Why Am I Crying? And Other Hormone Related Questions


I’m 42 years old.  It’s not that I turned 42 today or anything, but on this Monday immediately following Daylight Savings Time adjustments, I am reminded that I am 42.  There’s a certain comfort that I have in my own skin now.  A certain understanding of my body that has been a gift with age.  I know that while tropical weather makes for great vacations, it actually turns my hair into something that resembles 90’s Metal Band hair.  I know that when I see a really cute pair of shoes pristinely displayed in a size 6, that I may in fact have to add the possibility that those very same shoes may resemble something Ronald McDonald wears when placed on my size 10 feet.  I know that no matter how thin I get and how much I exercise that I will never be the kind of girl that sees daylight between her thighs.   I know who I am, and generally I’m okay with that.

After decades of making peace with who I am and calling a truce with the body hate of my youth, I’ve found myself in a new reality.  Just a few months ago, I had a hysterectomy. You can save your grieving of dreams of babies yet to come as I have all the children this mom could ever want, but I have in fact found myself mourning the loss of who I was.  When I was 16 years old I was put on birth control pills. I’ll save you the graphic details of why, but know that it changed my life.  It was like a miracle, and I was so greatful, I almost found myself rallying in the streets, holding a picket sign, advocating for additional rights for women.  Over the last 25 years, I have either been pregnant or on some type of hormone replacement.  I’m a living encyclopedia of options, side effects, cost and general non-edited commentary about each and every one.  But after fighting the good fight for decades, finally maxing out the amount of hormone controlling therapy they could give me, and adding a lovely 40lbs to my body weight, I conceded and had surgery.

Today as I sit here, I know that I am finally free from uncontrollable and abrupt bleeding.  Someday I may even feel confident enough to buy a pair of white pants, but probably not.  While I’m in control of my body, I’m struggling to be in control of my emotions.  After over 25 years of taking a variety of hormones, I am sitting here, hormone free and not knowing who I am.  I cry at the drop of a hat.  I get anxious when I’m unsure of what’s coming.  I can sleep around the clock and still feel tired.  I used to be the unshakable warrior woman, and today I feel raw, vulnerable and exposed.

I can’t help but wonder how many of us find ourselves in places where we never thought we would be feeling things we truly don’t know how to feel. There’s nothing unique about my situation, and certainly nothing that warrants a Go Fund Me page, but I do think about how sometimes life throws us a curve ball.  Sometimes when we have ourselves and our lives all figured out and we are soaring along, changes can come and just sweep the rug out from underneath of us.  Sometimes, we wake up and wonder “Who am I?”

While I’ve been surprised by both my emotions and new feelings, I know that God is not.  God is not surprised by who I was and certainly not surprised by who I am.  Because I belong to Him.  He knows my every hurt, my every uncertainty, my every fear and each and every new feeling.  While in some ways I feel like a different person, I know that in all the ways that matter, nothing has changed.  I am a child of God.

As I continue to adjust and get used to the newness of my life, I believe that the old Michelle will be back soon enough.  The warrior who knows nothing of the word “can’t” is sitting this season of life out, but she is in there.  Today, the former me takes a break, and I rest in knowing that God is still working on me.  Even in this season, He is there.  And tomorrow, the Michelle of the past will be back with a newness and new understanding of who she actually is.  No matter how it plays out, God’s got this.


Sin Bucket


There was a time not so long ago when I lived in a house that was constantly under various stages of construction.  Sometimes there was a necessary home repair, and sometimes there was a new project.  It seemed that there was always a slight haze of drywall dust in the air and an orange five gallon bucket full of stuff I might need sitting in the corner.  There were putty knives, hammers, screw drivers, nails, screws, box cutters, electric drills, googles, masks…almost anything you may need in a moment to make some progress on the pending repair. 

