Category Archives: personal thoughts

When Things Don’t Go As Planned (aka Parenthood)

Let me tell you about a trip that didn’t go as planned. I believe this is what they call life.

Last week, our family packed up and headed to Memphis for a few days.

The hubs had a work training there, which meant all of his travel-related expenses work were compensated. And when we realized that my days off coincided with his training days, we thought we could take advantage of an opportunity for a cheap, mini-vacay.

I’d never been to Memphis, so I had fun looking into the free or cheap kid-friendly attractions. I was a little nervous about exploring a city with just myself and my two little ones, but I was getting excited about it. About a week before we were supposed to leave, we learned that his company paired him with a roommate–someone from a branch in Florida. Big bummer. The hotel was our largest expense. So, we debated it and decided we’d still go. I found a good deal on Hotwire.

We got there around 10pm on Monday night. The kids were in pretty good spirits, but a bit over tired seeing as it was hours after bed time. To make a long story short, the crib they promised us (twice) wasn’t available and the girl wouldn’t sleep. So, we packed up and moved hotels after midnight. It was about as much fun as it sounds.

Ellis slept pretty horribly for the majority of the trip. She was cutting a tooth. Our neighbors next door asked if we were the ones with the baby crying all night.

To make matters worse, I developed mastitis on Tuesday (uncommon at this point in the game, I know) and felt like I had the flu. I was definitely questioning if we made the “right” decision in coming.

I share all of this for two reasons. One, this is life with young kids (as every other parent can attest). I knew the trip wouldn’t be easy, but I underestimated how challenging it would be with two little wild cards. Everything is just a little trickier where kids are involved. After talking about it, we realize we need to adjust to the phase we’re in and see this trip as a way to pick up a few tricks for the next time around.

More importantly, though, this trip served as a microcosm of what parenthood is for me: learning to let go and trust Jesus. I’m not in control of my life the way I think I am. I like to stick to the plan and know the path ahead. But, there are so many extenuating circumstances over which I have no control. And in the midst of my stress and fear there is an invitation to be perfectly cared for and walk minute by minute, trusting. I am making progress. I’m not there yet.

Memphis wasn’t all bad. I think Liam had fun. The new hotel was a better location and fit for our time there. The kids slept beautifully the last night we were there. We had some great local food even though we didn’t manage to get to most of the places on my list. It was all provision for what we really needed.

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Pictures include our time at The Memphis Firehouse Museum, Shelby Farms Park, The Memphis Zoo, and some sweet sibling love 😉

 

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Filed under being a parent, faith, personal thoughts, travel

Making Room for More (and Other Secrets for Living in Small Spaces)

Our den has morphed yet again!

I know it seems like we’re changing things in there every other week–and trust me, that is not my personality–but we had an amazing offer come our way, and we just couldn’t pass it up!

A few weeks ago, some friends of ours mentioned that they were getting rid of their couch and matching love seat since they were getting an upgrade. They are really nice and neutral and in great shape, even after years of use.  The best part? They were offering to give them for FREE!

We knew we wanted them (partially as a longer-term investment in seating space) but had to figure out a way to make it work.

Adding furniture to our house means something’s gotta go. So, the desk moved to the dining room and the bookshelf/console in front of the dining room window went to the attic, ready to sell.

DSCN0592Now, the dining room window looks like this:

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photo 5The desk feels a little casual for the space (good thing we have a casual house!), but I really think it was the best option.

Then, we just played furniture Tetris, and here is where everything landed:

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Our house is SMALL (1,200 sq feet), and with two children, it is feeling increasingly so. Just as I described our space challenge in the kids’ room, the same goes for every room in our house.

And that got me thinking that I would share a few tips that I’ve picked up from living in a home with limited space:

1. EVERYTHING must have a place

I think this is one of the most important things for organizing any space. That folding chair, the mug on the counter, the craft supplies…where do they live? The kids get a new toy at Christmas? Make it fit into the room’s plan. Having a place–on purpose–for each thing in your home makes clean up a ton easier (and quicker!), especially if everyone in your house knows where that place is.

2. Purge

Keep the mentality of “spring cleaning” year round. If you live in a small house, this is a necessity. We have small (and few) closets in this old ranch, so we have to make them count. It’s not helpful to have those full of things that I don’t really need.

3. Rethink the current set up often, especially when something new is introduced

Rearrange. Keep things fluid in your set up. This is a newer concept for me. We got a new couch and love seat. So, what was gonna go? Technically, we may have been able to cram an extra sofa in without losing anything in the room, but we like that we still feel like it breathes a little bit.

4. Scale furniture to the size of the room

The longer we live in this house, the harder this is. But, it’s helpful to not have too much or too big of furniture pieces in a small room. A huge armoire overwhelms the space and dwarfs the room. Keep things to scale.

