Friday, December 31, 2010

faith AND hope - theme for a new year...

I think God has made it clear to me that I have a theme for this coming year.

Wednesday I talked in my post about hope, and how God seemed to impress it upon my heart.

All day yesterday and today, God rather "hit me over the head" to make sure this thick brain would get it, that I needed to focus on faith and hope (It might end up being faith, hope and love.... but right now, faith and hope are the ones that I really feel like God speaking to me about)

I love Hebrews 11:1
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

But I really like how the New Living Translation says it.
"Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see."

I was reading between different blogs, and all of them were pointing towards faith and hope.

I think that this verse from Hebrews is going to be my anchor verse for 2011.  I am going to have it in the front of my scripture memory spiral, and make sure I keep on hanging on to it throughout the year.

Do you find God leading you to a theme for this new year, or any specific bible verses?  If so, I would love to hear yours.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Yesterday was an extremely hard day.  I didn't know how hard it was going to be as I was driving in to work.

I wish I could have taken a picture of all the trees, bushes, and even weeds and grass that stuck out from under the snow.  They were covered with frost.  Every last one of them, all over them... just white and perfect as could be.

I marveled at it all the way to work, and just from that felt God speaking the word "hope" to me.  I didn't know why, but there it was. 

I had been working on a "no send" letter to this man in my past who abused me and caused me a lot of pain.  Tricia had asked me if I would write it last week at our appointment, and I almost said no to her.  I told her I didn't think I could... but by the end of the appointment, I finally agreed that I would try.

Tricia said that one of the things I should try to do is identify the anger.  Because there is anger there, but I just don't know where it is or how to get at it.  That's why she wanted me to write - because it was a healthy and safe outlet for my anger.

So I had been working on the letter on Monday, on and off as I did other work around the office.  I got to a point where it was past my normal work hours and I just sat in one of the offices, in a recliner that was in there and continued to write.  I had to stop by 6pm because I had to go and pick up my kids.

Once they were in bed that night, I sat in my bed with my computer and continued to write the letter.  It was so hard.  I found myself remembering things that I hadn't before, images were coming into my head that I was so disgusted at.  I have been feeling so dirty and ashamed.

Yesterday, I had some time at work again, because I was the only one in the office and I was waiting for some newsletter articles to be emailed to me.  I worked on the letter on and off, needing to take breaks and work on other things in the meantime, to walk away from the stress the letter was putting on me.

At about 2:30, one of my friends called me before an appointment to see how I was doing.  As I shared what I was going through as I was trying to write it, it was all I could do to keep from having a panic attack.  She could tell there was a lot of panic there, and talked with me a bit until I calmed down some.  She then asked me if the words kept flowing as I was writing.  I told her they were.  But I just wanted to stop.  It was too hard, and too ugly, and to disgusting to me.  I was nearly sick to my stomach and hadn't been able to eat anything cause it made me nauseous every time I thought about food.

She said that I knew myself better than she did, so to take what she suggested with that in mind, but she strongly suggested that I keep on writing and get it all out, purged out of my system.  She said that she would pray for me before she went in to her appointment and then that she would stop by when she was done.

In the meantime, after collapsing on the couch in the office I was working in, in tears and exhaustion, I sat back down at my computer and reluctantly started to type again.

The next time I looked up was through tears as I saw my friend walking into the building out of the corner of my eye.  When she came through the door of the office, I saved my file and closed the computer and nearly dropped it on the floor next to me.

She asked how far I had gotten and I said that I was at page 8 or 9, I don't remember now.  Then she asked how I was doing. 

I just shuddered at first.
Then I was able to start expressing how I was feeling.

I feel dirty.  Used.  Worthless.  Afraid to look anyone in the eye for fear that they will be able to read me like an open book, that they will be able to see the dirtiness that is so apparent to me.  I feel like I am covered in such filth, inside and out, and there is no getting clean.

Those feelings are still there, which is why I put them in the present tense.  Now they aren't as strong, and the feelings are more controllable.  At least today so far.

We talked some more, and she encouraged me, out of her own experiences, the way I have in the past for her.  She cried with me, knowing first hand the pain I was going through.  She encouraged me to try to find something, anything to eat.  Anything that sounded good.  To take care of myself and be gentle with myself.

Prefacing what she had to say again with the idea that I know myself better than she does, she encouraged me to stay here at the church where it was quiet and I was alone, where I felt safe, and keep on writing, as much as I could.

She prayed with me, for me, then got up and gave me a big hug.  We stood in the office facing each other and I couldn't look her in the eyes.  I tried to pull myself together a little bit, and she said to me that I was going to get through this, and that God had made me a strong woman.  I started to cry again and said that I didn't feel like it, and she said she knew, that's why she said it.

As she left she told me that she would keep on praying for me... and to call her later if I needed to.

I sat back down, cried and continued to write until some people started coming in to do some work in the building, and then I packed up and went home to get the kids and finish out my night with them.  Once they were in bed, I managed to eat a couple of eggs and some toast.  It sat very heavy, but at least it was something.

Then, reluctantly I sat back down on my bed, with my laptop and opened up the letter once again.

When I finally finished writing, I was only 400 short of 10,000 words... and came in at about 15 pages.  The exhaustion I felt was total.  I ached, my eyes burned from staring at the computer screen so long and from crying.  My head hurt and my stomach rolled... and I had run out of words finally... and many emotions had poured themselves out through those words.

I saved the letter to my hard drive, and closed up the computer.  Without moving from my bed, though it was almost 11pm, I called my friend.  She got on the phone, knowing it was me, and I just said... "I finished it."

She was so glad for me, though I couldn't be.  I still am not... though there is a bit of relief that I haven't had to open up that document today at all.

We talked a bit, I cried some more, and she just let there be long silences in the conversation as I needed it.  I was shaking and cold and sweating all at the same time.

Before we got off the phone she reminded me to treat myself gently the rest of this week, because I needed to take care of myself.  She said whether that was a bubble bath, sleeping in late, eating whatever sounded good to me, trying to get to bed early, making sure I took my meds so I didn't flip out more because of that.... whatever it took.

She also predicted that if I put on some quiet worship music, that I would probably be asleep in 15 minutes or so, because of how drained, how tapped out I was.

She was sure right about that!

I slept, and don't remember too much about my dreams, though I know I had some, and I was very restless.

Today I got into work and sat in the sanctuary.  I just sat there and cried and talked to God and cried some more.  I tried to just rest in His arms, in His love.

I finally managed to pull myself together because the secretary was coming into the building and started my day.  I worked piece by piece on the things that God laid before me for the day.  They were simple things, and things I could control, unlike my emotions or my stomach.

At some point in the day, my friend dropped off her son at church to work on a youth project, and she stopped to see me in the office before she left.  We talked for a while, and she told me that she could tell I was doing better.  I think she is right.  I feel more stable now than I was yesterday.  I had attainable goals today (including finishing and printing the newsletter - that just finished printing behind me as I type) and I was able to keep focused on those for the most part.

My emotions are still all over, and I need to spend some time with God, another way to be gentle with myself, and nurture myself a little bit.  Because right now, being close to God is scary to me, because though I know He sees everything that's going on, when I get closer, well... He sees everything that's going on.

(I know... I know)

Before I go though, I have to share what happened just before I started writing again yesterday afternoon.  I looked across the room, out the window and realized that sitting on the window ledge was a little plaque... it was just the carved out letters.... "hope"

I grabbed my cell phone and took a picture of it and got it as the background on my phone.  That way, every time I look at my phone, there it is... to remind me that there is always hope... even when I don't see it.

I would upload it here for you, but for the life of me, I don't know how to do that yet from my phone (it's new) so maybe I can add it later.

There is still hope.
Even though I remembered a bit more this morning that I have to write.

There is still hope.
Even though I am going to have to read this letter to Tricia on Monday at my appointment with her.

There is still hope.
God has healed me before, from some horrible things.  He can heal this too.

Please keep on praying for me as I continue to process this stuff.  The kids are still off of school, and I will be needing to care for them and be functional for them the next 4 days.  Pray that I won't go crazy, though I feel like I already am.

I am now off to take some time to remind myself that there is still hope - and then go and lead worship practice tonight yet before I go home.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Darkness has brightened....

Yesterday found me struggling.  Missing my parents and our Christmas Eve traditions.  I was experiencing a deep exhaustion, depression, and a pressure of deeper darkness than I have had for a while.

I struggled to hang in there and just breathe.  I curled up under the blankets after having cleaned a friends driveway, trying to warm up and trying to regain my composure.  Trying to prepare for celebrating with Dave's family.

I called a friend and we talked on the phone for a little bit and she shared with me and asked some questions, and then told me she was going to lift me up in prayer.

I grabbed my heating pad, bible and journal and curled back up under the covers, still trying to get warm.  I spent some time in prayer and slowly relaxed as I warmed up.  I spent some time in tears as I tried to pray.  Finally I was able to settle my heart, and read through a Psalm.  Then I set my alarm and succumbed to what I really had wanted to do in the first place.

I curled up, under the covers, pulled them over my head and was finally able to sleep for just a little bit.

