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 - 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 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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