I Would Have Lost Heart Unless I had Believed…

I Would Have Lost Heart Unless I had Believed. #hope #believed #despair

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage;”

Psalm 27:13-14 nasb

 

I sat down to finish writing something entirely different, but my fingers wouldn’t type.

So, I walked away.

I find myself in a familiar place today –

Afraid.

Too anxious to sit. Too scrambled to articulate sentences and think up pretty words.

I’m not myself – or rather, a previous form of myself.

I don’t like her very much and I struggle to give her grace when she shows up.

I Would Have Lost Heart Unless I had Believed. #hope #believed #despair

I Would Have Lost Heart Unless I had Believed…

I’m battling a cold and tiredness seems to engulf me today.

My youngest is home sick, he woke up at three a.m. with a high fever and cough. After giving him medicine and a cool towel we sat together and watched some of the Olympics. My little guy drifted off sometime after four and I sat alone in the dark thinking.

I know better than to go deep when the night is heavy around me…

Whispers from the past pull me down

Lying in bed next to my sweet, sleeping cherub, I wander to a place years ago in the midst of postpartum depression, when my older son was sick. Back to a time when life seemed unbearable because I was having severe anxiety and obsessive, intrusive thoughts.

I was physically present but not so much emotionally and mentally which left my memories blurred.

My boys are no longer little. Two of them are teenagers now and my tiniest – as my husband and I call him – turns nine next month. Didn’t I just bring him home from the hospital?

The nagging voice in my mind whispers – Time is short...

I shift uncomfortably in my bed because I am all too aware that I can never get those days back.

My breath catches as tears fall while I grieve the past.

It hurts.

The would of’s, should of’s and what if’s are there waiting – so are the fears that once swallowed me whole. None of them truly leave and if I rummage long enough, my emotions match my thoughts. 

I am left feeling helpless and anxious.

Today I am Tired

Memories have that effect on me.

I struggle when ghosts from my past trigger reactions, especially in weak moments.

Today my body is fighting off sickness while my mind fights to stay present.

When I’m tired I am more prone to anxiety. Depression always follows closely, seeking an opportunity to descend.

I’ve been waiting for a day like today. I knew it would come and I’d have to write about it.

 

We hear all the time how hard it is to be transparent. It really is. Hard.

Then the lies…

Who do you think you are to write about overcoming anxiety and depression? You’re still here…

You have nothing to offer…

You’ll never get over this…

The ripple of a stone thrown years ago in the lake of my life, still reaches me, even today, on an average snow-covered February morning.

If only life were a sitcom, laughing while all misfortune is neatly summed up in 30 minutes.

But it’s not.

Life is complicated, tangled and imperfect.

I’d love to tell you I am wrapped up in the prettiest paper and neatly tied with a bow, nope, I am a work in progress. Bad days happen when you deal with anxiety and depression. And often for me, it’s the memories that set one in motion.

But God…

Making some soup for my boy, I spotted the most beautiful little bird amidst the snow outside my back window. He didn’t seem to mind the frozen ground, pecking and digging until he found a worm. Satisfied with his loot he flew off to the nearest tree and sang a song until another sweet melody responded.

By observing my feathered friend on this crisp winter morning I am reminded again that God is faithful.

He was then, He is now.

“I would have despaired unless I had believed…”

I love the King James Version of this scripture – I would have lost heart unless I had believed…”

Oh, how I lose heart when I forget to believe! It is so tempting to look back and try to manipulate the events of our lives – although, the only thing altered is us – we are left defeated, sad and helpless by lingering too long in the unchangeable.

But God…

“I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”

He reminds me of His faithful goodness IN the land of the living.

Right. Now.

When I dig through the icy memories at my feet I find Him there. The goodness of the Lord, even in the cold, even in the muck. When I do, I rise above the cold to sing a song of rejoicing for where I am at IN this moment.

“Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage;”

I texted my husband to ask for prayer and my sweet guy told me to look at the cross. “You don’t have to try harder, He did it all, just look up in faith to Him.”

Today I wait.

I wait for this to pass.

I fight to stay in the moment – sometimes fighting doesn’t mean pulling out weapons and battling until you’re bloody.

Occasionally it means waiting. Allowing your heart to take courage by standing firm in the truth you already know. It takes a little time for our heart to thaw and take in courage.

Then my guy told me something else. “Don’t try… Just write,” he said.

