Get ‘er done.

My shop is really going to be for sale.  I suspect it will sell this time.  There is a big lump in my throat.  A moment of self reflection:  I used to have potential.  Twenty years ago I graduated a kid with promise for a future.  A lot of people invested in me with scholarships and time.  And as it turns out, I wasn’t that promising.

My roommate and near life-long friend, Gretchen, can testify to that!  I moved out of my house within a week following high school graduation.  I moved in with my sister to Moscow, Idaho.  I would be attending the university of the same great state in the fall.  I was a pre-medical major.  Fancy.  I really did have the potential for this.

I spent most of the summer running, making myself puke, and playing on the internet.  That fall I started at college only to end early  – a disappointing seven months later.  I could not function.  I could not articulate what was happening at the time, but see it now as a post-traumatic reaction.  I wasn’t able to sleep, maintain a schedule, was extremely harsh on my body with alcohol.  In addition, I was also sick.  I didn’t realize when I started getting “real” sick a few years later, that it really started here.

Pink-eye got in the dorms and immediately I get it in both eyes, severely.  I can still remember Gretchen grabbing me warm washcloths so I could open my eyes in the morning.  I got a walking pneumonia that required a week out of classes.  When I left, I went home with a mononucleosis that wouldn’t quit – swelling in my liver and lymph nodes lasted well into the next summer.

The only thing I was amazing at in college:  writing.  My first essay read aloud by my professor.  It was about a handsome red headed boy named, Todd.  I killed that paper and many more.

All these years later and my grammar still leaves something to be desired.  But, in what appears to be a mess of a life, I have one thing that I can still do to the beat of my own typing…  I can write.

At this present moment I feel trapped and suffocated and that is why I am writing.  Knowing that my flower shop will be for sale, very soon, and my chance at the “real world” is dwindling away, I am sad.  I have tears of grief and regret.  I don’t think I ever really had a chance to try it 100%.

I started it with two kids under the age of 3, a part-time I job I kept for several years after I bought the shop, a husband who worked in Boise and spent many extra late nights and weekends there to pursue his own interests, a mom filled with cancer, and living with what would later be diagnosed as MS.  I didn’t do that bad, but I normally don’t give myself credit for it.  The flower shop was always viewed as the subordinate job by both my husband and I, a mere hobby that paid for itself.   I got the chance to pursue it more full-time once Toby  and I agreed to let the kids back in public school, but at that point I was paying for mistakes of years past and trying to figure out how to get back to investing with what I knew now, and I was behind a lot.  After getting the MS diagnosis, around this time, we tried to venture into a joint building and business combination, but it still didn’t work.

As the kids are aging, it is easier to be at work, but it is getting much more difficult to be spontaneous with my time.  And, I am saving all my energy for work.  I don’t feel good, all the time.  I am a prisoner of pain.  Being so trapped and filled to the brim with tension just as you are, makes it hard to be flexible.  Both physically and emotionally and mentally.  You’re just trying to cope with making flowers, much less trying to mentally power through how to keep bills paid, employees busy, kids occupied, everyone happy, etc..  It is a lot of work just to be.

And, so it is as I let go of what was and look forward to what is to come, I am afraid and pessimistic and sad and filled with regret.

That was my big try at life and I am not satisfied.

I am fearful that as I go back to having no income, no source of money, I will continue to waste away in my worthlessness.  God chose finances to illustrate value.  Phooey, right?  Unless you’re rich.  Ha.  As a married couple, we’ve always had separate finances and I don’t ask for anything well, much less money.  That will be hard.  I don’t think there is money in my husband’s budget and I am concerned.

While my husband and I dated, started our lives together, and even as we lived here in this town for the last thirteen years, Toby has always had this thing and his hobbies and his friends and his life.  Before we moved here, I would just go where he was playing.  Whatever it was Toby did, I watched, played, or followed.  I had no self.  I am concerned that losing the shop also takes away anything that makes me tangibly special to this world and I lose all the ways I found to play and get by in life.

If this blog finds you today, wherever you are, please pray for me.  Most recently, my husband posted a blog page I wrote on Facebook and an astounding number of people responded with prayer.  I don’t know if anyone read what I had to write or they just prayed, but I could feel something change within me and there was no other explanation except Jesus.  The only thing it could possibly be is the peace that surpasses understanding.  I would ask for your continued prayers.

The good, the bad, and the ugly.

I am probably in one of the more vulnerable states that I have been in.  Probably, not the best time to blog.  Probably, not the best time to share.  It is in these raw moments of life that I find my writing to be the most real and alive, however.  And, for this reason, along with the idea that I want to maintain a certain degree of authenticity and transparency, I will write.  Sometimes, it is hard looking back at times I have failed big and and pressed “publish.”  I wanted to delete, but I didn’t.  I chose to stack stones and I am glad I did.

