this year, this year let’s tell the truth.

cropped-train.jpgSweet girl , I see you. Roaming aimlessly through the grocery store, legs heavy, wondering if anyone else can see. I can see that it took every fragment of energy you could assemble just to get dressed today. Trying not to make eye contact with the cart coming towards you. Inside screaming “please don’t talk to me, please just don’t”. I see you. I see you in the store wandering through aisles touching random clothing. Touching something that won’t drink anymore energy out of you. I see you. I see you driving through the Starbucks waiting for a stranger to smile at you with no expectations. A short conversation about the weather is all your soul needs to know it is still sane. I see you. I see you picking up your kids from school ringing your hands together, trying to suppress the anxiety that the other moms give you. I see you. Measuring yourself against them without ever exchanging a word. I see you sitting at dinner shoving food down your throat praying that it will all come back up. I see you in church. Sitting, pleading that the darkness that you feel is pursuing you isn’t evident to all. I see you feeling more alone in church than by yourself. I see you. I see you crying when your child asks what is for dinner and you don’t have the strength to think past cereal. I see you when someone asks you to make a decision and you claim that you just can’t. I see you when you the night seems to engulf you and you beg God for the sun to rise earlier that day. I see you when you hear your husband walk out the door to work and everything in you wants him to recognize that you should not be alone. I see you.

You are not alone sweet one. You feel alone. I know you do. You seem to think you are the only one.  Except that there are others out there who want to scream “Me too!”. They want to come alongside you. Hold your hand. And whisper so gently, I see you.

 

After suffering from post-partum depression after each of my children.  I have decided that I no longer want to let the darkness control my life. I will be a voice for those that depression and anxiety hold captive.

I wanted you to know that this is a safe place to say….me too.

25 days of love- feedback time

Merry Christmas! We did it. 25 days of love was quite an adventure. Days when we thought we knew what love would look like it turned our worlds upside down within moments. After lots of cookies, gift cards, tears and memories we delivered our last meal of the Christmas challenge this afternoon to a war veteran who is just really struggling. To love on him is just what this family needed today.

So now that we are done I would love to hear what happened for you this Christmas.

Here is where you all come in. I want your feedback. Yes, I am asking for feedback. I would love to hear your stories. What worked for your family, what didn’t work. Stories of moments that you never saw coming and hearts that were changed . I am putting all of this together for a little project I think would be helpful for families next Christmas.

So here is what I am asking….either leave a comment on the blog, facebook or email me shelim9@gmail.com about what your family and friends did this 25daysoflove.Whether you did one day or 25 days it doesn’t matter, just let me know what it was. I can’t wait to see what God did in your hearts!

Merry Christmas sweet ones, keep loving BIG!

sheli

when Christmas sucked.

When all I could do was breathe. And breathing even hurt.

Last Christmas sucked. Just sucked. From the outside I am sure I gave the impression that everything was amazing. I had just returned home from Uganda with our newest son and we were one happy, send out Christmas cards to pretend we were, happy family. We lied. I lied. It was me. I lied to save myself. To save myself from all of you knowing that we were falling apart. And by we, I mean me. I was falling apart. I couldn’t breathe. It hurt too much. I cancelled Christmas. I literally cancelled going home for the holiday. I could not imagine being in a room full of people that wanted to love me. When I could not even stand the thought of a person hugging me much less wanting to talk to me. I could barely get dressed. I felt like if I brushed my hair and my teeth it was a productive day. People wanted to visit. It was torture. Torture to pretend that life inside our house wasn’t falling apart. Torture to pretend that I wasn’t broken. A broken mess of a mom not even trying to be a wife. I could not tolerate who I was or who I was pretending to be. It felt like my skin was crawling and I wanted to run away. But I was too afraid to even leave my own home. I became obsessed that something horrible was going to happen to me and my kids. And I thought that if I just removed myself from the equation that everyone would be better.

That is just the tip of the Christmas package of pain last year. Under many more months and layers of therapy we uncovered deep fears and anxiety that suffocated who I was for months.

So sweet one….I get it. I get that Christmas may be excruciating for you. That you just want to wake up and it all be gone. The expectations that others place on you or worse yet, those that you put on yourself will never be met. And it’s ok. It’s ok to be in pain. It’s ok to be lonely. It’s ok to say out loud that it sucks. That is hurts. That you can’t find the joy. That it hurts to breathe.

