Hello, This is Me

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Hello
this is me
today i am
tired
a tired that is in my bones
and my soul
a tired
that
makes it hard to smile
hard to walk
to think
to write
to read
to want.

Hello
this is me
I love God
I love Jesus
but I am tired
I have no desire for life
not to say I will stop it
just to say
that I do not want to do
anything
not because i am lazy
not because i do not care
but that i am tired.

My chest is heavy
as if my heart were stone
I feel far from light
even as I sit in the sun
far from people
even as I force myself to be out
to shop
and to do.
I feel alone
but know that I am not.

I know that my Lord
Creator and Lover of my soul
is here
with me
right now.
Loving me.
And I bask in that.
I tip my heart to Him
and let Him love me
as I am
tired and heavy.

I have hope that this will pass.
These feelings are not me
but they are a facet
just as a diamond has many facets
so does this person
and I am His
His jewel.

So I do my best today
do my best
to live
constantly talking to my Lord
because He gets me
He knows me
He loves me
and He doesn’t judge me.
He is my biggest fan,
doting Father
valiant warrior
loving protector
keeping the lies at bay.

hello
this is me
and I am His
not matter what.

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Sunday, Hulk Smash!

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There is nothing like a Sunday morning
for the Christian family.
Bible Study nights may come to a close second.
It is when legends of werewolves come to a reality.
When man or woman suddenly turns to beast.
No doubt there is a spiritual war going on.
Invisible to us, light and dark always fighting.
One to protect.
The other to destroy.
Add our own weaknesses to the mix
and we may be in for a dynamite morning
of hulk vs werewolf.
Add anxiety to the mix and nasty fireworks come flaming down
stinging everyone in the process.

This morning was such a morning.
The promise of a wonderful meal after church
will encourage attendance and a joy of upcoming fellowship for many
but for the person with anxiety
it becomes a cloud of doom and gloom hanging over every thought
that is linked to church for the entire week prior.
Meeting with people equals talking with people.
These are wonderful people.
Wonderful people I am admiring more every week.
People I want to know.
I want to know their stories,
their heart’s passions and their struggles.
And yet I am isolated by distance
and by anxiety.
As much as I want to know them,
as much as I want to be free of these chains
like in the songs we sing,
here they are…
linking my mind
tugging me back
binding me
tightening around my every thought.

So when my dear son comes to me with a question
of wanting his allowance I supposedly owe him,
I blow up.
I accuse him of being greedy.
After all it is Sunday,
what would he want to do with his money on a Sunday?
I do calm down
and tell him that I too struggle with such greed.
I tell him I see that he can be very generous
but he often wants more and more for himself as well.
I tell him that he may think we have tons of money
but in fact we do not.
I tell him many more things I do not remember,
gentling my voice
but feeling the anger build inside of me.

I finally walk away
grabbing my bible
which feels heavy and condemning in my hands
and stuff it in my bag.
I look at the clock and see that it is past the time we need to leave.
We will be late.
Again.
Even though we were up early.
Even though everything was ready.

I snap again.
Huffing and puffing.
Knocking things over,
slamming things down,
stomping my way through the house.
Tears blinding me.
Rage building inside me.
I stomp out to the van.
Slam the door.
and sit quietly
clenching teeth and fists.
I turn on the audio book we are listening to
just so no one will be tempted to speak.

My husband pulls out of the driveway
and I am seriously considering jumping out
and running back home.
I take out my van journal
and write to Jesus.
I write his name over and over again.
Seeking calmness.
I write and I pray.
I realize I blew up not because of my son
but again
because of this blasted anxiety.
The fear and tension I hold in every week.
Every social situation.
I was a smoldering wick alright!
And anxiety was gasoline.
All these raw emotions crackling through me
finally found vent and exploded.
Not for the first time.
Probably not the last.
But hopefully they will get fewer.

Because I am still fighting.
I want to be like Jacob
and grapple with God until I am blessed by him.
Because I am tired of this being my story.
I am tired of anxiety being my chains.

Jesus knows this is a fight for us.
It can be messy and painful.
Invisible to others but real to us.
A fight against brain chemicals,
habits, sin, past hurts,
and invisible demons.
A fight NOT to give in to anxiety.
A fight to say yes to God
and no to fear.
A fight to say NO to me
and yes to Him.
A fight to hear His voice
and know when to rest.
I want his peace.
He says it is here for me.
But I am struggling to understand it,
struggling to claim it,
struggling to live it.
But I can’t give up.
So I am hanging on to God.
Hanging onto Jesus.

As for my son…
when we got to the church parking lot.
I knew what I had to do.
I asked my family, especially my son,
to forgive my outburst.
I admitted something underneath my emotions
caused my outburst.
He quickly forgave me with a dimpled grin.
And as he walked me to the church door
he said “I wanted my allowance so I could give it to the church.”

