Monday, March 16, 2015

The Five Reasons Why I Walk

On December 22nd, when my sweet baby girl, Faith, was born too early at 16 weeks, I had been free from anxiety and depression for two and a half years, thanks to the freedom I’d found in Jesus Christ.  I was worried I’d end up back in the pit of depression where I’d spent nearly twenty years of my life. 

So I went to Father God and said, “Lord, I cannot do this.  You’re going to have to do this for me.  Tell me what to do. “

He never disappoints.  He says He’ll carry us and the last three months have more than proved His faithfulness.  He heard me and told me exactly what I needed to do.

“Charyse, you need to walk every single day.”

As usual, He was right.  But why walking?  Why was it exactly what I needed?

I needed a reason to leave the house.  Spending time with friends seven days a week, week in and week out was not a feasible long-term solution.  Putting on clothes and leaving the house to go for a walk every day was.  This kept me from spending days curled up in my pajamas, making myself more and more depressed.

It made me feel happier.  Exercise of any kind produces good endorphins which improve your mood.  For a grieving mama, an improved mood is a lifesaver.

I needed to have purpose.  My baby girl was dead and I needed to find a purpose for myself and I needed her short life to have purpose.  Walking made me feel like I was accomplishing something, even if the only thing I did all day was get a walk in.

I needed to get healthy.  When I got pregnant, I was significantly overweight.  I still am; walking hasn't lost me that much weight as my hormones are just now starting to balance themselves out from pregnancy.  But I needed to help my body regulate itself and I needed a big kick in the pants to get my body on the road to healthy.

Others needed to hear my story.  While I was asking God to get me through a hard time so that I could overcome a tragedy that happened to me, He knew that I am only a small part of His great plan.  Others needed to hear my story because it helped them.  I wasn't just walking for myself and my own health, God told me to walk because through walking I would be able to help others.

Now that I’m feeling healthier and happier, I know that God’s sovereign plan is much bigger and greater than my own.  Through walking, I learned that Faith’s life, short as it may have been, will continue to touch others, so long as I stay faithful to God’s direction to keep walking.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

9 Days of Waiting With the Lord

On December 13th at 15 weeks pregnant, my water broke.  It was two o’clock in the morning and I thought my pregnancy was ending at that moment.  The emergency room had even scheduled a D & C before getting a hold of the OBGYN on call.

But my baby girl had a heartbeat.  The OBGYN said that as long as my baby girl was alive & there was no infection, the pregnancy could proceed.  The chance of Faith surviving until she was viable was about 5%. 

I was sent home to wait and see if my baby would live or die.

Faith lived in my womb for nine more days.  The lessons I learned during those nine days grew me more than the thirty years before them.

I learned that I don’t control anything except the way I react.

No matter what I did, I couldn’t save my baby.  I couldn’t control what happened to her.  All I could control was how I handled what was happening to my baby and to me.  I could react with anger and bitterness, letting it fester inside of me and becoming a bitter, mean human being.  I could react with depression, curling up in a ball and hiding from the world. 

Or I could react with courage and trust, knowing that whatever happens God has a plan, He has only good for me, and I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

The choice is up to me.

I learned the importance of daily time with God.

When my water broke, I hadn’t been spending time reading my Bible.  I hadn’t been spending time in prayer or worship.  I’d been busy doing “Christian” things, like leading a bible study group, teaching in the toddler room, & hosting a women’s Christmas party.  None of those things are bad…but it’s not what God really wanted from me.

God desires relationship with us.  He wants us to read His book, speak to Him in prayer, and listen to Him.  I began praying and reading His Word daily.  God impressed upon my heart to memorize Luke 1:45-47, which is the Scripture I repeated to myself as I delivered my dead baby girl into the world.  God prepared my heart for what He knew was going to happen.  If I hadn’t taken the time to build that foundation with God again, losing Faith would have been much more devastating.

I learned how amazing and important my church family is.

