One Year

of intentional homemaking.

I remember when my idea for this series first popped into my head…

we were in our old house, had ONLY 4 kids and my personal/emotional/mental life was a mess. I don’t know why I thought I could keep up with a series like this at the time.

Fast forward and here we are living out our dream on this little homestead, raising 5 girls, homeschooling and the list goes on.

Moving, starting homeschooling, having another baby, and building a homestead have pushed the intentional part of my homemaking into survival mode.

No intention. Feed the kids. Keep them alive. Teach them all the things. Sweep the mess under the couch. Fall into bed exhausted. Repeat.

Its been crazy and I have felt crazy. BUT, things are starting to really fall into place. We’re on our second year with the massive garden, we wrapped up year 2 of homeschooling (and we survived!), our new house is feeling like home and baby number 5 is turning one!

I finally feel ready to stop surviving and start THRIVING again. However, I know that it doesn’t just happen overnight. Homemaking isn’t something that has always come naturally to me. I am THAT mom – you know what I’m talking about – the one who changes her family schedule every month, has a new method of discipline each week, rearranges her furniture constantly in an effort to motivate herself to keep up on the chores…

Part of the problem is that I never really took the time to figure out what being a homemaker even meant to me. What is this role that I put myself in? How can I become great at something I can’t define? Am I just the person who cooks the meals, cleans the house, runs everyone to practices and makes sure we don’t go over budget? Am I the decorator, maid and chef? Is there even a “right” way to do all of this?

There is. But “right” isn’t going to look the same for all of us. I always tell other moms that the best advice I have ever received as a mom was that my family and home will NEVER function the same way another family and home function – and that’s okay. In fact, its MORE than okay, it’s how God intended for it to be. You see, if I am living under the belief that our family was knit perfectly together by the ultimate creator, then I need to realize that what works for someone else may not work for us.

And that is where this series comes in. What originally started as a way for me to post about all the new things I was going to try to make our home life great has morphed into a series where I plan to get down to the core of our own home – and document how we got there.

Image-1-35

This year is about intentionally creating the home that THIS family needs to move forward on the path that God has for us.

So why follow along?

Because I want this series to encourage you to figure out the unique homemaking skills that you possess and to embrace them to create a beautiful, safe and comforting place for your own family to grow and thrive. God has these incredible, marvelous, exciting plans for these children he has placed in our care. This season can feel so much like we are just trying to stay afloat. Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram can make us all feel like we are falling short. Comparison has become the core of our generation – but we all know that comparison is the thief of joy. The Lord wants this season of our lives, as hard as it is, to bring us peace, joy and growth.

The first three posts in this series will help us to begin to set the direction for our homemaking by covering how to:

1.Write a family mission statement.

2. Set our own priorities and goals for ourselves and our home.

3. Tackle our space and bring it line with the mission and goals for our family.

I hope that you will follow along and join me on this mission of moving from surviving to intentionally thriving…

This season of raising littles, being a wife and taking care of home takes so much effort on our part. The world seems to have moved on from recognizing the hard work that goes into creating a home where our families can reach their fullest potential. Sometimes its hard to feel like we are constantly being told that we are “just a mom” – but let me point out that you are anything but that. Our service to our families is something that brings glory to the Lord, and when it is done intentionally with Him in mind we realize that this calling is truly one of the most important ones that we will have during our brief time here in the world.

God sees you mama. He sees your efforts, He understands your struggles and He wants to walk this journey with you. Lean on Him, allow him to be the strength in the midst of your exhaustion and feelings of inadequacy.

I am so excited to go on this journey with you!

Here we go…

 

A Huge Leap of Faith

Deciding to have a baby after struggling with Postpartum Anxiety for a year was NOT an easy decision.

We had just bought the house we knew we were going to raise our kids in and started a new season of life. Things were great, and we finally began to feel settled after what had been a rollercoaster of a season…

But, I still had this longing in my heart, this deep desire to have another baby. I dealt with grieving over the idea of never having another baby for as long as I could, but this desire wasn’t going anywhere…

In fact, it was getting stronger. After sitting down and explaining how I was feeling to Matt, I realized something….

I felt broken. Damaged. I carried a lot of guilt over not being mentally stable enough to expand our family. Women are created to carry and bear children – and here I was, unsure if I was capable of doing it anymore.

