26 June 2015

Suffering in Silence

My Struggle With Panic Attacks

The panic attacks started towards the end of high school.  I was your typical over achiever with a lot of things on my plate between being involved in plays, clubs, AP classes, choir, not to mention issues at home, and I wasn't a talker.  I was a stuffer.  All my emotions, worries, feelings, stresses, I kept to myself.  I had lots of friends, and several best friends, but because of my home life and my other stressors... I didn't feel people wanted to hear about those things.  I preferred to keep my problems a secret.

It was a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach and the bottom of my throat.  All of the sudden I wouldn't be able to breathe.  I would get anxious, and I would just want to scream or cry and at one point just fall to my knees.  I would work myself to exhaustion.  I would go go go and not take time to just sit and rest and think about things.  I have always preferred to keep a high paced life.  I'm not one to sleep in, or sip my coffee, or mope about the house.  The minute I'm up, the race begins.

The worries, and stresses of life didn't go away.  It got so bad during my senior year that I finally sought help with a guidance counselor.  She sat me down and very calmly but matter of factly stated, "Kristi, you just had a panic attack."  I remember her reaching into her small fridge in her office and grabbing me a mini water.  As I sat there and drank it down, it was the first time I felt relief.  I was ready to stop running.  I was ready to start opening up and talking about the things at home that were bothering me.  And I was thankful that this woman had a name for what I was feeling.

I sat there and we talked.  I explained some issues I was facing at home, and she listened.  I told her how alone and overwhelmed I felt.  I told her I was often angry and anxious and didn't know why. She recommend some support groups... I never took her up on that offer.  But later in college I did see a counselor often to talk.  It helped a lot.

My panic attacks stopped after that.  I thought they were gone for good.  And actually I even forgot about them and my struggle with them...until I became a mom.  And once I had Amelia...our fourth...they started coming much more frequently.   Between the crazy move, and the fourth kid, and homeschooling, managing a home, cooking meals, cleaning, being involved at church...I just really lost it.  There were times I pictured myself not being here anymore.  I really struggled with doing it all and being everything to everyone.  I lost who I was, what my purpose was, and I felt everything starting to slip out of my hands...and I was sinking, down, down, down in quick sand, and no one, not even John could help me.  I was here all alone with these 4 children.  And I just couldn't keep up.

And then as if matters couldn't get any worse, a panic attack would hit me head on.  It would happen before guests would arrive, or after dinner time when trying to bathe 4 kids, and pick up the house, and keep the peace seemed like the most daunting task ever. I.  Can't.  Do. This.  I would text John that line frequently.  The attacks got really bad during January, February, and March.  We all got the flu, one by one, and while I'm bringing kids to the doctors for ear infections, and nursing a newborn, and feeling sick myself, I just wondered what more I could take.

Anxiety is one of the worst feelings because how do you explain to a friend that you feel like you're falling apart or you would rather not be here when you should be happy?  I mean what do I have to complain about?  I have an awesome husband, a big house, 4 beautiful and healthy kids, come on lady, suck it up and get with the program, right?  Who am I to complain?  I'm tough! I'm super woman!  No.  I'm not.  I'm just a human trying to make it.  So I didn't tell anyone.  This is the first time I'm even writing about it.  Yes, I say it's hard having four kids all the time, but I often don't say just how hard it really is.

So, how did I get to grips with these attacks?  Well, first I realized they were hormonal.  They usually happened right around my cycle.  And that was very eye opening for me although I should've known that it would be that simple.  I also needed to tell someone I was struggling with them, so back in February/March I opened up to my prayer warrior friend Debi.  I was praying for her and her cancer journey and I felt close enough to share with her what I was going through.  I have to say it was very humbling and made me feel very vulnerable to tell her I was struggling with feeling so out of sorts.  She even mentioned she was surprised because I make having four kids look so easy, but we all know that appearances are not always what they seem.

Knowing that Debi, and two other special prayer warriors in our group were praying for me really did encourage me that I wasn't alone.  It also forced me to talk about it more with John and to pray about it on my own.

I wish I could say I haven't had an attack for several months.  But the truth is I still occasionally get them.  I think as a perfectionist (my pride always gets the best of me) it will always be a struggle of mine.  I want things to go a certain way and look a certain way, and life with 6 of us under a roof isn't meant to be quiet, calm, or perfect.  Life is messy.  Life is chaotic.  And life is noisy.  (My three pet pieves.  

A verse that I always cling to is Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

I will always cling to God.  In the good moments I cling to Him because He has blessed me, and in the scary moments I can cling to Him when I am afraid.  He is such a good God because He is always there.  I am not ever alone.  During the winter months especially I started to get depressed being indoors.  I just wanted to get out of the house!  It was so cold!  It kept snowing!  I was getting so impatient.  But God was right there with me, encouraging me along the way.  I had to learn too, that I can't rely on people.  I need to put Him first and go to Him first.  God is my strength.  He helps me and upholds me when I can't do it and when I can do it, it is because He is helping me!  I don't have to be super woman because I serve an extraordinary-super God.  

