Suicide still hurts

dadToday is an anniversary I wish I didn’t have to remember.  It has been 3 years since I walked up to my dads door, waited for him to answer, but he never did.  3 years since my sweet husband bravely walked inside to find him.  3 years since he walked outside to tell me the heartbreaking news.  “He’s gone.  He took his life.”

It is still crushing to even think about it all.  To remember the pain of the day and wonder what happened.  Suicide leaves questions that will never be answered.  I can’t wrap my mind around it.  I am someone who always looks for answers.  I want to understand everything.  But this one, no matter how much information I seek, I will never fully understand it.

Suicide leaves behind so much.  It leaves pain and what if’s for all of those left here.  It leaves grief and tears.  Sometimes it leaves anger, hurt, or frustration.  3 years later, and although I have done so much healing, there is still healing to be done.  I don’t get anxiety when I drive past the community where he lived any more.  I don’t cry about my dads death every day.  But there are days that the grief just comes out of no where.  Days where I am just sad he isn’t here.

This topic is still something that not everyone is comfortable talking about, but it is one we need to talk about.  I have learned of 2 suicides this week and even though I din’t know either person, I have mourned over them.  My heart is broken for them.  For the pain they were in.  For the hurt they felt.  For the fight they fought.  My heart hurst for the their friends and family as they wrestle with all of the emotions that come with suicide.  My prayers for them are pleas with God to hold them together as they process.

Friends, our country needs support, encouragement and love for those who are hurting.  Depression is real.  Emotional pain is real.  Lets search our hearts and find compassion to see others.  To really see them.  We are all human and we all struggle!  If your struggles don’t look like someone else’s, thank God, then ask Him to help guide you as you reach out to those in your life who you know are hurting.

Be a friend.  Ask questions.  Offer your shoulder to cry on.  Don’t judge.  Just love.

And if you need a friend, let me know.  If you are looking for community to love you through your pain, Celebrate Recovery is the most incredible place to find people who truly love and accept folks just as they are!  I would love to help connect you!

1-800-273-8255 is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.  Call them if you need them.

Other posts on this topic:

My Truths about Suicide & Depression

When God Fulfills His Promises

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You, me, & coffee- just invite her

IMG_5226A busy mom with several children is sitting at home struggling.  She is lonely and would love more than anything to connect to others who share common interest and who are in the same season of life.  Reality is, she would love to connect with anyone.  She feels a little forgotten.  She starts evaluating herself and looking for reasons why it seems like no one reaches out to her.  She finds herself unsure why, but realizes she is feeling self conscious wishing she could figure it out.

In a house across town, another busy mom has been invited to a luncheon but has no one to go with.  She wants more than anything to put on makeup, fix her hair, wear that new dress, and have a kid free lunch with friends.  She scans the contacts in her phone.  She concludes that most everyone she knows is far too busy to go.  This friend probably can’t get a babysitter.  This one seems to have so many friends and always busy, I doubt she has time for me.  One by one she answers for them, without asking.  Before she knows it, her excitement about the luncheon has turned into sadness and she decides she won’t go because she doesn’t want to go alone.

Have you ever been either women?  In this season of Motherhood I can find myself being both women at times.  I have been the lonely mom, wishing someone would invite, call, or text me.  I have longed for meaningful relationships and wondered why I don’t have them.  I have also been the woman who didn’t even ask because I  thought they were too busy or I feared feeling rejected if they said no.

Through talking to other women, trying to figure out a solution to loneliness in Motherhood, I have heard over and over again that a lot of moms don’t invite out of fear OR they don’t invite because they assume someone is busy.  I have also heard moms saying they just feel overwhelmed by all that they have going on and truly feel too busy to reach out.

If you are the overwhelmed mom, but long for some girl pal time, here is a question for you- What would it look like to determine a set amount of time for this?  Do you feel that even with your full plate, carving out some time to hang with other moms might actually help you be less overwhelmed?  I know that taking time out of my normal crazy to drink coffee and chat with other moms it helps me feel human again!

If you are like me and often assume other moms are too busy OR fear rejection, lets ask anyway!  You never know when another mom may need the invite, just as bad as you want them to say yes!  And lets remember that a no isn’t personal.

