It's been a while since I wrote a blog post just telling you where I'm at in the moment. That used to be all I ever wrote about, but being in full time ministry again has kind of put a heavy filter on my writing. I can't write as openly as I used to because my life revolves around church, so I just don't have that kind of freedom anymore. But it's early in the morning, my kids are playing quietly (WHAT) in their room, my chai is still hot, and I'm in the mood to be candid and rambly so whatever.
I'll start with the not so great things. It's been six months since my last panic attack, but I haven't stopped feeling tremors. I get heart palpitations every day because I just haven't learned to manage my stress well. My kids are so intense and loud and they don't get along and it puts me on edge from the second they wake up everyday. I feel like I'm failing them, like I don't know how to parent them. Since pulling Jonah out of school and deciding to homeschool him, my stress has tripled. Not because of him, he's such a good kid, eager to learn and quick to pick up on things. It's just the pressure of having to be the one that makes sure he's learning what he needs to be learning. Is he learning enough? Am I pushing too hard? Am I not pushing enough? Zach loves the idea of homeschooling all of our kids until they graduate, but I'm really hoping we can get him into a magnet school. The public schools in our city are just not for us. They have wonderful teachers and staff, but Jonah was really not doing well and I have to remind myself of that every time I angry text Zach, "WHY DID WE TAKE HIM OUT OF SCHOOL!?". So the stress is real and I'm learning to manage it, and I must be doing a lot better than I was last year because not having panic attacks is seriously the best thing ever. It's nice to wake up everyday and not be surprised that I'm still alive.
Since postpartum depression has made an exit (for the most part - i still have sad days every now and then) and anxiety has become manageable, I've finally had some free space in my brain to want to do things again. I have goals again! I want to write again! I want to be in ministry again! All great things, but it's been frustrating trying to find my place. It's like my life hasn't caught up with my mind yet. I guess I just expected opportunities to fly at me because I'm amazing and have so much to offer (haha) but every time I put myself out there and tried to do something....rejection. I put that in bold because rejection feels like bold font. I was really discouraged for several months. I started feeling the familiar heavy dark cloud pulling me down again and telling me those familiar lies, "You can't do anything. Nobody wants you. You're pathetic." But then I heard someone say something, and I can't remember who said it, or what it was, or maybe I just dreamed it? But whoever it was said, "If you can't find a ministry in your local church to be a part of, create one. If your can't create one, go outside the church and find one." I had never, ever, considered finding a ministry outside of my church. Ever. I've been in ministry literally my entire life (pastor's kid problems) and have never thought to leave the church walls to serve. Sad, I know, but I'm conditioned, ok??
So anyway. I'll try to make this story shorter. I got sick sometime in December and stayed sick until a week ago (not kidding-it's been awful) but in one of those really intense sick weeks, I started watching the show "Lock Up" on Netflix. It's a documentary series about women in prison and I just went IN. I couldn't stop watching the show and somewhere around episode 6, I started feeling a heavy burden for incarcerated women. Years ago, I was asked several times to be a part of prison ministries and always gave a confident "no" because I just didn't feel like I could do anything for them. Their problems were too intense and I was too young, too peppy, too full of excuses, I guess. But watching that show stirred something in me and I started to think about our city. Zach and I are passionate about investing in our community and creating change in our city, on small levels, and doing what we can to help people break cycles of abuse and addiction and, of course, to know how much Jesus loves them. Watching that show and thinking about our city and its drug and gang related problems made me realize that working with women in prison is exactly what I needed to be doing. It's the first time something that totally does not make sense for me really makes sense for me. If that makes sense. So I googled "how to teach writing to women in prison" because I thought that would be a natrual way for me to serve and I found an organization called Voices from Inside. It's a non-profit that teaches writing workshops to women who are incarcerated or in drug recovery programs. I emailed the director, had a phone interview, and spent two eight hour days in training. Now I'm just waiting on my placement! So. Pumped.
The training was phenomenal. It confirmed that working with underprivileged and marginalized people in our city is exactly what God has called me to do right now and it ignited passions in me that I didn't even know were there. I sat in the room with 13 other women, some who were training with me, some that were facilitators already, and I was so inspired by them. I've spent so much time at home, raising my kids, with little connection to the outside except through Facebook and Instagram. All I see on my newsfeed are political opinions and people ranting about the left and the right, telling me why I should hate Donald Trump, or love him, or whatever, but I don't see anybody talking about what they're actually doing except marching or making phone calls. I naively (maybe pridefully) assumed I was the only that believed real change happens on smaller, local levels. You can march on Washington, but if you're not investing in your local community, I don't really put much stock in what you say. Put your work boots on where your heart is. Or something. But in that training room at Smith College, I was surrounded by women who were there to help marginalized women not for what they can get out of it, but for what they can offer. It's probably going to go down as one of the most eye opening and inspirational moments of my life. And I haven't even been inside the jail yet.
That was not a short story. Sorry. I'm just excited about it.
Anyhoo. So that's kind of where I'm at right now. I'm balancing this excitement about what I'm doing outside of my church with the disappointment and frustration of not being able to find my place inside it. I have felt like the walls are up on all sides and I don't blame my church for it. (Although I definitely have spent a lot of time doing that.) I think this is a God blocking my path to get me on the right one kind of thing. It's this awkward stretch of muscles that I haven't used in a long time and I'm not exactly sure what to do with them, but I'm just going to keep stretching. A few months ago I was talking to my mom about some of this stuff and she said, "God's not done with you yet, Kristen. Just be patient." I hate when moms say stuff like that, but she was right. (I hate that too!) I'm finally starting to believe that God's not done with me yet. I'm trying to stop taking rejection so personally and think of every "no" as a "not this". It's hard, but I'm trusting that God has me, just like he always has.
In other news, Jonah turned 6, Anna turned 2, and Zach bought me Nikes for Valentine's Day. Well, really Christmas, but it took him a while to find the right pair, so I got them on Valentine's Day. We're romantic like that. I'm still learning Spanish, so hablame, por favor! Necesito practicar.
And now my kids are demanding cereal, which we're out of, and juice, which we never have, so I'm going to deal with that. Here's a photo of me and three of my long time friends after our Women in the Church chat a few weeks ago because this is the first picture taken of me in a long time where there is life behind my eyes. Also my friends are gorgeous, so that makes me look better. Happy Tuesday, friends!