Tag Archives: Grief

Easter Changes Everything

Imagine how the friends of Jesus felt the day after His crucifixion. They were so sure He was the Messiah, the One sent to become their king and free them from Rome. He called Himself the Way, the Truth and the Life, yet in the reality of that moment, it looked like His “way” was to suffer brutal judgment and death!

Faith: the substance of things hoped for

IMG_2089Reality is sometimes rocks our faith and twists our beliefs with doubt and confusion. Perhaps you, too, have had a dream suddenly become a nightmare? Has your hope ever turned to despair? Maybe your future was looking bright but then crisis hit, confusion came or tensions arose and now you’re not sure what is true anymore.

I am a mother who has grieved the loss of a daughter and suffered the emotional turmoil of having a son ensnared in addiction. I know this dream-gone-bad feeling.

As difficult as life gets, the most painful seasons are the times when the truth gets twisted. Continue reading Easter Changes Everything

How the Beauty of Autumn can Help Us Survive Change

Change is hard.  In fact, most of us struggle with any major alterations in our lives. It is especially difficult when it’s unexpected, unwanted and we have not yet had to make extreme adjustments in our lives before. This is evident when we see how difficult this election has been for so many millennials.

Consider the first major change in your own life. Perhaps it was a change in schools, a move, a death or divorce that had you stressed about your future. Do you remember the fear, frustration or panic you may have felt? (If you are a Natural, then you don’t have to answer that because your calm and casual nature is very strong when it comes to Confidence Conflicts, but keep reading–and please share–because you are the girls who can help the rest of us with this.)

Having been brought up in a safe and secure family environment, my first few major changes only strengthened me for the devastation of my divorce. I remember moving into my parents basement pregnant and alone and having my mom (a Natural) remind me that I had been through other difficult times and I would make it through this, too.

img_3996When my baby died, it was my pastor who knelt at my rocking chair and reminded me that I would survive that extreme adjustment. I remember his words like yesterday, “Catrina, we are not human beings living a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings living a human experience.” I was still holding Rebecca in my arms when he told me to look outside at all the barren trees. “Their lifeless branches look dead, don’t they? But you know Spring will come again and those ugly, grey trees will once again bear their beauty. Imagine how scary it would be to watch the entire landscape around you loose it’s color and fall to the ground, withered and dried, if you had no idea that this was part of a cycle. Don’t allow the fear of your reality to keep you from the peace that comes with having faith in the future.”

When we believe there is life after death, that God is ultimately in control, that He is trustworthy, generous and kind; and that He knows what He is doing, it changes everything. Faith chases away fear.

Whether it’s the political changes that have you fearful, frustrated, or in a panic, or if it is your private life that is unsettled, I encourage you to look around at the extra-vibrant colors in our landscape this Autumn, and consider it a Holy Hug. God has surrounded us with evidence of His ability to make all things beautiful in His time. None of our drama is a surprise to Him. Let’s rest in this peace that surpasses all understanding and put all our nervous energy into enjoying the process. I don’t know about you, but I used to be blind to the beauty of Autumn for dread of the Winter. This year I find its beauty is only strengthening me for the barren season. I am up to the challenge and have high expectations for Spring and Summer to return once again in our Country and in my personal life.

Call me a fool, but I have seen God’s faithfulness too many times to doubt Him now. After all, when’s the last time you didn’t survive a change?

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.      –Romans 8: 37-19

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As an author and speaker, Catrina’s passion is in helping women and girls overcome confidence conflicts, especially those involving rejection, betrayal and loss. After 30 years in the beauty industry as both a cosmetologist and an image consultant, Catrina now uses her profession, her own powerful stories and her training as a Biblical life-coach to reach the heart in a way that is relatable, encouraging and inspiring. Her message is balanced with both fashion and faith and is making a difference  in the lives of women and girls all over!  To be part of this movement, connect with her on FacebookTwitter PinterestLinked In, Goodreads  and consider having her speak at your next event. Visit http://catrinawelch.com for more information.

 

3 Methods of Managing Stress Confidently

Summer is officially here. School’s out, kids are home, trips are being planned, company is coming… there’s more daylight in our busy days, so why not do more, right? As a Native Cape Codder, I always keep a bathing suit and towel in the trunk of my car during the summer–just in case there’s a moment between work and errands to grab some quick “beach therapy.” It doesn’t take long to get my “fix” a 10 minute walk or 20 minutes of gauzing on the beauty of our shores refuels my fire like nothing else.

