Unworthy: Does Anyone Else Feel Like I Do?

Today was the first Easter Sunday I have not been able to physically be in church. I’ve cried a lot this morning. And prayed. And worshiped. And thanked God for loving me anyway. And cried. And prayed. And worshiped. Well, you get the picture. It is my sad cycle. It is the swirling of overwhelming emotion and persistent thought that sometimes makes it way straight to my heart. I am unworthy. I’m not just talking about being unworthy to be a child of God. I’m talking about unworthy to be a mom, a wife, a woman….a person. Worthless.

I’ve had an invisible illness for nearly six years but the doctors didn’t know what it was. After a year and a half, I didn’t know it wasn’t gone completely, just in remission until I relapsed just over a year ago. This time, I was lucky enough to get a diagnosis. Spontaneous Mal de Debarquement Syndrome or MdDS for short.  MdDS has spread it’s ugly tentacles into every single corner of my life. Because of it, I wrestle with severe anxiety when my symptoms are high.

Being confined at home, not able to be free and independent as I’ve been most of my adult life has settled in my spirit as a dark bleakness that at times, such as today, has made me feel smothered with worthlessness.

So I tuned in to church live online. The song “Is He Worthy?” was playing, a song based on Revelations 5.

But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll and read it. Then I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll and read it. But one of the twenty-four elders said to me, “Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne, has won the victory. He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Revelations 5:3-5

And tears began to run down my cheeks. Because when you really think about it, we are all unworthy. There is no one worthy. But today, the very day we celebrate the most holy of days, the Resurrection of Jesus is a reminder that He is! And His spirit lives in me.

Church

Do you battle with feeling unworthy like I do? Worthless? Less than? Because of ______. You can fill in the blanks with so many things… Sickness. Sin. Shame. Mistakes. Weakness. Pride. Fear. We all have the dark bleakness of our pasts, our insecurities, our pain, our inadequacy waiting to smother us. BUT Christ won the victory and His spirit lives in us if we just accept and believe. He is the light and in Him there is no darkness. We are free to let go of that darkness and make room for everything He stood for like compassion, kindness, acceptance, grace and love.

In Him I am whole. I matter. I am worthy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Small is Big: What my son taught me about faith and compassion.

donnaandluke-1.jpgHave you ever learned that someone is facing a difficult time and just wanted to do something, say something, anything to ease the pain or bring a sliver of comfort? Often times, we truly feel helpless. Wanting to form words into a perfect sentence that will help them immediately feel better but the only thing that comes out is abject silence, because your mind is suddenly empty of any and all words. However, I have been shown first hand that there is so much we can do, no matter how small it seems.

When my son, Luke, was diagnosed with Chiari Malformation at age 10, our world flipped upside down. I was consumed and twisted with worry. Worried about his impending brain surgery. Worried about him being scared. Worried about what this meant for our future.

During this time, he was given a knitted prayer shawl made by a precious local ladies fellowship church group. Later, he was also given a prayer bear by a sweet friend of mine. His bear was placed at the right corner head of his bed and was there for almost 2 years. His prayer shawl went with us to the hospital and brought so much comfort to him. He told me he could feel all the prayers that had been prayed over it and love that had gone into it. That comfort and peace he got from a small caring gesture spilled over and brought unspeakable comfort to this mommy’s heart through surgery and the months of recovery that followed. DSC_0987

Nearly a year after his surgery, my co-worker was battling cancer. Luke and I wanted to reach out to her, to give her comfort, but in all honesty I simply CANNOT knit. So we decided to send her a prayer bear. Luke picked out the softest one he could find, just the perfect size to hug. We prayed over it, calling her by name and asking that it bring comfort to her as it did Luke. You can read more about this story published on The Mighty.

After that, we decided we could share love and comfort in a very small way through giving prayer bears. To start off, Luke sold some of his toys for donations. Since that first bear, we have given nearly 30 bears in just over a year to others who are sick or hurting, most go to children with Chiari like Luke and other conditions. It has been such an honor to be entrusted by these parents to pray for their precious children! And Luke always writes a card to each person, a kind message that he feels each one needs to hear.

And the sweet spring beauty that has blossomed from his painful surgical winter has been the most precious to me. Through the bears and prayers, I’ve seen my son’s faith and love flame into a burning compassion for others that has spread into all areas of his life. He is the first to meet and befriend others in new settings. He is kind to everyone and sees everyone as a friend. Whenever we are out, he greets strangers with a smile in passing in the grocery store or running errands and tells them he hopes they are having a great day, holds the door for them or helps them unload their cart.

This has taught me so much about the little opportunities we have each and every day. We can be consumed inwardly with ourselves and our struggles, (something of which I am profoundly guilty) or we can look outside of ourselves for small opportunities to share a moment of love.

