Posted in Mom Life

IF I’m Honest

What do I do when knowing God is always with me isn’t enough? I wake up in the morning feeling this big hole in my life. I don’t want to get up on my day off because what am I getting up for? To sit at my kitchen table and check my bank account? To see I have no money for groceries or to take my daughter to NYC as is our new tradition before Christmas? To remember that my credit card is still in the freezer, so I won’t use it. And I’ve been so disciplined. I haven’t used it in 5 months so I can pay it off. I’ve paid almost a thousand dollars in four months. I’m proud of my discipline but still it doesn’t make me feel better about myself or my situation. I’ve saved $1,000 in my emergency savings account because I really want to buy a small house for us. Trying to save enough for the closing costs. Yet, again, I had to borrow money from it because one of the agencies I’ve been working through is over a month late paying me. So, why should I get out of bed on the day before Christmas?

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My daughter is still sleeping. I have no one to talk to. The apartment is dark. I made a pot of coffee for us. Mainly, for me because she’s 12 and just likes to drink less than half a cup in the morning sometimes.

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I finished reading a great book a couple days ago so now what? I can’t read that and get lost in a story about someone else’s life to get my mind off how bored I am with my own. Without another adult in the house, I just sit down at the kitchen table and start trying to figure out how to make my life better. I get online to see if money has been deposited into my account so I can catch up on my health insurance payments. I check to see if one of the agencies deposited my check early as a Christmas present. I’m wondering when my life is going to get better because I’ve made so many wise financial decisions.

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Why don’t I feel better knowing that God is always with me and he’s moving behind the scenes? He gave me more work this year. He made me the kind of person who doesn’t give up easily. He made me the kind of person who knows I need to get up and do something that reminds me I am strong. Right now, I know the things I need to do but I’m so bored of the same routine. I’m so tired of being alone so much! I feel like who I am is disappearing and I’m the shell of a person walking around the apartment doing things just so I don’t sit on the couch and stare out the window. I feel left behind.

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I’m sick of the loneliness of my job. I’m sick of not having a best friend to talk to regularly. I call my parents way too much. I’m sick of feeling like a robot. When do I get to laugh my ass off and enjoy myself with a group of friends? It doesn’t happen enough! There’s always something to be serious about. Work, ministry at church, paying bills, saving money, doing chores around my apartment, striving to be the best solo mom I can be, trying to find ways to keep my spirits up!

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If I wasn’t sitting here writing this, I would be sitting on the couch praying and waiting to hear from God. I would be telling Him…what would I be telling Him? All the same things I’ve prayed before. I’d be looking at my bible trying to figure out what book I should read that would help me feel better, I’d find something, read it, pray, feel a little peace and be back in the same place. What do I do with myself now? Watch another episode of Blue Bloods? Watch another Christmas movie that has nothing to do with Christmas? Go for a run? Make some pancakes and eggs for my daughter? Try to figure out what I can eat b/c my body is so intolerant to everything?

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I love reading my bible. I do. I feel peace when I read it. I never grow tired of talking to God. I do it everyday off and on because I know he’s there.

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But, I’m sick of the loneliness and waiting.

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And these are the blatantly honest ruminations of a mother who is the only adult in the house.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDcTvtuuVU8

Posted in Uncategorized

Mental Health in Pre-teens & Teens in the Last Decade

A friend of mine recently lost her family member to suicide. I met him once and he was a sweet, quiet kid.  He was the ripe age of 15 when he passed. It was the end of summer and school was about to start up. When I heard the news, my heart broke over the turmoil he must have felt, and my mommy-heart hurt as this is a parent’s and family member’s worse nightmare.

I keep thinking about him, his family members and his friends.  I pray for them and I just sit and bawl.  It’s so horrific.  And I think, if I am so upset, how must they feel? Then, I cry some more.

Yesterday, I opened my Facebook account to see an article posted on my newsfeed.  The Christian Post article was based on a study done by the CDC regarding the rate of suicide having tripled in kids ranging from 10-14. Ten to fourteen?? How is this possible?

The report’s co-author, Sally Curtin, said during an interview with NPR, “Not only is suicide trending upward, but the pace of increase is actually accelerating.” The pace is accelerating.  It was really disturbing and heart-wrenching to read. It scares me more than anything. The director of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, Colleen Car, was quoted saying, “It is important to recognize that suicide is not caused by one single factor but instead a range of factors that include mental health conditions, but also include important situational factors that many of us will experience in a lifetime- including social, physical, emotional or financial issues.”

