Posted in kids, longreads, moms, motherhood, parenting

Dear Teenage Son – I don’t know it all but I do know some.

Dear teenage son,

I am ridiculously excited to have a front row seat for the big, bold life you are creating and to be your guide for this part of your life. So excited, it’s freaking me out a little bit about how quickly you’re getting the hang of things on your own. You need me less these days. Which makes me proud and sad all at once. I still want to protect you and I can’t believe how big you’ve already grown; but don’t think for a minute you know everything. You’re not grown yet (even when you are, you still won’t know everything – trust me on that too).

You’re not the only one feeling a flurry of conflicting confusing feelings in your teenage years. They suck for you, I get that, middle school is literally the worst – anyone who claims otherwise as an adult has clearly blocked it all out. It’s really hard for the parents too, though. So hear me out and cut me some slack. I know I’m old and I don’t understand (just like grandma was old and didn’t understand me) but I really do know a thing a thing or two about where you are.

Let’s be honest: I really liked being your number one person when you were little. I was like a fabulous superhero mom. I still want to tell you the direction you should go, then swoop in to save you from any trouble I see. I want to warn you about friends or situations which could lead to heartbreak. I want to save you from the hard things but I know I can’t. As good as it might make me (or you) feel in the moment – it wouldn’t do either of us any good.

I know these things because I learned by living. I need to give you that chance too. Even if it sucks for us both. That doesn’t mean you’re on your own. Not all all. I saw the perfect saying the other day about it: There are three places you will always find me: in front of you guiding the way, behind you cheering you on, or by your side. I can’t think of a better way to put it.

I’m trying to lead the way for you. I want to show you right from wrong, that’s totally a requirement of this mom gig. I also want to show you its ok to stumble or make a mistake – just say you’re sorry and learn from it.

I want to show you that pure love exists. No matter where you go or what you do (even if I don’t agree), I will love you. The people willing to tell you the truth, even when it hurts, but still love you fully are the kind of people you need to cling to. Those are your people. I will always be that kind of person. 

I will always be behind you. I may not agree with all you do in life, but I am cheering for you. I hope it always turns out for the best. When everyone else walks away, even if I think we’re both crazy, I’ll back you up. I’ll cheer you on. I’ll be in your corner. I have seen you do amazing things, I know what you are capable of. If you’re all in, so am I. Tell me what you need me to do.  

And on those days when you are lost and don’t know what to do – I will be beside you. I may be just as scared and lost as you, but I will never leave you on your own. I make no promises I will know what to say to make you feel better (yeah, that’s right, I might be speechless). I may have no idea or suggestion to help with the situation, but I will not budge. Even if all I can do is listen, hug, and hold your hand – I will be there. Forever.

I will also hold you accountable for your actions or words. I will stand by consequences from other adults when you’ve goofed up with them. You will not always like what I have to say. There will be lectures, groundings, apologies, and arguments along the way. You’ll roll your eyes and hate me for an evening, but I am as ready as I’ll ever be for that. I love you more than life itself but that doesn’t mean this is the cakewalk portion of life (spoiler alert: I’m almost 40 and I’ve yet to find the cakewalk part; I’ll let you know if I do). I don’t plan on raising assholes and we’re bound to have the occasional growing pains getting there. I still love you though.

This is new territory for us both. I’m trying not to screw it all up but we already butt heads from time to time. I’m sure that will go on for years to come. I have never done this before as a parent, only as a kid. It’s a little confusing on this end of the spectrum too. I am doing my best, so cut me some slack if I get a little crazy trying to help, guide, or protect you.

It’s hard being your age and that’s coming from me (I have seen some shit, man). Navigating friends, teachers, parents, and all the other things in your life is crazy hard. I remember. I am doing my best to help you navigate and be by your side. Sometimes, it’s scary.  Then I remember this line from a book you and I shared long ago “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” 

Its like Dr. Seuss knew you were coming and wrote a cheer just for you. Or he knew how much I’d love you and wrote a reminder for me. Either way, he was right. You’re doing an amazing job and going in an exciting direction. You’re a good kid, becoming a good man. I am eternally grateful to be along for the ride – even on the days I have to control to get you back on track. 

I love you always, Mom

Posted in Depression, longreads, selfcare, Uncategorized

This is important: learn to step out of your comfort zone.

