Faith

Paradigm Shift

“Who is this Black woman wearing blue lipstick and clothes that don’t match? Don’t worry-I’m just as perplexed as you are as to why I’m standing here, but hey. Let’s trust that Rachel and Sarah knew what they were doing when they signed y’all up for this.“

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I served and took communion for the first time in 7 years yesterday at the Evolving Faith conference in Montreat, NC. That’s how comfortable and affirmed I felt being in that space with Christians who are actually...well the Christians I’ve desired to have connections with, but didn’t believe existed anymore. 

I got on stage and told the crowd that I could feel the presence of my great grandmother and Prince there with me too. I told the audience I have conversations with them. That I have an altar in my house. That I honor my dead. Use candles with my prayers, as well as set intentions and manifest what I want to see develop within myself, family, work, and life. That I reclaimed and learned how to listen to my intuition by practicing tarot. That I have friends who worship Orishas, do root work, who are Hindu and Buddhist, who celebrate Samhain and solstice, and am married to a man who is a futurist and desires to be preserved by cryonics upon his death. That I read my horoscope according to my natal chart, follow the planet’s transits throughout the sky, and the monthly cycle of the moon. That I believe in energy work. That painting is a form of divination for me. That I am married to a cis man and am in a heteronormative relationship but I am also queer. That my children are neurodiverse, I use people first language, and I have a responsibility to advocate for and equip them to move within a world that is not inclusive, but not to change them-they are whole beings, not broken. That I was abused as a child and sexually assaulted as a teen & young adult. 

I dropped a few f-bombs. Told them to face themselves. To abandon the frameworks and constructs they’ve built through conditioning, experience, and trauma over the years in  exchange for whole living. To burn shit down. To open themselves to exploration and curiosity. Told the POC especially to study, connect, and expand their faith to be inclusive of spiritual practices and tools rooted within their own cultures. That they might be hurting and weary but the only thing fragile about them-about all of us-is our ego. That if I can withstand this moment with all I’m carrying, they can too. 

The response was unexpectedly positive. It knocked my ego on its ass, because I walked into this experience thinking I couldn’t possibly connect to what was happening because I’ve spent the last 7 years deliberately removed from this...culture. From the institution. From a faith I no longer recognize or live out as I used to. That I question and reject for its racism, misogyny, sexism, patriarchy, oppression, bigotry, phobias, erasure, and violence.  I walked into it cynical, thinking I’d be pilloried. Instead I was embraced. Thanked. Seen. Heard. Respected. 

The fact that I was able to serve in this capacity alongside scholars, artists, writers, pastors, activists, and thought leaders I learned from and admired heavily in the past and even from afar over the last 7 years, was the icing on the cake. It was humbling. 

It helped my spirit heal in ways I didn’t realize were needed. It released me to continue expanding and moving forward in my spiritual development. I hope I continue to learn from it in the months & years ahead. 

Easter 2016

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My Easter reflection this year comes from Rev. Broderick Greer. It is honestly one of the best messages about faith and the Resurrection I've ever read/heard, and I don't say that lightly or because he's a leader and teacher I follow. It's a message I desperately needed today, and perhaps you do as well. 

   "Resurrection does not happen outside of death, suffering, and trauma, but in the middle of it. In a world still marred by sexual, racial, gender, and economic violence. A world in which our loved ones still die. A world in which the middle and working classes are being forced out of their neighborhoods at alarming rates.

A world in which - without a moment’s notice - terrorists disrupt workaday life in places like Brussels, Paris, and Charleston, South Carolina. Easter isn’t the erasing of our individual and collective traumas, but the gathering of our glooms and transformation of our traumas. It is God staring us in the eyes and saying, “Death, oppression, and grief are real and so are joy, love, and resurrection.” 

Read the rest: "Fire, Water, Bread, and Wine" 

Happy Easter, friends. 

I Will Bloom Where I'm Planted

A couple of summers ago, Bertski & I took the boys to the Grounds for Sculpture garden up in Hamilton, New Jersey. It's an expansive garden full of lush vegetation, intriguing contemporary art, and some amazingly creative sculptures. Camera in hand, I was inspired to snap away while Bertski & Brennan ran around exploring and Alex slept in the stroller. I took close to a thousand pictures that day, so many different aspects of the garden captured my attention. My favorite part of the whole trip is evidenced by the large number of pictures I took of a pond in the corner of the garden....it was full of  some of the prettiest flowers I had ever seen, I couldn't take my eyes (or my camera) off of them. They were tall, with long, strong-looking and thick stems that seemed to push them straight up out of the water and above the surface...boldly standing out from the lily pads and thrushes that surrounded them. Their petals seemed to unfurl as they bent themselves back and curved their way up toward the sun, leaving their innermost part, their circular seed pods, exposed to the sun, wind, and eyes of the world around them.

