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3.28.2016

the Lamb has overcome!



One of my favorite verses is 1 Corinthians 15:55: "Oh death, where is your sting? Oh hell, where is your victory?"

It is so simple, yet encompasses all we celebrate on Easter.

Death, which wracks our world with pain and grief. Death which does not discriminate, which to our minds is the worst possible that could touch our lives -- to be separated from the people we love. It's quite a claim... victory over death. It says there is more...

Jesus has conquered. Jesus has won. God, our omnipresent, omnipotent, most high God, who is before and after, who cannot be contained by heaven and earth, chose us! It was his good pleasure for all things to dwell in him.

I hope for every believer that the story of the cross never grows old. We can't really wrap our minds around it... but I hope it always enthralls and brings people to their knees.

"For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross." Colossians 1:19






















3.14.2016

psalm 139 for mamas

You know when I sit down and when I rise up. God knows how busy my days are. He sees the days when I barely have time to relax, when I'm caring for grumpy children, when I'm constantly cleaning after someone, and when I'm rocking a baby between the hours of 2 and 4 in the morning instead of sleeping. You are intimately acquainted with my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, you know it all. He knows how I react. He knows what sets me off. He knows the areas in which I struggle to be patient and react with kindness and grace instead of anger. Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? In my most difficult moments, God is still there. When the kids are being crazy, and I'm winning the Not-So-Greatest-Mom Award, he is there with me. He's always there. He is peace when I am not. I'm human, and I'll fail... but he will never fail me. If I say, "Surely, the darkness will overwhelm me," ...Even the darkness is not dark to you, and the night is as bright as day. When I feel hopeless and I've committed every mommy fail in the book, God is never hopeless! He sees past the dark days. He always has hope for me. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Who I am -- as a mother, woman, wife, and daughter of God -- is enough. He created me this way for a reason, and he gives me the power through the Holy Spirit to be transformed. It's a process, and he is patient. In your book were all written the days ordained for me. My vocation as a mommy is on purpose. My children are my ministry. I am to love them with Christ's love and guide them in Jesus' footsteps. And I know this is something I can do with his help, because they are a gift and he has trusted me with them! How precious are your thoughts about me, oh God! How vast the sum of them. From the time he began knitting me together in my own mother's womb, he's thought of my life, my protection, my reconciliation with him through his Son. He loves me as I love my children... more than I could love my children, actually. Search me and know my heart... know my anxious thoughts. He knows all my worries, all my fears. For my children's safety, well-being, development, health. He knows I worry that I am not good enough. He knows me. Who better to trust, than him? Lead me in the everlasting way. He will bless my efforts as a mother and he will lead me as long as I am willing to follow. I know in him, there is peace and fulfillment. In him, I find my rest.

2.15.2016

lent

I am practicing Lent for the first time, ever. I find Catholicism to be a rich, beautiful branch (some may say, the trunk) of Christianity. I love the idea of giving up something that distracts from Christ. The idea of giving up two things has been pulsing in my heart lately, for months. Though it may seem silly to put such weight on seemingly frivolous subjects, to me this Lenten season is so much more than just abstaining from something that makes me feel a little guilty. I've been feeling God call me to put a break on two things heavily, and I figured now was as good a time as any to obey: social media and purchasing wants.

Here's why I'm giving them up.

Social media is so distracting to me. I find myself checking my phone at any quiet moment during the day -- first thing in the morning, meal time, when the kids have quiet play time in their room, while I'm making meals, or even just to catch a breath in between kissing ouchies and sweeping the floor and folding laundry. It's not like I have all the time in the world to sit on my butt and peruse Facebook, but often my day turns into just that. Social media is like crack to me, I'm embarrassed to admit, and it sucks me in! It's quick, it's available in a click, and it's easy to pick up and put down again in a moment. I tell my kids movies and computer games are like junk food for the brain. Once I pop, I can't stop.

Buying wants means anything from those cute sticky notes in the dollar aisle at Target, a cup of coffee at Barnes & Noble, or cheap and adorable home decor at Marshall's (so dangerous). This also ties in with my social media crack -- I love home decor and I'm always looking at decor on Pinterest and Instagram. In actuality, I don't spend a lot of money on things, and I don't think buying something now and then is bad. But when it contributes to a sense of discontent, and thinking, "If only I had this new throw pillow, my living room would look perfect," or "all I want to do right now is relax and just spend ten bucks at a thrift store," then to me, there's a problem. If I'm spending a chunk of my time scrolling through cute homes on Pinterest, but feel there isn't enough time in my day to pray for my kids and crack open my Bible, there's a problem.

