Friday, March 15, 2013


Did I already mention that I'm having a pretty rough lenten season?  I had another rough week... but it was also incredible and miraculously awesome as well.  I feel so, so blessed.  

I had another meltdown the other day.  It was pretty bad.  But it was also pretty awesome.  I shall tell you the story.  Sit tight.  It might take a while.

For the past week or so, I've been waking up progressively earlier and earlier in the mornings and being unable to fall back asleep.  I almost never have this problem.  I usually have the opposite problem... I can't wake up in time... or I have a hard time falling asleep at night (not mornings).  When it was 6am... it was OK.  When it became 4am... it got really tiring.  And lately it's been that I can't stay asleep for more than 2-3 hours at a time.  I am physically and mentally exhausted.  When I lay there in the mornings and I'm tired and I can't fall back asleep... it makes me feel like crying.  It's a deep longing and frustration for something so simple which had rarely eluded me in the past... but felt so, so out of reach... unattainable.  

Sleeping pills?  Yes.  I've been trying them.  I'm normally really, really sensitive to Ambien.  I take a bite out of a 5mg pill... it's about 1/4 or 1/3 of the pill... so it's somewhere between 1-2mg probably... and it usually knocks me out for a good 4 hours.  I usually only take it the night before I have to work and I need to force myself to sleep early so I can get up at 5am.  This past week, they haven't been working.  

Tuesday night, I had a pretty decent day.  I think I probably woke up at 4am... was pretty productive... I got home around 1130pm maybe... and I was SO exhausted... I felt like driving to the beach and falling asleep there... but I was too lazy and I figured it'd be too cold so I thought to myself that maybe I'll go tomorrow.  And I also hoped that I could sleep through the night without a sleeping pill.  So I went to sleep.  Fell asleep pretty quickly around midnight.  Woke up at 2:30am...and again at 4am... starving, nauseous, dizzy... and so incredibly frustrated that I took 10mg of Ambien hoping I'd knock out for at least 8 hours... but no such luck.  I was woken up at 730am because plumbers had come to our house to fix a leak... found out they had to replace our entire hot water system... and I needed to evacuate my room because a LOT of pipes run through the back of my closet.  

I'm so tired, so nauseous, so hungry... so mentally, emotionally and physically stressed that I'm MISERABLE... I'm almost crying... but I drag myself out of bed and go to the room next door with the hopes that I'll be able to go back to sleep.  I climb into bed... and... I can't sleep.  THANK YOU to all my friends who bear with my early morning texting and who try so hard to be there for me when I need you... but eventually... I couldn't handle it anymore... I just had to break down and cry.  I didn't just cry little tiny tears... I was hyperventilating and almost convulsing... it was really really bad.  I was having a mental breakdown.  

I was crying and getting my pillowcase all snotty and gross... and I turned around to a fresh spot and asked myself... if I could be anywhere else... where would I want to be... and I decided that I wanted to be like Elijah and go to a mountain top and lay facedown before God and pray... pray for rain... in the middle of a drought.

And Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel. And he bowed himself down on the earth and put his face between his knees. 43 And he said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” And he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go again,” seven times. 44 And at the seventh time he said, “Behold, a little cloud like a man's hand is rising from the sea.” 1 Kings 18.  
I get up and go to my room... and my mouth drops open... as I discover that the entire contents of my very large closet are piled in a 5-foot tall stack on my bed (oh my poor dry cleaning...) and whatever empty space was in the center of my room... was occupied by huge stacks of shoeboxes, piles of more clothing... my room was in utter chaos.  Not to mention, a plumber was in there... sawing holes in my closet... running copper pipes through there and soldering them together.  The scent of burning metal stung my nostrils.  I felt my heart and soul being gutted... and my "home" quite literally gutted as my closet (the heart and soul of my belongings) was being worked on during this renovation.  

At this point... with all the smells, the banging and clanging... strangers with big dusty shoes stomping all over my house... I needed to get out.  Escaping to the mountain top seemed more and more a necessity and not a luxury.  Mind you, I'm having a mental breakdown... and I'm also kind of lazy... so I didn't exactly want to drive to a mountain and lay facedown... how dirty... and far... and it might not be safe for me to drive in my mental state... so I decided that I'd just grab my yoga mat, a box of tissues, and a bunch of books and stuff... go to the park down the street... find a little tiny hill... and lay facedown before God there.  In the shade.  So I did.  

