Friday, June 23, 2017

Upcoming Blog Series: Five Fun Fridays


Lest you all think that I am always serious or never have any fun, allow me to introduce a new blog series: Five Fun Fridays. It will begin one week from today, on Friday, June 30, and it will end on Friday, July 28. On each of those Fridays, I will blog about something fun in my life. The categories are as follows:

  1. Week One - My makeup: what I use, tips for redheads with pale skin, etc.
  2. Week Two - My hair: how I keep my red hair vibrant, how I style my pixie, my hair inspirations, and more.
  3. Week Three - My fashion style: brands and stores that I like, colors that pair well with red hair, and how I dress to fit my body type.
  4. Week Four - My hobbies: What I like to do in my free time, which, yes, I actually do have on occasion.
  5. Week Five - Little known secret facts about me: This is where I'll dish all (well, maybe NOT all) of the dirt on myself. 
Now, that's not all that's in store. There's something fun for all of you, too! At the end of the series, I'll be giving away some of my favorite things that you'll be reading about each week. Look for details each Friday to see how you can increase your chances of winning. I look forward to the fun! 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Snapshot


A snapshot. A brief moment. Captured and held forever in print or in digital form. Etched into our memories, where we can remain young, happy, innocent, naive - the way we were before...
Before the diagnosis came.
Before the death of our closest loved one tore our world apart.
Before the loss of the job.
Before we heard the words, "I don't love you anymore."
Before the night we repeatedly said no, but he didn't listen and did it anyway.
Before the darkness came and tried to rip the very life right out of us.

We are told that youth is fleeting, and while that is certainly true, innocence is even more so. I look back at my life and my heart breaks for the innocence that was taken from me, piece by piece, time and time again. As I watch people I love face tragedies, as well as strangers I see on the news, I am overwhelmed by their stories and grieve for the innocence that is lost every day. When I see pictures of them prior to the horrific events, their unknowing, smiling faces, oblivious to what's coming, I feel contrasting emotions. I feel even more saddened in some ways because they have no idea what is ahead, but on the other hand, I am glad that they are, at least for that moment, holding on to that one last piece of innocence.

I look at this picture of me and my youngest child. It was taken in December 2011. Yes, we're both smiling, but this picture makes me sad. It reminds me of what I've lost. This is my tangible, slap-in-the-face from reality; it's a reminder that I can never go back to the way it was. This picture was taken during my "ignorance is bliss" season. My daughter was happy. She was making progress and meeting milestones, a bit slower than normal, but she was meeting them. Two months later, things would change drastically. She would begin self-harming, regressing, and crying almost non-stop. We, of course, took her to several doctors; we finally ended up at the neurologist's office, where we received the diagnosis. And, just like that, our world changed.

Looking back, a part of me is glad that I didn't know what was to come; yet, there is another part that wishes that I could have known. Maybe I would have been able to appreciate those "snapshot" moments more. Or maybe I would never have been able to enjoy the happy times because I would have dreaded what was to come. That I will never know, of course, because we can never know what lies ahead; we can only learn from yesterday and live in today.

While life is certainly more difficult now, and I struggle each day, I know that our daughter was placed on this earth and in our home for a reason. I still don't know what purposes may come to be for her eventually, as she is only nine years old and still has so much potential, but as for now, she is already teaching me about compassion, unconditional love, and...innocence. Yes, this precious little one will live in a state of perpetual innocence. Her significant mental insufficiency makes that so. She will never understand that she is different from her siblings, or that her mom has depression, or that another act of terrorism has been committed. She will never have to worry about paying bills, or meeting deadlines at work, or even driving a car. She is a living "snapshot" of innocence, and I am learning to see each moment through her eyes.

So, slow down. Stop for a minute. Take that moment you're given and allow it to speak to you. Learn something from everything that happens to you. Be grateful for what you have today; you don't know what tomorrow may hold. But, no matter what happens, you must be strong enough to allow the events of your life to shape you into who you were created to be. Hold on to God; don't allow bitterness to take root. Remember, even though we see only the snapshots, God sees the entire album, and He always did.

