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Defeating Depression Daily

Depression is always a touchy subject.  Is it a real diagnosis?  Is it a mind game? Is it chemical imbalance or genetics? Is it moodiness and personality?  Is it spiritual warfare or a sign of spiritual immaturity?  Maybe it’s all of the above or none at all.  But to talk about it I’ll need to open up and get raw honest.  So, just imagine we’re kicking back in my messy living room, mugs of mocha in our mitts, and let’s chat as friends.

I was diagnosed with depression as a teenager, though I’m certain it was haunting me at a much younger age.  At 17, I was hospitalized for it.  As a first-time mama, I was plagued with it from every angle. But that is another story.  Today’s post is not about my label but about how I live out my liberty.

During a late-night encounter with the Almighty, I was rescued from this terrible state.  (Again, another story for another post) Since that night, I have never been a victim of depression or enslaved to it ever again.  That’s it. End of entry.  Done deal.  NOT!!!  Though I do believe I have been freed, that doesn’t mean I never have to fight.  Depression is deeply interwoven in my being.   It’s a constant and persistent nag that I must be always on the watch for and knockback at every attempted advance. Days, weeks, months can go by with no real worrisome symptoms.  Then again, days, weeks, and months can go by with little reprieve from the battle.

bedsheets

Depression looks different on different people at different times.  At moments, it’s a stifling sadness and then morphs into a manic self-pity.  It can be as subtle as a polite laugh at a bad joke and then slam you into a windshield of worry and weariness.  For me, there are days when it feels like a weighty fog, annoying but tolerable.  Then there are mornings when it makes shrugging off the bed sheets stunningly painful.  There’s not always warning and when it strikes, depression isn’t normally a gray area.  It’s there! Thick and thunderous.  So how does this Jesus loving mama deal with it?  In three not so easy steps.

First and always first, I pray.  After noticing my symptoms, which can range from paranoia to insomnia, or a mournful soul moaning that I can’t explain, I take it to my Savior.  When I’m rooted in the Spirit it’s much simpler to ascertain my descent into depression.  However, I’m human and my heart strays much more frequently then I’d like to own.  When it does, sometimes it can take a soft word from a loved one or a damaging loss of control to alert me to my danger.  So, I pray.  I never feel like praying, when in my funk.  I never want to lay it down.  It’s familiar, oddly comforting, and gives me an excuse to remain self-focused.  There have been battle moments that have made it physically painful to ask the Lord for advice.  This is when it is most important that I do so.  This is a major red flag of battles to come.  So, I pray, pray, pray.  The position doesn’t matter.  The words don’t matter.  The heart matters.   Since I have littles, that I have no desire to overwhelm, most of my prayers of desperation happen in the shower.  I’m not sure if a human could decipher most of my words.  But the Spirit does and He makes them beautiful before God.  I wail. I screech.  Sometimes I even swear.  I pour it all out. Nothing held back. This is the Creator.  My Creator.  He knows everything.  He’s allowed this struggle and He equips me to overcome it.  Why should I hide any facet of my feelings from him?

After praying, it’s time for action.  I examine my recent habits.  Am I sleeping enough?  Am I eating properly? Taking my vitamins? Drinking too much coffee?  Watching dark television shows?  Reading intensely melancholy books? The list goes on.  If there’s a pattern within my latest activities, I bring it before God and ask him what I should cut out.  Then I cut it.  Even my constant companion, coffee, has, at times, had to be cut out for a season.  My healing is more important than my comfort.  I drink more water.  I exercise.  None of which is an instant fix.  But I continue in faith, knowing my depression will not last forever.  It has no eternal hold over me and it will submit to my Father.  I pour the word into my spirit.  Before my feet hit the ground, before I check Facebook or Yahoo, I give the word at least five minutes.  This is not my Bible study time.  This is my gather strength from the Source so I can get out of bedtime.  And it works, as long as I have the courage to obey.  The first step out of the covers is always the most painful.  A moment of truth.  If I can make this one step, ignoring the lying voices within me, setting aside the sadness for just a second, I can make another and another.  Usually to the shower, where I pray aloud, and wash off the morning’s emotions and choose eternal joy over fleeting feelings.

