Be Free

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Spending time on facebook I see folks struggling right now with colds, flu, and the blues. I am writing this as a template for how I deflect depression in hope something in it might prove helpful.

Many of these tactics were tried in my darkest hours and they were so effective I added them to my arsenal. Even if an exact implement I use might seem unweildy, perhaps just documenting it will suggest something to try.

Spiritual congestion is the primary reason for depression. I know there are those who have hormonal imbalances and brain tumors and other causes, but it is far more likely in most cases that what underlies depression is unresolved conflict with God and/or a human being. When I say underlying, I mean at the core or the base of the condition. There can be layers of sediment hiding the original source from view. Therefore, the best way I've found to dig down to the core, is to

1. VENT. First, before trying this at home, please read how NOT to do this. Experimenting will show that venting to a friend, spouse, pet, wall, ceiling, family member, pastor, or total stranger is not the most effective way to do this. In my experience, (and I've vented to all of those on the previous list), pastors, strangers, and pets will listen if you catch them at the right time. They do make good sounding boards. They don't tend to condemn, placate, defend, or evade as most people will. Still, putting anything or any creature between yourself and the LORD when you vent will impair open/honest expression. It obviously will cause you to consider the object or creature in how you do the venting (how loud, tone of voice, choice of words...); and that is not conducive since the purpose in venting is to pour out your guts without restraint or censure. David does this in the Psalms. That is where I got the idea and my model. The way I do this myself is to go outdoors, someplace out of hearing of anybody, and I literally spill/gush all that I am struggling with to my Father. I don't try to articulate it perfectly. I let it just come out as pus comes out of a lanced abscess. Or as projectile vomit comes out of a sour stomach. Or as mucous spouts as you sneeze and sneeze and sneeze uncontrollably. This is the sort of venting I'm advocating.
 So often people sit down with their Bible and try to read scripture, and try to pray for His help with a matter, but they find themselves besieged with disturbances that keep interrupting  their efforts. They grow weary trying to keep their prayer focused, correctly worded, formal, acceptable,  while at the same time suppressing anger, bitterness, fear, doubt, resentment...some submerged emotion they believe should not be allowed to surface. Instead of sitting down to deal with the issue calmly and collectedly, they need to do something that physically purges their impaction of emotional congestion. In the Bible people cry out to the LORD, or throw themselves down flat on their face (I think that means on the tummy, but it always says on the face), or rend their garments: they express themselves physically. In our day, because we are taught to be quiet and polite, this sort of display does not come naturally to most of us. If we carry on like this around other people (or even pets), they are alarmed for us and may even be afraid of us. So, go apart to a place where no one will hear except Our Father in Heaven.

I have found that when I do this, it is immediately cathartic. It is a huge relief.
In telling Him exactly how I feel and what I believe is wrong, I recognize the truth in what I am saying, and I also see the falsehoods in what I would have said to myself or someone else. When I speak to Him openly, I speak truth because I know I can't fool Him. Just as David's psalms begin with his complaints and end with him coming around to God's perspective, so do my 'venting' prayers. I come away with His mind on the matter(s).

2. Acknowledge what He is doing. I tell Him all that I see He is doing for me at that hour, on that day, at this season. This itemizing of His provisions to me, of the evidences of His care for me, strengthens my awareness of His Presence.
3. Find a Biblical counterpart. I believe that those who were chosen as illustrations in scripture are there as examples for us, but they can be even more. As an avid reader of fiction for most of my life, I found characters I admired or identified with in the pages of novels. I preferred them for the most part to real people. I understood them better. Real people are so complicated. In books, even in the Bible, people are not as dimensional. We know only what we need to know about them in order to comprehend how they lived through particular crises:

how Joseph dealt with sibling rivalry, unfair treatment by his brothers, jealousy and false accusations...
how Noah completed an impossibly complex building project with no encouragement for decades and decades...
how David dealt with betrayal by his closest confidant, contempt from his sons, and grieved the loss of his best friend...
how Elijah showed severe weakness after God gave him an incredible victory...

Each story about an individual in the Bible reminds me God asked him/her to go through a longer, harder, fiercer, scarier trial than whatever I'm up against.  I find instructive what these people did in similar straits to my own.  It is human for us to compare ourselves to others. It is problematic when we do this with those still living. I'm not talking about being inspired by these characters; rather I'm saying our burden is not too much for us to carry and seeing what others have done with their own assignments puts mine into a proper perspective.