I couldn’t stand the idea of our family not growing because of something wrong with me. So, after doing a lot of work with my psychiatrist, and praying and talking A LOT about it with Matt, we decided to try. We would give it 2 months, because we wanted the baby to be born in early summer at the latest, and if we didn’t get pregnant then we would put the idea off for another year…

It took two weeks. I was ecstatic, overwhelmed and excited. I couldn’t wait to tell everyone.

But then, one morning when I was waiting for the kids to get up, it really hit me. What if it happens again? What if its worse? The memories of my postpartum period with Emerson came flooding back, anxiety and panic set in and suddenly I was afraid that I had just made a terrible decision for my family…

Diagnosis: PTSD

I was angry, frustrated and defeated. All the work I did to get through the anxiety and now this!? I spent the first half of the pregnancy worrying A LOT.

But, one day, I was playing with Emerson and thinking about everything that happened to get to this point and I realized how worth it it really was.

So I made a plan – a plan for the rest of the pregnancy, a plan for if the anxiety came back, and a plan for if it was worse. Having a plan made me feel a lot better, and I continued to do a lot of work on myself in order to have the best shot at a good outcome for me and the rest of my family.

Fast forward a few months and we were in labor. I’ll write all the details about Macie’s birth story in another post, but what I can say is that it went better than I had imagined. In fact, I felt more in control of my choices and what I needed than any of my previous labors, and I have the work of digging myself out of PPA to thank for that. Our hospital stay was restful, anxiety free and filled with quality time snuggling my new babe.

But, when we got home, I began to doubt our choice again. For two days I sat around, on the verge of a panic attack, waiting for the PPA to return. I woke up in the middle of the night, expecting it to come flooding back. I worked myself into a full blown panic attack, convincing myself than my descent into anxiety was right around the corner. Flashbacks swam through my mind, and I was scared. For 48 hours, I was sure that I was going to have to battle for my mental health again…

And then it didn’t come. The nightly panic attacks, the struggle through heavy anxiety all day long, the desire to just hide in my bed from the world, the insomnia, the terror….

it never came back.

What did happen was me learning that once you have experienced anxiety, you can make yourself experience anxiety over and over again. You can talk yourself into a panic attack a lot easier than you can talk yourself out of one. I was, unwillingly, sabotaging myself….

So, I put my plan into action. I called my psychiatrist immediately to talk through the anxiety and make sure it was “normal”, I upped one of medications – a decision we had already planned for by having it at my house in case of an increase in anxiety, I told my husband exactly what was going on, began taking my placenta pills and had my doctor add in another prescription strength B vitamin….

and then I got out of my own head. Each night when I go to bed, anxiety tries to creep its way in, but I’m on top of it. I remind myself of how the day has gone, recount the good things around me, and remind myself that worry and PPA are not the same thing. I don’t let myself talk myself into the downward spiral.

When I woke up today, I realized that my first thoughts were not about anxiety. They were about snuggling my baby before the other kids woke up. They were about savoring my cup of coffee early, and catching up on laundry. They were about how excited I am about the garden, and planning a canning schedule. My thoughts were normal. And, I finally realized that I am happy. A different kind of happy, a happy I haven’t felt in a long time.

I’m excited for this season of life. I look around and can’t believe that this is the life I get to live, day in and day out.

Deciding to have another baby was a huge leap of faith. Truthfully, it could have been bad. I mean, having a child is always worth whatever you go through to get there, but it could have cost us another very dark season. We chose to believe we wouldn’t. We decided to believe that God wanted to use this birth, this child to show us how far we have come.

And it has done just that, giving birth to Macie has brought this whole journey full circle.

It has shown me that its time. Time to move forward to the next season of life. Time to stop living in this shadow of PPA, of defining who I am because of it. Time to take what I have learned, all the good parts of my journey and carry them on into the next chapter. Its time to leave the hard parts behind, to say good bye to the fear, the worry and the pain.

I will always be open about my journey. I will always be willing to share my story. I will always listen to a mom share her struggles while she is in the depths of the battle…

But I won’t be there anymore. 2.5 years of my life is enough for PPA to have a hold of.

So, if your wondering, I’m okay. Things are great. I am happy, sleeping and enjoying summer with my kids. I am spending time with and dating my husband. I’m working along side him to build our homestead….

So you don’t have to ask if I’m okay.

I’m sitting here about to nurse my crying babe, with my kids fighting bed time, watching shark week and looking forward to the adventures that tomorrow will bring…

 

 

The name Macie is of French origin.

