Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Ongoing Saga of the Krycho Momma

I'm here at Jubala Village Coffee, sipping a decaf vanilla latte like a hipster and trying to concentrate on writing rather than people-watching.

The last few weeks have entirely thrown off our schedule. I'm so thankful for the social time that Ellie gets both at church and at the YMCA, but it does mean more sickness in the Krycho household. Two weeks ago, the munchkin got a cold/fever, which she subsequently passed to me. Soon after we both recovered from that, she contracted a stomach bug that, despite my assiduous efforts to Lysol it out of existence, went to me and laid me out for two days straight. I've never been so sick with a stomach virus in my life, and it was hard for Ellie to comprehend why I wasn't leaving the bedroom to play with her. Chris was amazing at taking care of both me and the girls, though. Such incidents make me so thankful for good health, and help me appreciate people (and their spouses) who endure chronic illness with a good attitude and (if they're Christians) a strong faith. It's no small thing - we humans like our comfort, and there are few things more uncomfortable than our own bodies rebelling against us.

Hmm...what else. Well, I finally visited a Christian psychiatrist for the first time to evaluate my antidepressant. Until now, I've only had a family doctor prescribe it, and have resisted the idea of going to a psychiatrist. There are several reasons for this, including (in no particular order), pride, the stigma, and not wanting to cost the family extra money. Finally, though, with the encouragement of my gentle husband, I went, and have not regretted it for an instant. I loved the doctor's perspective on the combined spiritual and physical nature of things like depression, and his understanding of the biological factors that come into play.

Now, if you will allow me to climb up on the soap box:

I must admit that it still makes me nervous to put this kind of thing out in public. I never know how I will be judged. I think it's hard for people to understand who have never had a someone close to them deal with depression, or have never dealt with it themselves. There is that tendency to say, "Well, just find joy in the Lord," or "Try to spend more time in the Word." And truly, my relationship with the Lord is the most vital thing in my life to combat depression. BUT. I don't want to condemn anyone who has said those things, but can I encourage you to reevaluate your perspective on the nature of depression? I should clarify that there are truly circumstantial types of depression (like, the malaise following a bad breakup). However, the kind of ongoing, it-has-a-mind-of-its-own type of depression doesn't go away with a simple mental paradigm shift, nor does it just disappear by my taking some magic pill of happiness. My goal in writing these things is, as ever, to help open up the public discourse about depression, so if you have any questions as you read this, I'm always open to answering them. Hit me up via email or on Facebook.

In other news, the first day of October was a big day for the Krycho girls. Kate finally managed to roll from her back to her stomach, and Ellie learned how to open doors with doorknobs as well as counted to five by herself! You can bet I am one proud momma.

Lest you think that all is going swimmingly in my parenting, I am struggling with enforcing food rules with Ellie. I waited too long to enforce the "you eat what's in a front of you rule," and now I'm paying for it. I have already apologized to my picky toddler for delaying the training, thereby making it harder on both of us. Now I'm striving to be consistent in my expectations...which is really hard, because I am a sucker. Not that a tender heart for children is bad by any means, but sometimes love looks like being firm and teaching Ellie to do things she'd really rather not do.

Other than that, there have been great times with neighbors and church friends, much cackling over podcasts and the new season of Doctor Who, and some fabulous reading material from Mary Robinett Kowal (magic + romance + Regency fiction + Austen-style prose? Yes, please).

Dear reader, I hope you have enjoyed this brief glimpse into my life, and I hope to converse with you again soon. :) Until then, grace and peace be yours in Christ Jesus.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Falling Off the Ladder

Was it seriously over a year ago that I blogged here? I feel like I need to do a total blog makeover in order to usher in a new era of writing.

It is possible that I fell off the face of the planet. It is also possible that my second pregnancy and subsequent delivery, plus learning how to raise a very beautiful and curious toddler for the first time, has occupied most of my time of late. It's a happy stage of life - difficult in its own right - but happy.

And when I say difficult, I do mean that there are days when I'm so tired I want to cry for that reason alone. There are times when I almost regret praying for the Lord to make me humble...because he answers that prayer not by taking me down a peg, but by knocking me off the ladder, then reminding me he's the reason I'm able to climb in the first place.

Parenting is unbelievably humbling, because it is chock-full of mistakes waiting to happen. I mean that in the best possible way. Children - people - are just so complex, the human heart and mind such profound works of feeling and thought, that even my most noble efforts to parent "right" go awry. I often forget that the only answer for us complicated people is the all-encompassing and all-gracious work of Christ as detailed in the Bible, not the list of practices and precepts that sound best to Jaimie. I am constantly reminded of how little I preach the truth to prone I am to take the Gospel as something to be appreciated but not applied. Just when I think I am being a "great Christian..." BAM! The Holy Spirit is gracious to remind me that it is "by grace I have been saved, not by works, so that no man may boast."