Yesterday I got my first full dose of Ocrevus.  It is my drug for my MS.  I feel pretty gross today.  I did not expect this.  I am super busy at work.  Memorial Weekend.

I was in wet grass, traipsing up and down the fields of graves at the Rosedale Memorial Gardens this morning early.  The sender doesn’t have a clue where the grave is and there is no one to help.  So, you do what florist’s do and you hunt.  It can be super fun, really.  When it is windy, cloudy, you’re hung over from a heavy dose of medication, and you have one flat grave to find in a sea of flat graves…  grave hunting isn’t as fun.  I am walking without my cane, but I am very slow and I am limping to some degree throughout the day.  If I stop moving at all, for any amount of time greater than a minute, and start moving again, I will need some warm up time.  I am in pain in my right leg almost always and I am still not told what the cause is, if it is not MS.   I was in a lot of pain this morning.  It was then that I got a message that my husband was already headed out of town to Boise for an unexpected work trip.  Something about losing my guy for the day, really blew me over.  The kids first day off for summer break, not wanting them to already acclimate to screen time 24-7, and just feeling the added pressure to perform well at work.  I realize quick that there is more and more I “can’t handle.”  Emotionally, mentally, physically.

Silly things, like hair and make-up are a big chore with tired shoulders.  Arms are heavy.  I rarely load or unload the dishwasher because bending over and repetitive tasks seems to really cause spasms and fatigue in my torso, back, and limbs.  My mom got us a new dish washer for Christmas.  I seriously do not know which buttons to push.  I pay the girls each $100 a month to do dishes, vacuum, and some other chores around the house.  Laundry is another tough one.  Folding is not my jam.  I can do it, but it comes at a cost.  Toby is the laundry dude.  I have been a gardener since I was a little girl, but  I haven’t planted an annual blossom in years.  Digging in the dirt is a lot of work.  This was one of my favorite hobbies.

Hobbies are few.  I was super embarrassed to admit that to my nurse yesterday at the hospital.  So, they lose a vial of my medicine, right?  Like, a $15,000 vial of medication is just missing.  And, they poured a vial, so…  you have twenty four hours to use the medicine once poured and I need two, not one.  They had to scramble and find a replacement vial in Meridian and the hour to get it, took two hours…  My nurse and I got to stay late and chat because after the 4 hour infusion, you have to stay an hour.  It was not my favorite day.  But, she runs.  She’s a runner.  8-10 miles a day.  I wish I did something good and healthy and productive with a hobby.

I guess this is a hobby.  But, it’s not like a real hobby.  Right?

My husband has always had hobbies and his thing.  He’s always into something pretty heavily.  Right now, for instance, he is training for a Spartan race.  It’s this really ridiculous obstacle course for adults.  He is all in.  That’s how he do.  He will probably win a medal or some random trophy will be made up in his honor when he competes.  He is that kind of a guy.

It is hard to be married to someone so loved and able and amazing as Toby, when you’re someone like me.  The contrast in our lives is dramatic.  Like, first of all, we’re totally becoming the awkward couple because I am getting squishier and uglier, and aging quite like regular lazy Americans and he is all, “I want an eight pack for my 40th birthday.”  If people saw us together, we wouldn’t be pegged as “together,” ya know?  Bring in the fact that I mentioned I rarely do make-up or hair.  Ugh.

He reminded me today that he works very hard to do the things he wants to and sets out to do.  It doesn’t all just come to him.  I’m on the other end of the spectrum, like a hamster in a wheel trying to work, but getting much less out of my effort, than someone like Toby.

We are the weak and the strong.  The able and the not able.  The favored and the forgotten.  The good and the bad.  At least, most of the time now, that’s how my brain sees it.  I am very bad.  There is just so little self worth at this point.  Very little confidence.  Very much just bad.  Lots of bad and dark days and difficult times.

Taking care of my pain is a 24/7 job.  I think the unrelenting pain, no doctor to help, not enough faith to be healed…  all of these things have contributed to my low self-worth.  I can hardly keep my head in one direction for any amount of time, my shoulders burn with fatigue and pressure, my neck is worn.  There is no pillow, no position, no pill, no massage to provide comfort.  Bending over is a serious chore.  Turning around to give my seven year old a kiss after I’ve already walked away, irritates me because it is more work.  I went to help the play day at the school for a few hours and could hardly walk back to the car.  My legs are the biggest cause of pain.  It is nonstop.  From mild aching – like what you would expect with the flu  – is what I feel all the time.  Throughout my whole body, but absolutely my legs.  If not the aching of the flu, a major muscle strain, cramp, spasm, to sheer stabbing.  It is in my right thigh, hip, groin, and now the same thing is under my knee.  It makes walking unbearable.  It is like my leg is somehow totally stiff and totally weak all at the same time and the pain is just my muscles trying to “keep it together.”  I do not know.  And, nobody else does either.  It is hard to know how badly I feel, to keep on going, and to know that everyone expects so much of you.  When you know that if your children or spouse or employees felt this awful physically, you would change expectations.  It’s just enough to bother me and completely interfere with my life, but not enough to actually get helped.  It’s very hard.

