These last few months have been a whirlwind of life events and heavy emotions. So many highs and so many lows. After I went for so long in silence, the silence just intensified until it seemed like I'd given up all together. I think depression is kind of like that too. At first you say, it's only one bad moment, or one bad day, and tomorrow will pick back up again, start fresh... Then you wake up one morning and you've gained 5 lbs, have absolutely no energy, annoyed with everyone, and just so completely down on yourself that you can't even muster the energy to try.
The guilt is the biggest emotion that signals to me that something isn't quite right. I'll say something to Evalee, yell, be insanely quick to anger over something so small and insignificant, then the guilt rains down... pours in through the windows of my sinking vehicle. "Why did I say that? She's only being 4 years old! I am a terrible mother. I'm going to ruin her. I can't let her feel shame like I felt shame my whole life. What is wrong with me?!" The enemy loves shame. I'd say it's his greatest tool. It keeps you down on yourself, the holy, wonderful creation of God. It makes you hide in darkness away from his glorious saving light. Shame builds up walls around your precious heart, and keeps you separate from everyone and everything, including Christ. Because to know Christ, is to know you are loved beyond reason, while Shame tells you, "you are not worthy of love."
I decided to write today, because I've decided to seek out JOY again, no matter the heaviness and density of the fog. Ever determined to trust in what God tells me is true, and moment by moment wrench myself out of this hiding place and into God's loving, saving grace. But, I needed a plan! an umbrella, so to speak, to help me see through the storm. I've decided my umbrella will be a new goal. An old goal really that had been buried under layers of insecurities and motherhood and responsibility, or at least that was my excuse at the time. Ever since my senior year in high school, I dreamed of competing in an NPC or IFBB event. I was a heavy girl, both physically and emotionally, so the idea of competing and putting my physique up on stage for judgement, seemed so impossible at the time, an honest to God DREAM! As my health and fitness grew over the years, so did my spiritual wisdom need to grow and confidence in order to turn this dream into a possibility.
I was on my way there, the Summer of 2017. I had reached my body fat percentage goal and had began to research coaches and competitions. The dream was becoming realized, and it terrified but excited me. Maybe it was my fear of success or my self-sabotaging behavior, or maybe it was the loss of a dear friend that summer to a drunk driver, but I gave up on my goal and fell back into some old emotional eating habits. John's death shook me. My world seemed flipped upside down, where nothing made sense anymore. Not even God. How could he let this happen? Why would he do this to me, to them, to the world? I was angry with God, and didn't feel like trying anymore. What was the point? I could die tomorrow, why not enjoy today? Shortly after his death, I became pregnant with my son, Solomon, and then that became my excuse to eat whatever I wanted and to put on even more weight.
Since Solomon's birth, I've been on a slow journey back to health and fitness. Because I struggled with postpartum anxiety and depression, I had to make so many daily choices. I had to choose to get up every morning. I had to choose to be kind. I had to choose to love on my babies who needed me even though it all felt like an act. I had to choose to be around other people and to let other people see the mess. So many choices that were about and for my kids and showing up even though it felt impossible. I couldn't focus on food choices and meal prep choices. Getting a shower in more than once a week was hard enough on its own.
With Solomon's first birthday quickly approaching, and my husband's college graduation right around the corner, I feel like I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. My hormones are definitely better. I know I'll feel more comfortable weaning Sully from breastfeeding now that he's reached that 1 year mark. And the most important change this time, is my Tribe of Mommy Friends around me. If Christ is my light, then I'll need lots and lots of torches to accomplish this goal. My Mommy Tribe is my everything. They pick me up when I am down, they understand what I'm going through, validate all my feelings and encourage me through the dark days. We laugh together, cry together, and share life together. I know when the enemy speaks lies, they will help me see the truth. That I am worthy of all things good. That I am capable and wonderful and resilient. That God is for me, so who can possibly stand against. Not even myself.