"For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
    
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be." - Psalm 139: 13-16
   

    
15 


16 
    




Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Dad Bod


So, I don't know if you've heard of this new trend or not, but it's called the "dad bod." Don't know what it is? Allow me to enlighten you, with a little help from Google: A dad bod is the physique of a male that is relatively slim but not lean or toned. Need more help in order to understand? Urban Dictionary explains it as this: A male body type that is "softly round." It's based on the idea that once a man has gotten married and had a child, then he really should no longer concern himself with keeping a nice physique. And get this. Women actually find these dad bods attractive -as in, some women would rather date a guy with a dad bod than a guy with a nicely chiseled physique. And don't start typing ALL CAPS to me about how you have to go beneath the surface and look at what's on the inside; I know that, and that's not what this post is about. I'm talking women choosing dad bods for no other reason than the simple fact that they're dad bods. Personalities are not a factor. I just don't get it.

So, a dad no longer has to concern himself with his weight or his physique after his children are born? Am I understanding this correctly? Let's see now, hmmm, exactly HOW many months did HE carry that baby inside his womb? So he has exactly how many reasons to put on baby weight? According to my calculations, it is exactly zero. Yes, that's right. Zero months and zero reasons. And a womb? He doesn't even have one. I don't think dads should have any excuses to just let themselves go once the baby is born.They should still be able to make healthy food choices and find time to exercise. I mean, it's not like they're nursing the baby or anything.

Also, why isn't the "mom bod" trending? Why aren't men claiming to prefer a rounder version of females? For goodness' sakes, women are the ones actually giving birth to the babies! Women are the ones housing an entire other being within their bodies for nine months, so one might expect these women to carry around some extra weight not only during but after pregnancy as well. Why aren't women allowed to be a little - or even more than a little - overweight without someone being critical or even downright hateful? And this goes for all women, those who are currently or have recently been or have NEVER been pregnant. Why, how many times have we heard things like, "She's had over a year to lose that baby weight," or, "Are you sure you're not carrying twins?" Then, of course, there's the classic, "She'd be so pretty if she would just lose some of that weight."

If you think I was harsh on men in the second paragraph, some of it was tongue-in-cheek. Most of it, however, was based on expectations that society places on women. The pressure that we feel to be thinner or more beautiful is crushing to our self-esteem at times. It's enough to bring on eating disorders, depression, and self-harm issues in many females. Even young girls feel that they are worthless if they don't see themselves as beautiful. 

I know that obesity is unhealthy. I eat right and exercise, and I encourage others to do the same. So I also don't need any irate people writing to tell me about that, either. But eating right and exercising should be about HEALTH, and it should be for BOTH men and women. It shouldn't be something that's forced down women's throats so that we feel we have to meet some unattainable standard of beauty, while at the same time men get a pass to eat however they choose and do very little exercise because it's a trend and because no one really puts pressure on men to look a certain way. There's a double standard in our society, and I am sick of it.

Men are allowed to age gracefully. When a man begins to get a little gray hair around his temples or in his beard, people call it sexy or distinguished. A woman's grey hair will get her called old. Confession: I get a few white hairs from time to time, and I immediately rush right in and color over them. I'm not ready to let them show. I don't really mind getting older, but I do mind people thinking that I'm "old." It's just not that cool to be an old woman. I don't care what that song says about older women being beautiful lovers; one look at Ulta or Sephora and you know that women are paying big bucks to look young. Yes, I know that dying your hair grey is a trend. But that's for young people. It's not the same as actually going gray, and everybody knows it.

So, yeah, this whole dad bod trend has ticked me off. At first, I thought it was funny, but then I contemplated it a little longer. That's when I realized how it truly brings to light how unfairly women are treated in regards to beauty standards. Why is it trendy for men to be out of shape? As I thought about it more and more, I got angry. Not taking care of your body should never be a trend, but if it is, then why isn't a trend for both sexes?

Finally, I do not expect my spouse to have washboard abs, nor does he expect me to look like a supermodel. I'm not saying that in this post. I'm also not saying that we should spend excessive amounts of time in the gym, away from our families, in order to attain the perfect body. I'm saying that both dads and moms should take care of their bodies. I'm saying that women should be treated with respect and admired for their beauty regardless of their weight or body type. I'm saying that I want my daughters to grow up in a world where it's okay not to look like Scarlett Johansson, and, also, sweetheart, your husband probably won't look like Jason Momoa, either. And that's okay.






