When Today Leaves You Sore

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It is 1:15 p.m. and I am still in my pajamas.

Josh hates these pajamas.

I knew today would be a mountain. I know as soon as I open my eyes.

The only place I find safe in the shadow of the mountain is in my bed. In pajamas. Asleep. At least when I am sleeping, I don’t have to feel everything that is waiting to be felt.

“It’s a demonic spirit” my Jesus following friends say. “It’s depression and anxiety” the books and experts and symptoms say. I don’t know what IT is. But whatever IT is- it hovers.

And I know as soon as I wake up if IT and I are going to dance that day. If it is going to hover.

So today we danced.

I started with my list of shoulds-you know-‘Courtney you should.’  The shoulds are a game of Tetris in my brain. Each one turning over and over, speeding up, chaotically dropping one on top of the other. I know if I can get one should-one thought-to fit together it will move, I will move, but during the dance the shoulds don’t line up.

Courtney-you should get up. You should move. You should go outside. You should eat. You should change clothes. You should open the blinds. You should check in with Josh. 

I always know what I should be doing. The IT turns the shoulds into enormous tasks. Mountains. So many mountains. I can’t breathe looking at the mountains.

Liam is asleep on the couch and Jude is playing quietly with monster trucks.  In the quiet the Tetris pieces stop falling and I have a moment of clarity.  Sweet Jesus, for a moment, I can think. I decide that one at a time, one simple task at a time, that I would breathe through this day and conquer mountains. It took until 3:30 to get the nerve. I had to pick up Beckett. He has asked before that I not show up in pajamas.

I locked this truth in my heart on the walk to his school in regular clothes :: that today is not the whole of all of my today-s.

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When I woke up,  I knew I was going to dance with my depression, with my IT. Believing that every day will be the same is what sent me into this spiral in the first place. My heart let go of HOPE. Hope and joy have returned though, since this journey has started, and I will not let go of it again. I can’t.

Because today can not be the whole of all of my today-s. 

I will teach my sweet boys this. They will know that some days will leave them breathless and sore-and so be it. What’s important is that they make it through the beating to try again tomorrow. One foot in front of the other. One sore step at a time. One conversation with God after another. We have to try for tomorrow.

There is courage and heart in trying again, and trying FOR tomorrow.

If you had a day today-I am sorry. Because they are exhausting. But God will let the sun rise again in the morning. And we get to try again. You get to try again.

Strength for the rest of today. Strength for tomorrow.

Today was not the whole of all of your today-s.

Plus, my people, and your people, are worth holding onto hope. They are worth taking a beating; so we can have a tomorrow.

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~Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. ~ Matthew 6:34. The good book letting us know that some days will leave us sore.

The scripture before holds the hope promise though. ~But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.~ Matthew 6 :33. These “things” meaning everything we need. And I need HOPE.

I Don’t Want To Go Home

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So…this was different for me.  My husband had some thoughts. So he put them down in writing. And it was so interesting, and kinda sad, but mostly nice to read this. This is his story-about my story. I cried reading it, which is no news there.  I love him.

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“Help me help you.”

This is a phrase my wife is very familiar with. It is common language really, having frequently exited my mouth for the last 3.5 years.

My wife somehow fell over backwards into post partum depression and still struggles with the trigger-happy illness today. I’m not sure, however, if we can still call it postpartum considering our youngest is three.  But nonetheless she still fights some days-with something.

Before I realized it was an illness, I simply believed Courtney could choose to be happy, but instead was unexplainably choosing it’s counterpart, sadness. But I was wrong. It’s an epidemic that took her mind into submission and created choas.

I first saw depression take its form when Courtney was pregnant with our 3rd son Jude. She was still fighting the residual pregnancy hormones from just giving birth to our 2nd son and recovering from that pregnancy. Hormones and a rollercoaster of emotions took over her mind. She wanted to abort Jude. A phrase I would have never imagined hearing from the lips of a mother who was (is) madly in love with her children. Through a lot of listening and little talking, we hurdled the evil and she gave birth to Jude. God changed her heart. But her depression would then take a different form. Something in her drastically changed.

