Tag: Trials

What To Do When You’re Hanging On

Today as I write this, I am sitting at Starbucks enjoying a latte and a kid-free morning thanks to the Mothers Day Out program at the First Baptist Church.  Big deal, right? Well…it is for me. TOTALLY new experience. I feel so hip and cool: writing, sipping coffee, grooving to Muddy Waters. (Thank you, Starbucks for making this Mississippi girl feel right at home with the blues. Someone must have told you I was coming.)

It’s funny, listening to blues music when everything in my body screams “happy, happy, happy!” Metaphorically speaking, I’m finally enjoying some warm sunshine after a long, very cold rain. You know how sometimes you feel like you are hanging on by a thread? For a long time? You get weary. You get gloomy. You’re tempted to give up hope. Everything gets a little gray. I just left that place, so I know how you feel.

I’m so glad that I didn’t give in to those feelings. Yeah, some days I switched to auto-pilot… Plastered on the smile anyway. You know the drill. After a long time, though it begins to feel like it will never get better. For my family it was a series of tough-break circumstances. Maybe in your case it’s an illness, job loss, divorce, or crisis of another sort. I don’t know what the event is but I do know that nothing last forever. Cliche’ but true. Sometimes it just takes a while. What do you do in the mean time? I’ll share what helped me:

  • Press in to scripture. Let God comfort you. Let Him guide you. Let Him love you through it.
  • Lean in to trusted friends. It’s okay to let others see you in your not so perfect state.
  • Smile anyway. I read in a medical magazine that smiling and laughing can improve a blue mood
  • Take a gratitude inventory. Really count your blessings. Be mindful in your everyday moments
  • Reach out to someone else needing help. Practice hospitality, sharing, and encouraging others
  • Objectively evaluate your circumstance. Change what you can and pray through the rest.
Don’t give up – just hang on a little longer!

Sometimes things get a little worse it seems before they get better. It did for us. God rewards the faithful, though, so keep on. I am pleased to say that the series of troubles is over for the moment. My family is enjoying a reprieve from spiritual and physical battles. My husband has accepted a career change that included a relocation to Kentucky.

Everything seems so new and fresh (and 15 degrees cooler). We have been blessed with a small town in the mountains full of friendly people. Autumn is bringing crisp air, changing colors, and a whole new beginning for us. I’ll post more about our adventure in getting here later.

Right now, I want to pray for you. “Father, I want to lift up this reader to you. You know what they are going through and you know exactly what they need. Bless them with, strength, direction, and endurance. Let them experience Your presence and fullness of joy. In Jesus’ name, Amen”

Why I’m a MOPS Mommy

Years ago, I gave birth to the wildest adventure I’ve ever known: my precious son. I have been perpetually tired since the day he was born. I laugh, I cry, I nap. Some of you know what I’m talking about. Just saying the word “boys” makes you tired. Now I’m not saying girls are easy, I’m just saying that boys are…wide open, loud, non-stop, 90mph whirlwinds of sticky, smelling, bug-collecting, stomping, free-for-all, stop every now and then to kiss you then drive you up the wall, buckets of joy.

He came early and had to be nursed or fed every 2-3 hrs. By the time I nursed, diapered, swaddled, pumped, cleaned everything, and set up for the next round it was time to do it all over again. Ya’ll remember those first moths of sleep deprivation. I was tired all the time. Exhausted, really. Even though my doctor said it is harder for moms to bounce back when they are “older first timers” I was still beating myself up a little about it. I wanted so badly to enjoy every second. I figured, I’ll rest later. Later came and he was crawling, then walking, then running! You get the picture.

Little-boy wrangling, family obligations, home keeping, Church obligations…the world kept spinning while I grew more and more tired. I felt old. I felt worn out. Did I say I felt, old? Old. Really, really old. I felt a little awkward at library day- the other moms were SO much younger than me. I didn’t know it at the time but I had let myself get withdrawn and just a tad bit depressed.

Then it happened. One of the other moms at library day invited me to a Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) meeting. Yeah right… a room full of barbie dolls half my age with their perfect little outfits and their perfect little children with no stains or sticky stuff. I was not interested. No way. It seemed like just one more thing to make me feel pressured and inadequate. Since I told her I would think about it, I did. My son is virtually an only child (his teen-age half-siblings no longer live with us) and a homeschooler, I thought being around other kids his age would be good for him. I went for him.

