Ignorance

I am ignorant – I mean embarrassingly ignorant – of current events. Ask me about something that’s going on in the world and chances are I can’t tell you much. Even things I care deeply about, I don’t tend to follow in the news much. I’m too busy, I don’t like watching the news, I don’t get online very often… I could give all sorts of (mostly untrue) excuses. But the truth is that I just don’t follow current events very closely.

Does this make me ignorant? In many ways, yes. Does it make me a bad adult? Probably. Is it going to change? Probably not. I’ve tried many times over to become, and stay, better informed – I guess I’m just not attentive enough.

There are many people who would look down their noses at me and admonish that I need to get it together. I’m sure there are also many people who would find it ridiculous that an almost thirty-year-old doesn’t know what’s going on in the world.

But here’s the truth:

1. I do know a little about current events, and

2. I know Who wins in the end.

That second point, that’s the bottom line. I know Who wins. I know Who prevails over all of the disasters and struggles and politics and trials.

I know in Whom my hope lies.

So, should I follow the news more closely, become more educated? Of course. That is a continuous goal of mine. But regardless of if I’m ignorant about worldly things, I know the things that are the most important. I know Jesus and I know the gospel. And I will continue to find hope in the fact that Jesus Christ prevails. Because if you don’t have that hope in this messed up and fallen world, what do you have?

Joy Comes in the Morning

This post has not been easy to write, and I went back and forth about whether I’d actually share it. But, although the subject isn’t easy for me to talk about, I think it’s important for me to be open and for others to know that they’re not alone.

If you read my last post, you know that I have been dealing with some postpartum depression. The truth is that I have struggled with depression to one degree or another since high school. Some times in life have been so difficult, and other times I can pretty much forget that I have struggled at all.

I used to be ashamed that I had depression, especially in high school and college. I have pretty much kept it quiet and not many people knew except for my family and a few close friends. The more I think about it now, though, the more I realize that it’s important to be open about it. First, it helps me feel less alone and reminds me that I don’t need to be ashamed. Second, who knows who I could help simply by talking about what I’ve been through?

I think depression is different for everyone who experiences it, and I can’t claim to know how others feel. For me, it’s a pervasive feeling that can sometimes fade to the background and sometimes be so overwhelming that I struggle to get out of bed. I took antidepressants for many years which helped me to feel better. However, when I started growing closer to God, I started questioning whether I was putting too much faith in medicine and not enough faith in the true Healer. I weaned off of the medication and, for the most part, did just fine.

When I got pregnant, my husband and I talked about the possibility of postpartum depression (PPD). He was pretty convinced that I would end up with it, and he was right (yes, I said it). After my little girl was born, I was so emotional that it was hard to tell if it was just hormones – baby blues, as it’s called – or something more. But as the weeks went on, it didn’t get any better. I stopped crying all the time, but I still just felt so down. I felt like I was worthless and drowning, and I felt so incredibly guilty about feeling that way because my little girl (and my husband!) didn’t deserve it. But as hard as I tried and as much as I prayed, it didn’t get better.

At my six-week checkup, the doctor asked me how I was doing and I just started crying. I told him that I had really been struggling. He asked if I’d had a history with depression and told me that this makes it so much more likely to end up with PPD. He was quick to explain that there is PPD that is more like “regular” depression, and there’s PPD that involves having weird/scary thoughts and ideas. I have the former.

My doctor then suggested that I use antidepressants. At this point I had been thinking for a while about asking for medication, and my husband and I had talked – and prayed – a lot about it. He wanted to make sure I wasn’t relying on the medicine too much and on God too little. My husband’s doubts prompted me to ask myself – had I been praying enough about this? Had I truly handed it over to God to take care of?

Because I could respond “yes” to these questions, I felt okay telling my doctor that I wanted the medication. If I had not been able to say “yes” to both questions, I don’t think I would have have been at a point where medication could even help.

It has been over a month now that I’ve been taking medication for PPD, and I do feel like it’s helping. However, I also firmly believe that it is helping because of God – because I have put my faith in Him to heal me. Some days are still really hard. Most of the time it gets better once I get up and doing things. It seems to get a lot better once I open my Bible and read (funny how that works). I have also found that if I’m open about it, especially with my husband, and if I pray and put it in God’s hands, those hard days are so bearable.

