What if your depression was a gift?

I married a teacher. I mean he wasn’t my teacher when I married him. That would be weird and illegal and make him old. I mean I happen to be married to a man who became a teacher. My brother is also a teacher, as well as my sister in law. Many of my most favorite people in the world are teachers. I myself, could never be one. I don’t like organizing things or sitting in tiny chairs with tiny scissors cutting out shapes. I never have and I never will.

 

BUT teachers shaped who I am. They were the first to affirm that standing in your truth was enough. It wasn’t only enough, it was necessary. It wasn’t until I was in my late thirties that I started to believe that living in your truth was the bravest thing you could do. For yourself and for those around you.

My high school AP English professor helped  unlock that my truth wasn’t anything to hide, it was everything to write. “Write what you KNOW…..” “Show ,don’t tell me your life….” All of these things have been so cathartic to remember that it has been in me all along. The storyteller. The dreamer. The feeler of all the feels. It has been in me from the very beginning.

 

So it shouldn’t have been such an overwhelming truth to hold when I discovered that some of my children have the same “issues” as their mother. As my ten year old likes to tell her siblings or anyone else that will listen “God made me with all the feelings, and that is a beautiful thing!” As she is in the middle of a sensory overload three hour meltdown. She is a truth teller and just needs space to tell it. We haven’t really worked out the details of filters or when it is appropriate to share those yet. Baby steps.

 

But there is another side of me to being a writer. A dreamer, A storyteller. A feeler of all the feels.

Depression.

The big ugly D word. Which for me pairs nicely with the A word. Put them together and you have a hot mess of sadness with all the fears. It is not pleasant. In fact I hate it. And from what I can remember, I have always dealt with it. Times in my life it has been magnified more than others. And then at times it lays dormant. But I know in the back of my head it is always there. Waiting for me to let it back in.

I remember when I was fourteen I was taken to “lunch” to meet someone. It happened to be a psychiatrist that my parents knew who by the time I finished my fries had prescribed the first taste of Prozac for my lips. At the time all I knew is that I had just endured a horrific trauma and I hated everyone and everything. I was a very pleasant teenager. What I didn’t know is that what I was feeling was more than appropriate and would become a part of my story.

 

And don’t ask me about God, he and I were not talking during this time. I had been Romans 8:28ed more times than I could count and that was just making me more confused than cared for.

 

The depression would continue throughout my life. Although mask itself into an eating disorder that almost took my life, relationships that tried to fill the void of worth, and addictions that engulfed who I was. Running from life like I was a wild child, while all along it was a illness that just needed to be named, cared for and accepted.

 

It has been a journey of many failed attempts.

First I tried my way. Alcohol. Men. Spend. Binge. Purge.Pot. Pills.

Something. Anything to numb the pain.

Hiding who I am. Masking the reality of the struggle.

It wasn’t until I found myself with charcoal being shoved down my throat at age 22 that I realized I needed to get my shit together. This wasn’t fun anymore. This wasn’t who I wanted to be.

 

And yet still. I didn’t wake up the next day and everything was rainbows and butterflies. It was more like “oh my God what do I do now?”

So I tried a different way.

Medications. Doctors. Herbalists. Chiropractors. Yogies. Therapists. Hospitals. Cleansing shakes. Believe me if they said it would help, I tried it.

 

But in reality, what needed to change is for me to live my truth sometimes out loud. And sometimes in the quiet. To not only admit that I deal with depression and anxiety but to learn what it means to heal in it. Not from it.  In it.

 

That in itself is just so freaking hard. Because if I am honest I get angry when I feel the depression start to show its ugly face. Or completely humiliated when I am in the middle of Trader Joe’s and I can feel the irrational fears take over my mind and I am frozen with panic next to the dried fruit. Or when I am at again another therapist’s office not just for myself but now for my children who of course inherited not just my hair but my genes.

And when you fill out the insurance papers and you have to admit that yes you tried to take your own life, but that was over twenty years ago, and why the heck does that matter now? It doesn’t. Don’t let other people tell you that your past tells us who you are now. No, your past tells us that the person standing in front of us today is a badass because she overcame and chose healing every single day. That’s what it tells us.

