Days 8-12: One step forward, two steps back

Wow, what a busy week! I had plans Sunday, watched my nieces all day Monday, worked 12 hours Tuesday and Wednesday, worked this morning, and then did a hundred and one tasks before now. I am currently waiting to drive to Detroit to pick up my boyfriend from the airport so decided this would be a perfect time to catch up on how I’ve been doing. I feel like I did pretty well last week for starting out on this journey and for some reason today and the last couple days I have backtracked a little. I am trying hard to not come under the shame and blame and beating myself up but it’s hard not to when it’s obvious that my skin improved when  picked less! But it just goes to show that that’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m doing this. I knew it would be hard. I knew that I’d fail a few times here and there.

I think I’ve been picking more the last few days because I’ve been busy and not had much time to myself (oh boy, just wait until I have kids…yikes) to unwind and come back to focusing on healing. I’ve just let myself get in the habit of putting my hand up to my face to graze for something to pick at for stress release. Tonight after doing all the things I wanted to get done (which, by the way, I’m super happy about!) I showered and then stood in front of the mirror and was upset by all the impurities and clogged pores and bumps that had shown up (always happens RIGHT when it’s starting to clear too). I just went for it. I found a pore on my nose that had something white right in the middle staring at me. No one would be able to see from a distance but I could see it. That’s what makes it hard is when I can see something even though I know someone from a normal distance wouldn’t be able to see it. I squeezed it, tried to extract it with an extractor and tweezers. I even got out a clothespin to try and pop the middle of it in case it was something beneath the skin layers vs inside a pore. I picked at other bumps and especially the clogged pores around my chin and mouth. That seems to be the worst! Why are these areas always SO hard to extract? They seemed endless. It reminds me of when you pop bubble wrap and how there are so many and you just can’t stop popping them all. In this moment I knew what I was doing. I reminded myself of the things I normally remind myself (Things like “…the enemy trying to mess you up..”, “…no one can see the blemishes from a normal distance…”, “..let it heal on it’s own…”save this for later..” etc. but I couldn’t stop. I just had to keep going until I was satisfied.

I think I must have picked for at least 45 mins if not an hour. My mom called, I was getting text messages but I was zoned into my face. I finally got to a point where there wasn’t really anything else I could squeeze and get something out so I stopped. My face was red and splotchy so I used my rose clay mask which was effective in calming down the inflammation and redness. Just doing this made me feel so much better and hopeful that my skin will once again return to the healing stage and that I will once again get in the healing mindset.

Some differences between last week and this week that could have a correlation:

  • Last week had lots of time to spend in the sun and at the pool- this increases my mood but also tans my skin and dries it out from the chlorine. This week I have not had one time at the pool
  • I have been eating a lot of fast food lately (McDonald’s, Subway, Qdoba, etc. and other random snacks- doritoes and chocolate. This could be causing flare-ups on my skin
  • I have been working non-stop this week including two 12 hr shifts in a row
  • Not been getting as much sleep this week
  • Likely not been drinking water this week as much as last week

 

These can definitely be reasons for why I’ve been breaking out with more bumps and brewing pimples. I try to remind myself that it may not simply be my picking that makes my face like it is. It could be a combination of medical/hormonal, hereditary, diet, sleep, water and me picking. It is most likely a mixture of all of these.

I am getting very sleepy as I write this so I think I will take a nap quickly before going to the airport. I look forward to writing again soon with more updates and pictures.

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Day 6 and 7

Again, I am combining these days! Haha, I’ve been so busy lately and have not had much time. This is a good thing though because it keeps me occupied which keeps me from thinking about my face and picking! I would say yesterday and today have been the best days so far and I hope for it to continue in that pattern. I didn’t wear makeup yesterday (or today) for that matter and went all day yesterday without picking until about 10 pm when I was winding down for the night. Most of my face is healed up except for one spot that’s still working on healing and last night I felt compelled to “help it”. I was able to stop myself (yay!) after a few minutes (versus 20-40 mins which used to be a normal session). This sounds gross but throughout the day, things were flaking off  my face as a way to show they were ready to come off, not me going to extreme lengths ripping, tearing and squeezing into a bloody mess! Yesterday I first noticed there was not much redness (other than my sunburn) or inflammation which is a huge plus! Just identifying the slightest changes encouraged me to keep up the good work.

Today my face is about the same as yesterday. I didn’t pick at all throughout the day up until late tonight (just now). My face felt clear but somewhat itchy earlier but kept reminding myself that it could be a sign of my skin healing. I went to the gym tonight and hit my goal of running 6 miles (training for a half marathon! 🙂 and afterwards I noticed a new bump on the side of my face. This instantly made me anxious since my face has FINALLY cleared up! I was afraid of this happening. I slid my nail across it to see if it would pop (sometimes that’s all it takes) but nothing happened or maybe a little material came out. I went back and forth between leaving it alone and touching it. Finally just now I tried squeezing it and no pus came out but just some clear fluid. The bump still stayed there. I then found another bump above my lip and on my chin. I did not squeeze those but I did squeeze a clogged pore on my chin. During these moments I feel bummed and shameful for possibly messing things up right when they are getting better. I have to remind myself to give myself grace and to realize this is a habit that I’m  breaking. It doesn’t happen overnight where I stop picking completely. It is a process.

The thing I’ve been doing over the last week that could be clearing up my skin:

  • Drinking more water than normal
  • Spending time in the sun and in the pool(both dry out my skin and the sun evens my skin tone making the blemishes less noticeable)
  • Using hydrocolloid bandages every night
  • Using pore strips
  • Alternating exfoliators (neutrogena pore refining withglycolic acid and a green tea blackhead remover)
  • Wearing my skin clearing makeup that has salicylic acid in it
  • Exercising
  • Picking less (YAYYY!!!)

