Sunday, December 15, 2013

Weekend Fun (Elf on the Shelf)

Dear Garren and Evan,

Wow!  What a fun weekend we had!  I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to write to you the last two days.  I was so worn out from all the fun.

You guys really got to experience what it's like when other people show God's love to you.  It was so nice of Aunt Keri's friend to give you free tickets to Disney.  Mommy told me all about all the fun you had at the park.  Thank you for taking me along.  I had a good time with you at the hotel.

I also saw that you guys did LOTS of nice things for your friends today.  Even if they don't see you do it, it's always nice to help other people.  Thank you for showing God's love today.

Evan, I also saw when your friend, Logan helped you tie your shoes today.  That was very nice of him.  I heard that he also has Jesus in his heart.  I also heard that he really likes guinea pigs!

Garren, I saw you help Evan today with the TV and with his math.  That was very nice of you.  I also like how you found that new music station on the TV that has good exercising music on it.  I thought I would try it out while you were sleeping.  I found this barbell and lifted weights so I can get big muscles like you and Evan!

I hope you have a great week at school this week.  Don't forget to show God's love!

Snowball the Elf

Friday, December 13, 2013

Everybody Do Your Share (Elf on the Shelf)

Dear Garren and Evan,

It was a little bit messy when I was walking around last night and I slipped and fell right in this pile of clothes!  I heard that you boys are excellent cleaners.  I saw Evan organize the shoes one time and boy did they look nice and straight.  You did a nice job matching up all the pairs, too!

I also heard that Garren is really good at laundry and making sure all the clothes find their way to the hamper.  Good job, Garren!

Mommy told me that sometimes each of you pick a room to clean and you all pitch in and help.  Teamwork is a great way to show God's love.

I hope you have a great day at school today.  Remember to look for ways to show God's love to your teachers and friends.  Garren, I heard that you helped Charles clean up after math time yesterday.  That was great teamwork, too!  When we all work together, we can get the job done quickly.

Snowball the Elf

The True Meaning of Christmas (Elf on the Shelf)

Dear Garren and Evan,

Only 13 more days until Christmas!  Yippee!  I heard you guys singing Away in a Manger in your bed last night.  I loved it!  I love listening to both of you sing.  That song was about baby Jesus sleeping in the hay.  Did you know that Jesus wasn't born in a hospital like you?  His daddy, Joseph and his mommy, Mary had to ride a long long way on a donkey to the town of Bethlehem when Jesus was born.  They wanted to stay at the hotel but they couldn't.  There was someone in every single room already and there wasn't even an elevator!  So they had to sleep out in the barn with all the animals and that's where Jesus was born.

I'm really excited about Christmas coming and learning even more about when Jesus was born.  I couldn't sleep last night because I was so excited about it so I decided to jump in this big balloon pit instead.  I think maybe I ate one too many candy canes because I sure was hyper!  I'm glad I didn't wake you up though because I know you need a good night's sleep to do your very best in school.  I hope you have a great day today.  When you get home, will you tell me how you showed God's love at school today?

Snowball the Elf

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Singing to Jesus (Elf on the Shelf)

Dear Garren and Evan,

We wish you a merry Christmas
We wish you a merry Christmas
We wish you a merry Christmas
And a happy New Year!

I sure do love to sign Christmas songs.  My favorite ones are the ones that tell about the birth of Jesus, like Silent Night and Joy to the World.  I could just sing all day!

Evan,  I heard you singing some songs last night at your winter concert and you sounded so good!  It looked like you were having fun with your friends, too.  Sometimes at school they forget that Christmas isn't just about Santa Claus and presents but that the real reason we celebrate Christmas is because it's Jesus' birthday.  Always remember that.  Some of my friends and I got together to sing some Christmas songs to Jesus.

Garren, I saw you do something really cool last night after you got home.  You took your shower and then got dried off and ready for bed without even being told!  You really are growing up and learning to be responsible.  Keep up the good work!

Have a great day today and don't forget to show God's love!

Snowball the Elf

An Elf Story (Elf on the Shelf)

Dear Garren and Evan,

I love your new TV!  What a nice present.  I heard that Aunt Keri and Uncle David sent you this new TV for Christmas.  That was so very nice of them.  Don't forget to thank Jesus not just for this nice TV, but also for friends and family who love us so much.

Garren, I heard that you beat Grandma at a game of Sorry yesterday.  You sure do have some good strategies.  When you try your very best and really focus on what you are doing, you really do a good job.

Evan, I saw you practicing your handwriting in your cool sight word workbook.  Your handwriting is starting to look really nice.  I can tell that you really tried hard and didn't give up even on the hard letters like "S."  Did you know my name starts with an S?  I wonder if you could write my name.

I hope you both have a super nice day today.  Evan, I'm looking forward to hearing you sing tonight with your class.

Snowball the Elf

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Christmas Parade (Elf on the Shelf)

 Dear Garren and Evan,

Yesterday was a nice Sunday.  I saw you both get ready for church without even fighting!  Did you make it in time for donuts?  What kind of donuts did you eat?

Mommy told me that you went to the dollar store to get candy for the Christmas parade and you guys picked out even cooler stuff to hand out with it.  I saw kids get really excited to get puzzles, soldiers, play dough, and kids' tissues instead of just regular candy canes.  That was a great way to show God's love.  The parade also looked like a lot of fun.  I decided to make my own parade!  Weeeeee!

I hope you have a great day at school today.

Snowball the Elf

Sparkly Whites (Elf on the Shelf)

Dear Garren and Evan,

You did a great job keeping to your schedule yesterday.  My favorite thing was at 5:00pm when Jacob came over.  He sure is a nice boy.  You all played together so nicely.  It sure is nice to have good friends.  I especially noticed how nicely you all brushed your teeth.  Wow, you got them so sparkly white!  I tried to see if I could get mine that clean but I might have slipped and made a little bit of a mess.  Oops!

I hope you have a nice day today and learn lots about Jesus.  I love you very much and I'm glad I get to be your elf.

Snowball the Elf

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Artist Currently Known as Snowball (Elf on the Shelf)

Dear Garren and Evan,

In my last letter I asked you to show God's love to your friends at school.  I was so excited to hear that you did!  Garren, I heard that you helped pick up all the jump ropes and hula hoops at PE today.  That was very nice of you.  I heard that Evan is getting pretty good at the hula hoop!

