Getting to the Top of the Mountain

This year we went to Chattanooga for our vacation.  I experienced a pretty massive panic attack at a cave on the first day.  You can read about it here. We left the cave and drove 4 hours to our hotel in Chattanooga.  We arrived at 11 p.m.  Brett went inside to check in.  15 minutes passed.  What in the world is taking so long?  He came out and said the hotel had canceled our reservations.  Really?  They had one room left if we wanted it.  Brett didn’t have a good feeling about the place.  But he took the room because it was late and he had 5 exhausted females he was trying to keep happy.  Bless his heart.

The room was awful.  I’ve always said I can stay anywhere for one night.  But this was pushing it. TripAdvisor had steered us wrong on this place.  I went down to the front desk and made one simple request.  My request was denied.  I was mad and the lady at the front desk knew I was mad. TripAdvisor will be getting a negative review from me about this place.  You can count on that.  We were supposed to stay for 2 nights.  There was no way I was staying 2 nights. I grabbed my iPad and I started searching for another hotel.  I found one just up the road that had rooms available. Brett called and made a reservation for the next night.  It can’t be worse than this place.  I was still awake at 2 a.m.

The next day we went to the Tennessee Aquarium.  Mikayla and Hope love animals so we knew it would be a fun place to take them.  As soon as we entered the building Brett noticed the sign beside the escalator.  You can’t use the escalator if you’re wearing crocs.  Great.  The girls have their crocs on since I accidentally brought 2 right tennis shoes for Hope.   We took them to the restroom and then we got on the elevator and headed to the 4th floor.

The girls were excited when they got to pet the stingrays.  We stayed for a long time since Mikayla and Hope were enjoying it so much.  Then we went to the 3rd floor.  We’d only been there for a few minutes when one of the girls yelled that she needed the bathroom.  We couldn’t find a restroom anywhere.  Brett asked an employee and she said there weren’t any restrooms on the 3rd floor.  We’d have to go to the 2nd or 4th floor. Back to the elevator we go.  Our girls go to the bathroom frequently.  When they’re in an unfamiliar place they get anxious and they go even more frequently.  It makes traveling a lot of fun.  At one point I had a little sweetheart crying on the 3rd floor and saying she was going to wet her pants.  I grabbed her and her croc covered feet and we jumped on the escalator.  There was no time for the elevator.  I’m normally a rule follower but during a bathroom emergency all rules can fly out the window.

We enjoyed the aquarium but we spent entirely too much time in the restroom.  Mikayla and Hope eventually started fighting with each other and it became very stressful.  Clearly it was time to leave.  We went to the gift shop so the girls could buy a souvenir.  It was taking forever for Mikayla and Hope to pick something out so Taylor and I decided to walk up the street and look at another gift shop.  When we were done I called Brett to tell him that we would meet him at the van.  He told me he was at the check out and the credit card was denied.  What?  You’ve got to be kidding me.  He asked me to bring some cash in so he could pay.  I paid the cashier while Brett was on the phone with the credit card company.  Then we went to the van.

The man from the credit card company told Brett that our credit card was deactivated because of a fraud attempt.  Brett was on hold forever while the man checked into why it was deactivated.  The more minutes that passed the more frustrated I became.   We’re not going to be able to pay for our hotel if our credit card is deactivated.  I totally flipped out and I told Brett we just needed to go home.  He agreed that we might have to.  Finally the man from the credit card company came back on the line.  The hotel from the night before had charged us 3 times for our room.  Now why doesn’t that surprise me?  They reactivated our card.  The man told Brett he needed to go back to the hotel and get it straightened out.  He said to call him back if they wouldn’t cooperate and he would take care of it for us.

Brett dropped us off at our new hotel.  I was scared to open the door.  What if this place is as bad as the last place?  We opened the door and I was relieved to find out that the place was very nice and super clean. Hallelujah! Maybe I’ll get some sleep tonight.  Brett went and talked to the first hotel and they said it would be straightened out by morning.  I certainly hope so.  We were exhausted and didn’t feel like going out for supper.  Brett and Taylor ran and got milkshakes.  Yes.  I fed my kids milkshakes for supper.  And they liked it.  I collapsed into bed.   This was definitely not how I had pictured vacation.  I hope our trip tomorrow to Lookout Mountain will be relaxing and fun.