 

I am now suddenly falling asleep so I will try to write tomorrow but I will be busy the next few days/week but I will be continuing to work on this!!! See improved pics below.

Day 5

Day 5. Today has been one of the better days I’ve had in general. I did not wear makeup this morning and I went the entire day up until 9:30 pm without picking. There may have been a minimal amount of brushing off some dead skin but no picking to extreme lengths or bleeding until about an hour ago. I was busy at work and after work being preoccupied with my church family (which always helps a ton). This is a huge accomplishment for not picking without wearing makeup as usually it’s the makeup that stops me from touching my skin. Per usual when I got home around 9:30 pm, I went to the mirror and searched for the impurities and blemishes to “take care of”. I took care of them trying to take special care in not creating a massacre on my face. Once I felt satisfied enough or could stop myself (not sure which happened) I took a shower and used a green tea exfoliating scrub. I got out and went back to the mirror to take care of anything that was missed in the shower/exfoliation. There was rarely any bleeding if so at all. I am happy about this progress! Each time I begin to pick, I try to remind myself that of course it’s going to be hard every single time and I try not to beat myself up about it and this allows me to feel comfortable to stop. I am getting very sleepy so I would keep writing but I think it’s time for me to get ready for bed. Tomorrow I will try to go more in depth about things. 🙂

Days 3 and 4

Hello. Today is Day 4. I did not end up having much time yesterday to write so today will consist of Day 3 AND Day 4. Yesterday I wore makeup to work and felt pretty good! My face was itchy throughout the day for whatever reason. Sometimes when it’s itchy I tend to think there is something in my skin (like pus underneath a scab that needs to be released) but I realized that sometimes the itchiness could be from my skin healing and the skin cells being rejuvenated and healing over a wound. Though I put my hand to my face a few times to itch I did not pick anything…..that is….until after work. It seems as though I can do fine when I’m wearing makeup but once it becomes mid to late in the day I need to wash it off and that’s when I become weak in needing to “groom”/cleanup (ake pick my skin) my face. After work, I needed to run an errand but it turned out that every single place was closed or just was not what I needed (I was trying to find an alteration place for a couple dresses I had bought) so this added to my anxiety. I wasted about an hour driving around and accomplished nothing. I got home, washed my face and then let myself go haywire picking at my skin for a while. I picked all the scabs and found new bumps and pustules to pop. I zoomed in on my chin/mouth area to find several clogged pores which looked like they could be so easy to squeeze out…but… they weren’t easy. Whenever I squeeze these it just causes my skin to become reddened and splotchy, sometimes even skin being sloughed off which then causes scabs. Finally I reached a point where I “just needed to stop”. I am trying to keep in mind that at one point or another I just need to stop in my tracks and that the more I do that the easier it will get. I cannot keep giving into the compulsion of just picking until I feel satisfied (because that is what takes up so much time and in turn causes more damage despite me “feeling” satisfied). So I did. I stopped. I said something out loud like “I’m done. Just stop!” and walked away from the mirror and went on with what else I needed to do . This was hard to do but I did it. Later on when i showered, I used a facial exfoliator and then also a face mask that consists of Vitamin E and Jasmine. I try to do a face mask about 3 times a week in addition to my twice (sometimes more) facial cleansing per day. After doing the mask my face felt much better, softer and not as sore as before. I took some pictures but they still look pretty similar to the first day.

 

Today I woke up and looked in the mirror to see much of the general redness on my face had gone away, praise the Lord! The sores on my face were scabbed over and I tried my hardest not to pick them! Instead I did my normal cleansing routine etc. and went on with my day. I put my bikini on and went to the pool for a few hours hoping the sun and the chlorine from the pool would dry out my skin and cause the scabs to flake off. 10 + years ago I would be at the pool every day in the summer and I remember my skin being extremely clear and dried out! Those were my best skin days. I have been hoping for that to happen again but I’m aware that skin (body in general) is always changing and my skin may not be that easy to manage in that way. A couple scabs have been easy to slough off without much bleeding or inflammation. It seems the sun and chlorine may be working. I’ve been working really hard not to rip off the rest but to use this as an “experiment” to see how my body deals with the blemishes on their own without my intervention. I’m challenging myself by saying to just try it this once and if I don’t like the results then I can go back to picking (knowing that I WILL like the results). I figure anything I can tell myself will help. Yesterday was the worst day so far and today has been pretty good. I’m trying to trust that God can and will heal my skin if I just trust Him. My pictures look fairly the same as Day 1 and 2 so I decided not to post any today. I don’t like the idea of having my face plastered so largely on Facebook every single day! I’m hoping by the end of this week I should have better results to show. 🙂

Happy Independence Day!!

 

Day 2

Hi folks.

Well, it’s now day 2 of my attempt at decreasing/stopping picking at my face. I woke up this morning and briefly scanned my face to “take care” of any imperfections. It did not last long which I am proud of. I put makeup on and went to work and did not pick my face once! I didn’t even have time to go to the bathroom to look at my face to verify that it “looked okay”. I may have reached up to touch it a few times but did not actually pick at anything. I ended up being at work later than I expected which took a dent in my plans to run errands afterwards. This caused me some anxiety (along with being stimulated from just working in general and the need to fix my face afterwards as my usual routine) and when I got home I stood in front of the mirror to fix anything that had accumulated on my face (scabs, dry skin etc.). I then washed my face and picked some more. The whole time I kept reminding myself that this is the point where I need to be strong and that I have all of you keeping me accountable to make this change. I may have picked for about 20 minutes or less before I was able to stop.

I have picked a little off and on since then throughout this evening but it’s been on my mind that this is a process. I have been able to forgive myself after picking vs. shaming myself for doing it. Even though my skin has not quite shown improvement yet (and I didn’t expect it to in just one day) I think my mindset has already.

