On a serious note, I want to be real and transparent and all those good things, so I decided to share where I am with some struggles I've had since adding child #4 to our family.
Background: The year Jaybird arrived (2006) was a HUGE transitional year for us. We went from having Daddy home and helping around the house (while laid off and in school) to Daddy being gone 60-70 hours a week (when he finished school and worked). Then Jaybird was born a few months later. I had an especially hard time not feeling defeated and somewhat depressed. I have a family history of poor mental health and I had so far in my life never had to consider the possibility that I was depressed. I fought it off with all my strength. Now I knew I was dealing with it as I fought suicidal thoughts and fantasies of escaping to an isolated mountain top resort. I functioned-we did school and my house wasn't too bad, but I was still miserable inside.
When Jaybird was about six months old, after Christmas of '06, my good days finally outnumbered my bad ones. By spring I felt 95% better. I think the other 5% may be gone for good, lol.
As 2007 rolled on, I still fought defeat and the occasional fleeting thoughts of escape. I wrested all year with how it was supposed to work-the fruit of the Spirit had never come harder. How was I supposed to let the Lord handle it--was he supposed to come do my dishes for me or take the girls to baseball practice? I'm not being coy, I really wanted to know how to depend on the Lord in those practical ways.
December of 2007 started out great for me. I had a few gifts bought in November and had a rough list of gift ideas before we put the tree up. All of the sudden it was December 15 and Yahoo kept advertising last minute gifts. Last minute! Last minute!? I went from ahead of the game to behind-big time. All of this while still figuring out what to do about our Christmas cards/pics, the Center's Christmas cards, newsletter, and the training of my new Asst. Director. Oh, and then Shane came to me and requested that I encourage him to work more hours as a security guard (more than the 16 extra hours he already puts in each week) and that he'd signed up to work the two remaining Sundays before Christmas. I was still in denial that he'd be working Christmas Eve Night & Day.
I didn't have suicidal thoughts, but I did wish that I could just disappear, just not exist at all. On my good days I tried to figure out how to stop the world so I could catch up, so even my good days were defeated from the start.
I thought my chaotic life was apparent to all-I was late to work, forgot about details of plans, had to decline several worthy invitations to great parties, and possibly complained too much to all around me. I've since been told that I covered it well, but I still don't know how.
What saved me in the middle of the muck and mire was cutting out those parties, correcting the notion I'd given Shane that getting out of debt was my #1 priority (it's #2 or #3, after good mental health!), and compromising on projects that weighed me down. The absolute reprieve came from the two or so weeks I had off work for the Christmas & New Year's holiday. Especially the time after Christmas was over.
Now its almost mid January and I've been back to work, school, kids activities, and so on for a week or two. Am I back to insanity? Nope-quite the opposite, actually. I finally feel peaceful even when my day seems crazy. I'm excited about how God is working to help me feel that peace. I'm excited about how I'm spending my time. Jesus isn't doing my dishes, but I'm doing them with gladness.
Here's what happened-over the break, I relaxed and did fun things. We made cookies, those cinnamon rolls (13 pans of them!), I took naps with no guilt, I read a book-fiction!-and enjoyed my children. I decluttered big time. Big Time. I paced myself. I washed my dishes every night. No piling up. I reworked the kids' chores. I gathered up my favorite devotional books to go with my One Year Bible. I started the One Year Bible early so I'd have some days to play with. I started using the prayer journal our other Center gave me for Christmas to make a great daily prayer list. I've listened to Nancy Leigh DeMoss for inspiration along the way. We made our Dave Ramsey plan budget. I prayed for God to really show me how to live out each day in peace. I wanted my heart to be peaceful even if one of the babies pooped all over her clothes as I was walking us all out the door for work.
Work days are my hardest days-I wake up feeling rushed. Hurry and exercise, hurry and shower, hurry and get the kids' on task so they can start school. Hurry and do school, hurry and make lunch, hurry and eat and get ready to leave and don't forget anything. I finally wised up and moved school around so we have a lighter load on work days. I also got firm about no extras on school mornings-the girls can't check their email, make a fairy on the Disney site or start a coloring project-it's school, lunch, work only.
Before the break, I was deficient in downtime. I'd not finished a book or sewn or been creative in any ways. I've now built that into my evenings and weekends. I don't know how-I just am making time for it. I sewed yesterday-finishing three slings, hemming a robe for one of the girls, and even attacked my mending pile. I loved it! I'm reading another great Alton Gansky mystery book and considering learning to knit or starting a quilt. Shane and I picked up our Night Light for Parents Devotional again and we're focused a little more on family meals around the table. We've geocached and put together the telescope...you get the idea.
As for that internal peace-I just have to keep praying it in each day. I was frustrated this week during the 4-H Project Show preparations, but I wasn't feeling defeated. That's HUGE! I rushed kids 20 minutes away twice, once after work and before karate, then again 2 days later right before karate class. We were cramming it in, but I was calm and peace filled the whole time. Praise the Lord!
I'll keep you all updated-I'm keeping a little paper journal jotting down my good days, frustration days and defeated days. I'm praying for Satan to not steal any more from our family and that I might stay focused on the Prince of Peace instead! That name for Jesus never had so much meaning for me as now. God is so good!