Posted in Christian, God, kids, longreads, moms, motherhood, parenting, school, Uncategorized

The Best Back to School Bible Verses – SheProclaims.com

The best Back to School Bible Verses to get you through the start of the year! Whether you’re missing summer vacation already (that’s me!) or sighing with relief as the school bus pulls away – these verses are perfect reminders for you AND your kids to get through the days! By no means is it a complete list but here are the best back to school Bible verses I like to lean on!

Isaiah 30:21 “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Have a little faith, mommas. You’re raising great kids with great hearts. They know right from wrong. They will make make you proud. These lessons will carry on throughout their school days and lives. Keep up the good work

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

As long as there is school, kids will face hurdles. Bombing a test, not making the team, or being left out will hurt and leave them feeling discouraged. It’s hard on your momma heart to watch them struggle, but remember the growth they are going through (you too!).

Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.”

Don’t gossip or bully. Never let the world harden your heart or take you off track. Find your passion, find your goal, and chase after it. 

Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Starting anything new, even if it’s something as routine as school, can be scary. So can navigating friends, hard classes, and the unavoidable struggles that come with the territory. Remind your kids they aren’t alone and they will be ok, even if they’re sitting solo on a bus or at a lunch table. Remind yourself also they will be ok even without you by their side. They aren’t alone.

Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

Be a good person. Do good things. Be in control of yourself. 

Luke 6:31 “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.”

Be the nice kid. Be the good you want to see. Easy peasy.

Proverbs 15:5  “A fool spurns a parent’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.”

Parents are stupid. Mine were when I was a kid and now, it appears, I am equally as stupid to my kids some days. I think that’s just the way of the world in most cases. However, I wish I’d listened more – they did know what they were talking about – and I try to remind my kids daily I’ve been where they are and can save them some struggles if they listen to my words or wisdom (or stories of epic failure – just learn from me!).

Proverbs 22:6  “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”

If you’re like me, the idea of sending your kids out into the world without you can be scary at times. I’m struggling extra with the middle school kid right now – that age is weird, this world is scary, and I just can’t even yet!!! I just remind myself they’re good people and will stick to that path we’ve started them on!

Colossians 3:20  “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.”

I know some of your classes are boring and the homework is stupid. Bedtime is lame and dinner is disgusting. I had all the same issues when I was your age going to school, so I totally get it. But have a little faith and trust me. I do it in your best interest just like grandma did it in mine. 

1 Timothy 4:12 Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.

Oh my sweet children. I see so much goodness in you. If more adults looked at the world through your eyes and with your heart, it would be a better place. Please don’t lose that and don’t let anyone tell you you’re too young or don’t know enough to make a difference. Keep living your awesome lives so you can show the world what is possible with kindness!

What are your Best Back to School Bible verses for your kids or your momma heart?

Posted in Christian, Depression, God, happiness, motherhood, parenting, prayer, Uncategorized

God Delights When Truth Reigns – find yours here!

“God delights when truth reigns in our inmost being.” – Psalm 51:6

Recognizing this truth in your life is freeing. I have been struggling with this for a long time, but now in my 40th year (still only 39 though!) I am starting to understand. .
Discover what makes your heart happy and do it. Do you feel you alone, not enough, or unfulfilled? I do. But its fading thanks to one simple realization:
Live a life you love.

Everyone is not your friend

You want to be accepted and loved – I get it. I do too, but sometimes, its just not possible and we need to accept that. We are not for everyone.
That’s ok.
Not everyone is for us.
That’s ok too.

There are over 7.53 billion on this planet, we would all need way bigger porches if all these people were all our people. Thank you God for not asking me to host that Thanksgiving meal – thinking of the menu is giving me hives.

Why do we try to make everyone “our people” even if it means changing who we are? It doesn’t make sense. Its a lie. Living a lie will never fill your heart. You will never find peace or happiness. God delights when truth reigns over our decisions.

You do you.

I know not all people like my writing – that’s ok. I mean, they’re crazy because I’m awesome, but its their loss, not mine. They roll their eyes, whisper remarks, and straight up talk crap – it happens. It used to cut me deep, still does sometimes, until I stopped worrying about them and focused on loving me.
Seek the things and dreams that make you happy.
Discern the voices that matter, discard those that don’t.
Reveal your heart and happiness to the world.
Diminish other’s control over your life by focusing on what feels true and honest to you.

