Friday, May 30, 2014

(Not) Losing It: Struggling With the Baby Weight

Let me just preface this by saying that this turned into such a long post covering more that one subject, that I'll finish this post in a second part later :) Second part here is here ---> part 2

Well, as I was talking about in my last post, summer is upon us and in full swing, at least as far as the weather in concerned. Every day this next week is in the mid 80's sometimes hitting 90* and the humidity level is, as always, just off the charts down here. This is all fine and wonderful, I do love the warmth! But it brings attention more and more with each hotter day to my weight.

Since having Caleb (my 3rd baby) I have had a very uphill struggle with losing the baby weight.

5 years ago after the birth of my first daughter, I had gained quite a bit of weight (45 pounds!) Part of it was pregnancy itself, indulging in my pregnancy cravings, and still in the "newlywed" phase of our marriage I was cooking large, rich meals. But, after giving birth I lost all but 13 of the 45 pounds in the first 4 months. That was such a great start that I just planned on continuing to work out when I could and drop the rest of the weight and tone up!

Of course, most of you know that at only 4 months post pardum I became pregnant with my second daughter. It was such an exciting time! I gained another 30 pounds on top of that 13 though. Then, after the birth of Ellie, post pardum depression hit me, hard.

I have dealt with depression on and off a lot of my life. Thankfully, I know Jesus Christ as my own, personal Savior. As long as I keep my eyes on Him, I'm safe, happy, content, and joy filled. He fills my heart with joy and is a shelter from any storm that is happening on the outside. When I can feel the waves of depression coming on, I go to the one source of true comfort, my God. And the one place where I can get 100% good advice and wise words, the Bible. These two put my life into perspective. God's word banishes fear from my mind, gives peace to my heart and instills a joy so complete this world can't take it away!

The problem is when I start to try to figure out problems on my own.... when I don't run to God but run to Google, when I don't focus on His word, but my own problems. When my heart feels so heavy I reach down inside myself, instead of up towards God for strength. Of course, my strength fails every time, so I only get more depressed, more withdrawn, and deeper into places where I don't want to go. 

Anyway, my old enemy depression hit me full force, literally hours after Ellie was born. The first day home from the hospital, I spent almost the entire night (when not nursing a baby) in my closet, door shut, bawling my eyes out.
At this same time, Daniel's hours at work were cut dramatically, we fell behind with bills, money became extremely tight and Daniel was fighting his own battle feeling incredibly home sick for Texas and missing his family.
Up until this point in our marriage, I would go to Daniel to help my feel better. Not only my best friend, but he himself is so close to God he always just gave the best advice and could make me feel better. But, with us both struggling and hurting on the inside, with nothing left to give the other, we both felt let down and alone. As you can imagine, fights ensued and the newlywed stage came to an abrupt end. 

I knew the answer to my depression was to run to God, but it was like I had fallen so deep so quick, I felt enveloped by my depression and was to weak to fight for joy. 

I felt pretty hopeless, despite knowing where my hope was found. I felt like I had tried to reach out to God.... but just couldn't do any more than I was doing, and just really gave up. The thing about God though, is if you're His, He's yours forever. And even when we let go of Him, He never let's go of us. He might allow us to go through things, but He's never really left us. He finds ways to bring us back to Him and spring new life in the winter that our hearts are in.

God used one of my very dearest and closet best friends Becky to do just that. Becky and I have been friends now for 21 years(!) Going through phases where we saw each other often and not so often. We hadn't gotten together very recently, but here I was with 2 little children and she was pregnant with her third, so we were both busy. But, she reached out and reached out to me inviting us over. Of course anyone dealing with depression knows that getting together with anyone and trying to muster up a happy facade just sounds like just the most monumentous task, so you refuse.

But finally, I had run out of reasons not to go... so packed up the kids and came over for a visit. 
That one afternoon at Becky's house was like a ray of a warm sunshine after a dark and horrible storm. I wasn't completely over my struggle, but getting together with my beautiful friend left me feeling energized, hopeful, and not so alone.
That afternoon, Becky's peaceful joy was so evident, that I couldn't help but be inspired. I think she would think it's funny that I would describe an afternoon at her house as "peaceful."  But the funny thing about peace is that it can take many forms, and doesn't always need to be noiseless! Despite the craziness and chaos of having all of our littles together, she has such a beautiful and quite spirit, that God really used her to reach me.
We started getting together more often. We would share stories, recipes, ideas, ect. We could share and lift each other up as we confided about struggles with children, being good wives, and family things. The thing about Becky that I love is that she can be happy and share her love of her family, but can also be transparent about what's going on her life and share her frustrations. She is just real! 
The weeks went by and turned into months, and I started to let go of things and God picked them up, took care of them and restored my peace and my joy. I recommitted my life to Him, and found myself turning back into the joyful, happy woman that I like to be. With me not so invested on my self, my relationship with my children, and especially my husband once again flourished. Joy abounded in our home and peace was restored to even better than it was before!