I also, ask the Lord to examine my heart.  Sometimes, though I’m loathed to admit it, I am harboring bitterness.  I am intentionally choosing unforgiveness and rebellion over mercy and humility.  There are situations, experiences, even tragedies in my past that resurface and trigger old patterns.  If I want to maintain my freedom, I must let them go.  I must forgive and re-forgive the same offenses.  I must bath my past self in the Light of Heaven.  Remind myself to think eternally and to let God handle my history so that I might have a future.  Submission is never easy.  When coming to blows with depression I start small.  I sing.  I take whatever song the Holy Spirit sends me and I sing it out loud and out of key.  This tiny victory can be more gut-wrenching than getting out of bed.  Especially, when defeating a justifiable offense with irrational forgiveness.  My voice may be weak and the tears often crack through the chorus, but singing praise to the Maker is a weapon.  It reminds me who I am.  It reminds me how much I’m loved. It reminds me of my purpose.  I am not alone.  I am not unseen.  I am not worthless.  I am cleansed. I am comforted. I am complete.

Lastly, I rest.  I rest in my routines. My routines relieve my already burdened mind and make my body move.  By following my normal routines, I leave myself a mental white space in which to keep in constant dialogue with God.  We talk as I wash dishes, fold laundry, and vacuum the house.  Though they can see my distress, my children feel more secure watching me keep up the daily rhythm. A mama scrubbing dirty dishes and singing through tears is much more comforting than a wailing woman buried in a pile of clean towel. (I’ve done it both ways.)  I rest from the extras.  I splice out my perfectionism and delight in enough.  I give my days some slack, some quiet, some stillness.  This helps me remember what I love about life. It shuts down the lie that depression is unending. When I stop pushing myself to be more I remember the joys I already have.   I rest from my worries.  There are just some things I can’t-do. I can’t spontaneously give my dyslexic daughter the ability to read at grade level.  I can’t give my husband the pay raise and professional praise he deserves.  I can’t be with my son every second to ensure every teenage decision is made with wisdom and forethought.  I can’t end suffering, or world hunger, or child abuse no matter how much money I give or letters I write or calls I make to Congress. Biscuits and rice! I can’t even stifle my own prideful spirit without God help.  However, I can rest in doing my part.  I can rest knowing that God can and will end such things in His perfect timing.  Becoming incapacitated with grief over the world’s darkness doesn’t help defeat it.   Love, hope, and faith these will defeat the darkness and I can have these in Christ.  So, I rest in Him. In Him, I am enough and I am free.

Depression is no joke. It’s not a cliché.  It’s not a mirage.  Nor is it an excuse, a lifestyle, or a destiny.  Our hope is anchored in Christ alone.  He may call us to walk across the invisible battlefield of depression but He has not left us unarmed. He will give us victory.  He has and does give it to me daily. My mana and quail. My hope and a future.  My light and my path.  If you live with the battle against depression, Jesus longs to give you His freedom as well.  Grab it with both hands and hold on. The feelings are fierce and fearsome but they will not last forever!  Keep fighting the good fight.

photo credit: KatieHolliday Cold via photopin (license)

 

 

MORE:

Books other than the Bible that have helped me overcome:

Sometimes my brain won’t  calm enough to read as I’m negotiating the wave of a storm formed for one… so music helps me greatly (on a side note the wrong music can trigger a deeper downward drift)  Here’s some cds/songs that strengthen my hope muscles.

Especially  the track titled:     Let it Go              (not an Elsa copy)

Plumb gets it.

Love the song Fighting Words

And as random as it may seem this song from a Disney film

These tunes either help me cry it out and cry for God’s help or the build me up so that I may encourage others. Either way, depression has never overcome me if I have remembered to keep this human temple filled with heartfelt praise.

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How Humbling Yourself In Your Time of Need Changes Everything by Tricia Goyer (Guest Post)

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The other day I was cooking dinner when my six-year-old son rushed into the kitchen.
Beads of sweat slid down his red face. “I’m so hot. You never get me anything to drink.”
I stirred my spaghetti sauce with one hand as I turned to him. “Excuse me?”
His voice rose in a full, high-pitched whine. “You never give me anything to drink!” He waved his hands and dropped to the floor.
I took in a breath and then released in, telling myself to keep my voice steady, calm. “I’d be happy to get you a drink. I just need you to ask.”
He kicked his foot against the floor. “But I want a drink now!”
“I know you do.” I peered down at him. “And as soon as you ask the right way I’m happy to get some some ice cold water.”
And then my son stood, smiled up at me and asked so sweetly for a drink of water … NOT!
Instead, he whined and fussed more. Finally, I asked him to leave the kitchen.
You know what? He never did ask. In fact, he didn’t get anything to drink until fifteen minutes later when we were sitting down to dinner. He was so bent on complaining and whining—in feeding his discontent—he didn’t want to release his control in order to ask me for help. I would have gladly given him the drink he requested if only he asked in the right away.

