Meet My Good Friends Anxiety, Depression, Jesus & Myself

Anxiety:

All my life, as far back as I can remember at least, “The Yucky Feeling” has been with me more often than not. As a child, people would tell me “you’re too sensitive”, and I would cry. A lot. I would yell at my mom, say hateful things and feel incredibly guilty all at the same time. I was angry. My environment gave me reasons to be angry.

The first time I remember crying uncontrollably was in the 2nd grade. In Mrs. Morrow’s class, I had my first what I now know to be panic attack. AKA emotion vomit. As soon as I got to school that day, I began to panic and beg for my mom. I cried, no, I bawled in the hallway. My mom ended up coming up to the school to comfort me because I was literally in hysterics. My wonderful 2nd Grade teacher was such a blessing to me during that time. I was messy, goofy and had terrible handwriting…a 2nd Grade teacher’s nightmare. I was a daydreaming, head in the clouds kind of girl. I thought surely I was born into this world to make it a better place, or become a rock star and open for New Kids On The Block. ‘Lots of confidence, and a sassy little attitude to go with it. I was precious. No, seriously, I love that little girl. She inspires me. Quirks and all.

Mrs. Morrow, if you’re reading this, first be proud that I know how to spell “you’re”. 😉 Second, I want you to know how much you meant to me. You were my “At School Mom” and that’s something I’ll never forget. I hope children who suffer from mental illnesses get someone as amazing, patient and loving as you. 😘

My parents had a rocky relationship. As long as I can remember, there was always tension in our home. In some of my earliest memories, I remember being able to pick up on emotions and how to read a room. I learned how to adapt and change who I was to please a person/people. Eventually, I shutout the real Carolyn. Unless I was having a meltdown. Which happened often. That was the real Carolyn crying out for help.

Please jot this down, “Children who seem the most unloveable, need love the most.” I saw this on a Facebook post. It’s so important to love the little stinkers. That’s what I call them. They’re trouble makers, but they’re also clever. They act out, but deep down they’re some of the most compassionate people in the planet. They need a kind person who understands their tiny but beautiful little brains. Who has compassion for them because 9 times out of 10, they’re carrying a major load that isn’t even theirs. Be the adult who cares, loves, and doesn’t judge.

As I grew, “The Yucky Feeling” never really went away. The Yucky Feeling got its name when I was about 8 years old. My mom was driving my sisters and I to our Grossemama and Grandaddy’ house for dinner one evening. It was in the winter or fall because it was pitch black outside. My stomach hurt and I was just plain old nervous. I told my mom I thought I was sick. What she didn’t know was I was actually scared I had a major disease and I was dying.

I was sick, but I wasn’t dying. That day The Yucky Feeling got its name. She asked me if I wanted my Uncle, her brother who’s a doctor, to give me a check up. I immediately declined. NO WAY I’m gonna talk about this out loud, that only made me more upset because I didn’t have the right words to describe it and it made me seem kind of crazy.

So Yucky Feeling AKA Anxiety and I were formally introduced.

Now meet…

Depression:

Depression and I weren’t introduced until my teen years. By 16 I stopped caring. I literally told my mom that if my sister got hit by a bus, I wouldn’t care. I shut my emotions off. By this point in my life, my parents had divorced and remarried. We moved from Austin to East Texas. Lufkin to be exact. I started 8th grade in Lufkin. Lufkin is where my dad grew up. He had friends alllllll over town. He was known as being a bit of a little stinker himself.

We were a happy little family again for almost 2 years before all hell broke loose. Money was tight and the tension was back. My anxiety hung in there with me until I was almost 17. It passed the torch to Depression after my parents divorced again.

Depression didn’t get a name until very recently. It’s crazy how many lies I believed about myself that keep that nasty little cloud hovering over my head. For most of my life I believed I was lazy, ugly, fat, dumb and had nothing to offer this world. I had some hope because of the people I hung out with. For the most part, they were worse off than me. They had children in their families who called their grandparents Mom and Dad. Severe mental illness in their families, secret adoptions, suffered tragic losses like death by suicide, and had children themselves. I had compassion for my friends but the compassion I had for them, had somehow skipped me. I’m learning now about codependency. How I tend to focus more on others to avoid my own pain and issues.