Way to go Hulk Mama Werewolf.
Way to go.

Maybe next time,
I will bring it all to Jesus before turning green and seeing red.

 

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Defined

Anxiety and Depression
oh words that I hate
I do not want them to define me
And yet
they define so many of my actions
so many of my chains
my lack of action.

I want to help and be of use
I want to be free to understand
and use my gifts
when there is a need
I want to fill it
when my heart, mind and soul are feeling light
I am ready to shout YES to any request
[except cooking…]
But there are mornings, days or nights
hours, days, weeks or months
when the light goes out.
I am a wick flickering
a reed bending in the wind.

My head becomes full and heavy
my heart a stone in my chest
my soul dry.
I lay my head upon the Bible
I lay my head on the Word of God
and I rest in His lap.
He strokes my hair
and loves me.
He doesn’t forsake me.
He whispers truth into my ear.

I will not leave you.
You just have to wait.
You don’t even have to stand,
just stay here.
Wait in me.
Trust in me.
Rest in me.
I will give you strength again.
But it is ok right now
to be small.
Remember all I ask of you is that you believe
in the One I have sent.
And you are believing
and loving
when you lay your head right here.

The darkness comes
and words
even from the Bible
become like little daggers to my heart
showing me what I am not.
The wind howls and my light flickers
I am breaking
I can not stand
I can not see
I can not hear
truth or light.
Just dark and condemnation.
I assume everyone thinks the worst.

Oh but then comes that relief
sweet relief when
I once again see that I am not alone
but am at His feet
my head on His word,
His hand on my head.
His words covering me
protecting me
loving me.

I have not left.
I am right here.
Do not fret.
My will shall still be done
through you
because of Me,
just believe,
just love
just stay here.
With Me.

Oh Jesus,
My Jesus,
Oh God
My God,
In You is only where
I ever want to be.
In You
I am defined.

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Superstore Panic Attack

I went to the big grocery store today.
I usually go for a few items because
the lights are too bright,
the shelves are too stocked,
the choices are too many,
and the traffic more peopled.

I have felt panic in this store.
The Atlantic Superstore.
But as I walked in this morning,
I reflected that it had been a while since I had any sort of panic.
I was looking forward to getting my groceries finished.
And I was feeling confident in doing it.
Even thinking
“what was it about this place that bothered me so much”.

And then it began.
The produce section was filled with choices
and filled with people.
I tried to stick to my list and not get distracted.
I moved onto the baked goods section,
More people,
But I am doing ok.
I wonder and look for some new ideas for the kids’ lunches.
I make a few choices and move into the meat section.

Here my big cart feels like a bus
and every time I turn I either hit someone or a display.
“Clang”
“You drive like me” laughs an elderly lady.
I cant’ help but smile back,
glad I didn’t offend.
But inside I am thinking
“this is crazy!” There is no space to move in here.
Not only are there many other shoppers.
Half are in a hurry, huffing by with their little shopping carts like tiny locomotives
Half are standing still with the same glazed look in their faces as I have on…
Looking at choice after choice and price after price
trying to decide what to get.
Then there are those few that just do not know any one else is the store
and stand in the centre of everyone’s way.

I could have accidentally bumped them
but I didn’t.

It’s ok,
I tell myself.
I am doing this.
I am fine.
This is good.
I am good.
I breathe in and out
slow and steady.

I knock into a few more displays
Seriously
what is wrong with me!!

I play Canadian with some guy
“Go ahead..” I say, pulling my cart back
“Oh no, you go ahead” he says
“No you go” I smile
“Thank you” he steps up and as I am about to follow,
he steps back
“Actually I need to be there.”
Ugggh!!
Why do I have the Canadian Curse of Politeness and Apology!

I smile, gritting my teeth,
hearing my jaw click clacking.

I continue my inner dialogue.
It’s ok.
I am good.
I can do this.
I am doing this.
Breathe in.
Breathe out.
Keep going.

I make it down to the dairy section
and my breaths are coming faster.
I see the polite Canadian guy standing there
and my heart starts to pound a little harder.
He is just standing there.
Do I go around him?
In front of him?
I pass him, pretending to look at a wall of yogurt
in order to avoid eye contact.
God forbid we play another game of Polite Tag.

My breathing is coming fast.
In
Out
In
Out

slow down
I command myself.
Breathe.

I take my phone out and text my husband.
Hey
~hey
Are you able to talk right now? I just really need to hear your voice?
~I’m in the middle of something, but will call as soon as I’m done.
~K

Maybe when he calls
the sound of his voice will calm me.
Yes, that will help.
Just keep going.
I move on down the frozen isles.

This is ok,
I am still making good choices.
I can focus on my list.

I load the cart.
But my movements are slowing down.
My breathing getting deeper,
My chest tightening.

I go around the corner,
the cart is heavy to push,
my vision begins to blur,
my breath is coming faster.