And Evan, I heard that you helped put away the math buckets in kindergarten today.  That was very kind and helpful of you.  Did you know that Garren's favorite subject is math?  What is your favorite subject, Evan?

I'm looking forward to spending a fun weekend with you.  I heard that a boy named Jacob is coming over.  Is he a nice boy that knows how to show God's love, too?  I can't wait to meet him.  I hope he likes elves.

I sure hope you have a great day today!  Remember to listen to mommy the first time she tells you something.  I'm looking forward to seeing all the new ways you find to show God's love today!

Snowball the Elf

Thursday, December 5, 2013

I See London, I See France (Elf on the Shelf)

Dear Garren and Evan,

Yesterday started off a little rough.  I heard you guys fighting and yelling at each other.  That hurt my ears and made me feel sad.  Will you both practice being nicer to each other?  I know you can do it because I've seen you do it before.

Later yesterday afternoon I did see Garren do something nice that reminded me of God's love.  Garren, I saw you finish your time on the IPad ten minutes early so that Evan could use it.  That was very kind of you.  Thank you for showing love to your brother.

Evan, I noticed you smelled really clean after your bath last night.  It's important to take good care of our bodies because the Bible says that our bodies are a temple of God because Jesus lives inside our hearts.  It sure sounded like you were having fun in those bubbles!

I hope you both have a really nice day today and learn a lot at school.  Be sure to take your time and try your best on all your work.  Try to think of someone in your class you can show God's love to today.  I would love to hear all about it when you get home.

Snowball the Elf

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Countdown to Christmas (Elf on the Shelf)

Dear Garren and Evan,

What a great day you had yesterday.  My favorite part was at the Awana boat races.  Your boats looked so nice.  Did you put those together and paint them all by yourself or did you have help?

You didn't see me, but I was hiding in the fellowship hall during the races and I got to see the whole thing.  Garren, I loved how you never gave up.  You showed a lot of perseverance just like it talks about in the Bible.  Good work!  I know Jesus must have been proud of you for trying so hard.  I know I was.

Evan... wow, you won two races!  Even after your sail broke, you didn't let that stop you.  You kept right on going and tried your very best.  Sometimes things are hard but if you try hard and don't give up, that's the most important thing.  I'm so proud of you.

I'm glad I got to watch you boys last night.  I can't wait to see what things you get to do today.  Remember to be good listeners and to get along with each other and to always show God's love.

Snowball the Elf

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Information Channel (Elf on the Shelf)

Dear Garren and Evan,

I've been watching you for a whole week now and I've learned a lot about showing God's love.  Evan, I saw you take an extra candy at the chiropractor's office to take home to Garren.  That was really nice of you.

Garren, I saw how you helped Evan get onto the school math website.  That was very kind to help your brother like that.  I'm glad you love each other so much.  You both did really well on all the math problems.  When you have Jesus in your heart, you always try your very best even when no one is looking.  Thank you for showing me how to do that.  I want to try my very best, too.

I learned something while you were sleeping, too.  Did you know that if you push the orange R button on the remote control you can record things on TV?  I asked mommy if it was okay and she said I could record one thing.  Yippee!  Garren, you should push the List button to see what I decided to record!

Snowball the Elf

By the way... Snowball recorded the Direct TV information channel... one of Garren's favorite channels!

Piano Man (Elf on the Shelf)

Dear Garren and Evan,

I hope you had a good first day back at school.   Did you try your very best today?  

Garren, I was really excited to hear your piano lesson with Miss. Tanya.  You are a really talented piano player.  I really liked hearing you play the Minuet in G and also Silent Night.  You even played all the chords.  Wow!

Evan, I had fun watching you read books with mommy.  You were so fast finding the pictures in I Spy!

I hope you guys have a good day tomorrow at school.  Be sure to wear your listening ears to school and keep them on when you get home.  I can only stay at your house if you are good listeners and get along with each other.  I know you can do it.  Just try hard!

Snowball the Elf

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Naughty or Nice? (Elf on the Shelf)

Tomorrow morning the boys are either going to think this is so funny or be completely freaked out.  Which will it be?  That silly elf... 

Dear Garren and Evan,

Thank you so much for taking me to church yesterday.  I got to learn all about the different parts of worship and even got to see Evan make cookie dough!  Yummy!  Garren, I heard that your Bible verse was Deuteronomy 10:12.  Will you read that to me?

I'm very excited that you guys have been getting along so well lately.  I love watching you play games together.  Evan, make sure you follow all the rules.  Garren can help you since he knows how to read and he's very good at games.  Evan, you are very good at puzzles.  I saw you put the Monsters University puzzle together all by yourself two times.  Wow, that was so cool!

I hope you both have a fun day at school today.  Be sure to do your very best at everything you do.  I can't wait to see you when you get home.

Snowball the Elf

The next morning...

Evan LOVED it!  He is still talking about it.  After he crawled through, he went back through to get all of his stuffed animals to come through also.  Garren, on the other hand, refused to come out of his room until the tape was gone.  He couldn't wait for it to be gone.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Snowball's First Sunday (Elf on the Shelf)

Dear Garren and Evan,

I've been watching how nicely you guys play games together so I invited some of my friends over for game night.  We had so much fun!  Thank you for showing me how to get along and play nicely together.

I'm looking forward to my first Sunday with you.  I heard that sometimes you get to go to church early and eat donuts.  I love donuts!  Donuts with sprinkles are my favorite.  I can't wait to hear what kind you have.  Will you tell me when you get home?  I also don't know a lot of Bible stories yet so I would love it if you told me what you learned in church when you get home, too.  Maybe you can even help me learn a Bible verse and I can practice it and write it in your next letter.  That sure would be fun.

I hope you have a great Sunday!

Snowball the Elf

O Christmas Tree (Elf on the Shelf)

Dear Garren and Evan,

What a fun day you had yesterday.  Garren, I heard you playing the piano for the people who live at the VA.  They love to hear you play for them.  Sometimes they don't have many people visit them so they love when you and Evan come to visit them.  That's a really great way to show God's love.  Evan, I saw you do something very kind for your brother.  When there was only one chip left at lunch, you broke it in half and shared it with Garren.  Sharing is another great way to show God's love.  I'm very proud of you both.

