Thursday, June 15, 2017

Knee Surgery, Car Accidents, Book Club and God's Goodness in the Midst.

Life doesn't happen the way we plan. I had laid out great plans for this summer. Excited to be getting PT to strengthen my knee after I had knee surgery. Hoping to join the Y so I could start stationary biking, swimming, and elliptical. Was hoping to take some pilates or yoga classes.

In 10 days I have a book club at my home that I'm leading on suffering. "A Heart Set Free: A Journey to Hope Through the Psalms of Lament" by Christina Fox. I have some experience with suffering. Loss of my sister and nephew. Loss of jobs for my husband. Struggling helping him through his undergraduate and then graduate degree while having small children. Having 5 kids in 6 years. A child on a feeding tube for 5 years. A child with cerebral palsy. A child with cancer. You know those things... those things in the past. And some things in the present. Still working through grief, 6 hours of physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy a week for my kids. My husband traveling for work a lot. ETC.

But I hadn't intended to be taken deeper into suffering...

And here I am recovering from my knee surgery when I get in a car accident Monday night. My body was fully twisted when I was hit causing the seriousness of the injury. Minimum of 6-8 weeks of intensive therapy to recover.

oh the irony.

Oh the blessing. The blessing that God works in the midst of my pain. That my friends jump up to the bat for me again. helping with my kids. bringing meals. My Mom sat with me 6 hours in the ER and CT scans. She cleaned my home. Took me to my doctors appointments. My inlaws kept the boys for 2 nights!

The pain is very real. The suffering is very real. And in the midst of this... with my husband gone, in my very weakened, very dependent state, with pain so intense it leaves me in tears and crying out I am resting in Jesus. Resting in His love and provision. The struggle is real. I'm not perfect. I hate being alone. Struggle with being scared. Scared the pain won't end. But I'm also surrendering myself to my loving Father who is going to work this out for my good. His plans are better than my own.

I'm on a journey. On a road of pain ahead but I don't walk it alone. I walk this with God holding me.

I am comforted that things are as they should be.

I'm doing everything I can to follow directions and heal faster. No lifting, stretching, bending, pushing, pulling, carrying. I'm lying on my back. Icing. Heating pads. Drinking water. Taking the medication with alarm reminders set on my phone. Going to the chiropractor. On prednisone for my seriously swollen discs. Using deep blue and other essential oils for my very injured muscles.

But I know God is my healer. He has given me tools and resources but He is my ultimate physician. So I rest. Rest in Him being enough. Rest in Him being my husband while my husband is away. Rest in Him caring for my children when I can't care for them.

And as I read A Heart Set Free I ask Him to set my heart free so I can minister to those who have suffered, to those who are suffering and to those who will suffer.

Please join us for dinner and discussion Sunday, June 25th at my home. I'd love to hear what you think of the book and how God has met and is meeting you in the midst of your suffering... you can sign up here.

You also can use the link to sign up and join us in August for how to love and minister to those who are hurting and suffering. I will be leading a book discussion by Dave Furman, "Being There: How to Love those Who Are Hurting".

God knew this would happen. That I'd be in a place of suffering while tackling a book about suffering. That I'd be in a place of needing help while talking about how to help those who are in need. Thankful that I'm always in the right place at the right time- with God as my anchor and sustainer and Redeemer!

Friday, June 02, 2017

Flipped Out By Faithfulness

I love how in those moments... those deep dark moments. The moments that you are afraid will last forever. Those moments that suck you down into the depths of despair. In those moments God breaks in.

His faithfulness is amazing.

I don't always feel amazing... but I'm always amazed by His faithfulness. I'm not always sunshine and roses. Often there is pain, adversity and struggle... but I'm thankful that He has not left me to my own devices. He points me upwards and outwards.

I reach up to Him and reach out to friends and share my emotions and ask for prayer and for help and for love... and I receive it. Friends directing me back to Jesus. My husband reading the Psalms out loud to me while he was in Florida and I was in VA. A friend sending pizza to us for dinner.

Recently I was confronted by my desire to control my image. I was angry that I couldn't exercise because I was not able to make the progress that I had been making and I found my body softening up. Found myself making not healthy choices as I dealt with stress and a husband out of town for almost a month.

I was confronted by God who lovingly said to me, "Is your love for me based on your appearance? Your weight? What if you never lose another pound?"

It hit me upside the head. It hurt. How much of my love for God had been recently... "Well, I will love you if you help me lose these 100 pounds!" Ouch. My love is so conditional. I'm not saying that I don't need to be healthy. I do need to lose weight. I do want to exercise and make good choices... but my desire wasn't out of love for God. Wasn't out of thanksgiving for this instrument he's given me, called my body. It was out of a desire to impress others. To have it together.