Breaking the silence and talking about my panic attacks isn't easy.  I had to admit that I don't have it all together.  I do struggle day to day.  I have good days and bad days.  But it sure feels good to talk about it finally and to share.  I know I am not alone.  So many of us suffer in silence instead of sharing our stories.  And our stories are so powerful because God has made us in His image and we all have a purpose.  If I have learned anything from my home life it is that it is never good to suffer in silence.  We are meant to connect with people and cling to our creator!

This post was inspired by my friend Christa Cordova.  She encouraged a group of us to blog about each of our unique stories of how God works through our struggles and redeems our circumstances.  #notfinefriday


21 June 2015

Father's Day...everyday

Father of the Year

No matter what John puts his mind to, his heart and body are there 100%.

John has been an amazing Dad from the moment we found out we were pregnant with Julia.  Actually even before we got pregnant with Julia I had a glimpse at just how wonderful he would be because he always put me first.  He always did things with me and my needs in consideration and we all know that once you have kids it's not about you anymore it's about their needs.

John is faithful.

I trust John with my life.  He is always there for me.  He is always doing his best.  He is trust worthy and honest and we can count on him.  He faithfully goes to work.  He provides for all of our needs.  He is helping others in our community and he is someone I look up to.  He is involved with more than just his own personal needs and life.  He is constantly looking to God to mold him and shape him into the man God wants him to be.  And because of his faith in God he is faithful in the responsibilities God has set before him.

John is hard working.

John has 3 jobs.  He works in the city as a financial advisor, he owns a Taekwondo school, AND he's a dad/husband!  He's amazing.  How he balances it all is only by the grace of Jesus.  I know there are times he feels overwhelmed and stressed and I know it is during  those moments that I need to help him to relax and feel like I have his back and support all that he does outside of the home.   I love the role model he is for our kids because they know that since Daddy works so hard, Mommy is able to stay home full time and be available to them.

John is compassionate.

If you have never met John you wouldn't know this from pictures or stories, but if you've met him you would hear it in his voice.  You would see it on his face.  You would just sense that he cares deeply, loves deeply, and is just aware of people in a very tender and special way.  He is really just the best.  He puts others first.  He truly looks out for his fellow man.  Jesus has given him a special heart for others.

John is gentle.

I see this when I watch John hold our babies.  I love seeing him kiss boo boos and wrap injured fingers with band aids.  I adore watching him talk to Amelia our 9 month old and making the bigger kids laugh.  He is such a gentle Dad.  He loves his children and he tells them and lets them know it.  He never has to raise his voice because they are so aware of him.

John is reliable.

If John tells the kids he is taking them to work; he does it.  If he says he is coming to their recital; he shows up.  If he says he is buying them a new bike; he buys it.  He is always proving to me and the kids that his word is reliable.  And because of how reliable he is we trust him completely.  

On any given day the children tell me how much they miss him...especially Mondays.  After a full weekend of Daddy time...Mondays are the hardest for all of us to adjust to.  John is such a beloved Dad and I can't blame the kids for missing him so much because honestly I miss him just as much as the kids do.  When they say, "Mom, I miss Daddy, when is he coming home?"  I reply, "I miss him too."

We are so fortunate to have a hard working Daddy that makes time for us when he gets home.  Thank goodness for long bus rides back to NJ from the city because by the time he gets home he has decompressed enough to face 4 happy kids eager to tell him all about their day.

There is one thing about John that has never changed from day one.  He always comes home and kisses all of us.  It's one of my favorite parts of the day to see him greet all of the kids and to watch how excited they are to see him.  Even Miss Amelia who is only 9 1/2 months old wiggles and kicks with excitement when she sees John set foot in the door... she knows Daddy is home...she knows he is part of our team....she knows our unit is complete.  And she is just as happy and excited that he is there.

Dads are so vital and so special in every family.  I am so thankful I have John to help me when I need it, to balance me out when I am stressed or overwhelmed, to make me laugh when I need to loosen up, and to comfort me when I am scared or upset.  He truly makes being a Mom easy because I know I have my team mate there to help me.

Happy Father's Day honey!  I couldn't do half of what I do without you!  We are so lucky to have such an honorable and sweet, and amazing Daddy like you!  We love you!


15 June 2015

I Married a S.A.M.U.R.A.I.

 I Married a S.A.M.U.R.A.I.!

By John McInerney

No, Kristi does not have a martial arts background like her husband.  However, one thing that simply struck me the other day was that my wife perfectly fits the criteria for living a samurai life.  One of our favorite movies is The Last Samurai.  Tom Cruise has a quote that greatly reminds me of my wife:
“They are an intriguing people. From the moment they wake they devote themselves to the perfection of whatever they pursue. I have never seem such discipline.”

