Celebrate Recovery, Encouragement, Family, My Story, Uncategorized

Suicide still hurts

dadToday is an anniversary I wish I didn’t have to remember.  It has been 3 years since I walked up to my dads door, waited for him to answer, but he never did.  3 years since my sweet husband bravely walked inside to find him.  3 years since he walked outside to tell me the heartbreaking news.  “He’s gone.  He took his life.”

It is still crushing to even think about it all.  To remember the pain of the day and wonder what happened.  Suicide leaves questions that will never be answered.  I can’t wrap my mind around it.  I am someone who always looks for answers.  I want to understand everything.  But this one, no matter how much information I seek, I will never fully understand it.

Suicide leaves behind so much.  It leaves pain and what if’s for all of those left here.  It leaves grief and tears.  Sometimes it leaves anger, hurt, or frustration.  3 years later, and although I have done so much healing, there is still healing to be done.  I don’t get anxiety when I drive past the community where he lived any more.  I don’t cry about my dads death every day.  But there are days that the grief just comes out of no where.  Days where I am just sad he isn’t here.

This topic is still something that not everyone is comfortable talking about, but it is one we need to talk about.  I have learned of 2 suicides this week and even though I din’t know either person, I have mourned over them.  My heart is broken for them.  For the pain they were in.  For the hurt they felt.  For the fight they fought.  My heart hurst for the their friends and family as they wrestle with all of the emotions that come with suicide.  My prayers for them are pleas with God to hold them together as they process.

Friends, our country needs support, encouragement and love for those who are hurting.  Depression is real.  Emotional pain is real.  Lets search our hearts and find compassion to see others.  To really see them.  We are all human and we all struggle!  If your struggles don’t look like someone else’s, thank God, then ask Him to help guide you as you reach out to those in your life who you know are hurting.

Be a friend.  Ask questions.  Offer your shoulder to cry on.  Don’t judge.  Just love.

And if you need a friend, let me know.  If you are looking for community to love you through your pain, Celebrate Recovery is the most incredible place to find people who truly love and accept folks just as they are!  I would love to help connect you!

1-800-273-8255 is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.  Call them if you need them.

Other posts on this topic:

My Truths about Suicide & Depression

When God Fulfills His Promises

Family, home sweet home, My Story, Uncategorized

Home Sweet Home: part 1

We have just gotten started with our house and we already get lots of questions!  If you haven’t ever built a house the details are probably pretty foreign.  I have decided to blog the process in sections so those curious minds can see and understand a little more and so I can look back at our timeline!

Building a house is something that we have been dreaming about for a long time.  We have been looking for land and trying to find that perfect place to call home.  In May we made an offer on what is now our beautiful land.

The first week of July we closed on that land!

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The first thing that had to be done was pick a building site and start clearing and getting the pad ready. This was happening around the end of July and first of August.  After this the footings were dug and poured. Joel did all of this with help from friends and family. fullsizerender

Then we had to take a small break to have a baby!  We welcomed baby #5 on August 9, 2016img_2653

Block work was done on August 19th and since we had just had a new baby Joel decided to contract out the block work so this was the first part in the building process that Joel didn’t do himself. fullsizerender-1

Next there is subfloor and again Joel did this himself with the help of some amazing friends! This was happening at the end of August.  img_3230

First week of September the decking was put on.  Once again, friends and family helped Joel knock this out! img_3668

Here comes everyones favorite part!  The framing!  It goes up fast, (1 week) and so everyone suddenly sees the shape of a house and it feels like things are going to be happening quick.  Good news is, it is another step done, bad news is, you won’t see a ton of changes in the next few steps! This first picture is day 1 of framing.img_3713

I can’t remember if this is day 2 or 3 img_3772

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Day 6 framing is done! We did contract out the framing and if you need a framer let  us know and we will send a great one your way! This gets us current in construction because this happened today! img_4030

Joel up in the rafters!img_4028

Joel and I in the window that will be in the dinning room. img_4027

Harvey in his room.  He gets so excited to go in there and tells anyone who will listen that it is his room!img_4026img_4025

The girls in their room.  All 3 girls will share a room at the request of Jade.  Don’t worry, they have a massive closet! img_4024

Kamden reluctantly posing in his window.  He has helped with every step of this house so far.  I am so proud of the work he has put into it! img_4023

That is it so far!  We have really just gotten started and have a long way to go but we are excited to have the bones of the house!  Joel works so hard everyday doing something, even if it isn’t noticeable.  There is always something to be done at a construction site and when you are building yourself you have to be willing to do all the little things (that can become big things) like clean up! This house is being built with love labor for sure!

