Posted in Anxiety, Depression, Teenager, Love, Poetry

Oh, Turn Your…

When I was alone or felt I was alone as a child, I couldn’t stand it. The minute the door shut and the lights went out I felt like the walls came alive and a living, retching monster might come forth at any given moment and find in me a tasty snack.

Often when I would find myself in this anxiety-inducing darkness, I would hear something from the living room that eased my fears and allowed me to rest. I would hear music.

You see, as far back as I can remember, my mom has been a pianist at church. I grew up with her practicing hymns on the piano. When she’s not actually playing, my mind still recalls stanzas of God’s promises and choruses reminding me of His goodness, His faithfulness, His love. It lives inside of me.

Age 11 often found me sitting outside, usually nestled in the ample bicep of the Oak tree by the back porch, writing. I was usually writing poetry. Writing has always been my solace. It started as a fortress against the monsters in the walls. Like the music mom played, writing in verse and rhyme is a majestic theme my mind uses to relax and feel safe.

In 2017, when I walked the halls of the hospital where my daughter was receiving therapy for her own anxieties, I found myself alone and in a place where, it seemed, a monster was pacing me; it wanted to find me – panicked, cowering, alone.

Instead, my earbuds provided a conduit for those hymns (and few new ones) to invade my heart and flood me with peace in an otherwise terrifying place.

When the soundtrack of your life is God’s love and faith is your refrain, the darkness and the monsters must flee.

Last week Lauren Daigle came out with a new version of one of the old hymns mom used to play on the piano. It is my favorite. My heart just cannot stop singing it. Now when I hear it, it’s my daughter Stephanie’s voice I hear in my heart – she has the most angelic voice I’ve ever heard.

The song? Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

I’m not solely writing to tell you where I go to find my solace.

I’m writing to ask you – “Where do you find yours?”
I’m also asking you to reflect on my favorite song.

This world is far too full of darkness and, despite being so connected, entirely too lonely.

Won’t you turn your eyes?

 

 

 

Posted in Anxiety, Depression, Teenager, Cancer, Life Lessons, Love, Parenting, Word, Word, Truth, Life, Love

Going on a Bear Hunt – I’m Not Scared!

Tonight I feel like I’m in the old nursery rhyme my kids would chant about “Going on a Bear Hunt.” In the chant the kids would search for the bear in various ways (in tall grass, behind a big tree, through a pond) and realize they couldn’t get around these things – they had to go through them.

The opening refrain was:

“Going on a bear hunt,
Gonna catch a big one,
I’m not scared.
What a beautiful day.

Can’t go over it.
Can’t go under it.
Can’t go around it.
Gotta go through it.”

I guess I’ve been on a bear hunt lately. I prepared for this. I’m a researcher – it served me well in grad school. I prepared myself for my bear hunt – a laparoscopic hysterectomy. I was gonna catch a big one – in this case my big bear is Cancer. Getting my uterus out means a lessened threat of Cancer – because these pre-cancerous cells won’t stop multiplying.

I planned to take off a week and a half from work and then work from home for 2 weeks and then go back to the office. A week and a half off of work is what my budget could stand to lose without setting me too far off-track financially. The surgery would cost this much money. I’d be fine. I’ve had surgery before – three of them being c-sections. I could handle this – no problem.
I’m not scared.
And therein lies my problem – I didn’t really prepare for unexpected complications. Certainly not for the strain this particular procedure would have on me – emotionally.
This was supposed to be a beautiful day.
By nature – I’m an encourager. There is nothing I can encourage myself with tonight. I got nothing.
Nothing could have prepared me for a switch between a laparascopic surgery and an open abdominal procedure. Nor for the fact that I seem to be grieving the loss of the womb that carried my three precious children. Nor for the fact that my hormones would cause so many tears. Nor that uncontrollable sobbing would make my stitches burn. Nor for the dread in my heart as I wait to find out if my uterus has Cancer or not.
Nothing.
And why do I feel so guilty for feeling this way? I’m a woman of faith. I feel the hand of God in my life daily. Daily. I know He is with me and for me. I know His Word instructs me not to worry. I know He has not left me – He says so, and I trust Him.
But I feel so guilty.
I feel guilty that my 21-year-old daughter has taken on the full-time job of taking care of her mother because it hurts me just to get out of bed.
I feel guilty that my 17-year-old daughter feels anxiety because of all this.
I feel guilty that I’m missing Gavin’s last week of school, and friend’s graduation parties, and so many things.
And the lonliness I feel is absolutely overwhelming. It’s the dread of not having a partner to walk through this with. It’s been 15 years without a forever kind of love – and I’m wondering if I’m just always going to walk through life without such a love. (More tears.) Is it too much to ask for a loving hand to hold through this? I’m worthy of love, right?
It’s not fair for me to put this off on my friends.
So I struggle silently.

“Can’t go over it.
Can’t go under it.
Can’t go around it
Gotta go through it.”

