soul2soulsister

Just a woman seeking God's heart; sharing hers with you

Reference point….and random tidbits

Good morning everyone! Happy Fall!

Anyone who knows me knows that summer is my absolute happy place. Put me on a beach with my kids and …I’m good for good! ūüôā ¬†This 40 degrees however, I will embrace because I know what’s coming will make me LONG for days like today! (finding joy where I can! ūüôā )

There’s a lot of new stuff going on over here with Soul2soulsister and October is the month that some remodeling will be done. Calendars and Instagram and FaceBook and..consistent blogging.

Life happens; it’s easy to get bogged down and overwhelmed (at least for me) when I don’t keep up with my self-imposed expectations. In the coming weeks, I’ll be blogging about some of my hurdles and bumps that I have allowed to stand in the way and sidetrack me from staying the course with this mission. ¬†Some have been unavoidable; sick kids, being an advocate, mom-duties. Others I have definitely succumb to.

Remember: I’m all about transparency.

In the meantime, and until I can figure out how to combine the two sites, I wanted to let you know in case you were unaware, that I have another blog that is older, but chock full of goodness. ¬†I’d love to have you check it out. It’s soulsistr.wordpress.com.

Also, for those of you on social media, Soul2soulsister is on Instagram and Facebook, AND we have a website!

We just held our incredible first annual soul2soulsister retreat and it was amazing! Pics are on FB and will be coming here soon.

SO this Monday, whatever has been weighing you down, what lies you have been fed, the lies you keep hearing be whispered in your hear; make it stop. Take control. Rise up. It’s a new day. Start a journal. Make a list of likes. From food to fun, what do YOU like?

Laugh. Go for a drive. Take a walk. Get back to finding your JOY…and know that you are not alone in the process. Writing a blog, hosting social media sites and /or a weekend retreat surely does not make me immune to the attack of the ICK.

Today’s the day we win the battle. ‚̧ Together. Armed with Jesus and Java and one another, we can’t lose. ‚̧

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Why S2S? …A little background info…

In light of¬†the upcoming Soul2Soulsister retreat, ¬†I have had several people ask me “What is this all about? What is Soul2Soulsister?” SO as I have been praying about the retreat and God has been writing on my heart what to share with those in attendance, I’ve felt led to give a bit of insight into the “why” of this blog, –which is now becoming a¬†community.

 

I began the blog because I really enjoy writing. I started on another blog address and shared stories and recipes and just casual ‘mom life.’ More of a way of expression for me personally.

Then began an incredible transformation as God has continued to work ON me and through me. ¬†I have felt so strongly about encouraging and empowering other women. ¬†God has blessed me with the privilege of walking through some really dark valleys and given me a perspective ¬†that has a purpose. He’s softening my heart, working on removing the forest from my eye (forget about the log..it’s a legit forest. Of Redwoods.) and helping me to be compassionate and helpful to others who may be walking a similar path.

 

The other purpose I feel, is that our world needs to SEE and experience Jesus. His love, grace, mercy…and if we claim to have a relationship with Him, it’s our job to emulate that and educate the next generation. ¬†Our world is becoming increasingly intolerant and hardened toward anything related to “God” and if we want our children and grandchildren to be able to teach their offspring on how to take a loving stand, we need to do a much better job of demonstrating that love.

When my oldest daughter began bringing friends over, that’s when it really struck me; I’m not only called to be a mom to my own biological children, but I have a responsibility to show and teach Jesus in everything I do, to everyone I come in contact with. –and truthfully that has a lot more to do with actions, than words. AND…it’s NOT easy.

It’s also not impossible.

We women, who claim to be authentic believers in the one True God; who claim to have given our life to the One who has given His for us, have an absolute mandate to BE the light and love that Jesus is. We need to be transparent about our struggles and our frustrations, our joys and successes, ¬†which ultimately should be pointing others to the cross. ¬†If we don’t get off our high-horse and out of the legalistic mindset sitting on our pious thrones, and start being honest (first, with ourselves!) about the reality of the challenges AND the rewards of an authentic relationship with Jesus, we are going to leave this earth having NOT fulfilled our major purpose: to bring others to a saving knowledge of Him.

 

They will know we are Christians by our love.

I John in the new testament is FULL of reminders that LOVE, our demonstration of such Jesus love, is what sets us apart and demonstrates our being HIS.  More so, than any word we can speak.

 

So…this is a little bit of the “why.” ¬†Soul2Soulsister is a creation of the calling I had been feeling for quite some time to share my “soul” with YOU. ¬†My sister. ¬†Not because I have it all together (far from it!), am a perfect mom, friend, or some high rolling biblical scholar. HA! That makes me giggle to think about it! ūüôā

No. It’s because the proof of the existence of a loving, merciful Father lies in the fact that after all the muck I’ve found myself in; the poor choices, mistakes, wrong turns, selfish desires… I’m still here. ¬†And even as some storms continue to rage on, I am at the deepest level of peace and contentment I’ve ever known..and I want to share that with others. ¬†We as His children can all experience His peace..

The light of His glory and grace shines through the cracks of my brokenness. ¬†And even in the sometimes uncomfortable moments of sharing the less than pretty details of my life, it’s a privilege to be able to be a vessel for Him. ¬†It’s what I prayed for in one of the darkest moments of my life; to be used to encourage even ONE woman. ¬† He has answered in a mighty way.

