Grace and Peace

Grace and Peace

Today I woke up at 8:25… long after Robert got all the kids up and ready.  Long after he fought with them to get dressed and eat their breakfast.  Long after he took them to school as he does each and every morning.

I woke up in a sort of panic… saddened that I had slept through the hardest part of the day.  Saddened that I didn’t take part in being my husband’s helper.

You see, he was being sacrificial… as he is so much of the time.  He knows that when I don’t sleep well, I struggle through the day.  So, he was allowing me to get the sleep that I needed… despite what he had to do without me.

The guilt quickly soaked in as I sat on the edge of my bed this morning.  I felt that I had failed him as a wife, and I felt I had failed my kids.  You see, this isn’t an uncommon thing.  I am NOT a morning person and I tend to sleep as late as I can.  Robert does so much every. single. morning.  And that reality hit me like a ton of bricks.  It hurt.

I immediately started texting and calling my beloved, apologizing for my lack of parenting.  I felt so bad… I wanted to somehow make it up to him.  I want to be the wife and mother that other moms are.  I feel like I miss the mark so much of the time.

You see, I expect perfection out of myself… as a mom and as a wife.  When I miss the mark (which I do often), I automatically begin to speak death over myself.  I speak words that should not be spoken over anyone.  I would never tell my friend that they are a failure when they mess up, but I often tell myself that.

While I was doing that to myself this morning, the word “grace” kept rolling over me like a wave.  Grace.  Grace.  Grace.  That word.  It takes the weight off my shoulders.  It takes the knot out of my stomach.  And it brings peace.

Jesus came because of the sin that so entangles us, and He brought life to replace the death that we deserve.  Because of His GRACE, we can live this world with freedom.  Not chains.  Chains are from the enemy, not from Jesus.

So instead of focusing on all that I did wrong, I can replace that with freedom and grace.  Instead of focusing on where I screwed up, I can focus on how I can serve my family now.  I am not perfect.  I will miss the mark time and time again, but I desire to serve my family because I love them.  It’s not too late.  His mercies are new every morning.

I have come a long way.  Six months ago, I would have sat in the ugliness of how much I messed up.  Instead, I am moving forward and living in the Grace that He gives every single minute of every single day.  His Grace is made perfect in my weakness.​

Today, I am going to focus on how I can love and serve my family, and live by the Grace that He gives.

Weight, Health, and Re-framing My Thoughts

weight, health, and reframing my thoughts

Today has been a roller coaster of emotions, and it’s only 1:00.

This morning was really good.  I can’t really go into specifics right now, but I am hopeful about some things.

Then, I went to the doctor.  My appointment was pretty routine… talked about meds, if we feel like they are working (yes), and if we need to make any changes (no).  I came out of there with a coupon to save me money on one of them (yay!), but with the knowledge that my weight has gone up even more.  I feel like I’m at a point in which I can just eat a cookie and I gain 5 pounds.

I’m not sure what’s going on there, but I came home feeling very hopeless in this area.  I spent a few hours talking with friends and just crying.  I want so badly to be where I was weight-wise a year ago.

Through talking with a very wise (and much younger!) cousin of mine, I realized that I wasn’t happy with my weight even at that time. She reminded me that if I’m unhappy with myself right now, I won’t be happy with myself if I lose weight.  I need to love myself where I am.

It’s not a bad thing to want to be healthy.  It’s not even a bad thing to want to be in a healthy weight-range.  What IS unhealthy is focusing on it, obsessing with it, and making it all that I think about… which is where I am today.

So I realized that I needed to spend some time re-framing my thoughts.

After seeing my weight this morning, my thoughts were NOT self-compassionate.  They were things like “I am getting fat,” “I feel hopeless about ever being at a healthy weight again,” “I am not pretty at my current weight,” “I feel worthless.”

