Last night I accompanied my daughters to the Secret Keeper Girl Masterpiece World Tour in Jonesboro, Georgia.  It was phenomenal.  If you have the opportunity to go, please do.  My daughters are seven.  They are just at the brink of the “tween” age when their friends are beginning to question their value and beauty.  We have already had several conversations about where their worth comes from and that their heart is their most beautiful part because Jesus lives there.  My daughters are precious, loving souls in their own right.  Both have been recognized this year for being an example of positive character traits that had to do with accepting and loving others.  They love people regardless.  I love that about them.

While talking with the young girls last night, Dannah Gresh, creator of Secret Keeper Girl, also addressed us as moms on several occasions.  However, one time really spoke to me.  She spoke about how we are masterpieces created by God.  She began with discussing creation and how each day God declared His creation on that day was “good.”  When he created Adam and Eve He declared it “very good.”  God was proud of His greatest creation: us.  We admire God’s creation and often see God through nature.  How can we look at His creation that He called “good” and yet not also admire His masterpiece that he called “very good?”  How can we tell Him though our words and actions that His masterpiece is not exactly that?

As a girl I was teased mercilessly for a variety of reasons with regards to my physical body: too tall, glasses, curly hair, weight…  It never seemed to end.  This has affected me into adulthood.  My physical appearance is still a source of embarrassment for me and contributes significantly to my chronic low self-esteem.  I avoid mirrors whenever possible.  I put myself in the back of pictures (being tall is a benefit there.)  I have no problem telling my daughters that they are gorgeous masterpieces.  Why do I have a hard time telling myself?

That is where God really spoke through Dannah Gresh last night.  She told the mothers that this idea is caught better than taught.  Ouch.  In other words, my daughters will learn it from my actions more than they will learn it through my words to them.  Toes officially stepped on.  That rang in my head and heart the rest of the night.

This morning, my pastor was talking about the events of Palm Sunday and how the people praised Jesus as He was coming into Jerusalem.  However, the stark reality is that just days later, those same people shouting “Hosanna” in the streets and laying palm branches at His feet will be calling for His death.  As we participated in communion today, the events of the last 24 hours of Jesus’ earthly life kept coming to mind.  The betrayal by His disciple.  Peter denying Him three times.  Being whipped and beaten almost to death.  The farce of a trial.  Crucifixion.  Being ridiculed.  The crown of thorns.  Taking the sin of all the world of all time on Himself.  Separation from His Father.  Being totally disconnected from His Father that is truly part of Himself.

After all that He has done for me, how dare I tell God that He messed up when He made me?  How dare I complain about my height?  How dare I talk about my body as if He made a mistake?  How dare I not do all I can to take care of His masterpiece: physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally?

I am glad I have some time off of work next week.  I have some getting right with God to do.  I have some apologizing to do.  Mostly, I have some thinking to change.  I know it will not be a one-time thing.  It will be a daily, and most likely hourly, surrender.  After all He has done for me, how can I do any less?

“For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalms 139:13-14 (ESV)


It’s the Most Anxious Time of the Year


Christmas marks the time of the year where my anxiety and depression are at a peak.  I have not been able to pinpoint an exact reason why, but have figured out several contributing factors.  While considering these, this song came to mind.  My mother used to play the Andy Williams version every Christmas.  So, I took some liberties and wrote my own version.


It’s the Most Anxious Time of the Year

(based on “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and with my apologies to Andy Williams)


It’s the most anxious time of the year.

With kids fussing and yelling,

And everyone telling you be of good cheer

It’s the most anxious time of the year.


It’s the cra-craziest season of all

With those holiday parties

And loud Christmas concerts

With strangers around.

It’s the cra-craziest season of all.


There’ll be presents for buying

And children are crying

And darkness all around.

There’ll be crowds in the mall.

My bank account’s small

And shrinking fast as we go.


It’s the most anxious time of the year.

My calendar’s filling

And creditors billing

As more family comes here.

It’s the most anxious time of the year.


There’ll be presents for buying

And now I am crying

And crowds are closing in.

There’ll be cars in the parking lot

Trying to find a spot

And rudeness everywhere.


It’s the most anxious time of the year.

But the kids will be smiling

And hearts will be showing

The love of the King.

It’s the most wonderful time

Yes, the most wonderful time

Oh, the most wonderful time

Of the year.


An Open Letter to Mandisa


I feel God leading me to write another open letter to a celebrity that has impacted my life.  I wrote one a few years ago to Michael W. Smith about the way he eased a difficult time in my life.  Now, I need to write another…


Dear Mandisa,

First, let me say that I have been a fan since seeing you on one of the few seasons of American Idol that I actually watched.  I have cheered on Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and you.

The main reason I am writing is to say thank you.  Your music pulled me through a very dark time in my life.  I have written on my blog about my depression, but I have never thanked you personally.

