Friday, August 17, 2018

Do You Live Like You're LOVED?

I'm writing with the Five Minute Friday peeps that I adore. What an amazing community to be a part of!

This week's word prompt is LOVED.

This is immediately what came to mind after the month I've had:


This month I've had a lot of opportunities to focus on my faults and shortcomings (I have that opportunity daily, but some months are more intense than others). The specifics are unnecessary to share, but the fact remains - I am changed.

To live LOVED is different than trying to get love. When I live LOVED I don't have expectations of returned love. I don't need it. I already know I am LOVED. When I'm trying to be seen, appreciated, acknowledged, then any attempt others make to love me falls short. No amount of love, time or attention can compensate for the black hole created by my trying to get love and prove that I can or should be LOVED.

These are the opportunities that presented themselves.
To choose anger instead of grace.
To embrace pain instead of hide under the bed with my dog.
To push back on alarm with faith or freak out and go back under the bed.
To let heartbreak submerge me or lean in to the relationship.
To give back what I have been given or withhold in resentment.
To speak freedom and life or shame and condemnation.

Honestly, I did a bit of all of the above. Except climb under the bed - there just isn't room. When I was able to choose (moment by moment) to believe how LOVED I am, I could eventually (I am not perfect!) choose grace, embrace pain, find my faith, lean in, give, and speak life. It wasn't pretty, easy or fun. But, it happened - messy, uncomfortable, and stressful. The challenges remain, but so does my great big God who reminds me through nature, beauty, people, animals, and circumstances beyond my understanding that I am LOVED.


Friday, August 10, 2018

Wonder WOMAN

Yes, her.
This is my favorite superhero.

The Five Minute Friday prompt is WOMAN this week and SHE is the first one that came to mind. What I love about her: She doesn't give up.

We are surrounded by Wonder Women. The exhausted mom wandering the grocery store with toddlers hanging from the "car cart". The checker at that same store who has the power to encourage or dissect this dear warrior with a few choice words. The woman in the next aisle who hears the hysterical pleas for cookies (they never beg for carrots do they?) and casts judgement or prays a blessing over the distressed little and the mama.

We have the opportunity to see the Wonder WOMAN in our midst. She's probably not 6'2", a size 0 and dressed in red, white, and blue. She's possibly in yoga pants, a messy bun, yesterday's mascara under her eyes, and stains on her favorite t-shirt. Or she could be rocking the wedge heels, tidy capris, with classy accessories to go with her favorite shirt that makes her feel like a movie star.

Every WOMAN has a hero inside them. We don't know what they've survived, conquered or slogged through in the last 10 minutes, 10 days or 10 years. Let's see them. Encourage them. Remind them not to give up - especially the one in the mirror.

Stop.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Five Minute Friday - DONE (on Saturday)

I'm finally gathering a few moments to post with the Five Minute Friday Bunch. This week's word is DONE. I've been pondering what to write on this word. So many possibilities.

GO.

I've been DONE before. Finished with the fight and struggle. I've cried out for help, I've had surgery, I've done naturopathic remedies, pharmaceuticals, (GASP!) CBD oil purchased at a pot shop, and another surgery.

But this, this season now, is a whole new place of DONE. After all I've come through thus far, I am DONE with these things:

Being afraid of what anyone thinks of me.
Trying to jump through the "right" hoops to fit "proper Christian" mold.
Expecting people to be different than they are at in any given moment (more GRACE!).
Wanting those closest to me to meet the needs that only God can.
Trying to fix circumstances instead of my perspective.
Trying to be acceptable.

The first six months of 2018 have stripped me clean of just about anything and everything I thought I had left in my own understanding.

Here's to spending the next six months being in the new place I've landed.

STOP.

Bonus words: I have been DONE with several of these things before, but during this six months I have gained a much different perspective that is wiser and downright refreshing. I will write about that too...

Sunday, June 24, 2018

How a 145 Day Migraine Didn't Kill Me

This pic is from Frugal and Focused. Thank you!

This is my favorite quote by Corrie ten Boom who hid Jews from the Nazi's in her family home, the only one in her family who survived the Nazi death camp, and when released at age 53, she spent the next 32 years spreading the message of God's love in over 60 countries. She's my hero. Her life changed. A lot. She knew pain and she knew God. She didn't give up.