And something in me unhinged this week and I was able to realize, I'm beautiful. It's not something I can control. It's the way God made me. And I can rejoice and thank Him and be kind to my body. Be a friend to myself. Or I can berate myself and be angry and disgusted. I'm choosing to rejoice.

I felt set free. I know I won't always intensely feel this relief but I want to remind myself of it. That God is working in me. Setting me free of my own expectations. It sets me free to love others more freely. To put the judgment and criticism away for myself allows me to do the same towards others.

Basking in His faithfulness to me. Thankful for my surgery yesterday. For the repairs made. To realize the damage done to my knee
that was way worse than originally thought. Thankful that I can begin the journey of healing... my body, mind, and thoughts. That God's faithfulness always wins no matter how I feel.

How are you experiencing His faithfulness today?

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Putting perfection on the shelf.

I've been awake for almost 22 hours. I stepped on a vacuum cord plug with my bare foot. It hurt. I made myself a protein shake and left it in the kitchen only to come to the bedroom and wonder where I put my drink.

Sleep deprivation is a crazy thing... it literally makes you crazy. Your brain starts misfiring. I completely expect myself at this point to right something ridiculous, perposterous or horribly misspelled. Case in point... how does one spell proposterous? perposterous? You get the point.

Thankful my worth doesn't come from my ability to be eloquent or poignant. To have the right thing to say... my worth comes from Jesus. I'm so glad I can rest, truly rest. I don't have to have it together. I don't need to be perfect. I can come messy, broken and needy, desperate for grace. desperate for an encounter with Him and He's faithful to meet me.

It's been a month now that I've had to bow out of Crossfit. My knee injury has put my ability to exercise strenuously on the back burner. Today I finally went to my Doctors. I did x-rays and all was fine with my bones. Next step is MRI. Concern is that I've torn something. My knee is swollen and inflamed and the pain wakes me in the middle of the night.... hence being up for 22 hours. And it hasn't gotten better... it's gotten worse.

So I'm letting go of these perfect expectations I have for myself. My trust in my own ability to make me successful or svelte or super.... and instead I will look to His perfection and say that it's more than enough for me. I can't control these things. I can acknowledge my limits and embrace what I'm given. So deep breaths.

And now off to dreamland.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Surgery, Seals and more surrender.

Michael's Seal
Tomorrow morning I intend to wake up early...To pack my bag for the hospital, finish the last minute odds and ends and double-check Michael packed the necessities in addition to his birthday cards, a fortune cookie, and a 5 pack puzzle of Paw Patrol. I'm up late switching laundry. I just put the larger than life overstuffed seal into the dryer along with puppy (also a stuffed animal). They have been thoroughly washed and hopefully will be sufficiently dry for the morning.

Michael is going into CHKD for cleft palate repair. He hasn't had a surgery on his cleft palate for almost 8 years... so it's been a while. A little nervous but I know he's going to do great. I wish I could say the same for myself. I mean, I will be fine. It's just this continual process of letting go of my fear and worry and anxiety and trusting God... you know, that's all.

We've been pushing for this procedure for over a year. With the help and advocacy of Michael's speech therapist we are finally moving forward.

So in addition to it being May the 4th be with you... it's also a day to wait in the hospital and hang out overnight.

How you can pray:

- Pray for a smooth procedure. It's scheduled to take over 3.5 hours. We are hoping the fissure in his cleft will be full and completely blocked so that Michael's hypernasality will be reduced and so he can speak in sentences without running out of breath.

-Pray for Michael to find another self-comfort other than putting his hands in his mouth. He has sucked his hand since he was in the womb. We've been trying to break him of this habit but have had no success. We have  an arm restraint that he will be wearing. It is his greatest comfort to suck his hand and we have to keep things out of his mouth. Hoping to find another replacement to engage his hands.

-Pray that we have a smooth adjustment coming back home and settling in. Mike will be leaving to go out of town for work and this is hard for all of us but especially for Michael.

-Pray for full healing and recovery

And so I surrender again. I lay down my hopes and expectations and ask God the creator and sustainer of Michael to come and bring peace through His Holy Spirit. To cast out all fear with His perfect love and to remind me continually that God loves Michael infinitely more than I possibly could.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

When The Fog Won't Lift

I would like to just karate chop depression in the gut right now.

I won't lie. I'm quite the mess. But I'm going to keep it real. I'm not a faker. At the checkout line today the cashier asked me how I am. I told her, "I'm just plain crazy." I then laughed and said, "How are you?" It doesn't mean I tell every single person I meet my struggles... but it also doesn't mean I fake it with my friends.

