Saturday, March 29, 2008

My Jesus...

My mother and I were talking in a wonderful restaurant in Madison yesterday. As we sat in the quiet dining room, for an early dinner, we were really able to share our hearts.

Though she had read my recent blog about my most recent counseling session, she had questions and wanted to know more. I was able to share more details, and impressions, that have, if anything gotten richer as I gain distance from the experience.

While we were talking, something new came into my head. Or rather, it gained focus, and came to my conscious mind. I think I had realized it earlier, but not with the clarity I did as we talked.

For the past few years I have referred to God, as God, or maybe Father. I think, now it is because I could hold God at a distance. He could love me, but only so far. He could get close, but only so close. He was distant. I knew He loved me, and desired the best for me, but it was distant. Somehow I lost the sense of His personal involvement in my life.

I have seen God work in my life in the past few years. I know it was Him and not a coincidence. I know, and can point out, specific things that would not have happened, or would not have come together, without God’s direct intervention.

But in my counseling on Wednesday, I wasn’t sitting in the lap of God the Father. I was snuggled in the lap of God the Son. Jesus. It was His scarred hands that held my heart. And it was God the Spirit that He breathed into my heart.

Suddenly, God is personal, close. He is Jesus, not just God or Father… but my Savior, my Redeemer, my Healer. I have allowed Him to directly hold my heart. Let Him in closer than ever before, with complete access to my whole heart and life.

He is my Light.
He is my Hope.
He is my Lord.
He is my Immanuel.
He is my Prince of Peace.
He is my Messiah.
He is my Friend.

He is my Jesus.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

A poem...

If you haven’t read my previous post, “Revelation, Transformation, FREEDOM!!!” read that post before you read this one. Trust me, it will make so much more sense!

My dear friend Cindy, after hearing only part of my story, left my house yesterday, and drove home, crying all the way. Out of joy at what God did for me. (Praise God for such a friend and sister to walk along this path with!) When she got home, she told me that God just gave her the following poem, for me.

I was so blessed that I felt I needed to share it with my “blogging” friends as well. It is amazing how our God works, isn’t it?

Enjoy… and I love you all… thank you again for everyone who prayed me through this! Continue praying, I know the enemy doesn’t want this victory to last! I am choosing to stand firm, and not let myself be burdened again by the yoke of slavery! (Galatians 5:1, paraphrased)

Poem for Heather

The peace God gives is priceless
but there is one who lies.
And tries to keep God’s peace concealed
through deception and disguise.

The oozing nasty scary box
was one such vile disguise.
To keep me from what God had planned,
if I’d just look inside.

Today I sat upon His lap
encompassed by His love.
He wondrously transformed the box
to white just like a dove.

The box was tied with ribbon
crimson like His blood.
A sense of peace poured over me
like waters from a flood.

His hands of grace
enabled mine to open up the prize.
I looked inside that gift box
and had a huge surprise.

Inside there lay my wounded heart
with holes and rips and tatters.
And with His Hands, God took my heart,
to Him my healing matters.

He knows what put the tatters there
and He can heal them all.
He’ll be with me till all is healed,
yes all, both large and small.

Cindy Beecher; March 26, 2008

Revelation, Transformation, FREEDOM

“O Lord my God, I cried out to You, and You healed me. O Lord, You brought my soul up from the grave; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.
His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, to the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.”
Psalm 30:2-3; 5; 11-12
How else can I start a post that describes what God did for me yesterday in my counseling session?!

For those of you who remember my post “A box buried deep” I talked there about a dark box that I was so afraid of opening. A box that I had stuffed so much into, that I have barely been sitting on it keeping the lid closed. Since the beginning of March, Tricia and I have been trying to get at that box, get into it and open it. Each time we have tried, we have hit a block, either I have been struggling with getting there, even approaching it, and last week I hit such a wall of fear that I got overwhelmed and my emotions shut down. I just couldn’t continue.

Tricia said that we needed to get that box open this week, and I agreed with her. I was scared, but I knew that I finally needed to deal with this. One of the things that I needed to tell her was that recently I realized I have been putting up walls. I didn’t want to tell her, but I did. I said to her that I have found myself putting up a wall recently when I have been coming into her office, and I knew that it wasn’t helping our therapy any. She agreed and then asked why. I told her I realized I had been doing it since she had talked about moving out to seeing me every other week, rather than weekly… my thought process went something like this:

“I need to protect myself. I don’t want to get hurt again. I don’t want to be hurt by Tricia, or feel abandoned or rejected again, so I need to protect my heart.”

When I told her what my thoughts had been, she sighed and sat back in her chair. She knew what it took for me to tell her, and just admit to her what I had been feeling. It was so hard, because I genuinely like her and respect her. I didn’t want to disappoint her. I also, I guess, was afraid that if I told her she would do nothing about it, and just try to explain it away. She did explain it, using examples from her own life. Her experiences have helped her recognise, in her clients, some of those same things that she has struggled with.

And then Tricia said, “Heather, I need to apologize to you.” Just hearing those words was a balm for my heart. I could feel the knot inside relaxing away. Seeing that she truly was remorsful that comments she had said caused me to put up walls, ended up wiping away the walls I had up, even coming into our appointment. The walls were just gone. No rubble to clean up. Just vanished.

She assured me that she wasn’t going to push me out, or make that decision for me. She wants me to make that decision when I feel I am ready. After yesterday’s session, that may be sooner than I thought it was ever going to be!

