He loves me, he loves me not, he loves me….

Even though I’ve spent more of my life in my old Kentucky home, Alabama will always be home sweet to me (see what I did there?). 

Two weeks ago, I spent 7 days in my most happy, calming, spiritual place: Gulf Shores. When my feet are in that soft sand letting the waves fall over my toes, I feel Jesus so close. I always find myself singing or humming an old hymn (this trip it was How Great Thou Art), and I just believe Heaven must be filled with amazing beaches….perhaps with simultaneous sunrises and sunsets because I’m not sure which is more beautiful. 

While I so enjoyed my time away with my family making precious memories, I also spent a decent amount of my time paranoid about being in a bathing suit. Writing it, I see how trivial and sad it sounds, but I had BIG emotions over how my legs looked and moved at the beach. I saw other moms with kids who were fit, trim, and tan. Then I saw myself, in my skirted tankini, and wondered how I got here so quickly. And easily. I’m, for a lack of a better adjective, large. Extra large if you want to go by my shirt size. I’m bigger now, post vacation (LORT), than I’ve been except for being pregnant. While I’m glad there’s pictures of me playing with my children from this trip, I also noted each of them as my “before” picture. I never wanted to look this way, but I did nothing to prevent it and everything to encourage it. I have to own that, and I do. But beyond the truth of my appearance is how it affects my life. To say I have poor body image is putting it mildly. I see all my multitude of flaws and focus on them. I overlook my shiney hair and light blue eyes and how I can encourage others and make them laugh and smile and hone in on my super flabby belly and saggy butt. AND I let those things negate my positives. I can’t see past my arms that are gigantic. I can’t help but have a look of disgust on my face when sucking in just doesn’t do enough. I feel like the biggest mom and an embarrassment to my husband. My husband spent the entire drive home telling me I’m beautiful, but with every compliment I batted it away like a pesky mosquito, rejecting his words of affirmation that I need so desperately. I struggle. And I struggle feeling like I pull everyone down with me. 

Our last day in Gulf Shores, I had some time to go into the water without my kids (meaning I could go and play and not worry about a current sweeping them away). I wanted my wave that makes me get sand burn and have grit in my teeth. I went out alone, while my dad sat on the beach. I was, as ever, paranoid at first, being alone in the water and noticing other women who looked amazing. I noted my red one piece and thought, “people must think I’m a buoy…” then I turned around and faced only the ocean. My ocean. The vast space that met the sky. And for the first time all week, I felt small.

I felt calm. Secure. Peaceful. And small. After a week of feeling like everyone was looking at me and my cellulite and pale mom skin, I felt alone with God and the only thing big was Him. I did not feel beautiful, but I saw and soaked in God’s beauty in the perfect sky and endless water picking me up and gently placing me down. I no longer had focus on myself, but on my Creator and I did not want to move. I am someone who loves surprises and performing and attention (when I create the spectacle and can distract you from my issues), but here…..I loved the feeling that no one was looking at me. No one was judging me. I didn’t have to be anyone or anything to God. I just had to absorb the love He was showing me in that moment. 

And I did……

In all my glory….sucking in, self-conscious

A picture my husband took of me, without my knowledge, of him seeing me (from the side, people!) and thinking I was pretty. And liking my butt apparently. I’m working on accepting this and believing he sees me and loves me and finds me attractive. I’m working on it…..

Heart clutter

Is there anything that encompasses all the emotions in life more than motherhood? I think not…..

My days are spent in charge (I cannot say control because….let’s be real) of my littles. I’m responsible for their welfare…clothing, shelter, food, safety, health, general well-being, and hopefully some happiness. I tend to “check out” here and there, though, from complete interaction with them because I have household duties to do, or I have a need to write, or I just don’t feel like it. Boom! Sometimes I just don’t feel like it. Go ahead and cringe, shudder in horror, roll your eyes, etc. It’s fine. I’m learning to understand that it’s ok to be an ok mom. I don’t do crafts. I’m ok with some screen time. My kids eat tons of fruit and veggies and milk and whatever, but pop tarts and powdered donuts are a staple in this house. I stay on top of manners and respect, but I’ve been known to threaten without follow through a few times. I’m slowly coming around to the idea that I am not perfect, and I shouldn’t expect myself or my husband or my children to be perfect. Kids are kids. Sometimes they truly do need to scream and yell and run. Sometimes they have to whine (ugggggggggh). Sometimes I need to give them space to be kids and sometimes I need them to give me space to be me….as in not their mom. I’m always their mom, of course, and love and nurture and snuggle and all of that….but sometimes I need time to myself. I’m trying so hard to figure out who I am these days, and I can’t accomplish that with every waking second devoted to if they are entertained or learning or them always needing me. You have siblings for a purpose. Yes, Jesus knitted them in my womb for His own purpose, but my intention for your siblings is to give me a break.
Seriously.