I got ready, Dave picked me up and we headed to the farm to spend time with his family.  I was able to relax and converse and just have a good time catching up with his relatives.

I wasn't able to spend any time in the Word last night, but this morning I woke up and didn't have to rush too much, as the kids were at the farm and had their stockings to keep them occupied for a little bit.

Before I even stepped foot out of bed, I had the chance to pray, read through parts of Luke 1 and 2, journal, just rest in His presence.

God rested me, held me, comforted my heart.
He renewed me.

I am still tired, and struggling some with my mood, and the sense of depression, but the deep exhaustion has lifted some, the darkness has brightened, just like a candle flame brightens a dark room.....

.... and I am reminded.

You, O Lord keep my lamp burning, my God turns my darkness to light.  (Psalm 18:28)

God is good my friends.  Sing praises to Him today.  He is the lifter of my head.  May you experience His love, joy and peace this day and every day.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Traditions Interrupted

Well my dad is home.  The doctor really didn't know what caused the pain or inflammation.  They had him on antibiotics and his high blood count seemed to come down some, so they sent him home.  So he is home and supposed to follow up with his doctor... He was very tired tonight so I didn't talk directly to him, he was in bed when I called.  Keep on praying for him, that they would be able to figure out what it was, so that he can avoid it again.  Thank you!!!


Our family traditions with my side of the family got interrupted this year.

Last night I got a call from my brother that my dad had been having abdominal pain all day, cramping, etc.  He was thinking it was something that he ate.  By the end of the day he had called my mom to come home and take him to the hospital.

When my mom arrived home, he was in such a bad way that she called 911.

Once they heard a little more, my brother called me back and said that all his blood work was good and the EKG was fine too, and that there was nothing wrong with his heart.  They had to wait for a while for a CT scan.  Once the results of that came back, my brother called me back again.

The CT scan seemed to show inflammation in his lower small intestine.  The word they were throwing around was diverticulitis.  My hubby, the nurse, said that didn't seem to make sense as diverticulitis usually is in the large intestine.  They admitted him to the hospital overnight last night.

Right now, that's still where things stand.  We don't know anymore this morning than we did last night.  My mom finally got home from the hospital to get some food and sleep at midnight last night.

We were all supposed to head for Madison today to connect with my family there and celebrate Christmas.  However my mom and dad and brother will not be traveling.  I hope to hear more soon about my dad, but for now we are staying home.

Also, my daughter woke me up this morning and ended up getting sick to her stomach.  So, even if my dad weren't in the hospital, we probably wouldn't be traveling.  I don't know when we will gather with my family, but at least we will be home with my hubby who had to work today and tomorrow.  We can spend tonight and tomorrow morning with him.

Please do pray for my dad, that the doctors would figure out what is going on, so that they can treat him properly and he can get home soon.

Thanks so much, God bless and have a wonderful Christmas.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Telling the truth

My appointment last week was successful in that by the end of it, I was in enough a better state from when I went in.  Tricia talked with me for the hour, just walking me through the memories, thoughts and lies I was struggling with.

At the end, she looked a little bit relieved and said that I seemed to be doing better than when I came in.  She asked if that was wishful thinking, and I said no, I did feel better.

I went back to work this week, after a VERY snowy and cold weekend, and got through the first two days relatively well.  It feels like the memories have faded some to the background.  Not maybe that they have faded, but that I have been allowed to ignore them and live above them for the time being.

However, yesterday, I started having my anxiety ramp up.  It started with trying to help our pastor with a computer problem, then solving other problems, and by the end of the day, I was so frustrated.  As I was coming home, my anxiety was going higher.  I had to take the kids to their Wednesday night church activities, and by the time they were dropped off, I had to get out of the town, over the bridge to the nearest McDonald's.  Sounds weird, but I just needed a spot to park and breathe, and as I needed to eat, that was the first place I thought of.

I grabbed my phone and tried calling Cindy D. first, but we were able to talk for only a few minutes, long enough for me to tell her about the anxiety attacking me right then.  Then I tried calling my best friend, Cindy, but she was so sick, she wasn't even able to answer her phone.

I realized that God just wanted me. 

So I grabbed my bag and went inside McDonald's, got some food, and then settled down to eat, read and journal.  I had gotten a book from a friend, so I read through some of that and made notes about what hit me and what I felt like God was saying to me.

I am much more stable than I was last week.  Partially because, well, because I am being a better girl than I was last week.

You see, I had my appointment with Tricia last Monday, but the week before that I started fighting with myself about taking my anti-depressant.  I don't really know why, but I didn't want to take it.  I thought I was doing better, and as I had a counseling appointment coming up, I wanted to be able to "feel" the emotions (not that I can't now... but I think they can be much more intense - and painful as I learned) as I was going through the appointment.

So, I started slacking off on taking it.  Like skipping two days, taking it one, skipping 3 days and then having my Monday appointment.  Then I don't really remember when I took the next one, maybe Tuesday night after I got home from my friends house... after my day full of panic attacks. 

When I talked with Tricia on Thursday at my added in appointment, she said that she had brought up my case in her collaberation that morning because she was concerned that I was going backwards rather than forwards.  She said that two different people had asked if she knew if I was taking all my medications.  She told me she would have never thought to ask that, so asked me if I had been taking them all.  I said that I had missed a "couple" of the anti-depressant.  When she asked why, I froze, and then blurted that I had lapsed between refills.  When she asked again how many I had missed, I told her 2-3.

I out and out lied to her.

Why would I lie to someone that I profess to trust, who has walked with me through so much?  I have never lied to her that blatantly before!  I don't get it.

Once I started taking my meds again and started to think more clearly, I started asking myself this, but shying away from God just yet.

Yesterday, it really came to a head as I talked with a friend again on the phone.  No one knew about my not taking my medication, except for one friend and his wife whom I told through an email.  At one point, she asked me why I was having a hard time doing something else Tricia had asked me to do, and if I was going to tell her.  When I said I wasn't sure, she asked me why, because she knew that I was pretty brutally honest with her.

Then I just spit it out and told her that it was because I hadn't been honest about some other things.  There was some silence on the other end of the phone as she thought a minute and then she said that she wasn't going to ask if I didn't want to tell her.  So, I blurted it out about how much of the meds I had missed, and that I had purposely done it.

It was hard to say, but good I think, because I needed to say it to someone real, someone who knows me in real life, who can get right up to me, in my face, and find out if I am taking them or not... or at least, she won't mother me, but is someone I can go to if I am struggling with it.

Now though, she made me realize that I have to tell Tricia.
and I don't want to.
I don't want to disappoint her.

She asked me if I was punishing myself.  We had talked the previous day about the little things, like not eating well, or staying up too late, or not taking care of my hand well enough - and as random comments popped out of my mouth, it became apparent that I really didn't think highly enough of myself to take care of myself the way I should.  It's way better than it used to be, but still, not where it should be.... still lies there to be uncovered and dealt with.

So she asked me if I was punishing myself.  If I thought that I didn't deserve love (or I would insert here peace, joy or freedom) enough so I was delaying the healing process by not taking my medication correctly.

Honestly, I don't know.  I guess maybe I have been in a way.  I think I knew that my body/emotions were going to react that way because of not taking the meds.  And I didn't care.  It isn't too hard for me to do something that will inflict emotional pain on myself.  Leave some issue unresolved, and then stop taking medications, and self sabotage.

At one point yesterday I said to myself, and to God that I really didn't want to live with that 19-20 year old that did those things, and that was subjected to those things back in college.  I blurted out (I was alone in the sanctuary) that she really should just die. 

I heard those words echo through the sanctuary, and I looked to the front, at the cross. 
Then said, "She really doesn't deserve to die, because neither does anyone else I have talked to, that I know who have been abused or made bad decisions."

Then I left a question hanging in the air and walked out of the sanctuary.

"Now that we are all forgiven and covered by Your blood, do we still deserve to die, anyway?"

The obvious answer is that by God's mercy and grace, He wants to heal us from those things in our past that have hurt us so.  I know that.  But there is part of me that just wants to crush that girl who was, and grind her out of existence so I don't have to think about her anymore.

What God really wants me to do is to embrace her... go back to her as the adult I am now and embrace her and give her the love that she wasn't getting from another human being, and through that, point her to God.  Point her to the truth.  In so doing, I will open the door (with God's help) to Him coming in and healing her, healing me and there will be no more "her" and "me" but there will be "I."  I will be more whole, more integrated, more healed, and more able to deal with other pains, or resolve other conflicts and grow up some more.

One of the most effective ways for me to go back and embrace that little girl that needs love so much is through the process of EMDR, as Tricia guides me through it.  God has healed me so much, and so quickly many times, and so effectively, using that process. 

But from experience, I have learned that it doesn't work very well when there are barriers between you and your therapist.  Whether she knows of it or not.  I have had times where we have gotten blocked and when God finally led me to tell her something, as we started the EMDR God met me in a powerful way.

If I want to have Tricia help me and guide me through the process of EMDR dealing with these past memories that have become so current and fresh, I need to be honest with her.  Which means, I have to tell her about the medication and how I purposely stopped taking it.  I need to be able to let go and let down all the barriers.  If something is keeping me from telling her the full truth, then it means I don't trust her fully for one reason or another.