In those nine days, our church family surrounded us with so much love and support.  They visited, prayed, signed up to provide meals, hugged me, cried with me, and laughed with me.  Finding a good church family is so important! 

I learned it is okay to tell God I’m angry.

I was upset.  This was my miracle baby, the baby that was prayed into me.  This was the baby I’d prayed and tried three years to conceive.  I was angry that God would let this happen when I’d waited so long.  A good friend reminded me that God was big enough to handle my anger.

So I talked to Him about it.  I told Him I didn’t like what was happening, that I was scared, and that I wanted my baby to live.  He already knew that.  He listened and He wrapped His arms of love around me.

I learned that prayers are answered.

Maybe not in the way I wanted.  My baby died, despite hundreds of people praying for her.  But when she did die, God was there every step of the way.  He comforted. He placed people and Scripture in my path right when I needed it.  He supplied all my needs.  He reminded me that Faith’s life has a purpose. 

Never, in all my life, have I felt closer to God than in the last two months.  My prayers were answered because He never left me and He has not forsaken me.  He has been my strength.  My help came from the Lord.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Let It Go: Why I Love This Song From Frozen

Some moms might be sick of Frozen…and some days I’d like to join them.  But Idina Menzel singing “Let It Go” will always be inspiring to me.  When I listen to it I’m reminded of the process of letting go of depression.

The snow glows white on the mountain tonight
Not a footprint to be seen
A kingdom of isolation,
And it looks like I'm the queen.

The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside
Couldn't keep it in, heaven knows I tried!
Don't let them in, don't let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don't feel, don't let them know
Well, now they know!

Depression makes you feel isolated.  It feels like a swirling storm is going on inside of you that no one can see.  You’re trying to keep it in but are afraid it will spill out.  Trying to hide depression from others is overwhelming and concealing your feelings makes you feel like you can’t feel anymore.

Let it go, let it go
Can't hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door!
I don't care
What they're going to say
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway!

When God took over my depression and healed me inside, I knew I couldn’t keep my experiences inside anymore.  Instead I quit worrying about whether people would judge me or ridicule me when I spoke about depression and anxiety.  God had healed me and while life is still difficult sometimes, those storms aren’t going to bother me.  I know He is in charge.
Done Worrying About Others' Opinions...Being Silly With My Six Year Old!

It's funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can't get to me at all!
It's time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me I'm free!
I'm never going back,
The past is in the past!

It’s true that the fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all.  I have spent the last two years testing the limits, breaking through, and seeing what I can do.  Now, I disagree that there’s no rules.  I live by God’s rules and by extension the rules of the land in which I abide.  But I’m no longer bound by society’s rules of what’s right or wrong.  And it’s true:  I’m never going back to the world of anxiety and depression, because the past is in the past.  The only purpose my past has served is to share my testimony of healing from God.

Let it go, let it go
And I'll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone!
Here I stand
In the light of day
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway!

I’m rising up with God’s strength, rising up on the wings of eagles.  I’m standing in the light of day, in God’s light.  The storm is raging on around me but God is keeping me in the light.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

4 Ways to Avoid Depression after Miscarriage

When I was a child I started struggling with depression and anxiety.  I fought depression for more than twenty years before receiving healing from the Lord a couple years ago.  When Faith died I knew I couldn't go back in that pit of fear and sadness.  I knew I would grieve and have sad times but the hopeless, helpless sadness of depression was not where I needed to go.

I couldn't go back to that place because I knew God wanted better for me....couldn't because my husband and six year old daughter deserved better from me....couldn't because I wouldn't be able to honor the memory of my baby girl with my life if I wasn't living my life.

So I knew I needed to take steps to prevent falling into anxiety and depression if I was going to make it to the other side of the devastation I was feeling.  I did 4 things to help myself walk through the grief I was feeling.

1.  I walked

I had spent four months pregnant, sick and exhausted followed by an emotionally exhausting second half of December.  My body was worn out and out of shape.  I wasn't physically fit before pregnancy either.  So I started small, but I walked.  You can read about my walking here.