Feeding Our Discontent
I wish I could say this is just a little kid issue, but I’ve been there myself. During my teen years I lived in that storm of discontent. I complained when things didn’t go my way. I worried. I fretted. I fought.
I even took matters into my own hands when I found myself facing an unplanned pregnancy at age 15. My own fears and worries led me to a choice I now regret—I had an abortion.
It wasn’t until years later, at age 17 when I was pregnant again, that things took a turn for the better. It’s then I humbled myself and turned to God. By this point I realized the whining, complaining, and acting out wasn’t getting me what I wanted or needed.
At six months along, I wrapped my arms around my growing stomach and prayed, “Lord, if you can do anything with my life, please do.”
God showed up big time. He not own gave me Himself (which is the best!), He has also led me on a journey where radical, and wonderful things, have happened. This has included marrying a wonderful Christian man, having two more kids, starting a crisis pregnancy center, mentoring teen moms, adopting seven more children, and writing over 70 books!
God didn’t just offer me a cup of cool water when I asked. He opened the floodgates of blessing. But it took me humbling myself and seeking Jesus to meet my needs.
This reminds me of a Scripture I was reading just this morning, “I called on your name, LORD, from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea: ‘Do not close your ears to my cry for relief.’ You came near when I called you, and you said, ‘Do not fear.’ You, Lord, took up my case; you redeemed my life,” Lamentations 5:55-58.
Mumbling, complaining and griping is easy, but they rob us of having our greatest needs met. Yet when we humble ourselves and turn to God, things will change for the better.
When we call to the Lord, He hears us. When we turn to Him, He comes. When we call to Him, He reminds us that He is present and we have no reason to fear. When we place our needs in His court, Jesus redeems our life.
It took a lot to humble me as a teen—two unplanned pregnancies in fact. Yet I’m thankful that I learned back then that when I turn to God He will meet my needs. He will meet them in more wonderful ways than I ever expected.

 

You can read more about how God can show up radically in your life in the book Walk It Out: The Radical Result of Living God’s Word One Step at a Time (http://amzn.to/2wi1Cwi).

If you pre-order Walk It Out before October 1, you’ll also receive 30 Days of Prayer as You Walk It Out FREE! Details here: http://www.triciagoyer.com/walk-it-out/

Homeschool · Hormones · Uncategorized

Minecraft Mom

(How God used hunting zombies with my son to resurrect our relationship)

