Fancy

35 hours of training. That’s what I had to get to renew my counseling license. 35 hours of sitting at a table surrounded by smart, insightful and caring people. People that go into the trenches and help the hurting, I mean really hurting, people.

It has been amazing…and terrifying. It’s been almost 8 years since I sat professionally with a wounded soul. It’s been almost 8 years of raising the boys, caring for my home, my husband and the family we made. And now it’s time to go back, go back into the trenches with the hurting…and I am scared.

I am scared that I don’t remember anything. I don’t remember what to say or recommend when you tell me your marriage is falling apart or you can’t stop the voices in your head or your teen won’t come out of their room. However, if you need a baby wipe or some cheerios, then I’m your girl. I can get a stain out for you and I can fit 6 of you in my dirty car and get you wherever you need to go. But if you need me to walk you thru your trauma or your tragedy or your trial…that’s a different story. And you want to pay me for this? No way. No way can I take your money because I’m really a mess too, and I surely can’t tell you how to climb out of your mess. The inside of my head is scrambled, so why would you want me to help you sort out yours?

So, 35 hours of training and even more hours of doubt and fear. It’s really been a battlefield here the past few months…a battlefield of my mind…can I do this, should I do this, what will I say, can I really help?….but I’m doing this…

I landed in 1 Corinthians this week…not by chance I know. Paul is speaking to his church friends in Corinth. They are in a mess. There is diversity and disorder among the congregation. There is confusion and conflict on what to believe and who to believe, questions over spiritual gifts and how to use them, really just a mess…and I totally identify with them.

Here are some really good words that Paul has left us. If your head feels a little jumbled or worn out, well…

I Corinthians 1 (NLT)

Vs 7 “You have every spiritual gift you need”

Vs 9 “He always does just what He says”

Vs 24 “Christ is the wisdom of God”

Vs 25 “God’s weakness is far stronger than the greatest of human strength”

1 Corinthians 2

Vs 3 “I came to you in weakness…but the Holy Spirit was powerful among you”

Vs 6 “I do not speak of the wisdom that belongs to this world…the wisdom we speak of is the secret wisdom of God”

Vs 12 “God has given us his Spirit so we can know…”

Vs 13 “We do not use words of human wisdom, we speak words given to us by the Spirit”

Vs 16 “We have the mind of Christ”

And my favorite: 1 Corinthians 4:20 “The Kingdom of God is not just fancy talk, it is living by God’s power.”

All this time, I have been anxious, wanting to be fancy. To be a fancy pants, a wise and respected therapist in my community and among my peers. The fears of failure and looking like a stay-at-home fool among the tenured and educated have hit hard. Well, I think I will just be a fancy pants for Jesus and live using His words, His wisdom and His power when I sit with His children. He will equip me and give me EVERYTHING I need. He will do the same for you friend.

Thank goodness His kingdom is not just fancy talk, but it is living by His power to fulfill His plan and His purpose!

Bold Words

Our words hold power, power to bring death or power to bring life. Revelation 12:11 states,They defeated him through the blood of the Lamb and the bold word of their testimony.” Our secrets lose power when they are brought into the light. It is a hard thing to speak the bold word, the secret place, the thing that wants to stay hidden.

Today we have bold, brave words by a guest blogger, Diana Reis, and they are good, good words: 

Those that know me well know I don’t usually like to be so bold or put myself out there in this way, but this chapter in the book, Girl Wash Your Face, was so important for me & I feel led to share.

I’d say that since I was pretty young (way too young), I learned to cope with things through drinking. You name it…stress, anxiety, worries, shame, fear, insecurities, boredom, whatever. When things got tough, this was the easiest thing that I could turn to. It was an instant fix to whatever problem I was facing. Trouble in my teen years, have a drink. Need confidence in an uncomfortable situation, have a drink. Challenging changes in my 20’s, have a drink. Failing first marriage, have a drink. Stressed because life has thrown me too much, have a drink. Overwhelming day with the kids, have a drink. Mad because you caved in and “solved your problem” by having drinks, have another drink.  (You get the picture). I could always pull myself out of it so it didn’t become too big of a problem…however, when things got to be too much for me, this was my “easy outlet” for many years. It’s crazy too –  because when you wake up, those problems and troubles are still there…just slightly worse now because you don’t feel 100% from the night before.