2. I showed up

It would've been really easy to avoid events.  People expected it and were surprised when I came to things.  I didn't miss a Sunday at church after Faith died.  It was difficult and I've shed tears every Sunday at church but they were healing tears because God was healing my heart.  I continued to attend my Sunday night bible study.  I found things to get me out of the house each day.  I planned a brunch for the women at church.  I offered to co-lead a women's bible study on Thursday mornings.  Today I started working in the Toddler room and carried on conversations with two different parents about the babies they were still expecting, due about the same time I was.  Showing up is HARD and emotionally exhausting, especially at first.  But it is worth it.

3. I talked about my baby

I talk to everyone about my baby.  I shared her hand and foot prints, showed pictures of her hands and feet, shared about how beautiful she was, talked about the ultrasound where Faith waved and smiled at us, and shared with others things that made me sad.  Faith is a part of my husband and I, the second child in our family.  We never brought her home but we will never forget her.  To honor her place in our family, we speak about her to others and keep her memory alive.

4. I clung to God

This is the most important thing I've done to avoid depression and anxiety.  I've been reading my bible daily.  I've spent hours and hours in prayer.  Two different bible studies with two different books to read each week...journaling pages and pages of notes about scripture.  If I hadn't clung to God the first three things would never have been successful in helping.  I need God so I can get out the door and walk.  I need God so I can show up to events.  I need God to talk to others about my baby.  I need God so I don't spend all day, every day curled up in bed sleeping and crying.

There have been days I've slept in after struggling with grief in the night.  There are times when I cry on my husband's shoulder.  I don't understand why this happened.  I do know that God is carrying me through this and that I've got to cling to Him and keep on walking, talking, and showing up.  My life and my family depend on it.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Building an Exercise Habit

One foot in front of the other!

After we lost our sweet baby Faith I knew I had to take steps to avoid depression.  I would grieve and have sad times, yes, but depression was something I was determined to avoid.  At my one week appointment, the doctor said I was free to go at my own pace with exercise.  Four days later, on January 2nd, I laced up my tennis shoes and walked out the door.  I took one lap around the block, 0.52 miles.  I was exhausted and it felt pitiful.  But the next day I walked down the road again.  

For fifteen days, I walked that half-mile route.  One day we were out of town so I walked a half-mile near my grandma's house.  Another day, I walked around the events center where my husband was working.  On January 18th, I'd walked fifteen days and missed two.

My inspiration and my sunshine!

On MLK Day, I started walking a mile.  I did that for ten days.  This time I made sure to take my daughter and we walked to the park and back, a nice mile walk.  Not only do I need to be a good role model for her but I need to give her opportunities to get outside, exercise, and play.

Conquering her own fears!

For the last two weeks I added in a set of three strength videos for core, legs, and arms.  These are short videos totaling less than 25 minutes.

Today my family went for a hike.  It was listed as an easy hike in the guidebook but about two-thirds was uphill.  However, the 1.5 mile hike, hills included, was conquered and that hike put my mileage at just over twenty miles!!

What started out as a difficult half mile is now a daily habit that culminated in twenty miles for the month of January.  Put one foot in front of the other and see what you can accomplish in a month!


  • Walked 27 of 31 days
  • Walked 20.16 miles
  • 700 fitness minutes
  • Started at 0.5 mi over 15 min
  • Ended at 1.5 mi over 45 min

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Marriage and Miscarriage

In my life I've known many couples who've lost a child, whether through miscarriage, stillbirth, or the loss of a child (no matter the age) and now my husband and I are walking through our own loss.  Losing a child feels just as difficult no matter how long he or she lived.  We tend to focus on how difficult it is for ourselves and can forget about our spouse in our grief.  I've noticed grief manifest in a marriage in two different ways.

It can drive them apart.  Hiding behind their grief, abstaining from any form of intimacy or physical touch, they wrap grief around them like a blanket and refuse to let their spouse in, creating a wedge in their marriage.