Live your life loved and authentically for you. God delights when truth reigns in your life. No one else has the right to decide who you are.

Posted in Christian, coffee, Depression, God, kids, longreads, moms, motherhood, parenting

Stay Strong Sister.

Dear tired travel softball mom,

Stay strong sister. When we spread our blanket on the beach near you at the end of a difficult day, I had no idea how happy you would make me.

We were on the last day of a family vacation. A vacation where I told my kids over and over to stop. “Stop what?” they asked. All of it. I needed them to stop it all.

Stop poking, hitting, and shoving each other. Quit yelling in my ear while wwre driving in the van – its Mario Kart not the Indy 500. Stop being full after five bites of lunch then begging me for snacks all afternoon. Quit announcing you are bored on tours you asked to go on. Playing hide-and-seek in the museums, and getting mad at me for not getting you out of a 350′ deep mine tour fast enough all needs to stop too.

We went to the beach that evening with one goal: wear these lunatics out so they go to bed without me losing my shit. They hit in the water and their land shenanigans carried on in the water.

“Quit going past the swim buoy”, “don’t hold each other under water”, “quit throwing rocks” and “you’re out too deep again” all came spewing from my mouth from my place on the warm sand. I could feel the dark, heavy weight of failure sitting on me like a wet blanket.

That’s when you turned in your chair, saw your son had buried himself to his bellybutton and you told him to “stop it and go rinse off!” in an all too familiar tone.

Our eyes met under huge sunglasses, you smiled, and I held up a fist yelling “stay strong sister!” From there, conversation flowed like the salve my battered mom heart needed so badly after a particularly draining week.

You were also hoping swimming would wear your son out. You cannot vacation without melatonin on hand, just like me. You needed to explain to a child how to rinse off in the water repeatedly as if this was a new concept. We agreed children are why wine was invented.

“You can tell yours are siblings, they’re doing normal sibling stuff” was one of the kindest things I’ve ever heard. All week they looked like heathens compared to the other kids and campers we encountered. The looks we acquired from the Judey McJudgersons made want to crawl under a rock.

The other families on the beach were laughing and playing together like I wish we were, but you didn’t seem to notice those people. Or care. Whatever.

Your shared misery, warm acceptance, and friendly commiseration pulled the heavy failure blanket from me.

This is what motherhood should be. Support, love, friendship, and laughter while we all stumble through the jungle of parenthood. Thank you for that reminder and refueling my heart.

Love,

Exhausted, but not failing, vacation mom

Posted in Christian, Depression, God, longreads, Mantras, prayer, selfcare, Uncategorized

Bible Verses for Depression: My top 5 favorites – SheProclaims.com

I want to share some of my favorite Bible verses for depression with you today. Living with and working through depression is hard no matter who you are. I know from first hand experience. You can see and acknowledge good things going on all around you but you cannot feel them. You are numb to the warmth and peace the good parts bring, which is both frustrating and infuriating at the same time. It certainly doesn’t help you to feel “better” (whatever that term means). 

Living as a Chistian mom with depression comes with its own unique challenges. Our religion is cemented in the faith that someone good (God/Jesus/Holy Spirit) loves us and is taking care of us, even when life doesn’t appear that way. Short of the Bibles containing the words that remind us, though, we have nothing concrete to cling to in order to feel that love and keep our faith. Christiantiy is a religion of feelings – love, trust, faith, gratefulness,mercy, forgiveness – but what happens when we can’t feel all our feelings? 

Bible verses for Depression

These Bible verses for depression help me through my darkest times. Are they perfect? No. Do I feel better as soon as I read them over once? Not even close. But they do give me something to focus on that is constant and unchanging. The are promises made thousands of years ago and to billions of people. Surely, they apply to you and me too. 

Philippians 4:8

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. 

Normally, when someone’s well-meaning but overly simple advice to “look on the bright side” is given to me, it makes me want to puke. I get that its well meaning, but it’s not that simple. Sometimes, there is no bright side to a situation. Sometimes the only bright side is that the struggle will end, but there’s no guarantee it will be a good ending.

