23 August 2015

Friday Gifts 3.0 (late, as per usual these days)

301.  Relief from my stupid spider bite. 
302.  Finishing my first graduate class. 
303.  A really wonderful and helpful lady in the financial aid office. 
304.  Reading super complicated material and feeling like an idiot but finding out everyone else felt the same way. 
305.  Laughter. The kind that makes you cry. So good. 
306.  The first day of school!  
307.  Wonderful teachers for the bigs. 
308.  Preschool for the little girls starting tomorrow. They are super excited, as am I. 
309.  Clementine's sweet response to Bea when Bea asks, "Clementine, will you stay with me at school?"  The answer is always, "Yes!" -So glad they get to be together. 
310.  The preschool teacher. So wonderful and my friend. 
311.  Phinn and Bea's sweet relationship. 
312.  A weekend with family. 
313.  Coffee with my dear friend. 
314.  Cool weather in August. Our house is below the 80 degree mark. 
315.  Yoga Booty Ballet. Awesome workout! 

14 August 2015

Friday Gifts 3.0

It's been so long. I'm way overdue for a post. Let's jump back into Friday Gifts, shall we?
281.  Safety on the road for the hundreds of miles Daniel and I have driven this summer. 
282.  4-H. The fair was nutso this year but we learned a ton. A couple of purple ribbons, a blue and a red for the bigs. 
283.  Having the tools and confidence to be able to do hard things. 
284.  Friends who are genuinely excited to be a part of a rocket launch. 
285.  A great week for Phinn at camp. 
286.  A birthday celebration for Gigi a month early. 
287.  A successful half marathon fundraiser for MOPS. 
288.  My amazing husband. 
289.  Modern medicine and sleep. 
290.  12 years with my man. 
291.  Starting graduate school with an intensive week. 
292.  Finding my people (profession-wise). 
293.  Being excited about learning new material. 
294.  Hospitable friends who opened their home to me for two nights so I wouldn't have to drive so much. 
295.  13 hours of sleep. 
296.  Having my family back together. 
297.  My niece, finally on the mend and out of the hospital. 
298.  My amazing in-laws who kept track of my hooligans for a week. 
299.  Friends who rejoice with me. 
300.  Continuing to walk everyday by faith. 

21 July 2015

Summer, where hath thou gone?

It is 8:23PM and I am dog tired. So far this summer we have been far busier than I had imagined we would be. We have just under one month until school starts for the kids and here is what we're looking at for that time. 

*The Fair. We joined 4-H this year. At the beginning of the year the kids signed up for four things each. A month ago we decided to only enter two things each for each kid. Well, last week we spent a longer time in Manhattan helping pack and move my sister so we didn't actually start fair stuff until Monday morning. Yikes! Today we spent the entire day getting the things ready. The little girls were troopers and the bigs tackled their projects. They are done and ready to present tomorrow. This year has been a major learning experience and should make subsequent years easier. 
*Phinn goes to church camp. Gulp. My baby, my first born. My kid who is an awful lot like me, with whom I butt heads the most. He's nine now and going to five days of camp. Hold me. It will be so good for him and I'm excited for him. 
*Gigi has not had a kid party for her birthday for the last two years. In 2013, we had just moved and she had just started school. She knew no one so a birthday party with friends was out. Last year I told her we could do a party once school got started bug it never happened. I dropped the ball. She noticed. So next week while Phinn is gone we're doing the whole shebang. Swimming, ice cream, sleepover. Should be fun. 
*I have to study for and pass a midterm and a final for a prerequisite I did not have fulfilled. I'm supposed to take the midterm on Friday and I've only barely started studying. 
*The Run For Your Momma half marathon and 5K fundraiser for our MOPS group.  I'm the coordinator again this year. So far it's running smoothly but it's always a bit harrowing to coordinate people who are serious runners. Luckily I have s great team of ladies who kick butt in the "getting things done" department. Leading a group is a piece of cake when you have great people. Maybe pray for some cool weather for August 1?
*We celebrate 12 years of marriage, probably 200 miles apart, for the first time ever. 
*Graduate school starts off with a bang. The first class is an intensive full week of 8-12 hour days. 
*Daniel travels for a conference. 
*Daniel continues working out in GC. 
*I start another fitness challenge. The summer has got me all sorts of off track. I don't function well without a schedule. I also don't enjoy working out in a house that is perpetually between 85-100 degrees. It's no fun. Here's to better schedules and cooler days. 
*I try not to lose my mind. Let the insanity begin. 


