When Your Son Asks: Remembering Our Deliverance

Mancub at age 10 sleeping on the way home from Arkansas.

Sometimes, I know I’m not only the best example, but possibly the worst.

You know those days when you just remind yourself, over and over, “At least I’m not a criminal? I mean, there’s that.”

Oh you don’t know that feeling? Me neither.

But do you ever feel like your kids might be better off with a rabid raccoon as a mom? Okay, another bad example. Let me try one more time.

I want my kids to remember me with a soft kind of fondness–that perfect balance of light and hope, discipline and humor, friendship and love. A warm and fuzzy mama–but at the same time tough as the lady who delivers our mail. Have you seen her? She can bench 400 pounds, I know it!

I want my kids to think of me as a good example, someone they want to imitate.

One problem: I’m far from perfect. I screw up fairly often. At least as much as Donald Trump says offensive stuff on TV. I mean well, but …

I was reading through Exodus (actually, that’s inaccurate. I’m so lazy I have somebody else read Exodus to me, on an app. Because there’s an app for that). Anyway, this scripture refers to the story of the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt. I just love the first sentence.

14 “In days to come, when your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ say to him, ‘With a mighty hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 15 When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the Lord killed the firstborn of both people and animals in Egypt. This is why I sacrifice to the Lord the first male offspring of every womb and redeem each of my firstborn sons.’16 And it will be like a sign on your hand and a symbol on your forehead that the Lord brought us out of Egypt with his mighty hand.”

When your son asks you, “What does this mean?”… how well we know this feeling, mamas. How well we know that frightening reality that somebody put us in charge of these precious human beings as IF WE WERE GROWNUPS. Grownups with answers. Grownups who hold those memories in the palm of their hand.

Sometimes, I sweat bullets when my son asks me questions. They used to be so easy.

“Hey Mom. How do you make instant oatmeal?”

“Hey Mom. Can you watch me go down the slide?”

“Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Why doesn’t the dog eat at the table with us?”

Lately, the questions are much more hard core.

“Mom, how does God feel about transgender people?” (This one’s easy: LOVE)

“Mom, I think my friend is in trouble. Can we help?”

“Mom, why does God let bad things happen?”

I don’t know all the answers. But I don’t ignore the questions. We look it up. We talk about it. I want to be the one, along with my husband, that is able to answer those “What does this mean?” questions.

In this verse, God is instructing the Israelites in the importance of remembrance. There’s no way these children, or grandchildren, or great-grandchildren, will ever know the sound of the cries of Egypt as they woke to find their firstborn children dead. It’s just too horrific. Over 400 years of slavery, of the Pharaoh killing the baby boys–the Jewish mothers hiding their babies, shushing their cries.

And the angel of the Lord passed over…

There’s no way the children would remember the unreal feeling of freedom. What? We are free? We can go? The feeling (and then, the eventuality) this freedom can’t last– that the Egyptians would change their minds and maybe call for the blood of the Jews to rectify Pharaoh’s hasty decision. The absolute miracle of the Red Sea parting down the middle as thousands of slaves left forever. The smell of the sheep and goats (and all those people) and the heaviness of the hastily packed possessions–the sheer terror and doubt that any of this was real. But they were told to try to make them understand–the importance of storytelling and ritual. Unleavened bread eaten in haste as we planned our escape. This is what it means, Son. This bread–it is a symbol of our deliverance.

I’m fortunate (NOT gonna say #blessed because I HATE that) to have never been in this kind of bind–this kind of slavery. But we all know a type of bondage.

Addictions.

Debt.

Disease.

Abuse.

Pain.

Crippling fear.

Anxiety.

God is not JUST the God of the past. He knows us. He knows you. HE has the answers.

I don’t always know what things mean, but when my son asks me, I’ll tell him.

I’ll tell him that we are free.

 

 

 

 

 

The Savior and the Heart of Women

Tina Bausinger

16 CARRACCI WOMEN AT THE TOMB OF CHR

It makes sense, really, that the women took the spices and went to the tomb early, before the rest of their day began. Women often wake up early, adding responsibilities to their already full plate. But this task–it wasn’t  the ordinary chore, is it? I can’t even imagine the weight of their hearts, like so many heavy slicing daggers, cutting and slicing through the bone, through their marrow to their very souls any time they thought of what had just happened to the One they loved.

