Monday, October 29, 2012

from the mountaintop to the valley

I've been home from my retreat for a little over a week now. I came home and wrote a post about mountaintops and valleys.

I feel like I did a belly-flop into my valley and here I lay plastered to the ground of my normal, with my kids running all over me, pushing and pulling, demanding more and more of me.

Eli has started a screeching phase. All day I listen to him scream about this, scream for that. He knows a handful of signs and a few words but all he wants to do is scream and yell. When he's not screaming he's getting into mischief or sleeping on me. I'm loosing my mind.

And I just want to say, very quietly - I'm having a hard time.

I feel like I came home from that retreat as the "real" me. Not stressed-out me, not exhausted me, just me.

I miss me. I miss how I felt when I came home from the retreat. Calm, joyful, full of grace and gratitude.

Now I feel desperate. angry. helpless. I feel used, taken for granted. trapped on the hamster wheel of endless and meaningless monotony. I feel like everything is a fight and a struggle.

I take a step back and view this with a deep sense of calm. I am not upset. I think this is normal. I think this is how a lot of us mothers feel a lot of the time. I love being a mom. I love the person it has made me. I don't enjoy most of the day-to-day of it though.

James1:2Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.


Let trials have its full effect

Let the labor pains of this day and of this season of my life give birth to something beautiful

steadfastness, patience, maturity.

Let: to allow to, to let go of

Stop fighting against the pain and pressure

Let steadfastness have its full effect

I am very much aware that I have been in much worse places in my life. This feels normal. Tired and stressed but normal. This doesn't feel like depression. And every day that I realize I've been smiling with my kids and enjoying their happy-dance I embrace it as a gift. It didn't used to be like this.  I can not remember a time when I have been free from depression for such a long a stretch as I have lately. It's wonderful not to have that weigh me down. To be more awake, to feel more alive. It is a blessing and I am grateful. But it's still hard. Just a different kind of hard.

James 1:12Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Now that I'm home from the retreat

I just came home from a retreat with the women of my church - it was a wonderful time with dear friends, in worship and teaching and lots and lots of girl talk. I came home physically worn out but spiritually strengthened and encouraged. I've gone through the days since the retreat with a renewed awareness of God at work in my life.

It's hard to process an entire weekend of God at work full-throttle. He was really merciful to me and I feel like he gave me exactly as much as I could handle but still, that is a lot to process. On the way home I was praying about the practical day by day application of the weekend to my life,  I wanted to come home and hit the ground running but I felt like God reminded me to rest

After you give birth to a baby there is a season of rest and often when God has birthed something in our hearts we need to just rest and let God lead us in the working-stuff-out part. So here I am resting in God's goodness to me, celebrating everything he has done in me. Sunday was great, Monday was really good but today I woke up feeling different.  Exhausted, again.

Eli was up last night, as usual. Josiah woke up and I let him climb in bed with us (huge mistake) Katie-Abigail had a bad dream and came into our room screaming around five in the morning. I felt like I was a time bomb ticking down the seconds, desperately wanting to go back to how I felt earlier in the week or even just the day before, scrambling to see if there was a way to get back to that feeling of closeness with God. But the baby wouldn't nap. My quiet time was not-so-quiet in Eli's room, by his bed. Remembering that these trials are momentary. Remembering that when my body is tired it's hard to feel anything but the tiredness.

To be honest, I often live my life mountaintop to mountaintop, kind of languishing in the valleys in between. I was given a quote last weekend that speaks to this:

"Mountaintops are for views and inspiration, but fruit is grown in the valleys." - Billy Graham

Mountaintops are for perspective. Sometimes that moment is in worship at church, sometimes it's in those quiet moments with God in the shower, sometimes it's at a retreat. Mountaintops are amazing, but then you have to keep going. Living by faith, not by sight. Remembering what God revealed up on that mountaintop.

This weekend in my moment of perspective God showed me how much He has been at work in me when I wasn't even aware of it, shaping me in ways I didn't even realize at the time. But going back into the valley to walk it out, live by faith and trust that He is still working is not fun and it doesn't feel spiritual.

So today I got in my van, turned the worship music up (today it was this) and went to my favorite natural grocery store for some huge Honey Crisp apples, I feel like I walk out with a bag full of treasure. I listen to the words of my music and my spirit responds in worship and I realize something important:

God has not changed

What I feel in this day has changed, dramatically so, but God does not love me any less today than yesterday, God is not any closer or any farther away. It's only my feelings that have changed. Those feelings are probably very closely related to my body and a result of my lack of sleep.

Mountaintop experiences are awesome and God did a huge work in my heart over the weekend but valleys are awesome too and God is still moving and working in huge ways here too. I'm just not as aware of it.

So today I get to choose what I'm going to believe...

and take a nap.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Thoughts lately



Exhaustion is my new normal. I feel like I've spent the past eleven years of my life between various degrees of sleep deprivation and exhaustion.

But exhausted doesn't seem to be the right word for the degree of tired I've been lately.

Two trips to Atlanta in two weeks did me in. Plus my boys have been taking turns waking me up at night - usually between the two of them I am up at least three times between 12am and 7am.

I'm really tired.
Bone tired.
Achy legs and stiff joints tired.

