Friday, January 13, 2017

Dream a little dream with me...

Ever have a recurring dream? You know the one that haunts you. Sometimes you fear sleep because it might show up again and you have no control over it?

When I am not fighting with insomnia and am able to sleep- I dream a lot. Mostly dreams where I am terribly frustrated or where I am trying to accomplish too much in too small a time. I'm a mother of three pre-teen girls...that is what I do! But recently, I have been experiencing this really annoying recurring dream that I have been fighting with since I was a child. It is so annoying that insomnia seems like a far better annoyance to deal with. I never thought I would prefer insomnia to anything.

It always begins with me sitting in my childhood bed. I am trying to straighten the covers. My parents enter my dream and stand at the end of my bed. This is sort of strange because they have been divorced since I was three and my dad is now deceased. They are fighting about whatever is worrying me. The more they argue- the messier my covers become. The more I pull at the covers, the louder they fight and the bed gets in complete shambles.

Sometimes the dream shifts and I find myself in a cave or tunnel that I cannot free myself from. Like a giant slinky that gradually becomes smaller and smaller until I find I cannot move or breath. This is when the panic starts to set in.

The end of the dream always turns to water. I am an excellent swimmer and so the idea of drowning seems absurd. Even in my dream, I can hear my father yelling, "you cannot drown! You are a great swimmer!" Still, I struggle until I am too tired to fight it anymore and I drown. This is the point when I finally wake up. My heart racing. Sweat pouring down my back and my chest aching as I have been holding my breath.

I hate that dream.

I am going out on a limb here but it may have something to do with anxiety. Ya think?

Monday, January 2, 2017

Lost Lost Lost...I've Lost My Marbles

I've never liked admitting my weakness. I mean--who does? But in all seriousness, it is utterly painful for me to admit that I am weak or that I lack faith in my BIG God. Recently, I have had to admit that not only am I terribly weak and have a great need for my BIG God, but also my faith in His love for me was weak too.

Kind of a dark period for me. I even had a friend say, "But I thought you were a worship leader." Not my best moment when I responded, "Whoever gave you the idea that a worship leader would never struggle with their faith?" Her response was, "you".

One of my very favorite movies is Hook. There is a funny scene where Toodles, now an old "Lost Boy", is searching all over the ground for something and repeating over and over, "Lost, lost, lost..." Peter (Robin Williams), visibly disturbed, asks him what he is looking for. Toodles' reply struck me so funny that I have never forgotten it: "I've lost my marbles." Even writing this makes me smile. He had actually lost his "happy thoughts" which were marbles but we can see that his mind was fleeting as well.

His loss was painful. How often I have felt that pain, particularly now. I've lost something really important (like, I don't know... my mind?) and I haven't any idea where I put it or how to get it back. Loss is rough; it's a painful reminder of our incredible weakness, but it can also be a reminder of God's incredible strength.

God has this crazy way of speaking to me through pain and weakness. Pain drives me to ask the dark questions that I pretend don't bother me when all is well. I am kind of a strong person physically. I have almost always been able to push though and get the job done (complaining the entire time, but still, I can get through it). The last couple of months have been filled with so much pain, self-questioning, self-doubt and grief that there were times I didn't want to get out of bed in the morning. This time, I was finding it difficult to push through the pain. Very disturbing to my friends and family. My friends were telling me it was no big deal and to just get over it. My Mother suggested that I go to the doctor for medication, my sister suggested Biblical Counseling, and my husband just prayed and prayed and prayed.

Nothing could shake this feeling of uselessness, self-hatred, and insecurity, constantly thinking that the loss of our ministry was reflective of the way God felt about me. I turned to the Bible. I studied every passage on joy I could find. I studied about forgiveness. I studied about God's steadfast love. Yet, nothing seemed to pull my mind from the idea that I was useless.

We go to a church where the service always ends with "You Are Loved". Now, I know this is meant to encourage the church. They are loved... greatly loved. They need to know God loves them. But that message was not for me, it was for them. Oh, how those words have plagued me. Every time I would see them, I was completely deflated. How could anyone love a failure like me? After all, even God must think I am useless since we were no longer serving Him. I could take not leading worship, but not serving anywhere? No ministry at all. My hands idle and completely useless. Just going to church, listening to the sermon and going home.

