Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Head in the Clouds

This post was written during the same timeframe as the one I just republished about PTSD.  Yes, in the years since writing this, I've recovered from PTSD.  But, it is for the same reason that I chose to re-post that one that I choose to re-post this one.  I really want to help people and give them hope.  This post outlines the steps I took to recover.  And guess what?  They worked!  So I hope this helps someone out there .

~MONICA~
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Warning:  This is the longest post in the whole wide-world.  But worth the read if you or someone you know is struggling with PTSD.

“Head in the Clouds”

For years, I’ve looked at my life as if from a cloud - like I am floating above it - a little out of touch and without much control over it.  ...Like a silent, stoic observer, with a deeply invested emotional interest in a very sad scene playing out below me, but with no ability to pause or fast forward through any of it.  There was a time when my feet were planted firmly on the ground, but it was so long ago, I’m not sure I even remember it.  I know I was very young then.  But when bad things began to happen to a naive and helpless girl, I found a way to remove myself from it.  I began to detach.  I began to find ways to numb the pain.  I stuffed it down, and ignored it until it was only a distant memory, if a memory at all.  I learned how to step back from my life, and watch it from afar.  Or sometimes close my eyes completely.  This was my brain’s defense mechanism.  This was instinctual self-preservation.  There is a term for this in psychology.  It’s called dissociation.  It’s not a healthy coping mechanism, in my personal opinion, though it is a fairly common one.

In hind sight, I wish I’d have felt the fullness of every ache and every blow, and let my raw, exposed nerves scream in agony for however long they needed to.  Because I have learned what happens when you repress emotion and/or dissociate, and layers of trauma are laid on top of one another.  The mind can only handle so much without being properly equipt.  My mind came to a point where it and my body disconnected.  It basically sent a signal saying, “Alert: we cannot handle this anymore.  It is physiologically impossible.  All systems shut down immediately.”  And at that moment, I nearly had a heart attack.  Literally.  It’s amazing how connected the mind and body are.  I had major chest pains, speeding pulse rate, nausea, cold-sweats, weakness and very high blood pressure.  EKG’s showed I was in the danger zone.  Doctor’s warned me to remove myself from the stressful environment that was causing this, or I could die.  My brain was sending a very loud message to my body.  It was saying, “If you won’t listen to me, I’ll make you listen!”

Before that life-changing day, whenever something would trigger a memory of past trauma, I would quickly dissociate and it would feel as if the event had not actually happened to me, but as if it had happened to someone else.  I thought I had grown so far past it, that I was no longer able to feel any major emotion in connection with it.  I would quickly change the subject within my mind and push the thought far away.  Doing this, I thought, was representative of my strength and resilience, when in actuality it was rather cowardly.  Being numb and in denial is not brave.  Running is not heroic.  It was all subconscious, so I had no way of knowing I was handling things in the wrong way.  But I am so thankful for the past 2 years & 3 months of being broken.  I needed to be disassembled in order to be rebuilt.  And I have learned that you have to feel the burn in order to experience the healing.  If you don’t admit to yourself that there is anything there that needs to be healed, how do you expect the healing to take place?  It’s kind of like a dislocated, broken bone.  It will not heal properly unless it is reset into the right place.  If you ignore it and don't reset it, it will be very painful and can cause future problems.  I needed to go back to those places that I did not allow myself to acknowledge, feel the ache that I forced myself not to feel, and reset them.

I am barely into this process right now, but I can tell you, the results of this journey have already been noticeable and exciting!  I feel myself changing in a deeply positive way, from the inside.  I am eagerly anticipating the road ahead.  There will only be more healing and growth to come.  Yes, it will be a painful journey at times, as I am having to revisit places I have pushed out of my mind for so long.  But in the end, I will be better than whole.  I will be remade.  And I will use what I learn to help others who are broken.  I cannot wait.

The following are some of the steps I am currently taking to pull myself down from the cloud:
1)  Regular Counseling w/ Therapists with experience in PTSD
2)  EMDR Treatment.  I highly recommend this to anyone with PTSD, who has experienced trauma, has acute anxiety or disabling stress.  Here is general info on EMDR treatment: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eye_movement_desensitization_and_reprocessing ...hard to believe that it works, but it really, truly does.
3)  Staying plugged in with God.  He is the one person who definitely understands, no matter how alone you might feel.  Prayer (lots of it) and regular devotions have helped me.  I also stay very involved in church - even when I feel extremely antisocial - and I read the Bible regularly.  Sometimes I don’t “feel” like doing these things, but I know they are the prescription to staying spiritually healthy.  And when I am in good spiritual health, my emotional health improves simultaneously.
4)  Having a hobby.  One of my hobbies just so happens to also help me with step #3 above.  It is music: singing, playing piano and songwriting.  I am able to use this in my church where I am the Worship Leader.  This has helped me immensely.  When I am singing and playing keyboard and worshiping God through music, I feel so tightly connected to Him.  It’s the most amazing, goose-bumpy, skin-tingly feeling.  Another of my hobbies is writing (obviously) and it has been a great outlet for my emotions.  I used to post almost everything I wrote on my blog, but recently I have done more private, between-me-and-God kind of work.  If you are a writer, you probably agree that not everything you write is purposed for someone else’s eyes.  Some of it is just for you.  And that is healthy.  Music and writing are the hobbies that keep me sane.
5)  Keeping Active.  Physical fitness has been proven to be good for mental health.  Exercise emits chemicals in your brain that make you feel good.  It’s important to have at least one fitness activity that you enjoy.  I have found that exercise routines are incredibly hard to stick to if you do not get any pleasure out of them.  I personally don’t like hanging out at the gym and working out in front of lots of sweaty strangers.  No, thank you!   My favorite ways to keep active are hiking and swimming, because I really enjoy the outdoors.  I get out and into nature as often as I  possibly can, as it is a huge way for me to not only stay active, but connect with God in His beautiful creation.
6)  Positive Self-Talk.  So often I find myself slipping into patterns of negative self-talk.  I used to do it mindlessly, but have in this last year become much more aware of it.  If you haven’t already, become aware of the things you say to yourself, and the tapes that play in your mind.  Press stop when you find a negative message replaying in your mind.  Replace the tape with the opposite, positive message.  For example: “I can’t do that.  I’m not smart enough.  I wouldn’t even know where to start.”, can be replaced with:  “I am excited about this challenge!  God gave me a strong mind.  I have the wisdom and will-power necessary to begin this new journey.”
7)  Staying connected.  One of the symptoms of PTSD is anti-social behaviour.  I can tell you that this is one I have definitely struggled with.  Before the onset of the PTSD, I was such a "people person".  As a child, I was always the extrovert.  I never wanted to be alone, and I thoroughly enjoyed the company of people.  But in the last couple of years, I have stopped keeping contact with friends and most of my family.  I much prefer being alone to being in any kind of social setting.  This is something that is not necessarily a bad thing, unless you take it to the extreme and allow yourself to become a hermit.  Which I easily could see myself doing.  So lately, I have made a conscious effort to be around people.  To make phone calls.  To make plans with friends.  To go to public places and talk to strangers, even if just to say, "Hello".  To reach out.  It's challenging for me to do these things, but the results have been rewarding.  I kind-of feel like severe anti-socialism is selfish.  If I stay locked up and away, I am unable to give and to love.  So I am making myself recognize these tendencies, and then do the opposite of them.
8)  Carving out time for myself.  "Me Time" sounds so selfish, so I think I am going to call it "Personal Growth Time".  As a mom, I tend to put every ounce of my time and energy into my children.  This may seem like a great thing to do.  But it can also be harmful if taken to the extreme.  I am becoming aware of the importance of allowing myself time for personal reflection, journaling, quiet time, meditation, deep-breathing, positive mantras, etc.  I am going to create a scheduled time for myself to focus on doing these things for a minimum of 15 minutes per day, to start with.  I haven't done this as of yet, but I am going to, starting this evening.