As soon as Brett opened his eyes the next morning he called the credit card company.  They told him the hotel had credited back the 2 charges that we didn’t owe.  Phew!  Glad that’s off our minds.  We ate breakfast and headed to Lookout Mountain.  It felt relaxing as we walked the trails.   It was a very hot day but Mikayla and Hope didn’t seem to mind the heat.

The view from the top of Lookout Mountain was amazing.  It was definitely the highlight of our vacation. We could see 7 states from the top of the mountain.  We could hear a waterfall.  There was relaxing music playing.  Mikayla and Hope were happy because they got to hug Rocky the Gnome. What more could we ask for?

We left the top of the mountain and continued our way along the trails.  I was feeling totally relaxed and happy.  It finally felt like we were on vacation. And then it happened.

We arrived at Fat Man Squeeze.  You’ve got to be kidding me!  I didn’t want to see another Fat Man’s anything on this trip.  First it was Fat Man’s Misery at Mammoth Cave.  And now this?  Good grief.  Can’t a claustrophobic woman catch a break while she’s on vacation?  They really need to warn people about these things before they buy a ticket.  I took a deep breath and away I went into Fat Man Squeeze.

Ok.  That wasn’t bad.  Fat Man Squeeze was a breeze compared to Fat Man’s Misery.   I didn’t sweat my clothes through and my heart never started racing.  I’d been to the top of the mountain and I’d conquered Fat Man Squeeze.  This 3rd day of vacation was pretty amazing.

We finished our tour and we all agreed we would love to visit again.  We drove back down the mountain and started looking for a place to eat lunch. And then suddenly one of our sweethearts got that look in her eye.  And I knew what was about to happen.  I grabbed the bucket and got it under her chin right before the vomit started flying out of her.  I might be the gal who packs 2 right shoes for her kid.  But I didn’t forget the puke buckets.

Something didn’t feel quite right.  Looks like my little sweetheart’s aim was a little off.  I could feel the vomit running down my hand and collecting under my wedding ring.  Ugh.  I suddenly was no longer hungry for lunch.  We pulled into the Hickory Pit Bar-B-Que restaurant parking lot, deposited our mountain sickness into a trash can, and then walked into the restaurant.  I convinced my stomach that it needed to let me eat something.  It was going to be a long ride home if I didn’t.  The food was amazing.  TripAdvisor had got this one right.  We finished our meals and started our trip home.

The trip home was uneventful until we were an hour from home.  And then the sweethearts started freaking out.   They were exhausted.  She knocked her french fries on the floor.  And then she knocked her hamburger on the floor.  And then there was a whole lot of screaming.  Are we ever going to get home? There’s no place like home.  There’s no place like home.  I never want to go on vacation again.

I crawled into bed and I felt angry.  That was not the vacation that I’d hoped for.  I’d experienced the worst panic attack of my life.  Our hotel reservations had been cancelled.  Our credit card was deactivated.  And the minor issues of mismatched shoes, frequent restroom visits, elevators instead of escalators, and vomit weren’t fun either.  Overall our vacation was just really disappointing.  In my frustration I asked God “What was that vacation all about, anyway?  Why did all of those things happen? Why couldn’t our vacation be relaxing?”

He answered my prayer immediately.  He said If you’d given up and went home you wouldn’t have made it to the top of the mountain. Wow.  I hadn’t thought of that.  Thank you, God for wrapping up this vacation with a valuable life lesson.  2017 has been an extremely difficult year. We had to make several really tough decisions one right after another.  It’s been exhausting. I’ve had a few disappointments that were difficult to get through.  And I’ve been battling some physical issues in the midst of everything else. Sometimes it’s really hard to get out of bed and face the day. Honestly, there have been days when my family went to church and I stayed in bed feeling sorry for myself.  I’ve felt like giving up at least a million times.  So what does God do to teach me to be an overcomer?  He takes me to the top of a mountain.

