Saturday, July 11, 2015

annnnd... I fell apart

Have you ever been lost?  How about alone and creeped out late at night?

I remember one time when I was walking home from youth group at like 10 pm in late fall.  I grew up in northern Arizona.  It is the largest Ponderosa Pine forest in the world.  We have ski resorts up there.  It isn't what people typically think of when they think of Arizona.  Anyway, in the fall, the air becomes really crisp and it gets REALLY quiet at night.  I should also mention that we had black bears, coyotes, and a lot of skunks in my neighborhood.  I chose to walk home rather than call my parents to pick me up, because I was angry (about something stupid probably... I was THAT kind of teenager.  Sorry Mom!) and I needed to blow off steam.  I didn't realize that a couple of miles in the stillness with some pretty big fears could be such a panic creating thing.  It was.  As I was walking, I realized there were no cars out, there were hardly any lights, and no one knew I was out there.  I felt so alone walking down the roads of empty summer homes.  I was afraid I would run into a bear.  It was the time of year they were desperate to finish fattening up, so they were coming into the neighborhood more to get into trash cans.  I thought I might be able to scare off the skittish coyotes, and I was making enough noise shuffling my feat to not scare the skunks.  I was the only noise in the neighborhood.  There haven't been many nights since then that I have heard such stillness and quiet back home.  It was as if the world was quiet with anticipation of some great moment.   All I could feel was fear.  I am NOT a fan of the dark.  Really terrible things have happened in my life in the dark.  I really shouldn't have made the choice to put myself out there.  With each few steps, I let my fears take deeper root and start to twist my perceptions.  It was as if trees twisted into terrifying shapes.  Each leaf caught by the slight breeze caught my eye.
Have you ever had that alone and paranoid feeling?  It makes your heart pound, and your stomach drop.  It makes you stop thinking clearly, and forget any boldness you once had.  It could completely consume you if you let it.

It has been probably 17 years since that night, and I had completely forgotten about it.... until 2 weeks ago. Since I moved to Washington, I didn't realize how much I had given into my fears.  It hasn't been the same fears as that night; but rather loneliness, worry about my marriage, feelings of inadequacy as a parent, hopelessness, and lack of faith. The strange thing is that one day I realized that I was being consumed by my fears, and my mind immediately flashed back to that moment so many years ago. It was the same physiological response.

I suppose it is true that every experience we go through teaches us something we will use later.  This was one of those moments that statement was true. When I had experienced that fear earlier, I calmed my fears by singing every hymn I could remember from our Lutheran hymnal.  I sang songs we had taught the children in VBS.  I sang church camp songs.  I sang through my neighborhood and by the time I got home, I was freezing cold and very happy.  Part of the way through my songs, I had realized that I wasn't seeking the Lord about my fears.  I had completely forgotten every verse I KNEW about not fearing, or about His protection.  The words of those hymns had soothed my soul and pointed my heart heavenward.  As I sang, I prayed words of praise.  I was so thankful for that beautiful, peaceful night and the chance to have quiet worship.  I completely forgot about anything that had almost pulled me under moments earlier.  It was amazing.  That transformation was something I remembered clearly in the moment the memory had flooded my mind this month.  I was in the same situation of letting my fear consume me, and all I needed to do was remember to whom I belonged.  I needed to remember that my purpose is not to wallow in self pity and hide in my home.  I needed to get out and live my life of worship.

I am trying to spend more moments in gratitude.  Even times when I am feeling so much fear and uncertainty, I am trying to seek the Lord and his peace.  Singing those same hymns have brought me so much peace and hope.  Obviously I needed to be reminded that I have been walking off the path I should be.  I have been making choices that have put me in the dark.  I have pushed everyone away so that I am alone in the dark.  I needed to remember that I am not a victim and I am the one who chooses how things affect me.  I am very fortunate to have some friends who have reminded me of that as well.

I feel like I am finally walking back into the light.  Fear is still here, but it isn't consuming me.  My friend reminded me that I am not going to drown.  I don't know if I have found hope, but I have found gratitude.

So there we are.  I thought I was going to be this great blogger and write really interesting and fun things the whole year my husband is gone.  I didn't expect to fall apart and then blither for an unusually long time on my blog.   It is a process, I guess.  Maybe I will learn something from my failed blogging attempts, and one day offer you a really interesting and useful blog. In the mean time, thank you.  Thank you for sticking with me, for taking some time to read about my experiences.


Monday, May 4, 2015

This is the new "normal"

Yesterday, my world changed.  I said goodbye to my beloved for a year and put him on a plane headed toward the Middle East.  As he walked out of sight beyond the checkpoints, this strange thing happened.  It felt as if all of the air was completely sucked out of my lungs.  Normally, when I feel dread or another strong emotion, it feels like a drop in the pit of my stomach.  This was different.  For a moment, there was no air, no way for me to breathe.  I was trying to hold it together for the children, but it came in waves.
We walked to the escalator, *no air.*  
We walked to the parking garage, *no air.*  
We got into the van, *no air.*  
We got onto the freeway, *no air.*  
We walked into the house without him, *no air.*  
Every step I took was farther away from him.
I still catch myself, and remind myself to fight for that breath.