I’m changing my thoughts to “I am doing a great job eating mostly whole foods,” “It’s important to focus on health, not weight,” “I am beautiful no matter my weight,” “I CAN be at a healthy weight, it just might take time because I’m doing it the healthy way,” “I am okay right now, where I am.”

I also decided that I need to focus on what I’m doing RIGHT, and how I can gain control of my health with-out doing anything drastic AND without making a certain weight a goal.

Some things that I’m doing right: 1) I have green smoothies most days for breakfast, 2) I make most things homemade (with whole grains), 3) I use mostly natural sweeteners, 4) I eat mostly whole foods, 5) We rarely eat out, 6) I DO have more balance than I think.

Some things that I can work on to benefit my health: 1) Drink enough water each day, 2) Do some form of exercise each day: walking, biking, yoga, etc (I can’t run right now because I’m having foot problems), 3) Add in more nourishing foods, 4) Cut down my sugar in-take (maybe cut down the amount of coffee I drink, because let’s be real, I will never stop putting sugar in my coffee).

I was reminded this morning that I need to have internal motivation, not external.  I will never be mentally/emotionally/physically healthy if I am externally motivated.

So my goal is to be healthy, feel good, have more energy, be able to do the things that I love (backpacking, hiking, etc), and to be mentally/emotionally healthy.

I will probably need to re-read this post every day until I believe every word that I just wrote :-).  One day at a time, right?

Ending 2014 and Coming Into a New Year

new year

I didn’t start this year thinking it would be rough.  In fact, I started this year with great hopes and expectations.  I wrote this post on my old blog: Change of Word for Year 2014.

Things quickly went down hill as I went back to work after the Christmas break.  I fell quickly.  The expectations that were put on me by myself and my employers had me sinking with anxiety and depression.  Finally, I couldn’t even get out of bed.  I had a major panic attack that landed me in the ER.  They suggested that I go into the hospital, and I’m so glad I did.

After I got out of the hospital, I went through so much in my recovery, including learning that I am Bipolar II, understanding what that means for me, learning to be grateful despite the hard times, and becoming stable in my illness as I found the right meds and worked through my recovery in Celebrate Recovery and individual counseling.  So much of my processing through this can be found here: March 2014.  March was a big month for me in my recovery.

I thought I was “better” this summer so I jumped right back into teaching.  With-in a month, I went downhill again.  Unfortunately I wasn’t using healthy coping strategies, and I ended up back in the hospital for three weeks.  I didn’t realize how bad I had gotten until I started having panic attacks again.

Since the day I went back into the hospital this November, I have come a long way again.  It has taken a lot of work, but I feel like with the way things are going, 2015 will be much better.

Why do I feel this way?

I have learned who it is that I am.  And I’m beginning to actually like that person.

I use healthy coping strategies now instead of unhealthy ones (a post on this is coming in the future).

I have become content with staying home and taking care of my mental health.

I am on the right medications.

I am trusting that God will work things out for His purposes and glory.  He has done so much in my life, and I know that He will continue.

My expectations of myself have changed.  I do the best I can.  I don’t expect perfection.

I have learned to re-frame my thoughts to be more positive and realistic.  I am learning to change my irrational thoughts to rational ones.  This still takes work on my part, but it’s getting better each day.

Meal Plan, Week of December 15-21

Meal Planning Sundays

For the recipes that I’ve linked to my old blog, you’ll have to scroll down.  Over time, I hope to move them over here!

Breakfasts

Lunches

  • Wraps (turkey, spring mix, avocado, tomato on whole wheat tortilla)
  • Boiled egg, smoked Gouda, broccoli and carrot with hummus, sliced avocado, whole wheat pumpkin banana muffin
  • Peanut Butter and Raw Honey sandwich with veggies and roasted red-pepper hummus
  • Large salad with spring mix, sliced almonds, Trader Joe’s dressing, boiled egg, and raw cheddar
  • Leftovers

Dinners

We keep this simple and frugal!