This vacation wasn’t about relaxing.  This vacation was about learning to overcome some stuff.  The biggest thing I had to overcome was my this is too hard, let’s just go home attitude.  If my family had listened to me the Chattanooga vacation of 2017 would be remembered as the year that we gave up and went home. But it will be remembered as the year we made it to the top of the mountain.  I was talking to Taylor about our vacation after we got home.  I told her I was sorry it wasn’t the best vacation we’d ever had.  She said “It had its moments of not being easy.  But Lookout Mountain was worth it.”  I want to be like Taylor when I grow up.  The valleys of life make us appreciate the mountaintops more.

Next time I feel like giving up on life I’m pretty sure God will say: Remember Lookout Mountain?  If you’d given up and went home you wouldn’t have made it to the top of the mountain.  Don’t give up now either. This is the valley that you’re in right now.  You have to keep going if you want to get to the top of the mountain.  

Caves, Claustrophobia, and Courage

Chattanooga was our vacation destination this year.  We decided to stop at Mammoth Cave on the way to Chattanooga.  Our oldest daughter loves caves.  I don’t like caves but I love my daughter.  So I was happy to stop at the cave for her.  We parked and changed from our crocs and sandals into our tennis shoes.  I packed a pair of gray tennis shoes for Mikayla and a pair of bright yellow tennis shoes for Hope.  Taylor was helping Hope put her shoes on and discovered I’d made a terrible mistake.  I packed 2 right shoes for Hope.  That’s a twin mom problem I hadn’t anticipated happening on this trip.  Great.  Hope’s going to have to wear her crocs in the cave.  When your child has coordination disorder wearing crocs in a cave doesn’t sound like a good idea.  But we had no choice.  I was irritated because I’d made such a stupid mistake.

We read about the cave tours on the website and we decided to take the Historic tour.  We gathered under the pavilion and the ranger began to describe what the cave tour would be like.  He said we would be going through Fat Man’s Misery.  He looked around and said all of us could physically fit through Fat Man’s Misery.  It’s only in your mind if you can’t get through Fat Man’s Misery.  Fat Man’s Misery?  They didn’t say anything about Fat Man’s Misery on the website!  My husband was standing across the way looking at me.  I mouthed the words “I don’t wanna do this!”  He knew exactly why I didn’t want to do this.

I had a flashback to 1989.  Brett and I were walking some trails at a national forest.  We arrived at a place called Fat Man’s Squeeze.  I was 19 years old and weighed 114 lbs.  Fat Man’s Squeeze should be a breeze.  We started to make our way through Fat Man’s Squeeze and I quickly decided this was not a fun experience.  We were in the middle of a long line that suddenly stopped.  I was trapped in Fat Man’s Squeeze and I felt like I couldn’t breathe.  My heart was racing and I was sweating profusely.  I turned around and looked at Brett.  The look of horror on my face signaled to him that something was wrong.   I’d just discovered that I’m claustrophobic.  He grabbed my hand and told me it was going to be ok.  The line finally started moving again. I survived Fat Man’s Squeeze but vowed I would never go through it again.  And I haven’t.

So here we are in 2017 and a nice ranger just told me I will be going through Fat Man’s Misery.  Fat Man’s Misery sounds a lot worse than Fat Man’s Squeeze.  This is not going to be fun.  The ranger continued to explain what we’d be seeing inside of the cave.  But my mind was racing.  Fat Man’s Misery.  Fat Man’s Misery.  I’m gonna have to go through Fat Man’s Misery?  I just really can’t believe this.  Why didn’t they tell me this before I bought a ticket?  Ok.  Pull yourself together.  You don’t want your girls to know you’re a chicken.  You can do this.

I had trouble enjoying the tour because the fear of Fat Man’s Misery was hanging over my head.  An hour into the tour we finally arrived at Fat Man’s Misery.  The line was moving much slower as people began to enter.  I started sweating profusely as I stood in the 52 degree temperature waiting for my turn to squeeze through the misery before me.  At home I’m freezing if the air conditioning is on 75.  Fear can do really weird things to a person.