At least, I think so.  I don't know.  Maybe it isn't that I don't trust her fully.  Maybe it's that I am afraid that she is going to be disappointed with me.  I look up to her.  I don't want to disappoint her, or cause disapproval.  I think I'm afraid that she is going to just dismiss last week as all about the lack of medication.  I know the lack of medication intensified everything, every emotion, but there was more behind it than that.  I couldn't think very clearly or claim the truth for myself, but I was experiencing (probably too closely) the things that had happened in my past and I wasn't able to shut it down, I didn't have control.  The inability to control what was going on emotionally, or to think clearly was from the medication.

Maybe the desire I have to not take the anti-depressant is because I am scared of what this time from January to March will look like if I were more healed and whole and on my meds and more stable.  I mean, that's whole new territory for me.  And it's scary.  This is my familiar.  This is what I know.  The ups and downs, the anxiety and depression, the fear and darkness.  To have a possibility of walking in the light again is scary.

But as I read in Psalm 139 today, even if I want the darkness to cover me and the light to become night around me, even the darkness is like light to God, and it shines like the noonday.  No matter what I do, God sees, He knows the motives of my heart, He understands, and He still loves.  Even this fearful, trembling girl who's afraid to walk forward and this fearful, angry adult who wants to crush out the past.

He still loves.

Oh God, help me cling to Your truth!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Decision made

Well, I made my decision.

After how hard yesterday was, I went to bed.  I was freezing cold by the time I got there and it took a long time for me to warm up, but I finally did and fell asleep.



I woke up out of a dead sleep, drenched with sweat and with my heart racing.  I don't remember what the dream was that woke me up, I know there was something there as I fought to wake up, but am grateful not to remember it.

I had to get up and completely change clothes and sit for a bit to calm down.

I had at least 2 more panic attacks at work today, and finally after talking with a good friend on the phone, and then my friend from last night in person, they both urged me to do the same thing.  They suggested I make a call to my counselor's office and leave a message for her to call me back when she could. 

Within the hour, she called back and I told her about yesterday, the memories and their vividness and pain, and the panic attacks, and the dream last night.  When she had heard it all and found that I wasn't scheduled to see her until nearly 2 weeks from now, she started looking for another appointment for me.  There were two next week, but as we talked she had a cancellation for 3pm tomorrow.

So I am off to see Tricia tomorrow afternoon. 

I am frustrated because I feel like I am disappointing people.  I am also afraid I am blowing things out of proportion and am making a mountain out of a mole hill.  I am afraid it's all nothing, and afraid that it is something.  Hmm.  Seems like fear is ruling here... and in reality, perfect love drives out fear.... Boy God, do I need to cling to Your love right now!!!!

Please pray for me tomorrow, that my anxiety and fear won't kick in so bad that I am paralyzed as I try to talk to Tricia.  Pray also for my son.  He wasn't feeling good tonight, and if he stays home sick from school tomorrow, it is going to complicate things to say the least!  I am just praying for health for Peter and that this night's sleep will work a miracle for him, because he was running a fever when he went to bed.

Pray for peace for me, and just the ability to trust God through yet another thing I have to work through. 

So, yesterday I didn't know what to do about calling Tricia and trying to get another appointment, and today, because of how I was reacting to things and what my condition was, the decision was almost made for me. 

I guess it becomes one less thing to worry about and stress about cause it is now out of my hands.  Praying for a more restful night than last night, and for a day with a bit of peace somewhere in the middle of it, time with God before I have to go to my appointment.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The unexpected

God unexpectedly blessed me with an incredible friend tonight.  A friend who was willing to pour out, even out of her own brokenness and pain.

She saw where I was at by the end of my day, and even in her own pain, responded out of care and concern.  Come to find out we couldn't be more on the same page and in the same place if we tried.  And God put us there at the same time to walk together.

I had a break down today at church when she got there to see how I was doing.  I had a panic attack as I tried to talk to her there.  We spent time in the sanctuary, for privacy so we could talk, and she could help me calm down. 

All through the day, as memories have come to the forefront, I have been freezing cold.  So she invited me over to her house to hang with her and her son, and I got to snuggle up with various cats (she has 7, five of which I actually saw) and huddle close to her pellet burner till I warmed up.  She used the idea of the pellet burner to lure me over, because she knows I am a sucker for a fire! 

It worked.  The fire warmed me up as did the company that I was given.

Tears were shed, silent prayers prayed, and she gave me the benefit of a listening ear when I needed it, light-hearted conversation as it seemed appropriate, and the space to just have quiet and peace. 

This was only the second time I can ever remember going over to someone's house for the first time and not feeling uncomfortable, but rather, feeling safe and that it was where God wanted me.

I am still broken and hurting inside.  I let go today and accepted God's forgiveness and forgave myself.  And then God allowed a memory (one I rememebered but it was always on the "outskirts" of my mind) to come into full focus and full living color.  It was really hard, really painful and nearly shattered me today.

I don't know what to do yet.  What decisions I need to make, if any, about going to see Tricia sooner, or if I can hang on for 2 weeks until my next appointment. 

But tonight, God has given me a measure of peace.  More than I anticipated having.  My friend talked to me as I had at least one more panic attack at her house, not counting the one at church.  Now it's time for bed, and I am praying for sleep.  A nice peaceful, dreamless sleep.

I am just overwhelmed by God's goodness to me through this friend.... even as I am overwhelmed by the pain and fear and fallout of these memories.

This time this evening of relaxing, talking, laughing, listening, crying and praying was a needed break at the end of a long painful day.  It was healing.  It was given to me by God, through a friend who was willing to listen to His promptings..... and for once I didn't hinder what He was doing, but accepted her invitation of company for a while.  If I hadn't, I probably would have come home alone, and kicked myself all night for not going over.

Thank you Jesus for how you unexpectedly bless me so much.  You are so good.  You are so loving.  Please help me cling to that truth, and to how You revealed it to me through this precious time with You and my friend tonight.

Monday, December 6, 2010


I'm still feeling numb.

It seems to happen from time to time after counseling.  Last time, I was so exhausted I collapsed in the nearby bathroom sobbing.  This time, I bypassed the bathroom and went down to my car right away.  I sat there for a bit, then moved my car to a more remote part of the parking lot, and sat in a daze for a bit, and actually fell asleep for about a half hour.

When I woke, I started the car and drove to the farm to get the kids.  I pulled into the yard, and as no one was out there, turned off the car and sat in the dark, the quiet enveloping me.  I'm not sure how long I sat there till the tears started rolling down my cheeks.

Tricia had prayed at the end of the session that though she had talked a lot, that I would remember what I would need to and forget the things I didn't or that weren't God's words for me to remember. 

She asked me to work on letting go of the curtains (an image in my head) that I hanging on to, to cover myself and hide myself in.  She wants me to work on, and get myself to the point that I will forgive myself for the things that I did in this relationship.  To accept God's forgiveness and to claim the truth of His word as my own, and to call the truth, the truth and a lie, a lie.  Whether my feelings follow right away or not, I need to believe the truth, to choose it and hang onto it, no matter what.

I know that is what I need to do and she is right.

But as I sat in the car at the farm, crying, all I could think of was how tired I was.  So exhausted.  So sick of fighting.  It's so hard, and all I want is to stop.  I don't want to think about anything, this relationship, this struggle for truth, taking captive my thoughts.  It's so overwhelming.  It's too much at once, and I don't know how to handle it.

I have stuffed it pretty well this past week.  Yes, emotions have popped out from time to time, but for the most part, I haven't felt either really good, or excited about anything, or really too depressed either.  I felt very "flatline" for lack of anything better.  I know I don't have to be super up or down, or have major swings to be "ok" or anything like that, nor do I want that, but it would be nice to be able to enjoy things, or grieve things if I need to.

I have to grieve the loss that I put on myself by the choices I made.  I was able to grieve the losses of other things, where I was a victim.  I was able to work through the anger there, and finally forgive the offenders.  I have been able to go through so much and find God's strength through it all.

Now, I don't have any strength of my own, and I don't feel like I have God's either.  Where is the stubbornness and determination I have had in the past?  Where is the gumption and backbone I had in the face of what I knew were enemy attacks?  I know the enemy wants to keep me bound, stuck and stalled out here.  So why am I so reluctant to fight back with the truth?

I'm not sure that I have the answer to those questions.  I'm not sure we answered those in counseling, though we might have today, I just feel so befuddled that I really don't know right now.

As we talked, Tricia reminded me one of the phrases I had used to describe myself in light of this situation was that I was filthy.

Later on, I got this image of a glass bottle - almost a jug.  Dark green, at least what you could see through the filthiness on the outside of it.  Inside were packed all my emotions.  Hate, rage and anger at this guy, at myself, I think even at God.  Grief, loss, failure, pain, shame, disgust, guilt.  It had a rubber cork in it, and I was leaning all my weight on it to keep it corked up.  I was afraid to open it, because I was afraid of all the emotions that would spill out.