Slow down.
Breathe slowly.
I duck my head as tears start to burn.
I clang into another display!

I go down the isle,
grabbing a few cereal boxes under $5.
that should do.
Come on,
you can do this.
Keep walking.
There are so many people.
On the left,
Before me, behind me.

My phone buzzes.
I answer
but I can’t answer,
nothing much comes out
just a whisper
as my breath is caught in my chest and is being squeezed out of me.
I am dizzy
I am seeing black..

“What’s up? Are you home” Nathan asks,
I somehow strangle out “superstore”
“ I’ll get a ride. I will be right there.”
“K”

Tears are finally making their way down my face.
I wish I had a hood on.
People are on all sides! I just need out of this isle!
But it is blocked.
I wait.
I wait some more.
Finally the way clears and I make it to the household section
where there is at least some more space and less people.

I want to fall down and curl up.
But that would bring attention.
I wipe my tears,
stuff them back inside.
Try to look like I am not having a panic attack.
My breathing is coming in quick snaps
and my chest is so tight it is painful.

Jesus
I whisper
Jesus.
I know He is there.
I know I will be ok.
It is sort of a calm panic.
But I don’t like it.
I want to leave.
But I will not leave my groceries.
Not after that battle!
This load is coming home with me!
I didn’t go through that for nothing!
So I stay
stay with one hand clamped to the cart
the other hand holding my phone,
watching the “find friends’ app progress
and seeing the dot move closer to me.
That is my husband.
He will be here.
He can take me to the van.
Protect me from being seen.
And he can stand in line and buy these groceries.
Sorry my Love.

I battle tears,
my body shakes,
I suddenly feel ferociously hungry,
my breathing continues.

I jump when he finally steps by me.
He wants to hold me
but I just need to go.
I tell him in between short sharp breaths that
I am not leaving these  groceries here,
he is going to have to stand in the insanely long line
after he deposits me in our vehicle.

I cling to his arm once we are out of the store,
I am so dizzy from my deep breathing
it is hard to see or focus on anything.
I feel near to collapsing.
He brings me to our van,
I slide in.
He turns the van on and blasts on the ac.
I am thinking distantly
“I don’t need that..”
when the wonderful cool air hits my face
and I find my body melt into it
and begin to relax.
My breathing slows.

He sits with me for a minute
but I send him in to get our groceries.
For about twenty minutes I sit
and let my body calm down.
My hands are shaking,
fingernails are blue,
My legs feel weak
and my chest feels like it has a bowling ball lodged inside of it.

But gradually,
as I breathe in that cool air,
I calm.
The shaking stops.
The chest pain falls away
and the tightness slowly loosens.
I am left feeling exhausted.
And hungry.

That was a panic attack.
At one time I would have felt great shame in it.
But recently my heart is coming to accept that I have anxiety.
Accepting it does not mean giving up.
But it does mean understanding that I have limitations.
Just as others do who have a sickness or disability.

This gradual perspective change
is what is bringing real healing into my mind.
My anxiety may not be healed,
but the way I view it can be.
I may feel embarrassed that my husband’s co workers may find out I had this happen.
Or that some people saw me on my way out of the store
looking like a wreck I am sure.
But there is no shame.

I faced it.
I called for back up.

What could I have done differently?
I could have left or shortened my trip
when I began to do methodical breathing.
I could have remembered to keep my emergency anxiety pills
with me and tried one of those out!
So maybe next time will be different.

But I feel somehow victorious today
as I recognized what was going on.
I also learned once again
that when we think we have beaten something,
that thing can sometimes come back in a heartbeat!
So being aware of our thoughts and reactions,
both mind and body,
is really important.
I thought I had beat the “Superstore Anxiety”.
But I didn’t.
And that is ok.
I will go back.
With a smaller cart.
A smaller list.
And I will be ok.

If I am not ok.
I will still be ok.
If you know what I mean.

In the meantime
I should probably practice deep breathing
so that I can learn how to not black out!

What’s the Point?

Love.
Jesus is Love.
God is Love.
Love.

Mercy.
Compassion.
Protection.
Life.
Hope.

Love.

Oh Jesus,
there are some days
when I feel no love.
when I feel no purpose.
an emptiness pervades.

what is the point.

when I compare to others
who are doing things
good and wonderful things,
some know you
some do not.
I am a dog with its tail between its legs.
Hiding away.
in shame.

But Love
lifts my chin gently
and warms me with its light
and says

you all have a purpose.
your purpose is to love.
and to be loved.
your purpose is to know your creator.
your purpose is to live in Me
limp in Me
scream in Me
laugh in Me
die in Me
live forever with Me.

For the love of Jesus
just be loved.

And step by unfurling step
love in return.

Before

My kids find it amazing and scary
to think of the time before they were here
before they lived.
One boy compares it to a tv that is turned off one moment
and then turned on
alive and in colour the next.