I am very unhappy.  I think that feeling sick all the time makes one unhappy.  It makes my heart hurt to type this with so much honesty.

I am such a nuisance and burden to my family.  They have become worn.  I don’t recall any of them asking me how I felt last night or today, from the medicine.  Normally it would be a big deal, but now it’s just part of my crap.  It’s my burden.  I can’t blame them.  I really can’t.  I constantly need help and need more.

With that in mind, I have made the decision to sell my shop!  I priced it high last time.  This time I will try significantly lower, but without a realtor, and see what happens.  With my health seemingly deteriorating, with no answers or solution in sight, no guarantee of good things to come, I think this is the best choice.  I am part of the product that has made my try at the store successful.   Training someone to be me at the store, is going to take more work than I am willing to put into it at this point.  If I could have invested into it with a building, and really made it into a package deal with all the growth potential I see, I would have loved to try.  But, the bank did not see things the same way!  That was a tough day.  It’s been months ago, but still hurts pretty big.

The shop is now just a burden.  To my body, to my family, to my spirit, .  To know that it will never be a good family business with something to retire on, I think I would rather let it go.  If I would have had resources to help elevate the store with the passion I could see, it would have been more helpful in working through the pain to make something beautiful.  As it is, I have to surrender.

I guess the point of today’s blog is to one, give me a voice.  I can vent.  I can be honest.  No one can delete me or tell me to stop talking in my own space.  And, two,  sometimes it’s just helpful knowing someone else is going through what you’re going through.  Facebook is a totally fake form of social media that depicts one side of a person that they want people to see.  It is not real life.  It is not pain and struggle.  People do not treat you in real life how they treat you on Facebook.  Nobody wants to hear you complain, they just want you to be happy.  I think I am a little FB done, eh?

I want to let that one other person out there who is really struggling, to let you know that I am with you. I feel suffocated.  I want heaven more than anything.  Except, lately, I am really scared to make my account to God.  He will be utterly disappointed.  I thought when we got to heaven we were IN.   And, it looks like scripture says we have to give an account of our lives to God.  With tears welling up from the depths of my soul, I have no clue what I will say to God on how badly I messed up my try at life.  I just couldn’t figure it out.  I flunked at church.  Who flunks at church, right?  I just couldn’t get it together.  What if he doesn’t like my account?  Am I out?  Can we just skip the accounting?  Does he get the chance to reject what Jesus let in?  Why the account when we were already made clean?  Why make me go through how bad I am, when I am supposed to be in the place of no suffering?  I don’t understand.

Until then, I think maybe there is someone out there who may need to know that someone else out there gets that life sucks, a lot.  And, we just keep breathing.  And keep putting one foot in front of the other.  And keep hoping that Jesus has us even when it feels like he does not.


Go Big or Go Home

It has been a hard couple of years.  I keep saying that.  And then, new stuff comes up and it’s like, “How can it be harder?”  Isn’t it just the same level of life’ness, recycled, reabsorbed, restarted in a never ending battle of wake ups and sleeps?

I’ve been on a new journey of self-awareness in my busy life as a mom, wife, florist, and business owner coupled with a very dark trek of depression and crappy circumstances.  It’s been rough.

I’ve recently come off a very sticky patch with my health – needing a cane to walk due to pain, stiffness, and cramping in my hips and legs.  I started slowing down in November  – December and needed the cane by the end of February and March.  My neurologist, who treats me for Multiple Sclerosis, doesn’t think this is MS.  So, uh…  we’re, like, terrified this is the beginning of the bad part of the disease, only to find out it’s not MS’like?  It’s not typical of an atypical disease. We’ve heard this before.

New questions abound about Stiff Person Syndrome and my blood test results we had at the Mayo Clinic years back.  Is this SPS?  MRI says it is not a bad disc or true sciatica.  Regardless, the tummy-flipping turbulence the leg and walking problems have caused this year seems to be fading.  With it, the urgency to get help.  I was in so much pain and there was nobody to go to and nothing to stop the discomfort.  It is a harsh reality about living in a small Idaho town with a difficult health problem.  You really are at the mercy of God.

My perspective on God has been shifted and His entity has developed greatly in my mind as of lately.  For so long my relationship with God was centered around the church.  I was very comfortable.  In this valley that I am in, I can now see God in a sorta wild global  capacity.  With the new vision I have of His vastness, I also have confidence in my reliance on Him.  I have wondered and cried and doubted and feared but, I have never let go of Him.  If things wouldn’t have gone exactly how they have gone, I would not have the experience of knowing what it is like to be individually gripping to the old rugged cross.  It is radical to be able to identify yourself as an individual clinging to Jesus simply because you have nobody else left.