On the more mundane level, I've been enjoying church at FBC Durham (small groups are, thankfully, about to resume after the summer hiatus), working on a novella and my new fantasy novel (from time to time...again, it's a really hard stage of life during which to write consistently), taking an awesome free online writing course by Brandon Sanderson, Christian counseling, playdates with other moms and their children, an overnight getaway with my handsome husband, and of course, the antics, adventures, and giggles that come with the two bright, bubbly, Star-Wars-loving things named Ellie and Kate.

Well, dear reader, that's all I got for now. Before I go, here's my latest book recommendation for the ladies:

Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin - This is an awesome book about how to study the Bible in the way God intended - a faithful, intellect-plus-heart engaging way, letting the Word interpret itself rather than our feelings, misguided notions or guesses doing the interpreting. It's a short read, too, so you won't have any trouble fitting it in to a busy schedule!

I take my leave of you and send compliments to your family in proper Regency style. I'll try to write again before a whole year passes. ;p

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Christian-Schooler's Game

If you've never been to a private Christian school, you might not understand what I mean when I say this: while some groups have their holy wars, we had a holiness war.

I don't know if the teachers saw it, but we all knew - there were three classes of people at our school.

There were the "spiritual kids" (the ones who checked all the boxes on the holiness list - who raised their hands in chapel, or if they were really spiritual, jumped up and down, the ones who prayed out loud in class, etc.).

There were the "decent kids" (the ones that didn't rock the boat, but weren't particularly "spiritual," either).

And there were the "bad kids" (the kids that actually got in trouble, at least once a week).

We faced constant pressure to "be more spiritual," according to the made-up list of super-spiritual things we were supposed to do.

I remember doing some of those things, but my heart really wasn't in it. I didn't really want to do them. I thought, "Maybe if I just raise my hands in chapel, the desire to raise my hands will follow. Maybe if I just join the service organization, the desire to serve others without recognition will follow."

The thing was, it never did.

I did a lot of spiritual things when people were looking, but in the everyday things, Christ was often completely absent. For example, when my mind was on boys (which was most of the time), Christ wasn't in the picture. Who I wanted to date, who liked me, who didn't like was all about me, and how being liked made me feel. I never thought about how God said, "You shall have no other gods before me."

Or how about the kinds of things I said behind people's backs? Girls who trusted me...the way I would scoff at them in my journal or in front of my siblings. As long as those girls never heard what I said, I could still look "spiritual" at school, all day long. It was all about appearances. Who cared about my heart attitude?

I thought that my little list of proper, "Christian" actions would change my heart into a "more spiritual" and "more Christian" person. I think most of us did. The very heart of Christianity was lost on us.

What do I mean, you ask?

Let me first say this - I have often wondered, if I had one chance to go back to my school and speak to the students in chapel, what would I say? I've made up the speech in my head many times. Now I finally know the gist of what I would tell them:

Are you working really hard to be good? You are? Bad news - your works do not...cannot...change the state of your heart.

Do you see those people who are genuinely spiritual? The ones that actually want to read their Bibles, actually pray outside of school, and actually pursue holy lives? The ONLY reason they're like that is because God changed their hearts FIRST. Those actions that you want to imitate...those are only there as evidence of their salvation. Merely doing those actions can't save you. Only repentance - acknowledging you're a sinner who is hopeless to make yourself better - and calling on Jesus Christ can save.

Someone else has said it better than me, though, so let's look at how Jerry Bridges puts it:

"A person cannot be justified [absolved from guilt and declared righteous] without being regenerated [made a new person]."

"...I am concerned that there are thousands of professing Christians who think they have been justified, who think their sins are forgiven and that they are on their way to Heaven, who show no evidence of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. I fear for them that they will one day hear those awful words from the lips of Christ, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' (Matthew 7:23)"

Stop asking yourself how "spiritual" you can be in comparison to someone else. This is not between you and them - it's between you and God. So if you don't see evidence of real heart change in your life, maybe the question you should be asking yourself is, "Am I really saved?"

I am not being mean nor judgmental. I'm being biblical. Paul exhorts members of the early church to do the same. I'm not saying that Christians will never make mistakes, have "dry spells," or struggle with sin. But if your whole Christian walk is characterized by a dry spell in which you engage in unrepentant sin all over the place, you would do well to remember that "not everyone who says to [God], 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Can't argue with that - Jesus said it.)

To close, the reason I am telling you this is because I don't want you to leave here believing a lie. I want to see you in Heaven, someday, where we can rejoice together! I don't want you to be deceived until your life ends, and it's too late to change your mind. Think about what I said. Read your Bibles - see if it lines up. Be mad at me and call me a hater, if you must, but know that I love you, and only hope and pray that these words grow in your heart until they become reality.