On the No-Shower Days

Battle-weary from warring with worry, dazed and confused from the hard fall after the rug got pulled from beneath your planted feet, and insulated in isolation from the human interaction you desperately need, you find yourself staring at that familiar image in the mirror.  If only you could sneak in a 5-minute date with the tub.  A little too familiar?  A few too many no-shower days?

When life is providing challenges, it’s easy to fall into a few of Satan’s well-hidden traps.  If we learn to become vigilant and become skilled at recognizing and disarming them, we stay steady on our journey, and the no-shower days don’t hold as much power as they otherwise would.

Let’s visit a few of the deceiver’s favorite go-to snares otherwise known as lies.

Catastrophizing.

This is where you imagine the worst of outcomes.   Your inner Buzz Lightyear is screaming, “This will last to infinity and beyond!”  This present affliction has to be the absolute biggest and baddest of all big and bad things.   In this place, convincing yourself that this difficult day is destined to be repeated for the next 365 comes easy.  Words like “never” and “forever” and “always” ricochet in your brain space, piercing any positivity you might cling to.  You obsess over the current cause of your hygiene hiatus and believe you will never again shower.  Each of us have our own bait-lines that when swallowed, pull us into the abyss of despondency.  What are yours?

Ruminating. 

In an article titled “Rethinking Rumination” in Perspectives in Social Science, the authors give an excellent definition for rumination…

“rumination is a mode of responding to distress that involves repetitively and passively focusing on symptoms of distress and on the possible causes and consequences
of these symptoms. Rumination does not lead to active problem solving to change circumstances surrounding these symptoms.  Instead, people who are ruminating remain fixated on the problems and on their feelings about them without
taking action.” 1

If your thoughts have become the equivalent of a bad vine on YouTube, identify them now.

Enumerating.

Keeping track of your woes?  Adding up insults?  Tabulating troubles?  Multiplying misery?  How often do we count our burdens when we should be counting our blessings?  Becoming an accountant for the adversary is nothing but nonproductive.   It’s easy on the sans-bath days to start a lengthy list of all you do for the others in your life.  What are you logging into your mind’s ledger?

Generalizing.

Sweeping generalizations, the labeling of all of life.  One terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day does not mean they all will be.  Even if the present circumstance does permeate more time than we would choose, it will get better.  It will get easier.  We become healthy when we accept, adjust, and adapt.  Have you painted over a brilliant fine line of promise with a wide brush stroke of generalization today?

Victimizing.

It is far too easy to adopt a victim mentality on the hard days.  Human nature seeks to place blame on someone or something tangible.  We step right into the snares called “If only” and “why can’t”.  Here’s the deal;  bad things happen, people fail us, not everything comes with a labeled reason.  No matter what the source of your pain is, you get to choose whether you will live as a victim or victor.  Taking control of your thought life is the first step in becoming the latter.  Who do you tend to “blame” for your no-shower days?

The Solution:  Spirit-filled mindfulness. 

Mindfulness, apart from spirituality, is defined by Psychology Today as:  “a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”

Mindfulness tells Buzz Lightyear that he’s overly dramatic.  When truly mindful, we can be aware that this no-shower day is actually a no-shower hour because we are simply in the moment, hour, day.   It grounds us in this truth:

Therefore, don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself.  Matthew 6:34

See, even the Father instructs us to stay in the present!

With spiritual mindfulness, we can purposely list our blessings,  identify joy in mundane moments, cultivate a garden of gratitude as children of a loving God who holds the future we fear.

Rejoice always!  Pray constantly.  Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1Thessalonians 5:16-18 (HCSB)

Here’s the best part!  As Christ-followers, we have an abundance of help.  We are empowered by the Holy Spirit to be discerning of our thoughts and motives.  He is waiting to gently and graciously expose those destructive thought patterns which make us so vulnerable to Satan’s lies.

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit – the Father will send Him in My name – will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.  Peace I leave with you.  My peace I give to you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.    John 14:26 (HCSB)

When we allow The Spirit to control our thought live vs. dialing him up for damage control, our no-shower days aren’t so distressing and the image we see as we pass the mirror is not that of a worried and worn-out woman, but that of a gentle and quiet spirit who just happens to be tired.  Big difference, my friends.