10 July 2015

Friday Gifts 3.0

261.  Swimming with the kids.  It's on my list a lot but I'm just so grateful they all love the water and don't fear it.
262.  A tired little girl who fell asleep before food and fireworks.  She's still quite small, when I stop to think about it.
263.  Flexible and well traveled children who don't balk at being in the car often.
264.  Subdued but still fun fireworks.
265.  Daniel home, if only for a little over 24 hours.
266.  Work/income, even if it means he's across the state.
267.  Getting 4-H stuff figured out.
268.  Rain and cool temperatures.
269.  Little friends here because their mom is helping with their auntie with their new baby cousin.
270.  Managing to get six kids fed, bathed, cared for, read to, taken to the park, etc., all without losing any of them.
271.  Being able to be more relaxed about coordinating the MOPS half marathon again this year.
272.  A great group of ladies who know their parts and take care of things.
273.  Rainy, lazy days.
274.  Getting a handle on the material for the pre-requisite class I need to test out of.
275.  The generosity of my sister.
276.  Friends from afar who understand the struggle.
277.  Having fabric and an easy pattern for Bea's quilt.  It's 2/3 of the way done.
278.  Hearing Daniel preach.  I love it.
279.  Playing games with my bigs after the littles go to bed.
280.  Ice water.  

03 July 2015

Friday Gifts 3.0

236.  Time at the zoo in GC with family. 
237.  Playground play with cousins. 
238.  Sticky rice and curry. 
239.  Daniel's mom and dad. Family who adopted me in. 
240.  Ken's patience teaching me how to drive a four wheeler. 
241.  Daniel's long lasting friendship with MJL. 
242.  Friends who welcome us into their house at a moments notice. 
243.  An impromptu bath after a little girl stripped naked and got muddy.   
244.  Little provisions here and there that make things easier and nice. 
245.  Daniel's grandma. She's one of the loveliest people I have the privilege of knowing. 
246.  Safety on the road, just me and the kids. 
247.  Dropping kids off with my parents and heading home with Daniel. 
248.  An unexpected date with my man on his 24 hour stopover at home. 
249.  That I wasn't driving when our tire blew out. 
250.  That Daniel is cool, calm, and collected in scary driving situations. 
251.  That our insurance policy covers a tow truck. 
252.  That we had no children in the car while we waited for more than an hour to be towed. 
253. A small town mechanic who is trustworthy and efficient. 
254.  A three hour nap. 
255.  Getting things checked off my list. 
256.  Having things more and more in order so I don't feel so overwhelmed about being a student again. 
257.  Cooler temperatures.
258.  Being comfortable enough in our small town to pull weeds at 11PM. 
259.  Jen Hatmaker sermon podcasts. 
260.  The Holy Spirit moving in my mind to shake off some cobwebs in my own spirit. 

26 June 2015

Friday Gifts 3.0

216.  Sun tans. 
217.  Swimming at my parents' house. 
218.  A new, good job for my sister. 
219.  Being able to help her pack to begin to move on with her life. 
220.  New paintings from her. (It pays to be there when she's in a purging mood. ;))
221.  A/C in the bedrooms. 
222.  Windy days that drive the humidity away. 
223.  Harvest jobs for Daniel. 
224.  A good relationship with my kids' friends. 
225.  A good if not somewhat overwhelming orientation to grad school. 
226.  A clear view of what I have in store for the coming two years. 
227.  A continued feeling of peace about this path. 
228.  Modern pharmacology. 
229.  Not feeling like life is worthless. 
230.  Library books. 
231.  Neglecting everything to read a book all morning. 
232.  My man who fills up my vehicle with fuel, checks the oil and coolant, and makes sure my tires are good for a roadtrip. 
233.  Incoming samples. 
234.  Good finds on Netflix. 
235.  The little girls getting into preschool, same class, four mornings a week!