All of the steps above are a work in progress for me, but the key is they are in progress.  I believe that God has given us all the tools we need to be healthy and whole.  We just need to recognize and utilize them.  I needed to allow myself to grieve (finally - after years of “stuffing”), in order to allow myself to heal.  Seeing results is so exciting!  By ignoring and/or denying my past, I was actually making it a part of my present, because it existed in my mind on a level I did not allow myself access to.  By opening up access to those places, I allowed myself to find an outlet, aka: exit, for them.  Where once very painful memories existed, healing and health is taking their place.  The memories will still exist, but they will not be disabling and overwhelming, nor feel so searing and present... kind of like how a gaping wound eventually becomes a scar.  And you know what?  I no longer think of scars as a bad thing.  I feel that my scars are not meant to be a reminder of prior pain, but rather a reminder of how healed I am and how God has done such a great work in me.  Scars are like badges of honor.

I know there will always be bad things in life that “just happen”.  Things we cannot initially understand or explain.  Things that I may wish did not occur.  Things for which my human, non deific mind cannot find a purpose (like natural disasters resulting in deaths, etc).  I think it’s how I chose to deal with stresses of any magnitude that dictates the outcome, and how long the “gaping wound" phase of it will last.  I must remember that it is imperative that I am mentally and emotionally fully present in moments of crisis, and that after the crisis has passed, I allow myself time to grieve.  I must remember at the onset of the grief that, 1: it is only for a season, and 2: God can bring something beautiful out of something ugly.  I’ve seen it happen too many times in my life to not give full acknowledgment to this fact.  Forgiveness has become such a healing force in my life.  I want it to be such a part of who I am that it is my instinctual reaction when I am wounded by others in the future.  Another thing I’ve learned regarding some of the negative situations in life that randomly occur... not all things require blame.  Sometimes no one is at fault.  Sometimes things just happen.  Where bitterness wants a home, I will choose to welcome in peaceful acceptance and a gracious spirit instead.

I want to encourage you, if you are, to stop distancing yourself from your past hurts and instead face them head on.  You are the only one who can take action towards truly being able to heal from your own wounds.   No one else can do the work for you.  And it's not just going to one day be different and better by osmosis.  You have to make it different and better. Don’t live with your “head in the clouds”.  Come down and enjoy your life!  Oh, and one last thing... don’t ever be afraid of the journey.  I am learning that no matter how hard the journey, it is good.  The destination almost does not matter once you find joy in the journey.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I have PTSD.

I wrote this post years ago and had taken it down just after posting, because as part of my healing, I felt I needed to honor myself and allow my journey to be private.  After re-reading it a few years later, I feel like it is indeed a post that needs to be shared, for its original intent: to help others struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  I have since actually recovered from PTSD.  Only a few symptoms still linger, but thank God most are completely behind me, and nothing but the memory of a bad dream I awoke from.  My intense desire and the action steps I took ultimately propelled me to kick PTSD's proverbial booty.  Yup.  I did it.  Anyway, here's the post.  And for anyone in the throws of it and wondering if there will ever be an end to the madness... believe me when I tell you, there IS hope.
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 Hello, my name is Monica and I have PTSD.  

That was probably the hardest sentence I have ever had to write.  Why?  Because by writing that sentence, I am admitting just how weak and fragile I am.  How broken I am.  How damaged.  By posting that sentence on my public blog, I am placing myself in an extremely uncomfortable, vulnerable position.

My whole life (up until about 2 years, 1 month and 15 days ago) I took pride in the fact that I was such a strong woman.  I have been through numerous traumatizing and painful events in my life, just like all of us, but I always managed to push through and come out unscathed.  Strength was my middle name.  Resiliency was my M.O..  My friends and family would recognize and comment on those attributes that I so proudly possessed.  But when all of that changed for me during or shortly after a severely traumatic event (and was exacerbated by subsequent traumatic events), I found myself a puddle of weakness, tears, confusion and utter powerlessness.  I looked in the mirror at my pathetic self, and hated who I saw.  I was beyond humbled.  I was destroyed.