It took me too many wasted years, days, nights and weekends to finally realize this unhealthy path I kept taking myself down. Like she says in this chapter “drinking is so hard to walk away from because the action is just so easy”. The great thing about going through tough stuff is that it builds up your immune system. But if you keep medicating it, you can’t learn how to cope with it…whatever that IT is. “The difficult seasons we walk through are how we learn to build up strength to manage any situation.”

I have learned different and better ways to deal with my stress and anxiety. It wasn’t easy and took a lot of mistakes and failures to get there, but I did. It doesn’t mean I’m perfect now and have it all right. I’m human and still learning every day. I will still make mistakes along the way, but now I have learned that when things feel like they are too much –  I can read, pray, run, laugh, exercise, be with friends, have coffee, play with my kids, etc. I finally got tired of how it was affecting so many areas of my life. It’s ok to have a glass of wine and relax…but it doesn’t have to turn into a coping mechanism. “Food, Water, shelter, healthy relationships…those are things we need. Anything else you insert into that category becomes a dangerous crutch – and you don’t need a crutch if you are strong enough to walk on your own. — Fighting through those hard times is how you get tougher; it’s how you become the person you were meant to be.”

I don’t know what struggles you may be dealing with or how you may be negatively  coping with it, but for me it was having the self awareness to acknowledge my unhealthy habits I had created for myself. “You’re never going to move past a problem if you can’t even admit to having it in the first place.” Once you can admit it to yourself, remove the temptations from your life. Those can be different for everyone. It can be food, alcohol, phone use, porn, smoking, etc. Create new and positive habits to put in their place. It can be one of the best things you do for yourself. “Obviously real struggles run so much deeper than simply having access, but it’s much easier to fall into those temptations if they’re sitting right in front of you.”

Hopefully me sharing this can help someone else somewhere with something in your own life. Sometimes we just need to remind ourselves of our “why”. My why is: my kids, my husband, my health, my relationship with my Heavenly Father, my friends, my future, my small group students, & my family. What is your why?

Check out the song –  “You Say” By: Lauren Daigle

💕 #GirlWashYourFace #RachelHollis

 

Thank you, Mack

He came out of my belly the sweetest thing, very happy and wide eyed. He still is the sweetest thing. Full of laughs, still with wide eyes, making those around him very happy. But within days of his birth, he wasn’t so happy anymore, always arching his back, screaming at me and struggling to eat. Breastfeeding was no longer an option as he had under developed oral muscles and just couldn’t consume what was needed. The old-man pediatrician just told me I was paranoid and depressed and had a colicky baby and to just go home. However, my insides knew this old-man had been doing his job way to long and was just wrong. We found another pediatrician and were told Mack had reflux and meds were prescribed.

The drugs didn’t work and soon Mack stopped eating all together.

I remember my obsession with how much he ate, when he ate. I kept a journal recording every ounce to make sure it was enough for him to gain fat and stay hydrated. I would rock him and pray and cry, begging him to eat but he refused and fell asleep starving in my arms. I would rock myself and pray and cry begging God to heal him but He refused and I fell asleep with a starving soul.

All the while I was working full time at a counseling center, helping families, yet I couldn’t even help my newborn. Mack’s weight continued to drop, and so did mine as my obsession with his eating continued. Sleepless nights with a hungry child that couldn’t swallow was gut wrenching for this brand new mama.

For the first time in my 30 years of living, I felt out of control, I felt that God didn’t care and was not good. Why would he not answer me, help this baby eat? The nourishment was available but Mack refused. I quit praying and reading my Bible. The depression resurfaced and brought anxiety with it. The doctors continued to change Mack’s meds but nothing worked to soothe his burnt and exhausted esophogus. The doctors continued to change my meds but nothing worked to soothe my scared and worn out soul. After many trips to the ER for IVs to hydrate him, we found a specialist who finally recommended a few days in the hospital with a feeding tube. Mack’s liver enzymes were off, indicating major malnourishment.

