Wednesday, April 24, 2013

This is my story...

    I have thought a lot about whether or not I would try and write the story of what has gone on with me over the past months and years, to help people understand what it has looked like for me, or more for myself to understand what was and what now is. Half the time I won't remember most of the details, but here is my best attempt.

 It's hard to know when something "started", because so many aspects of life pour into the why's of life. But I pinpoint a lot of it back to my last pregnancy. First of all I went from having a long "single life" to being in a relationship,engaged, married and pregnant all within one year. That is a lot of change in one life.

 When I found out I was pregnant I don't think I was ready, it didn't feel like the right time for me or us, too early into learning to be a wife, let alone getting to know Daniel. Of course there is a guilt in that because your child is growing inside of you that you will love with all your heart but it wasn't an immediate excitement. 
During these first few months I also started dealing with intense "issues" with my work and church, which were one in the same. This isn't about talking crap about that time or those days, I have worked through a lot of that and forgiven, asked for forgiveness, processed and learned but it doesn't take away the fact that it was a really hard time for me. I think I was left wounded far beyond what I was even capable of recognizing that would leave lasting effects on me. Not only that, but I know the enemy used small wounds to  create huge insecurities in me because of the time of life I was in. 

I believe so much of this time, as I think about it, was an identity crisis. Everything I was changed so fast that I had no idea who I was, who I was supposed to be, or what was right, true or good. I was the "missionary girl" who traveled the world, was passionate, bold, fully engulfed in ministry and all the while I was trying to find my place to land, this was still who I was, who I saw myself to be. The one who gave advice, the one people went to when they needed something done, the one everyone knew, loved, appreciated, etc. This was the me I was, this was the me I knew, this was the me I liked and had become, in a sense, proud of.

After quitting my job and an enormous amount of drama, bitterness and resentment that sat in my heart caused due to rejection and pain I was left to be a newly pregnant wife, adjusting to who I was now. I felt like even if I tried to get back into ministry, serving, whatever, I was constantly filled with terror of being misunderstood or worse, not being valued at all. It felt like that person was gone, no one knew her, or cared to find out or see any worth in me. My own insecurities playing on every off comment and sideways glance.I retreated. 
As my pregnancy progressed, my first time experiencing this bodily change, I felt hopelessly alone. It started to feel as though everyone in my life was against me. My spirit screamed with insecurity and anything that was said to me I took on and wore as if it were my truth, my identity, since I wasn't sure about anything anyways. I was constantly told how "big" I looked while pregnant. Struggling with body image my whole life, these comments resonated deep in my soul. I've realized how much of my identity as well had been my "beauty", my hair, being able to rely on that, even if my inside was broken. Not that I was ever really OK with myself, but I found it to be a comfort. During those later months of carrying Ashton I would look at myself and did not recognize myself. I had cut my hair short just months before getting pregnant, I had a really wide spread nose, my cheeks started eating my smile, and my eyes looked dead. I think there was a part of me that just believed this would never end, this is what my new self was, and I hated it and yet it matched so much of the brokenness in me as well.
 When I finally had Ashton, after a traumatic time in the hospital, an unexpected c-section, and long recovery I felt abandoned in a foreign place. Here I was with this tiny thing, that needed me all the time and I was having so many emotions I felt crazy. I was happy and in love with my new child, I was exhausted, I was bittern and angry, I was frustrated, lonely, sad, determined. I couldn't handle what I was facing. More than anything I remember feeling rejected. The constant lies that began to sit in my head were so strong. And I think more than anything I began to reject myself. I wasn't good enough for anything or anyone.
I would be extremely mean to Daniel, and I can't recall why exactly, except maybe for being frustrated about so many things in my life that he would not and could not fix. I began running and lost most of my baby weight, and all the while this was positive, the reasons were because I felt being anything over 200 lbs was a disgusting excuse for a person. I did it mostly, because I hated myself, and I believed other people hated me for being fat and disgusting, but who I was was still hurting and broken. The truth is that there was definite postpartum depression that had explanations to it, my overwhelming feelings, but to me, it just looked like another reason to hate myself.

Just about this time we decided to move to Denver. Ashton was about 9 months old when we moved to be a part of a church plant out here. It sounded like a dream and I was so excited to get back to what I knew, adventure and ministry with the Lord. Off we went. 

It was nothing like I thought it would be. It was hurt and struggle on top of hurt and struggle I had left behind. It compounded and reinforced everything that I believed about myself, that I would always be too much for people, a little intense, and they would reject me. Over and over again. It felt like everyone I knew was rejecting me. I would look happy and I would go through the motions as usual, because that is what people expected of me, that is what made it easier for other people to accept me. To show how I was really feeling would only make my fear of rejection even more real, even more possible. So I lived in denial, until it started getting really bad.

