Treat Yourself Tuesday

cookiesThis day has been a long time coming! Usually when I sit down to relax, my mind is still reeling with the to-do lists and guilt about all the undone housework. Not on Treat Yo Self Tuesday! I refused to feel the guilt! So what does a stay at home mom of three with no sitter and no money do to treat herself?

First, I stayed in cozy pajamas all day! You’ve got to be comfy if you are going to be treated. I fried up a ton of bacon and didn’t feel bad about eating most of it myself. Then the kids and I baked cookies. A LOT of cookies. My husband didn’t even realize how many we had eaten when he got home because we made so many the leftovers looked like a full batch. I got chocolate chips at Town Talk, the local salvage grocer… so no extravagance here.

While my daughter and baby were napping, I introduced Jeremy to The Sound of Music. This was my absolute favorite when I was his age. He thought the movie was kind of slow; so, we watched music clips on YouTube… that’s almost as good as watching the movie, you still get the premise. He loooved the marionette scene with the yodeling goats! We had to watch that clip several times. This may not seem like a big deal, but usually I use nap time to get things done around the house; so, to watch a movie in the middle of the day is huge.

While we were watching our show, I put on a clay mask. Jeremy thought my blue face was hilarious and he wanted some too. The nice thing about those masks is there is enough in one packet for two applications. I usually get my face masks from Wal Mart for about a dollar.

This may not seem like much to some, but for me this was a sweet day of pampering, relaxing, and sharing memories with my kids. What do you do to Treat Yo Self?

Advertisements

When God’s Calling Doesn’t Make Sense

 pray-2558490_19201 Corinthians 1:25 “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

Have you ever thought about this verse before? How can God be foolish? How can He be weak? Of course you have to take this verse in context. Paul is describing to the Corinthians how God uses what seems foolishly simple, Christ’s crucifixion for our sins, to confound those who are wise in the ways of the world. It seems to be His way of bringing low the pride of the world. None of us can come to the cross with pride in our hearts. None of us can cover our sins by our own wisdom and understanding, but in humility and repentance we must bow before a carpenter who never sinned but died a sinner’s death; One who rose from the dead and is now seated at the right hand of the Father.

From the very beginning of God’s Word in Genesis, God has shown us example after example of how He uses the humble or the foolish to accomplish His work. He created a nation from a man and wife who were barren and old. He used a shepherd boy to defeat a giant-warrior and become the greatest king Israel has ever known. He used a murderer to lead His people out of bondage in Egypt, and a couple thousand years later used another murderer to lead the Gentiles out of the bondage of their sin to the knowledge of Jesus as savior.

Is God done using foolishness for His glory? Absolutely not! It serves to magnify His power and goodness! Maybe you don’t think you amount to much. Maybe your path does not seem to fit with other people’s expectations, but if you are following the prodding of God and living within the boundaries of His Word, He WILL use you for His glory.

I see a woman who has always wanted to raise her children at home but fears she will never be enough unless she has a career. I see a blue-collar worker who is passionate about his work but is looked down on because he never went to college. I see a teacher who pours her heart and soul into teaching but who feels her efforts go unnoticed. Does it make sense for a woman to give her young years to needy little people? Does it make sense for the man with the high IQ to devote his life to his craft and struggle to make ends meet? Does it make sense for a teacher to grade papers and create lesson plans aimed to inspire young minds when those lessons appear to fall on indifferent ears? To the world this is foolishness! But to God?

We all have a choice before us. Do we choose the safe path, the one well trod, upon which everyone looks with approval? Or do we choose the path with no apparent reward other than that of following Jesus? Let me tell you, if you choose the latter, the Bible promises that if you “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, all these things shall be added unto you,” (Matthew 6:32-34). We must live day by day with our hands open, expecting that if we follow God with all our hearts, our Loving Father will pave the way and care for our needs along the way. It may not make sense to the rest of the world, but even if you are dwelling in the foolishness of God, it is far better than to dwell in the wisdom of man.

Mid-Week Review: Chlorhexidine (Hibiclens)

MS_4Chlorhexidine-Surgical-Handwash_500mL_v1It might seem strange that I chose to write about surgical soap this week, but I have discovered Chlorhexidine to be a very useful product. No, I’m not getting paid to write about it. I just think that if you are a woman, you should know about its benefits.