I ate something real quick... I grabbed all my stuff, threw it into a bag, and started walking to the park.  I get there... I lay out my yoga mat on the grass... and I put myself in child's pose... and I laid there.  I was SO distraught... I had no words.  TIFF HAD NO WORDS.  I did have a song though.  Sovereign was playing over and over in my head... so I took out my pink headphones, stuck it in my pink iphone, and played Sovereign on single song repeat for... what felt like an hour.  Maybe it was shorter.  I'm not sure.  It felt like a long time.  And I proceeded to cry again.  I cried the hard cry of a desperate soul... seeking God... and I was semi-convulsing in the park. Hopefully alone but at that point I didn't care who saw my crazy.  I was having a really, really so-honest-its-ugly... vulnerable moment before my God.  At Starshine Park.  

Sovereign, Chris Tomlin 
Sovereign in the mountain airSovereign on the ocean floorWith me in the calmWith me in the storm 
Sovereign in my greatest joySovereign in my deepest cryWith me in the darkWith me at the dawn 
In your everlasting armsAll the pieces of my lifeFrom beginning to the endI can trust you 
In your never failing loveYou work everything for goodGod whatever comes my wayI will trust you 
All my hopesAll I needHeld in your hands 
All my lifeAll of meHeld in your hands 
All my fearsAll my dreamsHeld in your hands 
In your everlasting armsAll the pieces of my lifeFrom beginning to the endI can trust you 
In your never failing loveYou work everything for goodGod whatever comes my wayI will trust you
After a really long time of being facedown and listening to the same song on repeat... I decided it was time to turn around and be face-up before God.  So I turned around and laid there again.  Hands on my stomach... feeling my aorta pulsate...being still... and watching the leaves shiver in the slight breeze of a perfect March afternoon.  After what felt like another hour... I decided I was ready to read.  

Today, only questions surround your great sorrow, but then you will see how the threatening enemy was actually swept away during your stormy night of fear and grief. 
Today you see only your loss, but then you will see how God used it to break the evil chains that had begun to restrain you. 
Today you cower at the howling wind and the roaring thunder, but then you will see how they beat back the waves of destruction and opened your way to the peaceful Land of
Promise. -Mark Guy Pearse

I felt really blessed and ministered to in that moment.  So thankful for Chris Tomlin... for L.B. Cowman... for my friends who love me despite my craziness and drama...  so I decided to share with a few people and ask for prayer. Yay for smartphones and being able to email while face-up on a yoga mat at the park! And extra yay that some people responded right away with encouragement and prayer.  SO miraculous.  Such a blessing!

And maybe it was a little bit backwards but I decided I wasn't done reading... I also needed to get in the Word... so I proceeded to read the assigned Bible reading for that day... Mark 10.  

At the end of Mark 10, Jesus asked the blind man, "what can I do for you?" and as I read that... I felt Him asking me as well... "Tiff... my child... what can I do for you?"  

So like a spoiled brat on the knee of Santa... I decided to journal and write down a list of stuff I wanted.  Big things and small things... I came up with a list of about 12 items that I'd ask God for if He asked me right then and there... what can I do for you...  and after I was done with my list... I decided that I was being excessive.  I know Jesus has infinite time for me but if He stopped me on the side of the road and asked me, "what can I do for you?"... I'd probably want to simply present Him with the single most important request and have Him smile and say, "go your way, your faith has made you well."  Just one, Tiff.  Just pick one... for now.

I scanned the list... all those things are important to me in some way, shape or form.  None of them are inherently bad... some are kind of vain... like losing 10 pounds or being able to do a pull-up on my own from a dead-hang... but my eyes fixed on the single most important item... I want to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.  And I felt Him wash me through and through with the peace that only He can bring... the kind that surpasses understanding... and I heard Him say to me, "go your way, your faith has made you well."

I had been fighting hunger and the urge to pee at that point so when God said I was good to go... I decided to go home... to eat and pee.  Not necessarily simultaneously... but yeah.  I walked home and I allowed myself to take in all the beauty of spring... the purple flowers in bloom... tiny white daisy-looking flowers scattered on the grassy expanse... the dried dog poop on the sidewalk (ew)...  but I felt better.  I felt sustained.  Still physically tired but sustained... only just barely though.  

I can't really remember what I did after I got home and ate something.  I might have chatted with my friends again... guessed people's personality types... I've been kind of interested in pondering people's personality types and what motivates them... what drives them... what makes them feel happy... so that was fun.  And then it was time to drive to small groups... I was going to go half an hour early to pray with my small group leader.  It should take me less than 15 minutes and there was no traffic but as I was driving there, I felt myself falling asleep at the wheel.  I was able to make it there but I decided that I would just pray with her and go home if I felt too sleepy.  So I arrived... safely... and we prayed.  It was a really nice time.  I felt so, so blessed.  I somehow didn't feel as tired.

