Wednesday, April 30, 2008

How am I doing?

To be honest, I haven’t really felt like writing much lately. That’s why it has been a bit since I did a post. Its been a long week. And when I mean long… well, let’s just say not good at all.

I went to my psychiatrist yesterday and we are increasing one of my medications, and he is trying me on something different to help with my anxiety. I left his office still dealing with a lot of anxiety, but got home and took something that helped me calm down. Then I made a big batch of cookies, just to keep my hands busy.

In the afternoon I went to see my counselor. When I got there, Tricia wasn’t back from her lunch break yet. When she got there, we made small chat while she put her stuff away and got ready for me. I told her frankly that I was dealing with a lot of anxiety at the moment. She asked why, and sitting there in the waiting room, I almost started to cry as I told her that it was a bad weekend. She asked me to wait a minute while she got set up in her office, then invited me in.

We talked a bit about the weekend. I laid everything on the table for her, and bluntly told her that I was struggling with some bad thoughts, that for my own safety I locked up my medications. I said that I still had access to them, but it was an impulse control so that I would keep myself from just going into the medicine cabinet before bed, or something, and just spur of the moment decide to take them.

It was a dark weekend. And I had to keep functioning because I had two choir concerts to get through. Between my responsibility to my choir in being there and singing, and Tricia having asked me to give her my word last week that I wouldn’t do anything to hurt myself, I was able to keep my head on straight enough not to do anything. Also that night that the temptation and thoughts were there the strongest, was the night that Dave and the kids were both home, and I was still holding onto enough sanity to know better than to do anything stupid.

Well, after hearing that, Tricia decided we needed to work on some therapy, and give me some help and insight into some of my thought processes, and why my thoughts go the way they do. She also wanted to help me start working on continuing to live and do the things I needed to, despite how I am feeling. To help me give myself credit for the things that I have gotten done. Also, she wanted to help me see how much I base my thoughts and feelings on how someone around me is doing or what they say.

She also gave me a worksheet about distorted thinking. There were a couple of styles she pinpointed for me as we talked.

1. Filtering: You take the negative details and magnify them while filtering out all the positive aspects of a situation.

2. Emotional Reasoning: You believe that what you feel must be true– automatically. If you feel stupid and boring, then you must be stupid and boring.

Talking through things helped me. And there were good things about what we went through in the office. She was able to help me see some more lies that I have been believing. Tricia also encouraged me to continue with “occupational therapy” and try to get one thing done a day… even if its just clean 1/4 of the kitchen counter, or fold one basket of laundry… and then give myself credit for that, rather than beating myself up for not doing more.

But, I didn’t realize it until I got home, but the longer I was in Tricia’s office, the worse I felt. My mood started tanking, and I really couldn’t control it.

By the time I got home, I was feeling pretty bad. I barely got my kids supper done and on the table. Then I fled to my room and dropped on the bed and cried. Part of the reason was because I just had been told that I might be able to get away for a weekend with my husband… alone just the two of us, but the plans didn’t work out. So there was some definite disappointment there. But the other part of it was just I didn’t see any hope. This whole weekend has felt that way… this whole week… no hope. And when you have been living in the dark for a while, you almost forget what hope looks like.

Finally, after I got the kids down I bundled up (really bundled up with blankets and all… it was freezing last night) and went outside. I made a bonfire in our fire pit and sat there for a while. It was a beautiful night. Even though it was cold, I could hear two owls calling back and forth. It was so cold and clear, the stars were brilliant. The fire was perfect, keeping me warm, and comforting me with its popping and crackling.

I sat there, warmed by the fire, surrounded by the sounds and beauty of God’s creation. For the longest time, I had trouble taking in all in. I just didn’t see it. The pain I was in numbed me. I was lost and alone, and couldn’t do anything to pull myself out of it.

Then it was like there was a flash of light. I could see all that God was doing around me in the world He created. And I started to cry out to Him. “Why are You taking care of all this stuff around me, but not me? Why am I still feeling this pain? Why do I have to hurt so badly? Why do I have to go through this.” All the why questions.

Then I poured out my heart. Telling Him about the pain, telling Him how much I want to be healed. How much I want this depression to lessen. How I wanted to be able to function as a wife and mom. How I wanted to be FREE. I prayed through Psalm 139 and parts of Psalm 91. I prayed for the faith to trust Him with everything. I told Him how frustrated I was that I found myself doubting Him, His Word and promises. After begging for Him to heal me, to hold me, to help me, and crying. I finally calmed down some, and was able to rest a bit. And slowly, just ever so slightly, I felt a little bit of His peace, deep inside.

It was enough.

Enough for me to rest last night and get some sleep. Enough to get me through this day. Enough for this moment.

And so I wait for the answer. I wait for the healing. I wait for God to show me where to go and what to do. I wait for Him to show me how He wants me to participate in what He is doing in me… even when I don’t see it. I wait, and ask for increased faith and trust in Him.
I am waiting.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Double standards, and baskets...

I am a basket case.

Truly, I am. My counselor, Tricia, even called me one. (OK let me explain before someone wants to stone my counselor!) :)

One time we were talking about how I could see that all the people, or other Christians, or whatever, could have faults. I mean, we all make mistakes, we are human. So it happens. Something goes wrong, a wrong choice made. And I don’t condemn them. I see it for what it is, a mistake, and something to help them thought.

HOWEVER: there is one small problem. I am not everyone else.

Tricia explained it this way (imagine sitting in a office with a couple of couches with an ottoman between them). Everyone in the world is on that ottoman. Looking at them I can say, sure they have problems, issues, mistakes made, and I am ok with that, willing to help them through, and won’t condemn them.