A few examples of space-saving techniques in our house:

store wrapping paper above the door frame in a       closet

store wrapping paper above the door frame in a closet

use a kitchen magnetic knife strip to store bobby pins, safety pins, etc.

use a kitchen magnetic knife strip to store bobby pins, safety pins, etc.

hang command hooks inside closets for bag storage

hang command hooks inside closets for bag storage

add shelves to small bathroom closets to maximize storage

add shelves to small bathroom closets to maximize storage

add dresser to children's bedroom closet when there's no space in the room

add dresser to children’s bedroom closet when there’s no space in the room

Does anyone have contributing ideas? Please share! And happy spring cleaning! 🙂

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Filed under home improvements, personal thoughts

Finding Relief from Myself

As I am *mostly* on the other side of a really tough season, I thought I’d share a lesson learned from the challenge of the last year-ish.

I am what you might call introspective.

In my normal state of mind, it’s easy for me to over think things and analyze. I mean it. I think…a lot…about lots of different things. And I believe that is part of what makes me, me. It can have some good to it.

But when I was in the thick of my post-partum depression, it was bad. I would do and do and do all day without time for my precious thoughts. Then, at night, I couldn’t fall asleep- even though I was sleep deprived and physically exhausted- because my mind was making up for lost time. As I’ve shared before, I am also a fixer. I want to find every little thing wrong with me and weed it out (preferably as quickly as possible), which encouraged me to get lost deep in thought. I even started to understand the appeal of drug use as an escape.

It can easily turn into a pretty nasty cycle of dissect, analyze, judge, and criticize some more.

Sometimes I would get in these grooves and just want to shake my head until I could start again with a clean slate. But, I felt it was okay to participate in this cycle because I wanted to be wise. I wanted to be thoughtful about my actions. I wanted to be Christlike. That’s good, right?

Well, I let it get out of control. I was spending way too much time looking at myself.

Psalm 61:2 says, Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I”

I’m realizing that I can pray for God to lift me out of that cycle of me, myself, and I. I can be freed up to look at something else.

It was also around that time that someone in my bible study spoke about Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s “For every look at self, take ten looks at Christ.” I’m challenged by that. I know my life is nothing near those proportions, and I want to experience it.

So, I guess I’ve learned that it’s not up to me to find and fix everything that needs fixing. If I ask Him to search me, He is faithful to do it.

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A Few Things You Should Know About Post-Partum Depression

I have post-partum depression. This is actually my second time. I realize that being so public with it may invite some criticism, but I feel like sharing this is something I should do. My reason for blogging about this is two-fold: one, I don’t want social media to give anyone false ideas about what my (and the many women who suffer with this) life is really like; and, two, I think there is a lingering stigma attached to post-partum depression, and so many mamas suffer alone.

Don’t misunderstand, I am not an expert. I’m speaking strictly from my experience, though I would imagine my experience would have a lot of overlap with others who have dealt with this (possibly even depression in general).

Also, let me get this out of the way: my precious girl is now 3 1/2 months old, and I couldn’t love her more. This isn’t about if I’m grateful enough, a good enough mom, or even if I’m trusting Jesus enough. Post-partum depression turns you into a person that you don’t recognize, and it has become my belief that you need things like counselors, support groups, and medicines to help you to get through it.

As I said, this is my second go round. You would (or I did) think that I could do something to prevent it if I’ve been down that road before. It’s been very discouraging to feel like I can’t seem to have a baby without ending up here. But I know that I can’t trust that feeling.

Each time, it has been a LONG road of feeling overwhelmed at the littlest (and not-so-little) things, feeling completely spent physically and emotionally, and feeling trapped in a deep pit before I could admit that I needed something outside of me to help me. And while I could recognize the signs and symptoms as they were approaching, I felt the need to work harder at “pulling it together”. I would beat myself up for not having enough patience and for allowing myself to go on these emotional roller coaster rides. I would feel frustration when it was hard to bond (with my screaming, inconsolable infant). I would feel sadness and anger (at myself) if I perceived that others could. I would feel guilt when baby was actually happy, but I was still sad. I would feel guilt for having all of those feelings when I have such a fantastic support system.

I was recently talking to a friend who just had her third child about how I was doing…really. She offered sympathy and encouragement, saying that I would be surprised at how many mamas in our community have dealt with this and needed to go on an anti-depressant. And it made me think, How silly that we don’t talk about it! I’m not saying that anyone struggling with post-partum depression should walk around telling everyone they see. I don’t think that is helpful or healthy. And I have moments of actual happiness in the midst of this, but I have learned that it is not doing anyone (yourself, mainly) a favor to suffer in silence.