I had known I would be a teacher in some form my entire life.  My sister found something I wrote in the first grade saying I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up.  Generations of my mother’s family before me had been teachers.  Unfortunately, my mother passed away exactly one year before I began my first teaching job.  She did not get to see me graduate with my Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education with honors from her alma mater.  She did not get to help me set up my first classroom.  She did not get to help me pick out my first day of school outfit.  However, I still felt her with me each year.  One small way I knew she was there was that each year I have had some form of the name Catherine in my class – Mom’s first name.

Fourteen years into my career, things got turned upside down.  I was told I was a terrible teacher by an administrator.  I was the only full-time income in my house since my husband was staying home with our then two-year-old twin daughters.  Our 10-year-old son was a student at the school where I taught.  In hindsight, I was probably still dealing with post-partum depression that had turned into general depression and daily panic attacks.  However, I was devastated and terrified of not being able to provide for my family.

Then the real blow happened.  An administrator told me that my students “deserved better.”  She meant that they deserved better than my depressed state and was trying to encourage me to seek help.  However, in my mental state at the time, I took it to mean that they deserved better than me.  The next morning, in the midst of a severe panic attack, Satan took that phrase and convinced me that my husband and children also deserved better.  In fact, my brain told me, they would all be better off if you were not here, so just end your life.

The blessing was that Jesus gave me the clarity to call my best friend.  She talked to me while I got ready for work and the entire drive in.  When I told her I was in my classroom and she knew I would be fine, she hung up with me and called my husband to let him know what had happened.  By the time I got home that afternoon he had scheduled an appointment with a Christian counselor.

The rest of that school year was an hour by hour fight with my depression and, it felt to me, for my sanity.  During this very dark time I would listen to your music all the way in to school and until my first class arrived.  I would listen again during my lunch time.  Your music gave me hope and the strength to make it through a few more hours.  Mostly, I listened to your Overcomer CD.  I would literally turn on the CD, put my head on my desk, cry and pray “Help me, Jesus.”

Three years later, I am seven weeks from finishing my seventeenth year teaching.  My daughters are now in school with me and my son is finishing middle school.  New administration values my teaching experience and expertise.  My depression and anxiety are pretty well controlled with counseling and medication.  However, your music still holds a very special place in my heart.  Satan sometimes creeps back into my head with thoughts of how things would be easier if I would just end my life, but I quote Scripture, and some Mandisa lyrics!

A few weeks ago my daughters and I were driving to school when you came on the J93.3 The Joy FM in Atlanta.  My girls recognized your name and started singing Overcomer!  I was shocked to hear that you had also been battling depression, and even during the time I had been battling the same thing!  Knowing that, I felt it was time to tell you how much your music had helped me through.

Mandisa, God used your music to pull me away from the edge of suicide.  Looking at my children, both personal and in my classroom, it saddens me to realize how close I was to that terrible mistake.  Thank you for the part you played in my endurance and healing.  Thank you for letting God use you and your amazing talent.  Thank you for being so open about your struggles and your humanity.  I am here today partially due to your willingness to be used.


A. Leavitt

Living with anxiety

An open letter to Michael W. Smith


One Day…


One day this pain will be gone.

One day the tears erased.

One day the burden lifted

And again I’ll see your face.


But right now I can’t breathe.

I can barely lift my head.

I can’t see any hope at all.

I only see darkness instead.


Satan is attacking.

I hear him hissing in my ear.

Somehow his voice sounds like mine

And something becomes clear.


He’s had control for so long

I’ve made his job light.

He places thoughts inside my head

That I replay in the night.


I’m fighting FOR the enemy.

I’ve gotten turned around.

I crawl once again to You

And lay it all back down.


I’ve been here so many times.

Said all the words before.

But in You there’s no judgment

And You welcome me once more.

Why me?


You had an angel chorus

And your own personal star

Announcing your arrival

To those watching near and far.


You had the wisdom of the ages

While you were just a child.

The wind and waves obeyed you

And even demons running wild.


So it makes no sense to me

Why you would look my way.

You offer me forgiveness

And eternal life one day.


I do not deserve your glory

And even less your grace.

My sinful ways shame me

When I look into Your face.


You offer me forgiveness

But I can’t understand

For my sins crucified you

Along with all of man.


Why do you pursue me?

Why do you desire my heart?

I can do nothing to repay you

And you knew that from the start.


Still you reach out your hand

And lead me back to you.

Thank you for your gift of love

Even when we are untrue.

Not enough


As a person that battles depression on a daily basis, not feeling like you are enough for someone is devastating.  The idea that your best is not the best.  That despite your hardest work, you still, and always will, come up disgustingly short.  In my life I have had this realization several times.  In the past 24 hours, however, I have come to another startling realization: it is my fault.

