Pulling out the skeletons... Reconciliation

In March of 2001, I was diagnosed as bipolar, or manic depressive.  I was in the middle of a huge manic phase with all of the symptoms.  They told me I would have to be on medication for the rest of my life and it would be degenerative, meaning it would get worse as I got older.  I began to climb what I dubbed Med Mountain.  I was hospitalized twice in the first year for suicidal thoughts and tendencies.  I lost 40 pounds on the medications and got down to a very unhealthy size for myself.  I was struggling to weigh 105-110.  I was unhealthy as all get out and I didn't know how to take control of myself.  Life was out of control, my marriage, my brother, our finances.  Everything was reeling at a rate that I could not catch up.  I went back to work, I moved in with my parents for a time.  I was so out of my mind that I ran in a million directions, my card tower had toppled and I didn't trust myself and I surely didn't trust anyone around me. Ande's mom moved in with Ande and the kids.  (Yes, I walked away from them all for a few months.) Ande got them all into church three times a week, and as I was so out of control, they were moving forward.

Ande and I did eventually reconcile.  I did go back to my family, and I started attending church with them.  I had given up on God the year before.  Denounced him, over something so simple.  It still isn't funny to me, but the realization of my life without God became a tangible understanding.  As I sought God's face, as I accepted his gift of love and was taught what that meant, I was able to begin to get my life straightened out.

In the winter of 2002, Ande and I moved our family to NC for a new start. I remember standing in the kitchen that spring of 2003 and saying to God, "If I have to be on medications for the rest of my life to be a wife and a mother, just take me now".  I  never took the medications again.  Was I healed?  Yes, did I have to learn how to identify the symptoms so that I could cut back on caffeine, so that I could get a good night sleep.  Yes.  The symptoms became less and less.  Over the next few years I gained a few extra pounds and now I am back to the point that I am having to work on my weight by healthy eating and exercise.

So what does all of that have to do with today?  Well both this morning and yesterday morning I woke up out of a deep sleep.  The whole drool on the pillow, disoriented when you wake up sleep.  I finally realized this morning, that I have been in a manic phase.  Nothing crazy, no excessive shopping, no grandiose ideas of myself... just stress really taking it's toll and leaving me on edge all of the time.  Heightened awareness, and the inability to sleep are some of my "indicators".  The good news is that when Ande finally got settled into the Army, when I knew that we had a path, my body automatically went into recovery mode.  Sleep is one of my best indicators of where I am on the scale.

No, I am still not on medications.  I have learned self-control and I know that God has hemmed me in.  It's not that the thoughts and desires don't come, it's that I have the where with all to stay in my safe zones, not go to the mall, not browse the internet shopping.  I got involved in a local bible study and began to get my God tank refilled and today I sit here knowing that it wasn't I but God within me that has lead me down this road of recovery.

***Let me say here... I would never encourage anyone coming off medications cold turkey and without the help of a physician.*** My results weren't typical. Please hear me on this.

What I want to say is that God is good.  He is so extravagant in His love that he allowed me to restore my foundation, with some great help along the way.  I have had tons of counseling, tons of healing ministry, I have had people that have shown me the healing hand of God.  I can choose this morning to either think it was all for nothing or I can be reminded of the last time I was on this train and the wreckage I left in my wake.  I am still in recovery. I still seek out recovery ministry information, I still keep that part of me fed and learning.

I love this lady, and I watch her sermons every week.  She is so spot on.

So I say to you, my friend, my family... I am sorry for the wake I have left before, and that I will possibly leave in the future.  I am being reconciled to Christ daily.  I didn't come from a land of milk and honey but I am taking out the "Ites" in the land that God has promised me.  Thank you for loving me, thank you for walking beside me.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:17-19

Lord, I thank you for not leaving me covered in my own blood, I thank you for cleaning me up and setting me back on my feet.  I thank you for a path to recovery and reconciliation.  I honor you and praise you for all that you have done in my life and I love to see the true fruits of it in my children.  Thank you for the reconciliation of a mother to her babies.  They are among the greatest of gifts I have ever received.



