Welcome to my musings...

After a 3 year hiatus from blogging (too busy parenting teens to have time to write about it!), I have decided to revive my blog. I look forward to sharing my perspective on mothering as I am at the tail end of my child-raising journey. Nothing could be more beautiful, more full of joy and pain and anguish, than the divine calling of motherhood. I pray my musings will bless you on your own journey, and that you will feel encouraged and equipped!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

When Pollyanna Gets Depressed

During my childhood, there was a popular movie by Disney called “Pollyanna”.  It was based on a 1913 novel by Eleanor H. Porter and was a wonderful story of a little girl named Pollyanna.  After being orphaned, she goes to live with her stern, spinster aunt, who doesn’t quite know how to cope with Pollyanna’s sunny outlook on life.  When bad things befall Pollyanna, she always manages to see the good in something; for instance, when her aunt sticks her in a cold and barren attic room, she raves about the beautiful view out of the high windows.  When being sent to the kitchen for a dinner of bread and milk with the servant Nancy as punishment, Pollyanna thanks her aunt profusely, for she loves bread and milk and Nancy!  All of my life, I’ve been what most people would term a “Pollyanna”, and this was a favorite movie of mine as a child.  I usually see the good in people and am able to find some joy in most situations.  On those overwhelmingly bad days, I’ve been known to say, “Things always look better in the morning.”  When faced with difficult seasons, I quote my mother, “This, too, shall pass!”  Almost always, after a good night’s sleep (and maybe a little chocolate!), things look better and my hope and joy are restored.

So what happens when Pollyanna gets depressed?  What happens when anxiety takes over the heart and leaves her feeling helpless and discouraged?  In the movie, this happens when Pollyanna is paralyzed after she is hit by a car and loses the use of her legs.  She becomes depressed, and it takes the people she has affected with her sunshiny attitude to remind her that there is always blessing to be found, even in the darkest of circumstances. She is eventually restored to her previous self and returns to finding the light in the darkest places.

The last year or so has been a time of great trial for me.  While walking through a difficult court battle with a young man that our family has adopted, I found myself unable to sleep at night, feeling anxious and panicky during the day, and always waiting for the next bad thing to happen.  While Jesse fought for partial custody of his little girl, his ex-girlfriend put us through unimaginable hell.  We found ourselves constantly looking over our shoulders, wondering what she would pull next.  We had no desire to hurt her; we just wanted to share in the raising of this precious little girl, whom we all love with all our hearts.  Yet every attempt we made at reconciliation was met with hostility and hatred, deceit and lies.  To top that off, my health problems increased.  While I was already dealing with fibromyalgia and a persistent headache (that literally never goes away) caused many years ago by an inept sinus surgeon, suddenly I was plagued with stomach difficulties and insomnia.  To add to my suffering, relentless anxiety and a bit of depression became my constant companions.  Suddenly, Pollyanna could no longer find the light.  Every day became a struggle to just keep moving, let alone be positive.  I thought this would end when the court trial was finally over, but it has persisted for many months.

During this time, my oldest daughter got married.  While we absolutely love our new son-in-law, this has definitely been a difficult change for me (see last week’s post, “Of Wedding Bells and Letting Go”).  Our daughter graduated from college, got married and moved an hour and a half away all within two weeks’ time.  Suddenly, I felt like I was drowning.  

Many prayers have been prayed, asking God to rescue me from the anxiety and chronic pain.  Seemingly, He is silent.  Does this mean that He doesn’t care, or that He doesn’t hear me?  All I can do is cling to what I know to be true…God is always good, and He always hears my cry.  He will be what sustains me, no matter how bad my physical body feels, or how desperately I want to escape this anxiety that never lets up.  Psalm 94:18 says, “When I said ‘My foot is slipping,’ your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up.  When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”  While I hate what this is doing to me, and the effect it has on my family (who have been thrown off balance by the loss of Pollyanna in the house), I cling to the One who can heal me and who can enable me to be refined by this painful process.  I long for the day that is foretold in Malachi 4:2, “But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.”  I know that Jesus is my ultimate Healer and that He alone has the peace and joy that I miss.  For those of you struggling with the same issues, I encourage you to place your hope in Him.  No matter how good or how bad life here on earth can be, we were made for something better.  Living with pain, or with the inner turmoil caused by anxiety and depression, is not going to last forever.  Someday, He will return for us, and take us home, where we belong.  Our pain will at last be healed and our inner demons will be silenced.  Our joy will be complete and our peace will be beyond all understanding.  I pray that God will choose to heal me before that day, but if not, I know it WILL happen someday, and that is what I cling to on those dark days when I feel I cannot cope another minute.  

