Ripping off the mask

I wore a mask for a long time……..I mean a really long time…….like for years.  It was a pretty good mask too.  It did its job well. It kept people at a safe distance and gave them something nice to look at.  It was a mask of a put together, happily married and secure woman.  But underneath it was a scared, damaged, prideful, insecure and lonely girl.

You see, because of things I dealt with as a child, addiction and abuse, I learned that if I performed well, I was accepted.  If I acted like I had my crap together, if I acted happy, if I acted strong, then I would always have validation.  So, I spent a lot of time working on my mask, perfecting it, cleaning it, altering it and securing it to my face well, when in fact I should have been working on the junk and mess underneath the mask.  Instead of facing hard truths, instead of changing and replacing bad self talk, I would just add another layer of make up to my mask, make it nice and shiny and go on seeking validation and finding my worth in the acceptance of others.

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When you rip off a mask that you have worn for so long, it reveals raw flesh.  That flesh is sensitive and needs protection and nutrients to grow back properly.  I have ripped off the mask and am now working on getting that raw exposed skin the protection and nutrients it needs to grow back healthy.

If you look at my raw skin you’ll see someone who is afraid of rejection, afraid that she will be abandoned again, that she is not good enough, that her flaws are too great in number, that she isn’t understood, that she isn’t likeable and that she isn’t worth it.

I decided a few months ago that I’d rather live a raw, honest life, even if it’s messy, than the life I lived behind that mask.  The truth is I don’t have it all together, not even close.  The truth is that I wasn’t honest with my friends and family about the struggles I was facing in my life and in my marriage.  The truth is that I got lost for a time and made mistakes that hurt my husband, my kids, my friends and my family and that almost cost me my marriage.  The truth is that I stopped looking to my God as my source of validation and acceptance…….wait……the real truth is that I never really fully submitted myself to Him in order to put my whole identity inside the light of His love.  Even in my relationship with God, I held some things back.  The ugly truth is that I never fully trusted Him with those dark places.

I see now that I was living a fake life.  I was acting. I performed day after day and was living this half existence, not fully submitted or dependent upon on Him.  I have ripped the mask off and now I stand here exposed and raw and vulnerable.  I am desperately searching for my identity in Christ and totally and wholly dependent upon Him.  I have a lot of renovating to do.  I am tearing things out and allowing Him to tear things out, to tear my broken places down so that He can rebuild me.  He is the source of nutrients for this raw skin.

I will no longer wear a mask.  As uncomfortable as it is, I will stand with my real self, flaws and all, totally exposed.  And here in this place of total vulnerability  I am learning that I am loved by Him right where I am, in spite of all I have done, and that He wants to rebuild me and reshape not only how I see Him but how I see myself.  My life may not always be pretty but it’s finally real.  And I so thank God that He is not through with me yet.

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The ramblings of an old pregnant lady…

Itstock-pregnant-silhouette-re3     So, as I am sitting here, approaching my 38th week of pregnancy, I realize that I am approaching this 3rd pregnancy much differently than I did the previous two.  I know much of it has to do with my age and where I am in life.  And the truth is, the place I am in life is a kind of weird mixture of a couple different seasons.  I am now in my 30’s and I have a teenager.  Having a teenager in the house is like living with an alien sometimes.  It often feels like we are speaking two different languages, which makes communication very difficult.  Don’t even get me started on the hormones, which on their own are hard enough to manage.  But you have a hormonal teenager and a hormonal pregnant lady in the same house…….needless to say, things get a little ridiculous at times……and a lot of tissues are gone through.  Poor Thomas and Abbey.  I’m not sure what it says about the state of our house emotionally when Thomas and my Aspie daughter are the two most stable people in the room lol!

There are certain areas of my life though that are much less dramatic though.  For instance, there’s not much anxiety or stress surrounding the impending arrival of our little bundle of joy.  Is our nursery ready? Sure isn’t, but I know it’ll get there.  I also know that Hanley will be sleeping in our room for the first bit of her life so if there’s not a crib set up, it’s not the end of the world.  I’m not worried about breastfeeding or sleep schedules or routines either.  I know that we will get into our groove and it will all work out.  I have already been through it twice and I have learned that things just seem to work out.