Monday- Burrito Bowls (brown rice, beans, avocado, tomato, cheese)

Tuesday- Bean and Cheese Tacos (with homemade salsa)

Wednesday- Venison and Bean Chili

Thursday- Leftovers

Friday- Pizza (with Trader Joe’s and Aldi GF dough)

Saturday- Sausage and Peppers, whole wheat (and GF) pasta

Sunday- Breakfast (nitrate free bacon, fried eggs, pancakes, apples)

 

Identity and Peace

gratitude

From the time I was in first grade, all I’ve ever wanted is to be a teacher.  I never had any doubt in my mind about my future.

In high school, I took an early childhood professions class for two years.  In this class, we actually got to work with kids in schools.  It was the right step towards my future.  I just knew I’d be a teacher.

College took me a while to get through… 6 1/2 years in fact.  I loved every minute of it.  Especially my education classes.  I just knew I’d be a teacher.

Then, I graduated.  I got a job as a Special Ed Instructional Aide.  It was in this moment that I saw first hand the reality of teaching. I should have known in this moment that teaching wasn’t necessarily all I had envisioned… but, I thought it was just the school.  So I tried private school.  The private school that I worked at was a great school and it was different than the public school I had worked at, but it was still very difficult.  I tried teaching in a charter school, only to quit mid-year my second year.  Then I worked at an amazing preschool.  This was different than anything I had experienced.  Unfortunately, we needed more money (or so we thought), so back to public school for me!  Then, my anxiety and depression made it almost impossible to handle, so I ended up in the hospital and had to quit mid-year.  Then, this year I tried private school again… only to have the same thing happen that happened last year.

Teaching is HARD.  Whether it be charter, public, or private.  I have spent so many years trying to make it work because “that’s what I’ve always wanted to be.”  I made teaching my identity and felt that if I wasn’t doing that, then I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to do.  This time around, I have discovered that I’ve been wrong all along.

As I look back on the past 8 years (since I graduated), I realize that the only times I have been truly at peace were when I stayed home.  I tried and tried to teach full time for various reasons, but I ALWAYS ended up becoming a stay at home mom.  In those moments, I thought my staying at home was temporary.  I thought I would always end up becoming a full time teacher again.  And several times, that’s what happened.  But I always end up back right where I am right now.

This time is so different.  After trying so hard, so many times, I’m realizing that maybe I’m not this teacher that I have identified myself with for so many years.  For the first time every, really, I have peace with not going back into teaching full time.  I have peace with being a stay at home mom.

So a few things that I’ve learned… my identity isn’t in teaching and the times I’ve been most at peace were/are when I’m home with my babies.

This time around, I’m coming at it completely differently.  I’m looking at things with more long-term eyes.  Instead of just trying to get through financially, we are looking at how we can actually pay off debt despite my not having income.  I’ll probably sub next year, not to hopefully get a full time position out of it, but to just be where my kids are and bring in a little income.  I’m not expecting myself to be perfect with things.  I don’t keep the house spotless, I don’t expect myself to cook/bake every single thing from scratch, and I haven’t gone back to all natural/homemade everything.  I’m being more balanced.

I really feel that all of the counseling I have done over the past few years has helped me to change my view.  Perfectionism and codependency are what used to cloud my mind and decisions.  Now, I look at what will glorify my Father, be best for my mental health, and serve my family best.  I’ve learned how to re-frame my thoughts to be more realistic and not irrational.  I have lots of room for growth in this area, but I’ve come so far.  I really feel that medication has also played a huge part in my extreme ups and downs.  I’m hopeful that the cycle I’ve been stuck in for a long time is broken.

I’ve also spent a lot of time figuring out who it is that I am, what I can do to cope with anxiety (healthy coping skills), and how I can live this life to the fullest.

I’ve come a long way with figuring out my identity, breaking the cycle, and being mentally/emotionally healthy.  Now the goal is to be stable in these areas long-term.