I'm quite illiterate when it comes to plants & flowers, so I had no idea what they were until I did a google search later that night. I had no idea that what I learned about lotus flowers that night would wake me up two years later, shouting at me to pay attention to an important life lesson.

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You see lotus flowers are gorgeous. As they stretch themselves up and over the water, your eyes gaze upon the beauty and unique design of each one-whether they're in full blossom or just starting to open up. What you don't see, are the conditions they grow in. Lotus flowers are admired and loved because they can grow in the darkest and harshest of conditions and survive. Despite having to grow in a less than ideal environment, these flowers thrive and bloom where they are planted.

Bloom where you are planted....

I woke up with that thought and this information about lotus flowers shouting in my head this morning. As I laid there trying to understand why today of all days this was on my mind, it occurred to me that it's June 1st.

A new month. New season. 6 months until a new year arrives (can you believe it?! ) and 5 months until I turn the dreaded 30.

Or do I have to dread turning 30? Let's go over this again: new month, new season, half of the year left, and 5 months away from having lived 30 years on this Earth.

30 years. Of pain. Of abuse. Of brokenness. Of not knowing or understanding who I am, of living my life under the rule and control of others and their expectations, their standards. Of living my life based on the opinions of others, trying like hell to please them because I thought I needed their approval. Of having my life dictated by circumstance instead of choice.

30 years. Of heartache. Of shame. Of disappointment. Of misplaced guilt. Of misguided decisions. Of regret. Of loss. Of hating myself. Of wishing I could be like the women I secretly envy. Of compromise. Of insecurity. Of lacking confidence and believing the words of those who said I'd die or they'd kill me before I made it to becoming anything of worth and value. Of illness. Of excuses.

30 years. As I laid in my bed this morning I made a choice.

"I will not spend the next 30 years of my life like I have the first. I won't spend the next 5 months like I have. No I won't.

I've been through a lot of things in my first 29 years of living. I've had to see and endure things no one should, and yet I'm still here, I didn't have it as bad as others. People have looked at my history and expected me to be a drug addict, an alcoholic, or dead. My psychiatrist says the fact that I only have a mental illness as a result of my genetics and trauma is something to be grateful for....and as illogical as it sounds, she's right and I am. It's not ideal, and I don't like it, but in the grand scheme of things, I could be far worse off than I actually am and that's nothing but a testament to how graceful God truly is.

30 years. I can't change how the first 29 1/2 years of my life have gone. I can't do anything about the darkness I've had to live in, or change the fact that I have to live with a darkness from an illness that threatens my well being daily.

But I can make a choice to grow above and beyond the environment I was forced to grow in up until this point. I can choose to live above and beyond the dark, murky waters of the last 29 1/2 years. I can choose to let go and push past. I can decide to stand tall like a lotus flower and bloom for others to see. I can choose to use the environment I've grown in to reveal what lies within my innermost parts-a woman with an authentic, compassionate, and whole heart to connect with others who are hurting and struggling to make it out of their own dark waters.

Yes. I can choose to let it all go and break forth and embark upon the next 30 years with fresh determination to live my life and not just survive it.

Today I'm choosing to bloom right where I've been planted. My beauty may have been broken by what happened beneath the surface, but my hope is that it brings something out of me that encourages and inspires others to reach toward the sun, like I am.

Beautifully Broken: A Much Needed Reminder

May God help me...I've done a vlog y'all. ugh....

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Lyrics to "Never Let Go"

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death Your perfect love is casting out fear And even when I'm caught in the middle of the storms of this life I won't turn back I know you are near

And I will fear no evil For my God is with me And if my God is with me Whom then shall I fear? Whom then shall I fear? (Chorus:) Oh no, You never let go Through the calm and through the storm Oh no, You never let go In every high and every low Oh no, You never let go Lord, You never let go of me

And I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on A glorious light beyond all compare And there will be an end to these troubles But until that day comes We'll live to know You here on the earth

(Chorus)

Yes, I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on And there will be an end to these troubles But until that day comes Still I will praise You, still I will praise You

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You & Me: Carrot, Egg, or Coffee Bean?

Handling Adversity, Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean? A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots. In the second, she placed eggs and the last one, she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word. In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what you see?”

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied. She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted they got soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, “What’s the point, mom?”

