Breaking Up with Self Pity

It’s taken me ten months to admit the truth to myself — I am drowning in self pity. I haven’t been dipping my toes or gingerly wading in the pools of self pity. No, I have been diving in deep, pouring buckets over my head, in self pity.

I did not mean to end up here; it just sort of happened. Somewhere around month 5 of our NICU stay I began to shower my hurts and shattered dreams and fears with heavy doses of self pity. I would nurse my angry, irrational feelings. After all, I have had a difficult pregnancy. Who wouldn’t feel a little sorry for themselves in this situation? These tiny, seemingly harmless excuses would flutter through my raging brain and heart and without knowing it I was soon bathing in a sea of self pity.

Now, almost three months post- NICU life, I’m still wallowing in it. Why do we have to be the ones to work so hard? Why us? Why me? Why Uriah? The whys and the whines and the wishes eat up hours of time, energy, and emotions. I didn’t really know the extent of my wallowing until this week when Uriah got his (awesome, amazing, incredible) stander and specialized chair.

In one sense I was thrilled to receive equipment that would help his posture and muscle tone but, in a far more honest sense, I looked at my son strapped in the contraption and wanted to cry. Cry in rage because it feels so unfair that we have to go through this. Cry at the injustice of my baby boy not being able to do what others are doing at his age. Cry in frustration over (get this) having another (awesome, amazing, incredible) piece of equipment fill my house and take up precious space. Cry in, I admit, exhaustion because what if I’m not doing enough therapy to help him catch up?

I know my feelings are to be expected; after all, I am only human. But being human isn’t an excuse for living in self pity.

I want to share 5 ways I plan to overcome my habit of wallowing in self pity. This will not be an overnight experience; choosing thanksgiving over pity and joy over grief takes time and practice.

  1. Admit and repent of choosing self pity instead of rejoicing in the Lord always

Humbling myself and agreeing that I have been focusing more on myself and what makes me feel good (pity partying) is the first step to breaking the habit of self pity. Plus, my LORD promises to help those who humble themselves and give grace when in need.

2. Stop repeating the same story over and over and over and over again

It’s so basic. To stop wallowing in self pity I need to stop talking bout what makes me want pity. Instead of focusing on my woes it would be healing to focus on what’s current in my life. Like, instead of telling a friend my horrific birth story, I should spend the time talking about the great milestones Uriah is accomplishing or the hilarious joke Dalton told me or a  yummy recipe I just found.

3. Serve others by becoming interested in their needs and stories

I have become so self-absorbed. Self pity does that. To break my habit I will become more involved in others than in myself. I will ask about their stories. I will take time to pray for their hurts and grievances. I will be active in meeting needs when I am able.

4.  Get a fresh perspective of my situation and find the blessings in every storm

Instead of focusing on how far behind Uriah is I will start focusing on the amazing gains and milestones he has accomplished, the incredible joy he brings us, and the awesome blessings our situation surprises us with every day. Sometimes to break the habit of self pity we have to take a step back, get fresh perspective, and enjoy the blessings that every storm brings.

5. Start over every day

To really conquer the habit of self pity I have to start new every day. I will feel down, I will fall back into self pity, and it’s very possible that I will grouch and grump and whine and complain. But I will start over every day. I will rely on my Lord’s present grace to overcome my habit of focusing on myself.

And I’ll print this powerful (adorable freebie) and place it where I can read its truth every day.

Have you ever experienced a time of self pity? How did you overcome it? And if you are currently in a wallowing season of life would you like some prayer? Leave us a comment below and I’ll do my best to respond and bring it to the Lord in prayer!

Also, follow this Dropbox link to get your own 8.5×11 copy of the cutie above. 🙂

With lots of love, blessing, and coffee,

Frannie

This Time Last Year: Learning About Hydrocephalus

September 8th, 2016 I drove to our high-risk specialist for a twenty-two week check up on Uriah. I remember feeling pretty good about our appointment; it had been at least four weeks since my last emergency room visit where I lost blood and thought, for the third or fourth time, I was miscarrying. Although, to be honest, we had had so many difficult issues in my pregnancy that getting an ultrasound always made me feel slightly uneasy — like, today might be the day I again learn something is wrong.