After my family urged me and financially provided a way for me to go, I found myself sitting in a Therapist's office.  He was a very educated man and renowned in the area that I lived for his vast experience and knowledge of crisis counseling and treatment.  He is the one who enlightened me to the fact that I was not a pathetic lump of weakness and lunacy, but was suffering acutely from PTSD.  After listening to me describe my feelings, thoughts, actions and reactions, he made me aware of the fact that I was describing definitive symptoms of PTSD.  Finally, someone that not only understood, but helped me understand!  It was nice to know that there was a reason behind the "Why?", but it was horrible all at the same time.  

At the point of my diagnosis, what I thought I knew of PTSD was that it was what caused Vietnam Vets to go crazy and become homeless alcoholics.  I didn't really think it was an actual illness, but rather a label.  I still know very little about it, although I am a living example of what can happen when it suddenly strikes. In the interest of educating myself a little more, I googled the term "PTSD", and the first site that popped up on my search was Wikipedia's definition of it.  Here is a portion of what it said:

"Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a severe anxiety disorder with characteristic symptoms that can develop after the direct experience of an extremely traumatic stressor such as the threat of a violent death or serious injury.  To fit the criteria of PTSD, the individual must react with "intense fear, helplessness or horror". The characteristic symptoms include a "persistent reexperiencing of the traumatic event", and a continuing avoidance of reminders of the precipitating stressor accompanied by a "numbing of general responsiveness". This event may involve the threat of death to oneself or to someone else, or violent assault on one's own or someone else's physical, sexual, or psychological integrity, overwhelming the ability to cope. As an effect of violent trauma, PTSD is less frequent and more pervasive and enduring than the more commonly seen acute stress reaction.  Diagnostic symptoms required for PTSD include persistent re-experiencing the original trauma through flashbacks, hallucinations or nightmares, avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma, a general numbing of emotional responsiveness, acute and unpredictable episodes of anger, and hypervigilance. Formal diagnostic criteria require that the symptoms last more than one month and cause significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
Many people experience a traumatic event but do not develop full-blown or even minor PTSD.

PTSD is believed to be caused by the experience of a wide range of traumatic events and, particularly if the trauma is extreme, can occur in persons with no predisposing conditions.
Persons considered at risk include combat military personnel, victims of natural disasters, concentration camp survivors and victims of violent crime. Individuals not infrequently experience "survivor's guilt" for remaining alive while others died. Causes of the symptoms of PTSD are the experiencing or witnessing of a stressor event involving death, serious injury or such threat to the self or others in a situation in which the individual felt intense fear, horror, or powerlessness.  Persons who are employed in occupations which expose them to violence (such as soldiers) or disasters (such as emergency service workers) are also at risk.
Children or adults may develop PTSD symptoms by experiencing bullying or mobbing.

PTSD symptoms may result when a traumatic event causes an over-reactive adrenaline response, which creates deep neurological patterns in the brain. These patterns can persist long after the event that triggered the fear, making an individual hyper-responsive to future fearful situations.  During traumatic experiences the high levels of stress hormones secreted suppress hypothalamic activity which may be a major factor towards the development of PTSD.
PTSD causes biochemical changes in the brain and body that differ from other psychiatric disorders such as major depression. Individuals diagnosed with PTSD respond more strongly to a dexamethasone suppression test than individuals diagnosed with clinical depression.
In addition, most people with PTSD also show a low secretion of cortisol and high secretion of catecholamines in urine, with a norepinephrine/cortisol ratio consequently higher than comparable non-diagnosed individuals. This is in contrast to the normative fight-or-flight response, in which both catecholamine and cortisol levels are elevated after exposure to a stressor.
Brain catecholamine levels are high, and corticotropin-releasing factor concentrations are high.  Together, these findings suggest abnormality in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.
The HPA axis is responsible for coordinating the hormonal response to stress.  Given the strong cortisol suppression to dexamethasone in PTSD, HPA axis abnormalities are likely predicated on strong negative feedback inhibition of cortisol, itself likely due to an increased sensitivity of glucocorticoid receptors.  Some researchers have associated the response to stress in PTSD with long-term exposure to high levels of norepinephrine and low levels of cortisol......"

Yep.  Isn't that fabulous?  That is what I have.  And like I said, while it helps to have an idea as to why I feel the way I feel, it does not change the fact that it really, truly, deeply sucks.  I'll bet if you look further at specific symptoms of PTSD, you may see my picture and read my name next to them, as it appears I am a walking billboard for the affliction.  And I loathe that fact.  Why did I have to be one of the lucky ones who could no longer physiologically handle stress?  And did you read the part about how it actually changes your brain?  Can you believe that?  I can, but only because I've experienced it firsthand.

I am determined to overcome PTSD, if that is possible, and am taking steps towards that end.  My journey is far from over, but I am scaling this mountain anyway because I will never know if I can reach the top if I don't try.  They say admitting it is taking the first step, right?  I feel so vulnerable by going public with this.  But the reason I decided to post this very raw admission is this:  I believe there is a common misconception regarding PTSD, and I want to help put a stop to it.  I used to think people used PTSD as an excuse for irresponsibility, poor life choices and behaviours.  I used to think it was a fictitious mental illness that people used as a crutch.  Again, I have been more than humbled and knocked off of my high horse.  I now know that it is a very real thing, and one people need to better understand.  It is easy to judge someone when you have not walked a mile in their shoes.  Yet even though I have been walking for miles and miles in these very uncomfortable shoes, I still find myself judging myself some days.  I am, however, making a conscious choice to stop doing that.  As my Therapist explained to me, it is the equivalent of losing a limb.  No, you cannot see the injury like you could if you had lost a limb, but it does not change the fact that there is a very real injury inside of your brain.  Being in denial about it does not help.  Looking the other way does not help.  Judging yourself for being injured does not help.  Accepting the fact that you are injured and seeking treatment for the injury is the most responsible choice you can make regarding PTSD.  

Yes, there are people who may fake mental illness for self-serving purposes.  But there are also people who don't.  And this I now know from first-hand experience.  I believe that where there is an illness, there has got to be a cure.  Because of my faith, I believe that Jesus is the Great Healer.  And I know with everything in my being that He is not only going to heal me and bring about complete restoration within me physically, mentally and emotionally, but He is also going to bring forth a Job story in my life.  If I thought my life was so blessed and wonderful before PTSD hit me, just wait until I see what my life is going to be like after I have beaten it.  And all the glory will be God's.  


