Wednesday, March 2, 2016

My struggle is real.

I think someday someone out there needs read this and realize they are not alone in this world.
And that is why I want to write this. Not for anyone to feel sorry for me or worse, to judge me.
I also just really need to get this off my chest.

What am I talking about?
I struggle periodically with anxiety/panic attacks.
I know, I'm a Christian why can't I just trust in the Lord with all my heart and not lean on my own understanding. I wish it were that easy.
First, I would like to answer that by saying this: please don't judge me here. It is equally hard to admit this as it is to struggle with anxiety, But I feel compelled to share my story. We are all in process and this is mine. This is my vulnerability I am speaking about, if it's not yours, you should feel blessed! If you plan to use this against me to tease or taunt me with my own fear, please stop reading this now. But please continue if you would be willing instead to pray.  We all have things we fear and this is my very real struggle.

This is my most recent attack.

Every year my husband and I take off for a warm destination to break up our long winters. This year we decided that taking a cruise would take us to two of the destinations that have been on our list. Aruba, which we have been to before and LOVE, and to Grand Turk, which I have wanted to see since my early motherhood days when I would workout at home with Denise Austin's, destination workouts on tv!
Our cruise would consist of 4 stops total the 2 other stops, being the Dominican Republic and the other being CuraƧao.
This 8 day cruise would be a blast as we also had good friends aboard the same cruise.
But, I have to get though the flight to Florida first, and so begins my struggle.

I have flown my whole life as I was raised as an airline brat since my dad worked for the airline his entire life. I have flown my entire life both as a child as well as an adult.
I have also been on two other cruises, shorter, but nevertheless I was not a rookie. So this really shouldn't have been a problem.

Having said that, every time I step on a plane I basically pray for no problems and no turbulence the entire flight. (I know it's ridiculous but it's my fear and it's real)
Our flights were both flawless and we landed safely in Miami. So excited to see the big ship in port.
I am a little out of the norm (not surprising) in that I am a weather geek. I like to check the weather for the destinations. I noticed right away that the week was going to be a windy one. Like 25-30mph wind. Which translates to waves when you are in the ocean.
I set the thought aside as I just wanted to enjoy my trip. It was sunny and warm and we were with friends.
We set sail and all was well. We had some wavey days due to wind. One day was so bad that we were not able to dock in Grand Turk. I was hugely disappointed. This meant another full day at sea. (I think this was the trigger that started the anxiety) meaning 4 of 8 days were sea days. Not all bad since it was sunny and 82 every day. But rather disappointing to not be able to get off the ship for a while and see a new place.
Our next stop was the Dominican Republic then Curacao then Aruba.

We had a few wavey days again and one that landed me in bed most of the day with vertigo. But after that I was fine. A little on the restless side being trapped on a ship and unable to get off but enjoyed the ride in the sunshine as well as the 3 stops, VERY MUCH!
I think I must have had a little more anxiety on the ship than I was willing to admit. Because once we reached port in Miami I was ready to get off.
But already thinking ahead to my flight home the following day and how much I didn't want to get on that plane.

We spent the day with family that lives in Miami and had a great day.
That night it was beginning to set in, fear turning me into the ice queen and I fell silent! (If you know me this is rare) Warning sign number 1.
Warning sign number 2 - I didn't want to eat dinner.
Silent the whole night. We fell asleep and I tossed and turned all night thinking of ways to tell my husband I just couldn't fly home. What was I going to do, walk? Take the bus? Rent a car and drive? I couldn't do it. I couldn't tell him how scared I was. How much anxiety was building.

So here I am the morning we are supposed to fly home and I am literally paralyzed with fear. My precious husband came to the side of the bed and gently said, "Jen its time to get up and get ready to go home"
This is where I lost it. I completely fell apart. I started crying hysterically and almost passed out twice. I could hear my husband saying he was going to call 911 so I came to again and was still crying hysterically.
I could not get a hold of myself long enough to get my sentences out. All I could do was say, "I am so scared, I don't know whats wrong with me. I can't do this. My Chest hurts. "
Over and over again saying these lines and hyperventilating. I felt like I was having a heart attack.

