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

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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.

 

Let Us Be Women Who Love: A Poem by Idellette McVicker

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Hello Friends! Happy Thanksgiving! I am so grateful for you! You inspire and encourage me every week. I hope you have a wonderful holiday.

I wanted to share a magnificent poem with you. It is one of my favorite! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Let Us Be Women Who Love

Idelette McVicker

Let us be women who Love.

Let us be women willing to lay down our sword words, our sharp looks, our ignorant silence and towering stance and fill the earth with extravagant Love.

Let us be women who Love.

Let us be women who make room.

Let us be women who open our arms and invite others into an honest, spacious, glorious embrace.

Let us be women who carry each other.

Let us be women who give from what we have.

Let us be women who leap to do the difficult things, the unexpected things and the necessary things.

Let us be women who live for Peace.

Let us be women who breathe Hope.

Let us be women who Create beauty.

Let us be women who Love.

Let us be a sanctuary where God may dwell.

Let us be a garden for tender souls.

Let us be a table where others may feast on the goodness of God.

Let us be a womb of Life to grow.

Let us be women who love.

Let us rise to the question of our time.

Let us speak to the injustices in our world.

Let us move the mountains of fear and intimidation.

Let us shout down the walls that separate and divide.

Let us fill the earth with the fragrance of Love.

Let us be women who Love.

Let us listen for those who have been silenced.

Let us honor those who have been devalued.

Let us say, Enough! With abuse, abandonment, diminishing and hiding.

Let us not rest until every person is free and equal.

Let us be women who love. 

Let us be women who are savvy, smart, and wise.

Let us be women who shine with the light of God in us.

Let us be women who take courage and sing the song in our hearts.

Let us be women who say, Yes to the beautiful, unique purpose seeded in our souls.

Let us be women who call out the song in another’s heart.

Let us be women who teach our children to do the same.

Let us be women who Love.

Let us be women who Love, in spite of fear.

Let us be women who Love, in spite of our stories.

Let us be women who Love loudly, beautifully, Divinely.

Let us be women who Love.

 

Praying for you this week.

Xoxo,

S

What WILL you do today?

Today I am going to go for a run.

It’s going to hurt.

BAD.

It’s going to hurt because it’s been a while since I’ve gone for a good run. Although I make it a point to wear running clothes at least once a week…

Today is the day.

I’m going to do it.

I’m going to silence that voice in my head that says I’ll never get back in shape and I’ve waited too long, and just run.

I may only make it around the block, but it’ll be further than I ran yesterday.

And I’ll have won.

I’ll have challenged that part of me that is always shouting CAN’T with WILL.

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Today, I will run!

 What will you do?

Don’t let the fear of pain or failure keep you from living victoriously today. Do something. Do anything. Just move. And then come back and tell me all about it ;0).

xoxo,

Shaena

In the image of God, NOT mom

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My kids are so different!

 I often marvel in the fact that children raised in the same home, parented in the exact same way, can be as different as night and day?

And it’s not just that they are different from each other, they are different from me!!! Try as I sometimes do to shape my kids into perfect little replicas of my ideal self (you know, the one who prefers celery sticks to gummy bears), my kids still do things their own unique way.

And I was thinking…maybe that’s okay.

What if, as a parent, I worried less about teaching my kids “the right” way to do EVERYTHING, (as if I even have a clue what that is), and focused instead on the REASON to do things.

What if I encouraged them to solve problems, think creatively, and value that THEY are made in the image of God and NOT in the image of Mom!

Things might take a little longer, but it could be fun to see what solutions they come up with.

We are all different. Made uniquely and distinctly in the image of God, and EVERYONE in our family has something unique to offer. Even our kids!

Is it scary to think your kids might possess skills and abilities that you may not have?

“A godly leader has the humility to allow his kids to shine and doesn’t have to be the resident expert.” Parenting By Design

 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. Romans

12:4-5

Question: How do you encourage your children to be who God created them to be?

Have you hugged your pastor’s wife lately?

I’ve been a pastor’s wife in one shape or form for nearly 10 years. Certainly not long enough to be an expert by any means. In that time I’ve been married to a youth pastor, worship pastor, college & career pastor, senior pastor, and most recently a campus pastor. Same man… just to set the record straight…whoa.

Many of my friends are also pastor’s wives, which sort of makes me wonder why we’ve never been approached for a new reality spinoff, “The Real Pastor’s Wives of the Protestant church”…probably not enough scandal for prime time but I could see it getting a decent day-time rating. “This week on RPWPC, Jenn worries she wont get all the baking done in time for community group, while Sara teaches her adorable homeschool children how to churn their own butter, and Shaena’s 3 year old gets kicked out of Christian school.”

Anyway…

Since the networks don’t seem interested in airing the reality of being a pastor’s wife can I just tell you one thing I’ve learned about your pastor’s wife? Sure, I’ve learned other things, but this one is super important.

YOUR PASTOR’S WIFE NEEDS A HUG!!

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Your senior pastor’s wife probably needs 2.