Examples of my depression were so obvious to me now looking back. Some days, I just wouldn’t get up for school. I’d lay in bed and sleep, calculating in my head how many unexcused absences I could have before I’d get Saturday school. Eventually, I stopped caring about that too.

My mom, 2 sisters and I were living in a 2 bedroom apartment and I shared a room with my MOM. Every 16 year old’s dream right? At this point I started skipping school, smoking weed regularly and I unwillingly lost my virginity. I can remember my exact thoughts when it was over. “Well, you’re officially a slut now.” I didn’t really go up from there. I spiraled, dropped out of high school, got kicked out of my house, moved in with a bunch of guys. I was raped by two of my friends. Since I was already a slut in my mind, I also slept with my best friend’s boyfriend. A trend I seemed be starting since it was my OTHER friend’s boyfriend who raped me. I had sex with two different guys the same night and guess what, I got pregnant. Yes, I had no clue who the father was until my beautiful boy was born. By the way, they both bailed.

After my sweet kiddo was born, my depression got deeper and deeper. And The Yucky Feeling” started to return. I started having panic attacks again. I had one in the grocery store parking lot. Couldn’t even make it into the store to get my baby food. I was sure I was going to vomit, but I willed myself through it. I also had a very intense fear of throwing up. I wouldn’t know how bad that would effect me until later. It just became another quirk. I pushed it aside because it was irrational, weird, terrifying and a monster I didn’t want to face.

My baby made me think outside of myself for the first time. I was totally suffering from Post Partum Depression and didn’t even know it. My obstetrician prescribed me an antidepressant and it was just enough to take the edge off, but I definitely needed more.

When I began to realize the obstacles I was going to face, my self confidence began to rapidly decline and I dropped out of community college. I was so ashamed and disappointed in myself. I gave up. For almost a year I stayed in that place. I broke up with my boyfriend and gave all my attention to the one thing that made me smile. My adorable baby.

I loved him, and I knew I couldn’t do this parenting thing alone. I was terrified of screwing him up, of being what my grandparents and family said we’d be. He’d be a bratty kid and I’d be a lazy mom. The only one who had some measure of faith in me was my Dad. Weird, cause before I got pregnant, we weren’t exactly on speaking terms. So, I prayed. I asked for help, said I was scared and was ready to turn it all over to Him and do it His way.

That’s the first time I really met…

Jesus:

Immediately after I prayed, I had a good cry and for the first time in a long time, I didn’t cry myself to sleep. I was still scared, still sad and depressed. But I had hope. Someone to cling on to. I began to stand up for me and my son. I broke it off with a toxic relationship and just had fun with my family.

I got reacquainted with someone I had briefly met before. When I met him the first time, something in my spirit told me he was special. We had an immediate connection and quickly became friends. I told my mom I was going to marry him and we hadn’t even started dating yet. You could just tell he was a good man. An honest person who had integrity. If he said he’d do something, you bet your hind parts he’d do it. He’s still that way today. <Insert heart eyes here.>

I knew what I had to do though. I couldn’t trust myself and I didn’t know if all of this was in my head and I was being stupid again. So I asked Jesus to take it and wanted to know if he was the one. I sobbed but I willingly let go. We’ve been married 17 years now. I think I have my answer.

We’ve been through hell and back together. Jesus gave me such an incredible gift. He fights for me, even when he doesn’t understand what the hell’s going on with me. He asks God for more love for me when I’m being a little stinker. Thankfully those days are now behind us. Whew! Jesus has used this man to show me what he looks like.

Eventually I realized that even those most amazing gift from God would come with flaws. Because he’s human, and he has his precious little quirks too. Our daughter is his clone with the quirks. Which makes me love him even more.

