A Dangerous Business

inspiration, mental health, travel, Uncategorized

I knew in my heart it was something I HAD to do. I had to prove to myself that of which I did not know yet as I set out.

But, I knew that I had to travel.

That I had to go.


As we neared the airport, my heart was racing and I felt sick to my stomach.

I was terrified.

And yet, I was ready.

I had prepped myself mentally a thousand times over for this moment . . .

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Lao Tzu

It was time.

We pulled up to the departures gate. My husband had asked me if I wanted him to walk in with me to help me get checked in and to say goodbye to me inside the airport instead of at the curb.

At the last minute, I said, “Let’s say goodbye here.”

He understood. He knows me. And he knew why I had to take this solo journey. I wanted to do it all on my own, from that very first step.

We embraced. There was this urge to beg him to come with me. Or, to change my mind, and not go at all.

But, it set in.

The determination.

The grit.

The grit I had learned that I did have, after facing a battle that required me to find strength within me a couple years prior. A battle of the mind.

And so, after hugging my husband, I felt bravery overtake me. I knew, at this point, I could not and would not be stopped.

As I flew over the Atlantic Ocean, by myself on that plane, my first ever solo journey, I could not help but tremble with fear. I’m not a fan of flying, and I felt on edge the entire nine hours to the first stopping point.

As the plane landed in Madrid, Spain for my three hour layover, I breathed a small sigh of relief.

But, I wasn’t there yet. At my destination.

I remember walking through the Madrid airport, and honestly feeling like I was going to pass out because I was so anxious.

“Just one foot in front of the other. Don’t stop,” I said to myself.

I also kept telling myself, “This is crazy! This is crazy what YOU’RE doing, of all people.”

The negative self-talk had been constant since my battle with postpartum depression, even after being healed from the illness. Going through that and still experiencing elevated anxiety, I had become my own worst critic. I didn’t believe in myself anymore. I saw myself as weak. As a failure. As incapable. I did not view myself as the same as the person standing next to me. I saw myself as “different”. One who couldn’t handle life as easily as those around me . . . or as I had used to handle life . . . “Before”. Before PPD.

That is why. That is why I was traveling across the globe to a foreign place I’d never been. Where I did not know anyone. I was not going to meet up with family or friends, or join a guided tour group. No, I was going alone. To one of the most beautiful and romantic places on earth.

To Italy. To see the red duomo, eat real authentic pizza, to be immersed in all that was foreign, including the language of which I did not speak.

To see. To see the world. And perhaps to see . . . if I was capable.

So, one foot in front of the other. That’s what we’ve all gotta do sometimes. It’s the only thing we can do, in our hardest, most challenging moments.

That last two and a half hour flight from Madrid to Florence, Italy went by quickly. The relief that washed over me when the wheels hit the tarmac was a moment I’ll never forget.

Then, the excitement finally set in.

All the worries, fears, and anxious thoughts left me.

For, I had arrived.

I was in Italy!

I’d always dreamed of and romanticized Italy.

The adrenaline, the indescribable rush that takes over your very being that only those who love travel can understand . . . it coursed through my veins.


I stepped off the plane and walked down the steps and looked in awe around me. I was in Italy. I was breathing the air of a foreign country. I looked at the hillsides and couldn’t believe I was there. I laughed out loud. A huge smile crossed my face as an airline attendant greeted me with a “Ciao!” and I said “Ciao” back (hello and goodbye were basically the only words I knew!)

After getting my suitcase, I felt so giddy as I looked out the window from the back seat of my taxi. It was all so surreal. Where you really feel like you have to pinch yourself to believe it’s real.

I finally arrived at my hotel. It was filled with old world charm, renaissance-like paintings, wood-beamed ceilings and a dark interior, but elegant and filled with cozy charm at the Grand Hotel Baglioni. I was assisted with my luggage by a porter, and I felt like a Queen. My room was small, but cozy and the stained glass window added beauty and character.

I soon went down to explore the hotel to see the lobby and the elegant bar/sitting room. I sat in that stately room with paintings surrounding me and amongst other travelers, wondering where they were from. I knew them not, and we exchanged no words, but I found comfort to be in their company nonetheless.

After sitting there awhile, I went back to my room. The adrenaline was still stirring strong, but then it started to creep in. The “push and pull” feeling . . . the resistance. The knowing what you want to do, but the anxiety pulling you away from it.

When looking out the window of my comfortable hotel room, I saw the people on the streets below carrying umbrellas.