 Once, while trying to repair a hole in the wall, I found myself in a precarious position of balancing on the top of a ladder, holding a perfectly cut piece of drywall in one hand and an electric drill in the other.  I had one foot tightly anchored to the ladder and glided the drywall into the wall like the final piece of a jigsaw puzzle. I carefully held the piece steady and revved the drill feeling like a pre-race version of Mario Andretti.  I reached into my tool box sitting on the top of the ladder and grabbed for a screw, but there weren’t any there.  I was out.

I climbed down my ladder and headed to the bucket in the corner.  I searched and searched for the right screw, and there was nothing there.  There were all sorts of things in my bucket but none of them the right.  As a reached down to the bottom of the bucket, I felt something metal and pointed and I hoped that it was exactly what I needed.  As I yanked it out, I saw a nail.  With deep resignation, knowing it wouldn’t work, I tried it anyway.

I so often find myself overwhelmed by the intensity of life’s problems.   I often feel like I’m balancing delicately, and holding a piece of life that I just don’t know how to handle.  How will I handle my child’s unhappiness, how will I manage growing financial needs, how will I prepare for retirement, how will I loose 20lbs, how will I ever be a wife that gives more than she takes?  Sometimes I’m desperately searching in my tool box, throwing things out of the box that I can never see working, and discarding all the tools that I know help. Exhausted, I find myself staring into an empty tool box.

There I am holding a piece of my life that I can’t fix, with a tool box I’ve savagely annihilated feeling scared and needing something to fix this.  I look into the corner and see a bucket.  I know that bucket.  I’ve seen that bucket sitting there before.  I carefully climb down the ladder holding that piece of uncontrollable life and walk to the corner.  Sitting there quietly is my sin bucket.  It’s lush with so many ways to make this uncomfortable piece of life not feel so heavy.  I reach deep down in the bucket sorting through gluttony, and lust.  I power down deep through codependency and anger issues.  I keep digging until I reach the bottom.  Deep at the bottom of my sin bucket I find just the right fix. I grab on to it and carefully lift it out.  As it reaches the top of my bucket, I see the sin I know so well.  I see shame.

As I release it into the air, I drop the piece of life I can’t fix.  Shame tells me that I’ve created this mess, that there will never be a way out, that I will never be enough. And for a moment I am relieved because I can’t fix it.

As I look around I see my tool box laying on the floor with scattered tools around me, and I know there’s a better way.  I see the tools of grace and forgiveness, of prayer and of discernment.  I crawl over and use each piece as I rebuild my tool kit.  I forcefully shove that shame back into my sin bucket and I sit. 

I know that in the corner of my life there is a bucket of sin that calls to me.  It woes me with seductive efficiency, and even when I believe that I’ve put the lid on it for good, it secretly calls to me.  The sin bucket is easy.  You pull one out and for a moment it relieves the heaviness of life.  Today as I’m holding so many pieces of life, I pray that with God’s grace I can just use my Tool Kit.  I’m praying that I can use the only effective tools in front of me instead of following the allurement of the bucket in the corner I know so well.  Today I just pray, not this time.

What Color Shall We Paint?


Raising two girls kept my house full of action, unexpected outbursts of Disney Princess songs, and what I have lovingly named “estrogen grenades.”  There was always a faint smell of the complete inventory of Bath and Body Works, hair ties randomly found in every room and an odd amount of glitter that would hang in the air for years, only to be found at odd times in very odd places.  My girls each had their own rooms and shortly after we moved in they decided to decorate and paint.  My oldest daughter instantly knew that she would pick the color of Sleeping Beauty’s pink dress and painted her room Pepto Bismol Pink.    My youngest daughter, at the age of three, taped paint swatches to her walls including almost every color that Crayola has ever thought of.  She agonized over the decision, falling on the floor in tears with the uncertainty, until one day I said, “Just Pick.” 

She painted her room bright, sun glasses required yellow. 

So there we were with the room of Bepto Bismol and the room with the Sun Glasses, and all was good.  For a while.