mob
photo by Bean

My boy was always talkative. He was born that way. Oozing with pride and dripping with first-time mama details, I spoke to my grandmother over the phone. Two states between us, her opportunity to snuggle her first great grand baby wouldn’t arrive for months. She asked if I could put my Bean on the phone with her. So, he could hear her voice. I obliged and then implored my 3-week-old bundle, “Can you say hi, Beanie?” No fibbing, the infant squeaked and cooed at the receiver. The long-distance shrieks of delight, from the other line, startled him. But there was no doubt, Bean had spoken. The chatter swelled from that moment onward.
At 17 months, Bean accompanied me on Christmas shopping trips and had a commentary and a critique about every purchased gift. We spent evenings with relatives, listening to Bean give elaborate, descriptive if a perhaps a bit disjointed, speeches. He made up stories. He produced poetry. He sang. Words, words, words. New. Old. More and more words. It never stopped. His sweet small voice followed me everywhere. Until he was 12. Even then, speeches were still spewed sporadically but they were loaded with accusation and angst, annoyance and aggravation. There were still many tender whispers but the space between them was heart-wrenching. At least for me. And I couldn’t help but wonder, was this conversational cold front hurting him, as well? Our connection was in flux, and that was fine, but we hadn’t yet found our new normal. And it was alienating us both.
One day, after a bout of belligerence, mine, I was shaken and scared.  I wanted these shouting matches to end.  I wanted to be with my son. I wanted to be a safe space for his secrets. I wanted him to know I cared even if things were weird. I washed my tear lined face and decided I was just going to be near Bean. I didn’t have to be in his face just near his space. I deliberately prayed for strength. The strength to let go. The strength to give Bean to God. And then, I walked quietly into his room. Sat on the floor. And played with Legos.
After a few minutes, Bean’s breath grew more natural. The anger had left. His face calmed. His heart softened. And he talked. He built his spaceship and I fiddled with mini-figures. And he talked. I sat nodding and he searched for 2×4 and 6×6 blocks. And he talked. He didn’t delve into the matter of the moment. He didn’t relive our conflict. He didn’t give away his most private thoughts. But he talked. And I listened and praised God.
Episodes like this came at random. But they acted as a salve in our communication. I pondered why but didn’t wait to discover the formula. I just kept doing it. Then at a CHEA convention, I attended a Rhonda Stoppe seminar. My eyes burst from my face when she explained that women communicate best when face to face and men do so better when working side by side. EUREKA!  I understood. Legos were my boys “work” and I had entered into it beside him. Thus, the newfound moments of bonding.
But my boy is no longer 12. Legos still entertain but aren’t the same. Enter in Minecraft. Blocks and cubes. Mines and ore. Sheep and pigs. Sitting side by side, controllers in hand, we build something together. (Or sometimes blow it up!) And we share. And the conversation is growing. What was once movies and toys has grown into books and homework assignments. Sometimes glimmers of dreams and plans for the future sneak in while Steve and Alex dodge creepers. Here’s my favorite part, because these intentional times have made our discourses more comfortable, the conversation doesn’t always stop when the console is powered down. It leaks into daily life. Drives in the car become doctrinal debates. Shopping trips turn into stories of science fiction variety. Asking for help with school work is easier because with the fear of judgment is lessened. Bean knows I’m more interested in hearing his thought process than worrying if he’s getting every answer correct. Our relationship is perfect. Perfectly flawed. Perfectly weird. Perfectly ours. We’re bonding as we’re giving one another space to grow. (As I am letting him be him, the man-child not the infant.) Hard times come. Fights happen. Forgiveness isn’t always easy. Jesus handles the heart. Prayer casts our cares. And Minecraft gets us talking. Perhaps…even one day… hopefully far off…  we’ll talk about girls.
Try it. Dare to be discontent with the divide but don’t be demanding. Meet your boy in his area of interest and just be.  The mom who’s thick skinned. The mom who’s tenderhearted. The mom who’s there. The mom who’s listening. Enjoy being the Minecraft mom.

creeper
photo by Bean

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Mug of the Month #2

frenchpress2Hello there, August. Bye bye July, you sneaky fast month, you.

Here’ my July/August M.O.M

My coffee of choice has been split between a smattering of ceramic mugs.  So, the coffee shall be the star this month.  I’ve been french pressing these days.  My smallest press gives me just enough joe for one gigantic jug.   I’ve even been known to drink it straight from the press. Oily, frothy, and feisty this method has me playing old melancholy music from my teen years.  Earbudding bits of Jeff Buckley, Nick Cave, and some Counting Crows pep me up and get my brain a’workin.   This is summer and for a homeschooling mama that means planning next year, attending training webinars, and even a convention or two. But it’s also the season to play and splash with my kiddos in our blow up pool.  They want fun moms to replace school moms.  They beg for board games and new adventures.  The long to find lost things and hide new things.  (AKA rock painting) And so, time is not my friend these months.  Nor is my tired mind.  Thus the deep draughts of dark deliciousness.  Sans proper or even paper cup.  I’ve really been enjoying an organic coffee I picked up in Montana.  Though I brew it sparingly. Who knows when my next road trip will lead me north?