The meaning of Macie is “weapon”.

It is also of English origin, where its meaning is “gift of the Lord”.

It is also the female version of Maccius – a roman version of the name Matthew.

 

Catching up…

Tonight I came across a post a friend of mine shared about not making excuses for our messy homes and unwashed hair as mamas…

It got me thinking. How many times have I gone around the house after everyone has fallen asleep and counted up all the chores that were “behind”? How many times have I lamented over never having a clean house? How often have I stressed over the fact that the table was sticky, the floor wasn’t mopped and there were dishes still in the sink the from the night before?

I shuttered at the thought of time wasted worrying about the things that don’t truly matter.

This season has been one of letting things go and focusing more intently on the ones in my care, including myself. Being sick has a way of doing that – of slowing things down to a more manageable pace. In the past it has been followed by a hurried catch up, burning the candles at both ends to get back to reality.

I’m making a decision.

Not this time.

What on earth am I attempting to catch up to? When have I never not been “behind” on housework, whether it be laundry piled up in the laundry room, or a kitchen floor in desperate need of mopping? Getting so caught up in an attempt to do this motherhood thing “right”, has me worrying about the less important things and putting the ones that DO matter on hold “until I get                  done…”

Waiting…

for the house to remain clean

for the kids to be bigger

for chore charts to miraculously become effective

for the day when I can count on a full nights sleep

for the day I can assure myself that I will be showered and in clean clothes before the women arrive for coffee….

Waiting, for a day that, if I’m being honest, isn’t on the horizon anytime soon.

And in the waiting, the very worst thing, is the joy I am missing out on right in front of me….

sticky counters that come from the blessing of little hands helping in the kitchen…

dirty sinks stained with toothpaste from little beauties learning how to take care of themselves….

mud on the kitchen floor from feet too excited to show me what they discovered outside to remove their shoes….

socks strewn on the floor in the living room from a husband too tired to toss them in the laundry basket because of his willingness and determination to work hard for his family….

As the dishes from dinner tonight went undone in favor of snuggling up on the couch to watch the Bernstein Bears before bed, I began to look at my messy house in a new light.

My house is full of an abundance of life. Nurturing, learning, growing, healing, rest and yes, MESS happens here because of the blessing of life, and not just any life, but life well lived…

And that is worth leaving the chores until the morning.

New Victories

I am writing this to you all from my death bed…

Okay – that was a little dramatic. But, my entire family has the flu (as in myself, my husband and all four girls), so its basically the same thing. I’m going back and forth between comforting sick kids, refilling juice cups, keeping track of times for tylenol and then falling asleep myself on the couch….

Its been, a little overwhelming….

but you know what I haven’t been doing?

Having a panic attack. And that’s huge for me…

This time last year (and I mean EXACTLY this time last year – the timing is insane) we were all home nursing a TERRIBLE stomach bug. And, I really mean TERRIBLE. We replaced every blanket and sheet in our house after that week since most of our kids weren’t able to understand how to NOT throw up on EVERYTHING. It lasted ten days and I was a wreck.

See, it was coming up on Holy Week and I had a million things planned for making Easter a  big deal in our house that year – and none of them involved the Easter bunny. I had spent weeks prepping and preparing these fun activities that taught my kids all about what Jesus had done for them, and why and I was SO EXCITED.

So when the bug hit, I was livid. I was sad. I was freaking out. My plans were ruined. My kids would have a horrible Easter. I tried everything that I could to end our stomach bug sooner. I cleaned floors, counters, furniture and beds again and again – even though I was just as sick as everyone else, in an effort to make us better in time for Easter weekend.

When I failed and Easter came, I melted into a puddle of anxiety and sadness. I had the first panic attack I had had in months, and that panic attack led into a month long anxiety relapse.

I was confused. I thought that I was healed from my struggle with anxiety. I felt defeated, broken, and back to square one.

What I hadn’t realized, was the amount of self sabotage there was during that week, and how much I still needed to learn from my battle with Postpartum Anxiety.

For some reason, letting go of everything that week and not being able to make my kids have a memorable Easter in spite of being sick made me feel like a failure….

