Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top 10 Posts of 2013

Here are the blog's top 10 most-read posts of the year!

2013 in One Word

Here we are. Today marks the final day of the year. Tomorrow we step into 2014; a new year; a new chapter; a new beginning.

This time last year, I was anxious to leave 2012 behind with all of its cares and pains. Looking ahead one year ago, I thought 2013 was sure to be spectacular and, dare I say, easy.

Oh that I might learn to accept, with grace and joy, the uneasy! May I crave the difficult, the painful, and even the sorrow because it is only by fire that the hard can be made soft. I understand this more now. 2013 softened me. It broke me. And I am better because of it. 2013 was a wonderful year, but it was sprinkled with a lot of pain and unrest in my soul. Some of my struggles, I have shared. Others, I have not and never will. All things considered, I am thankful for everything 2013 held for me because I am entering the upcoming year with a newfound knowledge of Jesus and a renewed love for my Savior.

Last night on my Facebook, I asked for my friends to describe 2013 in one word. I saw a lot of different descriptions of what the year had held for them.


I thought about it for hours. What one word could I find that would sum up the year? After some soul searching and praying, it came to me. If I had to describe 2013 in one word, it is:


The Dictionary defines "upheld" as:

to support or defend, as against opposition or criticism.
to keep up or keep from sinking; support.
to lift upward; raise.

Matthew 14:22-31 tells the story of Peter walking on the water. Verses 29-31 say:

"And he (Jesus) said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?"

We tend to look down on Peter, don't we? Oh faithless Peter...if only you hadn't doubted....

But at least Peter got out of the boat! Even though he took his eyes off of Jesus - as we all do - and became fearful - as we all are - he did walk on the water, which is more than any of us have done. He stepped out on pure faith and complete trust. And even when his humanity surfaced and he faltered, Jesus did not let him sink. Does that resonate with you? For me, it does.

There were plenty of moments in 2013 when I took my eyes off of the Lord and literally began sinking in my own fear and worries and cares of the world. Yet He upheld me. He reached down, grabbed my hand, lifted me up, and kept me from going under. He upheld me all the way through.

And He will continue to do that. Forever.

As 2014 dawns, my prayer is not "Lord, give us a good year" like it has been so many years before. Instead, my prayer is, "Lord, give me more of You." Totally and completely, I want whatever He wants for my life. As the great hymn writer, Fanny Crosby, wrote, "for I know what'er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well." If I truly believe that He does all things - the painful, the glorious, the fun, and the horribly lonely things - well, then in 2014, I will get out of my boat and walk on water.

I pray in the coming year that you will draw ever nearer to the cross and to the Savoir who loves us so.

Happy New Year!!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas from the Lee family

It's half-past the day before Christmas Eve, and I am scurrying around doing last minute things. We had such a blessed year. It was an exhausting, exciting, soul-wrenching, busy, and absolutely beautiful year filled with all the things that teaches us so much about the Lord. 

2013 began with the arrival of Selah, in February. We were, and still are, so thankful for a smooth and easy delivery and for, now, two healthy children. In April we sold and then packed up our cozy little home and moved in with family while the building of our house began. Then in October, we moved into a beautiful house and we praise God for His provision! 

My husband, Grant, keeps busy with work, his prison ministry, various Church activities and events, and leading our family. I, of course, am consumed with raising my little ones, keeping my home, writing, and teaching children at our Church.

Our Nathan is two and a half and is a precious little boy. He can usually be found donning all kinds of hats, dragging his kitten, Abby, around the yard, or deeply involved in whatever is in front of him - be it books, a movie, a game, or puzzles. He is steadily learning bits of Scripture and showing interest in all things "Dee-zus!" (Jesus) and we are praying he will come to know Christ at a very early age.

Little miss Selah is our 10 month old bundle of energy and fun. She has truly fulfilled her name and has brought such a joy to our family. She began walking at eight months old, so I am so anxious to see how God will use her determined spirit for His work. 

We want to wish you and your family a beautiful, bright, and blessed Christmas season. May we draw ever nearer to the heart of Christ in 2014.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Enjoying Christmas Through the Chaos

I'm sitting here, coffee in hand, basking in the stillness of naptime. :) I'm looking around at the twinkling lights on the tree and all of the ornaments hanging from it. Our first Christmas ornament with our wedding picture hangs in the center. And now we have TWO "Baby's 1st Christmas" ornaments on our tree! We have some that go back to when my husband and I were little that our families have given us. And there are new ones that are already so meaningful to me - even after only four short years.