Just invite.  Reach out.  Make new friends.  Love on old ones.  Have coffee, lunch, dinner.  Go play at the park.  Find ways to connect and don’t let things stop you.  Relationships are far too important to allow fear or busyness get in the way!

I do not have a full proof solution for the lonely mom, but I do know if we don’t ever take a chance and just invite, we will miss out on so many opportunities!

Happy Monday Friends!  I hope it is fabulous!

 

The Perfection Infection

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No more perfect Mom, Chapter 1 (These are my thoughts on the book “No More Perfect Mom by Jill Savage” along with quotes from the book)

I was introduced to this book after doing a 7 day devotional on YouVersion (bible app).  I loved every day of the devotional and wanted more when the 7 days was over and that is when I discovered there was a book.  The more I researched the book the more I knew I needed it and felt it was so timely for this season in my life.

Chapter 1, The Perfection Infection, hit home with me.  What I found was, a lot of what she was saying I already knew, but still struggle with.  I know that I can’t compare my life to ANYTHING I see on social media, but I still do it.  I know the “highlight reel vs. blooper reel” thing.  BUT, knowing doesn’t always make it easier.  It makes me more aware but it doesn’t solve the problem.  I am still tempted (and fall into the trap often) to compare myself- my appearance, my kids, my house, my craftiness, my pictures, and so on, to everyone else’s.  Social media really makes that easy doesn’t it?  I know we all wear masks that hide what we don’t want others to see and I know we generally only let out the pretty parts.

But, then there were a few things I had to break out my highlighter for and really think about.  “The thing about masks is that they never bring us closer to who we were created to be. Masks always make shallow what God has intended to be deep.”  This took me back and I had to stop there and read it again.  Wow- I don’t know that I have ever viewed it in that light.  She goes on to list Friendships, Marriages, Families, and Churches.  What would happen if all of those relationships were deep, like God intended them to be instead of sheltered and shadowed by the masks that we put on?  I can only imagine!

When she puts it in the context of “me” I really had to stop again and contemplate all I had read.  Cheating myself in my relationships by wearing a mask?  We live in a world that not only makes wearing a mask easy, but also makes it very normal.  It is easy to say “Oh I am fine, thank you!” and move on when really we are hurting on the inside.  For me, I fear that others don’t really want to hear what I have to say or that they really won’t care how I am doing, so I politely respond and leave it at that. But masks hide the truth.  They allow us to stay alone in our pain, frustration, sadness, brokenness, sorrow. Wearing a mask keeps us from having the opportunity to be encouraged, loved, and held up by one another.  It also keeps us from sharing our story with someone who may need to hear it.  Who may be feeling just like we are but they feel so alone.  “Not only that, but wearing masks breeds judgment.  It keeps us judging ourselves and others instead of living in and loving through grace” That line right there- the judgment that comes from wearing a mask is real.  I realize I do this and it makes me sad to think about.  I wear a mask to protect myself but wearing that mask causes me to look at others different.  That mask is a lie, and as long as I am wearing it I cant see the heart of anyone else.

Our world screams YOU MUST BE PERFECT IN EVERY WAY.  I know I strive for it even though I don’t like to admit it and I am getting better at letting some areas of my life be just fine wherever they are.  What happens when we let what others have, become who we think we should be? We may become discontent with our real lives. “Most of the time we don’t even realize that is what we are doing. It’s a subtle erosion of our satisfaction.  If we don’t recognize it, the discontentment can turn into disappointment, and then the disappointment can eventually turn into disillusionment.”  I have found myself in that place before.  Where it seems like all I am ever saying is “I wish….. my house was, my kids were, my marriage was” Instead of looking at all the things I do have, I end up focused on the disappointments.  There is no happiness in this. 

I don’t have anything figured out but one thing I do know is we are not alone.  Being a mom is hard.  There are days that I say more then once “I don’t think I can do this any more”.  I dream of being on the beach alone often.  My kids don’t always do what they are suppose to.  I yell at them and then have to apologize.  There are times when I am so tired I can’t seem to function properly and I feel so guilty that I can’t shake the exhaustion.  I have lost it over missing shoes, sippy cups, brushing teeth, and so many other things that seem so silly.  My house does not stay clean and I can’t seem to keep it organized like I use to.  The laundry falls behind.  I haven’t successfully meal planned in months or gone to the grocery store with a solid list. We eat out more then we should because I fail to plan.  But I bet that I am not alone.  Moms- we need each other.  We need to be able to say “I am having a horrible day” and not fear judgment.  We need to be able to stick together.  To love each other with grace.

