Forgiving Myself

For the last two weeks at least I have been a monster–a raging, uncontrollable, angry monster. If it wasn’t showing on the outside, I was still feeling it on the inside. For the last two weeks at least I have been sad–undeniable, holding-me-hostage sad. Today was the apex. I couldn’t feel this way any longer. I needed to break. Yes TO break, not A break…I needed TO break apart. I needed to get to the root of this awfulness, these horrible emotions and feelings.

Thank you, Jenni. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Just talking with you helped me beyond measure. From our conversation I gained clarity, a vital understanding. I gained peace and acceptance. 

I’m writing tonight to remember. I don’t want to ever forget what I learned today.I’m writing tonight solely for myself. I’ve been beyond frustrated with my work towards weight loss and health. I’ve finally come to that place of deep desire that I needed to find in order to get healthy. But there was something blocking me from putting that into action. Today, I found it. 

Let me connect my first paragraph and that last thought: for the last two weeks I’ve been feeling what I didn’t allow myself to feel for an entire year. This past year was something straight from hell, even worse for me than the year my dad was sick and when he died–yeah, that bad. Before you crucify me for saying my daughter’s first year of life was hell, let me explain. I worked for years in therapy to come to know myself, let myself feel and show emotion (instead of eating…keep that thought in mind), and have confidence in the choices I make and ultimately who I am on a daily basis. 6 years total of extreme hard work, digging down to places I had buried for so long…then, I lost it.

I lost myself, who I had worked so hard to become. Right after I had Laura, when I was in the throws of postpartum depression, someone said to me, “The old Katie is gone. Dead. Done. You have a new identity now.” That scared the hell out of me. I didn’t want the old Katie gone. I liked her. I LOVED her. I had worked too hard to find her and by God, I wasn’t letting her go that easily. So I fought tirelessly. I tried to keep working and have that anchor to who I was (though I didn’t realize until recently that work was not the anchor to myself that I needed). I faltered under the weight & responsibility of this new thing called parenthood. I didn’t trust myself to make good choices for my family. I didn’t give myself permission to feel scared or stressed or angry or sad. I denied myself entirely. Needless to say, parenthood did not come easy for me. I was lost, utterly lost, trying to be  teacher and mother & wife…and Katie. I was in a constant state of overwhelm (remember that scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off where Cameron goes catatonic…yeah, like that). 

Just within the last month, as the stresses of trying to working stopped, family stresses stopped, and we’ve become adjusted to being home…I found me. That strong, independent, confident, funny, calm, peaceful, happy, & playful Katie that I worked to find. The sensitive, actually FEELING (in the verb sense), person that I fought so hard to keep was still there. Enter the desire to take care of myself…blogging, asking for time to myself without sweet Laura, and…you guessed it, getting healthy physically.

This was a tremendous and joyous discovery on my part. (I realize some of you may have absolutely no idea how to relate to what I’m saying and I’m totally okay with that because this one’s all for me 🙂 What I didn’t plan on was a back log of emotions coming up and subsequently out (see first paragraph). For all the times I’ve told people over that last 6 years that stuffing emotions doesn’t eliminate them, you’d think I would’ve caught myself. Oops. The unjust judgment I have been beating myself with over that this last month is utterly sad. I’ve been angry at myself for losing track of me in this thing called motherhood. I’ve been mourning the non-existent death of myself because I didn’t allow any sort of time for me to feel sad during this past year. My stuffed (under loads of food) emotions are coming back, rearing their powerful heads. 

One of my favorite authors on the subject of binge eating, Geneen Roth, puts it this way:

“At every moment we are either choosing to reveal ourselves or to protect ourselves, to value ourselves or diminish ourselves, to tell the truth or to hide.” I have spent an entire year of my life reverting to hiding myself out of fear. Fear that I wasn’t fit to be a mother, fear that my child wasn’t going to survive, fear of losing myself completely, fear of the unknown, and fear that I couldn’t possibly be ME and still be a good mother. Fear overwhelmed every aspect of my life. And instead of facing the truth, valuing the person God made me to be, revealing the creature Christ loved…I hid…under food, lots & lots of food. I reverted back to the Katie of my childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood, the pre-therapy, pre-healed Katie. 