There are presents wrapped under the tree. Special gifts for all the ones I love so, so, so very much.

Nathan and I have read from his "Countdown to Christmas" book and we have marked out today's date on the advent calendar.

Selah has been walking around in her cute little "my first Christmas" onesie and, I daresay, I don't think I've seen anything more adorable.

There is a candle burning and I have cookies in the oven for tonight's desert.

My precious little ones. I think they get cuter every day.

There is always so much going on during the holidays. Shopping, Christmas concerts, Christmas plays, Church events, office parties, baking, family gatherings... a lot of chaos can be found this time of year. And a lot of stress. This past month has definitely been full and busy. I'm actually kind of sad that one week from tomorrow it will all be over.

That's why I'm writing this. That's why I have stopped what I'm doing, I have sat down, and I'm just enjoying the moment. You've got to do that, you know? Sometimes it's good to tune it all out, say "No" to some of the things that pull you and just simplify. Just hold your little world tight and cherish it. Otherwise, if you're like me, you lose yourself in the goings and comings of all the festivities surrounding Christmas Day.

So stop.

Light a candle.

Sit down.

And enjoy.

It's Christmas. :) Have a merry one!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

10 Gift Ideas for Women Under $50

Can you believe we are nearly two weeks away from Christmas?!? AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

{{ Okay, I'm good. }}

With two little ones, I do most of my shopping online. It's just easier that way, and I do love it. I can take my time, check reviews, compare the price, and have it delivered to my door without having to find shoes, put on coats, stock the diaper bag, scout for a good parking spot, and brave other shoppers and their tantrum-like antics holiday spirit. ;) Today I thought it would be nice to compile a list of gift ideas for your mothers, sisters, friends, co-workers....whoever! So here they are in no particular order...

1. Scripture Coasters. I fell in love with these coasters from the PrayerNotes Etsy shop. Aren't they just beautiful?? A set of 4 is $20 + $5.95 shipping.

2. Willow Tree Figurines. I collect these and my very first one to receive was from one of my dearest friends. Each figurine has a name (i.e. the one below is "friendship") and there are lots to chose from in the collection. They range in price from $14.00 to $45.00.

3. Diamond Candles. These are my new obsession. I have always loved candles but these are something quite a bit different. Inside every candle is a ring worth anywhere from $10 to $1000. These make excellent gifts that last long after the candle is all burnt up. :) $24.95 + $5.00 shipping.

4. Personalized Infinity Bracelet. This is just beautiful and I love dainty jewelry, especially jewelry that is meaningful. This can be personalized with husband and wife initials, children's initials, or even sibling's initials. $39.00 + $3.95 shipping.

5. Hind's Feet on High Places. This book, by Hannah Hurnard is my all-time favorite book! Written in allegory form, it is about a young girl named Much Afraid and her journey following the Shepherd to the High Places. I fall more in love with Jesus each time I open it. $8.49 + $3.99 shipping.

6. An apron. This apron from Jessie Steele makes me smile. I love baking in a little cute apron and Jessie Steele sells all sorts of vintage-style aprons and accessories. They even have a holiday collection which is oh-so-jolly! $35.00 + $6.95 shipping.

7. Music. This CD by Keith and Kristyn Getty was released last year, but I didn't stumble upon this duo until this year. And this is my favorite of all their recordings. If you like worship music with Celtic elements and a hint of bluegrass style, you will definitely enjoy this. $13.26 + $3.98 shipping.

8. Spa/Bath set. Okay, so who doesn't love Bath and Body Works?? They have shower gels, lotions, perfume, candles, car scents, hand soap - pretty much anything. :) And I love how you can purchase a ready-made set ($8.00 - $47.00) or put your own together!

9. Monogram Pullover. Who doesn't love pullovers in the winter? These monogrammed pullover sweatshirts are a great gift (and help keep the wearer toasty all winter long!) $33.95 + $6.95 shipping.

10. Wrist bag. These wrist bags from Made By Survivors are made by women from Nepal, India, Cambodia, and Thailand who have been rescued from trafficking. I encourage you to Google search websites like this and help support these women. $28.00.