I AM ME, and I AM OKAY

I AM ME
In all the world there is not one exactly like me.
Everything that comes out of me is authentically mine because I choose it…
I own everything about me, my body, my feelings, my
mouth, my voice, all my actions whether they be to others or to myself…
I own my fantasies, my dreams, my hopes, my fears…
I own all of my triumphs and successes, all of my failures and mistakes… because I own all of me.
I become intimately acquainted with me…
by so doing, I can love me and be friendly with me in all my parts…
I know there are aspects about myself that puzzle me and other aspects I do not know…
but as long as I am friendly and loving to myself, I can courageously and hopefully look for solutions to the puzzles and for ways to find out more about me…
however I look and sound whatever I say and do, and whatever I think and feel at a
given moment in time is authentically me…
if later some parts of how I looked, sounded, thought and felt turned out to be unfitting, I can discard that which is unfitting and keep the rest and invest something new for that which is I discard…
I can see, hear, feel, think, say and do.
I have the tools to survive, to be close to others, to be productive, and to make sense and
order out of the world of people and things outside of me…
I own me and therefore I can engineer me…
I am me and I AM OKAY.
Virginia Satir
enough

I have a minute-by-minute battle.  I never feel like I am enough.  Ever.  I read posts like this: “Abandoning the Should” (written by my wonderful counselor), and this: “This Blog is Going to Embarrass My Husband,” and I 100% agree with them, but I struggle with believing them for myself.  I know in my head that God made me the way I am for a reason and a purpose, but I struggle with truly believing it in my heart.

I constantly want to be better.  I am never content with who I am, where I am.  I’m not sure who or what makes me feel that way, but the person that I am is never enough in my eyes.
I desperately want to be comfortable with who I am, right where I am.  Even if I never change.  Even if I stay the way I am right now forever.  I want it to be enough.
My anxiety comes from the expectations that I put on myself… the “shoulds.”  The only way to rid myself from anxiety will be to truly live out realistic expectations and keep those minute-by-minute.  Perfectionism is impossible to attain.  Who am I right now?  Who am I right where I am?  Who am I if I never change?  Who am I if I stay right where I am, today?
I am a passionate person.  When I enjoy something, I put 150% into it. Sometimes this back-fires on me.
I absolutely love to bake.  It literally brings me peace when I’m in my tiny kitchen baking.
I need to have a clean house.  When it is messy and cluttered, my brain feels messy and cluttered.  It has nothing to do with what people think, but has everything to do with my mental health.
I care too much what others think about my tiny house.  I feel that it defines who I am… I struggle with being content with it.  I look around at everyone else in this city and feel that my tiny house makes me “not enough.”  Like a house really matters…
I enjoy cheesy Christmas movies.  I love the smell of Christmas candles.  I start listening to Christmas music in October.  We set up our Christmas tree before Thanksgiving.  Christmas is my favorite.
I need to be outdoors as much as possible.  I love running and bike riding.  I’m not “good” at either, but I don’t care.  Backpacking is something I wish I could do more of.  There’s something amazing about being outdoors in God’s creation.
I love coffee with raw sugar and half and half.  I have to have at least 2-3 cups every morning. My favorite part of the day is drinking coffee and reading my Bible.
I also have an addiction to Sonic Route 44 Coke Zero with lime.  I know how unhealthy it is… and right now, I don’t care.  It’s called balance.  I eat healthy most of the time.
I have lofty goals much of the time.  I made a household notebook and rarely use it.  I planned activities and readings to do with the kids for advent every day, and we haven’t done a good job of keeping up.  I bought Christmas cards and have written maybe a handful.  I haven’t sent them out, either.  I wrote a blog post a couple of days ago about not spending any money, and the next day I took the boys to Chick-Fil-A for lunch.
Robert has to keep my scale hidden or I would weigh myself 5 times a day.  I have an obsession with my weight.  For some reason I feel that if I weigh myself 5 times a day, the scale will go down… Not sure why I do that.  I found the scale while he was gone, and I need to have him hide it again.  When I know how much I weigh, it makes me feel depressed.  It would be best to not know. I want to learn to be okay right where I am… the size that I am.  I may never get back to size 10 and I want to be okay with that.  Because it’s not about size or weight… it’s about mental and emotional health.  Some days I see others losing weight quickly by doing fad diets, using pyramid scheme weight-loss products, etc, and I think about using these strategies… then I realize I would never be able to keep up with something so extreme.  I need to just learn to accept myself even if I never change.  And on that note, if I gave into one of these strategies, I would be going against everything I believe.
I love to play games.  Robert, the kids, and I play games several nights a week.
I love to write even if it doesn’t make sense.  I write for me, not for anyone else.  Sometimes God uses my crazy head to benefit others, and that makes me happy… I believe in being transparent, open, and sharing who I am.  I have found that God uses it for His glory so much of the time.
I love to read but don’t do it enough.  I have several books that I’ve started and not finished.  Sometimes, if the book is good enough, I will read the whole thing in a few hours.  Just depends on my mood.  I love fiction books.  Self-help books are pointless to me much of the time because I can’t live by them.
I have to constantly re-frame my thoughts.  I automatically think in a way that is detrimental to my mental and emotional health, so it takes a lot of work.  I’m hoping that my self-talk will one day be automatically positive.  In the meantime, I have to work hard at it.
Today… I AM ME, and I AM OKAY.
Who Are You?