But we were doing okay; my subchorionic hematomas were disappearing, my misdiagnosed miscarriage was beginning to be a past memory, and we had a closet full of little girl dresses for our daughter. (Since we had been told it was a girl a few weeks prior).

I settled onto the little recliner and let the technician wave her ultrasound wand over my growing belly; we chatted but I could tell something was wrong. Small tears trickled down her face as she tried to remain professional. A sinking feeling settled in but we pushed through the exam. When I told her we we’re expecting a girl and asked for a confirmation I got to experience one of those funny moments when I’m told, “No, it’s a boy; see here?” I laughed to myself because, why shouldn’t the gender be wrong; it had already been a chaotic first pregnancy why not add a little comedy to it? I imagined naming him Isaac for laughter since it was too silly not to laugh.

She left and it took an abnormally long time for our doctor to appear. Again, the sinking feeling filled me. I had seen tears, hadn’t I? Eventually, the specialist arrived and, by the look of his face, I knew I could ask confidently, “Something’s wrong, isn’t it?” He asked me how knew and I commented on his very sweet but teary-eyed tech. He nodded, I asked to get off the recliner and sit in a real chair. Bad news shouldn’t be received while reclining.

Your little boy has a condition called Hydrocephalus. His brain is being compressed. His femurs and thigh bones are measuring short. This often goes hand-in-hand with trisomies. Like Down Syndrome? Yes, or Trisomy 13 or 18; both are incompatible with life. You’re son will need to be born in a specialized NICU by c-section; I recommended delivering early in a hospital in St. Louis. 

What do we do now?

There a number of tests we could take to rule out the possibilities of trisomies but I’ll be honest, they run a risk to the baby and premature labor. I won’t even offer a termination because I think you won’t accept one. You mean an abortion? No, we wouldn’t considerate that. We’ll need to do weekly ultrasounds to keep track of the baby’s head circumference and growth.

I’m not really sure what happened after that; I know I thanked him for his kindness and confidence in our God Who believed all life deserved to be born. I also told him to thank the teary-eyed tech for being so kind.

I scheduled the next appointment, walked to the car, unpeeled a banana and began to cry over that messy breakfast. I cried and I cried. I wanted to call Dalton but he was working and I hate giving him bad news over the phone. I wanted to call Mom but knew I wanted to talk to Dalton before anyone else. So, I called my wonderful friend and husband. The good news is that you’re having a son. The bad news is that there are some problems with his brain and bones. Maybe a Trisomy like Down Syndrome. Can you come home?

The day proceeded slowly; I cried while I drove home. Cried over how unfair it was to receive more bad news. Tears over the thought that my precious baby could be suffering that moment. Fear of the c-section and grief of losing the home birth we wanted. Tears because what did this mean for our little boy? What did a compressed brain mean for his future? What did a Trisomy mean? Could we really be one of those families who experience a child born incompatible with life?

The rest of the afternoon was spent at home with Dalton, who is an amazing comforter. I remember our land-lord showing up to do some painting in the house and Dalton asking him to come back later, we just got some bad news, he said. We chuckled over the gender mix up and ate ice cream, exhaustion filling our hearts.

I talked with our parents; telling them about the dubious medical diagnosis. Mom and Dad worked with some wonderful friends who had a precious daughter with the same diagnosis. They quickly called them and received the amazing love and understanding and practical advice you get from someone who has been in your shoes. Mom and Dad called back and told me about the connection and repeated the hope our friends had given.

And then I went to bed. The day had ended and we had survived. This precious baby boy with difficulties was still growing, still miraculous, and still ours. I’d spend the next few weeks re-writing my new birth plan to include a c-section and NICU two hours away; I’d google Hydrocephalus and then wish I hadn’t. I’d feel moments of pity and grief. I would write this blog post and we would begin to receive countless prayers and love from our friends and family. I would connect with a private Facebook group specifically for those with Hydrocephalus and I would be embraced by an amazing community. I would write this post 8 days after our ultrasound sharing all the blessings God was sending our way.

Little did I know my water would break in 10 days.

It’s amazing to be one year from this event; it feels like yesterday. Maybe that’s because our live’s went on a 9 month pause?

Yet, if given the chance, I would change none of it. Yes, it hurts. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, I still cringe when I think of the memories. And yes, I wish I could make easier on Uriah.

