Saturday, January 28, 2012

Going beyond the curtain and revealing more than I'm comfortable with


This was not a hard post to write, but it is an extremely hard post to publish... but I felt compelled not only to write it but to publish it as well. *Deep breaths* Be warned... this is brutally honest and not very pretty.


This week the Lord revealed a particularly fierce pattern in my life. 

Hi, my name is Ebe and I have a pattern of reacting to most situations with 'worse case scenario' doom. I am an anxious person.

A few years ago when my doctor told me I was suffering from PTSD, I was almost relieved. I remember thinking, "Oh, so this is why I want to run away or faint when I see a pregnant woman or hear the thump-thump-thump of a doppler. I am not crazy after all." For me, PTSD stemmed from waking up one normal average day and hearing the news that my previously alive and healthy baby was now dead and that no one told me that this could happen.

The day before I was at work, laughing and working like normal. I caught the bus home with my husband, we went out to eat and then to the grocery store. We came home and organized Owen's things, we took our last pictures of the apartment in its expectant state and our last belly pictures together. I went to sleep late and woke up panicked.. then one trip to the doctor's office changed our lives forever. He was gone and there wasn't a thing I could do about it.

PTSD can hit you like a ton of bricks. Anytime, anywhere. I have known this part for a few years and I was well versed with my triggers: big baby bellies, baby boys, little boys my Owen's age, boys named Owen, doctor's offices, waiting rooms, exam tables, ultrasounds, cold sun-shiny days in Winter, car rides down the road leading by my old doctor's office, the office building I worked when Owen died... there are more still. For the most part, I have overcome, by God's grace, a lot of my feelings towards these things and they no longer produce in me an extreme reaction.

Until a few days ago, what I didn't attribute to PTSD was the worse case scenario reaction I have developed to most situations. And that my crippling anxiety about medical issues, doctors' diagnoses or fear of a diagnosis stem from Owen's death.

But it makes perfect sense....
My son was healthy one day and dead the next. And no one told me that there was a risk of this happening. In fact, the high risk doctor I saw just 15 weeks before told me that there was nothing high risk about my pregnancy and that he would treat me and my baby as normal patients. I know no one can predict the future, and anyone (doctor or not) can make mistakes, but what I think has affected me greatly is that the doctors all saw an issue but refused to treat it and refused to take ANY steps to make him safer. They lulled me into complacency and then... he died.


I believe God is sovereign and in control. My faith sustains me. My faith calls me to see a bigger picture, and the Holy Spirit reminds me of God's great love for me. But my faith doesn't shield me from the effects of the broken world and that includes PTSD/panic attacks/(at times) unrelenting anxiety. 

For me, the sin of worry uses my past experiences to scream lies at me- your doctor is making a mistake! your doctor is lying to you! you will be the smallest .00001% and will get xyz. your daughter will be the smallest .00001% and will get xyz. it is a sure certainty. you have no future in this life. none of your dreams or desires will come true because of this diagnosis, pain, bump, fall, sickness, etc...etc...etc...

I hear these lies and I want to curl up in a ball. I want to completely zone out of my life and dwell in the worst case scenario. I want to start making funeral plans, and try to plan my family's life without me or my life without my daughter or my husband.

I told you this wasn't a pretty post. It's downright ugly and sinful and tragic. But it's true.


Owen's death has changed my default response to a trip to the doctor's office, to the early morning phone call, to the ache in my knee or the bump on my skin... it has changed me. 

I can no longer shrug off my husband's complaint of a headache without going there in my head. I can no longer ignore a pain in my knee without googling every reason why it hurts (oh, google how I loathe and love thee). I no longer let complacency lull me down the path of 'it could never happen to me.' Because it can. It might.

BUT here's where a calm voice breaks through:
It might not, Ebe. It might not and you are not in control of whether it does or doesn't. You are not in control. You are not responsible. Your vigilance, your obsession with googling, your obsession of knowing what you can not know will NOT CHANGE ANYTHING. Your understanding of Owen's condition would not have changed anything. You could not have prevented his death.
I have lovingly written all the days of your life. Of your husband's life, of your son's life, of daughter's life and it is no surprise to me that you woke up this morning feeling anxious. I am not surprised or confused. I am not lying when I tell you that you can cast all your fears and anxieties on me. I am your Daddy and I love you. I loved you the last day Owen was alive, I loved you as I brought him to Myself, I loved you then. I love you now... with a never stopping, never giving up, always and forever love.