In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings.  And He who searches the hearts knows the Spirit’s mind-set, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  Romans 8:26-27 (HCSB)

So, you there with the greasy hair and the baggy sweats, know first that you are loved fiercely by your Father God.  Become obsessed with that.  Ruminate on that.  Count the ways He loves you.

BE MINDFUL OF HIM WHO LONGS TO FILL YOUR MIND!

For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, height or depth , or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:38-39 (HCSB)

Make a plan for your next no-shower day.  Right now!!!  Here’s your have-ready list:

  • Scripture verses that hold great meaning to you personally.
  • A positive statement in BIG letters for a prominent place.  i.e. “This too shall pass” or “I am loved by the King” or “He knows”.
  • A dry erase marker for your bathroom mirror.  Draw a happy face every time you visit that room.  Don’t forget to smile back at it.
  • Start a blessings list now and add to it ON your rough days.
  • A play-list of your favorite inspirational music.

Blessings my friends!

 

(1) (http://drsonja.net/wp-content/themes/drsonja/papers/NWL2008.pdf)

 

 

 

 

 

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When Guilt Becomes Your Primary Diagnosis

Chronic illness of any kind deals painful blows to our self-worth, none of which are deserving.  The longer I live, the more I realize how I have stacked pallets of guilt on pallets of shame and allowed them to sit heavy on the decaying foundation of my self-worth.  How many times have I let an employer, friend or loved one down?  How many times have I been a burden?  How many times have I let my health overshadow the joys in life?

How many times have I allowed the cancer of guilt to invade my healthy mind?

Regrets are real and have a healthy place when they are used to mend relationships fractured by the weight of our illness and the selfishness that sometimes occurs with such.  Let’s admit it,  we get selfish when we are sick.  It is necessary to seek forgiveness from both others and ourselves in order to move forward.  Chronic illness often prevents us from performing as we would like.  Our minds desire to do what our bodies refuse.  Now that my children are grown and I’m more reflectfull, (not a typo….I’m full of reflection at my age), it is so easy to become regretful over the amount of activities my illness and anxiety prevented me from.  I’m acutely aware my struggles overshadowed family times that should have been great fun, and for that, I am regretful;  however, I can not invite Regret to make a home in my heart.  Obsessing over Regret will open the door to Shame, and Shame ushers Guilt right on in.

Without realizing what has happened, Guilt, unchecked, can become our primary diagnosis.  Guilt has the ability to incapacitate us in emotional, relational and physical ways, and she is a sneaky, silent killer.

I felt the sting of Guilt’s nasty right hook just this morning when the side effects from a seizure medication change meant I was unable to get out of bed to make sure my special needs daughter did her therapeutic exercises.  Hubby had to be both Mom and Dad, again.  Score one for Guilt.

An unexpected jab hit when my husband wanted to pop into a restaurant for a quick bite to eat.   Key words here are “pop into” because you know how we anxious CIBS  (chronic illness buddies) hate to not have had the time to plan for every possible disastrous, yet highly unlikely scenario.  Really? C’mon, we need the time to worry, or it just can’t happen.  Can I get an Amen?!  So,  I stated in my irritated, flat voice that there was no way I could handle the sensory overload that was in that place.  Guilt sat in my lap as we ate our drive-through meal.

A couple of days later, Guilt left me bruised and in tears as I had to leave a reception after my sweet grand babies’ dance recital.  The lighting and sounds were firing up my brain waves resulting in a nice healthy aura, the kind that sends you fleeing in some kind of hyper state of flight or fight.

You know what I’m saying.  You hear the edge in your own voice.  You hear the cutting irritation directed at loved ones.  You make the same excuse for the millionth time, and you  feel the sting of shame.  Score another for Guilt.

