Thursday, November 9, 2017

BIOPSYCHOSOCIAL

Today I met with a dear friend of mine.  She needed to interview me for one of her graduate classes.   It was practice for her, but it ended up being so much more for me.
She had to write up a biopsychosocial assessment for one of her classes.  Sound scary? Well go ahead and look it up, because yea it kinda was.  I had no clue what it was, I just went to help out a friend and have brunch.  But once we got into it, so much of myself was revealed.  Much of it was stuff I have been thinking about for a while now but had not said out loud.  At one point, I had to take a big drink of coffee to keep my composure and not throw myself on the floor in a sobbing fit.  I mean, people, I know I have issues; but saying it out loud is WOWZA!  I think the thing that shocked me the most was when I told her I couldn't remember when my mom died.  I know my dad died on November 7, 2005.  I know my mom died around Mother's Day, but I can't even remember the year; and it wasn't that long ago.  I told her about my darkest days when I was a young adult and how much healing came after.  I told her how things have been good for so long and then all of the sudden those same past insecurities reared their ugly heads again.  I told her I don't sleep anymore.  And I told her it all started when my mom died, but I don't even know when that was.
She asked me if my mom was my confidant, my support?  YES SHE WAS!  Then it hit me.  I, not only lost my mom, but I lost my biggest fan, my biggest supporter.  The one who knew every single thing about me...I mean every single thing.  She was the one who loved me through my darkest days, the one who loved me through my brightest days, the one who loved me through all of my days.  I miss my mama.  I need my mama.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Love Conquers All

I was talking to one of my best girlfriends the other day.  One who knows me better than most.  We were talking about one of my girls and some things she's dealing with, and she said..."She sounds just like you when we were that age.  How did you get past that?  Was it just with age?"  I said, "You know...I was at a place in my life when I just had given up on so many things.  But God came alongside me and brought this amazing person into my life.  He used Neil to show me I was worth being loved and worthwhile.  He was kind, sweet; and everything was simple with him.  It had been a long time, since someone had treated me with such respect and decency in a romantic relationship.  Eventually I began to see that I was important to someone."  I know that may sound shallow and self absorbed, and maybe I was. But I had been in a dark place for a while, and although I knew my parents loved me and my family and friends loved me; I didn't feel worthy of that love.  I felt like they loved me, because they had to.  When Neil came along, it was different than it had been before.  I didn't recognize it for a while, and I even resisted quite a bit.  When I did see it and allow myself to accept it, it truly changed my life.  God used Neil to rescue me from myself and show me there was something more waiting for me.  I have thanked Him wholeheartedly every single day since then.  I don't always like my husband, sometimes I get angry at him.  Sometimes I get frustrated with him, but it doesn't take long to get past it; because I always always always love him....like I've never loved anyone before.  I'm so grateful for what God has done in my life through bringing Neil into it.  Through the love Neil showed me, I realized that I was worthy of all the love I was given....from my parents, family and friends; and I was able to give it back.  In my life, it's true that love conquers all.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

High School...Wanna Go Back? UH NO!

