Friday, October 13, 2017

The Fog is Lifting

There's a mountain between Waynesboro and Charlottesville. I've driven over it a number of times. It's actually an interesting part of a very boring drive. However, sometimes that mountain is covered in fog. There are signs and reflective beacons and lights all along the route. In the middle of the day it can seem excessive, but early morning or late night drives, you really appreciate them.

When you're driving over that mountain in the fog you can barely see what's in front of you. If you are lucky, there is another vehicle in front of you that gives you a little more of an idea where the road is going. If not, you just have to have blind faith, go slowly, and trust that you will make it over that mountain.

I was reflecting on that fog one morning last week when we had a bit of very minor fog on the drive to drop Frances off for school. Most of that fog was over in the field beyond the road I needed to drive on. I knew where I was and I knew where I was going, but the entire view didn't look as familiar to me.

It was during that morning drive that I realized that my fog seems to be lifting. I honestly wouldn't have even described it as a fog until just recently. I've been going through life, aimed in (mostly) the right direction and simply plowing along, going slowly, and having faith that I was going to make it.

I did some research on post-partum depression. I've never been diagnosed with it before, but a stray comment from a friend got me thinking. My miscarriage was 17 months ago.That fits within the time frame. I am now at a point where life seems to be less fuzzy. While I've been wading through the fog, I had forgotten how some familiar things looked and felt.


Everyone who has experienced miscarriage has had a unique experience, though there are some similarities. My family and I have grieved this child. We still talk about "Lucky" and Ben still hugs my bear. I often wonder how life would be different with a 10 month old around. Would the kids be big helpers with a baby around? We'll never know the answers to those questions. I try in my mind to be realistic about things. I don't want to candy coat what life would have been. I know us to know well enough that I would still be overwhelmed with things to do. There would still be piles of laundry (likely bigger ones), the kids would help out on occasion, but they weren't going to change into different people themselves just with an addition to the family.

I've accepted that life is different now. How we view life has been altered in big ways in little ways. Our family has gone through a crisis and come out on the other side. I've spent a lot of the last 17 months wondering if the way I felt was just my new normal or is there was something going on. I'm coming to realize that it was something else. I am experience joy and silliness again. I am feeling hope and safety. I don't want to jinx myself, but the severe anxiety I had been feeling is lessening. Life seems a little easier to deal with lately.

It doesn't mean I've forgotten. Maybe it just means I've accepted things. I expect that I'll always feel like a part of our family is missing, but it's less overwhelming lately.

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. Since going through my own miscarriage I have come to know about many other women who have experienced one as well. It is talked about more openly now, but many women still feel alone in this experience.

Personally, I still feel a mix of sadness and relief. Sadness because I really would have welcomed a new baby into our family, but relief that we didn't have to start completely over again. I've felt a lot of guilt over that, and I honestly struggled to even write it here. I'm sure there are some who will judge me, but I also know that there might be a few who need to see that someone else has felt the same way. I don't mind being judged if someone else can take comfort that they are not alone.

As we remember those babies lost too soon and those we never even go to meet, please reach out to check on a woman you know has been affected. Men too, as I know fathers grieve these losses as well. If you have had a miscarriage or lost an infant, my prayers are with you. If you need to talk, I'm here.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Gratitude Journaling

Sometimes life seems to get out of control. In recent weeks we've had natural and man-made disasters aplenty. It gets hard to watch the news or listen to the radio. I've had a number of friends announce breaks from social media because things just seem too heavy to deal with. I get that. I've felt that way myself.

When things seem especially dark for me, I force myself to look around for the light. The good in our world really does outweigh the bad, even if the bad seems to get all the press. Science has even proven that purposefully cultivating a positive outlook can do wonders for your mental health.

One way to help develop positivity is to keep a gratitude journal. Now, you know that I love a good craft project, but I believe so firmly in this concept that I am determined that you will not Pin this on Pinterest and never look at it again!

SO...For this project all you need is a writing implement and a writing surface. You can use the notes app on your phone. You can use a stack of post-its and a pen from under the couch cushions. You can use a spare napkin from the glove compartment and write using a ketchup packet for all I care; just try this! Do it for a week and see how your life will be affected!

I got out my Sunday School notebook and some duct tape. I only decorated it because I needed a pretty picture for my blog post.

Each day take some time to reflect and write down three things that you are grateful for. Some days you are going to be grateful for some really life-altering things. Some days you are going to be grateful that you stepped in the dog poop right as you were coming home instead of when you were leaving the house in the morning (late for something, of course). Your gratefulness does not need to be profound. Most of the time it really isn't. Just train your brain to look for the good in your world and soon that's what your brain will start to find automatically.

We aren't going to stop natural disasters, or terrorism, or even kid meltdowns in the middle of the grocery store. That's not the goal of this exercise. Our goal is to find joy and gratitude in our lives despite natural disasters, terrorists, and meltdowns in the grocery store.

For the record, lately I've been grateful for:
  • the fact that the house was mostly clean before the landlords gave me two day's notice to clear out half the basement so they could fix some leak issues we've been having. Things got cluttered really quickly when I had to bring a bunch of stuff upstairs, but at least it was only one mess, instead of a mess on top of another mess.
  • the fact that I finally caught up on all the laundry...two days before 2/3 of the kids had lice discovered...while the washing machine was out of commission because of the basement work.
  • being able to afford a trip to the laundromat, as well having that be a rare occurrence because normally we are fortunate enough to be able to do laundry in our own home.
  • being able to help a friend who had a mini crisis. I'm finally in a place with my mental health that I could reach out and be useful to someone else who was in need.

