What if I break?

 

A blanket of sadness has covered our family this year. Our village. Our world. And when sadness comes I want to run.

But this, what has happened recently,could break me. I know this. I am fully aware that this might all be too much.

So I  texted my people and whispered “what if I break? What if this is all too much?”

And them, being the most life giving people I know said, you are not going to break. You are broken. You should be broken. But broken is beautiful. Broken can be put back together stronger than ever before. We will stay with you in the broken. We will stay until it doesn’t hurt anymore.

This is the thing. They know. They know everything. They know how many things hurt. They know all the shit that has gone on and the injustice of it all.

And still. Still they stay. They stay and wait until it doesn’t hurt anymore.

When I was younger, I remember finding my mom crying in the basement while she was ironing clothes. Standing over the ironing board with tears streaming down her face. I remember being so angry. So angry at who or whatever was hurting my mom. I know now. But then I really was more confused by the silent basement suffering.

She and I grew up in different times. Different ways of dealing with life. She grew up as a Dutch missionary kid. You worked hard, you went to church on Sunday and then you worked harder. You always brought the best casserole to the church function and you didn’t interfere with other people’s business. You perhaps had a handkerchief, but that was just to wipe your nose, not to show any public emotion other than happiness and lemon bars.

And then there was me.  I was born with all the feelings all the time. Teachers in my younger years said I was “a lot to handle”. But then life happened and me being a lot to handle turned into too much. And somewhere along the way the girl that felt too much started to believe that she wasn’t enough. She needed to stop feeling.

So I did. If it was bad for you I used it. If it was good for you I used it more. Anything and anyone to make these feelings I didn’t know how to feel go away.

That is what we do when we are scared. We numb.

I made a very conscious decision for my family this summer. We were going to heal. And to heal, you need to feel.

We decided that in order to heal we made the painful decision to bring all the kids home from school. All of them.

Early on, someone asked me what I was going to teach them this year.

Healing. I am going to teach them to heal.

When trauma happens our natural instinct is fight or flight. As an addict I am usually in flight mode. But this time. This time in our lives we are choosing to stay.

To choose healing.

And healing looks different than school.

This does not mean that we are not doing anything but art, therapy, yoga and oils, but that is a huge part of it.
I need to walk beside them as they learn who they are and how all of this brokenness fits into their world. I want to teach the that their is no freedom in basement suffering. I need to breathe life and words of love into them as much as I can.

I need to stay until it doesn’t hurt anymore.

The loneliest marriage- when the sin of making your children happy has stolen the gift of your covenant. .

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Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.

Psalm 25:16

It’s not anything to be proud of. If anything its embarrassing. To sit before your best friend with tears and say you have never been lonelier.

My life is full. Full of children. Full of friends. Full of schedules. Full of running. Full of activities. Full of noise. Full of appointments.

It’s full. But I am empty.

And if I’m being honest. It’s not me. It’s not him.

It’s us. We.

We are empty. We are lonely.

Relieve the troubles of my heart     and free me from my anguish.

Psalm 25:17

We stay busy. With school. With soccer. With swimming. With basketball. With volleyball. With doctors. With therapists. With coaching. With volunteering.

We become busy. We become lonely.

And my heart is empty in the fullest schedules.

Look on my affliction and my distress     and take away all my sins.

Psalm 25:18

So we become who we were.

Two parents living parallel lives. Working for the five little ones we love instead of loving for the five little ones to thrive.

Until the silence is too thick to hear the faint crying against my pillow.

When I believe that the only way to feel heard is to let myself become sick again.

When one or both decide that we need help.

We need to crawl back again to those that speak truth over us.

When late night phone calls are made to say ….”please”

Guard my life and rescue me;do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. Psalm 25:20

The moment we realize again we are doing what we know instead of what we’d hoped.

We know the patterns that we grew up with. We know how devastating that story ends. We know the schedules of the families around us. We know that we justify by saying they are just like us. We know that it comes every fall and spring. We know that we don’t know any better.

Until knowing better has to be better than this.

So we make the late night phone calls and bear our soul. We admit again that we’ve stumbled. That the sin of making our children happy has stolen the gift of our covenant. That we would rather watch our children succeed than face the silence that has become our pain.

