let our faith move the mountains
as we fall at your feet & worship you
let our lives be filled with passion
as we try to make it through
this weary life
let our hearts be filled with laughter
as we seek your face & follow you
let our lives be filled with love, just like yours
as we surrender to your will
make me like you, oh Lord
help me see like you
and love like you
make me like you, oh Lord
help me speak like you
Several years ago my husband, Chris, and I were told we would never have biological children. That’s a long story….(a future blog entry) Then we were blessed by foster care, adopted our son, Nathan; my miracle boy. We had a foster daughter, Raechell, and her son, Izaiah, whom we love completely. And then we found out I was pregnant with our daughter, Annabella. God was blessing us with four miracles. After all the waiting and praying… it was finally happening; our little family was growing.
Two weeks after my daughter was born via C-section I began to hemorrhage. I remember, vividly, sitting in the bathroom trying to weep quietly, afraid of waking up my newborn daughter. The pain in my back and abdomen were excruciating. I was exhausted. After all it was 2 AM. I was confused. I couldn’t figure out what was happening. I cried out for my husband, who came rushing into what looked like a murder scene in our bathroom. He immediately went into emergency mode. He packed up the diaper bag and was able get our newborn baby into her car seat without waking her. Raechell was asked to watch the other kids in the house, who were all still asleep. Chris carried me and the baby to the van, and we sped off to the hospital.
By the time we arrived at the hospital I had lost a lot of blood, and was still hemorrhaging. At this point things get a little foggy. My memories are shrouded in a white light. I remember specific moments, but not the entire event. I recall the doctors (3 of them) coming into my room to perform a checkup. My mom and dad arrived looking calm, but frazzled. I was laying on a gurney, crying out from the pain and reaching for my mom. My body was convulsing uncontrollably. I was shaking so badly that my husband had to hold me down, so the doctors could perform their checkup. My mouth was dry, my back was arched from the pain and my head was spinning. I could hear my parents talking about how pale I looked, “you can’t even tell she has freckles.” I was sweating, and freezing. My mom kept stroking my hair and my arms, telling me everything was going to be ok, and whispering prayers. My dad sat next to my bed with one hand on my leg, praying silently, his face in his other hand. My poor husband was pacing the room, asking every question he could think of. I could tell he was in panic mode. Annabella slept in her car seat.
It took the doctors very little time to decide something was seriously wrong and that I would need emergency surgery. I clearly remember the looks on their faces. I remember thinking “Oh God! It’s bad.”
As they were wheeling me out of the room I began rambling off my To-Do list for the day: “I can’t have surgery. How is Raechell going to get to school? Rae can’t miss class. How will everyone get where they’re supposed to be if I don’t take them? I left laundry in the washer. I was going to clean the house today. What about the baby? How is she going to eat? Who’s going to take care of her? She needs to be fed. It’s about that time. Nathan needs help on his project. It’s due Monday. The materials are in the van…..” My mom and dad were weeping through their smiles, trying to look brave. My mom was trying to reassure me, “Everything will be ok. Don’t worry about all that right now. We got it covered.” I turned to look at my husband. His eyes were huge. He looked frantic. My heart ached for him. I tried muttering how much I loved him and tried to tell him that I would be fine, but no sound would come out. He kissed me on the forehead, told me he loved me and they whisked me away.
By the time I arrived in the pre-op room I wasn’t able to make a coherent sentence. I tried asking the nurses questions. My mumbling was . I tried telling the nurse I wasn’t in pain anymore so we don’t need to have surgery, but then realized I was still convulsing uncontrollably. My brain was all fog. I could see the clock on the wall and the white ceiling. It was so cold. My mind was racing… “I can’t die… my husband won’t be able to handle it…please God!… with a newborn baby… and the kids…. he can’t handle it… what will happen to them?… But if this is it, I’m ready to go.”… and then… nothing.