For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for life;
Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

Psalm 30:5, 11-12 NKJV

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Expectation Versus Reality 

There’s a fad all over the internet right now of “expectation versus reality.” There are tons of memes and YouTube videos with funny takes on the whole expectation vs reality concept. It generally works like this: the expectation is something wonderful or perfect, and the reality is a far cry from that. The relatable thing about “expectation vs reality” is that they’re often true, and make you feel like you’re not the only one who feels the way you do. Here’s an example:

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Becoming a mom was like this for me. The difference though, is that the reality turned out to be both harder and much more beautiful than I could ever have expected.

When I got pregnant (and long before that), I daydreamed of having a baby. I had all these lofty ideas about snuggling my little one, playing with her, and dressing her in adorable outfits. I just knew if would be the best time of my life.

Now, don’t get me wrong, all of those things are true. I love snuggling my little girl and watching her smile when we play. And she has some adorable little outfits! But here’s the reality: being a mom is hard! That was never part of my expectation. Yeah, people warned me that I would lose sleep and things would be tough, but I was not prepared for how difficult it really is.

It starts the moment your baby is born. Suddenly, a huge piece of your heart is living outside of you, and all you want to do is protect it. It’s a feeling beyond words – the love and the worry rolled into one as you stare at this perfect little baby.

On top of the worry come the hormones, which for me were almost unbearable. I would just cry and cry and then feel so guilty because I felt like that. I guess the “baby blues” are common, but for me it was more than that. I ended up having to get medication for postpartum depression (a story for a different day), which has helped immensely.

My expectations about being a mom never included all of the trials – the utter lack of sleep, fighting with my husband about what to do or just because I was exhausted, or not showering or brushing my hair for several days just because I’d rather sleep when I could.

But here’s the flip side – the reality is not only more difficult, but so much more amazing than any of my expectations ever prepared me for. Despite all of the struggles and sleepless nights, I look down at this beautiful baby girl and am filled with so much awe and love that my heart just might burst. Seeing her smile for the first time, holding her as she sleeps, watching my husband interact with her, and cuddling her in the middle of the night – nothing could have prepared me for how incredible these moments are. I thank God multiple times a day for this time and for this precious miracle he has given me. And let me tell you, the reality is turning out to be so much better than the expectation!

 

“For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition which I asked of Him.”

‭‭I Samuel‬ ‭1:27‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Seek Ye First

IMG_0564“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:33‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

This my “life verse.” I hesitate to say that it is my favorite, because my favorite verse typically tends to be whatever is speaking to me at that particular time. But this verse has been rattling around in my brain for years. It goes on in verse 34 to say, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

I am a worrier. I worry about anything and everything I could possibly worry about. I worry about my family, about my dog, about finances, about my faith. I worry about not being good enough, or doing things wrong. I worry about having a clean house and about what is going on in the world.  I worry about big, significant things and about little, stupid things.

For a long time I felt ashamed because of my worry. Someone once told me if you worry about things, it means you aren’t trusting God. Philippians 4:6 even says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” So I would pretend I wasn’t worried, that everything was fine and I was the model of perfect faith.

But the fact is , that’s just not true. I still feel anxious about many things. And I’ve learned that having faith isn’t about not worrying. It’s about learning to praise God through the worry, and constantly praying and giving those worries up to Him.

I continue to worry, maybe now more than ever because of my sweet little girl, the way the world is going these days, and various other factors in my life. But I also feel so much more peace, because I know that despite my worry God is in control. He has things figured out, and has planned a far better outcome than I could ever imagine. I have to work every day to lay down my anxieties at the foot of the cross, and I often pick them back up and have to lay them down again. It’s something that I struggle with, but I know that God is working with me and that through my worry He is showing me His strength.

Seeking the kingdom of God first isn’t easy. Some days it’s really hard. But I continually try (and fail) and try again, because in the end, what else is there?

Are you a Mary or a Martha?