Thankfully, Paul isn’t telling us to look for the bright side. He just wants us to think about anything from any time to keep our minds and actions pure. That is doable. Today may be hard, but at some point in life, there was a good day or place. Think about it quietly for a few minutes. Write about it. Draw it. Tell a friend about it. Look at pictures of it. You will not be removed from your difficult situation, but you can get a little break from it. Little breaks and reminders life is good are invaluable gifts. 

Psalm 40:1-2

I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard me cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

You are not the first, nor will you be the last, to go through difficult times. David reminds us that there is no time limit on how short or long a cold season in life will last in this verse. We just need to remember we must be patient and talk to God. When it is time, He will take us from the most disgusting, deep, dark, and difficult places and get us back on our feet. We are not being left in the pit forever. 

The world is full of normal people like you and I overcoming huge obstacles and very deep pits in their lives. They are not Prophets from the Bible, they are real people existing in our real world who have lived Psalm 40 completely. Google some for inspiration (you know how much I love Google). They were all pulled from the pits and placed back on solid ground. They were not alone. It happens. All the time. It will happen for you when the time is right. Just be patient. 

If that’s not enough or a little hard, read a little farther into Psalm 40:11-17 for an honest prayer you can say or remember in your pit.

Matthew 11:28 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

This is my go-to, easy to remember Bible verse for depression for those late nights when the gears in my mind are turning at record speed and sleep evades me at every turn. My brain likes to replay my day at bedtime, but not as a highlight reel of everything good that happened. Somehow, those things never make the cut and instead I end up watching the world’s longest blooper reel looping through my mind. It’s like the worst Blockbuster store ever, playing the same awful movie on replay until every bit of the movie lodges into memory forever. 

It’s easy to get lost in these thoughts and let them take over, I know because I’ve done that more times that I care to admit, but it’s also in those times when Matthew’s words comfort me. I am tired, I am worried, I want rest – so I start talking. My prayers are not pretty, they’re somewhat informal, like we’re best friends almost, but I think that’s ok. As I talk to God, my worries fade and the next thing I know – I have found my rest and it is morning.

Deuteronomy 31:8 

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

This has been one of my all time favorite verses for many situations; but these words feel like a verse about depression to help keep us going. I feel alone a lot, like no one understands how I feel (myself included). It is a scary place to feel so lost and unsure, but I find a lot of comfort in knowing that I am not alone. 

The author hints life can be scary or hard, but we should not be afraid or discouraged. Easier said than done? Absolutely. However, keeping this around to read or repeat to myself in the hardest times has been a life saver for me. I recommend keeping this nearby in your purse or on your phone. Something you can peek at when you’re feeling down easily.

Isaiah 41:10 

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand.”

Teaching my kids how to ride two-wheel bikes without training wheels was no simple task. The looks of terror on their faces communicated they thought they were not ready, struggling with the concept, and certain great bodily harm was in their future. I knew they were big enough, strong enough, and ready for this big step. They just needed hear I would stay by them, to feel my hand on their backs, and see me running next to them at first; until they got the hang of it. I am proud to say they both ride bikes brilliantly today. 

I think that’s exactly what this Bible verse for depression says for us all. We may not feel we are capable or ready to face whatever is pulling us down, but we are not alone. God will stay by us, with his hand on our backs even if we can’t feel it, and run beside us. Or walk if we’re talking about me, because as God or anyone I know will tell you – I don’t do running. The point is, He will meet you where you are, stay by you, and give you the strength you need to move on. The only thing you need to do is show up and believe in his loving words. 

Fill your war chest

There are a million other Bible verses for depression worth reading but these are my absolute favorites. My “war chest” of verses for the really big battle days. Reading these verses about depression reminds me these feelings are not new or only known to me. People have struggled with similar feelings since we left Eden. Feeling less alone makes it so much easier to keep going. 

Do you have any favorite Bible verses for depression or books that help you through? Feel free to share them! I would love to check them out and build up the war chest!

Posted in Christian, God, longreads, prayer

Trust in the Lord – Proverbs for difficult times in life – SheProclaims.com

PROVERBS: The O.G.

Trust in the Lord like you do Google

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

I love Google. I have no idea how people navigated work, raising children, and adult life before Google was invented. Hats off to those who did, thank you Jesus that I didn’t have to. I rely on Google as far more than just an internet search – its like a trusted friend I can turn to for help any time of the day without judgement. 