At first, Tricia asked me to allow that bottle to be opened during the next two weeks, not to dump it out, but just let it open, so that the pressure wouldn't build.  But by the end, she suggested that I just work on the part of letting go of the curtain that I was hiding in, and work on the accepting God's forgiveness and love, and forgiving myself.  She "gave me permission" to leave that bottle alone until we see each other again.

I feel so numb and exhausted right now, I don't even know what to do.

I have taken my anti-anxiety meds, but still feel that pit of fear in my stomach, the one that gives me heartburn and leaves me all jumpy.  I really can't take any more of anything medication wise, and I can't really take much more emotionally either.

I don't want to work.  I don't want to think.  I don't want to do anything but curl up in bed and pull the covers over my head and stay there.  I don't want to pray, and it's been like pulling teeth to write here even.  How can I be in one place, where I am able to encourage a friend going through a rough time, and the next minute not want to do anything?  Even the things I know are good for me, that will help me and will cause me to walk closer with God?

It's just where I'm at right now, like it or not. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Darkness. Struggles. Truth. Lies.

One of my dear friends just got told some hard news from her doctor.  Last night, I was the first person she told.  Like she said, it was like a punch in the gut.  No conclusions, no answers yet, but suspicions and the mind goes immediately to the worst case scenario, even as you are praying for the best.

For me, there are no tears yet.  Those will come.  Right now, only questions.

Why her?
Why now?
After all she's been through the last couple of years or so?

Really God?

Another very good friend of mine is dealing with some very hard things.  Things in her life that are surfacing for the first time.  She is dealing with them fresh and new, and the backlash of emotions as a result.  Rage, depression, despair, reliving the experiences, the senses, smells, sounds, sights, nightmares, fear.

Her words came yesterday as we were on the phone briefly...

"it's either keep on going... or kill myself....
But, I'm too stubborn... too stubborn to give up now.
wait, I like the word determined better...

I'll keep on going.
But I feel like I am drowning."

I know she is safe.  I double checked that.  I know she is keeping on trying to hang onto God.

But the depth of where she is right now, the darkness that is overwhelming her, surrounding her, blinding her.  I recognize it.  I have been there, and my friend Cindy walked with me through it all.  She was there, even when she didn't have the words to say.  She prayed.  She listened.  She prayed some more.

So that is what I am doing.  I have been allowed into this friend's inner circle, one of the few people she is turning to when she needs to talk, and she is allowing me to call her, and check in and see how things are going.  I am privileged to be allowed to walk alongside her through this dark time.

Just like my Cindy was for me.  I don't have the words all the time, but I am more than willing to listen and pray and hang in there with her for the long haul.

I look at these two situations.  Vastly different, but just as painful and dark and hard.  I look at myself and what I am going through and it seems so insignificant.

It makes me think that in reality, I don't need to see Tricia anymore.  She has much bigger things to deal with than me.  I keep thinking that I am blowing out of proportion the things I am dealing with because they seem so unimportant in comparison.

This situation I am dealing with - the first guy that I ever gave myself away to, that started off a chain reaction of poor relationships - seems so small now.

Yes, I did deal with some of it in my past counseling with Tricia, at least a little bit.  However, the way things surfaced in my counseling with her, it seemed it all led to this relationship and the things that happened there.  So, that's where we went.

The self hate, the anger at the guy, at myself, disgust, worthlessness, feeling so dirty, like I was just a number in a long list..... as they surfaced, they surprised me with their intensity, and scared me too.  I felt kind of like I was floating out to sea without a sail, without oars, and nothing to steer with.

The emotions have surfaced from time to time, in short bursts this week.  For the most part though, they have been shut down.  Closed off.  Maybe this is God's way of protecting me and keeping me safe until I see Tricia again this coming Monday.  Maybe it's my way of protecting myself.  I'm not sure anymore.

In the meantime, I feel like I should just cancel and not see her anymore, because there are so many others who are hurting so much more, and I am just wasting time and money.

Lies most likely.

Because I am having hard time pinning down my emotions or thoughts about the relationship, I am having a hard time believing the truth.  What "sounds" like logic to me says that I am just making up reasons to keep on seeing Tricia.

I don't know what to think.

The way I collapsed on the floor of the bathroom, after my last session with Tricia, makes me think that I need to keep on going until I get some of this resolved at least.  The way I feel now tells me I was dumb to extend my Monday appointment with her from 60 minutes to 90 minutes.  Another part of me is scared to go into January and February without having the chance to touch bases with her every couple of weeks, because my emotions tanked so badly after Christmas last year.

Please pray for my two friends and the extreme difficulties they are going through right now.

Pray for me as well, that the truth would break through the lies, and that I would be willing to first submit to God and let go of my resistance against Him that I'm sensing.... and secondly that I would then stand and resist the enemy.

I want to trade the lies for truth, the fears for dependence on God, the worries for intentional praises of Him who is our Jehovah-Rapha.  The God who Heals.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

reminder of His love in pain

I know so many are writing about Thanksgiving right now.... so many posts on being thankful.  Who we are thankful for, what we are thankful for, and Who we are praising for those things.

Where I am right now... I'm really struggling.

I picked this memory verse, with nothing in mind of Thanksgiving.  It just kind of "fits" with that theme, but really another word brought me there....

"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.  Let the redeemed of the Lord say this - those He has redeemed from the hand of the foe."  Psalm 107:1-2

The word I was following there was the one translated here as love.  In other places and other versions it is translated as mercy, lovingkindness, unfailing love, steadfast love.

Right now I have a great need to be reminded of His love for me.

I am struggling with pain in my fingers (I am cheating now, I probably shouldn't be using these fingers at all right now).  This could be a long recovery... and it takes a long time "hen pecking" out emails and posts when you can only use one hand when you are used to using two.

I am also facing a really hard relationship.  It's the same one I mentioned a post or so ago, about the person that I did things with that I regret and am very ashamed of.  We had barely started to work through it when we ran out of time in our counseling session.

This week we had time.  I have been reeling some since Monday night.  It was hard work folks!  I was so raw when I left Tricia's office.  I was ok, holding together, as I walked out the door, but exhausted.  I walked down the hall to the nearby bathroom, locked myself in and collapsed to the floor.  I was so tired I couldn't stand any more, much less make it down the stairs to my car.  Pretty quickly I started sobbing.  I cried for nearly 20 minutes before I was able to pull myself together enough to clean up, leave and drive home.

My appointment was that hard.

I don't know for sure how to describe it, other than gut wrenching.  I was right back in that relationship again, and the pain of it at the end, and the things that I was doing to keep him.... and I felt stuck and caught and didn't know how to get out... wrapped up in this big curtain, without any way of fighting my way out.

Oh we took so much time working through it, bit by aching bit.
When I was done with the appointment, I physically ached.

I was able to get through the rest of my night with my family and fell into bed.

Yesterday was hard though, because my emotions were surfacing unexpectedly.  My pastor interrupted me in the sanctuary in the morning, as I was sitting in there crying.  Later after everyone was gone, I spent some time in our associate pastors old office, turned prayer room.  And cried there too.

I am still not sure exactly where I am at, but really doubting and struggling with the whole idea that I am worth anything, and that I could be clean and pure in light of all that took place in that relationship.  I am fighting with it for sure.  I know the truth.  It's a matter of getting that from my head to my heart.  It is very hard for me to grasp that God loves me unfailingly, unending, steadfastly without change, EVER.

I have another appointment already set with Tricia two weeks from my last appointment, so another week and a half yet before I see her again... but today I called and asked if there was a chance to make it a 90 minute appointment, and I was able to.  So, for now, I think that has to due.

It's that time when I just have to cling to God with all I've got, and to soak in His word.  As a friend wrote to me earlier this week, I have to take care of my heart.  And when I can't hang onto Him any more, I have to let myself relax and remember that He is holding me with His righteous right hand.

He's got me, even when I have nothing left to hold onto Him with - when I am that slide down the wall, collapse on the floor exhausted.... He still lifts me up and carries me till I am strong enough to start walking again and hanging onto Him.

As one of my friends said today about her own situation, "God hang onto my butt, cause I'm going down!"  Essentially she was saying the same thing I am.

He's got to hold onto me, because without Him holding me, I will be going down for the third time.  I may feel like I'm drowning.... But God.   The best two words in the Bible in my opinion....

But God.

I have to hang onto the hope that He is holding out before me.  And I will give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures FOREVER!!  Let the redeemed of the Lord say this - those He has redeemed from the hand of the foe...... and I am one of those... redeemed from the hand of the foe - redeemed of the Lord.  I will give thanks for His enduring LOVE!

Friday, November 19, 2010

abiding in peace

I talked in my last email about being at peace.

I am struggling with staying, abiding, in that peace right now.

You see, I am typing pretty much one handed right now.  I have tendinitis (so the walk-in doctor thinks) in my left hand, in two to three fingers.  Its the hand that I partially fell on when I fell and got my stitches in my chin 2 weeks ago.  I don't know if I damaged something in the fall (x-rays came back clear) or in using it since then, I have made things worse.