Court-at the beginning of all this. Pregnant with Jude here.

Court and I at the beginning of all this. Pregnant with Jude here.

Coming home from work was like walking into the eye of the storm. Especially when it was her eyes that read anger and resentment. Always anger. Seldom any talking. I used to ask myself WHY? After awhile, I stopped asking.

I understood that she was annoyed that I had the “luxury” of working all day while she was home with the kids, but often there would be no reason for her sudden, very sudden, change in emotions. The thing with my wife is that she is a mover and a shaker-but being home with the kids wasn’t her idea of moving and shaking.

I learned many things during this time. Her depression made simple tasks unbearable to handle, for example, springing things on her like, “Hey, let’s go to breakfast in 10 minutes” or “is it ok if so and so comes over?….in 20 minutes?” In these situations I could feel the anxiety and fear well up in Courtney. She would say “I just need time to think about it first.”

Another symptom she was trying to navigate was extreme insecurity. Her insecurity was debilitating, she always needed time to evaluate her outfit so it fit properly on a body that she swore was getting bigger by the day. Nothing ever fit right. She hated the way she looked in pictures. We only have a few of her with Liam and Jude when they were babies.

Courtney lost interest for certain hobbies, (sex), became a master “Jedi” pessimist and Oh,  the TV volume….that was an unexpected side-effect. She couldn’t be in the room with a loud TV and people trying to talk over it. I actually saw her fangs come out from this one. And tears, always tears.

And then there was the sleeping. All she wanted to do was sleep. I knew it was a way of escape. Some days I let her. Others I forced her to get up.

Many times I felt helpless and the times I felt like I could help, she didn’t want it. The few times my help was welcomed, I ruined it by telling her to “get ahold of yourself” or suggesting she just “pray about it” or “you’ll feel better if you get out of the house”  and even worse, I would make her feel guilty for the negative impact she was putting on the family by placing blame. Fail, fail fail and….fail.

Sometimes though, I still feel alone. But then again, I feel like I am one in a million husbands that get it. But don’t talk about it.

That’s another thing about depression. No one wants to talk about it. Especially not the people living it. Maybe everyone thinks it will just go away. I did.

I think the light bulb has finally turned on for me though. I didn’t read a manual or catch the Post Partum Depression episode on Dr. Phil (they should have a PPD for dummies book out there…) but I think my experience in this might have kicked in.

I won’t bow to the depression that sneaks up on her, but I can make adjustments that will help see her through this trench, for as long as it takes for her to get to the other side.

I’m realizing that I need to try and make decisions with her instead of springing plans on her.I understand that I need to help around the house more, listen, just sit with her (iPhone, Mac, Netflix disengage) pray, listen, put her concerns in front of mine…(ouch), listen, pursue sitters and maintain date nights, pray, listen. Lots of listening.

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Guys, if you are in this with me, let your wives (or woman) know that It’s ok to be an incredible mother and wife, but also feel extreme sadness . It really is ok!

Oh! and..it’s almost impossible for me to bring Courtney “up.” What happens is that she just ends up going down. I can’t cure her depression. I do know that in those severe moments of anxiety, all I have to do is hug her. Boom. Reset. Then we can attempt to move forward again. Telling her to snap out of it has never worked. I don’t think it ever will.

She read this to me the other day- “They (women suffering from depression) don’t need someone to tell them to get a grip. They need someone to walk them through the valley so they don’t stay there.” -Micah Maddox

Gentlemen, we’ve got to walk through the valley with our wives. Yup, Not enticing or easy, but come on,

Every night we’re the ones allowed to fall asleep next to them. Bargain.

One of the kids in my youth group is a Rubik’s Cube wizard. I love watching him turn the cube over and over until he solves it. Her depression reminds me of a Rubik’s Cube. We keep turning the cube, hopeful that one day the colors will align.  And then, I guess, we will just move on to the next cube we need to work on.

For better or for worse. In sickness and in health. Cube after cube. Valley after valley. Holding her hand.