I’m not callous about it. I’m overly sentimental and emotionally hoard all the things. I take pictures and videos constantly and am addicted to posting our lives on Facebook for posterity. Just that now…my babies are older everyday and they aren’t really babies anymore. I struggle between wanting to keep them little and small to rejoicing in the independence they (and I) are gaining and looking forward to seeing who they grow into being. Currently, I have a 6 year old who loves to please, who is loving, kind, friendly, energetic, goofy, and so so so smart. I have a 3 (nearly 4) year old who is sassy and fiery, so funny, a little entertainer with perfect amounts of sugar and spice. I have a 2.5yo who thinks he’s as big as the bigs and is rough and tough and crazy and sweet, he can run so fast and isn’t slowed down by much. They all adore each other and you’ve never been greeted by a happier bunch to see you when you get home…even if you’ve only been gone 15min. I’m undeserving of how good they are. I’d love to claim all of their charm as a product of my mothering, but I truly believe it’s all just who they are naturally. God gifted Colt with a sense of duty, of what is right and wrong. God gifted Scarlett with a strong sense of self…she’s confident in who she is. He gifted Gage with a sense of determination–no one will stop him. That may sound crazy to say about children so young, but I know what I see. My kids are amazing and I’m insanely proud of them and could burst open with love. All the while, I could surely lose my ever-loving mind. All the emotions, remember?

I was emailed Colt’s tball photo today. I stared at that big handsome man child thing and could only see a 2yo SBC (Sweet Baby Colt for those unaware)….my sweet baby who was his mama’s boy and devoted to me and dependent upon me and who made me a mom and love this life. I don’t see a 6.5 year old boy about to leave kindergarten. I don’t. I see my baby. Yet I also see the face of the man he will become….who looks so much like his daddy. I see a man who loves fully, is devoted, loyal, honest….I see the traits of his boyhood in his boyish face and how they will morph into the man he will be. Lord, help us to guide him in the ways he should go….

Insanely proud of my children. I worry about them. I pray for them. I am thankful beyond words for them. I love them. I’m annoyed by them. All the emotions, y’all. Motherhood: where your house and your heart are a constant mess ❤️ 

Awkward Mom Dot Com

Sooooooooo I am once again reaffirmed in my belief that EVERYone needs some therapy (some more extensive than others, but meh). I absolutely have needed it for numerous years and reasons, but I’m amazed at how quickly I’m seeing positive changes within myself and my world.

She gives me “homework” as I’ve mentioned before….and it gives me a true focus for the week. I’m famously unorganized and chaotic, and my brain cannot handle much before just shutting down (perfectionist, apparently, where if I can’t do it all I won’t do it at all. It’s lovely). Last week, I was told to be vulnerable with my husband. Last week, I learned as long as I tell him when I’m being vulnerable and don’t just spring it on him at 1030pm, he is a champion listener. Otherwise……..

So this week, I’m supposed to take risks. Oh boy. Me starting this new blog that’s all paid for and pretty and making all the posts public and whatnot, that was a big step for me. It’s hard to get passed my “everyone’s gotta like me” mindset and just do what I feel I’m supposed to with this life. But y’all(!!!) I’ve done more for my dreams in the last 2 weeks than what I’ve really done since I anxiously started Beauty school…..I’ve reached out (a little forced out, honestly and thankfully, by Chris) and heard back from a wonderful source about voice-over work (another life long dream) and how to go about it, AND I created my own Facebook page for my life shenanigans. If you haven’t seen it, please pop by and like it AND share it. It is adequately named Awkward Mom Dot Com. I feel really awkward and weird putting myself out there, but at the end of the day….I have this one life. I cannot let my fears control me because eventually it’ll all be over and I won’t have done much of what I wanted to. I want to encourage people. I always want people to like me, yes, but at the core of that is I want people to always feel comfortable around me and relaxed. I want to make people laugh and happy and feel uplifted and encouraged and fabulous when we part. That’s something about my job as a hairstylist I love so much……it enables me to talk and laugh with people and pretty them up so they leave feeling like a million bucks. It’s a good, solid feeling. 

I’m so incredibly tired these days. Exhausted is more accurate. I don’t sleep well, I’m trying to eat better but y’all….ugh. I want to be a great mom but I’m really just ok. I want to be a great wife but I’m really just ok. I want to be the greatest and best at everything I am and do, but I can’t. Knowing that has kept me from doing the things I rrrrrrreally want to because I have believed that being told “no” or something not coming to me just by wishing it means I’m not good enough and it’s not meant for me. I’m 35. I’m in chronic pain. My children are my heart and they won’t always be little or love me as hard as they do now. My husband and I are coming up on our 10th wedding anniversary and it’s all just flying by. I can’t catch it. I want to be who God made me specifically to be. I don’t know if that’s a Facebook personality who does voice-overs for commercials and keeps a blog about her anxiety and crazy life. But maybe it is because that honestly doesn’t sound that bad to me…….❤️

Like me, baby, one more time

#nofilter

Here is the place I’m planning to be my most real. This is the avenue I’m taking to invest my talent and the core of my being. I’m hoping that getting organized in thought (while simultaneously doing what I truly believe to be my calling) will help me to be more focused in this season of my life. I don’t want to be a stranger to those I hold most precious. I want my husband to know me, not just the bits I show him and the blemishes that peek through. I want him to know all the things that make me tick, that excite me, that inspire me, as well as all the things that provoke me or shut me down. I want my kids to know me and love me for who I am (their mommy who loves them completely and without condition) and what I am (a woman who needs extra help from time to time and finds no shame in that). 