 

I do hope you will join us for our first retreat in September. ¬†It’s going to be an amazing time of transparency (no, you don’t have to share!) and learning and connecting with other women…experiencing rest and rejuvenation in a beautiful setting away from the hustle and bustle of our constant demanding lives. ūüôā

The details are on the event section on the website, as well as on our FaceBook page!

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Exciting Announcements!!!

Hello, friends!

I’m so very sorry it’s been so long since I’ve made a post. Lots of great things going on in our world..some challenges but even better, some great new developments for Soul2soulsister!!!

First, we have a new website that I’d be so honored to have you check out and give me your feedback on! It’s http://www.soul2soulsister.com
There you will also find links to our blog (this one..) and if you stay connected with us you will be able to get info on upcoming events.

….SUCH AS– Our first ever (and Lord-willing, annual!) Ladies retreat!

Soul2soulsister will be hosting a limited number of ladies in a beautiful setting in upstate NY, the weekend of September 25th. Please go to the website, or check us out on FaceBook for more details, and to be SURE to reserve YOUR spot! Bring a friend, mom, sister, aunt, daughter, cousin..spaces are limited and I DON’T want you to miss out! It’s going to be an incredible time.

Question? Feel free to contact us!
Looking forward to hearing from YOU!

Thanks sweet friends…

~Kimberlie

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Crying “Uncle!”

Have you had enough?

Enough what?

Snow. Trial. Discourse. Disconnect. Winter. Clutter. Chaos. Misery. (….<insert your own here>)

I have had ENOUGH. Enough of all of the above and then some.

I’m striving to embrace my situation, but it becomes increasingly challenging to do so. ¬†Things just do not seem as though they are improving…and it’s wearing me down.

But the best part is, I have a good idea why. ¬†I don’t know the whole reason, but I know a bit of it.

You see, the closer we get to God, the harder the devil has to work to try to dissuade us. To distract us. To get the negative talk into our heads so we start to only hear his blaring lies instead of The Fathers quiet, constant truths.

He, Satan, will not win. Not with this girl. I have The Savior on my side. I can NOT fail.

I’ve been in the thick of it for the better part of 2 years now. I’m not a quitter. I know “who my Daddy” is..and I’m not about to back out and wash my¬†hands of this relationship. Not after all He has done for me and us.

That being said, it’s not fun. I don’t like it. ¬†It’s exhausting. ¬†I have to be intentional in my finding joy, because it’s not so easy. It’s hard to be responsible for someone’s life. (literally) It’s not easy to be financially poor, to rely on help and someone else for needs to be met. It’s not easy to be a single mom and have to do the ‘hard’ stuff like shovel and manage and lug and coordinate and advocate and cook and tend and organize and entertain…there are after all, just so many hours in a day.

And today, I’d had enough.

In the midst of shoveling the biggest and heaviest pile/s of snow I’d shoveled in a year, I finally sat on the snow bank (it was up to my hips still, and I’d been working on it…) and just sobbed. ¬†My lungs were on fire from breathing in the bitter air; I was covered in wet, almost freezing snow because we were in the midst of yet another blizzard, my arms burned from working so hard to move this mountain, and my heart was overwhelmed. ¬† I sat there and cried tears from my eyes and words from my soul to God’s ears.

When is this going to end? WHEN can this start to be a little easier? I have had ENOUGH!

Today as I shoveled, I DID thank God that I was physically capable of doing such hard physical labor, as I know many who cannot. I gave thanks that tho it was hard, I was capable and didn’t have to pay someone. I was (and am) thankful for my dear friends who snowblow my driveway tirelessly so I don’t have to try to shovel THAT, too. ¬†And in the midst of my post-meltdown panting as I resumed shoveling, I heard the Spirit say, “Are you ready? NOW are you finally ready to do what you’ve been told?”

*SMACK*

Yes. I was ready this morning, when I shot awake early to hear the Spirit talking to me about another calling I’d had placed on me, that I was avoiding. ¬†But..was I really ready? Ready to finally commit?

I was actually pulling a Jonah. ¬†Eww. ¬†I don’ t care to think about being in a whales belly; yet how was where I am any different, really? Other than physically, I mean. ¬†I’m running away because I’m afraid. I’m scared. I’m not enough. I can’t do it.

No. I don’t want to be Jonah.

I inundate myself with sermons and praise songs because I stand NO chance of surviving this season if I don’t. ¬†I have the ability to listen to InTouch and Chuck Swindoll in my countless hours of driving, and those sermons play on repeat in my mind long after I’ve listened to them. These times of being in God’s word, as well as my own devotional time, are essential for me to keep hanging on. Being reminded of the TRUTH of Gods promises…that He is HERE…sticking closer than a brother, going before me, will not fail me…cumulatively gives me the HOPE to continue to seek Him.

Job has been an inspiration to me the last 8 mos or so. More recently, Joseph has also joined that list. If you don’t know the story of Job, I’d encourage you to read about it. It’s a short yet poignant book in the Old Testament…and WOAH. Job had faith. That man lost everything; he was tested beyond testing…and He trusted God though it all, even as Satan sat whispering lies in his ears.

Joseph was sold, put in prison..basically in a season of trial for 14 years before the deliverance and fulfillment of God’s promises came to pass.

