via @sarahagertywrites

thank god for storms.

It started to storm in my neck of the woods shortly before the sun set on this long day.

I felt like I was suffocating stuck in this house, so I quietly moseyed outside at the first ring of thunder.

I sat down on what barely constitutes a front porch to watch. The thunder and lightning rolled on their own for a few minutes before the rain started.

The rain came in waves– small droplets against my feet to start, slowly increasing in size and strength as the thunder got louder.

No symphony could imitate the sound of the raindrops crescendoing, hitting the ground louder and faster with each drop.

Soon, we were caught in a downpour, with lightning lighting up the sky and thunder booming so loud you could almost feel the ground shake.

And I sat there and watched. On that little front step, I watched the sky turn dark and the rain became so thick it looked like fog. I listened to the thunder roll in. I “counted” the time between the lightning strike and the thunder, like my Papa taught me to when I was little.

I sat there and exhaled for what felt like the first time all day. 

I didn’t think about the ache in my back and what the cause is.

I didn’t think about another favor my mom needed me to run for her.

I didn’t worry about the amount in my bank account.

I didn’t feel my usual pang of loneliness.

I just sat and enjoyed God’s handiwork.


I love storms. I love the dark, cool effect storms bring to a hot, humid day. I love the natural light and sound show lightning and thunder put on (even if thunder scared me as a kid).

I have every reason not to like storms.

They’re messy. They’re an interruption to the normal rhythm. I can’t really plan them or plan around them, they have a spontaneous mind of their own. Sometimes they’re scary or dangerous. They can ruin fun days or plans in an instant.

Those are all things I don’t particularly like about life… fear and spontaneity and lack of plans or change of plans. And yet, storms are still one of my favorite things, despite all of these qualities.

In a lot of ways, I think the things I hate about everyday life are why I love them.

I love the way rain feels on my skin, soaking the bottom of my sweats as the wind carries the rain onto the porch.

I love how they force me to push pause and sit still for awhile.

I love how they display the majesty and power of God, captivating me with wonder instead of fear.

They remind me to slow down. To breathe. To quit trying to do everything for once in my life and just be for awhile.

So I sit and watch. I let the heaviness and the lightness overwhelm me.


It doesn’t take long as I watch for me to start thinking of the metaphorical storms life’s been hitting me with this season.

The fatigue, sleep issues, and physical health problems that have been plaguing me since May… I’ve had some sort of body ache, stomach problem, or a migraine nearly every. single. day. for months.

The depression that has enveloped every part of my being since moving home… since my birthday, I can count on one hand how many times I’ve left the house for something other than running errands with my mom. I’ve spent almost every day in my pajamas, with Netflix and food as my crutch. I don’t color or Bible journal anymore, or much else that brings me joy. (Being on launch teams has kept me reading, which is a blessing). I don’t sing or worship. I don’t play games. I don’t hang out with anyone, or even try to. It’s not a good place to be.

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Somedays I believe this. via Sara Hagerty

Moving home– both living back in my boring little hometown and living with my mom– has been both blessing and curse. I’m grateful for a roof over my head, but I feel like either a punching bag or a live-in servant most days… it’s not fun. And living where you literally have zero friends anymore is freaking hard, especially when you’re depressed and won’t ask your friends to come here to visit lest you feel like a burden on them.

Job stuff… I won’t even go there. I’m slowly trying to build a portfolio of freelance writing work, which I’m excited about–writing is my favorite, after all. But I still can’t get over the fact that I was rejected or ignored by so many other opportunities, ones I would have excelled at. Ones that would have helped me stay in Nashville.

So I sat there… and let the heaviness of this season hit me as hard as the rain hit the pavement. And I cried.

I cried… because let’s face it, this season has been hard. So, so hard. And I’ll never understand why.


I sat there amidst the tears and looked out. The storm continued to pour at a steady pace now. I felt myself calm down… I just inhaled and exhaled, focusing on the storm in front of me instead of the storm in me.

9e871e96e33562b9c6c396edc2d8ac6dI felt this deep sense of peace surround me as I continued to enjoy the storm, despite sadness lingering. I forced my hands to unclench, palms upward. I prayed through tears; I don’t remember the words. A lot of my prayers have been wordless or breath prayers these days; I can’t seem to find words to convey the sorrow of life’s storms right now. But nonetheless, I prayed. I breathed and prayed, palms up, eyes looking outward towards the storm.

The peaceful feeling overtook the tears. I just felt wrapped in this sense that He was right there in that moment. In the moment, I did something I rarely do these days… I sang. Before I could even think about it, How Great Thou Art and How Great is Our God started tumbling out, in my shaky off-key voice.

Because even in the midst of the messy, not-going-as-planned, absolutely terrifying storms of this season… He is still God. And He is with me. 

He is still God. He is with me.