On top of that, I didn’t make any of my own needs known that week. I didn’t try to make sure I was getting better. I wasn’t willing to just back up dirty laundry and wait until I was done throwing up every ten minutes to take care of it. I didn’t hop into bed the second everyone was sleeping. I didn’t ask anyone to drop off fluids, juice, medicines or food. I didn’t make a plan to trade off sleep with my sick husband so we could both heal…

I just pushed forward. I kept going, taking on everything myself and then falling apart when I couldn’t.

Self care has been a huge lesson I have learned over the last year. The first year of recovery from PPD was all about not being anxious anymore, but this last year has been me learning what different things may have triggered it, or made it worse…

One major thing is this notion that I need to do it all, and do it all alone. I CHOSE to have a big family, and I chose to stay at home. This is what I always wanted, and I LOVE almost every second of it.

But, it doesn’t make me weak to learn when I need help. It doesn’t make me a failure of a mom if I don’t run myself into the ground trying to do everything on my own. I am not less of a woman if I say I need to take a break, or I am too sick to take care of my kids on my own…

So this time around, from my hospital bed I texted friends and family and enlisted help. I lined up overnight sitters, allowed people to drop off goodies from the grocery store, I let the mess pile up for a few days and I slept…

Did I miss my kids?? Yes – a lot, it was harder than I thought.

Did I feel terrible that we didn’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year with green pancakes and some Lord of Dance? Yes! I may have even cried a couple of tears…

but it wasn’t the pervasive, overwhelming anxiety and sense of failure that came with the PPA attacks, but the normal “I am a mom and I’m sick and hate being away from my kids anxiety…”

Now all of my kiddos are home, and all of them are at some varying stage of flu illness, but I’m not overwhelmed. I’m not panicking. I emailed the co-op coordinator and let them know we won’t be in class on Monday, church knows we won’t be there on Sunday, and I’m just going to play it by ear next week to see how early in the week we can leave the house….

I  have some fun Easter activities planned, but I have low expectations of getting them all done and I am okay with that.

I don’t ever want to go through PPD again, but I am so thankful for the testimony that it has given me. Had I never battled debilitating anxiety, I don’t know if I would have really learned how to take stock of what I need in order to be healthy. I may have continued running at 100 mph, without asking for any help, without taking care of me, and may have missed out on all of this great life in front me.

I am thankful for the occasions now that cause us to slow down, that allow me to stop and check in on how I am feeling and figure out what I need to do in order to make sure that I am the best me I can be for my family….

Empowered by Nudity?

Its been a month since my last post, its been crazy busy around here. We’ve been bogged down by sickness for the better part of February and seem to finally be on the upswing…

I know I am a few days late to jump on this whole Kim Kardashian band wagon and truthfully, I wasn’t going to even write anything, but I can’t stop thinking about it. You see, we have cable, but we don’t watch much television (other than Disney Junior!), my kids aren’t on social media and we have the luxury of avoiding those school bus conversations since we homeschool….

We SHOULD have avoided hearing about Kim Kardashian and her nude selfie on Instagram, but we didn’t…

Because every major news outlet mentioned it, radio hosts talked about it and eventually I had to find an article to see what this whole thing was about….

Once I realized, I was appalled. Truly. Not so much at the photograph, because let’s face it, there isn’t much these reality stars could do that would shock me anymore, but it was what she wrote underneath it….

I’m not quoting her exact words here, but to sum up her post she stated that posting a naked image of herself on the internet was empowering…

Empowering.

Maybe for her it is. Perhaps in her chosen life path and career posting that picture felt empowering. In her circle, in her life she has people telling her that the outward appearance of her body applies directly to her self worth and her CHOOSING to share it with the world empowers her…

and the mother in me feels sad for her. I wish that someone would pull her aside and tell her that there is so much more to her than how she looks naked, how much money she has or who she is married to…

but the mama bear in me is ANGRY. In our culture today, there are droves of girls who look up to her. While I would like to question their choice in a role model, the reality is they look to these reality stars, who are seemingly famous for nothing, and they mimic them in the hopes of becoming famous themselves, or at the very least increasing their own self worth.

So, what happens when a 14 year old girl’s favorite reality star posts a naked picture of herself on Instagram, calls it empowering and seemingly supports the damaging “send nudes” movement amongst teens?

Her sudden stand against sending nude images of herself to the boy asking for them loses some weight. Her confidence in her decision to not follow suit with her peers begins to waver. She begins to define her self worth more and more by what those who view her body think about her…

She wants to avoid the teasing and tormenting that comes with standing on the opposite side of the crowd, but every time she takes her stand, she believes herself less and less. If the media is calling it empowering, then it must truly not be THAT BAD.