How about you, how do you find peace when you are overwhelmed or stressed out?

Some women take charge.  Continue reading 3 Methods of Managing Stress Confidently

5 Lessons from a Boat Wreck

We were enjoying a beautiful brunch overlooking the deep Caribbean Sea when suddenly the cruise ship began to shake with the force of an unanticipated change in speed and direction. It seemed as though something was wrong, but as we looked around the other guests didn’t seem concerned.

“Is that a buoy out there?” I asked my husband regarding the rather large white object out in the middle of nowhere. “Perhaps we did have to make a turn after all.” That’s when the Captain’s voice came over the intercom telling us that we had just navigated around a boat wreck, that the Coast Guard had rescued all the passengers and that our voyage would continue as planned.

Yikes! We weren’t crazy, but I wanted to know the details! It was a beautiful, clear day, what on Earth caused a boat wreck? Was anyone hurt? What happens to that family now? Did they loose everything? Were they blaming each other, or were they celebrating their rescue?

Of course, without any involvement in the situation, there was no way to know. So we continued with our romantic get away.

let it go

If you have ever experienced a tragedy in life, you know how curious people get. It’s none of their business, but they want to know the details. This can be hard to accept when you are hurting, but it does no good to be offended by it. Nor does it help to be hurt when others continue with their lives while we are a wreck, because although they wonder (and may even talk about us), most people don’t know how to ask or get involved.

As I watched that big, white “buoy” sink into the deep blue sea, I couldn’t help but think that there is a lot we can learn from a boat wreck:

  1. It doesn’t matter what caused the problem, if you are taking on water, it’s time to deal with it.
  2. No matter whose fault it is, everyone onboard is affected, and it’s best to help each other.
  3. There is only so much you can do yourself, if you are starting to go under, it is time to call out for help.
  4. Forget about who is watching or how other vessels may be affected; they each have a captain, and he will get them back on their merry way. Deal with the important issues.
  5. Let it go. After you have done what you can, relinquish the regrets and results. You will always have your story to tell, but what was lost to the ocean floor should not have the power to control that which was not.

It’s not everyday that we enjoy the luxury of a cruise ship. But no matter how we are navigating the sea of life, it is important to remember that there is always a professional at the helm when we relinquish our will to God’s and we are wise not to panic, but to trust Him to get us back on course.

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As an author and speaker, Catrina’s passion is in helping women and girls overcome confidence conflicts, especially those involving rejection, betrayal and loss. After 30 years in the beauty industry as both a cosmetologist and an image consultant, Catrina now uses her profession, her own powerful stories and her training as a Biblical life-coach to reach the heart in a way that is relatable, encouraging and inspiring. Her message is balanced with both fashion and faith and is making a difference  in the lives of women and girls all over!  To be part of this movement, connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linked In, Goodreads and consider having her speak at your next event.

The Beauty of Easter

If you have ever had one, you know how all-consuming the pain can be. There are few things that can stop a woman in her tracks like a full-blown migraine. Of course, there are plenty of things that are all-consuming and do slow us down a lot. Like broken relationships, fear, rejection and the big one: any concern–no matter how small–for our children.

Through most of the challenges we face, even when we cannot smile or act as if we are okay, we do our best to keep going. (I may be a emotional mess at times, but seldom will I let my house become one!) Some physical or emotional pain can be pushed through; some pain, however, only intensifies when we try to push ourselves. (When I have a migraine, I don’t even care about the order of my house!)

headache-1428019-639x469Grief is like a migraine.

When any pain becomes so sever that you cannot function, you are wise to stop everything and give yourself some time to recover.

That is what the disciples did when Jesus died. Read through the end of the gospels and you will see how much of a mess they were; and why shouldn’t they be? All their hopes, dreams, beliefs and motives had just been crucified on that cross with the friend they were sure was about to become their king. Their future was now in shambles. Life had abruptly stopped for them. Continue reading The Beauty of Easter

How to Dress for Tragedies, Trials and Temptations

You have come to the top of a mountain peek; the only way to continue on your journey is to navigate your way down the steep slope and over to the next lift. You have three choices:

  1. Just do it.
  2. Take off your skis, walk back to the last lift and risk your life trying to get back on the chair that was designed to only be exited.
  3. Stand there in fear until you find the courage to choose 1 or 2.