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As a follower of Jesus I did a lot of praying, yet sometimes I felt my requests were in vain and let’s be honest, some days I didn’t feel like praying anymore.  If you’re suffering from depression or living with someone who is and don’t know what to pray, maybe this scripture can help. This is more like a mantra-than a prayer. But saying it helps.

Romans 8:38-39 (NLT)

38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(P.S.- this is a peek at an almost three year journey.  Courtney is doing so much better.)

*07/10/2017 Edit*

Hi friends! Although this post is two years old, it is getting a ton of response and traction! I wanted to mention a few things. First, I am doing so much better! Second, and most importantly, I started THERAPY and GOT ON MEDICATION. THERE IS NOOO SHAME SWEET FRIEND. Also, I have found diet, exercise (I know, gag) and scheduled days out of the house have helped tremendously. They really have, although on a sad day going outside is the LAST thing you want to do.

It is a scary, scary thing when your mind takes over in a way that feels like imprisonment. Hang in there. One breath at a time, one task at a time, one day at at time. You aren’t crazy. Let go of that lie. Try again. With you.

This Is Coming

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~Like timidity, bravery is also contagious~

tiredYou see this girl? I see her. She is so tired. DOG TIRED. I don’t know the last time she showered. Standing there holding her precious baby boy. Her baby boy that had moved across the country twice-never quiet developing a consistent sleep pattern.

You can’t see her belly. It is swollen with life again-her baby boy is resting on another baby boy growing inside of her, two weeks from being born. She is so tired. Her body has been poked and pushed and monitored weekly to assure that life would be birthed, one last time, from her. She is working so hard to keep everyone alive, born and unborn, and yet she is stitched together by the panic and fear that she is slipping into the cracks of herself. That soon-she will disappear. Her stitching is unraveling.

Man I see her. I want to grab her and hug her although I know she will smile and say “everything is fine.” I want to sit her down and look her in the eye and say “girl-you gotta dig down and find your nerve, cause something nasty is coming.” I would use the word nerve because defined it means firmness or courage under demanding or trying circumstances. 

And demanding and trying circumstances were coming.

I want to talk to her. So much I would say ::

Hey-I know you are scared. You have never been so scared in your life. I know how often you cry and that your brain can’t string together a coherent thought.I know you are terrified of the darkness in your heart. I know you want to drink this away. I know you are living the biggest lie of your life. I know you are telling everyone you are fine. I know you are pushing people away. You’ve told that lie so often that it has become your truth. 

Because you keep waiting for God to be enough. 

And guess what sister-He isn’t right now. He isn’t going to be enough. Because you need professional help. He is there in the help. You will realize this a little late. 

You aren’t going to sleep for a few years. You aren’t going to take care of yourself. You aren’t going to ask for help, or answer questions honestly when people get too close.

You are going to fall into a black hole that is so consuming and sticky and raw that there will be days that exhaling for a breath will be a chore because the anxiety in your lungs will be suffocating you. 

You will feel everything. All of your feelings will move inside of you like a porcupine-the quills flaring and poking you at the first sign of unrest. Your emotions will commandeer your stomach, your mind and your marriage. 

You will stare blankly at your husband and tell him what you have repeated to yourself-

“I am dying. Everything that was good and alive in me is gone. There is nothing left.”-

This is what’s coming. You are going to need your nerve. 

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It doesn’t end this way though.

One day you will find COURAGE.

One day, out of nowhere, you will feel BRAVE.

The fear will still linger-but you will find your nerve and step right into it. Because being brave is just that-stepping in and through the fear.

You will have the hardest conversations you’ve ever had with God, and He will listen. And then,  He will show up. He will tell you to get out of bed, to ask for help, to open up, to take time to be with Him. He will not apologize for the mental Hell you are in. He will push you to seek Him, then He will send help. Through people. The people you shut out. He will make you brave.