It isn't like this is our first time being apart.  We spent almost 2 1/2 years apart in the early years of his Army career.  We have spent months apart.  When we added it up this last year, we haven't spent even half of our marriage together because he has been gone for military related things.  It felt completely bizarre to be so affected by this separation.  

The thing is... We haven't had an easy marriage.  We have struggled through a lot of not so wonderful things to get to this point.  We have had a wonderful couple of years, though.  These last 2 years have definitely been my favorite as far as my marriage is concerned.  I love my husband so much more than I could have imagined several years ago.  I think that is probably why it hurts the way it does.  

I am going to have some extra time in the evenings for a while.... so I am going to post more.   I'll put my discombobulated thoughts out into the world, and hope that every once in a while, I can be an encouragement, or can be someone to relate to.  

Today, I am just being someone who is coping.  

I am determined to make this year worthwhile.  My amazing husband is making this sacrifice so that we can have this life.  I refuse to not let it inspire us to do our best each day.

For anyone out there who is hanging in there with me, thank you.  Thank you for taking the time to read about my day.  

Tomorrow, I will tell you about my move to the most beautiful place I have ever lived.  


Saturday, January 3, 2015


I have a lot of really big things happening this year.  I feel like I am standing at the bottom of a really huge mountain, getting my gear ready to climb.  Only a week ago, I would have told you that there is NO WAY I could make it to the top, that I could never find out what is on the other side.  Fortunately, I have great friends who challenge me, and hold me accountable for things when I am feeling incapable.

Here are the challenges from friends that I have accepted for this month:

*Do a book club challenge.   This is what we are reading.  It is great!  It has both cleaning and heart related challenges.  I am on day 3, and I find it to be a good combination of encouragement and assignment.  On a side note, I was encouraged by one of my dearest friends to start reading more, because it is always something that was a part of me.  I am so glad she reminded me of who I am at my core.  I read a book this afternoon, A.S. and it brought me serious joy.  I don't think I will be feeling quite so desperate.  ;-)

*Joining my bestie in encouragement, prayer, and fasting.  We are keeping each other accountable for our attitudes as well as our to-do lists.  We committed to not allow ourselves to have a rotten 2015.

*Working out on a regular basis.  I have the best beach body coach...ever.  This year I am saving my life and kicking butt.  I actually lost weight over the holidays.  That is how awesome beach body is.  Now that I know what I have been missing, I plan on becoming completely addicted to my daily workout.

*Making church and Christian fellowship a priority.  It is going to be one of those years that I really need to make sure I don't retreat into my shell and stop talking to people.  I FINALLY found a church that we all really love, which makes me incredibly happy.  Our next semester of PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel... a non-denominational Christian women's Bible study and service group) is about to begin, and I am not going to let myself become invisible there.  I have been going for 2 years, and still have people I have had several classes with asking me if I am new.  Nope... just quiet. I will be the one getting involved, volunteering, and helping others this year.

*Blogging.  This is kind of one that I am doing for myself a bit.  I don't know if people actually read all this craziness, but I know that it helps me to get it all typed out.  You are my therapy.  Thank you.  I can keep sharing pictures of my favorite people if I keep blogging.  Seeeeeeeee....

*Blogging a once a week recap of school.  One of my homeschooling friends who has children in preschool through college helped me reevaluate my homeschooling.  I was surprised to hear how much more we do than most other families.  It is encouraging to know that I am not just ruining my children.  She thought it would help me to see the good things happening (looking over that failure wall) if I blogged about that.  I'll try to keep my homeschooling craziness on my homeschooling blog.    ;-)

So, even though I know I am still in a war with depression, and I have many more difficulties ahead of me, I am gearing up for the trip up the mountain.  For the first time in a long time, I am looking forward to the view from the top.

Do you do resolutions or annual goals?  Those who fear failure as I do, generally don't make resolutions knowing there is a chance they will be broken.  You can't fail if you don't try, right?  WRONG!!!  You miss out on so much if you don't try.  I've missed out on a lot.

My Sister-in-law reminded me that we need to live with no regrets.  She is absolutely right.  Looking back, feeling sorry for oneself, and regretting the past will do no one any good.

I need to have the accountability in place to keep going with positive things, so with challenges accepted, scheduled, and in process, I am ready to move FORWARD.

How can I encourage you in your goal making/keeping?

Let's move FORWARD together!!!


Friday, January 2, 2015


I recently did a Facebook post to my closest friends saying that I was completely lost in this failing 2014 thing.  I lost hope.
If there is something I have always clung to... it is hope.
It is something I always remind my struggling friends of.  It is something I always remind my children of.  It is something that I lost complete track of.
Without hope, everything is dark.  Darkness breeds scary things.  It allows loneliness and depression to creep in and take over.
It is completely consuming.
I am not allowing it to rob me of joys in my life.
I am not allowing it to keep me from being thankful for the great things I have.

My family isn't quitting.

I am not quitting.

There really is hope.

I needed to be reminded of that.  I needed to be scolded a bit and prayed for a lot.  I remembered that it is what keeps me going.