My therapist asked me this week if anyone really knew me. I balked a little at that because my self-proclaimed highly self aware self screams transparency. I’ll point out my flaws before you do because I want you to know I’m aware. I’ll make fun of my flaws before you do. Because that gives me the control of how I think you think of me. It’s a big mess. While I feel transparent and that I am able to tell my stories with candor and honesty, I’m not sure anyone really knows me…because if they did, would they still like me? My husband does, of course, because he should know me best….but don’t think for one second I don’t worry myself to death about him finally getting sick of me. I know I’m exhausting. However, while he knows all my stories of childhood, adolescence, and college days, he didn’t live them. He sees them through his filter of my filter. He can sympathize as much as he can, but he doesn’t know. My sister knows.

We are 18 months apart and I need you to be aware that I’m the younger. She’s by far prettier than myself and, it goes without saying, my thisclose to a PhD slinging sister is more intelligent than I. She has a dream and she wrangles it down. She’s focused. She’s determined. She’s brave. She is not bound by anxiety and fear. She’s not afraid to do big things and answer God’s call on her life. She just does them. It’s not to say she doesn’t have her own flaws and insecurities (she’s told me a few times she has been jealous of me! Ha! ME! It’s insanity….), but it is to say that 2 people who came from the same 2 people and a mere year and 1/2 apart in age can be so different. One who works hard and faces down a challenge, one who only goes after what she thinks she can reasonably reach. Is it birth order? Are we a product of nature? Or is it more nurture and the relationship we have independently from each other and with our parents? I don’t know. I know we can remember the exact same event and have different feelings about it. I know certain things have helped my anxiety flourish (the need for harmony and to fix it all), while those same things have created in my sister a strength and independence.

I don’t necessarily see myself as weak in our life scenario…..but I do see her as strong……

So. This blog is my new investment in myself! This is where I plan to be vulnerable and honest (as well as encouraging and surely have a funny story here and there). I moved over all my other postings here, but I wanted a fresh start as well. I want to come here and be able to be open and real and true. I want to encourage anyone who reads this to live their life according to God’s plan for it and to not be scared. Don’t be scared of being someone you think someone else may not like. I’ve omitted parts of my life and who I am to fit into other people’s expectation of who I am/should be. I don’t want to do that. I don’t want my kids to do that. And to just start this off with a big ol bang, I’m posting a picture of me with no makeup and no filter (and not even good lighting sheesh). Please be aware I tried to cancel a dr’s appointment this week because I had forgotten about it and hadn’t put on makeup. If it wasn’t for the possibility of upping my Zoloft (which happened, praise be!), I probably would have cancelled it because that’s just the kind of crazed egomaniac I am. Enjoy all my dark circles and sad eye brows and all the other flaws you know I know you see…..

Homework

In my therapy each week, I’m sent home with homework. The last 2 weeks have been tough….having to start changing the way I think and process and view myself(!) is no small task. Yet I’m determined to do the work and grow and change and be the best version of myself. This week, my homework is to write something, anything, everyday. As someone who longs to BE a writer and write wonderful, witty, inspirational, encouraging, words (dare I say the word books)…..who loves to share my experiences to help myself clear my head AND hopefully let anyone having similar issues know they are not alone….you’d think this would be an easy assignment. Given that she gave me a topic, it is….but it isn’t.
I’ve written everyday but the first day. I published one blog already this week. It was slightly controversial, I suppose, but the kicker with anxiety is the over-thinking. Did I upset anyone? Was I clear in my thoughts? Does anyone think less of me? Am I now thought of in a way I don’t want to be? Am I a heretic? Did I show love? Is my crazy showing?

This morning, I busted out my red journal that my daughter has taken over with her doodles, and wrote the following about what anxiety is, for me:
Anxiety is being aware of every. Single. One. Of your flaws

Anxiety is being ashamed of your gifts and talents for fear you may come across too strong/with an ego