Psalm 42:7 says that deep calls to deep. The lows were so low that when a bit of joy would come my way breaking through the terrible darkness, I would almost burst. Oh, the poor people who have experienced this erratic behavior; they were probably thinking I'm a crazy lunatic. I was just torn in two directions and I could not reconcile it. I know that as a believer in Jesus, I have certain promises that I can be confident of. Promises like, "I will never leave you or forsake you" or, "You are mine" or, "Nothing can pluck you from My hand." I know what God's Word says. My lack of faith made me feel even more worthless. I was in deep and the waves were crashing over my head.

A couple of weeks ago, I started to will myself back to reality, pushing myself to kick the darkness away. This had gone on too long, and it was time to snap out of it, if not for myself, for my children who were watching. I started to cling to the idea of joy again. Choosing joy. Knowing joy. Joy to the freaking world! But again the knowledge that I was a failure still edged the back of my mind, reminding me that I had failed at serving God.

But God... I needed that moment when I remember that God really does love me and will use all of this to make something great. I'm not sure of the exact moment, but I guess I can see a light at the end of this terribly dark tunnel. There is hope. God has a purpose in this loss, and it was not to tell me I was useless. It is all for His glory. I think I can say that for everyone who has struggled like this, there is hope, you are loved and God is good.

This hope does not come from flippant words run across a cold screen. Hope began to rise when I finally let go of all my striving to push through the pain and recognize that His strength is enough. I started to understand Psalm 103 as a beacon of hope from my great and wise God. A God who forgives, heals, redeems, crowns us with steadfast love and mercy, satisfies. He knows my name, my nature, my heart and mind. This lack of faith was not a surprise to Him. When I question His love for me, I am not failing Him. I am proving Him. Because He never fails. His strength, kindness, love never fail. Never.

There is the hope I have been looking for. Hope is a beautiful thing. His purpose is good. His will perfect. Even when I cannot see over the next hill to the beautiful valley below. There can be great comfort knowing the very character of God is love. He loves us so much He humbled Himself and came to die a painful, humiliating, shameful, horrific death to pay for my own disobedience. How small my loss seems in the light of my Savior's beautiful love. His mercy. His grace. His love.

I may be a failure in the standards of the world... but God. This is not a failure. My God had a purpose for my good in this loss and most importantly His glory. If the only thing was to teach me that He does not fail- Ever.

I may have found my marbles in two little words. But God.

If you have a minute- listen to Set My Heart by Vertical Church Band. This song just speaks my heart. Maybe it will minister to you too.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

What's Next, Lord?

