Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Let the Waters Rise if You Want them To....

It seems like Jesus has given me a song for each day this week, just enough to keep me singing through it. His grace is sufficient. Doesn't he always provide? Sometimes through means we can't always see, understand or even appreciate...but he is always faithful. Always present.

*****

On Monday I finally went to see my Nana. It was a difficult goodbye and I dreaded it so much. I barely said two words to my husband the whole drive. And believe me, only two words in an hour is a statement in itself. He was worried. (If you're concluding that I always have something to say- you win.) We arrived to meet my parents before going in to see her. I thought I was doing ok, but then I saw my daddy. You know when you were a kid and you fell and scraped your knee, holding in tears only until you see your Mom's face before falling apart?

Yup, that's my dad. Still works. Every time.

I lost it. But I knew I had to see her. To say goodbye. To tell her she could go home and didn't have to wait any more. I was the last one....I just couldn't do it before. I wasn't ready. But she was my Nana- she deserved a goodbye. I wanted to show her the same love and respect she had modeled to me growing up. I wanted to tell her I loved her again.

She's been sick for a long time. She was diagnosed with dementia four years ago, but for the last year and a half she hasn't recognized any of us. I used to see her every day, until the day she walked right by me in the hallway. And then the next time I went she was rocking a baby doll, singing my favorite song... it was too painful. I've wrestled guilt for a while, not visiting her in so long. Not being strong enough to handle the pain just to see her. She never knew... we were just faces at that point. But I still feel badly about it. When I went to say goodbye, I was taken back. She wasn't at all the Nana I had known. The pictures I had memorized in my mind.

She was sleeping. Snoring actually. loudly. The medications they had said. It took me a while to enter the room. We stood around the bed, talked about the funny memories and little quirks we all loved about Nana. We cried. And then I had them leave so I could say goodbye.

At first I just sat and held her hand. What can you say to a woman who loved you all your life, who made the best root beer floats, taught you to knit, gave you "mcdonalds money", had tea parties with real china and was present at every important event in your life?

I love you. I miss you. Your skin is still so soft and lovely.
I am excited for you to see His face.
I will see you again soon.

Tuesday evening my mom called. She wanted my younger brother to spend the night. She thought it was time. Two hours later she called my brother, Nana had gone to be with the Lord. I didn't cry. I needed to be the one to be strong. And praise the Lord he gave me the strength.

It was a hard evening for all of us. But a celebration too. There is no more pain, tears, or fear for her now. She is sitting at the foot of Christ. In awe of his splendor.
I'm so glad I said goodbye. I'm glad she didn't have to wait anymore.

******
I had an appointment this morning and on the way I realized that the traffic was backed up more than usual for that part of town. And then at my exit, I realized why.

Several huge firetrucks lined the exit- displaying a glorious American flag, hung in honor of Sgt. Brandon Silk.Little did I know that my husband and his unit had just saluted our hero and my dad was among the police officers to escort him and the family. I was directly behind his processional home. I don't know why the Lord planned it that way- it was more than I could take at the moment. But there I was driving behind the crowds who came to pay respects and honor a hero, streets lined with flags, ribbons and posters, trying to make sense of it all. I can't come up with any answers as of now. Except that He knows best for us. That doesn't always comfort as it should.

As difficult as its been to watch my Nana become weaker and weaker, I have a better grasp on her death. She lived life, she honored the Lord. She loved and was loved. Her death is mourned, but it was expected.

Brandon's...I'm not handling so well. He was 25. Only two years older than I am. His life was just beginning. I try and make sense of this roller coaster of military life. I try and understand the sacrifice and dedication that I have become part of. That I take pride and honor in.


But now it's different. Now it's personal. It's close. Too close.

Before, this horrid fear caught in the pit of your stomach was around the corner.... on the next page forbidden to be turned... Now, it's next door. It's not that "I can't imagine", "It won't happen to me"... it's real. This scary, horrid, painful fear is real.

You can't escape it. You can't deny it. You can't ignore it.
It could happen. It might be me someday. It did happen to someone.