We moved right from her apology into our therapy. I was ready then, if still scared. My trust in her was restored fully, and so I was ready to follow her leading.

Let’s just say, the following things are the most important details. What really changed me, from the inside out.

I got to a point where I just couldn’t go on, and I said out loud, “God I can’t do this!” (Tricia spoke to me then, “Yes you can Heather, you’re safe here, just let it come”) and then internally I said, “God you have to do this for me.” I cried, sobbed, and felt so unable to go on… all I could see in my mind’s eye was this awful black box. Then, it was one of those moments where you look away and when you look back something is there… in that moment, my God, my Healer made a transformation.

The black box was changed from this dark, battered, dirty box, to a pristine white gift box, tied with a red bow. A present. For me.

Now, that isn’t too scary to open.

One minute I was looking at this box, hardly daring to believe it was for me, and the next I was seated, with it on my lap.

Seated… on the lap of my Savior. Cuddled against Him with His arms around me, holding me. And I looked into the box. It was a red heart, resting on a bed of white tissue paper, shattered. Broken. Unmendable.

Unless you know my God.

One minute the shattered heart was in the box. The next minute, I saw Jesus holding it in His nail scarred hands. I was still cuddled in His arms, His hands ever so gently holding that heart… MY heart… and putting it back together like a puzzle. Slowly taking a piece at a time from the box, and mending it. It was recognizable as a heart. It had holes, was tattered and torn, but in most places you couldn’t see the cracks anymore.

There were still pieces in the box, but I got the sense of patience. Just waiting for Him to decide which piece to pick up next, and where to put it, and how to heal it into place in my heart. All I have to do is wait for Him to mend me. Let Him choose what piece to pick up next and heal. Let Him do it. Not me. HIM!

Then I felt Him lean over me; over my heart in His hands, and breathe. He breathed His Spirit through the holes left in my heart. He filled me with His breath of life. With that breath, that heart in His hands, MY heart, became soft and pliable… in His hands.

And I know, in my head and in my heart that I am safe in His arms.

For the first time in my life, I don’t have to run from Him. He saw all those pieces and hurts I had been stuffing into my box. I didn’t realize then, but they were all pieces of my heart, as it was hit, battered… the pieces that broke off, unmendable, I pushed into my box, unable to throw them away, but not wanting to get cut by their sharp edges anymore.

Talk about emotions overflowing. Most of this happened without words, without Tricia even knowing what was going on, except as she was prompted to pray for me. That is what is so incredible about this therapy. Tricia didn’t even need to know what was going on, unless I told her. SHE didn’t “do” anything! It wasn’t manufactured, it wasn’t forced. It was my emotions flooding out and seeking healing. Tricia facilitated, but GOD did it all. He spoke directly into my head and my heart, and made connections between them that weren’t there before.

When I was finally able to sit up, and tell Tricia what had happened, what I had seen and felt, she started rejoicing. I think I was still in shock!

I am starting to come out of my shock now, and am realizing that it wasn’t all in my imagination. This really happened.

God showed me yesterday that I don’t have to run from His love. I can stand and accept it, rather than push it away after only so much of it. I can go towards His love. I can climb up in His lap, cuddle with Him and receive it deep into my heart. Because now there is a living, breathing, pliable, able to love back, heart inside of me to receive love into.

He has renewed His covenant with me. Reminded me of His sacrifice for ME, by His nail scarred hands. Showed me that His love for me isn’t dependent upon how much I love Him back, or even if I receive it. He loves me because He chooses to love me. Nothing, not the box, not my past, not my hurts or my choices, will cause Him to back off or leave me alone.
He will never walk away!

Do you know how long I have heard that said to me? “He is always with you. He loves you. He won’t walk away, or leave you, or forsake you.”

It NEVER sank in all the way. NEVER!!!

Until yesterday. Until this morning. Until this afternoon… when I realized that this change has gone deeper than anything else before in my life. This change is different. This change caught me at the very core of my being, and I feel real again. I feel like me. And it’s OK! I am OK, not because of anyone else in my life, for once, but because of God, I am OK!!!

Oh God, I don’t want to lose this! I don’t want to lose this memory of who I am. Because of You. Who I am in You. You have blessed me immeasurably. You are uncontainable, indescribable, and Your love is unfathomable. Yet, You gave me a taste of it yesterday, and I was able to receive it. I was able to taste and see that You are good. I praise you for that. I praise you for renewing your covenant with me. Thank you God for restoring to me the joy of my salvation! You have returned me to a place of joy that I haven’t been in for years! It’s so much deeper than “happy.” You have brought me to a place of not needing to know why bad things have happened to me in the past. You have brought me to a place of knowing that, yes, hard times will come. Bad things will happen. I may struggle with depression the rest of my life… but it doesn’t matter. You matter. Praise You for starting the teaching deep in my heart that I CAN trust You. That You DO work everything, good and bad, for good. The results are good. The results cause me to praise you! I can finally start to lay down my load, my burdens, and pick up Your’s, because Your’s is so much lighter and easier to bear. I don’t have the words my Lord to express the emotions that cause these tears to run down my cheeks. I am unashamed in this moment. Unafraid. Released from the prison of my past that the enemy has kept me in for so many years. Thank You, my Lord and God, my Savior, my Friend, my Jesus. I love You. Amen and Amen!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A prayer...

Here is a prayer from my heart, recopied from my journal tonight… written about at about midnight.

