He Covers

He Covers

As I laid in bed with my daughter telling her stories before bedtime, we could hear the thunder getting louder. At first it was so faint, she was unaffected by the distant rumbles.

A few minutes later, the claps of thunder got closer and louder. She stopped for a moment and held still, realizing a storm was beginning to pass over us. “Can you get closer to me, momma?”

A couple more booms and she interrupted our story. “Momma…can you get your arms and hands and hold me?”

I moved as close as I could to her and wrapped my arms around her, holding her head close to my chest. I could feel her nervousness in the tension of her little body. I hated that she so scared, but I loved being right there with her—guarding over her, wrapped around her. We finished our story and I sang our nightly lullaby. Ever so slowly her breathing softened and her muscles relaxed.

Even after she fell asleep, I laid there for a few extra minutes absorbing the sweetness of my girl’s words—“can you get your arms and hands and hold me?” I loved that I was her security. I loved that I was the one that brought her comfort and peace. I loved it because sometimes…I just need that too.

Whether it’s been one of those days, or I’m in the thick of a really challenging life issue, there are times my heart begs God, “Can you please just get your arms and hands and hold me?” Some days I just need to feel that comfort and security wrapped around me and covering me completely.

God, can you please just get your arms and hands and hold me?

God’s Word says that he is our refuge and strength (Psalm 46:1), our rock, fortress, deliverer and shield (Psalm 18:2). The entire book of Psalms is overflowing with people’s pleas for God’s rescuing, as well as declarations of God’s faithfulness.

After I lost our first baby six years ago, I laid in an ER bed trying to process the emotional and physical brokenness that I had just endured. The chaplain walked in to talk with us. He laid a mint green shawl down the length of my body, covering me. It was crocheted by a hospital ministry and given to mommas who had just lost a baby. Over the next few weeks, I held it, I wrapped it around my, and I covered myself with it. And every time I physically covered my body with it, my heart was being covered too.

As humans, we all have this need to be covered in different ways. We need shelter to cover our families. We need clothing to cover our bodies. We need bandages to cover our wounds. Maybe you’ve even heard the expression, “I’m covering you in prayer.” We are all in need of covering.

Even now, as I pray at night, I ask God to cover my life and everyone and everything in it. Cover it with his protection, his blessing, his anointing.

When it seems like darkness is swallowing the world, He covers.

When evil threatens the security of our hearts and minds, He covers.

When anxiety attempts to steal our peace, He covers.

It doesn’t mean that the pain dissolves—but He promises to cover you with comfort. It doesn’t mean that brokenness disappears—but He promises to cover with restoration.

Our God is a God who covers. He sees and knows and covers. His love covers you and it destroys fear. His light covers you and it drives out darkness.

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:4

The Truth About My Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

The Truth About My Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

ppd

My baby. She was finally here. She was healthy and in my arms…and she was perfect.

We bought a new home only 3 weeks before her arrival. It had way more space than our tiny, one bedroom condo. It was a place to finally call our own. A place where we could paint every wall hot pink if we wanted to because it was ours. There was room to grow. It was perfect.

Everything was perfect…except it wasn’t.

The immediate months following my transition into motherhood were hard. Really hard. I constantly wondered how every other new parent was able to handle it all, while I was slowly crumbling.

The sleep deprivation alone was enough to break any person into a hundred pieces. But there were also the changing hormones, the new dynamic between me and my husband, and the heavy responsibility of being another human being’s everything. And on top of it all, came the constant arguing, the deep anxiety and the paralyzing panic attacks. I felt so sad that I was almost numb. The scenarios I worried about were not only irrational, they were extreme.

It was all balled up together like a bowl of tangled, spaghetti noodles—everything intertwined and knotted. One thing seemed to affect another thing which led to another, and another and another. I couldn’t find the beginning or end. And I could no longer decipher an irrational meltdown from a logical concern. It was all the same. I was tired and empty and felt completely alone.

