ENCOURAGEMENT, MOTIVATIONAL, RECOVERY

Don’t Give Up On Yourself

Quitting On Monday

I think that the easiest day to lose hope is Monday. When the week starts, it should be full of great possibilities, but the reality is that Monday is the day the cold hard truth usually slaps us in the face. It’s the day we are forced to stop pretending that everything is great. We often need to go back to work and leave our dreams behind again. It gets hard.

It isn’t just work though. The whole world will come against you sooner or later. Maybe it will set up a pattern all your life. Things and people that you count on will be snatched away from you. Just when you feel the most secure, something will happen that will set your world on tilt.

Don't Quit Your DayDream painting

Quitting On Tuesday

Maybe it’s Tuesday that makes you want to quit on yourself the most. The struggle to get through Monday has taken its toll, and you just don’t have anything left. Hard things happen, and you don’t feel like you are equipped to deal with them anymore, if you ever were.

At first, when the hard things happen, you may want to give up on God. It’s easy to throw the blame on the Almighty. He is ultimately in charge. But, when you think about it, you realize that God hasn’t failed you in any way. You may begin to ask yourself if you have failed God.

Being Angry With God

It’s hard to always stay positive in a negative world.  I get that. I really do. I’ve had my share (and more) of tragic circumstances. I have not handled much of it very well. I did not turn to God in my pain and loss like I should have. I turned away and blamed Him instead. At least I did for a while.

It was when I was the angriest at Him that I realized that I still believed in Him. Of course, believing isn’t enough. I also had to get to a place where I remembered that He was good and that He loved me. I had to realize that He still had a plan for my life, even though my own plans had crashed and burned. Coming to that point was the hardest after I buried my 16-year-old son. This kind of loss makes you question all that you have ever believed.

Perfectly Imperfect

During my trek through the chaos and confusion of the worst of my grief, I learned to see the world in a different way. What was ordinary to me before became extreme. Casual beauty became exquisite when I realized how temporary it all is. I learned to focus on the smiles of my children and to take in every breath that they breathe. I learned that the imperfections that I once saw as flaws are what makes something beautiful and unique. The world irrevocably changed for me, but it wasn’t all good.

What Our Children Face

I looked at our world and what we have made of it. Sin and ugliness have run rampant through our societies. The children that we bring into the world are forced to grow up in fear of what tomorrow will bring. If they are living unaware of the potential danger of the future, then they are ill-equipped to face it. On the other hand, to tell them what it may be like is a betrayal of their innocence. How do we know what to do? How do we tell them that the walls protecting them are made of glass?

The problems we face seem to be insurmountable at times. Human trafficking, the threat of war, and the divisiveness of our country due to political affiliation, religion, race, and economics to name a few. We get mixed messages from the media and don’t fully understand what the truth is and how to teach it to our children. Like my Mama always said, “Babies don’t come with blueprints stamped on their butts.” Do we protect them with the truth, or protect them from the truth? I don’t know.

Who Failed Who?

All I know is that God didn’t fail us. That leaves the obvious answer. If He didn’t fail us…. We failed Him. With that realization, hopelessness can start to creep up on you.

Depression. Anxiety. Feelings of worthlessness and fear. The idea that you can never get it right because you never have before. The overwhelming sensation that you are about to drown in your sorrow, anger, and helplessness.

I’ve been there more than once. If you have ever felt like that, you aren’t alone. Don’t give up on yourself.

A Life of Abundance

Jesus said in John 10:10 that He came so that we would have abundant life. An abundant life is a life full of meaning and joy. That is the kind of life that God intends for you to have. He didn’t say that you can only have this kind of life if you deserve it and never do anything wrong. He didn’t say that you’ve got to operate in a realm above the human realm to create and achieve this life for yourself. He simply said that He came so that you could have it.  

Your abundance is found in God through Jesus Christ. No matter what the world throws at you. No matter what Monday brings. It doesn’t even matter if you need to leave your own dreams behind. Whatever heartbreak you have faced has not changed the truth. Grief and loss can’t take away what Jesus came to give you. Your abundant life is in Him. Not in yourself! Not in your circumstances. Not in your loved ones, your dreams, your hopes. Abundant life is also not lost in the outcome of a failed plan or dream. What an eye-opening thing to finally learn!

The Freedom to Keep Trying

This doesn’t mean that you should quit trying to achieve anything on your own. It means just the opposite! Now you are free to pursue your hopes and dreams without the fear of failure because your worthiness and your abundance was never meant to be found in any of your personal accomplishments anyway. You are free to love with all your heart because death can’t steal your hope! You can dance in the rain because no storm can wash away the sacrifice already made for you.