All I know to do is let nature take its course. I will heal in time. My hormones will regulate. Life will return to a new normal. I just gotta go through it.
I just hope that soon it will again be a beautiful day.
I must close by reminding myself of the words God gave me a few years back:
“What you’re walking through is a life-season, not a life-sentence.”
Love you,
Melissa

Posted in Anxiety, Depression, Teenager, Life Lessons, Word, Word, Truth, Life, Love

Runaway Train

It was midnight in the sleepy trailer park where I lived 3 miles out of town. The house creaked and groaned in the night wind, but was otherwise silent. I stared at the ceiling, then at the shadows the tree branches threw in my window. They felt like hands reaching out to grab me.

I needed air. I needed space. I needed away from the creep next door who decided a 12-year-old looked like fair game. I hated how he looked at me. What he did to me. I hated the bus ride to and from school. The teasing boys. Their name calling: “Cabbage Patch” “Basset Hound”. I had decided at this young age that I was not worthy of love. My mind was a ping-pong table. My thoughts – the ball.

I had gone to bed in my day clothes to make it easier to leave. My 12-year-old self decided running away from my problems would actually solve them. My brilliant plan: I would walk alone in the dark to a house in town some 6 miles away, spend the night, then what? I didn’t know. What I wanted was for my problems to go away.

I left a note. The kind left by a kid who thought she was grown. It surely made no sense.

I left the note, opened and quietly closed the back door, then hurried down the street toward town. In my wake I left a trail of fenced-in howling dogs down all 4 streets in the sleeping trailer park. So much for “quietly.”

It wasn’t until I got out of the neighborhood and onto the open road that my heart started to race. I didn’t dare look back. I felt like Lot’s wife – “don’t look back or you’ll turn into a…”. I didn’t want to think about it, but it was surely worse than a pillar of salt.

A train whistled – far off. An owl whispered. The watchful moon lit the winding road.

I reached a curve. It’s the kind of country-road-curve where there are trees on both sides. The wind picked up. The trees seemed to whistle and cackle and clap as I passed. I didn’t have much life experience at that age, but I felt like I was in the palpable presence of unfettered evil.

So why was it that I felt at peace? Safe, even? I would soon find out.

Lord , you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I stand up; you understand my thoughts from far away. You observe my travels and my rest; you are aware of all my ways. (Psalms 139: 1-3)

I didn’t know how much time had passed. I just remember it seemed like a long time and I had not seen a car pass me all night. I kept walking until I reached the entrance of another trailer park. (I did a GoogleMap search just now. It’s 2.5 miles away.)

That’s when a man in an old station wagon pulled up beside me coming from town. He said, “I was hoping I’d see you again. I saw you earlier and decided if I passed by again and you were still walking, I’d offer you a ride into town. Young’ens like you shouldn’t be out here walking this time a night. I’ll turn the car around to show you I’m headed back into town and I’ll drop you off wherever you’d like. I promise I’m not going to hurt you.” He must have sensed my fear.

It was chilly, I was tired, and confused. No one had passed me all night, right? Chilly and tired won out over fear. When he circled around, I got in the front seat.

You have encircled me; you have placed your hand on me. This wondrous knowledge is beyond me. It is lofty; I am unable to reach it. (Psalms 139: 5-6)

I don’t remember much of our conversation, nor how it was we got to where I wanted to be dropped off so quickly, but I remember he said this: “Wherever you’re going won’t solve what you’re running away from.”

Had I told him I was running away?

Before a word is on my tongue, you know all about it, Lord.
(Psalms 139:4)

When I got out of the car and looked in the direction he drove off in, he disappeared much too quickly. Had I imagined him? I felt oddly at peace.

Where can I go to escape your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I live at the eastern horizon or settle at the western limits, even there your hand will lead me; your right hand will hold on to me. (Psalm 139: 7-10)

Long story short: I got home the next day to a mom who I’d scared sick and to a whole lot more trouble than I ever could have imagined. But that’s not the point of this post.

Let me get to it:

Even if you’re on the road in the dark and think you’re alone and that no one could possibly care, God does. He knows the trouble that awaits you next door. He knows the evil that cackles and hisses and lurks around every blind curve. He knows the names they call you. He even knows the names you call yourself.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light around me will be night”  — even the darkness is not dark to you. The night shines like the day; darkness and light are alike to you.
(Psalms 139:11‭-‬12)

When I blog and speak and breathe about Jesus, it’s because He isn’t a historical figure in a book – HE IS LIFE.

And I don’t and won’t know certain things this side of Heaven, but I know for sure that He is real. I know for a fact He sent a messenger to drive me to safety that night. He is Creator, Father, Friend. And since He made me and loves me – I am worthy of love.

For it was you who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise you because I have been remarkably and wondrously made. Your works are wondrous, and I know this very well.
(Psalms 139:13‭-‬14)

I just wanted you to know that you are worthy of being loved.

You just are!

Love you,

Melissa