Yet, they went, because women are practical. We take care of business, even when our hearts are breaking. The weaker sex? Please. Just because tears blur our vision doesn’t mean we are weak. It’s pushing through the pain that makes us women. They didn’t wait until they felt better. They didn’t postpone this unpleasant task until the pain was bearable. They didn’t take a rest first, or…

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Super Easy Spicy Brisket Chili

chili

Brisket. At its best, it’s flaky and juicy, falling apart with the mere mention of a fork. At its worst, it’s tough and rubbery.

I know you’ve been told the old-fashioned way to make a brisket: marinating it overnight, baking it for hours at one temperature then changing to another. Slow cooking IS the key to a great brisket, but I don’t have time to sit around babysitting it. I bet you don’t either.

I found a gigantic brisket on sale just after New Year’s–it was crazy cheap, like $1.50 a pound or some such nonsense. I felt like I was the star of a reality show for a minute when I saw the price. Quickly, I took it to the checkout and paid for it as nonchalantly as I could, hardly sweating at all, as not to give away the AWESOME DEAL I WAS GETTING. Once I made it to the parking lot, I was fistpumping like John Bender in “The Breakfast Club.” It felt good.

But what do I do once I bring it home? It was a 20 pound brisket! That’s a lot of beef. I chopped it into six hunks and promptly froze it. Now I just take out a hunk and use it the same way I’d use roast beef or even ground beef. Last night, I made the best chili ever. It’s not hard at all. The crockpot does all the work!

Here’s what you need to make Spicy Brisket Chili–from scratch!

Spicy Brisket Chili

2 pounds brisket

2 Alarm Chili Mix

1 can Hunt’s diced roasted tomatoes

1 2-pound bag of dried pinto beans

2 teaspoons dried garlic

1 can of Coke

1 package Montreal Steak Seasoning

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. Ancho chili seasoning blend

1 tsp. bold chipotle seasoning blend

1 package concentrated beef broth

Directions:

After thawing the brisket, put it in the Crock pot. Pour a Coke over it, then dump the steak seasoning on it. Add some salt, pepper and garlic powder/chopped garlic. Turn it on low, and let it cook for at least 7-8 hours.

It’s gonna smell so good. You won’t even believe it.

When it’s all flaky and such, remove it from the crockpot and put it in a storage bag or bowl. Let it refrigerate while you make the beans. Dump out the coke mixture and prepare the dried beans.

Rinse them and put them in the crockpot. Fill it most of the way with water. Put all the 2 Alarm Chili Mix seasonings in the beans. If you’re feeling brave, add a chopped jalapeno. Add the other pepper mixes, salt and spices. Let the beans cook on low for 7-8 hours.

Here’s how the magic happens.

First, take the brisket and heat it for a minute or so on high in the microwave. Cut it into bite-sized pieces and dump it in the beans. Add the canned tomatoes.

Turn the crockpot on high. Cook the chili for about an hour. Good luck keeping your family out of it before it’s reached perfection.

If you don’t want to make your own beans, you can use canned. You can also cook the beans or the brisket overnight in the Crockpot, saving time. You won’t be sorry. I felt like a real cowgirl cook after pulling this off. Those spices sunk into the beans and made the whole house smell like Texas Heaven. Top the chili with a bit of sharp cheddar and sour cream and you won’t believe how good it is.

If (and this is a huge IF) you happen to have leftovers, I recommend making burritos. Can you even imagine how delicious those would be?

 

 

 

 

Ruth, Naomi and Faithfulness

Ruth and Naomi3

 

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, where you stay I will will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” Ruth 1:16-17

Ruth’s husband and his brother were dead. Her father-in-law was also dead. All the men in the family–dead. This was a worrisome time to be a woman. Options were few. When Ruth and Orpah (not to be confused with Oprah) attempted to follow Naomi (the mother-in-law), she told them, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was hope for me–even if I had has husband tonight and gave birth to sons–would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me!”