Meal Plan, Week of December 8-14

Meal Planning Sundays

It has been a while since I’ve posted a meal plan on my blog.  Most weeks we just plan dinners, and we keep it all on our marker board/calendar so it’s difficult to post that.  This week I have decided to plan out some breakfasts and lunches as well because I’ve not be consistent with eating at home (and we can’t afford eating out anymore… on top of the fact that eating out is typically unhealthy).

As usual, the meal plan will be kept simple and frugal.

Breakfasts

  • Peanut Butter Baked Oatmeal (I will use sucanat instead of brown sugar and rolled oats instead of quick-cooking oats)
  • Maple Cinnamon Homemade Granola (on this, I will also use sucanat and all rolled oats)
  • Whole Wheat Pancakes
  • Breakfast Tacos (with venison sausage, egg, and potato) on homemade tortillas
  • Green Smoothie (unsweetened almond milk, frozen banana, frozen mango, kale, and hemp seed)

Lunches

  • Wraps (turkey, spring mix, avocado, tomato on whole wheat tortilla)
  • Boiled egg, smoked Gouda, broccoli and carrot with hummus, sliced avocado, zucchini muffin
  • Peanut Butter and Raw Honey sandwich with veggies and roasted red-pepper hummus
  • Large salad with spring mix, sliced almonds, Trader Joe’s dressing, boiled egg, and raw cheddar
  • Leftovers

Dinners

(Many of these meals we have made up and don’t have recipes posted… If you’re interested in the recipe, let me know!)

Monday- Burrito Bowls (brown rice, beans, avocado, tomato, cheese)

Tuesday- Whole Roasted Chicken and veggies

Wednesday- Tacos with chicken, beans, and cheese (chicken cooked in homemade salsa, then shredded)

Thursday- Chicken Tortilla Soup (with leftover chicken)

Friday- Pizza (with Trader Joe’s and Aldi GF dough)

Saturday- Finger Foods (grass-fed summer sausage, raw cheddar, veggies and hummus, stove-popped popcorn, sliced fruit)

Sunday- Beef and Veggie Stew

Food Prep for the Week

(other than the breakfasts already linked)

Homemade whole wheat bread (I no longer use soy lecithin)

Homemade whole wheat tortillas

Homemade gluten free zucchini banana muffins

Boiled Eggs

Sliced and cut up carrots, broccoli, and bell pepper