11 June 2015

Mother's Little Helper

We've been praying for years for several people or families living in a desert season in their lives.  We pray diligently, bringing our requests to the Lord in hopes that our words sway His actions on their behalf.  We have been praying for our own situation in hopes that He hears us and the cries of our hearts.  After years of praying and many months of wondering, I can now tell you I have no idea if our words and cries have any weight in our lives or the lives of those we love.  Intellectually, I know the Word of God tells us our first course of action is to seek answers in the word and bring our cares before the Lord in prayer.  Intellectually, I know there is purpose in our prayers and it is not always so we can receive the answer we seek.  Intellectually, I know our spirits and attitudes are changed when we open ourselves up to that very vulnerable place where we ask for help or guidance.  My head says these are all truths I can count on.  My head says, " The Lord is always good and right and holy".  My head says we are not alone in this.
My heart is a different story.  My heart wonders why Jesus seems so silent with us where we are.  I doubt myself and my faith.  I wonder if the doubt and lack of faith are the reason the Lord seems to be withholding blessing from us.  I wonder if I will ever know what I'm supposed to be learning in this place we're in.  I wonder if our prayers will ever change His mind.  I wonder if He cares.  This is hard stuff to write because I'm admitting to the world how scary it is to know and be moved by the beauty of the Gospel message and still not know what it looks like to live this life full of grace with a faith like a child.  I feel like believing He'll bring about change in our lives is so dangerous, because what if He doesn't?
Last week was the second full week of summer vacation.  And, I got to the end of the week and with everything else in our lives I realized I cannot do this.  I realized that my depression was not gone.  I realized I had allowed the euphoria of spring and sunshine to trick me into believing all was on the upswing and I was going to be ok without help.  I had been kidding myself for some weeks and last week, it came to the surface once again.  Depression makes everything hard.  It makes daily tasks seem monumental.  It makes to-do lists seem impossible.  It makes dealing with regular, loud, and happy kiddos challenging.  It makes loving people hard.  It makes the deeply cynical soul dive deeper.  It makes the struggles we face seem insurmountable.  It makes you question your faith and what you know in your heart and soul to be truths.  Depression makes everything hard.  So, having had a lengthy conversation with my doctor at my physical in April, I called her again and said I thought it was time for some medication.  You guys, I'm 36 years old, a mother to four kids, wife to a hardworking small business owner, and I am on antidepressants.
I held off on asking for this sort of help for a while because I thought it was mostly seasonally driven and once spring surfaced, I would be ok.  I probably also bought into the thought that I was strong enough to do it on my own.  I also thought maybe my faith was too small and working on that would change things.  I thought antidepressants were really designed to help people who have what we call a melancholy personality, not someone like me who is experiencing circumstantial depression.  You guys, they are all lies designed (I'm convinced) by the devil himself to keep us from being healthy.
I am less than one week in and already I feel like the medication is just sort of knocking the rough edges off.  I don't feel like Dr. Jekyll waiting on pins and needles for Mr. Hyde to pop out and say horrible things and yell at my children.
I've read several things lately that all say something basically in the same vein; the struggles we face make the joys that much sweeter or challenges bring us closer to holiness and into a deeper understanding of the holy. These ideas are probably accurate but what if it our lot in this life, this side of heaven, to be in a constant state of chronic stress or to be constantly unsure of how we'll make it from one month to the next. It's a very American Christian thing to think we deserve financial blessing or security because we love Jesus. There are millions of faithful Christians around the world who live lives with a fraction of what we have and it probably will remain that way for my and their lifetimes. Why do I have some sort of misguided idea I'm more deserving than the next guy?
The families who have been in the desert now have praises, answers if you will, to the prayers we've been praying.  They are now in the upswing after having been down deep in the abyss.  We are so deeply thrilled for them I can't even express in words.  We love these people like family and knowing they are moving forward on their journey, uphill as it still is, is worthy of thanks and praise.  But, knowing that we've been praying for the same amount of time or longer for a shift in our lives, makes the praises bittersweet for us.  It sound so selfish when I write it out, but this is our reality right now.  When?  Why? These are words and questions often on our lips.
For the time being we will keep walking (or crawling, somedays) forward with the hope that sometime soon, things will change.  Hard work is not enough.  Faith is not enough.  Community is not enough.  But all those things together make living this life easier.  That and a little white pill.

An addendum:  
I don't post this for any other reason than I feel like mental struggles/illnesses need to be talked about more.  For some reason it is common place to hide this sort of thing out of shame or some other misguided idea.  I also find that admitting to taking medication for help is viewed by some to be a terrible course of action.  I disagree whole heartedly.  I think our society as a whole is overmedicated but thank the good Lord for creating people who devise drugs to help those who truly need it.  I appreciate your prayers, as I more often than not do not know the words to pray or what I should be saying to the Lord, but I do not need someone to fix me.  I am on my way.  On the other side of the coin, if you are struggling with depression or anxiety or any other mental struggle or illness, please don't try to make a go of it alone.  I am opening up to those close to me who are present in my life.  I am working through my issues with Jesus with Him.  I am no longer trying to do it on my own.  I will be taking this medication for at least a year.  Six months is the minimum my doctor likes for people to be on it but six months gets me squarely into the darkest parts of the year.  I will not be getting off during that time.  So, feel free to talk to me about this and my experiences.