If you have a story like mine,  many of you do, you went years with no answers but plenty of symptoms.  Like me, you may have been misdiagnosed…a few times.   That in and of itself leads to great anxiety, depression and dysfunction.  Perhaps, even NO function, as in bed, covers over head for days at a time. As if those aren’t enough,  we start to heap on shame as we weasel out of social events, responsibilities and commitments.  We are masters at disguising the fact we really are in no physical and/or mental shape to show up anyway.  This all too familiar scenario sets us up perfectly for Guilt to wage war on that eroding foundation of self-worth.  Hence, Guilt slides into number one spot as she eats away at us like acid on flesh.  She really is that destructive.  Guilt becomes the disease.

I intend to rob Guilt of the power she has stolen from me.

  Let’s break it down and choose to claim forgiveness for what has been, acceptance of what is and hope for what will be.

Guilt robs us of a few things.

  1. The ability to see the positive.  We are oh, so much more than our illnesses.  Let’s count the good moments and take them back from the hard grasp of Guilt.  Is Guilt stealing your joy?
  2. The ability to see our potential.  God created us to do great things! While it may look different from peers, it doesn’t mean our contributions to this world are any less valuable than our healthy counterparts.
  3. The ability to perceive truth.  We can easily transfer our own shameful view of ourselves to others.   We can easily tell ourselves we are failures when others do not see us in that light at all.  We can easily see ourselves as incapable when in fact, we are entirely able.  Are you seeing yourself as incapacitated?
  4. The ability to live in the present.  Guilt is the rock WE shackle to our ankles.  It drags us under the surface of this moment into the abyss of the past.  WE hold the key, Truth, to unlock the chains.  WE choose whether or not to swim to the surface of the here and now.

Let’s choose to kick the curable disease of Guilt.  Let’s choose to burn those pallets of regret and shame.  Let’s choose to use the key of Truth to unlock these chains.   I leave you with this:

…I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to live in FREEDOM!  Leviticus 26:13b (HCSB)

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Venues of Vulnerability.

A little backstory.

I like to write from the promise in my life, from those jagged, rocky places where you come across reminders of God’s goodness, His grace.  Places in the journey where He brings you comfort and peace in His everlasting word.  I write in the hope of encouraging, maybe challenging my reader.  I write to keep myself accountable and tuned in to that which I know is true.

Today, I write from a dark place.  I open a door that common sense says is better left shut.  I let words drip off my fingertips onto the keyboard that are oh, so hard.  It’s time, though.  When the Holy Spirit keeps you up long into the night, and He stirs such a fiery restlessness in your bones, it’s time.  I have chosen to write from an intellectual and experiential place.  Leaving my desire to insert God’s word in all my posts is difficult; however, not all readers will be able to get past their resistance to “religion” to join me in thinking….good old thinking, contemplating, considering.  So, let’s hash out reason.

I am a fully-healed, yet ever-changed victim of childhood sexual abuse.  Not once.  Not twice.  Repeated over the course of my 5th year of life.  I’ve never written or spoken publicly of this because I want to honor my parents who did not know of it at the time.  I waited years to tell them.  So, please allow me to make this very clear, I was blessed with healthy men in my family who loved and nurtured me as God intended .  I was the victim of an UNRELATED male offender.  I’ve even worried about unintentionally implicating all the healthy men I grew up in close contact with.    That’s a victim mentality, I challenge you to look for that in your own life or in the lives of ones you love.  I challenge you because given the statistics,

1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old (NSVRC),

many of you reading this have also been victimized.   Here’s the deal though.  You simply can not debate the gender-neutral bathroom push on only an intellectual level.  There is an experiential component to this that, in the world of an abuse victim, supersedes legal arguments.  That, my friends, is why I bare my soul.

Moving on to the issue at hand…

Venues of Vulnerability is a term I’ve given to a place or places where a predator can hang out to gain easy access to his or her prey.  These avenues of assault are everywhere thanks in big part to social media.  A venue of vulnerability can be a sleepover, a bar, a frat party, a bonfire, a car, a taxi, Facebook, Snap Chat, Twitter, Instagram…..etc.  Now, it seems we want to add public restrooms and locker rooms to the predator’s playgrounds.  Who gets to join me in the bathroom?  Who gets to sit on the toilet next to me with large cracks in stall walls and doors while I am exposed and vulnerable?  Worse yet, who gets to be there with my young ones?