That was a scary day for me, hearing the news of putting my then 4 month old baby in the hospital with a feeding tube. Months before, the first time I sat in this GI specialists office, I was surrounded by tube babies but knew that would never be us. God wouldn’t let that happen. How wrong I was. 

We spent several nights with Mack in the hospital and the NG tube. We were surrounded by family and Mack was so happy as his belly was full and his throat had a break from acid and swallowing. The tube came home with us for a while. Every night Mack, Chris and I would all get in the huge whirlpool tub and played games to distract Mack as we removed glue beneath his nose, cleaned his face, then re-glued and bandaged the tube in place. Every night.

Mack’s mobility had to be on hold for a while as he couldn’t crawl with a IV pole and bag behind him. We brought him to small group until we found a sitter brave enough to refill his formula bag and monitor his tube. Our church nursery loved us well and cared for him while we sat in church exhausted but grateful for the break.

I began therapy as I was still stressed and anxious and unsure how this all could have happened to me, God’s faithful servant. My theology was naive and jaded. Of all people, my Jewish therapist helped me understand that my Christian faith needed room for a God who let his children suffer. 

I felt very alone during this season. I was a new mom while many of my friends still didn’t have children and the freedom that offers.  I was a working mom while other moms stayed home full time. I had a sick baby while many of my friends had healthy ones. I abandoned God while many of my friends were strong in their faith journey.

Now, that sick baby is almost 11 and wearing a men’s shoe size and never stops eating. Now that sick baby is strong and on a gymnastics team. Now, that tired mama is proud of who her boy is becoming. Now that tired mama has room for heartache in a much stronger faith.

I thought God was refusing to heal Mack because He just didn’t care. But I see now how much he did care. I see that he was strengthening and growing my faith. Growing up a baby faith that was naive and not yet tempered with suffering. Growing up a faith that could withstand the trials of marriage and parenting, a job as a crisis counselor, and ultimately the tragic, traumatic death of my father.

All those lessons learned while crying and rocking a starving baby were feeding a faith that could one day move mountains. See, things need to grow and sometimes it takes a pruning for the vine to produce the most fruit. A faith without challenge and question isn’t much of a faith at all. A faith that always wins won’t stand the test of time. But a faith that endures trials and digs deep will stand and is precious to the owner. Thank God for those long nights in the rocker and the hospital – they produced some beautiful fruit and a beautiful faith. 

Let me be….

On days when I don’t know who I am, or what I believe, on days when the lies are louder than your truth, on days when my head is foggy and the road is unclear…On days when I want to be someone else because my self doesn’t feel so great or so right or okay….

Let me be like creation: the mountains sing for you, the rivers and fields clap their hands for you; The stars shine and the sun wakes up only for you.                                               

Let me be like Mary and Esther and Ruth: saying yes when it’s hard but they know it’s right.

Let me be like Moses and Joshua and Abraham: believing even though the road is long, the cell is dark and the promise unseen.

Let me be like the 12: following you even when it doesn’t make sense and death is close and it feels like you’ve gone.

Let me be like David with a constant song in my heart and a faith in your rescue.

Let me be like the house built on the rock, standing firm despite the storm that comes and the lies that tear at my foundation.

Let me be like the child that sits close and believes every word you say because you are the king of the world.

Let me be like the widow who gave her last coin because she knew you were worth all she had.

Let me be like Nicodemus who sought you in the dark when the risk was high.

Let me be like the lilies of the field that never worry for provision. They exist simply to bring you glory.

Let me be in your shadow because there is rest and strength there.

Let me just be, just for your plan, your purpose, your glory, your kingdom.

Let me be for others, living water, an encourager, a refresher, a truth teller.

Let me be for you.