I had the words to the hymn I Have Decided to Follow Jesus rolling around in my head.  I didn’t think the words “Though none go with me, still I will follow” fit this particular situation.  I was relieved that some were going with me and that I could follow them.  Sometimes it’s just not good to be by yourself.  And this was one of those times.  There was a man in front of me who was twice as big as I am.  If he can make it through this misery I can make it through this misery too.  God, thank you for putting him in front of me.  The words in the hymn also say  “No turning back.  No turning back” Ain’t that the truth.  I wanted more than anything to run the other direction.  I do not want to do this.  There’s no way out of this situation except through.  No turning back.  No turning back.  Help me Jesus.

With my heart racing and sweat dripping down my back I entered Fat Man’s Misery.  I grabbed Hope’s hand and my uncoordinated sweetheart wearing her crocs instead of her tennis shoes led me through.  We had to squeeze through tight places while also making sure we didn’t bump our heads.  There was one place that we had to climb up.  It was horrible.  Absolutely horrible.  Hope was my guide.  She was fearless.  She never let go of my hand.  We made it through Fat Man’s Misery.  The best part of the cave tour was the moment that I stepped from the 52 degree temperature back out into the 100 degree temperature.  I’ve never been so excited to see sunlight in my life.

As we walked back to the visitor’s center I made a decision.  I’ll never go back in a cave.  Ever.  If my family wants to visit a cave in the future I will sit in the visitor’s center and read a book.  I wish this cave story had a better ending.  I wish I could say that I was courageous and that I overcame my fear.  But I didn’t.  I went through Fat Man’s Misery simply because I had no other choice.  Sometimes life’s like that.  We get up and keep going because we simply have no other choice.  We often have to squeeze through some pretty tight places.  Places where we don’t want to be.  It isn’t always comfortable or fun.  But the good news is that we don’t have to do it alone.  I had a cute 12-year-old who reached out her hand and she took my hand. She helped me through the darkness.  I’m glad the darkness didn’t last forever.  At the end of the darkness there was light.  Glorious light that filled me with joy.  I could finally breathe again.  And it felt good.

Pedaling to Change the World

On a Wednesday night last fall my life changed.  I wasn’t planning on going to church that night.  I had a really bad headache so I had decided to stay home.  But then my friend, Mona, posted on Facebook that she was speaking during the service.  She mentioned her topic for the evening and it was something that I was struggling with.  So I took some pain medicine, got the girls ready, and we went to church.

Mona started the service by showing slides from her recent mission trip to Kakemega, Kenya.  She had visited a school for kids with special needs that was called the Daisy School.  As I watched each picture flash across the screen something happened to me.  I started crying.  That might not sound like a big deal.  But it was.  At the time I was battling the worst anxiety of my life.  I couldn’t seem to feel anything anymore and I hadn’t been able to cry. Before anxiety invaded my life I cried very easily.  But I couldn’t remember the last time that I’d cried.  As I saw the pictures of the kids from the Daisy School the tears came like a flood.

I was overwhelmed with emotion.  These kids don’t have much of anything.  I began to realize how much my family has.  Yes, two of our girls have special needs.  And it can be really, really hard at times.  But as I looked at these pictures I realized that I don’t even begin to know what hard is.  I was suddenly faced with the realization that my husband and I can give our girls everything that they need.   And one of the reasons we are able to do that may be just simply because we were born in the United States and we are able to raise our family here.  But what if we were in Kenya?  What if we couldn’t take care of our girls?  That’s a kind of hard that my mind can’t even comprehend.

Mona moved on from the Daisy School presentation into the topic she was speaking on for the evening.   I don’t remember what she talked about because I couldn’t stop thinking about the Daisy School.  I went home and I couldn’t stop thinking about the Daisy School.  I’ve never had a desire to go on a mission trip.  And I still don’t have any desire to go on a mission trip.  But as I sat in church on this night in 2016 God dropped a desire in my heart to help the Daisy School.  I didn’t know how we were going to do it but I believed that God would show me.