I wasn't sure if I could post this one today, but if I chose not to write that first sentence and share it and everything I wrote thereafter, I would be submitting to pride.  And I refuse to let anything, much less the sin of pride, get in the way of the great work that God is going to do within and through me.  I want to help bring awareness and enlightenment.  By opening people's eyes to PTSD, maybe I can help someone somewhere out there.  PTSD is a very real, physical and chemical reaction that can occur in more individuals than I think most people realize.  Yes, it does affect veterans, but it also affects people in many various other walks of life as well.  Some cases are chronic.  Some are not.  The exciting news is, either way, there is help.  There is treatment.  There are steps that can be taken to get many of those affected by it on the road to recovery.  It is my personal mission to obliterate the misapprehension of PTSD, and ultimately, to personally defeat it.


~Monica~




Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Woman in the Street

I just have to share an inspiring tesitmony from my friend Kim, who I just got off the phone with.  She is a genuine, sweet person with such a beautiful spirit and heart for God.  She is one of my very best friends.  Kim doesn't enjoy writing as I do, so I asked her if I could write about her day because I feel it needs to be shared.  She excitedly gave me permission.  She doesn't have a Facebook page (weird, right?!), but hopefully will soon, so she can see what I wrote.

Kim has been going through some really big trials in her life, and some of those trials we are going through together.  In all of her adversities, she never loses sight of her faith, and never misses an opportunity to bring God praise not only for the things He has done, but the things He WILL do.  Anyway, she was driving to a very stressful doctor's appointment with her mom in one of the busiest intersections in the city.  While stopped at a red light and in the scorching heat she saw a homeless woman walking across the street with no shoes on her feet.  She looked like she hadn't had a shower in quite sometime, and she was dragging a big black garbage bag behind her, which looked heavily loaded with stuff.  Suddenly, the bag split open and it's contents began spilling out all over the street.  The woman didn't notice it at first, and kept walking, dragging the bag, leaving a trail of debris behind her.  Kim couldn't tell at first what the contents were that were spilling out all over the street, but her mom soon realized what they were.  She said, "Kim, that's food!  That woman is losing all her food!"  At that point, the bag totally burst open, and every single thing inside of it scattered.  Kim felt a strong tug within her spirit that she needed to help her.  They were parked 4 or 5 cars back from where the woman was, and no one else was offering her any assistance.  The food kept spilling everywhere, and the woman looked frantic.  The light was going to be turning green any moment, and her food which looked to be the only food she'd probably had in quite some time was spread all over the busy street.  Kim said, "Mom, I feel like I need to get out!  Should I get out?  I'm getting out!"  Her mom said, "Yes, go!"  Kim lept from her car and ran up to help the woman.  There was so much food everywhere, that even with both of them loading up their arms, there was no way she was going to be able to salvage it all.  She prayed that God would help her be able to save this poor woman's food.  They ran a few arm loads to the side of the road and ran back to get more, but the light had turned green, and cars were beginning to go.  Kim ran out in the street to try to stop traffic, and as she did so, one guy intentionally came very close to her with his car as he zoomed by, glaring.  She took her sunglasses off of her pretty, perfectly made-up face and looked directly at him.  Not a dirty look, just a look like, "Nothing that you are late for could possibly be more important than this poor woman's need for help."  She said his face kinda fell, like he was feeling convicted in his spirit, and he drove on.  The rest of the traffic stopped to let them rush to gather up the food.  One guy in a truck did drive by them quickly as they stooped and scurried to salvage what they could, but as he did so, he  threw an empty box out of his window.  "Praise God!", she thought.  Now they had something to put all the food in.  But it wouldn't all fit.  They hauled that box to the side of the street - the light was now back to red - and God told Kim to look over at a nearby building, where she saw a big empty crate sitting on top of a dumpster.  She ran and got it and her and the shoeless woman began to load up more food into it.  By this point the light was green again.  They were almost finished.  The woman looked up at Kim - their faces were close together - as they were bent over picking up food to throw into the crate.  The woman said, "Thank you SO much!  I just found all this food in a dumpster!"  Kim assured her she would stay until the job was done so that none of it would be ruined or go to waste.  They finished, and ran the crate to the side of the road, and traffic resumed.  Finally the hurried and annoyed motorists could move onto wherever it was they were going.  The woman again thanked Kim, and Kim smiled and told her how happy she was to help.

