Category Archives: Life with God

A chip off the old block

Ian started preschool the beginning of February.  To be honest, I just wanted and needed some cheap childcare (can I get an amen from any other parents on this one?)  I wanted someplace else Ian could go where there was a wholesome, pleasant atmosphere, where he could show & tell his stuff, obey adults, be nice to other kids, run around, and get his craft on.  And, I could be with one less kid for a few hours.

Many of you saw the photo on facebook the photo that confirms to the world that Ian loves preschool (and that picture was taken before he even got there on his first day!). I figured he would.  I think he was getting a little bored around our house.

I don’t care, at least at this point, about academic rigor, but he is learning some things, particularly about letters and their sounds.  And word around preschool town (and from Grandma Becky who’s got the direct line to other grandchildren) that four-year-olds have the ability to write their own name.

Well, Ian doesn’t do that, at least he didn’t (*spoiler alert*).  I’ve haven’t cared.   I’ve read those lists on Pinterest, the “Everything Your Kids Should Be Able to Do Before They Get to Kindergarten” ones and my half-hearted response has been “Whatever, he’ll get to it.”  It’s so shocking hear myself saying this, but this is something I don’t worry about (this category runs small for me).

Well, a week or so ago we were coloring at home (Ian had markers, Imogen was designated to colored pencils.  Note: Don’t EVER, EVER give markers to a toddler).  Since we had grandma reinforcements, I was feeling more on the confident side, so I casually mentioned to Ian, “When you’re done with that picture why don’t we work on writing your name?”

He was mildly disinterested but said “okay”.  So I wrote him an “I” and he tried to copy it.  There was a little bit of push back, but it came relatively easy so we went onto “A”.  That’s when the back-peddling started. “Nooooooo! I CAN’T DO IT!”  This was said over and over, with increasing desperation.

You and I know this is not true.  With his duplos, Ian can practically build a miniature-size version of Ludwig’s castle or a Blackbird stealth.  And then he can somehow pull both creations together into one self-entertaining epic storyline (which he whispers to himself – did we all do that as a kid or was that just me and now my offspring?).

Back to the name writing thing.  By this time, we had moved past frustration.  I sensed some tears coming on.  I sensed fear.

“My name is too hard to write!” Ian said.  Too bad that excuse doesn’t work since we gave him the EASIEST name in the world.  When both Grandma and I told him this his response was that he wanted a new name.

I told him he was too young to change his name and besides, Mama had prayed a lot about what his name should be and I felt that God had given Ian his name (it means “God is gracious”).  You can’t argue with God.  But, for fun I said “Alright, Ian, what would you want your name to be?”

He hesitated a moment and then sheepishly said, “Helga.”

I’m sorry, I laughed.  And Grandma laughed.  What the heck – Helga?!  Besides, that has a “G” in it.  If you won’t write a capital “A” good luck writing that one, Ian.

Thankfully, our laughter did not shame him.  It actually put the teeniest, tiniest crack of a smile on his face.

So, Ian mustered up the resolve to try an “A”.  He tried to copy the “A” I wrote and it was not a bad first attempt at all.  It looked a bit more like a crooked, wobbling “H”, but heck, I’d take it.  And I praised him for it.

Well, Ian did not like his “A”.  In fact, he hated it.  He hated that we praised him for it.  “It’s NOT PERFECT!”

This is when I went into my time warp.  I can’t remember how young I was, but it was pretty young, when I started saying this to myself.  And I’ve been saying those words for a long time. I’m still saying them.  It has kept me from doing things in life, or it’s imprisoned me into doing them half-heartedly, or just giving up on them altogether.  And to be honest, I get angry about it, just like Ian does.

In the midst of my self-revelation, I was able to step outside myself for a moment and realize an invisible door was showing up.  As our pastor says, your kids “flash” you, so to speak. They show you what’s really in their heart, past the clenched fists and the evil eye.

I have been told when you see this flash, this invisible door, you leap headlong through it before it shuts in your face. And you pray and hope God shows up and you don’t mess things up.  Parents of older children can correct me if I’m wrong on this one (or least give us newer parents tips on how to successfully get through the door and not create dysfunction once inside).

Well, I went in that door.  It was double doors, because in actuality, this was just as much about me (maybe even more so) than it was about him.  Ian’s resistance shined a bright light; it brought me back to my own fears of things not being perfect.  Things HAVE to be perfect, gosh darnit!