4. Ask for His guidance on how to lift my countenance and align my soul with His. I am always enlivened by being out in nature. Getting out of a man-made environment alleviates many factors that contribute to depression. Getting fresh air, sunlight, and seeing His creation is refreshing. Peace is so much harder to attain indoors where there is disorder, things needing to be done, temptations, remnants of unresolved conflicts... But, when I come back from a venting session with the LORD, and a walk in the woods, I am calmed and steadied and able to subsist in my workplace, home or human-engineered world in spite of what is still amiss there.

5. Care for others. The more I pray for others and let Father show me how to love them, the less I am concerned about myself. This is a simple statement but a profound substitution. It is the Christ-like mindset. Selflessness is a state in which one will not suffer depression. 
6. Recognize His attention to physical needs. Father likes to show us He cares. His provisions are more than sufficient for our well-being, but sometimes we don't utilize them. We need to get restorative rest; we need nutritious food; we need to exercise to keep our lymph system operating; we need to show and receive affection; we need to breathe efficiently... I receive a sweet breeze on my skin as his caress. I savor the sensation of a pillow under my head, of grass under my feet, of warm food filling my stomach, of moonlight flooding a room...

7. Thank Him for everything that comes to mind! List all of them to Him! Thank Him!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Discreet until dead

I don't have time to articulate this idea as well as I'd like. But, the sad demise of some of these amazing creatures provoked some thought on my part that precipitated this post. How did they die? Through our clueless interference. All summer long I've been thanking the LORD for giving us a sufficient quantity of these dung beetles to keep up with ALL of the horse and cow manure, and even most of the dog dung, on our property! I don't know all the environmental keys that have caused them to thrive as they have, but I've been daily rejoicing in their continued level of efficiency, come rain or shine. We have left them undisturbed (although Hub has repeatedly asked if he can take the tractor into the horse pens and extract manure for his compost pile). I have denied his request each time, telling him that I don't want to interfere in anyway with their labors. When they begin to fail to complete the daily chore of reducing manure piles to an oatmeal consistency, I will look into how some of the thoroughly recycled (through them) manure might be appropriated for his garden, but NOT at the expense of our better beetle community! Just to give you an idea of how much they have been accomplishing; a 1000 pound horse can produce 50 pounds of manure a day; we have 3 1/5 horses (Remy is only about 200 pounds), so, that's over 150 pounds of manure per day that these tiny laborers are processing!

Last week we had a good heavy rain that deposited 1.3 inches into our soil and every other container capable of collecting it. I went about pouring water out of bowls, buckets, wheelbarrows... and in looking for anything retaining water (since we are now very close to a West Nile epidemic in this state), I realized that a very large tire we recently imported (I have plans to use it as a trail course obstacle) had caught some of the water. Enough to interest mosquitoes. It was not in a place easy to pour out. The tire is too heavy to move by hand and I wasn't really wanting to try scooping all that water out, so, I mentioned to Hub we had a potential mosquito breeding site in the tire. He said he had heard pouring oil in the water would prevent mosquitoes from laying their eggs. I asked if it has to be motor oil. He said he didn't know, but we have decided not to use the sunflower oil we have in our cabinet. He said I might try that. I did. I poured some into the water in the tire. Three days later (mosquito eggs take four days to hatch out), I went to see if there were any mosquito larvae in the treated water. I was horrified, and dismayed, and grieved, and distraught, to find 10 dead dung beetles in the water. I scooped all the water out and arranged the gorgeous little carcases. I wanted to cry!

I really had hardly seen these guys when they were alive. Very rarely I'd gotten a glimpse of one landing and burrowing immediately out of sight, but this pretty iridescent variety is nocturnal, so, they rarely are seen in the light of day. There is another type I do see that is a more drab grayish brown. They work the dayshift. I was truly guilt-ridden to think that something as seemingly innocuous as sunflower oil could have lured my reclusive workforce to their deaths! I don't yet know how losing ten of them will effect efficiency; that remains to be seen. But, I do know, that this was certainly not a deserved death for them!

The thoughts that arose in me are along these lines:
1. So many things in nature contribute to our ecological balance; it seems like every year I am shown a new creature's important role. In previous years, I've learned the significance of dragonflies (specifically their nymphs), wolf spiders, native fire ants, bees, bats, and turkey vultures... this has been our year of the dung beetles (we had a good crew of them last year as well, in spite of the drought).

2. In our culture, the most useful/productive/efficient members are often over-looked and unappreciated until they die. Then we see how much they were doing. Then we recognize their contribution and miss them.