So she sends the picture.

Regret, shame, guilt, fear – nothing can take that picture back once its in the hands of someone else. The receiver has the ability to do whatever they please with it. If she is lucky, the receiver only shows it to a few friends, but refuses to send the actual image on to anyone else…

and if she isn’t, the receiver forwards the image to anyone he/she pleases, posts it on the internet, adds it to one of the many “slut pages” that are popping up in school districts across the country, or uses the right to do any of these things as a form of exploitation.

Being a kid themselves, most of the receivers of these images don’t even understand the negative ramifications of their actions.

See – Kim Kardashian already has a career, a life, enough money in the bank to live off of forever and is an adult who can choose to do something that may warrant negative reactions…

These young girls following suit don’t have any of those things. What they do have once they send one of these “empowering images” is a higher risk of anxiety and depression, a very scary chance of their image getting into the hands of an adult who has the potential to harm them, and a lifetime of their image potentially popping up on the internet. They have the very real situation of having a harder time academically because of the peer issues they face at school, and are much more likely to have LOWER self esteem and LOWER self worth, valuing themselves less and opening the door for more choices that could prove to have negative consequences…

These girls are not old enough to make a choice like this.

But they are….

and every time they hear about it in the media and hear it being referred to as a positive thing, they are at risk for making a choice that could affect them forever.

I wish this wasn’t an issue for our adolescents, but it is. This generation coming up into adulthood soon has more opportunity to make mistakes that could haunt them for a lifetime than we ever did. Their naivety and the very real danger of exploitation, child pornography and sex trafficking is a major threat to them.

So – here is my plea. Stop sharing, liking or commenting on these media articles that promote or talk about the nude images of these reality stars. Every time you add your opinion to them – even if its negative – you allow more and more people to see it.

And talk to the tween/teen girls in your life. Be a true example of an empowering woman. Be open about what self worth is truly made up of, and let them know that you stand behind them when they stand against the peer pressure…

And if you only do one thing, don’t look the other way and pretend that this isn’t happening.

It is. And the cost to these girls is too high for us to ignore it….

Face to Face

I’ve noticed a trend lately….

Mom’s on the internet posting incredibly personal information and questions in online mom groups, gleaning advice from women they barely know.

What started out as a way to communicate with local moms on parenting advice or local happenings for families has turned into a replacement for deep, meaningful and connecting friendships.

I get it. Trust me. Motherhood is ROUGH. Trying to make time for anything other than keepings the kids alive, while trying to juggle a home, and for many full time jobs, can seem like an impossibility. So we retreat into our homes, throw on our pajamas and open our computers, using the screen in front of us for any amount of adult interaction that we can grasp.

Social media is an AMAZING gift to our generation. It can connect us in ways that we were never able to connect before. We can develop friendships with people we otherwise wouldn’t have met, find communities with the same values and opinions as we do, and keep tabs on those we have lost touch with on a regular basis…

But, in the same breath, social media can be a detriment to a part of is that can’t be filled by a computer screen.

Community.

Relationship.

Real, raw, open, honest, accountable and loving friendship….

The lonely parts of our soul long for face to face connection. The void can be temporarily filled by an online connection, but it only lasts for so long.

We were NOT made to mother alone. The years in the trenches are exhausting, demanding, overwhelming and worst of all LONELY. When we become mothers, and each time we add another baby to the mix, we are faced with the daunting task of finding ourselves again.

Image-1-31

Whether you know it or not, you need someone to come into your space and say “I see you.”

You need to HEAR a person laugh with you over the craziness of your life, to cry with someone when things get overwhelming, to talk through feelings, decisions and struggles audibly.

We were designed for face to face communion with other moms. We were designed for deep and meaningful friendships.

So, ladies….

I am calling you out. Out of your homes, out from behind your computers or the guise of your latest smart phones, out into the community of women who have found the freedom and blessing that true, open, honest and loving friendships bring.

If your local, and home on Wednesday mornings, I encourage you to come on out to our weekly playgroup. The coffee will be hot, the kids will be corralled, and the conversation will be flowing. Come in your pajamas, come unshowered, come exhausted and defeated, come late, whatever it takes, just come as you are! You can find the time and address here. 

