Tuesday, December 8, 2009

One Year

I finally have a moment to sit down and write! Yay for delayed appointments!


Friday was Jack’s birthday. I can’t believe my little boy is one! And in other ways I feel like the past year was at least two years’ time. Seriously, I felt like the first three months were never going to end. But they did and the next nine months were times of giggles and exploration. It is such a joy for me to see Jack experience something new for the first time. He recently rediscovered his toes and sucks on them while I’m changing his diaper. Why? I don’t know. But it is adorable. And tonight he had a ball figuring out how to roll around the room.


I was watching Ellen last week and Minnie Driver was on. Minnie glowed as she talked about her 15 month old son Henry and shared a video of him making animal sounds (it was adorable by the way – something else to look forward to with Jack!). Minnie – why do I feel like I’m talking about Minnie Mouse? – said that she never knew she could love this much. She said “Every day you think you can’t love them anymore and you do. It’s extraordinary you find that you have an ever expanding heart which is a magical thing to discover.” I can totally relate.


At this time I can't help but be reflective. I remember a little over a year ago, when I was still very very pregnant, pulling out my Christmas music and listening to Amy Grant’s “Breath of Heaven.” While I always loved the mysterious, beautiful melody, the words took on new meaning to me as I was “weary with a babe inside.” Mary’s prayer became very personal to me as I also prayed:


I am waiting in a silent prayer
I am frightened by the load I bear
In a world as cold as stone

Must I walk this path alone
Be with me now
Be with me now


Breath of Heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me
Breath of Heaven
Breath of Heaven
Lighten my darkness
Pour over me, your holyness
For your holy Breath of Heaven

Today my prayer remains the same. I am utterly dependent on my Father to be with me now. To lighten my darkness. To guide me in this cold world that is such a fallen state of its original Eden. I need Him to comfort me as a mother. I need Him to guide me in raising my son. I need to know that He is always there.


If I can say anything about this past year it is that God has been faithful to me. He has revealed to me that He was there when I didn’t feel Him. He has taught me about the depth of His love for me through my love for my son. He has held me when I cried. He has led me to healing from the agony of depression. But most of all, He has loved me.


I hope someday Jack also knows that love.


We had a few friends over to celebrate Jack’s birthday. He enjoyed his first taste of sugar with his birthday cake, reunited with his old friend Amaya, grinned at his new friend Beck and loved his gifts! Enjoy these snapshots and videos!


video

Monday, November 30, 2009

A More Substantial Update

OK. I am going to finally post a couple of pictures of the apartment. I kept waiting and waiting because I wanted everything to be in its place in order to impress you all, but tonight I realized things will never be in their place. This is me we're talking about! So here's the living room (please note the beautiful gas fireplace):

And here's our kitchen:


We used to have about a third of the cabinet and counter space as we do now. I cooked our Thanksgiving dinner and not once struggled to find a place to put something! Wow!

Oh, here's us at Thanksgiving. I look too perky. Tim is mellow. And Jack is distracted. Pretty typical.


These pictures do not really do our apartment justice (I'm a writer, not a photographer - someone wanna teach me how to take good pictures?). Let's just say, I love our new place. It is so refreshing. The first night we were here everything was so clean! I felt like we were in a hotel! And then three days later reality set in as I had to clean. Ugh. Whatever. This place is so light and open. The lay out is easy and is actually really helpful for me with maintaining things. We used to have two levels and I could never seem to get things back upstairs after bringing them down. NOW the laundry area is right next to our bedrooms. So practical.

Now for a little heart to heart. Settling in is not the only reason I have not written for some time. The other reason is I really needed time to heal and recover. Actually, I still need some time. I do not want to spew all of my thoughts and feelings all over the internet as it can be so easy to do in the blog world. After the move, I was pretty emotionally and psychologically crippled for about a week. Thankfully my mom came to help us settle in and I was able to rest.