What about you? Do you have any great gift ideas?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Teaching Little Ones How to Make a Christmas List

With Christmas nearly here, there is lots of anticipation from the children about digging in to the gifts under the tree. This year, Nathan understands what getting presents means to him and he is all-too-thrilled about tearing off that wrapping paper, come December 25th. :)

Every day, I seem to stop and think of what kind of people I want my children to be. We live in such a materialistic world. When I was 10 years old, my Christmas list consisted of some lipstick, a couple CDs, and maybe something big - like a walkman. Now 10 year olds have iPhones, iPads, and $200 UGG boots and they seem to want more and more each year. We adults are, sadly, not much better. It seems like I have to constantly catch myself and remind myself that I don't have to have this or that. Hebrews 13:5 instructs us to be content with what we have. We would do well to live this way and teach our children to do the same.

A tradition my parents started several years before I married was to take me and my siblings to a dollar store every year with $20 and a list of 20 people in our family. Our mission was to find the best gift and/or meaningful gift we could find for each person. My little sisters had a ball and I love what it taught us - that Christmas is not about selfishly hoarding up all the goodies you can. And it isn't about getting the latest item or most expensive present. It's simply about giving with a cheerful heart. As I've grown older, I've become giddy about picking out gifts to give to others. And isn't that what Christmas is all about anyway?? GIVING. I plan to start that tradition this year with Nathan and I simply cannot wait!

So I sat down with him today and we made a list of gifts he would like to GIVE for Christmas. His answers were priceless!! I asked, "What would you like to get Daddy?" His answer? A bed. :)

For his little sister, Selah, he said "a game." For me, a book (he knows me well!). For his grandparents, he said a picture and a game. It was precious to watch him stop and think and then excitedly give an answer on what he thought was the best gift to give.

It's so important to teach our children not to continually covet more and more stuff, but to covet more and more of Jesus. Every year, at Christmastime, I want to emphasize that we don't get presents, we give presents...and we do that because God gave us the very best gift - all that He had.

Let's remember that.

Luke 12:15
"And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth."

1 Timothy 6:6-10
"But godliness with contentment is great gain."

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Dealing With Loneliness in Motherhood

Not a day goes by that I don't check my email, scroll through Facebook, and check the latest photos via Instagram. I like to stay up-to-date and somewhat connected to those I love. It's funny when I think back to my first email account - from Juno.com - and remember fighting over how long the phone line would be tied up. Now we literally have everything at our fingertips. Instant oatmeal, instant coffee, texting, Facetime, a ready-in-five-minutes dinner, it's all offered up to us with the touch and the swipe of a finger. No doubt, we should be completely content, right? But did you know that even with all the technology and instantaneous apps and gadgets, today's generation is apparently the loneliest one ever? I believe it, I really do. And motherhood made me see it.

Keeping little people alive Caring for and nurturing children is hard work. And I'm here to tell you that it can get lonely, even with Facebook at the touch of your finger.

At the end of a long day full of laundry, cleaning crumbs and spit up, baths, stories, kissing boo-boo's, breaking up toddler and baby spats, and teaching the most basic things (please don't spit on the couch, you always chew up your food before trying to swallow, you aren't supposed to change sisters' diaper, we only go outside with clothes on!), I often wind down by going through all the social media. It makes me feel like I'm involved in the lives of my family and friends. Seeing comments on my posts makes me feel like they want to be involved in MY life. In that moment, we are ever so close....right? Nah, no. Not really. Social media makes us feel connected but in truth, it actually leaves us really lonely. See the problem is, we are surface people. We hide behind cropped pictures, edited comments, and a very helpful spell check (although auto correct gives me fits on a daily basis!) You may think you know me by my Facebook posts and my Instagram pictures and from all my writings on this blog and previous ones. But the truth is, you see what I let you see. You know what I have given you permission to know. And the sad truth is that that is the very reason why we get lonely. We are connecting, instead of forming real relationships.