Remember, this joy wasn't due to anything I knew or did, it was simply letting God take the life I so feebly was trying to hold onto.  I was a christian and knew God already, but sometimes we fall or slip, because we're human and that happens. No one is immune from heart ache and sin. But the difference between doing it alone and having God; is that God will gladly take your burdens and tears, and trade you for joy and peace. If you want joy, real joy, all you have to do is ask God. That's it. Just tell God that you're tired of doing it on your own and want Him in your life. He'll guide you through the rest.

How do I know God is real and that He exists? Because He has shown me. He has restored me. He has saved me. If you have never asked God into your life, I would encourage you to do it today... do it now! He is real, He knows you, He loves you, and He wants to help you. But God doesn't go where He's not invited. So won't you invite Him? If you want more information on becoming saved, I would encourage you to go here ------->  Becoming Saved 

Have a joyful day friends! 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Time for summer!

Welcome summer! Well, almost summer. Summer for me anyway. Although I have lived here in Texas for just over a year, it's going to take longer than that for this cold weather Wisconsin girl to get used to the south Texas weather! So for all the Texans down here, it's spring, but in my mind, if the trees are all lush and green, the flowers in full bloom and every day is in the 80's.... SUMMER!!!!

Our summer (Spring) has been off to an eventful start! In the last 45 days, we have had 34 days of overnight guests! Not really guests, but my family. :) My sister Amanda came here for about a week, we went to the Houston livestock show and Rodeo, it was so fun! We also so Zac Brown Band, went to the Houston Zoo and just spent a lot of quality time together. She met Caleb for the first time and we got to just be fun giggly sisters together!

Then, about a week and a half later, my youngest sister Emily came on a whim! This was her third time down, so we didn't do a lot of touristy things, but pretty much hung out. And she finished installing the flooring in the hallway! It was a project Daniel had started, them Emily and I were working on together. I went to town for some shopping and when I got back... volia! She surprised me and went ahead and finished our project. What is family for? ;)

My grandfather was originally planning on coming a week and a half later, but he changed his plans last minute and got here early, while Emily was still here. Unexpected, but still a blessing. :)

Em left so it was just Papa (my grandpa) and us for 2 weeks. I'm not going to lie....  we kind of just hit a wall. Everything was going really well, and it was so great to have my 74 year old grandfather with us, but Daniel and I were starting to miss "our time" together. It's amazing how much you need that alone, quite time together to recharge and prepare for the next day.

 That being said, it was really cool to see my grandpa have the same relationship with my kids as I remember him having with me as a child. Grandparents are such a blessing and I'm really going to treasure the time he was here.

I was so unbelievably excited for my parents to get here! After Grandpa was here for the two weeks my parents flew in!!!!! My goodness I love them! I have always been super close with them both, so not seeing them for a whole year has been extremely hard on me. For the most part I would try not to think about it, because I would just get so overwhelmed with how much I miss them, but as the weeks got closer and then the days, that's almost all I could think about! Caleb and I picking them up from the airport has been one of the best days this year!

We had an amazing time together, we jam packed so many memories into 10 days it will be enough to get me through until this fall (when they are planning on coming down again :) My grandpa was here for another week after they got here before he left, and then we had just a few days of just my parents. :) I could go on and on.... My mom and dad are just the most God honoring, loving, generous people I know. I love them dearly and miss them fiercely. 

Dropping them off at the airport was really hard and I had an emotional drive back home, but once I actually got home and just sat back on the couch with my hubby while all the kids played, I realized I almost felt relived to have just us again. Almost 5 weeks of overnight family visitors is a lot of late nights, mini road trips, sugary treats, long talks, and happy memories. So many things that make life so beautiful! But all that can also include some schedule changes, crabbiness, and over tiredness. For the kids too! :) 
So despite me missing my family, I'm ready to get my own little family back on schedule. I have a renewed sense of joy and eagerness for life in general and now really feel ready to start our long summer!

So what about you? Are you ready for summer after this long cold winter?!