Oh Lord, I am tired of running. I am so tired of fighting. I am tired of avoiding. But I am scared of standing, I am scared of opening myself to You, of opening myself to Tricia (my counselor) - about the stuff I have been doing this week to keep me from thinking. Oh Lord, even now, as I am praying, I just want to numb out, I want to do something enough to stop thinking, to stop the tears and pain that I feel welling up now. It won’t put me in a good place tomorrow morning. It won’t help me in being open. It won’t help me in my relationship with You. Please help me God. I don’t want to go there. I want the pain to be eased by You, in Your arms, with Your love. Please comfort me now and five me Your peace so I can sleep tonight. Prepare my heart, soul and mind even as I sleep, for my counseling tomorrow. Amen and Amen.

And with that, the computer is being shut down, and I am heading to bed… its now 2:21am. So much for sleep before the kids get me up at 8am.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Running, getting out of the way...

So, my counselor asked me last week to do something. She said, “Feel free to wonder, or ponder what might be in that box.”

That statement sent me running all week. I did all sorts of avoiding. I will spare you the icky details, but I avoided with the best of them.

I spent time with God every morning, doing my Beth Moore devotional. I even prayed. But that was with the kids around, or my husband nearby. As soon as I realized I was going to have more than 20 minutes alone, after the kids were in bed, I started the song and dance. Well, I really should do this… I want to do that… I wonder about that box…. oh no, we aren’t going there…. hmmm, let’s read a book…. let’s read the book my counselor gave me, then at least I am doing something constructive that she wanted me to do.

And on it went. Those are only some of the thought processes, not even the actions that followed, that were less than flattering. So much for learning and employing good coping skills. In a pinch, the bad ones surfaced, and I made full use of them.

Just thinking of needing to tell my counselor tomorrow, of how I have been coping, makes me nervous. I don’t want to tell her how I have found myself putting up walls sometimes when I am in her office because I am afraid to be honest sometimes, or because I am afraid of what the therapy might reveal. And the therapy doesn’t work as well, unless I trust my counselor completely, and unless I am a fully willing participant in it.

I am afraid to go, because I know that we are going to tackle stuff where we left off last week. I am sure some of you have noticed that I didn’t do much talking about last week’s session of counseling. That is because during the therapy, we were trying to get to the box that I have seen before, and this time to actually get it open, so that it won’t have such a hold over me.

Even as I tried to get closer, picturing someone that I trust dearly with me, I suddenly felt like I was surrounded by a fog, or darkness. I felt completely alone, and just surrounded by fear. To the point that I was almost frozen. She kept trying to talk me through it, but I really felt frozen. She had me stop the therapy, and we talked a bit, and she looked at the clock, and lamented the fact that we didn’t have more time. We really needed another half hour. So she worked on bringing me back to a point where I could relax more and function better. I still felt very shaky inside. And I realize now, that when I hit that extreme fear, I think that my brain could not handle it, and shut down my emotions.

My counselor asked me how I was doing, and I said, “Ok, I guess.. oh, I don’t know. I am thankful I won’t be alone tonight, as I will be with my small group.” She was glad about that, prayed for me, and then as we talked just a bit more, before I left, she offered me a hug. That’s when she realized how much I was shaking. She said something about hoping that she hadn’t stirred stuff up that I wouldn’t be able to deal with during the week. When I didn’t respond right away, she asked, “I didn’t did I?” I told her I didn’t know, but I didn’t think so.

We walked out of her office and I realized that she had given me an extra 10 minutes or so over into the next hour. I held myself together, as I walked out of the office, but I could feel the emotions starting to come to the surface again. I made it to my car. I couldn’t even get in the car before the tears started to come. I sat in the car and sobbed, and then journaled a little bit, to get myself under control so that I could make the half hour drive home.

She said that we were going right back to where we left off, this week, and she was going to push me hard. She said that she wanted to help me get that box open, if I was willing to go there. She is leaving it up to me, but she really wants to help me get through this block, so that I can progress.

So therefore, this week I have been avoiding thinking, and instead ran. I suppose I could have written about this earlier, but I just couldn’t bring myself to. I just didn’t know what to write or how to write. I was still avoiding. So, tonight, the night before my counseling, I am pleading for those who read this post to pray for me tomorrow. I have some close friends on this end praying for me, but I would covet your prayers as well.

I guess the biggest prayer would be that I would get out of the way.
Out of the way of God and what He wants to do tomorrow.
Out of the way of myself and stop analysing and thinking so much.
Out of the way of how the therapy works, so that I don’t try to force things that aren’t there.
Out of the way of the Holy Spirit and how He wants to guide the session.
Out of the way so the Holy Spirit can speak to both myself and my counselor, Tricia

Also, pray for Wisdom to discern what God wants, what He is saying to us, and if the enemy is working to confuse the matter.
Thank you for your prayers, and I promise I will write sooner to update you on how things went….

Friday, March 21, 2008

Weakness as a bridge...

Today I read the daily devotion from Proverbs 31 ministries. One of the questions of application asked if there have been areas of weakness that have paralyzed me. I immediately knew that there were two FEAR and DEPRESSION. I think I have been holding these as a banner and as my identity, and they have really interfered in my walk with God. I have been yelling at Him for allowing these things in my life. I have allowed them to paralyze some of my other relationships in my life as well.