Can we just lay down angry agendas and this crazy need to categorize ourselves so we can blow the stall door off the bathroom bills and expose the danger lurking under the guise of “freedoms”, “rights”, “sexual identity”?  We can’t “vet” every man that walks in a woman’s bathroom.  We can’t “vet” every woman who walks into a men’s room.  No one is  going to hire security guards for bathroom patrol.  More and more innocent victims of sex trafficking are being enticed by other victims in venues of vulnerability.  We have to close this loophole!

  I am not scared of a transgender in my bathroom, but I’m terrified of the pretender! 

All of us should be, no matter what our sexual identity is.

One of the sadly ironic things that we see often in our society is media-fueled, attention-seeking activist’s agendas to “further the cause” of a group who has decided their desires trump other’s rights which in the end, actually bring chaos and destruction to the very groups screaming for equality.  I do not believe the greater LGTBQ community believes these are healthy legislations.  How can they?  Let’s look at how many of them have experiential knowledge of victimization:

46.4% lesbians, 74.9% bisexual women and 43.3%
heterosexual women reported sexual violence other
than rape during their lifetimes, while 40.2% gay
men, 47.4% bisexual men and 20.8% heterosexual
men reported sexual violence other than rape during
their lifetimes. (NSVRC)

Please, LGTBQ citizens, SPEAK against the machine driven to destroy you in the name of advancing you.  Are you all okay with earning the right to use whatever gender-labeled bathroom you feel most comfortable with if that very privilege costs just one precious child their innocence? Many of you are parents.  Are you comfortable with making your daughter available for the sexual predator to gaze upon in a restroom or locker room, perhaps see him performing a sex act on himself while he does so?  Gross?  You bet!  She won’t unsee that, and she won’t unfeel the disgust that the sight of her incited that.  If you feel squirmy reading it, I feel the same writing it. Folks, it is our reality.  Are you really okay standing on the front line of pushy political preference when your freedom to use a certain restroom trumps  religious freedoms of that of a Muslim woman who can’t even uncover her head, let alone share a bathroom with a man?  How does it sync with the greater belief of the LGTB community that everyone is entitled to their rights, be it sexual, reproductive, or religious when I lose mine for you to gain yours?   Private bathrooms?  I’m all for it.  I would prefer that to sharing any day, but we all know how quickly public facilities will be jumping to construct multiple private restrooms.

I truly hear the cry of the bullied.  I just don’t know how a male child dressed in female clothes who insists on using the girl’s restroom or locker room will be any less exposed to suicide-inducing bullying.  Can anyone answer that?  Talk about a Venue of Vulnerability!  Then, to add to the far over-reach of government; here in Michigan, we have a bill that would allow our children to use any name they choose, pick their sexual identity, and the parents will not be entitled to that knowledge.  I was under the impression that our sophisticated society was working to create healthy families where children learned and thrived yet, our schools will help them harbor secrets from their parents encouraging the child to live further underground in their fear and shame.  So, are we assured that suicide rates will drop when the district helps the child hide out?   There is no prescription for how a family deals with finding out their child is gay.  How dare a broken educational system dictate what the one-size fits all fix is and when that occurs.  How dare the system want me involved in homework and academic performance yet my momma hands have to be off my child’s sexuality during formative years.  No!  Can anyone explain that?

One of the things that prompted me to write this now was a “lively” debate with a stranger on social media.  She asked that I read an article titled: Who’s Afraid of Gender-Neutral Bathrooms? by Jeannie Suk for The New Yorker, published January 25, 2016.  I read it.  I laughed.  Let me provide you a quote from the article:

“Perhaps the point is precisely that the public restroom is the only everyday social institution remaining in which separation by gender is the norm, and undoing that separation would f eel like the last shot in the “war on gender” itself.”