It can be scary to step out of your comfort zone. I like volunteering at my kids’ schools. I wish I loved it, but the idea of having a weekly commitment makes me itchy and takes the joy out of it for me. I’ve done the weekly commitments but sporadic volunteering is by far my strength. That is what I like. Specifically, the book fair. I like the book fair because I love books. And shopping. This combines the two for a good cause! Plus, I can score some great deals on Christmas gifts. It’s literally the perfect gig for me.

A few weeks back, was the fall book fair. I’m sure you’ve seen a similar set up before. Large metal bookshelf carts form a large horseshoe in the center of the school library. Brightly colored tables display books for every age. It’s a visual reminder to me of my children sitting on my lap with plump board books, now curled onto the sofa with chapter books I’m not a part of. Some books have memories and some I wish I had a child small enough to buy it for.

That night, I stood near a table of posters and books, watching families weave through the maze of shelves. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed an older man with a young boy walk into the library. Grandparents and grand kids aren’t an unusual sight at these events, but something about these two caught my attention. 

Most kids jog into the book fair. Or at the very least power walk. This boy walked in slowly, almost unsure if he should even be there. He paused next to the first metal cart, briefly inspecting the chocolate calculators no child can resist touching, before his eyes fell on a table full of his favorite books. 

Silently, he approached the table and began flipping through the pages of each book. I wasn’t the only one who took notice and soon his grandpa was by his side asking him questions about the books. I couldn’t help but overhear their conversation:

“Do you like these books? Have you read them”

“My teacher has them. She lets me read hers. I read this one, but she doesn’t have all the other ones.”

“You can read them though? The words make sense and you like the stories?”

“Yeah, I like them a lot.”

“We should get you one. Everyone should have a book to read. Which one do you need next?”

“Are you sure? How much are these?” the boy held up the book and the man looked around the table for a price sign.

“I don’t know. I don’t see a sign and I don’t really know how books work,” he took the book from the boy, flipping through the pages and spinning it in his hands trying to spot a price to no avail. 

“Its ok grandpa, I can get it at the library,” he reached for the book to place it back on the table, but his grandpa pulled in back.

“No. This is important. I might not know how this works but I know its important, we’re finding someone to help.”

It took all my self-restraint not to buy every book on the table for the boy. When grandpa and I made eye contact, I stepped in to tell them the price of the book they were holding. He asked if I could show him and his grandson “how books work”. I gave them a quick crash course on where to find book prices, what the book is about, and what number it is if it’s part of a series. Things I take for granted that my children and I know, were totally new info for the two standing before me. They paid for the book and left. I returned to where I was watching the book browsers but I couldn’t quite shake the older man’s words. 

“This is important. I might not know how this works but I know its important. We’ll find someone to help.”

They could have said nothing and walked away. The grandpa could have been so ashamed about his lack of book knowledge he directed his grandson back out into the hallway. He could have just thrown the book on the counter and prayed the cost wasn’t going to be something out of his budget when it was rung up. Instead, he admitted he was not an expert, did not shy away from asking for help, and made sure they got what they needed before heading out that evening. Not only did he step out of his comfort zone – he bravely long jumped himself into the unknown.

That’s kind of how I feel about my journey in life and wherever this is going. I do not know it all. I am actively still in the middle of figuring things out. The only thing I am really sure of is how important it is to share, even if I need help along the way. I am not an expert on many things. I hold no fancy degrees in psychology, social work, Christian studies, writing, the Bible, marketing, or depression. I can still know those things are important. Instead of hiding away, I can find the help I need to get the outcome I want and share what I learn with anyone else in need. 

I think that’s something a lot of people allow to hold them back. I am totally guilty of it. I see people doing or achieving things I want to, then I quickly assess my progress toward those goals. If I am not on par with them or at least catching up, I immediately believe I am not as good as them. The idea of working through those feelings or getting help doesn’t cross my mind. You’ve either got “it” or you don’t, right? I know I’m not the only one carrying these ridiculously high standards with me.  

I wonder how many amazing things I have missed out on because I didn’t feel I was an expert at it soon enough. How many things have we all missed out on which could have helped improve our lives or the lives of others? Why do we let doubt and fear take the wheel so often? Why do we act like we can only do the things we already know? When you step out of your comfort zone, you take back control. 

If a man in his 70s can wander into an elementary school library and admit to his grandson, then a woman he never met before, he doesn’t know how books work – we can chase after our dreams. If he can stand there, surrounded by Captain Underpants, Dogman, and Baby Shark books while he learns where to find information on a book sleeve without an ounce of embarrassment – we can ask questions and allow others to guide us too. You just need to step out of your comfort zone.