A short time later, the storm started to slowly die down. I decided to head back in, my back pain raging as I stand up. I m13358946e18073a60d29699690dfd2e3ay have come back inside to my own storm, but the peace from the storm outside is still here with me.

The storms inside my life may still be raging, but I cling to the thoughts from the storm outside: He is still God. He is with me.

And even during the darkest of storms, His goodness shines. 

Maybe that’s why I love storms so much.

Thank you, God for the storms… for the beautiful, wonderful storms of the world, and the messy, unplanned ones in me.

Since there’s no youtube version of this one… here’s to hoping this works.

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try (five minute friday)

 

This week’s FMF word:

I’m trying.

I’m trying to start over, but I can’t figure out where to start.

I’m trying to breathe deeply, and not let the anxiety overwhelm my whole body, making me sick as it has a lot the last few days(weeks).

I’m trying to not get frustrated and overwhelmed despite not knowing what the hell I’m doing anymore.

I’m trying to not let my mom drive me crazy when all I can hear is her hollering for me to do something for her (100 times a day). I literally hear her voice in my sleep.

I’m trying to enjoy my introverted alone time, instead of admitting I’m lonely without my friends close by, ignoring the feelings of isolation and unhappiness.

I’m trying not to grieve the loss of my independence (no public transportation here, so I can’t go anywhere) and freedom I had when I lived on my own.

I’m trying not to let the thoughts and fears of financial strain, the uncertainty of the future, or regrets of seasons past keep me awake like it did last night.

I’m trying really, really hard not to let mental illness win. But some days, like today, it does, no matter how hard you try.

 

 

let go of your grip.

Since moving home, my mental health has taken a huge hit.

There are a lot of reasons for this. Leaving my job/my kids so suddenly, transitioning home (which isn’t exactly the healthiest place for me to be in the first place), not having access to counseling, being separated from my community, figuring out job things-– these are all factors at play. a947405f655c46882a292967114eb493

And that doesn’t even scratch the surface of it, truthfully. 

I’m just sad. And anxious. And then sad some more.

Add bored, lonely, and jobless on top of that, and you’ve got quite the spectacle. While my depression hasn’t taken as much of a hit (though being isolated and rejected a bit hasn’t done me any good in this area, and it’s been slowly getting worse), it’s my anxiety that has struggled with all this change the most.

My anxiety tends to manifest in a few different ways, primarily in physical symptoms. My stomach aches, my chest hurts (think how your chest hurts when you’ve been coughing a lot… that’s the feeling), my head throbs, I get random aches and pains, heartburn, so on and so 4ddb62652b753e804c0fe1747ecec30cforth. A lot of my anxiety is tied to my health, so when I get anxious because of one or more of these physical symptoms, my anxiety gets worse… it’s a cruel, unfair cycle.

Another way my anxiety manifests is in my insomnia, my inability to get to sleep. My inner night owl comes out to play, and not just ’cause I enjoy the night life.

So since I’ve been home, it’s been getting harder for me to sleep at night. I’ve been awake since 2, 3am most nights. Melatonin helps me get to sleep, but it’s willing myself to take them amidst the voices in my head wanting me to stay awake that’s hard. Because I’m scared of sleep, I stay up until I physically collapse, usually overthinking myself to sleep instead of counting sheep.

This is unsustainable in the long run, especially when I DO start working again. I cannot survive going to bed at 3 am and waking up at 7 or earlier to get to work, unless I’d like to become a zombie on The Walking Dead (I don’t).

I’ve nearly become nocturnal, sleeping during the day and staying up all night, filling out applications and dawdling on the internet. It doesn’t help that in the midst of all this, I was diagnosed with anemia, thus another reason I’ve been so fatigued/exhausted/drained, on top of the lack of sleep. (Now that I’m getting that under control, my fatigue is getting much better during the day! But getting to sleep at night is still a struggle).

I was out with my mom on my birthday a few weeks ago, picking up my birthday cake at Publix. I went to get some iron supplements (for the above anemia diagnosis)  when a new sleep supplement caught my eye. It’s a gummy by the company Olly, called “restful sleep.” It has melatonin in it (which I have survived on since my mental hell started nearly 3 years ago). It also had an ingredient I didn’t know, L-Theanine. On the bottle it’s described as “an amino acid that encourages calmness so you can hush those voices in your head and drift off.”

Man, I need an IV of that stuff 24/7. Anything to shut the damn voice recorder in my head.

I ended up buying some, and it’s been great. I’ve been sleeping a lot better than I did with just melatonin, and I think part of that is because I’m not (mostly) sitting in bed overthinking everything before I go to bed.

Another thing I had to do when I started taking this stuff: Despite the anxiety telling me to stay awake, I’ve been forcing myself to go to sleep earlier.