Encouragement, Family, My Story

The Perfection Infection

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No more perfect Mom, Chapter 1 (These are my thoughts on the book “No More Perfect Mom by Jill Savage” along with quotes from the book)

I was introduced to this book after doing a 7 day devotional on YouVersion (bible app).  I loved every day of the devotional and wanted more when the 7 days was over and that is when I discovered there was a book.  The more I researched the book the more I knew I needed it and felt it was so timely for this season in my life.

Chapter 1, The Perfection Infection, hit home with me.  What I found was, a lot of what she was saying I already knew, but still struggle with.  I know that I can’t compare my life to ANYTHING I see on social media, but I still do it.  I know the “highlight reel vs. blooper reel” thing.  BUT, knowing doesn’t always make it easier.  It makes me more aware but it doesn’t solve the problem.  I am still tempted (and fall into the trap often) to compare myself- my appearance, my kids, my house, my craftiness, my pictures, and so on, to everyone else’s.  Social media really makes that easy doesn’t it?  I know we all wear masks that hide what we don’t want others to see and I know we generally only let out the pretty parts.

But, then there were a few things I had to break out my highlighter for and really think about.  “The thing about masks is that they never bring us closer to who we were created to be. Masks always make shallow what God has intended to be deep.”  This took me back and I had to stop there and read it again.  Wow- I don’t know that I have ever viewed it in that light.  She goes on to list Friendships, Marriages, Families, and Churches.  What would happen if all of those relationships were deep, like God intended them to be instead of sheltered and shadowed by the masks that we put on?  I can only imagine!

When she puts it in the context of “me” I really had to stop again and contemplate all I had read.  Cheating myself in my relationships by wearing a mask?  We live in a world that not only makes wearing a mask easy, but also makes it very normal.  It is easy to say “Oh I am fine, thank you!” and move on when really we are hurting on the inside.  For me, I fear that others don’t really want to hear what I have to say or that they really won’t care how I am doing, so I politely respond and leave it at that. But masks hide the truth.  They allow us to stay alone in our pain, frustration, sadness, brokenness, sorrow. Wearing a mask keeps us from having the opportunity to be encouraged, loved, and held up by one another.  It also keeps us from sharing our story with someone who may need to hear it.  Who may be feeling just like we are but they feel so alone.  “Not only that, but wearing masks breeds judgment.  It keeps us judging ourselves and others instead of living in and loving through grace” That line right there- the judgment that comes from wearing a mask is real.  I realize I do this and it makes me sad to think about.  I wear a mask to protect myself but wearing that mask causes me to look at others different.  That mask is a lie, and as long as I am wearing it I cant see the heart of anyone else.

Our world screams YOU MUST BE PERFECT IN EVERY WAY.  I know I strive for it even though I don’t like to admit it and I am getting better at letting some areas of my life be just fine wherever they are.  What happens when we let what others have, become who we think we should be? We may become discontent with our real lives. “Most of the time we don’t even realize that is what we are doing. It’s a subtle erosion of our satisfaction.  If we don’t recognize it, the discontentment can turn into disappointment, and then the disappointment can eventually turn into disillusionment.”  I have found myself in that place before.  Where it seems like all I am ever saying is “I wish….. my house was, my kids were, my marriage was” Instead of looking at all the things I do have, I end up focused on the disappointments.  There is no happiness in this. 