Devotions:   I’ve been drawn to simpler methods of study during this season.  Using an app called ReadScripture I’m starting at Genesis and working my way to Revelation.  I’m decidedly slow in my reading.  I’m training my heart to linger over God’s word the way my senses linger over steamy slugs of coffee.  I want to discover details and get lost in the poetry and savor the ongoing saga that is the Bible.  Thanks to the app an alarm chirps near 8 am every morning reminding me to read.  Most of the time I don’t even allow my feet to feel carpet before I feast.  This is a newer and sometimes impossible habit I’m growing into.  I want to be a walker, a doer, not just a hearer.  So, I read first.  Even when the brew now button is beaconing.  Determining to make God my strength in action and thought and not depend solely on coffee to wake me up and get my day going.  The kids follow along if they’re awake.  (remember it’s summer).  If they’re occupying a pillow nearby I read aloud.  Sometimes, I read aloud anyway.  This helps me focus and not fall back asleep.  Try the app out.  It’s a simple encouragement to read the entirety of God’s word from start to finish.frenchpress1

What we’re reading:   Being summer the kiddos tend to take care of their book habit via Librivox.org.   They particularly love the narrator Kara Shallenberg of Kayray.org.  They’ve devoured The Hobbit, for the 100th time, listened to the Melendy quartet again and again, and branched off from each other to enjoy The Secret Garden and some Jim Wiess readings.   For me, as I’ve been cleaning and coordinating and collaging the next school year together,  I’ve been enjoying some Christian Fiction.  I’m not a huge fan of the genre, as I like my fiction addictive and not overly preachy.  But I fell headlong into Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.   Oh my my… how I loved the drama of it.   I loved the spurts of daily life humor.  I loved the aching angst of a heart struggling to understand grace.  It is now one of my all-time favorites.  Which is saying something, since  I normally dabbling in delightful narratives for the youngers.  I listened via Audible.  Not a child-friendly read my earbuds got a workout as I plugged them in and toted the characters around the house with me.  I challenge anyone not to enjoy this novel. I finished the entire 17 hours in less than four days.  That’s a lot of finagling and finessing of family and manipulation of time.  Though I don’t regret a second of it. This book was not only entertaining but inspired me to action.  Growing closer to the Lord and loving others more wholeheartedly.   If only I could apply my mad time management skills to homeschool prep work. Oh well, maybe next year.

Hospitality

Haphazard Hospitality

bananacake
GF Crockpot Cinnamon Banana Cake

As a child, I loved to watch my mother visit with friends in our living room. I enjoyed listening to adult conversations and laughter. I delighted in the grown-up snacks and treats. I used to beg my mother to have friends over. I didn’t really care who as long as I could participate or lounge around in their presence.
What I hated about having company was the cleaning beforehand. I despised the dusting and polishing. I loathed the shopping, staying neat and waiting. I remember haughtily tell my mother “When I grow up I will always be prepared for guests. I will have my living room clean. Candles lit and glowing. Music playing quietly. And a tray of tasties waiting in the fridge. Just in case friends stop by.” Mom smiled at me, patted my knee, and wisely whispered, “Wouldn’t that be nice.”

Nearly, 30 years later, and I’m sitting on a freshly vacuumed rug typing away as my daughter and niece visit and paint together. A sleepover in progress. A sleepover I cleaned for the entire week prior. A sleepover I had my husband run out this morning to supply with treats. A sleepover for which I still need to order pizza. And my visitors are 10 and 12 years old. Not exactly the has-it-all together housewife I intended to be. Not exactly the dinner parties I’d imagined. Not exactly perfect but completely comfy.
Had this been a birthday party or small group meeting, I would have anguished for weeks to get everything tidy. Meanwhile, my family would have had to fend for themselves. Had there been non-family guests, I would be wearing makeup and floating casually from coffee pot to stove to the living room to be accommodating. Meanwhile, I would be inwardly anxious and nearly panicking. Had this been for church or work, I would be topping off trays, filling glasses, and spouting conversational interjections as I passed my guests. Meanwhile, I’d be killing myself to check and recheck the bathroom and not fully participate in any of the fellowship occurring in my own living room. After guests would leave, I’d drop a sweaty, spazzed out, spent spinster of a mama on the couch and inwardly sob from exhaustion.