“I don’t want to get out in the rain,” I told myself. I opened the window and heard all the noise. It was busy. Crowded. So many people. The anxiety began to rise.

I had just gotten to Florence! And when you first arrive to any destination, at least for me, all I can do is go out and explore!

But, in that moment, fear and doubt were taking over, and I wanted to stay in my safe hotel room and order room service. “And never get out!” I was thinking, irrationally, to myself.

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” -J.R.R. Tolkien

Thankfully, after a brief phone chat with my husband, a pep talk that I needed and that he’s so good at giving to me whenever I’ve needed it the most . . . I stepped outside the door.

The rain pitter-pattered gently upon my umbrella as I walked on the cobble stones of the ancient city. I was here. I was among the people. Walking amongst these strangers, I was one of them. I was not an outsider looking in. And it was intoxicatingly refreshing.

I felt alive.

There was a contagious energy that ignited again my passion for travel. For being surrounded with NEW. I grow weary if I see the same sights every day. To be where you’ve never been before, there’s nothing like it. The world is yours. At your feet. So much beauty to behold. Too much to take in. I love it!

I did not feel like a foreigner, but I felt one with the people walking next to me. One with the city.

I’ll never forget the moment when I turned the corner, and saw what I had set out to see. I gasped out loud and my jaw dropped, when the maroon-colored Duomo stood majestically in front of me. Its grandeur and great height at which it rose above me literally took my breath away.

It was one of the happiest moments of the entire trip, a picture in my mind that when I close my eyes to this day, I can still see it. And I can feel it.

My next three days in Florence were spent wandering and exploring. Also, meeting up with an old friend and eating gelato together and having fun walking the city. It was refreshing to spend time with her and hear about her and her family’s life living in Italy as ex-pats. I envied her life, living in Bologna, Italy, and just imagined our family moving to Italy one day, too.

But, there were other moments, along the way, where I felt the need to stay stuck inside my hotel room. Where I wanted to be safe. And when I even wanted to come home early, and a phone call where I asked my husband to come meet me in Florence.

Those moments, though, were trumped. By bravery. Courage. Determination. Grit.

By strength.

If I had stayed in my hotel room, my comfort zone . . .

I would never have walked into the solemn, hauntingly beautiful Basilica of Santa Maria Novella. Or tasted the best pizza I’d ever had as I sat at a table with a red and white checker board table cloth, people watching from the piazza. Eaten risotto overlooking the Arno River. Walked across the Ponte Vecchio.

Getting lost, then finding my way.

Encountering mishaps, and getting through them, on my own.

Trying to communicate with people where language was indeed a barrier.

It’s a dangerous business going out your door, sometimes, yes. But it’s even more dangerous staying inside.

Getting lost in your books, dreaming, but never living.


A sedentary life.

A comfortable, safe, boring existence.

Staying inside and never having adventures.

Never expanding your horizons, or your mind. But instead getting lost in your head. I’d rather get lost wandering the cobblestone streets of a city that I can’t even pronounce the name of, than be lost in my own head all day.

We have to push ourselves.

And that’s what this solo journey made me have to do.

At a time when I needed it the most.

For, after all was said and done, this journey forever changed my life.

When the plane landed back at the airport in the States, when I was finally home, the tears streamed down my face. I sat on that plane, not caring if others could see or hear me cry.

I said to myself as the tears fell and I exhaled the biggest sigh of relief, “I did it.”

That was THE moment I’d been waiting for and what I had set out for by traveling to Italy by myself.

I needed that.

My wounded heart, soul, mind, and spirit needed it.

For, I knew, AGAIN, that which I’d forgotten. That which the enemy had been trying to blind my vision . . .

I am strong.

I am not weak.

And, I am . . . quite capable.

“One thing about trains: It doesn’t matter where they’re going. What matters is deciding to get on.” -The Polar Express

A Story

anxiety, christianity, depression, God, inspiration, mental health, postpartum depression

Is there a specific event, a time in your life that you can recall as being very significant?

Perhaps it even has a date with it, a day that when it comes up on the calendar…you remember. It could have been one of the happiest moments, or days in your life. A day that when you reflect back on it, it brings joy to your heart and a smile to your face.

Or, there might be an event that has the opposite effect on you when you remember. The memory of that time brings about negative emotions. Pain, fear, anxiety, trauma, regret, sadness.