If you aren’t local, I urge you to step out of your comfort zone and join a local moms group. Don’t have one? Then host an open playdate, invite that friend you have been meaning to see over for coffee, or head to a local play area and start a conversation. There are even downloadable apps (MomCo is one I recommend, especially in some larger cities where there seems to be more moms using it!) where you can find playdates with other moms!

Sound scary? I’ll admit, it can be. Making new friends is HARD. Inviting moms into our mess without worry about judgment can be frightening….

But, I promise you, you won’t regret it.

Good Soil

I have had this post on my heart for awhile, but yesterday as I was listening to podcast, I realized the importance of this topic….

As I walking through the grocery store yesterday with my headphones on, off in my own little world, ALONE (minus all the people in the store) I was feeling as though I was on vacation. I could have felt guilty because one of my four had so badly wanted to come with me to shop. Normally, I would have let her come as I try REALLY hard to carve out individual time with the girls each week, but she was exhausted and this mama needed a break…

A few months ago, I would have put my need for a break aside because I would have deemed it selfish, or at the very least not as important as her wanting some one on one time with mom. I would have convinced myself that I didn’t really need to be alone, that grocery shopping was intended to be stressful and that this was my job, a job that comes with very few breaks or breathers…

but yesterday I said no, and off I went alone.

As I was listening to one of my homeschooling mom podcasts, one of the speakers was reading listener questions and a question came up that gave me pause. It was a valid question, but one that so many moms are battling with and shouldn’t be….

“Is it okay for moms to take a break? Is it biblical to carve out time to put myself in front of the needs of my family?”

A few months ago, I may not have even been able to answer that question. Because I truly believed that it wasn’t. I lived the first few years of motherhood under the notion that as long as I was needed, my needs came last. When there was one child,  or even two there was more time that I wasn’t needed by default, but by the time number 4 came there was no time that spontaneously appeared where no one needed me. Day and night, around the clock, chances were 1 of the 4 needed something from me….

and so I gave, and gave, and gave, and gave….

until I felt as though I could not give anymore.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE taking care of my girls. Being with my children is my absolute favorite thing in the whole world. I was created for this, I know that. I love teaching them, watching them learn, and being the one who kisses the boo-boos and answers the tough questions. I love that I can decipher whats wrong just by glancing at them because I am with them so much. I couldn’t imagine a day without the snuggles and the snotty kisses….

but I was becoming depleted. Dried up. The other things about me that were also things I was created for, were disappearing one by one. Writing, editing, creating and crafting were being taken off the table….

then reading and learning for my own benefit…

and finally my own quiet time was being sacrificed for the needs of someone else.

In the midst of all of the craziness, I forgot that I was a person created with needs.

but, more than that, that the needs of others couldn’t be met if I had nothing to give.

Things became overwhelming, anxiety inducing, and I was a wreck. I was tired, worn out and doubting my ability to handle anything else.

But then, during our bible study something amazing happened. We read the parable of the sower together in Mark.

Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed. 4As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it. 5Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. 6But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn’t have deep roots, it died. 7Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain. 8Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

I can’t even count how many times I have read this parable, I have notes in all different types of pen surrounding the section in my bible, but none of those notes brought to light what my children were about to teach me….

We were learning about how plants grow during the time that we read this section, so my kids knew all about what makes soil “good”…

I had been so caught up in making sure that the seeds planted in my life didn’t get choked out by the thorns, that I had forgotten I need to check the goodness of my own soil. As I was asking the girls questions, they began to point out to me about how soil and seeds need to be taken care of in order to grow! A farmer doesn’t just hope that the soil is good, he makes sure it is. He waters it, takes care of it, and doesn’t overcrowd it with too many things. He tends to it as the plants grow, weeding out the thorns and ensuring the good plants take root.

Good soil isn’t just happenstance, good soil is created by the effort of the farmer.

We don’t have to have good soil for the seeds in our life to begin to bear fruit, we can create good soil in our lives….

good soil|www.meaghanmorris.com

But we can’t do that if we don’t take care of it. Overworked mamas who are overwhelmed, and don’t get a break are depleting their soil of nutrients. If we do that, nothing can grow.

I want to offer my family the best of me, but in order to do that, I have to give myself permission to take care of me. I have to allow myself to realize that fulfilling my needs is just as vital to my family’s growth as everyone else’s needs.

What good am I if my soil can’t bear fruit?