After about a year of living in Denver I started breaking down. My self loathing had reached an all time high and I felt helpless, hopeless, and trapped. I started having panic attacks, especially when things felt overwhelming to me. I felt like I was out of my mind, out of control, just stuck. I would tell Daniel how much I hated myself and felt like people would love me when they realized it was too late to love me, at my funeral. He didn't know what to say or do to help me and I just felt even more abandoned and alone. It seemed to me that everyone else was going along merrily on their way and couldn't be bothered with a broken and needy person like me. I needed someone to save me, someone please save me.
I went to a psychiatrist for the first time and was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and was prescribed medication. I started taking it and started feeling much better. Around this time my brother and sister in law moved here and we moved into a new beautiful apartment complex together. I had been so lonely that this was welcome relief to be able to walk to my family just steps away. My sister in law even offered to watch Ashton so I could reach for one of my dreams of running a marathon before we tried for another baby. 

During this time, things started to get better for me. I think being in the sun and exercising all the time was great for my hormones, body, well being. I felt proud of myself and was doing fun things with my blog and just living more fully. The church plant endeavor had ended and I felt we were released from under that and we went looking for another church. Things seemed to be falling into place and Daniel even got a promotion at work which was something we had prayed for, for so long. 

I lost 30 lbs, I ran a marathon, I felt successful and proud of myself, but there was still brokenness underneath. Something I wasn't facing, something I was literally running from. Who was I? Was I runner? Was I a hair blogger? Something I was leaving God out of altogether. 

I started wanting to get involved in church, it had been so long since I was really involved in church activities, somewhere that I felt I belonged. I sort of dove straight in. I started co-leading a small group, helping with kids crafts, and being on a leadership team for a mom's group. All very good things. Ah ha! These people will help tell me who I am or at least these things will be closer to the version of me that I am used to. I started praying more, trying to believe more in faith, but the truth is, all along this journey I had found it harder and harder to trust God. Where was He? Why wasn't He helping me? What was going on?

As I involved myself I felt increasingly weak, tired, sad, helpless. October rolled around once again and now we were facing some major financial stress again. I had been living in this comfortable place of beauty and now we were down to the wire of where we could find to live for hundreds of dollars less than what we were paying now. The stress began to rise and one too many balls in the air for me means becoming completely shut down. We also decided to try for another baby during this time. Another added stress it all, but I felt it was my duty to comply as though I had no say in it. Like the world was telling me, now or never. But I was scared about it, scared about everything that had happened last time, scared about all the issues and problems that seemed to stem from that experience. Fears and anxieties rising, and then, no baby...disappointment and the voices THIS IS WHAT YOU DESERVE ANYWAYS, YOU DON'T EVEN LOVE YOUR OWN CHILDREN.

 The only way I can describe these feelings is like drowning. I have seen a quote about depression that it's like you are drowning all the while watching everyone else around you smiling and waving. It's completely isolating and feels like no one understands or cares to try and understand. The only thing that I knew was that I was far too much to handle, and really not worth it. The tears started and never really stopped. I felt completely helpless and when I tried to be social my emotions would become so much that I literally could not  be in that situation anymore. One time Ashton was screaming for his way, I could not handle this, I put him in the car and started to drive away from the family gathering that we were at. 

This may be hard to hear or whatever, but this is my story, and so I share it with you because I am convinced that if the enemy can take us out, by whatever means possible, he will. I would have fantasies of driving off the road and that shards of glass in me would feel better than what I was feeling. I was having these thoughts on that drive and felt almost of out my body if not out of my mind. Who could save me? Who could deal with a screaming child and a psychotic mother, where could I go? Daniel wouldn't be home for hours. What was I going to do? I called my sister, who happened to be on her lunch break and she listened to me. She is wise beyond her years and just calmed me down and prayed with me. I made it home, even though she asked me to pull over. She asked me if I needed her to come out here and be with me and I knew I did. And she did.

This feeling of deadness or pain or whatever it was, I just wanted it to go away. I can't even think back on that time with any clarity because it's so confusing and blurry to me. I knew I needed help but I don't think I believe I deserved it, and I acted that out through my perception that other people thought I was faking, being dramatic, or just annoyed with me that I couldn't pull myself up by my own bootstraps. They were right, why couldn't I get it together? So I thought.

