Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Spring!

Today is Earth Day, and I've gotta tell ya... It's a beautiful Earth Day here in Indiana! Spirits are high, the sun is shining, the birds are singing and the grass couldn't be greener.

Spring is a wonderful time of year. It has lifted my heart to a place of hope, and for this I couldn't be more grateful.

I had to get out and take a few pics this afternoon... because I just can't forget how sweet Spring is... the dainty flowers, the fresh dirt, the blue skies, the white toes and the dandelions! Oh the dandelions. They're everywhere.... and they're darling! Even if some people consider them a nuisance...

Thank God for Spring!



I just LOVE taking pictures of the kiddo's toes. Aren't they adorable!?


Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Aggression, Messes and Yelling!

I gotta tell you guys... raising this boy of ours is a challenge! Every day feels like a fight to teach gentleness, manners, kindness, empathy, cleanliness, tidiness, respect, obedience and general social skills. On some level, I've always thought children inherited most of these life-lessons from their parents... gleaning attributes into their own lives as they live among their elders.

I cannot say this is true at this time in our lives.

Every day feels like dirt, loudness, defiance, rough housing, running, stomping, sassy talk, disrespect, disobedience, undoing everything, making messes, eating a lot, eating loudly, refusing food, demanding food, whining, chasing the cat, getting muddy, changing clothes, getting muddy again...

This boy will find a stick anywhere... it could be a parking lot, and he'll find it. Any object can be a sword and will be used as a weapon while running and jumping, nearly impaling himself, or another. I've found my child lodged underneath, beside and between things. He has hit his head on nearly everything. Smashed fingers, stubbed toes and slammed all appendages on all things.

There are many plans made. Plans for rockets ships, tree houses, forts, underground tunnels, digging lakes, adopting puppies, adopting kittens, collecting worms, feeding the birds, collecting the "worlds largest rock collection", finding dinosaurs, staying up all night, eating all the pizza, jumping the highest, running the fastest, being the sneakiest, and riding "all the animals!"

*Deep breath*

I end my days often sitting on the couch... with a cup of tea and blissful silence. After a day full of conversation, conflict, and compromise... I find myself empty. Hoping to fill my emotional tank just enough to start all over again the next day, I sit and mentally review the events... remembering the tough moments... but also remembering the sweetness.

Our boy is full of sweet. His morning greeting when he says: "Good morning mom. I love you and it's time to get up." The joy on his face when I place peanut butter and apples in front of him at the table. His giggles when we play hide and seek. The deep desire he has to be just like his Dad! I see sweetness between the hard moments... and though I often feel like our boy is too much "all aggression and messes and yelling!" I have glimpses of what his heart will always be like.

It will always be loving. Lucas will always have a heart that wants to serve others. He will always want to impress his father. Our boy's heart will always love his mother and always want to see her happy. That heart of his will always want to be adventurous and a physical challenge to make him feel like the brave soul he is!

This is the greatest challenge I've yet to come up against... this child of ours. He is opinions, and defiance and hard-headed... but the sweet, loving heart pulls me back in every time. Some days I wonder "what am I doing!?" because I am not equipped to raise this boy! But that heart... it slays me, and makes me want to try harder each day following.

Maybe, just maybe... this boy will be okay. As far as his mother goes... all bets are still out.


Monday, April 07, 2014

Blessing With A Big Heart

Every day I count my blessings. Well... maybe not count them, per say... but I'm aware of them and every day I notice new blessings I failed to recognize the day before.

Early Winter, I was given a gift in the form of a friend who happened to live next door! Sharon is a strong, independent, seventy year old woman and we first met while shoveling snow. About two feet of snow, to be exact. She genuinely came to my driveway, took off her glove (because she's a lady with manners!) and shook my hand while introducing herself. We exchanged pleasantries and after she walked away, I felt a pull or a tug, or a nudge, or something in my heart saying: "Invite her over!"

I did. I spoke up, saying: "Sharon!" As she turned around... I said, "Would you like to come over for coffee one day next week? I have very few friends here in Muncie, and you're very kind, and you live next door!"

She chuckled and agreed. I was excited.

Her first visit felt natural... like we'd known each other for years. She brought me a "housewarming" gift, and I made scones. We talked for hours and as she readied herself to leave, we hugged... both thankful to have a friend in such close proximity with so many kindred qualities. How is it possible a woman of immense grace, wisdom and kindness could have such a spark with me!?