It was not the custom for widows to return to their father’s house. Once they were married off and the dowry was paid, the father was released of his duty to his daughter. To come home as a widow would have added another mouth to feed. Perhaps that is one reason Ruth refused. Initially, Orpah “cried bitterly.” This is such a testament to Naomi’s character, that both her daughters-in-law ached to stay by her side.

We often hear of Ruth and her faithfulness, which is definitely worth mentioning. Her words to Naomi are often repeated at weddings as the ultimate symbol of the truest love. But I often wondered about Naomi and what actions she must have done to warrant such a devotion from her daughters-in-law. Ruth’s speech is a testament to her character, but it is also a testament to Naomi’s.

Dear Jesus, please let me be the kind of woman to warrant such love and devotion–whether from my daughters or my future daughter-in-law. Let them say of me “I will follow you.”

 

 

The Pressing of Olives and a Mother in Need:The Widow’s Olive Oil

  
From 2 Kings 4:1-7

4 The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.” 

2 Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”

“Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”
3 Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. 4 Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”
5 She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. 6 When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.”

But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.

7 She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”
There are a couple of things I noticed here. First, the woman is a widow. In this time and cultural window, she should have been taken care of by family. Why wasn’t she? We aren’t told.

 
She’s suffered a great loss. Her mate has died. Sometimes family doesn’t step up, even though they should. Perhaps she didn’t have any remaining family left. This is also a possibility.  

All we know for sure is that the woman was in dire straits. She had bills. The creditors were on her heels. They were about to COME TAKE HER SONS AS SLAVES.
Think about that for a minute. She’s lost her husband, and now her sons are in danger. This is a danger we in 21st century America are unfamiliar with. I can’t imagine her panic. She cries out to Elisha the Prophet for help.

He asks her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?
The only thing she has left is olive oil for cooking, and not much of that. But olive oil is valuable in quantity. It’s expensive, partially because of how it’s made. It sometimes takes up to ten pounds of olives to make one liter of oil (Alleman). 

Olives are harvested and put under great pressure.The recipe is typically passed down from generation to generation in the Mediterranean and varies a bit from region to region (Alleman). 
The Prophet tells her to go ask her neighbors for jars–all the jars she can handle. She must humble herself and ask for help from neighbors. They must comply and give her their jars without really expecting them back. They can refuse if they want. These jars belong to them. 
Mama does it. She brings back as many as she can hold. Then the prophet tells her, okay, go fill up those jars. Close the doors first. All the jars were full, and she was able to sell the oil and save her sons. Doesn’t God work in magnificent ways?  
He uses what we have. All she had was a bit of olive oil, sitting in her kitchen. 
She had to ask for help, though. What if her neighbors ignored her? What if they didn’t want to share their jars? Maybe they could not stand to see her in her raw grief, in her desperate worry. 
Lord Jesus, help me to see. Help me to share my jars, my oil, my life.

Olive Oil info

Absalom: When Kings Remain Silent

Cabanel-Tamar

My friend Leigh Ann and I were hanging out in my living room on a chilly January afternoon, each enjoying one another’s company and fuzzy blankets when the conversation took a very weird turn. To be fair, if I’m involved, conversations usually take a weird turn, but I digress…

LA: So, have you read the story of Absalom?
Me: Yeah. 2 Samuel is one of my favorite Old Testament books.
LA: Did you read how he died? He was FREAKING CLOTHESLINED!
Me: Yeah, so violent!
LA: CLOTHESLINED! I mean, it’s kind of funny. But he was a bad person so it’s okay to laugh.
Me: His hair was STUCK in a tree! And his horse just kept on running! I mean, what a bad way to go! 

After we laughed at Absalom’s unfortunate demise, we talked about Absalom and David. I asked her if she knew about Tamar. I’m no bible scholar, but it seems that Absalom behaved himself until Tamar’s tragedy.

Oh, Tamar.

The story breaks my heart.

Have you read the story of Absalom, King David’s son, who rose up against him and made the once proud giant-slayer frightened of his own shadow? Was he just a bad seed? Or was it something more?

2 Samuel 13 New International Version (NIV)

Amnon and Tamar

13 In the course of time, Amnon son of David fell in love with Tamar, the beautiful sister of Absalom son of David. 

Amnon became so obsessed with his sister Tamar that he made himself ill. She was a virgin, and it seemed impossible for him to do anything to her.