I know it started with back pain that led to not being able to work out.... and was coupled with the weird knee pain that had me down for almost 3 weeks and still won't go away. The no exercise thing stunk... because I couldn't release my emotions. No endorphins.

Couple that with a little anxiety about Michael's upcoming cleft palate repair surgery and my husband being out of town for a while and you get a whole new special mess. Pour on a little bit of hurts and disappointments. Confusion. Rejection. Criticism. Missing my sister. Dang you National Sibling Day!!! And oh, how bought we throw in some new diagnoses for my already diagnosed child... and we just get it about right.

Dang you depression. You may not lay claim on me. You might beat me up, drag me down a hole, kick me in stomach, but you do not have me. You don't have my soul. And I'm not letting you take my mind either.

So I'm coloring. I'm letting myself get more than enough sleep. I'm trying to eat healthfully and at regular intervals. I dab on a little lavender oil and breathe. I double up on my Juice Plus. I stop making unrealistic to-do lists. I do try and see friends. I do let myself have a treat. I look at flowers and buy a few more plants.

But here's the last kicker that can be helpful but very hard.... I try and stay connected. I don't want to isolate... because isolation leads me down a dangerous path. I try and as Paw Patrol puts it, "Yelp for Help".

Help! I need help. I need your prayers. I need to be reminded that I'm worth keeping around even though I'm not perfect. I need you to give me a hug. I need you to tell me that you love me.

What helps?

~ Reading funny books (Hyperbole & a Half by Allie Brosh, Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson, All my friends are Dead by Avery Monsen and Jory John, T-Rex Trying by Hugh Murphy,  Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions, David Sedaris, Nora Ephron, P.G. Wodehouse). Watching funny movies/shows (Hot Rod, SNL, 30Rock).  Listening to my favorite comedians... Maria Bamford, Jim Gaffigan, Mike Birbiglia. Emphasis on laughing!

~ Months ago when I was losing it a friend (IH) bought pizza for my family and had it sent to my house... dinner was done. Mike was out of town. I just breathed. It helped me make it through.

~ A card from a friend. (Thanks VZ) and a hike in the woods.

~ A pedicure with a friend. (HY)

~ My friend made dinner for me and all the kids at her house. We ate tacos and watched Sing and snuggled. So healing. Thanks HL

~ Having friends help me clean and organize. A huge thanks to my friend who scrubbed my bathroom and helped me with the kitchen a few weeks ago... you know who you are (AB).

~ Knowing I'm going to see my Grandma tomorrow and sit on the beach with her. That I'm going to be with my cousins on Saturday morning. I love having good things to look forward to.

~ Flowers from my honey. An orchid from my Mom as well as a huge package of strawberries and blueberries.

~Nature is healing. I love the beach. I love being outside in the sunshine.

~Singing at the top of my lungs in the car (without kids).

~Dancing in the kitchen when doing the dishes.

~ Bubble baths with really good scrubs and shower gels... think Lush.

~ A great cup of English Breakfast

~ Coffee date.

Acts of service and gifts are my top 2 love languages. It means so much to be thought of.

And I love when I get to give. It makes my heart to give to someone else. It helps me get out of my funk.

So yeah, that's where I'm at. I know I'm going to get through this. I know I will be stronger. I am an overcomer. But it's okay that I'm hurting. It's okay that I'm sad. I hate the brokenness of this world. I hate racism and my ignorance as I learn about injustices because of someone's color or their poverty. I hate cancer and sexual trafficking. I hate seeing people suffer. There are so many Hurting people. I hate that I can't fix it.

But there is One who can. One who is. One who will make all things new.


The beauty and the power and majesty in that name. The name that stills my anxious soul and whispers to me tenderly that I will be okay.

I've had peaks and valleys. I have struggled with self-harm and suicidal thoughts before.

Do you wrestle with anxiety and or depression? How do you cope? What do you do? How do you love yourself through it? What helps?

I hope that you know if you do suffer from depression and anxiety that you are not alone. Friends, spouses, family, co-workers will fail and disappoint us, betray us, or hurt us... but Jesus loves you perfectly. He knows you intimately and promises to never leave or forsake us. Even if you can't hold on... you can rest in the fact that He is holding onto you... and He will never let you go.

And if you are struggling.... get help. You are important and valuable. You are needed. Important. You are loved. You are not alone. You are not crazy. You are not a failure. Reach out. Be good to yourself. Be kind to yourself. You are made in the image of God.

