When Healing Looks Different

 

As Ryan and I began planning our recent vacation, I dreamt of what was to come. We both felt the Lord speak that this was a “healing vacation” for us. We felt He highlighted two Scriptures for this season of healing, as well as for our vacation:

“Your sun shall no more go down nor your moon withdraw itself for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of mourning shall be ended,” Isaiah 60:20.

We also felt the Lord highlighting Isaiah 61:3 “…to grant to those who mourn in Zion, to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes.”

I relished in those promises from God and the season to come, particularly the vacation. I began planning all of our favorite meals, and pairing said meals with our favorite wines and cocktails.

I mapped out my favorite runs and strength building exercise routines to do on the beach. I fantasized of late nights drinking wine in a rocking chair while chatting with my husband…

Of all the sweet moments we would share processing our past year and looking forward to the mysteries of the future…

I closed my eyes and envisioned myself in that hot bubble bath filled to the brim, reading a book – or, rather, doing nothing at all…

The rhythm of waves leaking through the cracked windows and my favorite lit candles sprinkled throughout the house. 

I joyfully meditated on the lack of social obligations – and all the gorgeous silence.
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These are the ways God has shown me love and healing in the past. So, these experiences would surely be the therapeutic balm God would use to heal my wounded and weary soul after such a tough year.

Most of us do this, and as a mental health clinician I’m particularly inclined to this way of living:

We create treatment plans to address our current needs and desires based on what has worked for us in the past…or methods we feel are healthier or superior to past ways of living. This happens both consciously or subconsciously. 

Whether it’s a season of loss, or strengthening, or motherhood, or engagement, or pregnancy, or schooling, or transition, we tend to choose relationships and activities that best cater to that season of life.

So, as spring crawled to our doorstep, anticipation built for our upcoming vacation and how God would meet us there. Of how He would heal us there. 

We would sink into our bed at night, hold hands, and remind one another of the upcoming retreat. The sand. The cute little toddler bathing suits. The views. The sandcastles. The quiet. The rest. The food and wine.

I’ll never forget that last week of March.

We were set to leave mid April, and as we looked forward to our trip, we also intentionally embraced each moment and sought to find joy in our daily traditions. 

I loaded the stroller and took Summer on our familiar walk to see her daddy at Starbucks. We stood in line to place our order and, upon facing the pastry case, I realized, I simply could not leave without eating a plain white bagel. “Strange,” I thought, since I rarely ate bread or desired such foods. I purchased the treat and split it with Summer. The following day we went to our favorite Mexican restaurant and I questioned whether the recipes had been changed because each dish tasted intense. The next day, I simply could not get past the smell of our water. Or other standard aromas in the life of a toddler mom, for that matter.

As this week drew to a close, I sat on the ground in one of my best friend’s living rooms and gripped my cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc. After Ryan stepped out to change a dirty diaper, I let the fearful thought drip off of my lips for the first time. “Ya’ll, I think I’m pregnant.”

Silence fell in the room.

I mean, it was no secret that Ryan and I were not trying to have a baby. In fact, we were the extreme opposite of trying. We were anticipating this upcoming season of healing and quiet and stillness.

“There’s no way a baby would align with what I feel like God has for us in this next season,” I thought to myself. 

I told my friends all about my observations that week, and shared that I was not ready to say anything to Ryan. I did not want to cause him unnecessary stress, and I was still trying to grasp the possibility myself.

That night, Summer cried for 2-3 hours and I was up in my rocking chair, offering up the most unexpected, desperate prayer, “Lord, I trust You. You give good gifts. Children are a blessing. You withhold no good thing from those who seek you. You know me better than I know myself. I beg You, please give me a period, or give me Your peace.”

What happened next is difficult to wrap words around. I felt the tangible peace of God in a way I have never experienced it before. It felt as though I was covered in warm silk fabric and like someone else was breathing for me. I felt light as a feather, and could not stop smiling and crying. I have had a lot of 2AM encounters with Holy Spirit over the last 18 months, but this one was, by far, the most memorable and the most powerful.