I beat myself up about everything, and boy did Satan know this. One day I lay on the couch and sobbed the whole day, feeling like I couldn't even make a complete thought that made any rational sense. My family was going to dinner for one of my brothers birthdays and all I could think was that Ashton hadn't had a nap that day and he was going to be crazy and I just couldn't handle it. So we didn't go. I felt bad, but what fun or good would I have been?

The next day we went to church which always helped me feel at least a little bit better. In the middle of lunch where I was just fine and talking excitedly about church and ministry I got a text that sent me, literally  into another world and state of mind. Feelings that others thought I was garbage where confirmed right there in that text. I slowly felt like I was losing any semblance of myself and felt like I was at the bottom of some deep hole while someone or something was throwing dirt in on me. I immediately knew it was an attack from the enemy but I had no strength or truth residing in me to stand up to it. I was done for. I had to escape this feeling, and the only thing that felt like it would let out this extreme pressure was to hurt myself. Here we were in the middle of this "family" day and going to pick out pumpkins. I couldn't take any more rejection and these voices loudly screaming in my head, YOU ARE WORTHLESS! JUST DIE! LOOK EVERYONE AROUND YOU THINKS THAT TOO, EVEN YOUR OWN FAMILY! I felt like an anxious, uptight zombie as we walked into the pumpkin patch. Every twinge of an attitude towards me felt like a million knives jabbing into my head and heart and self. It seemed as though everyone was against me, I tried to verbalize my neediness but I just felt like there was this laughter at my deep pain that I could not fix. This evil laughter and lies, YOU ARE SO STUPID, WHAT A LOSER, YOU ARE SO NOT WORTH ANYTHING! 

As we were driving to my brothers house I couldn't stand it anymore. Everyone always mad at me, me mad at myself that I couldn't be more perfect, make everyone's lives easier, stop being broken, I just couldn't take it anymore. I began to scratch myself as hard as I could on my arms and neck. Daniel was driving and tried to hold my hands down but it was the only relief I could see. As soon as we parked I grabbed my phone and just started running. I had to literally run away from this moment and just started running down the street. When I think back on the time the overwhelming feeling I have still is being annoying. WHY ARE YOU SO F*ING ANNOYING ASHLEY. {the enemy cusses you see}. YOU ARE SO DIFFICULT AND NO ONE CARES, JUST SHUT UP WITH YOUR WOE IS ME NONSENSE.

And I ran and my dad tried to talk to me, but this wasn't like when I was growing up and I needed an attitude adjustment, this was far deeper, greater, a wounding of years of lies that my self could no longer adjust to or take. We went back to my apartment and we prayed and cried and the torment still yelled at me. THIS IS NOT REAL, YOU ARE SUCH AN F*ING FAKE, YOU JUST NEED SOME ATTENTION YOU LITTLE ATTENTION WHORE! THERE ARE MORE PEOPLE IN THE WORLD BUT YOU.

No one knew what to do, not even me. Sitting in the darkness, hopelessness, in chains, needing a Savior.

I went and saw a counselor the next day, I got into the doctor in the next few weeks and was back on medication that started making a big difference. The medication gave me what the doctor called "margins", to give me just a little space between what was happening to me and me. 

Why wasn't anyone taking this as serious as I felt it was. No amount of explaining could help them understand. Didn't they know telling me to go to Denver Seminary wasn't what I needed, I need a Savior! Please SAVE ME!

The new year rolled around and I was feeling normal if nothing else. When all of the sudden, I knew, I was pregnant. This was something that I had actually prayed in the summer. That if He wanted me to have another child that it would just happen without me having to rationalize it too much, because I would rationalize myself out of it because my fears were that strong. I was excited and to be honest, scared. I knew I couldn't be on my medication anymore. I didn't want to tell everyone because of my broken body image and self hatred. 

I stopped taking my medication and started crashing. I am sure a mix of that, pregnancy hormones, my doctor scaring me with the possibility of miscarriage and feeling nausea, I was a complete mess. We told my family when I was 6 weeks and everyone was excited for us, but I was still scared. 