It didn’t take long until the yellow just wasn’t cutting it for my daughter.  She begged and pleaded, and did lists of chores to earn the money to paint her room again.  With paint swatches covering the walls again, we found ourselves with the same forced decision.  “Just Pick.”  Finally we landed on a deep purple with stripes of deep blue and silver below a handrail.  Soon, that just wasn’t good and so after the chores and negotiating we landed in neon green.  Then more chores, and negotiating and clearly evident parental exhaustion, and I found myself entering a room with pitch black walls. 

I have been horribly hurt in my life.  I have had people mislead and betray me, and I have been damaged and scarred so deep that only the Creator could see the carnage.  I have been changed by things done to me, but once I find myself on the other side of the crisis, when the onslaught is over, sitting and staring at the damaged walls in front of me I have to ask the question, “What now?”  The answer…forgiveness.  I have to break out that paint and go through the agonizing process of acknowledging the pain and the hurt and the ones that have hurt me, and go through the process of painting over each transgression with a layer of freshly applied paint.

I forgive you.

Looking around, I am in awe at the beauty of unmarked, clean walls knowing that my forgiveness took away the hold the damage had on me. Sometimes, it doesn’t take long for the blemishes to bleed through, and what once looked so perfect and clean now shows scars and damage of hurt and pain.  And I know what I must do.  I’ve done it before.  I work to find the energy to prepare the surfaces of my heart, to prime and edge, and forgive again.  I cover each one of those blemishes with the seal of fresh forgiveness…again.  Occasionally after years of being awed by the beauty around me, even as I’m parading people around my room showing them the walls have been painted, I get almost whiplash as I look around and notice a blemish, or a scratch beginning to show through.  Sometimes after being so sure that I have forgiven, I am faced with the reality that I may in fact need to do it again. I may need a fresh layer of paint.

Sometimes forgiveness is a journey.  It’s a gift we give ourselves repeatedly so that the hurt and the pain don’t turn to resentment and bitterness.  Sometimes we just need to pray for the patience and strength to forgive the same hurt, or the same blemish as many times as it takes until we no longer see it. 

As I look around the room today, with the fresh coat of forgiveness shining on the walls, I pray that this time God will soften my heart so that I never need to do this again.  Today, as I see the blessing of forgiveness around me, I know that each time I forgive, I give it to God.  So even if it’s Pepto Bismal Pink or Sunglasses Yellow I’m praying that this time will be the last time I need to paint.

Grape Juice

I’ve always been independant.  Well, I’ve always tried to be independant.  My mom tells an adorable story about when I was 18 months old and my first grammatically incorrect sentence was “My do it.”  And that toddler totally believed that she could…and she would…and then sometimes…she didn’t. Yesterday I left work to check on my daughter and to run some errands, but I  also left work because I  had extreme body aches.  Uncomfortable, confusing horrible aches.  After touching base with my daughter and fumbling through a few errands, I knew that my body aches were pretty intense.

But, I wanted to be strong, to be independant, and they would probably go away on their own…right??  Right???

At work we are focusing on re-writing a teaching on self protective vows.  You know, the things you say to ourselves in an attempt to protect us, but ultimately just put up walls around your heart.  Like,  “I will never be like my father.”  “I will always be in control.”  “I will never tolerate lying or cheating.”  Today, my self protective vow of the day is, “I will always be strong enough to keep going.”

And today, I’m not.  After a reluctant trip to Urgent Care, I tested positive for influenza.  And with one quick packet of discharge information, I knew… I will not always be strong enough to keep going.  I want to be, even this morning I tried to be, but I  just can’t.

What I’m reminded of today is that my self protective vows really only hurt the people I love the most.  Instead of saying, I need help,  I just continued to try and power through and make it “okay.”  God never asked us to make it okay.  He sent Jesus to make it okay.

So today, as I lay on the couch and yes, feel like a weak slacker, I hope the people I love know that I am not always strong and I can’t always keep going.  Because they know that Jesus redeems me from the vows I’ve clung to for protection.