This is much like the feeling we get whenever we face a major transition in our lives. I felt this way as a kid each time my family moved to a new location where I  had no friends. I felt it again during the my divorce and single-motherhood as well as throughout my son’s drug addiction and the death of my trisomy 18 baby. Continue reading How to Dress for Tragedies, Trials and Temptations

When Words Crush Your Spirit

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

Injuries can crush the body.

When someone strikes us, we hurt. The stronger our physical body, the less likely the damage, of course, but there is no question that sticks and stones can break our bones. And when we are injured, no one ever questions our need to take care of ourselves or to get the help we need. In fact, even strangers may jump up to assist the wounded with something that is obviously challenging (like opening a door for someone on crutches). Good people don’t treat an injured person like a weakling or misfit. They see our cast, bandage or sling and it’s obvious  we have been hurt, but seldom will they label us a “reject,” “basket case,” “disturbed,” or “emo” like they do when words (or actions) inflict our heart and leaves us  emotionally wounded.

Broken bones seldom become a person’s identity because we all know these injuries don’t last forever. Emotional wounds, however can easily become our identity because we are less apt to nurture them into healing properly and they become an intricate part of who we are.

It is foolish to keep doing things that intensify any injury (or sickness), whether it is physical or emotional. Yet most of us tend to care for a physical wound with love and attention while we dismiss emotional wounds as if they are shallow, immature or self-centered. Any wound  that is well cared for will heal far better than one neglected or provoked, yet we easily accept our broken heart as our new identification.

When I broke my back in 1999 I had two small children at home and often felt it was “necessary” to do what the doctor had ordered me not to (like lifting my toddler), and when I did, it set back my healing. That’s the thing with a physical injury: it doesn’t go away, it “speaks up” and makes us deal with it no matter how hard we try to deny that it hurts.

Emotional wounds “speak up,” too.

My physical injury happened only six weeks after my daughter’s death. I had not healed from the emotional injury that grief had inflicted on my heart. For awhile I was pretty much bedridden and dependent on others. It was very difficult to be so needy, but the physical rest was part of my emotional healing. Instead of staying busy and avoiding the issues of my heart I was restricted with lots of time to think, cry and pray. My physical neediness also gave others reason to come and help me and that, too, brought healing to my heart.

Words can crush the spirit.

Emotional wounds aren’t always as intense as grief (just as physical wounds may be as simple as a paper cut) but they still need to be dealt with. Perhaps you have been called fat, ugly, stupid, slow, (or whatever!) and you feel embarrassed that such a simple thing hurt you.

Even small insults, like paper cuts, need to be washed, or they may get infected.

IMG_1563.JPGWhen someone hurts us as children we run to mom and cry on her shoulder. She hugs us and tells us the words are wrong and that she loves us just the way we are. And she means it, because we are a part of her. So we believe her words over the insults and our heart survives. Of course, if she does not have a healthy self-image, she may not be capable of helping us with our’s and if we have no one to help us wash the wound, we may accept those words as truth.

My mom helped me a lot in 1999 as did all of my (and my husband’s) family of origin as well as our family of faith. They made meals, did errands, changed diapers and, most of all, they cared. Even when their words were awkward, their actions helped me believe the Word of God, and that was the key to the survival of my crushed spirit.

If you feel wounded or crushed, I encourage you to take some time to heal. You are not alone. Let others help you and let their concern (even if it’s awkward) speak to your heart. Most of all, cast all your cares on the One who cares for you. Tell God how you feel and ask Him what He thinks of you. Don’t get distracted by the “necessary” until you have heard His answer and then believe His Word over anyone else’s because you were created in His image and there is no greater love than His. 

No One Should Experience Devastation Feeling Invisible

Every one of us has felt invisible at some point in our lives or another. Whether it was at a party full of strangers, in the middle of the grocery store or in the privacy of our own home when our brothers got all the attention or our husband is distracted.Our lives may center around our needs and desires but not everyone else’s does and unfortunately that can be a difficult reality.

We all want to be seen, but it’s not just about image.

We feel invisible when our words, works or worth is not perceived as valuable. Which, of course, is complicated because our perception is filtered by our love language. For example, if we desire words of affirmation yet no one speaks up, we may feel worthless even if we are given a gift of gratitude.

Allow me to go back to the example of Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb (last week’s blog). When John tells this story in chapter 20, he doesn’t mention the other women who were with her. The other gospels do. I can’t help but wonder if Mary’s friends were invisible to John?