To immobilize my fingers, I actually have a huge splint with a wrap around it, my wrist and hand.  It looks like I broke me wrist or something.  It is really frustrating, because I really can't do anything... at all... with my left hand.  I can't even grab something between my thumb and forefinger!

Yet, in the midst of restrictions and limitations, I am reminded that things could be much worse.  It could be my right (dominant) hand, or something could have been broken.  I am grateful, and struggling to remember that I can still be in His peace, and rest there.

I have definitely been slowed down these past two weeks or more.

I mean, God has been really slowing me down, between accidents and illness, I have been unable to accomplish the things I've wanted to.  Even the simplest things like laundry or cutting back the dead flowers in my flower garden has been beyond me when I was sick, or on pain meds cause of my fall, or now that I am effectively one-handed.

Dave has helped immensely around here in picking up the slack as much as he has been able to around being sick himself, and working.

There has been so much that has been happening in my heart and mind since I last wrote.  I am going to have to devote some time later to writing out as best I can, or I might just hand write something out, take a picture of it and upload it as a big picture so you can read that!  I don't know.  I just know that there is so much on my heart right now.  I want to share it with you.

Maybe, too this has been God's way of getting me to listen to Him and be quiet before Him.  That way He has had the opportunity to cement some things in my mind and heart before I share with you.

I hope to write more soon!  Love and peace to you.

Friday, November 12, 2010

At peace

I'm more at peace now than I ever thought I could be today.  I'm still fighting some jaw pain, though it is much better than it was a couple of days ago.  I am also fighting off a cold.  I crashed cause I was having trouble sleeping earlier this week, and myl body didn't have enough rest to fight off whatever this "thing" is.

I had a counseling appointment yesterday.  I was able to share with Tricia how I finally have closure on a relationship.  How God moved in me through the past couple of weeks to get me to the point of letting go.  I also told her how He kept hitting me over the head with the need to obey Him and trust Him. 

Obedience and trust.  It's like the chicken and the egg question.  Which comes first?  Do you obey God, and do the things He asks you to, and then based on how He brings you through, that builds your trust?  Or is it rather that you trust God, from experiencing His faithfulness in the past, and therefore step out in obedience to what He says?

I have a feeling it's more a mixture of the two, rather than one or the other.

After stepping out in obedience to some things God specifically asked me to do, I know and feel deeper down that I can trust Him and that He has my best at heart.

The problem that I encountered with Tricia yesterday, which I sort of knew was there, but not as big as it was, was getting some of that truth from my mind to my emotions.  From my head knowledge, to a really deep know and believe heart knowledge.

The one relationship I was working through has been laid to rest I believe.  But there is some "residue" left over from that one, that tied directly into another former relationship.  A relationship in which I trusted the person, but was greatly hurt, and out of that hurt and desperation to "keep" the relationship, did some things I am not very proud of.  (and that's an understatement)

Over all it could be argued that I was a young Christian, and though I knew what I was doing, I didn't know any better.  That the other person involved was a Christian longer (not a more mature Christian - I won't give them that) and should have known better than to manipulate me, use me the way they did.

But I did know that those things I was doing were very wrong and they made me sick to my stomach, and still do if I think about them.

For a long time I have buried my guilt and shame and anger at myself.  I was at the point of burying the relationship enough, figuring to have put it to rest well enough with my last sessions with Tricia, that I would never have to revisit it again.

It is interesting how God used one thing (Henry's death) to bring me into counseling, and now that I am there, He has brought up things I have needed help with, or healing from.  It shows me another way He is intimately involved in my life and in my heart.  It shows me His desire to heal me and bring me to a new level in my relationship with Him and with others.

Well, as I talked with Tricia, yesterday, she brought out my care plan, and discussed my progress with me.  It showed that I have made forward progress, which is good, and which in reality I knew.  I have been in such a better place, even when I have been deeply depressed, that things have progressed much more quickly for me this time.  As Tricia said one time, this time has been just a "tune up" for me.

In the care plan, she rated my depression as having moved from moderate to mild (I agree there for the most part, though I am still going to have swings up and down).  She also rated my poor sense of self worth at a mild.  When she said that one, I just looked at her, and she glanced up from reading and questioned my look.  That's what brought up this relationship, and the things I had done.

After we talked a bit about the relationship, Tricia asked if I had a mental picture in my head.  I did.  She asked then if I wanted to do EMDR around the situation.  I said we could, but I wasn't sure even how to go about this, because I felt stupid for even still having trouble with this, with accepting Christ's forgiveness in this specific area, and for forgiving myself.

Tricia said that we could just walk through the negative cognitions (the lies) and positive cognitions that I want to replace them with (the truth) and talk through the process a bit, and if we had time, start the actual EMDR therapy.  We did all that, and did have time to start the therapy.

When we started, I could see in my mind's eye the mental picture, and she had me think about the negatives and see where it took us.  It was hard for me to settle into, because it's been so long.  I was having a hard time concentrating, especially at first.  It was like I couldn't "pin it down."  But I had such a strong sense of disgust that when she stopped the little machine, I said that I felt like I was going to be sick to my stomach.

She asked me if I wanted to go back there again.  I said, "no but yes, I will."  She turned back on the machine and again it was hard to concentrate, but near the end of that chunk of time, I was not only feeling like I was going to be sick, but emotionally I hurt, I was scared, and I was starting to be able to pin down the image in my head, rather than having it flit all over, and I was able to think about how it made me feel, and the lies it fed.  

I remember hearing Tricia say softly that I was still in her office, still safe, but to let the emotions come.  Oh, that was hard.  I couldn't, not all the way.  I might have cried a little bit, but more than anything I was feeling pure revulsion when she asked me to take a deep breath.  I could barely manage the breath.  She asked me to do it again and then turned off the machine.  I sat up and as I looked around her office, reorienting myself, I realized I was shaking - inside and out.

Tricia asked what I had experience there.  Part of it was that revulsion and loathing, but that it hurt and that I was coming up against this wall, this black wall and it scared me.  She said she wanted to keep on going, but she had another appointment following me and couldn't give me more time then.  She said too that she didn't want to leave me in an "unsafe" place or emotional state.  So, she asked me to think about the place where I feel safe.  My "safe place" right now is somewhere I run when I need to get out of my office, when I need a quiet place to spend with God, when I need comfort.  It's the sanctuary at church.  Right up near the front, by the piano usually.  Sometimes, right on the floor in front of the first row of chairs, looking up at the cross on the wall.

So, I went there, in my mind, starting to feel the peace again of that place, and it started to outweigh the other emotions that had been stirred up.  She stopped the machine again, and then had me go back there one more time, this time thinking about one of my more favorite songs at the moment.  I was able to relax into that, and when we were done, felt much better than I had at the first.  I felt more able to handle the rest of the day.

We prayed together and I left, heading to town to get the kids from school.  After spending time with them, they left for the farm, and I was able to have some alone time.  I sat and contemplated how I was doing.  I realized that truly, despite the hard stuff I had come up against that afternoon, I was doing really pretty good.  I had peace.  I still do.

I know I am going to have to face up to this relationship in two weeks.  But two years ago, if we had had to leave something hanging that long, I would have been in a panic.  God is so good in giving me the peace I need.

I have a couple of assignments from Tricia.  One is to find passages of scripture that talk about how God sees me, through Christ's blood.  I also need to see if I can find scriptures that talk about my needing to focus on Christ.  (Like in Hebrews where it talks about fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith).  She challenged me as well to watch the movie "The Passion."  I have never seen it.  She said that when she walked out of the movie, after having watched it, she just said that she knew then and there how much God loved her.

I spent time in God's Word last night, and time journaling and praying. 

I woke up this morning having had a good night's sleep, and still feeling like I am close in His arms and His peace.  It is a wonderful feeling.  One I haven't had in a long time, at least not consistently.

I'm so thankful!  Yes, there is hard stuff coming.  There are going to be more hard "letting go" opportunities.  God is bigger than all those things.  God loves me through all of them.  He isn't surprised by anything.  He still sees me through Christ's blood and sees me as whiter than snow.  That won't change. 

Oh God, help me keep my gaze fixed on You.  You are my comfort and strength and shield and protector.  Thank you for this incredible mercy of Your peace and feeling of being sheltered and protected, held and comforted right now.  May I continue to rest in you in these coming days.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Building parallels

Well, my jaw isn't broken, just got jammed and the soft tissues inflamed, so I am having to take it easy on what I eat, soft food, ibuprofen, ice or heat as needed to take away pain or sooth sore spots.  I saw the dentist today, and I will be going back in 4 weeks for a general check-up and cleaning.

The hard part is I find myself trying to keep from clenching my jaw or grinding my teeth.  Which causes the muscles to be even more sore than they need to be.

My left hand, that I landed on is still sore though.  It may stop my trying to write as much as I want tonight.  I landed on it, trying to catch myself on Friday, though my chin took the brunt of my fall.  I jammed something, somewhere, though it's not broken, but it's going to be a while for it to heal enough that small things like typing don't hurt anymore.  It's the top of my pinky and ring finger that hurt, and sometimes my middle finger too.  Depends on what I am doing.  Sometimes it surprises me because I am carrying something and my hand suddenly hurts and I almost drop what I'm carrying.  Though that is usually when I am carrying something far too heavy for that hand to handle.