We reach out knowing that we will hear things we don’t want to hear. We reach out knowing that things will need to change. That yes’s will have to become no’s. That our children will learn to sacrifice in order for us to thrive.

May integrity and uprightness protect me,  because my hope, Lord, is in you Psalm 25:21

We admit that the world that we portray is the world of our activities, not of our life. Our pictures and accomplishments do not show the loneliness and pain that are stealing our marriage.

We admit that we cannot. Should not. Will not do this alone.

That we will fight. We will be still. We will pray. We will cry. We will dig. We will admit. We will be honest. We will ask for help. We will try.

For the sake of the covenant we made.

 

 

Do you have a story of fighting for freedom that you’d like to share? I’d love to have you on the blog sharing your fight, your beginning, your road to freedom. Whatever your struggle is you are not alone. -sheli

Dear girls, I am sorry I should have told you what beautiful is.

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Dear girls,
I am sorry. I am sorry for not telling you. For not telling you that today you are beautiful. I am sorry for not reminding you that when the jeans don’t fit. You are beautiful. When you are sitting alone at the lunch table. You are beautiful. When you are the only one with freckles. You are beautiful. When you want to play football instead of loom bracelets. You are beautiful. When your hair texture is different than your friends. You are beautiful. When your clothes from last school year don’t fit this August. You are beautiful. When you are missing your two front teeth. You are beautiful. When you are too shy to make eye contact. You are beautiful. When you are wearing the wrong brand shoes. You are beautiful. When you are more interested in the plays on the court than the gossip on the phone. You are beautiful. When the pimples on your face seem to have overtaken the night before Homecoming. You are beautiful. When you bring home a stellar report card. You are beautiful. When you hear the insults the entire year of seventh grade. You are beautiful. When you wake up one morning and realize you have boobs. You are beautiful. When you cry yourself to sleep at night, when I drop you off at camp. You are beautiful .When the invitation for prom never comes. You are beautiful. When you would rather spend time with your family than the popular girls sleepover. You are beautiful. When you get pulled out of class for another evaluation. You are beautiful. When you are taller than everyone on the bus. You are beautiful. When you are afraid to give the speech in front of your peers. You are beautiful. When your skin is darker than all the other girls. You are beautiful. When your teeth are covered with wires that you think will never come off. You are beautiful. When you feel like you will never be enough. You are beautiful.
I should have done a better job of telling you. Of reminding you. Of teaching you. I should have stopped waiting. Waiting for my own self to be beautiful. To believe that I was. I should have been a better example of what beautiful is.
So here I am saying what beautiful is.
Beautiful is me taller than even the tallest boy in middle school. Beautiful is when the curves in my body did not match the clothes on the rack. Beautiful is me being stood up at senior prom for a girl I thought was my friend. Beautiful is the freckles all over my face that remind me I am more at peace by the water. Beautiful is when my belly made room for the life growing inside of me. Beautiful is the extra weight I continue to carry around my middle, reminding me of every life that has grown there. Beautiful is the short hair that made me feel sassy. Beautiful is the long hair that your father prefers. Beautiful is the grey hair that reminds me that I am wiser than the year before. Beautiful is the lines on the side of my face from the nights of crying when I was fighting for our family. Beautiful is me choosing to stay home at this point in our lives. Beautiful is me walking out the door every day to a job knowing that my hardest job is still at home. Beautiful is the jeans that are a little snug because having ice cream with you was more important than what anyone else believes. Beautiful is me realizing that I was beautiful before anyone ever told me.
Beautiful is me realizing you need to know that wherever you are. Whoever you are, is beautiful.
My dream. My wish is that you would not wait until you were almost forty like me to know that you were beautiful all along.
Love, Mom

I’ve looked suicide in the face. And other secrets of the good church girl.

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This post was originally posted September 2013.

I have been asked recently to tell part of my story again If for the only reason for one person to know they are not alone. You see when we start live in truth others don’t feel so isolated. When we live in truth we stop placing people on pedestals and expect them to remain there. It’s exhausting to live there. To know within your soul that you will never be the image other need you to be. When we live in truth we get messy and real. Let’s be messy women. Truth telling women.