3. God made even some of the lowliest insects beautiful. They have to live in and consume waste that we find repugnant. But, to them it is sustenance and given how rapidly they ingest it, I'm guessing they truly enjoy their meal and their work. I am glad for their sakes that they do. I'm sorry for them that we carelessly complicate their job and even stupidly cause them to lose their lives. They have short lives anyway. They would die in a few weeks. But, I feel responsible for ten of them dying unnecessarily.

Alas. But, I shall be more careful in the future. Much more. Dung beetles WERE injured in this story. I hope that telling it will educate folks and cause them to be less heedless!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Rely and Remedy: how to read mule

Rely and Remedy

One week after Remy's arrival, Rely and Remedy (Remy) were turned out together for the first time. I watched closely to see what would happen. Rely was uncharacteristically cautious as he followed this new creature around in his domain. I'd say Rely was extremely anxious to make the right first impression. This is interesting since usually Rely approaches other horses with bluster and bravado. He puffs himself up and utters bellows that suggest he is a power to be reckoned with. But, with Remy he said almost nothing for almost two hours. He followed the new kid at a discreet distance. When Remy would stop to graze, Rely would stop nearby and put his head down to eat, but he would sidle closer carefully monitoring Remy's reaction. He pretended ignore Remy, but in reality he was fascinated with reading every nuance of Remy's tail swishes, long ear positions, and other relevant body language. No contact happened between them for a long time. Here are some images that show the first hour in sequence. I'm wondering if the longer ears give greater emphasis to whatever ear gestures mean. Remy snorted a lot, too. He sounded a bit disgusted.

The black and white image is a little odd, I know, but it seemed to me to sort of show how much of a presence Rely's behavior suggested Remy manifested. Sort of like he wasn't all there! Trying to imagine what Rely was thinking, I'm wondering if he wasn't realizing that this little creature will be his only option for a companion for a while and he better make the most of it!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Spring 2012

I've been holding off on this waiting for enough evidence to convince all that we are having a glorious Spring this year! It actually was precipitated by over 12 inches of precipitation since the first of the year! I have been enjoying taking these; hope ya'll will rejoice with us! The LORD has gifted us early and often with His supply this year!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

December 2011

When folks come visit us, we tend to toss them the reins and tell 'em to mount up. Then we shoot them with our Canons, crop them down to size, and post their mugs on the internet for all to see. That's our way; some are more at ease with it than others. This fellow, for example, just hunkered over the horn and gave us his Salatin grin. Can't find much fault in him.
And this lil' lady, graced our place with her beautiful face! A princess in deed, momentarily treed!
Another natural draped himself on our gate; flashing us his smile to contemplate!
This clan is kin to us; but they live back East; they tarried with us a few days at least. And lest one gets the idea, that's all the kin we saw; here's another bunch of us, and here's
our feisty Ma!
And seein' as we've mentioned her, we owe the LORD for leavin'
Mom hereabouts a while longer, you best be believin'

Even after open heart surgery, after her trial
We celebrated and feasted with her in style.

But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 1 Corinthians 12:24-26

January 2012 First Few Days______________________

Rely obliged those who arrived to ride.

I missed a turret when harnessing; it didn't phase Rely a bit. He's such a trooper!
And such a hoot!
I doubt I could get off this carriage without my Hub heading. It is quite a clamor.
Guess what this is? Hub seriously tackled replacing the shower in our guest bath. This is after he painted the drywall. It is white, not pink.
When given the opportunity to graze the fresh grass in the horse trap, here's how they chose to spend their time!
10 total inches of rain in November and December brought our pond up to within 2 feet of being full.
I LOVE this man!
There's even water in the 'bottom pond', about 2 feet deep.
Green is showing in the drought clipped fields. The rain and warm weather have fostered it.
Our measuring rod is a t post on the bank of the pond. Before the rain came, it was totally exposed (telling us the pond was down 5-6 feet). Now there is only has about 2 feet sticking up out of the water. This implies the deepest part of the pond is at about 14 feet now.
Grady is starting to grow, too.
More of the shower project.
Rely and Buck pummeling the grass (which goes to show they aren't really starved for it; they'd rather play on it!)
December demanded concentration. It is always a challenging month. Just keeping track of the schedule of events, finding gifts, evading germs, tackling end-of-year projects, makes for enough excitement, but when you throw in crises, like Mom's by-pass surgery, it is no longer possible to plan a path to take or decisions to make. What I knew I must do, is what I always should do, just trust Him to direct my steps.

Because of the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us.
Luke 1:78 (KJV)
We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 1: 2-3

For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the LORD; and if we die, we die to the LORD. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the LORD. Romans 14:7-8

It is worth contemplating His Mind on matters when we see who He chooses to take home to Him and who He leaves longer for His purposes.