Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Battle of Insomnia

Insomnia. I remember once or twice as a young child having a night here or there where I couldn't sleep, but I had never fought insomnia. I was unaware of the battle I was getting ready to face. Completely unaware. 

The insomnia I battled for the next several weeks was tormenting. I know that not all people who are fighting insomnia are tormented by it, however, for me, this was tormenting. I wasn't one to lay there and think about the day or worry about things for hours. I had always been able to fall asleep fairly easily.

I went to bed that night hoping that some sleep would help me feel better. I have always been someone who needs their sleep. I feel better both mentally and physically when I get adequate rest. Instead of finding sleep, I found restlessness, anxiety, and torment. Torment is a very strong word. It is the correct word. I would close my eyes and fear would just engulf me. It was terrifying. I read the Bible, I put some worship music on, and I prayed. Nothing. I cried. I just wanted to sleep. To *run away* from all this anxiety and fear that was drowning me and instead, I was now unable to sleep. I had Bobby pray over me. I tried everything I knew to get to sleep. Finally, I remembered the dr had said if I needed I could take Benadryl to help me sleep(he must have known how my night was going to go). I got up and took two Benadryl and finally fell asleep..for 2-3 hours..then I was up again. Scared. I kept thinking to myself. Why are you so afraid? What in the world is wrong with me you? I had no idea why this wasn't going away, and I had no idea how to fix it. The unknown questions bothered me almost as much as the fear and anxiety itself. I am a fixer. If I see something is wrong, I want to jump in and help. I wanted to fix this..but I was soon going to learn that there was no easy fix. I was broken...and I needed The Physician to help me. He is the best dr, but His ways were not my ways. He wanted to dig deeper, to clean me up. I wanted to RUN AWAY! 

I woke up to another dreary, rainy day in Texas. I had only slept 4-5 hours the entire night. I love the sunshine so I would just stare out the window and think that the weather outside matched where I was at. It always seemed ironic to me because we don't get a lot of rain here in Texas. I kept thinking when is the sun going to come back. There was a lesson for me to learn in those dreary, rainy days: The sun was still shining. Regardless of whether I could SEE it or FEEL its warmth, it was still shining. The clouds and rain were blocking it, but it was still there, just hidden. I was going to learn that whether or not I could see or feel God; He was still with me.

I struggled with another day of intense anxiety and fear. I remember sitting on the couch and asking Bobby if I was going crazy. He, in "Bobby fashion", laughs, and says no, crazy people don't know they are going crazy. (gotta love him!!) I had no reason to be sad, fearful, or anxious. My life was good. I was genuinely happy with Bobby and our kiddos. I just couldn't figure this out. It made no sense to me. I was lacking truth and understanding. Over the next several weeks and months, God took me on a HARD, GRUELING journey towards freedom and healing. For me, I had "bandaged" deep wounds and hurts with lies. I had believed lies about who God was, how He works, and how the enemy works. I was misguided and uninformed.

I had four days of intense anxiety and fear. On the fourth day, my world (truly) was forever changed. Aside from being saved when I was a little girl, this was the most pivotal moment in my life. 

Breakthrough was coming!! 

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Darkness

I have been thinking about this post for the last several days. Wondering what I should share and how to convey what all He showed me without sounding a little on the "crazy" side. But..the more I think back over the last 2.5 years of my life..the more I see that He has moved in my life in some "crazy" ways. He has used some strange things to show me truth, and He has had me step out of my "box" to see what all He has. It's been a journey (and it's still going) Here is the beginning of the "end" of the life I knew. 

Anxiety. Overwhelming anxiety. That is how I woke up on the day that changed everything. I had gone to bed the night before with no major "worries" or stress and woke up the next day under a blanket of overwhelming darkness. I stumbled out of bed and started praying. Nothing. I ran some bath water because I love to soak and relax in the bathtub. Nothing. I felt so scared and afraid..of what?..I had no idea. 

Nothing was seriously wrong in my life. We were happy in Texas. We were learning a lot at church. We had just celebrated Christmas. The family was healthy. I could not point to any specific reason for why I felt so anxious and afraid. I wasn't secretly sad or depressed. I had not been overly stressed. I was happy. But I could not shake this awful feeling. It was crippling. I called Bobby, and I asked him to pray with me. Nothing. I got off the phone and just sobbed. I read my Bible. Nothing. I begged for God to help me. I begged for Him to stop this. Silence. The silence was deafening. I wiped my tears and made the kiddos breakfast. I sat down on my couch and looked out my window...dreary and rainy. I started to call my friend, Lesli. I wanted to. I wanted someone to tell me I was going to be ok because I could not imagine living my life like this. I was not suicidal. I was in shock that I just woke up one day to this..and I kept asking myself..what is this and what can I do to help myself? But instead..I quietly cried. Alone and afraid..right where the enemy wanted me. This darkness and anxiety was relentless. From the time I woke up, it did not stop...for days. I called my hubby back and told him I needed him to come home. I felt so dumb, but I needed him to hold me. To tell me what to do and how to stop this. I have often wondered what he thought as he drove home to help me. (I have actually never asked him that). I wonder what he expected to see when I opened the door...