This Lent, I really want to shift my focus. I think part of the reason these two things have been on my heart is because I really yearn for simplicity and order. I get overwhelmed with housework and noise, but I know social media contributes to this a lot. For whatever reason, I am very short with my kids when I'm using social media -- I yell more and my patience is zapped. And refraining from buying little things while I'm out and about will be a great lesson in restraint and self-control.

I want my focus to be on my family and on Christ. I hope Lent teaches me a good lesson... I'm on day 5 and already thinking of giving up social media for good. Of course, I'll see how I feel about that in another 35 days... :) My mind is so quiet, and for the record, my home has been in perfect order for five days straight. And I don't think this is a coincidence!

1.04.2016

sound waves in my chest

Anxiety is not always accompanied by sadness, and sometimes anxiety just is. It's not always triggered or brought on by some awful event. Sometimes, it just appears. Like your body thinks it's walking up to the high dive, but you're actually just sitting at home reading a pleasant book and you're all, "Whoa body, chill."

In the past, I have not been so open about my struggles with anxiety and depression because I didn't know it was so bad, and it was embarrassing. Now, when I talk about my anxiety,I am consciously breaking out of my shell and saying, "I'm imperfect and have these issues and they actually effect my life in these big ways, but I'm learning how to be better." Please good lord don't pity the person with anxiety or depression. I don't want pity, I need empathy. And I need to feel like I am enough. I don't feel like that yet, but I'm trying. That doesn't make me sad, because I accept that I'm human and it's more of an emotional shrug, Oh well. Someday I will feel that I am enough.

In the past I thought my anxiety was laziness. I really did. I was told often as a child that I was lazy, and so I've always believed I was lazy. But then I'd have days where I'd work my ass off for school or at work, or I'd have a really great day and tackle a million responsibilities and feel energized and optimistic and actually have fun doing it, and I'd think, wait a minute, I'm not lazy. I am not lazy.

(Just say no to labeling children.)

Anxiety for me, today, is this: I am sitting up to my neck in molasses, and my chest throbs and writhes... the kind of hurt where you're on the very edge of a cliff and your arms are spinning, trying to find balance so you don't topple into nothingness. It's the exact feeling of fear, only I'm not actually scared. The feeling of being on the verge of tears, only I'm not actually sad. And every time I move, my chest tightens more and my heart starts thumping like I've just run a mile. My throat catches and all of a sudden I can't take a full breath, my nerves feel like the visual sound waves in Disney's Fantasia, reacting to every single noise. I am a cup filling up with water, and every move, every sound, every time I try to get up and do something, the cup fills up a little bit more, until it threatens overflow. And the overflow is the break down. So I sit. Because I don't want to break.



I used to think this was sadness, but it's different. In the past couple years, I feel almost separated from myself as I'm experiencing these things; as if my logical mind is sitting beside myself, patting me on the shoulder, chin up buttercup. It can certainly lead to sadness, because I feel apathetic, guilty, stuck, without wanting to be stuck. Imagine having the physical feeling of fear without the actual fear -- it would still effect you, and might actually trick you into thinking you are very, very afraid. It feels a lot like fear, and while most of the time it's not, sometimes I am overtaken by illogical fears -- fear over losing my children, fear of my home being broken into, fear of being outside at night, fear of getting into an accident -- what makes it illogical is that in those moments, it is encompassing and paralyzing. But mostly, at this stage in my life, it's annoying.

The thing is, I've tried to make myself do things when I'm struggling with anxiety, and it took me probably years to realize it just doesn't work like that. I will overflow. My heart will thump, my chest will hurt, and it's not a race to beat the overflow, it is the overflow. My actions create the result, which is usually in the form of screaming at my children or shutting myself in the bathroom, crying, with the lights off.

Because of this, I avoid a lot of things. I avoid commitments, replying to messages, answering the phone, going to church, taking my kids to the park, making dinner, having people over. It effects me several times a week, and I am really growing tired of it. I don't feel like that is me... that's not who I am! Who I really am is someone who loves being with people, someone who wants to be creative and share my talents, someone who gets up in the morning ready to tackle what needs to be done.

But I am only that person maybe half the time, and the other 50% of the time, I am stuck on my couch, neck-deep in molasses, with sound waves piercing the flesh between the ribs in my chest and squeezing my lungs.

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