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity–the boiling water–but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its insides became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.

“Which one are you?” she asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

Think of this: Which am I?

Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?

Or am I like a coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate to another level?

How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

~ Author Unknown

I found this posted on Exceptional Living's Facebook page and after the week & therapy sessions I had, I found this very appropriate to share & reflect upon today. 

So what are you? Carrot, Egg, or Coffee Bean?

I've been trying with all my might to break the cycle in my family & in my subcultures (African Amercian & Christian) and be a Coffee Bean.....more on this in the next post....

A Brief Manifesto

"Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself" - Harvey Fierstein. Move from being a victim to a victor. Own your story and share it. Be authentic, live wholehearted. Do not allow your circumstances or pain from the past or present define you. Don't let a mood disorder define who you are. Define yourself in truth, in God's truth...come to know who He says you are and let that be the foundation upon which you build your identity, let it become the lens through which you see yourself. Your beautiful, worthy, and loved self.

I challenge you to read these words and whatever else comes to your heart in front of a mirror, looking yourself directly in the eye as you say each word. I did. Difficult but empowering to say the least....if you do it, feel free to share how you felt and the impact, if any this had on you.

Shine.....So I Can See You

My prayer as I start this week.......

(and can I just say how much I freakin LOVE DCB?!!!!!)

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And the promise I'm holding on to as I go into my week...holding on to this knowledge with a white knuckled grip....

(and yes, my music crush on John Mark McMillian is super fierce)

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On Beat Up Faith, Re-Focusing My Gaze, & Resetting My Mind

So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective. Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you'll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.

This scripture jumped out from behind some corner of my mind this morning while I was trying to sleep, which led to the following confession:

My faith is taking a beating.

The events of this summer have left me asking God about 5 million questions. Some I've received answers to, others I have not.  And I am yet sure that there are still even more that I won't get the answers to-at least not in this lifetime....and I'm learning to be okay with that, because since God knows me better than I know myself, He already knows that as strong as I might try to make myself appear, I probably wouldn't be able to handle the reality of those answers. At least not right now, and like I said, maybe not in this lifetime. So they're left hidden from me, and He leaves them unanswered.....

My faith is taking a beating, but not in the sense that I'm giving up on it. Or Him. Unlike what I went through last summer, where I questioned this thing called Christianity, I'm not in a spiritual crisis, I'm not rejecting Him or what I believe to be true...I'm not in a state of doubt....at least not about Him being my Father & Jesus being my Savior. What I am questioning, what I am doubting (a little) is this place I'm in. I feel like I've been relocated. A couple of months ago He told me on the altar that I've turned the page into a new chapter in my life, but just as soon as those words gave me some peace, some hope, and I was starting to feel like things were settling, the ground I had been standing on....shifted. Drastically. Changed.And left in the aftermath of the quake were some things I knew without a shadow of a doubt would sustain the shaking and then there were others that had fallen, left completely dismantled from it's sheer force....leaving me to wander among the rubble, wondering if they ever really belonged there in the first place....wondering if what had been erected in my life over the past couple of years was built up out of my own selfishness, my own desires, the consequences of my own mistakes....or placed there by Him. Had I been holding onto and fighting to protect things & people that didn't belong in my life? Had I been hearing wrong, those things I thought He told me in secret? Those promises that I had been holding so close and so tight to my heart-were they born out of His plan for my life or my plan for me? Or are they a part of the plan, but I sabotaged them somehow because I have a hard time giving up control?  If I was wrong, and had been erecting buildings out of my own selfish desires or because I was too afraid to just let Him do the work, then I understand why the earthquake came. I get it. I understand why some have fallen away and what remains has stood strong. Afterall, the bible says, "Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain." (Psa 127:1) But if I wasn't wrong....and if this is all somehow part of the plan, how things should  be going....then I don't understand, and that is why I am having some doubt.

So yea my faith-it's taking a beating. It's being stretched and pushed and pulled in every direction, causing everything in me to strain & bulge from the pressure, pushing me to go deeper, stretch out further and reach out to Him in response. And as painful as it is, I don't mind really. Because I believe that despite the pain that can accompany it, growth is necessary, especially when it comes to faith. Maybe that's what it maybe that's what it means to go from "faith to faith, & glory to glory?"  Perhaps.....So even though I don't understand some things, right now, faith in Him is what I'm holding on to.