Someone recently asked me if I would ever go back to the time when I was in high school.   I wanted to laugh in their face, but instead I smiled and calmly but firmly said; "Absolutely not!"  High School....High School....High School.  Man, did I love you.  I made the best friends of my life there, I  was super smart and barely missed the top 10, I was a cheerleader, I had a boyfriend, I had a cool car; and I had a lot of fun.  So why?  Why wouldn't I ever go back to high school?   My life lacked joy, it lacked peace.  There was a lot of good in my high school years, but the latter part of high school and into young adulthood was the darkest time of my life.  I spent most of my high school years with a broken heart longing for something, but I didn't know what it was.  I was shy and self conscience and filled with insecurities.  I was not really ready to move on, but after you graduate; you have to do something.  After high school, I had every intention of going to UT in Austin.  I had been accepted and thought it was a go, and I was ready to get out of town; but my mama thought otherwise.  It wasn't until the very last minute that she told me I couldn't go, and even though I was 18 and a legal adult; I didn't go.  I was mad about it for a long time...in all honestly probably for a good part of my life.  My parents paid for my college, every single penny, so I never said anything to them about this; because you don't bite the hands that feed you.  Instead of Austin, I moved to Arlington and went to UTA.  I lived in apartment by myself for a while until it was time to student teach, and then I had to move back home.  It was too difficult to hold down a job and finish that last semester of school.  My parents probably would have paid for me to continue living alone, but I think I was ready to be home for a while. The 3 of us were very close.  By this time, I had met Neil too; so all my spare time was spent with him which wasn't much. I knew I wanted to buy a house and was about to start a full time career as a teacher....making $19,000/year.  WHOA!  And I was the ripe old age of 22!  I started crawling my way out of the pit I had been in, but it was a process; and it took a while.  For a long time, I thought my mama wouldn't let me go to UT because of the expense, then I thought it was because I was her only child; and she would miss me too much (I guess I was kinda full of myself).  It wasn't until I sent my daughter off to school that I really understood why she said no.  What I didn't realize was that she knew I was in a pit, she knew my life lacked light, she knew darkness lived in my heart; and she wasn't about to send me off to face that alone.  You see, my mama was my confidant.  I told her literally every single thing about my life....the good, the bad, the dark, the light, the ugly, the lovely.  She knew it all.  When I sent my girl off to school, I didn't really see her sadness or the pit she was living in.  It took me a while to see it, because she's not me; and she doesn't tell me every single thing about her life.  She keeps a lot of that inside.  As these last few years have passed since my mama died, I have thought a lot about things she did and said.  I find myself thinking so much, that sometimes I overthink, then I have to go back and think again about how to approach something better.  I also find myself relying much more on Jesus to direct my thoughts and put the right words on my tongue, and sometimes that means I say nothing....which can be really really hard.  High school wasn't as bad as I made it sound, I came away from there with a lot of good.  The main reason I would never go back is because I didn't have joy in my heart, that joy you can only find in trusting Jesus.  I have that now, and I never want to go back but just continue going forward.  Don't look back....you aren't going that way!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Time

Time...does it heal?  I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and honestly I don't know.  I guess it's different for everyone.  For me, time hasn't done a lot of healing.  It hasn't healed hurts.  It hasn't righted wrongs.  It hasn't rekindled broken relationships.  So what has time done for me?  It has allowed me to adjust to the hurts, the wrongs, the relationships that have ended.  It has allowed me to move forward trusting that it was all the way it was intended.  It has allowed me to trust that there would be some good that comes from these things.  It has allowed me the eyes and heart to see the good.  Time hasn't healed anything, but it has allowed me to breathe and know that life goes on...even through hurt, sad, grief...life goes on.

Friday, September 29, 2017

IT IS WELL!!!

About 3 years ago, I had a TIA.  After days in the hospital and lots of tests, it was determined that I had cerebral vascular disease, called Microangiopathic Ischemic Disease.  I've been on meds to prevent a full blown stroke for the last 3 years.  Over the last few months, I've been feeling those same symptoms again; so it was time for another MRI.  This one also showed stuff going on in my brain, Microangiopathic White Matter Disease.  I didn't really get any answers or suggestions on how to deal with the symptoms, and honestly I'm kinda frustrated.  I feel like I've been hearing a lot of, "We really don't know, so just take this".  A few months ago, I decided to take my oldest to a holistic doctor to try to get some answers in regards to her hypothyroidism, depression, crazy and weird swelling that had been going on.  He has given her some natural things to try to help, and she has started neuro feedback therapy.  I'm so so hopeful that this well provide some brain balance for her.  Much to her dismay, I also started my 16 year old on neuro feedback as well to see if it could help her with her anxiety.  Through all of this, I've felt a lot of things: sad, irritated, helpless, confused to mention a few.  One thing I haven't felt is hopeless, I know God has this.  The part that is the hardest for me is not being able to give up control.  I'm working on it though, and I keep looking up.  Someone asked me what kind of treatment I can have to battle this, and at this time; I don't really know as far as medical stuff goes. What I do know is the kind of treatment I can provide myself.  I have to thank God every day for allowing me another wake up, I have to embrace every little part of every day....even the hard and sad.  I have to look for the good....especially when it's hard and sad.  I have to remember to not take people or things for granted.  I have to love with my whole heart and not let anyone wonder.  I have to give myself lots of grace when I am really struggling with things like focus and memory and balance.  And I have to remember this, "whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say it is well, it is well with my soul".