 

I have things in place now, in the healing. In the living in it and with it. I have a list of things that help me heal.

Water.

Nature.

Scripture.

Calm.

Quiet.

Naps. ( Jesus did it )

My therapist.

Worship.

Exercise.

Write.

My safe circle.( not EVERYONE on FB is safe, just saying)

Medication.

Whole Foods.

Reading.

Sunshine.

My husband.

Sleep.

 

When I feel overwhelmed and off balance I go back to this list. It is right next to my bed. Reminding me what it takes to be healthy, for me. Notice that media and Facebook are not on the list. They can actually be a huge trigger for me, also busyness. So being around people who are more task orientated rather than authentically connecting is very anxiety producing. I know. It may be strange. But my therapist says that I am very self aware of what I need and don’t need. So I will take it as a gift given by default of this illness.

 

Just the other day my person and I were talking about aching for Sabbath. We talk about alot of other things too, but this happened to be a God conversation. That we were both feeling life changing very quickly for us and wanting to not lose what actually feeds us, heals us. The Sabbath. It dawned on me as we were talking that perhaps all of these years I have had it all wrong. I have been seeing my debilitating depression as a burden. A burden that I didn’t want to carry. That I felt was given to me not out of chemicals but circumstances. A burden that felt too heavy to carry and times and made me throw many temper tantrums that it just wasn’t fair.

 

In that moment it caught my breath,perhap my depression was never meant to be a BURDEN but a BECKONING.

 

A beckoning to Sabbath. A beckoning for wholeness. For healing.

 

For Jesus. 

 

So maybe today sweet one you are just exhausted. Exhausted from carrying it all. All the pain. All the sorrow. All the grief. All the regrets. All the anger. All the injustice. All the sadness. And he is just beckoning you just to be near.

 

Come close….and heal. It is the bravest truth you can live. 

What the Peanuts taught me about 2016.

The other night we were watching the “Peanuts” movie. Or ask my youngest son what we were watching and it may make you blush.

 

Those silly speech issues.

 

All seven of us were discussing who we thought each character would be in our family. Such a fun thing to do. Until they got to me. Then the fun and games were over. I wanted to be Sally Brown. Well, because of her impeccable style and come on….those curls. Who wouldn’t want to wake each morning and have those luscious locks? Yet my children quickly pointed out where I knew my heart was.

 

I was Lucy.

I was a “know it all” Lucy.

I have been for years now.

I had a solution and answer for everything.

Because somehow being a college educated, mom of five kids and married for 18 years, in a marriage that we can say is challenging, I seemed to take it upon myself to know more things than others.

 

I was a full blown Lucy, without the great dark hair.

 

Five years ago a dear friend of mine went through a horrible, life altering tragedy in her life. It happened to her. To her family. And yet what happened to her I thought I had all the answers for. I went into protective” I will kick your ass if you ever mess with my friend “ mode. I was not a good listener. I did not build her up. I reacted. I told her what I thought she should do and pointed out everything wrong that was happening. She would try crying to me and I would just get frustrated and tell her how to fix it. I sucked. I was a Lucy.

 

I look back now and think how many times in my life I have tried to control when others were in crisis. I have gotten behind my little advice booth and would gladly give it out, and didn’t even charge. It was really a lovely service I was giving.

 

I am embarrassed how many times I stood on my pride mountain and told those I loved how they should live their lives.

 

It was pretty lonely up there, on “Know it All Mountain”.

 

The more insecure I felt the more advice I gave. I felt so out of control that I thought I needed to take control.

 

And then this year happened. And  suddenly, I didn’t know anything. I didn’t know who to ask or how to even utter it out loud. I googled for any article or book that could help make sense of our reality. Every time I looked for answers I kept feeling more shameful and not enough. I told my best friend there was no support group or t-shirt for what we were going through. No one was running a race or making a bumper sticker for the crap show we have been living through.

 

I thought I needed a Lucy.

 

And in reality my soul needed a Linus. A faithful friend who is quiet and sees the good in it all. Or a Schroeder who wants nothing more than to play you soothing music and help you at any chance he could get. I imagine he would diffuse essential oils, make you delicious meals, clean your house and then hold you while you cried.