Sometimes the voice comes in the form of my faithful husband who tells me I can trust Jesus- I can rest in His love. Sometimes a friend points me to the true and beautiful things of the Gospel. Sometimes it is  a quietness in my soul spurred by the intercession of the Holy Spirit, who is always there.


This morning I woke up remembering the worry of the night before and I dreaded getting out of my warm bed to face the day. But I did, Praise the Lord. I got up, reached for my Bible and read the words of LIFE. And I remembered how often He has delivered me from the thorny arms of anxiety.
I remembered how many times I laid in bed with a pit in my stomach, physically ill with worry, but I did not remain there. I was delivered. I sometimes forget how bad the bad days can be when I am no longer struggling quite as fiercely. But this morning I was reminded and in the remembering, God revealed my pattern of worry to worse case scenario doom.

You know, as crazy as it sounds, I'm thankful to see this pattern. I'm thankful that my eyes have been opened to how broken I am, as much as I sometimes like to pretend otherwise. My brokenness points to an unbroken, faithful, and merciful Savior. I'm thankful to the God of hope and life who delivers me. He delivers. 

I am not naive enough to say that because I see this pattern and understand its origin I will never struggle in this way again. But because we have a God who delivers us, we can trust that when the struggle comes He will be faithful. He will be faithful.even.in.this.


If you are struggling with crippling anxiety and feel that this struggle keeps you from God, please listen: NOTHING can separate us from His love. By His Spirit, because of His might, we can fight our anxiety with TRUTH. We are not alone in this fight- we have a great helper, the Holy Spirit, who is always helping, always interceding and always pointing us to the Father (Romans 8).

I will pray for you, as I hope you pray for me. : )
Please if you're willing, will you share your favorite verses of comfort and hope? Thank you, friends.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Brokenness

I have read countless blogs retelling the stories of babies born too soon, so silent and still, children dying from cancer, accidents and illness. In doctor's waiting rooms, I have overheard angry words of 'why?' and silent screams of sadness and frustration.

I have read the words of mothers who have brokenness etched into their hearts. Words that will break your heart wide open. My heart feels the heaviness of their brokenness today. It is my brokenness too.

What are we supposed to do with all this brokenness?
I can't sweep it under a rug. If brokenness was a shameful book, I couldn't hide it behind the other books and pretend that it's not there. It's too big and loud. Some days, it screams at me. I won't lie to myself or to the broken woman crying in the hospital... it is real. And it sucks.

What are we supposed to do with all this brokenness?


About three years ago, I heard a sermon about joy. In the introduction, our pastor asked if we were joyful people. I remember laughing bitterly to myself and scoffing, "No. No, I am not a joyful person. How could I be with all the death, the sickness, the brokenness around me?" I'm so thankful that grace pulled me out of my own thoughts and into the sermon that day. I answered his question very differently at the end of his sermon.


His point was not to condemn us into happiness. Contrary to popular belief, joy is not a feeling.

One of the major points in his sermon was that joyful people are people who understand that there is bigger picture; and an Artist who paints with colors we've never seen before, with brushstrokes so perfectly and carefully applied that if we could see it, we would weep with joy.

The bigger picture of a God who loves us. A God who weeps with us and who cares so much that He is coming again to set everything right... to make it the way it should be, the way it was made to be.

To a quote a good friend, "I guess all I'm trying to say is that you are not alone.  It's scary (and HARD) as crap, but you are not alone.  And the one who, if He had not died for us never would have died, is there for us too."

There is a bigger picture, a bigger story. There is an ending more grand than we could ever dream. And it does not end with brokenness. 




For now, the brokenness is here and it will not be ignored. We must keep waiting, knowing that our stories... that the bigger story does not end with brokenness. And lo, there is joy.