So this morning, I was checking my Twitter feed and there was a blog post by my husband, Russ ( It revealed some recent sad news for my family and our church. As I read what he wrote, I started to think about my long forgotten blog. I haven't posted on my blog in so long, I literally wondered if it was still active. After an arduous search and panic over passwords and I am. It took me a minute to try and think of how to start fresh on my blog. What would I write about if I were to start over. Here we go. I'm sort of at a fork in the road-if you get what I mean. The road is diverging all over the place and I'm sort of lost. Two weeks ago, my church asked for my resignation. This was not a huge surprise. God had been pressing on me to resign since last May. I had sought counsel from several different sources and they all said the same thing, "I think you know what you need to do. You just need to do it." That was all well and good but I knew best-right? I kept saying, "The Lord will show me when it's His timing". At the time God was practically tap dancing on my head that it was time to leave but still I tarried. What would happen to my kids if we left? What about all of our commitments at our church? What about the congregation, I had grown to deeply love over the years? The friends we cherish dearly and the hope of serving together for years to come. The list of "what-about" went on and on. The situation was becoming more and more obvious but I am, unfortunately, a disobedient coward. Note the self-loathing... So, I was not shocked or surprised by the call for a meeting on a Sunday evening at 5. In fact, I prayed on the way that the Lord help me to graciously accept His sovereign will over the situation. As I left the meeting- more than somewhat deflated and (let's be honest here) totally annoyed-I was assuring myself that this was all in God's will and plan. Easy words to say to someone else, but a whole different story when it is your life, a ministry you loved, your church family...all disappearing in the distance as we drove away from the church for the last time. And regardless of knowing the time had come- it still hurts deeply to walk away without saying goodbye. Our entire family was involved in ministry there, which compounds the loss. My husband learned to play drums and run a sound board. My girls have helped in the nursery, setting up the coffee, playing piano, cleaning, vacuuming, scrubbing toilets, pulling weeds... you name it-we did it. My motto has been, "as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord wherever He needs us". And honestly, I still mean that. And as any good Homeschooling family would say- what can we learn from all of this? What was my part in it all and what do I need to repent of? I have seen what forced obedience looks, tastes, feels and smells like...I thinketh-it stinketh. Let's avoid that in the future, shall we? Clearly, it goes far deeper than just that, but I'll spare you the details and just offer this- he is still working on me. Thank God. So, what next? In the last three years, we have learned more about God's utter awesomeness! Pouring over His word, growing in our faith and trust of Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us (Ephesians 3:20. What a gift it is to know Him and love Him. Serving Him is ways I would have never considered. That is so cool. Seeing my daughters learn to love serving the Lord-wherever He needs us to serve. I've learned about true adoration, His beautiful worship. Singing like I never knew I could. Memorizing His word like I never knew I could. All for His glory. Psalm 34:8 Oh taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the girl who takes refuge in Him!...I may have changed that a bit to fit the situation!! ;) I've learned to lead others to Him through this crazy gift God gave me as a child. I've learned to faithfully serve Him. No more excuses. If I said I would be there- I will find a way to be there. All in all-The Lord gave me a chance to serve Him. It's been an amazing, painful, beautiful, mind-blowing experience. And I am so grateful. So, what's next, Lord. What's next?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Mesh all a MESS

Another bout of I blog. Will ya pray for me? I love starting a blog post like this. I have this friend who is constantly saying, "pray for me!!” -always in complete desperation of her situation. Not that it is a bad thing to need prayer- I think we all need it daily. But still, every conversation seems to breed a whole new prayer chain- it has sort of been a bee in my bonnet for a while. I find it very amusing that I am now taking a feather out of her book. This may be the Lord providing an opportunity for a little growth in my heart...maybe an attempt to build a little more compassion a friend. I humbly ask...If you pray...will you think of me? Here's why. Last May I had surgery to correct a pretty significant hernia in my belly. I have experienced chronic pain and several serious infections ever since. Last week, I woke up to another infection along the incision line. My entire lower abdomen was bright red and just plain gross. It really scared me as the last time it had gotten that infected; I ended up in the hospital for several days. This time, I wasted no time getting to an ER doctor for some antibiotics. I then made an appointment for my family doctor to see if I needed to get a second opinion about the whole thing. I mean really... how much more of this can I take? It has almost been 8 months since this saga began. My family doctor told me not to get a second opinion because doctors will play the blame was the other one's fault... and then I may be in pain for the rest of my life. He said, "Go back to the man who did this to you and tell him to fix it". So that is exactly what I did. Yesterday, I saw the surgeon again. He is a very kind man and I respect him greatly. He looked at my belly and became pretty grave. This has to be the scariest thing someone could go through. You know that old expression- the eyes are the window to the soul. I totally get that! He basically told me that there may be an issue with the meshing they used in the hernia repair and that he may need to remove it and then use a biological meshing instead. Then he said some magical words... abdomen other words a medically necessary tummy-tuck. He said that the excess skin around my abdomen may be causing extra drag against my incision and could be part of the issue. He said that if they did a new repair it would benefit healing to remove the excess skin. Clearly I have some serious skin issues on my belly. Let’s be honest here- after having bariatric surgery I lost a lot of weight and there is just no way around the skin issues. So I had pondered a tummy-tuck once or twice...ahem... But I guess I never thought I would really be able to afford to do it. So I put it into the "someday I wish upon a star" category. I never thought the decision would be sort of made for me in this way. Sort of a blessing in disguise but the reality is; it is still major surgery. So I went from just imagining life without the extra 30 lbs of hanging skin to facing the reality of weeks of pain and suffering that come with this kind of surgery. I'm not sure I am up for it. In a couple of hours I am scheduled to have a CAT scan on my belly to see if this mesh is infected and I guess to plan a course for my surgeon. And I cannot sleep- so I cling to the promises of God. If you are the praying sort and feel led to do so...will ya pray for me? I could really use it. 1 Peter 5:7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Philippians 4:4-9 4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Insomnia and the thankful soul

