for me are when a third child (especially a girl) gets in the mix… because they get caught in the middle and end up having an even bigger fight. 
I can vaguely recall having  interactions like this in my younger childhood. Of course, that time was also coupled with my parents having a rough marriage and divorcing. I’m pretty sure I was that ‘cry and run away’ child. So you can easily guess which child is mine in the description above. It makes me wonder what about how I live my life now affects how she deals with her friendships. I’m sure there is a good measure of nature vs. nurture theory where she is simply born with particular personality traits and cry and run is a part of that.
I’ve noticed recently in the past few months that while I let the other child know her comments are hurtful, I have told my child it really isn’t helpful to cry and run away and have tried to change her behavior. In all of that I’ve also come to realize that if I want her to change… then I have to change first. The problem with my changing is not easy to figure out. Perhaps those of you who know me can help and point the obvious to my ignorant self! 
I’m guessing it has to do with how I perceived others viewing me… because she is huge on wanting others to approve of her every action. She is a woman of high self-expectations like her mother. Perhaps there is something in me trying not to have high expectations for how she  and others handle their friendships and letting them figure it out on their own. The part where I get stuck when trying this is when they come to me in a disagreement – Ellie claiming her feelings have been hurt because no one listens to her and the other one saying I don’t know why she is so upset. Sometimes the unknown is genuine but often I can tell their was some intentionality in the words said or the action taken. And after too many of those, I send the friend back. Not because they can’t handle it , but because I can’t handle it anymore (code for I have lost control). And sometimes she gets sent home becaus Mama Bear (Me) doesn’t want to start yelling. 
I’ve decided the best two things I can do about this now is pray asking God for guidance and be aware of my actions, words and the expectations I am setting for Ellie. Also blogging helps me get these thoughts out of my mind so I can sleep.
With that, good night. 🙂

I’m Not Afraid of Phones, People Just Can’t Hear Me

25 01 2011

One of the hardest things for me to do in phone calling volunteers, not because I’m shy to talk on the phone but because God gave me this soft/somewhat high pitched voice that when I leave messages or talk to older volunteers people just don’t hear me well and they let me know. Saves so much frustration for both parties when I can communicate clearly.

Today I’m having to make phone calls and have a scratchy winter cold voice added to it. I have several older (senior age) folks I need to call because they don’t have email. And I know I need to make the calls, but it always takes so long because they can’t hear me and the words they do hear confuse them even more.

Nursery — WHAT!? I was supposed to be taken off that list! Well, yes that is what I’m calling about, I am new at organizign this list and I have your your name… I’ll make sure you’re off it now thanks, bye. I would love to continue saying “But I’m calling to check in with everyone on this so that I can make sure it is correct and check in to see how it is going/has gone, do you have suggestions for supporting future volunteers, thank you for your time helping out. I opt out of the rest of the comment, really wishing I could have continued with out getting somebody all angry because they only heard ‘church’ and ‘nursery’. I just take it as it is and move on, praying they forgive me eventually and continue to the next few calls that are likely to be very similar in tone.

What is more frustrating about this is as an equipper of and communicator to volunteers, I know that some people respond better with Phone calls. The phone is their love language of communication — rather than in person, hand-written note, email, text, facebook,etc. It pains me that I just don’t do this well and it is frustrating to them. So if you are a phone call type of person who gets way to many emails to me, I apologize, its not that I’m afraid to talk to you in person, I’m just afraid you won’t hear me and you’ll get all the words if I put it in writing.

Trust me, if you know me, I love talking to people in person and you probably have a hard time stopping me, especially when I’m tired!

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