Your Focus

Take your focus off yourself. That’s not what your life is supposed to be about. All you could ever hope to be can be found in your relationship with God. Yes, I said it. It’s not about you. You may be dangerously close to quitting on yourself. Don’t do that. The problem is relational. Pursue a relationship with God if you want to add meaning to your life.

 Matthew 6:33 says to “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” If our focus is on Him, where it should be, and off ourselves, our lives will be full, and everything will fall into place just the way it’s supposed to. If our focus is on ourselves, we will always experience chaos and a feeling of off-centeredness because we were created for Him and by Him, and not to be self-serving.

The Truth

I believe that this is the truth that we should teach our children. If we want to equip them to be warriors in whatever battle comes their way, we must first introduce them to the source of their hope and life. We need to teach them as we learn ourselves that our identity should be first understood as a “child of God.” Whatever is next is not only secondary, but it’s also temporary.

Here’s what I believe to be the truth: the things you do for yourself on this earth are going to die with you anyway. The only things that you leave behind are what you do for other people.

The Prize

Knowing that my abundance is in Him is just the catalyst that I need to keep going, to keep plugging away and staying in the race even when it feels like I’m defeated. I can never be defeated if I’m running the right race—the one for His kingdom and in His design. It’s easy to fall back into the temptation of seeking to define my worth by earthly standards and how I feel, but the actual cold reality is none of that matters. The only thing that matters is that I keep my eyes on the prize.

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ENCOURAGEMENT, MOTIVATIONAL, RECOVERY

I Want to Bury My Head In Cookie Dough

Not a Roll of Cookie Dough, but One of Those Tubs.

Ice Cream Neon Sign


Or Eat Five Gallons of Chocolate Ice Cream with a Package of Oreos–No, Girl Scout Cookies! I want Thin Mints, and I want them fresh out of the freezer!

Are you wondering why I want a tub of cookie dough, or something else sinfully sweet? In case you are, I will tell you. Because I’m stressed out. When I’m stressed out, all I can think about is taking something sweet and bad for me and shoveling it in my face.

Food is where I go for comfort.

It sure hasn’t failed me yet! Well, it hasn’t failed me in the moment, when the cookie dough is in my mouth and my endorphins are through the roof. I only reach failure status when I step on the scale a month later and I’ve gained 20 lbs. Or I would reach failure status then, if I ever really got on the scale. See, if you don’t acknowledge it’s happening, it’s not happening. Right?

I’ve lived most of my life in just that way. The struggle to maintain a weight that made me feel comfortable with my own body has been life-altering and mind-consuming. I’m a good weight now—just ask any specialist. My BMI is perfect I’m told. “You are a great weight right now. You can continue to lose if you want to tweak it, but that’s just for you.” I thought it was all just for me.

It’s not my body that’s the problem. I don’t know if you know this or not, but it rarely is. It’s the mind that has all the issues. Every single morsel I put in my mouth comes packed with a load of guilt. I’ve written about this before in another blog, https://moodyoops.com/how-you-see-yourself-determines-who-you-are/, and you may want to check that out! It’s a big deal to me.

Think about it like this. If you were an alcoholic, and you quit drinking, you would feel better. You would find other ways to gain comfort and peace—perhaps you would learn to pray more, read, fish, exercise, or do something creative. You would never have to pick up the bottle again if you chose not to, and that’s fantastic! Your addiction may be slightly easier to understand and control when you realize that you can actually live your entire life without one sip of alcohol.

But What If You Are a Food Addict?

You are addicted to food but you stop eating in unhealthy ways, you start exercising, and you start taking better care of your body. That’s a great victory! There’s only three problems that I can think of that might hang you up on a consistent basis: breakfast, dinner, and supper.

Yep, that’s right. You can’t go on for the rest of your life without eating! So even though you’ve beat the unhealthy patterns, it’s harder to let go of the guilt that you have always associated with eating. It comes unbidden the second you start chewing and increases with each bite. By the time you are finished with your meal, you are filled with remorse!

With guilt comes the desire to cover that guilt, and what’s the first reaction your mind has to that desire? It wants to go back to that old comfort that it’s so used to, and put it on again. Guilt is crying, “Cover me,” and food is answering, “I will!”

It Becomes a Pattern.

It happens over and over. Once or twice at the ice cream trough and you’re okay, a week’s worth and it starts to show. It’s a vicious cycle of doubt, guilt, and confusion that runs through your mind like a hamster on a wheel. The more you obsess over what you eat, the more you want to eat it. The more you try to avoid something, the more drawn you are to that very thing!

Are There Any Answers?