The hard part about standing in the rubble though, with beat up faith, in this new, unfamiliar place I don't recognize is that I don't know who to trust, who to confide in on a human level. I've learned the past 8 months and pretty much my whole life that people don't like mess, and they can take but only so much of it, for varying reasons, all of which I understand and don't blame them for. I know first hand how going out of your comfort zone can take a lot out of you, making you uncomfortable and uneasy. Dealing with others & their "stuff" is icky, especially if you have your own "stuff" to deal with.  But as Christians, aren't we supposed to bear one another up? Aren't we supposed to be loyal to one another, even when it's tough, when it's messy? I have, over the past months had a handful of people who have stuck it out and waded through the muck & mire of my "stuff" with me. I've also had amazing support from an online community of Mamas who are always a tweet, FB post, or direct message away. And I can't even put into words how grateful I am for them-for all of those who have chosen to remain close inspite of my "messiness".  But I've also had others who have backed off, walked away, stopped calling, texting, have pretty much stopped being my "friend." I'm sure they have their reasons, and I don't blame them. But that doesn't change the fact that it hurts. It doesn't make the loneliness I feel any easier to bear, especially during the moments when I feel as though I'm losing it, or now that I've been diagnosed with something that freaks me out to a degree. Maybe being a Christian and having a mood disorder or being bipolar isn't a that big of a deal. But if it isn't, then why aren't more people in the church talking about it? Why don't Christians reach out to those who are suffering from such things? Shouldn't the response be different? On a human level, I understand the desire to retreat for self-preservation purposes, but on a spiritual level, I'm struggling to grasp how that can even be an option.

So while the beating my faith is taking isn't making me retreat from God, it is making me retreat from people. From Christians. From church. For the reason I mentioned above and for others as well that involve some shame and embarrassment about the things that have happened this summer. Even from my family. People's responses or lack thereof just leaves me pretty uncomfortable & gun shy. I don't know what to say when they ask "how are you? what's going on?" , because quite frankly I have a hard time believing they really want to know. Or even need to know. Or should know. I have a hard time believing that if I do tell them they can handle it. From what I've seen so far, most can't, it's too much for them to bear....so....I retreat.

And I'm starting to welcome the retreat because the lesson I'm learning through all of this is that I've got to rely less on people and more on God. I've been letting what's happened & the actions of people get under my skin & cloud my vision.  I've got to refocus my gaze, stop paying attention to how beat up I'm feeling, how freaked out I am about some things, how lonely I am & how hurt I feel & just focus on what's above the clouds in my skies-Him....His purpose for me....my kids....my health, my goals...I've got to take some time & work on me. Let Him work on me. I need some time to find the treasures He's got laying in the darkness I'm fumbling in. (And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness—secret riches.I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord,the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name." Isa. 45:3)

That's why I'm glad I'm in a new apartment, gearing up for another semester at a new school. One with an environment that I know will challenge & stimulate this growing process I'm in.  I'm glad I'm "away" in a sense. Glad I made some tough choices to let go of some responsibilities (ie no more consulting).

So I'm hoping that being in this new place, despite it unfamiliarity & despite how beat up I'm feeling affords me the chance to push the reset button on my mind, & help me zero in again on what's important.

Here's to looking up and seeing the bigger, more beautiful picture He's painting of my life. Here's to taking the beating.

Clarity on Being Diagnosed with BPD2

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Clarity.

That's what I've had since I walked into the hospital 3 weeks ago and asked-no begged-for help. For relief.

Clarity.

Like a seed planted in the earth it began to grow roots in me as soon as the intake psych began to describe this thing called Bipolar Disorder 2. Each word he spoke, every word I've read about it since, every conversation I've had with my ex, every memory that's risen to the surface since has been like water & fertilizer nourishing it to grow & sprout, leaving me in a reflective state of mind.

Clarity.

It's amazing how liberating and terrifying validation can be. How hearing someone tell you that yes, what you've been experiencing is REAL and yes it's treatable. but being terrified about what it all means. Medication isn't a cure, but will I have to be on it for the rest of my life? How long will it take to find the right cocktail that keeps me off the roller coaster ride? Will the wrong one, the wrong dosage trigger a hypomanic phase or push me into the steep waters of mania? Yes. Finally. An answer. Yes, OMG this answer makes so much sense. But OMG in hindsight I see myself at 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, and now 28 exhibiting the symptoms I've read & been told so much about. OMG...I need help. Real help.

Clarity.