I told Ian how there have been so many times I have been afraid to do things because they are hard.  I am scared, just like him, that I can’t do it.  I thought about all the things I tried as a kid – horseback riding, synchronized swimming, piano lessons, a myriad of art classes, basketball, golf, tennis, choir.  Some of these things I wasn’t good at, but some of them I could have been good at.  Some of them I was actually kinda good at and maybe, with time and practice, I could’ve been really good at them.

I need to make a side note to say that one of the only things I stuck with is writing.  And a degree in English Literature tried to suck that one out of me.  But, here I am, and truth be told, all those papers on literary criticism probably made me a stronger writer (and thinker) about life.

And so there Ian was and he listened to my speech and he understood as much as a four-year-old can about how some new things are scary and hard to try, but that God gives strength, and we can be proud of ourselves for trying and completing them, that practice makes us better at them, etc., etc.

And then he finished writing his name.  He still got angry when Grandma and I praised him for following through.  There were some more protests and slamming of his fists on the table.  But he did it.  This first attempt was written on the outside of a letter to Grandma T, but here is his second version, written underneath a painting of a big boat hooked up to Grandpa Brad’s red truck.

A few days later I was dropping Ian off at preschool and we were making small talk with one of his teachers. I encouraged Ian to tell Ms. Laurie about the new thing he learned how to do.  I had forgotten about the name-writing; I thought he was going to tell her how he’s riding his new two-wheeler (which was a cinch for him to learn), but instead he said “I can write my name now!”

He will always remember when he learned to ride his bike. It will probably be a memory of glorious freedom.  But I think in writing his name (at least I hope) he will remember God gives strength and courage to do new things.  They don’t have to be perfect the first time, or even ever.  And we can start on new things because we know these truths.

And I hope that I sit down at that beautiful piano that was such a wonderful gift to me and I play, even though it scares me.  And I write more and sing my heart out in the choir at church on Easter, and get the sewing machine out more than once a year and make something even if the stitch doesn’t come out absolutely perfect.

Thanks, Ian.  Thank you, God.

Advertisements

This beautiful mess

What do I say about the last few weeks, months? It’s been November since I’ve said anything publicly about our family’s situation, though some of you close by have picked up details along the way.

What I can say in the simplest way is that we’re in the midst of a beautiful mess.  This is my dear friend Keisha‘s statement about life (thank you in advance for letting me borrow it, Keisha, I know you understand).  I can’t think of a better way of putting it. As I ramble on with my thoughts maybe you can make sense of it, too.

So back in November, I was on an upswing. Yes, I did wish I was all better, but I was getting better and that can feel so amazing, even before you get to being actually well.  My mom even said to me at one point “Yes, you are definitely doing better because you’ve started to boss me around again.”

December came and we had a lovely Christmas, with all kinds of fun and festivities, candles and music, Pinterest inspiration and delicious sweets, hosting and going to parties.  I wanted to post about these things, but I didn’t because I was worried that other moms reading my blog would think “Wow, she has PPD and she’s doing this?! And making 250 Christmas cookies with her husband? And writing her own liturgy for her family for Advent Sundays?!  What kind of mother does that make me?”

Well, at the time I felt really happy.  I was feeling a deep sense of satisfaction about things in life that I had really forgotten existed.  I felt invigorated (returning back from what you thought was hell can do that to a person).  And I like being crafty and I like Christmas, so sue me.

But in January things changed.  And now I’m the mom who drops her child off at preschool every Monday and Thursday wearing the same sweatpants, winter hat, and my glasses (to distract from my face if I’m not wearing makeup or have been crying). And now I’ve just let out all my self-protective methods of coping.

And did I mention that my mother-in-law has to drive us all to preschool drop-off because I’m on the kind of happy medication that makes it difficult for me to safely maneuver a large moving vehicle with precious children in it?

Yeah, you don’t see any of that on Pinterest.  But then again, maybe you should.

To clarify, there were numerous factors as to why January became such a hard, hard month.  These included changes in medication, tanking sleep, and just the toll this has taken on Jason and I’s relationship.  Jason is trying to help me function while growing a small business and transitioning his career, and finishing up his accounting classes to eventually take the CPA.

