grace

Dear Mystery Illness (You've robbed me)

Six months ago, (represented in the picture above) it began. Innocent enough, I suppose. I started getting randomly dizzy and lightheaded.  

I chalked it up to my shoulder/neck pain that appeared one fine autumn afternoon in mid-November. 

Then, right before my least favorite month ran it's course, the incident occurred. On January 30th of this year, I had my first bonafide panic attack in our local Michael's craft store with all five of my little ones as witnesses.

I didn't know at the time that it was a panic attack. I had never had one before. I didn't know that one's heart could spiral so far out of control without willing it so. Without completely recalling the incident detail for detail, let's just say that I came home from that four days later and I was completely wrecked.  

And up until a few days ago, I thought I was just in a downward spiral towards a life ridden by anxiety and PTSD. Oh, with a brand new heart diagnosis. Which, I might add, is what I believed landed me in the hospital in the first place. Come to find out, that wasn't exactly the case.  

So now, almost four months later, I am faced with a somewhat "unofficially" diagnosed thyroid issue.  

This diagnosis that I am waiting for this week, has completely stolen every bit of what I knew of myself. 

As my husband, (oh, my sweet, sweet husband, I will spare you just how wonderful that man is)  played music tonight for the children to dance to he asked me what song Emma would like to hear. Our nine month old absolutely adores music and dance and she always "sings" along to songs she recognizes. While he played the song that I hadn't played in literally two months or more, I saw her face light up like a firework. She remembered the song and began her adorable little baby dance. 

I started to tear up. Then I proceeded to semi-ugly cry. You see, I used to be a really fun mommy. We used to have nightly dance parties after supper and would read stories and have snuggles and laughs afterward. And I realized, tonight, that I haven't done that in months. I have no energy. 

"Mommy, you dance!" little four year old Avery shouted tonight. I looked at her with wet eyes and said, "I would love to, but I don't have any energy right now."  

Used to, I would toss them all into our van and we would just GO! The only thing stopping us would be a vehicle on "E". (I'm not a huge fan of going to the gas station). We would drive sometimes two hours to just explore a new place, a new museum, a new something. We would figure out logistics later. I never wanted my "outnumbered-ness" to keep me from experiencing new and exciting places with my children. But now, I equate a six minute drive behind our house to the nearest AWANA program as a grand accomplishment. What a change from what once was. I can't remember the last field trip I took them on.  

This ailment has stolen so much from me. It's stolen my confidence. It's given me fear, anxiety, panic, and sheer dread of waking up every morning with nothing to look forward to except that I'm going to feel horrible. When I say horrible, I mean there are moments when I can barely catch my breath.  

It's made me think, at first, that something awesome was finally working for me to lose all of this weight I've acquired as a mother. But as the weight came off a little too easily, I became a bit suspicious. And then when the weight kept falling off and I wasn't even trying anymore, that's when I got nervous. It's still coming off. I've lost three pounds this week alone. I am still eating normally...I don't want to lose anymore.  

I've lost my joy. I've lost my faith. I've lost my hope. I've lost my sanity. And right when I thought I had a handle on my anxiety, I land in the ER last Tuesday unexpectedly. Set back. And then the past two days I've felt the worst I've ever felt in my entire life. Scared to be alone? That doesn't even touch what I feel. More like "terrified".  

I don't know what God is trying to teach me or show me or reveal to me/us during this time. It's been such a long, trying season. One thing after another. We have five young children, blessed by God, but unable to enjoy them like I once did. I find myself wishing away baby days and toddler days and hoping that I can just manage one more day of motherhood.

"Just do this one day, Alicia. This one moment."  

I've thought about myself more than I ever cared to. If you've ever suffered from anxiety, you know how it's near impossible to see past your struggle. I've been a lousy friend. I've disappointed my children because "mommy doesn't feel good again." I just want to be well. To not wish any of this precious time away because only today is here and tomorrow may never come.  

I just want to feel like I'm alive again. I want to feel well. And most of all, I want to feel His perfect peace. I miss that.  

Please, don't take anything else from me. And if you're feeling apologetic, please give me back everything you've stolen.  

Sincerely, Alicia  

What my children DON'T need me to be.

I'll admit it. Sometimes, I get really jealous of other moms and their "special talents" or superpowers, as I'd like to refer them as. Like the mom whose house looks like Pinterest is seeping from every orifice...yea, I'm jealous of you and your mad crafting skills. But more so, I'm jealous of the free time you have to make all of your "pins" on your hundreds of "boards" come to fruition.

OR, the mom who wears trendy "in season" clothing and shoes. Hair, perfectly coiffed, accessories chosen with the utmost amount of thoughtfulness, and the secretly disguised diaper bag that really looks like a designer $500 handbag. I'm jealous you can pull off putting yourself together before each outing, I'm also jealous at how you can manage not to smell like mom who has a baby. You know, that perfect blend of both spit-up and "I haven't showered in 72 hours"?!