But..God kept HIS PROMISE. He was faithful then, and is faithful now.  He is the same, loving, providing Father, Deliverer, source of Hope and Peace today.

Life is hard. ¬†It’s been stressful. While I could list all the reasons why, it’s not about the reasons why it’s hard. ¬†It’s about why we press on. Keep going. Putting one foot in front of the other. ¬†Why? Because that’s what Faith is all about. Trusting a God who sees and knows all, to lead us when we can see NOTHING. ¬†Trusting Him that His best is far better than my best dreams, and that this season …for however long or short it may be, will serve a purpose. ¬†His will, not mine.

I’ve had enough. I’m ready to be set on that mountain for a while, and just relax. ¬†It’s not quite time for that tho, apparently. My attitude of gratitude and continued pursuit of Jesus is going to undoubtedly put me in the direct line of fire for satanic attack. ¬†And as I cry out “uncle” to Jesus for relief, I know He hears me. He will see me through. ¬†Just as He is my Lord, Satan also has to obey Him. ¬† God continues to provide in His time. I will do what I’ve been called to do and fulfill it according to His will. ¬†Even on days like today, when I’ve really hit the wall. His grace is enough…and I’m still here. ‚̧

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Trivial Matters …( God cares about the details..)

This post is dedicated to every person out there who, like me, at times has difficulty seeing that your ‘heart’ matters. To those who need to be reminded that God is good, faithful, sees all, and gives us ALWAYS “just” what we need, JUST WHEN we need it most.¬†

Today has been a struggle-day. ¬†It started rough as I forced my body into bed last night at midnight. ¬†I was an emotional mess, and was crying out to God, asking Him to just give me peace so that I could sleep. Anxious and sad and trusting Him, but my momma heart ached. ¬†I went to sleep with the thought “of what a powerhouse a woman is; who is passionate and filled with the power of the¬†Holy Spirit. I can be struck down but not defeated. Tomorrow will be a new day. God’s got this.

Eventually sleep came.

I shot awake this morning before my alarm went off and instantly was in ‘GO’ mode. My mind was racing about all that I needed to do today in order to get services in place for my daughter.

my child had been abruptly dropped in coverage by the insurance company at 4:30pm on Friday, and was forced to leave the facility where she has been receiving vital treatment since December 27 for a severe psychiatric issue. ¬†(Well, THEY didn’t force her to leave. If we could cough up¬†the $800/day ‘reduced rate’ they gave us, she could have stayed.) ¬†She was dropped with no services in place, as well as having been in crisis just one week prior to this end of service.

I had my K-LOVE station on and I was feeling the tug of the enemy so I was diligent. Focused on God and talking to Him, while satan was hell-bent (literally) on making me miserable. (we all know that the closer we are to God, the harder satan has to work to really get at us. Remember Job?)   Anyway. I gritted my teeth and dug my heels into my music and focusing on all the positives of the day.

-Therapy, then a trip to Barnes and Noble for this child who adores books (and had a GC from Christmas), family dinner tonight and some other hopefuls in between.

We enjoyed a jam session on the way to the appointment courtesy of T.Swift (as my kids refer to her) and her “1989” album..arrived on time, had our usual pleasantries and went our separate ways; child to therapy, me to the waiting room.

Everything seemed ‘ok’ until I got the news from my child with her therapist that another crisis was on the horizon. Potentially. I needed “to be on watch.” CPEP isn’t needed…”yet.

BOOM.  I wanted to shake my head like they do in cartoons to do a double-take.

I’m fairly certain I sat with the most expressionless look on my face for 5 solid minutes as my mind raced with endless thoughts of: rage (at the insurance company), sadness, anxiety (how are my at-home kids going to handle yet another crisis already), how am I going to handle this already,frustration, and wanting to scream at the top of my lungs various phrases and questions that no one would ever answer.

Not being able to help your child and having an insurance company determine that the life of your child isn’t worth the cost of treatment is indescribable. ¬†(a conversation for another time…)

We left therapy with plans for future appointments and tentative plans, and made our way to B&N where I struggled with clenched teeth to keep the constantly welling tears from streaming endlessly down my cheeks. I couldn’t speak; if I opened my mouth and said more than two words I would be sobbing uncontrollably. Neither of us needed that. ¬†My kid got frustrated but eventually found the desired book and we left and grabbed a small bit of lunch and ate silently in the car. Then the phone rang. ¬†It was the treatment facility I had called; one she’d been to before as inpatient, and now our only tangible hope for help.

The AIOP I’m trying to get her into had no record of me calling in December, so I needed to call back and redo the intake. Then they are swamped so it’s going to be 1.5 weeks before we can do an in-person interview and consult for treatment.

Anything else?

Well, the good news is that, if the Insurance Co doesn’t deny THIS, and my child is accepted into the program, this facility has a spot.

Oh, by the way. The ONLY treatment within 4 hours ONE WAY (driving) is 2.5 hours away, 3 days/week, 3 hours each of those days.

Ok, But they have a spot. We will qualify, it’s all going to work out. God is in control. God is in control. I am clearly NOT, and I need to get a grip….on HIM.