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:38-42

I’m a Martha by nature. I have an unending need to have things just so. Everything put away. Laundry clean and folded. Dishes done. Floor swept or vacuumed. I used to think that this was one of my best traits. After all, who doesn’t love a clean house? At work, everything was organized perfectly and my desk was spotless. What a great employee I must have been!

After getting married, my outlook started to change a little. Which was more important, mopping the kitchen or spending time with my husband? I’m ashamed to say that I usually chose the former. I still struggle with this, a lot. I joke that I have OCD, but truly I am maybe just a little anal particular about things.

Flash forward to my daughter being born. Those first few weeks, as I’m sure all moms can attest, I barely seemed to be able to take a shower. Suddenly, cleaning the house just wasn’t an option, let alone a priority. And guess what? We all survived. Life went on. And I found that spending time with my little girl, and my husband, was much more rewarding than having a spotless house.

Isn’t this how we are with God? We find ways to circumvent spending time with Him. Yeah, I need to read my bible, but I’d better clean up this table first so I have a nice place to take notes or If I quickly check Facebook before I start, I can find a bible verse to post while I’m reading or I will set aside time to pray tonight when I have everything done and it’s not so hectic; I just don’t have time now. We think things like this, but what we’re really saying is, I have more important things to do than spend time with God or I will be a better Christian if I do [insert task here].

Aren’t we all guilty of this at one time or another? Even now, while I’m at home with my daughter during the day, I find myself filling the time while she naps with housework instead of prayer. I sometimes have to force myself to stop and read my bible instead. Because which is more important, having a clean house or improving my relationship with God?

Satan will attack wherever he sees an opportunity. He will get in your head and convince you that it’s okay to do this and that and this other thing first. Before you know, it you haven’t read your bible or prayed in days – you were just too “busy.” He will convince you this is okay, because look at how wonderful your house looks! He will take whatever is important to you (for me, obviously, having a clean house) and twist it into something that keeps you away from God. Don’t let him! We have to continually to choose to make time for things that bring us closer to God. We have to consciously choose to be a Mary instead of a Martha.

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I will follow

Yesterday I quit my job. Without having a backup. Without knowing exactly what I will do. Without having a real plan.

Yesterday I quit my job, because I prayed and prayed and prayed about it and I know that’s what I’m supposed to do. I need to be a stay-at-home mom for my little girl. She is almost two months old, and I cannot imagine leaving her at daycare to go back to work. During the past two months, I have thought about what that would be like. What would it be like to have someone else raising my daughter five days per week, seven hours per day? What would it be like for her to walk her first steps or say her first words when I’m not around? I couldn’t stomach it. I would literally look at her and cry just thinking about it. So I knew I had to figure something out. (If you are a working mom, please do not take offense to this. I know that there are many women who choose to or have to work, and their children flourish.) So I prayed and thought and talked to my husband and prayed some more. And at around four in the morning, I had my answer. I knew God was telling me to stay home.

Yesterday I quit my job, and it’s kind of scary. Let’s be honest, having faith that God will provide is more easily said than done. We aren’t rich. We may have to live paycheck to paycheck for a while. But following God is not easy.

I was listening to a podcast this morning by Dr. Charles Stanley. In it he talked about how we have to be committed to following God. We have to step out and trust that God knows what he’s doing. Think about Abraham. God told him to go and sacrifice his own son, and he went. He didn’t think twice, because he trusted what God was telling him. Dr. Stanley pointed out something I had never before noticed: Abraham says “we” when he tells his servants of  returning.

He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” (Genesis 22:5 NIV).

Abraham had faith that God would take care of things, and believed that Isaac would come back with him even when it seemed impossible. He was committed to what God told him to do and was counted faithful because of this.

Oh, if I could have faith like that. I try, really I do. But it’s also something I have to consciously work on. I think it’s that way for a lot of people – we know in our heads that God’s plan is right, and that He is taking care of us, but do we really believe it in our hearts? It’s a really difficult concept to grasp and hold onto and truly believe. At least, for me it is.

So, how do I work on this? I pray. I talk to my husband. I try to read my Bible more. And I quit my job. Because in the end, being committed to God means being willing to follow Him even when it’s scary.
Dr. Charles Stanley Podcast