Actual things I have “Googled”:

“Why is my sewing machine thread bunching up?” Answer: it was a tension issue and Google walked me through step-by-step how to fix with like a patient teacher. 

“How can I get the cat to eat her vitamin?” Answer: like a true Doctor Dolittle, Google gave me a list of ways to try – we found hiding it in her normal food works great. 

“Do cats have belly buttons?” Answer: they do. Shoutout to Google for making me look intelligent to my 8 year old. I even showed her a picture from Google since our cat wasn’t in a cooperative mood that day.

“How can I make a million dollars?” Answer: Google told me all about jobs, college, owning my own business, and investing. Obviously, there’s no easy way, but Google clearly believes in me and knows I can do it if I put my mind to it. Thanks Google.

I love Google so much for its ability to help me out with random questions, worries, needs, and information no matter the time of the day or not. 

Those are also the same reasons I love the book of Proverbs more than any other. I’m not sure we’re supposed to play favorites with books of the Bible, they’re all great and have their purpose, but Proverbs? Proverbs is my jam. Proverbs is the OG (Original Google). While Google can help me get through many tasks I face in life, Proverbs gets me through the living parts. The love, sadness, scared, worried, lonely, happy, how to be a good person parts. Proverbs reminds me to trust in the Lord.

Trust in the Lord for help

Actual things I have “Proverbed” (that’s a word now, I just made it):

“How I can live a good life?” Answer: Proverbs 22

“How can I have a good marriage?” Answer: Proverbs 5 (I feel this one goes both ways).

“Why should I keep going to work?” Answer: Proverbs 6.

“Why should I forgive people who are total jerks to me?” Answer: Proverbs 10.

“How am I supposed to get through this?” Answer: Proverbs 17.

You can read the verses for yourself if you’re looking for info on those things. The beauty of Proverbs is that is has the best advice and we all take away what we need from it. Proverbs is a book of lessons, not instructions, left to us by Solomon on how to trust in the Lord. I think of Solomon as my really cool, patient, wise uncle who has the best advice for me. I love Uncle Sol. He tells it like he sees is, even if I don’t like what he has to say, I know that he is giving me the best advice from the very bottom of his heart. God put that knowledge in Uncle Sol and gave Uncle Sol to all of us so we would have someone to turn to. I like to visit with him. Uncle Sol’s place is a total judgement-free zone. 

I have been feeling Proverbs 3:5 quit a bit in the last few years. On one hand, I feel like it can be a really easy way to explain away everything bad that’s happening to us. Kind of a “this too shall pass” sort of response to anything that makes us uncomfortable, but that’s not how I see it. 

We know life isn’t going to be easy, we were literally told things were going to get hard waaaaay back after the whole “serpent and the fruit” incident. We were told to our faces that things would be hard. Straight up. No misunderstanding it. I appreciate that level of honest candor. I think that’s when candor was invented, which also makes it very cool. It also makes it hard sometimes to trust in the Lord when life seems extra hard.

However, to me, it reminds us that even if everything around us is awful and feels like its crashing down we need to know that God really is doing everything out of total love for us. Like a parent. We might not understand, there are plenty of times we will not understand, but we have to know that He loves us even when it feels like he doesn’t. 

My kids do not understand why I enforce bedtimes, screen limits, or make them brush their teeth. They fight me on those things, along with close to a bazillion others, because they just don’t understand why some things are good or necessary for them. They think I’m mean, which I am ok with since I know they don’t understand, but I promise you I do all of these things from the purest, most love-filled part of my heart. 

Uncle Sol points this out in Proverbs. At first, I rolled my eyes and thought that I’d finally gotten the old man! Finally, I was able to stump him and had proven myself to be an exception to thousands years of his advice. I had examples in my life where situations were clearly done without an ounce of love for me. Nothing but spite or indifference could have allowed these to happen. I wrote down a few with every intention of telling people about the handful of times Proverbs had been wrong for me.

Times I thought Uncle Sol was wrong:

When people I loved walked away and left me feeling alone. 

When we were faced with a horrific school situation and forced to pull our kids from the school we’d fought to get into. 

When I lost my job, apartment, and had to file for bankruptcy all within the same month. 

When I had to watch someone I loved deeply suffer and die. 