Saturday, June 17, 2017

Mountain


Mountain

Laughing, smiling, starting again
Finding what’s been buried within
Discovering all the secret parts of me
Setting free the person that I’m meant to be

Awakening, breathing, living for the first time
Bravely facing each mountain I must climb
Soaring ever higher, breathing in fresh air
Facing each challenge that meets me there

Stumbling, falling, feeling the pain
Getting back up and starting again
Not allowing failure to define me
Armed with the knowledge that I am free

To marvelous heights I will ascend
Even though the roads may bend
The way will never be completely straight
Because easiness does not pave the way to what is great

Through the toil and through the tears
I will continue to face my fears
I know I will reach the mountain top
Victory belongs to those who refuse to stop

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Unique Grief



There's a unique grief that belongs only to those of us who are parents of children with special needs. It's a grief that can lie dormant and unnoticed for seasons, and then it can come flooding back all at once in fresh rivers of pain and sorrow. Maybe it's a Facebook post with a photograph of happy children around your child's age, celebrating a birthday at a party to which you and your family weren't invited. Perhaps it's a post about how someone's child has reached a milestone or won another trophy in a sport or been elected class president, or maybe someone tells you about how their children are reading or asking for books to be read to them or, hey, even talking at all. I don't know what it may be, but something triggers that overwhelming sense of loss deep within you. And you know people don't mean to hurt you. And you also know that they have every right to share their joy about their children's successes. Then you feel guilty because you think that you must not love your child enough because some part of you longs for them to be like other children. Plus, you also feel guilty because you resent other parents for no reason other than the fact that they simply have neurotypical children. I don't know about other special needs parents, but I can get stuck here for days or perhaps weeks. Honestly, I've been stuck there sometimes for months and even years. I still have to fight to keep a root of bitterness from growing in my heart.

I get so angry sometimes. I look at people who can take family vacations, and I can't even take my daughter to the grocery store without my husband's help. She is in a phase of going into a total meltdown almost every time I speak to her. She spends most of her days in her room; she doesn't come out until my husband gets home from work in the evening. I try to interact with her and get her to come out and spend time with me, but when I do, she will just self-harm. She is non-verbal, so there's not really much chance that I can figure out exactly what it is that I've done wrong and exactly why it is that she suddenly comes running out of her room smiling when she hears my husband's voice in the evening. No, this is not what I envisioned when I thought about parenting my daughter. She is nine years old now, and I had plans of talking about clothes and hair and staying up late at night, just the two of us laughing and talking. I imagined baking and making messes together in the kitchen. I never got the years of tea parties and dress-up or baby dolls and Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables. I will never get the prom or the wedding planning or the excitement of her first baby. So many missed milestones; so many fresh waves of grief.

I have no words of wisdom here. I cannot say that I have found some perfect way of dealing with this. I refuse to throw Scripture around and act like that fixes everything. It doesn't. This hurts, and it will always hurt. The grief over my daughter is what sometimes acts as a catalyst in my worst seasons of depression. What I will say, though, is that I do know that God loves me and my daughter. I do not understand what He is doing in this situation, but I will continue to keep my eyes on Him, even through the tears.

"Here and now
You can be honest
I won't try to promise that someday it all works out
'Cause this is the valley
And even now, He is breathing on your dry bones
And there will be dancing
There will be beauty where beauty was ash and stone
This much I know" - Casting Crowns

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Weak




“Weak”
Am I too much,
Or not quite enough?

I can never decide
Which one it is.

When my thoughts
Escape through my lips

Is that when you decide
To turn and walk away?

Are you too weak
To face what I feel?

Your awkward silence
Your gaze shifts away.

Yet why do you call me
The damaged, weak one

When I’m strong enough
To fight this day after day?

Thursday, June 8, 2017

This Day



"This is the day that the Lord has made;
    let us rejoice and be glad in it."
Psalm 118:24

Every new day is a gift. Each morning that I'm allowed to wake is a blessing from God. I thought about this yesterday while driving, which is often the time during which I can do my deepest thinking. I began to think about how this concept plays out in my life. I thought about the fact that there are two opposing ideas that mingle together in my mind; they fight against one another for victory over my thoughts and actions. And the winner of the battle can change on any given day. 

What I know and what I feel become tangled up in a mass of emotions and pain that can be almost impossible to unravel. Even though I know that each day is a gift, that concept is still a paradox to someone like me who struggles with suicidal ideations. There are days in which I feel that my life is a curse. There are times in which I want to end my life. At these points, I cannot see how my life is a gift at all. My emotions and my logic are fighting a duel to the death. One is the voice of Truth and Life, while the other is the voice of depression and lies; however, even armed with this knowledge, I am not always able to silence the voice of despair and death. Sometimes it wins, and I just want to give in and give it what it wants.