I resented my husband for not doing more. Not taking the baby more. Not cleaning more. Not helping me more. But when he offered to help, I didn’t even know which of the moving pieces to give him. I was juggling it all and if I handed off the baby, or gave him one task or chore or action, the whole thing would fall apart. It was just easier if I did it. I felt myself getting dangerously worn but I felt too guilty to stop. There was no solution—I either resented him for not helping or I felt gut-wrenchingly guilty for asking for help. I was the mom. I was the one who was supposed to be able to do it all. Right?

But the single working part that I had become starting breaking. One person can only go or do so much before they just…can’t anymore.

And that’s where I found myself. I couldn’t. I barely recognized the woman in the mirror. Even worse, I didn’t like her anymore.

I longed to be a momma my entire life, so needing help felt like I was failing at the one thing that I always aspired to be. Nobody told me it would be this hard. Nobody told me that parenthood would test the endurance of my marriage, challenge my emotional and spiritual condition, and make me question my own self-identity.

I had heard of “baby blues.” What a cute, non-threatening label. I had also heard of “postpartum depression.” That term sounded more medical and serious, but still, I didn’t truly know what it was. I had never even heard of “postpartum anxiety.”

My preconception of postpartum depression led me to believe that it was uncommon, and when a woman did experience it, it was within the first few weeks of having a baby. I was far passed the few weeks mark—my baby was 5 months old—so it had to be something else. Maybe motherhood just wasn’t as natural for me as I thought it would be. Maybe I needed to get away for a while. Maybe my husband and I were growing apart. Maybe I was just losing it.

I wanted to be a mom and I loved my baby and I was healthy and young. I had a new home, a great husband, and beautiful healthy baby. What was there to be depressed about?

Yet, I was suffocating. I hadn’t expressed my feelings to anyone. Not to the degree in which they were exploding inside of me. All my mommy-friends looked like they had their lives together. It seemed as if motherhood was a breeze for them. They were happy and organized…and showered. I was barely functioning.

And after 5 months of feeling inadequate, overwhelmed, anxious and exhausted, I realized it wasn’t getting better. In fact, everything was getting worse.

I wasn’t just tired. I wasn’t just feeling the newness of being a momma. I wasn’t just “in a funk”.

It went deeper. So much deeper.

Finally, I met my breaking point. “I need help. I can’t do this anymore. I’m done. I wasn’t crying for help with the dishes or housework or holding the baby. I needed help with my entire life. My marriage, my mind, my body.

I called my doctor. I called my pastor’s wife. I called my mom. I talked to my husband. I went to a professional counselor. And I began to open up with the moms around me. Just saying those 3 words were freeing in itself—“I need help.”

The moment I began to feel the warmth from the intentional support of others, my hope and clarity began to restore. I had existed in hopelessness and helplessness for so long that hope felt…strange. Strange but wonderful. Like a precious friend you haven’t seen in years—you know them well, yet don’t fully recognize them.

Because there were so many different kinds of issues and struggles going on inside of me—and because new pains had mixed with resurfaced ones—it took everyone on my “team” to help me. My husband, my pastor’s wife, my counselor, my doctor, my momma-friends. Each person helped me in different, vital ways. Each contributed a level of healing.

My doctor and I came up with a 3 week plan. Three weeks of counseling, being intentional with what I was eating, how I was exercising, spending time in the sunshine, allowing myself time to be alone. After the 3 weeks, I would have a follow-up appointment to reassess how I was doing and see if there was any improvement. If there wasn’t much improvement, we would then discuss incorporating medicine. It wasn’t night an overnight “cure” but within the first few days of starting my new routine, I noticed an improvement. I could already breathe easier. Because this was an ongoing process, I remained intentional with my self-care routine and stayed aware of how I was feeling.

My senses felt crisper. I was living again, not just surviving. And it happened because I spoke out.

Postpartum depression and anxiety can vary in appearance from momma to momma. Its heaviness can gradually grow like single grains of sand slowly piling up. Or it can come on very suddenly. There isn’t a definitive list of emotions or symptoms and there isn’t an exact timeframe as to when it can happen. And I think that’s why it can go undetected or ignored for so long.