I stared at the list for awhile and thought back to those times. I thought back to how hurt I’d been, how alone I’d felt, and how sad I was. I remembered feeling I could not get through any single one of those events, let alone all of them, in the course of one life. I also know there are many, many more that I could share. Life isn’t easy. 

I started looking back and comparing where I was to where I am now with each of these events. I was so glad to be so far away from those places of despair, I was proud to see how I had managed to overcome all of these and rebuild wonderful things in my life. That’s when Uncle Sol’s words started creeping back into my mind – trust God and don’t rely on your own understanding. Then I wrote out the rest of these stories. 

Times I thought Uncle Sol was wrong but it turns out he wasn’t:

When people I loved walked away and left me feeling alone. I learned to trust in the Lord and make family with the people around me who do love me. I learned how not to treat other people. I learned how to forgive and move forward without bitterness in my heart. I value my kind of loyal people so much more.

When we were faced with a horrific school situation and forced to pull our kids from the school we’d fought to get into. My kids are actually both in insanely better places now. Places I never would have considered if I hadn’t been forced to. My heart was broken leaving the “good” school, but I am overjoyed to say we put our trust in the Lord and ended up at the “better” school. I never would have thought it. Better friends, better teachers, better experiences, better parents…everything is better for us. I value the people in my children’s lives so much more.

When I lost my job, apartment, and had to file for bankruptcy all within the same month. I got to move back to my hometown. It was a move I had wanted to make but had convinced myself was out of my reach. Funny how necessity changes things. I got to spend tons of time with my two year old, that’s worth everything. I got to spend lots of time with my boyfriend (now husband), and I got to start over. Every debt and struggle was left behind with a bad marriage – I had a clean slate to build back up. It was all scary but the push I needed. My trust in the Lord kept me going. I value all I have so much more.

When I had to watch someone I loved deeply suffer and die. I took the time to put someone else first. Her needs were more important than mine. I had conversations that I wish I’d had years before. I said things I’m so grateful I did and put my trust in the Lord. I hated that she suffered but I am so thankful for the warning it gave me. I tell people how important they are to me now. I want them to know while they’re here to appreciate it and before it’s too late. I value time so much more.

There are a lot of other situations in my life and the world that I still can’t see the value of: why do kids get cancer? Why does suicide happen? Why are there wars? Why are there mass shootings? Why do people suffer with Alzheimer’s? Why is addiction a thing? How come ice cream makes me fat (but happy) and celery is stupid? 

Uncle Sol is right. I don’t need to know the answers always. I don’t need to understand. It might take days, years, or a lifetime but eventually the good from every situation will be presented to me. Yes, as you know I am struggling but I will come through this better than before. He didn’t give us an authoritative instruction book of rules. He gave us loving advice like a parent to child, teacher to student, or wise old uncle to trusting niece. We don’t need to understand, we just need to trust and be loved. Even when it’s scary.

Posted in Christian, Depression, God, longreads, prayer, sad, suicide, Uncategorized

When a stranger’s suicide hurts deeply

I didn’t know you personally, but I knew who you were. I’d seen you walking the high school halls with your beaming smile and dimples in the past. You were so beautiful to me. So cool. The kind of girl I hoped I’d be in my own senior year, still four years away.

I didn’t know you personally but as it turns out, you were very special and important to many people in my life. Its clear that your friendly smile touched more than just an awkward freshman girl who never spoke to you.

I didn’t know you but I feel your story so deep. To my core. I understand. Wife, mom, sister, daughter, friend, guide….while walking through a dark fog. One that consumed you. One that overcame you.

I cheered for you (and voted for you!) when you ran for office. I love seeing strong, intelligent women making strides in the world. I love the passion and hope thaty comes weeken people fight for change they believe in whole heartedly. I admire the difference you wanted to make.

I loved seeing you speak out for mental health. You were brave. You made it ok for people like me to get help and speak out. You started hard coversations to end the stigmas and help others come out of the darkness.

Now, as I scroll my Facebook I see your face, still covered with your warm smile and dimples, over and over. Pictures of your beautiful children. Memories being shared by people I love left here hurting.

Walking into chuch, the audible reaction to your passing left tears stinging my eyes. Those who loved you surrounded by love. Enveloped in arms of friendship and family. Every one in disbelief.

I am so sorry the sadness was so deep.

I am so sorry you saw no other way.

