Sunday, March 25, 2018

I Thought I Was Finished

This time is of year is always an emotional one for me.  We're approaching Good Friday, which marks a new start to life I was given.  It leaves me feeling vulnerable and open - which sounds bad, but in reality, it's a good place for me to be.  It's real.  It's the place where my heart is most tender and responsive, the way God always intended it to be.  I wish that I could say I have come to a place where I am always in that mindset.  Where I am always living like today is my Good Friday from six years ago.  But in this broken world, with pain and distractions, it just isn't the reality I'm living in.  It's what I strive for, but it isn't what I have achieved.  I may not while in this temporary life.

2018 has been a weird year so far.  When I look back over these first three months, and where I've been, it's just been weird to me.  I started out the year with this burden to surrender.  To really truly surrender the pain, the fear, the hurt, the control.  And as my last post can attest, I have struggled with this.  I have given into despair at times.  I have felt alone.  I have felt fear.  I have felt anxiety.  I have become distracted with everything else.  And yet, God has sent me these little reminders of what he asked me for - surrender.

I thought I knew what that would entail.  I thought it just meant that I needed to try to keep my focus on God and allow him to guide me through the good and the bad times.  But lately, I've been feeling something more is being asked.  I couldn't quite put my finger on it in January or February.  When I look back on what I thought it meant, really, I think I thought it would be easier.  I thought it would require more than I was giving, but less than I am coming to realize may be required.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Where Pain Has Left Me

Today I was talking to my sister-in-law, Carrie, about my physical pain. I have spent the last 7 days in bed, with the exception of a trip to the ER and a trip to the doctor a few days after that.

I have been dealing with physical pain now for 14 years. Yes. Fourteen. It's not just some mild ache. Most of the time, it's brutal. It's no longer a case where I have good days and bad days. This past year, it is more realistic to say that I have some bad days, some really, really bad days, and then every now and again, I have a day where the pain isn't the first thing on my mind-it's an "ok" day. There are rare moments where the pain is less horrible than all the other days. Days where every thought, every decision, every step is not overshadowed completely by pain.

I am in pain when I wake up. I am in pain all day. I am in pain when I go to bed. I am in pain all night. What a lot of people see on the outside is a mask. It's a way to cope. I don't always look like a person who is constantly reminded that her physical body is worn down and deteriorating at a rapid rate. I can pretend and put on that facade like the rest of the world. The one that most days says everything is great! Or, at the very least, the one that doesn't show I feel a lot worse inside than I look on the outside.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Striving to Surrender

On Friday, I began a very time-intensive project at work. Between yesterday and today I have put in 21 hours, most of them on this project. It is finally drawing to a close and as I got in my car to leave work, I was so relieved thinking about going home and NOT working tonight. I even thought, "Hey, maybe I'll write something." I have the radio pre-set in my car to JoyFM. I thought about turning a book on to listen to on the drive home. But then the song Control by Tenth Avenue North came and and I just love that song. So, I decided I would just leave it and listen to music on the way home. The song immediately reminded me of that word I wrote about-the one for 2018 that was on my heart. 

Surrender. 

What better reminder than a song named Control that talks solely about giving up control! I felt such a strong sense of comfort listening to that tonight. I was convinced that when I got home I would write about that song and share it. 

I was wrong.

Three songs into my drive home, a slow and rhythmic song began playing. I instantly sat up a little straighter and listened a little harder, as I tend to do when a song comes on that I know I've never heard before. I glanced at the stereo and saw it was Hillsong. And my first thought was "That's pretty, but where is the build?" 

Do you know what I'm talking about?

That build that tends to always exist in a song by a worship band?

The one where the melody tends to repeat over and over, and eventually leads into bigger music swells and profound lyrics?

That's the build I am talking about.

The one that I hoped would exist in this song.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

gracefully broken

For about a week, I have been hearing just the tail end of a song on JoyFM.  In an attempt to be intentional about surrender, I determined that I would:

#1. Actually take a lunch break.

#2. Listen to the song on my lunch break. 

