No one can understand the truth until he drinks of coffee’s frothy goodness.
No one can understand the truth until he drinks of coffee’s frothy goodness.
We can plan all we want for how we want our lives to go. But then life happens and our plans fly out the window. We are left to improvise. Sometimes improvising hurts. Figuring out which way to go when a sudden change of plans strikes can be hard. But when we learn to lean on God no matter what, those sudden changes soften a little bit even if they seem harsh at first.
This morning I woke to the news of my Great Aunt’s passing. No one plans for phone calls like this.
My phone and I went into the front yard. I sat down, in between two humongous pine trees, sun shining down on my back, and cried. I sat there for nearly two hours. Wailing at first, then every so often my tears would just well up with tears until they couldn’t hold them back and tears would slowly slide down my face as I sat there, listening to the birds, watching the squirrels scamper, avoiding falling caterpillars, and chasing away tiny spiders from my feet. The wind softly played with my hair as well as with the trees. I sat there…. breathing. Taking in the sharp green of the surrounding trees, the echoes of life, breathing. For two hours, I got to just be.
My husband brought me a blanket and a cup of coffee. Apparently I sat in the sunshine for almost an hour despite the 50 degree weather.
Grief makes you do strange things.
In those moments outside, as I sat there, a warm blanket wrapped around my shoulders, I felt so alone and abandoned.
Thing is, I was not alone.
God sat there with me.
He held me, comforted me, and provided a warm, safe place in which I could mourn.
Friends offered condolences.
My children offered hugs and giggles when I got inside.
I’m still struggling to accept that she is gone.
I know right now we are working on the Shelter of God’s Promises but instead of writing from the book today, I needed to share this.
Today, I tried to live in the Shelter of God’s Promise. It was not perfect. But it worked. Not all day, but it worked.
And that, my dear readers, is progress toward learning to live in the Shelter of God’s Promises.
Let your smile change the world, but don’t let the world change your smile.
Earlier this week, @MammyWoo messaged me to let me know she submitted a blog post for consideration this week. I could not wait to read it! Then life happened and I did not read her post until this morning but my sense of anticipation was dead on because the post is amazing.
In it, Lexy is amazingly honest about her experience with Postnatal Depression. She describes waking up to discover that indeed, morning has arrived and is not two weeks away as she wishes. Her 1 year old pokes and prods her to play, but she is unable to respond.
Once again, she’s stuck in Radio Silence, unable to talk, communicate, play, reach out. She’s trapped. “All the little men that live inside my body making things work (I was never very good at biology) have gone on strike and normal service delivery is brought to a complete halt.”
I especially love her reference to being a Postnatal Zombie. It’s so true that when you are in the depths of a Postpartum Mood Disorder one feels like a Zombie. Mindless, numb, drifting dangerously toward nothingness. For some, that numbness is solace. For others, it is a tailspin toward panic. If you feel you are trapped in Postpartum Zombieville, there are some tips for you here.
I remember that numbness. It did not hit me after the birth of our first daughter but it slammed into me during my second pregnancy. There were so many days when I would lock my daughter and I into her room, get her toys out, and then lay on the couch against the wall, staring up at the ceiling. Our 18 month old daughter excelled at independent play not because she was independent but because I was incapable of playing with her. I lacked the motivation to drag myself out of bed and certainly lacked the capacity to be imaginative enough to get down in the floor and pretend a bunch of blocks were involved in a tea party with Princesses. So many days spent on that couch without energy to do anything. Scared that if I did get up and do something it would end tragically. So I stayed. On the damned couch.
All I wanted to do, all I could do, was lay there. Listlessly. Mindlessly. Hopelessly. I did just enough to get by but not enough to thrive. She seemed happy enough. I justified my actions with her increased independence. It’s good for a kid to learn independence at such a young age, right?
Once I had our son though, and managed to have a pregnancy and postpartum without mental health issues, I became angry. I realized that all my “Radio Silence” had done was distance me from my daughters. To this day, I have a closer bond with my son than with his sisters. It is certainly not because I love them any less. It has nothing to do with their abilities as daughters but rather, everything to do with my illness after giving birth and during my pregnancy with our second daughter. I failed them. I failed myself. I failed my husband. I failed. (Hello, Postpartum Guilt. How you doin?)
Turns out these days that I did not really fail them. Both our daughters are brilliantly independent, wickedly smart, and hilarious little girls. They are full of sass, spunk, and determination. I don’t know that my issues with mental health affected the development of those skills or not. I like to think they would be the same way even if I had been a happy healthy mom when they were brand new to the world. Bottom line though, eventually I got help and got well. I may not have bonded with them when I should have but we are bonded now. I cannot change the past but with every new moment and opportunity I can change my future. I can change their future. It is a fine line to walk though because it is very easy to want to over-do it and make up for my past failures which is a dangerous slope down which to slide.
Enough about me though.