I sit here typing as my gorgeous soldier plays baseball on the wii, and life appears so simple...uncomplicated. safe. But it isn't.

Tomorrow he could deploy. Tomorrow he could be that soldier. that blackhawk crew chief. Tomorrow that could be me answering that knock on the door. It's unlikely sure, but it could happen.

But fear can't win. It can't control us. It can't control me.

because my God is BIGGER. GREATER. MIGHTIER.

He will give me enough grace for each moment. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
He still deserves my praise. And He is faithful to help me sing each day.

*****

Don't know where to begin
Its like my world's caving in
And I try but I can't control my fear
Where do I go from here?
sometimes its so hard to pray
When You feel so far away
But I am willing to go
Where you want me to God,
I trust You
There's a raging sea
Right in front of me
Wants to pull me in
Bring me to my knees
So let the waters rise
If You want them to
I will follow You
I will follow You, I will follow You

listen here.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Finally Home

When my husband was in Iraq- I hated this song. I couldn't stand to hear the opening notes. to hear the chorus. see the music video. For months and months and months after he returned, it still made my heart quicken and that one-of-a-kind nauseous feeling impaled me in the stomach.

You know those word-association games? I think this song was my "deployment-and-all-that it-entails" association. To this day when I'm driving down the highway and I hear the first few notes my stomach clenches and I remind myself My Soldier is only a phone call away...a ten minute drive from home...

This week I've listened to this song. And for the first time felt it as a comfort, not a reminder of separation. Two phone calls rocked my world this week. Two days, back to back.

On Tuesday I checked my missed messages. One from mom. one from dad. one from my husband. I didn't think much of it. So I called my mom back first. Her voice sounded really strange, but she talked about nonsense for the first ten minutes. And then she said, I need you to sit down and listen to me. I have hard news to tell you....

A close friend of the family received the knock on the door we all pray to never answer.
He was a sargeant in the Army. A black hawk crew chief in Afghanistan. There was a crash.

Our dads both worked together. Every time I went to the office, I saw his latest picture- heard the last of his stories or phone calls.

He was my brother's age. He and my husband have the same job.


Sgt. Brandon Silk is a hero. He will be so greatly missed. His father, mother and two brothers are also heroes.

I don't have any other words, because I can't handle to say them right now...

***


Wednesday morning brought another phone call. My mom again. More hard news. My grandmother had a stroke. She isn't doing well at all. We are all just waiting...


She was diagnosed with dementia about 4 years ago. It's been a horridly long road as she became less and less of the amazing Nana we all knew and loved. About a year and a half ago, I walked into her room at the nursing home and she was singing my song to a baby doll. I started my goodbyes then. It may seem cold to say this, but I didn't cry when I was told. It was expected. The last few days have brought ups and downs, one moment I am calm and collected. Realistic. Other moments, I am a bucket of snotty tears in my husband's lap.


My family has been hit hard this week. But God is faithful. His grace is sufficient. His arms are a place of security and rest.


He has given me a glipse of beauty through the ashes and tears... those I love and treasure are finally going home. They will sit at the feet of Jesus, amazed my his glory and grace. They will hurt no more. Fear no more. They will finally be home in arms of our Mighty God.


Monday, June 7, 2010

Guess How Much I Love You?

This past week my mama and I went on a shopping trip to the nearest outlets a couple hours from home. I was on the hunt for jeans. I hate jean shopping. Is there even any one out there who doesn't dread the experience? I have never met a woman who looks forward to the "joys" of finding perfect jeans- whether they are a size -2, 2 or 22. It's just not pleasant. In fact, usually I end with shoe shopping. Because shoes are always fun and fabulous!


However, this time I started my day the right way. I prayed. Now you may think praying for jeans is silly- but nothing is too small or too big for God. I often pray for small things- a parking space, a lost item to be found, the clock to slow down (I'm pretty much always 15 minutes late...) Though I don't always get the answer I want, I always get an answer.