While she was recalling the story to me, she said, the one thing she saw the most about the woman was her feet.  They must have been killing her on the scalding pavement.  They were hard and calloused and dirty.  The woman had dirty hair also, which looked a little like unintentional dreadlocks were starting to settle in.  Her clothes were ragged and dirty.  She looked like she hadn't had a home in quite some time.  Kim thought to herself, "If God loves this woman whom some would definitely consider "the least of these" so much that he would bring her a miraculous bounty of food and such help in time of need, then I know he will take care of me too!".  In that moment all her worries about money, life stresses, major heartaches, health issues and fears about the future just seemed to melt away and she knew in a very deep way that God would never let her fall... that He loves her enough to not only provide some of her needs, but all of them.  She thanked God for the homeless woman, who opened her eyes, and blessed her with divine insight.  This was to her just as big a blessing as the one she selflessly provided to the woman in the street.

~~~~

“The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'  Matthew 25:40

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?"  Matthew 6:26


Monday, May 13, 2013

I Care For You



“I Care For You”
mg - 5/13/13

Vs 1:
As I look out at the rising sun
And see a new day has just begun,
I worry about yesterday and sigh.
Life can be hard.  It can be brutal
But I’ll keep on, for I know that You will
Take all my troubles and turn them into joy.

Chorus:
There is a better way
There is a higher way
If I brought you to it,
I will bring you through.
Lean not on your own strength,
Look up and seek My face.
Cast your worries on Me;
I care for you.

Vs 2:
I have some problems.  You have solutions.
When the unknown seems like a mountain,
I fear that I’m not strong enough to climb,
You reach down and you motivate me
To keep the faith and keep on climbing.
You guide me to courage alone I could not find.

Chorus:
There is a better way
There is a higher way
If I brought you to it,
I will bring you through.
Lean not on your own strength,
Look up and seek My face.
Cast your worries on Me;
I care for you.

Bridge:
I know the journey’s hard,
But is there anything too hard for for Lord?

Chorus:
There is a better way
There is a higher way
If I brought you to it,
I will bring you through.
Lean not on your own strength,
Look up and seek My face.
Cast your worries on Me;
I care for you.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Stronger than you imagined...

"Titanium"

You shout it loud, but I can't hear a word you say
I'm talking loud, not saying much
I'm criticized, but all your bullets ricochet
you shoot me down, but I get up

I'm bulletproof, nothing to lose
fire away, fire away
ricochet, you take your aim
fire away, fire away
you shoot me down, but I won't fall
I am titanium
you shoot me down, but I won't fall
I am titanium

Cut me down, but it's you who'll have further to fall
Ghost town and haunted love
Raise your voice, sticks and stones may break my bones
I'm talking loud, not saying much

I'm bulletproof, nothing to lose
fire away, fire away
ricochet, you take your aim
fire away, fire away

you shoot me down, but I won't fall
I am titanium
you shoot me down, but I won't fall
I am titanium

I am titanium

I am titanium

Stone hard, machine gun
Fired at the ones who run
Stone hard, as bulletproof glass

You shoot me down, but I won't fall
I am titanium
You shoot me down, but I won't fall
I am titanium
You shoot me down, but I won't fall
I am titanium
You shoot me down, but I won't fall
I am titanium

I am titanium

---

Another song I didn't write speaks my heart & sings my mind. "Stone hard machine gun fired at the ones who run"... ...Couldn't have said it better myself. But guess what?  I'm not running.

Stand up for yourself, even in the face of giant bullies & sheer terror. You'll remember for a moment what it feels like to be strong. ...In that moment, memories of strength will merge with the tortured reality of your circumstance and you will become aware that you are stronger than you ever imagined you could be.

~m~

"Titanium" link:
http://youtu.be/JRfuAukYTKg

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Doe, the Hunter and the Buck


“The Doe, the Hunter and the Buck” ~ A short, metaphorical, symbolic, true story.
By:  Monica Grossman



A young, doe-eyed deer skips lightly through the forest.  Carefree… excited about her destination… anticipating the wonderful things that the future surely holds.  The sunlight cascades through the bright green leaves above.  The trees stir and sway with the gentle spring wind and sing to her.  The breeze whispers past her ear, harmonizing with her as she hums a melodic, happy song.

All at once and with no warning, a shot is fired.  She feels a searing pain.  It feels as if her heart has exploded.  Light caves in around her.  Everything is white and black and silent and loud.  She stumbles and falls to the soft, mossy earth, and it grabs at her and holds her down and will not let her up.  Her muscles have failed.  Her heart and mind have failed.  She cannot get up, no matter how hard she tries.  She begins to try and understand what has just occurred.  “Why can’t I think?  Where am I?  Where was I going?  What has happened to me?  Am I going to be okay?”  She lies there for a very long and painful time.  She cannot move.  She does not understand.  She prays for someone to rescue her.  Nothing else happens.  Nothing else.  Silence.  Silence so loud, it muffles out the sound of her murky, muddled thoughts.  After a little while she realizes the hunter has gone.  He must have been hunting for sport alone.  But it does not make her feel any better knowing that she will not be someone’s meal today, for you see, she realizes her predicament.  Reality settles in:  “Oh no!  I’ve been shot!  Am I dying?!  Alone here in these woods?!!!  Help!!!!!!”  She lays there.  She bleeds.  She waits for rescue.

More time passes, though she cannot be sure just how much.  Hours and days all feel the same to her in the unyielding grip of what she fears most: dying alone.  “Wait?  What is that noise?”  She hears something, and the silence breaks its grasp.  “I hear footsteps!  Someone is coming!  Wait… Are they going to hurt me?  Maybe they are going to save me.  They are going to help me!  I just know it!”  Through blurred vision and hazy thoughts she sees a large buck with powerful antlers peering from behind a tree.  She can tell he is old.  “He must be wise.  He will know what to do.  He will have compassion.  He will help me.”  He is coming her way, walking slowly forward, as if unsure what he is seeing… trying to assess the scene before him.  “At last!  Help has come!  But I can’t move or speak… how will I be able to tell him about the ache I feel in my chest? Ohhhhhh, it hurts so much!  Oh, please hurry!  I really need help”, she thinks.  And then she looks up with her weary eyes, and tries to lift her face to see and voice to speak.  She summons all the courage, energy, her last resources, and the last of her breath to squeeze out a whispered plea for help. 