Around this time my husbands sister passed away from a brain tumor and we headed to California for her funeral. Daniel was going to go by himself but I decided to go with him. I think it was a mistake. I got to my sisters house and immediately felt overwhelmed and yet because it was a last minute trip I didn't want to inconvenience  her at all, especially because it was my brother in laws birthday party that weekend. I once again, could not handle my emotions or feeling and wanted to run away, but this time had no where to run. Daniel had left for the entire day for the funeral since we didn't want to bring a three year old and I had a meltdown. I was sobbing and shaking all the while my precious son asking me to stop crying and getting mad at me because he doesn't understand. I perceived my sister was annoyed with me, because I perceive everyone to be annoyed with me, maybe because I see myself as annoying. Certainly not lovable or worthy of love, someone please save me. Finally she saw me crying and struggling with Ashton and we arranged for me to hide out in the guest bedroom because I couldn't face going out into the party. WHAT A FREAKING ATTENTION WHORE. YOU ARE SO ANNOYING AND FAKE AND EVERYONE HATES YOU. ESPECIALLY YOUR FAMILY WHO ARE F"*ING TIRED OF THIS. But I just wanted to be saved, I was so helpless, please someone save me.

We got back and I was finally given the name of a lady who does Soul Care whom I could meet with and so I arranged that, I knew I was desperate for some feedback and I believe this week was when things started turning for me. One of the first things that she told me was that it seemed evident that God was pursing me, just sit and receive His love. 

I can almost imagine Him chasing me with His love saying "Here I am, I died to save you, let me save you, I will save you". I wanted my family to understand and see me and tell me my life was worth it and not be irritated or annoyed with me. I wanted my church friends and staff to tell me some magical solution that would make me better or hope that if I served them long enough and hard enough that somehow I would feel better, that they would save me. But Jesus didn't want any of that, so shallow, so empty, so temporary.

He allowed to me to get to a point where I was and am so desperate for a Savior and knew that my deepest cry was for someone to save me, that I knew the only real answer was Him. He didn't want me to serve Him, be perfect, act right, be more like some super Christian. He just wanted to love me, just the way I was. Love me even though I wasn't reading my Bible for an hour a day or couldn't bring myself to pray, love me even though I felt so guilty for being scared that another life was growing inside of me. Love me even though I stopped helping or serving in any capacity at church, even then, I was still worth loving. That there was nothing I could do or say or be more of in order for Him to want to come save me and set me free. Show me what a prison I sat in and He was coming, to be my Savior. The only one who could.

And we, He and I, are in that process. And I have learned that the only way I will find out who I really am, is to know Him close enough to see myself through who His eyes. That the things I labeled myself and found comfort in claiming myself to be were all so superficial and just that labels. We are walking through this at this very moment, and while I still look through these clouded lenses through my own self doubt, and trying to learn once again that He is the beauty and worth in me, that He is not in a hurry with me. He has given me the power to be more than a conqueror and He is teaching me once again to tell the Enemy who I am in Him and to shut up, because I am His. I know, He was fighting for me all the time. And He is teaching me how to be a fighter again, to stand in His authority and believe that even when people fail me, He never will. That if I am OK with Him, it doesn't matter what if everyone else approves of me or gives me recognition or validates my worth, because I only need Jesus.

I know this journey is far from over, and that my dependence on Him is vital. But I trust He is leading me to full freedom and that through His truth and love I will become the person He needs me to be to tell others about this Savior we so desperately need, even after we've been "saved".

Monday, April 22, 2013

Get Out of the Boat

This is 1 of 4, all so good.
"Stop making other people responsible for your joy!"
'God said to me
"you can be pitiful or you can be powerful, you take your pick, but you are not gonna be both!"