It is a struggle even now as I write this, because I still feel overwhelmed by them. It is hard going into this Easter season, because part of me resonates with the hope the season reminds us of. Of Christ dying and rising again so that we can live with Him forever. At the same time, another part of me doesn’t even see that hope in my life. How can I still feel that? How can I be so split right down the middle? Part of me is thrilled with the hope of the future with God, and part of me is not even able to see the light at the end of the tunnel!
The devotional talked about our letting God use our weaknesses and loneliness to help others in similar circumstances. And I guess that is what my whole blog is about. Trying to be transparent enough with my struggles, even when I don’t “feel” what I know to be true, that others going through the same things, or similar things, or similar feelings, will be able to see that they are not alone.

That is what this blogging community has done for me. Shown me that I am not alone. So many of the people I have linked to on my blog have shown me true love, have shown me that I am not alone; even when I feel like it… even when I feel abandoned even by God. They have emailed me and encouraged me to keep on, they have left comments on my posts to lift me up, they have prayed for me. And I intend to do the same. I will say to God “Use me, use my weaknesses to help others.” I want to be transparent, to be open, to be vulnerable, so that in some way God will use my hurts to help heal others.

If I am transparent in my struggles and failures, I will be transparent in my successes as well, and they really won’t be my successes, but rather, God’s, and He will get all the glory. If I put up the front that everything is fine because “I am saved” and that “everything is perfect now,” no one will see the truth. Like Lysa said on her blog today, whether you have built on the sand or the rock, the storm still hit both houses. (see her post here to get the full story) If people can see, that even though I have Christ in my life, I still struggle, hopefully they will see that Christ gives me a supernatural strength to get through things I would have never been able to do otherwise.

Isn’t that what Easter is all about? Jesus was so transparent with His life. He showed that He had struggles, look at His struggle with saying “Father Your will be done,” in the Garden of Gethsemane. Yet, God used His Son’s hurts and wounds to heal the hurts and wounds of others… to show them Love and Compassion, and to build a bridge that they could walk across, so that they could live forever with Him. That bridge was the cross, carried by the beaten shoulders of His Son, bloodied and beautiful. We can walk across that crimson bridge to walk in the Light of Christ, because Christ said “Use me, Father to save your people,” despite the pain He was in.

What seemed such weakness to the world, became a strong bridge of hope for all. May we all show that bridge of hope to those around us, even in our weakness.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Wake up call...

Today I did a quiet time that made a difference for me, though I am still processing through it. It is a Beth Moore “90 Days with David” study. Well, she was talking about how both puffed up, obvious pride, and low self image are very much the same thing. In essence they are focusing on self, rather than God.

I continued on to the next study that talked about being a people-pleaser. That is classically me. I do all I can to make and keep people happy. I have a hard time saying no to requests (though I have gotten better at that more recently) and I have a hard time making decisions. Not always because I am not sure what I want to do, but I take into consideration what someone else might want me to do.

I have been tearing myself apart for the last 2-3 days because, though I was a basket case over the weekend, and early this week, I have been more emotionally stable the last couple of days. I have been feeling better, so I have been struggling with keeping the appointment today with my counselor. Yesterday, and even this morning I woke up with anxiety, and kept saying to myself, “You are so dumb. You will be fine if you cancel the appointment. You are blowing things out of proportion. Your counselor is going to be so disappointed in you.” And on and on and on. I have had a couple of good friends encourage me to keep the appointment, because maybe I can skip the next one if the week goes well.

But it sure is hard to listen to the encouragement, when all you can hear when you are alone is the discouragement, and the thoughts of being pathetic and overly dependent on other people.

Yup, God knew what I needed when He spoke to my heart this morning about self concept, and about being a people pleaser. It doesn’t mean that I don’t still have those thoughts running through my head, but it at least gave me a wake up call, and made me realize what I am doing. I have been struggling with going to this appointment, because I am afraid of what my counselor will think of me, or what she will say about my not canceling. I am afraid that she will be disappointed in me. But what God showed me is that I shouldn’t fear her disappointment. How she thinks about me shouldn’t be my determining factor in going to see her or not.

If my friends/family/doctors/counselors are disappointed, or frustrated, or happy, or sad because of my decisions, if I am secure I am making the decisions based on what God is showing me, then I am doing the right thing. All I have to worry about is what God thinks of me. Ultimately I answer to Him, and Him alone.

That doesn’t mean I’m not still second guessing myself, it just means I am aware of it now. It doesn’t mean that I’m not tempted to just cancel the appointment and “tough” it out until next week. It means that I am looking back at how I was earlier this week, the thoughts that were running through my head… and looking at how I have been coping with things since then, and feel it would be safer to have someone on the outside, with experience, give me feedback and maybe some better coping skills.

So I am going to stop second guessing myself… at least about this appointment today, and I will go. Hopefully on a “bad” day I will be able to look at this post, and look at my notes about my devotional, and be reminded to change my focus from myself, to Jesus.
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

His opinion is the only one that matters, because He sees the intentions of the heart.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

To be held...

If I Could Just Sit With You Awhile

When I cannot feel, when my wounds don’t heal
Lord I humbly kneel, hidden in You
Lord, You are my life so I don’t mind to die
Just as long as I am hidden in You

If I could just sit with You a while, if You could just hold me
Nothing can touch me though I’m wounded, though I die
If I could just sit with You a while, I need You to hold me
Moment by moment, ’till forever passes by

When I know I’ve sinned and I should have been
Crying out, “My God,” and hidden in You
Lord, I need You now more than I know how
And so I humbly bow, hidden in You

By Dennis Jernigan; ©1992 Shepherd’s Heart Music

This is what I want. To be held in Jesus arms. When I am wounded. When I cannot feel. When all I am doing is trying to numb away the hurt. When all I can think of is running. I want Jesus. I want Jesus to stop me. To stand in front of me. To wrap me in His arms. To hold me so tightly that finally I relax in His embrace. And finally let His love so deeply permeate my heart and soul, that I can’t hold back any part of myself from Him.