Because of the load he carries, sometimes I ask if he wants to partake in any of the wide of array of medications I’ve acquired in my own personal pharmacy.  He turns me down because he knows I’m kinda crazy right now.

I don’t mean to be jokey and sarcastic about this and to make too much light of it.  When it hurts, it hurts a lot.  When it’s scary, it’s really scary, and my personality is one that naturally wants to stick to fear anyway.

It’s also hard to know what to do with myself and I get the impression it’s hard for other people to know what to do with me, too.  There are a special breed of people out there who know just how to listen, what to say and not to say, how to speak or act the love of God into a person’s life who is struggling with mental illness.  I am thankful I know some of these people and they have shown me the love of Christ in hard times.

But, I can’t say that I’m even one of those gifted people and I don’t blame others who aren’t either.  It’s just a hard, uncomfortable, invisible, intangible thing that’s messy.

But back to my original metaphor.  It is messy, but it is beautiful, even on the hardest days. And here are some reasons why:

  • I’ve listened to The Welcome Wagon’s version of “I know That My Redeemer Lives” many times.  I just keep listening to that album over and over.
  • I run (which is such a wonderful thing in my life), even if it is with tears streaming down my face.
  • Even though there have been many times I’ve been so mad at Jason for one reason or another (founded or unfounded), he goes and writes me a love letter on Valentine’s Day.  He tells me that he misses the true me, but that he loves the me that I am now just as much.
  • I think about eternity every day.
  • In the middle of a panic attack, laying on the floor, at least I can look up and see my husband’s face and feel his hand holding mine. I am not left alone (mental note: must repeat that to myself a MILLION times and continue counseling for this very reason).
  • The other day, even though I was feeling down, I found myself sitting at a sunny Golden Gardens in the grass with Ian in my lap, watching the sailboats come in and out and talking about whatever came into his mind.
  • The invigorating and practical conversations I’ve had with my BSF small group and all the ways that what we’re learning about Abraham and Isaac and God’s promises to His children applies to my struggles with such timeliness.
  • The expertise and insight my psychiatric nurse practitioner has given me that has guided me through confusing and unknown territory.  God has used her to talk sense to me and she allows me to share what I believe about God and what He’s doing in my life.
  • Some friends and pastors praying over me and anointing me with oil. It felt like a very natural thing to do (why is that surprising to me?).  And I did not feel shame in sharing or being spiritually cared for in this way.
  • How Ian saw my tears this morning and he came up and started singing me a song he made up about how God is good.
  • Our prayers to God to bring us help for our family when we felt totally at a loss as to what to do next.  And how my mother-in-law was the answer to that prayer by stopping her life in Georgia, taking medical leave from her job indefinitely and coming up here to help our family get through this time.  How is that not God’s beautiful provision in a royal mess?

There are many more, but there’s one last one that I want to share.  It’s just so my personality to have just one more thing to say.

I had seen the millions of heart balloons hanging all over Fred Meyer for weeks and I decided I wanted to get one for Ian for Valentine’s Day (remember, I am superficial about this holiday).  He had a Valentine’s Party that day in preschool and I was going to pick him up and bring the balloon to give it to him when he came out the door.  I wasn’t sure if he would think it was lame or absolutely love it, but I knew there would be no in-between reaction.

Well, he LOVED it.  He thought it was the best thing in the world.  There’s a little courtyard outside preschool where the kids run around, and he bolted out there to pull it around in the air, so proud and excited.

But then, within five minutes, the unthinkable happened.  That shiny red helium-filled heart detached from the string and gently floated away.  It wasn’t like Ian was yanking on it.  In fact, he just stood there as it happened and watched.

And then the tears came, and I think some shame, and he walked over and burrowed his face in my chest.  It was going away, it was gone.  At the very least, I hope someone, somewhere saw it floating in the sky and it put a smile on their face.

Well, we went right back to Fred Meyer and the nice, older ladies thought Ian and his story were precious and were happy to give him another balloon.  This time he picked out a blue heart.

But now here’s where the mess gets really, really beautiful.  We got home and were walking towards the front door and out of nowhere Ian said to me, “Mom, when Jesus comes back for us I want to bring my balloon with me. It can just be me, Jesus, and my balloon and we’ll hang out.”

