Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I've moved!

Hi Friends,

I have recently changed my blogging venue to word press. My new site can be found at


Monday, January 9, 2012

There WILL Be a Day

My postpartum OCD set upon me like a wildfire to a forest. Out of nowhere, a blaze began and traveled rampantly, attempting to destroy all of my joy and leave devastation in it's wake. I remember the date specifically, February 22.

As much I would like to forget this date, I will never be able to look upon it again as "just a date on a calendar".

I shared briefly with my MOPS group (Mothers of Preschoolers) about my blog and mentioned the specificity of knowing exactly the moment my world came crashing down around me.

A fellow MOPS Mom shared with me after that she had "a date" as well. She distinctly remembered when things went awry for her as well.

My one year anniversary of my PPOCD onset is approaching quickly. I can praise God that He has graciously delivered me quickly (though not fully) from this terrifying chapter in my life, as many women do not experience the "quick" recovery I did. Many moms don't recover from a postpartum mood disorder until 1.5-2 years after the onset of their illness.

Lately I have been struggling with the "what if's". What if this comes back? What if that thought I just had means it's coming back? What if I never fully recover?

I believe this is God's way of bringing me right back to Him. Now that "happy days are here again" when those moments of uncertainty creep in, I HAVE to turn it back to Him and say, "I am Yours. You have saved me. Your Spirit is at work in me. I can look to You during feast and famine". I don't know if this episode in my life will always be a thorn for me. It is so easy to praise God when things are going well. It's also easy to take it for granted. I don't believe God punished me with a postpartum mood disorder, but I believe He allowed it for a greater purpose. He took what Satan intended for harm and destruction and turned it into something beautiful.

To quote Jeremy Camp:

"There will be a day with no more tears
No more pain, and no more fears
There will be a day when the burdens of this place
Will be no more, we'll see Jesus face to face
But until that day, we'll hold on to you always"

"Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices; together they shout for joy. When the LORD returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes. Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem, for the LORD has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem."
Isaiah 52:8-9

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Reaching into the New Year

I am not a fan of New Year's resolutions. Short lived and unreachable, most resolutions (from my perspective) are self-driven and temporal. I can't think of one resolution that I have made that I have actually followed through with.

I have so many "things" I am resolute to complete.....clean out the closets of debris and clutter....exercise more...drink more well....seeing my passion for writing and photography become lucrative....the list goes on.

As I enter 2012, I look back on 2011. A lot individuals close to me have had a difficult year. Many, myself included, have said, "This year has got to be better".

As I reflect upon my postpartum experience, I remember saying to my therapist at one point, "I would rather receive a cancer diagnosis than to go through this." Sometimes I still feel that way.

We don't get to choose the crosses that God has given us to bear on this side of heaven. We do get to respond to how we carry it. I couldn't write these words in the midst of my postpartum illness. If you are in the gut-wrenching hell that it is, I wouldn't expect you to have that mindset either.

Let me clarify that while I feel I have "recovered" from my postpartum experience, this isn't to say I don't have bad days. It feels like postpartum PTSD. Thinking, "Really?? Did I go through all of that? What if it comes back? What if I am really not better? What if this medication is the only thing keeping me going?"

That's when I tell Satan to shove it.

So I have obviously deviated from the beginning of my post but now I will attempt to tie it together. I don't like resolutions. I can do nothing in my own power and strength. I am resolute to not make a New Year's resolution. :)

A devotional I read a few days ago struck a cord with me and has stuck with me. A portion of the devotion from Wisdom Hunter's reads as follows:

"There are rival voices in the mind of a Christian that compete for the ear of God. Another voice cries out for healing of a diseased body. A sincere voice asks to know God’s will and direction for living. All of these voices vie for the Lord’s attention and are close to His heart. But there is one request that collates all of these needs—to enter into the presence of Jesus in prayer."

It continues, "We need the personalized presence of Christ like a hiker reaching a mountain summit needs oxygen. It is in this place of praise that we see the beauty of His holiness and we study at His feet. The doors to His house of worship are always open to our hungry heart and inquisitive mind. We enter into His courts because He is the One Thing we need."

Oh Jesus, please let this be the prayer of my heart, to hunger for You. To be aware of Your presence always. To dive into it with exuberance. May the temptation of idleness be easy to push away so that I may relish in time well spent with You. I praise You for the healing You have provided and pray that I would always remain humble.