This time of year usually brings about mixed emotions for me since going through my own dark, specific event that I’ll never forget. October is a beautiful month where the trees’ leaves change colors and the crisp, cool air brings about an energy with it. It is also one of my favorite months because it is the month that my daughter has her birthday and we celebrate her life and the joy she continues to bring to us.

After October, comes the month of November on the calendar. As the seasons change and the colorful leaves start to fall, for me it sometimes can still trigger painful memories.

I’ll always remember the date for me. November 17, 2014.

It was when I got blindsided by an illness that came out of left field. That I was not prepared for. It was an unwanted diagnoses. Postpartum depression.

It was a time when I was supposed to be my happiest. My daughter, our first baby, was born just one month prior. But I was sick. I was in a dark, scary place in my mind. Depression and anxiety were both playing off each other so well.

The good news to that story is that I got better! God healed me!

When I look back on the almost now past five years, it can bring me to tears. Sometimes I can get so focused on the negative things that happened because of PPD and the challenging journey it has been ever since finding healing years ago. The ways I have felt stuck. Enslaved to fear. Anxiety as my seemingly constant companion.

But…I MUST remind myself…

Look at how far I’ve come! Look at what all I’ve done since that time! What all I’ve overcome, how I have stepped out of my comfort zone countless times?!

THIS is what I need to focus on. It’s so hard for us to see this sometimes, because we are often our worst critic and do not give ourselves credit. We forget to see the beauty and to thank God for all He has done for us.

What event is it for you, that you need to release your grip from? To release to God? To come to peace with the fact that you might not ever know “Why?” Why it happened. But to thank God that you are standing where you are now. Thank Him that your heart is beating. That you are breathing. He has a purpose for you. You made it through, because You Are A Warrior.

Whether you see yourself that way or not…look yourself in the mirror and say those words out loud. “I am a warrior!” Let the tears fall. Let the lies vanish from your mind. Let the walls you’ve built to protect yourself come down. Let TRUTH permeate into the hardest parts of your heart. Let your heart soften to God’s truth. That He LOVES you. That you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

And that dark memory…that date on the calendar that you don’t like to think about?

Know this.

“That’s not my whole story.

That’s a PART of my story.”

PPD is only a chapter in my story. A significant chapter that in many ways changed my life, for the better and in not so many great ways. It left wounds yes, but these invisible scars also remind me. They remind me of the almighty God who longs to rescue us from peril, who shows up to comfort us in our darkest hour.

But that chapter? It Does Not Define Me. It left me feeling crippled, weak and like I had failed after it was all over. It has held me down, held me back, for a long time. I’ve stepped out boldly and grown, and yet in many ways fear still keeps me a prisoner, because of the memories that still pop up from time to time of this traumatic event.

Perhaps I’m realizing, ever so slowly, that PPD does not define me. That’s just a part of my story. God has orchestrated a beautiful life for me from the time His daughter took her first breath.

There’s a purpose for me. I have not just ONE story to tell, but HUNDREDS of stories!

Of feeling God in the whisper of the wind through the pine trees at church camp as a little girl. Hearing him in the whisper of the wind. Of the moment when I met the man that God designed and made just for me, who is now my husband of eight years. Of feeling sheer delight, adrenaline and a bundle of nerves when jumping on the plane as newlyweds and moving across the world to the Land of the Long White Cloud. New Zealand. Of trekking across volcanoes. Standing underneath a waterfall and feeling it wash over my skin. Standing in fields of wildflowers, knowing that my God is a creative artist, and that He loves me. Of watching my daughter being born…hearing her cry for the first time, and the feeling of euphoria and indescribable love wash over my heart.

If you are in a place where you are struggling right now, or feel stuck in an event…please believe and KNOW that there is more to your story. There is More to You.

God ain’t done with me yet, and He ain’t done with you.

So keep on. There’s a beautiful life ahead of you, with HUNDREDS of grand stories for you to tell.


The Wren

anxiety, depression, Faith, inspiration, mental health, postpartum depression, Uncategorized

The wren came to me during my darkest hour.
I was sick.
The sun wasn’t shining.
It was raining.
Clouds covered the heavens.
I was lost.
Lost in terrifying, paralyzing thoughts.
Thoughts I’d never had before.
That were not me.
That rose up within me a feeling that was truly paralyzing me.
I had just given birth to our daughter a month before.
My husband and I’s first child.

So, why did I feel this way?
Where was the elation?
The happiness?
It was like someone had injected poison into my veins.
I was sick.