The kids were downstairs and the moms were upstairs at a local church. I felt so insecure. They were all a good bit younger. The voices in my head were saying I wouldn’t fit in but they were so sweet. Everyone was so friendly. Over the next few meetings, I realized they weren’t perfect little moms. Nope, not at all.  They had in-a-hurry pony tails, tired eyes and yucky stains too. The screaming from the children’s area assured me their kids weren’t perfect little tikes either. They were…like me. They were a lot like me. That was two years ago.

Since then, I have developed friendships with some of the most beautiful, caring ladies on the planet. We have laughed, cried, played, and learned together. My son has playmates and playdates galore. This fall I will be assuming a small leadership position within the group. I am so excited to attend the international convention in August.

I am still tired. Are you kidding? The older he gets, the faster and stronger he gets! I am no longer isolated. I am not withdrawn. I know I’m not alone. As women, we are as diverse and unique as we can be. As moms, though, we share the same joys and struggles. We understand each other. We have a sisterhood that strengthens us.

MOPS, is an international organization dedicated to supporting, nurturing, educating, and empowering moms through community building. Their mission statement reads, “MOPS International exists to encourage, equip and develop every mother of preschoolers to realize her potential as a woman, mother and leader in the name of Jesus Christ.”  There are local chapters virtually everywhere. Their web page has a group locator and super resources for every single kind of mom. Even the old and tired ones, like me.

I encourage  you to give it a try. You may be busy, you may be shy, but you just may change your life!  Are you a part of a MOPS group? Have you thought it wasn’t for you? Why? Share your stories with me. Moms don’t let other moms mother alone (yeah, I had to work in the slogan somehow).

Feeling…crunchy? When You Have A Bad Day

Do you ever have days when you feel like this?

You know, the kind of day that overwhelms you. One that makes you feel attacked. Consumed. Crunched on. Maybe it’s a week, a month or even a season. Do you ever feel like circumstances are chewing you up and spitting you out?

I’ve been going through one of those seasons lately. It seems like stress and challenges are coming from every direction. Some days my husband and I look at each other with the “how much more can we possibly take?” look. While this is season is not yet over, I have learned a few things going through this difficult time.

  • Some things are just plain out of my control. Can’t fix it, can’t eliminate it, can’t do squat about it. I can; however, PRAY. I can pray for grace to accept it, mercy to deal with my frustrations, peace to let go of trying to control it, strength to endure it, and patience until it gets better.
  • Complaining only makes it worse. Sure its good to vent every now and then but getting stuck in an ungrateful, grumbling attitude is what got the Hebrew children stuck in the wilderness for forty years. I do not want to get stuck here! I want to move on to better times. I have to purpose my speech and my attitude to be one that God can bless.
  • It won’t last forever. Circumstances always change. Life never stands still. I will get through it. One step in front of the other and one day at a time, I will move through this season on to the next.  
  • Take care of myself in the meantime. Eat nutritiously. Get adequate sleep. Read uplifting spiritual material. Limit negative influences (TV, gossip, etc.) when possible. I must treat my body and mind well if I expect it to carry me through seasons of trial. 
  • Lighten up. Laugh. Be silly. Count my blessings. Appreciate the love and beauty in each moment. Sometimes I just have to get out of my head and into the present moment. I can enjoy life even when it is trying. I just have to look and try a little harder in the difficult days.  
How do you cope with difficult times? What are some of the ways you keep yourself from sinking into despair? Do you laugh in the face of adversity or do you grit your teeth and bear it? Share with me. Lets grow together.

Learning to Lighten Up

For the past two months my life has been consumed with doctor appointments. Everything is fine.  No, everything is WONDERFUL because I do NOT have breast cancer.  (I wanted to lead in with that right off the bat so you wouldn’t be worried.)  During this time of driving an hour back and forth to the hospital (four separate mammograms, an ultrasound, a MRI, a MRI assisted biopsy, and ultimately a lumpectomy) and waiting on test results from all these procedures I’ve learned a lot about myself and my faith.

When the doctors first stated that they suspected that I had cancer, I knew that with out any shadow of a doubt that I would be okay (okay as in NOT die). Don’t ask me how I knew, I just knew.  I guess that’s what faith is.  I had Psalms 118:17 deep down inside of me screaming “I will not die but live and declare the glory of the Lord.”

