Surviving hard days…

So, I’ve been trying to brainstorm ideas of “fun” things for my kids to do while I am just barely hanging on by a thread. To gain entrance into the “survival folder” of ideas, they must be:
1) LOW maintenance on mom,
2) independent for the kids to do,
3) FUN for the kids, I want it to actually take up some time! and
4) fairly simply clean-up, preferably cleaned up by the children. 🙂

One blessing that I have encountered is that school in the mornings doesn’t stress me out. That is actually probably the most enjoyable part of my day. I really do enjoy doing school with my kids. I can’t explain it except to say it is all grace. I’m so thankful!

However, after school or anytime “other than” school time the kids have been pretty much running wild or driving me wild. 🙂 So, the other day I had the bright idea to find some very low-maitenance, but fun, ideas to pull out here and there to keep us sane. I do realize I am a bit blessed in the fact that my kids are *generally* pretty independent and can play without me for awhile. I don’t have any in the “baby” stage anymore, which probably makes some things on my list impossible for those of you with wee ones. But, maybe some of these ideas will spark some creativity for those of you who might be needing it!

Yesterday, on the way home from Bible study we stopped at a local park. It has been raining for days, weeks…it was so nice to be able to let them play outside! I actually took my Bible, my Bible study workbook and sat and READ while they played for over an hour! Bliss! Fun for them, low-stress for me!

Today we played with playdough. When I say “we” I mean my children! I bought a few new packs in a few bright, new colors and they were thrilled!

So, what are some creative ideas that you have that we could add to the “survival folder” of ideas? Share your creativity, please!!

*playdough

*playground (I do want to add here, that on some days it is beyond my ability to even get them all dressed, out the door and TO the park…so on some really bad days, the park may not even be an option, but on the days that aren’t quite as bad, the park is a good option!)

*watercolor trays and paper. No assigned picture to paint, no art lesson, just free painting.

*forts/clubs – my kids have been making what I call forts, they call “clubs” for days, weeks, months now. They are ALL into this. They take every known pillow to man, bring it into said room of the day, start building and stretching blankets on top to make a fort/club. They love this! I do not love the mess, but it is keeping them happy and I have a feeling they are making memories. That is my goal for right now! I don’t want them only remembering crazy, looney, crying mama all the time!

*any *new* craft item or kit. We have lots of craft items available to our kids, but if I pick up a cheap craft kit at Hobby Lobby or such, they can go to town with something new and it will hold their attention

*fun, exciting read-alouds (this might work for your family, my kids aren’t big on chapter books yet, but if you have a really FUN or FUNNY one that we could try, let me know!)

*get a big cardboard box and let them color or paint on it all day…that will probably turn into a fort/club as well!

So, I need more ideas…what do you think??

9 years ago…

9 years ago today, I was a young, naive and teary eyed girl walking down the aisle on a bright Saturday morning. 9 years ago today, I was thankful for the man God had given me…and I am even more grateful for him today.

9 years have brought a lot our way…as they probably have with most families. Finding out a baby is on the way within 6 months of marriage, then 2 more children to follow…all in 3 years time. Learning about how depression can rock your world, job changes, huge church changes (huge for us,) losing friends, huge family “traumas” on both sides of the family, homeschooling…but I would not change a thing. As hard as some of these times have been, I’m so thankful for the growth God has given us in our marriage and individually throughout the hard times and the good. You and I have learned quickly, through the difficult circumstances in both of our parents marriages, that we have to WORK at this thing called marriage. Neither of us came into it prepared, but both of us have fought with all we have in us to not only save the marriage God gave us but make it better.

You have been my rock. You don’t give yourself credit for all you have been for me…but it is true. When we got married you thought you were marrying a fun, organized, very “together” kind of gal. That is not at all what I have turned out to be! You have learned with me through my times of depression. You haven’t known what to say to me…but knowing you are there and that you aren’t leaving has been enough encouragement for me. We married “for better or for worse” and you definitely have been through “the worse” part with me…and have stood beside me without fail. You have been such a servant to me, when all I could do is lay in the bed and cry. Not many men would have put up with a basket case like me! 🙂 But, I am so thankful for you. Words aren’t really adequate for how grateful I am that God gave you to me.

We often talk of the things we’d like to do in 15 years or so when it’s “just” you and me. While it makes my heart grow sad thinking about *this* stage of our lives being over, with little ones in the house, I look forward with anticipation the years to come. Having seen how God can bring beauty from ashes in our own lives, I know He has much in store for us down the road. And I can’t wait to share that with you. Thank you for loving me.

 

My Rock

The Lord has continually, over the past week or so, been giving me this verse as an encouragement, “Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:1-2.

Oh, how I have been overwhelmed. Today I was just praying through all the things going on and people suffering, and just was crying over all the needs as I lifted them up to the Lord. I am weeping with those that weep and right now, there is just a lot of difficult circumstance going on around me. There are many families that are suffering the loss of a child, with the funeral for Armondo being tomorrow. I, myself, have been struggling with a new bout of depression/anxiety. My husband’s sister is going through a tremendously difficult trial. A family at church cannot pay the bills, is uninsured and in the hospital as we speak. Friends struggling with post-partum blues. Bible study friends who are crying out to God on behalf of their wayward teenagers. This morning as I prayed…and tried to pray through for each person…how could I not be overwhelmed? And I have only mentioned a few things on my list to pray for. This is our time in the wilderness. And, remember, He does lead His children into the wilderness.

I know there is much suffering around the world and possibly in your home too. That is why I am so thankful that He gives us His Word, God allowed me to be encouraged with Psalm 61. He sees all the needs. He sees the hurt. He knows we are overwhelmed. And He is the ROCK that we can lean on.

Deuteronomy 32:4, “He is the ROCK, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He.”