If you’ve recently had a baby—even within the last year—and you feel overwhelmed, hopeless and completely empty to the point of feeling like you can’t function as a person, I encourage you to speak up for yourself. Talk to a professional. There is no reason to feel ashamed or embarrassed. I know that you want to be the absolute best momma to your baby. I know you may feel guilty asking for help or wanting to take time for yourself. But in order to fill up the ones around you, you have to be filled yourself. Caring for yourself—mind, body and spirit—should remain a top priority. I’m not sure why there is still such a stigma around postpartum depression but I can tell you with complete certainty, you are not alone, you are not failing and there is nothing to be ashamed about. I promise you, there is help nearby and things are going to get better.

Seasons of Savoring and Suffering

Seasons of Savoring and Suffering

dirt and grass

Here’s some honesty for you: A few months ago I lost my makeup bag. Not misplaced it. Not set it down somewhere I don’t usually keep it. I straight up lost it. I couldn’t for the life of me remember when I had seen it last (meaning I couldn’t remember when I had actually put makeup on last.)

I sometimes very often find myself standing in the middle of my kitchen just staring at the overflowing sink full of dirty dishes and wonder, How? How can 4 people make all these overnight? And how in the world are there 47 dirty sippy cups in here!? We don’t even own 47 sips cups, yet here they are.

And my bedroom almost always has at least one pile of laundry in it that’s just begging to be folded and put away. My reaction to its pleas are always the same. I kick it out of the way to show it who’s boss and sternly remind it that it’s lucky it even got washed.

Ok, ok. My examples of missing makeup bags and condescending laundry piles may not totally resonate with you, but hey, I’m a mom to 2 littles (and one on the way.) So my makeup-less days really are filled with wiping, scrubbing, changing and washing. And an occasional, “Spit that out of your mouth!

But I’m not just talking about housework or mommyhood. This happens to me as a wife. And a friend. And a woman. And a human being in general.

I feel like I’m constantly moving—yet not going anywhere. Like I’ll be stuck in a certain place with a certain routine forever.

My days become this constant, repetitive spinning cycle. And if I let it, I get caught in its rotation and forget to…you know…breathe.

My point is this. It’s so easy to just do routine. To get what needs to be done done. And one day, you pause and look around and think to yourself, Where am I? How did I get here? I used to have the energy to put on makeup everyday. I used to have time to finish things. I used to be so confident as to what direction to go in life.

But what the Lord has been showing me recently is that life comes and goes in seasons. Nothing lasts.

And when I grasp that perspective, it makes it a little easier to push through the hard days and causes me to more fully savor the good ones.

I’m sure there have been seasons of your life that have felt endless, but looking back at them now, you can see they didn’t last forever.

There were times in college where I literally thought a class was going to kill me. The work was hard, the professor sounded like the guy from the Clear Eyes commercial except not as interesting. (I probably just dated myself with that reference. If you’re a little young thing, please smile and nod…then watch them on YouTube so we can be on the same page.) I had to work my tail off in those classes just to make an average grade.

But that time didn’t last. The class really did end and eventually it became a faint memory that still makes my eye twitch. It was a season that passed.

After college I went through a huge emotional shifting. I had to figure out life very quickly when my entire world felt like it was crumbling around me. I didn’t know what to do or where to go or if I would make it out in one piece.

But I did make it—more whole than I ever could have thought possible. In that dry land of unknowns, I cultivated strong friendships. I learned more about myself in that season of difficulty than I had in any previous season of ease. That time didn’t last. It became a season that passed.

After my husband and I got married, there was so much to figure out and get used to. Thank goodness he put the roll of toilet paper on the right way, so that wasn’t one of the battles. (The correct way is over…not under. Ever.) But we still had a lot of other important decisions to make. Jobs, moving, finances, transition. And then there was the general settling in to our new married roles. There were many times that we didn’t know what was around the corner or if our rent would even get paid.

But we made it. The hardships sealed us together in the most beautiful way. We had to lean into each other and rely fully on God during that season. It was scary and wonderful and life changing. I wouldn’t want to do it over again, but I’ll tell you, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Because we learned to quiet ourselves to hear His voice when we desperately needed direction, we recognized His voice when He called us into the next wonderful season. And every year we’ve gotten strong and stronger.

