To Be the Light [You Never Know]

The other day someone said to me, "I've never known someone who even considered suicide, nevermind someone who attempted suicide." She was shocked when I replied, "Yes, you have. You know me."

I know all too well the desolate mire of abject hopelessness that sucks your soul into utter, viscous darkness from which, it whispers, there is no escape. For me, the first time...and the second ... suicide wasn't an escape. When I was in that place, I was sure I would remain there for eternity, including in death. I was, after all, already in hell. Suicide was a way to save everyone else from me - the one thing I could do so that I could stop hurting everyone I loved. Reason couldn't reach me there. Consumed by darkness, I forgot the existence of light.

I was blessed to have light-bringers in my life who shined their love - and God's love - into my darkness, urging my reluctant mind and spirit toward healing. Friends and family and even strangers  showed patie…

To Give Up Hugging

In looking for information on a national youth gathering, I came across an online group discussing the particulars of the gathering. One post caught my eye and broke my heart.

There are youth who attend this gathering wearing "Free Hugs" t-shirts. Offering hugs to passersby, I imagine they put smiles on many people's faces. I have a child with a Free Hugs t-shirt of his own, who is big on giving hugs, and would love to accept a hug from one or more of these huggers. I also have a hug avoider, who is very adept at avoiding hugs. 

However, there seem to be those who see danger in this practice. They quote statistics about sexual predators and claim that this practice puts their youth at risk. Some have gone so far as to ban their youth from hugging people at the gathering. It's just too dangerous.

Before I say more, I want to preface what I'm going to say by admitting that I am a survivor of sexual abuse. For a very long time, people touching me even in small, harmles…

To Give Up the Mask

To be honest, I'm not doing well today. 

By not doing well, I mean I'm in so much pain that it's literally driving me insane. My head is pounding from a migraine. My body is in so much pain that there isn't a single position into which I can get that lessens my pain. I had to decide between vicodin and ibuprofen, and not waiting to make the migraine worse, chose ibuprofen, hoping it would take the edge off the pounding. No such luck. My liver can't handle any more pain meds, so that's it for the day. 

It's a snow day. A cozy day. A day when my entire family is home. I'd rather be doing awesome things with them than laying in bed in misery. 

And I'd rather be finishing putting away groceries, cleaning up the dining room / kitchen area and getting my son's computer area and my daughter's physical therapy areas set up properly. I'd love to organize my clothing, reorganize homeschool and craft supplies, and otherwise get my house in order. And …

To Give Up Embarrassment

Two of my children and I attended a performance of Lion King Kids, performed by fifth graders at Polk school in Oakville, CT. The students all put on a wonderful performance, but one child stood out above the others.

This tiny girl obviously went to many rehearsals. She knew all the songs and was confident in the arm motions that accompanied them. The joy she exuded verse after verse, song after song, was contagious. Her passion for musical theater - or at least for this play - was evident.

And she wasn't even in the cast.

This precious child stood on her mom's lap, danced in the aisle, absorbing every note into her being and expressing them with unbound delight. Some might have found this distracting or even annoying, but not me. It was a pleasure to watch her fully enveloping herself in the show, not a criticism or thought of anything extraneous thing crossing her mind, I'm sure. The embodiment of sheer enjoyment, planted a huge smile on my face, and the faces of all who ch…

To Give Up Guilt

I try my best not to spend more money than necessary on, well, anything, and to be as environmentally friendly as I can. We shop in thrift stores. I keep track of prices for things in the grocery store and shop multiple stores to get the lowest price on things whenever possible. I am willing to spend more on a good quality item that will last rather than needing to replace an item more often. I research products before I make major - and sometimes even minor - purchases to make sure I'm getting my money's worth. And I don't usually buy things I don't need.

However, I do buy shredded cheese rather than shredding my own.

This became a hot topic in an online conscious consumer group of which I'm a member. When a chronically ill person posted that they take shortcuts such as buying shredded cheese instead of purchasing block cheese and shredding it themselves, and asked if other chronically ill people did similar in order to balance being a mindful consumer with meeting…

To Give Up Control

My van's transmission and my left sacroiliac joint went out on the same day.

I admit that in the moment I realized that a fix for my van would most likely be more than we could afford and a fix for my hip would not be forthcoming, I had a brief cry in my driveway. I was overwhelmed in the moment, but at peace when I realized that help and support were just a couple phone calls away.

With a busy long weekend including Alia's birthday, homeschool co-op and Arts Response rehearsal on Friday; Mainstage rehearsal and birthday party on Saturday, and worship, birthday lunch, rehearsal, and Arts Response on Sunday, we formulated a plan that involved too much driving on Friday and renting an "economy car" for the weekend. We were blessed when the "economy car" was upgraded for free to an extra large SUV, which worked wonderfully. We had an amazing weekend, during which I relied on crutches to get around and did my best to ignore the pain.

Monday morning brought excruci…

Giving Up Lent

Each Lent I take up rather than give up. I find taking up a practice that helps me become a better person or that spreads some love ... or both ... works better for me than giving up something for Lent. 

Except this Lent. 

This Lent, I'm giving up.

I'm giving up being down on myself when I don't get the things done that I want to do in a day.

I'm giving up worrying about things I can't control. 

I'm giving up putting pressure on myself to write more, do more, have a cleaner house, be more organized, and all the things that take away from me saying yes when my children ask me to do something with them. 

I'm giving up feeling like I should be contributing financially to my family, as it's just not possible for me to be gainfully employed at this point in time and it's a full time job managing my health. 

I'm giving up trying to explain myself to people who only want to convince me that they are right and that they know better than I do about myself or my…