In the last month I have realized several areas of hurt that have kept me down. On top of that, I have accepted the fact that depression is an illness. It is not my fault. There is nothing I did or didn't do that brought this on me. I am on an anti-depressant now that has made a huge difference. Sure, at times I am anxious or feel as though there's a weight on my shoulders, but not every day. Actually, this weekend I felt lighthearted and happy. It is such a relief.

Thank you all for your prayers. Thank you for your support. And thank you for loving me. I know my battle with depression is not over, but because I know God is with me I have hope. I would like to share more about this journey with you another time. Right now I need to get to bed.

Goodnight!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I'm back!

Wow, it has been more than two weeks since I have written anything. And honestly, I have needed the time off. Not that blogging is work or anything, but the last two weeks have been a huge adjustment. In case you don't remember, we moved!!

I don't have any fun pictures of the apartment yet (there are still boxes lying around the living room and things that need to find their place), but I do have this:


That's right! We invested in a brand new, front loading, energy efficient, sanitizing, silver washer and dryer! Jack sat watching the clothes spin for at least fifteen minutes. Actually... we all did. Seriously, it's mesmerizing.

More to come!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Rock Me to Sleep...

I find myself swirling in the downward spiral of self-doubt and low self-esteem. I am overwhelmed with packing, I feel I’m not doing or haven’t done enough to make Saturday successful and so I feel bad about myself. The pain is back in my chest, the hurt over not feeling loved, not feeling valuable.

And I am trying to hear the truth that I am not valuable because of what I do. I just am valuable. I am loveable because I am. And because God is God.

I was just rocking Jack back to sleep (which I felt guilty for because I haven’t been consistent about letting him cry it out – whatever “it” is) and, as I was wrestling with God over these issues, I looked down at Jack’s hands folded over his tummy which rose and fell with each deep breath. I was in awe of him and love for him swelled in my heart.

That’s how God loves me.

The thought came out of nowhere (or maybe sent from Him…) and I am still processing it. God loves me not because of what I do. God loves me because I exist. Because each person is infinitely valuable, loveable and precious.

That’s such a different message from what the world says. There are so many messages that bombard us. There are “the shoulds.” There are the titles, awards, and hierarchies which tell us who is important, who is successful. There are the advertisements that tell us if we had this hair, that cell phone or ate that food, then we would be somebody.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Did you get that? Before you did anything – right or wrong – God loved you and pursued you. The Bible is a grand love story of God pursuing our fallen human race. The laws in the Old Testament were set in place to purify us so we could commune with Him. Christ died to cleanse us so we could have an intimate relationship with Him.

And tonight God loves me even though I am not perfect. He loves me in the midst of the messages saying I'm not enough. He loves me even though I put Jack in front of the TV to get work done. He loves me even though I packed a box too heavy tonight. And he loves me even though not everything will be packed by Saturday.

I imagine Him rocking me to sleep tonight…

watching me take deep breathes…

loving me.

God, please help me accept your love and live in the freedom of the Beloved.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

An Update

On Saturday my little Jack became a...


After I went to the fabric store and couldn't find the right fake fur for the skunk idea I gave up and bought a costume. Yeah, I didn't try very hard... but even that was a lot of effort for me.

I've mentioned a few times my struggle with depression. Well, in the last few weeks it has gotten much worse. I haven't cared much about doing anything and the little energy I had went into daily life; however, even those few chores I have been able to do have taken the life out of me. I don't know how to describe it except when I would look at the dishes on the counter I felt pain in my gut. As though every chore was a personal insult that struck me at my core.

Last week, in the middle of the major snowstorm here in Denver, I went in to the doctor and am now on an anti-depressant. The hope I feel just knowing that it is going to get better soon is helping me through each day. Soon I'm going to be myself again! Wow. That is awesome.

I write all of this because many of you have told me your own struggles. I want you to know you are not alone. And I encourage you to seek help. There are some amazing therapists, friends, and doctors out there who can help you. They've helped me.