*I understand that this topic and subject are very sensitive. Everyone’s story is different with many different outcomes. I completely respect differing opinions and value your story. I just ask that you respect my story for what it is as well.-sheli

Today is Suicide Prevention Day. Which if you think about it may seem a bit bent. Why would we want to have a day that recognizes suicide? Others might argue that we should not draw more attention to it. I actually feel the complete opposite. I believe that we should draw attention to it. I believe that we need to quit saying that people we love died of “unknown causes” because we ourselves cannot look in the mirror and say the word suicide. I believe we do need to talk about it. We need to quit being silent about it, looking the other way, keeping it in the whispers. Because do you know what that does? It gives it more power. It gives the darkness more control over our lives. Over their lives. Over all of us.

I wish I could say I have no experience with suicide. That no one I loved and adored took their own life. But this is just not true. I remember at a very young age watching as my parents grieved the death of close friends. And the aftermath that ensued for years. I have lost those I have worked with, worshipped with, been in school with and even called family.

But the hard reality of it is that suicide itself has looked me in the face.

I have battled depression since I was a teenager. Using any chemical I could get into my body to make it go away. The demons have at times seem to have a tighter grip on me than not. When I became a mother I was sure that it would all go away. Yet as I soon discovered that postpartum depression and even psychosis is an ugliness that invaded my soul and mind. There were many times that I dreamt of running away. Far away and starting over. I begged God to take me in the middle of the night because I could no longer take the darkness that had assaulted my mind. I was hopeless. I wish I could say that when I became a Christian I never had to deal with this. Yet it was even more when I became a Christian. I knew that the spiritual battle for my soul was real. I feel like it still is. It is and always will be a battle. This is not a war we are fighting here on earth; it is in the spiritual realms.

This is what I know from my situation. Talk to each other. Be real with each other. Get in each other’s business .If you know of a friend or even an acquaintance that is withdrawing. Go to them. Now. Don’t worry about invading their space or being politically correct. Go now. Be the voice for them. So many times we don’t know what to say. We don’t want to ask for help. We don’t know how to ask for help. We think that no one will understand. We think that we will be called a freak. We don’t want to bring shame to our family. We think that no one will ever forgive us. We think that this will make it easier on everyone else. So this is my plea to you. Be invasive. Open the door and walk in. Get them help. We will many times deny it. We think it’s not that bad. We are scared. We don’t want to get locked up. We think it will ruin us for life. We are embarrassed. We think no one will believe that we are really sick. Do it anyways. I beg of you. Open the door.

I have been on the journey of healing for years. Months at times I can carry the darkness and no one can see it. I learn to hide well. I have learned to ask for help. I have learned that I am nothing without clinging to Jesus’ feet every day. I have learned that medication and therapy are a must-have for my well-being. I have learned that exercise and calm need to be a part of my every day. I have learned that my family and friends will get me help, hold my hand, and give me grace. I know that they and we have all messed up. It is messy and painful but they are not giving up on me.

I know the pain of loss and I know the pain of darkness. I pray that wherever you are on the journey, that you know you are not alone.

I didn’t come to Jesus from your Facebook posts.

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I have a hard time with Facebook occasionally. Don’t get me wrong I love to post selfies of a new haircut, Instagram my kids being kids, or take an occasional test to see what Downton Abbey character I would be (Anna). But my problem lies in the public bashing of sins. I thank my lucky stars that Facebook was not around before I accepted Jesus. Or that my kids even now do not have Facebook accounts. Because I don’t know if I ever would have been drawn to Christianity. If I would have seen Christians dropping sponsorships of children, telling me I was going to hell, and calling out my sin in a public forum….I would have walked away. I would have run away.

I didn’t come to Jesus because of what you said. I came to Jesus because of what He did.
Not too long ago I got into an argument heated disagreement over my views. At the time I was so emotionally charged by the conversation and topic that I couldn’t back up my views with scripture.

When I come to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony of God. 1Cor 2:1

But then again, I didn’t want that to be thrown in this persons face. I didn’t want them going away from the conversation feeling like once again the Bible being thrown at them. As one who didn’t start following Jesus until my mid-twenties, verses thrown at me just built the wall higher between me and Him. I just wanted to plead into the phone that I don’t know the exact verses of why I believe what I do. But this is what I am absolutely sure of.