I look back 2 1/2 years ago and see now what triggered this latest bout with what my psych calls manic depression. At first I thought I was just dissatisfied with my life, my circumstances. And I was. But I just told myself to shake it off...but I couldn't. I was having trouble concentrating. So much so that I couldn't work. Didn't want to take care of my son. Couldn't think clearly. Couldn't make a decision. Hazy...I remember things being hazy when it started. Then my cousin died tragically on my mom's birthday, the only day in my life where I've ever seen her completely free from worry and consumed with happiness....and waking up to her sobs the next morning as she heard the news set a whole series of things in motion that deepened the depression. Thinking that it was somehow PMS related, I went to my OB. He suggested birth control, exercise, change my diet. I tried those things....when I had the energy. When I had the motivation or when my focus wasn't so hazy. It wasn't often.Most days I just wanted to sit perfectly still or lie curled up in a ball-alone. I sunk deeper into this gravity well, not knowing what was wrong but knowing I wasn't myself. I botched my semester of school that spring. I ended a relationship/friendship with someone I knew I wasn't going to be happy with, and I was tired of pretending to believe in "us."  A month after I went on a casual date, just to feel somewhat human again, and a month later I found out I was pregnant. Again. Which threw me right back into the gravity well I had been emerging from. I had moments of happiness or moments of "being ok" during my pregnancy. But for the majority of it I was in hell. Once I got over the guilt of having another child out of wedlock, the physical complications I experienced dragged me back down. I cycled between being depressed, immobilized on my couch to raging and screaming at my ex because I felt he was judging me for being this, this blob of a person...or didn't like what I made for dinner. Didn't matter. If we argued it usually involved me either walking away or exploding with rage I'd never felt before. Hot, boiling, seething, lava-like rage that left me wondering what kind of person I was turning into.  So I cycled between that, and working myself into a whirlwind frenzy, never able to sit still or sit down. I'd be amazingly productive, full of ideas & projects I wanted to start....and then would lose the energy to follow through. I'd clean. I mean clean, clean, clean. I called it nesting, my ex called it obsessive, we both agreed it might be a problem if it continued after the baby was born. It did. I obsessed. With everything. Alex had reflux the first 3 months of his life and I obsessed over & bought every product possible that might help him....and keep me from losing my sanity because I didn't know what to do to comfort him. Meet his needs. So I would snap, scream, yell, in my closet alone, or in front of Brennan when he spilled something or asked me the same question twice in a row. I felt detached from my baby. I was beyond fatigued. So I went back to the OB. He gave me Zoloft-said it would help with the depression, PPD symptoms I was having, help take the edge off. Well, it lifted the depression, but increased the intensity of the edginess. I'm talking INTENSE anxiety. I'd have a perfect day with my family. And be so angry come night time I wouldn't even be able to utter a word or explain why I felt so....so....like I could smash someone's face in. So the anxiety would trigger anger, which would trigger guilt, which would trigger depression and then out of nowhere I'd have a day or two where I was normal. Me. And then it would start all over again. Sometimes several times in one day. Some of it I blamed on the ambiguity & spiritual conflicts I was having with my relationship. Most of it though, I knew in my gut that something was wrong with me. But everyone I talked to about it,(therapists and pastors included) said it was normal. I was a single parent with an ambiguous relationship going to school full-time with two kids under the age of 5-IT WAS NORMAL.  So....I took that for awhile. I put on the "nothing's wrong with me, I just need to change my circumstances" t-shirt and tightened up my bootstraps.

Clarity.

But screaming at Brennan and feeling the urge to hit him when he spilled something on the floor wasn't normal. Hiding in the bathroom or in my closet because I was afraid of  the intensity of my emotions & my kids wasn't normal. Being resentful of my ex and my baby and even myself might have been normal to a degree but the anger and rage that came from it wasn't. In February my ex and I broke up for the 2nd time and I wanted to kill myself. Not just because of the torturous pain of the break up or because I wanted to actually die.I wanted to live. Just not like this. I just wanted relief. I hated myself. I hated the mother I was. I hated how I was treating myself and my sons. I hated how I had treated my ex, my best friend. I hated the lack of control I was feeling. Not being able to control certain things happening in your life is one thing. But not being able to control your own emotions, not understanding what's going on within you, but doing everything you could to address it-working out, taking meds, doing group therapy sessions, going to church, praying-and STILL not being able to find relief? STILL euphoric & amazingly on fire one day and then curled up in bed the next, physically unable to move, the only thing stirring you from your catatonic state the needs & demands of your children? I couldn't take it. I wanted out. I sat for many nights during February & March with my door closed and a knife in my hand after I had put the boys to bed, trying to find the courage somewhere to just do it. But thinking of my boys always kept me from it. Who would take care of them? I couldn't do that to them. So instead I would just scream into a pillow to stifle my anguish & rage so they wouldn't hear me.