So what are some of the things you can do to break the unhealthy cycle of food guilt? Hmmm….I go through times off and on where I think I get this right. Of course, they don’t last as long as they should, but I am going to keep going back there until “off and on” becomes a tendency, and a tendency eventually becomes a habit, and a habit finally becomes a way of life that’s not even considered thought-worthy anymore.

  • I never tell myself that I can’t have something. Why? Because if I tell myself “no,” I think about that food all day long every day and eat everything in sight until I finally break down and just go get what I’m obsessing over! If I want it, I eat it. However, one thing that I will do is tell myself that I can have it “tomorrow.” Sometimes when tomorrow rolls around I don’t even want that whole roll of cookie dough (or tub). Sometimes I do. Either way, I give myself permission to have it. Maybe not the whole thing, but some of it for sure!
  • I try to take responsibility for my own diet. I don’t mean diet as in “I’m on a diet,” I mean diet as in “the food choices that I make for myself.” No matter what plan someone else is on and thinks is better, no matter what they have had success in, no matter what food they put before me, and no matter what anything else you can think of, since I am ultimately responsible I make it my ultimate responsibility to choose what goes into my mouth and what does not. Even when a health professional pushes an app at me and says, “You need to count calories if you are going to lose weight,” and I know that I lost 65 lbs and didn’t count the first calorie, I’m going to politely say, “That’s not how I do it,” and move on with life. It’s my life, my health, and my body. I’m responsible for its upkeep. I know what’s good for me and what isn’t. Counting calories will have me (a) starving, and (b) obsessing. I’m saying NO! to both of those ideas and I’m just going to keep on doing what I’m doing for the rest of my life. Thank you very much.
  • I try to notice how I feel after I eat something. If it makes me feel good physically, I’m good with it. If it makes me nauseated, headachy, sluggish, or any other negative physical outcome, I will probably not want to have that food again real soon. Since I deal with food guilt, I don’t let my emotions dictate to me what I will and won’t eat. At least, I don’t when I’m working on it.
  • I also try to notice the taste the food leaves in my mouth. I know that sounds crazy! But to tell you the truth, that chocolate frozen pie that was so dang good when I ate it left a really bad taste in my mouth! I really didn’t like it as much as I thought I did. I was just so used to liking it that I thought I still did. So the next time I want to take a bite of it, I will remember the taste it left in my mouth. Maybe I will still take a bite of it, and maybe I won’t. It has gone both ways.
  • I don’t always eat every meal, or I just eat during a certain number of hours in the day. They call this intermittent fasting. I probably don’t do this the textbook way or for the textbook reason. What it does for me though, is relieve some of the guilt of overeating because if I’m skipping a meal now and then, I’m not overeating! It’s a pretty simple way to trick your mind into believing the truth.

Now I’m not offering up any of my methods as advice, because I’m not an expert or a health professional of any kind. I’m just saying what works for me. There are studies that say that you can’t skip meals because it lowers your metabolism. What I have learned is that when you get over a certain age, the rules all change. If I hadn’t skipped some meals, I wouldn’t have lost a pound! You have to do what is right for you and your health though. It’s always good to check with a doctor or other health professional before starting any kind of health and wellness program!

I don’t know if anyone can relate to my food struggles, but this is what was on my mind tonight. We all have different areas that we battle every day—this just happens to be one of mine. Feel free to leave a comment if you have been there, and you can also share my blog to your choice of social media if you think it might resonate with others. You can follow the blog and sign up with your email so that you will get a notice every time I post something new!

A railroad crossing with a stop sign on a misty morning.
RECOVERY

The Train Is Coming

Today I was reminded that I am not the only one who grieves.

I read a post on Facebook from someone I have known a very long time who has lost three sons, just like I have—two as infants, one not. That child got killed in a tragic train accident, and there was no way that anyone could have stopped the train or pushed him out of the way. It was not an accident that anyone could have predicted. Sometimes awful things happen, and we can’t make sense of them because we live in a broken world. My friend said that today he felt like a failure, and I tried to muster up the words that would somehow make him see himself as I see him, while at the same time understanding from my very soul exactly how that feels, because even though he was in no way to blame, he is a Daddy. A Daddy always feels responsible for his child, as does a Mama.

I say “Daddy” and “Mama” because that’s what we call our parents here in the South, and that’s what our children call us. Anyway, we love our babies and all their lives we believe it’s our responsibility to keep them safe. If something happens to them, we blame ourselves. It’s what parents do, right or wrong, and something did happen to our kids.

I call it a “Failure to Protect” as it relates to me, and of course I don’t see it the same when I look at my friend’s situation. It doesn’t matter if this is rational or not. When your child dies, rationality flies out the window, and only flies back in once in a while.