Anyways back to the jeans- I prayed that I would find ONE pair that I loved. That fit, that weren't too long or too short (are there REALLY that many people who are 5'10 and need jeans a mile long? I am 5'7- not really that short- and I usually were heels with my jeans. It drives me nuts!) Oh- and I was really praying that I wouldn't have to sell my arm to find them. But I was almost willing to!

Can I tell you how much God is into details?
How he hears his children and responds? No matter how big or small their request? Ready for it?.... (imagine drum roll...) I found not one, not two, not even three... but FOUR!!! pairs of jeans that I LOVE. Now I realize I didn't really need four new pairs (well, actually it doesn't hurt since I was down to 1 pair since my dryer ate my other two pairs. thats another story though). However- these jeans were the right size and fit, not too long or too short, (ahem-sound familiar?) but the BEST PART??? I didn't even have to sell my pinky finger let alone my arm! I found the first pair for $20 bucks. Then second and third for $15 each. And the fourth for $3.50. Can you believe that? And to top it all- they were GAP JEANS. I love the Gap. Four pairs of jeans for a grand total of just under $60 bucks after tax.

God is SO into details.
He looked down and said "Guess how much I love you?"... "This much!" When was the last time you asked God for your every need- no matter how big or seemingly unimportant it may be? Do you watch and listen for his answer? Give it a try today- just wait to feel the security of his hug and hear him whisper- I love you this much....

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My Monster Under the Bed

Have you ever had a fear you held so close it nearly suffocated you?

No matter how you tried to shake it off, leave it behind, call it out, kill it... it always came back
?

I've been walking around with my secret fear for years....since 6th grade to be exact.

It used to be an occasional acquaintance, but now we are inseparable. I never leave the house without it.

My fear wakes me in the morning and sends me off to bed... it haunts my every thought.

My fear has many names, though they all amount to the same snare of insecurity and inadequancy. My fear is my monster- shoved underneath the layers of fa├žade, hidden behind the closed doors of my heart.

I first was introduced to my monster-fear in the 6th grade on the soccer field.

"Too bad you haven't lost all your baby-fat yet. Don't worry- you will eventually."

girls in middle school can be so mean

Thats when I first noticed.
I wasn't perfect. I didn't look like her. I didn't fit. I wasn't good enough. From that moment on, I was super-glue. Every comment stuck to me with a death grip that wouldn't loosen.

"Some day you'll have a body like that"
but that someday never came.
"Don't worry, you'll never be that big"
but if I was- would you still love me?
"You just have a bigger frame. You're big boned"
BIG= bad, unwanted, unloved, gross. I therefore am those things
"Some of us just aren't naturally skinny, it's not your fault"
then whose fault is it? Why do I feel like the world is punishing me then?

In 6th grade I made a vow. I will be *that girl (*skinny, tan, long curly hair, dark eyelashes...fill in the blank)
At twelve, I decided to start counting calories. Writing down everything I ate. Sucking my stomach in so hard my back muscles cramped and my guts felt like they'd explode. I stood up straight. all the time. (didn't mama always say that you shouldn't slouch- you looked better straight?) I wore tight tank tops under all my shirts. maybe they'd hide my extra pound. I changed in the bathroom stalls- never in the locker room. I hid every inch I could.

In highschool I transferred schools. I met girls who didn't plot my destruction. Who cared. Who loved me. for me. not my clothing size or brand name. I became closer to my Lord who called me by name and knew my inner most parts. I was content on looking at Him.

Then I met a boy. I thought I was the lucky one. I thought because he picked me, I was special. I thought I was finally that girl I wanted to become so badly. I took my eyes off the Lord and look down. I looked at my reflection. and I sank....

"You'd look really good if you wore this"
if I wear this then he'll love me more
"I used to think you were too tall for me", "At first I thought you had a big nose"
how can I shrink myself and cut off half my nose? always wear flipflops, learn to use makeup to shadow and draw attention away of nose...
"I love that I can fit both hands around your waist and touch my fingers"
if he can't do that anymore, he'll think I'm fat. measure yourself and never forget that number
"You're so hott when you're tan"
he wants me when I'm tan, if I'm wanted- I'm loved

I took every comment, compliment or critique and buried it deeper and deeper, painting its words across the walls of my heart. It wasn't too long before those words defined me. Defined my thinking, my opinions, my decisions.