Here are today’s pictures. I intended to take a picture with my makeup on to show how easily it can be covered up (to some extent) but I didn’t get around to it! I will try again tomorrow.

 

Day 1 of Recovery

Hello all! Here I am again. Whew, it’s been a while since I’ve written. It’s been such a busy summer with work, friends, events, a little traveling (not as much as I’d like 🙂 and relaxing in the sunshine. I have decided to start an intentional series of blogposts that takes you through an upcoming journey. Some of you may know about my struggle with skin picking and acne. Most of you, however, do not know the extent of the severity of it and how it affects my daily life. I have self diagnosed myself with skin picking disorder aka excoriation disorder aka dermatillomania aka obsessive compulsive disorder aka body focused repetitive behavior OCD (as you can tell, it has MANY different names).  The reason I feel that I can diagnose myself with this is because I KNOW how it affects me and do not need an outside person (doctor) to tell me whether or not I have a problem.

I have done the research and fit the criteria:

  1. Recurrent skin picking to the point of causing bleeding and/or lesions
  2. Repeated attempts at decreasing or stopping picking
  3. Skin picking affecting or disrupting my daily life (whether physically, mentally, and or emotionally)
  4. I also had phases of non skin picking compulsions as a young girl that thankfully phased out

…and I’m sure there are more criteria but these are the main ones I have come across.

I feel that it’s time I be vulnerable with the public, friends and family about this issue because I KNOW there has to be more people struggling with the same thing. It is not well known and it’s kept on the down low as people like me are looked as as crazy or freak. I can’t tell you how many times people have said “Just stop picking. Just stop.” Don’t you know I would if I could? How I wish it were that easy to simply stop picking. There is not a lot of information about it out there and there is a lot of gray area regarding what determines when it’s actually considered a problem.

I have been picking my body (mainly mosquito bites on arms and legs) for as long as I can remember and I have been picking my face since puberty/adolescence age when I began to get acne. That is 26 years of picking my body and 14 years of picking my face. How can I just stop something that I have gotten in the habit of doing and that is part of my daily life? That’s like telling a smoker of 14 + years to just stop. I am guilty too of the idea that a smoker should “just stop” (as it’s easy as an outsider to see the damage it causes) so I understand outsiders’ perspective, I do. But telling someone with this disorder to stop does not help but only makes it worse.

Let me let you in on what it’s like to have this disorder. Compared to a lot of stories I’ve researched and pictures I’ve seen, I would say I do have a more mild to moderate form of skin picking disorder. Though we all have different severities, different triggers, means of picking (fingernails, tweezers, extractors, etc.) and lengths of picking, there are many parallels among the root causes of it and how we feel before, during and after picking and the cycle that happens. This may not be an organized way of explaining but it’s ironic because that’s kind of like how it is to be controlled by skin picking- it’s messy, filled with anxiety and frustration; it’s a rollercoaster with lots ups and downs, wins and losses, hopefulness and tears and lots and lots of bloody tissues.

When I wake up in the morning I look in the mirror to find an oily face and my blemishes/lesions from the night before scabbed over. The scabs are crusty and bumpy and there are several of them all over my face. I begin to feel anxiety because I want so badly for my face to be flat, smooth and even throughout. I may fight the urge to pick it but in the morning my mind is still foggy from sleeping and I don’t have the willpower to NOT pick. This causes anxiety and stress and I need some sort of release so I just pick them. I may use my fingernails or I may use tweezers to rip them all off. Most times they bleed and I have to use cold water to stop the bleeding. It hurts and feels sore and my face becomes red and inflamed. Sometimes there are clogged pores underneath the scabs in which I absolutely HAVE to get the gunk out so I use my extractor tool to get it out. I have to stay there until it’s out. Sometimes it takes a while to unclog the pore and usually I find more that are clogged. After each one, I scan my entire face to make sure I have found them all.

When I am working on a scab, blemish or unclogging a pore I am “zoned out”. I am not thinking about the damage I am causing. I am not thinking about stopping. I am not thinking about anything but the fact that I “HAVE” to perfect my face. When I physically peel a scab off or squeeze material out of a pore I feel a release of stress. I feel good. I feel satisfied like I accomplished something. Even though it’s not true, I feel like it’s one step towards a clear/flawless face. What I’m refusing to believe in that moment is that the pore is just going to be clogged again and again and again. What I’m refusing to believe is that the scab is just going to scab over again and again until I let my body heal the way it needs to heal. My  mind automatically thinks, “If I can just pick this one thing. This one whitehead or this one clogged pore, I will be okay.”

Everything on my face is magnified. If I can see it when I’m a half inch from the mirror, that means EVERYONE can see it and will be disgusted by it. If I can see it, it needs to be fixed. What I refuse to believe is that EVERYONE has clogged pores. EVERYONE has a whitehead every once in a while. EVERYONE has blackheads every once in a while. EVERYONE has a scab on their face every once in a while. EVERYONE has SOME type of scar/impurity on their face. But the thing I NEED to realize and that I’m just now beginning to realize is that the majority of the time, you cannot see these flaws when you’re looking at someone from a normal distance. If I left my face alone, it would appear a “clear” face from a normal distance.

This disorder is like a broken record. It’s like beating a dead horse. It’s like trying to accomplish something that’s impossible. It’s like trying to fly or trying to walk on water. It’s a merry-go-round around and around trying to obtain something that doesn’t exist. When I am at work and feel anxious when I have a million things to do and not enough time I will zone out and reach my hand to my face to graze my face for something to pick (which of course I can always find SOMETHING). And I HAVE to finish picking it before I move on. Sometimes I even have to go to the bathroom to settle myself down and stop the bleeding before I continue working. Even when I’m working, I will be thinking about specific areas on my face that NEED to be picked at/that need to be fixed. A lot of times it consumes my mind and my thoughts. Sometimes it’s just the anxious feeling and cycle of thoughts but other times it’s me trying to calm myself down to a state of contentment. I find myself constantly comparing my skin to others or analyzing other’s faces. Sometimes I have positive/encouraging thoughts about stopping or at least reaching contentment but even so, the topic of my skin consumes my mind.