I don’t have anything figured out but one thing I do know is we are not alone.  Being a mom is hard.  There are days that I say more then once “I don’t think I can do this any more”.  I dream of being on the beach alone often.  My kids don’t always do what they are suppose to.  I yell at them and then have to apologize.  There are times when I am so tired I can’t seem to function properly and I feel so guilty that I can’t shake the exhaustion.  I have lost it over missing shoes, sippy cups, brushing teeth, and so many other things that seem so silly.  My house does not stay clean and I can’t seem to keep it organized like I use to.  The laundry falls behind.  I haven’t successfully meal planned in months or gone to the grocery store with a solid list. We eat out more then we should because I fail to plan.  But I bet that I am not alone.  Moms- we need each other.  We need to be able to say “I am having a horrible day” and not fear judgment.  We need to be able to stick together.  To love each other with grace.

I am so excited about this book!  The next Chapter is The Antidote.  THANK YOU for that, because I need it!  We are reading a chapter a week over the summer, so feel free to grab a copy and join us! 

Cleft Lip, Family, My Story

Harvey, 365 days later

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Harvey is ONE! I never shared his birth story, even though I typed it out a few weeks after he was born so I have decided to share it now!

DSC_1930ccMarch 31, 2014…. It is Kamden’s birthday!  I woke up feeling a little like labor was in the air.  But I wasn’t really sure.  I had been in pain for weeks and sweet baby boys position had just made me miserable.  I had an appointment that morning.  I found out at the appointment I was progressing, and was in between a 3-4 and 50% thinned. (sorry for all of you who that is way too much info for, but this a child birth post).

I left and went to pick up a few last minute birthday gifts for Kam.  Then I ran to Walmart and picked up a few groceries.  By the time I got to the house to eat lunch with the fam, I told Joel I  was really thinking I might go into labor that day.  He reminded me that I had all the others at 38 weeks and 2 days, and waiting until Friday (it was Monday) was much better for his schedule.  Of course we both laughed at that, knowing we don’t have any control. 

I had already been praying that I could wait until AFTER Kamden’s birthday.  I did not want to miss his day.  I was able to go to dinner and Goody’s for dessert.  I was having a few contractions throughout the evening but they were not consistent however by 8:45 when we were at Goody’s they were pretty strong.  When we got home we got the kids ready for bed and I went ahead and made sure all the bags were ready.  By 11:00 I laid down hoping that I could just sleep.  I had contractions 10  min apart for an hour and decided I should wake Joel up.  By the time he was awake enough to know what was going on, my contractions were now 3 minutes apart and we both knew we had to hurry!  We got to the hospital at about 1:00am (had to wait for someone to get here, then we had to drive to the hospital)

It was a very rushed process with lots of skipped procedure (like being admitted before stuff starts happening) But I was between an 8 and 9.  They called my doctor and by the time he got there I was ready to have a baby!  We will skip all the fun stuff, and jump ahead to 2:20am, when this perfect little boy arrived!  He was so gorgeous and wonderful!  Funny how all the chaos disappears and you just fall madly in love with this tiny baby they just laid on your chest!  He came into this world 2 hours after his big brothers birthday ended, on April fools day!  We didn’t text too many people at 2am but I just knew when we told people the next day they would think it was a joke!  We sent photo proof with our text the next morning! 

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For those of you who may not know, Harvey was born with a incomplete unilateral cleft lip and a notch in his gum line.  He had surgery July 2014 to repair his lip.  He was so incredibly perfect before and I love looking at all of these pictures of him before his surgery!  He is just as perfect now though and I kind of feel blessed he has two smiles!  Melts my heart!

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This boy is so funny!  He loves to play with his big brother and sisters!  Everyone spoils him rotten though!  He is not walking yet, but crawling and climbing on everything he can get to.  He has not been a big fan of baby food, table food, bottle OR sippy cup (mom is his favorite!) but he is finally coming around to table food as long as we let him feed himself.  He loves pizza, peanutbutter sandwiches, and ice cream. He is obviously a health nut!

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I have said it so many times over the last year, but this boy has taught me SO much about life!  I don’t know if I will ever be able to express all of the things he has helped me to see.  All I know today, is that I am honored to be his mommy.  To watch him grow and learn.  To be his teacher and guide through life.  I look forward to holding his hand as he walks, helping him memorize scripture and showing him what it means to love Jesus.

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My prayers are big for this little guy.  I pray God gives me all the strength and wisdom I need to be the best mommy I can be for him.  That he knows our love for him always and knows he came into this world perfect in our eyes.  I pray that he knows Jesus deeply and knows how loved he is by Him.

