you are worth the fight.

snowpic

Let’s be honest. Sometimes January is hard. Some call it the “after Christmas blues”. I call it ” I want to have sand between my toes blues”. I am done with schedules and making lunches that don’t involve swimming somewhere in the day.  Don’t get me wrong I love the snow. I am a Michigan girl threw and threw and I love big sweaters, cute boots, gingerbread lattes, homemade bread, stews and building snowmen with my kids.

But January also brings with it a grayness of that blankets me. There are days when it feels just too heavy to breathe.

Last January, was the lowest that I have ever been. From December to March I daily battled fear and anxiety that left me feeling like I was screaming underwater and no one heard me crying for help. I tried to paint a picture to those that were not in my daily life that we were all holding it together. Because that is what we do. When we feel like our world may come crashing in on us. We hold it up. We need others to believe that things are going great. Because if we actually took the pictures of reality we would have to face it. And facing it seems just too raw. Either way I was held captive inside my own mind by one who only brought darkness and lies. I couldn’t bear for that truth to be known.

So I did what I needed to do. I went to counseling. Every week I sat on a couch and poured my fears out into those walls. I sat there as my therapist reassured me what was true and what were the lies that kept beating into my very being. Because at that point I could not discern the difference.

I let people in. And by let people in I mean that I was very selective. Very. Only a handful of those I love know the truth of what the battle looked like in my soul.

But the in between. The in between moments were just for me and Jesus. I learned how much I needed my Savior. His word was the only thing I could read. I came to understand the depth of His love for me. I was such a mess and I needed Him to be gentle with me.I clung with everything in me to Exodus 14:14.  The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still. He does. He needed to. I would lay in bed closing my eyes picturing him building a wall of protection around me fighting the battle that was determined to take my soul. And he fought. He guarded. He won. He won long before I was thought of but the spirit inside of me needed to believe.

This year. This year I know and am aware of what my triggers are. The things that draw me under quickly.

Lack of sleep– this girl needs it. Like at least eight hours a night. I have a friend who goes on like four or five. Yeah, not over here. Lack of sleep gets my thoughts all jumbled up and my judgment less than par.

Food– I feel better when I eat better. So if I am all about the junk food then I am not caring about myself well. Even though I do crave the most delicious Pistachio ice cream from Grahams something fierce.

Exercise– I actually have just realized this more in the last year than before. I love exercise. I love feeling stronger and more in control of my body. It also raises my serotonin level and self-esteem.

Connection– When I am feeling depressed I become an introvert. Not like a Zen introvert. More like a “you just piss me off” introvert. Not saying that a day or two of regrouping is a sign that I am in trouble. It saying that if I am ignoring phone calls and texts for days you might want to show up on my doorstep. I might be angry but I need to know I’m not in this alone.

Jesus– most of all I need him. I need to soak in his grace. I need to know I am still being fought for.

So sweet one, if this is you. If this is where you are at or where you have been you are not alone. Keep fighting. Keep choosing love, as my sweet friend begs me. Choose to believe that you are more than the lies that tear you apart. You are worth fighting for.

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 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…..

Buy differently this Christmas.

One of the first times I came back from Africa I stayed out of the stores for as long as I could. I was disgusted by how much we have. We all should be. Our kids do not NEED any more. They don’t. We don’t. Just the thought of going into “our world” made me sick to my stomach. After watching children my own children’s age walk barefoot in the red dirt for water each day. And play with a stick and a bike tire as a toy I wanted to exclude myself from participating in self consumption. It wasn’t long though I needed to buy cereal and milk. Cause that’s what we moms are supposed to do. Feed our kids. Yet so many mothers around the world cannot provide the basic needs for those they adore.

For a while I struggled with how do I live here while part of me is thousands of miles away? I still struggle with this. And how do I justify buying a five dollar coffee ( I still can’t come up with this one) while millions of children don’t have a full belly? Nights I would wrestle with the have and have not’s and I still don’t have answers. But that is why God is God and I am not. It is all for a reason. But I strongly. Strongly believe that those of us that are given much are required to love even more. And if you are reading this. You are given much. You are the elite of this world.

I thought I would share how you can love much this Christmas. By being extremely mindful of the gifts you buy this Christmas you can change the life of a child, a family, a generation. Be that change….

Here are a few of my favorites. What are yours?

Sixty Feet

The Cupcake Kids

Trades of Hope

Samaritans Purse

TOMS

Krochet Kids

Sseko

Noonday

Ten Thousand Villages

Sevenly

Whenever we buy gifts we try and purchase from these companies or at least try and buy local small businesses. Let your Christmas look differently this year….smaller, more meaningful. #lovedoes

faithful.