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sling Shot Training

I am still struggling with my inner dialog and trying to quiet it all down. Shhhh! I know part of it is being human, a woman, whatever, but sometimes I just want to say....STOP YELLING AT ME! I had this revelation this morning about how the enemy works with me. I am constantly worried about doing what is "right" and making sure everyone else agrees that I am doing the "right" thing, I always need this validated. This is where he gets me. I get caught up between decisions I have made, some God has asked of me, others I know are right or godly, but this little voice constantly nagging in my head says "is that really godly? is that really how you should act? is that really what God said?" Kinda sounds familiar as a voice described in Genesis? Shut UP!
My fear of man and people not "being mad at me" really gets in the way of my boldness or even believing actual truth or living in peace. Trying to juggle everyone's happiness in order to soothe that part of my broken soul is both tiring and impossible. I have to learn to let this go, its clearly an on-going process.
I have been fighting with myself about writing as well, do I write here, do I write on Eisy Morgan, do I write about my whole process and the whole story, do I write about what moved me today and what I am learning now. Too many questions and wanting to do things in order. It reminds me of how I am with tv shows. If I haven't watched a show from the beginning I won't watch it, I have to watch it in order, I have to know what happened and why its happening. I suppose I think this is how my blogging should be too, but I don't know why I make these rules up for myself. Donald Miller put up a quote the other day saying something about don't write what needs to be written but write where the writing is taking you. Or something like that. I kinda took it as freedom, like, don't THINK so much about it and just start writing. I clearly THINK way too much, anyone else?
Anyways, as I work through these things I am still trying to listen, trust, pay attention to God and what He is teaching me, showing me, etc. Being broken does require some constant wound attendance that I can't just let slide. I must say that this last week I was really proud of myself. I kept my apartment clean all week and cooked almost every night of the week, and got almost all of our laundry done. This is kinda huge for me. These things seem to bury me sometimes. But I felt the Lord telling me or reminding me that those who are faithful with the small things will be given more. This is what He has given me right now, even if it seems meaningless and trivial.
Today at church there was one illustration that really stood out to me. He was talking about David and the story of Goliath. I have always liked David and Joseph because they were people who God told early on who they were but they didn't become those people then, it was a long process to that day. He said we are all familiar with this story and David killing Goliath with his sling shot and don't always consider how good he was with that weapon, not by coincidence or accident, but by all the days he spent as a shepherd. He pointed out that even after Samuel anointed him as future king, he still hung out there with the sheep. Protecting them from bears and lions and so what was a giant? His whole life has been leading him and preparing him for this moment, one that didn't seem unfamiliar, hard, or over whelming. All this time he was getting really good at using that sling shot. And I thought, yes, this is what being a stay at home mom is going to and is for me. I am learning to use my sling shot, and its going to become second nature to me.
I was also listening to Beth Moore this week, (what a shocker), and she was talking about an article she had read by a great speaker about our quiet times being stale or boring and to try taking a walk with the Lord or watching a sunset and taking in his glory this way. She said, yes, this was a very nice thing to do every now and then, but not a steady diet of how to spend time with God. To not know God's word and be in it, the thing that changes us and gives us power, especially against the enemy, is vital. What are we going to say when we need a word when lies or attack are coming against us...."oh yeah, guess what? I watched a sunset today". It's so true.
 Sometimes I have fought the idea of quiet times and you must do this or that with the Lord. It all seems too stuffy and fake. But this is different. Especially because I have been so defeated and bombarded with lies that I see how much I need truth, to help me, free me, remind me of its reality and power and protect me. It's not about rules, time, do this check list, it's about freedom and power. It's about learning how to use a sling shot. I don't want to be a helpless weak girl, when I have to authority in Christ to be a powerful bold woman. The only way this will happen is for me to know Him more, know what He says about me, about others, about love, about life, and on and on and on. These are the stones I must be collecting.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Overcoming Insecurity

This spoke to me today....

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My name is had...

I heard this recently on Beth Moore’s “When godly people do ungodly things” and it struck a cord and seems so true to me right now…
 “My name is Had. You may know me, but you may not know my new name. You may have no idea what I’ve been through because I do mu best to look the same. I am scared to death of you. I used to be just like you. I once held my head up high without propping it on my hymnal.
 I was well respected back then, and I even respected myself. I was wholeheartedly devoted to God, and if the truth be known, sometimes I was the slightest bit proud of my devotion. Then I’d repent…because I knew pride was wrong. I didn’t want to be wrong. Not ever.
People looked up to me. And life looked good from up there. I felt good about who I was. That was before I was Had. Strangely, I no longer remember my old name. I just remember I liked it. I liked who I was. I wish I could go back. I wish I’d just wake up. But I fear I’m wide awake. I have had a nightmare. And that nightmare was me. Had.
If I could really talk to you and you could really listen, I’d tell you I have no idea how all his happened. Honestly, I was just like you. I didn’t plan to be Had. One day I hadn’t, and the next day I had.
Oh, I know now where I went wrong. I have rewound the nightmare a thousand times, stopping it right a the point where I departed the trail of good sense. The way ahead didn’t look wrong. It just looked different. Strange, he didn’t look like the devil in the original scene. But every time I replayed it, he dropped another piece of the masquerade. When he finally took off his mask, he was laughing at me. Nothing seems funny anymore. I will never laugh again as long as he is laughing.
If only I could go back. I would see it this time! I would walk around the trap camouflaged by the brush, and I would not be Had. I would be Proud. I thought I was Good. Not Proud. But I don’t know anymore.
Would you believe I never heard the trap shut? Too many voices were shouting in my head. I just knew I got stuck somewhere unfamiliar, and soon I didn’t like the scenery anymore. I wanted to go home. My ankle didn’t even hurt at first. Not until the infection set in. Then I thought I would die.
I lay like a whimpering doe while the world howled in the darkness. I got scared. I pulled the brush over me and hid. Then I felt like I couldn’t breath. I had to get out of there or I was sure it would kill me. I didn’t belong there. I refused to die there.
I pulled and pulled at the trap, but the foothold wouldn’t budge. The blood gushed. I had no way out. I screamed for God. I told him where I was and the shape I was in. He came for me.
The infection is gone. He put something on it and cleaned it up instantly. As He inspected my shattered ankle, I kept waiting for Him to say, “You deserved this you know. You have been Had.” Because I did and I have. He hasn’t said it yet. I don’t know whether He will or not. I don’t know how much I trust Him yet. I’ve never known Him from this side. My leg still hurts. God says it will heal with time. But I fear I will always walk with a limp.
You see, I wrestled with the devil and he gave me a new name. Had.