 Sharon's visits have been a weekly occurrence since January, and I have to say, it's been an immense blessing. Sharon has listened to my heart, offered advice, loved on my kiddo, brought food over, helped me paint my house, met both my mother and mother-in-law, shared her story with me (my favorite!) and made me feel valued in her own life. It's amazing how much of a difference one person can make in the life of another, and Sharon has done exactly that for me.

Sharon is a blessing with a big heart.

This past week, Sharon suffered from a stroke and though she is at home now, the injury has taken parts of herself that allow her to love others in her special way... like her speech. My heart felt the blow and my breath caught in my throat as her kind husband told me what happened over the phone, because... well... it just sucks. I felt shocked and painfully aware of how much I care for my friend.

 Sharon is a woman of great strength and dignity... sharing her gifts and talents in this community. She has served those who are unwell and loved on those who need love. She is an immense gift to all of us, and when we grow to love a person like Sharon, we too feel her pain in our own hearts. I feel her loss. I also feel the hope of recovery, but right now... I feel the loss.

As we learn more about what has happened to Sharon's body and mind, I can only hope we can serve her just as well as she has served us. To give her the feeling of being loved and valued... treasured. To remind her that she is special, not for all the things she has done for us... but because her spirit is unique, loving and tender. As Sharon copes with and learns to recover from her injury, I hope to remind her that she has been one of my biggest blessings in my own life and will continue to be so. She is my blessing with a big heart.






Thursday, March 27, 2014

Difference In A Day: What I Do When I Start To Feel Low

Today is grey and cold. I feel that way a little bit inside too... like, inside my heart or my spirit... or wherever we feel our feelings. I feel kind of blah today.

This week has been a little low for me, to be honest... and when I feel low, I just want to sit around and do nothing. So instead of doing nothing, I've tried to stay busy with this and that. Here are a few ways I keep myself from diving deeper down:

  • Craft time. Pull out paper, glue, scissors, doo-dads (I had buttons), sparkles and go for it! Be creative, have very few boundaries and see what happens. I made a few cards and Lucas created the cutest little crocodile I've ever seen!
  • Cooking. I've severely cut our grocery budget this past month (because yikes!), which has resulted in creatively making meals and snacks with pantry items I already have. My favorite is to make baked goods using substitutions like peanut butter, bananas and non-dairy nut beverages. It's fun, and there are always delicious treats as a result!
  • Writing. I've written a blog post on disappointment, but have yet to post it online. Still in the works.... Writing is a great way to clear my heart and head. Often I keep the writing private, because if we can't be fully honest in our thoughts, then it's not helpful to our hearts. 
  • Nutrition. When I'm feeling low I can often see patterns that have led up to a bad day. Too much sugar, inconsistent meals, lots of caffeine, and not enough wholesome foods. In addition to cleaning up my food habits, I tend to add things like lemon water, turmeric tea and smoothies to my diet. Usually within a couple days, I feel better... mostly.
  • Naps. For some... naps are not a good pattern to get into when suffering from depression. This can lead to avoidance, withdrawn behavior patterns and apathy... resulting in more depression. For me... a nap can help jump-start my late afternoon and evenings. As a mother and wife, I often feel weary and worn down. The day in and day out of constantly serving can lead to emotional and mental weariness. A nap can feel like a break for my brain and body in what often feels like a long day.
  • Movies or series. I'm not gonna lie... on days when Lucas lays down for his own nap, I get excited to turn on the tv and watch whatever interests me that day. Sometimes it's a documentary, and other times it's something frivolous and silly. Whether it's a good laugh or a good cry, it's a distraction from my internal dialogue, responsibilities and again, what feels like a day of serving others non-stop.
  • Something physical I can do indoors. I typically choose yoga, but sometimes prefer pilates, a game of hide and seek with the kiddo or just a tickle fight. Whatever gets the blood moving, always helps.
  • Reading. Lately, reading has been a little bit more challenging. Not sure why... but my focus hasn't been what it usually is. That being said, reading can be a great little escape when you have a few minutes here and there.
  • Reading something inspirational. For me, it's usually something spiritual, but we all find inspiration in different ways and whatever makes us feel like we've got the umph! to put another foot in front of ourselves, do it.
  • Looking at funny things on the internet. I'm not gonna lie, you guys... sometimes I go on Pinterest and look only at the "humor" section. Because some days... that's what it takes. Plus... you can always send the pins to your friends and then you have someone to laugh with! Laughter increases special hormones in your brain, and then... you feel just a little bit better.
  • Talking to friends. When I feel crappy, I email my bestie and text my sis. Always cheers me up. In addition, I try and FaceTime, Gmail Chat and be in touch with people who are both encouraging and honest. The temptation to withdraw and stay private has to be resisted, especially when a good chuckle or a sweet story from a trusted friend can make all the difference in a day.
Everyone has things they like to do, but depression can distract us from holding on to our "hobbies." Often, I just sit and dwell in my thoughts, which is super unhealthy for me. My internal dialogue isn't always in a good place and I find myself feeling convinced of things that are severely untrue (feelings of worthlessness...etc.). Staying busy can really help get us through the "dark times" and though we should remain self-aware, making efforts to do the things we enjoy can make a huge difference in a day.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Blessing In Spring