YOU HAVE TO DO THIS. YOU HAVE TO PUT ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER and FIND STRENGTH FOR THE DAY. This is why ::

You WILL WAKE UP and inhale without the pressure of your life stopping you. The cloud is going to break, you will feel joy and hope again, you will love your children fiercely and you will sleep. They dark places in your heart will be reconciled and you will begin to look forward to your future.

Your mind will release you back to normalcy and your thoughts will not be so terrifying. You will let people see inside of you, and it will be OK. They won’t run away. 

You will still love your husband. 

And one day you will see a picture of yourself that will bring you to tears.

BECAUSE WE MADE IT. WE DID NOT DIE. YOU WILL NOT DIE. 

Not because of this anyway.

Oh-and I love you. So much. And am so very proud of the woman you (we) are becoming. YOU MAKE ME BRAVE, BECAUSE I KNOW WHAT WE CAN DO.

 We will make it through this. This is our story. 

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Hi friends! When I saw the above picture of myself yesterday it provoked a very emotional reaction. I thought about what I would say to her-putting together a list of things that would help avoid the depressive nightmare I found myself in. But then I thought that was counter-productive to save myself from a story I was writing with God. Maybe my experience can help you though-

Looking back on the past three years, I have learned a few hard lessons for people who find themselves in the clutches of depression. FIRST-I should have told the truth. The end. Please, please, if you are hurting deeply, ask for help. Tell the truth when someone asks how you are doing. SECOND-and equally as important-follow through with getting help. After I finally went to see my doctor and started meeting regularly with my therapist-things drastically changed. THIRD-get up. Just stand up. Go to the bathroom. Do one thing-just one thing-at a time. All of the one things will add up to a full day of not laying in the bed. This is really-really hard to do some days. FOUR-EAT. If you are having a good day-eat healthy. On bad days-eat something. Eating is important. Healthy eating will be a game changer. LAST- Go outside. Go anywhere. Exercise. Move.

The biggest one here though-TELL THE TRUTH.

-so much love to you in the trenches-

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I know many of you are fighting through your own mess. Whatever it is that is requiring you to be brave-I hope this song helps. Though the blog has evolved the heart of it was to share amazing worship music with powerful lyrics.

There is a lyric that says “you call me out beyond the shore into the waves.” I have felt like this over and over since having Liam and Jude, but if Jesus is calling me out into something nasty-at least I know he will be there with me.

And His love-in wave after wave-crashed over me and saw me through. He is amazing.

I hope you love this song.

~You Make Me Brave-Bethel Music Live~

I stand before You now
The greatness of your renown
I have heard of the majesty and wonder of you
King of Heaven, in humility, I bow

As Your love, in wave after wave
Crashes over me, crashes over me
For You are for us
You are not against us
Champion of Heaven
You made a way for all to enter in

I have heard You calling my name
I have heard the song of love that You sing
So I will let You draw me out beyond the shore
Into Your grace
Your grace

You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the love that made a way

You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the promises you made
You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves

You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the promises you made

Read more: Bethel Music – You Make Me Brave Lyrics | MetroLyrics

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About Done.

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‘I’m about done.’

‘I’m sorry. Can you get time away? Time to refocus?’

‘Yeah, it’s more than that though. This (beep) is way too hard for me right now.’

‘I have zero help.’

The abruptness of the text message made me pause. About done. Someone that I love so much, buckling under the pressure of day to day with a household of small, very small people. A dear friend, loosing the hope in her marriage. Another mom feeling marooned on an island. No help.

I understood the words she had sent on a level that was acutely familiar.

I wanted to send encouragement, to find words that would giver her hope or wisdom or whatever it is that we need when we find ourselves about done.

All I had was ‘I understand.’

Because I understood that about done was a hard, difficult place.

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Hey Friends,

I haven’t written anything in six weeks. Largely because my life started to teeter along the about done line, so I stepped back and called a time-out. Many, many moving factors contributed to the overload of life, all of those needing to be separated, looked at and re-prioritized.

The only way I have found to preserve my sanity during the day-to-day grind is to find humor in the chaos. Occasionally that humor and chaos is the subject of my facebook statuses or blog posts, these statuses and posts suggesting that raising three small children can be difficult. Very difficult.

