Thursday, November 5, 2009

And yet...

I have something to share with you all this morning... a deep and profound thought that occured to me as I went about my morning... an insider tip that not just anyone will tell you. Are you ready? Here it is: Depression sucks.

In fact, let's go a little deeper. Depression sucks when everything is going well. When everyone is happy and relaxed, time is a luxury, and money is no object, depression is frustrating.

When time is tight, money is tight, important relationships are taking a back seat, kids aren't sleeping, viruses are making their rounds, and commitments are tugging at your heart and body... well, then it's hard to know what is depression and what is just life.

And when all of those things are true AND you're pregnant and hormonal, well, you might as well just throw in the towel!

At least that's the way it seems sometimes.

And yet...

Depression sucks. But God is good.

I don't know where you are this morning. I don't know if you're rejoicing in a new day or stumbling bleary-eyed out the door. I don't know if you're having a stressful morning or day or week... if you're feeling overinvolved in life or completely disconnected from life... if circumstances are bringing you down or if you're just not sure what the weight is on your shoulders... if you're overwhelmed by frustrations or even by an overabundance of good things happening (hey, that can be stressful too!)... but whatever you are feeling right now, happy, sad, or in-between, I wanted to share a few verses that jumped out at me this morning. I hope they speak to you as well.

"Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens." --Psalm 68:19

"I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken." --Psalm 16:8

"My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him." --Psalm 62:1

"You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light." --Psalm 18:28

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me." --John 14:1

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." --Matthew 11:28

And yes, I know I already wrote this one, but it is really speaking to me this morning, so I am going to write it again:
"Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens." --Psalm 68:19

What more can I say? His Word says it all.

Have a blessed day.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Celebrating & Refreshing


Greetings from Tennessee! We are having an absolutely fantastic time down here, just getting to hang out as a family. So far the highlights have been going to the zoo in the rain and having a "celebration" here in our condo. The latter was an idea that Grace had a few days before we left for vacation, and I promised her we would do it. Actually, the conversation went something like this…

Grace: "Mommy, I have a great idea!!!!"
Me: "What's that, Honey?"
Grace: "While we're on our trip, we should have a CELEBRATION!"
Me: "A celebration?"
Grace: "YEAH! With balloons and cake and EVERYTHING!"
Me: "What should we celebrate?"
Grace: "That we all love each other so much."

Well, that was all it took for me! I agreed, and we sat down our first day here and planned it all out. Matt wanted to eat at a restaurant and NOT here in the condo, so we had dinner at the Rainforest Café. Grace wanted a Lady & the Tramp cake, so Jon found this super-cute dog-shaped cake at Kroger. Also on his shopping trip, Jon found a back of "twisty" balloons, so during naptime he, my mother-in-law, and I experimented with balloon animals and other balloon shapes. Some of them actually turned out quite cute! And after our dinner and cake (and ice cream!), I turned on some Go Fish songs and we danced and played with balloons. It was great fun, and I actually still have two sleeping kids this morning at 7:15, a feat that is just unheard of in our house.

Yes, it has been a fun trip. And I am both sad & excited to see my family time coming to an end tomorrow, as MOPS Convention gets going. I am ready to be fed and encouraged and uplifted and… oh so many other things that MOPS Convention always does for me.

Speaking of being fed and encouraged and uplifted…

I woke up early this morning. As much as I wanted to sleep in with everyone else, it is nice to have a quiet house to myself… so I dragged myself out of bed and came here to the living room. My intentions were good: I wanted to finish reading the current chapter for my Bible study (We're doing Powerful Promises for Every Woman by Elizabeth George.) and spend some time in prayer and Bible reading. But when I sat down, I just didn't feel like it. Instead I grabbed my laptop and pulled up Facebook. Then I played a game online.

Finally I put the computer down and started praying, just out of a feeling of pure obligation. So here comes some honesty, friends. That feeling of peace that I wrote about in my earlier post about the concerns with the pregnancy, that was very real. But it was a small oasis in a vast desert. Lately I've been feeling so BLAH inside. It seems like the very things that typically bring me joy and purpose and excitement have become weights on my heart. Theoretically I want to draw closer to God, but when the time comes to spend time with Him I avoid it. I have been blessed by Him with a passion and love for the ministry of MOPS, but lately—oh, this is hard for me to say—I actually dread the idea of leading again this year. I want to teach my children about the Lord and not just leave that to the church, I want to delve into this Bible study, I want to get more involved in our church, to share Christ with those around me… theoretically. But the joy in those things, the very desire to do them… it hasn't been there. Instead I escape into something meaningless, whether TV or Facebook or even naps or whatever other meaningless pursuit is most convenient.

And so this morning, rather than pretend that those feelings weren't there and try to "pray through them", I made them the focus of my prayer. "God, why is it so hard to do the things that I want to love doing?" I asked. I prayed for joy—and in the meantime, for discipline. I prayed for answers.

And answer He did.

This morning was not the first time that I have felt that God was directly addressing the things on my heart… but it never ceases to amaze me. I opened up my Elizabeth George book and began to read about God's warning us not to become involved in things that do not exalt Him. I thought that seemed obvious enough—of course things like drugs and… you know, other sins… distract us from God. Of course. OK, let's move on. But then she shared a story from her family, which I will not attempt to recount here… but at the end, she shared this quote from Susanna Wesley (mother of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism), "I will tell you what rule I observed… when I was young, and too much addicted to childish diversions, which was this—Never to spend more time in mere recreation in one day than I spend in private religious devotions." A few paragraphs later, Mrs. George writes, "My friend, is there a situation you need to 'remedy'? Are you feeding on foolishness or rooting through ashes or merely sniffing the wind?" (See Proverbs 15:14, Isaiah 44:20, and Ezekiel 34:16 to understand those references.) Wow. No wonder I feel so empty inside—I'm feeding on foolishness. I'm devoting my time to pursuits that have no substance, no purpose. It's like… like eating nothing but candy bars day and night, and then wondering why you don't feel good enough to go work out or do something good for you.