If you have had a baby, you have probably heard of Group B Strep. In the last few weeks of pregnancy, you will be given the option to test for GBS, a common bacterium that has a slight chance of infecting your newborn. If you are tested positive, most hospitals will recommend that you to take antibiotics intravenously during labor. But what if you could decrease the chances of having GBS altogether? Washing the vaginal area a few days before the test with Chlorhexidine can significantly decrease your chance of testing positive. This is actually the protocol in Europe!

Another added benefit I have discovered is to use Chlorhexidine to wash armpits before shaving. Surely I’m not the only one who struggles with a dull razor because of deodorant residue. It feels like no matter how much I scrub, I can’t get all the deodorant off. Chlorhexidine takes the deodorant right off, no scrubbing necessary. It saves my razors AND I can get a closer shave.

I just wanted to put this out there! Hope it helps. If you want to read more about Group B Strep and Chlorhexidine, check out this link: http://www.drmomma.org/2009/09/chlorhexidine-hibiclens-protocol-for.html

Potty Training Time!

potty training II

It’s that time again. That time when everything in the house smells faintly of urine. That time when your child goes through about five outfits a day. That time when you try not to eat all the reward M&M’s while you wait for your child to poop. That time when you say bye-bye to diapers forever! It’s potty training time!

Iris has been showing signs of potty-training readiness for a while but I have been putting her off since life has been so hectic with moving and a new baby. Now that I’m starting to find a rhythm, it finally feels like the right time. She has been pretty good about telling me when she needs to pee and poop; sometimes she will even go the bathroom and climb onto the toilet herself. Now we are letting her go diaper free and taking her to the bathroom every hour. She does get frustrated by being put on the toilet when it isn’t her idea. I am tempted to just let her lead, but that could mean a lot more accidents.

For some reason it seems easier potty training this time around than it was with Jeremy. Maybe it’s a birth order thing, maybe a boy thing, but looking back I think I started Jeremy out way too young. He was showing interest in going on the potty when he was one and a half; so, I played it up, bought the candy, and took him to the toilet every hour. He caught on pretty fast and we were good as gold for about two months. Then one day he just started going on the floor. He didn’t care about the mess. He just didn’t want the hassle of going to the toilet anymore.

This frustrated me to no end! He knew how to do it. He had been completely potty trained for two months. What happened? We battled over it for a long time, but I finally realized that he just needed to mature emotionally. Sure, he had the mechanics down, but emotionally he still needed time. I had put pressure on myself to get him trained because I had judged so many moms before me whose kids weren’t trained until it looked like they were walking around wearing Depends. Lesson learned… don’t judge other moms… when it is your turn to go through tough seasons with your kids, you will wish you could take it all back.

Shortly after I decided to take the pressure off my son and give him some time to mature, I heard a radio broadcast by Dr. Meg Meeker on Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk. She said that the average age for boys to be potty trained is three and a half! Whew! What a relief! There is a lot of social pressure to get them trained early and I think a lot of it stems from day care and preschool programs. I have been so blessed to have the luxury of staying home with my children, but how difficult it must be for moms who have to work!

Once Jeremy turned three, he was ready to follow through with going on the toilet. I’m not going to say that we never had any issues after that because during our move he did regress for a time. Now that we have settled down into our house, he doesn’t have any problems. These days I only have to make sure he doesn’t pee in public… because you know, for boys it’s SO much fun!

Here’s to easy sailing with Iris. Pray for me ya’ll and send me your stories! I can always do with a good laugh while cleaning up pee.

 

If you want to listen to some of James Dobson’s encouraging messages, check out: http://www.drjamesdobson.org

Time to Regroup

crayons-coloring-book-coloring-book-159579It hits like a ton of bricks… the guilt… who made me a mom anyway? A couple times a month I go into panic mode. Oh my gosh! I forgot to teach Iris her shapes! How is Jeremy going to survive if he doesn’t know all the days of the week? I don’t know about you guys, but I have to regroup a couple times a week to stay on track… and to put myself back in a realistic state of mind. I envy those of you who can plan months ahead and stay focused and organized. It just isn’t in my genes… sorry Mom and Dad.

So, here I am trying to create an educational game plan. What do I want our school to look like? How much should be structured and how much should be play? What do I do when my 4 year old flat out refuses to cooperate? I have been resorting to handing out candy and pennies when he does his work without whining… don’t judge me!

