Get Unstuck

Today is my mom’s birthday. She would have been 65 today. And she has been gone 21 years now, which just seems impossible. I remember the year after she passed away, but it’s like looking through thick fog when I think back to that year. I had twin 5 month old baby boys, we had just moved back to Northfield and were living in my parent’s basement, Andrew was commuting an hour to work, my dad was drinking heavily, and life was being turned upside down. My mom, one of my best friends and one of the strongest people on the planet had succumbed to cancer.

Because we were living with my parents and my dad was less than helpful, I found myself in the role of care giver to my mom AND to two babies. I was a new mom, trying to figure it all out and doubting my abilities greatly. On top of that I had no idea how to care for a seriously sick person. I tried to be strong, hold it all together, but really everything was falling apart.

I remember one instance where I was in the basement trying to get my babies down for a nap. I suddenly heard above me my mom throwing up. I went upstairs to try to take care of her and found her lying on the couch in misery. She looked awful and I just burst into tears. I sat next to her on the floor, talking to her through my sobs, trying to be the comforter and ending up being comforted by her. She was always like that.

After she passed away, I read her journals. She had written about that day. She shared how I had come to her crying and how she tried to comfort me. She wrote how I was trying to be supermom and she wanted to encourage me but just felt so sick she didn’t have the energy to.

I needed her so much in those days. And she wasn’t able to be there for me. I wasn’t really able to be there for her either. We were just kind of struggling along beside each other, both worried about so much and just trying to hang on.

That year following her death was horrible, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually for me. I was so angry at God I couldn’t talk to Him for a long time. I was depressed and grieving and who ever really knows how to grieve!

I made a choice in that year to not stay in that yuck. I found a counselor and by God’s grace she had lost her mom in a similar way. She helped me so much. She let me cry and talk and rage and cry some more. And somehow in the midst of that I started to talk to God again. And guess what, He was still as ever present as He’d ever been and His love was abundant.

I can’t say I’ll ever completely get over her death. I still say it’s unfair and she was too young. I still say she’d love all these grandkids and be the best Oma. But it’s okay too. I can also say I trust God in the midst of the unknowns.

Are you stuck? Are you living in yuck from your past? Are you unable to get past it and use it as excuses for why you are the way you are now?

I want you to hear this truth. You don’t have to stay there!

Find a counselor! Talk to God and spend time with Him. Put in the effort to work through the hard and the yuck, even if it seems too painful to bear. It’s so worth it on the other side. I don’t live in that yuck anymore. I don’t respond from that hurt anymore. I can live my life to the fullest and enjoy it all because I worked through that really really tough stuff.

You can too! Trust me. It’s not easy but it is possible.

I remember my mom taking such good care of herself. She spent time with God. And I don’t mean reading a devotional that gives you one verse of scripture and then paragraphs of someone else’s thoughts. I mean really spend time with Him – read His Word, ponder it and pray over it.

She spent time gardening and reading because she loved those things and they brought her joy. Don’t tell yourself you don’t have time because you have too many kids or other things to do. It’s so important to do the things you love too and show your family that that’s an important part of life.

She also walked an hour or more a day. Move your body! Exercise! There’s nothing that combats depression better than moving and getting into nature where God is unfiltered! She ate healthy too, although she was known to drive down the street to the nearest grocery store and buy a bag of Doritoes, lay on the couch, read, and eat the entire bag! My sister and I always knew that bag was off limits! It’s all about balance, right?!

My mom died just before her 44th birthday. Those things she did to take care of herself didn’t give her a long life. There’s no guarantee for that. But the life she did live was full, vibrant, and full of joy. And when it came time to meet Jesus, she was ready.

It might seem overwhelming to get unstuck but just start with one thing. Maybe you need to commit to finding a counselor first and let the other things come later. Pray about it and let God lead you. Just do it – get unstuck!


I used to do this. I don’t know if it’s what a counselor would call it. But it goes like this.

A friend or relative approaches you with something. Maybe you’re child acts hurtfully toward their child. And they come to tell you. In the outside you act like it’s ok, maybe even thank them for letting you know.

But in the inside. Well, you start to spiral. You let your thoughts run wild. They must not like my kid. They must think I’m a horrible mom. They just said that to push us away. They don’t want to be friends with me.

The list goes on. Suddenly a week or two later you’ve convinced yourself they are no longer your friend and you have anxiety just thinking about possibly seeing them again.

Ever been there? Maybe you do it so often you don’t even realize you do it anymore. Maybe it’s just a natural cycle in your mind you’ve even convinced yourself that thought process is truthful.

It’s not. Please, take a moment and truly and honestly assess your thoughts. Do it daily. The Lord knew we’d do this.