I’m a mother. I’m an aunt.  I serve in a youth group ministry at my church.  I do not want to experience this loss so close to home.  It is very scary. How do we prevent this from happening to children who just don’t feel like life will get any better? Well, we tell them how loved by God they are, if we meet them before it’s too late. Unfortunately, many times we have no idea these devastating thoughts are going through their minds. How can we really know those close to us are hurting like that? This pre-teen & adolescent age is hard. It can be hard for them to articulate what they’re feeling or thinking.  Sometimes they refuse to talk about it.

God tells me to love, love, love all the kids I come across and to speak life into them every chance I get. Not so they become conceited but so they know their worth and so they see how amazing they are through the eyes of other people. When I have conversations with them I will remember verses like Proverbs 15:28 that read, “The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking.”

Lord, help pre-teens & teenagers & us grown people to think carefully before we speak. This is one way we can help and show compassion to those around us. Lord, give us wisdom.

Proverbs 17:27 states, “He who restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a calm spirit is a man of understanding.” If we get frustrated, Lord, help us & remind us to be careful with our words so that we don’t add to the pain other people may already be feeling.

There are so many proverbs that we can glean wisdom from. Here’s another one that I love.  Proverbs 18:21 “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Our words and our tone of voice matters more than we realize. Please join me in praying that the rate of suicide in kids will decline and that more children will come to know how long, how wide, how deep and how high the love of God is for them.

I can’t pinpoint exactly why suicide is on the rise in children– I want to blame it on social media, but I know it’s not merely one thing like Colleen Car said.  It’s a lot of things compounded together.  I know that if we all loved more, shared each other’s burdens more, didn’t turn away from people when they really needed support and if more kids spoke kindness to each other instead of harping on saying cruel things, their self-esteem would improve.  I believe if more kids had their own personal relationship with God, that this relationship would help them through the hard times and give them hope.

As a mom, what I’m seeing on the news and in articles like the one I mentioned, scares me. I want to protect my daughter. I worry about other people convincing her that lies are the truth. It’s hard when she is in school all day and I don’t know firsthand what people are saying to her or what she may be saying to them.  My love for her fuels my God-given determination to keep finding ways to breath life into her, to keep teaching her what compassion looks like so she will be careful with her words and build others up. God will help us find strength to be the light in the darkness when it gets hard for the kids around us that need encouragement and support. This topic is hard but I know He will give us the strength to push through and continue to love the kids around us as well as those of us who are grown.

Please pray wholeheartedly for those who have lost loved ones to suicide and pray that God will use us to help people who are struggling with hurts done to them. There are so many big and seemingly small ways we can do this.

God bless you and give you strength during times of sadness. Hope comes in the morning.

 

Posted in Mom Life, Things That Make My Brain Happy

Race Day

Well, I’m not quite sure what happened but my last post posted today rather than a couple weeks ago when I wrote it from my mobile phone.  Don’t mean to confuse readers when you all see 2 posts on the same day. One talking about an upcoming race and the second talking about a race that happened yesterday.  Another one of life’s little mysteries, I suppose.

Hope everyone is doing well! I took the day off from work because I can’t put weight on my left leg. Despite that, I’m in great spirits! Yesterday, was a great day!  I woke up at 5:30 in the morning pumped and ready to run my first half-marathon.  I was especially happy because the night before I felt some pain behind and alongside my left leg, near the knee, but when I woke up it was almost entirely gone.  My boyfriend and I had prayed for healing the night before and he also gave me a leg massage to loosen things up a bit.  That combination of things worked well because I was feeling great and so, so relieved that all my training and efforts weren’t sabotaged by stubborn hamstrings.

As I got ready for the race, I listened to praise & worship music by Charity Gayle, Hillsong and a few others.  All I wanted to do was praise my God for healing me and hearing my prayer.  My worries about not being able to get through the race were dissipated.  There’s nothing better than having your hope renewed, right?

Once we arrived to the race site, it was so good to see everyone in my group, all stoked and ready to get their run on!  We planned on doing the 2018 New Paltz Challenge in part to support a woman from church who was recently diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s Disease. It would be her first 5k.  Our pastor had t-shirts made that read, “Team Sabrina Parkinson’s Awareness” with 2 people running in the background and a large tulip overtop, which is the symbol for PD. Our running together was a message to Sabrina and all of us, that we’re in this together.  We do life together, fighting the good fight and running the race faithfully, until completion. (literally & figuratively)

Hebrews 12:1 New International Version (NIV)
12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

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We looked pretty excited, did we not? In our group, though not everyone arrived in time for this particular picture, we had 9 people running the 5k and 3 of us ran the half-marathon.  Pastor Scott, his wife and I started our race at 7:30 AM.  Now, can I just mention how happy I am that races this long, start so early before it gets extremely hot outside?!  We couldn’t ask for a better morning to run.  It was nice and cool out. No humidity. Breathing was not a challenge.  We were almost taken out by a senile, old man trying to exit his apartment complex, however.  He slowly drove the front end of his car right towards 600 runners heading for the starting line, but luckily a few volunteers stepped out, insisting that he turn around and exit another way.  It was sort of an interesting way to start out.  I was silently worried about him, wondering if he should really be driving anymore.