And maybe next year I'll have the energy to make Jack this costume:

Maybe...

p.s. Now that I'm feeling a little better, I hope to start writing on a regular basis again. Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Keep Holding On

Quinn's pregnant.

Everyone knows.

She's devastated.

The glee club sings to her "Keep Holding On."

And in one moment, Kurt looks at Quinn with such empathy, such love, I felt I saw God.

A couple of weeks ago I shared my current struggle with depression. Since then, I have received encouragement from others who are share my struggle. I have also felt myself growing more exhausted with daily life.

But while watching Glee yesterday afternoon, in that one moment, with that one look from Kurt, tied with those words, I heard God say, "I'm hear for you." He's there with a love that keeps loving no matter where we find ourselves, no matter what we've done, what we feel, what we think of ourselves.

So, like me, keeping holding on to that love. We'll make it through.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Lord Bless You and Keep You

Several months ago I began singing to Jack the same beautiful song, "The Choral Benediction," every night. Well... the song is beautiful, my singing is not always all that great. In high school, our choir sang this song to close every concert. Below is a video from youtube a member of my sister's choir took during their performance of "the Choral Ben" in Vatican Square.

Recently, Jack has begun to "sing" along with me. It is so sweet to hear his voice linger on one note and even seem to carry the rhythm of the song. The other night, I swear he tried to sing "Amen."

The words to the song are from Numbers 6:24-26, often referred to as "Aaron's Prayer."

This is also my prayer for you today.

The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord lift his countenance upon you
and give you peace.
The Lord make his face to shine upon you
and be gracious unto you.
Amen


Monday, October 19, 2009

The Shoulds

From the days of June Cleaver (and perhaps earlier?), there have been expectations of what a mother and wife should do. While I get incredibly angry over the idea that she should be submissive - even subservient to her husband, put everything aside for the sake of her children, and is responsible for the actions of everyone in her family (think about it, how many times are women shunned because her children act out), I still feel that I'm failing because I'm not accomplishing certain "shoulds."

Last night, as I was reflecting on this, I made a list of the "shoulds" I have struggled accomplishing.
  • I should have a neat house.
  • I should have a clean (spotless) house.
  • I should only eat and feed my family healthy food.
  • I should never turn on the tv, especially if Jack is in the room.
  • I should always be happy.
  • I should love very day.
  • I should never spend money on "extras" that may cause us to go over budget.
As I have been a stay at home mom, I have had a running track in my head telling me these are the things I should be doing and that because not one of these things has been done all of the time I am failing. The message in my head is telling me that I am not a good mother or wife because there are books and papers constantly stacked on the dining room table, there are almost always dishes on the kitchen counter, and my bathroom floor has not been mopped in months (which does gross me out by the way). I am embarrassed to have friends over because my house doesn't look anything like the homes in Real Simple or the house porn catalogs (I stole your phrase Carla!). Because I have been feeling so horrible about these things, when I start looking at everything that needs to be done in order for life to be "perfect" I become overwhelmed and am paralyzed from doing anything. Hence, the dishes stack up, the laundry piles up, and the dust builds up.

Now don't get me wrong, as I write these things and read them I know they are ridiculous. I know that the heart is more important. I know that Jack knowing I love him and spending time with him is more important than me putting away the laundry. But it can be so hard to fight those voices when the world continues to tell you that your house should look like this (with only one toy strategically placed):


and your meals should be like that:


While my house currently looks like this:

And our lunch today was that:


Many years ago, when I was a sophomore at Bethel, Brennan Manning came to speak at our chapel. I can remember one line from that sermon and it has been playing in my head over and over as I write this: "You shouldn't should on yourself." (try saying that ten times fast -yikes!)

You shouldn't should on yourself.