Anxiety is being afraid to fail and afraid to succeed

Anxiety is both your straight jacket and your security blanket

Anxiety is thinking you can do everything and unable to do anything

Anxiety is wanting to control the things you cannot

Anxiety means everything is death

Anxiety fuels an actual diagnosis by confirming fears and beginning new ones

Anxiety is how I’ve decorated my house and I want to burn it down

I’m not free. I’m not at peace. I may have happiness but I have no joy. It is both the chain on my ankle and my crutch. It lingers behind every smile, every bedtime, every trip….waiting to steal any glimpse of peace of mind. It’s a pot that always boils.
Anxiety is crippling. It makes me question every relationship. It forces me to replay every conversation and worry that I said the wrong thing. I focus too much on what others think of me and if they like me rather than just living my life on my terms and as a woman of faith. As a Christian with anxiety, it only fuels the feelings of inadequacy. Statements like, “just give it to God” sound so nice, but it’s harder than that. And while I know those statements are made in love and a desire to be encouraging, they sting like a whip. I can’t just give it to God. I can’t shake it. Random visual–You know when you get attacked by the sand bug things in super Mario brothers 3 and you have to jump a bunch to get them off of you? There’s me. Trying to jump away the anxiety that’s stuck to me. It’s like a chicken nugget from McDonald’s….they don’t really taste that good, but they do in their way and it’s nearly its own kind of comfort food…familiar and consistent. And then you realize they’re nothing but pink sludge. Anxiety is pink sludge. #themoreyouknow
For as long as I can remember, I have known fear. I have memories as far back as 2 years old. I remember turning 3. I used to walk down my hallway, as a child, with my hand on my back because I always felt like something was behind me. When Chris and I were first married, I had our apartment blessed because at 26 years old, I still felt like I was being followed. That feeling stopped, but the fear remains. The fear of death, of my children dying, my husband dying, my parents dying…I fear an accident that could leave my children motherless and Chris a widower. Then I worry about him getting remarried to someone who can do my job better than me, that he could love more….my children would only know her as their mother. Y’all…..
These are REAL fears for me, even though my current reality is nothing close to that. Anxiety does not care about real. It focuses on possibilities. It focuses on the what ifs. It reminds you, constantly, that you’re not special or immune and highlights all of your insecurities. Anxiety is a thief….it steals peace, kills joy, and plants doubt. It makes me question the God I’m trying so hard to know. Is He good? Is He loving? If it’s all for His will, who is to say His will isn’t my tragedy? Anxiety makes you FEEL all the fear, doubt, worry. It feels like exhaustion because it is exhausting. The reality, though, the real question is–does the way anxiety makes me feel equal truth?
Lord, I hope not….

The Gong Show

Im trying something new tonight, folks, so get ready!!! A MOVIE REVIEW!! Wootyhoooooo!
If you’re anything like me (35 year old mom who still likes a Disney movie, and considers those that came out in the 90s pure classics), you were anxiously awaiting the live action beauty and the beast. I could not wait! I love Emma Watson. Even though I’m still mad at Dan Stevens because of his departure from Downton Abbey, he made a great Beast. I had my reservations about ol dude playing Gaston (he simply wasn’t BIG enough), but gosh darn it he owned it. Then comes my beloved Josh Gad playing LeFou. He was the best cast character, to me, prior to seeing the film.
Then, however long before the premier of the movie, comes the uproar. “LeFou has a gay storyline!” Egad! And then boycotts and blog posts and lamenting over explaining something to their children. I’ve got three words for this: ay yi yi.
Y’all. Cmon. This is a FAIRY TALE. The characters are not real. I’m not going down the path of a story about “beastiality” either because that’s just as dumb. It’s made up….and besides, he was a human, just turned into a beast because of MAGIC. So, can’t really be beastiality. Duh. And they didn’t smooch til he was turned back to his human form. On and on….HOWEVER, this whole storyline with LeFou was blown WAY (and I mean it, people. WAY!!!) out of proportion. Had no one said anything, anyone seeing it (Christian, Jew, liberal, conservative, peacock) would have chuckled and gone on their merry way. But because a big deal was made over a 2 second shot on the screen….Lord, help us.
So many people are offended by SO many things anymore. Prayer is offensive. Liberals are offensive. Women are offensive. Men are offensive. Conservatives are offensive. Religions are offensive. Companies are offensive. Disney making reference to homosexuality ever so slightly is offensive and results in a boycot. I’m ALL ABOUT people staying true to their convictions and their conscience. I’m not here to spout off at the mouth about anyone being wrong in what they feel is right. I AM here to say that there are gays in this world. There are gays in your communities and neighborhoods and, please Jesus, in our churches. And a mass boycot over something so truly non-life shattering as LeFou…..what does that show?
I’m well aware of what the Bible says about homosexuality. I’m well aware that conservative christians see it as the sin that is celebrated in ways that other sins are not. I get it. I hear you. I see you. However, in my life, I have been BLESSED by members of the gay community. I am fortunate enough to have met and become friends with and love and BE loved by some of the most amazing people who are gay. I struggle with it from the stand point of Christianity…..and what makes them happy, and consequently me happy for them, may not be what makes them holy. And yet that is not for me to DECIDE. I am called to love and have relationship with people. I thank God above I have the good knowledge of those in my life, both past and present, who are gay. What makes me grateful for them has nothing to do with their gayness, but everything to do with their hearts, their compassion, their humor, their talent, their honesty, and their love. Anyone who may be reading this who didn’t go see Beauty and the Beast bc of the LeFou/Gaston stuff, know I’m not judging or condemning or any of that. It is just so heavy on my heart to say something….and this is how I handle the heavyonmyheart stuff. I’ve gotten up from my chair 3 times while writing this to eat spoonfuls of shells and cheese, cold from the pot on my stove. Who of you will boycot my blog for gluttony? Who of you will refuse friendship with me bc I chose to eat 3 (yes 3) cheeseburgers in one day this week? Who of you will be concerned for my soul bc I made light of it and joked on myself for eating all the things and pretty much celebrated it by tossing back 2 glasses of wine? You’re not going to boycot me. If you did ANYthing at all it would be to come to me in love and ask me what’s up. Because what came first with Jesus and the woman at the well? Telling her to go and sin no more? Or a conversation?
Relationships. Love. Those are the things. I’m not saying you’re a bad Christian or person for not seeing Beauty and the Beast. Lord knows. (But you ARE missing Audra McDonald and that is a true travesty. She is amazing and I want to be her when I grow up.) I just feel so much for people, and I hurt when they hurt, and I become sad and frustrated when I see fellow Christians thinking they are following the Word of God by not engaging at all(!) with gay people. This world, overall, has become a world where it is more important to be right than to show love.
1 Corinthians 13:1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