There have been several suicides lately. Crushed hearts and minds from pain, despair, hopelessness, and/or loneliness compelled some precious people to feel like it would never change and they wanted it to stop. I have been there. Recently.

One of the best books I listened to while I was struggling through my 145 day (yes, it was as AWFUL as it sounds) migraine was Option B by Sheryl Sandberg. In it she talks about the "3Ps" -this link has a detailed description of what they are and how they are defined- I will tell you how it impacted me:

Personalization - This is all my fault. If I wasn't so damn sensitive to all the strong and loud personalities in my house I wouldn't have this stupid migraine. Once again, life has proven I am defective. Migraines, infertility (for almost 10 years), clinical depression, anxiety, and obesity haunt me daily. I've had surgery, taken hormones, blood tests, done triathlons, and I even tried to learn to ski but blew out my knee. I am fat, in pain, and an emotional train wreck.

Permanence - This is never going to change. I will always be what I have always been, no matter how hard I try to change it. Time and time again it has been confirmed that this is the way I will always be. This headache, my body chemistry, my weight are destroying my family. We will never recover from this.

Pervasiveness- I am letting everyone down in every single way possible. I suck at being a wife, mom, Christian, PTO member, and friend. There is no way that anyone will tolerate me and my mess long term. I can't think, exercise, write, pray, read, work or anything. My life as I know it and understood it is in ruins.

This is ALL how I actually felt. A LOT. No amount of faith, prayer, encouragement from my Love, my kids, my family and friends budged me from this mindset moving in and out of my thought life. My psychiatrist (who I truly value but sometimes get frustrated with) doubled my anti-depressant dosage. He was WISE. I am not sure I would have made it out of this alive if he hadn't.
When your best friend brings you the GOOD
tissue & something that makes you smile.
During the 145 days, I spent 19 days in Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, where I had extraordinary care from kind, concerned, genuine, consistent and extraordinary people. They hated to see me go, but they did everything medically possible to get rid of my pain. That place, their staff, and the gentle words and loving way they cared for me pushed back at my 3Ps beliefs.

When I came home on February 16, still in pain, the fear that things would never change amplified. My parents arrived (on plane tickets purchased in Nov 2017!) here the next day and spent almost two weeks tending to me and my family. Their daily presence squeezed out the thoughts, beliefs and fears crowding in during the dark quiet nights.

For decades, I have known my value and identity are not based on what I do but on Whose I am. Codependency, Boundary Issues, Fear, Depression, and Fat have pushed me to my limits in every direction. But THIS, this experience, this season of perpetual unrelenting migraine pain went beyond any of those things that threatened to destroy me before.

As soon as I finished listening to the book, I knew those 3Ps were going to be a part of my healing process, too. I had no idea when or how the migraine would finally go away, but I knew I needed an Option B too. I needed to be willing to let God invade all of those lies in my original 3Ps and speak Truth.

I took those 3Ps and used them as a springboard to change my thinking. Fifteen days out from the end of the migraine (that finally ended when I woke up from surgery) and I'm still working on them. It may be a bit before they aren't the first thoughts that pop into my head when hard things happen.

I am very Spirit-minded and believe passionately in being Spirit-led. I often pray my humanity to the background and ask that my spirit come to the foreground so I can be led by Spirit. This is the basis for my perspective on this.

Jenn's Version of the 3Ps:

Personalization - I live in a world where destruction, cruelty, devastation, and pain abound from all angles and happen to everyone. I am uniquely created, loved and called by my Creator to speak Life into darkness and let Light shine through me. If I "can't" in the moment, wait, and see the second P!

Permanence - When I keep moving forward I remind myself, things always change. Like the song says, "If you're going through hell, keep on going, don't slow down...". Thank you Rodney Atkins for that reminder! My perspective, limited. My Creator's perspective, Limitless.

Pervasiveness - One crappy thing does not equal everything is crappy. I can find the blessings and beauty when I look out the window, look at my kids (even if they're acting crappy), read something encouraging, and/or find something (not someone) to laugh at. Light can be found, usually. If not, see the second P!



My Creator, my Love (who never left my side and only blew his fuse a few times), my family, and my friends never gave up on me. It's a tricky journey, recovering from a migraine that long. When it started in January, I was a different person. Prolonged pain changes you. I'm finding out who I am now, on the other side. I have been stripped down and purged of my expectations of myself. But Light is more easily found these days and the rest will come...

