My Health & Fitness Journey
I gave birth to my son in October 2014.
Within the first few weeks of mommy-hood, I began to experience behavior and emotions that did not seem normal, although my doctor said as long as I didn’t want to harm myself or my baby, I was fine.
But I did not feel fine.
My little bundle of joy barely slept or took naps during the day for me, so I was absolutely exhausted, living off of caffeine and sugar just to function. When he would actually fall asleep, all I could do was stare up at the ceiling, unable to shut my body down to get rest. I was suffering continuously with anxiety attacks to the point of hyperventilation because I didn’t like who I was becoming. I felt out of control and miserable.
Being a woman of prayer, there was no way I could be a victim of postpartum depression, right?
I’m a Christian and I know that Jesus died so that I could walk in TOTAL freedom from all sin, sickness, and disease, I thought.
I would pray and pray and pray for God to heal me. I felt like this was a spiritual battle and I was totally losing. My spirit felt utterly depleted.
As the months went by, the anxiety and emotional outbursts somewhat seemed to fade, but then I started experiencing even more random physical symptoms such as oral thrush, ringing in my ears, heartburn, swelling in my throat, restless legs, and insomnia.
It was obvious that my body didn’t have what it needed to fight off these symptoms, and medication to just quiet the symptoms and not eliminate the root cause, for me, was a last resort. Out of curiosity and desperation, I began researching what was physically going on in my body. This was the unhealthiest I had ever felt in my whole life and the heaviest I had ever weighed, so I knew that I needed to make some serious changes, especially regarding my eating habits and stress triggers. I believe in prayer, but sometimes there is more going on in the natural realm that we can have control over, with God’s wisdom and provision.
I realized that this battle going on inside of me and all around me could not be compartmentalized. This wasn’t just spiritual, emotional, mental, or physical. In other words, I wasn’t just spiritually, emotionally, mentally, or physically unhealthy; It was absolutely everything combined! Knowing that the Creator of the Universe created me spirit, soul, and body, I couldn’t just focus on the wellness and wholeness of one area. All of me needed healing, and I was ready to partner with the Lord to see restoration unfold.
Like I said, God created us body, soul, and I spirit:
- We are a spirit
- We possess a soul
- We live in a body
This means that we are a tri-part being.
We discover this truth in 1 Thessalonians 5:
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, ESV).
God cares about our whole being, and all of it connects together. How we take care of ourselves, affects our overall health. We have to take responsibility in all three areas: spirit, soul, and body, and trust that God will strengthen us and give us the wisdom on how to take each step along this journey to see total wholeness.
In Summer 2015, I began my health and fitness journey. I began juicing fruits and veggies in the morning and making sure I was getting the proper nutrients from REAL food and taking supplements when necessary. I cut out sugar and processed foods, began drinking only water and occasionally herbal teas, and slowly but surely my addiction to sugary caffeine drinks was completely gone.
I started working out regularly at home and lifting weights through Beach Body‘s workout programs and other helpful exercises. Before I knew it, the number on the scale (which isn’t always the problem, but for me it was) was dropping and I was fitting into clothes that were sizes smaller than even my pre-baby clothes! If that wasn’t awesome enough, my anxiety and panic attacks disappeared, along with those weird physical symptoms like oral thrush and ringing in my ears.
I still am not where I want to be completely regarding my overall health and wellness, but I am definitely headed in the right direction! I finally feel like I’m glorifying God in my body!
Also, check out this other great resource for more tips on health and wellness! Remember, to take care of the body God gave you!
When Google Became My god
December 21, 2018
I have been quiet on social media this past month or two, and even quieter on the blog.
Like I shared on IG earlier this month, I have been somewhat silenced by fear. Because of that, I was extremely embarrassed to share much of what was going on in my life and in my heart.
As an encourager and someone who believes she has been given the gift of faith…:
Faith trusts God to work beyond the human capabilities of the people. Believers with this gift encourage others to trust in God in the face of apparently insurmountable odds (1 Cor. 12:9).Lifeway Spiritual Gift Assessment
…I was so ashamed that I would allow fear to grip my heart and consume so much of my mind. Fear and doubt came flooding into my life. I stopped reaching out to Jesus and started to sink.
This all began back in August when I was writing an article on moles and skin cancer for one of my clients (who is a practitioner). He sends me medical articles and I simplify them for the blog on his website and for the newsletter he sends his patients. It is really awesome because I truly enjoy learning more about each health and wellness topic that he sends me. I have always had a passion for learning how to take care of the body God gave me.
Not this time.
Discovering the signs of concerning/cancerous moles should have been informative and helpful for me, but instead the ABCDE’s of screening your moles for melanoma sent me down a spiral of panic and fear.
I immediately, checked the mole on my left hip that I was born with…
A- Asymmetry: a noncancerous mole must be consistent in shape
It was no longer circular like it had been for years!
B- Border: the border of a benign mole should be smooth, not ragged, blurred, or irregular
The edges were not defined at all anymore!
C- Color: noncancerous moles should have a consistent shade without any hint of other colors
There were small black spots in the middle of the mole and a lighter brown on the outside!
D- Diameter: moles that are larger than the eraser of a pencil are more susceptible of becoming cancerous
I placed a pencil over the mole and it went passed the edges of the eraser!
E- Elevation/evolution: if a mole appears elevated, raise, or begins to change shape or color over time, it may be cancerous
Oh no, it felt more raised and looked bigger!
I rushed to the bathroom. The beauty mark on my left cheek also looked different!
Oh my God, this is not good!
