Personal Stories

Personal stories of struggles, thoughts, and reflections on faith and/or mental illness

Cultivating a Thankful Heart

Cultivating a Thankful Heart during Hard Times

I’m especially thankful for my family. We have been through a lot together and we have had (and still have) more than our share of hardships, but those hardships have bonded us together like glue, and not just any ordinary glue—it’s a Crazy Glue kind of bond. There is very little that can separate us—we’ve already been through the fire and survived.

You are Loved, Small-Town Girl at Heart

You are Loved

Imagine reading the words, “You were created to be loved,” at a time when you feel like nobody loves you. Then imagine hearing a whisper in your ear, “Lovely child, I love you,” after spending years believing the lie that not even God loves you because of who you are. How would those words make …

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Be Still_Finding Peace in Times of Trouble_Small-Town Girl at Heart

Be Still: Finding Peace in Times of Trouble

A little more than three weeks ago, I had a panic attack as the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic pressed down on me. Prior to this, I hadn’t given the pandemic much thought. The lockdowns haven’t inconvenienced me all that much since I’d already been working from home when businesses started closing down. On top of that, I’m an introvert, so staying at home for extended periods of time doesn’t bother me at all. In fact, being ordered to stay home has taken off all the pressure of feeling like I need to get out and be social. This is an introvert’s dream come true!

However, the reality of the pandemic hit me fully when I joined an online discussion about the impacts of the pandemic in people’s lives. I started listing my own concerns and worries about how the pandemic is affecting my family and friends, people in my community, and small businesses in my city. Up until this point, I had been maintaining a positive outlook on the situation, but then fear took hold of me, dragging me beneath its black waves.

I started to panic. It wasn’t a full-on panic attack like I’d had in the past, but my heart rate increased, my breathing became heavy, my muscles tensed and I started to cry. I became paralyzed with fear much like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming vehicle. I spent the next three days grappling with my fear, disappointed with myself for opening the door a crack and letting fear get a foothold. I knew from prior experience that once fear sticks its foot in the door, it’s nearly impossible to shut it out again.

The Stress Monster Cover

The Stress Monster

Do you remember the opening scene in Star Wars: A New Hope when Darth Vader grips a crewmember aboard Princess Leia’s ship in a chokehold as he asks questions about where the transmission with the Death Star plans are? Stress is very much like Darth Vader’s chokehold; it grabs you by surprise, constricting your airways, as you struggle to breathe. It’s in your best interest to get out of that chokehold as soon as possible before the lack of airflow to your brain causes serious damage to your body or even death in extreme cases.

The first time I encountered real, air-constricting stress in my mid-twenties, I didn’t even recognize it for what it was. I had been in stressful situations before throughout high school, university and my job in a coffee shop, but I was always able to move on from the stressful situation and life would go back to normal like nothing had ever happened. Sometimes the stressful situation would be memorialized in my journal, but the act of writing it down seemed to calm my nerves and return my body back to a state of peace.

Not this time, however. I was working in my first office job as an administrative assistant and the demands of each day had been piling up on my shoulders for weeks now. I started experiencing tightness in my chest and difficulty breathing and I didn’t understand why. I had asthma, but I wasn’t having an asthma attack. This felt different, like there was a tight band squeezing me breathless as if I was a lemon.

Finally, one day I couldn’t stand it anymore and asked my mom to take me to the hospital…

Stuck on a Crazy Train_Small-Town Girl at Heart

Stuck on a Crazy Train

Originally Published: March 22, 2020 Revised: January 22, 2021 There’s a song by Ozzy Osbourne with a line in the chorus that goes, “I’m going off the rails on a crazy train.” For about a year and a half, I felt like this song described my life. I was stuck on a crazy train of …

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Not An All Weather Road Sign

Not an All Weather Road

I have always had an explorative spirit, although it has simmered down a little over the years because my husband, “Teddy,” doesn’t care to explore. He grew up in the city all his life and never had the privilege of living a carefree life in the country where there was a vast terrain to explore. When we started dating almost nine years ago, I wanted to share with him my love for the country so that he could fall in love with it, too. He had had no idea what he was agreeing to when I proposed going on an adventure on our first summer together.

One weekend, we hopped on our bikes and rode them out of town. That day, the wind gusts exceeded fifty kilometers per hour from the south and it was hard to pedal against the wind. The original plan had been to bike south, but I decided to turn east instead. At first the gravel road was sheltered by trees surrounding a farmyard, but once we emerged past the shelter belt, the crosswind pelted against us and we had to lean into the crosswind to keep from being knocked over like bowling pins.

A little over a mile later, we saw a yellow sign at the side of the road that stated, “Not an All Weather Road.” Shortly after that, the gravel road suddenly ended. We stopped our bikes and looked out at the dirt road stretching on ahead…

A New Year To Be_Small-Town Girl at Heart

A New Year to Be

Originally Published: December 29, 2019 Revised: December 30, 2020 It’s that time of year when we take some time to look back on what we accomplished in the past year and to plan what we will accomplish in the next year. It’s often a time of disappointment when we realize we didn’t strike off nearly …

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