Just know that you are not alone. I get it. And I am sure if we were all more honest and didn’t send out “everything is sunshine and my life looks like Pinterest” Christmas cards, we could all start to breathe. We could all start to heal. And give each other grace that where you are this Christmas is enough.

bat capes and siblings

Today at breakfast I went over again what today’s challenge was. To see a need….you meet a need. My nine year old asked….”what if I don’t see any?” My middle schooler explained that he sees them all the time while of course rolling her middle school eyes so well.

After school we asked the kids what needs they met. It ranged from picking up someone’s books that had fallen, to holding the door open for the teacher. While my sweet husband was found cleaning the basement with a certain bat cape on. You need to understand that he would rather go to the dentist than clean. He says he is allergic to cleaning, so for him to see that the basement needed some attention really was a blessing. While other family members met needs in other schools, grocery stores, and a care package delivery to another mama whose house was hit with the flu it has been a full day!

Today’s challenge was more about slowing down and listening. Listening and observing the needs around you every day. Some days I know it is overwhelming and the needs seem to outweigh any energy you have. But sometimes the need can be met by just being present. Just listening. Just giving a hug. Just loving someone where they are at. It’s about trying to live with intentionality every day.

Day19: I am kind of excited about this one ( because I know I need to do better at it). Love your sibling well. Whatever that looks like. An encouraging note, cleaning their room, buying them a coffee, calling them on the phone, not fighting with them all day, letting them watch Caliou again and again, paint their nails with your favorite polish. However you know that they need to be loved. Love them and love them BIG. If you don’t have a sibling….love someone who is like one to you. We all have people in our lives that stand in the gap and fill a need in us.

So here we go…..go love BIG!!!! #25daysoflove

p.s. I can hardly sleep tonight….because I know what the challenge is on Friday…..and its awesome!!!!

day16: flowers and baristas

Today started out awesome. We were on time for school and even a little early. So we decided to bring flowers bright and early. Last night the kids decided who would be the recipients of the flower love. First was an amazing family who display such strength and faith throughout this very difficult year. The kids all agreed that if we could we would bring flowers to them every day. The second recipient was nominated by our littlest one. He may or may not have a little crush on the Starbucks barista. She woos him with free hot chocolate, so she most definitely deserves some yellow mums! And the third was our neighbor. She is more like a grandma to the kiddos. Since their grandmas are hundreds of miles away she has for years loved on the kids like they are her own. And we love her so much. So purple mums needed to be delivered to her today.

Tomorrow may be a little tricky. I am crossing my fingers that we can make it happen. At this moment I have one home from school puking. Apparently the stomach bug is going through the school like rapid fire. Which is awesome, seeing as none of us have anything to do this week before Christmas. I really do feel bad for my little one, this is her second time with this in the last two weeks. We are blaming her brother for passing it back to her. Those silly brothers. At this point I am asking my kids to take baths with use Purell and wash their hands constantly . We are on a leaving for Michigan countdown and no silly vomit is going to get in our way.

So anyways….tomorrows challenge.

Visit your local fire department and say thank you. Thank you for going out in this freezing cold weather and spraying water while getting soaking wet. Thank you for risking your life everyday you come to work. Thank you for being such an important part of our community. And we know from experience that if you say thank you with cards and cookies its very much appreciated.

So here is to a vomit free night and more love spread tomorrow!

#25daysoflove……keep spreading the love friends!

when love spreads- join us in loving BIG

 

This idea of 25 days of love was inspired by someone I have never met in person. In my head we would be the best of friends and bake together all day. But in reality I have never met her face to face, yet her heart is contagious.

When we launched the idea with our family years ago we did it because years before we had no money in our bank account, no Christmas presents, and barely anything in the cupboard. A mom I had just met at my daughter’s school had invited us to church and we had recently been attending. It felt like home the moment we walked in. It was the first time I had heard that Jesus would take me right where I was. Broken, lost, confused, prideful, angry…and the list goes on. That December that same sweet woman showed up on our doorstep with gifts for our girls and steaks for Christmas day. The ugly cry came out. I stood there and just cried. She had no idea how bad things were. No one did. We didn’t know where or how to ask for help but that didn’t matter in that moment. This family gave to ours with no strings attached. Just LOVED BIG. Throughout the years we have been astounded at the generosity of those we love who have loved us big. And those we will never meet this side of heaven whose simple acts of love have changed our family forever.

We do know that when given the opportunity, generosity uncovers such an authentic place in our soul where vulnerability meets love that it draws us closer every time. Closer to what joy resonating in us feels like. When we give without ever expecting anything back it is an act of love. And we all have the deep desire to love and be loved.