While my inclination is to say “My do it”, I know that today, I just need to rest.  I need to trust in the love, the support and the phenomenal people God has sent into my life.  Because God has sent me phenomenal people.  So I sit and I  pick up my phone and ask my husband…can you bring me some juice??

Chocolate Cake


When I was a little girl my mom and her siblings would all bring their families together for holidays.  We’re talking Christmas, New Year’s, Memorial Day, 4th of July…you name it.  There were 6 siblings including my mom and, we would gather at someone’s house, have a potluck that looked like a grocery store exploded, and eat and laugh and enjoy being together.  My grandfather, the patriarch of the family, had 5 strong independent girls, but each of them placated him in his presence and allowed him to be “in charge”.  One holiday when I was 7, we had finished eating a smorgasbord of food and I ran to the table solely dedicated to desserts.  While my eyes widened, and I debated what treat to get, I settled on a piece of chocolate cake.  I loved chocolate cake, and I was going to get to be the first person to have a piece.  I carefully cut a piece being sure that there were clean lines never appearing a 7-year-old served herself and slid it on to my plate.  As I grabbed a fork, I heard my aunt standing behind me saying, “What have you done?  That was grandpas cake and he’s going to be so mad.”


I didn’t know.  I was shocked, embarrassed and horrified that I had done something wrong.  I always tried to play by the rules, to keep my head down and to make people happy, but this time, I just didn’t know.


Sitting here today I am shocked, embarrassed and horrified at the things I have learned.  I am horrified that my daughters still must be warned to not allow men to use their bodies as currency, shocked that my grandmother’s healthcare is contingent on a system that requires certain benevolence, and embarrassed at the way that we treat minorities. But there was a time, I just didn’t know.


We are each so ingrained by our lives and our needs that sometimes we all become numb and passive on the things that do not affect us.  As I gracefully accept being middle age, I can’t help but wonder at what point our arrogant ignorance just becomes flagrant passiveness.  At what point when we see women being harassed and objectified, and at what point are we watching black men and women in this country be targeted do we get to turn around and pretend it’s not happening.  Because it is happening.


It’s not a piece of chocolate cake at stake, it’s the hearts, the minds, and the soul of who we are at stake.  We can no longer claim that we “just didn’t know.”  I can’t help but feel the presence of Jesus standing behind me asking “What have you done?”  I fall humbly and say, “I didn’t know.”


But today, it’s time to know.

Anxiety Terrorism


When my youngest daughter was in Kindergarten, she began to do what she could to prepare for the life ahead of her.  While she was still to young to start a retirement plan (much to her dismay), she began to prepare for her future.  Looking around at her life she would put the pieces together always asking the question, “What if…?”  At times the questions were adorable, “What if we built a slide from my bedroom window down to the family room window so I wouldn’t have to go down the stairs in my old age?”  Ummm…no.  “What if we trained the dog to bring me medicine and Gatorade in case I get sick?”  Nice thinking, but…no.  And then the questions were darker, there was, “What if you and Dad die?  Where will I go?”  This simple question sparked a chain of events that included moments of her force feeding me vitamins and encouraging me to exercise.  And then we began “The List”.

I wanted her to know that she would be loved and cared for and, so I said, “If something horrible happens, Grandma and Grandpa will take care of you.”  My sweet baby girl replied with, “And what if they die?” And no matter what the next answer was, it was met with the question, “And what if they die?”  That day she wrote a list of people that would take care of her.  It was a list 30 people long that possibly included her kindergarten teacher (parenting is exhausting) and she kept The List posted on her wall…in her room.

Every day I saw the list posted on her wall like a proclamation, with comments and edits, and I would say “You don’t need to worry about this stuff.”  My words only added fuel to the fire of her anxiety.

It is always amazing how a sort of “nothing” can become an “everything”. It’s amazing how our joy can be robbed by our fear of the unknown.  Today, I am no different from my daughter when she was 5.  I find myself gridlocked in unimaginable questions.  “What if something happens to one of our kids?”  “What if I’m unable to pay my bills?” “What if our parents are horribly sick…or die?”  “What if my husband gets sick of my crap and walks out?”  What if??