BUT, I am not them. I hold myself to a higher standard. I can’t make mistakes, I can’t have problems. I can’t have issues. Tricia, as we were talking, held up a basket, and explained I was in the basket because I was holding myself apart from everyone else. Judging myself more harshly than I would judge others. Less forgiving of myself than others, and less forgiving of myself than God is.

She turned to me then and said that I was a “basket case.”

Get it now?

She is right. I was reminded of this again the other night, and just have had a hard time trying to get it all into words.

I can see all the blogs I link to, all the friends I have in my everyday life. They all have struggles. Whether with depression, finances, divorce, broken hearts, despair, mistakes made, poor choices… whatever the case… it doesn’t matter. I am so willing to extend them grace, help them as much as I can, love them, care for them, pray for them, forgive them.

Yet here I am, struggling with despair and depression, and even thoughts of suicide from time to time. And what do I do for myself? Do I extend that grace and forgiveness to myself? NO. I hold myself apart… in that basket, and expect myself to hold to a higher standard. One that God doesn’t even hold me to!!!

How can I be a “real” Christian if I struggle with depression and despair? I mean, God is the God of all hope… so shouldn’t I be filled with Hope? God is the God of peace, so shouldn’t I be filled with Peace? What about Joy, Forgiveness, Love, Patience, Humility, etc. I am not any of those things… I don’t feel those things most of the time.

I feel like I am not a good enough person, maybe not even a Christian, if I am so filled with despair. Why would I want to die, when I have a wonderful, supportive, loving husband, and two beautiful, sweet children that God has blessed me with? Why would I lose hope when God had given me so many more things than I ever wanted or needed?

I hold to a double standard… but not the one people typically think of. I give other people around me more grace and forgiveness and love and mercy than I would ever give myself. I give people the things that I know God gives them, but never accept that for myself from God, or believe that He gives those things to me.

This doesn’t happen all the time. But a lot of it.

Doesn’t that mean that I am putting myself in a place above God? I mean, if God extends forgiveness and love to me, but I won’t accept it because I have to be “better” than that, isn’t that making myself the “god” and judge?

I am square in that basket. A basket case. And worst of all, my own god and judge.

Lord, help me get out of the basket I have put myself in, and back onto the ottoman where I am supposed to be. Help me to extend the love, grace, mercy and forgiveness to myself that You extend to me, and to everyone else. Help me in the midst of this despair and depression to focus on You and make You the total God of my life. Amen.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Running and standing...

Why is it that 2 days after my counseling appointment I feel like running?

I had my appointment Wednesday morning. I was exhausted emotionally the rest of the day. I woke up early Thursday morning, unable to sleep (at 4am!!!!) and went into our dark living room and curled up on the love seat in a pile of stuffed animals left from the kids, and stared out the window at the dark street for a little bit. Then the tears started. I was just so overwhelmed by the desire to run, to escape, and was remembering Tricia’s words of encouragement to claim Eph. 6:13, and to stand… having done everything, to stand.

I don’t want to stand! I want to run! I want to hide! I don’t want the responsibility anymore. For a house, for my husband, for my kids, for seeking healing… for anything. But unfortunately I know that God wants me to stand. So what did I do?

I cried. No, strike that. I sobbed.

Then I blew my nose, pulled myself together and got out my bible and my Beth Moore devotional and spent some quiet time with God. Then I read Psalm 63. You know, this one:

O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory.
Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips will praise You.
So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.
When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches,
For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.
But those who seek my life to destroy it, Will go into the depths of the earth.
They will be delivered over to the power of the sword; They will be a prey for foxes.
But the king will rejoice in God; Everyone who swears by Him will glory, For the mouths of those who speak lies will be stopped.

Yeah, it spoke right to where I was at. I read it. Then I cried some more. Then I read it again, and then the third time, while crying, I read it out loud.

After that I was able to mop up my tears and settle down more. My heart was more at peace, and I was able to curl up in bed, snuggle my cold toes against my husband, and fall back asleep.

Let me tell you, this despair thing in the middle of the night is going to get old quick. I am fighting tears even now. All I want to do is go out running in the rain (and I DON’T run… walk or roller blade is one thing… running… NOPE!) But seeing as it is past midnight, and who knows what time I will be woken in the morning, the only other option is to sleep.

Maybe in the morning, or sometime tomorrow I will be able to write some more. Then I will be able tell a bit more about my counseling. But this way it shows those of you who visit me here, how to pray better for me.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hard times and hope...

I have read across several of my bloggy friends sites that this weekend, these last few days have been hard for many of us. I couldn’t agree more from my side. The up and down moods, the quick distraction from focusing on God alone. The major temptations to despair and run away. All of them were there.

Amy had a post that she just recently wrote about hope, and she could have been talking about me. Wanting to run and hide and pull the covers over her head. She talked about worry… and how we should turn to worship instead of worry. It sure changes our focus doesn’t it? She mentioned that in the midst of all the things that were pulling her down the past few days, she started to make the decision to “lock eyes with Hope.”

The verse that came to mind was the one in Romans 15
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, that you may overflow with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Our God, my Jesus and your Jesus, will fill us with hope. We have but to ask. He is hope. So if we lock our eyes on Him, we lock our eyes on Hope. If we trust Him, He will fill us with all the joy and peace we can handle till it overflows us… as a stream of hope flowing out to others… because of the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us.