I am so sorry that life wasn’t as kind to you as it should have been.

I am so sorry that so many are hurting for you now.

I am so sorry I never said hello in the hallway.

I wish you felt how far your ripples reached. How many hearts you touched, both known and unknown to you. I wish you knew me. The conversations you led, the people you inspired, the struggles you shared that made us feel less alone.

You helped make it ok for people like me to speak up. Sometimes, we all need a little extra help and love. You gave others the courage to ask for it and, more importantly, showed others how to compassionately give it. Even through your loss, many others have been saved by your courage.

The world is a better place because you were in it, just a little bit darker now that you’re gone. Those of us still fighting the battle mourn you, you were like us, but we will fight on through the darkness. For you, for us, and for those we love or don’t even know – we will carry on the mission. You weren’t alone. Neither are we.

“It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.”

–John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent

IF YOU ARE STRUGGLING OR HAVING SUICIDAL THOUGHTS – PLEASE REACH OUT TO A LOVED ONE, FRIEND, OR THE NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION HOTLINE:

800-273-8255

Posted in Anxiety, books, Christian, coffee, Depression, God, kids, longreads, moms, motherhood, nature, parenting, selfcare

When you look at me, I know what you see.

When you look at me, I know what you see. Your face and words say it all clearly: “you’re so fun! So crazy. So funny/strong/smart/organized/put together!”