Thank you Corrie, hero of mine, for setting the example of being who you're called to be no matter where you are or what you're going through and never giving up. This time my pit was really deep, but you reminded me how deep God is.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Is It Wrong to Ask?



Restore

GO

8 days after major surgery considering the word RESTORE I am thinking of what’s next. Being under the anesthesia delightfully ended the migraine that held me captive for 145 days straight.

I desperately want to get back to life and praying for full restoration of my body from all these months of confinement to my home with minimal travel and energy expended lest the migraine go from a 5 to a 10 on the pain scale.

I think of the verse about how God promises to restore the years the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25), and I wonder what that looks like for me. Is it ALL that I’ve lost/missed in the past months or is it just the stuff that’s important to Him?

My prayer is that He will RESTORE the countless hours I spent in the dark, the countless dollars that we spent on medical bills and lost in income, the countless moments I missed interacting with my hubby, kids, our friends and families. I want him to restore it all.  

I know many others long for things much bigger than these and my requests may be selfish, but part of recognizing and pressing into the pain of this loss of almost 6 months is being honest about what I want restored. 

STOP

This is me in September of 2017. Before the epic migraine and major surgery. I miss her. 


Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Pain Sucks!


Pain sucks.

I could just leave that there and call it done. Migraine day 130.

Pain is like bad gas. One nasty fart, maybe two is forgivable, but if you sit in a room full of people and keep releasing toxic stench, they get sick of it and walk away. They may stay friends – from a distance - and try not to judge you or wish you’d just be done already, but they are uncomfortable with your pain, so they keep their distance.

You, on the other hand, are living with the stench. Like Pigpen from Peanuts, your cloud of pain is present, everywhere. Some people notice, can see the pain, but others don’t, for a million different reasons.

The pain of life is real. 
WHAT DO YOU DO WITH IT?

Here is where I give you the answer to that question… 

NOPE.

I don’t have it. All I have is my experience, my choices, and what those people around me have chosen.

How to deal with PAIN:
Ignore it.
Run from it.
Bury it.
Face it.
Lean in to it.
Push through it.
Make peace with it.

I honestly believe all these answers are right depending on the type of pain. However, each one of these are the wrong answer too.

For example:
       If you are in an abusive relationship – you need to run from it, not make peace with it.

·        If you are in physical pain (discomfort) you can ignore it or push through it, but if you are in physical pain (agony) you need to face it and get help.

·        If you are in emotional pain, leaning into it can be very helpful if you have support systems/resources around you. Emotional pain buried, eventually comes up and out like a zombie ready to destroy your life as you know it.

In this very long season of being in pain with this migraine, I have chosen to make peace with it. I have sought spiritual, medical, physical, and emotional help for it. Despite major efforts in every area – the pain remains. So, on many days, I decide to just be. In pain. The answers in the list above are the right answer for me, and some days, none of them are wrong.

A few things I KNOW for sure – Healing from pain requires community. Pain in isolation is dangerous. When we are brave and face our pain, we inspire others to do the same.

I’m praying for you. Pain Sucks.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Five Minute Friday - Pause

Writing again today with the Five Minute Friday gang. It seems to be the best easiest thing to semi-commit to for me these days.

Today's Prompt - Pause

I'm in the second longest Pause of my life. The first was our 9+ years of infertility before we had our first son. 125 days into this migraine is definitely a LONG PAUSE for a headache. Except unlike the Blu-Ray player, "PAUSE" means everything stops. Life doesn't work like that. Not during infertility and not during a migraine.

I've had bright moments - moments of fun or joy in the midst of this. I've had reminders that God is with me and this is not a reflection of His love (or lack of it) for me. This is just life. Being life. In life and living life.

I've had moments to PAUSE and remember that this pain is not the worst thing. I have friends with husbands to died, kids that died, car wrecks that destroyed careers, addictions that have broken relationships and so many more tragedies that could be listed.

This is NOT one of those.

PERSPECTIVE IS EVERYTHING.

When the flood of the pain and disruption of the life I want to live pours through, I have to PAUSE and remember to keep perspective. Find the joy (even if it means goofy unicorn balloons and party supplies for turning 47 today!). Pray for the ones doing even greater battle and press on.




STOP.


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