I know that my most recent posts haven’t been very hopeful. I haven’t been very hopeful. I have not been focusing my eyes on the right things, or the source of all hope. All I have been seeing are the obstacles in the path. I see trying to change myself and deal with things I need to, but that not changing my over all situation. Though I might change, how does that help anything else in my life…. I have been giving in to huge sensations of hopelessness, fear, despair; of being a victim… (this always happens to me, nothing I do will change it anyway, so why try…)

I am going in for a 90 min counseling session tomorrow morning early, and need to sleep now so that I will be relatively alert for it. But I am trying to choose to worship God rather than worry about how it is going to go. I have to choose to trust that God knows what He is going to do… that He knows what needs to be taken care of so I can get through the next week; so that I not only “survive” the next week, but actually “thrive” through it.

My devotional talked yesterday and today about having times of rest, and times of change. How do we respond to both. I have recently experienced a time of rest, and finally was able to enjoy it and settle in it, even though I knew it would be brief. I am now experiencing a time of change, not looking forward to it, fighting it some, but I know that it will be so profitable… because through each period of change, God has met me at the end of it with rest… and He has brought me just as far as I can handle, in manageable chunks, blessing me as I try to work through the changes… change myself to become more like Him.

It’s not easy. It hurts. But it is so worth it.

So, despite the despair and depression I feel now, I am going to my appointment tomorrow. Even though it means changing again.

God, as I go tomorrow, please help me to be willing to let You change me. Help my heart and mind be willing to let You in, and deal with the hurting parts of me. Help me sit back in Your arms and let You do the healing that You want to do in my heart, in my mind, in my emotions. I have to choose to allow You access to all those hurt parts of myself. There is no other way that You will go there, because You are a gentleman and will not enter where You are not invited. Give me the strength and courage to invite You in to heal me, my Jesus.

Guard my mind and heart and physical body tonight and tomorrow. Guard and protect Tricia’s heart, mind, and body tomorrow as well. Give us both wisdom and discernment to know where You want us to go, and what You want us to focus on. Help get us both out of the way of what You want to do. I surrender all my plans and hopes and dreams to You. I surrender all preconceived notions I might have about how tomorrow’s counseling will go, and just ask that You make it all happen in Your will. Including my coming home to my family, and the rest of the day that we spend together. Bless us all and protect us with Your might power and love. Amen.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Feeling like giving up...

Ok, so the last post ended with the phrase:

Hmmm. Well. Let’s just say, as you can probably tell by the title… I completely feel like giving up now. I am not, haven’t, but really want to. I’m tired. I’m worn. I had a DAY with the kids!!! (you moms know what i mean)

It was one of those days… that I got myself up really early (for me) so that I could have some time with a good friend before my kids came home from their overnight with their grandparents. I needed to spend the time with her to at least try to build myself up to get through the rest of the day. For once I was able to let go while I was there, and just cry with her.

It was one of those days… when someone called and asked me how I was doing, that I just answered that I was fine. But neglected to mention the 2 times I called my counselor’s office… once to see if there was a cancellation, and once to see if I could get on the cancellation list, so I would be called if there was one. Also neglected to mention that I had held the phone in my hands numerous times that day, seriously considering calling the after hours phone service that gets messages to your counselors when they are in sessions or whatever.

It was one of those days… where I barely hung on as a person in her own right, much less being a mom to my kids. I did manage to feed them. But by the time supper was done and they were playing (and full of energy) I was sitting on the kitchen floor by the sink trying not to cry as they climbed and wrestled over me.

It was one of those days… where I was so desperate and depressed that I just didn’t know what to think or what to say to anyone, so I didn’t say much. My dear husband has no idea just how bad the day was. He didn’t sleep well last night, and was wiped out after a 12 hour day at work. He didn’t ask, and I didn’t offer. He doesn’t know how to help me… he really can’t because he can’t take away the depression.

It was one of those days… where I am finally winding down and sitting at the computer in a quiet house. Where I can finally feel the close of the day coming on and am so grateful for that. I am at a point in the day that I thought I wouldn’t be able to get to, and looking back at the day I had. I am sitting in the quiet, contemplating the things that I should have said when people asked me how I was doing. Contemplating, but thankful that I didn’t.
Fearful of what their reactions might have been.

Fearful of the outflow of emotions that talking too much would have caused.
Scared of how hard it was to control thoughts today.
Scared of how out of control I felt.
Worried about how I came across to the kids today.
Worried about how poorly I coped today.

Hmmm. And how many times does the bible say “Do not be afraid…” ?? Yeah. Didn’t do too well there today.

So here I am at the end of my day. I am writing about how terrible I felt all day. About how hopeless I felt. About how incompetent I felt as a mom, as a wife. About how much all I wanted to do was sleep all day. About how much I didn’t want to reveal how low I was to those around me.

And I am writing it for everyone to see. Seems backwards doesn’t it? Shouldn’t I have talked to people today, during the day, when they could have helped? I did talk to a few people. And they helped or offered help as best they could in the circumstances they were in for the day.

What about tomorrow? Well, I am going to take a day for myself. The children will be at the farm running off their energy and screams out there where there is more room to spread out, rather than here, creating a pounding headache. I will sleep as long as I want. Take a walk in the rain if I want. Go to the coffee shop if I want. Basically try to spend the day re-grouping and re-focusing if I can, to get ready for next week.

And I will try to cling to the hope that God will renew my mind overnight. That He will blow a fresh breath through my soul tonight as I sleep, so that I will wake up with a bit of joy in this heart of mine. I will pray for God’s power through the night, so that in the morning, I can cling to my Jesus with fresh strength in my feeble hands.