I have struggled with life.  With depression, conflict resolution, relationships.  I have guarded my heart so carefully in these last several years.  I feel if there is ever a chance to turn ashes into beauty for my life, I am very near the cusp of that deliberate, intricate, and unique brushstroke of God’s handiwork.

My heart keeps searching the story of Joseph.  Betrayed by his older brothers because he was favored.  Nobody likes the teacher’s pet, right?  I don’t know if that’s exactly the vibe but, I think it’s close.  So, they sell Joseph to some traders or something, pretend he was attacked by animals, and dad thinks Joseph is dead.  Through the years, Joseph turns lemons into lemonade – like, eight times – and is in control of Egypt during a famine.  This famine causes his family to starve and seek Egypt for help.  Joseph is the dude to represent Egypt for this matter.  He recognizes his brothers, they don’t recognize him.  He is crafty and makes a plan to be reunited with this father and little brother.  It is a beautiful disaster of a story.

I don’t want to miss my chance at my own redemption story.  I am down, but I don’t want to be out.  I still want the chance to thrive and live big and dream up plans that excite me and make my palms tingle.  I want to live big and hard and free.  I want to leave a genuine legacy of depth in love and in character.  I crave Christ’s plan for my life to be revealed and for my mind and heart to be obedient.


The thing about me, is that everyone gets sick of me.  Sooner or later.  Everyone has their fill.  And, I try. I have tried.  I have tried to get better.  The void just won’t fill, though.  The pain just keeps paining.  You want to believe they will choose you, they will miss you, they will want you.  But, they never do.  And, you can only go on so much with them telling you that you are bad.  That you can’t handle life.  That you let everything hurt you.  You never get better enough quick enough and then you realize you really are all on your own.  Nobody to fight for you.  Nobody to choose you first.  Just you and the Savior.  The only one who would ever choose you wholly and completely.  And it is humbling and hard and you’re thankful, but also so desperate for someone else to see that you have worth.

You don’t know how to be right.  And life just keeps going.   And the broken heart just gets broken’er.  Ha.

The things I wish I could hear the most and believe right now:

“You have done a great job with the cards you have been given.”

“You make the world a better place.”

“I’m sorry that I hurt you.”

-That I am loved.

-That someone on earth would choose me first.

-That what I say matters.

-That my feelings are real, validated, and so I can process and let go of the pain.



Amazin’ Grace

I went to a funeral service on Saturday, a younger childhood friend of mine who had left this life too early. The message was simple and sweet and the point of it all – we were there with the purpose to remember, grieve, and love, not to cast our judgment.

I left with the phrase, “There but the grace of God go I,” ringing in my ears.

I am a bull in a china shop when it comes to relationships and life! I thought, “I am sure one person that needs a lot of grace to be in people’s lives.” I trust very few people and let very few into my innermost thoughts. If you think I overshare, here, there is actually MORE you don’t get the privilege of knowing!!!  How about that?  And even if I let you in, you’re on, like, a 10-year probation period to see if I can really trust you. It’s part of my past, part of something I am working on, and if you can’t accept it, I am sad, but I am okay with it. Very cautious with my heart.

For two days after my last post, on changing the negative thought life I was condoning for so long, I felt awful.  I could not combat the dark voices in my head and wasn’t feeling supported in my environment.  It was so hard.  I had just written about overcoming negative self-talk and the process by which God was showing me to do it.  There seemed to be a cement veil between what I knew when I typed my blog message to when I needed to act on my message.  I was crushed.

My consolation was to hide, to isolate, to protect myself.  I know that pattern isn’t right, but it’s self-preservation.  We go back to what we know our brain tells us we’re in fight or flight.  I muddled through Monday, still not quite able to bounce back.  Monday night posed an even bigger struggle as I was challenged and defeated.  I didn’t understand.  I didn’t do anything right – I didn’t talk right, I didn’t listen right, I didn’t apologize right, I should have done this, I should have done that.  I was bad.  Very, very bad.

Tuesday came in with a busy day and I slumped my way to the dentist for a tooth extraction.  Ugh, right?  As I sat, I texted, and when I got home I couldn’t sleep.  I was just so disturbed by my bad feelings and overwhelmed with confusion.

I am 100% confident someone prayed for me about 2 on Tuesday afternoon.  Thank you to whoever did this!  I am aware of the Spirit manifesting its presence in me and I knew I felt God.  I felt His peace, spirit, and power come back to me and I knew, with certainty, I wasn’t as bad as I thought I was.  I got confidence in myself because of God’s confidence in me, through the mercy of Jesus, and by the work of his Holy Spirit.

I went home and tested His will, and found that instead of approving my confidence, it disproved what I had been feeling so sure of moments before.  And just when I thought I was a real whack job, the mystery unfolded.  The light came on.  In a precious little twinkle of His love for me, He gave me a glimmer of His sovereignty.  God gave me the chance to show pride, arrogance, and the muscle of how I had been wrongfully accused and treated.  He also gave me the opportunity to be His very precious daughter who is gracious, abounds in mercy, and chooses love.  I chose love!  I chose to speak softly! I chose to speak life!