Insomnia is not always the curse that it seems on the surface. I mean- it really does suck and all but there are some redeeming things about it. The first one that I can think of is there is some valuable alone time for me. It is rare that I ever have a moment alone so I will embrace this in spite of the fact that it really sucks. So on Sunday, our church had the once a month communion service. It is always a time that I personally cherish. It is really cool to have that time to just reflect on the Lord. I love it. Recently, Russ and I started going to the early service our church offers. It seems better for our schedule because our small group meets shortly after the second service but there is a little snafu- our church is very new and so there is no Sunday School or the older kids during the first service. This week our oldest daughter, Maddie, was with us for the first time during a communion service as there was no Sunday School. At our old church, communion was emphasized as a weekly thing (the Christian Church)and all of the kids were insturcted frequently on the meaning and importance of Communion (pretty cool!). So our Maddie knew exactly what to do. That was very comforting because I didn't need to explain anything... she had it. Awesome! So we prayed and went to get our bread and juice together. It was one of those special moments as a parent that we all love; seeing your child understand Communion, understand a part of the Lord. It is really amazing to me to see my children grow up before my eyes. One moment they are laying on my chest and need me for everything and the next thing I know they are making their own decisions and finding their way in this scary world. In some ways I celebrated this sort of rite of passage and in another I was shaken. How my girls are growing way too fast. What an incredible gift it is to be a parent. I am thankful. See, now this is what insomnia is all about for me...I have time to really reflect on what a wonderful life it is that I have been given. That's really something.

And so it begins...sourdough

Well I'm sure this post will be all kinds of boring. I mean really- who wants to read about sourdough? But here we are. So I promised that there would be pictures. I mean to deliver. I have been meaning to post this for a long while but life got in the way... C'est la vie... Now it is 2:00 in the morning and again I cannot sleep... so with a glass of wine in my hand and a cookbook on my lap- I blog. :) I have no pictures right now, but don't judge me... I am a Mom of three and it's 2:00 in the morning! It started out all well and fine. Flour, yeast, water...beautiful.It is important to remember temperature whenever dealing with yeast. Too cold will retard the yeast and too hot will kill it. So keep it warm to the touch about 105 to 115 degrees. I use a thermometer to be sure but I have been told by several different sources that you can just tell by touch. Well...I guess I don't trust enough. Ha! Here is the recipe that I used and surprise surprise... it came right out of my Southern Living Cookbook~Best wedding present ever!! Thank you, whoever you are! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Sourdough Starter -1 pkg active dry yeast -1/2 C. Warm Water (105 to 115) -2 C. Flour -3 Tbs. Sugar -1 tsp. Salt -2 C. Warm Water -Starter Food Instructions!! -Combine yeast and 1/2 C. Warm Water in a cup. Let stand for 5 minutes. -Combine Flour, Sugar and Salt in a med sized glass or ceramic bowl (stir well). Stir in 2 C. Warm Water. Add Yeast mixture and mix well. -Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place for 72 hours, stir 3x a day. Place fermented mixture in fridge and stir once a day. Use within 11 days. -To Use: Remove sourdough starter from fridge and let stand at room temp for an hour. -Stir starter well and measure amount of starter needed. Replenish remaining starter with Starter Food and return to the fridge. Use within 2 to 14 days. Whenever you use the starter- use replenish procedure again. Starter Food 1 C. Flour 1 C. Water 1 tsp. Sugar -Stir all ingredients into remaining Sourdough Starter.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Love Blindness