That, people, is the beauty that God is bringing us all to, in the Kingdom He is making, even now as we deal with hard things.

Ian held onto that blue balloon all day.  He held it as he sat on the couch and watched TV.  He defended it every time someone insisted it was really purple.  He felt extremely threatened with the mention of it being taken away as a suggested consequence.  He loves that balloon so much I think it has become a permanent fixture in our home since he’s attached it to the handrail of our stairs in such a way that we can’t get it untangled.  And we don’t dare cut it with scissors.

Why am I telling you all these details? Because it’s a story I want to remember.  And to say that life has hope even when it’s really, really shitty.  Jesus is coming back, but He’s also here.  God makes a beautiful mess out of it all.  And to Him it’s not really even a mess, but He must understand when we use that terminology to help make sense out of what’s going on in our lives.

This is my story today.  And though I question it at times, many times even in the course of a day, it is beautiful.

“I am convinced that if I had been healthier, I would not have been able to write this book.  I might have been able to write a different book, but I could not have written this one.” -Sarah Young, commenting on the writing of her devotional Jesus Today

On postpartum depression

I’m here on this blog again and ready to do some sharing.  And from seeing my title, you can guess where I’m going with this.

To give a brief update, about a month ago things took a sad turn for me.  Literally sad.  I had been dealing with what I considered adrenal fatigue for the last year and a half, but in the last months I was starting to wonder if it was not postpartum depression.  My dear neighbor read this blog post and suggested that maybe PPD was the problem.  I wasn’t sure at that time; my mood has generally not been great for a while now, but I was functional and I figured when I slept better I would feel better.

And then all of the sudden I felt absolutely miserable.  For a few weeks I vacillated between tearful bouts of feeling overwhelmed, to yelling rages to really elevated anxiety. Then what came a few weeks later was sadness–really sad.  It felt like my brain was sick. And I knew I had ventured into territory that confirmed it was PPD.

Maybe that was the problem all along, I don’t know.  Now that I’ve had some really good days, days where I am able to take deep satisfaction in the daily things of life, I realize that I haven’t felt that way in a very long time.  It feels good now, but it certainly is a contrast.

I am thankful that it became so obvious.  I didn’t like the way I felt or the way life was going or what it was doing to our family, but at least there was clarity as to what the problem was.  Through the last year I have always wondered what is really wrong with me.  So many times it just felt like I was shooting in the dark.  That is torturous in its own way for someone who struggles with wanting to be in control.

It’s been a month since I sat tearfully in my midwife’s office and told her my story.  I have received such great care there, I am really thankful for that, too.  For those of you who have dealt with this sort of thing, you know it still takes time to feel better.  And that has been my journey.

I am thankful for Jason who has listened even when listening means dealing with an angry, fearful person. I’m thankful for the times he’s come home because I’m overwhelmed.  Really, he’s done a million different helpful, compassionate things to make this situation more bearable.

I’m thankful for the friends who have prayed and asked me how I’m doing.  Those who have brought food to us or given hugs or even just acted normal around me so I can feel like life is normal, too.

I’m thankful for family who have come to visit and helped me with the kids and given me time to myself.  The time alone has been really beneficial, especially now that I have some more brain space to do some thinking.  And in that thinking the Lord has given me a couple of observations that I’d like to share.

First, I was finally able to find a metaphor to help me make sense of this experience. It’s like for the last two years I’ve been walking around with a big net cast over me.  Some days I walk around and it gets all tangled to the point I can barely move; those are hard days. Other days it is freer and I may forget its there for brief periods.  But then it catches on something or restricts me or I’m just that’s it there.  And I can’t get it off on my own.

Thankfully, even though I’m still recovering, I am not feeling this way anymore.  But as I said, this word picture was an “ah ha” for me.

The second revelation I had happened while I was running.  I haven’t been exercising regularly for a long time, but last week I felt particularly good and started running again.  Dad & Linda had the kids for me so I headed for the Burke.  I think it was the first time I had ventured there by foot in over a year.

I crossed Leary at the traffic stop, as I have done so many, many times before.  Even though it has been a long time, the movement of my body, the places my feet step, the things I look at, they all come back again as habit, like riding a bike.

As I got to the other end of the cross walk and turned toward the trail I had this thought:

“Right now I just want to pretend I’m the person I was two years ago, before all this happened.”