My emergency surgery, Dilation and Curettage (D&C), was supposed to be 45 minutes. It turned into 4 hours! My husband, mother and father sat in a waiting room for 4 hours, waiting. No one ever came out to give them an update. Not once!
I’m not exactly sure how long I was gone. Seconds, maybe minutes. However, I coded and paddles were used. The words “very rare complication” were used when the doctors explained I needed a complete transfusion. They estimated that I lost about 3 pints of blood before I arrived at the hospital, and another 4 pints during the surgery. The human body only holds 10 pints (or units). I was classified a Class IV Hemorrhage: a loss of 40% or greater and is considered the maximum amount of blood that an adult can lose before the body can no longer compensate. The body can no longer keep up with the blood loss and the person is in serious trouble. Without very fast help the person will die. And I did.
But, thank you, Jesus, I did not stay dead!
I spent several days in the hospital and eventually went home. However, I was right back in the hospital two weeks later, hemorrhaging again. I was diagnosed with placenta accreta.
As a result, a decision was made for me. I had a partial hysterectomy. Ultimately the decision was the best choice for my health; although it took me a long time to see it that way. At that time, I would have done, said, sacrificed anything to maintain the ability to have more children. However, the doctor and my husband thought it would be best if I had a hysterectomy.
The following two years would be the two hardest years of our marriage and my life. The toll that the medical procedures (3 surgeries in 4 weeks: C-section, D&C, partial hysterectomy), the hemorrhaging, the complete transfusion that I had to have done; all of that damaged my body, my spirit, my heart, my mind, my faith and my marriage. It changed me forever. I spent two years trying not to be bitter and angry, and failed miserably. I kept replaying it in my mind: If only I had gone to the hospital sooner. If only I had been coherent enough to make medical decisions for myself. If only… If only… There had to be another way.
I went to counseling, took anti-depressants, anti-anxiety pills, and sleep aids. (all prescribed) I wrote songs about depression and finding God in the midst of pain. I journaled, a lot. I questioned God. I questioned my husband. I questioned myself. My faith was tested. I doubted everything and everyone. Our marriage endured a brutal time. The important thing to keep in mind is that we went though it, together. We made it to the other side. Neither one of us left or “checked out”, physically or mentally. My wonderful husband persevered through my anger, and continued to love me, support me. He never stopped loving me. He stood by my side. Grieved with me. Loved me. Never left.
Today, and every day, I am grateful. God’s endless mercies, patience and love for me still amaze me. He blessed me with my husband and all of my children. They are all my miracles, my blessings, my life. God used the circumstances surrounding the birth of my youngest child to change me forever; He taught me through dying that life is fragile and valuable. I will not take it for granted.
Perhaps I’m alone in this feeling; so overwhelmed by all of life’s pressures that have gradually stacked up, one right on top of the other, that I begin to crack a little. Each situation more confounding than the last, the load becomes unbearable and I feel like I’ll burst at the seams. I suspect I’m not alone. But, too often I feel alone. Carrying the burdens of life on my scrawny shoulders, trying to “hold it together”, and failing miserably. My husband will be the first to tell you that I take on too much, I worry too much, and I allow it to affect me too much. He’s right. But, ‘shhhhh’ don’t tell him. I will never concede!
The truth is I get stressed. Really stressed. One way I keep my sanity intact is to journal. (and coffee) A journal is a very intimate, private, detailed attempt at getting one’s feelings and thoughts out on paper. I’m told that journaling can be very beneficial. Long story short, writing out your thoughts can clarify your thoughts and feelings, you’ll get to know yourself better, reduce stress, solve problems more effectively, resolve disagreements with others, and a few more.