I want to have the courage to let go, and let Jesus flood my soul with His healing love. I want to feel His love completely envelope me so that I stop feeling afraid.

Even if it is only for a little while.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The weekend on the inside...

Now for the other stuff…. the part where my words just seem dry and unable to describe how things really are going.

Friday night, I went to bed with Dave, at 11pm, and got up about an hour later, because my tossing and turning was keeping him awake. And frankly, I couldn’t turn off my brain. So I came out and sat at my desk. I did a bit of journaling, and then something possessed me to find all the paperwork and handouts that I had gotten on my discharge from the hospital. I flipped to a packed of information called “the way out of depression.” After reading through that, I ended up scanning through my other paperwork.

Then I came upon my “Wellness Plan” worksheet I had filled out in the hospital. It talked about the triggers or stressors in my life that help cause depression for me. It also had some of the early warning signs of depression, as well as severe warning signs.

As I read through it, I realized that 3 or 4 of the stressors were in place right now in my life. The I also realized that I was having many of the early warning signs that are unique to me. Then it hit me. No wonder I have been feeling so overwhelmed and easily frustrated. No wonder I was experiencing more anxiety and depression. Its because there are a lot of things right now that are triggering situations, that I am trying to deal with.

I have been starting down the path of depression again. Somehow I never even saw it. I don’t know if anyone around me has seen it. No wonder I have been feeling like I’ve been having mood swings. I HAVE been. No wonder I have been feeling depressed. I HAVE been.

I did some more praying and journaling, trying to get my thoughts under control, and finally went to bed. When I got up in the morning and went out with Peter, I managed to keep myself busy enough to keep from thinking. I even got through that night all right.

Then came church. I couldn’t concentrate, had a hard time praying, and a hard time worshipping. I wanted to talk more with people and connect a bit, but wasn’t able to. I felt isolated, and lonely, and felt like I was avoiding people on my own, not taking the opportunities given to really tell someone how I was feeling. The only person I was able to be real with, by not even saying anything was my associate pastor. He purposely sought me out, and came up to me and asked purposely, “How’s it going today, Heather?” I just looked at him, and could feel the tears starting to come. He smiled, gave me a hug and encouraged me to hang in there.

After leaving the farm, I came home and just decided to take a nap. I fell asleep almost right away, but then woke about an hour later from a bad dream and couldn’t shake it. I left the house, grabbed some food from a drive-thru, and headed to Wausau for my choir rehearsal. I got there extremely early, so drove to a park right behind our rehearsal space. I found a secluded parking spot.

And that is where the emotions came flooding out. I pounded on the steering wheel of the car, then broke down. I just felt so hopeless and helpless to stop this cycle I am in, I still do, but at least this morning I have let out some of the more surface emotions… through sobbing in the car yesterday. I ended up having to pull myself together to make it through choir. I didn’t want to go, I didn’t want to sing, I didn’t want to see anyone. But it was a long time till 8pm, (the end of the rehearsal) and I didn’t know what else to do. I did what was expected, go to rehearsal, sing, and try to stop thinking.

When I got home, and went to bed with Dave, he asked me how things were really going for me, how my weekend was. I said, “Well, I took an Ambien tonight to stop my thoughts so I could sleep…” And then told him how I was really doing. And started to cry…. again. He held me and just listened. It helped to at least be able to talk to him.

I told him I felt stupid, because this week, I really want to do what my counselor wants, and skip this week’s appointment so that I can move out to one appt. every two weeks. I told him I would feel so dumb going in, and that I probably should just cancel the appointment. He didn’t agree with that, and told me to just see how the week goes. He also mentioned that if I am still like this later this week, I was going.

So that is my weekend from the inside. Outside it looks normal, inside not so much. I suppose it is that way with everyone. Look put together outside, but really falling apart on the inside. At least, some of the time.

I just hate feeling so stuck and helpless to do anything about it.

Please God, help me through this!

The weekend on the outside...

How do I describe this weekend?

The kids were good. Peter spent the day on Saturday with me. We went shopping and just had a good time together. That night we played and just had a good evening together. He even surprised me and chose to go to church with me, over going with the grandparents to a pancake feed!

Sunday morning he was really good in church, until after the service when I tried to talk to people. Then he started pulling on my hand or clothes (whatever was available at the moment) to try to get me to head out the door. He knew we were going to the farm.

When I walked in the door of the farm, Marina came running to me saying “Mommy!” and then showed me the “pretties” in her hair. It was the first time that she has worn barettes, and she was extremely excited! I played with the kids there, and then went home to rest up before my choir rehearsal that night.

So, all in all it sounds like a normal weekend.

Dave worked all weekend, I had fun with Peter, Marina gave me a warm greeting. The church service was good. I got to talk to a few people. I went to choir and had a decent time singing. Even had a few laughs. Then I came home to my husband and kids, got Peter to bed, settled Marina down, talked to and snuggled with my husband before bed. And I actually slept last night.

A decent end to a decent weekend. Normal. Run of the mill.

Or was it?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

God heard, God cared, God answered... even sealed in darkness

The words to a song I was listening to this evening caught my attention.

“Be not afraid, I go before You always.
Come follow Me and I will give you rest.”