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I’m ending it with this picture, because right now, he points at everything and says “dat” but it is also a good reminder that he is really ONE!  Look how smart he is, holding up one finger- hehehe!

Encouragement, My Story, Uncategorized

The Social Media Snare

socialmediasnareI open up my Instagram app and start scrolling.  I see some cute kiddo’s, some clothes I would love to buy, then I try to quickly pass up this gorgeous photo of a perfect house.  It is clean and decorated so well.  I stare for a minute and suddenly I feel less happy with my house.  There are toys everywhere.  I just mopped 2 hours ago but some how there is mud or sticky juice all over it.  I fluffed the couch pillows and straightened the blankets but one of my kids came in and decided it looked more like a trampoline.  I had actually given up on my house looking together during the day….. until I saw that post on IG.

I was content with my life until I saw that person I follow on IG has started a new campaign to do something awesome! Now suddenly my life feels like it needs more of something.  I thought I was a good mom yesterday, but today I find myself feeling like we don’t do enough fun stuff.  My husband brought me a magazine home and I thought it was the sweetest thing, but then I saw that someone else’s husband surprised them with a weekend getaway full of planned surprises and gifts.  I read my devotional and wanted to share some inspiration, but now after reading someone elses post, mine doesn’t seem worthy any more.

Suddenly I am wondering why everyone else’s pictures look so much better then mine and I have decided that it is probably because they have more natural light in every room of their house.  I start plotting a way to take all the sheetrock out and replace it with windows so I can always have pretty light. I decide more windows is what I need and I will just carry my big girl camera around my neck all day.  Baby on the hip, camera around my neck, more windows.  This MUST be what they do.  Then I see that they are hosting a workshop to tell me all their photography tips and secrets to perfect pictures every time.  I am a photographer for goodness sake, but suddenly I am feeling like I don’t know anything about the subject, or certainly not enough.

The truth is, there is always someone I can compare myself to on social media (and in real life for that matter).  There is always going to be something I see that makes me feel like I should do something different.  I see what others are doing or not doing and I start second guessing myself (I should not be eating gluten, sugar, or any of the other junk I slip up and eat!).  Don’t get me wrong, I think we can easily let others inspire us to do better, but we have to be careful not to let what others are doing dictate what we choose to do.

“I have compared myself to you and felt like I could never measure up” “you really are super mom, really” In the last few weeks I have been told those things.  It honestly didn’t feel great.  I try really hard to be honest with my life and be upfront about my shortcomings and struggles.  I want to be honest because I feel like it is the only way to cultivate true relationships.  Pretending or sugarcoating our lives for social media only complicates things.  BUT, after reflecting on how others view me, I decided to really take a look at my posts.

I love to share and so I share moments or cute pictures that make me happy.  I get all of my IG feed printed in books so I like to make sure my favorites make it into the book.  I post things to encourage others and myself.  I try to post trials and struggles, but I see that I only post the hard things when I am finally at a point to get to the other side of it.  This is hard for me to admit but I have found myself wanting to post just because I think the picture will probably be well liked….. Why do I do that? Compliments feel good and everyone wants people to like their posts.

I’m not perfect or a supermom.  I am real.  I mess up all the time.  I get in ruts and can’t seem to get out. I don’t post all the yuck.  I don’t want to paint a picture of perfection for everyone to see. I allow my own insecurities to run my life most days.  This has become very obvious to me when I look at social media.  I don’t want to post things that make others feel inadequate but I also don’t want to stop sharing my life.  I am trying to find a balance and figure out how to share appropriately for myself.

I have decided to try hard (I’m not perfect so don’t expect this to be either) to post intentionally.  I want to make sure that the heart of the post is good.  That I am not seeking attention through my post.  That I am not fabricating things to make them look better then they are.  I know that I am not responsible for the way others perceive me, but I can be intentional about what and how I post things.  So what if my house is a complete mess in a photo, you may see it any way!  I want to find that balance of being honest and open without being negative and whiney.  I want to post things that bring me joy and at the same time make sure they are real.