Jesus has shown me its ok to trust again, it’s ok to be vulnerable, authentic. It’s ok to not be ok. He gave me promises that directly combat my anxiety and depression. He has given me life in places that have been dead for years. He has given me so much hope. Some days it’s hard to receive it, but knowing it’ll be there when the depression attacks, and waiting for me when I’m able to reach for it again helps me hang on. He’s provided for our family in incredible ways, tons of Because of Jesus stories. He’s shown me glimpses of my future with him and reignited my passions.

Jesus also introduced my to…

Myself:

It started with a question from Jesus. “What’s Your Favorite Color?” Something I had a script for. “Oh! It’s green. And sometimes blue.” Was my wrote answer. Those were my parent’s favorite colors, so I just agreed. I never even realized I had specific preferences, likes and dislikes. Remember, I can read a room, I got so good at it, it became my identity. So I began to explore and I discovered red is actually my favorite color. Although, blue is also my jam.

Over the last 5 years I’ve been slowly getting to know Carolyn. It wasn’t until the last 3 months that I actually started to like Carolyn. Jesus showed me that my identity was wrapped up in what I do and not who he created me to be. My previous post Jesus Paid it All, All to Him I…? is allllll about that.

Anxiety, Depression, Jesus and myself all showed up together in some extremely hard battles these last 5 years, but each time I become freer, and I gain a piece of myself back. This time he has freed me from guilt, shame, lies, anger, hurt, and judgment which has allowed me to see Carolyn, love Carolyn, and accept Carolyn.

At 16 when I shut my feeling off, I thought that was the best thing to do. It was straight up survival. I literally stopped feeling. The closer I got to Jesus, the more I began to see the holes in my heart and the places where my feelings were off and depriving me of his joy. I asked him to turn them on and over the last 5 years, I have been learning how to feel again. Jesus reminded me of my request to turn them back on. He told me I didn’t need to be scared, but this was a process.

I’ve come to embrace me, all of me. The way my brain tends to feel alllll the feels of anyone anytime. I’ve learned I need medication to manage that. It’s a gift, a powerful one. I’ve learned that when I’m weighed down with my emotions, one way my brain signals me to slow down and pay attention is to demand rest and down time. I now know I need a medication to help that not turn into a major bout of depression. This also happens because he created me to feel deeply. One day, when I’m in heaven and without to limits of this wonderful human body he’s given me, there won’t be a need for any medication. But for now, while I’m still here on this earth, I’m going to take it one day at a time, with Jesus.

I’ve learned to embrace and even appreciate Anxiety and Depression. They’re signals to me that I’m taking on too much. With good counselors and now a Psychiatrist, I am finally starting to climb out of this hole.

If you’re struggling too, please know you too are special and unique. God has a plan for your struggles. Invite him in and let him help you learn how to manage it. Our brains are built to protect us. We need to let our selves know that we are thankful for our beautifully created brains. And that with help from Jesus, we can tell ourselves there’s a friend who’s going to help. He brings hope, help and grace. Nothing is too big for him to handle. DON’T give up! Someone is out there to help you. If you are close to giving up, and/or struggling with negative thoughts, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline tel:1-800-273-8255. It won’t be like this forever.

Where Were You?

Job. Not one of the most encouraging books in the Bible. In fact, at times, it’s just plain ole depressing. But now, this book found in the Old Testament is one of my absolute favorites. Not because of its relate-able suffering, but because of the sovereignty of God revealed within its pages.

My sweet family is finally coming out of one of the hardest seasons of our lives and I can say that Job and I had a lot in common through it all. Although we did not suffer in the exact same ways, the pain, confusion, frustration and desperation we felt mirrored each other almost perfectly. For the first time in my life I felt abandoned by God. Hopeless.

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In two years time, I left a job I loved, lost my beloved grandparents, had surgery, had a physical condition that was bizarre and took several doctors and months to diagnose, fell into a deep depression and suffered with debilitating anxiety and panic attacks that left me completely at the mercy of my family and friends. Just like Job, I found myself asking God “Where are you?!” Begging Him to heal me, give me peace and change my circumstances. I felt abandoned by the One who I thought I could always count on.