I know there will be times when I am unable to think logically, so in order to equip myself for the battle, I've applied some practical strategies that I've learned over the years. I have notecards with Scripture placed in various places around my home. When the negative thoughts are overriding the positive ones, I can read these Scripture cards aloud and speak truth into my situation. I have a three-ring binder with verses I've copied that specifically pertain to peace. In that binder I also have Bible verses written that encourage those of us who battle depression. That's how I fight. That's how Paul taught us to fight, with the "Sword of the Spirit." (Ephesians 6:17) As a matter of fact, I need a daily reminder to put on the entire armor of God. (Ephesians 6:10-20) Without it, I am left completely open to attacks. I also play praise music and sing along. That is a powerful spirit lifter. I have to be proactive, and I have to be prepared. 

I also have to be practical. I take my anti-depressant medications, and I see my psychiatrist once every two months. I see my therapist once a month, but just going to appointments is not enough. I have to be honest with my medical professionals about my struggles and feelings, and I have to apply the techniques that I'm learning in therapy if I want to see positive changes. In addition to all of this, I must take care of my body. Physical health and mental health are closely related. I eat a healthy diet, and I exercise regularly. I get as much sleep as is possible for any parent of a young child with severe special needs. I take time to do things that I enjoy. I try to appreciate each day that the Lord gives me. 

So, yes, each day is truly a gift, even to someone who struggles with thoughts of suicide. I am thankful for my life, even though there are times in which I want to end it. I truly hope to live my life in such a way that it becomes a gift back to God, as well as a gift to others. And I am determined to stop depression from stealing that from me.



Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Sacrificial Love


"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her..."

Ephesians 5:25

What does this look like? How does it translate into every day life? And how many wives are blessed enough to actually have a husband who loves in this manner? I didn't know that I had that kind of husband until my long battle with depression culminated in a near suicide attempt this past January. That's when I found out exactly what sacrificial love looks like. That's when my eyes were opened to the depth and strength of not only my husband's love for me, but Christ's love for me as well.

When my husband arrived home from work early to find me preparing to swallow a lethal dose of pills, he had to make a hard decision. He had to choose to love me enough to take me to the emergency room and have me committed to the psychiatric section of a local hospital. And that's exactly what he did. He knew that I needed help, and he made sure that I went to a place where I could receive that help. I was there for a week, and each day he came to see me during the one hour in which we were allowed to have visitors. While I was hospitalized, he took care of everything at home. This meant homeschooling duties, cooking, cleaning, laundry, and caring for our children - one of which has special needs. Thankfully, there were friends and family to help him, but the bulk of the responsibility still fell on my husband. This also meant that he had to take time off work, which is quite a sacrifice for him due to his position and vast amount of required work-related duties. Yet, in spite of all this, he loved me enough to put my needs ahead of his own and make the adjustments to his schedule that were necessary to accommodate my hospital stay.

This sacrificial love that he shows me is not just a one-time event, either. Each day I continue to see that love as my depression is an ongoing battle that my mind wages against me; I'm not the only victim, though, because my husband is pulled into this fight, too. As the "two become one flesh," a fiery dart thrown at me is also thrown at him. He knows this, and yet he chooses to stay in the war with me. Often I'm left feeling guilty because my husband has this "broken" wife, but he never says anything like that to me. I thank God that, because of Him, my husband and I are stronger together; I know that we meant what we said when we made the vows "for better or worse...in sickness and in health..."

My husband patiently listens as I try to explain what I'm feeling on particularly hard days. I tell him that I didn't want to get out of bed that day. I tell him that I feel numb or sad or tired for no apparent reason. I describe how difficult it was for me to just make a phone call or go to the grocery store that day. He is understanding when I call him to say that we are just going to have a really simple dinner as opposed to what's posted on our weekly menu because I just can't muster up the energy to cook. Depression has also affected my appearance. I've gained some weight due to the antidepressants I currently take. My husband doesn't even say anything about this, except to reassure me when I mention it that he would rather have me a little heavier and still alive than to be without me. On my worst days, when thoughts of suicide rage within me, of course my husband gets upset. Sometimes we yell at one another. He wants me to call my psychiatrist or my therapist, or he wants me to call my friends. Of course I don't want to do anything when I get like that. I say horrible things. I know what I say hurts my husband deeply. Sometimes I feel like he should just find a "nice, normal" wife. But he loves me and stays with me. He is faithful. 

Through my husband's love, I am beginning to understand Christ's unfailing love for me. My husband loves me unconditionally and sacrificially, and I see it in his actions. I no longer question my husband's love, and I no longer question Jesus's love for me, either. In the midst of the darkness that is depression, I am grateful for this shining example of the light of true love. I'm thankful that God opened my eyes so that I could see it, and I am thankful that my husband is willing to be the vessel through which it flows.