It's Sunday afternoon and as big chunky snowflakes fall I find myself internally rolling my eyes and thinking: "Not again... when is it ever going to end!?" Winter... it's lasting forever this year. This Winter, or so I've been told, has been unusually frigid, dark, snow-packed and long. It's been one helluva Winter!

As I sit huddled in front of this space heater, in an effort to warm my toes, I can't help but compare this winter to my heart after our last move to Muncie. Moving is so hard, you guys. And this... from a gal who has moved... let's see... um, eight times since I was young (moving when you're young counts, because it changes you). That's a few times and at this point you'd think I'd be good at this relocation business. Well, lemme tell you... I'm not. In fact, I think it's harder every time!

Moving can leave a person feeling depressed. In fact, if someone tells me they have moved (to a new state/country) and they don't feel sad, lonely or low... I figure they're either incredibly unselfaware (this is not a word, I know), or lying. There is no way the human heart can go from a place of attachment and familiarity to aloneness and not feel something in their heart. No way!

Depression can feel like Winter... cold, isolating, lacking in color, lonely and trapped. It can leave you feeling like: "What's the point? Why do I even keep at it? Will Spring EVER show?"

Indeed. Spring is always around the corner. And without Winter... there is never a Spring. Truth.

See, there is always hope in the relief and warmth of fresh days, and it is just beyond the horizon. This HAS to end at some point. It can't last forever. It just can't....

As I hold on to the hope of Spring, I can now pull the shades and see the meaning of Winter/Depression. It is not just a cold, bleak time... but a time to hunker down and observe what has importance in life; real importance. When we are in a season of darkness, it is an opportunity to look toward our Creator and the promise to us of better times. We look to the Creator when we are unsure where we fit, or what purpose we serve. The Creator offers us meaning, love, and identity at the core.

Only the Creator can offer this identity. Not our friends, our families, our church, our jobs, our hobbies, our sports, our gardens, our children, our pets... nothing, but God. Sure, these things can add to our identities, but they do not define it. They do not create our core. God created our core from the moment we were birthed... our core was filled with meaning, love and identity... and that is something that is often lost when we are filled with attachment and familiarity to the World. We allow ourselves to be distracted by things that hold little importance compared to the love of our Creator. Taking these things away though relocation is an opportunity to find our core again. To find the love again.

Now, don't get me wrong. If you are in a time of attachment and familiarity, and this is where God has placed you... live it up! Those of us weathering a Winter are envious of the warmth, encouragement and fullness you experience during this time of your life, because it's great! The Lord bless you in this time!

For those of us barely making it through the rough patch, Spring can only come when we've weathered a Winter. Some of us have harder Winters than others, but find blessing in that too. We must have hope that our God is great and he will see us through with his love. This is a time in which I find my core and let it bathe in the warmth of Spring. A time of blossom and enrichment. It's going to be a beautiful and loving Spring!

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven; Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted; Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the Earth; Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled; Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy; Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God; Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God; Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you, for great is your reward in Heaven for in the same way they persecuted the prophets before you. - Matthew 5:3

Friday, March 21, 2014

Life Within

As all family situations would be, when one person is struggling... everyone struggles. Especially the kiddos. Children are flawless examples of the ripple effect. Their seemingly "normal" behaviors can be examples of hurt, loneliness, misunderstanding, and basic internalization of emotion. Children have a narcissistic view of the world, therefore believing everything is about them... including their parent's feelings.