The buck stands over her, looking down at her, mind and eyesight keen.  He hears her panting… quietly pleading… begging for his help.  She is so fragile.  Weak.  Beautiful.  He knows this is his moment; his opportunity to be everything he has always wanted to be.  At last, the time has come for him to take charge; to be the big, strong buck that he knows deep down he is.  The other deer in his herd and throughout the forest and in his ever-so-painful past view him as weak.  They do not respect him.  They think he is a joke.  They laugh at him behind his back, but he is smart.  He knows.  They take him for granted.  They have never understood him.  He hates them.  But now, just before him is a defenseless doe who he and he alone can save.  “Wait,” he begins to realize, and thinks to himself, “At this crucial moment, I have the ability to affect her life.  I can change her forever.  I can alter her destiny.  What power I have!”  As he remembers the many other doe - the ones who snorted at him, ignored him, hurt him, left him - he is filled with a deep and brooding rage and it begins to well up and swell up within his puffy, masculine chest.  He knows that this truly is his one chance: His one opportunity to affect the life beneath him.  And to not just affect the life of this wounded, bleeding, pathetic doe; but his own life as well.  He could take it all back in one moment!  Everything that was stolen from him.  Everything ripped away.  What a powerful epiphany!  “I know what I must do”, he thinks. 

And so, in his moment of glory, he leans in close to her face.  He sees the blood pooling all around her body.  He hears her wheezing… pleading for help.  Desperately seeking salvation… protection.  He begins to speak to her in a strong and steady voice.  He has never been more sure of himself or anything else in his life than at this moment.  “Doe, I see that you have been shot.  You want me to rescue you…  but… I cannot.  You see, I need to rescue myself.  And right now, with you lying hear injured… unable to resist or refuse or fight or run - it is my perfect opportunity - my one chance.  Don’t you see?!  It is wonderful!  And so, Doe, you must die.  You will not die suddenly.  Although, I see that your wound is deep, it is not a mortal wound….. Yet…”  And he begins to kick her.  And kick her.  And kick her.  Kick the wound.  Over and over.  He kicks and stomps and snorts and snuffs and growls and screams with delight.  He will take her life.  Slowly and passionately.  Because, at last, he can.


Friday, April 26, 2013

"Unarmed" YouTube clip

It's only part of the song. Due to technical difficulties, the video cuts off midway through (technical difficulties being a 9 year old videographer... LOL), but here it is anyway.

God is good. He makes the wounded whole. ......Link to YouTube clip then lyrics below.

http://youtu.be/GJKhqvQDXk8

“Unarmed”

Just a moment more,
I haven’t had enough
Time to bask in it
And drink this sweet moment up.
I never knew
That real could feel this warm.
Nothing to run from
Or hide behind now. Unarmed.

You came and took
Away my need to be
Anything but
The treasure you made me to be.
Full of such purpose,
I cry for the times I got lost.
Resistance is worthless.
Your love will pursue at all cost.

And I feel whole, wounds and all.
I feel no alarm. Unarmed.

As humans, we’re funny.
Sometimes we fear the light.
And so we take cover.
When dawn starts to break, we fight.
I’m done with excuses.
Yesterday cannot hold me.
I’m resolute... ready,
Whatever tomorrow may bring.

You came to my darkness
Gave peace to my hopeless heart.
You hugged the hurt until
It was still.

I feel whole, wounds and all.
I feel no alarm. Unarmed.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Tears & Tenacity


I yearn for tears
To fall like raindrops,
But there are far too many…
The rain would be jealous.
So, I will not cry today.
Standing before
A mountain of bad things,
My mind is weary.
My body is weak.
My heart is heavier than
The mountain itself.
If only this were
One of those horribly realistic
Nightmares,
The kind that cause you
To awake in a cold sweat,
Heart pounding,
Afraid.
But from every dream,
There is awaking.
And every mountain
Is begging to be climbed
By someone brave.
Oh, but it looms above me!
Treacherous.
Taunting.
It’s slippery, jagged
And menacing terrain
Has me overwhelmed
With intimidation.
I must be honest.
I don’t want to climb.
I have no resources.
No companion.
No belay.
No rope.
I just want to cry.
I just want to sleep.
But I must do neither.
And so, I suppose
I shall write a poem about
Tears and tenacity,
And then I shall climb in the rain.

"More" - A new worship song for church


“More”
4/9/13
  
Vs 1:

We need forgiveness,
We need Your peace,
And Your amazing grace.
We need You, Jesus,
We need You now,
So come and fill this place.

Chorus:
More, more, we need more,
More of You in us.
More, more, so much more.
More of Your Great Love.

Vs 2:
We want revival.
We want Your will
To overshadow ours.
We want Your mercy.
We want Your truth
 To come and cleanse our hearts.

Chorus:
More, more, we need more,
More of You in us.
More, more, so much more...
More of Your Great Love.

Bridge:
Without You Lord,
We would be lost.
But in Your presence,
We are found.
Without You Lord,
We would be lost.
But in Your presence,
We are found.

Chorus:
More, more, we need more,
More of You in us.
More, more, so much more...
More of Your Great Love.

I wrote this song last week.  It is different from the ones I typically write, because it is a worship song, specifically for singing in church.  It's very simple, and easy.  I taught it to my dad and worship team on Saturday, and we performed it yesterday in church.  We need lots more practice on it, but everyone seemed to like it.  Here is a clip of the song.  Unfortunately, it is audio only.  I hesitate to post it, because it's nowhere near polished!  LOL... but here it is anyhow.  My dad is the one talking me up in it.  He's so sweet.  He's always my biggest fan.


http://www.tubechop.com/watch/1111534

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Unarmed


This is a song I wrote yesterday and am still working on.  The keyboard part is written, but I am not completely happy with it because I would really like to have some acoustic guitar as the key instrumental element to the song.

“Unarmed”
D minor/F ~ MG/4/8/13

Vs 1:
Just a moment more,
I haven’t had enough
Time to bask in it
And drink this sweet moment up.
I never knew
That real could feel this warm.
Nothing to run from
Or hide behind now.  Unarmed.

Instrumental Chorus...

Vs 2:
You came and took
Away my need to be
Anything but
The treasure you made me to be.
Full of such purpose,
I cry for the times I got lost.
Resistance is worthless.
Your love will pursue at all cost.

Chorus:
And I feel whole, wounds and all.
I feel no alarm.  Unarmed.

Vs 3:
As humans, we’re funny.
Sometimes we fear the light.
And so we take cover.
When dawn starts to break, we fight.
I’m done with excuses.
Yesterday cannot hold me.
I’m resolute... ready,
Whatever tomorrow may bring.

Bridge:
You came to my darkness
Gave peace to my hopeless heart.
You hugged the hurt until
It was still.

Chorus:
I feel whole, wounds and all.
I feel no alarm.  Unarmed.


Friday, April 05, 2013

Selfishness & Letters From the Sky

I am feeling a little selfish today.  I found out a few days ago that my Grandma is dying.  From what I hear, she only has maybe days to live, if that.  I am not ready for her to die.  I love her so, and haven't gotten to spend enough time with her.  She says she feels ready to go be with Jesus, and also to be reunited with her sons and her husbands in Heaven, but I don't want her to go yet.  I can't even think about it.  I want just a little more time with her.  I want to hug her again.  To look into the eyes of the woman who gave me my red hair color.  To thank her for being such a bold example of what it means to walk with God, causing a ripple effect within her family, reaching generations.  I don't want to miss my Grandma.