Today was the National Day of Prayer. I didn’t stand by the flag pole or go to any ceremony of special significance. I instead went to be with some of those that have been instrumental in these past few years. Women who prayed fervently for me when I didn’t know what to pray. Women who prayed for our sweet youngest before we even saw his face. Women who get all the “adoption issues” and laugh when there is nothing left to do. On this day of prayer though I am reminded while scooping out buttered noodles for all of our little ones to eat, that our God is so faithful. Nothing like buttered noodles and a house full of little children from all over the world to bring the National Day of Prayer to another level.

I was reminded so clearly this past Sunday about how far He has brought me. It was four months ago that I was dreading going to a large gathering at church. I didn’t want to go; I was afraid to go. The people. The questions. The answers I couldn’t give. The eye contact . I would have rather just hidden in the ladies’ room all night and hand out towels than have an adult conversation. I dreaded anyone asking about adoption. Uganda. My life. My heart. All of it made me want to wear a sign on my forehead that said “now an introvert” or “too damaged; stay away”. But I went and made it through and begged God to start healing me.

And then He healed.

Last Sunday as we gathered for our church’s corporate prayer and worship services I stood with arms open wide ready to receive what that Spirit has in store for me. I was no longer crying the whole way there trying to conjure up a story as to why I couldn’t speak with anyone. I still didn’t talk to as many people. And I am ok with that. I know what healing feels like. I don’t know the exact moment it happened. It took weeks, months, and long nights. I do know what it is like to not be afraid to wake up in the morning. I do know what it is like to have God so intimately speak to me and show Himself to me that I only I could see it. I do know that it is like to lay everything down at His feet. I do know what it is like to speak the darkness out loud and it lose its power over me. I do know what it is like to bathe myself in Scripture day after day just to be able to breathe. I do know what it is like to ask for help. I do know what it is like to feel the hand of Jesus lift me from the pit. I do know what it is like to have people I have never met in person before reach out to me and just encourage at just the right time.

I do believe in a healing God. I believe that HE heals. I do also believe that we need to participate in the healing. That we need to be honest with ourselves and others; that we need to die to ourselves every day. I believe that part of healing is realizing that I needed to take better care of myself. I had been separated from my kids for so long and then came back in a depression that I no longer wanted to miss out on life. Part of that is knowing that God gave me this body and mind and I need to take care of it. It honors God when we take care of what He has given us. I do know that He heals. I have felt it. I have seen it. I am a product of it.


 

This song has been my anthem.

done hiding.

I am struggling. There I said it. I am done hiding. I am done pretending. I am done making excuses. I am struggling.

I can lie and tell myself that I didn’t see this coming. That I didn’t see depression and anxiety creeping toward me in the middle of the night. That many nights I feel like the walls are closing in around me with such darkness that I am afraid to even move. I can’t lie and say that I have been begging for someone else to tell the truth and tell me that adoption is hard. That being away from your family in a third world country for 12 weeks isn’t hard. I can’t lie and say that I haven’t begged God for mercy. That I haven’t screamed at Him and asked Him why I wasn’t let out of the country sooner. I rant and rave for days about all the injustice I saw and babies who were not orphans taken out of the country. I get so angry about all of the bribery, threatening and entitlement I saw others Americans around me display. How the nightmares of it all keeps me up most nights. I can’t lie and say that the images of my friends suffering to feed their own children doesn’t go away when I close my eyes or turn the music on louder. I won’t lie and tell you it doesn’t make me question God. Asking him why? Why do I have clean water? What makes me so special that my kids can be educated? Why do I have a roof over my head that doesn’t flood up the walls every time it is rainy season? Or why don’t I have to worry about malaria every time my child gets a fever?

Yes. I am wrestling with God. Some days are better than others. But other days I feel like Jacob. And I know I will never win. That God will continue to wrestle with me until I get it right. Until I lay it all down. All of my fears. All of my anxiety .All of the nightmares. All of the helplessness. All of the hopelessness. All of my depression. He wants it all .

When I got home I had realized just how much I had endured. How many times I had been told that I could not leave the country. How many times I had seen and felt suffering of those around me and now it is all coming back . All at once. Adoption is not rainbows and unicorns. Adoption is messy. Especially in the country I was in. There are so many more questions I have now that I am back. Don’t take me wrong please. I am for adoption. But I am also for families staying together. I am for sponsorship. I am for supporting the family so they can “be” a family. I am for health care for mothers and education for children. So don’t take what I say the wrong way. Just know that I am really struggling with all levels of ethical choices things right now.

And when I am struggling I need some space. I need space to breathe. Space to feel. Space to be angry and confused. Space to pray and think. Space to get the help I need. Space for those who really want to be in the mess with me. And yes I do believe in meds and therapy. Believe me I believe God created Prozac on the 8th day. You don’t have to wonder why I have turned into an introvert. Or why I am “ignoring” you. I am not. I am just feeling. And feeling is hard.