Tag Archives: anxiety

Pausing for Gratitude

The final days of January are dwindling down—a month I went into with a lot of question marks and a strange cocktail of dread, anxiety and hope. But here I am on the other side, happy to report that I survived. We all survived. (I know most of you never doubted we would, but I did.)

In marked contrast to the swirl of emotions I carried into the month, I find myself with only one overpowering everything else now: overwhelming gratitude. Deep, deep wells of thanks.

IMG1565My daughter had surgery the very first week of the year. Of course, there are so many emotions that come with something like this, but there was one I didn’t allow myself to voice in all the weeks leading up to it. I was really afraid of being alone. We were expecting to be in the hospital 2-3 days, but my husband was only going to be able to be off work one day. And every time I thought about sitting there alone, I cried. But I didn’t want to say anything because I knew we couldn’t afford for him to take any more days off work, and I didn’t feel like I had anyone else I could ask to come be with me.

On New Year’s Day, my dad mentioned to me that he was planning to be at the hospital the day of the surgery, to be there for his grand baby and in case we needed anything. And I finally had the courage to ask, to say that I was more worried about being alone the day after her surgery and if he could only come one day, could he come then? He didn’t hesitate, just said, “I’ll be there.” I could have sobbed with relief.

Truthfully, I didn’t know what to expect. Would he come for just a little bit? Would he only come one day? I didn’t know, but it was enough knowing he would come.

We ended up in the hospital a total of 3 days, and my dad was there for each one. He came in the morning, and he stayed until my husband came in the evening. One night, he stayed even longer because his granddaughter asked him to stay and watch a movie, and of course, his abuelo-heart couldn’t resist! He made sure I had coffee, and he made sure I ate. His mere presence was so indescribably calming to me. There were so many little things, little moments that might not have meant anything to anyone else, but they meant everything to me.

IMG1571He was the first one to coax a smile out of my baby girl post-surgery when he showed up with this balloon whose picture bore an uncanny resemblance to our dog.

When she wouldn’t eat, he’s the one who thought to buy some strawberries from the frozen yogurt place, and she devoured them—practically the only solid food she ate for 3 days. He helped me get her to move and get around so we could actually be released from the hospital.IMG1568

But more than anything else, he was the presence and nearness of God to me in a situation when I desperately needed my own heart to be seen. And because my Papa saw me, I knew God saw me. The intense comfort of this has lingered with me even to this moment when my eyes are blurring with tears yet again over the wonder and unconditional love of it all.

When we finally got home, I started to get overwhelmed with the thought of needing to not only take care of my recovering child, but also my son who would still be full of energy. And everyone would need to be fed. But when my mom showed up to bring my little man home, she came with bags of groceries—things to put together easy, healthy meals for a few days. She had already sent a container of soup with my dad one day, thinking ahead and making a double batch one night as she’d fixed dinner. And just like that, another burden was lifted off my shoulders.

My son can still be quite clingy to his mommy, and I was worried how the separation would affect him while we were in the hospital. But my mom and brother loved him on so much, so extravagantly, that he was more than fine—he was so secure and so seen. He came home bubbling over and amazingly prepared to be patient and gracious to his sister.

I am still in awe of the way my parents wrapped my little family in so much love. I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise; they’ve always been pretty wonderful, and my own mama-bear heart would do anything for my own kids. But still it humbled me and touched me in a way I don’t even really have words for.

I am reminded all over again of the sustaining power of love. My parents didn’t have any power to change what we had to walk through, but they loved us through it. They saw the needs, and they did what they could do. And it did more than keep me surviving; it challenged and inspired my heart to new depths of loving people.

IMG1575If that wasn’t enough, women from my writing community—some of whom I’d never even met or interacted with much before—showered my daughter with art supplies so she could do what she loved while she went through her recovery. Daily, when she pulls these things out, she marvels that people who don’t even know her loved her enough to do this; she is also getting a glimpse of how far love can reach.

So here we are, on the other side of it all. And I am grateful that we were not alone, that love appeared in extravagant and unexpected ways. I thought I’d be trying to mostly block this month from my memory, but instead, I am tucking it away to treasure.