Two years ago I had gastric bypass surgery. It was not an easy decision to make and there were many people in my life that were against it. Just moments before I went into surgery I met this kind of crazy guy who told me something I have never forgotten, he said, "You are no longer a fat person. When you leave this place you are no longer a fat person. There will be people in your life that will always think of you as a fat person and won't be able to stand the change. Let go of the people who only saw fat and embrace the ones that have always loved you for you." Although I thought what he said was so nice, I couldn't help but question. I mean, my friends all loved me for me. Right? Everyone was going to be happy for me as I began my life as a normal sized person. At least that was what I thought.
After a few months of weight loss, I would post pictures of myself onto Facebook. The compliments as well as the questions started flying in. I was loving it. People were happy for me. The resistance I had felt prior to my surgery was over and now I could enjoy my new journey to a healthy life.
Then Russ and I took the girls to the Happiest Place on Earth. Four months after my surgery, we were at Walt Disney World (WDW). I had dropped 50 lbs and was already feeling smaller. I was just under 300 lbs at the time but I was able to fit in my airplane seat without a seat belt extender and that was amazing. One of the days at WDW, we visited the Country Bear Jamboree. I have vivid memories of that place as a child and thought nothing of bringing our girls there. Once the show got started I noticed that there was a very large bear that the other bears kept making BIG jokes about. Oh boy, I did not expect that. I kept thinking of my daughters watching this and was imagining what they would be thinking. Did they know their mother was one of the largest people in the room. Would they be ashamed of me? How would this effect their own self image. It really bothered me and honestly, I lost a lot of respect for WDW.
As the months went on, I discovered that I was pregnant. This was happy but alarming too. What would happen to the baby? I was just at the beginning of my weight-loss journey and now they wanted me to gain 25 to 30 lbs. But I continued to grow smaller and my pregnancy was actually very healthy. My baby was born with no complications and was even over due! No gestational diabetes just Joy! An added bonus-with my other pregnancies, no one knew I was pregnant until I was just about to deliver. Not this time- I had a perfect little baby bump and I loved it. Here is a picture of me in 2005 with my first pregnancy.
Here I am in 2011 with my last pregnancy... wow. After I had my beautiful baby my body started to change into a normal sized person. I was wearing a size 16 and then a 14 and now a 12. Still, I look in the mirror and see a 350 lb woman. I have no idea what clothes to buy for myself or what would look good on my body. I struggle with this last 30 lbs that just won't come off while my husband tells me I am small enough. A little side note- My husband is such an encourager. Russ has never asked me to lose or gain a pound. He is my greatest fan and I am so thanful for him. His love for me is blind and my love is blind for him.
A couple of months ago, I attended a vow renewal for a friend who was married just days after I graduated from high school. There was a friend there who I had not seen in at least 15 years and I was very excited to visit with her. After the ceremony, she pretended not to know me. This was so upsetting to me that I cried for several days afterward. Why did she do that? We had been very good friends at one time- I was deeply hurt. A few weeks later at my 20th high school reunion, I discovered the reason. She was bothered by my weight loss and her own weight gain. What? I was floored. I had been looking forward to talking and catching up with a friend. But were we ever really friends? This is what that guy had warned me about. There would be people in my life that would always see me as a fat person and relish in it. Those people enjoyed being not as bad as that one. What a terrible thing to do. I started to notice comments of the people in my life. It breaks down like this; 1. Friends that do not notice you have lost any weight. 2. Friends who notice a weight loss but just say, "You look great" or "You look so different". 3. "Friend" that cannot stop talking about how much weight you have lost. The first set of friends, I think are the real friends. They are the ones who loved me and never saw the extra layers of fat they just saw me. I think that is kind of a special love blindness. The other two categories make me a little nervous and are the ones I find it difficult to trust. I think the world hates fat people. They look at a fat person and can only see the extra pounds and the heavy breathing. Or maybe they see something that they do not like in themselves and it is comforting to say, "At least I'm not as bad as her!". They rarely look at the person before them who is in a struggle just like they are-they just can't hide it because they are wearing it. I am so thankful that I was able to lose this weight but not just to fit into what society deems beautiful. I am thankful because I can breathe again, I can run up stairs and I can sleep at night. I chase my kids and can fit into small spaces without fear of getting stuck. It is a new life for me and for my family. That extra 170 pounds was killing me- slowly but surely. Losing so called friends...well there is a little bit of saddness there. I loved my friends in spite of their flaws. I'm sort of grateful for the experience as now maybe I will have compassion for my fellow man. We are all fighting our own battles and we are all venerable in our own ways. Love is blind they say...well, I have to agree. We could all use a little Love-Blindness.