Clarity.

Things got better for awhile. And by things I mean my circumstances.I started therapy sessions at the Postpartum Stress Center, which helped me learn some ways to cope with my lack of enjoyment with motherhood. I found out I could graduate. I got accepted to the school I wanted. I realized I loved social media but helping others is what I was really passionate about so I switched my major. My ex and I got back together. We started making plans.I started running again. Lost 15 pounds but gained it back. I started having some health issues with my rambunctious ovaries and wacky thyroid. But ultimately, even though things were going well my anxiety was sky high. Sweats. Difficulty swallowing. Fatigue.  Edginess. Irritability. But then euphoric feelings of accomplishment on days I accomplished my to-do lists with a flourish. And then back to the edginess.Irritability. The screaming. Only I was more aware of it now. More focused on trying to control it. More self-aware. But I still couldn't grasp ahold of it like I needed to. I had to stop therapy. I graduated. I set out to have an enjoyable summer with my boys. But I couldn't shake the days of feeling on top of the world and then feeling like I was in the darkness of hell. I couldn't quiet the thoughts that raced through my mind nonstop and often spilled out at a rapid pace when I talked to people, namely my ex. My mind couldn't be quiet and hadn't for months. Concentration? Forget it. I went back to my doc who put me on Lexapro for the anxiety.

Clarity.

3 weeks ago the thoughts became worse. The racing, frantic pace of them. The hopelessness. The feeling like I just couldn't handle it anymore. The sinking feeling in my gut that told me if I kept going I was going to end up losing myself to the madness. Losing my kids. And then there were the thoughts again. Of killing myself. Because I was tired of suffering and I wasn't sure if God was hearing me beg for relief.

Clarity.

I got it when I walked into the hospital and sat down at the desk in the behavioral health clinic. Reading and being told what my symptoms mean has opened a flood gate of memories from the past 10 years,helping me to understand that after going through what I went through as a child, and after suffering from depression, and dealing with that and anxiety after my last pregnancy, a diagnosis like this only makes sense. Finding out that taking an antidepressant can trigger a rapid cycling of BPD2 symptoms has helped me make sense of the past 9 mos, cause that's what it's been. Swinging from one mood to the other, often without rhyme or reason.

Clarity.

It's helped me understand that despite whatever regular relationship issues we've had, my illness the past 2 years has taken a toll on my ex and he just can't be with me. He can be my friend. But he can't be my partner. My husband. It's taken too much out of him, and I don't blame him. It hurts like hell, don't get it twisted and I feel abandoned in a sense, but I get it. I don't want to be with me either.

Clarity.

This has changed my perspective on a lot of things-my faith, my relationships with people, my kids, myself as a Mama, ME. I don't have all the answers but just getting this one has set me on the path to finding them. To learning more about myself. To learning more about God and what it means to be bipolar & a Christian.

Clarity.

I'm glad I grabbed ahold of it before it was too late.

Making Lemonade Without Sugar Having Joy Without a Reason

Soooooooooo as if the current pile of stress in my life couldn't get any heavier or wackier, it just did this morning. On the first day of a very crucial "I'm praying and hoping things I need to work out, work out" kind of week. The day after God told me, "Hey, I got this-just do what you can and I'll do the rest. No worries. Just trust me kid." The day after a much needed 2 day break from my boys that left me feeling relaxed, and ready to get back in the ring. And then....another ingredient was added to the stew, another brick on the load added to see if I'm going to let the pot boil over, or buckle under the weight. Well guess what, LIFE? I'M NOT. (And yes, my hands are on my hips and I'm sticking my tongue out at you)

I have no internet so I can't work, no car so I can't drive, and the little money I have is for emergencies, not fun. The Earth and the Sun have launched their evil plan to scorch and choke us to death with heat and humidity, so going outside might not be an option. And I'm moving this weekend.

That's a lot of lemons folks. Enough to make your mouth pucker. But I vowed to myself that the boys and I were going to have a good summer, one that we enjoyed before I got back into the full-time student grind this fall. It hasn't gone the way I planned or thought it would, it hasn't been what I expected. But I see how through it all He's been teaching me the difference between happiness and being joyful, and how to pursue the latter inspite of the circumstances.

So, I'm just going to take this latest round of events as a chance to just take a little vacation and focus on joy. A vacation. In my apartment. From everything. No internet & no Facebook, Google +, & Twitter on the Blackberry. Not even the Bible on my Blackberry. Not even blogging. Maybe a phone call, maybe a text here or there, but that's it. I'm going to spend the week finding a way to keep two wild boys occupied, writing/journaling, reading, building forts, coloring and creating some meals on a serious shoestring budget.