Four years ago and 2 years ago, I miscarried babies. We went through a season of grief and rawness. I ached for my babies and I cried every day. There were no answers to the whys or guarantees for the future. But those times changed me. My losses stirred up strength. The brokenness brought wholeness in some ways.

And although the scars will always be there, the initial sting lasted a season.

Life is not a solid line stretching from point A to point B. It’s fluid—constantly moving, changing and shifting.

If you are grieving deeply and feel like nothing will ever resemble anything close to normal again, remember—there will be life again. There is a future and it is filled with more seasons. Healing is on its way.

If you find yourself in a place of confusion and you’re wondering whether you should move forward or hold still, remember—this is a season. Listen to His voice. Clarity is coming.

If you can’t find your makeup bag for 4 days because you barely have enough energy to do anything besides chase adorable little people around the house and wash their 47 sippy cups every night, remember—little people grow up and one day there won’t be sippy cups to wash. So savor the chaos. Forget the makeup. It will soon be a season that passed.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: Ecclesiastes 3:1

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

Something Bigger Is Happening

Something Bigger Is Happening

TV

I am not an avid news watcher. Hours of death, destruction and hatred—then at the end, throw in a story about a squirrel that can water ski to lighten things up. I’m sorry, but there aren’t enough water skiing rodents in the entire world to lighten the burdens of the evening news. I just can’t do it. But whether or not we actually sit down and watch a news broadcast, the many devices and social platforms we have definitely keep us plugged into worldwide happenings the instant they occur. There’s really no escaping it.

My family and I went to lunch the other day. And about 5 minutes after we sat down, our waitress asked, “Did you hear about the shooting? My sister just called me and said there’s an active shooter near the hospital.” Her next question was, “And what would you like to drink?” And in one of those weird moments where you say something you never thought you’d hear yourself say, I replied, “Oh my goodness, I haven’t heard anything about the shooting…and…umm…I’ll take a Coke…”

My husband got on his phone and sure enough, every local news station was covering the story but very few details were available. We just sat there, unsettled by the fact that there was a shooter loose in our city.

And this story isn’t isolated. My newsfeed and heart have been completely overwhelmed lately with horrendous stories of a pastor’s pregnant wife being murdered in their own home; crowds of innocent people being targeted with bombs; families being driven out of their towns, forced to leave behind everything they know. My mind can’t comprehend the pain, devastation and brokenness that other humans are experiencing at this very moment.

And sometimes, I have a really hard time with it all.

Lord, how does this happen to the innocent? To people who love you? To children? None of it makes sense.

I battle and I pray and still…I just don’t understand. I will never understand. And when all feels like chaos, I desperately cling to the truth that the only place my heart will remain secure is in Jesus. Even when I don’t understand why. Especially when I don’t understand why.

There is something bigger happening here. And I desperately long to perceive it on a deeper level.

In a heartbreaking situation where a man’s wife was brutally attacked then murdered in their own home, his reaction was one of forgiveness…and love. How can a man respond like that to something so hellish?

There’s something bigger happening here.

When bombs went off and the lives of thousands of people were forever changed in the matter of seconds, it would seem that was the end of the story. Yet numerous reports of kindness, selflessness and unity are surfacing from those unlikely moments of devastation.

There’s something bigger happening here.

People who are making their way across foreign lands—who have lost children, parents, and siblings because of the God they worship—refuse to forsake His name. They are struggling to just to stay alive, but will not reject the Savior they serve. He is all that they have. They’ve literally had everything and everyone they love taken away because of their unwavering faith. Yet, they hold steadfast in proclaiming His name.

There’s something bigger happening here.

With all of the fear that surrounds these evil attacks that have been carried out by evil itself, I know that peace—real peace—will come only from my Lord. And when the uncertainty of tomorrow is too heavy to hold, I will meditate on the One who is already there. When nothing can be trusted, I will place my trust in Him.

Because there’s something bigger happening here.