At the end of April I still didn’t know what we were supposed to do to raise money for the Daisy School.  Mona was planning her trip to Kenya and I asked her when she would be leaving.  She said June 19th.  June 19th!  That’s less than 2 months away.  We’re running out of time!  I googled fundraiser ideas and nothing felt right.  I began to panic because I only had the month of May left to do anything.  And suddenly the answer came.

I woke up on April 26th at 3:00 in the morning with a thought.  Use the bicycles your girls were blessed with to bless others.   I believe it was God speaking to me.  I had racked my brain for months trying to figure out what to do.  But then in the still of the night the answer came.

Last spring a wonderful organization gave Mikayla and Hope adaptive bicycles. Our girls were 11 years old and I’d never seen them ride a bicycle. Along came these amazing people who gave them bikes free of charge.  My dream to see my girls ride a bike was fulfilled.  And it was because someone saw a need and did something about it.  And now I saw a need in Kenya and I needed to do something about it.

On April 29th I posted on Facebook that Mikayla and Hope were having a fundraiser to bless the Daisy School.  For a $5 donation the girls will ride their bikes for 15 minutes. We made a commitment that they would ride their bikes every day in May.  The very next day at church 4 people gave me donations.  I began to find checks in my mailbox.  And I realized that God was doing something really special.  And He had chosen my girls to be a part of something really big.

Mikayla has pedaled every single day in May.  Hope missed 2 days because she came down with a stomach virus.  I couldn’t be more proud of my girls. Hope was always exhausted after a day of school and a long bus ride home but she still rode her bike for at least 15 minutes.  She even rode on the night that she had torn her pants and scraped her knee up at school.  Most days Mikayla rode for 30 minutes and sometimes for as much as 45 minutes.  We have 9 more days until the fundraiser is over.  On June 1st I will announce how much money will be going to the Daisy School.  I’m excited about what God has done and what He will do in this final week of our fundraising efforts.

I’m thankful for this opportunity to touch Kenya even though our family can’t physically go there. I’m thankful for people like Mona who have a heart to go to other nations and love others like Jesus loves.  I’m thankful for everyone who has given me a donation and shared in this vision of helping the Daisy School.  And I’m thankful that on that night in 2016 I didn’t let a headache stop me from going to church.  God had a plan for our family and the Daisy School.  I’m humbled to be a part of what He’s doing in Kenya.  And I’m blessed to daily watch our girls pedaling to change the world.

Top Posts of 2016

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Can you believe it’s the last day of 2016?  Thank you for following my family’s journey this year.  Here are the top 5 posts for 2016.

#5  Sensory Processing Disorder: A Day at the Dentist

I still cringe when I think about Mikayla and Hope’s visit to the dentist in July.  I was embarrassed and I felt like a horrible mom.  But then I found a note in my mailbox from the ladies at the dentist’s office.  They didn’t look at me and see a bad mom.  They looked at me and they saw a good mom having a bad day.  It’s no surprise that this post would resonate with my readers.  I think we often listen to and believe the lie that we’re bad moms. But the truth is that we’re good moms just having a bad day.

#4  Putting My Trash Out for Everyone to See

I didn’t want to write this post.  I put off writing about it for months because I didn’t want everyone to know that I struggle with anxiety.  But then one day as I was cleaning the basement I felt that it was time to write about it.  So I hit publish and here it is at #4 for the year.

#3  The Case of the Missing Coats

This post makes me look a bit foolish.  I ran all over our church looking for coats that were still in our van.  But God used my foolish moment to lead me to the right person at the right time.  I learned a valuable lesson.  Searching for the answers to our girls futures is much like searching for their missing coats.   I ran all over the church trying to find their coats but I didn’t find them.  It was when I stopped and asked God for His help that the coats were found.  I can run all over this earth searching for services, therapists, and schools for our girls and not find them.  But if I just stop and ask God to help me He will answer.