I definitely think my kids learn best through educational games and activities. Honestly though, I feel overwhelmed trying to come up with creative ideas for each day and gathering all the necessary supplies. Yes, there is Pinterest, but for me it is the black hole of mom guilt.  It feels like no matter what we do, it’s never enough compared to all the glowing possibilities on Pinterest.

In real time, I have realized that Jeremy naturally asks the right questions at the right time. Instead of worrying about all the details, I can let him lead a little bit. When we were learning letters, he would get so excited about figuring out the sounds they made. It became a game in the car, “What letter does the word stop sign start with… Ssss… S!” He started developing spacial awareness on his own too, “Look Mom, Iris is sitting across from me, Daddy is sitting next to me, and the dog is under the table.” Knowing this ought to take some of the pressure off of me but the truth is I still worry.

Right now my focus for Jeremy is on nature study (outdoor play), identifying number characters, tracing letters, sounding out short words, reading together, music/dance, and Bible time. For Iris we are working on colors, shapes, counting, and of course she does reading, nature, music, and Bible study with Jeremy. There is no way we can do all of this every day; so, I stick to the basics: reading, nature, music, and Bible, and sprinkle in the others throughout the week.

Bible has become my favorite. We read our Bible story, or watch a Bible cartoon on YouTube, then act out the story. It’s so much fun to see how creative my kids can be with costumes, props, and ad-lib. Today was Joshua fighting the battle of Jericho. We marched quietly around the table (Jericho) six times and then the seventh time we got all our instruments and shouted as loudly as we could. Daniel in the lion’s den was a fun one too. Jeremy wanted to be King Darius, Iris was a lion, and Phillip was Daniel. I had to leave the room at one point and I overheard Jeremy talking to Phillip, “Daniel! I told you not to pray to your God! Only to me! I’m going to throw you in the lion’s den!” I ran in the room just in time to see Jeremy lifting up my four month old, ready to toss him!

If you are teaching your little ones at home, what works for you? How do you stay organized? What activities have become your favorites?

At The End Of My Mommy Rope

rope-1468951_1920My wheels are spinning, kids screaming, eyes just won’t stay open, and it’s only 2 PM. I always want to try and be encouraging in my posts but, I’ve got to be real with you, this has been a tough week. Phillip has been teething and that means a late bed time and nursing a baby through the night. Iris has been waking up several times a night screaming but usually by the time I get to her she is asleep again. I don’t know if she is just having nightmares or what causes her to cry out like that. Phillip has started a new routine where he wants to have deep conversations at 5AM. My husband has to get up at 6 for work; so, I take the baby into the living room and let him get all his conversation and wiggles out before we both crash again at 5:30.

Jeremy, oh boy, I love him but the kid can be so demanding. Give him an inch and he takes a mile. I ask him if he wants cereal in the morning and he needs cheerios in a blue bowl with the yellow spoon and make sure I put milk in it (because, you know, I’ve never made a bowl of cereal before and I might forget). Oh, and get him a glass of milk in the blue cup with the bears on it. Iris is starting to catch on and chants “Need spoon! Need spoon! Need spoon!”

It’s already time to nurse Phillip again and in the meantime Iris has taken off her diaper and is running around the house with poop on her butt and Jeremy accidentally knocks over a cup and there is glass on the floor… So Phillip screams because I set him in the cradle while I go put out fires. Jeremy, in bossy older sibling fashion, yells at Iris for taking off her diaper. Iris’ feelings get hurt so she is crying. Lord help me!

Josiah had drill this weekend and thankfully we had a lot of plans that got us out of the house or else I might really have gone mad. The fridge was nearly empty, but I was waiting for Josiah to come home from drill so we could go grocery shopping together. Grocery shopping alone with three kids three and under is no bueno. Creative cooking ensued but this was not to the taste of my toddlers. There were tears because how could they eat macaroni with green things in it?

Then bedtime teeth brushing with an infant in my lap and a toddler who refuses to brush teeth because the toothpaste he loved this morning is now spicy torture paste. Books and prayers and off to bed where it is “too hot” and then “too cold.” Then we have to change pajamas because they don’t suit the bedroom climate and where did the underwear go? Kids get out of bed, kids bump heads, kids play in the closet and break the dresser and clothes are all over the floor. Ahhh! Just go to bed so I can watch Netflix in peace!