There's a baby in there and thoughts on being a stay at home mom

Sometimes there is so much going on in my life to think about that I just don't think much about the baby. I think wanting to know the sex and therefore bond with the baby is something I am sort of anticipating.
I am sitting here feeling their little kicks to my insides and wondering what they will be like, look like, what will we name them, etc etc. Will they be like my Ashton or completely different? Outgoing, shy, good sleeper, eater, pooper? You know?
I am taking photos to document my belly growth every other week. Since I think I will have the baby at 39 weeks, it should work out ok. My self image throughout pregnancy is spotty at best, but the truth is that I will forget this time soon enough, but it's to document a precious life that is inside of me regardless of what I think about myself. So these photos are for that person, whoever they may be. I can't yet imagine the love I will have for them. If its anything like what I feel for Ashton, I can't wait:)

Here is 17 weeks
Add caption

Here is 19 weeks

Here is Ashton and I
this week (19)

Being a stay at home mom is hard. I have some friends that are excellent at it. I think that I have this idea in my head that I need money, a car, and good mental health to be a really good stay at home mom. But I think even people who have all of this, it's still hard.

I am wondering if this toddler stage is a part that is the hardest? Before there are games, or school, or all of that. Not business hard, because there isn't any of that. But psychologically hard because there is a lot of just "home time", at least for us, and for me that has equaled a lot of or TOO MUCH thinking time. Thinking about how I fall short, watching others succeed or do things I used to do or wish I could do, etc. Really a time of losing identity completely. Who am I?

Sometimes I feel like I wish I could DO something else, so that I could escape my own head. But soon enough I know Ashton will be going to school and this slow part of motherhood will be long gone.

I sometimes have to tell myself that what I am doing, chosen to do, matters. It matters to Ashton, and I am glad and grateful to be able to do that for him. That its ok that I am not a super woman who does everything. That is not me, I am a be-er and not a do-er by nature. That God gave Ashton and this next little one to Daniel and I for a reason.

Yes, for sure, I will affect the negatively in some way. But overall, who they are...they were given to me and for all my flaws, there must be something I can give them that no one else would. They are my gift. And soon, I will be crying that they are going to college and leaving me forever.

I am trying to realize this time is shorter than it feels, to give myself grace but also realize that maybe I have more time to analyze things that maybe don't matter all that much in the grand scheme of things.

And just pray for wisdom.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Battles & Questions

So here comes the battle already.

Yesterday I wrote about my thoughts on this time of letting God define my beauty, my self worth, etc. These thoughts have been encompassing my thoughts a lot about Facebook and other social media elements and I find myself thinking twice before I post anything and asking "why do I need to post this? What do I want from this? Am I looking for something"

I realize as I have started to think through this that this is a place that God has me in right now. That it is less a criticism of society as a whole, although maybe something to be looked at, but more about what God is showing, teaching me, etc.

This morning as I was getting ready I was listening to Beth Moore online and she was talking about the Isrealites I believe in Exodus 40 and how He told them to remove all their ornaments. This is something very physical and outward to what I am sensing God is asking of me as a whole of who I am.

She said this...
"You come clean before me. No other form of security. Nothing else that makes you feel good about yourself. NOthing you're hiding behind. You just come clean before me."

My self esteem has been rocky to say the least for a long time now. I think it really broke when I was pregnant the first time with Ashton. I had no control of my outer beauty and felt like I lost who I was physically. How little did I know at that time that I was or would lose so much more of myself than just the outer.

 I question my worth in all apsects of life, looking for others to validate me and give me meaning. I have tried to find it by wanting to be a successful blogger, a marathoner, be really involved in ministry and wanting those people to tell me I am godly and how much they see my worth and want to use me to serve, etc. etc. And its almost like in all these situations I am giving them my question.