And for a moment that sounded like a good idea.  And then as I thought about it more, it sounded like a really dumb idea.

I don’t want to be the person I was two years ago.  If I still was, I wouldn’t have her:

Or wrinkles.  I don’t like them, but I like the wisdom I have received in the acquisition of them.

Or two years of living life with Jason and seeing his new career take shape or seeing how God is working on him in this struggle.  How he has held me and let me cry, with no way to explain what was wrong.  Those moments have been like salve in areas where our relationship is wounded.

Or the honest conversation I had with my neighbor and the wetness in her eyes when I told her that I wanted to have more kids but if it was going to be like this again, I couldn’t imagine it.

Or the look on my doctor’s face the time I sat in her office and shed tears as I told her that I was having a hard time with fear since my last miscarriage.  The look on her face was one of compassion and empathy.

Or the conversation I had with a close friend on the phone and how her story has been so different from mine and yet there are parts of it that tell me that she understands the loss I feel about certain things.  She has given me many wise words to ponder.

Or the email I received from my father-in-law who said he was praying hard for me and that Jesus was holding me in His arms.

Or the long conversation I had with my mom, sitting in the back of the van in the dark, sharing some things with her about my situation that I had not before.  She listened and mothered me and put things in perspective.  And of course, as any good mom would do, she called me the next day to see how I was holding up (she does this frequently).

Or how I’ve seen God take care of my children in a time when in a lot of ways I haven’t been completely present to them.  Somehow I’ve been able to teach and discipline and listen and give to them; not perfectly, but well.  How they have passed through this time is a miracle.

And what about all the times I have had to call upon the Lord because I am so tired and weary?  Or the times I’ve been forgiven for my anger, my complaints, my quest for control? These are precious jewels to me.

If I sat and thought about it longer, I would come up with many more stories. It’s true that in my darkest days, I didn’t feel that God was doing anything good with this.

But as you can see, I am seeing His goodness more and more.  And maybe at some point, what I went through will of help to another weary mom–I can hope for that.

A good day

“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psa 118:24).

Today was one of those days when it was easy for me to rejoice and be glad.  I felt more like myself than not (the self of about two years ago), which is really saying something.

Because it was one of my good days, I want to memorialize it with the hopes that I can look back on it on one of my hard days and be encouraged that one of the good days will indeed come again.

1. I slept in until 8:30am.  I got ten hours of sleep!  This is monumental for me and it hasn’t happened in a long time.  I woke up feeling pretty refreshed, not so frazzled and anxious.  And I went throughout my day having a good amount of energy.

2. It was a beautiful Indian summer day.  I am really loving the weather here right now.  The warm has sort of a cold, fall feeling to it, if that makes any sense.  The sky was bright blue, no clouds.

3. Ian and I spent some time out on the deck painting with watercolors.  In all the art classes I’ve taken, I never really liked painting with watercolors.  But today I changed my mind about that.  I have a nice set and the pigments are so deep in color.  It was fun playing with them.

4. In order to bless Jason I battled Home Depot.  I use the word battled because when I walkin there I feel like there is no rhyme or reason to it and I can never find someone to help me.  But Jason suggested I go and get a few things we’ve needed and I felt I had the emotional reserves in case things went south.

So, I took the kids and you know what, it wasn’t bad at all.  There were people in orange aprons left and right to help me.  One guy even said “You look confused, can I help you?” and I don’t even think he worked there!

They didn’t have one item I needed but a nice man directed me to an appliance store that was right on the way home.  They had the utensil holder we’ve been needing for months.  Now utensils won’t fall through and jam the bottom rack when I’m trying to close the dishwasher door.

5. I thought about exercising.  I didn’t actually do it, but I thought about it in the way that I used to think about it when I considered myself an athlete–if that makes any sense.  Like it was real, like I could do it.

6. I only needed a short rest in the afternoon  and I spent that time reading a bit, which was lovely.

7. I got all the laundry done.  This is probably my favorite chore.  It produce immediate tangible results and it’s one thing in life (and there really are few) that can get neatly put away in its place.