My struggle with the elusive idea of “enough” typically involves men in my life.  I feel there is a list of expectations that I am supposed to live up to, but I don’t have the list.  So I find myself desperately scrambling to fulfill any position I can find that is open in their lives.  While I felt I was filling a need that had been revealed only to me, I realized recently that it was my desperate attempt to control the situations.

Yesterday I realized an even more painful part of the equation.  It is facing the reality that someone means more to you than you do to them.  When you have hung so much time and energy on the hook of that relationship that when it all comes crashing down in front of you it is difficult to even grasp the glaring reality that everyone else has always seen: you put more effort into the relationship than they do.  You are always giving, going, doing and helping.  They… not.  It is exhausting and drains you of you.

Many women joke about being attracted to bad boys or men who seem dangerous.  My mom used to comment on how I brought home “lost puppies” in boys, as friends, all my life.  I managed to attract those who needed a family, a friend, or just someone to believe in them.  She practically begged me to be more discerning with those I dated as I neared that age.  I wasn’t.  My attraction to those who needed me continued and has caused me all the pain and heartbreak that she warned me it would.  I have wished many times that I could go back and tell her that she was right and apologize for not listening.

Maybe that is why I am in my profession.  Teachers are constantly meeting children who need them.  That need can take on many different forms, but typically have one root: they need to be loved.  That is one thing I am good at: I can love.

Love doesn’t fix everything, though.  Sometimes those lost puppies need more help than one person can give.  And sometimes the self-appointed rescuer is the one who really needs help.

It is my fault that I am in the mess I am in.  I looked toward those that I felt needed me for my validation.  They were my rescuer from facing my own issues.  Then they are gone and I am left with only the weak woman staring back at me from the mirror and she makes me sick.

I must remember that my validation and value comes from Christ alone.  He is the only one that sees every part of me.  He must be sobbing over the fact that I do not feel that I am enough.  After all, I am His creation.  I can’t imagine the pain I would feel if one of my precious children felt inadequate.  I must appear as amazing to Him as my children do to me.

I am telling Him that He is not enough.  I have the audacity to tell the Creator of all Earth that He is not enough.  That I know better.  That I need to be more than what He made me to be so that I can earn the admiration of another human?  What nerve!  Instead of acting as if I am not enough, I am acting as if I am superior to the Savior of all humanity.

I am resolving to work harder this week to look to Him alone for my validation rather than to man.   For Him I am enough and for me He is enough.


Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.               Luke 12:6-7

Fear Not


“Don’t worry about it.”

If I had a nickel every time I have heard that phrase.

I have always worried.  I used to just assume it was part of my personality.  I was told that all the women in my family worried.  It was just the way the women in the Sennett family worked.

After my mother died, however, the worry took a complicated turn.  It turned into devastating anxiety and panic.  I have had moments of anxiety that have driven me to my knees in the carpet and it took prayer to stand me up.  I have prayed my way into work many days – not because I was worried about something that was supposed to happen that day – but because I was anxious about something that MIGHT happen.

I can come up with “What if…” questions better than most Olympic athletes can compete at their sport.  The answers I come up with are always worst case scenarios.  That causes more anxiety.  It is a vicious cycle that I have allowed to steal many days from my life.

Today I am worried.  I have to leave in about an hour to take my six year old daughter to our local children’s hospital for a test.  The doctor told me what the test will entail, but since it is not one I have endured before, I can’t prepare her.  I don’t know if she will be in pain.  I don’t know if it will cause her fear.  I don’t know if I will be able to be with her.  I don’t know if it will be a good thing for me to be with her.  Will she sense my fear?  Will that make everything worse?

So I have to make a conscious choice to trust.  I have to trust that this children’s hospital knows what they are doing and will be a calming effect.  Trust that they understand my fears and hers.

Most of all, I have to trust that God loves my daughter more than I could ever imagine.  Whatever happens today is in His will.  A quick Bible Gateway search of the phrase “fear not” brings up over 150 verses that teach us not to fear.  They stretch from Genesis to Revelation.  They are direct commands from Moses, Jeremiah, Isaiah and other prophets speaking on God’s behalf.  They are commands from Jesus Christ Himself.  They are teachings from the epistles of Paul.  This might be an important topic, huh?

Trusting in God is easy when you have a back up plan.  Trusting in God is easy when it is a choice between good options.

When it is something completely out of your control……..not so easy.  When it is the well-being of your child that is out of your control…excruciating.

Today I am having to make a conscious effort to trust.   Today I am having to renew that effort every few minutes.

Today I am having to quote some of those 150+ verses over and over to myself.

Today I am choosing to learn from my daughter, who is contentedly reading a book – completely trusting.  She knows that Mommy and Daddy prayed over her last night and that we will be continuing to pray.  She is confident in that power.

Matthew 10:29-31   “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”