But look at this precious baby. Look at what God has done in his little life. Look at the joy, the fun, the sweetness, and the miracles he has given us. 

I imagine that this time next year the bad memories will hurt a little less and the new ones, the memories we make this year, will be closer to the surface. I want Uriah’s first library visit to be the memory I think of this time next year. I want to remember the friends we’ve grown closer too and the family too. I want to reflect on how adorable and healthy Uriah is and how blessed we are.

I hope my reflecting over the past isn’t turning into a broken record for you, sweet readers. I process life through words and writing and, to be honest, I don’t know if I’ll ever get over the hurt broken dreams bring. So I’m sorry if my reflection bores you; but this is how I work through life’s experiences. This is how I ponder God’s hand and how I move on from the pain and rejoice in the midst of it. I admit I’m still learning to get over the hurts and difficulties  but I thank God for His perfect will and plan for our lives — including all of the pain He’s helped us walk through.

With love, blessings, and coffee, 

Frannie

Dealing with Anxiety: Coffee Series

Dealing with Anxiety @ AuthenticVirtue.com

“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why are thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance. O my God, my soul is cast down within me; therefore I will remember Thee from the land of Jordan … the LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.” Psalm 42:5,6,8

Every once in a while I catch the blues; you know, the Eeyore-like tendency to see the world colored in grey, fearful, and unhappy? And don’t worry, I sometimes felt this way before my time in the hospital.

Read more

Scriptures for the High-Risk Pregnancy

5 Scriptures that Give Peace During a High-Risk Pregnancy @ AuthenticVirtue.com

5 Scriptures that Give Peace During a High-Risk Pregnancy @ AuthenticVirtue.com

Across my medieval hospital desk I have index cards with various Scriptures written across them. I intended these to be read to me while I labored and birthed Uriah in our cozy home, with Dalton next to me, and a trusty midwife helping us along.

Now, the verses bring comfort in another way. My water has been ruptured for 19 days now and this is our 18th in the hospital (with 8 weeks to go, Lord willing!). There have been days when these verses were constantly being browsed over; during the first week especially I needed reminders of God’s goodness, control, and love.

Below are 5 verses which seem to always be finding their way from the plastic, gray drawer and across the fake wooden top of the desk. These are the top 5 verses I have found comfort in during our high-risk pregnancy.

“Because of his strength will I wait upon thee: for God is my defense.” Psalm 59:9

I love this verse; the whole chapter is of David spilling out his woes, fears, and impressions of his enemies, yet, in the end he determines that he will wait on God because He is his defense. Realistically, I don’t have enemies; I’m not being hunted by villains or persecuted by crooked family. But I do have enemies of the heart: fear, doubt, and faithlessness constantly harassing me. Simple, ordinary fears pummel high-risk pregnancy (fear of labor, fear of the unknown medical questions, fear of the worst case scenario). Because the strength of my enemies I will wait on You, LORD God, because You are my defense and so much stronger than the strongest foe I face. 

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, love, and a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

I know that 10 weeks of bed rest is the perfect time to bond with my little, rest, and prepare for the upcoming labor and life to follow. But it is so easy to let the days be consumed with the spirit of fear! I love that God has not only not given us fear but He has given us power, love, and a sound, controlled mind. As Christians, we can literally say to our mental minds, “Is this thought powered by fear? Because, if so, it is not of God and it no longer needs my attention.” We can confidently enjoy God’s gifts of power, love, and a sound mind; we don’t need to be a doormat to fear-filled thoughts.

“And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man [with help] from the LORD.” Genesis 4:1 

I love this verse because it is simply so simple. The very first birth of the entire world was followed by words spoken by a woman who had never before experienced labor, never talked with a doctor, and never even heard the term “breech position.”

And at the end of her experience she said simply, “I have gotten a man from the Lord.” By His kindness, by His great creativeness, by His power, and by His help, she received a man-child.

And guess what, sweet, preggo person? So have you. It’s the very same Lord Who walked with Adam and Eve, Who gave them a child, and Who helped her through labor that is giving you your child.

During my high-risk bed rest, labor and pain, and all the unknown days ahead I want to remember, “I have gotten a man [with help] from the LORD.”