For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1Cor 2:2

Jesus is my redemption. Jesus is my everything. Jesus pours grace over me daily. Jesus loves me like no one ever will. Jesus fights for me every moment of the day. Jesus pulls the chains and brings me freedom. Jesus protected me countless times in my life. Jesus thinks that I am worthy enough to save. Jesus changed my life…..and can change yours.

I believe that scripture is powerful and is our guide and lifeline to God. I believe that it is the air inside of me. However I believe that if you don’t believe that you are worthy, or even have a relationship with Christ, scripture that others preach at you is just words. Nothing more. It is like reading a rule book for a class that you have never taken. It means nothing.

This past summer was my twentieth class reunion. I wanted to go so badly. But being the mom to two teenage girls the Taylor Swift concert won over that option. I know most are not eager to return to the place that caused them so much trouble and pain, but I really wanted a chance. I wanted a chance for those in high school to see me now.

I came to you in my weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with demonstration of the Spirits power, 1 Cor 2:3-4

To see the girl who was sloppy drunk more times than not walk through that door as a new creation. To see the girl that clung to her boyfriends like they were her savior to see that she laid down her life for a God that loved her like no other. To see the girl who struggled with eating disorders and addictions continually breaking the chains and run towards redemption.

So that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power. 2Cor 2:5

I didn’t come to Jesus because of what you said on Facebook. I came to Jesus because of what He did. What He does. Who He is. Who He always will be.

#SheSharesTruth

Like tar around my bones.

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I remember thinking
this is it.

These are my last sane moments.

The darkness wrapped like tar around my bones.

I couldn’t breathe much less complete a sane thought.

I would check my phone seeing if anyone had called me.
Coming to save me from the darkness that loomed.

That somehow believing that if someone knew
they would save me.

I was imagining that the next month my children would have to visit me somewhere.
Some where they were keeping me safe.

Lock and key was how they would have to find me.
Sedated.

Visiting hours would determine our relationship.

Or I could just run.
Run where no one needed anything.
Where I didn’t have to be someone.

I didn’t run.
I stayed.
I screamed.
I wrestled.
I fought.

And when I couldn’t lift my head to fight anymore.
I begged God to fight for me. I begged him to come to me.

That morning.
The sun trying to push its way through the closed winter shades.
The price of my soul was up for grabs and I was sure that I had lost the battle.
I begged God to struggle for me.
To tell me I was worth the fight.

Over 16 months ago.
This is the verse that was shown to me that day.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

In the darkest

In the loneliest

In the emptiest

In the silence

In the madness

In the hopelessness

He gently whispers
I. am. healing.

Just hold on.
the Lord your God will be with you…..Joshua 1:9b

Sweet one, I know. I know today is hard. I know yesterday and tomorrow will be hard too. But I need you to close your eyes with me now and picture this. Your God, your strong powerful warrior God is surrounded by the battle that wages for your soul. He stands there larger than the darkness. He stands and armies fall with one word. They drop to the ground by the thousands, crying out for mercy.

And you sweet one. You have not been touched. The battle leaves not a mark on you. Because your God. Your powerful warrior God is fighting. Has fought. Will continue to fight for you.

Do not be afraid sweet one; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
Just hold on.

#shereadstruth
#shesharestruth

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

flowers,firefighters and gooey butter cake

I don’t even know where to begin. This afternoon as I was cleaning up vomit once again the doorbell rang. The sweet delivery girl had no idea that I would end up a crying mess as she handed me a bouquet of gorgeous Christmas flowers. She asked if I was ok. And all I could get out was….”yes, someone just loved me BIG” . Whoever you are…..thank you. My heart is just melting on a day when I could use some love.

The day ended amazing as well. We had baked up some peanut butter blossom cookies and ooey gooey butter cake to bring to a few local fire stations. We were ready to give out some goodies and hugs to those that serve our community so well. We were not prepared to be loved on so BIG there. They dressed the kids up in full gear. Took them on the trucks. Showed them around the station. And the best part…..took the kids on a ride around the block. Kennedy sat in front seat and the firefighter driving told her that he has worked there for 14 years and this is the first time they have ever done anything like this before for a family. I am just chalking  it up as a gift from Jesus tonight. I have not seen my Emme smile that big in a long time. And that in itself made me a melty mess all over again. This mama’s heart is beyond grateful. You not only made my kids the luckiest on the block. You dear firefighters let us feel loved BIG.