After two and a half years of motherhood, I can say with certainty that it has been the most joyous, exhausting, fun, and rewarding, and yet loneliest times of my life. It's not as easy as you think and it's not always so simple to "go out with the girls" or have a date night with your husband. I mean when you leave your child(ren), you have to make sure the babysitter knows the routine and what to expect. Selah goes to bed at 7:30, Nathan at 8:00. Nathan likes stories beforehand, and Selah always wants her bottle and her paci. If Selah cries for no apparent reason, make sure she is clean because she can't stand to be in a soiled diaper. Nathan hates vegetables, but if you use chocolate wisely, you can get him to eat. If you go out with the child(ren), you have to be prepared. Naptime is at ___, so that leaves me X-amount of time go here, here, and here. Do I have enough diapers? Is the wipes container full? Extra set of clothes for the baby. Bottle. Sippy cup. Snacks. Will we be gone during lunch? If you are going to someone else's house or meeting friends for dinner and you have the kids with you, you might tend to worry about 2-year-old tantrums, baby exhaustion, and for all the world to suddenly crumble in the eyes of your 9 month old while you're seated in a very public place. 

....or maybe that's just me.

Regardless, sometimes it's just easier to stay home. 

I wouldn't trade motherhood for anything in the world. This post isn't for those mothers who want to dump their kids off on someone else to go relive their teenage years. This post is a gentle hug from me to a lonely mommy. Because I get you. I understand. And here's what I think we should do.

If this post was for you, then listen up. As extremely daunting as it may appear, try to initiate a real friendship. I know you're exhausted, but try. Call up someone and invite them over. Bring the kids and just enjoy the chaos. It's not about having things calm and under control, it's about community. Psalms 133:1 says, "Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity." We would all be better off and a lot less lonely if we embraced the fellowship of our fellow brothers and sisters instead of being afraid of showing how much we don't know. 

And for all you other mamma's, come on! You've been there. Reach out to the tired and lonely new mothers. Yeah sure, they may appear to have it all together, but they don't, because you didn't have it all together when you were in their shoes. Invite them over to your house. Go to their house so they won't have to lug everything and everyone around. Pass down some wisdom. Encourage them. Bring them a meal. Be warm and welcoming. Do something to bless her because motherhood is hard, especially during the little years. 

Oh and by the way, I am so thankful that Jesus digs beneath my surface and knows all the deep corners of my heart. When things get lonely in my world, it is comforting to know that I can always run to Him and find a comfort that goes beyond what I can touch. Isn't that wonderful? :)


Monday, November 18, 2013

God Never Changes

Saturday, I took the kids out for a walk. We gathered pine cones and I tried to explain to Nathan why the leaves are red, orange, and yellow. I dearly love Autumn.

Every year, when I see the leaves turn beautiful colors and I feel the cool air, I think about change.

Change has never been my favorite thing. I don't like my world being turned upside down. I have never liked it when the path I'm happily walking along suddenly makes a sharp right turn. It makes me uncomfortable and nervous. I actually try to avoid change at all costs.

But this year I am beginning to not only understand why things change, I think I'm starting to like it. And here's why.

It makes me run to Somebody who never changes.

Jesus. :)

One of my favorite verses is Malachi 3:6 where God makes a resounding statement and says, "For I am the LORD; I change not...."

Does that flood your heart with peace?! It does me.

Because everything else changes. If you are a woman reading this, you know what I'm sayin'! I'm sure you have experienced a myriad of crazy emotions since your alarm went off this morning. My world has changed a lot in the past five years. I'm not the same person I was a year ago. The place where I grew up looks different now than when I was a child. My parents look different. My sisters are growing up. My children change every single day! The seasons change and I am changing right along with it. And although it freaks me out, I know that change and growth is a good thing. Just like the leaves turn, die, and fall to the ground, they do it because something new is on the way. And in a few months, we will see beautiful, luscious, green life everywhere! It's the same with us.

Today I am resting in the knowledge that in the midst of all the crazy and chaotic hustle and bustle of life, there is a place of quiet stillness that never changes. There's security in that. I'm thankful for an unchanging God, aren't you?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Postpartum Depression: Encouragement for the Weary, Christian Momma || part 2

....continued from part 1

I was not the type of person who needed to be on anti-depressants. In the back of my mind, I had always viewed postpartum depression as a weakness and some sort of cop-out. I mean, Come on, woman! Grow up and get a'hold of yourself!

Now I know that isn't so.