Nevermore

I have wanted to blog so many times over the past 10 months….I have a ton of random scriblings on church bulletins and my journal pages, but nothing that I wanted to actually show the world. Not that what I was thinking wasn’t worth the paper it was written on, but because I feel like EVERY SINGLE TIME I publish something on here I’m wearing all black and have a crow on my shoulder. Gloom and doom. While I don’t consider myself to be a negative or very sad person, a passerby of this blog would probably argue otherwise. On here it’s all of the sadness, none of the stories in my life that are hilarious or just special. And this one is NO DIFFERENT! Hang on, friends. It may not be funny, but it’s about to get real. When you’re a woman, who has the body that she’s both given herself (i.e. Post baby mid thirties all the starches) and been given (i.e. Autoimmune disorder genetics all the pain), it doesn’t just wear on your emotions and physical being, but your very spirit and your mind. Mental illness is something that can be traced way on back up in my family tree. It hasn’t skipped my generation. I have anxiety issues. I’ve started having depression issues. I’m dealing with body image issues and just general self-worth. To say my autoimmune disorder is crippling is completely understood and makes me a sympathetic character in my story. To say I have mental illness makes some people kinda recoil back and both not want to know all the details AND think they already do. I get it. Even I, with all of my Facebook overshare, thinks discussing mental illness out in the social media open may, in fact, be too much. But oh well. Please do not think I’m suffering from suicidal thoughts or self-harm. That’s not my particular issue. I’m so terrified of death, the one thing none of us can prevent, that I wouldn’t dare take any of that upon myself. I’ve cried at the thought of my own funeral. It’s both extremely egotistical and pathetic all at once. No judging. I’m currently on a low dose of generic Zoloft and recently started some one on one therapy. So far, both are just ok. The therapy is in purge mode, and I’m not convinced the meds are doing much of anything. I worry about everything, including being too much for my therapist. Or making her think SOMEthing that I didn’t mean for her to. Because I control therapy. Obviously. ::frustrated emoji faces:: I just came home from a quick trip down to my favorite hometown of Mobile, Alabama. My best friend from there experienced the loss of her mom, and the service was Saturday. I needed to go, both for my friend and myself, and I am so thankful I was able to get away. Twenty hours in a car for a trip that surrounded a death will do a lot for you…especially if you’re a mom of three and suddenly On said car trip SOLO. It was peaceful. It was quiet (when I wasn’t singing JUST LIKE Aretha). It was reflective. People, I am a mess. Today, like all of my mornings for the past month, I woke up in pain. I went to bed last night, like all of my nights for the past month, in pain. I slept not in restful bliss, but in tortuous naps…where I thought more than once to just get up and be done with trying to sleep. My shoulder, my hips, my low back, my neck….all hurt. Then today, I am exhausted like I am everyday…both from general lack of rest as well as the tiredness that accompanies my disorder. To say it’s hard to function is an understatement. It’s all a mess because I’m frustrated with the state of my house (clutter), but am both too tired and too overwhelmed to just fix it. Im disengaged with my children and scared I’m a bad mom, that they notice mommy is tired and frustrated more than they notice my intense and fierce love for them. I want to fight and scream and conquer and do and BE, but instead….I don’t. I am not. I cannot. Most evenings are spent staying up too late, scrolling my phone for something to numb the feelings of numbness. i feel like I go about my awake times like I go about my sleep….in spurts. I lay down but I don’t sleep. I’m awake but I’m not alive. I go through the motions. I hit the basics and nothing beyond. I aggravate myself. I can only imagine the frustration of my husband and I’m terrified to even think if my children are affected by their less-than mom. I do not say this for pity or attention or some weird need to be told, “no you’re not that way!” I am that way. I’m hyper aware of myself, especially the negative parts of me. maybe I’m too hard on myself, as far as not acknowledging the good things about me as easily as I can the bad, but I know what my days look like. I know what happened here today. I know that I could have done and been better. Yet at the same time, I couldn’t have. My physical ailments prevent mobility and mock me. I just want to rest and feel rejuvenated, but for me to be still means my body turns to stone and turns on me. Yet for me to be active and keep my body loose means I need to exercise and get good rest. My body can’t take the movement, my body can’t take the stillness. Likewise, my mind can’t take the movement, and my mind can’t take the stillness. I look at my naked body and when my eyes finally reach my face after the difficult trek around my thighs, belly, and arms…my eyes reflect both my soul and my physical state: sad. Only if I were placed in cement could I be more immobile in both body and spirit. After all of that, know I am seeking help. Actively. I finally have a therapist but I do utilize those closest to me for venting and reassurance, love and guidance. I am as honest as I can possibly be with my husband when I’m having a bad day. While I don’t want to embrace my issues, I do have to acknowledge them. They exist. Me trying to hide them or make excuses does no one any favors. i am not sad all day everyday. But I am sad for a bit here and there everyday. It’s hard to have my thought pattern. It’s hard to live in a broken body. It’s hard to be a woman and not feel as if you’re living up to the American standard of pretty. I’m vain. That’s hard for me and I’m not asking to be told I’m pretty. My face is not my issue (hence 1012 selfies on my phone and in your newsfeed), my body is, both in how it feels and how it looks: Disappointing, all the way ’round. It appears to me as the manifestation of how I feel—sick and tired. I’ve only recently really started to accept that I do have both this physical disorder AND this mental illness. I’ve always talked and joked about it, that I’m a unicorn and hypochondriac and crazy. So many jokes. I even poke fun at my “90 year old self” because hell. It’s how I feel! But some days, like today, and other days I’ve posted sad, depressing, could have been written by Edgar Allen Poe blogs, i just have to write out the sad and shake it off. I will feel better when this is done….after I obsess over whether or not I should have actually published this. I write to work things out as much as I write to be real and relatable and transparent and to maybe even help someone who feels the same. We are not alone, none of us. I am not the only person who feels overwhelmed, or less than, or crazy, or fat, or anxious or sad. And neither are you. I also know I’m pretty and loved and funny and generous and kind and empathetic and loving. Just today the physical pain is making the mental pain exacerbated. And I’ve medicated with Oreos and blogging, because that’s real life. ❤