I came home, got my other kids from school and after I cleaned up the kitchen, sat with my Bible and read. And read. and READ. Nehemiah 6:9. The whole sixth chapter of Nehemiah. And Psalms..a bunch of chapters in Psalms. Just inundating my brain with words of encouragement and reminders that I’m loved, my kids are loved, and we are NOT forgotten. In our weakness we are made strong. (2Cor 12:9)

****DEEEP SIGHHHHHH****

Thank you Lord. Your grace is enough. ¬†“….Oh God, strengthen my hands.” (Nehemiah 6:9)

(I’m getting to my point…)

This particular child of mine for the first 10 days in(recent) treatment could not have her iPod or any other device, and in this time was shown how to crochet. ¬†When she called me she had mentioned she was making a blanket, and described the colors and how ‘big’ it was getting and was really proud of herself (rightfully so!) and excited to have learned to crochet. ¬† We do basic knitting here but she hadn’t taken needles so this was a fun, new adventure and a great way to pass some time. ¬†Anyway, I was not at all prepared for the majesty of this amazing work of art she has created. I don’t know about you, but when think of crocheting I think of small stitches, dishcloths and granny squares.

THIS…This ‘blanket’ is none of those. It’s amazing. It’s HUGE, and heavy and..spectacular! ¬†I wanted to take a picture of her with it, but was not going to post it to any social media for a myriad of reasons; a main one being that no one really knew she was home, and I didn’t want to put that stress on her and create further anxiety.

Well, after I took the picture she asked me if I was going to post it (in a way that indicated she was hopeful I would..). I posted it. ¬†And..You know what I got??? ¬†As of this (blog) post, 71 likes and countless amazing comments. Virtual (((HUGS))) ..the hugs I’d needed all. ¬†Day. Long. ¬†The confidence boost and encouragement SHE needed.

The comments have brought me to tears, but these are happy tears. Tears of relief that my sweet precious child is having a positive ‘social media experience’ and virtual (((HUGS))) from friends and family to my heart.

If you really want to show me you love me, love my child/ren.

No truer words.

All of this orchestrated lovingly by my heavenly Father, Who is in those details of our lives…the seemingly insignificant moments that by most may be overlooked,¬†but are cherished deeply by we who instinctively know from where (Who) they come. ¬†Our God gives us what we need when we need it.

Even positive encouragement on social media.

Humanly I struggled today with many legitimate emotions. I am going to be upset, angry, frustrated, sad; it’s ok. I struggled and fought to focus on God. Satan was NOT going to win me over. I was not going to become miserable. I was going to continue to blast K-LOVE in my kitchen and do devos in the momentary quiet of the afternoon because my very existence depended on it. I was not going to be bullied by the evil one into turning against God in the midst of my frustration, but rather pray harder. ¬†“Oh God, strengthen my hands!”

He never fails.

2 Corinthians 4:9 “we are persecuted but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed.”

Curiosity getting the best of you? The blanket photo is on my Instagram page which is Kmomma5, or on Facebook at Kimberlie Kessler.

Enjoy! ūüôā

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I’m not who you think I am…

We as a society are very good at being quick to judge. We assume we know the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of the intricate, personal details of the relationships of others. ¬†We ‘can tell’ by the way someone is acting that “they think they are so important.” ¬†Often we correlate judgement with negative attributes. A cheater, a liar, a thief. ¬†(= a human…)

What I think we forget is that judgement is also our associated with our glorification of a person, based solely on what we assume we know. ¬†That a person has it all together; the best marriage, confidence, financial stability, amazing children, and so-on. ¬†Typically we compare ourselves and perhaps a negative view of our (truly) positive qualities with the amped up and false-positive assumptions of others, and think, “Wow, if only I could be like them…..”

The reality is, that the only humans that know what is going on in the lives of others, are the ones living said life, and God. Our outside observance (assumption) is just that. We don’t¬†know for certain¬†what is really happening behind closed doors.

When I delivered our preemie baby I was told (by outsiders) ‘why’ I had such an early delivery. ¬†When I got divorced 11 years ago, I heard all kind of stories (lies) and assumptions about myself, my kids, my ex. (mostly about me) ¬†When I was elected to the Board of Education there were assumptions about how “someone like me” could possibly serve. ¬†Just to name a few…

Now, when facing some of the toughest times in recent years, I am hearing positive assumptions about me, my abilities and my strength. I feel that while I’ve learned to not defend a lie, even moreso it’s time to stand for the truth.

I am absolutely strong-willed. I am determined. I am passionate. I’m tender-hearted. I’m a human. ¬†My plate is full-and then some. I am not this ‘Wonder Woman’ persona; invincible and strong with uncrushable emotional fortitude. ¬†There are times-lately more often than not, that I’m a H.E.M.I. ¬†(look in the urban dictionary under this acronym, you’ll see my picture) Not sure what a H.E.M.I. is? It’s an acronym for “Hot Emotional Mess Inside.”

I’m not the rugged, invincible person you think I am. I’m a woman who has been broken by circumstances I could not control and abuse of others who held all the control. ¬†I’ve taken the long, hard road, because I was so obstinate and narrow-minded that the ‘golden gate bridges’ that could have taken me to green pastures, I burned out of spite. I’ve made bad choices, and ultimately had to pay consequences for those. ¬† I ¬†battle negative voices in my head, give too much value to the opinions of others, and question my abilities from time to time. ¬†(there is more to add to the list, but you get the idea….)