 You know, you've heard that before, asking them my questions of "am I worth it? am I good enough? am I godly? am I desireable? am I valuable?" and I lay it at their feet in ultimate vulnerability waiting and hoping for some stroke of my ego, some validation, some meaningful and life giving answer to my questions. Sometimes I get a fraction of what I was wanting, but most of the time I get the exact opposite. Sometimes the way people respond to me has crushed me because I wear it like their response to me IS my identity.

And these are questions I feel like I am subconsciously asking through my social media use. And yes, I do think that I find myself "self hating" because watching other people's lives makes me feel like my life is "less awesome" and I take that on, or I have.

So having written about it yesterday and thinking about it, listening to what Beth was saying this morning and feeling that God was speaking it to me directly about letting Him create an inner beauty during this time. I suppose again, finding my identity in Him, bringing Him my questions. And with all this in mind I came across this Relevant article called "Stop Instagramming Your Perfect Life"and because it talks about so many things that I had been thinking I posted it on Facebook.

I immediately got, in my opinion, "negative" feedback. Certainly not the responders intentions I would presume, yet to me, it immediatley hit me. One comment in particular cut to my heart, as if it was intended to do so. I immediately saw this as an attack to so much that God is saying to me, teaching me, speaking to me. It seemed clearly obvious.

I sat there in Barnes n Noble watching Ashton playing trains and that familiar anxious feeling arose in my heart. At this exact moment I told Ashton it was time to go and he started throwing a fit. Being pregnant I can't just pick him up like I used to and I am never sure what to do in those situations. Freak out, yell, spank, who knows? Well I went with pick him up, despite my best judgement and he kicked off his flip flops. I am feeling flustered now and ask my mom to help me find his flip flops. A woman with a stroller says "its over here and almost hit my child" all snotty. Oh yes ma'am, get mad at my three year old for kicking his shoe at your kid...please, that helps! I said "well he didn't do it on purpose" and she says "well he almost hit a baby". My mom told her she needed to calm down. WHEW! All of this within 5 mintues. Usually these things litterally crush me. Call that crazy, but that is where I have been with my mind. The weight of these things began to crush me and the usual tapes began to play and that burning heart heaviness layed across my chest.

I felt like I wanted to run away and I had to process it all over the next couple hours, let it go, let God defend me and realize it all for what it was.

The great thing about this incident, was that over the next few days I find my fight starting to rise up in me again. Like I am NOT going to take this crap anymore. I am TIRED of being afraid, for GREATER IS HE who is in me, then he who is in the world.

I have also been listening to Beth's "When godly people do ungodly things" and she was talking about how we have this emptiness in us, like beggars. She was talking about Is 61 and Jesus calling to the poor and how usually we think its the physically poor but that it can also be the spiritually, mentally, heart poor. We take our beggars cup around asking our friends, family, etc. They try, they do their best, they encourage us in that moment but then....we get home and our cups are still empty. God is the only one that can truly make a difference to our cups, our meaning, freedom, etc. In yet another teaching from her she said but so applicable here is " one of the most important things we can do to be effective Christians is to let people off the hook for not being God" . So often I get annoyed, let down, hurt by people because they can't be what I need, and that is actually something that was created for only God to fill.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Stones of Rememberance...

I want to write down what is happening right now in my life as a way to remember all that God is doing. It's so easy to forget all the answered prayers and all the little things that He is doing all the way.

The Lord told the Israelites when they were crossing the Jordan in Joshua 4

"Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”

So I suppose these posts are my points of remembrance to God's faithfulness to me during this time...

Last night I went to my parents small group which is led by one of the pastors of our church, who happens to be Northern Irish. They had been praying for me while my mom fasted for me and my mom asked if I could come and be prayed for. They said yes, of course.

At the end of the study and prayer pastor Rob pulled me aside to ask if I struggled with guilt? I do, it is or HAS BEEN all encompassing part of my life in the last years, maybe more. He asked what I feel guilty about and I said that I am pregnant and I am not excited about it, that I am going to have a baby and that I don't like the baby stage, to ask for help, for not serving enough in church, etc. etc.

He asked if the group could pray for me before they all left and told them about my guilt issue and that it seemed like I was just guilty for being alive, and that really resonated with me. He said it was a false guilt and they prayed it would be broken over me, have no more control or heaviness over me. They were all so loving and supportive and the whole thing really reminded me of my time in Northern Ireland, truth, hope, love, the Spirit at work.

I came home and told Daniel everything, and had the sweetest sleep. I am asking the Lord for increased faith and to help my unbelief about who I am in the Lord, my authority, and the power that lives and works in me. That Jesus did in fact die for my freedom and I am holy, it is my identity.

