Delivery

I took a break the other day, and it was very, very needed. Suffice to say that I brought myself to a new low, one that I did not realize I was capable of spiraling into, a new level of exhaustion that I had previously left untapped… It makes me wonder about even lower levels, but that would be another exploration into anxiety, and I need no more of that.

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So I took a day… I was given a day. And, it was so, so needed.

And, I suppose that I should clarify and say that it wasn’t a whole day. It was really just a morning because after that I worked eight hours on my schoolwork to prepare for the following day because I felt that that might also help me to calm my brain, if I finished a few tasks.

So I took the morning. And I ran. (I HATE running…) I slept in, I cuddled up to my husband a little, and then I laced up my tennis shoes, and I RAN, and I breathed, and I RAN… And before I had left on this run, my head was feeling still pretty cloudy, but I had learned that it was my dear friend’s induction day, and she was in a lot of pain too, of a very different sort.

So, I took my phone with me, and I RAN.

And what I felt almost immediately was relief. Warmth on my skin, energy in my legs, calm in my head, and focus because all that I had to do was let the music flow into my ears, keep my eyes mostly open, and just keep running forward. That was it. Keep pressing on toward the goal… and that day my only goal was to GET OUT of my mind and RUN.

I didn’t run the whole time. Let’s not pretend that I’m some sort of athletic prodigy (that’s almost laughable!). But it felt good, and at times, I closed my eyes, and I sang out loud, and I pressed on and challenged myself to keep going. And I prayed for myself and for my friend.

“God, help us in this. Help us to get through this. Help me to get through this. Lord, I’m so tired and so confused, and I just want to be able to focus, to get through this day with clarity. I just want peace, Lord. Help me, help me, help me.” And I cried out in my mind to Him as the music pounded in my ears and my tennis shoes pounded on the asphalt. “We look to Yahweh, Yahweh! […] And He will reign forever, He will reign forever, HE WILL REIGN for-EVER and EVER!”

God spoke through my headphones via his people in Hillsong. Keep going. He’s with you. He’s yours. You are HIS. Your brokenness does not define you. You can emerge from this darkness. He is with you. He is WITH YOU! He is WITH you!

My feet kept going and my heart kept pounding and my ears kept singing and soon my mouth was singing his praises, out loud in my neighborhood, past the tennis courts and around the bends and up the hills and on the sidewalks past the streets and into a field. I watched the leaves fall, yellow and dying, onto the ground, and I prayed in my head, “Not yet, Lord. No, not yet. While I still have breath, I will praise you.” And I thought of Erika and Justin and baby Shepherd Alexander, and I prayed for them too. “She is yours, God. He is yours. That baby is yours, God. Help her through it. Bring life. While we still have breath, let us praise you. All of our energy and our might and and our breath is for you, God.”

And soon I came to a field, and I felt I should slow. Or dance.

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So, I jogged in a few funny circles, and I tried to decide whether to keep singing aloud or twirl in circles, to make myself even more undignified than this… to revel in this freedom.

I looked around to see if anyone was around, but the trees were high and shielding this place, so I just sat down. And Hillsong sang on, “My hiding place, my safe refuge, my treasure, Lord, you are. My friend and King, Anointed One, Most Holy.”

The words subsided and the music lingered in my ears, lulling me… so I texted Erika some words from the Lord that I was receiving too, and I lied down on the asphalt with my eyes turned up toward the blue sky, and I closed them too. I let the heat and exhaustion of my body fade as my chest rose and fell, and I let the sweat pour down my face and the world swirl around me, and I allowed the words to sink in. “I will exalt you… I will exalt you… I will exalt you. You are my God.” And after a few minutes, my eyes opened and adjusted again to the day I was given, and I stood up stronger. I breathed in, I breathed out. I breathed in, I breathed out. I looked around. And someone else was coming, now, after my respite. So, I turned and walked up a VERY steep hill (that didn’t feel quite as difficult as it usually does), and I walked home.

I showered, got some grub, and I got to work. And I wasn’t perfectly healed, but I was IMMENSELY better than I had been. And each day since has been a little better as I have learned to rest and to start my days with grace and a good Word.

Each day has been a struggle lately. Some worse than others. Fear and anxiety and confusion has overtaken me. It almost felt like it took my under. But, I’m emerging, delivered, just like beautiful Shepherd Alexander did that day, at 1:50pm (just shortly after I finished nourishing my body with a good meal), and he was 7 lbs, 13 oz, and 20.5 inches long.

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He is gentle as a shepherd and strong through his King, just like me. He has weaknesses and fears and need of care, just like me. But he has a Redeemer like me, a God who does not hear his people cry out continually, over and over in anguish and despair, and not answer. Our God is a restorer, a hiding place, a safe refuge, and we will exalt Him, Shep and I. And his parents and their families too. We will cry out into the world and find the Lord drawing near, and we will find peace and deliverance, again and again. We will emerge into the world stronger and braver because of our strong, strong God. We will fight, and He will redeem us. We will be brought to places of peace of respite. We will carry on. I’m trusting that today.