Seriously?  She tied this to LGTBQ rights why??  I’m not sure gender-neutral bathroom proponents even know what they are fighting for!  I’m positive they don’t want what they are going to get when these bills pass UNLESS they are just in it because they like a fight, a social cause.  You might win the battle but lose the war at the cost of our innocents.   I can’t even address my opinions on this nonsense because women’s rights and equality should include safety.  The author refers to segregated bathrooms as being a “Victorian phenomenon”.  Not in my 2016 world, so let’s get back to the real issue.

Every 107 seconds another American is sexually assaulted.  Every 107 seconds! (RAINN).

In an article written by Emily Thomas by the Huffington Post in November of 2013, she cited a report from the National Research Council.  Within the pages of stats compiled in the book Estimating the Incidence of Rape and Sexual Assault was this statement.

“Rape and sexual assault are among the most injurious crimes a person can inflict on another. The effects are devastating, extending beyond the initial victimization to consequences such as unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, sleep and eating disorders, and other emotional and physical problems. Understanding the frequency and context under which rape and sexual assault are committed is vital in directing resources for law enforcement and support for victims. These data can influence public health and mental health policies and help identify interventions that will reduce the risk of future attacks. Sadly, accurate information about the extent of sexual assault and rape is difficult to obtain because most of these crimes go unreported to police.”

Sadly, we will never know the real statistics on rape and assault because it’s estimated that only 12% of child sexual abuse is reported to the authorities.  Combine that with rape being the most under-reported crime; 63% of sexual assaults are not reported to police  (NSVRC), this is not the time to provide Venues of Vulnerability.

How do I end what is an emotionally-charged piece?  Experientially.   Maybe with a request.  At age 5, I did not know how to keep myself safe, and it would not have mattered if I did.   I get we can’t stop all victimization, but all of childhood and some of my adult life was lived under the shadow of fear, mistrust, vulnerability and shame, acutely aware that this world was so unsafe.   It has been through God’s grace and freedom that I am that “fully-healed, yet ever changed” woman.  While I am thankful that my abuse has been redeemed and has provided me with great understanding and insight, I will lift my voice in  a cry of warning and plead with my fellow citizens to shut down this Venue of Vulnerability.  If my words can save just one child, one adolescent, one adult from living under the shadow, then let it be.

National Sexual Violence Resource Center – Info and Stats for Journalists

Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network

Dance of the Daffodil

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From brown and barren ground, you make your promised presence known.  Enduring icy frosts and winter storms, your growth’s timing is not your own.

And when it seems cruel winter has spoken its last goodbye, stinging snow falls once again through foreboding, greying skies.

Beautiful, brilliant daffodil, you live not your’s, but HIS good will.  So, bend with grace beneath this season’s unfair weight and kinder times anticipate.

Trust in the One with whom you dance.  None of this is happenstance.

Bow your head and take this rest.  Accept the trials, accept you’re blessed.

One day the sun again will shine.  You’ll lift your head and find it’s time, to raise your weathered petals high and sway in praise to Adonai.

Yes, Adonai (our Lord and Master) provides so many lessons in nature.  We can stand in awe of his might and grand design, or like today, we can identify with the tender plant being assaulted by a heavy, late Spring snow.

Is this you?  Are you a tender daffodil emerging from crisis, trying to heal from pain, redefining your life after loss, facing an unknown future?  Please know that with your full cooperation, God will redeem it, meaning he will purchase your pain, disillusionment, fear, whatever you are holding, and he will present you with His peace in its place.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

We get to choose whether or not we accept what he gives when he purchases our pain.  We can stand there at the cash register of life with our arms folded, shaking our heads no and demanding what we think we should receive; or, we can hold out trembling, empty hands extending from battle-weary bodies that house trusting hearts.  We get to choose to  believe what he places in those hungry hands is what we need to grasp for His glory to be displayed in our weakness!

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

daffodil in snow

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:16-18

So today, see your storm as His power being made perfect in your weakness, and see this weight of your circumstances as a spiritual workout preparing you for an eternal weight of glory!!  Doesn’t that twist the tears of sorrow to Yes, Jesus! tears of joy?!

 

 

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The Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy of Chronic Illness

If you don’t ask, I won’t tell. That sometimes becomes the easiest way to dance around being in relationship with the healthy while managing chronic illness.  