Go ahead. Scroll my Facebook page. I’ve got all the “required” pics. Smiley, happy, spouse selfie? Check. Happy, well behaved kids displaying equal parts good behavior and precocious curiosity? Check. Yummy meals? Successful workouts? Got ’em.
Home based business? Got it. Great job? Sharing those company posts often! Pets? Theo the cat almost needs her own page. Don’t forget the amazing cakes, birthday parties, vacations, pretty house, DIY projects, make up looks, and amazing weight loss goals – I’ve got all that too!
What don’t you see? I am currently on the highest dose of Prozac a woman can take. This hair? Shoutout to dry shampoo and Bobby pins for the win! Cereal for dinner is a weekly occurrence here. I loathe the days my daughter DOESN’T want hot lunch. I got two separate emails at work today pointing out the areas I’m failing at. If I had one wish in life, it would be to stay in bed. For at least a month.
I regularly Google and price vacations I could take by myself. Just for a break from my life (which I am actually very happy for – even though I struggle to really share that everyday). Then, I check my bank account and remmember I am not a Kardashian and have a budget that doesn’t allow for such things.
I am a mom living with chronic, clinical, depression. I am a full-time employee, friend, daughter, sister, church-going, school volunteering woman who struggles to get out of bed some days. And honestly? I’m sick of it.
Why is this something we hide? Why are we ashamed of this? Why aren’t there more resources? Why do we spend so much time feeling alone and hiding our truth – when its so much more common than we could ever guess?
According to a 2016 study published by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 16 million American adults (roughly 7% of our population for you number junkies) had a depressive episode within the past year.
That’s roughly 7 of every 100 people you know, struggling THIS YEAR ALONE. Look around your office, PTO meeting, church service, your gym, or merely on your Facebook feed.
Can you spot them?
Can you see their calls for help?
Or do they master blending into society while craving help so loudly on the inside that their needs and thoughts are all they hear?
I’ll give you a moment to take inventory. Though, if we know each other in real life or through social media, I bet you pegged me wrong. To quote a favorite show from my youth: “You think you know, but you have no idea.”
My alarm sounds at 5am. Why? Because I know that I feel better if I get up with time to myself, a cup of coffee, time with God, and time for my yoga practice. However, most days I just hit snooze for about an hour and a half.
I would love to tell you that every day starts with a nice warm shower for me, but most days it’s layers of make up and dry shampoo that get me looking presentable for the day.
I wake up my kids and devote every bit of energy that I have for the next hour and a half to making sure they are ready, have everything they need, and know just how much I love them before I drive them to school each morning.
I go to work each morning to a job that I have wanted for nearly a decade and finally managed to get. Then, I think about how badly I wish I were a stay-at-home mom. I propose selling everything and living in a cabin in the woods to my husband at least once a week. No joke.
Outlook reminders, to-do lists, and calendars are my secret weapons to presenting a very put together and organized front that manages to get 90% of my job done well each week. The other 10%? Well, it’s a mix of praying that I get good luck, my coworkers cover, or that the boss understands that I am seriously doing the best I can.
My lunch hours? They rotate between therapy sessions, volunteering at my kids’ schools, and running errands to keep our family aloat. There is no time and there are no resources for a mom to take a mental vacation. That is when things start getting real.
Why is there a stigma? Why are we expected to work like we do not have children and have children like we do not work? It is literally more than anyone should take on and a serious struggle for me, personally, on a regular basis. Why do we act like this is not a problem, not a national crisis, and not something we should be addressing as a society?
I know I have a good life. I know I am fortunate. I have amazing kids, a strong husband, a deep support system, and wonderful friends, but some days are still more than my heart can handle for no obvious reason.
I am tired of living in secrecy and shame. Those things which we cannot, will not, and do not name will continue to be our scariest demons until we stand up to them and say: no more.
I am done hiding from my truth. I am done with the “mom game”. I am done posting things portraying me as having everything figured out, when in reality I am one unscheduled softball practice away from everything falling apart.
We are absolutely all doing our best. I don’t care what your pinterest board says, you are just as messy as me. I am through hiding this any longer. I am coming clean to my kids, friends, and life that mom cannot do everything. And that’s OK. Life is a team sport. And we, as a family especially, are all in this together to make everything work.
I refuse to pass in legacy of burnout, over whelmed feelings, and inadequacies to my daughter. I also refuse to raise a son who thinks that women are invincible. That we can do all of the professional work, all of the children work, and all of the household work on our own.
There is no shame in needing a break. There is no shame in needing help. There is no shame in not being able or wanting to do it all.
My kids come first. Always. Whether or not the baseboards have been cleaned? Not even on my radar. Did I forget to work out this week? Well, my pants still fit so I don’t care. If our profit margins go down a percent or two over a month’s time? Nothing I’m going to lose sleep over. And yes, the Domino’s pizza app has saved our favorite order. That’s how I know everyone gets their favorite from time to time.
The ages of 25 to 44? Those are the most likely ages for any woman to experience depression. Smack dab in the middle of raisinsg kids. If that is you, like it is me, please know that you are not alone in this battle. We are in the trenches, mamas. Torn between raising babies, building amazing marriages, and forging successful long-lasting careers. No wonder we feel that we are falling short and find ourselves battling depressing thoughts.
But until we start being honest with each other and sharing our truths, this cycle will continue. Our daughters will be in the same spot that we are, which is exactly where our mothers were. But we have the opportunity today to be brave and stand up for what we need.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It is the ultimate sign of strength. As Elizabeth Dehn said best ” You don’t have to do it all by yourself.”
So don’t. Don’t rob yourself or your family of the strongest version of you. Don’t hide the truest version of yourself to make sure everyone’s needs are met. You are more than accessory to everyone else’s life. You are a powerful being that deserves to be seen in all your mess and beauty.
Instead, remember that it takes an entire village to raise babies, grow families, and achieve a full life. Asking for help is nothing weak; if anything it is the ultimate sign of strength because you have looked deep within your self and seen what you can or cannot do on your own. That is where the real power of life lies.
I am a mom, wife, sister, friend, volunteer, and employee. I live with depression but it does not define me. I am calling it out, removing its power, and fighting to make sure future generations know that everyone has a struggle and that doesn’t make you weaker.
Please, love each other fiercely and completely. You never know what someone else is battling and how your kindness can help their fight.
If you need help, PLEASE contact one of these amazing groups:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-TALK (8255)
http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

International Foundation for Research and Education on Depression
http://www.ifred.org/

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)
1-800-826-3632
http://www.dbsalliance.org/

National Institute of Mental Health
866-615-6464
www.nimh.nih.gov

American Psychiatric Association
703-907-7300
www.psychiatry.org/

Anxiety and Depression Association of America
240-485-1001
www.adaa.org

Posted in Christian, God, longreads, prayer

Are you there, God? Because I’m mad…

I have to admit, God and I spent a good part of this last year fighting. Well, I was fighting and He was sitting back patiently waiting for me to calm the heck down and let Him carry on with His plan. Thankfully, He let me go on and humored me while I freaked out, yelled, questioned, demanded, and finally trusted His plan.

