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

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?

Embracing the “mom cut”

Beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised

Proverbs 31:30

I cut my hair.

You know what they say, “as the kids get older, the hair gets shorter”. I don’t actually know of anyone that says that, but it seems like something “they” would say. Who the heck are “they” anyway?

Anyway, I did it. I got the mom cut. I’d like to think it’s more of a Katie Holmes/ Victoria Beckham kind of mom cut, but a mom cut nonetheless. It has taken a little getting used to it as I first had to mourn my long shampoo model locks that were mostly in my head rather than on it. They were really painful to loose.

Why do people make such a big deal about the mom cut anyway? It’s as if there is this unspoken fear that the people who see moms in the grocery store will know that they are moms and not young hipsters by their haircut. OH THE AGONY. As if that magical flowing hair would have hidden their children who are undoubtedly with them in that store! Or okay, not hidden them…but at the very least the long hair says “she’s cool, she’s like a young, hip, mom”. And every mom wants to be a cool mom right?

Eh, cool is overrated. Motherhood is not. When my kids were babies I wore their barf like a badge of honor. Later… and still, I wear bags under my eyes to remind the world that I get less sleep than my kid-less counterparts. And now, I will proudly rock a mom cut or any other tell that screams, “she’s a mom people”.

I love being a mom. I love being their mom. They, my two little gems, are my heritage, my gift of grace, and my proudest achievements. They tell the world that I have labored, and loved, and live a rich life alongside two perfectly imperfect little people.

Maybe it took cutting off my hair to realize being a mom isn’t about giving up youth and beauty; although there is a fair amount of that. It’s about labor, and love, and the legacy you leave behind.

I’m embracing the mom-cut ya’ll, but more than that… I’m embracing the gift of being a mom.

Look out mom jeans and t-shirts with my kids face on them; here I come! God, please no!!!!

Praying for you moms especially this week. That you will learn to love each wrinkle on your forehead, stretchmark on your stomach, and every other little tell that lets the world know how richly you’ve been blessed!

And for those of you who aren’t moms but made it to the very end, GO YOU! And let me encourage you too. Fully embrace the season you are in! Be sure to give as much, if not more, attention to your character as you would your haircuts. Whether you ever rock a mom cut or not, beauty is fleeting, oh girls, but a woman of godly character can change the world.

Xoxo

S

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Amazing Grace

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“You’re like God”.

His words took my breath away.

I had heard of kids saying similar things, but this was my kid and, well…quite frankly, he knew better. He had to be confused…or maybe I misled him. Man, did I ever mislead him!

My mind flooded with memories of all the mistakes I’d made in his short life. The time when I fed him sweets and then forgot to brush his teeth, and the time when I forgot to feed him at all. The numerous times he’d seen me lose my temper, raise my voice, or storm out frustrated.

He’d seen me rude.

He’d seen me impatient.

He’d seen me unkind.

Unloving.

Unforgiving.

He had to know I was imperfect in every way.

And I was his, “like God”?

In that moment, it was hard to imagine a less suitable comparison. This picture of an imperfect God my son had painted over a lifetime living with an imperfect mom had to be corrected. Still saturated from the flood of emotional memories, and barely audible,  my own voice somehow managed to reply simply:

“How so, babe?”

His answer challenged me.

“Well, you always love me. Even when I sometimes don’t listen, or I throw a fit. Or even if I have to go to time out, you always love me the same. That means you are like God. That’s the same as like he love’s me”.  And suddenly I understood.

Grace.

Favor unearned, undeserved, and inexplicable apart from a holy God.

It was grace.

My son wasn’t confused, nor was he misled into thinking his mommy was something more than what she was. He understood God was perfect and he wasn’t trying to create Him in my image the way I’d sometimes done when I loved something. To him, I am “like God”, because I am covered in grace.

And my love for my children is just a reflection.