Consider this with me:

John must have been a sensitive man. His gospel is full of stories about relationships and the heart of the people involved. Do you think that perhaps John references only Mary because she was the one he connected with? Maybe they spoke the same love language. Maybe they were both sensitive. Maybe John just couldn’t relate to the other women. Perhaps they stuffed their feelings and he wasn’t even aware of how much of what he was going through was affecting them too.

I’m not sure why John doesn’t mention Mary Magdalene’s girlfriends, but they were there because Matthew and Mark refer to the “women” of the same story and Luke records the names of some of them.

Luke 24:10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles.
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coffee-830422_640Have you ever been left out of a story or treated as if you were not part of something significant? I have, and it used to bother me a lot until I realized that I do the same thing to others. Just the other day I bought a coffee at a drive-through and as I drove away it dawned on me that I was so pre-occupied in my mind that if someone were to ask me to describe the window server I wouldn’t be able to. Not because the server was invisible, but  because I was blinded by my own self-obsessed nature. Most often it’s our own issues that keep us from connecting with others.

We recognize and remember those who we connect with.

When my husband and I lost our daughter we made a conscious effort to allow each other to deal with the grief in our own ways. We had been told that 90% of couples who lose a child end up divorced and with the way our coping mechanisms would fluctuate we realized how hard it is to see each other’s heart when our own is so broken. But dealing with a crisis is enough; how foolish it is to become offended by the people we need so desperately. I believe our decision to BE and LET BE is the reason our marriage not only survived but was also strengthened.

Our connection to one another’s pain not only increased our intimacy, but it also opened our eyes to all the invisible people whose lives were also affected by the loss of our child. It wasn’t all about us.

We were all in this life together and together we can make it through.

If you are in the midst of a crisis, I encourage you to become aware of those around you. It may be obvious that other people are hurting, like you are; connect with them, encourage them and allow them to encourage you. Others may be less demonstrative and may be stuffing their pain or trying to be strong for you; acknowledge them, appreciate them. Allow their strength to sustain you, but also allow them to be weak in a moment when you do have strength and enjoy the experience of true connection.

for more information, visit me at www.CatrinaWelch.com

3 Ways to Handle Life’s Devastations

One thing that  never ceases to amaze me is how many life lessons suddenly appear whenever there is something to teach.
“when the student is ready, the teacher will appear”
“Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”   James 3:1
My husband and I were speaking about some of the encounters Jesus’s had with people who knew Him but did not recognize Him after His death and resurrection. We spent a number of weeks studying why His friends were blind to His identity even as they spoke face to face with Him. During that time of studying we had a number of life experiences that opened our eyes to how blinded we, as humans, can be when we are in the mist of turmoil.
  • A young man facing the loss of his job, trying desperately to get others to fix the problem he created.
  • One young girl panicking over which of her friends’ expectation she should carry out, unable to understand the very logical answer she was advised by several others.
  • A teen trying everything she could think of–lying, faking, manipulating, denying– to get out of going to summer school.
  • Another desperately trying to fix last year’s grades with excessive studying for her make-up class, while trying to hide that she was taking it.
  • Two young ladies feeling compelled to give up on life because of the rejection of friends / break up with boyfriend, and then struggling with the shame for having that desire.
When things go wrong and our world is rocked, it is natural to try to regain control. I’ve been there myself:
  • girl-690327_640When I moved three times in my Junior year of High School, I shut down emotionally to protect my heart from losing more friendships.
  • When my first husband left me while pregnant, I tried everything I knew to regain his love.
  • When the doctors said my baby would not live, I tried to deny the reality of the situation.
  • When my son got involved with drugs, I tried every method I could to fix him.
Some problems in life are simply difficult to deal with. When our world is rocked and we don’t know what to do, we have three choices:
  1. We can deny what is going on, or at least the intensity of it.
  2. We can become get completely consumed with our problem.
  3. We can do everything we are responsible for and relinquish control of the rest.
It seems to me that most of us dart back and forth between the first two options until we get to the point of “overload” and then our bodies, mind, emotion and/or spirit shuts down. Like a smart phone with too many apps open, we simply cannot function well under too much stress.
I believe that is why Mary Magdalene stood crying at the empty tomb of Jesus, wanting to find  His body even after hearing from angels that He was alive. And this was after she had already told the disciples that He was alive!
I think when devastation hits us hard we sometimes go through the motions of what we believe in our minds. We may even tell others the powerful truth of what we believe but until we slow down (and shut down all the apps!) we cannot see that our faith may actually contains the answer to our problems. Look at how Mary was stressed out over the very thing that she should have been rejoicing over:
John 20:10-16 Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.”Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).
I haven’t stopped trying to control my own problems, by any means, but if I have learned anything from them it is this: the challenges we face bring the things we believe from our head to our heart and the more we believe that God can make all things beautiful in His time, the more apt we are to stop dashing between option one and two. Choosing option 3 does not fix our problems but it does help us find peace enough to go on with confidence.
If you are enduring a devastating time of your life, I encourage you to do as Mary did, look to Jesus and ask Him what is going on and tell Him what you want to do. Then listen for your name. He knows your personally, He understands all the details of your problem, and He has the answers. Life may not be what you expected; God knows I did not want my baby to die or my son to choose drugs! But I want to respond like Mary did, “Rabboni!” and I can because I, too, see Him as my teacher. 
“God, help us to see you, hear you and know in our hearts that you are good, no matter how devastating our lives may look right now. Use this difficult time in our lives to teach us, mold us into stronger, more Christ-like people as we choose to trust you. Amen.”