I wish I could say He gave me some great miraculous encounter that changed everything in an instant, but that’s not my story. He didn’t do what I wanted Him to do. He didn’t heal like I wanted Him to heal. He didn’t provide like I wanted Him to provide. He did not relieve my symptoms like I wanted Him to relieve them. He didn’t even speak to me the way I was used to hearing His voice. I was ready to throw in the towel, quit Him and this whole Christian thing for good. However, even in this difficult adversity I learned a lesson that will not soon be forgotten about the goodness of God.

Back to my friend Job. The only thing that brought any semblance of peace was remembering what little control I had over my circumstances. I know not being in control actually has the opposite effect on most people, but for me, this truth brought peace. Peace because of the words in Job 38-41. (Click the link for the complete text.) In this passage I was reminded of the power of God. His sovereignty. That no matter what I was going through, the one who laid the Earth’s foundation is the one who DOES have control. The one who tells the lightening where to strike, who set the stars in the sky and calls them each by name (Psalm 147:4). In reading this I was blown away by the power of God, the sheer weight of His glory and strength. The creator of the universe and all within it, is in control. He hasn’t left me, or abandoned me. Just because that’s the way I felt, didn’t mean it was the truth. In fact, He used that passage in Job to speak to me in a new way. I think Job and I got the same message. We didn’t understand the things that we were going through, or the reasons for it all, but God did…and does. And not only does He understand, He’s also patient and compassionate.

My husband and I have never been closer and I have never been more sure of my family’s love for me. In all of the junk that we experienced, we’ve come out stronger, closer to each other and closer to God. Life has seasons. Some good, some great, some bad, and some miserable. That’s part of being in this world. But one thing I know now for sure is that God is sovereign, never forgets and never leaves us alone. God doesn’t work on our time table, or do the things we think are the most important, but He’s still good.

I’m thankful that this season is finally coming to a close, but I’m even more thankful for my new revelation of God. If you are going through a rough season, please be comforted by the fact that you control nothing, but He controls everything. May you have peace knowing that He hears you, sees you and isn’t through with you or your circumstances yet. Remember this, the One who told the sun to split the night open is the same One who hears your cries, and know how many hairs are on your head.

This song brought me so much comfort. I hope you’ll take time to listen and maybe be comforted too. Where Were You? by Ghost Ship

Seasons of Suffering

A new season of Fall is well underway. The first “cold” front has hit and it seems relief from the 100 degree Texas heat is finally in sight. Some are saddened by another summer coming to a close. School is back in session, and the long lazy summer nights and mornings of sleeping in are over. As for me, I’m in more in a celebratory mood. The summer of 2016 has proven to be an especially hard one and I’m ready to close the door and kiss it goodbye! fall

As I mentioned in my previous blog, I’ve been pretty sick for the past four months. I also lost my precious grandmother in July. Relief from my health issue still hasn’t come, and getting over the death of my Grossemama still hurts, but I wanted to share some things I’ve learned form God along the way.

I’ve been lost, hurt and confused more in this last season of my life than any other time. And I thought I’d been through some hard things. The death of a loved one will rattle you like never before. It forces you to think about God, and Heaven in different ways. And if you’re anything like me, I was left with so many questions about God’s goodness and faithfulness, even in death. It’s kind of hard not to when you yourself are dealing with a physical ailment and the answers you’ve received aren’t enough and aren’t bringing relief.

But God promises peace in all occasions. John 16:33 says “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” God’s promise here seemed like a big joke to me when I realized I was dealing with something an antibiotic wasn’t going to take away. Peace was far from me and I was drowning in depression, fear, anxiety and hopelessness. It wasn’t until recently I realized that I was pushing away the peace God was offering me by choosing to not believe the things He said when this first started to happen to me. God promised me that He was going to take care of me, that a full healing was going to come my way, that this was His plan for me to bring back life to my heart and to redeem things that have been lost. He said I had nothing to fear because He is trustworthy.

There’s that word. Something I’m not comfortable with and haven’t been in a while. Trust. Even though He’s proven Himself trustworthy before for so many other things in my life, this one I’ve wrestled with. It just seemed too good to be true…there has to be a catch somewhere right?