I know that many women feel shame. I must say that I don’t feel a whole lot of shame about it (when I’m thinking straight, anyway), but I still find it so hard to reach out for help. For starters, I have a complex about sounding like a complainer, and it’s hard to admit that things are still not going well. But mostly, it’s hard to have the energy to get help. When I’m in that crisis state, everything feels like a mountain that must be moved. It’s overwhelming. In all seriousness, please don’t ask me what I want to do for dinner. I feel panicky when trying to schedule appointments (especially because it means trying to coordinate child care). When I’m not in a crisis state, I believe I’m finally getting a handle on things, and I don’t need that other stuff (i.e. counseling, medicine). It’s hard for me to decide that I need help because I’m not in a state to make good decisions.

That is why I would say, to all those who know and love someone (who might be) facing post-partum depression, be patient (God bless you, husbands). Don’t expect much. Offering all kinds of well-intentioned (but unsolicited) advice can make things worse. Give clear and simple instructions if it’s necessary. Don’t avoid these women either. They need your love and support. Be supportive of the decisions that they make and acknowledge that what they are going through is just plain hard.

And to the mamas who are crying and feeling hopeless months after baby’s arrival, you aren’t alone. Having a baby can do a real number on your mental wellness. But it won’t be this way forever. I can say with confidence that, as much as there were moments in my depression that I thought would kill me, I am so amazed (on the other side of depression) at the beauty of their creation. He is so smart, so fantastic, so creative and joyful. She is so lovely and so uniquely her. That is why, for me, it is so worth it.

One of my first thoughts after finally starting an antidepressant with my firstborn was Oh my, why didn’t I do this sooner? I just want to encourage you (and I’m reminding myself as much as anything) that there is help, and you don’t have to feel miserable.

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As Iron Sharpens Iron

Today marks the sixth wedding anniversary for the hubs and me!

As I reflect on this fact, it draws me to consider change. More specifically, change in myself. I tend to want to believe that I don’t change with time. Of course, that is ridiculous. Time changes you. Experience changes you. The hope is that, for me, these will be changes for the better. And not to make me a better person for me, but to turn me into a more accurate reflection of Christ. That is called refinement.

In my experience, marriage is extremely refining. 

We have had some painful moments in these six years. Moments that challenged the commitment we had to our marriage. But, as God is gracious, we worked hard through those situations, received some wonderful counseling, and are easily more in love today than the day we proclaimed our vows.

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I love this man. He is my better half. He is giving, kind, and incredibly smart. When he comes home from a long day at work, he jumps in to help with dinner and kids immediately…every time. He loves to laugh and helps me to lighten up. He challenges me in my thinking. He makes me happy. He is a phenomenal father to our children.

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I heard Jeff Bridges say once in an interview (when asked about the key to a long and happy marriage) that every marriage goes through hard times, but when you persevere and see those things through, the marriage becomes such a treasured and valuable thing that you never want to lose it.

No one else can feel the pain and joys that we’ve had so far on this journey. They belong to us. And I pray we have many, many more in years to come.

Happy Anniversary (and Father’s Day), Honey. I love you.

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Journaling Hope

So, I have several posts I’ve been meaning to write with neither the time nor the energy these days. Another day, then.

I took a few minutes to journal today, though, (something I’ve been in the habit of for years) when both kids were asleep (a miracle, I might add). It seems I rarely make time to journal these days, but every time I do, I remember how it blesses me to pour out my heart to God on paper. It’s a healing balm for my weary soul every time. I ended up perusing through some old posts, which I also have a habit of doing, and was so encouraged by some verses from the Psalms I wrote out last year. So, I thought I’d share them with you…in case anyone else needs a little encouragement and perspective on life like I do.

My soul finds rest in God ALONE; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my Rock and my Salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.  -PSALM 62

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down green pastures, He leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul.  -PSALM 23

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.  -PSALM 90

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire but you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  -PSALM 73

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy.  -PSALM 28

I WAIT for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.  -PSALM 130

Oh Lord, that you would make these things true of my heart. I want to follow you.

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Welcome to the World, Ellis!

We are overjoyed to announce the birth of our sweet daughter, Ellis Rose!

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She made her grand entrance (more on that to come) on Monday afternoon, April 15th (just two days before her due date). Ellis weighed in at a petite 6lb 11oz and measured 20in long. She is adjusting wonderfully to life outside the womb. Liam could not be any sweeter or more interested in her, and Daddy is beside himself in love! We are so overwhelmed at God’s goodness to us–a constant reminder that it’s far more than anything we could ever earn.

We love baby Ellis.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to all the incredible family and community who are loving and supporting us.

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“For from Him and to Him and through Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.” Romans 11:36

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