And now, the crux of my current problem. The healthy, REAL Katie is back on the inside in my feelings & thoughts, and on the outside in my words & actions. BUT, when I look in the mirror, I’m faced with the consequences of being not me. This beautiful, loved by God person, is temporarily trapped in the body of a woman who was faltering & barely surviving. When I look at myself, I don’t see a reflection of how I feel, but who I was for this past year. I don’t see the healthy, vibrant, CONFIDENT woman I know I am. I see buried sadness, anger, frustration, and fear. 

The best part of this is now I can truly move forward. I’ve faced the demons I pushed down for an entire year. I’ve felt the feelings I stuffed for 365+ days. They’re gone. They don’t control me anymore. I’m back.

So now the game plan is simple and clear for me. I will be kind and gentle with myself. I will not look in the mirror and think of what I wasn’t for a whole year but who was still there. I will see that soul that Jesus loved enough to die on the cross to save. I will work hard to get my physical body to match the Katie I know is inside. I will allow myself to feel again…and I won’t let those feelings, however strong, scare me. I will be myself, the Katie I worked so hard for, and still be an amazing mommy…all by God’s grace. 

He alone brought me through this dark time. He alone saved & shielded Laura during this year. He alone gives me the strength to forgive myself and move on. He alone will give me peace. What amazing goodness & grace. 

Thank you, dear Jesus, for never leaving me. Thank you for carrying me through the toughest of trials. Thank you for giving me a friend who never fails. Thank you for Jenni. Bless her and keep her close to me. Dear Jesus, you have given me so much time to reflect your love. Forgive me for not recognizing those times. Give me strength & patience & gentleness for myself. Keep me from losing sight of the person you’ve made me to be. Keep me from losing focus on you.

In Your name, Amen. 


Consider the lilies…

Today was one of those awful days that I wish I could call “do over.” A day when it seemed all I was capable of doing was worry. Sin and Satan got the better of me and I failed. I worried about money. I worried about Laura. I worried about my health and the fact that I didn’t work out today or yesterday. I worried about our upcoming trip to Michigan. Worry, nothing but worry. 

I truly despise days like today when I get stuck in my vicious sin cycle. When my perceived need to be in control overrides a trust in God. When I believe that if I don’t have and execute a plan to maintain this life around me that all will fall to pieces. Somehow I get it in my head that if I am not the little puppet master no one in my life will be able to function, we’ll lose our home, and all will fall apart. 

I talked to my sister about some of it and she reminded me of a section of God’s Word that I forget about a majority of the time:

22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life[b]? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

27 “Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luke 12:22-34
Jesus lovingly calls me out in this portion of His Word. He, full of patience and grace, reminds me that my Father in heaven cares enough to fill the grassy meadows with lilies, He most certainly cares enough to make sure that me and my little family are cared for, given food, and provided with shelter. Jesus gives the comfort that even the ravens & sparrows are given food by God’s hand; surely He will give infinitely more to me, lowly and undeserving as I am.     
Just as Mollie reminded me of God’s amazing promises, so did Laura in a way. As I was rocking her to sleep, I was singing her favorite, “Jesus Loves Me.” As I was singing she stopped drinking her bottle, gave me a big smile, and clapped her hands. Her joy was obvious. Mine was not today. I have so much more to thinking of besides worries. Not only does my Father take care of my earthly needs, He has taken care of my greatest need. There’s no need to worry about such trivial things here on earth because He has prepared a place just for me in His heavenly kingdom. He reminds me to trust in His Son, Jesus, who won that place for me by his life, death, and resurrection. He doesn’t suggest but commands that I place me trust in Him and not worry, rather have a peaceful & calm heart.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God[a]; trust also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14:1-3

What more can I possibly ask for? God has taken care of even the smallest of creatures here on earth, given me all that I need & more. He has an eternal home waiting for me already. That is true comfort & peace, given to me inspite of days like today, despite my worries, and all for His glory.
Dear Father,
Thank you for the promises and reassurances You give me in Your word. Thank you for caring for me regardless of my sinfulness. Forgive me for doubting and worrying. Grant me a peaceful night reminded of Your grace and mercy.
In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen. 