When you got home yesterday, I noticed that you played so nicely together.  Evan, you did a wonderful job decorating the Christmas tree with mommy.  It looked so beautiful I wanted to take a closer look and then I fell right in!  Oops!

I see you watched the Elf on the Shelf movie about Chippie last night.  He's a nice elf, too.  I've told him all about you guys.

I can't wait to see all the ways you show God's love today.

Snowball the Elf

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving (Elf on the Shelf)

Today was a very nice Thanksgiving day spent with friends, family, and of course lots of delicious food.  I don't need to eat for a week now.

The boys are spending the night with grandma and grandpa tonight so that mommy can get up early in the morning to do a little Black Friday shopping, which is probably mildly crazy since I'm pretty much done with my Christmas shopping.  But I do enjoy the experience.

So Snowball the Elf is also spending the night with grandma and grandpa as well.  He has already gotten himself into a bit of trouble.  Hopefully the boys will help to straighten him out when they find him in the morning and show him how to be a good listener.

Dear Garren and Evan,

Happy Thanksgiving!  I'm very thankful for two little boys named Garren and Evan.  Evan, I heard you say that you were thankful for your purple ball.  That's a cool ball... so soft and squishy!  Garren, I heard you say that you were thankful for Jesus.  That makes Santa very happy because he loves Jesus, too.  Can you tell me more about Jesus?

I watched you boys all day from the top of the piano and you both got along so nicely.  I really liked that.  Garren, I saw you pick up all the Legos and I saw Evan take out the trash.  I also heard you both say please and thank you when you asked mommy for a snack.  I am really learning a lot about how to show God's love by watching you.  Keep up the good work and be good listeners for grandma and grandpa while you're at their house.  They love you very much.

Snowball the Elf

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving (Elf on the Shelf)

'Twas the night before Thanksgiving
when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring
except Snowball, our Elf!

We were blessed to have our good friend, Janette stay with us for a couple of nights before Thanksgiving this year.  When it was time to leave this morning, she left a little surprise with Snowball to share with the boys in the morning.

Dear Garren and Evan,

I had a fun day with you today.  I saw you guys playing Sorry so nicely together.  I loved watching Mr. Blue and Mr. Red move around the board.  You are very good at that game!  I also noticed that you both brushed your teeth without getting any toothpaste on the counter or the floor or the ceiling. Nice job!

Before Mrs. Janette left, she left me these nice warm blankets because she knew it was going to be a cold Thanksgiving this year.  She said that maybe you guys would want to keep them after I use them. Don't forget to thank Jesus for our nice friends!

Santa also wanted to know what else you were thankful for this Thanksgiving.  He likes to keep a thankful list right next to the naughty and nice list.  What should I tell Santa you are thankful for this year when I go to the North Pole tonight?

Snowball the Elf

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Elf on the Shelf - First Night Introductions

I have never done the Elf on the Shelf with my boys before.  I first heard about him last year as Christmas was almost over so by that time, it was pretty much an after thought.  I haven't even read the full book yet but supposedly the full premise is that Santa sends his elf down every day to watch the children and then each night when the kids go to sleep, he goes back up to the North Pole and tells Santa whether the kids were naughty or nice.

I thought it was a cute concept, but I didn't want to run with the story exactly the way it was written.  Although we do Santa at our house, I try to make sure that the boys know that the reason we celebrate Christmas is because of the birth of Christ.  So I wanted to make sure to incorporate Christ into our new Elf on the Shelf tradition.

Tonight, our elf made his first appearance at our house.  The boys named him "Snowball."

They were very intrigued.  My little one was especially fascinated by him.  I told them that the elf came to see how they show God's love to others.  After they went to bed, Snowball wrote them a letter for them to find in the morning.

Dear Garren and Evan,

I am so excited to come visit you this Christmas.  My friend, Santa told me that he does nice things for people because he has Jesus in his heart and he wants to show God's love.  Santa told me that you boys were very kind and loving so I came down here from the North Pole to learn more about Jesus and to see how to show God's love to others.  Garren, I saw you listen to your mom the first time she told you to get ready for your shower.  That's great!  I hope I can learn to listen like that.  Sometimes I do things that get me into trouble so I hope you can show me how to be a good listener.  Evan, I saw how you helped mommy with the dishes tonight.  Wow, you got them so clean!  I can't wait to learn more from you while I'm here.  Each night when you go to sleep, I go back to the North Pole and tell Santa about all the ways you showed God's love.  I hope when I come back I can watch you some more and you can tell me more about Jesus.  

Snowball the Elf

Earlier in the evening I had mentioned that sometimes the Elf does naughty things and that's why we need to show him God's love.  My six year old piped up, "Mommy, I hope he doesn't eat any of our cupcakes!"

Enter exhibit #1 to be found tomorrow morning.

This is going to be so much fun.  My hope is that it will help instill some good character traits in the boys and I'm also looking forward to getting creative with Snowball's mischievous side!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Date Night

Tonight my boys are spending the night with their dad.

According to Facebook, it seems that half of my friends are having date nights with their husbands.

Normally I feel mostly content being single.  Most times I feel too overwhelmed with everything else going on in my life to even consider it.

Then there are nights like tonight.  I have no responsibilities.  I can just lay around and relax and do whatever I want.  Right now I'm watching Say Yes to the Dress and am thinking of following it up with a Hallmark movie or two.

Nights like tonight I wish I had someone to spend it with.  One day, my kids will be older and independent and maybe that day will come.  For now, I plan to drown my sorrows with a glass (or three) of eggnog.  Oh, who am I kidding?  The container is almost empty.  Let the party begin!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

You Say Introvert Like It's a Bad Thing

A few days ago, a friend of mine posted online about being an introvert.  I commented that we were like two peas in a pod because I could relate to everything she said.  One of the other comments after mine was something along the lines that she was more extroverted than she gives herself credit for.  What I read was that being introverted is not necessarily a good thing and that it's better to be an extrovert.

The misconception I've heard a lot is that to be introverted means to be quiet, shy, aloof, and almost stuck up.  On the contrary, being an extrovert is equated with being outgoing, friendly, social, and talkative.  The description makes it sound as if introversion is bad and extroversion is good and what we should all strive for.

I remember years ago when I worked in the banking industry, I was in a training class when the instructor asked the class about the qualities that make up a good customer service representative.  The guy next to me raised his hand and commented that to have good customer service, you definitely needed to be an extrovert.