Have you ever kept a gratitude journal? Can you vouch for me that it really does improve your outlook on life? Or will you give it a try and just see what happens?

Our Blog with Friends group had a different theme originally. And yet again, world circumstances made a change seem prudent. For October, our theme is Reflection. Head over and see what other things we've been reflecting on!

 Karen of Baking in a Tornado has Sriracha Chipotle Ranch Chicken Nachos. These can be prepped ahead and make a great dinner, snack, or tailgate food.

Dawn of Spatulas on Parade has Brussel Sprout Stir Fry with Spicy Nut/Seed Mix. It's a great side dish for just about any meal!

 Kia of Think in English brings 10 Reasons why Teaching ESL/EFL is the Best Job in the World.


And Lydia of Cluttered Genius reflected on identifying your kids' strengths because all kids are different and they are all good at different things.



Friday, October 6, 2017

Jeremy Camp "The Answer" Review

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Do you have questions? I know my kids do!! Most frequently they are questions like, "Where are my shoes?" "Did you sign my homework?" "What's for dinner?" "Can I eat something else?"

Ben's favorite question is "Do I hafta eat this?" I don't know how we ended up with such a picky kid. The other two went through some stages, but Ben has settled down in a PBJ-loving zone and is not inclined to move. Last night he was upset because I used the butter knife to spread his peanut butter and that made the sandwich inedible. Ken told him that peanut butter is made with butter. "That's why it's got 'butter' in the name."  Then Ben picked up the jar of peanut butter and started reading the ingredients. LOL! We both almost lost it at that point. He's too smart for his own good. For the record, Ken managed to point out that butter is made with oil and salt, and so is peanut butter. Ben finished the sandwich.

We've got some other questions too, though. One morning Frances asked why Henry had yelled at her about something that seemed pretty minor. The answer involved an explanation of the stress Henry has been under before reporting a school issue. In trying to deal with things himself, I'm pretty sure his poor brain was so fried by the time he got home that blinking in his general direction would have set him off.  That was the main answer, but the other answer was simply "grace." As in, Henry is dealing with something kinda tough right now. We're working on it and he's gonna be okay, but right now he needs grace.

Henry's good at asking questions. A few weeks ago, as we were driving home from somewhere, he asked me, "Mommy, was God born? How did He get to be? Was He always just there?" Well, dang! That's a heavy question for a nice drive around town!! I answered the best I could, and explained that with faith you will always get to a point where you can't just explain something. That's the whole point of faith. You just have to believe it in your heart.


Jeremy Camp's new album "The Answer" has been getting some major play time in my van lately. The title song may not give answers to questions about how peanut butter is made or why some kids are bullies, but it gives a great answer to many of life's deeper issues.

On second though, when I'm frazzled at the fourth dinner in a row that my some has refused, I need Jesus. And when my kids are getting picked on and stressed out, I remind them that they need Jesus (and so do those bullies). When we start to ponder the intricacies of creation or appreciate the beauty of the world around us, well, Jesus is a pretty good answer there too.

This is a great album. It's quality music that will remind you throughout the day that Jesus is the answer, that you are greatly loved, and that we are called to share this love with those who we come into contact with throughout the day.


JEREMY CAMP “THE ANSWER”
Buy-link: http://capcmg.me/TheAnswer?IQid=flyby

Social Corner:
Word Of Life Music Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrX2tGgADu0
Word Of Life Song Story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGuxZC7Ncn4
The Answer Music Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQHXJi1EhDM

Enter to win your own copy below!

Jeremy Camp "The Answer" CD

Head versus Heart

I typically to take a long time to make decisions. I explain it to myself as procrastination with a hint of extreme thoughtfulness. After all, you're supposed to weigh the pros and cons of a decision before making it, right? Make a chart and start listing your thoughts in either the "pro" column or the "con" column and then...ummm..I'm not sure what you do next. I've never actually gotten that far.

Most decisions I make seem to be based on what "feels right." In fact, on all the personality tests I've taken I score very high on the feeling scale versus the thinking scale. That doesn't mean I'm not thinking about pros and cons and logic when I make decisions. It just means that I give my heart more weight than my brain.

The consequence of this is that when you ask me to explain a decision I can sometimes have a hard time getting out words that make sense. "It just seemed right." doesn't always cut it, even if that's the most honest answer. And "because" can seem rude or dismissive when I really don't intend that.

There are lots of decisions that I talk out in front of other people like my husband, my parents, or a friend. Often these are pretty one-way conversations with me really just thinking out loud. I've got good people in my life who can ask good questions to help me ferret out the core of a problem or decision, but more often that not I end up going with what felt right in the beginning.

I know plenty of people who make decisions pretty rationally. They make the charts. They run the numbers. They have concrete data to back up their decisions. If that works for you, great! I'm happy for you. I don't necessarily understand it, but I'm happy if you're happy.

How about you? Logic or emotion? Brains or heart? How do you make your decisions??


Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 11 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is: Are you the type of person who makes decisions based on logic or emotion? It was submitted by: http://batteredhope.blogspot.com
 
Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado
Cognitive Script
The Blogging 911
The Bergham Chronicles
Southern Belle Charm
Bookworm in the Kitchen
Never Ever Give Up Hope 
TaylorLife
Sparkly Poetic Weirdo 
Climaxed
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