My confusion about how bad I had been quickly withered away.  “There, but by the grace of God go all of us.”  We are not here as judge and jury.  We are here to love.  We may do things differently than others, but if at the heart of it is love, the intention will always be revealed as pure.

God’s love never fails.



1 Corinthians 13:8

Speakin’ Life

When I first started my mental health journey, I went to a therapist who talked a lot about the blessings and curses of life.  It sort of freaked me out.  I just don’t like talk like, “curses,” ya know? It’s like witch crafty or voodoo’ey or something that gives me the eeby jeeby’s.  It almost feels taboo.

I now realize that if you believe in good, then you must believe in evil.  If there is light, there is darkness.  If there are powers for good, there are powers for evil.  It is not as freaky as I thought it was.  As real as I believe Jesus is then I must, too, believe that Satan exists.  And, quite honestly, even saying “Satan” makes me feel awkward.  I think one of the most interesting quips I have heard about the evil one is that his greatest weapon is that he is able to convince us he doesn’t even exist.

The more that I have traveled on this road of emotional and mental recovery, the more I have learned that the spiritual powers of Satan are real, but not viable unless we engage in them.  These ideas have become less weird the more I have studied and manipulated them with thought.  Life and death.  Blessings and curses.  We choose them.  Others provide us with them.  Either way, we choose to believe them or not.   The ultimate authority is not Satan and it is not us.  It is God.  What He says goes and we know this.  We know it and yet, we often completely miss it.

I have heard it said that God can speak and it is.  I’ve heard it countless times.  It is part of who He is.  It is part of the creation story in Genesis that even non-believers might know.

Genesis 1:1-3 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.


I can honestly say that it has taken me about 10 years to really grasp the essence of the power in His voice.  The power in His words.  The power of His Word.  At church last week I was delighted to re-remember that God created all things with His all-powerful, amazing voice.  I expect it to be big and thunderous and clear.  To make vibrations happen, the pictures on the walls would respond in misalignment, dogs would whimper.  What I didn’t ever really realize until it was pointed out in the sermon, was that God didn’t speak humans into being.  He formed us with his very own self.

Genesis 2:7  Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

When He made humans, He worked us into being by thoughtfully crafting us from the dust of the earth.  The sound of His voice did not create us, yet His very breath entered into the first man’s being.  God made us like Him, in His image, and when He was done with our creation, He looked at all that was made and was VERY pleased.

It is with intrigue and passion at the mystery of our God that I reflect on these things this morning and how they affect the life of Dana Clary.  In my own journey, I have cursed myself, my being, my workings and beat myself down so terribly: bruising, breaking, abusing myself in my mental and emotional thought life.  I have used the voice God gave me to curse myself into a pattern of negativity, depression, anxiety, and instability.  This cursing has affected every aspect of my health, experience on this earth, social life, and relationships.

I know I have a puny voice, feeble and wimpy – back in the day when we all still had home phones, I would answer, even in my 30’s, and the caller would ask if my parents were home!  I have had swallowing issues from the MS and I wonder if even though I feel like I am speaking loudly and with effort, many people find my voice hard to hear because it is really not that audible as I believe it is.  But, regardless, in my own small voice, I have the power to create a blessing in my life or to create cursing in my life, and the lives of others.  I know my voice has nothing on the Creator’s, yet, I have been created in His image and likeness, and I must be compelled to believe that my voice comes with even a microscopic bit of power and authority.

I have recently been challenged by the workbook of Priscilla Shirer, “Armor of God,” to take accountability for my part in the behavior of living a cursed or dark life (pages 166-168).  I chose to take what lies I heard, both as a child and adult, and build up negative beliefs about myself.  I have allowed myself to live there.  This negative response has been my defense mechanism and my consolation.  “I’m just stupid…”

I was made aware of how to start breaking down some of the strongholds the enemy has on my life with books like, “The Battlefield of the Mind” by Joyce Meyer.  I have most recently been engaged in a book where the author, Dr. Caroline Leaf, provides a plan of attack to overcome thought patterns and brings into consciousness the idea that our brains can rebuild themselves with a blessing and actually damage themselves with cursing.  Her book, “Switch on Your Brain” comes with a 21-day journey to help overcome negative thought patterns.

I was floored to tears when I watched Beth Moore, in the opening video of her Bible study, “The Quest,” ask the question, “Who told you that?”  Who told you, you weren’t good enough, smart enough, and able enough?  Who told you, you were bad?  Who told you, you were stupid, unfit, and messed up?  If it is not in alignment with God, it is not real, unless you choose to make it real.