I don’t know… is that hope? In the bleakness of my heart right now, I just don’t know. I try to end on a hopeful note for those of you who want to see a sign of hope, but can I and still be truthful? Am I even right in posting this? I don’t know if I should even be this honest on my blog. Is it too transparent? Is it too honest? Will I want people to read this years from now? Is this stuff, these emotions, these feelings of helplessness and despair at times, better left between me and God and not shared? I don’t know. Too many questions with no answers. At least not from this girl right now.

It’s too late, and I am too tired. So I am going to do a spell check, and hit the post button before I can stop myself. For those of you still reading this, know that I am trying to cling to hope. Know that it is hard. Know that most of the time I feel like I am falling backwards rather than moving forwards. Know that even though I had a mountain top experience with my Jesus a few weeks ago, and even though I know in my head and heart that I am still in His lap, I still am in a place of darkness and despair… but that is a whole other post. Maybe one I will get to tomorrow, on my day of rest.

God, my Jesus, please grant me rest this night. Any of the true thoughts I have had of You today, any scriptures that I have read, promises You have made me that I have encountered today, please let those things continue in my mind as I sleep. Protect my whole family from any attempt of the enemy to attack us during our sleep. Guard and protect my children out at the farm. Give them peace, and healing from anything that I may have done wrong today… give them short memories in those areas. Guard this house with Your hedge of protection; guard my husband and I as we sleep and fill this house with Your Presence, so that we have peaceful dreams and wake refreshed to do your will in the morning. Reset my thoughts and feelings and attitudes and help me to make right choices tomorrow morning that will start me out on the right foot for the day. So that the day is made up with You as the focus, not me, or my emotions, or my problems, but You, and from there how YOU relate to all the other stuff.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Not giving up...

Ever heard the expression “The tail is wagging the dog?”

Well, that is what Tricia said it seems like is happening with me and my emotions. My emotions are controlling me, rather than me controlling my emotions. Honestly, i don’t see the difference. When I have an emotion, I feel it. She said I need to learn to regulate my emotions.

You can do that?

Yesterday we started tackling yet another area of pain in my life. One of my good friends reminded me that because of the hard work I am doing now, in the future, all I will have to deal with are the things that come up from day to day, and week to week. Current stuff. Once I get rid of this baggage, I will finally be able to be free to deal with just the daily stuff, and not have other things added in.

What freedom that will be!

Right now, even though I am needing to deal with deep hurt, bitterness, and even struggling with why I need to revisit it… I still am able to picture myself in Jesus’ lap, with His arms around me, my heart in His hands. It takes me reminding myself. But I know I am still there. And it still gives me a sense of peace.

Some people would ask, “Why do you have to go back to that pain? Isn’t it just stirring it up again, and making you relive it, wallow in it?” Yes, it does stir it up again. Yes, it does hurt. But I have realized that if I don’t go back there and deal with it; grieve it, mourn it, work through it either by myself and God or with the help of someone else; the pain is still going to be there. It will still be eating away at me from the inside out, like a cancer… especially if I ignore it.

It is such hard work going back into the past. It is so hard to examine things that have caused me such extreme pain. I keep thinking I might have a chance at some rest, and then I see there is something more to work on.

Last night I found myself in such a state. I was wanting to run away from dealing with the pain so much, that I even called my counselor’s office to see if she had another appointment available either late this week or early next week. The receptionist said she didn’t, but offered to get a message to Tricia. I panicked and said, “No, I think I will be all right.” I ended up fleeing the house with my daughter, and running errands all night, just so I wouldn’t have to think. I was dodging thinking about anything. I was trying, I guess, to accustom myself to feeling this pain again, but from a new spot, a new perspective. And I was running from it.

Today I am a little better. I am still in pain, but it is a bit more manageable, and I can laugh with my kids and husband. And I received a call from my associate pastor just now. He gave me the following scripture to hang my hat on, per se.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

Did you see that? We will reap a harvest if we do not give up. How did my pastor know that I was feeling like giving up? That I am just so tired, that I am just so worn out from working on things that I just want to curl up somewhere and hide for a bit. I am weary… but this was an encouragement to me, because others get weary too, even so, we are exhorted not to give up, but to keep going… elsewhere in the bible it talks about running the race marked out for us, pressing on to take hold of that which Christ took hold of for us.

Continuing on.
Pressing on.
Forging ahead.

So I am encouraged, in the midst of my weariness.

Because of a timely phone call from my pastor.

Monday, April 14, 2008


I just wanted all of you who know me, and will be praying for me. I just feel like I am in a spot of trouble right now. I know what God wants me to do, and tonight, I am running.

This weekend, after some stalling big time, I did start facing some things. But tonight, as I have had the chance, now that the kids are in bed (finally) and I am alone in the upstairs… well, I am running from God. I am numbing down my emotions, using medication, because I have been dealing with more anxiety daily than I have since the end of last fall at least. I had a major panic attack on the way to church (part of which I feel was a major spiritual attack, because of the oppression I felt) and I am just really struggling right now.

It doesn’t help that I am tired and worn out. I am so sick of fighting this anxiety. I go to see Tricia on Wednesday, and I doubt that even if I called in the morning that I would be able to get in anytime tomorrow, her schedule is just too busy.

I guess I am just asking for some major prayer to help me through till Wednesday at 11am (central time) for my appointment… and then that I would be willing to listen to Tricia, and to follow her suggestions. That I would even be willing to go. I know that is what God wants (is for me to go) and what the enemy is trying to keep me from doing.

My emotions are currently shutting down, because when I let them out, I get nearly hysterical, sob, cry, and am unable to function… and the anxiety and panic go through the roof. I can’t describe the internal shaking I felt earlier today, and yesterday. Somehow despite the extreme fear I had yesterday, I was still able to audition for a couple of solo’s for my choir concert. No word back on those. Also please pray that if I don’t get one, that I won’t be too disappointed. Right now, that might be more than I can manage to swallow down.