So, this year, I just want Jesus. All of Him. What that looks like I don't know. I suspect that it is going to quiet the raucous in my fallen mind. I need Him each day for restoration, rejuvenation, and to be who He wants me to be.

I want to keep this year simple. Simply about Christ.

Yet, I can't even do this on my own. God's grace and love have been revealed to me by his mercy, and I am forever in awe.

I choose to have a theme "word" for this year vice a resolution: Striving.

Striving to be in His presence, striving to combat Satan and his lies with the Word of God. Striving to take what was meant by the enemy to destroy me and turn it into something beautiful.

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and striving toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 3:13-14

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Uncertainity of the Moment

The last few days, with the exception of most of the day yesterday, and so far this morning (I've only been awake for an hour) have been a bit rough in the rocky sea of postpartum OCD. My brain felt like it was taking a landslide back into the pit and panic that arises when I allow OCD to cause fear.

It's hard for me to post in the midst of that; and outwardly all appears fine. We all wear masks, some more disguising than others. Behind my mask were moments of a quickly arising panic that if left unchecked would have gone into a full blown panic attack.

I thought about what I had been doing differently, to see if any "triggers" were making my OCD "louder". I realized after going through a few checklists that I:

1. Have not been eating enough.
2. Have not been drinking enough fluids.
3. Have not been getting enough sleep.

If my basic physical needs are not being met consistently, my mental health is going to suffer. Chronic dehydration has been shown to contribute to anxiety. Lack of sleep is a major contributor to elevating postpartum illness.

I also had not been waking up as consistently to read the Word and pray. The last week or so I had been averaging about 6 hours of sleep a night. For me, that is just not enough. I was going to bed later to take care of "Christmas stuff" (really what is there to "take care of"?) So, the last two nights I have been putting myself to bed early and attempting to get up before the kids to have my time in solitude with Jesus. Thankfully, this morning I was able to do that.

My appetite is suppressed early to mid day due to some of the medication I take, so the nutrition I needed is not there. My fluid intake was well below the recommended amount (I just learned that you are supposed to take your body weight and divide by half, and that is the number of ounces that your body needs to consume on a daily basis!).

We are complex beings, with multiple aspects of our bodies intertwined. The state of wellness that we seek to achieve cannot be found if there isn't a balance of physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. I cannot achieve that balance without the help of Jesus; and boy if there isn't a balance things get rough. I might be able to go a day or two on full speed but after that everything crashes.

God has used "glitches" in my mental health (the term I use when OCD threatens to consume me again) to point me back to him.

I feel like these are elementary thoughts. If you find yourself feeling uncertain, out of sorts, fatigued, or a "spike" in your postpartum illness, consider the above and see where you are and do what you can to make the necessary changes to enhance your wellness.

Whether it's a postpartum illness you are battling, or some other equally unnerving battle, take heart. God's word says,

"Have mercy on me, O God, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. "
Psalm 57:1

Monday, December 12, 2011

My child, the redeemed sinner

Over the weekend I came upon the realization that my children are sinners. I have known this intellectually, but had not experienced it spiritually and emotionally until now. My oldest sinned against me and it left me dumbfounded and wounded when my eyes were opened to what his words meant. I won't go into detail about what was spoken, but it was the first bit of "true" sin that I had experienced from my child. This has not to say he has never sinned before. His words revealed a selfish and ungrateful heart and I was just stunned. The kicker of it all was that he had no idea. I stumbled through a response to him, trying to lovingly correct him, all the while not knowing what to say.

As parents we all think highly of our children. Sometimes we put them upon pedestals they don't belong on. We can't imagine that they would ever do anything "wrong". We are blinded by our love for them.

This "revelation" of sorts came upon me while I was driving to get blizzards from Dairy Queen for my husband and me. (The Candy Cane Chill is AWESOME!) I was hurt by his words and took them personally. I couldn't imagine that he had any bit of selfishness is him, and wondered where I had gone wrong as a parent. It then dawned on me that I hadn't neglected some major parenting responsibility, but that he, like all of us, is a sinner. It is just starting to manifest itself in a more obvious manner as his mind grows and his capacity for understanding expands.

Tears streamed down my face as I experienced the first bit of hurt from my child, despite his lack of intention. Then I grieved for the sins I committed against my parents. I recalled the many times I sinned against them in various ways and felt the pang of regret and sadness that I couldn't undo anything. (Love you Mom...)