“I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more. My mouth will show forth Thy righteousness and Thy salvation all the day; for I know not the numbers thereof. I will go in the strength of the LORD God: I will make mention of Thy righteousness, even of Thine only. ” Psalm 71:14, 16

This has been one of my go-to verses from the moment we discovered Uriah may have health issues. And once I was admitted to the hospital for an early membrane rupture I again turned to this verse (I was actually repeating it to myself as we drove to the hospital).

Why? Because it gives me purpose. I will hope continually (as in I will keep on hoping when hope seems ridiculous). I will praise You more and more (because You Lord are worthy of praise even in what looks like our tragedy). I will speak of Your righteousness and salvation all day (because these are the only things worth speaking of and there are people in this hospital Who need to know you and the numbers of them are unknowable!). I will go (to bed when I feel restless, to the ultrasound when I don’t want to hear bad news, to get another heparin shot …) in the strength of the LORD. I will make mention of Your righteousness only (because it is this righteousness which makes our lives worth living).

See how deep, how real, and how applicable these words are? They’re life-giving and doable and beautiful.

“All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.” Psalm 25:10

Finally, a last reminder of God’s amazing purpose and kindness in our perfectly imperfect pregnancy. From a human standpoint our pregnancy has looked riddled with “mistakes.” A misdiagnosed miscarriage, a 20 week diagnosis of Hydrocephalus, an early rupture at 24 weeks with a following discovery of Lobar Holoprosensephaly, topped with 10 weeks of hospitalized bed rest and countless unknowns until our little miracle makes his appearance.

From a human viewpoint, it looks bad.

But, sweet people, it is anything but. All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth. All of them. From the moment Uriah Lee was conceived, fashioned in the image of God, and formed with the Creator’s own hands, his path has been covered with God’s mercy and truth.

This isn’t a mistake. This isn’t an oversight. This isn’t a punishment. This isn’t bad. This isn’t the end of the world. This isn’t something to change or even wish away.

This is a path God has given us and it is filled with mercy and truth. Every day is filled with His grace. Every moment I spend in the hospital is overflowing with His goodness. Every hour Uriah remains in my womb is a gift. And every day following his birth, whether hard or easy, healed or disabled, is full of mercy and truth and graciously given by God.

And it’s the same for you, preggo Momma. I don’t know what sort of pregnancy you’re experiencing. I’m not sure if you’ve been labeled high-risk or are experiencing some trauma.

But, God’s Word is true. And every path He lets His people walk … you can guarantee it’s covered with mercy and truth.

What Scriptures brought you comfort during a hard season of your life? Share with us below in the comments — I love hearing from you! 

Love, blessings, and coffee,

Frannie

Encouragement and Coffee Time with Psalm 142

Scripture for the heart and encouragement with AuthenticVirtue.com

“I cried unto the Lord with my voice; with my voice unto the Lord did I make my supplication. I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path.

In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me. I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul. I cried unto thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.

 Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are  Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me.” Psalm 142, KJV

This week’s favorite Psalm was definitely Psalm 142. It was a good week full of quality time with Dalton, sweet friends, an awesome mail day, and a visit with the doctor that gave us a few answers and hope for Uriah’s health. Plus, a whole week without contractions and labor is a huge blessing!

However, there are moments when life feels hard. Preterm labor is a constant unknown when your water has broke. Infection is always a looming possibility. The extremely rare threat of the dreaded pro-clasped cord hangs above my head like a dark, menacing cloud. Then, out of the blue, some conflict arises (and you know how I hate conflict) and I cow and fail to speak up and that brings all sorts of dreaded feelings and issues. To sum it up, life can still feel hard and lonely and full of hurt even when it is full of blessings, light, and life.

When I opened my Bible this morning I cried out, “Oh, Lord, help me!” I’m reading through the Psalms and eventually came across Psalm 142. It’s simple and to the point: sometimes, only the Lord can understand and comfort us. Sometimes, human sympathy and understanding, though there, falls short. Sometimes, all we can do is “show Him our trouble, pour out our complaint, and cry unto the LORD …” We can know that we were heard and understood. The longings and cries of our heart are seen and known.

Isn’t that utterly beautiful?

With love, blessings, renewed hope, and coffee,

Frannie