I’m guessing at one point in your life someone, probably a counselor, pastor or friend, has recommended that you write your thoughts out, or start a journal. You probably thought, “Great. One more thing to do. Let me just add that to the laundry list of stressors in my life”. Or, if you’re like me, I don’t want anyone to stumble across my journal (the keeper of my darkest thoughts)…it would be too humiliating. However, I’ve found that ‘getting it out’ is incredibly beneficial for me, my family, my marriage and my ministry. I find that if I don’t ‘get it out’ on paper, it comes out of my mouth, and often at the most inopportune times. I’ve also been told that I wear my emotions on my face. (I suffer from Resting Hostile Face) So, there’s no denying how frustrated I am at the world. All you have to do is look at me.
I wear many hats in my life: wife, mother, minister, singer, song writer, author, speaker. My life gets incredibly stressful. Dealing with people can often lead to a psychological crack in the armor, metaphorically speaking, and a mental breakdown, literally speaking. It’s important to take care of yourself, regardless of what hats you wear. As a woman I feel a great need to make sure everything and everyone is taken care of, and it’s all running smoothly. If it’s not, I take this as a personal failure and do everything in my power to FIX it. Of course, I know that I can’t fix everything. Blah, Blah, Blah. The logical part of my brain knows the limitations set on me by my humanity. But, my emotional side says “Go all in. Never Die. Never Surrender. Do whatever it takes. Sacrifice yourself for the good of all.” I know it sounds manic, but it makes sense to me. Besides, you’ve never experienced this, right?
I’m about to do something incredibly dangerous, taboo, social media suicide: I’m going to share an excerpt from my personal journal. I’m hoping that you’ll have some mercy on me. Nobody is perfect. We all have doubt. We all falter. This was a bad day for me. The purpose in sharing this very personal insight into my life is not to get attention, pity or prayers (although prayers would be appreciated), but to shed some light on the inner thoughts of an overstressed, manic, slightly deranged mother doing her best to hold it together when her world is caving in around her. And to show you…you are not alone.
April 24, 2015
I am incredibly distracted. I’m trying to listen to the speaker, but my mind is racing. The stress that waits for me at home is in the forefront of my mind. All I can think about is home…It’s all screwed up…Why me? I’m tired. I hate this. Everything is going wrong. Why can’t anything go right? How do I fix this? My poor family. This sucks.
Why is it so hard? I’m trying to be okay. “Put a smile on, Selena, people are looking to you. You’re not allowed to give up. Too many people are relying on you. If you take a break, the whole thing will fall apart and you’ll have to step in and fix it all, again. Just pretend. You’re ok. Don’t stop. Keep going. It’s all up to you. If you fail it will all collapse. Everything you’ve done, all your work, all your time, everything, will be for nothing.”
I hate this. What a waste. Where is God’s glory in all of this? I’m trying to have faith and trust that everything will work out for good. But, it’s too hard. It’s too big. It’s outside my control. My life is too complicated. My thoughts are too irrational, hateful, full of anger and bitterness. How can any of this be beneficial?
I can feel the pain in my head and heart so vividly. It’s like a wave of hot water swashing back and forth, creating confusion, anger, nausea and irreparable suffering. The wave of emotions rises up, but I hold back the tears. I’m supposed to be strong. A pillar for others to lean on and look up to; and pillars don’t waver. They don’t fall. They don’t get a day off. They are required to stand, regardless of how they feel. No weakness allowed. And certainly no tears.
So, what am I to do?
I’ll stand tall, with a smile.
I’ll say, “You can lean on me.”
I’ll tremble from the pain and hurts.
But I will not fall.
And I will not cry.
Again, you are not alone. If you’re feeling overstressed, manic, slightly deranged, it’s ok. We have all been there at one point. Ask for help. There’s no shame in admitting that the ideal life you’ve created in your head doesn’t exist and you need help trying to hold it together. If it’s already shattered, ask for help in putting it back together. Do not try to carry the burden on your own. Don’t try to be The Fixer in everyone’s life. You know who you are…..”I’m the fixer in the family. I’m the one who fixes everything”. Don’t. Open up and be honest with yourself. You can’t do everything for everyone. Even though you desire to be that person, you can’t. Seek help. Look to God for the strength, guidance, peace and joy you need, and ask Him to bring people into your life that can help you carry the load. It will not get better over night. It will not be easy. It will be hard. It will require prayer and sacrifice. You will have to be a warrior for your family, fighting the good fight day and night. But, I promise you this: it will be okay and you do not have to do it alone.