just keep swimming, just keep swimming…..

The good thing about fasting is that with every pang, you’re reminded to pray. The problem with fasting is that you have hunger pangs.

I’m finishing up my 1st (last??) day of fasting, and other than thinking I’ve lost hearing in one ear, have faired decently well. I was supposed to do a juice fast, but my juice had expired 4 days ago. Plus my sweet Colt had brought me my forbidden cup of coffee not knowing I wasn’t really supposed to have it. Luckily, after 2 sips, I noticed it was in a mug from the counter. That hadn’t been washed. Because dishwasher.

I’ve definitely felt like I heard God today….and I don’t know when I heard Him last. I had a stream of consciousness journaling session earlier that looked like multiple personality disorder on paper, and then just writing one word instructions over and over. “Write” “write” “write” “listen” “share” “lead”

Ok…write, share, fine. Listen. Ok. LEAD? I lead my 4yo to the potty and my babies to bed. That’s about it. I am not a leader, that’s not what I’m here for, not my calling, and definitely not my gifting. In fact, the word automatically makes me think of Rose from The Golden Girls, “You can lead a trout to water, but you have to hurry or else it’ll drown.” There’s deep truth in that. I cannot be responsible for the trout. Trout are always in the fight of their lives, are they not? Constant battle, swimming upstream….difficult lives you live, trout.

$#*+ maybe I already lead the trout. “Follow me, friends, I know the way!” ::head punch::

Anyway (mercy…), I like to think that a) I can write and that b) with my writing I can encourage people. I like to think that when someone reads my thoughts or ramblings or questions/conflicts or whatever, that they can see they are not alone. That maybe they can do this life…see that God wants us to do the work! He wants us to ask the questions and live the life He gave us so we can find our way back to Him. I like to think my crazy brain can do that–my words and fleshing out of things can start out messy, but eventually help me, and someone else, find beautiful. I just don’t know if it’s true. I know I have failed miserably before…..

I am fasting because I need some clarity. Certain situations continually come into my life that are unwelcome, unhealthy, and unstable. These situations are always handled the same way (miserably), and I am always sad that it doesn’t just work out. Isn’t that the definition of insanity? Doing the same action and expecting a different result? All that *I* know to do is cut ties. I cannot keep revisiting this and subjecting myself to the constant battle of irrationality. But then I honestly wonder WWJD. The snarky side of me thinks he would cast out a demon or 12, but eh. I’ve cried, begged, yelled, cussed, been gentle, been mean. I’ve tried to rally the troops and encourage…..no approach of mine seems to work, the trout are still following my lead upstream…..so here I sit. And fast. And want spaghetti. And pray. And write, write, write……hoping I’m not really being asked to lead, but ready to listen for that call.

****ETA I misquoted Rose. Apparently she discussed a herring. Also, salmon swim upstream, not trout. I have 3 kids and haven’t eaten. No judging!!!

The aspiring virtuous woman rant….

It’s been almost a year since I’ve written. Well, I’ve written since then….but I haven’t blogged. Not for lack of things to say, but lack of a steady thought. My mind goes in about 500 different directions at any given time and it’s a wonder I know my own name. I was driving down the bypass this morning and thought the road looked different. Less trees? Did something get torn down last night? No? Just me? Ok then…..

What I’ve experienced in the last year includes, but is not limited to, the following: immense joy in all 3 of my children, exhaustion, high anxiety over continuing health questions, restlessness, happiness, heightened sense of self, a messy house, an onslaught of laundry, paleo, extreme feelings of inadequacy.

Inadequacy. Something that has been chained to my ankle for as long as I can remember. I drag it around with me daily, and try to remove it every night. However, I feel like I only polish it while I’m feverishly trying to cut it loose. I can go weeks where I’m drowning in my life. Understand I L O V E my life. I love that I’m a stay at home mommy!  I’m thankful I’m a hairdresser a few hours a week. I love being a housewife. But it’s a solitary existence that can lead to feeling like you’re either fussing at someone all the time, or someone is always fussing at you. My dog throws a fit when we leave the house for any reason….so I’m even getting it from him. I seem to be in constant defense mode. House isn’t clean? I picked it up 40 times today! I posted too many pictures on fb? I’m capturing the memories of my children! Clothes are piled up? They’re CLEAN! Meanwhile, I’ve lost myself somewhere. I’m no longer “Monica” but “mommy” and “wife”….which are roles I relish(!!), but also want to be able to take off sometimes. Can I hashtag here? Because #TRUTH