I have found that people who love me, who care for me, gently remind me to be thankful for these crazy days with my beautiful boys. To be thankful for my life.

They gently remind me that this time is fleeting.

I get it.

What I don’t understand though is our need to remind people we love or know to be thankful when they are brave enough to admit they are getting the wind knocked out of them by life. 

How does admitting something is hard suggest  that someone is unappreciative of their life? Can they (we) not feel both, thankful and tested?

I have tried to change my perspective with thankfulness. Tried starting each morning with praise for my children.

It didn’t work. They were still tough.

Being thankful didn’t take the tough out of my life.

Jude Crying

This is the thing-there is no room in my heart to love my children more than I do. It is a maxed out, full, fierce, protective, emotional, enduring love that will never be questioned or replaced. I am also overflowing with thankfulness for their health, their life, their personalities, THEIR EXISTENCE.  My nightly conversation with Jesus always starts with a thankful heart for my family. Man I love them.

But that thankfulness has not replaced the reality that raising them is HARD. Some days it physically hurts. Having two toddlers (three boys) has infiltrated my mind, my checkbook, my marriage, my body, my belongings-everything. It has changed everything. Some days they move me to the about done camp.

And yet, I still go to bed thankful for them.

This is what I have learned :: It is completely possible to feel IT ALL. To feel overwhelming joy and love alongside frustration and mayhem. To love someone and still want to kill them. In motherhood I have felt things I didn’t know existed; frustration and hopelessness in dark levels, happiness and thankfulness that overflows.

It has all been there.

And unlike the moments that I am constantly reminded are fleeting, all of the feelings I have are not. They always return – day in and day out- each day experiencing my life differently.

The past four years have been very difficult. And I am very thankful.

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This is what is left-this is how we love people who are standing on soapboxes declaring their life is difficult ::

WE LISTEN. We respond with I UNDERSTAND. If we don’t understand we dig down and look for empathy inside of us and say I DON’T UNDERSTAND BUT I AM HERE. We hold our declarations of their need for thankfulness until we understand their difficult. They know what to be thankful for. Some days the difficult is stronger, when we help with the difficult thankfulness peeps through brighter.

When your friend is declaring the tough of life help her pull the tough apart.

When your friend is mourning a deep loss, mourn with her. When she is thankful for the time spent with her loved one, be thankful with her.

When your friend is struggling as a parent pour out empathy. When he/she rejoices and delights in their children, rejoice with them.

When your friend is struggling at work, listen first.

When your friend is in the middle of an identity crisis, sift through it with her. Listen first and then help, help her find the way back to herself.

When your friend is giving up on marriage-validate how hard marriage is. Listen closely to the ache in his/her words because marriage is tough. After listening-then help. Help in a way that your friend needs.

Before interuppting someone’s difficult with a list of ‘should be thankful for’-interupt it with kindness and understanding and lead them back to the things they already know they are thankful for. It’s dark in the difficult. Be the light.

Time and time again, the people who have listened and helped me with my tough have lead me back to the road of thankfulness. Lead me back to myself. Lead me back to my family. Lead me back to Jesus. Without suggesting a single thing.

And as I said before, I am thankful. And I am learning.

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There is a scripture in James that I have a love-hate relationship with that leans in on the idea of thankfulness and joy being present in difficult times.

~Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.~ James 1:2-4

This has always been a nudging reminder that life is gonna be hard. This is actually promised a few times in the good book. In the difficult it is possible to also feel joy, and thankfulness. Cause we are letting our endurance grow, right?

So here’s to our endurance friends, may it grow and grow, and in the end,

may we be in need of nothing. AMEN.

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Hooking up with #tellhisstory over at http://www.jenniferdukeslee.com!

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Dear Husbands And Fathers, Find The Small Thing.

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Dear Husbands and Fathers, (or anyone loving a mother this Mother’s Day) Mother’s Day is on your doorstep. Flowers are beautiful, and will make the mothers in your lives feel beautiful and loved. Cards are special because they include words, … Continue reading