I felt loved when he noticed my clothes, my hair, my face.
I thought he cared when he made the decisions for me.
I thought he'd love me for me if I said yes.
Yes to that outfit, yes to only his calls, yes to dates every night
yes yes yes.

But I didn't feel loved. I felt trapped. Empty. Worthless.
I could never be that girl. not completely. I couldn't be that beautiful, that skinny, that perfect.
I wasn't in control. and I hated that.
I reverted back to the 6th grade. I wrote down all that I ate. I started with three meals only. then two. then dinner. because my parents watched me eat dinner. then I made excuses. I wasn't hungry. I was tired. I had homework. I already ate.

My brother locked me in the car and demanded to know why. I lied. he knew.
I started drinking juice to fill me up. to stop the embarrassing stomach growl.
I got an stomach ulcer. it felt like I was being stabbed repeatedly in the gut.
but thats how I felt anyways

My parents found out. They watched me eat. I was tempted to induce bulimia (by God's grace I never did). I fell into deeper traps until I finally said no. I broke up with boy. I thought my life was over. I realized I had life back. Jesus called me out of the pit. He gave me grace enough to stand. He healed my wounds.
But I wouldn't let Him heal bitter. I wouldn't let him touch insecurity.
I kept my fear to myself.

College brought new light to my tunnel. I made new friends. Stepped out of my comfort zone. I became a different person. A person I liked. in public and in the confines of my own space.

I met a boy. a friend from the past. I put up a wall, kept him at arms length. I wouldn't go back to that place. that place where I couldn't breath. I wouldn't let myself lose control. I needed control. But this boy was a man of God. He loved me for me. He waited for months and months. I finally realized this man was my own. My missing part to make me whole. I finally told him I loved him too. I also told him I had issues. That I was chipped and broken in places. That though the deepest part of me was only his- my emotions had been spilled out and trampled on before shoved back inside me. He said he loved me anyways.

This man was a soldier. He left for Iraq. He was gone 12 months.

I couldn't control the distance. So I controlled my appetite. I lost 15 lbs. I loved it. I stopped eating again. I lost more. I joined a gym. I lost more. I got a tan. I felt like that girl again. but I felt empty again.

My Soldier came home for R&R and asked me to spend forever with him. I said YES!
I spent the last half of deployment distracting myself with wedding plans. and every single model wearing a wedding dress. No longer was sunkissed good enough- I had to be TAN. I needed that little belly bulge to be nonexistent when I looked down. Armpit chunk? I would cut it off if necessary. Needless to say- I delved into perfectionism.

Perfectionism my friend, is a death trap. It is insecurity in art form. For my own type A personality, I battle (battle as in fight with- I don't know as I've ever WON the battle...)perfectionism every day. On good days my sick pride tricks me into thinking perhaps I've mastered it. On the realistic days I equate my worth to gum on a shoe (ok- so slight exaggeration, I know God created man in his image). all because I can't be perfect. and this makes sense to me?

Well wedding day came and I was far from perfect. But I felt beautiful because My Soldier saw me as beautiful. I felt skinny because I couldn't breath that sucker-inner was reigned innnn!!! I felt tan because I had half-cooked my skin in the tanning beds. I felt noticed. I felt a little more like her (whoever this "perfect" girl is supposed to be).

Ever heard the saying that all things come full circle? or history repeats itself? It did. My cycle kept spinning further and further... Like hundreds of other ladies, I started the pill just before getting married. and it screwed me up. mega time. I became hypoglycemic and started passing out. (Low blood sugar and the whole starving thing, they just don't jive together well). So the doctor suggested switching kinds. and I did. No weird passing out/throwing up trauma. Just weight gain.

As you may have figured- that didn't set with me. A quick 10 lbs gain and I was spinning out of control again. So I flushed the pill. done. I figured- no pill, no weight gain. Starving will set in and I'll see that horrid number decrease again. wrong.

Instead I saw the number increase. Less eating. still gaining. I freaked out.