I move through the day at half-speed
trying to squeeze in a few minutes of nap
but five year olds are not great nappers
so that doesn't usually happen.

The other day I was sitting with Eli
he was taking a bath - which is one of my favorite moments of the day
because it is a hiatus from the constant demands of following him around all day
I was mentally complaining to myself about how tired I am
when the realization washed over me

there is blessing in this too

in every season
in every situation
in my greatest need
in my darkest hour

there is blessing here

I have been looking for it
searching for it like treasure
the blessing in this season of exhaustion
holding it close
reminding myself of it often

Sometimes I fight the season
strive and struggle
furiously run in circles
trying to make up for my lack
busy busy busy
and miss the blessing

The blessing of this season
learning to let
to let the day be what it needs to be
in scrapping the plan for the day
and just be 
in the moment, with my babies

When I feel strong and capable
when I am rocking my to do list
it's hard to just be 
it's easy to go and go and do, do, do

But some days are just meant to be
some days I have to just let
and there is power in the letting

and blessing in learning to ask for help
I hate it
avoid it
but have to do it when I'm in this season
when I'm face to face with my lack

Asking for help is important
humbling myself and saying
out loud
I need you
is powerful

So I'm glad that I finally got a full night's sleep and have more energy today and I think I have a better perspective on what is important. I want to embrace this day and not fight this season, whatever it is, and find the blessing.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Cousins and more cousins

It is Monday with a vengeance here. Cool, cloudy, rainy. After an exhaustingly busy weekend and one of those not-enough-sleep kinda nights. My boys fell asleep for an early nap and It seemed like the perfect time to post some photos from this weekend. The kids and I drove the three hour ride to Atlanta (for the second weekend in a row) to gather at my older sister's home to see my grandparents who drove up from Florida for their yearly visit.  We are a big family! My older sister has six, I have five and my younger sister has three plus my mom and dad and grandparents - so we are a houseful! It was great to finally see Kathryn's new place, they finally have enough room for everyone so the cousins could spread out and have plenty of space to play.

My older sister, Kathryn, my younger sister Abigail and a bunch of kids!!
Beth is nearly as tall as my mom (Left) and her Aunt Abi (Right)

Kathryn has a son almost the same age as my Eli
and they both wore blue! Pictured: my Emma & Eli and three of Kathryn's kids
a house full of cousins!

we shared a HUGE meal
I don't usually take many photos at family events 
so these were taken quickly when I thought no one was looking

Beth (middle) and two of her cousins - both are older than her by 1-2 years!
the cousin "twins" they are born one year minus a day apart
boys cousins. Josiah was worried about the dog.
but brownies make everything better!

Beth strolled the cousins around in this stroller for nearly an hour until they were ready for their nap
Emma with her shadow. Somehow I got pictures of all of my kids except for Katie-Abigail! She was there though - I guess she was moving around too much to be in any of my iPhone snapshots.

I love all the big trees at Kathryn's place. Beth enjoyed having time with her cousins - and managed to be in nearly all of my photos from this weekend!

I am so glad we were able to get together! We had a great time. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Eli: 14 months

I took the kids outside to take a few photos. I wasn't able to do exactly what I was trying to do - namely experiement with proportions of foreground & background. But I got some pretty shots of my sweet boy so I thought I'd post a few here.

DSC_8397 DSC_8369 DSC_8362DSC_8341 DSC_8326DSC_8330

Eli is 14 months old now and very active. He is a busy, busy guy but really sweet natured. He especially enjoys trying to pull anything on a table or countertop down on himself, trying to eat books and his latest trick is carrying around cotton balls in his hand, sometimes trying to eat them or pick them to pieces. He does it over and over and over. Locked doors here we come! He also tries to climb into the dishwasher which is pretty funny. One of his favorite things to do is play with my swiffer wet/dry mop. He's not too thrilled about the vacuum cleaner when it's on but when it's off Eli considers this a premium play toy. He still signs more than he speaks, though he is learning new sounds all of the time. He can say Hi and his favorite word is still DaDa. Which I totally get. Who wouldn't be totally in love with The Hubs? He has said Buba once or twice for Josiah. He likes to call Beth & Emma Ba or Ma and he uses them interchangeably. He hasn't tried to say Katie-Abigail yet... can't imagine why ;) He just learned to say uh-oh which I think is pretty much the most adorable thing ever.
Signs Eli uses: Eat, More, All-done. He just learned how to sign Wait which is awesome because I have to sign that one to him all the time. He also knows how to sign Please and Thank you  which I think is totally awesome - every toddler should learn how to be polite, right? Never too early to start. The sign for sorry is way too close to the sign for please so I have tried to teach him an alternate sign for sorry - not a lot of luck in that department yet but we're still trying. Eli is finally responding to "come" more consistently. He runs to us with a huge smile on his face. LOVE it. Now I'm trying to teach him "stop". Hopefully he'll learn that one soon. Since he hears it a million times a day. Favorite foods: Mac & cheese, rice, bananas. Favorite toys: balls, books, cars (which he makes vroom sounds whenever he plays) He also really likes his Thomas the Tank Engine sit/push toy that we got him for his birthday.

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