I've read that the "Baby Blue's" affects up to 80% of new moms. After my first baby, I experienced the blue's, but after a week or two, those feelings subsided and I adjusted to motherhood with a sort of ease. But this....this was different. I couldn't think clearly. Everything seemed stressful and overwhelming, I was easily hurt, and I literally felt like the smallest problem was devastating. I now understand that PPD is a very real struggle. Some women may abuse it or use it as an excuse, but others - like me - really experience the desperation and the pain.

Being put on an anti-depressant - even a mild one - brought me to a new place. I was ashamed of my weakness and embarrassed by....I don't know....my lack of control? My emotions? My humanity?

I remember one afternoon, in a rare quiet moment when both of the kids were napping, I sat down and thought, "Why God? There must be a purpose. There has to be something greater going on that I don't see just yet. Help me to walk through this with grace...and golly, help me learn something - anything - from it!"

If you're anything like me - and have a lot of stubbornness in you - sometimes you just have to get to a place where you are completely humbled so you can feel the Lord in a way you never have before. I had been trying so hard to have it all together and I realized that I had stopped relying on the Lord's strength. Going through the motions is easy when you know all the right things to do and say. But going through the motions doesn't teach you anything. Crying out to God when you are desperate, out of fuel, and out-of-your-mind-tired will teach you a thing or two!

If the Lord blesses us with more children in the future, I may struggle again. But now I have a better understanding of my Lord, who offers "power to the faint," "grace to the humble," and "strength in weakness."

So if you are weary, may I encourage you?

Don't be ashamed. It's a knock to your pride to admit that you don't have it together and that you need help. Goodness knows my hands were shaking as I sent this out into cyberspace for all the world to see. But hey, it's OKAY. Sometimes it takes desperation to give us an added "oomph." For me, I believe it took a good slap to my pride for the Lord to show me how strong and oh, how GOOD He is. If you need help, get help. The Lord uses all kinds of things to help His children. Don't be humiliated or feel guilty because of it. We all have weaknesses and we all need each other.

Don't let your pride rule. You see, I didn't tell anyone. My husband knew, but that was it. Nobody knew how helpless I felt, or how exhausted - inwardly and physically - I was. I'm not sure exactly why I didn't want to tell other people, but I know it was crazy to just smile and pretend all was well. I lied. It wasn't well. And I wasn't okay. I should have sought out some wisdom and support from other mothers but I honestly didn't want to bother anyone. And I did not know what I would get in return. But I should have put myself out there to be helped. I wasn't trying to be a tough girl, I suppose I just simply didn't want to talk about it. Maybe I didn't want pity or a firm reprimand of how I should be acting. Regardless, I should have swallowed my pride and embraced the fellowship and the purpose of the Church.

Don't tell yourself that you can do it all. Because you can't. I can't. I don't care how put together "that mom" looks, or how "that new mom" seems to have her energy and her figure back, don't compete!! It's not healthy and "that woman" doesn't have it all together either. Let me encourage you to just go ahead and plan to take the first few months after delivery to simply survive. It's going to be hard. Life completely shiftsMiddle of the night feedings. Maybe colic or around-the-clock crying like I had. Juggling housework, meals, bills, maybe older kiddos, all while dreaming of showers, naps, and a nice foot rub. Just take it easy. Don't beat yourself up if you are pretty much planted on the couch for 19 hours a day nursing like mad. Don't feel like a failure if you cannot nurse your wee one no matter how hard you try. Do not let your mind drive you to insanity over the dirty dishes, the stack of laundry, or the crushed Cheerio's all over the carpet. Shut yourself in with your little family and try to cherish the greasy, unwashed hair and the sticky floors. It won't last forever. If there's a next time for me, I'm really going to try to not have such high expectations of myself.

Don't get angry. Because I was. I couldn't understand why, when I was doing all I knew to do, things were not getting easier. The Bible told me to ask and it shall be given. I asked. I begged. I cried. And nothing happened. And it made me mad when I didn't see any results. I would cry, "Lord, You know how I am when I am completely exhausted and spent! So why won't You allow this to lighten up so I can be happy and be someone people want to be around?" If I had shut my mouth for long enough, I probably would have heard Him tell me to cool it and let Him teach me some stuff. Like, "How about YOU change and let My power and My peace work in you? How about letting Me help you overcome with acceptance and joy?" Next time, I am going to try harder to just simply listen. I encourage you to do that too. We don't know how He works, but rest assured the lesson will be amazing every time if we simply pay attention.

