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The Unconditional Love of a Toddler

I have just sat down on the couch after dinner and picking up a few things when my daughter asks for a snack. I knew the request was coming but wish it would have come before I sat down. I get up and walk to the cabinet to fetch a granola bar for my daughter and a glass of milk. I take it over to her and sit once again to rest.

Then the last straw comes, she spills her milk all over the floor and I snap. I release words of frustration as she sticks out her bottom lip in sadness. “Mama, I sorry…”

There are two things that are a constant through this time of emotional struggle. One, I am tired both emotionally and physically and two, I snip at my daughter more often than I should. After coming home from a long day at work and then cleaning up after my daughter, I get frustrated. I try to ignore the little messes and spills that happen but often times it becomes the last straw. As a mother, my actions have made me feel like a horrible mom. I feel like a failure which, as you can imagine, doesn’t help my mood.

But as the day comes to an end, I find that my daughter still loves me. She still wraps her arms around my neck and asks me to read her a story. She still tells me she loves me and that she wants a kiss. Her love for me does not change because of the mistakes I have made and the way I have treated her.

What an amazing example of unconditional love. And if we think about it, this is how God loves us. How many times do we snip at God, questioning how He is handling our lives? Yet, He still loves us. He still pulls us close and tells us how much we mean to Him. His love for me does not change just because of the mistakes I have made and the way I treat Him.

Just because we mess up in life doesn’t mean we are loved any less. God still longs for time with us and wants to show us how much He loves us. What are you struggling with at this point in your life that causes you to feel unloved? I want to encourage you to take a moment and think about how God still loves you.

Healing a Heart

As most of you have probably seen, I have not written in a very long time. I made a goal last January to write on a regular basis and was doing well for a while before I started to hit some health issues.

I have a history of heart issues. Issues that I was born with. In 2013 I had a cardiac ablation for what they thought was Supraventricular Tachycardia. What that means is I had an extra muscle in my heart that made it beat fast. Or so they thought…

I started having more palpitations so I went back to the cardiologist. Here is the funny thing, after the ablation, I had more issues with palpitations but each cardiologist I went to see told me it was nothing and that I was fine. So, eventually, I quit going. I started to believe that it was all in my head. After all, they were the experts right?

This past summer, the palpitations began to get worse and chest pain followed. Normally, with SVT you get chest pain but it goes away after a little bit. This was not the case for me. On a daily basis, I was having severe chest pain. I went to my general practitioner and she decided that it wasn’t in my head and I needed to see someone. She referred me to a different cardiologist (one I had never seen before).

The first couple visits were routine. EKGs, ultrasounds, blood work, you name it. The difference was, this cardiologist did not think it was in my head. He knew it wasn’t right and was determined to figure out what was going on. I was put on a halter monitor for 15 days which caught a rapid heart rate but he was not convinced that it was the SVT back. He referred me to a second cardiologist but ordered more tests to check other issues. He was the plumber of the heart and the other cardiologist was the electrician. Together, they wanted to figure out what was happening but I remained positive.

The last test I took was a CT of the heart. A few days later I was back in the doctor’s office for the results. I was expecting him to tell me the usual. Nothing was wrong with the scan and it probably was SVT. As he came into the room, he had trouble gathering his words and at that moment, I knew it was not good. His first words were, “I’m glad we did this test.” and then silence. A look of worry filled his face as he explained to us that I have an extremely rare heart defect where one of the major arteries that sit on top of my heart run between two of the vessels.

He explained that, normally, doctors diagnose this after an individual has died from sudden heart failure. Unfortunately, since they do not know a lot about the heart defect there are only a handful of people in the U.S. who even know how to do the surgery. At first I thought, oh surgery, it will probably be really simple like my cardiac ablation. Unfortunately, it is open heart surgery.

Open heart surgery. The phrase still runs through my mind as a bad dream. How can I be at this point? Just months ago we were talking about having another child and getting excited for that reality. Now that dream feels shattered and fear feels like the only logical feeling to have.

Deep inside I know that I have to trust God’s plan. He is the one who can get us through this but man, sometimes that task seems difficult. I hope I can be a beacon of hope to others struggling as well. I will continue, as much as I can, with posting my journey through this hard time.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified. Do not be discouraged. For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

The Struggle of a Working Mom

I’m a working mom. It is no surprise to many of the people who know me. I work the 8-5 job at a Credit Union that is an hour away from home. As a working mom, I struggle. I struggle with the idea that I am not home with my daughter; giving her the education I believe she deserves and the love that I can provide as a mother.

I have a wonderful job and am blessed in the world we live in today to earn the kind of money that I do. I come from a job where I didn’t feel valued and dreaded coming to work every day. I am valued here and rarely have to deal with customer service (a role I quickly got burnt out on growing up). I am a part of a team that can make a difference in the life of others. So yes, I am very blessed to be where I am right now, but it isn’t where I want to be. My dream is to be a stay at home mom, teaching our daughter; writing and drawing in my spare time.

I spent six years at Western State Colorado University studying and earning my degree. There were days I thought I would never graduate and nights I cried myself to sleep because I was so stressed out and now, I am working in a job where I am not utilizing my degree the way I want but maybe that is the key here. It isn’t where “I” want to be. What if God has a bigger plan for my life that I don’t realize?

As Christians, we are called to be disciples of Christ and be used for His glory. When our life becomes about “me” and “I”, we quickly lose sight of that. I am not saying forget about your dreams. God gives us dreams and talents for a reason but how can your dreams and your talents be used for God’s glory? I will always keep asking God to make my dreams happen but they will probably not happen the way I want.