(Before I go any further, I want to clarify that this was God’s promise to me in my unique situation. God has something He wants to say to you in your unique situations too, and His promises for you may look different. The only way to know what His promises are for you, is to ask Him for yourself.) 

Trust is a tricky thing with me. And for anyone else out there who has been hurt and had their trust broken, I’m sure it’s a touchy topic for you too. It wasn’t until a great conversation with my sweet husband that I gained the revelation I’ve been looking for. God gave me everything I needed when He first spoke into my situation. “Trust me”. There  is peace in trusting Him! It’s been there the whole time. I realized that I’m not in alignment with Him when I’m not believing what He told me in the first place.

So I decided to repent and ask God, change the way I think. I want to believe He is who He says He is and He’ll do what He says He’ll do. Another thing my husband said to me, “Everyone in this life will have seasons of suffering. But what sets Christians apart is the ability to have joy and peace in the middle of them. God hides joy and peace in every situation and it’s through a relationship with Him that we find them and gain His strength to keep going.”

A prayer for any of you who might find yourself in a season of suffering like I’m in. I pray that God reveals His joy, hope, peace and love to you in it. I pray that you hold on tightly to the promise He has
for you in your situation and that you believe He is who He says He is, and He will do what He said He’ll do. I pray you’ll grow closer to Him and get to know Him in new ways as you walk this out with Him. I pray that you will know and believe in your heart that He never leads you into places where He doesn’t have great things planned for you and new freedoms to claim.  And most of all, I pray you know He is good and you can have peace because He has overcome the world.

 

 

 

 

 

Truly Grateful

Today is the day after Wes’ Gotcha Day. It was 10 years ago that Wes became an official Jackson. Matt and I both know that he was born a Jackson, but it’s been officially on paper since August 8, 2006.

As I looked back at pictures from tha1936413_1187888378175_7614033_nt awesome day, I can’t help but see God’s goodness and faithfulness through the whole process. Looking back, I also see that His goodness and faithfulness didn’t just start there. He began His good and perfect plan way before that day. And while I’m sure He’s still fully invested in this good and perfect plan, there are times when I’m certain He’s forgotten me.

I don’t have time to go into all of the details, but I’ve been struggling with some health issues for a while. It has kept me from driving and has forced me to rearrange my life. Matt has become the grocery shopper, chauffeur for both myself and the kids and housekeeper. I’ve had days where I feel like this thing is gone and before I get back into the swing of things, it comes back.

I’ve been struggling in a land of doubt for quite a while now, and my hopes in fixes for this problem have been smashed one by one. Today seems closer to an answer and an end than any other time, but it has been one crazy ride. I’ve begged God for relief and healing. His answer?…”Not yet.”

I’ve literally screamed out “Not yet?!” over and over again. With your standard “Why me?” and a bunch of other expletives I won’t mention. My walk, faith, security, value and identity have all come into question. I’ve asked Him the hard things like; “Do you hear me?”, “Are you really good?”, “Why won’t you talk to me?”, and “Why have you left me?”. I’ve come to really appreciate the writings of King David in the Psalms. I am just like him! In love with God one minute, and feeling completely angry and abandoned the next.

Unfortunately, I can’t say that I’ve received revelation or answers to all of my questions above, but I have realized, once again, He’s all I have. I no longer question his real-ness. Now I’m walking through His love for me and learning how to see it and receive it…even when it feels like He’s turned His back on me.

This morning as I was praying the Holy Spirit kept pulling my attention away from my words to God and lead me to some old pictures instead. As I was looking through them, my heart got smacked with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. And there it was…God’s faithfulness and love for me. It’s been there the whole time. Since before I could ever walk or talk. He’s been at work on my behalf even when I couldn’t see it. Even when I had Wes and didn’t know how things were going to work out. He had a plan when I thought He abandoned me. And just like He had a plan then, He has a plan now. I am sure that in another 10 years, I will be looking back at pictures from this time in my life and see how His plan was in the works.