I want to encourage you to step away from social media for a minute and evaluate how it makes you feel.  What are your true motives when you post and how do you allow what you are viewing to affect you?  Maybe you are like me and need to take a minute to remember that those who are posting are not perfect, even if they appear to be.  Most of all, to remember no one else is walking in my shoes and no ones journey looks just like mine- so I shouldn’t expect mine to look like theirs either.  I need to be able to focus on being thankful for what I have and where I am currently, and not so focused on what I am not.

Much love sweet friends!

Celebrate Recovery, Encouragement, My Story

Turn on the light

I wanted to do a little bit more explaining about Celebrate Recovery and the journey I have been on since July 2013.

I was stuck.  Stuck in a pattern of unhealthy thoughts and behaviors.  I lived on a roller coaster of emotion.  I was constantly looking for happiness and ever finding it for long.  I had accepted that I had issues years ago.  I knew that I had all this “stuff” I needed to deal with.  I would often tell my husband that maybe I needed to go to counseling.  I held onto a lot of hurt from the past, a childhood that wasn’t perfect and was dysfunctional, an absent father for the majority of my life, along with struggling to let go of mistakes I had made trying to cope with all of that.  I would find myself angry and wanting to blame everyone around me for the way I felt.  If things would have been different then…… If you would act different now……. If we wouldn’t have made that choice.

Struggle.  That is what I felt daily.  I could feel this person I wanted to be always standing in the background.  It was like I knew who God was calling me to be, but I couldn’t figure out why in the world I couldn’t just be her.  I was insecure, never sure of any choice I made and always looking for others approval in my choices because I was not confident in myself alone.  I was always over thinking everything, to the point that I would decide all kinds of things that were not even true!  I would play out situations and decide what people really thought.  I struggle with trusting people to be genuine.  Why would they be nice to me or compliment me?  This thought process lead me to believe that everyone disliked me.  I even did this with my husband.  Nothing he ever said or did was good enough because there was no way I was going to allow myself to believe he really wanted to say and do nice things for me.  I wasn’t sure how to be positive about anything.  I saw EVERYTHING in a negative light.  I struggled to see positive.  After starting CR, I learned I am co-dependent.  Curious what that means?  I am sure it is much more then you think.  Here is a quick link to explain a little more about it.

To sum it up, I was a mess.  When I finally started going to CR, things started to change.  I wanted so badly to get better.  I wanted to be healthy for my family, for myself, and I truly believed that I needed to do this because God was asking me to.  I almost felt an urgency to do it.  The first few months were hard.  I began to realize that although my past and present troubles were very real, that I was making choices every single day.  I was choosing to stay where I was, those people, those situations, they were not making my choices, I was.  It was hard to hear.  It was easier to allow myself to blame all the other stuff.  It was easier to apologize to my husband for the way I behaved, then explain to him why I acted that way, after all he understood that I had issues and loved me any way.  (thank you Joel!) But now, now I am facing a harder truth.  A truth that if I want healing, I have to work for it.  Fight for it.  Choose it.

After about 3 months of going, I really started to see so much change.  It was all gradual, but day by day, I was defeating disfunction, irrational emotions, and turning over my will to God.  I have a sponsor who is so amazing and continues to help me through this process.  She was so great in the beginning to be patient and help me understand all the of steps.  To talk me through each situation as they came up.

I started focusing on myself, and what I needed to do to get my life back.  It is crazy because the more I worked on figuring out my stuff, the more that the other stuff seemed to work out on its own.  When I stopped trying to control and really just relied on God, everything started falling into place.  Being able to be calm and in charge of my reactions was a huge step!  Starting to see positive things all around me was such a joy!  The changes that I see in my marriage are amazing!  Am I a new person?  Yes!  Am I free from all of those “issues”  no, I am not.  I still struggle daily.  It is hard to explain it all.  Most of the time you hear people say they are in recovery from things, you don’t hear them say “I am recovered”  because that is just not the case.  Those struggles become easier to deal with, you learn and grow, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t still struggle sometimes.