Well, I'm here to set the record straight.

I am an introvert.  I enjoy spending time with my friends and family.  I have a lot of opinions.  I like to think I give good customer service.  However, because I am an introvert, my energy comes from inside rather than outside.  I need time to myself to recharge.  Often times when I am at work and starting to feel stressed, a nice, solitary walk around the parking lot helps me to relax.  It also helps to get my creative juices flowing.  I prefer to eat my lunch outside under the trees rather than in the crowded, noisy breakroom.  I am a deep thinker and very introspective.  I love to sit down by myself and just read a good book.  I enjoy spending time with people, but I need my time to myself in order to feel rejuvenated and refreshed.  Too much commotion leaves me feeling frazzled.

Introverts are awesome and I am a proud, card carrying member of the club.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Mommy, How Do I Know I'm Going to Heaven?

As much as my kids drive me crazy, wear me down, express their strong will, and pick at their food... I have to say, they are pretty cool kids.

Yesterday we were driving home after I had dropped off an article to my mom about a young girl who was recently killed in a tragic accident.

My six year old, hearing the whole conversation, asked me, "Mommy, why did she die?"  I told him a little bit about what happened.  He said that he hoped that doesn't happen to him.  I told him it was very sad but that the girl had Jesus in her heart so right now she is in heaven.

"Mommy, where do people go if they don't have Jesus in their heart?" he asked.

I explained to him that people who don't have Jesus in their heart when they die go to a place called Hell and that there is fire there and it's not a very nice place.

He said, "Mommy, I'm glad I have Jesus in my heart so I don't have to go to that place with fire and I can go to Heaven instead."  Then he continued, "Mommy, how do I know that I'm going to heaven?"

We talked about John 3:16 as we pulled into our driveway.  I told both boys, lets go inside and look up in our Bibles how we can be sure that we are going to heaven when we ask Jesus into our hearts.

I read to them, and they recited along as much as they could remember, "For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."  John 3:16

"Mommy, that's the verse I said in Sparks this week!" my six year old exclaimed, excitedly.

We also read 1 John 5:12-13, "Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.  I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know you have eternal life."

We talked about how some of our friends don't have Jesus in their hearts and that's why we have to tell them how much God loves them because He wants everyone to ask Him into their hearts because He doesn't want anyone to have to go to Hell.

I've felt very worn and weary recently trying to keep up with everything and trying to raise two responsible boys who love Jesus and others.  There are days when I feel like I'm not doing a very good job at it and can't wait until bedtime or for someone to come help me.

Then there are times like these when, in their childhood innocence, I get a glimpse of what it's all about being a mom anyway.  I love when they ask questions and we talk about Jesus.  I remember that my children are a gift that somehow God has seen fit to allow me to be their mommy.  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Hum Drums

I'm sitting here on my couch with my feet up and laptop in hand.  There is a huge pile of laundry on the couch and another basket full sitting beside it.  I look across the room to the dining room where the table is piled with papers.  There are a few dishes in the sink.  I haven't grocery shopped in probably a month other than to pick up a gallon of milk here and there.  I finally balanced my checkbook the other day after about three weeks.  My floors need to be mopped.  The carpets needs sweeping.  I made grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner because, well, you have to get creative when you haven't grocery shopped in a month.  Most nights I go to bed between 8pm and 9pm.  I don't really feel like doing much at all.  I see all the things I want to do, but have no energy to do any of them.  It's really all I can do to go to work every day and care for two boys every night.  I wish someone else would clean my house because I can't stand the mess, but can't muster the energy to do it.

The thing I'm trying to figure out is... am I depressed?  Am I overwhelmed?  Am I tired?  Or am I just lazy?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Sleep Well

I did not write the words below.  I copied and pasted them from the Autism Discussion Page on Facebook. It is absolutely priceless.  If you are a parent of a child with autism, I highly recommend liking the page.  He has a lot of wonderful tips and helps in raising an autistic child.


Mom/Dad, sleep well tonight!

With the challenges you face, and the limited knowledge and tools that you have, rest well because you are doing a fantastic job! You question your actions and agonize over what you do, do not do, or cannot provide your child. You are frustrated with the lack of services, or the quality of services you have; the looks , comments, and questions from others, and the struggles you face to advocate for ongoing supports at school and from professional agencies. You see the challenges and pain that you child endures. Unfortunately, you probably see what you didn’t do, or what you could have done, or what you might have done differently, and miss seeing what you do right! You don’t see the love, compassion, dedication, and determination you express day in and day out! 

It is natural to question the “what ifs” and “could I do more.” However, if you get too wrapped up in the maze of “what ifs” you will miss the positives that make parenting special. Sometimes we try to do too much, and obsess about what we are not doing, that we miss the special moments that gleam your love and devotion.

It is hard to see the fruits of your love, when you are only looking at what is not occurring. Believe me, there is nothing healthier than your love and time spent simply enjoying your child. Don’t let those little times pass you by, or be hidden by your feelings of inadequacy and drive to do more.

Autism brings out the best and worse in us, but self doubt is what I see eat at parents the most. There are no givens, sure strategies, or “just right” decisions out there. We are still in our infancy in understanding autism. But I will assure you with one thing. Your children are children first, and respond strongly to the same love and attention that all children need and respond to! Your love is so obvious, to everyone but probably yourself. Try recognizing that, feeling good about that, and shielding the negative self doubt with that.

It is a long journey, but one that you are tackling it well. When going to bed at night, smile at yourself in the mirror, and sleep well! If you can assure yourself of your love and devotion, you should rest well. Slow yourself down, and give your child the two most important ingredients; time and love! They need that to feel safe and accepted. You also need that to feel loved and loving. You are doing it, so feel it! Good night, sleep tight, and give yourself a big hug!
It is because of you that I do this page! I admire and value your compassion!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Removing the Mask

"The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasures."  Ecclesiastes 7:4

My sarcastic Facebook status from yesterday read:

"On the cover of People Magazine:  Zac Efron's Shocking Drug Crisis.  Hmm.  A young Hollywood star with a drug crisis.  That IS shocking."

I don't know Zac Efron.  Nor do I know anyone else in Hollywood save for one guy I knew from my youth group days who I've seen in multiple commercials and one bit part on a TV show.