Sometimes You Just Have to be Able to Laugh

My morning today was one of those where if you can’t laugh, you might as well cry…or hide in your bed with the covers over you! Sit back and picture in your mind the craziness that was my morning…

It all started last night as Laura was still gabbing away in her crib at 8:45p, well past her usual 7p night-night time. I had that sinking feeling that it was going to be a long night for baby and mommy. She woke up screaming hungry at 1am and I thought ok, this might not be so bad. Well, that was until 5:15am rolled around and Laura decided she’d like to throw one of her infamous parties in her crib. Giggling, playing, laughing, crying, giggling, playing, laughing, crying…you get the picture. This vicious circle went round and round until somewhere around 6:45am when she fell back asleep. I figured I was in for maybe 45 minutes more slumber if I was lucky. 

Fast forward to 8:30a! Never, and I mean, never has this little sleep terrorist slept past 7:45a at the very latest. Therefore it never occurred to me that I’d actually need to set an alarm to make it to music class almost a half hour away at 9:30. If there’s one thing that is my biggest pet peeve, it’s being late, or even remotely close to being late. I get anxious, overwhelmed, and become a true nightmare when I’m running late. Just ask my husband (and by the way, Mathew, sorry for letting my monstrous nature rear its ugly head this morning! Yikers!). I jumped out of bed asking, well more like telling Matt to grab Laura, changer her diaper, and please for the love of God feed her a bottle quickly! I knew that if I took an empty-stomached little Laura to a 45 minute music class, things would NOT be good. 

So much for my plans, Laura refused to eat but just wanted to play. By the time I got out of the shower and looked decent (ok let’s be real, I looked like a sweating, flustered mess running around like Godzilla trying to gather all the crap that comes along with carting little miss thing anywhere!), it was time to leave, well five minutes past time to leave. I’d have no breakfast, and more importantly, no coffee. I repeat, not good.

Traffic here bites the big one in the morning and there is literally no other way to go to music class than straight through it. Try as I might while still being a careful driver (after peeling out of the parking lot, sweat running down my face) I pulled in five minutes late. Sigh, anger and anxiety set in. Laura still hadn’t eaten either. We sit down with all the other put together mommies and kids who are so nicely sitting on laps and joining along. 

Would that be my little march-to-the-beat-of-her-own-drum kiddo? Yeah, hell no. She immediately launches herself off of my lap and proceeds to practice downward facing dog, her favorite yoga pose in the middle of the circle while the rest of the class sings the hello song. Then after showing her mad flexibility skills, her intimidation stare downs begin. She goes to practically everyone in the room, one-by-one, and gives them the look. ———————->

All I could do was turn red and laugh. Not sure what the others were thinking as I was seriously avoiding eye contact by now. After the stare downs came the stomping-shuffle and shouting mid-singing. You can’t make this stuff up. She was in rare form today. At least by this point some other kiddos were off moms’ laps and doing their own thing…hopefully not because of the influence of my little pistol. 

Laura’s favorite part of music class is when we play with the instruments. My least favorite part of music class is when we play with the instruments. Laura puts them all in her mouth, takes from other less intimidating babies, and then throws a holy tantrum of all tantrums when it’s time to put them away. Today was no exception. She even started a tantrum on my lap then looked quietly around the room, gathering attention, threw herself down in the middle of the circle and wept bitterly. Le Sigh. What can you do? I say, make excuses, as many as I can. I picked her up and sheepishly attributed her behavior to not eating very much that morning. Yeah, I don’t think they bought it either. 