So, I write

My little boy is snuggled in watching movies next to me, his fever warmed skin pressed against mine. I nuzzle my face into his sweaty head of hair as his blue eyes gaze up at Wreck-It-Ralph – all the while I breathe out a quiet thankfulness for this moment – time alone with my Tiny while my older two are at school.

Days like today take place, they just do.

Triggers come and sad, anxious days will occur. But just as the delicate bird sings his song amongst the wintry frost, I choose to believe I will see the goodness of the Lord IN the now.

Reminders of past victories and present grace. Hope.

Won’t you join me today in thanking Him for the hard days as well as the good? They will come and that’s okay.

“God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble… God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.” Psalm 46: 1-2 &5 NASB

 

I’m linking up with some fantastic fellow bloggers this week – click on the links and join me over there!

Grace&Truth-300x300

 

Holley Gerth

 

          

dreamtogether-linkup

What does real love look like?

I’ve been sick this week and completely useless.

It’s no fun being sick around the holidays, so much to do and no energy to do it. Thank God for Amazon.

And my husband…

Every time I’m sick he takes such good care of me. He makes sure I have all the medicine I need and am totally comfortable. He must’ve gone to the store 50 different times because of my ever-changing mood for food and drink. And, he even drove halfway across town to get me my favorite soup.

Also, he allows me to rest and he picks up the slack around the house and takes care of our kid’s needs. I am truly blessed because of him.

My husband’s response to me being completely laid up and useless during one of the busiest weeks out of the year has got me to thinking.

What does real love look like?

Is it really just 3 little words with an emoji attached to it?

Or is there action behind this word that is shaded in various hues of pinks and reds?

In our day and age “I love you’s” are said daily without a second thought and are slathered all over social media. While sometimes this can be the only thing that can be done or said in a moment, I can’t help but think it can feel a bit vacant. When it’s thrown around so impulsively it begins to feel void of any commitment and true substance.

Maybe loving isn’t always as easy as we like to think it is. Perhaps, at times it takes a little more work than we would like to think.

What if during this season of giving, we take a step back some 2,000 years ago and follow the man from Nazareth and consider what real love looks like.

For God so loved that He gave…

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

This is more than likely the most well-known verse in the entire bible and I believe it holds an equation as simple as 1 + 1=2.

God loved = He gave.

Real love gives.

God gave His Son to die for us which led to life for all mankind. He knew we had a need and out of love He gave.

This gift that He gave was given solely out of Agape. This is the word used to describe the love that is from God and specifically IS God.

Agape love is shown by what it does. It is not an emotionally based love, it is not based on anything the recipient has done. Agape is faithfulness and commitment.

Agape is God’s love for us because it is who He is.

Real Love has a name

Because God IS love, (1 John 4:8) He is the ultimate model of who we are to follow when we need to see how to do love.

God gave Love…He gave Jesus.

We love, we give. There just simply can not be one without the other.

Real Love Gives

We have forgotten in our day and age that there is a responsibility that comes with loving someone. It is a weighty duty.

And a great privilege.

Love doesn’t mean we are fulfilled or even necessarily happy at the moment.

A lot of the time love isn’t even about us or our needs.

Most of the time, it is others focused.

Truly loving another comes with sacrifice on our part. It may even mean going against what we feel in the moment to give another love.

…”My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.” And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:38-39

I think we like to believe love shouldn’t cost us anything.

But sometimes love doesn’t look the way we think it should, sometimes it’s downright uncomfortable.

Sacrificial, even.

Love gives

an apology.

truth.

time.

a hug.

a meal.

a sacrifice.

Friend, don’t be fooled by the shallow counterfeits out there. There are many. We can fall for the shiny and the easy, thinking it’s the road to real love because it gives us butterflies. All the while forgetting that true Love is stained with blood and wears a crown of thorns.

The ultimate gift we could ever receive was given just over 2,000 years ago. It was the utmost act of love and sacrifice at once.

It was certainly not what everyone expected… or even wanted.

But it was exactly what was needed.

This is real love.

Love came and entered our little ball of dirt and turned everything upside down for the people of that time, and if we allow Him to, He will continue to do so today.

Because real love never stops giving.

May we be reminded this Christmas, and all the year-long, that real love gives.


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The Loudest Voice They Hear

In a world full of ugly how will we teach our children to be decent human beings?

It’s the question at the heart of several conversations I’ve been a part of in recent months. With Hollywood’s current events and our tumultuous politics, this has been a recurring topic on social media and in personal conversation.

I’ve heard comments such as these:

“How will my boys be men that respect women when we have a president like this?”