Anyhow, the half-marathon went well! The course was definitely more challenging than expected but I kept my pace (something I worked hard on during the last couple months of training) and didn’t let the hills scare me.  I developed a new strategy I call “looking down at the ground while running uphill” so I wouldn’t focus on how far I still had to run uphill and just focused on keeping pace.  It worked! That and thinking about the movie Finding Nemo, reminding myself to “just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.” My strategies were very technical.

When I finally completed 13.1 miles, I was just so relieved to cross that finish line and hear the DJ (is that what I should call him?) announce, “Angela Phillips finishes the race at 2:21:5! Great job!” I saw my boyfriend, my daughter and my friend Heather standing on a hill smiling and waving at me. I mustered up an exhausted smile and walked over to a volunteer who handed me a bottle of water (oh, thank, God!) and my first medal for running.  I tried to keep walking so that I could cool down properly like I normally do, but I felt a little strange.  I tried to fight it and push through but my legs were weak. I was also light-headed.  Cooling down was not going to happen. Standing was good enough as Makayla walked over and gave me a loving hug.  Then, Drew was there and we were laughing, “I made it…” And he said, “I know, I can’t believe you did it!” He looked so proud and happy for me.  Then, my father was standing next to me, “Ange! I can’t believe you did it either!” More laughter from all of us, mostly because we were relieved and the look on their faces really meant so much to me.

So, I should probably end this post with the paragraph above but that’s not quite how the race ended. (I’m laughing, just so you know.)  After the race, I was so tired, all I wanted to do was sit down to stretch, drink some water and use my first GU energy gel. I was in serious need of electrolytes and amino acids.  My leg muscles were tight and I was afraid I might faint.  Thanking God again, for something else–GU energy gel. It came to the rescue like nobody’s business.

While the GU helped with the lightheadedness, it didn’t help with my legs.  When I tried to stand up, my left leg was suddenly in so much pain, I almost collapsed! My father and Drew caught me.  My hamstrings were so tight I couldn’t straighten out my leg while putting weight on it.  Has this ever happened to you? If so, what do you do for it?  I’ve been icing that leg for 20 minutes on and off, resting, doing light leg exercises in my sister’s pool and laughing at myself as I crawl from room to room.  Despite the pain, we all had a great Father’s Day with family.  It actually made the rest of our day pretty hilarious!

 

img_20180617_105540_499-506224250441429640.jpg                                  This is a picture of my daughter & I before my near collapse.

img_20180617_113312_491-1-1770915349.jpgAnd, this is the sweet, nurturing guy who went to get his car and move it as close to me as possible while my awesome father and daughter helped me slowly hop over on the good leg.

It was all good! God answered my prayers for healing so I could run the whole race I had set out to do months ago AND he provided many opportunities for laughter and bonding afterwards.  God Bless!

 

 

A Short Christmas Post

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I shot this picture at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC on 12/21/2017.

In a nutshell, this is what Christmas is all about. Raising our hands in thanks to God even when there are things in our lives that don’t feel very praiseworthy.  When I lift my hands in prayer and focus on thanking God for all the good things, I end my prayer feeling the Holy Spirit around me, causing me to forget the things in my life that are still being ironed out.  I have a feeling that if everything was taken care of all at once, I might start to believe that I did something great to earn such an amazing life & start believing I was more capable than Him.  It’s crazy to me to even write that because God is the one who breathed life into me in the first place.  God knows how we tend to operate though.  We’re prone to wander away from him. Not having all my prayers answered at once is really something that I should be thanking God for too because it keeps me in relationship with Him.   I’m the happiest when I spend time with God because he re-energizes me at the end of the day when my spiritual tank starts to get close to empty.  Christmas is about thanking God for sticking so close to us that He even wants us with him for eternity.  And think about this. He wanted us so badly for eternity that He sent Jesus to show us how to live dependent on God, to show us that He literally feels our pain and to show us that Jesus is the atonement for all of our mishaps because He still wants us for eternity.  Now, that is something to seriously celebrate!!