I’m a mother whose heart aches for my child whose devastating internal/emotional circumstances and psychiatric needs are out of my ability to correct. ¬† For my child who so deeply longs to be be an athlete but because of his physical inability and concern for his safely ¬†I have to say ‘No.’ ¬†For my child who, situated in the middle of both of these circumstances, feels inept to help, overwhelmed, and often alone and forgotten. For my child who feels the need to be the backup to me, and for my child who is just unsure.

I’m a daughter who feels guilt over not doing enough. A friend who often requires more than I give. A sister who isn’t always available to my siblings. A parent who makes mistakes. Daily.

I’m a work in progress, held together by the grace of a loving God. ¬†I’m being cared for by the provision of an omniscient Heavenly Father who loves me and my children beyond comprehension. My strength is not my own, but God’s; my Sustainer and “very present Help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1) ¬†His grace is sufficient for me, not only on my good days, but especially on my not-so-good days. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Yes, I’m naturally an outwardly strong person. While I am sensitive and caring, it’s not in my DNA to sulk and be publicly forlorn. ¬†I carry myself seemingly with all the confidence in the world. Reality is, I am weak. He is strong. He holds me when I crumble, forgives me when I fail Him, and is leading me by the Light of His will for our lives.

I am unapologetic for being passionate. I care deeply . I am smart, outgoing, considerate and thoughtful. I’m loyal, forgiving, and sometimes too naive. I laugh loudly and as often as I can, and I always try to put my best foot forward. ¬†I’m confident, because I know and live for the One who holds me, and HE holds the future and His plans are better than my best dreams. ¬†(Hebrews 3:6)

1 Peter 5:10 and the beginning of James is clear that God is faithful to those who rely on Him. He will see us through. We will be made stronger because of our faith during our trials.  The outward strength that may be elicited by me, is the reflection of the work of the Holy Spirit IN me.

There are moments that I will still be a H.E.M.I. I’m a human who has been given feelings and sensitivity and a passion for others- ¬†especially my children. My strength, however, is in the Lord. My hope is that in exposing the reality of who I am, (or rather, what I am NOT), I can expose the TRUTH of WHO God is. Without Him, I am nothing.

HE is more than amazing.

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The Lifeguard is always on duty..

Last year at about this time, my oldest daughter introduced me to a song that instantly became one of my favorites. I bought it on iTunes and played it incessantly. ¬†The song is by Hillsong UNITED, entitled “Oceans” ( and if you are interested the YouTube link is here: ¬†https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dy9nwe9_xzw .)

The song talks about allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us where our “trust¬†is without borders”, to trust His grace which “abounds in deepest waters” and allow ourselves essentially to be led where Jesus wants to take us, trusting His will and His unfailing provision.

Yesterday in church we sang this song as a congregation. It wasn’t the first and likely won’t be the last time we sing it. ¬†And as I have said, this song is one that I claim as one of my “life theme songs” because I resonate with the message. For some reason however, tho I have sung this and listened to it countless times, yesterday I was struck by the words. Every single one¬†seemed to be poignant, and I began to ask myself a series of questions as my mind raced with thoughts wondering if we really mean what we are singing about, and do we understand the magnitude of what we are asking God while we sing this song?

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me.

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander,

And my faith will be made stronger in the

Presence of my Savior..”

We are asking to be tested. We are asking to be challenged. We are asking God to reveal Himself to us in a way that absolutely demand reliance on Him. ¬†Are we absolutely NUTS? ¬†Why would we¬†ask¬†for our comfortable lives to be made uncomfortable? ¬†I mean, that’s what we are asking for when we sing this song to God. ¬†We are asking to be taken to the edge; the end of our human proverbial rope. ¬†Why?

The last 18 months of my life have been some of the most visceral, challenging months I have experienced so far in my 43 years of life. ¬†Adjusting to my oldest going to college (far, farrrr away I might add), work challenges, caring for a sick parent, caring for/fighting for a suicidal child, foreclosure, loss of relationships….it goes on. ¬†It has been the direct opposite of easy and comfortable.

¬†Would anyone¬†ask to go through some of these trials specifically? I doubt anyone would offer to have one of their children be deeply affected with psychiatric issues, or ask to lose their home or people they love in order to get something better. ¬†We must realize however, everything is Gods. Our children, our homes, our lives. ¬†Nothing good we have is ‘ours.’ It’s all Gods, just on loan to us.

Days have turned to weeks and months and and the journey continues. ¬†Yet our ‘souls¬†rest in His embrace’, believing He is faithful, trusting God that He knows what’s best and loves us, we have undeniably experienced His goodness to us. ¬†God has provided a home for us; my child is safe and secure in a wonderful place getting help. ¬†Our needs are met. ¬†The real WIN here, however, is seeing first hand the Sovereignty of the Father in every aspect of our lives. ¬†The amazing bond that has deepened with my children both between myself and them, and with each other. Their undeniable¬†experience of God providing for us and answering prayer–not ¬†always as WE would want, but for our BEST; ¬†the faith that He loves and cares for us beyond measure. ¬†Jesus is in every single detail of our lives, and I believe it’s evident.

It’s in the ‘deep water’ that we can feel His presence and get a glimpse of His unfailing grace.¬† God takes our pain and creates an even more beautiful creation out of the experience, when we let Him be in control. ¬†I liken it to stained glass mosaics. Beautiful, broken pieces that are bonded together for a priceless, unique thing of beauty.