I would have suggested, several years ago, that there is an attitude of depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns that were completely out of my control.  Genetics, environment, personal history, disease, and more could all play a role in the darkness that I was living in.  At this point in my walk, however, I am led to believe that there is more power within us to free ourselves from the curses of darkness and live the blessed life God has for us.  We have more choice in the matter than we would like to confess.

I am by no means completely turned from my old self, healed from my corruption, or an expert in this field of study.  But, I do know that I am on a path that the Lord has crafted for me to become what He originally had designed.  I am delighted to confess my part in the way I have let my mind live only because I am at the point of repentance.  Seeking to change.  Seeking Him first, allowing Him to reshape and remold me, and feeling the wondrous new breath of life in my spirit.

I started this journey in 2016.  That’s when I first decided to reach out for help.  I expect this pilgrimage I am on to last a lifetime.  I am excited to share a transparent life only that others might find restoration in their own lives.  It is not with expertise of any sort that I write.  It is the soulful expression of the life experience of an uneducated, ordinary flower chick in little old Idaho.

Turning Off the Negative

In my former post “Switch On, Switch Off”  last week, I reported about a book I stumbled upon that helps detoxify patterns of thinking that are unhealthy and damaging.  I chose to specifically help myself from thinking negatively.  Any negative thought.  I have to admit, I have missed a few days of meditation.  Not on purpose, just busy days and not enough discipline to quiet myself, I suppose.  However, I have done it enough to note that there is a new awareness in my mind of thinking negatively.  It’s almost like when my kids were littles and they weren’t allowed to say the word, “stupid.”  Every time they heard it, lighting bolts went off in their eyes even if it wasn’t used in an offensive way to hurt a person,  “Mommy, so and so said their cell phone was stupid.”

I can sense my brain getting a little more red flaggy when I start the negative thinkin’ roller coaster.  I have had plenty of moments when I could have gone downhill fast and though I was struck down a few times in the last week, I was not defeated or crushed.  A little bruised and certainly a little disheveled, but the path of negativity and depression didn’t overwhelm my soul to the extremes I have allowed it before.

Of course when we are trying to learn something new to make ourselves improved servants of God, the enemy will attack.  There have absolutely been challenges where it is easier to say, “I’m a bad mom” or “I am a bad wife” rather than uphold my quest to conquer the gross thoughts.  However, the bouncing back periods have been getting shorter and I’ve been more buoyant.

I would also say that my therapist appreciated the idea of writing in this process because you get to see patterns you wouldn’t otherwise notice.  One thing I have seen in myself, is that when I get overwhelmed – and it doesn’t take nearly as much as it used to – the negativity tends to come out more.  I have started the process of breaking down the busy’ness of the day’s ‘to do’ lists, the chores, the being tired, and sense that taking breaks to breathe and call upon the Lord to help me through the feelings of “I can’t do this” are my next steps when this thought occurs.  I think the daily fatigue of MS, coupled with busy kids, a messy house, the busiest season at the flower shop, and the regular complications of life get the best of me.  I am going to choose to learn a new way to fight the battle in my mind in a healthy way.  I have a choice in this attitude, depression, and anxiety.  I can do something.

I think it is helpful to go back and read through the book “Switch on Your Brain:  The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health” just to sort through the big concepts as you work the process.  I do believe this plan has a viable theory to help people who want to help themselves to heal and to live in righteousness and accordance to God’s will.

Switch On, Switch Off

I recently discovered this free book on Kindle called “Switch on Your Brain:  The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health” by Dr Caroline Leaf.  I have just finished reading the book, yes it really was FREE, and now I am to the part where the rubber meets the road .  The basic concept is to start apply the keys and tools provided to capture your thoughts, replace them with positive scriptural reinforcement, and develop a new pattern of living and thinking.

I was very excited about the concepts she introduces in part one of the book.  There are bunches of technical and sciency terms that could easily squash that excitement, but they were delivered in short form and I was able to get a glimpse of how her process could work.  Though, I am far from understanding all of it.

The idea that the brain is trainable, with the mind, should not be news to me, but it was!  My brain, DNA, circumstances and environment are not in control of me.  I control my reactions and can live a very full life in any situation.  The idea that the brain is flexible and has plasticity, can be built up with positive reinforcement or damaged with negative, really hit me hard.  The brain is changeable!

Despite a lot of  my awareness, I have been unable to break free from negative thought patterns.  I use negative thoughts almost as a shield – they can’t hurt me with their words because I already know I am bad.  I have heard negative things said about me the last few years, and they have taken up space in my brain, crushed my spirit, and have been expressed by my attitude and soul and reactions to life.

I love this book because as a Christian, and a believer in an awesome God, the book does not want you to replace the negatives with positive affirmations or positive self-talk, but with scripture that we believe in.  Our maker has already breathed the remedy into the Bible, we just have to use it.