As I have been navigating all my feelings and emotions this Winter, I can't help but be sensitive and aware of Lucas' heart. This boy feels hard and deep! I love him for it... but also find myself nervous that somewhere I'm failing. Don't we all feel this way!? Help! Someone tell me how to raise this child... someone!

Sigh....

On the flip side, there is SO MUCH to be thankful for in this child of ours. He is beautiful. Seriously you guys... we have a beautiful child, inside and out! He's handsome with his big brown eyes, smooth skin and thick dishwater-colored hair. So handsome, that one.
His heart... where do I start?!... it's big, open, sensitive and intuitive. Lucas' heart is full of wild wonder; constantly seeking answers and approval. This child... he wants to be a part of all things big and wonderful. He wants to be seen and understood. I don't think this desire will change within him. He will always fight to be understood.

Lucas is full of life! He runs and jumps and hurdles and rolls with all his might. He finds sticks, rocks, bugs, dirt, mud and water... and will be fully engrossed for all of time, if allowed. He loves critters and just wants to play! Lucas has a light behind those big brown eyes... it's full of smiles, laughter, loud talking, belching... that light is life!

I love these things and more in our son. He is truly special to us... like no other boy I've known. He's uniquely made.

So often we don't talk about parenting while in the midst of depression or emotional lows. How does a parent care for a beautifully full child, when they themselves feel as if their tank is empty? Often I feel this way... and I have no advice. These are moments when I turn to prayer, devotion toward something that fills me (poetry or scripture), and a form of physical activity that leaves me feeling rejuvenated. Also, counseling. Parenting without solid, safe advice seems impossible. I couldn't do it.

Being aware of our own feelings allows us to be intuitive to our children's feelings. When we see our kids' hearts, we see them for what they need and who they are... at the core. I see my child's beauty, light, and life within!



I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. - Psalm 139:14






Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Vulnerability

There really isn't anything quite like confessing your heart and in return being encouraged by SO MANY people... it's humbling, really. There has been both and prideful and insecure part of myself that knew all along... all I had to do was ask for support, prayer, a phone call, a care package... and it would be there. But, we live in this world where we're afraid to be vulnerable.

Definition of Vulnerability: Easily hurt or harmed physically, mentally, or emotionally.

No one really wants to put their feelings out there, if they fear a negative reaction to their vulnerability. Often, people see confession or honesty as a moment of weakness, but right now... it's the strongest I've felt in months. I feel the strength to overcome insecurity and preconceived notions about "feeling low" or "low grade depression." I am strong enough to not care whether or not people see me as a victim or an over comer... because right now it's about being well.

It would be kind of great if we could be MORE HONEST about our feelings. You know why? Because we all deal with this stuff. These grey days that won't lift. The feelings of numbness. The thoughts that make us feel crowded and heavy. There is no weakness, because we all deal with this darkness on one level, or another. Some of us are carrying heavy burdens and others carry lighter ones... but we all carry it.

Let's talk about it more. I'm gonna talk about it....

"Scare the World: Be exactly who you say you are and tell the truth." -Iaian Thomas, I Wrote This For You

"No legacy is so rich as honesty." -William Shakespeare






Monday, March 17, 2014

Better Days

It's embarrassing how long of a gap has gone between my last post and this one. The pressure to keep up a blog can be heavy... especially for a person like myself: perfectionist, type-A, consistent and slightly concerned about what others think. At the end of the day, I know I should blog... talk about life... keep in touch... post beautiful photos of my beautiful child and family and share our life with the people who love us.

But when you're depressed, all priorities change.*

Yes. I've been depressed. Some days it's "feeling low" and other days it's "just me getting out of bed is an accomplishment" kind of day. Thankfully, I've been able to maintain the status quo and shower and get my kid to school and make meals and keep the house tidy... but at the heart of things, I've felt empty, low, sad, bored and just unhappy.

This is a really hard way to live life, and it's not really working out. I think I've come to terms with that. Living day to day and recognizing things are not getting better.

I guess this isn't so much of a confession as it is a plea for support, love, and understanding. I know I'm not the only person who felt deep sadness in this helluva winter we had (because good Lord, Indiana!) and I know there are reasons I feel low (isolation, loneliness, homesickness...). But sometimes knowing why still doesn't do the trick. Snapping out of it just isn't the answer.

