Navigating marriage, motherhood, a child with special needs, work, a social life, and life's ups and downs with faith intact.
Ada & Augustus decorating eggs at their grandparent’s house for Easter.
We started our Easter festivities by decorating and dying hard boiled eggs at my parent’s house. Ada has the process down and speeds through her decorating. Augustus usually has little interest in the process and would prefer to eat the eggs; shell and all. While he did try to take a few bites, I was very proud of him, as he sat on his dad’s lap and later my lap and really paid attention and even drew on some eggs himself.
After decorating, they (we) got to find our Easter baskets from Grandma & Grandpa hidden throughout the house.
The kids received lots of candy, some outfits, shoes, and lots of other goodies. Ada’s favorite is always the candy. She only spilled her box of nerds twice. Ugh. Augustus’ favorites were probably the bubbles and a light up ball. (We work with bubbles a lot in speech therapy.)
Ada & Augustus popping bubbles at their grandparent’s house.
Augustus was happy and awake and ready to take on the day when I woke up Easter morning. He always wakes up happy, and I love that.
Now, Ada is a completely different story. First of all, I had to wake her up. She has been going through a phase with sleep. She will sleep very well a few nights in a row, and then for whatever reason, will fight sleep, tooth and nail, for a few nights. She fell asleep very late Saturday night, so wake up this morning was not easy.
Ada is always excited about church, and still was this morning, but she was weepy about everything. She REFUSED to wear her pretty Easter dress from grandma, or any dress for that matter. She wanted a shirt “with just one thing on it”. Okay… Dresses are “too itchy”. She could not be forced, bribed, or convinced in any manner, and we were out of time. “Pick your battles.”, as they say. She cried because her dad offered her some money to take to church for the collection plate. She cried because her dad asked her if he should try to catch the Easter Bunny for her while she was at church so she could see him. A morning of tears all around. Gah!
The United Church in Philip, SD, Easter Sunday 2019.
Grandma, my sister, and my sister’s daughter picked us up for church. It was a great sermon, and the church was beautifully decorated. Ada was tired and very clingy. Half of the sermon I was trying to hold both kids. Eventually, Gus migrated over to grandma for the latter half of the service. He was shoeless. They fell off. Oh well.
Augustus at church.
As grandma & Augustus arrived at the table to take communion, Augustus decided to grab the remaining half loaf of bread off of the table and attempt to eat it. Thankfully, Aunt Emily’s reflexes were top notch, and she got it from him before he took a bite. (Emily was behind grandma & Gus and I was behind grandma & Gus and Emily & Harley.) Gus was mad, he wanted some bread. I didn’t pack a snack, either. Normally I do! Grandma got him calmed down, and he was good other than getting a little wild towards the end of service and giggling up a storm.
Grandma, Ada, and Harley at church.
When we got out of the car to head inside the house, one of Augustus’ shoes fell off again. The moment we got into the house and up the stairs he faceplanted. He hit the ground hard with a very loud “thud” there was blood on the floor when I picked him up. He had a bad nosebleed. He got blood all over his outfit and me and himself and the floor. My poor boy! Of course, the Easter Bunny had stopped by while we were at church, and Ada could see eggs he had hidden. So, we had to slow her down and have her wait until Gus was done bleeding and feeling better. It was stressful, and I may have shed a few tears myself from the stress and because I was being selfish and feeling bad for myself because Gus doesn’t enjoy the usual festivities and excitement of holidays… Pity party over!
Gus wanted to calm down and relax and watch TV. Ada went and found the eggs the Easter Bunny hid, as well as her Easter basket.
We gave Gus his Easter basket, which had a soccer ball, and he was VERY excited about that ball.
Augustus and his new soccer ball.
Ada was all about the candy!
Ada and her M&Ms in her “not itchy dress” and shirt “with only one thing on it”.
Holla – as in we do a lot of “Holla!” and “Hello!” catching up with family and friends; and daze – as the hustle and bustle of the season seems to fly by while we are in a daze.
Truth be told, I have forever been a bonafide Grinch! For whatever reason, the holiday season has always been a time of stress, dread, and wanting the time to pass quickly for me.
This year was my most festive and least dreaded holiday season thus far, which I attribute to my children.