“You call me out upon the waters

The great unkown where feet may fail

And there I find you in the mystery

In Oceans deep my faith will stand.

“Your Grace abounds in Deepest waters

Your Sovereign hand will be my guide

Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me

You’ve never failed, and

You WON’T start now.”

All this to answer the question of “WHY?” we would ask to be challenged, tested, –I like the term ‘battle-tested.’ ¬†It’s not for God, but for us. So that we, as children of God, those of us who claim His lordship over our lives, can¬†be able to have our faith strengthened and for Him to reveal Himself to us so that our trust and ultimately our relationship with Him will deepen. We need to know for ourselves how very much our every bit of existence is reliant upon Him; moreso, how faithful He IS and will always be to us, His children.

My life experience and especially the last 18 months speaks to the truth of His unfailing love, Grace, provision for His children. ¬†We are on this less-than-desirable- journey, but we are not alone. He is with us, He is for us, and as long as we keep our focus on Him, it doesn’t matter how deep the water gets. ¬†He won’t ever let go, or let us drown. He’s got us.

In a world that seems endlessly evil and leaves us wondering who we can trust; who’s got our back, who can we turn to? We¬†will as humans fail, and be failed by humans. ¬†Our HOPE, the One who never fails is our Light in the darkness, our Lifeguard in the deep water, in the weakest moments of life. Our Savior.

“Take me deeper than my feet would ever wander

And my faith will be made stronger

In the presence of my Savior.”

When we pray to God and ask Him to reveal Himself to us, to draw us closer to Him, or to strengthen our faith in Him, it won’t usually be in an experience as ‘pretty’ as songs like this make it seem it might be. ¬† The promise however is, ¬†if we ¬†sincerely seek Him and to know Him, He will be faithful to us and when He brings us through that experience, we can truly say that ‘our faith has been made stronger in the presence of our Savior.’ ¬†The struggle is small in comparison to the reward.

Some verses for reference are:

2 Chronicles 7:14

Deuteronomy 4:29

Jeremiah 29:12-14

Proverbs 24:10

Luke 17:6

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Strength for the moment

There are experiences in life that help to shape us, if we allow them to, into who God intends for us to be. To help others. To grow ourselves. Our faith. Our patience, ¬† Sometimes we can get make some sense of “why” and other times we are just in it. Trusting Him if for no other reason, than because everything around us makes no sense. ¬†All we can do is trust the one “the wind and waves obey.” ¬†He holds the stars; He of COURSE will hold me.

He is holding me. I know it. I also tho feel like I’m stuck together with scotch tape. There is a substance there, but it’s very fragile. It could tear at any moment. ¬†I’m merely¬†being honest. I’m not upset, I’m not angry. I’m HUMAN. And I am mom who is fighting for the life of my child. –again. And I won’t ever stop, (for any of my kids) but I’m tired. I honestly felt by the end of the week as though I had been physically beaten. ¬†Stress takes a toll on a body.

However  this weekend, my momma-heart was renewed; about to burst as I witnessed the most beautiful of love, display care, provision and tenderness. All while on a twin bed in a room at the all-too-familiar psychiatric hospital.

The visit began as it always does. I walked into the hospital like I own the place. I’ve been here too many times. Here’s the typical drill:

* show your license, get called to and approved by the unit for visiting.

* walk to unit, get let in. <every building other than the main one, is locked>

* sign in, and have anything brought in for her left at the desk to be searched.

* If her roommate is not in the room, or if she is sans roommate, we get to visit in her room, somewhat privately.

* every 15 minutes the door opens and we are ‘checked on.’ ¬†<room checks>

*when leaving, sign out, turn in badge, hug goodbye, be let out.

We walked in-line to our designated unit as tho we were on parade; it is something of a spectacle whenever our Krew goes anywhere all together.  We were let in by a staff member, and in an attempt to diminish the awkward gawking by the other patients and families, I smiled and said hello as we entered.  The calm, confident outward demeanor giving no sign of the chaos my nerves were experiencing.

As many times as I’ve entered this building it’s always surreal. Every. Single. Time. I know it the drill, I don’t need a tour, I know the rules. I know the expectations for myself and my ‘party.’ However there is always an element of ‘unknown.’ ¬† There also is always the heart-wrenching difficulty of having to leave, and leave one behind. I dread it before the visit even begins.

So like any other family visit, we filed into her room,   It was a bit of a surprise to her to see us all, as I had forewarned her that one of us was sick and we might not make the trip that day. I promised the usual tea  (the treat she most appreciates) by whoever came to visit, but no promise it would be ME.

She was so excited; she began to cry as she leaped off her bed and hugged us all. Everyone one of her siblings was with her with the exception of one. A mini-reunion.

She began to share¬†about what had been happening that day, showing some artwork she had done; some therapeutic and some for fun. Sketches other patients had asked her to do. ¬†Lists she had began for organization. ¬†She won a couple of joke books so LP made himself comfy in the desk chair and began to entertain everyone by reading the¬†corny¬†¬†funny jokes¬†that could only¬† crack a smile out of us¬†because of HIS enjoyment of them. (his laugh is not only contagious, it’s uplifting)

I stood and watched and listened.