When we were done praying, we came out and more people had arrived.  Something about seeing other people and their smiling faces... I got bursts and bursts of energy and smiles and I forgot about being tired.  I laughed.  I ate.  I laughed again.  I got and gave hugs.  I really, really love this group of beautiful people.  I made it through the night and then I decided to go to the gym and shower... because the plumbers had shut off our hot water and it would remain shut off for a couple of days.  I stood there in the shower at the gym and reflected on the day.  Such an awesome, awesome day.  I also felt really blessed to be able to shower at the gym.  I know it's still wasting water but I don't feel as bad standing under hot running water at the gym as I would if I did it at home.  I hope they recycle that water somehow.  

That night, I still woke up at 2am and again at 7am... but I woke up and didn't feel nauseous or miserable... I woke up feeling happy that I woke up one less time than the previous night.  I felt better and lighter as well.  I'm hoping that tonight will be even better.  Maybe I'll even sleep through the night.  One can only hope.  

I've had two really special and amazing days since being gutted on Wednesday.  I am surrounded by the BEST FRIENDS EVER.  I don't even know how I'm surrounded by so many amazingly wonderful people.  God is very, very good.  

So sometimes I have extra time and I'll choose to go spend time with others... or sometimes I'll choose to save that time for myself.  I got a chance to do both today.  There was no traffic so I arrived at the meeting place 20 minutes early... and decided to run an errand and buy some bananas.  And I found the most amazing bananas with the funniest stickers on them.  They made me happy and I wanted to share that feeling with my lovely friends.  So I did.  Thank God again for smartphones.

I also had a little bit of time after lunch... so I went to visit my friend at work.  It's always so encouraging to see everyone at work... and how much they want me to come back.  So, so sweet.  And then after that, I had a little time before meeting up with my next friend so I decided to sit and spend that time alone at a cafe.  So I did.  I figured I could study... or I could spend time with God.  I should always spend time with God first.  So I did.  :)  It was a REALLY good time.  I read through Isaiah 58:1-14... about fasting.  

So I've been fasting for Lent. I've been fasting for a purpose.  It was a simple one... to know God in a new and different way.  And I think He is totally delivering.  

From Isaiah 58... God doesn't want the kind of fasting that makes people fight or makes them irritable... this is the kind of fasting He wants... which didn't really sound like fasting to me... it sounded like service and obedience... 
  • free the wrongly imprisoned
  • lighten the burdens of those who work for you
  • let the oppressed go free
  • remove the chains that bind people
  • share food with the hungry
  • give shelter to the homeless
  • give clothes to those who need them
  • do not hide from relatives who need your help
And He promises these if we fast in this way:
  • that my salvation will come like the dawn
  • my wounds will quickly heal
  • godliness will lead me forward
  • the glory of God will protect me from behind
  • when I call, He will answer "Yes, I am here"
  • He will reply quickly
  • He will remove the heavy yoke of oppression
  • My light will shine out from the darkness and the darkness around me will be bright as noon
  • the Lord will guide me continually
  • give me water when I'm dry
  • restore my strength
  • that I will be like a well-watered garden... like an ever-flowing spring
  • I will rebuild the deserted ruins of my cities
  • I will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes
  • The Lord will be my delight
  • He will give me great honor
  • He will satisfy me with the inheritance He promised to my ancestor Jacob
And He ended the whole thing with, "I, the LORD, have spoken!"

If God said it, it's as good as done.  

I had such a wonderful time with my friend.  And an even more wonderful time on the drive home... getting good news... being excited and screaming in the car from excitement for my friend and her good news.  All in all... a very, very good day.  

I came home and read this and I thought that it was super encouraging again.  

Christ is building His kingdom with the broken things of earth. People desire only the strong, successful, victorious, and unbroken things in life to build their kingdoms, but God is the God of the unsuccessful—the God of those who have failed. Heaven is being filled with earth’s broken lives, and there is no “bruised reed” (Isa. 42:3) that Christ cannot take and restore to a glorious place of blessing and beauty. He can take a life crushed by pain or sorrow and make it a harp whose music will be total praise. He can lift earth’s saddest failure up to heaven’s glory. -J. R. Miller

In my brokenness... and in my failure to cope with my external stressors... God took that situation... He took my bruised reed and restored it to a place of blessing, beauty, and great joy.

A very good week, my friends.  Most excellent.
much much love,

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