I am also in a place where I find myself re-evaluating relationships, friendships and how I want to spend my time.  Now, I know I am beyond blessed to have some amazing women in my circle who are selfless, helpful, smart, strong and talented.  I know that I could call almost any of them at 2am and they would answer the phone and be wherever I needed them to be.  I also have a very small group of what I consider close friends and they are the ones that I try very hard to make time for.  But I have been feeling like there are times that I try too hard to hold onto to friendships that were only meant for a season.  I am learning that sometimes, a person is only meant to be one of my people for a time and then our time is supposed to end.  And it doesn’t have to be a negative thing.  There is a graceful way to part ways in a friendship and recognize that the season for that relationship has come to an end.  I have a couple of people who I know are in my life for the long haul and I love them dearly.  But as I move further into this combination of seasons, I feel as though I am being led to step back from some of the other relationships.  I feel like I am becoming more protective of my time and just me in general.  I need super safe places to really open up and vulnerable.  And I really need people to be authentic with me and in their life.  I am becoming less tolerant of people who are not genuine in all areas of their life.   I still love the people in my life that are in that place but I guess I am just officially too old to have time for those silly games.  I have been there, I have struggled with people pleasing and trying to be everything to everyone and I am done with it.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love being around younger ladies and watching as they grow and figure things out and overcome obstacles.  I love the young women and mothers in my Bible Study and I would drop everything to be there for them.  But, when it comes to my safe place and the people I allow to see every part of me and give permission to call me out when I am being stupid, I need real, authentic, grounded women who really understand and get me.  And that means I may have to gracefully bow out of some relationships.

Getting older sort of sucks.  My body is struggling with this pregnancy in ways I never dealt with when I was pregnant in my 20’s.  I don’t understand most of the new lingo that my son tries to teach me.  I find myself using phrases like, “when I was your age” and “you kids today…” and when I talk I swear I hear my parent’s voices coming out of my mouth.  But there’s also some peace and security that has come with getting older.  I know more about who I am and I am more comfortable with that person than I was when I was younger.  So, while my body my ache more and my bed time may get earlier and earlier, I don’t think I would trade that for the benefits that come with aging.

I am so excited to meet Hanley and I know that the nursery will come together and our house will eventually go back to being semi-organized.  And while my body screams at me everyday while carrying her, I recognize that the fact that I am even pregnant is a miracle.  So, right now I am going to sit back, drink my tea and enjoy this weird combination of seasons that I find myself in……because it is sure to be one heck of a ride.

It takes a village….

Blood….and a lot of it.  I know people tend to exaggerate in times of stress but this is no exaggeration.  Our bathrooms looked like a scene from a slasher movie.  My husband had blood pouring out of his ear like a faucet.  He started to panic and I immediately switched into nurse mode.  I grabbed a towel and two chuck pads and we headed to Vanderbilt.  My grip on the steering wheel was so tight that my knuckles were literally white.  I tried to stay calm and I tried to keep Thomas focused on breathing and holding pressure.  I’m sure he will tell you that I wasn’t the most compassionate in my delivery and I know that on more than one occasion I informed him that he wouldn’t die from pain but that he would have a big problem if he didn’t hold pressure and stop the bleeding.  I’ll be honest, the amount of blood he was losing was beginning to concern me but there was no way I was going to tell him that.  Once his doctor saw him, he found that Thomas had an arterial bleed.  They took him back for surgery to cauterize the vessel.  Prior to the diagnosis I wasn’t sure what was going on and my natural inclination is to isolate and shut down when I’m stressed, so I did not really tell anyone what was going on.  I called my mom on the way to Nashville to see if she could meet me on the interstate and drive so I could hold pressure. She was the only one who knew what was going on. My mom alerted our pastor and a few key friends while we waited in the ED.  Once he was in surgery I posted on our women’s group page and asked for prayer.

Most who know me also know that I hate asking for help.  I don’t even ask for prayer very often.  But before Thomas was  out of surgery, I had texts and phone calls checking on him, offering prayers and asking if there was anything that we needed.  We also had meals organized and taken care of for us for the coming week.  Without asking or prompting, we had friends and family come together and offer overwhelming support for my family.  And every day since Saturday we have had a different family show up to our home and bring us a meal.  As each person leaves I think about the time it took them to make it, the fact that they cared enough to help and how blessed we are to have each of them in our life.