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Filed under Love, Motherhood, Presence

On Being and Breathing

Image Source: CreationSwap.com

Image Source: CreationSwap.com

Another Monday morning has arrived.

I sit with my coffee, savoring the last remaining moments of silence, mindful of the distant sounds of little ones stirring.

I have filled my morning pages–dumped all the thoughts spinning through my head onto paper. I have updated my planner, reviewed my to do list for the day.

And I become aware of the beast lurking in the shadows, the Anxiety that wants to sink his claws into my day before it really begins. This week is too full already, an abnormally demanding and irregular schedule, thrown off course by the unwanted presence of medical tests and doctor appointments that I wish I could forget or erase from the calendar. But they are there, and they need to be if we are to find answers as to what has been troubling my little girl’s health this summer.

I breathe.

There is a deliberate choice in this moment–to become overwhelmed or to simply be. This choice will face me many more times today, many more times this week. I hope I choose well.

To simply be: to acknowledge what is beyond my control and then release it, to be as faithful as I know how with what I can control, to set my gaze on the Beauty and not on the Anxiety, to remember to breathe and pause for moments of silence in order to discern the voice of Hope from among all the others.

This quote was shared with me by someone, somewhere, many months ago, and it has become a constant reminder to still my heart and refocus my gaze:

The whole world roars with subtle whispers of [you could be great if you would just hustle a little more.] And God simply breathes: [Let Me be great. You just go and be.]  -Lori Harris

This is my choice today, to pull back from the hustle and lean into the Being–His Being where in turn I find my own.

I do not know what your Monday holds, if you are refreshed or if you are weary, if you are hopeful or if you are heavy. But may I offer this suggestion? Pause and breathe. Not merely the mindless breaths you will take as you do every day to ensure your survival. A deliberate moment of silencing all the other voices. A choice to breathe in grace and exhale the burdens. Do it as many times throughout your day as it takes. The nagging voices telling you that you are not enough unless you strive and do better and perform? Those are not the voices of One who loves you. When He calls you higher, He does it with an affirmation of your worth and a reminder of His greatness.

Breathe. Be. And may your week be filled with the beauty of grace.

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Filed under Beauty, Hope, Presence

Hello, Spring

Photo by Jennifer Upton

Photo by Jennifer Upton

Today is officially the first day of spring.  Granted, with bi-polar Texas weather this isn’t always as significant as we would like it to be.  But still, it’s a day I’ve been looking forward to ever since packing up the Christmas decorations.

I have made a tradition of celebrating all the solstices and equinoxes for a lot of years now.  It started with small things I did for myself while I was still in college – a pumpkin spice latte on the first day of autumn or a pedicure for the first day of summer.  But when I had children, it became even more important to me – partly because I always love a chance to have a mini holiday, but more because there is a lesson I want to teach them and remind myself of at the same time.

Life is an ever-revolving cycle of seasons.  The way things are now is not the way things will always be.  This is our hope in the hard seasons and our anxiety in the good ones, but the hope can be increased and the anxiety decreased if we embrace this truth instead of warring against it.  Wherever you find yourself right now, it is only a season.

Every season has its beauty, and every season has its pain.  Where we place our focus determines how our hearts will be marked when the seasons change.

While autumn is my favorite season to linger in (um, because all things pumpkin and boots and scarves!), there is no change I love more than the change from winter to spring.  It is the most hopeful of all the seasons – the promise that dead things can live again, the power of light and warmth softening what is frozen and hard.  So today I slowed down, drew my family in close.  We chose plants and turned soil with our hands.  We walked under the sunlight and ate ice cream.  We rested, and I felt myself pushing back against the fog of discouragement that has come too close too many times in recent months.

In a few short months, we will pause again to bask in the arrival of summer (which will most likely also involve ice cream).  And in spite of the miserable heat we’ll have to endure, we’ll find things to celebrate.

We will.  Because it’s a choice we make.  I remind myself today.  I declare it over your weary heart today.  It is a season, and it will pass.  And we will live, not only to tell about it, but to flourish in the new seasons that follow.

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Filed under Beauty, Faith, Hope