Like the Grinch, my heart at one time was two sizes too small. With the birth of my daughter, my heart grew by one size; and with the birth of my second child, my son, my heart grew by another. That’s my theory anyway.
Holidays with a two and three-year-old are stressful, but add in some travel and that increases the stress level. Then, add in that one of the said children is nonverbal and in the process of learning to communicate and has ASD and SPD, with some pretty big sensory issues that effect basically every aspect of life, it makes for a very unpredictable and fly by the seat of our pants adventure. But truly, who am I kidding? Every day we fly by the seat of our pants on this big adventure: life.
Thanksgiving was spent a state away visiting my husband’s family. Thankfully, the children travel pretty well, so car rides really aren’t too eventful.
We were able to meet many new family members on Thanksgiving. I’m talking little ones we hadn’t yet had the opportunity to meet since their birth. We also had the opportunity to introduce our children to cousins and second cousins they hadn’t yet had the opportunity to meet. There were many little ones around.
The meal was delicious, and my husband’s grandma is an amazing cook/baker and prepared the entire meal for all of us.
Ada is at an age where she can play with the older kids on her own and doesn’t require so much supervision. That makes things quite a bit easier on my husband and me. She had a lot of fun playing all day, and ate at the “kids’ table” with the other kids.
Mealtimes are always a challenge, as Augustus has many issues with food and the mechanics of eating so it’s always a chore to figure out what he will eat, how he will eat it, where he will eat it, and the clean up of the giant mess afterwards. My husband and I usually have to eat in shifts. It’s really not an option to seat Gus at the table or even on one of our laps, because he has a reach like you wouldn’t believe and will stick his hands in everything. Augustus’ food preferences change often and vary from day to day. He is receiving feeding therapy at LifeScape to help him be able to deal with a variety of foods and learn to eat them in a more appropriate manner. He struggles with this because of his autism and his sensory issues involving all senses. In therapy, he is working on things such as how to drink out of an open cup and taking one bite at a time and being able to tolerate more than one food at a time on his plate, etc. He has to use a sippy cup unless we are practicing using an open cup because his very first instinct is to touch any and everything. Therefore, his hand instantly goes inside the cup. If he is eating one food and another is accessible on his plate or in front of him, he will remove the food in his mouth and throw it on the floor and try the other food. It’s confusing and hard to explain, but in short, he has big issues with the actual act of eating and tolerating food and their tastes, textures, smells, etc.
Thanksgiving basically went off without any major hitch other than that while playing, Augustus decided to try to pick up his one-year-old second cousin by his hair. He did also try to take the tablecloth off of the table while his dad was holding him at the table after lunch and did spill a cup of soda. He made a less than usual mess with eating. All in all a pretty successful meal and fellowship with family. We were even lucky enough for Gus to get a nap in while we were there!
A bunch of family members met at my mom’s house a few days before Christmas to frost and decorate Christmas cookies. Even though I knew there was no way Gus would appropriately participate, I let him try. Of course, he just ate the cookie and wanted to get into things and make a mess. That’s okay. Like I typed, I knew that going in. I do have to admit that I had a bit of a hard time with it because Gus and I were unable to participate and had to spend some time outside. I felt bad for him and bad for Ada because I was unable to help her out with this festive and memorable task. Of course, there was plenty of family there to help, but really I am best at keeping an eye on Gus and predicting what he’s going to do and best at calming him, etc. But, as I’ve mentioned before, a lot of things sting and there is just a lot we are all going to have to accept and get used to.
Christmas Eve Our First Sensory Meltdown
Christmas Eve was spent fairly close to home (30 minutes or so away – with all the traveling we do, 30 minutes isn’t much) at my husband’s sister’s home with my sister-in-law, my father-in-law, my future brother-in-law, my nieces, and a few others. We were served New York Strip steaks and lobster tails with all kinds of other delicious foods.
We showed up early so the kids would have time to play with their cousins. It started out pretty well. They have a nice toy room the kids played in. Granted, we are not sure if Gus ingested some small toys and things we didn’t know were there until later when we saw him put some in his mouth. Either way, he hasn’t had any issues since, so he’s fine.
Before supper Gus had what I would call a “sensory meltdown”. To explain, a lot of kids with ASD and SPD are hypersensitive to lights, smells, pressure, etc., but Gus is hyposensitive and wants all kinds of sensory input to include pressure, jumping, etc. These meltdowns can happen at any time and are exacerbated when he is tired and when he is not in his own environment with a lot of new people and new things around. Not to mention, it’s Christmastime so there are lots of lights and decorations and gifts. Unlike a hypersensitive meltdown where a child wants quiet, calm, and familiarity, Gus wants input and lots of it. He absolutely would not sit still and was just getting out of control. I eventually took him into a bedroom and turned the lights down and turned on a familiar television show. I let him jump on the bed, as jumping is one of his favorite things. He jumped, he rolled, he was all over the place. He bit me, he scratched me, I was eventually in tears. Yes, children Gus’ age often bite, but for a very different reason. Gus bites because he likes oral sensory input. That’s why he wears a chewy on his shirt so he has that input when he needs it. When using his chewy, he is often able to focus better on tasks, etc. At this point, the chewy was no good, and he was biting me for sensory input. He was so out of control that I ended up sitting on the bed and seating him between my legs and wrapping my legs around his to give him the pressure he likes and to keep him from being destructive and biting and scratching. I then rocked back and forth to give him some vestibular sensory input as well. Nothing was working, and I felt it was best to take him home, but my husband did not agree and said he’d take over for a while. So, as usual, we had to trade off and on so we could each eat and get Gus fed. This was not Gus’ first sensory meltdown, but his first since his diagnoses and me actually understanding what was going on. It’s so hard when this happens, because he is not in control. He is just doing what he feels his body needs. We thought we had gained some ground with his biting, as he hadn’t bit anyone for a long time. Recently, he bit his speech therapist and my husband and me. I plan to talk with his occupational therapists about a sensory diet for when these meltdowns occur. A sensory diet is tools and activities that help a child get the sensory input they need to again feel regulated and end meltdowns. This will involve a lot of trial and error.
As I sat there restraining him and rocking him back and forth and feeling where he bit me throb on my shoulder, I couldn’t help but look to the future and wonder if things will always be this way. What happens when he’s bigger than I am? He’s already tall and a big boy and it’s no easy task to pick him up, etc. Hopefully, with time, trial and error, and his therapy we will be able to help him learn to self-regulate.
It was still overall a good evening, although a very tiring one, as I had a lot to do once we got home, too. I am glad that the kids got to play with their cousins, and Gus did eventually settle down and calmly played in the play room later.
Although I really wanted to take him home and let him and I be in our calm place, I am glad my husband didn’t let me because it’s important for him to be with his family as much as possible and for us to figure out what triggers meltdowns and how to deal with them. It’s just a part of our life now, and we need to get used to it.
In my unusually festive demeanor this year, I decided I would host Christmas at my house for my family. I invited my parents, my father-in-law, my sister, her fiance, and my niece. I did this in part because I knew it would be a lot easier on Gus and all of us and because I live in the house my father grew up in, and I knew he would really like to celebrate a holiday with his own family in his childhood home.
Not only did I host and invite everyone over, I took on the task of preparing all of the main dishes to include a brined turkey, a pork roast, mashed potatoes, 2 kinds of gravy, and biscuits. My husband made some amazing macaroni so the kids would have something to eat for sure, and he even decided to make an apple pie that was seriously the most delicious apple pie I have ever tasted in all of my life. My sister and mom did help out by bringing appetizers and desserts as well. Man, I ate so much it was just ridiculous. That’s what it’s about, though, fellowship and eating, being merry, and rejoicing and remembering the reason for the season.
Christmas Day was a breeze in comparison to Christmas Eve. The kids were in their own environment and it made things so much easier for Augustus. When he got to a point where he was tired, he simply laid down and went to sleep. Unfortunately, he fell asleep just as we were about to open gifts. I say unfortunately because my family and I wanted to see him open his gifts. It was not unfortunate for Gus. He was in his environment and comfortable and needed sleep; so, he slept rather than having a sensory meltdown not wanting to go to sleep because of all the sensory input around and wanting more.
All in all, Augustus doesn’t care about opening gifts or getting presents. Yes, this is sad in a lot of ways. He’s not feeling the excitement and joy of the season. It’s also okay though, because Gus is almost always happy because he doesn’t worry about things like holidays and gifts. He lives every day seemingly not worrying about the past or the future. When it comes down to it, he is neurologically different than most, but maybe he is in some ways neurologically superior because he doesn’t waste time on things and doesn’t sweat the small stuff. He is a lover and he is a worker. It amazes me to think how hard he works every single day just to do the things we all take for granted.
Ada enjoyed the magic and festivities that most kids love during Christmas. We left cookies and milk out for Santa, and even carrots for the reindeer. Santa even left her some cookie crumbs to eat, which she was super excited about. When asked what her favorite gift was she replied “The candy!” I couldn’t ask for a better daughter. She is the perfect sibling for Gus. She has a heart of gold, and I plan to nurture that. She is also a very strong willed little firecracker when she wants to be, which I also plan to nurture. A perfect combination.
The above was our holidays in a nutshell. I wouldn’t change it for the world. This is my messy, happy, sad, confusing, frustrating, enthralling, exhausting, amazing, and blessed life. I have been given this life and these circumstances for a reason, and I’m here to show everyone that it’s all meant to be.
I hope you all had a memorable and enjoyable holiday season.
Be watching for more posts in the New Year!
Today I was hit right square in the “feels”. My phone greeted me this morning with my Facebook Memories, which are a recap of things you’ve shared on Facebook in years passed.
One year ago, I shared a picture and an update about Augustus, who had just turned 18 months old.
The caption to this picture read:
“This guy is 18-months-old today! 😲 Can you believe it!? I can’t. 😢 He is a boy of few words, which I think is largely in part to the fact that his older sister never stops talking. 😄 He is always on the move.🏃♂️ Even when he watches tv, he walks around. He loves to crawl up onto things and climb. 😓 He has grown 3 INCHES in the last 6 months, and is very close to being off the charts for his height. His height to weight ratio is perfect. So, in other words, he’s a big ol’ healthy boy! 💪 He’s still a big eater and isn’t too picky. 🍗 He adores books and asks to be read to often. 📗 He also likes to sit by himself and look at books. He’s really into throwing and rolling balls around.⚾️ He loves anything with wheels. 🏍 He has a little camoflauge blankie with a stuffed animal deer head on it that is his absolute goto for comfort. ☺ He has to have it to sleep. 😴 He’s big on sleep. He gets a little fussy and wants to go to bed or take a nap and is all for it. 👏 He still likes to wrestle and often uses his head as a weapon. 😏 His sister likes to boss him around and even push him around. 😣 He’s such a lover, though. He usually doesn’t fight back. He loves to give hugs and kisses, and loves to rest his head against mine for some snuggles. He is the sweetest. 😍💙”
Then, in the comments, I elaborated on some details my friends had inquired about:
At this time we were starting to come to terms that maybe something was going on with Gus, but just weren’t sure, and not yet willing to admit it.
I could take the caption to that adorable picture and pick it apart, piece by piece, and show you that what I was describing, although very vaguely and unaware, were some of the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder and sensory processing disorder.
Autism taketh away…
Notice in the comments I mentioned the words he was using? Although they were few, he was using words; for a while. They eventually went away.
That’s what really hit me. It hit me that I’m not even sure I remember what that sweet little voice sounded like, because I never thought it would go away. We all take so many things for granted, such as the voices of our loved ones. I was fortunate enough to hear him say “mama”, which is more than some can say, and I am blessed in that.
That’s what autism has taken away. It took away my son’s voice; his ability to communicate verbally. What I wouldn’t give to hear him say “I love you.” I’d even love to hear him argue with his sister.
While he still makes noises and sounds, he does not speak. Maybe he will again one day, but maybe he wont.
Autism took away the future I saw for my son and my family.
Autism took the wind out of my sails (initially).
Autism rules my schedule and routines.
Autism filled me with doubt and changed the way I see almost everything.
Autism requires my son, my baby, to work so much harder than most to be socially accepted and understood and to learn. He learns differently.
He is different not less!
Autism has given me absolute proof that love requires no words. None. That in itself is probably worth more than everything it has taken away.
Autism has given me a new outlook on life and a new way to view things.
Autism has broadened my horizons and introduced me to things and people I would have likely never come across otherwise.
I’ve got some hella wind in my sails now! It took it away, but sent it back with a vengeance.
Autism has given me understanding.
Autism has given me an understanding that words are not needed to communicate.
Autism has given me strength; so much strength.
Autism has renewed my faith and renewed my trust in God.
Autism has given me an entirely unique, loving, affectionate, smiley, and happy son to fulfill my life; my family’s lives.
God has entrusted me with what is perfect and planned for me.
I always wanted to be a mother. That’s all I ever knew. When it became obvious that may never happen I turned to fertility treatments and had my beautiful daughter. Then God, in his own timing, blessed our family with this amazing and unique little boy who would bring us all together and build us all up in strength, understanding, and love, and show me a side of motherhood many don’t see.
I finally started going to church again, andquickly realized how much I had missed it, and how important it was to me, especially in this season of life. I went for several weeks in a row with my daughter, leaving my son with nonverbal ASD (autism spectrum disorder) and SPD (sensory processing disorder) at home with my husband. Why did I leave him at home with his father?I didn’t feel like he was ready, and most of all, I wasn’t ready…
I was sitting on the couch at home while my daughter, son, and niece played. My husband was gone for the weekend deer hunting with his brother. I got a text message letting me know that he wouldn’t be home until the following day sometime in the afternoon. That was fine by me. Then, suddenly, the panic hit…“Who’s going to watch Augustus so I can go to church? I really want to go.” Could I convince my sister to watch him? My dad?…I pondered…Then I got to thinking, really thinking,“Why don’t I take Augustus to church with me?” “What are the real reasons?” This led me to Mr. Google. I simply typed “taking autistic 2 year old to church” into the search bar. I read through many articles and blog posts. Many. In the past, I had read many a horror story about families being asked to leave the service because their child was too disruptive or other members of the congregation making negative comments or “suggestions”. I really wasn’t concerned about that. Anyway, back to my Google search: I came across a blog post from another mother of a child with ASD and she said something along the lines of “He deserves to be ministered to just as much as I or anyone else does.” BINGO! That hit home. I was suddenly overwhelmed with emotion and immediately headed outside to call my mom. You see, I usually head to church with my mom, niece, and daughter. The times I felt the need to stay home with Gus if my husband was gone, my mom took my daughter to church with her. Back to the phone call: My mom answered and I instantly told her that I was probably going to cry and I didn’t even really know why, but I wanted to ask her about something. I just started out by telling her I thought Gus should be going to church because everything I learned about God when I was little was from church. And yes, I cried. My mom told me she thought the same and that she had wondered if I’d want to bring him but wanted to wait until I was ready. We talked about everything I was worried about, and I mentioned that I thought that there were probably even some congregation members that didn’t even know I had a second child. The conversation concluded with us deciding that she would come pick me and both kids up for church in the morning and that my sister and her daughter would also attend. I then had feelings of a mixture of excitement, peace in knowing I’d come to a good and right decision, and anxiety. A lot of anxiety.
Of note: I really felt like it was meant to be once I realized that this week’s sermon was to be led by the confirmation students with a pancake feed and fellowship downstairs to follow.
As I have mentioned before, I dream about Augustus almost every night. I sometimes have happy dreams of him talking (as I mentioned before he is nonverbal). Other times, I wake up in a sweat and panic after dreaming he bolted away from me and I could not find him. Let me tell you, last night that was not a problem. I couldn’t sleep. I was a ball of emotions. All kinds of emotions. I worry because he has sensory issues and is a sensory seeker. He likes to lean, feel, touch, squeeze, mouth, jump, kick, and just move almost constantly seeking that sensory input. Secondly, he is loud. He does not speak, but he vocalizes, loudly. He stims.
I worry he will pull someone’s hair in the pew ahead of us. I worry he will disrupt the sermon or make it difficult for someone to hear. I worry he will have a meltdown due to sensory issues or frustration. I worry he will escape my hold and run around the church. I worry we will distract others from the sermon and message. I worry…and worry…and worry.
The moment I had the night before led me to realize that none of that really matters. Seriously, I might as well get used to getting stared at or scoffed at anyway as we are out in public and once he starts school. People are cruel, quick to judge, and just don’t understand. Fortunately, I knew deep down in my heart, that I had nothing to worry about at my church. Yes, maybe a curious child will glance at us, but no one is going to be upset by his vocalizing (as long as it’s not excessive) and I will and can always walk him out in the case of a meltdown or sensory issue.
He Went to Church
By God, my son went to church and was wholly welcomed and accepted, as I knew he would be, and as all should be at church. It’s sad that we do live in a world where it is possible to receive judgement from those at church. It’s a sad reality. Thankfully, here in my small town, this is not an issue. Amen! How did it go you ask? It went as well as I can expect. I fully admit that I was a ball of anxiety the whole time, and I’m sure Augustus could feel that, which doesn’t help. I will get better as time goes on and it becomes more routine for him and myself. Yes, he did vocalize and move around a lot. I decided to let my mom take him up for the Children’s Sermon. He did try to grab the microphone from the speaker and grab her book. He did vocalize. He did wiggle around. But guess what? That’s what he does. He did just fine. I sat there watching, sweating, worrying, praying. He did just fine.
Right before the Children’s Sermon, the congregation was asked to take a moment to greet one another. A kind woman (and neighbor in fact) came to greet us and asked “Amanda, how many children do you have?” I replied “Just these two.” She then asked “How old is he?” I replied “He is two, and Ada is three.” Then she stated “Well I’m glad you’re all here.” I thought this was very kind and also funny because remember what I mentioned before? Telling my mom that I was sure some people didn’t even know I had two kids. Plus,the woman inquiring is a neighbor. I was right.
I held Augustus much of the sermon and put him down on the ground when I could tell he had the need to jump for a minute, which I do not feel was disruptive to anyone. After a while, Grandma held Gus, and it was cute to see that he liked to rest his head against her mouth during hymns. He liked to listen and feel. That goes back to his sensory needs. There was also piano and guitar accompaniment at today’s service. Augustus loved that. He loves music, and especially loves guitars. The sermon today just happened to be about bullying and our branch of churches keeping children safe and making everyone feel welcome. It was meant to be. I have to admit, overwhelmed with emotion during the sermon, I had a few tears. I can’t really even tell you why for sure. I suppose because I was just relating and feeling the sermon. Probably feeling guilty for keeping him from church before. It was overall a good experience and one I am proud to say I made it through. This was all on me, not him. He is who he is. I’m the one that was seeming to have an issue with that. But, that is no more. He’s my Gus. My favorite guy.
The icing on the cake was when I was holding Gus after the service was over and a female member of the congregation walked up and took Gus’ little hand and said “You did so good today!” I said “Yes. Today is the first time he’s been to church since he was in a child carrier.” After that Augustus vocalized and flapped his arms looking at this lady happily, and she said “And we don’t mind that one bit!” (Referring to his vocalizing and stimming.) I have to say, while I was glad to have gone through the whole service unscathed other than by my own emotions and worry, that comment touched my heart.
I decided not to stay for the pancakes and fellowship downstairs. I was emotionally drained and decided it best to take one thing at a time. Also, Gus has some feeding issues, too. Not that I am embarrassed by them, just that it is a lot of work to feed him and I was drained.
He was ready to attend church all along. I wasn’t ready for him to. It was a sin to keep him from church, and I have asked for forgiveness, and will be forgiven. I thought I had the best of intentions, but in reality what’s best is him being at church.
Thank God for helping me realize how important it is for both of my children to attend church services and worship with others and be ministered to. Thank God for my church, my pastor, and the congregation. Thank God for my supportive family and friends. We will see you in church next week!
Emotion – A natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationship with others.
Created in the image of God, we have the capacity to experience and express many different emotions.
I, personally, often struggle with unpredictable and random emotions that are seemingly out of my control. Don’t we all? Especially us women…
Emotions are a gift from God, but we must remember that even our emotions were and are tainted by the lapse of humankind into the state of sin; AKA The Fall.
Guess what? Just because we feel something does not mean it’s true.
Deep down I’ve always known this, but lately it’s like a light bulb has gone off in my head…”Hello, I can reject any emotion that crops up if it’s not consistent with HIS truth.” I know, I know, totally easier said than done; but just think, how amazing would it be to be able to feel some sense of control over your emotions.
Our feelings do not always = Reality
Okay, so maybe we can’t help how we feel, but we sure don’t have to let our lives be run by our emotions. Perceived negative emotions are not a sin! God, himself, has been angry. For instance:
Numbers 22:22 (NIV)
But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the Lord stood in the road to oppose him…
He admits to being jealous!
Exodus 20:5 (NIV)
You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God…
It’s how we deal with and what we do with our emotions that matters.
When our emotions have us feeling out of control, many of us (myself included) look for ways to mask, numb, or suppress our emotions. We all know how this turns out…We end up making poor decisions that only add to and exacerbate the emotions we are suppressing in the first place. Speaking from experience here!
Many of us turn to social media and technology, staring at screens for hours. Many turn to food, alcohol, or drugs to escape feelings. We all long for a feel-good substitute for actually feeling. We need to feel all the feels, the raw and hard feels, but do so while keeping our mindset geared towards HIM.
If we do not face our emotions and feelings head-on, we will see negative consequences. These consequences will start inside, emotional or spiritual, and will eventually cause very real consequences on the outside both physically and behaviorally.
And sorry ladies, our hormone fluctuations each month or with pregnancy, menopause, etc. are just no excuse. God understands our bodies and how they work better than we do. God created us women. He knows we are strong and capable to deal with the physical and emotional aspects of being a woman. I am not saying this is easy. No way! I fail to “keep my cool” all. the. time. and especially when hormones are raging. BUT I do not believe it is an excuse to behave badly.
What I’m working on now is having my very first response, no matter how I’m feeling, to be to turn to the Lord.
This requires discipline and mental strength. It’s so much easier to numb the feelings and emotions, but I’m here to grow, and growing requires discipline and strength. It’s not easy.
Scripture itself can provide me (and you) with many promises to help level my emotions and feelings. That’s why it is so important to study and know The Word.
I may deal with certain mental and emotional problems for my entire life here on Earth, no matter what I do. Thankfully, though, HE will be with me the entire time. I can look forward to the future knowing that one day all of my pain and suffering will be gone.
True hope is found in Christ alone. He’s with you even when you don’t feel like he is.
Remember this always: His truth stands regardless of how you feel.
A dear friend shared the song and video below with me. It seemed fitting to go along with this blog entry. Enjoy!
I’ve been thinking about how the world views self-care for a while now. The topic was brought up in a Bible study I’m doing, and it really piqued my interest.
Have you noticed that almost anywhere you look there are signs, messages, and advertisements telling us to “love ourselves first” and offering to show us “ways (or how) to love ourselves more”?
These messages, to me, are not a right-out lie, but a distortion of the truth.
The real truth is that our worth is not bestowed on ourselves. It is impossible to experience God’s complete and total love simply by telling ourselves how lovable and worthy we are.
We also often hear “I’ve never loved myself…” or “She just doesn’t love herself enough…”
The truth of the matter is that we are born loving ourselves. It comes completely naturally. It is not something learned. We listen to our inner voice and take care of our bodies when needed. We are born children of Christ and in his image. He loves us, and we are precious to Him. In His love, we find love for ourselves. God does not tell us to love ourselves before we can love others. He asks that we listen, help, take care of, and pay attention to others in the way that comes naturally when doing those things for ourselves.
That being said, caring for others as we do ourselves does not come naturally. It is something we must consciously put effort into.
We do not have a low self-image, but a low view of God. We do not need to learn to love ourselves more, but to love God and others more in order to receive light, love, and blessings.
Think about it, maybe we are easily offended and hurt because we do love ourselves and not because we don’t. In fact, I’m sure of it! Nowadays, people take offense to anything and everything they don’t agree with it seems. This can be attributed to people being more self-involved and not putting God before themselves or treating others as they treat themselves.
God’s love will set us free from self-loathing and loneliness.
His light will shine within and out of us as we learn and practice loving others as we love ourselves; not by focusing on ourselves, but by focusing on His Word.
This is not to say we shouldn’t take care of ourselves, but take a look at what we are doing to take care of ourselves. Spending time in prayer and studying His word should be our main focus in self-love and self-care.
DISCLAIMER I do not mean to minimize or trivialize those who suffer low self-esteem, self-love, and self-image due to mental or verbal abuse or manipulation, which is a different story.
REFERENCES Ephesians 2:4 and 5 Genesis 1:27 John 3:1
I want to talk about the dark, scary, somber and lonely places our mind can take us. Those places where we isolate ourselves, blame ourselves, blame others, doubt ourselves, doubt others, doubt our worthiness, and even doubt our worthiness in God’s eyes. The places that keep us anxious and frightened. The places that keep us from being happy where we are at. Those dark & scary places.
We all have to consciously make an effort to “not go there”; to not let our mind wander; to not let others lead us there; not let our circumstances keep us there; and not let the devil tempt us there. Those dark & scary places.
I will openly admit that I have always been a worrier, and one to go to and linger in those dark & scary places. I’ve suffered from depression and anxiety even in what could be seen from the outside as some of the happiest times of my life. I do feel we can be predisposed to anxiety and depression. Nobody wants to be anxious or depressed. I do feel there is a genetic aspect. I’ve dealt with such for most of my adult life, but have found relief from medication at times, friends, family, and most of all God.
Since I have started down the path of the unknown with my son’s diagnosis of autism, I have had to fight especially hard to stay out of those dark & scary places.
Of course, I have been looking to my faith to help me be strong in every way, but sometimes I still fall victim and am tempted, pushed, or fall into those dark & scary places.
I decided to do some research on God’s view on autism. I consulted with Mr. Google, and he led me to a very dark & scary place. I came across an article that claimed those born with autism are cursed with a dark and evil spirit and will be healed once that evil is cast out. This claim was even backed by stories in scripture. I choose not to share such with you, because I don’t want to go back to that place and read those terrible words again; I don’t mean the words of the scripture, but the words that used that scripture to take me to a dark & scary place. This article made me doubt, made me place blame, made me feel guilty, and made me feel as if God himself was punishing me. My mind spiraled out of control.
I then began to look at other Bible verses such as Isaiah 65:6-7 (NIV)
6 “See, it stands written before me:
I will not keep silent but will pay back in full; I will pay it back into their laps— 7 both your sins and the sins of your ancestors,” says the Lord. “Because they burned sacrifices on the mountains and defied me on the hills, I will measure into their laps the full payment for their former deeds.”
I kept replaying in my mind “You shall pay for the sins of your fathers.” I don’t mean literally my father, but my ancestors. This then morphed into me feeling like I was being punished by God. This then led to me going over all the reasons he would have to punish me…I used fertility treatments to conceive, I played God, therefore, God in his anger gave me a child, no fertility treatments needed, but gave me a child that has disabilities as a punishment.
Thankfully, I later realized that thinking that way was absolutely a sin in itself. It was most definitely the devil planting those seeds of doubt in my mind and leading me astray. God does not punish us for our sins or for the sins of our ancestors as is told later in the Bible. My punishment for my sin and those of my ancestors was put on the life of Jesus. Jesus died on the cross for all sin; present, past, and future. My debt has been paid through His blood.
A dear friend also helped me out of those dark & scary places. She reminded me that with fertility treatments or not, if I were not meant to have children God would not have given me children. We all have free will, but God is ultimately in charge.
I believe God does discipline us in that he places us in circumstances and situations that refocus us on Him; to become closer to Him; to be reminded how much we need Him; to keep us aware that our actions do have consequences. Discipline is different than punishment.
Hebrews 12:5-7 (NIV)
5And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?
It’s so easy to let the devil place those seeds of doubt in our minds. Truly, all we have to do is look to scripture to know that he is dead wrong.
Everyone always says “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” I don’t think this is true at all. I think God absolutely will give us more than we can handle so we will turn to him and become closer to him; this goes back to being disciplined but not punished.
It’s somewhat embarrassing to admit that I let the devil in and that I spent some time in those dark & scary places, but I share in hopes of helping you to realize that this kind of unhealthy and sinful thinking is just the devil getting in. Don’t let him in. Whether he tries to snake his way in through the internet, others’ comments, an unfortunate circumstance or bad experience, keep in mind that you are a cherished and loved child of God. Consciously make an effort to stay out of the dark & scary places, and be on the lookout for the devil trying to put you there. Even if you’re already in those dark & scary places or find yourself there again, look to Him to consciously find your way out, and remember you are forgiven.