I started to hyperventilate and hurriedly called my mom who was diagnosed with skin cancer and had a spot removed on her nose ten years ago. My aunt and my grandpa also had numerous spots on their body with basal and squamous cells. Trips to the dermatologists were normal for them.
I had never been to a dermatologist before and had no idea what office to call. I did not want to wait to be seen. This was an emergency. I could have melanoma- I needed to get in like yesterday!!
Google to the rescue, right?
Sure, Google helped me find a dermatologist with a good rating that was close to me, but over the course of weeks and months (did you know that it takes over a month to get into a dermatologist’s office?!), Google would open the door wide to more panic and more fear.
Every single time I went to the bathroom, I would check that mole and check Google. I would read the same articles over and over again. I found a story about a woman who was in her early 30s and just had a baby and didn’t know she had melanoma. It spread to her lymph nodes (Oh God, my lymph nodes have been hurting on and off again for weeks!), then to her brain and she died. Google also lead me to a story about a baby who began to get moles all over his face- melanoma apparently is a disease that can be passed through the placenta.
Oh God, James has a huge birth mark on the back of his neck! Are those black spots forming in the middle of it? Is that really a large melanoma?! Oh, I don’t know if I can handle losing my baby boy!
Yes, my mind went all over the place, y’all. The thoughts got darker and darker. I was convinced I was going to die of cancer and that the house that we just put a contract on would have to be enjoyed without me and that my sister-in-law would move in to raise my children. Yes, I believed the lie that I only had a few months to live.
It didn’t help that my appointment got rescheduled because the office would be closed that day and the soonest they could reschedule was another month out. I started freaking out and making multiple appointments at other offices. Whoever could get me in the soonest, which wasn’t very promising. I made an appointment with a primary doctor, hoping they would get me a referral. My mom even called a practice in IL for me. She was able to get me an appointment within two weeks.
Would you believe me if I told you that I had to cancel that appointment the morning of because I was vomiting so much that my husband had to come home to take care of the boys?
Yeah, anxiety can do some crazy weird things to our bodies.
If the sleep and emotional issues weren’t enough, I began to feel pain all over my body constantly; I thought I had fibromyalgia. Man, those chiropractor appointments were not helping with the muscle aches and neck tension. I was so exhausted, I thought I had adrenal fatigue- buy more supplements…maybe that will help?
One night I had trouble falling asleep because I couldn’t stop shaking and I was sweating so badly.
Like usual, I turned to Google trying to figure out what these symptoms were pointing to.
Oh my goodness, night sweats are a sign of lymphoma! So is easily bruising…where are all of the massive bruises coming from?!
All of this brought me to tears constantly. I was irritable with my boys over the smallest things. Any time I would think about this mole and all of the other issues I was experiencing, I would crumble. It all utterly consumed my mind for months at this point. I couldn’t talk to my husband about it anymore because he was just so tired of hearing about it and kept telling me that it was probably nothing. I wanted to believe him. I felt out of my mind crazy, you guys.
Then in early November, the day finally came for my appointment with the dermatologist.
As I was driving to my appointment, I just began singing the Bridge to Housefires “Good, Good Father” over and over.
“You are perfect in all of Your ways…to us…”
As I sat in the exam room, in my gown and socks, I felt God’s peace for the first time in many, many weeks. The doctor was so friendly and reassuring. She was confident that the reason my mole was growing was because of the fluctuation of hormones my body has been exposed to for over a year with pregnancy and now nursing. She took a look at it with her microscope and told me she was not alarmed, but would like to remove it for my peace of mind in a month. I felt such a weight lifted and joy flood my heart!
But when I came home, the enemy began to whisper: “But what if they still find something once they send it to the lab?” And “what about all this pain you have had around your lymph nodes and chest?”
For the first time during all of this, I took the thoughts captive and cast them down, bringing them to Jesus.
Then exactly a week later, while I was taking the dog out, my underarms started hurting all of a sudden. I went to rub them and felt this huge lump.
My heart sank. Why would my lymph nodes under my arms be swollen?
Back to Google (not God) for the answers…
…to be continued…
Just Keep Breathing
September 16, 2018
It’s Sunday morning.
And I am at home.
I would normally be at church right now with my family, but my (very fussy, teething who is obsessed with comfort-nursing) 7 month old is fighting a cold. Considering we just faced this last week with our 3 year old who is majorly sensitive to pain or un-comfortableness (well, what 3 year old isn’t dramatic, right?), all I can say is “Momma is tired.”
Stress has been high, y’all. My right eye won’t stop twitching. Sleep deprivation is starting to become a part of my daily reality.
Where my mommas at?? This is #momlife.
And in a weird, optimistically sadistic way, I love it! Ha!
Moms are weird. Or maybe, it’s just me?
I often wonder if I will be able to physically and emotionally be able to take another hard day. Each day seems to drain every ounce of energy I have to give and sometimes it feels like I have to remind myself to breathe.
Although sometimes I find myself holding my breath when I am stressed to the max (and there has been a lot of instances lately…), I don’t have to remind myself to breathe. My body simply keeps breathing. Adding mom-brain to the mix, I am so glad I don’t have to remember to breathe…I would be in respiratory distress way too many times throughout the day if that was the case!
As I was reflecting upon this basic human function- breathing- I realized how dependent I am upon my Creator to physically remain alive. He is the One who filled my lungs with breath when I came into being and is the One who sustains every single breath since my very first one.
The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things… (Act 17:24-25, NASB).
Why do I worry?
I think it is important to truly acknowledge this. Instead of complaining about how stressed I am, I need to simply ask myself why I am worried.
