5.4.2016

Overcoming the Overwhelming for Mother’s Day

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I’m reminded that this holiday doesn’t always feel so ‘happy’ for each of us. I’m grateful my friend Rachel Wojo understands this and is guest posting on the blog today to point us to Jesus in the moments that might be difficult this time of year.

Some days I would pick up the phone to call her, only to realize that I couldn’t. Since Mom had graduated to Heaven, one of my favorite months of the year became the most difficult.

May 10 is Mom’s birthday and Mother’s Day is always close to that date. Going to church on Mother’s Day became bittersweet after her death. I wanted to celebrate my children and the joys of motherhood; but I also ached to see my mama. A roller coaster of emotions resulted.

After Mom’s death, my daughter, Taylor was diagnosed with MPS at age 4. The diagnosis of a rare, terminal disease was tough enough, but to watch the gradual decline as neurological degeneration occurred was more than I could bear. With the loss of my mother still very fresh, watching my daughter lose her quality of life little by little consumed my heart and soul.

At age 6, the loss of cognitive discernment grew more evident. TayTay didn’t sleep well, and when she woke up in the night, she’d play quietly in her room. Some nights, I placed her back in bed so many times that I couldn’t hold my eyes open long enough to walk to her room one more time. So I’d sleep on the floor in the hallway to ensure that she didn’t leave the room or injure herself. Our family worked to make everything as childproof as we could. We moved the light switch to the outer hallway so she wouldn’t play with it. To keep her from harming herself by swinging on hangers and climbing on closet shelves, we placed locks on the closet doors.

Then Taylor developed a habit of placing her hands in her diaper. During the day, we kept a close eye on her diapering needs, but at night, it became more challenging.

One Sunday morning, I awoke early to prepare for church and before I hopped in the shower, I peeked into Taylor’s room. In spite of my early rising, Taylor had been awake for a while. She had taken on an art project of the worst kind. Because I had been unable to care for her diapering needs instantly, she had plastered the room with poop. The curtains, the walls, the bedding, the carpet, the doorknob, her toys. Everything.

I could hardly pull myself together enough emotionally to take her to the bathtub and wash her clean. I opened her bedroom window, closed the door, and took her to my bed to watch TV so I could take a speed shower. All the while, I sobbed and asked God why.

Why did we have to go through this? Why did she have to lose her mind? Why did I have to spend the afternoon after church scrubbing down her entire room?

And why did all this have to happen… on Mother’s Day?

I couldn’t do it. I was overwhelmed on every level and struggled to understand. Why does life have to be so difficult?

How did I begin to overcome the overwhelming?

How did I begin to work through those hard questions? I discovered that I needed to run to God’s Word when discouragement strikes. If Psalm 18 were written today, it might be known as “David’s Survival Guide for the Overwhelmed.” Take a look at the psalmist’s 6 tips for overcoming the overwhelming.

• Recognize that God is your strength.
I love you, O Lord, my strength. (Psalm 18:1) Can you repeat David’s praise as your own?

• Realize that prayer is your lifeline.
What does your prayer life look like right now?

• Remember the victories God gave in the past.
What has God brought you through so far?

• Refuse to focus on personal limitations and believe God will do His redemptive work in you.
What personal fears are holding you back from believing God will empower you for His work?

• Recall the details of God’s moment by moment provisions.
How has God provided protection for you, even in your overwhelming circumstance?

• Renew your perspective of the situation.
Is your vision limited by failing to recognize his never-ending supply of strength?

My perspective of being an overwhelmed mama has changed drastically since that dreadful Mother’s Day afternoon I spent cleaning up poop. I’ve learned that God is my total source of strength and that by continually talking to my Heavenly Father about everything, I will naturally take my burdens to Him as well. When I think about the victories God has given me by providing patience and understanding, I’m stunned by His provisions. I stopped focusing on my lack of abilities to care for a child with special needs and began comprehending that God chose me to be Taylor’s mother. I am the mom He trusts with her unique and precious life.

Years after the poopy art incident occurred, more heartache consumed our family when we lost a sweet baby to Heaven just a few months after conception. Like David, we found ourselves in a state of being completely overwhelmed. But that’s why it’s called a survival guide. We’re likely going to need the reminders again and again, right?

Two years later, another Mother’s Day arrived and in place of feeling despair, our family experienced delight. This day, May 10, 2009, was not only Mother’s Day, and not only my mom’s birthday, but also a special redemption day. We had prayed and God answered beyond our request or imagination. He ushered a baby girl into our lives on this very day, not only to answer our prayers, but to reveal His incredible power and attention to detail. He redeemed a significant date for our family by allowing Tarah to be born on her grandma’s birthday and Mother’s Day, the very day that I thought I could never be fit to be a mom.

We only share the poopy art days to reveal the glory of how He takes the worst mess and creates the best message. How He takes the hard days of loss and balances them with happy days of love. How He loves to take the overwhelmed and transform them into overjoyed. He did it for us; He’ll do it for you too!

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If you enjoyed today’s post, you’ll love Rachel’s latest book, One More Step: Finding Strength When You Feel Like Giving Up. We’ve got 3 copies to give away today! Just leave a comment below to be entered to win.

4.27.2016

Getting Past My Past

Is there something from your past that haunts you and constantly interrupts your thoughts?

For many years, that something in my life was my abortion. I walked around in a zombie-like state in the months following that decision with a growing hatred for myself at the root of my pain and confusion.

Up until that point, the things that brought hurt into my life were caused by others. But the abortion was a choice I made myself. It seemed like the only answer at the time. The abortion clinic workers assured me that they could take care of this “problem” quickly and easily, so I would never have to think about it again. What a lie.