I open my Bible to one of my favourite verses
“Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.”
Psalm 139:16

Before one of us came to be
you knew us,
each of us,
individually,
from first to the last,
you knew us.
Those who would not make it to take a breath.
Those who would live to die young
Those who would live to die old.
You knew each and every one.
You know each and every one.

The graves we pass every day
may be grey and cold stone
faded and even unknown
but you know
each and every one
you knew them before they were born
and you know them even now
when they are dust.

It is good to be known.
So good to be seen.
To know we are loved.
To know we will not be forgotten.

God
Jesus
You created all of our souls
from unborn to old
past, present and future.
Not one is beyond you.
It is truly mind bending
beauty
to be so known.

All our days
ordained.

May everyone know
they are so precious
in your sight Lord.

May everyone know.

Amen.

Lifeblood of Hope

When the night enters in my mind
where do I go?
When the crush of fears
paralyze me
where do I go?
When the future seems too much,
much too much to bear
where do I go?

I turn to Hope.
It is more than a thing.
Living
Breathing
Moving.
It has a name.

When I am fearful of change.
Fearful for my kids.
When everything looks too dark
I turn to Hope.

Hope has a name.

Jesus
you are true.
Jesus
you are real.
Jesus
you are here.

Jesus
you are a warrior king.
Jesus
you are the gentlest friend.
Jesus
you are love
Jesus
you are the God
of all.

Jesus
here I am
trying to give it all to you.

Jesus
you are the lifeblood of my hope.

Staying In, Looking Up

Curled up on my bedroom floor
waiting for time to pass
is not what I desire from life.
But that is where I was a few evenings ago.
The day started out peaceful enough.
I walked my dog on a nice snowy morning
enjoying the fresh air
and laughing at the joy my dog
freely expressed as she romped and rolled in the snow.
But as the day went on,
as I went about my duties
of cleaning and cooking,
an emptiness settled in
as tangible peace and joy
trickled out.
Noticing my mood slip
and realizing the negative thoughts I was silently fighting,
I would stop my task and start praying.
Remembering scriptures
and trying to meet my thoughts head on,
trying to fight with truth.
I would clean and then stop and pray.
About 2 in the afternoon I felt prompted to put aside
all of my duties and pray.
So I prayed.
Out loud.
Starting with repeating the name of Jesus.
I prayed my thoughts
asked for strength
guidance
and purpose.
I prayed for protection against demonic influence
and lies
I prayed for brain chemicals to be realigned.
It felt good to talk to Jesus
out loud.
I felt some peace
some connection
but still as my boys came home from school
I had to stretch the smile across my face
and force myself to be present
even though my heart and mind
were feeling more vacant by the second.
By the time my older kids came home
I had given up
and went upstairs to sit on my bed,
for more prayer and solitude.
By the time my husband came home
I was a shell.
I could not interact with the children.
I could not meet my husband’s gaze.
I felt empty.
sad.
alone.
I tried fighting that
and continued to pray.
silently.
continued to write my prayers
and my thoughts.
But soon even words dried up.
Tears came and went.
But life seemed further away.
Fear that I will always be this shell entered.
My husband would come upstairs and sit with me
on the bed,
holding me if I allowed
and looking at me with concern.
I didn’t want him there
to see me so weak.
I hated the tears that would burn my eyes
and I hated the emptiness I felt inside.
As much as I didn’t want him to see me,
I didn’t want him to leave me.
But he needed to spend the evening with the children.

At one point in the evening as I sat curled on the bed
I imagined a cage
like an old circus cage for lions.
I was in it,
but the door was open,
and I was curled up in the furthest part
from the open door,
too tired to leave it myself.
When next my husband came to check on me,
he asked me if there was anything he can do.
I pictured the cage again
and felt prompted to say
“take my hand and lead me downstairs”.
I thought the words in my head,
but I did not say them.
So,
he left me again, reluctantly,
to go sit with our kids before their bed time.
I soon slipped from the bed to the floor.
Desiring a small and dark and cold place
to curl up and not exist.
I cried.
Then I just stared.
I do not even know if I slept
or if I just stared.
I just know I did not really exist.
I lay down
curled up on the floor.
Soon my husband came up again to check on me.

He knelt down and whispered gently
“do you know you’re on the floor?”
I nodded.
I sat up.
He took my arms and I stood.
I felt so vacant.
He held me.
I finally sat down with him beside me
and tried to put my emotions
and my emptiness into words.

Sometimes I just feel alone.
Even though I am surrounded by a family
who loves me and whom I love
Even though Jesus is in me
and I talk to Him
Even though I have no reason not to be joyful
I still struggle…

I am thankful these bad times tend to pass for me
instead of holding me in their grip for days on end.
Sometimes I am just tired and sleep will give me renewed strength.
But even on my good “lighter” days
there can be that unexplainable emptiness or sadness.
That aloneness.
A vulnerability that will have me crashing easily
and walking out of the house
in a desire to leave everything that aches behind.
But it comes with me.
It always comes with me.
I am just thankful that Christ is always with me.

