a week in review and a new year of mothering…

This past week has been a crazy one!  It involved a certain fourth grader’s science fair, work on Wednesday, hosting a MOPs Coordinator’s Brunch on Thursday, playdates on Friday, and then, of course, Mother’s Day weekend.

I am blessed.

First off, the brunch.  What a privilege it is to know these women!  Our church has three existing MOPS groups and a fourth one starting in the fall.  These coordinators are women who love God, who desire to serve Him when and where He asks them to, and who have a heart for bringing other moms to a relationship with Jesus.  As a past MOPS coordinator, I know that at this time of year, you start getting a little burnt out – it’s hard work!!  So the brunch was just a time for them to connect with one another, relax, and feel appreciated for all their hard work!

Ladies, You Shine!!

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Then, Mother’s Day was really quite wonderful this year!  I got exactly what I wanted – ha! – to do “nothing”.  (which to me, means just spend time at home with my family!)

On Saturday I took my mom out to lunch and then we went shopping together for a few minutes at JC Penney’s.  It was nice to spend some time with her without the kids around!  She is really the best and I am so thankful for her.  She even offered to take the kids back to her house so Dave and I could go out for dinner together.  That was a lovely surprise, and much appreciated.

Mother's Day 2011

Sunday morning, I was awoken by kids with happy smiles and bright eyes.  Breakfast in bed, made by Dave and the oldest… who is becoming more and more proficient in the kitchen.  Won’t be long until she can do it herself!  Climbing up in bed, watching me patiently, but excitedly, eat the eggs, sausage and toast offered as a gift to mom.  Me wishing I could stop time and see those faces happy and smiling (…and not bickering…) all the time!  Presents made at school, now presented in paper gift bags laden with homemade drawings.  Handmade cards drawn by little hands.  So precious.  Church.  Sunny skies and warmer weather, a gift in itself after a spring dominated by snow, cold, and gloomy skies.  Time spent outdoors playing, working together, enjoying.  Steaks grilled and dishes done by the man who said “I do” so long ago!

I couldn’t have asked for a better Mother’s Day!  I am so thankful for this family that God has given me!

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know I deal with some depression occasionally.  God has been making it clear to me that my thoughts / self-talk play a big part in that.  So I had gone into the weekend, determined to enjoy my family and enjoy where we’re at right now.  That is often difficult for my analytical mind that assesses, identifies flaws, and starts immediately to plan how we could improve.  But part of my enjoyment may simply have been because I had read these two posts last week, about humility in mothering and allowing God to lead, and then about always thinking there will be more time.  I am, if you couldn’t tell already by all my links to her blog, a huge fan of Ann Voskamp’s writing.  These posts just put me in the right frame of mind to go into this weekend, and I appreciate it so much.  Attitude is everything!!

And so we start another week, another year of mothering.  I simply want to allow myself to be led by God fully in my mothering this year.  To find peace and joy in Him.  To be fully invested in the present. 

Please, Father God, help me!

So what about you… have you any thoughts / goals for this “new year” of mothering?

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…feeling better…

Wow, sometimes I am a total basket case, aren’t I?

Anyways, yesterday I had a very helpful conversation with a good friend, and I heard this Chip Ingram broadcast on discouragement:

Rebuilding Your Broken World – How to Slay the Dragon of Discouragement, Part 2

(once you’re at the Living On the Edge website, you can click on the title above for 3/1/11 and download the podcast)

I highly recommend listening to this if you felt at all like you identified with my ramblings in the last post!

Today I’m praising God for putting people in my life who speak His truth to me, and for putting me in the right place at the right time to listen to that broadcast!

God is Good!

The Mess that is Perfection

Lately I have been a jumble of emotions, thoughts, words, and last night, tears.  Be forewarned… this post is likely to be a mess as well.

I just feel like I can’t sort anything out.

One thought that keeps returning to me lately is that I am a disappointment to myself.

Last night my husband told me that I am a perfectionist – by way of an explanation as to why I disappoint myself every day.

He’s right.

As anyone who has been to my house, or seen me at the grocery store on a Saturday in my sweats – I’m not a perfectionist in every area of my life.  But I expect perfection from myself when it comes to my behavior, following rules, how I parent, and my marriage.  The problem is that I am not perfect – far from it.  Thus…disappointment.  (And, not to mention, a couple of those things involve other people who are not perfect, either!)

What do you think of or feel when you read the verse, Matthew 5:48 “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”?  I feel failure.  I feel disappointment.  I feel guilt.

I know in my head that no one is perfect.  The bible says, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” in Romans 3:23.  And I know God loves me, despite my shortcomings. 

But I still have a hard time reconciling this issue in my head.  Yes, God loves me as I am.  But doesn’t He expect me to be better?  To become more like Christ?  I know that I won’t be sinless this side of heaven.  But shouldn’t I be getting better?  Shouldn’t I NOT be dealing with the same issues over and over again?

God loves me.  Yet my sin grieves Him (Isaiah 63:10).  Wouldn’t He love me better if I was getting closer to being perfect?

Perfection has created a mess in my life.  I don’t live up to my own expectations.  The problem is, I don’t know how to change.  In my saner moments, I can, in my brain, acknowledge this.  But thinking it and feeling it, or having it change my behavior, are two different things. 

Pastor Andy had a great sermon yesterday – I felt like it was meant for me.  But it was also frustrating.  He spoke about letting God’s Holy Spirit change us, renew our minds, so that our lives don’t have to be defined by our issues. 