 

Really the opposite of Lucy.

 

Not advice givers.

 

They are life-givers.

 

I have learned through this past year that what I yearn for. What we all yearn for are life-givers.

People who speak life and hope into our hearts.

 

When you are in the midst of realizing what you need to be healed and whole you need to surround yourself with those that breath life into your heart.

 

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Psalm 51:1

 

One of my friends in particular is amazing at this. She will tell me who I forget I am. Reminding me of who she sees in me. She calls out life.

 

This is who I want to be. A life-giver.

 

One who does not remind me of my situation or limitations. But one who sees more for others than I see for myself. One who unveils the courage that is waiting to be released. A foot washer, a hugger, a listener, a bring wine over and sit on your porch girl, a text you in the middle of the night because you can’t breathe girl.

 

I want to be a girl who gives what has been given to her.

 

As a result of what we are walking through, I  have become highly sensitive to others walking through deep pain and grief. Entering into the pain and sitting there with them until the darkness goes away. Finding it a privilege to be on such holy ground. Because suffering is holy. It is messy and lonely but it is also where you will find the barefoot Messiah.

 

Last night we went around the table and said our goals for 2017. Which if you have ever done with your tribe, it is quite enlightening to hear what they deam a “goal”.

 

Let’s just say someone at the table wants “better hair” this year. ( yes, it is a 13 year old boy)

 

Don’t be jealous at the level of depth in our family. It is a gift.

 

When I told my family I wanted to stop being a Lucy they all kind of giggled at me. The youngest pointed out that I couldn’t be in a movie on TV. Thank you dear child, another dream crushed.

 

I went on to explain that we have all had the privilege of being loved deeply this year. By those that have not run from our pain and mess but have come closer with mercy. We have experienced such a life -breathing, foot washing community around us, that we need to learn how to give what we have been given. So although my goal is not as deep as others around the table, I still feel that this is all I am called to give in 2017.

 

Life.

 

And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. Exodus 33:19
What would it look like if we all breathed more life this year and less advice?

The work of healing. What happens when you want to give up……

Earlier this week I was in full melt down mode. Like if my mom were here she would have put me in time out or sat me on the stairs for a “come to Jesus” moment. As a child I am sure that I through monumental tantrums. I was what some may call a spirited child, so it is no surprise that as an adult I continue to feel emotions big.

I texted my husband that morning by 9am and said I was done. I was winning the award for the worst homeschool mom ever. If there was an award for failure, I was the Michael Phelps of that Olympics. I said that I could no longer do this. Everyone was in tears and I was a person I never wanted to be. I was anxious and overwhelmed. No one was learning anything except that mommy may have fallen off the crazy wagon again and they all had front row seats to the show.

And because my husband is who he is, and because we are sitting our butts on a therapists couch every week, he texts back, “where is your list?”

You see he didn’t give me advice or agree with me. Or better yet bring a medal home.

He just heard me.

As women, as humans, we need to hear each other more. To ask before we give our opinion. To lead towards the answer, not give it.

My list. The list.

This summer I made a long list of what healing looks like.

What my heart ached and prayed for over my family. What would come alongside Jesus and help the healing process of our family that evil has torn apart. Because we know that Jesus can heal. He will heal. But we also know that we actually have to do the work. The work of healing. The work of believing. The work of inhaling and exhaling. The work of showing up and feeling.

So I put the phone down and went to look for the list.

I went to my room, sat on my bed and let the tears come as I read aloud…..

Water

Woods

Sunshine

Yoga

Reading

Writing

Exercise

Safe people

Music

Breathing

Crying

Therapy

Whole foods

Sleep

Exhaling

Quiet

Listening

Laughter

Space

Medication

Jesus…..

And most of all Jesus.

Nowhere on the list did it say Math. Or lesson plans. Or science experiments. Or Common Core. Nowhere did it say that my children needed to sit in a classroom and have seven hours of education to be healed. Or at the dining room table being drilled about the industrial revolution.

So why was I trying to push in that which was aching to be freed?

Please hear me. I believe in education. The husband is a public school teacher. I adore teachers. I love our elementary school we came from. I miss it every day.