Then I heard my husband say, " we don't have to fly home. We can drive, I will rent a car and we will drive home Jen."
He literally could do nothing to calm me down. I think I freaked him out pretty good too.
But as soon as he said that I took a breath for the first time.
He held me close and said, "I have already called Enterprise they will be here in an hour and a half. Get dressed, we will go get our coffee at Starbucks and  we will drive it will be fun, an adventure"

I took a deep breath and exhaled slow.

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. "Is he serious or is he just kidding me to get me up and going"

He was serious. He rented a car.
I cried all through my shower and getting dressed. I felt like an idiot for having such an attack, but it seemed literally out of my control. I could do nothing on my own to stop myself from the hysterics.
But as soon as he said those words, we will just drive. It was like the hot knife that was stabbing me in my chest was gone.

We went down to the lobby and there was a Starbucks. I got my iced coffee and we walked outside. Soon a driver was there to pick us up and bring us around the corner to the car rental place.

He really did rent a car and we really did drive from Miami to Minneapolis.

I felt so much guilt, shame and fear of what people would think of me. Fear of what if this happens again.
I apologized profusely to my poor husband. But all he would say was, "stop apologizing, it will be a fun drive. We are just extending our vacation a little bit"
I watched the weather radar explode with storms in the south. We were literally heading right into it. Then I watched it as it literally split all around us. We were either in front of it or just behind it, either way we missed it all. God's hand of protection was certainly on us as we drove.
I felt peace that even in the midst of my storm God was there. Literally clearing my way.

I pray this never happens to you but if it does I hope you are married to someone that will drive you 2,000 miles because they love you that much! My husband is truly amazing.

I know I will live with the guilt of that moment forever. I know that I will fly again. I know that God has my back no matter what.
But I also know anxiety is real. It is unpredictable and it is unbelieveably embarrasing and uncontrollable.
Again, I write this to be perfectly honest with who I am. Flaws and all.
I will fly again. I hate it but I will do it.
But the real reason I wrote this is because I know I am not the only person that this has ever happened to. In many other situations, not just flying.
I want to know I am not alone. I want you to know, you are not alone if you struggle with this also.
Anxiety/Panic attacks are most often tied to fear. They are very real, and very difficult for the person who suffers with this problem. (and those who have to drive them 2,000 miles) :)

I believe with all my heart that God will heal me. I know He will.
My precious daughter Kelsey sent me a scripture the day this happened, and it was: 1 Peter 5:6-8 Humble yourself therefore under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you!

I am clinging to every word of this verse. That He will lift me up in due time.
Being a christian doesn't mean you won't struggle. It just means you have someone to help you through those struggles. Someone to lean on when you are weak.

I hope in some way for someone out there in the blogosphere, that this helps you not only realize you are not alone in having these struggles but you are not alone period! God can and will heal you from these panic attacks.
I am praying for you as I work through this struggle in my own life. I believe God will heal me and I know he can do the same for you.
If this is not your struggle please seek to understand or just pray,  rather than judge.

This is my struggle, and it is real.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

My heart is heavy today and when heaviness sets in on me it usually turns to words on a blog.

Just to lighten it up a little, I can hear the priest from Princess Bride, "Mawwiage, Mawwiage is what

Bwings us togevah today"

Put on the grown up undies cuz it's about to get REAL!

Someone asked me a long time ago, what makes your marriage work so well?

I had no idea what to tell her.

But I think I do now. Commitment and WORK!!! It ain't the Glam answer that people want but it's

the truth!

I never really understood how old people could say they loved their spouse more now than when they

first got married. But now I get it. I totally understand. I guess that makes me old!

Long after the butterflies in your stomach migrate south. There has to be more.

There is this amazing thing about commitment, it makes a marriage safe, trust filled, uninhibited,

and thus, long lasting.

The love I feel is deeper today than it was when we first got married because life has happened.

Developing deeper and more intimate love than we could have ever hoped for as love struck

teenagers a long long time ago. You see, as you go through the mountain tops and the valley's of life,

and your partner is walking with you, You develop trust. Trust that they will be there in the good

times and bad, for rich or for poor, in sickness and health,

Because they have! Its not just something cute you say in a marriage ceremony to make it legal.


