The Joy of the Lord

I can only describe this time as bittersweet. Today marks 77 days since my last day at work and my heart aches for my little one I take care of. I miss everything about being a pediatric care tech and am counting the seconds until I can return to work.

I miss normalcy. I miss teaching preschoolers on Sunday mornings. I miss meeting with the students on Sunday nights. I miss going out for coffee with my friends. I miss going out with my man after a long work week and just staring into each other’s eyes over a candlelit dinner (yeah yeah…we can still do this, but our dog isn’t the best waiter). I miss the mundane and I miss the crazy. There are so many things I took for granted that I completely ache for now.

But I am so ridiculously blessed. I haven’t personally lost anyone in this pandemic, but I know so many who have. Financially, I am struggling in this time of being laid off, but God has abundantly provided every time I have needed. Mentally, I am hanging in there, I’m blessed with a “team” of support when it comes to my mental health so my heart goes out to those who are feeling the depths of depression during this time. I pray that they are being supported and loved during this trying time.

Joy has been found in the Lord across the world in this pandemic. My students are flourishing in their own personal walks with God. They are encouraging one another, they are taking to social media to hold virtual Bible studies, and they are sending cards and flowers to those who need it. They are thriving and they are creative in their own personal study of the Word. I am so proud of each and every one of them for how amazingly they are handling their senior year of high school. I have seen my preschool parents post the fun things their kiddos are doing, from climbing trees, to making posters to hang out of their cars for a drive-by birthday party, to making their parents breakfast in bed. My friends and I are doing check-ins with each other…just to let each other know we are here and we are praying for one another. So many virtual hugs and “coffee vibes” have been sent out. Relationships are being built stronger than ever before. I am seeing God in all of this. I am seeing Him work in ways I haven’t seen before and that is so encouraging.

The church is not a building. The church is people continuing the ministry of Christ. The church is people reaching out those who need a conversation. The church is meals being delivered. The church is drive-by conversations held 6 feet apart with masks on. The church is responding to this time in such a beautiful way that only God could orchestrate. And I’m blown away.

So continue to spread the joy of the Lord during this time, it is so very needed.

Toxicity in Friendships

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about this issue, but I was a lot more guarded and gentle about it in my last post on this matter.

I am currently in the process of removing a toxic friend from my life. This has been so hard. Especially since this friend is the queen of gaslighting while at the same time being a master of false compliments. To read more on gaslighting read this article.

I have fallen for her lies for far too long, fallen for her exaggerations of me, telling me how I need her and I can’t do things on my own. Telling me I’m a control freak for not letting her do things for me. I have allowed her to tell lies about me to other people. I have allowed her to put on a sense of false sympathy and ask around to make sure I’m okay when I seemed off to her, when I didn’t respond immediately to a text, or didn’t answer her phone calls. She has told people I won’t be attending events because I was on my death bed when I wasn’t. She has tried to destroy my relationship with my boyfriend for over a year and a half, and my friendships with other people, lying to me about my boyfriend, telling me things he’s done that have been so horrible and completely not true. And she has been telling my friends lies about me. If I have a success she tells people it’s because of her that I had that success.

I ignored so many signs, so many other people telling me to avoid this person, so many red flags because I thought maybe it’s just me. I felt special to her until I did something that set her off. And that isn’t okay. She would fill me with compliments and I would stay her loyal friend. It’s not okay to have a friend who doesn’t support you or love you. It isn’t okay to have a friend that makes everything entirely about themselves. It isn’t okay to have a friend who drags you down with them or hopes you stumble and fall back into an addiction.

I’m done with it, I’m in pain, I’m hurt, I feel betrayed and humiliated. I’m done with the sick sense of satisfaction she gets from using me. I thought I could be the bigger person and continue to love her and be her friend…but there comes a point where toxic friendships become so toxic they start to destroy pieces of what makes you…you. I began questioning everything I said and how I said it, questioning my morals, questioning everything. Trying to see if I was in the wrong. What did I do to make her hate me so much? But it wasn’t hate. It was her needing to control me, control how I perceived my friends, and control how my friends perceived me.

The problem was not me. The problem was her. This is not high school. We are all adults here, and I’m tired of this juvenile narrative she’s writing me into.

This has gone on for long enough and upon meeting with my psychiatrist for weeks about this exact problem I realize I was a victim. I let her turn me into a victim. She knew about my past, how I was in a horribly abusive relationship and how I blamed myself and she used the knowledge of my weakness to her advantage. I’m going to begin standing up for myself. I am so tired of being in this toxic friendship.

1 Corinthians 15:33
“Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals.”

Proverbs 13:20
Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

Another fantastic article.