Whew! All that off my chest, God has sprinkled my days with blessings. Coffee dates with my mother in law on the deck. Building a fence around the pond and watching the kids splash in the stream. Dancing in the living room and tickle fights. Jeremy made up a song about how much he loves God and Iris had us laughing at her slapstick. Phillip learned how to roll over and has been so thrilled with himself.

I’m sure if you have kids you can relate. You love your little family, but there are just times when it feels you can’t take another day. Keep running the good race and look for God’s blessings. By the way, forgive me if this post doesn’t sound very cohesive or if my tenses are all mixed up. Yeah, it’s all muddled in my head too. Can’t keep eyes open…

Mid-Week Review: Classical Conversations (A Homeschooler’s Guide) Guest Post by:Angela Bassett

country-2595903_1920(This is the first of a series of reviews on local homeschool groups)

I didn’t grow up dreaming to one day homeschool my children.  In fact, quite the opposite, my mom was an amazing elementary school principal who eventually had a school named in her honor.  I wanted to be just like her, so I attended Texas A&M and pursued a degree in elementary education.  However, after a year and a half of marriage and one year of teaching first grade, our first baby girl was born.  We sacrificed in every way we could, so I was able to stay home with my sweet girl.

As Lizzie approached kindergarten age, she had taught herself to read and was blazing through Charlotte’s Web and the like, so it was very clear that public school would not serve her well.  We began researching our options, and while homeschooling seemed to be a good fit for our girl, I knew that I desperately needed support in this endeavor.  After hearing about Classical Conversations from a friend in College Station, I discovered a local community where we scheduled a visit.  While I didn’t understand most of what was occurring that day, Lizzie and I were both still drawn to this model and we signed up to join a new community forming in our area.  I cannot believe that was six years ago, and I now have a sixth grader, a fourth grader and a kindergartener in the CC program!  While all of my girls have various strengths and weaknesses, this one day a week program has proven to be an excellent fit for our family.

Classical Conversations is first of all a Christian based curriculum.  The mission of CC is to know God and to make Him known, so we have this mutual foundation with all of the other families to see our children be those who bring the Kingdom of God with them wherever they go.  The model of CC is to combine a Christ-centered worldview with classical tools.  CC presents information in such a way that it meets children right where they are developmentally and sets them up to be lifelong learners who know how to tackle any subject matter wielding the tools they have been provided.  Also, Classical Conversations is set up in such a way that the method is to equip parents while encouraging students on their educational journey, which means  at least one parent accompanies his or her children in class weekly.  Participating in the activities of the classroom, the parents are growing themselves in the content and better able to lead their children at home throughout the week.  Because Jesus is at the center of Classical Conversations, communities operate a lot like family, caring deeply for one another and serving one another in love.

Within CC, there are three specific programs based upon the three stages of learning.  Initially, you begin with the Grammar stage where kids tend to be sponges and are found to soak up everything you can serve them.  The CC Foundations program plays to this strength and fills up children ages 4-12 with knowledge in the seven subjects of Timeline, History, Math, Science, Latin, English Grammar, and Geography.  Weekly presentations for their peers, science projects, art projects, and review also make up the Foundations morning at CC.  Following the Grammar stage, the Dialectic stage begins where students tend to not just accept facts but often have numerous questions and are seeking to make sense of the world around them.  CC provides an excellent English Grammar and Writing program to coincide with this stage of learning called Essentials.  This program is held after lunch on the community day for ages 9-12.  Finally, Classical Conversations does have a program for middle school and high school entitled Challenge.  It is here that students continue to be dialectic with their classmates and eventually reach the final stage of classical learning, Rhetoric.  Students come to know their information so well they become the experts and are able to pull their thoughts together to teach and debate with confidence.  These three programs practically equip both parents and students to be successful along their education journey.