8. I found Ian’s Sally car (no, we didn’t pay $37 as Amazon now offers it).  She disappeared right after Imogen was born.  I knew she had to be in the house but it seemed she had vanished.  14 months later I found her underneath a heat register (albeit one I was replacing via Home Depot) in the ductwork.  I pulled her out and was in total shock.  Ian carried her around the rest of the day (part of the time in the broken dishwasher utensil holder I replaced).

9. I got a surprise email from my neighbor who told me she had boxes of organic tomatoes she was selling out of her yard.  She helps run an urban co-op and the last tomato order I wasn’t able to get in on.  But she unexpectedly received another one (and they were cheaper) . We ran down and got ourselves 60 lbs. (I know I’m crazy but look at these beauties!)

10. Jason came home as Imogen was going to bed and we got to pray and sing with her before laying her down.  It’s not often we can coordinate that.  Imogen just loves her dad–she wanted him to hold her and kept giving him kisses.  It puts such joy in my heart to see how much Jason loves being the favorite.

Off to bed now.  Jason is behind my shoulder say “You are going to regret this . . .”

An update on my health

Right now I am sitting in a quiet house.  It’s quiet because Imogen is taking a nap and Ian and Jason aren’t here.  They left yesterday for our church’s annual camping trip.  As much as I love my guys and my church family dearly, I decided to stay home and get some rest.

And now with a bit of extra time, I figured I would finally write and give an update on how I’ve been doing since my last post about my adrenal fatigue.

Through the spring and into the summer, I made good progress in gaining back sleep-filled nights and more energy during the day.  I have also made some dietary changes and added some supplements to my regimen and I think this has helped. I am trying to avoid stressing about things, too.

This has led to many more days when I feel like me. Some days are even so good that I wonder if I’m just making this fatigue up in my head!

The summer has been a busy one.  When July came around and we traveled to Minnesota I wondered how I would manage.  But it all went off without a hitch.  I kept plugging along, having fun and enjoying myself without having to slow down from fatigue or feeling ragged and anxious from lack of sleep. I even started back up with exercise.  With each new day, new activity, new challenge, I wondered if I would hit a wall, but I didn’t.

Then August came along.  By the time I hit mid-month I was going way too hard. I kinda saw it coming, but I just kept going until I hit that wall I was looking for.  Part of it was circumstance in that we just happened to have a lot of visitors and activities during August.  But I also realize I wasn’t taking care of myself – staying too busy and stressing about certain things.  I plowed through the warning signs my body was giving me.  This ended with me back to sleepless nights and days filled with highs of nervousness and lows of exhaustion.

It has taken me longer than I was expecting to bounce back from this relapse, but I think that’s because I fell harder.  In all my sleeplessness and navel-gazing I’ve had some time to think about how I got here, and here’s what I’ve got.

I remember as a 15-year-old driving fast and never worrying that that could kill me (I’m sure my parents saw that terrible gleam in my eye as I sped off).  Fifteen years later it’s not hard for me to see that was stupid.  I’ve slowed down considerably (plus, the mini-van just doesn’t have the same get-up-and-go that my Volkswagen did 😉 ).

At 30, I think I’m learning something similar; I’ve got to slow down and take care in life.  It means I cannot assume on my own strength.  I’ve got to rest and trust and be okay with a mess or the future or how I’m perceived or how things are not going my way.  It means using what strength I’m given to love my husband and kids, work quietly with my hands, and draw near to God daily. It is not as dramatic and exciting as flying treacherously around a corner, but it’s wiser, more loving to others, and it pleases God.

Obviously this is a work in progress.  I wouldn’t have just gotten done explaining how I’ve been doing it wrong if it wasn’t.  There is so much more to it than just taking care of my body; I’ve got years of habitual worrying to address.  I’ve got that daily agenda that is just so stinkin’ hard for me to put down.  And there’s the guilt I feel for all the things I think I should be doing.

In all this, 2 Corinthians 4:16 has been very helpful to me: “So we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”

This promise has lifted me up, even if it’s just for a moment, out of how I feel and reminded me that God must be growing something green in my soul.  This struggle is for good.  I am learning and changing. Even if on the outside I look and feel like a dry root, God assures me there is life going on underneath, inside.

Who knows, maybe some day I’ll be like a big tree planted by a stream.  That would be pretty cool.  And really, isn’t that the goal, no matter obstacles we face in life?

But for now, today, I will be thankful for my little green sprout, slow down, and take my vitamins.