Please keep in mind that this article is written with the very broad spectrum of chronic illnesses in mind, from mental health issues to debilitating and degenerative diseases.  I’ve written this to both the one who struggles with illness and the one in relationship with him or her.

I had some surgery recently which was the result of one of those perfectly constructed domino displays where treating one problem lead to another to another. Now, I’m smack dab in the middle of missing my “this is working” treatment protocol thanks to one more falling domino. I didn’t tell people other than my family, a sweet lady from church who prayed me through it, and a close friend who happened to be on the receiving end of my “help” text, scooping up my child from school on one of the days where a quick recheck turned into a three hour doctor visit. I privately asked my pastor for prayer and gave him the date of the procedure, explaining I don’t share things on the prayer chain anymore because, honestly, it could be something every week.  

We must decide when and what is “big enough” to call in reinforcements. Doing that too often can cause our dignity to take a hit because no one wants to be the needy one, the reason for a sigh or roll of the eyes amongst friends, the “again?” burden.  

Most likely, the dear one reading this knows this scenario all too well; however, if you are outside of the chronic illness circle, you do not, will not, and should not (because we don’t wish this on anyone) truly understand the persistence of our illnesses or the ways it dictates our days.

This does present some challenges as we seek deep and intimate relationships with others. What do we share? When do we share? With whom do we share? How much detail do we share? How often do we share?

For those of us who are sidelined, social media can be this sweet connection with others in the outside world yet at the same time, awakens a longing for the normalcy our friends enjoy. Jealousy can easily creep in like the sneaky sin it is, as we read of shopping, travels, and schedules brimming with activities. She whispers, “Don’t you wish you could do that”? Judgement can raise her ugly fist when we read “woe is me” posts about passing and temporary illnesses. She shouts, “Are you kidding me, you don’t know how much you should be thankful that all you have is a sore throat, wake up”! Next, comes Resentment or Resignation, whichever you allow to take hold.  

For my fellow Cibs (chronic illness buddies) and those of you who rub shoulders with us, I want to propose that Resentment shows up loud, proud, and aggressive. She is in-your-face opinionated and speaks unapologetically in negative tones. She is angry at living a life she didn’t chose and has not yet embraced any beauty from her ashes. Her unresolved anger at God for allowing her suffering spills into her everyday relationships with fellow humans. She fights a losing battle, exhausting all of her limited emotional and physical resources, against a life lived with limitations she doesn’t want. Resentment is just plain stuck in the mud of self pity.
Resignation, on the other hand, is more composed…..quiet, actually. She has come to a place of acceptance. She may even be able to look for the hidden blessings in her situation and relish the relationship she is developing with the Lord that springs from trials. Healthy Resignation has to be true. It isn’t resignation if it pseudo acceptance.  That, my friends, is the sin of manipulation.

Pseudo acceptance is an act in Satan’s grand theatrical production. God sees through it, and you will never have peace just playing the role of a martyr to your illness.

Healthy Resignation speaks softly from a place of embracing the path God has allowed and trusting in His sweet promises every stony step of the way. Resignation is not superhuman, but she rests in the One who is.

So, back to the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy…..yes, we are aware of the drain that sharing our daily battles would place on our relationship with healthy friends and family. When you ask how we are doing, we must immediately weigh out 1) Do you really want to know or are you being polite? 2) Would you understand the medical jargon I would need to explain it in? 3) Have I recently burdened you? 4) Is this the time or place for this conversation? 5) If I tell you the truth, will you pull away from me?  

Know that watching a friend or loved one with chronic illness withdraw may be their well-intentioned attempt to protect the relationship with you they find so precious. It may well speak to how highly they value your place in their life. 

 A tentative friend may be one who is longing to pour out her angst and discouragement to someone he or she loves (you) but when is enough, enough? Better to keep quiet than risk loss?

Breaking the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy takes bravery. It takes a brave friend to take the time to authentically ask, and on the flip side, it takes a brave friend to truthfully tell. No matter which side of the fence you are on, it is a lot to take on in this hurried, surface-skimming world.