Friday, January 20, 2012

sometimes

sometimes i still check on my husband's breathing at night. sometimes i wake up my husband to check on my sleeping baby.

sometimes i get really angry when people use the term 'traumatic' flippantly.

sometimes i love an empty laundry basket. but sometimes i have a hard time washing all of HM's clothes.

sometimes i can't make myself shop the deals for next year's seasons.

sometimes i can feel the fear so tangibly that it makes my heart skip a beat.

sometimes i space out when i'm playing/eating/sitting with HM because my mind goes there.

sometimes i can't get out my own head fast enough. sometimes reading is a great escape. sometimes not.

sometimes, like right now, nothing seems to help.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Winterwonderland


Hannah Mae learned two appropriate words this week.
Snow and brrrrrr.




Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The break

Remember me writing about how I hadn't caught the stomach bug from Chris or HM?... well, I spoke/wrote too soon. In the middle of the night, on the eve of our flight home to Georgia... I woke up feeling off. My stomach made some terribly loud and strange rumblings and thus began one of the hardest days I've had in a while.

Our flight was supposed to be at 10am that morning, but we called the airline and managed a change to later in the afternoon. After a lot of whining and thinking and lying in bed, I decided that I would attempt one the dumbest things I've ever tried: travel with the stomach bug. About five minutes before we were supposed to walk out of the door for the airport, I threw up (excuse the gross details) for probably 5 minutes straight. That was fun (I had the popped blood vessels in my face to prove it). I quickly showered, changed and off we went to the airport. (Let's stop here and discuss the rudeness of flying with a highly contagious sickness... I know... I would have been so mad if I was a passenger on a plane and I knew that someone near me had the stomach bug. I mean, really. The nerve... and I'm being totally serious here. As I've mentioned before, I'm a germaphobe.)

Miraculously, we made it all the way to my brother's house without incident and there I collapsed into a ball of dehydration and exhaustion. Thankfully, we already knew the bug was only a 24 hour deal so we knew we would be home free soon. What I didn't know is how terrible I would continue to feel for about 4 days after. I think I was probably pretty dehydrated because I was still managing to nurse HM, but drinking made my empty stomach feel gross, so naturally I didn't drink much. Yep, smart I know.

So, that's how our break started. Fun, right? Well, at least we were together.

We also had a small cold which totally wrecked my plans of meeting up with Tonya and her family. I'm still mad at that cold. I waited the obligatory 7 days (7 days, not 5 like I previously thought) so the stomach bug germs would be gone, and then a few days after that, we caught a cold. Booooooooo. (I'm still so sad, Tonya!)
Traveling is already hard during the holidays, and then you add sickness and it becomes triple-hard. We didn't even make it to our beloved home church to visit, or see hardly any of our sweet friends from back home. And honestly, we're so sad, we didn't even  manage to call half of them. : (

We did get to visit with all of our families, and everyone oohed and awed over HM which she loved. She is adorable these days, and she knows it!








I read a really amazing article online last month about Christmas, which I meant to share then... but it is still relevant today. Joy to this Cursed World.

Why we can have joy and hope at Christmas, even when there is so much sadness and grief.... why we can smile and cry, laugh and sing, sob and sorrow, and miss those who are missing... all the while praising our Savior all the day long.



Friday, January 6, 2012

Chipped

My nails are a happy bright red, just starting to chip around the edges but happy nonetheless. Me too, I think. 
We're back home after our trip south. There were fun times, hard times, good times and some chipping times too. Whatever that means.

Once someone you love is missing, there is not a single thing that can remain the same. Something shifts. Life shifts and everything changes. You change. Sometimes it's easy to see and sometimes no one else can know the changes within...
Unless you ask... but then again, you have to be willing to hear the answer. And willing to leave it, because there is no fixing it. Whatever it is.

This may sound so depressing, but believe me, it's not all depressing. God is faithful and loving and generous with grace and mercy. After all that's occurred in the four years since Owen's death, I'm not sure I would or could change anything concerning my grief. Not the angry outbursts with God or my husband, not the tear stained floors, not the pounding-on-the-steering-wheel rage, not the eight months I went without going to church. 
Nothing could change God's love for me. Nothing I said or did or thought or asked. Nothing.

There was no fixing me. There was no solution or regime that would make me better. And I know, I know, that's hard to take. But it's the truth. 

Something shifts. Life shifts and everything changes. God came. He came, he whispered, he loved, he cradled my brokenness and slowly the healing came. 
Healing that didn't cause Owen's death to make sense, healing that didn't change my feelings of sadness or grief, but healing that showed me who my God was and is and is to come.