As I was getting on my phone to turn Gracefully Broken by Matt Redman on, it just came on the radio!  So as I sit here in my car, taking an actual lunch break, I'm grinning because I'm not surprised at all by God's gentle (and not so subtle) reminder to slow down and surrender.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Safe vs. Good

I am sitting in church this morning, thinking about a million different things. In the midst of all the thoughts, something broke inside of me. Something that needed to break. 2017 was probably the busiest year for me. I can't remember when the last time was that I felt so busy. And I'm not just talking about work or things I had to do.

My heart has felt busy. 

Distracted. 

Distant. 

As I reflect on the events of 2017, I realize that it is the first time since 2012 that I've allowed my heart to wander.  Not to another person, but to, really, anything but God.  

He's there. But I've not been seeking him. 

I've been feeling this tugging for several months now. Something telling me I'm not in the right place spiritually. I'm in no way where I was 6 years ago when I was still trying to run from God.
But I'm also not where I was 5 years ago, when my heart was tender and I was always running to the feet of Jesus. Little by little, as it always happens, we allow life to get in the way. 

It was a difficult year for me, personally and professionally.

My neck pain, three years after a successful second fusion, came back in full force around May.  I have gone through physical therapy again, doctor visits, injections that didn't work, a new MRI, being told there was nothing surgically that will help my pain, regardless of the new deterioration in my spine.  I went from finally feeling like I could function at 80% back down to maybe 20%, if I'm being generous.

Work demands were at an all time high this year for me, and I felt like I was playing catch up most of the time.  Work has just been tough also, in the sense that we just don't know what the future holds for our company.  It isn't dire, but it isn't where we want it to be either.  I've had new employees come on my team (which has overall been a good thing) but it always comes with it's own struggles, I've had to terminate others (which was the worst experience), and I've had more actual work most days than I knew what to do with. 

The pain and work alone have created this distance between me and my heart, which in turn brings distance between me and God, but we've also had changes in our immediate family. Nothing really traumatic. But the kids are getting older. As a mother I've struggled emotionally.  I've had a lot of anxiety and have had to trust a lot more as my son started driving himself everywhere, my oldest has begun registering for her senior classes next year, my baby is in middle school, my son started a new job, and all the girls have been heavily involved in theater and choir.

It's a lot. Most days, I give as much as I can at work and there's really nothing left for anyone else. It's a sad state to find myself in as a wife and mother.  For someone who always just wanted to be a wife and a mother, it's hard not to feel like a failure.

This is the first time since 2012 that I've felt my own heart distance itself from Kris. Not because we are having problems, because we're not. We are both just busy and I've become swept up in it. I've felt it happening, and felt powerless to change it.

So as I sit here during worship, I find my mind cycling through all of these thoughts.  My heart is stirred to think on these things and acknowledge where I really am. I haven't allowed myself to think on how my priorities have shifted because I haven't wanted to truly see my faults.

It isn't easy, admitting to myself how I've allowed my heart to stray.  If I stop to think about it, I'll have to actually slow down and accept that I'm not where I want to be.  And if I slow down, I have fears and worries that make themselves known. So I stay busy. Partly because it distracts me from the physical pain I'm in, but mostly because I don't want things to spin out of control.

It's a catch 22. 

Because I know with certainty that my attitude is not right. 

And when I really stop and reflect, the truth is I have no control. 

Over any of it. 

I can't force the fears and insecurities away just because I ignore them.  I know from past experience the only way to deal with them in a healthy way is to confront them head on and then promptly surrender them.

If I had to choose just one word that I've run from in 2017 it would be surrender. 

Surrender requires that you slow down. 

Face your fears.

Your inadequacies.

Your true self. 



Surrender is hard. Our human nature fights against it.  And we often try to protect ourselves from the hard things in life.  It's okay for a while. By that I mean ignoring it gets you by for a while.

But it isn't the right way to live. It isn't what brings peace. Peace is something I have to fight for on a daily basis and I've strayed so far now that it feels a bit overwhelming to get back there. But my heart is crying out for peace.  I feel God in me, a physical presence as much as it is spiritual, whispering to my heart. Assuring me that I can surrender. That if I surrender, it will be good, not bad.