CR is like turning on a light in a dark room.  When the light is off, you can’t see anything.  There are obstacles that are in your way and you almost feel helpless trying to navigate around them.  But when you turn the light on, you can see the obstacles clearly.  You know they are there and can see how to move them or get around them safely.  The stuff that is there in the dark, is still there in the light, but now you can safely see it, or in CR terms healthily deal with it.  It is not magic, the light doesn’t change what is there, it just allows you to see if all differently.

I want to encourage anyone who is reading this to decide not to be stuck.  Everyone has hurts, habits, or hangups.  Maybe it is not controlling your entire life, but maybe it is greatly affecting a part of your life.  Maybe you can’t relate to any of the struggles I face, but my prayer is that my transparency will help you to be honest with yourself.  I am so thankful and blessed to have found CR, the community that comes with it, and the healing power of stepping out of denial and turning my will over to Jesus!

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Celebrate Recovery, Encouragement, Family, My Story

I’ve got to start somewhere

I keep struggling with where to start on all of the things I want to share.  I feel like being fully transparent is something God has asked me to do.  I have decided to start today by just sharing a written version of my short video testimony that was played at Momentum Church 2 weeks ago.  I will continue to share my struggles and go deeper into my story, but it is way to much for one post or even 10!  I love music and this song just keeps speaking to me.  Through all of this, I just pray that all the glory is given to God through me sharing my journey.

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6 months ago……

The alarm goes off, I get out of bed, and I try to decide to be happy, but I am not.  I know that I can’t be happy because nothing will go right.  I know that what I planned to do will not happen.  Something will get in the way.  I wanted to have coffee with my husband but he is running late.  I wanted to start school on time but the kids are not cooperating.  I thought we had plenty of time to leave the house and get where we were going without being late.  I just knew I had 2 sticks of butter for this recipe but I only have 1.

Disappointment……. Not only did I anticipate it, I lost it almost every time things were not going well.  Maybe you can relate?  This caused my mood to be ill almost all the time.  I allowed these negative thoughts to take a hold of my day, I allowed this mind set to suck the joy out of my day.  I would loose it over the smallest things.  I would find myself with uncontrollable emotions over things like my kids not doing things as quickly as I would like, not being able to find a shoe, or my child simply having an accident that I needed to clean up.  I found myself constantly feeling guilty for my behavior towards my husband and my children.

How about relationships?   I continuously over evalutated every conversation I had.  I came up with all kinds of reasons why people disliked me.  I would decide that I was unworthy and unwanted.  Then after a period of feeling very hurt, would come anger.  I was angry because I wanted to be loved and felt no one cared about me, and it just wasn’t fair.  So my relationships suffered.  I did this with everyone.  I couldn’t imagine for a second that someone really cared for me or about me.
I knew I had “issues”.  I had known this for years.  I always thought because my issues weren’t BIG that I could handle them.  That prayer, reading my bible, doing devotionals, and going to church were going to be enough to overcome them.  But I was wrong.  I finally gave in, and decided to go to Celebrate Recovery.  It has been the most eye opening choice I have made.  I have begun the healing process.  A process that has been nothing short of amazing, emotional, difficult, and rewarding.  I see a change in me that I didn’t even know was possible!

I have been able to find peace and hope in trusting Jesus with all of my stuff.  Admitting all my faults, and realizing that although hurts from past played a part in a lot of my unhealthy emotional habits, that ultimately it was up to me to be a healthy person.  It is my choice to surrender and overcome.

I have not overcome every issue I have and I know that it will always be a process, but I have found that when I turn my will over daily, I am a new person! I am starting to see a huge change in my relationships.  I am able to be a more loving, understanding, wife mother, and friend. I also see progress with the way I view myself, which is helping me in so many areas of my life.  I see a huge difference in the way I am able to handle stressful situations.  Before now, I was always allowing every stress in my life to consume me and cause me to become angry, upset, and resentful.  Now I am able to stop and see good, even when things are not perfect!

Today, I can honestly say that I do not have any less stress.  In fact, the past few months our family has faced a lot of unexpected stresses.  I feel as though working through these healing steps have prepared me to respond to these stressful situations in a healthy way, rather then allowing my irrational, unhealthy thoughts and reactions to take over.  These steps have taught me a healthy way to process, heal, and honestly just live life!