You see, our church is truly a family.  We don’t just wave and shake hands on Sundays.  We DO life together.  We LIVE life together.  We laugh together, we cry together, we grieve together, we pray together, we raise our children together, we bury family together, we grow in grace together, we challenge each other, we serve together, we fail together and we succeed together.  Our relationships run deep.  We have more than just fellowship, we have family.

The families that have been bringing us meals will never truly know how meaningful it has been to us.  Aside from Thomas recovering from almost back to back surgeries, I have been dealing with my own health issues.  Getting around day to day is becoming more and more difficult for me.  My pride wanted to have the meals stop after Monday.  I figured a couple of days was plenty and I didn’t want to continue to inconvenience anyone.  However, with each day I realized how much having dinner taken care of was really lifting a burden from me.  Having to take care of Thomas, the kids and myself is a little tougher than I anticipated and the truth is we really have needed the help.  This situation has really convicted me of the issue I have with my pride.

I am more than thankful that we have a community, a village of people in our lives that share our burdens with us.  And we share theirs. My children know that they have people invested in their lives and that truly care about them.  I can’t imagine our lives without these people.  It doesn’t just take a village to raise a child, it takes a village to raise a family and at our church, we have created that.

My goodbye gift to The Riner’s

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I’ve been working on this blog for a couple of months now.  It has been hard to put my emotions into words.  I have said good-bye to a lot of friends but this parting of paths was a little different.  And for me, I don’t take the term “friend” lightly.  It’s a relationship that I take seriously and I hold it in high regard.  So to say someone is a “good friend” is an even weightier statement.  These two dear people are beyond “good friends”, they are life friends and I wasn’t sure how to author this.  Needless to say, I put it off for as long as possible but it can be avoided no longer so here it goes….

Today we said “See you later” to Kevin and Carrie Riner as they embark on the adventure of planting a new church in Lewisburg.  It is a bittersweet experience for me as I walk the line between selfishly wanting to keep them here and supporting the next phase that they are moving onto.  I want them nearby, leading worship, working with my kids and smiling at me as I show up to church on Sundays, however I cannot deny that I see the obvious call on their life, and have watched them grow and acknowledge that God is calling them to step into the next season of their life.

My story with Kevin and Carrie is a long one.  And in 6 years we a have experienced joy and sorrow and laughter and tears.  There is a beauty in a friendship that has been put through fire.  It is a relationship that is refined and strengthened when it comes out of the heat and flames.  When you walk through some of the battles that we’ve walked through together, there is a bond, an unspoken knitting together of hearts and souls that exists.  I, along with a few other women, layed hands and prayed over Carrie as she and Kevin struggled to conceive.  I remember getting the news that they were pregnant.  I was blessed enough to be present when that beautiful spitfire Levi was born into this world and I got to witness him take his first breath.  Together, the 4 of us (and my dad) stood and faced the possibility of a closing church and decided to fight for what we believed God had planned.  We have stood as Kevin sang Amazing Grace at Thomas’ dad’s funeral.  We smiled as he sang a Dave Matthew’s song at our vow renewal.  Kevin and I have fought and argued on numerous occasions during band practice and I lost count of how many times I mentally made the decision to “quit” the worship team after one of our disagreements, only to change my mind 10 minutes later.

These two extraordinary people have challenged me, supported me, prayed with me, prayed for me, laughed with me (and at me), cried with me, believed in me and loved me no matter what.  They accept me for who I am but never want me to be complacent with where I am.  And they have done all of these things for my husband as well.  Lewisburg is blessed to be receiving this couple and yet I know that there will be people who walk by them day after day and not know the incredible hearts of these two people.  I count myself blessed to have met them, to have walked with them and ministered with them and I count myself even more blessed to have the opportunity to watch as God uses them to change the families and the future generations in that community.  I know that I am not saying good-bye but it doesn’t take much of the sting out of today.  I love you two and I am looking forward to the awesome testimonies that I know are coming out of your willingness to step out into the unknown.