Why? Because God is the God of grace. He is the God of forgiveness. He is the God of healing. These shoulds put us down and damn us when "There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). I believe these thoughts, these shoulds that make us question our worth and our value are from the devil himself. Our enemy who seeks to destroy us when God wants us to experience life (John 10:10). When we strive after them, we are striving after an image of ourselves that in reality is worth less than who we truly are, loved by God.

Last night, these words from Zephania 3:17 brought tears and healing as I pictured God's great love for me - messy house and all:

The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.

He will take great delight in you,

he will quiet you with his love,

he will rejoice over you with singing.


I wonder, what are your shoulds? It may be that you have no trouble keeping your house immaculate and you are gifted at whipping up delicious and nutricious meals. Do you have areas that you feel you are constantly failing in? Please, bring these hurts, these shoulds before our Father and reflect on the verse printed above.

He delights in you.

He rejoices over you.

Wow.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Halloween Costume Idea


I love dressing up and pretending to be someone else. Growing up, I didn't even know you could buy costumes because my mom always either made mine or we found some get up in the play clothes that transformed me into a Wealthy Old Maid (one of my favorites), a Black Cat (my last time out trick-or-treating), or Pinnochio (that costume was horrible by the way, mom; but I realize that Shelby had been born three weeks before Halloween that year so I now understand why we had no costumes until the night before).

(The Halloween Page of the Scrapbook My Mom Made for Me, Click to Enlarge)

This year I get to have even more fun and I get to dress up my son too!! I have always wanted to dress Jack as the traditional baby pumpkin that I have seen in so many of my friends' pictures. But I have started to entertain other costume possibilities when I saw this adorable skunk costume at ReadersDigest.com:


No one is more surprised than me that I am actually considering making Jack a costume (emphasis should probably be on the word considering), but I found a feather boa at The Dollar Tree and now I am actually considering it! The hard part is finding black clothes for a baby - but he could be a navy blue skunk, right? It's Halloween after all! Anyone can be anything! (There are other great ideas in the article 20 Creative Homemade Halloween Costumes check it out!)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

Brighten My Heart

I have not written in some time because I have been uncertain what to say. Sometimes it is hard for me to process my own feelings. I find that what I want to feel is often different from how I am feeling. Therefore I fight my feelings, trying to convince myself that I am not feeling what I am feeling and am in fact feeling something else.

Make sense? No? Let me try to be clearer with some specifics.

Many years ago I dealt with and healed from a pretty severe case of depression. The healing happened after a significant amount of time on anti-depressants, in prayer, and in counseling. I have considered myself free of depression for four years and I do not want to go back.

Going into motherhood, I knew my risk for postpartum depression and meant to go for help if I felt depressed. But the time after Jack was born was so different from what I expected that I could not discern my own feelings. Looking back I think I may have been dealing with some depression in the first couple of months following Jack’s birth. I wonder what would have happened if I had sought help… who knows. I can’t change that. What I can chance is what is happening now.

I have so much not wanted to be depressed that I think it has made me more depressed to now admit I am again dealing with depression. (I’m really into confusing sentences today – perhaps it reflects my state of mind!)

This depression is very different from my experience so many years ago. I don’t hate myself like I did then. I’m not crying every day and night. I’m not suicidal... But I am tired. I have little motivation to get things done and often the things I do try to do become overwhelming very quickly (and they are simple things, like the laundry or filling out a form). I am also quick to snap at Jack or Tim.

It is hard admitting this. I feel ashamed as though it's my fault that I'm "back here" again.

Have no fear, I am seeking help. I am facing issues that have brought me here. I am exercising regularly (which studies have shown is as effective as an anti-depressant – crazy huh?) and getting out of the house(anybody remember that creepy short storm/film “The Yellow Wallpaper”? yeah, we don't want that). I am socializing with others – and not just online.

Most importantly I am expressing my feelings and I am bringing them to God. So often I subconsciously hide these negative things from the Lord because we’re supposed to be joyful, right? The other day at VVV (I mentioned it before, remember?) Nancy began with a simple prayer bringing our hurts, our depression, our pain before the Lord. It reminded me that it is ok. I am ok. God embraces me here and desires this vulnerability with him.