I am so excited about this book!  The next Chapter is The Antidote.  THANK YOU for that, because I need it!  We are reading a chapter a week over the summer, so feel free to grab a copy and join us! 

The Social Media Snare

socialmediasnareI open up my Instagram app and start scrolling.  I see some cute kiddo’s, some clothes I would love to buy, then I try to quickly pass up this gorgeous photo of a perfect house.  It is clean and decorated so well.  I stare for a minute and suddenly I feel less happy with my house.  There are toys everywhere.  I just mopped 2 hours ago but some how there is mud or sticky juice all over it.  I fluffed the couch pillows and straightened the blankets but one of my kids came in and decided it looked more like a trampoline.  I had actually given up on my house looking together during the day….. until I saw that post on IG.

I was content with my life until I saw that person I follow on IG has started a new campaign to do something awesome! Now suddenly my life feels like it needs more of something.  I thought I was a good mom yesterday, but today I find myself feeling like we don’t do enough fun stuff.  My husband brought me a magazine home and I thought it was the sweetest thing, but then I saw that someone else’s husband surprised them with a weekend getaway full of planned surprises and gifts.  I read my devotional and wanted to share some inspiration, but now after reading someone elses post, mine doesn’t seem worthy any more.

Suddenly I am wondering why everyone else’s pictures look so much better then mine and I have decided that it is probably because they have more natural light in every room of their house.  I start plotting a way to take all the sheetrock out and replace it with windows so I can always have pretty light. I decide more windows is what I need and I will just carry my big girl camera around my neck all day.  Baby on the hip, camera around my neck, more windows.  This MUST be what they do.  Then I see that they are hosting a workshop to tell me all their photography tips and secrets to perfect pictures every time.  I am a photographer for goodness sake, but suddenly I am feeling like I don’t know anything about the subject, or certainly not enough.

The truth is, there is always someone I can compare myself to on social media (and in real life for that matter).  There is always going to be something I see that makes me feel like I should do something different.  I see what others are doing or not doing and I start second guessing myself (I should not be eating gluten, sugar, or any of the other junk I slip up and eat!).  Don’t get me wrong, I think we can easily let others inspire us to do better, but we have to be careful not to let what others are doing dictate what we choose to do.

“I have compared myself to you and felt like I could never measure up” “you really are super mom, really” In the last few weeks I have been told those things.  It honestly didn’t feel great.  I try really hard to be honest with my life and be upfront about my shortcomings and struggles.  I want to be honest because I feel like it is the only way to cultivate true relationships.  Pretending or sugarcoating our lives for social media only complicates things.  BUT, after reflecting on how others view me, I decided to really take a look at my posts.

I love to share and so I share moments or cute pictures that make me happy.  I get all of my IG feed printed in books so I like to make sure my favorites make it into the book.  I post things to encourage others and myself.  I try to post trials and struggles, but I see that I only post the hard things when I am finally at a point to get to the other side of it.  This is hard for me to admit but I have found myself wanting to post just because I think the picture will probably be well liked….. Why do I do that? Compliments feel good and everyone wants people to like their posts.

I’m not perfect or a supermom.  I am real.  I mess up all the time.  I get in ruts and can’t seem to get out. I don’t post all the yuck.  I don’t want to paint a picture of perfection for everyone to see. I allow my own insecurities to run my life most days.  This has become very obvious to me when I look at social media.  I don’t want to post things that make others feel inadequate but I also don’t want to stop sharing my life.  I am trying to find a balance and figure out how to share appropriately for myself.

I have decided to try hard (I’m not perfect so don’t expect this to be either) to post intentionally.  I want to make sure that the heart of the post is good.  That I am not seeking attention through my post.  That I am not fabricating things to make them look better then they are.  I know that I am not responsible for the way others perceive me, but I can be intentional about what and how I post things.  So what if my house is a complete mess in a photo, you may see it any way!  I want to find that balance of being honest and open without being negative and whiney.  I want to post things that bring me joy and at the same time make sure they are real.