I ask that you join me in prayer as I continue on this journey to lovingly end a friendship that has harmed me. Pray for me to be honest with myself about how toxic a friendship with her is and to not fall back into her lies. I’m not as tough and strong as I wish I was.

Surrender

I have held it together for so long I forget what it means to not put on a façade. I hold it together until my breathing is shallow and quick and the walls close in around me and I’m on the floor in a panic attack. I hold it together so the outside world doesn’t know that inside I’m a ball of crippling anxiety and depression.

Holding it together isn’t what God is asking of me. He isn’t asking for perfection. He is asking for surrender.

I’ve been drowning for years in a state of constant struggle for perfection. Hiding what is really going on because no one can know that every aspect of my life isn’t held together and everything isn’t perfectly in it’s place. And I’m going to die as completely tense and panic filled as I lived if I do not learn to surrender my thoughts, my actions, my way of living, my everything…to the Lord.

I don’t want to die in these waters.

I’m ready to surrender.

Love Your Enemies

Let’s talk about loving your enemies.

I have struggled for years with someone in ministry who is just the oil to my water. We do not mix at all. They have a completely different mindset, thought process, and way of life than I do. They go out of their way to bring strife into the ministry and I’ve almost quit so many times because of them. But ultimately I am serving for the Lord in this ministry and not for that person.

How do I move past the “kill them with kindness” mindset and into the mindset of actually forgiving them and praying FOR them instead of praying for them to change. I need to be praying that I see them through God’s eyes. I can’t change the narcissistic or misogynistic tendencies. I shouldn’t be praying for them to change. I need to pray that I can forgive them and love them how God loves them.

Harder than it looks.

Jesus wasn’t always respected. Yet He still loved those who disrespected Him. If Jesus can die on the cross for people who cursed Him and beat Him and betrayed Him, than I can learn to love my enemies too. Actually love my enemies. Not just say I love my enemies. Not just say that I forgive them. Not kill them with kindness. But actually have a change within my own heart.

Luke 6:27 “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.”

Romans 12:14 “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.”

1 Corinthians 16:14 “Let all that you do be done in love.” (This is my email signature, so I should probably start living this verse.)

1 Peter 3:9 “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”

Relationally Focused

Wow did we pack so much fun into this day. My first day back at work has been what I expected it to be – moments of relearning and patience, but also moments of incredible joy and the best snuggles in the whole wide world. My goodness does this little girl know how to give the best hugs imaginable. I am so blessed with this kiddo, she is just the sweetest little sidekick.

What you can’t see is the astronomical amount of toys littered around the house. It looks like the Melissa & Doug factory exploded. The sticky surfaces, the strawberry cream cheese smeared on her table…and the dog. It’s chaos. This is such a huge win. I’ve been retraining my OCD tendencies to be more people and relationally focused. I won’t lie, I fail at this most days. I tend to get caught in the details, in the things that don’t necessarily matter, in the technical side, the matter of fact-ness. Especially when it comes to my job – which yes, when it comes to a medical emergency, giving medication, or logging data – I need those OCD tendencies, I need the detailed and technical side of myself. But when it comes to having a chill day where we can play with the new toys she got for Christmas – I need to put those natural tendencies in the back of my mind. I need to be present and fun and energetic and let loose. That’s something I have always struggled with. Letting loose. I’m a very uptight person. In the Mary & Martha story…I tend to lean more towards being a Martha.

So as I am learning to slow down and enjoy the present with the people I am around and not be focused on five million other things…I need to be praying for patience with myself as I work on this. My psychiatrist says I have OCD tendencies but just like my diagnoses I do not need to be defined by them. I’m not the nicest person when it comes to my flaws and I need to allow grace for days where I fail to be relationally focused.

The Aftermath

Life after losing my Poppop.

Mentally I have resorted back to where I was a year ago. Completely ignoring any and all tips my psychiatrist has given me to handle anxiety episodes. I am angry at God, not reading my Bible, and not going to Him for anything.

I’m not believing the truth that my Poppop is no longer in pain and he is partying up in Heaven. So I should be celebrating his life and celebrating that God used him well while he was on earth and now he is being rewarded.

I appologize for not routinely posting on Tuesdays and Thursdays but life has been a bit messy. I will be back to scheduled programming soon.

Thank you all for praying for my family.

Prayers Please

I’ve struggled through some frustrating medical problems most of my life. Not nearly as much as my brother has, but mine have seemed to become more severe as I’ve gotten older.