I distinctly remember standing at the kitchen counter.  The nurse called. She told me that I needed to come back for a “second look.”  She explained that the hospital’s machines were more powerful.  She told me there was a “suspicious spot.” I got off the phone.  I posted the appointment on the refrigerator.  I prayed – not a long prayer.  It wasn’t even a faith-filled prayer but it was an honest prayer. I said, “Lord, I just don’t want to go through this.” After awhile, the verse Matthew 28:20 came to me, “I am always with you.”  Thank you, Lord but I really wanted to hear John 19:30 “it is finished.” With that I knew that this would be something I would just have to walk through. Long or (hopefully) short, I was about to embark on a journey.

These were the things that went through my head in rapid-fire succession:

  • I don’t have time for this. I have Christmas shopping. I have MOPS meetings. I looked at my calendar (yes, for real) and justified the “I just don’t have time for this” mentality.  In my world if I don’t write it down – it does not exist.  Period. I have chores. I have homeschooling. Then BAM. Second thought…
  • I’m homeschooling.  How in the heck am I going to homeschool, clean the house, cook supper AND have cancer?  I mean, really, breast cancer means LOTS of doctor appointments.  Lots of medical bills. Bills we don’t have the money for right now. My hospital is an hour away.  Breast cancer means tests, surgery, chemotherapy. BAM again. Third thought…
  • Chemotherapy.  Wait, that makes you sick.  I don’t have time to be sick (yes the time thing again…I know, NO ONE has time to be sick…). Chemo makes you sick.  Chemo makes your…hair…fall out.  BAM. Fourth thought…
  • What if my hair falls out?  I’ve worked so hard to grow it out from years of a super-short pixie. It finally looks half-way decent.  I don’t want it to fall out. I took a deep breath and thought, well if it falls out, it falls out.  I’ll wear cute scarfs. What if my husband thinks I’m ugly? My husband…BAM. Fifth thought…
  • My husband.  What is he going to do? Is he going to be okay? This is going to be so hard on him. This is going to be especially hard on him.  It hasn’t been that long since we watched his mother wither and vanish before our eyes from cancer.  Can we even speak that word? (Another note: in my world if we don’t speak it, it doesn’t exist.) Will he be able to bear hearing that dreaded, fearful word? I whispered it, “cancer.” Nothing happened.
Every test just resulted in yet another test.  The doctor apologized, “cancer is usually so clear, black and white. Either it is or it isn’t but your case is different.” Well that’s of no comfort, I tell you. I just kept telling myself it would be okay- even if I had…swallow hard and whisper…cancer. I told myself it was just a word.  I would not fear a word used by doctors to describe a particular set of physical symptoms.  It was just a word. I repeated it in my mind and said it out loud, “it’s just a word.” I know a greater Word. His Word. THE WORD.  His word says by His stripes I am healed (1Peter 2:24). His word says He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases (Psalms 103:3).  His Word says I am more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37). His Word says it all works out for my good (Romans 8:28).
Test after test after test. My patience was growing thin. Christmas, then New Year’s, more tests.  I was still recovering from a surgery in November and felt my body getting weary from the traveling, the waiting, and the wanting it to be over so we could get on with our regular life. Finally the doctor recommended that I have a lumpectomy to remove a pre-cancerous radial sclerosis. My husband and I were actually glad- now we had a plan. We had a solution. Hopefully, we thought, we would have an end to this.
I had surgery last Thursday and after a very long weekend the nurse called. She said the pathology report showed no signs of malignancy.  Praise the Lord! She said they had removed the lump and surrounding tissue. I will have a post-op exam next week where I expect the doctor to say that this is indeed all over.
As I write this (ice pack on right breast, ibuprofen within reach) I have to admit that I just don’t know how people survive life without faith. It may sound corny, but it truly is “so sweet to trust in Jesus.” Life gets messy and sometimes we go though tough times.  My husband and I both had such a reassurance that no matter what we went though, it would all be okay.  We would adjust. We would overcome (Revelation 12:11).  We would triumph (2 Corinthians 2:14). We knew because God says so.