I'm going to make the best tasting lemonade EVER this week. It won't be easy to sweeten without any sugar, but I'm sure He'll show me a way. So, I hope you all enJOY your week, try your best to keep the heat from evaporating you, and are productive in whatever it is you do in your corners of the world.

As for me and my house-we on vacation ya'll. Blog you next week! ;)

“Even if the fig tree does not bloom and the vines have no grapes, even if the olive tree fails to produce and the fields yield no food, even if the sheep pen is empty and the stalls have no cattle — even then, I will be happy with the Lord. I will truly find joy in God, who saves me.” Habakkuk 3:17-18

addyeB

My Boy's Love Gives My Faith a Powerboost

Confession: If you've been reading my posts the past month then you know things have been rocky in my little corner over here. So, that means I've been crying a lot as a result. Smiling. Laughing. Clenching my jaw and trying to find comfort in the discomfort. But there are times when I just can't hold back the waters-my levees break and I cry. I'm talking snot filled, hand wringing, fist clenching, wailing into a pillow to muffle the sobs crying. I have however been making a concentrated and determined effort to hold it together in front of my boys. Things are rocky enough as it is with all the transitioning going on between my ex and I, so I've been making sure to shield them from as much of it as possible. I was doing a good job of it too, making sure we're still finding ways to enjoy our time and summer together inspite of the upheaval.

This morning after breakfast though a wave of emotions hit me, taking me by surprise and nearly knocking me over. I had barely set the boys up with their toys and made it to my bedroom before the tears exploded. As I layed there, face buried in the pillow, hurling my grief, confusion, hurt, fear, rejection, and everything else at God, telling Him how alone and scared I am in this place, I heard a quiet knock on my door.

It was Brennan.

"Mommie can I have some chalk to draw outside (on our balcony) ?" Wiping the snot and wetness from my face, I opened the door. "Sure Bren. What do you want to draw?"

He looked at me, stepped forward and hugged my legs. Then he looked at me again and said, "A heart. I want to draw a heart."

Grabbing the chalk and walking towards the balcony door I asked him "Why a heart?"

"Because its going to be okay and I want you to see the heart so you'll feel better," he replied patting me on the shoulder. And with a kiss on the cheek, off he was, on the balcony, in the OMG sweltering humidity drawing me a heart-two in fact.

The thing about God that just continues to blow my mind is how He knows what we need at the exact moment we need it. My faith, my sanity, needed that boost today. And my heart is grateful for it, for Him, and for my boys. :)

A Control Freak Who Hates Being Controlled Lets Go

Confession: I can't handle being nagged, micro managed, or controlled to a degree that borders on unhealthy. I grew up with a control freak of a father so to me my inability to handle such things is no surprise. He made every decision from what I ate to what clothes I wore to how I did my hair.

Growing up this way made me determined to fight for and maintain some sort of independence for myself, almost to a fault I admit. Because I was robbed of the ability to think for myself as a child/teen, trying to learn to do so as an adult has been a challenging one, one that involves a lot of second guessing myself and my decisions as I navigate up the hill. I also appreciate people's advice and the wisdom they dispense but even if I totally agree with them, sometimes I just have to see/learn for myself. Not because I want to rebel or be defiant or think I know better, but because I'm trying to experience it so that I form my own conclusions and learn more about myself and my life. But don't get me wrong-I always keep the wisdom or advice I've been given in the back of my mind as a reminder or a gut check that tells me when I've gone far enough.

Being in the military, I was at a base where our every move was micro managed-It drove me and my co workers crazy. That's one reason why I didn't stay in. That's not to say I can't follow directions or listen to authority. I can and do, but when it starts to feel smothering or too restricting something in me can't take it.

When I come in contact with people who exhibit as much stubborness as me or control freak tendencies I usually reach a point where I just give in. I don't do well with power struggles-I figure if you want to call the shots that bad, who am I to prevent that? So after awhile it just drains me so I retreat, concede, and try to be as supportive as possible while praying for the best outcome.

So I grew up with a control freak dad, have had to fight for the ability to think for myself and have independence and don't deal well with being micro managed. Oh and I concede to those who's stubborness or need to control outweighs mine because I'd just rather let the other person have it.