2 Samuel 22:2, “The Lord is my ROCK, my FORTRESS, and my DELIVERER; my God is my ROCK, in whom I take REFUGE, my SHIELD and the HORN of my salvation. He is my STRONGHOLD, my REFUGE and my SAVIOR.”

Psalm 18:2, “The Lord is my ROCK my FORTRESS and my DELIVERER.”

Psalm 19:14, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my ROCK and my REDEEMER.”

Psalm 40:1-2, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a ROCK and gave me a firm place to stand.”

Psalm 92:15, “The Lord is upright; He is my ROCK, and there is no wickedness in Him.”

Isaiah 26:3-4, “You will keep him in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the LORD is the ROCK eternal.”

What do you think of when you think about a ROCK? The dictionary defines rock as a large mass of stone forming a hill, cliff, promontory, or the like. Another definition says, a firm foundation or support. A fortress is any place of exceptional security; a stronghold.

Praise the Lord that we have in Him a rock, a place to lean, a place of security, a stronghold. When I am weak, He is strong. When I am overwhelmed, I run to the Rock. My Rock.

Are you overwhelmed today, as I am? Run to the Rock. He is our Solid Rock. In Him is all Hope.

My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand.

My Wilderness…and Prayer

Can you tell where my heart has been lately, with all these posts on prayer? In our Bible study on Tuesday mornings, Priscilla Shirer has been talking about the wilderness. Did you know that God led the Israelites into the wilderness? Did you read that…God led them there? (Check it out in Exodus 13:17-17.)These hard times, the times that we struggle most, God led me here?

God didn’t lead us into the wilderness for us to “figure it out,” as Priscilla Shirer shared yesterday in our video. I am such a “fixer.” I want to know WHY I’m struggling, figure out “triggers” and make sure I NEVER come back here again. Oh, but is that what God wants for me? If he led me here, there is purpose. He is pruning me. He is drawing me to Himself.

Could it possibly be that He is giving me this beautiful season of prayer? Could it be that He is teaching me how desperate I am for him that I need more and more communion with Him? When He draws me to Himself and when He says, “Come, all who are thirsty…” He is talking to me. (Isaiah 55:1.) And lately, I have been going to Him. A lot. But I need to change my prayer a bit. Instead of, “Lord take this away, make me normal” I need to be praying… “Lord, if this is your will, I am Your servant. (Luke 1:38) Use me. Change me. Fill me. Hear my cry…and I know You do. Thank You. I trust You. I trust You, even in the wilderness. I trust Your Hand of Sovereignty in my life. I trust You to mold me and do what You need to do in me. No matter how it hurts.”

Well, Ann has done it again…written a fabulous post on prayer.

She talks today of building a house of prayer, going through each of these things listed below.

excerpt:

Lord, cause us not to work to consume or to climb, but to engage in the true work of building houses of prayer, places where You are at Home. Come, find Shelter here, where we find Shelter in You….

To Build a SHELTER of Prayer:
S-Short
H-Helps
E-Establish a Place
L– Lists
T– Together
E– Establish a Time
R– Reminders

Tis so sweet…

Tis so sweet  MercyIsNew.com

Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His WORD.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

“I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth – praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord.” Psalm 40:1-3

“Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” Psalm 37:5

“I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4

“In You, O Lord, I put my trust…deliver me…be my rock of refuge, a fortress of defense to save me.” Psalm 31:1-2

Friends, it has been a rough few days for me. Many of you know I had a really difficult struggle with depression about 3-4 years ago. Well, this time around it appears to be a bit different, but possibly headed in that same direction. Maybe anxiety? I don’t know…but the past few weeks and especially 3 days have been very hard for me. When you struggle with something like depression or anxiety, one bad *hour* feels like a bad *year.* A long morning feels like a long decade.

I am not writing this post to share with you how I have overcome depression or anxiety, because quite honestly, I’m in the middle of it right now. I haven’t found a “secret” cure. I have changed my diet, I have been exercising more regularly than ever before in my life…2 things I was hoping and praying would help me. But, they aren’t. I have started a new medication, and so far it is not helping either.

The reason I write this post is because, though it is hard to see past this moment or past my struggles, I trust in Him. Very simple. I trust Him. I’m not sure I could have said this with the same convinction a few years ago. But, it truly IS sweet to trust in Jesus, to take Him at His word. You see, those verses I listed above are my Rock. At times, when there is nothing else I can do, I go hide in the bathroom and cry. And, I hear the Lord speaking gently to me…”I am your Rock. I am your Refuge.” And I trust Him.

I don’t understand why I struggle. Earlier today in the midst of my tears, I cursed the personality God gave me. I worried for my kids, feeling I am ruining by the moment. I don’t understand why. But, I trust Him. I trust His word. And, Jeremiah 29:11 tells me that He has a plan for me. The anxiety, the depression, they don’t take Him by surprise. He doesn’t sit up in heaven and say, “oops, that was not a part of the plan!” He has already written the pages of my life story and prayerfully, every last minute of every long day will be used for His glory.

The times I have spent in the valley have been the times I have most readily clung to Him and His word. The times I have spent in the pit of depression have been the times I have seen just how intense my need for Him is. And ya know, just because I’m clinging to Him doesn’t mean He is going to take it all away. But, I do know that I may never have seen the DEPTH of my NEED for Him had I not fallen into those pits and spent that time in the valley.

So, tonight, as I try my hardest not to keep asking why, I praise Him. I praise Him and I trust Him. I don’t understand, but I don’t have to. He is God, He has a plan and I trust Him. And that is enough.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

________________________________________

Struggling mamas, find more encouragement here!

Learning to pray God’s Word has been one of the best tools on the battlefield of depression I have found. Read more about this spiritual discipline here.

Resources for Women Struggling With Depression