You actually have to live it out. And when you do, you come out on the other side of it, a better and

stronger couple because you have created another link in a chain that cannot be easily broken!

Every fun, difficult, wonderful and awful thing that you go through with your spouse and hang in

there for, creates a link.

A link to love that isn't a feeling and isn't a ball and chain but a perfectly designed beautiful chain

just for you! That links your two hearts together. Sounds corny doesn't it? Yep, but I know way to

many people that look at the bad times as an escape route, and the times when life is easy and going

along great, finances are in order and the kids are moving out and the house is perfect. People forget

how they got there. Thus, cutting the links. This is when it's also easy to lose your commitment.

I can honestly say that it has not been easy. We have had times where we look across the table from

each other and wonder what we did.  But our resolve is greater that our trials so we never are allowed

stay there!!

People think marriage isn't work. But I am here to tell you it is a full-time mandatory overtime on

weekends kind of work. Not to be taken lightly but to be taken seriously.

This is real life: You will get mad, you will get frustrated, you will not always get your way, you will

not always have what you want.

But your commitment to your marriage is worth giving up your way, anger, frustration, and wants.

Laugh at crazy things that happen, date often, and for heavens sake just  BE NICE (something so

simple but often forgotten in marriage)


But the reward is a marriage filled with love, trust, intimacy, and a life of joy. But its all your choice

men and women, it's all your choice.

Choose well.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My dear new friend

I have not Blogged in quite a while however I have been quite active on Facebook. However, this post required a little more thought and time than a Facebook post so here I am.

I met a man about 2 years ago during my Operation Christmas Child work season. I would pass though the Starbucks in Eagan to get my coffee before heading to the warehouse. From the smell of Coffee to Cardboard!! YUM!

One day an older gentleman approached me while I was in the long line for coffee, apparently I am not the only one that doesn't brew at home, and on this day as it turned out God had a reason for that long line.
As the man who approached me would become my dear friend Bill.

He noticed my Operation Christmas Child T-shirt and asked me what it was all about. So a half hour later he knew pretty much more than he ever wanted to. I had passed my passion for OCC on to this poor old man.
Well, he loved it, and every day I would come to get my coffee he was there waiting to see me wanting to hear more stories.

After the season ended I didn't get up to the Eagan Starbucks anymore. A year went by and I never saw Bill.

Then one day I was leaving for Bible study early on a Tuesday morning and stopped by for a coffee. There he was. My 83 year old friend.
I said hi and remembered who I was immediately. We have been having coffee every Tuesday (sometimes Wednesday) morning now for almost a year!

We talk about everything from food to health and we laugh like school kids. He is 37 years older than me but we are amazing friends.
He is a wise well traveled man and never utters a negative tone! He is exactly like my husband just 36 years older!
I am not kidding! These two are so much alike I feel like I am speaking to the Kevin of the future!!

Last week he told me about his families tradition that dates back to the late 1800's. They all gather together in October to make their own Apple Butter.
His grandfather started it and the tradition has continued all these years!
Needless to say I was captivated! It was Pinterest before Pinterest was cool!
The family gathers together at his son's house and they have a copper kettle and an oak paddle to stir. They all help peel and cut the apples as well as stirring the 200 pounds of apples until they are cooked down. Nearly 10 hours! Each person takes their time to stir.
It is a timeless tradition in his family.
Captivated by this tradition doesn't begin to describe how I was feeling when he told me this! I love it! i wanted to run out and buy a copper kettle!! (where does one get a copper kettle)

So this morning I met him for our coffee date and he said he had a surprise for me. He pulls out a jar of his homemade Apple Butter!
I was elated! I couldn't thank him enough.

He is the most wonderful man I have ever known, aside from my dad and my sweetheart Kevin.
But what a gift God has given me in my 83 year old friend Bill.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Power Of Love!

My little buddy Cole is going to be 1 year old and I can hardly believe it. Our first grandson!
I have been there with him growing every step of the way and I wouldn't trade a thing.