This goes for all of us- not just moms. Stress, worry, and anxiety are our body’s response to being overwhelmed. Most likely we are putting ourselves into this state of panic because we are trying to control the outcome and trying to do it all in our own strength. As believers, we know that God is sovereign. We proclaim “God is control.” If we honestly believed this, we wouldn’t allow ourselves to be completely crushed under the weight of the stresses of life.
Life is stressful, but we do not have to live in a constant state of stress. If we do, there must be a part of us that believes we can completely control or fix our circumstances- this is oh so prideful, friends.
…all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you (1 Peter 5: 5b-7, NASB).
I love how these two ideas are connected in these Bible verses.
HUMILITY= ENCOURAGEMENT & GRACE
When we remain anxious for a long period of time, we are choosing to control the situation and not hand it over to the Lord. We are simply telling God, “It’s okay. I’ve got this. I don’t need Your help.”
Grace is a gift from the Father. It empowers us to walk out our calling and the assignments the Lord has given us. We are weak without it.
Jesus told the Apostle Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Like breathing, it is by His grace that we have the ability and strength to do anything for Him. If grace is like the air in our lungs, then constant anxiety is like holding a pillow over your own face. Click To Tweet
(I am shouting at myself too…)
Stop trying to suffocate yourself!
Now, I know that for many people, anxiety goes beyond your thought-life and can be a very serious medical condition regarding chemical imbalances and inflammation in the brain. I have been there many times throughout my life and still struggle with it…hello, crazy hormones! In this case, seek medical attention if you believe your anxiety is caused by a physical problem going on in your body. I believe in total wholeness and wellness: spirit, soul, AND BODY.
No matter what, we need God’s grace and help!
Most of the time, experiencing anxiety, worry, and stress are signs that you are trying to gain control and are struggling. You will undoubtedly experience those things in life (the Bible tells that we must cast our anxieties upon the Lord, so obviously there will be anxieties to cast), but they do not have to be your everyday reality because we should never hold onto them. When we are beginning to panic or stress-out, this is an opportunity to humble ourselves and call out to the Lord for help. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us that He cares for us, and because He is such a good, good Father, He longs to help take care of our needs.
Calling out to the Lord for help should be an everyday occurrence, especially during intense and overwhelming situations.
“Help me, Jesus” is my go-to prayer all-day everyday as a mom of little ones, and I am not ashamed to admit it! His grace and peace come into my situation as I fix my thoughts upon His goodness and faithfulness. I remind my head that Jesus is Lord and that He is in control. Without trying, breath fills my lungs, and hope fills my heart once again.
Take a deep breath and remember that God will care for you, no matter what stresses may come to overwhelm you.
Father, I pray for those who are feeling overwhelmed by their circumstances right now. I ask that You would graciously remind them to surrender their control over to You, the only One who can sustain all things and bring true peace and hope. Thank You for your grace and your strength when we feel so powerless. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
How to Show Empathy (Without Internalizing Everyone’s Negative Emotions)- iBelieve.com Post
August 10, 2018
One of my nicknames in high school was “Queenie,” short for “Drama Queen.”
I understand that not all women are this way, but I guess I have always been an emotional person by nature. Of course, there were many times where my emotions got the best of me. I was pulled under and tossed to and fro by anxiety, chaos, worry, and drama. I would eventually find a place to release all of those emotions – the theater.
My emotions negatively affected many of my relationships because I didn’t know how to experience and process them in a healthy manner. My feelings controlled me when it should have been the other way around. Perhaps, this drama queen was attracted to drama, or perhaps, I simply wanted to help others weather the storm of their own emotions. Yet in addition to my own mess that I would find myself in over the years, it seemed my life got even more dramatic and chaotic when I allowed others’ junk to pile onto mine. Suddenly, I was carrying others’ baggage including my own. After a while, that starts to get heavy!
Thankfully, there came a point in my life where I cried out to the Lord that I couldn’t do it any longer on my own; it was just too heavy to carry anymore. Jesus found me in my mess, under all of my heavy suitcases, and He set me free from all of the unnecessary burdens that weighed me down. He showed me how to trust Him and surrender my emotionally-out-of-control/control-freak-ways all to Him.
We truly weren’t meant to carry around all this baggage!
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11:28-30, NLT).
It took time, but I learned how to find rest in Lord. The Holy Spirit helped me cultivate the fruit talked about in Galatians 5:22-23 (especially self-control) and taught me how to tell my emotions who’s boss. Take that, anxiety! Take that, anger! Take that, bitterness! Take that, depression!
Although I knew to run to Jesus when I was emotional, weary, or anxious, if I was around others (whether one-on-one, or my family, or people I encountered at work, or even things I would hear in the news or on the internet) who were going through a dark time or just needed to vent, I still found myself taking on their negativity and anxiety. Why? Because:
I wanted to help them through the struggle.
I wanted to bear their burdens like the Bible says we are to do (Galatians 6:2).
I wanted to show them empathy and put myself in their shoes.
All good things, right? As long as you don’t lace up those shoes and run off with them!
Ultimately, we cannot control the sadness or destruction going on in the world or in others’ lives around us, nor can we control others’ behavior or actions. But we can control how we react to it all and keep our own emotions in check.
Before we become involved in someone else’s problem or emotional experience, I believe the most important thing we must do is to guard our own heart.
Proverbs 4:23 tell us “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (NIV).
We don’t want our heart to become someone else’s dumpster. Considering the heart as the soil in which we bear good fruit (Luke 8:15), we must protect it from negativity, worldliness, worry, bitterness, and anxiety. Those things will only act like weeds and choke out the growth of the seed of the Word of God in your life.