Her job, if you want to call it that, is sort of hard.

1. She has to be nice all the time. I get that this is easier for some than it is for me, but have you ever tried being nice ALL the time? Of course no one really expects her to be nice all the time, she isn’t Jesus, but believe me she’s going to hear about when she is not. If your pastor’s wife is just the sweetest woman you’ve ever met, go give her a hug! She ain’t being fake, God is showing Himself strong on her behalf!

2. She has to share her husband. Um hello! Your pastor’s wife married your pastor because she thought he was even more awesome than you do! And now she willingly & sacrificially shares his time and talents with you. And she is happy to do it! In fact, she is super blessed knowing that her husband is a blessing to you! If you are blessed by your pastor’s ministry, go give his wife a hug!

Let each of you look not only to his own interest, but also to the interest of others. Phil 2:4

3. Some people expect more out of her than Jesus does. God is satisfied with her rockin’ heart that loves Him and the church…it’s not always enough for the rest of the congregation (1 Sam 16:7). And she has to filter through their expectations too. If your pastor’s wife is confidently committed to pleasing God and doing what he has called her to do, even when it means she wont please man (Gal 1:10), go give her a hug.

4. Hugs are free. Encouragement will cost you nothing to give and just might be the most valuable thing you possess! Give it away! Give it all. Give it radically. Give it to people you aren’t even sure need it, like your pastors wife! Go on, write her a note, shoot her a text, GIVE HER A HUG! Tell her all the things she’s told you. Remind her how God is using her to change your church, your city, and your home. Tell her you’re behind her and you support her in whatever God calls her to do. Cheer her on when she is blessed and don’t judge her when you realize she is real woman who needs Jesus too. Tell her you are thankful she is willing to stand at the front lines alongside her husband and let the darts fall where they will. Let her know how much you appreciate her.

“God is patient with leaders. You ought to be as well.” Pastor Skip Heitzig

My pastor’s wife Lenya Heitzig is a rockstar of a woman. Lenya, consider yourself hugged! Thanks for all you do to serve Calvary Albuquerque. For the sacrifices you are sure to have made throughout your many years of ministry. And for the love and encouragement you give. Thank you for your faithfulness to the word of God and your eagerness to teach the treasures you’ve uncovered!

Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in word and doctrine. 1 Tim 5:17

(Btw- Lenya leads an awesome ministry called She ministries. You’ll want to click that link because you are just in time to register for an incredible Bible study in 1 John held online or live at Calvary Abq . It starts next Tues Sept 10, so register today. Yay!!)

Well there you have it ladies, I challenge you all to hug your pastor’s wife this week. See if she doesn’t shine just a little brighter next Sunday.

Warning: encouragement is contagious. Start giving it freely and you just might change the world friends!

Xoxo,

Shaena

What are some things you love about your pastor’s wife? Leave a hug here!

The 1 gift you can’t return

Words are a gift, use them wisely.

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who live to give, and those who live to receive. Here are 8 characteristics of each:

  1. Receiver’s motto, “The gift is for me, so it’s about me.”
  • Will return a gift card (there are websites now that make it possible for you to sell your gift cards for cash)
  • Difficult to surprise because they are particular about what they like
  • Easy to shop for because they usually tell you exactly what they want
  • Don’t usually consider the givers feelings when returning gifts
  • Give less often but with more consideration
  • Gifts from them are well planned and thought out
  • Gifts from them rarely need returning
  • Are not offended by returned gifts
  1. Giver’s motto, “The gift is from me, so it’s about me.”
  • Rarely returns gifts
  • Will withhold gifts if they think they wont be received
  • Easy to surprise because they rarely tell you what they want
  • Hard to shop for because they rarely tell you what they want
  • Don’t always consider the receivers likes/dislikes when buying gifts
  • Give often
  • Gifts are spontaneous
  • Takes offense to returned gifts

Whether you consider yourself a giver or a receiver, there are some things that can never be returned, words. Words have the power to hate and the power to heal, and once you give them, you can never take them back. Similarly, if you fail to give the words that bring healing, you may not get another chance.

What is the solution? Watch your words.

Psalm 141:3 Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.

When God monitors our mouth we can be sure that the words we speak will bring others healing or bring us conviction.

If you’ve spoken hurtful words, you can’t take them back, but there is something you can do.

  1. Remember– Take responsibility for your words by remembering them. This might keep you from re-using them in the future.
  2. Repent– Admit that what you said was hurtful and make no excuse for your lack of self-control. Ask God to forgive you and help you speak kind words in the future.
  3. Reconcile– Go to that person. Don’t assume it will just blow over. Humble yourself by apologizing and ask them to join you in praying for self-control with your speech.

If you’ve held back encouragement, start today! Don’t let your own insecurities hold you back; tell someone how special you think they are!

Join this conversation:

Are you a giver or a receiver? What are some characteristics I missed? What are some obstacles that cause you to speak hurtful words or withhold encouragement?

I’d love to pray for you.

Asking God to edit our words this week.

Lv Shaena