Any time you travel on an airplane, the flight attendants announce that if the oxygen masks drop down, you should first put on your own mask, and ‘then assist small children.’ This is good parenting advice for life in general. Yes, our children have many needs that need to be met, and even more desires they would like you to fulfill. But in order to have the energy to care for them, you need to make sure that you’re also taking care of yourself! Take a few whiffs of parenting oxygen now and then, and it will help to rejuvenate you.
Here are some tips for what to do when you’re “running on empty.”
Ideas for meeting your physical needs:
1. Exercise, on your own and as a family.
I’ll be honest, as soon as I hear the word “exercise” it causes an automatic physical and mental reaction….”ugh”. I immediately feel weak and ill. However, I logically know that there are several benefits to exercising daily. Now, I just have to convince my brain and body.
2. Sleep (as much as you can), and nap when your child naps. I used to feel guilty when I needed a nap. Now I try to rest as much as possible.
3. Eat right: Food affects mood, so try to cut down on sugars and processed foods. Easier said than done. And DRINK WATER! This is another thing I am terrible at doing. I am basically dehydrated all the time. I do not like water. I have to put lemon juice or some other kind of flavor enhancer to drink water. However, there are so many health benefits to drinking large amounts of water.
4. Get or give a massage. I’m totally okay with receiving a massage. I could do this one EVERY day.
5. Cuddle, kiss, or make love with your spouse. I’m sure my husband will be highlighting this one and making me read my own article to remind me of how brilliant I am. ;-)
6. Take a hot shower, or a long bath (add a little lavender oil to increase relaxation).
7. Have a cup of chamomile tea or warm milk. (or hot chocolate with marshmallows!)
8. Go for a long walk outdoors – on your own, or with your child in a sling or stroller.
Ideas for meeting your emotional and social needs:
1. Spend time with friends. (These are people you actually like.) This will be difficult for people like me who would rather hide in our house and pull the shades. But, healthy frienships can alleviate stress and create happy memories.
2. Spend time alone each day. Even 15 minutes can make a huge difference.
3. Prioritize the activities that make you happy. For instance, I write! I can see the puzzled look on your face right now. I also write music, lyrics, play bass, sing. My newest musical project allows me to express myself and gives me a healthy outlet.
4. Be creative. This goes along with #3 for me, but can also include painting, drawing, coloring….anything that involves creating.
5. Be flexible about social activities you can work around your child’s needs. Do not overbook yourself. Learn to say NO. (Good luck!)
6. Allow yourself to cry. You are not weak. Sometimes it’s ok to “let it out”.
7. Find things that make you laugh. I LOVE NETFLIX! Endless movie selections.
8. Find a way to have a weekly date with your partner. This is extremely important. The bond you create and maintain with your spouse will carry you throught the darkest and brightest days of your life.
9. Say no to extra responsibilities. (I’ll have to practice this one.) SEE #5
Ideas for meeting intellectual needs:
1. Take your child to the library, but pick up something for yourself while you’re there… (and then read it).
2. Listen to radio programs, audio books, or podcasts from the web while you drive, or while you work around the house. I’ve found free college coursework on Coursera.com, and I get a lot of use out of my Audible.com account.
3. If your child is doing an art project, sit down and create your own art! I am currently homeschooling my preschooler and so we do projects together nearly every day.
4. Write – stories, a blog, a personal journal – get your thoughts out on paper.
5. Identify a project that would be challenging and rewarding and TACKLE IT!
6. Return to old hobbies you may not have pursued since baby’s birth.
Ideas for meeting spiritual needs:
1. Go to religious services. Find a church where you feel connected, encouraged, challenged and lifted up. My home church is like my family.