Question and answer

     Today I started a new devotional called Joy & Strength. This book was complied by Mary Wilder Tileston more than 100 years ago. I just recently finished a study of Gideon and had finally gotten in the habit of having a daily time of not just reading God’s Word but also studying it and then figuring out how to apply it. I really enjoyed having that time each day so once I was finished I immediately began to look for something else. As I was browsing through the bookstore I came across this unassuming little purple book with nice purple flowers. In my mind I’m thinking “Oh good, a nice little devotional that will give me some encouragement daily and will help me find joy in my every day life”. I realize now how shallow that was and how I was really looking to stay in my comfort zone. I had read a couple days of content just to get an idea of what it covered and it was very challenging but I just assumed that those days were thrown in to add some depth, I had no idea that the entire devotional was not intended for wimpy women. Man, was that cover deceiving with it’s pretty purple flowers and nice cream ribbon……day one has thoroughly kicked my butt.
      The scripture from Colossians was good, I was feeling ok as I proceeded to read the first excerpt written by Elizabeth Prentiss. It was long so I won’t share it here but it completely caught me off guard. I had to stop for a moment before I continued on to the second excerpt which was written by Henry Edward Manning, which said this: “Let us pray for Him, therefore, to cast in us the mind that was in Christ, that we may offer up ourselves to be disposed of as He sees best, whether for joy or sorrow; to be slighted or esteemed; to have many friends, or to dwell in a lonely home to be passed by, or called to serve Him and His kingdom in our own land, or among people of a strange tongue; to be, to go, to do, to suffer even as He wills, even as He ordains, even as Christ endured, ‘who, through the eternal Spirit, offered Himself without spot to God.'”……..wow………I literally just sat at my dining room table staring at the page.
      I have never prayed any prayer even close to that. I had to ask myself in that moment, “Am I really willing to suffer for Christ?” am I willing to totally and fully submit my will to His? I’d like to think I am but if I’m being honest, I’ve never really allowed God to ask that of me.
I am starting to realize that maturing in my faith is not just about reading the Bible more and learning more scripture and becoming more eloquent when I pray. It is more about bending my will and submitting it His. The more I grow and mature the less attractive that can start to look. You see, I think we tend to desire to place God in a beautiful box and place Him on a beautiful shelf in a beautifully decorated life. We like to show Him off to friends and family as though He is some sort of accessory that enhances our life. And what I am realizing is that it’s not His job or desire to enhance my life. He is not the pretty gold cord that ties it all together, He is supposed to be centerpiece and foundation off of which everything in my life stands and and revolves around. I have not really given Him that place in my life yet.
      I have submitted to Him in situations where I can logically justify it, where I can still find a way to be comfortable through the situation. That’s not spiritual maturity, that’s how my 6 year old acts when she is trying to find a loophole in whatever rule I have layed out for her. Am I willing to give up a comfortable, pedicured life for a messy, sometimes, if not often, difficult life? If He asks, am I submitted enough to Christ that I will sacrifice my desire for His? In theory, I say yes. Yes, I am willing to do that, but the truth is I have not really allowed myself to be put in a position where I let God ask me that question and then let Him give me the answer.

Stuff I’m learning

     Every so often my pastor will post a blog about the stuff he’s learning.  So, I decided to rip him off and do my own version of what I’ve been learning.  Hope you don’t mind Carlo!!

     Most of you know that I was diagnosed with endometriosis in December of last year.  And if I’m being honest, I went through a period of time after that where  I was feeling a bit sorry for myself.  I cried a lot and had a lot of pity parties for myself.  I wondered “why me?”  as if I was any better than any other woman who has this disease.  One day as I was saying that in my head I decided to say it out loud just to hear myself say it.  Once the words came out of my mouth I realized how stupid I sounded.  I felt a wave of conviction that made me drop to my knees and cry out to God.  I began to say over and over how sorry I was for the way I was thinking and viewing my situation.  And just like He always does, He was quick to comfort me.  That day was a turning point for me and my attitude about my life and my health situation.

     I decided that I was no longer going to feel sorry for myself.  Yes, I have a disease that is extremely painful and is becoming more debilitating for me…..but I also have a God that wants to use this for something awesome.  Do I know what that is right now?  Absolutely not!  But I decided that day, to submit this to Him.  If I have this disease then I want it to mean something, I want God to work something beautiful out of this.  Do I believe that He gave me this disease? No I don’t.  But I do believe that it passed through His loving hands before coming to me.  I know that through this I am learning a lot about how I viewed God and it is changing my walk with Him drastically. 