I have overwhelmingly loved our Classical Conversations experience.  It provides me with a framework of learning for my girls, and then I am free, as the teacher, to dig deeply in areas as we are ready.  One of my favorite aspects of CC is that all foundations students are learning the same basic information.  My kindergartener beams with pride when she is able to participate in family conversations with her bits of relevant knowledge!  As the primary teacher of my girls, I have been privileged to redeem my own education in many ways along this journey!  I also adore the strong sense of community that our family has experienced with CC.  Through great loss and heartache, these families have rallied around one another and held each other up.  Through great joy and harvest, our community has celebrated together!  Through learning highs and lows, these fellow moms have been cheerleaders for one another.   CC continues to be a gift to me and to our whole family!  I’m thankful that God’s plans are so much better than anything I could ever dream for my family!

If you are interested in visiting a community, follow this link to find one in your area!  https://www.classicalconversations.com/find-community?state=VA&country=US

To read more from Angela Bassett, visit her blog at: http://www.justanela.blogspot.com

Save

Overcoming Depression Part IV: Practical Tips For Healing

sunflower-1127174_1920

If you or a loved one is struggling with depression, the road ahead may be tough, but it is never hopeless. I would be amiss if I did not share with you some practical tips for overcoming depression. These are some things that I learned on my own journey:

Faith in God – I give all credit and glory for my recovery to the Lord, Jesus Christ. He walked me through every moment, even when I felt like my faith was hanging on by just a thread. But let me tell you, I did not feel close to God at all in the beginning of my struggle. I agonized over the belief that I was losing faith in God. I did not sense Him in my prayer time and I often felt abandoned. This seems to be a common experience amongst believers with depression and it is a normal consequence to chemical imbalance. When a person is depressed, their oxytocin and serotonin levels are usually low, these are the bonding, happy, love hormones that your body produces. This will likely affect all of your relationships including your relationship with God. He is always present with you, He never will abandon you, but sometimes your body’s dip in hormones will make it difficult for you to feel Him there. I believe God gives us earthly relationships to help us understand our relationship with Him better. I find a lot of parallels between our relationship with God and our relationship with our spouses. Most married couples will agree that there are periods of time when you are not full of love-feelings for your spouse, but this by no means indicates that you are not committed to love them. The same is so with God, you may not be feeling all the fuzzy feelings you experienced when you first became a believer, but you must commit to honoring and choosing to love Him in spite of your feelings.

Community – I cannot emphasize the importance of community enough! I am talking about the kind of community that knows your dirt and will be there for the long haul. Unfortunately, it seems community groups have been waning over the last few decades. People are more spread out and less likely to live near family, mega-churches are making a debut and intimate fellowship is suffering, more women are working these days leaving little time after work for relationships outside of immediate family, and the women who stay at home are often isolated in their neighborhoods because many of the other moms are working. This paints a pretty bleak picture, but this doesn’t mean you can’t have meaningful community; it just means you might have to work harder at it. In spite of how you may be feeling, you need to join small groups at church, meet up for coffee with your girlfriends, or befriend the other women in your neighborhood. I baked cookies and took them door to door to meet other women in my neighborhood. Some people shut the door in my face, but for the most part my neighbors were just as desperate for friendship as I was. If you are caring for somebody who is depressed, they may need a little bit of a push to be social. If large groups cause anxiety, then one-on-one is the way to go, however I recommend having a minimum of two close friends to share with. Carrying a person through depression can be emotionally draining, if the sick person has more than one confidante this alleviates some of the pressure and it is more likely that your friendship will have healthy boundaries and thrive. So maybe you have a lot of friends, but there is not much depth to your relationships. Nobody wants to be the first one to confess their problems to their friends, but I have an inkling most people are longing for honest relationships just as much as you are. Deep down pride is keeping you at an impasse. Somebody is going to have to break down the walls of superficiality and that person is you. It’s a lot to ask of somebody who is depressed to make the first move, but there is no time to lose; your emotional health depends on it. Be wise in choosing your close friends of course, but don’t let fear stop you from meaningful friendships.

Get Help From a Professional – Depression or no depression, I think periodic counseling would be beneficial for everybody. Yes, therapy is expensive, but so is a psych ward. Many churches offer free counseling and Army bases offer free counseling for soldiers and their families through their chaplaincy programs. Do your research and look around. You probably have more options than you think. There is such a stigma associated with going to a shrink, gosh I hate that term. It’s a lie, friends. A lie of the Enemy meant to keep people from getting help and being functional members of the Body of Christ.  As a Christian, I recommend only going to faith-based counselors. A secular counselor can do a lot of damage by offering only world-based wisdom.