Some people will say that I had no right to question or yell at God, but I don’t think that’s true. I think He’s ok with it. I think He would rather have an angry and honest me than a me who doesn’t totally believe. Even if it means I need to question things from time to time. At least I’m giving Him my all.

This year I was tested pretty seriously in both my personal and professional life. People I had trusted fully let me down. Plans I had been working on for years crumbled. Every scrap of self-consciousness was placed center stage for me to stare at. I was low. And it didn’t make any sense why He let it happen.

I pray. I go to church. I volunteer. I’m a Sunday school teacher, Deacon, greeter, communion server, coffee maker, meal maker, and all around super friendly, involved church person. I read my Bible close to daily, share God’s love with our kids, and do my best to be generous in our community.

So, when God let all these awful things fall down on top of me? My God, who I bust my chops for 24/7 let this go down? Well, I was livid.

One particularly hard day, last fall, I found myself sitting alone in my minivan at sunrise, at the beach, sobbing hysterically in my quiet space.

Things weren’t getting better. I was getting madder. Things felt like they were getting worse. Once again, I was doing things “right”, trying to fix my life, and God was letting it all happen. I was infuriated.

As Anne Lamott said, “God can handle honesty, and prayer begins in honest conversation.” I was ready to be completely raw with my honest feelings in my prayer that morning. Excuse the language (He and I have discussed that also), but the prayer went something like this – at the top of my lungs, through tears, beating on my steering wheel:

Alright God, what do you want from me? What more do you want me to do? I come to you, do your work, and do all the “right” things and you still let life shit all over me? I can’t keep doing this. You dump on me and leave me to sort it out without any help! You don’t even bother to tell me if I’m on the right path or not. I don’t even know if you’re here! Or if you care! If any of this matters! But if you’re there – we need to work something out. You need to give me a damn clue or a sign that I going in the right direction. My way isn’t working but I appear to be the only one showing up with a plan! You want to call the shots? Fine. We’ll do it your way. But you better check in. I want signs. Owls. I want owls and birds along the way. Big, cool, special birds – everyday ones like sparrows won’t cut it. Amen.

It was far from the most eloquent prayer I’ve ever said, but I promise you it’s one of the top most sincere and from the heart prayers I’ve ever said. Swear words and irrational bird demands included. He knew I was finally being real and seeking HIS way, not the way I thought people should see me doing His way.

That’s the wonderful thing about God. He doesn’t want us coming to Him with our fake selves. He knows who we are and what we need even better than we do. He wants our honest, authentic, raw, fully open hearts coming to Him.

I’m sure He looked at me raging in my minivan with a smile while I was making demands and shouting a to-do list prayer as if He needed my help to get my life “right”. And I’m so grateful he was patient enough to wait for the real me to show up and ask Him to take over.

God knows our weaknesses and loves us despite them. He created them in us, they are perfect. He wants us to come to him, with fire in our bellies, spirits of fire, and throw it at his feet. That’s when we get the good stuff. The love, forgiveness, and the help we need to get through our hardest times.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

I left the beach without a booming voice telling me what to do next or a flock of owls tap dancing the way I needed to go next. I wish the exchange had a huge earth shattering moment right then, but it didn’t.

I drove home with puffy eyes. I did my daily yoga practice. I read. Cleaned the house, watched some Netflix, then slid into loving mom and wife mode when my family arrived home. I stopped telling God what I needed or how He should do it. I merely stayed present and looked for Him through the evening.

I climbed into bed that night feeling foolish for my outburst that morning and more lost than ever. I was more exhausted than ever too. The weight of using to do it all on my own was too much and I was ready to calmly admit it. I didn’t want to thru to be the boss anymore. I kat can’t too do things His way. My way keeps ending up in a painful place, it’s clearly the wrong direction for me.

I drifted to sleep that night asking Him to run the show and call the shots. I apologized for the language, but I admitted that I really could use some little reassurance some time. Just the occasional check-in that I’m doing ok.

When I woke from a dream around midnight a few nights later, one I do not recall but left me feeling in absolute peace, I smiled to myself with a feeling of relief that He was hearing me. Then, I heard him. A loud owl hooting in the night. The first I’ve ever heard in the 5 years we’ve lived in this house.

God is with you. Give him your honest self. He can take it and He’ll still love you for it.