Why "71º & Sunny?"

I consider 71º to be the perfect temperature. Not too cold and not too hot. I also love perfect sunny days. The vast majority of days are not 71º & Sunny and yet, all days were created by God's hand and they are still gifts, even if they don't fit my ridiculous definition of perfection. My struggle with OCD has at times imprisoned me in an impossible attempt to achieve perfection. I'm now learning to love all kinds of days that don't even come close to 71º & Sunny.

Please leave me a comment below. I really want to know what you are thinking!

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Fighting Fear at 50

Fresh from the mandatory shower, I stood there shivering, suddenly engulfed with that familiar stabbing pain of being the last kid to get picked for the school sports team. I was embarrassed by my ill-fitting swimsuit that loosely draped my body due to recent weight loss. My new swimsuit was stuck in shipping no-man's land and I didn't want to wait for its arrival to go to the pool. After all, 50 years is long enough to wait, don't you think? The revelation minutes earlier that school swim teams would be practicing in the same pool as middle-aged, out of shape me, created deep second thoughts about whether I should turn around and go home. But I was already there. And the determination to practice what was being taught to me in weekly swim lessons was stronger than the fear. Sort of.

So there I stood last Thursday evening. Just waiting for the one lane that would open at 7pm, when the the high school swim team took over from the younger ones. The one lane. Yeah, that one: The first one in front of the bleachers where the parents sat to watch their aspiring athletes. Strange looks from a few kids and parents did nothing to encourage me. And then it was 7pm. So I mustered my best fake confidence, marched in front of the remaining parents who stayed to watch the teens, and got in the pool. Show time.

Tools of the Trade
And I did it. I swam across (almost) the length of the Olympic size pool. Arms flailing, feet kicking in random, uneven patterns, and gasping for air. It was choppy from all the many future Michael Phelps' slicing through the water in the lanes next to me. Their happy screams and the gurgle of water bubbling overwhelmed my senses. Head in water, blow out through nose. Heat out, grab at the air. Head in, head out. After that long first journey to the other side of the pool, I waited 3 or 4 minutes to recover, then attempted it again. And again. And again.

Next thing I knew, it was 30 minutes later, and I found myself walking to my locker with a smile forming on my face. Though exhausted and slightly dizzy from the lack of oxygen, I was thrilled. Accomplished. And it confirmed, once again, everything I know about walking through life as a Christ follower with OCD. It's ok to feel fear. It's not ok to let it control me. With my Lord and the ERP treatment He graciously brought to my life, I'm able to do things I never thought possible. But then I guess rescuing humanity from the grave is kind of an impossible thing too. But God did it. He wants to rescue everyone. You can accept His free gift right now. Don't let fear get in the way.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.  
                                                                     Isaiah 41:10 NIV

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Angry At God

I started ERP (Exposure and Response Prevention) therapy in the Fall of 2009. My OCD was incredibly severe at that point, but I had no idea how bad until I stopped avoiding (everything) and started facing my fears through ERP. I was absolutely outraged that I had to go through the pain of ERP to get better from an agonizing illness that I never wanted or asked for. And I mean outraged. There were a few times when I would randomly explode in a fit of anger and scream at my poor husband, “This is not fair! I don’t deserve this! Other people don’t have to go through this type of torment to get better from an illness!!” (Uh, not exactly true...) And I would literally have a 2 year old’s temper tantrum. Fists pounding on the floor and all.

A blend of fury and feelings of abandonment led me to an extremely dark place. I could not begin to understand how He could let me, a longtime dedicated Christ follower, fall down such a deep hole of pain and loneliness. There was a period of a few weeks when the OCD was at its worst and I barely moved from the couch, paralyzed with anxious fear while begging God with each agonizing breath to, “Please, please take me!” Though I did start to see improvement with the OCD over the next couple of months, I was holding a grudge against God. It was not so easy to let go of the pain and the fact that I thought He just abandoned me to it. I considered walking away from Him and I seriously contemplated it for a few months. It scared me.

I knew I was spiritually in trouble, so I went to go see one of the pastors at my church who had suffered the loss of both of his children. You read that right-both of his precious children. His children were each born with Duchenne Muscular Distrophy and he and his wife watched their beautiful boys become less and less able to do things physically until their bodies finally gave out at young adulthood. Their bodies gave out but oh, their faith never did! Their dad was the person I needed to talk to.

So I did. And the first thing I said to him was, “I’m afraid to cause you more pain. But I have a question for you.” Without hesitation he said, “Go ahead. Ask your question.” Warily I asked, “How do you get up every day? How do you even possibly go on?” “Because I truly believe what the Bible says.” He went on to explain more about how God has helped his family though it all, but his first sentence is what stuck with me, even now, all these years later. Though he was certainly not accusing me of not having enough faith, I did start to wonder myself. But I think what I actually had was a misunderstanding of my God. After more discussion and lots of tears, my pastor sent me home with a book recommendation:  If God Is Good by Randy Alcorn.

It was not an easy book to read, for a lot of reasons. But it opened my eyes to suffering in the world and the reasons that God allows it. The book talked about many people who have suffered and their perspective on God working in their lives both through and in spite, of their suffering. It was eye opening. In fact, it was a game changer for me.

I want to be clear-I am talking about my situation. My experience and what I feel that God has said to me. I’ve come to the conclusion that God allowed OCD in my life for a good purpose. First, I know that I have a tendency to wander from Him. And what I finally really came to fully understand in the Winter of 2016-17 (yes, I’m a very slow learner) is how incredibly deeply God loves me. Deep enough that He will use whatever He must, to keep me close. And I can’t begin to tell you how thankful I am for that. Yes, thankful (most of the time!). I also believe He allowed the OCD to give me sympathy and empathy for others in a way that I never would have had otherwise. He’s also allowed it in my life so that I could offer comfort, support, and hope to others. And I know there are more reasons.