If you do everything else wrong sweet mommas, do this right. Teach your children about grace. Teach them that it was by grace that they are saved (Eph 2:8-9), and that their confidence is found in it (2 Cor 1:12).  Tell them God is able to make all grace abound in them, that always having all sufficiency in everything, they will have an abundance of grace for every good thing they do (2 Cor 9:8). Teach them grace was given to each of us (Eph 4:7), that we are justified by it (Titus 3:7), and stewards of it (1 Peter 4:10).

Look, I know you have a lot of things you need to teach them. Teach them those things too! But teach them to value grace above those things. And if you do that, precious friends, your children wont just receive grace, they will distribute it.

And THAT has the power to change the world.

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” 1 Peter 1:2

Did this blog encourage you? Why not share it with a friend? And while you are here, you might also enjoy, Surviving Elly’s World.

Praying for you! That you will walk in grace, and that the world will know from where your confidence comes!

Surviving Elly’s World

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My daughter is driving me crazy.

(Disclaimer: I can say that, because I am her mom. If anyone else ever says she is anything less than freaking awesome, I’ll be doing prison ministry from the inside.)

She is driving me crazy.

Not angry…Like certifiably nuts!!!

One minute, I want to run and hide from her until she is five. Surely by five, she’ll have learned to use her words and not just scream her face off.

The next minute I am just in awe of her beautiful, spunky, adventurous self.

Elly see’s life through Crayola-colored glasses in a land where outside of the lines is exactly where beauty is meant to be. She’s fearless, fun, and confident in who she his. She is just the kind of little person part of me wishes I could be.

She has captured my heart in the most complicated ways!

And, to be honest, this roller coaster ride through toddlerville is stinkin’ exhausting!!!

I know I am supposed to be enjoying every second of being her mom, because tomorrow she’ll be getting married and I’ll long for all the extra excitement of the preschool years.

BUT… here is the thing,…I can’t think of tomorrow.

I can’t think past today… or even right now… and right now is hard.

I am not looking for well meaning parenting advice. I am in no position to hear it anyway. I would likely just smile and thank you, all the while fantasizing about punching you in the eye. You can try me again tomorrow. I am usually kinder tomorrow… you decide if that is a risk you are willing to take… I already told you I was crazy.

I also know my daughter might see this some day. And that in seeing this, she will know that she brought me more joy than I ever thought possible; but she was also my greatest challenge.

I hope she does see it.

In fact, I might print out a copy for her and hang it in her bedroom to remind her that mommy spent more than a few afternoons huddled in the corner doubtful I would make it through the day… but we always do.

Why would I want her to know that? Because I AM IN CRAZY MOMMA MODE that’s why!!!!

No… that’s a lie… half-truth.

I also want her to know because some day, if God wills, she might want to be a mommy! And she might have a baby who makes her question her parenting abilities… or even her mental stability. And I want her know that toddler mom me is rocking back and forth, biting her nails, and humming “Put on a Happy Face”.

I want her to know that I’ve been there.

And, I want her to know how God shows up every day and faithfully carries our family from one crazy, fun filled/nail biting/ sanity bending day to the next.

On the days I scream and holler, and then weep bitterly in my room ashamed of my behavior, His love covers me (1 Peter 4:8).

Then a week later, when…er, um… I do it again, His grace comforts me (Romans 8:1).

On the days when I swear one more game of hide and seek will literally kill me, He gives me strength (Isaiah 40:29).

And on the lonely days, and yep there are lonely days even in a house full of precious laughter, He is a friend (John 15:13-14).

On the days when tears fall freely from both our cheeks, He catches our tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8) and brings a peace that surpasses understanding (Phil 4:7).

On days when I don’t know what the heck I am doing, He guides me with wisdom and understanding, and I am blessed (Prov 3:13).

When fear creeps in, His love drives it right out. (1 John 4:18).

And on the days, and there are so many, when my heart feels like it will explode with joy and thankfulness for the gift of motherhood, He is here for that too (Psalm 16:9, 11).

But most of all, I want her know that He’ll be there for her. In the very moment she’ll need Him, He will show up. He will be there for her and give rest and encouragement just when she needs it.

Just like today.