     I cannot do what He has called me to do on my own.  I sort of knew that already but now I have days where I literally cannot get out of bed.  So, I start my day talking to God and fully relying on Him to give me the strength to get up and get through my day.  Having to depend on Him daily has radically shaken up my faith.  He has used this opportunity to show His power and love to me and I have been able to experience Him in a very real way every day.  That is something that I was not experiencing as frequently before.  I was too busy checking things off my daily to do list to really slow down and see that even those things were not done in my own strength and talents.  I had deceived myself into thinking that I was good, smart and strong enough to handle everything on my own and I would just call in “back-up” for the big things.  How silly that sounds now as I look back……  and it is still something that I have to battle with occasionally.

     Not only was I feeling sorry for myself but I was also feeling badly about being honest with people when they would ask how I was doing or feeling that day.  I would start to tell them the truth but then would begin for feel guilty for dumping my problems or struggles on them so I would downplay it or just outright lie.  And I’ve realized that I shouldn’t be ashamed of having bad days and I shouldn’t shy away from being honest about just how hard some days can be.  Why?  Because I can use those opportunities to show people that God is working in my life.  I can share that He has made Himself available to me every day to rely on and depend on.  What purpose does it serve to make myself appear to have everything together and not need anything?  It’s a lie and it cheapens the amazing testimony that I could have because of this.  If people feel uncomfortable with me being honest about how I’m doing then that is there issue.  I have decided to be honest about this disease, my struggle with it and how God is using it to change and mold me. 

     Something else I am learning is adversity not only reveals your own character but also the character of those around you.  Since this diagnosis and it’s impact on my life, I have noticed that some of the people I thought would be my biggest supporters and encouragement were some of the first ones to sort of disappear.  I don’t really hear from them asking how I’m doing, if I need anything or just want to hang out.  That was rough to deal with at first.  But then other people starting to step up and really started to reach out and show genuine concern and care  for me and what  I was dealing with.  They began to research the disease and learn more about it so they could better understand what it was.  They texted me just to see how I was doing and started to call me out when I tried to pretend like I was ok.  They refused to let me be fake with them.  They have layed hands on me and prayed for me when I was on the verge of tears because of the pain.  And some of these people were the last ones I expected to be there.  Some of them were people that I wasn’t super close to previously.  God has certainly used this to show me that I don’t really need what I thought I needed and that He has placed certain people in my life for certain seasons and the ones that I need will stay around when times are tough.  Many of the people I considered close friends before barely speak to me now except for generic small talk, my circle of close friends has shrunk significantly and I am totally fine with that now.  These wonderful people not only encourage me and pray for me and help me when I am having a rough day physically but they also are challenging me and helping me grow.  They allow me to be honest and they actually want to know how I am doing when they ask.  Anything but the truth with them is not acceptable and becoming more vulnerable with people is something that I was afraid of before.  I am having to no longer accept my excuses for being guarded and allow myself to be real and raw with the people that God has put in my life. 

     My disease sucks, there’s nothing nice or glamorous about it.  But, I have decided that instead of being sad or angry I am going to give it my God everyday and let Him use it to change me, cause me to grow and ultimately let it be a testimony of His awesome power.  Do I still have crap days?  Yep, I sure do.  Will I continue to have crap days?  Yep, I sure will.  But I chose not to linger in those feelings.  I chose to completely rely on God and even when I don’t understand the purpose of this, I chose to believe that He works all things together for His good and glory.  Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I chose to feel blessed that I get to deepen my walk with Him in a very real way.  My faith in Him is no longer abstract or something that  I rely on only in really dire situations.  It has become very real to me and without this disease I am not sure that I would have slowed down long enough to have allowed that to happen. 

Your words can matter.

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Today I am officially one week away from completing my third semester of nursing school.  I have 4 tests left until I can relax for a few months before my final year.  This is the time in the semester that we receive our clinical evaluations.  Our clinical instructors rate our performance based on several criteria and for us to pass this cohort we must meet or exceed certain requirements.  Thankfully I have never been in a position where I was nervous about seeing my evaluation but I am always curious to see what my instructors think about how I provide patient care, how I interact with my patients and the areas in which I need to improve.