I was broken. This darkness around me *tried* to consume me. At times, it *felt* like it had. Bobby opened the door to find me broken. Drowning in darkness. Because Bobby is a good man and he loves unconditionally, he went to fight for me. He held me, he watched the kids while I tried to rest, he encouraged me to go to the dr since this was so "out of the blue". He made arrangements for the kiddos (with Lesli) while he drove me to the dr. 

I was scared to go. Scared to try and desribe how I felt. Scared of what the dr would think. Scared that I was truly going crazy. What would people think if they knew I was so anxious that I didn't feel that I could even take myself to the dr? What would people think if I told them that I prayed, and God was SILENT? I felt so ashamed. Ashamed I couldn't "get it under control".  Ashamed I even felt this way. Ashamed because I couldn't even ask for prayer from friends or family. Ashamed that I was even visiting my dr for "mental stuff". Ashamed because Christians never fight anxiety or depression. (That was only for people who were either doing something wrong or who just didn't believe in God enough). LIES. All lies. I was in bondage to lies, and I allowed the enemy to continue to condemn me and heap shame on me..afterall, look at what kind of shape I was in. Broken and a mess. "Good Christians" never have these kinds of problems. Right? I had never heard another person share that they had ever struggled with fear or anxiety (aside from the occasional "hard things" people would walk through). Surely, if I was not the only one walking through this..surely, I would have heard others share their struggles. NO. Silence. 

The enemy loves silence. He loves for us to think that no one out there has ever had the same struggles that we are walking through. He loves for us to *feel* alone. 

We dropped the kiddos off at Lesli's. All she knew was that I wasn't feeling well. She is a dear friend so I am sure she picked up that something was wrong. I held it together enough that she didn't ask specific questions. She was a friend who knew we needed our kiddos watched..and did. I remember leaving her house..it was still raining..my tears just blended in with the rain. I silently wondered if I was ever going to feel "normal" again. 

No, the normal I knew would never come back. In the days, weeks, and months ahead, He gently took my broken pieces and put them back together. I would have a new normal. A new me. It would be better. It would be free, but I had a BATTLE to fight. I didn't feel like fighting. I could see the mountains ahead of me..but I was drowning in the valley...the valley of darkness and despair.

As I shared with the doctor how I felt, he was kind and patient. He listened as I sobbed. He encouraged me. He gave me a few different options of meds or I could wait and see how I felt tomorrow. The thought of tomorrow maybe feeling like today was enough to (literally) terrify me. I accepted the prescription for a lo dose anti-anxiety med. I cried and cried. I could not believe that *I* needed help. It was probably one of the lowest points in my life. I didn't even fight the shame that came with realizing I needed help from meds. I just let the enemy continue to heap lies onto me. "You are stupid. You are crazy. You are going to be unstable. You are not fit to be a mom. You will never be normal again. You will be on these meds for life. Bobby thinks you are crazy. You are crazy! You should trust God more. You should read your Bible more. You aren't loved. No one cares. You should pray more. You are being punished for all the "bad things" you have done in your life. People will not like you." On and on...I listened. I accepted his lies as TRUTH. 

We left the doctor, dropped my prescription off, and picked up our kiddos. Nothing had changed. I still felt the exact same..but I was hopeful that tomorrow would be better...

Little did I know I had another battle to fight that day: insomnia. 

***For some parts of my story, I will leave out names of people who helped me in my journey. However, I intentionally mentioned my sweet friend Lesli. Really, she deserves her own post,but I am going to publicly give her the praise and honor she deserves. If you know me, you know I am already crying writing this. Lesli is beautiful. She has a beauty that is inward and outward. She is kind, loving, and loyal. She is gentle. She is giving of her time and things she has. If you have the privilege of knowing Lesli like I do, you are greatly blessed. She is the friend that I always wanted. A friend who just accepted me for me. She didn't quote a bunch of verses at me(although she is very knowledgable about Scripture). She cried, she prayed. She sat with me in my brokenness. She listened, for hours. She gently pointed me to truth but never through shame or condemnation. She loves Jesus. It is obvious in her life. She loves ME! For that, I am so grateful. She was (and is) a bright light in my life. I was only beginning to learn, but God was going to continue to bring "bright lights" into my dark world. I will always be grateful that Lesli was a bright light in my life. I love her. She is a God-given treasure to me. ***

I hope that as I share my story; I can be a bright light in someone else's life. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Cut That Would Not Stop Bleeding

I sliced my thumb about two weeks ago. It was not pretty. It hurt. It bled. It made a mess, and I had to stop cooking for a little while. I had to figure out how to wash dishes with my left hand. I had to learn how to cope without an important part of my hand. 