While all this was going on, one by one the kids piled onto her bed with her. ¬†They began chatting about music and songs and Christmas and pets, playing with each others hair…and for a moment it was like a scene from home. I choked back the tears as LP finally made the decision to join the family ‘snuggle’ ¬†and the girls–while they grumbled a little–laughed and begrudingly allowed him to smother them all as he became “king of the pile.” ¬†I reached for my phone (contraband here..) to capture this moment. (double contraband..no photos allowed. Period.) ¬†Then it hit me.

THIS was the GIFT. The GOOD stuff.  No photo would ever capture what this scene meant. No one else would appreciate that moment with the full value and meaning, as I.   This was LOVE in action. Connection. Bonding. This is what families do, even in the midst of crisis, for their loved ones.  The feeling of acceptance and love and compassion, and the presence of all that was palpable.

 {During all of this we had several room checks; the look on the staff members face was clear that he was touched by what he saw. And..no doubt, he was able to see Jesus through us}

Especially in crisis, we all seek some sort of ‘normal.’ A feeling of familiarity. Comfort. ¬†A distraction that has value and meaning, not to create delusion, but if only for a moment to not feel so disconnected. ¬†In this instance like almost all, ¬†the patient is not the only one seeking that ‘normalcy’ but so is the rest of the family. ¬†To get to the heart of US…and for almost an hour, that is what was achieved on the twin bed in a benign building in an otherwise benign room; there was a sense of HOME.

It was exactly what my precious, sweet, hurting child needed.   It was also exactly what my weary momma-heart needed.  That gift; that vision, witnessing that experience was what I needed at that very moment to be encouraged. To SEE the reminder that  I Know in my heart, that God is near. Our Father loves US.   He is providing and is caring for US.

We stayed as long as we could, and when it was time to go, we filed out of her room, one by one again as tho we were putting on a parade for the rest of the unit.  We proceeded to sign out and hug goodbye, turn in our badges, make sure we took out what we brought in, and were seen to the door by staff who wished us safety in our drive home.

It’s a somber walk to the car; it feels so wrong to leave one behind. Yet as hard as it was and always IS, it was a good visit.¬† No one complained of the long, back-to-back car ride. We had the best family time we could have, and re-connected some loose emotional strands. ¬†Our family bond is held together not by tape, but rather by a Mighty God, loving Father who uses every situation for good. He loves and cares for us and as long as we are in His will, tho times will be tough, we will be HELD.

I posted this passage of scripture on my Facebook wall, but it’s fitting for this blog post so I’m going to include it here.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body { 2 Corinthians 4:8-10}

And..the Holy Spirit continues to place this on my heart…

After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.  {1Peter 5:10}

Indeed…I have been strengthened for the day.

Today I can say I feel much better. YOUR PRAYERS are making a difference. Thank you. To all the prayer warriors, I feel them. I covet them. My family needs them and appreciates them. The road ahead is long. Thank you for interceding….I can’t say it enough.

We will endure, because With God, NOTHING is impossible. (Luke 1:37)

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Surviving the Cut… (the overview)

“There is no greater feeling of helplessness, than the inability to protect your child from the one person most destructive to their physical, emotional and psychological well-being; THEMSELVES.” (~me)

I have written and planned out and plotted–and deleted– post after post after post. I have journaled and drafted….and come to the conclusion that a series of blogs on this subject matter, as well as a published literary creation is really what needs to come of all I have to say. ¬†I am tonight, just going to start with an “Overview.”

Before I get into this too far, I want to say that I have struggled with sharing/going public with what we have been/are facing. ¬†I want to protect my child–and I have and will continue to in every way, including filtering what I share. ¬†For 2 years I have been very quiet and discreet about the struggles she has/we have been dealing with. I should say that full disclosure and transparency is far from easy. Baring the gritty details of a deeply painful and personal journey is not the least bit comfortable. ¬† However, the time has come to open up. ¬†The effects of what is going reaches every aspect of our lives, and rather than live in secrecy, I choose transparency with discretion.

By shedding light on such serious, difficult issues, my sincere desire is to bring HOPE to those who feel hopeless. That the grace, mercy, provision, LOVE of our mighty Heavenly Father will be seen clearly.  It has been His hand that has guided and most times carried me.   The verse that so often comes to mind, among several, is this:

“God is our refuge and strength; A very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

Our journey started almost 2 years ago; maybe longer when all is said and accounted for. But the *real* outward signs of the deeper issues began to surface 2 years ago.

Depression. Anxiety. Emotional detachment. Withdrawal.  Poor choices/decision making.

Outside counseling began. Then I discovered the self harm (cutting).  My gut told me this was bigger than I even knew; I was right. Suicidal ideation (thoughts) were real and present. So..we experienced our first inpatient psychiatric hospitalization.

We have had in-home tutoring to continue¬†her education without dealing with the overwhelming anxiety of the social stress of being IN school. Several med changes. Different diagnoses, sought better qualified and attentive providers. ¬†I have quit working to be home to care for her and get her where she needed to be for therapy/appointments¬†etc. ¬†We have a very wonderful team of professionals who have helped (and continue to) support and guide us with being on the ‘right track.’

After a very long and difficult, challenging summer, the school year began. ¬†We started with yet a new provider but this time it seems we are with the right group. FINALLY. ¬†However, lack of (timely) and appropriate diagnosis and treatment, despite all the support and best efforts from those of us who know “what to do” have led to increased symptoms and escalated ¬†the existing issues.