The following morning Ryan left early to serve at church and I rolled out of bed and straight into Walmart in my pajamas. With a toddler on my hip, I navigated the aisles and purchased the expensive pregnancy test (the one that says “pregnant” or “not pregnant” – none of that line interpreting nonsense for this girl!)

We got home, I prepared breakfast for Summer, I buckled her into her high chair and ran upstairs to take the pregnancy test. I gripped the counter as the word “pregnant” appeared on the screen. 

With tears streaming down my face, and a laugh I can hardly re-create, I fumbled back downstairs to Summer and Baylor. I told Summer she was going to be a big sister!! And we worshiped Jesus together.

I shared the special news with Ryan when he came home from church, and with a priceless smile on his face he drew me into a hug. We then took a deep breath and set on the couch. 

Well, this was unexpected.

To be honest, we felt all of the feels. We thought all of the thoughts.

But for me, mostly, I wrestled with how this seemed like the opposite of “healing and stillness.”

Nonetheless, I couldn’t shake the inexplicable peace and the encounter I had with Holy Spirit at 2AM that morning. I met with the Lord and processed all of these thoughts and all of these feelings in the following days.

I did not regret my new baby, but it took time to recalibrate my expectations of the season and the future. 

I prayed that God would continue to usher me into this next season with that same peace I experienced during my middle of the night prayer of desperation.

And He has been so faithful.

This may sound silly to some, but the Lord has spoken to me through His creation for as long as I can remember. The following week, two doves moved into a gutter on our townhome row. Doves are often representative of peace, hope, beauty and the Holy Spirit in Scripture. These doves visited my patio railing 1-2 times a day, and it was as if God was reminding me of His faithfulness and hope.

I continued to happen upon doves in the strangest places throughout our community, even having two walk all the way up to my feet on an afternoon stroll one day! I marveled at God’s thoughtfulness and the tangible way He was speaking to me during these early days. 

Amidst the typical first trimester struggles, a wild-hearted toddler, this surprising news, and packing for our upcoming trip – I needed a tangible sign of His faithfulness.

We landed in Wilmington and made our way to our favorite beach for our vacation.

Instead of wine, I savored ginger drops. Instead of fancy meals, I ate what I could keep down. Instead of rigorous workouts, I slept. Instead of staying up late with my husband, I went to bed early. Instead of a boiling hot bubble bath, I enjoyed a lukewarm one.

And as I sat in my comfy bed overlooking the ocean, I told the Lord that I never expected healing could look this different…

I had created a box within which the Lord could heal my soul based on prior experiences and self-awareness, yet His vision was much greater than a vacation. It was much grander than a nice bottle of wine or an amazing dish. It was superior to any astounding work out or conversation with my husband…

For us, the “crown of beauty” mentioned in Isaiah 61 wasn’t a picturesque experience with God on a beach, but a new, unexpected, ongoing adventure with Him. 

An adventure filled with opportunities for Him to show up and show me His nearness and might.

I’m thrilled and excited to share that our “crown of beauty” isn’t a healing vacation, but a new baby!!!!

We are excited to welcome this tiny treasure into our home this upcoming December!

God has nurtured our hearts and brought us so much unexpected healing already through this pregnancy. I simply cannot believe He is giving me a chance to mommy another one of His precious children. 

He truly is showing us that He is our everlasting Light, not our natural circumstances (Isaiah 60:20), that His peace extends beyond our wildest dreams (Phil 4:7), and that His methods for life and healing are greater than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9).

So, to go ahead and answer all of the questions: We find out if it’s a boy or a girl this Saturday July 15th, and I am currently 20 weeks pregnant.


Join with us in celebrating this new life and the upcoming adventures God has for our family :)!

In the midst of preparing for a new baby, we also moved into a new home here in Colorado. These exciting changes and transitions have made this pregnant mama quite tired, so I have been unable to write as much as I would like, but I do plan to keep it up just as long as God is using this platform to love on others. So please keep the feedback coming and reach out with any ideas for future entries!