The second part of the book talks about a five step process, it takes 10 minutes or more a day to complete, and is done for 21 day cycles.  If at the end of the cycle, the thought pattern is not broken, you repeat.  If it has been broken, I believe you continue to repeat the action part of the process for two more 21 day cycles, so that it becomes automatic, as in learning to ride a bike.

The five steps are a guided meditation coupled with journaling and doing.  In the first step you gather and capture the thoughts.  You think about what you are thinking about.  It seems to me that it is a form of guided meditation where you quiet the brain and to see where the Holy Spirit convicts you to change.

In the second step you focus on the one thought you are trying to change and replace it with healthy new thoughts supported by scripture.  Again, the Holy Spirit is used in this process to lead your heart to right thinking and the new thought, scripture, and to align you with Christ.

The third step involves writing – you sum up the gathering, the reflection, the new ideas, and add more to each of the two steps above.   Writing develops the process in your mind and also allows you to visually see the thought patterns.  It can bring forth new ideas and also remind you of other areas that need work.  The first time I did this guided mediation, it wasn’t clear which thought/thought pattern I wanted to change until I got to the writing portion.  The writing is encouraged to be creative, descriptive, and in doing so, brings clarity and organization to the thoughts in the above steps.

In the fourth step, you revisit the problem thinking with a solution.  This is where the plan of attack comes in on how you will respond when the negative thinking occurs.  This is the exciting part.  You get to figure out how to fix the injured parts of the brain!

In the fifth step, you DO.  You make a point to stop the thinking or action that has been happening, capture it, toss it out, and replace it with the new thoughts or actions.  This happens throughout your day.

In 21 days, your brain should have used all of it’s amazing parts to build, remodel, shift, breakdown, and restore some harmony to your life.

It is my hope to first eliminate negative thinking, period.  I have a tendency of thinking pessimistically, or negatively, so I am defeated before the world gets a chance to defeat me.  I have specific attacks on myself that I also use (“I am bad,” “I am not a good mom,” “I suck at life,” “I am unworthy,” to name a few) and after I get through my first cycle, I hope to see some clarity on which of these negative phrases still stand out and I will work there.

For now, I just wanted to share where I was in this process.  I am excited that I don’t have to be stuck like this, in a brain that dislikes it’s owner and tells her as much daily.  I am excited to gather my scriptures to respond to my negative thinking.  I am excited to capture my thoughts and to be able to reject the ones that are not of God.

I look forward to posting again as I work my way through this detoxifying plan and I am prayerful it will bring more joy, peace, and blessing to my life.

True Grit

The truth hurts.  Sometimes we’ve been living it and not realizing it.  And then one day, “Poof!”  Truth reveals itself like the rabbit out of the magician’s hat.  The silly creature was in the hat the whole time; Hidden by a tricky panel in the hat that we were always aware of.  But, it’s not obvious to the crowd that we’ve been on stage with a rabbit in our hat until that final moment of excitement and escalated “Ta da!”  Now, everyone knows.

I’ve walked a pretty close line between vulnerability and TMI.  Google “TMI,” if you don’t know what it means. Also, welcome to 2018.  When you finally reach that place of being so transparent and the things that you’ve been trying to keep hidden behind secret panels can no longer contain themselves, that’s about where I am.

The truth is, I don’t trust but a few people.  And, even those people, I expect to get hurt by.  The truth is, my formative years as a child were spent on a roller coaster of fear, violence, stress, and pain.  I was never abused physically or sexually.  Emotionally and mentally, for sure.  It is those two areas that are hard to get out of the brain.  Those bruises don’t heal as easily.

I went through a season of EMDR to release the most toxic and traumatic of my childhood memories – the worst being the attempted murder of my mother.  It is the most painful of the secrets I keep hidden deep down.  It was her fault.  She deserved it.  He was drunk.  After my sister and I begged and pleaded for her life, she was set free.  Purple in face, eyes barely opened, gasping for air.  As she cried on the edge of her bed, I tried to creep past him to the living room to comfort her sobs.  “She’s not crying because she’s hurt, she’s crying because she wants you to feel sorry for her.”  You don’t forget words.

So, this fear is planted inside of me and the more pain I feel from people, the red flags just go up.  Stay away.  Keep them away.  The more panic sweeps into your pounding heart when you think about being close to those who have attacked with their words, piercing my heart hard and plunging me back to those school-aged days.

Way back when, we pretended nothing happened.  We woke up the next day and were the best we could be so nobody would know the secrets pounded into those cheap walls of the trailer.  But, they don’t just disappear.  They come up when you are 20 and 30 and almost 40.  And, here you are in the middle of an act, on stage trying to pretend like the magician that you’ve got it all under control.  The rabbit needs to stay in the hat.  The show is to keep it all together.  You suddenly realize you have only a handful you can trust because you know who causes pain, who rubs your face in your bad ways, who tells you how bad you are.  And, there are very few arms that you feel safe to reach to.  And sometimes, they can’t take your badness anymore, either, and pull away.