Lexy, oh sweet Lexy. I know you feel alone there in your Radio Silence. So many of us have been where you are now. We know how unquietly quiet it is there. We’re there with you, ready to listen. You’re not worthless. All you have to do is let us know you need us and we’ll be right there. Ready to listen, encourage, support, whatever you need from us, we’ll be there. You are not alone.
As children, we experience love in it’s purest form. There are no expectations, no complicated over-thinking, no what if this or what if that, no he said, no she said. No scars or hurt to mar the existence of this love. Love just is. It’s light, airy, free, full of joy and happiness.
Then we become teenagers. At first, love is still like it was when we were children. And then.
Oh and then.
Then someone we love, for the first time, does not love us back. Or does something to hurt us. Or pushes us far away after saying they loved us. Or uses love to get us to do something they want. Suddenly, love finds itself with a weight attached to it. It may still float but instead of a cloud high in the sky, it’s a helium balloon with a weight tied to the string. The balloon wants to fly away but can’t escape the weight holding to down.
The weight holding you down can crush your chest, your soul, your mind. But recovery is possible. The hurt fades with time and the heart heals.
Then we fall in love time and again. Eventually the balloon you’re holding ends up with tangles, a ton of weights, and is an impossible conundrum. Try as you might, you just can’t untangle the string or break the weights free from the string.
The weight of love continues to increase and can drag us down with it if we are not careful.
But then, some of us are fortunate to meet someone amazing. Someone who helps us untangle the string. Who helps us remove the weights from the string.
So once again, our balloon flies high. Maybe even higher than it ever has in the past.
If we are really lucky, we find someone who allows our love to return to the love we knew as a child, someone who sets us free and allows us to float up into the sky like a white and fluffy cloud, happy and free to be ourselves. Someone who lets us just be and loves us for us despite all our inherent flaws and imperfections. A love which takes your breath away, fills you with anticipation, joy, freedom and is ultimately beyond description. It just is. It’s deep, breathtaking, enviable, and beyond containment.
This is the love we spend our lives chasing but only a few of us are fortunate to capture.
If you’ve found love like that, don’t let it go. No matter what.
A song of ascents.
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
Over the past few years I have lifted my eyes toward the heaven to plead for help. He has thrown a lot at us in a short seven years. Two episodes of Postpartum Mood Disorder, depression during pregnancy, relocating, a daughter with a cleft palate, an unexpected pregnancy, a totaled vehicle, jail, addiction recovery, and then there’s regular life on top of all of those extreme issues.
We have managed to come through all of it. Not unscathed, but still together. As a family. It is because He has carried us. Through all of this, He has been teaching us. Perhaps we are a bit slow to catch on but with each new challenge a wisdom from our previous situation has been applicable. Through Him, we have learned that God is truly our “shade at your right hand.” He is the reason we have been kept from true harm, the reason we have been safe even in the midst of what has seemed like hell.
Along the way, He has allowed us to witness the beauty of our daughter’s growth as she overcomes the challenges faced because of her cleft palate. The strength our five year old holds within her is more beautiful than anything I have ever or ever will witness. The determination she shows as she speaks each word with deliberate precision is more determination than most people ever hold within them in their entire lives.
Within the past few weeks, Sheila Walsh has been promoting her new book, The Shelter of God’s Promises, on Twitter.
I realized that the past few years have literally been lived within that shelter provided so unfailingly by God. Yes, it’s been hard. Yes, there have been times when the wind has whipped at us, when the rain has driven through us and chilled us to the bone, but we have had shelter. We have been safe. Fed, comforted, loved, carried, and protected even when we have not been able to feel His presence. We have not been alone. God has been there, always. He always will be there. He will never forsake you, even if you forsake Him. And that? Is a very powerful realization.
I have only read the introduction of The Shelter of God’s Promises but it struck home. Sheila talks about a trip she and two friends took into a mountain. In the middle of the night, a mountain sheep decided to sleep on top of her tent, causing her to seek shelter elsewhere in the middle of storm. But in the morning when she awoke, she was greeted by a gorgeous sunrise and day. God put her there to see the beauty he created, to show her that no matter what, He was her shelter. I am blessed to have the same shelter in Him. Grateful, beyond belief.
Where is your shelter? Do you feel comforted by His presence even in the face of all that swirls around you? Is there something you could do to move closer to living in the Shelter of God’s Promises? What one thing will you do this week to move closer to the shelter He offers you?
I may not be there yet, but I’m closer than I was yesterday.
I know you hurt.
Physically and mentally.
I know you are tired.
Physically and mentally.
Know what else I know about you?
I know that you’re full of spunk. Full of fire.
I know that you have an amazing spirit.
You are tenacious.
YOU, my dear, are a fighter.
You don’t give up.
You don’t give in. You keep going.
I know your bat is huge. I know you know how to use it.
And I KNOW that your troubles will have some real big trouble
I love you.
I am here for you.
You, my dear, are not alone.
In fact, you are far from alone.
And there are mamas across the blogosphere sending you lots and lots of love today.
Here are just a few of the posts ALL For you: