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"...She Laughs without fear of the future" Proverbs 31:25

Single Mom Diaries: Anxiety

Anxiety+Girl

Question: “What’s it like being a single mom?”

Actual Response: “Oh, it’s great. There’s no parent splitting in our house.”

We laugh.

What I want to say is this:

I live in anxiety. Not with it, in it. Like I have literally packed up all my crap and made anxiety my state of residence.

Have I always lived in anxiety?

I don’t know.

I think I used to vacation there but I lived in calm. Lately, I live there and vacation in calm. So, yeah, it’s great.

The moral of this story is to take more vacations. Which I am sure we can all agree is the moral of every story.

Back to anxiety, it’s terrible. There are so many terrible things aren’t there? Orphans, cancer, the 2016 Presidential Election, hot Cheetos, we could go on and on. Let’s just add anxiety to that list and agree that maybe it’s not the worst thing ever, but it certainly does not help make life any more fun.

Anxiety is terrible.

Have you tried therapy? Yes.

Prescription drugs? Yes.

Prayer? Yes.

Meditation? Yes.

Exercise? Yes.

Eating well? Yes.

Journaling? Yes.

More prayer? More yes.

Does anything work? Yes. Yes. Yes.

It all works. Differently, and at times one strategy is a better fit, but a hearty YES; all the things work.

Do you still have anxiety? Yes.

A well-meaning friend once told me, “Shaena, you have to stop saying you have anxiety. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy”. I’m not sure he was really clear on how that works, but let me be clear; admitting that I live in anxiety has not caused me to live in anxiety.  I don’t believe I’ll always live here, but I’m here now. While I’m here, I’ll do the heart work necessary and gain some skills that will help me on my way. The alternative is moving to a small mountain cabin, growing out my leg and armpit hair, and surrounding myself with pictures of cats and tiny hamsters eating burritos, and… I think the kids would complain and that would give me anxiety… so probably not.

Instead, I’ll hold these three things in my heart and be thankful for the lessons, coupled with the Truth, that get me through. Maybe they will help you or someone you know avoid their own recluse cabin.

  1. Don’t be afraid to admit where you are right now. Until you can do this, you wont be able to process how you got there or where you are heading. Nothing is wasted. (2 Corinthians 1:4).

      2.  Change always comes. If you want    to move, you will. It might take longer than you hoped but you will. Don’t lose heart. (1 Peter 5:10)

  1. Gratitude helps, but time is what heals. Be patient with yourself. Prolonged struggle doesn’t mean you aren’t grateful for the progress you have made. You are being strengthened and that process takes time. (Ephesians 3:14-21)

 

I have a beautiful life. I am loved well. I am thankful above all else, and I spend more time in joy than most people I know. I am also really proud of the progress I’ve made in the last two years. But, I will not strip this journey into single parenting of it’s emotional consequences and pretend that I have magically managed to remain unscathed. I live in anxiety. It is what it is.

Good days look like prayer, and baths, and playtime, and laughter, and sweet sweet calm. Bad days look like nervous energy, fingers raw and bleeding, and a thousand distractions.

I have to fight for the calm in my heart that used to come so easy. Most days I win and I go to bed feeling like a bad a$$. Some nights though, I climb into bed surrounded by anxiety, breathe out a sigh of disappointment, and agree to fight again tomorrow.

 

I guess, in a way, that’s winning too.

 

Praying for you friends. For all the battles you win silently. 

Xoxo Shaena

Confessions of a Superhero

Confessions of a Super Hero

Other possible titles:

If I tell you what I really think, will you call me a bitter divorcé ?

Words you write when you are out of Xanax.

There is not enough Botox in the world to hide the fact that I feel tired and old.

Misguided Musings of a 30 something single mom.

 

In just two years I’ve become a real life super hero, this is my story:

We don’t have to talk, we are not friends”.

That was all I could manage to say. That was the last thing that I said. I didn’t look at him again. I didn’t look at her either. I just rolled up my window and drove away. I don’t know where they went. Maybe to celebrate his new found freedom, or to revel in the fact that they had won some great prize in an out of court settlement that included very little time with the kids and even less financial support. I don’t know where they went, and does it really matter? He had made his choice and I would make mine. And so I closed the door on ten years of my life.

Ten years of hopes and dreams.

Ten years of joy and laughter.

Ten years of fighting and strife.

Of contention and hurt and more heartache then our marriage was capable of withstanding.

I closed the door behind me and stared out into a world full of terrifying possibilities, armed with only the tiniest glimmer of hope that somehow, in the end, all the wrongs would be made right.

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

 

It’s important to note that by this time I had been a single mom for over a year. Gone were the nights of holding my children as they cried themselves to bed and then slipping into my own bed to do the same. Gone was the fear and worry that my former “stay at home mom” status would prevent me from ever getting a good job, or a good job that I liked. Gone was the fear that I would never be wanted, and that what I could offer would never be enough. And the loneliness that once threatened to rob me of all future joy; was more of a dull ache only noticeable when I focused on it, and I never did.

 

At this point in my life I tried to date. I use that word “try”, about as loosely as you can use any word, because in hindsight, I did not “try” at all. I got out of these “relationships” exactly what I put into them, basically nothing. To be fair, I’m not sure I was ever good at dating… I mean, I was married at 21 so that leaves only my high school boyfriends to chime in… but please don’t because that would be insanely uncomfortable.

The point is this; it is extremely awkward for Christians to date after a divorce. Call me a hopeless romantic, but still hard to forget how, “the one” turned out. And while I totally agree there are a lot of someone betters out there for me, I am plagued with the reality that there is also someone worse, and that guy makes being single seem pretty stinking wonderful. And so, I am content to wait. On time, healing, confidence, hundreds of cats to take over my home and drive me out into the street where I am forced to make new friends, God, anything… I am just waiting. And trusting that when it is right, I’ll know.

Things that steal my joy:

Not having enough time with my kids.

Watching them miss their dad.

Knowing that my chances of marrying Bradley Cooper are basically non-existent.

Seeing them disappointed.

Knowing that even at my best, I will never be both a mother and a father.

Seeing them disappointed again.

Being so tired my body aches.

Seeing them disappointed again and again and again.

Commuting 2 hours a day and then coming home and feeling like a zombie.

The road map of wrinkles that line my forehead.

Things that bring me joy:

Being able to provide for my kids.

Daydreaming about sharing a front porch and a double rocking chair with Bradley Cooper.

A community of friends and family who held my arms up when I was too weak to walk.

Disco dance parties in my daughter’s room.

The way my son looks at me with such gratitude and pride when I come home from work.

All of the things that make up Elly’s world.

All of the things that make up Nicky’s world.

Knowing that I am building a legacy in them, and they will always be my proudest accomplishment.

Interesting work.

Cute clothes.

Knowing that I am not alone, and that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Feeling loved every day.

Having a front row seat in the lives of two really cool little humans.

Remembering that this is only one chapter and that the rest has already been written and is just waiting to be read.

 

In truth, some days are awesome and other days suck. I can appreciate that I am not a conventional superhero. An argument can be made that there is nothing super or heroic about me… get behind me Satan.

Although it may be fair to say there is nothing spectacular or even particularly interesting about my life right now. I’m trying to do the best with the cards in my hand, like all of the other amazing parents I know. Still, there are seasons of motherhood that seem more trying than others. This has been mine. And so, you will forgive my bold self-proclaimed superhero status, and just remember sometimes I need to be reminded that I am more than a conqueror.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Romans 8:37

Love,

Shaena

PS,

This blog is for moms like me. Your lives are not perfect, but you wake up every day and you do the best with what you have been given. You are beautiful and your story matters.

 

Confessions of a rotten heart

Yesterday I told someone off.

I used all the words.

It was ugly.

It gets worse.

Yesterday, I told someone off in front of my kids.

“That’s pretty classy”… said no one ever.

As it turns out, the whole, “love your enemies” thing is much harder when your enemies are terrible people… when YOUR heart is not right.

For a moment, I felt strong. As though I was somehow made heavy by the weight of the bullets that flew from my mouth.

For a moment, I felt justified, gratified, satisfied that I had the courage to cut instead of walking away.

For a moment I convinced myself that righteous anger could still be righteous even when it produced an unrighteous result.

For a moment, I believed the lie that love and kindness are reserved for the loving and the kind.

For a moment, I forgot the sweetness of gentleness and self-control, and chose the rottenness of hatred and discord.

But the moment didn’t last.

And as it turns out, word bullets spewed in anger leave an insufferable taste of poison on your tongue.

They are reckless.

Lies disguised as truth.

Weakness disguised as strength.

Cowardice disguised as courage.

Pride disguised as justification.

Selfishness disguised as standing up for yourself.

Hate.

Rottenness.

Symptoms of a sick heart.

When we got home I sat the kids down and cried. I told them I was sorry. I told them I was wrong. I told them, mommy needs more self-control! Together we prayed to the giver of good things and we asked for more of Him and less of me. They laughed, we hugged, and they kissed my cheek. To them, grace is as easy as breathing.

I don’t know what makes a heart turn sour. I think it begins with a careless choice to chew on toxic thoughts and swallow them whole instead of taking them captive and challenging them with Truth. A diet full of poison will invariably make you sick.

 “You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first” Revelations 2:5

But just as some choices bring sickness, other choices bring healing. I want to make better choices. I want to love my enemies.

Is it enough to WANT to do something?

No.

But it’s a place to start, and I think God can work with that.

 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” Psalm 51:10

So… what now?

My darling friends,

By now, most of you know that my husband and I are divorcing. For some of you, this news is a huge disappointment. My heart hurts for you. I assure you, in many respects there is no one more disappointed than me.

Divorce is vicious, and ugly, and painful, and super sad. Like… SUPER sad. Honestly, I have worn my sweet friends and family ragged with tears over the past 6 months. My friends are rock stars at letting me go crazy and loving me through each outburst. (Seriously, if you don’t have friends like that, do whatever you can to find some… better still, BE THAT FRIEND). Also, my parents are super hero’s…so there is that.

But, that is not why I’m writing. I’m writing because of a question I’ve been asked several times. More like several hundred thousand times. A question that swirls around in my head and my heart like thick smoke making me dizzy with heartache. It’s a question I honestly don’t know how to answer.

“So… what are you going to do now?”

In short, I have no fricken clue!!!

The long answer is this; I am going to hope.

I’m going to hope and I am going to believe in the things unseen just like I always have.

I’m going to trip and fall and learn new things. Things that I might not otherwise know.

I am going to proceed with caution, guarding my heart, and watching where I walk. (There is all kinds of sh** out there ya’ll… it’s good to watch your step.)

I’m going to watch my head for signs of bitterness and pray my heart stays supple.

I’m going to ask for a miracle that allows me to grow strong without growing hard.

To exude confidence without arrogance.

To be satisfied but never complacent.

To give and receive grace often and without expectation.

Hope.

This world is messy, and complicated, and frustrating as hell. So, while I am going to allow myself time to be angry about how unfair life is, I am going to put a timer on that crap. (Like, a literal timer. 15 minutes max). Seriously, those kinds of thoughts will poison your heart faster than a McDonalds diet.

Instead of allowing negativity to consume me: I’m going to love people. Better than I ever have.

I’m going to love my two babies. Maybe I’ll squeeze them a little tighter or rock them a little longer.

I’m going to teach them about faith, and family, and failure, and hope.

I’m going to pray. I’m going to rest. And I am going to give thanks for every new day.

And I might blog about it every now and then. ;0)

This life is a bit of a mixed bag, but there is so much sweet, so much joy, so much silliness, and so much hope.

To my sweet friends. Thank you for your letters, phone calls, texts, gifts. They kindled a flame that gave hope of a future fire. You are world changers and I love you. Xoxo, S

“Stay at Home Mom” needs an upgrade

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I HATE my job title. It is in dire need of an upgrade. Until then…

Please don’t ask me what I do. I might cry.

And even if I don’t, I will read between the lines of your well-meaning,

“It’s the most important job in the world”.

Because, let’s face it, hardly anyone really believes that. If they did, they would rally and riot for better pay, benefits, and equal opportunity! They would fight for justice so no mother is left behind, and every woman in America is able to stay home and raise her own children if she wants to. At the very least, they would come up with a better job title!

Please don’t ask me what I do. Because experience tells me that depending on who is asking, answering, “I’m a stay at home mom”, might not sound important enough. And might be followed by disappointed looks and an awkward silence that aims to shame.

And, here is the deal, even if there is nothing between the lines for me to read, I will just start making *STUFF up.

And I’ll hear things like:

“What a shame. Another female lost in the wake of the feminist movement. Left behind without a brain, or a dream, or the drive to use her brain to realize her dream. So instead she stays at home all day long, eating bon bons, keeping up with the Kardashians, and watching her youth fade into oblivion; while her children raise themselves”.

Things could get ugly. So please don’t ask me what I do. Because, the best title someone came up with when describing what I do was, stay at home mom. And lets face it, that sounds lame.

The truth is I am:

  • A student first and foremost, because when I started this job I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.
  • A nutritionist
  • A chef
  • An artist
  • A musician
  • An interior decorator
  • A personal shopper
  • A therapist
  • A nurse
  • A dentist (pulling teeth like a boss)
  • A soccer coach
  • A ballet instructor
  • A motivational speaker
  • A mediator
  • A sheriff
  • A teacher
  • An entertainer
  • A playmate
  • A maid
  • A chauffeur
  • A nanny
  • A party planner
  • A gardener (though arguably the worst… hooray for zero scape)
  • A plumber
  • A stylist
  • A scientist
  • A pastor (gasp)
  • A story-teller
  • An adventure seeker
  • A dream maker
  • A friend
  • A confidant

 Okay go on, ask me what I do.

I do all these things and more… sometimes on the same day. And still have time to change the world one snotty nose at a time. So for goodness sake can we give this job title an upgrade already? I was thinking:

Stay at home mom

Domestic Goddess

People Farmer

Superhero

What do you think? Suitable upgrades?

Love to all the moms out there. So thankful for you. You are invaluable.

Xoxo,

S

“Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” 1 Corinthians 10:31

 

 

Regarding women who think they can’t get along with other women

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I was sitting in a coffee shop yesterday when I overheard a woman across from me say very matter-of-factly,  “I just don’t get along well with other women. I never have. I’ve always gotten along better with men”.

Hands raised if you are a woman who has ever heard that comment before.

Okay, hands down.

I hear that comment all the time and my reply is usually something like:

“Wha??” Followed by a head nod. Nodding my head when I am completely baffled, seems to put people at ease and make them think I can totally relate.

Confession: I cannot.

Here is why:

  • I am a woman. I don’t often find myself in conversations with people who I do not get along with. So when another woman tells me they don’t get along with women, the statement leaves me confused and unsure of the status of our relationship. I want to lower my voice a bit and whisper, “we’re cool right?”
  • She is a woman. I don’t know if it’s a weird byproduct of a patriarchal society, but I’m pretty sure, in every other context, blanket statements that imply disapproval of an entire people group are called discrimination. It’s 2014 ya’ll, that is not cool. Even if you are a member of that group. I am sad that women have been so well branded that even other women don’t want to associate with them. Ya’ll, each woman is unique and different! God hasn’t typecast or branded women into a single group and neither should we.
  • God is a woman. Oh relax. I know God is neither male nor female. But He does encompass all the wonderful characteristics that make men men and women women. In fact, He made both men AND women in His image.

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27

I whole-heartedly agree with that woman in the coffee shop and other well-meaning friends that say women are difficult to get along with. But I won’t stop there. Men are difficult to get along with… and don’t even get me started on children.

People in general, God bless them; are sometimes very difficult to get along with.

Try anyway.

Women have a unique and beautiful opportunity to change the world by how we minister to each other. No one says, “I don’t get along with women because they are too kind and encouraging” and yet, that is exactly the kind of woman YOU and I have the opportunity to be.

As women, we can be teachers of good things. Things like self-control, love, kindness, purity, respect (Titus 2:3-5). Ladies we cheat ourselves of this amazing opportunity when fail to “strive to keep a spirit of unity and a bond of peace” Ephesians 4:3 (to get along) with all of God’s children.

Radical love is not easy but it’s worth it. Take a chance on someone this week, you just might make a friend for life.

xoxo,

S

Are you a woman who doesn’t get along with other women? I’d love to hear your thoughts and reactions. I value you and your contribution. Look forward to hearing from you.

One Decade Down: marriage thoughts.

Crespo-13

I’ve been married for 10 years!

I know, crazy right? I wasn’t even a child bride.

10 years ago I decided to bet the farm on a curly-headed surfer who inspired me to dream bigger, see the unseen, and never quit.  I was sure our marriage would be perfect. I remember reading through the pre-marriage materials thinking, “gosh, I am so glad I am reading this now, we WILL NEVER BE THOSE PEOPLE”. You know the people I am referring to right? Those selfish, arrogant couples described in all the pre-marriage books who are always fighting. I was sure OUR marriage would be easier. After all, those people suck, and we were awesome. Not to mention, “God brought us together”, and “we loved each other”. Love is all we need, right?

Wrong.

Crespo-21

10 years ago I married a dreamer.

In 10 short years, we moved 8 times, had 2 kids, traveled to 6 different countries, and experienced 100s of wild adventures…. Some that I would do again.

Crespo-81

And in 10 long years we learned that despite our many similarities, we were as different as Mars and Venus. And that a picture perfect marriage, was harder than it looked… maybe impossible.

We laughed.

Crespo-47

We cried.

Crespo-34

We had love. But we needed something more.

Crespo-30

We lost.

We cared.

We embraced.

Crespo-45

We believed God would of sanctify us through our marriage, but it was hard. Maybe even harder than it was for the couples in the book.

We hurt.

We fought.

A LOT.

We failed to protect and then we drowned in grace.

And with GRACE:

We forgave.

We believed.

Crespo-46

We learned to LOVE each other thru that GRACE that covered us so completely. We experienced the depth of humanity within the battle for holiness. We realized that we needed grace MORE than we needed love. We needed to receive it, walk in it, and extend it every chance we got. Because grace would enable us to practice sacrifice and endure suffering.

Crespo-113

Always hoping.

Always trusting.

Always persevering.

And now believing, that LOVE, real love; love that comes by grace thru faith. That love NEVER FAILS.

Crespo-49

We thought our marriage would be perfect.

Crespo-60

Maybe it is.

Maybe the perfect marriage isn’t the one without spot or blemish, but the one that makes you more like Jesus. God has used our marriage for moments of great joy, but you know what I remember today? I remember the moments that filled my heart with hope and belief in the things unseen. And the moments that built trust in the sovereignty and wisdom of a Savior. Those moments are perfect. And for them and so much more, I am thankful for 10 years of a REAL marriage.

Crespo-79

“A man’s heart plans his way: but the LORD directs his steps”

Proverbs 16:9

Photography by Latisha Carlson. www.latishalyn.com