I wouldn’t’ be totally honest with you if I didn’t share the thought that crept into my mind not even a split second after the flood of gratitude. Fear…fear that at any moment all of the things I am grateful for could be snatched away or fear of what my life would’ve been without Him. Satan seems to be pretty quick with his attacks these days.

That fear stopped me dead in my tracks and I began to recognize the attack from the enemy.  True gratefulness doesn’t come from the knowledge of what we could lose or what could’ve been. True gratefulness comes from the revelation of our Father’s love for us and receiving His grace. No, I don’t deserve what He has given me. I don’t deserve His good and perfect plan, but He loves me enough to give it to me. To work things out for me on my behalf. And it could have, but didn’t stop with a Ticket to Heaven. His plan was salvation AND some. Jesus so I could be with Him for eternity in Heaven, but also Jesus so I could have a relationship with Him and have a full and abundant life here on this Earth.

Today I pray that you experience true gratitude. I pray you aren’t grateful because of what could’ve been, or because of what you could someday lose, but simply because of what He has chosen to give you. And the fact that has been His plan all along. To love you and provide for you your whole life. Receive that!  Yes, it’s true things would be and could be so much worse without Him, but that’s not the point. He loves you, and that’s what I’m choosing to be grateful for.

And if you’re in the same place as me…flip flopping back and forth between remembering His goodness and feeling alone, I pray He reminds you of His faithfulness for your whole life, like He did for me this morning. I pray you are able to see past your current circumstances and stand firm on His goodness and faithfulness from before. Pray for me as I continue to walk this out and I will continue to pray for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Kid

Warning: Long post, but you have to see the guts to appreciate the glory.

As a little girl I never imagined I’d end up a single mother some day. Pregnant at 18, not knowing who the father was. I never sat down to play Barbies and imagined a car seat in the back of my Barbie Corvette while I pushed it down the sidewalk in front of my house. No, my plans were more typical, go to college, get an awesome job, change the world with my super awesome husband and have a bunch of cute kids.

Even though these were my dreams as a little girl, I wasn’t incredibly shocked that day in August of 1998 when I took a pregnancy test with my friend next to me.

Earlier that day I had been fired from my job and just a few weeks prior to that I had been kicked out of my house. Yep, things were really looking great for me (insert sarcasm here). I could back up and tell you my WHOLE life story, but that’s not necessary. Here’s a snapshot of my life up until I became a pregnant, jobless, homeless and a high school drop-out.

My parents divorced when I was 10, and then remarried when I was 13. We moved from the only town I’d ever called home (Austin, Tx.) and into the country. East Texas to be exact. Bitter isn’t harsh enough to describe how I felt about our move. My parents tried and failed to keep our family together under one roof for more than 3 years, and eventually ended up divorcing in a less than hospitable way. The aftermath was evident in our home.

I should also let you know that my parents are both great people, just not great at the being married to each other part. As with any divorce, deep wounds developed in all of us. On top of that I also carried a creepy burden with me that I could never quite identify. As a kid I referred to it as “the yucky feeling”. It had been with me as long as I could remember and it wasn’t until much later that I discovered its origins. (That will have to wait for a different blog.)

Trying to cope with these wounds and my nemesis “the yucky feeling”, I began to make some pretty bad and bold choices. Skipping school to hang out with my boyfriend(s) became a regular thing and I quickly fell behind in my classes. It wasn’t too long after my first real boyfriend and I broke up that I found myself not caring at all what my future looked like. I moved in with a “friend” of mine at the time and his roommate whom I had been on a couple of dates with.

After a ridiculous amount of alcohol and some other drugs one night, I ended up sleeping with both of them at different times. To say I was at my lowest is an absurd understatement. I’m not here to call their characters into question, but you can imagine the type of crowd I was hanging around with. The level of self respect I had for myself was non-existent.

So, needless to say that day in August when I realized I felt a bit funny, pregnancy wasn’t my first thought, but it wasn’t entirely shocking to me when the two little lines showed up on the test either.