What a relief.

Sixpence None the Richer’s song Brighten My Heart has been my prayer the last week. It reflects my life right now and my desire to open my heart to the Lord who is the only true source of hope and joy in this world. I hope it ministers to you too.

Brighten My Heart

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Monday, October 5, 2009

Just sleep already!

I wanted to write a nice, positive, funny post about Jack chillin in a Target shopping cart, but all I want to say is AAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

After sleeping for 20 minutes, Jack woke up screaming. This is unusual so I went to him and tried to comfort him. Thinking he might be teething again, I offered baby orajel for relief. But he stuck his tongue out while I was putting it on his gums and now his tongue is numb, he can't suck properly and he keeps losing his pacifier.

Everything I have tried to get him to sleep has failed. I tried letting him cry like we did, but when he hadn't fallen asleep after 20 minutes (again, unusual), I went to him. I lay with him in our bed. Still crying. I rocked him. Still crying.

I thought he had fallen asleep just now, but he's screaming again.

AAAAAAHHHHHH!

All I want to do is relax. I want to watch Dancing with the Stars and eat cookies. Well, I want to eat cookies because he's crying.

And while trying to soothe Jack I feel horrible for not being empathetic. I feel guilty for being so frustrated and for wanting to watch tv instead of caring for my son. And I feel helpless because I don't know what to do to help Jack get to sleep.

Silence. Is he asleep now?

Jeez I hope so.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Betcha Didn't Know I Could Crochet!

During the last few months of my pregnancy I had four or five ultra-sounds to measure Jack's head. The doctors were concerned that it was too big (measuring in the 90th percentile) though I kept assuring them, "All Kaihoi heads are big." Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) I had a c-section due to low fluid levels and I was unable to show them that delivering a Kaihoi baby naturally could be done.

Also during those last months of my pregnancy I crocheted a hat for Jack. The pattern for the hat was for 6 months, so I thought surely it would fit. Apparently I underestimated the size of a "Kaihoi head" and that cute hat was way too small. I tried to make him another one right away, following the pattern for 18 months and this is what it ended up looking like:


He looked like a little Elf! (the brim is supposed to be folded up an inch or so)

This year, I decided to try again. I gave both my friend Ann and my cousin-in-law Jamie (also delivering a Kaihoi baby) hats as shower gifts.I used different yarn, added a couple of rows, and I think a different hook size. I was so nervous they would be too small and told them to let me know they fit. They both said, "I hope his head is smaller than this!" Don't we all... Thankfully, Ann's hat fit! (I haven't heard from Jamie) Here's Beck modeling it at two days old:


When the weather suddenly turned cold here in Denver a two weeks ago, we were not prepared. Encouraged by my success with Beck's hat, I decided to try again for Jack (whose head still measures at 70% while his height and weight are around 40%). Today, I finally finished a hat for Jack this winter. I modified the pattern I used above to make it.



I think it's pretty cute, don't you? Here's another because he's so cute.



Last night I was reading another mom-blog I started following. Beverly from A Baby? Maybe... was showing off some super cute patterns she found on Etsy. Inspired, I started looking on Etsy.com and ended up finding some cute booties I want to make to go with Jack's hat. What do you think? Which pattern(s) should I buy?

I was thinking these basic booties by Mamachee could be a nice way to ease into a new style:

Or maybe some Australian Uggs by crochetroo:


These loafers by sylver made my heart melt:

If I could knit I would have made Jack these booties when he was younger:


And I'm tempted to try making this doggie for him!


I could show you tons more projects I found, but you'll have to go to Etsy.com and check them out yourself. There are a lot of projects that can be purchased already made, you don't have to know how to crochet or knit to have cute handmade clothing! I think many of the sellers are moms - who else would spend so much time with baby clothes?