Finally music class was over and it was time for coffee…and maybe breakfast. First I sat in the back seat with Laura and fed her a long-over due bottle. My next stop was the new drive-thru Panera for a totally non-healthy, but much deserved cinnamon crunch bagel (a-ma-zing) and a large coffee. I place my order and no lie, 15 minutes later am at the window feeling rather disheveled and stabby (thanks, for the term cousin). I’m handed my bagel, pay $2.45 (hmmm….that seems low) and the worker walks away. Normally I’d just say what the hell and go home to a pot of coffee but seeing how my morning was going there was no telling how the rest of my drive home would go. So I honked my horn, flailing my arms out of the window like a crazy person, only to have the worker return running with my coffee. I pointed out that I needed to pay for said cup o’ sanity and he said nope, it’s ok. Being without food or drink for the entire morning, my brain wasn’t functioning enough to comprehend that he was giving me a free coffee. Being the redonkulus human being I am, I argued that I needed to pay. He again said, “Honey, it’s on the house.” Oh…enter total embarrassment and humiliation. I couldn’t even muster the ability to giggle, laugh, make a coherent statement. I hope I at least murmured a thank you. He must have taken one look at my frazzled, discombobulated self and had nothing but sheer pity for the sweaty, sad mother at the window. Either way….I’ll take a free coffee…and subsequently run away. 

Once home I decided a dance party in the kitchen with Laura was just what I needed to shake off this comedy of errors morning. We danced and laughed away all the craziness that was this morning. 

If there’s one thing I’ve had to learn as a mom, things very rarely go according to plan or schedule. You’ve got to roll with the punches and learn to laugh at yourself, your kid, and everything else. Thank you, Mathew, for dealing with my uptightness on a regular basis. Thank you, Panera man, for my free coffee and your pity. Thank you, Laura-love, for helping me to loosen up & laugh, to learn to dance in the kitchen for no reason, and to take life & all that comes with it less seriously. 

And now, it’s quiet and my little maniac is sleeping. Time to relish the calm.

Let Your Light Shine

This week I have a few opportunities to step outside my comfort zone (and out of my house…yay!) to get together with others moms and little ones. I can already say that my palms are a little bit sweaty. Contrary to what most people think about me (that I am an uber-confident, full of self-esteem mega mom hahahaha!) I get EXTREMELY nervous meeting and talking with new people. I’ve been known to break out in a full on sweat-fest from my hairline to my toes (Gross, I know. Just think how I feel!). There’s just something about striking up and carrying on a conversation with a small group of new peeps that sends my mind reeling. Ask me to give a speech in front of a huge auditorium full of strangers and I’m golden, no sweat, no pain. But, give me a tiny group of 3 and I’m borderline panicking. 

I’ve avoided places, parties, and functions for fear of the sweat factor & the intense nerves. From my high school years on I can recall feeling like this more often than not. Working with my counselor and gaining some much needed self-confidence helped beyond belief when I lived in Orlando but down here in FM, I’m struggling again. I worry that instead of seeing me, people I meet with see my shortcomings & failures, cast judgement, and subsequently avoid future convos with Sweaty McGee, I mean, me. 😉 Even writing that now I see how truly absurd it is. I need to remind myself that 99% of people that I talk with are not even thinking about me. That selfish human nature is inside all of us, so why would I think they’d be focusing so intently on me???

More than anything I need the reminder that instead of seeing the sinner in me, there’s the blood-bought saint that can be shining forth. Again, it’s not about me. I am a child of God, bought by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus my Savior. That is who people should be seeing when they look at me, hear my words, and see my actions. Jesus said in His sermon on the Mount, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).  

Rather than spend time and energy worrying about whether or not people will see my failures, sins, and shortcomings, I can focus on showing them Jesus, His love, grace, gentleness, and mercy. Oddly enough, that thought takes a whole lot of pressure off of me. I can go into this week with a peace, joy, and excitement at being given the opportunity to let my light shine. 

Ah, I feel better now. 🙂

Dear Jesus,
Thank you for always being with me. Thank you for giving me opportunities to share my faith and be a witness of your grace. Give me a calm and gentle mind so that I can focus on being a mirror of your love to those I meet.
In your name I pray, Amen. 