I just need God’s help, and though I know that I am cradled in His arms, and I have peace about that… well, I am still fearful. I know that I can have confidence in Him and still be afraid… something new I learned today… and that it doesn’t mean that I don’t have enough faith…
I guess I am really struggling right now to cling to the Truth. Pray that I will keep clinging, and renew my hold on Him, my Jesus.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Counseling and new assignments...

For those of you who have been keeping track, I just wanted to let you know that I didn’t end up going to counseling this week. I ended up deciding to cancel. I figured that I would be able to get through this week, because things are going to be so busy around our house. It will be a crazy weekend.

I was very nervous about deciding to do this. Up to yesterday morning I was still wavering back and forth if I should do it or not. I just couldn’t make up my mind. I felt torn, and finally decided that I had to make a decision, because if I didn’t I was going to have a rough day, and by not making a conscious decision, I was making a decision anyway. If I didn’t decide conclusively to call and cancel, or to not call and keep the appointment, I would end up keeping the appointment… by default.

So, I finally ended up calling. And canceled. And then to keep my mind occupied I called a local spa that I had a gift certificate for. Surprisingly, they had an opening yesterday. During the time that I would have been in counseling… so I went to the spa instead, and had a wonderful hour long massage! Hmmm, was that a confirmation for me, from God, that I did the right thing? I am choosing to believe it was.

One thing that I could really use prayer for though… As I have looked ahead at this weekend, I have seen that God has given me some major points of down time. I also really feel that God is giving me an assignment to work on before my next appointment with Tricia. Sigh. It’s hard enough when Tricia gives me something to work on. It’s completely a different thing when God gives me the assignment.

I feel like He has been prompting me to start dealing with some more current issues. No matter what I have done this week, my Jesus keeps on bringing things up to me. Unfortunately it is going to require me looking through old journals (18 of them since 1998!!) and seeing what I can pull together. Working on some emotions from more recent situations that I have been avoiding. Working through some major hurts I have received from people closest to me. None of it fun. None of it easy. All of it scaring me.

I know that God worked me through “the box” in counseling just over 2 weeks ago, because He wanted me to have a base trust in Him. He wanted my feet to be on the solid rock, Him. He wanted me to feel His arms around me, His comfort, and the knowledge that He will guide me through the pain of these more recent things. I never would have been able to handle dealing with some of this stuff a month or more ago. As a matter of fact, my counselor commented that we hadn’t discussed anything about these other topics. I said, “I know” and moved on… didn’t want to even touch it. She didn’t push, thankfully. And God hasn’t pushed those issues either.

Until now.

I talked with a couple of close friends here about it, and both have encouraged me to start facing it… even if it is only a little bit this week, and if I can only go so far before my appointment this coming Wednesday with Tricia. Getting a start on it at least might help. The issues scare me. My possible reactions scare me. Facing the hurt scares me.

Why should it? I have a God who is bigger than all that. I have chosen to forgive the people involved in the hurt. Unfortunately the hurt is still there. Unprocessed. Raw. A wound that won’t heal. Because I haven’t faced it and cleaned it out. I have avoided. I have buried. I have concentrated on other things…. desperately trying to deny that pain’s existence.

I think God was willing to overlook it, because He was preparing my heart. Preparing my mind. Laying the ground work of trust and surrender that needed to be there before I could deal with these things. My Jesus was willing to let me hide from that pain until now, because in His tenderness, He knew that my heart needed to feel safe with Him, safe with a few close friends who I can trust to pray me through this, and safe with my counselor who I can trust to guide me in His way through this.

Now I have to trust Him this weekend. Surrender my plans and my worries, my fears and my hurts. And allow Him to pick that next piece out of the box, and heal it back into place in my heart.

Just this time, it is a lot bigger piece than some of the others were. It cut me to the very core the first time I handled it to shove it into that black box. I am afraid to even look at it now, even if I don’t have to handle it, because Jesus will.

Hmmm… Jesus will handle the piece of my heart that was so injurious to me. His hands are already scarred. He has already bled and died. For that piece of my life. For the people who broke it off of my heart. So, if it is in His hands, and covered by His blood, shouldn’t I be able to look at it? See the pain? Grieve the separation? Mourn the loss? But let it go?

Just a thought that came to me at the end here… something I will have to ponder as I start to look into some of this stuff. Please pray for me, and with me that God’s will would be done, that His healing will take place in this area of my life too, that I will be willing to follow where He leads… right now I find that I am struggling not to dig in my heels.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Grace, a reoccurring theme...

No matter where I turn right now, grace truly is a reoccurring theme. It showed up in the sermon our pastor gave this past Sunday, it has been showing up all the time in the play list I have currently playing on my computer.

Something about grace… I need to understand it, or at least grasp a little bit of the depth of what grace means.


I know that God has given me grace… given me what I don’t deserve. I know that He has blessed me beyond my imagination. I know I have experienced the grace of God. I guess what I want is to know His grace more, understand it more deeply, grasp it more fully, so that I can live it out in my life. So that others can see the Grace of God in my life. If I am filled with His grace to overflowing, then I can give that grace more freely to others in my life… be they strangers or friends or family.

It is interesting to me, that as I struggle to understand the concept of grace, I am going to a counseling center called Charis (pronouced “care-us”) Counseling. Charis is the greek word for grace. They are dedicated to extending grace into hurt lives, and pointing to God’s grace that is lavished so freely on us. That isn’t their main mission statement, but it gives you a general idea.