Even when I choose to stay curled up in that cage
with the door wide open
He does not leave me.

I am on this journey
and I am trying to learn to love myself through it
To not live in the shame of this weakness.
After all,
if the Lord asks those who are strong to bear
with the failings of the weak
in Romans 15:1
then maybe
I can realize that I do have some strengths
but that I also have weaknesses
and instead of hating myself because of them
and feeling hopeless in them
I need to bear with myself
just as we are called to do for one another.
I need to be patient with myself
and continue to find strength in Christ.
In precious Jesus
who sees each of us with a clarity
that comes from a kindness and gentleness
and a fierce warrior love.

So my soul,
“Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise Him,
my Savior and my God.”
because He is not done with me yet.

Trapping the Dark

I stopped writing because I was sick of myself
tired of the negative me
wishing myself away.
I let those voices get the best of me,
those saying I have nothing but darkness to offer,
that people are tired of me,
that I will only end up staying where I am,
in my comfortable anxious box,
not allowing the world in.

But that is not true.

Well, some people may get tired of me,
I do not know.

But I was afraid that by writing about my anxiety and depression
I was somehow letting myself become identified by it alone
and would never move beyond it.

Well where did it get me,
listening to this judgmental voice?

In a dark place
with tape over my mouth
hands tied.
Prayers a groan of the spirit.

Somewhere along the way
I have let the armour of God fall off of me.
I began holding His sword,
the words of life,
with the wrong end,
inflicting harm
drawing blood,
using His words
against me.
Seeing only how short I fall
and never being able to rest in His love,
mercy
and
grace.

It is still a struggle
and one that brings confusion to me.
Because I compare.
I compare with people around me,
I compare myself to the word of God,
and the contrast is sharp.
Because I am broken.

Anxiety and Depression
are a reality for me.

But when I write,
I fight.
I put what is dark into the light
and keep praying and seeking
victory
and soul deep transformation
so that through this journey
He can shape me
piece by sometimes painful piece
into a Woman who is surrendered to Him
who fully loves, trusts and serves Him.

When I try to wrestle with my anxiety and depression
with only the dark voices leading me to do better,
I cast myself into a self made pit
and curl up
away from people who are brighter and stronger than I am.
You know,
those who say yes or step up when needed.
They love God
and serve others with joy.
I admire and envy their energy and their tenacity
knowing many have experienced greater suffering than I.

So,
I push myself away,
sink down
because I fear I am being selfish,
disobedient
and not loving by saying no.
I fear I am using anxiety and depression as an excuse.

That is what the dark voice says.
It is crafty and cunning
and sneaks in there.

I will seek God’s direction when faced with a decision
to do something that I know will challenge me mentally and emotionally
and when I hear or feel His leading
in one way or the other,
there is a process.

I will feel God’s peace,
a sense of strength
and clarity.
Almost as if He braces my very back bone
as he sends me in that direction.

But as soon as I begin to take the step forward,
that is when the voice enters.

If I am making a decision others will not understand
or will not like,
I am being selfish.
I am not loving.
The words of condemnation come softly pouring down
until I am muddled again and confused.

This is where relationship with Christ
has to meet with reading the word of God.
It is not enough to just read the bible,
nor would it be enough to hold a sword
without proper training.
I can know the basics of what I am supposed to do
but that does not mean I can do it all.
Or that I should do it all.
Just as,
holding a sword alone
would not enable me to fight an enemy.

In order to do any of it,
I need HIM.
I need His words of love and affirmation seared on my heart
my soul and my brain.
A foundational stance,
my feet secure,
my hands gripping the sword hilt.
I need His guidance,
that little or big nudge
to go in a direction.
The training to deflect blows
and the direction to give them.

I understand that
not everyone needs this type of
let’s say…
parenting.
And there are times I know it is ok if I make a decision without it.
But for many decisions in my life
because i walk a fine line of shaky mental health
I need it.

Not all teaching is going to benefit me.
Not all scripture is going to encourage me all the time.
And comparisons
slowly destroy me and my spirit.

I want to be liked.
But on a deeper level,
I think..
I do not want to be seen as lacking.
And yet I see myself as lacking every day I wake up.
I do not have a job.
It would be so anxiety inducing
I am not able to handle it at this point.
Some days it is like I have cotton filling my head
and it is hard to do basic things.
And then there are the times
I fear sharing my struggles
especially with Christians
because i will be met with
a
“Faith will beat all” or
“God promises to give you His strength” speech
while intentioned to be good and motivating
is akin to saying
“You are lacking in faith and knowledge of the word of God.”
You are lacking
Essentially
You are not enough.