So far my husband is Papa and I am Nana. I like it! A LOT!

Sometimes I just sit back and watch my husband play with Cole and I think, my life can't get any better! It makes me think how great God really is.

Because of how different this story could have been.

I do not share my story with very many people for many reasons. Not the least of which is I do not want to make what we did and went through look like a good path for young people to take. But today I need to tell it. To show God's great love for us.

When Kevin and I had been dating for quite a while  we got engaged. Soon after that we entered a path we were not supposed to be on. We soon found out that I was pregnant.
I was angry! Mostly with myself for compromising my beliefs I had held on to so deeply. But, I decided to take it out on Kevin.
 I was going through a lot emotionally and for 9 months I did not want to have anything to do with Kevin. We did not see each other and he was not at the birth of our first child. (this was my choice not his!)
He came to see him a couple times but I was still very angry so there was really no hope for reconciliation.
Around our son Jon's first birthday Kevin asked if he could come visit and take Jon out for a little bit. I was hesitant but I think my mom thumped me on the head and said LET HIM DO THIS!!!
So Kevin, who had not had much contact with Jon at all, comes into my living room and Jon looks up
at him and immediately says, "DADA"
My heart was broken. It was like God just melted all of that anger away.
3 months later we were married!

FAST FORWARD a few years to today:
I sit back and watch Kevin play with Cole our very first Grandson, Jon's son, and I see how God has restored the years that Anger took.
I am so grateful and thankful my heart can almost not contain it all sometimes. The way Cole's eyes light up when Papa comes home is precious. I can't imagine anything better than being Coles Nana and Papa. We have been able to do this first year of Cole's life, TOGETHER.
Redemption is a real thing. I see it in the eyes of my little Cole.
The power of God's great love for us is just amazing.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Perspective is everything!!

This morning I woke to a text message from my daughter who is in Haiti. First she says,"hi mom love you!" 
Then proceeds to send me a picture
 I respond with, "wow thats a big one! "
She responds with this picture:
Along with "bahahahahaha mom its tiny!! The smallest one I have ever seen! "

Made me get all reflective and think how true this picture really is in life. 
Sometimes we think things are so much bigger than they really are. But when placed in the masters hand it seems so small! 
Just a little reminder for us all today! 

Monday, November 18, 2013

I found Forgiveness

Forgiveness is something I have never really struggled with until recently.
I never intended for unforgiveness to be something I struggled with but here I was finding myself in a place that  I could not get past.

It was not because of some huge injustice that was done to me either. It was just a simple problem that I made to big of a deal about.
I just could not move past the problem.
Then this summer I was reading 2 Corinthians 2 and this verse just  beat me over the head!
2:10 It says, now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ.

God forgives us and when we forgive he also forgives them!!!
Why was I holding this unforgiveness?
It hurt so much and yet my pride wanted to hang on to the unforgiveness because it was easier than letting it go.

 I noticed it was not easy to give forgiveness because I had involved other people, in my unforgiveness.

I believe the simple truth is,  the biggest reason that people can't and won't forgive is because they let things go on in their mind far too long. They relive the offense over and over and then in telling others about the offense,  it solidifies their reasoning for not forgiving.
Forgiveness is not optional. God doesn't let you live with unforgiveness because he knows you are justified in your unforgiveness. THAT IS A LIE!

Gathering other in on your offense is not forgiving. Gathering others to help seek restitution is what we are supposed to do if we are to gather people at all.

The more people are involved in your unforgiveness the less likely you will be able to forgive.

So I had to ask the people that I involved in my unforgiveness to forgive me for involving them. It was not their burden to carry to begin with. It was sin for me to involve them.

Having asked for their forgiveness, made it easier for me to let it go!

What an amazing feeling to really let something go.
He removed it far from me and I don't want it back.

I finally found forgiveness. I received it and gave it. I am healed!
We truly serve and amazing God.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Thankfulness - Day 3

Today I am thankful for men and women that sacrifice so much for my freedom. Something I can never repay. I am thankful today that my precious friends son who just graduated from boot camp is now home for some very deserved R & R!
We are all so very thankful for you Blake.