Whatever is lovely…

I’ve found that most nights I’m given quiet moments where my mind is clearer and I can regain a solid focus on God and His amazing, good gifts. I don’t have the distractions of every day life in Laura’s darkened room. I’m a person who gets easily and frighteningly quickly wrapped up in sin. I thank God for these times when He gives me a peaceful mind. Tonight was one of those blessed moments.

Every night I rock Laura while giving her a bedtime bottle. I’ve only not done this a handful of times. It is by far my favorite time with her. I sing my favorite hymns about Jesus while she plays with my hair, arms, or fingers. And I can’t forget to mention that she also snuggles with her blessed lovey grey elephant. During these moments I often find myself thinking about how she’s changed and how much she’s growing and learning. Tonight while doing our evening routine I was reminded how blessed I am. 

Laura is becoming such an awesome little kid & so bursting full of personality. (So much so that the young dad we sat next to in church today smiled at me after the service and said, “Well she’s definitely a character, huh?”) She’s running through the house, twirling and dancing at will. Tonight she was giggling uncontrollably at a tennis ball that we were rolling and bouncing back and forth. She will randomly come up to me, hug me while pat-pat-patting my back and say “huggie.” It. Melts. My. Heart.

I absolutely adore her spunk and tenacity. She is fearless, knows what she wants, and oh so smart! There is definitely no fooling Laura. She sees something once and remembers it. I love how she can sit by herself looking at her books for 20 minutes straight but also let us know when she wants a playmate. She’s learning to listen so well. She shows so much love. We went to music class for the first time and she literally hugged or tried to kiss every child in the room. It was adorable. We’ve been so immeasurably blessed by God with this little bundle of love. I like to think of these things. I pray that I have more gentle moments like these where I can keep my mind on the pure & good…the blessings.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Philippians 4: 4-5,8 

Dear Gracious Father in heaven,
Words don’t say enough thank yous for the wonderful blessing of our little girl. You know my heart and how much love I have for Laura. Thank you for loving her even more than I can fathom. Thank you for you providence and grace. Thank you for entrusting us with the privilege of being parents. Help us to guide Laura in Your ways that she may show Your love to all. 
In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.  

Just Another Day in Paradise…

This Phil Vassar song plays in my head… a lot. This morning was a particularly rough one for me. Laura was moody. Pepper had a flea on her (not good when you’re me and you’re borderline OCD). The pediatrician’s office called informing us that the insurance we use for Laura (out of our own pocket) is worthless and we need to pay up. Sigh, needless to say, by the time I actually sat down for breakfast my head was pounding something fierce. 

As I was sitting next to Laura and trying to drink one whole cup of coffee, I looked up and saw this:
Alas, my love of fall and my subsequent early decorating bit me in the booty, smacked me in the face, gave me a wake up call. I was in the midst of throwing myself one heck of a pity party when instead I should have been thanking God that my problems are so small. I stopped in my tracks by God’s good grace and asked for forgiveness and did one of my long-forgotten but favorite things to do: made a list of things I’m grateful for. I’ve found that when I’m down or my perspective is skewed this is a sure fire way of snapping back into place.

So tonight, I’m thanking God for:
  • the forgiveness of sins and promise of life eternal won through Jesus, my Savior.
  • the blessing of a beautiful family–a loving & hard-working husband and an intelligent, healthy & hilarious daughter.
  • a home, food, clothing, and the beyond essentials that He gives me daily.
  • doctors…even if we’re stuck with a big bill because I know God always provides.
  • a bathtub, washing machine, and flea medicine for my dear little Pepper-dog.
  • rest when I need it.
  • His word to remind me of all the things I take for granted, how I am forgiven of those sins and all others, and His promise of heavenly peace & comfort by His side.
  • the grace-filled moments where He shows me what’s really important and guides me away from my sin of self-pity & worry.

“Give thanks to the LORD for He is good; His love endures forever.” Ps. 118:1