When I get home from work I am usually worked up from the stress and constant interaction with people (I am somewhat of an introvert) from work that I need another release. I become indecisive about what I need to do after I get home and the order it should be done in (Example of the list of things: clean the litter box, do dishes, go grocery shopping/errands, put laundry away). It sounds silly because I am a single person in a one bedroom apartment with my two cats but it’s still a to do list! (I can only imagine what it would be like if I had a family and kids). So what do I do? Head to the bathroom and start picking at my face again until I feel satisfied and can move on to the next thing. I usually have to wash my face for the second time of the day (if not 3rd), and yet again the trash is filled.

Throughout the evening, I make trips to the bathroom multiple times when I feel something on my face that doesn’t belong! (Or so I claim that it doesn’t belong). Before bed I usually go through the same process as after work. When I’ve created a massacre on my face right before bed, this causes me extreme anxiety knowing that in the morning I will face the aftermath and have so much more I have to deal with (inflamed skin, more scabs, dead skin flakes, more brewing pimples, etc.) When I wake up, it starts all over.

I want to reach a point of not even thinking about my face. Many things will prompt me to pick- emotions whether extreme or not. If I’m excited I will pick. If I’m upset I will pick. If I’m bored I will pick. If I’m indecisive I will pick. If I’m overwhelmed I will pick. I will pick for just about any reason. If I feel itchy in a certain area of my face I will pick because it makes me think there is something underneath the scab that needs to be released. If I see bumps no matter how big or small I am convinced there is something underneath and will squeeze it. For the most part, I am correct about there being something in my skin and I feel satisfied when it comes out, although it creates more damage than what it would have been if I had left it alone.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve tried to stop picking or tried remedies to make my skin look better. Here’s a list.

  • Skin products: facial cleansers (containing each salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide) face masks (containing different ingredients) face moisturizers (containing vitamin E and or other ingredients known to help skin), topical/spot treatments, exfoliators, proactive, liquid vitamin E, retinol A, toners, primers, pore strips, peel off face masks, hydrocolloid bandages, steaming my face, professional facials, and many random over the counter products. While some of these have worked for periods of time, my face ultimately breaks out (whether I pick or not)
  • Tanning and sun exposure
  • Changing my diet: decreasing dairy, sugar, and carbohydrate intake and increasing water intake
  • To stop picking, I’ve tried mental processes like writing notes on my mirror, rehearsing justifying explanations in my head, going a full day without looking in the mirror, the rubber band punishment technique, quantifying my blemishes, tallying how many times I’ve stood in front of the mirror, timed myself in front of the mirror, identifying reasons behind picking, keeping my hands busy and more
  • Identified root cause of picking= rejection wounds, anxiety, depression

Some of these have worked, or I should say helped me to get where I am. But many have not worked.

The only thing I have not tried is a dermatologist mainly due to finances but also because I know this is much more than just a skin issue. It’s emotional and something I realize I need to change myself. NO ONE else and no product can make me stop. I have made several attempts and each time been unsuccessful. When I’m wearing makeup and I’m out and about running errands or with friends I don’t think about my skin and I feel like “I can do this! I can quit!” “My skin isn’t that bad and this is the perfect time to quit!” but then as SOON as I get the slightest urge, it’s all over. I HAVE to do it. I have to deal with it. Once I start picking one scab, it’s all or nothing. I tend to fall back into the mindset of “I’ve been doing this for 14 years, what’s one more session or one more day of picking.” Once that urge comes, it consumes me and controls me. It brings me to the point of “zoning out”.

So back to the goal of this blog. I have decided it’s time to make a change. I am so sick and tired of being a slave to this disorder. I am sick of the wasted time. I am sick of the anxious feelings. I am sick of the bloody tissues. I am sick of the wasted thoughts. I am sick of losing out on time that I could be in the Word with God, time that I could be learning guitar and piano, time that I could be studying up on being a better veterinary technician, time that I could be spending learning a new hobby (like being a better cook- haha), time that I could be spending with friends or playing with my cats. I am commanding to be healed from it no matter how hard it’s going to be. It WILL be hard. I will fail a few times before I’m fully healed. I will be fighting urges over and over again. I will have to be UNCOMFORTABLE before change happens. I will have to be disciplined to go against what feels good and natural. I will have to trust in God and my skin to heal without my intervention. I will have to forgive myself over and over again.

Hebrews 10:11 says “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

So here goes, today is considered Day 1 of healing. July 1st, 2018. I have already picked a little today but I have resisted over and over throughout today before I finally picked the scabs I had been wanting to pick and that’s a start. Getting into the habit of resisting the powerful urge is a step. Once I become more familiar with the feeling of resisting, it will gradually get easier. I am writing this blog because I feel that if I make this public and people know about it, it will help to keep me accountable. I will write every day about how I’m doing and even post pictures. It’s hard to make a change by yourself and that’s why accountability is so important. I used to believe I would struggle with this forever and that it’s just part of who I am but that’s a huge lie from the enemy. He wants to keep me where I am and prevent me from freedom and healing. He wants to prevent me from making a difference in myself and others’ lives. He wants to keep me stagnant. It is time to stand firm in what is good and true and rebuke the ways the enemy wants to control me. I can and WILL heal from this.