971791_10103708366006674_616554872_n“I will exalt you. I will exalt you. I will exalt you. You are my God.” It’s been ringing in my ears for days.

I will exalt you, God. You are my God, indeed. I will try to get my mind out of the stubborn place where it lies and the overworked, perfection-laden spiral it shatters into, and I will try to trust you, to exercise my faith in you, to believe you when you say, REST, before I am brought low. To believe your commands and follow them. I’m trying God. I know you’ll stay with me. You are near, God. You are mine. I am yours. I am your joy and your crown, whom you love and long for. And I will try not to be anxious about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present my requests before you, and your peace, which transcends all understanding will guard my heart and my MIND in Christ Jesus.

Yes, Lord. Yes, Lord. Amen.

Thank you.

Now, I’m ready to take on this day.

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And then I Hit a Wall…

This is the part that they don’t describe in fairy tales. You know, after the “happily ever after” and the one year party for your business, and after the lights dim and the cameras stop rolling, and all of the sudden you feel completely exhausted and overwhelmed, and you find yourself sinking onto the kitchen floor with your back against a cabinet crying to your husband on the phone because you can’t think straight…

Not like I’m using a personal example or anything.

Don’t feel sorry for me. I mean, do, but don’t. We’ve all been there. You have really difficult things going on in your life too. It’s not just me… It’s just one of those nights. The deep breaths and the hour nap I took and the just-pushing-through-it didn’t work, and so here I am, feeling drained and scattered and like my synapses are firing so fast that I can’t keep up.

I have so much to do that I’m completely halted. It’s like my brain is in fog, and I can’t reach out to see what’s in front of me. I can’t organize anything. I start doing something, and I stop short because I can’t even remember what I was wanting to do 10 seconds ago. “What was it again? Wait… that thing, no that thing… no, I don’t think it was…” and finally 30 seconds later, I’ve realized what it was, but then I’m thinking of 10 more things.

I’m tired. My brain is tired. And here I am, not checking things off of my list right now, but writing. Because something about writing calms me. It helps me to … breathe… in, out, in, out… write, reread, edit, reflect, revise… in, out, in, out…

Crying helps too. When I was a little girl (because I’ve always worked myself into a frenzy and burned the candle at both ends), I used to cry and cry and work myself into a sweaty mess in my parents’ arms, and then they said that I’d just pass out. In college, I would cry and cry and then run laps around the Stankowski track, and that’s saying something, because I HATE running. Sweaty mess again… But something about exhausting yourself is helpful. And restarting in the morning is helpful. Making your brain focus on ONE thing and one thing only and quieting the voices that keep telling you that life is too much… it helps.  Thank goodness for sleep and new mornings.

But for now, I’m just coping with a to-do list. And, I don’t expect you to call me or email me. That might actually stress me out more because then I feel like I need to call or email back, and I’ll guilt-trip myself more about what I haven’t been doing enough of. But, if you’re a praying person, that helps.

I read an excerpt from Jesus Calling just a bit ago, and today’s message said basically, “Hey, I’m here. I can heal you. All you have to do is ask.”

And I felt like, “Duh…” and also, “THANK YOU!” and I sent out a quick, “Help me, help me, heal me” prayer. And I feel a little better.

I have a lot to do, and I’m sure at some point I’ll have more eloquent things to say about this feeling and about how fairy tales are incredible and can really happen, but that the fairy isn’t a fairy, He’s God, and he doesn’t just give you bliss and then leave you there in blissfulness unending (at least until heaven). We’ve got work to do and lessons to learn and people to encourage, and there’s real evil in the world. But for now, I’ll just leave it at this…

I am living a fairy tale, because I know whose I am, and I’m given abundant blessings, but this fairy tale isn’t for the perfect person. It’s for the faint of heart, for the downtrodden, for the achiever and the hopeless and the one who can’t do it right. It’s for me, the overworking “I wish I could do everything” and well-intentioned person who just keeps hitting her head against the wall sometimes. My fairy tale includes brokenness and healing, and it’s supposed to be that way, this side of heaven, but some nights are really hard. And some nights are really exhausting.

So, that’s that. And now, I need to go get a heck of a lot of work done, and finish eating my now-cold noodle soup, because I needed some comfort food tonight, and I didn’t feel like I had the energy to cut up vegetables. (Don’t judge me. I know it’s hot in St. Louis.)

I hope that you’re experiencing some refreshing and blessing tonight. And if you don’t feel like you are, at least take comfort in the fact that it’s not just you. And that all you have to do is remember that God’s there, and He can heal you, and all that you have to do is ask.

Amen. Good night.

Praying while Pooping [because both were overdue]

Okay, I’ll spare you the poopy details… but let’s just say that I’m in a season of life right now where I’m thankful for a few moments to myself to take care of business… whether that be Godly or bodily.