In the movie it is clear that the samurai are unlike anyone he has ever met.  They are a mysterious and captivating people with a beautiful approach and philosophy towards life.  They live their lives with the utmost intensity.  My wife certainly matches this description.  I have never met a woman like my beloved Kristi.
My wife is a…

Servant at heart.  The word “samurai” literally means, “to serve.”  My wife has a wonderful servant’s heart and I love watching her bless others with it.  I have always been impressed with her awareness of needs and her timing in meeting those needs.  As her husband, if I ask for it, it’s done…and its done fast.  Seriously, her nick name is “NASCAR Pit Stop.”   Even in the simple things.  If I am looking in the cabinet and whisper quietly to myself, “oh man, no cookies”, - bam! - the next day there will be cookies in the cabinet.  If a friend is having a difficult time and Kristi knows about it, there is a card in the mail before she hangs up the phone with that person.  (And if I’m not being cheap that day, a small gift as well.)  She loves to host and serve her friends.  There are times that if I were her and had the days she has had, I would simply run to my bed and crash after the kids were in bed.  Samurai’s don’t do that though.  Neither does Kristi.   For example, after she had Amelia, she was just getting on her feet and a friend of hers had a baby days later.  Kristi cooked a meal and drove 40 minutes just to drop it off (alone while I was at work).   She is an amazing servant that cares deeply about those she loves and loves to bless them.

Ambitious.   Samurai’s are ambitious.  They take on challenges.  The bigger the challenge the better.  The purpose of challenges is to make them better samurai.  Ambition welcomes difficulty because it leads to success.  This is my wife.  She is a busy woman.  Some might think too busy, but that stems from the root of her great ambitious nature.  She is not afraid to take on challenges.  She has a baby and a toddler and is able to homeschool two young children, manage our home, her blog, she is a MOPS leader, co-leads our Missional Community, teaches kids Sunday school, leads church women’s retreats, the list is endless.  Her schedule with the children on a weekly basis is amazing.  Not many moms have weekly trips to the library, zoo, farm, liberty science center, gymnastics, etc.  No matter what she does, she goes above and beyond what is expected of her.  
Meticulous.  Samurai’s do everything to perfection.  Every single movement or task is done not just for the purpose of completion, but to bring forth perfection into the world.  In everything they do, they are meticulous.  Typically a stay at home mom tends to be the spouse who cooks the dinners and normally plans it a  day or even two before.  Not my wife.  My wife has quarterly dinner plans that are mapped out for the next 90-day rolling period.  She also knows what each child is wearing for each day of the week, for practically the rest of their lives.  For our children’s birthday parties or graduation she plans everything to the T.  She buys special outfits for anyone’s special day so they feel extraordinary and they look like should be in a J Crew photo shoot. As a teacher she trains our children and plans for their lessons and field trips with great passion.  She is just as hard on them as she is on herself.  She wants everything done properly as samurais do.  “Do not just do it, do it perfectly.”  I love that about her.  

 United:   Samurai were all united by a commitment to a philosophy of bushido or “the way”.  A value system of loyalty, marital arts mastery and honor united them as a people.   Their way of life and their worldview was in a sense their purpose for being.  My wife and I are united by “the way” as well.  However, it is not just a system of morals agreed upon by men, because those values can and do change as men and their ideas change.  We are committed to the unchanging moral law giver, the triune God Himself.   If our marriage is successful in any form or fashion, it is because individually we are committed to God first.  The foundation in our hearts and minds is that we will honor and live for Him and we know we can get through anything together with Him.  I know my wife is united with me in our journey because she is one with Christ through faith.  I trust her first because she is a follower of Jesus and I know she loves Him, and second because she is my wife.  This provides a unity that has divine glue.  When we face the wars of life, it is not our emotional strength that keeps us together, but our commitment to God and His strengthen of us.  

 Respect:   When a samurai passed you, the proper response was to bow.  Respect was vital, or it could cost you your life.  Now Kristi appears to have a kind, upbeat and bubbly type personality, and she does.  However, she can be (this is not a secret, she will tell you) a bit…over sensitive at times.  And man, if disrespected, (as she says), “the black will come out.”  She can turn on you like one of those vampire movies where they look normal but all of sudden their whole face changes and those teeth come out and the viewer is like, “whoa”!).  Kristi is very articulate and will verbally tear you down.  She will let you know about yourself and you will greatly regret it.  I really think she could have been an excellent litigator.  She will tell you how you did it wrong, why you did it wrong, what you did wrong leading up to the offense and then explain the conscious and subconscious thoughts you had while committing the offense against her.  Every word out of her mouth is another nail in your coffin, another shovel full of dirt burying you.  Yes, you will respect her.  I respect her, greatly, and, I think that is a good thing.  In my opinion, some relationships would be much better if there was a healthier balance of a wife being submissive to her husband, and at the same time her husband still respecting his wife.  I respect Kristi.  A lot.  And she deserves it.  I will honestly tell you, a husband is much more fulfilled when in a relationship with a woman he respects.  