But this year. Our now. Our reality is that healing and connection are far more important than anything they will gain being away from each other in school.

The condition of their heart and souls is of more importance to me than any grade they could ever bring home. More than any championship they could win. Or worth they gain from win on the court.

Present and healed are more important than schedules and rules.

I want my children to move forth from this year knowing that they were heard and understood.

That to heal you need to do the work.

And the work of healing cannot be found in a classroom right now.

And yet somehow by the first week in October I had already forgotten.

I forget all the time.

Just yesterday I was on my way to my therapist and I could feel the tears already making their way down my cheeks as I drove. I was miles away and already I was crying.

My body knew.

Knew where I was going and was preparing me to release it all.

My therapist tells me that this in itself is growth. That when we acknowledge the truth of what is going on, that this is a sign of courage.

So I go back to the list. One time this morning. Four times this afternoon. I go back and I read and pray through the list.

Remembering what my heart already knows.

Inhaling the truth of brokenness is painful.

Yet exhaling is the healing.

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.

Patches of Joy and Stretches of Sorrow

 

A few weeks ago I bought a new couch.

We had been needing another place to sit in our living room as it became apparent that asking your guests to sit on the floor was no longer cool when you are in your forties or not living in a yoga studio.

I had texted my husband and asked if he could find a truck to borrow because I had found the perfect one.

I had been looking for weeks. And then that Monday morning it was as if the thrift store gods were smiling upon me and the heavens opened up.

There she was. All seventy five dollars of her. Just sitting there waiting for someone to get butterflies in their stomach when they saw her.

When my husband and his friend went to pick up the couch they perhaps were not as excited about it as I was. They asked if I had seriously chosen this one, did I understand what color the couch was and asked what in the world was this going to match.

Nothing. It matches nothing. But it makes me smile. It bring me joy.

couch

I believe that God gives us glimpses of joy everyday if we are quiet enough to see them.

But I also believe that sometimes you need to actively bring joy into your life.

As soon as the couch was in the living room I texted my girlfriends and told them it was supposed to rain every day the following week so we needed to have an emergency coffee date on my new yellow couch to bring sunshine to our lives.

We needed a patch of joy.

What we didn’t plan for was what would happen between those days.

That Monday morning our world was pulled out from under us. Someone we love was in crisis and suddenly nothing was the same.

It was as if someone knocked the air out of my lungs. Out of all of our lungs.

A therapist not too long ago told me that when you are in crisis you need to imagine that you are in a figurative ICU. You are being isolated and all the rules have changed.

So what can you do for another or for yourself if you are in crisis or a figurative ICU?

-Quiet your world. Unplug and connect to only life giving music or words. House of Cards is not healing. Worship music is.

-Make your circle very small. You need to make a decision who you are going to trust with your tender heart. You may have a lot of “friends” on social media. That does not mean that they need to know that you are in ICU or why you are in it. Creating boundaries is one of the safest and most healing things you can do for yourself and those you are protecting.

-You can take people off the visiting list. This was one of the most freeing lessons I have learned lately. You can change your mind and decide that unless those around you are only listening, being present and offering healing words, they do not get your energy. Your time needs to be spent being affirmed and supported. You have no room in your heart to carry another person’s story or advice. While this may seem harsh you would never walk into a hospital room and ask the patient to also take the wound or disease you had as well.

-Say no. I have been saying this a lot. Even to really good things. Yes, I want to read to my son’s class every week. But right now I can barely muster going to the grocery store. Your new normal is enough and no one needs to understand why, except that unless they want to see you have a complete meltdown in the middle of story time, no is a complete sentence.

-You need a break. Yesterday I sat in my therapist’s office as he told my husband and I that the most healing thing we could do for our family was to go to a hockey game. Now maybe you are not a Midwestern girl with a huge crush on the hockey players. But whatever you need to do to take care of your marriage and yourself do it. As hard as it is to walk out of the ICU it cannot consume you. ( I am still working on that)

-Accept help. I know this seems to go against everything I just said about boundaries. But there is boundaries and there is chicken noodle soup. Some moments you are going to feel like you have it all together and you can make a freaking meal. And then the next moment you can barely breathe because fear has paralyzed you in the middle of Trader Joes. So when your precious friend walks in the door quietly and sets down a tray of homemade bread, chicken noodle soup and granola for the morning, you hug her tightly and tell her she is healing a part of you.