I’ve begun using bits and pieces of the bedtime routine I started in therapy after my panic attacks started: Write my to-do list if needed, turn my phone on do not disturb and turn the laptop off, make my bed (yes at night, i know I’m weird) read my bible study/devotional, say my prayers before my head hits the pillow. This signals my body that it’s not time to burn the midnight oil, but time to gear up for rest.

529edf4491b095dca26e9ac6e0fd0e6aI hate it. Every fiber of my body hates it, because I lie down to sleep every night so scared, even with supplements and routines. I’m scared of dying in my sleep. I’m scared of the future and not knowing what’s next. I’m scared of financial struggles and paying bills and getting out of my mother’s house. I’m scared of everything and anything. It all manifests itself at night, when my stomach starts aching and my heart starts racing and I begin my tossing and turning dance routine (that my back and shoulders pay for every dang morning) as I lie down to sleep.

I will never understand why this is part of my life. I hate it.

Every night I pray the same prayer: just wake me up tomorrow, God. Let me sleep through the night and wake up the next morning. Please don’t let me die in my sleep. This hasn’t changed since my initial anxiety disorder diagnosis a few years ago.


There was one particular night a few weeks ago where I was just freaking out as I got into bed– unable to get comfortable, feeling sickly and sweaty and just inconsolable. As I was praying this particular night, I was exasperated. Defeated. Tired, but trying desperately to fight sleep. It was in this time of trying to get this desperate prayer out that I heard a voice. A thought that was undoubtedly not mine, because it was the complete opposite of where my mind was:

“Let go of your grip.”

That was it. “Let go of your grip.” When I heard it, I stopped and just thought for a moment.

I was lying in my bed on my stomach, my head in my pillow, arms over my mattress. My fists were clenched tightly, for no reason. But as I heard this voice I relaxed and let them go slack.

 


Let go of your grip. 

There’s a lot of unknown in my world right now.

As my friend Kaitlyn so eloquently put it, “I have literally nothing together about my life.” Nothing. Absolutely nothing!

And to think, I used to believe I had it all figured out. Then life actually happened. 

FullSizeRenderControl of everything in my life has slowly slipped from my grasp the past few months: my career, my home, my community, even my health… it’s all unraveled in some way recently, ever so slowly.

I’d love to say I’m okay with it, this losing control, thing. But I’m not. At all.

I hate losing control. I like knowing my steps before I move. I like having everything about my life in my grasp, right in front of me so I can determine where to go and what to do.

Letting go of my grip on my life and all that’s in it is extremely difficult. It means letting go of control. I don’t like relinquishing control– and as my fellow control-freak Monica Gellar-Bing says, relinquish is just a fancy word for lose. Losing control is something I loathe.

I’m afraid that if I let go of control, things won’t happen like they’re supposed to (aka like I want them to). 

Letting go means surrendering all I am and not knowing what’s next with it all. I don’t like surrendering.

But then I remember who I am surrendering it to. 

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7

I love the Message version of the same verse:

Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.

Here’s another one:

God, my shepherd!
    I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
    you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
    you let me catch my breath
    and send me in the right direction. Psalm 23 (Message)

and another:

“That’s right. Because I, your God,
    have a firm grip on you and I’m not letting go.
I’m telling you, Don’t panic.
    I’m right here to help you.”

Isaiah 41:13 (Message)

And my favorites:

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

 God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. Ephesians 3:20 (Message)

 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” John 13:7 

I can let go of my grip, even when I’m fearful and frustrated with the whole control thing, because I know who has a grip on me.

 

FullSizeRender 2It doesn’t make it easier to let go of my grip. It doesn’t make relinquishing control a happy thought. But I’m realizing that letting go doesn’t mean everything is out of control. It means that it’s now in control of the one who goes before me, the one who knows me and my life and my plans better than I can.

 

I can let go of my grip on my fears, my future, my plans, my everything when I know that they’re being caught by the same God who catches me.


My prayers before bed are a little different now.

My stomach still hurts, and my heart still beats out of my chest. But I take a deep breath and try to relax into sleep anyway. I still pray for God to wake me up everyday, because I still live with the fear that I wont. But I pray something else too now.

Alright God, I’m letting go of my grip. Please take all of this from me so I can sleep. 

Take my fear of the future. My struggle with my career path. My worry about money and finances. My loneliness and frustration. Take my worries, my annoyances, my sadness. My overthinking and trying to plan it all on my own. Take all of what’s forcing me to grip my hands so tightly that I can’t let them go to find rest.

Letting go of my grip, I let His grip catch it all.

Maybe someday I’ll believe that letting go of my grip will be something good for me. Hopefully someday I’ll see the fruits of giving it all up to God and going to sleep. But until that day, I’ll say this prayer on top of everything else I pray, and hope to God someday this all makes sense.

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. Romans 8:26-28 (Message)

Pastures- Housefires (listened mostly to this album while writing)

this one too. Sound of Surviving-Nichole Nordeman (her whole new album is great)