  Attractive:  Samurai’s were amazing to look upon.  Their traditional dress and warrior armor were pieces of art, perfectly sculpted to their body with intricate designs.  Their attractive garb communicated clearly their synthesis of beauty and power.  If you did not know by our four children, I think Kristi extremely attractive.  Her manner of dress is something I greatly admire.  She is most certainly a fashionista, loves clothing, makeup, etc.  However she dresses with a style that intrigues me.  It promotes her beauty yet does not communicate the wrong idea.  She dresses beautifully but not sexy even though she is very attractive.  I think our culture and the media for some time now have threaded a great lie into the minds of women to tell them that sexy = beautiful.  This is a lie.  Our culture today says that love = physical intimacy.  This is a lie too. 
Sexy captures a man’s imagination for fulfilling his baser instincts.  Beauty however, captures the imagination for the intimate relationship of beings first, not their bodies.  Attraction to the beauty of a being should always precede physical attraction if a relationship is to be healthy.  Women want to be wanted and loved.  The lie says, “dress sexy because it will make you feel good and wanted at the same time.”  Women have believed this but it actually commutates differently and triggers a man’s mind to its natural interpretation.  Sexy says, “I’m showing you what I want to give you and I’m showing you because I want you to look at me in that way and think thoughts about what I am showing you for as long as you can look at me.”  My Kristi is beautiful in public.  She’s sexy at home with her husband, the only one who should be thinking of her in that way.   I greatly respect this about her.  (And honestly, I think she is so much hotter because of this ☺.  It basically communicates to me, “no, this is not for them to see, this is for you.”  …that’s hotness right there.  That causes a man’s respect of his woman to undergird his attraction to her).

Inspiring:   Samurai’s were the people with the full package in ancient Japan.  They sought the perfection of themselves and their way of life.  This caused them to be the source of inspiration for their country.  I think Kristi is a wonderful inspiration to everyone who knows her.   She is a wonderful friend, a fantastic and creative teacher, and a superb wife.  She is certainly a Proverbs 31 wife.  “An excellent wife who can find?  She is far more precious than jewels.  The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.   She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.”

Thank you my love.  Thank you for loving Christ so much you reflect our creator in our relationship, our home and our community.  You have served me, loved me, made me feel safe in your love, I trust you, I respect you.  You are certainly a Samurai wife.  


08 June 2015

The Graduate (Our Son Mark)

He Crushed Kindergarten

This kid.

If you have ever met Mark you may have thought he was quiet and shy and perhaps a bit clingy to his parents.

But if you stuck around long enough to get to know him, and you gave him just a few minutes to warm up you would have deep theological conversations about God and the trinity, you would learn all there is to know about Star Wars Legos and Ninjago, and you would probably have to watch him ride his new bike around the block.

Mark is an amazingly bright, sensitive, and funny little guy.  I say little because even though he is only 17 months younger than Julia, his 25th Perentile frame is dramatically smaller than our tall 90th percentile daughter.

Mark is like his Dad in many ways.  He loves family time.  Mark enjoys having quality time with his father especially.  I often hear him asking John to play with him after he has just spent hours running around playing with him in the back yard.  He just can't get enough of his Daddy time.  He often asks me, "When is Daddy coming home?" Sometimes even soon after John leaves for work.

Besides Legos, and bike riding, Mark and Micah's new obsession is digging in the back yard for worms. (Yuck)  They come inside with dirt under their nails, grime on their face, and stories of all the other insects they found while digging.  Although it grosses me out it's cute to see the big kids play and explore together.

Let's talk about how Mark crushed Kindergarten.  This kid finished every curriculum and workbook I gave him.  He reads like a second grader and he did oral presentations each week in a 6/7 year old classroom at Classical Conversations this year when he was the only 5 year old present.  He not only memorized a slew of information about grammar, latin, history, science, math and geography but he learned the 50 states and capitals, and learned all the Presidents of the U.S.  This was also our first year taking the Standardized Tests.

In January, I finally switched Mark over to First Grade Saxon Math which he is still working on and will continue through the summer. He is such a hard worker and smart boy.  The only thing he really struggles with is making his bed quickly and keeping his room clean...but we have time to work on that and perfect that skill, and I constantly need to remember he's only 6.

Today is your big day Marky-Mark! We are so proud of you this year!  You are such an amazing Kindergartener!  Next year we will crush First Grade!

Related Posts with Thumbnails