I wrote out a little bit of my story one October, and here that is:

It had rained so much that week that we were stuck at the house and I had just had surgery, so I wasn’t doing much anyway. We got tired of watching the trash float by so my husband set up a stuffed bear in the yard, and we sat on the front porch and took turns shooting his eyes out. It’s astonishing where the mind will take you when it needs some stimulation! Mikey walked back and forth, cooking steaks on the grill and shaking his head, muttering to himself about who was really crazy–us or him. He stopped a few times to take his own shot at the bear though, sometimes laughing and sometimes just handing the gun back with no expression after he made the “kill.” 


Those were the best steaks that I had ever had, and ever WILL have now. Mikey had a secret ingredient that he used in everything he cooked. I was pretty startled when I found out what that secret was. It didn’t always work out for the best, but it made a steak that day that my mouth still waters for—as do my eyes.


It’s hard to believe how much detail I can remember from that week and how little I remember from the next couple of years!

 We missed one Dr.’s appointment because of the rain, so we combined our appointments that day and went together. After I got out of my appointment, Mikey wanted to shop for a guitar. I didn’t have the money to buy one, but we decided to look anyway. We found a music store and right away Mikey spotted the Warlock. The cashier said that for that day only they would let us put it on layaway for $20. 


I had started out with money, but we had eaten, then I had bought Mikey a couple of green drinks—something energetic I think. I had $18 and he wanted the guitar so bad that I went to my truck and scraped up all my “gummy money” and gave the sticky mess to the sales girl who was very gracious about it and laughed with me. I’m pretty sure that Mikey was both embarrassed and relieved. He was so EXCITED about that guitar that I had to choke my tears back, because he hated it when I cried. 


The next day I went to get Mikey’s prescriptions filled, and this time he stayed home. He was agitated and angry and when I got home, we argued, but later he came into the house and lied down on the couch, because he just couldn’t keep his eyes open.

A lot more happened that day and that week that I have shared at times with others, but what I remember right now is the way it got cold overnight—much like the way it felt this morning when I woke up. Because it’s THAT week, and tomorrow is THAT day.

I got up that morning to get myself a blanket, and so I got Mikey one too. I had checked on him all night long, but when I threw the blanket over him, I accidentally brushed his back with my hand—and the horror that would become my life started when I realized that he was dead. I could not scream him awake, could not shake him awake, could not join him in that place to even simply ask him how he could leave ME like that. 


I cried and cursed and screamed to GOD that I had PRAYED, I had STAYED, I had done EVERYTHING that I thought He was asking me to do, so then “WHY did He take my CHILD—my —BABY, one of the reasons that I existed and found the courage to let my feet hit the floor each morning??” 


Sometimes there is no answer for things. I still don’t know, although God and I have made our peace and I do know that Mikey is safe in His Hands where we all long to be. But…I am only human, and at times I forget the GOODNESS of God, and only remember that He ALONE had the power to save Mikey yet chose not to do so. That’s when He reminds me that HE DID. Mikey was rescued from a world that he did not belong in, and taken to God’s Kingdom, where he never has to worry about being labeled this or that and can just be “Mikey.” 


I love my son, and I miss him, and no day goes by that I don’t still say a prayer for him. So now, as always, I whisper, “God, please take care of Nic, Tiff, and Mikey and keep them safe,” and He whispers back that He is….

So that’s my struggle, at least my biggest one. It’s the heartbreak of the thing that has led me finally to reach out to others in their loss and desperation. To embrace the semi-colon. To say that we will live to fight another day. To cry with those in the depths of their own sorrow and notice those who, just like Mikey once told me, are out there and just like him. The people on the outside–the fringes– the remnants–the ones left behind. It might be the guy sitting on the side of the road with a dog and a sign, the lady standing in line at Walmart with hollow eyes, the desperate addict with nowhere to turn, or the homeless and jobless person who everyone has given up on, but it’s always either someone seeking something but not knowing what it is, or someone who has long since given up the search but is still here.

I want to reach them because I know what some people didn’t know and couldn’t know—that the train is coming. The train is coming, and I have the responsibility to push as many people as I can out of the way before it gets here. Wouldn’t you do that if you could? I know someone who would have, but never got the chance. Today I am asking God to give that Daddy and Mama comfort and the peace of knowing that there is nothing bigger than God. Not even that train.

KCS Railroad Track Jefferson TX
ENCOURAGEMENT, RECOVERY

The Coat I Used To Wear

My Experience With Social Anxiety Disorder

Person wearing a coat holding a leaf in front of his or her face.
Social Anxiety Disorder is bigger than the accusations people throw at you.