I went on my Walk To Emmaus at Asbury a few weeks ago. While I started my weekend tweaking out over not having my phone or access to my home life, I quickly was able to relax in people getting to know me as ME and not someone’s mom or wife. Or even hairstylist. I was just me. I could be vulnerable and open and honest. I could laugh and cry and have the tears be about me and what I was experiencing then and there. That sounds so selfish saying it like that, and maybe it is. But it was GREAT for a few days of guilt free self time. It’s why I was there in the first place–so that I could find my relationship with God. I’m exhausted of playing a role. I don’t want to play mommy. I don’t want to play wife. I don’t want to play Christian. I want to BE those things, and be in relationship with the people who make me the titles of mommy, wife, and Christian. It is way too easy to define an entire person by the choices, specifically the mistakes, they make. I’m guilty of doing that, but I’m also aware of it. I do not want to be defined by my poor choices. I don’t live in a land of poor choices. I may pass through there, but I didn’t build a house. I don’t want to be defined by my past (and sometimes even my present)….what I hope defines me is how you feel when you’re with me, if I can be of help to you, make you laugh, help you see your worth. What I hope defines me is how people see Christ in me. I’m trying to rest in God’s grace and love for me. I’ve never fully accepted those things…..my life has been a wonky wandering to heaven. My focus has been to stay out of hell. My focus has not been on the gifts of grace, mercy, forgiveness, and relationship through Jesus Christ. I very nearly missed the point.

Relationship. That’s the point, right? To be in community with people….to have relationships, to have friends, to help each other, laugh together, do life together,  encourage each other and to make disciples. The promise of God includes the perfection of Heaven, but we aren’t there yet! We are still living our lives….we still have work to do. We still have purpose. I have purpose. You have purpose. I don’t always know what that is….right now, it’s my family. My children, to be sure, but it’s also my husband. And Biblicaly, he’s the most important one……

There’s a reason I feel inadequate. It’s because I am. I am inadequately showing love to my husband.  I am inadequately receiving his love to me. I am inadequately in relationship with him. I’ve gotten so wound up in my life as mom to our precious babies that I have dropped the ball with him. And I am sorry. I began to do what I’d imagine a lot of us moms do….we go 110% into mom mode (because our days are spent with our children and not our husband), and squeak by, by playing the part of wife. Like a play, I put on the costume and the makeup and set my stage. I act out the scene. But I do not engage, not really. It’s not an ensemble cast. It’s a one woman show. If I allow him in, I go off script and improv has never really been my thing. I like printed words. I like a script. I like my(!) script. I like arguing in text. I like control……as in my relationship with Christ, I couldn’t trust him because I didn’t believe his love for me. Why should God love me? I’m foul. I’m rotten. I’m spoiled and frustrating and all things unworthy. Why should Chris love me? I’m anxiety overload and tired and grumpy and frumpy and needy and all things annoying.

But Christ does love me. Because He made me….he’s a good, good Father, and
made me for a purpose.  My husband loves me. Because he chose me. We are man and wife by God for a purpose. While I am still learning how to talk to him….while I’m realizing how I need to listen to him…..he loves me. “He” being both God and my husband.

So while I may acknowledge I am inadequate, that does not mean I am damaged goods. I have failings and shortcomings. I have things to improve within myself. I could always be a better wife/mother/Christian. Always. But what I have to remind myself, and perhaps anyone reading this, is that I am worthy. I can accept God’s love. I can accept the love of my husband. Not because of anything I did for them, but of what Jesus has done for me and for the ways Chris does show me he loves me. Chris and I don’t speak the same love language. At all. We are both very stubborn and combative and prideful. We cut each other to the core because we are 2 people hurting and it’s easy to deflect and hurt the one you love the most. Yep I said it’s easy. He questions where clean clothes are (typically the dryer….), I question if he even knows how to use the washer. Easy. He questions me about an empty wrapper on the counter, I ask the last time he took the trash to the curb. Easy! And pointless. It’s hurtful. Plus, it tarnishes everything. A few years ago, I thought I was encouraging Chris to ask for a much deserved raise. I used words to describe him such as “smart,” “educated,” “experienced,” “loyal” “amazing,” “deserving”….but because of years of snappy comebacks, all he heard from me was “inadequate” (…..#gutpunch)

This weekend has been rough for us. We had a fight that, per the norm, escalated too quickly and destroyed our time together. While we have different perceptions of how it all went down, we used the same, single word to describe how we currently feel: defeated. He went to bed an hour ago, defeated and done. I watched him silently walk down the hallway and I was equally defeated and done. I started to write because this is how I work things out in my head and my heart.  I blogged vs just scribbling because I’ve talked to friends and my feelings are not unique to me. God does not tell us we are inadequate. God does not tell us we are unlovable. God asks us to love Him because He first loved us…that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Take. That. In. Seriously. I got saved at 6, but didn’t accept that until 2 weeks ago! But since accepting it, I’m also seeing other love than I’ve basically been rejecting because I didn’t feel adequate. In not accepting the love offered to me, I come across as unloving. That is absolutely wrong, but perception is for real. How one feels
often trumps how things are. The same goes for him….what he says to me gets perceived as unloving and unkind when I don’t like how he said it. Tone. And round and round and round we go…..