Those are powerful words. A strong reminder. A reminder that even in the midst of depression and pain, my God, my Lord, my Savior is hearing my pleas, my groanings too deep for words.

Today as Marina woke up from her nap, I just looked ahead at the evening and wondered how I possibly could get through until she went back to bed. I remember just barely whispering a prayer for help.

God heard.
God cared.
God answered.

A very dear sister called me. She heard my pain yesterday, and again today. She cared. She answered by talking to me for well over an hour, while my daughter played around me, until I was at the point where I could continue on. Where I could finish getting my little girl bathed, read to, cuddled up, and laid down to sleep.

God heard.
God cared.
God answered.

My daughter acted like an angel all night. She played sweetly around me (and on top of me). She giggled and laughed and clowned around making me laugh. She snuggled up sleepily after her bath, smelling of the soft lavender lotion I used on her. She read her favorite book with me. She settled in my arms, in her room while I prayed for her, for me, for our family and friends.

God heard.
God cared.
God answered.

As I held Marina, rocked her and sang “Jesus loves me, this I know…” for the hundredth time, I felt that little two year old girl clinging to me, and trying to sing with me. I felt the weight of her in my arms. The thoughts came flooding in, and before I hardly had the chance to think them, they poured out as a prayer.
“Oh God, if this little, sweet smelling bundle is the only reason, the only thing I can come up with to get me through this night, let it be enough. If I can’t do it for anything else, let me do it for her, and keep going and keep fighting. Help me, Lord, give me the strength.”

It was simple. It was desperate. It was honest. It was heartfelt. It was breathed out in such a moment of darkness and agony. It was my soul’s cry. It was born out of an awful fear that I might not have the strength to press on.

And then later I heard the words to that song. Reminding me to not be afraid. Reminding me that He is walking ahead of me, showing me the way, leading me into green pastures, beside still waters. Reminding me that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Reminding me that I will find rest for my weary soul in Him.

There is a song we are singing in Wausau Lyric Choir in our spring concert, by Stephen Paulus. It is called the Pilgrims’ Hymn. I can barely sing it without crying. Listen to these words with your heart.


Even before we call on Your name
To ask You, O God,
When we seek for the words to glorify You,
You hear our prayer;
Unceasing love, O unceasing love,
Surpassing all we know,
Glory to the Father
And to the Son,
And to the Holy Spirit.

Even with darkness sealing us in,
We breathe Your name
And through all the days that follow so fast,
We trust in You;
Endless Your grace, O endless Your grace,
Beyond all mortal dream,
Both now and forever,
And unto ages and ages,

That second verse has come to mind as I look back on tonight. Even with the darkness sealing me in, I was able to breathe His name, and He heard my prayer, He cared enough to answer me. Not in the way I expected, but He answered me. He gave me a reason to go on a few more hours, another night, a little bit farther down the path. He gave me these words to write.

Maybe for someone who really needs to hear it. Maybe for you.

I pray that these words will be healing for someone else, besides myself as I write them. I pray that God will use these words and work His Spirit behind them in someone else’s life to bring hope. To bring even an ounce of courage to keep going through the darkness, the pain, the loneliness, the terror of not knowing if it will ever end, if there will ever be relief.

I am there too. I don’t know when or if it will end, but I have to trust in Him. There is nothing else to cling to. He is the solid rock, He has done it before, He can do it again. He has lifted me out of the slimy pit and set my feet upon the solid ground.

Even in the terror, He asks us to trust in Him.

One of my pastors gave me the image of daycare kids walking along all hanging onto that rope with the handles on it. All they have to do is hang on and follow where the rope goes. Then it gets dark in the building they are in. But all they have to do is keep hanging onto that rope, because the one who leads them knows exactly where they are, and is leading them to safety.

You can cry, you can weep, you can grieve and mourn. You can be terrified of the dark. But HANG ONTO THAT ROPE!!!

God hears.
God cares.
God answers.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Birthdays, family, and other things...

Yesterday was a fun day. Not only did my best friend stay with us overnight for two night, but my mother came up for my daughter, Marina’s second birthday. We had a full two bedroom house last night. Gwen had our couch, my mom had our bedroom, the kids were in their own beds, the cats were relegated to the bathroom (due to Gwen’s allergies) and Dave and I slept on a pullout down in the office in the basement. Yet, all of us were able to sleep well!

We went out to my in-laws farm for the actual party, and were blessed to have some of our “family” from our small group there as well. We just had a wonderful time laughing and talking and watching Marina opening gifts and starting to grasp what a birthday really is, for the first time.

Marina opened a couple of gifts, and then she was off and running after finding a couple of toys. Leaving me of course, to open the rest of the gifts! We were overwhelmed with beautiful clothes for our little girl… who won’t need any more clothes till she is almost 3!!!

On another note: I am waiting for my friend to come and take me down to my counseling appointment. She is going to drive with me there and back, so as I am dealing with anxiety or anything else, I will have someone with me. Despite my fears, thoughts, and emotions I am still clinging to the truth,

“Search me, Oh God, and know my heart.
Test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.” Ps. 139:24-25

He knows everything about me and will guide me and keep me safe. He will lead me through the anxiety and the other emotions. He is my good shepherd, He will lead me beside still waters, He does cherish me no matter how I feel.

God bless to all of you and thank you for praying for me. Updates after my appointment to follow

Friday, March 7, 2008

Thank you for the gift...