He will stop at nothing...

The more I look around, the more I see that God will stop at nothing to get us back to Himself.  These past couple of years I have watched as time and time again God allows circumstances into our lives to get us back to Himself.  He brings our greatest fears to us, then He asks us to trust Him.

Is there loss along the way?  Sometimes.  Is there a real need for our dependence on Him? Every time.

I love the fact that whenever God enters someone's life, when He begins a conversation with them His usual address is "Fear not" or "Do not be afraid", depending on your translation.  He is about to turn your world upside down, and He is saying, "I've got this".  "Trust me".  "Hear me".

Personally, my greatest fear was people getting to know me.  I kept everyone at a distance.  I didn't want to talk about my past.  I lived in shame and anxiety that all of the skeletons in my closet would keep me from attaining my destiny.  I have learned that God controls my destiny and all of those skeletons, He knows about anyway because all along the way He was holding me hand.  He is pressing me not to shove them back into the closet, but to examine them, to teach others through them.  He wants me to talk about them.  He wants me to reassure someone else that every time I shoved one in there, He was holding my hand knowing that one day I would be mature enough to pull it back out and then He would be standing there with me as I cried and allowed His healing to come for every bone, every fracture.

There are other fears, loss of a spouse, our children, our businesses, our parents... Deep seeded life long fears that we may never have even been aware of until God himself presents a circumstance where we have to face it head on.  He brings us to our knees and then says, "Fear not".  He wants to know that we love Him despite our fears, despite our circumstances.  Sometimes like with Job He brings them all at once, then sometimes He brings them one at a time.  Only He knows what we can handle and what layers He is ready to deliver us from.

What I know to be true, no matter what it looks like when you go through it, when you look back, you were never alone.  Just like the fourth guy in the fiery furnace Jesus stood there, even before you knew Him fully.

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:11-12

So fear not my friends.  God is still in control.  He is still good, and He is still teaching.  He is still loving us, even when we can't see it or feel it.  Our hope is in Him.  Our only hope comes from Him.

Be blessed then be a blessing.



The tears that fall...

I know better.  I have been a military wife for years and I know better.  Apparently yesterday little Ms. Julia was watching the news.  **Reminder to put them in the no news zone** and she saw the story on the shooting at the air force base.  It sent her into a tizzy.  Then she talked to her Daddy on the phone and next thing I know she is curled up on my lap.  I asked her if her tummy was upset or was she upset and in her sweetness she said, "Bof". Yes, she is 10, yes, she has better English than that but it's her indicator that she is feeling overwhelmed, she goes into baby girl mode.

After further investigation she revealed that she was afraid that someone was going to bomb Daddy at school.  Oh, how I didn't prepare her for this.  What if he goes to Iraq? Her father and I have been so wrapped up in solving other issues that I didn't take the time to ease her fears.  I don't know that I did a great job last night into the late night.  It is my defense mechanism to make them laugh when I get pressed into a corner.  I had to quit trying to make her laugh and let her empty her heart.  We talked about Daddy just being at a school.  We talked about him being safe and how right now we have to enjoy the peace of knowing that he is okay.  There will be times when we won't have that peace.  There will be times when he is walking face on into danger, and I promised her, then the boys, that I would be honest with them when those times come.  We labeled it "Code Red".

We also committed to one another not to let the anxiety of "Code Red" creep into our lives until we were actually in "Code Red".  I don't want them living their lives in a constant fear of "Code Red", so I would advise them in the following manner.  Days like today, where there is no danger, we have labeled it "Code Green", that means life goes on as normal, we pray for Daddy to know our love and that he doesn't feel alone.  "Code Yellow", means that we start praying for Ande's strength and we examine our own hearts for anxiety and pray about those things as they creep in.  "Code Red" is reserved for those intense moments when he could face imminent danger. Anxiety is expected, we are going to pray for his safety, for God's wisdom for him and any other promptings given by the Holy Spirit.  We are also going to pray for each other intensely.  For God to strengthen us and to give us peace that passes all understanding.  So, that system, is now in place.