It's interesting that in the middle of this, I can see how God is working and building parallels in my emotional/spiritual life.

A while ago, I took a spiritual/emotional tumble.  I got torn open pretty badly.  People have helped me get to where I need to go, between pointing me to God, praying me through it all, and making sure I have seen my counselor.  Tricia has been giving me assignments that have drawn me further into the pain.  These things, going into the painful areas has been so hard.

I really have been thrown into a tailspin.  It has hurt so much to have to write some of the things she has asked me to.  Once they have been written, I have been able to put them out of my mind for a while, until I go back to an appointment with Tricia, and have to read those writings to her.

I read one two weeks ago to her.  At the end of it, Tricia shared some things that I probably needed to do to help me cut the emotional ties I have in this particular instance.  Getting rid of some things, purging them, letting them go.  Part of that was done in the writing.  But some of that had to be done in the physical letting go of things too.

For these two weeks since, I got sick and was laid low last weekend, and then this past weekend I had my fall and was laid pretty low as well.  My weekdays were full with work, kids and home stuff.  Good stuff, but finally, over this past weekend, I started coming to terms with the idea that I wasn't obeying God.

God used Tricia and a few other key people in my life to encourage me to do the right thing.  To do the things that God wanted me to do to be able to walk in more freedom.  He was speaking very clearly to me, and I knew it was Him, through His word, through sermons, through the Breaking Free bible study, through my friends.

I just was choosing, for the past two weeks to wallow in my self hate, bitterness, unforgiveness, unwillingness to accept God's grace and forgiveness to me.  I've been fighting with letting go.  What's going to happen if I let these things go, the physical things, but more than that, the attachments, the emotional ties I have found buried deep.

As I have struggled, I have heard God telling me the same thing over and over, "Submit to Me, surrender it to Me, I can carry it.  My yoke is easy, kind, and much lighter than the one you are trying to drag around." 

One of the things that I got out of this week's sermon... again, something that God has been pounding into my head.

If you feel that you aren't hearing from God, see if there is any spot that you aren't obeying Him on.  Do that thing, and then listen again.  He doesn't withdraw Himself from you, but your lack of obedience will make it really hard for you to stay close to Him.  That makes it hard to hear from Him, because you're not doing what He's asked you to in the first place.  You've placed a barrier up between yourselves.

Ok, so it wasn't said verbatim that way, but that's what I got out of it.

After being shaken up this weekend, I spent some time praying on Saturday night, journaling before my meds took me out for the count.  I made a mental note to see if I could get together and actually talk face to face with my friend Cindy D.  We've been emailing back and forth, this past week, encouragement to one another, but not been able to really see each other and talk face to face.

Sunday, I had to play piano for church.  My hand was sore, as was my jaw, but I managed it.  I ended up having to use dish soap to take off my wedding ring, because my left hand and those two fingers started swelling after I got done doing all the playing for the worship team.

I chatted with Cindy D. a bit and asked her if she was doing anything after church.  She laughed at me and asked me if I wanted to get together, if I was asking her if she wanted to talk with me for a bit....  I told her that was what I was asking in a round about way.  We had a good laugh about it, and then decided to meet at a near by park in a bit, that way we were able to enjoy the weather and still talk.

We got together and talked for a while. Longer than I had anticipated.  During that time, I could tell that God's hands were all over that conversation.  From her perspective and life experiences, she was able to listen to me and hear my heart, and then ask guiding questions and pointed questions.  Some of these questions, under normal circumstances I would have never answered... even if Tricia had posed them.  I probably would have gotten so angry and shut down.  They were that hard.

But God had opened up my heart.  He opened up that old wound so much in the last couple of weeks, and there Cindy D was asking the pointed questions to help me clean that huge gaping wound with the Truth.  The truth of what I really believed, what I really needed, what I was really clinging to, and what I was really avoiding doing.

I needed closure.  After my three hour conversation with Cindy D. I was able to go home, talk to my hubby a bit, and do what I needed to do.  I threw out a bunch of stuff.  I feel lighter now.  I felt lighter yesterday.  Last night, I did some more cleaning out.  Getting rid of things.  It made me aware that there is more to do in different areas as well.  But, one area at a time.  There is a lot of garbage that has collected in areas I thought I had already cleaned out and closed the chapters on.  Maybe I have only done surface cleaning there, and now need to do more deep cleaning - or let God do the deep cleaning.

Getting rid of these things was like the wound finally getting fully cleaned out.  Ready for healing.  The rough edges trimmed off, the dirt scrubbed out.

Letting go of the emotional attachments, it's still taking me a bit to learn to leave them alone.  They will die out.  But it is like a dying out of a part of me.  I have to stop treating myself like crud because I believe I am crud.  I have to start seeing myself as God sees me.  I have to start saying it, out loud, whether I believe it or not fully yet.

God is stitching me up.  But that means I have to be flat on my back, letting Him do the work.  I can't fight Him, I can't move around, I can't get up, because I won't heal if I do.  If I don't let Him do His work, I won't be able to move on.

Now is the time that I need to just fall into His arms of love.  I need to feel His love, my Father's love holding me, comforting me, healing me.  I need to be wrapped in a comforter, on His lap, leaning against His chest, listening to His heart beat.   I need to listen to that heartbeat of His because it calms me down.  When I calm down, I can rest, I can heal and then I am ready to get up when it's time to go on and to the next right thing.

So, I am off to rest some more.  Let my physical body rest and heal, and let my heart and soul and spirit rest too.  It's easier sometimes to get my physical body to calm down and settle in, but a lot harder to get my mind to settle, and my heart to stop taking flight, and my soul and spirit to relax enough to really hear God's heartbeat for me.

Thank You Jesus that you helped me write this, because when I started this post, I had no idea where it was going.  Thank You for showing me the parallels You have drawn in my life to teach me.  You Jesus, are so wonderful to me.  You have blessed me with incredible friends and counselors, with a great pastor and church, with a family that loves me and cares for me and helps me.  I am blessed immeasurably, more than I could have ever asked or imagined!  Way back when I first became a believer, I could have never dreamed that I would be where I am today, or that I could have survived all the things I have.  You have saved me.  Oh my God, you have saved me!  You have bought me back, redeemed me, paid for my debts when I couldn't, and I am now yours.  You have called me by my name, and I am Yours.  Thank you!  Help me continue to cling to You and to look back, when I doubt, or when I need to remember to dance for joy, to read these old blog posts as reminders of what You have done, and what You have promised to do. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Quick Update

This is one blog post that I will NOT take a picture to illustrate!

I can now no longer say that I have never had stitches in my life.  Yup.  I had a bit of an accident today.

Marina and I were going to pick up Peter from school (early release) and were running together along the sidewalk.  Just as we came up over the curb onto the sidewalk leading down to the school, my foot either caught something or slid.  Not sure which.

I was holding Marina by one hand and as I tripped (or whatever) I went down.  Hard.  I was able to throw out one hand to catch myself, but the other was still holding onto Marina.  She was off balance and so came down with me.

She got just a scratch, thankfully.  I however landed on my left hand some, but by the time I could do anything to catch myself, I was too far gone.  I landed, almost my full weight on my chin.  I had no idea how much I was hurt till I looked around (still on my stomach) and saw my glasses on the ground about 2 feet away or so.  I got up quickly and was checking with Marina to make sure she was ok. 

As I was leaning over, blood started dripping on the sidewalk.  From my chin.  I found a wad of tissues and pressed on my chin to stop the bleeding, collected Peter and got to the car.  I drove to our friend's house close by, and she made sure Marina was ok.

Then she took me into the bathroom.  As soon as I saw my chin, I almost passed out.

Long story short, great-grandma came and picked up the kids from Sandy's house.  Sandy took me to the ER.  By the end, I had over a dozen stitches in my chin, and prescriptions for pain meds.  Sandy drove me back to my car, and I drove home from her house, ate a bit, and then took my meds and have been resting ever since.

Please pray for me that I will be able to sleep tonight, and that I will be able to play the piano for worship team this weekend.  My hand still really hurts (as does my chin).

And now, I really need to lay down... cause I am feeling light headed again.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Forced Rest

Today has been made up primarily of sleep for me.  I wish I could have been out in the beautiful weather with the kids at the farm.  Or at least cutting back my dead flowers and cleaning up the yard, because before too long the snow is gonna sneak up on us and stuff in my yard has to be protected, put away and prepared.

However, it was not a day of work for me for sure!

I got up this morning at about 8:30 or so with the kids.  I have been sick and as soon as I stood up, I knew it was going to be a "day."  I was dizzy and lightheaded, and my head hurt.  I took some tylenol and decongestant, and then set about getting the kids settled in.  Once they had their chocolate milk (carnation instant breakfast - their "drink of choice" in the mornings) in hand, I settled down with them on the couch and watched a bit of cartoons with them.  Pretty soon they were up and moving.  They wanted to play at their desks. 