 Time and vulnerability…..neither are as highly valued as they should be. Food for thought.

Becoming Nothing for Everything: An open letter to mothers of special needs kids.

Dear Tired Momma,

As I sink into the hot water, exhausted, and all is silent except for the ticking of the wall clock,  I also feel myself sinking into the nothingness that comes in battle.  It’s a familiar place yet one I hate to revisit. ” Again, Lord?”  “But Lord, I thought we were good!”

You know it well.  Life was operating at the status quo, your norm, and then……

So, as I soak in this tub, I start strapping on psychological armor, turning off emotions, allowing nothingness to envelope me, I’m struck by the contrast of emptying myself to the soothing warmth of the water covering my weary body.

Nothingness asks for you to be clinical, concise, goal directed, and it often turns you icy.  Nothingness is when your own fear means nothing.  Your own desires mean nothing.  Your own future plans mean nothing.

Your own desires are nothing….because Everything is on the line…again.

Everything is what you do.  Everything has come to define you even when you fight for your freedom.  Everything needs the systematic, robotic approach.  Everything requires all of you.  Everything results in you turning into a cold and calculated assassin, taking out what ever threatens your EverythingEverything can turn you into the crazy mother, fist pounding the table, steely-eyed, and demanding words spoken in a voice that doesn’t sound like our own while glassy-eyed professionals watch you, but you know that Everything needs you to fight with every ounce of strength she doesn’t have.   Everything survives when you are willing to become Nothing.  THAT, sister, is sacrificial love.

I’d say that’s pretty Christ-like parenting, right there.

Momma of a special one, your shoulders drop and you sigh as you read this because you know, don’t you?

I’m not writing to be psychologically correct, I’m leaving that to the professionals.  I’m writing because it’s when we are raw and honest and transparent that our struggles can be used for good.  It’s when we get brave and share what we hold in secret that we can give another momma some hope, something to cling to!

Yes, I know you don’t feel anything but a bone-deep fatigue.  I know you don’t feel that sweet momma love that comes with our tiny innocents.  I know you can’t find joy in your Everything right now.

Yes, I know you feel enormous guilt because you can’t find that all-consuming love and that palpable joy that is instinctive to mothers.

Yes, I know the tears flow in spite of a disconnect to any true and identifiable emotion.

Yes, I know that in spite of covering those previous battle wounds with the band-aids of experience, the scabs are getting scraped off and the oozing is just a slow trickle of sadness from somewhere deep within.

I want to suggest you don’t feel tender love at this present time because God is holding your heart out of your chest.  Its weight is simply too much for you.  Its wild beating must be calmed by the very One who created it, by the One who created your Everything.  Its screaming, raw emotions are too much for you to comprehend, to contain. You can’t be directed by it!  So, He holds it while you and your nothingness go to work…to battle.

When you are ready, He stands with his open hands, holding your beautiful, intact heart, and releasing it back to you. He has infused it with all His love, and it is overflowing, ready to abundantly pour over your Everything.  That’s the beauty of it!  We never have to remain in that empty place!  God has all you need, oh he is champion of HIS beloved Everything.  Remember, it is His Spirit within you who has given you the strength to wage war on His child’s behalf.

  Your Everything was His Everything before the start of time.

For now, allow yourself to crawl up onto Abba’s lap.  Allow Him to wrap you in his arms.  When a quiet moment comes, and it will come, go there.  Sit with Him while he holds your heart.  Cry with Him.  Rest in Him.  Accept His peace.  Give him Everything, for he loves her more than you do.  Give him your nothingness, and he will give you your full and rested heart.

Sister, this is a way of life we moms of special ones need to embrace.  Our Everythings require much, but our Abba is bigger than all the heartaches, disappointments, failures, and flat out scary unknowns special needs can throw at us.

Know, this day, that what you are doing will always make a difference, even if you don’t see it on this side of heaven.

Know, this day, that all the days you become nothing to benefit your Everything are pleasing to your Lord.

 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’  Matthew 25.40  NLT

Know, this day, that you are not alone.

With love,

Everything’s momma