Then I had a conversation with her about how her Daddy is a hero to more people than just her.  I reminded her of his love for her and that no one can compete for her position as his only little girl.  I explained his heart to protect us and the country that he loves and that every time he puts that uniform on he does it for us... and our future generations.  She has never been with public with Daddy in a uniform and was quite pleased when I told her that there have been times that I have been with him that men have walked up and shook his hand and just told him thank you.  That her Daddy was a hero and that she needed to be proud of him.  Then I made sure that she understood that he didn't do this because we weren't enough, that he didn't walk away from her, he wasn't abandoning her, he wasn't rejecting her in anyway.  He was doing this for her.  Poor little thing.  She just missed her Daddy and kicking his butt on the XBox.

We have just finished up reading the book of Joshua a few weeks ago and I asked her what were the words that we read over and over again, what are the first words of God most of the time when he talks to us... "Fear not, Do not be afraid".  Then I told her, that courage is doing it scared... and that crying was a natural response.  Then she curled up in my arms and feel to sleep. I love having the opportunity to minister to my kids.  I love sharing a very real God in a very real way.

“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”- Jeremiah 29:11-13

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3



Some days...

I have a gifting in administration... I just don't have really great follow through. The biggest challenge to me right now is keeping up with all of the "i's" and "t's" and what needs to be dotted and what needs to be crossed. For the past few years my wonderful husband has taken care of all of this stuff. Now it's just waits for me.

I am not complaining, just trying to get my head around the lists that I have made, the calls that need to be made. No playing the martyr here... this is all me, 24/7. It's a helmet that I have to get used to wearing without stressing about it, without being anxious about it. I just need to breathe and trust that God will give me the wisdom to keep up with all of the small details that I am used to taking for granted and ignoring.

So Lord, tonight, I pray for your wisdom, I pray for your anointing on these lists, and these "to-dos". The checkbook, well it's yours and I commit to be a good steward of what you put into it. I am putting on my girdle of truth (big girl panties) and I am saying here I am Lord, help me. Thank you Lord for the provision, and for your love as I learn to operate in the grace that you are abundantly giving. Bless him with strength, and all of the pieces of his Armor in You. Protect the heart of my kids, remind them of your love, your extravagance for each of them.

I am on my knees... crying out to you.


Greatest gifts...

It seems this past year has been spent cleaning out closets and relocating for so many people. Ande, the kids and I spent a lot of time cleaning out the farm house and found an abundance of treasures... the china plates that Ande's grandfather gave his mother when she got married, lots of Ande's high school momentos. My mother in law is a keeper of all things (okay, she is a professed hoarder, but we love her).

We spent time going through our own things. "Downsizing", maybe not the extent that I would be comfortable moving with the military but we did get rid of a lot of things that we didn't love.

Then since I have been here in Florida my grandmother relocated from a condo that she has lived in for over 15 years to an assisted living facility to help her deal day to day with her Alzheimer's.

I have looked through closets, found photos in the strangest of places and have come to realize what the true treasures are to me. I have forewarned my parents that they need to start going through their stuff to save me from having to do it. Start putting stickers on the bottom of things so that when it comes time I know who to give them to. Or if I can just sell them to the higher bidder. I am not a collector, I am a thrower awayer. However, there have been a few things that I have found that I will treasure forever.

1. The cake topper that sat atop my grandparents cake the day they got married in 1970.
2. The China platters that my mother in law's father gave her when she got married more than 50 years ago.
3. My grandmothers numerous bibles with her own handwriting making note of the revelations that she herself received.