Medication – I think the decision about whether or not to take antidepressants should be approached very very carefully. Medication can make a huge difference in your recovery from mental illness; however, every antidepressant can react differently for different people. I tried five different pills before I found one that helped me. One pill made me so lethargic I slept through two days, another felt like ice rushing through my veins, another made me pass out twice. These aren’t minor side effects! Some of my friends have reported that medication made them feel drastically worse and suicidal. If you do decide to take antidepressants, make sure that you are properly monitored. It really does take someone on the outside to see whether you are functioning well on your medication. Whether you decide to take antidepressants or not, taking B-complex daily will help improve your mood. You can also use essential oils to overcome depression. My favorites were the Young Living blends, Valor and Peace and Calming, along with Frankincense. I would rub the oils between my hands and cup them over my nose and mouth breathing deeply. I could feel the tension in my shoulders relax right away. If I was having a hard time bringing my thoughts under control, essential oils helped me focus.

Caffeine – This is a tough one because I love my cup of coffee in the morning, but cutting out caffeine practically stopped my anxiety in its tracks. Be warned, decaf still has some caffeine; so, trying to cheat may not be helpful in this case. However, I did find a caffeine free tea called Teeccino that has a coffee-ish taste. Not as good as the real thing, but it did curb my cravings for a hot drink in the morning.

Exercise – Walk, dance, bike, swim… anything that gets your body moving. Excercise helps your body produce endorphins which are natural mood enhancers. Getting physically fit can improve your body’s chemistry, build up your self esteem, jumpstart your energy, and help you stay engaged throughout the day.

Natural Light – While I was depressed, dim lighting kept me down and influenced my thought life. Florescent lights were the worst! I don’t know the science behind it, but as long as I had natural light I felt better. When my depression first started we lived in a 1950’s ranch style house with small windows and low ceilings. It was terrible for my mood. They sell natural-light light bulbs so we replaced all the lights in the house with them and that helped some. Going outside and just soaking up the sun made the biggest difference. When we moved into our 1930’s house with big windows everywhere I really began to feel myself heal. If you are feeling down, open up your windows as much as possible. Try to let in as much natural light as you can.

Cut Down on Media – I cut out news completely while I was depressed. It exacerbated my irrational fears. Instead, I had my husband tell me the highlights. Some news is of international and local importance, but a large chunk of it serves no other purpose than to produce anxiety. The same went for movies. A lot of my flashbacks were from scary or suspenseful movies and I didn’t need to add to the Enemy’s arsenal. Be mindful of what you are putting in your mind, especially when you are so vulnerable.

Adjust Your Schedule – There are two extremes on the schedule scale. Some people keep their schedule so chock full, they don’t give themselves enough time to process life challenges in a healthy way. When I was in the psych ward, I met a young student who had been so overworked in school it pushed her over the edge of mental stability. Fortunately, after adjusting her schedule and getting some counseling, she was able to face some of her feelings and return to the world healthy and whole. I was on the opposite end of the scale, I was isolated in a new place and didn’t work; so, I had a lot of time to ruminate on my problems. All of my thoughts turned inward and I wasn’t able to focus on anything else. Where are you on the scale? You might need to make some adjustments before you can get completely well.

Deep Breathing – When trying to overcome a panic attack or manage irrational thought processes, deep breathing can help slow down your heart rate and force oxygen to your brain. Take a deep breath through your nose; make sure your breath inflates your stomach and not your chest. Count to three and then exhale through your mouth for three. Repeat this process for however long it takes to feel calm.

Volunteer – This is a tough step for somebody who is struggling with depression. Usually the last thing a depressed person wants to do is go out and be social. Participating in a good cause will benefit you on so many levels: focusing on someone else takes your mind off of your own problems and sadness, it increases feelings of love and empathy, and helps you realize that other people struggle just like you do. Volunteering boosts your self esteem and gives you a sense of purpose.

Bible Verses – The Word of God is our offensive weapon against depression. Ephesians 6:10-18 “ Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

These are the verses that helped me:

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

Psalm 139:14 “I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works and that my soul knows very well.”

Psalm 17:8  “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me under the shadow of your wing.”

Psalm 36:7 “How precious is your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.”