The postpartum depression was powerful.
It was a living, breathing being.
It truly had a life of its own.
It had become the enemy.
It was my enemy.
Attacking me.
I was fighting back, desperately.
Fighting just to stay alive.
It felt like it was winning.

Every day I would awaken to the sound of black crows.
“Ca caw!! Ca caw!!”
Just before the sun would arise each day,
While darkness filled the sky,
The panic attacks would overtake me.
During those three months, I awoke to a panic attack.
And I awoke to the sound of the enemy outside my window.
The black crow taunting me.
And seeing the buzzards that lived in the dead tree behind the house.

Imagine the fear I had!
The visual imagery.
It was winter.
Everything was dead around me.
The buzzards looked down upon me from the towering, lifeless tree.

I wanted to live, and yet I wanted the suffering to end.

I stood outside that day.
Staring up at the sky.
A break in the clouds.
I saw the sunlight streaming down from heaven.
And then, I heard him.
Faint at first, and then its song reverberated throughout the dark forest.
The melody was the most beautiful sound I’d ever heard.
I couldn’t see the bird.
I didn’t see him for a long time.

Days later, I sat in the living room, feeling especially depressed that particular moment.
I stood up and walked to the back window.
And then, I saw him.
He sat on the red rocking chair on the back porch.
Facing my direction.
We were merely two feet away from one another.
I stood still.
He looked at me.
Our eyes locked and we both stared into each other’s eyes.
This is why I believe in Magic.
This is why I believe in God.
In miracles.
In that moment, I felt like that bird was talking to me.
He was telling me, “It’s going to be okay. You’re going to be okay.”

And then, I found something I’d been searching for.
Hope flooded my heart.
I knew in that moment, that God was with me.
He had not forsaken me.
From that day forward, I kept seeing and hearing that bird.
That bird called a Carolina wren.
It became known as “my wren”.

He made a nest outside my window.
I started hearing the crows less and less.
I’d awaken to the sound of the wren singing his song outside my window.
Singing so loudly.
Scaring away the enemy.
God is in the whisper of the wind,
He’s in the things we deem as “small.”
Like this tiny, little bird that is known for being shy.
My wren was not shy.
He was sent down from heaven to give me hope.
He knew he had to work his magic.
And he had come at just the right time.
When hope had been failing me.

It was still a journey,
But with the Spring came my healing.
At last.

With the Spring came new life.
The wren’s nest outside my window
Now housed a family of tiny, baby wrens.
Life was beginning again.
I was alive.
God had saved me.
He sent me a wren.
Yes, the wren came to me during my darkest hour.

[Photography credit: Tom Mann]

Away From Me

blogger, blogging, christian living, christianity, Faith, God, mental health, Uncategorized

You’ve taken over
I’ve surrendered to you
You crept in.
You invaded.
Now you are in my territory.
My mind.
The white flag I’ve raised to you.

How did you get here?

How could I have let you?
You crossed over the moat.
Neither the river
Nor the iron gates stopped you.

Did I forget to close the gate?

I want my mind back.
My territory.
That’s mine.

I want me back again.
Where did she go?
Where has she gone?

Now you are all I hear.

Blinding me.
Taking me as prisoner. 

Lying to me.

And now I’ve taken the heavy stick
Away from you
And now I use it as a weapon
Against myself.

You’re so conniving.
So smart.
I see your smirk.

You’ve manipulated me.

Now I see myself 
The way you want me to.

You’re laughing.
Laughing as I spiral downward.
As my thoughts take me captive.
Oh, you have me just where you want me!

Stop laughing.
Away from me!
Get thee Away from me, Satan!

God is weeping.

“Get thee Away from her!”
He calls down to you.

Down in the depths
Where you creep,
And where you dwell on earth,
In the hearts and minds of His creation.

“She is my Daughter!
I am her Father!”

And the war wages.

You fight.
You’ve fought so hard.
So well.

You’ve been a strong enemy.

God intervenes.
In His majesty,
Through His creation
He sends down from heaven,
And He fights.
He stands by my side.

He storms into the castle.

His wrath against you
Is a fierce sight to behold.

His roaring rage
Sends you scurrying away.
Like a scared dog,
Whimpering and shivering,
You slither away.

Away from me.
Out of the territory
That never belonged to you.
My mind.
My heart.

I can laugh again.

For I am me Again.

The damage has been done
By the enemy.
But God will Restore.

I am Free.