Yes, we somehow squeezed 2 desks into this living room.  We had a small one Peter was using for a while.  But we were looking for a bigger one for him, one that would accommodate a computer monitor, keyboard and mouse.   When I was visiting Cindy, and mentioned that we wanted to get Peter a new desk, she jumped up and showed me a desk that she just removed from her house.  I jumped on it.  It was the perfect size.  Peter can set aside the keyboard and mouse when he wants to use the desktop and has plenty of room there.  He's thrilled.  So is Marina, because Peter's move up means that she gets his old desk.  Perfect timing.

Anyway, as they played, I curled up on the couch under both of the kids blankets and rested.  Finally, Dave got up after sleeping in, the kids got dressed, and they all headed to the farm.  I grabbed a microwavable rice sock (gotta try those if you haven't... they are heaven and you can even make your own!!) heated it up and headed to bed.  I rested there for a bit, trying to write but that really didn't work well as I was too tired and spacey.  I finally rolled over and fell asleep for a couple of hours.

I got up and read, did a load of laundry, got a load put away, but really didn't do much for my day.  Took a hot shower and changed into fresh pj's.  That's about all.

I realize that I haven't had a day like this in a really long time.  I can't remember the last time I didn't really have to do anything.  I mean anything at all!  I think this cold is God's way of slowing me down.  I have had a little bit of time up and around with the kids, but already I can feel my energy flagging again.

Good timing, the kids are just about ready for bed, and I am planning on climbing into my bed shortly as well.

Because I haven't had a day like this in a long time, I felt almost guilty for not doing anything.  But I haven't taken a day voluntarily in so long, that I think God has used this cold to really slow me down.  I mean, I nearly had to stop everything today. 

I feel bad, because when I have a day that I'm able to detach from everything going on around me (or even a portion of a day) I try to spend it with God.  But I seriously wasn't able to even think clearly enough to hardly pray.  Maybe it was good, because many of the things that have hit me this week are too hard for me to deal with right now, and like a friend has said, it's time to take a vacation from it for a while.

Yesterday I had no voice, so I could only listen as my friend Cindy D. talked with me on the phone.  I was able to talk with her a little bit, but for the most part, it was a time for her to share.  Today I could talk more, but until now was unable to string more than a few thoughts together.

So, it truly has been "forced rest" today.  I have had no way of avoiding it, and no real energy to try.  A forced rest physically, and a break from thinking through problems or "tough stuff" and a time just to "be."  It's hard for me to do, but needed so much of the time. 

I have read so much about taking a Sabbath rest.  Not just once in a while, but weekly.  I want to do this.  I want to have a "God day" and a time where I can just take the time out from working, over thinking, and just do things that help me rest up and recharge.  Sometimes I can do that for a little bit, some portion of a day, here and there.  But I want to incorporate this into my weeks and months that are coming.

It's crazy that a long tough road of preparation for an event, and the event itself is what makes me take some days off from work, and then a cold on top of it taking me out so badly that I had to take another day really off.

It should be something worked into my schedule already.

I can see it's going to be another way to take care of myself.  Another thing in the list of "self care" that I'm going to have to work on.

It's been hard to feel so under the weather.  But when my body shuts down, there is nothing I can do.  It felt good to have the freedom to collapse as I needed to for the day.  I owe my husband a great debt of gratitude for that, for taking the kids away and letting me rest.  It was wonderful.

Thank you God too, for forcing me to rest.  May I keep in mind this break, and remember to take the unexpected breaks I get during the weeks ahead to stop and rest and be with you, and to be ok with doing nothing but sleeping, if that's what my body needs.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Joy strength

Oh my friends, God was so good this weekend.

We had around 200 people in our church this weekend, as we hosted our districts Annual Meeting and Celebration. 

The meeting started with a two hour prayer gathering.  We worshipped and prayed together corporately.  As the theme of the weekend was prayer, it was a good way to start.

When we entered into the general session after lunch, God just really moved in my heart.  I was helping lead the worship, and was standing up there watching others get moved in worshiping our great God.  The Spirit was tangible there as nearly 200 people gathered together singing praise.  God moved in my heart as well. 

We were in the middle of the second song, and the thought ran through my head (and heart) that if God had told me a year ago, even 6 months ago that I would be helping lead worship for our district's Annual Meeting, I would have called Him crazy!!!  As that thought came to me, it just hit me how much He has done in me.  Yes, I am still struggling with depression and still have some heavy stuff I am working through right now even, but Oh!  How He filled me with such joy and thankfulness right then and there.

I was to the point that I wanted to spread my arms out (I did with one arm in the middle of the song - but it's hard to do that with both when you are still supposed to sing into the mic.) lift my face to Him, and then fall on my face, just in awe.

I couldn't hold still up front with all the joy that was in me.  I felt lit up by Him.  I don't know how else to describe it.  It was an amazing feeling!

Later, when I talked with my friend Cindy, I told her I couldn't believe what God had done in the middle of that set of music, and she gave me a big squeeze and said that she knew, she could see it, and she was dancing in the streets right along with me.

God is so good that way.  He lifted me up and strengthened me for this incredibly big and busy weekend.  He held me up when I was exhausted, and energized me even what I thought I was running on fumes.

He filled me with so much joy, I thought I would burst!

He did all this because He knew what I faced this week.  He knew better than I did what I would have to have to be able to make it through this week.

As I walked into my day Monday, I knew right then and there that God had filled me with joy and a sense of having done my job very well.  A knowing that it was Him working in me that accomplished so very much over the weekend.  Because the things I faced on Monday, through counseling and coming to terms with some of those things were extremely heavy and hard and I needed the "joy strength" He gave me to deal with the shame and flood of other negative emotions that hit me as I started to process other things.

That in and of itself is another story.  Another post.

This one is to remind me (and you) that no matter what I am going through, no matter what we are going through, God sees it, has already seen it and has prepared us for it.  Sometimes (most times) we don't feel prepared, but that still doesn't negate the truth that He is there, He is our strength and He is the only one who will get us through the storms.  Sometimes He strengthens us before, sometimes in, and always through everything we go through.

Thank you Jesus!

I have this hanging on my wall, given to me by a friend just before the Annual Meeting.  It's hanging right where I can see it all the time.  It seems to be very appropriate for me today and every day.

Psalm 18:2 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

God and writing

So last night I spent some time writing.  God uses my writing to help me process and to hear His voice.

God used it to make me realize that I haven't dealt fully with some aspects of my past.  Things from back in Junior High, like when I was 12.  I thought I had laid a lot of that to rest.  But when Tricia and I were talking last week, we realized we hit on something right before the end of our session.

I had been bullied by a couple of different people in 7th grade.  It wasn't that big of a deal or so I thought.  But as I worked through it as I wrote last night, I realized just how big a deal it was.  I really took what was said and done to me to heart.

Though I am very high on the Empathy/Feeling charts, I find myself shutting down emotionally and unable to re-engage.  I traced it back to some things that happened while in 7th grade where I vowed that I wasn't going to let others see me cry in front of them again.  Unless I was in a "safe place" or with "safe people" I didn't cry.  I also didn't express how I felt to anyone for the most part, even to my mom, when something happened.

I can remember when my first cat died.  It was my senior year of high school.  I'd had her since I was four.  My mom was taking her in the next day to be put down because she was too sick and in pain.  I got home from school the next day, and had a friend with me.  We hung together in my room, ate supper and went back to the school for a late drama rehearsal.  I never said anything to my mom about Willow, for a long time. 

Several months later, I encouraged my family to get two kittens, and they had them for a very long time.  Later I ended up telling my mom that I stayed up several hours with Willow on her last night.  Curled up next to her on the couch, petting the one place that didn't hurt her (the top of her head and ears) and cried.  The reason I had a friend come home with me the next day was cause I needed the distraction.  But it was a long time before I could acknowledge those emotions, define them, and share them with someone.

I am not as bad as that now.  I have healed a lot in the last few years.

However, there are still times when I have trouble expressing my emotions.  Sometimes I don't even know what I am feeling.  Like I said, I shut down.  Because of the bullying things that happened to me, the humiliations, I ended up putting up walls to protect myself.

God has been faithful in helping me pull down those walls.  Many of them are down now, and I have much less of a tendency to hold in emotions than I used to.  It's much less self-destructive.  But there are still walls there. Some of these walls have people's names on them, I have discovered.  It's going to take a lot of hard work to get those walls to come down.

With God's help, I know it will happen.  In His time.

There are other things that are going on at the same time. - again - there is always something, and it seems God is working on me from different fronts, with different things all at once.  Maybe it seems like that because He is trying to help me shore up the weaknesses that He sees in me, so that I can come out the other side more whole, and a better person to better reflect His light.

All in His time.  And - as a reminder to myself - I don't need to know the why's of what's going on or what's happened.

God uses my writing to help me process different things.  Last night He helped me process and identify some things that I need to go over with Tricia.  Other times He just plain outright speaks to my heart, by impressing something on it.  Other times it is through reading His Word as well.

I am just so glad that He still speaks and heals and redeems and restores, today as always.

He's got me covered.
He's got you covered.

Praise God for that!  I am so grateful that He hems us in behind and before and that He lays His hand upon us all!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Busy week, in more ways than one

It's been a very busy week.  I am very tired and fighting a cold. 