If you don’t know how, but know its important – do it. Do it scared, unsure, shaky, and uncertain – but do it.

Posted in Anxiety, Depression, God, happiness, longreads, Uncategorized

Change Your Mindset – Find Your Happiness!

Change your mindset is the best and worst advice I have ever gotten in my life. It’s a popular topic around the web, television, and magazines too. Everyone everywhere is starting to realize the power our minds really have over our lives and happiness, which is great. I like the idea of being in charge of my own happiness but the topic is so broad its hard to wrap your head around.

I am by no means an expert (at this or anything else really – other than naps). However, I am someone who struggles to find herself and happiness in life. I don’t believe there is a “final destination” of happiness once you change your mindset, its something that will change and evolve over time. Having the tools and skills to help you work through those times is the key to helping you find happiness. 

Change your mindset about calendars

For a very long time, I was a “sure, yeah!” person (a SYP from here on). If someone needed help or a volunteer and asked? My response was always “sure, yeah!” even if I didn’t really want it to be. I’d throw it onto my daily calendar on my phone then stare at all my tasks each morning with dread. Sometimes, I still try to find legitimate reasons to cancel things because I am so tired

There’s nothing wrong with being a SYP. Honestly, SYPs are really important for keeping the world spinning! The key is being a selective SYP. Say yes when it feeds your soul or you can help with something without destroying the rest of your day. Taking on things you don’t really love or without checking your schedule first will tear you down. You will be burn out, feel crabby, and overwhelmed by life. The life you signed up for. 

I got an adorable old school planner to help change my mindset about my time. You can print a calendar off the internet, buy a wall calendar, make your own, or get a planner – whatever floats your boat – but the key is that you will see the whole month at one time.

Change your mindset about being busy

I used to view busy as some sort of warped badge of honor. Like, the fuller my calendar was the better I was doing at life. I’m not sure if I thought going to meetings was cool? Does having a calendar full of “stuff” make me really important to the world? Do the more things I can cram onto a tiny square representing a single day in my planner, make me better? I found value in the quantity of things I was doing, not the quality of self I was giving.

There is no merit badge for being busy. I have checked with every merit badge-awarding group I can think of. They have badges for cooking, building, archery, and even chess….but no one gives out any special award for “being busy all the freaking time”. So what on Earth was the draw?

Grab your calendar for the month. Write in everything you need to do. Dentist appointments, meetings, school events, hair appointments, volunteer duties – whatever. If you have a commitment (whether out of love or obligation) write it down. When you are finished, look back at your month. Is there something on every day? More than one thing on many days? Do you feel tired and overwhelmed looking at it? How will actually doing it each day feel? I get it. That was me for many years. Stretched thin, living a sparse life, with no room for “unscheduled” happiness. It works for a while, in small doses, we all have busy seasons in life. When non-stop busyness become your normal, though? It’s no longer a season, it’s a cry for help.

What are you looking for?

I’m no expert, just a regular mom with a whole lot of baggage that desperately needs to be sorted, claimed, and dealt with. Seriously, I make the “unclaimed baggage” room at LAX look like a P.O. box when compared to what I’m working with. Busy lives are usually a sign people looking for something to fill their voids. The problem is, we can’t usually see what our voids are until we have reached some sort of life altering, world shattering low point. 

We all have our demons and issues – God knows I’m far from an exception to that rule – that we need to identify and deal with to find peace. I can’t speak for everyone, but here’s my deal: I never feel that I am loved enough, valued enough, or wanted enough for people in my life. These voids fill up by cramming my schedule as full as I can. I try to make myself so valuable and needed that it feels like I am loved. 

Never enough

Honestly, I can’t remember a time in my life when I haven’t felt that way to an extent. In elementary school, I craved praise from teachers and classmates. I wanted to be the smartest, the coolest, the most artistic, the most helpful – anything to be needed in that world. 

At home, I wanted to matter. I wanted to be more than “the smart one”. To be fun, engaging, and captivating to those around me. I didn’t want to just be the girl with the answers, sometimes I wanted to be the girl who was the answer. The one with the joke or punchline who strangers stopped to gush over in the store; chosen over other for special attention. But, that was never me. 

I was too big, too old, too smart, or too loud for any of that. I was just never the right person at the right time to meet the needs of whoever was around. Friends, family, teachers, strangers…whatever the case I was seeking approval and only finding it when I worked myself to the bone. The plus side? I was getting what I thought I needed. The down side? I was only getting it when I ran myself ragged and on other people’s schedules. That’s no way to lie your life and find true happiness. 