An explanation for my absence

Yeah, I know I’ve been MIA for months.  And I’ve actually written several posts about how life has been going, but most of them have been whining and complaining with no helpful conclusions.

But for fear of writer’s block settling in (my inspiration in the shower or doing dishes has almost entirely ceased), I must attempt to write something useful.  So here goes.

If you see me on a regular basis or you’ve been following this blog for any considerable amount of time you know that I’ve been sick and tired off and on for quite some time.  It started around the time I had a miscarriage/finished my triathlon and became pregnant with Imogen.  Being pregnant is a good reason for feeling lousy so no further explanation was needed back then.  And then that precious little girl came along and with her, postpartum.  That’s a no-brainer, too.

Three months passed after her birth, and then six months.  And it still felt like I was just trying to survive. I know every baby is different, but I was feeling worlds better after I had Ian.  I tried not compare, but it has been hard not to.

I had a bright spot in my cloudy weather post-Hawaii.  I had about two weeks where I felt like myself again.  I got dressed most days and I did the dishes.  I was excited for the future and I started planning things.  Yes, things are turning around, I thought.

But then I was back to sick and tired.  And to be honest, angry and impatient and sad and anxious and just generally depressing to be around.  I had a particularly awful bout of the stomach flu at that time and then that turned into some weird ear and throat thing.  And then it turned it other weird things:  back pain, panic attacks, melancholy, really dramatic hypoglycemic symptoms, and a racing heart.  Not to mention I was laying awake asleep at night even though I was dead tired.

I scoured the internet to self-diagnose (is this what most stay-at-home-women do or am I just a hypochondriac?) and came to the conclusion it was adrenal fatigue.  The doctor confirmed this shortly after.

Jason has been pretty amazing through the whole thing.  He has listened to me say “I am SO tired” about a million times.  He has told me I look beautiful in my bathrobe and that things are going to be okay.  He has rightly defended himself when I’ve said “You don’t believe I’m really sick, do you?!”, while not taking the accusation personally.  And he’s done a lot of dishes and cooking.

But even Superman has his kryptonite.  And for Jason, this is a kidney stone.  He woke me up at 2am in Marchto tell me he had one.  Thankfully we avoided the ER with some expired Vicodin, but it was still time to call in reinforcements.

Enter Mother T.  She flew in that day and whipped this house into shape.  She took care of the kids so I could rest and gave Jason some time off to get a break and to do his day job of work and school.

That’s when recovery actually began, and since then things have gotten progressively better.  Sleeping in, afternoon naps, lots of supplements, asking for help, and eating more regularly have been big helps to me.

On a philosophic note, I can’t say that I really have responded with all that much maturity through this process.  I know I tend to be pessimistic and this experience has definitely brought that out in full force.

But I’m finally getting to a place where I’m realizing that God actually wants to teach me some things from this experience.  Why that’s shocking, I do not know. Up until recently I’ve just wanted to get a hold of it, figure out a solution, and snuff it out, and get on with life.  That is still my default mode.

But as I learn more about adrenal fatigue, that’s just not how recovery works.  It takes time.  It involves hits and misses.  You can do practical things like take supplements and get sleep, but it also involves changing habits.  And habits are oftentimes connected to the heart.  And the heart is complicated and hard to change.

I am on that road of habit/heart change and one of the biggest things I am learning is that I just need to let it go–whatever it is.

I cannot control if I wake up in the middle of the night and lay there wide awake.  In fact, when I try to control it it seems to just make things worse.  I am not the only one that can quiet my fussy baby or put her down for a nap. Jason can discipline Ian the “right” way.  Other people can fold my laundry differently than I do and I don’t have to refold it later.  They can do my dishes and put them away where I wouldn’t put them.  No, I tell myself, you do not hold everything together.

It’s ludicrous that I would think that because as I write it the verse from Colossians comes to mind: ” . . . and in him all things hold together” (1:17). Maybe that’s it; maybe I’ve just been trying to play God of this little world I have going and being God is very exhausting (that is, unless you’re actually God).  Plus, I can’t even seem to do it right!

Another thing I’m getting hints from God on is that I’m wasting what little energy I have impressing people.  I know I complain about how I’m feeling but I still work hard to make my house or my kids or my appearance look like I don’t actually have a problem.  That would just be too uncomfortably honest.