Romans 8:37-39 “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

Overcoming Depression Part III: The Battle and the Blessing

trees-2562083_1920

It felt strange leaving the psych ward behind me. As my mom and I drove away, I watched all the people on the streets going about their business. I had been one of those people once, oblivious to suffering, happily unaware that all over the world, mentally ill people were struggling to hang on. Now that I was on the other side, I felt separated from the rest of the world by a great gulf. I felt this need to tell the world about this crazy thing I had just experienced and keeping it inside felt like such a lie. I soon learned over the next couple of weeks how uncomfortable it made people feel to talk about it. In this world where nothing is off limits, sin is glorified and paraded, sex is sold unabashedly in movies and books, how is it that talking about a real struggle like depression is taboo? There was a long battle ahead of me and I knew I couldn’t do it alone. I couldn’t have fluffy, surface relationships with people anymore. I had to plunge in and get to the dirt of things if I was going to get better. If it made people uncomfortable, then so be it.

A week after leaving the hospital I flew back home to North Carolina. I was going to see my husband for the first time since all this had happened. The last two weeks had been tough on him too, as a soldier he couldn’t just up and leave whenever he wanted to. He had to be away from his bride when she needed him most. Honestly, I think he was blindsided by the severity of my depression. He had been travelling so much with work, he hadn’t seen the progress of my mental deterioration. Besides that, I was very good at hiding the worst. A lie in my heart said, “Other people suffer so much more than you do, Kessy, don’t make a big deal out of your own suffering. Isn’t that what Christians are supposed to do, die to themselves?” Little did I know that I had been dying to the wrong things. We are to die to our sins, not to the fact that we are human and hurt just like everyone else. I had been a fake.

My husband held me for a long time at the airport as if afraid I might just disappear into thin air if he let go. I loved him so, but I felt like a stranger. How could I explain to him everything I had seen? How could I confess all the crazy thoughts I had been experiencing over the last two months? Would he still love me? We took a walk that evening and as we did so we began a journey of openness as we had never experienced before. Not only did I tell him how I had been feeling, I finally began to communicate what I needed from him too. As a young bride, I had been so afraid of conflict that I rarely communicated my needs when they diverged from his. I made the mistake so many new wives do; I expected him to anticipate my needs by osmosis. Now I had no time for those games, I needed him to know me now! I needed his help now! And to my great surprise he stepped up to the challenge. He wasn’t afraid of my honesty. In fact, it probably made him love me more.

It was a terrible time to begin recovering from depression. Halloween was just around the corner and I couldn’t handle the scary decorations and costumes. Every ten minutes or so I would get a flashback from a scary movie or frightening news article I had seen. Every ten minutes or so I saw a dead body, or heard sinister music, or I saw someone trapped and suffering. With every fiber of my being I had to force my mind to drive the images away. I would sing praise songs over and over and over. At first I would tell Satan in the name of Jesus to leave me alone, but this often didn’t help or made it worse. Then one morning while in prayer, God gave me a little nugget of wisdom. “Kessy, when you are in warfare you are focusing too much on the demon that is oppressing you. You are not strong enough to overcome him by yourself. Yes, you are using my name, but your focus is on the demon. Next time it happens, look up and call my name. Let my presence fill your heart and mind. Focus on me as I do battle for you.” Over time the attacks began to spread out, but let me tell you, it was intense at first! Every time I prayed, God gave me a new thought and a new verse to fight my battles with. 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but power and of love and of a sound mind”

The next month we discovered a wonderful ministry for servicemen and their families called Hospitality House. It is a house lived in and run by missionaries, where soldiers and airmen gather to eat together, worship together, learn together, and play together. Finally I had found a place that felt like family, a place where we could be real with people. For me it was an embodiment of the early church where believers broke bread together daily, carried each other’s burdens, and confessed their sins and struggles. Our Hospitality House family had a huge hand in my healing over the next few months. God had handed us a blessing of true fellowship. It was the mark of the end of my Job Year and the beginning of the Year of Blessings.