The missing piece

I grew up going to church, learning my Bible stories and memorizing my verses. Not because I felt God’s amazing work in my heart and soul, but because I wanted to please my Sunday school teachers. Noticing a pattern here? Wish I would have seen it sooner and save myself a lot of heartaches. 

I have been linking my value to what other people think and say about me. Not what I think, feel, or what God has to say about anything. I have been so busy living and dying for the people around me, I never gave much thought to fully living for God above me. I was putting my worth in schedules, awards, and praise instead of looking at my bigger role in life. My role in God’s plan.

How that changed

I would love to say there was one Earth shattering, soul-baring, definitive moment that changed that view for me; but that would be a total fabrication. It took numerous events to finally wake me up and help me see all I was missing in life. To this day, I live with abandonment issues stemming from my parents divorce. I am littered with insecurities from more than one boyfriend cheating on me and replacing me with a “better model”. I have lost jobs, a marriage, all my money, and myself before starting to warm up to the idea I am doing things wrong and living for the wrong people. The universe was essentially screaming at me, “change your mindset!” with every new hurdle I encountered.  

I don’t need to do anything for anyone else. No one on Earth. I need to live for myself and for my God. In the rawest, purest, most authentic way possible. It is the only way to find my true purpose and happiness in life. It sure would be great if this process were easy or came with step by step instructions, but such is not the case. Like so many other things in life, growth of this magnitude relies on two things: lots of mistakes and even more faith.

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 happiness, kids, longreads, moms, motherhood, parenting

To my eight year old daughter,

To my eight year old daughter,

I’m watching you swim in the pool surrounded by the summer sunshine for what feels like the thousandth time this year. Rainbow bathing suit, teal goggles, and sun-streaked blonde hair flowing wildly in the water.

Your twisted bathing suit straps look uncomfortable to wear, but you did it yourself. My offers to fix it have all been shrugged off; just another reminder that you’re growing up. Instead, you scurry up the ladder like a flash of freckles before splashing into the cool water.

This is the summer you could finally make it to the bottom of the deep end for the diving rings. It’s the summer you perfected your underwater handstand – sort of – but I clap every time your wobbly legs shoot into the air. This is the summer when all those swimming lessons came together and I don’t have to get in with you. I can relax poolside in my chair like the moms I was envious of just a few summers back. This is our first summer apart even though we’re together.

This is our first summer apart, even though we are together.

Your jumps are getting higher, your “tricks” more daring, but you stop to check the backs on your brand new unicorns earrings just often enough to remind me you are still my little girl. You look over and catch my eye before your next amazing stunt to make sure I see you. You want me present and watching every independent move you make. I can watch but not help. No, you remind me often you’re not a baby anymore.

Our conversations flow from talk of friends and Descendants movies to Paw Patrol and your nervous feelings about third grade. Some days, your never-ending chattering is almost more than I can handle. But today, among the splashing, laughter, and warm summer breeze I am taking it in. I’m trying to take you in. I want to keep this version of you in my heart forever.

I hope we can stay like this, you and me. Enjoying each other and our moments together. Sharing jokes, wishes, worries, and dreams while confiding in each other. I like being your rock. I like being home base. I love that you want me to see everything you do. You want me to be a part of all exciting things.

I also know, it won’t be this way forever. I know hard years are ahead for us. If they’re anything like my teen years, my heart will ache for relaxing afternoons like this one in the not-so-distant future. I’m trying to ready myself and remain realistic about how life goes for mothers and daughters. It won’t be anything be personal, its just how the teen years go.

Soon enough, you’ll want me in the house so your tricks can be shared with your friends. You look at me like I’m crazy when I hint about that possibility, but I’ve been where you are before. I love how pure your heart is. I love the bond we have created so far. I hope even when I’m not your number one person down the road, you’ll remember those feelings and let them help guide you back to me.

Remember you are always loved, even if it feels like the world is against you. You are strong and capable of taking care of yourself. I am cheering for you through wobbly handstands and difficult life choices. When you look over your shoulder at 12, 16, and 18 – I’ll be watching like I was when you were 8. I’ll be watching for whatever amazing things you do, even if they’re a little wobbly. I’ll be counting down the days until you settle into who you are and, hopefully, fall back into me a bit.

I hope you remember your bravery as you grow.

I hope you remember your bravery as you grow. I hope you take chances, share your heart with others, and feel comfortable to make mistakes because you know your mom is cheering you on. Your secrets, wishes, fears, and dreams are all safe with me. They always will be. Remember my love in your heart always.