I am a firm believer in writing in my bibles. I have begun to write the year in the front of the bible, I tend to get a new one every year or two and I love to scribble in the margins, revelations, thoughts, quick find tabs. I want my kids, my grandkids to have the greatest treasure that I can give them. The conversations that I had with my God. The one I have used since being here in Florida has a lot of great notes in it in just a short period of time. I list prayer requests in the blank pages in the back. My kids and I have spent this time reading one book of the bible at a time... We have had some great thoughts that I have scribbled in there.

It is my hope that these are my legacy. That when I have gone on to worship Jesus that my kids can look at my handwriting and feel my heart, and my love for them. That they will be encouraged to run a good race, that they will know that they are loved and that they are blessed.

From my Grandmother's "The Power of a Praying Woman" Prayer Journal...

Lord, I know your thoughts toward me are of peace, to give me a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11). I know that You have saved me and called me with a holy calling, not according to my works, but according to Your own purpose and grace (2 Timothy 1:9). I humble myself under Your might hand, O God, knowing that you will life me up in due time. I cast all my care upon You, knowing that You care for me and will not let me fall (1 Peter 5:6-7) I want to walk with You today into the future You have for me.

She has that entire passage in brackets and underlined the key words to her. On the opposing page she writes: "And a voice SAID: Do not concern yourself Micki, God will take care of you! The voice called me Micki, by name, So God not only knows me by my given name Hilda, but He also knows me as Micki."

The greatest gift I can ever give my kids isn't a closet full of shoes, or a stack of books that I have read. The greatest gift I can give them, is the words of my God, in my own words - my own handwriting.

Makes you want to get your pen doesn't it?


Where is Daddy?

When I woke up this morning, the first thought that came to me was that my boys are in a phase of their life that they need their father the most. What an odd time for him to be gone. Though in the last 5 months we have seen him off and on, there isn't a man in the house everyday for the boys. Yesterday I noticed out Pastor patting Julia on the head and in that moment I realized that my kids have no male role model in the house right now and was reminded that as their mother it is my job to keep positive role models in their lives.

I have been amazed by the outpouring of love we have received at our little church here. All of the leaders are aware of our rather odd circumstances, even if we haven't been able to tithe more than our time, even if we aren't the same denomination as they are, even knowing that we were only here in transition and wouldn't become a permanent fixture they haven't been afraid to get their hands dirty and to love us. That is the love of God that we are supposed to find in the church. Our Pastor, the last time he saw Ande, committed to him to 'take care of your beautiful family'. He assured Ande that we were in good hands and that they would take care of us even while he isn't here. He committed to be our Pastor even if our names aren't on the roll.

I was reading the book of Ephesians with the kids this morning. Grace and love and faith by the body. What an awesome example of that God has personally given us.

Sometimes, God just shows up in ways that we can't help but say, "I know that God sent you". We are blessed, we are loved... We are not alone.


In the Army now...

Holy smokes what a long ride. WDW could charge millions for the ride we have been on for the past 17 months. It's official. We are an active duty Army family. My soldier is at a school and the kids and I are still hanging in FL for a couple more months.

I am working on letting down my defensive stance. Though it seems all my body knows at this point. I find myself still tense and there is no reason for it other than habit. I would be lying if I said there weren't points that I doubted God, that my faith waivered and that I didn't wonder why. But the good part about the valley is that when you climb back to the mountain top, the vistas are amazing. I can see God's hand in this... I know that the entire time it was holding my hand even as I was wondering where He was. Always here, always guiding.

A new adventure... What a blessing.

God is good.


Peter... I love you.

A few thoughts I had during church yesterday... written haphazardly in my church bulletin.

Regardless of circumstances look to God.

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. ~James 5:1

Ever present help.

Floating above the turmoil is the ever present peace. It's like Peter walking on water. When we look at the water or take our eyes off of Jesus we sink.

Immediately, Jesus reaches for us - are we going to fight to prove we can do it on our own? How far will we sink before grab His hand? Blub, blub, blub.

We really need to depend on one another and quit trying to do it on our own. Reach out to someone in need and be willing to grab a hand when you yourself are sinking.