Mental health is not something you can switch on or off. It is not something you need one day and can put to rest the next. It's an easy concept isn't it? At the core I don't think it is. How many of us really feel like sharing our true feelings and vulnerability? How many of us priorities our feelings and emotions? My guess is that if a close friend, coworker, spouse or family member asks you in the morning "how are you?" It's likely that your reposes is good, fine or ok even if deep down inside you feel pretty sucky.
Know how I know that, because there are many a day where I put on a pretty tough outer shell to keep others on the outside. Heaven forbid I open up to what is really going on. These barriers need to drop in order for us to build relationships and show the mercy and grace of God. He has already paved a road for you and died on the cross for you. There should be no shame in your feelings and we should take the time to understand them.
I had thrown that understanding piece to the wayside as I had taken somewhat of a hiatus from my counselor as I thought life was too busy. A reminder to everyone that life is NEVER too busy to address your mental health and the factors that are contributing to it. These sessions have lead to a better understanding of who I am and how I tick.
I now can identify when the spiral is happening and what I need to do to get back. For example I am currently home on maternity leave and will have my phone nearby as I nurse. This has ultimately meant endless scrolling, for what sometimes could be 1.5 hours at a time (insert embarrassed emoji!). For myself this was not a healthy habit, creating guilt and a loud response from my inner critic. I needed a solution, a compromise that allowed me quiet time with my baby but was not consumed with endless guilt. My solution has been to turn on a podcast or audio book. Less guilt and more meaningful snuggles for 1.5 hours.
There are so many times that I also look to myself for answers when really I should be looking to God. My counselor is always quick to remind me of that. He has paved the road for all of us. He knows our faults and strengths. He knows when to catch us and when to let us fall. I am forever grateful for a counselor who is sure to include my faith journey in our sessions. The true reason for my mental healing is centering my life around the Lord and what he desires for me in each day. My prayer for you friends is that you take time to asses your mental health and to reach out to someone if you need to visit. Mental health is important, YOU are important.
1. What’s for supper: Beef stew in the pressure cooker and homemade buttermilk biscuits from the Magnolia Table cookbook.
2. What am I listening to: I just discovered the podcast "The Lazy Genius" and I am loving it. Most episodes are right around 20 minutes and it is packed with little hacks for your family.
3. Scripture of the week: "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you." Isaiah 43:2
4. Aha Moment: As I was listening to this podcast while on the road the theme was being the girl for the job. How true is that?! God made us for a specific purpose and job. I can't be the only one who struggles to remember that, am I right? The book centered on this theme is getting added to my reading list. ASAP.
5. What my children are teaching me: To enjoy the small moments. I am astonished at how well little ones remember details. I had frozen cupcakes from a birthday and took them out to eat the other day. One of the kids asked whose birthday they were from and our oldest knew right away that it was her sister's Minnie Mouse cake and not the airplane cake of her brother. Both birthdays were celebrated at the same time and even were decorated very similar. I the person who made the cakes couldn't remember that.
6. From the Mouth of Babes: "I just tooted in my pants" - M. Lacey
7. Drink of Choice: Cafe Miel
8. Most despised chore: Sweeping dog hair...need I say more?
9. Reading: Discerning the Voice of God: How to Recognize When God is Speaking by Priscilla Shirer
10. Prayer: Lord, be with me at all times. Do not let the fire consume me, but rather teach me to be more like you. Amen.
We entered a new season as a family in the last several weeks as we grew by another family member. What a joyful season to remember the grace, glory and newness of our Lord. I would be lying if I told you it was all of that and no hard moments. School started, harvest has started and adjusting to a newborn in the house again has turned our world or maybe just mine upside down.
A season for rest and refreshment feels like exhaustment, which I guess means I make up new words like exhaustement. I don't find myself in the word as much but this morning I was reading a daily devotion and it said to blow off the small things. I should release them and look back to the Lord. How fitting for the current season. Supper is on the table a half hour later then it should be, release it. The kids haven't been bathed in three nights, release it. This is the same concept I visited with my counselor about on Wednesday. These thoughts should not own space in my mind. Release them quickly and return to the Lord.