I think the most humbling realization is that it isn't the first time God has tried to teach me a lesson like this. Several years ago, a friend and I led high school girls in our church's youth group through a book called Every Young Woman's Battle. In it was a quote that really spoke to both my friend and me: "In the battle between flesh and spirit do you know who will eventually win? The one you feed the most." Does that sound familiar? God has brought those words to mind many times when I have started to invest my time in things that don't feed my spirit.

So friends, this morning I come to you with hope. God didn't magically take away my… spiritual lethargy. I can't say I feel completely renewed and on fire. But I hear Him speaking, and it is a wonderful sound. I know what I need to do, and for the first time in a while, I want to do it.

And now I ask you, "My friend, is there a situation you need to 'remedy'? Are you feeding on foolishness or rooting through ashes or merely sniffing the wind?" As Elizabeth George concludes, "[D]elight yourself in the Lord, in His provision, in His Word. Faithfully feed on the things which possess true substance and real meaning." There is nothing wrong with recreation… but allow that to be the candy bar of your life, not the main course.

God bless & have a great week.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A very quick update

Hey friends! I only have a moment--my kids are napping, I'm trying to get ready for vacation, and it's just all-around crazy. BUT I had to pop in to thank you all tremendously for your prayers and support since I posted about my pregnancy. I have really been at peace with the whole situation, but it always, always nice to be covered in prayer!

And today I had a midwife appointment, so I thought I would take a minute to let you all know... everything is fine! In fact, the midwife I saw today is not the one I saw before (She is new to the practice since Matt was born, so we hadn't met.), and she originally told me she thought it would be too early to hear a heartbeat today. She said she wanted me to come back in two weeks. I thought, "Um, lady, you are NOT sending me on vacation without some answers!" :-) (That sounds like I was upset, but I really wasn't. I REALLY like this lady, and I knew that she couldn't know EVERYTHING that was communicated to me just by looking at my chart.) So I explained that the other midwife had scheduled me for today specifically so that we COULD hear the heartbeat, and that she had suggested that we do a quick ultrasound if we couldn't hear it via doppler. This midwife agreed and got out the listener thingy (Yep, I went to med school to learn terms like that.), and there was no need for an ultrasound! We could hear that little heartbeat loud and strong. She remarked that we must have an overachiever on our hands. Ahhhhhh... if she only knew the kind of genes that run in this family..............

Anyway, it is wonderful news. Praise God! They have decided to push my due date back a bit, so I am now "officially" due on April 19. No word yet on how they plan to tell the baby of the change.

So have a great weekend, and I am off to celebrate with a week of relaxation & family time! (Those two AREN'T mutually exclusive, are they?)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hellooooooo Applebee’s!

When was the last time you went to Applebee's? With children? Well, apparently it had been a while for me, because today I was introduced to a promotion that the manager said has been around for about 7 months now: DVD players.

No, they are not giving away DVD players. But it's almost as good. When you come in with children, they ask you if it's OK to bring them a DVD player and some movies. The choices were all nice and short—"Blue's Clues", "Max & Ruby", etc (There were some others that I didn't recognize, and I'm assuming those were for slightly older children.)—so I didn't have to worry about dragging them out kicking & screaming halfway through "Cars" or something. It was great!

It would have been absolutely perfect if I had gone to lunch with a friend. As it was, once my kids were absorbed
in a zombie-like state paying more attention to Joe & Blue than me, I was a little bit lonely… that is, until I remembered that I had a book stuck in the recesses of the giant pit I call a purse. Yay for literacy! J My book club is reading The Great Gatsby this month, so I dug it out and started to read. It was the most peaceful lunch I've had in weeks! OK, granted, it's not something I want to do every day—I actually do enjoy talking to my kids at meal times (and other times!). But it was a nice little change of pace, and I think a very cute idea.

Now if I could only find something to eat that didn't make me want to puke. Halfway through lunch I almost had to abandon my children because the mere sight of them eating hot dogs made me want to lose my lunch. Oy vey. Just a few more weeks of this stage, hopefully.

So Applebee's, my children and I thank you for a fun discovery!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Change of plans...

My poor husband can't catch a break. For the last two days he has worked 7 AM - 10 PM or later, trying to get caught up on some things before we go on vacation later this month. Today he was back in at 7, worked until about 4:30, then went on a bike ride with a couple of friends. It was a nice reward after some long days, and a chance to get out of the office and get some exercise as well.

And then we planned to have a nice evening. We met for dinner at Cracker Barrel, after which we planned to go to an apartment showing (for a place that we are renting out--we're not moving!) and then go test drive some minivans. (We're not going to fit three kids across the back seat of my Prius...!)

BUT... it didn't happen. We had a nice dinner, and then got in our separate cars, heading for home so that we could drop one off and ride together. Jon put his truck in reverse... at the same time that the lady parked behind him put her car in reverse. They back right into each other. Oy.

No one was hurt, and it was a "no fault" accident, but our big evening out (work and picking out a minivan... but still...) was not to be. I came home to relieve my mother-in-law--she was babysitting, but she also works for Jon and knows more about the apartments than I do--and she went to do the showing. Jon, of course, stayed there with his truck to wait for the police.

Oh well. The minivan will wait, I guess. And I am extremely grateful that everyone was fine. Tonight I'll thank God for a healthy family and minimal damage.