Anyone’s initial response probably would’ve been “OH CRAP!”, but mine was different. My very first thought was, “Finally, someone who will have to love me.” Heartbreaking now when I look back at it, but it makes total sense. I was desperate for love and what my parents, friends and family could offer me wasn’t enough. I had screwed up too royally to ever be loved wholly again, and a baby was my chance at a fresh start. You maybe wondering if I got pregnant on purpose. I can see how someone could come to that conclusion, but the honest answer is, no. This wasn’t what I wanted. Especially for my baby.

The next chain of events seemed to happen as quickly as the news of my pregnancy spread. Both of my friends/roommates/possible baby daddies quickly bailed. My mom allowed me to move back in with her under the stipulation that I would go back and finish high school, and after the baby was born, go to college and or get a job.

As you can imagine, my family was less than thrilled. My mom and I screamed, cried and fought while driving around for hours the day I told her. Abortion came up, as well as adoption. Both of which I knew were not the right choices for me. I started to hear from anyone and everyone who thought it would do me some good to hear their advice. Things like… “This kid is going to ruin your life”, and “This kid is going to turn out to be a brat, and the both of you are going to amount to nothing.”

A quick word of advice for anyone who feels compelled to give their two-cents worth of unsolicited advice to a young pregnant girl…don’t. No, seriously. Don’t. I can guarantee you she’s already scared, and already shaming herself enough for the both of you. Don’t kick her while she’s down. Show her love. Tell her she can do it. God’s given her everything she needs in Him and He’s a good Father who redeems. Tell her nothing’s too bad or too big for Him to handle, and with Him it will all work out and be ok.

And now that “this kid” is officially a senior in high school, I can tell you what I said above is true. You have no idea how many years I’ve beaten myself up and lived in shame. How many years I lived in fear that “this kid” would grow up to be what everyone expected him to be. How the hurtful words of others proclaiming curses over him would keep me up at night worrying that he’d end up like me. Drop out of high school, have a terrible relationship with me and the man that became the only dad he’s ever known, and ended up adopting him and giving him his last name when he was in the 2nd grade.

To the lonely, scared momma who might be doing this alone, can I give you some hope? Ask the One who can love you like other people can’t. No, not even my sweet precious and amazing baby boy gave me the love that I so desperately needed. It didn’t even come from the most amazing husband that has ever walked this planet. I found it when I surrendered to God. When I invited Him in, He gave me a love like I’ve never known before. One that could never be filled by even the most perfect, loving human on Earth. I was created to be loved by Him. When I receive this love, all of the people in my life take their rightful place in my heart and I don’t have to worry about being hurt or unloved ever again. Yes, I will still feel those emotions, but His love will cover, heal and make me whole when I do.

And that’s my prayer for everyone who reads this post. I pray you find His love because it’s not like any other. I pray you surrender your life to Him and invite Him in to heal you and make you whole again. I pray that no matter how low you are or have been, you know that you’re never too far gone for God and He always has a solution and a plan for you. I pray that you have love and compassion when you see someone at their lowest and can see them with the heart of our good Father. I pray you grow closer to Him and that His grace, love and mercy become the words you speak and the actions you do. I pray you find His peace and you see how God can turn “this kid” into one of the best things that’s ever happened to you, just like He did for me.

God of Today

Graduation is right around the corner. Pictures of so many kids I have seen grow up right before my eyes are flooding Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. There’s a small ache in my heart because next year, my baby will be one of the many high school graduate pics flooding your news feeds and I can’t help but ask myself, “Where has the time gone”?

Time never apologizes for moving forward, whether you’re ready or not. It marches on and doesn’t wait for you to catch up. Lately I’ve felt like I’m waiting on pins and needles for something to happen. So much so, that ugly little parasite “anxiety” has started snooping around again. Maybe it’s all of the change that’s coming my way, or maybe not. In just a year, I’ll be one of those mommas posting pics of her baby in a cap and gown! Yikes!

There’s a nervousness lurking around. The kind where I feel like if anything out of the ordinary were to happen (good or bad), I’d throw up. I feel like I’m living on a ledge and I’ve been there a little too long now. That’s not peace, it’s uncertainty. It’s anxiety in pure form and totally exhausting. I don’t want to live there, so I’ve been praying.