Don’t Get Sucked Down the Drain of Depression

Physical pain is an infliction on the psyche as much as it is a debilitation to the lifestyle. Disappointment in one’s own restricted abilities can create an internal confidence conflict that is hard to shake. I’m sure you have had an experience where an injury not only kept you from doing something, but also nag at you with thoughts of inadequacy with each painful move.

Recently I had to retire from my first love: cosmetology. I’ve developed tendinosis, a degeneration of the tendons in my right shoulder and arm. Sharp, gnawing pain has been chanting the lyrics of one of my dad’s silly song in my mind repeatedly. Have I really become “old, tiered, bent and busted”?

I try to make my weakness no big deal. I’m just injured. Maybe it’s simply time I focus more on my new love: writing and speaking. The thing is, my pain put me in an emotional funk, making it hard to focus at all. I allowed my discouragement to rule my thoughts. When your body is screaming at you to focus on pain, you do.

That may be a logical requirement for healing, but I was battling that logic. To some of us women, it feels more like selfishness to care for ourselves than it does to become discouraged and needy. This confusion can send us on an emotional spiral–like the water being sucked down a drain–into a deep depression.

Don't get sucked down the drain of depression

If there is anything I learned with the loss of my daughter, it is:

Stop the spiral, quick!

 

Which, of course, is a lot easier said than done. In fact, I cannot even imagine how to plug the drain of depression without either shutting off all emotion or getting help. For me and my husband, it was only by the power of prayer and the support of each other that we learned to redirect our thinking in order to stay away from the drain. Grief has its challenges because the thoughts that begin to “suck you in” are often beautiful memories and changing them feels like disloyalty to the one we love. I guess that’s where our faith came in. We believe God cares and that His plan is perfect even though we do not understand, which makes it easier for us to turn our memories toward thankfulness instead of bitterness. But that’s a blog for another day.

basin-248640_640

 

When it comes to injury and pain management, it’s a different ball game–or shall I say: sink.

 

You may remember from the blog about my embarrassing fall, that I am learning the balance between being desolate and demanding. I don’t want to be the girl who doesn’t care for herself at all; disrespect of self only breeds rejection. Neither do I want to be the girl (ok, getting-old-lady…) who expects everyone else to understand, care about and meet my needs and desires. I am responsible to take care of myself and when there are times I need assistance with what I cannot do, then I need to to request (and allow!) help without whining, manipulating or demanding; this breeds respect. 

The thing is, I’m still learning to take responsibility for my emotions as well as my physical needs.

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23

Last night I threw a party for my girlfriends. I found this great new line of cosmetics, and I wanted them to experience the fiber lashes. Our time together totally lifted my heart out of the drain. My injury hadn’t only caused my early retirement, it also changed my 30-year identity, took my spending money and worst of all: my girlfriend time! No wonder I have been in such a funk.

I know some of us (typically Dramatics, Ingénues and Gamines) need social events more than others (Romantics, Naturals, Classics) but we all need girlfriend time! 

If you are feeling down and drained today, explore your heart and consider what you may need to fell joy again. Perhaps you, too, need to throw a party and focus on spoiling others for a change. Or maybe it’s time you spoil yourself. If you find respite in a walk on the beach, excitement in a competitive game, satisfaction in creating something beautiful, or fulfillment in simply being heard, then make the time to care for your needs–emotionally and physically. Remember:

If mamma’ ain’t happpy, ain’t nobody happy!

Taking care of you is actually selfless and makes you will be better able to take care of those who need you.

for more information, visit me at www.CatrinaWelch.com