When it comes to healthy interaction in relationships, our involvement in others’ personal problems, and exuding empathy, I think people can fall in certain categories: those in mourning, the pessimists, and the toxic. Depending on which category the person may fall under, I believe we can better understand how the Lord may be able to use us as an instrument of healing through walking in empathy in a healthy manner as well as what our role in their life may be during the hard time.
Read more at iBelieve.com
What God Has Taught Me Through the Seasons Where I Felt “Stuck”-iBelieve Post
June 28, 2018
“Hi, my name is Emily, and I am recovering from an addiction to do-ing.”
It took me many years to finally admit that. If there was a goal or task to accomplish, I would throw all of myself into successfully completing it. I still have great work ethic, but the problem was the fact that I was too concerned with what people thought of me based upon my accomplishments. I loved the high from “the hustle” and having my schedule full to the brim. I spent years upon year upon years crowding the margins of my existence with:
Dance class, gymnastics, cheerleading, running track, Student Council, Marching Band, Pep Band, Concert Band, Art Club, Peers Group, musicals & plays (“I can’t. I have rehearsal.”), auditions, performances, church choir practice, tutoring, youth ministry, college and career ministry, worship team rehearsals, Bible studies, prayer meetings, church leadership meetings, drama practices, event planning committees, speaking engagements…
…just to name a few.
Entering a New Season
Being successful and driven became the meaning behind every breath I took; I found purpose in my performance and productivity. This was all I knew for well over 20 years of my life.
Then came the day, four years ago, when God asked me to leave my job and become a stay-at-home mom. Even though there was always a daily task-list before me:
Laundry, feeding, burping, diaper-changing, vacuuming, mopping, dishes, feeding, burping, diaper-changing, lunch, emails, phone-calls, feeding, burping, diaper-changing, dinner, feeding, burping, diaper-changing…
…I didn’t feel accomplished at all.
I felt robotic.
I felt completely overwhelmed and frazzled, drained and exhausted.
My excellent productivity skills had always proven to be such an asset to my daily routine, but not anymore. I couldn’t focus on the here and now, let alone enjoy it, because I was always looking to the next thing that had to be finished.
What did I even do today? I would ask myself constantly because I never felt like my to-do list was completed. There was always more to do the next day too.
Using this Season of Life
Although I would have told you straight to your face that my identity and purpose was not in what I do, I don’t know if I whole-heartedly believed that. In this new season of my life as a stay-at-home mom, I felt absolutely stuck and quite frankly, like a failure. Surely, God wouldn’t call me to leave my job just to abandon me here, drowning in dirty laundry and a sink full of dirty dishes, feeling like it was piling up all around me. Surely, there had to be more purpose to my life than all of this!
This lack of productivity and accomplishment felt totally foreign to me, but little did I know, God was going to use this new season to teach me some of the greatest lessons of trusting Him even when everything in my life seems to be at a stand-still.
Read more at iBelieve.com
Special Delivery Part 2: My Birth Story
March 12, 2018
I wrote about my birthing experiencing with my son, Isaiah, just two weeks after he was born. He wasn’t a great sleeper (and almost 3.5 years later, we occasionally have our issues…Lord, thank You for Your grace!), so I found myself awake all through the night…a lot. I must have had trouble falling back asleep the night I wrote our story of his birth. Sleepless baby and sleepless momma. Man, those were some tough nights. But we survived, thank You Jesus!
Now with my second son, James, it has taken me over a month to sit down and write out our story of his birth. It must be because we actually sleep at night! Even with the time change last night, he STILL slept for 6.5 hours straight! He is my little sleeper…praise the Lord!
God has been so incredibly faithful to us with Jameson.
From the moment my water broke to these last several weeks with him finally here with us.
His grace, so incredibly tangible.
For the whole pregnancy, I was fully mentally prepared to hold our new precious baby boy in my arms around 38 weeks, since that is when his older brother graced us with his unexpected presence.
But to be completely honest with you, that didn’t happen, and the last month was extremely stressful, confusing, and exhausting.
I cried. A lot. I was moody. A lot. I was tired. A lot.
I started to have time-able/ pattern-forming contractions around 37 weeks along with baby boy #2; I was getting even more anxious for that special day to come when we would finally meet our newest blessing.
But that cycle of “fake outs” lasted for over 3 weeks. God bless my poor husband! I never really knew when it was “go time…”
…until a little after 6am on February 7th, 2018 (the day after my due date), just as Paul was headed out the door for work telling me to keep him updated, I gasped as my water broke while lounging on the couch!
No more guessing if it was “go time!” Ha! Grace! Paul called my mom to let her know the news because she offered to drive over an hour and a half to come watch little man AKA Isaiah. Grace!
Because a friend of mine offered to be present at the birth to photograph the joyful day (Grace!), I hopped in the shower and got glammed up, of course! 😉
I assumed that it would be awhile before contractions began, since mine never started with Isaiah after my water broke with him…Pitocin is the devil…
…but before I could finish my shower, they started to amp up. Grace! And they were definitely the real deal this time! Yikes!
I dialed (do we still use that word for cell phones?) the on-call midwife and let her know what was going down and we decided to meet at the birth center at 8am, just in time to get stuck in rush hour morning traffic! But by the grace of God, we were able to stop by Chick-fi-la for FREE chicken biscuits for a quick breakfast (eating in between contractions that were now starting to get pretty intense) and STILL made it to the birth center on time, not having to deal much with traffic whatsoever. Grace! Grace! Grace!