After reading that book, I knew I had to stop sitting on the fence. I either had to walk away from God for good, or re-commit to Him and follow on despite what life threw at me. In the end, I couldn’t walk away. I just couldn’t. I decided that I was going to be in pain no matter what, and I thought it would be much better to walk in pain with the Lord at my side, than go through it without Him. And the following winter, about 9 months later, one of the most horrifying things possible did happen. I almost lost my husband to a devastating bout of Crohn's Disease. What a terrible time it was. I spent the month of December, 2010, walking around in a mental maze of fog. I literally did not know if I was coming or going. I didn't know if my husband would be permanently disabled or be able to work again, if he even lived. (Thankfully, he is in deep remission!)

There have continued to be painful situations since then. Because of a very difficult circumstance, I went through the deepest depression ever from 2015-17. Even today I still struggle with a milder form of that depression. Though, gratefully, I have quite a bit of control over the OCD. Not complaining about that! [I also want to mention that there is much hope for you if you suffer from severe OCD, anxiety, or depression. Things are much, much better than they used to be for me. I'm working almost full time hours at a challenging job and doing quite well. Like anything else, there is a learning curve to living with mental health issues. There really is tremendous hope.]

I'm at an interesting place in my life now. I feel like I've been through a war and have come out a bit tired and weary, but nonetheless victorious in a lot of ways. I'm definitely wiser. I've been humbled. I'm a bit more cynical about the world, if I'm honest. But I'm still holding on to Jesus. I know this is a forever relationship. I know He loves me. More than I can possibly understand. I know that the pain in my life has never been wasted. I also know that I'll never be the poster-child for Christian faith. I'm a "messy Christian." I don't pray as often as I should, or read the Bible like I should. There are a lot of "shoulds" that I don't do right. I make mistakes all the time. But I do understand a bit more. I understand that my relationship with God is only there because of Him. Not because of me.

Saturday, January 27, 2018


OCD IS a crisis. Yes, it really is. If someone you know or love is living with ocd, they are in a crisis. They need help. Now. You need to help them get help. They need your support. Your understanding. They need you to get educated. You can start by reading these two books:  Freedom from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and When a Family Member Has OCD. They need you to help them find appropriate ERP therapy (much harder to find than you think). The treatment is expensive. They need you to be ok with that. They need you to encourage them to get therapy or go away to a center, if necessary. They maybe even need you to help them with their therapy homework. They need you to (kindly! and slowly), reduce enabling. They need you to not say, “Just stop!” or “It’s all in your head!” Don’t tell them they are weird or crazy. They aren’t. They’re ill. If someone you care about has ocd and they tell you they are not doing well, believe them. Help them get help. If someone you cared about needed a special surgery or a transplant, they would be in crisis and you would do anything to help them, right? OCD IS a crisis.

And if you’re the one with OCD, I wrote this for you to show to your friends and family. God bless.

Monday, April 10, 2017

"No One Said Hard Was Impossible"

"No one said hard was impossible." Six very wise words shared by a fellow OCD warrior.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Something For Scrupulosity Sufferers To Consider

Recently someone shared this with me:

"God loves me when I pray and read my Bible. And when I don't pray and read my Bible, God loves me."

Hmmmm. Something those of us with scrupulosity might want to consider . . .

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Monique's Holiday Anxiety Survival Skills

Cast all your anxiety on Him because
He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 NIV
1. Don't hang on to expectations of how the holidays "should" be;
2. Remember that anticipatory anxiety is almost always worse than the actual event;
3. Look at the holidays as a time for personal growth and to experiment with your coping skills;
4. Practice mindfulness. Really look at the decorations and appreciate their beauty. Breathe in the scent of the pine or the food or even Aunt Mildred's perfume! Sing along with your favorite holiday tune. Savor the taste of that awesome dessert;
5. Talk to someone and focus on them intently. Really listen. How are they? Could they use a little encouragement? A little support? Be there for them;
6. Contamination OCD can be tough at the holidays with so many people wanting to hug us at get-togethers. Instead of focusing on the "germs," focus on the actual hug and how good it is to have a little human touch;
7. Remember that this time period will pass pretty quickly and before you know it, we'll be back to our regular routines;
8. Hang on to God with all your might - He will get you through this time if it is a difficult one for you; and
9. Lastly, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 NIV 
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 NIV 

I have a little bit of a healthy
obsession with nutcrackers!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

No, I Haven't Fallen Off The Face Of The Earth!

Hello friends! I know, it's been a loooooong time. I've recently been through a pretty rough patch, but I think I'm finally starting to come out of it. This time, it was depression that got me down, rather than OCD. As I'm slowly coming out of the fog, so to speak, I'm hoping to share some things that I've discovered along my latest journey. It will probably take a little while for me to formulate thoughts about my experience and then share them with you. There are however, a couple things that I've been reminded about recently, that are so obvious to even me, that I can share them with you right now:

1. God is still and always has been in control;
2. God loves you and me and always has;
3. He really does want the best for us;
4. In spite of some intense pain in my life, I still have a lot to be thankful for;
5. Pain is a a great teacher (though an unwelcome one); and
6. No matter how bad things seem today, it certainly doesn't mean they will be this bad tomorrow, next week, or next year.

If you are suffering, please, please know that God does care and He does listen. Even when it seems that He doesn't (and believe me, I've been there too).

God's love and blessings to you.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3 NIV