Thank you for allowing me to share my story and be vulnerable. I hope that at least one person reading this will be feel inspired and stirred in their own life. If you struggle with this same thing or even something else, I would love for you to reach out to me and let’s do this together.

Below are pictures I took throughout today. Some are before picking and some after. The purpose of the pics is for me to see the progress each day or after each week. I will continue blogging this topic until I feel fully healed.

 

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Jesus Come

During my childhood and teenage years, I never realized how much the pain I felt then would still endure into my future. From childhood/family trials up to relationship problems, self- esteem and internal issues, I always wondered what was so wrong with me. I always thought the problem was me.

Me, me, me.

I took the blame for everything. I had to figure it out so that I could fix it. I sometimes still fall into this trap of anxiety and fears leading me to have to “figure myself and everything out.” What did I do wrong? What did I say wrong? Was my approach wrong? Was I not patient enough? Kind enough? Or was I wrong in letting my true feelings and anger show? Am I not pretty enough? Is my body not beautiful enough? Am I nagging too much? Am I not fun enough? Am I not stable enough? Why am I like this? Why am I so emotional? Why do I feel very very joyful but then feel very very depressed? Why does my life feel like a constant roller-coaster every. single. day. when I look at other people who seem to “have it altogether”?

I’m now 26, and I keep learning things. I had a revelation today (one of those that I should KNOW by now but that really does need to be reminded to me) that the problem isn’t me, nor is the problem anyone else. The problem is the human race in general. The problem is the fall that happened in the Garden of Eden to Adam and Eve. The problem is sin. The problem is temptation, addiction, idolatry, filthy and fleeting desires, selfishness, pride, arrogance, greed, depression, hopelessness, control, anger, bitterness, hatred, rage the list goes on. The problem isn’t me or who I am. GOD CREATED ME IN HIS IMAGE. HE CREATED ME PERFECTLY. HE DESIGNED ME TO BECOME MORE LIKE JESUS CHRIST!

Jesus has made this clear to me today. The things I worry about have nothing to do with me. The things I worry about are not from God. They are from the enemy to keep me from believing I am good. The enemy wants to make you feel horrible about yourself. He wants every person to fall and fail at life. He wants to make you feel miserable. He wants to make you believe your life is done. He wants you to bathe in your shame, guilt, anxieties, and fears. He wants you to settle for the common saying of “That’s just life.”

The other day I asked the Lord to break my heart for what breaks His, to show me the world through His eyes. To show me something bigger. I received my answer today. A topic came to mind and I decided to do more research.

Tears welled up in my eyes while reading some very explicit articles on sex tourism and prostitution….How is this even real? What is wrong with our world? Where are our values and morals? 

My head is throbbing as my tears are flooding

My heart is crushing and my throat aching

My stomach and gut feel sick to the core

For all of the corruption in our world

For so long I’ve been naive

For so long have I trusted

And put my hope in humans

The Lord is opening my eyes to what is real

And though what I see is painful

I choose to put my hope in Jesus

My heart is so shaken up by this.

 

Then I felt a whisper in my heart very clearly that said “I did not intend for the world to be like this. I did not create this. This is not from me. Now you see, but daughter you are not alone in seeing this. Put your hope in me, not the world.” I know this was God speaking to me because though this was painful to feel, I found comfort and peace in knowing that my ultimate identity, hope, love, security, my whole being and existence belongs to the Kingdom of God.

A couple months ago, I had a very terrifying dream that at the time I didn’t know for sure what it meant, or I had a gist but hadn’t put the pieces together.

My dream entailed the following in which I was dreaming that I was dreaming:

I was in my apartment (but it didn’t look like my actual apartment). It was quite a bit larger and it contained a very very dark and eery feeling. It was cluttered and messy and felt cold and lonely. I was sleeping in my bed and I had thought I went to bed with a shirt but then ended up with a jacket on. I was tossing and turning and having weird abstract dreams within the dream where I was running around my apartment and things were supernaturally moving on their own. I found my kitten’s dead body sitting upright in a creepy position but then he was also present in the living form. I was getting so confused and terrified and had my phone in hand but then impulsively threw my phone on the ground and broke it. That made me more terrified since I couldn’t call anyone for help. I felt so alone and scared and like I was on the verge of being destroyed. Something within me urged me to then begin running around to every space in my apartment rebuking Satan and praying against him. Little pieces of paper began fluttering off the ground supernaturally (as if it was the evil spirit). I kept trying to jump on the paper while profusely shouting at them.

My dream faded out from there but when I woke up, I felt so shaken and had a gut feeling that it was some type of warning from the Holy Spirit of what was to come or maybe even what is. I pushed the dream aside and assumed it was just one of my normal nightmares. As time went on, I began to put the pieces together.

The biggest thing I have learned over the past couple months is the following:

SPIRITUAL WARFARE IS REAL.

Ways God has spoken to me that are in alignment:

  • Listened to my pastor speak about spiritual warfare the Sunday before I had this dream
  • Had this terrifying dream
  • Over the past few months I have also had nightmares almost every night that I attributed to one of my medications but now I’m actually seeing that it could have been God’s warnings and means of awakening me to what’s going on in the world
  • I noticed dynamics changing and shifting within my relationship, and since that relationship ended I have put the puzzle pieces together about what happened (to be respectful, I will not share details)
  • Key timing in my relationship
  • After my relationship ended, I chose a random (not random in God’s eyes) podcast to watch online in which the pastor spoke a message called “The Weapons of our Warfare”
  • Went to a bible study group in which we watched a sermon by Bill Johnson about supernatural encounters
  • Others’ lives around me
  • A buried passion re-emerging within me

 

Spiritual warfare has always been one of those topics I was afraid of, never really understood or put much thought into. I hadn’t had experiences or at least I wasn’t opening my eyes to them. I didn’t see how real it is until now.