Each and every one of us walk through deep valleys. Maybe it's grief. Or anger. Or maybe, like me, it is a darkness of the mind. No matter what it is, the Lord is always at work to bring us higher and closer to His heart. I still have days when I feel overwhelmed.... but that's just a part of life. And life isn't ever going to get any easier. Living with JOY is a matter of choice. Our choice. In fact, that's why I re-named this blog "Where JOY Is," because no matter where I am in my life, JOY is found in the same place. Every time. :)

Are you struggling with postpartum depression? Let me offer you a hug. I have been in that darkness too, even while holding my kiddos tight and smelling that sweet baby smell. Just hang on, okay? Because our Jesus truly works all things - ALL THINGS - together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

So rest in that, friend. 
Rest in His arms and let Him comfort and strengthen you.
'Cause He will do it.
He really will.

Isaiah 40:28-31
"Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strengthEven the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Postpartum Depression: Encouragement for the Weary, Christian Momma || part 1

This post has been sitting in my Drafts for months. I just did not know when I would be ready to let it go out into the world. I guess today is the day. There have been so many times when I have clicked "Publish" on a blog post where I have shared a glimpse into my personal life, but I have never truly dug down and exposed the dark corners of my heart.

I am going to do that now.

We all go through rough patches and hard times. That's just how it is living in a fallen world. We hurt. We grieve. We fall. We learn. And I believe the Lord wants us to use our struggles and our weaknesses to offer encouragement to others. I'm not talking about airing out our dirty laundry or exposing our whole life so that we can "be real." I'm simply saying that we should let go of our pride and be honest in our humanity. We don't have it all together yet we feel the pressure to hide behind a smile that says "all is well" when in reality all feels wrong! By doing that, I really think we miss out on blessings and great opportunities to help another person who is going through what we have gone through ourselves. So I'm going to share with you a very real struggle I experienced and I pray with all my heart that if you are or ever will be in these shoes, that you can find joy and rest and an encouraging hug from this post.

Now I do not know that much about clinical "postpartum depression." But I do know a bit of what depression feels like.

It feels exhausting. 
It feels overwhelming

...and you feel desperate.

I wasn't expecting it. It hit me hard. And after a month of a crying little baby girl, I was weary. Now, I know all babies cry. When I would mention my screaming baby many people, including one doctor, basically told me that crying is what babies do. I would nod my head and give a small smile, but inwardly I was thinking, "You just don't understand!" I already had one baby. I know babies cry. (I'm sorry but, duh, right?)

I remember one evening when my husband came home from work, I all but shoved her into his hands and said something like, "Take her. Please take her. I can't do it anymore."

I was that overwhelmed. There was no question of my love, but knowing that everything - her happiness, her health, her environment - was my responsibility and yet nothing appeared to make her content, built a mountain that I just couldn't see me getting over.

A car ride often helped soothe her to sleep so I regularly took drives, disguised as milkshake runs for my little boy. I would drive and pray the whole time for God to keep me awake. At home, sometimes I even found myself wishing I could just fall asleep and never wake up.

I was that exhausted. Weary. Just bone-tired with a fatigue I had never experienced and couldn't put into words. It just engulfed me.

This picture was taken on Easter Sunday. I remember that day well.
I was so tired and so very stressed out. I spent the morning service
pacing the halls with Selah.
After three months of trying every helpful tip and "remedy," feeling helpless and at a total loss as to what to do, we finally put Selah on a Soy based formula. And she was better.

I, however, was not

Oh, I was thankful that the incessant crying had stopped, but I felt like a complete failure. See, I couldn't nurse my first child. Now, after working so hard to give my second baby milk, I couldn't nurse her either. I thought this was supposed to be a natural thing! Why did I have to have so much trouble? I felt ashamed.

Then we moved. In the midst of all the chaos, I was packing up our cozy little home. While our house was being built, we moved in with my husband's family. I was so humbled by my in-laws as I watched them shift to take in their son, their daughter-in-law, and two small children. They went out of their way to make it easy for us and as much like home as possible. I was thankful. I still am. But the change played a roll in my emotions. At first, I wasn't sure how to go about my day. We had a routine before. Now I was at a loss as to how to live and the change made me feel insecure.