This pondering spiraled into the next set of thoughts about how God must have felt when Adam and Eve ate the apple in Eden. How we stab the heart of God when we aren't walking in His ways. If I, a mere human being, felt the way I did at the words of preschooler, how God must feel when I sin against Him (which is daily, I might add).

What did my Jesus feel like on that cross when His father turned His back for that moment of agony when He took upon all the sin of the world?

I am humbled as a parent and as a Christian, ever so thankful for the grace that has been bestowed upon me so that my sins are washed away. I am even more aware of what it means to be a parent. So much more then providing clothing, safety, and food. What a responsibility. I praise Him that my oldest has recently asked Jesus to be in His heart, to forgive His sins. That God has given him the ability to understand what sin is, and that I never have to worry about His spiritual destination.

I didn't know it was possible, but my love for my oldest grew even more after coming to the understanding of all of this. While He is in God's hands, I have become a more fierce momma, determined to hold up a shield (or at least try) against the arrows of Satan and temptation before them. Unfortunately, I don't have that power (but thankfully God does) but I do have the ability to teach them.

Father God, I am ever so humbled before you. Thank you for using my son to teach to me a valuable lesson. Thank you for entrusting him to me. Please guide me in my words to direct them to You. Thank you for choosing me to be part of your family. Thank you for the birth of Jesus, who as an infant would one day be nailed to a cross for me. Help me to remember that my children are sinners and in need of your grace. When I feel the pain of their sin, or when sin brings pain to themselves or others, may your Holy Spirit work in our lives to correct it and grow closer to You.

"..for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."
Romans 3:23-24

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Distraction of Rest

I LOVE the Christmas season. I love the houses decorated with tacky Christmas decor. I love the decorations at the mall. I love the radio stations that play only Christmas music. I love all the Christmas specials that come on TV that I watched as a child.

I remember the anticipation of what Santa left under the tree. My family was not by any means wealthy, but somehow Santa always left me what felt like 100 presents under the tree. Being an only child probably contributed to that.

It wasn't until I matured as a Christian that I fully embraced the phrase "Jesus is the Reason for the Season". Being a mom I see things in a whole new perspective. I get to watch my children revel in the "magic" of Christmas and all the mystery it holds. We took a walk last night and looked at all of our neighbors' Christmas lights and I relished in my oldest's excitement and enthusiasm.
He understands that it is Jesus' birthday. I wonder though, why are we giving each other gifts instead of a gift to Him? After all, it is His birthday. How do we keep our perspective focused on Christ and encourage our children to do the same thing? This is a question I hope to ask myself not just during the holidays but throughout the year as well.

I mentioned that Santa was very generous to me as a child. As a result I have the tendency to want to buy my children everything under the sun. Thankfully, God has given me a husband who has helped me scale back on that; but that desire to "spoil" them is still there. This year I am looking for ways to create memories for my children that don't focus on what is under the tree.

This season I was able to get a "head start" on my Christmas celebration. I normally forget to pull out my Christmas CD's and movies until December 26th. The CD's are out, the movies are ready to be watched and my oldest and I have already began making Christmas crafts. Last year we sang "Happy Birthday" to Jesus and made Him a birthday cake. I plan on doing the same this year. I love the element of tradition and ritual (you would think I was Catholic) but there is comfort found in it.

As I have been reading through the book of Hebrews, I have been learning about two types of rest that God describes. His eternal rest, which can only be found through knowing Christ, and His Sabbath rest. Most of us know that God rested on the 7th day of creation. He desires for us to rest in Him, to honor when He rested (even though he didn't "need" to rest). Sunday has been set apart as a day of rest for Christianity, though more through culture then God's command. I look around our culture and see more activity on Sundays than other days of the week. Some of us spend all day at church, which in itself isn't a bad thing, but are we resting?

I'm not talking about taking a nap here, or a vacation. Though, most days I covet them! This Christmas season I want to focus on the Sabbath rest He commanded us to have and perform it purposefully. Many of us go through this season and work frantically to check off our to do lists and then we blink and Christmas is over.

My prayer and desire for my heart is to honor God each day with a mini "Sabbath" rest. Reading the Christmas story a little each day and reflecting upon the events that took place for our Savior to be born. Sitting with no distraction, praising and thanking Him for His hand that guided Mary and Joseph during a scary time full of uncertainty. Ignore the laundry, the dusting that needs to be done, and the to do list for just a few minutes and dedicating a small portion of each day to rest in God.