But HOW?  I feel like I’m doing what I can to allow the Holy Spirit to change me … I read the bible most every day, I pray daily and specifically.  Why am I not changing????  What is the key that I’m missing to make these changes happen? 

How do I lower my expectations for myself?  How do I change my behavior so I am closer to being who God wants me to be without continually being frustrated with myself?  And how do I deal with that frustration when it comes without spiraling into depression?  How do I stop thinking “I should be…” and start thinking “God wants me to…”?  And in the case of that last question, what if the two are the same and I just don’t WANT to?  What then?

Sorry for dumping all my emotions out on the “virtual” table here.  But when I started blogging, I felt like it was important to be open – and this is what I’m dealing with now.  Does anyone else deal with these issues?  How did you / how do you work through them?

Just sharin’

I caught this broadcast in the car today and it really spoke to me. 

http://www.livingontheedge.org/home/broadcasts/online_daily.php

(The one for July23rd called “Facing the Future with Confidence – How to Face the Future in Times of Uncertainty, Part 2”)

If you have a chance, listen to it!!  I was particularly convicted by Chip Ingram talking about how God’s promises and His Word is the key to being confident in the midst of fears.  He says (I’m paraphrasing, of course) that people make up all sorts of excuses for not spending time in God’s Word, and when they do, he asks them if they’ve watched TV at all the past week, or read the newspaper or a magazine.  He says people don’t have a time problem, they have a “priorities” problem.  I love that!  It hit me because I think God’s been telling me in several different ways that I need to do a better job of putting Him first, so that I can experience His joy, His peace, and His strength. 

Psalm 16:11

 “You have made known to me the path of life;
       you will fill me with joy in your presence,
       with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

Who Knew?

Ha!  I’ve been joking around recently with friends that I have what I called summer seasonal affective disorder.  I tend to get depressed during the summer rather than the winter.  I was perusing the web today and here’s what I found…

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/seasonal-affective-disorder/DS00195/DSECTION=symptoms

There actually IS a reverse seasonal affective disorder!  Who knew?

But it really doesn’t sound like me – I have more of the symptoms of the regular SAD during the summer.  Especially the hopelessness, lack of energy, tendency to eat more, and social withdrawal.  I guess I’m just unique!!

The first summer or two of depression, I wondered if it was just increased stress due to having the kids around 24/7.  But now I see, really, that there’s more of a pattern here for me.  The stress might be part of it, but not the whole reason.  I’ve been trying to take some time away from the kids the past couple of weekends, but I really don’t seem to be any more refreshed when I come back.  So I’m looking for other things to help.  I can think of a whole bunch of things that I could try that “should” help, like exercise, but I don’t have the energy to do them!  Isn’t that pathetic?  It may be time for more counseling, I guess. 

Are there any of you out there who seem to get depressed during the summer rather than the winter??  Any suggestions for me?

One verse that keeps coming to my mind is Acts 3:19 “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”  Not sure what He’s trying to tell me.  I do have regular time set aside for prayer and bible reading, but maybe more is needed right now?  Maybe more of my free time should be spent with Him rather than watching TV or facebook?  I guess that’d be a good start!

TTAH – Beating the Blues

I’ve been feeling pretty miserable, off and on, for the last 6 months or so.  I’ve had times when I’ve been in a mood that I can only identify as despair.  And this is new to me – I’ve never in the past been through this.  I’d like to call it baby blues except that my littlest is almost 20 months already!

Sometimes I just think to myself – what is your problem?  Because the circumstances of my life are really relatively peachy.  So why do I feel so miserable sometimes?   I suspect all of the following plays a role – hormones, being needed by someone all the time, lack of sleep, busy schedule, lack of time spent alone or doing things I enjoy, constant supervision of my kids, constant bickering between the kids, the list goes on and on.

So in case any of you are feeling similarly, I thought I’d share my tips on how to get through it.  Because really, today, I need to remind myself.  Here goes:

  1. Get enough sleep.
  2. Pray every morning.  (oops I should have put this first because I’m starting to believe it’s really even more important than sleep)
  3. Make sure I have some time away from my kids at least once every couple of weeks.  This does NOT include grocery shopping – it needs to be fun and enjoyable.  (for me, this alone time is a good time to employ my creativity – then I get a double bonus of feeling like I’ve accomplished something and also some peace & quiet) 
  4. Maintain my friendships.  I need to have other moms I can call or talk to regularly when I’m struggling with something.  Even better if they are also willing to pray for me!
  5. Ask for help when needed.
  6. Listen to uplifting music.  Christmas music always lightens my spirit.
  7. If you keep a journal, read through it.  It’s always helpful to me to see where I’ve been and to see how God has been working in my life.
  8. Help others.  It’s not hard to find other people who need a card of encouragement, a meal, someone to pray for them, someone to watch a baby while they get a nap or some shopping done.  There’s something really uplifting about stepping out of your own issues to help someone else with theirs.
  9. Exercise.
  10. Get a grip and realize it’s not all about me.  Read Philippians 2:3-11 (below).  Sometimes I like to throw myself a pity party and tell myself that I’m the only one doing anything around our house.  When I read this verse, it puts everything in the proper perspective: 

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

 5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
 6Who, being in very nature[a] God,
      did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
 7but made himself nothing,
      taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
      being made in human likeness.
 8And being found in appearance as a man,
      he humbled himself
      and became obedient to death—
         even death on a cross!
 9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
      and gave him the name that is above every name,
 10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
      in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
      to the glory of God the Father.

I hope this is helpful to you.  Do you have something that you do regularly to help you stay on an even keel emotionally?  Please share!