Younger me, berates older me for not living up to my own standards. Older me wistfully tells younger me to shut it and go tell her own tired momma sorry for the judgment. Here’s what I know now. I’m an introvert. I love people but except for select and segmented times, I love them better from a distance. I can pray for them. Send them encouragement cards. Crochet them gifts. Text them jokes and even drop off random anonymous gifts. But all my social graces clump up in my throat if they dare to call me or get me face to face. I also know I am no domestic goddess. I’m adequate and that works for my family. I’d rather play a board game with my kids then sort socks and so we often wear unmatched socks. Big whoop. It gives us a quirky charm and saves me from perfectionist panic attacks. I am also not an accomplished chef or even deft defroster. I’ve even set fire to $4500 designer oven while trying to warm up Brie and preserves. However, I’m great at brewing a pot of coffee and can rip open a mean bag of Oreos. Yet, I’m a small group leader, a friend to extroverts, a woman who loves other people, and a homeschooler whose children desperately want to have friends over.

So, how do I overcome my lack of hosting and people skills? How do I open my home for friends and strangers without sacrificing my loved ones on the altar of over expectation? It begins with a very deep, cleansing breath and a whole lot of letting go. I’ve created one easy-to-make treat, that I can make well, that doesn’t’ make my kitchen a mess. I bake it in the crockpot as I brew coffee and get out my fanciest and funkiest coffee mugs. The mixed aromas fill up the house as I begin to tidy up the necessaries. I wash my face and fix my hair. To ensure everything smells inviting I take the trash out, get the dishes washed and the bathroom scrubbed, which takes a total of five minutes if I delegate out the tasks.  I light a candle or turn on my oil diffuser.  I shut my bedroom door and try not to worry over the laundry basket in the living room. It’s clean enough and there’s a snuggly spot to socialize.

I remind myself that no one is perfect and that my imperfections may just be the encouragement my company needs to relax. I fix my focus on my guests. I want them to know they are welcome and important. I sit and pray. I ask the Holy Spirit to be present in my home and to flood it over with peace. I ask for ears that listen well, a heart that understands the hearts of others, and words that encourage and lift up. Lastly, I make up my mind to have fun, to take part, and to be present. My home is just that a home. It’s filled with loudness and laughter and reflects the lives lived within it. So, I let it BE home.

And then I share it, happily and haphazardly.  And you can do it too.

Share some of your hospitality tips for other haphazard hostesses and help yourself to my amazing crockpot cake recipe.