-Pray. I know. You don’t know what to say. It’s ok. You don’t have to say anything. Ask those you trust to pray for you. I called on my tribe to utter the prayers I didn’t know how to pray. Every day I get a message or a card in the mail reminding me that we take care of each other. There will be a time soon when someone else will need you. But right now. You need your people. You need prayer warriors storming the gates. You need those you trust to hold up your arms again.

-Grace. People are going to mess up. You will too. I mess it up every day. I say the wrong thing. I don’t say anything at all. I forget to say thank you. I say thank you for the wrong thing. I am learning to see every person and every situation as this. We are all doing the best we can in this moment. We are all stumbling through this with grief on our backs and we will fall. It is mercy that meets us and grace that brings us to our feet again.

-Find the patch of joy. When we are suffocated with pain and grief we have a hard time seeing anything much less joy. Sometimes we bring it to others and sometimes we have to create it. This afternoon I went to the grocery store to get fruit. I came home with flowers and jelly beans. They made me smile. When you have been in the ICU for an extended period of time or realize that you don’t know when you will be out you,  you need to pull joy in.

Sometimes joy will come in prayer.

Sometimes joy will come in homemade soup.

Sometimes joy will come in a nap.

Sometimes joy will come in prozac.

Sometimes joy will come in a long walk.

Sometimes joy will come in letting other in.

Sometimes joy will come in flowers.

And sometimes  joy comes in a yellow couch.

 

 

This song has been on repeat in my car I thought you might need it too.

Enough by Sara Groves.

In these patches of joy

In these stretches of sorrow

There’s enough for today

There will be enough for tomorrow

Upstairs a child is sleeping

What a light in our strain and stress

We pray without speaking

Lord help us wait in kindness

A voice from a girl- the voice you forget in all of this

I think we give too many people voices.Too many things that do not deserve another ounce of energy a voice. I am not saying that people should not be heard. I am saying we need to be careful who we are giving voice to. And who we are leaving behind.

I see  you making jokes and posting comments about Josh Duggar or some sandwich guy and what they did.  Giving your opinion about the horrific illegal actions that they took. I know that in your mind it is  funny or really disgusting and you need to let everyone know how you feel. Or what your stance is. You want to make sure that those around you know exactly what your opinion is. I get that. I understand. When it is election year or there is a new season of Downton Abbey on I want my voice heard as well.  But this is not that. This is not light and funny.

This is painfully too close.

You see there is a voice you are not hearing.

There is a voice that you are mocking every time you are making jokes.

I am the voice of the girl you do not hear. I am the voice of the little girl who died on the inside at the age of eight.  I am the voice of the teenager who never knew she had a choice. I am the voice of the college girl who gives herself away to anyone that tells her she is something. I am the voice of the girl who vomits behind the car in the grocery store praying no one will see her. I am the voice of the woman who numbs herself with anything that will stop her from feeling. I am the voice of the girl who screams in terror when monsters invade her dreams at night. I am the voice of the mother who cries herself to sleep thinking she could have seen the signs. I am the voice of the girl who carves her skin to feel again. I am the voice of the child who sees a therapist more than the playground. I am the voice of the girl on the outside looking in wishing someone would notice. I am the voice of the woman who will never know what healthy sex looks like. I am the voice of the husband who is angry at the man who took away what was his. I am the voice of the pastor who sits and hears the cry of a broken story that was never told. I am the voice of the girl who just needed someone to believe.

So while I know that you on the outside are angry and want to share how you are feeling.

I just plead with you to think of those whose voices are not heard.

To think about all of the young women and girls whose lives were stolen.

Let’s do better.

Let’s be braver.

Let’s be their voice. And stop giving it to those that take it away.

Practice…..