I kept my secret buried deep within my heart. I was so ashamed, so horrified, so convinced that if anyone ever found out I’d had an abortion, I’d be rejected by all my church friends and deemed a woman unfit to serve God.

My complete healing began when I was finally able to turn my thoughts past my own healing to helping others in the same situation. It was terrifying to think about sharing my story with another person. But then I heard of a young girl who worked for my husband who was in a crisis pregnancy situation. She’d asked for a few days off to have an abortion.

I was faced with a fierce tug of war in my spirit. I knew if she heard my story, she might make a different choice. But what would she think of me? What would others think if they found out? I knew God wanted me to talk to her; so would I trust Him, or would I retreat back into my shame?

With shaking hands, I approached Sydney, intent on extending God’s comfort and compassion. Maybe I could just share a few Bible verses and offer to help her without making myself vulnerable.

But during our time together, it became clear she needed to hear my story. With a cracking voice and tear-filled eyes, I decided to care more about her situation than keeping my secret hidden. I told her the truth of what I’d experienced and prayed she’d make a different choice than I had.

A year after that first meeting, I sat across from Sydney once again. She choked out a whispered, “Thank you,” as she turned and kissed the chubby-cheeked boy in the baby carrier beside her. As soon as she spoke those two life-defining words, tears fell from both of our eyes.
Hers were tears of relief.

Mine were tears of redemption.

Both were wrapped in the hope that God truly can take even our worst mistakes and somehow bring good from them.

God has brought me so far since that first meeting with Sydney. Now I travel to crisis pregnancy events and tell my story in hopes of encouraging people to support their local centers. I also share my story from pulpits all across America, trusting that the many women in the audience will see it is possible to be healed and restored from the tragic mistakes from our past.

But I can’t reach everyone. There are women in your sphere of influence who need to hear your story.

I realize an abortion may not be the pain you’re dealing with, but I also know few of us have escaped very deep hurts.

Will you go? Will you share? Will you allow God to comfort you and then take that comfort to others? This step could help you start your own healing process.

I think you’ll find that you are the one who winds up doubly blessed as you walk out the truth of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4: “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.”

Dear Lord, only You can heal my deepest hurts and use the bad in my life for good. I need You more and more each day. Please continue to work in my life and use me as a light to help those You have entrusted to me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

4.22.2016

Devastated but not Destroyed

I took my seat in the middle of the food court and was thankful I could hide my tears by staring down at my food. I quietly brushed my napkin across my cheek. I blinked. I tried desperately to swallow.

I’m not normally a mall-goer, but that day I needed a place to hide. A place to process. A place to remember that the whole world wasn’t falling apart.

The news I’d received from just an hour earlier crushed me. And devastated me.

A friend I love made a decision that I couldn’t for the life of me understand. It wasn’t in keeping with her character. It wasn’t something I ever dreamed this person could do.

The affects of this decision would careen across her life and mine with really hard consequences.

Glancing at the table across from me I saw two women a little younger than me. They were laughing and cutting up food into bite-size pieces for their young kids. I could hear them talking about costumes that needed to be made for their upcoming preschool performance. One of them was having a hard time finding purple tights and she desperately needed purple tights to make the costume complete.

I whispered under my breath, “I wish my biggest issue was purple tights.” Although my whispered statement was lost in the chaotic chorus of food court voices and noises, the scream inside my heart hovered over me in deafening tones.

What. In. The. World!

My mind raced. My throat tightened. My eyes leaked uncontrollably.

I tried to pray but honestly I felt like God was pretty distant at that moment.

It’s hard to stand on the goodness of God when you feel like life has just been stripped of so much good.

I forced my legs to support my body. I walked mindlessly to my car. And I drove home.
It’s in these moments where we know if the Word of God has seeped deep into our hearts or not. Though the world seemed to swirl and spin without anything for me to hold onto, one simple statement rose to the top of my mind and cut through with crystal clarity, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

I heard it over and over.

And I knew it wasn’t my mind conjuring up this Bible verse. It was the Holy Spirit inside of me speaking. Reassuring. And quite honestly, holding me together when circumstances were literally tearing me apart.

I don’t know what hard reality is crushing your heart right now. But I sense I’m not alone. The enemy is on a full-out attack against everything good, sacred, pure and honest. He is the father of lies who wants us to believe that if our circumstances fall apart, then so will we.

But take it from a woman in the middle of my own hard reality: Satan is a liar. God is a Redeemer. A Healer. The Author of hope. The Pathway of restoration. The great I AM.

Right this very minute there are some things you and I must cling and hold to as if our lives depended on it:

1. God loves us and He will not leave us.
2. This battle isn’t ours. The battle belongs to the Lord. Let Him fight for you. Save your emotional energy and use it to dig into His Word like never before. Our job is to be obedient to God. God’s job is winning this battle.
3. The battle might not be easy or short-lived, but victory will be there for those who trust God.
4. God is good even when the circumstances are darker than you ever imagined. God is good even when people are not. God is good even when things seem stinking hopeless. God is good and can be trusted when you feel suspicious of everyone and everything around you.
5. Lastly, God is good at being God. Don’t try to fix what He hasn’t assigned you to fix. Don’t try to manipulate or control or spend all your emotions trying to figure it out. Let Him be God. Free yourself from this impossible assignment.

Sweet friend, be still. And know. He is God.

I’m praying for you. And I treasure the fact I know you are praying for me.

I had some “Be Still and Know” bracelets made to help remind me of these truths in the hard moments. If you’re going through a hard time, get one of these by clicking here and let’s band together to declare we Jesus girls may not have all the answers for our situations. But by God we will stand in the midst of our hard days and declare we trust the One who holds every answer.

We will … be still … and know … HE IS GOD!