I’ve also learned that I’m WAY too tied up in defining my life by the tasks that I do.  I am not my schedule.  I am not my chores. I am not my dozen or so lists. While all my little organization tricks are great, they are just tools that I use. I spent the past two months just being with my family. Some of the chores were left undone, some of the items didn’t get checked off the list, we ate a lot of take-out, and you know what? The world did not fall apart. I let people help me and you know what else? It didn’t mean I was less of a wife or mother. Now these things may be common sense to you. For me it has been a huge revelation.

When you define yourself by what you do, 
you judge yourself by what doesn’t get done.
Now, I’m not going to use this as an excuse to get all sloppy and lazy…we can’t have total chaos afterall!

I am going to lighten up and 
keep trusting my wonderful Lord.

‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus

  1. ’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
    Just to take Him at His Word;
    Just to rest upon His promise,
    And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”
    • Refrain:
      Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
      How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
      Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
      Oh, for grace to trust Him more!
  2. Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus,
    Just to trust His cleansing blood;
    And in simple faith to plunge me
    ’Neath the healing, cleansing flood!
  3. Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
    Just from sin and self to cease;
    Just from Jesus simply taking
    Life and rest, and joy and peace.
  4. I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,
    Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
    And I know that Thou art with me,
    Wilt be with me to the end.





    How To Survive Loss During The Holiday Season

    You were expecting something more festive, right? I know, jingle bells and all…but tragedies don’t wait for convenient dates on the calender. Grief and coping with loss can be even more difficult when everyone else is celebrating.  I write this post hoping to help if you or someone you know is experiencing a loss or crisis.  It can be so hard but you can survive.  I know because I did…and this is part of my story.

    Last year between Christmas and New Year my unborn baby died. For several days our world stood still while we waited to see a heartbeat.  We had seen it just two weeks before- blinking like a Christmas tree light.  And then nothing, only silent stillness on a sonogram.  The last thing I remember before surgery was trying so hard not to sob and wondering what in the world had caused that sweet little light to quit blinking.  While everyone else was celebrating my husband and I were grieving.  For weeks after, we waited on negative test results to rule out a rare form of cancer. I want to share what I learned through the healing process. Maybe it can give you a little hope.  Or at least I want to let you know that you’re not alone.  Someone knows and cares that your heart is breaking.  I do and that’s why I’m offering what worked for me.  Use what you can and dismiss the rest.

    1. Allow yourself to grieve.  Forget the stiff upper chin.  You don’t get extra points for suffering in silence. It’s okay to show your hurt. Whether its death, divorce, or a pink slip: loss HURTS and pretending that it doesn’t helps no one. That being said, you can’t wallow in it forever either.  We had a private memorial service at Church one week after my surgery.  I let myself cry and mourn that week but had determined that once the service was over I WOULD BEGIN TO HEAL.  It’s important to allow yourself to move forward.
    2. Hit the autopilot button. I had a hard time dealing with people’s (mostly stupid) statements so I just went into robot mode and mechanically replied “thank you for your prayers” to whatever comment was offered.  I figure that most people don’t mean to be hurtful- they just truly don’t know what to say. Side note: if your loved one has a miscarriage DO NOT say things like “something was probably wrong with it anyway,” “at least you didn’t get to hold it,” or “did the doctor say what you did wrong?” Just say “I’m sorry for your loss.  I’ll be praying for you.” 
    3. Quit asking “why.”  Talk about it with a friend or a professional but don’t get stuck in the “why” stage. There may be a medical reason that can physically help you; however, there is no emotionally acceptable or comforting answer.  Bad things happen.  Very bad things happen and trying to make sense out of the senseless only tortures you and prolongs your pain.  I remember crying out to God.  I didn’t get a reason why but I did get reminded that He knew exactly how it felt to lose a child. 
    4. Resume your daily routines- whether you feel like it or not.  Staying engaged is essential to keep short term grief from turning into long term depression. Shower, eat, work, exercise.  Don’t give up on life just because you’re hurting.  Don’t give up on God, either- even if your faith is wavering.  Keep plugging along.  Keep moving forward.  Baby steps count! You’ll get a little bit stronger and better everyday. You will get better.
    5. Realize that you won’t ever get over it but you will move past it.  There is a difference. It is vitally important to remember that while the feelings of loss and sadness will remain, the intense pain will one day subside.  Don’t feel guilty for beginning to get better, for enjoying others, and life again, or for growing beyond the grief. Life never stands still.  Everything changes: the good, the bad- it all moves along. 