No matter where I look, I have been seeing reminders of God’s grace. By feeling the peace that He has given me this week, even after I was driving myself NUTS over the weekend!! By being reminded that though it seems easy to give grace to others, I have to learn to extend that same grace to myself.


That is what Tricia says it takes to heal… God’s grace to us, and our grace to ourselves… Truth of God’s Word to combat and replace the lies we believe… Time; time itself doesn’t heal, but it takes time to heal.

I guess I didn’t realize just how much of these things I would need. Especially a better understanding of Grace and how to accept and apply it in my life.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Focusing on Him...

Before you start reading this, I have to warn you, I am processing as I write, and getting distracted by the kids somewhat, so this might end up wandering a bit. I have journaled some of this out last night in my hand written journal, but I am still processing. When I do process, my brain goes all over, so please bear with me!

One of the things I have realized, through my quiet time today, was the need to thank and praise God in every circumstance. King David was hiding in caves, running from Saul, yet there are Psalms that he wrote during that time that are full of praise and thanks. He begged for help, but then he called God his refuge, his shield, his strong tower… and praised God’s name.

God just spoke to my heart, showing me that I need to thank Him in all circumstances. The good and the bad. It just took on a new meaning for me today. I don’t know why it didn’t sink in before this.

I guess as I have been working through this weekend, I have not been focused on my Jesus. I have been working on things from my own perspective all weekend. I have been trying to think through my week, and figure out if I can make it through this week without going to a counseling session. I have been looking at the week, and seeing all the things that I have to do, and all the things that can keep me occupied, so that I don’t have to think too hard, or have too much down time to worry about anything. If I were to skip this week’s appointment, I would probably be able to do it, because I will be having a full week to keep me occupied.
Is that a good enough reason to cancel my appointment?

I don’t know. God has slowly been revealing to me some things that I need to work through. Things not so much in my past, as in my present. God has healed so much in my past. He has held me in His arms and healed me in amazing ways… in areas of my life that I didn’t even realize were still hurting, because I had become so accustomed to the pain.

Fifteen years ago, this month, I became a Christian and gave over my heart to Christ. All through those years I have lived with hurt. But a lot of the deep wounds I have had, have been in these last 15 years. A lot of those wounds were made by other people who were Christians, whom I had trusted. Talk about some bitterness, and hurt and unforgiveness. But God. Always BUT GOD. He was working through these years, to bring me to a point of total surrender.

I guess I feel like Jesus has brought me to a point between the storms. He came to me in the pit I am in, and He held me and helped me deal with that box in my life. He showed me how He is healing me. But I am still in the pit. I have realized He didn’t lift me out of the pit. I was seated on His lap, but I was still in the pit. But Jesus showed me that He is here with me.

I feel like I am in limbo right now. There is not so much pain as there was before, but a sense of anticipation (or dread?). I can see some storm clouds on the horizon, and I am not sure I am ready or want to face the storm. I guess it’s just like when the weather forecasters tell us a big storm is on the way. We take the time we have before it hits to put things away, get the yard cleaned, secure the house, board up windows, etc… to be ready for the storm when it hits.

Maybe that is where I am at right now. I have to keep my eye on the sky to see when the storm is imminent, but I have to prepare. Actually, I have to let God prepare me. In my own strength I am afraid. In Christ, I don’t have to be.

I suppose that is what this whole post is about. I know I am rambling, but my devotional this morning really struck me. David was weathering so many storms in his life, yet he kept His eyes fixed on his God. Even when he was in despair, his eyes were still on his God.

I need to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfector of my faith. I don’t know what this week will bring. I don’t know how my emotions will be doing on Thursday, so I don’t know right now if I will be able to cancel the appointment. Also, even if my emotions are all over, or I am not doing as well, should I not go? Shouldn’t I learn that with God’s help I can work through whatever is going on? Shouldn’t I give myself the opportunity to see that I don’t NEED to have Tricia help me through everything? God is really all I need. And if I find that over the weekend I am having trouble working through things, or get myself in a big muddle, I will be able to see Tricia the following Wednesday and get some perspective from her. Her viewpoint, from a “spectator” or “big picture” standpoint can give me a better understanding of what is going on. If I let a couple of weeks go between appointments, maybe I will be able to work through some things on my own and then have her feedback.

See what I mean, I have been doing this all weekend. Trying to use my logic to figure out what to do. I just don’t want to end up “muscling through” to the next week because I think I should.

But God.

Jesus knows what this week is going to bring. He knows if I will be going to my appointment. He knows if I will need it or not. I know that Jesus can get me through this week, whether I go or not. I just somehow have to keep refocusing my gaze… from my problems to my Jesus. My Jesus is my ultimate healer and counselor. He is the one who does it all, and is in control of all, and knows all. How else can I get through this week, unless I rely on Him?

So I guess the it is time now to prepare, strengthen my walls, get ready for the next things Jesus wants me walk through. Preparing my mind with the word of God, praying and keeping my focus on Him. Reading the Truth and reminding myself of the truth, no matter what my feelings may say to me.

No matter what my feelings say, Jesus is with me, His Spirit is in me, my God is guiding me. He is my strength and my refuge, my rock in times of trouble, my joy in all things. I have to remember that it doesn’t matter that I am still in the pit, or what I am struggling with. Because, even when I look at all the things I need to do, or things I am feeling, I have to remember…


Saturday, April 5, 2008

Good is good enough...

Those are hard words for a perfectionist like me to hear.
Seriously… they are.