I went to the doctor. she told me I had an eating disorder. Compulsive eating. aka-binge or starve. In simple terms- I had broken my metabolism and it no longer worked. Though I used to be able to starve for the days following a "bad night" and lose weight- that no longer worked. My body was accustomed to starving periods and rapidly stored intake as fat for the "hibernation mode".

This shocked me into reality. I hadn't realized what profound effect the world's views had on me until I stared at a diagnosis scribbled across lab tests. I had done this to my body. I had in a way created the monster myself.

Admittance and acknowledgment is the first step right?

It's been about three months now and I can honestly say I've made significant ground. I am eating every 4 hours (for the most part) as directed to re-train my body and metabolism. But it's hard. I hate the disgusted feeling of eating while also feeling like the last thing you could possibly want to do is eat.

I thought I was doing great. and then I read this amazing book. And I once again was hit with reality. I may be making efforts to heal my body. But I am doing nothing to heal my soul. my heart. my spirit. I am merely trying to regain that control I love and need so dearly.

Can I share some of my "cringe" moments with you? These moments are the ones in which I realize that I really need God's grace and help. That I'm not at all in control and I have no right to be. These are the moments I look at myself and think- I did I get here? Who is this person I am seeing? Bare with me if they are jumbled, my guts are mush just admitting this to you all....

I've gained 32 lbs in the last year. thirty freakin two. I can barely say that number. I loathe that number. I would like to go to war with that number.

I most likely would have skipped out on graduation commencement if I hadn't known it would break my parents' hearts. The thought of 4000 people staring at me as I walked across the stage really did nearly kill me. I deleted most of the pictures. that moment will never happen again.

I begged my husband to buy an eliptical so I could cancel my gym membership- I never went because I knew people thought I should live there.

The last time I dressed up for my husband I almost passed out because I thought it wasn't good enough. I would have lived in hoodies and jeans if the summer temperatures hadn't come.

I change my order at a drive-through depending on whether a male or female asks for my order. I can't have a sugar calorie drink if a guy is working- I get a nonfat xyz..

Every Sunday morning results in a puddle of tears as I try and find something to wear that doesn't involve baggy t-shirts and jeans.

My most recent meltdowns have resulted from finding the "perfect outfit" for blank occasion:

Last weekend was a womens retreat that our Church hosted. I almost didn't go because I couldn't stand the thought of woman looking at me and the weight I've gained.

A close friend had a pre-wedding bbq and I literally cried the entire hour drive because I knew I'd be the heaviest girl there. I wanted to be that girl again. The one who looks perfect on her man's arm and everyone stops to admire. I'm terrified that he isn't proud to show me off. I'm terrified that others will wonder why he chose me.

Its moments like these that I just wonder what in the heck happened to me? I used to be confident, at least on the outside even if I was falling apart inside. But I started looking around too often, instead of looking up.

Instead of clinging to His word and perfect promises I cling to words of hurt and pain. I focus on statements like these, where my past rushes back in seconds:

"You know that girl that was here- the fat one- a size 8?..."
so if you're talking about a size 8 being fat and I'm a size 12 what does that make me?

"You look like you've been eating a few too many cookies there don't you?"

so a family member was confused and though I was the pregnant niece...but still- if I was that would not be the thing to say!

All these thoughts swarm my head day in and day out. I can never escape them. It's taken over. Taken control. It governs my decisions, my committments, my ambitions, my dreams, my marriage. my friendships. It has invaded and its got to stop. I don't know how. I just know WHO. Jesus is the only answer. He is my only hope. He alone can fix this broken heart and mend my weary soul. There is no other who can restore like He can.


Am I alone in this fight?

Do you wrestle with inadequacy and insecurity?

Are you afraid for the world to see you and not like what they see?

Is your worst fear entangled in lies from the devil?

Do you have a secret fear?

Hi, I am a child of the Most High God.

I was made perfect IN HIS IMAGE.

His grace is sufficient for me.

I am weak.

BUT HE IS STRONG.

I'm starting over with his mercies new each morning.

Will you join me?


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