I hope that someday, you’ll think back to the summer when you were eight with the warmest of memories and smile. We’re getting closer to the time when you won’t need me, or want me, around as much. I thought we’d have more time than this.

But for now, I’m taking in every freckle, giggle, and “mom look!” that I can. These days seem long but I already know the years are going too fast. I hope our days are creeping deep inside your heart whether you realize it or not. thank you for sharing your heart with me. I hope I’ve done the same for you.

Love, Mom

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 Depression, happiness, longreads, moms, motherhood, selfcare, Uncategorized

F those people – they aren’t yours – SheProclaims.com

F those people in life, who will not understand you. They will think you are too much or not enough. No matter what you say or do or how you try to explain it to them – it just won’t make sense. That’s all ok. Those people are not your people. Fuck those people (yes, Christian mom and sometimes I cuss – that’s how I roll). Find different people.

Those people and their opinions are not paying your bills. They are not in charge of you or your life decisions. It is not your job to make them comfortable or contort yourself to fit the mold they want you in. Your responsibilities in life are to be kind, do good things, love others, and be happy. That’s it. You live your life for you and no one else. You don’t need to hate them or be mean to them or rude to them – just take a deep breath and move on.

I learned this the hard way.

Many years ago, I was in a relationship which was definitely not the right fit for me. I am not sure why this person seemed so important to me at the time, but my craving for acceptance was so strong I was willing to do most anything. I changed my personality, interests, and worked myself to the bone to keep him happy. Comparing pictures from the start or our relationship to the end, you can watch the light in my eyes slowly fade. 

When he dumped me? I was a mess. I didn’t know who I was or what I liked anymore. I had pushed away a lot of friends and felt like I didn’t even know myself anymore. I felt discarded, worthless, crazy, and unworthy of anyone’s attention (especially his). I mistakenly let someone else drive my bus. When he pulled over, hopped off, and walked away I had no idea where I was, where to go, or how to even drive the dang bus. 

I wasted years of my life trying to be someone else for someone else. I wished I could be different, better, more worthy for him. I was so busy chasing his dreams that I lost mine. I missed out on part of my life because I was so focused on trying to make his better. I didn’t value myself one bit, and in the end neither did he. 

There is no “happy medium”

I was too quiet when we were out with his friends (never mine), then I was too loud. I never did find the right balance so I stopped being included. 

I was too lazy when I wanted a night at home with movies, then I was too wild if I wanted to go out for drinks. I gave up suggesting and just where he wanted. 

I dressed like a slut, then like a frumpy nun. I let him pick my clothes to save the fight. 

I spent too much money, then didn’t buy him nice enough things. I couldn’t even have a debit card to my own account.  I let him decide what I spent. 

Repairing your soul takes time

I am still healing from the damage that I allowed him to do, 20 years later. The damage I invited in, encouraged, and tolerated. Looking back on it now, all I can say is it was bullshit. In every sense of the word. There were people around me who love me deeply warning me of the damage it was doing to me; but I didn’t listen. I decided they couldn’t stand to see me happy and pushed them away. They became the villains in my story. I wish I had listened to them instead.. 

What I have learned since then is that I do not live my life for anyone but me. I will be too much or too little for some people and that’s ok. There is nothing wrong with me or them, we just aren’t meant to be kindred spirits. I will be too loud, too liberal, too conservative, too outspoken, and too vulnerable for some people. That’s ok. My job is not to make you comfortable, it is to live my best life and do as much good as I can. 

I suffered in silence for years, dying a little each day, trying to keep my depression and anxiety away from the world. I didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable, after all. Until the day I woke up and realized I was slowly killing myself this way. I was robbing my husband of his wife, giving my children only part of their mother, and hiding away my authentic self. The people that matter most were getting the least, because I didn’t want strangers to feel bad

F Those people.

Living your life for someone else is a waste of time. Nothing good comes from it, so I do not recommend it. I was a shattered, hollowed out soul when I found myself completely alone and regretting how I had allowed my life to go. Into a direction I didn’t want and didn’t enjoy. I missed out on fun times with family and friends because I was so devoted loving to someone who didn’t love me. Someone who didn’t let me love me either. 

Somewhere out there, I know someone is that place I crawled from. Ignoring the little voice in their head and the tug in their heart telling them they deserve more. They are feeling lost, unfulfilled, and adrift in a story they do not fully love. Maybe you’re the someone and you need to hear this. Maybe you know someone who needs to hear it from a completely unbiased source. This next part is important: take it in, share it, and live it. F those people who are holding you back.