Day 18: tomorrows challenge…..see a need, meet a need. That’s it. If you see a need that needs to be met. Meet it.I promise you. You will be blessed more by loving others where they are at than those you love. #25daysoflove

day 15–hot cocoa love.

Well…sometimes things don’t go as planned, especially when it comes to loving people. Today was one of those days. The challenge for today was to bring hot cocoa to the Salvation Army bell ringer. Apparently they do not ring the bell on Sundays. Oops. So we headed out after church with a bunch of hot cocoas and rode around our town trying to think about who would be out in these crazy cold temperatures. The kids saw a police man sitting in his cruiser and shouted out from the backseat. “Mom we can love him today!” So that is what we did. We continued to ride around our neighborhood looking for our amazing police officers and spread some hot cocoa love. Everyone deserves some love but our officers have a really hard job and do an outstanding job keeping us feeling safe. I can’t wait to hear how you and your family spread some love on this chilly Sunday!

Tomorrow the challenge is to bring or send flowers to someone you know is really struggling this Christmas season. Christmas can be extremely hard for some. I know. That was me last year. Flowers and a hug can bring such love to someone’s sorrow. So friends…..go spread some love! #25daysoflove

Be sure to leave what you did today in the comments or on my Facebook page. It’s amazing to see love spreading ……

25 days of love…..so put away that elf…..

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We don’t do Santa. We used to so don’t be a hater and hear me out. We used to stand in line with our crying toddler and make her sit on a large bearded strangers lap. We used pay through the nose for pictures of a large man who claimed he was from the north pole holding our crying red nosed Rudolph child. Things change though when you start to see the world through the eyes of a child who wonders why this Santa type man never came to visit them. This is a personal choice that we have made as a family. So you can stop the hate mail of how I have “stolen “this from my children. And don’t get me started on the stupid elf on a shelf marketing scheme tradition.

We have a tradition as a family that we started five years ago. I had seen another blogger do this and I was humbled and inspired that we as a family could do this. So I gathered all four blessings (at the time) and asked them what they thought of 25 days of kindness. Or 25 days of random acts of love. Now don’t assume that this is the only time of year that I ask my children to be kind and love other people. Yet I believe especially during this month that their focus as well as mine needs to be focused on the King that was born. And our King is all about love, kindness, grace and mercy and gives these with reckless abandonment. Through these acts I hope to instill some of these traits into my now five children even more. We believe as a family that the most important thing about their lives is that they desire to become more like Jesus every day. Not what their GPA is, or what team they are on, or what college they will go to. But how they treated others around them. How they loved. How they showed mercy. How they gave kindness. How they bestowed grace. With reckless abandon.

As a family we have sat down and decided on 25 different things we can do. One person or family each day will not only be blessed but prayed for. So today we start our 25 days…….of random acts of love.

Some of the things we will be doing or have done in the past range from quite simple to more thought out acts.

– From buying coffee for our school crossing guard along with a big hug. Because seriously we have the best crossing guard. He is nothing but love bursting out of that orange vest every morning. And we just need to love on him for a bit.

-We have made up about 100 sandwiches and passed them out to the homeless men and women. This is one of the kid’s favorites to do, we ride around a couple of blocks from where we live and just walk the streets loving on some of the strongest people we know. The kids also like bringing them to the library where we find some individuals just trying to stay warm. A simple sandwich and conversation brings us more joy than we can ever express.

-The kids would like to tie balloons to grocery carts at a local supermarket. Because who doesn’t smile when they see a balloon?

-Buying a meal for a family in a restaurant that we don’t know. We know as a large family that this can bless the socks off a large family. And we just want to pay it forward.

-One evening we will spend writing encouraging notes to those we know are hurting during this holiday season. We can all relate to some time in our lives when the holidays did nothing but remind of us the pain and loss we try and forget the rest of the year. And who doesn’t want a hand written note in crayon from a little girl who spells everything backwards?

So for the next 25 days we will be out and about trying to spread a little love. Will you join me in this? Can you commit to spreading some joy 4 times this Christmas season? Or maybe even once?

Be a part of spreading some simple love…..not deciding where that stupid elf is going to go.