Grandma Max lives in Minnesota and I have lived on the western side since I was a baby.  I've not had the money throughout my life to be able to visit her very often, and have only gotten to see her maybe 6 or 7 times in my life.  Even with seeing her that little, I always have felt a special bond with her.  She is a sweet, fun, God-fearing woman who has been such a beautiful spiritual leader to our family.  She is the glue that holds so many of us together.  She means so very much to so many.  Losing her from this world is going to hurt.  I can only imagine how my dad must be feeling.  He is going to be devastated when she passes.  We have been praying for her healing, even though she has stated she wants to pass on.  How selfish of us.  If it is her time, it is her time, and God knows what and when is best.  I need to find a way to be at peace with this.  I just regret that I didn't get to see her enough.  It seems I'll have to wait for Heaven for that now.

In times like this when my heart hurts the most, I wish sometimes that I had a companion/partner/best-friend/husband.  Things are easier to bear when you have someone who truly cares, and who will hold you in your pain.  If you are reading this and you have a spouse, never ever take them for granted.  You are blessed to have someone in the flesh you know you can always turn to when life gets tumultuous.

I know I wasn't designed to be alone, and yet here I am.  Alone.  I haven't even dated anyone in almost 2 years.  I know a lot of my solitude is by choice, because I feel it is better to be single, than to have a bad relationship.  And as a mother, I would much rather have my children have no father figure than to have a bad one.  But that does not change that feeling of void in my life.  Especially in times like this.

I don't know that I believe in soul mates.  I used to when I was younger, but as I have gotten older, I've come to decide that relationships are a choice.  Who you decide to be with is a choice.  Commitment is a choice.  Some of my friends and family have told me in the past that the reason I don't believe in soul mates is because I haven't met mine yet.  Maybe that's true, but I wouldn't know.  Maybe choices in the past have brought me to a place where I am no longer meant for love.  But I wouldn't know.  I do dream, sometimes, about having a strong, mutual love relationship in my life... one that exists and grows beyond the confines of time and flesh and life as we know it.  But I have been accused of dreaming too much.  So, I usually shut those dreams down and try to keep my feet on the ground, disallowing myself from longing for that type of love.  For all I know, it may not exist.

My Grandma does inspire me, though.  I do find a small sense of comfort in the hope that she gives me.  She is such a love.  She lives to love others.  ...After my Grandpa died, she felt so alone.  But God gave her someone to love and to love her.  She was on a train to come visit us in California a few years after my Grandpa's passing, and she met a really nice man on that train ride who had also lost his spouse to death.  She was in her 70's at the time, I believe.  She was so happy, and married him soon after.  Then, after her second husband died a few years back, God brought another man into her life.  He showed up unexpectedly at her door with flowers or candy or something romantic, and told her he had had a crush on her since grade school, had found out she was single, and wanted to court her.  She was in her 80's at that point.  They were married shortly after.  Romance just seeks that woman out!  It's a beautiful thing.  Now she is 85 and is weak and tired and ready to go home.  She has felt much loss and misses her loved ones that have passed.  She says she is ready to go, and feels it is her time.  I will pray for God's will in this.  I will pray that she does not suffer, and that she is filled with a deep peace, knowing where she is going once she leaves us.  I'm sure God wants to have her Home even more than I wish to keep her here.

There is a song that I love called "Letters From the Sky" by Civil Twilight.  The lyrics just get me every time I listen to it, which is often.  In my interpretation of the song, I hear reference to Jesus return to the earth and His coming back for His chosen, reference to other things like fear and death, but also to romantic love... the kind of love I have only dreamed about.  As I sit here next to tears thinking about my Grandma's coming passing, I yearn for that companionship.  That shoulder.  Those arms.  That love.  I am feeling very selfish today.  Tomorrow I will find a way to be content in the moment, but today... my heart hurts.

~

Here is the link to the song "Letters From the Sky", in case you want to take a listen...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Wa7dFR09vU&feature=share&list=PLQoLRkjLxVJXmtT0Fxuzd6rXDxlo9KVVT

Friday, March 22, 2013

"Paint a Masterpiece"

Every new day is
A new chance to win,
A new chance to choose;
A chance to begin...
To change the things that
You are able to change...
To release the norm;
Grasp what once was strange...
To speak the words that
Yesterday left unsaid...
To abandon fear;
Embrace peace instead...
To find a new home in
Quiet gratitude...
To make choices that
Reflect the true you;
The you that is love...
The you that is light...
The you brave enough
To outlast the night.
So, take on this day
With resolve.  Release.
Your canvas is new...
Paint a masterpiece.

~mg~



Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Spiritual Things

So much of what goes on around us is unseen.  In my personal observation, it seems that most people do not take the time to acknowledge or contemplate the spiritual side of life.  I read that a recent poll showed that under 25% of the population in the U.S. identifies as spiritual in some way (but not religious)  ...less than one in four people in America!  I wonder what the percentage would be for the rest of the world's population? It is mind boggling to me for any being with an intellect not to contemplate such things.  How can any of us even live and breathe without seeing the evidences of God?  A Creator?  The author of Faith and Love and Life?  It is so evident and all around me, that even if I were to attempt to deny it, it would be impossible.  I cannot look at the sky, or a meadow, or a stream or a snowflake without seeing God.  I cannot look into the eyes of a child, hear the rush of an ocean wave or smell the fragrance of the forest without feeling God.  Those evidences are huge, but then add to them the intricate workings of our anatomy, biology as a whole, photosynthesis and reproduction to name just a few.  There are so very many complex and detailed systems within our world that could never be adequately described by osmosis or sufficiently explained away as an accident.  And then what about phenomenons like miracles?! ...Those literal and very personal miracles I experience on a continual and increasing basis  ...Prayer upon prayer upon specific prayer being answered in my life; prayers that seem almost preposterous to even have the audacity to pray, and yet my God answers them!  How can I not think about God and the spiritual on a multiple-times-daily basis?