I was looking for hope in all the wrong places.  Working towards impossible goals won't bring hope.

I am so thankful I have amazing people in my life to remind me of how truly blessed I am.  In my hopeless state, I didn't even see a point in living.  I feel like my eyes have been opened and I can see more clearly.  Everything in life isn't going to be pretty or easy.  It may be hard every day for the rest of my life.  What has to change is my perspective.

Here is what I have to live for.   Here is who I hope for....

Where does my hope come from???

My hope comes from the Lord.

He is the one who held my head above water, while I have felt about to drown this last year.   He is the one who placed stubborn and encouraging friends in my life who refuse to give up on me.  He is the one who extends me the grace I don't deserve, and reminds me to do the same with my family.  He is the one I am turning to, focusing on, now.  My hope comes from the Lord, and I hope one day soon my life brings Him glory.

It is happening. 


Thursday, January 1, 2015


There it is.  My constant fear, my constant nemesis if you will.  It haunts me in every area of my life. The little voice in the back of my head telling me that if it isn't perfect, it is failure.

Another year, barely blogged....
Another year struggling in homeschool...
Another year constantly working to change things in my marriage...
Another year, still fat and completely insecure...
Another year feeling like I am ruining my children....
Another year, barely holding on to my faith....

What is this?
It is like a wall.  Each perceived failure becomes a brick in this wall that blocks my view of what great things are happening in my life.  It's so much more than having blinders to the positive things, it is not being able to see them at all!  All I can seem to see these days is the shortcomings.  Life is so much more than that.  We are so much more than the sum of things we don't excel at.  We don't have to be perfect all the time.  We can't!

Yeah, I didn't blog this year.  I missed the last 10 years as well.  No one is just DYING to know what is going on in our lives.  It is okay if I keep my ramblings to myself for a year or two (or ten), right?  I spent more time playing games (am I the only one addicted to Words with Friends?) with my husband online.  That is what I needed.  We had fun.  I don't regret not focusing on blogging.  I may actually have failed at that, but good came out of it.

The never ending homeschool struggle.  Is there a book I read somewhere that made me think this would ever be easy?  Being responsible for the education of four very different children is a lot of work.  It is thankless work.  They have the memories of parakeets.  They get that from me.  Do I double fail because of that?  What I struggled to see was that J has an 'A' in math.  My son, who used to cry every day for years about math, is succeeding.  M is finally (FREAKING FINALLY) remembering his parts of speech.  Who knew he needed hands on reinforcements.  Homemade games work wonders!  N is actually comprehending what he reads and listens to.  Take that Colin Powell Preschool special ed department.  Not only can he "function like a typical person," but he is thriving.  A is taking off and finding her passions.  She kicked dyslexia's butt and spends hours and hours READING.  They are finding such huge successes.  The day-to-day stuff is tough and we all get frustrated, but those things are huge... and that isn't even all of the major stuff they have accomplished.

I didn't expect to be married right now.  I thought for sure, this was the year we would finally give in. The fact that we are still together, and that we are even stronger says an awful lot about the things I couldn't see in my marriage.  There is not failure there.  It feels that way sometimes.  I am not the dream wife I have in my head.  I still haven't tricked him into saying  convinced him to say heard the three words I have longed to hear from my husband for more than 13 years.... "you are beautiful"   My marital unicorn.  I want to be whatever my husband thinks is beautiful.  I am not. I may never be.  There will always be that broken hole in my heart longing for those words to be spoken sincerely.  I am working.  I am working to become what I think he wants me to be.  Someday....  Maybe everything I see over the wall still points to failing as a wife, but not failing in doing this marriage thing.  Is that possible?

My children.  They are amazing.  They deserve better.  That is an area I am constantly failing.  There is no way to master this whole being a mother thing.  There are always one million ways to approach any situation.  I could have reacted differently to one situation, or been more proactive in another.  I say hurtful things or enable helplessness.  Moment by moment, I have to get on my tip toes to see over that dang wall and peek at the good things they learn from me.  They are just the best people.  If you haven't met them, you will someday.  They are going to change our world.

Fat.  Fat and insecure.  That is a failing duo of dysfunction.  I have a beach body coach.  I have a plan.  I have more determination than ever.  I am failing, but I WILL NOT always be.

It is hard to see the good in so many complicated areas of our lives.  I know I am not the only person who struggled in 2014.  There are many, many reasons I chose the word of the year that I did.  My word is FORWARD.  I don't want to look back.  I want to keep moving forward.  I want to set better goals and never stop working to accomplish those goals.  This is not the year for quitting anything.  I have some things going on in my life that make me want to just lock myself in my room and cry all day.  I absolutely will not let myself get to that point this year.  This is not a year to be depressed.  This is not a year to be thinking dark thoughts.  This is not a year to dwell on the negatives.  This is a year to move FORWARD.

It doesn't matter how much I failed or didn't fail in 2014.  I am moving FORWARD in 2015, and nothing can stop me.

Won't you join me in my plan to make 2015 a year of FORWARD momentum?

Thank you for putting up with me.

Mandy #forward15