He spoke to us through Paul in 2 Corinthians 10 about this very thing. “Take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

It’s not easy at first, believe me. You’ve been ingrained in a bad habit for a long time and there’s going to be a battle to get out of it. I remember having this battle.

At first it seems like every few minutes you have to assess your thoughts and take them captive. What does that mean? Well, for me it meant telling myself to stop thinking that thought and then actively replacing it with truth. It meant having a lost of verses written out in my kitchen, my bathroom, and by my bed. I’d have to take the thought captive and then read a verse or two and pray over it.

Most of my verses had to do with what God said about me and about who He is.

At first it may feel line you’re losing the battle and you might even grow weary. But having verses that talk about victory and keeping the end goal in mind of having a healthier mental state helps a lot.

When you spiral like that and let yourself do it, you’ll find you’ll lost friends, not because they actually don’t want to be your friend, but because you push them away with your negative thoughts. You create in your mind a huge problem when it’s really very small and would possibly require prayer or a quick conversation with that person.

Remember too, that you are in control of your thoughts. They don’t have to control you. And don’t use those spiraling thoughts as an excuse to run away from healthy conflict and conversation. Your relationships can actually be healthier and deeper if you are willing to admit you spiral and try to battle against it. More than likely your friends will want to know this struggle and will pray over you and with you! Instead of being isolated, you can find yourself in healthier, stronger community!

It’s all easier said than done, but it’s not impossible. Nothing is, with Jesus!

Happy New Year!

January, 2023.

I wrote that this morning in my journal and, boy, did it strike me! How in the world did we get to 2023?!

Like you, I’ve seen almost every kind of New Year’s resolution on social media – weight loss, getting in shape, eating healthier, spending time more wisely, getting out of debt. The list goes on.

But what I haven’t seen a lot of is improving mental and emotional health. Maybe because it isn’t an easy topic, maybe because people don’t know what to do about it, maybe because it feels to hard to work on.

But I believe it is so so important. More important than physical health or monetary security or a cleaner house. Those things can’t even really happen unless a person’s mental and emotional health are secure. But how does a person get there? What do you even begin with?

Well, for me personally, when I dealt with deep depression, the first step was just being honest with myself. Easy to say, really difficult to do. Because you have to face your own pain and insecurity, your own short comings, and your own past. It’s painful and no one really wants to go there .

But, the other side is so much more beautiful and wonderful and life giving. It’s worth it!

It looks different for everyone and we all need different things to heal, but here’s what I found for myself.

First I had to ask some hard questions. Am I too focused on the negative? How do I focus more on the positive? What got me to this place? Do I have some things in my past I need to face and deal with? Who and what am I blaming and what do I need to take responsibility for instead? Am I seeing what others do through a wrong perspective? Am I taking things personally that aren’t actually directed at me?

You have to sit with these a while. You can’t just quickly assess and move on. Sit and ponder and wonder. And be honest with yourself.

If you can’t get through these hard questions on your own, find a good counselor. There’s really good ones out there and it’s worth the time you put in! Don’t say you don’t have time to take care of yourself. If you don’t take care of yourself, I can guarantee you’re not doing a good job taking care of your family. And, more than likely, you’re passing your behaviors, wrong perspective, and bad attitude to your family.

I saw a counselor for quite a while when I was struggling and it helped so much to gain weapons for the battle. It helped to talk things out with an objective observer who could call me out on my wrong perspectives and attitudes and help me correct them. It’s not weakness to see a counselor. It shows courage and strength.

The other big resolution I think we need to see more of is spending time with God. This, above all else, will change your life. But I want to point out a very false movement I’ve seen over the last few years.

There’s this trend to encourage people to spend time in God’s Word, yet push this idea that a few minutes a day is all you need. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are days when all I have is a few minutes. But really that’s not going to change your life.

If you’re resolution is to lose weight, would five minutes on the treadmill change you? If your resolution is to be more wise with your money will skipping Caribou once a month change your pocketbook? Does your health get better because you sign up for a membership at the gym or because you spend time there?

I have seen this trend in churches and I think it’s extremely harmful. You can’t spend five minutes a day in God’s Word and the two hours a day on social media and expect a change. You can’t just read “the verse of the day” and see transformation.

Just like spending time with a counselor when it’s needed, it’s takes just that…time. And effort. And work. And diligence.

You have to make a choice either way. Will I sit stuck in the yuck? Or will I do the hard work so I see life-giving transformation?

I have much more to say on this, so tune in again. For now, start by being willing to be honest with yourself and spending time with God. Good time.

Get a beautiful Bible, journal, and colorful pens if it encourages you to spend time in God’s Word!