#2  Putting the Pieces Back Together Again

This post was about my husband fixing our washer for $15.  God reminded me that He wants to fix those areas of our life that are broken.  Sometimes a part of our life will work for years and then it will suddenly no longer work as well as it used to.  Homeschooling was a piece of our life that was no longer working for Mikayla and Hope.  We decided to enroll them in public school and it was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made

And the top read post in 2016 was:

#1  The Night Her World Fell Apart

This post was about Mikayla processing the disappointment of Grandpa’s birthday party being canceled.  She experienced her first ugly cry.  It was a moment that broke my heart but yet it made me happy at the same time.  Because once upon a time our girls didn’t show emotion.  We crawled into bed and I just sat and listened to Mikayla and Hope share with me what things are most important to them.  This moment taught me to slow down, listen, and savor the moments with our girls.

Happy New Year!

Putting My Trash Out For Everyone To See

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I was cleaning the basement and I found a few boxes that needed to be thrown away.  I tossed them onto the ever-growing pile of boxes that’s been in our basement for longer than I care to admit.  As I tossed the last box on the pile I decided it was time to carry them upstairs and get rid of them.  If they are hiding in the basement I’ll never get rid of them.  It was too windy to burn them.  There was no way they would all fit in the trash can for the next trash pickup.  So I decided to put them on the front porch.  If I’m forced to look at them every time I drive up the driveway then I’ll actually get rid of them.  I’ll just add a few of them to the trash each week until they’re gone.

I like things to be neat and tidy so I cringed as I put the boxes out on the front porch.  I was putting my trash out for everyone to see.  And I’m feeling the same way right now as I type these words.  It makes me uncomfortable when I think about everyone knowing what I’m going through.  I’m putting my trash out for everyone to see. Sometimes we have to drag our problems out of the basement so that we’ll actually deal with them.  When we’re forced to look at them we have a greater chance of getting rid of them.  I risk being judged.  But I choose to tell my story anyway because my story matters.  My story may look a lot like your story.  I hope it helps you to know that you’re not alone.  Your story may look nothing like mine but I pray that the words I’m getting ready to share will touch your heart in some way.  I’m glad you’re here to join me in my story.

Anxiety.  I really hate that word.  I hate the way that it makes me feel.  It slowly started creeping into my life 2 years ago.   I tried to ignore it.  Then I prayed for God to take it away.  I looked up scriptures about anxiety and I told myself to be anxious for nothing (Philippians 4:6-7).  I went forward at church and had people pray for me. And yet it continued to torment me every single day.   I was having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.   I was experiencing fatigue that was so severe that walking across the house was difficult.   My mind would frequently go blank.  I couldn’t concentrate and I was extremely irritable. Every day I had moments when I felt  like I couldn’t breathe.  I lived like this for a year.  I finally decided it was time to call the doctor.  Tomorrow.  I’ll call the doctor tomorrow.

That evening a picture came across my facebook newsfeed. The top half of the picture was a pill bottle and it said “What they say you need”.  The bottom half was a picture of a Bible and it said “What you really need”.  The picture sent a message that was loud and clear.  If you’re a Christian then all you have to do is read the Bible and your anxiety will go away.  As I sat on my bed and continued to look at that picture I was reminded of the voices from the past.  The voices that said if you’re depressed or have anxiety then you need to pray more and read more.  Christians aren’t supposed to have anxiety.  If you go to the doctor for medication then you aren’t trusting God to heal you.  I allowed that picture to condemn me.  As I fell asleep that night condemnation covered me like a blanket.   The next morning I didn’t call the doctor.  I chose to continue suffering.

As 2016 unfolded I believed that this year was going to be a better year.  But then a series of events took place that added a great deal of stress to our life.  Our insurance company quit paying for the girls therapies.   We had to begin the process of finding a way for the girls to receive their therapies.  We decided to stop homeschooling and enroll the girls in public school.  I attended several meetings to set up their IEP for this school year.  The girls behavior problems escalated and we decided to attend PCIT (Parent-child interaction therapy).   I spent 10 hours filling out paperwork for our family to start the PCIT.  I jumped through all of the hoops to get us on their schedule only to find out we would have to wait 8 months for our first appointment.  I secretly wondered if our family would survive the long wait. I was relieved when everything was in place for the PCIT and for the girls to start school in the fall. I finally felt like I could rest and that my life was going to get better. But it didn’t.