My heart crumbles for all of the sin in the world and such corruption we have fallen prey to. My heart aches for the friendships, relationships and marriages that are damaged and torn apart due to this. We were MADE for connecting to one another and to our Father God. We were made for each other to make us all more Holy but because of this very reason is why the enemy disrupts. Connecting and relating to each other are such a huge part of our lives that of course if the enemy seeps in, you will become distracted, depleted, shameful, guilty, and stagnant in life. You will begin to believe God is unhappy with you, that he doesn’t love you anymore and that you are doomed. This is the enemy’s goal!

Since we as human beings are created in God’s image are not the problem and sin is, we NEED to stand strong and shut out the enemy and his lies and open our hearts to Jesus Christ in order to live abundantly!

The thief enters only to steal, kill, and destroy. I came so that they could have life—indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest.- John 10:10

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.- James 4:7

First time I saw this skit was about 10 years ago and it still speaks to me…

 

(This is not the original version but I really liked this one better than the original)

 

God’s Fascinating Ways

 

Image result for trusting God

Tonight I gained a real, fresh perspective on the way God works and it feels SO amazing!! I haven’t written a blog in quite some time so bear with me on the quirks of my writing.

Today I was at work, and was having a mediocre day, kind of feeling slow, not on my best game, dragging behind, even running behind on appointments. I tried to keep positivity on the forefront of my mind. My colleagues all say I’m so positive but today I felt I was slacking in that department. Little do they know how hard it is sometimes.

Throughout the day whenever I was feeling negative, I reminded myself of God’s goodness and faithfulness and started mulling over positive, uplifting thoughts rather than the alternative. I can’t say I was putting forth extreme effort with this, but more so the good thoughts just kind of came to me. I owe that to God’s strength in carrying me through the day. I didn’t actually realize these things until now. As I’m thinking this over, it’s not like it was a huge epiphany, fireworks out of the sky, or a booming voice from above. It was subtle, just soft thoughts and ideas. And that’s how God speaks. He was showing me ways that He loves me by validating me, my feelings, my thoughts, the fact that I’m human. He reminded me I am imperfect, and that we all are. I am going through a season of life where trusting God is essential and believing and knowing that He has a perfect plan for me has been very hard lately.

“After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” -1 Kings 19:12

My day started to improve with just this and little did I know what God was to teach me later on.

Just before close, an unexpected event occurred. I cannot disclose details due to confidentiality and protection of my workplace so I will try and be brief. It ended where people that had come into our hospital with a stray animal decided to then take that animal to animal control and place him into an “overnight box” outside the building to be found in the morning. They did not want to be financially responsible for the animal for treatment and we could not euthanize due to legal reasons. We tried our best to give these people options and made phone calls to the sheriff’s office and the MSU Veterinary Hospital but the people did not want to wait long enough to receive the answer from MSU on whether they take surrenders. The phone call came right after these people had left with the animal that MSU DOES take surrenders. We didn’t have a phone number to call them but my instinct told me to get in my car and drive to the animal control to either notify the people or take the animal to MSU myself instead of leaving him out in the cold.

I drove over as fast as I could but it was too late. The people were not there but I saw the box. It was enclosed thankfully, but it still made me sad. I opened the box and sure enough there lay the old animal covered with a tarp. I listened to make sure he was still breathing and heart was beating. My heart was feeling crushed.

“I should have just offered to take him to my home for the night.”

“This is so sad.”

“Is this even real?”

I opened up the rear door to my car. I was going to take him to MSU.

I attempted to lift him out of the box but he started growling. I tried again but his growl was a little more intense, like the kind where he could snap his head around and take a chunk out of my arm on any instance that I touch him. I decided, maybe it’s not worth harming myself in the process. I called one of the vets to get their advice on if I should have someone come help me or not. He advised that if the animal is growling that it’s probably not worth it since we don’t know any history about the animal and he could easily bite me. I left feeling defeated but as I drove home, something occurred to me.

“If only that animal KNEW I was trying to help him.”

“If only he knew that I was going to take him somewhere warm with food and water and blankets.” 

“If only he understood that I know what’s best for him.”

“If he could just endure this temporary pain of being lifted out of the box to be taken somewhere much better. Why would he growl at me? I just wanted to help.”

I see now how God feels about me.

I cling to what I think is best because I’m afraid to lose what I have. I want what I want because I want it. I think I am comfy. I think I am cozy. I am content right where I’m at. I am BLIND to the amazing things God has for me. I cannot see anything beyond what’s directly in front of me. I think I know what I need and what I want. I choose to stay in what’s actually a miserable place because that’s what I know best. I am just like that animal sitting in the cold, sad box. I “growl” at God, push Him away, ignore Him, and disregard Him all the time. I tell him “I got this. I don’t need your help. Leave it to me.” I do it because I want my way. I cling to what I have because I think it’s what I need. I hold so tightly to what I think is best for me when little do I know. I choose to settle for something less than what I COULD have.

We all do this. We all do this all the time. A friend the other day told me about a story that she heard from a friend where we act like this woman. It’s a woman clinging to a plastic pearl necklace to her chest like it’s her most precious item. She loves it so much, she doesn’t want to accept anything else. She would do anything for that plastic pearl and will not surrender it to God because that’s all she understands. She thinks this is the best thing she will ever have. Little does she know that Jesus is holding behind his back, an enormous bright, sparkling, pure diamond that is priceless and more magnificent and genuine than she could ever imagine. He wants to hand that over to her, but first, her hands and heart have to be open to receive that. He wants that so badly like how badly I wanted to help that animal. I wanted that animal to be open and accepting to letting me help him.