Thankfully, being tired helps all this.  At a certain point even I am just too exhausted to care. My breaking point is high and I wouldn’t say I’ve truly, truly let go, but I am making progress.

My hope is that as I regain energy and zeal for life, that I would not fall back into these old, bad habits.  On the days when I feel good, this has become a problem.  And then I have a few bad days and God resets me (I hope it doesn’t take a million bad days, though!).

Lastly, in an effort to be more thankful in this season of life and just to be generally more positive (another thing God is teaching me), here is tangible proof that I am getting better and that God is doing much in my life.

  • I’m sleeping through the night.
  • I’m disciplining Ian with much more patience and grace; I can that he is happier and our relationship is better because of it.
  • I’ve planted flowers in my pots on the deck and front step.
  • I’m playing with my kids more and surprise, surprise, they really are delightful!
  • Jason and I are fighting less.
  • My silly side is coming back (cue Jason rolling his eyes).
  • I’m excited and starting to plan for Imogen’s first birthday.
  • I’ve ridden my bike twice in the last few weeks.
  • I look forward to the future.
  • I am writing again.
And here’s a picture of my kiddos just because they put a smile on my face.

P.S. Thanks to everyone who has graciously listened to me complain 🙂

My very productive year

For me, 2011 can be summed up in just a few words: tired, sick, pregnant, postpartum, sick, tired, sick, tired.  And maybe some more sick and tired.

So when I woke up on New Year’s Day in a bad mood, I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised.  I couldn’t shake some deep-seated discontentedness.  I know this; it usually leads me to anxiety which leads me to a frantic sense of urgency that tempts me to reorganize my house or go out and buy a new wardrobe.

On New Year’s I asked myself “What have I been doing all year?”  I wasn’t really sure.  I think all I saw was a pile of dirty laundry and some scraps of food on the floor.  Apparently not much, I told myself.

And then I let the self-pity come in.  It feels good in the moment.  It makes me feel like I deserve a lot of things.  But I know it will only result in me feeling lonely and it steals from me any reasonable perspective I have on my own life (and I need all the help I can get in the reality department!).

I’d like to say that at that point I ran to God because I knew that wasn’t where He wanted me.  And I suppose that was part of it.  But I mainly ran to Him because I didn’t want to lay down in bed that night and feel like crap because I had fed my flesh and then let it pour out on my husband and kids in some nasty ways.  I’ve been there before.

So I started journaling.  And you know what? I started thinking of a lot of things that did happen in 2011.  And in the end, I am quite pleased with the list.

  1. I grew a little girl inside my body and I gave birth to her (and she is wonderful!)
  2. I think learning how to obey finally started to click.
  3. I went to Hawaii and came back feeling refreshed (I promise I will share more about that soon).
  4. I was drawn into deeper friendship with another gal.
  5. After over three years of wondering what Jason will do next in his career, God gave us clear direction and has opened some incredible doors for us to walk through in 2012.
  6. I wrote from my heart.
  7. I took a few good pictures.
  8. I ate some delicious food.
  9. I ran a 10k with a smile on my face.
  10. I nursed my babe for going on seven months.
  11. I weeped with a friend who weeped.
  12. I spent some really productive, life-changing time in counseling.
  13. I tried out a new haircut (even if I ended up going back to my old one).

I know the list seems kinda random, but it was what the Spirit put upon my heart in just a few minutes.

That was going to be the end of my post, but then this morning I had another revelation.

At the time I was cleaning up poop.  There’s been diarrhea among us (I know, TMI) and so there I was standing over the sink scrubbing ickies out of pajamas and underwear.

At first I was annoyed and thought to myself, “Seriously, this is what I’m doing right now?!”

But then I heard God say, “This is your Kingdom work.”

It made me realize that what I’m doing is important.  This is big for me because I tend to feel like I’m not doing a whole lot for God, or that what I’m doing doesn’t count or isn’t good enough.

But God says I’m doing Kingdom work today and since today is not unlike many other days I’ve had in the last year, I can say 2011 was a very productive and important year!

So I barely rode my bike this year.  So my house is a mess and I wish I had more money.  So I’m still wondering whose body I’m living in (cause it’s not the same one I had a year ago!).  So we’re only now just getting out of survival mode.

So what?  I’m doing Kingdom work!