Now Amnon had an adviser named Jonadab son of Shimeah, David’s brother. Jonadab was a very shrewd man. He asked Amnon, “Why do you, the king’s son, look so haggard morning after morning? Won’t you tell me?”

Amnon said to him, “I’m in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.”

“Go to bed and pretend to be ill,” Jonadab said. “When your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘I would like my sister Tamar to come and give me something to eat. Let her prepare the food in my sight so I may watch her and then eat it from her hand.’”

So Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill. When the king came to see him, Amnon said to him, “I would like my sister Tamar to come and make some special bread in my sight, so I may eat from her hand.”

David sent word to Tamar at the palace: “Go to the house of your brother Amnon and prepare some food for him.” So Tamar went to the house of her brother Amnon, who was lying down. She took some dough, kneaded it, made the bread in his sight and baked it. Then she took the pan and served him the bread, but he refused to eat.

“Send everyone out of here,” Amnon said. So everyone left him. 10 Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food here into my bedroom so I may eat from your hand.” And Tamar took the bread she had prepared and brought it to her brother Amnon in his bedroom.11 But when she took it to him to eat, he grabbed her and said, “Come to bed with me, my sister.”

12 “No, my brother!” she said to him. “Don’t force me! Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don’t do this wicked thing. 13 What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel. Please speak to the king; he will not keep me from being married to you.” 14 But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her.

15 Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her. Amnon said to her, “Get up and get out!”

16 “No!” she said to him. “Sending me away would be a greater wrong than what you have already done to me.”

But he refused to listen to her. 17 He called his personal servant and said, “Get this woman out of my sight and bolt the door after her.” 18 So his servant put her out and bolted the door after her. She was wearing an ornate[a] robe, for this was the kind of garment the virgin daughters of the king wore. 19 Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the ornate robe she was wearing. She put her hands on her head and went away, weeping aloud as she went.

20 Her brother Absalom said to her, “Has that Amnon, your brother, been with you? Be quiet for now, my sister; he is your brother. Don’t take this thing to heart.” And Tamar lived in her brother Absalom’s house, a desolate woman.

21 When King David heard all this, he was furious. 22 And Absalom never said a word to Amnon, either good or bad; he hated Amnon because he had disgraced his sister Tamar.

Did you see the key text here? “When King David heard all this, he was furious.” What does that mean? He was upset? Well, he’s the king of Israel! If anybody can demand justice for Tamar (his daughter!), it’s him! After all, it was not too long ago when Nathan made David feel guilty with a fictional story about a lamb, and ordered that the man who stole it would not live. Shouldn’t his daughter, his very own baby girl, deserve more than this? Keeping in mind the time period. She’s ruined now. Nobody will marry her. She won’t be acceptable in social circles of any type. The once blameless princess ripped her gown, the one that identified her as a virgin, and put ashes on her head. She knew she was done for. Though Absalom said, “Don’t take this thing to heart,” he very much did so. He harbored hatred against his brother (he later killed him) and then he went after his father.

The next verse we read begins this way: “Two years later…”

Two years.

For two years, Absalom watched Tamar waste away. She’s not mentioned again in the scriptures.

For two years, Absalom watched as King David did nothing.

When Absalom turned, it was BAD. It wasn’t your typical young man’s angst. He actively charmed and recruited David’s people to support him. He raped David’s women on the rooftop of the palace. He was ruthless.

Now, I’m not saying that it’s David’s fault. Absalom crossed many lines when he went after David.

I just wonder–what would have happened if David has listened? If he had punished Amnon himself? Tamar would not likely be restored, regardless. But what would have happened if David had done the right thing?

We will never know.Cabanel-Tamar

 

On Authenticity and Servanthood on Facebook

party 4

Sometimes I cannot believe Facebook. It looks like a high school yearbook! Everybody posts their kids awards, their husband’s promotions, a picture of the perfect peach pie. A post that demands you “like”  a picture of Jesus or scroll by and RISK YOUR VERY SOUL.

Sometimes, it’s too much.

