Faith, Momming

On This Day In History…

It started one year ago today. The darkest, most nightmarish time of my life started one year ago. A joyful trip to the zoo, for the first time as a family of four, resulted in a nauseatingly horrifying intrusive thought that propelled me into months of panic attacks, heavy anxiety, and intrusive thoughts.

I have never been as terrified or felt as broken as I did last summer. My foundation was shaken. I questioned myself, my perception of reality, my future, my faith, and my ability to love and protect my children.

When the intrusive thoughts first began, I remember wondering if I was suffering from postpartum psychosis. When I finally did some research, I quickly realized my symptoms matched the symptoms of postpartum OCD. Postpartum OCD can involve intrusive thoughts about harming your children. A few of the people I spoke to about my thoughts said they’d had similar thoughts in the past, but quickly shrugged them off, while I was horrified by them and couldn’t shrug them off. I felt like such a horrible person that the thoughts remained at the forefront of my mind, taunting and terrifying me. The fear of what I was capable of triggered thoughts of ending my life before I might act on the intrusive thoughts and harm the children I adored.

One night, as the thoughts and anxiety were intensifying, I cried to Thad, “I don’t understand why this is happening. I am so happy right now. I love my life.” I had just gone through postpartum hypertension in the days after my daughter was born. While I waited for my blood pressure to return to a normal level, I had been terrified that I would have a stroke and die. Who would love my children as much as I did if I died? I didn’t want to die. My experience only two months earlier made that crystal clear.

One year later, I’ve gone through therapy. I’ve been on medication. I’ve learned to fight the intrusive, lying thoughts with truth. I’ve seen just how blessed I am with an amazing support system. I’ve learned the power of having a mind fixed on God and filled with His Word. I’ve also gained a level of empathy and understanding for those who suffer from mental illness that I did not have before.

Looking back on the darkness that began a year ago makes me want to cry. I’m a million times better than I was, but I’m not completely back to normal. I don’t know if I ever will be. I have scars that weren’t there before. I am fully confident that God can redeem my nightmare, and make my scars into a story worth sharing.

One of the ways He redeems my story is in its sharing, because when I share it, others can see that there is hope. Life can be so much better. The nightmare can give way to dawn.

If you are struggling with postpartum mental illness, please reach out for help. I know it’s scary. I know it’s uncharted territory. But there is hope. You are not alone. Reach out to your doctor or midwife. Find a therapist you trust. Don’t give up. Keep fighting.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. #BreakTheStigma


Life Behind a Mask

I did it. I wore a mask. For the first time, I didn’t just try it on or wear it while sanding or staining wood, I wore a mask in a store. It wasn’t weird in the way I thought it would be. I had seen a couple of people wearing masks in TJ Maxx while shopping with my aunt on March 12th, the night I first realized things were changing in my world. I wondered if the mask wearers were sick or were trying to avoid becoming sick—whatever their reason for wearing masks, they stood out, and I stood as far away from them as I could.

Fast forward to last weekend, when I wore a mask for the first time (and went inside of a store for the first time since in a couple of weeks). I didn’t feel awkward or like I stood out. There were plenty of other people wearing masks; it’s been normalized it the past month and a half. What struck me was almost the opposite: a feeling of being unseen.

With a mask on, no one could tell if I was smiling as they passed. No one could tell if I was annoyed or unbothered as they apologized or excused themselves for walking in front of me. My mask caused me to feel hidden.

While being isolated in our homes, we are also encouraged to wear masks that isolate us in public. Maybe, all of this, the mask wearing, the staying at home, the uncertainty, the loss of income, and problems with your marriage that are being exasperated by the increased togetherness and stress, maybe it’s causing you to feel unseen by everyone. Even God.

In Genesis 16, Hagar had been placed in situation that was…uncomfortable, to say the least. God had promised a child to Abram (AKA Abraham), but because he and his wife, Sarai (AKA Sarah), were old, Sarai took it upon herself to bring God’s promise to pass. Apparently, no one told Sarai that “God helps those who help themselves” was made popular by Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac, and not God’s Word.

Sarai’s plan was to give her servant, Hagar, to Abram so that Hagar could be a sort of surrogate mother. Once Hagar conceived, Sarai began to mistreat Hagar, so Hagar ran away. While she was running, she was found. Not by Abram or Sarai, but by God.

The angel of the Lord called her by name, instructed her to return and submit to Sarai, and then named her son and promised her descendants too numerous to count. This woman, caught in the middle of someone else’s distrust of God and His promises, was seen. She was Sarai’s maidservant, but she was more than that. She was seen. She was seen by a God who had a plan for her.

Because of her experience in the wilderness, she gave God a name: El Roi. It means “The God who sees me”.

In Psalm 139, David wrote, about being seen, known, and created by God. “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely…My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!” (Psalm 139:1-4, 13-17 NIV)

God doesn’t change. He is still El Roi.

In 2020, we are in a situation we didn’t choose to be in, and like Hagar we are still seen. You are still seen.

Like David, we can take comfort in God’s presence with us and knowledge of us, and we can praise Him for being a God who is present and who sees us.


Why a Trip to Home Depot Made Me Cry

I needed seeds and tomato cages for the raised bed my husband just built for me. I also had dreams of another smaller raised bed filled with strawberries, so I also wanted to look at the strawberry plants.

My husband went into the store first while I waited in the van with our toddlers. When he got back, I excitedly headed towards the store. Upon reaching the door, I was stopped and told I had to enter through the other door—the door I had made a mental note to go through, the door I thought I was heading towards. They also said they’d be closing in 5 minutes. When I entered the store, through the other door, I was again told they’d be closing in 5 minutes.