We pulled into the parking lot at 8am on the dot, shortly after the midwives arrived, and made our way to the room. Less than 10 minutes later, my mom arrived to take little man to the waiting room for a bit to play with their blocks. Grace!
I was able to joke through the contractions and make the midwives laugh a few times before it was game-time, which came MUCH sooner than I had anticipated.
The contractions intensified very quickly, so much so that I didn’t even want to lie and relax in the giant Jacuzzi tub that was just filled up for me. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was ready to push soon and hold that precious little peanut.
Not really knowing what position would be most comfortable for me because I didn’t have much time to decide, I made my way to the bed and laid down on my left side. Paul knelt by the bedside and held my hands and I used them to brace myself through each contraction. Before they got too close together, he asked if I wanted to listen to some music on his phone. I immediately said, “The Undoing by Steffany Gretzinger.”
God’s peace filled the room. Again, I could tangibly feel God’s grace.
When I could, I sang and hummed along and looked into Paul’s eyes and told him how much I loved him. It was an absolutely beautiful moment with him, something so completely different than what we experienced with Isaiah’s birth that left us dealing with much anxiety and trauma in the weeks following.
In an instant, all of that was redeemed. Grace!
We really were such a great team together. Team Massey!
When the contractions became pretty unbearable, I found myself making an “O” sound to get through them. It really was the only thing that seemed to help me stay focused through the pain.
The midwives were so encouraging through it all, and kept reminding me that I was almost there and that I was doing such an awesome job.
It was very quickly time to push, so I made my way up to my knees and braced my arms around Paul’s shoulders. He told me later that I almost made him pass out when I accidentally had him in the sleeper hold! Hahahaha! Funny, but not funny for him, I’m sure!
Then suddenly, when I didn’t think I could take another second, at 9:40am (yes, that’s right, an hour and 40 minutes after we arrived at the birth center) they told me to pick up my baby who entered the world.
The birth center’s 1,000th birth, might I add…so cool!
“We did it, we did it!” I said with joy filling my lungs. Sooooooooooo….much GRACE!!!!!
I scooped up Mr. Jameson, discovering he had a head full of brown hair like his momma (Yay!), and said “You’re a slippery lil’ fella!” making the whole room laugh once again.
Just four hours later, were discharged from the birth center, both momma and baby healthy and thriving. It was so nice to be able to head home and start our life together as a family of 4. On the trip home, both boys were snoozing and stayed down for naps for a couple more hours for us. Grace!
A miracle, really!
The whole day was just perfect.
I’m really still in awe of it and just how good God is to us. He truly is a redeemer and a giver of good gifts.
So here I am, almost 5 weeks postpartum, and signs of postpartum depression/anxiety/rage or insomnia are no where to be found! Praise God! My milk supply has been overflowing, and we have no need of formula supplementation like we had to do with Isaiah. And thanks to an awesome lactation consultant that we saw 2 weeks postpartum, I am able to have success with breastfeeding this time around. A major answer to prayer that just ties the whole experience together with so much GRACE!
I’m so thankful for God’s grace, my friends. It is truly all-sufficient and is carrying me through this new season of motherhood in such a beautiful way. It doesn’t mean everything is easy by any means, because along with the demands and responsibilities that come with caring for a newborn, we surely have had some tough toddler days as Isaiah goes through some mega emotional development right now (ah meltdowns!), but God’s grace is my ever-present help to see me through it all.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Corinthians 12:9, ESV).
And this momma will gladly boast in my frailty because Jesus’ gracious strength is so much better than my own.
Expecting: What will be birthed through me in 2018?
January 5, 2018
January 4th, 2018.
4 days into the new year. How’s 2018 going so far for you?
For me, it seems like I am finally finding time to write down goals/dreams and be still to listen with more clarity to what God wants to do in and through me this year.
Some people use the end of the year to reflect upon the past year and look forward to what is ahead when the clock strikes midnight on December 31st.
I’d like to say that I had ample time to do some mega reflecting, soul searching, and waiting on the Lord for direction and vision for 2018 at the end of December, but like so many other people because of the rush of the holiday season, my life was pretty full, frantic, and fast-paced for much of the month of December.
Aside from birthday celebrations, my wedding anniversary, Christmas, and New Years, (and oh yeah, GROWING A HUMAN!), December truly was just the culmination of much hard work for probably 6 months, especially regarding completing tons of writing deadlines, serving on a team at the Gateway House of Prayer as a singer, and one specific Kingdom assignment- writing, producing, and directing a Christmas production for my church! Although that assignment is now complete, I know there is still much Kingdom work to do that God is calling me to!
All of this was a huge change of pace for me, considering I was in a “season of rest” and “pressing pause” on many responsibilities for like…um…2.5 years!
Instead of merely reflecting on 2017, God really has been highlighting a period of time where He had to intervene before the train completely derailed, and I ended up in a padded room somewhere.
No, instead of focusing on 2017, I feel like I need to reflect and give God glory for this last extended season of the soul because I am truly no longer the same woman.
I sit here and also reflect upon the fact that I am about to give birth to my second child within the next month, after months and months of growth and development of a life inside of me, experiencing a change in my appetite and a major change in the way I walk.
Just like my second baby boy that is about to be born soon, I believe God is going to “birth” something through me this year that has taken more preparation, growth, and change in me than a mere 40 weeks, I can tell you that much…how about a spiritual pregnancy that has probably lasted over 3 years!
Ironically enough, all of this preparation, growth, and change in appetite and change in my walk started when my son was born, on October 11th, 2014- the day I became a mom.