The other "revelation" of the night was about this process, about how it works.
I am not sure I have written about this yet, but I felt the idea or thought about Elizabeth (the mother of Jesus' cousin John the Baptist) kept coming to my mind one day and felt really to have significance. I couldn't really think why but my new mentor encouraged me to just ask the Lord. So I did.

I felt like He said that this was like a time of new life growing inside me spiritually as well as physically. I have also considered how long Elizabeth had waited for a child, something that she thought might never come, and the purpose was great and significant.

Then last night I was telling Daniel about all that and how I can no more wish myself done with this process than I can wish myself done with this pregnancy. Every stage has significance and meaning, but the revelation part was that I do NOTHING to grow this child inside of me. I take care of myself, vitamins, food, doctor, etc. but I have nothing to do with the growth of its nails, blood flow, hearing, nothing, it just happens. I am just the host and God does all the work. I am just here, waiting, feeling the changes before they are evident to the world around me. But then in the process along the way, people will start to see that life, they will see what has been happening for some time inside, and then one day that child emerges and for the first time we are seeing what has been growing for months and months, the life and beauty that God Himself was developing and creating.

And the other thing that I thought just now, as I write this, is that pregnancy for me is just plain...ugly. I feel ugly, I look ugly, I have acne that won't quit, I have puffiness, I have tired eyes that just don't look like myself, its just part of the process for me. I can't control it, or change it. It's not beautiful, but the end result IS. It's not forever, it doesn't have to devastate me, it's just a short time in life that has purpose even in the unattractiveness of this period. So while I find that I can't be beautiful on the outside right now, I pray the Lord makes me more beautiful on the inside. Who I really am, free.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter 2013

Yesterday was a good day.
The biggest blessing in it besides the Lord Himself was the gorgeous weather that I soaked up as much as possible. It was around 70 and just perfect. I love when it's like this and I can't wait for it to be so consistently for the spring. It's starting, slowly. They say snow tonight, but...I deny that!

I had been wanting to watch the Passion and it was on Saturday night on TV so we sat and watched it and I cried through most of it, as expected.
It just makes someone you love so real, and the sacrifice so tangible.
I am so grateful for what the Lord has done for me.
That by his wounds I am healed.
I feel like it was so fresh to me yesterday, as if every word that I had heard for years was the first time I was hearing them again.
My love for Him overwhelmed my heart and I think things are going to be better for me.

The sermon was timely in that he was talking about being who you are created to be. To figure out what it is you were made to do and go out and live large. I so want to. I know I am always in such a big hurry with myself. Like, "OK I feel better, now let's get on with the thing..." but I know the completion of this healing process will be longer than I may want it to be. I want to give myself the time because I don't want to get frustrated with myself or circumstances either.

The other BIG thing the Lord did for me this week/weekend was let me see and feel His love so tangibly. I was literally freaking out with the idea of having to move to Pueblo for Daniel's work. I was trying hard to trust the Lord and thank goodness how I act does not determine how the Lord responds to me. I was frustrated with Daniel and finally asked him to at least check to see if there were other options than moving. Not now, not that I have my family, an awesome church, mentors, doctors, etc coming up on a pregnancy that frightens me just a tad. So he did.
It was no big deal at all and they are giving him a position in Denver in July and he didn't have to quit after all:) I am so so so thankful for this and thankful that I get to stay in beautiful Denver for the time being.

But for all the positive that has been happening and growing, yesterday I was hit hard again with my self image issues. It's like they really haven't been a big deal for a while and it just was what it was, but yesterday it was like a constant barrage of thoughts and sadness over what I look like.

I am just trying to be as honest as possible. Be the real me. The me that is almost always disappointed in myself for not being more beautiful.
I really don't like my brown/red hair anymore. It's all faded and dry and I just want my blonde hair back. My mom might help me get it done for my birthday, but I just feel ugly with matter how I do it.

The other thing is just my body. I know I am almost 18 weeks pregnant, and again, I am supposed to be all "in awe" of it, but I just feel huge and yucky all the time.
It's like I feel this need to do something to prove to myself I still have some redeeming piece of beauty. I am not sure how to reconcile it all and I really need to ask the Lord about it, because it's a huge part of my struggle, I know this as well.
I want to enjoy life and not be OBSESSED with it, but obviously need to take better care of myself which I am not good at, not yet. But if the Lord can help me in one area, He can help me in all. And I want to open up every area that hurts me, he can bring love to that place and healing.
I am starting to trust and believe, at least, that every little thing He has purpose, healing, plans for me to work through with Him.

{ Blog design by Tasnim }