I'm on the track toward better days and I really hope I can use this blog as a way to be honest about life for myself and my family. Because, there have been SO MANY GOOD THINGS going on! I don't want my inability to process my feelings to get in the way of sharing good things.

Here's to being honest. And here's to reaching out.

*If you're feeling depressed, please seek help. Whether it's with a friend, a pastor or a counselor... please find someone to talk to. It will make a HUGE difference. If you're having feelings that include hurting yourself or taking your own life, please call this number immediately: 1-800-273-8255

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Welcome The New Year

I sit here in our brightly lit dining room, coffee in hand, bathrobe still on. It's ten-twenty in the morning and I'm refusing to let my chaotic night, lack of sleep and worry of sick child get me down. I've already downed my smoothie, which I packed with extra ginger in hopes to give me inspiration, a lift and maybe a little detox today. And while I sit here in my bathrobe, coffee in hand I look out at the snow-covered everything.

It's been exactly a month since my last blog post and though the four weeks have flown by, much has taken place. We've settled into our new home and it's beginning to smell of our warmth, food and coffee. We've painted here and there, torn off wallpaper, replaced water filters, moved furniture, cleaned floors, scrubbed walls, moved furniture again and really grown to love our new home even more.

Spending a holiday in a new home makes all the difference. It feels more like us.

It was a blissful Christmas Season for us. Quiet. Fun. Relaxing. Matt and I finished a puzzle, played board games, drank lots of beer and watched old westerns. I can't remember the last time we had time to kill. Endless hours to do as we please... nap, play games with the kiddo, go for walks, trudge through the snow and just laugh together. We missed our families, yes. In fact, Christmas felt weird without the bustle and travel and loud rooms full of people laughing and eating delicious foods. But sometimes weird is good. This year, the weird was good for us.

Today, we're on our fourth day of no school, everything is closed, snow-day. The roads still have a lot of ice and packed in snow... our backyard is deep with the white and my bird feeder has been picked clean. After a wonderful holiday, I struggle to let go of the "break" we had. I want it to last forever, but alas, nothing last lasts forever.

It's time to welcome this new year.



Monday, December 09, 2013

First Time Home Ownership: Complete!

Last Friday Matt and I signed papers on a house. This home has been a bit of a challenge to wrestle down, but we finally nabbed it! Back in October, we put in an offer and here we are... December (the 6th to be exact) and it's finally ours (technically still the bank's, but fifteen years from now it should be ours!)! Yay!

This picture was taken in the Fall... there is snow all around now!
Since the day Matt and I were married, we talked about buying a home and making it our own. Both of us were blessed to be influenced by our family's knack for taking something and making it your own. With that, we envisioned having a home that was "rough around the edges" and "needed some love."

This home is exactly that! Structurally, it's perfect. Original walls, foundation and floor plan are all intact; but the house needs updating. The kitchen has the original cabinets, and no appliances. The walls have wallpaper that is a wee bit dated and the floors have carpet that need cleaning.

This is a "panoramic" view of the interior. Matt is standing in front of the main entry, the bedrooms are to the left and the picture is taken from the dining/kitchen area. Gotta love that wallpaper, right?!

Down the line we envision new light fixtures, flooring, an updated kitchen and an overhaul of the fine details in the home. Details often make the difference. New windows, trim and doors will really spruce things up.

For now, Matt is working hard to get things move-in ready! My man bought appliances while I was out of town and I gotta tell you... he is amazing! It's great to know we're both on the same page sometimes.

Between painting, carpet cleaning and having the well-water treated, it should take about a week (or so) to get into the house. I can hardly wait!

This is our backyard! It's so big! Last night, Lucas and Matt did laps on the snow disc around the tree. I was misty-eyed at how fortunate we are.
Right now, Matt and I have much to be thankful for. Not only do we have a home we can call our own, but it's a home that is extremely affordable for us! We were deliberate about finding a home that would actually make life easier, rather than more stressful. Compromises are easier when you think about how stressful it is to not be able to afford a mortgage payment down the road. Being financially responsible and wise took precedence over all other variables in finding a home.

This house gave us everything we wanted in addition to being affordable. I'm not sure we could be any more thankful than we are right now for a place to call home.