And He’ll be there for you also.

“My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” Ex:33:14

To the mom’s who are hanging on by a thread, can I just be your friend? And as a friend, can I just tell you, you got this girl!

Our kids drive us crazy because we are crazy about them!!

And God is crazy about you!

He loves you so much He sent a Savior to die for you! And as if that wasn’t cool enough, that same power that raised Christ from the dead is living inside of you!! Tap into it daily, and you wont just be a good mom, you’ll be like super-mom…Jesus-momma! DANG!!

Now, if you’ll excuse me. I have a tea party to attend…

NOT A MOM???? The treasures of Jesus apply to every challenge you face, in every season of life. Take the Truth of God’s word and let it speak to the things that make you feel a little unglued. Tell us about them, I’d love to hear your story.

Praying for you this week. That you will find joy and rest in His presence.

xoxo,

S

Sooner than I am ready for

empty swingsToday I took my 6-year-old son to the park dressed like a Power Ranger. I suspect, this is the last time I will get to say that.

Today came sooner than I am ready for.

When we arrived at the park, several of the neighborhood boys were already there playing. Nicky, my son, said nothing, but his face said more than I was ready to hear. His private thoughts betrayed him as his cheeks flushed red-hot:

Why did I insist on wearing this costume?

What if they make fun of me?

Will they like me?

Will they accept me?

I admit, some of those questions might be projections of my heart, and worry for a son I can’t always shield. But that moment revealed a vulnerable side to my normally secure and wild-hearted little boy. Not surprisingly, after only a few minutes, the Power Ranger costume was off and in my hands. He played it cool, assuring me that it was the heat that demanded the wardrobe change and nothing more. But as he laid the costume on my lap and ran off to throw the football with his new friends, I couldn’t help but think,

“Lord, today came sooner than I am ready for”.

I wasn’t ready… I AM NOT READY to watch my son grow up right before my eyes. But today, I would have to learn to trust God with my oldest child because ready or not, he was growing up. I could actually imagine a day when my son would want to go to the park without me (shocking, I know). And it brought tears to my eyes to think of a day when I wouldn’t be his best friend, his confidant, or his playmate anymore. Oh I know I will always be his mother, and hopefully his most trusted advisor. And when he is grown, God willing, we will share a friendship that adults share with their grown kids. But these days, just as they are now, are numbered.

I wondered if I had poured enough of myself and of the Lord into his impressionable mind. Or even if having done my part would be enough to protect him and guide his decisions and choices. I wondered, just for a moment, if I could snatch him up, run home, change him into his footy pajamas and freeze time. I decided that might cause a scene.

I wondered if I could ever be ready.

Isn’t that just like life? One moment you are walking to the park in March with a 6-year-old blue Power Ranger, and the next moment you face the reality that nothing is in your control! And you’ve got to wonder, “Who is calling the shots here?” Honestly, if in those moments escaping reality were a practical, life-giving, option, the majority of us would run like mad! But neither you nor I can opt out of moments like these. Some lessons can only be learned by living them.

Maybe for you, it wasn’t your child growing up before your eyes that came sooner than you were ready for. Maybe it was something else. Bad news from a doctor, a death in the family, a relationship that seemed beyond repair, a job cut that stripped you of your financial security. Life is full of moments like these. Moments that demand our attention and remind us how our insufficient and feeble grasps on the world around us are just that: feeble and insufficient. These are the moments that will bring us to our knees saying:

“Lord, today came sooner than I am ready for.”

And it’s in these moments when God whispers in our ear:

“I know, but I am always ready.”

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I choose to trust the Lord in these moments. I rest, sometimes uneasily, but always assured, knowing that God is always in control. He is working today his plan for tomorrow! So what that means for you and me is this:

We can trust God for our today and believe Him for our tomorrow! His work is good and He has been busy!

Praying for you this week, that Christ would be more and more at home in your hearts, living inside you as you trust in Him! (Eph 3:17)

Please leave a comment, I love to hear from you! What are some moments in your life that came sooner than you were ready for?