It was our Hospitality House family who encouraged us to move out of our house of sorrows and get a fresh start on Post. The housing at Ft. Bragg is a mixed bag; really cute houses and really horrible houses. One neighborhood in particular caught our eye. It was quiet and secluded with cute stucco cottages that had been built in the 1930’s. We decided to apply only for the house we really wanted and leave it up to God. There were only 12 houses like it on post and the waiting list had 15 people ahead of us. It wasn’t looking very promising, but a month later we got a phone call asking if we could move in within two weeks! There had been this dark oppressive cloud that had hovered over the town of Spring Lake, but as soon as we passed through the gate onto Post, the cloud lifted and the colors were vivid and bright again. Our new house was full of tall windows and the natural light was so healing. I could get better in a place like this. Our neighborhood backed up to an abandoned golf-course with trails all through it. Every day I would walk those trails and the exercise, fresh air, and sunshine was helping me flourish. I was still struggling something fierce, but a change was happening and I could feel life returning to my bones.

I started seeing a psychiatrist and he was a kind and observant listener. He confirmed that I was not bi-polar and as a result, he adjusted my medication a little bit and my recovery began to speed up. This led me to take a good look at all of my medications and with research I began to see a correlation between Metformin (the medicine I had been taking for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and depression. It turns out Metformin is a known B vitamin inhibitor. This left me in a tough place because my PCOS symptoms were pretty nasty: exhaustion, back and abdominal pain, and nausea to name a few. Nothing could be worse than depression though, so I called a midwife friend for advice on how to manage PCOS without Metformin. She had me go on a Paleo diet and take four supplements: B-Complex, Chaste Tree, FemCo, and AdrenalComplex. These eased my symptoms immensely!

By March I was feeling in an emotionally stable place again. I was still licking my wounds but feeling so much better than I had been before. Babies began to resurface to the forefront of my mind. We had officially been trying for two years at this point, so I decided to see a doctor about fertility treatment. We had a chat and laid out a plan of action. I was feeling a bit discouraged by what looked like a long road ahead of us. As I was about to leave, the nurse pulled me aside and said she thought I should take a pregnancy test. I knew what it was going to say. After all, how many solo lines had I seen on the dozens of tests I had taken over the past two years? When the nurse came back, she was trembling with excitement. “You’re pregnant!” She shouted. I had to sit down!

Nine months later we had a beautiful baby boy! We were in our cozy new house, receiving meals from our Hospitality House friends. Our Year of Blessings could not have been more complete. The Job Year had started in November, the Year of Blessings began in November, and here we were at the end of November with our sweet baby! It felt as though it had been planned out like clockwork, and indeed I believe it was. My Loving Father hated my pain, but it was so necessary for me to grow and trust Him. I have never doubted His faithfulness since then. Now, when I am facing uncertain paths, all I have to do is look to the One who brought me through so much.

Mid-Week Review: Visit Log Cabin Village! (A guest post by Syd George)

Shaw mill 3

Shaw Grist Mill

(I want to introduce you to my dear friend, Syd. She has been working as an historical interpreter at the Log Cabin Village for almost three years now. If you get a chance to check it out, you might just see her blacksmithing or showing off one of the cabins. The Log Cabin Village has a very special place in my heart as I volunteered and worked there for seven years from the time I turned 13. Syd’s experience is fresher than mine; so, I thought she might do more justice to my beloved Village.)

seela cabin

Sometimes you can do candle making at the Tompkin’s Cabin

If you’re ever close to downtown Fort Worth you must visit Log Cabin Village Living History Museum. Located across University Drive from the zoo, it is a collection of seven restored log cabins and a schoolhouse that have been relocated there over the past fifty years.

schoolhouse 2

The Schoolhouse – Classrooms at this time held all grade levels; so, it was common for several blackboards to be painted on the walls

Historical interpreters in nineteenth century costume are available to show off the cabins and period artifacts, and often they will demonstrate some craft from pioneer times. You might see a blacksmith forge iron with equipment used by the Ft. Worth railroad in the 1870’s or dip a candle like our ancestors did before electricity came to the area. A popular log house for children and adults alike is the Seela hands-on cabin. Here you can pump water, dress up in pioneer clothes, and even try out a rope spring bed. My personal favorite feature of the Log Cabin Village is the water powered gristmill that once ground grains in Moline, Texas back in 1860. The Fort Worth Herb Society maintains the beautiful herb garden that blooms year round, which also attracts all sorts of butterflies.

pickard cabin 2

The Pickard Cabin – You can watch spinning and weaving at this house

Even if you are not a history buff, the peaceful atmosphere of “The Village,” will make you feel as though you stepped back in time.

For more information visit: http://www.logcabinvillage.org