Now, most of you who know me know that I suffer from a condition (that I believe to be hereditary)……..it’s called “Chronic B#*@& Face”.  I am fully aware of this ailment and have had to deal with the side effects of it.  I have spent a good part of my life explaining that “this is just how I look” and “no, I promise I’m not pissed”.  And to be honest, at this point, if you call me a friend, I am going to address this right here and right now, THIS IS MY FACE……DEAL WITH IT.  However, I have been somewhat convicted about how my facial expression, or lack thereof, can be off-putting to those who do not know me.  And, in the area of ministry that I believe I am called to, this is an area that I need to actively improve in.  As uncomfortable as it may be for me, I am going to have to make the effort to soften my face and try to make people feel more comfortable around me.  Knowing this about myself caused me some anxiety when it came time to start interacting with my patients.  I had to find a way to make sure my patients know that I really care about them and I was very nervous that they would think I was mean and rude and a “B”.

     Ever since my first semester of nursing school I have prayed for a clinical instructor that would be a good fit for me.  Not one that I necessarily would just love but one that would challenge me, that I could learn from and more than anything, one that really got me and saw my heart behind why I’m in school and didn’t judge me solely based on my face.  The past two semesters I truly have been blessed to have amazing instructors.  I have formed real bonds with them and I know that I will continue to stay in touch with them even after I graduate.  My instructor this semester in particular really saw past my facade and has encouraged me in a way that I desperately needed.  As worried as I was about adjusting my nonverbal communication with my patients, what I found is that once I entered my patient’s rooms, I didn’t have to make the effort to alter my face or tone.  It came naturally for some reason.  I cannot explain it except to say that when I care for a patient, no matter how small or menial or gross the task is, I feel like I’m operating in part of God’s call for my life.  By no means am I excited to get up at 4:30/5:00am to put on my baggy red and white scrubs and drive to the hospital while it is still pitch black trying to down a butt-load of coffee to “perk up”, but once I step into that room and start interacting with my patients, something sweeps over me and I am truly alive in those moments.  Now, once I step out of that room I notice that my face resumes the “as you were” pissy look it normally has and I am trying to work on that as well.  However, the instructor I had this semester, took the time to watch me with my patients, she sat with me while I cried over a hospice patient whose daughters struggled with end of life decisions and helped me process my anger at the doctor who wasn’t providing the best care for him, she saw that I spent time digging through patient records and labs and asked questions so that I could understand the pathology behind my patient’s diagnosis and what complications could result from it, she heard about the patients sharing with the nursing manager that I provided compassionate care and made a patient more confident in the hospital and nurses in general.  I do not say any of this to brag at all, most people know that I get embarrassed about praise like that.  I say this because my clinical instructor not only saw this, most without my knowledge, but she made sure to share with me what she saw.

     Knowing how I can come across to people sometimes causes a great deal of insecurity for me.  I am always worried that someone isn’t going to really see the real me and for this instructor to see that other side of me and then share that with me, was so encouraging.  It felt like confirmation that  I am truly pursuing what God is calling me to do.  I know with what I ultimately see myself doing, working with women and teen girls, I need to have a certain presence that is comforting and that is something that I am going to actively pursue and change.  But, to see that there are parts of me that naturally operate in a compassionate way and there are others who see it, gives me the peace and encouragement that I need to continue on.

So, I encourage you to pursue those things that God is calling you to and if you are in a place to see and validate someone, please don’t hesitate to do so.  You never know what those words could do for someone.  They may be on the verge of giving up and walking away.  Never pass up an opportunity to speak life to someone.