My counselor and I even talked about naming that little negative nelly (who really is Satan) in my head so I can tell her to take a hike. My days are starting to sound like "Susan, the kids will still grow if supper isn't on time" or "Susan, I just had a baby it is ok to take a nap." A practice that will defiantly take practice. The biggest lie Susan tells me is that I am not adequate for this season, a season that is only a glimpse in time. The only way I know how to overcome this is to turn towards the Lord. To be vulnerable and open with those around me.
My prayer for you and me is to find patience in the current season. To remove the negative thoughts that Satan sends our way, don't let them hold space. Move on.
I have now rewrote this starting line five different ways and none of them seem to suffice. I think it is time just to write and move on. Any of you readers know the enneagram? Any guesses based on my first statement what number I am?
Clearly a one, often referred to as the perfectionist. As I typed the word perfectionist I was reminded how hard I am on myself and those around me with little grace for error. Think the Lord placed the word dependence on my heart in 2019 for a reason?!
I am going to circle back to January 1st to better hone in on this. My 2019 word of the year came to me a little different than it has in the past, this time it was in the form of a positive pregnancy test. A test that seemed to say, you have another chance. A chance from the Lord that looks past my insecurities, past my perceived inability to parent as I moved through post partum depression with our third child. I felt so inadequate during those dark days. This test not only told us about the gift of new life, but it also said here is another chance at dependence on the Lord’s plan. His plan was cemented in my memory even more that day as I shared the news with my husband. I will never forget the joy and smile on his face. His tight embrace followed by a warm kiss. A sign that God has much greater plans for us, sometimes somewhat unexpected plans.
These “unexpected” plans can make us squirm and feel the willies, but if we aren’t having these feelings are we truly dependent on the Lord? In the uncomfortable is where growth and change happens. Where the pruning happens. The Lord is stepping in and saying yes or no for us if we stop, listen and give it all to him. A reminder I have to pray over daily. So today friends my prayer is this, that the Lord may place his hand upon you as you step into the uncomfortable. That he may grant you grace and understanding when the going is tough and when it is easy.
Several nights ago I dug out a study that I had started over a year ago. It is a six week study and by quick glance I had completed through week four. Rather than pick up there I figured it was best to just begin again. As I began to read the teachings and practices the study came back to mind.
Like many other studies there are places to jot notes and answer questions. I read the prompts, spent some time in reflection and began to write. I then read my responses from over a year ago. It was a true reminder of the work that God and the Holy Spirit have been doing in my life.
So many of the old statements and answers were filled with "I' and "me." Clearly I had learning to do and still do. I am floored at how God has worked in one year in my life. How a clearer dependence on him has opened my eyes and has started to change how I pray and talk to God.
Today my prayer is that he continues to journey alongside me to help guide my path as I know he already has it all planned out. True dependence is knowing that the journey can be long, painful and drawn out with a short period of living out what we have learned. The process can also be smooth without hiccups as we navigate the doors he opens and closes. True dependence is knowing that he has us in the palm of his hand, that he is the one who provides for us through his deep love and sacrifice.
Today friends find peace knowing that if we depend on him he will guide us through life's trials and joys.
Those of you following along for the last year know that 2018 was a year of growth. There were many dark days battling post partum depression. When God laid the word deliverance on my heart early on in January 2018 I was mortified. The word seemed daunting. Little did I know that He would bring some wonderful people into my life that helped me fight even harder for the life he has given me. My close family and friends stuck by and crusaded with me. Bless their hearts and souls. I don’t feel as though the post partum depression is gone, but I have found ways to manage the stress, anxiety and darkness.
As I moved in 2019 a new word of the year wasn’t coming to mind. It wasn’t like last year when I opened the bible and it said “Prayer of Deliverance.” Looking back the last several months have sparked possible new opportunities at work as well as in our personal lives (more on that later), which led me to thinking how reliance on him in 2018 helped deliver me from pain and darkness. To continue with that theme my word for 2019 is (drumroll please)…
How often in my days do I make quick decisions without a prayer or asking God for help? The dependence on him in the last year to open and close doors as he sees fit got me to where I am today. That took dependence. The pain and suffering. Dependence. The joy followed by sorrow. Dependence.
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character and character produces hope.” Romans 5:3 ESV
I'd love to hear your word of the year if you have one. This has been such a good an grounding practice for me. A word to focus on for the year and to pray over.