To be fair, I’m guilty of this also–posting only the best moments from my life. Only showing the good side. I mean, nobody really wants to know the other stuff, do they? How my laundry looks like it’s been multiplying overnight and my son is mad at me. How I’m so stressed out I’m having trouble getting out of bed. How the holidays make me miss my dad so much I can taste it. How I had a disagreement with my husband, or daughters and it’s like Antarctica around here. That even the penguins are wearing jackets?

Nope. I’m likely not gonna share that on Facebook. First of all, it’s really not anybody’s business. Secondly, people don’t generally go on Facebook or social media because they are thinking,”You know what? I feel like being bummed out!” Or, “I feel like feeling inferior! Yes!”

On my page Nonpartisan Jesus, where I talk about authentic Christianity outside of political spectrums, I received a message from one of my acquaintances:

Maybe Jesus wants us to get off Facebook and follow him.

I’m not gonna lie. That one stung. I replied:

I’m not sure how/if Jesus thinks about Facebook much. However, since so many people use social media, doesn’t it make sense to try to make something positive of it?

On the flip side, I’m sure you might have a friend or two who shares every thought that comes to mind. The posts look something like this:

9:00 Thinking about coffee. #TheBestPartofWakingUp

9:05 Out of creamer. Have to go to the store. #Prayers

9:06 Can’t find a parking spot. Saw my pastor in the parking lot. #blessed

9:07 Walmart’s out of Folgers! AHHHHHH! #Agony

I somehow think this is worse.

Let’s face it–we all do it. We put on our best mask for Facebook. We only show the peanut butter sandwich with the crusts off. Everybody is guilty of this.

So what’s the alternative? How do we allow ourselves to be authentic without giving too much information? How do we share our struggles without seeming like we are looking for pity?How can we use Facebook as a ministry? Is it possible? 

Yes. We just have to be present.

For example, my friend Jennifer is the master of this. I’ll post something like:

Oh my gosh. Finals, errands, moving, planning a graduation party–I’m overwhelmed!

I have to admit, I might have seen the same post and kept scrolling. Of course it’s stressful to be moving around final exam times! That could have been better planned! Oh well.

Within seconds, I get a text:

Want to have the party at my house?

And I’m crying, unable to fathom what I’ve done to deserve such a sweet friend who would not only see a problem but propose a solution. A solution that creates work for her.

Jennifer has a servant’s heart. I have been the beneficiary of her heart many times over the years. It’s not easy to see somebody struggling and offer to help. It’s much easier to whine about Folger’s. It’s easy to like the Jesus post and ignore the friend who’s drowning.

Because of Jennifer, my girls had the nerdiest Star Wars Graduation blowout ever. For three hours, we invaded her house, bringing smelly tacos and balloons. For three hours, the girls and their friends walked around in Chewbacca masks, celebrating their achievement.

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Because Jennifer and Josh are the best friends ever.

party 1

This year, I want to be more present. I want to be more proactive. I want to have a servant’s heart–seeing need and thinking a solution.

party 2

 

Thank you, Jennifer and Josh. Thank you both for being Jesus on Facebook! You guys are the BEST and we love you.

But right now, I have to go. The dryer beeped because my fuzzy socks are ready. #blessed

5 Things I Want My Son to Know (Part 2)

dad and bike

I know what you’re thinking.

How could you possibly sum up everything you want to teach your kid into bullet points? That’s crazy. That’s insane. Get this woman a padded room.

Be honest–doesn’t a padded room sound pretty great sometimes? It’s quiet, it’s comfy–nobody’s talking…

Okay, back to reality.

You’re right. Life lessons are complicated and people can and do write obnoxiously long books about them. Here’s the thing, though. We are busy! We have so much going on. Lessons and ball games and concerts, deadlines and grades and buying toilet paper and washing underwear and taking the dog to the vet (somebody has to). The list NEVER gets shorter, it just changes with age (like me).

It’s like the old joke about how to eat an elephant…one bite at a time.

Since I’m not a child psychologist or Oprah or anything, I just have to do this a bite at a time. If I wait for that “perfect moment”, inevitably it will never come. So here’s my best shot–5 things at a time. If you want to see the previous blog about this, click  here.