“When those in power behave this way how are we to teach our kids it’s wrong?”

“How do I explain the ugly things that happen in this world to my kids?”

People in the spotlight are responsible for the most hideous behaviors and appear to be above the law. More shootings and ugliness spill out daily into our homes from simply turning on the television. At the swipe of a finger the news bombards not only us, but our children as well.

We worry how their hearts and minds will be affected by the people in places of prominence and the events in our world.

It can leave us feeling helpless.

So, how do we raise men and women that respect others while the world pushes in?

Going on a walk with my family, I happened to lag behind a bit messing with the dog. I looked up and pulled out my phone just in time to catch this picture. As I glanced down at my phone, the thought crossed my mind.

This is how..

My hubby and my oldest were walking, genuinely engaged in conversation about serious issues. Our greatest goal has been to be the ones they come to first in a struggle.

I am honored when they let us in.

We are far from perfect parents but we make it our mission to have our boys consider us a safe place. My husband and I decided to have an open door policy in our home, to be honest with our boys.

 We choose to talk about life. Real. Not fun. Ugly. Exciting. Glorious. Confusing. Life. Un-filtered and un-censored. Sometimes the conversations aren’t fun, and they aren’t always pretty and sometimes we have to initiate because they’re embarrassed.

There are days my kids see and hear things I’d rather they not. I can’t control what comes out of the mouth of the president, the celebrity on tv, or for that matter, the person next to us. And I certainly don’t always agree with their views.

Talk to them

When I watched my husband walking with our oldest, who is, quite literally growing into a man before my eyes, I was filled with a sense of awe. An understanding of the great privilege a parent holds, fell upon me all over again.

I believe the greatest mistake we can make in parenting is to put the power to impact our children into the hands of others. Whether this be a politician, school,  church, society, or anybody else.

When we throw our hands up in defeat, we claim helplessness over our own children.. when we should be claiming promises over them.

Ours are the words they hear daily. It’s our voices that have the ability to shape what they understand to be true of the world and themselves.

With a million voices vying for their attention, I want my husbands and mine to be the loudest. We are the ones that love them. No matter how well-intentioned he may be, the president doesn’t love my children. Whether they be a republican or democrat, conservative or liberal, they don’t love our children.

They do not know my children individually and they do not know what is best for them.

Therefore, I will not give them that much credit.

I refuse to give away the power that I possess to influence my children because of what celebrities, politicians, or anyone else chooses to do or say. In a world full of agendas and lies, I pray that our home will be filled with love and grace so that they won’t feel the need to look elsewhere for their worth.. or anyone else’s.

Wherever I may fear the greatest threat comes from, supposing it’s the White House or the house down the street, I want my kids to know that their greatest ally on Earth is right here, walking next to them.

 

When questions arise and the ugliest part of humanity shows it’s face, because we know it will. I pray they’ll remember the love they’ve been given and the truth they’ve been shown. This is what I hope will lead and guide them as they grow into men.

Though imperfect as we are, we love them fiercely. My hope is, if I am honest with them for my need of grace, they will be honest with their need and that will extend far beyond our home. I pray that because they have been given grace, they will be grace givers, always.

 

That they will see and know the ultimate Grace Giver.

We certainly can not keep them from all the ugly in this world. But it is my privilege to take their hand and walk with them through it.

Irreplaceable

I bet now there’s a Beyoncé song running through your head since reading the title?

No?

“To the left, to the left..”

Well, now there is.. you’re welcome.

I’m so easily distracted. Let’s get back to where we were, shall we?

If you’re a stay-at-home mom like me, you, no doubt, have been asked the question, “Where do you work?” Here begins the awkward dance. And in the defense of the questioner, I’m pretty sure I’m the one startin’ the two-step.

“I’m a stay-at-home mom,” I reply.

Here it comes.. the old cliché that I dread hearing. “Well, that’s a job all in itself!” Or, “You don’t ever get time off do you?!” And my personal favorite, “You have the hardest job in the world!” (I cringe every time I hear this response.)

I smile and give my best- oh, it’s no big deal, humble, stay-at-home mom nod. I agree with them and lament the “hardness” of my job, because, well, that’s what you do. We continue on with our conversation, all the while, I can’t decide if they believe what they just said, or for that matter, if I do.

It’s a dance I hate and if I wasn’t so conscientious of the dance, here’s what I’d actually like to say.