Live your life

Do not live your life for someone else. F those people who try to limit your greatness or dim the light in your eyes. They are not your people, move along. Be kind, be loving, but don’t let others drive your bus. You do you. Be your authentic and original self. Shout your truth from the tops of mountains. You deserve happiness. The people who don’t “get” you are not worth worrying about and certainly not worth changing for. 

Wake up each and every day with a commitment to yourself to give your all to your own life each and every day. Bring the best and fullest version of you to the people you love. To the people who feed your soul. Those, dear friend, are your people. The people who see your messy, loud, quiet, lazy, crazy, true, real self are the ones that matter most. F those people who can’t handle your full life self.

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 Anxiety, Christian, Depression, guest writer, happiness, longreads, Meditation, moms, motherhood, sad, selfcare, suicide, Uncategorized

Sorry My Depression Makes You Uncomfortable – SheProclaims.com

“It’s just difficult for us when we don’t what your mood will be today. Your depression makes us uncomfortable.”

I am sorry my depression makes you uncomfortable. Want to know why people suffer in silence? Don’t get help? Get lost in the darkness, leaving everyone shaking their heads saying “I had no idea…”? It’s because too often, others make your depression about them. They shame people into feeling small, bothersome, and crazy for struggling when they don’t feel we should.

I have gone over this before, remember this post? But that’s fine. I’m will not going away. I’ll address it until I die.

I’m done with the mask. I will not going to tell you I’m fine, when I’m not. I also won’t breakdown sobbing and unleashing all my problems on you. Instead, I’m going to be quieter than usual when you see me while I work things out. It’s going to get uncomfortable, but I’m ok with that. Uncomfortable is where change begins.

I’m so sorry if my depression is inconvenient for you. Clearly, I am doing this to make you uncomfortable and cause as much disruption to your life as possible. It’s a well known fact that people choose depression and other mental illnesses out of spite most of the time. And for the fame and admiration which comes with being labeled. Right?

I realize that even though it takes a 30 minute pep talk and prayer meeting to will myself out of bed, I am making life your life hard by not being perkier in the mornings.

Even though I am often exhausted from insomnia and constantly talking my anxiety down to a manageable level, you’re right. It’s my responsibility to make sure everyone else is completely at ease around me at all times. Instead of a simple polite smile when you say good morning, I will try to light up like the Griswold family’s Christmas lights and enthusiastically greet you. That won’t feel fake or awkward for anyone.

Its great when you ask what will make me happy. Obviously, I withhold that one thing from myself just to ruin your day. I am thinking of a number between 1 and 100 billion, as soon as we reach that number with the question, I will spill it and we’ll all have a good laugh at this game.

You get bonus points by demanding I tell you what is making me sad. That is definitely going to help – especially if you can raise your voice during the conversation. Maybe…just maybe, you’ll be the one to “set me straight”. Worst case, we’ll be closer to the secret number.

Please keep inviting me to things only to get offended if I politely decline. If I do go, get ready to be irritated when I don’t have as much fun as you think I do. Probably a good time to interrogate me more too. Maybe in front of a group? That might help.

Thank you for telling me about 10 people you know who are in worse positions than me. Nothing pulls one out of depression faster than knowing things can get worse. Make sure to use lots of shame and guilt to hammer that point home. People with depression and mental illness are known for having large amounts of self esteem. Good idea pointing those faults out to bring us all back down to Earth.

Clearly, I choose to struggle with food, sleep, chores, work, socializing, and productivity. All because I want to annoy and inconvenience those around me. I’m a very selfish person as I wake up every day and decide “I’m going to be sad today. Again.”

Actually, I’m sorry I’m not sorry at all.

I’m sorry if me speaking up, speaking out, and asking for help is uncomfortable for you. I’m sorry if its frustrating you or inconvenient for you. I know I’m supposed to suffer in silence out of respect for your comfort level and desired ignorance.

Wait, no I’m not. Not sorry at all. My job isn’t to make you feel good about the world. Your happiness and level of comfort are not my responsibility. Stop trying to make it so. I will not apologize if my depression makes you feel uncomfortable.

Requests that I just be happy, just be fun, smile more, and make others comfortable is ridiculous. I’m going to admit when I’m struggling and need help until everyone can start thinking about how we can help people, instead of how we can try to convince people they should be fine – then hope they hide their pain.