Friday, September 22, 2017

Seasons of Hard! Seasons of Wonderful!

Two of my girls struggle with mental health.  My oldest, Addi,  has been fighting her way through major depression and anxiety for the last few years.  My smack dab in the middle child, Drew, suffers from severe anxiety.  When we realized that Addi was in the deep pit of depression and anxiety, she was in college.  I knew that she had been sad for a while, since my mom died and then Neil's mom died 9 months later; but I never saw this coming.  Addi is an introvert but not shy. She is extremely creative, kind, generous and laid back.  I mean this girl is laaaaaiiiiiidddd back.  Never in a million years would I have ever expected that depression and anxiety would have such an impact on her health.  I guess they're not picky about who they attack.  After a lot of intervention, which is still continuing, she has climbed her way out of that pit.  There are seasons when she dips her toes back in, but she is finally learning to use the tools she's been given to fight through it.  It's still very challenging at times, and she is still in a battle; but it seems like it's not always constant like it was for a while.  Drew, on the other hand, has been anxious her whole life.  She is an introvert and very very shy.  She is extremely creative, kind, generous and a very deep thinker.  I mean this girl is deeeepppppp.  As a child, her anxiety would manifest itself in anger and reactiveness.  She would often go from happy as a clam to screaming at the top of her lungs in a fit of rage.  I didn't really understand that this was anxiety until she was about 10.  I always thought she was a hot head, like me and her Papa (my dad).  Like Addi, Drew has seasons where the anxiety is high.  It has affected her ability to move forward with many things in her life, and it oftentimes leaves her in a state of paralysis; because she can't do anything but feel like she needs to climb out of her own skin.  She too is learning ways to cope and in the middle of treatment to help her regain her quality of life. I have never really experienced anxiety except when one of my children is in its tight grip, and then I feel it for about half a second.  It isn't something I know, but I'm starting to understand it as I try to help them navigate through it.  One of the things I've been thinking about in this season of hard is just that.....life can be so hard, for no other reason than it just is.  As humans we have some of the most wonderful gifts in our emotions, but sometimes things get out of whack; and we can't manage them appropriately.  It doesn't make you any less or loved, it just is what it is.  The most important thing is to recognize it for what it is and seek out the best way for you to address it in hopes of regaining your life....the life God intended for you.   Last night I had to sleep with Drew, because she was so very anxious.  Night time can be really hard....it's when your brain starts to think about everything from the day.  We didn't really talk, but I could see her relax a little just because I was there.  As I lay there in her bed watching her do her homework, I was thinking about how hard it had been; but I was also thinking about how good it had been.  Both of my girls have a light that shines brightly within themselves.  They have given so much of themselves to others and to their family.  They love JESUS, and they will use these times for good, this I know.  In fact, we have already seen the good in many circumstances from their struggles.  If you're struggling or battling something, remember that life can be hard and wonderful all at once.  Sometimes there's more hard, and sometimes there's more wonderful.  It may feel nearly impossible to survive the hard, so we pray for God to bring us through it.  And sometimes we are glowing in the wonderful, so we pray for God to let it continue.  Just keep praying....no matter the season.  And when you don't have the words to pray, remember that He already knows.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

THE LIGHT

I'm drawn to light.  Maybe that's one reason why I love being a photographer, because I love the light.  When I was 19, I was in a terrible car accident.  Thankfully the seatbelt laws had just been passed, or I would have probably died.  When I was unconscious in the car, I remember seeing a bright light.  It was what I would consider a near death experience.  I saw a light, but I didn't see Jesus.  The light was peaceful and calm.
It had been a hard few years for me, and I was drowning; but my soul was healed that day.  I remember thanking God for my life as the fireman was pulling me out of my mom's mangled car.  And at that moment, I knew that light was going to change me forever.
I have always been a christian, but I didn't always trust Jesus.  During those dark days in my late teens, I was losing my way.  God used that accident to help me find it again.  It was still several years later before I realized what Jesus wanted from me...he wanted me to want Him.  He wanted me to trust Him, to love Him, to love others.  He wanted me to love myself the way He loves me, so that I could always fight my way out of the darkness.  The light still draws me in, and I find myself lost in it most days.  And when I can't find it with my eyes, I know where to find it in my heart.  That day all those years ago, I saw a light; but I never saw Jesus, or maybe I did.
                            