I forgot about the coat I used to wear. I was brushing my teeth this morning when I remembered it. I was in eighth grade, and it was too hot for a coat, but I wore it anyway because I needed protection.

I felt awkward inside. I felt embarrassed, like at any minute people (specifically, my friends) would find out something about me and start laughing at me. Like the fact that my breasts were under-developed, or maybe my clothes weren’t keeping up with the latest trends. That awkwardness I felt is the same reason that I took my hair down out of the beautiful bun that my Mama had spent time creating for me one morning, and why I didn’t give out the class presents that she and I both stayed up late at night to work on. I always felt like my contributions were somehow not “enough,” and I would be laughed at. I thought my hair made me look different–too different to be accepted. I didn’t want to be noticed–to be set apart for any reason. So I wore the coat.

I also knew that I was getting “that age.” I was actually late getting to it. Other girls would ask me all the time, “Did you start yet?” and I hadn’t, but knew I would soon, and what if there was blood on me and someone saw it?

Protection. But I forgot.

So when Mikey wore that leather jacket in the summer, it never crossed my mind. I didn’t remember that girl who was so awkward–so socially impaired and afraid that I needed something to cover me so I would feel better. I was the one person who should have understood, and I didn’t. He wore it everywhere, and it was hot, and it made me angry.

He wore a knit cap too. He needed protection even more than I did.

It was right there for me to see, and I missed it. Now that leather jacket hangs in the closet as a reminder of the protection that I did not give my son.

Social Anxiety is a very real thing. It can cause you to make choices that you ordinarily wouldn’t. The toughest person in the world might be too afraid to go into a grocery store and talk to a cashier for fear of embarrassing himself. That is a classic, identifiable symptom of the disorder. I didn’t know. I looked it up when I started to notice patterns in my own life and in my family of things that we were failing to do that most people took for granted. Some of us have pretty much beat it. Many others cannot.

I forgot about the coat, but I never forgot the fact that I didn’t take my ACT test for college (like my Mama thought I did) because I was afraid that I wouldn’t know where to sharpen my pencils. There’s a lot of shame that goes along with the crippling fear. People who don’t understand (which is most of the general population including people who are inflicted with the social anxiety themselves) hurl judgment at you, like, “Why doesn’t the boy get a job like everybody else?” and other perfectly reasonable questions that don’t have reasonable answers from someone who didn’t ask where to sharpen her pencils because of extreme anxiety.

I don’t have the answers but I know that this is a real thing, and I have watched many members of my family struggle with it through the years. The turning point for me was knowing I didn’t take that test, and I had to lie to my Mama for the first time in my life. I looked at what my future would be like if I kept on denying myself opportunities because I was afraid. I decided way back then that I was more afraid to get to the end of my life having not done all the things than to go ahead and try. I can’t say that the anxiety doesn’t still win a battle or two, but I know it will never win the war. I don’t consider this courage–just the other side of fear. They call it “doing it scared.” To me it’s like closing your eyes and backing up. Whatever happens, happens.

I can’t go back and change anything–not my past as a child nor my past with my child. I can only go forward and try to do better. I know that I will be watching more closely to see if someone is needing protection. Hopefully I will be able to share my story with them and maybe give them some hope that it doesn’t always have to be that way.

MOTIVATIONAL, RECOVERY

BAH HUMBUG, CHRISTMAS IS A HUMBUG

I’m better now. I put up a tree every year. This year, I sang some Christmas songs without crying. I want to feel Christmas in my heart again. It’s still hard, and I know it always will be.

People who haven’t buried a child don’t understand, and I’m hoping you never will. Mikey loved Christmas. I loved Mikey. It’s really that simple. You can’t replace a lost child with other children, grandchildren, alcohol, drugs, work, distraction, church, ministry, or anything. It is okay to feel how you feel.

If you have lost a child, don’t be ashamed if you need to take time to grieve—again. It doesn’t matter how long it has been, or whether your child was born when they died, not born yet, a child, teenager, or grown! That’s your baby. Your flesh and blood—the child of your heart. Take your moments, and take your moments with you. Sorrow and joy can live in the same heart. God made us human, yet in His image, which means our hearts have the capacity to carry both sorrow and joy and to do this with LOVE. Instead of letting your pain cripple you, let it strengthen your resolve to forgive greater hurts, show more grace, walk the extra few miles, and speak to others the truth in love.

We are equipped because God has equipped us. We are victorious because He teaches us how to fight. We are safe because we are engraved on the palms of His Hands…one nail at a time. God bless you, and Merry Christmas! Isaiah 49:16 forever.