There are things that start to happen to you when you are on the other side of healing. And by other side, I mean be brave enough to say you need healing. To acknowledge that you are a broken person who needs to slow down and that you have pieces to put back together. When things are clear in my head and I don’t feel like I need to be in therapy three times a week I find myself being able to complete thoughts and realize where they need to go and where they came from. For example why I repeat patterns when certain times of the year come around or something someone does triggers a reaction that is let’s just say is “not sane healthy “. Well to someone who has lived in trauma for so long I am met face to face with the crap I have kept in there. Like for instance. I can improve on relationships. ( I suck at it) Now before you go all “Pollyanna” on me, realize that I have learned coping strategies through the years and some are not all good. For instance.

You can find the rest of this post at the brilliant Bronwyn Lea’s site….see you over there.

Yes, I will marry you….but first I need therapy. #FreedomFriday

images

For a while now I have thought about giving guest bloggers and authors a chance to share their voice here. There is nothing more empowering than to know that you are not alone in this journey. That you are not the only one in the struggle and fighting for freedom. As many of you that have followed my journey know that I have wrestled with my fair share of demons. You also know though that I have done hard work and found freedom in entering into the pain, I still have so much work to do. But I know that I continue to fight every day. When you are in the trenches or walking around them (as I did for years) you are drawn to others who are actually authentic and truthful in their struggles. Who call you out and want nothing more than to help you break the chains you continue to carry around.

Kaelyn Benham is just that. She is what many would call a warrior. She continually enters into the pain of her past and present and is learning to not run. This beautiful woman has embraced her struggles with motherhood, love, marriage, pregnancy, truth and transformed it into power. She has left her pain at the feet of Jesus and trusted that He would use it for good. Through years of uncovering lies and experiencing freedom she helps others discover their true self through Life Coaching. She is a person that sees into your soul and calls out the love that so many of us bury under years of pain we become comfortable with. Her stories of freedom are inspiring and filled with hope.

So for our first ever #FreedomFriday I am grateful to share with you part of her courageous story……

Scott and I had been intentionally dating for about 3 months when we started to talk about getting married. Though neither of us had been in this kind of relationship before, we both sensed in our own ways that this relationship would be the one we would commit to forever. And though that sense was a part of me, every day it was a choice for me to act accordingly. My fear drove me to act in ways that were completely contradictory of this “sense” I had. I would avoid him. I would get easily irritated by him and things he would do. All in an effort to remain in control and keep my heart positioned safely.

 

At one point, Scott said something to me more seriously about getting married. Through our discussion we even loosely talked through timing of when this forever union would begin. Up to that point, unlike most girls, I had done zero planning in my mind about my wedding. All I knew was I had a love for October and so I imagined it would be a good time to walk down a leafy isle. I felt this race of excitement in my heart about the plans starting to be made, but also this impending heaviness about what those plans implied.

 

Although I had not put much time contemplating colors, flowers, dresses or cakes for my wedding, I had spent a HUGE amount of time thinking about my marriage. The problem was I had spent so much time thinking about what I did NOT want my marriage to look like, but not much time learning how to make it look like what I wanted. And so when Scott suggested that we get married that October, just 5 months later, my response was very romantically, “okay, but I have to go to therapy.” To this day I wonder what about that response did not make him run for the hills, but am thankful every day that he didn’t. Without even knowing it at the time he was showing me that whatever I brought to the table he was ready to accept.

 

That was the start of a new way of brave living for both of us. This blank slate that said, I am going to “show up” for you and I am going to trust that you are going to “show up” for me. Neither of us had been in any relationship that had that sort of bravery and commitment attached to it. Both of us knew that it was going to be hard to bridge all the gaps that past pains had caused, but we were willing to be all in with each other.

 

That day when I laid all my pain out on the table in front of me, I fully expected Scott to run. He didn’t. In fact he was patient and let me do my work from the inside out. He allowed me to bring him parts of my healing as they happened. As I would do that he would reveal his own wounds and how they were impacting the way he was thinking about things.

Unknowingly at this time we formed a silent pact that said, “We are FOR each other”. This is what we wanted our marriage to be about. Bravely living FOR each other through Christ. This was what we started planning and practicing.

 

How do I trust you that you are always “for” me no matter what?

 

How do I lay down my defenses to protect myself trusting you are going to have my best interest in mind?

 

How am I patient while you learn what my best interest even is?

 

How do I know what yours is?

 

How do we handle each other’s hearts when we have done something that might have broken it a bit?