Our church is hosting our district's Annual Meeting and Celebration.  That means that I am the point person for the church, pulling people in to help with decorations, hosting, ushering, food, media and sound, building set up, child care - among many other things.

I have been running my tail off this week because we have had meetings and I have been making many phone calls to get everything sorted out.

The meeting is next week Friday and Saturday, so if I am rather absent here in the next week, please forgive me.  I just have so much to do, and so much on my mind.

The theme for the Annual Meeting is "Getting back to Basics:  Prayer."  So I have someone who jumped onto my team, who is so fired up about praying for everyone coming.  She has organized our church to literally cover every single person in prayer.  There are people who grabbed someone's name, filled out a card to let them know they were praying for them and slipped it into an envelope with their name on it.  Those will be put into everyone's registration packets.  They then keep the person's name and pray for them throughout the next week or so, and just pray as God leads them to.

It has been amazing to feel the prayers of people.  Once this dear lady jumped in and started really organizing the prayer for the event, I have been feeling entirely different about how things are going.  God is so good that way.  She was an answer to an unspoken prayer of mine that someone would be there that I could call on to pray for me, whatever it was, and whenever.  She has. 

As we move into this next week, again things will be very busy, but there are things going on personally that will add to the stress unless I am able to let them go to hang onto God, or as I said in my last post, let Him hang onto me.

I went through counseling with Tricia this past week.  By the time I was done, I was feeling so sick to my stomach.  It took me nearly an hour before I trusted myself enough to drive home.  I just sat in the parking lot in my car.

God lifted me above those intense emotions and reactions to the things we were talking about this week as I have had other things I have needed to deal with.  I am so grateful He does that.  He has sustained me this week. 

Of course the last couple of days I have been staying with Him pretty intensely as I have been working on catching up on my Breaking Free Bible Study.  This study has been amazing.  We just finished Week 4, and I know there is much more to go, but God has been using it already in seeing patterns and areas where truly I am still in bondage.  After talking to Tricia, and then working through the bible study homework, God revealed to me some areas that I am going to have to really work on.  Not easy stuff, but worth it in the long run.

There are a couple of assignments that Tricia gave me that I have to do in the next 10 days or so.  I need to have them done by the Monday after the Annual Meeting.  I am going to be taking off the 25th and 26th from work to recover from the weekend, and I have my appointment with Tricia that Monday afternoon.  I am hoping that I don't have to do my "homework" from her that morning, but if I have to, I will. 

My heart hurts thinking about it though.  I don't want to have to do what she is asking me to, and what I feel God is asking me to.  It's difficult though I know it will bring further healing.  I don't know if I will ever get beyond the depression, or the struggle with it.  Knowing the why's or the answers to the questions doesn't help either, because I still have to deal with it.

I would like to do it ahead of time and get it out of the way.  But with the multitude of responsibilities I have for the Annual Meeting, I just am afraid these things will stir up way too many emotions.  I know that God can handle it, that He can cover it and give me the strength to do all things.  I just need prayer that I will know when to do what He wants me to do.

It makes it all harder to look at with any clarity when I am feeling sick.  I have to sing during the Annual Meeting at several different points for the worship team.  It's an added thing on top of the responsibilities I have, being available for the district executive administrator to help her with anything she needs.  I am glad to do it.  I feel that God has called me to sing and help lead worship.  With this cold, however, it will be difficult to sing if it doesn't clear up quickly!

As you can see I have a lot on my plate in the next week...  and it's not just the Annual Meeting.  My brain feels fried, and there are so many things I want to do, need to do, and should do that I am not quite sure where to start.

Thank you for listening to my babble! :)  I will be praying for all of you as God brings you to my heart and mind, but I may not be able to be around for a visit for a little bit.

If something comes up this week that I need to share, I will pop on here again, but again it all depends on how things go.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Exhaustion and choices

Lack of enough sleep really does me in.

The last couple of nights or so have been late ones, besides the fact that I was sleeping on the couch to give my visiting parents a bed to sleep in.  Needless to say I didn't sleep the greatest or long enough.

The tiredness has increased the "weight" that I have been feeling sneaking in around the edges the last few days. God is still good.  He is still in control.  I was still able to worship Him today at church.

I just feel that depression building up again.  Besides being tired, I really wish I knew its source.  It's hard to figure out because I just don't see it.  Though I know right now exhaustion is playing into it big time, it's still frustrating to see and feel the anxiety and know that I have to walk this road.

So I am choosing today to try, despite distractions and frustrations with the kids, to cling to the truth.  I'm working on keeping my focus on God.  I am struggling to stay open to Him and keep myself in an attitude of submission and surrender.

It's not an easy process and I am definitely struggling.  It's hard when all I want to do is sleep.

But I am clinging to God - and better yet, He is holding me with His righteous right hand.  His hands are holding me and that's stronger... stronger than any way I could cling to him in my own strength.

Thank you Jesus for holding me.  Thank you for always meeting me where I am at.  Thank you for loving me so much that You became sin for me, so that I might become Your righteousness.  You are so good.  Thank You for Your peace in the midst of depression and pain.  Please continue to uphold me and strengthen me for this road you have me on.  Give me the peace that passes understanding and the joy inexpressible that only comes from you.  I love you - help me to keep falling deeper in love with You every day.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Falling in love

I'm falling in love all over again.

Yes, I really am.  And I never thought it would quite be like this.

First God talked to me about surrendering and letting go.

He started pulling me out and away from people and things in my life that were a significant part of my "normal."

Then, God changed the "surrender" word to "submit," and it was like a light bulb going on.

"Oh.  All of me, he wants me to lay it all down on the alter.... and it's not an "it" at all, its ME He wants."

Yeah, I know.  Sometimes it takes me a while.

Some situations sprang up in my life at that point that forced me to submit because there was no way I was going to handle it all on my own strength.  The only way to get through was to submit my days to Him and rely on His strength, not my own.

There were some really dark days there.

Then God did something to me last week Friday, that has lasted all week.  He helped me really become a part of one of the stories in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 5. It was amazing the changes He did in my heart overnight through that simple account of a woman's healing.

I am only starting to grasp what happened when I reached out to touch the hem of His robe last week.

The story was instrumental in my coming to Christ originally.  I said that in my last post.  But what occurred to me just now, as I was writing this, is that it is also very instrumental in my falling in love all over again.

In the Breaking Free study, Beth Moore talks about how much she is in love with Jesus, and how He is the first and greatest joy in her life... and that she was jealous for all of us to have that type of love relationship with Him.  Then another study, that I just picked up again after a long while, last night no less... made the point about us falling in love with Jesus, because that is what is so contagious to others.  Our head over heels, abandoned love for Jesus.

Really, God?

It hit me this morning and I realized the next puzzle piece has fallen into place.  It fits.

Letting go of the things I esteem so highly, and let God take care of them.
Surrender each and every little piece God points out to me of my heart.
Submit my all to Him so that His plans for me become my plans and I just follow along.

As I thought about all this today, I still felt His call to submit and surrender.  I thought about falling in love again with Him.  I thought about how resistant I felt about that whole idea.  Because I thought it had to look a certain way or something.  I kept thinking, "Well, I can't be like so and so, she has all the time she needs to do whatever to fall in love with You. And I can't be like so and so, because I can't live at that pace, and that seems to be how she falls in love with You."

I kept comparing myself.

Finally I heard God's small voice say, "Stop."
I did.

I felt like He really pointed out to me another area I was resisting Him, another spot where I was telling Him to wait, to hold off, to not get too close to that "thing" there.

I told Him I wasn't going to do that.  That I was going to submit to Him right away.  I had already made that commitment nearly 2 weeks ago.  Yet, here I was telling Him wait again.  But this time, instead of beating myself up over it, it was just another light bulb coming on.

It was immediate surrender.

I don't know what this falling in love with God all over again thing looks like.  Not for me.  I see what it looks like in some lives I am exposed to, near and far.

I told God that I didn't know what to do.

Then He reminded me of what I did when I was first in love with my husband.  We would sit on the couch and I would snuggle up against him with my head on his chest and just listen to his heartbeat.

That's what Jesus wants me to do, just settle in with Him and listen to His heartbeat, and let the rest flow from there.  He's got it anyway.  It's His plans.  My life is His.  He is mine.  I am bought, redeemed, loved, His bride.  He loves me so much, so much that it hurts.

I think I am falling in love.
All over again.
With the greatest love of my life.

The bonus is, the more in love with Jesus I am, the more it spills out and over into the ones I love.  I love Jesus more, then I will be able to love my husband and family and friends more.  The more I will look like Jesus and less like me.

Oh, my friends, God is so good.  He is so faithful.  I may have more dark days coming.  I may have more challenges ahead.  I have some coming up in the next few weeks.  But my sweet Jesus is so much bigger, better and stronger than all of that.  He is still speaking if you know how to listen.

Just get real quiet with Him.  Snuggle up to Him and listen for His heartbeat.  It doesn't take long, and it doesn't have to be for long.  Just long enough for you to realize that His heartbeat is for you.

He loves you.
Love Him back with all of your heart!
It's worth falling in love all over again!