The continual existence of evil and the pain of the innocent still doesn’t make sense—but when the voices of the broken speak of things like hope and forgiveness and wholeness, it’s clear that something bigger is happening within the raw details and moments of their lives. And that bigger thing is the power of Jesus.

Blessed be the Lord!

    For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.

The Lord is my strength and my shield;

    in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;

my heart exults,

    and with my song I give thanks to him.

The Lord is the strength of his people;

    he is the saving refuge of his anointed.

Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!

    Be their shepherd and carry them forever.

Psalm 28:6-9

5 Things to do for Someone Who's had a Miscarriage

5 Things to Do for Someone Who’s Had a Miscarriage

5 Things to do for Someone Who's had a Miscarriage

As many as 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. That means the odds are either you or someone you know has experienced the loss of a baby through miscarriage.

As a woman who has lost 2 babies, I can attest to the healing power of other’s loving words and supportive actions. Although I have experienced loss firsthand, I still struggle to find the words to say to someone else who has lost a baby. Each loss is so unique, just like each woman who is grieving is unique. But as with any heart that is hurting, comfort does not come from a perfect sentence or flawless sentiment. A grieving momma just needs to know that you are available and that she is loved.

Don’t allow the uncertainty of knowing what to say keep you silent.

Here are 5 things you can do to support and love someone who has just experienced miscarriage.


1.) Send a Card

It may seem like a small gesture, but acknowledging her loss and telling her that she’s on your heart will mean a lot.

2.) “I’m so Sorry for Your Loss”

It’s hard to know what to say, but a simple, “I’m so sorry for your loss” can be powerful. Sometimes it’s the only thing that needs to be said. The same goes for “I’m praying for you” or “Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you.”

3.) Listen and be Present

It is easy to feel isolated after losing a baby, especially in the weeks and months following the loss. Simply inviting her out to coffee and asking how she is doing helps her not feel alone or forgotten in her grieving process.

4.) Ask to Bring a Meal

It’s the going thing to do for someone who has just brought their baby home, but what about someone who doesn’t get to bring her baby home? It can take all the emotional and mental strength she can muster just to make it through the day. Not having to worry about dinner plans allows her to focus energy on other sensitive things she needs to tend to.

5.) Remember that the Daddy Lost His Baby Too

So many times, the man gets overlooked because the miscarriage physically happened to the woman. But he is also grieving. Extending the same kind words and support to him validates his feelings and grief as well.


It doesn’t matter if you completely understand what a mommy or daddy is going through after a miscarriage. What does matters is your willingness to love and support them through a very difficult time. It is your kindness that their hearts can absorb. And that is a very precious gift to them.

Because You Are a Momma

Because You Are a Momma

smelling-flowers

It was Mother’s Day. My very first Mother’s Day.

And I felt lovely. Not because of what I was wearing or how my hair or makeup looked.

I felt lovely because I was growing life.

Seven months prior, I had lost a baby. One well-intentioned comment I received was, “I’m sorry for your loss. You’ll be a great mom…one day.”

One day?

I already was a mom. My baby’s nursery was just in heaven. I hadn’t changed a dirty diaper yet or rocked tired little eyes to sleep, but I…I was a mom.

I knew what the woman was trying to say. She was trying to comfort me and give me hope. But not being acknowledged as a mom, a title that was forever imprinted on my soul the moment I conceived, definitely stung.

So this day, my first Mother’s Day, was sacred to me. It was sacred because I was doubly celebrating being the mom; to a precious heaven baby and to the sweet little girl who was using my bladder as a trampoline.

We walked into the church sanctuary and found seats. As everyone was greeting one another, the lady seated directly in front of me “awww-ed” over my round tummy. She shook my hand and said, “Just think, next Mother’s Day you’ll be a mommy!”

Excuse me? Next Mother’s Day? What gives, lady? You do see the bulge under my shirt? Yeah, that’s a human being. She’s made me almost pee my pants twice since I sat down. But tell me, when do you think I’ll become a mom? After she’s born? When she actually calls me momma? When she can spell the word momma?

I said none of that and politely smiled and sat down. However, over the course of the next hour, I debated whether I should extend her grace like Jesus wanted me to, or if I should stick my gum in her hair.