This has gone in a fairly different direction than I thought, but there it is. I hate feeling inadequate. I hate feeling like I’m less than. I hate thinking that my husband thinks those things of me. Because the truth is that he doesn’t. The truth is, while he gets frustrated with me and can oftentimes also do/say the wrong thing, he loves me. In spite of my failings. In spite of my shortcomings. In spite of everything, he loves me. I hope that, in spite of all of his own feelings of inadequacy, he knows that I love him regardless of ANYthing. I can perceive whatever. I can feel whatever. But the truth….the truth is love. And I can accept that…….

Dear 2013…

Dear 2013,

I’m going to go ahead and need you to stop the madness. So far, you’ve proven yourself to be quite the %*&$. My grandfathers gone within 30 days. My sister-in-law moving to Guatemala. My own sister and her family moving to New Orleans. A friend from college suddenly just passing away leaving his wife and baby girl, after getting in the best shape of his life. A friend from high school and beauty school having her 2 year old daughter diagnosed with both cancer and a rare auto-immune disease.The list goes on.

WHAT IN THE NAME OF ALL THINGS HOLY IS GOING ON HERE?!?

Oh, yes, I know I still have much to be thankful for….I know I know I know. I’m sure there is a plan at work and God is in control. I can count my blessings. I’m not dead. I don’t have a sick baby. My spouse is still alive and well. I’m FINE. Yet those around me seem to be falling into utter chaos and I can’t help but self-centeredly sit back and wonder when it’s my turn to have the calamity strike.These people have now become mine. I worry about them. I pray for them and their families. I miss them. I wonder what I can possibly physically DO to help…and is there anything?? My problems are so trivial and so insignificant and STUPID that I want to smack myself for trying to complain. About anything. Ever. I can’t help but flood my son’s bedtime prayers with phrases such as “help them” “be merciful” “reveal yourself”….and all he needs to hear is “thanks, God, for mommy and daddy” etc etc not scary stuff. Children should not get sick. Mommy and daddy should not die when little ones are so little. Life should not be so troubling.

We’ve got crazy weather, awful politics, unemployment, wars, crashes, innocent people going through the most heinous of times…..I want to stomp my foot and scream, “it’s not FAIR!” because it isn’t.

Upon hearing a friend is dead because her husband shot her, and their 4 children are left without any parents, or explanation, becaue their father then shot himself, I started to rock my daughter…..I started humming the song I’ve sang to Scarlett since she was in my womb:

Bless the Lord, oh my soul

Oh my soul

Worship his holy name

Sing like never before

Oh my soul

and worship His holy name

I will worship Your holy name

I could hear my voice and Scarlett quietly sucking on two of her fingers. I could feel the light weight of her, relaxed and resting in my arms. I felt the familiar heat from anxiety in my neck, but I couldn’t see past my tears.

I truly feel the easiest way for me to see God is in nature. I will see a beautiful sunset with the clouds perched just so, and I am filled with awe and love and turn pentacostal in my car, raising hands saying, “HALLELUJAH!” and laughing when Colt asks, “hawawooya, mommy?” I see God in my babies faces. I feel God when my husband, who is always busy at church running sound so we never sit together, comes to stand with me and take communion. It is abundantly easy and glorious to see God in nature, in family, in beauty and love.

It is terribly and heart-wrenchingly hard to see God in death. In despair. It is hard to see God when the unGodly happens. Yet I know it is often in those times that people turn to Him. Christian cancer patients feel their death is not in vain if just one person has started to pray during their battle. What? Seriously? They have a deeper connection and firmer grasp on God and His love than I ever have.(than I ever will??) I struggle so hard with death, that no one can escape it. I struggle with the fact I brought 2 lives into this world knowing that one day, they will also be no longer. God, keep me from ever seeing that world. I struggle knowing that there is life after death because I don’t know what that looks like or how I will get there…..

The mystery of why we are here at all is not foreign to me. I don’t understand that if God wanted fellowship with us, and for us to be with Him always, why he created us as humans with choice in the first place. It seems cruel. We are obviously going to make mistakes. We are obviously going to fall short. We are obviously going to lose. But then, yes, He sends us Jesus. He sends us our Savior. And yet here we are…..still struggling thousands of years later. Here we are, still trying to figure it out. The words have not changed. The story is the same. Yet so are the questions!

I am apparently more frustrated than I even knew when I started this post a few days ago. I call myself a Christian….for fear that I am not. I know Jesus lived. I do believe He is who He said He was. I have heard all my life of God’s love and mercy….and I know I have experienced Grace and compassion. I have felt forgiveness. But I have yet to feel redeemed. I have yet to feel free. I have yet to be the child of God I know I am meant to be. I struggle with everything. I am lazy in my search. I have little desire to read the Bible, but I demand all the answers like petulant child. -sigh-

I am completely unlovable and annoying.

I am so frustrated with all of the loss this year. I have lost relatives and friends. I have fought depression and I have embraced my worry and stress. I pray. I pray. I wish. I hope. Do I believe? I don’t know. I do, I don’t. I doubt. I get distracted…..I can barely truly enjoy the good for fear of the bad that will surely follow. I am a prisoner.

…..and I am clinging to my cell.