Because I thought that I could go on with “life as usual,” I was seriously shaken by the fact that life would never be the same, that I would never be the same.
Things that I thought I had overcome reared its ugly head and began taunting me.
Rejection. Depression. Anxiety. Fits of anger and rage.
Just a few months into motherhood, I heard God whisper that I needed to learn how to “just be,” but it was so completely foreign to me that I just kept trying to run full speed ahead (especially regarding the many leadership hats I wore at my church, my writing ministry, and the release and promotion of my book in 2015- radio and TV interviews and networking with ministry leaders filling up my schedule and my focus). I was seriously running on fumes from utter stress and mega sleep deprivation (because my son refused to sleep until I was holding him or laying next to him), and then trying to get high off of the fumes from my accomplishments and productivity, thinking that (and coffee) would fix everything.
It all caught up to me, and I started to severely struggle in my physical and mental health in ways that I never had before.
More anxiety. More depression. More panic attacks. Weird physical symptoms like restless leg syndrome, insomnia, chronic ulcers in my mouth, and eventually an irregular cycle that would lead to a chemical pregnancy later on.
I felt like the air was being sucked from my lungs.
I felt so completely broken, but I would have no choice but to continue to stand on the promise that God would bring restoration to my life!
Little did I know that I wouldn’t see that promise start to come to fruition for another 2 years…in 2017!
Within that span of time, God told us to sell our house and move back to the county, step down from ALL leadership at our church home of 4.5 years and transition us and prepare our hearts into searching for a new church home (which all sadly came with much wounds from rejection and abandonment from ministry friends- but praise be to God for healing this area of our hearts over time), all while completely deconstructing every single Christian ideology/theology Paul and I stood upon in our marriage. We truly learned (and are continuing to learn) why we believed what we believed for the first time in either of our lives, immersing ourselves in the scriptures for ourselves and not clinging to what our upbringing, our pastor, or TV preacher told us was truth.
We became like the Bereans discussed in Acts 17:
The brothers[b] immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so (10-11, ESV).
In January 2016, after months of wrestling with all of these changes and realizing many doors were going to stay closed for me for a long time, I finally embraced the call the “just be” and rest. I finally surrendered to God as He stripped me of any title that I tried to find my identity in.
So much happened in me from January 2016 into Spring 2017. I learned how to simply be “Beloved” and “Daughter,” and learned how to find my rest in God alone.
It was from that place of rest that I would eventually find healing and restoration- physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually- truly learning how to become a vessel for God’s glory- spirit, soul, and body.
That process did not come without resistance and struggle though, and there would be countless opportunities to become discouraged, as we began dealing with Isaiah’s nightly wakings again- every night, 3-5 times a night for almost six months, all while I was trying to serve on a night-watch prayer team for two 10 week terms back to back, and hold down a part-time retail job in customer service at the height of the holiday season. Yep, all of that will definitely try your faith!
But we held onto HOPE the best we could!
Eventually, we experienced such great breakthrough with Isaiah’s sleep because of our church community’s willingness to stand with us in intense prayer…for that I will be forever thankful!
Then on Resurrection Sunday 2017, I realized God had been so faithful to bring restoration and resurrection life in so many areas of my life. That morning, one of my pastors approached me during soundcheck on my first Sunday leading worship at our new church home (after not standing in that role for a year and a half by that point) and told me that the Lord had put me on his heart recently during prayer and kept hearing the word “restoration.”
“Does that mean anything to you?” he asked.
Yes, yes it did! He was restoring my joy again, just like He promised!
And the restoration continued throughout 2017:
- Where we had issues conceiving, I found out I was pregnant shortly after Mother’s Day. Timely… 🙂
- God restored my writing and teaching ministry- countless articles written, reaching and encouraging readers from all over the globe that email me constantly, more networking connections made and freelance job opportunities, and being able to continue to lead a group of precious women through the Bible at Diane’s House (Teen Challenge St. Louis).
- God restored and breathed new life into my creative outlets with singing at the House of Prayer here in St. Louis and brought theater back into my life with the assignment of writing and directing the Christmas production.
- God restored the assignment of testifying for Him and sharing more about my book with my church community where my book is given out to visitors for free! More reached for Christ!
- God restored and strengthened relationship after relationship, bringing genuine friendship into my life, as we learned how to encourage and pray for each other in our struggles and trials. I have some of the closest relationships with godly women in my life right now- it seriously overwhelms me with so much JOY to even think about it! An answer to a prayer that I have believed and ask for MANY YEARS!
- God restored and strengthened my marriage on such a deep level as we survived the first 3 years as parents and learned how to always fight to hang onto loving and forgiving each other, no matter how difficult it may get. I don’t know where I would be without the support of my best friend who works so incredibly hard for our family (yay for TWO promotions in ONE YEAR!). Super huuuuuuuuubbbbbssss!!
- God even restored and is restoring relationships within my family that I thought would be impossible to ever see reconciliation.
For over 2 years, all I knew to do was to keep breathing, even though I had to fight for air so many times.
But God gave me my breathe back. The air is back in my lungs, and I can run without growing weary because of how He has taught me to wait and rest upon Him (Isaiah 40: 28-31), one of the hardest lessons I have had to learn to date, let me tell you!
So what does all of this mean for me for 2018? What is going to be birthed through me this year?
Well aside from another baby boy, obviously, I don’t know exactly what will all transpire this year, but I can tell you that I am expectant!