2. Pray each morning, or each evening. Prayer is proven to do several things, including improve your attitude, offer hope, bringing you closer to God and so much more!
3. Do volunteer work or help out others spontaneously. Keep in mind you’re a finite person with finite time and resources, and that you shouldn’t take on too many responsibilities.
4. Spend time outdoors. Living in Colorado is a blessing!
5. Write in a journal – reflect on your new life.
6. Look for the blessings in your life. You will find what you focus on.
7. Contribute to causes you believe in. Helping others is incredibly important to the health of your mind and body.
Every morning when your alarm goes off, or shortly after your child wakes you, spend one minute in bed deciding what you are going to do for yourself that day. Start small – promise yourself just 15 minutes a day. You’ll soon see the rewards (for yourself, and your family) of a little bit of “me time.”
A Busy Mom
“Everyone is trying to accomplish something big, not realizing that life is made up of little things.”- Frank A. Clark
My husband and I started dating 16 years ago today! Some couples don’t celebrate this day, but we have it down to the time. Our first date immediately followed the Olivet Nazarene University Homecoming football game. We met in my dorm room, watched Ghost and nervously exchanged glances at each other. I lived in a ‘girls only’ dormitory and the boys were supposed to be OUT by 6:00 pm that day. The movie ran a little long (oops). As Chris pulled his bulky green winter coat on I reached up to give him a hug, and he went for it! He gave me the sloppiest kiss. It was truly romantic. (swoon) And so our first kiss occurred on November 7, 1998, at 6:30 pm. (Fun Fact: Chris received a $200 fine from the university, because he broke the rules. LOL)
One of the reasons we celebrate this special (small) moment is because we believe in FOREVER, and any moment that has led to so many memories (our life together, the adoption of our son, the birth of our daughter) is worth celebrating!
Have you ever been so completely overwhelmed by a situation it’s as if you’re drowning in a sea of regret. Have you ever been to the point where you’re asking yourself “what if?”, or dreaming about “if only I had done things like differently”. Or perhaps you’ve been so completely overwhelmed by a situation that you became numb; not caring one way or another how it turned out, as long as you didn’t have to feel anymore? I’ve been there. I’m sure you have too. Maybe you’re there right now.
Last week I had a close friend contact me in regards to their marriage. They made the following statements:
“I don’t feel special.”
“I don’t understand why I come back.”
“I am miserable again.”
“They cry when we fight….but I feel no remorse.”
“I feel so empty.”
Now, keep in mind I personally know this couple. I have a vested interest in their lives, and in their happiness. However, regardless of your situation, the thing/relationship/addiction/overwhelming obstacle that makes you feel regret or emptiness, I believe the advice is beneficial.
Here’s part of my response:
Let me tell you what I do in a difficult situation: I try my best, in every situation to…
1. Dwell upon the word of God. Even Jesus had to talk to His Father before any choice was made, or any action could be done.
“By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” John 5:30
“Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” John 5:19
“Jesus therefore said, ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.'” (John 8:28).
When facing a really hard time in my life (of which I have had many) I dwell in the Word. I try to read everything I can that would be relevant to my situation….not just what I to hear from God’s word, but what He wants to me to hear.
2. I pray. I diligently seek the wisdom of God. I pray before I read my Bible, while I read my Bible, after I read my Bible. I try to pray constantly. (I fail miserably at this….miserably.) I often get in the way. I think I truly desire what God wants for me, but in the midst of my pain I also want Him to give me what I want. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. I have learned time and time again that God works in His own way, in His own time.