I don't want to say that this is true for all of Hollywood but I often wonder if those who choose a career playing roles in front of a worldwide audience enjoy wearing the mask of playing someone else.  Of being someone other than themselves.  Kind of like an escape.  A chance to be someone else.  A chance to be seen and noticed.  I wonder about their lives before they became big stars.  Did they struggle with not being seen and heard?  Were they made to feel shameful for who they were?  Did they suffer abuse or neglect?  Did they have perfectionistic expectations placed on them they that could never live up to?  If so, the rampant drug crisis' in Hollywood is not so much of a shocker.  Aside from the lifestyle of parties and high life, maybe many of them partake as another means to feel better.  To escape some type of shame they feel inside.

I've felt shame inside.  It doesn't feel good.  And I'm sort of a perfectionist in some areas.  I've worn masks.  Mine is a smiley face mask.  The nothing's wrong, everything's okay mask.  I've also known the pain associated with wearing a mask.  The forever clenched teeth.  The constant tension in my neck and shoulders which almost seems kind of symbolic because I often feel like I'm carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders.  The inflammation in my esophagus and stomach from the fight or flight chemicals released in my body when I have an anxiety attack.

I think as long as we continue to wear the mask, we will continue to suffer.  It's time to remove the mask. It's time to deal with the issues that bother us internally that we refuse to let out.  The longer you wear the mask and keep it all inside, the more it's just going to build up.  It has to come out.  We can't live with that build up.  It will come out in some way.  Maybe it's through physical illness.  Maybe it's through angry outbursts or yelling at the kids or loved ones over something seemingly insignificant.  Or maybe it's in some other way.  You can voluntarily remove the mask and let it out, or it will come out some way possibly when you least expect it.  And it may not be pretty.

Philippians 4: 6 says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."  [emphasis mine].

God doesn't want us to hold it all in.  He wants us to let it out in a healthy way.  To lay down our burdens.  Does keeping it all inside feel like freedom?  No!  It feels like bondage and it keeps building up and building up until AHHHHHH!  I'm having a panic attack.  As Christians, we are no longer in bondage so we shouldn't live as if we are.

"Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus, the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death."  Romans 8: 1-2

So the verse I chose at the beginning might seem kind of strange.  "The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure."  Ecclesiastes 7:4

I chose that for two reasons.  One, because I just read it this morning.  We're studying Ecclesiastes in Sunday School so I figured it fitting to read during the week.  It's interesting because my Bible next to my bed is an NIV but my church Bible is a KJV.  I actually learn more depth from the KJV but I enjoy reading both versions and hearing the differences in the way they are written in each.

The second reason I chose it is because it made me think.  It sounds like a dark verse.  The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning?  But alas, it made me think of one of my recent favorite verses... "Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted."  Matthew 5:4  Mourning brings comfort.  In order to mourn, you have to let out the things that are building up inside.  Freedom from the bondage inside.

So how do you do that?  I do a few things.  I really like to write.  I keep a journal and I write down all of my thoughts and fears in there.  Stuff I might be too afraid to say publicly but can say privately in the solitude of my own house, just me and God.  I pray better in my journal through writing than I do in my head.  It helps me focus when I'm writing rather than my mind wandering.  I've also started going back to see the counselor I used to see 6 years ago when I was going through separation and divorce.  I feel comfortable with her and it feels good to not only write my thoughts down, but to be able to express them with someone who understands and will not judge me for the way I feel.  She is a Christian and always offers a great Biblical perspective and prays with me from the heart each time.  I also do puzzles.  It helps me to feel calm.  I like to sit outside in my car sometimes at lunch time in a shady area with the windows down and just relax and listen to nature.  Some people paint.  Others exercise.  There are many things.

Take off the mask.  Lay it at the foot of the Cross.  Talk to God about what you are feeling.  Pray that He would bring others along side you who understand what you're going through to love and support you.  And maybe a hobby.  Don't be ashamed to take medication for a season.  Your body does crazy things when you wear a mask and sometimes you may need something to help adjust the chemical imbalance that's happening inside because of it.  It's not all like a magic potion or anything.  I'm still afflicted.  But working through it because I'm trying to peel off the mask. 

I think this is the piece that is often times missing in a lot of Hollywood.  The mask of being someone else only works for so long.  When you don't know the Prince of Peace, you then have to look for other ways to feel better and that will only work for a time until you get used to it and have to move onto something else.  If you don't know the Prince of Peace, please click on the link above that says "Heaven" to learn more.  Philippians 2:14 says that "He himself is our peace," referring to Jesus Christ.  You may find temporary relief other places but He is the only way to find lasting peace.  I doesn't mean you won't suffer.  You will.  But you will also be comforted in ways you would never be able to experience without Him.

This morning I prayed for Zac Efron.  It felt weird, kinda.  Because he's a big famous star... almost not even like a real person just an image on the screen.  But he is a real person.  With real issues.

What mask are you wearing?

Sunday, September 22, 2013


"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."  Matthew 5:4

Today has been a good day so far.  I slept in for an extra thirty minutes or so, but was still able to make it for Sunday School.  At first it was kind of awkward being there since I posted about my experience with anxiety and depression on Facebook last week because some of those in my class are my friends on Facebook.  But I was glad to be there.  My class is so Bible centered and really makes you think.

During the regular church service time I could just sense the presence of the Holy Spirit as I sat down and waited for the service to begin.  During the offertory, my pastor's wife played the song, "This Is The Air I Breathe."  There were no words to accompany her, but I sat there quietly, singing the words in my head as she played.

This is the air I breathe
This is the air I breathe
Your Holy Presence
Living in me

This is my daily bread
This is my daily bread
Your very word
Spoken to me

And I... I'm desperate for You
And I... I'm lost without You.

I love that song.  The words and music sank down deep into my soul as she played.

On the way home from church, we stopped by Target and I picked up a puzzle to work on.  I realized a couple of weeks ago that doing puzzles is very calming for me.  I also picked up a rain and thunder CD for my son, who is working on facing his fears.  Bad weather is one of his fears and the guy he is working with in his anxiety training suggested listening to CDs of weather to normalize it for him so it will be less frightening when the real thing happens.

The CD is playing right now and I have to say, it's very relaxing.  So right now I'm going to sit and listen to the rain as I work on my puzzle while the boys have their rest time.  So peaceful.