The Lord has already been giving me specific instructions as to what He wants me to focus on this year as He strengthens me and gives me courage to face all that is ahead in this new year and new season (STRENGTH and COURAGE being my words for 2018).
I feel like since 2017 gave me the breath back in my lungs, I have gained the momentum to hit the ground running into 2018. I’m starting this year in wholeness, not brokenness.
Some of you had a really difficult 2017, experiencing so many trials, storms, disappointments, and setbacks. Feeling broken and bruised, your faith really took a beating.
That wasn’t really the case for me this last year.
I don’t share that to rub it in your face, beloved. My faith has definitely taken a beating in the past, and I have experienced those times of trials and storms and disappointments just like what I shared with you in this blog post and through so many other blog posts I have written over the last three years on this journey to restoration.
Those storms, trials, and setbacks are not the end of your story, my friends! Just like they were not the end of mine!
Hope is on the way! Joy is on the way! Peace that passes all understanding is on the way! No matter what, God has good in store for you! Don’t give up, don’t give in! He’s going to turn it all around…just wait and see! He is so incredibly faithful!
I pray that this year, I will be able to continue to lead and encourage many more people as the Lord infuses me with His strength and courage! I want to help you get your breath back so I can see you run alongside of me and help others on their journey to complete wholeness, as we learn to give God all the glory with every fiber of our being!
Blessings to you in this new year! Expect your miracle…expect your breakthrough…expect restoration and healing! Expect, expect, expect!
Bearing Lasting Fruit
December 14, 2017
“You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you” (John 15:16).
In the Spring through the Fall seasons, my husband and I enjoy spending our Saturday mornings taking our son to the local farmer’s market. The whole family truly does try our best to incorporate fruit and veggies in our diet, and this farmer’s market gives us ample options to pack our fridge with fresh produce. During the winter months, the market is closed, so thankfully, we can still purchase our produce at the local grocery store, but the taste of the fruit and veggies at this farmer’s market is just a little fresher in my opinion. Needless to say, I eagerly await the Springtime to get back to our beloved farmer’s market trips.
In John 15, Jesus tells us how he longs for us to bear spiritual fruit. But what happens to our fruit production when we reach a seemingly spiritually barren place, a “winter” season? We will all face “winter” seasons in our lives, but we should never want to stay there or make it a continuous cycle. Difficult seasons in life can actually be a time of growth and maturity in the Lord. In the natural, trees’ roots actually grow down deeper into the earth in the winter time.
If we don’t stay rooted and grounded in God (who is love), we lose our sustaining life and are prone to depression. Instead of yielded to depression, we need to allow our roots in Jesus grow deeper and deeper. We use those times of trial to draw closer to the Lord and drink deep of His goodness and faithfulness. During these dark times, the enemy wants you to dry up and rot- physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. We must remain connected to our life-source, Jesus, the Vine.
Over the course of my life, I have experienced some pretty harsh winter seasons.
Thankfully, I had established a solid “root-system” in the Lord and also surrounded myself with some mighty “oaks” of righteous people. If we are isolated during these times, and are not taking in the proper nutrients from God’s Word, we are in trouble. Being around other trees or fruit bearers is crucial to sustain spiritual health. Their root systems can get “nutrients” to us and their fruit can “feed” us when we are struggling to hang onto the Vine.
No matter our circumstances, we must allow our fruit to ripen or mature, and even when it may seem hopeless, if you are abiding in Jesus, the Vine, you will see abundance once again. Be grateful for the little fruit you do have, but don’t stay there, let the Vine-dresser care for you. He chose you and longs for you to bear fruit, just continue to abide in Him!
Thank You, Lord, for remaining with me through all seasons of my life, even the difficult ones. Help me to continue to abide in the Vine, Christ Jesus, so that I can bear lasting fruit all for Your glory!
Deeper Walk: Galatians 5:22-23
Guest Post- 5 Bible Verses When You Feel Stressed
July 31, 2017
A few weeks ago, Marcus from Psysci.co, reached out to me and asked if he would be able to share some encouragement on emilyrosemassey.com for my readers, especially regarding his expertise in psychology. He decided to write a blog about 5 Bible verses when you are feeling stressed out. Please welcome Marcus!
Whether you consider yourself to be religious or not, Bible verses hold basic humanistic truths that apply to various situations. The following Bible verses are especially comforting in times of stress and remind us that being anxious and worrying about things will do nothing to put you in a better state mentally, physically or spiritually.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” [Philippians 4:6-7, ESV]
This verse is a constant reminder that the peace of God is freely accessible to everyone and can be so easily obtained through a simple prayer devoting your worries to God. To let your requests be made known to God through thanksgiving is a way to humble yourself and realize that God is bigger than any stressful situation that you might be going through. Keeping a gratitude journal is also a great exercise to help you reflect on the things in your life for which you are thankful.
“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” [Psalm 55:22, ESV]
By casting your burden on the Lord, you are transferring anxiety, stress and worry from the shoulders of a mere mortal to the hand of God that can hold an infinite amount of burdens without beckoning under the weight.
“When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.” [Psalm 34:17-19, ESV]
The righteous are afflicted – this notion is not uncommon to the world in which we live. In fact, it forms the basis of every good versus evil battle that is represented in the movies we watch, the books we read, the conversations we have and even the relationships we form with those around us. Heartbreak, affliction, sadness, hurt and other stress-inducing emotions are impartial in the sense that everyone will experience these at some point throughout their lives. This Bible verse offers a glimmer of hope and the promise of the ultimate hero to save us when we are in distress, all through God’s great grace and mercy.
“Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” [Isaiah 40:30-31, ESV]
Often, a state of distress and worry will urge an unhealthy desire to intervene in situations out of our own strength with disastrous results. Patience is a virtue for a reason and by devoting time to praying and hearing God’s voice and His desire for you to be peaceful and achieve success in whatever you do, you are sure to be renewed in spirit. God’s divine intervention is on His perfect timing, not yours – distract yourself from stress by doing exercise, meditating or doing something that you enjoy and trust that God will bring you a new sense of calm.
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” [Matthew 6:34, ESV]
This last Bible verse speaks directly to the crux of stressful situations. There will always be something to worry about but by worrying, you are not adding a single moment to your life – in fact, you’re doing the opposite! The articles found here, here and here detail the effects of stress and worry on both your physical and mental states of health. Focus on one thing at a time to avoid reaching a point of breakdown and take time in your day to address the problems that continually cause stress and anxiety. Be confident in your ability to overcome and remind yourself of these inspiring Bible verses whenever you are stressed.
About the Author: Marcus has a degree in psychology, a master’s degree in health psychology and has worked within the NHS as well as private organisations. Marcus started psysci a psychology and science blog in order to disseminate research into bitesize, meaningful and helpful resources.
Guest Post- The Connection Between Insomnia And Depression
July 5, 2017
Sarah from sleepydeep.com reached out to me a few weeks ago asking if she would be able to submit a guest blog post for emilyrosemassey.com regarding sleeping problems and depression. Since I have experiences with these issues and have shared a lot on my blog how insomnia and depression has affected my life, I was extremely excited to have Sarah share! Please welcome Sarah!
The Connection Between Insomnia And Depression
We all have had sleepless nights. We’ve all had dips in our emotional state. Insomnia and depression are different from your run of the mill all-nighter or post break up blues. They are actual psychological disorders. You may have heard that a symptom of depression is sleeping a lot, and you heard that correctly. But did you realize that there is actually a correlation between insomnia and depression?
Insomnia is a serious sleep disorder that negatively affects your life. WebMD defines insomnia as: “a sleep disorder that is characterized by difficulty falling and/or staying asleep.” A study performed by the University of North Texas on the Epidemiology of insomnia, depression, and anxiety found that people with insomnia are 10x more likely to develop depression.
When you have insomnia, you might feel tired but are unable to settle down and go to sleep. Trying to sleep when you want to, but can’t, can be mind-numbingly frustrating. I personally believe it’s best to just get out of bed and do something else. You aren’t doing yourself any favors by lying in bed in the dark anyway. You might as well get up and drink some tea or read an uplifting book. Try to do a relaxing activity to get your mind off how badly you need to rest before you have to get up early the next morning.
The Vicious Cycle of Insomnia and Depression
Insomnia and depression can become a vicious cycle that is hard to break out of; each causing the effects of the other to worsen. To say that a lack of sleep can have negative effects on your mood is barely scratching the surface. Not to mention that when you have a mood disorder such as depression, this in turn, can have a negative effects on your natural sleeping rhythm.
Feeling down for a prolonged period of time can have detrimental effects on all of your daily activities. An unfortunate symptom of depression causes us to have racing negative thoughts. These are bombarding us constantly at night while we’re trying to lay down and fall asleep. Even though we’re exhausted this can severely inhibit our sleeping patterns.
Racing Thoughts Make For An Uncomfortable Bed
I know that when I went through a bout of depression a few years ago, I began to procrastinate going to bed at night. I dreaded the thought of being trapped alone with these racing thoughts in the dark quiet of my room. I would distract myself with television or play games and surf the web on my tablet before bed. The blue light emitted from these devices causes your brain to halt the process of producing melatonin, the hormone that tells your mind and body it is time to sleep.
Poor Sleep = Poor Performance
Insomnia may cause you to sleep late and miss out on the morning time; which can be a great time of day to sit in quiet meditation or a quick morning workout to get your endorphins pumping. It’s hard to feel good about yourself if you don’t get out of bed until 12 noon every day. If you are waking up too late and missing work or your appointments, this can add to the list of frustrations and grievances you have with yourself, contributing to this self-sabotaging cycle of insomnia and depression.
REM Sleep Promotes Optimal Mental Health
At night, we go through different stages of sleep, it has become common knowledge that when we dream, we are in our deepest stage of REM sleep (rapid eye movement). Anecdotally, it is believed that dreaming can help our subconscious mind deal with our daily reality, helping us to sort through some of our depression without us having to do anything at all, but simply go to sleep.
In a research study on Depression and sleep: pathophysiology and treatment, doctors found that REM sleep helps to increase your brain’s functional release of serotonin and other “feel-good” hormones. Anti-depressants are thought to work by inhibiting your brain’s serotonin reuptake receptors. So, if you can regulate your serotonin levels by getting quality deep sleep, then all the better, right?
This Too, Shall Pass
Although both depression and insomnia are serious disorders of the mind, it is helpful to note that it won’t last forever. However you choose to deal with your depression, make sure you have someone to talk to. Even if it’s just a supportive internet forum, sharing your thoughts and feelings in a safe environment makes a huge difference. If this advice seems cliché that is because clichés, like sarcasm, have a ring of truth to them.
Disclaimer – I am not saying that if you cure your insomnia, your symptoms of depression will automatically be cured. Please make sure you always talk with your physician and therapist about new decisions, and never stop taking your medication without speaking to your doctor first.
Have you ever battled with depression or insomnia? Did you ever correlate the two together or did you, like me, believe these were separate entities? Do you think that this information will help you to manage your emotional state going forward, making high quality rest a priority?