I want to encourage you to step away from social media for a minute and evaluate how it makes you feel.  What are your true motives when you post and how do you allow what you are viewing to affect you?  Maybe you are like me and need to take a minute to remember that those who are posting are not perfect, even if they appear to be.  Most of all, to remember no one else is walking in my shoes and no ones journey looks just like mine- so I shouldn’t expect mine to look like theirs either.  I need to be able to focus on being thankful for what I have and where I am currently, and not so focused on what I am not.

Much love sweet friends!

Are you exhausted?

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11 weeks and 3 days ago we welcomed our 4th child into this world.  There are so many joys in new babies!  I love so much about the experience.  The visitors, the meals, the squishy baby in my arms all of the time, that new baby smell that is just intoxicating, all of the tiny little clothes.  I mean really, whats not to love about a new baby?

Oh, you are thinking lack of sleep maybe?  Or maybe the crying and excessive pooping they do?  Well, there is that.

I will tell you that having baby number 4 has people asking me “are you just exhausted” almost daily.  (I also get, “bless your heart” “wow you have your hands full” “oh man, I do not know how you do that” and a handful of other comments that I will just have to address in another post) When people ask me that I tend to have a generic response that is something like this “not really.  I feel pretty good actually”

But yesterday we had some friends over.  We were standing in the kitchen and she asked “So are you just exhausted?”.  I gave my normal response, except my husband was standing behind me and he started laughing.  I turned around and looked at him and he said “did you really just say that?”  It really got me thinking about it.  It made me think about why I really don’t feel the need to feel exhausted.  And also to think about why my husband was seeing things so different.

I have decided its called mom strength.  Am I exhausted?  Probably.  Being a mom is hard work, tiring, 24/7, non stop.  There is a never ending list of tasks to be done and they must be done while juggling kids and life.  Being a mom is probably one of the hardest jobs on the planet.  I think every mom is exhausted.  Am I right?  It just comes with the job.

So why does my husband laugh when I say I am not exhausted?  First of all, my husband sees me daily.  He knows what I do, he sees me at the end of a long hard day filled with non napping children, a day that hasn’t gone at all as planned, and an 11 year old who knows better.  He knows I get up to feed the baby throughout the night and even when I am asleep I am not resting because my body is on mom alert.  He  hears me say “I just don’t know if I can do it again tomorrow” in a moment of weakness.  He knows I am exhausted.

If I am exhausted, why do I not explain that when people ask?  I don’t think I notice how exhausted I am most of the time.  I think I just get up and go and do whatever is in front of me.  If you asked me if I was exhausted in the middle of a really tough day, I would probably be really honest, but for the most part, every day life and the exhaustion that comes with it just feels pretty normal.  When I stop and look at things honestly, I think my strength and perspective  comes from God and leaning on Him.

“Those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31

This verse does not mean that I will never be tired or even exhausted (because I am both).  I just know that trusting in the Lord for my strength has been so fruitful for me.  I have been able to muster through some rough days by simply relying on the Lord for strength.  God always provides what we need in the moment when we rely on Him.  I have learned that He might not always answer my prayers the way I envision them being answered, but he always answers.  God called mothers into the mission field of being a mom and He is faithful to walk with us until our mission is complete! God is bigger then anything we face daily. He is bigger then physical and mental exhaustion.  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28

Moms- It is ok to be exhausted.  It is ok to realize how hard your job is and how much weight you carry by doing it.  But be encouraged that God called you into Motherhood and He is there with you every step of the way.  Ask Him for whatever you need.  Remember that you are not alone either, look around you, moms everywhere are exhausted too, just like you.  Hug another mommy and remind her how precious she is to her children and to God.  Take time to laugh with a fellow mom and see how much exhaustion fades away when you choose to smile and find joy.  Encourage someone else today because you can.  Love with all your heart and soul.  Remember you have the power to change the world, one little tiny person at at time.  Being a mom is a BIG job, an important job, an exhausting job.  But God chose YOU to do it because He knows you can!

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