Thursday, August 27, 2015

Do you Believe it or Not?

I have a confession: I felt safe in the NICU. It was frightening at first. At first, I wept when Steve left and when my mom left. There I was. However, soon, the staff helped gird me up. I wasn't alone. I have another confession to make:  I wasn't relying on God. I was relying on my own strength. I did good too. While my ego soars, knowing this, my spirit is yet to even surface. I went into self-protection mode. I have aged 10 years, in 6 months. I left the NICU and there was no one to pat me on the back and hug me and credit me for my strength. Confession #3: Coming home has been the hardest part of the entire adventure. So many things to face. My husband who wanted everything to go back the way things were before Nov. 2 [and if I am honest, things changed drastically inside of me when I realized I was pregnant], a community I didn't know with no close friends - friendly people yes! But you know what I am saying when I say that my friends are miles away or in the community we left 3 months before we found ourselves expecting our Katie, there are countless other details and demands that were to come. And the criticism and judgment for how I handled things from those that "love" me. I went from  the doctors and nurses, on two different occasions, asking me how they could clone me as a model NICU mom to......nothing. The day before Katie was discharged, the nurse practitioner and nurse played a joke to lock me in Katie's room once I arrived at the NICU that morning, to never let me go. That felt really good. There was none of that from anyone but my mom. I don't say this for sympathy. I say this because I need to be honest with myself. With my readers. And I know my punctuation sucks - oh well. In case you don't know me well, this is what I feed on. I feed on affirmation, on proving myself to those I deem "better" than me in whatever is at task. As a child, it was being the teacher's pet. In my music passion, it was to get lead roles and accolades for playing my instrument and choir. My favorite teacher in high school offered to walk me out on Senior Parents night for football. My mom was not a sports person and my dad was not around. I was our football manager. It meant so much that a male teacher [never inappropriate by the way] would see that much in me and be willing to stand in front of our school and say, I will escort this girl out, on the football field. It meant so much that he was proud of me..and he was my teacher....truly my favorite teacher. I didn't allow him that because it was enough to me that he believed in me to offer. Do you see my theme? I am fueled from gaining approval from those that I desperately want it from. Every job I have had, I was promoted. When there is no way, I make a way. I am tired. I am weary. I feel old and worn down.
Here we are 9 months later..................
We visited a church a couple months ago which we have committed to attend regularly, starting Sunday. At that service, I heard worship music that moved me. It caused stirrings I haven't felt in 15 years. I realized that while my blog is called "Hallelujah Mama" my husband doesn't even know the vessel I used to be and the passion I had for Jesus. For God. For the Holy Spirit using me. My kids don't know that my favorite thing in the world is to sing. To be with like-minded believers and have a jam session and see what happens. It has been really eating at me. It would be like our kids never knowing that their daddy is a Cubs fan. One afternoon, after coming back from vacation which fell short of what I pictured as "vacation".....I stumbled on a song called "Forever" by Kari Jobe on YouTube. There is a line, "Now death where is your sting? Our resurrected King has rendered you defeated! [into chorus] Forever He is glorified! Forever He is lifted high! Forever He is risen! He is alive!" I started to weep. To cry like I haven't in months....maybe years. This question pierced through my mind, "Do you believe it or not??" I started to think about that. If death has no sting - and He has overcome for me, then why do I carry so much pain? Right after that question, the next song was another Kari Jobe song called, "I Am Not Alone". For a bit of humor, said in my best Eliza Doolittle voice, "This song done me in!"

Read these lyrics:

I Am Not Alone

By Kari Jobe
When I walk through deep waters
I know that You will be with me
When I'm standing in the fire
I will not be overcome
Through the valley of the shadow
I will not fear
I am not alone
I am not alone
You will go before me
You will never leave me
In the midst of deep sorrow
I see Your light is breaking through
The dark of night will not overtake me
I am pressing into You
Lord, You fight my every battle
And I will not fear
You amaze me
Redeem me
You call me as Your own
You're my strength
You're my defender
You're my refuge in the storm
Through these trials
You've always been faithful
You bring healing to my soul
For non-commercial use only.
For non-commercial use only.
Data from: LyricFind 
I mean seriously....all the approval I wanted...from people....what's it matter? I have been accepted by the Most High and He has never failed me. He never will fail me. In fact, He thinks I am awesome just the way I am. He doesn't want anything from me but relationship. He is my Healer. He is the balm I need to fix my brokenness. I feel broken. I don't know when I'll stop crying. I don't know when I will feel "normal". I'd like to think that all this breaking down is my new normal. I have been craving a depth from life I haven't experienced....this is just the beginning.
After hearing those songs and having this feeling wash over me, I remembered many years ago when I had to be tough as nails as a property manager for low-income housing. I had to evict people. I had to get in people's faces to keep our properties safe. I had to be in partnership with the police department because I was known as the "cleaner-upper", to the property management firm I worked for. The picture that flashed, in my mind's eye was when I had to go to court for any reason, I was always nervous, not because I was afraid I wouldn't get the judgment but because someone had to find a new place to live because I was doing my job. I stood alone, in front of a judge, across from a person that would have to find a new place to live. We didn't hire attorneys for evictions. I had to follow the procedures, the paperwork filed, evidence in my file to present to the magistrate. As long as I had my "ducks in a row"....I won or was given the judgment in favor of the property. It really was a simple process. 1,2,3, judgment granted. I didn't express anything but facts. I never had emotion during these proceedings. I felt like God was showing me that as long as I rest on him, praise Him [not only when trauma is in my face], keep my heart clean - He's got me. He's got whatever I am facing. Rest. Rest. Rest. I am re-training my brain to rest. Every day, I have a tally list a mile long of what I must do and accomplish to prove to Steve that I do stuff as a stay at home mom. I am throwing it out. I need rest. God's got me. He's got all of us. I have all I need because the spirit of Jesus is alive and lives in me. I am not alone because the lover of my soul, the Father of Lights resides in me. On my own strength, I am weary. In Jesus, I have rest and refreshment and youth. I don't feel this yet. That's ok. I will.
I am sorry if this sounds like gibberish....but it's why I haven't posted in a couple weeks. I couldn't do small talk when I feel like after all the medical procedures I have had the past now, feels like, rhetorically speaking, I am in open heart surgery. All is well. Please pray for me. There is an awful lot of hurt coming to the surface. Hurt that goes back to my youth. I know that there is freedom. My kids are doing great. Really great. Bringing Katie home had been, up til now, about getting the kids stabilized and thriving, which they are. Now, I feel it's time to take care of me. Thank you for your love, for your prayers and for your kindness.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Packing and ......Unpacking

Good morning friends! My family and I are leaving for our first family vacation soon. I wanted to post before we do to let you know I will post regularly again, when we return. Is there anything better than when your husband comes home the night before and you know he's with you for the next 6 days? We leave for vacation tomorrow, but everything instantly relaxed and changed in our atmosphere when Dad came home last night. Vacation began, even though, it's crazy packing and preparing. By the way, a difference I have noticed between baby girls and boys is the packing process. I had to pull out my bottle of Peace&Calming and inhale, as I was choosing which adorable outfits to pack for Katie. I didn't do that for the boys when we packed to go somewhere. I chose outfits that I didn't care if they dumped red kool-aid on. I always packed one "good" outfit, expecting it would need replaced along the trip. Packing for Katie, I feel like I am preparing a trunk show for Paris. I have agonized over the cutest tops and dresses and head bands, tutus and ruffles on bums, to please perfect strangers that may gaze upon my gorgeous girl. Who am I? It cracks me up.

I have read that the way to grow a blog is to know who your audience is. I have no idea who my audience is. I am writing organically, as I feel it. I started this blog post 2 hours ago and it went to a very different topic about life after the NICU, following the above paragraph. I can't post all that. It needs some work. I think a lot of it was really for my journal. I think it is time to accept that I am dealing with PTSD. Bear with me folks. I feel really weird that this adventure of my daughter being born was hardest on her, she overcame so much- and she is absolutely perfect and yet....all the unraveling I am still is weird indeed. I feel like her birth has brought me new life, in more ways than her own life. I feel like the dogma of my life has been exposed and I see it. I feel like the relationships, in my life, I see in a very different light, the light of what they are. Some relationships have blossomed and I wonder what I did to deserve such good friends. Some relationships I am seeing for the first time and realizing they are not what I thought they were - and for those, I am coming to peace to say, "It's all good."  And it is really hard for me to express myself in any form than writing. I tried holding an intelligent conversation with two people in a coffee shop last week - I walked away feeling quite embarrassed. Words from my tongue are not in sync with my brain. Please don't hold it against me, when you are used to me prattling on and on and being jovial and ready to fill dead air with something. I am loving the sound of silence these days. With that...I must get ready for our trip. It's exactly what we need.

xoxo -Beth