I started having panic attacks. They would come in the middle of the night, at a graduation ceremony, or even at church. I found myself fleeing from social situations because my heart was pounding and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I would drop the girls off at their class at church, go sit in the sanctuary, and then flee from the room as soon as the worship music started. The sounds of the instruments and the crowd were just too much for me to handle. I didn’t go to church for 3 weeks. Then one morning I woke up, took a shower, and went back to bed because the fatigue was so severe. I did this 3 days in a row. On the third day Brett came into the bedroom and he sat down beside me.  He told me that he loved me and he couldn’t stand to see me like this. He asked me to go to the doctor.  I agreed to go because it was clear that the anxiety was no longer just affecting me. It was affecting my entire family.  The next morning I called the doctor and made an appointment.

As I told the nurse my symptoms she smiled and she told me that I’m not alone.   The physician’s assistant also told me that I’m not alone.   As I walked out of the doctor’s office I felt foolish.   I waited 2 years to see a doctor.   I’d let the anxiety get so bad that I couldn’t even get out of bed.  I’d allowed the fear of what people would think of me become more important than my health and my family.  And I regret it.

I’ve been taking anxiety medication for 4 months.   I’m finally able to sleep and fatigue no longer torments me.  I still have moments each day when I feel like I can’t breathe.  And I’m still irritable.  Ask my sweet husband.    So even though I’m on medication I still have some anxiety symptoms.  The boxes on our front porch didn’t disappear overnight and neither has my anxiety.  But each week a few boxes disappear and the pile gets smaller.  I trust that as time passes my anxiety symptoms will decrease and hopefully one day they will disappear.  But right now I recognize and celebrate each victory along the way.  Last Sunday was a victory.  Brett patted my thigh during the sermon.  He could tell I was having a hard time and he was telling me he was proud of me for coming to church and not fleeing from the sanctuary.  I’m learning that victory isn’t just at the end of the race.  But it’s in each step that you take from the beginning to the end.

God heals.  I know that with all of my heart.  But He doesn’t always choose to heal in the way that we want Him to.  I wanted my healing to come in an instant.  I pray and then God makes all of my problems go away.  Isn’t that what we all want?  But it’s not always what God thinks is best for us.  Sometimes God chooses to walk us through our problems instead of around them.  God is choosing to walk me through this one step at a time instead of instantly delivering me from it.   I will learn lessons through the journey that I wouldn’t have learned if I’d been delivered from it.

I don’t understand anxiety.  It knocked me down like a freight train during a time when I felt like things were finally falling into place for our family.  I wasn’t sitting around worrying.  I was hopeful for the future.  But anxiety knocked me down anyway.  11 years ago I became mom to 2 little sweethearts who have disabilities.  And I now understand something that I never understood before.  People who experience anxiety need to be shown grace instead of judgment.  We have no idea how many meltdowns a mom and dad have watched their child have that day.  Or what the test results said.  Or how many times a mom has heard her child say the same phrase over and over again.  Or what kind of battle took place when a child had to put his clothes on.  Or if the mom and dad we see at the store have been sitting beside their daughter’s hospital bed wondering if she’s going to live or die.  There are so many people in this world going through some really hard stuff.  So let’s pause and think before we hit the share button on facebook.  Let’s make sure that we’re showing people grace instead of judgment.

Anxiety Is Not My Friend

I’m not gonna lie.  The last couple of weeks have been rough.  Anxiety is real.  It’s like an unwelcome guest who just won’t leave no matter how much I want it to.  I drop kick it out the front door and then it sneaks in the backdoor.  After a phone call with our insurance company it latched onto me like a parasite.  And it followed me to bed Monday night and kept me company until 4 a.m. Anxiety is not my friend.