I've mourned.  I've struggled.  I've been down.  I've been anxious.  I've been overwhelmed.

I've been comforted.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Calming Your Fears

"I will extol the Lord at all times.  His praise will be continually on my lips.  My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice."  Psalm 34:1-2

Here is another great excerpt from the book Walking On Water When You Feel Like You're Drowning by Tommy Nelson and Steve Leavitt.

Are you afflicted?  Sure you are.  You are afflicted with fear.  These verses were written just for you!  The pain and fear are real.  But this scripture says to rejoice.  But how can you do that?  You fear seems so overwhelming.  You begin by praising God for all He has done so far in your life.
  • You have taken the first step already and are seeking help and God is providing.  Praise God!
  • You have family and friends who deeply love and care about you.  Praise God!
  • You were there to watch your child take his or her first steps.  Praise God!
  • You looked outside and saw a magnificent sunset.  God is amazing!
Mornings are the worst for me.  Every morning I wake up and feel like I'm on the verge of another panic attack.  Once you have a panic attack, sometimes you live in fear of having another one.  Almost every morning I wake up and think, "Wow, I feel pretty good."  But then I start thinking about my condition and I start to feel like I am dying again.  This morning I woke up and before it was even light outside, I grabbed my Bible and read God's Word.  It was good stuff.  But I still felt like I was dying.  I am still dealing with the fear of taking my anti-anxiety medicine because it's highly addictive and I feel like I shouldn't still need it and am afraid of becoming dependent on it.  But I do still need it.  I don't want to need it.  So I dragged myself out of bed and took half and then went and laid on the couch for about an hour.  I take half in the morning and half at night.  I'm trying to cut out the nighttime half and just take it in the morning.

  • I don't feel like I'm dying right now.  That's a good thing.  Praise God!
  • My parents came home last night from summering in Michigan and today my dad took the boys to the VA to ride the new elevator they recently built.  I am still extremely fatigued but I have a few hours alone to rest.  Praise God!
  • Yesterday I had lunch with two friends I hadn't seen in a while.  When I prayed for our meal I asked God to help us remove our masks and be able to talk freely about our afflictions and anything else without fear of shame or rejection... and we did have some very open and honest conversations.  Praise God!
  • Yesterday I also was able to spend a couple of hours just reading and relaxing out by a shady walking trail near my office.  It was incredibly refreshing.  God is amazing!
Taking it one day at a time.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Week Five

I started taking anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medication just over five weeks ago.  

At the moment I'm listening online to an episode of Chris Fabry Live about a study that was done among Evangelicals as well as the average American to find their views on whether they think that Bible study and prayer ALONE are enough to heal mental illness.  Almost half of evangelicals said yes.  I think this is part of the reason there is so much shame and silence about the topic within the church.

They talked about how depression and other mental illnesses are real illnesses just like any other.  Absolutely God can work miracles and take away the illness.  Absolutely He can.  But sometimes He uses medical intervention to aid in healing.  If you broke your leg, surely God could heal that before you made it to the emergency room.  Often times he uses modern medicine to facilitate the healing process.  I sprained my ankle over a month ago.  I still wear a brace to aid in the recovery.  I still iced it while it was swollen.  I'm still taking it easy.  Prayer and Bible study have not miraculously healed my ankle.  It's been a process that God is teaching me through.

Anyway, that's sort of a tangent I guess to convince myself that it's okay to take medication because it's one that I've struggled with.  I feel like a crazy person or a mental patient to admit I take medication.  But I do. And they have helped.

Five weeks ago I could barely function.  I couldn't handle being alone, especially when my kids were up and needed to be cared for.  My chest was tight and my heart was racing.  At other times, it was all I could do to get off the couch and take a shower.  My mom had to fly home from thousands of miles away to stay with me because I didn't feel like I could handle my life.  Five weeks ago when I went to the doctor, I was too down to take my shoes off when I stepped on the scale.  Come on... I'm a woman.  You take your shoes off, your jewelry off, the change out of your pocket... when you step on any type of scale.  When I went back to work, I couldn't drive myself.  I had to have someone come and pick me up.  I wanted to read my Bible but the thought of doing anything completely overwhelmed me.  I tried to pray but my mind just raced.

Today I woke up and read Ecclesiastes 7.  I snuggled and played with my boys for a little bit before starting the day.  I got out of bed.  My body felt normal.  I fixed breakfast for the three of us.  I drove myself to work.  I found out that two of my dear friends are also struggling with similar things but had been too afraid to tell anyone until I shared my story publicly over Facebook.  We're all getting together on Friday for lunch. It's like our own little support group.  After work, I picked up the boys and drove 40 minutes to a weekly appointment my son has at the children's hospital.  After that, I dropped them off at Awana and am now relaxing on my couch for the next thirty minutes until it's time to pick them up.  I haven't felt the need to take my anti-anxiety med yet but will take half just before bed.

It wasn't a completely perfect day.  I felt very tired and drowsy for most of the morning because of the meds. I also felt depressed for part of the day.  I went for a drive on my lunch break and found a quiet, shady place to park my car and just relax until it was time to go back to work.  That helped some.

I almost forgot... a couple of days ago I realized when I got home from work that someone had been inside my house while I was gone.  It's a long, weird story but it turned out okay... I think.  But I was able to sleep that night.  I didn't lay awake anxious all night that someone was going to come back in.  I used to do that anyway even before this incident.  I laid there and just prayed and trusted that God would take care of us through the night.  I was calm enough to do that.  I was calm enough to trust rather than believe the lies that I should be afraid.  I don't remember being awake long so I'm guessing I even fell asleep quickly.

Obviously, I don't think everyone needs medication and I think it's a crutch that's used way too often in our culture these days.  But I'm learning that sometimes there is a time and a place for it and I'm learning to be okay with that.  And I'm grateful to have learned about other Christian friends who know what it's like so that we can support one another.

My weeks have been like a roller coaster lately with all kinds of twists, turns, and loop d' loops.  Week five has been like the little kiddie roller coaster.  It's still had it's ups and downs but it was slower and the turns and hills have been gentler.

Monday, September 16, 2013

I Laughed Today

Perfect peace comes from knowing that you are safe in your Father’s care.  Rest for your weary mind and heart comes when you let go of what you have been trusting in and rest in God’s truths.  You need protection.  You need someone to watch over you.  There are situations bigger than you that you were not meant to face alone.  God knows you are scared, and He wants to take the fear away.  He knows you feel alone in this, and He wants you to know He cares.