A diagnosis

endo     Endometriosis is a “disease in which tissue similar to the lining inside the uterus (called “the endometrium”) is found outside the uterus, where it induces a chronic inflammatory reaction that may result in scar tissue.  It is primarily found on the pelvic peritoneum, ovaries, in the recto vaginal septum, on the bladder, and bowel.  In very rare cases it has been found on the diaphragm and in the lungs”.  It affects 1 in 10 women
     There is no known cure and, although endometriosis can be treated effectively with drugs, most treatments are not
suitable for long term use due to side effects.  Surgery can be effective to remove endometriosis lesions and scar
tissue, but success rates are dependent on the extent of disease and the surgeon’s skills. Pregnancy may relieve
symptoms but is not a cure for the disease. Hysterectomy, with surgical removal of all the disease at the same time,
may relieve symptoms, but is not a “definitive cure” either.
     In December I had laparoscopic surgery to remove a cyst.  Now I had been dealing with intense and at times, debilitating pain since October.  I was nauseous all of the time and it became very hard to function normally.  I was struggling to keep up in school and there were nights that  I couldn’t even tuck my own daughter into bed because I couldn’t move.  Mr doctor wanted to give the cyst 6 weeks to shrink or resolve completely, which did not happen.  He told me that there was a possibility that I had endometriosis but it wouldn’t be confirmed until surgery.  Fast forward to 2 weeks post-op….I received a phone call from my doctor with the pathology report.  He confirmed that I did indeed have endometriosis.
     If I’m honest, dealing with this diagnosis has been very very hard for me.  Learning about what this does to the body, how it affects so many areas of a woman’s life and her fertility,  and how painful this can become has been a bit overwhelming.  I am learning that not many people really understand the intensity of the pain that is involved when endo flares up and most tend to think you are exaggerating.  I have also learned that almost everyone “knows” someone who had it or has it and they are “doing just fine”.  I think that frustrates me more than the pain.  The dismissal from people who think you are just being over dramatic.  I have started to fake being ok because I feel like no one really gets how much pain I am in sometimes so it’s just easier to say everything is ok.
     I’ve decided that I won’t let this disease define who I am or tell me what I can do.  Now, there are some days that I am not as sure about that statement and I start to feel sorry for myself.  Those are the days that I have to lean on my family and friends for support and turn to God for strength.  I am determined to find peace in God even though I may not understand what is going on.
     I know some will wonder why I am posting this blog.  The reasons are simple: to raise awareness (this disease affects 1 in 10 women during their reproductive years), encourage those who are battling endo and to help open the eyes of those who know someone with endo.  The worst thing you can do is to dismiss this disease and the effects of it.  The pain is real, the fatigue is real.  Women with endo need the support of those around them, we need you to believe us when we say we are having a bad endo day(which means we are in a lot of pain) and we need you encourage us when we feel overwhelmed.

Let’s do this……again!!!

There are children in Clarksville, right now, who are starving.  There are kids in our city who are going to bed hungry, waiting for school to start in the morning so that they can have something to eat.  You know how you feel when you miss a meal……you get cranky, you may get a headache, you start to feel nauseous.  Now imagine having to go bed like that every night and then spending the weekend like that as well because your only source of food is the school cafeteria.

All across America and our city, children are going without food every weekend. That means for up to 67 hours each weekend, these children have no food to eat. Most of these children are on state assistance however the food is not getting to them.

Right now, about 1400-1600 children are being fed in Clarksville through the FUEL program but there are still many, many children who are in need.  Specific foods are gathered at churches and placed in grocery style bags. The bags are delivered to school and placed directly in the back packs of the children. The children are selected by the schools, not based on income, but on signs of hunger.  These bags are specifically put together to address the nutritional needs of the child over the weekend when they won’t have access to any other food sources.

We just got through the holiday season and many of us enjoyed an abundance of food.  How many of us threw away leftovers because we couldn’t eat them fast enough and they went bad?  How many of us got “tired” of turkey and potatoes and just tossed what was left in the garbage?  2 years ago I posted a blog about Chik-Fil-A Appreciation Day and how I wanted to see that kind of support shown for something to help children in our own city who need to eat, you can read the original blog post here: https://hemyers.wordpress.com/2012/08/02/lets-do-this/ .  In a just a few days we had almost $2000 donated to the FUEL Program.  I was  blown away!  Unfortunately, the need still exists and it has actually grown.  About a month ago I saw a lot of Facebook posts about Duck Dynasty and people making a public statement of support for the Robertson family.  So I am now putting out the same call and challenge as before………Let’s make a statement of support for the children who need to eat.