 

What does it feel like to have God between us always pulling us towards Him and so towards each other?

 

What do I do when I want to run?

 

What do I do when I realize I want to stay?

 

What do I do when I don’t know how I feel? Or when I fear how you feel?

 

This process is hard and painful, but so worth it. It allows you access to a part of you and your spouse that people rarely experience. All under the umbrella of God’s love which you are able to experience in a new way as more of Him is revealed in each of you and in this sacred space of your marriage.

 

Brave living is choosing to move forward THROUGH the pain, the discomfort, or the uncertainty. It is saying I know that I can’t stay here, wherever “here” is, and taking steps to grow

Always, remembering, as a follower of Christ, the end has already been determined.

 

You are safe.

 

Christ wins!

 

When I live with this perspective then I know that my current circumstance will ultimately give way to a win if I choose brave living.

If you have a story about finding freedom and would like to share your story I would love to have you tell it here. Just submit your story to shelim9@gmail.com and with #FreedomFriday in the subject line. I will link it to your author page or your blog. Remember there is such freedom in telling your story and knowing you are not alone.

I love/ hate fall- when you aren’t the mom jumping up and down when your kids go back to school.

images3WF0CFTQI have a love/ hate relationship with fall. Unlike some people I love that the leaves change color, long sweaters and scarves, curried squash soup, sleeping with the windows open, apple picking, everything pumpkin (except PSL , that’s just gross) and snuggling up under a blanket with a soul feeding book.

But there is a huge part of fall that I loathe. School. (Don’t read this wrong, I LOVE our school and am so proud to be a part of such a diverse community. I digress, that is a whole other post). I am not what you would call a planner. I hate being busy. I have friends who say they thrive on being busy. I am not sure we are meant to be busy. I know for myself being busy means that I am saying no to other things. It means that I am running everyone to every sport practice, music lesson, and church. And with five kids with five different schedules this causes me to rethink adding Xanax to my yogurt in the morning. I think I would be a hermit if I could. OK. Maybe not that bad but I really don’t like to leave the house. If I have to drive more than three places in a day I get a little panicky.( stop laughing)

I know at the beginning of the year sweet mamas were posting picture of jumping in the air elated that their people were back in school all day. Me, not so much.

I was sad. And if we are going to be honest, scared.

You see fall is the appetizer for winter. And winter that I adore brings the D word.

In years past I would just let the anxiety of fall consume me and find myself overwhelmed and drowning in failure and expectations I let others put on me. I wasn’t able to keep up with the kids schedules. I didn’t know how to function with my husband gone six days/nights a week. So I drowned. The darkness would come and I would act surprised that it was there again. But If I look back I let it in. I am not saying that I asked for depression I am saying that I opened the door and did nothing to divert it another direction.

So this fall…..I am KICKING IT”S ASS!

I have put things in place that are healing for me. Things that are non-negotiable.

  • She Reads Truth. This community of women have been my safe place to pray, grow and heal. I was connected to them when I returned from Uganda by a woman I now call friend. I asked someone to help me find Jesus again and she pointed me to this daily devotional that has been such a haven of healing for me.
  • Exercise. I cannot stress this enough. If you know of anyone dealing with anxiety, depression, stress please encourage them to get exercise. I personally love walking, jogging, and kettle bell. It kicks my behind and raises my serotonin level. It has done wonders with my health and heart these past two years.
  • Food. This will always be a struggle for me. My past of eating disorders to the other extreme of shoving everything and anything in my mouth. It is a daily recommitment to treat my body with respect and not a garbage can. I will never be a size 4 and that is more than ok. But I want to know that I am doing everything I can to keep my heart and mind healthy.
  • Caffeine. I said goodbye to this friend. It was hard. I literally puked the third day off of it. I know, pathetic. But my doctor at the time asked me to try and stop. He said that it was pointless to take anti- anxiety meds and drink coffee like it was water. It was doing nothing but raising my heart rate and making it harder to think and complete thoughts.It’s been two years since I have had a regular cup of sweet nectar.
  • Sleep. I am a stickler on this one. If I am not getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night it is a recipe for disaster. I know it sounds like a lot but your body and mind need it. I need rest and to reset. It becomes a slippery slope if I stay up too late for too many nights in a row. This girl needs her beauty sleep.
  • Margin. I need to set margins or boundaries around extra things. I need to say no to even good things. Just because it is with my friends or a church activity or a concert I am dying to see I many times in the fall have to say no. I need to realize that at this point in my life I am raising five athletic children who thrive when on the field or court. I will not be a taxi driver forever but at this point I am. I can get angry every day and complain (which I do) or I can take this opportunity to have great conversations with the kids. About losing. About health. About school. About being an example. About deodorant. About commitment. About teamwork. About showering. About encouraging others. So I will continue to say no to some just so I can pour into those under my roof.
  • Date nights. Or days. Or afternoons. We have friends we kind of laid out our crap for us and told us we needed to get it together. We kind of love them. They did not tell us holier than thou advice. They took us where we were at and just offered up what worked for them. So we learned that we need to date. Every week. Not once a month. Not when you have a sitter. Not when you get dressed up (although we do that sometimes). Just date. Go for a walk. Watch a movie. ( just the two of you)  Go to the farmers market. Get dressed up and actually talk about each other.
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So fall I will learn to fully love you. I will. I will take better care of myself so we can be friends again.