It joins the dark voice in an oppressive chorus
until I am truly curled up like a dog
in a dark pit,
welcoming the rain that is slinging mud and water on top of me
covering me up
so that no eyes can see my misery.

There is truth in the words.
That is why it hurts.
And satan, the enemy of our souls
and his cohorts,
know this and they know how to wield it.

The truth is God does give strength.
And faith gives life and freedom.
God does indeed help us
and he WANTS to help us to really live and love.

But I can not live someone else’s faith walk
or live upon their understanding and heart knowledge
or their relationship with God.

What may be slow and broken to them
is a work of ongoing healing for God.
When I do not let these voices in,
I am at peace.
Even when faced with difficult decisions and tasks,
even faced with anxiety and fatigue,
if I walk with God and am able to hold the dark voices,
and perceived or not perceived notions of others
at bay,
then I find strength, peace and life.

But for the Anxious One to do this alone,
it is impossible.
Because we are weak.
We not only need to be constantly talking to God
and listening to Him,
seeking to rest in Him,
but we need people in our lives who understand
and can built us up in truth
and help us to fight the dark voices.

Oh if only I can truly
wake every morning
and trust every second of the day
that there indeed is
“NO condemnation for those who
belong to Christ Jesus,
because through Christ Jesus the law
of the Spirit who gives life
has set you free
from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2)

So the dark voice that whispers
we are lacking
we are not enough
we are not faithful
we are not loving
and anything else that reeks of darkness,
condemnation and oppresses the spirit,
ALL of that is death
and it is of the enemy.

The truth is
we are all lacking.
But we are not without hope.
And as long as we keep seeking our God’s presence
and direction,
through reading His word
and spending time with Him,
then He will keep shaping us
and transforming us.

We are not a disappointment to Him.

We are His beloved workmanship,
His own creation
and yes,
He does desire and will
for us to be free.
That is why He sent Jesus to die for us,
that is why He sent the Holy Spirit down
so He, God of all creation,
can live in us
and help us.
But it is a process.
And each person from Adam to the last,
will have a different story,
a different timeline.
So let us be patient
and let us trust
that through it all,
though the process be slow
and painful,
The Potter’s hands are to be trusted.

And His voice
is gentle and humble in heart.
There
we will find rest for our souls.
And there,
we
will
be
recreated.

Panic Attack

when thoughts and feelings are pressing in
emotions running high
have nowhere to go
while i try to press them deep within
try to control them

i want to hide
hide in the dark
close my eyes
and just be with God
to pray and be alone
just with Him

to be away from faces and eyes
be away from any one who sees me
who might cast judgement

i try to smile
try to answer questions
but inside i am feeling a pressure
in my heart
in my head

and i just want to hide.

but i press it down
press it down
try to move forward through it

people around me are good
they care
but i feel unable to play the game
to smile and nod
pretend all is ok

we are on our way home,
my husband driving
as my tears start to fall
my shoulders shake
with silent sobs
as shame fills me
at how unlovable i can be
how unlikable i am
when i struggle to maintain joy
how awful i am at being a light
or showing the light of Jesus in me.

then anxiety presses in harder
the events that are ahead of me
the silent voices of condemnation
crowd me
and my sobs grow loud and uncontrollable

visions of knives
and blood run through my thoughts
as that used to be my release
but i cry out to Jesus
knowing he does not want that for me.
my breathing comes faster
soon i am gasping for air
choking on sobs
unable to calm my heart

peace where did you go
peace where are you

Jesus, i have peace with God
but have no peace with myself

My husband has pulled the vehicle
to the side of the road.
He wraps his arms around me
and as my breathing calms
the sobs continue
while the children watch on
worried and probably scared.
I finally calm,
crying softly now
breathing slowing down,
chest feeling lighter
as some pressure has been relieved.

but new shame and guilt of such
a weak and dark display
creeps in,
i curl up in my seat
hiding my face with sunglasses
and pulling up my winter hood.
I turn on the music
and close my eyes
feeling my husband’s hand on my shoulder
as he keeps his other hand on the wheel,
pulling back onto the road.
“Mommy is ok guys,
she is ok,
don’t worry.
Don’t ask questions right now
but we will talk later.”

The music plays on
“Breathe, oh breath of God, now breathe
As we call out to dry bones come alive, come alive” **
The warmth of my husband’s hand on my shoulder
keeps me connected not just to him
but to God,
being assured of His constant acceptance.
I play the song again,
“God of endless mercy God of unrelenting love,
Rescue every daughter bring us back the wayward son”.**

I close my eyes
and listen
my soul praying
my mind battling for peace
trying not to give in to shame.
I want to stay there
and be covered
with music and warmth
but soon we are home.