When you come to the end of yourself and can say, “This is too much for me,” then God will be waiting to respond with “I have an idea that can help you be at peace tonight and for the rest of your life.”

Give control over to God.  It can be difficult to do, but it comes with the greatest freedom on earth.

From Walking on Water When You Feel Like You're Drowning by Tommy Nelson and Steve Leavitt

I just had to praise God today because I felt normal pretty much all day long.  Writing has been a good outlet for me for a long time but when I wrote about my struggles the other day and somehow found the courage to post the link on Facebook, knowing all of my friends would now know that I am actually dealing with anxiety and depression... I feel like it kind of freed me.  I didn't realize that for me, that would be one form of letting go.

I had told a few people before that but not many.  I was afraid of appearing crazy.  So I suffered mostly in silence.  Friends, I think that is a lie of the enemy.  I was holding onto the pain and trying to remain strong in my own strength.  When I copied the link and clicked "Post" on my wall, I was nervous.  Since then I've received several private notes from friends telling me that they have or are struggling with the same thing but have been too afraid to talk about it.

For me, letting go came in the form of not keeping silent about it anymore.  I think people have been praying for me since I posted.  In fact, I'm sure of it because I can feel the results today.  Not that every day is going to be wonderful from here on out because the Lord works in a lot of different ways, not just in the way we hope or want.  He knows what is best for us.  But here is a huge praise for me today:

I laughed today.

It wasn't just a little chuckle.  I laughed so hard that I had tears coming out of my eyes.  It was wonderful.

If you are reading this blog, I just want to encourage you not to suffer in silence.  We are not meant to face life alone.  For those of my friends who I know are dealing with similar situations, please know that I am praying for you by name tonight.  I love you and even more,  God loves you and wants to wrap His arms around you.  This won't last forever...

And now it's just after 9pm and I am going to snuggle into my cozy bed and go to sleep because I took my anti-depressant and half of an anti-anxiety a little bit ago and they are sending me to la la land.  Just a little dose of reality.  But for now, I'll take it because today I felt relief... I laughed today.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

What's Happening in an Anxiety Attack

This is an excerpt from Walking on Water When You Feel Like You're Drowning by Tommy Nelson and Steve Leavitt [pg 88-89]

The mind is such an amazing organ, and it’s so powerful.  The more you can educate yourself about these issues and understand that you are not alone in them, the more power you’ll have to overcome your anxiety.

Let me explain more about what is going on in your body when you are sensing anxiety.  Remember that when you are having an anxiety attack and your body feels like you are dying, it is actually a physiological response to anxiety.  You are afraid of dying, so your body responds physically.

First, your brain send signals saying that you are in danger and should be afraid.  In reality, you are not in any danger at all; it just feels like it.  But now your brain is on alert.  It tells your adrenal glands to release adrenaline for a fight-or-flight response, just as it would if you were in a real emergency.

But these are chemicals you don’t need.  Your body is being flooded with adrenaline, which is why your heart beats rapidly.  Your lungs are trying to get more oxygen into your bloodstream, which is why it feels as though you can’t breathe.  Your stomach is releasing acid to flush out your gastrointestinal tract and shut down your stomach function, which is why you may feel nauseous and have diarrhea or acid reflux.

Your blood is being drawn out of your stomach lining, fingers, toes, and brain, which is why you may sense tingling in your fingers and toes and feel light-headed.  Your mind is telling you that you need to either fight or run for your life.  It screams that something is very wrong, and doom is imminent.  These feelings are real, but they are not true.  The truth is that you are going to be just fine.

"Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."  Philippians 4:8

This explains a lot.  For a couple of months I had a lot of tingling in my arms and legs.  I was sure I had Lou Gehrig's Disease since it runs in my family and I was dying.  I felt somewhat relieved when my chiropractor did tests following my car accident and my grips were within the normal range.

I had a lot of tightness in my chest.  I was sure I was having a heart attack.  My arms were tingling, my chest was tight, and my heart was racing.  Yes, definitely a heart attack.  I was a goner for sure.  I went to the doctor to ask about the tightness in my chest and she did a chest x-ray.  Everything looked fine.  She prescribed Nexium since I was also experiencing heart burn.  She said it was mostly diagnostic.  If I felt better taking it, her diagnosis was acid reflux.

So I took it.  The heartburn was way better.  But the tightness in my chest remained.  It felt like my food was getting stuck on the way down and just sitting there.  She recommended seeing a gastroenterologist.  So I did.  He scheduled an endoscopy which discovered that I have reflux as well as a hiatal hernia.  I did not realize that this could all be anxiety related until I read the information on the pages above.  Wow, that makes sense.

Sometimes knowledge is power.  Understanding helps a little bit to relieve some of the anxiety.  But understanding in and of itself is not enough.  The book continues:

We must trust God enough not to have to understand.  The way you trust God is to give the situation over to Him.  I had to give losing my work over to Him and trust that He would walk me through it.  This starts with spending time in God’s Word.  The more you read your Bible, the more you’ll know God.  The more you know God, the more you will trust Him.  The more you trust Him, the more you will experience peace, joy, rest, hope, and contentment.

Lately I feel kind of lost reading my Bible.  Like I'm aimlessly flipping through the pages trying to figure out what to read.  I've been in Hebrews, James, Ecclesiastes, Philippians, 1 and 2 Timothy... I need some direction. Please pray for direction.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Christian's Struggle with Anxiety and Depression

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

--attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr

I never really thought I would be one to struggle with anxiety and depression.  And up until about a month ago, it wasn't really anything I had experienced.

I had experienced depression before but it was in the form of grief when my marriage ended, compounded by the added rush of hormones from having just had a baby.  That was different.  My Christian counselor had recommended asking my doctor about taking an anti-depressant to get through the initial shock and wave of emotions following so I did and ended up taking it for about 6 months until I slowly weaned myself off of it and did the hard work of working through processing my grief over the situation.  The medication makes you "feel" less and I knew I would have to feel in order to overcome the grief process which is why I stopped taking it when I felt I was past the shock phase of grief and strong enough to move through the other steps.  I did fine once I stopped the medication and really learned a lot through the whole healing experience and it made me a much stronger person than I ever was before.