5 MORE Things I Want My Son to Know:

1.How to be a good dad. This is complicated, for sure, and when I think about things my own dad did that made me love him I think that 90% of it was just being there. He worked a lot (so did my mom) but as he grew older he noticed that sometimes just showing up was support enough. My dad wasn’t perfect, and he made lots of mistakes, but what I remember the most about him was that he never gave up. Not on me, not on himself. I don’t think he knew how.

2.How to be a good husband. Again, this is complicated, and not necessarily something that can be summed up in a few sentences in a blog. But the essence of being a good husband is, I think, in the little things. Like coming home when you say you’ll be home, and turning off the t.v. when you said you would. Like picking up the ice cream I like without being asked, or replacing that light bulb that’s out in the bathroom. Little things add up to love.

3. How to be stubborn about doing the right thing. Again, I’ve done                 and said the wrong thing MANY, MANY times…we don’t need any                 specific examples here, that’s not really the point…but I do hope that           MOST of the time I’ve modeled the right way to do things. I want to               be a good reference for what integrity looks like, and when I’m not, I             hope I own up to it and make it right.

4. How to properly wash a dish. Okay, I know this is NOT a “big” item, but it’s important. To be sure he understands this basic principle, I feel he needs lots of practice.

5. How to finish what you’ve started. This is a big one to be sure. Sometimes we start and stop and start and stop again. Sometimes big events are interrupted and that’s okay. The important thing is to keep trying and to stick it out. Sticking it out–in marriage, in life, in work-it’s all important. Sticking it out in the hard places, when you’re scared and blind and you have no clue what’s happening next or even  if this is the right thing. You stick it out, you stay put…you dig your heels in and you scream at the wind “I’m not going anywhere!” And if you’re lucky, somebody’s there holding your hand, sticking it out with you.

That’s what I want my son to know–at least for today.

 

 

Article in Southern Writers Magazine

Please enjoy my article in Southern Writers Magazine:

How to Write About the South (Especially When It’s Not Cool to Write About the South)conference3

How to Love Your Friend With Depression

bridge

I think it’s time I just come clean.

I have been suffering from depression and anxiety for as long as I remember. It’s always there, sitting quietly in the corner, letting me know that maybe today is the day he’ll take charge again.
I do my best to keep him there.

But wait. I’m a Christian. How can I call myself a Christian and also suffer from depression? Does this mean I am somehow a liar? Shouldn’t the sacrifice of Jesus be enough to heal me forever from this darkness that threatens to overcome?

Well, here’s the short version: the blood of Jesus IS enough, but sometimes, I’m still sick. Sometimes, God chooses to leave us in our illness. He’s still THERE for us, but he does NOT always heal us.

Even the best Christians get sick now and then, and I’m hardly the best. We don’t blame a woman for acquiring breast cancer. She is celebrated as a fighter. We don’t blame a child for acquiring leukemia. We pray for her healing and think of her fondly, hoping against hope that the tests will come back clean.

Why am I supposedly in charge of my depression? How is this different from any other disease? I’ve had it my whole life, and chances are slim it’s going away. If you are my friend or my family, here is what I need from you.

  1. You can’t really fix me. You can support me, call me, make sure I’m alive.
  2. You can watch my social media and decide if my posts have become too dark. It’s okay to reach out to me. It’s even okay to get angry with me. Just don’t expect me to “buck up” or “be thankful” or “move on” just because you think I’ve “wallowed” too much.
  3. Force me to go do things. Make me leave the house and get some sunlight. If I try to lose myself in my work, don’t let me. Tell me you love me and come over if necessary. If I can’t get out of bed, climb in with me.  Watch reruns of “Downton Abbey” until you can’t stand it. Make me shower.
  4. Make sure I’m taking my meds. No, you don’t have to parcel them out like a nurse or anything, but just ask me … gently…if I think they are working. By the way, DO NOT ask this if we are fighting. This is the equivalent of your husband saying “Wow–are you on your period or something?” NOT COOL.
  5. Love me anyway.

Thank you, Jenny Lawson, for your new book Furiously Happy which reminded me that I can be crazy and still hilarious and cool. You are my hero.