This past season of my life, He’s been teaching me how to trust Him for the day. He’s trustworthy for all of my days; past, present and future. After all, He’s the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8). But today He wants me to know Him as a present God. A God that has the future taken care of, and the past covered, and one who wants to meet with me now…today.

I tend to live in the past and the future, totally forgetting to live in the present. Let me explain. If I’m not worrying about tomorrow, I’m beating myself up for mistakes from yesterday. In doing so, I completely miss out on His goodness and faithfulness today. I struggle with believing He’s handled my past, and is handling my future. I can be sure of that though because His love and faithfulness covers ALL, and transcends ALL. Time included.

Because I struggle with trHourglassusting Him in those areas, I spend all of my time in the present fretting and not enjoying what He has for me today. Now it makes sense why time seems to go by so quickly. I’m not living in and enjoying it, I’m living somewhere else!

Today I am going to focus on Him in the here and now. I pray you will too.

I pray you enjoy every single precious minute He’s given you. I pray you receive that He is a God that transcends time. He’s trustworthy for your WHOLE life. I pray you will see His faithfulness in the past, trust His plans for you for the future and receive His provision, love and faithfulness for you today as you read this. I pray you enjoy a full life with Him. A full life that’s possible because He made a way for you before you ever knew you would need it, through His Son. I pray you find peace and rest in His plans for your future, peace and rest knowing He’s covered and redeemed your past. I pray you enjoy today, because He’s here with you…right now. 

More Than a Ticket to Heaven

What are you worth? If you were to be bought today for a price today, what do you think the price tag would read? $1000? $1 million? Maybe yours would say, “Damaged 50% off” or “$10,000 OBO” maybe even “Priceless”. I myself didn’t realize I had an internal measure of self-worth until my loving God pointed it out to me.

While listening to some music on a drive yesterday afternoon, He said to me “You are worthy to receive My glory.” I’ll repeat that again because it’s definitely worth repeating. YOU…(Carolyn Ann Jackson)…are WORTHY to receive MY glory.” As I let this sink in, He began to reveal more and more to me.

The greatest gift of all time, the gift of the death, burial and resurrection of His son Jesus Christ was a gift that I am worthy of. He didn’t send Jesus for garbage, He sent Jesus for treasure.

He didn’t send Jesus for garbage, He sent Jesus for treasure.

It’s not like He said “Ehhh, I guess I can make a way for her. I’ll just squeeze her in riiiiight here.”

No, TREASURE. More like “How can I make a way for this precious girl to spend all of eternity with me?! I know! I’ll send my son!” I’ve always been precious to Him, worthy of Him from the beginning. I am worth Jesus to Him.

If I’m worthy of the greatest gift of all, then why wouldn’t I be worthy of any other good gift He wants to give me? It began with Jesus, but it doesn’t stop there. He proved His goodness once and for all with the cross, but that’s not where it stops. He keeps giving because giving is His nature.

For the longest time, I saw salvation as a ticket to get into Heaven and all of the other good gifts He has for me are to be received there. My ticket to heaven was the best gift of all, how could I ask for more? What I didn’t realize was the ticket was redeemable for not only salvation, which is priceless in and of itself, but the ticket also includes a full life here on this earth. (John 10:10) Today.Admit One

Included in the ticket is rest, provision, and hope. A relationship with the one true God. Grace, mercy, forgiveness and love. It’s not just a pass to enter into the pearly gates, but also for a full life today.

Today I pray you will accept His good gifts along with me. I pray you see that you too are worthy to receive His glory. I pray a prayer of thankfulness for His greatest gift of all in Jesus and His promises for a full life in Him. I thank Him for His kindness, and for the works He is doing in me and in the lives of His people, and that He is faithful to complete them. I am thankful that He never quits, never stops. I am thankful He always provides, always loves, and always brings peace and hope into any and all circumstances. I pray for a fresh revelation of the COMPLETE gift of Jesus, not just a ticket to Heaven, but one that’s redeemable for a lifetime of his love and faithfulness.