Now I know some readers may think this sounds silly. I mean it’s an animal for crying out loud. Of course the animal isn’t going to understand you. What if I told you, you are exactly right. That is my point. I speak English. The animal speaks with a growl or a bark. We each speak different languages and we think in different ways, but I can still communicate with him.

God speaks a different language and thinks differently than us as humans but He is able to still communicate with us. We tend to forget that God’s ways are not our ways. His words are not our words. His actions aren’t even our actions. He doesn’t even operate on our time clock. But He has CREATED us. He has put DESIRES in our hearts. He has created us to want to be LOVED. He has created us for RELATIONSHIP and FELLOWSHIP. He has created us to be perfectly IMPERFECT so that HE can INTERVENE in our lives. We are flawed for a reason! We are flawed and we have struggles so that there is room for JESUS to MANIFEST in our lives. He knows what’s BEST for us. He wants to give us more than we could ever IMAGINE and most importantly He wants us to put our TRUST and HOPE in Him even when we don’t understand.

Jesus says to me, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”– Jeremiah 29:11

So why accept anything less than that? Why not put your trust in Him as if that animal were to put his trust in me, knowing that I know what’s best for him.

Let these messages ring in your heart and mind tonight like I am…

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.” – Isaiah 55:8

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him.” – Jeremiah 17:7

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” –Proverbs 3:5

 

 

 

 

 

 

Only Skin Deep

Everyone deals with some sort of struggle right? At least I hope to God everyone does otherwise I really am crazy. I have dealt with skin picking and anxiety issues ever since I was young, even relating to OCD. I was never diagnosed but it has been long and intense enough for me to identify those issues. I have never been on medications but sometimes it’s bad enough that I wonder if I should be. Whenever I feel anxious about anything at all, or even just an intense emotion (positive or negative, whether it be anger, excitement, or indecisiveness) I resort to picking my skin, sometimes without even thinking or realizing it. My hand reaches up to graze my face and find something to dig at.

Simple things make me anxious whether it be a struggle in making a decision or too much stimulation from my environment- like today when I was driving through East Lansing determined to go to a coffee shop to read and write; I was reminded it’s now football season with hundreds of green and white dressed fans roaming the sidewalks, streets, and frat houses. Cars and noise everywhere. I became anxious simply from too much going on and the thought of hitting someone or not being able to find parking etc. This may seem silly to some but this kind of scenario actually affects me more than I realize.

When I get home from work to a messy apartment, dishes to do, cats to feed, a pile of laundry to put away (even though I’m a single person in a one bedroom apartment…) I become zoned in a state of indecisiveness about what to do first and head to the mirror to distract myself. When I find out exciting positive news, I can’t help myself but start picking all the scabs on my face, which doesn’t even make sense but that’s what I do!

I pick to the point of making my skin bleed. I pick my acne, blemishes, any bump on my face, and my mosquito bite scabs. I pick so much in a sense to make my skin perfect (when actually I’m doing the opposite). I pick with a desire to make my skin feel flat and smooth when actually I’m causing craters, scars and darkened spots. I pick to release the tension built up inside of me from the anxiety. Sometimes it’s so intense I pull out the tweezers and extractor tools to be sure that I get out whatever “gunk” is trapped under my skin. I usually do anything possible to “fix” my face until I feel satisfied  enough to where I can leave it alone, at least for the time being until I go at it again.

It’s a cycle though. When I feel the intense emotion, I pick. It feels good for the split second/act of releasing something from my skin (which also releases the tension) but then I start to feel MORE anxiety from harming my skin therefore I pick again. It is a vicious cycle. I used to be naive about this problem I had- or maybe not necessarily naive but I just didn’t notice what I was doing. Within the past couple years I have been able to identify this problem I have and be more aware of triggers, how long I’m picking, things I can do to redirect my actions/thoughts, and positive self talk. But I still have not overcome it. It’s about managing it.

It gets really really hard sometimes. I feel horrible about myself, worry about what others think, and tend to think I’m the only one with this problem (isolation). I see pictures of my younger self and get thinking I wish I could go back when my skin may have had less scars and blemishes or even just ONE specific time where my skin happened to be clear. I get hooked on this idea that everything is going downhill, it’s all or nothing. It’s all over, my skin will just get worse and worse. I get thinking I’m getting older, my skin is losing it’s tightness and ability to heal. When I get thinking like this it just makes the anxiety worse. Does anyone else feel this way? About skin/picking, or whatever problem it is you face?

While I have had times in the past where I thought the worst was over with my skin picking, I was wrong. I have good times and bad. I have streaks where my skin is super clear and I don’t pick those times but try to appreciate what I look like. But other times it looks horrible and I’m having a huge breakout with red bumps and splotchy inflammation from picking all over my chin. I’m trying to learn and accept that this just may be “The problem”, “My problem” that I have to deal with for the rest of my life. Some people it’s alcoholism, some it’s a diagnosis, some it’s a disease, some it’s diabetes, some it’s obesity, some it’s smoking, some life threatening like cancer, some it’s anorexia, some problems deriving from anxiety like mine.

The thing that I’ve realized is despite the fact that we all each have a problem we face, I have one thing to appreciate. My problem is only skin deep (as far as I know). Sure, there is the chance that my anxiety is affecting my brain or organ function internally but the main issue that I am concerned with and can see is my skin. I am damaging my skin. Our skin is a protective barrier for the rest of our body. Even though I take out my anxiety on my skin, I am so thankful for the fact that my skin has never failed me. It has always protected me and always finds a way to heal no matter how much I have squeezed, dug, carved, and mutilated it. Me picking my skin has never gone deeper than my skin layer. My face still looks like the face that I’ve seen my whole life (besides the gradual aging). I still have the same bone, muscle structure and shape to my face. Even though I have scars, darkened spots, some uneven areas, it is living proof that my skin is doing it’s job, repairing wounds through proliferation and maturation of the cells. Not that it’s an excuse to keep picking but maybe one more step towards healing from this is appreciating this simple notion.