It all started a few weeks ago when it snowed.   Snow makes Mikayla feel anxious.  She deals with her anxiety by following me around all day and talking nonstop.  I began to experience a fair amount of anxiety after spending 4 days with my chatty mini-me shadow.  Wednesday came, the roads were clear, and we headed to church.  I took the girls to their class and I went into the worship service thinking that I would be able to relax and regroup.

We were halfway through the first song and I began to feel claustrophobic.  The drums that have never bothered me before were making my chest pound.  I grabbed my purse, bolted out of the sanctuary, and ran into the restroom.  And then it happened.  The worst ugly cry I’ve ever experienced in my entire life came pouring out of me. As I began to pull myself together the door opened and my friend was suddenly by my side.  She has a lot of experience working with special needs adults.  She listened as I shared what was bothering me and she encouraged me.  And then she said 3 words that sent me over the edge.  She said “I get it.”  As soon as those words were out of her mouth I lost it.  I asked her “Do you get it?  Do either of your children have anything wrong with them? Do you deal with special needs 24 hours a day without a break? Do you have to worry about if your kids will ever leave home?”  As soon as I spit out the last word I wished I could take it all back.  I usually just think those things when people tell me they understand.  I’ve never actually said them to anyone.  But it happened.  I was glad that it happened with a friend who will continue to love me even when I’m unlovable.

Hope had a really bad day at church last Sunday.   Something wasn’t right even before she went to class.  But I was hoping that she would settle down and enjoy class.  I got a negative report from our frazzled friend you was helping Hope during class.  I was feeling as if everything was spiraling out of control.  Things I thought the girls had finally overcome were coming back to haunt us once again.  I was so discouraged.

Our insurance company denied a couple of medical claims that we thought they would pay.  Totally frustrating.  And our insurance is also in the process of reviewing the medical necessity of our girls therapies.  A couple of the therapists met with me to discuss what we need to do if the insurance decides to stop paying for the girls therapies.  It wasn’t an easy conversation.  I didn’t sleep that night because of all of the questions racing through my mind.  What if they quit paying for therapies? What are we going to do then?  How can this be happening?  The insurance will let us know their decision by February 19th.  And so we wait.

So I’m totally stressed out and I look at the calendar.  A mammogram on the 27th?  That should help my anxiety, right?  Oh joy.  I didn’t want to reschedule it so I go to the appointment.  She calls me in and hands me the gown.  She tells me the gown opens in the front.  If you’re wearing deodorant you need to use a wipe to remove it for the test.  Put your clothes in a locker.  Keep your purse with you.  Sit in the waiting area and we’ll call you soon.   Yes.  I know all of this.  I’ve done it before.  But thank you.

I’m reading my book and waiting for them to call my name.  And then I suddenly realize that I didn’t remove my deodorant.  How in the world did I forget to do that? She even told me to do it.  So I ran to one of the dressing rooms and removed my deodorant.  I got back before they called my name.  After the test was over I went into one of the dressing rooms, put my purse on the chair, and then felt like a complete idiot.  It’s kinda hard to put your clothes back on when you forget to stop at the locker and get your clothes.  So I sneak out of the dressing room, grab my clothes, sneak back in the dressing room, and get dressed.  Yep.  There’s nothing wrong with me.  Other than I don’t function well on 8 hours of sleep in 2 days time.  It’s really nothing that a 72 hour nap wouldn’t cure.

I went to church after I got home from my appointment even though I didn’t feel like it.  I didn’t have a full-blown ugly cry in the restroom.  That’s progress.  As we stood for the closing prayer a friend came up to me.  She hugged me and she handed me a paper.

Paper from Amanda

 

So much truth that I needed to hear while I’m in the middle of my current mess.  The Lord will direct our steps.  If we lose insurance coverage for the girls therapies He will direct our steps.  He cares about every little detail of our lives.  He cares about our girls behavior.  He cares about my behavior.  He cares about how much sleep I get or don’t get.  He cares about the anxiety that I carry.  He wants me to give my burdens to Him and He will take care of me.  (Psalm 55:22)  It seems as if I’ve stumbled a million times in the last few weeks.  Yet He still holds my hand and I know that He will never let go.