I am still dealing with the aftermath of my skin disease, and auto-immune disease triggered by stress that only about 50 people have ever been diagnosed with. According to the surgeons and doctors at the Hospital at University of Pennsylvania, I was the worst case they’d ever seen.

I scheduled a doctors appointment just to get more specialists figured out. I need a new gastrointestinal doctor and surgeon. One who isn’t going to take organs out or give me pills to rebuild my esophogus instead of finding answers to a 20+ year old problem. And I need a new cardiologist, orthopedic surgeon, endocrinologist, dermatologist, and OBGYN. The list seems endless and frustrating. But I’m determined to feel better and get answers.

It isn’t fun waking up puking every single morning. It isn’t fun having a constant fever. Or a heart beat that won’t return to 55 but stays at a horrible 120-175BPM. I want to be able to eat something without feeling like I’m going to die afterwards. And the migraines are getting really old. I don’t know how my mom deals with them so much but they flat out suck.

I want to enjoy life and be healthy and be able to work my butt off for the Lord. And I can’t keep functioning at 100% because I’m exhausted fighting all of this all of the time. I can’t help people the way I want to when I’m this sick all the time. Please pray for me as I attempt to…yet again…find answers and healing.

You just have to laugh…

What a week it has been. On Sunday evening I had a heart episode while in the hot springs in Ouray, Colorado. Since then it has been an exhausting week of going to urgent care in Albuquerque, New Mexico on Monday, being advised not to fly, going on two flights traveling back to Pennsylvania on Tuesday, being met by EMT’s at the Philadelphia Airport, and going to the ER on Thursday.

It is now Friday and I’m beat and I still don’t have any answers. An MRI, neurologist visit, and psychologist visit are my next steps.

Josh has been incredibly supportive this past week. He has been by my side through the entire thing and has been constantly pointing me back to relying on the Lord by how he shows Christ’s love to me. He epitomizes what it means to be unconditional. And I’m so grateful God has him by my side.

With everything that has happened since November and everything we’ve gone through together, I know for a fact we’ve survived it because God is the center of our relationship. And we laugh….a lot. That definitely helps.

 

Dear Sister

My heart breaks for you. I am in utter agony as I witness you hurt yourself in the same ways I have these past 15 years. No one deserves to battle an eating disorder. No one deserves the unbearable agony and overwhelming shame that comes with an eating disorder. An ED will take over your entire being to the point of crippling pain.

Every single moment of your existence is saturated in the bitterness of an eating disorder. The control, the anger, the frustration, the shame, it is so overwhelming. It isn’t just eating. When someone tells you to just eat you can’t. It isn’t that simple. It’s not just a switch inside your head, it isn’t just telling yourself to eat.

It’s every single controlling thought swarming around that’s making you physically unable to eat. It’s a battle in your mind of trying to shut out the demons, trying to overpower them while they are overpowering you. It’s pain. It’s torment.

And it’s almost impossible for anyone not going through it to understand.

So dear sister…I am so sorry. I am so incredibly sorry you are going through this trial. I wish I could take it away in an instant. And I can’t and that’s killing me.

I pray that you hear God’s voice over the voices in your head telling you that you’re not good enough. I pray that His love is enough for you to get through this. I pray that we can all come together to help you get through this. Because you, my dear, you are good enough. You are loved. You are beautiful. You are enough.

And you are in control… 

Breakthrough

Day 15 of my medication change. It is the first day that has been without an intense sobbing hyperventilating mental breakdown. My brain hasn’t been spinning with morbid thoughts of immediate doom and despair. It’s been a good day. A very good day. A genuinely happy day filled with joy and rational thoughts and laughter.

The past 14 days were probably the deepest depression I have ever been in. To say I was not handling it well at all would be an understatement. The inability to leave my bed, not cry, or breathe normally was overpowering. I was not functioning and I was unable to cope or self regulate at all when I was alone.

My already amazing ability to filter my thoughts before they leave my mouth was completely gone. I wasn’t turning to God when the panic attacks were inevitably about to start and I wasn’t turning to God when I couldn’t summon the strength to get out of bed. I was just trying to survive. I wasn’t even able to imagine a light at the end of the tunnel.

Hopefully this is over. Hopefully the chemistry in my brain is done messing around, but that’s probably not the case. I still have 2 months until I titrate up to the amount my psychiatrist wants me on for my meds. I’m hoping that if I do go back into a deep depression I at least know to cry out to God and continue to worship Him despite the nightmare going on in my head. My hope is to rely on the Lord.

I am enjoying this breakthrough. It is now day 16, and so far so good 🙂 I’m so beyond grateful to my boyfriend, friends, and family for their overwhelming love and support and distractions. They mean the world to me.