Life is not just wealth and jobs and friends and fun and however success might possibly be defined.  Life is about so much more than that.  Do those things matter?  Yes, I suppose they do, depending on your personal value system, but they pale in comparison to the bigger picture of what is life.  I see life as made up of four general and somewhat broad parts:  The physical, the mental, the emotional and the spiritual.  I work diligently to keep ALL areas of my life healthy.  Just because something is not tangible or palpable in the present does not mean that it is not.  I guess that is where faith comes in.  And in my personal experience, as I have become more and more in tune with the spiritual me, it is becoming less and less enigmatic, distant and pie-in-the-sky-ish.

My relationship with God is not merely perceived, but is an active knowing.  It is not just a hope.  It does not feel anything like a long-distance relationship with a sweet sounding pipe-dream.  It is not wishful thinking.  It is!  My relationship with God feels more to me like being wrapped in the arms of unconditional love.  It is a yearning to give as much love as I have to give back, and to the best of my human ability (though it pales in comparison to God's capacity to love).  It feels like a warm blanket of security... like breathing in peace... grace incarnate ...truth at it's deepest level.  And it is wonderful.  Beautiful. I am so thankful that I was created as a being who has a spirit, and that God has created within me a desire to understand, embrace and grow that spiritual side of me.  That He loves me.  I am grateful that He has been so patient with me as it has taken quite a while for me to accept His love with all four parts of my being, regardless of the fact that I cannot fully comprehend that Love. I am beyond thankful that God is helping me to finally grasp that there is nothing I can do about it!  Nothing I can do to earn it.  Nothing I can do to ruin or diminish it.  His Love just is.  And it is mine.  It is yours too.  I just hope that you are one out of the four people who realize it.  If not, it is my job to tell you.

Awaken to God's Love.



Friday, January 25, 2013

Change starts with me...

I had a rough morning.  Woke up tired, and not wanting to be awake.  Another morning of making sure the kids get up and showered and dressed and fed and making lunches for them and reminding them about homework and library books and backpacks and please get your shoes and coats on and having to ask them over and over to do these things, and please hurry so we are not late for school.  I was met with some cooperation and some non-cooperation.  I wasn't in the mood to deal with the non-cooperation at all.

I found myself lecturing my kids almost the whole way to school about how I shouldn't have to ask them to do things like "get dressed", but when I do ask, I certainly shouldn't have to ask several times and then threaten to take away a priviledge before they finally get up and move.  I told them I really need them to start being more responsible and respectful and obedient.  But as I heard myself say these things, I thought, "I really sound like a recording set to repeat, because I have said all of this before.  I have pleaded for their help with the house, responsibility, etc.  But nothing changes for very long.  They inevitably resort back to their old ways.  Is it me?  Am I doing something wrong?  Am I not strict enough or consistent enough or am I too hard on them and expect too much?  They are kids after all.  Maybe I need to be a better example... my room isn't clean either right now... I am failing as a mother."  Oh, the negative self-talk I catch myself in!  It sure doesn't help matters.

I drove home upset, and when I got here, I decided I needed to take a few minutes to reflect on the situation and do a little writing.  I am often guilty of seeing what is happening right in front of me, and missing the importance of seeing the bigger picture.  I stopped and asked myself, "What are the things that are most important in life?  They are: God, love, my children, etc.  They are NOT: a perfectly clean house, perfectly obedient children who get straight A's and never forget anything, etc.  And so I started writing a little advice quote to myself.  And it really helped me to take a step back, breathe and refocus.  Here is what I wrote:


Life is brief.
Spend your time
 and energy wisely.
Learn from mistakes,
 and rise above adversity.
Choose to be content,
 but accept the unexpected.
Be continually grateful.
Give love and be loved.
...And never lose sight
 of the One who
 gave you life.

I am going to be much more positive with my kids this afternoon.  They probably felt like I thought they were "bad kids" this morning, and they really are not.  They are great kids, who just happened to have a bad morning, just like all of us do from time to time.  We all need to remember to see the bigger picture, to quit beating ourselves up when we get off coarse.  It happens.  At this moment, I am going to have another cup of coffee and do some praying, positive thinking and some self-motivation before I start in on my chores and responsibilities.  Change starts with me.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Silent & Still

Finally got it up - an original song I wrote years ago, in my twenties, recorded recently by my brother.  I still feel it every time I sing it.  It's always a good reminder for me.



"Silent & Still"

I haven't heard from You in a while.
I just realized why.
I haven't stopped and listened, and really tried to hear.
I haven't really been silent and still.

I can't count the times I've felt sorry for myself
For the answers I didn't hear.
I pray for solutions, I pray for Your will, but I haven't really listened;
I haven't really been silent and still.

I will not hear Your sweet voice if I'm doing all the talking.
I will not see Your will unless I close my eyes to mine.
I will not know the peace that comes from the power one can feel
Unless I close my eyes open my heart and be silent and still.

Good Enough






"Good Enough"

~mg~  1/24/13

VS 1:
I overheard you talking about yourself.
I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed with grief.
The you you perceive, just isn’t the you I see.
You never have to be good enough for Me.

Chorus:
You try and try, you fall, you fail and then you just give up.
Stop trying to earn my Love.
Just take this Gift.  Own this Grace.  Drink from Mercy’s cup.
There is no such thing... as “good enough”.

Vs 2:
Those sorrowful nights when you feel most alone and blue,
I watch tearfully, feeling such sadness too.
I’m waiting to hold you.  Won’t you look up and see?
You never have to be good enough for Me.

Chorus:
You try and try, you fall, you fail and then you just give up.
Stop trying to earn my Love.
So take this Gift.  Own this Grace.  Drink from Mercy’s cup.
There is no such thing... as “good enough”.

Bridge:
No one in this world knows you
Better than I do.
From My Love you cannot escape.
Chastising yourself for being
Fallible and weak,
Distracts you from calling on My strength.

2nd Chorus:
I see your heart, I stand and knock.  Won’t you let Me in?
It’s just Me.  Please, don’t clean up.
See, that’s my job.  It’s what I do.  Let healing now begin.
There is no such thing as “good enough”.