You can make donation jars and ask people for change.  You can make phone calls and send emails asking people to send a donation, of any size.  All of the money goes directly to feeding these kids.  I can’t think of a better cause than to feed a child, who may be your child’s friend or who could, under the right circumstances be your child.  As a city we should be standing up and saying that this is not acceptable.  No child should have to deal with hunger pains day after day.  We have so much, let’s be generous and give to others who are in need.  Let’s see how much money we can raise in 2 weeks!  Collection day will be February 2nd and you can mail donations to GraceLife Church Attn FUEL PO Box 2472 Clarksville Tn, 37042 or give online at gracelifeclarksville.com and designate FUEL.  You can reach me by email at myersteam@yahoo.com.  I believe, when united, our city can do amazing things.  Let’s do this again!!!!

For more information about the FUEL program visit their website at: http://www.fuelforkids.org/

There are hungry children in our community. Children who are hungry struggle to learn, underachieve academically, experience poor health, and are at risk of not graduating.

kids with blank sign

FuelKids is a food subsidization program designed to feed those children whose only food source may be the food they are receiving at school. History shows children fed by our program experience increased academic scores, are better citizens in the classroom, and are more likely to come to school every day

Working with Churches and local businesses, specific foods are gathered and placed into grocery style bags. The bags are then delivered to local schools and placed directly into the backpacks of the children. The children are selected by the schools, not based on income, but on signs of hunger.

Please help us eliminate child hunger in our community by volunteering your time or by making a donation today.

 

Guilt free getaway??

     Why is it so hard for women to take a break?  Almost all of the women that I know are extremely busy ladies.  They are moms, some with multiple children, some work, some are back in school, some are homeschooling their own children and involved in some sort of ministry.  Just planning a night to go out either with the spouse or with friends can take days if not sometimes weeks in advance to plan.  You have to match up schedules and arrange for childcare so needless to say, the women I know aren’t going out for a good time every week. 

     Even though getting out and relaxing is such a rare occasion, once the opportunity arises, women struggle with the guilt of actually taking time for themselves away from the family.  Why is that?  Why are we so quick to give to others but so hesitant to give to ourselves?

     This past semester was a struggle for me, especially at the end.  During the week of finals my husband was gone at Corrections Academy so I had to deal with home, school, church and 2 soccer schedules on my own.  Now, I understand that wives of deployed soldiers do this all the time, however I did not marry a soldier for that very reason.  I was the child of 2 military parents and I made the decision that I did not want to sign up for that life. But, I have nothing but respect for the women (and men) who are military spouses.  Somehow I Forrest Gumped my way through those couple of weeks and managed to pass my classes and not kill my kids.  I give all of the credit to God and my supportive family and friends.  One of the things that kept me motivated during that was the promise of a beach trip with a group of women from my church.  I knew that in a few weeks I would have the opportunity to just sit and relax in the sand while staring at the ocean.  My favorite place in the world is the ocean.  I feel more at peace when I am at the ocean than anywhere else.  And I LOVE jumping and playing in the waves.  Now as the day of departure nears I find myself battling this sense of guilt for leaving my kids to enjoy some time at the beach.  I know having this time to myself to recharge will make me a much better mom for them when I get back but I feel almost ashamed for needing time away.  I struggle with feeling like a poor mother because I need a break from my children every now and again. 

     Then I begin to think about the kind of mom my kids deserve.  They deserve a happy, joyful, peaceful home and as the mother I am responsible for determining the atmosphere of our home.  If I am stressed and unhinged it is going to be reflected in everything I do.  I don’t think that becoming a mother and wife means that you have to lose yourself and give up the things that make you happy and make you who you are.  You absolutely have to spend less time doing those things but you don’t have to give them up altogether.  I want my kids to know me and the things that make up who I am what I love.  I mean, those are the things that make me unique.  All of you fellow mothers, wives and women have those things that are just part of who you are.  Don’t give them up and sacrifice who you are totally for your family.  Make time to nurture yourself, take care of yourself and get back in touch with those parts of you that tend to get neglected in the daily grind of life.  Your children want to see those awesomely unique parts of your personality.  I believe we are better moms and wives when we take time for ourselves.

     I’m not sure that I’ll ever get to a place where I totally feel guilt free when I leave my kids to spend some time away.  But I am getting more comfortable accepting and admitting that I need that time.  I shouldn’t feel badly about that.  And neither should you. 

Destin,Florida…… here we come!!!!

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