The only reach I can think of that I so desprately want, is the reach to my God.  The One who knows me, all my flaws, my hurts, my sadness, my pain.  He understands why I hurt the way I do because He is the One who made me.  I felt alone, but He was there, through it all, protecting me, making sure I could come out of it.

Perhaps the only reason I did come out of it was so that I could make other’s strong.  To help them fight fierce.  And, if I don’t get personal, if I don’t reveal what’s up my sleeve and in my hat that I have been so anxiously trying to hide, nobody will see where I have come from and why the pain of life is what it is.  And, nobody will know that they can make it, too.

With the strength of God inside of me and with the power of the Holy Spirit, I publish this small account of my life as a testimony to those who may be hurting deep.  Hurting way down beneath the depths of what anyone else knows.  I feel called to share only that my healing may begin.  That I will not be blanketed in thick fear and disgust of who I am.  But, that I will be understood, standing tall, victorious in all my flaws, frailties, and the damaged expression of my soul.

I have never been more alone in my life.  Just me and Jesus these days.  Unable to connect with my husband and kids.  Feeling that I don’t belong in my church or my own skin.  The only one I have pursued is Christ.  Understanding him, putting  my faith in him, finding joy in him.  It is for Christ alone that we have any hope at all.  Amen.

Praying Fierce

If you’ve been praying, but feel that you don’t see results, feel anything, and walk away empty – I totally get you.  For a long time, I was in that rut.  Part of it was the way I was praying, the expectations of my prayers, and my internal disbelief that God really hears me or cares.  As I have grown in Jesus, I have learned a bit on the journey from then to here.

Sometimes the reason if feels our prayer life is limited, is because our connection to the Father isn’t quite clear.  Think of a cell to cell phone call where a tower in between the two networks is breaking, broken, or in the middle of a storm.  The call isn’t clear, either way.  Whether you have a new or old relationship with the Father, if the call or answer of prayer isn’t clear, it can indicate that there are things that we need to get cleaned up, fixed, or worked on before the connection between the two can be opened up.  The signal between you and God is not muddled by a cell phone tower, but a genuine relationship like any other that requires the substance of time, forgiveness, and learning each other.

Sometimes we are only praying because we are in trouble.  I remember praying to a God I had rarely prayed to when I hit my daughter in the head with a golf club and we were on a Life Flight helicopter ride.  Yes, I did.  No, it was not on purpose.  That story is for another day.  The point is, I went to a God I barely knew asking Him to make it right and save my daughter’s life.  You know that feeling, when someone only comes to you when they need something?  Thank goodness God didn’t reject me.  He was merciful and brought my daughter out of the hospital after seven days.  She came home to us with no long-term consequences to her sweet little brain.

He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea.

Psalm 102:17

Aside from clearing up some old baggage, sin, disbelief, and praying only to get what you want to a God you rarely meet with, there is a strategy to prayer that can open up your soul and allow you to express to God the true nature of your heart.  If you’re willing, He’ll guide you to a place of correction and new life will begin.  A new or elevated relationship, that He so desperately desires, will begin.

The book that brought me out of my mediocre prayer life and instilled valuable tools within me to connect with the Father brand new was, “How to Develop a Powerful Prayer Life – The Biblical Path to Holiness and Relationship with God” by Dr. Gregory Frizzell.    This book was a gift from a friend and I had no idea I needed it.  The pamphlet-like feel and proportions of the book made it an easier book to read.  I have since read other authors that offer the same sequence or method of prayer, but since this was the first one that found me and the way it really changed my life, it gets the credit.

One thing I do caution myself from is making prayer an unemotional routine for the sake of saying I prayed.  Sometimes, for weeks, you may follow the prayer pattern this book teaches.  When life happens, I don’t think there is much more precious and beautiful to the Father than an authentic cry from a broken heart, rather than a rehearsed pattern.  Feel free to break up the cycle!  At some of life’s hardest moments, I didn’t even make a sound in my prayer time, other than the sound of crying and tears falling from my cheeks.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 34:18

The wonderful thing about learning how to pray in this guided manner is that it adds rhythm and routine to your life where there was none before.  With practice, the time with God is no longer an awkward list and visitation with someone you aren’t familiar with, but a sacred conversation between you and the One who loves you most.

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

Jeremiah 29:12

The key things this book taught me about prayer were:

  • Renewing the mind with scripture, daily and before prayer.
  • A prayer order of praise & worship, confession & repentance, petition, intercession, and meditation.
  • Writing and keeping a prayer journal.

Again, I would like to stress that there is no magical formula to prayer, specifically to answered prayer.  The condition of the heart and the willingness to show up and spend time in the Father’s presence, every day, are probably two factors that will most affect your prayer life.  It is in this relationship that the essence of your spiritual life will be transformed and the blessings will overflow.

May you find the same hope that I found in seeking Him.  Amen.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

Matthew 7:7