This year will bring about so many positive changes, and I'm so excited to get started. The goal for this blog is to extend the walls of my village to incorporate all you incredible family, friends, and internet fans. I hope you can become my extended tribe and follow along with me on this incredible journey called life. I promise to post at least once a week, even if it is only my workout, a recipe, or two sentences about how sore I am or how my kids are driving me absolutely bonkers! The next 6 months will be about getting back to my previous level of fitness and my body fat down to about 20%. I'm not striving for perfection, just sustainable long term success. Stay tuned to see my starting stats and learn more about where this goal will take me. Obviously, losing weight and building muscle isn't going to magically
make me happy. Neither will making more money or buying a bigger house or falling in love or whatever your goal may be. JOY however IS a CHOICE. And we can choose to be content in whatever situation life puts us in. We can choose Christ and choose love and choose to see ourselves through God's eyes. Today, I choose to love me again. I choose Joy.
Sully had fallen asleep around 9:30pm, but woke up when Evalee and Jerod got back from the roller skating rink around 10:30pm. It was a late bed time for all of us, and Sully especially, but instead of crying and throwing a fit, our happy boy just COULD NOT stop laughing. Everything Evalee said, any time Jerod would yell, "come here," Solomon would explode in a fit of laughter. The laughter became contagious, and soon we were all in tears!
I cannot remember the last time that we were all up so late and in such great spirits. It's days and moments like this, that remind me how much my quality of life is based on how I percieve it to be. Bedtime is not a looked forward to event for me, except maybe the end of having the kids asleep and enjoying some precious alone time. No, too often, I'll even plan my day around driving home at bedtime, just so my toddler might fall asleep on the car ride home. Mostly, because I'm so tired myself and my patience is wearing thin in that final stretch.
I know we are all human and not every night we are going to be our best selves, but shouldn't these moments be cherished?! Cuddling in bed together, snuggled up with some books, teaching them how to pray and talk with God, then listening to their tiny breaths as their bodies drift off to sleep in your arms. They are only little for so long, and too often I allow my PPD and the enemy to ruin the memories.
Evalee will not sit still long enough to get her pjs on, so I become increasingly frustrated. Then she won't sit or pick a book, or allow me to do anything without a password of her own design. Haha. (It's only funny til I'm in a hurry, and I can't buckle her in without a password!) We are working on learning the word "respect," and it's definitely a work in progress because Evalee still likes to sing or play around while I'm trying to say our prayers. Every little thing builds and accumulates and all at once I feel super overwhelmed and just yell at her or count to 3 or actually swap her butt, and then I'm instantly swamped in "Mom-Guilt" because she is only being her 3year old self and with more patience and a better attitude, we could both get what we want and end the night with neither of us in tears..
Tonight, in all it's giggling and loving splender, reminded me of some very important bible verses:
22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. 25Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin” : Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
We drove past a large grave yard today covered in flowers and evalee asked what "that place" was. I told her it's a cemetary and that it's where we burry someone's body when they die. Then the families can come visit and often leave flowers for the people they miss. Evalee then says, "mommy, some day when you die, you'll come back to us and I'll make sure to bury you there. And I'll bring you so many flowers every single day." I, regretfully, answered, "well... mommy doesnt want to be buried but that's a story for another day." She immediately asks why, and to avoid telling her all about cremation, I sit there in silence trying to figure out how to change the subject. She must have noticed my hesitation cuz then ahe she says, "don't worry mama. I'll make sure to leave your head out. I'll just bury your legs and body." 🤦♀️🤣
Getting Evalee ready for the snow brought back so many memories from my childhood.. the 5 layers of socks, pulling eachother on the sled, angels, and snow men dancing in my head. The year the snow looked like waves nearly 3ft deep and we built a giant snow fort in Olivia's yard near the street. Then Mrs. Lattimer bathing our feet in hot water, fighting over which was the right way to make hot chocolate (milk vs water). Struggling to get back on my soaken snow pants and walking back home, watching the snow sparkle under the light of the street lamps. So sad I can't be out playing with them today, but it was nice to remember and know that they're out there making new memories that will last forever. 😍
I had the honor of being asked to perform at Engage Newark's Testimony service on December 30th. It was a great opportunity for me to embrace the path God has been calling me to walk for a very long time. It was also a perfect start to my writing & performing new years resolution