Thank you my sweet boy for showing me that small things become big when love is in it! Chiari Card

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crazy Blended Family Holidays: What’s a Stepmom to Do?

huff-po-christmaIn nuclear families, Christmas can be very hectic. There’s grandparents and extended family to visit and gatherings galore. If you have a blended family, let’s face it. Holidays can all out suck. The delicate schedule gets out of whack. The kids get shuffled and shuttled back and forth more than normal. Even parents can become selfish and accusing. Can you say cray cray?

Often times, stepmoms can get caught up in the middle of the whirlwind. But, hey, relax. The good news is there are still some things you can focus on to keep the season merry and bright without losing your jingle bells.

Focus on the season rather than the day. So much emphasis is placed upon the magical December 24th and 25th. However, if you’re like us, our Christmas is celebrated every other year on December 26th and the world does not end. The season of the holidays is a whole month so get out and enjoy it with the kids whenever you get the chance.

Don’t obsess with when but focus more on how. How to make it memorable. How to make it special for your family. With social media, it is easier than ever to find cool events and seasonal happenings. Last year, we took the boys to a woodworking toy making shop where we learned the entire process of how a limb off of a tree becomes a toy.

Focus on giving to others. For several years, my daughter and I have gotten involved with our local church to assist families in need. Gifts are donated through angel trees and we help them shop, wrap and load up their gifts to take home to their family on a designated night.

Last year, I took the money we set aside for my gifts and donated it to a soldier and his family through Vet Tix. “Vet Tix provides tickets to events which reduce stress, strengthen family bonds, build life-long memories and encourage service members and veterans to stay engaged with local communities and American life.” My husband wrapped the receipt as my gift, placed it under the tree and when we opened presents, I shared the story of the soldier we were helping. There is nothing better to take the focus off of the stress and ourselves like giving to others.

Focus on making new traditions unique to your family. Since we’ve moved into our neighborhood, we’ve tried to make little gifts for our close neighbors and friends and we give them out as a family every year.

For instance, one year I wrapped a can of soda and bag of microwave popcorn in a gift bag and attached a little message card to it that said Pop pop fizz fizz oh what a good neighbor you is. Last year, we decided to make homemade healthy baked dog treats and give them to our neighborhood dog owners.

Instead of having to decorate the tree on a specific day, we always wait and decorate the tree together. Each of our kids has special ornaments that they love to hang on the tree themselves. That way, now matter how the schedule falls, they still feel a part of the celebration of the season.

Focus on the reason for the season. The holidays can mean different things to different families. Christmas for us is a time to reflect on what we value and what we hold most dear and a time to remember the love born on Christmas. What ever makes this season special for your family is what’s important.

We have a special snow white stocking that hangs over the fireplace in front of the rest. All during the season, we write down special things and place it inside its soft shimmery folds. We write things that we are thankful for in each other or maybe something we have seen the other do and we are proud of them, or something that has touched our heart. When we celebrate our Christmas, we read them and try to guess who wrote it or who it’s about. It is one of my favorite times we have together!

I’ve shared about some of our holiday fun and ideas on how to keep the crazy to a minimum. However, there is one thing that should not be the focus. Don’t focus on the negative.  It’s toxic and unhealthy. The holidays with stepfamilies are already complicated so don’t poison it by focusing on the Grinches who would love to steal your Christmas. Reflect on what you value and what you hold most dear, the love that you have for each other.

Time Is Ticking Away

pool blog picWe are on a two week vacation at the home of my husband’s family. I’ve never been on vacation for more than a week before but I am loving it…for the most part. “For the most part” because even though we have a week left I can’t help but dread the moment when our time here will run out and we will have to say goodbye and head home. I just know these seven days will fly by so quickly that I can’t even relax and enjoy this time as much as I should, giving adage to the saying “time flies when you’re having fun”.

I’m watching mpool boysy boys giggle and laugh as they play and splash in the pool while the last drops of sun mingle with the twilight that is creeping into the corners of the yard. They have been in the water more than they have been out since our arrival. I’m enjoying their playing now but will not when I hear their groans and protests as I tell them it’s time to come in and settle down for the night.

 

Time is ticking away. It is not just time with family we haven’t been able to visit since 2010. It’s time off from work. It’s time with my husband. But most of all, it’s extended time with our children. Summer for blended families is, well, different, for lack of a better word. In our situation this particular summer, it can be a very precious gift of extra quality time before school starts. For other stepfamilies, it is a fight for extra time or a big ordeal of working with the other parent to organize time. My heart breaks for the latter.

All this planning and worrying over time has got me to thinking how we have so many opportunities of precious time such as weekend time, summer time, night time, afternoon and so on with our kids, our spouse, our families but let other things excuse away that time. My husband and I work very hard to spend one on one quality time with our kids. There have been times where that priority took a back seat because of work etc… So as it has gotten more difficult we have tried to be more deliberate in our efforts. I found this quote and it really does remind me that time is precious. It’s also time for me to wrap this up and time for my boys to get out of the pool.

“My family is the most important part of my life; I could not imagine my life without any of them, yet too often I find myself saying, ‘Not now,’ and then realizing much too much later that later is too late.” ~Marie Leslie