I hurriedly grabbed my seeds and headed to the garden center to look for tomato cages. After going up and down the aisles, I spotted them. Outside. The gates to the outside were all closed. I walked to the self-checkout, paid for my seeds, and walked to the van feeling embarrassed, flustered, frustrated, and defeated.

If you know me, even casually, you probably know I am a rule follower. I read instruction manuals, employee handbooks, insurance policy info, and I’ve perused the latest executive orders, stay at home orders, and FAQs. I like to know what’s expected of me. I like to be prepared. I like to follow the rules and stay in the lines.

My experience at Home Depot made me long for the comforts of normal, for a world in which the rules aren’t changing every few days, for security, for ease in running errands, for the ability to bring my toddlers into the store with me, for the option of what door makes the most sense to enter through—for normal life. And while we’re at it, a trip to the zoo with friends or getting to sit around a table with my Monday night Bible study ladies or a road trip to visit my family would be fabulous. 💁🏻‍♀️

As uncomfortable and uncertain as things are currently, I need to remind myself that this is a season. Just as there are literal seasons that I’m not overly fond of (ahem, winter and late fall after the trees are bare), this is a season I’m not partial to. Just like winter eventually turns to spring, full of life and color, this season will also end, and life will again spring up and blossom all around us.

Take heart, this season will pass, and it will be “a time to embrace” again.

“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven— A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NASB


Cleaning Interrupted

It’s the babies’ nap time, which means Thad and I are free to clean up the messes they’ve made without interruption. I decided to turn on the Dwell app and listen to the Bible as I work.

Some passages in the Bible make me want to weep. The passage I’m on in my listening plan was one of those passages. My eyes filled with tears, and I had to take a break from my cleaning. I listened to this same passage less than a month ago, and I had the same response. It is Exodus 32.

In this chapter, Moses has been up on Mount Sinai for forty days and forty nights. God has given him laws, instructions for the tabernacle, instructions for consecrating the priests, and instructions for the sabbath. He has told Moses how the people needed to live as His covenant people, a people set apart. God ends His time with Moses by saying, “Go down at once, for your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. They have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it and have sacrificed to it and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!’ ” ‭‭(Exodus‬ ‭32:7-8‬)‬‬

God mentions destroying the people and making a great nation out of Moses; however, Moses pleads with God to remember His covenant with Abraham, and God relents. Moses descends the mountain and finds the people dancing and celebrating before their golden calf.

This passage is painful to read because of the people’s blatant rejection of the God who delivered them from Egypt, led them to walk through the Red Sea on dry ground, and who had made Himself and His power known to them through the plagues in Egypt, while sparing the people of Israel, His people. They created and worshipped a golden calf all because Moses took longer than they thought he was going to. They were impatient and uncomfortable.

It’s heartbreaking.

And yet, I’m afraid I see a form of this in my own life. In times of uncertainty, discomfort, and boredom, (eg., a pandemic with stay-at-home orders), I often find myself looking for distraction and something to occupy my thoughts and time with. My screen time is up.

Instead of turning to God, drawing near to Him in confidence because I know He’s never abandoned me before, and resting in His peace, I’m quick to pick up my phone and look for the funny Coronavirus memes or the latest numbers or newest guidelines. I allow my phone to become a source of numbness for my discomfort and impatience, and in doing so, I create an idol.

What about you? Are you resting and pursuing God or are you numbing out and pursuing distraction—whether it be social media, news outlets, home projects, or Netflix?

Let’s seek God in this time of having our schedules cleared. Let’s wait and watch for His hand. Let’s encourage one another and keep each other accountable (from a distance!) to remain near to God and in His Word.




The Struggle is Real

• The servers who are suddenly without jobs, they’re struggling

• The nurse who doesn’t have PPE in the midst of a pandemic, she’s struggling.

• The college student whose college has moved online, he’s struggling.

• The senior whose senior year has been cut short, she’s struggling.

• The engaged couple now indefinitely hours apart, they’re struggling.

• The stay at home mom whose life hasn’t seemed to change much to you, she’s struggling.

• The working mom who has become a work from home mom while her kids are out of school, she’s struggling.

• The grandparents who don’t know when they’ll get to see their grandchildren again, they’re struggling.

• The man in sales at a time when no one is buying anything but toilet paper, he’s struggling.

• The parents whose kids may not be able to come home after being out of the country for two years, they’re struggling.

• The pastors and leaders who suddenly have to navigate closures and online church, they’re struggling.

• The stylist whose shop has just had to close, she’s struggling.

• The nurse who has to work while her kids’ school has closed, she’s struggling.

• The senior citizens who are told they shouldn’t go to the store, yet they can’t figure out grocery pick up or get their whole order even once it’s been placed, they’re struggling.

• The wife whose husband’s National Guard unit just got activated, she’s struggling.

• The person who keeps buying toilet paper, even though they have 200 rolls at home already, they’re struggling.

• The parents who can’t find wet wipes or diapers, they’re struggling.

These are just some of the things my friends and family are facing. It’s a lot.

Real talk: I’ve been struggling today. I’ve had a few break downs today. I’m feeling overwhelmed, worn out, alone, restless, impatient, frustrated, fearful, purposeless, unwanted, and defeated.

We are all struggling. We are all in this together in this aloneness.

This season will not last.

Let’s give each other grace. Let’s encourage each other. Let’s support each other. Let’s ease burdens. Let’s pray for each other. Let’s lean into Jesus.

Please let me know if I can pray for you!