About a month ago... well, let me back up... about four months ago my office doubled in size, as did my work load.  It was a very stressful time for me because I am somewhat of a perfectionist and I like to give 100% to everything I do.  A few weeks into it, I came down with what I thought was the flu.  I had a fever and the chills and just ached all over.  I think I ended up being home from work for about three days.  I think that was the first time I'd ever taken sick days for myself  since I've been there the past four years so it was definitely out of the ordinary for me.  Once I started feeling better, the stress remained and there were a few days I left early because I couldn't handle the pressure.

But the weeks went on and I adjusted to a larger role and realized that I can only do so much, so I just did as much as I could and tried not to stress over it.

At the end of June, I took my son for a very thorough evaluation after several different concerns about nervous ticks and other different behaviors.  He was diagnosed with autism and CNS dysfunction.  I was okay with it at the time.  It felt good to finally have answers and some help with how to move forward.  The diagnosis did not come as a shock to me because I had suspected it for a long time.  In the weeks and months since then, it's been a little more difficult as it has all settled into my mind and all of the new things we need to do.

Shortly after that I was in a car accident and had to go to the chiropractor twice a week.  I'm still going, but less frequently now.  It was one thing added to my already stressful schedule.  But I knew it was important.  In dealing with that and the insurance companies, the bills, my son's appointments, my increased workload at the office, the stress started to build.

Oh yes, and sometime in there my son also fell and broke his collar bone so we also had a costly trip to the ER followed by visits to the orthopedic doctor for follow up, etc.

Tension building...

Finally the end of July came and the boys left for two weeks to spend time with their dad.  Ahh, sweet relief I thought.  I always miss them when they're gone and love when they call me just to say hi but, ahh... sweet relief from all the responsibility.  I usually stay pretty busy while they're gone.  You know... getting massages, getting my hair cut, hanging out with friends, enjoying a nice clean house for two whole weeks.  I did do some of those things.  And it was nice.  But I did not clean my house.  I didn't have the energy.  I laid on the couch almost every night and watched TV.  That might have been my first sign.  I usually like cleaning the house because it makes me feel relaxed to have a nice clean house to enjoy.  But the week was still pretty stress free and it was nice.

At the end of the two weeks, I drove about 15 hours to pick up the boys.  I can't tell you how excited I was to see them.  And they were excited as well.  From there we drove three and a half more hours to my sister's house.  My oldest son is pretty attached to his dad so he did cry a lot on the way up and it was hard to experience him in emotional pain.  I wish he didn't have to deal with that.

So we made it to my sister's house and had a whole week of fun planned... a trip to the zoo, some hiking, visiting with friends, the children's museum, and other fun stuff.  Day one... trip to the zoo.  I was excited because I was also going to get to see a friend who lives in the area.  We were all ready to go.  The boys were in the car.  My sister was getting the dog settled in the house.  I grabbed our bag and headed out the door to get in the car.  Until the first step.  Something went wrong and I fell completely down to the ground and couldn't move.  My ankle was throbbing in pain.  I yelled for my sister several times and she came out.  I couldn't get up at first.  After about five minutes or so, she brought out a walker and I somehow managed to get up and back into the house.

At this point, I was couch bound.  No zoo.  No hiking.  No visit with my friend I was looking forward to seeing.  I didn't know what we would do the rest of the week, actually.  I'd been without the boys for two weeks and was looking forward to showing them a fun time.  Now I was stuck on the couch hardly about to move.  Looking back, I think that's when the depression started to set in, but I didn't realize it at the time.

By day four, I was really starting to feel down.  I remember crawling to the bathroom to take a bath and soak my ankle in some Epsom salts and sitting in there crying the whole time.  I didn't think about being depressed but in hindsight, that was probably the real first day of it.  My sister was sweet and decided to plan a fun day to make me feel better.  We took the boys to a movie and then she had found a cute little cupcake place where we went to pick up some sweet treats.  I did feel better getting off that couch and out into town.

I felt pretty decent after that.  I was using crutches at this point but able to bear a small amount of weight on my ankle.  The morning we left, we drove about nine hours and visited some friends for a couple of days.  We had a nice time while we were there, although my ankle did still throb a little during parts of that trip.

The drive home was long.  I felt a tightness in my chest pretty much the entire 12 hours it took us to get home from there.  It was uncomfortable.

It was the next morning when it hit.  I woke up with a full on anxiety attack.  I'd never had one before.  I've blogged about the experience from then up until now in previous posts so I won't repeat all of that, but feel free to back read if you're interested.  But pretty much, I felt like I was either having a heart attack or dying.

Fast forward to the present.  I just finished reading a really great book for Christians struggling with anxiety and depression titled "Walking on Water When You Feel Like You're Drowning" by Tommy Nelson and Steve Leavitt.  I could identify with every word in this book and it helped in knowing that I'm not alone in experiencing this, that I'm not crazy, and that I'm not a "bad" Christian.

I've been blogging about this for a few weeks now but up until now I haven't told anyone about the writing so I'm not sure how many people have actually read any of it.  I've been feeling a sense in my soul that maybe I should share my journey because I wonder if there are other people, especially Christians, out there who are afraid to admit they might deal with this as well.  And also, it's been a hard lesson for me but I know I can't struggle in silence.  I need the prayers and support of my Christian friends and family.

I have good days and bad days.  I am thankful to God for days when I just feel normal.  I am working through this with the help of Jesus Christ my Savior, an awesome Christian counselor, and for the time being, medication to help with the physical effects of anxiety and depression.  I do have hope.  It's been really difficult, but I don't feel without hope and I am thankful for that.  I'm thankful for others who have been there and know what it feels like.  They are a comfort to me.  My sister has been an extra special blessing as she has dealt with it before and is doing a lot better now.  Unless you've been through it before, you can't really understand what it's like.  You can't just get over it.  She understands that and talking to her always helps me to feel better.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God."  2 Corinthians 1:3-4  This is what my sister has been for me.

So this is me.  And maybe this is you.  As difficult as it is for me to admit and share my struggles with the world, I've just had a sense over the past week or so that this is what I needed to do.  It's a bit scary.  I don't want pity.  I don't want people to constantly ask me if I'm okay.  I just want to be obedient and honest and maybe help other people while asking for prayers as I go through this phase of my life.

"The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."  Psalm 34: 17-18