I hid it pretty well. I brushed off any inquiry by saying, "Oh you know, a new baby is hard work." I'm not sure what happened to make me realize that I was at a breaking point. I just remember that I was tired of being so very tired. I didn't know what was wrong with me. I had such a blessed and beautiful life.

Why did I just want to sleep? 
Why did I dread waking up in the morning? 
Why did the smallest task seem totally overwhelming?

I did the things I knew I needed to do. I read my Bible. I listened to worship music. I thanked God for the blessing of having another baby. But it was like I was caught in a fog. I would try to write, but my thoughts were so jumbled and my mind was such a mess that I couldn't write more than a few small sentences. I was frustrated. I cried a lot. My husband would make me laugh only to see me acting like I had lost my best friend five minutes later.

Finally I had enough. This wasn't me! So I broke down and did something I thought I would never do. I called my OB/GYN and told her what I was experiencing. I actually cried on the phone with her, people! (if you know me, you know that is completely out of character.) After a gentle conversation, she put me on a mild anti-depressant. Let me tell you, I felt humiliated. Here I was - a strong, happy, Christian woman. I was not the type of person who needed to be on anti-depressants.

continue reading pt 2....

Monday, November 11, 2013

I Have a Crush on My Husband

If you have Instagram or Facebook, chances are you're familiar with Man Crush Monday. Every week pictures are posted of the days' "crush." So may I just say, I have a huge crush on my husband! And I guess today is a good day to proclaim it, it being Monday. :) So let me tell you why I have a crush on my husband.

  1. He's mine. Nobody else's. I don't share him with the masses. I don't sit and pine away hoping he will notice me. I don't worry that he will one day not be mine. He's simply mine. Forever.
  2. He has integrity. The man is strong. He makes me feel safe, both physically and emotionally. He stands up for what's right and will tell you the truth no matter how tough it is to hear. He works hard. He is honest in his dealings and he gives, gives, gives. I really think he needs a vacation more than once a year.
  3. He's a faithful husband. I don't have to wonder if he will suddenly leave me for another woman. I don't have to worry about him getting caught up in the world and all its vices. I never worry about him going out with the guys, getting drunk, and doing heaven knows what. And he has told me that no other woman - any woman - is more attractive than I am. He doesn't disrespect me, play on my insecurities, or hurt my heart by drooling over celebrities. His only "Woman Crush Wednesday" is me. And me alone! Girls, that's priceless.
  4. He loves beyond the surface. I've been through pregnancy twice already. I've been sick. I've been mean. I've battled depression. I've put on a little weight since marriage. But he loves me more today than he ever did in the past. And I love him more too. In my eyes, he is smokin' hot! But I seriously cannot wait until he is old and grey. That's love. Word to the wise: if you "crush" solely on men with six packs, tanned skin, or a sultry singing voice, you are really missing what it's all about.
  5. He's in love with Jesus. If I call him up while he's at work or if I go to him while he's busy here at the house and ask him for prayer, he stops immediately and prays with me. He loves Church and God's people. I love it when I wake up early in the morning to an empty spot in the bed and find him reading his Bible and sipping coffee in the living room. He doesn't just tell folks he's a Christian, he lives it out. Nah, he's not perfect, but by golly, he's a Godly man! And he brings me closer to Jesus.

So you can understand why you will never see pictures of Luke Bryan, Gerald Bulter, or any man other than my husband grace my social news feed. I have eyes for my husband alone; my one and only crush. ;)

Proverbs 31:12
"She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life."

Saturday, November 2, 2013

An Easy Way to Make Cinnamon Pumpkin Seeds

My husband Grant loves pumpkin seeds so yesterday when I was making pumpkin puree (recipe to come soon!) I made him some cinnamon pumpkin seeds. YUM! Today I am sharing the recipe with you.

2 cups pumpkin seeds (cleaned, rinsed and patted dry)
2 to 3 tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. brown sugar

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. 

Other than getting all the pumpkin goo off of the seeds and washing them (which is a bit time consuming), the whole process was very easy. First, you pick all the seeds out of the goo.

Then you wash them up. I filled my sink with water and washed all of them together in there.

Then lay your seeds on a towel. 
Once the seeds are dry, put them in your bowl of sugar, butter, cinnamon, and salt and coat,
Next place them on a baking sheet lined with foil or saran wrap.

Cook for 20-25 minutes

Allow to cool, then enjoy!


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