I don’t think you believe that being a stay-at-home mom is the hardest job in the world…”

Let’s just get this out of the way; yes, I’m extremely cynical. Ok, good, moving on.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ve come to the conclusion in my experience that it’s mostly a trite response. You know, like when someone asks, “how are you today?” I don’t know about you, but I usually don’t respond with, “Awful, worst day ever, thanks for asking.”

I also have come to see that we as moms struggle with our own value in motherhood.

How often have you said, “I’m just,” before the reply “a stay-at-home mom?”

(Maybe you’re not like me, maybe you’re secure in your value as a full-time mom. If so, I admire that about you.. teach me your ways.)

I’ve done it a thousand times. “I’m just a stay-at-home mom.”

Followed by: “I used to be..” *Just incase there were any questions I promise, I have value. 

For some reason I felt I was doing my part for society when I went to work. I could wear my shiny little badge that proudly proclaimed, I am a working part of society!

So, finding value in my job, as you can imagine, wasn’t a great thing when I came to the frightening realization that;

I am replaceable.

If you’re like I was, seeking value in something where I was easily replaced, it’s an exhausting thing. You’re always running a race you’ll never win.

I became fully aware of this when I was working full-time after my second son was born. Taking time off meant someone else would be doing my job. We then had some changes within our childcare situation and I had to decide to either stay home or take my boys to daycare.

Although I had a desire to be home, it still scared me. Where was my value if I didn’t have my career?

Essentially, I felt invisible without it.

If we are being completely honest anyone can do our “job,” (Well, maybe not if you’re the star NFL quarter back or the greatest physicist alive. I guess maybe you’re good there.. you’ve got the market on that one.) But really, even then you’ll die one day, someone younger and better will take your place. That’s just all there is to it.

(I know, I’m just full of positivity.) But hey, congrats, my point has arrived!

As a mom I am irreplaceable.

I am essential.

I am the only one that can love and care for my children in the way that they need. So, when I think of where I am now, as a mom, I think of it as a privilege. I think of it as the ultimate gift and quite frankly, the greatest blessing.

It has taken me quite some time to not only be confident in saying this, but to be comfortable with it as well. When I am struggling with the truth of my value I remember these 3 words,

I am irreplaceable. 

You are irreplaceable. 

You are the ONLY mother your kids have. While I’m sure this is no new revelation, I don’t think we stop enough to breathe that information in. To really STOP and THINK about the fact that these precious souls are our responsibility. They are not only growing physically but emotionally as well. We are gifted with walking along side them, guiding, directing, correcting and loving them every step of the way.

When I am in that place of not believing in my worth as a stay-at-home mom, I am listening to a society that doesn’t find value in a mother. What she contributes every single day to raise children men and women. We are raising the men and women that one day will be our neighbors, our doctors, our policemen or teachers or clerks at the grocery store. Decent, loving, intentionally taught human beings that will find value in and have compassion for other human beings.

That is the only job where I am irreplaceable.

Realizing this has brought me some peace in my fear of being replaced.

With that said, I wish I could tell you I never struggle with this any longer, but that’d be a lie (I’d rather not start our relationship off that way) So, I’m being honest, I do still struggle with my worth as a stay-at-home mom.

As with any other lie, there is a truth uncovered in the scriptures about Gods character that I believe helps kill the lie;

He sees you.

Hagar was running away. She was pregnant with a child from another woman’s husband, a man who was her master. She was basically a surrogate but She was not loved. I’m sure she must’ve felt used. She was Egyptian and she wanted to go home. So she ran.. She ended up by a spring of water in the wilderness and guess who found her there? Genesis 16:7 says the angel of the Lord found her.

He said, “Hagar, where have you come from and where are you going?” She answers Him and He proceeds to give her a quick synopsis of her future, including the name of her soon-to-be son. After this discussion with God, (I know, no biggie, right?) she gives Him a name based on what she experienced out of this interaction.

Genesis 16:13 says, Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her,

“you are the God who sees;”

He saw her. He, the God of everything, took his time to see her, an Egyptian woman who was really not worth much in the eyes of the world.

He sees you too.

He knows that what you are doing truly is the hardest job in the world, even if no other soul acknowledges that, He does.

You have a loving Father who is walking this life with you. Caring for you and shepherding you every step of the way as you shepherd your little ones. You and I can rest in the fact that even if this world says we are replaceable, He does not.

Let’s make a pact to believe this together when we’re fighting against the lies, ok?

We are irreplaceable..

What makes you feel replaceable? Are you a stay-at-home mom, working mom or somewhere in between? Do you struggle finding value in your title? I’d love to hear your thoughts!