Friday, June 2, 2017

"Conqueror"

Well, this is finally a happy poem! I've been feeling a bit more on the cheerful side today. As is the case with depression, this is subject to change, but I'm enjoying this while it lasts. Here is a poem that captures my thoughts on these feelings I'm experiencing on this dreary Friday.

“Conqueror”
Rays of sunshine
Breaking through
Sparkle like diamonds
On the morning dew

Night has passed
Morning has come again
Darkness is now gone
New life can begin

Open up my eyes
See the light of day
Hope for a bright future
Now lights my way

Healing, cleansing
The process from within
Changing, shaping
Revealing who I’ve been

Who I will be
Is someone clothed in light
Who broke through in victory
And conquered the night



Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Self-Care Giveaway Winner

The winner of the self-care giveaway is Kelli Bryson. Her Twitter entry was randomly selected by Rafflecopter as the winning entry. Thank you to all who participated. Kelli has been notified by e-mail. Watch for other giveaways coming soon. And, remember, keep taking care of yourselves!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Trapped



“Trapped”

Expectations
I can’t fulfill
Destinations
Lie unreached still

Happiness
Within my grasp
Sadness
I’m held within its clasp

Disappointment
That’s what others feel
Rejection
Again my fate is sealed

Pressured
Try to get well
Depression
It’s a living hell

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Thoughts

“Thoughts”

Tired
I just want to sleep
My body feels like a sponge
Absorbing all the weariness around me
It wraps me up like
A suffocating hand squeezing the life out of me
Taking every ounce of who I am

Apathetic
It matters not if I eat or shower or speak
Or think or wake up tomorrow
I don’t care what’s for dinner or what we watch on TV
Or who is President

Guilty
My husband deserves better than this
He should have a normal wife who isn’t depressed or suicidal
And my kids deserve a mom who takes care of them instead of one
They have to take care of all too often
So maybe my family would be better off without me

And I’m so frustrated with myself and I’m just pathetic 
And who really cares and it’s all so exhausting anyway 
And I am just so 

Tired.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Self-Care Giveaway

I've discussed the importance of self-care in previous posts, and for those of us with depression, it can be difficult to find the energy to practice it. Well...I'm here to help you out!!! I've got some fabulous hair and skin care items that I'd like to give you so that you can pamper yourself a little. Featured in this giveaway are:
1. CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser
2. Metta Intensive Replenishing Face Balm
3. Philosophy Miracle Worker Overnight Moisturizer
4. OleHenriksen Invigorating Night Treatment Gel & Sheer Transformation Creme
5. Josie Maran Organic Moisturizing Oil
6. Egyptian Magic All Purpose Skin Cream
7. L'Oreal Total Repair Shampoo & Conditioner
8. Nunzio Saviano Anti-Frizz Sheets

Now, how can you win? Simply follow these instructions:

First, you can leave a comment here telling me how you practice self-care. For other entry options, follow the Rafflecopter instructions. The winner will be notified in seven days. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Invisible

I've been inspired several times this week to write poetry. This is another I've written that describes how I feel as a person with depression.

"Invisible"

You look at me
But you don't really see

I stand right here
But I'm so far away

Your mouth forms words
That make no sense to me

Surrounded by my friends
And I've never felt more alone

An ache, a heavy weight
Pushing down on my chest

I cannot breathe
I gasp for air

I want to scream
Yet have no energy to care

All of this inside of me
But I'm the only one who sees

Friday, May 19, 2017

Nothingness

Sometimes it can be difficult to explain depression to others. At times, I find it easier to write about it. My thoughts are expressed best as poetry on some occasions. Here is one such occasion.