And after all, maybe things WILL look better tomorrow…and maybe Pollyanna hasn’t abandoned me completely!  But in the meantime, I know that I am safe in the Father’s arms, and that He will carry me when I can’t take another step.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Of Wedding Bells and Letting Go

Three months ago I watched with a smile on my face and an ache in my heart as my firstborn drove off with her groom in the rumble seat of her grandpa’s 1935 Ford to begin her new life as Mrs. Plaza.  She was the most radiant bride ever in her beautiful Audrey Hepburn-esque wedding gown and her groom absolutely glowed with love for her as she walked down the aisle on her daddy’s arm.  I tried desperately to imprint every moment on my heart as the minutes flew by in a whirlwind of activity.  My beautiful Molly and I managed to steal a moment in the dressing room so I could tell her how precious she is to me and how very proud of her I am.  Our eyes welled up with tears as we embraced, and I felt my heart shatter as I contemplated her never coming back to live with us again.  Who knew that one day could hold so much joy and so much pain simultaneously?

I’ve tried in vain for weeks to write about that day and to capture all the emotions in my heart.  Every time I sat down and faced the blank screen, my heart froze up and I couldn’t find a way to process all the feelings.  It’s been a journey of grief and acceptance, sorrow and joy.  As I’ve watched my precious daughter adjust to married life, seen her radiant face as she looks at her new husband with love, the grief of letting her go has mellowed into deep joy that she is so happy and doing so well in her new life.  I’ve had to daily remind myself that this is what we raised her for…to be released into the world to make a difference for God’s kingdom.  God didn’t gift us with these precious children to be selfish with them, but to train them up as warriors to be released into the world.  Holding on to them instead of releasing them is like stringing a bow and arrow, and then refusing to release the arrow.  How futile, how ineffective would that be?  Life is not about holding tightly to what God has given us, but about blessing others with our bounty.  

When I mistakenly set out five plates on the dinner table and my heart constricts, I remember…Molly is now blessing others at her own table.  She is a marvelous cook, blessing her husband and those they reach out to and invite into their new home.

When I walk past her (almost) empty room and the tears threaten to flow, I remember…Molly is now in a different city, and God will be using her to impact the people she meets in her apartment complex, her new church, and her new job.

When I get a text from her telling me her new adventures as a postpartum nurse and a pain of missing her comes over me, I remember…all those days of encouraging her not to give up, all those prayers for her have led to her being a fantastic nurse, one who can care for their bodies and their hungry souls.

When I find her little sister crying in her room because she misses Molly so intensely, and my own tears pour, I remember…we have raised a beautiful young lady who is a great example to her sister and to others, and she is caring enough to keep in close contact with Lexi by phone.  All those days of reminding them, “Your sister will be your best friend for life, when all the others have faded away.  Treat each other with love and respect.”  And now they do.  Watching Lexi serve as Molly’s beloved maid of honor was a beautiful thing to see…those sisters who often fought over nothing, now consider each other their very best friend.

And while the tears sometimes still flow (but not every day like they did at first), there is a healing quality in them.  In the silence of Molly’s room, I hear a whisper, “Well done, good and faithful servant”, and my heart finds peace.  In raising a godly young woman, who walks in the ways of the Lord, her daddy and I have accomplished a piece of the mission handed to us by our Heavenly Father.  We have released a mighty arrow, honed and made ready by her Creator.  Where she goes and what she accomplishes for the Kingdom will give us even greater joy as we watch and continue our job as prayer warriors behind the scenes.  And while my heart still grieves for the precious times behind us now, it is tempered with peace and joy as we celebrate with Molly and our wonderful new son-in-law, whom we love beyond measure.  Go forth, baby girl, and conquer.  Your daddy and I love you and miss you, but bless you in your journey and can’t wait to see where God leads you and Sam.