Jesus,
i don’t even know what to pray.
but i trust you
and know you are with me
as this song says
“In the eye of the storm
you remain in control
in the middle of the war
you guard my soul
you alone are the anchor
when my sails are torn
your love surrounds me
In the eye of the storm.” ***

**Lyrics from Lauren Daigle’s “Come Alive (Dry Bones)

***Lyrics from Ryan Stevenson’s “Eye of the Storm”

***this writing is brought about by heart wrenching news of a suicide. I am not feeling this right now but can remember the feeling well, and for anyone reading this who may be feeling it, please please know you are not alone in it. Please please hang on. Think of what you would say to me or a friend desiring such release and turn those words of love and truth to yourself. Because you are loved.***

Walking down to the dark river
a cloud over my head
no joy no hope
all of me feeling dead
even the faces of those I love
are not enough to make me turn around
because
they are better without me
they will be able to live without my darkness
to laugh and love
and not feel so down
they will not be pulled under by my frown
I do them a favour as I walk to the river
I will just slip away
away from them forever
we can meet again
in a happier place
a happier day
they will not feel my burdens anymore.
I feel weak
and have no strength left.
there is nothing to give
just darkness
no matter what i do
i can not change myself
let alone bring light to others
so what is the point
the darkness beckons
and I walk to it
it offers escape
it offers peace
so I go because I can not fight anymore.
i am nothing
going into nothing
hoping in the end He will catch me
because I am done.
***Oh Lord, in the past few days a news article about a pastor committing suicide has been circulating. Today I read the letter his wife wrote him. It broke my heart Lord. I just know that feeling of nothingness. Where the brain knows there is still hope. But the connection is somehow broken. The body is tired of anxiety. Depression is a physical weight holding me down. And I imagine myself in such throws walking to a river and letting it take me. It beckons and seems right and peaceful in those moments. Oh how a moment in time can break us. How we can bend in that second. How we can break and condemn ourselves to death, in our desire to have freedom and to free others of us.

I still cling to your words that nothing separates ourselves from you (Romans 8:38,39). Not death. Not suicide. Because we are just so broken. Because we are in such need for you. Such a gaping need for you Lord.

But I hate this word suicide. It is heart breaking. It is taunting. I hate it. I fear it. Because I know I am weak. I know that when I am in that darkness the river is seductive. It offers release.

Lord. We need your river of life. And we need a river of understanding. We need healing for our broken minds and broken hearts and bruised spirits. We need to learn the basics of community living. Brother and sister hood.

After writing this and sharing it, I may be in the throws of anxiety again. Because sharing is so hard.

Lord I just pray, pray for this man’s beautiful and heartbroken family. Hold them fast. I thank you for his wife’s words as they urge me on to fight this brokenness and to share.

Because in that darkness as we feel called to be released, we walk in lies. All lies. Light is blotted out and it is a blindness that is physical, mental and spiritual. The truth is there, the light is there. You are there. But oh…how in a moment we can just stop and lose the fight.

This man’s life was filled with purpose. And it still is. Grow the seeds he planted. Take his wife through each day. Cover and protect, lead and teach his children. Bless them through this most heart wrenching loss. And continue the work you started in him.

Lord, please bring light right now to anyone’s eyes, if anyone is walking toward that dark river right now, thinking only of release, take your staff and rod and lead them to your river.

River of life and light.

Beginnings

I never felt like I belonged anywhere.
I am not sure when the feeling began.
But school was where it grew.
I was a shadow just trying to hide further
and yet wanting to be seen
for something bigger
something better.

I began like so many young kids,
to cut my flesh in high school,
hiding knives from my parents
and bringing them to my room
to inflict myself with pain.
Physical plain was a way to release the heart pain.

Surviving high school,
University scared me to my bones.
First year being especially difficult.
I was so lonely and so used to not being seen
that I found it hard to reach out
and hard to accept friendship.

I found a friend in my new roommate
after a room switch.
We were both awkward and quiet at first.
But in time we began to talk
and open up.
She told me about Jesus.
I kind of knew who she talked about.
The Bible guy.
The baby in the manger.
Didn’t he die on the cross?
But was undead?
I grew frustrated when she would talk about him
being the only way to heaven.

surely there isn’t one way.

She gave me a bible.
I even went to her home church a few times.
But I wasn’t sure of anything.

I struggled with depression.
Struggled with wanting to be thin.
To be seen and yet unseen.
I dived into work.
Into books.

Even with my friend.
I felt alone.
Always alone.
She had a boyfriend.
She had her home town friends.
They invited me along to places
but I guess it is just hard to trust love sometimes.

One night they went out,
they invited me but I said no.

I stayed in the dorm room.
I turned off the lights.
I sat by my bed
and I cried.
I pulled my hair,
I banged my head against the bed boards.
I hated myself with all the rage and hurt inside me.

And then I felt it.
A presence.
A hand touching my head.
A light.
A peace.
A Love.

I was terrified to open my eyes.
I was afraid I would not see anything.
I was afraid of what I would see.
It was real.
I finally opened my eyes.
Nothing was there.
But I was not the same.