So whatever it is that fills you up, whether its reading, writing, shopping alone, sleeping, crafting, hanging out with friends, studying the word, or catching up on your DVR – carve out time to do it. Let your family know its necessary, ask for help and plan to take care of yourself….

You need to come back and weed and water your soil, mama.

The Hardest Job

Did you know that May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month?

I bet you didn’t.

Because I didn’t either, until I became one of the many moms diagnosed with postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. In fact, in my own little world, where everything was chugging along just fine, it didn’t even cross my mind that there would be enough moms out there suffering for us to even need a month devoted to raising awareness!

But the sad truth is, there are.

being a mother is hard|meaghanmorris.com

Being a mom is, hands down, the hardest job that there is out there. You can try to argue with me on this, but I firmly believe this to be true. We are the ones who carry the baby, endure labor and give birth. We are the nourishment providers, snugglers and the ones who never seem to get enough sleep in the early months and years. We are the meal makers, grocery shoppers, boo boo healing, nightmare calming, alphabet teaching, tantrum dissolving, nurses who are running on empty in the toddler years. We are the question answering, carpooling, cheerleading, confidence boosting, heartbreak healing, homework helping, schedule keeping glue that holds the craziness together as we wade through adolescence. And then, when the time comes, we are the empty nesters, enjoying seeing our children take flight into adulthood, but secretly wishing deep down that we could start it all over again….

And somewhere in there, we are still meant to be us. And it can get lost. It can get lost in the months of pregnancy, lost in the first few months following birth or lost in the craziness and busyness of life as time seems to fly by.

But we shove it down. We have to keep it together. We have to keep on chugging along, because moms don’t get sick and moms definitely don’t get depressed.

Except when we do.

and then what?

Well…

to be honest, I don’t know exactly what will work for you. But I do know what won’t.

Keeping it in, pushing it away and not telling anyone what is really going on.

There is no shame in admitting that something is wrong. There is no weakness in asking for help. We need to let go of the facade, break down our walls and get real.

We can LOVE being a mom and still admit that its hard.

We can LOVE our children so much it hurts, and still need to take a break.

We can look around at our life and realize we have everything that we always thought we needed to be happy, and still realize that we have some work to do on ourselves to get there.

I want to share with you a song that helped me at my lowest. I mean, when literally everything seemed to be crashing down around me and I thought it was all coming to an end, this song spoke volumes to me. I would listen to it over and over again, letting the words wash over me and grasping at the truths that I knew were there but seemed just out of reach.

So click here, if you need encouragement.

“There is freedom in surrender, so lay it down and let it go…”

If you are going through a hard time right now, and feel like you might be suffering from depression, I encourage you to reach out to someone – your spouse, a friend, your doctor….

you can even email me!

But don’t suffer in silence. Don’t for a second think that you have to always keep it all together. Don’t forget, in the craziness that comes with raising a family, that YOU are just as important.

When the darkness creeps back in

Postpartum Depression | Meaghanmorris.com

There have been a lot of things in my life as a mom that no one told me about.

No one told me how hard it could be, no one told me how lonely it could be.

No one told me that your body could suddenly go out of whack and you could suddenly become so anxious and depressed that you were a completely different person for months….

No one told me that recovery could be so hard. That finding myself in the midst of this season could take so long. That setbacks would happen, even when I thought everything was back in its right place.

Not having full control of your mind is scary. It is the scariest thing I have ever experienced, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Intrusive thoughts, shaky hands and a fear you can’t even begin to describe.

I am better. Better than I was last week, last month and last year. But I still get panic attacks. I still suffer from anxiety so much sometimes it hurts. I still get angry, at times, that this is the path God designed for me to walk.

But He did. Relapse is a part of recovery. I get addicted to trying to “fix” myself, my situation, my illness. I am learning to let go. To allow the bad days, and learn how to realize that a bad day doesn’t make a bad me. I cannot be defined by my weakness.

When the darkness creeps back in, we have to remember that it only remains dark as long as we focus on it. We can choose to fight back, to shift our focus to the light and to slowly allow it to shine brighter.

Prayer. Friends. Support. Medication.

Whatever it takes, whatever path of recovery God has designed for you, use it.

But more importantly, learn from it. Allow the setbacks to help you grow. Decide to not let the weak parts of you win, but choose to let God shine through your weakness.

Own it. All of it. The good and the bad, the easy and the hard, the pretty and the ugly.

Because every single part of your story is beautiful, even if you can’t see it.