The Closet Incident: PPD Awareness

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When I began to piece together arrangements for bringing my baby home in 2015, I worked to fill every gap I could possibly imagine. I planned to have my mother here to help with daily chores. I arranged meals to come in from the church. I organized dog walkers to help with Baylor. I wrote a list on my fridge of daily and weekly to-do’s. I washed, folded and organized all the baby clothes in advance and tucked them neatly into drawers. I put together “welcome” stockings for houseguests filled with lotions and other treats to sustain them while at our home. I carefully planned for every possible need that would arise.

I did not, however, plan my suicide.

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Holding to Empty Spaces


I plundered ahead in my chores. We were digging out from under mounds of dirty laundry, undone dishes, and still carrying an intense craving for sleep. Summer had been diagnosed with the flu the week before. We saw temperatures rise to 106, and had poured hours of time into seeking remedies online, and consulting doctors and nurses. We are so grateful we are all now healthy.

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Online Mama ~ English Dictionary

I recall the tears clouding my vision at 2AM as I rocked my inconsolable 3 week old. I was sleep deprived, still recovering from birth, and felt like a mommy failure. I consulted Google and Facebook pages to try and find answers. As if my tired brain could handle one more obstacle, I found the online community of moms using a language I had never seen. I needed a translator. Or, at the very least, one place to de-code this new language. After months of using the internet for guidance in my mothering journey, I do believe I may be nearly fluent, or at least conversational in this online mama language ;).

I hope this tool helps a new mama interpret her findings. I plan to continually update this dictionary.

Online Acronym ~ English

AAP – American Academy of Pediatrics

BM – Breast Milk

BF – Breast Feeding

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Understanding The Millennial Mom

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When I first discovered I was pregnant, I did what any resourceful Millennial would do, I consulted the World Wide Web. “How far along am I?” I asked Google. “How big is my baby?” “When am I due?” “When do I call the doctor?” “How should I tell my husband?”

What I found online was unexpected.

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Friends who Leave Rocks

Summer’s high-pitched crying stole my ability to think. I grabbed my stress ball, plunked down in the rocking chair, and continued to rock my inconsolable baby while allowing every ounce of frustrated energy to pour through my hand and onto that stress ball.

I was beyond depressed. I was angry with the Lord. I felt like He had dealt me the worst hand. No matter what I tried, nothing seemed to work to calm my baby.

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Marriage: Our Most Foolish Commitment

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There it was. The white dress dangled from the staircase for that popular snapshot just before it adorned my body. My sister and cousin buttoned up all 1,987 buttons, joking that Ryan would never be able to get that garment it off of me.

I took a sip of champagne and laughed nervously about how I wasn’t sure if I  remembered how to kiss, as it had been several years. I was not sure if I even knew what intimacy was. I had waited for this moment for what felt like ages!

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Not to kiss. Not to have sex. Not to wear a wedding dress….

I had waited for a promise.

Continue reading “Marriage: Our Most Foolish Commitment”

10 Pieces of Unconventional Advice for a Long and Happy Marriage

Since getting married, I’ve kept an ongoing list of advice people gave us that sounded strange, but became the most meaningful pieces of wisdom. I also took time in my recent interviews with couples who have been married 30-50+ years to ask what advice they would offer a young newlywed or engaged couple in order to set them up for a long and happy marriage. I have combined my list and their comments to create…

10 pieces of Unconventional Advice for a Long and Happy Marriage: 

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6 Sex Related Questions and Qualms

Disclaimer: In this post I discuss critical subjects surrounding sex and sexuality. I do not dodge popular issues. The Church and sex-ed, for the most part, have done enough dodging. Instead, I use direct language to address these matters. I use words such as porn, orgasm, masturbation, and libido. If this sort of candor causes you to feel discomfort or offense, I lovingly encourage you to spend your time elsewhere.

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