For the next several days, I had to clean it and then bandage it back up. I was protecting it from infection. It took time out of my busy day, but I knew that it was worth it. 

I didn't realize how much I depended on my thumb, or how much I bumped it into everything. For the first week, every time I bumped it, I would feel pain. It was sore. 

Today as I look at my thumb, you can see the scar. It's healed up nicely. It isn't sore anymore and a new layer of skin has formed. (I am fearfully and wonderfully made!!) 

God speaks to me in unique ways. For the last two weeks, it's been through this cut on my thumb. Every time I look at it, I think of my own cuts/wounds. Wounds deep in my heart. The ones that most don't know about. 

If I would have ignored that cut on my finger it would have been unable to heal correctly. I had to first acknowledge that I had a cut that needed my attention. I had to put pressure on it to stop the bleeding. I had to clean it out. Rinsing it even though it burned like crazy. I had to realize the time it took every day to clean out and bandage my thumb was WORTH  IT. Sure, it may have eventually healed without long lasting effects. The healing would have taken longer, though. My thumb would probably not be a "small scar" but would be "a small, twisted, ugly scar". 

I think that's just like our hearts. We get hurt. We live in a world where sinful people live. People say and do dumb, hurtful things. What do we do with those hurts? Do we just try and ignore it? Not even really acknowledging that we felt hurt by a choice someone made. Do we believe the lie that we don't have time to deal with it? Or that it will hurt too much to "clean it out"? 

What happens to those cuts or wounds in our heart? Most will probably heal. They may look like an ugly, twisted scar but they will probably still heal. It will just be more evident that you had a cut there. The scar will be more pronounced. But what about those deep wounds? The wounds that need a DOCTOR'S attention? The ones that need stitches or staples to put it back together? The ones that require a deep, painful cleansing. They can't be ignored. They will continue to bleed and be a constant reminder of that hurt. If you bump it, it will pour out. It won't just sting a little. It will hurt badly. 

Those are the dangerous wounds. The wounds that need THE doctor's touch. They need to be cleaned, stiched up, and watched closely. 

I have had to deal with my own deep wounds. My own deep heartache. Some of those wounds I let simmer for years. Some I wasn't even aware about. I thought that I was feeling a small cut, but when I sat down before Him, I realized the DEPTH of the cut. I had tried to bandage it up. Ignore it. If someone did something hurtful and "bumped" into it, it would feel SO hurtful. In reality, it may been something small, but it hurt so much because of the deep, festering wound underneath it.  

I had deep hurts that I didn't address. They simmered. They bled. They oozed bitterness, loneliness, rejection, insecurity, anger, and unforgiveness. It eventually made my life dark...

And that is where I found myself 1.5 years ago, in utter darkness. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

You Can Dance for It

My sweet Maddie girl is always making something: crafts, toys, paper dogs or dolls. She is gifted in this, and I am sure she will do BIG things someday. It amazes me at how creative she is. 

Today she made a doll out of a pencil and then made a hat to go on top of the doll. She told me they were $1. Lest I be tricked *again* into shelling out a dollar I asked her if she meant pretend money or real money. She replied, "Real money but you can dance for it instead". (For reals, I have no idea where she got this from as we don't frequent strip clubs, watch dirty movies, or refer to buying stuff by dancing) Being the frugal(cheap) momma that I am, I decided to dance for it! It was going great until my pajama bottoms fell down... What?! You aren't in your pj's at 2 in the afternoon? No worries though, I did bathe today, I just put my pj's back on.  Your kiddos don't offer to let you dance instead of shelling out the big bucks?! You are MISSING out.

Oh, the innocence of my kiddos! It makes me laugh..and lose my pants! 

**Dancing in our house means jumping up and down. No twerking allowed!*

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Greatest of Loves

Well, I sat down to write a post about how grateful I am for my hubby, but half way through that post I felt like I was to write about something entirely different. Maybe someone needs to read what I am going to share.

I love so many things about God, but do you know what I really love? I love that He KNOWS me. He knows the ugly. He knows the good. He knows all. Sometimes we can freak out about that..because we view God as some harsh person who is just trying to punish us for all the bad in our lives. I believed this for the longest time. I don't know that I would have actually said "hey, I think God is just waiting for me to mess up and then He can punish me". My actions showed it, though. The words I spoke showed it. I went through life for 25 years and had no REAL sense of who God was. I just didn't get that He truly loved me. Now, again, I would have never said that. I think so many times we can become disillusioned to what we think we believe, but what we really believe deep down is different. Deep down into the depths of my soul..I had no real knowledge that He loved me. I felt like I had made so many mistakes-some pretty "big" ones. I felt like He was disappointed in me. I was constantly striving to reach "the mark". You know the one..the one your "perfect" friend has achieved. Oh, what lies!! I believe that is right where the enemy wants us-trying to earn God's love. His love is free. It's his gift to us. His love radically changed my life. When I realized that I didn't have to have it all together, it was easier to see myself how God sees me. When I realized that He was right there with me, in my mess, getting dirty with me, I realized He loved me for me! I didn't need to change for Him to love me.