I'm also jealous of the mom that has that picture perfect garden. Forget green thumb, some moms are like the Jolly Green Giants of gardening. Their thumbs ooze green. And their favorite past-time is to snap daily Instagrams of their adorable children harvesting their harvests. (As if I needed to be further reminded that I have yet to feed my child a vegetable today or anything that didn't come from a package for that matter.)

And, finally, the mom who has that talent that lends a monetary pick-me-up to the bank account ledger. I too, am jealous of you. That creative, seemingly effortless, thing you do that momentarily distracts you from motherhood. That thing you're passionate about that brings money down from the heavens, I wish I had one of those. I've tried before. I have. And, well, I wasn't successful...

...and I'm not successful at a great many things. (all of the above, included).

But I am pretty good at being jealous, and this is what my children (and YOU) don't need me to be.

But, then again, my children also don't need me to be perfectly put together. They don't seem to care that I wear the same maxi skirt two days in a row. They also don't care that my hairdo of choice is a high bun.

They don't care that I don't currently have something spectacular that I do to give us extra money.

They don't care that our house doesn't look like a page out of 'Real Simple' magazine or like my friend's house who has the most amazing eye for hanging family picture collages. (which, I might add, the pictures are flawless and beautifully display a collaborative style I could only hope to have come through if we were to attempt a family portrait).

No, I realize that what I should want my children (and you) to see in me, is none of those things.

Quite simply, what I should want...actually, what we all should want (mamas) is our children to see in us who they want to be/be with someday.

Our daughters should look to us as the example of what they would like to become. Which is an extreme amount of pressure for us to live with.

"Do I love like Christ does?" "Am I pouring out mercy upon others?" "Do I live my life overflowing with grace and do I speak the truth boldly?" "Am I a fraud or do I live the values I hold dear in my heart?" "Do I make my daughters proud?" "Am I a gracious wife and good listener when my family needs a listening ear?"

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Being a great cook, looking put-together before I emerge from my room every morning, and having a "success" measured by how many ways I can multi-task and still manage to fill up my bank account, isn't what my daughters should find important in me.

May I be the woman, albeit fallen and very much broken at times, that they can call a hero. A woman that they can't imagine living without. A woman that they would be proud to call their best friend someday as an adult.

Our sons should measure all potential mates up to a standard they set by watching their mother. If we desire our sons to choose a mate that mirrors Christ, respects human life, and would live sacrificially towards her family, then we must be the example. It starts with us.

Are our hearts more attractive than our bodies? Will our sons choose outward beauty before the radiant beauty that can come from a pure heart? If our sons had to choose a mate now, would we be worried about whom he would choose?

Truth is, we can't be any of these things for our children if we remain focused on what we are not. We all have our jealousies. We all struggle with this sin in some regard. It is, after all, the one sin that marries with pride and produces a truly devastating cocktail. We usually drink it in, most of the time, on a daily basis, and then hope we can "talk" our children into becoming all that God wants.

They must see it. Encounter it. Visualize it. And when we fail, we must admit it. We must be the kind of women that they should want in their future. We are raising adults, not children.

Let's purpose in our hearts to be deliberate about being mothers that seek the beauty of Christ and to look at other mothers and women through His eyes. No more comparison, no more jealousy and hate. We're too busy for that sort of thing anyway, right?!Time is short. Be what your children DO need you to be.

Lord, I pray that we don't look too long at those mothers that we tend to be distracted by. Help us value our time with our children during every moment, and not scour those moments away. I pray that we can be the kind of mothers that our daughters desire to become and our sons are hopelessly attracted to in another woman. Most of all, may we remain secure in the fact that you can use us where we are. And if you make plans to move us from where we find ourselves so comfortable, I pray that you will equip us to make that move without fear. May we be heroes to our children. In Your Name, Amen.

My Favorite Apps - She Reads Truth

  SRT-AppLaunch_Instagram2 Have you seen this new app? Have you heard of this awesome ministry? It's called "She Reads Truth", and you can download the app for free! I just did last night, and it's great.

To be honest, I've always struggled with reading my Bible daily. I always come up with a better thing to do with my time, than to just sit and read God's Word. Which in reality... what could be a better way to spend my time than read the Word?! Seriously.

Now that I'm a mom it's even more difficult to find the time to just sit and have quiet time with the Lord, but it's soo important! More than ever before we should be in the Word learning and just being still before the Lord. When I think of my children, I want them to have a strong, personal relationship with the Lord. I want them to be godly, loving people... how can I expect this of them if I can't even be disciplined in working on my own relationship with the Lord?! I saw this image the other day, and it was so very convicting:

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I say all of this to just encourage you to get in the Word. I downloaded this app, and it has many different devotional and reading plans. The entire Bible is also on it. The amazing design of the app is just wonderful as well. I hope you enjoy it. Go download it... cause it's free, and because it just might help remind you to keep reading the one and only TRUTH!