Today God gave me a gift. The gift of finding friends online, that I never knew were out there. These are people that I have never met. They may never know that I have read their blogs, or comments posted on other’s blogs. But I consider them friends nevertheless.

Their hearts touch mine. Their hurts mirror mine. Their God is my God. Therefore we are sisters and friends.

What more can I say but thank you for being honest and vulnerable. There are some incredible comments on Renee Swope’s blog that just hit me so hard. I am sitting in a quiet local coffee shop and was just about reduced to tears… especially reading the comment posted by Jamie.

God also gave me the gift of today. Today I was blessed by having my children’s grandparents offer to take my children for the day, and overnight. I have been able to spend time with God, sleep in (!!!!) and the opportunity to do some things around the house… and I discovered that all the power is out in our laundry room with no explanation (yes, I did check the breaker box) So that means no laundry done today!

In the midst of these gifts, I am emotionally tossed around. But I choose to trust that God knows. That He knows me inside and out. He has searched me and he knows my heart. He has tested me and knows my anxious thoughts. He has seen the offensive ways in me, and He WILL lead me in the way everlasting. I need to CHOOSE to follow Him.

Thank you to all of you who showed me today that I am not alone. Even thought I felt that way when I woke this morning, God used you to remind me He is still here in the midst of everything. You may never read this, but Thank You for being open and honest.

God bless you!

A box, buried deep...

“Have you ever tried to keep a beach ball under water?”

Those were words from my counselor this week.

Especially in deep water, it is nearly impossible to keep both your head out of the water and the ball under the surface. She asked me that after I told her the image I was getting in my head. I explained that I felt I was looking down into a big hole or pit, and at the bottom was this big box. I knew it had to be opened, but I just couldn’t do it. She asked me if I needed to, and after some thinking, I said, “No, God will for me. Jesus will be with me and help me.”

I told her I felt like I had been sitting on the lid of that box trying to keep it closed for a long time.

She looked at me with a rather sad smile and said, “It takes a lot of energy doesn’t it?” I nodded, feeling the tears well up.

Nothing major has escaped from that box in years. Every once in a while, something will sneak out around the edges and come to the surface, sometimes it has been opened a crack for brief periods. Or, someone has caught me at the right time, before I was able to stuff something down into that box, and I have broken down, and then later stuffed it in the box. Those are the times when my emotions have been very raw, unprocessed, when I have survived more out of instinct than through actual thought.

My counselor gave me an image to think on this week. She said to imagine that she and I covered up that box and filled the whole pit with dirt. She said that it is completely covered up now, and can’t open. It isn’t covered over and abandoned and forgotten, but it is buried, with us knowing it is there, and we will uncover it next week.

When we looked at the time after we talked a bit about that box, she realized that there was no way we were going to be able to process through it all in the time we had left. She didn’t want to keep me hanging, and leave me with unfinished “stuff” hanging over my head for a whole week, thus the reason for burying the box. We are going to meet for 1.5 hours next week Tuesday, rather than our normal hour, just to make sure we have enough time to work it.

I am scared. I have to admit it. I really am. These are emotions and hurts, the “icky” emotions that none of us like to go through. I have buried them down so deeply that I haven’t really “felt” them except as I was handling them to get them into the box. I don’t want to deal with them, I don’t want to at all. I am fighting against the idea of just walking away, leaving the box buried and never going there again.

However, I know that won’t be healing. Something will eventually burst out again like it did this past October, and I will be a mess again. I know I can’t keep that up. If I have help opening the box and dealing with what we find inside, I can work through the hurt, acknowledge it, grieve through it, and then lay it aside, unburied. It will no longer have the hold over me that it does. I will be walking in more freedom.

At one point, my counselor said that she felt like we were coming up against a block and she just didn’t quite know what it was. Those words again… coming up against a block… I have heard those from other counselors. A block. A barrier. But I have to believe that it is one that God knows, and that He can move. When it is time. When He is ready. When I am ready.

Is that block partially me fighting against my own healing? Because if I heal, won’t that mean I won’t be getting any more attention? I feel like I am right on the line where I could tip either way. Keep healing, and grow into freedom, or just stop. It seems so wrong to even write that… because, in my head, I know the right answer is to press on. I really do KNOW that, but feeling it is another matter. The part of me that is responsible will keep me going on, because that is what is expected of me. No matter how much I might want to curl up and give up, I will keep going.

That is probably why I ended up being voluntarily admitted to the hospital in October. I had too much of a sense of responsibility to go through with taking the pills like I had planned. I sat staring at the pill bottles in front of me, knowing I had enough to end my life. I sat late into the night, into the next day. I put them away, only because I didn’t know who would find me, and I didn’t want to be caught in time.

I told my husband the next evening and later my doctor, and within 20 hours of talking to my doctor, I was in the hospital. Safe, but disgusted with myself that I either couldn’t hold it together enough to keep from getting to this point, or couldn’t do it right and just finish it.

It’s back to that box again. Maybe that is what the block is. Is it the box of emotions that I have been sitting on? Is it really my fighting against opening that box? Honestly being afraid to face those emotions, because I know a taste of what they were like when I put them in, and I just don’t want to handle them again?

Either way, maybe I am the block. I am blocking myself, whether I resist healing out of fear of a lack of attention, or whether I resist dealing with my emotions out of fear of experiencing them.