So, I suppose that it’s right and fitting that I’m waking up earlier than everyone else as of late (everyone being Brian and Brooklyn) to take care of things… like praying and pooping. Not that I can’t do those things when they’re awake, but yesterday at the shop, I was waiting for a customer to leave the store, then B needed to use the restroom, then he asked me to run across the street to get a gift card for a friend’s wedding celebration, and then I said, “NO! Not yet!” and ran into that bathroom-turned-sanctuary before anything else could claim my time. This is life… 😉

If you have children, (or if you’re a teacher like me or in the medical profession, perhaps), I’m sure that you know this feeling well. You’re just thankful to remember at the end of the day that you actually had to pee five hours ago, and you’re trying to remember more often and more quickly so that you don’t develop “teacher bladder” and start early incontinence at a not-so-far-off date.

I remember dancing just inside my classroom door this past year during MAP testing and peeking out the blinds for a principal or a counselor or support staff or someone (JUST SOMEONE!) to walk by so that I could hop to the restroom. I’d smile at that kid behind me as they looked up at me for assurance. That one would raise his hand… and I’d walk carefully over to answer his question and hope that I didn’t fart next to his desk… Back to the blinds. Look nonchalant. Anyone there?!? [*sheer panic hidden by a trained exterior*] Yep… that happened. **it happens.

My friend over at More from the Mohrs (Click here! They’re amazing!) posted the other day on Facebook,

My dreams have been reduced to just hoping to go to the bathroom uninterrupted one day… #motherhood #dreambig

I get it. We’re thankful for our lots. So thankful. There is life where there was not life before. I’m busy, which is probably really good in this season of grief and joy all mixed together (every season?)… it’s just comical… and at times exhausting.

The other night, I lay over-wearied in my bed. I was so happy to lie down. My back ached. Their hearts hurt. I couldn’t form the words that I wanted to type. Brian was going to be a few minutes after me coming home, with Brooklyn. And I ended up writing poetry, which is much more rare than prose… but the words and lines came out disjointed and harsher than I had meant. The aching was taking over, negatively. And I had to remember that doctors will tell you that the pain and the pleasure points in your body are quite closely connected. That sometimes, when it feels really painful, if you can just push through, you’ll see the joy on the other side.

Take this tangible example: I hate to get my legs massaged because it hurts so badly. But actually, what’s worse (first) is that they’re intensely ticklish… and that’s my body’s way of fending off attention. “Don’t touch here! You won’t be able to handle it!” “Nope! Bad idea!” my body screams! When actually, if I relent and grip the massage table for a few extra seconds and tell the massage therapist not to mind my squirming and uncontrollable laughing and spasms of “Oh, my gosh! Okay… that’s fine. Nope, okay… I can’t stand it!” “No, really, I can. Sorry! Oh, geez!”…. that actually the “pain” and intense giggling and tears-squirting-out out of desperation will actually give way to the best leg-soothing, muscle-relaxing massage that I’ve ever gotten, if I’ll only just relent.

So, I decided to try some soothing and see what happened the other night. I stayed up later than I wanted to, because all I really, really wanted was to curl up on my bed with my face smooshed in that wonderful pillow that Brian introduced to me in college (stealing someone’s pillows, much?), and I would have just sunk right in and never wanted to come out… but as fate would have it, I couldn’t sleep. And that’s weird. Because I can always sleep. I could sleep curled up under a subway bench at the busiest time of day, given the right fetal-position and warmth. I could sleep in that bush, on a walk home from wherever, and I won’t even have alcohol in my system! And it’s like 2pm in broad daylight! … I could sleep on your most uncomfortable chair, or at a rock concert (yes, that’s happened, several times), or on your dog or your sleepy, sweaty face… but in my exhaustion the other night, I couldn’t sleep…

so I relented…

And I drew a bath, and I began to marinate… and God brought me relief and hot tissue-massage and a lovely peaceful thirty minutes or so… and also inspiration…

and when I got out of the now-cold-water, I had a new novel idea that I couldn’t wait to sketch out and put to note-form before it slipped out of my mind. In fact, I should probably take baths more often because that’s where my last novel idea was born… in a notebook, bathtub-side, trying not to get the notebook pages wet while I scribbled and sketched furiously.

That’s my spot, maybe… well, that and the bathroom. Apparently, I pray there. That’s where this blog idea spawned, today.

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(It’s a tshirt… for realz)

So, whether you’re near a bath or a bathroom, or you’re not, take a few moments and get what you need. Ruminate on your day, fizzle some ideas, excrete some not-welcomed thoughts, use that think-tank, rage against that latrine…

…or reach up in prayer from your body and bowel-laden position, and find some relief.  Because apparently those doctors are right… pain and pleasure are closely connected. Grief and joy are inter-mixable and can be experienced simultaneously and with depth of both. And I’m just trying to make sense of this world and its height and its humor while holding on to Him… and God’s bringing me prayer… and pooping.

Amen?