It is more restorative then idly watching TV, reading a book, playing with my Android, or messing around on the computer (guilty am I!). I think of this as a mindless rest.....which really is no rest at all. The luxuries of this world can become such a distraction, a time waster.

Throughout the hardest parts of my postpartum OCD experience, the concept of rest was a joke. Sleep was merely required by my exhausted body and mind. I was trudging through the sludge with no end in sight. I couldn't shut my mind up for anything (and I wanted it to be so badly) and at times I felt like the world was spinning around me and I was stuck in the middle of a tornado with no escape.

If you are there right now, due to a postpartum illness or just as a season of life, I ache for you. I understand the fear and uncertainty. Seek His rest, ask Him to help you find peace in His Sabbath rest. Rest in His word and in His presence. Purposefully practicing resting in Him will bring restoration, rejuvenation, and can only help your recovery experience.

P.S. It only took me 4 days to complete this post...

Take the yoke I give you. Put it on your shoulders and learn from me. I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest.
Matthew 11:29

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

But I'm Scared....

My oldest has been a hair twirler as early as I can remember. When his hair was long enough he used to twirl the hair right on top of his head before falling asleep. During our nursing days, he held on to my hair with a fist clenched so tightly I had to pry his fingers loose.

His hair is rather short now, so he doesn't have the luxury he used to. So, he uses mine. We were in the middle of playing and he grabbed my hair on both sides and pulled it under my chin. He said, "Momma, who do you look like?" I said, "Who?" He said, "Mary!" (Mother of Jesus). I laughed. He pulled my hair pack and put it behind my shoulders and said, "Now you look like Momma again".

His words struck me at that moment. I began to wonder about his perspective of my PPOCD. Did I still look like momma in my worst moments? Did he see the darkness that wrapped itself around my heart and mind? He many not have understood exactly what was happening, but I know he sensed it. Thoughts like "I've ruined him for life" or "He's going to be an anxious man" plague my heart. I wonder if he'll remember any of it. I did my best to protect him from it and am not sure how well I succeeded.

Recently he has been "afraid of everything". The dark, his room, being left alone, the closet, going to preschool. You name it, he'll tell you a reason why he is afraid of it. I don't know if this is stemming from normal childhood fear, or if he is emotionally scarred. As ridiculous as that sounds, that's what runs through my head....

There is a part of me that feels like the worst mother in the world, and then there is the other part of me that knows this is not true. I didn't ask for a postpartum mood disorder, but I got one. I got help for it, and I got better and am continuing to head in the right direction. God's grace has been more then abundant and his provision overflowing.

After exhausting lots of attempts to alleviate his fears, I finally found a way to at least show him a little bit of reassurance. My therapist suggested that I teach him how to be "in the moment" during times when he is not afraid. Placing his hand over his heart and saying "You are ok right now, and God will always keep you ok in your heart. When you feel scared, put your hand over your heart and remember that when you weren't feeling scared, you were ok, and that God is keeping you ok now."

It seemed to help a little, but then we integrated a concept from the book The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. In short, a little raccoon doesn't want to go to school, he wants to stay home with his momma raccoon. Momma raccoon goes through all the reasons why school is important and fun. She shares a very old secret with him called "The Kissing Hand". She kissed the palm of her baby raccoon and told him to put his hand to his cheek "whenever he felt lonely or needed a little loving from home". This reassured him greatly and he was excited that he could take her love with him wherever he went. The story ends with him giving his momma a kiss on the middle of her hand as he left for school. I think she needed that Kissing Hand just as much as her little raccoon.

Our bedtime and goodbye rituals include the kissing hands and he says to me, "Now you always have my love, Momma". I tell him he always has mine and we put our hands over each other's hearts and on our cheeks. I remind him that he always has Jesus' love in his heart as well and he can always talk to him when he feels scared. I pray this helps him work out whatever his brain is processing and he can be "himself" again....and isn't scarred for life....

I kissed his hand when I dropped him off today at preschool and he smiled shyly and kissed mine. Just like the momma raccoon I need my very own kissing hand just as much as she did, and just as much as my son does, perhaps more so.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your comfort and peace. May it penetrate my heart daily so I may be a source of comfort and peace to my children.

"For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. "
2 Corinthians 1:5