Friday, September 15, 2017

Hard Stuff

Life has been tough lately, but I keep on smiling.  I'm always telling myself, "it could be worse"; and it could.  I'm always clinging to the good and what to be grateful for, and it's a lot; but I recently realized that sometimes you just need to sit in the tough spots for a bit.  You have to let them sink in real good, so you can feel everything about them and then figure out how to get through them.  Your hard may be very different from someone else's hard, but that doesn't mean it's not hard.  Comparing your struggles to someone else's is not healthy or honest.  I know some struggles are much harder than others, and believe me I've experienced all realms of difficulty when it comes to hard stuff.  But I am just starting to see that when you're in the thick of it, you just have to be in the thick of it to actually sort through it.  You don't know other people's hard, and they don't know yours.  The most important thing to remember is God is there.  He may be silent, but He's there.  And sometimes He may reveal Himself to you in ways you would never expect, but you are so grateful He did.

Last night, I had a dream.  I was searching everywhere for the parents of a family.  I couldn't find them, but I knew I needed to desperately.  I walked into the living room and saw Neil standing there, and I vaguely remember thinking to myself "Thank Goodness...there is the dad".  I looked into the kitchen for "the mom", but she wasn't there.  I asked him where she was, and at first I think he just stared at me.  The clearest part of this dream (which was actually reality) was the look of confusion and sadness on his face as I kept asking him, "Where is my mom?"  He answered with, "She's gone." I got agitated and continued to ask him over and over until he finally said, "She passed away a few years ago."  I said something like, "I'm talking about Sandy" and then I walked back into my room and went to sleep.  I've been missing my mom hard lately.  As this dream became more clear, I started thinking about how I wish she was here to help me with life.  She was my confidant, the one I told everything to.  She was the one who guided me with unconditional love, even if it was with discipline or things I didn't want to hear.  She was my biggest fan.  I trusted her with every aspect of myself, and I miss her.  She wasn't perfect, but she advised me as best as she could.  This morning, I was wishing I could have seen her in that dream.  But I then started wondering if maybe I did, and it was me looking for myself trying to be the mother she was.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.  John 16:33


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Forgiveness

I've recently learned about some things that have happened that have been hurtful.  The most hurtful part is that a few of my children have been affected by these actions.  Although they don't really even know about these things yet, I know it will make them sad when they do.  The craziest part is I'm not sure why these things happened or even what really happened.  I reached out several times to try to make things right but to no avail.  In my 50 years of life, I've learned a lot and experienced a lot; but I still don't understand a lot.  One of the things I've decided I really need to focus on is forgiveness.  There have been so many hurts, some intentional and some not, and I need to move past them.  Some of these things will only be addressed in my mind as they are too painful to speak about to anyone else.  Some of these things are consequences of my own actions as well.  I understand forgiveness and all of its definitions.  I understand that unforgiveness makes you a prisoner to your feelings, not to the person that hurt you, but to your own feelings.  I understand that true forgiveness breaks those chains.  I understand that you don't have to forget, condone or even speak to the person who hurt you ever again to truly forgive them.  What I don't understand is how to get there.  I have forgiven many things and many people, but there are some that I still cling to with tightly closed fists.  I want to release those fists and free myself of these chains that bind me, because I want to be free.  I guarantee you those who have done hurtful things haven't thought twice about it.  On the flip side, I am sure I have done hurtful things to people as well.  I would never try to intentionally hurt someone, and it is so confusing when people are upset; and I have no idea why.  It takes its toll on my heart, but I have to trust in the Lord that maybe there is some reason for this and that something good will come of it.  I wonder if sometimes it's a form or protection or redirection as well.  I admit that I'm a sensitive person, and I internalize a lot.  I've been working on this for the last few years, but it's not easy to change those parts of yourself...it's part of who you are.  The other day I listened to a podcast on forgiveness, and I realized that I don't have to change the sensitive part of me.  What I really need to work on is the insecure part of myself. The part that worries too much about what others think.  I also realized that a huge part of forgiveness is forgiving yourself....WHOA!  What?  If I'm living my life in the light, or at least doing my best to, then I think I'm giving it my best; and that's what matters.  Jesus sees you....the real you.  Maybe the first step in forgiveness is forgiving myself...whew!  I remember years ago, someone told me that if you hold on to your mistakes and continually ask God to forgive you for the same ones over and over; then the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins was all in vain. Working on accepting His grace and forgiveness has been tough...especially when you don't feel worthy.  I know I'm not worthy, but I also know that He loves me....oh how He loves me.  The more I delve into myself and into His word, the more I am able to accept all that He has to offer.  And soon enough forgiveness of myself will come, and that's a great big gigantic step.

Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.[1][2] Forgiveness is different from condoning (failing to see the action as wrong and in need of forgiveness), excusing (not holding the offender as responsible for the action), forgetting (removing awareness of the offense from consciousness), pardoning (granted for an acknowledged offense by a representative of society, such as a judge), and reconciliation (restoration of a relationship).[

Friday, September 8, 2017

JOY

I've been thinking a lot about joy lately.  A few months ago, a friend of mine asked me to share my thoughts on joy; and I've been praying about it and thinking about it every day since then.  I'm a deep thinker, and I wear my heart on my sleeve.  I am moved to tears just about every day for various reasons, sometimes it's as simple as a song on the radio. And sometimes it's more complex, like memories of my parents.  I am deeply affected by things I read and watch and let enter my brain, so I guard it carefully.  The goodness of the world and the not so goodness of the world overwhelm my spirit and heart in such a way that I oftentimes find myself consumed by it.  I lay awake often wondering how I can make a difference and sometimes I lay awake paralyzed by thoughts and hurts.  I pray continuously for people I love, it's always on my heart.  Sometimes fear of things to come or things that have been will start trying to creep in, and then I pray for peace.   I have become so sad or angry at a situation driven by fear, and I have to sit back and ask God to help me navigate through that.  I'll be honest when I say that I don't always sit back and wait, sometimes I react immediately; and it never turns out good.  I'm a worrier by nature (working on this daily), but I love and trust my Lord.  As I grow in my relationship and faith with Him, I see that anger or sadness driven by fear may be the most difficult emotion for me to navigate.  But every single morning, and even in the depths of darkness; I have joy in my heart.  It's there beside the holes of hurt and grief and despair.  It doesn't fill the holes, but it fills me and gives me hope.  It doesn't come because of circumstances or by choice.  It doesn't come just when I need it or when things are going good.  It's always there, because it's from Jesus.  I believe that happiness is a choice we make.  In the midst of good times and bad, we make a choice to be happy or not.  Sometimes our circumstances can attribute to this choice too, but with joy of Jesus....we don't have to choose, it lives in your heart.  Even in the deepest pits of grief or pain, I find joy.  I imagine things, which are straight from Jesus, to always remind me that it's there.  When my mom died, I was devastated.  The pain was so so deep, and the grief so so strong.  God kept putting visions in my mind of her dancing with my daddy.  She had not been able to walk in a very very long time, but before she was wheelchair bound; she was in love with dancing.  I see that in my head, when I think of my mom and dad; and the joy is there.  It doesn't erase the pain or the grief, but it reminds me of of how much I am loved and what's to come.   The Bible says, our tears will be wiped away (Revelation 21:4). All of our conflicts and pain are of this world, they will not exist in heaven.  Have you ever thought of it like that?  The arguing, cruelty, disrespect, evil and hurt will be passed away.  We will live with Jesus in a sinless place, and it will be more grand than we can even imagine.
I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart!!  Praise The Lord!!


"He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more. There will be no mourning, crying, or pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4