These last eleven days of #25daysoflove I thought it would be amazing to see just how far love can spread and how much is already spreading. At the end of each day I will post on my blog and on Facebook what our plans are for the upcoming day. If you would like to be a part of this, do what you can in your community. Spread love and kindness in the community that surrounds you. Love on people big. Then post what you did and what happened. I love watching people’s reaction when you try to love on them and they have no idea what to do with all the love being poured out. But I also love to see my children’s heart change and begin to initiate love without prompting. So here we go friends…..lets love BIG and see what happens….who’s with us?

p.s. wait to see what the idea is for the new year…..love BIG in 2014.

Today’s love……Pay for a strangers meal…..

she teaches me grace- Unraveled.

If there is one thing that has brought me to my knees this year it is grace. Grace that has been poured over me. When I have deserved it least, grace has been given freely to me. I have been humbled and convicted by how much grace I have received yet how much I choose to give it to only those I think deserve it. I am embarrassed and ashamed at times how frugal I am with grace. I’ve learned how exhausting it is to live under the law and not under grace. The law is where anxiety, fear, judgment, anger, resentment, jealousy, control and idols live. Grace is where I desire to live. Grace is freedom. Grace is where truth lies.

One of the most grace filled people I know released her newest book today. Elisabeth Klein Corcoran has taught me through the years to give myself grace, speak truth, and love Jesus more than anything. I have been honored to watch her walk through the most difficult time in her life. I have seen her defend her children, her faith, her heart and her honor.

If you are in a difficult marriage or know someone who is I recommend this book. She has written with clarity and truth. In her words you find healing. She is the story of grace. Grace given. Grace received. And by grace saved.

The other women.

 

When my oldest daughter was still in utero. Or really since I peed on that stick. I knew that I could not do this one my own. Part of it was being a very young mom and the other was realizing how fortunate I was growing up. So when my oldest was about nine maybe ten I gave her a list of phone numbers of women in her life that I trusted enough to give her Godly counsel. She carries that list everywhere. There are things that she just doesn’t want to talk to me about, and that’s ok. But I wanted her to have safe place to go to when mom or dad aren’t there or she needs another perspective. I completely support and agree with the line “it takes a village”. And I wanted to make sure that my kids had strong, amazing, confident, Godly women to call on. The list has surely grown over the past couple of years seeing we have been over abundantly blessed by a church we call family. Even so, now two of my daughters carry a list.

I was fortunate enough to be brought up “in a village” environment and was determined that my daughter now my five children would do the same. I am perplexed by those women and mothers that feel like they can and want to do it all on their own. They make no attempt to make friends and reach out to those around them. I just feel like it is so much easier to be a part of a village.

I was raised with aunts and grandmothers who were always intertwined in our lives. They were second mothers to me. Teaching me things that my mom gave full room for me to learn from someone else. She too was busy raising five children. That is where the village of aunts stepped in. My aunts taught me important things like all the words to the Footloose soundtrack and how to play volleyball like the guys on Top Gun. They taught me how to shop for a bargain. They taught me that you could look beautiful and better with secondhand garments. They taught me to appreciate the piano and let the music engulf every part of my being. My aunts brought me to my first concerts. Don’t be jealous of my early exposure to REO Speedwagon and Richard Marx my cool aunts were completely responsible for that. They taught me how to get the best tans with baby oil and peroxide. They let me stay summers with them staying up late into the evening having “girl talk”. My aunts taught me how to be a good mom. How to be a servant of Christ. How to care for the fatherless. How to be respectful and kind. They taught me to seek Christ and hold Him in the highest honor.

And now that I have five little ones. And some are not so little anymore, I need help. And women around me have taught me that we each have something to offer and teach to each other. I cannot teach my children how to sew. That is my mom’s job. I cannot bring them to Taylor Swift concert. That is my sister’s job. I cannot teach them what it is like to work full time and have an amazing career. That is my other sister’s job. I have friends who will teach them better by example how to be patient, generous, amazing educated women. They will be taught what it is like to fight for your spouse and how to date with a Christian perspective. They will know what it is like to be the church and take care of each other. I will not teach them to drive. I could, but I think I will leave that to their dad and uncles. I cannot teach them to make the perfect bread. That is nana’s job. I cannot teach them how to pick out the perfect outfit. That’s my friend’s job. I may not teach them everything they need to know but I do know that I have an amazing group of sisters, friends, aunts, and especially nana’s that will teach them countless things they need to grow to be strong, God passionate people.

Don’t discount those strong women in your life. Whether related or not we all have a responsibility to be the village to the children around us. Let others help you. Invite in the wisdom. Welcome the different perspective. God knows we all need it.

No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. 1John 4:12 NLT