And before you get all judgmental on me, the Lord already knows that I debated…for an hour…in the house of God. Gum or grace? Gum…or grace? Gum…or…grace? I confessed it and chose grace. But I was chewing that gum hard, I’ll tell you that much.

What I think so many people don’t understand is that once you’re a mom, you’re always a mom. And you don’t have to be holding a child in your arms in order to be a mom.

Sometimes motherhood is born from a woman’s body. Sometimes motherhood is born from a woman’s heart.

No matter what form that moment came in, you are a momma.

If your baby was born in your heart and you’ve experienced the miracle of adoption… you belong here …because you are a momma.

If you have lost a baby and your heart is heavy and your arms are empty… you belong here …because you are a momma.

If you are struggling with infertility and your motherhood feels invisible to the world… you belong here …because you are a momma. I see you. And so does God.

If your arms are eagerly waiting to hold the little person that your tummy is growing… you belong here …because you are a momma.

If your arms are as full as your days, chasing busy little people around the house reminding them not to play in the toilet water…you belong here…because you are a momma.

If your children are grown and live far away and you would give anything to rewind the clock, kiss their little foreheads and tuck them in bed one more time…I celebrate the love and hard work you’ve invested for so many years…you belong here…because you are a momma.

If all your children are no longer on this earth and the only things you have are precious memories…you belong here…because you are a momma.

Once you are a mom, you are always a mom.

Time, distance, eternity, circumstance doesn’t change that.

If you feel like nobody sees you…I see you, momma. And I celebrate you.

Jesus Smells Like Lavender

Jesus Smells Like Lavender

lavender

My daughter ran up to me this week with a big smile on her face, arms straight up in the air, one hand holding a small glass spray bottle. Its glass is a deep, transparent blue that makes it look like something that should be sitting in the window sill of a beach house. The handwritten label reads, Lavender & Rescue Remedy.

Momma, spway me, pwease!” Anytime I put on a body spray, she too needs to smell pretty. But this particular bottle is a cherished one and every drop of its contents considered valuable. It was given to me by our midwife after we lost our first baby. She came to visit a couple days after everything happened to check in and see how I was doing. She sat beside me, opened her bag and pulled out the blue bottle. She told me to close my eyes, breathe deeply and then began misting my face and the air around me with the delicate scent of tiny purple flowers. So now, whenever I smell lavender, my mind involuntarily transports me back to that time.

The fragrance carries me to a place half way between here and eternity.

When my soul is heavy with grief, the smell of lavender fills me with the intense power of His peace that surpasses all understanding.

When the ache of loss puts me in a sorrowful slumber, lavender awakens my heart and I sense the intimacy of His presence.

Lavender reminds me that instead of remaining shattered in sadness, His fierce love restored me.

Why does a scent hold so much power? Because to me, Jesus smells like lavender.

The air being filled with the holy aroma came at a time without coincidence.

April is a very emotion-filled month for me. The 13th is our first baby’s due date; the first baby that we lost. A baby’s due date becomes forever imprinted on a mommas heart from the moment she knows it. And being a due date that turned up empty adds to the sacredness of that day.

As I entered a month that brings along with it an ache and emptiness, my precious daughter was now covered in the very scent that brings me peace…that brings me Jesus. Without the pain and loss we experienced, we wouldn’t have the little girl that now skipped and played through the house, carrying with her lavender to every room. Lavender would be just another scent. I wouldn’t have been transformed by Jesus in the ways I have. I wouldn’t know Him like I do now. An idea I can’t bear to think about.

The Lord was whispering words of comfort to me, “I am still here, as close as the air you’re breathing.”

Maybe you’re in the thick of things and your heart throbs in agony.

Look around, breathe deeply. Do you sense the presence of Jesus? Maybe it flows in the scent of lavender, or maybe it’s in seeing a small green clover. Or perhaps it’s carried in a song or in a car ride through the country. Don’t overlook the tangible traces you see. Don’t quiet His whispers or dismiss them as coincidence.

He is near. The evidence is all around you.

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17