They are also one of the last things that my counselor said to me this past week. Sigh.
I had talked to Tricia about stressing out all week because we were hosting our small group for the first time in about 4 weeks. Our house has been a disaster (and right now it isn’t much better) because I have been only doing a “maintenance” cleaning the past four weeks. Running after 2 kids and dealing with other things ends up eating up the time I would normally be doing deeper cleaning… (or maybe that is reading, not cleaning!!!)

Anyway, I was stressing out about how much there was to get done, and Tricia said that she needed to teach me that “good was good enough.”

Little did I know then, that those words would be my mantra for the next 2 days!
All day Wednesday I tried to clean the house. Every time I got one corner clean and moved onto the next, the kids undid what I just finished. I felt like I was running circles all day. And, all day I had the worst heartburn. I couldn’t believe how bad it was. You would think that after eating Tums all day, I would get the hint.

Finally that evening I got a clue, and took some anti-anxiety medicine. Gee, who knew? My heartburn calmed down, and the knot in my stomach (that I didn’t even know was there) disintegrated.

I still didn’t get a clue, and the next day, when we were going to be hosting our small group, I was still driving myself nuts to get everything done. I had a list too long to possibly accomplish, and added more as the day went on. I was stressed to the max, and wasn’t able to let go of things that were unnecessary.

To top it off, I had a short devotional time with the Lord in the morning, but I was distracted by the kids, and it was really hard to even pray. I couldn’t keep a line of thought going long enough. I went through the whole day trying to keep up, catch up, clean up. All day I was breathing short “Help me” prayers.

Two hours before everyone was to arrive, I lost it in the kitchen. I was trying to iron a table cloth, and found myself beating myself up for “ruining” it (bleached out parts of it), and that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I realized at that point, I needed a major reality check. I had been allowing myself to be bombarded by thoughts of failure, condemnation, and the feeling like I wasn’t good enough. I was feeling like everyone coming over would see all the things that I didn’t get done, and even if they didn’t say anything to me, would be condemning me in their thoughts.

Now, I had no reason to believe these thoughts. I had no previous evidence that my small group would do that. As a matter of fact, I knew our small group was just focusing on us all being together for the first time in over a month. I knew the important thing was each other, not the condition of the place in which we met.

I was being bombarded by lies, and I couldn’t stop them.

I was so exhausted, and so wound tight from the last two days, I couldn’t stop the thoughts that were causing all the feelings flooding me.

About 45 minutes before our small group (our family) were to arrive, I told my husband Dave that I just needed to shower and have a little bit of time alone. I got into the shower, and sat in the bottom of the tub, and prayed, and then cried… a little bit. I didn’t have much time to spare. Just that little time of prayer helped. I was able to ask God to forgive me for trying to do it all on my own for the past few days, and to help me give the rest of the night to Him.

After that it still took me a while to relax. I wasn’t able to fully relax until we were sitting around the living room sharing and praying. After everyone left, I felt the anxiety kick in, as an after effect of the stress and tension I had been under all day.

It literally took me all day Friday to relax and recover from the stress of the week. Seriously, this is ridiculous. I can’t believe that I stressed myself out so badly about having close friends over, that it took me a full day to recover, just from getting the house ready!

I am such a perfectionist that I can’t let one little thing go, and if the table isn’t perfectly set, or there is a dirty window, or dust visible on something, it drives me nuts, but only when there is company coming over! And I can never get it all done, so even if no one says anything, I find myself feeling embarrassed and apologetic. I wish you could see inside my head when someone just “pops over” for a little bit. I am nearly paralyzed at times by the shame at the condition of the house, kids, myself, etc. I try to put on hold a lot of things but basic cleaning and laundry when the kids are up and around because I want to spend my time with them, at least as much as I am able.

That sounds great… right now. It’s a good excuse… right now. But when people come over, I feel like I am going crazy.

And what drives me even more crazy is that I love to host people. I love having people over to my house and making them feel comfortable and welcome. I just have such internal stress about how things look, and if I remembered everything, that it is hard for me to enjoy.

I think Tricia is right. We are going to have to work on this perfectionist streak in me….
And I am going to have to somehow remember, “Good is good enough,” and let God take care of the rest.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Counseling and prayer ministry...

This week’s counseling was very good. For once we didn’t tackle anything hard, anything strenuous, just caught up on the week, and identified a few things to think about and be aware of.

When I walked in, the first thing Tricia asked me was how my week went. I looked at her, smiled and said, “Tricia, I think I have turned a corner. I mean, last week’s session has had such an impact, I really think it is going to be a lasting change. I feel different, better than I have in a long time.” She paused a moment, and then a huge grin spread across her face as she gave me a high five and said “Praise God!!”

We had a wonderful time sharing, and I was able to tell her in more detail what had happened in our session the previous week. You have to remember, I was very much in shock when I left her office last week, so much so, I was trying to put my shoes on the wrong feet, and my jacket on upside down! So to sit and be able to tell her how God spoke to me, and pulled ideas and devotionals and scripture readings together this week was really wonderful.

I read to her most of my post about the session last week, and shared with her the poem that Cindy wrote for me. There were a couple of times that I thought she was going to cry. And other times I could tell she was thrilled with the new thought patterns that were starting to develop.

We got done talking about that, and I brought up a couple of things that I had noticed. One of them being how quickly my mind flips a switch when I feel like people are pulling away from me. I just start putting up walls between me and those people, to protect my heart. I back away, don’t share as much, feel uncomfortable around them (internally, though I try to hide it outwardly), and over all try to make myself appear relaxed and out going, when inside I am guarding every word and deed so as not to get hurt.