My imperfect skin and face also serves as a filter for people getting to know me. Beauty comes from within and if I am so focused on making sure I’m beautiful on the outside, how is that helping me focus on internal beauty-it’s not. When people talk to me, befriend me, and spend time with me, it’s not because of what I look like or because of my skin (obviously because it’s not perfect) but it’s because of who I am inside, my soul and spirit. How cool is that? There are so many beautiful women I have met/known who have skin like me- uneven, scars, crater filled, and blemished but I could care less about that because of who they are, how they carry themselves with confidence and love on others. So why is it so hard for me to see that in myself? I know why, its because we tend to be more critical of ourselves than of others. It’s something I can work on to step outside of my head and look at what actually matters.

There are people out there worse off than me, not to minimize anyone’s problem, but it helps to put what oneself is going through into perspective. I am thankful and blessed to be healthy, to be able to walk, see, hear, exercise, to be able to eat anything (no food allergies or food related diseases).  I am thankful to have full consciousness, and both arms, legs and 10 fingers and toes. As silly as some of this may sound, it really IS a blessing what I have. I am so thankful to have not been in a serious accident, or be diagnosed with a terminal illness, or life altering disease.

My hope for my readers is that you feel comfort in knowing that you are not alone in whatever problem it is that you face, whether it seems insignificant compared to others or not. Each problem a person faces is significant to them. If you are like me and deal with anxiety and skin picking, it IS a big deal and it matters to me. But let me remind you to stay focused on the positive, the progress, and that it really is only skin deep! You never know what someone with perfectly clear skin and no urge to pick is dealing with. It is so easy to focus on negative but try, try, try to stay focused on what you have and the GOOD things. I have to remind myself over and over again…

Why Not a Vet?

I have had many people ask me if I will “go on” to be a veterinarian (for one, my program is actually separate from the veterinary medicine program) or why I am not becoming a veterinarian or that I would be smart enough to be one. After telling a medical professional of the human side at one of my appointments what I was going to school for, he laughed and said something very close to these lines “Oh, yeah haha “tech” makes it sound all professional- like pharmacy tech, nurse tech, fill-in-the-blank tech. I wanted to be a (such and such) tech.” While I absolutely despise the rude, arrogant, and uneducated comments from some people, I really do appreciate the kind-hearted compliments from those who mean well. I don’t want to in any way bash veterinarians or vet students who are soon to become veterinarians (because we need them!) but I do want to share some ideas/reasons I’ve been reminded of lately of why I’d rather be a veterinary technician than a veterinarian (Don’t think I haven’t considered being a vet. I do hold a strong desire to have the medical knowledge they possess and I have such a fascination for surgery. I do admire the patience and dedication they have as well). Forgive me if my pride and millenial mindset is getting in the way, but this is something I feel very passionate about. I wish instead of our society placing value on being a workaholic that we cared more about our health and well-being. Some may judge that millenials have a “lazy” mindset. I disagree. I think it’s common sense that when you feel exhausted, overwhelmed, emotionally unwell, mentally unwell, and even physically sick with real physical symptoms that something needs to change. We certainly all can only handle certain amounts of work, stimuli, and human interaction and maybe that leads to something deeper than what I’m writing here…
 
*These are not necessarily in order of importance but rather how my mind flows.
 
1. I want to be able to work when I’m at work then come home where I enjoy my home (whether that means spending time alone, with my boyfriend, with my family/friends, or focusing on my own animals).
 
2. Instead of staying awake wondering if I will have an emergency or be called in, I’d rather invest in my own health by allowing my body to get a full night’s worth of sleep so I can be a happier, healthier, more optimistic individual for when I DO go in to work. Though I wish I could always put others (clients and animals) first ALL The time, it’s just not possible. With my own health being in check, I can then help as many animals to the best of my ability during my work shift.
 
3. I have a huge list of book recommendations that I’ve been keeping for about 6 years now that I still have not gotten through. Though I love veterinary medicine, I also love learning about other ideas/beliefs/stories as well.
 
4. I love art. I used to consider being an artist as a career. I love to draw and recently sparked interests in painting and woodcarving. I want time to develop these gifts.
 
5. I love to travel. Whether it be to a new city 30 minutes away or a spontaneous decision to travel to Africa. I need to travel to reset my mind and to give me a new perspective on life and to remind me of things I’m grateful for. I also want to see how other cultures live. I want to SEE with my own EYES the physical beauty of God’s creation and appreciate it. I spent 18 years in a building “learning” from textbooks but now it’s time to GO OUT and learn for myself the topics I always found boring because they were just that- words in a book. I wanted to SEE, touch, feel, and BE where historical events happened, and unravel how important certain historical figures were. I want to continue to see that people from the other side of the world aren’t imaginary, distant, or strangers but that they are actually just like me and we can laugh and form bonds even despite differences.
 
6. I want to have TIME for those I love. My boyfriend. My best friends. My family. New friends- I want to have a heart for wanting to connect with new people, not depleted of my energy which will keep me from wanting to connect with others.
 
7. I get more hands on experience with the animals and a personal connection with the client sometimes more than the vet does. 🙂
 
8. I love to write. When I have an idea, I have to write. I want time to develop this.
 
9. Though this will probably happen to me anyway to some extent in a different form, I would rather not drive myself insane at home about if I made an accurate diagnosis’, chosen the right treatment option, or performed a surgery in an ideal way.
 
10. I want time with God. Time to develop spiritually, to discover if he has more callings on my life. He knows my heart, He knows me well. He knows I am not bound for one job as I have many desires. 
The list goes on…but as we speak I’m having trouble keeping my eyes open…..