God's blessing in the new year,
The weeks long slump of not looking at the word is in full swing. Really during Advent I should be delving into the word, reflecting on the sin in my life and preparing for the Lord's coming. Instead I am scrolling Instagram and hoping God will just show me the way. You and I both know that is not how this works. It takes work to be a follower of God and yes at times we may get into a slump. It is not different than a slump in exercise, meal planning, or managing schedules. I slump in all of those ares simultaneously most days.
Do you want to know the mental difference in my slumps from a year ago? I don't feel nearly as guilty. Through my work with my wonderful counselor at Valley Christian Counseling we have been talking through this guilt and need for perfection. It is ok to get into slumps. The mindset behind the slumps has changed. As I start planning for the week I have started to use the word "could" vs "should." I don't feel nearly as guilty when I don't accomplish something that I could have done versus should have done.
Every day and every week is a new opportunity to overcome the slumps that may consume our lives. The final days of advent will be spent in reflection for me while dreaming of the future with God at the forefront.
Each night we all lay our heads down for rest. Rest that is essential for each new day. I never knew how important rest was to me until I was sitting with a close friend. A friend that opened a door while helping me refocus on the Lord.
The last two months have brought me more sleep, which means more time. Isn't that funny? More rest = more time. My house is a pig pen, my floors are dirty, the windows have slobber marks from the dog, but joy. Less yelling, more happy.
I have more time in the word and more time in prayer. Each day can be filled with joy if in the moments of rest and in the moments of despair we thank Him for what he has provided. Today I am thankful for the gift of rest. The ability to rest even when the world keeps moving at a mile a minute. Perspective and God. We can change one if we believe in the other. Rest in Him.
The last several days have brought anxiousness and fear for the unknown as our family reached a day that would need immense prayer. In each moment of unrest I have tried to release and give these thoughts to the Lord. I know that he will carry them for me as I need.
When life is a whirlwind and we have fear for the future that fear will consume you. That is what I was feeling. I was feeling unrest, worry and anxiousness. Difficulty sleeping and lack of focus. Last night I prayed and read in my devotional before putting myself to bed at 8:00. The first five hours of sleep were solid, followed by three of tossing and turning.
Little did I know that when my alarm would go off at 4:45 I would have a calming sense of peace wash over me. No fear for the day or what was ahead in it. I knew that God had today in his hands. I recently read in a devotional that he gives us the exact amount of strength we need for each day. How fitting. How correct. The peace was and is part of his plan. He knew what I needed today. A true sign that even in what we think are our dark moments he is there to help carry the weight. He is always good and it is always well in him.
Tears stream down my face as I sit and write this in a coffee shop. I feel broken today, broken to the core. Counseling today was hard. Very hard. A time to sit and visit about the last month. The feeling that I am failing as a mom and wife and at my career. The feeling that I am surely messing my kids up to the core. Especially my first born. Putting my high expectations of myself onto her.
Each morning we run the mad race to get out of the house. Every morning I remind the kids ten times to put on their shoes. Three out of five days I am the last one out of the house because I just had to have a chai tea or a smoothie. When we are late on these days the blame goes to the kids does it not? Well in my life it does. It's funny because I say "You know if you would have put your boots on the first time I asked we wouldn't be late." The moment it comes out I know I'm blaming the wrong person. Really I shouldn't be blaming myself or the kids. This is our life and at times we are going to be tardy.
The reality, I am always to work by ten to eight. I can't remember the last time I walked through the door after eight unless it was scheduled. Why do we not give ourselves any grace? I give myself zero. The fear of disappointing others creeps in. The fear of not living up to someone's expectations takes over. Fear rules my life on a far to regular basis.
Fear of failure is ok. Failure itself is ok. Taking a leap and failing is ok. Failure is growth. If a goal or dream is realized to simply and with ease was it a God sized or Kingdom driven dream? Romans 5 tells us that grace will be obtained through suffering which I relate to failure:
"Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our heart through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."
Romans 5:2-5 ESV
Shoot you guys, how much hope does that chunk of scripture give us? Even through trials, failure, and blaming others he is preparing us for more. He is pruning us and creating more God like character within us if we are willing to accept the challenge.
As I reflect on today I know I will be listening to this podcast on dreaming and this podcast on pruning for the umpteenth times. My prayer for you (and myself) will be that fear does not consume you but rather propels you to have God sized dreams. Through these dreams may he protect you while helping you grow.
I'm Lisa, a farm wife turned city slicker. A child of God, wife and mother. I'm a dreamer relying on God's grace to get me through.