 Change did come, true change, but it didn't come because I was trying to fix me. It came because I realized that I was loved by Him. It wasn't because I had my act together and was doing all the "right" things. True change happened when I realized He loved me because I was HIS daughter!

I feel like someone who is going to read this is really struggling with knowing they are loved. All they see is their mistakes and failures. I just want to remind you that God sees you through the eyes of Jesus. Once you are a child of God, you are covered by His righteousness. We are going to mess up. We are human. Our mistakes and failures don't define us.  They do not change how God feels about us. My kiddos make mistakes, they may even need some correction and instruction, but it does NOT change how I feel about them. I still love them. I am still so proud to be their mommy! They still rock my socks off!! That's how God feels about you-but in a perfect way. He thinks you are the best, the brightest! He has a hope and a future for you that is better than you can imagine. 

While I was walking through a dark time in my own life, God really used Joyce Meyer to speak truth into my life. She has a book called "Battlefield of the Mind". Her book spoke truth in my heart and reminded me where all those negative thoughts were coming from. Her book gave me a way to see truth and even ways to apply it to my daily life. It was really helpful to me! Maybe it will be to someone who reads this. 

He loves you. Right where you are. In the ugly. In the messy. He doesn't need you to clean yourself all up before He can be with you. He is there..getting dirty and messy..ALL because He loves you. He wants you to be clean and whole. Allow Him to help you. Receive His love into the deepest parts of you. It WILL change you. 

*His love covers all of you and all of me.* 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Clean Slate

Well, I started a blog. Over a year ago, God told me to share my story with others. Slowly, as I felt led, I have shared bits and pieces with friends. Tonight, I took another step of faith, and decided to share my story with more than just close friends. My hope is that others, who are walking their own journey of freedom and healing, will be helped and encouraged. As time goes on, I will share more of my story. It’s full of love, tears, laughter, and baby poop!  

I have started this next paragraph several times, too many times. What should I write? Why would anyone want to read this blog? He said to write. Well, I got nothin’!! Doubt comes flooding in, and I criticize my every word. I wonder why in the world I am opening my heart to others… And then I stop. Wait, what is this crap? I am more than this. I am a daughter of His. If He asks me to share my story, He will help me. If He asks me to put my heart out there for others, I can do this. I don’t need to fear what others think. I don’t need to criticize myself. I am me! I am fearfully and wonderfully made. So, I will try this again, with a clean slate. I am so thankful for clean slates.

That’s where I will start…how He wiped my slate clean. When I was five, I asked Jesus into my heart-the first time He wiped my slate clean. I grew up in a Christian home. I went to church every week and attended a Christian school and college. All the “right” things though, didn’t make me clean. Instead, I was a hot mess on the inside. Fast forward lots of years, I was married and had three wonderful kiddos. We had just moved 1000 miles away from all family and friends. We knew one family in all of Texas. I never questioned if Texas was the right place for us, I just knew. Texas is beautiful and a wonderful place to live.

One day, I woke up and found myself in a battle for my life. All I could see and feel was darkness. I was engulfed in anxiety, fear, and dread. I don’t know that I would call it a depression as I wasn’t sad, just filled with anxiety. It was awful. I can barely write this without tears as it was such an intensely dark time in my life. Through that though, He spoke truth into my life. He spoke love into my life. He allowed me to see the lies I had believed (there were so many). He picked me up out of that pit, and started me on a journey of forgiveness, healing, and freedom. He wiped my slate clean.

I am so grateful that His love covers all. I am grateful that my past mistakes, failures, and choices do not define me. I am grateful that He loves me right where I am. I don’t need to act like I have it all together if I am really a hot mess! He already knows, and He loves me anyway. For me, the first step in my journey was realizing that He loved me. I didn’t need to have it all together or do all these things to be loved by Him. He loved me because I was His daughter. Just as I love my kiddos, not because they do everything right, but because they are MINE. I will fight for them, I will love them every day of my life, and I would die for them. The greatest example of love was God giving His son, Jesus, to die for me. I don’t have a full understanding of His love for me, but I pray that as time goes on I would have a deeper understanding of how deep, how far, and how wide His love for me is. His love covers all. It wipes the slate clean. For that, I am grateful.