God, help me get out of my own way. Help me step aside and let You lead. Keep me from running ahead of You, or running away from You. Remove the blocks from this path You have me on. Remove the fear that is holding me back from Your will for me in this life. Wash me in the peace and love of Your presence. Use my pain, my experiences and the things You are teaching me in the process, to bless others, encourage them, and let them know they aren’t alone in their struggles, questions, heartaches. And Jesus, do what it takes in our lives to ease the pain in our hearts. Help us to live, focused on You, so that the things of earth will grow dim in comparison. Amen and Amen.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Convicting and changing...

I started thinking a lot this weekend. Ok, well really, God got me started thinking this weekend. I had a lot of time to think driving in the car to and from my parent’s house. I listened to a sermon on my way to my folks that talked about there being hope for your marriage. It was the introductory sermon to a series, and gave a really good overview of what the pastor was going to be talking about, and what God intended for marriage.

The pastor had 4 main points.

1. You need to leave your parents and cleave to your spouse. Cleaving he defined as pouring energy into; essentially making your relationship with your spouse the main focus.

2. Commit to your spouse. He talked about studies that showed every marriage, at around 7 years, hit a wall. There might be the 2.3 kids, house mortgage, car payments, etc. and you start thinking “there must be someone better.” His words were, you found the better when you married it. That is your better and marriage is permanent, so commit to that, and don’t let your eyes or thoughts wander. Just don’t go down that path.

3. Follow the roles laid out for each of you in scripture. Men, love your wife as Christ loves the church, sacrificially (do you realize how much that means to us women? It’s HUGE). And women, respect/honor your husband, and submit to him. (I don’t think we as women realize just how huge that is to our men, and how much culture and everything else conspires to tear down their manhood… we shouldn’t to that to them at home, we should be building them up)

4. Cling to God. If something is going wrong in your relationship, look at the other areas, but also look at your relationship with God. Are you reading the bible regularly, having consistent times in prayer, accountability, fellowship? All those things keep you connected to God. If you aren’t connected, how are you going to know what He wants you to do in your relationship with your spouse.

As I listened to the sermon, I really felt God moving in my heart. He started to remind me of some things in the past two weeks, where I hadn’t been very honoring to my husband. Where I seemed to put the kids over him, failed to greet him when he got home; acted bitter when our schedules didn’t mesh so that we could spend time together; didn’t act excited or grateful when he did something special for me… my heart just twisted inside.

I realized that I wasn’t fulfilling the role that Christ wanted me to, as He laid them out in scripture. Whether I feel that my husband is upholding his end of the relationship, or fulfilling his role, or staying connected to God, etc… I need to be doing my part. I can’t control anything that Dave does. Nor should I try to manipulate him into doing what I “want” him to do. But, with God’s help, I can change my actions. I can change how I react to him, interact with him, and just plain act towards him.

Instead of feeling bitter inside because of how I perceived he is doing something, I should take my emotions and deal with them on my own. In the meantime I need to serve Dave out of love. Not because if I do something for him, then he will be obligated to do something for me, but just to do something for him out of love, and do it with a humble spirit, a quiet heart. If I can allow God to work through me (by being connected to Him), if I can fill the role that God gave me (honoring and submitting), if I commit to Dave, and pour energy into our relationship, if I can show to Dave that he comes first after God, not me… won’t that in and of itself change our relationship? Whether or not Dave changes, that isn’t the point. That isn’t the goal, to change him… the goal is to change me, my heart, my attitudes, my actions.

My Dave is a wonderful husband and father. I love him dearly. There are so many things I love about him. His laugh, his funny sense of humor, his willingness to help anyone, even if its out of his way, his tenderness with me, his love for our kids, the incredible way he provides for our family… I could go on and on. So why wouldn’t I want to serve him, honor him, submit to him. If neither of us is in God’s will for our marriage, it really isn’t going to get any better. So if one of us starts doing what God wants, if the other isn’t already, they might start responding. Whether the other responds or not, the marriage will grow, we will get closer together just by one person changing, and God will bless us.

If I can honor my husband and submit to him, and build him up so that he feels respected by me, I am doing my job. I can serve him out of love, an overflow of the immense sacrifice Christ made for us, in serving us. It doesn’t matter what he chooses to do. It really doesn’t. I still love God, I know He loves me, and I know that Dave loves me as well. What more does God need? He wants a humble heart, a heart willing to bend the knee and take up the basin and the towel…

It’s all about changing me. God got my attention this weekend. He wants to change me, from the inside out. It doesn’t matter what the other people around me do. Christ wants me to follow Him, to do what He did, and to act out of love towards others. The best way to show that love to Dave, is to respect, honor, submit and serve. The best way to show that love to my kids, is to guide, teach, discipline, cherish, and serve. The best way to show that to my friends and family and church, is to love, pray, support, use what God has given me to serve.

It seems so daunting looking at that list. But God is giving me baby steps. He showed me that I need to change my attitude about so many things. Stop focusing on what is “wrong” with others and instead see the log in my own eye and work on that first.

If I work on my own junk, my own healing, but also stop being so “self” focused and instead see how I have been treating those around me I love… then I will be in God’s will. I need to fix my eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of my faith.
God stirred my heart this weekend to a depth that I haven’t felt in a long time. He tied everything together at once, through several different messages I heard over the course of 3 days. I prayed for my marriage and for Dave with a depth and passion that I haven’t had for a very long time. I felt God turning my focus onto Him, onto what He wants me to do. I felt Him say to me, “If you only keep your eyes on Me, follow Me, and see what I can do…”

I am not so afraid of healing now. I am not so afraid of the future now. I am not so afraid of being a parent now. I am not so afraid.