“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” Psalm 145:18
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” Romans 8:26
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6
“Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.” 1 Chronicles 16:11
3. I trust. I try to wait patiently for God to reveal Himself to me and what He has planned for my life. This is excruciatingly painful for me. I don’t trust easily. And I am one of the most impatient people you will ever know. I want things in my time and the way I see fit. I think I know how it should be, and I will attempt to manipulate a situation so that it goes “my way”. Trust is incredibly hard for me. I’m sure it’s hard for you too. People fail us all the time. Constantly. But, God is faithful. He never fails. He is the one true constant in my life, and yours. It’s time to start trusting Him again.
“For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love. By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.” Psalm 33:4-6
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5&6
4. I seek good (godly) council. It’s okay to ask for help. You came to me with a BIG question (and I hope I’m helping). Too many people (especially men) have a tendency to go into self-preservation mode, hide, or try the “do-it-yourself” way. Very few people seek help. And by “help” I mean someone who can actually provide sound, effective advice. My dad always says, “don’t ask your broke buddy how to manage your money”, because obviously THAT person doesn’t know what they’re doing. So, if your having car trouble…seek a good mechanic. If you need weight loss advice, ask your personal trainer, or a friend that is physically fit. Do not ask the YO-YO dieter in the family. And, if you’re having marriage trouble…..seek out a trusted, married couple, and, or better yet, a marriage counselor. Professional help DOES work. It’s OKAY to seek the advice of people who are happily married, and people who are educated, certified counselors. As a matter of fact, when it gets really bad you should probably seek the professional help before it’s too late. (Side note: I am not a professional. However, I have taken many courses and have given advice to a slew of people for over the last 15 years. I have also been happily married for over a decade and still going strong. So, I’m not a professional, but I am an “expert” by way of experience. LOL)
“Plans are established by seeking advice; so if you wage war, obtain guidance.” Proverbs 20:18
“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22
“The godly offer good counsel; they know what is right from wrong. They fill their hearts with God’s law, so they will never slip from his path.” Proverbs 37: 30-31
“A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,” Proverbs 1:5
In my opinion, (remember this comes from the depths of my love for you and your spouse) you should seek professional counseling. You should each attend individualized therapy, and you should attend marriage counseling together. You should also find a support system. Family, friends, a good church, and/or a 12 step program….a place where you can plug in, feel accepted, loved, cared for and supported, lifted up, encouraged. “No man is an island.” You will not be able to traverse this on your own. I think you’ve already discovered how difficult it is to “fix it” on your own.
You will be in my prayers this week.
You are not alone.
Earlier this week I had a Facebook friend private message me one of the toughest questions I’ve ever faced: What does true love feel like? I was actually taken aback by the question, because, 1) it came out of the blue and, 2) because I’ve never had to answer that question. I have answered other difficult questions…questions about God, Jesus, my faith, my family. But, never about how love “feels”. After several minutes of wracking my brain I started to think about the love in my life, and this was my response:
“Hmmmmm…..tough question. LOL. I’m not sure I can tell you what it “feels” like, but I can tell you what true love looks like for me.
True love is selfless, self-sacrificing. True love follows the model of Christ…. forgiveness, mercy, and it’s not about me…. it’s about Jesus first, then others and then me.
In a relationship, the only way to model true love is to have your priorities in order (Jesus, Others, You), and have your heart and mind in the right place. It’s a commitment; one you make every day. It’s not a once and done deal. I have to choose to commit every day, in every relationship.
For me, true love is having a husband, who doesn’t like heavy metal or rock music, take you to a live show, spend money on merchandise, stay out way too late…. just because he knows I love it. It’s when I go out of my way to do his laundry…. and when I encourage him in his endeavors and dreams…. even if it will take me outside my comfort zone, or interrupt my day. True love is knowing, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that my spouse loves me, likes me, (love and like are different LOL) supports me, (in my ministry, my music, my dreams) cares for me, provides for me (hates his job and goes anyway), is a wonderful father to our kids, makes time for me, etc.
I guess, in a nutshell, true love ‘feels’ like I’m special and cherished by someone.
I hope that helps.”