What do you do to fight anxiety and depression?

Dear Moms, Do you know what beautiful is?

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Dear Moms, Do you know what beautiful is?

Earlier this week I wrote a post to my daughters about what beautiful is.

This got me to thinking. Do WE  actually know what beautiful is?

Someone had asked me recently to do a photo session with the hubs. I would love to say that I was excited and elated to have our pictures taken by an amazing photographer. But the first thing that went through my mind was give me a month until I can lose a few more pounds….and then I’ll be ready.

How many of our beautiful moments are wasted on waiting? On being ready….

And if we are waiting than what are we teaching our daughters? What are we teaching ourselves?

I will be beautiful when I find the man to love me.

I will be beautiful when I can walk down the aisle in a gorgeous white gown.

I will be beautiful when I lose all of this baby weight.

I will be beautiful when I am a size 8 again. ( who am I kidding I’d like a size 10 these days)

I will be beautiful when I cover the grey in my hair.

I will be beautiful when I can wear a bathing suit.

I will be beautiful when I spend hundreds of dollars to drink shakes.

I will be beautiful when I stop trying so hard.

I will be beautiful when I can fit into last summer’s clothes.

I will be beautiful when I have a chest like hers.

I will be beautiful when my hips don’t stick out so far.

I will be beautiful when my arms don’t sag.

I will be beautiful when he notices me.

I will be beautiful when I have the job I worked for.

I will be beautiful when my husband pays attention to me.

I will be beautiful when my stomach is hard.

I will be beautiful when I have all my makeup on.

I will be beautiful when someone notices me.

I will be beautiful when I am loved.

I will be beautiful when I my life looks like yours.

I will be beautiful when I am as thin as I was in college.

I will be beautiful when someone wants me.

 I will be beautiful when I see my reflection and not be repulsed.

I will be beautiful when others tell me I am.

So we wait. You wait. I wait. We waste our lives waiting. Waiting to beautiful.

All the while trying to raise daughters to know that they are beautiful.

They are beautiful now.

YOU are beautiful now.

YOU are beautiful now because you have stood up for a friend. YOU are beautiful now because you fought for your marriage. YOU are beautiful now because you walked away from toxic relationships. YOU are beautiful now because you forgave. YOU are beautiful now because you received grace. YOU are beautiful now because you fed those around your table. YOU are beautiful now because you chose the harder road. YOU are beautiful now because you so said no. YOU are beautiful now because you survived. YOU are beautiful now because you were a voice for those who could not speak. YOU are beautiful now because you chose children over chores. YOU are beautiful now because you gave when no else would. YOU are beautiful now because you stayed when others walked away. YOU are beautiful now because you live in truth. YOU are beautiful now because you are using your gifts. YOU are beautiful now because you put down your phone and paid attention to what you were missing. YOU are beautiful now because you are stronger today than yesterday.

It’s time to stop waiting my friends. Waiting to take the pictures.

Today. In this moment. YOU are beautiful.