Perhaps the enemy doesn’t need to take our car, or our house, or our kids, or our parents, or our spouse…maybe he just needs to make me ask “What if…”

Spiritual warfare may be more aptly stated…spiritual Terrorism.  Nothing has happened, and yet I sit here afraid.  God has been so gracious in comforting me, in providing for me and in showing up everyday.  So today, as I battle the “What if” questions, I pray that God meet me. Meet me in my brokenness, my sinfulness, and my jadedness.  Today I pray that the spiritual terrorism not have power over the blessings I know.

Today my “What If” list is about, God has repeatedly asked you to not worry.  (Proverbs 12:25, Psalms 56:3, Philippians 4:6) God is here.  He is all over the retirement plan.  He’s all over the plan for this moments today.  I’m broken…I’m scared, but….God’s got this.  Just breathe.

Dropping The Ball

When I was a little girl, I never did much care for the circus.  I’m not sure if it was the noise, the clowns, or the organic joy and happiness that I didn’t care for, but something about it just didn’t sit well with me.  I always felt that the elephants should be freed, the acrobats should update their wills, and how many clowns exactly do we need in ONE car??  There was just something about it that made me hide my face and just want it to be over.  However, there was one circus act that I loved watching.  I loved to watch the jugglers.  There was something rhythmic and skilled and silent about watching them throw balls into the air and catch them without ever letting one ball hit the ground.  Sometimes they would throw so many balls, so high in the air that they had 10, sometimes 12 balls soaring and landing in their hands with precision and the utmost delicacy.  It was almost like a dance until they caught them one by one, put them in their pockets and waved with a smile, took a bow, and left the ring.

My life hasn’t been that different than the jugglers really.  I have taken one ball at a time and began to orchestrate a delicate dance of throwing and catching life’s balls.  The dance soon included two balls…maybe a marriage…a baby…a job.  Soon the balls began to mount as growing financial concerns were at play, and now another baby was on the way, and hurtful and painful words were swirling around me.  I continued with athletic accuracy to catch each ball that was tossed to me and juggle.  Divorce, being single, dating, a very sick child, being an empty nester, feeling unworthy, marriage, college money, jobs, groceries, laundry, feelings of inadequacy, wanting so much to trust God but being afraid, aging parents, my kids friends, food, working out, exhaustion, always knowing the right thing to do, balls thrown at me left and right…catching them…throwing them in the air… And then crisis happens, and I hear the words, “Mom, I need you.”

In a single moment of crisis and clarity, simple words made me stop.  Truly stop for the first time in decades.  And I stood there in my own space and watched balls rain down from the sky and hit the ground with a crash.  Each one fell quicker and quicker and I began to panic, and in a last moment of trying to save the life as I knew It, I began to scramble and reach for the balls as they fell, and I didn’t catch one.

I stood surrounded by balls, some still bouncing, some rolling far away, but a sea of balls and I knew.  This must stop.

After agonizing days of silence, I have begun to pick up the pieces of my mess, so I reach down, pick up a ball, and I’m struck and silenced by what I see.  Each ball has a name on it, and some of these aren’t my balls to juggle.  I find myself scurrying around, digging and sorting through balls, finding names of people I know and love, of past hurts, of regrets, and more than anything else, I’m just finding the name of Jesus.  As I run around terrified because all the balls of dropped, I just keep seeing the name of Jesus.  Some of the balls are just not mine to juggle.

As I slowly begin to pick up a few random balls labeled “Michelle”, and so many of the ones I’ve left begin to roll and bounce away, I hear a voice.  That sweet voice of peace that passes all understanding tell me to pass Him the ball.  None of these are mine to juggle alone.  So today as we slowly reset, I’m continuing to pass the ball, and juggle, and pass the ball and juggle, and I know that I am not alone.