To be honest, I was worried about this kind of grief when our sweet Faith died.  I was afraid of what this loss would do to our marriage.

But God is good.  Our loss, while devastating, did not devastate our marriage.  Clinging to one another both physically and emotionally, we've walked through this loss together.  I have had this strong desire for my husband to be close to me as often as possible right now.

We communicate with one another our feelings about our loss.  We talk about our sadness, we share truths from the Lord, and we discuss what we’re prepared for in regards to the future. 

We've also given one another space to grieve the way we needed.  My husband did not want to hold the baby.  I made sure he knew I understood he needed to do what worked for him.  When Christmas was over, I needed the cheerfulness of the decorations to get me through a few more weeks.  My husband told me I could leave them up as long as I wanted (and as long as the tree stayed mostly green).

If you’re facing the loss of a child, I am so very sorry.  It is truly the worst grief of them all.  But don’t sacrifice your marriage because of your grief.  Try these four things to keep your marriage strong even when you’re not feeling so strong:
  •  Physical Touch:  Hold onto one another.  Really, wrap your arms around your spouse & hold tight.  Touch one another gently with a caress of the face or a squeeze of the hand.  When everything is physically healed, make love to one another.
  • Talk to one another.  If you’re having a hard day, tell your spouse.  If you had a bad dream, share it.  If a Scripture touched your heart, read it aloud.
  • Allow space for your spouse to grieve in his or her own way.  Everyone’s grief looks different.  Even in our own grief, we need to recognize our spouse’s grief will not look the same as our own.
  •  Decide together how best to keep the memory of your child alive.  We have a few ornaments for our Christmas tree right now.  My husband and father planted a tree near the place we buried Faith.  In the future, we will do something more permanent in our own home.  Do what will work for you and your spouse to provide healing for you both.

I pray that you will find healing and peace WITH your spouse as you walk through the loss of your child.  Remember you became ONE on your wedding day.  Hiding yourself away from your other half can have lasting consequences on your marriage.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

When Doing The Dishes Is A Herculean Task

Major confession time:  Today, January 20th, I did the dishes for the first time this year.

Okay, so it’s not QUITE as bad as it sounds.  We have loaded and unloaded the dishwasher with plates, bowls, cups, and silverware as needed in the last twenty days.  However, that handwash?  You know, all the plastic stuff and the pots and pans and the expensive knives and the griddle you cooked French toast on?  Yeah, it’s been piling up on my counters since December 28th.

On December 28th, I did handwash so my kitchen would be clean when my husband’s family came over for an evening of gifts and finger foods.  After they left, the dishes sat.  And sat…and sat. 

Today, while I sat my daughter at the table with various homeschool assignments, I loaded the dishwasher, washed every dish that does not go into the dishwasher, and cleaned all the counters off.  My kitchen looks like someone cares again.

The problem is, for the last four weeks I really didn’t care.  I didn’t like that my kitchen was so messy but I didn’t care enough.  I was too busy trying not to curl up in a ball all day, every day.  When you’re walking through grief, the dishes don’t matter.  Who cares if the frying pan is covered with egg residue because my baby is dead.  The fact that my baby is dead outweighs so much when walking through grief.

As I’m slowly coming to a place where my grief isn’t so strong and my energy is starting to return, I’m able to care again.  I can get the dishes done because I finally have enough strength, both emotionally and physically, to do them.

If there’s something you’re struggling to get done, whether it be dishes, laundry, making the bed, or just putting clothes on each day, remember to give yourself grace.  God spoke to Paul in Second Corinthians 12:  “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Remember His grace is sufficient, you will get through this, and you will get to a day when you can finally do the dishes!

Full Disclosure:  My Christmas decorations are all still up, too.  I wasn’t ready to take them down on January 1st like I usually do…I needed the cheerfulness of Christmas in my house while I was working on my grief.  But I’ve started slowly putting it away.  It should be done before the end of the week, but if it’s not, His grace is sufficient!