All of this pretty much adds up to the fact that its hard for me to let God have control in my life. Surrendering and conceding to people is easy-I can physically see them and what they do. But I can't see God. Sure I feel Him, sense His presence when I worship Him or try to talk to Him. But I can't see Him, I can't see what He's doing, I can't peek over His shoulder and see what He's working on when it comes to my life. And that freaks me out. So that turns me into the control freak I despise. I become the resistor, the one who holds tightly to my independence and my constant need to figure it out on my own with an iron clad death grip. But at the same time my heart yearns to surrender, to let Him take control. Its just that from my experience the people I've given control of my life to (or they just took it) have just jacked it up or abused it, myself included.

So I'm trying, very hard to learn to let go. Loosen my grip. Let God do His thing and just trust in Him and not my own thoughts. I'm putting down the chisel and walking away from the urge to carve out my life and just let Him do it for me. His designs are better anyway. I mean afterall, I'm not handy with a hammer and nail-Jesus was a carpenter. I suck at drawing, God is the master illustrator, the ultimate creator.

And He keeps telling me that if I just let go and focus on Him, His design for my life will take shape and come to life. He knows what I want, what my heart desires, and although I didn't do it because I thought I knew better, I spent the past two years trying to carve it into what I thought it should be. I wanted to try and keep what I thought was my family together but well...I couldn't. Especially with a partner who was just as stubborn and controlling as me.

So I'm done fighting. Done carving. I'm letting go, I'm losing control. And praying that while I can't see what He's doing, He's working out the kinks in me and working out His plans for my life and that of my children.

Did I mention this is SCARY?! I'M FREAKING OUT!!!!!! UGH! Pray for a chic! :)

addyeB

Letting the Dust Settle Into Something Beautiful

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OR7VOKQ0xJY]

I woke up this morning and in my mind's eye all I saw was dust. Everywhere I looked, in every area of my life, I just saw dust, like a sandstorm had blown through my life and left a finger thick film on each piece of it.

Aside from dirtying things, dust is annoying because too much of it can make you sneeze, cough, gag...and a host of other bodily reactions I'm sure aren't pleasant. It's also irritating because it's so hard to get rid of and even when you swipe it away with some pledge, it comes back not long after. You might even find that you've gotten rid of the dust, but the tiny little particles of material from whatever you used to clean it up with are left behind, in it's place, seemingly immune to the cleaning agent.

So what's my point? Simply this: You can't get rid of dust. You can buy the best cleaning solution/furniture polish/super-microfiber rag that money can buy, but dust is always going to be there annoyingly sweeping itself back over your walls, appliances, baseboards aka YOUR LIFE. So what do you do about it? Well, as I laid in bed with Alex's foot in my ribs and Brennan's dragon breath scorching my cheek, I thought of this song and about how God really can make beautiful things out of anything. If He could create the Universe and every single particle & organism in it, is it really hard to believe that He can make something out of the dust in my life? The dust that makes me sneeze, that causes me pain, that makes me (or my house) look dirty, that can seem to overtake me?

Here's the thing about dust, er LIFE. It's always there. Causing you pain, being annoying, being difficult to get through, creating messes that are a pain or really tough to clean up....but the God who created the stars out in galaxies we haven't even discovered yet can take the dust in your life, in my life, and use it to challenge us, stretch us, grow & develop us, even mold us into who He designed for us to be before we were even a thought in our Mama's bellies.

So as I sat here with half my cheek melting away(4 yrs old is too young for halitosis isn't it?) thinking about the recent dusty events & situations in my life, I heard God challenging me & my OCD to put down the dust rag....Put the pledge back in the cabinet for a second and just let Him take care of it. "I know it looks Sahara desert dusty right now, AddyeB and that is throwing your OCD into overdrive, I know you're freaking out...but watch the wonder & beauty I create out it-watch the beautiful things I make. If I can make man out of dust, what other wonders can I create if you'll just sit back & let me do what I do best ?"

Well God, it's like 6am, and since my mind's already been blown for the day I'm just going to lay here and marinate on what you just knocked me upside the head with....and watch you make beautiful things out of my dust. Just please remember to pass me a mask when you really get going-I have a feeling it's going to get thick in here for awhile and I don't want to choke.

Are Problems Necessary?

I saw this on Faith Baby's Facebook page (who by the way has adorable clothes for wee ones):

Every problem is a character-building opportunity, and the more difficult it is, the greater the potential for building spiritual muscle and moral fiber. Problems also force us to look at God and to depend on Him instead of ourselves. 

"And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4"

Just wanted to share their post because it's good food for thought ( at least it is for me), especially when deciding what's better to strive for: a life of happiness, or one filled with joy

"Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.. "

James 1:2-4 MSG