GF Cinnamon Banana Crockpot Cake

Hormones

Tube Tied

Strapped down, drugged, and tired I watched as my husband left the room. I still split open. Him carrying my beautiful Sprout. The pressure of hands diligently putting me back together tugged at my empty belly. I kept my breathing light, waiting for the words that I’d prayed for, I’d begged for. When they came, I was left dumb. “Are you certain you want to do this?” mumbled the voice of my OB, bringing me the opportunity I’d longed for in secret. The opportunity, I reluctantly and painfully, turned down. The room went to work and I asked my anesthesiologist to put my guilt-ridden heart to sleep.
After not desiring motherhood (that’s another story), I’d been unexpectedly swept to my knees with joy, with Bean, my firstborn. I loved him before I was certain he was real. I adored him from the second the double lines appeared on the simple plastic stick. But growing him was not an easy task on my body. At 5 months, I was taken off work and warned to limit my standing time. A wise prescription since I had developed a habit of passing out at work. The next long weeks were devoted to stress tests and monitoring. I was careful but not too worried. Many women I’d known had a worse go of their maternity months. My baby seemed safe at every doctor’s appointment. I was tired, achy, fat and mostly happy.
Then came the birth, 38 hours of panic, pain, and punishment for an emergency cesarean, a newborn with water on his lungs, a frantic husband and family, and even more pain and weakness. I’d nearly lost Bean two times during labor. One of which I myself was in trouble, and prayed that God would have the medical team make Chef leave the room, so terrified hubby wouldn’t have to watch me die. God was more than gracious to answer my prayer and go above and beyond my request. Bean lit up my world and the world of those he touched in an instant. I was charmed and changed and converted. I actually enjoyed being a mother. I thrilled in it, good ababyfeetnd bad, messy and miraculous, fearfully and faithfully. I couldn’t wait to do the whole thing again.
But it took over two years to conceive Sprout. Again, I loved and cherished her as she bloomed inside my body. This time things were better. Until the end of my seventh month, when my heart couldn’t take the excitement or the strain. I, again, started passing out. Though, now, I had a terrified toddler watching me do it. I also began blacking out, while sitting. At 9 months, I was told it was no longer safe for me to spend the entire day alone. My family took care of me. My sister and mother in law visited me often, and let me sleep.
During this time, my husband and mother started to wonder whether another pregnancy would be wise. Even I questioned if my body could carry another baby, no matter how toned and strong I made it before implantation. Loved ones began debating with me the merits of two children having a healthy mother over more children having a sickly mother. Or no mother at all. I understood their fears, but I did not want to relinquish this new purpose I’d discovered. Tubal ligation was casually brought up by my doctor in the presence of my husband. Deal sealed.
So, in the spirit, I prayed. I pleaded. I petitioned. In the physical world, I told my family I would have my tubes tied. They nearly hooted with relief. I signed my consent and filled in all the required forms. Meanwhile, I still hoped If the Lord was willing to protect me even once more, if His plan for me didn’t include my sterilization then I asked one thing of Him. Just one thing. While in the operating room have my doctor ask me if I was certain. I told no one else.
And the question came. A moment of rapture swept over me. A moment I relinquished to fear. The moment after my reply was so terrible and sorrow soaked, I asked for sleep. As if sleep would save me.
Why? Why did I do it if God had given me a Damascus light confirmation? Why did I give up something I could never get back? At first, I blamed my husband. He wasn’t in the room when the question came. I was being submissive and respectful. I was keeping my word to him and my mother. For a long long time, I allowed this reasoning to cover up my hypocrisy. I was embittered and hostile, on a monthly basis for the lack of more children. My poor husband.
It was me. All me. Selfish with the happiness I’d found. Terrified it would be taken away. Unwilling to risk the uncomfortable. I choose to rid myself of more blessing because I wasn’t willing the bear the trial.
Tubal ligation is a decision each woman and her spouse should make in the light of God’s word and His calling for them. I ignored His grace and wisdom. My choice may be the choice God wants another to make for herself and her family. Listen to Him, if it is. But please listen to Him if it isn’t. It is not a choice to take lightly or merely to avoid inconvenient contraception. Allow God to control what only He can truly control. Trust and obey.
For me, every month I hope for the rare statistic. I hope He has made a way for me to conceive again. I mourn for the children I could have carried. I ask the barren to forgive me for tossing aside what they long for. I badger myself for not seeking alternative forms of birth control. (Pills and IUDs are not for me.) I wish I’d researched and found Sheila Wray Gregoire her blog http://tolovehonorandvacuum.com  . There, she clearly lays out multiple forms of contraception. Methods that don’t mess with one’s hormones or heart.
I have never had peace since that one little “yes”. Though I’ve sought forgiveness and know I have it, I struggle to truly forgive myself. I am confident that the Lord is working out my failing to the good of His purposes. I am happy and blessed and my house is loud with laughter. But I will always wonder, I will always pine, and I will always wish I had grabbed tightly to the Lord’s hand and followed.
I know I can’t be alone in my remorse. I also know I am not conventional in my opinions. Neither am I anyone’s critic or accuser. This post is just one woman’s point of view and offering of honesty for my friends who may be apprehensive to share their feelings. For those who may be tube tied and tongue tied, enjoy what the Lord has given and don’t let another adventure slip from your grasp. Hugs to my mom heroes. (that’s all of you) from sarah the coffee jedi

photo credit: sean dreilinger newborn feet – _MG_4072 via photopin (license)License: (license)

Homeschool

Together Time, Blue’s Clues and the Challenge Years

Long before I considered teaching my children from home our family had adopted the habit of morning time. We’d come together, open God’s word, pray, read, play and discover the world before separating into our individual routines. How did this begin? I didn’t have an epiphany as I read the scriptures. There was no correlation between how Jesus bonded with and taught the 12 that brought about our quaint routine. At the time, I had never heard of Pam Barnhill, Sarah Mackenzie, Charlotte Mason, or any other home school savant. I hadn’t even read a single book on child education. No, Bean, my then 3-year-old, came up with it after watching the highly regarded kids’ educational show called Blue’s Clues. Yes, the episode titled “Blue Takes You to School” started it all. Periwinkle, the cat, begins preschool and wants to know Blue’s favorite part of the day. The paw prints lead to circle time which is a section of the class that leads the students to a rug where they learn and share together. It even had its own song “Circle time, circle time, it can be anything as long as we’re together.”
As an enthusiastic new big brother, Bean wanted to share circle time with his sister. After breakfast, we’d plop her pudgy baby booty into her Bumbo and gather around on the floor. There, with help from me, Bean would re-enact an abridged version of his Sunday School Class. Singing with puppets and dolls, he would teach her that her senses