    Every one’s process and time is unique.  Don’t push yourself too fast or too hard.  Don’t beat yourself up- for feeling bad or for feeling good.  Emotions vary- it’s normal.  If you think you are not getting better or if you ever think about harming yourself or others, PLEASE GET HELP.  Your pastor, doctor, or mental health care center can direct you to available resources.

    Over the past two years my husband and I have experienced several losses. I still cry a little sometimes. I am still healing.  I’m still growing. You will too.

    How To Survive Loss During The Holiday Season

    You were expecting something more festive, right? I know, jingle bells and all…but tragedies don’t wait for convenient dates on the calender. Grief and coping with loss can be even more difficult when everyone else is celebrating.  I write this post hoping to help if you or someone you know is experiencing a loss or crisis.  It can be so hard but you can survive.  I know because I did…and this is part of my story.

    Last year between Christmas and New Year my unborn baby died. For several days our world stood still while we waited to see a heartbeat.  We had seen it just two weeks before- blinking like a Christmas tree light.  And then nothing, only silent stillness on a sonogram.  The last thing I remember before surgery was trying so hard not to sob and wondering what in the world had caused that sweet little light to quit blinking.  While everyone else was celebrating my husband and I were grieving.  For weeks after, we waited on negative test results to rule out a rare form of cancer. I want to share what I learned through the healing process. Maybe it can give you a little hope.  Or at least I want to let you know that you’re not alone.  Someone knows and cares that your heart is breaking.  I do and that’s why I’m offering what worked for me.  Use what you can and dismiss the rest.

    1. Allow yourself to grieve.  Forget the stiff upper chin.  You don’t get extra points for suffering in silence. It’s okay to show your hurt. Whether its death, divorce, or a pink slip: loss HURTS and pretending that it doesn’t helps no one. That being said, you can’t wallow in it forever either.  We had a private memorial service at Church one week after my surgery.  I let myself cry and mourn that week but had determined that once the service was over I WOULD BEGIN TO HEAL.  It’s important to allow yourself to move forward.
    2. Hit the autopilot button. I had a hard time dealing with people’s (mostly stupid) statements so I just went into robot mode and mechanically replied “thank you for your prayers” to whatever comment was offered.  I figure that most people don’t mean to be hurtful- they just truly don’t know what to say. Side note: if your loved one has a miscarriage DO NOT say things like “something was probably wrong with it anyway,” “at least you didn’t get to hold it,” or “did the doctor say what you did wrong?” Just say “I’m sorry for your loss.  I’ll be praying for you.” 
    3. Quit asking “why.”  Talk about it with a friend or a professional but don’t get stuck in the “why” stage. There may be a medical reason that can physically help you; however, there is no emotionally acceptable or comforting answer.  Bad things happen.  Very bad things happen and trying to make sense out of the senseless only tortures you and prolongs your pain.  I remember crying out to God.  I didn’t get a reason why but I did get reminded that He knew exactly how it felt to lose a child. 
    4. Resume your daily routines- whether you feel like it or not.  Staying engaged is essential to keep short term grief from turning into long term depression. Shower, eat, work, exercise.  Don’t give up on life just because you’re hurting.  Don’t give up on God, either- even if your faith is wavering.  Keep plugging along.  Keep moving forward.  Baby steps count! You’ll get a little bit stronger and better everyday. You will get better.
    5. Realize that you won’t ever get over it but you will move past it.  There is a difference. It is vitally important to remember that while the feelings of loss and sadness will remain, the intense pain will one day subside.  Don’t feel guilty for beginning to get better, for enjoying others, and life again, or for growing beyond the grief. Life never stands still.  Everything changes: the good, the bad- it all moves along. 

    Every one’s process and time is unique.  Don’t push yourself too fast or too hard.  Don’t beat yourself up- for feeling bad or for feeling good.  Emotions vary- it’s normal.  If you think you are not getting better or if you ever think about harming yourself or others, PLEASE GET HELP.  Your pastor, doctor, or mental health care center can direct you to available resources.

    Over the past two years my husband and I have experienced several losses. I still cry a little sometimes. I am still healing.  I’m still growing. You will too.