I stood on shaky legs.
I turned the light on.
I went to my bed
and sat down.
I grabbed the black bible from a shelf
and opened it.

I know God had met me.
And that He sent Jesus.
I told him I wanted to know more.
I started to read
not understanding anything.
Then I told him
I would not stop reading
but he would have to teach me.

Because I wanted that love.
I wanted that peace
and light
and assurance
that I am seen.
I am seen.
I am beloved.
By God.
Who is real.

I hold a candle in the darkness
and its name is Jesus.

************************************
I did not become a follower of Christ that night.
It took time.
I continued going to church.
Continued to read the Bible which was like a foreign language.
I went to church with my friend
and felt each message
of love
so deeply…
I wanted more.

One day
I listened to a sermon
my friend had brought in from her church.
not something she ever did before.
She left the room.
And I still listened.
And it was about making a choice to follow Jesus.

I felt such an intense fear and longing
it truly seemed as if there was a line before me.
I felt a physical fear and sense that if I stepped over that line
my life would be changed forever.
It scared me to my bones.
But I wanted Jesus.
I wanted this man-God-Spirit
who loves so much
and sees us, knows us,
and still loves us,
I wanted him,
I wanted more of God.
So I said yes.
I stepped over the line
almost feeling a force roar in
angry frustration at my decision.
Fear fell away.
Peace settled in.
I follow Jesus.
Lit from within.
*************************************************

But I am still me.
Yes.
I am still me.
Still struggling even years later
with body image,
temptations
and allowing people to love me.
Learning to love myself.
Learning to love others.
To surrender to God.
To stand for truth as well as love.
Because I believe in the Bible.
There are things I wish it says differently.
But I am all in.
Sometimes it hurts.
But I follow Jesus.
And when I don’t want to.
When I feel too broken.
He comes for me.
My girlhood fantasy of a knight who rescues
is made complete in him.
But He is showing me more now.
It is one thing to be rescued
but it is another to be rescued and trained.
He wants to train me to be strong in Him
to be fierce in love
and firm of faith.
Oh Jesus,
yes your daughter needs much training.
Armour me.
Train me to be a fighter
not a fearer.

A New Heart Indeed

I used to think that accepting Christ
would mean having a new heart.
It would be quick.
I hear stories of people who accept Jesus
and they are healed
either physically or mentally.
Addictions fall away.
Disease is stopped.
While I rejoice for these people,
and realize they usually end up speaking up
very loud about their faith,
helping many to understand God’s love,
inside I am feeling some not so nice christian jealousy.
Why not me Lord?
Yes,
I admit it.
I am a child more than an adult.
How come I can not get a complete spiritual heart transplant?
How come I can not stop my addiction to eating sweets?
How come I can’t control my temper when the children get too loud?
How come I can’t just choose joy and be happy when I am struggling to get through a day?
How come I can’t just stop fearing and start living?

I am thinking these things again tonight as I read Ezekiel 36:26-28
where God says something like this:
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you;
and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statues, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances…you will be my people and I will be your God.”

Why do I feel like I am living in my brokenness more than living in the Spirit?

And then I think of a girl.
A girl I do not know
but have been praying for.
She is in the hospital right now,
has been in there for weeks.
Her heart is failing her.
Doctors do not even understand the depth of the problem.
And I have been thinking “Lord? What is going on with this girl’s heart?
Why can’t it be fixed? Her parents are in agony. She is in agony! Why does it have to be so slow!?

I picture the doctors working in her body,
trying to make things work right again.
It is such a slow process.
An agonizing one.
For her and her family.
I don’t know why God is not healing her.
We are still asking. Still praying. Still hoping.
Still trusting.
But it is painful.
So painful for her,
all that her young body is going through.
Utterly heart wrenching for her parents who are unable to take this suffering from her.

Tonight the two images have come together in my mind.

Broken hearts.

Body and mind.

Oh Jesus…
is that what it is like for you?
Watching us, suffer like that?
Battle with our own hearts?
Struggle with our own selves.

Lord,
I do not want to compare my emotional or spiritual state
with the struggle for life and the ache of this family
It is just the image of the heart,
the heart needing healing.

It is bloody.
It is tedious.
It is complicated.
And sometimes it is so slow.
And painful.

But in it all
you are there,
knowing what we need.
Having a plan we can not see
or understand.
Just hold us firm Lord.

Maybe I am just slow to learn,
to accept teaching and obey.
Lord I am thankful you do not give up on us.
Help me not to give up on myself.

And I continue to pray for this girl
that You would cover her,
stretch yourself out over her
as Elijah did with the boy in 1 Kings 17
and bring her healing and health
your breath in her lungs,
strength in each part of her inner body
that you have created.

Bring renewed life to our own hearts of flesh.
Break down the walls of stone.
Always
Always
Drawing us near to you.