were God gifts and could be used to explore the world the Father had made. (Mostly with Moo Moos here and there and the like) The whole cute scene took only five minutes but bonded us for the day. Afterward, I would nurse the girl, Bean would snuggle beside us and we’d watch a show or listen to an audiobook together. I had no idea how this little habit would grow into the feast of fellowship it has become.541417081_7960714e0a_m (1)Homeschool grew more formal. Circle time became known as together time. Morning routine switched to the afternoon and back again. Still, together time was our bonding time. As the kids sprouted, we used curriculum like My Father’s World to guide our time and introduce us to missionaries of the past and unseen populations of the world. We added prayer baskets and dedicated time to hymns and celebration. Then teen life started and with it a new curriculum and a more rigid schedule. Classical Conversations’ Challenge program seemed like a perfect segway between family together time and learning to express oneself to one’s peers. So, Bean jumped in. But with Challenge A came a new load of data to digest and a greater need for a more focused individual learning time. At first, we mournfully buried together time. Wasn’t Bean absorbing more important information? The weekly planner was brimming with interesting ideas and hours of workload. Surely together time was just a burden and misplaced use of energy.
What I didn’t see, until the fighting started, was the sudden and scary segregation that canceling our routine would cause. A distance between siblings. Bitter angst on my end and a bit on my boys created walls. On my knees in desperation and tears, God brought a simple tune to my heart. “Circle time, circle time it can be anything as long as we’re together.” Duh! Thank the Lord for Blue’s Clues.

So, together time morphed and returned to its humble beginnings. It couldn’t last 2-3 hours every day. But 15 minutes was enough to reunite us and pump us up for harder labor. What does it look like now, you ask? Like the song says it can be anything. Recently it’s been a short Bible verse discussed with the five common topics. Following that is a short cursive lesson which review for Bean but new for Sprout. Sometimes we toss in a poem or hymn. More often than not we leave the languid family read aloud for evening time or even Audible it out on car drives. One blessing is combining subjects to broaden our conversation while limiting our time spent. With books like Prayers that Changed History by Tricia Goyer, we can lump Bible study, prayer time, history, geography, and character training into one 20 minute reading. We add in time whenever, wherever, and however, we can. If Bean is ahead in his week or family strain is getting palpable, we ramble through our time instead of blast through it. Discovering new material. Revisiting old friends. Drilling Latin or math facts. Playing a short game, “educational” or not. Singing and praying. It truly can be anything… as long as we’re together.
The teen years and Challenge years are not the time to drop out of routines. Family involvement is more crucial than ever. If you’ve never instituted a together learning time, do so! You won’t regret it. Will kids always joyfully sit beside you and read? Uh, nope. Do you have to make it ultra-academic? Again, nope. Will you get behind in the curriculum? Uh, possibly. But what’s more exhilarating than going down a relational rabbit trail filled with light bulb moments and laughter. Just remember it doesn’t have to take all morning. It’s the connection that’s vital. Trials become adventures only when they are traveled with friends and family. Together time is the perfect way to remind yourself and your kids that you’re a team and life is the best mission ever.
Gather your kiddos. Allow them to bring a coloring book and crayons, a sketchpad and pencil, maybe play dough, or even a puzzle. As long as their task is quiet and not distracting let them bring it along. Next, is grab your favorite book and your favorite snack to share. Set a timer for 15 minutes and go. When the buzzer sounds, put down your book. Hooray! You’ve finished your first together time. But you were in the middle of a chapter? Your kids want more? You don’t want to stop, either? Great! Everyone will be even more excited for tomorrow’s time. Remember this time can be molded and grown, no need to start out elaborately. Keep it simple. Keep it real. Keep it together. You can do this! Let me know how it goes.

Don’t know how to start? There are great blogs and podcasts out there to show you the way. Here’s a couple for you.
https://amongstlovelythings.com   (Sarah Mackenzie and the Read Aloud Revival)
https://edsnapshots.com/basket    (Pam Barnhill and Your Morning Basket)

photo credit: sean dreilinger Family StoryMinute – (license)_MG_6491 via photopin (license)