“Nothingness”

All these thoughts
Swirl in a mass of black
Like leaves scattered
I’ll never get them back

Numbness wraps around me
I can no longer feel
The world is void of color
Nothing seems real

A blank stare
An empty page
Just an eternity
Locked within a cage

Is there any hope
What was left has slipped away
I can’t go on like this
I’m just wasting away

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A Servant Who's Not Serving

"Life is so unnerving
For a servant who's not serving
He's not whole without a soul to wait upon..." - from the song "Be Our Guest"

     Last month, I went to the theater to watch the new live-action Beauty and the Beast. (Which, by the way, is an excellent movie.) I expected to be entertained; however, what I did not expect was that the Holy Spirit would use it to communicate an important truth to me. While listening and singing along (yes, I did attend the sing-along version of the film) to one of my favorite songs, "Be Our Guest," I was struck by the lines I quoted above and how they translate to our spiritual life. Remember Jesus's response when he was approached by the mother of two disciples requesting that they be seated on either side of him in his Kingdom? He answered by saying,
 “... Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Hmmm...spoken first by Jesus, and then by Lumiere...you've gotta serve!
     It's funny how just a simple line in a movie made me ponder so many things. Am I serving my husband as I should? And, ladies, don't get all bent out of shape about that! What I mean by serving is loving, being attentive to him, joyfully cooking and cleaning as I am at home while he works at three--sometimes four--jobs, and am I giving him grace when he fails or makes mistakes? Am I serving my children? Am I being patient with them when they struggle with a concept in homeschooling? Am I cheerfully reminding them to pick up their clothes, shoes, etc. when they've left them in the living room for probably the 1000th time? How am I doing in service to my special needs daughter? Am I being gracious to her when she's wet out of her diaper and all over the couch yet again? Am I choosing to see her as a blessing even when she's self-harming over and over again, and I'm super-stressed to the max? Am I serving my friends? Do I check in on them? Do I ask them how they're doing? And then am I prepared to hear and really listen to the truth? Do I help them when I know they're struggling? How am I loving and serving the people closest to me? My prayer is that I'm serving well in these areas.
     I do know that loving service brings true joy, and one way I serve is by leading a special needs group. It's helped to heal me in so many ways. Prior to starting it, I felt alone, angry, and bitter. I kept my focus on myself. As Lumiere said, quite "unnerving" and most definitely not "whole." It wasn't until I allowed God to get into my pain with me and show me how to serve others in my situation that I could see a purpose and a plan for my daughter's struggles and my own. Sharing our hardships and celebrating our triumphs together is a beautiful thing. And, just as the castle is brought back to life so beautifully in the movie, the Lord will richly bestow blessings upon you when you love others as he commands. So let me encourage you with this: Serve. You'll be miserable if you don't and joyful when you do!
   

   

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Throwing off Our Blankets

I got so frustrated with Baby Girl the other day. Why? She was going into meltdown mode because she wanted food. Here's the kicker: the food was right in front of her. She couldn't see it, though, because she refused to get out from under her blanket. This happens often. She'll get upset because she wants a toy. I'll put it right there beside her. I'll tell her it's there. I'll even place it in her hands. She'll just throw it down in frustration because she still cannot SEE that what she really needs is right there. She only has to LET GO of that blanket! I began to realize something in all of this. How many times am I holding onto things that I need to put down in order to pick up what God wants to give me? And I'm not even talking about sin. I'm talking about things I hold on to for my security: perfectionism, my comfort zone, and even my depression. Let me explain, especially what I mean about my depression being something I hold on to for security. But I'll start with perfectionism; I struggled with it up until a couple of months ago. I thought I had to be good enough to be accepted and loved by God and people. I worked so hard at it. I placed my security in making myself, my family, and my house perfect. Then it all fell apart this past January. I wouldn't remove that blanket myself, so life came in and snatched it right out of my hands. This forced me out of my comfort zone. I had to confront my perfectionism head on. That's when I realized that only one perfect person ever walked the face of this earth: Jesus Christ. That's when I truly accepted Him and allowed Him to fully have every part of me. I finally felt free. Now I finally have true peace. I finally have a real relationship with Jesus. If I hadn't gotten rid of that comfortable blanket of perfectionism, I would have missed all of this. I would still be stuck under that weight and suffering under the delusion that what I had was better than what God offered. Being forced out of my comfort zone was the best thing that could have happened to me. This is not to say that I don't have any struggles now. I still battle depression, and I am not saying that it is something I am able to throw off like I was able to throw off perfectionism. It doesn't work that way. (Boy, I wish it did!) What I will say, though, is that I can choose how I react to my depression. I can use it as an excuse to hide or tell God no, or I can continue to live my life to the fullest and say yes to God in spite of my depression. There are days in which all I want to do is to stay under my blanket, but I choose to put it down. God has better things for me. I know. I've seen some of those things. And I don't want to miss anything that He has in store for me in the future.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."  Hebrews 12:1

Upcoming Blog Series: Five Fun Fridays

Lest you all think that I am always serious or never have any fun, allow me to introduce a new blog series: Five Fun Fridays. It will beg...