One of the things that hit me when I was on my way down to her office was that Jesus has my heart in His hands. I don’t have to throw up walls to protect my heart anymore. The walls kept people and hurt out, but kept me in as well. I realized that Jesus has my heart in His hands, and He will protect it. He sets a hedge of protection around my heart. And what is a hedge in real life? Something living and growing and breathable that lets air in and out. I can get out, and others can get in. Yes, some “fiery darts” will get in and through but I know that Jesus will allow through only what will strengthen me, even if it hurts at the time. And He will heal me from that hurt.

After sharing that with Tricia, I felt God prompting me to share something else with her. So, I shared the following, and I wasn’t quite sure how to start, but felt I just had to speak from my heart. The last couple of weeks, she has been pretty transparent with me about some things going on with her. She hasn’t been able to give me details, obviously, but I know that she has been dealing with some things in her life.

Well, specifically this last week, God really placed Tricia on my heart to pray from her. Every day this week I have spent some time in prayer for her, daily, but also as God prompted me. Monday night I stayed up late to quiet and organize my thoughts before the counseling session the next day. During the time I was up, there was a point where I just couldn’t avoid it, and had to start praying for Tricia. My prayers ranged all over, from God helping her rest, to His gifting of discernment, strength, wisdom for her counseling the next day, spiritual protection for her and her family. I just prayed as the Spirit prompted me, prayed through scripture for her… For me it was a wonderful time of concentrated prayer, and I knew that it would benefit her as well.

So I told her this, and then she thanked me, and without my breaking any confidences here, told me that there were some things happening that night, and the past week that were very difficult. She said there has been a bunch of stuff going on that I could never imagine, and probably wouldn’t believe if she told me. She told me she has some people praying for her regularly, one a former client. She asked me if she could count on me to be a regular prayer warrior for her. I was able to commit to that, to say absolutely, YES. She may be an instrument of healing for me in God’s hands, but she is also human and has needs as well. The best way I can minister to her, as a sister in Christ, is by prayer. It echoes something I talked about with Pete and Donna last week. Pete said that I had a ministry to her, just as much as she was ministering to me. I had a ministry as a sister in Christ, to encourage and to pray. It felt like a confirmation of what I thought I had been feeling from God but was second guessing.

The bonus with praying for her is, she never has to tell me anything. She just knows that I will be praying for her. I don’t have to contact her and ask her how she is doing. I just have to pray. It won’t over step counselor/client boundaries. I just have to pray. And I am willing to make that commitment. A commitment like that, in the past, I had been unwilling to make. I just have to pray.

So, now I am going to go pray. For Tricia, for my friends and family, my husband and children… and the people we encounter each day.

God bless all of you who read this and thank you for your prayers for me. It doesn’t matter if I know your are praying or not, I am grateful.

A Psalm and a promise...

I don’t think that I explained the significance of Psalm 30 in my counseling last week. It was the whole reason I started my “Freedom” post with it.

Last Wednesday I was sitting in the waiting room of my counselor’s office. I was reading a book and trying to relax. I usually end up there about 20+ minutes ahead of time, so that I have a chance to unplug in a quiet atmosphere and pray before going in. Tricia walked out of her office, with another client, and when she was done with them, she asked for another few minutes before I came in. So, I kept reading. The author of my book referenced Psalm 30:2, and so I looked it up, and wrote it onto a note card, actually using both verse 2 and 3.

“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.” Ps. 30:2-3

I just had enough time to write it down, and then Tricia called me back to her office. It wasn’t until the next day, probably after I had written the post, that I realized just what that Psalm said. God literally gave me a promise for the session, and I didn’t realize it until later. I am claiming that as a promise to me. I am not fully healed yet, though I just made a huge step forward, so I claim those verses as a promise to me that He will continue the work in my life, and at the end of it I can raise my voice in praise. At the end of my life, when I am truly healed and transformed into His likeness, I can say that my Savior did save me. He brought my soul up from the grave, and He has kept me alive.

I pray that my life will be a reflection of my Jesus. That when people look at me, they don’t see me, they see Jesus. I pray that my eyes will be so fixed on Him that I will be radiant and my face will not be ashamed. (Ps. 34:5, paraphrase mine) May my life bring honor and glory to my Lord and God.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Off to counseling we go...

As my title says, I am heading for counseling this evening. God has been doing some amazing things, and I am so grateful. He has really helped me work through some things this week. Revealed more things to me, showed me how He is working.

However, yesterday, I felt like the enemy was really trying to hold me back. I was having trouble remembering things, getting frustrated easily, all sorts of stuff. I had a long talk with Cindy in the afternoon, and when we were done, I felt like God really used her to show me 2-3 things that I need to start working on, and to focus on with Tricia. (More about those in another post) After Cindy prayed with me and I went home, though I was still anxious and my thoughts felt scattered, I was able to minister to my husband by giving him a break from the kids, and by getting supper ready. In all, though I was really tired and on edge from the day, it was a good evening.

Suffice it to say, I made some choices last night, and got to have the house quiet after the kids were in bed and my husband was asleep. I was awake from 11pm to 2:30am. Yes, very late, however I got a lot of praying and thinking and journaling done. I think it was productive and by the time I was done, I finally felt relaxed enough to go to bed, and actually sleep. I slept the better last night than I have in the last 3-4 days, and I only got about 5 1/2 hours of sleep. But I feel like God honored it because I spent so much time praying for people He was laying on my heart to pray for.

It was a good thing, a good night, and a good time of pure fellowship with my Jesus.

I am going to go rest now, while my kids are still asleep, and regroup for counseling tonight. If you think of it, please pray that God’s will is done, that we will be able to rejoice together in the things that God has been doing, and that Tricia will be able to help me work through some issues, or at least get me started on that road.

I promise, I will write soon, once I have processed about what we get through tonight in counseling!