Sending hugs. Trusting that all will well in the end. And if it's not all well, then it's not the end.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Peace in the Waiting...

I pull the covers almost completely over my head. Can’t I just stay in bed? When will all the hurt and pain just go away? I'm so frustrated... by my limitations, my inabilities, my lack of control. 

I’m discouraged. I hurt my back last week and am still recovering. I’m doing all the right things. Been to the chiropractor 3 times. I’ve been icing, and stretching and using biofreeze and arnica gel and essential oils for sore muscles. 

And I still can’t safely work out yet… So I must wait. 

Waiting is never a fun thing for me. I hate being still. I’d much rather get something accomplished because I feel worthy if I’m productive. Scary, right? So when I’m unable to be productive and get things done then I feel worthless. Yikes. 

What if my value isn’t from a clean house and a perfectly made meal? What if who I am isn’t based on the car I drive or how well behaved my children are?

So what if our worth doesn’t come from what we’ve done. What if it comes from something greater and deeper. What if it comes from God. What if it comes from what He’s done on my behalf. What if all that is needed is for me to trust in His finished and perfect work. What if He took my place and bore my sin and shame so that I could become righteous. I have to trust and believe that He is who He says He is. What if being in Him is enough? 

So, I’m not magically fixed. My back still hurts. My muscles are tender. But I can rest knowing that I am a child who is dearly loved and being made more and more into the likeness of my Savior Jesus Christ. And that is my hope for today. 

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Self Hatred vs. The Art of Loving Me Now

I have stretch marks. I have rolls. My body has been stretched from giving birth to 5 children in 6 years. It has carried and sustained me in the tragic loss of my sister and nephew. Has born the grief, stress and challenges of having a child with a feeding tube for 5 years and a child who has walked through cancer treatment. Cerebral palsy. Cleft Palate. Orthotics. Audiologist. Cardiologist. Oncologist. ENT. Cranial-facial. Radiologist. Pulmonology. Developmental Peds. NICU. PICU. blah,blah,blah the list never seems to ends...

The list goes on. But that's not the point.

The point is my body is damaged and broken. And I hated it. I hated my imperfections. My inabilities.

My self-worth was never great. I never looked at myself as a teenager and thought I was beautiful. The scars of sexual abuse made me see, "ugly" "worthless" "fat" even when I was outwardly gorgeous. I never saw it.

And now when I look at myself something wonderful has changed. I look at myself with compassion. I look at myself not merely as a survivor but someone who is overcoming. I'm beautiful. Flawed- absolutely, but beautiful. I'm strong. I have suffered severe depression, anxiety and at times have been very suicidal and I didn't give up. I didn't pull the trigger. I didn't die. I see arms that have comforted my son as he threw up for the 30th time that day. I see legs that kept moving forward in the face of uncertainty and darkness. I see lips that keep smiling even through the tears. I see the eyes that are searching for others... who I can love and encourage and wrap my arms around.

The truth is I have yet to arrive. I'm still in transformation but I refuse to wait to love myself until then...

I'm going to love me now.

Now, when I'm broken, scarred, overweight, vulnerable. When I'm the last one to finish the workout at Crossfit and the one huffing and puffing. I love me when I'm not fitting into the size I want. I will buy those fun leggings from Lula Roe because they make me happy and dance on the inside as well as letting me feel the buttercream softness. I will put on make-up when I want to because I want to not because I have to but I enjoy it. I will use lotion and perfume and feel alive and free and myself.

I shed the hatred. I have outgrown it. I will not look at myself in disgust but smile instead and say, "Baby, you've been through it.... but you're story isn't done."

And when I see you... walking down the street, in the check out line of the grocery store, in the aisle in front of me and behind me at church, in Starbucks waiting for your coffee... I love you too. I wonder what you've been through. I wonder if you know that you are beautiful and amazing and strong.

I want you to know that you are made in the image of God. You are wholly and dearly loved. You are unique and precious and there is no other YOU in this world.

I know it might be hard to believe. Or maybe you've known this all along... but in case you haven't I want to tell you... LOVE YOURSELF NOW.

Don't wait til you lose that last 10 or 100+ pounds.
Don't wait til you feel worthy.
Don't wait until you get that new promotion, or get married, or get divorced, or have a baby, or the children are grown or you finally get the house of your dreams or your body is finally the way you want it.

Love yourself now.

When you love yourself then you are free to love others. You can look at them without judgement and shame and disregard. You don't compare yourself. You don't put them down. You're not jealous and envious and discontent.... because you are satisfied with yourself.

So beautiful, what are you going to do today? How are you going to change this world? How are you going to impact those around you?

You are loved... so go live it!