I also need to remember that just because I am not where I want to be in life with my degree and my talents, I shouldn’t shove them aside and never use them. The past few years I have pushed aside my talents and dreams because I have given up. Constant rejection has made me give up and I need to redirect my steps. I need to continue to utilize my talents and practice. I need to be prepared for when God decides to open that door.

What talents and dreams are you pushing aside? Don’t give up on those dreams. I know it sounds cheesy but, seriously, don’t give up on them. Pursue them every day. Pray and ask God to use your talents and dreams for His glory. And if you have a special dream, ask Him for it. Don’t stop asking Him. When we ask for something, He will make it happen when it is for His glory.

Valentine’s Day, Yay!

It’s almost Valentine’s Day! A day where our significant others buy flowers, chocolate, teddy bears, take us out to nice dinners and express their love to us. A holiday where couples are overjoyed and singles are usually longing for someone to share their special day with.

I have never had much luck with Valentine’s Day. I’ve gone from being single, to breaking up on Valentine’s but have also had to work with no Valentine’s dinner date available. A year ago, on Valentine’s, I almost lost my Valentine. Through a stream of hard times and challenges in life, my husband became depressed. He was so depressed that I almost lost him that night to suicide. Trust me, it was one of the worst Valentine’s Days I’ve ever had.

If there was one thing I learned from that time, a year ago, it is how valuable our loved ones are to us. Don’t ever take them for granted and don’t just make Valentine’s a routine every year. I want to encourage each and every one of you to put your heart into this Valentine’s Day. Whether you are the one who normally receives the gifts or you are the one giving the gifts. Truly spend some time showing the one you love just how much they mean to you.

Do something different and special this year. Instead of the usual flowers and candy, do a scavenger hunt during the day that leads to a fun dinner or leave special notes around your home, car and (if you are able) your spouse’s workplace telling them the many reasons why you love them. If you are both busy on Valentine’s, plan a special weekend dinner or stay up late to watch a movie together.

Don’t let another Valentine’s go by as being just another mundane Valentine’s. Let your special someone know just how special they are to you. I know, it sounds really cheesy to say that but I have learned just how easily a Valentine’s Day, that is supposed to be a happy loving day, can turn into one of the darkest days of your life. I was blessed that day to still have my husband by my side at the end of the day. He may have been broken but he is still alive.

If you are reading this and you are dealing with depression or suicide and don’t know how to get through the holiday, please, find someone to talk to. Maybe it is a friend, a pastor, or a family member. Or, if it is to the point that you are suicidal, call someone. There is a suicide hotline that you can call. The number is, 1-800-273-8255. Don’t be afraid to talk. Sometimes it takes talking to someone to get you through that day.

Remember to show the ones you love just how much you love them this Valentine’s Day!

Lessons From the World

Growing up in a Christian family, I was always taught that we should look for healing in the church and not the world. When we are hurting, we turn to the church or to a Brother or Sister in Christ. The idea of turning towards the world when hurting was talked about as a negative idea.

When I reached a point in my life where I was fighting depression and suicide, I knew I had to make a change. I switched colleges and moved four hours away to a little mountain town to continue my degree and try to get some healing. I attended three of the churches down there, talked regularly with a Sister in Christ and even chatted with professors who shared the same beliefs as I did. I received a little bit of healing but not enough to completely help me.

While all this was going on, I met three friends (who I will leave unnamed) who were not believers; or if they were, they never talked about their beliefs. These friends were there to listen, to talk and to help me through my pain. They showed me what it meant to live through pain. One friend had dealt with suicide himself, another had dealt with the divorce of her parents, and the third had lost his mother to cancer and his sister was murdered; they all had lost so much but could still live life to the fullest.

Every day I spent time with them, I learned from them. I learned how to leave my pain behind, I learned how to shut out the hurtful words of others and I learned how to keep living. I am forever grateful to those friends. They taught me more than anyone else had.

Over the past year, I have been angry with God. I’ve been angry about how He has let bad things happen to me and I felt like He was so far away in my pain. I didn’t understand why He could let all these bad things happen to me and not step in to intervene.

On my lunch breaks and after work when the dishes were done, the laundry was folded and my little girl was finally in bed, I would sit down to watch Greys Anatomy. Yes, it is a show that has a lot of things I don’t agree with but there is a character in that show who shares the same name as me and shares similar beliefs. In one of the seasons she struggles with the same feelings as I did a little bit ago. She was angry with God, didn’t understand why He didn’t step in and take control of all the bad in her life and in the world.

Throughout about three or four episodes, she struggles with hating God. The last episode I watched, she met a rabbi who was dying. She poured her heart out to him and explained everything she was struggling with and all the anger she had. The dying rabbi told her that God didn’t leave her side; that He was right there the whole time. He also talked about how without pain and trials in the world, there would be no faith. He said if the world was perfect, there would be no reason to have faith in our lives. At that moment, everything the rabbi was saying hit home for me and broke me down. I needed to hear his words (or the words of the writer) in order to move forward from my anger and my pain.

I say these two stories to show you that healing can be given by God through the most unlikely places. Obviously, take caution. There are things that you should never turn to in order to find healing. Sex before marriage, alcoholism, drugs, etc. All the things that God says to never do, don’t turn to them for relief from your pain. However, don’t think that you can’t learn from the world either. Healing doesn’t just come from the church or from our brothers and sisters in Christ (although those are perfect places to turn). God can allow healing through some amazing people who are non-believers or words written by others that can be heard in a TV show or in a book.