This very abbreviated version brings us to fast-forward to the present; we are now experiencing our 4th inpatient hospitalization in 16 months.  Medication adjustments and possible variance in diagnosis are in process and on the horizon.   I am confident that she is in a good, capable facility. I am confident that the Dr is aware and attentive, as are the therapists.  More than anything, I am confident that without the provision and God-given strength, things would be very different now.  He has shown us undeniably, that He is in control, loves us and my child, and that He has a plan for her LIFE.

LIFE.

If I said it was easy, I’d be lying. As a mom…it’s exhausting and at times exasperating and overwhelming. I often feel inept. ¬†It’s visceral to see my sweet, precious child be in so much pain; to feel such an intense level of self-loathing and know there is little if anything I can do to change that makes my momma-heart break. ¬† ¬†Add to this the concern and care for my other children as they try to process and cope with feelings of helplessness and a level of fear of the unknown for their sister.

No one walks away unscathed. ¬†That commercial that I have always found annoying (“Depression hurts..you can help”)–while I still do find it annoying, it’s profoundly on-point with the message. ¬† Mental illness becomes a family affair. ¬†It is often genetic, but that’s not what I mean…I mean in the context of the people who are affected by it.

IN the days and weeks to come I will post more of ¬†my compilations of journal entries. ¬†While it’s her story to tell, it’s also my story. Care givers need to know they are not alone. Victims need to know they are not alone. ¬†I sincerely believe I’m called to speak, to be the voice for so many who can’t find theirs; to bring hope, education, help and exposure to what has and continues to be topics considered by society as taboo.

Let me close this post with this Psalm…insight to what sustains me.

Palm 121 (NIV) “1 I lift up my eyes to the hills– where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven¬†and earth.¬†3 He will not let your foot slip– he who watches over you will not slumber; 4 indeed, he who watches¬†over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The LORD watches over¬†you– the LORD is your shade at your right hand; 6 the sun¬†will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. 7 The LORD will keep you from all harm– he will watch over your life;8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”

We covet your prayers, and I would also ask that if you feel so led, PLEASE share our story as well as the blogs/info that (Lord willing) come in the future with those you feel could benefit, if nothing else, from knowing they are not alone.   Life challenges, especially those we feel we can keep hidden, can be so isolating.

In all that I do, if you see any good in me, to God be all the praise.

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Mother’s Day..(The most wonderful day of the year)

It’s Friday evening; the start to Mother’s Day weekend. ¬†I’m sitting, outside, grilling some dinner, enjoying this gorgeous evening and really looking forward to spending time with my kids over the next couple of days.

I LOVE Mother’s Day. ¬†I’ve heard many times, “When you’re a mom, every day is Mother’s Day”…but, it’s not. ¬†Yes, I love being a mom…but ¬†Mother’s Day is so special to me, especially since I am a mom…and probably even more special to me than my birthday. (which I LOVE also..)

I’ve been an official celebrator of Mother’s Day for 19 years now. ¬†<WOW..that sound like SO long when I type that out! ¬†But..alas, it’s true.> And– this year will be the first year that not all of my children are home to celebrate the day with me. ¬†And while it changes each year as the kids age and the sands of time shift, the amount of JOY found in celebrating my favorite profession (motherhood) with my favorite people on the planet seems to only multiply.

I have found myself looking excitedly to this weekend, and decided to really examine  and reflect on what it is about this day that I really do cherish.

The answer?

My heart is held by 5 amazing human beings that I have been blessed with, given charge of, and simply adore. ¬†From the womb, every single one of these precious people demanded my attention, with pre-term labor and deformity, to miscarrying a twin of one. ¬†From the NICU, ¬†to sports and high school and now college, the journey of being a mom–and an involved mom¬†at that, has been quite an adventure.

There is no better way I can imagine spending the last 19 years of my life, and the remainder of the time God grants me on this earth, than to be the advocate, nurse, parent, disciplinarian, laundry lady, sous chef, hugger, holder, therapist, banker, taxi driver, comforter, friend, protector and guide (among other things) for my children.

Yes…Time marches on. ¬†I miss the elementary days of handmade cards and gifts; I still have them (most of them) and they are among my most treasured worldly possessions. ¬†Middle school tech has provided lovely opportunities for ‘upper level’ art work such as pottery and wood-working. ¬†But what I absolutely treasure most of all, is the selfless time my children give me on Mother’s Day. The doting and ¬†“extra”expressions of their love and admiration and appreciation in word and actions for me, their momma.

Mother’s Day to me, IS the most wonderful day of the year. (ok, Christmas is first, THEN Mother’s day..) ¬†I’s not about how wonderful of a mom I’ve been (I have NOT) or all the wonderful things I do. ¬†Rather, to me, Its the ONE day focused collectively on my 5 beautiful gifts entrusted to my care, that have allowed me the immeasurable joy and pleasure of being a MOM. ¬†They make my world complete. I am forever grateful to God for blessing me with them.

So, Time marches on…this year is a little different of a celebration. This is the first of what will likely be many years of ‘someone’ missing from the table. ¬†Like so many other times in the motherhood journey, it’s the first of many new things to come. ¬†New routine, new ‘normal.’

Motherhood…the toughest job you’ll EVER LOVE. Guaranteed.

And to all you moms..biological or otherwise, I wish you a very¬†Happy Mother’s Day!!!!

 

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