God has never failed me. He has never turned his back on me or decided he was done with me. He never will. It might not be easy, but it will always be worth it.  It reminds me once again of one of my favorites scenes from Narnia:

Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion." "Ooh" said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"..."Safe?" said Mr Beaver ..."Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.
-C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

No, he isn't safe. Trusting him with all my fear and pain and failures is scary. And it isn't safe, because being vulnerable is never safe. But God is good. It isn't just some cliche saying. He is truly good. What he can do in and through me is good.  And that good is so much better than how I'm living now.

A line from one of the songs this morning really spoke to me.  It is what finally broke me down and led me to writing this right now, so that I don't put it off any longer.  The song is called Spirit of the Living God, by Meredith Andrews.

We're leaning in to all you are
Everything else can wait

Everything else can wait. 

This is more important. 

It's the only thing worth living and fighting for and it's everything. 

He changes everything.


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Learning to Rest

I've been sitting here for an hour writing, deleting, writing again.  I've been trying to work through my own bad habit of taking on too much.  Professionally.  I get about 5 paragraphs in and decide it's not really what I am wanting or trying to express.  So, here we go again.  We'll see if this sticks.

I was determined this morning, since Kris has forbidden me to work this weekend, to write again.  To try to get back to what I have always loved - this blog.  It's therapy for me, really.  And by neglecting it, I believe I am neglecting my own mental health.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Don't Be Afraid Of The Valley

Finally, TIME.

Kris and I took a week off of work (June 1-7).  This time was so needed.  We are in day 3 of our staycation.  The kids are traveling with Kris' mom and our "puppy" is in good hands with a friend.  While funds are somewhat limited, we have saved some up and chose to stay home and chill, sprinkled with a few outings here and there.  Ultimately, we just wanted some time to not think about work.  To not stay in the chaos we so often live in.  We wanted to be intentional with getting away from the pressure of what has become a daily struggle to do what we can to ensure that the company we work for succeeds.  As an added bonus, we also are taking this time to celebrate 18 years of marriage (June 5).  This time off has provided me with nothing but time.  Time to recharge my mind and heart.  Kris is still sleeping, so I am taking advantage of the time alone to reflect and finally write again.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

An Explanation and An Apology

I know it has been at least nine months since I've written anything.  A year ago, I went back to work for my husband's company.  To give you an idea of how my year has gone, I've been averaging 50-60 hours of work each week.  The lack of writing is simply a lack of time.  Well...no, that's not completely true.  It isn't that I haven't had any time.  It's that I am so exhausted after work, I just don't have the mental energy to write.  It's easier to zone out and watch TV than to confront my busy heart.

It's not a good excuse.  I realize that.  It just is what my life has been as of late.  It's been really difficult to focus on anything outside of work these days.  The business is in a REALLY good place, and if we press through now and weather the changes and lack of staff for the amount of work, we will be in a great place.  Both the business and Kris and I financially.  We want to move and we are so close to making that a reality.  We just aren't there yet and the time put in now, the investment in the company, will pay off.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Without Running Away

Often, I act rashly.

I tend to say things that I end up not living up to.

Mostly threats that I never follow through on.  This is especially true as I try to parent my teenage son.  Idle threats.  I'm not the best disciplinarian.  I make threats and do not consistently follow through.  Sometimes I get so angry and so frustrated, that I just say whatever I can in the moment.  Then I have to think of an elaborate excuse later to not have to follow through.

There are other scenarios where I do this.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

If We're Honest

I was going to start this post out with just a few lines from a song I'm currently obsessed with.  But as I started trying to find just a line or two from the song that felt like the best, I couldn't select just one or two.  The truth is, the entire song is amazing.  The lyrics hit so close to home with where I am at tonight.  Where I've been at, in general.  So, I'm just going to weave the lyrics through this post, and in usual fashion, I'll have a link to the video at the end.

Truth is harder than a lie
Dark seems safer than the light
Everyone has a heart that loves to hide

If you've heard my story, or you've read this blog before, you know that I am very open about my struggles and the person that I used to be.  This blog is nothing if not HONEST.